“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”
The harvest is plenty but the workers are few… I think we can all agree on the fact that there is sin in the world and the fact that so many people need to hear the grace story of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Bible tells us that the harvest is plenty- that there are so many hearts ready to receive and follow Christ, but the workers are few- there are not but a few of us that are actually ready and willing to share this grace story to others in a way that they can see, experience, and hear the love of God.
I want to do something very quickly. I want us to stop right here. Stop in the introduction of the sermon and do what the Scripture is saying to do.
God you are our Father and our Master. I ask you right now, as we take the time to stop and do as you ask, please send the workers to the harvest. Please raise up a generation that is willing and able to reach people for you. Father, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. I believe that you are calling us, tonight, to a cause. I believe that you are calling us to join you in this mission of redemption. I believe that you are calling us to be the workers. Why are there not enough workers? Not be cause of anything you have done, or not done, but because we hear Your Word, we read Your Word, and we choose not to listen. Father forgive us for we have sinned against You! Forgive us for our lack of willingness, for our cold hearts, for our lack of submission to You. Now, Father, as I close this prayer, be with us tonight as we look at your Word. I ask that you reveal Truth to our hearts tonight. Do not let the Evil one lead us astray tonight. I pray, Father, that you make this place, this room, a place for Your Holy Spirit to linger. Please Father, as the OT prophets prayed “rain down upon us.” Thank you, Father, for never leaving or forsaking us. I close now, in humble knowledge that you will fulfill the prayer that we have prayed tonight, that You will make Yourself known here tonight and that You will raise us up to be a generation that is willing to fight the decay of this world, a generation that is willing to shine the Light of You to a world that desperately needs it. I love You and thank you for the cross in my life. Amen.
The Reason for This series
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.”
I want us to read this allowed together…
Paul is making a plea to us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices to God, for this is our spiritual act of worship.” This is my heart for this series and where I am personally in my walk with God. “Therefore” Paul states, because of God’s mercies through the cross, “present yourself as a living sacrifice!” Give everything back over to Him. Go all in for His sake, for His purpose, for the sake of others.
For me, this “Going all in” thing seems like something I have accomplished in days past, but for some reason feel as if I’ve yet to give it all over today. I mean this, I’ve taken the steps I am supposed to take, but still feel unfulfilled in the current step God has placed before me. I think we all do this. We go through times in which everything in our lives is devoted to whatever God has asked of us, but one day something comes along that shakes up our world and it seems as if we have learn to trust God all over again.
I have this desire in me to give it all over to God. To trust Him with my finances, to trust Him with my family, to trust Him with everything, but I fall so short, time and time again.
This is where I am. I am learning to trust God all over again. Things are happening all around me that I have no control over. Things are happening in my life that I have never experienced God in before. But God is still here and He is still calling me to Himself- He is still calling me to “present my body as a living sacrifice.”
If you’ve ever thought, “Man, this being a Christian thing is hard.” You would be correct in that thinking. Matt 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” God tells us that following Him will be hard. The way I look at it, it seems that we are being asked to go against everything the world says is normal. Let me explain: the norm is to smoke, the norm is to have sex, the norm is to cuss, the norm is to get drunk, the norm is to hate your brother, the norm is to be selfish, the norm is to covet, the norm is to do everything wicked. To follow Christ, we really have to “do hard things” to follow Him.
I want to ask a question tonight: Why does our life sometimes feel so insignificant? Let me put it another way: Why does our life sometimes feel as if it has no purpose?
Let’s take a look at Romans 12:2…
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Let’s stop right here for a second.
God is telling us that for us to find purpose in life- to find life as He said in verse 1, is to no longer conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. What does he mean when He says to no longer be conformed?
The Amplified Bibles says that “to not be conformed to” means “to not be fashioned after and adapted to it’s external, superficial customs.”
We are being challenged not to be fashioned to the norm of our society. We being told that the first step in transformation, is no more conformity to the world. We are to turn from the world. To walk a completely different path. To look so different from the world that there is no possible way that we could be compared to, or be fashioned after, or be adapted to. It means that we understand truly look like Jesus’ prayer in the garden, to be in the world, but NOT of it!
So, why does life sometimes seem meaningless, or without purpose? I think it is because we are “adapted to” or “fashioned after” a meaningless worldly system, when God is calling us to a different heavenly system for a different norm.
I think that we as the younger generation, are longing for this. I think that our hearts desire is to be so different, so radical. I mean, who wants to look back at there life in 30 years and think, “Man, I’ve wasted it”? I believe with all of my heart that our deepest longing, our deepest passion is to join God on the great cause. And only then will our lives truly have purpose. Only then will the meaningless things of this world not be at the forefronts of our minds. Only then will the Church look as it was intended to!
God is calling us to Go All In.
Over the past several weeks I think that God has been teaching us what it looks like to Go All In. The 1st week I believe God showed us, from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that in order to Go All In, we must be willing to walk with God in every decision and every moment of life. I believe that God showed us that He has a greater cause for our lives and that cause is fleshed out in the moments that really make a difference in the world. For the trio, they were not willing to stand down, to worship a statue that was not God. They were willing to loose there lives for what they believed in, not because it was the right thing to do, but because they trusted God in every situation. They understood that their bodies, their lives, this world is not for them.
Week 2, God taught us that the cause He called us to is not only a big moment by big moment kind of living, but a way of life. We looked at the passage in Matthew where Jesus was calling us to be both salt and light in this world. To be the salt that prevents the decay of this world and to be the light that shows this world a better way to live. I believe that as Christians, we too many times are ok with being the salt. For standing up for truth, for telling people about their sin, but we struggle so many times with being the light. Being the light that shows people a better way to live. And the better way of living is not a list of rules and regulations but freedom from the sins in life that way us down. We also learned that Satan, the Evil one, is out to destroy that. He is out to blind the unbelievers from seeing the light of Christ and out to distract us and lead away from the pure devotion to Christ alone. He misplaces our priorities and tricks us into this kind of Christian Survival Living, where life is too hard to live and Christ is merely the salt and light in our lives, when He has called us to be the salt and light to others.
Tonight we are going to look at a man who so deeply desired to Go All In for God, but there was something else in his life that was competing with the affection of his heart. Something else that was more important to him than the call that God had placed on his life.
Have you guys ever heard of this website on the internet, it’s called YouTube? It’s a website that allows you to put videos on the internet for everyone to see. Let me tell you about this website. The website was started by 3 young business men that used to work for the online payment service- PayPal. Have you heard of PayPal? If you’ve ever bought anything from EBay you’ve had to use PayPal in order to pay for your product. Well, back to these 3 guys…. They used to work for PayPal. For whatever reason, they decided to leave PayPal and start a small online business for themselves. The premises of the business would be to create a website for people to post videos of themselves on the internet. This would be a worldwide access website for anyone in the world to access and use. Well, these guys hit pay dirt a few years ago. The corporation Google bought the rights to YouTube for around 2 million dollars. So these 3 guys who started a small business in there garage called YouTube are now rolling in the dough! Imagine it for a second… what would you do with all that cash? Pay for school? Buy a really rad car? Give it to some charity?
Tonight we are going to talk about another rich young businessman in the Bible. Turn to Mark 10:17-24:
“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good- except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’ Jesus looked at him and love him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’”
This story is recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels. In all three instances we can notice 3 specific things about the man who came to Jesus. 1)He was rich: Vs. 7 seven tells us that he had great wealth. So this guy had a lot of money, a great 401k plan, the best health insurance money could buy, a silver Aston Martin- just like the one off of 007 Casino Royal. This guy didn’t have to worry about money. 2)He was young. In this culture, it was unusual for a young man to be rich. In order to have these great riches, this dude had to make a very good name for himself. Chances are, he was very talented, good looking, and intelligent. 3)He was a ruler. So this young guy, who had lots of money, was also a ruler- meaning he had a lot of power and “say so.” Many scholars suggest that he was in government. The Gospel of Luke actually tells us that he was one of the rulers in the Synagogue. So this guy was probably pretty religious as well. So ladies, this guy was rich, good looking, smart, probably had a good sense of humor, and had a good moral background- the kind of guy any girl would want. The kind of guy most fathers would want for their daughters. The kind of guy most men desire to be.
So Jesus was walking along teaching and this rich young ruler came up to him. One of the 1st things we notice in the story is how this dude came up to Jesus. He came running up to Jesus. In the Jewish culture, rich people did not run. Only the poor folk ran. You would never catch some rich guy running in the streets; they had better sense than that. Then the dude bowed at Jesus’ feet. This is another thing you would never catch a rich guy doing in this day in time.
I believe this tells us something about him. Apparently this guy heard Jesus speaking in another town, in the local coffee shop, or heard from a friend about all the amazing things Jesus was doing and the amazing things Jesus was teaching. Apparently whatever he heard or saw stirred his heart so much that he was willing to run to Jesus and bow at His feet- this guy was seriously moved!
At the Feet
Now, while at Jesus’ feet he asks a question and got a pretty weird response from Jesus. The guy asked, “Good teacher, how can I receive eternal life?” Jesus being the great teacher as he was, answered the question with a question. Jesus responded with, “Why do you call me good? No one is good- except God!” Now, Jesus was not saying He was not God or that He was not good; He was playing a little trick on the guy. Let’s see what Jesus says next: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.” The young ruler told Jesus that he has followed all of the Law. Everything that he was taught, he followed. He was very religious.
Jesus had compassion
The next thing that we see Jesus do was amazing! Mark tells us “Jesus looked at him and loved him…” I am so glad that Jesus looked at me and loved me. When we come to God in our sin, He looks at us and has compassion on us. This guy had done everything that he was told to do while growing up in church. He was a very moral person, a good business man, nice to people- this guy did everything that he was “supposed” to do to be a good citizen. And the Bible tells us that He looked and him and loved him. Why did Jesus need to have compassion on this guy?
The Rich Young Ruler’s Problem
But Jesus noticed that he had a problem. The young ruler had one thing standing in the way of him following Christ- from “Going All In!”
Jesus said, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Jesus saw that this man had one thing that stood between him and following the Christ. Jesus noticed that this man had a love for money.
Scripture talks more about a love for money than it does about anything else! Jesus saw that this man’s love of money, for material things, was standing in the way of him giving all over to God.
The Rich Young Ruler’s face
“At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’”
Can you imagine what this young man felt? He ran to Jesus, he didn’t care what people thought about him, and Jesus asked him to “sell everything and give it to the poor.” Was the man’s offering not enough? Did Jesus not know that this man was crying out to Him for salvation?
The man’s left sad because he didn’t want to sell his possessions.
Now, let’s imagine what Jesus must have felt. A man came to His feet pleading for eternal life. And Jesus asked but one thing of him- sell your possessions. “Go All In” for Me! Trust Me! Give everything over to Me, so that I can lead you! Imagine what went through Christ’ mind as he watch this man walk away, not willing to give everything over to God. Imagine the sorrow that must have come over Christ. Jesus watched this man that was so close to taking the step of faith, choose to keep his possessions over life in Christ.
What are you holding back? What is the one thing that is stopping you from “Going All In” to Christ? Is there anything that is more important to you than Jesus? Jesus is pleading with us tonight- Give everything up for Me! Trust Me! Go All In for Me! I love you!
No money may not be your problem…
There were other men in Scripture who came to Christ, they had great wealth as well. For some, Jesus only told them to sell half of their belonging. For others, Jesus never asked them to give anything up.
Now, some of you are thinking, “Whew! I thought I was going to have to give up my Xbox or I’m going to have to give up my cell phone.” But I’m not letting you out of it that easy!
Jesus knew this Rich Young Ruler’s heart. He knew what stood in the way of true fellowship with him. Jesus knows your heart as well. If there is anything that is standing in the way of you coming to Jesus, let it go! Please! There is life abundant in Christ! He loves you! He desires to have an intimate relationship with you!
I want to read this illustration to you from the Jesus Freak book:
“A Christian is Chosen by Jesus Christ”
“Men choose a religion, but a Christian is chosen by Jesus Christ. To be a Christian means to belong to Christ. Jesus asked me to renounce even my life, to follow Him faithfully, not to fear the world even if my body must perish. I prefer to know that God, the Almighty, is with me, even if it means that the whole world is against me.”
“I am in God’s hands. For 45 years I have walked with the God of miracles, and His goodness is for me a shadow that protects me in His love.”
“The God of Daniel, who protected his friends, protected me during my nine years in prison, and all torments changed to my good, so that I have fullness of love and gratitude.”
“Of all the prophets, Jesus alone was resurrected from the dead, and He remains our living Mediator forever. I gave my life into His hands. For me, life is an opportunity to serve Him, and death is the privilege of getting to be with Him.”
Pastor Mehdi Dibaji of Iran was on trial for his life, and these words were the defense he gave in court. An upper-class Muslim, he and his family converted to Christianity. He had dared to translate Christian radio programs and books into the Farsi language. He was arrested in 1985 and accused of apostasy, denying the Muslim faith. For this, he faced the death penalty.
In Iran, social political pressure is sometimes used to force Christians to recant their new-found faith in Jesus Christ. Some are even tortured. Didaj was imprisoned alone for 2 years alone in a cramped hole with no room to stretch his legs. While he was in prison, his wife, Azizeh, left Dibaj and was forced to marry a Muslim.
When Didaj steadfastly refused to deny his faith, the court condemned him to death. But after one month he was set free because of international attention that had been brought to his case. Soon after this, however, he was found dead in a park. It is believed by some that Islamic leaders had called for his execution.
Despite losing their father, his four children remain faithful to Jesus Christ.
As he faced the court that would sentence him to death, Pastor Didaj said, “I prefer to know that God, the Almighty, is with me, even if it means that the whole world is against me.” He had learned the secret of being able to stand alone among men- standing with God.
Thank You Father, for not placing us in this culture, but forgive us for our laziness in our faith. Forgive us for not standing up for You, when only our popularity is as stake, or when our job is as stake, or when our friends are at stake, or when our school is at stake. Forgive us for not placing You first in our lives!
I want to leave you with one simple thought:
Jesus is calling us to a cause. My desire is for us to hear the calling and respond. The cause is the Advancing of the Kingdom. What’s your response?