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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS) (con’t)

This is my last message/post on the topic of being STUCK!  These messages were/will be preached at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).  How do we Jesus-followers sometimes get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS?

The reality is we are simply not like the Lord Jesus who was a friend of sinners.  Let’s admit it. We’d rather spend our time with fellow-believers than reach out to the lost.

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Both Jesus and John the Baptist were mocked by their contemporary culture.  John the Baptist was thought to be demonized because of his austere lifestyle. Jesus was charged with being a glutton and a drunkard because of His indulgence in food and drink.  Both austerity and enjoyment were areas of judgment for Jesus’ culture.  Jesus was neither a glutton nor a drunkard, but His social interaction with “sinners” opened Him up to such accusations.

I want to be like Jesus.  I want to be a friend of sinners.  If that is true, what steps must I take to get more like Jesus, to get unSTUCK in this area?  Please write out one step you will take in this area in the comment section below.  And thank you for sticking with me in this series!


 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS!)

If you have stayed with me through this series of posts, THANK YOU!   We’ve been thinking about areas in which the Jesus-follower gets STUCK!  Most of these messages were (or will be) delivered at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).

The last area we want to consider is SINNERS!  We get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS!  What are we to do with “them”?  Are we to hang around them?  Avoid them?  Become like them?

This topic of our relationship to SINNERS has become a passion for me.  I’m a SINNER.  How about you?  Someone reached out to me with the gospel.  How dare I spend all my time with fellow-believers, eating only Christian cookies, listening only to Christian music, and going only to Christian meetings?  How dare I?

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

There is so much in this passage that we are going to take several posts to ponder it.  Please notice that Jesus is rendering a judgment on His generation.  He compares them to children singing mocking songs in the marketplace about Himself and John the Baptist.  “You’re like a bunch of kids pouting because we aren’t behaving the way you want us too!”, Jesus seems to be saying.  These “children” are inviting other like-minded kids to join them in their mockery and derision. What are they so hyped about?

The answer is that they didn’t care for the way either John the Baptist or Jesus lived among them.  And their only response is ridicule and mockery.  John the Baptist and Jesus didn’t dance to their tunes or mourn with their dirges.  And that ticked them off!  (to be continued) 

 

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #9- SOLITUDE) (con’t)

In this ninth area of STUCKNESS, we are thinking about our need for the spiritual disciplines which will help us grow.  For some of us, we give precious little time to the area of SOLITUDE.  Alone time with the Lord is really important.  He can speak to us when we are quiet and just with Him.

I’ll admit — as an introvert I really like the idea of SOLITUDE.  Just give me my dog, my laptop, and a good cup of Starbucks (and occasional visits from my wife Linda), and I’m pretty happy.

But SOLITUDE is only one of the dozen spiritual disciplines that I need in my life.  We mentioned the others in our last post (the inward disciplines are: meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. The outward disciplines are: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. The corporate disciplines are: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration). Which of those practices do you find easier to incorporate into your busy life?  Which seem impossible?

Our text for this area of STUCKNESS is Mark 6:30-34 where we read,

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Doing and saying are important in the Christian life, but so are resting and eating!  Jesus invited His disciples to “come with me.”  They didn’t need to escape Him, but the crowds.  “Come with me by yourselves” — This was not an evangelistic invitation to bring others along. This invitation was strictly for Jesus’ disciples.  “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place.”  We underestimate how much our souls need quiet, don’t we?  “… and get some rest.”  Soul-rest is hard to see but spiritually lethal when it is missing.  This reminds me of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  How’s your rest going?

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #9- SOLITUDE)

My daughter Amy and I are introverts.  We don’t care for crowds; we like our SOLITUDE.  In fact, she says she going to get me a t-shirt that says, “Introverts Unite!  By yourselves!  Alone!  At home!”  (I’d wear that t-shirt!).

In an extroverted world, we introverts are often thought anti-social (and we pretty much are).  How do Christians get STUCK in SOLITUDE?

What we are thinking of are the Christian disciplines that ought to mark healthy, Jesus-following lives.  SOLITUDE is one of those practices that can draw us closer to Jesus.

The classic treatment of the spiritual disciplines is the work done by Richard Foster in his Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (Harper, 1998).  He divides the disciplines into three categories.  The inward disciplines are:  meditation, prayer, fasting, and study.  The outward disciplines are: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service.  The corporate disciplines are:  confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.  You won’t agree with all that Foster says about these practices, but each has biblical support and is valuable for the believer who doesn’t want to get STUCK!

Our text for this area of STUCKNESS is Mark 6:30-34 where we read,

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Let’s think about this passage for a moment.  Note that the apostles had been quite busy doing what Jesus had commanded and teaching others. They were so busy in fact that they did not have time to eat.  Jesus invites His disciples to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (v. 31).  They needed SOLITUDE.  They needed rest.  They needed to be away from the crowds.  Jesus’ invitation to His followers is refreshing.  He knows our frame, our weaknesses, our need for quiet and rest.  Just being alone — with Him.  Have you tried that lately?  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #8- SERMONS!) (con’t)

Is preaching passé?  Some would say that SERMONS are no longer needed by the saints.

Bible studies, discussion groups, casual conversations are all well and good — but we need the authoritative proclamation of God’s Word!  The saints should be committed to good SERMONS, but sometimes we get STUCK!

We get STUCK with poor preaching, with inadequate study, with irrelevant sermonizing.  [I’ve put together some suggestions for improving one’s preaching in my small booklet “Ten Specific Steps You Can Take To Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!”  Just send me your email address and I will send you that pdf.]

Let’s think a bit more about our text from Acts 17:

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

Paul and Silas preached in the synagogue!  They preached Jesus and gave evidence that He, indeed, was the promised Messiah.  We often confine our preaching to our churches, to our turf.  How about proclaiming the good news about Jesus in other forums?

There is one other point that this text is making that we dare not miss.  We don’t get even a hint that Paul objects to the Bereans’ examining the Scriptures to see if what he said was true!  He was not afraid of his message being biblically evaluated.  And we should not fear that either.  It is a noble act for others to compare what we say (even in the context of a sermon delivered from a podium at the front of the church) with the rest of the Word of God.  And that will keep us preachers from getting STUCK in our own opinions!

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #7- SUCCESS!)

“I’ve had great success being a total idiot,” Jerry Lewis once said.  This ground-breaking comedian and philanthropist died this week at the age of 91.  Sometimes SUCCESS becomes a kind of quicksand for the Christian.

I will deliver a message on SUCCESS to the saints at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, GA (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com) on September 24, my last Sunday with those friends.

Jesus-followers gravitate from a kind of prosperity theology that says God always wants us wealthy, healthy, and successful to a kind of poverty theology that says we are to suffer for Jesus, live austere lives, and eat only locusts and wild honey.   Both theologies are wrong.  Should the follower of Jesus seek SUCCESS — and what kind of SUCCESS ought he or she to pursue?

Of the 51 uses of the word “success” in the Bible, all of them are in the Old Testament!  There is not one occurrence of that word in the New Testament.  The idea of being successful is there in the New Testament (in verses such as Phil. 4:13, Mt. 16:26-27, Lk. 16:10-11, Rom. 12:2), but the emphasis seems to be more on faithfulness and rewards for living life for Jesus.  In the Old Testament, many of the uses of “success” have to do with military victories (such as I Sam. 18:5, 14; I Chron. 12:18; 2 Chron. 26:5).

Here is the main text we want to look at:

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5)

How does this text relate to SUCCESS?, you might ask.  SUCCESS in life will be judged by the Lord Jesus at “the judgment seat of Christ.”  The Apostle Paul makes it quite clear that there are only two states of existence for the believer:  either “at home in the body [and] away from the Lord” or “away from the body and at home with the Lord.”  We are presently “away from the Lord,” seeking to please Him with our lives, striving to live by faith and not by sight.  SUCCESS is striving to please Him whether at home in the body or away from it!  How are you trying to please the Lord today?  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #6- SHARING) (con’t)

Most of us Jesus-followers get STUCK when it comes to SHARING our faith with others!  These messages are being delivered to the saints at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, GA (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).  My tenure there as preaching pastor will end on Sept. 24 (sniff).

In the issue of SHARING our faith with others, we need to focus on having conversations (not necessarily conversions) with others and show that we are open to listening to their stories.  The text we have been looking at is I Peter 3 which says:

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

It’s a whole lot easier to SHARE our faith when we are asked about it!  And the questions that ought to come up (according to this text) would something like:  “How can you suffer so patiently?”  “Why aren’t you afraid of being harmed by others?”  “Where in the world do you get your hope?”  “I’ve heard rumors that you are misbehaving.  Are they true?”

Our lives ought to provoke questions!  If we are not provoking questions and stimulating curiosity, it might be argued that we are not sufficiently living Christian lives!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in christian growth

 

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