Power for Living
Key Thought: This is the Jericho Road test, and it will help you discover where you stand with Jesus. And where you stand with Jesus will determine whether you've got what it takes to live life with the power of God supporting you when things are complicated and out of control in the world.
We live in a world that seems out of control. The future looks uncertain at best.
We wonder if chairman of the Federal Reserve will be able to keep the teetering economy from spiraling into disaster.
Families are falling apart, leaving people empty, alone, and confused. Even those who seem to cope well have problems most people wouldn't wish to trade for! How are we to cope with the problems of life? God's Word provides answers!
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Jesus came to offer abundant life—not just something for the future, but abundant life for us now.
We discover by reading the gospels that Jesus has an interest in our physical health; much of his ministry was spent healing and helping physical problems.
But Jesus has an even greater interest in our spiritual health. Healing, feeding the multitudes, and such compassionate actions were efforts to reach the soul as well as the body (see Matthew 15:32-39. The miracle of feeding the 4,000 followed three days of spiritual teaching.)
Jesus knew that spiritual health is more important than physical health. He understood that real meaning and purpose for living comes from a true understanding of the power of love, and His gift of grace to all who would accept it. By coming to this world, He who created all life and even the planet that we live on became one of us, demonstrating a depth of love for us that must have astonished the angels of heaven! Then, He lived among us to try to help us understand that there is more to life than what we see in the here and now.
We get so caught up in the rat-race of daily living that we lose our perspective, don’t we? Things were the same when Christ was here. His ministry on earth seemed to be a desperate attempt to communicate eternal realities that could bring hope and healing to masses of people heading straight toward hell, but they blindly went on, largely unmoved by His efforts. How do we know all this?
Only days before He was crucified, He stood looking over the city of Jerusalem surrounded by a clueless crowd as He said,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Today, I want us to understand that if we want to have power for living in difficult times, we need to get to know and love Jesus. I expect that many of you think you already do. Perhaps you really do, or perhaps you’re thinking, “The preacher’s just talking about the non-Christian folks, now, so I can tune this out...”
If you want to know if you REALLY know and love Jesus, I’d like to offer a genuine Biblical test.
This is the Jericho Road test, and it will help you discover where you stand with Jesus. And where you stand with Jesus will determine whether you’ve got what it takes to live life with the Power of God supporting you when things are complicated and out of control in the world.
The Jericho Road Test (Luke 10:25-37) is a good test of our love and loyalty to God.
Jesus told the story of a man that was robbed along the Jericho Road. Now if you were only reading the Bible account, and you didn’t know something about the Jericho Road, you might miss an important perspective here.
In the story Jesus told, he says a man was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho. If we look at a map, we find that Jericho really is only a few miles from Jerusalem, but it’s quite a ways from Samaria, where the hero of the story comes from.
Jesus said in Luke 10:30 that a man went DOWN from Jerusalem to Jericho. This is literally true, because Jerusalem is located about 2,600 feet above sea level, while Jericho is located about 700 feet BELOW sea level.
The Jericho Road is pretty much the same today as it was in the time of Christ, except for being a bit wider. This road is still known for being a place where robbers are hiding out. Down this winding, narrow road, a man was attacked by robbers, Jesus said, stripped of his clothing, wounded, and left there half dead on the ground.
Then Jesus said, “Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.” – Luke 10:31-32
In defense of the Levite and Priest that passed by, please consider the possibility that they were returning from their appointed term of service at the temple. If this man alongside the road were dead, they would have been ceremonially unclean if they touched him. They were interested in their spiritual standing with God, and would not want to be ritually defiled. Furthermore, if this person were a Samaritan or possibly even a Gentile, it could have been an even greater defilement!
“The fact that the Samaritan was traveling in what was to him a foreign district made his deed of mercy even more noteworthy. In this district it would be likely that the unfortunate wayfarer was a Jew, a member of the race that cherished the most bitter enmity against the Samaritans. The Samaritan knew well that if he had been the wounded victim lying beside the road he could have expected no mercy from any ordinary Jew. However, the Samaritan, at considerable risk to himself from the attacks of robbers, determined to help the poor victim.
“In a very real way the mercy exhibited by the Samaritan reflects the spirit that moved the Son of God to come to this earth to rescue humanity. God was not obliged to rescue fallen man. He might have passed sinners by, as the priest and the Levite passed the luckless traveler on the road to Jericho. But the Lord was willing to be “treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves” (DA 25).” –SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 5, pages 783-784.
Love is not just something to talk about. Love is something we DO.
Maybe you haven’t been down the Jericho Road near Jerusalem, but I wonder how many of us have been down the Jericho Road in [your city]? Perhaps you have driven past a car along side the road as one Adventist pastor did recently. There were two ladies beside the car, the trunk was lifted, and there was a flat tire. By the time the pastor’s wife convinced the pastor that this was worth stopping for, it was too late to pull over. It would require taking an exit and traveling fifteen additional minutes to return to that spot. Should they do it? They decided to make the journey back, and the ladies were very grateful for the help. Their jack was missing from their car. As the pastor was tightening the lug nuts, his wife asked the ladies if they were related. They looked at each other, and asked, “Should we tell?” Then they reported, “We are lesbians.”
Did the pastor do the right thing by helping? When we think of the Jericho Road Test, we must conclude that these were two human beings in need, and their personal lifestyles at the time were not the issue.
Think about the many faults God must have seen in our lives over the years. Yet still He reached out to us through Jesus, and loved us in spite of our sins. Yes, God can measure our love for Him by the Jericho Road Test, and we can measure God's love for us by looking at Calvary.
We are not saved by what we do, but what we do is an indicator of what we are. Our actions either betray the genuineness of our commitment to Christ—or they betray our hypocrisy (James 2:14-17).
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 7:21.
Or we could put it this way: "Not everyone who takes up the offering, sings in the choir, or prays in Church will enter the kingdom of heaven." God has a greater interest in our motives.
The story of Saul's conversion in Acts 9 is an excellent example of the difference between a legalist and person motivated by love. After being confronted with Christ, Saul didn't say, "Lord, what am I going to have to do?" He said, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" I other words, "What may I do to please you?"
It’s a very practical question: How can we learn to love?
A psychiatrist was asked, "How can you teach people to love?" It's like someone with a toothache, such a person is totally occupied with his own hurt. This is a pain-filled world in which we are living, and the pains that reside deep in the human hearts around us are not unlike toothaches... Most human beings are so turned-in by their own pain that they cannot get enough out of themselves to love to any great extent.
A deep, heart-felt love for God makes loving my brother easier. When we know that God loves us and have discovered that we are valuable to God, we regard others as having value also. Instead of loving others because we need to be loved by them, we love others because we are loved by God and we feel loving toward them, regardless of who they are or what they have done (John 6:53 - Spiritual life, or power is received by spiritually comprehending His sacrifice for us).
This deep love for Christ is more easily "caught" than "taught":
This directing effect that a Christian has on others is illustrated by the story of the man who was hurrying through an airport terminal, late for his flight. In his haste he overlooked a little girl in front of him, who was carrying a jigsaw puzzle in a box. When he collided with her, the puzzle pieces were scattered helter-skelter across the floor. Instead of rushing on, as he was no doubt tempted to do, he stopped and helped the youngster pick up the pieces. When the entire puzzle was back in its box, the little girl looked up at him and said, "Mister, you must have missed your plane." The man smiled and answered, "So I have." Then the girl asked in all sincerity, "Mister, are you Jesus?"
Herein lies power for living. It’s learning from Calvary how much God loved... It’s learning from the Jericho Road how love can work in our own hearts... and when that happens... We experience God’s power for living! Life suddenly takes on new meaning...
Caring is something we can all do. The main qualification is willingness—first to let God have control of our life, and then to let him express his love through us (Philippians 2:13).
We cannot "earn" power for living. It's a free gift that was given to all from Calvary's cross. Won't you accept that gift today?
I would like to invite you to take out a green decision card* from the rack in front of you at this time.
Perhaps you have been thinking about getting your life right with God, but you just haven’t done it yet. Or perhaps you have already given your life to Christ and you would like to renew that commitment to Him today. If this is your desire, check the first box which means:
Today I want to commit my life to God.
Some of you may be interested in Baptism by immersion as we witnessed here earlier today. If you would like to consider being baptized in the near future, please check the second box.
Or perhaps you are one who is searching for God’s will in your life, and you would like for someone from the church to personally contact you to discuss Bible studies or questions you may have about our church. If you would like to have someone give you a call, please check box number three.
Finally, you may have been attending here for a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years, but your church membership is currently somewhere else, and today you would like to say, “Count me in! Today I want to be part of the Adventist movement here in (city).” If you would like for our church clerk to request that your membership be transferred from another church, please check the fourth box.
If you checked the 4th box, it would be helpful if you also write down the name of the church where your membership is currently held, as well as the city and state, it would be most helpful.
Please put your name on the card, along with your phone number and any contact information that we may not have in the office so we can contact you if necessary, then turn your cards in at the door as you leave.
While you are filling out your cards, I would like to close with a song of wonder; an old song that reminds me of the power of God’s love for us; the same love that gives us “Power for Living.”
[Song: The Wonder of it All] * If do not have a decision card you routinely use for sermon appeals, you may wish to consider doing something along this line. If you would like a sample of what Glenn Holland currently uses in his sermons, send an e-mail request to Glenn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Glenn Holland. Better Sermons © 2005-2008. Click here for usage guidelines. This sermon is also available with PowerPoint slides! For information, see www.adventsource.org or send an email requesting information directly to the author, Glenn Holland.
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