If A Will ... Then A Way

Sun, Feb 19, 2017
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:25 mins 32 secs

Message text

IF A WILL … THEN A WAY Luke 9:23 – 27 & Matthew Chapter 6

Back in 1999 Eddie Stankey died at the age of 83.
Now you might ask – who is Eddie Stankey?
I'm glad you asked.
According to Time magazine - Eddie Stankey “was a pugnacious, pennant-winning 2nd baseman.” He battled his way through 11 seasons for the champion Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves and New York Giants.
Branch Rickey - the Dodgers general manager - said of him:
“He can’t run, he can’t hit and he can’t throw. But if there’s a way to beat the other team, he’ll find it.” (Time Magazine 6/21/99)
Let me see if I've got this right.
Stankey couldn't run very well.
He couldn't hit very well.
And he couldn't throw the ball very well
I don’t know much about baseball, but I’m pretty sure that’s just about all there is to do on baseball team. But despite that, winning teams wanted him on their team playing 2nd base.
Why? Because, if there was a way to beat the other team, he found it.
Someone once observed that
“A man who wants to do something - will find a way;
a man who doesn't - will find an excuse."
In our text this morning, we find Jesus telling His disciples that He’s not looking for people … who are looking for excuses. He’s looking for people who want to do something for Him so badly they will find a way.
Jesus declared in Luke 9:23: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Now what does that mean?
Well, it means to regarding something else to be more important than yourself.
It means placing a higher priority on what Jesus wants than on what you want.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said it this way in Matthew 6:33:
“…seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Now, a lot of folks look at Jesus words there and think this is some kind of suggestion.
“If I want to seek His kingdom first… that’s OK. But if I don’t… well, that’s OK too.”
But that is NOT what Jesus meant. This wasn't a “suggestion” by Jesus.
These were marching orders.
And how do I know this wasn't a suggestion?
Because Jesus said in Luke 9:23: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
If you’re going to follow Jesus your first priority is His Kingdom and His Righteousness.
If those are not your priorities then you’re just a fan of Jesus. You’re not a follower.
In our sermon last Sunday morning we said that Fans stick around as long as things go their way. If things don’t go their way… FANS walk away.
FOLLOWERS, by contrast, stick around and stick it out because it isn't about them. It’s about the one that they follow… the one that they “seek first” in their lives. The one who is the priority in their lives.
As was pointed out in that sermon, you can see FANS at just about any football or basketball game. Fans are the ones that - when their team is 30 points behind in the last 10 minutes of the game they pick up their coats and they head for the door.
They came to see their team win… not lose.
The FANS weren't there for the team.
The Team was supposed to be there for THEM.
But that didn't happen… so they walked away.
They’re not there for the team.
So what is THE TEAM for Christians?
There are Christians out there who believe that all they need to be committed to is Jesus. They believe they don’t need to be committed to anything or anyone else. And I can understand that.
We are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily and follow HIM!
But Jesus said “seek ye first (what?) His Kingdom and His Righteousness”
And here in our text this morning found in Luke 9:27, Jesus said “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the KINGDOM of God.”
What that tells me is that some of those disciples - who were there with Jesus in that first century - were going to see the Kingdom of God before they died.
In Mark 9:1 Jesus said pretty much the same thing "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come WITH POWER."
So some of these disciples would not die before they saw the Kingdom of God come with power.
When might that power have come???
Well, after Jesus rose from the dead, He told his disciples to “… stay in (Jerusalem) until you have been clothed with POWER from on high.” Luke 24:49
And that they would “… receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you..." Acts 1:8
So they’d been promised they would see the Kingdom of God come with power, and on Pentecost they received that power. That would mean the Kingdom of God had come at Pentecost.
So what was this Kingdom of God Jesus spoke of?
You’re looking at it.
The Kingdom of God is the church.
We (you and I) are THE TEAM.
Thus, part of picking up my cross daily and following Jesus is MAKING THE CHURCH a priority in my life.
How many of you have ever heard someone say:
“I can be just as good a Christians without going to church”?
Now, that’s a lie.
No one can be just as good a Christian without being part of a church.
Let’s put this in perspective. In Ephesians 4, Paul writes to husbands on how they should treat their wives. And in that passage he tells us how much Jesus loves the church. He died to establish her. The Church is HIS bride.
In Ephesians 4:25-30 husbands are told to
“…love your wives, JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH and GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he FEEDS AND CARES FOR IT, JUST AS CHRIST DOES THE CHURCH—for we are members of his body.”
Did you catch what that is saying?
Jesus loves the church so much that He has invested Himself in her.
He is constantly working inside the church to mold us and shape us into the radiant and holy bride that He desires us to be. He is not distant from us… He is constantly devoted to us to make us what He wants us to be.
If that’s the type of priority Jesus has placed on His church – on His Kingdom – shouldn't I be just as committed to making the church as successful and effective as I can?
Shouldn't the church be my priority too?
Christianity was never meant to be a “Lone Ranger” type of religion. That’s why there’s such an emphasis on “one anothering” throughout the New Testament. The Bible repeatedly says for us to
• Love one another – John 13:34
• Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10
• Live in harmony with one another – Romans 12:16
• Accept one another – Romans 15:7
• Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
• Bear one another’s burdens – Galatians 6:1
• Be kind and compassionate to one another – Ephesians 4:32
• Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21
And on… and on… and on.
You can’t do “one anothering” if there’s not another “one another” around to do some one anothering to. You can’t do this “one anothering” all by yourself. You've got to have another “one another” there.
And you can’t get more one anothers together in one place than you have right here at church.
If we love Jesus, this body of believers is a high priority to us.
If we don’t love Jesus… then this church will be a place where we just SIT.
And that’s what FANS do at games - they just sit there.
Well, yeah. They do cheer… and they buy hot dogs and soft drinks.
But that’s about all they do.
They paid good money for that seat, and that’s all they intend to do.
Just sit there.
And there’s people who do that at Church who just SIT there.
Now, why would they do that?
Why would some people just sit there?
Well, 1st because that is what they've been trained to do.
All of you are sitting out there and you’re facing the same direction.
Towards me!

You sit like that long enough you begin to think that church is a spectator sport. That you all are the cheering section and that the teachers, preachers, song leaders, etc. are the performers. But as you grow in your faith you begin to realize that this isn't all there is about Christianity. That you need to be involved in making things happen and work for Christ.
But there’s another problem.
A lot of folks don’t think they've got anything to contribute… so they don’t.
Now, just as an experiment here, let me take a poll.
• How many of you here wouldn't be comfortable leading the singing?
• How many of you don’t know enough about computers to help with the sound system, the webpage, online Bible Correspondence courses, etc.
• How many of you wouldn't know how to teach a class?
• How many of you wouldn't know how to give a devotion?
Well then, what good are ya!
Now, I’m just joking. But in reality, that’s how a lot of folks think.
They think “I can’t do this, and I can’t do that, so I've really nothing to contribute.
So, I’ll just sit here and cheer…
And that’ll be my contribution.
You remember what they said about Eddie Stankey?
“He can’t run, he can’t hit and he can’t throw.”
And there are people in church who figure they can’t hit, they can’t run and they can’t throw. So they think – what difference could I make?
If that’s how Eddie Stankey had thought, nobody would have wanted him on their team.
But you see, Jesus isn't looking for someone with talent.
He’s looking for someone who will do whatever it takes to make a difference in this world for Him and for His church.
Jesus isn't looking for folks who are capable.
He’s looking for the folks who are available.
Jesus said “If ANYONE who would come after me”
And He had fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes. All kinds of uneducated and unworthy folks following him all because He said (and meant) ANYONE.
It helps to understand what life was like back in that day.
Jesus was a Rabbi, and Rabbis back then were a special class of people. They knew the Bible inside and out.
Most people didn't end up being the students of rabbis. These candidates had to be a cut above the rest. They had to have an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures and they would be quizzed by their rabbi to find out how much they knew.
Sometimes they’d be asked to recite an entire book of the Old Testament. Or they might be asked to tell the number of times the name of the Lord was used in the 11th chapter of Leviticus.
As you can imagine not just anyone could be a student of famous Rabbis.
Followers of those Rabbis had to be a cut above the rest.
But Jesus said: “ANYONE” could be His follower.
The Fishermen, the Tax Collectors, the sinners, and the prostitutes.
They didn't have to have an extensive knowledge of the Bible.
They didn't need to be able to answer all the Bible questions on a TV game show.
They didn't need to be able to recite all the books of the Bible or know the names of the 12 minor prophets.
But there was ONE qualification that you HAD to meet to follow Jesus:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Luke 9:23-24 KJV
Jesus was declaring that it isn't how much you know or how much you are skilled at. It is how much are you willing to DO for me?
CLOSING: Advertising tycoon Albert D. Lasker requested that one of his top executives move from California to the New York office. The man refused, so Lasker took a new tack.
A few days later, he called the executive into his office and said “I have just made my will. I have designated you to succeed me as head of the business. This means that you will have to leave California when the time comes. Do you agree?”
"You will do that for me?"
"You would do that for me when I am dead?"
"Yes," repeated the executive.
"Then, why," demanded Lasker, "won't you do it for me while I'm alive?"
The executive relented.
What made the difference for that executive? Why was he not willing to move before… and then changed his mind? It was because he believed something was in the near future. Something that would dramatically change his life for the better. Once he believed that, he changed his attitude toward making the move.
So let me ask the question this way: If you knew that Jesus was going to come back in one year’s time… how would you live your life differently? If you knew this world would end in the next 12 months what would you do?
• Would you take on a ministry you’d never considered doing before
• Would you forgive that person you've hated for years?
• Would you talk to that friend or relative who you know would end up in hell?
But perhaps the most important question we should consider this morning is this:
If you knew Jesus was coming back within the year - and you haven’t made your decision to be HIS follower - would you make that decision today?
Would you decide it’s time to act on your faith that Jesus is the Son of God?
Would you be willing to repent of your sins and turn your life toward Jesus?
Would you be willing to be buried with him in baptism?
And would you be willing to seal the deal, by being a FAITHFUL follower until death?

Reference Sermon
Jeff Strite
September 2014


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