This week I prayed with a woman who has walked with God for a lifetime: Bev Teshera, Annie’s mother. She is in the Lynden Christian Health Care Center. She always knows me even though she has dementia. As I left I offered to pray for her. “Of course” she said, and she moved to the edge of the bed and took my hands. I prayed. Then as I ended she prayed. I will never forget her words: “Thank you Lord for this fine boy….” She went on to pray a beautiful prayer for me, my family, ministry wherever it takes me. I thought I was going to bless her, but she blessed me. As I left the room I thought about Bev’s years of service with George, New England, Santa Cruz, the Philippines, Lynnwood, Bellingham… I knew of her high standards of faith as a young woman… her mind may be slipping, but her faith is as strong as ever. Bev has spent a lifetime walking with God. If you see her, ask her to pray for you, and see what happens!
A man is walking along when suddenly he got his foot caught in railroad tracks. He heard a noise and saw a train coming. He panicked and prayed, "God, please get my foot out of these tracks and I'll stop drinking!" Nothing happened, it was still stuck, and the train was closer! He prayed again, "God, please get my foot out and I'll stop drinking AND swearing!" Still nothing...and the train was seconds away! He tried it one last time, "God please, if you get my foot out of the tracks, I'll quit drinking, swearing and smoking." Suddenly his foot shot out of the tracks and he was able to jump away, just as the train passed. He got up, dusted himself off, looked toward Heaven and said... "Thanks anyway God, I got it myself."
Jesus Christ is seeking those who will walk with him. The gospel of Luke is about making disciples. Last week the message was the need to repent: letting go of that which takes you away from God and adopt that which turns you towards God.
In today’s scripture, Jesus builds on what it means to repent. God does not just give us instructions to change, he shows us what it looks like… Repenting isn’t only about what you give up, but more importantly what you become. There is a deep lesson in the story of the woman who is healed on the Sabbath. It says in Luke 13:11 not only is she not able to straighten up for 18 years, but it is caused by a spirit…Jesus heals her, physically and spiritually.
The lesson for Walking with God is seen in the response of the religious leaders. The women is set free, and instead of celebrating, the synagogue leaders are indignant. The leaders are so arrogant, they don’t even talk to Jesus, but rather, they try to sway the crowd: READ Luke 13:14. They are fine with the healing, but the problem is Jesus blesses the woman on the day of Worship. Jesus response provides us lessons for what it means to repent and to Walk with God. READ Luke 13:15-16.
1. To Walk with God means freedom! People search in many places for answers, for purpose, for meaning. True freedom is found in Jesus Christ. He alone has the power to set us free. The woman is set free from her infirmities, from the Spirit of darkness that was constraining her. I find it fascinating in Luke 10:16, even though the woman was physically healed, Jesus emphasizes the freedom she now enjoys from the bondage of Satan. Spiritual freedom is more important than physical healing! Spiritual health is more important than money! When you walk with God in your spirit/when your attitudes are based on your relationship with God, when the way you see and experience the world in your heart is tuned to God, that is FREEDOM. To Walk with God is FREEDOM. The return of joy, the lightening of your burdens, the shedding of worry… and to simply be with God, every day, every moment….
2. Walking with God/repent means you question your traditions/Patterns. The religious leaders biggest problem is they were arrogant. They did not talk to Jesus but tried to sway the crowd that Jesus was wrong to heal the woman on the Sabbath. This is an invitation for us to examine our own traditions. Let’s seek to change any personal patterns or church traditions that are not serving the purpose of sharing the gospel or enriching our calling for people to be disciples. Why do we do what we do? There is too much heartache in today’s world, and the days are getting shorter ~~ we need to only keep that which furthers our calling to Walk with God. Let’s keep our eyes open to recognizing the true work of God among us.
3. To Walk with God means you will see the blessings of God showered upon people. God cares about people, meeting their needs, loving them, changing them. You water your donkey on the Sabbath, Jesus says in Luke 12:15, surely it is good and proper to change this woman. What better day for a life to be transformed than on the day of worship. Walking with God means your eyes are open to the people God puts in your world. If you don’t care about people, then don’t walk with God, because the path of God is always about serving people.
To me, the funnest thing about being a pastor is people, I have always said I am the most entertained person on the face of the planet… because I get to hear stories, pray, watch, get frustrated, be overjoyed, not understand, learn, teach….
4. To Walk with God means he meets your needs, his timing, his way…. When you read through the gospels and look at the miracles of Jesus, there is no pattern of how the miracle takes place. Thank goodness!!!! We cannot duplicate a pattern. It is always his timing, his way. One of the more amazing things about the healing of this woman, who is so compromised physically she was bent over for 18 years and could not straighten up, what is amazing is that she does not ask to be healed. The text says in Luke 13:12 that Jesus saw her and called her forward.
18 years she was doubled over… let that be a lesson in being patient when it appears God does not answer our prayers right away. It’s his timing. It is His way.
Of course there are many verses about asking God to intervene, of course we are to ask God to straighten our the wrongs of life and to pray very deliberately and specifically, but yet how wonderful that in this case it is an example of Him coming and straightening out a woman that wasn’t even asking. Be open to the surprises of God. To Walk with God means he will cause things to happen beyond what we Ask and Imagine! One of my favorite scripture is Eph. 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
To walk with God means his plans are greater than our plans, his miracles are greater than our requests, and we get to see it, be a part of it…. Is there anything greater about being a Christian than to see God at work. Walk with Him.
Walk with God. When Jesus Christ says REPENT, it is not just about sin that is compromising your Walk with God, but it is also about what you become. To Walk with God is freedom. To Walk with God means to constantly question the patterns of your life, getting rid of those that don’t take you towards God. To Walk with God means you will be honored to see God at work in the lives of people. To walk with God means letting go of control of your life and submitting to His timing and His way. He will work in ways beyond what you can even imagine. Walk with God. Amen.