How far is too far gone? I mean you're alive! How many years has it been that Jesus has been reaching into your life? I'm just telling you that it's impossible to be too far gone! You just have to be willing to believe that you're lovable! Maybe not by your goodness, but because God is so astonishingly good that He chooses to love beyond what we deserve -beyond anything! We're not faking Him out, He knows and He loves anyway!
I don't know why we keep our distance from God -but we do! I know I do at times, but keeping your distance from God is like not taking a shower because you want to get cleaned up first. We feel like "I'm not good enough to come into the presence of God," and we keep our distance from God in so many ways, for so many wrong and so many lesser reasons.
One of the reasons we keep our distance from God is ignorance, we simply don't see Jesus anywhere in our world. We feel like how can I move toward somebody that I don't know is there? I don't see them." So, we just don't know the story of love that has invaded life and that's one of the reasons we want to go on the road is to help people see Jesus in their life!
Another reason we keep our distance from God is arrogance. We see Jesus in our life or we see the story of Jesus but we just see no need. We're like "I got this, I'm OK!" For some of us in our arrogance, our religious relationship with Jesus is kind of like with the fire department, "If I need you, I'll call you, but if you show up before then it's kind of an embarrassment with the neighbors you know? So, Jesus, keep your distance, I'm good I got this and I really don't need you!"
The truth is, that small snapshot of "I'm OK right now," is not sustainable.
When we fear God in a negative way, that's another reason we keep our distance - we just don't think He's good! We may feel like "If God comes into my life, He's just going to take away the things that I want and I just don't think He's good!" Have any of you all ever heard people say "If I give my life to God, He's gonna send me to Africa?"
Let me just tell you, when I went to Africa, I wanted to stay! I would have loved to have been privileged to answer the call to be with some of the brothers and sisters there! I experienced more community and connection there in a village in two weeks than I have in some churches for years!
God's will is good - there's nothing to fear! There is no reason to stay away from love and there are so many of us here who are just stuck in some bad and dark places and today I want to tell you some stories from Matthew 9:18-34 that are stories of the touch of God that I think can change our lives and lead us from bad broken places to forever changed and hopeful places!
In Matthew 9:18, Jesus just made a statement that what He came to bring to the world was not religion! He no longer finishes speaking when a ruler comes up to Him and says 'My daughter just died!' He's kneeling down, broken before Jesus. Who can imagine the loss of a child? Your world just collapsed! And he says "But if you'll come and put your hand on her…"
Where did that come from? Faith! He imagined the touch of God! That there is so much life in Jesus, that 'life' would change death back to life!
And so he comes to Jesus and says "If you'll just touch her…she will live!" This is just a picture of the power of the touch of God! Jesus got up and went with him and so did His disciples. You may not have lost a child, some of you have, but there are times when most of us will come to a place where we've lost everything that matters to us! And the question is --what now? Where's life now? What I built my life for and what I hoped for is gone. Where is my life now and what will I do?
You see, life is all about interpretation because you can interpret everything in great ways or in crazy ways! When Jesus raised Lazarus, half of the crowd thought it was amazing and the other half said we should kill him! Now, we can look at Jesus and we can interpret this positively or negatively and we can look at our lives and look at them positively or negatively! We can look at setbacks and failures positively or negatively.
How we interpret life changes everything and how you interpret your life when everything that maters to you has been lost and you're asking this question "Where is my life now?" Let me just encourage you to reach out for the touch of Jesus! To interpret this as an amazing opportunity to see God work in your life! So, here's what I want you to do, don't keep your distance! Don't stay with the loss! Don't stay with the brokenness and the sadness and don't quit on God! Do something! Reach out to Jesus for life!
So now this girl is dead in Matthew 9:18-34 and the dad is devastated and Jesus says 'yes' to the reach! The scripture tells us that as He is on His way there in verse 20 a woman who had been subject to bleeding came up behind him and touched the edge of His clothes. She 'touched' - these are stories of the touch of God! A God who touches still today!
One man imagines "If only Jesus touches my daughter…" This woman imagines "If only I touch His clothes…" There is no pattern to the love of God, God is limitless, He redeems in creative ways!
We know from one of the other gospels that Jesus is in a crowd, and people are bumping and He asks "Who touched me?" Who had the faith in this faithless world to believe that things don't have to stay the same and broken? Who had the faith to dare to believe that I'm the God who redeemed broken, not the God who caused it? Who has the faith to believe that hopeless doesn't have to be home?
This woman touches His garment, His coat and the heart of Jesus is so sensitive to the power of touch that He turns and says "Woman, your faith has healed you!" (Matthew 9:22) What do you when nothing's working? For twelve years this woman has been trying to be healed! Reaching out in an authentic, real world kind of way and her world changes!
When nothing's working what's next? Jesus.
Jesus goes on from there, leaves the healed woman behind, pushes through the crowd and now He is going toward someone. Not toward someone who is dying, but toward someone who 'is' dead! This little girl's hand was ice cold, there was no hope in the world. Most people would have just accepted, death wins, there's nothing to do; it's over. But not Jesus! Because of the ruler's faith, Jesus pushed His way through the crowd and in Matthew 9:24 says, "The girl isn't dead, but asleep." Then He touches her hand!
Jesus walks in, He sees death, and He answers it with a touch!
The touch of Jesus changes everything; it is the defining reality of life! Nothing you're facing right now is stronger than the touch of Jesus! There is no death in a marriage, there's no death in a relationship, there's no sin from the past, there is nothing that the redeeming touch of Jesus cannot change!
Father God I pray that you would help each one of us to imagine new possibilities in your love, and Lord to choose no to stay stuck. God, life takes courage. A broken world is sometimes a really hard place to navigate; but you'll lead us home! God help us to have confidence in your grace, in your ability and in your will. Everyone of us today needs to see the hand of God, the touch of God extended toward us and to realize all we have to do is reach back! It's time that we come into the presence of Jesus and just come alive! You can't stay dead in the presence of God; nothing stays dead in the presence of Jesus! -Dr. Drew Shofner