Today has been proclaimed as “A Day for Prayers and Fasting” across the State of Tennessee by Governor Bill Lee and I like the idea. Our “National Day for Prayers and Meditation,” set by Congress for the first Thursday in May, probably has a better format – I can probably meditate on a full stomach easier than I can pray on an empty one, but designating a special day seems to yearn for a special reason. As I pondered what that should be, I recalled a dandy sermon that Donn Moomaw gave one Sunday at his Bel Air Presbyterian Church in California. That was Ronald Reagan’s church and Moomaw, a two-time All-American, was just as good in the pulpit as he once was in the Coliseum while playing for UCLA
His topic the day I visited was about the five men who came to a house where Jesus was teaching.
One was paralyzed and to get the afflicted close to Jesus for His touch first appeared to be a futile task. So the men came up with a slick solution. They raced up some outside steps, dug out enough ceiling tiles and used ropes to lower their friend to where Jesus was standing. There are two versions of the story in the Gospels – Mark 2:4 and Luke 5:17-26 – and both say that Jesus was moved by their faith and said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
The story gets even better when Jesus knows what the Pharisees and ‘teachers of the law’ are thinking before they question Him, so Jesus was ready to pop their theories. Then Jesus looked anew at the paralyzed man and told him, ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’
Moomaw paused just so, and then asked those seated, “Who is holding your ropes? Do you ever stand in awe of those who are willing to dig though the dirt and grime to remove life’s ceiling tile and then, hand over hand, lower you – not their own selves – for the glory? Jesus recognized it right away when He saw ‘their’ faith, all for a friend.
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LUKE 5:17-26 – GOD’S LOVE IS FORGIVING SINS AND HEALING
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the LORD was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 2 6Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."
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Brian Evans, of Grace Community Church in Waverly, Ohio, writes:
“The more I think about this scene and the events that transpire, the more I think this is a good picture of what prayer is. Whether we’re praying for a lost person or a sick person, as we pray, it’s like we’re lowering the person through a roof into the presence of Jesus. Is there someone in your life that needs lowered down to see Jesus? This paralyzed man had as much faith as his friends but was too sick to ever lower himself down.
“Lost people are too sick with sin to ever realize they need lowered down to see Jesus. They are paralyzed with sin. We can become like these four friends who each took hold of the rope and began working in tandem to make sure their friend saw the Messiah. Is there someone you could team up with and begin a serious prayer ministry for the lost, sick, for your church?
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-- “Prayer isn't to remind God of what our problems are, but to remind our problems who God is!”
-- “The tallest man in God's eye's is the one that's on his knees!”
-- “One song can change a moment, one idea can change a world, one step can start a journey, but a prayer can change the impossible.
-- “Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places. . .to the Father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all. (Joshua Abraham Heschel)
-- “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you', it will be enough. (Meister Eckhart)