Well, we gave some loving jabs to the ladies on Mother’s Day, so here’s some friendly jabs at the men….”What men say, and what they mean”…
1. "I can't find it" MEANS: It didn't fall into my outstretched hands, so I am completely clueless.
2. "That's women's work" MEANS: It's difficult, dirty, and thankless.
3. "Will you marry me?" MEANS: Both of my roommates have moved out, I can't find the washer, and there's no peanut butter left.
4. "It's a guy thing." MEANS: There's no rational thought pattern connected with it, and you have no chance at all of making it logical.
5. "Can I help with dinner?" MEANS: Why isn't it already on the table?
6. "It would take too long to explain" MEANS: I have no idea how it works.
7. "I'm getting more exercise lately" MEANS: The batteries in the remote are dead.
8. "We're going to be late." MEANS: I have a legitimate reason for driving like a maniac.
9. "Take a break, honey, you're working too hard."
MEANS: I can't hear the game over the vacuum cleaner.
There’s also some things women say to men, that may be different than they sound. Men need to understand these…1.“Fine”: This is a word women use to end an argument when she knows she’s right and you need to shut up….2.”Nothing”: which actually means something and you need to be careful to not be around when it lands. 3.”Go Ahead”: This is actually a dare, not permission,, so whatever you do. don’t “go ahead”…4.”Whatever”: This is her way of really socking it to you when you least expect it. 5.”That’s Okay”: She’s thinking about how and when you will pay for your mistake. 6.”Wow:” This is not a compliment, she’s just amazed that any one person could be so stupid! (Now that you know this secret code, you may be able to have a trouble free Father’s Day)
Well, to get a bit more serious, If Fathers have lost their way, how can they point the way to children who are badly in need of direction… without the guidance of a father in their lives, their internal compass is dysfunctional and they lose sight of their true “north”.
ADAM WAS TOLD BY GOD TO LEAD HIS FAMILY – TO GUIDE, GUARD AND GOVERN… TO DIRECT, PROTECT AND CORRECT…
AND, GOD HAS NEVER CHANGED THAT DIRECTIVE. IT IS THE CHARGE TO FATHERS STILL TODAY…
GOD IS THE FATHER OF FATHERS…. THE CORE OF A MAN IS FORMED IN THE IMPARTATION OF HIS FATHER….WHEN GOD CREATED ADAM FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH… THE BIBLE SAYS – HE LEANED IN CLOSE – AND IMPARTED His LIFE INTO HIM… WHEN A MAN IS HELD CLOSE TO HIS FATHER…FEELS THE STUBBLE OF HIS BEARD… THE STRENGTH OF HIS ARMS… THE SMELL OF HIS MASCULINITY… THE TOUGH AND THE TENDER OF HIM… THAT INTIMACY FORMS A KIND OF CENTRAL CORE IN HIS LIFE… MOST MEN SPEND THEIR LIVES LOOKING FOR THAT CENTER – WITHOUT IT, THEY ARE MEN WITHOUT A TRUE NORTH ON THEIR LIFE’S COMPASS.
Two boys, back in the day, thought it would be a good prank to push over the outhouse. They crept up, pushed the outhouse over on one side and ran into the woods. They circled round and returned home an hour later, trying to divert suspicion from themselves, in case someone was around.
When they got home, their father was there with the whuppin strap in his hand and bellowed, "Did you two boys, push the outhouse over this afternoon?" The older boy replied, " I cannot tell a lie. Yes, Father, we pushed over the outhouse this afternoon." The farmer strapped the two boys severely and sent them to bed without supper.
In the morning, the two boys were very contrite as they came downstairs. Their father finally said, "Have you two learned your lesson?"
"Yes father!" they said, "But, in school we learned that George Washington admitted to HIS father that he'd chopped down a cherry tree and he was forgiven because he told the truth." "THAT’S TRUE!' said the farmer, "BUT, George's DAD, wasn't in the cherry tree when he cut it down!"
If we don’t train our children well, we may be the one in the outhouse when it gets toppled over, BECAUSE OF THEIR BROKEN SENSE OF VALUES AND BOUNDARIES!
Winston Churchill was Born at Blenheim Palace in 1874. It was 2 hrs. NW of London, in the beautiful countryside surrounding Oxford. At 12 yrs old – His father Lord Randolph Churchill – became Chancellor of Great Britain (a high government position)
Winston wrote to him from boarding school, “Father, if you could come by my school when you’re here in the area, I would like that.” His father never did come… they had a very poor father/son relationship. 38 years later, 24 years after his father died… at the age of 50, Winston became the Chancellor of Great Britain (the same position his father had held)
As they brought the robes for the ceremony, he said, “No, I’ve brought my own robes” He produced a box, and pulled out the robes his father had worn, as he put them on, he turned to his assistant, and this great man said – “Now, maybe I’ve done something my father would have been proud of.” He was still looking, at age 50, for the affirmation that had never come to him from his father as a child!
Listen, our children may not always appear to be listening to us, but they will always imitate us. It makes me wonder how many people that we have a hard time liking, are the way they are, because something needs to be fixed, that got broken in their childhood years….
A MAN’S GREATEST CALLING IS TO DISCIPLE HIS FAMILY. STRONG MEN make STRONG FAMILIES… STRONG FAMILIES make STRONG CHURCHES… STRONG CHURCHES WILL TRANSFORM THEIR CULTURE!
THERE ARE 7 KEY ATTRIBUTES A FATHER PROVIDES IN THE HOME…..
The First, is LOVE (a place where you belong and are accepted)
Then, there’s ACCEPTANCE (affirmation of your personhood)
Next, is VALUE (self-worth, and an interactive relational center)
Then there is INTIMACY (openness, accountability and transparency)
Next is DISCIPLINE (a healthy place for self-evaluation, growth and development)
Then there’s SECURITY (a safe, predictable place, from the world’s pressures and intrusions)
And last, A NAME. (an awareness of who you are and why you’re here)
Paul Said in 1 CORINTHIANS 4:15 “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten or birthed you through the gospel”.
AN INSTRUCTOR WILL TELL YOU WHAT HE KNOWS, BUT A FATHER GIVES YOU WHO HE IS.
A FATHER REJOICES AND IS PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN THE SUCCESS OF HIS CHILDREN… AN INSTRUCTOR MAY BE INDIFFERENT OR EVEN JEALOUS OF THEIR SUCCESS
INSTRUCTORS ONLY SET BOUNDARIES, BUT THE SPIRIT OF A FATHER RELEASES THE SPIRIT OF HIS CHILDREN AND BREATHES LIFE INTO THEIR HEART AND SOUL !
FOR SO MANY TODAY, A SURROGATE FAMILY, OUTSIDE OF THEIR BIOLOGICAL FAMILY, PROVIDES THESE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF NURTURING, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT PROVIDED FOR, AT HOME…
How vitally important it is for the Church to understand this and be sensitive to this vital and critical area in our society. It is the church that is so often called upon to be the surrogate family, providing LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, VALUE, INTIMACY, DISCIPLINE, SECURITY AND A SENSE OF IDENTITY…
We are to be known as the “Place that loves you and accepts you with unconditional love ”…
LOVE, is the desire to benefit others even at the sacrifice of its-self…LOVE desires to give and to bless … And LOVE IS NOT A FEELING, IT IS AN ACT OF THE WILL..
THAT‟S WHY IN THE BIBLE, we are commanded to be followers of Christ, and That becomes an action of the will, to love God with our wills, not just with our feelings and emotions…
THE CORE ISSUE OF broken relationships, is selfishness and a broken sense of self-identity and self-worth… That’s true whether it’s friendships, your marriage, your family members, your job or your church …
MATURITY doesn’t come with age, it comes with the acceptance of responsibility. MEN can be mature at 18 and they can be immature at 50!
What GOD WANTS IN A MAN, is what every woman and every child wants and needs…..Love, Integrity, consistency, decisiveness, strength and courage.
1 Corinthians 13:11… When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
So, if this is the case, we must ask ourselves…..
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDREN?
They demand to be the center of the universe
They want their own way and throw temper tantrums if they don’t get it
They don’t care about the results of their actions or who they hurt.
They are incapable of managing their own lives consistently.
They must be managed externally because they are not able to manage themselves internally, so they are easily manipulated and deceived.
A proud father brought home an elaborate backyard swing set for his children and immediately started to assemble it with many of the neighborhood children anxiously waiting to play on it. After several hours of reading the directions, attempting to fit bolt A into slot B, etc.
He finally gave up and called upon an elderly handyman working in a neighboring yard. The old-timer came over, threw the directions away, and in a short while had the set completely assembled.
It baffles me," said the father, "how you got it together without even reading the instructions." "To tell the truth," replied the old-timer, "I can't read, or write, and when you can't read, you've got to actually use your brains."
Men, it’s time to start using our brains, and that begins with reading the manual for fatherhood…..the BIBLE!
In the book, “MAXIMIZED MANHOOD”…By Edwin Louis Cole, it says that “when a man acts like a child, it forces his wife to act like his mother”…… What do mothers do for children”?.... They feed them, correct them, make decisions for them, change their diapers… clean up their messes and generally, treat them like overgrown children.
A boy and his sister were playing on a Sunday morning while their Dad was on the couch, reading the paper. And the father said: “children, get yourselves ready to go to church with your mom”. The little boy asked: “Are you coming today Dad?” The man replied: “No, I’m not coming. But I want you to hurry up and get ready”. His son then said: “Did you used to go to church when you were a boy, Dad?” He said: “I most certainly did!” *….As he walked away the boy mumbled: “Yeah, and I bet it won’t do me any good either!” (woah,, they really are watching and listening!)
You see…A CHILD CAN BUILD SPIRITUALITY FROM A MOTHER, BUT TRUE INNER STRENGTH OF CHARACTER ALWAYS COMES FROM MEN.
A TRUE FATHER SPIRIT, FIGHTS FOR HIS FAMILY AND CHILDREN,
Because a true father realizes that he is fighting for generations to come.
WE NEED SOME MEN WHO KNOW HOW TO FIGHT AND WIN!…
What will we do when the seas get rough?
What will we do when the enemy comes in like a flood?
What will we do with the negative talkers and lawbreakers?
What will we do with the Father’s Blessing committed to us?
-We will Start Fighting and we won’t stop fighting until we see victory and Revival. . . .
Harmon Killebrew who used to play for the Minn. Twins said, “My father used to play with my brother and me and the neighborhood kids in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘Hey, You guys are tearing up the grass.’ Dad would reply, ‘We’re not raising grass here, we’re raising boys.”
2 Timothy 2:2 And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach and disciple others also.
WHEN YOU LET OTHERS, WHO DON’T HAVE THE FATHER’S SPIRIT, CREATE YOUR WORLD FOR YOU… THEY WILL ALWAYS CREATE IT WAY TOO SMALL.
Ephesians 2:10 – (The Father’s Spirit says) You are my masterpiece, I created you for good works from before you were even born!
Tough times demand some strong, real men, FILLED with the Father’s spirit in our day!
EDDY LEO – was called of God to INDONESIA – there, he discipled 120,000 MEN over his entire life time– and a NATION THAT WAS 95% MUSLIM BECAME 30% FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. His motto “Bless Indonesia, and transform the world”
Our motto should be “Bless the Keys, and transform the world”
ALEX MITALA – made it his life calling to disciple young men and women in Uganda, Africa. He tirelessly instructed the girls to remain virgins until they married, and it had a positive impact. Those disciples went on to establish 15,000 CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS in Africa…The Aids epidemic over his 20 year period of ministry, went from 50% of the male population, down to 8%!
Yes!, There will always be fathers who try to save themselves from pain, discomfort, sacrifice and hardship, but in doing so, dreams and visions remain UNFINISHED, and they are never realized as a result. Some things have to be dug out and hammered out in prayer.
Some things will only yield themselves to fasting.
Some of the greatest heights come only through the deepest roots.
Some of the mountain tops in the Kingdom can only be conquered through the disciplines of the Spirit and of the will.
Can you really have character and courage without some danger and risk?
Can you really have depth, if you have not carved out some deep wells within your own life from which to drink?
Can you really have sympathy without any suffering or sacrifice?
Can you really understand someone else’s suffering, if you have not been wounded in some places of your own?
Hebrews 13:5,6 …For He [God the Father] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give up on you, or leave you without support. I will not in any degree leave you helpless, or forsake you, or let you down, or (relax My hold on you)!
Here’s just the last part of the poem… entitled “The Race” Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again, Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end. They cheered the winning runner as he crossed, the line, first place, Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace. But when the fallen youngster crossed the line, last place, The crowd gave him the greater cheer for just finishing the race. And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud; You would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd. And to his dad he sadly said it, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and hard to face, The memory of that little boy helps me in my race. For all of life is like a runner, with ups and downs and all, And all you have to do to win—is rise each time you fall. “Quit! Give up, you’re beaten,” they still shout in my face. But another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race.”
That’s the Father’s voice speaking, and cheering us on! Thank God, we have an ever vigilant Father, who’s watching over us… and He gives to each of us….
HIS LOVE (a place where we belong)
HIS ACCEPTANCE (affirmation of our personhood)
HIS VALUES (self-worth, and an interactive relational center)
HIS INTIMACY (openness, accountability and transparency)
HIS DISCIPLINE (a healthy foundation for self-evaluation, growth and development)
HIS SECURITY (a safe, predictable place, from the world’s pressures and intrusions)
HIS NAME. (an awareness of who we are and why we’re here)
In Joshua 3:15 we are given the account of Israel coming to the overflowing Jordon River, which blocked their way into the promised land. (I want you to see something, we may have missed) when Joshua commanded the 12 heads of families, one from each tribe, to step into the water with the ark of God’s glory, Think about it….these were fathers, they were men of Consistency, decisiveness, strength and courage. The success of the entire nation, in arriving at their destination, rested on these fathers who first stepped into the overwhelming place, that seemed uncrossable.
They were willing to sacrifice themselves for the families of Israel, they were determined to fight for God’s place in their lives and God’s call and destiny.
The ark which they carried, with all the gold upon it, is estimated at about 2000 pounds. No easy task in the swirling, swelling current of the river.
Godly men need to know that the weightiness of God’s glory, will not let you be swept away by the currents of life. Carrying the ark, may at times be a heavy responsibility, but it will hold you steady when everything and everyone is being swept away all around you.
Many years ago a farmer had an unusually fine crop of wheat. Just a few days before the wheat was to be harvested, a terrible hail and wind storm came. The entire crop was destroyed.
After the storm was over, the farmer, with his little son, went out into the field. The little boy looked at what was formerly a beautiful field of wheat, and then, with tears in his eyes, he looked up at his dad, expecting to hear words of despair.
All at once his father started singing softly, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure. Not the labor of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone. Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee”.
Years later, the little boy, now grown to manhood said, “That was the greatest sermon that he ever heard.
Every father, needs a good belt, and a belt is no good without a buckle, so, I want to direct your attention to…. Psalms 91:2 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. v3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare that would entangle, and from the noisome pestilence. v4 He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings shalt you trust: His truth shall be your shield and buckler. v5 You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; or for the enemy’s arrows by day; v6 Or for the pestilence that walks in darkness; or for the destruction that wastes at noonday. v7 A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come nigh unto you. v8 Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. v9 Because you have made the LORD, which is your refuge, even the most High, your dwelling place. The word buckler in the scripture, is “so-khay-raw”… to surround, to defend, to hold together, to hold up and support. Another word I found for this is “the hook”… God is the hook, that’s what everything hangs on! Without the hook (keeper) the belt won’t work! A godly father always knows what the hook is in every situation.
(what everything hangs on and is supported by)
When you’re in the overflowing Jordon, you can keep your head up high, because you know “the hook”, you know what everything is hanging on!
• You can Stand and remain standing in the shadow of the Father God.
• You can Stand for Christian principals in a world that’s been set adrift.
• You can Stand for the values of purity and separation from the world.
• You can Stand for the Truth.
. You can Pick up the ark of His presence and hold it high….
. You can Stand in faith and the assurance that you’re attached to something unmovable and unshakable!
I know a lot of fathers that are going against the wind and doing their best to get their families across the swelling, overflowing Jordon of our day and into the Promised Land! And we ought to do everything we can to help these modern day bearers of the ark, to get us all across to the other side!
I encourage every father to keep your feet in a firm place, to keep your hand on the handle of the Ark of His presence, and keep your head up high in faith believing. So much depends on what you’re doing in this generation.
David Frum, one of President George W. Bush’s speechwriters, wrote in his book “The Right Man”, that when he drove home on the evening of September 11, 2001 after the tragic attack on our nation by Muslim terrorists that something grew within him. He wrote that a sudden sense of American ownership gripped him as never before. He said that suddenly the F-16’s flying overhead were his jets. The empty streets in Washington were his streets. The burning Twin Towers in New York were his towers. The smoldering Pentagon was his Pentagon. He said that when he got home his wife and children ran and embraced him and clung to him in desperation. They were his family. On that night they piled up pillows and sleeping bags and all of them slept in the living room to be together, and draw from his new found values, vision and strength.
There is great and mighty power in a father’s blessing, influence and love. When a Father’s redeemed spirit comes to rest on a child, a family, a community, or a country, what is lost can be retrieved, bad choices can be turned around, even dead things can live again! The story of the prodigal son is a story of a father’s love that brought lost things back, and caused a returning of righteousness and peace. It brought restoration and healing… When Dad gets close to Jesus, everyone gets the blessing in the shadow of his commitment and covenant with God…..
We want to release the power of a father’s blessing this morning…..
Let’s pray over them and bless them today with the blessing of the Lord….
PRAYER… “Father God, we pray a special blessing on all the fathers today. Guide them to be good role models who are courageous, faithful and loving to their families. Help them to be a father like You are. Give them grace and patience to handle situations in a wise and effective way. Strengthen them as they strive to be Christian fathers, whose example of faith and steadfastness will shine brightly in a dark world. May they receive the honor of their sons and daughters with a spirit of profound love and respect. Give unto them wisdom, guidance and boldness as they conduct their lives in an unbelieving society. As the seasons change and time unfolds, keep and preserve them mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, day by day, month by month and Year by year.
Bless them in the work of their hands and may their word be spoken with truth and integrity that they may succeed in all they do. Inspire them, as they challenge and inspire us, to higher heights and deeper depths.
Give them back a hundred-fold as they have invested themselves in the lives and futures of others. Fill up their joy and may they know the peace that comes from a job well done and a life well lived. Let them know how very much they are loved by You, Lord, and by us as well.
For your glory and honor and for the transformation of generations yet to come, we ask this, in Jesus name, Amen
“Almost” can be a sad epitaph for anyone…. “He almost got it together”… “We almost went to the gym to work out”…. “He almost got the job or the promotion”….. “Their marriage almost succeeded”….. “Larry almost got off of drugs”…. “He almost stopped abusing his wife and kids”…. The singer who almost hits every note, is singing pretty terrible…. The weather man who almost gets it right all the time, won’t keep his job very long….and no one wants to “almost” make it to heaven…..
Some boys were out exploring and discovered an abandoned mine shaft. They decided to do some digging for fun, and when they had only dug for a few minutes, they hit one of the richest veins of gold ever found. The gold miner who gave up and walked away, just one foot from the mother load of gold, knows the stinging feeling of “almost”.. It has been said that, “almost” doesn’t count except in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Acts 26:25, describes the situation he found himself in as he stood before his accuser, Festus, in the presence of King Agrippa….
“But Paul stood his ground as he spoke with Festus. "With all respect, Your Honor, you know that what I say is both accurate and true. v26 The King knows what I'm talking about. I'm sure that nothing that I've said sounds crazy to you. You’ve known all about it for a long time. You must realize that this wasn't done in secret. v27 You believe the prophets, don't you, King Agrippa? (You don't need to answer that) - for I know that you believe." v28 But Agrippa did answer, saying,"Keep this up much longer and I will almost be persuaded to become a Christian!"
The Ad Council produced a public service announcement that showed a homeless man curled up in a fetal position, under a pile of rags. One ratty bed spread is all that shielded him from the cold. The narrator says, "This is Jack Thomas. Today someone almost brought Jack something to eat. Someone almost brought him to a shelter. And someone else almost brought him a warm blanket." Then, after a brief pause, the narrator says "And Jack Thomas? Well, he almost made it through the night."
Another ad shows an older woman sitting alone in a room, staring out a window. The narrator says, "This is Sarah Watkins. A lot of people almost helped her. Someone almost cooked for her. Another almost drove her to the doctor. Still another almost stopped by to say hello. They almost helped. They almost gave of themselves, to bring some happiness into her loneliness and isolation.
Each ad ends with a simple, direct message: "Don't be just another shadowy statistic in the foggy realms of “almost”.
“Almost”... It’s a sad word in anybody’s dictionary. It keeps company with expressions like “if only” and “nearly”, or as WC Fields often said…“close but no cigar”… “Almost” is a word that smacks of missed opportunities and fumbled chances. Tim KcKee was edged out for first place in the Olympic 400-meter race by two-thousandths of a second. He almost won a gold medal.
Matthew 19:16 tells us that “One day, a young man stopped Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" v17 Jesus said, "Why do you question me about what's good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he has told you." v18 The young man asked, "Could you be more particular, I've kept the commands from my childhood, what's left?" v21 Jesus replied, "If you want to follow me, go sell all your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me." v22 That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go. v23 As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, " it is difficult for the rich to enter God's kingdom”.
He almost believed, he almost received, he almost followed! He was an “almost” kind of guy, but almost was just not good enough.
The story of the rich young ruler is in three of the four gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke. All three tell us that he was rich. Only Matthew mentions that he was young. Only Luke notes that he was a ruler. Mark’s Gospel tells us that he ran up and knelt before Jesus, indicating that he was sincere, earnest and respectful.
The Greek word “psoo-khay”, translated here as “eternal life” is about joy, fulfillment and peace with God. It is the most desired and highly prized commodity on earth. This rich young ruler had everything in the world except what he wanted most—this eternal, or abundant, life with true joy, a deep sense of fulfillment and peace with God.
Bruce Larson tells about a fundamental church conference where everyone was given helium-filled balloons attached to strings. They were instructed to release those balloons at any point during the service when they felt real joy and peace in their hearts. Since they were fundamentalist believers, they were not free to say, “Hallelujah! And Praise the Lord!” (Sometimes we who claim to believe the whole bible, including the upper room experience, have a hard time with that, too.) All through the service, balloons were ascending. But when the service was over, it was discovered that one-third of the worshipers were still holding on to their balloons. They had not felt that release of joy and God’s peace.
It’s sad but true. Lots of folks sit in churches week after week with the cares of life weighing heavy upon them and never find the full release of the Spirit’s joy, fulfillment and peace. And they walk out the doors and continue to carry the weight they walked in with!
When Jesus was conversing with the rich young ruler, He was really asking, “Do you have a clue who I am?” I’m everything that you’ve been searching and longing for. And I’m looking for committed followers, not almost followers!
We are nearly halfway through 2015 (can you believe it?). Actually, the year is 2015 A.D. “A.D.” which in Latin, means “in the year of our Lord.” In our secular society we usually don’t say the A.D. part, but whether the secular crowd wants to admit it or not, all of history is divided into two parts—B.C., or “before Christ”, and A.D., “in the year of our Lord”. And every person’s life who ever lived, is divided into B.C. and A.D.
Until you meet Christ and receive him by faith, you are living in a B.C. world, regardless of what year it may be. It’s startling how many believers are living much of their lives as though it’s “Before Christ”, instead of the “Year of our Lord”…… They’re living in the shadowy almost realm!!!!!
Rick Massengale was a Pro Golfer, and golf was his god. It not only caused him much inner turmoil but it also created a lot of marriage problems. His wife decided to file for divorce. But before the divorce was finalized, she said they needed to have an undistracted talk, where she laid it all out. After their talk, they decided to attend the Bible Study made available for those on the tour circuit. The guest speaker happened to be Billy Graham, who was playing in the pro-am of the Kemper Open that year. Billy Graham, told the gathering, “Christianity is not a religion; it is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Rick had grown up in church and attended church as often as he was able. But he was honest enough to admit that he did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He found out how he could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He confessed his sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. His wife also made that commitment at the same time.
Rick says, that over the next six to eight months he realized that God was making significant changes in his life. In 1994, Rick and his wife celebrated their 25th anniversary, very much in love and very committed to Christ. Things really began to change and Rick became the director of College Golf Fellowship, a Christian ministry to college golfers and coaches. Now Rick’s life is no longer lived in B.C. (before Christ) but he lives fully in A.D. (the year of our Lord). Almost was not enough for Rick!!!!
What if Jesus were to tell you or me in a vision too real to deny: “Son or daughter, I want you to quit your job, sell your house, cash in your investments, and become a missionary.” Now, I’m not saying that everyone will be asked to do this, but the real question is, what are you willing to do, when the Master asks you?
Abraham had to be willing to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrificial offering on the altar…. (that’s just incomprehensible) we know that he didn’t have to do it, because God provided a sacrifice, but he had to be willing right up to the moment that he raised the knife to make the offering….
Jesus was really saying to the rich young ruler: “You are carrying a security blanket that you rely on more than God, and it’s your money, your position and your possessions. They are the objects of your devotion.
God will not agree to be the other Diety, in our line-up of favorites. We must choose either God or the idols….Our other Gods must be de-throned in order for us to experience the glory of God. Money, position, and possessions are morally neutral they are neither good or bad. They can do great good or they can do great harm, depending on who is in control of them.
These things are the most seductive false gods on earth, and more Americans go to hell because of them, than all other sins put together. An “almost” devotion to the Lord God, will not be enough!
It makes no difference in anything, and it changes nothing when you “almost” obey, when you almost forgive, when you almost visit someone sick and shut in, when you almost give your tithe….or when you almost believe….People who live their lives in the realms of “almost”, lean a lot on the 11th commandment…. "Thou shalt not get caught doing it."
*….Richard Evans said “The tragedy of living a fulfilling life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to really commit to it.”
Erma Bombeck said “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who wished they hadn’t waved the dessert cart away.”
One of the saddest statements in all of Scripture is where it says “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” The young man had caught a glimpse of a joyful, fulfilling, peaceful, magnificent, God-centered way of life. Something in the eyes and spirit of Jesus sent shivers of excitement down his spine. It was as if his whole life had been preparation for this pivotal crossroad.
You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to conclude that the young man probably became a grumpy old man, unhappy with his money, always looking back sadly to that day when, face to face with the Master, he almost became a disciple.
Let me give you a slice of truth….Not everybody is going to hell; but everybody, including this preacher, deserves to go to hell. Why? Because all of us are B.C. people who stood at a crossroad and decided to enter “the year of the Lord”….
*….Most of us don’t realize how awful “ALMOST” is in the sight of our holy God. It is cosmic treason. It’s a puny little creature such as you or me shaking our fist in the face of Almighty God, saying, “I don’t care what You command or prefer. I’m going to do what I want to, and I’ll do it my way. If You don’t like it, that’s just tough!”
Bill Hybels, was on an airplane one day. The passenger beside him asked Bill what he did for a living. When he replied that he was a minister, an interesting conversation ensued. The man said, “I believe in God, but I don’t attend church. I don’t see why I need it. I am an honest guy, and I try to treat other people decently. One day when I die and meet God, I believe that my record will be acceptable to Him.” Bill Hybels took a legal pad from his brief case and said, “I agree with you that God will judge all people. Let’s do some preliminary figuring on how we might stack up before God. I’m going to draw a line across the middle of this page. Let’s say that anything above this line represents a passing grade with God. Now, who is the best person you can think of, the one who would get a high passing grade with God?” The man thought for just a moment and replied, “Billy Graham.”
“Fine,” said Bill, “let’s put Billy Graham way below this line, where Billy Graham himself says he ought to be. He has said repeatedly that he is a sinner who deserves to go to hell; but only because Jesus paid for his sins on the cross is there anything worthy in him. Now, Bill said, “I’m going to put my own name on this chart well beneath Billy Graham’s name. Because I’m a sinner whose only hope is the cross.” Bill Hybels noticed that his new friend had suddenly become strangely quiet, and he asked him, “Now, where should we put your name on the chart? You don’t want to be ranked above Billy Graham, do you?” The man was reflective and said, “you have almost persuaded me”……
I want to point out one more “almost” individual today….. “He is referred to as the “son of perdition”, his name has negative connotations, and is linked with such words as untrustworthy, deceiver, betrayer, traitor and conspirator. He looked to be something he was not. His name is Judas. Amazingly, he is referred to as one of Jesus’ disciples…. It says he was one of the twelve and in another place that he was numbered among them….
You see “almost” can be so close, and yet so far! The bible calls it putting our hand to the plow and looking back….. being double minded….standing in the valley of decision….but never making the most important decision… to move from almost, to a sold out, fired up, kingdom person!!!
In a certain African village, the Christians were earnest and regular in their prayers and devotions. Each one had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn and without any grass. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to all the others as they watched their lives. They would kindly remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass has begun to grow on your path."
The bible says that an angel brought forth Peter from the prison, but we know that it was prayer that brought the angel to the prison!!!
Judas ALMOST made it to the upper room on the day of Pentecost…He ALMOST became a world changing apostle of faith and power…..He ALMOST spread the life changing gospel….. He almost healed the sick and cast out devils….ALMOST!!!!! If only he had renounced those things which continually drove him from the things which were infinitely and eternally better. If only he could have renounced the love of the world, in order to be filled with the love of God, but he never got beyond ALMOST!
There was a young lady who went to a Revival meeting and the church was full. One night she raised her hand for salvation. One of the counselors went back to where she was and invited her to walk forward and receive Jesus Christ. She refused to walk forward in front of all the people. After she refused the counselor said; “Then young lady, you’re not saved, you’re almost saved.” This went on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and on Thursday Evening, after sitting under the preaching of the truth, she raised her hand again; again the counselor went back to where she was sitting. She said; “I want to follow Jesus, and I will do anything and go anywhere He asks me to.” The counselor said “Young lady, now you are truly saved, let’s walk together, down to the altar.”
Oh, child of God, One day, and it will be soon, we will throw off these bodies of flesh. Our souls shall be released to come wholly into all the fullness of God! What heart can conceive, what tongue can express, what mind can even comprehend the unspeakable joy and consummate fulfillment with which we shall rejoice and take pleasure in every wholehearted commitment we made for Christ in this life.
There will be no regrets, over whatever sacrifice He asked of us, but there will only be a desire, that we could have done more and even perhaps, shame, that we did not do more and that we were so reluctant to give up even more for God.
As I close, I want to flip this thing about “Almost” totally around……
The Devil almost had me, but I met Jesus and I am His….. Satan almost stole my healing, but Jesus showed me that I was healed 2000 years ago…. I almost died from drugs and alcohol, but I called on Jesus and He set me free…. The deceiver almost convinced me to give up, but the Lord gave me strength to stand in faith, and receive my victory!!!
Let’s get the “almost” off of our lives and put it all over on the Devil!!!!!
I don’t know everything, but I know 3 things…I know God….I know His word is true…and I know if you stay close to Him, He will see you through!
Hallelujah….. Let’s make our declaration together today…..and leap over from almost, to the Healed, the delivered, the overcomers, the redeemed, the King’s Kids….. too blessed to be stressed, too anointed to be disappointed, too inspired to be tired, too joyful to be woeful, too full to be dull, too victorious for him to run over us… too saved to be swayed!!!
I declare that there is an anointing of peace, joy and contentment on my life. God is going before me to make the crooked places straight. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I will not be continually struggling. What used to be difficult, will not be difficult anymore. I will forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. I will be too strong for fear, and too happy to allow trouble to control me. God’s favor and blessings on my life, are releasing the heaviness and taking the pressure off.
I declare that I will put actions behind my faith and I will not be passive or indifferent. I will demonstrate my faith by taking bold steps to move toward what God has put in my heart. My faith will not be hidden, it will be seen. I know that God will show up and do amazing things. Life is a gift, I treasure it; Life is an adventure, I explore it; Life is a Lesson, I am learning from it; Life is a puzzle, I am solving it; Life is beautiful, I’m embracing it; Life is an opportunity, I’m taking it; Life is a gift, I’m unwrapping it. I am invigorated and strengthened with all power by Your Spirit to exercise every kind of endurance and patience, perseverance and forbearance with joy.
Thank You Lord, that you are perfecting every good work in me and bringing it to its full completion, for Your glory and honor. Today is an incredible day. Success, prosperity and abundance in many forms and ways are finding their way into my life today. I gratefully enjoy their manifestations throughout this day and happily share their blessings with many others in order that they may enjoy their benefits as well. “I am happy, I am wealthy, I am secure, I am positive, I am blessed, I am grateful, I am God’s amazing creation.
I am confident, I am courageous, I am worthy, and I am excited about God’s presence and His will being done in my life. I greet whatever awaits with vibrant faith and unending joy. I realize that at times I must forsake the comfortable and familiar, in my quest for the best, for you have made my life, an adventure of discovery and you have gone before me to prepare all my tomorrows with the blessing of new places, new things, new friends, new opportunities, and new challenges.. through Christ Jesus my Lord, amen!!!!
Exodus 4:1 (Message Bible) “Moses objected to God’s command, saying "They won't trust me. They won't listen to a word I say. They're going to say, 'God? Appear to him? Hardly!” v2 So God said, "What's that in your hand?" and Moses answered "A staff." v3 "Throw it on the ground." God said, So he threw it and it became a snake which made Moses jump back - fast! v4 God said to Moses, "Reach out and grab it by the tail." And he reached out and grabbed it - and when he did so, it became a staff again. v5 God said "That's so they will believe that God appeared to you, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." v6 God then said,"Put your hand inside your shirt." And Moses slipped his hand under his shirt, then took it out, and his hand had turned leprous, like snow. v7 And God said, "Put your hand back under your shirt." He did and when he took it back out – it was healthy as before. v8 "So if they don't trust you and aren't convinced by the first sign, the second sign should convince them.”
The Question God asked, was…..WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR HAND?
In this scripture, God is calling Moses to be the deliverer of Israel. He is 80 years old. He is a fugitive from Egypt, cut off from his inheritance, cut off from his position, and his people. He lives with his father-in-law Jethro and he is taking care of Jethro’s sheep, and he is being taken care of by Jethro. He’s a live-at-home 80 year old, son-in-law! As we are introduced to him here, he doesn’t appear to be a likely choice for the ministry God has in mind for him.
MOSES HELD HIS LIMITATIONS IN HIS HAND…..When the call of God comes, Moses gives every excuse he can think of to get out of what the Lord has for him to do.
First, He says he doesn’t feel worthy (if that’s our excuse, that’s about to change)….Next, He says he doesn’t even know God’s name, (if our excuse is we don’t know God enough, that’s about to change)…..Next, He says the people will not believe him, (if that’s our excuse, we’re about to get some new credentials)…..Next, He says that he is not good with words, (If you have said, “I don’t know what to say”, you’re about to get a new vocabulary)…..Next, he says, “Send another”, (If you have asked God to use someone else, better qualified, get ready to get qualified)….. After all the excuses, Moses sets out to do what the Lord has told him to do.
In the middle of this account, God asks Moses a very important question. That question is found in verse 2 of our text. It is that question that I want to look at today. That question, and the answer to it, has importance for all of us as well. The question is rather simple…… “What is that in Your hand?”
Moses answered, “just a rod”. All he had in his hand that day was a simple shepherd’s staff. All he had was a dry, dead stick. At least, that’s what it was to him, but in the eyes of God it was so much more than that.
I want you to see that just as God used what was in the hands of Moses for His glory, He desires to use the things we hold in our hands as well. So, let’s take a deeper look at these truths together as we examine the question “What Is That In Your Hand?”
The shepherd’s staff was used in a variety of ways by the shepherd. Sometimes it had a crook at the end, and sometimes it didn’t…It was used to guide, to lead and to protect the sheep.
It was used to support the shepherd and help him climb up and down the steep mountain places as he searched for his sheep.
It was used to defend the flock and the shepherd against the attacks of wild animals and others who would threaten the flock. Moses depended on that staff every day of his life.
The staff was connected to Moses’ identity as a shepherd. When people saw the staff in his hand, they would immediately know who he was! It was carved with symbols which told his unique story and defined him and his journey.
The staff also stated that as a herdsman, Moses did not even own the sheep that he kept. They belonged to his father-in-law Jethro. All Moses possessed was a staff. It represented his life, his identity and his livelihood.
The staff was a constant reminder that he had never reached his fullest potential in the Lord…..Forty years earlier God had strategically positioned Moses as second to Pharaoh, with great authority and power, but now Moses felt like he had wasted his opportunity. Moses had come to believe that we was worthy of being no more than a shepherd. That stick told Moses, “You are nothing but a shepherd keeping another man’s flock, when you could have had it all!”
Just like Moses, we also have some things in our hands today. Let me give you short list of some of the things we hold on to today…. Perhaps it is the past, (what could have, should have been) maybe it’s some secret, hidden sin, Perhaps it’s offences over things people have done or said to us, (that’s just another word for unforgiveness), maybe it’s the sorrows of life (that’s about living with regret over lost opportunity), Perhaps you’re holding feelings of inadequacy, (about your lack of talent, natural abilities, lack of education or training).
All of these things, identify us and to a great degree, they control our lives. We come to depend on the things we hold in our hands and we may even think they are who we are. They become an integral part of our identity. Like a shepherd leans on his staff, we lean on the things that we hold in our hands and we allow them to define our personality and control our spiritual destiny. We may even believe that those things are all we will ever be. God needed to show Moses and us as well, that we can rise above the things that we hold in our hands, that what we hold does not have to hold on to us!
…. When Moses answered the Lord’s question, it must have stabbed him through the heart. He must have remembered a time when his hands held a scepter instead of a stick. His mind must have gone back to those days in the palace in Egypt when he was being trained and educated to be a Pharaoh. He may have remembered a time when he held the world in his hand, now he has nothing but a dry, dead stick. (it all looked so final, this was now his life he thought, accept it, learn to live with it)
MOSES HELD HIS OWN SOLUTION IN HIS HANDS You see, God was not asking for information. God was asking for permission. Because the thing Moses was holding was also holding him back, and keeping him in a place far less that God intended! The rod reminded Moses that his life was filled with vast potential at one time, but that now, he was merely a has been, a washed up nobody on the back side of the desert.
You see, our sins, our past, our hurts, our failings and our offences all have the ability to define us and impact who we are and how we relate to the world around us. They even determine how we serve the Lord. If I allow the negative aspects of my life to control me, then I will stand in the way of His will being done in my life.
I would remind you that we are to be controlled by nothing and no one, but the Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. v2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”.
Is there some attitude, some activity, some action, or reaction, that is defining our life? The thing that should identify the child of God is “Christlikeness”, Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will complete it until we stand before Jesus Christ”. Paul could say, “For to me to live is Christ...” What do we live for? Whatever we live for, reveals our personality. Whatever it may be, it controls our life! What is it that is controlling our lives? Some people can’t even enter into real praise and worship because they are filled with offences over something someone said or did to them and their spirit is closed. Some people won’t serve the Lord because everything hasn’t gone their way, so they’re pouting. (I remember we had two ladies who sat on opposite sides of the church, so they wouldn’t have to be near one another, another two sisters, had a line drawn down the middle of their house separating what was theirs….but they wouldn’t miss a church service! (There’s some messed up people in churches too…and what better place for them to be)
Some people are hindered by their sins and some by their self-righteousness and they are hindered because they are filled with pride over their abilities and their accomplishments (they’re spirit’s are shriveled up). They don’t even recognize the fact that their achievements have become what they’re leaning on in their lives, and what is defining and identifying them, like Moses and his stick. “What is that in your hand?” God is asking….
.MOSES HELD HIS OWN POTENTIAL IN HIS HAND …When Moses objects to God’s call on his life, God uses a series of miracles to teach Moses the truth that He will be with him into Egypt and that Jehovah will work through him.
Moses is commanded to take the rod and “cast it on the ground” and it turns into a serpent. Then Moses runs from the serpent (oh, great man of faith and power). This not an ordinary garden variety snake, but it was a cobra, a 6 to 10 foot cobra!!!. Cobras were worshiped as gods by the Egyptians. Pharaoh even wore a golden cobra around his neck. Seeing Moses take a stick and turn it into a cobra would be a real attention getter, to both the Israelites and the Egyptians. It would tell the Egyptians that their great God was subject to an outcast and exile such as Moses, who claimed to represent the God who was more powerful than the gods the Egyptians worshiped.
Then Moses was told to pick it up by the tail, and when he did, (very carefully and fearfully) it turned back into a rod again… Notice that Moses wasn’t a person of great faith at this point, and he was struggling with the fact that God could actually use him!
Sometimes the miracles aren’t because you have such great faith, but they are because you need to believe and build your faith! These miracles were designed to confirm, to comfort and to build Moses faith and teach him and Israel that he is indeed a man sent from the Lord.
To Moses that staff was just a tool, a weapon, a necessary part of his life. In his hand, it helped support him. It helped protect and guide his flocks. It helped him in many ways every day. But, in his own hands, doing his own thing, it was still just a dead, dry stick…..
HOWEVER, When that stick was given over and surrendered to the Lord, it became something much more than it appeared to be in the physical realm. It became a thing of power that God used to defeat Israel’s enemies and bring Glory to Him. God took that insignificant thing….a stick, and worked wonders and miracles with it.
It was used to confront the Egyptian soothsayers – Exodus 7:12.
It was used to turn the waters of Egypt to blood – 7:17.
It was used to bring forth the plague of frogs – 8:5.
It was used to bring forth the plague of lice – 8:16.
It was used to bring forth the plague of thunder and hail – 9:23.
It was used to call and east wind that blew in the plague of locusts – 10:13.
It was used to part the Red Sea – 14:16.
It was used to cause the Red Sea to come together again, drowning Pharaoh and his army – 14:27.
It was used to bring water from a rock in the desert – 17:5.
It was used to bring victory over the Amalekites – 17:9.
In Exodus 4:4, Moses was commanded to “put forth your hand, and take the snake by the tail”. When Moses obeyed, the serpent became a dead stick once more. But, I guarantee you that Moses never looked at that stick the same way again, and I guarantee you that when we give all that’s in our hands to God, we will never look at it the same either!
God took that weak, powerless, dead, dry stick and used it in a mighty way, simply because Moses yielded it to the Lord. Had it remained in Moses’ control, it would have held no power for God, but it would have continued to rule over his life and tie him to his past. Because Moses yielded to the Lord, he was freed from its power over him and he was free to use its power for the glory of God.
Whatever the rod is that we hold in our hands today, if it is not yielded to the Lord, it is a hindrance in our lives! It holds us back from being everything we could be for the Lord. Not only does it hold us back, but it also affects everyone around us! It affects our families. It affects our church. It affects everything we touch in our lives and everything that touches us.
The sin, disobedience and rebellion which we refuse to abandon to the grace of God is a dead stick in our hands but when we give it up to God in confession and repentance, it becomes an opportunity for Him to display His grace, His forgiveness, His restoration and His transforming power.
Holding on to offences over past wrongs we may have suffered, is a dead stick in our hands, which is constantly beating us, but when we bring it to God, He is able to transform it and restore us into the place of His blessing……That spirit of abandonment that may causes a lack of trust, so that you look for the worst in everyone and in everything, is a dead stick in your hand; but when you bring it to the Lord, He is able to pour in His Agape, healing love and give His perspective on people and events. He is able to bring His people out of that bondage into glorious new life!!
The sorrow, regret and fatalism, that has been allowed to shape lives and steal their joy is a dead stick in our hands, but as we bring it to God, He will teach you that He has a purpose even in the pain, and He will turn the irritating thing into a thing of beauty. The test becomes our testimony, the wound becomes a wonder, The disaster becomes a deliverance, and the problem becomes a pearl of priceless beauty!
Romans 8:28 “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”.
Everything we continue to clutch tightly in our hands is a burden and a problem. They can hinder our lives, our walk with God, our family and our church. But when we open our hands in the posture of praise, worship and surrender, and yield them up to the Lord, He is able to release its full and glorious potential for blessing in our lives.
Sometimes we wonder why God isn’t working in the church and saving souls like we think He should be. It may be that there are some dead sticks that need to be surrendered to the Lord and it is hindering an atmosphere of praise and worship and surrender to His greater plan and His love.
Moses had been carrying around that dead stick for forty years. In all that time, he had used that stick, but that stick had ruled over his identity. That stick limited him. That stick controlled his life. That stick said, “All you will ever be is a shepherd keeping another man’s sheep”. That stick was only bondage for Moses and he didn’t even realize it. He believed that it was part of who he was and would always be. Moses never knew, until he yielded that stick to God, that the stick he held in his hand was the key to God’s power in his life when God’s power flowed through it.
Moses yielded the stick he carried that day to the Lord. When he did, he was released from its power. When he did, it ceased to define who he was. When he did, it became the instrument of the power of God in his life.
God is still asking His chosen today, “What is that in your hand?” what do you carry today? What defines you? What are you holding on to that holds you back and keeps you from being everything God redeemed you to be?
What is it that needs to be laid down? Is there some event from your past, some hurt, some sorrow, some bitterness, that still rises up, even today? Is there something in your life that just feels like it’s holding you down, holding you back and putting limits on your life?
We all must answer the question, “What is in your hand?” And when we do, we will be free from its pull and from its influence. When we throw it down and let God have it, we will be able to pick it up, redeemed and transformed. When you hold it, it is a liability. When you give it to Him, it becomes a spiritual asset!
Life is either about the dead sticks we identify with or a powerful, transforming Lord who gives us a new identity.
Bring what you hold in your hands and cast it down before Him. Let Him take that liability and turn it into a powerful asset for His glory.
Whatever the stick is that you’re holding on to, throw it down, so God can do His supernatural work and cause it to become His tool in our hands. As we lay down what is in our hands, we release ourselves from the things that use to define us, and limit us….Let’s cast them down before Him….as we take up the cup of the new covenant and the bread of Divine provision…. In it’s place….
We surrender whatever was identifying us, and we receive our new identity in Christ ….
We declare that in His strength and in His anointing, we rise up, above the limits of the flesh and mount up with wings as eagles….we shall run and not be weary, we shall walk and not faint….
Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hidden in a field; the which when a man has found it, he hides it, and for joy goes and sells all that he has in order to buy that field. v45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: v46 Who, when he finds one pearl of great price, goes out and sells all that he has, and buys it”.
This scripture describes a precious pearl, called the pearl of great price. One day Cleopatra invited Mark Anthony to come down to Egypt and she held a banquet which in today's economy would cost about $400,000, just for this one meal, of course the meal sometimes would last for days. At the banquet she was wearing costly pearl earrings she had purchased. These were the two greatest pearls in the world at that time, in today's currency, each one would be worth a quarter of a million dollars.
During the banquet she took one of the pearl earrings off, which was a signal to the servants to bring her a golden bowl containing vinegar, which she dropped the pearl into and of course as all natural pearls would do, it began to dissolve. Then she drank the contents. She took the other pearl off and another servant came with another little container of vinegar and before she could drop it in, one of her generals snatched it away from her and said, "You can't do that. That's too much value to just waste so you can show your wealth." But that's how extravagant Cleopatra was.
This was the very costly pearl that Jesus had in mind in the bible parable, when Jesus told this story in Matthew 13 of the pearl of great price.
There are many lessons we can all learn from this pearl today and In this little parable Jesus outlined several secrets of success.
The first principle is that we must be willing to give all we have, to purchase the pearl of great price. Life is short and we only have a limited amount of time and opportunity to make a lasting mark on our generation. We want to do our very best, to achieve that goal and we can’t ever be satisfied with anything less than having this priceless pearl in our life.
A man bought a painting for $25.00, another man offered him a thousand dollars and he took it, only to find out that it was worth 20 million dollars! One understood the value and the other did not! Oh that people would understand what God is offering them before it’s too late…..
We all have some lofty goals that are beyond where we are, what we have and who we are today. God’s plan for us is certainly more than just going along every day, trying to make it through another day. If you're in school you want to get the best grades you can possibly get. You want to excel, and not just to get an 'a' in your teacher's book but excel to get an “a” on God's report card. We all want to make something out of our life as we stand on the shoulders and the sacrifices of those who have come before us.
The Second principle is….Have a definite purpose in life.
The Greek word for 'merchant' means a traveling wholesaler who is traveling throughout the world to seek the premium products that the world has to offer. So that he can have the best merchandise to sell. He's looking for the best pearls of value, not because he wants them just for himself, but to have them for his clients. Pearls are valued for their size, their shape and their luster. Those three things are what the merchant is looking for that causes the pearl to have value.
A person without purpose in this life cannot find real value. Without clear goals, you become restless and despondent. If you want to be successful you've got to have clear goals, because the true measure of a person is how high their ideals are.
If you're going to climb a tree, you've got to reach for the strong branches that will hold you up and don’t just grab for the pretty blossoms. I think too many of us are just reaching for the blossoms of life that fade and fall off so quickly. We must go for the solid and reliable principles and values that will stay firm and steady as we move toward our goals.
Following the path of least resistance, which is often what people do, is what makes crooked rivers and crooked people. Set a goal in your life. Chart the course and hold yourself to it and you will succeed. Have a purpose, and God will empower you to fulfill that purpose in your life. God will do in and through you that which you cannot do for yourself alone.
There is enough energy from the sun, on each acre of land in the United States that you could melt rocks that lie underneath the soil. So have you ever been walking along and noticed the rocks have melted? No….There is more than enough energy to do it but the energy is not focused and concentrated on one area. Likewise, If you were to focus your faith through the power of the Spirit within you, there is nothing that you can't accomplish with God. You can do it through his power.
The Third principle is, Commit yourself to high standards. Scripture tells us that if we judge ourselves, then others won’t have to judge us…The merchant in our scripture text, had the highest standards and wouldn’t settle for less than the best. The Greek word used here indicates that he was seeking pearls of excellence. He wanted the best pearls that money could buy. Seeking the biggest and the best is good when the things of God, are your pearl. We have before us a constant choice between the high road of surrender, or the low road of compromise…
The Fourth Principle is… Recognize true value and don’t be deceived by counterfeits. So many people will say “ When I bought that, I thought it was of better quality than it was”, or when I married him, or I married her, I thought they were different... Well, they didn’t have a correct sense of value. Good judgment, the right principles and using God’s word to measure everything along with good counsel, is how you get there.
While Satan is diminishing you, with “you’ll never do it”. “It’s way out of your league”, “you’ve set the bar too high”… The spirit of Christ, is raising your value with, “You are more than a conqueror”, “I will give you the desires of your heart”…. “Believe and you shall see”…. “Tell your mountains to move”!
God will give you the desires of your heart but you need to surround yourself with Godly, proven, time tested counsel and through these, God will help you to make wise and proper decisions in life.
All too often we conclude that something is valuable simply because so many people are chasing after it to get it. I've got to get me a pair of those boots. I've got to get me one of those electronic devices, because everybody's getting it. I've got to have a new body, and you get it and you’re still not happy because there was no change in character, outlook, personality and standards. Shoot for just anything and you’ll hit it every time…The crowd does not set your values. Your values are set by a higher standard that comes out of heaven, not from earth.
If you’ve ever fed chickens, you will understand this analogy… If you place a pile of scraps in an area, then call the chickens, and as they come running, begin to throw scraps of food in front of them, when a chicken grabs one of those big pieces and goes running off, A dozen others will go running after that chicken and they will leave a whole pile of food as they go chasing after that one scrap. Don't get caught up in the chicken chase. The chicken philosophy of life will limit you to what the other chickens have or what they do. We also know it as the rat race…
A proper sense of value chooses things, not because of the popularity, but because of their true worth. Be sure you’re not doing or wanting something, just because everybody else is doing it or wanting it.
Number five. Have a sacrificial spirit. If you're going to be able to do life well, you will need to sacrifice some things for something better. You've got to make time in your life and schedule, for what is really worth doing, not just what gratifies you at the time. Sometimes, you've got to lay everything else aside to accomplish something of greater priority. Learn to get to the bottom line. The merchant in our scripture went home after he saw those pearls and he sold all the things that he owned that were of lesser value, to have what was of greater value. He was willing to sacrifice the whole 9 yards to get what he wanted.
You've got to be willing to let go of some things that are unprofitable, to get other things that are good and profitable. We all have things which give us comfort and stroke our ego, but they do us no spiritual good. There are even things we hang onto because we don’t want to take the risk or because they actually have control of us. So often, the critical issue is not how much we own, but how much owns us!
Just remember, that it is because an oyster remains faithful through the thing that is irritating and uncomfortable to it, is what produces a pearl! The greater the irritation, the larger and more valuable the pearl that is produced! The best pearls are not cheap.
The largest pearl in the world is 9.45 inches in diameter. It weighs 14.1 pounds. It was found in 1934 and was found inside of a giant clam and the value today is $60 million. It’s one of a kind. (that was some irritation!)
A sacrificial spirit means that you are seeking an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and you are willing to do whatever is required to establish that in your life. You're willing to make time for Bible study by turning off something, shoving aside something that is cluttering up your schedule and taking away from your time to pray and give time to your relationship with God. God's pearl will never cost you less than all you have and you will never hold title to it unless you are willing to give up whatever has become too important or of greater value to you than having it.
Why do we hold on so tight to our money, when God says give? Why do we hold on so tight to this world's goods, when God says it’s become too important? Why do we give so little of our means when He gave so largely and generously of His, and at the same time we claim that we want to follow Him and know Him better?
Matthew 13:45 is challenging all of us to experience a paradigm shift in our understanding. Matthew 13:45 says the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for pearls. This does not say the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl, it says the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking a pearl. In God’s grand purpose, the two objects…the merchant and the pearl become merged together…..in the kingdom of heaven….
We need to see that this parable has a dual application, as we think of Jesus as the merchant, then the parable is not just a picture of a sinner seeking Christ. It is a picture of Christ seeking the sinner.
Luke 19:10 says the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost and we are the pearl that Jesus is seeking. In the Greek, the word used here for 'seek' is (poon-than'-om-ahee, means “a quest, to leave one place and come to another place”. Jesus left heaven and came down here to this sin cursed world to gather up His pearls. We are the pearl of great price that Jesus to seek and find and He won’t stop until He has you.
Even in our failings and short comings, Jesus sees value in us. You may say well I'm ugly, this is wrong with me, that's wrong with me. But, Jesus sees the value in every one of us.
Zechariah 9:16 “And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people: for they shall be as precious jewels in the Master’s crown, lifted up as an ensign (naw-sas…a beacon, a search light, or a signal light) upon his land”. “Ensign” also has the meaning of a banner under which people can march together.
On October 13th, 2010 in Copiapo Chili, thirty three miners were brought safely to the surface and were rescued, after being trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days. Almost $1 million dollars per person was spent in that effort. Was it worth it? They were willing to spend $1 million each to rescue miners down in some dark mine, because they felt that these were of great value to their families, friends and country. Those miners who found themselves in that terrible condition, came out spiritually renewed. Folks came together to rescue those pearls. If people were willing to go to such lengths, think of what God is willing to do!
Jesus is the seeker who is bringing together every resource He has to purchase His pearls. We are the ones down in the mine. We are helpless. And in spite of our situation and circumstances in this world we are precious in the sight of God.
The most valuable pearls are found in the deepest depths of the sea, and they begin as an irritation in the oyster. A little grain of sand irritates the oyster and the oyster secretes a calcium substance to coat the irritation, a pearl is produced as a result of suffering and from much suffering an object of beauty and value is formed. As the little grain of sand in the oyster is ultimately clothed with a beauty not of it’s own.
The pearl is created from within a living organism. That makes it unlike any other jewel in the world today. A diamond is basically a human invention and most of us would not recognize a diamond in the rough. We take a stone we chisel it just right and we create it’s lovely facets… our value is not of human origin, but from the hands of God. It is God‘s love that has brought value into our lives. We are not the product of evolution or the rise of the fittest over the weakest.
The oyster lives in the unclean dirty depths of the sea. It lives among the scavengers. In the Bible the sea represents people. Like oysters, sinners are taken out of the depths of this unclean, wicked world and if you think about it, all the poisons in the ocean and heavy metals sink to the bottom and clams and oysters live and feed there. That's where the pearl comes from, where all that wicked, yucky stuff is on the bottom. That's how far Christ has searched as He dredges His people up out of the pit where we were trapped as captives. Our environment doesn’t have to determine our value!
Have you ever seen a pretty oyster? I’ve looked at some new born babies, and wondered how something so beautiful could be produced by two people that were so ugly! Aren’t you glad Jesus looks at inner beauty!!! Not one thing about us is beautiful in ourselves, but like an oyster diver, Jesus descended into the depths of sin in search of something of eternal value and when he finds it he brings it up because He sees the inner beauty that is being formed within you.
Our highest purpose is to showcase Jesus Himself, because it is said that pearls enhance the beauty, wisdom and importance of the owner. Well, we're the pearls and we're here to glorify, magnify and honor our owner, Jesus Christ. He has invested all He is and all He has to redeem us.
What is the part the pearl plays in all of this? Our part is to receive the covering which pours forth in order to turn the irritating thing into a thing of beauty. The test becomes our testimony, the wound becomes a wonder, The disaster becomes a deliverance, and the problem becomes a pearl!
We need to carefully choose what we treasure…There was a T-shirt with this message: If they don't have chocolate in heaven, I ain't going!.... Perhaps that was written to over-state a point, or simply for the sake of humor. But it illustrates what the Lord is talking about - that what we treasure has great power over us. Our heart ought to be controlled by heavenly treasures - which cannot be touched by the moth, the rust or the thief who breaks in to steal!
A pearl isn't much underneath the shiny surface. If you hit a pearl with a hammer you end up with a pile of lime-like chalk and it looks like white dust. It's only the covering that makes the pearl valuable. And what makes us valuable, is our God provided, God given covering.If you're covered with the robe of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, you're valuable, you’re eternal and you're priceless. In a real sense, we are the pearl of great price.
In Eden God covered man's nakedness, and at Calvary God covered man's sin. In both cases something innocent died to cover someone that was guilty. We can never afford the price that covers our ugliness. All we have to give is filthy rags in exchange for a robe of righteousness and that's all He asks of us….to come under His covering. To give up the filthy rags and receive His covering that will make you a priceless pearl, and a thing of beauty. It will make you into one of His precious jewels. Never underestimate or forget your value.
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? v32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Jesus loves us because He sees in us a pearl that heaven was willing to give something priceless to salvage and put on display before the world.. May He be the thrill of your soul. May He be jewel of your life and may you sparkle in His kingdom.
When rare pearls go on the market, they become valued at what someone is willing to pay for them. Our value is not in a lot of things we might claim, things we own, which would make us worth anything…. But we are worth what someone is willing to pay for us….and Jesus out bid everyone and gave something priceless in order to give us value, for He gave his life and that makes us the most valuable thing He ever created. None of us are all that we could ever be at this very moment, but we can be glad that our Lord, allows us to have do-overs, second chances, and a complete make-over.
As Christians we should subscribe to 10 values which should define us that we can all endorse and pass on to others….Because truth will always remain as truth….
First, Change yourself. “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take as a result. So, the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can now allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe couldn’t even imagine– while stuck in your old patterns.
Second, You are in control of your choices. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” What you feel and how you react to something is always up to you. You can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to everything that intersects with your life. And as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a way of dealing with your world. When you truly understand this, life will be a whole lot easier and a lot more pleasurable.
Third, Forgive and let it go. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Spending your time rehashing and reviewing some negative memory won’t help you after you have learned the lessons you can learn from that experience. Learn it and move on! If you don’t forgive then you letting the past control how you feel, how you perceive things and how you act it out. By forgiving, you are declaring your freedom! Declare that your past has an expiration date! That’s the power of redemption!
Fourth, Without action you aren’t going anywhere. It’s suprising how much our old habits will fight any new action. Breaking old patterns will require dogged determination before they become automatic…I challenge all of us to start some new patterns of praise and worship, of practicing the word concerning healing, witnessing, giving and developing new skills and talents. There will be some inner resistance from the way it’s always been, but it will be worth it in the end. So, often we have really good intentions, with no follow up…
Number Five, Take care of this moment of time you are in. I do not always need to insist on knowing the future before I act. I need to be concerned with taking care of the present to the best of my abilities. God has given me no control over the moment following the moment I am in. The best way to overcome the inner resistance that often stops us from taking action, is to stay in the present as much as possible and to accept that we are there to make a difference and to transform what is, into what God has planned as our appointed outcome. When a person enters AA, they learn to tell themselves that they can stay sober for the next 5 minutes. That 5 minutes turns into weeks, months and years of sobriety.
So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has greatness in them, and everyone has a mission and purpose to fulfill. The ground is level at the cross and the upper room. We are here to help one another connect with that greatness of His Divine purpose.
Sixth, Be Persistent… You know that Satan is going to use intimidation, opposition and things near to your heart to fight you if he see that you are gaining ground, but keep receiving and applying the Lord’s covering, and you will win.” In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. Your inner resistance and self-destructive tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you the way you have always been, will grow weaker and be broken off.
Seventh, See the good in people and help them. “Look only to the good qualities of those you interact with, realizing that we are all developing and evolving. “We become great to the exact degree in which we work for the welfare and the betterment of those that intersect with our lives.”
Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help others also. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows, expands and becomes stronger. The Lord said that the greatest among us are those who serve others.
Eighth, Be authentic to your true self. Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do, all come into harmony. You are an original, be the best you that is possible, not a copy of someone else! People seem to really like authentic people. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself. When these things are in alignment, people tend to really listen to what you’re saying. It has been said by many… “I can’t hear a thing you’re saying because of your actions”!
Ninth, Never stop growing and evolving. ”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his rigid dogmas in order to appear consistent, righteous or holy, puts himself in a tower that no one can measure up to.” Too many folks talk about things but never do anything to make it happen…stop waiting for something to happen and start where you are to make something happen….start a prayer group, start a witnessing team, start a hospital or convalescent home visitation team, the prisons need ministry, folks need transportation to shopping and church…..be that person and keep growing and evolving…..
Tenth, Re-evaluate your evaluations, time changes things, conditions change people change, and you have changed, so revisit your conclusions and maybe you’ll find they don’t fit anymore. What couldn’t happen before can happen now. What you couldn’t do before, you can do now!
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “tells us that He makes all things beautiful in His time!” I believe this is your time, you’ve never been here before…what couldn’t happen before can happen now…what you couldn’t do before, you can do now…
I close today with a scripture from Hebrews….
Hebrews 2:5 “For unto none of the angels did He put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. v6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that You are mindful of him? or the son of man, that You visit him? v7 You made him a little lower than the angels. You crowned him with glory and honor, and You set him over the works of Your hands. v8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that You put all in subjection under him, You left nothing that is not put under him”.