Mark 3-4, Psalm 97
The combination of moral relativism which teaches that there are really no "rights or wrongs" and that everyone should do what they deem is right for themselves, alongside an inflated self-esteem in which everyone believes they are more intelligent than they really are is a deadly combination for accepting Christ and entering into a personal relationship with Him. In the 1940's around 5 percent of the nation were college graduates, this number has soared through the years, where now approximately 70% of all high school graduates attend college. The professors in the universities have also changed, with almost 40% claiming to be agnostic or atheists. This creates the perfect storm as to why so many are unwilling to make a commitment for Christ. Most are raised in Biblically illiterate households only to go to college and be puffed up in pride. In college being exposed to large numbers of atheists and agnostics and believing there is no such thing as absolute truth, when they hear the absolute truth of the gospel message it often doesn't and can't resonate with them. We will see how differently those surrounding Jesus responded.
Notice in Mark 1:16-20, when the first four apostles were asked by Jesus to follow Him, we read in 1:18, "They immediately left their nets and followed Him." Notice there was no hesitation in their response. Notice the leper in 1:40, "Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If you are willing, You can make me clean." There was no question in the leper's mind whether or not Jesus was capable of healing him. We see in Mark 3:1-6, when Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, after asking the Pharisees a question which they hesitated and refused to answer, we read in 3:5, "And when He had looked around at them in anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. The Pharisees doubted and second guessed and questioned and were blinded to the truth. This man was asked to do something physically impossible in his condition but chose to respond without making excuses but in absolute faith extended his hand and was healed.
We must ask ourselves whether we more closely resemble the Pharisees or the man with the withered hand. When we pray, when we read His Word, when we feel moved by the Spirit, do we respond unequivocally or do we make excuses, overthink the situation, believe that our situation is somehow different and God doesn't fully comprehend our particular issues, think that it will be too hard. God wants us to be saints and separate ourselves from the rest of humanity in the way we think and act. But human nature is just the opposite, it craves to conform and fit in. The decision is ours to make. If we feel a lack of God's power in our lives is it because of our indecisiveness? We read in James 1:5-8, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." There is more to the Christian life than simply believing. If we want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit we must humble ourselves, and empty ourselves and respond to His calling in our lives in complete obedience, like the apostles and the leper and the man with the withered hand. If we instead want to continue second guessing or questioning, like it or not we then more closely resemble the Pharisees in this story. There is so much that God can and wants to do in our lives, may we all run the race He has charted out for each and every one of us in humble obedience and see revival in our lifetimes.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: