You can react to life’s pain and challenge in different ways. We all have. Sometimes we feel picked on. Sometimes we feel angry. Sometimes we’re just resigned to what’s happening. Sometimes we take a deep breath and ask for help to get through what’s in front of us.
Wieuca was privileged to hear Mark Tidwell’s story on Sunday. You won’t find self-pity in his testimony. He and his wife, Lee, certainly had their moments … still do. Their world has been rocked again and again. Stage 4 cancer will stun anyone.
Jesus talked about building a house on sand or solid rock (Matthew 7:24-27). The Tidwells have built their lives on a solid rock. See his story at this link:
You can find out more about his remarkable efforts to look beyond his difficulties through the eyes of a deep and growing faith at http://www.leaveamarknow.com. You can also view Mark’s message at Wieuca on April 21 at http://www.wieuca.org/messages. His life demonstrates the power of one! Pray for the Tidwells and their ministry.
Power. Can you believe what people will do to get it or keep it? How many people have been sent to places like Washington, DC who were deterimined to change things, to break the system only to be suckered in, swallowed by the system they were determined to change? Power does strange things to people.
In the day of Jesus, there was a power struggle going on – but not as we usually think. We could talk about the corrupt Jewish leaders who tried to use their power to discredit or destroy Jesus. We could mention the maneuvering of Herod Antipas who tried to keep the Jews and the Romans happy. We could watch the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who sought to curry favor with the movers and shakers in Jerusalem while not upsetting his superiors in Rome.
But the real power struggle was more significant because it took place on a cosmic stage. Jesus came to town to do battle, not with Jewish leaders or Roman authorities, but with the power of sin, death, and evil. He demonstrate His power in the most unusual way – by humbly submitting.
When they nailed Him to the cross, they taunted Him … challenging Him to come down from the cross to save Himself. He had no intentions of saving Himself. He came to save us.
God’s saving, sustaining, and sufficient grace was demonstrated by the most unique power ever seen – the power of love. Max Lucado wrote in his book on grace: “Saving grace saves us from our sins. Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength. Sustaining grace promises not teh absence of struggle but the presenc of God.” Now, there’s a thought, sharing power. Christ willing to give us grace to live daily and eternally.
There’s a new King in town, not to tear down a throne but to establish one that will last forever.
Do you matter to God? There are days when the answer is simple – either yes or no. There are times when we don’t feel very worthy of His favor. Other times, we bask in the sense that He cares about us no matter what.
I have a friend who was adopted when he was eight years old. He told me once how special he felt, knowing that someone chose him to be in a family. He had lived long enough to feel rejected and unwanted. All that began to change when they called his name and took him to his new home. He was shown to a room with a single bed. He’d never been in one of those before. “This is your room,” he was told. He asked if anyone else would be staying in that room. He was told, “It’s all yours.”
Moments like that stay with you. Paul wrote to the Ephesians to tell them that God had chosen them, claimed them for Himself. He wrote to the Roman Christians that they were joint heirs with Christ.
What did we do have such status? That’s the best news of all. We are saved by grace, not by effort. We can’t earn what God is willing to give us. We can never be good enough by our own hard work.
Most people who believe in heaven think they get there by being good. The Bible tells us that God took care of the qualifications without our help (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are saved through faith in a God who loves to choose us for His very own. Yes, we matter to God.
Jesus told a story about two men who came to the Temple to pray. Luke recorded what Jesus had to say in response to relgious elistists who seemed to get perverse pleasure in their discrimination (18:9-14). As usual, Jesus used a twist – the good guy became the bad guy, the bad guy turns into the good guy. Role reversal was a common method Jesus used to get His point across – see the story in Luke 10 about the Good Samaritan or the story in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus.
One thing we should learn the older we get – humility. The older I get the more I realize how little I really know. The leaders Jesus met that day could have used a dose of humility. The Pharisee in the story spent more time telling God how fortunate He was to have a guy like him than acknowledging his own need for God. In fact, it was pretty clear that he really didn’t need God at all. That kind of pride is revealing and destructive. The Pharisee got what he wanted, I guess. He got noticed.
The other man in the story was agonizing over his unworthiness. He couldn’t even lift his head toward heaven. The words he spoke tell us a great deal about his honest self-appraisal: “O God, be merciful to me, the sinner.” Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever thought that no one could be lower than you; that God couldn’t possibly love you? He did. He threw himself on the mercy of God.
How does God respond to our confession? Grace. We’ll never do anything to make Him love us more or less. The Pharisee put on a good show … somehow I don’t think God was impressed. The self-righteous religious expert needed grace, too. I just don’t think he realized it. Pride will do that to you.
Pastor Mark Wilbanks