Can you hear me now?
Luke 9: 14-24, 29
New Hope Baptist Church
Women of Worship - Women of Faith
Sunday, July 27, 2003
The ear is a precious human commodity. It is often taken for granted and overlooked. We teach our young to give attention to the ear when we teach them to bath; to wash behind your ears. We give attention to the ear when it itches. Sometimes, the ear calls attention to itself when it aches or has a wax buildup. We say that someone is talking about us when our ear burns.
Some have big ears and are said to be free-hearted; some have small ears and are called stingy. There are plain ears, pierced ears, floppy ears and pointed ears. The ear is the organ that makes it possible for us to hear. It enables us to communicate intelligently with one another through speech. Our ears help us to keep our balance.
Human beings have an ear on each side of the head. The ears extend deep into the skull. Each ear has three main parts: (1) the outer ear, (2) the middle ear, and (3) the inner ear.
The outer ear has no practical use. It is made of muscle and fat. We tend to decorate them with rings and other objects.
The middle ear is a small chamber behind the eardrum. A narrow tube called the Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. The tube is collapsed most of the time. It opens when you open your mouth, yawn, swallow, or blow your nose. If this tube did not open, the eardrum would rupture when the air pressure changes suddenly.
The inner ear has many delicate, complicated structures. The inner ear has three main parts which are connected by many hair cells which sense projections and nerve fibers.
We never think about any of these parts of the ear on a day to day basis. And, just so, it is not the organ that we are concerned with today. We are just concerned and concentrated on what the ear is supposed to do. Hear.
The Bible says that the ear is quite important. The ear is the organ that God created on humans to aid in communication. Since one very important part of communication is to listen, one can do this easily with an ear. It is very clear from scripture that people have authority over the ear and its operation. We seemingly go around as if we have no choice about what we hear and receive through our ears, but scripture says:
· That you can incline your ear to hear
· That the ear of the wise seeks knowledge
· Jeremiah says - Now hear the word of the Lord, O you women, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth;
· Matthew says - he who has ears to hear, let him hear
· And Paul tells us in 2 Timothy - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
· And will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Three Points of Message:
When you are out of ear shot of God, when you no longer hear His voice, when you lend your hearing to other things and other voices, when you do not heed your past blessings, when you live in fear and forgetfulness, when you are out of favor with God, when you do not obey, when you exhibit selective faithfulness, at least three points are evident in your life as evidenced by our text today:
1. Decreased Discernment ( faith, judgment, taste)
2. Digressed Direction (prayer, focus, leadership)
3. Diminished Discipline (devotion, loyalty, commitment, enthusiasm)
The synopsis of the text:
I know that you are women and men and people of worship and faith, but if you are postulating that your worship and your faith is at the top of the ladder every day, or even every week, I would submit that you have mis-calculated.
So, if you will just pray with me for a little while, I just want to share with you some of the traps and by-products of unfocused faith that can hinder your progress in the work of the Lord. Unfocused faith can be faith that is sometimes gun shy; Faith that plays hide and seek; Faith that is deficient of proper nutrients; Faith that needs some strength building workouts through focus and discipline.
You must take into account all of chapters 5 - 9 of Mark to fully apprehend out text today. The Lord does not require us to comprehend His Word, but he does require that we apprehend it, catch it, capture it, pick up on it, take it in for questioning and take it into custody, all of the things that were lacking among the characters in out text today.
Even before the formal calling of the 12, Jesus went around Galilee preaching the Word and showing authority over demons, and diseases of all sorts.
He often taught by the sea to large crowds who gathered wherever he was. The Bible says that he always spoke to the crowd in parables, but when he was alone with the disciples, he explained his sayings to them.
The Bible goes on to say that he called the 12 for some very specific reasons: To be with him, to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons.
They knew of his workings, his miracles and they had heard his preaching. Now, they were given the power, the authority, and the commission to do the same things. They were also positioned in an up close and personal way to witness further workings.
Prerogatives: Authority, Power were exhibited -
- Over the storm in ch. 4 - Do you not care? -- “Hush, be still.”
- Over demons in ch. 5 - a man in the tombs with unclean spirit - He could not be held by men or chains -- He worshipped Jesus (acknowledged who He was) and asked not to be tormented -- “Come out of the man. . . “What is your name?” - it was Legion - sent to pigs
- Over sickness and death - On His way to Jairus’ home. Woman bled 12 years. “Who touched Me?” & Jesus refocused Jairus’ faith and hope for his daughter. “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” “Talitha kum! Or little girl, I say to you, get up!”
- The disciples go out in ch. 6 and preach and they cast out many demons and anointed many with oil who were sick and healed them. The clearly had the power!
- Feeding 5 thousand in ch. 6 - The disciples said “this is a deserted place, it’s late. Send the prople away.” “How many loaves do you have?” - 5 loaves and 2 fish. 12 baskets left over.
- He walked on water - Sent the disciples on ahead. He went to mountains to pray. He took short-cut to disciples by walking on water. “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”
Again, the disciples were frightened at seeing him walk on water. They were afraid because their hearts were hardened. They had not learned anything from witnessing the feeding of the 5 thousand.
- Over the Syrophoenician (Black) woman in ch. 7 - She acknowledges Jesus as the rightful King by “Son of David.”
- She acknowledges Him as her King and Master by “Lord”
- She prayed, “Have mercy on me” and “help me”
- I would have guessed her to be black:
- “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” This was one of only 3 persons whom Jesus declared to have great faith. “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” She would not give up.
- Over the deaf mute at the Sea of Galilee - “Be opened!”
- Feeding 4 thousand in ch. 8 - “How many loaves do you have?” - And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up 7 large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces.
- As they went on their way, the disciples forgot to take bread and had only one loaf in the boat. As they worried over this, Jesus said to them: “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember when I broke the five loaves for the 5 thousand, and how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up? They said, “Twelve.” When I broke the seven for the 4 thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pickup?” They said “Seven.” He said, “Do you not yet understand?”
Six days after Jesus rebukes Peter, He takes Peter, James and John up on a high mountain where He was transfigured before them. His clothes became whiter than anyone had ever witnessed. Elijah and Moses appeared and they were talking with Jesus.
Not knowing just how to respond, Peter suggested making tabernacles for each of them. The disciples were already terrified and then God’s voice spoke from a cloud advising them to listen to Jesus.
Their terror increased, especially when they looked again and saw no one except Jesus.
Look, even when you’re on the top of the mountain, you can suffer loss of Spiritual wisdom and discernment, because we’re not perfect.
- They put Elijah and Moses on the same level as Jesus -- loss of perspective.
- They were fearful
- They were void of understanding
When they came down from the mountain and back to the other nine disciples, we begin to see diminished discipline:
- Doubt leads to arguing
- Faithfulness leads to compromise
- Lack of commitment leads to failure and criticism and a loss of Glory to God
The Disciples had two problems:
· They were unable to deliver a boy from demons
· The scribes were debating with them, maybe even taunting them because of their failure
In between the mountain high and the valley low, one can easily lose direction because we don’t always see things as we should, which leads to:
- Failure to go to the Source
- Doubt leads to indifference
- Hanging with the wrong crowd can be deadly.
We find that the father had digressed his direction. He clearly states that he started out to bring the boy to Jesus, but he stopped at the disciples.
The disciples had also changed directions. They had left the task of dealing with the demon and become embroiled in a debate with the scribes.
- How many times do you stop short of destination
- How often do you change directions
- What is it that looks too difficult to reach in you life, that will convince you to change directions
- How many times in a day do you stop traveling on the road to glory and revisit an old neighborhood
It’s easy to have faith Sunday after Sunday when you are gathered together with other believers, but it can get very difficult to show the same level of faith:
· When you have to stand alone in a house with an unbelieving spouse who neither respects or fears you or God;
· or when your child is acting like they are demon possessed, openly rebuking you in your home or defying your authority;
· or when you must work every week day among a group of unbelievers and watch as they seemingly climb to the top of the preverbal ladder;
· or when you find yourself all alone with that special person and the voices in your head are telling you that no one will ever know.
It’s not just the young or naïve who changes directions. The longer you walk down the same road home, the more apt you are to take a different way to see some new scenery and end up in totally unfamiliar territory, especially when you don’t pay attention to the warning signs:
· Walk - in the light
· Be still
· I am the way. . .
But, Praise be to God, He doesn’t leave us when we are weak, or slow, or confused, or bewildered, or in doubt. Jesus has an answer for those who have a lack of direction when it comes to severe problems and complicated situations in their lives. He says the same thing that he said to the father of the boy: Bring it to me!
We also find decreased discernment from the father and the disciples. Jesus admonishes them all, but especially the disciples for their unbelief.
The father has a small excuse for his little: even though he had changed his original direction and turned to the disciples for help, they could not do it. Since they were reps of Jesus, he was justified in being uncertain about Jesus’ ability to deal with the demon in his son.
So, we read that the father becomes indifferent and gives Jesus the “if” word. Take pity on us and help us, if, you can. Jesus aptly and immediately points out that the problem was a lack of faith, a lack of judgment, a lack
of taste, a lack of discernment. “All things are possible to him who believes.”
But to the disciples whose
- lack of discernment was without excuse,
- the disciples who had witnessed so many great miracles first hand,
- the disciples who had also experienced the power of God flowing through their hands to heal and relieve others of demons just a few days earlier,
- to the disciples, Jesus is grieved.
How often we must grieve the Lord when we fail to use the spiritual resources that he has made available to us. How funny we must look to the Devil and his imps when we go around improperly dressed. Can you imagine going out with only your head covered with the helmet of Salvation, but:
· having no Belt of Truth on to hold up your clothes
· No Breastplate of righteousness to keep our hearts clean and obedient to God
· No Shoes to help us to stand for Jesus and proclaim the Gospel of Peace
· No shield of Faith to help us to trust Him
· No Sword of the Spirit to even find the right passages to defeat attacks
Jesus is not asking us to understand everything he asks us to do. He is not even asking us to be perfect in our doing. But He does expect us to acquaint ourselves with His ways and to capture His methods in our pursuit to obey Him.
Finally, we see diminished discipline, again with both the father and the disciples. The father started out seeking after Jesus and found himself with his problem in the midst of chaos. He didn’t get rid of the problem and find peace until he took it to Jesus.
Faith is not always easy and it is not even our to begin with. God gives us the faith that we have, but many times in crisis -- we tend to want to take over and do it ourselves; or we are faithful with the big stuff -- but God is also in the small stuff, the everyday stuff.
Notice that once the father met Jesus, he had a conversation with him. Jesus first came face to face with the problem or the demon. The problem could not be at ease in the presence of God. In the midst of the seemingly uncontrollable action of the problem, Jesus deals with the fathers’ faith.
He redirects his path and gives him opportunity to clear his mind of any indecision and to collect his faith. Jesus told the father -- you have to get rid of the “if” thinking. Anything is possible if you believe, if you are disciplined in your thinking, in your devotion, in your commitment, in your obedience to Me.
The father makes a decision -- he wants to believe totally but he realizes that he is just not able to bear the burden alone. His faith had been weakened by the problems around him for so long and the lack of discipline of the other godly people. Jesus was able to respond to the little faith that father did have and relieve him of his problem.
The disciples showed diminished discipline also. They later asked Jesus why they had been unable to drive the demon out of the boy. Like Sampson, they had failed to realize that the power was not working in their lives.
Jesus explains to the disciples that there was no discipline in their lives. As long as He was with them, they were alright. But as soon as they could not see His face or hear His voice, they lost their discipline.
- They had not been praying like they should.
- They had not fasted like they should.
- They were not putting on the whole armor of God everyday.
- They were a little lax in their praise for His past blessings.
- They didn’t worship Him for being God when they didn’t feel him next to them.
The Lord has not changed His question to His people or to the on lookers. “How long must I put up with you? After all I’ve done for you, can you hear me now?
- I came and dwelt among men -- can you hear me now?
- I was ridiculed, blasphemed and beaten -- can you hear me now?
- I was put on trial for no crime of my own -- can you hear me now?
- Even though I could have called legions of angels, I said not a word -- can you hear me now?
- I was marched through the streets and made to carry my own death bed -- can you hear me now?
- I was robbed of my clothes and nailed to a wooden cross -- can you hear me now?
- I was hung high and stretched wide -- can you hear me now?
- I was shunned by my Father because I bore your sin -- can you hear me now?
- I died for you -- can you hear me now?
- I got up on the third day from the grave -- can you hear me now?
- I promised that I would never leave you or forsake you -- can you hear me know?
- When you didn’t know how you were going to make it, I made it for you -- can you hear me now?
- While many all around you are dying, I have kept you -- can you hear me now?
- When your friends left, I stayed -- can you hear me now?
- Your child is not living as you’d like, but they are still breathing and have a chance to come to me -- can you hear me now?
- You say your money is funny, but the stores keep on accepting it -- can you hear me now?
I am everything that you need; I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the End. I am:
Abba -- your daddy
El Shaddai -- God Almighty - the All Powerful God
El Olam -- The Everlasting God
El Elyon -- God Most High
El Roi -- The God who sees and meets your needs
Shapat -- The Judge
Adonai -- The Lord - The Master
Yahweh -- The Lord
YHWH-Nissi - The Lord who protects
YHWH-Shalom - The Lord of Peace
YHWH-Yireh - The God who provides
YHWH-Robi - The Lord is my Shepherd -provides loving care
The Bread of Life
God - The Father of all
Immanuel - The One who always stands with you
The Son of God and the Son of Man
King of Kings, Lord of Lords
Light of the world
Savior - One who delivers from sin and death
Shepherd - One who gives guidance and protection
Christ - the one who saves
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Somebody needs to hear today, and somebody needs to respond. Not to me, but to God. Somebody needs to answer:
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
“Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.”