Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who do you call?

I recently delivered a message at the Combined Service of my Church (spoken in English and Translated into Mandarin and Cantonese). This message was entitled “Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?”

Combined services are always interesting to be a part of and this one was also interesting for many reasons. For one thing when the translator and I stepped up to the pulpit to deliver the message we had a visitor hiding underneath the cavernous shelf and open area of the pulpit, staring wide-eyed and sheepish like right back us.

In all my years of delivering God’s Word to people I have never experienced such a surprise as that. It was hilarious to see one of the children from the Children’s choir that had just finished singing a beautiful song before the message.

Apparently when they were done and filing off the stage this little guy ducked in and hid underneath the pulpit where he was comfortably hanging out when we stepped up.
Now, I’m so tall that I didn’t even notice he was down there at first, and I began my opening remarks in English and quickly realized that my partner was busy doing other things and my comments needed to wait. He was bent over with his head inside the opening trying to coax the little guy out. It was very funny!

Eventually one of the ladies from the audience came up and reached in, grabbed the little guy, and swooped him out of the auditorium as we all not only got a good laugh but many of us wondered if God will use this experience in his life to prepare him to be a dynamic preacher of the Gospel someday…who knows, it could happen.

Anyway, since it was a combined service there is a transcript of the message, which I’ve posted here.

It seems like I’m going back to this passage of scripture more and more these days in conversations with people who in many ways feel like they are at the end of their rope.
My prayer is that this message will serve as an encouragement to you today, whether you are at the end of your rope or at the top of your game...Call on Jesus!

Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?

Today we are going to look at a passage of scripture that has a lot going on in terms of perspectives and beliefs and traditions and assumptions. It’s a pretty incredible passage of scripture that I think will help us realize that our God is powerful and loving and high above whatever we can ask or think…He is indescribable!

The main question I’d like for us to ponder today is “Who do you call?”
* Who do you call when life is tough?
* Who do you call when you need answers?
* Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?

As we dive into this passage that’s what we’re going to see lived out before us. Two different people from different walks of life answering the question “who do you call?” with the risky answer for them…Jesus!

Luke 8:40-56 is the passage we’ll be looking at and before we read it I’d like to give a little context so we can fully appreciate what is happening here.
In Luke 8:40-56…
* We see a double miracle take place
* This section is the third in a series of extraordinary miracles leading up to Peter’s Confession of who Jesus really is in Luke 9
* In Luke 8:22-25 – Jesus demonstrates His power over nature as He rebukes the wind and the waves and then asks His disciples a pointed question, “Where is your faith?”
* In Luke 8:26-37 – Jesus demonstrates His authority over disease and demons by casting the legion out of the demon possessed man. After being freed of his shackles the man begged to go with Jesus but He told him to stay and tell his story all across the region where he lived.
* So, after these two incredible miracles Jesus and His disciples get back into the boat and went across the water to the other side.
o I wonder if the disciples were able to answer Jesus’ question from their previous trip on the water.
o I wonder if their faith had grown by seeing what He did then and what He had just done for the demon possessed guy.
o Well, if there was any doubt in their minds that Jesus was God it was about to be removed by these next encounters they we’re going to witness
o I also wonder if what happens next “sealed the deal” in Peters mind and caused him to respond to Jesus’ question “who do you say I am?” Peter responded “The Son of God”

Let’ read Luke 8:40-56 and see if we can get a sense of what Jesus is doing, the disciples are thinking, the Ruler of the Synagogue is willing to risk to save His daughter, and the Woman with the blood issue was willing to risk to be healed.

Let’s realize that when they were at the “end of their rope” they called on Jesus!

Luke 8:40-56
40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.  As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,[a] but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.  48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”  49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Wow, that’s a powerful passage isn’t it? As I read this there are a few questions that come to my mind that I would like for us to process as we seek to apply the truths found here to our lives…
* Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?
* What typically stands in your way from taking your issues to Jesus?
* Is your view of God too small?
* Do you really believe that God has the power to handle what you’re going through?
* Jesus is not bound by our time frames, or rules or traditions or anything that we have set up as a belief system…Do you really believe that?

So, with those questions in mind let’s break down what’s happening and trust God to help us apply to our lives today.
* In verse 40 we see that Jesus returned to their area (we know he just returned from healing the demon possessed guy).
* A large crowd had gathered to greet him as they were expecting Him
o As in any crowd I’m sure there were genuine truth seekers, true believers and outright skeptics present that day
o Picture the scene with everyone pressing in and crowding around Jesus
o His reputation had definitely preceded Him at this point in His ministry
o I wonder what the disciples are thinking as they are witnessing this incredible scene.
* Then a man named Jairus who was a synagogue ruler and had a sick daughter came and fell at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house and heal her
o Being a synagogue ruler meant that Jairus was an administrative officer of the synagogue most likely in charge of organizing the worship services of the synagogue, and probably a member of the committee of Elders…He was highly respected in his field.
o I think it’s interesting that Jairus was willing to risk pretty much everything to call on Jesus because his daughter was dying.
o I wonder if Jairus called on other means before he decided to call on Jesus.
o I wonder if he tried doctors, religious leaders and traditional means in order to heal his beloved little girl.
o I think we can safely say that He was at the end of his rope, and He called on Jesus.
o Who do you call?
* Well, Jesus hears Jairus and agrees to go with him, which to me is also amazing because Jairus’ assumption was basically “Jesus has to go with me to my house to physically heal my daughter”, when in reality all he had to do was think it and it was done.
* Jairus was so compelled to call on Jesus that he was willing to do whatever it took
So, as Jesus and Jairus are making their way through the crushing crowd another person who was at the end of her rope emerges from the crowd the meet Jesus.
* This woman was struggling with some sort of blood issue for the last 12 years of her life. This kind of condition not only damaged her physical health, it also meant that she was ceremonially unclean and severely limited her participation in the religious activities of her society and most likely made her a social outcast among her people.
* Scripture says that she tried to find healing but no one could help her, so I think we can safely say that she was at the end of her rope
* I wonder who she called for those 12 brutally difficult years.
* I wonder how she felt after returning from the doctors, the religious leaders, the traditional means or wherever she went to find healing.
* Whatever she felt like she was compelled to follow through on her assumption that said “all I have to do is touch the edge of his cloak and I’ll be healed.” So that’s what she did
o By the way, Israelites wore tassels on the 4 corners of their robes, so maybe that’s what she touched, or it could have been that she touched the hem or the edge of his cloak, but whatever it was it worked! She was healed instantly!
o Then Jesus stops and asks “who touched Me?” which is kind of funny because He’s in the middle of a crushing crowd
o He knew that a person compelled by faith, driven by belief that Jesus alone had the power had just made contact with Him and it stopped Him in His tracks!
o Is that you today? Are you at the end of your rope? Have you tried everything to fill the void in your life and have come up empty? Let’s take a lesson from this woman and reach out and call on Jesus today!
o Jesus addresses her very affectionately by calling her “daughter” and tells her to go in peace, which indicates a sense of spiritual wholeness which the word Shalom also conveys.
Wow, that’s pretty incredible as well isn’t it?
* I wonder how long that encounter took. Which I’m sure if Jairus was with us today He would be able to tell us to the second, because while Jesus is dealing with this woman the clock is ticking and his little girl is creeping closer and closer to death’s door.
* In verse 49 while Jesus was dealing with this other issue (from Jairus’ perspective) Someone came and told Jairus the news that any parent never wants to hear…”Your daughter is dead” don’t bother Jesus anymore.
* If you’re Jairus what are you thinking at this moment?
* You took a risk, stepped out in faith, secured the attention of Jesus but because He stopped off to help someone else, someone who was religiously unclean, and a societal outcast now your child is dead!
* We don’t know what he was feeling or thinking but we do know that Jesus told him not to be afraid and to believe and they set out towards his home.
* We don’t know how far it was to his house but I wonder what that conversation looked like? I wonder what the disciples were thinking. I wonder what Jairus was feeling?
Well, they get to the house and there were people wailing  and mourning the loss of this little girl.
* Some of the mourners are family members and friends and others are professional mourners who have gathered to help out with the mourning which was a traditional act of support to make sure there was a large crowd gathered when someone passed away.
* Jesus shows His power and authority over death when He tells the crowd to stop weeping! Which shows us incredible insight into His perspective?
o To us – Death is the end
o To Jesus – It’s no big deal, He’s bigger than death!
* The people laughed and mocked Him But he took the little girl by the hand and told her to GET UP, and she did!
Now that’s incredible story, a double miracle within the context of 3 extraordinary situations that showed God’s power over Nature, Disease, Demons and even Death!
* I think the main characters could answer confidently from that point on that calling on Jesus is the only way to go
* I also think that these series of events along with many other ones that Peter was an eye witness to serve to solidify Peter’s belief that Jesus truly is the Son of God

How about you today?
* How do these miracles apply to you?
* Are you at the end of your rope?
* My prayer is that you set aside all the things that have traditionally stopped you from calling on Jesus to help you.
o If it’s Pride which says “I think I can handle my own problems” realize that in our own strength we’ll fail every time - call on Jesus
o If it’s excuses which are based on feelings of inadequacy or guilt or whatever put them aside and call on Jesus
o If you think you have to have God all figured out before you can trust Him please realize that we need to have faith that He is God and take Him at His word – Call on Jesus
o In relationships – Call on Jesus
o In your family life – Call on Jesus
o In your career – Call on Jesus
o In your finances – Call on Jesus
At the end of your rope and at the top of your game, In every situation in life every single day – Call on Jesus
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you today that you are a God has power over Nature and Disease and Demons and even Death! There is nothing that intimidates you or causes you to tremble.
I praise you that you are the God of Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You are the God of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and wonder of wonders you are the same God we serve today! You are indescribable, and I just want to tell you we love you.
We love you for who you are, we love you for what you’ve done and we love you for what you are doing even right now in our midst.
Lord, I’m sure there are some brothers and sisters here today that feel like they are at the end of their rope. God, would you let them know that you are right there with them just a call away.
You’re always ready and willing to answer your people when we call on you in Faith, help us to do that today. The situations we face on a daily basis sometimes seem overwhelming but thank you that we serve a God who has overcome the overwhelming.
Help us Lord to leave this place closer to you than when we came in, help us to shine our light in a dark world letting all we come in contact with know that Jesus is the Way, Jesus is the truth and Jesus is the life! I ask these things in Jesus’ name Amen





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