Sunday 18 May 2014
“After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda,having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath”
GROUND: A surface/platform which forms the based for an individual to stand, and has the ability to carry the weight of that individual without the person falling.
HIGHER: Measuring a long way from the bottom to the top or a long way above the ground.
HIGHER GROUND: This is an ability to move to the next level/levels, above where you are presently operating. This will be dependent on how far you are able to stretch your faith and exercise your obedience.
From our text the man at the pool of Bethesda was despondent and discouraged about his situation, because for 38years he was at the verge of receiving his miracle but couldn’t: someone stronger, healthier, wiser, smarter, more knowledgeable, richer, or more handsome, was always be ahead of him and robbed him of his intended breakthrough. This is true of a lot of people today- they get to the point of getting to the next level, and then the excuse for failure is that somebody else has taken the available position.
It is expected that every child of God to desire to move to higher grounds and not remain static regardless of the political, family, environmental, academic conditions. It is a choice and if we take that position, it will yield fruit, even though it isn’t an easy venture. To illustrate, God called Abraham in Genesis 12: 1, to higher ground:
“Now the Lord had said to Abram:
Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you”
There are 3 Things that may Influence our Ascending to Higher Ground.
- COMPLACENCY: Some Christians get to the point of complacency in their Christian race even after they see all the miracles- the plagues the Lord performed in the Egypt of their lives. Just as the children of Israel, they were faced with the challenge of the Red Sea and quickly forgot all that God did before they left Egypt. They were also confronted with manna, quail and water and at every point in time, they chose to murmur and complain because they forgot all that God did to liberate them from Egypt.
- DISCOURAGEMENT: The spirit of discouragement can prevent us from taking our place and looking at life as proactively as we ought to. We need to know that no one is immune to discouragement regardless of their personality, potential, or positions they hold. We all will encounter discouragement at some point in life, but our response to discouragement holds the key to our future. There are 2 types of people: splatters and bouncers. Splatters hit the ground with a great thud and stick like glue but bouncers pull themselves together and rebound after hitting and bottom. With just a little encouragement they receive the spark they need to move forward. The difference between splatters and bouncers lies in their attitude. Thus, it is all about choice. Splatters bemoan their fate and blame others for their problems. Bouncers learn from their failures and find supporters to help them recover.
When we meet the discouraged we need to do the following;
– Guide them to the right perspective
– Connect them to the right people
– Restore them with the right words. People need to change their thinking, their attitudes and changed actions eventually will result.
- IDENTITY CRISIS : We need to understand who we are in Christ Jesus and not allow ourselves to conform to the mould the world has designed for us. We are called to reign with Christ in the heavenly realm, and to be joint heirs with Him. We “who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). See also Ephesians 1:3 – 14, Romans 12:1– 2.
16 Things You Need To Do If you Believe God for a Higher Ground
1. Get Connected. See John 15:1 -15. Also, Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In getting connected you will need to show Obedience. Isaiah 1: 19 says:“If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land”. You cannot use your cell-phone if its battery is dead. Read the word of God in season and out of season- this is where you will draw strength from. You are depleted every day, so you must replenish the level of the word in you daily.
- You must be Determined and Purposeful. Decide that higher ground is your portion and it is attainable no matter the cost and the price you need to pay. Daniel 1: 8 says
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel took a decision to stand his ground because he had a vision of where he desired to be.
- You must Choose to take a Righteous Stand. Proverbs 14: 34 says:
“Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people”
Don’t envy those that you think are flourishing today because they might be on slippery ground. Remember Proverbs 4: 18: “the path of the righteous is like a shining light that shines brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”
- You must be Diligent in your various Endeavours. Proverbs 22: 29 says,
“Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men”
- Challenge the Status Quo. Dare to be different. Romans 12:1-2 instructs
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”
Martin Luther King took a stand to be different and today black Americans are enjoying a degree of freedom.
- Understanding of the Times is Necessary. Understanding of the times will help us take informed decisions that will enable change. “of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do… and all their brethren were at their command” (1 Chronicles 12:32)
- You must Watch your Tongue: what are you saying to yourself? The power of life and death is in the tongue. Let’s be positive about our lives and circumstances. Someone said ‘I will plan and prepare for someday my opportunity will surely come’. Please consider James 3: 2-12. The tongue has no bone but it is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.
- Tap your Potential. Everyone has a gift and can be of value to the church. We need to look inwards, and use those gifts no matter how little or insignificant we may think they are. From doing those little things the Lord can bless you and increase you. The parable of the Talent (Matthew 25:14-30) is an example in question. Two servants who delivered increase were blessed and moved on to higher ground, but the one who hid his gift receive a reward at the end of the day. See also Romans 12: 6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7 – 11.
- Beware of Vision Killers: consider carefully the people you share your dreams with and those you seek counsel from. In Genesis 37, we see Joseph, who had a dream and shared with his brothers, who did not consider that God could ever bring such dream (that didn’t make sense to them) to pass in his life. However, they saw and knew from the circumstances around him that God was taking him somewhere and wanted to thwart God’s plan for his life.
- Be a Solution and Life Giver. Decide that you will be an inspiration and answer to a problem wherever you are. David’s life was a perfect example. He made himself useful arrived at the battlefield and saw Goliath terrorizing the children of Israel. He could not countenance it (1 Samuel 17: 36). He was also useful in playing the lyre that drove away the evil spirit that was tormenting Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23). All these ensured he was noticed and David moved to higher ground.
- Get Informed. Abigail in 1 Samuel 25, the wife of Nabal possessed information which prevented David from wiping out her whole family. Information they say is power. We need information to take decisions that will take us to the level at which we need to operate. Read newspapers, pray for God’s revelation, read the word of the Lord, listen to the Holy Spirit, discuss and communicate with people.
- You must not Relent in Pursuing the Assignments God has set for you. “But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Remember Lot’s wife who looked back (Genesis 19:15-26).
- You must be Prayerful and have Faith in God. Hannah was steadfast in prayers for she knew help comes from above. Have faith- Hebrews 11: 6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Similarly, Mark 9: 23 says
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes”. We need to pray ourselves out of our comfort zone and determine to move on to higher ground.
14. We need to have the Attitude of Praise at all times. This is the secret of being lifted up.
Consider Psalm 100: 1- 5:
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations”
15. You must not be Dogmatic and Rigid- you need to Diversify. Joshua 14: 7-13.
16. Giving is Key. Through acts of generosity, some people have unknowingly entertained Angels. Abraham is a perfect example. See Genesis 18:1-17.
Everyone can access Higher Ground but we must have a willing heart, and an attitude that will attract and sustain our ability to aspire to go higher as long as we live.