How to Get People’s Attention
A Sermon by Stephen Thompson
Acts 9:32-35 // New Hope Church – Bedford NH // 23 June 2013
Being diagnosed with cancer is tough for anybody, but it’s devastating for a 17 year old young man. It’s the news one of my best friends, Wade Hester, got about 12 years ago. He had a lump on the side of his neck and went to see the doctor. They took a sample and 9 of the 10 specialists who looked at it said it was cancer and that he needed to start chemo immediately. They decided to do a full biopsy of the lump first so they surgically removed it and sent it to the lab. While Wade was recovering he got countless cards from individuals saying “I’m praying for you.” Cards from families, “We’re praying for you.” Cards saying “Our whole church is praying for you.” Wade thought it a nice sentiment, but not worth putting any hope in. When the results of the biopsy came back, the doctor who came to see him asked “Have you guys been praying?” He said there was no evidence of cancer at all.
This was a life changing moment for a young man who had not really come to grips with whether he believed this whole God thing. He now had absolute confidence that the hand of God had touched him and delivered him from cancer. This had a big impact on his mother who was struggling to decide if a Christian could still believe in miracles in an age of science. And it was a great encouragement for his father whose quite faith was confirmed in this. The family was able to share the goodness of God with so many who had prayed.
In our little story today, we find Peter visiting Aeneas, another fellow who was in a bad way and had no reason to hope for ever being free of his paralysis. By the power of God, Aeneas is healed, and the results are a huge wave of belief rushing through that whole region. Nobody needed a biopsy to see that Aeneas had been healed by a humble Peter, willing to be used by God. And so God’s word for us today is this: Since Christian service will point an unbelieving world to Jesus, seek out opportunities to serve one another.
We’re going to see this happen primarily by looking at two parties in this story:
• A Willing Servant
• A Watching World
A Willing Servant
So in the book of Acts, the church has been spreading. The apostles have remained in Jerusalem but most of the Christians have fled the city to the surrounding regions, as God has used persecution to carry the gospel into new territory. The apostles have made short trips out to some of these cities – first seen when Peter and John went to visit Samaria in Acts 8, with the account of Simon the Magician. Now as we get close to the end of Acts 9 we see Peter once again going out as a willing servant to visit the churches, and this time he’s off to Lydda. Lydda is on the border between Judea and Samaria and it sits on the main highway between Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.
So in his travels, Peter comes upon a man named Aeneas. Aeneas has a problem … he’s been paralyzed and stuck on his bed for eight years. Eight years is a long time – eight years ago, we had the terrorist attacks on the city buses in London. Eight years ago Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the gulf coast. If you can believe it, eight years ago a little internet startup called YouTube was launched. Think of how much has happened in your life since those events. Eight years is a long time, and Aeneas spent it lying on his bed, paralyzed.
Before we can really understand what is going on in this text, we have to answer one fundamental question because it is going to affect everything about the way we read the text. Is Aeneas a believer or not? The text doesn’t tell us explicitly one way or another. It doesn’t refer to him as a brother or a disciple or a believer or anything of the sort so some have concluded that Aeneas is not a Christian at the time Peter meets him. I think the text is vague enough that you could legitimately make that conclusion, but I think there is enough here in the text that we can reasonably infer that Aeneas is in fact a believer.
Let’s look at the word again, this time starting in v31, the verse right before our text today:
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. (Act 9:31-33)
So in verse 31, we’re talking about the church bring built up. In verse 32, Peter is travelling through those areas visiting the saints – just another word for believers – when he comes to Lydda. And there he meets Aeneas. Since we were talking in v31 about the church, in 32 about believers, and now in 33 we meet Aeneas and there is nothing else to describe him, what do you think is his most likely spiritual condition? With nothing to point us away from it, I am persuaded that this is a believer.
So Peter, the willing servant, comes to this lonely, bedridden believer, and it is about to be a life changing experience … verse 34:
Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed." Immediately he got up. (Acts 9:34)
It’s a miracle. By the grace of God, Aeneas is instantly healed. How long has it been since those muscles have moved at all? How long has it been since he has been in any position except lying down? We see it so often in the Bible that maybe we get a little numb to it, but how awesome is our God! He overcomes blindness and deafness. He heals a man with a withered hand and a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. He heals the paralyzed. He raises the dead. Our God is not troubled by so-called impossible circumstances.
In this case God uses Peter as his instrument for the healing. And this is why I refer to Peter as the willing servant. How easy would it have been for Peter to just stay in Jerusalem? He could have sat back and said, “Well, I have this responsibility as an apostle to keep this church running, to make sure doctrine is correct … I’m hoping to bang out a letter or two that the church will find useful… I’m pretty busy with important stuff. Let’s send one of the other apostles like Bartholomew instead. What I want to do is too valuable to leave.”
Peter, the willing servant, doesn’t take that approach. Instead, he goes out on a walking tour to see how the infant churches are doing. And when he gets to the little church plant in Lydda, they tell him about this sick guy in their church. And again, Peter is not above going in and doing one-on-one ministry. He pays a pastoral visit to the sick believer. Now remember, he’s been sick for eight years. He was probably paralyzed from before Jesus public ministry even started. At some point, lying on his bed, he heard the good news and came to faith, even though God had done nothing to heal him. And now Peter comes in – Peter, the greatest of the disciples. Peter, the one who walked on water with the Lord. Peter, the willing servant, walks into the home of this poor invalid to spend some time with him, and the two of them come walking out.
In all of this, I think we are seeing the outworking of a lesson that Jesus had taught Peter:
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
And Peter certainly does seem himself to be the servant in this, because when he heals the man, look at what he says: “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you.” Peter claims none of the credit: he defers to his Master. The healing that happens is not the work of Peter – it is the work of the Savior alone, who is still working powerfully in this world even after ascending to Heaven.
Perhaps it would help to think of a modern situation? You have probably never heard of Robert Stephen Ford. He is America’s ambassador to Syria. Now, what kind of power does Robert Stephen Ford have? Imagine the scenario where Ford went to Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, and said “I command you to do so and so.” If Assad were feeling spunky he might look at Ford and say, “Ha! You and what army?” But this becomes a very different situation if Ford shows up and says, “President Assad, Barack Obama commands you …” Ford is an ambassador. The true power he wields is what he has as a representative – a servant – of the Present of the United States.
Peter is like Ambassador Ford. He does not claim that he is healing Aeneas – he says simply, “Jesus Christ heals you.”
Now, what does this look like for us? Let’s start with Peter’s servant attitude. There is a temptation in the church to do one of these spiritual gifts assessments or something like that and come to a conclusion like “my spiritual gift is administration.” You know what? That is an insanely useful gift in any church, no matter the size. We need administrators and anything you can do to help with administration takes that load off your pastor so he can focus more on studying the word, on counselling, on sermon preparation. So your spiritual gift is administration. Well, let’s imagine that there is a task that needs to be done like staffing the nursery from time to time. The administrator could scoff and say, “I don’t do nursery work – somebody else will have to take care of that.” But the servant heart will jump in and do it, like Peter leaving his post in Jerusalem and taking time to minister to an individual shut-in.
And what about the healing? Well, God is working through the apostles to do miracles all over the book of Acts, which I think is how He was authenticating their message. People would know the message about Jesus was true because of miracles that accompanied it. It seems to me that God is not working in the same way in our age – I don’t think anybody is still doing legitimate miracles on demand these days. However, I disagree with those who go to the extreme of saying that God isn’t do any miracles these days.
The big difference I see in healings now versus healings in the Bible is that Peter basically guarantees the miracle in advance and it is instantly fulfilled. I don’t see a lot of that. But what I do see is God choosing to answer his people’s prayers. It’s not a mathematical formula – as CS Lewis says, “He’s not a tame lion.” But God is still answering prayers and he is still healing the sick.
So Peter is a great example of a willing servant. Our text goes on to show us what this service accomplishes. The service doesn’t happen in a vacuum: it happens in front of a watching world.
A Watching World
Our brief text ends with the result of this miraculous healing.
And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. (Act 9:35)
So let’s get our geography straight here. Lydda is a town on the border of Judea and Samaria. Sharon is the name of that overall region, lying next to the Mediterranean Sea. Going through that area was a famous ancient highway known as the Great Trunk Road. Part of Sharon was Joppa, a prominent port city. This was a very influential chunk of real estate.
Remember, Aeneas has been paralyzed for eight years. That probably means that for eight years he’s been a beggar. For eight years, he’s by lying by roads in the public eye trying to get enough money for somebody to buy him food and feed it to him. I suspect every single person in Lydda knew who Aeneas was. The children had grown up their whole lives watching him lying there. For the adults, he was as much a fixture of the landscape as people in Bedford think of the Goedecke shop next door. He had just always been there.
So let’s put this all together. The people of Lydda and the surrounding region of Sharon have been hearing about these Christians who have been settling in town because Jerusalem was just too hot for them with the rising persecution. Now Peter comes into town and heals Aeneas. There is no possible way that this is some sort of stage trick – this is a guy that everybody knows has been crippled, and Peter tells him get up … and he gets up! Everybody understands instantly what has happened. And they put this together – if this guy is able to heal in the name of Jesus, then there must be something to this Jesus business! The Holy Spirit uses this miracle to bring a whole region to faith. And not just any region – one of the most influential regions in the world at that point.
Aeneas was a living example to everybody around him of the truth of the Gospel. This is actually a pretty common pattern, especially in the New Testament. I’m going to scoot through a number of stories very quickly here – you don’t need to turn to all of these. I’m going to give a quick summary of the miracle and then tell the punchline from the Gospel writers’ perspectives.
• Mark 2:1-12 – Jesus heals a paralytic who is lowered through the ceiling on a stretcher by his friends. Jesus tells him, “Rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And the result in v12: they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
• Luke 4:31-37 – Jesus drives a demon out of a man. Listen to the reaction of the crowd in v36: And amazement came upon them all, and they began discussing with one another saying, "What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district.
• Luke 5:12-15 – Jesus cleanses a leper. The result in v15: the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.
• Matt 9:27-31 – Jesus heals two blind men. What happened after they were healed? But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.
• John 11 – Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. But there is an interesting text tucked into John 12:9-11. The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there [at the Passover in Jerusalem]; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.
Miracles have a way of attracting attention. I think it is especially interesting that the evidence of Lazarus was so compelling that the chief priests wanted to put Lazarus to death. I think in our story about Aeneas, something similar to that is happening. Everybody knew Aeneas was paralyzed and bed-ridden. When they see him up and about, and they find out the reason: “Jesus Christ heals you,” the healing confirmed to them the truth of the message.
When the world sees things it cannot understand, it takes notice.
I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes. Our church in Charlotte had a man named Bill (different from the Bill I mentioned earlier) who contracted ALS, an awful, awful disease that causes all of your muscles to atrophy. Eventually it got to where Bill could not move himself, and his wife was not able to pick him up, so she asked people to come over and move him from his chair into bed at night. I agreed to help out with that so once or twice a week I was over helping put Bill into bed. This caused some schedule conflicts with my job so I had to explain it to my unbelieving manager. He was amazed that the men from our church were doing this. Over the course of a couple of years of doing this, I was able to tell many of my co-workers about how my church was rallying around Bill, right up to the Christmas morning on which he died.
There was a sharp contrast when a member of our own team was diagnosed with cancer around the same time. I offered to come visit her during her chemo treatments but she didn’t want any visitors. She was very alone. She requested that there be no funeral, no memorial service. It was a very vivid contrast. I wonder how much of an impact that contrast made on them.
Now, from those two stories, did I see revival break out in Charlotte NC? No, I did not. But I can tell you something I did see. An unbelieving co-worker who I had frequently asked to come along to join me for different functions finally agreed to come to Easter service this year. It was his first time in a Christian church. I don’t know that he did this because of the way the people in my church loved Bill, but I wonder if perhaps that earned me more of a hearing?
The world watches, and it sees things that it cannot understand. Your situation may be closer to my experience with Bill than to Peter’s experience with Aeneas. That’s ok. Realize that miracles were rare in the time of the apostles too … how many other crippled or paralyzed people did Peter pass by before God revealed his plans for Aeneas? Throughout the history of the church, God has much more frequently used his people doing normal things to accomplish his purposes than he has used flashy miracles.
Bringing it Home
So where do we go from here? You know how when you go to a gas station and they have the different grades of car wash, so if you chip in another dollar you get a few more bells and whistles thrown in with soap and rinse? I would like to suggest that the story of Peter and Aeneas gives us a sort of ladder like that.
• BRONZE LEVEL: Basic church member. You are trusting in Jesus for salvation, but you mostly punch the clock on Sunday morning, go home. Next step: be a willing servant. Be willing to step in and be a servant to others, and especially a servant to your brothers or sisters in the faith. Can you bring a meal to a sick friend? Can you help out in some of the basic work around the church?
• SILVER LEVEL: Already a willing servant in some capacity. You are already serving on the worship team or a member of a small group. Next step: be a servant outside your comfort zone. Will you still serve when it is outside your comfort zone? Will you plunge the clogged toilet in the church bathroom? Will you go visit somebody who is sick or alone even if you don’t know what in the world you will say? Will you go on a mission trip to somewhere that doesn’t have all of the conveniences you are used to?
• GOLD LEVEL: You’re already serving a lot. You’re serving outside your comfort zone. Next step: involve unbelievers. What if you could show some of the love you show to people inside the church to unbelievers too? For example, what if you had a coworker you knew was sick, so you went over and mowed his grass for him? What if you were going to serve at a soup kitchen and you invited your unbelieving friend to come along with you?
And let me encourage you as you are looking to be a more and more willing servant, use it as a time to brag on your God. How often do you think your friends hear something like “It was the most amazing thing after the baby was born. For two weeks, people in the church brought us dinner. It was such a blessing. The love of God shines through those people in a way I can’t describe.” That last bit is the hardest to get out, isn’t it? When you see God working through your church, give him credit, and brag on him to a watching world. How often do they see that happening elsewhere? How often do you see it happening elsewhere?
At my church back in Charlotte I have a friend named Katy who has been trying for months to reach out to her next door neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus. They are both parents of young children, however, so it is hard to have a serious conversation. One of the women in the church volunteered to come over and babysit the children so these two ladies could get out and talk. Katy says that since they made those arrangements a couple of weeks ago, her friend has mentioned half a dozen times how she cannot believe that somebody would be willing to come over and babysit kids she doesn’t even know … for free … to let them have an evening out to talk. Because who does that? A husband and wife who do not know Christ are both impacted by that willing servant.
Friends, the world is watching more than you think. Peter’s willing service completely changed the life of Aeneas. Your willing service can change the lives of the people in your church, and when the world sees it, you just might win a hearing for the gospel and change the eternity of somebody outside the church. Since Christian service will point an unbelieving world to Jesus, seek out opportunities to serve one another. Are you willing?
What is our response to blessing?
- Zacharias muted, told by God to name son John
- Elizabeth blessed with pregnancy
- Mary has visited and left
- Historicity of â€œneighbors and relativesâ€
- Dr. Luke, again, doing his research and speaking, presumably to those who had been present
- Again, he is drawing on the authority of eye witnesses
- And if we can believe the testimony of those concerning John the Baptist and the miracle that led to HIS existence, then it becomes easier to believe Johnâ€™s Testimony about Jesus, which is that He is the Christ
- Godâ€™s blessing is individual and communal
- Elizabeth is pregnant beyond her years
- The stigma of the time for not producing a child is removed
- They know the Lord will be a blessing through their son
- Jenâ€™s cousin Dennis
- Individually (with family) called to pastoral ministry
- Given tools and trust of church
- Blessed in teaching and church growth
- A sense of purpose revealed to Dennis
- We were also able to see Godâ€™s hand in these events and rejoice/gawk at Godâ€™s work.
- The neighbors and family are rejoicing with her
- When the Lord acts in a personâ€™s life, he WILL be seen
- And when the Lord acts in a personâ€™s life, he does so with a purpose toward his plan for creation/his people
- All stories of God empowering/blessing individuals who then had a massive communal impact.
- We should always remember that the blessings God gives us are not only for us.
- A home
- The gift of life.
- TRANSITION: When the Lord blesses his servants, he expects that blessing to impact his people. Therefore, our response to blessing must be obedience. Letâ€™s keep reading
- Obeying God requires sacrifice
- Circumcision was the ritual by which babies were initiated into the Jewish faith
- At the ceremony, the baby would be named.
- Names are important
- They are symbolically jumping off point for identifying a personâ€™s future.
- Less the case now than back in Biblical times, but nonetheless, we see it done
- Customary for parents to name a son after the father or some other male relative as a way of setting the beginning of their path in life.
- He SHOULD be named Zacharias
- Would carry the family name
- Would be set on the path toward priesthood
- Would continue to edify the familyâ€™s good work for the faith/community
- But God told Zacharias to call the baby John.
- Zacharias mute (possibly deaf?) so Elizabeth must make the call.
- Mention of Ephesians 5
- Beautiful model of marriage
- Never to be that the husband dominates the wife, but that they are attentive to God and God directs the husband who in turn points his family back to God
- Elizabeth submits to Zacharias here, firmly, resolutely, and in obedience of God.
- Consequence of naming son John
- abandoning the good work of the family
- Setting their child up NOT to follow father into priesthood
- Essentially fully surrendering the future of their son to the one who named him, God
- Obeying God may confuse those around you
- This level of sacrifice is scary.
- To Parents:
- Even with reassurance from God, they are the ones with the most to lose
- To onlookers
- All they see is two people essentially abandoning the future of their son.
- When God calls you, we must obey, not out of fear of consequence, but out of hope and earned trust in that calling.
- Dennis leaving very well paying Job
- Missionaries who abandon comfort to work in foreign lands
- Local families who open their homes to those in need
- Families who adopt unwanted children to bring them up in the Lord
- A dating person who leaves a relationship because they are unequally yoked.
TRANSITION: So Elizabeth intends to make this sacrifice in obedience to God, deferring her right to name her child to God. But Zacharias must still complete the act of obedience.
- Obedience is freeing, not enslaving
- Zacharias drops the mic and in this fully obeys, in trust, what God had commanded him to do in the Temple.
- When Zacharias disobediently doubts the Lord, the Lord responds by silencing Zacharias
- Answers Zachariasâ€™ doubts in dramatic fashion
- Showing Godâ€™s power
- Removes the gift of speech since it was given to Zacharias to praise God and tell of what he had seen, and he was not fully obedient with it
- When Zacharias obeys God by being Godâ€™s scribe for Johnâ€™s name, he showed that he was ready to use his gift of speech for Godâ€™s appointed purpose again, and thus is granted his voice.
- We often think of the idea of obedience as limiting and binding
- And in many cases it can be
- A boss giving unjust orders or punishments, such is the nature of human sin
- However, in obedience to God, we have nothing but blessing to look forward to.
- Our gifts
- Gifts are powerless and fruitless if not used for the purposes of God
- A pastor will often have the gift of public speaking
- If the pastor does not trust the Lord in obedience, then the gift has no eternal power and the Church will die
- A craftsman will have the gift of creating or mending
- If the craftsman cheapens his work or swindles his customers, then the gift has no eternal power and the witness of the craft dies.
- All these people have gifts, but are the gifts being used in obedience?
- People will succeed on a worldly level in disobedience (read habbakuk for a wrestling with this problem)
- But those who encounter the gift will see from where the power of the gift comes.
- A preacher who preaches a false gospel shows people the way to transient happienss, but not into the arms of God
- A craftsman who cheats and swindles shows people a path to wealth, but not into the arms of God
- A musician who sings about and lustful desires shows people the path to self-actualization, but not into the arms of God.
- We are given our gifts to witness to the goodness of our savior and let us pray that when we forget that fact, that the Lord would make our gifts powerless
- In this act of obedience, Zacharias allows the Lord to name his Son. When the Lord names you, you are called into blessing
- â€œWhat will this child be?â€
- John is named by God and chosen for a specific purpose
- He will be given the gift of speaking, and he will use this obediently
- He will herald the coming of the Christ
- He will meet, identify, and baptize Jesus
- He will set the model for those empowered by the Holy Spirit who come after him â€œChrist must increase, I must decreaseâ€ even though he has been gifted exceptionally
- He will continue to baptize and preach forgiveness in Jesus until he is imprisoned and beheaded.
- Who are we called to be?
- Well, this is all well and good, but I havenâ€™t been named by God. I have the name my parents gave me!
- We were named by God and claimed as his children when Jesus died on the cross for our sin.
- In that naming, we are given the gift of eternal life
- In that naming, we are given the gift of knowing what THIS life is for
- In that naming, we are given the privilege to herald the second coming of our redeemer
- In that naming, we become empowered by the Holy Spirit to once again know God intimately as Adam and Eve did in Eden.
- If you know Christ, remember that you have been named by the Holy Spirit and no valley in life or faith will separate you from the freedom you have in Jesus.
- If you do not, know Christ and have always been afraid of what it would mean to live a life of obedience to a God above yourself, please know that God invites us into that obedience out of his love for us here and now as well as eternally. He will never coerce, he will only invite into blessing
o Wiersbe quote regarding â€œblessingâ€
ï‚§ â€œTo most Jewish people, the word blessing evoked images of a long life; wealth; a large healthy family; a full barn; and defeated enemiesâ€¦ for this was how God taught and disciplined them [as they were children in the faith]...With the coming of Jesus, ISraelâ€™s childhood period ended and the people had to mature in their understanding of Godâ€™s waysâ€
o Seemingly Same passage in Matthewâ€™s Beatitudes
ï‚§ Luke shortens and focuses on wealth language
ï‚§ Makes clear that Jesus is addressing Disciples
ï‚§ Often the Gospels will record same events as each other.
ï‚§ Sometimes they differ slightly or drastically.
â€¢ Often 2 easy responses to differing accounts
o Discount one of the accounts as false
o Try to explain away differences
â€¢ Beautifully, Godâ€™s Gospel affords us a third option
o Both accounts together show us a more complete message Jesus was expressing
o Lukeâ€™s account focuses on the physical standing of Christâ€™s followers
o Matthewâ€™s account on the spiritual character of Christâ€™s followers
o Luke parallels Jesusâ€™ blessings with a list of corresponding woes
o Look at them together
â€¢ V. 20 & 24
o Blessed are the poor
â€¢ Comfort to disciples who were poor
o Reminder of Godâ€™s promises
â€¢ Poverty often opens hearts to truth of need for God
o Know what it is to wholly depend on God
â€¢ Poor in spirit
o Knowing our faults
o Knowing our human limitations
o â€œAll have sinnedâ€
â€¢ Seeking Godâ€™s will above our own
o Woe to the rich
â€¢ Not saying that riches are inherently evil
â€¢ However, it can be easy to forget your own need for God (Camel/needle - Mark 10:25)
o â€œI can please Godâ€
o â€œI can prove to Godâ€¦â€
o Remaining spiritually comfortable/complacent
ï‚§ In ourselves
â€¢ Remembering that all we have is from God and belongs to God
ï‚§ As the Church
â€¢ As the Body of Christ we care for the poor. We ARE the kingdom of God promised (James, Matthew 25)
â€¢ And we are there to point to God when the rich lose their â€˜comfortâ€™
â€¢ PERSONAL TESTIMONY
â€¢ V. 21a & 25a
o Blessed are the hungry
â€¢ The most basic human need
â€¢ Reduced to hunger, a person has no choice but to turn to God
â€¢ Jesus quite literally shows his fulfillment of this blessing when he feeds the multitudes (one of very few stories in all four Gospels)
â€¢ Hunger and thirst for righteousness
â€¢ If we are poor of spirit, then we naturally hunger for the promises of God to manifest
â€¢ Not as a way of achieving salvation but in response to Godâ€™s bringing us out of brokenness
o Woe to the well fed
â€¢ Again, being well fed is not inherently evil
â€¢ How easily do we say â€œoh! Iâ€™m starvingâ€ when we had a massive sandwich 5 hours ago?
â€¢ We can lose perspective and appreciation for Godâ€™s provision when weâ€™re well fed
â€¢ Believing weâ€™re holier than we are
â€¢ Matthew 7:3 (speck in your brotherâ€™s eye)
â€¢ Affirming sin
ï‚§ In ourselves
â€¢ Remember the blessing of being well fed
â€¢ Seek to be held accountable
ï‚§ As the Church
â€¢ Feed the hungry!
o Friend who brought sandwiches to veteranâ€™s park
o Food pantries
â€¢ Be wary of where the Church has sinned in order to be able to call sin, sin
â€¢ V. 21b & 25b
o Blessed are the weeping
â€¢ How many times has the mere knowledge of Christâ€™s suffering with us been a comfort when you have been weeping?
o Psalm 116:1 â€œI love the LORD because he hears my voice and my supplicationsâ€
â€¢ We are often drawn to God in moments of loss or sadness
â€¢ Our joy is from Godâ€™s promises of comfort
â€¢ Faced with the fallenness of the world, what can we do but mourn?
â€¢ Our very salvation begins with mourning Christâ€™s sacrifice
o But our rejoicing laughter and comfort comes with his resurrection!
o Woe to the laughing
â€¢ When we place our joy in our transient happiness, what happens when we lose that reason to be happy?
â€¢ We mourn and weep.
o See it today. So much of culture is wrapped in â€œmy self esteemâ€ that when any one thing assails that, we crumble
â€¢ No hope without Jesus
â€¢ To believe otherwise and rejoice in our own abilities will lead to death
o Humanism, the new atheism, new age philosophies, scientism all say that a godless humanity can achieve lasting progress.
o We know this cannot be (Tower of Babel / 1 Corinthians 1:25: foolishness of God wiser than human wisdom)
o And once these things fail, hopeless weeping will come
ï‚§ In ourselves
â€¢ Hold our identity in Christâ€™s sacrifice for us
â€¢ Remember the Lordâ€™s longsuffering during our suffering
ï‚§ As the Church
â€¢ Allow one another to weep and bring comfort.
â€¢ Spearhead progress as Christ would have us do it
o â€œIf X is the goal, X will never come. If Christ is the Goal, X will naturally followâ€
â€¢ V. 22-23 &26
o Blessed are the hated for Jesus
ï‚§ When we are called to be humble and care for the neediest among us in a world which celebrates pride and advances the greedy, we will be excluded as weak
ï‚§ When we are called to seek righteousness, in a world which stresses â€œacceptanceâ€ we will be hated as judgemental
ï‚§ When we are called to weep for the world which believes it has saved itself, we will be called evil because of our faith in Christ
ï‚§ In that we may rejoice
â€¢ Jesus and basically all prophets before we treated in the same way and now reside in Glory, waiting for the final victory which we await as well
o Woe to the false prophets
ï‚§ Again, not a bad things to be spoken well of
â€¢ But it is if your motivation is in your riches, or your food, or your self image, or otherâ€™s image of you.
â€¢ Be aware of this and beware your own false prophecy.
o â€œIt is true, neither riches nor poverty bless or curse any man, and none that are poor are blessed if they be proud and high minded, nor any rich man cursed but he that places his portion or consolation in richesâ€ -Matthew Poole
o We are not saved by being poor/humble, hungry/righteous, weeping/mournful, hated/excluded.
ï‚§ We are saved by Christâ€™s sacrifice and our faith in Him alone
ï‚§ Jesus provides, here, reminders for his people about where our true and final joy should come from.
The Bible: God's Help for Your Life: Humble Motivation