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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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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 6)

I John 3:26 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”  Jesus-followers are to strive everyday to become more like their Lord.  But we have failed to be like Jesus in one crucial area — being a friend of sinners.  We read in Matthew 11:

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.”

To the three charges leveled at Jesus — being a glutton, a drunkard, and a friend of sinners — I believe Jesus would have replied, “Not guilty.  Not guilty.  GUILTY!”  We saw that one of the most famous teachings of Jesus, the story of the prodigal son, was given because “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Lk. 15:2).  I copied and pasted my understanding of Luke 15 in our previous post.

Let’s be honest — We followers of Jesus are NOT friends of sinners.  We sometimes are hardly friends of each other.  All of us could use a primer in basic friendship, but we are desperately in need of the challenge to be like Jesus and to develop friendships with those who need Him!

There are a variety of EXCUSES which we Jesus-followers give for not being like Him in this area.  Some which occur to me — and which we will discuss in subsequent posts — are the tyranny of time, the fear of compromise, the curse of criticism, no interest in listening, etc.  We’re going to grind away at this one topic:  our absolute need to develop serious, strategic, sincere relationships with lost people.  You will be tempted to abandon this blog, but I plead with you to stick with me.  This really is important.  (to be continued) 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel! (Part 4)

We read about an area in which Jesus-followers ought to follow Jesus in Matthew 11:

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.”

John the Baptist was considered demonized for his frugality.  Jesus was thought to be a glutton and a drunkard for His indulging in food and drink.  But the charges against the Messiah go beyond His appetite.  He is also criticized for the company He kept.

“The Son of Man [is] a friend of tax collectors and sinners,” they say.  We will notice in subsequent posts the truth of this charge.  He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners.  The charges against Jesus were partially true.

If He had been put on trial for these three charges — gluttony, drunkenness, and consorting with sinners — I believe Jesus would have said to the first two charges “NOT GUILTY!  I have never eaten to excess or over-indulged in my drinking.”  But to the third charge, I believe the Lord would say, “GUILTY!  AND PROUD OF IT!”  (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel! (Part 3)

We are focusing in this series of posts on our failure to truly follow Jesus in one specific area.  We read about that area in Matthew 11:

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.”

Jesus’ contemporary culture was acting like a bunch of children.  Both He and John the Baptist were being mocked for not dancing to their music.  Neither in joy nor sorrow did these two religious leaders measure up, conform to, what was appropriate and expected.

John the Baptist’s frugality was met with the charge that he was demon-possessed!  That’s an incredibly serious accusation for someone living an abnormal lifestyle.  John did not calibrate his life around his appetites.  And he was thought to be ruled by the devil!

But Jesus goes on and speaks about how He was criticized.  He says, “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.'”  Jesus’ indulgence seems to be the focus here.  He speaks of Himself as coming “eating and drinking.”  Jesus fully participated in His social surroundings.  He did not stand off to the side or on a holy hill condemning His contemporaries.  He joined them!

And that opened Him up to the double charge that He was a glutton and a drunkard!  Whereas the criticism of John the Baptist was about what he gave up, the criticism of Jesus was about what He enjoyed!  John’s lifestyle was extreme, counter-cultural.  Jesus’ lifestyle was normal, but exposed Him to the charge of excess. (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel! (Part 2)

Jesus followers fail to follow Him in many ways.  But one way that seems to receive little attention in Christian circles is brought out in Matthew 11:16-19.  There 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.”

In evaluating His contemporary culture, Jesus says they are a lot like children hanging out in the marketplaces engaged in mocking and ridicule.  They call out to their friends, “We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.”

They are critical of both John the Baptist and Jesus.  Both did not meet their expectations.  Neither was joyful or mournful when they thought appropriate.  Both the forerunner of the Messiah and the Messiah Himself didn’t dance to their music.

Jesus goes on to say, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.'”  John’s frugal lifestyle matched his in-your-face message of “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  We read in Matthew 3: “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.”  John wasn’t into fashion or food.  He wore the least expensive clothing one could find — and ate whatever he could gather for himself.  He placed no priority on the expectations of others.  What did he get for his bizarre lifestyle?  He was accused of having a demon!  Wow!  He did not “fit in.”  He did not try to.  He was laser-focused on proclaiming the message of repentance and getting ready for the coming Messiah.  (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel! (Part 1)

In this new series of posts, I want to investigate one specific area where we Jesus-followers aren’t following Jesus as we should.  Of course, we fail in many ways to be like our Lord, but there is one particular area that I’m convinced we’re missing.  And we (and the church) are worse off because of our oversight.

That area is . . . being a friend of sinners as Jesus was.   We read in Matthew 11:

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 need to examine.  The Lord Jesus is giving His evaluation of His contemporary culture and He says that it is like a bunch of children pouting!  They are upset, He says, because He (and John the Baptist — the “you” of verse 17 is plural) aren’t dancing to the tunes they are playing.  He is neither dancing to nor mourning because of their music — and they are upset with Him.  Their vocal mockery and taunting highlight the fact that Jesus is living out His life to the music of another Singer.  And this did not please them. (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in discipleship

 

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