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I can't

This is a story about God making something happen when it is "not supposed to happen".
The Lord had arrived in town and was going to church and it was a holy day (most likely Passover). Crowds of people with all kinds of needs had gathered there waiting... waiting for a special event.

You could be waiting for a special event in your own life. It could be fulfillment of a promise from God...a prophecy to be fulfilled...a ministry vision...a husband or a wife...restoration of your health or a job or a financial breakthrough.
These folk were there for their one special event that happened only on one special day and this was the day.
As it so happened, The Lord was there.

This could not have been a coincidence. This message might not be any coincidence and it could arrive in your life on the special day you have waited so long for, you could be wondering if it will ever happen.
At this particular time each year, an angel came. He came at a certain season for a particular assignment and God had sent him. This angel stirred and agitated the water. We do not know how he did it, but it was tangibly evident and who cares anyhow...provided it happened. There are things that God does that defy description and all we have to do is recognize that He is doing it and participate. How He does it is His concern. We take up the story as follows-

Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 
 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches.    Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches.
     One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 
   When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him,  “Would you like to get well?” 
 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” John 5:1-7

Everyone there was hoping that today was their day. They had gathered there as people do and some of them had assistance. Rich folk could have servants who helped them push to the front. Strong folk could muscle their way in and get to the front. Some people could have been using this as a chance to make money by selling things and the religious ones who seem to be everywhere were also around. They wanted to make sure that no one broke any laws, or did what the protocols of their religious traditions dictated.

It was in such a setting that Jesus saw this man and asked him a very simple, yet important question.
“Do you want to get well?” 
How simple was that? He could have just as easily asked, “Do you want what God has for you?”
I ask the same question of myself at times—“Do I really?” It would be easy to become complacent and settle in to familiar territory and not make waves, but I for one have had a taste of better things and can never settle for second best.  It is quite possible that you and I have a similar opportunity as the man in our story.
Today could be your day or my day and the Lord could be asking us if we are prepared to take it.
He is always offering...

Such a simple yet powerful question really has only one answer—“Yes”, but this man replied, “I Can’t.”

The problem was that he depended on others for whatever he needed. He said that he had no one to help him, so his dependency rested in everyone else and every other system, other than God and His system.

This man was paralyzed. He was crippled physically, but there are other situations that can make us just as paralytic mentally, emotionally, intellectually and financially and in other ways that make us dependent on others. When we depend on other sources, no matter who or what they may be, it is prone to put us in a state of perpetual dependency and keep us crippled.

 

Jesus stood right in front of him and asked him, “Do you want Me to help you?” knowing everything about this man, who had gone there year after year for 38 years, did not give an answer but, motivated by his problem of depending on someone else, revealed his real problem. He had been there the year before, hoping that this day would be his day and the year before, and the year before that...for 38 years.

He had grown so dependent on others, he could not see that the answer was standing in front of him. Depending on others sacrifices truth and closes the door on the day of opportunity.
That day had arrived!
The angel did not come of his own accord. He had been sent on an assignment.
The Lord could have instructed him to find that man and help him only and no other person.
He could have personally intervened in the man’s life as He sometimes did, but this time he did not act. He could have lifted the man up. Peter and John had gone to a church meeting in acts chapter four and Peter lifted that lame up after giving a faith command, invoking the name of Jesus.

There was more to it than simply giving help to the man, so Jesus did not help him to stand. The man had to do that by himself!

Often times our own destinies are in our own hands.
 

This is where many people fail. They depend on others and never rise above their own circumstances.
I’ve found that giving charity, usually money, really does not help those who ask for it. The need is there. The problems are real, but when that gift us used, another is needed and another and another. The one who begs and receives often never raises above that mentality and it can be hard, not impossible, to break out of that cycle.

That man looked at his problems and saw nothing but having no one helping him, little knowing that his destiny did not rest in his hands or in the hands of another man, but in the one who asked him if he wanted to get well.
David said-

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. 
My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. 
O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8

The man had generated his own paralysis and all of us have done that at some time in our lives. It is self-perpetuating until we break the mould and this is done when the mould breaker comes onto the scene. This man has been there when the water started to bubble up and watched someone else beat him to it. He had seen others get the blessing and he missed out. He did at least have persistence, probably saying that it would be his turn next year. Sure enough, next year came and he watched someone else get into the water before he did, but kept hoping that it would be his turn next. Never stop hoping. You may be next! Things have changed since then of course although our needs and problems may still exist. Believe it or not—you are next. I keep saying it. You may be next. Today could be your turn!

“Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. 
Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. 
Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. 
I will call a swift bird of prey from the east— a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding.
I have said what I would do, and I will do it. 
“Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right. 
For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem and show my glory to Israel. Isaiah 46:8-13


Your right now time could be here.

The Lord asked this man, “Do you want what God has for you?” and he replied, “I can’t!” The Lord was telling him that it is not about you, but about Me! That was his main problem. Everything was all about him.

For 38 years, God had been meeting the needs of people in a certain way, but He was about to change the way things were done He was going to start a new thing. Isaiah prophesied-


...You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be. 
I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. 
First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD. 
“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.” 
This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of. 
I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. 
I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. 
I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick. 
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
Isaiah 43:10-19

Jesus was on an assignment to do something new and when that man replied as he did, the Lord ignored him! I am so glad that there are times He ignores me. I am so pleased that He seems to not hear some of the things I come out with and He just keeps going on. He is working to a plan and all that it takes is one word from Him for that plan to be put into effect! One word!

Peter was sinking in the water in the middle of that storm and cried out, “Help me”. He said, “If it is You, tell me to come out to You” and all that the Lord said was one word...“Come”.

All you need is that one word.
The Word was standing there in front of this man, about to break the mould—to cut across religious and political correctness and do a new thing in this man’s life. He had been living in a place of dependency and lack for so long that he couldn’t see any way out, making him think and say he could not change in any way.
That attitude kept him paralyzed and the Lord had to change his thinking.
Our thinking has to change because our thoughts can become words and words then release what is said into the atmosphere around us and become reality. So, bridle your thoughts before you speak them.

The Lord told him to stand up. The man was crippled. He couldn’t stand up!
Jesus knew that, but ignored the obvious external signs. Sometimes we need to look past those things and get our focus on the solution, not the problem. That man did stand, but something had to happen inside him first. The word hit him. The word got into his mind and spirit and started to percolate around in there. That word was a spoken command and this man had to obey.

Obedience is not a popular word in many Christian circles, but it is paramount we understand how important it is and then go about it and do it.

Jesus told a man with a major issue in his arm to stretch it forth That also was impossible to do, but the man obeyed and as he was in the act of doing as instructed, his arm was restored to normal.

There are times when God tells us to do something that we know full well is impossible and does not make sense, but we are not making sense—we are exercising faith!

On such occasions, when everything seems impossible, we have to activate our faith and respond to the command of the Lord and as we are doing that—the miracle happens. If we do not...it will not. It is not about what you have or do not have; where you live or not; if there are jobs or no jobs, if you have money or are broke, the word of command is what will change your situation. I keep teaching on this. I keep saying that if you have a need, do not ask others to help you, but get a word from God and then do what that word tells you. Other people can help you, but the Lord has to tell them to do so.

Whatever He tells you to do will most likely make no sense whatsoever, but do it.
He will probably tell you to do something that will look impossible in your own eyes.

According to the religious folk, what happened should not have been done. I find it very interesting that when the Lord does something wonderful like this, the Pharisees come out. They never helped the man anyhow and after the Lord healed him, they should have been happy to see him get well, but they wanted him to get sick again for the sake of political and religious convenience and correctness.

You have probably come across people like this today. Many will tell you that healing is not for today, that the day of miracles is over, or that sickness came so that God could "teach you something". God never sends sickness to teach us a thing. It is contrary to the life and ministry of Jesus for starters and goes totally against His word. Besides that, I know no one who has really learned a thing in the way they advocate. Sickness is a product of the curse and God never uses the devil to teach us. The Holy Spirit and the word of God does that. 
The evidence was staring them in the face and they would not accept it.
Let’s embrace what God can do and is still doing today because it can draw people to the Lord.

Crowds of people with big needs were gathered there waiting for something special to happen. An angel came at this time every year to dip his big toe into the water and cause it to become agitated.
It had been happening like this for at least 38 years, so everyone who needed a touch from God knew about it and waited. As soon as they saw the water starting to stir, everyone jumped up and tried to get in there first. There was a motley bunch of blind people and paralytic people, so they all needed help to get their miracle.

Angels do not do things unless they are sent on assignment and they are always faithful to that assignment.
I believe that the Lord knew all about it. He could have sent the angel there anyhow. He knew how long this man had been sick.

Before I go on, let me tell you that God knows all about you. He knows your need. He knows what you are going through and He knows how long you have been going through it. He did not come 38 years earlier—but came at the right time and that right time was now. This man was about to get his miracle, but he didn’t know it yet.

Your right time could be now and you might not know it yet. A door had opened up. Doors give access to what is on the other side and I will come back to this later. Jesus asked a perfectly normal and reasonable question, “Would you like to get well?”

If He stood right in front of you now and asked you if you wanted your need met, how you would you answer? Think carefully and answer honestly now. Remember that this man had been in this condition for 38 years, so that was his way of life. It was all he knew. He had become so familiar with it, he probably didn’t know anything different, so the Lord had to change his way of thinking before He did anything else.

You and I have the tendency to become so familiar with our situation, we thing it is the norm and could easily adopt the attitude that there will never be a way out. If so we need to change the way we think. This man should have been so pleased, he would have said, “Yes.” That’s what he should have said, but he said, “I can’t.” Of course he couldn’t—he was a cripple. We do not ignore our plight whatever that may be, because that is where we are at, but the One who can had asked him if he wanted help and he did not say, “Yes” but “I can’t”. When we say, “I can’t”...we can’t. We immediately close down everything down and tie Gods hands.
 
A door had opened up for this man, but he was not yet looking at the one who had opened the door, but at other people for his help. Other people can and do help us at times, but this can create a problem in that we can depend on them and not on the Lord. We make them our source and not God and human sources have limitations whereas He has none. When the Lord asked him if he wanted to get well, he answered from this mindset, saying that he had no man to help him. One translation said that his reply was, “I can’t.”

Ignoring that, Jesus gave several words of instruction. The first one was rise. The Greek word is egeirō that can mean to literally rise up and to stir yourself up. The man had to motivate himself first. The second command was airō with meanings like weighing anchor in a boat or to hoist something up. The Hebrew equivalent is interesting because it relates to expiation of sin. This means that sin is lifted up and carried away or removed. Jesus always deals with the sin issue as well as healing sickness. The third word is to walk, that comes from the Greek word peripateō. This describes the action of someone who is actively occupied with walking, giving proof of ability—and becoming a companion.

What happened here is more than restoring the man’s health. He was given a total change in his direction in life. Healing him would obviously change things, but what can happen to someone if they are not careful, is to lapse and fall back into old habit patterns.

By getting him to pick up his sleeping bag, that was a sign of a person’s state, Jesus prevented him from sinking back down again. There were times He healed someone and told them to go their way and sin no more as He did to this man.

From that time onwards, the man had a change of attitude and a change of direction in life. He couldn’t return to the old ways.

The command to walk is more than simply taking a step or two. Walking is a process of taking a successive series of steps forward. Jesus gave him a purpose, a goal, a future, whereas he had nothing before.

The Lord set an open door in front of the man. I like that. We all like to be given opportunities, or open doorways. A preacher likes a door of utterance. A job-seeker wants one. We all want one. Now there are doors and there are doors. Some are big and heavy and have big locks and handles on them and can be difficult to open, but when the Lord opens a door for us, all we have to do is walk through it!

If you have gone to a supermarket or a department store and noticed those automatic doors, all that you have to do is walk up to one and the sensors pick up your motion. If you are standing still, they will not open, but as you walk forwards, they do and you do not have to do anything else.

What the Lord has done for us is to take the hard labor and sweat out of things. I’m not saying we do nothing. What I am saying is that the toil that came with the curse is gone.

When God created everything, it took six days and He then rested on the seventh. He was not tired from His work, but rested because His work was complete. This is the rest we can enter into and the Lord has opened the door to us. Our laboring is to walk through it. There is much more to this little story than we think.

According to religious tradition, God did something that He should not have done. To those religious bigots, Jesus actually did some work on a holy day. That man did some work on a holy day and they did not like it.

He did more than give the man physical healing that day.
The sin question was addressed. A purpose in life was given to him and he was able to testify that Jesus had healed him.

It is quite possible that when God does something remarkable for us, someone will have a negative reaction, but do not let that be a problem...walk in the victory. To bring this to a conclusion, I believe that we can all be a little like that man at times. The Lord can stand in front of us and offer something to us and we can respond with an “I can’t.” We say we cannot do it because...and give all sorts of excuses whilst the one who can is standing in front of us with the answer.

Allow me to ask a question, “When was that man healed? Was it when he stood up? Was it on the first step?
Was it as he started walking, one step at a time?”

You may have tried to do something and failed for some reason. You may have tried again and failed once more. It never happened. Don’t quit. Never give up. The Lord could have opened that door for you now and what has to be done is to stand up on the inside, pick up your bed so you will not return to that state again and start walking.

If this message has been a blessing or an encouragement, or even a challenge to you, I'd like to hear about it. Your feedback would be appreciated.
Robert


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