A Better Resurrection

Scripture Text: Hebrews 11:35

Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection.

INTRODUCTION

I want to plant two words in your mind “better resurrection.” Think about what this implies. If there is a better resurrection, there must be more than one resurrection to choose from.

Actually, there is more than one resurrection.

I. There is a spiritual resurrection

This resurrection that takes place upon regeneration. Paul said….

  • Romans 6:4-5… Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17… Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
  • Ephesians 2:11…For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

So there is a spiritual or metaphysical resurrection that takes place at conversion. I am not making light of this resurrection; it is essential. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you need to make an appointment because something is terribly wrong. Every believer experiences this spiritual resurrection in Christ.

II. There is the resurrection from the dead

Women received back their dead by resurrection. [Verse 35:a]

I can think of five women who received back their dead by a literal resurrection…

  • The widow of Zarephath–I Kings 17, Elijah raises her son from the dead
  • The woman at Shunem–II Kings 4, Elisha raises her son from the dead
  • The widow at Nain–Luke 7, Jesus raises her son from the dead
  • The wife of Jarius–Luke 8, Jesus raises a daughter [child] from the dead
  • The sisters of Lazarus–John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

All these resurrections are miraculous and rare. They do not represent the norm. They do serve as examples of Christ’s power of death but they do not represent the best resurrection: there is something better because all these people had to die again. Lazarus suffered the trauma of death twice. I don’t really have a desire to go through it twice.

Just this past week, I saw a friend depart. He had been battling cancer for a couple of years. He had been attending our church for about three years. He was a servant, a skilled servant who knew how to motivate and lead. When a pastor sees a person of this caliber, they get excited. He told me a few months ago…”Bro. Jack, I am joining the church the next Sunday I am present and I want to rededicate my life.” He wanted to spend his retirement years helping our church minister to the hurting. I was so excited but he never got to come back; his chemo kept him too low to be in crowds and then the cancer spread. As I looked at him laying in the hospital bed, I had mixed emotions…”Lord if you raise him up, he will have to go through all of this again…not my will be thine be done.” My last prayer with him was “Father, give my friend Gary the best; don’t give him what I want, give him your absolute best.”

III. There is a better resurrection

They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection [Hebrews 11:35b]

This is not just a resurrection as in the case of Lazarus. He was raised to the same old life but the better resurrection is to a brand new life. Paul said, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” I have always translated this verse, to live is Christ to die is a promotion. In the great resurrection, the better resurrection, we are going to be raised with perfect bodies, not subject to sickness or death.

I Corinthians 15

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.

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Accountability

Scripture: Luke 10:13-20, NLT

13 “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 14 Yes, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you. 15 And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead.”

16 Then he said to the disciples, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.

17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”

18 “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. 20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

21 At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

22 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

23 Then when they were alone, he turned to the disciples and said,“Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen.24 I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

INTRODUCTION

Every sermon should have an introduction and a good story relating to the point is a great way to introduce a sermon. Today, I have neither. I have studies the scripture and I have three points of interest that help me and I hope will be a help to you.

I. WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED

Jesus made His headquarters in Capernaum, home of four of his twelve disciples. Capernaum is on the North side of the sea of Galilee and very close to Korazin and Bethsaida. Obviously, Jesus spent more time in these towns than in others. These people heard more sermons, saw more miracles than other cities. In spite of all Jesus signs and wonders in  these towns, none of the three repented. As a whole they rejected Christ.

Some have the idea that can close our minds to receiving truth and somehow that will make us unaccountable but this is not what Jesus is saying. Jesus presented the truth, but these three communities were not listening. As a whole, they rejected the truth.

Jesus went a step further: if you reject my servants, you are rejecting My Father in heaven. “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting Me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting Me. And anyone who rejects Me is rejecting God, who sent Me.

II. OUR GREATEST CAUSE FOR JOY IS NOT IN WHAT WE DO FOR CHRIST BUT WHAT HE DOES FOR US.

The disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”

Dr. Warren Wiersbe points out something I messed: we have three things to rejoice in and they ascend in value.

  1. FIRST, WE REJOICE OVER OUR SERVICE. What a joy it is to please Jesus. The disciples obediently obeys Jesus, went out by faith and came back rejoicing. We have an unhappy church because we have an disobedient church. There is great joy in obeying Christ. Great joy in being a herald of the good news.
  2. SECONDLY, WE REJOICE IN OUR SALVATION...Jesus said, “Don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
  3. THIRDLY, WE REJOICE FOR THE SAME REASON JESUS REJOICED…IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD AND HIS PERFECT PLAN. There is a lot I don’t know but there are some things that I can count on…things I am certain of… (1) Christ kingdom will come and His will, will be done.(2) No one can stop His Kingdom; not diabolical satanic evil nor depraved and incompetent mankind. No one has the power to sabotage God’s Kingdom. Satan may win a victory in a local church now and then but he does not have a prayer when it comes to overthrowing God’s kingdom. This truth gives me great joy. (3) Regardless of my estate, God remains just forever. The devil constantly accuses me. He tells me that I am not loved by the Father, I am not among the chosen, that my life has been a waste, that no one sees Christ in me and that I am nothing other than a big hypocrite. Sometimes I get tired of dealing with him and just tell him, “You may be right about me but you are wrong about Jesus. He is God’s son and when the dust settled, you will be a defeated foe.” Then I rejoice in that truth. I agree with Dr. Wiersbe, the highest form of rejoicing is to rejoice in the Sovereignty of God.

III. WE DO NOT RELATE TO GOD ON THE BASES OF INTELLECT–SPIRITUAL TRUTH IS REVEALED

At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

In getting to know God, there are rules of engagement:

  1. We must approach God humbly. God loathes pride. It was pride that turned an angel into a devil.
    • So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. 18:4)
    • But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matt. 23:12)
    • For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11, 18:14)
    • Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
    • “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” (James 4:6)
    • Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (James 4:10)
    • And all of you, serve each other in humility, for but favors the humble. (I Peter 5:5)
    • So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. (I Peter 5:6)
    • What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. (Isaiah 5:21)
  2. Intellect and knowledge can help us know about God but only through revelation can we know God intimately.
  3. You cannot know God a part from Christ. The only way God can give Himself to you in through Christ. The Jewish Religious leaders pretended to know and love God. Jesus denounced them as hypocrites. Jesus said,  “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me…. For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does.”

CONCLUSION

22 “My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

If you pretend to know God, yet you have rejected Christ–you are deceived. The only way to know the Father is through the Son.

A Fume Or A Perfume?

A Fume Or A Perfume, which do you want to be?

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

12 When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. 13 But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia to find him.

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

INTRODUCTION

Tonight scripture  comes from Paul’s second missionary journey. Paul left from Jerusalem went due North then cut across Asia Minor [Turkey] to Troas on the Aegean Sea. Troas is located on the Northeastern side of the sea just South of the Hellespont. It is a hop, skip and jump from Traos to Macedonia. The voyage has  series of islands with the center most point being the Samothrace.

I have struggled to organize our material but finally came up with an outline that will guide me through tonight’s thoughts. We are going to examine Paul’s ANXIOUS MIND, God’s AMAZING GRACE and our AWESOME TASK.

I. PAUL ANXIOUS MIND

Paul is expecting to see Titus at Troas but he does not show up and Paul is visibly upset. Paul became anxious; so much so that he is dysfunctional. A door of opportunity is open before him but he lacks the presence of mind to enter. He is worried sick over the Corinthian situation. So much so that he has no peace of mind. He becomes so obsessed with anxiety over the Corinthian situation that he does not seize the opportunity to evangelize Troas. This is so not like Paul. Under normal circumstance, a team of wild horse couldn’t stop him from evangelizing.

I am so thankful for the book of 2 Corinthians. This book reveals a human side of Paul that we would not know otherwise. Although worrying is a sin and is stimulated by lack of faith, Paul confesses his anxiety and lack of peace, so much so that he was rendered dysfunctional. I glad the moment of weakness is recorded because I have many such moments and it encourages me to know that the same thing happened to Paul.

Worry is similar to grief in that it is a sign of love. Parents who love and care for their children, worry about them. When you run into a parent that does not worry, it is because they do not care. When I was a teenage and young man, my Mother had a curfew and it was mid-night. I heard kids say more than once, “I don’t have a curfew, I can stay out all night if I choose.” They were actually saying, “My parents don’t care…they are not waiting up for me.”

I understand that we are not to become or remain obsessed with anxiety but I think a little anxiety every now and then is a good sign. I know one thing for sure, I can relate to Paul. I know that anxiety hinders study, sermon preparation, devotional time, bible study, evangelism and mission. We will never produce our best until we relax. This is why recreation is so important to people who have stressful jobs–our creative juices, the inspiration is not going to move in a tense body.

So I realize anxiety can work against us but in Paul’s case it was a definite sign that he cared deeply about the church at Corinth.

II. GOD’S AMAZING GRACE

When I first read tonight text, I saw Paul’s anxiety clearly but I did not see God’s amazing grace. After reading the passage 20-25 times and reading every commentary I could get my hand on, bingo, I saw it and then I thought, how could I not see it? Paul is a bit distracted and discouraged but then the thought of a Roman General came to mind and he realized that he was a part of General Jesus conquest.

When a Roman General had a great victory or conquest of additional territories, the Emperor would do a parade in his honor; something similar to our ticker tap parade. The parade would feature the general leading the procession riding in a gold chariot. The General would be followed closely by his sons, then his officers, then the priest burning incense, then the captives. It was a big deal in Roman culture. The incense would be a fragrance to those who were allied to the General but it was be an odor, a stench to the captives. The parade would end at the Circus Maximus and then the captives would be thrown into the arena with wild beast.

Jesus is the conquering general [King] and we are members of the royal family. We follow him as He leads the way. In Christ we are more than conquers. Jesus won the battle; He is the victor but those of us who follow Him get to walk in victory with him. Just as the family of a general would have nothing to do with the battle, yet get to celebrate the victory. It is a beautiful picture of GRACE. We walk in victory because of what Jesus did in our behalf.

Paul said, “Not only do we walk with HIM, we are the incense.” We are a ‘perfume’ to the believers but we are a ‘fume’ to the unbelieving. To believers we are a pleasure, to unbelievers we are a pestilence.  The key is to understand that we are marching in the victory of Jesus.

III. OUR AWESOME TASK

I like the question raised in verse 16…who is adequate for such a task as this?

The word ‘adequate’ is hikanos which is used 45 times in N.T. It is the same word John the Baptist used when he said, “I am not fit to baptize You.” In reference to the Roman Centurion, it is translated ‘worthy.’ It is also translated sufficient and enough in size, time, length. Paul answers his own question in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6…

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit.

Getting the gospel to the world is a monumental task. To be honest with you, it blows me away. Had God said to me personally, “Jack, your task and yours alone, is to get the gospel to the world,” I would have collapsed in despair. Thank God it is not my personal charge but that given to the church. Even so, it is still an AWESOME TASK.

Are we up for the task? Are we adequate? No, a thousand times no, but God via His grace and Spirit will enable us; He will make us adequate.

I heard a story many years ago about a preacher who went to a town in the mid-west to do a revival. It was a small town of lest than 20,000. The First Baptist Church was located on main street just across from stores and businesses. The pastor had a visitation in the day and the revival services at night. Each day when the members came for prayer and assignment, the pastor had cards prepared and he handed one to each prospective visitor. On one of the visitations, a mentally challenged man came in for the prayer meeting and visitation but the pastor ignored him. He didn’t think the man had enough sense to go visiting so he never gave him a card.

You or I would have gotten our feelings hurt: we would have went home and never returned for visitation but this man was unimpeded. The towns leading rebel and church hater ran a furniture business almost directly in front of the church. The mentally challenged man, walked across the street and went into the store. The man was in the middle of a sale but our friend interrupted him, he said, “John, would you like to go to heaven.” John was very irritated that he had been interrupted and embarrassed by the question; he said abruptly, “No, I don’t want to go to heaven!” But before he could say more, the intellectually challenged man said, “Well, go to hell then!” Then he turned and left the store. The businessman was furious. He was much more angry with the pastor and the church than he was this simple man. He tried to finish his sale but he kept hearing the man’s voice be replayed in his mind….”Well, go to hell then!” As the day progressed, the voice became more frequent and it was driving the businessman crazy. By night time, the voice was tormenting him and no matter what he did, the voice kept coming back…”Go to hell then.”

He had no peace. When he began locking his business and getting ready to go home, he noticed people gathering at the church for the revival service. Mysteriously, he was lead across the street and went into the service, sitting on the very back row. By the time the invitation came around, he was broken and contrite, he went forward under heavy conviction and gave his heart to Christ.

The pastor was in shock. Before presenting the man to the congregation, he asked. “John, what prompted you to come tonight?” John told him the story…The intellectually challenged man that you sent today said something that I could not shake. He asked me if I wanted to go to heaven and I rudely said, “No,” to which he said, “Go to hell then.” I have not been able to get that voice out of my head all day.

The story may shock you but it doesn’t me. It is not our ability that works, it is our availability. It is God who works, God who enables and He can use anyone He chooses. I attended the COLS a week or so ago. It was the celebration of the life of a simple man. He was an Ag teacher. A small man physically with a low voice. I had a hard time understanding him. I doubt that he had any evangelistic training in his entire life but he loved people and he knew how to relate. He would go get his pastor or a staff member and carry them to someone he was praying for; he would initiate the conversation and then after a few minutes say something like, “I brought my pastor with me, he has a few words he want to say,” then he stopped talking and went to praying silently. Many of his converts were former students. I would not dare anyone to imitate this man but it would be great if we had folks who would follow his example. I met this man at the church I served in college; got to work with him 18 months. I had never saw anyone like him before or since.

Folks, it does not take degrees, training institutes, diplomacy, eloquence or intellectual brilliance to witness for Christ; it simple takes a desire to be used and willingness to go. It is God who enables, convicts and changes lives. The intellectually challenged man did not change the furniture salesmen’s life , Jesus did.

The Seventy

Scripture: Luke 10:1-12, NASB

Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.

INTRODUCTION

The ministry of the SEVENTY. They were hand picked by Jesus and appointed [as in public office] to go to all the cities on Jesus imminent tour. They were to announce His coming and heal the sick. Jesus gave them some brief instructions and sent them out. What do we learn from these instructions? What a wonderful privilege, to be appointed by Jesus to go before Him and announce His coming. I don’t think there is a greater privilege on earth. Isaiah 52:7 comes to mind…

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!

Based on Jesus comments, we learn several things about being His evangelist and missionaries.

[1] WE MUST HAVE A SENSE OF URGENCY–NO TIME TO WASTE

We don’t think of Jesus as being in a hurry or a rush but he was on the clock, He was scheduled to die as the Passover Lamb in just a few months so time was running out. He was sending the seventy into every town and village that He was planning to visit before His date with the cross. If these men only visited three towns per team, that would be 105 city wide crusades in less than 6 months. There was no time to waste. Jesus said, “Don’t greet others along the way”…you don’t have time to pack…you don’t have time for chit-chat…this is a business trip. If there is anyone thing the Christian church has lost, it is our sense of urgency.

[2] WE MUST REALIZE THE EXISTING SPIRITUAL NEEDS: THIS NEED IS NOW AND IT IS EVERYWHERE.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

The fields are white unto harvest: the harvest is plentiful. The plentiful harvest is a fact stated–it is so because Jesus said it was so. Unfortunately some of us do not see the harvest, we question that Jesus knows what He is saying or that He is saying what He meant. I didn’t see the harvest until recently. I have always operated on Jesus word but to be honest, I did not see the harvest. The harvest doesn’t exist because I have seen it–it exist because it is real and Jesus saw it 2000 years ago.

There are hurting people everywhere and this was Jesus target: He sent the Seventy out to heal the sick and people are hungry for healing. There is a sea of hurt around us but we are so preoccupied with out comfort our self-preservation that we don’t get involved with the pain and hurt that is all around us.

I am convinced that we can reach people if we care enough to meet them at the point of their need but the problem is our selfishness. We don’t want to get involved in a ministry that cost us personally.

[3]  WE MUST BE WILLING TO MAKE OURSELVES VULNERABLE

 Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes… [verse 3-4]

Lambs among wolves, hum, doesn’t sound that good. Sounds like risky business to me. For a lamb to go among wolves, he/she must have a good…trustworthy Shepherd. Jesus said basically, “I’m sending you unarmed into a hostile environment.” I think what the SEVENTY did was exciting, better than any football game. I would have loved being a part of this team. Were they all received well? Did no one get rejected? Every where Paul went, some believed while others rejected and more rejected than received, which is nothing new.

The greatest thing about church visitation is that it takes FAITH. People without faith will not show up. You never know what will happen when you go to knocking on doors. We have a deacon who loves to pull pranks; he sent me and my FAITH team to a house out in the middle of the forest. There were three on my team, we walked onto the front porch and I knocked on the door a man came to the door and he had to stoop to look under the door. A door is 6’8″. I believe he is the biggest man I’ve ever seen in my life; maybe 7’6″,45o pounds and he had the gruffest voice I’ve ever heard, it chilled my blood. He was not being nice and I was running out of things to say in a hurry. I forgot the key question and the faith outline, the two people behind me were literally trembling. The only thing that saved us was the man’s wife: she knew me from a funeral or something and she hollowed, “Bro. Jack, is that you?” and I said, “Yes ma’am.” This brave little woman was at least 3 feet shorter than this giant but she talk to him like he was 6 years old. He moved out of the way and let us in.

If you are fear driven, instead of faith driven, you will not make an evangelist or missionary.

[4] WE MUST REMAIN FOCUSED–WE CANNOT GET DISTRACTED

…and greet no one on the way. [verse 4]

No time for chit-chat. Again, Jesus emphasized the urgency of the mission. There is a job to be done and we don’t have time to pursue other interest. Staying focused has been a struggle for me, I have the tendency to get caught up in things that have no eternal significance.

[5] WE CANNOT CONFER PEACE ON THE UNREPENTANT

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.

When a man rejects Christ, there is nothing we can do other than pray. Our responsibility is to share the good news that the KING is coming but we have no control on their response. On this mission, Jesus placed emphasis on continued movement and not getting bogged down. The SEVENTY were heralding the coming of the KING and the nearness of the Kingdom. They had been assigned certain cities and they had a deadline. They couldn’t stop to try to convince anyone.

[6] WE MUST HUMBLY TAKE HELP WHEN IT IS OFFERED

Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.

The Christian laborer is worthy of his wages. People who help you want to help, they want to be a part of the ministry. We who are on the receiving end should not feel guilty and we should not refuse help when it is offered.

[7] WE MUST CHECK OUR RELIGION AT THE DOOR

 Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you…[V. 9]

The seventy were most likely Jews and Jesus was sending them into the Trans-Jordan area which was mostly Gentile. Jews were not allowed to enter a Gentile home nor share a meal with them. To become a Missionary and Evangelist for Christ, you have to leave your religion at home. We cannot reach people for whom we have contempt. When can not win people to Christ by remaining separated. We have to get closer enough to feel their pain and help bear their burdens. Jesus will tell a story in this chapter about a man who was willing to help others by giving of himself and the same story tells of two religious Jews who ignored the man’s hurt.

[8] WE MUST SHAKE OFF THE DUST WHEN REJECTED

But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.

 

Three Prospective Followers

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:57-62, NLT

57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”

The man agreed, but he said, Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”

62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

INTRODUCTION

As you can clearly see in today’s text, three people are challenged with the thought of following Jesus. Two volunteer and one is asked but none of the tree pan out. Today we are going to look at these three individuals and learn from their experience and the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I. THE FIRST MAN IS AN ENTHUSIASTIC VOLUNTEER

He said, “I will follow You wherever you go.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with what he said, the problem is that he spoke before considering the cost. How do I know this? Because of Jesus response…“Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

Jesus knew the man was volunteering on the emotion and excitement of the moment. The idea or concept of following is…the follower will encounter and experience the same thing as the one to whom he is following.

Let’s say that I set my face toward Augusta and the Master coming up next month and you commit to follow me. I must tell you that I am going through Atlanta, Georgia on I-20. This means heavy traffic, the potential of road rage, wrecks, traffic jams and unsafe exits after dark. If you follow me, all these things will be a risk.

This man was memorized by Jesus no doubt but did he understand where Jesus was going. Jesus was not headed toward health and wealth; He was headed for Gethsemane and Golgotha. He was not going in the direction of fame and fortune but shame and death. Jesus was telling him the truth: if you follow me, you will be homeless, despised and rejected.

I admire Jesus: He does not soft soap the message, He does not water it down, He does not lower the standard. Jesus demands our all, anything less than total self-denial will not work. Jesus did not say, “Great, it is a piece of cake. Following me is easy, it will not cost you a dime, anyone can do it.”

Discipleship is not for the faint of heart or for those who are half-hearted. With Jesus, it is all or nothing. In light of Jesus honesty, Warren W. Wiersbe says, “No wonder the labors are few.”

II. THE SECOND PROSPECTIVE FOLLOWER CANNOT DISENGAGE FROM THE WORLD

He said, “Yes I will follow you but “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

Burying the father was the responsibility of the oldest son and there is no indication that the boys father is any where near death. He is willing to follow Jesus but not willing to make it a priority. It’s almost like saying, “Yes, I will follow You someday but not today. I have some pressing matter to take care of but when I’ve taken care of my business, I will follow You.”

Jesus reply teaches us that Discipleship has a higher priority than even family obligations. The man had siblings who could take care of his father funeral. He may have been worried about collecting his inheritance before following Jesus.

Folks, we cannot follow Jesus until we sever all ties with the world.

III. THE THIRD PROSPECTIVE FOLLOWER CANNOT DISCONNECT FROM THE PAST

“Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”

His answer does seem bad to us but Jesus knew his heart. We take our read from what Jesus said in response…Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” The third man finds it difficult to cut ties that bind him to the past. He lacks the decisiveness and commitment to fast the future. In order to plow a straight row, the plowman has to focus his eyes on a distant goal, like a tree or a post.

The Apostle Paul has the right attitude as is expressed in Philippians 3…I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go but there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me.  I  keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven.

I ran track in college. Although I ran middle distance and cross country, I heard Coach Franks preach to the sprinters– the cardinal sin for a sprinter is to look back…you never look back.

 In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world’s hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his “desire to be a missionary.”   One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was “throwing himself away as a missionary.”
     In response, Borden wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.” Even though young Borden was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden’s classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn’t that he had lots of money. One of them wrote: “He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration.”
      During his college years, Bill Borden made an entry in his personal journal that defined what his classmates were seeing in him. That entry said simply: “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to  Jesus every time.” Borden’s first disappointment at Yale came when the university president spoke in a convocation about the students’ need of “having a fixed purpose.” After that speech, Borden wrote: “He neglected to say what our purpose should be, and where we should get the ability to persevere and the strength to resist temptations.” Surveying the Yale faculty and much of the student body, Borden lamented what he saw as the end result of an empty, humanistic philosophy: moral weakness and sin-ruined lives.
  During his first semester at Yale, Borden began a prayer group that started with himself and one other student but the morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshman were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in such groups.
  Borden’s outreach ministry was not confined to the Yale campus. He cared about widows and orphans and the disabled. He rescued drunks from the streets of New Haven. To try to rehabilitate them, he founded the Yale Hope Mission. One of Bill Borden’s friends wrote…“He might often be found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry fellow to feed him, seeking to lead men to Christ.”
      Borden’s missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Once he fixed his eyes on that goal, Borden never wavered. He also challenged his classmates to consider missionary service. One of them said of him: “He certainly was one of the strongest characters I have ever known, and he put backbone into the rest of us at college. There was real iron in him, and I always felt he was of the stuff martyrs were made of, and heroic missionaries of more modern times.”
    Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: “No retreats.”

      William Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.
     When the news of William Whiting Borden’s death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. “A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice. 
      Was Borden’s untimely death a waste? Not in God’s perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No retreats,” he had written: “No regrets
.”

William Borden grabbed the plow and never looked back: this is what it takes to follow Jesus…“Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to  Jesus every time.”

Church Discipline

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, NLT

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me.Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement.So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.

I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions. 10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11, NASB

But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

INTRODUCTION

Discipline is an unpleasant necessity.  Without discipline, you cannot maintain order and you cannot monitor growth or improvement. Allowing a child to do as they please is detrimental not helpful. Every coach knows that discipline is the key to winning. Nick Saban is not a master at strategy, he is a master at discipline. No one like discipline on either end. I was a strong willed child and my mother beat the hades out of me about once a week. I got more whipping than the other 6 siblings combined. I can testify that discipline is painful, and the more you rebel, the greater the pain.

Its the same with troublemakers in church. If you let them do what ever they please, you are doing a disservice to them as well as the church. When people fear no consequences for their actions, they will take liberties that hurt others. Church discipline is easy to talk about and hard to do. Using 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 as a guide, lets look at what it takes to exercise Church discipline.

I. FIRST OF ALL, IT REQUIRES GOOD LEADERSHIP

I don’t think there is any question about the Corinthians situation: without Paul prodding, they would not have carried out the discipline. I have already explained why we dread discipline. It is something we will shirk and put off as long as possible. It is not a pleasant task.

I had to discipline our oldest grand son a few times and it like to have killed me. The last time we went upstairs and I got the belt gave it to him, I got don’t on my knees and I said, “Someone has to suffer for what you have done but I am tired of whipping you, today, you are going to whip me.” He was angry when we entered the room but his anger subsided and he began to weep. “I can’t do that Granddaddy,” he said. I said, “Sure you can, just start hitting me across the back with the belt.” He broke down and began to sob uncontrollably, “I can’t do it granddaddy, I can’t.” I said, “Son, how do you think it makes Granddaddy fell when I have to whip you? I had much rather be the one getting whipped.” We talked for an hour or so and then went back down stairs and joined the family. The boy is 6’2″ and weighs 230 pounds and he is a Marine. He can break me in half today but he doesn’t. If you let a child go, he or she becomes their own worse enemy.

II. IT REQUIRES A ROCK SOLID MAJORITY

Verse 6, NASB–Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority [Poly]. NLT–Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough.

If the church at Corinth had been is total unity, no discipline would have been necessary. There is never unanimity in church discipline. I am sure the Trouble Maker was opposed to the idea but there were others. This is the major problem in churches today, most members do not have the moral courage to pursue discipline.

Look, most forms of confrontation are difficult and unpleasant. I look forward to retirement for this reason. I enjoy preaching but that is probably the easiest thing I do. I have made quiet a few visits over the years that come under the heading of church discipline. I will not give details because most of them happened here. You never know how these things are going to turn out. I have to admit, in my experience, most of them didn’t turn out well but some did.

We forget that everywhere Paul went, some believed but most rejected and those percentages will run true in church discipline. Some will turn out good like the example in 2 Corinthians. Evidently, the man repented and Paul is encouraging restoration. But you can not restore the unrepentant. Bottom line, I have some [small number] who respect me for confronting them but I have a large number who resent me for confronting them. It is a price you have to pay.

III. WE MUST NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF OUR GOAL WHICH IS RESTORATION

Verses 7-8–Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.

In Church, our goal is not to crush opposition. The best way to destroy an enemy is make him your friend. The TROUBLE MAKER in Corinth had repented but evidently the Corinthians were still giving him the cold shoulder so Paul reminds them that our goal in discipline is to restore. Paul lead the way in the discipline and now he urges them to follow him in the restoration process.

  1. It is time to forgive
  2. It is time to comfort
  3. It is time to reaffirm your love

IV. WE MUST BE CAREFUL OR SATAN WILL OUTWIT US AND TAKE ADVANTAGE

Verses 9-11–I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions. 10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.

There is no question, none, that we must approach church discipline with extreme caution. It is not something that we need to rush into. It is kind of like marriage, we need to approach it with lots of prayer and humility. Discipline is definitely front line warfare and the devil will do his best to get the victory and he will if we are not careful. There are some things we need to think through and understand:

  1. The devil is capable of outsmarting us. He is a schemer, a diabolical planner. He has a strategy and he uses subtlety. 
  2. He is capable of using us to achieve his purposes. Anytime we repeat gossip, or say something in accurate or untrue, we have been used. The tricky thing about church discipline is forgiveness. If we don’t forgive, a root of bitterness springs up and the last result is worse than the first. Satan is the master of distraction.

 

Bibical Tolerance

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:49-56

49 John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”

50 But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”

51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival.

53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?”

55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them.

56 So they went on to another village.

INTRODUCTION

Tolerance is not my favorite word, the liberals have corrupted the meaning of the word. When I was a child it meant to put up with something, to bear it the best you could. Webster says tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. It is the ability to accept, experience, or survive something harmful or unpleasant. I don’t like pain, it is very unpleasant and I don’t agree with it but I tolerate it.

The problem with tolerance is not only in its definition but also in its motivation. We tolerate certain things and people because [1] we love them or [2] because we don’t give a flip. Most tolerance is perpetuated by our indifference. There is a time to be tolerant and a time to be intolerant. Our forefathers became intolerant of a despotic king who was taxing them unfairly and about to seize their fire arms. He had already seized private property. King George took everything John Hancock owed except for a few things which Hancock had hidden.

Sometimes it is bad to be tolerant and at times it is evil to be intolerant.

I. THOSE WHO HAVE COMMON GOALS SHOULD WORK TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE THOSE GOALS.

“Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”

Jesus response–Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.” {Luke 9:50}

In Luke 11:23, Jesus says–“Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against Me.

Matthew 12:30– “Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against Me.”

When it comes to Jesus there is no neutral ground. This is one of many reasons liberals don’t like Jesus. You are either for Him or you are against Him. Most folks would disagree because they have no opinion…”They don’t care one way or the other.” With Jesus, no decision is a decision. John 3:18 clearly states Jesus intolerance..There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. Our default setting is that of unbelief, if we never repent of our unbelief, we will go to hell. Those who refuse to believe will be condemned.

Technically, what do you have to do to go to hell? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Just remain as you are.

II. WE ARE NOT TO COMPROMISE OUR CONVICTIONS FOR THE SAKE OF TOLERANCE.

  • Jesus did not tolerate the abuse of His Father’s HouseJohn 2:13-16 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.  Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
  • Jesus didn’t tolerate the abuse of women-John 8:1-11… Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives…teaching in the temple… as He was speaking…the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
  • Jesus did not tolerate child abuse–Matthew 19:13-15… One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

Liberals are hypocrites: they preach tolerance while they are the most intolerant people on the earth. They don’t tolerate Christianity, they are intolerant of scripture. They make no effort to work with us in stopping abortions, crime, pornography and yet they are constantly reminding us that we are intolerant, which we profess to be. I have never professed to be tolerant, not of everything. No, I do not practice indiscriminant tolerance.

The Sanhedrin threated Peter and John, no more preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus…we will not tolerate it! The Christian response, “We cannot tolerate your intolerance.” The apostolic reply: But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

III. TOLERANCE CAN BE MOTIVATED BY GOOD OR EVIL

Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to nuke the Samaritans. Their intolerance will motivated by evil. The same is true with tolerance. Only and evil people would tolerate the murder of unborn babies.

IV. JESUS HAS DIVIDED THE WORLD INTO TWO GROUPS 

Matthew 10:32-34… “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword [division].”

Jesus is the great divider: He has divided the world into two groups–Saved and lost, believers and unbelievers, repentant and unrepentant. I can’t change what Jesus has done and neither can anyone else. Jesus said clearly….“Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against Me.”

Two distinct groups: Pro-Jesus or Antichrist. I will tell you exactly how a liberal will respond: “No one puts me in a group, I am neither for Jesus or against Him. The world is fifty shades of gray.” This is not what Jesus said and I think I will go with Jesus.

Perhaps you think this view is narrow. Jesus said He was bringing a sword and they are narrow. Only a narrow edge can cut. This is why liberals can’t grow a church, their social gospel has no cutting edge.

Selfish Ambition

SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:46-48

46 Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest.

47 But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side.

48 Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

INTRODUCTION

Who defines greatness? Which dictionary should we go by?

Mr. Webster– [1] Exceptional high quality [2] The quality or state of being large in size, the volume, mass, the hugeness, the enormity of a person or thing. A CELEBRITY achieves enormous fame. A PHILANTHROPIST accumulates enormous wealth. The highly successful professional ATHLETE has an enormous contract.

We all know how the world defines success. The world recognizes those who attain fame and fortune.  If we go by the world’s definition, Michael Jackson and Elvis were highly successful and great to some extent but let me ask you a question: will they be great in the Kingdom of God, in the eternal realm. I am not saying they will or will not but I am saying God uses a different standard to measure success and greatness.

TRANSITION

In today’s passage, the disciple are arguing about who will be greatest in the upcoming kingdom. They were convinced that Jesus was going to have a kingdom here and now and they wanted the top cabinet level positions. Jesus took a child and used this child as a teaching point, an illustration. “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” With this scripture in mind, I want to make a few points…

I.  JESUS DESIRES THAT WE BE CHILD-LIKE NOT CHILDISH.

By using the child as an example, Jesus is not encouraging them to be immature like a child but pure and tender like a child. When Chloe {age 3} does not get her way, she cries and pouts. No one is shocked when a three year old acts this way. When an adult sulks and pouts, that constitutes a problem.

I am shocked at the disciples behavior: while Jesus had the cross on His mind, they had a crown on theirs. Jesus had just finished His second discourse on His passion but they were concerned about a position. They were no on the same page and this rendered them insensitive. How could they be arguing about rank at a time like this?

It would be like calling your children to your bed side and saying, “Kids, I have a terminal illness and only a few months to live.” They look at you like a calf at a new gate and then begin arguing among themselves about who is going to get what. Can children fight over and estate while their parents are living? Yes they can and do. It is so insensitive, so cruelly selfish.

II. JESUS DEFINES THE RULES OF THE KINGDOM

If you ambition is to be great, you will not be great in Christ’s Kingdom.

Four times in the N.T. we are warned about vain or selfish ambition….

  • Galatians 5:19-21….When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
  • Philippians 1:17….Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me.
  • James 3:14….But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.
  • James 3:16….For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

To aspire to be great is selfish ambition and as Paul said, “It’s a desire of our sinful nature.” Our ambition is not to be great but to serve.

III. JESUS DISCERNS YOUR THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS

What’s lame about this story is that Jesus knew what they were thinking. This is nothing new–they knew that He could read minds so why did that act so childish?

I’m going to answer my own question: they were childish and selfish because they were responding naturally. Our default setting is turned toward self. It is our nature to think about our selves first. We all do it. The only difference is that the Ruach ha-Kodesh [Spirit of holiness] has shown us our depravity and we deny self. You are the one who chooses to either deny self or give into the selfish nature residing in you.

The bottom line is that Jesus knows me better than I know myself. His knows my thoughts, my intentions and motives. There is no way to deceive Him because He sees everything.

CONCLUSION

You are not a robot; you are free to obey or disobey. You can deny self or you can allow self to run your life. Matter of fact, if you like, you can be totally selfish. You can think about your self, please your self, protect your self or defend your self. You do not have to deny your self BUT if you do not, you will reap a very bad harvest, one of deep, deep sorrow. Paul said to the Galatians ….Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death. Is this what you want to reap? To insure this harvest of sorrow and death, all you have to do is keep living to please yourself.