With gratitude for all your good gifts to us, O God, we dedicate these offerings to you. Use them to sow seeds of hope where there is despair, seeds of compassion where there is pain and peace where there is discord. Help us not to grow weary in doing what is right with the resources you have given us. We pray in our Savior's name. Amen.
Matthew 12:43,44 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
You’ve seen the sign before – it means that you must go elsewhere. If there is a vacancy, it means that there may be room for you. Hotel and motel owners work to have a full house, because then they are maximizing their potential and their earnings are higher. When we don’t see Teresa around here on a Sunday morning, it’s because we had a lot of people visit our town. Have too much vacancy and you can’t stay in business – it’s a simple principle.
Spiritually, it is much more important. Emptiness is never attractive, but when a life is empty it is tragic.
EMPTY: Barren, unfruitful. Containing nothing. Deserted, unoccupied. HOLLOW, INSINCERE. Vacant, lacking in value.
Have you ever been driving and ran out of gas?
Have you ever been hungry? Eat? And still be hungry?
Eccles. 6:7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
You might die in the same hospital with people that have wasted their whole lives and are full of hopelessness and complete emptiness, but if you are born into the family of God and your life is truly in Jesus Christ, heaven will go into gear at your death, eternity will record that you are on the way, and there will be somebody to meet you and carry you across to the other side.
Thank God for the life of the Christian, the life lived in sacrifice here but raised in resurrection power on the other side.
Jesus tells a story about emptiness;
Some people don’t ever clean out their house and get it empty. We have people sitting here that have contemplated it for years. They have never quite gotten to the place where they put it all aside because I know I need to get ready for eternity.
If you want to get somewhere with God, you need His help. I want to encourage you to repent today, breathe deeply, and say I’ve had enough with playing around with God, with the habits, and with courting the world.
Make a decisive, repentant step towards God. Cry out, let it go, and quit playing footsies with the world.
Some people cry at the altar, but they never completely sweep it out of their lives.
The man in Jesus’ story was standing right at the edge of complete freedom. He taste
Things are undercover that only you and God know about. Until you come to the place where you say you are going to clean it out, you will never experience the joy of the Lord. If you do that, it will bring a washing, a regeneration, the chorus of heaven down on your head.
Why do people let it back in?
Mark 7:15 – tells us that defilement comes from within. That’s difficult to handle – it’s easier to blame it on your former spouse, the school system, and even the church. Outside forces merely whet the inner appetite of what is on the inside.
Between 2 & 18, most US children see 100,000 see commercials for beer. The AAA says this promotes the idea that to be a “real man” you have to drink beer. Many people are not susceptible, and so it doesn’t affect them.
Those that are already weak fall into the trap.
If you sit in the presence of God and you don’t allow yourself to be influenced by it, you will allow other things to move in and set up housekeeping.
Worship happens because of an effort, it is more than just emotion! We don’t worship because we are overcome by emotion, we worship because He is God. We worship to let Him know by whatever means possible that He is in control of our lives.
Worship doesn’t want to come down and slap you around. God sends the anointing, and you decide if you will reach out and take hold of it. Not because of what you feel, but because of who He is!
If you sit in the presence of the Lord, and you allow yourself to not be influenced by it, you do yourself a great disservice. I don’t stand and worship just because I feel like it, just because I agree with everything that is sung or said, but because He is God and I love His Word! I don’t say amen because I’m excited, I say it because I have confidence in the Word of God!
I didn’t come just out of duty, but I came to let everybody know that our God is first. I don’t praise because I’m emotional, I do it to let my heart know that I am in agreement with the Word. I don’t respond at the end of the message because I have sin in my heart, I do it to train my heart, and thereby let those that I love know that I am in agreement with the Word.
When we see someone fall, we wonder what happened. Just last week they were fine. No, it had been happening a long time and you just saw the last stages of the decay. No wonder the Psalmist said, “Search me, o God, and see if there be any wicked way in me.” It’s possible to be self-centered in success, to get careless and not walk with God when things are going right. Don’t forget that it is God that puts up and God who puts down.
In an hour when you think not, the temptation is back. The last state is worse than the first.
Look how Jesus handled triumph. No big spectacle, no lights, and no crowd. They weren’t even sure that it had happened. Jesus was very guarded about his hour of triumph. The man who had the spirits cast out thought his emptiness was enough.
Cleanliness and emptiness is not godliness. Just because you have committed no sin today doesn’t mean that you are okay. You may not be. Emptiness is not holiness. A Jesus-like character is not enough.
What have you done for the Kingdom that you say you are a part of? A garden is not a treasure because it doesn’t have weeds, it is a treasure because of the flowers and fruits that it produces. When Jesus came, religion was a list of rules. The scripture says that “to him who knows to do right and doeth it not, to him it is a sin.
Jesus cursed the fig tree because it bore no fruit – to be lost it is only necessary to do nothing.
Jesus judgment was not usually against someone that
The five foolish girls weren’t
Emptiness invites occupation. If you came in here hoping you can make it through the day without falling into sin – you’re doomed already.
The only cure for emptiness if fullness. The rehab centers don’t work because they don’t have what it takes to fill up the emptiness.
The modern doctor doesn’t take away – they put in an i.v.- hoping to activate the immune system
Jesus wants to save you from an empty heart.
We worry when you don’t worship – just trying to get you into the flow
If you are delivered from temptation – then don’t stay in touch with it.
Jesus explained with the story of the wheat and tares -
What started Jesus’ first public miracle? FILLING THE EMPTY.
John 2:5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
HOW HARD IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TO GET 150 TO 180 GALLONS OF WATER?
John 2:6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
WHEN YOU FILL THE EMPTY THE MIRACLE GROWS NEAR!
John 2:7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
IT IS EASY TO GET EMPTY WHEN YOU SEEM TO BE AIMLESSLY WANDERING THROUGH DRY SEASONS.
40 days of complaining and bellyaching can cost dearly. Numbers 32:11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:
Their sin? Empty? Not WHOLLY FOLLOWING GOD!
THE BRIGHT DAY OF SOLOMON’S GLORY FADES QUICKLY INTO DOOM AND DARKNESS.
The history show Solomon’s decline to a terrible fall as a sad, sad record. As Solomon aged, he spent more and more time just being idle. His idleness was spent living among 1,000 women.
SOLOMON’S PALACES BECAME KNOWN AS PLEASURE DENS.
SLOW --- GRADUAL DRIFTING OFF COURSE CAN HURT!
1 Kings 11:7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,
AT FIRST SOLOMON TOLERATED THE STRANGE WOMEN AND THEIR gods.
This interest was first curiosity then IMITATING the heathen way.
IN SOLOMON’S MIND HE DID NOT STOP THE SACRIFICES AND WORSHIP AT THE TEMPLE, BUT SLOWLY THE ISSUES OF THE HEART TURNED SOLOMON’S WORSHIP TO NOT BE RIGHT WITH GOD.
Solomon’s emptiness left him WITHOUT RELIGIOUS FERVOUR and ZEAL. This SPIRIT OF EMPTINESS brought GOD’S DISPLEASURE and eventually JUDGMENT. SOLOMON’S ENEMIES PREVAIL, and Solomon becomes famous for saying, VANITIES OF VANITY all is vanity.
USELESS, USELESS ALL THINGS ARE USELESS.
Solomon’s great sin? EMPTINESS!
PAGAN --- HEATHENS KNEW NOT TO SEND THE ARK OF THE COVENANT BACK EMPTY.
The enemy had possession of the visible sign of God’s presence.
The enemy knew to send the ARK back.
1 Samuel 6:3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye
shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
THEY SENT THE ARK BACK WITH GOLD ON BOARD.
Haggai 1:6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
GOD HAS BLESSINGS FOR YOU TO SPILL OUT ON OTHERS!
Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
You have been designed to be FULL! John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.