Luke 9:23-26 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.?"
A. NOT the Crossroads/Boston Church type of commitment. They assign you a "Prayer Partner" who controls your level of commitment. You are told what to do, when to do it, and what to think about it.
B. But, as with many digressions, there was a perceived need that brought about this false teaching and practice. That need still exists today. There are too many Christians who have entered into "part-time" work, early retirement, or see themselves as only in the Spiritual National Guard (week-end warriors).
C. The Need for commitment today.....
1. We need to wake up & "smell the coffee" as they say. Where is the church heading? I am not saying that we are in trouble. But can't we see that there are too many Christians who fail to be as committed as the should be?
2. It is refreshing to see families who study every day with their children and take time to pray with them. These homes have parents who oversee their children's schoolwork and monitor their TV/reading/movie watching habits, etc. WHY IS THIS SO REFRESHING TO SEE....because it is an oddity. IT SHOULD BE THE NORM!! The church is always only one generation away from total apostasy. WHO WILL LEAD THE NEXT GENERATION?
3. Where is the great activity and stir in the community because of committed men and women teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ? Where are the newspaper articles condemning these "religious zealots?" There are too many communities where their is a church or two wearing the Lord's name but no one really knows who they are or what they stand for.
4. Where is the tremendous love and concern for one another who are "in the Lord" and for the community in which we live? We have found fault with the "liberals" who have engaged the church in building institutions and programs to facilitate this, as well we should any movement away from the scriptural pattern. But this digression came, too, because there was a void that needed filled. THAT VOID IS STILL THERE AMONG THE INSTITUTIONAL AND NON-INSTITUTIONAL BRETHREN ALIKE. God's way is for individual Christians to do this work. WE are to love one another, as well as our fellow man, enough to take care of their needs; not from a sense of duty, but from a heart of compassion.
5. We Need A Movement! Who can we get to start such a movement back to the "old ways?" Should it be the gospel preachers in each community? No doubt they are trying. But we kind of expect that out of them, don't we? If not them, then who??
6. WE NEED NEHEMIAH!! The work on the Lord's house and the walls of Jerusalem had grinded to halt because of men and women who became too busy in their own affairs. Nehemiah heard about it and asked permission to take time off from his job to go and try to do something about it. Why did he take it upon himself to "get the job done?" (Please read this short book if you are concerned about how quickly a generation of people can be turned around.) He was moved to the point of tears because of his great love for the Lord and the things of the Lord.
a. As he a great ruler that people had to follow? No, he was exactly like you and me.
b. Did the job get done through miraculous means? No, just committed workers who put their minds to the task.
7. Could YOU Be the Nehemiah of Your Church?
JESUS said in John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
A. Notice that He didn't say, "Show me your love by keeping my commandments." Jesus is rather telling us that the end result of loving Him is keeping His commandments. If He has your heart He has your obedience. HE WANTS YOUR HEART FIRST!!
In Matt. 10:37-38 Jesus said, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."
B. Commitment to Christ means nothing put him 2nd place. To express that He took our most precious relationships and said that they must take 2nd place to Him. Certainly we are to love our family....but not more than Him. JESUS WANTS 1st PLACE IN YOUR HEART!
In Luke 9 there were those who had seemingly valid reasons to put off serving Him a little longer; "First let me bury my father"..."say goodby to family".....Jesus responded, "Let the dead bury the dead"..."no man having put his hand to the plow & looks back is worthy of me" - JESUS WANTS THE TOTAL COMMITMENT OF YOUR HEART!
C. We can relate this concept to athletics. (Paul did, didn't he?) If one is good at some sport it is because he LOVES the sport. Right? Suppose someone wanted to play basketball because they loved the uniform that they would wear; or wanted to play baseball so that he could meet his father's expectations of him. Obviously these players will perform minimally if at all.
1. Anything you enter into only HALF-HEARTED will never be something that you excel at.
2. A good athlete will be WHOLE-HEARTEDLY involved.
D. To whom/what is YOUR heart committed?
A. Rom. 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
1. That means we must change our will (mind) to be whatever Christ wants it to be.
2. As with team sports, again...I may think the game ought to be played differently...or the coach is calling bad plays.....but if I am committed I must play by the rules and I can't change the play in the huddle.
3. Frank Sinatra may sing boastfully, "I did it my way." But there is no room for that kind of attitude in sports.....or the Lord's work
B. 2 Tim. 2:14-15 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent (STUDY-KJV) to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
1. You've got to know what Christ wants and be willing to do whatever you find out that is.
2. As in sports you've got study to know the rules of the game; and study the team's plays and how they are executed.....In our service to Christ we must study to know the Lord's will
C. To whom/what is YOUR mind committed?
A. John 4:34-35 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. .....38 "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."
1. We MUST BE COMMITTED TO WORK!!.....to His work
2. Again, as we use athletics as our example, to be good at your sport you must work, work, work. Training in agility...perhaps training by running wind sprints every day....weightlifting, etc.
3. Then you must put it all into practice on the field.
B. If we are committed to Christ we will work hard every day training, learning, and practice. We will never claim to not have enough time. Good athletes spend hours in training before daybreak and still go to work or school during the day. If there is one truism that I have seen in life it is 'WE ALWAYS FIND TIME TO DO WHAT WE WANT TO DO."
C. To whom/what is YOUR effort committed?
A. Jesus Was Totally Committed....In and To Relationships
1. Jesus was committed to His Family:
To God - His Father....."I must be about my Father's business"......"Nevertheless, not my will but thine..."
To His Mother......His 1st public recorded miracle was at her request. And on the cross He provided for her as he told John, "Behold, thy mother!"
To His Apostles (Co-workers & Friends)......they were constantly together. And who could read the Gospels and not see how much He loved them?
At Lord's Supper He washes their feet.
2. His Brethren (Both Physical & Spiritual Israel)
CONCERNING PHYSICAL ISRAEL He said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!" Luke 13:34
CONCERNING SPIRITUAL ISRAEL he provided us with the Lord's Supper.
HE IS OUR EXAMPLE of heart-felt service. He was committed to serving His Father because the Father first had His heart. Can anyone deny that Jesus was totally committed IN DOING HIS FATHER'S WILL?
WE MUST FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE AND BE COMMITTED TO OUR RELATIONSHIP
WITH HIM, HIS FATHER, AND OUR BRETHREN!
B. He was Committed To The Purpose of His Father's Will:
1. Luke 2:49 And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"(NKJV) - As a YOUTH
2. "I came to do My Father's will" - Throughout His life
3. "Not My will but Thine be done" - Gethsemane
4. WE MUST FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE AND BE COMMITTED TO THE PURPOSE THAT HE DIED FOR.
C. He was Committed to the Person of His Father:
1. It was obvious how much He loved the Father by the way He prayed often.....and poured out His heart.
2. On the cross we get some insight into the love He had for His Father (Matt. 27:46) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?"
3. WE MUST FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE AND BE COMMITTED TO LOVING JESUS WITH ALL OF OUR HEART!
C. He was Committed To the Work of His Father:
1. John 17:4 "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.
2. WE MUST FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE AND BE COMMITTED TO WORKING WITH HIM AND OUR BRETHREN!
D. Jesus Was Totally Committed..... To the Human Family
1. As One Of US (Humanity):
Heb 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
2. As Best Of US (Leaving an Example):
1 Pet. 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
3. As Savior Of US:
Tit. 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
4. As Teacher Of US:
Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
E. AS OUR EXAMPLE......... Jesus Was Totally Committed...To the Truth
1. What is TRUTH? (John 18:38):
John 17:16 "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. 18 As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth."
2. Why the TRUTH Makes You Free (John 8:32):
2 Cor. 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.
2 John 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have
God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone
comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not
give him a greeting;
Brethren, if there is ever a chance for the church where you attend to be all that Christ would have it to be it must begin with you. If you wait for someone else to start a movement or devise a plan of action, it will never get done. We have too many "followers" in the kingdom. These are good people. People who would do more if someone would lead them. People who want to be used more if someone would show them. People who love the Lord and are willing to follow. But where are the Nehemiahs to lead them? YOU CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE, JUST AS NEHEMIAH DID, IF YOU, BEING TOTALLY COMMITTED, WILL LEAD THE WAY.....TO FOLLOWING CHRIST.