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Dr. Ed Young - Debt of Gratitude

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    Dr. Ed Young - Debt of Gratitude
TOPICS: Gratitude

Anybody here ever lived in Vermont, would you lift your hand? You've lived in the state of Vermont. Surely out of 5,000, 6,000 people, somebody's lived in Vermont. Am I not seeing your hand? Where? Back there. Stand up, Vermont, stand up there for a minute. Hey welcome, we got one. Now, I am told that in Vermont, there would be a lake that's frozen solid in December, and here's a guy who sees a shortcut on the way home instead of walking around the lake. Look at him. He doesn't have a lot of faith, does he? He's checking out that ice to make sure it's thick enough. This is December, so here he goes across the lake. He's just feeling his way along and, oop, oop, here comes a much heavier, a snowmobile and there's a couple on it, and they don't seem to have any doubts. They've just got great faith. Watch them, watch them as they go across, zoom.

Now, all of a sudden, he's a believer. And so, we look at the guy who's feeling his way around say, boy, he's skeptical. He doesn't think that ice is gonna hold him up. But that couple in the snowmobile, they must have gone by and said, "What are you doing down there on your knees? It's December, this ice, you think it won't hold you up? You don't have any faith at all". They just zipped across. They had great faith, didn't they? Well, let's just go back to the same lake and see what happens in March. It's been a warm time, and here's this same guy, he's taking a shortcut, going to work this time in March. He still is skeptical. Whoa, he's still skeptical, but it's March and he's feeling along.

Here comes this couple, and this couple has the attitude, you hear this a lot of times in churches and pulpits, "If you'll just believe. If you'll have enough faith, boy, if you'll believe and be passionate about your faith to believe is to know it's a reality. Picture the reality and you'll be safe. That's what faith is. You want faith, faith, faith in yourself, faith in what you believe. I desire it. I claim it in the name of dah, dah, dah, and boy, it's going to happen". They had faith. Well, here we go... Now, what in the world is this? You see faith. You see death when they went in that hole, hypothermia, drown, whatever, death. But they had, "I had a lot of faith". And then we see doubt... So, that's the three words we're gonna look at. Three gigantic words that affect every single one of us today and the rest of our lives.

And we need to understand and we'll see what Jesus did and what Jesus said, what he did, what heed said, what he did and he said about these three giant words: faith, death, doubt. Hope you have your Bibles with you, Luke chapter number 7. Luke 7, verse 1 through 10, Jesus deals with faith. And then verse 11 through verse 17, he deals with death, D-E-A-T-H. Verse 18, all the way through verse 35, he deals with doubt, doubt. So, let's look at that, if we could. Luke 7, verse 1, "When He had completed all His discourse, his teaching", in the hearing of the people, "He went to Capernaum," Capernaum. And he'd been out in the plain, the side of the hill in a flat area.

"And a centurion's slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. And when he heard about Jesus," the centurion, "he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him," begged him, "saying, 'He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.'" Talking about the centurion. "Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, 'Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it.' Now when Jesus heard this," now listen carefully, "He marveled at him".

What does it take to amaze God? What does it take to just be marveled, God to say, "that's amazing"? What does it take? "And turned and said to the crowd that was following Him," this is Jesus, "'I say to you, no, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.' When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health". Interesting, isn't it? We talk about faith. First of all, you have to know what a centurion is. A centurion would be a captain in the Roman army, be in charge with about a hundred soldiers and that's how the Roman army was established. They had centurions who were captain with a hundred soldiers, over them that had generals and the generals answered to the emperor to Caesar. And so this centurion was just one step away from ultimate power, the power of Caesar. And so, we have to understand that in the context.

Now, the centurion had a slave, his right-hand man, whom he loved, I'm sure was like family to him, and he was dying. And so, the centurion sent the leaders in the synagogue, the Jewish leaders, the elders, and said, "Go tell this Jesus, ask this Jesus to heal, to heal my slave". And by the way, this is the Gospel of Luke. Remember Luke was a doctor. Look was perhaps the only Gentile writer in the New Testament, and so Luke used the word "healing" and the word "saved, salvation," interchangeably because they're the same word in the Greek. If you're healed, you're saved; If you're saved, you're healed; and that is really true. All of God's children are healed in this life or in the next life. That's the promise that we have in Christ.

So, get that straight. And so here we see that the Jewish leaders went to the centurions and they went on behalf of the centurion to Jesus and said, "This man is worthy," did you notice that? "Is worthy of being healed". Man, he's a conquering officer. He was perhaps over that whole area. What had he done in the eyes of the Jews to make him worthy? First of all, he was a friend to the people. In other words, evidently the centurion had gone to the synagogue. He saw a worship there of a monotheistic God. He saw the reverence of the people. He saw the morality of the people. He was attracted, and perhaps some people think he was not just a God-fearer but he had been an apostolate. He had literally become a Jew and was a member of the synagogue, that made him worthy. On top of that, he says he built the church. He built the synagogue.

So, we see these leaders going to Jesus saying, "Hey, he wants you to heal his servant. Man, he's one of us. He's a part of the synagogue. He built the church. He's worthy". Did you notice response the centurion's group said about him? They said, he said, "I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy for you to heal me". Now, look how the thinking operates. Good man, moral man, built the church, he's worthy of healing, right? But the man himself, centurion said, "No, I'm really not a good man. I'm really not. I'm not worthy of being healed". And see, that's a crazy... we think just like that, ladies and gentlemen. "That person is so good and so moral. He's so fine. He's just goes to church. Man, he is worthy of being healed. And there is that rascal over there, that scum. Man, he's not worthy of being healed".

We think like that, don't we? Sure we do. That's the way the Jews thought. And the centurion, he brings in a whole new paradigm here. He says, "I'm not worthy, but I know Jesus can heal me because I see in Jesus what I see in myself". What was that? Authority. He said, "I tell someone to go to battle, they go to battle. I tell someone to come to me, they come to me. They're my soldiers, I'm in command. I tell my slave to do this and my slave does it. I'm in charge". He said, "I have listened to Jesus. I have watched him perform miracle after miracle. I see he too is a man who has authority, authority over life, authority over sickness, authority in his teaching". And that was the great faith that Jesus saw on the centurion they didn't see in anybody, all the Jews, all the believers in all of Israel.

That's important we understand this great faith. It wasn't just, "Well, I've got great faith. I'm in my snowmobile. It doesn't matter whether the ice is thick or thin, boy, I've got faith. We'll go across the other side," vroom, "I've got great..." No, no, no, no. He put his faith in Jesus. You see, all the Jews, they said, "Boy, how was Jesus able to... that person, blind could see, and how could Jesus... that person was dead is now alive. How in the world could Jesus teach this? I never heard anything like it. It's revolution", and they were trying to figure it out, trying to explain it away. "Who's his family? They just carpenters"? I mean, and see, the centurion, he saw through all that and said, "This is God. This is divine activity. This is someone who has ultimate authority". And Jesus says, "Man, he gets it".

And all the other Jews, so many of them didn't get it. He's got the authority. Who had faith going across that lake in Vermont? Had faith in the snowmobile. Look at that guy. No, the guy down who was feeling how heavy the ice could take his weight, he had reasoned-out, thought-through faith. And when we saw that the snowmobile went over, he had great faith. When he saw it would not hold him up, he turned around and went the other way. You see, doubt preceded faith. This is what a successful mountain climber does. A successful mountain climber knows the rock, knows his limitation, he knows himself. It's an exercise in reality.

You say, "Well, that's not really biblical faith". Then you don't know the definition of biblical faith. Look at it in Hebrews chapter number 11, verse 1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen". Faith is assurance, doesn't sound like pie in the sky, I hope, I wish, does it? It's the assurance and it's the evidence of things you don't see. Faith is an exercise in reality, ladies and gentlemen. And so, this was the faith that was demonstrated by the centurion. This was a great faith, Jesus applauded and said he'd not seen anything like it before. It's because he saw in Jesus the authority. What does it take for you and I to make it through any situation? Just enough faith to turn ourselves and turn the situation over to Jesus, that's all it takes. That's all it takes right there. That's great faith. Faith based on truth, based on experience, you just can't argue with it.

So, then we see the next section of our study, it deals with death. We see what Jesus said about faith, what he did about faith, now we see what Jesus said about death and what he did about death. Look back, if you would, in Luke chapter 7, verse 11, "And soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain," that's what he did, "and His disciples were going with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, 'Do not weep.'" That's what he said. "And He came up and touched the coffin," that's what he did, "and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, 'Young man, I say to you, arise!' And the dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. And fear gripped them all, they began glorifying God, saying, 'A great prophet has arisen among us!' and, 'God has visited His people!'"

What about death? I love what Wiersbe said in his commentary. He has people meeting. He said two crowds met. He said, you have Jesus and you have his apostles and his disciples and a whole crowd coming from Capernaum all the way to Nain. There's a whole crowd of people following Jesus down the road. At the same time, there's a whole crowd of people with a widow of Nain and the body of her dead son. And so, these two crowds met, two crowds met. One was going out to the cemetery to bury the boy. The other was going into the city to celebrate Christ. Two crowds met. By the way, you and I are in one crowd or another. Because of our sin, we're on the way to the cemetery, death, out of business, or we're going away to the city, which is the New Jerusalem, but that's subplot. Also not only two crowds, two only sons met. Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, and then this was the only son of the widow from Nain.

So these two sons met, both only sons. They met, but one was dead and one was alive. Jesus was alive. He would soon be dead; and the boy who was dead, Jesus would soon pronounce him and he would come alive. Interesting, isn't it? Also, two sufferers met. There was a widow who was weeping and there was Jesus who was the suffering servant identifying with her in compassion and weeping with her. He, after all, is a man of sorrows with us, isn't he? So, two sufferers met, but the most important thing about these meetings going in and going out is two enemies met. Life and death, life and death, Jesus came and brought life to him who was dead, and ladies and gentlemen, that is always how Jesus handles death. That's always how he handles it, every single time.

What does Paul tell us in 1 Corinthians 15, great chapter? He says, "What happens when we're followers of Jesus Christ"? He said, "This which is perishable," said, "we take it off, we throw it away. We put on that which is imperishable". He said, "This which is mortal, not gonna be here forever. We take it off, we put on that which is immortality". Isn't that terrific? He said, "In fact, to explain it to you, death is swallowed up in victory". He said, "Death has no sting because sting comes from sin and Jesus took care of our sin on the cross". Then he says, "Thanks be unto God through Jesus Christ or Lord". This is how Jesus handles death, he eliminates it. Death is dead in Jesus Christ. It's out of business. It's nonfunctioning.

And so, we see here, this is what Jesus did and what Jesus said about death. It's always what he does and always what he says about death, and we see it here and that young man was brought back to life. And then we see how Jesus dealt with doubt. By the way, if you'd ask any of us to this point if we read the Bible, who is the one person that would never doubt that Jesus was the Son of God that we've discussed through the Bible from Genesis all the way to this point, one person that would never doubt who Jesus was, I would say it'd be John the Baptist, wouldn't you? I mean, John the Baptist? He would doubt that Jesus was the Messiah, that's... I would never believe that. It just can't be. He was his cousin. He was a forerunner. He announced he was coming.

My, John the Baptist. He sends a delegation to Jesus and he has doubts that Jesus is the Messiah. Hello, look at it in our Scripture. Verse 18, still Luke 7, "The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. Summoning two of the disciples, John," from his prison, "sent them to the Lord, saying, 'Are You the Expected One, the Messiah, or do we look for someone else?'" Now verse 20, "When the men came to Him, they said, 'John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, "Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else"?'" Verse 21, "At that same time," very important, "Jesus cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind".

Now, this delegation came from John asking Jesus, "Are you the Messiah? Are you the one"? And then Jesus is healing people. Here's someone's death, they hear, and he's healing people. And then Jesus turns around to them after they had witnessed this. Verse 22, "He answered and said, 'Go and report to John what you've seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.'"

What is Jesus quoting? Jesus is quoting here from four different passages of Scripture, all in Isaiah. Isaiah 26, Isaiah 29, Isaiah 35, Isaiah 61, and he sort of puts them all together. In other words, he's saying, "Tell John what's going on here, what I'm saying, what I'm doing, what you've seen, what you've observed". But Jesus leaves out one thing. And John was looking for this one thing, set the prisoners free. John said, "I'm still in prison. If justice is gonna rain down like rivers, looks like you'd start with me. I'm in prison". And then he could have added there, "And by the way, Rome is still running the show". He could have added there the religious leaders are solid phonies, they're hypocrites.

And John was saying, "What about this"? John proclaimed the kingdom was coming and called for the people to be baptized and repent of their sin. And he looked at Jesus and said, "Behold, the lamb of God". There's the kingdom. There's the promised one, but the kingdom hadn't come in total prophetic fulfillment. What is our Word here? We've accounted before. It is already the kingdom is come, but not yet. It is not here completely. It's an already and a not yet. And Jesus is saying, "Don't be discouraged". That's that last little phrase there. Just hang in here. I brought the kingdom. It is already here, but total fulfillment is not yet, not yet.

So, we see here how Jesus answered these doubts. Big words we've looked at, have we not? Big words. Faith, not what we thought it was. Get in the snowmobile, you gotta believe. You gotta believe. Death, if you fall through life, lie to yourself, not experiencing reality, you'll get on sinking sand. Doubt helps us grow up in our faith. How does it work itself out? Brennan Manning got a call one morning from a neighbor. Neighbor said, "Brennan, would you come over and just spend a little while with my dad? I brought him here, he's dying, and he just needs someone to visit with and talk with. He's a great believer".

And so, Brennan said, "Sure," so he walked three or four doors up, went in to see the man. His daughter left and they were in the room and Brennan went to sit down in a chair that was by his bed and the man said, "Excuse me, would you mind sitting in the chair on the other side of my bed"? And Brennan said, "Oh, oh, certainly, I'm sorry".

And he sat down. And he said, "Perhaps you wondered why I want you to sit over here and not over there". He said, "Well, you know, I thought maybe that's where you got out of the bed". He said, "Oh no," he said, "Years ago I had trouble praying". He said, "I devised a system that I would have a chair and it would be that chair, and I would imagine Jesus in that chair and I'd just talk to Jesus". He said, "Lying in the bed, I've talked to Jesus a couple of hours a day". He said, "It helps me to pray, to visualize Jesus, and to imagine him in that chair, and talk to him in that chair". He said, "You think anything's wrong with that"? He said, "No, no, I think it's a good symbol".

A few weeks went by and Brennan got a call from the neighbor and said, "My dad just died". Said, "It's a strange thing". Said, "I didn't quite understand it, but when we found his body," said, "I'd been in there with him and I'd walked out and went back in. When we found his body and he was dead, he had so twisted his body that his head was in the seat of this chair". The centurion and his right-hand man, end of their life; the widow of Nain and her boy, end of their life; John the Baptist, end of his life; their lives ended with their head in the lap of Jesus.
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