Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 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. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralysed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 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?’ 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.’ 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. John 5:1-9
Jesus later, a few verses down finds the man again and says “go and sin no more”
I love this passage. I love it because it’s a radical life changing encounter with Jesus and a radical life changing healing. I love it because of the ripple effects from this one event would have rippled out into his family and community and city. I love it because it challenges me in my areas of paralysis that nothing is too big for Jesus to heal and nothing is too big for God to change and that Jesus can break life long chains of pain and restriction and sin and fear.
We’re going to look at 3 keys from what Jesus said to this man that can revolutionise our own lives.
1 GET UP
"What is stopping us from getting up and moving on? Don’t let the enemy paralyze you to keep you where you are." – Beth Moore
And why does the enemy want to paralyse you?
Because you are a force for the Kingdom of God – demonstrating the reality of God and His love and grace.
Isaiah 61 says – the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
YOU are anointed and appointed to wreck havoc on the kingdom of darkness, to see peoples eternities changed and to bring glory to God.
Devils worst nightmare!
So if he can paralyse you and numb you and restrain you and distract you and discourage you… he will… he will use anything and everything to knock you down.
He will attempt to stop you from talking to your workmate or classmate about Jesus. He will stop you from asking to pray for someone. He will stop you from taking that great career opportunity. He will stop you from getting involved in the worship team. He’ll tempt you into that wrong relationship, he’ll sap your zeal, he’ll kill steal and destroy. He’ll lie to you and tell you you are hopeless and insgificant and remember how you sinned earlier today… yeah well that’s disqualifying and unchristian eh.
But you know what… Greater is HE in ME than he that is in the world.
And he is defeated. Defeated at the cross.
And I am armed to the hilt and equipped and protected.
Sure there are days when I’ll feel discouraged or feel pressed down but its at those times I refuse to lie down on my mat and live in that oppression.
So how do we break free?
Firstly John 8:32 says you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free –
– Jesus has won the victory. Done it all.
Secondly – John 8:31 says If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
The Amp says it like this: So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.
I align my thoughts and my words to proclaim and experience His victory.
Abiding with jesus leads to knowing truth and experiencing freedom (from John 8:31-32)
Abiding with God is a fancy word for being with, staying with, walking with, connected with.
2 AND WALK
"The Son of Man has authority over whatever has you paralyzed. Get up and walk." – Beth Moore
Sometimes its not the enemy getting us down – its our own self limitations, confidence issues or whatevers!
Sometimes we’ve got to just walk – get some momentum!
Back to Isaiah 61. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me TO
TO – to DO SOMETHING
Faith has actions. If you believe if you’ll do it. If you believe it you’ll walk in it.
Imagine if the paralysed man did nothing. if he didn’t rise. If he didn’t move. If he stayed on his mat. If he didn’t put those healed muscles into use – if he didn’t use his new given mobility. What a limited lifestyle he would live.
Some of us are acting that same way in our lives – we’re healed and saved and set free and called by God but we’re stuck, paralysed by our own inaction.
Stretch out into the potential of who God has created you to be and who HE is in you.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
You know its His grace that is at work in us and through us. Have confidence in His grace, to love you and to empower you.
Do you have a crazy dream? Something that resonates in your heart and makes your temperature rise and that propels you forward? It might be ministry. This was my crazy dream. It might be to be a mum or a dad. It might be your career path. It might be to talk to one stranger a week about Jesus. It might be to write a book, write a song, write a movie. Travel the world. Be a missionary in outer Mongolia. It might be to reach a people group, like geeks or rugby heads.
Get a dream, live a dream. Get up off your mat and walk. Take those first steps into living out your dreams.
The first step before anyone else in the world believes it is that you believe it. Will smith
Take a spiritual machete to insecurity and get God’s perspective of who we are.
Called. Chosen. Anointed. Gifted. Purposed.
Your personality and quirks are designed by God. Your strengths are purposed by Him. Your weaknesses are no obstacle to Him moving through you.
How often does insecurity want to squeeze us into some mould? Look like that, dress like that, speak like that, be like that, do that, see that. That is not reality. Reality is we’re all different and we all need to be different. If you are constantly checking yourself against someone elses check list then you’re limiting yourself from stepping out and being real. And you know what – sometimes those check lists just don’t exist. THOSE people that we often worry about are NO people.
Think about how much insecurity and comparison distracts us from growing in our own character and calling in life, how it creates offense instead of connection.
Where in the world would we be without people who will take one small step for man one giant leap for mankind – no one had done the moon thing before – pah!
Where would be if Christopher Columbus or whoever it was decided to sail off the edge of the world and in the process discovered most of the western world?
What would American society look like if a woman didn’t write uncle tom’s cabin, if she bowed to the perceived pressure pressure of what was the norm?
Being free from insecurity is a decision to not listen to those voices any more but to surrender to one voice alone – God Almighty, your father in heaven, who created you fearfully and wonderfully, who breathed out the stars and has a plan and a purpose for you. Right now. Today. When you don’t perhaps have it together, when you think you’ve missed the boat. Today. Now. Get up and walk.
3 GO AND SIN NO MORE
Get up and walk and go and sin no more.
Sin can feel so good sometimes eh. The temptation. The quick smack of satisfaction. the rush of the it feels sooo right in the moment.
But its going to paralyse you faster than you can say freeze.
The way to live in freedom is to live in obedience. Not to pay God back for salvation, not to earn gold stars, not to earn opportunities and blessings, but because there is a right way to live and God – remember, star breather, creator of the universe, eternal and all knowing and all powerful – He has the wisdom to know it.
Going and sinning no more is more than a behavioural change. More than just pulling on our big girl pants and going “I will be good!”
We have the righteousness of Christ. It’s a gift. We swapped accounts at the cross. Jesus got my bad rap sheet and I got His perfect rap sheet. It’s done and finished and accredited to me. But there is a living out of that.
And the greatest motivation to do that is to fix your eyes on Him and see His magnificence and His goodness and greatness. Have a hunger and longing to know Him and let that be what burns inside your life and motivates you. Its more than just morality or ticking the boxes it’s about knowing God and living to please Him.
Right now make a decision to break the cycle. Right now make a decision to get up and walk and live changed.
With God we can overcome any addiction and any habit. With God we can see life long change even from the most ingrained habits that we may put down to personality trait.
My 3 keys for change are this:
- replace the sin with something of greater satisfaction – how did I change my eating habits from gluten full to gluten free – I replaced the temporary satisfaction of eating fluffy white bread with health. Change a promiscuous sexual lifestyle with a vision of a committed fulfilling marriage – free from the destruction that baggage and multiple sexual histories and possible stds brings. Change a deceptive leaning with an image of the healthy credibility account you’ll have which will create fantastic stable drama-less friendships. Change a life of feeling far away for God with drawing near to Him and encountering His presence. What is your greater satisfaction? God. Every time. He is better.
- Don’t give room for sin to grow. You don’t find many alcoholics hanging out at the pub. You won’t find me any time soon loitering at a bakery. Turn off the tv. Turn the computer off. Don’t reply to that text message. Create a habitual lifestyle that makes it easy to obey. Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, keep and guard your heart with all vigilance, for out of it flow the springs of life. Guard your heart with your decisions and choices and positioning. And it’s not just the really wicked things that rob us of that intimacy with God and lead us astray. Matt Chandler was saying at hosuegroup the other night that it is the neutral things that steal away that affection and desire we have for God. Think about those things that stir your heart towards God and create passion in your life to know Him and make Him known. Cultivate them. Make room for them. And conversely, think about what steals that away and makes our hearts lukewarm and then avoid them like the plague!
- talk to someone – a big person in your life, a mentor, housegroup leader, youth pastor – you know, we’re real people and we’ve struggled too and prob with the same things you are – talk to someone, see how they’ve overcome, what strategies they’ve used If you confess yr sin 2 God u get FORGIVEN (1 Jn 1:9). If u confess yr sin 2 others & get them 2 pray 4 u, u get HEALED (Ja 5:16). Good, open accountability w God & gd ppl is the only way 2 walk in freedom! (totally pinched word for word from Peter’s fb status on Tuesday)
Reality is – we’ve probably heard that 100 times before. Right?
Reality is – we still sin. I still sin. I am by behaviour a sinner. I stuff up all the time. As much as I don’t want to. I stuff up by the things I do and the things I don’t do.
We tell ourselves that a real Christian wouldn’t do the things we do… a fired up Christian wouldn’t make the same mistakes we do.
"Sometimes paralysis of unforgiveness can be towards yourself." – Beth Moore
Sometimes we haven’t recognised the power of God’s forgiveness and grace and how getting that on the inside can change us.
Don’t let the past hold you back – jesus has reckoned it dead and forgiven. Don’t let your own failures and flaws paralyse you when Jesus doesn’t count that against you. That’s the whole point of forgiveness and grace. Our identity as children of God is not secured by our lack of sin but by Christ’s blood.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12
Give yourself a history lesson of all that God has done.
The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, just remember…
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah was a bullfrong… Just kidding! Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha had anxiety issues
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer… AND
Lazarus was dead!
You are no longer paralysed. You have a new life, a fresh start.
Get up and walk in the ways of God.
John 5:9 says At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
At once, immediately, right then the mans life was changed. The chains of paralysis were broken forever. He got up and walked.
That opportunity is yours right now to take.
Get up and leave the insecurity behind.
Get up and walk in the victory Jesus has won for you.
Get up and step into your destiny.
Get up and change the way you live.