Change Your Story
– Everyday, you are telling a story with how you live your life. Is it inspirational? Or a cautionary tale?
– The words you use, and the choices you make tell the tale of what is important in your life.
– If you are a Christian: What is “your story” saying about your Savior, and the God you serve?
– Does your life show “freedom FROM sin” or “freedom TO sin”? (What does grace mean?)
– ARE YOU settling for His gifts, but ignoring His guidance? Seeking His works, but ignoring His Word?
– If “your story” isn’t drawing people towards salvation, then change your story!
* Read Mark 1:40-45, (Jesus heals the man with leprosy)
– “The Gospel according to Mark”: Mark was not a disciple, and likely never met Jesus in the flesh.
– There was a strong tradition of oral story-telling, supervised by eye witnesses. Before all of the eye witnesses died, it was determined that the story of Jesus should be written down to preserve the accuracy of this testimony. (Mark was the first gospel written down.)
– Mark was a follower of Peter, and served as his interpreter as he preached. He probably heard these story hundreds of times, and knew them well. (That’s why they chose Mark.)
– Jesus had just begun his ministry, and had been going from town to town preaching in the synagogues, casting out demons, and healing people.
– The message: Mark 1:15, “The time promised by God has come at last!” he (Jesus) announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
– The mission: Mark 1:38, But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.”
– This story is one of many examples, in this section of scripture, in which Jesus healed people, cast out demons, and preached the Good News.
– Jesus heals a man with leprosy: This can refer to many different skin diseases, all of which would make a person unclean, and an outcast from family and society.
Point #1: What are you begging for? (Read verses 40-42 again)
– The sick man begged, “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
– “If you are willing…” (Obviously Jesus is capable. The man begs that Jesus will “want to”.)
– Jesus was “moved with compassion”, implying his attitude or actions were changed.
– Jesus came to meet spiritual needs, not physical needs, but because he loves people so much, he shows compassion on this desperate and lonely man.
– This makes me wonder if the man really knew what he was asking for?
– The man asks to be healed and made clean, assuming his need was physical, but Jesus came so the man could be made spiritually healed and clean. (This is what we all REALLY need!)
– Example: Movie Bedazzled, man wants woman’s affection strikes deal with devil, gets his wishes but not how he meant them. (Rich and famous- becomes notorious drug lord)
– We need to recognize why Jesus came, and what God’s plan is. Not for our comfort and rest, but for our reconciliation!
– Jesus can heal you, if YOU are willing!
– Sometimes we pray that Jesus would be willing to heal our lives, when inside we are resisting the change he would have for us. We don’t allow him to heal us.
– We must be willing to receive what Jesus has in store for us. Be obedient to his plan for us.
Point #2: Why didn’t the man listen to Jesus? (Read verses 43-44 again)
– Did he think he was doing Jesus a favor by giving him props? (Like Jesus was just being humble and using reverse phycology or something.)
– Did he think he was doing something even greater than Jesus had asked? (Well meaning, but wrong!)
– But Jesus didn’t want the “celebrity status” at this point of his ministry!
– Jesus was trying to speak in synagogues and towns but now couldn’t, because the crowds were too big for that. (Example: The next story in Mark is the paralytic lowered thru roof.)
– Because the man didn’t obey, it made Jesus’ mission more difficult.
– Maybe the man was so excited to receive the miracle that he got distracted from listening to Jesus?
– He was an outcast from society and his own family. Now he can be accepted again.
– You think he would have been so thankful that he would have obeyed Jesus’ every word.
– The Man’s motives are unclear, but what we do know is that he did not obey Jesus, and the consequences were negative.
– Jesus told the man to follow the Law of Moses, found in Leviticus chapter 14:
– Jesus came to fulfill the law, and this was an act of obedience! (Like baptism, tithing, etc…)
– Don’t receive the wrong message here: Jesus told him to follow the law, not that the law would save him. The ceremony was for his benefit, a public testimony of his cleansing.
– Not our example to follow. We are to proclaim the blessings of Jesus in our lives, but for HIS glory, or else we could see a people coming to Jesus for the wrong reasons!
Point #3: A changed life will always testify.
– His life was changed, and he had to tell his story, but what he tells about Jesus affects what the crowd will come looking for in him:
– My first thought was, “This guy screwed the whole thing up! He single handedly threw a wrench in Jesus’ plans!”
– The Book of Mark, and the Book of Luke record this story in exactly the same way. (They probably both heard it from Peter.)
– This adds credibility to the account because they are so consistent, written by educated men, from eye witness testimony. (Luke was a follower of Paul, and a doctor.)
– Luke 1:1-4, Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
– The Book of John doesn’t mention this story, but does mention others like it.
– The Book of Matthew tells it a bit differently: (Eye witness and one of the 12 disciples)
– In Matthew, the crowds had already begun to swarm Jesus and effect his ability to enter towns and buildings, BEFORE this one man told his story.
– It appears that the healed man was not the only one Jesus showed compassion for and healed, who couldn’t stop telling the story of Jesus.
– There were many people telling the story of the Man who performs miracles:
– This created a crowd that was more interested in Jesus’ service, than his salvation.
– Example: Some churches these days focus programming and physical needs, and minimize the need for salvation, repenting of sin, and obedience to God and His word.
– Has the Miracle distracted from the message?
– Disneyland children’s church is awesome. Really, I do love it! But it can’t be more of a draw for people than eternal salvation.
– Question: Didn’t Jesus draw people in by meeting their physical needs as a means to share the gospel? Isn’t that what churches are trying to do today?
– Get them in the door with coffee stands and rock worship, then tell them about Jesus while they are trapped there.
– It didn’t work in Jesus’ day either. John 12:37, But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him.
– Example: Be careful of the “bait and switch”. Be honest about what it is all about! (Like “free carpet cleaning” and getting trapped in the endless sales pitch… they won’t leave!!)
– Don’t be surprised when people then turn away from the church.
– They come looking for blessings that make them feel good, and are confronted with sacrifice and changing their lives. It’s not what they signed up for. (It is what they need).
– It’s like someone who won’t go to the doctor because they think he will give them the bad news about they are sick. They are sick anyways, but pretend they don’t know because the doc hasn’t told them yet.
– People need to hear the truth of the gospel! That is the ONE thing the world isn’t already feeding them!
– When people did come to Jesus, he gave them what they really needed:
– Like the man lowered through the roof on a mat, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.”
– When people come to church, we can give them what they really need too! (Jesus)
– People come in with “Me-centered thinking”, and we point them to HIM.
– As Christians we can lose focus on what is important also:
– We begin to become dependent of the miraculous and emotional works of the Holy Spirit, and forget the purpose of that power: Sanctification!
– From the book, Multiply, “The spirit can do unbelievable things in and through us. The miracles recorded in the New Testament often inspire us to pursue similar experiences today. But keep in mind that it is the Spirit we are pursuing, not a specific supernatural experience. As you seek to live by the power of the Spirit, look to the promises of God’s word. Trust the Spirit to show His power however He wants. More often than not, the Holy Spirit guides us by shaping who we are. He gives us new desires so that we gradually begin to live with the goal of glorifying God in all of our decisions. Though this doesn’t look as dramatic as healing the sick or foretelling the future, it is every bit as miraculous.”
– What are you begging for from Jesus? Something physical and temporary, or spiritual and lasting?
– Change your story! Your life as a Christian should preach salvation through Jesus. That’s is what people really need! Not just blessings.
– A changed life will testify!
– If it hasn’t changed you, then it will not appeal to them.
– If they can see the authentic change in you, their heart will tell them that this is the real deal, and they will want to be here.
– Your story will either draw people to the miracles, or His Majesty. To His services, or his salvation. To His grace, or His gifts. You will decide the story your life in Christ tells!
– prayer –