Larry Roques

Larry Roques

The Pastor's Journal of House of Joy Church

NO JOY IN MUDVILLE

              No joy in Mudville 

                               November 16, 2014

 

 

 

 

John 5:1-9

 

 

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 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. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 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?” 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.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:1-9 NKJV)

 

One of the biggest mistakes we make as Christians is putting too much demand and trust in the works of the flesh. Many of us have heard buzzwords throughout the years....words like, “flesh mentality” or “arm of the flesh” or “trusting in the flesh” to most of us; we have largely ignored the significance of these characteristic behaviors. In this key passage of scripture this morning, we see Jesus appearing at a place of miraculous healing with a divine appointment for one man who had been plagued with a severe health condition for nearly forty years. When asked by Jesus if he wants to be made whole, he blames. He blames that he has no help to get him into the pool...he blames that others get in before him...he blames his invalid condition.

Jesus did not ask him if he needed help...he asked him if he wanted to be healed.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our situation that we miss our opportunities.  The man’s healing was not in the pool...it was in his heart. Trust in man is a frustrating journey for your spirit. As poet Ernest Lawrence Thayer expressed in His classic “Casey at the Bat”... “there is no joy in mudville”.

 

 

 

Laying by the gate               

 

Acts 3:1-8

 

 

Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of thhand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:1-8 NKJV)

 

City gates were important places during Biblical times. Through these portals passed kings and criminals...princes and paupers....the dynamic and the dying. Our friend in John 5 was lying by the sheepgate, a popular portal for herders and their livestock. Here in Acts 3 we see a gate called beautiful. By its description we see that a lot of folks are using this gate on the way to the temple. And by this beautiful gate lay a man with an ugly problem.

 

Now our lame man was not simply seeking a miracle, he was the family business. He was brought there to this place daily. His family depended upon the income from his tragedy to support the household. Now, here at this beautiful gate, he would beg alms from those passersby. His family did not put him there for a healing, but for a haul.

 

Enter stage left Peter and John...who sees the man...they consider his condition. He doesn’t mind supporting the household with his woes, but to get the old dancing shoes out would be a real gas. So to his surprise, they do not drop denarii in his cup. They do not leave food or blankets. They give him the gift of directing him to a powerful God. Each of us has the ability to decide if we wish to lie by the gate taking what the flesh will throw us...or if we desire to rise up and walk...and see the Glory of the Lord.

                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Waiting for man and not on the Lord

 

Isaiah 40:28-31

 

 

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV)

 

There is a price for trusting in the arm of the flesh and that price is more of the same. Our ability can only go so far. We see people right now trusting and hoping to see a change in our political climate. How long do we go on seeing the same result before we figure out that our hope is not in man? I have discovered a winning team that no man can corrupt. I have witnessed change that saves, heals, delivers, and brings peace without compromise. My representation has never failed me...I can depend upon Congressman Right Knee and Senator Left Knee....

 

Here in Isaiah, the Prophet explains that we cannot trust the tensile strength of our flesh. We cannot depend upon human wit and intellect to finish this race of life. We can only depend upon the Lord our God to strengthen and undergird us and give us power to finish this race.

 

He goes on to tell us that even the youth get weary. We are seeing this today. Our kids have seen too much...they know too much...they have been exposed to things that without understanding are staggering to process. This is why we have seen a steady surge in witnessing our children with adult problems. You never heard of a child or a teen killing his or her self when I was a kid. What is different now? What is different is we have redesigned a world with problems and no remedies. God is the answer...and we have stripped him from our schools and our government.

 

 

The miraculous is driven by faith and powered by prayer

 

Psalms 77:11-15

 

I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah (Psalms 77:11-15 NKJV)

 

Many people stopped believing in miracles because man stopped trusting in God.  Man became “self-sufficient”. He became misaligned and misguided. He left the words of the creator to trust in the words of philosophies and theologies cooked up my men with no greater mental capacity than themselves.  The self-help book industry is a manufactured Frankenstein of half-witted wordsmiths that haven’t seemed to have found the answer yet after multiplied millions of tries. It seems one of our resident geniuses would have found the answer to all of our problems by now...

 

I love David. David was a screw-up and he knew it.  He never preached his perfection...he sang of the wonder of His God.  The Bible is not a collection of pompous thinkers who pontificate their own theories. It is sixty six books of screw-ups, sinners, murderers, adulterers, horrible people, who trusted a God that transformed their lives.

 

David saw the mighty works of God. He worshipped in the temple and He worshipped even harder in the cave. He learned that moving the heart and the hand of God is not a challenge or a conquest, but simply the result of being in His presence. We can see the miraculous...if we simply see beyond ourselves. We will move in His miraculous if we trust not in the bat or the batter, but in the wind that moves them all.

 

 

 

 

 

The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

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