A prayer for all believers in Christ
Before we explore John 5: 1-11 can you walk with me for a while and consider our hearts? I would like to start by asking what fills your inner being, what defines you? It’s a difficult one to answer, if you are like me many things can fill my inner being most of them things I would rather did not. I do believe followers of Jesus people who have given their lives to Jesus do have at their centre a Jesus zone a place were Jesus lives a holy of holies a temple sealed and defined by the Holy Sprit of God. But we can allow even this place to become cluttered filled with things that are not of God nor honour God, its all to easy to do. There are warning signs we should look out for, the alarms should sound when we think its all about US, what about my needs, what about the things I want and should have and on it goes, the self-centred the me, me, me that’s when we are not living like Jesus.That’s when we need him the most, need to be filled anew. We need to live like Jesus to bring him the glory and honour. consider Pauls prayer for the Ephesians and I would add all beleivers in Christ.
Ephesians 3 14 – 21
A Prayer for the Ephesians
14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians we just shared would be I believe his prayer for all believers in Jesus Christ. For us as well, so before we revisit John lets consider this message as it is a key foundation stone of a life of faith. Consider please verse 20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”. You see I do firmly believe we are all guilty of putting “God in a box”. Its human nature to want to define, to understand and ultimately control our environment the world as we see it, feel it and experience it. In truth the majority of us do not like mystery and we are not that keen on the unknown, especially a potentially life changing dangerous unknown. So how do you feel about God then, are you comfortable that you will never ever be able to define him, control him and understand him? Do you trust him given that you will not be able to do the above? God is not a God of tame lameness, this is the creator of the universe and all things, the warrior God, the Lion of Judah God, the voice in the whirlwind God, the I AM? Given that how are we doing in church these days then? Given that our God is the only God the power behind and before all things that have been and will be, are we then individually and corporately filled with the fullness of God that Paul prayers for, do the signs and wonders testify to this? Do you pray and ask and trust God to do more with you and your life that you could ever imagine and immeasurably beyond anything we could ask or conceive? Do you hunger and thirst to know more of God or are you scared not wanting to let him out of the box, fearing the change to status Quo, the lose of comfort zones? If that is true of you please give it up, please I pray trust God. God formed all of us, created us, knew us before time and loves us. God loves us with a passion and has no plans to harm us. God wants to bless us and help us be the fullness of the people he knows we can be, how can we not trust him? Fear him yes because God is God, but do so knowing that he loves and ultimately that is the driver of all things in all of our lives.
More please for Gods Sake More…..
You see what amazes me and what makes a burning hunger in me is I can never ever know the fullness of God. The more I press on to find more of God the vastness of the I AM is still beyond, its wonderful its amazing. To be promised more than we can imagine to be filled with the fullness of God that should make us hungry, no desperate for more and more and more of God, please God take us beyond ourselves beyond what we know into your wonderful adventure have you way Lord send your consuming fire is what we should pray. You will never get bored with God, even with eternity in his presence God is God and we created things will never and can never understand or define him. Thank God for that! Do you see were I am going with this line of thought. You see now matter that you have learned, read, seen or heard, trust me there is more. No just a little few % more, oh no its an infinite eternal more beyond all we can imagine or understand. So never ever believe any human can define God by theology, religion or any human standards. God is beyond all of that. We need to start seeking God beyond our denominations, beyond our theology and beliefs. We basically need to let God out of what ever box we have set him in and just rejoice and worship God for being God. We need to seek him, I once heard someone say for every step you take towards God he takes two towards you, how true. We are told to be still and know that I am God. Want to find more of God, need to find more of God? Then get to a place were all other things and distractions are gone, a silent and spacious place. You don’t hear his voice in the earthquake, in the storm or the raging fire, you hear his voice in the quite in the stillness of his presence as you draw near, desperate to be with him to learn from him, as it says in verse 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. To be filled with the fullness of God is a promise for each and every believer in Jesus Christ that God is desperate and yearning to fulfil. So for loves sake let him!
Body of Christ
Lets then consider the emphasis of Pauls prayer to the believers in Christ. Firstly it starts with our personal relationship with God
With the relationship that Jesus sacrifice and his blood covenant opened for us, that we sinners could be washed clean and can enter the presence of God as children of God, fragrant and restored. Then its about the fullness, the need for us to desire the more or God, to know more to experience more we can never get enough we will never empty God or get bored due to repeats, its all wonderful, all new to us and so vast, so amazing you get my point. Then as Paul shows the type of relationship and fuels the expectations of the individual believer he then points to the Church. As it says in verse 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
The Church is the body of Christ. So the more believers allow God to glorify himself by surrendering and being filled with his fullness the more we allow Glory to come to the Church, the more glorious the Church will be. The more we allow God to fill us and change us by the inward and outward working of his Holy Spirit, the more we become like Jesus. The more we become like Jesus the more we glorify and magnify Jesus and the more his Church becomes his body with Jesus at its head. Do you follow me, do you see why Pauls prayer to the believers is such a foundation stone. Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith, that is what is promised and if Christ dwells in us what should our response be to the world, to all we meet. Its simple “Love One Another” that’s the key to living like Jesus. Jesus loved and loved, he loved all even those who nailed him to the cross, so we are told to do like wise. The fullness and key attributes of Gods character were and are visible in Jesus and it pours out in big letters LOVE, no exceptions no exclusions just love one another. The more we allow Gods love to fill us and to pour forth from us as a raging torrent hopefully of living water, the more we are like Jesus and the more our hearts are transformed we then become people whose heart is for people that is a God given God like heart! People with a heart for people should be the heart of any and all Churches, I would say without that its not really a Christ centred Church more of a human religious / rules driven group. So lets go to our text John 5: 1-11 and consider living like Jesus and having a heart for people.
The order of things
Wikapedia defines religion as: A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, or religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. What was happening at the pool at the sheep gate pool could be described as a obvious religious experience. Lets look at the reasons why:
The healing happened in a specified manner (ritual. When the waters were stirred or turbulent it was time to enter as an Angel was present (supernatural). And this was all wrapped up in a well defined human driven practice (religious law). So all seem comfortable with this practice of first come first served and only enter the waters when they were stirred. Even if it mean those of the periphery might never get the blessing, might always be outcast and remain waiting for thirty years because no one would help, presumable not even those who were healed. A place of ritual and religious law, a place were love one another was not first in the order of things. Until love walked in though the gate of the Sheep. Not this time like a lamb for the slaughter but to show a hurting world the heart of love.
So you think Jesus is safe?
I just love to visualise what went on when Jesus came. Every one seemed safe in their religious comfort zone, even the man who had we are told been an invalid for thirty-eight years, he was lying there in amongst the other sick, blind and paralyzed folk waiting for the waters to ruffle and then begin the shuffle and hope someone would help him get into the waters. But look at Jesus he singles out this one whom all the others had left, Jesus asked about him and was obviously wondering why they had ignored him for 38 years, Jesus turns the questions the man, asking him “Do you want to get well?“, almost like what are you doing here why don’t you just ask God trust him and get healed why are you wasting all this time? Remember God uses the weak things to shame the strong, uses the sick and lame to challenge the establishment basically saying why have you not helped this man you how claim such religious prowess? The man does not actually answer Jesus directly but makes a list of reasons why he is not healed, can’t do it myself, no one will help me and it goes on. Then the gentle miracle, no thrashing of water, no formulas, ritual or a religious show as it says in verses 8 – 9 Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. Amazing God power, doing immeasurably more than those there could imagine or had conceived. But wait not just an incredible miracle, Jesus also challenges the religious status quo by performing this obvious act of God on a Sabbath in the direct line of view and under the noses of the religious elite, the so called righteous ones. And look at their response it’s a classic, not amazed and falling a the feet of the Messiah in their midst, do they see God right there no they turn to this man healed and walking after 38 years of sickness and infirmity and say to him in verse 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat." Worried about his mat after such a miracle had happened. The law forbids, which can be translated as we will not allow God to be God we do not want his glory here, we are happy and safe in our rules our ways our laws. The man responds with simple words of faith in verse 11 But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, ’Pick up your mat and walk.’ “ And he did!!!
So where do we stand then?
So how does this make you feel? Are we all thinking well that would not happen here not in this church? Are we really so certain, I mean to be honest it is more comfortable holding onto the defined ways, wrapping them in ritual perhaps calling it the way its always been done and we leave little room for God in our midst. Then even if he does turn up we still might not see or want to change. The place of life becomes a place of death, cold replaces fire and habits replace love and passion. I know this is not the Church Jesus is looking for to be his bride, look in the first chapters of revelation if you don’t agree.
Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life (To the Church in Smyrna)
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first (To the Church in Thyatira)
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God (To the Church in Sardis)
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown (To the Church in Philadelphia)
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! (To the Church in Laodicea)
Jesus wants his Church to be alive, abundant, passionate, powerful and glorious – a radiant beautiful bride fit for the king of all things
We need churches filled with people with a heart for people
People filled with the fullness of God and rooted in the love of Christ. People hungry for more and not afraid of pressing forward, not afraid to lose their religion, not afraid of the unknown and trusting in God for all things.
People with a heart for people
I recently heard Robert Fergusson a minister at the Hillsong Church in Sydney define four types of people with a heart for people, people who are inspiring, not comfortable to be around, go out into communities to help the sick, wounded, bleeding, dying ones into a deep pool of blessing, these people are characterised by these four values:
1) Enter a disabled World:
They go to the invalids (physical and spiritual), powerless, blind those unable to help themselves quench their own thirst. They know that we are all disabled but for the touch of Jesus that heals us, frees us to then become a blessing for others to bring the healing power of Jesus to them. They get out of the comfort zone to reach those on the periphery of things and bring them into the glorious presence of Jesus.
2) Challenge the Status Quo:
They are not prepared to tolerate injustice and lets things be for the sake of keeping order, Jesus healed on a Sabbath knew the scorn he would get but did the will of God. Look at Jesus he went to the weak and found great faith we can do the same. We preach to the whole person the whole gospel of Jesus. We speak of freedom and wholeness a power beyond man an authority higher than mans like Jesus did.
3) Upset a selfish world:
Our world is essentially selfish people are self centred when they have nothing else to centre themselves on. The people around the pool push and fought to get into the waters when the stirring started desperate for their own healing. More interested in their own needs than others and presumably when healed did not turn to help the others. We need to challenge the selfish ways in ourselves and our Churches and go out of our comfort into community pouring ourselves out for the sake of others, like Jesus did.
4) Offer a helping hand and a smile:
Look at Jesus he gave a miracle did not hang around for the glory just disappeared into the crowd. Remember God loves all so reach out in love, smile and care like Jesus did. We need to likewise give without expecting reward.
Give all to all like Jesus did. God knows that all we should need as we give, give, GIVE like Jesus did for us.
So what is the fullness of Christ?
We firstly need to confess Jesus is Lord let him into our hearts. Then we need to let go of ourselves, this does not mean ceasing to be US it means by our surrender and letting God be God in us, through us and around us we actually become the US that God created and saw before the beginning of time. You see when we are rooted and established in Christ, we need not fear what happens next our worry as to how or why just seek the king, get hungry for God. You can never ever be filled beyond what God can give. Living as people described in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 18 – 19 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Power to live as people with a heart for people
People with a heart filled with Jesus Christ. People with giving all for the one who gave it all! We need to awake and claim our glorious inheritance to live in the fullness of God. So the God maybe glorified by our lives, that we might live like Jesus. God wants to give us more of him, more of his presence more of his power and glory are we hungry for it do we want more. Do we want miracles, healing, signs and wonders
Do we want a Church alive and passionate filled with a people who’s hearts are for people, for Jesus. If you do it must start with each of us, start by turning to God, surrendering our hearts anew, the past does not matter its that wonderful future that awaits that eternity with Jesus starts here so ask to be filled with the fullness of God, desperate for it above all things. Want some, then lets pray and trust in God and let go and let God be God for Gods sake his kingdom come his will be done here on earth as in heaven. Amen.