Overwhelming Grace

SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:20-24

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

INTRODUCTION

Today, we come back to the heart of Luke 15 and to the heart of the FATHER. Jesus told this story because the Jews had a twisted view of God. Jesus is trying to convey a truth that the Pharisees and Scribes don’t understand: God is a loving God full of compassion, just like this father WHO OVERWHELMED HIS SON WITH GIFTS OF GRACE.

TRANSITION

Today I want to jump right into the message with no introduction

I. I WANT TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO THE GIVER OF THE GIFTS

  • Yes God the heavenly Father is Holy and He cannot be touched or tempted by sin. Sin must be dealt with. We can’t sweep it under a rug.
  • But He is also good, good to all [this father was good to both sons].
  • He is filled with love and compassion. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. He gets no kick out of the condemnation of a sinner.
  • He longs to forgive, He anxiously awaits our repentance.
  • His heaven rejoices over the repentance of ONE sinner and today, that could be you!
  • He is Gracious and Good, the giver of all good things. We are never more like Him than when we are giving.
  • There is no celebration is heaven today over our good deeds: heaven celebrates when we repent. The Pharisees never brought any joy to Jesus.

II. SECONDLY: THE GIFTS

  1. The RECEPTION…the hug, kiss, the affection and forgiveness
  2. The ROBE…the robe was the best garment in the house, reserved for special guest and dignitaries. Thus the Father is treating his son like a king.
  3. The RING…the ring is a signet ring. It is both a symbol of authority and status. The signet ring was the equivalent to a CREDIT CARD. It had the family crest on it and could be used to purchase property or to consummate a business transaction. It was a big deal.
  4. The SANDALS…Slaves did not wear shoes. This practice is not that ancient. There is an old black spiritual called, “All God’s Children Got Shoes.” You might say the shoes were a symbol of freedom.
  5. The PARTY…The fated calf was reserved for a special occasion. Again, the Father is treating the son as though he had never sinned.

III. THIRDLY: THE GRACE BEHIND THE GIFTS

  • The thing that stunned the Pharisees who are listening to the story is that justice is not served: the boy deserved a beating, not a party.
  • Why would the Father give lavish gifts to a man who was so undeserving?

Understand today: that the Father is this story is our Heavenly Father. When the prodigal came home, he came rehearsing a speech but he never got to finish his speech because his father interrupted him and started giving him gift after gift and not a single gift was deserved. Everything was GRACE. Before the boy can finish his confession, bang, bang, bang, the Father is giving him gifts. The kid had to be OVERWHELMED. He got run over by a truck load of GRACE. He had to be stunned by His father’s kindness. This was not what the boy expected: gift after gift–grace upon grace. I know how the boy feels. TODAY I AM OVERWHELMED BY GOD’S GRACE. I am stunned by HIS INFINITE GOODNESS.

CONCLUSION

I am telling you today, if you will come to the FATHER, the way the younger son came to his father, humble, broken and repentant, confessing your sin…You too will be overwhelmed by His grace. NOTE: the prodigal did not return blaming his older brother or his father but himself.

I read this story many years ago and cannot remember the reference but a woman of renown and prestige decided to join a local church in her city. She thought it would be good for her reputation and her business interest. When she came for membership [during the invitation] she told the pastor, “I want to join this church.” He said, “That is good but first you need assurance of your salvation: have you been saved?” The woman didn’t understand so the pastor said, “Have you repented of your sins and trusted Christ for forgiveness?” This offended the dear lady. “I have no sins to repent of,” she said. The pastor shocked her with these words, “Then, madam, you may as well return to your seat because I cannot help you.” Angry, hurt and embarrassed, she returned to her seat but she was not happy with the outcome. The more she thought about it the more angry she became. So she marched down the aisle for a second time but this time demanding that the pastor present her for membership. Again, he refused and sent her back to her seat. Then a miracle of grace happened, her anger turned to sorrow. The Spirit of God convicted her and she began to weep. She walked the aisle for the third time but this time she told the pastor, “I am a sinner. God has convicted me and I want to repent.” The pastor smiled and said, “Now, I can help you.”

There is nothing anyone can do to help an unrepentant sinner other than pray for them.

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Suffering For Christ’s Sake

1 Peter 2:13-25, NLT 

13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 
14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 
17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. 
18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 
19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 
20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 
24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 
25 Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

NASB

Submit yourselves for the LORD’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him [the king] for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor [not worship] the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good to and gentle, but also those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. WHO [Christ] committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to HIM who judges righteously, and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

INTRODUCTION

In our last message, we talked about submitting to authority. Before the flood, there was no such thing as government. God sent the flood because anarchy was destroying mankind. Noah had no institution or power to protect him or his family. After the flood, God instituted Government. We find this in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” This is the basis of our capital punishment laws. Human life is to be protected by the State.

There are three basic institutions that God has ordained to make life blessed: The FAMILY, the GOVERNMENT and the CHURCH. Everyone of these institution is maintained by authority and order. Families have fathers, Governments have kings and such, and the church has pastors. God leads these ordained institutions through these ordained leaders. You must understand that technically speaking Christ is the head of all three but He leads familes through the father, governments through the kings, presidents or whatever and church through the pastors.

The QUESTION before us tonight: does there come a time when legally and morally, we have a right to rebel against these God ordained authorities? Are we to blindly obey our leaders?

First of all tonight: let’s talk about the things we know for sure…

  1. We know that God has called us to suffer {v.21}…For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. [1] Suffering enhances our witness [2] The key component in our sanctification.
  2. We know that God ordained Authority for the good of mankind. Anarchy is brutal; we do not want anarchy. Anything beats anarchy. {v.14} For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 
  3. We also know that rebellion is most instances is evil. The devil is a rebel. We know for sure, we do not want to rebel against God.
  4. We know that God is not honored when we clammor constantly about our “Rights.” God doesn’t want us to be selfish and always looking our for our best interest. He wants us to deny our personal rights for the benefit of others. God is pleased when we suffer for others sake.

NOW, LET’S ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

  1. Can a husband/father become an abusive bully?
  2. Can a king/govenment become a tyrant? One who enslaves and punishes the righteous.
  3. Can a pastor become a dictator?
  4. Can authority be abused and misused? If so, what are we to do?

NOW, LETS LOOK AT THESE QUESTION IN LIGHT OF OUR PRESENT CULTURE

  1. Paul told the Thessalonians that before Christ returned, there would be an age of REBELLION and sometimes I wonder if we are in it. {II Thes. 23} During this age, there will be a “spirit of lawlessness,” which will produce horror. I don’t think there is any doubt that we see this “spirit of lawlessness” at work today.
  2. Paige Patterson is under attack for telling about a woman he counseled years ago. He advised her to stay with an abusive husband, which she did, and to my knowledge the story had a happy ending, but the press got wind of the story and now Patterson is catching so much heat from the left that he has canceled his speaking engagements.
  3. We know that God doesn’t want us to imulate the spirit of rebellion or to act in the likeness of the antichrist or devil but does this scripture imply that Christians are to take all manor of abuse. Are we do become the doormats of society?
  4. Thomas Jefferson and all our founding father spent hours discussing the tyranny of King George. They understood the gravity of the moment and gave lots of thought and prayer to their decison to revolt. Jefferson said, The two enemies of the people are Criminals and Government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so that the second will not become a legalized version of the first.
  5. These men studied the bible carefully and the last thing they wanted was to rebel against God. Could they rebel against King George without rebelling against God?
  6. They believed that God ordained government in lieu of anarchy: they firmly believed that God opposes anarchy, rebellion, lawlessness and wickedness and that He ordained government to be a terror to the evil doer but a protector of the righteous. So they made a distinction between government and it’s leaders.
  7. How could these men have formed the greatest Republic in the history of mankind had they been anti-government?
  8. They cited scriptual models to support their belief: Moses, Gideon, Ehud, Jepthah, Samson and Deborah…They believed that tyranny can be opposed without one being opposed to government.
  9. The Founding Fathers, all of which were students of scripture clearly believed that they were not in rebellion against God but they were standing up to tyranny and protecting their individual lives and liberty. The bible has always granted man the right to defend himself and his property.
  10. They believed…Rebellion to Tyrants was obedience to God. Of course to the British, we are rebels just as we are referred to as rebels by our catholic friends. You will not hear an old school Catholic use the term Reformation, they will always use the word Rebellion.

CONCLUSION

So how do we conclude. Jesus gave his life voluntarily but He gave protection to His disciples at the same time. He even told them to arm themselves {Luke 22:36}…And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. If you have the grace to suffer redemptively and you choose to do so, I have no problem, only admiration. My problem comes when we do not give protection to those around us and for those who do not have the stamina to endure abuse without it destroying their soul.

Lostness

Scripture: Luke 15:1-10, NLT

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 
2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! 
3 So Jesus told them this story: 
4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 
5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 
6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 
7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! 
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 
9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 
10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” 

INTRODUCTION

The Key to understanding Luke 15 is found in the first two verses: Jesus loved sinners, He even ate with them and this infuriated the Jewish Religious Establishment. These Jewish Religious Leaders believed that God hated sinners and could not wait to punish them. Jesus was God and yet He loved sinners; He came to seek and to save the LOST [Luke 19:10]. To reinforce this truth, that God loves sinners and wants to save them, not condemn them, Jesus told three stories. 

Transition

Today we are going to look at what these stories have in common. There are four things that each story has in common:
  1. In each story, something or someone is LOST. [Sheep, Coin, Son]
  2. In each story, that which is lost has VALUE. [Livestock, Money, Person]
  3. In each story, there is someone who CARES about the lost. [Shepherd, Woman, Father]
  4. In each story, there is a CELEBRATION once the lost are recovered.

We will cover number 4 in a later message: today we are going to focus on the first three AND we are going to combine 2-3 which means our sermon has two major points

I. IN EACH STORY SOMETHING IS LOST

  1. First, there is a lost SHEEP.
    • How did the sheep get lost? {Sheep wandered or just took its focus off of the shepherd. The sheep went astray {Isaiah 56:3}
    • What did it mean for the sheep to be lost? The sheep was more than disoriented, more than separated from the shepherd and flock, the sheep was in a POSITION OF PERIL or extreme danger. {Hell and Judgment}
  2. There is the lost COIN.
    • How did the coin get lost? It is an inantimate object, it could not lose itself. It was lost due to human carelessness, human error.
    • The coin did nothing to get lost. {David in Psalm 51:5, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. NLT,  I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 
    • What do you have to do to be lost? Nothing, it is our default setting. We are lost due to human errror, the error of our grandparents Adam and Eve.
  3. The Lost SON. The Sheep probably wandered, the coin was a victim of human error but the Son was lost because he chose to be lost.
    • There are those who are like the sheep: they know they are lost but they have no idea how to be found. They feel afraid and helpless. They long for the Shepherd to find them.
    • There are some like the coin, they don’t even know they are lost. They need a revelation, a light.
    • There are those like the Son, they are lost, they know they are lost and they have no intention of repenting because they are dead set in living life their way even if that means living in rebellion against God.

II. IN EACH STORY, THE LOST HAS VALUE TO SOMEONE IS PARTICULAR

  1. The lost Sheep has a caring Shepherd. I’m sure you may have noticed the progression: livestock, money, people. The sheep was probably worth about $20, the coin $100 and the Son of course priceless. The sheep might not be that valuable to some but to the shepherd, he was highly valued. {My daddy and his cows}
  2. Coins have little value today but in ancient times, all money was in coins. Even we in America once had valuable coins like a $20 gold piece. So we are not talking about a quarter or a dime. Think of it as a hundred dollar bill. How many of you womem, would turn on the lights and search for a $100 bill?
  3. Then there is the lost Son. Now we are talking about a human being created in God’s image. You cannot put a price tag on a human. This story has a strange twist to it, the FATHER, who we loved the son more than the Shepherd loved the sheep or the woman the coin, did not go in search of His Son. Why? Did he not care? We can coherse fear, we can make someone fear us but we cannot make another human being love us. The Father allowed his son to rebel, to show disrespect, to go to a far country. But he was always at home, waiting, praying, watching for his son’s return.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter why you are lost or who’s fault it is: what matter is that you be found. Since you are a human being, you have to decide for yourself, you have to repent and turn from your selfish ways just like the prodigal. God is the LOVING FATHER who waits for your return.

We know that God is holy, He revealed Himself to Moses as the Holy God, A consuming fire and in CHRIST we have a greater revelation: God is LOVE. You may think He cannot be both but He is can and is: He hates sin but He loves sinners. THIS IS THE GOSPEL TRUTH.

I want to close with a story about Beth. She was a little 8 year old girl in our WEE Care program and she was acting out to the point that all the worker were frustrated and exasperated. They brought Beth to me to see if I could help; she was one strike away from being expelled. It took me a while to get Beth to open up but finally she told me about the fear she had and I am sure this fear was the motivation of her misbehavior. Beth father had abandoned them when she was six; leaving her, her 4 year old brother and her mom. Beth got up one morning and he was there and she had not seen him since. Her mom was very young; she had children before she was mature enough to be a parent. She was also lonely and she had been inviting male friends to their trailor. Beth was horrified by the prospects. She told me, “I’m afraid me and my brother will wake up one morning and mom will be gone just like dad.” Beth was a beautiful little girl but she acted like a beast and no one wanted to be around her: what was I to tell this 8 year old child. I tried to reassure Beth of her Mothers love but then I told Beth–“I can guarantee you that you are loved unconditionally by Jesus and He will never abandon you.” I wish I could have guaranteed her Mother’s love but I couldn’t but I could guarantee the love of Jesus. He loves you, He died for you and He longs to be your best friend. Would you repent of your sin today and trust Him as your Savior.

Under Suspicion

Scripture: I Peter 2:11-17

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners {1and pilgrims {2}, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 
12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 
14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men– 
16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 
17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 
  1. Paroikos–a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship; a none citizen. From another people.
  2. Parepidēmos–one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives. A sojourner, stranger,  or foreigner. From another country.

INTRODUCTION

In this passage, Peter reminds his readers that they are STRANGERS and FORIEGNERS to the pagan who live around them. The two words Peter uses are very similiar: one means “not from our house or people” and the other means “not from our country.” The point is clear: As followers of Christ, we do not fit into the culture. We are different; our values are different. Our sights are set on heaven but the world doesn’t think beyond the present world system. 


This means, we live under constant scrutiny. We are under suspicion. The world thinks we are weird. It’s like the story Vance Havner use to tell…A man went in to see a phycharitrist, he had his head tilted back with a strip of bacon drapped across each ear and a poched egg on his face. He said to the shrink…”I came to see you about my wife.” He had a few problems himself. The world thinks we are weird, that we have problems; they don’t realize, they have a few problems themselves.

Living in a pagan environment is always toughIn light of this problem: Peter gives them some admonitions…

I. ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUST

Neither ‘flesh’ or ‘lust’ have a good ring and when you put them together, they sound even worse. David Walls {Holman Commentary} believes that Peter is not speaking about sensual lust primarily but about selfishness in general. Since I am a man, I think sensual first but he has a point. Walls says, “Sinful desires {fleshly lust} is best understood as strong desires motivated by our selfishness.” We are talking about any desire that is contrary to the will of God.


There are two reasons for abstaining: First we must maintain our witness before unbelievers and second; we must Protect our souls. These fleshly lust or worldly desires are enemies to the soul and the reason Peter uses the word ‘war’ is that these desires are constantly attacking our minds. The Greek word that Peter uses in reference to this war is strateuō from which we get our word ‘strategy.” It is all apart of the devil strategy.


Paul speaks about this in Galatians 5:17… For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposiiton to one another, so that you may not do the things you please.

II. MAINTAIN HONORABLE CONDUCT

Peter knew that they would speak against the Christians and our best defense is an honorable life that Glorifies Christ.


 If you think being a Christian is hard these days, you should go back to the first century. Christianity was new and very misunderstood. It was not considered a religion, not a legitimate one anyway. It was considered a cult or a sect. For years it was treated as a “sect” of Judaism until folks figured out the truth. You know how it is when something new is birthed and people don’t understand it: they come up with all kinds of crazy accusations and this was the case for the believers in Northern Asia Minor. They were being accused of being:

  1. Canibals because of the LORD’s supper
  2. Ungodly because they had no idols
  3. Anarchist because they claimed that Jesus was LORD

The main criticism of the Christians was that they were anti-government. Since they gave alleigence to Jesus their KING {LORD}, they were accused of being trouble makers, anarchist and disrespectful to authority. Peter admonished them to submit to the civil authorities.


Actually the criticism was completely unfounded as the primary principle of the Christian faith is to submit to authority beginning with Christ. No one should be better at submitting to authority than Christians. Christianity is not a license to rebel or to do as we please. 


We are to submit to authority so long as we are not ordered to do something immoral or contrary to the law of God. God has established authority for the orderly function of human life. [Illustration: sports–without rules and the enforcement of rules, you do not have a game]

III. WE CANNOT USE OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY AS A CLOAK FOR VICE

As Christians, we are free, no one has more liberty than a follower of Christ:

  1. We have freedom from the domineering power of sin: we may sin, but we don’t have to, we have the freedom and the power to say no.
  2. We are free from the penalty of sin, free of guilt because we have been forgiven.
  3. We are free from the anxiety and frustration of trying to fulfill the laws demands.  Free from the lawO happy condition, Jesus has bled and there is remission, Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Christ {Grace} hath redeemed us once for all.

BUT we are not free to do as we please and then claim grace. Grace is not abstract. It is not something out there, grace is within us. If we have been born again, grace is at work in us, giving us the desire to please God. Grace is not a cloak that covers our rebellion; it is not a rabbits foot.

Peter says in 2:16…Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

No issue is more misunderstood today than slavery. No culture on the planet misunerstands it more than spoiled Americans. Do you know what it is like to starve, to be without shelter or clothing? No you don’t. In the Roman Empire, one third of the people were slaves and they were not black. Some were black but the majority were not. The Romans enslaved all whom they captured. Human trafficing was big business and Joseph is proof of the pudding. Daniel and Nehemiah were also slaves. The British enslaved the Scotts for hunderds of years. Slavey is not a black/white issue and those who think it is are ignorant of world history.

In the ancient world, desperate people often attacked themselves to wealthy people who could provide their common needs. Of course, no one in their right mind would choose a cruel man to be their master but it was common for people to voluntarily attack themselves to good masters. These people were known as bondslaves.

Paul considered himself a bondslave to Jesus Christ. Oswald Chambers in MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST said, “The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign my own rights away and become a bondslave of Jesus Christ.” When I speak of giving your life to Christ, I mean it literally.

The Spiritual House

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4-10

4 And coming to Him as to a Living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 
5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood., to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 
6 For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a CHOICE STONE, a PRECIOUS CORNER STONE, and he who believes is HIM will not be disappointed.” 
7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but those who disbelieve, “The STONE which the builders rejected, this became the very conrner stone,” 
8 and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they STUMBLE because they are disobedient to the WORD, and to this doom they were also appointed. 
9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSON, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light
10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

INTRODUCTION

Last week we talked about “Spiritual Growth” of the individual member within the body of Christ. We used Paul’s analogy of the church as a body taken from Romans 12…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. So the church is a body, an organism, not merely an organization. Tonight, we continue with Peter’s analogy of the church as a ‘Building’ made up of ‘living stones’.

Not all of us are builders but most of us are familiar with the different aspects of a building. I guess we could start with DESIGN.

I. DESIGN {Plan and Purpose}

  1. I have a small office building, it was designed to be a place of retreat, study and prayer. This is the purpose of the building. Why build a building if there is no purpose? When we think about DESIGN, we think about an architect and a blue print. Before you begin any building, you need a plan or a blue print. This message will sound redundant but let me tell you that JESUS IS THE ARCHITECT of this Spiritual House that Peter is referring to. He has the plan. You might say, HE IS THE PLAN. But we do have clear building instructions in the WORD OF GOD. Notice Peter’s emphasis on the ‘word.’ [2:6,8] Just as the “Word of God” is vital to our spiritual growth as individuals, it is vital to the growth of God’s Spiritual House. [Illustration: Dr. Wiersbe tells of a contractor who got to the building site to build a two story house. As he and his workers began the contruction, they noticed the local lumber yard had sent the wrong materials. Nothing was working according to plan. What they discovered later was that the contractor had been given the wrong blue print. Once they got the plan right, the contruction went perfectly]
  2. The DESIGN fits the PURPOSE of the building. Note what Peter says in verse 5, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood., to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The OT Jewish Priest needed a Temple or Tabernacle. This was the place that they offered up sacrifices which was the key to O.T. worship. In the NT, every believer is a priest which is what Peter is referring to in verse 9 {Royal Priesthood}. In the O.T. you had to be a descendant of Aaron to be a priest but in the New Covenant, every believer is a priest. This speaks of two things: {1} Wonderful Priviledge– we can approach the throne of grace anything day or night because Christ has become our High Priest and He has conferred upon us the right to approach. {2} Awesome Responsibility–Like the O.T. Priest, we are to minister {1} To God and {2} to others. We are to offer up sacrifices but unlike the O.T. sacrifices, our sacrifices are spiritual. The bible gives us our INSTRUCTIONS in Hebrews 13:15-16, NASB…
15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Four Spiritual Sacrifices are mentioned here: [1] Praise “fruit of the lips” [2] Thanksgiving [Psalm 116:17] [3] Good Deeds [4] Sharing.

III. THE MATERIALS

This is the amazing thing: That Christ could design the building is no stretch but to think that He is building this spiritual house out of you and I is flabbergasting. The LIVING STONE is building this house out of living stones. There is only one qualification: that we beleive in HIM the Cornerstone.

CHRIST is the CORNER STONE and He is choice and precious to God. He was rejected by men but CHOSEN OF GOD. No true believer will argue with this statement. CHRIST IS PRECIOUS and His blood was precious. Jesus is the Priceless Pearl, worth more than all other possessions but what about YOU AND I? What kind of material are we?

[1] We too our chosen…[v.9] But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSON, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

[2] We too our precious…[v.7] This precious value, then, is for you who believe.

  • Yes, we were dead in trespasses and sin and He quickened us an made us alive by His grace.
  • Yes, it was He who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light by His grace: yea, everything that we have in Christ is by grace..
  • BUT the fact that we are HIS POSSESSION is what gives us worth. 
  • Michael Jordon’s old tennis shoes are worth more than my IRA. I wish I could sale my old tennis shoes to the highest bidder but no one would bid on my old shoes. They will his because he owed them.
  • Winston Churchills old desk will bring millions: why, because it was his possession. The Possesser makes something precious.
  • I still have an old shirt that belonged to my father and I still wear it, I may be buried in it. Why is it precious? There is not another one like; that I guarantee. It is precious to me because it belonged to him. To others it would be a rag.

III. THE BUILDER

I said at the very beginning that CHRIST IS EVERYTHING. He is the FOUNDATION STONE, the CORNER STONE and the CAPSTONE. He is the founder of the church, the C.E.O. of the church, the archtitech of the church, the life of the church and you might know, the BUILDER OF THE CHURCH.

Remember what He said to Peter…I also say to you that you are Peter [a stone], and upon this Rock [Jesus Himself] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades willnot overpower it.”

He made it rather clear, “I will build My church on Myself and not even hell can stop me.” [1] If Jesus was not God, this would be the statement of a lunatic. [2] He is the builder. Psalm 118:22-23…The stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief corner stone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. That takes a lot of pressure off of us, doesn’t it. Jesus said, “I will build My Church…and not even hell will stop Me.”

CONCLUSION

I surrendered to the minstry at age 19…I came to Danville Baptist church 10 years later. I was frustrated, discouraged and wondering seriously if God had called me to be a pastor. I knew He had called me to preach and to be a witness. By this time in my life, Evangelism was out of the picture for lack of gifts and opts. I was pursuing a life in mission and dealing with the IMB. Church work was irritating and frustrating and I knew there had to be something better. Then I got a hold of a little book called KINGDOM PRINCIPLES and through that book, God revealed to me the simple truth that I have taught you tonight: Jesus will build His church. He never intended for me to build His church. This truth took a huge weight off my shoulders: I turned in my constractors license and went to work as a laborer. O what a change this one truth made in my life.

 

Spiritual Growth

Scripture Text: I Peter 1:22-2:8

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 
23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 
24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
 
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all [slander] evil speaking, 
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby
3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 

INTRODUCTION

The key verse for tonights message is verse 2…as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. Peter is addressing a subject that is very important to believers and to the church: that is “Spiritual Growth.” Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest but he did not have immediate success. He failed on several attempts and even lost five of his men. Parliament decided to recognize his accomplishment or his effort and it made him angry. They placed a picture of Mount Everest in the chambers and invited Hillary in: he slammed his fist against the picture and said in a loud voice, “You defeated me! But you won’t defeat me again because you have grown all you can and I am still growing.” This is a good question for all believers to ask themselves “Am I still growing spiritually?” Should you as a believer be concerned about your spiritual growth?

The CHURCH is more than an ORGANIZATION, it is an ORGINISM, a body and it works like the human body. The church is made up of many members but they all belong to one body. The body has fingers, toes, ears, eyes, hands, feet and a number of vital organs. They are all uniquely different but they are a part of one body. So tonight, we want to talk for a moment about spiritual growth and its affect on individual members within the body.

First of all, I want to talk about…

I. THE NEED FOR GROWTH…

Peter begins this section by talking about our “Spiritual Birth,” [v.23] “Having been born again.” Then in chapter 2, verse 2 he brings up the subject again, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” Birth implies many things: first and perhaps foremost, it means we have a FATHER. Secondly, it means we are part of a FAMILY. Third, it means we a FOSTER care system. To foster is to encouragepromotestimulateadvanceforwardcultivatenurturestrengthen, or enrich. As you see, a foster parent has many responsibilities.


It is a given that a baby needs nurture. Babies need love and care. Then when they become totlers, they need training. As they grow older, they need discipline and education. We have a serious problem in America. We have millions of children who are not getting the nurture, love and discipline they desperately need. Children must have help in the maturing process. So if a child is to grow and mature, they need NURTURE. So do believers: we need nurture.

II. THE NEED FOR NOURISHMENT

Peter has a lot to say in the passage about the word of God, [v.23] “the word of God which lives and abides forever.” We have the word of God in two forms: the written word and the Living word. Every born again believer should have an incessionable appetite for the word of God. Just like a baby constantly cries for milk, we should long for the word. No believer will grow spiritually a part from the word of God. If you stop eating, you will stop growing. Your cells will stop reproducing and you will dry up and die. The body must have nourishment and the same is true of our spirit. I can give you plenty of milk [previously digested food] but I cannot give you meat. You have to get that in your personal bible study. You see, I have been chewing on this passage for months and especially for the last two weeks. I have ingested and digested and now I share with you but for you it is milk, for me it was meat, I had to chew on it for a while.

III. THE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF GROWTH

A body grows together. The hand does not grow and the feet remain tiny. We would be a freak if the head grew but the rest of the body remained infantile. This is a point that many do not grasp. We have a lot of folks, SUPER SAINTS, who read books, attend conferences and zero in on their own personal spiritual growth to the neglect of the rest of the body. The result is a lot of head knowledge that puffs them up. Paul said in I Corinthians 8:1, Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies, and he is exactly right. There is nothing in the NT that teaches us to grow a part from the body. We are to have a mutual concern for each others spiritual progress.


Peter and Paul are on the same page: what Peter is teaching in this section has to do with the atmosphere for spiritual growth. [1] Yes, we must have the right nourishment [Word of God] but we also need [2] the right atmosphere. You don’t grow tomatoes on the North Pole. Matter of fact, you don’t grow them in Alaska–it is too cold. Tomatoes have to have a warm climate and okra more so. In the mountains of Guatemala, you can raise every vegetable known to man except Okra. Although they never have frost, it gets in to the 50’s at night and okra has to have warm nights.
The THEREFORE in 2:1 is Peter’s transition to the atmosphere needed for young believers to grow. He says, lay aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking. The NASB makes one slight change: Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. All five of these things have something in common. See if you can figure out what it is as I share definitions.
  • Malice means ill will or the desire to hurt or injure. Malicious words are those intended to harm another person. Swindoll says it is the spirit that is entrenched in the world system
  • Deceit means craft, guile, cunning, treachery.
  • Hypocrisy means literally to wear two faces. It is a word used in reference to play actors. One actor could play more than one part because they wore mask. Acting was not a popular art in biblical times.
  • Envy is inappropriate jealously. I was reading somewhere the other day and I did not make a note and now I can’t find my source, but one of the Catholic Popes said, “I have heard thousands of confessions but never one confession of envy.” Some 25 years ago I preached a sermon on JEALOUSY which is ENVY’S twin sister and I said the same thing about jealously…I had never heard it confessed. One woman came by me after the service and said rather briskly, “I’m jealous and I confessed it.”
  • Slander is a compound word which literally means evil speech. Slanders relatives are gossip, talebaring, backbitting and of course bearing false witness. Slander can be a false statment about another persons character that is based on a hunch, assumption, or a feeling. I get real aggrivated at myself for making statements based on my assumptions. I saw this acrostic on the internet and I am going to try to use it.

Now what do these five things have in common? They are things that destroy the fellowship of a church. Things that make a church an unhealthy atmosphere for growth. These things are all anti-spiritual growth.

JUST AS A CHILD NEEDS A NURTURING FAMILY: BELIEVERS NEED A NURTURING CHURCH

We need a warm atmosphere to grow believers. This is what Peter is encouraging…go back to verse 22 and we will see the requirement for creating a warm fellowship for growth. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…

  1. We need a Spirit of obedience. The body has only one head and its not me and it aint you. It is JESUS. He is the boss and He knows what to do. [Matthew 16:18] “I also say to you that you are Peter {petros, stone} and upon this rock [petra, boulder or huge stone] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. The key to church unity is for everyone to obey the HEAD.
  2. We need Purity of Soul. The number one problem in churches is the “Hidden Agenda.” Someone trying to impose their will on the majority by the use of deceit. We have to get our motives right and sometimes that takes the furnace of affliction.
  3. We need Sincere Love. Not fake fellowship but sincere love.
  4. We need a Fervent Love. A fervent love is an earnest and intense love. Dr. Wiersbe says, “It is a love that seeks the best for others; it gives rather than takes. It promotes rather than manipulates.”

Growing Old Gracefully

Scripture Text: 2 Samuel 19:31-39, NLT

31 Barzillai of Gilead had come down from Rogelim to escort the king across the Jordan. 
32 He was very old—eighty years of age—and very wealthy [NASB ‘great’]. He was the one who had provided food for the king during his stay in Mahanaim. 
33 “Come across with me and live in Jerusalem,” the king said to Barzillai. “I will take care of you there.” 
34 “No,” he replied, “I am far too old to go with the king to Jerusalem. 
35 I am eighty years old today, and I can no longer enjoy anything. Food and wine are no longer tasty, and I cannot hear the singers as they sing. I would only be a burden to my lord the king. 
36 Just to go across the Jordan River with the king is all the honor I need! 
37 Then let me return again to die in my own town, where my father and mother are buried. But here is your servant, my son Kimham. Let him go with my lord the king and receive whatever you want to give him.” 
38 “Good,” the king agreed. “Kimham will go with me, and I will help him in any way you would like. And I will do for you anything you want.” 
39 So all the people crossed the Jordan with the king. After David had blessed Barzillai and kissed him, Barzillai returned to his own home. 

Introduction

I want to speak to you today on the subject, GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY. Least you feel that the subject does not apply, let me gently remind you that we are all growing old or at least older. But I must confess that I am speaking with Senior Adults in mind. I have no problem admitting that I am a Senior Adult and I do not understand for the life of me why some people are offended by the term. Some 30 years ago, Dian and I started a Senior Adult luncheon at the old church and we had the same problem then as we do now, we had folks in their 70’s and 80’s who would not come. I asked one lady why she did not come and she said, “I am not a Senior Adult.” That’s like me saying, I am not fat, this [pat my belly] is just fluid. Adults at Danville never promote in Sunday School, never, or not in the last 40 years. Charles class was the young married when we came her and Jerry’s class was the middle adults. No one out of either class promotes, we just changed the name on the door. If you are 75, you are 75 no matter what class you go in. Eighty years old is eighty years old even if we put you in the nursery.


Transition: Seniors, we need a good roll model to follow and we find a good in the Old Testament–2 Samuel 19…the story of Barzillai, the Ironman, a highlander from the hills of Gilead and the little village of Rogelim. These highlanders were noted for loyalty, courtesy, hospitality and a passionate love of the hill country.

Verse 32 says…He was very old—eighty years of age—and very wealthy [NASB ‘great’]. The Hebrew word is ‘ga-dole’ and it means to be large in size, power, influence and character. It is the same word that is used in Genesis 1:16 in reference to the sun and moon–two great lights.

Barzillai was great man… 

I. HE WAS GREAT IN TERMS OF WEALTH AND GENEROSITY

You cannot do what Barzillai did without great wealth. In the last part of chapter 17, the bible tells us that when David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted…by three noblemen…and Barzillai was one of the three. These men took care of David and his entire household. They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, butter, sheep, goats, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, “You must all be very hungry and tired and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness.”


Few of us have the resources to provide for a king but Barzillai had great wealth and he was very generous. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:28, He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. The father in the Prodigal Son is our model and what did he do with his wealth? He shared it!


Note Barzillai’s answer to David in verse 34, “No, I am far too old to go” but he was not too old to give. One of the greatest blessing of being a Senior Adult is that I have more time and money to give.

II. HE WAS A MAN OF GREAT LOYALTY

Barzillai was not from the Tribe of Judah, he lived in Gilead. Most Israelites treated the transjordan tribes like step children. I am absolutely amazed at this Highlander’s loyalty to David. Barzillai was a KINGDOM MAN. He put the Kingdom of Israel before his own interest. Jesus taught us to “Seek His kingdom first,” and Barzillai is a good example. At a time when David’s popularity had reached an all time low, Barzillai stood with his king. Who knows what would have happened to David had it not been for people like Barzillai. We know one, David was very grateful for what Barzillai had done for the kingdom.

III. HE WAS A MAN OF GREAT COURAGE

Chapter 17 tells us that Absalom’s army was already camped in the land of Gilead. The odds were heavily against David. At a time when most men would have been trying to protect themselves, Barzillai took the risk of giving the king sanctuary and supplies. Who knows, this man’s kindness may have made the difference. We know this; Barzillai was not thinking about himself, he literally stuck his neck out for David. If you have a friend like Barzillai, you are rich indeed.

III. HE WAS A MAN OF GREAT WISDOM

  1. He had the wisdom to say no…”I’m too old to go.”
  2. He had the wisdom to realize his limitations. He knew he could not do things he once did:
    • Couldn’t enjoy his food
    • Couldn’t hear the voices of singers
    • Didn’t want to be a burden to David…afraid he could not pull his own weight.
    • It is not sad to be a Senior Adult, what’s bad is to be one and not honest enough to admit it. Like 70 year olds buying a sports car, a convertible on top of that, one of these jobs that sits about 8 inches above the pavement. Or one of these 75 year old women wearing short-shorts.
  3. He had enough wisdom to retire. He passed the paton to his son Kimham. He said I am too old to go but not too old to send someone in my place.

Seniors, this is what we need most–wisdom. We need to know when to give and when not to give. We need to know when to go and when not to go. We need to know when it’s time to step aside and pass the torch to someone more capable. This is becoming a sad reality…some people do not know when to quit.

Let me give you two examples: I saw an 84 year old man trying to call a baseball game the other night and he got so confused that he was calling folks out with two strikes and walking them on ball three. When someone corrected him, he got aggitated. It was embarassing for everyone. The best example of not knowing when to quit, is John McCain. He should have retired after losing the election in 2008. At one time, he was nick named John Wayne McCain but that is not how he will be remembered. He will be remembered as petty, vain and a sore loser. He destroyed his own legacy by staying too long.

Seniors, don’t quit living, don’t quit giving but don’t be a hindrance to the next generation. I love retirement, I am busier than I’ve ever been. June and I have put 30,000 miles on an 11 month old Honda and 4 month old truck. We are on track to do 40,000 plus in a year. I love being out of the decision making process. Let the young folks make the decisions because they are going to do most of the work but that doesn’t mean we are to quit ministry. We can give, pray and encourage. We may not be able to go but we can send someone in our place.

There are two kinds of senior adults: the kind and the wrong kind. Actually, it is the bitter and cynical and the happy and supportive.

Glory To God

Scripture: Psalms 143, NLT

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD ; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. 
2 Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. 
3 My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. 
4 I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. 
5 I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. 
6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Interlude 
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. 
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD ; I run to you to hide me. 
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. 
11 For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. 
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Introduction

This is a Psalm of David, written while he was hiding from Saul in either the cave at Adullam or the one at En Gedi. David is being forced to live like a fugitive, like a criminal who has broken the law. He is in a dark place. He feels lonely, depressed and at times paralyzed with fear. Our of the darkness of this experience, he writes this beautiful Psalm that has blessed millions. I am absolutely amazed at the incredible things God did through this flawed man. What a Psalm!
Transition
We have divided the Psalm into four sections:

I. DAVID’S CONFESSION

[v.1-2] Hear my prayer, O LORD ; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. 
  • This is the seventh and last of the penitential psalms [6,32,38,51,102,130]
  • David’s confession here is brief [v.2] Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. It is an acknowledgement that David, like all men, has fallen short of the glory of God. David was a sinner and he knew it.
  • The GOOD NEWS is that God loves sinners and He uses them. Elisebeth Elliot says, “Who else does he have, since all are sinners.”
  • Secondly, David confesses the basis of his faith, of his relationship with God. David prayed, “Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.” The priviledge of prayer come via the righteousness of Christ. Paul said in Epheisans 2… But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ… 
    For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 
    • Prayer is based on the righteousness of Christ
    • Salavation is based on the righteousness of Christ

II. DAVID’S CIRCUMSTANCES

David’s circumstances were not ideal to say the least. He is was living in a dark musty damp cave.

 My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.  I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. 
I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. 
  • David was in a fix due to Saul’s anger and hatred: David was innocent. He had not done anything deserving of death.
  • David had been knocked down to the ground: Saul had taken his rank and his riches. David had nothing. 
  • Saul forced David to live this way: this is not a choice for David. If David does not hide from Saul, he will be killed.
  • God uses difficult situation and people to hone and polish us. God uses people. He has always used people: [1] Imperfect people [2] Hateful people [Saul] [3] Crazy people [Saul] and obedient people.
  • One way are the other, God is going to use you for His glory but it is best for you to be obedient. God will get glory either way but you will benefit more by being obedient. Your happiness is directly linked to your obedience.

III. DAVID’S CRY

6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. 
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 
  • Desperate circumstances call for desperate prayer. David is crying out to God like a dry thirsty land cries out for rain.
  • David feels like he is in a life threatening situation. If God does not come through for David, he is history.
  • David is depressed and he feels that his depression is getting worse: he cries out for help and hope.
  • All of God’s servants get depressed from time to time. Job, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and even John the Baptist all got depressed. The only people who do not get depressed are those who never do anything. We have an entire population of professing believers who have never fired a shot. Like Saul, they are hiding among the baggage. They are passive, do-nothing Christians who live in the saftey of their comfort zone. There is not much danger of getting wounded when you stay in retreat mode.

IV. DAVID’S CONCLUSION

8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. 
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD ; I run to you to hide me. 
  • The thing that kept David going was God’s grace, His unconditional love. God’s love is based on His character, who He is not what we are or what we have done. God’s love is 100% Grace.

The Good Samaritan

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37, NIV

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 
27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 
31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 
33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 
34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 
35 The next day he took out two denariiand gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

INTRODUCTION

Everyone loves stories and Jesus was the master at story telling. Luke records at least four stories that are not found in the other gospels: The Good Samaritan, the Rich Fool, The Prodigal Son and the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Story of the Prodigal is the most renown in all the world and the story of the Good Samaritan is not far behind. Everyone knows what it means to be a good Samaritan. There are hospitals name GOOD SAMARITAN. Franklin Graham relief organization is the SAMARITAN PURSE.


This is a simple story with a simple meaning. Origen, the Catholic scholar, interpreted it as an alegory but it is not an alegory. It is a simple story that even a lost man can understand. Jesus told it for the benefit of a Jewish Lawyer who was lost in religion. This story is a favorite for the left because they think Jesus was advocating socialism and the distribution of wealth but nothing could be further from the truth.


A very simple way to understand the story is to see the four groups or four kinds of people involved:

  1. There is the man who fell among robbers–he is the victim
  2. There are the robbers or thieves–they represent the villians
  3. There are the religious leaders, priest and Levite–the apathetic
  4. There is the Good Samaritan–the compassionate

The story center around the victim, the man beaten and left to die and how the other three respond. In their response, we see three philosophies of life.

I. THE ROBBERS–WHAT YOURS IS MINE AND I AM GOING TO TAKE IT

In spite of what our friends say on the left, there is evil in this world and there are vicious people out there who will do you bodily harm. One liberal said, “The problem here is not the crime, it is the deeper social ills behind the crime. We must uncover and dig out the roots of social injustice that made these men steal. There is a Greek word for this thinking…Balogna. These men were not stealing in order to feed their starving families and I can prove it. Look at verse 30… A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A man is singular, robbers or thieves is plural. There was more than one robber. Thieves and robbers have always run in packs so they over powered this man. Had robbery been their only motive, they would have tied him up and left him but not only did they strip him, they beat him and left him to die.


Folks, I don’t care what the liberals say, there are mean, evil and violent people in our world and they will hurt you for their own sick pleasure. Are we so niave to think that criminals are concerned about hurting others. First of all, being robbed is painful but being beaten half to death is worse.


A liberal was debating Dr. Jerry Falwell on national TV. He told Dr. Falwell there was no such thing as evil and that men are not depraved. Dr. Falwell asked him, “Do you have locks on your doors at home?” The lib said, “Yes, of course I do.” Dr. Falwell said, “Then you must believe in evil, why else would you lock your door.”

II. THE PREIST AND LEVITE–WHAT MINE IS MINE AND I AM GOING TO KEEP IT

Sad to say, both of these men were church men and probably on their way to the temple. Priest were the religious leaders of the day, the descendants of Aaron. They were your teachers and worship leaders. The Levites were the temple care takers. Both were involved in the activities of the church. Both should have been concerned about the hurting man but both passed by indifferently. The priest barely slowed his pace. The Levite did go closer for a better look but he too, hurried off to church.


There is an old adage–put a mouse in front of a cat and you will find out if you’ve got a cat. Put a hurting person in front of a Christian and you will find out if you have a Christian. As Christians, we are supposed to care.


I want you to picture the victim as he lies beside the road in his own blood. He may be semi-conscience but he is dying. The beating and the lose of blood have taken its toll. Without intervention, he will die. What if his eyes were open, like when they do a root canal: you can see and hear but can’t move. What if he saw the priest out of the corner of his eye or the Levite. He was bound to think…help is coming but they looked and passed on by.


Have you ever had your heart broken? Perhaps you suffered through a painful divorce. Maybe you were the rejected one. When the people who are supposed to love us and care for us don’t care, it hurts. 


Hurting people want help but they don’t want to be exposed. The man was laying there naked; they had taken his clothes. He was lying in his blood and shame. He wanted help but he did not want to become a spectule or a side show. Let me tell you what can hurt worse than the clubs of the robbers, the indifference of those who are supposed to care.

III. THE GOOD SAMARITAN–WHAT IS MINE IS YOURS AND I AM GOING TO SHARE IT

Folks, the key to abundant living is good stewardship. Paul told the Ephesians in 4:28,  He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who is in need. Jesus said in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Let me give you the JEV…Life is a lot more fun when you are on the giving end rather than the recieving end. I had much rather be Santa as the kid.


Ministry always involves a sharing of resources and the Good Samaritan was lavish in his ministry. He used his time, his energy, his resources [oil, wine, animal] and his money to help this hurting man. He has no concern for the cost or for being reimbursed for his expenses.


If you go back up to verse 2 in this chapter, Jesus says, “The harvest is truely great but the laborers are few.” The harvest is great, it is just not the harvest we envision. We are looking for folks who are hungry for the gospel and want to be saved: these folks are hard to find but there is a harvest…the fields are littered with hurting people. They are everywhere. Hardy a days goes by that I don’t encounter a hurting person.


The time to express the love of Christ for our friends and relatives is when they are down. This man was lying there helpless–he was open to someone lending a hand.

CONCLUSION

A junior high students approached his teacher in the hall way with a problem, as he was telling the teacher his problem: the teacher pulled a quarter from his pocket and said to the kid, “Here is a quarter, go call someone who cares.” All the other kids laughed but the kid needing help just ducked his head and walked away. I am sorry to say, that I witnessed this event and did nothing about it. I already had a bad reputation for meddling in school affairs and I kept silent.

I’m not picking on school teachers, there are preachers who don’t care. Of course we preachers and teachers are held to a higher standard, we are supposed to care. Every believer and follower of Christ is supposed to care.

The Rich Fool

Scripture Text: Luke 12:13-21

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” 
14Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 
15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” 
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 
17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 
18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 
19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ 
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ 
21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” 

INTRODUCTION

Luke 12 begins with Jesus teaching the multitudes. The crowd has grown into thousands, so much so, that they are stepping on one another. Worse than an Alanta Braves game on the 4th of July. Jesus is teaching on the integrity, judgment, stewardship, profession of faith and persecution when suddenly, from the crowd, He is rudely interupted by a man who is unhappy with the way his families inheritance has been settled.


This man wanted to make Jesus an arbitrator of the will, a judge to decide a fair settlement. Immediately Jesus senses the man’s greed and he tells the story of the rich fool to illustrate how foolish it is for us to put too much stock into earthly treasures.


We refer to this story as the Parable of the Rich Fool because it was God who called him a fool [v.20] and God knows a fool when He sees one. We can fool some of the people some of the time but we can never fool God. No one ever fooled Jesus because He could see our hearts.

There are at least THREE REASONS God called this man a fool…

I. FIRST OF ALL: HE THOUGHT LIKE A FOOL

Jesus enables us to get into his mind: He allows us to see the man’s thoughts. This is something that is normally hidden from us. Look at what the man thinks about and better still, what he does not think about.

Look again at verses…17-19

He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ 
  • This man is what we would call an ego maniac…He thinks of no one other than himself. 
  • Today we call this egotism a sickness…Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Notice also what he does not think about…
    • God
    • Family
    • Friends
    • Children or grandchildren

No wonder God labeled him a fool…

II. HE LIVED LIKE A FOOL [just look at his plans]

  • Solomon said–Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. [Proverbs 27:1]
  • Jesus said–So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. [Matt. 6:34]
  • James said–How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like a vapor—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”  Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil

Any man is a fool who leaves God out of his plans.

Now, consider this fools plan–‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 

  • What motivates this plan is his greed: He wants to get on he can, can all he gets and then sit on the lid so no one can get anything.
  • He is attempting to keep everything for himself
  • It is going to cost him money to tear down his old barns and more money to build new barns. The fool is blinded by his own greed.
  • Get out your pencil and paper and do the math, would it not have saved him money to have filled all his barns and gave the rest away. [Would have been the best thing]
  • Even so, it would have been better economically just to build a few extra barns but he doesn’t think because he is blinded by greed.
  • Jim Elliott: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.
  • C.S. Lewis–Nothing becomes permanently ours until we first give it away.
  • Jesus said–“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
  • Hoarding is foolish: The earth is the LORDs and the fullness thereof…You are not going to keep your house, farm, toys, etc.

III. HE DIED LIKE A FOOL

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” 
  • We are not  prepared to live until we are prepared to die. This fool made no preparation for death.
  • There are at least two Greek words that are translated fool: [1] aphrōn[found here in v. 20] without reason, senseless, foolish, stupid, without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly. [2] But the word Jesus used most in reference to a fool is mōros from which we get the word moron. For example, the man who build his house on sand, Jesus called him a moron. In Matthew 23, He called the Pharisees morons twice and He also refers to the foolish virgins in Matthew 25 as morons.
  • Folks it is senseless, foolish, stupid and yes even moronic to make preparations to live and not to make any for death.

CONCLUSION

[Story of Herbert Harris]