Summary: God wants to help us through the fire and after the fire as well.
“When the Fire Dies Down”
Matthew 9:35-38; 11:28-30 10/5/14
The headlines said, “One hundred forty four homes destroyed in the Boles fire!”
The fires are out. The smoke has cleared. Most of the emergency personnel have gone home. Things are quickly becoming normal. We’ve gone back to our caffeine and TV's and desserts. The football games are on and the snacks are in the bowls! But everything has changed. You can never be the same when you go through what we have gone through. Trauma changes you. The destruction of what you or someone you care about changes you. The Spirit changes you. And all of us are a little more tender toward the Holy Spirit - or we are a little more hardened. Some of us are determined to continue seeking God and growing spiritually and living closer to Him.
Some are resolved that things are okay and there is no need to rock the boat. Things will continue on as they were. We survived and it’s back to the status quo. And that is unfortunate. That’s dangerous spiritually. But some of us recognize that we are among that group of people Jesus was talking about. We realize that we are harassed and helpless. We realize we are weary and burdened. And maybe we didn’t get all of our expectations fulfilled or the hopes that we started the adventure with realized. But we are a little closer. We are a little nearer to the Lord than when we began. And I’m happy about that. I’m pleased that the fire brought many of us a little closer to the Lord.
But the battle isn’t ended, is it? It still rages. The fire no longer rages – but spiritual battles for many still rage. Some in our community already got knocked back a peg or two. Some have already gone back to their pot or their alcohol or that adulterous relationship - for comfort and to be medicated from the harassment of life. That saddens me. I feel so badly for those of you that have experienced that. I wish there were three things I could get across to people in the wake of this experience.
First of all, I wish you would understand that Jesus really loves you. He really values you. The Scripture says that when Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them. Do you understand what compassion is? Sometimes we see a hurting child and have compassion on them. In our church we have a program called “Compassionate Ministries”. It’s where we bring food and clothing and supplies to hurting people; to starving people; to needy people.
We saw a lot of compassion from people working for the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and Great Northern. The police and the fireman showed compassion as they served the community. Our church was compassionate as we got involved. Nazarene Churches sent money, emergency care kits, and offered to come and help any way they could. Our denomination is a loving group. Compassionate Ministries is just one way we show we care. It’s a very wonderful program. And most years our church receives an award for being a compassion church, because we support this ministry. But compassion is kind of like the old English word “Charity”. The Greek word is “Agape’”. And it means love - but not just love. There is a giving to it. It is selfless and considerate. It isn’t just words – it is deeds, as well.
So when you have compassion on someone you not only feel tenderness, and kindness toward them. You are moved to do something about their situation. James said,
“What good is it, my brother, if a man claims to haith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothers or daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about is physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action – is dead.”
Jesus often had compassion on people and He expressed it by feeding them or healing them or forgiving their sins. Jesus had compassion on the people of His day and He has compassion on you. He sees you. Late at night when the sleep won’t come and you are filled with fears and anxiety - Jesus is there. You reach for that bottle of pills or that joint or that can of beer, but Jesus wishes you would reach out to Him instead. He longs to help. He longs to bring peace. He really wants you to experience joy and love and security.
People often try to excuse their crutches and their self-medication by saying a little alcohol is good for you. Some say marijuana is good when it is taken properly. But they miss the point. The point is that when we reach for a joint instead of Jesus, our faith is in that weed and not in the Savior. When we are full of anxiety and fear, and sleep evades us because of our stress and burdens - and we reach for a can of beer instead of the Christ on the throne - our faith is in what that drug can do for us. And we witness to our belief that Jesus won’t supply our need. We express the fact that we really don’t believe Jesus.