The Story

Many of us in life long for something better to reassure us in tough times.  Think of the movies we like best, the books we read over and over again, or perhaps a favorite comic book.  In most cases they lead us on an adventure, they remind us of the greatest ideals of love, or that good will triumph over evil for that moment and we have hope that this triumph will last forever.

Try to think of a time you decided to reread the newspaper.  It is probably not often, if ever, because the majority of the news is bad and we are reading for information and not so much to make a connection.  The emotions most have after reading the newspaper are anger, frustration, and sadness.  These will not lift our spirits and change our lives for the better.

There is within each of us a desire for something better.  In our heart of hearts we long deeply for life to be different for a change. We want to see good win over evil, even if it is only temporary.  We want to believe that death is not the end, and the story has a happy ending with a hero.  This story is one about pure and sacrificial love.  We need this story to remind us that no matter what life holds for us there is hope beyond all things, that there is more to this life that what we can see.  We come to this story to remind us of a home and a land far away.  It is a place beyond this life.

Let me invite you to spend less time with your head in a newspaper, and more time believing the story.  Oh, you did know it was true?  Gather in my friends this truly is a wonderful story that will take you on a journey.  It is a story filled with difficulty and disappointments but it is also a story of love, hope, peace, of good and evil locked in an epic battle, but this time good will win.  Good will win once and for all.  This is a story worth hearing and worth reading every day to remind us of what is really true.  There really is good news.  This is the greatest story ever told and found in the Bible.

The Sixth Sign-The Healing of the Man Born Blind-Jul. 25, 2012

The Sixth Sign-The Healing of the Man Born Blind-July 25, 2012

Scripture:  John 9:1-41

The sixth sign story begins much like the other healing accounts.  Jesus was either on his way somewhere or passing by.  It may be that too often we forget to look for the miraculous in our midst.  We want the skies to part and everything to be plain and obvious.  Jesus by his very nature is both God and man, and so we often forget to seek his presence in daily living.  We seem more concerned with special things where we feel like we can invite the Spirit of God.  This sign points out we may very well miss the big signs because we are not preparing our eyes to see the everyday examples in our lives.  This spiritual blindness is far worse than the physical blindness of this man.

I do not know if by just seeing the man one could tell he was blind from birth, but Jesus knew.  The disciples are still learning just as we, his disciples today, are still learning.  They ask a question, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”  In our time do we ever try to ask or find out why people are in the condition that they are in?  We may or may not label it sin, but often we try to find out the back story and what is going on rather than looking at it through God’s eyes.  Jesus’ response was neither sinned, but the work of God would be displayed in him.  In spiritual blindness as we shall soon see, they are far more concerned with the question of sin, and the perceived wrong doing by the healer, rather than the glory of God manifest in this sign.  They also miss the joy in celebrating with this man his restoration.

Jesus spit on the ground and made mud and put it over the man’s eyes and instructed him to wash in the pool of Siloam.  And when he did as Jesus told him to, the man came back with his sight restored.  The neighbors asked each other wasn’t that guy the beggar?  Some said yes, and others said no it just looks like him, but he continued to say that he was the one.  So then they ask, “How is it that you can see?”  A good question, but do they really want the answer or just some way to try to refute the evidence of the miracle?  The man recounts the story and then they ask him where Jesus is and he told them that he didn’t know.

Division will often arise in situations where we are confronted with seeing and understanding Christ as He is and not just our toned down versions of Him.  Those versions that make Jesus to be more like us, so it is easier for us to claim Him and not have to change our lives or perceptions too much.  The people were confused so they brought the man to the Pharisees.  It was the Sabbath.  They ask him a few questions, what actually happened, the man’s version gets shorter.  He put mud on my eyes, I washed in out, and now I see.  The crunch or crises of belief comes when some of the Pharisees say, if He is from God why didn’t He kept the Sabbath, and others said how could a sinner perform such signs?  And there was division among them.  Division comes when we want to rationalize away the glory of God in our presence.  Jesus is perhaps the most polarizing person who has ever lived.  He is either God’s Son and worthy of worship or we trust ourselves, our ideas, and in so doing we are practically calling Him a liar.

So they ask the man, and He said, “He is a prophet.”  Then the Pharisees start reaching by saying maybe he was not born blind.  So they Pharisees seek out the man’s parents.  They ask, “Is this your son who was born blind?  How does he now see?”  Their response blows my mind.  They say yes he is our son and born blind, but how he sees we don’t know, he is a man and can speak for himself.  They did this because they were afraid of the Pharisees (the religious leaders), because anyone confessing Jesus to be Christ will be put out of the synagogue (church).  So this begs a very basic question can we find Jesus outside of the church?  On a sad note here is a man who has never physically seen his parents and this miracle should be a cause for celebration and joy for him and his family.  Yet they are involved in a church fight concerning his healing.  Another question, did Jesus do work on the Sabbath by making mud to put on his eyes, by healing, or did the man work by going and washing it off?

The Pharisees try to bully the man to label Jesus a sinner.  Remember at the beginning of this story it was the disciples who had questions about the sin of this man or his parents and Jesus points them to God’s glory.  Now in verse 24 the glory of God is evidence before the Pharisees but they would not accept the way God worked.  The man said, He didn’t know if Jesus was a sinner or not, but the fact is I was blind and now I see.

They ask the man again how Jesus did it.  Although the text does explicitly say I imagine he is getting a little frustrated at this point.  He then says to them, I told you once, did you not listen; why do you want to hear it again?  So it seems that the Pharisees are spiritually blind and also spiritual deaf. “You don’t want to become His disciples too, do you?”  This would have been considered a huge insult.  They saw Jesus as a heretic and blasphemous, and now to suggest that they would be His disciples was more than they could take.  The Pharisees took his statement as admitting he was a disciple, and then they say they are disciples of Moses because we know that God has spoken to Moses; but as far as Jesus goes we do not know where He is from.

The man then condemns the Pharisees by their own arrogance.  They claim to have the answers in matters concerning faith and God.  He says to them, this is amazing you are supposed to be so smart and connected to God and don’t know where He is from and yet He opened my eyes.  We know that God does not hear sinners, but only those that fear Him and do His will.  Since the beginning of time there has never been an instance of a person being born blind receiving sight.  If He was not from God, He could do nothing.  Their answer is a cop-out.  You were born in sin, and you think you can teach us?  So they threw him out of the synagogue.  This issue of sin is the same one the disciples had but the Pharisees could not see the sign was from God.  The disciples learned from this example the Pharisees fell back on an accepted answer concerning sin, and so now but this man and Jesus were considered sinners.  Not bad company to have, thankfully God is the one who gets to decide.

Jesus heard what happened and found the man, and asked him did he believe in the Son of Man?  The man answered, who is He?  Jesus says, you have seen Him and are talking to Him.  He is seeing, hearing, and believing something the Pharisees could not do.  The man believed and worshiped Him.  Jesus then says He came to give sight to those that couldn’t see and that those that can see would be blind (spiritually).  Some of the Pharisees that were there asked Him, “What?  Are we blind too?”  He tells them if they were blind they would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.  If they were blind (spiritually or ignorant) then they would not be in sin but since they claim to have sight (or insight) and missed the miracle of the glory of God, they have brought sin upon themselves.

Vacation Bible School-Shine God’s Light-Jul. 22, 2012

Vacation Bible School-Shine God’s Light-July 22, 2012

The V.B.S Theme was Shine God’s Light!  In the morning service we basically had another time of V.B.S. worship.  I only shared a few verses of scripture.  No long sermon.  Here is a list and I will emphasize two.

Isaiah 2:5-let us walk in the light of the Lord

Matthew 5:16-let your light shine before men

John 8:12-he said, “I am the light of the world.”

I John 1:7-But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 Peter 2:9-But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who call you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

If we walk in the light, then we are walking with him and fellowship with one another.  This fellowship is because of our mutual walking with him and the sacrifice of Jesus.  Peter reminds us that we are a chosen people, belonging to God to praise God for calling us out of the darkness into his wonderful, marvelous light.  As you walk together in the world, shine God’s light!