Sunday, February 15, 2009

When You Hear and Respond To the Lord

Our scripture reading for the day is found in the book of Luke 16:20-31 and we read what Jesus said, “And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luk. 16:20-31, KJV).

I like to take the time now and parallel what Jesus said here in this true story with a true story of a woman named Nancy. Nancy was this fifty some year old woman who lived on the streets in our town. She was homeless and had the problem of being paranoid schizophrenia. When I first laid eyes on Nancy I was on a bus going by and saw that Nancy was eating someone’s discarded sandwich from a garbage can in front of a store. There were hundreds of people passing by her some even taking notice but going about their daily activities. It was a high end neighborhood with lots of money where you had different types of people, some who where young others who were old and many that were on their way either to or from work. As for me I was on my way to work. But Nancy was going no where and as it seemed no one cared.

As I came to find out Nancy used to be a school teacher whose problem got the best of her. She was living in the streets in all seasons and in all types of weather. I even remember hearing Nancy screaming bloody murder one night in January outside about two or three in the morning. Two weeks after I first saw Nancy in the beginning the Lord God spoke to my heart. In which he had used my wife to make an appeal to me on Nancy’s behalf. My wife said “Husband can we get this woman named Nancy a sandwich.” My reply was that out of habit with a resounding “no.” Then I heard Gods still small voice through my wife with her second plea of “Husband we have plenty and she has nothing can we please get her a sandwich.”

I looked around and saw it was the women I had seen two weeks earlier eating from the garbage can. My heart knew it was God that I heard through my wife and so I made the decision and said “yes wife lets get her a sandwich.” To take the time now and share my thoughts on what I learned from God is that first of all when I first said no I was cutting off Gods working love that he was allowing me to be apart of for Nancy’s life. Yes he trusted me with a chance to be available for him to work in Nancy’s life. Then after the appeal of God through my wife I had felt right in the decision to say yes to God and I knew my response was to God and it made me know that I was hearing what God wanted me to do and that I did it in response to him.

My wife and I then started buying Nancy Sandwiches whenever we saw her. We talked to her and we helped her whenever we could and whenever her will allowed us to help her. We about a year later even shared the Gospel about Jesus with her. We told her that everybody has a root problem named self. And that it is the self in us that needs the power of the risen savior Jesus Christ in order to overcome difficulties in life John 16:33 explains this. Nancy had her will and she was entitled to any decision she made in her response to God just like it was for all of us. Do you think or do you feel that you are in the same position as Nancy? You may not be homeless like Nancy or you may not be afflicted with the disease of being paranoid schizophrenia like Nancy but do you think or feel in your heart that you’re going no where in life or that you’re not able to get close to God? Remember Lazarus was near the table of the rich man seeing the crumbs fall to the ground.

Now before all you high and mighty Christians, people who have been born again, think I am talking about a social Gospel I am not. I am sharing a fact that the Lord has told us about ourselves, all of us, the fact of our hearts being desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. And we need Gods help by his Spirit. I am talking about specifically responding to Gods Spirit in our hearts for our lives and how we choose to respond to him. Are you choosing to respond to him?

There where two people in the Rich man and Lazarus story who were both alive but in different circumstances of life. Can you see clearly Lazarus was near the rich man table? The Rich mans heart undoubtedly closed out Gods still small voice. This was his overall life’s decision on everything. He chose to look at the things from the position of self and not God. He was not looking to the hidden things that are unseen. God knocked on the door of his heart many times I believe but he said no so the rich mans heart was closed to the things of God. Lazarus who was hungry saw the crumbs for his physical need but could not get them because man stood in the way for this need. Lazarus died believing in the hope that would come for him as the rich man died who said no to God.

The next place we see these two is that one of them, Lazarus the poor man, is in Abraham's bosom a place of hope. And the Rich man is in hell a place of torment with no hope. Each of the two life’s decisions carried them to the place of their overall life choice; Lazarus looked forward to the hope of love that would be revealed which would be Christ. And the Rich man who was closed in his heart to the love of God wound up in hell having died in his sin. Many people have closed their heart to Gods love, which is through Christ Jesus, and have focused their eyes on earthly things and not the things of God.

There are some born again Christians who have their eyes focused on the things of this world that is choking out a lot of fruit God has for them making them less productive for the kingdom of God. Their eyes are focused either on the lust of the flesh or lust of the eyes or on the pride of life and this is not of the Father but is of the world. They are allowing things to stand in their way for Gods love to blossom in their life for Christ church to grow and mature. They are hindering the church. Are you born again and hindering the church of Christ for yourself and others?

Go to God now and ask him to help you with any of these boulders that may be blocking your way to a deeper meaningful relationship with him to walk in the Spirit.

Some people here may have other certain types of boulders in their way. Some can be in the form of a financial boulder some can be in the form of a disabling boulder. Some may have a person in their lives as boulders. Is someone or something standing in your way for God to meet your need? I will tell you now of the huge boulder that was in front of Jesus’ tomb when he rose from the dead! I will tell you that it was no match for the love of God expressed through his son Jesus who was now alive in the tomb. I will tell you that the boulder had to move out by the power that was in that tomb.

I will tell you if all the stars and planets in the universe were blocking that entrance to the tomb where Jesus was now standing alive from the dead that they too would have moved out of the entrance path. I will tell you that if you ask God who resides in the heavens and in the earth and under the earth that any boulder that’s in your way it will move out by the promise of God that if you ask anything according to his will he will hear you. And it is his will for you to receive Christ Jesus as your savior and Lord. Yes this is most definitely his will for you. And if you know that he hears you, whatsoever you ask, you know that you have the petitions that you desired of him. That’s why we worship him, because he is alive on our behalf forevermore after paying our debt. Sure we do often sin but the boulder is now moved out of the entrance of your heart and no longer are you alive in your trespasses and sins, your dead, but you are now alive in Jesus Christ! Do you know that you are alive in Christ Jesus?

If you do not know you can know. It’s very simple. God is listening to your hearts cry right now and to the words of your need to want to know him. God raised Jesus from the dead, who paid the price at the cross for your sin debt, and is alive for you to now call out loud on Jesus to be your sin bearer, Lord and Savior! Remember Lazarus in this true story mentioned today looked forward to the hope of Gods love in which you too may now have. He did not close his heart. Is your heart open to know Gods love for you? Does your heart want Gods gift for you? You can do this now in the quietness of the moment that’s going to be right now for this opportunity to call on Jesus out loud to save you. God is calling you to him so come to Jesus! Ask yourself a question what is the power of the cross for you? And also the Lord is also calling those who need his strength to get their eyes of their heart back in tune with who God is so come! Seek the Lord his love shown at the cross calls you to repentance!

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