We All Need a Net

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Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.  And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

They went out and preached that people should repent.  They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.  Mark 6:1–13

There are a couple of things that I want to discuss about this passage.

First, I am impressed by how much Jesus wanted everyone to have a chance to hear the gospel.  He knew that there would be some who would reject it.  But he wanted them to have the seed planted in their heart.

And the seed is powerful.  But we see here that the seed wasn’t just the spoken message.  It was also the evidence of God’s power, which was seen in healing and demons being cast out.

And today, people can still see the power.  I don’t believe that we generally have the miraculous gift of healing or casting out demons, as the apostles had.  I do believe that people can be healed miraculously through prayer.  But putting that aside for a moment, I want to stress that our lives show the power of God.  We have overcome sins that many others are entangled in.  We are joyful even when it doesn’t make sense.  We love the unlovable.  We serve instead of seeking our own comfort.  These things have a major impact.

You know, back in early February, a woman named Beverly found our church on the Internet.  She was searching for a church that was more than just attending a service and then everyone leaves.  So our web site piqued her interest and she came to visit our service.  She later told us what she was thinking when she saw our church for the first time.  She saw people really living the truth, really caring about one another.  She went out into the parking lot and called her sister, and told her, “I found it!”

For those who are seeking with open hearts, our life is a seed.  Sometimes the seed takes root right away.  Sometimes the seed is buried away, and when adversity comes and reality is exposed, the person remembers the little seed and starts to nurture it.

When we were first married, Ken and I were part of a church where people were wholeheartedly living out the Word.  Then for eight years we went to another church that had many good people, but wasn’t the same.  We became lukewarm.  We got to the point where we were so sad, and so sick of our lives.  We weren’t sharing our faith.  Our marriage was a mess.  We were lonely.  We were caught up in sin.

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Our wedding day

Then we remembered the seed, and  how much we wanted to be all out for God.  We moved to be a part of a church like the one we had been a part of years ago.  And our lives changed in incredible ways.

Being exposed to powerful lives made a huge difference in our lives.   And the point of all this is that Jesus wants everyone to be exposed to this.  He wants people to see others who are living out his word.

Because the second thing I want to discuss is how people are in the grip of Satan.  They may not be demon possessed in the sense that we see in the New Testament, but the devil has a hold on them.  Look at how Acts 10 words it:

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.  Acts 10:37-38

I like the wording, “under the power of the devil,” because it’s more like what is happening today.

II Timothy 2:26 says, that people are in the “trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”  The devil has carefully lays a snare, and people are caught fast.  They find themselves doing things they never thought they’d do.  They want to be different, but they can’t break free.  Life becomes a downward spiral, and they feel mired and lost.

Do you know what is interesting about the Greek word used here for “take them captive?”  It’s the same word that is used in Luke 5 when Jesus tells Peter, “Don’t be afraid.  From now on you will be catching men.”  It’s like people can be caught by either Satan, or by us, as we tell them and show them the good news.

I went to our church’s Bible talk in Columbus this week.  A young woman who has been visiting talked about how she had recently been slacking on the disciplines like reading her Bible, praying, etc.  She confessed that her life had started going down the tubes.  It felt like Satan was hitting her on every side. She shared that she was so grateful that her friends at the Bible talk  had exhorted her to get back to doing what she needed to be doing.  She was feeling so much better, and she said they told her some hard things, but it was was she needed to hear.

The friends helped get this young woman out of the devil’s clutches.  And that’s what we need to be doing.  We need to help people to quit going after the wrong things.  We need to help them get sustenance, instead, from the word, prayer and fellowship.

And it will be all the more powerful if they can see us doing that, and not just hear us talking about it!

This week I found out that a young woman I studied the Bible with who became a Christian but later quit coming to church is going through some very tough challenges. It is very sad because if she had kept coming around, she almost surely could have avoided making the poor choices that caused these tough challenges.  It is heart breaking that her life has become a train wreck.

You see, life is full of challenges, but some messes can be avoided.  Look at what I Timothy 6:10 says:

Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

This verse is talking about leaving God because of the love of money, but the result is the same regardless of why you leave.  Your defenses are gone.  You’re like a sitting duck in a shooting gallery.  And you get pierced with many griefs.

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In closing, I want to tell you a quick story of something I saw on Memorial Day.  Ken and I rode our hybrid bikes to an area at Chewacla State Park where there were large rocks and rapids.  A family was hiking, and their trajectory took them across this treacherous area.  They had four teen and preteen children.  They also had grandma, who looked to be in her mid-60’s, and the mom was holding grandma’s hand the whole way, so grandma wouldn’t stumble.

When the family came to a place where grandma would have to jump from rock to rock across some rushing water, the mom and oldest son took off their shoes, waded into the water, held their arms out and formed a safety net on either side of the passage, so that they would catch grandma if she fell.  The son in law stood on the other side, ready to pull her to safety.

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The rapids to the far right are the ones that grandma had to jump across.

I was very touched.  I thought, “This is what we should be for one another — a safety net.”

We all need a net.  We need our friends to be our safety net, keeping us from falling into Satan’s trap by encouraging us to keep up the spiritual disciplines.

Those in the world need a net.  They need to caught by Christ and not by Satan.  They need to hear the word, see us and our lives, and know that we care.

Jesus needs us to be his net.  I love that thought!  I want to keep people from being pierced by many griefs.  If I can help some to avoid this, it is so worthwhile.

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