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He Challenges Me

In the story of the paralytic man being let down through the roof, everyone was amazed that he stood up and walked away (Mark 2:4-12; Luke 5:17-26). That a person who could not walk stood up and walked after they came in contact with Jesus, who forgave him of his sin. The message of this story is clear, Jesus can forgive you of your sins and he can heal you of your diseases.

For a few minutes, I want us to think about the story that is not so obvious. I want us to think about these men who brought this paralyzed man to the house. Other than they were mentioned as the ones who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, the only other thing said about them was that Jesus saw their faith (Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20). Then he told them their sins were forgiven them.

What was in these men that they would open up a hole in a person's roof, lower their friend down right in front of Jesus as he was teaching before a group of people so large no one could get into the house, where there were leading religious leaders present? The nerve of someone interrupting as Jesus was teaching. Can you imagine being in a large church somewhere and all the sudden someone comes rushing in, stopping the pastor as he is preaching, and completely stopping the church services? Most likely these people would be escorted out of the building and security would hold them until the police got there to arrest them. If someone was to go into the Temple in Jesus' day and did this same thing to the High Priest while he was conducting one of the ceremonial services, they would have been taken out and beat them.

But these men were not concerned about what people thought of them, nor the punishments they might get from interrupting Jesus. I think it is wonderful that Jesus first noticed their faith and then he said to them, "Your sins are given you."

Halleluiah! He did not scold them; he did not tell them to leave; he did not reprimand them for their interruption. Jesus simply forgave them by blessing them.

This story is so encouraging to me because it shows how having faith in Jesus Christ can challenge us to be so much more than we are expected to be. Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to save us so that we remain in our state of being quiet, lost in the crowd, and afraid to reach out and make a difference. We are saved so that we are challenged to move beyond all of our inabilities, and become the creature we were created to be. This is why "All things become new" as we develop into the new creation we are in Christ Jesus (2Corinthians 5:17).

He Challenges Me to be Saved, Healed, and Live for Him

The message of the gospel causes me to reach out to the love of God with hope and renewed joy. When I first heard that Jesus was love, I could not resist the love of God. The first time I heard a person preaching, and I listened to what was being preached, I was a fifteen-year-old teenager. I was in church for the first time so I could be near my mother who I had not seen but two or three times since I was four years old. The family I lived with (through my father) had moved back to our hometown of Amarillo, Texas. My mother was attending a church near her house with her new husband and my two sisters from their marriage. I showed up that Sunday morning so I could be near my mother. I was not interested at all with the concept of the church or being in church. But as the pastor started preaching from John Chapter One where John the Baptist said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" It drew my attention. As I sat there listening, the pastor shared how this Lamb is the love of God to the world. I became overwhelmed as I looked up and said silently in my heart, "Jesus you are the one I have always needed." At that moment, I was consumed by the love of God. I learned later that what I was experiencing was the Holy Spirit confirming in me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that His love had filled my heart because I confessed He was what I needed.

Every day when I open up the Bible to learn more about who Jesus is, He renews my salvation because He continues to challenge me that I am saved. I learned that being saved does not depend upon me, but it is Jesus that guarantees we are saved. He is the one who paid for sin, and he is the one who keeps me.

"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand."

[John 10:28-29 NKJV]

Salvation is not just being saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, but it is also part of the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:17). As a helmet protects the head, Salvation is our protection against the days of evil. When you find yourself unable to do right, which we all do, we have our Salvation to protect us from thinking we are now lost. Sin is crippling and continued sin is deadly to the body. But thanks be to Christ Jesus that he says to us, "Your sins are forgiven!"

There is no one that can make you feel lost, without hope and bound to eternal hell if you are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Salvation is our helmet of protection, guarding our minds against anything that will try to make you think your salvation is not working. Every time you overcome sin by asking forgiveness, Jesus renews your heart to a fresh joy that your salvation is sure. The sweet fellowship with Jesus and the sound confirmation of the Holy Spirit, that your confession of sin has renewed your being, can never be stopped or delayed because we have an armor that shields off anything other than what is of God.

Amen!!! Salvation is mine because Jesus said it is!! And I believe in my Lord and Savior!!!!

As I continued to grow in knowledge and grace, one day I discovered that I do not have to stay sick anymore. Just as the man that was lowered down in front of Jesus, I learned I can be healed of all of my sicknesses and diseases. Healing is one of the gifts of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12:9). In Ephesians 4:8 we are told that Jesus "gave gifts to men." The Gifts of the Spirit are given to us through the baptism of the spirit and we have full access to these gifts so that we can equip the saints, do the work of ministry, and edify one another. These gifts are in us when we have been filled with the spirit. As I learned more about these things I heard a man preaching one day, who said, "You never have to remain sick another day of your life." Then he went on to explain how we can use the Gifts of the Spirit to overcome sickness in our own bodies. We can speak against any sickness that comes upon us and we can overthrow it, by commanding it to leave our bodies. By commanding sickness to leave your body in the name of Jesus Christ, that sickness has to bow to the name of Jesus and follow what it is commanded to do. That day I decided that I would make this part of my life. Since then, every time I am sick, I command it to leave me and I start recovering from the sickness. Sometimes it takes a couple of days before the effects of the sickness on my body is renewed, but I always regain my strength and continue in the life that God has created me for. Sickness has no home in my body because of the greatness of Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins. He forgave me of my sins and now there is nothing that can keep me from doing what He wants me to get done.

Because Jesus has saved me and He has shown me how to remain well in my body, He challenges me to live a life for him. These truths about the gospel and the ability to overcome sickness have challenged me to know more and do more. I have learned that I can use the Fruit of the Spirit to become more like Jesus. The Fruit of the Spirit shows us the character of God. These are the things about God and Jesus that we love so much. When I was saved, Jesus came into my heart and I now have the character of Jesus abiding in me. I have learned that I can use His character to improve my own character. Because Jesus' character abides in me, I can pull these things out from inside of me and they become who I am. When I need to love I just have to reach inside my being, because Jesus is there, and love. I don't have to learn how to love I can just become love because it is inside my being. Joy and peace can flow out because it is inside me. Kindness and goodness can flow out of my being, consuming me with the very character of Jesus Christ. How marvelous that we don't have to learn how, but we only have to let Jesus pour out of us through the Fruit of the Spirit.

These men knew who Jesus was. They knew He could change this man's life forever if he was taken to Jesus. The goodness and kindness that was in them caused each one to think of a way to get this paralyzed man in front of Jesus, carry him there. We are challenged by this story to carry people to Jesus Christ. Since He is not here on the earth today, we have to use the Fruit of the Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit, and the Armor of God, combined with the gospel and bring people to Jesus Christ. Because I have come to know who Jesus is and that He abides in me, the salvation that Jesus placed within me when I believed, has challenged me to live a life given over to presenting Jesus Christ who is alive in me. This requires me to let Jesus come out and let my ways be diminished.

I will be Jesus to the world because He has challenged me to do so.

He Challenges Me to Become More than I am Afraid of

It could have been very intimidating for these men to lower their friend down through the roof and set him before Jesus when there were many outcomes to fear, that would lead them to do otherwise. I think it is interesting there is nothing that shows these men allowed anything to keep them from doing what they did. It was as though they went to that gathering with the attitude they were going to put their friend before Jesus even if they had to dig a hole in the roof, and that is just what they did.

We have all kinds of things telling us we cannot do this or we cannot do that when it comes to our commitment unto the Lord. Because I know who Jesus is, He challenges me to go beyond what I am afraid of and do what I know is right. It was right for them to put that man down through the roof. Some would be upset that they tore out the roof.

In the first church, I was called to work in, they had me come to be their youth minister. Back in those days, they did not use the term youth pastor, but the position is the same. The church had me come on staff and we had one teenager and three or four children. The church was a very small country church, north of Amarillo, Texas, my hometown. It cost me more to drive to the church than they were paying me to come work with their children and teenagers. I was eighteen years old and I had a great desire to do the things God was showing me. Jesus had built me up in spite of my difficult life, so I wanted to share the great things I was learning in the Word to help teenagers and children learn how to use the things of God to overcome in life. From the very beginning, I hit brick walls because the adults in the church did not want me to do some of the things I was doing with the teenagers. I was meeting at the church twice a week the teenagers and teaching them how to use the Bible to help them with the problems they faced. I would let someone share their problem and I would use the Bible to find the answers. Then I told the youth to share what we learned with their parents. I was told real fast that I did not have the authority to teach the teenagers these things. I asked these parents why were they not answering these questions for their children? All this did was make them madder because they were too ashamed they did not know how to answer their children's questions. I was even being questioned by the pastor. It turned up because I faced the angry parents with truths from the Word of God, no one, to include the pastor, wanted to continue challenging my answers to their children. I eventually won over the parents and the Word of God flourished with the children.

There have been many obstacles standing in my way since those days in 1970, but I have been able to stand against the things that could have frightened me because Jesus challenges me to more than the things I am afraid of. I have had huge men face me in the U.S. military, telling me I could not continue sharing things about Jesus and out of the Bible, even commanders; but they have all fallen under the truths of the gospel and the love of God. Jesus has shown me that I am much greater than my fears because He is always with me and I have the Fruit of the Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit, and the Armor of God to help me overcome in all things.

He Challenges Me to stretch Beyond My Own Abilities

Some may think they do not have any abilities to do things for the Lord Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. Some may feel they do not know enough about the things of God and in their weakness, Jesus would never use them to do anything. Because these men knew who Jesus was, they used their individual abilities to do what they could to get their friend before Jesus. One of them cleared the roof back, as the others started tied cords to prepare the homemade stretcher they were going to use to lower their friend before Jesus. It may have taken courage by one of the men to build up the others that this was something they must do. One of the others may have been creative enough to show them how they could lower their friend on the stretcher. The last man could have been the one who had the compassion enough to think of taking him to Jesus.

We all have diverse abilities and callings. Jesus will use what you have and expand them far greater than you would ever imagine if you will only give yourself to him. Because I know Jesus as I do, He challenges me to stretch myself beyond anything I was every able to do.

When I was first saved I could not read very well. Though I was in the tenth-grade in school I only had about a third or fourth-grade ready ability. This was my own fault because I did nothing to improve my reading skills. Because I had no love in my family, and I endured much child abuse and neglect from my father and step-mother, I could not find any reason for caring about anything. When I was saved at the age of fifteen, I found a renewed purpose for caring, so I started working on my reading skills and my school work. It was very difficult at first and I graduated from High School before I was able to perfect the study habits that I learned from the Word of God. One of the things I did learn was if I would apply myself to honestly work at what was assigned to me in my classes, the Holy Spirit would help me to improve. I got to the place I was relying upon the Holy Spirit to help me be energized so that I would truly care about the level of work I was doing. Then I learned that if I would complete the work, no matter if I understood it or not, but complete the assignments as best I could when it was time for a test, the Holy Spirit helped me find the true answers on the tests. I began making higher and higher grades on my tests until I learned I could make 100's on my test every time by preparing and doing what I was assigned. The Holy Spirit did the rest.

See, Jesus challenges me to stretch beyond my own abilities, because the Holy Spirit is constantly improving me. I learned this so well by the time I went through Bible College I finished my Bachelor's Degree in three years instead of the standard four years. At the end of my fourth year, I had my Master's degree and I was accepted to write my Doctoral Thesis. The type schools I was attending at that time did not allow anyone to start writing their Doctoral Thesis until their sixth year in school and they had to have been a pastor for no less than ten years. I was only an assistant pastor at this time.

The point is, if you will give yourself over to the Lord, He will take your inabilities and turn them into His abilities.

Because I know who Jesus is, He continues to challenge me to be much more than I ever thought I could be. He has called me by name, and when He has done that, He will start showing you who you are in the Kingdom of God. Jesus will challenge you to be who you were created to be!

So, "Take up your bed and walk" because you are not crippled anymore!!!

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