Are your burdens too heavy? Hear how Jesus can lift them, for he said, “Take my yoke upon you… for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Also includes some of my personal testimony of how I came to Christ. (Recorded October 11, 1998)
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That story reminded me of something that Keith Green said, “That if God created the whole world in six days imagine what heaven looks like because Jesus said He went to go prepare a place for us over 2,000 years ago. It must be awfully nice.”
If you’ll open with me in your Bible to Luke 17:11. In the pew bible it’s on page 80. Luke 17:11:
“Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village ten men with leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” When He saw them He said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. One of them when he saw he was healed came back praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. And he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And then He said to him, “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.”
Rise and go, your faith has made you well. Jesus healed that man on the spot. And the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. You know what? Jesus heals people on the spot today too. Sometimes He doesn’t heal, but sometimes he does.
I know this because God has healed me. I was a man who grew up in church all my life. I heard over 1,300 sermons by the time I was 25. Yet I was living in a sin called homosexuality. I thought that was okay. I was very much enjoying my life. I had a good career, a good job. I was doing just fine and I had gotten into a Bible study down in Texas. They said that the penalty for sin is death. I said, “Well I don’t think I’ve done anything worthy of death. I certainly wouldn’t have gotten the death penalty in America for what I’ve done. I don’t do drugs or drink, and I haven’t killed anyone.” But they said, “Why don’t you ask God what He thinks.” And so I said, “Okay, God if I’ve done something would You please show it to me.” Within two weeks God answered me in Romans 1, it talks about homosexuality along with gossip, slander and anger. He said those who do such things deserve death. I was cut to the quick. And I said, “God, if this is true, what do I do about it?” I don’t want to do something against you, I had no idea how this affected You. And I said, “How can I change? How can I get out of this situation? A counselor can’t change me, my parents can’t change me, my friends can’t change me.”
Then I was reading in the Bible about the blind men who came to Jesus and said, “Jesus we want our sight back.” And Jesus looked at them and said, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus sometimes just touched people and healed them but not with these guys. He said, “Do you believe that I can do this?” And I was saying the same thing to God. I said, “God, I don’t want this anymore. I don’t want to be this way God. If this isn’t glorifying to You then please take it away.” Jesus said, “Eric, do you believe that I can do this?” And I thought about all my church school lessons and all my kid church things and all the things that Jesus did: healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water. And I said, “If anyone can do this, You can.” And I like the blind man said, “Yes Lord, I believe.” And like the blind man Jesus said, “According to your faith it will be done to you.” And they were healed from that day forward.
I was healed that instant eleven years ago. God took me from a path that was headed toward destruction. He put me on a path of life and fruitfulness and abundance. Now I’m married to the most beautiful woman in the world, except your wife of course. I have four children that I would not have had other wise. This is no condemnation on homosexuals, for I was one. Yet, the Bible says that there were people who were changed even back in the days of the Corinthians. He says there are homosexuals and adulterers and alcoholics and swindlers among you. But that is what you were. You are no longer. You have been healed, you have been restored, you have been washed, you have been cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ. Even back then God was healing this disease as well. And I just praise God that I can stand up and say, “Thank you Lord, that I’m alive. I will return to you God and say thank you like the leper who by his faith was healed.”
I want to encourage you in your faith today that God can do things for you that you can not possibly do on your own. Faith is not just an intellectual game that we play. It is not a psychological tool that we use. Faith, that little stuff as small as a mustard seed, has power to move mountains. A little tiny bit of that stuff is so powerful that it can blast you from here to heaven in a blink of an eye.
If you have faith in Christ you will be with Him forever. He promises us this. By your faith you were made whole. By your faith your sins are forgiven. Jesus says throughout scripture that it is by your faith that these things happen. In fact nothing can happen without faith. God says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Me.” You can not even please God if you don’t have faith.
For some reason God has gifted me with faith. And all the gifts of the body are to be used to encourage others. For some reason when I pray with others that gift of faith is transferred from me to them. So at the end of the service today I want to pray with you as a body, and with anyone individually who would like to have the faith that God is alive, God is active, God is powerful! God will do what He says He will do. I’ll be glad to pray for you and by the Spirit of God I will pray that He wells up in you a faith that will be able to move mountains.
That is not the primary thing I came to talk to you about though. Jamie asked if I would share a little about the Internet ministry that I do and I want to do that, but first I want to ask you how your week was. On a scale of one to ten, how was your week? Eight? Pretty good, pretty good. There’s a smiling couple there. Can I say that is probably rare. For the rest of the congregation: they might say five or under, three or under, one bordering on zero.
I had a week like that this week. My ups and downs go quickly. I got this on the Internet, on electronic mail a man sent me this little story. I thought I would share it with you. The young man was at the end of his rope. Seeing no way out he dropped to his knees in prayer. “Lord, I can’t go on,” he said. “I have too heavy a cross to bear.” The Lord replied, “My son, if you can’t bear it’s weight, just place your cross inside the room and pick any cross you wish.” The man was filled with relief. “Thank you Lord”, he sighed. He did as he was told. As he looked around the room he saw many different crosses, some so large that the tops were not even visible. Then he spotted a tiny cross leaning against the far wall. “I’d like that one Lord”, he whispered. I was doing the same thing this week. I was saying “Oh Lord, give me that little one over there.” And the Lord replied, “My son, that is the cross you brought in.”
That is the cross you brought in. I do not want to minimize what you have gone through this week. Lord knows you have been through a lot. I can not even fathom some of the things that you are going through. Facing incurable illness, facing children who are getting divorces, facing parents who you are not sure how you are going to take care of. I know that you are going through things as I look across the room with your friends and with your family that I have no concept of. I do not want to minimize what you are going through, I want to magnify what Christ has done for you. For He has gone to the cross for you. And He said, “Take my yoke upon you. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
By the end of the service today I just want to pray that God would lift those burdens off of you. You can put that right on to Christ because He has already done it for you. And I’m just going to pray with you and give you that power just to say, “God, please take it. This cross is too heavy for me to bear.” And He will. He is much more gracious then saying, “Sorry buddy, you have got to keep that one.” God says, “Yes, let me take that upon me. That’s why I came, that’s why I died.”
About the Internet, I met Jamie about eight months ago when we moved to town. He found out what we were doing and he was very interested and he said, “Would you come share that with our people. Even though many of them are not on the Internet yet. I think many of them would be fascinated by how God is redeeming this technology that so often is filled with so many unseemly things.” And God is using it for His own glory. And let me share with you what happened.
Three years ago I was working for Texaco, an oil company, down in Texas. I worked in their computer department. I was responsible for analyzing all new computer technology and explaining how that might work within the company. Trying to find place where we could put it. Things like virtual reality or speech recognition, or handwriting that you can write right on the computer and it will translate it into text for you. My last project there was to develop their worldwide web site for the Internet. So I created, over two years, a web site that Texaco could put out and communicate with their customers and investors worldwide.
About a month before we went public with that I got a knock on the door from God and He said, “Eric, I need you full time now. I want you to quit that job and I want you to work for me. And I want you to take my message throughout the earth.”
So I quit two days later. I passed down the project and it went on successfully. God called me to start an Internet ministry where we have created a worldwide site. Basically, it is a computer that sits somewhere. Ours sits in Peoria, Illinois. From that computer we are able to tell people about Christ all around the world. And on that computer I started gathering testimonies from people around the country and around the world. I just said, “Could you just share how God has impacted your life and how walking with Christ has made a difference in you.” And I put my own story out there. And within a few months we had over 800 people a month reading these testimonies of the power of God. In the last two years over 12,000 people have come from 72 different countries. The countries list reads like the United Nations list: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the US, England, Canada, Mexico. You go through the list and we can read the statistics of who has spent time in there. They spent an average of 7 minutes and 22 seconds reading the stories about how God has touched them. And then they write in through electronic mail to us and say, “How can I have this happen in my life?”
One woman had a testimony, she was Buddhist, and she simply, in her marriage, struggling. And she one day, even though she was Buddhist, she heard about Christ and she just looked up and said, “Jesus, get me out of here!” She had just heard about the name of Jesus, she called on the name of Jesus and He saved her on the spot, turned her life around, and now she is serving Him with all her heart.
Another woman in Malasia read this story on our web site in Illinois and she said, “That’s exactly what’s going on in my life! I’m a Buddhist too, how do I do these same things that this woman did? Can you tell me how to be saved?”
They are just writing and saying, “Please tell me about Christ.” Now if I went knocking on doors in Streator, I don’t know how many people I’d get with that response – “Please, please, tell me about Jesus”. Yet there are so many hurting people around the world. When they see that someone is reaching out to them and they can share their struggle in a confidential way, over the Internet, for some reason they come in. We’ve had hundreds of people write in that we’ve been able to pray with, write back to and encourage them to go to their local church. Encourage them to get involved in the Bible. It turned into such a ministry that even though I went to Dallas to be an Associate Pastor for a year, God said, “No Eric, I need you to go and preach to these people live on the Internet.”
(Due to technical difficulties, only the first half was recorded.)