Anxiety, depression, nervousness, hesitation, avoidance, indecision, fear, sadness, and grief are all connected. One will lead to the other, beginning a spiral down that some can never seem to escape.
“It is better for me to die than to live.” “Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb, and expire?.” “He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers.”
Ever been here! I have! To the point that I’ve said I should never have been born. It would have saved a lot of people a lot of trouble, drama, and stress. I felt like I was nothing but a problem to everyone. My chest hurt so much from the pain of my brokenness. Feeling the loss of my worth. Directionless in the desert with no hope of ever finding my way.
I’m still not out of the wilderness! Just in case you are wondering! (Forgive my exclamation points, trying to convey my emotions!)
Changing gears here because I need to explain how I found an oasis on my trek.
How long does it take nature to reclaim a parking lot? A day, a week, a month, a year… not just a tiny crack in the asphalt, the entire lot? How does it begin to reclaim what has been renewed for something else? What does it take to keep nature (the world) at bay, so the lot stays in good working condition and serviceable?
Maintenance. Anything that has been made new and clean has to be maintained. This includes our minds.
We take for granted that it’s (our mind) had a good “wash day” once a week, and that’s all it needs. We are bombarded daily with the world and the corrupt nature of an insane civilization. This is my opinion, especially when I see how things are progressing. Like, “HELLO, do you people not remember the previous 3+ great civilizations once they reached a state of horrid depravity. They got wiped off the face of the Earth.” Seriously Rome is a fantastic example, one we know well, and we know details of how it operated, yet we choose to follow in its footsteps, not looking, good people.
While I am not per se in charge of the government, I have a part to play. Personal Mental Maintenance! That’s right! Luke 11:24-26 tells of an unclean spirit removed from a person who, after roaming around, decides to check back in on his old haunts. Finding the shack(human) looking like a mansion, he grabs 7 of his buddies, the worse of the worse, and they all move in. Once the vacancy was clean up, it should have been occupied.
PMM (Personal Mental Maintenance)
P – it’s about you. It’s not about Nancy or Bob and what they did. You have no control over their actions, lives, or consequences because of how they live. It’s nobody else’s business either. Your right-hand doesn’t need to know what your left hand is doing. It’s between you and Jesus, not you and everyone you talk to at the grocery store.
Mental – your mind is the engine, the computer, calculator, file cabinet, and Google for your life. Your eyes are the lamp of your body. What your eyes see, your mind absorbs, whether good or bad. Your body/mind has five other senses to absorb information around it. Each one is unique in how it perceives and translates what it comes in contact with. These are always on, even in sleep, which means you’re still subconsciously absorbing the world around you even when you aren’t paying attention. So pay attention and purposefully know what you are surrounding yourself with. This includes people, environment, entertainment, leisure activities, everything, be intentional about what your mind is absorbing.
Maintenance – The process of maintaining or preserving someone or something. Much like a parking lot, Christians have been reclaimed from the world, made new for a purpose. Maintenance is required. Upkeep is required. Attention to the minor details and damage wrought by the world trying to reclaim what it has lost. Daily devotions are equal to weed-eating. Fellowship with other Christians is equal to the leaf blower removing the sand. Prayer is equal to a new layer of tar, helping secure the borders and protect the pavement. Reading the Word fills in the potholes and cracks where the world has left its mark.
Anxiety, depression, nervousness, hesitation, avoidance, indecision, fear, sadness, and grief are all connected. One will lead to the other, beginning a spiral down that some can never seem to escape. These are all cracks, crevices, potholes, wear and tear of time that have never seen any repair. Left to deteriorate over time with no fortifications applied as needed, breakdown is imminent.
No one can make this choice for your that’s why it’s personal. No one can change your mind for you; that’s why it’s mental. No one can do it for you; this is your maintenance job. By ignoring the issue, you are not only telling yourself you aren’t worth the effort, but you are also telling the world that you agree you’re worthless. Jesus says I’m worth it. His life, death, and resurrection tell me I’m worth it. His continued love and involvement in my life tell me I’m worth it even when I’m a hard-headed brat. He says the same for you. You have to make the decision to agree with him or not. It’s Personal!
Verses referenced, quoted, or paraphrased above. Luke 11:24-26 Jonah 4:3 Job 3:11 1 Kings 19:4 Matt 6:22-23
Note: Most parking lots are open to the public. They are driven on, walked on, played on, and beneath the notice of those using them. The hard work put into keeping them up is never noticed until it’s left to decay or abandoned altogether. The doormat of our society with an open invitation to travel where we please with ease, as long as upkeep is maintained.
We saw though he had a good start there was still a lot of work to be done in his life. He stepped out in faith simply on God’s word. (A plus)Then when Abram came to this land that God had promised, because he was doing what God had told him to do, he probably didn’t expect to encounter such obstacles as famine or enemies. (A test)What we find with Abraham instead of following God and His plan, he relied on what he learned as a pagan idol worshipper. Do it yourself. (A failure)
Forsaking the path of faith, for whatever reason, always brings its own complications. There is no knowing how low a saint will sink when he is out of touch with God.
Through the Gospels, you will find example after example where Jesus will put people in a position where they must choose. All of us here are going to make a choice today. Many of you including myself God has been intimately pursuing you. Some are becoming better. Letting God strip away the things that camouflage themselves as good and Godly. Some seem to become bitter. Holding on with a tenacious spirit the desire to be right instead of righteous. To be heard instead of Holy. To be brash instead of broken.
Still, we choose which way we want to go.
In our scripture today we find Abraham choosing.
The rerun. Unbelief
(V2) don’t know for sure why he journeyed south but did.
No matter how you cut it up, no matter how you justify it, the issue that arises in Abraham’s life still boils down to unbelief. Jesus had some hard words for the sin of unbelief, using what we spoke about last week.
(Mt 10:14-15) And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (15) Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Unbelief is the foundation that all disobedience is built on.
The problem for us is the same as Abraham. We like what we see as the easy way. We don’t really want to trust God and wait and rely on Him.
We speculate and figure out all the different ways we can afford to carry on without faith. Here at church, at work, in our homes.
How many when it comes to our church finance have already thought; what if we cut this out, don’t have this, and do away with that?
Then how many have done what God has already told us to do. Witness and live in such a way that God brings others in not that we cut things but actually add things?
You know why this is not appealing to some? You think we’re doing too much already because it is cutting into your world time, or making you feel guilty.
Many of us have been greatly impacted by the less is more movement found in our churches today. What I mean is many self-professing believers only want to invest and spend a minimum amount of time doing things with the church. Mainly because it interferes with their real life.
When we fail to believe God it always brings confusion and despair.
(Pr 3:1-2) ¶ My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: (2) For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
I have used this on several occasions. When we believe God, He adds to us length of days. Time to get done what needs to get done, time to enjoy this life.
He also adds to us long life. Time on top of time to enjoy the blessings He gives.
But you have to trust Him and His word to get this.
In Abe’s life, the fear came from a false sense of righteous discernment, which generated unbelief.
Look in verse (V11). Is this not the pot calling the kettle black?
Here was Abraham lying or worse partial truth, and once again bringing his wife down with him and thinking this king and his subjects were acting ungodly.
Religious pride is what kept the leaders in Jesus’s day from seeing and receiving the blessing and it is the same today.
(Pr 3:3-4) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: (4) So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
You can only show mercy if you have received it. You can only share the truth if you know it.
The repeat. God’s plan of action.
Before God delivered fully on the promise of a son, He brought Abraham back to an issue he faced earlier on in his journeys.
The first time this couple went south so did their testimony. It was the lack of trusting God that sent them and the lack of trusting God that got them in trouble with the Pharaoh.
Now God was allowing him to be back in the same situation.
A time to choose.
Seems often like many a believer comes to the point in their life they feel they can coast. They’ve taught, preached, studied, and led. They have sung, served, sacrificed, and suffered.
For the believer, we cannot coast for one minute. We will have all of eternity to rest and relish the victories, but only this short life to work and win them.
There are those here who God has dealt mercifully with you on areas of sin in your life. It might be in the area of pride, selfishness, lust, greed, etc. but you are still being hounded by the same ole thing.
A time to choose.
God has so much more in store for you. Not that He hasn’t done and is doing far more than you deserve but like as was recorded of Jesus’ hometown folks. (Mt 13:58) And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Oswald Chambers said “ if we really believed that God meant what He said, just imagine what we would be like! Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He will be?
Are you here with some unfinished business?
Many of us have been raised or raised our own young’uns with the gathering of the body, the church is important unless it conflicts with what I want to do mentality.
When it comes to this time of year it seems we most often overshoot the objective.
Many of us will spend more money than we have attempting to fill the void we leave in others’ lives. We have taught our children this is the time of year we break the bank. We make sure people know what we have bought our kids, spouse, whoever, because it is important that they/ we have the best.
One of my favorite Christmas stories comes from the secular world. As with anything Holy. The world makes an effort to insert its thoughts on how it could be, should be.
The Little Drummer boy has always been dear to my heart. Though it is wrapped up in imagination the climax of the story is a poor little drummer boy gives the best of what he has, to offer to the child king. Who is none other than JESUS.
Like so much that has been passed down through the ages, we have gotten so far from the true meaning of best.
God in His tender loving grace and mercy has taught us what it is to give the best. Here in this well-known scripture we see what it looks like.
(Genesis 1:1) In the beginning God… (Hebrews 1:1) God, who at sundry…
Nothing to support His existence, nothing afterward to explain where, how or what God is, just God!
The only explanation God gives for Himself is in His conversation with Moses.
Ex 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM:
Here Jesus is making a definitive statement. God!
Why? Because it is settled. Jesus knows God. He is God, He came from God and is going back to God.
The one thing we must have settled in our heart of hearts is that there is a God who created us for His design and interacts with His creation.
He has purposely brought you into this world. He has specific plans for you. He actively engages you through various means.
He loves you and wants you to love Him back. Not just like, not just honor but genuinely love Him which will be evident in how you live.
Listen to the words of our Lord Jesus:
Anything less is a lie.
If God just loved the world it would be enough, but this little word so is not put there as a filler. It carries significant meaning.
It is like saying God loved to such an amazing, over the top, indescribably, intense, degree.
Jesus came to this sin sick world so God’s creation would know how much He loved them.
He sent His best.
Paul a sold out servant of the Most High desired for believers to understand the love of God
So it would compel them to know and experience Him.
What is the breadth (width), length, depth, height of this SO!
Understand it is foolishness to even say we can measure the unfathomable love of God.
Here is an attempt to try and comprehend the very least of its magnitude by one who has experienced it.
The width. How wide is God’s love?
We used to sing a little song, He’s got the whole world in his hands…
God’s arms encompasses the whole world that all are included. There are none beyond His grasp. There are not any that escapes His eye.
Though its broad in reaching it is fine in application. It is personal. When it says He loved the world it means He loves each one in it.
You’re here today, you have been selfish, mean spirited, proud, hateful, deceiving, consumed with your life and no time for others. God loves you. Waiting for you to repent to turn away from what is killing, destroying you and come to Him to receive life, fulfillment.
Length. How long is the love of God?
Length by demonstration.
True test of love. To what length will it go?
What length did God go? How much does he love you personally?
(Romans 5:6-8) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were yet sinners. While we were still enemies with God. He initiated. He pursued. He demonstrated His eternal love towards us.
For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
The begotten one, which is His title. The only one.
The best He had. Something so precious, so endearing He gave for you.
He allowed Him to taste the pains of death to suffer at the hands of His own creation.
To feel the debt of sin. And He did it for you.
God gave. Something He had something of His own.
Man had no claim on it. It was a free and unmerited gift.
Depth. What is the depth that God’s love will go?
To the depths of hell.
We are hell doomed, hell deserving sinners.
We are not on trial waiting our sentence.
Judgement has already been passed.
Those that refuse to believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God, are guilty of the grossest insult to the Divine majesty.
In neglecting, slighting, and despising the salvation which the infinite mercy of God had provided for them.
Therefore will receive just compensation for their choice.
An eternity absent from anything, lovely, peaceful, beautiful, Godly. Suffering torments of fire, thirst, darkness that you can feel.
(Joh 3:17-18) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned:
God’s love is saying He already suffered this hell for you. Trust Him.
Height. Everlasting life.
The height in infinite. I’m going to heaven. A place we can only imagine. There is nothing we have seen are heard can compare to the glory we get to share.
The biblical writers did their best to describe what was revealed but our words fall so short.
You know why I am going to heaven? Because I preach? Because I said a prayer? I was baptized? I was good part of the time?
None of this would matter. I have gained entrance to heaven because God saved me. God pursued, God called, God saved.
God gave His best.
I gave nothing. I have nothing to offer. He gave everything.
Heaven is icing on the cake.
Everlasting life. Jesus is my life.
Giving you children, grandchildren, your loved ones a special gift.
And like a child they would rather play with the box.
In this scripture Jesus reveals the gift He has for us.
The very best.
It doesn’t take batteries, it never wears out.
Its value only increases.
It cannot be lost, stolen, or threw away.
And it comes with a guarantee!
Sadly, many would rather play with the box
I reckon the most heart breaking thing for God is to have to watch as day in day out His creation rejects his Best.
This supreme, sacrificial love.
And chose to play with the box.
Squander their life here and spend eternity apart from Him.
I suppose the second most heartbreaking thing is to watch His people those who call Him Lord and have surrendered their life to him.
Fail to experience all He has instore for them. To live life.
And chose to play with the box, simply because not willing to invest and grow in their relationship with Him.
God loves you and wants you to love Him back. Not just like, not just honor but genuinely love Him which will be evident in how you live.
The world needs to see His best. He has chosen you to reveal it in.
To your children, grandchildren, friends, loved ones. This crazy, confused, lost world.
Today you can turn on any media device and in a matter of a few minutes you’re either mad or disheartened. With all the political trash. All the ethnic group after ethnic group rising up against the other. A pandemic and all that comes with it.
Then add into that our daily stresses. Married life, children, and work, even church. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming and we begin to lose sight of the truth.
Remember last week I spoke of buying in? This is what happens, we get trapped into everyone’s passionate plea for protection and provision and buy into these mirages of purpose. A clearer way of saying it is: WE EXCHANGE THE TRUTH FOR A LIE.
Many are looking for ways to cope with all of it. Some offer up a “successful gospel”. Meaning, God meant for you to be prosperous. Under the cynical eye of the baby boomers. Who, by the way, have developed a disdain for such.
Others offer a serious but yet unrealistic gospel of no pain, no problems, no personal anguish. A Disney approach to life.
We need to get back to offering the real gospel. One that came from the God of Joseph, Daniel, Elijah, one that carried the disciples and the early church. One that gives us boldness in the times we live in, a Gospel that does not always deliver you out of or remove you from crisis but supports you through them.
Peter is writing to some folks who understand crisis and he gives some solid advice.
Who He is writing?
History shares with us during this time period that persecution had already begun under the terrible hand of Nero.
Nero blamed the Christians for setting fire to Rome. Several were arrested and under torture quickly gave up many more. As these were tried and found guilty Nero devised some of the most heinous means of executing judgement. From being torn apart by dogs as they were draped in animal skins to being lit on fire to illuminate his garden at night as they partied. Any bad thing, floods, droughts, earthquakes, sickness, bad hair, was blamed on the Christians and more would be rounded up and put through this nightmare.
So as he is writing this, he understands those who are receiving this letter are facing some of the worst persecutions ever.
The first few verses are reminding them of whose they are and who they are. Then we get to the instruction.
It is important to know who you are and who you belong to.
All of us belong to one or the other.
Truth is truth rather you agree or believe it or not.
We either belong to God to be used for good and great or to the devil to be used for evil and deception.
There is no in-between.
One of many verses, Paul shares with the church of Ephesus. Eph 2:2-5, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
Knowing whose you are is the only way you know who you are!
It is marked by what he declares Jesus’ resurrection brings. A living hope.
Peter insists that we can live in hope if we understand and believe the truth concerning the risen Christ.
Some might say I believe but have trouble. Listen to this.
Most of us relate to Peter because he was pretty open with his problems. Maybe we should say his problems were pretty obvious.
Peter loved the Lord and all his hope was pinned on Jesus being the messiah that would deliver them from Roman rule.
Then one day it happened. The plan was set in motion. A late night raid, trumped up charges, a mock trial, the beating, the cross, the crown of thorns.
Everything he believed in, everything he hoped for was taken down off the cross wrapped up in burial clothes and laid in a dark, cold tomb. Gone!
Peter understood what it was to have all hope lost. The gospels paint a picture of a man who was at a loss, dumbfounded, in shock.
Then he got news. He’s alive. Peter being raised in Missouri, of course said show me. And He did.
When Peter saw Jesus alive it overwhelmed him.
The one whom he saw die, who laid dead three days then exploded from the grave by His own power conquering man’s greatest fear and enemy, death.
Peter here says I have got something to tell you about hope.
His name is Jesus. He did what no one ever did. He is our Living Hope.
Then as if that isn’t enough He shares with us how sure our hope is.(V4)
Our hope in Jesus cannot be tarnished.
Cannot be corrupted. Cannot be deceived or misled.
It cannot be contaminated. It is pure, undefiled.
Cannot be diminished. Perpetual.
The energizer bunny has nothing on our Hope that is in Jesus of Nazareth.
Why because it rests in the powers of heaven not in the influences of man.
It is reserved, held fast for you!
If you choose to place your hope on the temporal it will become corrupted by the desires of man.
If you choose to trust the things of this world it will become polluted with the fleeting times you live.
If you choose to pin your hopes here you will watch them slowly dwindle.
The thing most want out of life is security.
But we place our confidence in unsecure ways.
We continually buy into the lie of this world.
God is not asking us to be ignorant, naïve.
On the contrary He tells us: Mt 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
He is asking for confidence, trust, buy in to His Truth, which is the only Truth.”
The word kept, here carries with it an idea of being guarded by a garrison.
Nothing or no one can ever steal, destroy or mar it in any way.
As Peter shares in the next few verses though we suffer for a time we can have a blessed hope to secure and support us.
It doesn’t matter what we are facing…
Jesus walks through it with us caring for us, loving us, using us so others can find this Blessed Hope.
Do you really know Him? Trust Him? You can.
I know you have faced some difficult days. We can live in confidence if we place all our trust, buy in. Dive in and follow Him.
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them, go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on hisface at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Right next to one another but couldn’t stand each other – hmmmm
Social Distancing (way worse than what we have just been through)
Crying Out to Jesus
When was the last time you cried out to Jesus?
Rituals vs Worship
All ten were willing to do a religious ceremony; that is go to the priest. Only one was filled with true praise and thanksgiving. “External religious exercises are easy enough, and common enough; but the internal matter, the drawing out of the heart in thankful love, how scarce a thing it is! Nine obey ritual where only one praises the Lord.” (Spurgeon)
This man alone out of the ten who were miraculously healed received the second miracle of salvation from sin. His trust, gratitude, humility, commitment, love, praise, and worship mark his faith in Jesus as the faith that saves. – MacArthur
The Reverend Billy Graham told a story about a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. He wanted to mail a letter first so he asked a young boy where the post office was. After the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven.” “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said. “You don’t even know your way to the post office.”
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
God loves each of us like there was only one of us!
One little lost lamb!
Lost and Found!
God’s Relentless Love!
I once was lost but now I am found!
Search and Rescue!
Joy, Joy, unspeakable Joy!
As I was sitting here reading the scripture, all the above sermon titles, sayings, song lyrics, came into my mind.
God loves each of us like there was only one of us! That is so hard for me to fathom. Yet I know it is true. I am so thankful that “He loves us, O how He loves us”! There is no way to describe this love. We love our spouse, we love our children, we love our grandchildren, we love our family (most of them – some of them we have a hard time liking but we do love them!). But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). (this is one of our VBS verses this year – look on our facebook page, there is a song to help you memorize it).
OneLittleLostLamb! In reading the scripture it says that the Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep and goes to look for the one little lost lamb. I remember studying the 23rd psalm years ago. In that study it painted a picture of a lamb that was constantly wandering away (like us) from the flock and the Shepherd would have to go out looking for him. The story goes, that the Shepherd finally took the little lamb in his arms and as gently (if it is possible to do this gently) as he could, broke his leg. He then carefully wrapped the leg. He then would carry the lamb until he was able to walk again on his own. The little lamb would not be wandering away anytime soon and hopefully learned his lesson. TheLordismyShepherd, Ishallnotwant. Hemakethmetoliedowningreenpastures. Sometimes the Lord has to “break our leg” (so to speak) so that we will stop wandering away from Him. Hmmm, this “social distancing” and “stay at home” stuff could be his way of reminding us we need to lie down in green pastures, safe in His Arms for awhile. Now I’m not saying that the Lord caused this stuff, but I know he can use it to bring back some of the “little lost lambs” to Him. Bro. Charlie shared a post on facebook that said “So, Corona has us homeschooling, praying, spending time with the family, praying for others, and being sober minded. Sounds like God is in control. This isn’t a plague, it is an awakening.”
Here I am, here I am! I’m the one the Shepherd left the fold and found. There were ninety and nine, but He left the fold to find, One little lost lamb, and here I am.
Lost and Found! Ever lose something. You search “high and low”, in “every nook and cranny”, “inside and out”, “upstairs and downstairs” (for those of you who have upstairs!), “everywhere I know to look”. And then you find it! Hallelujah! You put it on facebook, you do your happy dance or whatever you do when you are excited about something. Our scripture says “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” and “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over the ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance”.
During Monday night prayer last week, “one little lost lamb” was found. Robbie Walker is now in the fold. The angels were rejoicing. Were you? I’m afraid we just casually say “Praise the Lord”, but we should be rejoicing! Doing our happy dance! Another soul has been saved! (this was an ouch for me). God really hammered me as I was typing this.
God’s relentless love!
Relentless. : showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace : unrelenting
So thankful for this. Where would we be without it?
I once was lost but now I’m found! I hope this describes you. We need to be vigilant in our prayers in this crazy time that we are living in. There is so much at stake. We need to take every opportunity to make sure our family and friends know what it is to be found! If this doesn’t describe you, then please do something about it before it is too late. (I am available to talk and pray with you – just call).
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see!
Just as the Shepherd in our scripture “goes after” the one which is lost, God pursues us. Ever feel like every sermon the preacher preaches is directed solely at you? You think, how did he know that? Has he been following me around? No, he hasn’t but God has! He is on a SearchandRescue mission. As the song goes, “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, Mountain You won’t climb up, Coming after me. There’s no wall You won’t kick down, Lie You won’t tear down, Coming after me.”
Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy!
Joy, joy, unspeakable joy, Hope like never before, You came for us, You are our freedom.
Our scripture talks about the Joy in heaven and it also talks about the rejoicing of the Shepherd when he found the one lost sheep and the woman saying “rejoice with me”.
Even in these trying times, we can have the Joy of the Lord.
Nehemiah 8:10 The Joy of the Lord is our Strength
Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Joy is a deep and enduring state of our soul that no circumstance, event, or human can steal away from us. It’s delighting in God and choosing to rejoice in all things. Because our circumstances don’t rule us, our mood swings are nonexistent. This doesn’t mean we are always in a “good mood” but we can remain in an unexplainable place of contentment. Joyful people don’t allow misery, sorrow, sadness, or despair to rule their thoughts or actions. (from Fruit of the Spirit devotional).
MacArthur says this….God’s joy is the source of believers joy; it is a component of the kingdom of God dispensed by the Holy Spirit to the redeemed. While Christians are blessed with a rich measure of joy in this life, the full joy of eternal perfection awaits them in heaven when as faithful slaves they “enter into the joy of their master”. Believers’ highest joy in this life does not come from the trivial, insignificant, temporal things of this world, but in the spiritual life and fellowship of lost sinners found, restored, and united in Christ’s true church. Believers’ joy, as God’s joy, is the result of the greatness and glory of God’s saving work.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
(I can hear Hannah Poole singing this…such a beautiful voice and such a beautiful song – miss them!)
This song really says it!
Ok. So, back to the scripture.
In today’s scripture Jesus was accused of receiving sinners and eating with them. The rest of Chapter 15 is Jesus’ response to this accusation. The Pharisees and Scribes just didn’t get the fact that God loves EVERYONE and wants EVERYONE to be saved. I’m sure the parables about a Shepherd (on the lower end of society) and a Women (Oh my goodness, not a woman!) were not what they were wanting to hear.
MacArthur says: The Scribes and Pharisees did not find joy in Jesus’ mission of saving sinners. They claimed to know God, but in truth were ignorant of the heart of God toward the lost. They were just another generation like those whom Isaiah described as hypocrites who “draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me.” (Isa. 29:13).
“Joy” in seeing sinners being saved.
Are we really “joyful” when a sinner comes to Jesus? Oh sure, we say the proper things but are we really “joyful” or are we thinking in our hearts something different? “I hope he’s serious”…”I hope this lasts”…”I hope she understands what she is doing”….Does our hearts feel differently depending on who it is? OUCH! I am more like the Scribes and Pharisees than I want to admit. Please forgive me Lord! Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O, Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Vs 7 says I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth…
Vs 10 says Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We all are a “WHOSOEVER” no matter WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY. Jesus makes the difference!
Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy!
Let’s share the Joy.
Remember, God loves each of us like there was only one of us! We were once one little lost lamb, lost and then found because of God’s Relentless Love. God pursued me, sent out a search and rescue, and now I can have Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!
P.S. As I am writing this, it is more than a week until you will read it, in fact, it will be Easter Morning. I know that this will be a different Easter than usual. No “breakfast on the ground” at church after the Sunrise Service (which will be a “drive in”). No Easter Play at church on Sunday morning (I’m hoping this will still happen at a later date – who says you can’t have an Easter Play any Sunday of the year? Every Sunday should be Easter! No gathering with family to eat, visit and hunt eggs. Of course, I’m sure parents will get creative with their egg hunting this year. But maybe, just maybe, this will be a special Easter to remember. The year that we really took the time to discover what Easter really means. (No excuses this year, you can’t go anywhere). My prayer for you this Easter morning is that you will read God’s Word, Meditate on it, Pray, and discover the Victorious Story of Jesus and how He died for each one of us like we were the only one. But, the Story doesn’t end there. Up From the Grave he AROSE! Hallelujah, Christ AROSE!
As we are still “social distancing”….Good Morning (or whenever you are reading this). Sure hope this stuff ends soon. I would much rather be in our classroom with all of you. I feel we are doing the right thing by not meeting, but I do miss the interaction, discussion, and laughter with you. I really appreciate your input so much more now! As I was telling Bro. Charlie, I have a NEW appreciation for him putting his notes on line for us each week! Thank you Bro. Charlie and those who help him with this!
On with the lesson…
So, Jesus leaves the Pharisee’s house and continues on his way to Jerusalem. Scripture says great multitudes were with him.
Luke 14: 25-35
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
There is more to following Jesus than just accepting an invitation. Discipleship costs. It is not for “sissies” as we have heard many times.
Verse 25-26 says as he was walking along with the multitudes following him, all of a sudden he stops, and turns to them and says: If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Wow, that would be enough right there to make you say, no thanks Jesus, I love you but…..
If you have been involved with the “Not A Fan” lifegroup that Robert has been teaching on Sunday nights, you already know quite a bit about what it takes to truly be a follower and not a fan. Really enjoying this class, hope we can get back to it soon even though it has been an “ouch” book.
Hate is a pretty strong word. Dictionary says: feelintenseorpassionatedislikefor (someone). Hard to imagine that Jesus wants us to dislike our family. Scripture says we are to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12), husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25), wives are to love their husbands (Titus 2:4) and parents love their children (Titus 2:4). John 13:34-35 says: A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (vs 35 is one of Mrs. Judy Ann’s favorite verses).
So, how do you hate your family and love them at the same time?
John MacArthur’s commentary gives this explanation…Anyone who comes to Jesus for salvation must prefer God over his family…To hate one’s family is to prefer God over them by disregarding what they desire if that conflicts with what God requires; it is to love God more and them less.
David Guzik says: Jesus used the word hate to show how great the difference must be between our allegiance to Jesus and our allegiance to everyone and everything else.
The greatest danger of idolatry comes not from what is bad, but from what is good – such as love in family relationships. The greatest threat to the best often comes from second best.
Wow, did you read that last line from David Guzik…The greatest threat to the best often comes from the second best.
We have to also take into consideration what it meant to the crowds that Jesus was literally talking to. Following Jesus (being his disciple) would more than likely mean that their family would disown them! So, Jesus was trying to tell them, hey, this is not an easy road that you will be taking. Consider the cost. (more on this later).
And then, Jesus says…andhisownlifealso. What does he mean, hate your own life also? Die, flesh, Die (to quote Lynette). We have to daily die to our flesh and allow Jesus to have full control. I don’t think we do a very good job of this (or is it just me?) We must allow Christ to be first in our life, not the top priority on our list of top 10 priorities, He should be the only priority. Once again, Jesus is making sure that the people know that this is not going to be a bed of roses, no peaches and cream, no cherry on top, no cream in their twinkie (Bro. Charlie), not an easy road. Remember a few weeks ago we talked about the narrow road. Unfortunately, at this point, a lot of the multitude probably said, hey, this is not what we signed up for, see ya.
MacArthur says…The call to salvation is a call to self-denial; it marks the end of sinners being the reigning authorities in their lives and calls for them instead to submit as slaves to Jesus’ authority as Lord, King, and Master. That selflessness extends to the point of death, as Jesus’ next statement, WhoeverdoesnotcarryhisowncrossandcomeafterMecannotbeMydisciple, makes clear. The heavenly treasure is so valuable (Matt 13:44) the pearl of salvation so precious (vs 46), that true disciples are willing to give up their lives, if God so wills, to gain eternal life. Jesus calls for complete self-abandonment.
David Guzik says…. Bear his cross and come after Me: Here Jesus said to the great multitudes something very similar to what He said privately to all His disciples in Luke 9:23 – that being a follower of Jesus is something like bearing a cross.
This probably horrified His listeners. As Jesus spoke these words, everybody knew what He meant. In the Roman world, before a man died on a cross, he had to carry his cross (or at least the horizontal beam of the cross) to the place of execution. When the Romans crucified a criminal, they didn’t just hang them on a cross. They first hung a cross on him. Carrying a cross always led to death on a cross. No one carried a cross for fun. The first hearers of Jesus didn’t need an explanation of the cross; they knew it was an unrelenting instrument of torture, death, and humiliation. If someone took up his cross, he never came back. It was a one-way journey.
Sure hope you were able to watch/listen to Bro. Charlie’s message this past Sunday morning. His visual of carrying a cross (during the invitation) really brought it home. I would encourage you to go back and watch (or rewatch) at least that portion of the sermon. “In order to live, we must die” – daily.
Jesus goes on to give a couple of examples of counting the cost – Building and Battles. They both cost more than you ever imagined. Ever start a building project and your cost exceeds much more than you had originally planned (usually the case!!). Battles always costs more than planned (lives included).
Jesus was making sure the disciples and multitude of people with him, knew what they were getting into and were prepared to go all the way. No going half-way and then quitting. No saying….I didn’t know it involved this! I’ll have to rethink this. We must carefully consider the commitment level that it takes to follow Jesus. Too many people don’t mind signing their name to a commitment card as long as they don’t really have to be committed! We are so good at starting something and not finishing it… we are like those represented by the rocky and thorny soils in the parable of the sower (Matt 13:20-22).
Chuck Smith says…Now, you count the cost. Unless you are willing to forsake everything you can’t be My disciple. Unless you are willing to take up your cross, you can’t be My disciple. Unless you love Me supremely, you cannot be My disciple. The terms of discipleship are harsh. They are severe. And it is wrong when people tell you just accept Jesus and you are not going to have any more problems. Listen, many times when you accept Jesus your problems are just beginning. It is not easy. It is not going to be easy. The Lord doesn’t say it is going to be easy. He said it is going to be tough and you better sit down first and count the cost. You better not get started in it if you can’t finish it, or are not willing to finish it. You need to make an accounting here and determine whether or not you are really willing to pay the price to go all the way through, because unless you are willing to forsake everything, really, you can’t be My disciple. These are heavy, hard words.
John Stott writes……The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers – the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity’. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.
Verse 33 says, Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Forsake all that he has – Greek phrase had the idea “to say goodbye to”.
So, does this mean I have to sell everything I have and live in poverty if I am to be a disciple of Jesus. Probably not, but who knows. Your willingness to do so says it all. It says who your priority is. As Bro. Charlie has said many times, your checking account says a lot about you. Now, don’t go saying that I said you have to sell everything in order to be a disciple. That is certainly not the case, but you better be willing to if Jesus were to ask you to. You can’t take it with you. All that we have is His anyway. We are stewards of everything and owners of nothing (MacArthur). If your money, or “things” are more important to you than being a follower of Jesus, then, Houston, we have a problem. You may be a fan instead of a follower.
The lesson is plain. Jesus does not want followers who rush into discipleship without thinking of what is involved. And He is clear about the price. The man who comes to Him must renounce all that he has…These words condemn all half-heartedness. Jesus is not of course, discouraging discipleship. He is warning against an ill-considered, faint-hearted attachment in order that men may know the real thing. He wants men to count the cost and reckon all lost for His sake so that they can enter the exhilaration of full-blooded discipleship. (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries).
I think that when we are witnessing to people, so many times we make the mistake of not warning them of the costs of discipleship. Salvation is free. But it costs to be a follower. We are so anxious to get them to commit that we mistakenly mislead them into thinking that their life would be so much easier with Jesus in it. (it actually is easier with Jesus, just not the way they thought it would be). And then when they do accept Him, immediately they begin to be tested and so many times, they say, no one told me this would happen. And off they go – off into the wild blue yonder or wherever it is that people disappear to when things get a little rough. Commitment, it hurts to see such a lack of this vital component of Discipleship. I can’t imagine how it feels to the LORD.
Salt is only useful when it has the nature of salt. A Christian is only useful when he or she has the nature of Christ. (David Guzik).
Most people when you ask them what they are thankful for they will say, “I am thankful for my family!” Little children will name off a list of toys and toss mommy and daddy in there. Most Christians will start off with being thankful for the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the list goes on from there.
November will be here before we know it and Facebook will be loaded with the “what I am thankful for” ever day for a month, from who knows how many people. Almost everyone one who does this names the wonderful blessings in their lives, the people they love and who love them back, the vacation they got to take this year or the one coming up. You get the gist. It’s always positive stuff. No one ever says I’m thankful because my husband had to go to the hospital this year, or my sister got shot this year, or that I have a humongous wart on the bottom of my foot that makes me limp. Nope, not gonna hear that from people. At least not social media people.
I refer back to Sunday School a lot these days. This is where it really starts! The building blocks, or Legos of a Christians understanding of the Bible. But you can’t just go to Sunday School and expect to gain expert knowledge of Scripture. You have to do some studying of you own, and pray for understanding. Lately though in Sunday School we have been in Luke, we have made it to Chapter 9. In a week or so we’ll get to Chapter 10. Jesus is going to start his journey to Jerusalem. So I decided to stop, go back and do a recap.
Listening this morning about when Jesus called the twelve, all the names were read, the last of course being “Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.” (Luke 6:16) Then my brain, lovely creature that it is, had multiple thoughts at one time. Which I am sharing with you now.
Jesus chose Judas, I believe knowing what he would do. Jesus knew why He(Jesus) was here, He came here for a purpose. He knew who Judas was in his(Judas’) heart, all the time. He still chose him to be apart of his ministry, to be in charge of the money, to be close by his side.
Yet when we as Christians read about Judas we sit back and think how could he, why did he? If we were that close we might have done what Peter did but we would never have done what Judas did!! We think so low of Judas, not realize where we would be with out his part in all of this.
I’m sure if he had not done what he had done someone else would, but that is speculation and we aren’t going there. My point in all of this is, yes I am truly thankful for My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and everything he has done for me, and continues to do for me, on a daily basis, but have I ever thought to be thankful for Judas.
I spoke earlier about a husband in the hospital, a sister being shot and a wart on a foot. These are all bad things that have happened to myself or someone I know. I have watch though as Jesus has taken the messes we have gotten ourselves into picked us up, brushed us off and not only were we and our family better off after the fact but our relationships are growing in a better direction.
It is hard to see the big picture when we can only see straight ahead. Good thing Jesus is in heaven and can see the whole thing. It is awesome for us to be thankful for the things in our lives. But when it all starts hitting the fan and splattering on the walls, remember that the clean up crew is going to be thankful, because that’s job security for them. When the garbage is piled up and you’ve taken it out, the trash pick up guys are thankful as well.
Our perspective on things and how we think about them needs to change I believe. November is approaching fast, so when those thankful list start popping up take time to truly be thankful for the things that made a difference in you life this year, not just the things that made you happy. Be thankful for the those people that you might not like and who test your patience on a daily basis, because they have made you a better person.
Thank you for reading, may His Son shine on you and yours.
I’ve always found it hard to talk about Jesus with my family, or anything to do with my faith really. I suppose it’s not that I’m embarrassed about Jesus himself but that I don’t want to say the wrong thing to my family that would make them not like Jesus. Like that’s possible.
I can’t think for a second that I’m the first person to ever have these fears. In fact, in Mark 6:4 we find Jesus dealing with this exact thing, his family and their preconceived ideas of him. He had gone home to preach the message. These people, knowing who he was and where he had come from, heard the message but didn’t believe. They knew this kid, how could he know any of this stuff or have any authority to teach this.
Similar to Jesus’ home town, we too, get blind to the truth before us. We know our bible, we know what it says, we go to church and all the functions involved with it. Our ears become dull after a time, and we become complacent, not really living the word just going through the motions. So when the Word is spoken new to us, in a different light, we don’t always accept it. I’m not saying that we just up and take everyone at their word who is preaching Jesus, always read your Bible and know what is says. I’m saying that we are created for relationships, with Jesus and the family he has given us. Not just the one we were born into but the church family we are received into as Born Again Christians. We are to gather with our families and worship.
We have church every Sunday and Wednesday. We have classes and different subjects that we study, just for the purpose of understanding God’s word and really getting to know him better. I think though, sometimes we get lost in the trivial matters and the particulars, we forget that we aren’t meant to understand everything God does. Jesus’ hometown missed the message, the truth, the way, the light, all because they already knew who he was. The whole Bible is about Jesus, from cover to cover! Every study we do should lead us back to HIM! It’s ok to have a discussion on a matter of words and meanings of a particular passage, but in the end, people knowing the love of Jesus and his saving grace, his mercy, that’s what matters.
I’ve heard recently that some are tired and burnt out and weary. What if Jesus would have been too tired and burnt out to preach to 5000 and then feed them, or to weary to carry a cross to Calvary, what if he just didn’t have the patience to deal with other people. You know he didn’t at times, he would often go and pray by himself in quiet, seeking his father for renewing of his spirit. My main photo for this post is of a beautiful woman who touched many lives with her kindness, love and her occasional abrupt approach to matters. Similar to Jesus she didn’t beat around the bush she got right to the point. She also did it with love. She managed more than once to put me in my place while letting me know I was loved. Knowing that, I got a lot to learn. She never quit though, she was always going. If there was something going on to tell people about Jesus, this lady was first in line to sign up to help. What if she had gotten burnt our before Jesus called her home? How many of us would have missed out on, or not be as far along in our relationship with Jesus, if it wasn’t for her courage and faith to keep going?
It’s not easy dealing with a world that’s not our home or the people in it honestly. So when you get to the lowest of low just call home. The problem with that, don’t wait till you’re that far down, that you can’t even get to your knees.
I started off talking about sharing Jesus with family because it’s something that I struggle with. There are some things Jesus tells us to do in the Bible where our friends and family are concerned that are not always the easiest. My point in all this, if you think no one has ever dealt with what you are dealing with and there isn’t anyone who can help you, you are dead wrong. You are short changing yourself, selling yourself short and not allowing God’s people to work in your life.
We as humans, as Christians are made for relationships, the key to all that is making and developing the right ones. Starting with Jesus!
You need a ride. Whether across town, across the parking lot or you’re just going to lunch with your friends. Better yet it’s your car, you’re doing the driving, you’re the one giving the lift, either way the front passenger side floorboard is full of garbage. We’re talking half way up to your knees. From junk mail, soda cans, leftover fast food, you even have a grocery bag full of garbage where you attempted to clean the car out, and then didn’t finish. There’s a few candy wrappers thrown in there, you might even find your good pen down there. If you could think of the one thing you’ve been looking for all week long that you can’t find, it’s probably in that front floorboard.
But you haven’t had time to clean it out, between the morning rush, the afternoon rush, the weekend hurry, the lunch busy, the Sunday sleep, and in between clocking in and out at work, the front floorboard of your truck just hasn’t been at the top of your to-do list.
Think about all that garbage, like sin, each little piece represents a sin in your life and as it builds up and built up, we leave it there and we don’t do anything about it. When people climb into our space and into the area of our lives, they have to climb over that sin to get to the real us. You wouldn’t think that they have to deal with that but they do. Because you see if we’re the ones driving our life, then they’re the ones that are riding, catching all the junk we throw over there. They’re the ones that are having to shove their feet knee deep into our sin just to have something to do with us, knee deep into our mess because they love us, and if the people that love us are willing to do that, shouldn’t we be willing to deal with our sin.
First off you got to admit that you got a floorboard full of junk. You need to admit that you got problems. Everyone has problems. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. Everybody has garbage in the truck, unless it’s just been detailed, and even then you got that little paper thing in the driver side covering the mat, and that’s automatically garbage. So it doesn’t matter how clean you think your truck is you’re always going to have garbage.
But every time you get out of your truck, take a little bit of that garbage as you go. Throw it away. Ask for forgiveness, that’s all you have to do and your sins are washed away. They are as far as the East is from the West, from you. Will we have more garbage? Yeah, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay there, that doesn’t mean your loved ones and your friends and your children and your spouse have to trip over it.
Romans 3:24 goes on to say, we are justified freely by grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. There are some key words there. The first is free or freely if you want to get technical. The other word there is Grace, which if your floorboard looks like mine right now I need a lot of. Then Redemption, we all need to be redeemed, and the only way we can be redeemed is through Jesus Christ.
You can handle your floorboard, hand your heart over to Jesus.