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 accomadations 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. Unfortunately for him, she had taken up with another man, lesser in statue and character and in spite of the fact that he had just saved her life, 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 discription 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 PEROGATIVE

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 patriacal 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]

The Rich Fool

SCRIPTURE: Luke 12:13-21, NASB

13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.
17 “And he began reasonsing to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”‘
[NLT: “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”]

INTRODUCTION

Jesus is teaching on principles of the Kingdom: integrity, overcoming fear, public confession of faith and blaspheming against the Holy Spirit and right in the middle of His teaching session, a man rudely interupts with this request…“Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Wow! What a self-centered jerk! It would be like someone interupting this sermon with some trivial complaint; very rude and very selfish.

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Jesus knew immediately what this man’s problem was, why even we would know: he was suffering from greed. Jesus knowing that he and many others had the same malady, told a story about a greedy fool. This is an amazing story.

 WHY DID GOD CALL THIS MAN A FOOL?

I. REASON ONE: HE HAD THE PHILOSOPHY OF A FOOL

Verse 15 in NLT reads, “Life is not measured by how much you own.” NKJV,  “For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Unfortunately, most folks have the same philosophy as this fool, they are convinced that life consist in the abundance of things one posessess. We really do measure people by how much they own. When we talk about a mans worth, we talk in terms of dollars and sent; he is worth 36 million. We pay special attention to the rich.  Mother Teresa, a missionary who had given her entire life to serving others died the same day as Princess Diana. What do you think captured the front page and the evening news. Nothing was said of Mother Teresa. {Sept. 5, 1997] C.S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963 but you didn’t hear anything about it because that is the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

I’m telling you folks, the world is under the illusion that wealth produces happiness and success. The world believes that life does consist in the abundance of things one possesses. The world is playing the fool.

II. REASON TWO: HE HAD THE ‘THOUGHTS’ OF A FOOL

Jesus enables us to get into his mind, look at what this fool was thinking to himself. 

‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my {ego} crops?’  “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my {ego} barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my {ego} grain and my {ego} goods.
‘And I will say to my {ego} soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘
The Greek word for “My” is ego. so you can see by reading the text, this man was an ego-maniac. In today’s culture, it is known as NPD, Narcississtic Personality Disorder. Simply stated, it is a person who is in love with themself. According to the Mayo Clinic, the four primary symptoms are: [1] An inflated sense of their own importance, [2] A deep need for admiration, [3] A lack of empathy for others and [4] Overly sensitive to the slightest criticism. Notice all the I’s and My’s in his thinking.

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A school teacher was teaching her students about Possessive Pronouns: she wrote some on the board…My…Our…Your…Their…and said, “What kind of pronouns are these? A little boy said, “Agressive.” He was close. The fool used a lot of agressive pronouns. I wonder….
  • Was this fool married?
  • Did he have children? Parents?
  • Surely, he did not have grandkids!

I am bad to talk about my grand children. They just have a way of getting into the conversation. This fool thinks of no one other than himself. Not to think of others is one thing but notice: He never thinks about God. He does not recognize God at all. He does not even thank Him for the abundant harvest.

This makes him a practical atheist which makes him a fool for the fool says to himself, “There is no God.” {Psalms 14:1}

So he is a fool because he thinks like a fool

III. REASON THREE: HE MADE THE PLANS OF A FOOL

Note the Problem: Just study this fools plans and I think you will be in full agreement with Jesus. He is going to harvest a bumper crop. His problem is that he does not have enough storage for the harvest. It is more than he has ever made and he does not have the space to store all the grain.

His Plan: He is going to hire a construction firm to tear down the old barns and built new ones in their place so he can keep all his grain to himself. What’s wrong with his plan? It is stupid. He is going to spend money tearing down old barns and spend money building new barns to horde his grain. Think about it for a moment. What if he keeps his own barns and gives the extra grain to the church or to the poor. Wouldn’t that actually save him money?

Building one additional barn would be better than tearing down the old and building all new barns but the best plan, and the most profitable is to give the excess away and fill your existing barns. But this fool is consumed by GREED and he cannot consider giving anything away. He cannot process the thought. Greedy people don’t see giving as an option.

Not only was his plan to keep all his wealth for himself foolish. What really made him a fool was he planned to live but he made no plans to die.

The Grace of Giving

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.
2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.
4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

INTRODUCTION

Unfortunately, not all church members understand what I am about to say, but ‘Giving’ financially to the support of your church and Christ kingdom is a ministry. Our word minister is translated from the Greek word for ‘serve.’ It is related to agency or instrumentality and in the Christians sense, it is God working through you to serve or help others {8:1}. You have the distinct privilege of helping countless numbers of people by giving.

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Let me give you an example, one that is very fresh. June’s nephew Jason gave Joe David $2,000 for the Guatemala Trip but Joe David already had all the bases covered so they used the money to feed hungry people. The money Jason gave will feed 30 families for three months. God used Jason through the agency of GRACE MINISTRIES to serve, to help 30 Guatemalan families. Jason got involved in the MINISTRY OF GIVING and through the ministry of Joe David’s team and Teddy’s organization thirty families were helped.

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One more example: You can give a dollar to the Gideon’s in memory of Tom and they will purchase and place a N.T. in the hand of a child, soldier, nurse, etc. You can donate $5 and they will place a bible in a hospital room or motel. The Gideon’s are an international agency, in more than 200 countries. They have distributed over 2 billion bibles in 95 languages. My friend Rodney Lamar Browning was saved by one of those bibles in a motel room in NYC back in 1970. My daughter Hannah was saved when a Gideon speaker came to DBC 34 years ago. Here is the thing: if you give a dollar of five, you must give it by faith. You will never know if someone came to know Christ due to your gift, not in this life, but by placing that small gift into the hands of such an effective agency the odds are in your favor. Isn’t this exciting! Not to some Baptist.

So I want to talk to you tonight about the MINISTRY OF GIVING and we will use the Philippians as an example….Note how they gave…

I. THEY GAVE SACRIFICALLY

[v.2-3] They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosityFor I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.

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The Macedonian churches {Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea} were being persecuted and suffering financially from the persecution. The churches were having a hard time financially. I don’t think Paul wanted them to take part because he says himself that they were very poor. I guess someone forgot to tell them their were poor because they not only gave, they gave more than they could afford and far more than Paul expected.

I think you would agree that most people give what they can afford and very few give more. William Barclay says, “It is not always those who are wealthy who are most generous.” Our problem is that we confuse Generosity with the amount. Jesus doesn’t get these confused. In Luke 21 we have an example of what I am talking about….

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.
2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Our generosity is determined by what we have left after we give. We are not to give with the motive of getting back. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. For our gift to be a sacrifice, we have to give up something.

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Several weeks ago, I got a call from the precious lady who took care of June and I in Seminary. She will be 90 her birthday. She can’t drive and her grandkids have put her in an assisted living in Metorie Louisana which is a suberb of New Orleans. She had talked her son in to bringing her home for two or three days {Ashville, Ala} and wanted to know if I could come and see her and so June and I went down. Her late husband was a truck driver and made good money but he didn’t save it so all she has is a SS check which isn’t much. When June and I were in Seminary, we thought they were rich because her husband was making $600 a week, a lot of money in 1971. Knowing that she has a hard time and feeling a debt to her for all she did for us, I gave her half of my allowance for gas money. I thought about it before I gave and I felt I should give it without expecting any return so I gave it and I was broke by Thursday of the week. I was at Huntsville Hospital on Friday of that week and all I had was the change in the ask tray of the car. Fifty dollars would be no sacrifice to most folks but it was to me because it meant I had to give up some things in order to give it. I have a friend, a good friend who give $500 per week to his church building fund. This is not his tithe, it is an offering on top of what he already gives. This means he gives $26,000 per year to the building fund, which is a lot more than I give entirely. I’ve been told that he is worth 8-10 million dollars.

II. THEY GAVE FREELY

[v.3] For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.

They exercised their free will

The Philippians were poor people because they were being persecuted. Not only did the Jews hate and mistreat Christians, the Roman world was not fond of them either. It had cost the Philippians to follow Christ but they were not complaining. As a matter of fact, Paul was shocked at their generous gift. 

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How did the Philippians come to be so generous? {ANSWER} They choose to of their own free will. Why was Tom Bennich generous? At some point in his life, he made a decision, “I want to be remembered as a generous man.” No one forced Tom to be generous and no one is going to force you. I told Edith last week that Tom had a disciple that he didn’t know anything about. Tom’s generosity so impressed a certain young man that he said, “I want to be like Tom.” Actually two men made a huge impression on this young man, Tom’s impression was on the positive side but the other man was a miser. The young man looked at the contrast and he said, “I want to be like Tom.”

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If you are saying “Its too late,” you could be right or you could be wrong, that too is up to you. Ebeneezer Scrooge was an old man before he learned to give and so was John D. Rockefeller. The doctor told Rockefeller to prepare for his death because he could not digest food. Once Rockefeller realized that the doctor was serious and that he was going to die, he made a change and began giving money away. Without him being aware of what was going on or what made the difference, he began to digest his food and get better physically. Greed was literally killing him and he lived for many more years.

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So who makes the call, who determines whether or not you are going to get into the MINISTRY OF GIVING?  [ANSWER: You do! By exercising your free will] Look at 2 Corinthians 2:9, 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 cheerful giver.”

III. THEY GAVE THANKFULLY

{v.4} They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 

They understood the privilege of Giving

I gave $500 to the Mission Offering last Sunday and I enjoyed every minute of it. The check I put into the plate came from Edith Bennich. It was as easy as falling off a log. I was never tempted to keep the money. I was simply giving for someone else. Edith used me as an instrument, an agent to give in her behalf. I was having so much fun in the process that I had a thought: giving someone else’s money is easier than giving your own. Then I had another thought: every dime I have given belonged to someone else.

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The only reason I can give, the only reason you can give is because God has given to us first. He is allowing you the privilege of being His agent in the ministry of giving but it is HIS MONEY that you and I are giving. God could very easily take away your privilege to give by taking away your ability to give. The Philippians did not want to miss the privilege of giving to the Christians in Jerusalem. They wanted a part in this ministry. Evidently, Paul didn’t ask them to participate because their condition was as bad or worse than that in Jerusalem. They wouldn’t take no for an answer.

IV.  THEY GAVE SPIRITUALLY 

{v.5} They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

How do we give spiritually?

  1. Pray about what you are to give. Let God direct you in your giving. You will give what you can afford but sometimes God will challenge you to give more than you can afford.
  2. Commit your life to him before you give money. God does not want your money or necessarily need it, He wants YOU. Money is easier to give than “self.” Those who pretend to be committed yet do not give are only fooling themselves. Giving is a test of your love, to see if it is genuine. You cannot stop love from giving. You can give without loving but you can’t love without giving.

The Answer For Anxiety

Scripture: Luke 12:22-30

22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.
23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.
24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him than any birds!
25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things.
30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs.”
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.

INTRODUCTION

In the very beginning of chapter 12, Jesus is teaching some fundamental principles of the Kingdom: integrity, courage, security and He mentions hell and the unpardonable sin. These are very serious issues that Jesus is addressing but go back and look at verse 13…

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Someone in the crowd interrupted Jesus with this question, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

This rude interruption prompts Jesus to tell the Parable of the rich fool found only in Luke’s gospel {12:13-21}. Now, everything that has happened in this chapter is related to Jesus teachings in the verses above. The key is Luke 12:31, “Seek God’s Kingdom first or above all else.” Nothing, in this world, should be more important to you than the KINGDOM OF GOD. Unfortunately, the rich fool, nor the fool who interrupted Jesus gave God’s Kingdom no thought, let alone make it a priority and that is why they were fools.

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When a person understands who he/she is and where they are going, they have the ability to take the high road or higher ground. In John 13:3, the scripture reads… Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. {Jesus knew who He was and where He was going. He had a perfect sense of security} This sense of security gave Him the ability to take the high or noble ground… so Jesus took off his coat and picked up a towel and began washing the disciples feet.

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We understand that we were created in God’s image and redeemed at the highest cost known to man. That fact that Jesus died for us gives us infinite worth. The value of an object is determined by the price people are willing to pay.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have a glorious future beyond this life and world.

The rich fool did not understand this truth: he thought life consisted in the amount of things that one owns or possesses. He was dead wrong. Property is temporal and so are barns filled with grain or banks filled with money. Some of the things we value most are worthless in the world to come which makes us look pretty foolish in God’s sight.

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Since our time here on earth is so brief and nothing endures other than our soul and that which we do for His kingdom, should we be wasting our time worrying and fretting over these lesser and trivial things that so often occupy our mind. Twice in this passage, Jesus says, “Don’t worry.” He also says, “Don’t be concerned about the temporal things,” and He also said, “Don’t be afraid.” As I stated last week, fear is our greatest problem.

Tonight I want to ask you some probing questions that I hope will stimulate your mind

I.WHAT CAUSES WORRY?

  1. Lack of Faith or unbelief. Jesus nicknamed His disciples “Little-faiths”. In the Greek, “men of little faith” is one word. My advice to you is: feed your faith and starve your doubt. Stay in the word of God, not the news paper. The word will feed your faith but the daily news will stir your doubt. How many of you believe every word in the bible is true? How many believe every word in the news paper is true? Feed on the truth.
  2. Skewed priorities. The Rich Fool will be our example throughout the message. The fool had the wrong priorities. He was seeking his own personal kingdom. He was an ego maniac, everything was about himself. His chief worry was how to save all his goods for himself. He was worried about maintaining his wealth. If you will get your priorities in order and put the Kingdom of Christ first, the last thing you will be worried about is keeping earthly wealth. People worry because their priorities are not in order. {They are focused on the wrong kingdom}
  3. Fear and Insecurity. Years ago, a little 8 year old girl was acting out in our Child Care program. It had become such a problem that the director was considering termination but due to pitiful need she didn’t want to do it so she called and ask if I would help. I sat down with her and begin talking gently, asking questions mostly. It took some time but finally she began telling me the truth. Her mother was very young [middle or late 20’s] and very attractive. The child’s father had abandoned them a couple of years prior and she and her little brother were spending 12 hours a day in our WEE Care. The mother was working hard to provide but she was also lonely and had a man friend who was there for one reason. The children felt threatened. Beth, the little girl, was afraid that her mother would eventually abandon her and her brother just as the father had done. This constant anxiety was strangling Beth and causing her to act out. {Twice in this chapter, Jesus assures us that we are more valuable to God than the birds, and He takes care of them}

These are not all the reasons we worry but these are some. Let’s move on to the second question…

II. WHY IS WORRY A SIN?

  1. Worry is a gesture of unbelief–doubting God’s word and benevolence. God is our heavenly Father and primary provider. When we worry, we cast doubt on His character. Do you really want to cast doubt on God’s faithfulness? When has He failed to provide. Remember, Jesus says “Don’t worry,” He does not say “Don’t work”. We will address this later.
  2. Worry indicates a preoccupation with this world. What do we worry about? What we are going eat or wear? Maybe or it could be our job, our 401-k, our house payment, etc. We are worrying about the same things that unbelievers worry about. When we worry, we identify with the unbelieving world and our worry is proof that we are preoccupied with this world instead of the world to come. Worry is worldly.
  3. Worry is destructive to us. Worry not only does not help, it hurts. Worrying will not add a single minute to your life but it can take time from your life because it is possible for a person to worry themselves to death.
  4. Worry robs us of joy. Worry does not change tomorrow but it will rob you of the pleasure of living today.
  5. Worry is horrible stewardship. Worry is a waste of time and energy. It gets you absolutely nowhere. Worry carries you in an endless circle. There is no end in sight and no progress. When you are through worrying you are right back where you started. Activity is better than anxiety for this reason.

Now for the most important question…

III. HOW DO WE OVERCOME WORRY?

  1. Make God’s Kingdom your highest priority. Simply comply with verse 31, Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need. I challenge you to find me a worrier who had put God’s Kingdom first. You cannot do it.
  2. Make Jesus Christ your Master. This means, we relegate ourselves to the role of a servant. Servants don’t worry, they serve. It’s the master’s job to worry. A servant only has one thing he must do–obey the master. What is one of the biggest sources of our anxiety? Is it not control? Put Jesus in charge and stop worrying about control. Did you hear about the man who was a chronic worrier. He was so bad his doctor told him that without help, worry was going to kill him. So the man went out and hired a professional worrier. For $100,000 dollars a year, this man did all your worrying for you. His wife ask him immediately, “How are you going to come up with $100,000? He said, “I don’t know, that’s not my worry.” Jesus can handle your anxiety, cast all your care {anxieties] on Him.
  3. Make an effort: Apply yourself in every situation. The sin Jesus is forbidding is to worry; To be active, to work, or to prepare are not sin. {STORY} A man who hated work joined a monastery to get out of work. He was devoting himself to meditation and prayer. When the other monks went to fields to work, he stayed in his room. When they ask him for an explanation, he said, “I came here to get away from the world and devote myself to spiritual things.” When meal time came, no one called him to eat. A day or so later, he is getting really hungry and so he ask them “What is going on? Why don’t you all call me for meals?” Their reply was: “We thought if you were too spiritual to work that you would be too spiritual to eat.” There is nothing spiritual about being lazy or irresponsible.
  4. Keep your future in mind: set your affections on heaven. Jesus said, For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Wow, what a gift!

 

Two Kinds Of Sorrow

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:8-13, NLT

8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.
10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
12 My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us.
13 We have been greatly encouraged by this. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was about the way all of you welcomed him and set his mind at ease.

INTRODUCTION

I was 21 years old, a senior in college and serving a small church in West Limestone when one of the ministeral students invited me to a party. I was not big on parties plus I worked after school at J.C. Penney’s in Huntsville so I had a full schedule as it was but I did join them after work and my friend introduced me to a young lady who was a senior in high school. I asked her for a date and she invited me to a beauty contest which is not exactly what I had in mind. Long story short, I went to the contest and she was in it but did not win, she came in second but it was still a flash bub experience. I stood in the shadows waiting for all the cameras to cease. That was the first of a number of dates. The girls was talented and ambitious. I was getting ready to settle down. To be honest, I was looking for a wife but she was not looking for a husband. I soon realized that she was encapable of taking interest in my life. She was attractive and I wanted a relationship with her but the feeling was not mutual. After a few weeks of this, I became frustrated and sat down and wrote her a letter telling her exactly how I felt. I was brutally honest in the letter which basicly accused her of being self-centered and too hung up on herself to care about anyone else. I knew the letter was harsh, so I laid it on the night stand next to my bed and did not send it. Actually, I forgot about the letter and a couple of weeks later I called her on the phone and she blessed me out. My mother, thinking she was being a help, sent the letter.

So I went through a couple of phases: first, I regretted that I had wrote the letter and that mother had posted it but some time later, I was glad that I wrote the letter because this relationship was going no where and I didn’t need to waste my time. I’ve seen the woman a half dozen times since and she doesn’t hold a grudge.

Paul sent Corinth a harsh or painful letter. Then the Apostle became worried and anxious wondering if he had done the right thing. After Titus returns with good news about the Corinthians response to the letter, Paul is relieved and no longer regrets sending the letter. All is well that ends well.  Since the final result was positive, Paul moves from regret to rejoicing.

In the dialogue, Paul mentions two kinds of sorrow. There is a Godly sorrow that leads to a change in behavior and an worldly sorrow which leads to regret but no change in behavior. When experts from the treasurer’s department examine money to see if it is counterfiet, they make a judgment based on what the real looks like. Once they are totally familiar with the real, they can spot the false.

So it is with SORROW. Tonight we will study the real so that we can spot the false.

I. GODLY SORROW IS ALWAYS DIRECTED TOWARD GOD

Psalms 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
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Obviously, David’s sin was against others, especially Uriah and there were social consequences. David is not attempting to escape his responsibility in hurting others but he understood that the primary offense was against God who alone is perfectly holy and offended by all sins. Although David sinned against Bathsheba, I doubt seriously that her moral sensitivities were offended.

All sin in all stages or levels is offensive to God

II. GODLY SORROW LEADS TO REPENTANCE

Repentance and remorse are very similiar in Greek. The word metanoeō means to repent, to change your behavior. The word metamelomai means remorse. Remorse is a deep and painful regret. This is illustrated by Judas in Matthew 27:3…

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!”

  • Judas felt remorse, a painful regret that he had made a horrible decision. Note where Judas goes to confess {the corrupt priest}. Why did he not turn to Jesus. Remorse does not lead us to Christ. It may lead to bitter tears and haunting regret but it does not lead us to Christ.
  • Cain was sorry for murdering his brother but his sorrow was not toward God. Cain felt sorry for himself. He knew his sin had grave consequences and he was deeply sorrowful about what he had done to himself but he was not concerned about God or his parents. 
  • Esau was full of remorse and wept bitterly but he did not repent and never changed his ways. He went to his father Isaac but he did not go to God.
  • Saul faked repentance several times but he was feeling remorse, not repentance because he never changes his behavior. Godly sorrow leads to a change in behavior.

All of the above felt remorse, regret and the sorrow that accompanies them but none of them changed their life. They continued to live to please themselves.

III. GODLY SORROW LEADS TO SALVATION

What is the difference between ‘Repentance’ and ‘Salvation?’ Glad you ask, good question. Repentance is a change of mind, behavior and attitude. Salvation is deliverance from the evil one and from the power of sin. When we come across the word Salvation in the N.T. we must always remember it has three tenses:

  1. I have been saved from the penalty of sin [regeneration–new birth, instantaneous]
  2. I am being saved from the power of sin [sanctification–growth and maturity in the faith, progressive]
  3. I will be saved from the presence of sin [glorification, ultimate]

IMPORTANT NOTE:

  • Godly sorrow does lead to regeneration, the new birth.
  • Godly sorrow also leads to sanctification, our daily walk with Christ.
  • Godly sorrow which leads to repentance is not a ONCE AND DONE experience, it is a daily experience.

Let’s take your marriage relationship as an example. A Groom cannot tell his bride: “I am a sinner and I will make a lot of mistakes in our life time together so I am going to repent right now for all the mistakes I will make. You just remember this conversation when the time comes. {Would this work in a marriage?}

Although the basic premise is correct, this will not work. We sin daily so we must repent daily. Dr. Bill Bright calls this concept “Spiritual Breathing.” He bases it on I John 1:8-9…. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. Daily confession brings daily cleansing.

To stay rightly related to God, we must live in a state of repentance.

Paul is writing to Christians. Sure, the unbelieving world needs to repent, they must repent said Jesus or they will perish but the church also needs to repent. Four of the seven churches in the Revelation are told to repent.

John the Baptist demanded fruits of repentance and he was simply talking about a change of behavior. We believers are to be in a state of alteration, changes should be a part of our daily walk with Christ.

Zaccheus didn’t have dreams or see visions: he changed the way he was living. He stopped cheating others and began giving to others.

Worldly sorrow does not lead to a changed life. Earthly sorrow leads to regret, self-pity and eventually death simply because it does not lead to repentance.

The Phobia List

Scripture: Luke 12:6-12

4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.
5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say,
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

INTRODUCTION

When I study a passage, I always look for a common link. What is the main subject? In this passage, I think it is fear because Jesus gives us a list of things we fear. Jesus said in verse 4, Dear friends, don’t be afraid. Let me remind you of something you already know…Matthew and Luke tell us when the angel appeared to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, he said the same thing to each “Don’t be afraid.” Jesus says this repeated:
  • Peter– “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”
  • Jarius–“Don’t be afraid! Just have faith and your daughter will be healed.”
  • Disciples–“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
  • Disciples in the storm–But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!
  • Mount of Transfiguration–Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
  • Disciples on the sea of Galilee–They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!
  • In Luke 12 “Don’t be afraid” occurs 3 times, verse 4, 7, and 32

There are more verses but the point is made, the disciples {like us} were deeply insecure and prone to fear. Insecurity is our greatest problem and so tonight we are going to study the list that Jesus gives of things we should not fear. So lets talk about the things we humans fear.

#1 WE ARE AFRAID OF DEATH

[VERSE 4] Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.

Jesus began with death because it is our greatest fear. You can pretend that you have no problem with it but you are being dishonest. The fear of death is behind much of our sickness. Again, as I stated this morning, overcoming this fear is a process. The first step to overcoming is confession.

I’m not going to say or pretend that I have no fear of death. I have often wondered what I would do if ISIS captured me and was ready to remove my head. I hope I would be calm, cool and collected but I am afraid either gun or knife would horrify me. Jesus had no fear of death because He knew what was on the other side.

#2 WE ARE AFRAID OF BEING UNLOVED

6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
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Sparrows are dirty little birds. They are common and plain. They have no beautifully colored feathers; they are not attractive birds. Some of you have birds for pets, do any of you have sparrows? In Jesus day you could buy a sparrow 2 for a penny or 5 for 2 pennies but they have no value today. When did you last buy a sparrow?
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So sparrows are dirty little birds that no one cares for; that is no one except their Creator. Jesus said, “God does not forget a single one of them.” Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without God’s knowledge or consent and “You are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows,” Jesus said.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. So God loves a dirty little bird that makes a mess everywhere it goes. It is as common as dirt: its color is the same as the earth. It has absolutely no value to this world. I don’t care for them and neither do you so what is the message here?

We are like the sparrow. We are dirty birds and we fail at everything we do, at least in terms of motive. We are plain and unattractive and we have no value in the world market but God loves us.

Satan whispered in Eve’s ear, “If God loved you, He would no withhold.” At the base of our insecurity is the fear that God does not love us but this is a lie, God does love us. The fact that bad things happen to us is no indication that God doesn’t love. God loved Job and an avalanche of bad things happened to Job. Do you believe that God loved His Son? Look what happen to Him on the cross. You may feel like a dirty bird but I am here to tell you, GOD LOVES YOU.

The REFORMS say, “God loves some of you,” but bible says that God loves all of you.

Don’t be afraid folks, God loves you.

# 3 WE ARE AFRAID TO CONFESS CHRIST IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
We all lack courage when it comes to confessing Christ openly in public. I don’t know exactly why this is so, only that it is so. Peter was the boldest of the Twelve. It was Peter who drew his sword to defend Christ but Peter did something he did not think he was capable of doing, “He denied knowing Jesus not once, not twice but three times.”
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The world we live in hates Jesus and we are afraid of persecution. We lay low, we don’t want to draw fire. It is our human nature…its call “Self-preservation.” J.W. MacGorman says, “The Gospel is always grace and demand. Without demand, grace becomes cheap. Without grace, demand leads to despair.” For those of us who have done exactly what Peter did, we need a word of grace but that very word of grace will bring us right back to Jesus demand…. anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
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Christ wants us to confess Him openly: He demands it. Remember the story of the women in Luke 8 who had constant bleeding. She slipped up behind Jesus and touched the hem of His garment. Jesus stopped and ask, “Who touched Me?” The disciples were stunned because the crowd was pushing and shoving trying to get near. They thought it was a foolish question but Jesus knew who touched Him, He demanded that the women confess Him then an there. Overcoming this fear is a process and we begin by confessing Christ before the church.

#4 WE ARE AFRAID WE HAVE COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

You would be shocked at the number of people who have confessed to me over the years that they were afraid they had committed the unpardonable sin. The Pharisees and Jewish Religious Leaders accused Jesus of being of the devil. They even attributed the power of His miracles to the work of the devil. How is it that people who have studied the scripture and profess to love God, not recognized Him when He stands in their midst.

If you or I decided to put our left arm in a sling and leave it there; never using it for anything, the muscles in the arm would atrophy and eventually the arm would be useless. Miners in the old days brought out the mules at least on Sunday to keep them from going blind. If we don’t use our God given faculties, we lose them. This is true of the human brain. The Jews had turned a deaf ear to God for so long, they could no longer hear. They were not listening to Jesus but as Jesus points out, the unpardonable sin is to offend the Holy Spirit who speaks in Christ behalf. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity but He is the first agent in the work of salvation. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of sin and makes us see our need for Christ. In other words, He is the one knocking on the door. If you don’t hear HIM or recognize HIM, there is no hope of you being forgiven.

People who have committed this sin are dead to the Holy Spirit, their human spirit has atrophied. They no longer know right from wrong. They cannot distinguish good from evil. They are not conscious of their sin or their need for repentance. More than likely, you would not be here today if you had committed this sin. You certainly would not be worried about it.

#5 WE ARE AFRAID OF EARTHLY AUTHORITIES [GOVERNMENT]

11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say,
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”
We are to respect the government but not fear it. This is a huge problem in America. Those who say they believe in Christ will not take a stand. Last week at the REPUBLICAN convention, Cleveland was invaded with Bikers. They rolled in by the thousands and I imagine some of these guys were believers. They were there to let the Anarchist who have been shooting policemen, rioting and looting that they were not going to put up with it and we heard nothing out of this group of paid trouble makers.
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I was thrilled to see the Biker’s roll in and they have my support but is this not what Christians are supposed to be doing? Why aren’t we? You know why and so do I, we are afraid.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Obama and the all powerful federal government can tax me into poverty, they can even take my freedom and it they so desire, they can take my life but that is as far as they can go. They can’t touch my soul and they can not rob me of my convictions. I will continue to do what I have been doing for the last 30…denouncing the Demon-crats for their part in the murder of the unborn. Hey, I don’t need another issue to know that the Democrats are wrong.
If we preachers had done a better job 40 years ago, some of this stuff we are battling now would not have happened.
  • Homosexuality is perverted, evil and destructive.
  • Abortion is murder. You can legalize it through corrupt courts but it is still wrong.
  • Same sex marriage is right out of the pits of hell and so is the trans-gender movement.
  • Muslims worship the devil the father of hate and deception.
  • Political correctness is for dupes, dummies and drug heads.

Fear God

Luke 12:4-5, NLT

4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.
5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say,
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

Introduction

June and I had the pleasure of seeing the Niagria Falls in person some twenty years ago. It is an awesome sight and I highly recommend that you save your beach money and go see the falls.  I have not had the priviledge of seeing the Grand Canyon from the ground, only by air and from 35,000 feet, it looks line a line in the sand. I have loaded us a picture and I understand that from the observation tower to the bottom of the canyon is 6,000 feet. I have been told by those who have seen it in person that it is an awesome breath taking sight.

Grand-Canyon-Skywalk-View

King David said, “Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him.” {Psalm 33:8} 

In an infinitesimal way, the Grand Canyon is like God: by that I mean it is awesome in its presence but it must be feared. An average of 6 people die at the Canyon each year. No mere human can survive a 6,000 foot fall, not even if they land in the Colorado River below. It is an awesome breath taking sight that could rob you of speech but it must be respected.

David wisely puts these two words–Awe and fear together in relationship to God. Just as it is foolish to disrepect the danger of the Canyon, so it is exceedingly more foolish to disrespect the power of God. Abraham feared God, Job feared God and hated evil, so I too fear God.

I can only imagine what my eyes will see when His face is before me. Surrounded by His glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in His presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah or will I be able to sing at all. I can only imagine but if I had to guess, I would say His presence will leave me in stunned silence and amazement.

TODAY, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU FOR A MOMENT ABOUT FEARING GOD

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I. FIRST OF ALL: LET ME SAY, WE ARE NOT TO FEAR MEN {or women}

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. {Proverbs 29:25}

Insecurity is really our biggest problem

  • If we crave comfort–we will fear discomfort
  • If we crave approval–we will fear criticism
  • If we crave acceptance–we will fear rejection
  • If we crave admiration for our attractiveness–we will fear getting old and fat

Let me put it another way

  • Why don’t we share our faith?
  • Why don’t we confess our sins?
  • Why don’t we put passion into our worship?

The answer to all these questions is we have a man fearing spirit and Jesus tells us not to fear man.

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Today, I am going to tell you how to overcome your man fearing spirit.

ONE: Admit your fear of man–confss it.

The first step to recovery is heonesty. You cannot hope to get better unless you are willing to confess there is a problem. Some of you men are as henpecked as all get out and you will sit here today and deny you have a problem. Come on, get real!

TWO: Ask the LORD to help you begin to grow in your fear of God.

{Psalms 34:11–Come, my children, and listen to me,and I will teach you to fear the LORD} Fearing the LORD is a learning process and there has to be a starting point. That starting point could be today.

THREE: Assess your motives and goals.

What do you want most from life and who do you want to please most?

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. {John 12:42-43}

FOUR: Act today and begin small.

Don’t put this off, begin today working on your man fearing spirit. Worship is a good place to start. Sing with all your heart no matter who is sitting near you. Move to the front if that makes it easier. Don’t start with the firing squad or a martyrs heroic death. Start small and grow big. {Peter is a good example}

FIVE: Acknowlege that your fear of man is driven by your selfish desires.

As Ed Welch and Geoffrey Kirland have said, Exchange your Need for others for a passion to love others more.” In other words, stop focusing on your needs and begin to focus on the needs of others. [All five points came from the insights of Geoffrey Kirland, [http://thecripplegate.com/the-fear-of-man-how-to-destroy-it/]

Jesus said, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. Perhaps you are thinking, this doesn’t comfort me but think about this way, beyond physical death, man has no power over you. Yes, Obama could have the CIA eliminate me but that is in this world. In the next world, he has absolutely no power. I am comforted to know that ultimately, no man has power over my eternal destiny other than Jesus.

II. SECONDLY AND IN CONCLUSION: WE ARE TO FEAR GOD

Jesus said, I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.

Man has the power to murder, to kill to execute but man has no power after death. They can kill us but that is as much as they can do. God has the power to take life and to cast us into hell. He is the One we should fear.

Let me tell you briefly how hell or gehenna got its name. It was a narrow ravine located Southwest of Jerusalem and was known first as the valley of Hinnon, meaning it belonged to someone in the family of Hinnon. Then Solomon brought in Molech and Chemosh and it became a place where the charred bodies of innocent babies were disposed. By the time of the incarnation, it was the city dump where the fire burned day and night

I have just described to you a hideous and horrible place where no one would want to go but the real hell is infinitely worse. We cannot imagine the horror of hell. It is far worse than any movie or picture you have seen. Hell was not created for you: it was created for the devil and his followers.

God does not want you to go to hell. 2 Peter 3:9 clearly states…The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

There can be no heaven without a hell, just as there can be no freedom without prisons. Lucifer destroyed any hope of that in eternity past. God is going to encarserate evil someday and confine it to this awful place called hell. I can promise you, there will be no jokes in hell, no laughter, no fun, no merriment. It will be the ultimate horror movie, worse than anyone can imagine.

So today in Christ behalf, I beg you to repent of your sins, turn from your selfish ways and interest and turned to Christ. He is our only hope. I don’t know exactly where heaven is so I cannot know the way. Some think it is beyond space, others think it could be as near as our atomosphere but I know Jesus and He is the way.

Turn from self and sin and turn to Jesus, today! Hell is for those who demand their way.