SIT REPORT: Desperation

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Desperation is one of the telltale signs of an authentic, world class” turning to God. Such a turning to God happens when an overwhelming number of people come to the stark realization of their dire situation, and then cry out to God for help in a state of urgency and helplessness. Human ingenuity to save oneself is abandoned, while faith in an all-powerful God reaches a crescendo. Other terms that would fit into this description of desperation would be repentance, contrition, and a craving after God.” Globally, Empower is witnessing a growing multitude of desperately searching people in a host of countries seeking God fervently. This inspires us to believe that we are in the midst of the greatest turning to God in human history, while at the same time seeing a religious chill” permeating some other regions of the world. Remember this:

A world driven to the brink of calamity will either cry out to God for help or else gnash their teeth in despair and anguish, cursing God as the perceived villain in their dilemma. So it is in the world today. In some countries, people are on their faces before God, sensing their sinfulness, begging for mercy, and responding with faith in Jesus. Other countries continue in a mild pursuit of religion, leading to frustration in life and anger that their materialistic desires are not being fully met.

Jesus sensed this same desperation as He ministered to the crowds of seekers 2,000 years ago, with one encounter especially standing out. It is the story of the paralyzed man being brought to Jesus for healing as related in Luke 5:18 – 26 from the New English Translation. Please take note of the sections I have underlined and/​or made bold.

Now on one of those days, while he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting nearby (who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem), and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men showed up, carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They were trying to bring him in and place him before Jesus. But since they found no way to carry him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down on the stretcher through the roof tiles right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith he said, Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to think to themselves, Who is this man who is uttering blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their hostile thoughts, he said to them, Why are you raising objections within yourselves? Which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralyzed man — I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher, and go home.” Immediately he stood up before them, picked up the stretcher he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all, and they glorified God. 

They were filled with awe, saying, We have seen incredible things today.”

A world driven to the brink of calamity will either cry out to God for help or else gnash their teeth in despair and anguish, cursing God as the perceived villain in their dilemma.

The determination of the paralyzed man and his friends was stunning. Their faith in Jesus to heal was rock solid and they were not letting a few perceived obstacles such as a crowd or some tiles on a roof stand in their way. When Jesus saw their desperation combined with their faith, He immediately confirmed that a supernatural healing from the Throne of God had just occurred. 

On the other hand, rather than being elated for the paralyzed man and glorifying God for His mercy, the religious establishment (experts in the Law and the Pharisees) was filled with critical, hostile thoughts of skepticism and doubt. And this has been the pattern that has plagued the work and plan of God throughout history, stretching even up to current times. Desperation for God among the lost of this world sparks conversions and spiritual growth, while at the same time in many instances, giving birth to suspicion, disbelief, and disapproval among the saints. It appears that today, primarily in the Western Church, spiritual desperation of the lost” and skepticism among the saved” are at opposite ends of a spectrum. And all of this polarization is taking place while a cascade of Good Kingdom News” is pouring in from all quarters. 

Frequently, I hear staggering reports about the number of those turning to Christ from these same outpourings of the Spirit among Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, animists, communists, and others. But alas… I sometimes hesitate to share these reports because they are so far past many Westerners’ conception of what God can do for many believers here, that the Good News almost invariably is skeptically dismissed as exaggeration. At times, we would be more like the scribes and Pharisees in the story of the paralytic man when Jesus spoke sternly to them stating: Why are you raising objections within yourselves?”

For those of you who are strengthening this massive outpouring through your financial gifts and prayers… Thank you so much! Your investments are reaping a bountiful harvest and I can tell that at the core of your faith lies a God-breathed desperation to see the Kingdom expand. In all actuality, you can be compared to the men carrying the paralytic to his miracle.

Which brings me back to the closing words of our text from the Book of Luke. Oh, that all Western believers in our day would turn from skepticism to desperation! And like the crowd that watched Jesus perform a miracle in their day and in their sight, may all who see or hear of God’s powerful work in our day be drawn to react in a similar fashion:

They were filled with awe, saying, We have seen incredible things today.”

Truly, the verse we need to cling to daily in these perilous times, to remain positive and spiritually desperate, is found in Jeremiah 29:13:

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Your investments are reaping a bountiful harvest and I can tell that at the core of your faith lies a God-breathed desperation to see the Kingdom expand.

One national ministry partner in India sent a timely report, after meeting the elderly woman in this picture. He said, She stood in the front row at the Sunday church service in her village. Her back was bent and her legs weak, but she stood worshiping the Lord, her face glowing with undeniable joy. Then I watched as she slowly knelt and bowed her face to the floor in prayer. This picture is symbolic of what God is doing presently throughout the national Church in India, as people search desperately for hope in Jesus.”

During the remainder of this summer, please don’t forget what I pointed out at the beginning of this message — that in a world that is falling apart everywhere, you can be one of those who carry people (like the paralytic man’s helpers) in their quest to find Jesus. This may take the form of providing a Bible, or feeding an evangelist, or giving a Children’s Gospel to a Ukrainian refugee, or even providing a motorcycle for a church planter to organize a completely new congregation of desperate new believers in the jungles of Vietnam! 

Distractions are many — while the need and opportunities are even greater!

<p>Woman praying</p>

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