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Summary: These friends were willing to do whatever it took to get the hurting man to Jesus. Are you seeing the need, overcoming the obstascles and understanding the real problem?

FOUR FRIENDS

A recent television documentary pointed out that the cheetah survives on the African plains by running down its prey. The big cat can sprint seventy miles per hour. But the cheetah cannot sustain that pace for long. Within its long, sleek body is a disproportionately small heart, which causes the cheetah to tire quickly. Unless the cheetah catches its prey in the first flurry, it must abandon the chase. Sometimes Christians seem to have the cheetah's approach to ministry. We speed into projects with great energy. But lacking the heart for sustained effort, we fizzle before we finish. We vow to start faster and run harder, when what we need may be not more speed but more staying power -- stamina that comes only from a bigger heart.

Do you have a cheetah heart? You sit in a service and hear God’s word and jump into something but then find yourself loosing interest and quitting before you finnish. This is especially true of reaching people for Christ. To succeed we need persevearance.

Luke 5:17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up and walk'? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

1. Seeing the Need (17-18)

I want you to put yourself in the position of this man. All your life you have been stuck in a bed. Then you hear that there is someone nearby who is able to heal you but you cannot get to him for help. Like the paralyzed man in John 5 there was no chance of getting to the place of healing.

John 5:2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie -- the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" 7 "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."

The man was paralyzed - and spiritually so are we. We all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has been separated from God by sin and we are unable to save ourselves. Our only hope is in getting to the one who is able to set us free - Jesus. But how can we get to him without help?

Romans 10:14 How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

Have you ever seen the show, M*A*S*H*? Reggie Dabbs tells the story of a real life M*A*S*H* unit. Because of the vast number of wounded, they had to color code the victims of war. Yellow was good. If you had a yellow card put on you, it meant that your injury was not serious. You were given an injection for the pain, and could wait for further treatment. Blue was good. If you had a blue card put on you, it meant that your injuries were serious, but if they operated on you right away, they could save you. Red was bad. If you had a red card, it meant that there was nothing they could do. They just put you to sleep with an injection of morphine, and that was it. It was tough business. The doctor looked at one such hopeless case and told the nurse to red-tag him. The soldier knew what was happening. He grabbed the nurse and told her to say good-bye to his wife and his children and his father and mother. Tears were flowing like sweat at a soccer game, and the nurse couldn’t bear to put a red tag on this young man. She placed a blue tag on him instead. Months later, a general came to inspect the camp. He had some serious questions as he looked over the charts. Why was this soldier given a blue tag instead of a red one? Who switched the tags? No one dared to say anything, until the brave nurse finally spoke up and said she did. Then the general ran over to her and hugged her and cried out, “thank you, thank you for what you did, that was my son, and today he is alive because of you.”

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