Craig Groeschel - The Miracle You Need Most
Well, a big welcome to our Life Church family. This weekend's message is dedicated to my dad who recently was inducted into the Heavenly Hall of Fame. If you've ever heard me talk about my dad, you know that he loved Jesus and he loved baseball. And so this week I officiated his funeral service, something that I wasn't trained for in four years of seminary. But I did create a baseball card for him and I preached lessons from my baseball dad. And they may not make much sense there to you, but I promise they make a little bit of sense when you hear them with God's word. And I'll share those with our church family in the upcoming days. To start this week's message, what I wanna do is I wanna show you a very interesting photo that was taken at a drug bust of a guy's nightstand. And then I'm gonna ask you what you think of this photo taken at a drug bust of a guy's nightstand.
And I want you to look at this carefully and I'm gonna point out some things. This guy was arrested for some type of drugs and I wanna show you what's in it and then I wanna ask you what you think of it. There's two books in this. Up in the right hand corner, there's a New Testament and a Psalms, then there's a "Sun Stand Still" by the one and only Pastor Steven Furtick. You'll also noticed in this photo, there's a "Jesus and We" Life Church bulletin back from when we used to have Life Church bulletins. And there is a Life Church pen, which he stole from Life Church along with many of you who did the very same thing, all for the glory of God. It's not stealing if it's a Life Church pen. And then you'll notice in it, there's actually a drug bong and some condoms, I'm assuming for his girlfriend. I could say a few things about that, but I'll go ahead and just pass on by and I'll go to the next thing, which is a Braum's cup. And for many of you around the world, you would not know what Braum's is. But let's just say if I go somewhere for a cheat meal, I'm going to Braum's, baby, I'm going to Braum's.
Now, I wanna ask you a question about this photo, I wanna ask you, what do you think? Is it good, interesting, or bad? How many think it's kinda cool? Kinda cool? How many think it's kinda bad? You can type in the comment section if you want to, what you think about it, you can. Just YouTube, wherever you are, just type in it. I think it's good, I think it's bad, whatever. I went and showed it to some Christians at a Christian event and said, "What do you think"? And most people honestly had a negative vibe about it. They said, "Well obviously this guy was in sin, you know, he went to church and the church didn't do much good. Church must not have been preaching the word of God to him. Guy needs to repent of his sins".
I look at this photo quite honestly, and I'm actually intrigued by it. I see it a little differently. When I look at it, I wonder what was this guy's story? Did he grow up in church? And maybe he fell into the wrong crowd and then he made some decisions that he regretted? Or did he go through something difficult? Like did his girlfriend break up with him? Or did he lose his job and he fell into drugs and he was trying to get down? Or maybe this guy battled substance abuse his entire life. Maybe his dad was an addict and he was all around it, and someone invited him to church and he was about to become a miracle. You see, some people are critical when they look at this. But I actually think I might see God working in his life. And I am incredibly thankful that this guy felt welcome to seek Jesus at Life Church. Because 27 years ago this month, we started Life church for people just like this guy, broken people who are searching, who need hope and need healing.
And I love this guy. I do because I see a struggle going on and I can relate to that type of struggle. And even though I've never met him, my heart goes out to him because Jesus befriended people just like this guy. In fact, Jesus is the one who said in Mark 2:17, he said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor," but it's those who are struggling. It's those who are sick. He said, "I have not come to call the righteous," but come to call the sinners. We're in a message series called We Are the Church. Let me ask you, who are we? We are the church. Would you look at the person next to you and tell 'em what we are? Tell 'em what we are right now. We are the church. Type it in the comments section. What are we? We are the church. And the title of this week's message is "The Miracle that You Need Most".
Father, help us to be your church, to carry the good news of the love and the grace of Jesus. So that people would experience God, the miracle that they need most. We pray this in Jesus name and all God's people said... amen, amen and amen.
Mark 2 is where we're gonna hang out today, Mark 2. And I'm gonna show you one of my favorite stories in the New Testament. When Jesus had kinda like returned to headquarters, this was his home base, Capernaum. And he essentially was teaching at a very large life group, a home filled with people that came to hear the word of God. And I'll show you the text in Mark's gospel. Scripture says that they gathered these believers or these people that were seeking. "They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door" And Jesus "preached the word to them". And then, "Some men came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them". Scripture goes on to say that "since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd," these crazy people who are a little bit crazy, like some of you are to get people to Jesus, "they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'"
One of my favorite stories in all of the New Testament and what I wanna do today, is I wanna show you the types of people in this story and also remind you that you'll see these very same types of people in the church today. I'll show you five different types of people and you may look and ask yourself, which type are you? In every church, I promise you, you'll always see someone in need. There's always someone in need. And in this story, it was the paralyzed man that was unable to walk. He would've likely been a beggar. To get anywhere, he had to sit on a mat, and expect four strong people to help carry him just to get across town. And this guy was in significant need and dependent on people around. Now let's give him a name so he'll be easy to remember. We'll call the guy on the mat, Matt. Yeah, you saw that coming, right? Let's just call him Matt. It'll be easy to remember.
There's always someone in need. I wonder, which one of you are in need? Those of you online. I wonder, what's going on in your life? I would say, that if you're looking for someone who's in need this week, I'd have to lift up my hand because I've been in need of prayer. And even though we were celebrating the work of Jesus in my dad's life, I cannot describe the waves of grief that have been pouring over me, even today. I'm someone in need. Nothing wrong with being in need. And the truth is right now, some of you are in need, you're battling depression and this is a good place to come when you're in need. Or you're going through a trial, or like me, you've experienced a loss, or maybe you feel alone, you're a single parent trying to navigate life in a very complicated world. Or maybe you're like struggling to pay the bills.
I mean, have you seen the price of eggs, right? I mean it's tough out there, right? And you're worried about it. How do I put food on the table or pay rent? Or maybe you've got anxiety in your life and you don't know what to do with that. Or maybe you're a guy with a Bible and a bong, right there on the nightstand. In every church, you'll see people who are in need and it's a good place to come when you're in need. You'll also see, secondly, in every church, you'll see someone who cares. You'll see lots of people who care. Chances are you may be sitting by someone right now and you don't even know them and you have no idea how much they might even show love and care to you if you got to know them. And this story, you see four guys who were friends with Matt. I'm visualizing this, I'm just making this up. So just kinda roll with me. This isn't the Bible, but I'm visualizing these guys in a men's prayer breakfast.
Years ago I did a men's prayer breakfast with four other guys at Braum's. True story. And I got the biscuits and gravy every week. I love some biscuits and gravy. I don't eat biscuits and gravy, don't make me biscuits and gravy. Or I may be tempted to eat the biscuits and gravy, but at that time, every week we'd pray and read the Bible, and I did these big old biscuits and gravy, and you got four guys kind of like this who were probably in a relationship. So we got Matt, I'm gonna name the other four just for fun. I'm gonna call them Bubba, Burt, Bo, and Bob. And Matt. I'm imagining they're sitting there at the restaurant and Bubba said, "Hey," 'cause that's how Bubba would talk. "Hey, did you hear about Jesus? I heard he raised a guy from the dead". And Bo said, "Really? Well I heard that he also healed blind eyes". And then Burt said, "Hey, if he can do it for them, I betcha he can do it for Matt". So Bubba said, "Darn straight". Except Bubba didn't say darn, 'cause Bubba didn't know Jesus yet. You can figure out what he said. And then he said, "Darn straight, we're going on a road trip".
And so these four old boys went to Matt, picked him up and carried him. Who knows how far and how much money they spent on the trip, and how much of a struggle it was and how much they had to overcome to get their friend to Jesus. And when they got to the house where Jesus was teaching, you see another type of person. Because in every church, and which type are you? You see someone who's in need. You see someone who cares. You'll also see someone who is preoccupied, someone who's preoccupied. And this was a house full of good people who were preoccupied, wall to wall that was packed. The biggest life group you've ever seen. So full that these four guys couldn't get Matt to Jesus.
Now I wanna try to explain to you what it is that they would've seen. And I'll show you kind of an image of a first century Jewish house. It would've looked something like this. And the walls are kind of interesting. They would've been built most likely of basalt, which was a dark volcanic rock sealed in a certain way. The roofs would have these beams and you can kind of see the little, almost like stick things outside, beams about three feet apart or so. And then in between these beams, they would put straw and some clay and some manure. And then whenever it rained, the clay would absorb the water packed into the manure and it would seal the roof. And then on the top, as you can see, grass would grow on it. It's a place where they would often do work on the top of the roof, where they might lounge around.
And then they'd have a courtyard and the door, if the door was left open, it meant come on in. And almost all the time during the day, they lived in a culture where the door was open. Wouldn't it be amazing today if we left the door open and said, "We're so full of love and we care so much, the door is open, come on in". The door is open and it was so full, when these four guys walked up, they couldn't get Matt to Jesus. The people inside, they were good people, but they were just preoccupied. They were listening to Jesus. And outside the door was the man in need but inadvertently without meaning to, they had their back to the one who was in need. They were preoccupied and they were listening to Jesus teach. And Jesus would say something like, "Oh, amen". Say it again, Jesus. "Ooh hmm ah, I'll write that down. The Greek word, ooh yeah, I like that". "Hmm, hmm, hmm".
One person that came to church and said, "Pastor Craig, what's with all the, 'Hmm?' Why are people mooing? I don't know what's the moo"? "Moo, hmm". Hey, if it's good you can "hmm", okay? And they're, "Hmm". And they were in a little Christian circle and they loved Jesus. They had their Christian bumper stickers and they had their Christian language, "Praise the Lord. Hallelujah, brother". And they listened to the K-LOVE radio and they had their favorite podcast. And without knowing it and without meaning it, just because they were preoccupied, their body language, their posture essentially said to the person who was in need, "You can go to hell as far as we're concerned. 'Cause we're doing our little Jesus thing". They didn't mean to. But they just had their little Christian thing going on and it was good and they all liked each other, but they didn't realize they were preoccupied and had their backs turned to someone who was in need.
So these four guys are about to give up. "We can't get Matt to Jesus". And then maybe Bo said, "Hey, don't forget, with God, there's always a way". I feel like ought to preach this right now. 'Cause I don't know who needs to hear it. But somebody right now, you're facing something and you need to remember with God, there's always a way. Yeah. With our God, all things are possible with God. And some of you, you've been praying for your own version of Matt, someone who is far from God. You think they'll never come to God. They are so far from God. I'm gonna tell you right now. Sometimes those who look the farthest are actually the closest 'cause God's working and you don't even see it. There's always a way, there's always a way, there's always a way, with God, there's always a way. And that's why at our church we always say this, that "we will do anything short of sin to reach people who don't know Christ". And "to reach people no one is reaching," we're gonna "do things that no one is doing".
With God there's always a way. These guys, "We've gotta get our friend to Jesus. We've gotta get our friend to Jesus and we're not gonna give up until we do". So they brainstormed and somebody said, "Well, we can yell fire". That's a dumb idea. Someone else said, "We can like start stripping down naked". That's a dumber idea. And someone said, "I got an idea. Let's climb up on that roof where there's grass and hay and manure and let's just dig through the roof". And Bubba said, "That's a darned good idea". But Bubba didn't say darned, can you know what Bubba said? So he said, "Bo hold my beer". Right? And he started digging. And these old guys started digging a hole in somebody else's roof because they were so determined to get their friend to Jesus. And I don't know what happened, but I can kind of imagine it. Eventually, you know like Jesus in there teaching, there's roof stuff falling down on him and maybe some lights coming in. They got a hole big enough.
I don't know how it happened, but I'm visualizing Bubba saying, "Okay, you get an arm and you get another arm, and you get a leg and I'll get a leg. Boys get 'em down there as far as you can. About eight feet more. Well he's already paralyzed. On three, boom"! I was just saying. And they dropped this guy through someone else's roof. And scripture says this of Jesus, "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" Amy, I gotta work on my delivery. I'mma try it again. I don't know what I did it wrong. I'mma get this. Jesus said, "Son, your sins are forgiven". Because by the grace of God, He gives us what we do not deserve and can never ever earn, our sins forgiven, healed, and not held against us. And what I love about this, the scripture says, "When Jesus saw their faith".
How do you see faith? Like I thought faith was an invisible feeling. But faith wasn't just an internal invisible feeling or belief. It was something internal that was so strong that it showed up in their actions. Here I can see your faith. What I love about you is sometimes I just look out and they go, "I see your faith". I see your faith, I see your faith in the way you serve. I see your faith in the way you show up. I see your faith in the way you give. I see your faith in the way you worship. When you worship and you don't feel like God's gonna do anything, but you continue to give Him praise. I see your faith in the way you love those, that are difficult to love. I see your faith when you continue to bring people week after week, hoping they'll find the grace and the forgiveness of Jesus. "When he saw their face".
Now, if you're paying attention, what did Jesus do for this old boy? He forgave his sins. But that's not why they brought him to Jesus. They brought Matt to Jesus 'cause Matt was stuck on a mat. They brought him for healing and Jesus gave him forgiveness. Which shows us the very important principle that sometimes God gives us what we need before He gives us what we want. And that may be where some of you are right now. You're asking for this, but God's gonna give you that. Because you want this, but you need that first. And God may give you what you need before He actually gives you what you want. I don't wanna be sad, but God's given me his presence, before He's given me joy. Sometimes He gives you what you need before He gives you what you want. And so what do you see? You see 'em in every church. You see someone who cares. You see someone who's preoccupied. You see someone who's in need. And unfortunately you see someone who's critical. Don't point at 'em right now. That'd be rude, that'd be rude. But you know they're there. You know they're there.
Mark 2:6, says, "Now some teachers of the law," the educated folks in the room, "the teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 'why does this fellow Jesus talk like that?'" He can't forgive sins. "He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone"? Jesus, you can't forgive them. And then, "Hey you idiot guys, you punk young men, you with the tattoos in the skinny jeans, you shouldn't dig through a roof. That's not how we do it in the biblical church". And Jesus didn't stop for the critics. But he said to the man, Matt, "I tell you, get up". Everybody said get up. Get up. He said, "Take up your mat". Somebody said, take up your mat. Take up your mat. And he said, "Get on your way, go home". So the man did what? He got up, he took up his mat, healed by the power of Jesus, "and walked out in full view of all of them". And "this amazed everyone and they praise God, saying, 'We've never seen anything like this'" before. "We've never seen anything like this" before.
Jesus gave him what he needed before he gave him what he wanted. Your sins are forgiven, now take up your mat. Go your way, you don't need that thing anymore. God may speak to somebody this weekend. Take up your mat. Take up your mat, you don't need it anymore. What does that mean for you? Leave it there. Lay down your drugs. You don't need them anymore. That's not your crutch. You got a power greater than anything that does inside your body. Tap into the power of the Holy Spirit. Let go of it, let go! Let go of the grudge. It's not healing you, it's hurting you. It's poisoning you. Leave behind your shame. Let go, leave that mat behind. Let it go and walk on, go home. You're forgiven, you're healed, you're free. Get out there and have a party. Tell someone else, invite him and tell him who he is and what he does. Leave your mats. Get up and go. Carry on and share my love. And you'll see all this kind of stuff.
All these kind of people in every church. Which one are you? You might have two of them. You can actually have two at the same time. Let's look at 'em, which one are you? You might be someone in need. This a great place to come when you're in need because there's always someone who cares. And for the grace, and by the grace of God, I hope as every single one of you that cares enough to not always have your back turned, but to look the other way and say, "Who needs a little love"? Unfortunately you got some who are preoccupied and some of you, if that's you and it's been me before, let's call it what it is. If you've come to church every week by yourself for a year, you're preoccupied. If you haven't brought anybody in a year, "Praise the Lord, hmm, good stuff, Pastor Craig". Just call it what it is. I've been there. Doesn't make you bad, it's just what it is.
And that's not the way God wants it to be. Or some of you that are critical, I got a whole 'nother sermon for you. Don't have time for you on this one. 'Cause I got too much time to do the good stuff rather than pick apart other things. But I'll save that one for another day. Which one are you? Someone in need? Someone who cares? Someone who's preoccupied? Someone who's critical? 'Cause there's one more type and the other type is this. We, in every church, we're all someone, who can be changed by the grace of Jesus in our lives. All of us, all of us, all of us, all of us, all of us. Because scripture tells us if anyone and it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done, if anyone is in Christ, what is he? He's a new creation. The old is gone. And everything is now new. That that if you're in Christ, you find freedom. He who the Son sets free is free indeed. There's life in Christ, there's life in Christ.
And we're all someone who can be changed. Who do you see in every church? Do you see person after person after person who can be changed by the grace of Jesus? And what do you not see? Who do you not see in this house full of people hearing the word of God? Let me tell you who you don't see. It's pretty obvious. You ready for it? I went to seminary for this. Here's who you don't see. You don't see, don't miss it, you ready for it? I hope you're paying attention. You don't see all the people who aren't there. I told you it was obvious, but you don't see all the people who aren't there. It could be the lady who was invited and almost went, but she was so afraid that she might not be welcomed because of some stuff in her life. And she didn't realize it was full of people who cared. Or it might have been the guy that was invited, but he didn't wanna miss the game. Or let me just modernize it a little bit. It might be all the people who used to go, but after Covid hit, they resumed every other normal activity in their life, but they didn't come back to church.
I'm preaching to the choir 'cause you're here. But there's some of you online. Just know I love you, just know I love you. And they're clapping because they love you. We do. We just miss you, man. We just miss you, just miss you, we just miss you. He's like, "It's better with you". Just miss you, like really miss you. Can you feel it? We miss you. Let me show you the guy on the drug bust again. One of the reasons why I love this guy, because there's a time in my dad's life that that could have been his dresser. Because I'mma tell you right now, if I talk about him, I can tell the truth of all integrity and say he became one of the greatest men of God that I've ever known. But in the early years, he was the number one guy on my prayer list because, and I've said this publicly in front of him, so I would not shame him. But in my early years, I never saw him after 10 o'clock in the evening, sober one time. He had his scotch in his water and not much water.
And so I prayed for him early on. I prayed for him before I was a Christian. I prayed for him in high school. I prayed for him in college. I prayed for him as a young pastor. And then what happened one day is he recognized he actually was in need, he was in need. And he found some people in the church that cared and they helped him find strength in Jesus. And he was changed, changed, changed. And he became the church. He became one of the greatest examples of the church. And then you said, "Wait, wait, wait. I thought we'd go to church". No, we don't just go to church. Listen, we are the church. We are the church. And he became the church. And on the day that he died at his home, Amy and I were there. And she can tell you it was like a scene from, it's the closing scene from "It's A Wonderful Life". You remember the scene? "George Bailey did this for me". Person after person came in wailing, saying, "He was like a father to me". He paid for my tuition.
Back he was like, well, you know, about my dad, is he didn't spend a dime on himself. He lived way beneath modest, way beneath modest. I wanted to get him new carpet every time I was there. Nasty carpet. New carpet's coming, Royce, new carpet's coming, okay? So like incredibly modest. He paid for my daughter's tennis lessons. He helped me become sober. A young couple. He saved my marriage. Person after person after person. He did what these four guys did. One lady said, "He picked up my son who was an addict, who didn't have a car and drove him to church every week. Then he got up in a program and helped him get sober. Then he took him out to this place and with that a horse trough, filled it up with water, made him get baptized". That's what she said, "Made him get baptized, right there in the horse trough". He became the church. Jesus did that work in him. The greatest miracle that I've ever seen. Forgiveness of sins and it changed life.
So at the end of his life, I think the thing he was most proud of is Sam and I went down when they dedicated a sober living home to him. And this was Tom's house, named after my dad Tom. And, so who are we? Who are we? Who are we? Who are we? We're the church. We're the church. We don't go to church, we are the church. We're broken people saved by the grace of Jesus. Loving those who are hurting, in need of healing. Because listen, we're all someone in need. And we all can be someone who cares because by the grace of Jesus, we all can be changed. So let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Come on, let's go. Let's go, let's go, let's go, who are we? Who are we? The church. Come on, who are we? Come on, Florida. The church! Come on, more. Come on, Tulsa. The Church! Come on Catoosa, come on Catoosa. We're the church, we're the church. We're the church, with the church, with the church.
So Father, empower us by the grace of Jesus to be your church.
As you're praying today, wherever you are, those of you, there's someone in your life who's not a follower of Jesus, and you want to pray for them, think about it. You can bring 'em to church next weekend. There may be more services this weekend and you can bring 'em then. There's someone you know that's not a follower of Jesus and you wanna pray for them. Would you lift up your hand right now? Lift up your hand. Lift up your hand right now. Those of you online, if you wanna just type in, even a first name. Just I'm praying for James, I'm praying for Jen. Whatever it is, you're welcome to type in a first name. What I want you to do is take a moment and just pray where you are for that person. If you don't have a name, I'm gonna just encourage you to turn around. No, be preoccupied and let's look around, and fall in love with broken people who need hope and healing just like us.
Father, we pray in the name of Jesus, that you do miracles and draw these people to the grace of your son Jesus.
As you keep praying today without looking around, some of you are in need. And the good news is you came to the right place. You may feel the burden and the weight of your sin. You don't know where you stand with God. My dad went to church, I went to church, but we didn't know Jesus. Some of you may be similar right now. You wonder where you stand with God. Let me tell you about Jesus. Jesus came for people like the guy in that drug bust. He came for people who are broken. He came for people who have sinned in a massive way. People who feel ashamed, people feel guilty. He didn't come for the righteous, he came for the sinners. He came for people like me, came for people like you. And what did he do? He was the son of God perfect in every way, who shed his blood so our sins could be forgiven. And God raised him from the dead.
So anyone, and this includes you, listen to me, you, no matter what you've done, no matter where you are, when you call on His name, all of your sins will be forgiven and you'll be brand new. You may have been looking for someone else. God has salvation. He's gonna give you what you need before what you want. Wherever you're watching, from those who say, "I need His grace, I need His forgiveness. I wanna know Him, I step away from my old life today, I surrender by faith, I give my life to Him". That's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now, all over the place. Lift them up. Praise God, for you guys. Others today say, "That's my prayer. Jesus, I need you". Lift your hands up and say, "Yes, I surrender to him". Praise God for you. Others, today, "Jesus, I surrender, I give you my life". Online, just type it in the comments section, "I'm surrendering my life to Jesus". "I'm surrendering," just type that in the comment section. Pray wherever you are, pray:
Heavenly Father, Forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me. Make me brand new. Fill me with your spirit, so I could know you and serve you, and follow you. My life is not mine. I give my whole life to you. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus name I pray.