Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Choices: Blessing, Cursing, Life, Death - Deuteronomy 30


Choices: Blessing, Cursing, Life, Death

Text: Deut 30:11-20


Introduction:
Moses is instructing Joshua on a ceremony that will be done once they enter the Promised Land. This ceremony would be carried out on Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim just inside the border of Canaan. It would signify the acceptance of the Covenant between God and the People of Israel, a covenant we label the Palestinian or Land Covenant, because it dealt with the people and the land God would give them.

We read about it in Deuteronomy 27:11-13,  And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying,  "These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin;  and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.     

What Moses detailed here in Deut 27 does take place under the leadership of Joshua and is recorded in Joshua 8.

Sometimes I think it would be good for us to have a ceremony to understand the importance of the choices we make.

Joke: The Cajun’s son makes his choice. Beadruex called his wife one day to come into the living room of their house. He told her he had figured out a way to see how his teenage son was going to turn out.
            She asked him, “How you goin’ do dat?”
            He say, “Look here on de coffey table dat is in this here livin room.”
            She looked and what she see was three things, a Bible, a wallet with 20 dollars sticking out and a fifth of whiskey.
            She look at her husband and say, “You one crazy fool of a man. How dem thangs show you how Junior gonna turn out?”
            He told here, “Here come junior now, hide. Hide behin this here curtan and I dun show you this amazing thang I jus figured out.”
            So they hid and peeked through the curtains as junior walked into the living room and spotted the things on the coffee table.
            First he picked up the wallet and looked at the twenty dollar bill.
            Beadrux tell his wife. “Oh no. if he take de mony, my boy gonna be a theef” 
            Junior put down the money and picked up the whiskey.
            “Oh no, If he take the whisky he gona be a lousy drunk jus like yo daddy!”
            Junior put down the whiskey and picked up the Bible.
            “Ifning he take the Bible he gonna be a preacher for sure.”
            Junior put down the Bible and started to walk off.
            Beaudrux’s wife say, “I dun tole you, you crazy like a crawdad. That boy done take nuthin.”
            Just then Junior walked back into the living room, picked up the wallet and stuck the twenty in his pocket. He opened the whiskey took a big swig and put that in his other pocket. Finally, he reached out took the Bible, tucked it under his arm and walked out with a smile on his face.
            Beaudrux started to cry and moan and wail like it was his pappa’s funeral.
            What his wife asked, “What it mean since Junior dun took the money, an the whiskey and the Bible.”
            “Oh it be terrible” cried out Beaudrux. “It be worser dan a theef, worser dan a preacher and even worser dan a drunk. That boy you gone an raised up, he gonna be a politician!”

Choices and Contact - Deuteronomy 30:11-14

 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'  Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'  But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Choices Then

Moses, tells the people, The word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart. That you may do it. He is telling them this is not a hard thing to understand, it is not hard to know what to choose. The right answer is not hidden but directly in front them. It is so close that he says it is in their mouth and in their heart that they can and must make the choice.

God beginning in Egypt and continuing throughout the wilderness has revealed Himself to His people, God has revealed His word and His will. Now in full view of that undeniable revelation of God, they must choose.

There is no neutral ground, the people were either on Mt. Ebal or Mt. Gerizim, they choices this day would be just as obvious and just as telling.

Choices Today

I don’t know if we are always cognizant of the power of choices we make everyday. Or sometimes of the consequences of not being willing to make those choices. One choice can make or break your whole day, like choosing to mess with your wife before the coffee is made, that can wreck your whole day. Or the choice of your friends can wreck your life. I knew a young man who choose bad friends and one day when they asked him to go for a ride, he said yes. At the end of that ride they robbed a liquor store while he sat in the car. When they were caught, he went to prison and his life was changed, terribly changed by that choice he made that day. The lack of making a choice may be the difference between heaven and hell, one choice made or not made can have eternal consequences.  
The Bible is filled with places where God challenges us to make a choice.

Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

1 Kings 18:21 -  And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

Proverbs 1: 20-26 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

By our choices we face God as our Master or as our enemy. By our choices we find Heaven or Hell as our eternal destination. By our choices we have forgiveness of our sin or judgment of that same sin. The difference is but a choice.

There are choices we make after salvation as well. We can choose to surrender or server self. We can choose to forgive one another or to condemn one another. We can choose to give to God or to rob God in our tithes and offerings.

All these choices are right before our eyes. Just as they were for the Israelites, they are in our mouth to say yes or no. They are in our hearts to accept or reject.

Illustration

I have an uncle in Yuma, Arizona who was a marine in Vietnam and later was my boss when I worked in the construction trade building houses. If he knew how often he comes up as an illustration in my sermons, he probably wouldn’t have said as much to me as he did, but its too late for that. He had that Texan way of having the right saying at the right time. When he was ready to make a choice that would make a change for the better, the would say, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” My uncle Larry’s once told me about a Marine buddy of his who was constantly getting in trouble, he did the least he could do, often got written up by his superiors and basically wanted to just coast through life. One day after another incident his Sargent called him into the barracks for a serious talk. My uncles buddy was a corporal if I remember the story right, he had potential to go further but he was lazy and not very responsible. The Sargent told him, Today you have to make a choice as to which path you want to walk as a Marine. Either you straighten up and make the right decisions and go on to your next rank or you don’t and I’m going to see you busted back to private. What is going to be? The marine said, “Sarge, I’m happy right where I am. I just want to stay right here. His Sargent told him, “Today, you will decide to take one path or the other, staying where you are is not a choice.”

I stand before you today to echo that truth when it comes to God and our responsibility before Him, you don’t have the choice to not choose. There is no neutral ground, there is no putting off a choice for another day. Doing so is simply saying no to God and that is a dangerous choice.

Transition: Moses goes on in making this confirmation of the covenant and its consequences as plain as possible.

Choices and Consequences Deut 30:15-18

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it

Moses Gives the Choice and the Consequence

What Moses told the people was really very straightforward, very simple. If the people of Israel would love God and obey him they would be blessed by Him and dwell in the promised land in safety and peace, but if they chose to rebel against him and disobey then they would be cursed by Him and driven from the land.

When they crossed the Jordon Joshua was to have the tribes stand on the two mounts, Mt. Ebal represented the curse and Mt. Gerizim the blessing of God. No tribe was allowed to stand in the valley. This was symbolic there being no middle ground when it came to obeying God and making a choice. Blessing or cursing was their choice make but they must make it.

God still Gives the Choice

When God created man, he created him in the image of God. One aspect of that image is free will, the ability to choose and even to choose in opposition to the God who created him. One of the reasons I have such a problem accept the doctrine of foreordination, that God has already determined who is saved and who is lost, is that the Bible is filled with so many occurrences of God telling man to choose. It would just such a contradiction for God to call on man to make a choice, if He had already made that choice for man. And one thing I am sure that the Bible makes very plain, God does not contradict Himself.

Look at just a few examples of man’s ability to choose and then the consequences of that choice.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Yet many think there are no consequences to their choices or worse that they can somehow choose, not to choose. That, of course, is the worst choice of all. They wait until it is too late to choose. They wait until the choice is made for them and then they suffer the consequences.

As individuals we choose and reap the consequences but the principle is the same for nations and governments. Do you remember the story of the pastor who was called to open the Kansas State Senate in prayer? His prayer that day was about the wrong choices and it made national news when Pastor Joe Wright finished.

Prayer of Pastor Joe


In 1996, Pastor Joe Wright was asked by one of his church members, a state legislator,  to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance.  We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good" but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that.  We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism; We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare; We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We have abused power and called it politics; We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.  Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will, to open ask it in the name of Your Son, the living Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen"

The prayer led to "angry walkouts in two state legislatures, an unprecedented two readings on Paul Harvey's Radio show, more than 6,500 phone calls to Wright's church and so many boxes of mail that the church staff didn't' know where to put them all. Additionally, Wright's prayer went viral, with thousands of emails, which republished and critiqued the prayer, circulating on the internet.

Transition:
That Pastor understood we as the American people will suffer the consequences of the choices we make or just as often the choices we refuse to make. Moses has one more appeal to the Israelites.

Choices and Challenge Deuteronomy 30:19-20

  I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

The Challenge To Choose


vs. 19. “Choose Life!” Moses knew it was not enough to just lay the choice before God’s people. They had to be challenged to take action and make the choice now and every time they would make a choice in the future. His challenge is powerful and direct, he tells them, “Choose Life!”

In fact Moses draws the reason or making this choice to an exact pinpoint of reality in vs. 20. “For He is thy Life.”

The choice they were about to make was vastly important, important to their conquest of Canaan, important to the settling of the land, important to their keeping the land and important to the generations that would follow them. Their choice that day counted, it meant something because the choice they would make was about God and their relationship with Him. “He is they life!”
There is nothing more important than that.

Our Challenge Today

What mountains are we choosing to stand upon today? With our choices we will choose the place of cursing or the place of blessing. As it was then with Moses and the Israelites it is with us today, there is no middle ground. No place where we can choose not to choose, when it comes to God and our relationship with Him.

It is not enough just to know the choices. It is not even enough to understand the consequences. It is only enough when we choose. When we make the right choice, today and every single time we are confronted with the challenge of making a decision, we must choose.  

So, how then should we choose? If we must act every time then what guides us to make the right decision, to choose correctly? Here, the words of Moses are as clear today as they were those thousands of years ago, “Choose Life! Choose Life! Choose Life!” because “He is thy life” and there can’t really be any other choice. Choose eternal life. Choose the best life of your family. Choose life in your friends and choose life when forgiving your enemies. Choose life in all things and you will find the blessings of God as the consequence for that choice.

Illustration:

In the Book of Revelation, when Jesus wrote his letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, by the hand of John, one phrase is sent to every single church. We read it Rev 2 verses 7, 11,17, and 29 then in chapter 3: verses 6, 13 and 22. What is this one phrase that it is so important that every single church no matter its circumstance was to hear and respond to.

Revelation 3:13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." That is a challenge to every person to make the right choice. It is a challenge to hear the words of Jesus Christ as they are given to us by the Holy Spirit working through the Bible, working through the sermon, working through our hearts. If you are hearing this then the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Listen and then make the right choice.

In the final appeal to the Church of Laodicea, Jesus says in Revelation 3:20-22 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Just as Moses stood before the nation of Israel and told them to Choose Life, Jesus stands at the door of the church and knocks, He knocks at our will, he knocks at our heart, he knocks and the knock is a challenge to make the right choice. Choose life, choose to open the door and let Jesus give us life.

Conclusion

What choice will you make today?
You need to quit stalling, quit waiting and choose life in Jesus Christ You need to answer the challenge, make the choice and put your faith in Christ this morning, right now, right here.
Perhaps there are other choices that involve the path God would have you walk and you’re stalled at the crossroad. It’s time to choose life,  let Jesus Christ take your hand and lead where He wants you to go.

Whoever you are and whatever you are struggling with this morning I stand before you and without doubt tell you, that you will never go wrong if you choose life and choose to follow Jesus as Savior and as Lord.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Gospel Quest 15 Jesus and John Text: John 3:27-36


Gospel Quest 15 Jesus and John


Text: John 3:27-36.

Audio Link


Introduction:


A young boy from Pecos, Texas, heard a man driving through town asking for directions. On hearing the for the first time the man’s unsouthern accent, He asked the stranger
“Hey, mister are you from Texas?”
Before the man could answer the little boy’s father on hearing the question, said, “Excuse my boy sir, You have a great day.”
He hurried with his son out of earshot and then said, "Son, you never ask a man if he is from Texas.” 
“Why not, Daddy?  Asked the puzzled youngster.
“ Well, Son. Its like this. If a man is from Texas, he'll tell you before you can ask him. But if he isn’t from Texas, well then we don’t want to embarrass Him.”

Now I’m not going to ask you where you’re from this morning, but I know some of you are going to tell me anyway, cause y’all are from Texas. No I’m not going to ask that but I am going to ask something even more important, even to Texans,  Do you know, not where you’re from but who you?

John chapter 3 is one of the most well know passages in the Bible because it contains John 3:16 but we often don’t consider what was written after Jesus famous encounter with Nicodemus. It is another encounter though this time it is not a face to face but is an encounter between two ministries, two prophets and two of the greatest names of the Jewish people, Jesus and John the Baptist.
The encounter takes place as both John and Jesus are baptizing near each other in the Jordan river. A dispute comes up between John’s disciples and the Jews, that question probably had to do with Jesus and his authority to do what John had been doing before Jesus come on the scene.  That answer to that question not only defined who John was, but it also would tell a great deal about who Jesus was. The same question and answer, as we look at them this morning, can tell us about who and what we are supposed to be when it also come to Jesus.


John Knows John   John 3:27-29  

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.  Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.  He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

John Knows Who He Is In Jesus

As we read these opening verses, we can see something about John the Baptist, that he is a man who knows who he is and he knows why he was placed upon the earth. He understood his purpose in life.
In vs 27 we see that he is a man who knows he is blessed and is humbled by that blessing vs. 27 “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”
In vs. 28 He sees himself as a man who has been given a purpose and who is fulfilled by his calling to carry out that purpose. vs. 28 “I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.”
In vs 29, He explains that he is a man who knew himself in and though his relationship with Jesus Christ.  vs. 29 “the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.”
John’s gifts, his purpose, his calling and his joy were all a part of his relationship to Jesus the Messiah, it was this sense of who he was in Christ that would give him the strength to not only be the voice crying the in wilderness but also the voice that would call down a king for adultery and the voice praying in a prison cell while he waiting for a sword to fall across his neck.

Knowing Yourself In Jesus

There are three questions that come to mind that we should ask ourselves in light of John's words. Three questions that must be answered if we are to ever know ourselves and our purpose for being on this earth.

First, Are you humbled by the blessings of God in your life?
The Bible says in James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
This is what John understood and it defined the person he was and would be. If we are to ever know ourselves we must know that we are blessed by God and in that blessing know we don’t deserve “that which comes from heaven” and yet God has poured them into our life and if fact has blessed us with life.

Secondly, Are you fulfilled by God’s calling?
Ephesians 1:11-12 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
All of us have a purpose, given to us from God, “that we should be to the praise of His glory.” I love that phrase and the sense of purpose it give to my life and who I am. My life as a child of God serves one of the greatest purposes in eternity, that I should be, that my existence, my life, my purpose, my service is to be to the praise of His glory. That’s what John knew, and we are not called to be the last Old Testament Prophet while also being the first New Testament prophet but we are stilled called to a eternal purpose. Fulfill that purpose and you will discover who you are.

Finally, we should ask ourselves, Do I know who I am though my relationship with Jesus Christ? Your real identity, your true self is directly tied to Jesus. God has created you for a reason and that reason is only seen when you see yourself in the light of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Knowing Jesus is the only way you’ll ever really know yourself as God intended you to be.

Illustration: The Fellowship of the Unashamed

When I can answer these questions, then I know who I am, I have a purpose in life through Jesus Christ.  I am a Christian, I am God's child, I am a soldier of the cross. By God’s grace, I am somebody!

Let me read to you a writing called the Fellowship of the Unashamed. It’s origins are obscure but most agree it was written by an Christian martyr in Africa who refused to renounce Christ and was killed by his own tribe. Some stories say he was a missionary, some a student, some a pastor and there are small changes in words when you read the different versions, but one this is clear, this was a person who knew who he was in Jesus Christ.

"I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit's power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made.  I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals."

"I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power."

"My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifices, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity."

"I won't give up, shut up, or let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And, when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me ... my banner will be clear."

Transition: John the Baptist knew who he was because he knew who Jesus was.  In vs. 30 he further explains that relationship.

John Knows Jesus - John 3:30-31  

He must increase, but I must decrease.  He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

 John Knew Jesus Must be Preeminent

John makes this powerful statement "He must increase but I must decrease." It is powerful because its very simplicity forces us to examine its depths. It is both an explanation to his disciples and a reiteration of his orders and his purpose from God.

John knows that he must fade while Jesus must grows.  I don’t think we often realize how important John the Baptist was to the people of Israel. He was the first prophet to Israel in over 400 years. John was the forerunner to the Messiah. His coming had been prophesied over a 1000 years before and people understood what it meant now that he was here. His birth was foretold by an angel, one of only three such births in all the Bible, His name was given by that same angel. John the Baptist stood look a colossus with one foot planted in the Old Testament and one foot planted in the New. He was the transitional prophet from the Old to the New.  People poured out of the cities into the desert to hear, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He had many disciples and all of Jesus’ disciples were taken from John. Jesus said, in Matthew 11:11 “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist”

But Now John himself says, he must now fade from sight and Jesus must rise. This happened very quickly once Jesus was baptized. Ultimately this took place when John was imprisoned by Herod, after he accused Herod of adultery, (who says Christians aren’t supposed to get involved in politics?) Only after Jesus hears that John is in prison does he begins his public ministry in Israel.

Is Jesus Preeminent in Our Life?

If you know who you are in your relationship with Christ, as John did, then also like John, I must know that I must decrease if Jesus is to increase in my life. If Jesus is to be preeminent then some things in my life must be removed so that Christ can have first place.

Let me give you an illustration, to rise higher in a balloon, ballast or weights must be tossed overboard.  If you don’t get rid of the ballast, those things holding you down, then you don’t rise up. So it is with the Christian seeking a higher and closer relationship with Christ.

Rising Higher 

Survey this truth in Colossians 1, 2 and 3 (wow you are going to get 2 sermons today and one will cover the book of Colossians. This is what happens when your pastor goes to a preaching workshop.)

Colossians 1:27 1st step Launch with the right pilot
 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Colossians 2:6-7 2nd step Stay the course
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:20-22 3rd step Let go the regulation rope
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?  

Colossians 3:1-2 4th step Breath the rarefied air.
 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
We are alive with Christ, we must then look towards Christ, have a love for things of Christ, because our life is hid in Christ.

If you're going to this height, then your own efforts, attempts, discipline, will power must cease. These, and so many other things I measure myself by and count as valuable, must be thrown overboard and I must let Christ take control me.  "He will increase only as I decrease."
Quote: “I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grew in Christian character, the more easily we should reach them. I find now that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and that is not a question of growing taller, but of stooping lower and that we have to go down, always down to get His best ones.” - F.B. Meyer

Illustration:  Paul just before shipwreck on Melita  Acts 28

1st they threw over the Cargo: They lightened the ship;  Then the Reserves: And the third day we cast out the tackling of the ship.  Then the Bible says, their Hope in others: all hope taken away.  Their only means of Escape in another ship was tossed: when they cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.  Even their Future was jettison when they lightened the ship, and cast the wheat into the sea. Finally, they even tossed themselves into the care of God: Paul told them they should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land.  When all they had was gone, then they knew that all they needed was God. And so it came to pass, that they all escaped safe to land. They cast away everything until all they had left was God.

"When you come to the place in your life where God is all you have left, then for the first time in your life you will realize that God is all you need."

Transition: John the apostle and writer of this book, now adds his own emphasis to the answer of John the Baptist, that commentary turns the focus directly on us.

John (the Apostle) Knows You - John 3:32-36  

And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.  He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John the Apostle Looks to Us.

He describes us as believers with this phrase, “They would set their seal that God is true.” In the days of John in order to witness something and to show that you knew it to be true you would have a signet ring or seal and you would press that ring into hot wax to leave an impression, a record that said, I am a witness this is true. Today if you want to absolutely verify something as being witnessed you have a notary put a seal on the paper recording that truth. John says that is what we will do when we believe, when we receive John the Baptists testimony, we set to our seal that God is true. We do this not with a signet ring on hot wax but with our witness, our own testimony and the seal of the life we live as a child of God. Those who set their seal leave their mark by their faith.

They believe what Jesus said. Every word, every promise, every lesson, every parable as true and the words of life.

They believe who Jesus was. Sent by God, filled with the Spirit, loved by the Father, creator and sustainer of all creation.

They believe what faith in Jesus does. Giving everlasting life. They would also know that those without faith would be left to everlasting death and under the abiding, the waiting wrath of God.

Is John Describing Us?

Are we believers who have set the seal of my life showing that God is true.
Do we really believe what Jesus says? If so then we will decrease our words, our thoughts, our voices, in order that Jesus words, thoughts and voice may increase through me.
Do we really believe who Jesus is? If so then we will decrease our confidence, our plans, our  ways and then He will increase His presence and person in our lives and through our lives in our church.
Do we really believe what faith in Jesus can do? Then we will decrease apathy, ignorance, and fear and He will increase his power in us.

If I believe, If I have set to my seal that God is true, then I will tell others that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, He is the way, the truth and the life and there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved.

Illustration:  William Booth and the Salvation Army

William Booth walked among the poor, hungry, sick, and lonely people of London, England. The people were crammed into crumbling buildings that were full of rats. They had no jobs. There was no one to help them.  Worst of all, there was no one to tell them that Jesus cared. They did not know that Jesus died to be their Saviour and lives again to be their Lord.

William Booth told his wife, "I have given myself to work for God among those sick souls." The work that was begun at that time is today known as the Salvation Army.

Years later when someone asked General Booth the secret of his success, he said, "God has had all there was of me to have! From the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ would do for them, I made up my mind that God would have all there was of William Booth. God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life."

   William Booth gave Jesus complete charge of his life. He made Jesus Lord of all. He decreased and Jesus increased. William Booth faded away, just as John the Baptist and finally all that was left was Jesus Christ.


Conclusion: 

I want to leave you with two of the most challenging statements found in the Bible both from this passage. I want you to examine yourself in light of these two statements.

The first is “I must decrease, and He must increase.” What of yourself needs to be tossed overboard in order to rise higher in your relationship with Jesus?

The second phrase is “He has set to his seal that God is true.” In what specific way have you “set the seal” of your life to show that God is true?

 In light of those two challenges from God’s word, what do I need to do? What commitment, what action, what repentance what step of faith, must I take?