In Acts 8, we find the story of Simon the sorcerer. Phillip had come down from Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel with signs and wonders following (see verses 5-7). Simon also believed but apparently it didn't completely take because (after Peter and John had showed up) he saw people being filled with the Holy Spirit and was so impressed, he offered those apostles money for the power to be able to do this (verse 18).
Now, here is what I want you to see: this man, Simon, having previously practiced sorcery (verse 9), fooling the people with his deeds of darkness, was the ideal candidate to know the difference between the real stuff and the phony - what power really changed people and what simply fooled them. He knew (having previously been a professional dealer in darkness) what the real goods were. He had now come into contact with real power and was so enamored by it that he wanted to buy it. Of course he was severely rebuked and urged to repent (verse 22).
Here's the point the Church needs to see: Simon recognized the real thing. Can you? Can you so discern the people in your circle of influence so you can minister to them effectively? Do you have the goods?
In Mark 2:1-12, we see four kinds of people in the Church. Can you effectively minister to each one of them?
Mark 2:2, "...many were gathered together, so much so there was no room to receive them..." Hungry people mobbed this house - each one wanting to see Jesus. The Master said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).
Are you hungry or are you satisfied where you are with God? Do you want more? This kind of person is never satisfied. No, they aren't unhappy or discontented; they just want more of the Father. They refuse to get to a certain level and get comfortable and be average. Average people are content with where they are and have no desire to go deeper with heavenly things. But the hungry person, although keeping their feet on the ground, have a heart that longs to soar for more of Him.
David said, "One thing have I desired, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…" (Psalm 27:4). Paul said, "One thing I do…" (Philippians 3:13). Dwight L. Moody said, "Give me a man who says, 'This one thing I do,' and not 'These fifty things I dabble in.'"
Is this you? Are you a hungry person?
Mark 2:6, "...There were certain of the scribes reasoning in their hearts…"
There are many ways we can be a hinderer. When we carnally reason in our heart it is usually revealed in how we speak with our mouth. Proverbs 26:20 says, "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." All of us occasionally need to bridle or hush our tongue (James 1:26). Henry Beecher said, "He who loves flowers will find flowers; and he who loves weeds will find weeds."
Did you ever notice that nothing stops a conversation quicker than the arrival of the person you happen to be talking about? The secret of a gracious tongue is not self-control, but Christ-control. The One whose words were described as gracious (Luke 4:22) also said, "...that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).
Is this you? Are you a hinderer?
Mark 2:3, "…and they came unto Him bringing one sick of the palsy…"
You've seen them in the Church - helpless people. I'm not just talking physically, I mean emotionally also. Some are high maintenance people. Sometimes we wonder if they will ever come around and begin to grow. Be careful here. Never give up on people. Remember before you came to Christ? Remember not responding to His love at first? Resisting His touch? Aren't you glad God never gave up on you?
What troubles some people is that they are in a hurry, but God isn't. What's worse is that we want other people to hurry and grow up (or get well) etc., but we don't put the same standards on ourselves. Be patient with the helpless. (We are all helpless in one way or the other, didn't you know?) Jude 22 says, "And of some have compassion, making a difference."
Is this you? Are you helpless? If so, God will give grace to those in need (Hebrews 4:16).
Mark 12:3-5, "Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.'"
It is important to notice that the word "they" is mentioned five times in these verses. The "they" are those four helpers who brought the "helpless" one to Jesus. Also notice it says in verse 5, "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.'" Those four were responsible for that fellow's healing!
Are you involved in the Body of Christ? As we grow spiritually our capacity for caring for one another should be on the increase (1 John 3:16). If it isn't we are not growing. Martin Vanbee said, "The best place to find a good helping hand is at the end of your arm." Are you doing something for someone? Is the love of Christ being practically applied?
Is this you? Are you a helper?
Do You Have the Goods?
Which of the above are you? And do you have the goods to help each one? We, the Church, are different from the world. In 2009 as the world sees the Church in action they will see:
• HUNGRY people wanting more of God.
• HINDERING people being corrected and lovingly taught the value and power of their words.
• HELPLESS people being ministered to by being brought to Jesus for healing.
• HELPERS abounding with compassion and energy to minister to any and all in need.
When this happens then the world will say (as in Mark 2:12): This is amazing, let's praise God because "we have never seen anything like this!"
The world is waiting to see if the Church has the goods.