February 20, 1994
Don't Lose Track - It Could Wreck Your Train of Thought
Theme: Week 2; 50 Day Adventure - Dare to Dream Again
Track God's Involvement in the Everyday - not so much to track God's involvement in the everyday, but not to lose sight of God's involvement because of the everyday.
Hymns: Ending; "Every Day With Jesus"
"Count Your Many Blessings"
Scripture Passage : Matthew 24:36-51; 25:1-46
I. Life as Usual
A. The Day and Hour Unknown Mt 24:36-51
Everything going along as planned-as it was from the beginning-eat, drink, marry, etc.. Except Noah. The rest of the people weren't tracking God's involvement. Noah was probably preaching and building for up to 100 years, but nobody caught on. They were caught up in the day to day as the day got closer (Iowa Flood). The Day of Christ is also coming. The 2 men in the field and the 2 women at the mill are the same except that one is spiritually alert and the other is not. The one is like a spy in Satan's territory awaiting the day of invasion. One eye is on the task, the other eye on the heavens, living as a stranger here in reverent fear. (1Pet 1:17b). The other has both eyes on the task, absorbed by it, maybe even defeated by it.
Mary and Martha
38. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
The day and hour maybe unknown but God's promise is not unknown. The invasion must come without warning so we must be ready. We must not lose track of God's involvement. The parable of the wicked servant reveals one danger of losing track. We think Christ will never return so we ask, "Why not sin, what's the difference?" And we take God for granted. This is a favorite tactic of the enemy. Another one is to convince us we are already sinners so what does more sin hurt? But God has called us to repentance through Christ to live holy lives in anticipation of his return as a holy bride fit for his Kingship. Dare we lose sight?
II. Keep Watching - Keep Your Eye on the Goal
A. The Parable of the Ten Virgins Mt 25:1-13
Ten men worked at the same job on an assembly line in an automobile factory. Previously that week, management promoted the idea of quality circles to enhance production. The men were encouraged to organize into two groups (for friendly competition with reward enhancement) and give their group a name for identity. The first group of 5 men decided to call themselves the "Totals". The second group of 5 men decided on the name "Subtotals". Management later came by and asked the Subtotals to describe their job as they saw it. "We're placing these nuts on these bolts" was the reply. Management then asked the "Totals" to describe their job to which they replied, "We're helping to assemble an automobile." You see, the "Totals" had decided to go down to the end of the assembly line and take a look at the finished product. They had their eyes on the goal. Needless to say, they won the competition and all got a steak dinner on management for enhanced production.
It is like this with the ten virgins. We must keep watch, but a great deal depends on where we set our sights The five virgins without enough oil were not prepared to look ahead far enough through the night. They only had enough oil to get to the house but not enough to stay for the party. If our eye is on the goal we are encouraged toward its achievement. Let's see this party through to the end, let's finish the work day so we can go home.
It also makes a difference which direction we watch - forward or backward. The "Subtotals" lost before they started because all they could see was boxes and boxes of bolts and nuts they had to assemble. They couldn't visualize the automobile and became discouraged with the tedium and routine of the day to day. The five virgins without enough oil had to go back for more only to find the party started without them and they couldn't get in. The automobile was built and rolled off the assembly line while they were still fiddling with the nuts and bolts.
What is the end product? Is it you, is it me, our kids, others to whom we are accountable? Perhaps it is the Kingdom of God and our part in it. God has given us the big picture. There will be a return of the bridegroom. There will be a wedding banquet. We must remain prepared and not lose heart nor lose sight because we lost hope in waiting.
8. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
9. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
This is where last weeks' message fits in. We must let go of our painful past because it impedes our spiritual progress down the assembly line of God's grace. We focus in the wrong direction on the nuts and bolts of pain rather than on the process of sanctification leading to glorification. In the nuts and bolts of your painful past is a Mercedez rolling through the gates of heaven as a Coach for the King.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Bug Zapper Illustration
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.
Before I came here I worked as receiving manager for a WalMart Store in Iowa. I had to move a lot of freight and it was extreme physical labor. I got depressed and started to question what eternal value this had in the Kingdom of God and I read a book called, Your Work Matters to God, by Sherman and Hendricks and started to view my job differently. I was able to support what I did on the basis I was helping to provide many needed necessities to people at the lowest possible cost who otherwise couldn't afford them. I was helping to make their lives more bearable and enjoyable so mine became more bearable and enjoyable. I was then able to endure the daily grind until God took me to a different one (smile).
It's like the ten virgins set out on a trip to Colorado Springs (which I understand has replaced Wheaten as the religious mecca of the U.S.). They had enough gas to get to the airport but five of them forgot their plane tickets. How serious were they about going?
Or ten guys go deer hunting but five of them only bring along enough shells to sight in their guns before opening day and all the stores are sold out. They didn't have enough bang for the buck.
Dare to dream, but don't day dream.
I was once deer hunting. It was mid morning and I hadn't seen a thing so I walked down a draw and leaned up against a tree to block my silhouette and waited. I grew tired and sat down and fell asleep. There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground. A little while later I woke up and saw the biggest tracks of any buck I'd ever seen. They went right up the draw, passing within 3 feet of me. I ran up the draw following the tracks to the top of the hill only to catch a glimpse of the confirmation of what I missed. The bridegroom was there but I missed him. A line in Rudyard Kipling's Poem, If, came back to me, "If you can wait and not grow tired by waiting, you'll be a man my son." (I recommend all fathers get this poem for their sons. My father's parents gave a framed copy of this poem to me when I graduated from high school.)
18. Where there is no vision the people perish.
Don't lose sight of the goal in the routine of the day to day. Be assured of Christ's return. Live every day in anticipation. Be prepared for his coming. Allow him to do his good work in you. It may just be that some of the trials and tribulations of life serve the purpose of shaking up our routine enough to refocus on the goal and we will dare to dream again.
III. Keep Working - Keep Your Eyes on the Task
A. The Parable of the Talents Mt 25:14-28
1. Spiritual Context
Like a pastor, who in the heart of revival, receives an urgent message from the home office to go there and calls the elders to carry on the ministry. To one he gives 5 Bibles, to another 2 and another 1. The elder with 5 Bibles gains 5 converts, the elder with 3 Bibles gains 2 converts, but the elder with 1 Bible goes and puts it in his desk drawer because "you never know who might come along and ask for a Bible someday." After awhile the pastor returns to find the elder with 5 Bibles gained 5 converts and puts him in charge of discipling them. The elder with 3 Bibles who gained 2 converts was put in charge of discipling them. But the elder who hid the Bible in his desk drawer said, "I knew you were a driven preacher, making inroads into the community where none existed before so I put your Bible in my desk drawer, not wanting to give it to just anybody and no one came along and asked for it, so here it is back to you without even one rumpled page." The pastor replied, "So you thought I was a driven preacher! It was so you would have a driven witness. Give the Bible to the elder with 5 disciples for Jesus Christ."
2. Worldly Context
Heb 4:12 (with liberty) The Word of God is like a many shrapneled grenade, splintering off to who knows where and gaining people's attention.
Like a sergeant, who in the heat of battle, receives an urgent message to return to base camp and calls his privates to entrust the battle to them. To one he gives 5 grenades, to another 2 and another 1. The private with 5 grenades takes 5 hills, the private with 2 grenades takes 2 hills, but the private with 1 grenade went and dug a hole in the ground and said "mine". (A mine is like a large underground grenade.) After a time the sergeant returns to find the private with 5 grenades took 5 hills and he puts him in charge of the occupation force on those 5 hills. The private with 2 grenades took 2 hills and he puts him in charge of the occupation force on those 2 hills. But the private who received 1 grenade and said "mine" told the sergeant, "I knew you were a hard fighter, taking back much ground from the enemy so I buried your grenade and went and hid in my foxhole but nobody ever came along and stepped on the mine. Here is your grenade back." The sergeant replied. "You lilly-livered private! So you know I am a hard fighter. Then you should have gone out and taken a hill. Take his grenade from him and give it to the private with 5 hills.
We are not to be paralyzed by fear of the enemy but motivated by fear of God.
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
We are not to let the heat of everyday battle (and it may be a battle of boredom) drive us to the foxhole but to the front lines. This is a stand up fight - not a sit down one. We have a stand up God - not a sit down one. Don't get depressed into a foxhole but stand up and depress the enemy. Our God is a hard fighter. It's the enemy that is lilly-livered. Don't cover your light under a bushel the size of a foxhole but stand up and reflect the light of Jesus Christ into a blinding glare like a laserbeam for the Lord in the face of the enemy. It is he who cannot stand. It is he who will be ultimately depressed into the foxhole of hell. Our lot is light - his is darkness.
14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Our God is a God of action, not apathy. Through Jesus we can dare to dream because his deity has dumbfounded the destroyer and dashed his hopes of death and darkness for God's people into the dungeon of damnation.
I Cor 15:57-58
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
IV. The Rewards are Great - Keep Your Eye on the Prize
A. The Sheep and the Goats Mt 25:31-46
I don't want to be a Pharisee
Cause a Pharisee ain't fair, you see?
I don't want to be a Sadducee
Cause a Sadducee is sad, you see?
I don't want to be a goat, nope
Cause a goat ain't got no hope, nope!
I just want to be a sheep, baa
Cause a sheep is His to keep, baa.
Christ will separate the sheep and the goats at the end of the age based upon salvation by faith in him which is evidenced by the good fruit of works of righteousness in our treatment of others.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
20. whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
Active love is evidence of salvation, not the attainment of it. The reward is eternal life.
Have we shared with others?
The Rise and Fall of Civilization
Great Courage Apathy
Spiritual Faith Dependency
Bondage <-200 years-> Bondage
It is more difficult to remain a deeply committed Christian in the midst of prosperity than under adversity.
Track your involvement in the everyday. What difference did God make to someone else through you today? The righteous in this parable exemplify true humility, not noticing the good they did as a matter of course. Be encouraged. See in fact how God is using you day to day. The unrighteous didn't notice the good they could do. Their focus was not on the Kingdom to come but on the deceitfulness of this life. Gal 6:9-10