Summary: An intimate relationship with God enables a person to handle life’s difficulties
Turning Quiet Places into Holy Places
Theologian A. W. Tozer gives tremendous insight as he writes these profound words in his book The Knowledge of the Holy: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
What do you think about God? Do you see Him as being bigger than our star-strewn universe? If so, then the problems of life won’t seem so overwhelming. On the other hand, if we project God onto a small screen in our minds, life’s obstacles can take on giant proportions. We will tremble and quake before them. We will act first and pray later, and the twin fists of panic and worry will pummel our hearts with fear.
In his book Your God Is Too Small, British pastor J.B. Phillips challenges us not to settle for such a meager concept of God.
“Let us fling wide the doors and windows of our minds and make some attempt to appreciate the “size” of God. He must not be limited to religious matters or even to the “religious” interpretation of life. He must not be confined to one particular section of time nor must we imagine Him as the local god of this planet or even only of the universe that astronomical survey has so far discovered. It is not, of course, physical size that we are trying to establish in our minds…It is rather to see the immensely broad sweep of the Creator’s activity, the astonishing complexity of His mental processes which science laboriously uncovers, the vast sea of what we can only call “God” in a small corner of which man lives and moves and has his being.” (JB Phillips, Your God Is to Small NY NY Macmillan Co. 1961 pp 61-62)
Through Jesus Christ, God offers to us understanding and intimacy.
Everywhere Jesus went people came to Him with their needs. His reputation spread as He met those needs. Then the demands increased. His journeys were filled with times of teaching and then the meeting of human needs. It’s what He was about. It’s why He came. As Jesus read in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-21) He foretold of His own ministry. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
As Jesus did these things people were changed. Hope was restored. Renewal of mind and spirit took place. It was an amazing time because of the power of Jesus Christ was unleashed. In Him, heaven met people.
As people encounter the Living God, then as well as today, they sense the bigness of deity’s presence, and find in Jesus Christ a Person that can be trusted. If we are to remain in His presence we must draw ever closer to Him
This is accomplished by…
I. Closeness to God Requires Obedience.
A. Deity descends on the lonely life of a leper v.12 “and it came about that while He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Leprosy, according to Wm. Barclay, proliferated in two forms in Palestine. “There was one which was rather like a very bad skin disease, and it was the less serious of the two. There was one in which the disease, starting from a small spot, ate away the flesh until the wretched sufferer was left with only the stump of a hand or leg. It was literally a living death.”
This was probably the type, which afflicted this man who knelt at the feet of Jesus. Luke says he was “full” of leprosy. He was compelled by the Law to be ostracized from the rest of society. Therefore the agony of his leprosy was intensified by the social stigma attached to it.
Death’s tentacles grabbed his heart as well as his body. When he walked down the street, people kept their distance. Mothers covered their children’s eyes. Doctors shook their heads. No one dared step too close to an open grave
B. When the leper saw Jesus he knew this Man held life in His hands.
1. Desperate lunge of faith, he drew near, falling in the dust before Jesus, he spoke in a trembling voice: “Lord, if you are willing…” No bargaining, no expectations. Just a glint of faith, and that was enough to open the floodgates of Jesus’ compassion. “And He stretched out his hand, and touched him saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him” (v.13).