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CHRISTIAN LIFE - STAND AND LISTEN TO GOD Luke 9:28-36; John 8:1-12

DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE!

LUKE 9:28‑36; JOHN 8:1-12

IN A QUIET MOMENT, A MAN REFLECTED ON HIS WAY OF LIFE AND DECIDED THAT HE COULD DO BETTER.  HE TOLD HIMSELF, "I'LL START GOING TO CHURCH AGAIN. THAT MIGHT HELP TO RELIEVE THE EMPTINESS AND LONELINESS I'M FEELING." HE VISITED CHURCH AFTER CHURCH, BUT NONE SEEMED SATISFACTORY. ONE SUNDAY MORNING, HE WANDERED INTO A CHURCH IN WHICH THE SERMON ALREADY WAS IN PROGRESS. HE LISTENED CAREFULLY AS THE PASTOR SPOKE THESE WORDS:

"WE HAVE LEFT UNDONE THOSE THINGS WE OUGHT TO HAVE DONE, AND WE HAVE DONE THOSE THINGS WE OUGHT NOT TO  HAVE DONE."

PREACHING BIBLICAL TRUTH, HE CONCLUDED: “STOP AND LISTEN TO GOD BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING.”

THE MOTTO DOES NOT ALWAYS NEED TO BE,     “DON’T JUST STAND THERE, DO SOMETHING"

WHEN IT NEEDS TO BE,     “DON'T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE!'"

TO FULFILL OUR HEART'S DESIRE TO MEET GOD DEEP WITHIN OUR SOULS, WE MUST BE WILLING

  • TO "STAND THERE"
  • TO SILENCE OUR HEARTS    AND
  • TO DO OUR UTMOST TO CAST OFF ALL TRACES OF THOUGHTS AND FEARS THAT HAUNT US.

WHEN WE COME BEFORE THE LORD IN PRAYER,

  • WE SHOULD PAUSE A WHILE AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD AS THE LORD SAYS IN PSALM 46:10.
  • INSTEAD OF AFFIRMING PHYSICAL CIRCUMSTANCES, AFFIRM YOUR COMPLETE TRUST IN GOD.
  • GET YOUR HEART INTO THE STATE WHERE YOU DON'T CARE WHICH WAY HE WORKS OUT THE PROBLEM.
  • ASK HIM TO WORK HIS PERFECT AND LOVING WILL IN THE SITUATION.
  • THEN JUST STAND THERE AND WATCH THINGS FALL NEATLY INTO PLACE.

SOUNDS SIMPLE? IT ISN’T. BUT IF YOU HAVE FAITH ENOUGH TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP OF NOT TRYING TO DECIDE FOR GOD WHICH WAY HE WORKS OUT THE PROBLEM, THE REST IS EASY.

IN CHAPTERS 4 AND 5 OF HIS FIRST LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS, THE APOSTLE PAUL HELPS US UNDERSTAND THAT EACH ONE OF US IS A COMPOSITE OF BODY AND SPIRIT. IF YOU JUST LOOK DOWN AT YOURSELF, YOU CAN SEE YOUR BODY. IT IS VERY OBVIOUS--FOR SOME OF US IT IS TOO OBVIOUS. OUR BODY OCCUPIES A GREAT DEAL OF OUR TIME AND ATTENTION.

  • WE FEED IT
  • WE DRESS IT
  • WE REST IT 
  • WE TAKE CARE OF IT 
  • WE TRY TO DO THINGS THAT MAKE IT FEEL GOOD.

A GREAT DEAL OF OUR LIFE IS DEVOTED TO OUR BODY BECAUSE THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO OUR OVERALL WELL‑BEING. BUT PAUL WOULD HAVE US UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS ANOTHER PART OF US THAT IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT: OUR INTERIOR BEING . . . OUR SOUL, OUR SPIRIT.

A SOUL THAT IS SICK SPIRITUALLY CAN LITERALLY MAKE THE BODY SICK. SOME SPEAK OF THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE AS THE TREATMENT OF THE WHOLE PERSON, BUT IT DOESN’T ADDRESS SPIRITUAL WELLNESS. PILLS AND MEDICATION MAY ELIMINATE SOME SYMPTOMS OF YOUR ILLNESS, BUT YOU MAY NOT BE HEALED PHYSICALLY UNTIL YOU ARE MADE WHOLE SPIRITUALLY.

THE DEEPEST LEVEL OF YOUR SPIRIT, THE VERY CENTER OF YOUR SOUL, IS THE LEVEL AT WHICH GOD'S HOLY SPIRIT MAKES DIRECT CONTACT WITH YOU WHEN YOU PRAY. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND YOUR OWN SPIRIT ENTER INTO UNION.

JESUS NEEDED PRAYER AT THE END OF A BUSY DAY AND BEFORE ANOTHER ONE BEGAN. REPEATEDLY IN THE GOSPELS WE FIND REFERENCES TO JESUS AT PRAYER.

  • OFTEN FOLLOWING A LONG ACCOUNT OF SOMETHING JESUS DID OR SAID THE WRITER INSERTS THE FACT THAT JESUS WITHDREW FROM THE CROWDS TO PRAY.
  • BEFORE HE CHOSE THE DISCIPLES, JESUS NEEDED TO BE ALONE AT PRAYER.
  • ON THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION, WHEN HE HAD TO MAKE AN IMPORTANT DECISION ABOUT HIS MINISTRY, HE NEEDED TO BE ALONE AT PRAYER.
  • AS JESUS PRAYED, THE ASPECT OF HIS FACE WAS CHANGED, AND HIS CLOTHING BECAME BRILLIANT. PETER AND HIS COMPANIONS WERE WITNESSES TO THIS AWESOME EVENT. THEY SAW HIS GLORY. THEN A CLOUD CAME AND COVERED THEM. AND A VOICE CAME FROM THE CLOUD SAYING, ‘THIS IS MY SON, THE CHOSEN ONE, LISTEN TO HIM!’

THE BETTER PART OF PRAYER IS TO LISTEN. PRAYER IS A "DON'T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE" TIME.  LISTEN TO GOD WHEN YOU PRAY. WE BELIEVERS TALK A LOT ABOUT PRAYER AS OUR MEANS OF TALKING TO GOD AND THANKING GOD AND PRAISING GOD. BUT DO WE REALIZE HOW FUTILE IT IS TO SEEK COMMUNION WITH GOD IN PRAYER WITHOUT LISTENING TO HIM?

  • TAKE TIME TO LISTEN, AND YOU WILL HEAR GOD'S COMMUNICATION OF LIFE THROBBING AND PULSATING DOWN IN THE DEPTHS OF YOUR BEING.
  • TAKE TIME TO LISTEN, AND YOU WILL LEARN TO ACCEPT GOD'S ANSWERS TO YOUR PRAYERS WITHOUT RESERVATION, TRUSTING THAT GOD COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDS YOUR NEEDS AND YOUR PROBLEMS ‑‑ EVEN WITHOUT YOUR TELLING HIM.
  • TAKE TIME TO REALLY LISTEN, AND YOU WILL COME TO SEE AND FEEL THE PROBLEMS AND NEEDS OF OTHERS AS THEY SEE THEM AND AS THEY FEEL THEM.

THE MORE WE JUST "STAND THERE" AND LISTEN TO GOD, THE MORE WE WILL DISCOVER OUR ONGOING NEED TO LISTEN CAREFULLY TO EACH OTHER, UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER, AND RESPOND TO EACH OTHER IN LOVING WAYS. THIS IS WHAT MAKES EFFECTIVE CHRISTIAN WITNESS: TO BE THERE IN JESUS' NAME, LISTENING TO OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, AND DOING FOR OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, BECAUSE WE HAVE FIRST LISTENED TO GOD, AND WE HAVE HEARD WHAT GOD WANTS US TO DO.

AS THEY WERE LEAVING CHURCH ONE SUNDAY, A MAN CONFIDED TO HIS FRIEND THAT HE WAS SUFFERING FROM INSOMNIA. THE FRIEND SAID THAT HE HAD NO TROUBLE GETTING TO SLEEP.  "REALLY?" THE FIRST MAN INQUIRED. "Do YOU COUNT SHEEP?"  NO," THE OTHER REPLIED, "I LISTEN TO THE SHEPHERD."

A MANUFACTURER OF AUTO PARTS ONCE RAN A SERIES OF ADS PROMOTING THE SALE OF ITS SHOCK ABSORBERS. THE AD FEATURED A HUGE FOOTBALL PLAYER WHO WEIGHED AT LEAST THREE HUNDRED POUNDS. THIS GREAT MAN ALWAYS SEEMED TO BE DOING SOMETHING COMPLETELY OUT OF CHARACTER ‑‑ LIKE CHANGING A BABY'S DIAPER, OR SEWING A PIECE OF LACE. THERE APPEARED A SLOGAN WHICH REFERRED BOTH TO THE PERSON AND THE SHOCK ABSORBERS:     "TOUGH, BUT OH SO GENTLE."

THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE LORD JESUS IN THE GOSPELS‑‑THE “OH SO COMPASSIONATE, FORGIVING AND GENTLE JESUS” WHO USES SOME TOUGH TALK FROM TIME‑TO‑TIME. MATTHEW 21:1-10 IS THE RECORD OF JESUS’ TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM ON THE DAY WE CALL PALM SUNDAY. IN THE REST OF CHAPTER 21 AND CHAPTER 22 HE TEACHES HIS DISCIPLES AND THE CROWDS IN PARABLES. HE ALSO SPEAKS ON PAYING TAXES AND MARRIAGE IN THE RESURRETION, GIVES THE GREATEST TWO COMMMANDMENTS, AND ASKS THE PHARISEES FOR THE MEANING OF PSALM 110:1. CHAPTER 23 BEGINS WITH HIS STATEMENT TO THE CROWD AND HIS DISCIPLES TO OBEY THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW AND THE PHARISEES—BUT THEN THESE SELF‑RIGHTEOUS SCRIBES AND PHARISEES ARE SUBJECTED TO SOME VERY TOUGH TALK. JESUS SAYS OF THESE PIOUS, CHURCH‑GOING, HYPOCRITICAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS,

THEY PREACH, BUT THEY DO NOT PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH. THEY BIND UP HEAVY BURDENS, HARD LABOR, AND LAY THEM ON MEN'S SHOULDERS. THEY DO ALL THEIR DEEDS TO BE SEEN BY MEN. THEY LOVE THE PLACE OF HONOR AT FEASTS AND THE BEST SEATS IN SYNAGOGUES. THEY PAY TITHES WHILE NEGLECTING THE WEIGHTIER MATTERS OF JUSTICE, AND MERCY. THEY ARE FRAUDS, BLIND FOOLS, BLIND GUIDES. THEY ARE LIKE WHITEWASHED TOMBS, BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT ON THE OUTSIDE, BUT ON THE INSIDE FULL OF FILTH. THEY DISPLAY A HOLY EXTERIOR, BUT INSIDE THEY ARE FILLED WITH EVIL.

"FOOLS. FRAUDS. BLIND GUIDES. WHITE WASHED TOMBS." NOTICE THAT THESE VERY TOUGH WORDS OF JESUS ARE NOT DIRECTED TOWARD THE AGNOSTICS OR CRIMINAL‑TYPES OR PUBLIC SINNERS. THEY ARE DIRECTED AT RESPECTED CHURCHMEN, MEN WHO PUBLICLY PROFESS FAITH IN GOD, WHO PUBLICLY ADHERE TO RELIGIOUS LAW, WHO PUBLICLY PARTICIPATE IN SACRED CEREMONIES. MUCH OF JESUS' TOUGH TALK MIGHT EASILY APPLY TO FLSE TEACHERS TODAY. JESUS CONDEMNS THESE MEN AS SINNERS OF THE WORST SORT. WHY? BECAUSE THEY USE RELIGION AS A SHOWCASE. THEY PRACTICE A RELIGION OF THE MIND, NOT OF THE SPIRIT, NOT OF THE HEART.

THEY ACKNOWLEDGE GOD, BUT CLOSE THEMSELVES OFF TO THE SPIRIT OF GOD. THEY EMPHASIZE THE MANNER IN WHICH THE SACRED RITUALS ARE CONDUCTED RATHER THAN THE MEANING THEY ARE INTENDED TO CONVEY, TO THEM, DISPLAYING A VIRTUOUS IMAGE IS MORE IMPORTANT TO THEM THAN BEING VIRTUOUS. BECAUSE OF THEIR SELF‑CENTEREDNESS, EGOTISM AND PRIDE, THEY WERE UNWILLING TO CONFORM THEIR LIVES TO THE WILL OF GOD.

WHEN JESUS WAS TEACHING IN THE TEMPLE, HE WAS INTERRUPTED BY THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES WHO BROUGHT A WOMAN BEFORE HIM CAUGHT IN THE ACT OF ADULTERY. THEY ARE QUICK TO CONDEMN THE WOMAN AND ARE READY TO HAVE HER STONED TO DEATH, AS PROVIDED IN THE LAW OF MOSES. WE FIND JESUS CONFRONTING THE WOMAN'S ACCUSERS HEAD‑ON. HE LOOKS UP AT THEM AND SAYS, "IF THERE IS ONE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT SINNED, LET HIM BE THE FIRST TO THROW A STONE AT HER." AND WHEN THEY HEARD THIS, "THEY WENT AWAY, ONE‑BY‑ONE . . . UNTIL JESUS IS LEFT ALONE WITH THE WOMAN WHO REMAINED STANDING THERE." "WHERE ARE THEY?" JESUS SAYS TO HER, "HAS NO ONE CONDEMNED YOU?" SHE REPLIES, "NO ONE, SIR." "NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU," SAYS JESUS. “BUT DON’T SIN ANYMORE.”

IN HIS TOUGH TALK" MODE, WHAT WAS JESUS SAYING TO THE PEOPLE OF HIS TIME? AND WHAT IS HE TELLING US NOW?

  • HE IS TELLING US TO REVERSE EVERY VALUE THAT TURNS OUR LIVES INTO AN EGO TRIP.
  • HE IS TELLING US TO CONFORM OUR VALUE SYSTEM TO THE WILL OF GOD.
  • HE IS TELLING US TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR HUMAN FRAILTIES, OUR ONGOING SINFULNESS, OUR NEED FOR FORGIVENESS.
  • HE IS TELLING US TO ABANDON THE "HOLIER‑THAN‑THOU,” "KNOW‑IT‑ALL‑ATTITUDE” OF SELF‑RIGHTEOUSNESS. AFTER ALL, WHAT FURTHER WORD COULD GOD POSSIBLY HAVE FOR YOU IF YOU KNOW IT ALL?

JESUS IS NOT ASKING US TO COME TOGETHER IN HIS NAME TO PROCLAIM OUR VIRTUES TO THE WORLD. HE IS ASKING US TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR SINFULNESS TO THE WORLD. HE IS ASKING US TO ADMIT THAT WE DO NOT KNOW IT ALL. HE IS ASKING US TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD ALWAYS IN AN ATTITUDE OF EXPECTANCY.

THE STORY IS TOLD OF A MAN WHO HAD BEEN LIVING WITH A TERRIBLE BURDEN OF GUILT FOR MANY YEARS. HE HAD DONE SOMETHING REPREHENSIBLE WHICH NO ONE ELSE KNEW ABOUT, AND HE WAS CONVINCED THAT HE WAS BEYOND ALL HOPE OF FORGIVENESS. FINALLY, HE MET A WOMAN WHO CLAIMED TO BE A MYSTIC. SHE CLAIMED TO HAVE VISIONS IN WHICH CHRIST APPEARED AND SPOKE TO HER. TO TEST HER CLAIM, THE MAN SAID, "YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO SPEAK DIRECTLY WITH CHRIST IN VISIONS. I HAVE A SECRET WHICH NO ONE ELSE ON EARTH KNOWS. THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRIST, PLEASE ASK HIM WHAT SIN I COMMITTED YEARS AGO THAT DESTROYED MY PEACE OF SOUL."

THE MYSTIC SAID THAT SHE WOULD GLADLY ASK CHRIST THE QUESTION.

WHEN HE SAW THE WOMAN AGAIN, THE MAN ASKED, "DID YOU VISIT WITH CHRIST IN A VISION?" "YES," SHE REPLIED. "AND DID YOU ASK HIM WHAT TERRIBLE SIN I COMMITTED YEARS AGO?" "YES." "TELL ME QUICKLY, WHAT DID CHRIST SAY?"

HE SAID, “I DON'T REMEMBER.”

FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE OUR SINS.

TOUGH, BUT OH SO GENTLE.

THE INVITATION

You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).

To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).

You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:

Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.

I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.

Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.

In Your name I pray, Amen.