Do you remember the time when the name Gaddafi first hit the headlines? If so you are probably over 50 years old.
It is now 42 years since Gaddafi, who was then a 27 year old Captain, took control of Libya in a military coup. He has been in charge of the country ever since and is the longest serving leader in both the African and Arab world. We know him now as Colonel Gaddafi. He has the reputation of being one of the worst despots the world has ever known. His regime allows no dissent, brutally locking up, torturing and hanging those who speak out against him.
Today there is widespread unrest in Libya. The people have had enough. Even Gaddafi’s closest associate in government has resigned and is urging him to end his resistance to the uprising. The United Nations has estimated that over 1000 people have died so far in the recent revolt.
What gives people the courage to think they can bring about a change in this repressive regime? Surely it must be the desire for freedom and justice. The desire for a democratic government.
When the poor get poorer, when corruption and bribery is rife and the governing power has to use violence to get it’s own way, the people can only take so much. For over forty years they have been effectively paralysed by disapproval, difficulties and despair. They want a fairer society and they believe that nothing can stop them from achieving that goal. Imagine what courage it must take to stand up against someone like Gaddafi. The odds are not in their favour but, as has been proved in the case of Egypt, the fight for a fairer country can be won and this must surely be an encouragement to them.
Today we are thinking about
THINGS THAT ‘PARALYSE’ PEOPLE SPIRITUALLY (Luke 5:17-26)
By this I am thinking about things prevent people from being free and achieving their full potential as God intends.
How can we be set free to be the best we can be and achieve our full potential?
We shall look at disapproval, difficulties and despair and I will pause in the sermon so you have the opportunity to share your answers to the questions.
The Pharisees & teachers of the law had gathered “from all the towns in Galilee, Judea & Jerusalem” - the house was full of them
They were not there to encourage Jesus but to find fault and put him down
It must have been difficult for Jesus to keep on teaching & healing with a crowd of glowering faces in front of him, criticizing him at every turn.
Nevertheless “the power of the Lord was present for Jesus to heal the sick”
Q. Why did people’s disapproval fail to prevent Jesus teaching & healing?
He was looking for the approval of his Heavenly Father
He spent time alone in prayer (v.16)
He believed he was doing God’s will
He had friends who encouraged him
The man’s friends brought him to the house wanting Jesus to heal him
First they tried to take him into the house and put him in front of Jesus but because of the crowd they could find no way to take him in
They could have given up and gone home
But instead they carried him up onto the roof, opened up the tiles and let their friend down through the roof
Q. Why did difficulties fail to prevent the friends bringing the man to Jesus?
They really cared about their friend
They believed Jesus could heal him
They thought creatively “outside the box”
They worked together
Everyone expected Jesus to heal the paralysed man
But instead he says, “Your sins are forgiven, my friend”
Q. Why was this important?
Why has this happened to me? Paralysis a punishment for sin?
Guilt - despair - paralyses people spiritually
Needed spiritual healing. Even more important than physical healing
If Jesus had only healed the man physically he might live in fear that he would be punished again - he would not be truly free
Needed to know that he was loved, accepted & forgiven by God
God loves you just as you are
Jesus says to you today, “Your sins are forgiven, my friend”
Jesus will be a friend who will help you when you face difficulties
He will encourage you when people put you down
Jesus can set you free to be the best you can be and to achieve your full potential to the praise and glory of your Heavenly Father
What about THE PEOPLE OF LYBIA?
Colonel Gaddafi still appears to be in control of the country. UK forces, planes and ships along with other nations are struggling to evacuate the hundreds foreigners stranded in the country. The UN has imposed sanctions. Gaddafi has been referred to the international criminal court for alleged crimes against humanity.
Will the people of Libya achieve the freedom they desire? Will they overcome the disapproval, difficulties and despair that has paralysed them for so long? There is no doubt they will eventually overcome with a little help from their friends.
Order of Service 13 Feb 2011
Call to worship Ps 145:1-6 p.625
Hymn 286 Tell out my soul
Prayer and Lord’s prayer
Question: How do we help each other? - Ideas from the newspapers
Reading Luke 5:17-26 p.81
Hymn 461 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
Sermon + Questions
Hymn 358 The great love of God [tune 718 Ye banks]
Offering + Hymn 802 We are here to praise you
Hymn 352 O for 1000 tongues v.1,2,3,6 [tune Richmond]
Benediction and Amen