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Need a lift?
by Jonathan McKee

CLICK HERE for a simple PowerPoint for this message.
(Thanks to www.sxc.hu for the background art)

PASSAGE:

John 5:1-9 (NLT)

Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. [2] Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. [3] Crowds of sick people-blind, lame, or paralyzed-lay on the porches. [4] [5] One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. [6] When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?"

[7] "I can't, sir," the sick man said, "for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me."

[8] Jesus told him, "Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!"

[9] Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking!

MAIN POINT: God can save you the same way that he saved the sick man by the pool.

SOUND BYTE: Jesus wants to lift you up if you're tired of being down.

RATIONALE:

  1. Decide if you want to get well
  2. Stop giving excuses
  3. Do what Jesus says
TALK:

(This is a short little talk that you can use to present the Gospel, using the story of the sick man by the pool.)

Ever feel mediocre, uninteresting or worthless?

Listen to the following quote:
"I have an iron will and all of my will has always been devoted to conquering some horrible feelings of inadequacy. I'm always struggling with that fear. I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being of worth and then I get to another stage and I think I'm mediocre and uninteresting and worthless and I have to find a way to get myself out of that again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible feeling of being inadequate and mediocre and it is always pushing me, and pushing me and pushing me. Because even though I have become somebody, I still have to prove that I am SOMEBODY. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will." Do you know who said that? Madonna.
What a struggle. Funny thing is, whether you like her or not, Madonna has sold more albums, had more hit songs, and sold more concert tickets than almost any artist alive today. Yet she still has this struggle of "feeling down."

Ever just "feel down" and no matter what you try, you can't seem to lift yourself up?

State Your Point: Jesus wants to lift you up if you're tired of being down.

A lot of us spend our whole life trying to lift ourselves up. Trying to find a cure for the pain or the emptiness that plagues us. Let's check out a story of a man who spent his whole life trying to "lift himself up."

Read vs. 1-6

Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. [2] Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. [3] Crowds of sick people-blind, lame, or paralyzed-lay on the porches. [4] [5] One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. [6] When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?"

NOTE: Some of you might get questions about the verse in the New American Standard Version or the King James Version. It refers to "an angel of the Lord coming down and stirring the waters." Barclay comments about this verse in his commentary of the book of John.

"The passage we have put in brackets is not in any of the greatest and best manuscripts and was probably added later as an explanation of what people were doing at the pool. Beneath the pool was a subterranean stream which every now and again bubbled up and disturbed the waters. The belief was that the disturbance was caused by an angel, and that the first person to get into the pool after the troubling of the water would be healed from any illness from which he was suffering. To us this is mere superstition. But it was the kind of belief which was spread all over the world in ancient days and which still exists in certain places. People believed in all kinds of spirits and demons. The air was thick with them; they had their abodes in certain places; every tree, every river, every stream, every hill, every pool had its resident spirit."

We can share a little of this history- but I choose not to get into "which text says what" unless I'm asked about it specifically. Although interesting and a good discussion, it is a tangent that diverts from our point in this talk.

Summarize story in own words.

Jesus is walking through Jerusalem and he comes by this pool that sick people used to lay around. There was a superstition that every once in a while God would come and stir up the waters - and when this happened - the first person to jump in the pool would be healed. This poor guy had been trying his whole life - but he was handicapped - so it was hard to ever make it to the pool.

So on this particular day Jesus comes walking by and saw him there. Jesus knew this guy's situation. This guy had spent 38 years lying here, begging, with the impossible goal of "getting well." Jesus asks the guy a funny question, "Do you want to get well?"

This seems bizarre. Why would Jesus ask this guy if he wanted to get well?

Well, Jesus is asking some of us the same question tonight. "Do you want to get well?"

If we want to be lifted up, the first thing you need to do is ...

Point One: Decide if you want to get well

Many of us are spending our whole lives trying to lift ourselves up. Jesus is offering us a lift. What are you gonna say?

Let's see what this man says.

Read vs. 7

[7] "I can't, sir," the sick man said, "for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me."

This man is just like us. He's got all his reasons why he "can't" get well. He doesn't even answer whether he wants to get well. He tells Jesus why he "can't!"

If we want to be lifted up we need to 1) decide to get well and ...

Point Two: Stop giving excuses

God can lift us up, regardless of our circumstances. But many of us are too busy making excuses to admit this.

It all comes down to what you want to believe. Unbelief puts our circumstance between us and God, but faith puts God between us and our circumstances.

Let's see what the man does.

Read vs. 8-9

[8] Jesus told him, "Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!"

[9] Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking!

Jesus ignored his excuses and told him to walk. And the man picked up his mat and walked.

You see, if we want to be lifted up we need to 1) decide to get well, 2) stop giving excuses, and ...

Point Three: Do what he says

The man did what Jesus said. A lot of us here tonight might want to get well. And a lot of us might be willing to discard our excuses. But are you willing to put your faith in Jesus and do what he says.

"Faith is not only a commitment to the promises of Christ; faith is also a commitment to the demands of Christ." (William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter)

Jesus wants to lift you up if you're tired of being down.

For 38 years a mat has been carrying this guy. Jesus lifted him up and now this guy carried his mat.

(Insert a story of a friend or testimony of your own life when you were trying to make it on your own- your way- but you failed. Finally, you decided to let God in your life and he lifted you up.)

SAMPLE OUTLINE:

Madonna quote

State Your Point: Jesus wants to lift you up if you're tired of being down.

Read vs. 1-6

Summarize in own words.

Point One: Decide if you want to get well

Read vs. 7

Point Two: Stop giving excuses

Read vs. 8-9

Point Three: Do what he says

Closing - personal story


Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.



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