Our reading tonight is :
Revelation 3:14-22 Living Bible (TLB)
14 “Write this letter to the leader of the church in Laodicea:
“This message is from the one who stands firm, the faithful and true Witness of all that is or was or evermore shall be, the primeval source of God’s creation:
15 “I know you well—you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! 16 But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!
17 “You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
18 “My advice to you is to buy pure gold from me, gold purified by fire—only then will you truly be rich. And to purchase from me white garments, clean and pure, so you won’t be naked and ashamed; and to get medicine from me to heal your eyes and give you back your sight. 19 I continually discipline and punish everyone I love; so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God.
20 “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. 21 I will let everyone who conquers sit beside me on my throne, just as I took my place with my Father on his throne when I had conquered. 22 Let those who can hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
That reading I’ve just read from Revelation always seems a very harsh passage, and it wasn’t what I originally intended to use, but I just felt that was what God wanted for tonight.
Having a checkup isn’t always comfortable, it can make you squirm a bit, it can be embarrassing depending on why you’ve gone to the doctor, but hopefully you will always be the better for it. You might as a result of the checkup have to make lifestyle changes, make time for exercise, change your diet, but you have to decide whether to follow the advice you’re given or just get on with life the way it was.
A spiritual checkup is no different, we can think tonight about all sorts of aspects of our walk with God, but in the end, we as individuals have to decide on how we live out our faith.
Jesus healed people both physically and spiritually, he considered the whole person and their well-being. Sometimes these miracles happened immediately like the man we read of in Luke who came to Jesus because he had leprosy (Luke 5v 12-14) the man had sufficient faith to believe Jesus could heal him, so asked to be healed and Jesus reached out and touched him. We go on to read, immediately the leprosy left him, but it didn’t finish there, the man had to do his bit, by law, anyone healed from leprosy had to go to the priest and show the disease had gone and offer the sacrifices that were expected. This man was no different.
In John we read of a man that had been blind from birth, it says in
John 9 Living Bible (TLB)
As he was walking along, he saw a man blind from birth.
2 “Master,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?”
3 “Neither,” Jesus answered. “But to demonstrate the power of God. 4 All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, for there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. 5 But while I am still here in the world, I give it my light.”
6 Then he spat on the ground and made mud from the spittle and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes, 7 and told him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (the word Siloam means “Sent”). So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing!
In that instance, the healing happened once he’d washed the mud from his eyes, sometimes Jesus draws along side us and meets us where we are, sometimes He takes us out of our comfort zones and then speaks to us.He might challenge us about how we are living, are we honoring God in our lives, are our motives right in the things we do. Have you come to God with a problem asking Him to resolve it, good, your Christian walk is involving God, but is He asking you to do your part?
Sometimes Jesus took people aside, and healed them more privately, more gently;
In Mark 8 v 22-26 we read
22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and spat upon his eyes, and laid his hands over them.
“Can you see anything now?” Jesus asked him 24 The man looked around. “Yes!” he said, “I see men! But I can’t see them very clearly; they look like tree trunks walking around!”
25 Then Jesus placed his hands over the man’s eyes again and as the man stared intently, his sight was completely restored, and he saw everything clearly, drinking in the sights around him.
26 Jesus sent him home to his family. “Don’t even go back to the village first,” he said.
In this story, it wasn’t the man who asked to be healed, other people saw his need and took him to Jesus, others were concerned about his well-being, it wasn’t that the man didn’t want to be healed, perhaps he just couldn’t see how his life could change if he gained his sight. Sometimes we can be in a position where we don’t understand that God can help change our lives around, we are ‘stuck’ life goes on, but there may be others around you who are praying for you, that God would just show you how great He is and what a difference He could make in your life. In the 2nd story I’ve read, Jesus led the man out of the village, he opened his eyes gradually, so don’t be surprised if God meets with you, quietly, gently, and gradually helps you to understand. There is a song in which the words say “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart I want to see you, I want to see you” Do you want to see Jesus, do you really want Him in every aspect of your life, or are you like the man we have just considered?
Wherever Jesus went, people clamored to see Him, be near Him ask questions of Him and wait for the answers, but Jesus wanted them to take charge of their own lives, we have freedom of choice, God doesn’t dictate to us, so to we have to be responsible for our actions and their consequences.
In Mark 10 we read of a rich man that came to Jesus asking how he could get eternal life? Jesus did what He often did and that was He asked the man a question in return. He asked the man what the ten commandments said. As a good Jew he had no problem answering the question, “to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul” Jesus told him it was good that he kept the commandments, but unfortunately because he was rich his wealth seems to have overshadowed God.Jesus went on to tell him to sell everything and give the money to the poor.
We have to get our priorities right, where do you place God in your life? Is He up there at the top, “God so loved the world that He gave His only son for us” He knows us inside out, and He knows what takes priority in our lives, is He challenging you over your purse strings; it’s not only rich people that have problems putting God first, sometimes money can be so tight that we think we have nothing spare to give, but you know God honors whatever we give, whether is a lot or a little God blesses the “widows mite” the very small amount if that is all we have as well as large chunks of money that is offered to Him. Are you willing to open your hands to God, He gave His son for you, how much are you willing to give to Him?
So far we have heard about Jesus opening our eyes, we’ve heard that we need to allow Him to open our hands to Him, to release those things that are holding us back and stopping us moving forward in our walk with Him.
When we follow Him, our feet need to be on the right path; last week, Matt spoke about God “leading us along the path of everlasting life” Psalm 139v24
I believe God does speak to each and everyone of us, but whether we are listening, or whether we can hear and understand what He is saying or how He speaks into our situations is something very different.
I’ve been walking with God for many many years now, and I do believe God speaks to me in many different ways. Life changes, nothing stays the same for that long, well it doesn’t seem to in my experience, but God doesn’t change, He is the same today as He was at the dawn of creation, He walks with us, the same way as he walked with the children of Israel through the dessert, He speaks to us the way He spoke to the prophets of old, but we need to learn how He is talking to us.
Sometimes He will talk to us through the Bible, sometimes it will be through what someone has said to us, sometimes it’s a small inner voice, correcting or pointing us in a direction, and we feel we need to push a door as it were to see where it leads.
There have been times in the past, when life has been really tough for me, and I have just had to throw myself on God, a bit like Job did, not knowing how much more I could take. If we put our trust fully in Him He will never disappoint us.
Over the past few years, as I’ve got older, I‘ve found God speaks to me through my body, that might sound a bit strange, but He will use all sorts of ways to get our attention.
When I was a gardener, I developed a problem with my feet, it has a fancy name called planter fashietis, basically it meant the soles of my feet became very painful and there is no quick fix solution to improve it. Besides getting treatment for it I realised God was talking to me about the path I was following in my faith, gradually as time went on I felt God was asking me to make some significant decisions and changes, and as these changes took place so my feet steadily improve and were restored. More recently, I have a recurrent problem with my hand, my right hand, one day I may well have to go to the doctor with it, but meanwhile, God has used that to tell me that I need to be putting my hand in His, letting Him lead me and direct me, He is encouraging me to hold on to Him, for he is my strength and Redeemer.
There is a verse from Isaiah that has repeatedly come to me in the last couple of months it is from Isaiah 41v13
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
One of the most difficult things I find at the moment is standing up here at the front, but I know that I’m not alone, God is here beside me, He is holding my hand, strengthening me, and I just pray that He will take my vulnerability and my inadequacy and use it for His glory.
Where do you stand tonight, will you allow God to stop you in your tacks, correct and encourage you, will you be open to what He is saying.
To be open to God means we have to walk with Him, talk with Him and most of all take time and listen to Him. It’s not easy, things get in the way and I am not any different to you, but if we trust Him and walk with Him, He will bless us beyond our wildest dreams.
I Know, because I have experienced some of those amazing blessings.