Wandering or Drifting

Scripture: James 5:19-20, NLT

19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

NASB

19 My brethren,  20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

AV

19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

INTRODUCTION

Both Wiersbe and Tasker agree that James is still on the subject of prayer. We it comes to restoring a brother, which may be more difficult than reaching a lost person, prayer in sorely needed.

I. THE TRUTH [word of God]

Christian “Truth” differs somewhat from scientific truth. Christian truth is always moral. You could believe something false about thermodynamics and it would not effect your life but when we deviate from Christian truth, it leads to a moral decline.

In all fairness, we have something going for us that the first century Christians did not have and that is a BIBLE. Our forefathers have canonized the holy scriptures so that we have a clear road map. False teachers abound where there are no lines of orthodoxy drawn in the sand. Today we have a guideline, a clear objective before us and it is the Bible. If a preacher gets beyond the guidelines of scripture, he can be easily identified as a false teacher.

  • Christian truth is something we should LOVEHe {antichrist] will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. [2 Thes. 2:10]
  • Christian truth is something we should OBEY You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. [Galatians 5:7-8]
  • Christian truth is something we should DEMONSTRATEWe reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. [2 Cor. 4:2]
  • Christian truth is something we SPEAK IN LOVE We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love. [Ephesians 4:14-15]
  • Christian truth is something we MUST WITNESS TOI was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” [John 18:37]
  • Christian truth is something which LIBERATES— “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”[John 8:32]
  • Christian truth is something Illuminated by the HOLY SPIRIT When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. [John 16:13-14]

Let me give you an example of how the truth can be twisted into a lie. Origen said, “Man may gain remission of his sins by doing six things:

  1. Baptism
  2. Martyrdom
  3. Almsgiving
  4. Forgiving Others
  5. Love
  6. Converting a sinner

[Origen was wrong]

ROMANS 3

 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. 21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[i] and the prophets long ago.22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

We are saved by grace through faith: Salvation is a gift of God, it is not our works. It that we true, we would boast.

II. THE TASK [turning a brother from error]

Paul said is Galatians 6…Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin [trespass, fault], you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.  If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

I say without hesitation or reservation that restoring a brother is the most difficult task in ministry. Why? Because a lot of folks blame their drifting on someone else and you are dealing with a root of bitterness which makes them unapproachable.

  1. To restore a brother–you have to CARE, a lot. People who are willing to bear your burdens care.  You can’t fake love in the matter of restoration. No one needs to even attempt reconciliation until they are assured their motivation is love.
  2. You have to be HUMBLE. This means, you have to consider yourself…what would you do in similar circumstances. You have to acknowledge your weakness and vulnerability. We can’t approach with a “better than thou” attitude.
  3. You have to be GENTLE–it didn’t happen over night and will not be fixed over night. It will take time and encouragement. There is a difference between a nudge and a push. Most folks don’t like to be pushed.
  4. You have to be CAREFUL–The fact that you have pointed out a sin or error puts you at risk. You have to be willing to take those risk but if you aren’t careful, you will get caught up in the very thing you spot in your brother.

III. THE TEMPTATION

The writer of Hebrews said,  So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.  

  • To drift is to be carried slowly by a current of air,water, or social trends.
  • Drifter don’t fight the current. When we get lazy, we are bound to drift.
  • In the spiritual sense, we always drift away from, not toward. Things like Evangelism and Missions have to be intentional. We are not going to drift toward them any more than we will drift toward God.
  • Usually drifting is a slow process…
    • We begin to stay home during special events, like Block Parties, Visitation, Mission and Ministry Projects.
    • Then we stop participating in fellowships: it is never a good sign when people refuse to eat with you. It generally means, they don’t like you are feel superior to you.
    • Then we stop attending PM services
    • Then Bible Study
    • Then Sunday worship, instead of being regular attenders, we become infrequent attenders. Some stay in this pattern for life others quit all together.
  • Danger in drifting…some drifters never come back [like the generation of Israelite’s who died in the wilderness] Some drifters take others with them.

 

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Jairus’ Daughter

Scripture: Luke 8:49-56, NLT

While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”

But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

51 When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. 52 The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

53 But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. 54 Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” 55 And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.

INTRODUCTION

In John 11 we have the story of the raising of Lazarus which was Jesus third and final resurrection on record. I want to read a few verses to set the tone for today’s message.

When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

Both Mary and Martha had firm confidence in Jesus ability to heal but Lazarus death gave their faith a shock. Jesus always desires to reveal more of Himself to us. Martha knew Jesus was a healer but He wanted her to understand that He was more, much more. He was the resurrection and the life principle.

What Jesus did for Mary, Martha, James, John, Peter, Jairus and wife was to demonstrate in time that He had power over death the power to give life when death seemed final. Martha was quick to point out that she believed in a resurrection day but Jesus corrected her. The resurrection is not a day, the resurrection is a person–Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is life and just as light is greater than darkness so life is greater than death. Death is merely the absence of life, just as darkness is the absence of light.

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us the story of the Sadducees trying to trick Jesus with the question about the woman who married seven brother, not at one time but in succession. One would die, and she would marry the next. Their question was, “Who wife will she be in the resurrection.” There is some irony in the question: the Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection. Note Jesus answer…

  • You guys have two major problems: you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God.
  • You are ignorant because marriage is an earthly thing: there will be no marriage in heaven between man and woman. [Its a different kind of marriage not to be compared with what takes place on earth]
  • The Sadducees are supposed to have the Torah committed to memory so Jesus takes them back to Exodus 3:6, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When God spoke this to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been physically dead for hundreds of years.
  • The Sadducees came with the intent of tricking Jesus but He turned the table on them and now they were trapped by their own question. They professed to believe the Torah without understanding the resurrection being taught in the Torah. It’s like, “What’s up fellows, don’t you believe the books of Moses?”
  • If God is a God of the living, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must be alive, right? I am sure they said nothing so Jesus summed it up with this statement…So He is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to HIM.
  • There is no death in eternity for a believer. Your future state is one of life, much more life than you are experiencing now.

So this is basically the sermon:

  1. JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
  2. DEATH CANNOT DWELL IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST
  3. THERE IS NO DEATH IN ETERNITY FOR A BELIEVER
  4. WHATEVER ELSE DEATH MAY BE [sad, sorrowful, emotionally draining] IT IS IN FACT ONLY TEMPORARY. {Jesus didn’t say we would not die, He said we would not stay dead}

CONCLUSION

In concluding, I want to share the wonderful gospel, the good news: may Christ Jesus our Lord open our minds to receive this truth.

In the three N.T. stories where Jesus raises the dead there are three subliminal messages that can easily be missed–

  1. There is the personal message from Jesus–I Am the resurrection and the life…I have power over death…death will not get the victory…I will get the victory
  2. There is an inspiring message a message of hope. The story of Jarius’s daughter reveals this. Jarius friends come to him and say, ““Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” This is where we are living at present. We live in the world of the dying. Death is a reality and we know it. Note verse 53…But the crowd laughed at HIM [Jesus}because they all knew she had died. We know when someone dies. You do not have to be a doctor to recognize death–no breath, no pulse, the body loses color and grows cold. THIS IS OUR PRESENT REALITY. But in the midst of grim reality we have HOPE…“Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” OUR PRESENT HOPE IS THE WORD OF JESUS, have faith, this is temporary. So the question is: Do you believe your senses {I know she is dead} or do you believe the words of Jesus–“Have faith, this is temporary.”
  3. There is a Prophetic Message:  Jesus lived in both time and eternity. He had the advantage of seeing both worlds at the same time. Why did He raise Jairus’s Daughter and Lazarus…they would only have to die again. He did it for our benefit. He reached out into eternity [where all live] and He grasp our future reality and brought it into the present. Jesus was simply saying, in the future, in My kingdom, there will be no death. I will not allow it. He did these miracles to demonstrate this truth.

The Open Door

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:1-6, NLT

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then He sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

INTRODUCTION

I enjoy reading the commentary of Warren W. Wiersbe. The man fascinates me: he pastored the Moody Bible Church is Chicago, Illinois and somehow managed to write a commentary of both Old and New Testament. What is more amazing: He practice an open door policy. When people called him for help, he laid down his studies and helped. He said, “I was tempted once to get an unlisted number but the night  before, a desperate man called who was contemplating suicide. I like to think that I had something to do with saving this man’s life.”

Jesus did not have an unlisted number and He was a very busy man with important things on His agenda; yet He never refused to help anyone who called on him in humility and faith. He did spend the night alone at times and rise long before sun up which is the best way to get your quiet time in but it encourages me to know that there are others like me who feel a call to respond to needs.

TRANSITION

Luke begins chapter 9 with Jesus sending out the 12 on a mission as an extension of His ministry and as a glimpse of things to come. Notice the sequence…

I. JESUS CALLS THEM TOGETHER

{As and object lesson, call your staff or deacons to come forward and them gather them around you. Huddle, whisper an encouragement to them and send them back out into the congregation} Then make the following points. The Disciples were…..

  1. They were called out–out of the world, the masses at large.
  2. They were called to–gather. Called to Jesus!
  3. They were called for–A Mission {Heal, cast out demons, proclaim the gospel}

II. JESUS GIVES THEM POWER AND AUTHORITY

  1. Power–dynamis {dü’-nä-mēs} The power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature,

    power for performing miracles, moral power,  the power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts. The English definition of ‘dynamic’ is relating to energy, motion, or physical force always active or changing. We generally think of dynamic as the power of force like a hydroelectric dam.

  2. Authority–exousia {eks-ü-sē’-ä} The power of choice, leave or permission,

    the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege), the power of rule, authority over mankind. Examples would be congressmen, judges, State Troopers, Police, Military.

  3. Power and Authority delegated: The disciples did not have inherent power, they had only the power that Jesus gave them. Their authority came from their call, commission, the fact they were sent by Jesus Himself.

III. JESUS INSTRUCTED THEM

It is not fair to send a delegation on a mission without some training or instruction: Jesus gave His disciples both. Jesus instructions were–

  1. Take nothing for your journey. {Material things can slow us down, encumber and weight us down–the lighter the load, the more speed on the road}
  2. Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes.
  3. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. {Don’t waste time, your mission is urgent}
  4. If a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” The Jewish Rabbis would shake the dust off their feet when leaving Gentile territory. Most folks believe that Jesus is saying, “Treat those who reject like pagans and keep moving.” We have to look for fertile soil. As a young preacher, I thought my job was to go after the most notorious sinners in the community and of course, many of these had been witnessed to by a dozen preachers and showed no signs of repentance but only wanted to argue. I had evangelist Junior Hill come and help me in Revival. It was a very small church: we were tickled when we had over 50 in SS. Junior and I had been knocking on doors for a couple of days when Junior said, “Jack, you are visiting the wrong people. We have not visited a soul who has any interest in the kingdom of God.” He instructed me to keep my head up during the invitation and get the names of those who raised hands. We began on Wednesday to visit the ones who had showed interest and before the meeting was over {Friday night}, we had seven professions of faith.

IV. JESUS SENT THEM

There are some great things about being sent especially by someone greater and you can’t get greater than Jesus…

  1. There is no pressure to succeed. The disciples were given detailed instruction. Their responsibility was to comply with the instructions. Obedience was their focus. Jesus did not say, “If they don’t respond, I am holding you responsible.”
  2. There is no pressure to be popular. Popularity has nothing to do with your mission. Simply obey instructions–preach the gospel of the kingdom and leave the rest to your Commander and Chief.
  3. There is no fear of rejection. They are not rejecting you, they are rejecting the one who sent you.

CONCLUSION

Example: I grew up as a little brother which means I had two older brothers. Trust me, they never responded to my commands but when sent by Mother or Daddy, there was some authority in the message. Had nothing to do with me delivering the message but everything to do when the one who sent the message.

Ernest Prayer

Scripture: James 5:17-18

 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Introduction

The Jews had made Elijah more than man, he was a semi-divine or a demi-god. They admired him so much, they gave him god status. When Jesus prayed from the cross, Eli, Eli, some of the Jews thought that Jesus was actually calling for Elijah to save Him. James want his Jewish readers to face reality. Elijah was just a man, not God. Yet Elijah prayed and the rain stopped, he prayed again and the rain came down. He also called down fire from heaven on four separate occasions. Elijah was human but he was also a powerful intercessor.

The key word in the Greek is energeō which is used twice and this is most evident in the ESV…great power and working is the same Greek word energeō. I highlighted energeō in the verses below so you can see what I am talking about.

  • AV–The effectual fervent [energetic]  prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
  • NRSV–The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
  • NASB–The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
  • NLT–The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
  • NIV–The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
  • GNT–The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.
  • NCV–When a believing person prays, great things happen
  • ESV–The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
  • Barclay–The prayer of a good man, when it is set to work, is very powerful.
  • JEV–The prayer of an obedient follower, when it is set in motion, is very powerful.

TRANSITION

In order to help us cover the material but not repeat ourselves; we are going to use an out line: Elijah Prayed…He prayed PassionatelyPersistently, and Powerfully.

I. FIRST: ELIJAH PRAYED PASSIONATELY

James has just reminded us in verse 15: The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much and then is verse 17 he says “Elijah prayed earnestly.” I have struggled to get my mind around this concept. I have wondered if it were even possible for me to pray earnestly. As I illustrated with multiple translation, James 5:17 is not easy to translate.

Tasker says: a righteous man’s prayers differ from the prayers of others, by virtue of their earnestness and their fervency. So Tasker is indicating that the word energeō can suggest earnestness and fervency and I can see this, it not a stretch theologically. Energetic things bounce, move, stir, generate, create heat, etc. Earnestness is showing serious intention, showing depth and sincerity of feeling. I guess you could say, “It is high energy originating from the heart.” Some translate it “Heart felt”.

Fervency is warmth or intensity of feeling; ardor; zeal; or fervor. I think what James is saying is: There is a lot of power {energeō} in the energetic, heart-felt, prayer of a righteous man. The word ‘righteous’ is dikaios which means righteousness coming from obedience to God’s law. The opposite of transgression. So you could say, There is a lot of power {energeō} in the energetic, heart-felt, prayer of a person following Jesus.

II. ELIJAH PRAYED PERSISTENTLY

 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Elijah was a man of prayer; he did not pray occasionally, he prayed continually. Paul challenged the Thessalonians in verse 5:17 of his first epistle, “Pray without ceasing.” The NIV reads “Pray continually.” The Holman reads, “Pray constantly.”

Now Elijah, who was from Tish-be in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” Some point out that this is a prophecy not a prayer but I submit that prophecy is inspired by prayer. We know he prayed only once on Mount Carmel…“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”
After the confrontation with the false prophets, Elijah prayed again. Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his kneesSeven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”
So Elijah prayed and he prayed again. The key to a powerful prayer life is to make prayer a habit. Pray continually without ceasing.

III. ELIJAH PRAYED POWERFULLY

James 5:18…Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. Elijah’s prayers were productive, they brought about a result and sometimes it was immediate, sometimes not.

We can covet practically anything for the wrong reason. I remember in my early days praying for the LORD to make me a soul winner. Looking back, I am 99.9% sure that my motives were selfish. I wasn’t wanting to win souls for souls sake or for Christ sake: I wanted to do it for Jack’s sake and glory. I am quite certain that our Heavenly Father is not going to make you powerful in prayer by your asking.

I would like to be able to call down fire from heaven. I don’t necessarily want God to consume my enemies on my command but it would be nice to scare the hades out of them. God is not going to make us powerful in prayer until we reach a state where He can trust us with that kind of awesome power. Many agree that prayer is the greatest energy source in the universe. I happen to be a member of this group.

Prayer must become a Passion before it can become a Power. It has to be a persistent practice before it can become a potent power.

[This sermon is unfinished and unedited. Actually all my sermons are unedited as you no doubt have discovered.]

A Miracle Within A Miracle

SCRIPTURE: Luke 8:40-48

40 On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come home with him. 42 His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.

As Jesus went with him, He was surrounded by the crowds. 43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” 47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched Him and that she had been immediately healed. 48 “Daughter,” Jesus said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace!”

Introduction

Dr. Adrian Rogers referred to this passage as a miracle within a miracle. Dr. Warren Wiersbe points out the contrast between Jairus and the woman with an issue of blood.

Jairus                                                      Woman

_________________________________________________________________

VIP, President of the Synagogue                             Eusebius-A gentile from Caesarea Philippi

Had an obvious need [dying child]                         Had a hidden need [constant bleeding]

Wealthy                                                                           Broke

Approached Jesus with confidence                         Approached Jesus with fear

Experienced 12 years of joy [daughter]                 Experienced 12 years of suffering

Leader of worship                                                        Barred from worship [defiled, unclean]

Man with a name                                                         Woman with shame

What a contrast! But they had something in common: They desperately needed Jesus.

Lets give consideration to this woman with the constant flow of blood.

I. SHE WAS DESPERATE.

Mark said, “She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.” She had tried everything and spent everything and the results was she was worse, not better. We all know that Jesus should be our first response but usually, He is our last resort. God’s patience with us is incredible.

II. SHE WAS DESTITUTE

Destitution is to be without, to suffer from lack of resources or support. She didn’t have any money, no friends or family that we know of. She had nothing to offer to Jesus. The only thing she could give Him was her problem. God’s grace is amazing. We come to Christ the way the prodigal came to his father, barefoot, busted and broken. We have nothing of real worth; nothing that God needs yet Jesus is known for loving sinners, thank God.

III. SHE WAS DEFILED

The woman has an irregular menstrual cycle. She bleed all the time and obviously, this produces real problems.

  1. Hindered her from having a husband or family.
  2. It sapped her of energy and put her in a survival mode.
  3. It made her ceremonially unclean. She could not attend worship. By Jewish law, she was not to be in public.

IV. SHE WAS DISCOURAGED

To discourage is to deprive of courage or confidence. When people want to destroy your courage, they begin by working on your confidence. This woman’s confidence was very low. She basically slipped up behind Jesus who was walking in the midst of crowd of people on their way to visit a VIP. She worked her way into the enter circle and then went to the ground crawling until she was in arms length and then she reached desperately and touched the tassel on the fringe of Jesus outer garment. She believed that if she could touch Jesus garment, she would be healed.

This was a bold step on her part and she did her best not to be noticed. She was violating the Jewish law by being in the crowd and touching a clean person was a further violation; so she was nervous and for good reason. Have you ever participated in some illegal and had that extra anxiety of being caught?

Her mission was a success until Jesus just stopped dead in His tracks and said, “Who touched me?” There was a moment silence and Peter couldn’t stand it, he blurted out, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” Jesus responded, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” More silence as Jesus scans the audience and then the woman, feeling the scrutiny of the all seeing eyes of Jesus came to Jesus trembling and fell at his feet. She explained her reasons and everyone heard her. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace!”

Conclusion

I think it was Augustine who said, “Jesus loves each of us as if there is only one of us.” This is a great story about the power, the compassion and love of Jesus. The good news is: He loves you just like He did this woman and all his followers. His love for you is as real as it was for this woman:

  1. Confess your faith in Jesus publically. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t hide in the crowd.
  2. Upon your open confession; Jesus will give you assurance and peace.

God Is Great, Demons Are Real and People Are Crazy

Scripture: Luke 8:26-39, NLT

26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town.

28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit.

32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs.  So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. 35 People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.

So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.

INTRODUCTION

About 5 years ago, our granddaughter Mylee was saying her night prayers [I think she was like three years old] and she prayed…”God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.” I didn’t understand until one of my children told me that it was the title of a country song. Billy Currington came out with this hit in 2008. Billy and Mylee got two out of three: God is indeed GREAT and people are definitely CRAZY. Since beer is a drug and does untold damage to the family, I had to edit that part out–so the title of my sermons is GOD IS GREAT, DEMONS ARE REAL AND PEOPLE ARE CRAZY. You will see all three clearly from our text.

I. GOD {JESUS} IS GREAT

I love stories about Jesus and this is one of my favorites. I don’t know how anyone could read this story and not admire Jesus…He is Great!

  1. Jesus has “Great” courage–[verse 27] As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. [naked as a jay bird and screaming]. Matthew adds that he approached Jesus screaming and Mark said “he ran toward Jesus.” So you step out of the boat on to the beach and here comes a man running straight toward you naked, bleeding from cutting himself, and screaming at the top of his lungs. What would I do, “Get back in the boat ASAP and get the heck out of Dodge. What did Jesus do? He stood calmly waiting on the demoniac to approach. Do you have that kind of courage?
  2. Jesus has “Great” compassion–As soon as Jesus saw him, He knew what the problem was and began speaking to the demons that inhabited this poor man. Not only is Jesus not afraid of our problems, He loves us so much that He intercedes and stands between us and the problem.
  3. Jesus has “Great” power–Jesus spoke directly to the demons and they obeyed His command. Jesus had authority over demons. There were 6,000 demons but they were not match for Jesus. He sent them packing, thus liberating the poor tortured man.

II. DEMONS ARE REAL

I not here to talk a lot about demons; I don’t know much. I don’t major on demonology and I don’t advise you to either. I do believe in demons. Jesus recognized them and although I understand much less than Jesus, I believe they exist. From this one story, I can tell you seven things about demons;

  1. Demons always recognize Jesus [v.28]
  2. Demons pray–three times they beg Jesus [v.28, 30,32] and Jesus answers their prayer. Figure this out theologians. I can’t explain it, I’m just telling you what is in scripture.
  3. Demons are frightening–demons can scare people, they shriek, they scream, they disturb your mind and your peace. They are experts at torture. You want nothing to do with demons. Stay away from the occult-fear it like the plague.
  4. Demons will enslave–When they get a hold on you, they do not let go. This man was enslaved to destructive habits, he cut himself with stones.
  5. Demons can empower–this man had incredible strength, they community had put him in chains but he could break the chains.  The antichrist will be empowered by the devil. You would not want to confront demons in the flesh. You will end up like the seven sons of Sceva, beaten to a pulp and stripped.
  6. Demons are destructive–when Jesus allowed them to enter the swine, they ran down the clefts into the sea and drowned. It was like Jesus hit the fast forward button and said, “When you do business with demons, this is what happens.” Avoid drugs, any form of meditation that is not Christ centered.
  7. Demons are subject to Christ–they are not all powerful.

III. PEOPLE ARE CRAZY

This story begins and ends with crazy people. Listen folks, if you:

  • In you Streak-Go without clothes: run all over the country naked…you might be crazy!
  • In you Slash your wrist and cut yourself with sharp objects just to inflict pain and see blood…you might be crazy!
  • If you Shriek and scream to the top of your lungs…you might be crazy!
  • If you Sleep in a grave yard or a funeral parlor…You might be crazy!
  • If you have supernatural Strength and can snap chains…You might be crazy!

But the demoniac was healed of his craziness. He was sitting calmly and in his right mind. The real crazy folks in this story are the Gerasenes [ge-rä-sā-no’s ]. [gee-raw-so-nos]

  1. Sanity, defined by some is being in touch with, or facing, reality. Thus insanity would be the denial of reality. The Gerasenes [gee-raw-so-nos] were out of touch with reality. They saw the miraculous transformation of a demon possessed man. Instead of screaming and running naked, he was sitting calmly, with clothes on and carrying on a conversation. He was a radically changed man and they knew it. Have you or I seen anything so radical as this man’s transformation? The Ge-ra-se-nes were denying reality.
  2. Crazy people make bad judgments: the Gerasenes valued the price of hogs more than the value of a human soul. William Barclay: “No thing [including animals] in this world can ever be as important as a persons soul.” Tell that to PETA or Planned Parenthood or should I say, tell that to the democrats. This country has gone nuts. We are crazy. We slaughter babies like they are sheep and it is sanctioned by our courts. Spotted Owls and Polar Bears have more protection than the unborn. If that is not insanity, I don’t know what is!  We elect a sleaze ball like Bill Clinton; for the first time in American history we have a president that flaunts his sexual immorality and then we elect him again. Is this not crazy? Then we elect a community organizer which means a person who knows how to organize a mod and he is supported financially by the other mod, one that we here before he began organizing and we elect him to be commander in chief. He never served in the Military. We don’t know for a fact that he is even an American citizen, he never had a job, never ran a business and never paid taxes until he became a politician. Then after he does what he said he would do which is to destroy American by destroying its foundations: the family, the forefathers and the constitution and we elect him again. Now tell me the general public is not crazy. What we are doing is insane.
  3. But the Crazy of the craziest is to ask Jesus to shove off. They invited Jesus to leave: they insisted that He leave and He left. If the LORD speaks to you today and you tell Him to but out and leave you alone, how insane is that? When we banned scripture and prayer from classrooms, was that not an invitation for Jesus to leave?

Storms

STORMS

Scripture: Luke 8:22-25

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”

The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

INTRODUCTION

You have heard me say a thousand times that life is a series of storms. You are either in one, coming out of one, in between one or headed into one. Some storms of our own making but some come on us without warning and we have no explanation.

I. STORMS HAPPEN: THEY HAPPEN TO EVERYONE.

In concluding the sermon on the mount, Jesus said that both foolish and wise face storms… [Matthew 7:24-27] “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Storms come to everyone, to the good as well as the evil. Job was a good man who feared God and hated evil. He was literally and figuratively hit by a horrific storm.

We should not worry about storms–We cannot prevent storms: they happen.

Jonah made his storm but the Disciples were not in disobedience, they had done exactly what Jesus told them to do. Jonah created his own storm by his rebellion but these guys have not rebelled. They are simply doing what Jesus told them to do and bam, the storm hits.

II. STORMS CAN ARISE SUDDENLY WITHOUT WARNING

This particular storm came out of nowhere and hit suddenly. If you have been to Israel, you probably know that the sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level and it reminds me of a stadium or arena. It is feed from the north by the Jordon river. On the east bank of the river there are clefts hundreds of feet high. The Jordan begins at the foot of Mount Hermon with the water from the snow melt on Hermon’s peaks. It is a very small river. Matter of fact, it no larger than Flint Creek. The river bed cut through the hills of Galilee on the west side has the high clefts on the east side making the river bed is a type of conduit. When the cold air from the north meets the warmer water and air from the South, you have turbulence. The lake is not that big but these storms can blow in so quickly that boats do not have time to get to land.

The thing about a storm is they can come when you least expect them. This is why we need to walk humbly, low to the ground. When I look back at the major storms in my life, they came out of nowhere. I didn’t have a clue.  Paul said, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [I Cor. 10:12] Sometimes when you think things are going great, bam! The storm hits.

III. STORMS TEST OUR FAITH AND CHARACTER

Jesus used this storm as a teaching point. His disciples were lacking in faith and understanding. They knew that Jesus could do incredible things that they couldn’t understand but they had no idea that He controlled the weather.

When the storms come and we are being tested: the test is not for the teacher’s benefit. Jesus knew before the storm that the disciples had little faith.

Storms are a part, a big part of our sanctification. We learn more about ourselves and God during the storms.

IV. STORMS TEACH US TO DEPEND ON CHRIST ALONE

I don’t know what the disciples did initially but I am willing to bet that it was not to wake up Jesus. Jesus is probably exhausted from the day and needs rest desperately. The boat was filling with water so I imagine they tried bailing the water out but their effort was hopeless. I can see them calling on Peter, “Go wake Jesus up, tell Him we are about to drown.” Peter probably said, “I’m not waking Him up. I have already heard His “O ye of little faith sermon,” if you want Him awakened, you do it yourself. Finally, they went together.

Over time, we all learn, as did the disciples, that Jesus is in the STORM with us, don’t be shy about calling on Him. We learn as the Joseph Scriven wrote years ago…

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

IV. STORMS BRING US TOGETHER

Storms have a way of making us see our need for others. The Disciples were not arguing about who was greatest here, they came to gather and petitions Christ.

V. STORMS REVEAL THE POWER OF CHRIST

The disciples were terrified [phobeō] and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

The disciples were awestruck, they were overwhelmed by wonder. What this means is: they had a worship service right there in the boat.

I think about this all the time: what is missing in today’s worship? It’s not music. They didn’t have any music on this night unless you count the thunder. It isn’t the preaching. Jesus didn’t preach. We have good music and preaching; what we are missing today is the awestruck wonder.

A lot of people try to create the wonder and awe by artificial means [lights, sound effects, talent] but this kind of wonder and awe is not man made. Only the glorious presence and power of Christ can produce this kind of wonder and awe.

STEWARDSHIP OF TRUTH

STEWARDSHIP OF TRUTH

16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. 17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.

18 So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”

Introduction:

When I first starting studying the passage, I thought is was three isolated and random comments that was unrelated to the context but the more I studies, the more I could see that these three verses are very related.

I think the key is verse 18, “So pay attention to how you hear.” Jesus did not say what you hear but how you hear. Let’s think of some examples:

  1. The Jewish Religious leaders listened to Jesus teaching but how did they listen, what was their attitude in listening. They were listening to find fault. They had zero intention of taking the word of Christ and applying it to their life.
  2. Some listen for knowledge. They have a desire to know more about the kingdom but they have no desire to obey or put into practice what they hear. These are they who become puffed up, inflated with knowledge and it creates a spirit of pride.
  3. A true disciples listens with the intention of obeying. The word of God has transforming power in the disciples life because he is committed and ready to obey.

THUS: OUR FIRST RESPONSIBILITY, AFTER RECIEVING THE WORD [FERTILE SOIL]…

I. IS TO SHARE THE WORD

“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.

No one lights a lamp and then puts it in the cellar or under a bed. You lift the light up, raise it high, place it on a table or a mantle. You get it as high as possible. The light, the truth of the Kingdom of God is not for one small esoteric group: it is not for Jews only, the elect only, the rich only, the intellectuals only. The gospel is for all and should not be hidden from anyone.

When the sower broadcast the seed and it feel of fertile ground, the ground was fallow and broken thus receiving the seed. But the purpose of seed is not to stay buried forever. It stays buried for a few days and then it sprouts. It is a grave sin to keep the gospel to ourselves. The gospel is to be shared. The very nature of the gospel demands to be shared.

II. TO SHARE THE WORD, WE NEED TO BE TRANSPARENT

17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.

The concept in this verse is shared many times in the bible; too many to ignore.

  • Luke 12:2-3–The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!
  • Matthew 10:26– But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.”
  • I Corinthians 4:5–So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:14–God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
  • Romans 2:16–And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.

Looking at the context of the scripture, I am sure these versed are talking about personal accountability. They refer to a judgment that is future we all our secrets are going to come out.

The question remains: Why did Jesus share this well quoted proverb here in a section that is talking about sharing the good news of the kingdom?

A couple of things need to happen before you can be a transparent witness.

  1. You must have a clear revelation of Jesus Christ. You need to know Him on a very intimate level and be acquainted with His teachings.
  2. The second fundamental is that Jesus Christ reveal you to you. Phony people make horrible witnesses. Jesus has to show you who you are so that your witness come via an honest and open life. 

This doesn’t mean that you sit down with a lost friend and tell him all the horrible things you have done. It does mean that you stay humble and keep all those horrible sins [that eventually will be brought to the light] in mind.

I’m not perfect, I don’t claim to be. I am very honest when I witness to people about Jesus Christ. I have told people often, “Look, I know you are a better man than I am but you still need Jesus.” We are not going to be effective evangelist until we get real.

III. SHARING THE WORD IS NOT AN OPTION

 “So pay attention to ‘how’ you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”

  1. We become accountable the moment we hear the word of God.
  2. Although the word is nourishment to soul, comfort to the spirit and understanding to the mind: the word by nature cannot be fruitful unless we share it. {Seed in a sack will not get the job done} Seed are destined for the soil, for growth, fruition.
  3. In God’s economy, those who horde the gospel [leave the seed in a sack in the barn] are sinning against the nature of the kingdom. What happens to the farmer who quits sowing?

The perfect illustration is in the next few verses:

19 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to see you.”

21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”

Dr. J.W. MacGorman in the Broadman commentary says: Jesus family came after Him hoping to talk Him into returning to Nazareth, His hometown, where He on His first visit was rejected. They wanted Him to do miracles in His home town, to give them a second chance. We have no evidence that Jesus ever returned. They had a golden opportunity and they blew it.

If we are not good stewards of what He gives, we will lose even what we had. There is nothing stagnant in the Christian life: we are always receiving and giving. If we stop giving, we stop receiving.

The Parable Of The Soils

Text: Luke 8:4-15

One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

INTRODUCTION

Luke is filled with parables which is one reason I choose this book to be my last. Luke tells us stories that know of the other gospels cover: The unfruitful tree, the Good Samaritan, the Rich Fool, the Prodigal Son and others. Jesus two most popular stories are in Luke’s gospel only: The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan.

I have to be honest, the parable of the Sower has never been my favorite but part of that is from lack of understanding. It is really, the parable of the soils. The story is about our receptivity to the word of God and Jesus is the Living Word, the bible is the printed word. Just as Jesus is greater than Moses, the Living Word is greater than the printed word but the good news is–there is no conflict between the Living and the printed.

In this story, the ‘seed’ is the printed word and you and I are the sowers. There is nothing wrong with the seed: it is perfect, purifying, potent, precious and powerful.

PERFECT

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. [2 Tim. 3:16]

POWERFUL

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. [Heb. 4:12]
“Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces? [Jer. 23:29]

PERFECT

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. [2 Tim. 3:16]

PURFYING

His [Gods] word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! [Jer. 20:9]

POTENT

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. [Isa. 55:11, NASB]

It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.[Isa. 55:11, NLT]

PERMANENT

For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. [I Peter 1:23]
So may we conclude that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the seed but we do have at least two problems: receptivity and faithfulness to sow the seed.

LETS TALK FOR A MINUTE ABOUT RECEPTIVITY

Three of the four soils that Jesus tells about have either no receptivity or poor receptivity.
  • Seed on the foot path represented the hard hearted. The seed basically hits and bounces, the ground is so hard it repels. Rain, wind or birds are going to get it.
  • Seed over the rocky ground represents the shallow soil. Some receptivity but not enough for depth [like the grass over a septic tank during dry weather]. These are they that have a shallow emotional experience and then think they are saved. They never have a doubt because Satan doesn’t want to wake them up. He wants them to believe that they are saved because they repented to some degree and had an emotional conversion but they never committed their life to Christ. The key to assurance is knowing where you are today. Do you love Jesus? Do you feel His divine constraint on your life? Do you love His word? Do you share His word? These are the questions you need to ask.
  • Seed among the weeds and thorns represents the “Crowded Life.” These are they who don’t have time for daily bible reading or visiting widows, nursing homes and hospitals. They don’t have time to teach LCBS or work in the ministries of the church. They have too many other things going on to make Jesus a priority. He is on their list but He is not at the top.

William Barclays has some interesting comments about our listening to the word of God. He says that Jesus is looking for listeners who:

  1. Listen actively and attentively. [Concentration]
  2. Meditate upon what they hear. They turn it over and over in their mind and in our case, compare it to the written word of God. [Meditation]
  3. Put it into practice. They know that if it is true that it will work and so they put it to the test. This is true transformation, believer’s incarnating the word of God. If you don’t believe in tithing, chances are, you have never tried it. The same is true with personal devotion, ministry, missions and evangelism. [Application]

SOWING

I do understand or at least, I do not believe that Jesus is giving us percentages here but he did say elsewhere that more would reject than would receive. In this story, it is three of four which would be 75 out of every hundred. There are 7 billion people on planet earth and the great majority is not fertile soil.
Some believe that Jesus told this story for the benefit of his disciples. Our responsibility to spread the word and man’s receptivity are two different things. We have some control over the first and none over the second. I know the word well enough to share if I simply obey the word and the Spirit and don’t give in to laziness and indifference but I have no control over the way people respond to the word I share.
Obviously, we are to spread the word through preaching and teaching but since the greatest receptivity comes from those who know they are sinners, we have to spread the word personally with those who do not know Christ. We have no idea who will respond and who will not but that is not our business. Our business is to share and we are going to share until we care.
This idea that because the majority don’t care and are not receptive to the word does not let us off of the hook. We have a responsibility to spread the word and that is not going to happen until we believe that men are lost without Christ and that the word is never shared in vain.

CONCLUSION

It is my conviction that Jesus did some teaching here and some prophesying. I think the underlying message is: Share the word to everyone, leave the results to God and don’t be discouraged by the lack of response.

Bro. Inman was fond of saying, “I never heard a message that I didn’t get something out of it but I have had a few narrow escapes.” You have had a lot of narrow escapes. I hadn’t preached in great sermons but I have preached some good ones but I have laid my share of eggs. Generally, a preacher has a sense of success or failure but I have learned: it doesn’t mean a thing. The sermons where I was convinced I struck out swinging on three straight pitches have been the ones that God used.

What I am saying is: I do not trust my emotions anymore. I don’t rely on them. Of course, I would like to feel good after every sermon but it doesn’t work that way unless you are narcissistic. Over the years I have transferred my confidence from myself to God’s word. I don’t generally go home feeling like a failure no matter how the congregation responds. I hesitate to use the word never for fear that I will go home feeling like a failure today.

I am rambling and must close: Let me tell you what I appreciate about the Gideons. It is there simple philosophy that if you get the printed word into the hands of the hurting and the hungry, good things are going to happen.

Let me tell you what I appreciate about AWANA and I know many of you do not appreciate them. The great thing about AWANA is that these workers are planting the seed of God’s word into the hearts and minds of small children. I’m about to make 90% of the Senior Adults mad and 50% of the Middle Adults. There is more potential in the FORTE on Sunday night than there is here in the sanctuary.