CEASE TO SURVIVE – THRIVE

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TEXT:                           Luke 18:35-43

INTRODUCTION:

A young man, who had worked for years on the railroad, wanted a job as a signalman for the railroad. For his interview, he was told to meet the inspector at the signal box. The inspector asked him, “What would you do if you realized that two trains were heading toward each other on the same track?” The young man said, “That’s easy. I would switch the points for one of the trains.” “The inspector then asked, “What if the lever broke?” The young man said, “Then I’d jump down out of the signal box and I’d use the manual lever over there.” Next, the inspector said, “What if the lever had been struck by lightning?” The young man said, “Then, I would run to the signal box and phone the next signal box to let them know what was happening.” The inspector continued on, “What if the phone was busy?” The young man said, “Well, in that case, I would rush down out of the signal box and use the public emergency phone at the crossing up there.” Then, the inspector said, “What would you do if the public emergency phone had been vandalized?” The young man said, “Oh, well, then I would run into town and get my uncle.” That answer puzzled the inspector. So, he asked, “Why would you go get your uncle?” The young man answered, “That’s simple. Because he’s never seen a train crash before.”

Too many people today feel that their life is headed toward a crash. Their life feels like two trains headed directly toward each other and there is really nothing they can do to stop it from happening. For them, a crash seems inevitable. The crash may be a personality crash in a marriage or at work. The crash may be a financial crash or an employment crash. Whatever it is, for them, life seems to have come unglued and untracked. They feel as if they are “partly on track” and “partly off track.” The final decision of where they will end up is yet to be decided.

Could that be how you feel today? Maybe you feel as if you have gotten off track. Maybe you feel that something is missing in your life and you just don’t know what it is. Maybe you feel like you are about to crash. Let me ask you, is there a way out? Is there any hope? Are there any answers? Is there any way to stop the crash before it happens?

I want you to listen to me very carefully at this point. If you don’t hear anything else that I say today, please hear this. By all means, there is hope! Let me say that again. There is hope. There is an answer. There is a way out. A crash in your life does not have to happen.

Where do we find that answer? Where do we turn? How do we stop the crash? Now, while there is an answer, we will not discover the hope or answer by reading our horoscope. We will not find the answer by calling a psychic hotline. You know, I always thought that if those people were really psychics, wouldn’t they know that I needed help and wouldn’t they call me instead of me having to call them? We will not find our hope by consulting a fortune cookie or by picking up a self-help book at the bookstore.

So, if the answers are not found in those places, where are the answers to be found? Simple. The answers to life’s questions are found in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to earth, sent by  God our Heavenly Father, so that we might experience true life. Jesus came so that we could know true happiness, true peace, true joy, and true fulfillment. Jesus came so that we could genuinely know God and have a personal relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, rather than turning to God, rather than giving their life to Jesus Christ, too many people find themselves wondering helplessly through life. They are lost, confused, and they are going through a maze of discouragement and doubt. Again, it could be that is where you find yourself today. Maybe you feel as if you are headed toward disaster and you do not see a way out.

In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus gave us an example of a man who must have felt the same way as many of us, but who had his life turned around by the power of Jesus Christ. In this passage, Jesus showed us how one man’s life was miraculously changed when he encountered Jesus. By giving us this story, Jesus showed us how our life can be turned around if we come to Jesus Christ. Now remember, coming to Jesus is the beginning point, both in these verses and in our daily life.

The man in the story was named Bartimaeus. Although the name of the blind man was not mentioned in the Gospel according to Luke, Mark gave us his name…Bartimaeus was a man, by any account, who had very little going for him. Mark tells us that Bartimaeus was stranded on the outskirts of Jericho. He may have even lived on the streets. There did not seem to be any changes on the way in his life, he was just surviving. There did not seem to be any way for him to break the cycle. He really did seem to be destined to remain on life’s disabled list for all of his life.

Let’s notice what caused Bartimaeus’ problems. First of all, Mark told us that Bartimaeus was blind. I cannot begin to fathom being blind. I can’t imagine being unable to see a picturesque sunset…a starlit night…or the smiling face of a child. Mark leads us to believe that Bartimaeus had been blind for some time. We also know that Bartimaeus was poor. Because he was blind, he could not work, he had to depend on others. All Bartimaeus could do was to sit along the roadside, begging, hoping kindhearted travelers would spare him a few coins.

Now, in all honesty, we would have to say that Bartimaeus’ future looked gloomy, wouldn’t we? None of us would deny the fact that Bartimaeus was a pitiful soul. His life seemed hopeless. Bartimaeus was a man who simply survived. No enjoyment. No happiness. No success. No peace. No joy. Bartimaeus’ major concern in life was simple survival. That is, until the day a special passerby, Jesus, came along. Jesus gave Bartimaeus something money could not buy…a gift that would change his life forever.

Now, what can we learn from Bartimaeus? What can we learn from him that will help us get plugged in to the plan that God has for our life? How can we move beyond merely surviving and start thriving? I want to share with you three ways.

First of all, to move from surviving to thriving, we must learn to

1. SEIZE ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES GOD IS GIVING TO YOU.

Bartimaeus did just that. Look back at the scriptures.

I learned that when you trace the etymology, or the history of a word, especially when dealing with scripture, it gives you a better picture of the whole account… The etymology of the word Jericho means cursed…It became known as the accursed place because when Joshua captured it over in Joshua 6:26, he cursed it!

The text says Jesus went to a city that was cursed…He went to the accursed place! And as He was leaving, he met a man that lived there!

Can you imagine living in a place that was accursed? It’s one thing to just pass through and spend the night, but imagine if you had to live there! Jesus went to the accursed place! And as He was leaving, he met a man that lived there (v46) It was Bartimaeus.  If you continue your word study, you’ll find out that ‘Bar,’ is a Greek prefix that means ‘son of’ So he was the ‘son of’ TimaeusTherefore we can conclude that Bartimaeus was not his name! It simply identifies him with his family.

Timaeus is his father’s name… The word ‘Timaeus’ means polluted, nasty, dirty, corrupt, filthy (you get the picture). So Bartimaeus means “the son of the nasty man.” The son of the filthy man. The son of the corrupt man. The son of the messed-up man! And he lived in the accursed place! (You talkin’ about a handicap)

The place that he lived was cursed… His people were nasty… And he was blind…! His home was cursed… He couldn’t see… And his whole family was messed up…! And to top it all off and add insult to injury the text says that he was begging…! He was a beggar..He was dependent… Living on the generosity of others!  I’m sure some of us can identify with Bartimaeus here, in the fact that we too are just surviving…just getting used to, no longer thriving.

But I want you to listen to this, when Bartimaeus discovered that Jesus was close to him, he shouted out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Now, what do you think triggered that request? Was he simply begging as he had always done? How did he know of Jesus’ miraculous powers? How did he know that Jesus was coming? I don’t know for sure, but however he knew about Jesus, Bartimaeus sensed that he had an opportunity to get help and he acted upon the opportunity. He seized that very moment, that very time, no longer thinking whether or not Jesus will be coming back to their place…he has never thought of “next time.”  He took it, he simply took the opportunity to call upon Jesus. Little did he know that this request would turn out to be his best request ever! Bartimaeus capitalized on the opportunity placed before him by God.

Illustration:

In Mark 10:17-31, Jesus told us about another man who was looking for an opportunity. In those verses, Jesus told us about a Rich Young Ruler. A Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus with several questions about life. Jesus presented him with an opportunity just as he did Bartimaeus. Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler to “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

Here was the opportunity: Jesus told him to sell what he had and then to follow Jesus. Now, notice what happened to the Rich Young Ruler. Tragically, the young man went away sad. He refused Jesus’ offer. Why? Why would a person do such a thing? Why would a person turn from Jesus’ offer? The answer is painfully simple: to the Rich Young Ruler, temporary wealth meant more than eternal life. He wanted to keep what he had, what he owned, rather than follow Jesus.

Illustration:

Do you recognize the name Levi Strauss? Probably so. Levi Strauss really has become a household name today. However, his name is not known the way Mr. Strauss wanted it to be known. Like many other men in the 1840s and 50s, Levi Strauss went to California in hopes of making his fortune. He went to California to look for gold. Now, he did make a fortune, but not the way he had planned.

Strauss left his home with a load of heavy canvas fabric. Strauss planned to sell his fabric for tents and wagon covers. When Strauss set up his place of business, the first miner who came in said, “You should have brought pants.” Strauss, who had been in California for only a few days, had no idea what the miner meant. So, the miner explained to Strauss that there weren’t any pants strong enough to endure the arduous conditions of mining. What did Levi Strauss do? He immediately took the heavy canvas fabric that he had brought with him and made the miner a pair of work pants. Within days, Levi Strauss struck gold. Not the bright, shiny gold found in the ground or rivers, but the gold of opportunity.

There’s an important truth that we must understand at this point. Opportunities only become opportunities when we embrace them as opportunities. God may offer and offer something to us; however, if we refuse to accept it, the opportunity will be missed. An opportunity must be seized, grabbed, accepted, taken. Bartimaeus accepted the opportunity that was presented by Jesus. The Rich Young Ruler did not accept the opportunity.

Today, before everyone of us is a door of opportunity.

  • Today, God could be calling you to accept Him as your Lord and Savior.
  • Today, God could be calling you to recommit yourself to a walk with Him.
  • Today, there may be a place of service in the church that God wants you to fill.
  • Maybe God is calling you to a teaching position in our church.
  • Maybe God is calling you to get involved in a ministry in our community.

Maybe God is calling you to open up your heart to Him for the so many burdens that you’re having right now…Maybe God would like to speak to you right now, to comfort you, to embrace you, to make you feel His nearness and His presence in your lifedon’t let this time, this very opportunity to pass you by…don’t think about tomorrow, or don’t even think about doing it next time…do it now…this is a golden opportunity that God is giving to us…seize it!  Take it!

Listen to me. If you feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit, if God is placing an opportunity before you, you have two choices. If we follow the example of Bartimaeus, we will seize the moment! We will grab the opportunity! We will follow Him! This might be your open door for the many blessings of God in your life…However, if we follow the example of the Rich Young Ruler, we will allow other things to hinder the opportunity. Beloved, if you’re tired of just surviving, capitalize on your God-given opportunities.

Then, secondly, to move from thriving to striving, we must learn to

2. CONQUER PUBLIC OPINION.

Now, notice the crowd’s reaction when Bartimaeus cried out for help. Mark said, “Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet.” You see, the crowd had Bartimaeus stereotyped. In their eyes, he would never be anything more than a blind beggar. In their eyes, he would never be anything but poor. The crowd thought that their question was fair: Why would this Rabbi want to waste His time with such an outcast?

If you want to get something from God; you’ve got to learn how to overcome negative opinions! You’ve got to learn how to turn a deaf ear…How to put on blinders when it comes to public opinion…If you don’t overcome folks, you will never get to your destination… You can’t get stuck at the bar of public opinion. You’ll never move from surviving to thriving…If Bartimaeus had listen to public opinion, he’d still be blind. We’ve got to learn how to Conquer Public Opinion!

Whenever you are trying to move forward in the things of God, there are always folk (even church folk) trying to shut you up…“It don’t take all of that…” (Your praise, your shout, your prayer…) Why is it that the whole church can end up bound and lose their anointing because of two or three people? Because we haven’t learned how to conquer public opinion…!

However, I appreciate Bartimaeus’ reaction. Did you notice what he did? Bartimaeus persisted. He would not give up. Mark said, “He shouted all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Bartimaeus was not going to let a bunch of negative, critical, heckling bystanders rob him of his dream of sight.

There is a similar story to this found in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 17, we are told how David overcame the voices of opposition. 1 Samuel tells us that the Israelites and Philistines were getting ready for battle. As they were, David, the future king of Israel, brought food from home for his brothers. When David’s oldest brother Eliab saw him, he said, “Why have you come down here…” David also got the same response when he later volunteered to fight Goliath. Saul said, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him, you are only a boy.” However, despite their negativity, David would not give up. He insisted that he be given a chance to fight.

Illustration:

Robert Fulton invented the steamboat. When he first presented his new invention, he had plenty of critics crowded on the river bank. The critics yelled, “It’ll never start, it’ll never start.” Fulton proved them wrong. After a lot of clanking and groaning, the steamboat started up and moved down the river. The critics were quiet momentarily. Then they rallied together and started yelling, “It’ll never stop, it’ll never stop.”

To succeed in life, or to move from surviving to thriving,  you must overcome the many efforts of others to pull you down. How you choose to respond to criticism is one of the most important decisions that you make.

The first and great commandment about critics is, Don’t let them scare you. Charles Dodgson warned, “If you limit your actions in life to things that nobody could possibly find fault with, you will not do much.”

Nothing significant has ever been accomplished without controversy, without criticism. When you allow other people’s words to stop you, they will.

Christopher Morley said, “The truth is, a critic is like a gong at a railroad crossing, clanging loudly and vainly as the train goes by.” Many great ideas have been lost because people who had them couldn’t stand the criticism and gave up.

Remember this:  If you are afraid of criticism, you will die doing nothing. If you want a place in the sun, you will have to expect to receive some blisters and have some sand kicked in your face.

WAG KANG NAKIKINIG SA ANUMANG SINASABI NG IBANG TAO, KAPAG SINABI NILANG HINDI MO KAYA, KAYA YAN…Because we are not going to do it in our own strength or ability, but we are going to do it in the power and in the name of Jesus! Bartimaeus faced that make-or-break moment; for him, the opportunity was now-or-never. He didn’t allow the negativism of the crowds to deter him. He didn’t worry about his deficiency or his handicap; he didn’t lament what he couldn’t do, rather he just did what he could. He didn’t hesitate; he began calling out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” KAPAG ANG IBANG TAO NGA TINATANONG SILA KUNG KAYA NILA, they are saying they can…they can in the name of:  money, in the name of sipag at tyaga, in the name of the people they love! How much more we as Children of God, all the more we can say that we can because we have our God with us!

Listen to me. We must never try to please those who would criticize us. Why? Simple. We will never be able to do so. I can tell you, it is so difficult not to listen to that criticism. But listen to me. As you are criticized, as you face the negative crowd, follow the example of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was a blind man… From a cursed city…With a messed up family… And he was a beggar…But because he Conquered Public Opinion, and was able to stop Jesus, and his life has never been the same again! Don’t let others hold you back. Seize the opportunities placed before you by God. Don’t be limited by the negative criticism of others.

Now, finally, if we are to move from striving to thriving, we must learn to:

3. EXERCISE YOUR FAITH.

Notice how Bart addresses Jesus in verse 38: “…Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd referred to the earthly heritage of Jesus ­ He was from Nazareth. That just lets us know where He grew up.

Instead of calling on Jesus as the guy from Nazareth, Bart expresses His messianic heritage. He is the Son of David, the one who the Old Testament has been pointing to as the Savior of the World. This blind man can see that Jesus is more than just a man from a small town in the north; He’s the God-man, sent from Heaven to be the Savior of the world.

Related to this, I wonder if Bart was aware of what the Son of David had accomplished in the lives of other people? Maybe he had heard of Jesus giving sight to other blind people. Perhaps he heard what Jesus said in Luke 4:18, when He stood up in the temple and read from the book of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind…”

When Bart called out for the Son of David to have mercy on him, he was expressing his faith that Jesus was the Messiah, and that He could heal his blindness – that with Jesus his life will be different! He knew who Jesus was and He also knew what Jesus could do for him. Do you know what Jesus can do for you? If He can restore sight to the blind, He can grant you the deepest longing of your heart. He can make your life thrive instead of just surviving!  We need to cry out in faithlike Bart did.

Friend, you don’t have to be a spiritual giant for God to move on your behalf. You just simply need faith. Jesus stated in Matthew 17:20, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard see, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

In verse 41, Jesus stopped and called him. In response to the call of Jesus, Bartimaeus does three things. He throws of his cloak, rose up and went to Jesus (v.50). Those acts were a direct display of his believing for his healing; which he had not yet asked for at this point. You see, to the poor in those times, the cloak was their only possession to cover their body and to sleep in.

The cloak defined who Bartimaeus was; that he was poor and blind. He would probably have had the cloak positioned over his knees to catch the coins thrown his way as he sat by the road to beg. Throwing off that cloak showed he believed he wasn’t going to need it anymore; that he could pick himself up and go to Jesus for the solution.

We all have to throw off our cloaks that bind us to our circumstances. The cloak of Bartimaeus can also represent our thinking about ourselves. The cloak defines us. We have to throw of the definition of who we think we are. We think we cannot, we will fail, we are bad. We need to take that cloak off and come to Jesus today.

He jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. Even before he got his miracle he threw his cloak, jumped, and came to Jesus expecting a miracle. ALAM NI BARTIMEO NA MAY GAGAWING MABUTI SI HESUS SA BUHAY NYA…ALAM NYA MAGIGING IBA NA ANG BUHAY NYA!

Do you know who Jesus is? He’s much more than just a good teacher. He is the promised one, the Messiah, the Savior of the World. HE IS THE ALL-POWERFUL GOD, THAT CAN PERFORM MIRACULOUS THINGS IN YOUR LIFE!

Beloved, stop settling for less! Stop muddling through life partly on track—partly off track. Don’t just survive, thrive! Thrive through Jesus Christ and your faith in Him.

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