- Great people can come from all different strata of society. The thing they all have in common is sensitivity to human need and the desire to do something about it.
- Greatness is also the result of the most complicated of events, woven together by God in time, so that the opportunity for greatness is literally thrust upon these individuals.
- John’s was a greatness called forth by a particular, God-ordained moment in history. It was a greatness thrust upon him.
The ministry of John the Baptist…..
- Pointed to the King whose coming would give greatness a new definition.
Pointed to the King whose coming would make great changes in “small places”.
- Jesus new measure of greatness is “…if any man would be great among you he must be the servant of all.”
Pointed to the King who would bring salvation with Him.
- The changes Jesus’ Kingdom brings are totally unexpected.
- The great changes Jesus brings about are regeneration and renewal. Men and women are put in touch with God on a personal level. The changes in “small places” refer to the hearts and spirits of men and women.
- God doesn’t act in history without a reason. God sent Jesus because we needed Him!
- The King has come once already, but He waits to come again. Right now, see Him, bow before Him, confess your faith in Him, and enter into your worship and service of Him.
How do you deal with yourself when you have been overtaken in a sin?
- Don’t minimize the sin.
Don’t dwell on the past.
- Three ways in which our guilty souls seek to avoid the admission of guilt:
- Don’t tamper with the labels.
- Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that sin is ever justified by circumstances.
- Don’t convince yourself that morality varies from age to age.
Don’t fail to claim a perfect cure.
- Two helps to forgiving yourself:
- Your unwillingness to forgive yourself is a form of spiritual pride.
- God can use sin.
- It is impossible to make people good!
- God doesn’t force us, and we can’t force others.
- So is it useless to spend our time and energy in work and prayer for a new order of things?
- By no means! There is a great and essential task we have to do. God depends on our doing it.
- We are to “remove the stones” by having a Christian concern for social reform.
We must “raise a banner for the nations”.
- We can’t force people to goodness, but we can construct an unobstructed way.
When people feel drawn to the way of Christian discipleship, attracted by the banner of your joy, there must be no cowardice or faltering on our part when they say they want what we have. We must be ready to point them to Jesus!
- How can we make the road to heaven inviting?
- We must make righteousness appealing and set goodness in a beautiful light.
- We do this best by letting our light shine before others.
- Joy is like the light in the church. It allows those outside the church to see the beauty that is there.
How can we be citizens of the Kingdom of God? Let me begin by sharing three ways by which you can’t become a citizen of heaven.
- There is no way you can work your way into the Kingdom of God.
Birth isn’t enough to make you a citizen of the Kingdom of God.You can’t become a citizen of heaven by honorary presentation; not even a religious one!
- Our “good works” will never get us into heaven. At our best we are, in the words of the Parable of the Talents, “worthless servants”.
How then can one become a citizen of heaven?
- You become a citizen of the Kingdom of God by redemption.
“redemption” = “you can buy your way in”
- This doesn’t mean you can reach the Holy City by some display of wealth or generosity.
- Paul says we are redeemed through Christ’s blood.
- So, be repentant and accept the sacrifice made on your behalf. Don’t let anything hinder you from claiming citizenship in that city whose builder and maker is God!
- An ambassador is one who represents his/her own country in an alien land.
An ambassador always has direct access to the President he/she represents.
- Are you living up to your ambassadorial status?
- Is your home an embassy of heaven?
As Christians we have a special mission; we are to be ambassadors of reconciliation.Sooner or later every ambassador is relieved of his/her post.
- Nothing need ever interrupt our communication with Jesus…except our neglect or indifference.
- So many people fail as Christian ambassadors because they don’t maintain communication with their King.
- The problem of every ambassador, if he/she is to remain loyal to their commission, is to be true all the time to his/her primary allegiance.
We hear a great deal about the hurt of unanswered prayer. What about the hurt of answered prayer?
- The answer our prayers receive isn’t always the answer our hearts desire.
Be prepared for the hurt of this --- God shows men and women themselves.
- You take a certain risk when you turn to God for guidance. You expose yourself to certain unsuspected possibilities. He is so fiercely intolerant of sin; He is so passionate for our highest good that He may tell us things we would almost rather not have known.
- Yet to turn to God for light is of all things in the world the wisest thing any person could do. You never know yourself until you see yourself in Him.
We must go into the light with God. Pain or no pain, we must march on.
- God holds up the mirror of Jesus before us, and, when we see ourselves in Him, we see our lack of service and assess the measure of our sin.
- You can turn your back on Christ when He puts His finger on something in your life He doesn’t approve, but, by turning your back, you haven’t cleansed your heart, nor has the peace of God seeped into your soul, nor has the joy of life set you apart from those around you.
- Jesus’ hands were labor-worn hands.
Jesus’ hands were tender hands.
- The ancient attitude toward manual labor was that they despised it. It was the occupation of slaves. Some of that pagan spirit has come down to the modern world.
- Think of the dignity of human labor. See it in the labor-worn hands of Jesus.
Jesus’ hands were pierced hands.
- A hand can be tender without being soft.
- The hardest part of suffering for Christians is the dark hour when they are tempted to believe that God is not with them in it.
- Have you ever wanted a symbol for sin? That nail would serve as well as anything.
- That is what sin always does. It nails the hand of God.
- If we could pull that nail out what would the hand do? It would move out instantly to serve and bless.
- In this world today, God has no hands but those of committed followers who want to give their hands to Him.
“Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love.”
~ Mother Teresa
- The whole creation groans (v. 22).
- We ourselves groan inwardly (v. 23).
- To have joy and inward groans is the tension in which the Christian daily lives; joy at this personal salvation groans at a world adrift from God.
The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (v. 26).
- Suffering Humanity
- The Half-Impotent Church
- At the center of the universe there is a loving God.
- In my view, the most awful thing any human mind can conceive is atheism. There is nothing to believe in!
- All true progress in this world is by the echo of the groan of God in the heart of humankind.
- Is the groan in the heart of God the answer to the groan in creation?
- Paul bound sinful humanity and the groaning universe together. He said that when humankind is free from sin, the agony of the universe will be over.
- God last word is not a groan, but joy, joy, joy!
- We don’t all travel along the road of Christian discipleship at the same rate.
- Why do some people travel faster?
- They have received “God’s abundant provision of grace”. With eager longing they have opened themselves to it!
= God’s undeserved mercy in redeeming humankind
= God’s power offered to humans for their sanctification
- The people who have sped past us on the road of Christian discipleship have received more of that power which God imparts unmerited and free.
- Why have these people received more grace than others?
- They knew that this grace was there to be had.
- They wanted it passionately.
- They received it; “grace for grace”.
- Our capacity to receive grace at any level depends on our use of it at a lower level.
The law knows nothing about “approval”. The law is to be obeyed.
- There are some laws which apply only to the people who accept them.
There are some laws that vary depending upon locale.
- When you are thinking about the law of God, you can only take it. If you break it, ultimately it will break you.
There are some laws that change with the passing of time.
- Whatever may be true of the laws and customs of communities, states and nations, the law of the Lord does not vary with locality.
- The laws of God have been the same in every age.