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Is Lasting Change Possible?

23 Aug

An old man from the mountains took a trip to the big city. For the first time in his life he found himself standing outside an elevator. He watched as an old, haggard woman hobbled on and the doors closed behind her. A few minutes later the doors opened and a young, attractive woman marched smartly off. Amazed, but realizing the possibilities, the old man turned to his son and said, “Boy, go home and get your momma so I can run her through that thing.”

Don’t you wish change was that easy? Many of us approach change like my favorite theologians, Calvin & Hobbes.

Calvin & Hobbes - change - make others change

We want to change others. But it is much more difficult to change ourselves. We struggle with our addictions, anger, fears, frustrations, bad habits, gambling, drugs, poor attitudes, our relationships, language, lusts, pornography, secret sins … and the list goes on and on. We say we want to change. We may even try to change ourselves. We say things like, “I am going to turn over a new leaf. I am going to try harder. I am going to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I am going to get my life out of the ditch. Things will be different this time. You wait and see.” But ultimately our best-intentioned attempts at change are fleeting and unsuccessful we find ourselves right back in the ditch where we started.

In Mark 10:46-52, we meet a man named Bartimaeus. He was a blind man who sat on the side of the road in Jericho, begging for the meager and chance charity of passers-by. He had long since given up hope on being able to change himself. But then Jesus came to Bartimaeus’ town. Blind Bartimaeus knew it was time for a change and he knew Jesus was the only one who could make it happen. Bartimaeus didn’t miss his chance for change.

Bartimaeus provides us with an example of how to experience real change. Through his encounter with Jesus, we discover that Jesus Christ has the power to change our lives. Jesus has the power to heal and to save.

Helen Keller was once asked, “Isn’t it terrible to be blind?” She responded, “Better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing.” While Bart may have been blind, he had insight. He understood that Jesus was the Son of David, the promised Messiah. He knew that Jesus was his only hope.

When the critics tried to silence him, Bartimaeus cried louder. When some people reach the end of their rope, they give up. Others are like Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. They like living in a garbage can because it is familiar. Blind Bart was not like that. He was desperate to receive mercy. He desperately wanted to change and he knew that Jesus was his only hope.

Despite the press of the crowds, despite being on a mission, despite being headed towards Jerusalem and the cross, Jesus makes time for one man. He stops and calls for Bartimaeus. Blind Bart throws off his cloak, sprang up, and comes to Jesus.

Jesus responds with a curious question, “What do you want me to do for you?” You’d think it would be obvious. The man is blind. He wants his eyesight. While Jesus knows our needs, he waits for us to acknowledge them. He doesn’t impose himself, but waits for us to ask for his help.

After Bartimaeus asks to recover his sight, Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well.” The word, “well,” is used elsewhere in the New Testament to mean “saved.” It indicates that Jesus has the power to heal and to save. Bartimaeus’ life is transformed and he becomes a disciple of Jesus.

Where do you need God’s power in your life? Do you have any bad habits you want to get rid of? Do you want victory over addictions, anger, worry, frustrations, profanity, alcohol, gambling, pornography, secret sins, broken relationships, doubt, or workaholism? Are there any good habits you want to start—Bible study, prayer, witnessing, generosity, serving, increased faith? Do you want a stronger marriage or family? What is holding you back?

Since Jesus has the power to heal and to save, let him change your life today! Admit your need and ask God to demonstrate his power in your life.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church on August 23, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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