When All Is Said And Done

The Wise and Foolish Builders…7:24-29 NIV

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Introduction

This is the conclusion of the SERMON ON THE MOUNT. Jesus concluded His famous sermon with four illustrations involving two things: [1] Two Gates–Broad and Narrow. [2] Two Voices urging us to into the gates–True prophets into the narrow and false prophets are leading people into the broad that leads to destruction. [3] Two kinds of people: those whom Jesus knows and those He does not know and last [4] Two responses to Jesus words–Obedience and disobedience.

Transition

Today we look at the two responses to Jesus teaching, to His word…

Interaction

Today, I want to do something different; I want to make you a part of the sermon: ARE YOU READY? Listen carefully…Stand up! {wait for reaction} Two aspects of obedience: “Hearing” and “Doing”. To hear only is not to obey: we must hear and do what we were commanded to do.

Let’s say you get a new toy or gadget that has to be put together. It comes in a box with a set of instruction. Let’s say you read the instructions then lay them aside and never open the box. Doesn’t make sense does it?

Lets say you have a physical problem and you go to a doctor. He examines you thoroughly, writes you a prescription and gives you instructions as to what to do. You walk out of his office, you never fill the prescription nor do you follow his instructions. What good does it do to go to a doctor and then ignore what he tells you?

Neither will it do you any good to hear what Jesus has to say if you have no intention of doing it.

Transition

Now, please allow me to share three insights with you quickly:

[1] Although Jesus was a carpenter: He is not talking about building a house.

Jesus is talking about building a life on HIM, He is the ROCK you build on. The song writer said it beautifully, “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

[2] Every life is going to be tested–Sooner or later–here and now or in Judgment

I use this passage in wedding. You want to build a good marriage, build it on Jesus and when the storms come, it will stand the test. Jesus talks about wind, rain and floods–that is pressure from above, without and below. Every marriage will be tested and so will every life.

Paul: I Corinthians 3:10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

[3] Christ has the authority to make any claim He chooses on your life.

Look at verses 28-29…

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

It is not enough to be astonished at Jesus teaching. It is not enough to be amazed at His words or impressed with His wisdom and authority. He demands obedience. Look back at verse…Verse 21

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Two Kinds Of People

Matthew 7:21-23, NASB

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Introduction

Jesus is concluding His famous SERMON ON THE MOUNT and He does so with four illustrations: Two Gates, Two kinds of prophets [true and false] and today two kinds of people: THOSE WHOM JESUS KNOWS and those that He does not know. So, in essence, we are talking about two RELATIONSHIPS. The simple truth is: You either have a relationship with Jesus or you down.

One preacher referred to these verses as “The most frightening words Jesus ever spoke.” Let’s think about this for a moment: what is frightening about these words?

Note the text: ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Here is the problem, these people standing before Jesus in Judgment profess to know HIM but the problem is–He doesn’t know them. So evidently, they are self-deceived. They came before thinking they were saved when in reality, they were lost.

One thing is certain: this passage should sober us up and make us think. Paul said the the Corinthians–Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, of course, you fail the test.

So I think what we need to do today is have a TEST. The Test is never for the teacher, the TEACHER knows the correct answers; the test is for the student.

Test Questions

[1] Are you trusting Jesus and only Jesus for your Salvation?

In other words, have you come to understand your wretched condition? Do you understand that you are depraved and incapable of producing any righteousness that God will accept. Have you come to that place where you realize that “Your way” is the wrong way and that only Jesus can save you from not only sin but from your self. {Prodigal would be a good example}

Church attendance is good but it will not save you: neither will baptism. As a matter of fact, the people Jesus is referring to, here in the sermon, had prophesied in Jesus name…they had exorcised demons…they had done mighty deeds in Jesus name. I would love to tell you that my assurance is based on the fact that I preach the gospel but that is not true. We get no assurance from our deeds, even those done in Jesus name.

I have struggled with assurance since I was a boy; I am by nature or default a “Doubting Thomas.” I can tell you for a fact, you are going to get no assurance from being a preacher, or a deacon or a Sunday School teacher. There is no doubt, many know scripture, know the right answers and they know Jesus from a knowledge standpoint but they have no personal intimate relationship with HIM and furthermore, Jesus doesn’t know them and that is the bottom line.

Sorry folks but I have to confess the truth: my greatest fear is that you don’t understand GRACE. It is not what we do for HIM but what He does for us that saves us. It is not knowing about HIM, it is knowing HIM. I know a lot about Tim Tebow, but I don’t know him personally and I assure you, he does not know me.

[2] Is God’s Grace becoming more amazing each day?

Are you growing in GRACE? Is your awareness of your sins becoming more and more evident each day? People who are self-deceived are always aware of the sins of others but they never see their own sin. DO YOU SEE YOUR SIN? Do you see God at work in you. Paul reminded the Philippians, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. J.B. Philips says it like this…For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.

My desire to please God is growing, it is more evident every day. My desire to study, read the bible and pray is stronger now than ever before. Is this me or is this God working in me. Did I initiate this or is it a God thing? My love for the world is on the decline…Is this just me or God working in me?

[3] Do we have a desire to do God’s will?

Jesus makes it clear that only those who do the FATHER’S WILL will be accepted. Isn’t this bring us back to works? No, I do not think so.

I Timothy 2:3-4…This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

John 3:16-18…“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

The first step in doing the will of God is to BELIEVE IN JESUS. We are not talking about intellectual faith, simply believing that Jesus was, or even that he died for our sin. We are talking about a LIFE COMMITMENT. We are talking about YOU surrendering YOUR WILL to Him. There is no way that JESUS CAN BE IN YOU without HIM exerting His authority and Lordship. He is going to give you a desire to do His will and it is going to upset you when you don’t do His will.

It is true that we have to be perfect to enter heaven but it is Jesus who will make us perfect BUT even now, in our imperfect state, we by grace should have the desire to be perfect. If we love and enjoy sin, if we call our own signals…something is wrong.

STORY

This story is going to sound unbelievable and I did not get it from a book: this happened to me. I really don’t know exactly what year it was, it was in the 90’s and that about as close as I can get. A man walks into my office, he was a bi-vocational minister who pastored a small church in Winston County. He said to me, “I am going to divorce my wife. I have found someone else.” Of course I reacted immediately: “Are you mad? Have you lost your mind? You are pastoring a church, you cannot divorce your wife.” He said without a moments hesitation, “I have thought about that and God forgave David for adultery and He will forgive me.” I really blew my cork when he said that…I don’t remember all I said but I do remember one thing…“You better go back and reread your bible because David never recovered from his little roll in the hay.” He didn’t give one thought to the WILL OF GOD. The only thing he was concerned with was having what he wanted and saving face. Do I believe that this man is saved? NO! If you have been saved, you will have a desire to please God.

Two Trees

The Tree and Its Fruit…Matthew 7:15-20

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Introduction

Jesus is concluding His famous sermon and He does it with four illustrations: each of the four involves two things:

[1] Two Gates–One Narrow and the other Broad.

[2] Two Trees–One producing good fruit and the other not

[3] Two Relationships–One known and one unknown

[4] Two Foundations–One Solid Rock and the other Sinking Sand

Transition

Today we want to talk for a moment about these two trees. I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said there are two trees in everyone garden. The tree of self and the tree of Christ. If we choose to serve ourselves, we serve Satan by default. Every morning, we had to decide which tree we will take our fruit from. But the two TREES here in the Sermon on the mount have to do with TRUE and FALSE Prophets.

Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” The NASB says, You will know them by their fruits, which is better than the NLT because all false prophets are good actors. Acting is what they do best. The bible has a lot to say about false prophets and there are some common sense things that you can look for.

[1] All FALSE PROPHETS PRACTICE DECEPTION

Jesus said in Matthew 24:11… And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.

Again in Matthew 24:24… For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.

What you must understand is that these false prophets are very gifted communicators; they may even be eloquent. Many of them are word-smiths: they have deception down to a fine art. They tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. Paul warned Titus that a time would come…

...when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

False prophets always play to the audience: they work to placate and appease the listener but there base motive is to deceive. This is why the health and wealth preachers draw the big crowds. They have highlighted the positive and upbeat passages and promises but they are not telling you the whole truth: committed Christians get sick, they suffer and they die. Things do not get easier once you are inside the narrow gate. Prosperity is not a sign of God’s blessings and poverty is not a curse. That would be like saying Michael Bloomberg is blessed and I am cursed. It none sense, hog wash, horse features and balderdash.

[2] ALL FALSE PROPHETS ARE GIFTED MANIPULATORS

Peter said, Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words. [2 Peter 2:2, NASB]

I’m going to tell you the truth: Times have changed since I was a boy back in the 1950’s. They have changed since I was a young preacher back in the 1970’s. Most local pastors are not in it for the money. Things are much better now but 40 years ago, churches starved preachers to death. I went to school for 19 straight years and the last seven was to prepare for the ministry: trust me, you don’t recover those years financially in a rural Baptist church BUT there are Charleston’s out there and many of them are on TV. When a preacher is wearing a $300 dollar silk tie and and a $3,000 suit, something is wrong. When he has gold on every finger and around his neck, something is wrong. When He has his own yacht and jet, something may not be right.

Jesus compared false prophets to wolves. It was not a compliment. Wolves are sly creature who prey on the weak and helpless. They are greedy carnivores who will rip the flesh right off of your body. They care for only one thing: their appetite. The very first thing you look for in a preacher is: DOES HE TITHE? I did not come here to prosper at your expense. I have enough on my conscience as it is and I don’t need to add exploitation to the list. I am one flawed and messed up human being but you have my word that I will not exploit you. I will challenge you but only for the KINGDOM OF GOD, not to feather my own nest.

[3] FALSE PROPHETS LOVE PRAISE

Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”

Some churches have cult-like characteristics…their pastor is infallible, they praise him more than they praise JESUS. This is an error on the part of the church and the pastor.

When Peter got to Cornelius house…. Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” {“Stay up man, you are going to get us both in trouble: you for worshiping a mere mortal and me for allowing it.”}

The good sheep follow the shepherd who follows the CHIEF SHEPHERD. You have to use your brain and your bible: you have make the determination…Is Bro. Jack following Jesus? If I am following Jesus than it is safe for you to follow me. If I am pursuing my own agenda, then you should not follow me at all.

Two Ways

The Narrow Gate

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

INTRODUCTION

We are coming to Jesus conclusion in his famous discourse, THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. From verse 13 until the end of the chapter, we have Jesus brilliant and insightful conclusion. He wraps up the sermon with four illustration that teach us clearly: THERE ARE ONLY TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. This is illustrated by [1] Two Ways [2] Two Trees [3] Two Relationships and [4] Two Foundations to build life on.

Let me say by way of INTRODUCTION, I have searched the scriptures and I cannot find any teaching of a THIRD DIMENSION known today as the “Gray Area.” Read my lips, there is no gray area. The gray area is the invention of the devil and the hope of the unregenerate. I have argued with liberals until I am blue in the face and I have asked repeatedly for them to produce scripture to back their claim and I’ve never seen one verse Old or New Testament.

In Luke 15, the greatest presentation of the gospel in the bible [other than the passion narrative], Jesus said, “A father had two son,” why two sons, why not three or four? Because there are only two kinds of sons, the repentant and the unrepentant.

Have you ever heard a person claim neutrality. “I’m not for it or against it,” they say. O really! What does Jesus have to say about that? “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” Didn’t Pontious Pilate claim neutrality?

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

Let me ask you a question: was Pilate innocent of the blood of Christ? Could the Jews have executed Jesus without Pilate’s consent? Pilate’s claim of innocence is wishful thinking. He was as guilty as you or I.

Listen folks there is:

  • RIGHT AND WRONG
  • GOOD AND EVIL
  • GOOD FRUIT AND BAD FRUIT
  • UP AND DOWN
  • HEAVEN OR HELL
  • BLACK AND WHITE

But there is no gray!

What about purgatory? It is man’s wishful thinking but it is not scripture.

Jack Ryan is a fictional character created by Tom Clancy. Jack is a professor and a reader for the CIA. In one of the novels he uncovered corruption is the president’s administration. An upper level cabinet member begs him to keep quiet and the president himself offers him a compromise but Jack refuses to buy in: He insist on making the TRUTH KNOWN. The cabinet member begins hollowing at Jack as he leaves the building…“The world is gray Jack, the world is gray.”

You may wish the world was gray but it’s creator determined it’s color and it is black and white. You are either saved or lost. All men or in one of two categories: on the straight and narrow or the broad and easy. The straight and narrow is difficult because it takes the high ground. It involves sacrifice and suffering. You can’t get your worldly luggage through the narrow gate: the squeeze is too tight. This is why the RICH YOUNG RULER did not get in…too much baggage. No, there are not that many who choose the NARROW WAY, most prefer the BROAD. It is the path of compromise, the path of least resistance…no persecution on this path and it is by far the most popular.

The two paths leads in different directions and it is not possible to take them both: you have to choose one or the other but there are only two choices. If you refuse the NARROW, you take the BROAD by default. The Narrow may be difficult at times but it leads to LIFE. The BROAD way is easy but it leads to destruction. Two destinations after we leave this earth, not three, only two–Heaven or Hell.

Crowned or Crucified

I stood alone at the bar of God in the hush of the twi-light dim and faced the question that pierced my soul, WHAT WOULD I DO WITH HIM…Crowned or Crucified, which would it be, no other choice was offered to me.

The Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12, NLT

12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

Jesus is nearing the end of this great Sermon and in verse 12 we have a capstone, a summary of all that has been said previously. Remember the Scribe who tried to entrap Jesus with a question about the law…He ask Jesus which law was most important and this is what Jesus said…

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37-40]

Then Paul tells us in Galatians …The whole law is fulfilled in one wordin the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” [Galatians 5:14]

Matthew 7:12 is known as the GOLDEN RULE and it sums us the teaching of Jesus. It is the most universally quoted statement that Jesus made. Like all of Jesus teachings, it was revolutionary, unheard of until Jesus teaches it here on the mount.

The Rabbis had a SILVER RULE which sounds similar but is very different. The SILVER RULE simply stated says: “Do do anything to anyone else that you would not want done to you.” Epictetus [ep-pi-tet-us]the Greek philosopher used the rule in fighting slavery. “Would you like to be another man’s slave? Then do not enslave another man.”

The Silver Rule is the basic law that governs all civilized men: Don’t murder me and I will not murder you. Another way of putting it is “You stay in your lane and I will stay in mine”. Driving would be impossible if we didn’t follow this law. We even practice this law in the social context: “You mind your business and I will mind mine.”

It is very civilized but it is not CHRISTIAN or Christ like.

The SILVER RULE is negative: we keep the rule by doing nothing. Don’t steal from your neighbor, don’t tell lies on your neighbor, don’t murder your neighbor, etc. The SILVER RULE is passive by nature. You might say it is a “do nothing” religion. You can actually keep the rule by doing absolutely nothing.

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A DO NOTHING RELIGION

It is very unfortunate that we have made it a DO NOTHING religion but this is a gross distortion of true Christianity. The GOLDEN RULE is not passive or negative. Jesus said, “Do to others what you would have them do for you.”

Our love for God should take an active form: we must express our love for God passionately in word and deed and we must love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. To love your neighbor is to do more than refusing to bring harm upon him.

Let me illustrate and then go to a story that will illustrated this point. If I am driving down the road and there is a pedestrian walking down the road, it is one thing for me to avoid running over him which is in keeping with the SILVER RULE but it is another for me to stop and give him a ride. The law of the state of Alabama regulates my speed or my hitting a pedestrian but there is no law that says I have to stop and help the person, even if it is obvious that they need help.

Do you see what Jesus is saying? He doesn’t want us to be governed by the law of survival but by love for those in need. We can do what is legal and yet fail to do what is right.

A perfect illustration is found in Luke 10 [Good Samaritan]. The Priest and the Levite did not do anything to break the law. What they did was perfectly legal. Jesus does not want our lives to be governed by the legal but by love. They should have stopped and helped the hurting man but they did nothing.

Christ and Christianity are governed by love. Love for God that expresses itself in love for man. To follow Christ is to become a servant to others.

I’m not much of a shopper: I’m a little too impatient and I can never find what I am looking for…I love it when a store clerk walks up to me and says, “Could I help you sir?”

This is the question that you and I need to ask each day: What can I do today to help someone else?

CONCLUSION

Some years ago a movie came out about a modern day man who was called upon to build an ark like the one Noah built. The one thing I remember from the movie was the acronym ARK, it stood for ACT of RANDOM KINDNESS.

I was already practicing what I had labeled in my daily planner as an AOK [Act of Kindness] and to be honest, I don’t like the word “random” so I changed it to REDEMPTIVE. Act of Redemptive Kindness; make it your goal to do one every day. Ask God to provide the opt for you to help someone.

Last Thursday Bill and Carol carried June and I out to eat and as we were going into the restaurant, a group of ladies were coming out so I held the door for them. The older one, the mother I think, smiled and said thank you. I said, “You are welcome, that is my act of kindness for the day.”

Some of you are probably thinking: “That is such a small thing, why did you even mention it?” Because God loves small acts of kindness.

I had a good friend who has gone on to be with Jesus but long before his departure, he lost a son basically because the boy didn’t get his medicine at the right time [diabetic]. The boys daddy had been so kind to my family that I felt indebted to him. It would take me hours to recount the many acts of kindness done for men and my family by this hurting family inside. As I pulled up to the church building where his COLS was being conducted and I looked at this huge edifice which was impressive is size and the thought crossed my mind...WILL I EVER PASTOR A BIG CHURCH THAT PAYS A BILL SALARY SO I CAN DRIVE A BIG CAR AND BE A BIG SHOT? The LORD, who knows our thoughts, interrupted my vain train of thought and I have never forgotten what He said to me that day…

JACK, ONE ACT OF KINDNESS MEANS MORE TO ME THAN BRICKS AND MORTAR: ONE ACT OF KINDNESS MEANS MORE TO ME THAN WORLDLY SUCCESS OR FAME. Jack, your eyes are focused on the wrong thing.

The LORD’s conversation with me that day changed my life and today I want to challenge you to ONE ACT OF KINDNESS EACH DAY.

The Law of Prayer

Ask, Seek, Knock

Ask and it will be given to youseek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!

INTRODUCTION

Practically all modern commentators believe this tiny passage on prayer is linked to verses 1-5. When and how are we to judge others and to whom do we correct? These are some of life’s most difficult questions and we need God’s wisdom. How do we get God’s wisdom, we ASK FOR IT…{James 1:5}…

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Brother Inman’s paraphrase of this verse was…“If you need wisdom, ask God for it and He will give it to you and will not fuss at you for asking.”

TRANSITION

Although the above may be true, there is much, much more to this passage. This short passage contains the LAW OF PRAYER or as Dr. Jack Taylor called it, the PRINCIPLE OF PRAYER. If you want to learn to prayer; you must learn to ask. [Ask the congregation if anyone has a $100 bill]

I. FIRST I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE PRINCIPLE OF PRAYER

I am not a Greek scholar or the son of a Greek scholar. There is a lot I do not know about English and I am much more ignorant when it comes to Greek but Matthew 7:7 is one of those verses that I remember from Seminary. The word for ask is aiteō {i-tay-o} and it is a verb…ASK, SEEK and KNOCK are all verbs in the present imperative tense.

Let me illustrate: this verb used in the aorist imperative tense would be “Shut the door behind you.” But the word Jesus uses is present tense, nor aorist and it would be “Always shut the door behind you.” The NLT has it right… “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

The present tense of the verb indicates continuous action…ASK AND KEEP ON ASKING

RECEIVE , FIND AND OPEN are also verbs that speak of a continuous action so that Jesus says…THOSE WHO KEEP ON ASKING, KEEP ON RECEIVING. Folks, I ask everyday and I receive everyday. James, the half brother to our LORD was a man of prayer and he had this thing figured out. He said in his epistle….

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

The Law of prayer is to ask, not to demand…

II. I ALSO WANT TO SPEAK TO OUR PASSION FOR PRAYER

Effectual Prayer must be seen in the context of relationships. Who do you enjoy talking to, conversing with? People you love, right! Jesus uses the FATHER/SON analogy. I might also point out that when the word aiteō {i-tay-o} is used, it conveys the idea of the lesser appealing to the greater:

A son to his father…

A subject to his king…

A servant to his master…

A mortal to God…

ASKING is basically a confession of need.

Look at what Jesus says“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!

I have one son and our three girls think that he is favored because I use him in a lot of illustrations. He calls me two or three times a week and generally {not always} to ask for something. Sometimes it is advice, sometimes he ask for instructions [how to get to fort Benning last Thursday] and he has in the past ask for money. He borrowed money from me to get Lori’s engagement ring. I’m not going to say that he and I have the best relationship in the world, that might be considered bragging and that will get me in trouble but I love him a lot and he loves me. I am not God, I am among the evil that Jesus mentions, the fallen creatures who do their best but still make lots of mistakes. BUT when he asks for something, I do my best to get him what he needs.

DO YOU SEE WHERE I AM GOING?

I do not have unlimited resources like God, nor do I have the wisdom to know for sure what my son needs and there may come a time when I cannot give my son what he really needs because I am human but HIS COMING TO ME AND MY GIVING centers around our relationship. Kay, Charles and Perry have sons and they have never ask me for anything–that is because they are not my sons. This doesn’t mean I would give them what they ask but because they have no relationship to me, they lack the confidence to ask.

THINK ABOUT IT!

What does my son or Charles Son or Perry’s son or Kay’s son build their confidence on? Why are they bold when it comes to asking?

My son thinks, he fully believes that I am a good man and that I love him more than life…don’t you tell him any different. {Trampoline}

GOD IS A GOOD, GOOD FATHER!

He is infinitely better as a FATHER than I am…no comparison. If my son ask for bread, I will not give him a rock. If he ask for a fish dinner, I’m not going to fry him a snake and try to make it look like a fish. If he ask for an scrambled egg, I am not going to fix him a poisoned omelet. Consciously, I will never give him anything that will hurt him.

In Jesus day, a sand stone looked like a loaf of bread and an ell was consider a fish of sorts but unclean and unfit and a scorpions were white and rolled up in a ball like an egg.

THE POINT: GOD IS NOT TRYING TO TRICK US OR DECEIVE US…HE LOVES US MORE THAN AN EARTHY FATHER COULD POSSIBLY LOVE US.

CONCLUSION

There is a lot more in the passage, I just scratched the surface but let me conclude by saying: God wants a relationship to YOU. He wants to talk with YOU daily. He wants to give you more than sunshine and rain; He longs to give you HIMSELF and He does that by giving us HIS SON.

Judging

Matthew 7 New International Version (NIV)

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Introduction

Our youngest grandchild Chloe has a bit of a weight problem and like her granddaddy, she wants to eat all the time. Her mom tries to make her more responsible. Chloe knows that she is not to eat between meals. The other day her aunt caught her unwrapping a Debbie cake of sorts and when Chloe caught her aunts stern look she said immediately, “Don’t judge me.” We are talking about a seven year old who has picked up the terminology of the world. The liberals favorite verse in the bible is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

If you disagree with a liberal–that is judging. For example: lets say you repeat what the bible says about homosexuality: immediately they respond: [1] You are judging [2] You are condemning [3] You are a hater [4] You are a narrow minded bigot, [5] You are intolerant.

Liberals cannot carry on a rational or logically argument: you are not allowed to disagree. If you disagree with their view point, you are all the above. Disagreeing and condemning are two different things.

What’s amazing is that Liberals only know Matthew 7:1, they are not familiar with John 7…

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Jesus is not teaching us to never make judgments: He is teaching us how to do it correctly…Look at Matthew 7:15-20…

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

We have to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. This is why verse 6 goes with this passage–we all have to make value judgments. You do not give a loaded pistol to a small child. BUT we do need to be cautious and there are scriptural guidelines to guide us.

I. ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND: YOU ARE THE ONE BEING JUDGED

James 2:12-13

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

We will all be judged by the way we judge others which should keep us from being condemning in our judgment.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

II. REMEMBER: WE DO NOT HAVE ALL THE FACTS AND WE CANNOT SEE HEARTS

Remember what Jesus said in John 7, Stop judging by mere appearances. Things are seldom what they appear to be. You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover. Be very careful: take your time. Don’t be careless or reckless: we can do a lot of damage when we jump to conclusions.

III. RECOGNIZE AND CONFESS YOUR SINS BEFORE CONFRONTING SOMEONE ELSE WITH THEIR SIN

We cannot examine a man’s eye without getting close and the splinter in our eye will hurt him. Before you go trying to help someone else with their sin, you better be aware of your own.

The problem with the Pharisees was they could see the sins of others but could not see their own.

Years ago I was teaching a men’s class and I had one guy who was super critical of almost everyone. One Sunday our lesson was on Matthew 7 and judging. I was shocked when he spoke up and said, “The LORD has shown me through this lesson that my sin of judging others is much worse than the sin I am judging them for.”

My Mother was constantly telling me that the sins I saw in others were the very ones that I was guilty of myself. Back, way back, in my softball days we had a super competitive guy who played second base. One night he hit into a double play and he went bezerk; he threw his cap, screamed and hollowed at himself and came back to the dugout fuming. The dugout got really quiet: we were all too embarrassed to say anything. On the way home, I told June, “I don’t know if I want to continue to play with him with the attitude he has.” She said, “Did you get a good look at him? Did you see what he did?” I said, “Yes, that’s why I brought it up.” She said, “Well good, you were looking at yourself.” Then we argued the rest of the way home over who was worse, he or I. She said I was.

IV. ONE LAST THING: MOTIVE IS EVERYTHING

Don’t dare rebuke or reprove another until you have thoroughly examined your motives. For mutual benefit, for your friend to be helped and you be helped and the relationship strengthened, you have to love a person.

Look at verse 6 again… “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Not everyone can talk reproof or correction so your first judgment is whether or not the person is able to except your counsel.

Proverbs 9:8… Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

Remember that ultimately its God responsibility to Judge…Paul said in Romans 14… Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

If I show up at Charles work site next week and chew one of his workers out: he is going to be upset with me. We don’t reprove another man’s servant. The LORD is a capable MASTER, He really doesn’t need our help.

CONCLUSION

While I was a young person, an older teenager. There was a family of five that were members of our community. The three children came to church but the parents never came. Both mom and dad were alcoholics and the kids had to defend for themselves. The oldest and youngest were girls and both were attractive, the younger one got pregnant and she was not even 16 years old. We were leaving church and my mother overhead a group of gossipers, they were talking about how horrible it was that this girl got pregnant: they were embroidering her Scarlet Letter life the Puritans. They were branding her as a slut. You would have to know my mother to believe this but she broke into their little gossip session with this rebuke: “If you ladies had been raised like these girls, the same thing might have happened to you.” Two things about Mother: she had a heart for the underdog and she never worried about popularity. As the Indians use to say, “Don’t judge a man till you walk in his moccasins.”

Overcoming Anxiety

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Introduction

One out of every five American’s suffer from anxiety, that is over 40,000,000 and only one third are on some sort of treatment plan. Anxiety is a big issue in today’s world but it was a big issue when Jesus stood on the mountain and preached this sermon. It is practically impossible for humans not to worry.

David confessed his anxiety in Psalm 139, Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

If you have ever read the book of Acts or 2 Corinthians, you know that Paul was a chronic worrier, he says in 2 Corinthians 11:28, “Apart from these external things [ship wrecks, beatings, exposure] there is the responsibility that weighs on me everyday, my anxious concern for all the churches.” You may not understand Paul’s concern, but every pastor knows exactly what he is talking about. If you love people dearly, like Paul did his churches, you are going to worry about their welfare.

Listen to Jesus confession in Luke 12… 49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 

Have you ever had a difficult task assigned to you that caused dread and anxiety? It is human to dread suffering or to be anxious about it. This dread that Jesus had for the cross does not make Him a sinner, it only makes Him human.

It is not so much that you worry, the important thing is what you worry about.

If you look at verse 25, you have the list of things that Jesus mentioned… 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Do we worry about our LIFE, how long we are going to live?

Do we worry about life in terms of provisions–food and water?

Do we worry about our body? Aging, health, dressing it up or covering it up. If God gave you a choice between life itself and a new wardrobe, which would you choose. What good are new clothes if you don’t have a body to put them on?

NOTE: In the world that Jesus lived in, food, clothing and shelter were paramount. These people did not have pantries, closets, or kitchen cabinets filled with food goods. They had the clothes on their back, maybe an additional pair of under garments so they could wash their clothes now and then and they bought their food daily at the market. So don’t be too quick to find fault with them.

The KEY to the entire passage is verse 33…

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

The Key to a successful life is learning to distinguish between what is essential and what is not and then to distinguish between what matters and what matter most.

Food, water, shelter, clothing are all needed, they are essential, they matter but there is something that MATTER MORE. Mary figured it out way before the others.

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Dinner is important if we want to live but in this case, JESUS was more important. Both ladies are concerned: one is concerned with dinner be served on time and the other is concerned about Jesus and the cross that lay before Him. Martha was a good woman but her priorities were out of order.

As followers of Christ, our highest priority [WHAT MATTERS MOST] is HIS KINGDOM. Christ and His Kingdom must always be first. Not only do we seek His Kingdom first, we seek His RIGHTEOUSNESS. Herein lies our greatest concern: this is paramount.

Over the years my values have changed. I still have the same base convictions that I had from the start but God’s grace has been at work within me and my PRIORITIES have changed. I have always put CHURCH FIRST. You can ask my wife or my children or anyone who knows me. But the same could be said of any Pharisee.

Whereas it is true that I did not want to be a preacher, I did surrender to the LORD’s will but mostly out of fear of what He might do if I didn’t. When our children were growing up I made sure they understood that CHURCH was more important than anything else. BUT my own priorities were not right…over time God changed me from inside out.

Let me tell you what is most important to me today. I want my children to love Jesus with all their heart and to live Matthew 6:33, to incarnate this verse. None of our children are affluent; they have what they need but none of them can give you a loan…I don’t care about that…my concern is that they be faithful to Jesus.

When God called our son to preach, I did not respond in the right way: but I apologized immediately. I acted like an idiot but God was giving me the desire of my heart and I didn’t have enough sense to realize what He was doing.

Food and clothing are essential: I don’t want to go naked or hungry but JESUS is bigger than both: what good is food if you have no LIFE and Jesus is the LIFE. He is my PEARL of invaluable price and HE is the last thing I would surrender and that would be hell to do. If you are my age, you are running out of time...DON’T SACRIFICE WHAT MATTER MOST FOR WHAT MATTERS LEAST.

Notice verse 33 again… Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. DON’T SACRIFICE THE KING-DOM FOR A THING-DOM.

We are to love Jesus with all our heart and soul and our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. WE LOVE PERSONS AND WE USE THINGS. Don’t get that backwards which is what the great majority of Americans and Baptist do. THEY LOVE MONEY AND USE PEOPLE.

Conclusion

Some 30 years ago, I meet a businessman from Hattisburg, Mississippi. His first name was Charles and I have forgotten his last name. He became a millionaire by manufacturing women’s purses. During the depression, a woman didn’t need a purse but when Americans began to prosper in the 60’s, women fell in love with purses. Most of them have a purse for every outfit. Charles capitalized on this trend and made a fortune. He also became the SS teacher for the Middle Adult Men’s class at First Baptist Hattisburg. Every year at CHRISTMAS, his class would help a family. One year the class decided it was time to set some guidelines because they have never heard one thank you from folks they had helped. Charles let the men set the guidelines. Someone suggested they help a family that was faithful in worship attendance and Sunday School. Somebody else suggest that they tithe: Charles said, “That was ten years ago and we still have the gift, we can’t find a family that meets our qualifications that needs the money.”

Matthew 6:33 AT WORK…You put Jesus first and He will take care of YOU!

Jesus And Treasures

Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin {brosis} destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

INTRODUCTION

My grandmother on the Bailey side was raised Church of Christ: she joined the Baptist Church when she married my granddaddy. He was killed in a logging accident at age 37 but she lived to be 102. It upset her for preachers to mention anything in regards to money. If a preacher got on Stewardship in relationship to money, she called it “begging.” She told, more than once probably, not to beg when I got in the pulpit.

I’m not begging: I personally don’t need or want anything you have but I will tell the truth about Stewardship/Money even if it offends my grandma.

TRANSITION

Today’s message comes from Jesus: this is what He said about money and material wealth. Don’t forget, the Jewish religious leaders are in the audience and they loved money [Luke 16:14].

I. FIRST: NOTE THE CONTRAST BETWEEN EARTHLY TREASURES AND HEAVENLY TREASURES

Earthly Treasure are:

[1] Insecure–no way to preserve them or protect them due to moth, vermin/rust, thieves.

[2] They do not last…can ‘t keep them or carry them with you. They are temporal at best.

[3] They can’t add anything to your life: neither length of day or quality.

Heavenly Treasure are:

[1] Secure–Can’t lose them.

C.S. Lewis– Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours.” In God’s economy, the way to get is to give. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

NOTE: There are seven biblical principles that govern stewardship:

[1] Recognize Divine Ownership of Everything (Psalm 24:1)

[2] Resolve to Tithe (Malachi 3:10)

[3] Resist all forms of Greed: Never take God’s resources out of circulation (I Timothy 6:6-10)

[4] Realize that the secret to getting is giving (Luke 3:38)

[5] Remember the words of Jesus…It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)

[6] Renounce all selfish motives (I Corinthians 13) {Let love motivate your giving}

[7] Rely on God for every need (Matt. 6:33, Phil.4:19)

God does not allow hording: whatever we try to cling to we will eventually lose. Jesus said, For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. “

[Illustrations: Two hands, and dirty Santa]

[2] Heavenly Treasures are Eternal–they last and last

[3] Those who seek Treasures in heaven have a higher quality life here and now.

II. THIS LEADS TO POINT TWO: THOSE WHO HAVE A PROPER PERSPECTIVE IN RELATIONSHIP TO STEWARDSHIP SEE THE TRUTH CLEARLY

Greed blinds us; it obscures our vision. I know a man who is a hordes. He will not part with anything. He has old junk cars, old appliances stored in barns and he will not sell them or give them away. He could build several houses in Guatemala by just selling the things he will never use again. He is sinning against God’s economy by taking resources out of circulation.

You give me your check book and it will tell me all I need to know: If you do not have the proper perspective about material things you will not have the proper perspective about anything. Greed destroys our perspective.

III. THE FINAL POINT: WHAT IT BOILED DOWN TO IS–WHO IS YOUR MASTER OR WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

The NASB translates money “Wealth” which is more accurate. The old versions said Mammon which is the literal translation from the Greek word mamōnas which they shortened to mamon. Literally it means material wealth of any kind.

You can’t serve both God and Money or God and Material wealth. One SLAVE cannot serve two MASTERS. He will be loyal to one are the other but he cannot be loyal to both.

CONCLUSION

Remember the story of the RICH YOUNG RULER….

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

2Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Let me ask you a question: why did this young man walk away sorrowfully, sad, dejected–he still had his wealth?

Do you know the answer to this question?

How much is this young man worth today?

This story illustrates the truth that Jesus in teaching in Matthew 6: YOU CANNOT SERVE TWO MASTERS and MONEY WILL NOT PRODUCE HAPPINESS.

Jesus On Fasting

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Introduction

Note 1—Fasting is associated with confession and Repentance in the O.T.

Again, Jesus addresses a popular religious discipline of the day FASTING. Fasting was required once a year by Moses and it was on the day of atonement. It was connected to repentance. Practically all of O.T. fasting is connected to repentance…

Judges 20:26– Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening. {this pertains to the civil war with the tribe of Benjamin after the Israelites had lost 40,000 men}

I Samuel 7:6— They gathered to Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.”

Nehemiah 9:1— Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them.

This is the norm for the OT, fasting is always associated with repentance and confession of sin. You see the same thing with the Ninevites in Jonah.

Note #2…Jesus did not condemn FASTING, it was the impure MOTIVE that Jesus condemned.

You can tell by the text that Jesus assumed we would fast…He begins with “Whenever you fast.” You see the same wording in verse 17-18...”When you fast.”

Note #3…Jesus Himself fasted and so did the early church {Matthew 4, Acts 13}

SO…are we to fast or not to fast…this is the question?

[1] We are not to fast for show, to impress others.

[2] We are not to fast for the sake of fasting…there is no benefit or reward is fasting for fasting sake.

[3] We are not to limit fasting to food. When I say fasting, you think food but this only one aspect of fasting. Fasting involves all the fleshly indulgences. Food, entertainment, certain things our bodies crave, etc. {TV or Cell Phones for example}

[4] Fasting does not put God in our debt nor demand His attention. The ancient believed that fasting got God’s attention. {Only if the motive is right}

TODAY, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF FASTING

[1] FASTING IS HEALTHY

Everyone can fast. If you are diabetic, you fast from sweets. Many folks do not drink cokes. You can do a vegetable and water fast–it’s very healthy [Daniel]. I did not say appetizing, I said healthy. There are many healthy benefits to fasting. I have found, over the years, that for me, it is the best way to lose weight.

[2] FASTING IS A GREAT SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE

Self-indulgence is a problem for all of us. Sometimes we allow certain habits to become addictive. It is not so much that they are wrong or evil but they are time consuming. I enjoy working puzzles. I watch TV occasionally but I work puzzles every day. While Joe David was my pastor he called on us to fast some habit that was time consuming or that had become a passion. He rattled off a list of things…TV, cell phones, fantasy football, etc. At the time, I was not addicted to a cell phone, I was working the puzzles in the paper. So I went a week without working puzzles. I discovered, PUZZLES are not essential.

[3] FASTING PREVENTS US FROM BECOMING SLAVES TO THE FLESH

It is not wrong to eat, it is wrong to live to eat. It is wrong when our greatest passion is to indulge the body. Jesus said, “Man cannot live by bread alone.” Fasting will make you keenly aware of how powerful your fleshly craving are. When we practice wise fasting, no habit becomes our master. Fasting breaks the chains of our self-indulgent masters.

[4] FASTING HELPS US DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE ESSENTIAL AND THE UNESSENTIAL.

Food is essential but remember, wise fasting involves far more than food. It you think only food, you are missing the point. What is eating up your time? Does it have eternal significance? I don’t think it is a sin to watch TV but if you watch 40 hours per week, that is too much. Can you live without TV? Sure, you may not think so but you can. Go without watching TV one week and see.

[5] FASTING WILL MAKE YOU MORE GRATEFUL

I am not good at fasting, no need for me to be dishonest BUT the one benefit I always seem to get is THANKSGIVING. My first year in Seminary, I met a preacher from North Alabama and we actually had some friends in common. He was about 6’2” and may have weighed 140 with his clothes on. He was a few years older and a fanatic in many ways. Of course his definition of a fanatic was someone who loved Jesus more than him. I had grown a belly since getting married in August and he told me that I needed to get rid of it. He said you need to fast. Let’s me and you do a three day fast. I said, “I don’t know about that…” but he would not take no for an answer. THREE DAYS–BREAD AND WATER. Three crackers and a glass of water. By the time I had missed my second meal, I had a headache. On the second day, my head and stomach was hurting so much that I stayed home for school and stayed in the bed curled up like a snake. He came by to check on me and I told him, “I can’t do three days.” He said, “You go without eating tonight and then come to my house to break-fast.” I made it through the night and was at his door step by 7:00. We had biscuits and gravy…the best I had ever eaten. I had never been hungry in my life until those two days and I was so thankful for the food, something I had always taken for granted. Fasting will make you thankful, even when it does nothing else.

CONCLUSION

Fasting will not and cannot save us: Only Jesus can save.