The Narrow Gate

Scripture Text: Luke 13:22-30, NLT

22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem.

23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied,

24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.

25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.

29 And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God.

30 And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. ”

INTRODUCTION

At first reading of today’s text, those of us who have a Western mind set are most likely disturbed, not comforted by the words of Jesus but we are looking through the wrong lens. What we must do to interpret this passage accurately is think like a Jew. Jesus is talking to Jews and it was a Jew that asked the question: “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

The Jewish Mindset

The Jews believed they were the chosen people, God’s elect or favorites. They were convinced that there were only two kinds of people in the world, Jew and Gentile. The Jews were righteous and the Gentiles were sinners. Most Jews did not see themselves as sinners.

This Leads To A Question

Do you personally, view yourself as a sinner? {Think about this question}

I was saved at the age of 9 so I have had a relationship with the LORD for 58 years. I read my bible daily and I pray on a regular basis. My favorite time of day is my QT, time alone with Jesus. Yet, I feel like a sinner. I know scripture teaches that I am a saint but I feel like a sinner because I sin.

Not all Jews, the disciples were exceptions, but most Jews did not see themselves as sinners. They saw themselves as ‘righteous’. A lot of Jesus teaching contain satire, Jesus is making fun of the Jewish pride, they thought they were righteous and in no need of repentance. When Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance…” {Luke 5:32} He said it tongue in cheek. The Jews were not righteous, they only thought they were righteous.

One last note before we get into the Message…

I am sure the Reforms love this passage but it does not teach predestination. It’s wishful thinking on their part. Matter of fact, the Reforms have the same mindset as the Jews, “They know that they know that they know they are the elect and everyone else is going to hell.” Free will and faith are not factors. Dr. Wiersbe says in his commentary on Luke, when people wrote him with their theological questions and ideas: he wrote back and ask them about their “witnessing,” and “prayer life”? He said, “They never responded.” They didn’t respond because they don’t believe is sharing the gospel. Actually, they don’t have one to share. If you can’t look a person is the eye and tell them that God loves them and Jesus died for them, you don’t have any good news. The new REFORM bumper sticker reads…SOME LIVES MATTER. They take this story as well as others out of context…Jesus was speaking to Jews who were rejecting Him as their savior, not Gentiles begging to be saved.

I. THE FIRST THING I CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO IS THE AGONY OF SALVATION

“Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.” [Verse 24]

  • The NASB reads, Strive to enter in at the strait gate.
  • The NIV reads, Make every effort.
  • The Greek word is agōnizomai from which we get our word agony.

When a person is born physically, there is some agony, struggle and intense pain. A spiritual birth has an equal intensity. There is a struggle. It is not easy for a man to admit that he is a sinner and in need of a savior. It is not easy for anyone to let go of their life and give it to Christ. Jesus encounter with the RICK YOUNG RULER was intense. The young man was struggling and unfortunately, he made the wrong choice.


Once again, I want to remind you of the Jewish mindset… They believed Jews were included and all Gentiles were excluded: all Jews were righteous and all Gentiles were sinners. They were smugly and arrogantly sure of their salvation and refused to consider the remote possibility that they could have misinterpreted scripture and might not be going to heaven.

Do you realize the pride of religious Jew? Do you realize how hard it was for them to admit they were sinners? They were standing in the presence of the MESSIAH but they saw absolutely no need is a vicarious death on the cross…for what reason…they were not depraved sinners…and they needed no savior.

There is no question that the Jewish people are elite. Hitler said they were vermin but he was wrong, not about everything, but he was badly mistaken about their worth. They are highly intelligent people. They make up less than 1% of the world’s population and have captured 22% of the Nobel Prizes {this is global}. Here in the U.S., Jews have accounted for 36% of the Nobel recipients. You cannot tell me this is not impressive. They are highly intelligent people but like the Germans, they are proud, arrogant and haughty. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said of the Germans, “Our strength {intelligence} is our weakness. We are intelligent but we are also arrogant.” Do you know any full blooded Germans? They are not stupid, are they? You do have a hard time getting along with them don’t you: that is due to their arrogance. There is a lot of similarity between Jews and Germans: both are highly intelligent but very arrogant. For a Jew to admit he needed help was an intense struggle.

So, get the context right: Jesus is talking to arrogant Jews who are sure of their salvation based on their physical birth. Since they were sons of Abraham, they had to be sons of God. This is the way they thought. To get a Jew to acknowledge his/her need for Christ was an agonizing struggle. The passage does not teach a works salvation, its teaching us that we have t agonize to get birthed into Christ kingdom. Births are not pain free. There is an agony in both physical and spiritual birth.

II. THE SECOND THING YOU NEED TO NOTICE IS THE TIMING

Look at verse 25…When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

The Jews in Jesus presence are ignoring the fact that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus is giving them a stern warning. The day of salvation is today. Any Jew in the crowd could have been saved this very day but Jesus is warning them not to wait until it is too late.

Every knee is going to bow and every tongue confess but even when this happens and they recognize that they are on the outside but it is going to be too late. God’s door of mercy is open wide at the moment but that can change in an instant. Anyone here today who is contemplating giving your life to Christ, you need to do it today. The longer you wait, the harder it will be and you may wait until it is too late.

God is merciful but He has deadlines. There will come a time and place where there is no going back, no opportunity to repent and be saved.

III. THE THIRD POINT IS THIS: A RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST MUST BE ESTABLISHED

25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

It is essential that we know Jesus, not know about Him but know Him in a personal, intimate way. These Jews knew about HIM, they said, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But they did not know Him in a personal or intimate way.

Advertisements

A Tragic Trilogy

SCRIPTURE: Luke 6:46-49, NLT

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

INTRODUCTION

If you look up the word tragedy in the dictionary you will find two definitions: [1] An event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe. [2] A play dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending, especially one concerning the downfall of the main character. Shakespeare wrote ten plays that are labeled Tragedies. Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Othello to mention a few. We were forced to read Hamlet and Othello when I was in high school. Who wants to read a tragedy?

Since I had to read and watch Othello on film, I will use it as the example. In a tragedy, the protagonist [hero] always has a flaw and the flaw leads to his/her downfall. For Othello, he was insanely jealous. Iago, a man who pretended to be his friend planted and seed of doubt in Othello’s jealous mind that his wife Desdemona was being unfaithful. In fact, she was not unfaithful but Othello’s jealousy lead to paranoia and he killed his wife in a jealous rage. Then of course he kills himself because a part from her, he had no reason to live.

We all die so the tragedy is not in his death. The tragedy is that he and she died needlessly. They died because he believed a lie. South Carolina just experience a horrible flood. Over one billion dollars in damages and 14 deaths. Here is the tragedy: some of the 14 drove around barricades and warning signs. These people would be alive today had they simply heeded the warning.

In Luke 6 we have a trilogy of tragedies.

I. THE FIRST TRAGEDY IS NOT TO HEAR THE WARNINGS OF CHRIST

I am going to allude to the Sermon on the mount where Jesus says in Matthew 7:21–Those of you who are listening and do not hear—you are like a fool who builds a house on sand.  How can with listen and not hear? It’s easy, we do it all the time. Let me give you a test: two weeks ago, my introduction was about ‘hearing’, do you remember what I said? You were listening, but you were not hearing.

This is the statement I made: If the only voice you hear today is my voice, you are not listening [hearing]. What do all active listeners do? They take notes. Taking notes is a discipline. Bobby James was a good note taker: He had a record of my Genesis 1:1 sermon in his bible. I didn’t have a clue as to when I began the journey of preaching through the entire bible which took me some 27 years.

Folks, we have the recorded words of Jesus in the four gospels–it would be a tragedy for you not to hear what Jesus is saying.

II. THE SECOND TRAGEDY IS TO HEAR AND NOT OBEY

Jesus said, “why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?” Oh the tragedy of a disobedient life. Jesus is not impressed with our profession of faith or our lip service. He wants more than to be acknowledged at LORD, He wants us to obey His teaching.

You are probably thinking: “His teaching are so hard.” I can’t love my enemies; I can give without expecting something in return. I tell you what, lets just start with the GOLDEN RULE found in verse 31–“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Lets me honest, have you tried to practice the golden rule?

To help us understand the tragedy of hearing Jesus but not obeying, let me tell you the story of the Rich Young Ruler. One day when Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, a rich young man in a place of authority came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why are you calling Me Good, only God is truly good but to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.” What commandments did Jesus not mention: notably One and Ten. The young man said,  “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the young man in  genuine love, Jesus said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Here is the tragedy: the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

It is tragic to hear Jesus and not to obey.

III. THE THIRD TRAGEDY IS TO BUILD YOUR LIFE ON THE WRONG FOUNDATION

Jesus said, I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.

Jesus is not talking about building a house: He is talking about building a life and the wise person builds their life on Christ. But Jesus tells us about a second person who build on the sand [surface]. He built his life on the wrong foundation and when the storms came, his house collapsed and he lost everything.

Herein lies the tragedy: to build one’s life on the wrong foundation and lose everything.

Again, let me give you an example from the bible, from Luke. This story is found in chapter 12. We call this story, the story of the rich fool. He was a fool because he left God out of his life. He raked and scraped to amass a fortune. He had so much that he didn’t have room to store it; in other words, he had more than he needed. He never thought about giving anything to anyone. This guy is so in love with himself that he doesn’t think of wife, children, anyone other than himself. He was totally selfish. His goal in life was to amass so much that he would no longer have to put on his work clothes.

This story is a tragedy: here is how it ends. God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? The poor fool built his life on the wrong foundation and in the end, he lost everything, including his soul.

CONCLUSION

The greatest tragedy of all tragedies is to die without Jesus and spend eternity in hell. Let me explain: Jesus has paid your sin debt in full; He has done everything necessary to secure you a home in heaven. All you have to do is hear HIM and obey HIM. You must repent of your sins and surrender control of your life to Jesus. There is no need for you to die without Christ. What a tragedy to reject the One who can save you.

Call Him Jesus

 

 

 

 Text: Matthew 1:18-23

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

INTRODUCTION

We have been in Matthew’s gospel for a couple of years and I am not going to leave his gospel, I am going back to chapter one in this Christmas season. I don’t normally do this but we are moving toward Easter in our regular series and so I want to go back to chapter one for the month of December. Actually, [Lord willing] I am preaching twice today and then again on the 21. All three messages will come from Matthew 1-2 and two from this text. Today we are going to talk about JESUS OUR SAVIOR. Tonight, LORD willing, JESUS OUR IMMANUEL.

Before we get into the heart of the message: lets talk about Jewish customs as related to marriage. The Jewish people had a three step process in the consummation of a marriage between a man and a woman. First, there was the matchmaker who could be an individual or the parents of the children. You can see a good example of a match maker at work in the Fiddler on The Roof, which happens to be my favorite musical. This could take place when the children were babies but usually they were older. The second phase was betrothal. It was a formal engagement but quite different from what we think of as engagement. When a Jewish couple were betrothed, they were to assume the responsibilities of marriage but not the privileges. They did not live together but they could not have relations with anyone else during this time or it was adultery, just as if they were married. The only way to get out of the betrothal was a legal divorce. It was during this second stage that Mary became pregnant so you can imagine the anxiety this created. The third and final step was the wedding which lasted seven days. Marriage was a big deal to the ancient Jewish people and it should be big to us.

Joseph is very disturbed when he discovers that Mary is pregnant. He knows for a fact that he is not the daddy of the child. He loves Mary and does not want her to be stoned or embarrassed, so he is thinking about the problem and how he can do what is right and at the same time not hurt Mary. While Joseph is considering his problem and trying to decide what to do, the LORD appears to him in a dream and says…“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus is the Greek name for Joshua of Old Testament Hebrew. My English name is Jack and it has multiple meanings. A Jack can be a flag on a ship, a mechanical tool or a barn yarn animal just to mention a few. I think my name has over 30 meanings. My Hebrew name is Ya’akov. Jack is the English translation of Ya’akov which in English is pronounced Jacob [heel]. Jesus OT name was Joshua which means “Yahweh Saves”. Joseph was instructed clearly, “Name the child Jesus because He will save people from their sins.”

So that is our subject today…Jesus our Savior

I. THE NEED FOR A SAVIOR

Notice the text, Jesus came to save us from our sins. I have an old Ford Tractor that is 40 plus years old and practically worn out. It is a diesel which complicated things more than ever. When it breaks down, I call Joe. Joe has the right tools and the expertise to work on a tractor. I have all kinds of saws: chain, circular, skill, table, radial arm, zig, hack: if it is a saw, I have it. I may not be able to find it, but I have it some where. BUT, you do not fix a mechanical problem with a carpenter’s tool kit. To fix a mechanical problem, you need mechanical tools and mechanical know how.

How do you fix a spiritual problem? How do you settle the sin debt? We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is no one righteous. Solomon said in Eccl. 7:20, Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. If we all sin, how are we going to fix the problem. We cannot fix a spiritual problem with natural tools. Education is good but it will not fix the sin problem. Technology is nice but it will not fix the sin problem. We have come a long way in medical science but it will not fix the sin problem. You may have billions of dollars but it will not fix the sin problem. Your can cure leprosy with more leprosy or cancer with more cancer and we can fix sin with more sin.

In Ruth 4:14 most translations will use the word ‘redeemer’ or ‘kinsmen redeemer’ but the Hebrew word is ‘ga’al’. The ga’al could redeem a farm from foreclosure, he could redeem his kinsmen from slavery and debt but to do so, he had to have two abilities: [1] He had to be able [financial resources to do so] and [2] he had to be willing. In Ruth’s story their were two ga’al’s and both had the ability financially to pay the debt but only Boaz was willing. This story is not about Boaz and Ruth: it is about Jesus and a lost world. Jesus is our ga’al, our kinsmen redeemer. He was incarnated to be our relation.

Long story short: God sent His Son to do something for us that we could never do for ourselves: “To save us from our sins”. Jesus is our ga’al: He was able and willing to save us.

II. HOW DID JESUS SAVE US?

Lets go to Romans 3 in the NLT because I do not know another translation that is so clear on this subject: 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. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Years ago I read a story about Night Court that was a custom in New York city in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. A man was arrested and brought before the judge for stealing a loaf of bread. When he was called to approach the bench, he refused to ma eye contact with the judge. He was staring at the floor. The judge order him to look up but even when he lifted his head, his eyes were looking down. The Judge said, “You must look at me.” Reluctantly, the poor man made eye contact. “What are you here for?” said the judge. “I stole a loaf of bread your honor,” replied the man and “I know that it was wrong. I am guilty.” “If you know that it is wrong to steal, why did you take the bread? Said the judge. “I have five hungry children sir and I have not been able to find work anywhere. I have searched your honor but no one will hire me. I could not stand the thought of facing my hungry children another night so I tried to steal the bread but as you know, I got caught. I am very guilty and very ashamed.” The Judge pounded his gavel almost in disgust and said, “I find you guilty as charged and I fine you 1$.” “But I don’t have a dollar your honor.” “I know that,” said the judge as he reached for his wallet, I giving you the dollar, now pay the bailiff”. Then  the judge pounded his gavel a second time and said, “I find everyone in this courtroom for indifference and neglect. How could you let a man and his family starve when you have more than enough. I fine everyone in the courtroom 1$, pay the bailiff.” Then he instructed the bailiff,  “Give the money to this gentleman so he can buy food for his family.”

How did Jesus save us: “He paid our fine with His own precious blood.” We were guilty as charged but He took our guilt and sin and gave us His righteousness. F.B. Meyer called it the GREAT EXCHANGE. Jesus gets my sin and shame and I get His righteousness. If that is not gospel, good news, I don’t know what is!

III. WHAT DID JESUS US SAVE US FROM?

More immediately, He saved us from sin and self. Sin is like leprosy. It begins internally and eats its way through the body until it destroys both soul and body. Sin is destructive. Sin is deadly. I tell folks who flirt with drugs, you might as well stick your hand into a den of rattlesnakes as to fool with drugs. Drugs are lethal, they will destroy your mind, body, soul, family, finances, career, marriage, etc. In the end, they are going to leave you dead. Jesus came to save us from destroying ourselves. Today, Jesus stands ready to save you from sin and self if you will repent of sin, turn from sin and turn to Him. Dr. Graham says you must do three things: [1] Repent and turn from your sin [2] Trust Jesus to forgive and cleanse you from sin [3] Commit your life to Him, to follow and obey Him. I agree: this is a sound biblical path: Repent, Trust and Commit.

Ultimately Jesus came to save us from hell and He is the only one who can.

  • Paul said [I Tim. 2:5] —For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
  • Jesus said [John 14:6]–I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
  • Listen folks, only ONE Person can save you from hell and that One person is Jesus.

I had surgery a few weeks back and as a part of my rehab, I walked through the neighborhood during the days I was off from work. It was very cold and I was wearing a hooded coat and had my head bent toward the ground to avoid having the wind hit me in the face. I was walking by a home but hadn’t really paid any attention to where I was when all of a sudden I heard a ferocious dog who sound like he is inches away from my jugular.  Right as I turn, he takes flight but before he got to my neck, he hit an 8′ chain link fence and it knocks him sprawling to the ground. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to react: once I saw the fence, I was OK. Had the fence not been there, I might not be here. The fence kept me from getting bit or maybe worse.

  • I could say that my courage saved me from the dog but actually, I took my courage from the fence. There was a moment of fright until I saw the fence.
  • I could say that my skill saved me from this mad dog but that would also be incorrect. I am old and slow, the dog is young and ferocious. I would be no match for the dog.
  • I could say it was the weapon in my hand but I didn’t even have a stick: I have carried one since but that day I had nothing. I had no doubt that the fence saved me from the dog.

A few steps down the path, and the still small voice said to me, “Jesus is your fence, He is the only things standing between you and hell.” Wow! Jesus is my shield: He protects me from sins destructive power and from the devil’s hate. Triple Wow!

If you are a Starwars fan, you will remember the Gungans who lived under water on the planet of Naboo The capital city of Otoh Gunga was anchored to a massive underwater cliff deep within a lake and was a mass of hydrostatic bubbles which keep  water out while allowing the Gungans to enter through them. There were satellite clusters outside of the city, including buildings which had been cast out from other Gungan settlements. While the Gungans could survive both on land and underwater, they chose to build their capital city under Lake Paonga to avoid contact with the Nabooian Humans. What I want you to do if possible is remember the invisible [almost] reflector shield used by the empire in their effort to wipe out the Gungans.

I have a slide to help you remember: I have two slides but the one at  the top is the one I want to use as an analogy. I want you to think about what Paul said in Ephesians 6:10-12… A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Paul is giving us a list of things that are out to destroy us: mind, soul and body. What protects us from destruction? In a word, JESUS. He is our invisible reflector shield. You can see the shield but it is there and if He were to remove the shield, all would be lost. Jesus and only Jesus stands between us and the destruction that our enemy intends for us. What can I say, “O Hallelujah, O what a Savior.”

Reflector shield

gungans with reflector shields

 

The Parable of The Great Feast

Scripture Text: Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’  But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see. 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

To understand this story, you need an Eastern mind set which we Westerners don’t have. It is hard if not impossible for us to imagine a monarchy, a system of government where one person has all the power. Some parts of western Europe still have kings but they are figure heads who have no real power. In the old eastern monarchy, one man, the king had all the power. There was no parliament or congress and no supreme court. In ancient Israel, the king was sovereign. He held the power of life and death. No trials, no lawyers, no judges, no courts, no juries, no appeals: the subjects had no rights and the king had every right.

In this setting, what should rule number one be? DON’T OFFEND THE KING because He is Sovereign and we live in His kingdom. So remember…

I. THE KING IS SOVEREIGN: DON’T OFFEND THE KING

 Think of the king as David. He had a hair trigger. If you caught him in the wrong mood, he would have you executed for bringing him bad news or in some cases, good news. So your first rule of survival is “don’t tick the king off.” You have a few servants but he has an army. What are a few grubbing hoes and pitch forks against a fully equipped cavalry with horses and chariots. So rule number one is RESPECT THE KING.

This is the motif of this story, the religious Jewish leaders had no respect for God. Whereas they professed to have great respect for God they showed little regard for His word, His messengers and now His Son. They are on the verge of offending the king and Jesus is giving them a stern but subtle warning to change their attitude about the King. You do not want to offend the king.

They had ignored his messengers and rejected his invitation. This was not an intelligent move since He had all the power and everything legally belonged to him: it was his kingdom and they were merely subjects living in his kingdom. Tenants should know better than to disrespect their land Lord.

The truth is this: The earth and the cosmos is the LORD’s. When Al [bless his heart] Gore talks about “Our planet having a fever,” he is wrong on two counts….[1] It is not our planet [2] It does not have a fever. Right now, it is in a cooling cycle. The fact is, we live in God’s world and He is sovereign over all His creation. He can send out invitations if He chooses to, it is His world and we are subject to Him whether we like it or not. We are also free to decline the invitation but we are not free of the consequences of offending Him by dishonoring His Son.  No one was at the feast that did not choose to accept the invitation. They were all invited and they all accepted the invitation.

II. THE INVITATIONS ARE OUTDON’T GET DISTRACTED.

Life is about choices, priorities and making wise decisions which the people in this story did not do. The King sent out invitations but the people refused to come. Actually [v.5] they ignored the invitation and went their own way. This leads to a question: why would anyone ignore an invitation from a king? You know that declining or ignoring the invitation is going to offend the king so why do it? I am going to suggest three reasons, there could be more.

1. Secularism: Worldly cares, encumbrances, secular business, or the concerns of this life, in providing earthly things.

2. Materialism: The riches, or love of wealth, busy amassing more wealth. [Building a little mini-kingdom]

3. Hedonism: Sensual satisfaction, or the inordinate love of pleasures, sports, entertainment, pursuit of power and pleasure: these are the things that destroy the soul: for this sort says, “they cannot come.”

Did these people realize how terribly they had offended the king? I don’t think so. They were busy in their own little kingdom and had failed to give the greater kingdom any thought. They were careless. Most of them did not hate the king, they simply didn’t give him any thought.

III. WE ARE SUBJECTS AND THIS MEANS ACCOUNTABILITY

God is sovereign: He is king and we live in His kingdom [like it or not]; the earth is the LORD’s. We are living on His land. We are breathing His air. We need to keep this in mind. We are not little mini-kings building our own kingdom.  The only possibility of us having a kingdome would be for God to give us one, other wise, we don’t have one and we cannot build one. God invites us to be a part of his KINGDOM and He has sent out invitations…it is called the gospel. Listen to some of the whosoever’s in the bible…See if you can hear God calling you?

  • Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.
  • Whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.
  • Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled.
  • Whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
  • Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
  • Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
  • Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
  • Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
  • Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
  • Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life
  • Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
  • Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst.
  • WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.
  • WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
  • Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.
  • Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
  • Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and he in God.

Also think about the word “Come.” Sounds like an invitation to me.

  •  Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
  • “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them!
  •  “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
  • Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.
  •  “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
  •  “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!
  •  “Lazarus, come out!”
  • The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say,Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

Your on the guest list: you have been invited so please give the invitation some thought. You are free to choose but you are not free of the consequences of making wrong choice. I’m going to be honest; I believe God does have a furious side like the king in this story. He is a God or wrath and His wrath is like an unquenchable fire. BUT He is also a God of love and mercy. Which is greater, darkness or light? Which is greater, sin or grace?

I am not going to compare myself to the king or a king and obviously I have not prepared a feast of this magnitude but I have prepared for guest, sent out the invitations and had no one show up. Actually, we had 8 and was prepared for 80. It hurt but I didn’t get angry. I had no moral right to get angry but with God it is different. I’m not a king and I don’t have my own army so there was never any threat of me sending my men to your place and burning it to the ground. This is just a story but it illustrates a truth: it would not be wise on your part to disrespect God or to dishonor His Son.

Jesus was addressing the Pharisee’s who were guilty of disrespecting the Father and dishonoring the SON. I have no doubt that Jesus loved Pharisees but they refused to repent and Jesus cannot not help any man who refuses to repent. 

I think it all boils down to verse 5, But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, anotheCr to his business. I think Isaiah 53:6 nails it…All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase reads like this…We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, {Jesus}. Jesus has made sufficient payment for our sin but we cannot get His Father’s forgiveness for His death unless we repent. Jesus said twice in Luke 13…Unless you repent, you will perish.”

 CONCLUSION
Many years ago I heard a story about a huge city church that had many prominent members. We are talking about civil leaders, celebrities, successful businessmen, etc. It was a First Baptist type church: the church that the affluent want to be identified with. A woman of great wealth moved into town and after talking to several about the various churches, she decided that this was the church for her. What she did not discover in her investigation was that the pastor was a God fearing man who preached the bible and believed what he preached. When the invitation was given, the wealthy woman walked proudly to the altar to take the pastor’s hand. She told him who she was and why she had come. Sensing the air of pride in her voice and demeanor, he ask her if she had ever repented of her sins. When he mentioned sins in connection to her personally, she was aghast, startled and unnerved. “What do you mean?” Said the lady, “repent of what sins? I have no sins to repent of, I came to join this church so I could be a member and give it my financial support. I did not come to be embarrassed or labeled a sinner.” The pastor humble but resolutely said, “I am truly sorry madam but I cannot receive you into the fellowship of this church until you repent.” She turned in whirl and marched to her seat, mad as an old sitting hen. When she got to her seat, she fumed and replayed his words in her mind over and over. He will not get the best of me she muttered to herself and out in the aisle she went for a second trip to the altar but the pastor was resolute. He insisted that she repent and he called attention to her pride, stubbornness and self-will. She wheels around and considered marching right out of the building and never coming back but mysteriously, she returned to her seat. She felt humiliated and embarrassed. She was confident that everyone was watching. Suddenly a conviction came over her that she was in error and that in fact she had never repented of her part in the death of Christ. At that moment, her heart was broken and she began to weep. For the third time she stepped out into the aisle and went to the altar but this time it was different. She took the pastor’s hand and said, “Pastor, you are right, I have not repented but I do now, I know that I am guilty of the death of Christ and I am truly sorry. The Pastor smiled and said, “Now you are ready to become a member of the body of Christ.”
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and he repented. Joseph of Arimathea was a Pharisee and he repented. All Pharisees are not destined to hell, just those who refuse to repent.

 

Don’t Go Back Into The Village

SCRIPTURE

22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” 24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”
 

INTRODUCTION

I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said, “A preacher who insist that everything he preaches is original is not worth hearing.” This is not my sermon outline. I got it from an evangelist out of Birmingham, Alabama. He saved it in a Revival service [November 4, 2013]. I was moved and fascinated by the message. I carried it home with me and I slept on it. I woke up about 4:00 am with it on my mind and I decided to write down the parts that I remember and to share a few additional insights that came to me as he was preaching. The message comes from the story in Mark 8 of Jesus healing the blind man. The message is built around three words: the first is…

COMPASSION

We begin with verse 22…When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. This is not the thrust of the message but I do mention it in passing. I say this because I call into question the motives of the people who brought the blind man to Jesus. I think they were sign-seekers or miracle-mongers. These folks may have witnessed Jesus feeding the 5,000 just a few weeks prior because the miracle of the loaves happened very near Bethsaida. These people were wanting to see Jesus do a miracle. In spite of the fact that I question their motives, I see some things in them that are good for the church, such as…

  1. Compassion–they did indeed help the blind man. Whether their motives were pure or not, they did bring him to the right person. Most of us have the ability to feel pity on others who are less fortunate. If we knew of a hungry person in our vicinity, we would not rest until we shared some of our food with them. Americans as a whole are compassionate people. We especially respond to tragedy. Most of us can remember September 11, 2001. American donated of their free will 1.4 billion dollars to the victims of 9/11. We have compassion but is that enough? We will come back to this later.
  2. Evangelism–They brought the man to Jesus. Wow! They do the work of an evangelist by bringing the blind man to Jesus. I do wish that our people, the members of our churches would become passionate about bringing people to Jesus, amen! I see absolutely nothing wrong with bringing a person to Jesus.
  3. Intercession–they begged Jesus to heal the blind man. There is no greater work than the work of intercession. They went to Jesus in behalf of the man’s need.

COMPLETENESS

Now this is where it really gets interesting. As far as I know, this is the only two-step miracle that Jesus performed. First Jesus takes the blind man and leads him out of the village. Then He spits in the man’s eyes. Wow, what a way to do a miracle! Jesus spit in the man’s face. Then Jesus ask, “Can you see anything now?” The man looked around and then said, “I see people but I cannot see them clearly. They look like trees walking around.” Evidently this man had been able to see at sometime in his life because he knew immediately what trees and people looked like. He probably had some degenerative eye disease which had over a period of time rendered him blind. THEN, and it is a huge then, Jesus placed His hands on the man eyes again and his eyes were opened and he could see everything clearly.” This is what Dr. Adrian Rogers called a MIRACLE WITH A MESSAGE. Here is the message: some people just want Jesus to do a little bit, they really don’t want the complete package. A lot of folks just want to know that when they die, they will go to heaven. They do realize that only Jesus can get them to heaven but the truth is–they do not want the ABUNDANT life, they just want eternal life. They want to make sure they are checked in for their final destination but they don’t want anything to do with discipleship. They want some Jesus but not the full package. This man could have left that day with a fuzzy vision. He could have been excited about the fact that he could see a little. Perhaps that was his goal but Jesus wanted him to see clearly. Here is the question: Do you want what you want or do you want what Jesus wants you to have. We have a lot of folks that can see a little but they don’t see clearly. They came to Jesus for a miracle and got one but they left too soon. They didn’t hang out with Jesus until they were complete. Jesus wants you to have eternal life but He also wants you to have the Abundant Life.

CONFRONTATION

Jesus rarely does the same thing twice so I am not surprised that this miracle is wrapped in uniqueness but I don’t think Jesus goal was to make this miracle unique. The people who brought the man to Jesus were probably miracle-mongers and so Jesus refuses to heal the man in their presence. He takes the man and leads him out of the village. I don’t know where they went but I think it was away from this original crowd. We do know that it was not an isolated place because the first thing the man saw was people but Jesus did lead him out of the village and there must be a reason. Jesus was not a performer. When He stood before Herod, He refused to say a word. Herod tried to get Him to do a miracle and Jesus would not budge. Jesus was not a magician, He was not a performer. He did not come to entertain people, He came to seek and save the lost. Obviously, this group had seen Him do miracles and they knew that He could do them; yet they had missed the point. They missed the message in the miracle and now they just want to see another miracle for their entertainment and Jesus refuses by taking the man aside.

Folks, the MIRACLE-MONGERS are everywhere. They get all excited about the sensation and supernatural. I have known people who drove hundreds of miles to see the face of the virgin Mary in a rock or a piece of wood but they would drive across town to share Jesus with a lost person. Some churches build their programs around the sensational: they have one promotion after another. Dr. Vance Havner use to tell about a church that he said had “Gone Hollywood” and by that he meant, they were into entertaining. People like to be entertained. The lure of the sensational is one of the three great temptations. Dr. Havner told about the church that had the talking horse. They put the horse on the stage and ask him how many disciples there were and he stomped 12 times. How many commandments and he stomped 10 times. The a smart alic in the back hollowed, “How many hypocrites are in this church?” and Dr. Havner said the old horse went into a dance. Jesus did come to entertain. There is nothing entertaining about the CROSS.

Beware of the Village. Listen to what Jesus says about Bethsaida in Matthews gospel…[Matthew 11] Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. 21 “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. 22 I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.” It is true that Jesus greatest following came from Galilee but it is also true that the great majority of the Jews rejected Jesus. Jesus made Capernaum His headquarters and Bethsadia was a short distance from His headquarters so obviously, He spent more time in Korazin and Bethsaida because both were in the same vicinity but as a whole, the people in these villages rejected Jesus. Note what Jesus says to the healed man, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.” Wow, what a word of exhortation. Why would Jesus tell him not to return to the village? Was it because the village was a culture of unbelief? Would they have not questioned the man’s healing? We all need affirmation but no one needs it more than a new believer. New converts should be surrounded by other believers. There is probably more, much more than our need for affirmation. When Jesus saves us, He gives us direction and instruction. Jesus may have been saying, “Don’t go back to your old way of life.” A third thing that Jesus may have been communicating in telling the man not to return to the village that day was that he didn’t need the village. Someone has said “When Jesus is all you have, you will discover that He is all you need.” We don’t need Jesus plus the affirmation of the village. We are never going to get the support of the village.

One of the things we learn as we grow older is that the world cannot satisfy our needs. Some people believe that a spouse can met all their needs but this isn’t true either. The only person who can complete your life is Jesus. I don’t think Jesus was prohibiting the man from going into the village forever but he didn’t need to that route on his way home. He needed some time to get to know Christ and grow in his faith. Eventually, he will be able to confront the unbelief of the village just as Jesus did. I have always cautioned young people about the numbers. One person, no matter how strong, cannot influence a crowd unless they are unusually strong in their faith and leadership ability. When young people start hanging out with the village, they tend to do what the village is doing. I think Jesus gave us some great advice when He said, “Don’t go back to the village”. Judas went back to the village and you see how they treated him. We need forgiveness. We need character. We need a purpose for living and a reason for dying and only Jesus can give us these things, not the village. Don’t go to the village.

The Great Calm

[Note: Sermon is unedited, spelling and grammar have not been corrected]

Matthew 8:23-27 [NLT]

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”
 

INTRODUCTION

First of all, storms happen; they are a common fact of life and they happen to everyone. As Jesus pointed out in the conclusion of the Sermon on The Mount, storms come to the foolish and the wise. They come even when Jesus is in the boat with us. They may approach slowly or they may come out of nowhere and hit us unexpectedly. The storm described above came up suddenly. Storms are also frightening, they can scare the ever living daylights out of us. Most of us have a “Frighting Storm Testimony.” You are probably aware of everything that I just said but did you know that storms have a purpose. It is true, storms are necessary.

Let me give you two quick examples: first of all, lets think about a thunderstorm with the rain, wind and lightening. They can be frightening when they get close but lightening which can be deadly to humans is breaking down the composition of the nitrogen in the atmosphere and making it unusable for plants here on earth. The pure nitrogen which makes up 78% of the atmosphere is too strong for plants; it has to be broken down and this process occurs during electrical or thunder storms. The plants cannot survive without nitrogen and we can’t survive without the plants. Thank God for thunderstorms, right!

Thirty years ago scientist were trying to figure out how to stop hurricanes and in their research they came to the conclusion that hurricanes do not need to be stopped. If they were to stop the hurricanes, North America would become a desert. The hurricanes are the air movers that regulate the earth temperatures. They work like circuit breakers. When things get to hot around the equator, the hurricane moves the hot air toward the polar ice caps. Without hurricanes plants, animal and people around the Equator would burn up from the intense heat. Here in the states, we would suffer draught. Hurricanes are the number one draught breakers.

So lets review quickly…

  1. Storms Happen
  2. Storms Happen to Everyone [Even when Jesus is in your boat]
  3. Storms Happen Suddenly and can be frightening
  4. Storms Happen For a Reason and one of those reasons is teach us.

What is the message of the storm?

  1. STORMS ARE A TEST. What is your make up? What kind of character do you have? Are you courageous or fearful? Are you strong or weak? Storms put us to the test and they bring out the best and the worse. The disciples panicked; they were scared to death. This storm revealed their lack of faith. In the Greek “faith” and “little” are one word. It was a nickname that Jesus had given the disciples and He uses it a lot. Literally he says to them, “Why are you worried, you bunch of little-faiths?” The storm revealed their lack of faith. Four guys were playing golf, one repeatedly made bad shot after bad shot until he threw his club as far as he could send it and then added a few choice words. One of his buddies said, “Man, what is the problem?” “I’ll tell you what the problem is,” he said, “this game is giving me a terrible temper.” His friend smiled and said, “The game is not giving you the temper, it is revealing the temper you already have.” Traffic does not give us impatience, it reveals the impatience that is in us. The storm is like the traffic, it brings out whatever is in us. Sometimes that is tremendous faith and sometimes it is the lack of faith. You may be in a storm right now; how are you responding? What is the storm revealing to you about you? Don’t waste a good storm.
  2. STORMS ARE ALSO A TEACHER. Take the storm in the text today, what all did the disciples take home from this storm? There are so many that I know I will leave something out but here goes…
    1. This storm taught the disciples that JESUS HAD SOMETHING THEY DID NOT HAVE. Jesus was sleeping through the storm. How could anyone be aboard a tiny boat like this and sleep through one of those horrific Galilean storms? Jesus had perfect and I do mean perfect confidence in the Father. Jesus had perfect peace. He was not worried in the least about this storm. Wow! How envious I am of Jesus! O to have perfect peace. No have no worries, no anxieties, to have perfect calm in the soul…Jesus had it!
    2. The second lesson of the storm is that JESUS IS THE GO TO PERSON. Got a problem take it to Jesus. Do you feel like your ship is sinking, go to Jesus. Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?  Are you grieving over joys departed? Tell it to Jesus. Are you grieving over clouds of sorrow? Are you worried about what’s going to happen tomorrow? Tell it to Jesus. There is no other such a friend or brother: tell it to  Jesus the Savior. Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.
    3. The third lesson from the storm is that JESUS IS GREATER THAN THE STORM. The disciples thought they were going to drown but they had forgotten or did not understand that Jesus is the maker of even the storm and no water can swallow the ship were lies the Master of oceans of earth and skies. The Creator is always greater than His creation. The storm was a terrible and frightening monster to the disciples but it was more of an intempent child to Jesus, He just stood up and rebuked it. It doesn’t matter what your problem is, He is greater than the problem. I do understand that some of you are battling stage 4 cancer and you have prayed for healing of the body but it has not come, how can Jesus be greater than the cancer that is destroying your body? I will tell you how. Cancer will not have the last word: Jesus will have the last word. Cancer may kill the body but it has no power of the soul and Jesus is going to give you a new body, one that is cancer resistant. Cancer is not the final word because physical death is not the final word. Jesus came to Bethany four days after Lazarus had been in the grave and Jesus had the final word, “Lazarus come forth.”
  3. STORMS ALSO TRANSFORM. This is one of those life changing experiences for the disciples. They see a side of Jesus that they have never seen before and they are awed, amazed and visibly shaken. I don’t think any of them where ever the same after this event. It was what we call a DEFINING MOMENT. We all know storms [crisis]  usually do take us by surprise: the news of a terminal illness, an unexpected car accident, or perhaps our doctor telling us we have cancer. The uncertainty of what is going to happen tomorrow is probably our greatest anxiety.Have you ever had such defining moment? One that literally changed your life. Think about it: how could you be present and hear Jesus command the elements and walk away the same. It is great that Jesus had the power to calm the seas but just as amazing is His ability to calm the soul.

Saved To Serve

Matthew 8:14-17

14 When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. 15 But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”

INTRODUCTION

After a busy day, Jesus goes home with Peter and finds his mother-in-law sick with a fever. Jesus simply touches her and the fever leaves immediately. When the fever left, she felt fine and she got up and fixed supper for Jesus. Thus she was saved to serve or healed to help, however you want to look at it.

If we go back to Genesis and the creation of man we discover that God gave Adam dominion over all creatures and everything in the garden. Adam was to rule over God’s creation within the borders of Eden and God gave him the authority to do it. Of course, Adam transgressed and lost his authority and dominion. The authority Adam lost we see in Jesus. Everyone was impressed with Jesus authority. He could speak to diease or demons and they would flee. But God not only gave Adam dominion, he gave him responsibility. Adam was to [1] rule over and [2] to care for. Genesis 2:15… The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. God made Adam the care taker of Eden. Adam was God’s steward or servant. The earth never belonged to Adam but God did entrust everything in the vicinity of Eden to his care. He had all the timber rights, mineral rights, water rights–All the gold was his and so was the silver. No man ever had more to manage than Adam when it comes to material wealth.

The fall gave man a bad concussion. It messed up the way we think. We are very anxious to get back what we lost but we go about it in the wrong way. Adam was both ruler with dominion and servant with instructions. Now the first step in our recovery is to submit to the authority of Christ as LORD and learn from and obey His instructions. That is basically our assignment here and now. In this life we are to be stewards [managers] of His resources and servants. We are destined to a throne but that comes later. Our problem is that we don’t like the servant hood role, we want to go straight into ruling. Everyone wants to be his own king or in the case of the ladies, queen.

We resist coming under Christ authority and allowing Him to make decisions for us. We want to be in charge and we are convinced that we are capable. Acknowledging Christ as LORD is much more difficult for us than acknowledging Him as Savior. As our SAVIOR He died for our sins and secured our forgiveness but as our LORD He commands our daily life. So we were created to serve in the beginning and when Christ redeemed us, He recreated us to serve…2 Corinthians 5:17…Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Jesus not only healed Peter’s mother-in-law, He gave her a new purpose for living which was to serve HIM. He does not save us to sit, He saves us to serve.

Marion Mill was born into an aristocratic family in Hungary. Her first spoon was actually pure gold. She was raised in all the comforts of extravagant wealth. When she became of age, her parents sent her to school in Vienna where she became an actress, and there she met and fell in love with a young medical student named Otto.  They married and went to live in Hollywood, CA. There, as they “set up house,” he began to dabble in movies just as a hobby. He became so interested in movies that he gave up his medical practice and an made a career out of directing movies. Marion’s beauty, wit, and irresistible charm brought her everything a woman desires. In Europe, New York and Hollywood she became a celebrity but she could not handle the fast lane and got into drugs and numerous affairs. Her life and lifestyle became so sordid, even for Hollywood, that Otto divorced Marion. In a state of depression she moved back to Vienna. There at a party she met another doctor, named Albert Schweitzer who was on leave from his hospital in Lambarene, Africa.

She was so fascinated by Schweitzer, that she asked him if she could talk to him alone. He met with her weekly for the next six months. As he prepared to return to Africa, she begged him to let her go with him. Schweitzer surprised everyone by agreeing. Marion, the young princess, born in a palace, educated at Vienna, successful in Hollywood and formerly married to Otto Preminger the famous movie director, went to a little village in Lambarene, Africa, and spent the rest of her life emptying bed pans and tearing up sheets to make bandages for putrid sores on the poverty-stricken nationals.

In her autobiography she wrote, “All I wanted was everything. Dr. Schweitzer convinced me that there are two kinds of people; those who are helpers and those who are non-helpers. I thank God that He allowed me to become a helper. It was in helping others that I found everything.”

I agree with Schweitzer: there are two kinds of people, the helpers and non-helpers, the servers and the setters, the participators and the spectators and the happy and the unhappy…the fulfilled and the unfulfilled. Peter’s mother-in-law join the ranks of the helpers. In all my years [43] of ministry; I have never met a server that was not happy and I’ve never met a sitter that was not a complainer. When we reject Jesus call to serve, we become deeply introverted and so preoccupied with our self that it is impossible for us to think of anyone else and this leads to misery of the worst sort.

Many preachers have an unhappy retirement. Over the years they become addicted to being needed and they also enjoy the honors that goes with the job. When they retire, they have a lot of time on their hands and in some cases very few phone calls in regards to preaching assignments. The pastor who baptized me back in 1968 was an unusual man. Unfortunately I did not realize this until just a few years ago. He was never a great preacher. I cannot remember one sermon or even one point that he made and I heard him preach many times He was a very good pastor. He loved to tell stories and he had a great memory but he had trouble relating his stories to any specific point. He just told story after story at random and he lost track of time. Needless to say, when he retired, he got very few opportunities to preach but no man enjoyed retirement more than he. He was built like St. Nick and often played the part at parties and the nursing home. He didn’t need a pillow under his shirt, he had the big belly and everything but what I appreciated about him most was his jolly attitude. I saw one of his beautiful daughters just weeks ago and I told how much I appreciated her father’s spirit and attitude. How did he remain so jolly? Rarely did anyone invite him to preach so what was his secret. He got involved in a nursing home ministry and was faithful to that humble ministry for the last 20 years of his life. He took a job that no other preacher wanted. He was devoted to helping others and he did it until the day he collapsed. He could have sat home and felt sorrow for himself as so many seniors do but he would have not part in that: he had to be helping someone else and that was the key to his jolly attitude.

I’m telling you folks, Jesus doesn’t save us to sit, He saved us to serve. He doesn’t heal us to hinder but He heals us to help. Two kinds of people: helpers and non-helpers, which are you?

He Touched Me

Matthew 8:1-4

Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

Introduction

Leprosy was and is a horrible disease. For this and many other reasons, it was an O.T. type for sin. Think about it:

  1. Leprosy starts small and on the surface, a spot on the skin but it spreads uncontrollably.
  2. Leprosy separates people from people: it creates a barrier. Lepers were quarantined or sometimes outcast.
  3. Leprosy is destructive in nature. Begins with skin but eventually destroys tissue, nerves, bones and limbs. Eventually, it kills.
  4. Leprosy, like sin has no human cure.

I love reading the stories of Jesus miracles and I love this one. In this story I see all the necessary characteristics of a Savior.

I. THE CONDESCENSION

I realize that it is a play on words but notice 8:1…. The NASB reads, “When Jesus came down from the mountain. If you look up the word condescension this is what you will fine– a voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior. I love most holidays but Christmas has always been my favorite. I’ve had several people tell me that Easter should be my favorites and I love the celebration of the resurrection and I do realize how important the resurrection is but it all began with Jesus willingness to come to where we are, to condescend to our low estate. I like what Paul said in Philippians two:

Though Jesus was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, Jesus gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave  and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Are you not glad that Jesus came down, amen!

II. JESUS IS WILLING TO SAVE US

The leper said, “LORD, if You are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Folks I rejoice tonight that Christ is willing. This man knew that Jesus had the power to heal him. He had no doubt heard many stories about Jesus healing power. He does not question Jesus power, the ERV reads… “Lord, you have the power to heal me if you want.” He believed in Jesus power but he was not sure about His will. Did Jesus want this man healed? Of course He did. Does Jesus want us to live in the bondage of sin. Does He want us to be terrorized by sin? No

III. JESUS IS ABLE TO SAVE US

I love the story of Ruth. Boaz is Naomi’s ga’al, her kinsman redeemer. In other words, he was her nearest kinsman and was in line to legally redeem or avenge Naomi. Actually, there was one man who was closer kin than Boaz but he was not willing. The ga’al had to be two things: [1] He had to be willing and [2] He had to be able. Jesus is both willing a able.

Note what the Leper said to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” You will note that the man knew that Jesus had the power… “Lord, you have the power to heal me if you want.” That is the gospel, the good news, Jesus has the power and He is willing. Hallelujah, what a Savior.

CONCLUSION

I want to wrap this message up with some wonderful truths that you can see in this beautiful story…

  1. Our sin condition is incurable. Like the Leper, Jesus is our only hope.
  2. We are always at Christ mercy. Like the Leper, we approach humbly, “Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him.” Then we plead for mercy!
  3. Jesus didn’t just cure his leprosy, He changed his life. The man was transformed into a new creature.
  4. Jesus was not afraid to touch him. Jesus can touch sin but sin cannot touch Him. It did once at Calvary but that was because he became our sin bearing sacrifice. Jesus is holy, sin cannot touch him and neither can death. He was not afraid to touch the leper.

Illustration

In October of 1962, we were out for the fall break and were picking cotton. I had a good day and picked the most I’d ever picked in one day. I was very tired and after supper, I got my bath and went to bed and went to sleep but I woke up around mid-night. My feet and legs had gone to sleep so I moved them but they would not wake up. I got mother out of bed and she fixed a foot tub of hot water and told me to soak my feet be they would not wake up and I had no feeling. She continued to poor boiling water in the tub until she realized what was happening and she jerked my feet out of the tub. She comforted me as only a mother could do and got me back in bed. We meet Dr. Crutcher at his office at 8:00 am. I was a worrier and mother had not said much. He tapped on my knees a couple of times and them said, “Naola, walk him over to the hospital” which she did and that was the last walking I did for a while. They tapped my spine for next three days and put me in quarantine. No one came in or out without a mask and gloves. Mother refused to wear hers. The only two people I saw for the next few days other than doctors and nurses was my mother and daddy. Very few came into the room and no one touched me without gloves. They treated me for spinal meningitis but they never knew for sure what it was. Perhaps I was never contagious but it would not have mattered: my mother would have touched me even if it meant her life and so would my daddy who gave her a couple of breaks during the week. Jesus touched the leper and it did cost Him His life. For Jesus to condescend to our estate, for Him to become a sacrifice for our sins, He had to die. He healed the leper with a touch but He cleansed our sin with His blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior.

Profession Without True Faith

Matthew 7:21-23, NLT 

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

I profess to be a Christian and have done so since I was 9 years old. I made my profession of faith in March of 1958. We were in revival at my home church, the Sardis Springs Baptist Church in the central part of Limestone County. John Crawford was my pastor and John Ingolf was the visiting evangelist. I have been blessed indeed. Bro. Crawford was an encouragement to me right up till his departure in 2011. Bro. John Ingolf is a retired IMB missionary and a member of Central Baptist Church in Decatur. I have tremendous respect for both men.

Jesus made it clear that professing to be saved and being saved are two different things. The passage above has always unsettled me. It appears that Jesus is discounting grace and a lot of emphasis is being placed on works…Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter…and… We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name. You do recognize of course, that the works below were not accepted and that includes exorcism and miracles which of course I cannot perform. I use to think, “These people did miracles and could not get in so how will I get in?”

So what is Jesus thinking? What is He communicating? Do we earn our way to heaven by being perfectly obedient to the Father? If that is true, who other than Jesus can be saved? I have always wanted to know what Jesus was saying or what He meant and recently the LORD gave me an insight that has really helped me get a grasp of this passage. Before I share this simple insight, as to what it takes to get into the kingdom, let me tell you what will not work.

I. LIP SERVICE WILL NOT GET US INTO HEAVEN

Knowing the language of Zion will not be enough. Empty profession will not get the job done. According to polls, 78% of Americans consider themselves Christian. This includes Mormons, Jehovah Witness, Catholic, Greek Orthodox and many others. Simply stated, the 78% includes those who do not attend church but they identify with the Christian church. Their parents may have been Christians and basically what many of them are saying is, “If I were going to attend a church, it would be a Christian Church.” You and I both know that 78% of Americans are not Christians. Not even 78% of those who attend Christian churches on a regular basis are not Christians.

Being a pastor of a church on a main thoroughfare, we have folks drop in wanting money for gas, this, that and the other all the time. To be frankly honest, I have a hard time being kind to these folks. Some believe that profiling is wrong but I cannot help it and I have a profile on these folks:

  1. They all smoke cigarettes or use some form of tobacco. They may be pulling an oxygen tank behind them but they smoke.
  2. They all have cell phones. I don’t look to see if they are Apple or Smart Phones but I assure you they have a cell phone.
  3. At least 98% of them have cable TV somewhere: they may live in a camper, they may live in the back seat of their car but they have a TV and Cable.
  4. About 95% claim to have some kind of physical disability which is why they can’t work.
  5. All of them are Christians…All…I have not talked to a beggar in years that professed to be lost, they all tell me without hesitation, “O, I am a believer” and I have even had them quote me scripture. I dealt with one a decade ago who knew bible better than I did. I was quoting him a verse and he interrupted me and said, that is not how it goes and he proceeds to quote it verbatim. I had to think fast. I said, “Yea that is King James, I was quoting New American Standard.”

Profession is important but profession alone will not save us.

II. WORKS, EVEN CASTING OUT DEMONS AND DOING MIRACLES WILL NOT GET US INTO HEAVEN

For years I struggled with assurance. One preacher would preach and I would think I was saved and then another would preach and I would think I was lost. I just could not get solid assurance that I was saved. I was trying to gain assurance by the things I did for the LORD. I thought, if I can witness to another person, that will prove I am saved but that doesn’t work. You will never get assurance through what you do in Christ behalf. Unfortunately, many have build their assurance on their works. You are not going to heaven because you taught Sunday School for 40 years. You are not going to heaven because you preached the gospel for so many years. You are not going to heaven because you tithed. Some folks keep detailed records of all they have done for the LORD but it will not matter. You are not going to heaven because of what you have done for the LORD. You go because of what He has done for you.

III. TO GO TO HEAVEN…YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN [a radical change in nature]

True conversion is marked by repentance and faith. Repentance of sin and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ. The result of true conversion is a radical change of nature. Before we are converted, we have the rebellious nature of a goat. When we get saved, we have the nature of a submissive sheep. I believe that this is exactly what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7 when he says that the ones who will be saved are those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

A young man in our church has been struggling with assurance. He has been under attack. The devil is shooting those fiery darts of doubt and one minute he feels OK and then next he feels horror thinking that maybe he is not saved. In a recent conversation I asked him, “Do you have a desire to please Christ? Do you have a desire to obey Him?” Some people trust Jesus to save them from hell but do not trust Him on a daily basis. That would be like having insurance on a car that does not run. God cannot be mocked: He does not provide insurance on a faith that doesn’t work. If your faith isn’t working; it is time to get a new faith. It is possible to have a car with insurance that runs. The spirit of obedience is in every child of God.

Dr. Adrian Rogers once said, “I can sin all I want but I don’t want to sin.” I agree, I do sin but I don’t want to sin. The difference between being saved and being lost is that they we cannot sin without it a making us miserable. I can sin but I cannot enjoy sin. Deep down I want to please Christ not grieve Him. What Jesus is saying in the sermon on the mount is that all God’s children have that desire to be obedient. If we are not serious about obedience, we are not saved. If you say in your heart, “I will do as I please”, you are not saved. When you have the spirit of a rebel, you are not saved. You should not have a goats nature. Listen to what Paul says to the Ephesians…

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 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.

If you are still ruled by the spirit of disobedience, you are not in Christ.  If you have burning desire to do the good things He planned for you, to be obedient to Christ, to honor and love Him, you are saved. So examine your heart tonight. It is not about decision in a revival or VBS, it is not about an experience whether it be a vision, dream or goose bumps. The question is: Do you have a desire to obey Christ? You either do or don’t and that is the issue.

CONCLUSION

  1. Is there a deep desire in your heart to please and to honor Christ?
  2. Have you put your faith/trust is something other than Christ? [an experience, feelings, good deeds, baptism, church membership, etc]
  3. Is Jesus Christ LORD of your life?

Caution Flag! Jesus is not an insurance plan to keep us out of hell. If He saved you from something [Hell] He is saved you to something [Heaven] and for something [Humble servanthood].

The Rick Young Ruler

17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

This is a fascinating story with a sad ending. It is the story of a young man who came to the right person[Jesus], in the right manner [kneeling humbly], and he ask the right question. I would have preferred he use the same wording as the Philippian jailor, “What must I do to be saved?” But he phrases the question a little differently, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” If you study the two question closely, you will see that they sound a like but they are quite different.

One thing is certain: the rich young ruler is seeking something. In spite of his great affluence and his youthful success, there was something missing in his life and he knew it. No doubt he had a good upbringing but evidently he was taught a works theology. He had far too much confidence in his moral goodness. He was a religious young man and he thought that he could get to heaven by his own doing.

This young man was successful, rich, influential  and no doubt very intelligent but he is spiritually ignorant. When he addressed Jesus as “Good” master or teacher, Jesus questioned him: “Why do you call Me good, only One is good and that is God.” Now you and I know that Jesus is good and He is God. Had He not been good, He would not have been God but He was good and He was God. I know it, you know it but this young man did not. [1] He failed to recognize the deity of Christ. I don’t think it entered his mind that he was talking directly to God. The young man made the same mistake that our present culture is making… he recognized Jesus as a “Good man” but not as God. C.S. Lewis wisely stated: “Jesus is either who He said He was or He is a liar and a lunatic. The one thing that he cannot be is merely a good man.” You cannot be saved until you confess that Jesus is the Son of God. You will never see Christ as your Savior until you see Him as God.

Not only did he fail to understand that Jesus was God; [2] He did not understand that he himself was a sinner in need of a Savior. He knows something is missing; that something is not right yet he believes that if Jesus will just give him more information that he can remedy his own problems. Obviously, he had no comprehension of human depravity. He did not see his sin and shame. Folks, we lack the power to deal with sin. We can not atone for sin. We can not cleanse the heart of sin. We cannot overcome sin. We need a Savior. The death of Christ at Calvary broke sins grasp and His resurrection set us free from the power sin and death. We need a Savior. We need Jesus desperately. God is holy and His standard is absolute perfection. You and I cannot live up to His standard. We could not do it in ten life times. A part from Christ, we are hopelessly lost and living under the wrath of our sin. Jesus is the only person who can save us from the destructive consequences of sin. So this man does not know who Jesus is and he does not himself either. He thinks he is close to perfect. He declares that he has not violated one commandment but he is a walking violation. How does the very first commandment read? I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. “You must not have any other god but me.” Obviously he had another god before God. This man’s god was money. Jesus knew exactly what his god was and by asking one question, Jesus revealed the identity of that god to the young man.

His gross ignorance does not stop here: [3] This young man does not know the superior worth of heavenly treasures. He was filthy rich and Jesus knew it. Jesus knew exactly what was in the young man’s heart. Jesus knew his treasure and it was his money. In a gentle way, Jesus said, “You give Me your treasure and then I will give you Mine.” So here it is: Jesus offers an eternal treasure for a temporal treasure; a heavenly treasure for an earthly treasure. Jesus offers him something that will last for something that will not last. Sadly, the young man said no to Jesus. Why would he do such a thing? Because he was convinced in his mind that his treasure was greater. Yes, he was wrong. He just didn’t understand the greater worth of an eternal treasure. He was blinded by the god of this world and it is sad. Our world and our churches are filled with people who are just as blind and ignorant as this young man. Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.” C. S. Lewis said, “Nothing truely belongs to us until we give it away.” Jesus said, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” [Luke 17:33]

He does not know who Jesus is; he does not know his own sin and self; he does not know that heavenly treasures are greater than earthly treasures and [4] He does not know the joy of serving Christ. Jesus gave this young man a royal invitation to be His disciple. Very few people got that invitation. He could have discovered a whole new dimension to life but he chose rather to pursue earthly ambitions. It is a sad story with a sad ending. The bible says the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. This man could have had a life of purpose, joy and fulfillment and yet he chooses to be sad. All those who bow to the god Mammon will end up sad and dejected. The young man offered Jesus his goodness but Jesus did not want his goodness, Jesus wanted his heart. Christ has no desire to tweak your life: He is not trying to make you better at any particular thing–His purpose is to transform you. The rich young ruler came to be informed but Jesus didn’t give him the information he was seeking. We don’t just need information, we need transformation. Devils are informed: our need is to be transformed and only Christ and His grace can make that a reality.