A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"
November 16, 2019
“What WE FORGET - THAT God Remembers”
Have you wondered what God really thinks about you? Our greatest barrier to knowing God better may be how much we know about how much God knows about us! I think we struggle with God because we feel so bad about ourselves. And, if WE know the truth about ourselves, think of how much more God knows us. We can’t fool him!
Sometimes, we don’t want to pray or read the Bible or think about God - because when we look in the mirror, we say, “I’m such a disappointment.” Or, “I ought to be a lot better by now.”
We’ve all felt that way, from time to time. Maybe some of you feel that way right now. It’s been a hard week, or a bad month, and now we’re nearing the end of what seems like a really wasted year.
Sam Storms captures this truth in one simple sentence: “I think we run from God rather than to him, because we know our own hearts all too well and we barely know his at all.”
I really don’t think that I need to spend any time convincing us that we are all sinners . . . RIGHT?!
We know the truth about ourselves all too well. It’s the ‘other side of that coin’ that we need to talk about today. We don’t know God’s heart very well.
That’s where Psalm 103 can help us tremendously. Perhaps no other chapter in the Bible so clearly reveals God’s compassion for his people.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - 18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
If you’re wondering what God thinks about you, let’s take a journey, through Psalm 103, and discover several truths about God’s heart.
1. God Loves to Help the Needy
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The phrase “the oppressed” refers to those who can’t help themselves. In the OT, the word referred especially to widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. If you’re tempted to take advantage of someone, because you are strong and they are weak, think about this: God takes the side of the weak! God keeps his eyes on the helpless, and when others hurt them, he moves to balance the scales of justice. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arm of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
Now, there are days and seasons of time when that’s is hard to believe, but this truth stands solid like a rock for God’s children. If all of history were a book, then we haven’t reached the final chapter yet. We are nearing the end, but we’re not sure how far away we are. However, what we do know is this . . . eventually God will bring everything to light, and he will judge with impartiality. On that day there will be no hiding, no excuse-making, no bribes, and no way of escape!
Are YOU needy? The answer is yes, whether you know it or not. You are needy and God is on your side. THAT is a great place to begin Thanksgiving!
2. GOD Shows Mercy to Those who don’t Deserve It
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
Four great attributes of God in this verse:
1) The Lord is compassionate - He pardons us.
3) The Lord is slow to anger - He is patient with us when we fall.
4) The Lord abounds in love - He loves us more than we can imagine.
The King James Version translates the last phrase of verse 8 by saying that God is “plenteous in mercy.”
Sparing mercy, inviting mercy, upholding mercy, consoling mercy,
infinite mercy, everlasting mercy!
Six kinds of mercy in just one sentence. That’s plenteous mercy for anyone who needs it!
3. GOD CONTAINs His Wrath
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
Have you ever known anyone who loved to argue? (Have you been that person?!) We all know people who love to keep a quarrel going because they are so angry. God is NOT like that. He is willing to end the quarrel and welcome us back home. Sometimes the real problem is that we want to keep fighting him!
All too often, God is more ready to forgive than we are to be forgiven!
When we forget to pray, he remembers to feed us. When we forget to give thanks, he sends us restful sleep. When we mess with sin, he sends his Holy Spirit to convict us. When we refuse to give, he keeps on giving, anyway. When we fall, he picks us up. When we disappoint ourselves and others, he still calls us his children!
God even blesses those who don’t believe in him!
I saw a book that an atheist wrote, called, “God Is NOT Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” In that book the author debates every religious-type person that he can find. And, he’s sold a boatload of copies of the book! The author is completely committed to debunking religion of every type, and even more committed to the concept that God is simply not necessary!
But, can you see the mercy of God here? Instead of crushing the author, like an ant, the Lord feeds him and nourishes him and gives him health and love and life. It is the longsuffering of God that allows people to deny HIM. And why would God show such kindness to someone utterly dedicated to eradicating HIS influence in the world?
Because, if there is a God at all (and there is), he is not in the least intimidated by this guy . . . or by you . . . or by me!
Think of atheists shooting at God . . . while they are standing on the ground that HE provides for them! The fact that God withholds punishment to his enemies - that, also, is evidence of his mercy!
Romans 2:4 (NIV)
God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.
4. God Forgives All Our Sins
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Consider the greatness of God’s love. Astronomers tell us that the farthest known light source from the earth is ten billion light years away. That means that light starting from that source (a quasar) would take ten billion years traveling at the speed to light to arrive at the earth. By contrast, the nearest star is “only” four light years away from us. That’s four years traveling at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. Light from the sun reaches the earth in a little over eight minutes. So, even the nearest star is a vast distance from the earth. I read this week, that using ion drive propulsion (whatever that is), you could reach the nearest star in a modern spaceship in only 81,000 years!
You can turn that all around any way you like, and we’re still left with 2 inescapable realities. First, we live in a tiny corner of the universe, and second, the universe is vast beyond our comprehension. But God’s love is greater, vaster, larger, deeper, longer, broader, and bigger in all dimensions than the universe itself. Get in a rocket equipped with any system you can imagine. Fly at warp speed. Go to the end of the known universe and beyond.
And when you have gone as far as you can go, look up and smile because God’s love is still going. You will never reach the end of it.
Consider the magnitude of God’s love. Suppose you want to go east until you finally reach the west. So you take off from Racine in a hot air balloon. When you land in Lisbon, Portugal, you get in a Jeep Cherokee and drive across Europe until you come to Varna, Bulgaria. There you hop on a freighter that takes you through the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and on to the Gulf of Aden (where you narrowly escape getting caught by pirates), and on into the Indian Ocean where you finally land in Colombo, Sri Lanka. From there you catch a flight to Singapore and then down south to Perth, Australia. There you hitchhike across the Outback, eventually arriving in Sydney where you join a passenger ship heading for Easter Island. You then fly to Santiago, Chile where you rent a beat-up Jeep and start driving north. It’s a long way but you eventually make it all the way to Nome, Alaska, where you hire a dogsled team so that you can run the Iditarod Race - in reverse, ending up in Anchorage. You hop on a cruise ship to Vancouver, BC, where you rent a Harley and start scooting your way back into the United States. Finally, you make it back to Racine. Besides having circumnavigated the globe, what have you proved?
Among other things, you have proved that no matter how far east you go, you will never find the west!
The farther east you go, the farther you are from the west. That’s the magnitude of God’s love!
Here is great good news for all the sinners of the world. When God forgives, he removes our sins, he takes them away, and he puts them so far away from us that we could never find them if we searched for them for a thousand years. They are forgiven forever!
My sin, oh the bliss, of this glorious thought.
My sin, not in part, but the whole.
Is nailed to his cross and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.
It is well, with my soul . . .
because God forgives ALL of my sins!
5. God Understands Our Weakness
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
I never really understood that verse . . . until Donna and I started having children of my own.
When our kids were very young and one of them would have trouble going to sleep (and, after Donna had been up through the night with them the previous 47 nights), I’d get up and take them out of their bed and carry them in my arms. Sometimes I’d sing to them. I remember that I would often sing “Jesus Loves Me,” over and over again - inserting their names in place of “me” . . . until they would finally fall asleep in my arms.
Earthly fathers, however imperfect we are, point upward to our Heavenly Father. When an earthly father has done his job well, he makes it easy for his children to believe in their Heavenly Father.
Our children learn from us that we do not worship a god of stone, or an empty idol, or a remote deity, or an impersonal machine in the sky. We serve a Father God who knows our weakness and loves us anyway.
God, our Heavenly Father, the Great Physician to our soul, knows our weakness and understands our fears. And when we can’t go on in our own strength, he carries us! God understands our weakness.
6. God Remembers That We Are Dust
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
Here is a truth we all understand, especially this time of year: Yesterday’s green leaves soon turn brown. It is a law of nature that the green leaves of spring end up in piles on our lawn. (Did you see this fall the gorgeous orange, pink, bright red, yellow, purple, and every possible shade of brown leaves?)
Why do the leaves lose their green? There is a scientific explanation - having to do with the loss of green chlorophyll, but that simply means the leaves are slowly dying. The beauty of the color of the leaves comes from their death!
Who remembers each leaf? Not the tree. One by one the leaves fall to the ground where they disintegrate and return to the soil from which they came. No one names them or numbers them or even thinks about them. And now, most of the leaves are gone from the trees. It is the way of nature, the way God arranged the changing of the seasons.
Several years ago Donna would sometimes tease me by saying, “There’s a little gray in your beard.” She stopped saying that a long time ago, because the “little” has become A LOT!
Just this morning when I looked in the mirror I saw that there is much more gray hair than brown on my head these days. I also thought that when God puts gray in your beard, it’s like the leaves turning brown in the fall. It’s God’s way of saying, “You won’t be here forever.”
I was driving through a suburb in Chicago once, by one of those cemeteries that seems to go on forever. As the cars sped down that road, I smiled when I saw a billboard sponsored by the cemetery. It said, “Slow Down. We’ll save a place for you.” I’m sure they will!
If that’s all there is, if we are here today and gone tomorrow, if that’s the end of the story, then there isn’t much hope. But let me tell you. If you don’t have anything else to be thankful for this year, here’s something: Our hope is not in man or in anything man can do. Our hope is in the everlasting God!
7. God Links Us With Eternity by Linking Us With Himself
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - 18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
There is nothing we can do about our frailty. We come from the hand of our Creator stamped, “Fragile: Handle With Care.” We all have a shelf life, an expiration date. Try as we might, we cannot cancel our humanity. Nothing can change that.
Vitamins and exercise and clean living may slow down the process. Positive thinking may improve our mood. But for all of us, the end is the same: “Ashes to ashes; Dust to dust.”
Psalm 103 offers us strong comfort that lifts us up above the nature of this life. It is the “but” that begins verse 17. That “BUT” changes everything!
That one word, “but,” offers an eternal contrast between the fading flower (vs. 15-16) and the everlasting God (vs. 17-18) . . . our mortality and God’s eternity!
That one little word - “but” - is the demarcation between this life and the next. Here is our real hope of life that never ends: God’s tender mercy, his unfailing love, his abounding grace.
Someone’s said that life without Christ is a hopeless dead end, but life with Christ is an endless hope!
In this transient and passing world, where everything fades away, we have the promise that WE are linked to the future - even after we are gone - by the faithfulness of God. This, too, is the mercy of God.
So, what is Psalm 103 telling us?
We are richer than we think, we are more blessed than we know, and we have more than we realize. We frail, mortal sinners are rich in the mercy of God, because we have found that mercy - or rather, that mercy has found us - in the cross of Jesus Christ!
During one of his sermons, Billy Graham told the story of a patrolman on night duty in a town in northern England. As he walked the streets, he heard a child crying. Shining his flashlight into the darkness, he saw a little boy in the shadows sitting on a doorstep, tears were running down his cheek.
The child said, “I’m lost. Please take me home.” And the policeman began naming street after street, trying to help the boy remember where he lived. He named many of the landmarks in the area, but the little boy didn’t know his address.
Then, he remembered that at the center of the town there was a church with a steeple and large white cross that towered above the rest of the city.
The policeman pointed to the cross and said, “Do you live anywhere near that place?” The little boy’s face immediately brightened up. He said, “Yes, sir. Take me to the cross and I can find my way home.”
All that we believe, all that we have, all that we hope for is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. Go to the cross and you will find your way home to God!
Are you weak? So am I.
Are you guilty? So am I.
Are you frail? So am I.
Are you like dust? So am I.
And God says to us (his weak, needy, guilty, frail, dusty children), “I know you through and through - and I love you anyway. Come to me. Rest in me. Make me your Rock.”
What we forget, God Remembers!
And, God’s mercy in Jesus Christ is more than enough for ALL of us.
Aren’t you thankful?
October 26, 2019
“LOVE, LOVE, LOVE”
Have you heard these words of wisdom? If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was and always will be yours. If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with. And, if it just sits in your living room and messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your car, takes your money and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first place - you either married it or gave birth to it! Hmmm . . .
The Beatles told the world, in their song, All You Need Is Love: “Love, love, love - love is all you need.” Our world DOES need love, but the world is often really mixed up when it comes to L-O-V-E.
First and foremost, let’s consider what God’s Word (the Bible) says about love. Look at these verses:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
This sounds like how brotherly love is supposed to work. Are you devoted to any brother or sister in Christ? Do you honor them above yourself?
1 Corinthians 4:17
For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
It’s easy to love a faithful friend in Jesus Christ, right? And, it’s much easier to love a faithful brother than an unfaithful brother!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
It’s obvious that husbands and wives should love one another. Sometimes, however, it’s one-sided or lop-sided. Like when Donna says to me, “I love you.” And I reply, “Ok.” (Husbands, I am a professional. Do NOT try this at home!)
God is the author of TRUE LOVE . . . and this is what our scripture text today is all about:
1 John 4:7-12 (NLT)
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
This text is all about love, TRUE LOVE, the real thing.
First, we see . . .
THE COMMAND OF LOVE
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
Have you ever said to your child or children, “You are the child, and I am the parent, and you will ( fill in the blank ) whether you want to or not!”? Intimidation and coercion doesn’t work well with some people, but when it comes to God’s command to love one another - we have motivation to do it.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - AS I HAVE LOVED YOU! -
When Benjamin Franklin wanted to get the people of Philadelphia excited about street lighting, he didn’t try to persuade them by just talking about it. Instead, he hung a beautiful lantern on a long bracket outside the door of his own home. Then, he kept the glass brightly polished, and he carefully lit it every evening as dusk approached.
People wandering about on the dark street saw Franklin’s light a long way off, and, it helped them see the uneven cobblestone roadway. It wasn’t long before Franklin’s neighbors began placing lights in brackets in front of their homes. And soon the entire city saw the value of street lighting and took up the matter with interest and enthusiasm. Example is always a strong motivation for doing the right thing in life. And Jesus gives us the best example of all.
Here’s a sad “other side of that example coin.” A study disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful. If only Dad attends church, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom attends, 15% remain faithful. If neither attended regularly, only 6% of the children remain faithful. The statistics speak for themselves - the example of parents and adults is more important than all the efforts of the Church and Children’s Church, or Sunday School, or Vacation Bible School . . . combined!
Now if you say to your child, “Do as I say, not as I do,” you probably won’t get much lasting (or any) reaction out of them. But Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
OK, I doubt we will ever love exactly like Jesus, but when we demonstrate love to others we are walking in his steps. Jesus’ command to us: love one another!
Next, we see . . .
THE CREATOR OF LOVE
8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Now this is a challenging scripture! How can anyone fully describe our God who is love? John is clear: if you don’t love then you don’t know God, because God is love. And when I say “he is the Creator of love,” that in itself is a poor way of saying it - because God is more than just the Creator of true love.
What’s your view of God? What is he like in your heart and mind? A mean Judge? A weak old man? A compromising person? A loving grandfather?
Among the first glimpses we get of our God, he is a Seeker: “Adam . . . where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
When you read the Bible, read it as though God were a brokenhearted Father looking for a lost child! (Remember the story of the prodigal sons, found in Luke 15:11-32?)
How do you really describe in words our God who is love? I’m not sure there is any way that you can. God is not the essence of love. He is not the spirit of love. He is not the extreme example of love. He is not the personification of love. He is not the epitome of love. “GOD IS LOVE!” (1 John 4:8)
The Command, the Creator, and now . . .
THE CORE OF LOVE
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Years ago, a German scientist counted the hairs on different human heads. He found that they vary in number, seemingly depending on the color: black, red, blonde, or brown. Supposedly, a person with black hair has about 110,000 hairs on their head, while a blonde has around 140,000.
Also, an average person with a thick head of hair will lose up to 100 hairs a day. Such losses are increased somewhat if the hair is long and becomes entangled in a brush, comb, or rubber bands. (I can attest to this, as I personally pulled a hair ball, the size of a house cat, out of our shower drain this week!)
An average man, shaving every day, removes a beard about 1/64 of an inch in length. This means that between ages 20 and 65, he will remove about 23 feet of beard!
29 “Are not two small birds sold for a very small piece of money? And yet not one of the birds falls to the earth without your Heavenly Father knowing it. 30 God knows how many hairs you have on your head. 31 So do not be afraid. You are more important than many small birds.” - Jesus -
I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful that Jesus died to forgive my sins / to save me before I was born. Otherwise, I’m sure he wouldn’t have seen anything in me worth dying for . . . after I was born! I think this is true for all of us. There is just nothing good in us that would cause God to choose us to be his children. HOW COULD HE DO IT?
Love . . . Love . . . Love!
10 As the Scriptures say: “There is no one who is righteous, 11 no one who is wise or who worships God. 12 All have turned away from God; they have all gone wrong; no one does what is right, not even one.”
We all have turned away from the Lord, but because of who he is, God still loves us! God’s love is the greatest, the supreme love.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
THE CORE OF LOVE IS THE FACT THAT CHRIST PAID FOR OUR SINS ON THE CROSS! There is no greater love than this!
So, what’s the conclusion?
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
Since God loves, we too should love!
Did you hear the story about the man entering a hospital who saw two doctors in scrubs searching through the flower beds? “Excuse me,” the man said. “Did you lose something?”
“No,” replied one of the doctors. “We're doing a heart transplant for an IRS agent . . . and we want to find the right size stone.”
Could it be that OUR greatest problem in all of life is OUR HEART?
33 “A good tree gives good fruit. A bad tree gives bad fruit. A tree is known by its fruit. 34 You family of snakes! How can you say good things when you are sinful? The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” - Jesus -
Heavenly Father, fill our hearts with love, love, love. FILL OUR HEARTS WITH YOU!
October 5, 2019
“TIME FOR A CHANGE”
An old mountain man took a trip to the big city. For the first time in his life, he found himself standing outside an elevator. He watched as a wrinkled, old, woman went in and the doors closed behind her. A few minutes later the doors opened and a beautiful young woman came out. Amazed, the old man turned to his son and said, “Boy, go home and get your mamma so I can run her through that thing.”
Don’t you wish change was that easy? But, others shouldn’t be the first priority that we want to change. We should look within ourselves and see the many things need to change. We struggle with anger, or addictions, or fears, or frustrations, or habits, or lust, or our attitudes, or relationships, or on and on and on! And, we often say that we want to change. We may even try to change ourselves. We say things like, “I am going to turn over a new leaf. I am going to try harder. Things will be different this time. You wait and see!” Ultimately, our best attempts at change are brief and unsuccessful. We often find ourselves right back in the ditch of our sins, exactly where we started.
I have good news for you! God’s Spirit has spoken to your heart and convicted you about your need for a change. He has impressed upon your heart that your life cannot continue as it is without serious change. He has convicted you about all those ugly things in your life that bring pain into your life and into the lives of those you love. He has even allowed you to fail at your attempts to change your life on your own, because he wants you to realize that he’s the only one who can truly change you.
46 Then Jesus and his disciples reached Jericho, and as they left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 “Be quiet!” many of the people warned him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
Here’s a man named Bartimaeus. He was blind and he sat on the side of the road in Jericho, begging for the charity of passers-by. Bart had long ago given up hope on being able to change himself. But, that’s when something wonderful happened! Jesus came to Bartimaeus’ town. Blind Bartimaeus knew it was time for a change, and, he knew Jesus was the only One who could make it happen. Old Bart didn’t miss his chance for change!
Jesus came to Jericho (where Bartimaeus was) . . . and today Jesus comes to Racine, or to whatever community you live in. Jesus came to Bartimaeus and he comes to you. He changed Bartimaeus’ life, and he wants to change your life. Don’t miss your chance to have your life radically changed today! Follow the example of Bartimaeus and trust Jesus Christ to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior and he WILL transform your life. Do what Bartimaeus did:
1. Desire Change
Bartimaeus wanted to see. He had never seen a sunrise. He’d never seen beautiful flowers and leaves changing color in the fall. He had never seen the sweet and innocent face of a baby. He had never seen a river, stars, or the faces of his own loved ones. Bartimaeus lived in a blacked-out world, empty of color and beauty. No wonder, when Jesus asked him what he wanted, that he replied, “I want to see!” (v. 51)
You know what? There is blindness far worse than physical blindness. It is spiritual blindness. You may have 20/20 eyesight and still be spiritually blind. Helen Keller was once asked, “Isn’t it terrible to be blind?” She replied, “Better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing.”
2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT)
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
Spiritual blindness prevents us from seeing how serious sin is. It blinds you to how brief life is. It blinds you to the fact that it is appointed for man to die once . . . and afterwards stand before God in judgment. It blinds you to the reality of Hell. Spiritual blindness prevents us from seeing Jesus, the Savior, who alone can save us from sin’s penalty. Bartimaeus had a blindness because of some physical defect. Spiritual blindness is rooted in the work of the Devil, Satan, who does not want you to see the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Satan wants you to believe that Jesus is just another man. A good man, perhaps even the best man who ever lived, but just a man - nonetheless. The Devil has blinded the eyes of those who do not believe that Jesus is God’s Son.
Bartimaeus was blind, but he didn’t want to stay that way. He desired a change in his life! You know what? Not everyone wants to change. There are people who enjoy their misery . . . like Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street. These people actually like living in the garbage can of sin and misery . . . year after year, wallowing in sin.
I’ve found that most people do not desire real change, until they reach rock bottom. I’m sure there were others in the city that day who needed healing, but they had not come to a point of desperation where Jesus was their only hope. Bartimaeus HAD reached the point where he knew Jesus was his only hope. It was now or never! It was Jesus or no one!
Have you come to that point where Jesus is your only hope of ever being in a right relationship with God, and of ever having purpose and peace in your life? Have you come to the place where you are tired of groping around for direction and happiness in life? Do you desire a different life than what you’re now living? My prayer is that you will be like Bartimaeus and desire change. But don’t stop there.
DO what Bartimaeus did . . .
2. Stop Procrastinating
46 Then Jesus and his disciples reached Jericho, and as they left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road.
I had R. Kent Hughes as a professor in one of my Doctor of Ministry classes. I love how he describes this scene in his book, Jesus, Servant and Savior:
As he sat there, just like so many days before, he listened to the city come to life - first a donkey loaded with melons for market, after that several women chatting as they bore pitchers toward the well, then the clomp of camels’ hooves, and the aroma of fish borne along to market. Soon Jericho was humming, and the blind man was intoning his beggar’s cry.
Suddenly Bartimaeus tensed and lifted his head, for his blind sensitive ears heard the hubbub of a great crowd approaching. First came young boys running before the crowd with shrill cries, then more people hurrying past the gate talking excitedly. Bartimaeus, brushed by a robe, reached out and asked what was happening. The passerby, pulling his robe away, called back, “Jesus of Nazareth - the one who heals the lame and lepers and blind - the one some are saying is the Messiah - is passing by!”
Everyone had been talking about this man’s exploits and words. Bartimaeus had perhaps even heard a first-person testimony from someone who had heard him and had seen his miracles. Bartimaeus had been doing a lot of thinking, and now he made up his mind. This must be the Messiah, and now he is coming. His heart began to pound, and he was trembling, though the warm sun was standing high.
Bartimaeus could have stayed silent and hopeless. He could have procrastinated. He could have thought to himself, “I’m just a poor blind beggar. Why would Jesus pay any attention to me?” I don’t know if he thought that, but WE sometimes do. You know, we believe that God is too busy or too holy to care about someone like me. Perhaps Bartimaeus thought that the crowd following Jesus was so large that he could never get Jesus’ attention. I don’t know if he thought that way or not, but we sometimes do. You know, we think that God has the world and the universe to run and he has like 6 or 7 billion people on planet earth to worry about. So, why would he take notice of me? Why would he hear and answer my prayers? Bartimaeus could have decided to wait for a better time to approach Jesus. The crowds were large, Jesus was busy, and he was only passing through. He could have waited for a better time - when Jesus came back through their town.
If Bartimaeus had procrastinated, he would have missed his opportunity to be healed. WHY?
Jesus was going up to Jerusalem to die on the cross. He would not pass this way again! Procrastination would have meant doom for Bartimaeus.
We humans are professional procrastinators! We always have a reason why today is not a good day to do something. You know, “I CAN’T, BECAUSE . . .” Procrastination is the Devil’s tool to keep us from the only One who can truly change us, and heal us, and give us a new life.
The time for change is when God has convicted us that we need to change! It’s time for each of us to stop procrastinating and to do what we know is right. For some of you, that may mean you need to ask someone to forgive you today - for some hurt that you have caused. Don’t delay! For some of you, that may mean you need to turn some area of your life over to Jesus so that he can change you. He is able to heal your hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Give it to him - TODAY! For others of you, that means you need to stop procrastinating . . . you need to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior!
The time wasn’t optimal for Bartimaeus, but, he didn’t delay. He knew Jesus was passing by at that very moment and he did not want to miss out on the power of God!
Do what Bartimaeus did. Stop procrastinating and cry out to Jesus!
3. Don’t worry about what people will say
To be like Bartimaeus, you must desire change, stop procrastinating, and you must not worry about what other people will say.
47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 “Be quiet!” many of the people warned him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus did not care what other people thought. He needed Jesus, and he would not let the opinions or the opposition of others stand in his way. As he cried out to Jesus, the people around him began to warn him to be quiet. The Greek word translated, “warn” means to rebuke with an implication of a threat! They were saying, “You better shut it . . . or else!” But, Bart continued to shout, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” He did not care what people thought of him! He would not be shamed into silence. He would not be quieted with intimidation. It’s so sad when people are handcuffed by peer pressure / when they care more about what others think than what God thinks.
People cannot save you. People cannot change you. Jesus is our only Hope.
Do what Bartimaeus did. Desire change, stop procrastinating, don’t worry about what other people think, and . . .
4. Cry out to Jesus in faith
47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus had no eyesight, but he had keen insight! He knew who Jesus was. He called him, “Jesus, Son of David.” Bartimaeus had faith that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah who could bring healing and hope, not merely to the nation, but to his life personally. He was convinced that God himself was passing by and he was NOT going to miss the moment. He did not sit quietly thinking, “I wish the crowd wasn’t so big. I think I will wait until another time to call on Jesus to heal me.” NO! He knew Jesus was the only One who could help him. He had heard about Jesus’ power to heal and change others, and, he was convinced that Jesus could do the same for him.
Jesus is also passing OUR way today. I beg you; do not miss this opportunity to encounter the One who can change your life!
He can forgive you of your sin. He can make you right with our holy God. He can give you eternal life. Cry out to him in faith, and trust him to save you today. Trust him to come into your life to make you the person he wants you to be.
No one can cry out to Jesus in faith for you. You must do it yourself. I would believe on Christ for you, if I could. But, YOU must be the one to call on him!
Notice just what happens . . . when Jesus hears Bartimaeus’ cry of faith:
49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!”
Get the picture? Jesus was on a mission. He had set his face toward Jerusalem, where he would die on the cross for the sins of the world. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Yet, the cry of faith from the lips of a blind beggar stopped the Lord in his tracks! Jesus stopped and stood still!
YOU can have Jesus’ undivided attention, too - if you will only call out to him today in faith. Think about this: Our faith stops Jesus in His tracks!
That fickle crowd was just telling Bartimaeus to be quiet, or else . . . now look at them!
They all act like they have his best interests at heart. “Oh Bart, great news! Get up, Jesus is calling you!! I told you to be patient. Here, let me help you up. Have I ever told you how much I like you, Bart old buddy?”
Sadly, churches and Christians can be like the crowd was in their reaction to Bartimaeus’ cries. Churches can view lost people who need Jesus (those who are spiritually blind) as obstacles to our activities. We may see the lost as interruptions to our time with Jesus. We don’t really care about the lost if we are inconvenienced, or if we don’t get what we want, or if we have to put aside our desires - in order to bring a lost soul to the Savior. We can forget that the lost are the very reason Jesus came in the first place! Instead of pushing the lost aside we should be telling everyone we meet, “Cheer up! Come one, Jesus is calling you! He calls you to turn from your sin and place your faith in him!”
Look at how Bartimaeus responds when he hears that Jesus is calling for him:
50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
He threw aside his coat . . . which he had probably spread out in front of himself to catch any coins tossed his way. His once pitiful & pathetic activity has now given way - to a new purpose-full activity!
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”