Tag Archives: criticism

What Action Will You Take

Peninsula Community Church

What Action Will You Take 

June 25, 2017

Luke 5:17-20 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

This is an amazing story when you think about it. As usual wherever Jesus traveled there was a crowd of people. In this case the crowd had grown so large there was no room to get close to Him. It was in this context that the paralyzed man came to Jesus. He needed a miracle. He was ready to receive but he could not get close enough to get His blessing.

Before we look at some specifics let us take a quick look at the characters in the story. First, we have the crowd who was pressing in so they could be close to Jesus. They were so focused on their needs that they did not see this man and his needs. Their own interests blinded them to the needs of this man. Then we have the friends of the man. They were concerned about their friend who had been sick for such a long time. It is possible that he had lost hope and was at the end. Because of their friendship, they were willing to do whatever it would take to see him healed. Then we have the man who in some ways has a passive role in this story. We do not know why he was paralyzed. We do not know how long he was paralyzed. We just know he had a problem and he needed to get to Jesus. The power of God was moving in Jesus to heal. That is why this man needed Jesus.

Because of the crowd, this small group of men could not get close to Jesus. As a result, they had to make one of three choices. The first choice was that they could give up and go home. After all the crowd was too big. After all there was no way for them to get close enough to Jesus. They could have given up but nothing would have changed. He would remain paralyzed. He would continue to depend on his friends to help him get around for the rest of his life.

How many times do we face problems in life and we find ourselves giving up? Whether we realize it or not it is always easier to give up than it is to move forward and get things accomplished. It is easier to do nothing but doing nothing changes nothing. By giving up there is no healing and no future. There are a number of reasons to give up so easily.  For one, we tend to settle for less than God’s best. Sometimes we settle even for the good rather than His best. Secondly, too many times we are not willing to put in the hard work. We get overwhelmed and rather than pressing in we give up and give into the pressures of life. Thirdly, we can be so distracted by the issues around us that do not even realize that Jesus wants to touch us. Being distracted causes us to go after perceived solutions in a hope that hoping we will find an answer but never do.

The second choice we can make is to hang up. It is so easy to get hung up on what we do not have. We can get hung up on the belief that nothing will ever change or be any different than it is right now. When we get hung up on the problem or situation a couple of things happen. For one, we can become critical and judgmental. We are critical because we see everyone else getting blessed but we are not. We are critical because we think we deserve better but we are not willing to make the changes necessary for permanent change.

Newt Gingrich on Fox News made a valuable statement a few weeks ago. He stated that it is much easier to criticize than to actually do anything. We can get hung up on criticizing the issues and complaining about what is not changing but we never engage in a way to bring real change. Criticism is easy, but change is much harder. For me, I have found this to be so true. I can criticize people, plans, circumstances, and issues around me but fail to step up to the plate to bring any real solutions to the table. I must ask myself, “Am I a part of the problem or am I a part of the solution.” Your answer will determine your outlook.

When we get hung up we can begin to focus on the problem so much that we lose hope and faith. We see the problems but do not see anyway out. The result is that we make mountains out of mole hills when God wants to make our mole hills and for that matter our mountains fall into the sea. I remember in the story of Nehemiah that the Israelites become discouraged because they saw all of the rubble. They were so focused on the obstacles that they missed opportunities to respond to God. They became frozen with fear and anxiety.

While we might chose to give up or hang up we can also choose to stand up and move forward. Notice that in this passage the paralytic man and his four friends chose not to give up or to get hung up. They chose to stand up and make a difference. They saw the problems. They saw the crowd. They saw the obstacles but that did not stop them. The desire to see their friend healed far outweighed the obstacles and the problems. Their faith in Jesus moved them to action. They pushed through all of the obstacles to find another way.

Remember the old adage, when a door is closed a window is opened. The door here was closed but a roof opened. They took their friend upon the roof. They tore the roof open. They let him down into the crowd. Strange idea but that is what they did. They were not willing to settle or give up. They did not run away. They chose not to stand around and criticize but they chose to take action.

They needed faith to do what they were about to do. You see change comes by our faith being put into action. Jesus saw their actions and He responded to the man’s need. The Scripture says that Jesus saw their faith. Here is the principle of Biblical faith. We act God responds. We act and God will meet us in the process. Listen to the words of Jesus! “Man your sins be forgiven.”

This may seem to be a strange statement. The man needed healing not forgiveness. Or at least that is what he thought. The reality is that Jesus often gives us what we need and not just what we want. This man needed healing but he also needed forgiveness. Sometimes God knows that the best way to heal the body is to heal the heart. When Jesus touches us He can and will touch the whole man and not just part. Jesus heals and saves. He delivers us from the physical bondage of illness and sickness and He can deliver us from the power of sin. Sometimes, He does both at the same time. That is certainly what Jesus did here.

So the question is how does this apply to us. The fact is we are all confronted with impossible issues. Most of the issues we face are bigger than us and seem to be more powerful than we are. But when we are confronted with such things we can make a choice about what we will do. Will we give up? Will we get hung up? Or, will we stand up and press in to do the impossible by faith.

I suggest and encourage you to stand up and do the impossible. One of the things that has baffled me about this passage is how did Jesus see their faith. Certainly they pressed through the crowd. Certainly they had broken through the roof. Certainly they did not settle for the status quo. Certainly they took action but I think they did one more thing. When they lowered the paralyzed man through the roof, I believe they let go of the ropes. That was faith in action. They did all they could do and now they left the rest to Jesus. I encourage you to do your part and then let go of the ropes and giving your cares and issues to Jesus. Their part was that they sought Jesus. They drew near to Him. He saw their faith and He answered the man’s need.

The story is told of a mountain climber who set off all by himself to conquer a mountain he had always wanted to conquer. This was not a good idea because the protocol was to always climb with a partner. In a moment of arrogance he took off to make the climb. When he had climbed almost to the summit he slipped and began a rapid descent. All of a sudden the rope reached its end and he snapped to a stop. Because darkness had come, he lost all track of where he was. It was in that moment that he prayed. From the darkness he heard the voice of God. Cut the rope and let go. He argued and refused to cut the rope. The next morning, the park rangers found him. He had frozen to death. They found him tightly holding onto the rope. It was there he died. If he had obeyed the voice of God, he would have lived, as he died hanging only two feet off the ground.

Perhaps, today Jesus is calling you to let go of the rope and by faith give what every you struggle with over to Jesus. It is time to let go. It is time to stand up and push through the obstacles. Do so and Jesus will meet you where you are.

Let’s pray.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Are You Living as a Free Man or as a Slave

Peninsula Community Church

Are you living as a free man or as a slave?

January 19, 2014

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Today, we are going to look at a important subject that will assist us in understanding how to live life to the fullest as a church and as believers. We touched on this principle just a couple weeks ago, but I believe it is necessary that we spend some time on it this morning. The principle that I want to talk about today is whether or not you are living as a free man in Christ or do you still live as a slave to sin and your past.

As we look at the children of Israel who traveled from Egypt to the promised land, we see that they were a restless and discontented people. One day they were excited about what God was doing, and they were in support of Moses as their leader; but quickly they would turn from expressing thanksgiving and gratitude to wallowing in a spirit of complaining and murmuring. 

When we analyze a complaining spirit one thing is clear. The spirit of murmuring and complaining never brings about positive results. When we exhibit a murmuring or complaining spirit we are never satisfied or content. We are forever lacking a sense of joy and peace. When we complain and murmur it is difficult to live as a free man because we expend too much time looking back at what was and not what is or is to come. 

When we walk in a spirit of criticism and we are filled with murmuring, we exude a negative heart and a negative desire to see things for the good. When we walk in a spirit of criticism, there are times that it does not matter what positive things an individual might do or what a group might do, because when we walk in criticism and complaining, there will always be something to criticize. As we look at this, we must recognize that there is a difference between a critical, complaining, and murmuring spirit; and one that offers constructive criticism. Constructive criticism focuses on the resolution of a problem and it speaks directly to the one that can exact change rather than everyone one else.  

The problem with a critical, complaining, murmuring spirit is that it exudes a mindset that we would rather live as a slave rather than as a free man. A murmuring and complaining spirit can present itself as a slave rather than walking in freedom. To understand this, we only need to look at the life of the Children of Israel. Too often, they lived as if they were still under the control the Pharaoh and not under the control of God. What we see in their heart is that while they were out of Egypt, the Egypt mindset was still in control of their heart. It is like the old saying “you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” For the children of Israel, you could take them out of Egypt but it was much more difficult to take Egypt out of their hearts. The desire was that they would begin to live as freemen who were free from the bondage of Egypt, free from the slavery of Pharaoh, and free from the labor that was to be given to another. 

For the purpose of our discussion today, let me share with you a couple of thoughts about living as slaves rather than as free men. The first thought is that we can believe the lie that says we cannot change rather than speaking the truth that I am already changed by the power of the Gospel. The lie and the truth are opposed to one another. In other words, we will live in torment when we try to live both the lie and the truth in our lives. It behooves us, therefore, to come to the place where we determine that we will live from the truth that I have been changed by the power of the gospel and that I do not have to live as a slave any longer. To overcome the lie, we must accept the fact that the work of Christ is complete in us. We must begin to take the steps to accept the truth that change is possible. Listen to what Paul says to us:

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Romans 6:15-18 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We do not have to live as slaves because we are sons of God.

The second issue we face is that we can fear change more than we fear slavery itself. The problem is that we can become so familiar and comfortable with the lifestyle of slavery that we  we don’t know recognize freedom when we have it. Too often we have lived in slavery for so long; we have become comfortable as slaves. The problem is that slavery has become a familiar place for us to reside. We know where we have come from, but we can be afraid of where we are headed. We walk in fear because we don’t know what the future will look like. Too often, we would rather live in the past than trust the Lord who knows the future. We must be shaken from our complacency and move toward change. Sometimes, when we fail to do this God sends a catalysis that will encourage our change. It may be an earthquake. It may be sickness. It may be a revelation of who we really are to others. 

The third issue is this that too often we can be bound by loyalty to our personal and family history. The problem here is that we all have an identity. You see our friends see us one way. Our families see us another way. Our coworkers may see us in a total different way. We can be afraid that if we begin to follow God, remove ourselves from a spirit of slavery, and begin to see change in our lives, we will get criticized and belittled for the changes we make. Perhaps we are afraid of what we may have to give up in order to see change come. Perhaps there is a feeling that we need to be true to our family, we need to be true to a history, we need to be true to who we are you, and we need to be true to our culture. The answer to this is that we need to be true to who we are as a new creation in Christ. Only as we see ourselves as a new creation will we begin to see the right change come to our hearts.

The fourth issue that is that too often we can continue to return to enslaving habits. We do this because these habits are comfortable for us. These habits are a safeguard for us. They are the place we go to when we don’t know what else to do. When we get stressed out, we overindulge in alcohol. When things do not go our way, we get angry and lash out at others. When we face difficulty, we clam up rather than dealing with the issues before us. For others, when things are uncomfortable or issues arise, they turn to food or to things that are not beneficial to their health.

Is interesting to note that the children of Israel who had everything they needed had a desire to go back to Egypt and eat the food of the Pharaoh rather than live under freedom they had. You can look at the children of Israel with scorn and displeasure at this decision, but we too are guilty of doing the same thing in our lives. Too often, we desire the things of the past rather than the new life that is ahead of us.

The last issue is that too often we can practice self deception about our past slavery. How quickly we can forget how painful slavery is for us? If we do not continue to feed upon the word of God, if we do not continue to look at the blessings that God has bestowed upon us, it is so easy for us to live out of the past rather than in the present hope that is ours. The cry of the Israelites was for God to get them out of this horrible place now! God answers and sets them free from Egypt. They pass through the Red Sea and now they are in the wilderness. It is interesting to note that rather than giving praise to God for what God is doing, they are reminiscing about the good old days when they were slaves. Yes that’s right, they were having a conversation and looking back at their slavery, as if somehow it were freedom and better than their current circumstance.

Have you every lived that way before? God gets you out of a serious situation and then look back and proclaim that those were good times. But, they were not good times, and they won’t be good times if you revisit them now. We are good at exchanging reality for fantasy. How many of you, you have old friends like this? You get together and you’re like, “Remember when we were in high school?” No, I don’t, because we were alcoholics. I blacked out from my sophomore year to graduation. No, I don’t remember high school. “It was awesome. Remember that time you threw up?” Yeah, it wasn’t that awesome, right? Some of you have friends like that, and they only want to talk about the old days and romanticize and fantasize about the old days.

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