Gospel Truth

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath: Luke 13:10-17

10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!

14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

17 This shamed His enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

INTRODUCTION

Again, we have a story in Luke’s gospel that is not in the other three and it is a wonderful story about a woman who could not look up. This story is filled with refreshing, wonderful truths that inspire and motivate.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS: JESUS HAS COMPASSION ON THE HURTING.”

  1. Jesus saw her…


    10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.


     Sometimes we feel conspicuous and at other times we feel invisible and alone. Regardless to how we feel, Jesus sees us. He not only sees us, He sees our pain, our disappointment, even our shame and failure. This woman was sitting in a congregation much like you tonight and yet amidst this crowd of people, Jesus saw her. When Israel was in bondage in Egypt…God saw their affliction. When Hagar ran away from Sarah, the Angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness and she said, I will call God El Roi, the God who sees. He is a God who sees and He sees your pain today. Whatever you are feeling, He sees it!

  2. Jesus called her…


    12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!”


    Jesus not only saw her, saw her pain, distress and suffering but HE CALLED HER. It is very important for Jesus to call. There is a group that teaches limited atonement. They say that Jesus died only for the elect, the chosen few. He does not call everyone and He may not call you. Well the scripture makes it clear that He called all the Israelites but some did not hear because they were not listening. Francis Crosby wrote on poem based on Hebrews 4:7…


    1. Jesus is calling the weary to rest—
      and He is calling today,
      Bring Him your burden and you shall be blest;
      He will not turn you away.
    2. Jesus is waiting, oh, come to Him now—
      Waiting today, waiting today,
      Come with your sins, at His feet lowly bow;
      Come, and no longer delay.
    3. Jesus is pleading, oh, listen to His voice:
      Hear Him today, hear Him today,
      They who believe on His name shall rejoice;
      Quickly arise and away. {I guarantee you the reforms don’t sing this hymn, actually, there are that many that they can sing}


  3. Jesus touched her….


    13 Then Jesus touched her and instantly she could stand straight.


It is one thing to see a person is need but to touch them is something else. Our willingness to touch those who are hurting is an indication that we are not afraid to get involved, touching is a show of affection. You don’t touch people who you despise, do you? You don’t, you avoid them as if they had the plague. As a matter of fact, some folks in our society are known as untouchables. They had them is Jesus day. The lepors were untouchable, yet Jesus touched them. He is not afraid of your infirmity. That is great news! Wonderful news!


II. JESUS HAS THE POWER TO STRAIGHTEN US OUT

13 Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!


This message is filled with Gospel Truth. Sin had messed this woman up, big time. Luke said she was “crippled by an evil spirit.” It is just a way of saying, SIN HAD MESSED HER UP. Sin twisted her, broke her down and that is what sin has done to me. This woman and I have a lot in common. Sin has messed me up. It has mangled and twisted me. I battle the sin that is rooted in my flesh every day and it is a battle that I am weary of fighting. Inside me there is a greedy little fellow and a lustful one at that: my twisted fleshly nature is constantly trying to pull me down but Jesus is fixing me. When He comes, He is going to touch me and straighten me out. I know there are those who pretend to be straight now: the pretend to be fixed but I’m not fixed. Jesus is in the process but He has not completed the project but this story gives me hope. There are many things about myself that I don’t like and there are things that you don’t like. The truth is: I can’t fix myself and you can’t fix me either. Ask my wife how much progress she is making in straightening me out.

I ran into one of these wise guys the other day who ask me, “Have you got those folks at Danville straightened out.” I remember his question because it has been asked before but I don’t remember my answer. What I normally say is “No, I don’t have them straightened out but I can’t straighten myself out.” There are a lot of things I can’t do.

  • I can’t forgive sins, can you?
  • I can’t heal the sick or raise the dead, can you?
  • I can’t make it rain, can you?

Neither can I straighten myself out but Jesus can and that is GOOD NEWS!

III. JESUS LOVES US MORE THAN RELIGIOUS DAYS, ANIMALS OR PROFIT

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving animals and generally speaking, people who mistreat animals have a problem. The Jews who Jesus was addressing were not animal lover in the sense that you are; they were money lovers and they took care of their animals because it would be a huge lost financially for one of them to die. Jesus was simply pointing out that they showed more compassion on animals than they did people.

This is what is so sad about the story, the synagogue leader and the Jewish Religious Leaders as a whole had no compassion on people. They were cold and insensitive when it came to hurting people. They cared much more about Sabbath Observance than they did people. They were not happy for this dear woman. They were angry that Jesus did this miracle on the Sabbath and they directed their anger at the crowd who was rejoicing.

Basically the leader of the Synagogue said, “Go on home. Get out of here, this is not a hospital. You have six other days in which to get healed. Go to Dr. Jesus on one of those other days but don’t come here on the Sabbath and turn this into a healing service.

Can you believe that any human could be so insensitive? I can, I have seen it up close and personal. Some people care more about their assets {livestock in this story} than they do lost or hurting people. They care more about their reputation and pride than they do lost or hurting people. I’ve seen grown men d0 hurtful and harmful things to the fellowship of a church simply because their pride was offended or reputation was damaged.

CONCLUSION

Jesus not only called them hypocrites, He shamed them by making it obvious to the people that they loved things more than people. Jesus illustration of the animals was vivid and clear and everyone understood what He was saying…

17 This shamed His enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

There were two responses to Jesus miracle and words:

  1. His enemies got angry [later convicted and ashamed]
  2. The people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

This is prophetic: these are the same two responses we will see in judgment. Those that have not believed are going to be convicted and ashamed. Those who have put their trust in Christ are going to be rejoicing, not because of what they have done but what Jesus has done for them.

The Law Of The Harvest

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

1 I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.
2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you.
4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them!
5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.
14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.
15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

INTRODUCTION

I am doing something tonight that I don’t normally do, trying to cover an entire chapter in one message. I feel like I am preaching to the choir on Wednesday night: if this was the Sunday morning crowd, I would feel differently. We have been on this subject of “Stewardship” for two months and I think it is time to move on but I cannot do that in good conscious without sharing with you what little I know about the LAW OF THE HARVEST.


We will use verse 1-5 as our introduction:

1 I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.
2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you.
4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them!
5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.


Paul is holding the Corinthians accountable for promises made. I don’t know how you interpret what Paul said, but to me, it is a subtle form of pressure.

  1. He is putting words in their mouth… I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. Eager and enthusiastic givers don’t need prodding.
  2. Paul is sending a team to collect the offering…I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. Now, if I got a letter in the mail next week from an evangelist who said he was sending a team here to collect an offering, I would take that as a form of pressure. Paul also added, “Don’t embarrass me.”
  3. Paul is holding them accountable for a previous promise…So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But he adds, “I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.” I see a tad of humor in Pauls appeal. How do you pressure someone to give cheerfully?

    There is a way to pressure someone into giving cheerfully. Well, it is actually not a form of pressure so much as understanding. I think a lot of people would get eager and enthusiastic about giving if they understood the LAW OF THE HARVEST. Getting folks to understand this truth is not easy. The moment you begin asking for my stuff, I get defensive. When I get defensive, I don’t listen, don’t hear, don’t absorb, don’t take in, etc. I prefer to give to those who don’t ask.

Tonight we are going to talk about the LAW OF THE HARVEST which is a simple law.

  1. The LAW OF THE HARVEST is the law of proportionate giving. [ Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.] Its the same rule as that of a farmer, you  harvest in proportion to what you sow. If you sow many seeds, you will reap an abundant harvest: if you sow only a few seed, you will reap a small harvest. If a farmer is to expand his operation, he sows more seed, not less. The more generous he is in sowing the greater his harvest.
  2. The LAW OF THE HARVEST is the law of reciprocal giving. This is where a lot of folks misunderstand the law of the harvest. You do not GIVE TO GET…YOU GIVE TO GET TO GIVE AGAIN. Same as in farming: for the farmer to expand his operation, he plants more acreage which means a greater investment in seeds. Before all these hybrids, farmers saved their seed for the following year. Thus the bigger the harvest, the more seed you have to sow the next cycle, or year. In Luke 6:38, Jesus tells us that we cannot out give God…Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” There is a problem, a human problem and it is called greed. At no point in this process can we become greedy and save all our seed. The moment we begin hording, the law of the harvest breaks down. We must continually remind ourselves that we are not giving to get but giving to get so we can give again in a greater purportion.
  3. THE LAW OF THE HARVEST is faith-based giving. The farmer [in the old days, before crop insurance] had to sow in faith. There was never a guarantee of rain or of an abundant harvest. Some years the yield was very good, some years good, some years fair and some years bad. The farmer never knew what the yield would be so he planted in seeds in faith. I can guarantee you a return, based on the word of God the return depends upon [1] your motives and [2] God’s methods. We do normally reap in kind: if we give money our return is in money. If we sow kindness, our return is in kindness but there is no guarantee that we will reap in kind. God has many, many ways of blessing us. If our basic motive is the return, in getting or reaping the harvest, we will probably miss the truth and miss a blessing. Paul explains in the latter part of the chapter, the results of our giving: 

    [1] Our gifts meet the NEEDS OF OTHERS {So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.} I have been studying and trying to impliment the principles of good stewardship for over 45 years and one of the things I have wrestled with time and again is “Motive.” I know that motive is important to God, so what do we do when we suspect impure motives. I always look at the need. Will my gift met a need? This is the first question. I give on the basis of need whether my motives are pure or not. True, there will be no reward for me but the persons needs are met and that is a reward within itself.


    [2] Our gifts produce THANKSGIVING in the heart of the recipent. {And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.} …..To be perfectly honest with you: June and I recieve a lot. I don’t say a lot about it because I know that there is a thin line between being thankful and praising and being proud and boasting. Last week on vacation, our meals were paid for by one of our church members or maybe it was two, our hotel was paid for by a family in this church. June writes the thank you notes to them and I write the thank you notes to the LORD. When you give to a Christian brother, this is going to happen: he or she is going to praise God and give HIM thanks. I recieved one love offering while we were in Seminary and then went some 20 years are more before I got the second. Most churches in the old days paid a set fee, called an honorarium and sometimes, it barely met expenses. Then, after my kids were grown, not gone, but grown, a little church in a neighboring county invited me to preach a revival. I don’t like missing Sunday morning but I gave them a full Sunday and preached at night through Wednesday. I expected the usual honorarium which would be around $200 in most churches. I don’t recall ever getting more than $300, so is was generally in the 2-3 hundred range. That last night of the revival, the pastor got up and said, “We are going to do something I had not planned to do, we are going to take up a love offering for Bro. Jack. I was both shocked and impressed but with my experience in the ministry, I did not expect much. After the service, the pastor gave me an envelop and I just stuck it in my pocket. When we got in our vehicle to leave, my wife said, “hand me the envelop, I want to see what’s in it.” She started counting and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. She said, “You are not going to believe this.” I said, “What, you have to tell me now.” She gave me the amount and I thought I was going to have pull off the road. I was elated, filled with praise and thanksgiving and in a celebrative mood. We went on to Cracker Barrel in Cullman and celebrated. Folks, this has happened to me in some shape, form or fashion more times than I can recount. FIRST OUR GIFT MEETS A NEED, THEN IT CREATES AN ERUPTION OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD. But that is not all…


    [3] Our gifts will produce GLORY TO GOD. {v.13,  As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God.} This truth consoles me in my giving. I think to myself, “Someone is going to be helped and You will get glory so what difference does it make if I get a reward for giving, my motive is unimportant.” In other words, I have made up my mind to give whether I get a reward or not. Believe it or not, there is a 4th reason…


    [4] Our gifts will produce intercession in our behalf {v.13-14…For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.}…. My father in the ministry was Calvin C. Inman and he was a prayer warrior. He had a prayer room, a prayer calendar and a prayer note book. After he retired in the late 80’s, I bumped into him at a meeting. He said, “Jack, I pray for you every Wednesday.” I pulled him aside and said, “I appreciate your prayers. I just weathered a crisis and it just dawned on me that your prayers could very well have made the difference.” Bro. Inman was not perfect but I covets his prayers. I have some wealthy friends. They can buy anything they want and they are super generous to me. They have given me thousands of dollars. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much they have given. I cannot give them anything because they have money to get whatever they want. BUT I CAN PRAY FOR THEM. They have needs just like everyone else. Just last year, a church member family [one that has been very generous with us] came to visit June and I concerning our little crisis and they never mentioned what was going on in their life. I found out just hours later that their crisis was more severe than ours and immediately, my prayer focus changed. Folks, you cannot put a price tag on an INTERCESSOR, they are priceless.

CONCLUSION

Once again, Paul points us to Jesus in verse 15, “Thank God for this gift to wonderful for words.”

  • AV–Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!
  • NKJV/NIV–Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
  • ESV–Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
  • CEV–Thank God for His gift which is too wonderful for words!
  • NIrV–Let us give thanks to God for HIS gift which is so great that no one can tell you how wonderful it really is!

The bottom line: God is a giver, He is a generous benevolent God and no one can outgive HIM. He has infinite pockets and HIS gift is Christ speaks for itself–how are we going to top this wonderful gift that we cannot even describe.

 My advice to you is: Don’t worry so much about your motives, just respond obediently to God’s command and give, someday you will thank me for challenging you.

A Storm Is Coming

54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right.
55 When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is.
56 You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.
57 “Why can’t you decide for yourselves what is right?
58 When you are on the way to court with your accuser, try to settle the matter before you get there. Otherwise, your accuser may drag you before the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison.
59 And if that happens, you won’t be free again until you have paid the very last penny. ”

INTRODUCTION

Before we get into this message: it is similar to last week. It is not a full sermon. With the brief time I have today, I want to stir your mind and imagination and ask you some probing questions and then make a challenge. 


There is a similar passage in Matthew:
1 One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.
2 He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow;
3 red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times!
4 Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. ” Then Jesus left them and went away.

NOTE: In Matthew, Jesus is addressing the Jewish Religious leaders while in Luke, He addresses the crowd. The religious leaders have influenced the people, the nation as a whole is on the verge of rejecting Jesus.

Jesus said to the crowd, you can predict the weather by simply looking at the sky, reading the signs. All rain storms came from the Mediterrian which was to their west. When they saw clouds in the west, they knew it was going to rain. When they put their finger in the air and felt the wind blowing from the South, they knew a heat wave was on the way. They were very accurate in reading these natural signs but when it came to the “Signs of the Times,” they had no idea what was taking place. I like the way the NIrV puts it, “Why can’t you understand what is happening right now?”

This is a great question. In effect, Jesus was saying, “Do you people know what God is doing right here today, before your very eyes?” Peter knew, ten other disciples knew but the Jewish Religious leaders didn’t have a clue nor did the masses. Many believe that there were only 500 true followers until the day of Pentecost when thousands were converted. So we are talking about a tiny remnant of Jews who actually understood [in part] what God was doing in Christ. The rest didn’t have a clue.

The Jews had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years, He comes and they don’t recognize Him which Jesus makes reference to in Chapter 13–And now, look, your house is abandoned [desolate, empty]. And you will never see Me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD. Do you understand what Jesus is implying? “I was here folks, standing right in front of you and you did not recognize who I am.” As John so aptly stated in his gospel:


 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. I love the next verse [12]–But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.


Jesus was amazed: these Jews could read the signs in the sky and predict the weather but they could not read the signs in scripture and recognize what God was doing in their very presence and time [generation].


This leads me to the personal question: Do you know what God is doing right now? Do you see God at work today? What is He doing in DBC today?


The Jews could look at the sky and see a storm coming but they could not look at Jesus and see God at work or His judgment coming. What an opportunity this generation of Jews had and they blew it. The Messiah that Adam and Eve longed for was among them and they did not see God in HIM, did not see God working through HIM. They heard Jesus teach, saw Him work miracle after miracle but yet did not see what God was doing in HIM. What a blessed priviledge they squandered.

The Jews as a whole did not see God working in Christ before the crucifixion, so let us fast forward to after the resurrection and see what has changed: [Acts 5:29-39]

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.
30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross.
31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven.
32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them.
34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while.
35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!
36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing.
37 After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.
38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.
39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!


Jesus saw their coming judgment, it was less than 40 years away. Rome would come with all its might and destroy everything. The Jews would be left with an empty house, nothing: Jesus saw it so clearly that He could describe it but they didn’t see it coming. Jesus begs them to repent in chapter 13 but they refuse to repent. They did not see the glorious gospel in Christ because they didn’t want to see. Jesus was light so light was not the problem. In their stubborn pride they refused to listen to what He said or understand what He was doing. He convicted them of their sins and they hated Him for it.


Jesus gives them one last warning in verses 57-59:

57 “Why can’t you decide for yourselves what is right?
58 When you are on the way to court with your accuser, try to settle the matter before you get there. Otherwise, your accuser may drag you before the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison.
59 And if that happens, you won’t be free again until you have paid the very last penny. ”

Jesus is not literally talking about a court of law although it is good advice to settle out of court: He is talking about the final judgment. Folks, the last thing you want to do is to approach the bar of God without Jesus. It was virtually impossible for a Jew to pay his debt once he was thrown into prison. An intelligent Jew would do what ever it took to stay out of prison. It was always better to go to the creditor personally and beg for more time or terms of payment than to go to the courts of law.


Friend, what you be willing to do to avoid going to hell? I am telling you now: you need to settle out of court. Come to Jesus today: He makes the message clear in Luke 13:3, “Unless you repent [turn from your sins], you will perish.”

Do You Think?

Scripture: Luke 12:49-53, NLT

49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!

50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 

51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against one another!

52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of Me and two against–or two in favor and three against.

53 Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

INTRODUCTION

Many times is life, we have a preconcieved notion of how something is only to find out it is nothing like what we envisioned. All my life I had heard about Denver, Colorado being the mile high city. So, I imagined Denver to be located on a tall mountain and surrounded by panaramic mountain peaks, snow capped mountain peaks but Denver is located on a plateau. There are no mountain peaks in sight. The acent and decent is so gradual that it is hard to concieve that it is on a mountain at all. Denver was nothing like what I had imagined. It is a spraling metropolice with no mountains in view.

The Jews were looking and longing for the Messiah but Jesus was not what they had imagined. They were looking for a conquering king, not a suffering servant. They were looking for the Prince of Peace; actually, a golden era of peace and prosperity. They loved His miracles, especailly the multiplying of the loaves and fish–they could see where Jesus could make them prosperous and that liked the fact that Jesus was unafraid but Jesus disappointed them. The words He spoke here hurt their ears. It was a TMI moment…Enough Jesus, God forbid, this cannot happen, just hush now, don’t go there, etc.

One of the things that Jesus could not do was lie; He was always bound to tell the truth even when it was painful. He was convicted by the Sanhedrin on the basis of His own confession that He was the Son of God. No way, was Jesus going to deny His Father.

Jesus said, “Do you think that I came to bring peace?” [well I did not] I came to bring fire and a sword [Matt. 10:34] or division.

I. THE FIRST METAPHOR JESUS USES IS “FIRE”

Fire is a symbol of judgment and of the cleansing effect produced by judgment. Fire is a symbol of holiness. The writer of Hebrews said,Our God is a consuming fire.” [quote from Deuteronomy 4, 9 and Exodus 17]

Let me give you an example: in the OT sacrifical system, they had a bronze altar WHICH was used for sacrifice. They sacrificed animals and the flesh of the animal was placed on the altar, on the wood. They would light the fire and it would consume the flesh until it became a holocaust.

When we get saved, born again, the Holy Spirit [God’s fire] comes into our life and it is a fire that will not go out. It is a consuming fire and it burns up the flesh, all the ways that are not Christ like.

Example: I was saved at the age of 9 and got really serious about serving the LORD at age 19 but I must tell you, at age 19 I loved sports and I loved this world. But God put His holy fire in my bones and it has been burning since–this fire is consuming my love for sports and it is consuming my love for this world. I’m not saying that I have no love for this world but I am saying I have less than I had yesterday. God is chipping away at my lust for things.

Phipps Festus Bourne was a wood carver from Mabry Hill, Virginia. He was famous for carving ducks out of a chunk of wood. His ducks were so good, they seems life-life. Some one asked him how he got a duck from a block of wood. He said, “I just look at the piece of wood and get in my mind everything there that doesn’t look like a duck and I go to chipping away at what doesn’t resemble the duck.”

Instead of chipping with a chisel and hammer, God uses fire and He burns everything that does not resemble Jesus. I know, if you are like me, you are not impressed at this point but God is not through, in the end, you will marvel at His grace and handiwork. What would we be had not Adam and Eve sinned? Well, that is what we are going to be and more. God’s holy fire is going to consume every sinful thing in our lives.

A children’s pastor put the kids on stage in front of the adults and she sat on the front row with cue cards. She would flash a card to the kids and they would imitate or act out the person or thing. Only the children could see the cue cards, the adults had to guess what was on the card by the actions of the children.

The first card read “Chicken” and all the children reacted about the same time, flapping their arms like wings, crowing, etc. The audience got it right away. Next was a Elephant.”  The kids made a trunk with their arms and blew their trumpets. In a few seconds, the audience figured it out. Then came a “ballerina” and some of the kids began twirling on toe tip or trying to and the audience got it right. The last card read JESUS. This was totally unrehersed and the kids were at a lost; they just stood there in deep thought. After a few seconds one little girls threw her arms out wide like Jesus on the cross. It was a jesture of openess and love, eventually the audience figured out it was Jesus.

Are we confused when it comes to acting out so that others see Jesus is us. Better still, are the people we meet and interact with seeing Jesus in our behavior. After reading this story out of OUR DAILY BREAD, I was driving home from work and a flood of conviction filled my soul. It was all I could do to keep driving. I tried to pray out loud but couldn’t: all I could do was weep and I don’t weep often.

What did the Holy Spirit convict me of? My unChristlike attitude. I love those who love me and I love those who acknowledge a need for my help or God’s through me but I do not love everybody, not like Jesus did. I don’t think I hate anyone but I don’t love Muslims. I don’t love people who kill babies. I have a hard time with those who persecute Christians. I do pray that God will burn away all the prejudice and pride that keeps me from loving others but I must confess, my reflection of Jesus has been pitiful.

Jesus came to bring fire and He did: I am living proof that He did and it is burning today, I mean right now and it will not stop until the flesh is consumed.

II. THE SECOND METAPHOR IS THE SWORD

We think of Jesus as the Prince of Peace and the Peace Speaker or giverof peace and He is all this and more but on His initial trip to this earth, His mission was not peace but a sword which is a symbol for division. Jesus Christ is the GREAT DIVIDER. He divides family, friends, churches and nations.

When you actually sit down and give what Jesus said some thought, you can understand why He said what He did. True conversion produces radical change. This change is so great that it cannot be covered or hidden. When Christ enters a life, He takes control and He begins the long tedious process we call sanctification. Long story short, the Christian has nothing in common with the world other than his flesh or humanity. A Christian has a different world view. We do not think like the world. We do not value what they value. Our goals are totally different. They are amassing wealth while we are laying up treasures in heaven. They think we are crazy and I know they are crazy. If you were to drive through a camp ground and see someone building a house on a camping spot, what would you think? I would say, “They are nuts.” The people of this world are into health and wealth. They seek pleasure like we seek quiet time or time alone with Jesus. They are into hedonism not praise and worship.

Let me illustrate: growing up I had some friends but as a middle teenager, I began seeking God’s will for my life. I stopped drinking [which I never enjoyed in the first place] and began being careful who I ran with. There were certain things that I would not do and I lost friends because of it. People that were once close became distant. My commitment to follow Christ gave me a set of values they did not have or want to adopt. A few of them made jokes about it but most just kept their distance. I grew up with folks that I thought were like brothers but when I surrendered to the ministry at age 19, I had very few friends because we were going in a different direction.

When you think about it: there is no shock to what Jesus said, “I came to divide, I brought a sword not peace.” Jesus has divided all of humanity into one of two groups: the repentant and the unrepentant, the saved and the lost. Every human being is in one of these two camps.

Jesus divided the Jewish Religious leaders; He divided the Jewish people. John 9:16 is a great example–Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. We see it again in John 10–The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Like it our not, Jesus divides. Our nation is divided to the joy of some. We are divided economically, morally, politically, socially, racially and spiritually.

The polls are indicating at present that the presidential race is about 50/50: that is divided almost down the middle. According to a recent Gallup pole, about 50% of Americans favor abortion with 44% opposed. This has changed since Obama has been in office. Before he took office it was 51% pro-life and 42% pro-abortion. About the only place where I don’t see a great divide is on immigration. Gallup says that 77% of Americans are very concerned about immigrations and the open borders. Lets face the facts, America is deeply divided. How is Jesus the source of such division? 

As Christians, we are not to compromise with evil which means a true believer will never condon the mass killing of unwanted babies. Our conviction will not change because the One who put those convictions there, does not change.

The problem for Christians is that the left has a strangle holt on this country. They have control of the courts, classrooms and congress. I think it is apparent now that the Republicans as a whole have sold out to special interest. They are under the spell of big corporations just like the democrats. Both parties are corrupt and both are on the take. A Republican House and Senate has done nothing to slow down Obama’s Socialism Express, I mean nothing. Richard Shelby and his commercials were a joke. His campaign ads were as pathethic as he is: He and every senator there is rich because they have taken money from special interest. They do not represent us: they represent the likes of Walmart, the NFL, Apple and G.E. They have betrayed our interest for their own personal interest and they keep getting reelected because they have enough money to flood the airways with propaganda and smear tactics and American’s are dumb enough to believe their lies.

Let me tell you what is going to happen in the next few years; Christians are going to be persecuted. It has already started: case in point–Obama vs. Hobby Lobby but it is going to get worse, much worse. It will get so bad that Christians, real Christians will have to declare their allegience to Christ. Those who are faking are going to drop out of church and churches are going to become stronger. So let Mr. Obama and the left bring on their persecution; it will not heal the divide. Jesus has divided us and we will stay divided until He returns. Our values are totally opposite of the worlds and neither is going to change. I do wish the world would change but I have no hope that it will, my hope is for the next world which will magnify and praise the name of Jesus.

Stewardship

Scripture: Luke 12:41-48

41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?”

42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

47 And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

INTRODUCTION

Stewardship is an old word that we don’t use much but it is a good word. A steward was an exalted slave who was entrusted with the responsibility of managing his master’s estate. Abraham, for example, had a Steward who’s name was Eliezer. Abraham trusted Eliezer with everything he had. Before Abraham had children, Eliezer was named to inheret Abraham’s wealth. A second, and even better example is Joseph. Joseph was a slave but he was Potiphar’s Steward {Butler}. Joseph ran Potiphar’s estate. He kept the check book, paid all the bills, instructed all the slaves. 

Before we get into the heart of the message, I want you to note that his particular teaching comes in response to Peter’s question in verse 41, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?” Jesus had been teaching on “Readiness and watchfulness” in regards to His return. Now Jesus in answer to Peter’s question, takes it a step further and teaches us not only to be watching and ready for His return but to be faithful during the interim. We are not to sit and watch but work and watch. Paul gave the Thessalonians a good chewing out for sitting on their roof top patio’s, having bible studies and watching for the Second Coming. Jesus said in John 9:4, I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. Now is the time to work, not sit and watch but work and watch.

TRANSITION

What do we look for in a steward? What would a wealthy Jewish man like Abraham look for in a steward?

I. HE WOULD LOOK FOR ABILITY

Ability is the talent, the skill, the aptitude to do something. When you are drafting leaders, you look first at ability. One of the requirements of Stewards, Managers or Leaders is to be sensible, wise and prudent. We are to make good sound judgments. You don’t give great responsibility to someone who has no ability to perform the task you are delegating them to do.

If we, as leaders, delegate authority to some individual who does not have the abilty to carry out the assigned task and they fail to do so, God will not hold them responsible, he will hold us responsible because we ask them to do something that they were not capable of doing.

II. HE WOULD LOOK FOR FAITHFULNESS

Jesus said, [v.42] “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.” Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

Abraham didn’t put Eliezer in charge of his household until he knew that he could trust him. The same was true of Potiphar. After ability, the first thing you look for is faithfulness or loyalty. You want a person you can depend on. Therefore the steward must be reliable, dependable, trustworthy and loyal to a fault. We sang a song when I was growing up that came to my mind when I got to this verse…it goes like this:

In the warfare that is raging
For the truth and for the right,
When the conflict, fierce, is raging
With the powers of the night,
God needs people brave and true:
May He then depend on you?

See, they come on sable pinions,
Come in strong, Satanic might,—
Powers come, and dark dominions,
From the regions of the night;
God requires the brave and true:
May He then depend on you? 

From His throne the Father sees us;
Angels help us to prevail;
And our leader true is Jesus,
And we shall not, cannot fail:
Triumph crowns the brave and true,—
May the Lord depend on you? 

Refrain:
May the Lord depend on you?
Loyalty is but His due;
Say, O spirit, brave and true,
That He may depend on you.

It is a sobering question: Can the LORD depend on you? If your church can’t, I doubt seriously that the LORD can. I know a lot of good people. They are very likable and fun to be around but you cannot depend on them. They are not reliable. When I was a boy, we had a horse named Betty. Betty enjoyed her freedom. She like to frolic but she didn’t like to work. To catch old Betty, you had to hem her up. If she was in the lot, you could slip around and shut the gate, then get her in the barn or a corner. If you didn’t decieve her and she saw you walk toward her with a bridle, that head came up and she immediately headed to the very back side of our 40 arce farm. Believe it or not, we have church members who are just like Betty. They have ability but no sense of responsibility. You can’t hem them up. When they see you coming with a task in mind, they are gone. There is only one thing worse than a Betty, its a person who promises to do something and then fails to keep their promise.

A steward must be reliable!

III. A THIRD THING TO LOOK FOR IS GOOD JUDGMENT

The AV translates verse 42 thusly, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

Lets look quickly at the bad judgment of the hypothetical steward that Jesus describes:

  1. He thought of his MASTER as being absent.
  2. He thought he had more time “My master won’t be back for a while.”
  3. He abused his power “Beating the other servants”
  4. He acted irresponsibly “Getting Drunk”
  5. He failed to put his MASTER interest above his own. He pursued his own agenda.
  6. He was not prepared when his MASTER returned.

 

CONCLUSION

The wise, the sensible steward who is faithful will be rewarded with more responsibility and priviledge but the unwise, the foolish steward will be cut in sunder [NLT, to pieces].  One commentary said, “Cut in half,” which was an ancient form of execution. Isaiah the prophet was cut in half by a saw by the wicked Manassah.

Jesus said, And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Junior Hill told a story, a parable about two brothers. One was a very healtly and gifted child and the other was born with Downs Syndrome. They attended the same school but the child with the disability was in a special education sector. They were only a year or so apart in age. One day they came in from school and both were elated, the gifted child ran to him mom showing his report card which had all A’s, the child with Downs Syndrome, pecked his mom on the arm and said look, he bent over and ties his shoe. Which one was the mom most proud of? Both, she was proud of both. Both used the ability they had but both didn’t have the same ability.

God is good and He is fair. He is not going to require the same from those who have less ability as he does from those who have much more.

Integrity Is Handling Money

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8: 16-24

16 But thank God! He has given Titus the same enthusiasm for you that I have.
17 Titus welcomed our request that he visit you again. In fact, he himself was very eager to go and see you.
18 We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News.
19 He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem —a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help.
20 We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift.
21 We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.
22 We are also sending with them another of our brothers who has proven himself many times and has shown on many occasions how eager he is. He is now even more enthusiastic because of his great confidence in you.
23 If anyone asks about Titus, say that he is my partner who works with me to help you. And the brothers with him have been sent by the churches, and they bring honor to Christ.
24 So show them your love, and prove to all the churches that our boasting about you is justified.

INTRODUCTION

Whereas we have been talking primarily of the responsibility and priviledge of giving, tonight we are talking about the integrity of handling the money that is given in good faith by believers.


I have been in the ministry for 47 years and I can tell you from experience, it is not important to handle the tithes and offering with integrity, it is vital. The last thing any church needs is a question about the money and how it is being used. We do have some discretionary funds that are not made public but any member or contributor has the right to review the books and records. We do have a benevolent fund and we have helped various families and we did it in a discret and private way [several reasons for not making these gifts public] but nothing is hid from those who give the money. You are more than welcome to stop by and we will show you exactly where the money went and I will take full responsibility. I do discus all benevolent needs with the deacons except in cases of emergency. Nothing is hiden.


I heard a radio broadcast this morning about the failure of the public school or government education. At one time, the U.S. ranked one in the world and now we are close to the bottom. I’ll tell you why its a failure and it has nothing or very little to do with the teachers. [1] The Federal Government filing it up which they do to everything [2] and no accountability to the public, to the tax payers. There are more bureaucrats in education than there are teachers and they make more money. If you tried to run a business the way public education and the postal service is run, you would go bankrupt. Accountability may not be pleasant but it makes us better.


Those who handle church money should be….

I. SERVANTS: THEY SHOULD HAVE A DESIRE TO SERVE OTHERS [V.16-17]

16 But thank God! He has given Titus the same enthusiasm for you that I have.
17 Titus welcomed our request that he visit you again. In fact, he himself was very eager to go and see you.
Sometimes church veer from that purpose. We lose sight of what God had placed us here today. Dr. Wiersbe says, “It is good to have soul winners in charge of your money because they will keep evangelism and mission forefront in your spending.” A lot of churches make the mistake of putting bankers and accountants in charge of the money but this may not be a good idea. Although the church is considered a small business and must operate like one in many ways, we are not really a business. The church is a ministry and a mission. A business must profit to stay in business but a church involved in ministry, evangelism and mission is not going to show a profit. It takes money to do missions, ministry and evangelism.

So when we are putting someone on the budget committee, it needs to be someone like Titus, someone who is enthusiastic about God’s work.

II. SINCERE IN THEIR LOVE FOR OTHERS [V.18]

We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News.

This unnamed member of Paul Finance Committee was a faithful preacher of the gospel and he cared enough about the situation to take the risk of travel. Travel is getting dangerous today because of the shere numbers. June could not get over the volume of traffic last Friday as we made our way the Florida. It was very heavy all day long. Travel was far more dangerous in Paul’s day than today. Paul for example was in three ship wrecks. Fortunately, he survived all three but in most ship wrecks, there were no survivors. The fact that this unnamed committee member was willing to risk his life was an indication of his sincerety.

III. THEY MOTIVE SHOULD BE TO HONOR CHRIST [V.19]

19 He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem —a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help.

Paul had previously said to the Corinthians, So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. When it comes to handling the church’s money, we should do it in such a way that God would get glory.

IV. THEY MUST HAVE A GOOD REPUTATION AS BEING HONEST [V.20-22]

20 We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift.
21 We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.
22 We are also sending with them another of our brothers who has proven himself many times and has shown on many occasions how eager he is. He is now even more enthusiastic because of his great confidence in you.


A church can make a lot of mistakes but it had better not be with the money. People aren’t going to give to an organization they don’t trust.
  1. We have to be causious. We must be proactive when it comes to criticism. What can we do to prevent criticism. We cannot go to the extreme of letting the tail wag the dog; we are not to give in to the critics but at the same time, why give them fodder. Critism can be very hurtful whether it is justified or not. It is to be avoided if possible
  2. We have to be careful. We know the LORD is watching but we must assume that people are watching as well. There has to be accountability. It is foolish for any church not to have an accountability system in play. My home church got burned when I was just a boy. The treasurer was a likable man whom everyone respected but he did not manage his own resources well and I don’t think they knew it. He got behind on his bills and he borrowed money from the church. Since he was the only one who saw the offering, he was able to do this for some years. The technical term for this is embezzlement. Full disclosure was never given but it got into the thousands and this was in the 1950’s. Mercy and grace were extended because he was related to several in the church and he was not a villian, he just had the wrong weakness to be handling money. The same thing has happened right here in Morgan County at least three times since I have been at Danville. I was a personal friend to the pastor in one such case and many of you know that man who embezzled. He is a respected man in the community but he stole thousands of dollars from a church. He was shrewd and there was no hard evidence, just missing information and missing money. He resigned his position and moved to another church. Treasuers are not the only ones guilty, in some cases, pastors have been given too much liberty and they have embezzled and some were forced to pay the money back. My rule is simple: I don’t handle the church’s money. I don’t count it, don’t deposit it and I don’t keep it. I also insist that no member of my family be responsible for church money.
  3. We must make ourselves accountable by involving more than one or even two people. Paul believed the more, the merrier so he was bringing it this unnamed person to accompany them when there was already a half-d0zen on the team. Some people love the old days and the old ways because of the secrecy but you should not be ashamed of what you give and neither should I. I could very easily see a person questioning my stewardship: “He is always talking about tithing, I wonder if he tithes.” Well, you don’t have to wonder. It is all a matter of public record and although we do not publish giving records publically, they are available if needed. I don’t want to be a legalist but if my pastor was not tithing, I’d want to know it. There is nothing wrong with accountability.

V. THEY MUST HAVE A WILLING SPIRIT TO WORK WITH OTHERS [V. 23-24]

23 If anyone asks about Titus, say that he is my partner who works with me to help you. And the brothers with him have been sent by the churches, and they bring honor to Christ.
24 So show them your love, and prove to all the churches that our boasting about you is justified.


The last thing you want is a disgruntaled, unhappy church member as the chairman of your finance committee. He or she will not cooperate with others in achieving the church goals. They will use their office as a power to hinder everything that you are trying to accomplish. If a person is ambitious for an office like Treasurer or deacon [in the old days] I would be leary. I have seen this in play time and again, thank God not recently. You cannot put unhappy people in charge of the money because they will not cooperate with anyone on anything.

Are You Ready?

Scripture: Luke 12:35-40

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning,
36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.
37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!
38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into.
40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

INTRODUCTION

Did you hear the one about the woman who married four times: first to banker, then to a circus ring master, then to a preacher and her final husband was an undertaker. Some one ask her why she married men of such diverse careers and this was her answer. “I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go.”


Today we focus on three and four: getting ready to go.

If you will look at verse 40, you will see these six very important words…The Son of Man will come. Jesus said in John 14, “I go to prepare a place for you and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and recieve you unto myself, there where I am, there you may be also.” Jesus has promised to return to this earth and He keeps His promises. Jesus had just finished teaching on the subject of worry or anxiety about worldly things and now He is teaching us to be ready, to be vigilant about His return. In other words, our focus is not to be on this world but Christ return and the Kingdom to come.


In so doing, Jesus uses two analogies: [1] That of a bridegroom and master and [2] that of a thief. From these two analogies, I have extracted three points…

I. FIRST OF ALL: JESUS IS TELLING US TO BE READY

As a matter of fact, note the times you see the word ‘ready’ in today’s brief text:

  • Be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. [v.36]
  • Servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. [v.37]
  • He will reward the servants who are ready. [v.38]
  • You also must be ready all the time. [v. 40]

If you look closely, you will note that the other two verses where the word ready is not used, it is suggested:.”

  • “Be dressed [ready] for service and keep your lamps burning” [v.35]
  • “If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would [have been ready] not permit his house to be broken into.” [v.39]

So Jesus is stresses the fact that servants must stay in a state of readiness.


In the ancient East, the Jewish wedding were held at night and it was the Bridegroom’s prerogative when or what time to come for the bride. He was a waiting game. The exhortation here, is for the servants [you and I] to be ready. The old translations read…Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning. The men wore tunics, not pants [thank God for pants] and when they got ready to work, they tucked the bottom, the skirt of the tunic into their belt. This created a mini-skirt which enabled them to move about freely and do their work. Since the wedding was at night, they would need light so Jesus says, have your lamps trimmed and ready. The emphasis is on BEING READY.


The BRIDEGROOM analogy also teaches us two other very important truths.


II. WE WILL BE MORE THAN READY IF WE PASSIONATELY LOVE JESUS

There is no love on this earth that compares with the love of a man for a woman and vice versa. Agape is heavenly love or love from above but I am speaking of an earthly love. Most of you have been in love at one time or the other, some of you may be in love today. If so, you have a passion for the person you are in love with, you might even call it an obsession.

Daddy always referred to romantic or erotic love as being “Moon struck.” The older generations believed the moon had an effect on a persons mentality or state of mind, hence the word “Lunatic” which means madness. Luna is Latin for the moon. Many ancient astrologers believed the moon could cast a spell on a person. When daddy referred to a couple as being moon struck, he meant they were not thinking straight, they were under a spell of irrationality. 

When a woman is madly in love with a man, she longs to see him. Recently I watch a saga on Netflix about a man who married a Morman girl [young woman] because he got her pregnant and he wanted to do the right thing. At first she loved him more than he loved her but in time, the situation was reversed. When things got really difficult due to his long hours and their living conditions, she decided to return to her parents who lived in a very nice home. When he saw that she was leaving, he carried her himself back to her folks but he told her that when he got established, got a better place for her and the baby to live, he would return for her. He kept his word. He got a promotion and was able to afford nice accommodations and so he came back for her but she was gone. He searched for her for months and finally found her just as her life was being threatened by a mad man. He saved her from the serial killer [the madman] but unfortunately for him, she had taken up with another man, lesser in statue and character and in spite of his heroics, she asked him to leave and never come back. When this happened, I told June to cut the TV off, I was not watching anymore. She finished watching the entire thing but I was done because I am an incurable romantic and this story did not end right. Who ever wrote this script was sadistic.

This is how it should have ended: She thinks about her tall handsome husband all the time. She finds herself looking out the window several times a day as she longed for him to return. When he returns, she is waiting and watching and runs out the door and toward her true love as he puts his horse into a fast gallop. They meet head on and he sweeps her off her feet and onto the horse. In full embrace they ride to the house. Both are elated as she shows him how much his son has grown.

You see, I know and you know that had she been madly in love with her brave husband, a man of principle, she would have been watching and waiting anxiously for his return and excited beyond description when he did show up. Do you see the point?


If we are madly in love with Jesus, we will wait anxiously with keen anticipation of His return. Nothing will be more important than His return.


How many us must confess that we love this world more than we love our Savior?


III. THE TIME OF HIS RETURN IS HIS PREROGATIVE

The unique thing about the ancient Jewish wedding was that the Father of the groom told his son when to go claim his bride. In was a patriarchal society and the Father had the final word. The bride and the servants did not know exactly when the Groom would come, they simply knew to be ready.

Could Jesus come today?

Sure, He can come anytime the Father says, “Go get my children and your bride.”

What about unfulfilled prophecies?

My answer to that question would be: we humans are bad to misinterpret prophecy. All the bible scholars in Jerusalem missed the first advent because they misinterpreted the prophecies and we could make the same mistake. So, if I were you, I would listen to Jesus and not some TV preacher trying to sell books. I would be ready today.

There is no doubt about it, God holds the future in His hands and we have absolutely no control and no say in when Jesus returns. He will come like a thief in the night when He is unexpected. His coming will be a shock and a surprise to this world but we His servants should be in a state of readiness, we should be watching, waiting, longing for His return.

Conclusion

I don’t have the perfect story to conclude this message but I have a story. I can’t recall being in the waiting mode at home but I can tell you that I have been in the waiting mode to return home. This has happened to me more than once.

In 1986, I went with a team of Alabama pastors and laymen to Lagos, Nigeria; a place that is restricted today but was open in 86. I was gone a total of 11 days and spent 8 in Africa. Not one time did I ever feel at home in Africa. The people were gracious and kind but my mind was on Danville. I doubt seriously that an hour passed that I did not think of home and being reunited with my family. I can recall that day and moment when we were bused to the airport, making our way home. I was excited beyond belief. We had a layover in Amsterdam and I had the priviledge of visiting the Rijks museum where many of Rembrants master pieces are kept but I was still thinking about home. We had good food, running water and all the modern conviences of western Europe but it was not home and I was ready to come home. I longed for home and when we touched down in Huntsville, I was the happiest person on the planet.

We need this kind of passion, enthusiasm, and excitement about the return of Christ and our going home, to our real home.

Are you excited about HOME today or are you preoccupied with this world?

I encourage you today to fall in love with JESUS. Some of you loved him passionately at one time but your love has grown cold: you no longer have the devotion you once had. Your love for Christ is being choked by the cares of this world. Remember from where you have fallen and repent today. If you have never given your heart to Christ, do it for the first time today. If you need to repent and to return to your first love, do it today.

Generous Grace

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:9, NLT

You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich.

INTRODUCTION

When we think of condescending; we generally conjure up negative images like a rich person looking down on a poor person because he has less or an educated person looking down on the uneducated, think he or she to be ignorant. As a general rule, human are very condescending in a negative sense; we are bad about looking down on others. I knew a man who thought he was morally superior to his father but when this man became older, he realized that he was morally inferior to his father. We all know people who assume that they are the sharpness knife in the drawer. They feel confident that they are the smartest person in the room and without their being aware of what they are doing, they have a condescending attitude that is not admired by anyone. I would not be shocked if the greatest sin of the church is not “Self-righteousness” which iminates from our feelings of moral superoriety. 

BUT when we speak of the Divine Condescension, it is not a negative thing at all because the true definition of condenscion is “To descend to the level of one considered inferior; to lower oneself.” The key passage in the bible on this subject is probably Philippians 2:6-8, Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, He gave up his divine privileges ; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human formHe humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

The ‘He’ is in reference to Jesus: NOTE what “He did for us.”

  • He did not cling to His divine rights or priviledges
  • He became a human being [God became flesh]
  • He took the form of a servant or slave [lowered Himself]
  • He humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be humiliated
  • He died a criminals death

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is using Christ as our example in the matter of giving. Jesus Christ was a giver, a generous giver; more generous than we can imagine. Paul said, You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich.

Again, note what “He did for us.”

  • He was generous
  • He was infinitely rich
  • He became poor for our sakes
  • He makes us rich by His poverty

Transition: I had planned to go to the next passage and keep moving but in reading one of the commentaries this week, I felt convicted about passing over verse 9 so lightly. So tonight, we go back and review this verse again.

I’ve organized my comments around three headings:

I. OUR APPRECIATION FOR THE GENEROUS GIFT THAT CHRIST HAS GIVEN

Robert Tasker said, It is not so much the lowly circumstances of His birth and life as it is the fact that He was willing to become human which was the greatest condescension of them all.

I agree with Tasker. We have no means, no cognitive way to measure the gift of the incarnation: Christ becoming human to save humans.


Probably 25 years or so ago, I heard Paul Harvey tell the story of the birds. It was near Christmas and it was the best illustration that I had heard on the incarnation. 

There was a certain man who had no interest in Christ, church or any type of religious devotion. It just so happened that he was blessed with a very good Christian wife who carried their children to church on a regular basis. It was Christmas time and the family was preparing to attend the Christmas service at church and the wife invited the unbelieving husband and the kids also begged dad to go but he refused. He opted to stay home and watch TV. There was a snow on the ground and an overcast sky. As the man reclined to watch some TV, he heard a thug against the slidding glass door that separated the warm den from the cold patio. He didn’t pay any attention and went right back to his program but in a few minutes, he heard the thumping sound again. He knew something was hitting the glass door so he got up to investigate and that is when he discovered two dying birds laying on the snow. They had seed the light beaming from the den but did not see the glass.

He sat back down to enjoy his program but he just couldn’t get the birds off of his mind. He decided that if it happened again, he would intervene somehow and sure enough a third bird crashed into the glass and broke it’s neck. So he got up, put on his coat and went outside. He had an out building so he went in, cut the light on and lay some bird seed on the floor for the birds to eat. Then he went inside and observed. To his dismay, the birds did not trust him and they would not go inside the building for food and shelter. He went back out a made a trail leading into the building with the bird seed. But when the birds got to the door they flew away. He did it a second time and when the birds got near the door he rushed out to drive them into the shelter but as soon as they heard him exit the den, they flew away. 

Now he is really frustrated: he wants to help the ignorant birds but they will not let him. They don’t trust him, they don’t understand him and his presence terrifies them. What can he do to save them? That’s when he heard an inner voice say, “You would have to become a bird yourself if you are to help them. Then you could speak their language and be on their level. They would not fear you as a bird.” Suddenly it dawned upon him…That’s why Jesus came. He had to become a human to save humans.”

It’s a good story and makes a great point but someone came along and said, “It’s not strong enough, birds have some value; it is more like becomeing a rat to save the rats.”

The truth is: the condescension is an infinite jump that no one can measure. The sacrifice Jesus made in becoming human is beyond description. No illustration we use is adequate. Have you stopped lately to thank God for this indescrible gift?

II. WE ARE NEVER MORE LIKE CHRIST THAN WHEN WE GIVE SACRIFICALLY

Christian love best expresses itself in sacrifical giving.

William Sydney Porter {O. Henry} tell the short story we call “The Gift of the Magi”. It is about a young couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. 

Mr. James Dillingham Young (“Jim”) and his wife, Della, are a couple living in a modest apartment. They have only two possessions between them in which they take pride: Della’s beautiful long, flowing hair, almost touching to her knees, and Jim’s shiny gold watch, which had belonged to his father and grandfather.

On Christmas Eve, with only $1.87 in hand, and desperate to find a gift for Jim, Della sells her hair for $20 to a nearby hairdresser named Madame Sofronie, and eventually finds a platinum pocket watch chain for Jim’s watch for $21. Satisfied with the perfect gift for Jim, Della runs home and begins to prepare dinner.

At 7 o’clock, Della sits at a table near the door, waiting for Jim to come home. Unusually late, Jim walks in and immediately stops short at the sight of Della, who had previously prayed that she reamain beautiful in Jim’s eyes without her long hair. Jim is so stunned by Della’s short hair that she admits to Jim that she sold her hair to buy him his present. Jim gives Della her present – an assortment of expensive hair accessories (referred to as “The Combs”), useless now that her hair is short. Della then shows Jim the chain she bought for him, to which Jim says he sold his watch to get the money to buy her combs. Although Jim and Della are now left with gifts that neither one can use, they realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other, and how priceless their love really is.

Nothing conveys love like a sacrifical gift.

I cannot remember my father ever getting a Christmas present while we were growing up. He did later when his children were grown but in the 40’s and 50’s there was not much money in the Bailey household. I was a grown man, 22 years old, before it dawned on me that my parents had made huge sacrifices for me. You still see it today, parents driving an old jalopy while their kids drive new sports car.

When you truly love someone, no sacrifice is too great.

III. THE LAST THING I WANT YOU TO THINK ABOUT IS: THE HIGHEST MOTIVE FOR GIVING

Paul is proding the Corinthians to give the way Christ gave but he is also pointing them to the highest motive in giving.

  • Sometimes we give to get
  • Sometimes we give to be a part of a cause or group
  • Sometimes we give to recieve recognition
  • Sometimes we give under compulsion
  • Sometimes we give begrudgling
  • Sometimes we give because their is a need
  • Sometimes we give because we love

BUT the highest motive is to give because Jesus loves. You see, it is one thing for me to give because I love Jesus but it is another for me to give because Jesus loves me. There is an infinite gap between my love for Him and His love working through me. We are to be driven, compelled by the love of Christ, not our love for Him but His greater love which He imputes to us by grace.

In light of what Christ has done for us: who’s love is greater? I think we overwhelmingly agree that His love for us is greater than our love for Him. 

We must learn as did Peter that it is not our love for HIM but His love for us that drives us, motivates us, satisfies us, encourages us and gives us boldness.

Today, August 24th, is the birth date of one of my old friends. He actually departed this world some ten years ago. I worked along side him when he was a flaming evangelist but he got scared by an ugly divorce and he got out of church completely. He moved away from the place of his birth and in the community that he lived in, a church decided to evanglize him. They had good intentions but made a fatal mistake. They told him they “Loved him” and he called them on it. He said, “You don’t love me because you don’t know me.” He was right. I think he politely asked them to leave. Their mistake was professing to love him when he knew they didn’t. He is right, you can’t love someone you don’t know and if you really love someone, you do all you can to get to know them. If they had said, “JESUS LOVES YOU,” there wouldn’t have been any problem.

I have not had the exact same experience as these visitors but I’ve been close and I learned years ago not to say things you don’t mean or can’t back up. First of all, I seldom visit because I love people, I am not motivated by my love. I visit because Jesus loves people and in the perfect sense. They can question my love and sincerety but most do not question His. There are exception: some people get angry if you tell them Jesus loves you. If gives me greater confidence and boldness to go when I am motivated by His love for me and others, not my love for HIM nor my love for others.

 

 

Giving

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:6-9

6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving.
7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us —I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.
9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty He could make you rich.

INTRODUCTION

There is no question, Paul is still on the subject of giving as indicated in verses 6-7. Giving is a ministry and is actually mentioned as a spiritual gift. Paul said is Romans 12…If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.


Not only is giving a ministry and a gift, it is to be encouraged. Titus encouraged the Corinthians to give. Paul is encouraging them to give. I encourage you to give. Not every one needs to be encouraged in this matter but some do. I make no appology for encouraging people to give because I know the truth about stewardship. No one will come to me in heaven and say, “I wish you had not encouraged me to give.” The greatest gift I could give would be to teach you to give.

With this is mind, I think we see three very discernable points in verses 7-9.

I. FIRST OF ALL THERE IS THE GOAL: TO EXCEL IN THE GRACIOUS ACT OF GIVING [v.7]

Giving is a ministry, a practice, the exercise of a gift and like all other disciplines, it can be improved with practice and work. Our goal should be to excel in the gracious act of giving but to excel at anything, there must be a commitment to excellence. Do you want to become a generous person? Would you like to excel in the matter of giving?

Have you heard of the man who moved men and mountains? Chances are, I have mentioned him before: his name is Robert Gilmore LeTourneau. He is perhaps the most inspiring Christian inventor, businessman and entrepreneur the world has ever seen. A sixth grade dropout, Robert Gilmore “RG” LeTourneau went on to become the leading earth moving machinery manufacturer of his day with plants on 4 continents, more than 300 patents to his name and major contributions to road construction and heavy equipment that forever changed the world.  Most importantly, his contribution to the advancement of the Gospel ranks him among the greatest of Christian Businessmen of all time. Famous for living on 10% of his income and giving 90% to the spread of the Gospel, LeTourneau exemplified what a Christian businessman should be.

I want to ask you an honest and simple question: Do you think RG LeTourneau had a goal in his giving? Do you think he aimed at excellence? Or do you think his giving 90% of his income just happened without any forethought or planning?

Several years ago, I challenged you to set a goal for your annual giving and June and I set a goal for our giving. I don’t remember what our goal was but it was impossible or at least very challenging. I was shocked as the year progressed and the LORD Himself made it possbile for us to reach our goal. The sad thing is: I don’t think we have done it since.

Would you make generous giving a goal in your life?

II. THEN NOTICE THE TEST: TESTING THE GENUINESS OF YOUR LOVE [v.8]

I wouldn’t say that Paul is using pressure but he is putting the Corinthians on the spot. Paul understand the age old truth that you can give without loving but you can’t love without giving. It is utterly impossible. No one geniunely loves who is not willing to give or even sacrifice. I don’t know what it is about people that makes them believe that people can be decieved about their sincerety when they are miserly in their giving.

I use the illustration of a husband/father. No matter how much a man insist that he loves his family, we know that he is lying when he fails to provide. How can a man, a father drive a new truck, wear new clothes, buy a new house when he is not paying his child support? What about a father who goes to court to get child support reduced and lies about his income to get it done? What about a father who refused to pay child support at all and is then has his wages garnished. The support comes but against his will. When his children get grown, and they will, they will find out eventually what he did and didn’t do. It doesn’t matter how many times he says “I love you,” his children know better. Love gives, it does not make excuses.

At least 20 years ago, I went to the East side of the county to preach a revival. The pastor and I were sitting on the first pew. It was a small church and they had a general assembly before breaking into small groups for Sunday School. A laymen dressed in a fine suit stood before us and brought an arousing devotion. When he finished and left the room the pastor said to me, “That is a fine young man. He can do anything. He has only one problem and you would never guess what it is.” I said without hesitation, “He doesn’t tithe.” He said, “How did you know?” “It’s a gift,” I said. But it is really not a gift, it was a calculated guess. I discovered early on that big talkers are often shallow givers. I suppose they talk big to draw the attention away from their spiritual immaturity.

Then some years later, a new family moves into our community and they began coming to our church. Right off the bat, the man ask me, “Am I to tithe the gross or the net?” I told him, “You tithe whatever God puts into your hand.” When he walked off, I assumed he gave. I figured he was a legalistic tither but that he gave.  He did tell me that the previous church had refused to ordain him as a deacon but he never mentioned why. Three years later, I found out that he gave nothing. As a matter of fact, he had contributed $25 in three years. Do I believe this man is sincere? Not on your life! He is as phony as a three dollar bill. I’m not being judgmental, I am stating facts: you prove the sincerety of your love by giving.

I had a man get violently upset with me some years ago because I said, “If you are a giver and a supporter of DBC, I want you to vote on this issue.” He got fighting mad. He said, “You have violated the by-laws.” I tried to reason with him but it made everything worse. I said, “Think of it as a survey, not a vote. To do what we are proposing, we need financial support and we have some none members who are contributors.” He said, “That is all your concerned about isn’t it, you are just like all the other preachers I know, all you care about is catered to those who give.” He left in a rage and has never been back.

He was right about the by-laws but he was wrong about me. I do not cater to money but I have great respect for those who give and none for those who don’t. My lack of respect for those who want to chime in at a business meeting but never give a dime comes from this and other scriptures. Giving is a proof of your love. Not giving is proof that you don’t love. You can bet your last dollar that I will never seek advice from a man who robs God.

III. LAST, LOOK AT THE EXAMPLE: THE GENEROUS GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST [v.9]

When you get on the subject of giving; you always have those who mention tithing as an old testment law. I don’t actually think of it as a law, more of a system of supporting God’s work and an avenue of worship. In Judaism, it was impossible to worship without giving. Their worship was centered around the sacrifical system. You could not worship without an offering. For the poor, it could be turtle doves instead of a lamb but you brought something as an expression of faith and devotion. However, these people who point to tithing as an OT law are full of crock.

Tithing is just a place to start: Jesus taught us to go beyond the law. Jesus was not a tither, Jesus gave it all. I tell them, “Look, you can either tithe or give like Jesus who gave it all.” Quiet literally, JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE WHEN IT COMES TO GIVING.

Jesus gave sacrifically, “Although He was rich, yet for our sakes, He became poor.” He gave up the glory of heaven for a cross of shame. Someone compared the condescension to a man being willing to become a rat to save all the rats but it was a bigger gap than that. It is an infinite gap, one that we can imagine.

A Secure Investment

Scripture: Luke 12:31-34, NLT

31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.
34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

INTRODUCTION

Have you ever played Dirty Santa at a Christmas Party? It is certainly not a game for children. I wouldn’t want to play Dirty Santa with Chloe. Anyway, in Dirty Santa, you don’t necessarily get to keep the gift that you have in your hand or possession, it can be taken from you. It is not secure unless you have owed it two times previously.

……….

Life is like Dirty Santa, people get things and horde them thinking they are going to get to keep them but this is not reality. In Dirty Santa, the only way to make a gift secure is to give it up and it is the same way in life. Those who horde and hang on will lose everything. Nothing is yours, nothing is secure until you give it away.

……….

I think you will agree, most people are living for the little kingdom. Jesus challenge to us all is to give up the little kingdom and embrace God’s Kingdom. As you look at this world in terms of creation, are you not impressed with what God has made. This world you see with your eyes is nothing compared to the next. There are several major differences in the little kingdom and God’s Kingdom. This kingdom here is temporal, it is not going to last and the Kingdom of God is eternal. This kingdom is flawed and cursed by sin. The Kingdom of God is a perfect place. Better than Eden.
A treasure [noun] is something valuable, very special, important, that is hidden or kept in a safe place. It can also be used as a verb, “I treasure my grandchildren.” This means they are very special, important to me. It means I value them highly.

I. EVERYONE HAS A TREASURE {Something the heart is set on}

There is something that is more important to you than anything else. Something that you value more highly than anything else. Think about it! What is it that you cherish most? I hope it is not ALABAMA FOOTBALL, that would be a bad answer. I hope it is not your home, your farm, your property or your savings, this too is a bad answer. If you have a relationship in mind, you are getting warmer but of all your relationships, which do you value most?

My greatest TREASURE is Jesus. Paul said is Colossians 2:3, In Him {Jesus} lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

There is a story of a Roman slave who inherited all of his master’s wealth. When the will was read, the rich Roman nobleman’s son was present and the lawyer read the terms of the will. The son was unmoved because his father left him one thing. He could have any one thing on his father’s estate and so he immediately choose the slave that had inherited all his fathers’s wealth.

II. NOT EVERYONE HAS A TREASURE THEY CAN KEEP

“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.”  [Luke 12:33]

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” [Matthew 6:19]

Thieves, moths, rust, holes in your purse or pocket: these are words that Jesus used to teach us that earthly treasures cannot be maintained.

You can have a treasure here on earth but you can’t keep it.

Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. {James 5:3}

Advantages to a heavenly treasure

  1. It is secure–can’t lose it

  2. It will pay eternal dividends

  3. It allows you to help others while helping yourself

  4. It brings lasting joy

Jesus to the rich young ruler…“Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. [Luke 16:9]