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Faith and Determination

During His earthly ministry, Jesus touched the lives of countless individuals. His love and compassion propelled Him to cross man-made cultural barriers with supernatural healing power. He proved beyond doubt that mankind was genuine and valuable to God.

Even though Jesus was willing to miraculously intervene into the affairs of men, many people missed the opportunity because they did not have faith and determination.

And when He (Jesus) saw their faith, He said unto him, Man, thy sins be forgiven thee Luke 5:20. This section of scripture talks about a man who suffered from paralysis. He could neither stand up nor walk on his own. This is obvious to all because four of his friends brought him to Jesus on a stretcher. When they arrived, the house was so crowded, they couldnít get near Jesus. But they were so desperate to help their friend, that they climbed on top of the house, ripped a hole in the roof and powered the man down.

No doubt this group was out of order. They disturbed the meeting and damaged the homeownerís property. The reasonable thing to do was simply go back home. After all, the place was crowded, they arrived late, and they were carrying a stretcher. But they werenít about to allow any barrier to prevent them from reaching the One with the authority to heal.

I can imagine that this was quite a spectacle for the people at the meeting. Some of them witnessed four confused men who apparently made a wrong turn on the way to the hospital. Others saw chunks of wood and straw litter the floor as the men tore through the roof. Many gasped in unbelief as they beheld the paralyzed man being lowered into the room. But when Jesus looked up, He saw the faith and determination of the five men who entered into an agreement to receive a miracle.

Do you know why these men refused to give up on their friend? Do you know why they put for the effort required to get him up on the roof? Do you know why they risked being laughed at, scorned, and even failing? Because they had faith and determination. As a result, Jesus was moved to heal and forgive the paralyzed man.

In m any ways, we are like the paralytic. We are bound and limited by our own inability to change our outcomes. We go to our classy buildings, dress churchy, do our religious chant, speak a little Christianese, pray a long prayer and go back home on a cot. We exist in bondage to our own isms, and we frown on any suggestion to change our future. In short, we fulfill the words written in Ecclesiastes 1:9, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun".

This reminds me of the popular "Serenity Prayer" that says, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference". I see that saying written on all types of novelties. I donít know how you feel, but I donít want any serenity, I want faith and determination. On a practical level, these men needed to accept what they could not change. They needed the serenity to not leave home that day. When Jesus looked up, He did not see serenity; He saw faith that made Him say "Take up your bed and walk" (see Luke 5:24).

I know someone may take offence at this kind of teaching. I understand that many have been blessed by "serenity", especially at funerals. But let me point out that we have recently celebrated the end of a century. We saw all kinds of seemingly miraculous breakthroughs in medicine, industry and computers. Yet, when the New Year arrived, we didnít know for sure if we would have lights. We have progressed no further than the man on the mat. While material riches have grown, we are surrounded by impoverished lives on every side. Suicide, drugs, crime and abuse are everyday occurrences, and society yawns at the mention of Christ as a possible solution to the misery.

We, individually and collectively, can never hope to move forward until we develop the faith and determination to come to Jesus. Issues in our lives remained unresolved, our relationships are wretched and ineffective, and our spiritual health is severely impaired when we leave Christ out. If we set our face to seek Christ like never before, the point of our determination is set.

I can easily imagine the tension Jesus faced as that man was being lowered down in front of Him. There must have been many others in the crowd seeking healing as well. Yet all the stillness burst into joy when Christ saw their faith. You see, their faith was born before they came to the house, before they pushed through the crowd, and before they broke through the roof. Their faith was born the moment they recognized that Jesus was the answer to a life of turmoil.

Without Christ, we are "alienated from God" (Ephesians 4:18). This is a deeper problem than physical illness because we cannot simply get up and walk away from sin. Only Christ can deliver us from the crippling power of sinís grip, and lead us into a faith that brings many blessings. Just as the broken man with the four men who carried him looked to Jesus by faith, we must do the same thing.

Christ is where we put our faith and determination. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace Ephesians 1:7. Jesus doesnít require us to pay money or fulfill some romantic quest or religious duty. He wants us to make Him the Lord of our lives and the supplier of our needs. Only then will we be able to allow Him to do for us what only He can do.

By: Edmund Brown