4 Oct 2003, Lynelle Chester
(Lynelle is Thornleigh's Senior Elder)
A few weeks ago Jason Borody presented the Sermon we Had to Have. Today's Sermon is one that has been waiting to be preached for about 6 months and that coloured some of the illustrations.
Not everything in life goes the way we would wish. Sometimes we feel that we get more than our share of irritations. And frankly, sometimes we just can't handle it.
Its often a series of little things that pull us undone. We give them more than a fair share of worry.
I noticed on a church noticeboard "Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due"
It was a Tuesday morning I showered and dressed, then headed for the kitchen to prepare lunch and get breakfast. I was about to heat some milk in the microwave when I decided it looked very dark. When I opened the door, the light didn't come on. Odd.
There wasn't a blackout. The refrigerator light was on. The stove was showing the time of day.
I decided a fuse had blown and headed for the meter box outside. Sure enough a switch was 'off' so I switched it 'on' and immediately it went off again.
On checking I found that most power points were affected and the lights. The stove, the refrigerator and hot water were OK.
Well, the obvious answer was to phone an electrician. I waited for a more respectable time.
The electrician was friendly. He could send someone after 12.00. That was OK I would go to work & left my work number so they would give me 30 min. notice.
Well I'd hurry off to work in case they phoned early. I got as far as the switch beside the garage door. There was no light. The penny dropped. I wasn't going anywhere.
Sure there is a manual way to release the motor so the door can be moved manually. It's a bit more trouble to reactivate the door.
I chose another option. I phoned back to the electrician to see if he could possibly come earlier. 9.30 didn't sound too bad. Imagine my pleasure when I heard a vehicle outside my place by about 8.00 a.m.
It didn't take the electrician long to located the circuit involved, isolated the power point that was causing the problem and install a new point. I was soon back in business and on my way to work. - counting my blessings.
I didn't need a new microwave
I didn't get left high and dry without power in the dark
When the powerpoint burnt out it didn't fuse an appliance nor start a fire.
The electrician was careful & didn't keep me waiting.
Not all problems are fixed that easy. Not all problems are taken with such a positive light. You're probably thinking - you call that a problem…..
The very next morning - once again I was in the kitchen. Once again I was getting breakfast - some people live to eat. The phone rang - rather it screached. Somehow the volume control button had been bumped to the loud ring.
I picked up the phone - "George here. Michelle's dead."
What do you say? There are some things that have to be done. All sorts of things come to mind. Like now who will take the church service. My little problem of the day before seems so trivial compared with the loss of life of a wife and mother.
Each of you can think of bangs that have come in your own life. A car accident. A family member diagnosed with a life-threatening illness
District devastated by a storm. We are left asking, "why?" Not just for the issues of life and death. We also ask 'Why?" when little things seem to add up one on top of another. We say, "I can't take any more. Its not fair. I can't handle this. Nobody understands what I have to put up with. I have to do everything on my own.
More and more in my work I'm finding that it's the every day pressures of life that are pulling people undone. Just one more little thing and they are tipped over the edge. In fact we infer that even God doesn't understand.
Let me share with you a Bible verse:
Turn with me to Heb. 2:18 "Because He himself suffered when He was tempted. He is able to help those who are being tempted." Note the present tense. You say, "I thought we were talking about trials - not temptations." (discouragement and doubt are certainly temptations)
...and try this text (I'm using the NIV) Isa. 43:2 "When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God; your saviour." God doesn't always remove the problem, but He gives us the courage to deal with it. Jesus who was "Tempted in all things - is able to support those who are tempted - and provide a way to cope. How does God understand.
If I asked why Jesus came to earth, you would probably tell me that he came to die to buy my pardon. You would be partly correct. The wages of sin demanded death. They didn't demand 30 years of life on this earth.
Jesus lived on this earth as our Example.
Heb. 2:14 "Since children have flesh and blood, He too shared their humanity so that by his death, he might destroy him who holds the power of death... For surely it is not angels he helps but Abraham's descendants. (You and me) For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way...Because he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tempted."
He can say, "Yes, I understand because I've been through it. I know what its like to have a tough time and nobody understands."
Let me share with you from just one day in the life of Christ on earth. The stories are familiar. However, we often take them in isolation - not thinking that they were all packed into a 12 - 15 hour time slot.
The day got off to a bad start - we can empathise with that. We've had rough starts too that have sometimes coloured our whole day. You slept in, so you missed the bus and that made you late for school upsetting the teacher. Or the car had a flat battery and you were late for a very important appointment. The day deteriorated from then on.
This particular day Jesus received some sad news that must have been a body blow to Him. John the Baptist was dead. A premature, unnatural death. His head ended up on a plate to satisfy a vengeful woman. What had upset her. John had dared to speak up about her immoral lifestyle.
John was not only a cousin to Jesus. He was possibly the one man on earth who had some real understanding of Jesus' mission. John had committed his whole life to supporting Jesus' mission on earth. Now he was dead.
Yes, Jesus could turn to His Father in heaven but there are times when we long for human companionship. Physical contact - a shoulder to cry on. And I am sure that Jesus felt that way too.
Jesus didn't have time to brood.
The disciples had been out two by two. They came back all excited. We can empathise with that too. Have you ever been out with a group on the Appeal campaign. There's lots to talk about afterwards. Some things are positive. Some are not.
The disciples were excited and wanted to share. They had healed the sick in the name of Jesus and done other things. But not everything was positive. They had some puzzling disappointments. A debriefing program was in order. Time for a quiet place to chat.
Jesus' discouragement lifted a little as He heard the disciples' news. I guess it also frustrated Him how little they really seemed to understand of His mission.
Now that they had gained some field experience perhaps they could take in more of Jesus' real mission.
Here comes the crowd. Jesus knew His disciples were not emotionally prepared at that juncture for a crowd.
The lake was nearby and a boat was handy. So they slipped away. But not unnoticed.
The Lake of Galilee was much like lakes that we know - roughly oval or teardrop. I suspect that there were some natural places where sailors would pull into the shore.
The people wanting to see Jesus, saw the boat slip away from the shore. They watched it. Decided it was headed for Bethsaida. And they just walked the 10k around the lake to form a welcoming party when Jesus arrived.
OK - so you would have done the sneaky thing. Had your debriefing session in the middle of the lake. Just remember that the lake was subject to unexpected storms. Sitting out in the middle of the lake for long periods was not ideal. Maybe they did have a very limited debriefing session.
Jesus met the people at Bethsaida.. There was a grassy hillside nearby (a natural grandstand). Jesus sat the people down and talked to them.
All day! If you think that's easy - try it. Especially on the day you have received the news that a special relative has died.
Its getting late in the day. Jesus knows its time that these people should be on their way home. He also knows that they are hungry and have a long way to go. Jesus turns to the disciples asking that they rustle up some food. These are the disciples who have been out healing the sick in the name of Jesus.
The response was - "Come on, we've got a few thousand people here. We're not made of money". Anyway, at this time of day the baker has finished baking and he has sold out most of his buns. Its not the right time for fishing."
And then, Andrew comes along with a little boy. The little chap gladly wanted to share a little boy sized lunch. Five loaves and two fishes doesn't sound like a small boy's lunch. I suggest the barley loaves were dinner rolls rather than hamburger size..
Jesus' spirits lifted. Here is one little boy who obviously had been so keen to hear Jesus' words that he hadn't stopped all day to eat. Now he wanted to share. Maybe the lad didn't expect the lunch to do more than feed Jesus but that's what he wanted to do.
Is it any wonder that Jesus said, Matt.18:3,4 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
You know the rest of the story. Put the emphasis where you like. If you tell it from the disciples viewpoint it runs something like this: We had been out of the trail for days, we were really tired and full of questions. We just wanted to talk to Jesus on his own. Well we got Jesus into the boat early in the day, only to be caught later with people on the other side of the lake. What happens - Jesus forgets about us. Spends all day talking to the people and then expects us to feed them.
Well, we couldn't and we told Him so. But we didn't get let off the hook that easy. Andrew finds this little boy with a little lunch. Now it was great to see how it multiplied in Jesus' hands. But guess who had to act as the waiters. We wandered all up and down the hillside through people sitting in all sorts of clusters and, believe me, some of them were pretty impatient - really determined they were going to score some food.
Jesus sighs - He knows what they are thinking! He's tired too.
Note, its Jesus who sends the disciples off in the boat. He knows they can't take any more. No, He doesn't join the disciples. Its Jesus, drained as He is, who stays to disperse the crowd.
Jesus longs for a quiet time. Without the mobile phone. Yes, without his close friends taking advantage of Him. His family - if you like.
The crowd heads for home. The sun sets. The wind rises. The clouds build up. In fact it's a nasty night to be out - on the lake. The disciples are seasoned fisherman. They know the wiles of the lake - but even they are scared. And they blame Jesus. If He had been here, He could control the situation.
Almost sounds like a Mother's role doesn't it. "Mum - where's this", "Mum - what do I do now!", You've seen the Fisher & Pykel ad. on TV. "At least something in this house can think for itself"
Jesus, who had no doubt been snatching a few quiet minutes in prayer with His Father, feels constrained (just like a Mother) to go to His little flock. In the storm, a flash of lightning reveals to the disciples their Master. Jesus is walking towards them on the water.
The disciples are fearful. Then Peter, typically - speaks first - thinks after. Says, "Lord, if its really You, bid me to come to you on the water"
And he steps out of the boat - in faith. Then he thinks - this is fairly something. "Hey guys, look at me. Oh - don't look now! Help!"
How much can a man stand in one day - or a woman for that matter. Ask Jesus. He knows what it means to be on a roller coaster of emotions - to be pressed on every side with too many expectations from too many people. Jesus knows what its like to be let down by the very ones you trusted most.
Jesus says to us - Heb. 13:5 "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you"
So we say with confidence -
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid - what can man do to me?"
because Jesus understands.
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