Last night I watched the movie “Walk The Line,” again. You are familiar with the story. It’s about the life of country music legend, Johnny Cash.
Early in his life, Johnny had problems with substance abuse. During this time, he meets June Carter Cash and she begins trying to help him get his life together.
In one scene, Johnny and June go to church. They pull up in front of a little white church and you can hear the people singing in the church. Johnny gets out of the car and he’s a little hesitant. He wants to go to church but, he’s not sure about the reception he’s going to get. June recognizes this and reaches out to hold his hand as if to give Johnny reassurance. She says, “it will be ok.”
Johnny Cash is like lots of people who may attend churches this morning. They have problems… some are trying to whip liquor or drugs or gambling.. Some have a marriage that is struggling and they were trying… trying their best to work it out and they have decided to give church a try.
This morning, reach out and encourage someone. Lots of folks, like Johnny Cash… are struggling. Don’t judge. Don’t throw stones. We all need the Lord. We all need some reassurance that it will be “ok.”
Maybe one of the saddest stories in the Bible is that of David and his affair with Bathsheba. Up until David had the affair he had been a great leader of Israel. But, the Bible says that one day when the men were out to war, David saw Bathsheba, sent for her and slept with her. An affair was bad enough but, how David handled things in the aftermath was worse.
When David found out Bathsheba was expecting, he had a choice. He could admit he had sinned or, he could try to cover it up. He did the later. He wasn’t the first to try to cover up sin nor will he be the last. But, that definitely doesn’t make it right.
So, how should we deal with sin? When we sin, we should confess it. To confess it means to admit it. It’s not like we are hiding it from God. God knows our hearts. God knows the CONDITION of our hearts. And hears the good news; God FORGIVES US!
It may be there is some sin in your heart that you have never confessed. Maybe you think it’s too bad. Maybe you think God has never heard of it and wouldn’t know how to deal with it. (sarcasm) But God knows everything we have done.
If David had confessed his sin, he could have been forgiven. Instead, in his attempt to cover up his sin, Uriah was killed. I encourage you, whatever is on your heart… whatever is in your past…. confess it… admit it… and God has said He will forgive.
I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If there is anything in your heart that you have been afraid to confess… do it now.. admit it to God and the Bible says you can be forgiven.
Have you ever been talking with someone and they would describe a worship service they had been in and they would say, “You could feel the Spirit?”
Or, someone may say they were “led by the Spirit” to do a particular thing?
What is the ministry and purpose of the Holy Spirit?
When Jesus was on earth, He told His disciples that when He left them, He would not leave them alone but instead, He would send the Holy Spirit to them. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as an “Advocate.” An advocate is someone who helps you. Then, Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “lead us into all truth.” So, the Holy Spirit is our teacher.
In John 16:8 the Bible says the Spirit will “…convict the world concerning sin…” So, when we invite Christ into our hearts, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts. Then, the Spirit begins working in our lives, sanctifying us and making us more like Christ.
So, the Spirit comes into our hearts at conversion and the Spirit guides us, teaches us and comforts us. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you… you just need to allow the Holy Spirit to control your life. Paul said in Galations 5:22-23, “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness… ” So, if we are led by the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the spirit will be evident in our lives.
You may say, “I want to be filled with the Spirit.” Paul talked about that in Ephesians. He said, “And do not get drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit.” So, everyday, we have to ask the Lord to fill us with the Spirit.
Today, join me and let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us live spirit-filled lives.
Has someone ever hurt you? Has a friend let you down? Have you lost a job? And, I could name many others types of disappointment that we may have experienced. To use a very common phrase today.. at times, life sucks. So what do we do when it does?
In II Samuel 4, there is a story about a son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was crippled as a child. The story is that one day word came that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle. When the child’s nurse heard the news, she picked him up to flee. As she hurried away, she dropped Mephibosheth and he became crippled.
Think about that… someone dropped Mephibosheth. Have you ever been dropped? Have you ever been mistreated? More than likely you have Perhaps you were going somewhere in life, but someone dropped you.
So what do we do when someone drops us?
First, we get up. And yes sometimes it’s tough but, we get up. Last night, I watched the movie “Rudy” again… During one scene Rudy gets hit and hit and hit and hit and hit again, but he keeps getting up. That’s what we have to do… keep getting up.
Second, don’t wallow in self-pity. I’ve done that and I can tell you, it gets you know where.
Third, move forward. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Finally, and this probably should be first… trust the Lord. You may have questions about God. You may wonder why it happened. You may not get answers… but you trust God…
“God is too wise too be mistaken,
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When you don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His heart.”
Have you been dropped? Join the club… lots of people have. But get up, don’t wallow in self-pity, move forward and trust the Lord.
What does following Jesus mean?
What is different about us because we are followers of Christ?
Is it worshiping every week? That’s some of it… worship should be important to us.
Is it giving our money to the church? That’s some of it as well.
And I could name many other things that are part of following Christ. In John 13, Jesus did something that provides an excellent example to us of what living for Christ means; Jesus washed His disciples feet.
In Bible days, washing someone’s feet was the task of a house-servant. It was a menial task. So, when Jesus washed His disciples feet, He was demonstrating for them humble, Christian service.
Part of following Jesus means to humble ourselves and be willing to serve or do whatever is needed. It’s not feeling we are “above” doing something. It’s not feeling we are “too big” to do something.
Years ago, when I was serving Gillsburg Baptist in Osyka, Ms, I had a youth event and invited the youth from FBC Kentwood, LA. Their youth minister was the late, Jim Headrick. Jim was a model for me.
After the event, we went into the fellowship hall for the meal. He and I were talking “minister” stuff. Then, Jim went over and began helping the ladies cut tomatoes for the taco’s. So, there are several ladies from our youth group preparing the meal and in the middle of them is Jim Headrick.. the youth minister from the big church down road.
As I watched this I thought, “What is he doing? I mean, we are supposed to be talking Minister stuff but he’s cutting tomatoes.”
Then, the Lord convicted me; Jim Headrick is doing what I should be doing… helping the ladies prepare for the meal. I’m not too important to do that.”
The Lord used Jim to teach me a lesson that night. None of us are too big or too important to do anything. Jesus set an example for us by washing His disciples feet.
We are living in a time when many people are interested in spirituality but not interested in church. This is not intended to be critical of the church, I’m just repeating what I’ve read. More and more people are not attending a church. But, they are interested in Jesus.
In John’s gospel, the Bible says it was the time of the year for the Passover. Some Greeks had come to Jerusalem for the Passover. They approached Philip and said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus” (John 12:21).
People are still saying that today. They may not be literally saying, “I want to see Jesus” but people are interested in Jesus. Researchers say that they have found lots of interest in Jesus but not much interest in the church.
Jesus was loving.
Jesus was kind.
Jesus was forgiving.
Jesus had divine wisdom.
In January of 2016, Holli and I went to Israel. One night we stayed close to the Sea of Galilee. The next morning, I stood on the balcony of our hotel room and looked toward the Sea of Galilee. As I did, I envisioned Jesus, two-thousand-years ago, talking to His disciples there.
I could hear Jesus telling them to love others and care for others. I could hear Jesus saying that God loves all of us and that we must be forgiving. Then, I fast-forwarded the tape to today.
I doubt seriously that today’s religious climate is what our Lord would have wanted. Obviously, this is just my opinion. Today we have… who knows how many denominations? Today, we have numerous churches that have started due to a split with another church.
This world wants to… needs to… see Jesus. They aren’t interested in a church squabble or someone arguing over doctrinal differences. They want to see Jesus and, my Christian friend, we are the only Jesus some will ever see.
In the last year or so, I was in a convenience store and the store clerk was a young man. His name tag read, “Lazarus.” I thought, “you don’t see many folks with the name ‘Lazarus.'” I was tempted to but, since there was a line of people behind me I didn’t get into a theological discussion but I did ask, how he got the name. I figured his mother was a Christian and named her son after Lazarus in the Bible. Well, I didn’t get the response I was expecting.
The young man said, “It’s just an old family name.”
I admit, I was kind of surprised. I wanted to say, “So, you just happen to come from a family where lots of folks are named Lazarus?” But I didn’t.
Even if a person isn’t extremely familiar with the Bible they have possibly heard about Lazarus. He was the brother of Mary and Martha whom Jesus raised from the dead.
Lazarus resurrection convinced many people skeptical about Jesus that He was the Messiah. After all, folks don’t rise from graves. So Lazarus resurrection proved that was the Messiah.
Jesus is still raising people from the dead. I don’t mean in a literal sense… but symbolically… spiritually. Jesus raises us and frees us from a lifestyle of sin.
Jesus raises the person in bondage to drugs.
Jesus raises the person in bondage to alcohol. Every now and then I will see a Facebook post where someone says, “…. of days of sobriety.” They have been raised from the bondage of alcohol.
It may be that you are struggling with some personal demon. Maybe you have a habit that you struggle with. Maybe there are some lifestyle issues that you are struggling with. There is hope for you even though you may think there isn’t. Just as Jesus brought Lazarus from the grave, He could help us overcome any issue we face.