Tag Archives: obedience
Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 3)
Today’s Challenge: As we will see this story has many spiritual implications. The clear one today is to immediately do what Jesus asks us to do. What has He asked you to do? Then, by God’s grace, do it!
This video message was preached to the believers at Kenilworth Gospel Chapel on Sunday, September 6, 2020. Comments welcome!
As my friend Frank and I are working our way through I Peter, I couldn’t help but notice the very practical instructions that Peter gives in this first chapter. Here is the text —
Have you found that sometimes we just simply need to obey some commands? Our culture seems to demand explanations for everything. But the believer in Jesus learns — maybe very slowly — that our God doesn’t always explain the WHYS to His children.
In chapter 8 of The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has Screwtape give the following advice to Wormwood, his understudy demon: “Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
Here are five very clear commands which are for all believers at all times in all cultures facing any circumstances in life:
1. Set Your Hope on What’s Most Important! (v. 13)
2. Don’t Give in to Your Pagan Desires! (v. 14)
3. Be Holy in All You Do! (vv. 15-16)
4. Live Out Your Life as Godly Foreigners Here (vv. 17-21)
5. Love One Another Deeply! (vv. 22-25)
Has it dawned on you, Christian, that sometimes what you and I really need are straightforward, clear commands? And this is how Paul completes his second letter to the Corinthian believers. Notice his instruction —
1. We are clearly commanded to REJOICE!
What in the world makes us Christians think that rejoicing is an option we can overlook or ignore? It is a command to REJOICE! As hard as life sometimes gets, we are to rejoice in the more important blessings of salvation and peace and purpose and forgiveness.
If any group of believers felt they had the right to wallow in self-pity or stew in unforgiveness or be frustrated with their own failures, it was the Corinthians. And with all the rebuke and strong instructions given by the Apostle to spiritually straighten things out in the church, he still commands them to rejoice!
2. We are to strive for full restoration!
This command is given to a church filled with problems and sin and unrepentance and lack of forgiveness! The temptation to give up, to let bitternesses and unresolved conflicts continue, was probably overwhelming for some of these believers. But that course of inaction was not and would not be of God. He wants full restoration.
3. We are commanded to encourage one another!
Encouragement. You need to know that when Gary Chapman wrote his book The Five Love Languages and he dealt with “words of affirmation” — he had a picture of ME in front of him. Just kidding. But that’s how I receive love — not so much receiving gifts or acts of service or physical touch or quality time, but — words of affirmation. Encouragement. We are clearly instructed to encourage one another. Words matter. What we say to one another matters. And sometimes the words we choose to say can be like a drink of fresh spring water to a thirsty man who’s been stumbling around in the desert.
5. We are commanded to live in peace!
What does it mean to “live in peace”? Well, we are told to “be at peace among yourselves” (I Thes. 5:13). And Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (KJV). The NIV reads “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You and I can’t force others to live at peace with us, but we can choose to make every effort to live in peace with them! The Jesus-follower has absolutely no justification to perpetuate any kind of grudge or bitterness or unresolved conflict or family skirmish. None.
THE PROMISE: “And the God of love and peace will be with you.” Wait! I thought God was everywhere. As one theologian put it, “Wherever there is a ‘where,’ God is there!” So what does it mean that God “will be with you”? Not so fast! Notice the character of this God: He is “the God of love and peace.” The only true God — the One who is love and peace — is being spoken of here. HE will be with us as we seek to obey these commands. Are you “with” me? Notice I’m not using “with” geographically. I’m asking “Are you tracking with me? Following what I’m saying?” The omnipresent God is “with” some and not “with” others. Relationally. And that is what is being promised here. I want that. Do you?
Linda and I have been given a free river cruise on a 90-passenger ship in Europe! Our friends, Jeff and Gina, founded Teeming River Cruises two years ago and their cruises are about 1/3 of the cost of Viking cruises; their website is here. We had a great time with them two years ago on their inaugural voyage.
I will conduct a Sunday service for the passengers and crew on August 25th. Please pray for God to guide me as I prepare for that service. I’ll be going over the wonderful story in Luke 5. Let’s look at that text one more time:
I don’t really have a title for my message yet and am open to your ideas! But we have so far looked at verses 1-3 and suggested that Simon Peter was —
I. Doing a Religious Teacher a Favor (vv. 1-3)
Peter had to be a bit proud of his helping Jesus out of an acoustical dilemma. Peter’s boat provided Jesus some distance from those who wanted to hear Him, and maybe added to the ambiance of the meeting.
But Jesus, although He had concluded His lecture, isn’t done speaking. He gives Peter a command: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (v. 4). Peter and his companions are now challenged with …
II. Recognizing Who Jesus REALLY Is! (vv. 4-10)
Jesus is invading Peter’s area of expertise by telling him when and where to fish! Simon Peter’s response is: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything” (v. 5). Is there anything sadder than a fisherman who puts up his hands to describe his catch of fish and he has to make a big ZERO with his fingers? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. And now Jesus wants them to get their nets dirty again even though the fish aren’t biting.
Jesus has stepped out of His role as spiritual teacher and has entered Peter’s world of catching fish. And Jesus doesn’t say to him, “Let’s see if you can catch a few …” He says, “for a catch.” As if Jesus could guarantee success to these exhausted and frustrated fishermen!
Perhaps Peter doesn’t want to embarrass Jesus by refusing His request, and he agrees to do what Jesus told him to do. Don’t you just love Peter’s totally honest response: “But because you say so, I will let down the nets”? Against all reason, contrary to all sure evidence of a repeated failure, Peter obeys.
The Challenge: Where in your life is your “but because You say so”? What is Jesus asking you to do that can be done only by stepping out in faith and obedience? (to be continued)
So, we’ve been given a free river cruise on a 90-passenger ship in Europe with a travel company founded by a Christian couple, Jeff and Gina! We had a great time with Teerming River Cruises two years ago. Their cruises are about 1/3 of the cost of Viking Cruises and their website is here.
The cruise two years ago gave us some great opportunities to share the gospel with the other passengers. I will be conducting a Sunday church service on August 25th. I have chosen Luke 5 as my text and want to begin thinking through it in these posts. Here’s that great passage:
1. The text has to do with water and a boat and fish! So it fits with the cruise experience.
2. We see that Jesus was teaching the people the word of God, but He had a very practical problem. The people were crowding around Him (v. 1), so He used Simon’s book to achieve a bit of auditory distance (v. 3).
3.”When he had finished speaking” (v. 4) — There should be a conclusion to a person’s sermon!
4. Simon Peter must have been proud that he could help out the wandering rabbi Jesus with His speech. But then Jesus leaves the role of spiritual teacher and takes on the role of master fisherman (v. 4).
5.This is an incursion into Peter’s area of expertise! His excuse: v. 5 – “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything!”
6. Where is your “but because you say so” (v. 5)? Simple obedience to Jesus which seems contrary to reason!
7. The supernaturalness of Jesus becomes evident by the catch of fish (vv. 6-7). As Creator, He knew where the fish were!
8. Fortunately, Jesus didn’t take Peter’s advice (“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”). Instead of abandoning him, Jesus enlists him into the business of catching people!
The Challenge for Today: Please pray for me as I work on this message. I want to make the best of this one shot I have of presenting the gospel to folks on board. Thank you!
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” (Mere Christianity)
If only everything in life listened to you! Yeah, that would be great, would it not?
No! Because we are not GOD! And catering to a person’s desire to have everything obey him (even something as simple as “Find the cat!”) is tantamount to defying man, right?
Technology can be great — but man still needs a Savior, right?
In this series of posts, we are giving away some of my favorite sermon outlines. I’ve been preaching since I was about sixteen years old or so (that’s sixty-two years!) and have made every mistake in the book (I go over some of the most common mistakes in my booklet Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!).
We’ve begun to look at my sermon outline on John 9, the most extensively recorded miracle in the Bible. I won’t reproduce the biblical text for you, but my major outline points with a bit of explanation. We’ve seen the first truth in this text and it is that —
I. Tragedy Has Its Reasons! (vv. 1-5)
Encountering this man “blind from birth,” the disciples ask Jesus for His explanation of this man’s tragedy. They provide the Lord two possible answers (we do the same to Him, don’t we?), this man’s sin or his parents’ sin. Jesus responds with letter ‘C’ — “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3).
The second truth that comes from this incredible text is simply —
II. Obedience Has Its Reward (vv. 6-12).
It does not appear that Jesus engages this man in a conversation, but simply spits on the ground, makes mud, puts it on this man’s eyes, and tells him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam (v. 6). And he obeys! Perhaps he knew something about Jesus. More than likely he didn’t know anything about this wandering rabbi, but something caused him to obey. Without argument or hesitation.
We can only speculate about this man’s inner thoughts. When you think about it, there is something quite healthy about desperation. Or maybe resignation. After a life of blindness, perhaps this man thought to himself, “What do I have to lose?”
The succinctness of the text is remarkable here: “So the man went and washed, and came home seeing” (v. 7). Wow. Simple obedience — rewarded by God! The great theologian Ray Charles, blind himself, once said, “My eyes are my handicap, but my ears are my opportunity.” This man’s opportunity was to do what Jesus told him to do. “And he came home seeing.”
The interrogations will soon begin. But right now, this man is seeing. For the first time. A “work of God” done by Jesus because this man obeyed. I wonder what works of God I might be missing by not jumping to obey? (to be continued)