Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Do You Really Know Jesus? #4: New Vision John 4

Do You Really Know Jesus? #4: New Vision

Text: John 4:31-38

Introduction: Shoe Salesman In Africa
Perhaps you heard about the Yankee shoe salesman who went to Africa and wired his manufacturer, 

“I want to come home. Nobody wears shoes in this part of Africa.” So they brought him home and sent another salesman who shipped back order after order. He wrote the home office, “Everybody here needs shoes!”

Sometimes everything changes when you see thing through different eyes. This is especially true when we are talking about the Lord's work. 

Lacking Spiritual Vision   

John 4:31-34

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

The Disciples Didn’t See as Jesus saw.

Disciples unable to see because of their cultural and historical background. They couldn’t wee why Jesus must go through Samaria.  The Samaritans were a people of mixed blood and had rebelled against the Kings of Judah, they worshipped idols and did not honor the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

They sure couldn’t see why Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman who was obviously an outcast from her village.

They couldn’t see the spiritual springs of water anymore than the woman at the well, nor could they see the fulfillment of Christ’s mission on earth. 

They did not understand when why he no longer needed physical food because he had feasted on the spiritual food of doing God’s will. His deepest hunger was filled by winning a soul unto eternal life. They could not see with the eyes of Christ.

Do we See As Jesus Saw?

Does our culture or background prevent us from talking to and reaching out to those who are in need of Christ?

How will we explain to Jesus one day that we wouldn’t talk to that alcoholic at work with, or that girl I go to college with that dances at the so called Gentleman’s club, or to that teenager who is usually strung out on drugs. If the Lord put me face to face with one of those “Samaritans” would I speak with them or ignore them.

I know that usually none of these are asking to hear about Jesus, neither was the woman at the well. Jesus took the initiative because Jesus saw with eyes that saw people’s souls as well as their bodies.
How long has it been since you tasted the food of heaven?

To experience the fulfillment of doing God’s will by seeing those that are lost around us and bring them to Christ.

To know this feeling is to find a satisfaction of the soul that will overcome the other needs and wants in your life. You will have no need for what the world offers when you taste the meat of doing God’s will.

Just like the disciples, we need to see with the eyes of Christ. We need spiritual vision that sees the soul as well as the body.

Wouldn’t it change our worldview if we could see both the physical and the spiritual parts of life. They are both there just as the body and mind are both there. I can see one but not the other, yet I am aware of both. So must it be with our vision of the spiritual and the physical. We see the physical but we must never forget the spiritual is just as real. Remember the story of Elisha praying for the vision of his servant when they were surrounded by an invading kings army?  

Elisha prays for his servant to see

2 Kings 6:15  And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.   

Transition: Jesus was trying to do with a lesson what Elisha did with a miracle, give the disciple the ability to see with spiritual vision. He continues that lesson in vs. 35

Looking For Spiritual Vision John 4:35

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

Jesus Teaches The Disciples To See Souls

He looks out on a green field, that at this time of the year was months away from harvest, but then tells them, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields for they are white already to harvest.”
At that point the disciples had to realize Jesus was seeing something they weren’t.  He was telling them to look not on a field of grain, but upon a field of souls. Souls that were ready for a harvest of eternal life.

Jesus knew that the woman of Sychar had gone back to the village and was even now telling the men of that village about the Messiah. He knew that in a short time the entire village would come to see the One she was talking about. And most importantly he knew that if his disciples remained blind to their lost souls, many would walk away offended, alienated and still lost.

Seeing The World with Spiritual Vision

Does Jesus still tell us to lift up our eyes, to look up, and see the fields of souls ready for harvest? Is he still telling us to see with His eyes instead of ours? Does he still show us impossible things, while trying to get us to see lost souls.

Look with me to Matthew 28:18-29
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

What a vision not just one Samaritan town but all the towns, in all the nations of the world.  This is the great commission, this is our marching orders until Jesus comes back. Talk about an impossible sight. We are to disciple, baptize and teach all things Jesus has taught us. We are to do this here in Athens, Texas but also in all the world. We are to cross physical border, language barriers, and cultural obstacles with the Gospel and start churches and we are to all do this until Jesus comes back! How can that even be possible? It can’t be possible until we see with spiritual opened eyes.

I want to share with you our Mission Statement. Now you may say I didn’t know we had a mission statement, well we do  because it is the one Jesus gave us in Matthew 28. But let me expand upon it this morning so that it will truly belong to Calvary Baptist Church. 

Mission Statement from the Great Commission Matthew 28:19-20

We the members of Calvary Baptist Church, will all strive to fulfill the Great Commission left to us by our founder, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We will through our love, sacrifice and witness make His presence known in our community, to our friends and families and around the world.  We will earnestly tell them of their need of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  When they have accepted Him, we will bring them to God's house and baptize them in the name of the Triune God.  We will then instruct them in all aspects of the Christian life and exhort them in their Christian growth and nurture them in Christian love. 

This mission we will carry out no matter what the cost in time, money, effort or pride.  We will refuse to be stopped by Satan, the world, our own nature or frailties.  We vow to press toward the mark that we may obtain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Then one day to lay that hard-fought prize as a crown at His feet.

This is our mission, everything we do here should be secondary to this task.  Do we believe that?  Do we accept that?  Passively we “say yeah sure, amen or preach it brother.”  But let me ask it in another way?

Do you attend church like that?  Do you give like that?  Do you forgive others like that?  Do you raise your kids like that?  Are you really living and working in the church as if you truly know you are on a mission from God Himself?

One day you’ll stand in eternity and look back and say I wish I had tried for even a week or a month to live as though I really believed God was calling me.  I wish I had tithed for just one month, I wish I had witnessed, I wished I had forgiven, I wish I had sacrificed for just one month to see how God was true to his promises.

I challenge you , if you’ll do it for one month you can do it for a year.  If you can do it for a year, you can do it for 10, and if you can do it for 10 years then you can do it for a lifetime and if you do it for a lifetime then one day you’ll stand before Jesus your Master and hear him say, “Matthew 25:23  Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

Do you have the vision, the spiritual sight to see yourself standing before God one day and hearing that verdict?

Let me tell you about one person who saw the vision of Jesus’ white fields.

William Carey

In England in the 1700’s, there was a pastor. He was a cobbler by trade and practically illiterate. As he worked on repairing peoples shows, he kept a map of the world on a wall of his workshop so that he could glance up and pray for the nations of the world that were without a Christian witness.  He became so burdened for an international missionary outreach that he decided to share his burden at a meeting of his fellow Baptist ministers. When he finished, he was told by one of the senior men of God: “Young man, sit down. When God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine.”

But William Carey did not sit down or give up. He could not get the vision of a lost world off his heart.  He felt he had to do something, so he learned to read and write in his native tongue, then learned Hebrew, Greek and Latin all it self-taught as he cobbled on shoes.  He then took his family and went to Burma and India with the gospel. There this once illiterate cobbler, translated the Bible into more than 20 Indian dialects and languages, established the first university in India and influenced tens of thousands around the world to come to Christ and serve Him. 

Carey’s most famous saying was spoken in a meeting in which he was trying to get others to take the Gospel around the world. This is what he said, “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.” He saw with the eyes of Christ and he believed, truly believed, he was on a mission from God.

Transition: That’s what spiritual vision can do.  Now look how Jesus continues to teach the disciples and us about that vision and its results.

Laboring In Spiritual Vision John 4:36 –38

And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

Jesus Tells His Disciples Get To Work

With the new, spiritual vision that Jesus has taught His disciples, He now tells them to get to work, to labor in those fields their new eyes can now see.

This is the work of souls and it must be done with spiritual vision, with eyes that can only see what Jesus has taught us to see, and it can be the hard labor but it is the most rewarding work ever given to mankind.

Notice that Jesus tells them the labor consists of two things, sowing and reaping. He also tells them that all those who see this field and enter into it are all working together. You may reap where others have sown, others may reap where you have sown.  This is God’s plan and we are simple told to get to the work.

Time For Us To Get To Work

Are we see the field today, are we willing to work for the Lord?
When was the last time I sowed the gospel in the field of a human heart?
When was the last time I reaped “fruit unto eternal life?”
If we’re not working for Jesus, then what are we doing?  Why are we here?  If the call and commission of God is not enough to move us to begin the work then how terribly blind we have become!

The Lighthouse and the Life Saving Club

Once on a rocky coastline there stood a lighthouse and it’s brave crew.  Never were the more courageous men who loved their work.  They often launched their small open boats into the roughest seas to rescue ships that had gone aground on the rocks near their lighthouse.  The men of the rescue crew were much admired and soon many people began to join the life-saving station.  Those who could not row the boats minded the lights.  Those who could not mind the lights cooked food or maintained the grounds.  After every rescue there would be hot food and warm blankets for the rescued and the rescuers as well.  Before long the popularity of the station called for some changes.  They need a president and a treasure to oversee the money that was being donated, this seemed like a good idea and so they elected a president and a treasurer.  One day during a business meeting someone said, “Our station is getting too small and our rescue crew deserves better quarters let’s build a new lighthouse.”  Someone else stood up and said, “You know I don’t think we should call it a lighthouse anymore either.  That’s a little old fashioned.  Let’s call it a life-saving club.  We are bound to get more members that way.” 

Everyone agreed and a new lighthouse, I mean, life-saving club was built.  It was beautiful with gorgeous carpet and a big gym for recreation.  It was built right on the coastline and they even opened up a restaurant in the top floor of the lighthouse, I mean life-saving club.  One day there was a terrible ship wreck and the rescue crew jumped into their boats and rowed out to the ship.  They pulled scores of people from the water and off the rocks.  Bruised and bleeding they were brought back to the life-saving club.   

After the rescue at the next business meeting there were several complaints about the last rescue.  “They tracked mud all through the foyer”, complained one worker.  “They got blood on the gym floor and we had to stop in the middle of a basketball game to make room for all those wretches, “complained another.  “Well, no one paid for any of the food they ate either, complained the manager of the restaurant.  A huge fight broke our over whether the facilities should be used for actual rescues or if that should be done some where out of sight.  Finally, they split.  Those who wanted to actually rescue people moved back to the old lighthouse, while those who wanted to enjoy each others company in a nice family atmosphere down by the sea stayed in the club.

Today if you drive down the coastline, you will see every few miles another new and popular life-saving club.  They are great places for entertainment and good food.  But the lighthouses are hard to find, they tend to call for too much sacrifice and giving to be very popular.  And every now and then on a night filled with nature’s stormy fury a ship will crash on the rocks along the coast and the souls in that wreck, praying for help, pleading for rescue simply drown.  You see in the life-saving clubs they’re too busy planning, building and visiting to bother to look for people to actually save.


Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” 
What He said to them, He says to us, indeed the fields are even broader, deeper and whiter than ever. We must see with His eyes and we must work with His power to sow and reap in the fields of souls all around us.

“That both he that soweth and He that reapeth may rejoice together.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do You Really Know Jesus? #3 New Priority

Do You Really Know Jesus? #3 New Priority

 Text: John 3:27-36

Introduction: Song leader/ Cop who gives songs with ticket to preacher.
Once there was a preacher who couldn't keep from speeding, ironically this preacher had in his congregation a Highway Patrolman who was his song leader.  One day on the way to a fellowship meeting clear across the state the pastor was blowing out the carbon, (speeding), and sure enough he was pulled over by his own song leader.  The pastor hoped he would let him off.  After taking quite a while in the patrol car, the patrolman came back.  He handed the pastor a ticket and a little note.  This is what the note said.

Dear  Pastor, here is a list of songs for you to sing while you are driving down the highway.
At 45 MPH sing, "God will take care of you."
At 55 MPH sing, "Peace, Be Still"
At 65 MPH sing, "Nearer, my God, to Thee."
At 75 MPH sing, "I’ll Fly Away"
At 85 MPH sing, "This world is not my Home."
At 95 MPH sing, "Lord, I'm coming Home."
At 100 MPH we'll be singing, "Precious Memories." at your funeral.

            That song leader understood that different speeds meant different levels of closeness to God, literally.  When it comes to our spiritual lives, we as Christians live at different levels of closeness to God as well.  From newborn babe, to child, to growing disciple, to servant and even to martyr.  John the Baptist obtained a level of relationship, which I would call "preparer".   He lived in such a way as to prepare peoples heart for the savior.  I would like to experience that level.  I would like to live there.  I would like to be one who could call out, "Behold, the Lamb of God," and people would recognize Jesus ready to come into their hearts.  If that is to happen, some of the same qualities and characteristics in John's life must be present in mine. So lets go to John 3 and down to verse 27 for the text of our next sermon in the Do You Really Know Jesus series and consider a new priority.
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 question about who Jesus was and who John was, is answered in our passage this morning.

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 looks to himself

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 here.
He is a man who is blessed and humbled by the blessing vs. 27 “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven”

He is a man who is fulfilled by his calling vs. 28 “I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.”

He is a man who knew himself in and by 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.”

Knowing who he is through his relationship with Jesus Christ gave John a purpose for his life, a purpose that would take him through this life and into eternity.

Have you looked at yourself?

There are three questions that come to mind that we should ask ourselves in light of John's words.
First, Do you see yourself as blessed and does that leave you humbled?

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 if we are to ever know ourselves and really know Jesus it is a foundation knowledge that we must understand.

Secondly, Are you fulfilled by a calling as John was?
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 conveys. My life as a child of God serves one of the greatest purposes in eternity, that I should be, that my existence is defined in this, the praise of His glory.
Finally, we should ask ourselves, Are I fulfilled in my relationship with Jesus? Do I know who I am in relation to and with Jesus? Have you discovered your real identity, your true self? Do you realize who God created you to be because you have discovered 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: No need to embarrass him.

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

On a different level it is kind of like the young Texan boy who asked a stranger he had just met if he was from the great state of Texas.  His father overheard the question and before the man could answer he pulled his son aside. 
"Son, never ask a man if he is from Texas.” 
“Why not, Daddy? 
"Well, Son. Its like this. If a man comes from Texas, he'll tell you without being asked and if he isn’t from Texas then you wouldn’t want to embarrass Him by asking.”

Transition: John now expands upon the relationship he has with Jesus in verse 30.

Jesus and John - 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's Emphasis was on Christ's Preeminence

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 from God.

John knows that he must fade while Jesus must grow.  John was the first prophet to Israel in 400 years.  John was the forerunner to the Messiah, and had been prophesied over a 1000 years before, but he must now fade from sight. This was to occur very quickly now that Jesus was on the scene. Ultimately this take place when John is imprisoned by Herod. When Jesus hears this, he begins his public ministry in Israel.

Who is Preeminent in Your Life?      

I must decrease in myself if Jesus is to increase in my life.
Let me give you an illustration, to rise higher in a balloon, ballast must be tossed over board. 
To rise even higher more valuable things must be sacrificed. So it is with the Christian seeking a higher and closer relationship with Christ.

Survey this truth in Colossians
Colossians 1:27 1st step Launch with the right pilot, Christ in you
  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:

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

Col. 2:20-22 3rd step Let go the regulation rope, tied to the world.
  Therefore if ye are 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;) according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 

Col. 3:1-2  4th step Breath the rarefied air.
 If ye then were raised 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. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 

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. They must be thrown overboard and I must let Christ pilot me.  "He will increase as I decrease."

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 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.

Jesus and 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 Evangelist) looks to those who follow after John (the Baptist) in believing Jesus.
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. John says that is what we will do we set to our seal that God is true. They do this not with a ring on hot wax but with a living witness and testimony. Those who set their seal leave their mark by their faith.
They would believe what Jesus said. Every word, every promise, every lesson, every parable as true and vital.

They would believe who Jesus was. Sent by God, filled with the Spirit, loved by the Father, and empowered over all things.

They would believe what faith in Jesus would do. Give everlasting life, and believe that those without faith would be left in everlasting death and under the abiding wrath of God.

Are We Following?

I want to set to do what John said, I want to set the seal of my life to show that God is true.
Do I really believe what Jesus says? If so then I will decrease my own words, my own thoughts, my own voice, that Jesus might increase His words in me.

Do I really believe who Jesus is? Then I will decrease my confidence, my plans, my way and He will increase His presence and person in my life.

Do I really believe what faith in Jesus can do? Then I will decrease my apathy, my ignorance, my fear and He will increase his power in my life. I will tell others of Christ and his power to save because if they don’t believe then eternity for them is the wrath of God’s judgment because they rejected His Son.

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 so that Jesus would increase.

Conclusion:  Would you be like John?

Would you be like John?  Can you lose yourself that Jesus might more be found?  Will you hang like a banner in your heart the deep powerful truth he understood, lived and died to uphold? "He must increase, I must decrease.”