If you have ever felt organization frustration, you are in good company. God’s man Moses thought he needed to do it all: lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, receive and convey the 10 Commandments, and as if that wasn’t enough, serve as judge over two million Jews. Poor Moses needed some serious help. He needed to relinquish some of his effort to control everything. In Exodus 18, Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law had just arrived at the Israelite’s camp in the desert. He was delighted to hear about all the miraculous events that occurred in Egypt and how God chose Moses to deliver His people from slavery.
I wish I could tell you my friend Bob hit the deck and repented—but it never happened. I remember watching the yacht sail away and thinking, “What a pitiful man”. Then I said, “Lord, thank you for allowing me to see someone who has everything to live for, but doesn’t know who he should be living for”. How long will Bob waiver between different opinions? Only God knows. Who are you serving? Who is with you and for you? Who are you following? If the Lord is your God, follow Him. If you bow to Baal, serve him only. But as Joshua so eloquently stated in verse 24:15, “Choose this day whom you shall serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. It is time for a Baal-out. Let’s take Baal out and get the Hell out of our lives, and find security, stability, and peace as we rest on God’s absolute truth.
O—a holy house has an objective. When I was in the third grade, my family lived in a small town, which I believe lent to developing creativity. I have always loved sports, and one day I decided to line off our backyard like a college football field. I went inside and asked my mom for permission and a bag of flour. She obliged, seeing my excitement while I explained how the flour would create yard lines and hash marks in the grass. However, we had a big backyard, and at about the five-yard line the sack was empty. Still undeterred, I looked over at my brother’s sandbox and thought, “Bingo!” I do not know how much white sand I shoveled, but from the sandbox, I lined off an entire football field. It was amazing! I even decorated the end zones. I invited my friends over, and we all stood on our deck overlooking the yard, smiling at my accomplishment. Unfortunately, the next day the rain came and to my dismay, my football field was gone. Still to this day, I appreciate my mother’s willingness to feed my creativity. Like the lines of demarcation, I created with sand, kids love boundaries.
I love II Peter 1:3 because Simon Peter was the disciple who said, “Jesus, I’m the power man! I mean, I am so powerful that whenever you go through a difficult situation I’ll be there! I’ve got your back bro!” Jesus replied, “Hey Simon Peter, you are going to experience a power outage very soon”. When Christ needed a power friend the most, when He was gravely in pain, being beaten and tortured, Simon Peter totally bailed. He cursed a blue streak when asked if he knew Jesus and then bolted. However, due to His love and mercy, Jesus later reinstated him. Thus, Simon Peter confessed his powerlessness and became one of the most powerful people ever to walk the face of the planet. This led him to write in II Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life”. Notice Peter didn’t say, ‘some things’ needed for a godly life—but ‘everything’! In this text, the word ‘power’ is a derivative of the Greek term ‘dunamis’ and is the origin of the English word ‘dynamite’. God is omnipotent, all-powerful, and can do all things. Therefore, we must understand some of God’s attributes are communicable such as love, grace, and mercy. It’s as if we can catch them. He also has incommunicable qualities: He is omniscient—all knowing, omnipresent—everywhere at all times, and omnipotent. The Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is also incommunicable—far too difficult for our finite minds to grasp. Yet, all of our greatest needs in life reflect our single greatest need, which is communication with our all-powerful God. With this need met, we are totally equipped for a godly life through our knowledge of Him. The more we understand the nature and character of God, the communicable and incommunicable attributes, the deeper we will grow in Him. II Peter 1:3 in its entirety states, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who has called us by His glory and goodness”. I may be dating myself, but this verse reminds me of the character JJ Walker played in the TV sitcom Good Times—Kid Dy-no-mite! God’s power, like dynamite, can bust open a hardened heart, blow away the rough edges, and equip us with the ability and power to face any and every situation.
We know Adam and Eve hid from God. Moses hid from God after killing an Egyptian. He dug a hole to hide the body thinking he had gotten off Scott-free. But he didn’t—he had an eye-witness and fled in fear to the far side of the desert. Jonah, the quintessential biblical running man, hopped on a boat in direct defiance of God’s command. Samuel gathered all the Israelites together to present Saul, their newly anointed king, but Saul hid behind a bunch of baggage. Since the beginning of man people have been attempting to hide from God. Why? We hide from God because we don’t know God. And, when we hide from Him we are hiding from ourselves, because if we don’t know God we don’t really know ourselves. When we hide from God we are also hiding God from others. Plus, the enemy hides us from righteous living.
The Bible says we should want to know God because He is God. If we don’t seek Him in an intimate way we will have a God-shaped hole in the center of our lives that only He can fill. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This doesn’t start with us—it starts with God. By faith we understand He has the best in store for us when we clothe ourselves in His righteousness and love through Christ. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all. Building a personal relationship with Him goes beyond the forgiveness of sin and security of salvation. Through God’s grace and mercy our lives are transformed psychologically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and all the other “tionallys” you can think of. Life change happens when we realize we should be seeking not hiding from God. In I Chronicles 28:9, Solomon was instructed to “…acknowledge the God of your father, serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the motives behind every thought.” Essentially there is nowhere God is not. When we seek God, when we allow Him to fill our God-shaped hole, we will experience true unfettered love and position ourselves in the sweet spot of supernatural success.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) God knows when we seek anything other than Him we will be gravely disappointed. We matter to God! When we fully comprehend the depth and breadth of God’s love we understand our capacity to love Him back, to delight in Him. We commit to Him and our purpose is revealed: we live to give Him glory. Seek God first. Love God first. Glorify Him first. And, allow Him to work through you for His glory.
Meeting God Face to Face
It’s a natural tendency to be selfish, because most of us have more than we need. God has blessed us with more stuff than we need. Why? Most of us think it’s just for me, for my enjoyment, for my deal, for my needs.
Well, James says time out. You have got it all wrong. James says to stop hoarding. So, if we have a wrong view of our wealth, we are going to have misery, and we’d better anticipate it, in this life, and also when we meet God face to face. Also, James says, because we are living with wealth, our tendency is to hoard it. The third wealth warning is: Don’t Use People Up. These rich people were using people. They were making their money on the backs of poor people and they weren’t even paying the poor people. Can you believe that?
Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Guam Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Puerto Rico Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virgin Islands Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
Look at verse 4. You thought hoarding was bad, you thought being selfish was bad, “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen…” Back in biblical times, workmen were hired and they were paid by the day. No legal contracts. No teams of lawyers here. It was just a daily thing. “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you.” The wages are crying out. “The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord almighty.”
They were cheating people out of money and, because they were cheating their workers out of money, they were robbing the worker’s family from even eating at night. The rich people were doing that. So, if you are materialistic, you are sinning against others and against God.
Let me define materialism. Materialism is not about how much you have. People think, “Oh, she is so materialistic because she has got a lot of money.” Or, “He is so materialistic because he has been so successful.”
Let’s do another wealth warning, wealth warning number two: Stop Hoarding. James 5:3. Let me just tell all of you to chill for a second. The Bible is not anti-investing, or anti-saving. The Bible says to save and invest and live and enjoy stuff. But hoarding is something different.
“You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” The word “hoard” comes from a word which means to “hide.” When I hoard, I hide. I try to hide it from others. I even try to hide it from God. A lot of us like to try to hoard stuff.
How do you know if you have a hoarding tendency? Let me ask you this question. I know it sounds like Regis, but let me ask you a question. How many of you, seriously speaking, would like to become a multi-multi-millionaire? Don’t answer out loud. If you said, yes, and I am sure most of you did, why? Why did you say yes? Be honest with yourself. Did you say yes so that you can do stuff to make you look good and feel good, so you can advertise your wealth. Is that why you said yes?
This song shows the patience, the love, the character and the nature of God. Let’s worship God together in a spirit of prayer as we just contemplate how patient Jesus is with us.
I Walked the Road
Today, if you became a narrow gater, I want to tell you that that is the greatest thing you will ever do. We have been talking about signs. We have been talking about warning signs and many of us have followed Christ’s warning signs. But Jesus said that after we have that defining moment, He wants us to put up a sign. He wants us to advertise to others that we are in his family, that we are on the narrow road.
The sign that we need to put up, the sign that I am going to challenge you to hold up in your life is the sign of baptism. Jesus said these words right before His ascension. Matthew 28:19. “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus told His followers to challenge new believers to put up the sign of baptism.
God, I give Jesus my mind and my body and my relationships and my future. Forgive me, cleanse me and save me right now. I want to become a narrow gater. I believe that Jesus is the gate.” Say that. Just say that.
I know that is a very bold prayer for a lot of us to pray, in order to come out of the crowd and emerge from the shadows. But a lot of us here are broad roaders and we have been looking longingly at the narrow road. As our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, if you prayed that prayer with me and meant business, I am going to ask you to slip your hand up as a sign that you prayed the prayer. Dozens of people have raised your hands. Bless you. God sees your response.
Right now in the spirit of prayer, as our eyes are closed, we are going to sing a song. This is a song that talks about waiting. I want you to think about this song in terms of Jesus waiting on you. Maybe you have not made the choice yet. Or maybe you just made the choice.