Sunday, February 19, 2006

Don't Loose Hope

Here it is - make it a better one. Brrr.. its cold --- Yeah!

Lk. 13:10-17 The text in Luke gives three reasons why there is hope for me.
I. Jesus Notices And Cares About My Pain. That’s why there’s hope for me.
II. Jesus Is Powerful Enough To Heal My Affliction. That’s why there’s hope for me.
III. Jesus Will Explain That Satan, Not God, Is The Cause of All Misery We Encounter. Therefore, I can hope in God. Truth be told, there are probably many here this hour dealing with unresolved hurt. Pain in their lives over something that is still lingering to this very day. Maybe it is the loss of a loved one. Perhaps a broken relationship. Possibly a failure in the workplace, or a moral indiscretion in your life, or simply letting someone down. It could be you’ve recently received some bad news. Whatever be the case, one thing is certain—unless hurts are dealt with, they will haunt you for the rest of your life. When we let the hurt linger, we open the door to resentment—resentment toward others, ourselves, even God. And often, instead of dealing with the hurt immediately, we have the tendency to hide it away, ignore it, and try to never deal with it. What is likely to happen is that we begin that process we begin that hour to live lives of regret, resentment, and remorse - spiritual collapse.

The problem comes when we try and resolve hurts and disappointments in ways other than God intended. Some people try and resolve their pain in tangible things. Sometimes it’s alcohol, cigarettes, drugs. Sometimes it is in shopping—you know, go on a shopping binge. It could be that, it’s a cleaning binge. You know, you get so mad, you’ve just gotta clean something. Or maybe it’s a drive, or a golf outing, or all kinds of different things. (some of which are not wrong in and of themselves) But when you try and substitute your own method of resolving hurts, painful disappointments, you will never resolve them, only postpone them.

Read Luke 13:10-17

Bum Phillips, professional football coach once made the comment, "There are two types of coaches in the NFL: them that have been fired, and them that are gonna be fired." His statements applies to our topic today as well. There are two types of people in the world. Those who have been hurt, and those who will be hurt. We can’t escape it. Neither can we avoid it. At some time or another, we’ll all get damaged. When you make a commitment to follow Christ, you don’t receive an exemption from receiving demonic devilish damage. Source “Hope For Those Who Hurt” by Steve May.

Even though all of us will experience hurts, sometimes very deep hurts, in life, we do not have to lose hope. And hope is a recurrent melody throughout the Bible. When Eve lost Able, hope of righteousness was revived in Seth. When the world became corrupt, hope for man was reestablished through Noah. When it appeared all humanity had fallen again into the clutches of paganism and idolatry, hope was found in the faith of Abraham and promises given to him which offered not only him hope, but the entire race of humankind until the end of the world. When Abraham’s descendants seemed to be forgotten in a foreign land, hope came about through a man called Moses, who reminded us that there was one coming after him who was greater than he. When it appeared that the cause of deliverance was lost, hope was manifested in the parting of the Red Sea. Even after the conquest of the land of Promise, and every man doing that which was right in his own eyes, God offered hope by protecting his future through Judges, kings and divine intervention. When his people faltered on their part of the divine contract, (you obey I’ll bless) the holy spirit offered hope, through the prophets, to those in captivity promising to return the faithful remnant to the land which was promised. And after 400 years of silence, hope was revived when they heard ‘a voice in the wilderness’ preaching, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his path straight.” After all the miracles, teachings, and divine activity, man betrayed and killed the Hope of glory. But you can’t kill divine hope. Hope ascended in no less than three days as a mighty angel rolled the stone away and the Son of God came forth to sit on the right hand of God where he intercedes for you and me this very hour giving us hope. Jesus offers hope to the hurting. May we all be encouraged this hour - regardless of our seemingly hopeless situation, God knows how to offer HOPE!

The text in Luke gives three reasons why there is hope for me.
I. Jesus Notices And Cares About My Pain. That’s why there’s hope for me.
II. Jesus Is Powerful Enough To Heal My Affliction. That’s why there’s hope for me.
III. Jesus Will Explain That Satan, Not God, Is The Cause of All Misery We Encounter. Therefore, I can hope in God.

Before I begin to explain and expound these three reasons as they are found in our Scripture text today, I want to briefly explain this woman’s condition. In verse 11 the Bible says that she was crippled, bent over and could not straighten up at all and that she had been this way for eighteen years.

Medically, this disease is probably what physician’s today would call Marie-Strümpell Disease, a fusion of the spinal bones. Early in the course of the disease, sufferers often find that the pain is relieved somewhat when they lean forward. So they often go through the day leaning slightly forward, and gradually their spine begins to fuse. The more they lean, in order to relieve the pain, the greater the angle, until a patient might be bent almost double, as the lady in our story. Source: Healing the Woman with a Bent Back by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

What a terrible disease! Wreaking havoc on every aspect of her life: physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, etc. Her hurts and bondage is symbolic of all of our hurts and needs. We are doubled over by our pain, disappointments, and grieved by our sins. The way Jesus responded to her dilemma is the way we can expect Him to respond to ours.

There is hope for me because…

I. Jesus Notices And Cares About My Pain. Verses 10-12 One of the first things I want you to observe in these verses is that Jesus was not indifferent to the hurt, pain and despair which this woman was experiencing. She did not go unnoticed by Jesus. He has an eye for the hurting. He noticed and called to her even though there is no record that she ever approached him. He reached out to her in the midst of her pain because He is aware and concerned with her hurts as well as all of our struggles.

This was not a typical way to conduct the synagogue service! Jesus response to her was not socially expected or even accepted. Women in that culture were generally thought little of and usually ignored. Why then did Jesus take notice of her and make a point to respond to her need immediately and publicly? Is it not because Jesus notices and cares about people in pain! He has great compassion on those who are burdened, depressed, overwhelmed, and often ignored by people in general.

Yes, Jesus cares for all people but those who were hurting always seemed to receive special attention and responses from Him. In New Testament times women, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and widows were the most oppressed, ignored, hurting, and hopeless of people yet these are the very people to whom Jesus ministered most often and most powerfully. Why? It is just his nature: Jesus Notices And Cares for Hurting People.

You do not ever need to think that Jesus is unaware of your situation or unmoved by your tears (Psa. 56:8). If he numbered every hair on my head he knows every tear which has fallen from my eye. Jesus is not indifferent to your pain. Some people have an erroneous idea that God does not take personal and emotional interest in us petty humans. This just isn’t the truth. Jesus expressed compassion for the hurting on numerous occasions and He is the perfect expression of God the Father. Through His life we know that God cares deeply for hurting people. You may not understand many things that you are going through or why your prayers appear to be unheard but you can be confident that God notices and cares about your pain. Even when Paul was in great distress he could offer hope to the troubled Corinthian church - 2 Cor. 1:3-4. God doesn’t just have compassion, He designed compassion. God doesn’t just comfort us; HE IS COMFORT.

Since we have a Lord who notices the hurting and has compassion on the burdened, we have the responsibility to do the same! We should not be indifferent to the hurting or unresponsive to the sorrowful and troubled. Hurting people should not be an afterthought in our prayers or our daily lives rather they should be our first priority. Verses 14,15

In these two verses we see that Jesus rebuked those who ignored people in despair. This religious leader was more focused on religious rules and maintaining the order of service than in ministering to hurting people. He had no joy, no praise, and no relief at this woman’s healing. Jesus was greatly angered by this uncaring, indifferent response. There is a message for us in this text. Jesus is saying, you can have your praise and worship, teachings, and communion and still be lost. Never forget that hurting people matter to God. Make sure you reach out to them. This religious leader basically said to this woman and to the crowd that now is not the time or the place for healing but to comeback at another time. What hypocrisy! She has been this way for eighteen years! You wouldn’t let your animal go without water one day because of religious tradition or scruples why should this "daughter of Abraham", an Israelite, wait another moment? Jesus expects hurting people to be the priority. Jesus cares for the hurting and He insists that we do so also.

Illustration: Six young men were slated to compete against one another in Seattle, Washington. The event was the hundred-yard dash. The men lined up, waited for the starting gun and took off in a sprint. About halfway down the track the man in front stumbled and fell, skinning his hands and knees. The other five men stopped and helped him up. After they brushed him off they decided to finish the race together, holding hands. None of the judges could tell who won the blue ribbon; none of them could see through their tears. No one in the stands that day would ever forget this demonstration of compassion. As the race ended the crowd stood and cheered for 10 minutes. These young men were competing in the Special Olympics; and they showed that they cared more for a hurting friend than for winning a race. There is hope for you if you are hurting today because God does not leave you behind in the race of life. He is not indifferent to your pain and the brethren here are not indifferent to your anxieties and wish to help.

II. Now let’s notice that Jesus Is Powerful Enough To Heal Hurting People. 12,13 That’s why I can have hope. Jesus’ compassion would be nice but of limited comfort and encouragement if that is all that He can offer us. If the only thing Jesus can do is sympathize with us then we are still hopeless. The good news is that Jesus is not only compassionate but He is also powerful! He can heal your hurts; He can lose your bondage’s, and He can change your situation.

As we see in this story, there is no situation, no matter how bad that is too great for Jesus. This was the worst kind of medical condition. A medical condition that to this day does not have a cure. Yet this did not pose a problem for Jesus. She had also been in this situation a long, long time but again that was not a problem for Jesus. I want you to understand that nothing you are going through or ever will go through is beyond the power of Jesus Christ to heal and restore if you work with him on his terms.

You may have suffered for many years as this woman did but you can still be hopeful. There is hope because there is Jesus. He set this woman free from her infirmity and He can set you free from yours also. Never ever give up hope! No matter what type of problem, hurt, or bondage you may be facing you can be hopeful because... Jesus Is Powerful Enough To Heal Hurting People.

If you are physically sick - He can heal you. A man was dying from cancer. The preacher came to visit and asked him, “How are you today.” The man looked into the eyes of the preacher and said, “I’m almost well.” If your marriage is troubled - He can restore it. If your ministry is a mess - He can repair it. There is nothing beyond the power of Jesus Christ. I know some of you may have been hurting for a long time and you have lost hope. I know some of you no longer really expect Jesus to intervene in your situation or need. I need you to look at this story and renew your faith and expectations. Let your faith be strengthened by God’s word. Keep your hopes up because Jesus still heals the hurting. I’ve been to too many hospitals and came back rejoicing because Jesus heals. I rejoice everytime I hear about new procedures which can extend life. Don’t tell me that man is doing this on his own. Man can’t do anything without God permitting it to happen. Jesus is powerful, yea powerful beyond the abilities of man. And when I hear, “There is nothing we can do,” and a person rises from their bed whole, I again am caused to hope in God who can raise the living and the dead!

Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see in fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

There are Christians today who no longer pray for healing because they have lost their faith and don’t think God can heal. There are Christians today whose marriages are failing yet they have no real expectation for Jesus to restore their marriage because they think it is too late. There are people who have quit serving in ministry out of discouragement because they think their situation is beyond God’s help. Our thinking needs to change if it is like this. We should never lose hope because… Jesus Is Powerful Enough To Heal Hurting People. I thus far have taught you, and you’ve been good listeners - that - Jesus Notices And Cares About My Pain. That’s why there’s hope for me. And, Jesus Is Powerful Enough To Heal My Affliction. That’s why there’s hope for me. Now let’s change gears and see that:

III. Jesus Will Explain, Satan, Not God, Is The Cause of All Misery We Encounter. Therefore, I can hope in God. Verses 15,16

People frequently ask: Why is God putting me through this? Why did God give me cancer? Why did God take my child? Why is God breaking apart my family? Why did it have to be me that got laid off. Many times people assume that God must be behind all of our hurting and that there must be some mysterious divine plan in all of this. How can we have hope if we believe that God is the cause of our hurting? You can’t!

Fortunately there is hope for our hurting because Jesus explains that our discomfort is not God’s doing! He clearly says, “Satan (not God) has kept (this women) bound for eighteen long years.” (Vs. 16) In verse 11 Luke also explicitly notes that an evil spirit caused this woman’s physical infirmity.

Freud has taught us to blame our parents for all the bad behavior we encounter. I guess this ideology has passed on to some Christians. It is wrong to blame Father God for all of the bad things in life. The Bible teaches us that Satan is the one who brought pain, suffering and sorrow into the world through sin. God created everything good!

Look at the ministry of Jesus. Much of his ministry was spent healing and easing the suffering of people. Jesus looked upon death and diseases as intruders and aliens in God’s world.

The next time something really bad happens to you, don’t be so sure to blame God for that. It might be worth asking “Could this be the work of Satan against me?” Source: STRUGGLING WITH SUFFERING by Mark A. Scott

Having said that, I want to emphasize that in the majority of cases the Bible tells us that Satan is directly or indirectly the explanation for the troubles, pains, and hurts of this world. This is good news and reason for those who are hurting to have hope because it means that God is not against us rather He is for us. There is reason to hope because Jesus is greater than Satan. As John explains, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” 1 Jn. 4:4. There is hope for the hurting because… Jesus Explains That Satan, Not God, Is The Cause of Hurting People.

It was a balmy October afternoon in 1982. Badger Stadium in Madison Wisconsin was packed. That day there were more than 60,000 die-hard University of Wisconsin football fans watching their team take on the Michigan State Spartans. It didn’t take long to determine who the better team was. Michigan State was moping up the field with the Badgers. But what seemed odd was that even as the score became increasingly lopsided, there were bursts of applause and shouts of joy from the Wisconsin fans. How could they cheer when their team was getting trounced so decisively? It turns out that 70 miles away the Milwaukee Brewers were beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game 3 of the 1982 World Series. Many of the fans in the stands were listening to portable radios and responding to what was going on in another game, in another sport, in another place.

There is something to be said for being plugged into what is going on elsewhere. Sometimes, the things that are going on where you are have become extremely difficult. It may do us well, that during these stressful moments we get plugged into what is going on elsewhere. No matter how difficult or even desperate our situation seems, Paul says we can face it with hope. (Read 1 Cor. 15:14-19)
1. Our hope keeps us from settling for the things of this world. Isn’t it strange, that the only thing said about Methuselah is that he lived to be 969 years old. If all we want to do is live with out living for God we have no hope.
TIM BOND: A philosopher of earlier in this century, Bertrand Russell was an outspoken atheist. He even wrote a book called Why I Am Not A Christian. When Russell was 81 years old, he was interviewed on a British Broadcasting Corporation radio talk show. The interviewer asked him what he had to hang onto when death was obviously so close. Russell responded, "I have nothing to hang onto but grim, unyielding despair." What an honest yet hopeless response. You see, when you live only for this life, when you invest your life in the flesh, when you think that this is all there is, you can’t help but live in despair. We must be tuned in elsewhere during our pain and misery.
2. This kind of hope turns our eyes away from our pain to God’s glory. I have taught us that Jesus Notices And Cares for Hurting People, that he is powerful enough to heal our hurt and that Satan is the cause of all pain, sorrow and misery in this world. What we must do now is “tune in elsewhere” during our painful moments. We must strive to find a way to give God glory in the mist of our misery. Job did - Paul did - Jesus did - we can too.

A little girl had to pass every day by a cemetery to go home. When asked if she was afraid, she said, “No, my home is just on the other side.” Jesus cares when we hurt, we must care for those who hurt. Jesus is powerful enough to heal us when we hurt. We must believe and live like he can. So let’s not settle for the things this world has to offer, let us be tuned in elsewhere so when we do hurt we can find a way to turn our eyes away from our pain to God’s glory and the glory God has prepared for the Christian.
Are you a Christian?...

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