Amazing Grace

A few weeks ago I gave a message on marriage. I shared that before I was married I asked God to help me find a wife with five characteristics. I gave one, namely being a Christian. Since then no man has asked me what the other four were, but a number of the ladies here did. So, here they are:

1. A baptized Christian who attends church regularly
2. High moral standards
3. A good cook - because at 19 I knew nothing about it   
4. Loyal
5. Love! A person who will love me, in spite of my faults.

Prayer answered! 52 years ago. “Ask and ye shall receive.”

And, today we are talking about one of the things I wanted in a wife, perhaps what we all want in a spouse – love, in spite of our faults!

Bartimaeus was a dirty blind beggar sitting beside the road when Jesus approached. Like me, and perhaps you, he cried out for help! Here is what happened:

One, Jesus stopped. He cared. He heard Bartimaeus. He will do the same for us.

Two, in a shocking question, Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted? Jesus already knew what Bartimaeus wanted, so why this question? The answer is Jesus wanted Bartiameus to name it. For those in the healing ministry, when we have a need, we need to name it. Be specific!

 

Three, faith healed Bartimaeus. It was instant! Why?  Very simple! Jesus was teaching the disciples the power of faith. Right then. Right there. On the spot!

 

Sometimes healing is instant, sometimes longer, and sometimes it happens in a way that surprises us. When and how is entirely up to Jesus.

 

I often advise people to keep themselves as close to Christ as possible, skin tight, and your faith, your loyalty, as pure as possible because when the chips are down, you’ll need the Lord.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; Was
blind (like Bartimaeus) but now I see.

This 1773 hymn was written by the Anglican clergyman John Newton. He was a recalcitrant cheeky insubordinate slave trading rascal before he was about to drown in a violent storm at sea. When God wants you, he’ll get you. You can run but you can’t hide! God turned a scoundrel into a priest.  

That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but
now, I see.

This was what Jesus was trying to get across to the disciples. It’s the point Jesus is trying to get across to us!

For years I never liked this hymn. I did not like being called a wretch. So, why impose it on me when I attended church?

I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was 13, but it was many years before I would acknowledge I was a sinful wretch. What happened?

The same thing that happened to the disciples. I was blind. I knew the Lord. I followed him, but why was I blind? It was not until the Holy Spirit brought me to my knees that I cast everything before God, like Bartimaeus. I begged in tears that whatever Father God wanted me to do with my life, I would do it.

Sometimes, many times, God answers prayers years later. So, be patient! God had a plan. He was preparing a path for me to travel. And, for our family. The same is true for the disciples. Even though they would desert Jesus, he still loved them, still had a plan, and the scales from their blind spiritual eyes were not lifted until the Resurrection appearances.      

An elderly woman walked into a nice Episcopal church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her toward the pews.

 "Where would you like to sit?" he asked politely.

 

"The front row, please," she answered.

 

"You really don't want to do that," the usher said. "The rector is really boring."

 

"Do you happen to know who I am?"  the woman inquired.

 

"No, mam." he said.

 

"I'm the rector's mother," she replied indignantly.

 

"Do you know who I am?" the usher asked.

 

"No," she said.

 

"Good," he answered.

 

My friends, it’s important to know who Jesus is. On a personal level!

 

Because someday, when the chips are down, you’ll be like Bartimaeus, and cry out for mercy.


My prayer is that Christ will bless you then in ways even better than you have dared to dream. 

 

Jesus asks you, and all of us, this morning, "What do you want me to do for you?"