Burn The Ships
Luke 9:62, Philippians 3:12-14
"Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."" (Luke 9:62 NIV)
A man was doing some shopping at a commissary on a military base. His goal was to run in and back out quickly because he didn’t need much. He grabbed what he needed; a loaf of bread and some coffee. With these items in hand he went to the check-out line. As he stood there he looked around and noticed a woman in line behind him. She had a cart piled full of groceries, clothing, and a VCR. Soon it was his turn to pay and the clerk behind the register invited him to pull a piece of paper from a fishbowl.
"If you pull out the correct slip of paper then your purchase is free," she informed him
"How many correct slips are there?"
So he reached in to try. The bowl was so full and his chances were slim, but he figured why not try anyway. He did and to his amazement he pulled out the correct slip. His joy was short lived when it dawned on him that he was only buying coffee and bread. Without missing a beat he turned to the woman standing behind him with the full cart (remember the one with the mountain of stuff) and said to her...
"Honey, what do you know, we won! We don’t have to pay a penny for our stuff!"
The woman stared at him, saw him wink and decided to play along. She stepped up beside him, put her arm in his and just grinned. For a moment they stood arm in arm, side by side, joined together by good fortune.
The reason I share that with you is that each of us, like the woman in the line, has been given a great, unexpected gift. The father has loved us and given so much and we are invited to spend eternity with him. But what a great story we have to tell everyone we meet!
Once you have met him, you begin what I believe is an incredible adventure, an adventure that once begun means never turning back around to where you were before, but instead an adventure that allows you to grow and become what he has called you to be.
In the spring of 1519, Hernando Cortez landed with his company on the Eastern Mexican shoreline. They began to explore and fight for this new world. With six thousand men they set foot in Mexico only to discover a very rough terrain and hostile Indians. Against this tough backdrop some of his men decided it would be easier if they could just go back home and began to talk about leaving. Cortez with a revolt on his hand, did an unexpected thing, he had all of their ships burned. That’s right, he had them set on fire. Now with no way to escape, their leader looked at his men an informed them, "You will try or die!"
For them there was no going back. Steven Curtis Chapman took this story and put a spiritual spin on it. He wrote:
"Burn the ships, we’re here to stay, there is no way we can go back now since we’ve come this far by faith. Burn the ships, we’ve passed the point of no return, our lives are here so let the ships burn."
I think in Scripture we see some strong teaching that we need to keep moving forward in our journey of faith. If you would keep reading I would like to point out a couple of things.
In Luke 9:62 we read, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
1. First, I think we see the advice to Burn the ships and Plow On! A principle of plowing is that the farmer must keep looking forward if he is to plow a straight line. It is simple, you must keep your sights set toward the goal in front of you.
Ø Plowing refers to your focus - on what have you set your sight.
Ø Plowing also points us to the preparation for _planting__ and a harvest. What is God interested in seeing grow?
Sometimes I am afraid that we don’t always give our growth a lot of emphasis. Yet the call of Christ is a call to grow. We must set our sights forward and on Him so that we can grow a deeper relationship with Him. If we keep our sights on Him, this is easier. When we become distracted by other things it can become more of a struggle.
What is the Harvest? For what do we look to Christ, expecting Him to grow?
· Your __relationship_ with Christ
· Our __growth__ as a church
- What we can accomplish together
2. Remember that, but not only should we plow on by looking straight ahead we also need to Burn the ships and Press On!
In the book of Philippians, chapter three, verses 12-14 we read,
"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. 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, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Ø The words "take hold of" are military in origin and refer to ___taking_ __new_ __land__.
conquering new land. In other words, no looking back, no resting on past accomplishment, straining forward, we keep pressing on.
Ø Two things that often cause us to give up:
· Putting our energy into things that are not the most _important_ for us.
Here is another way to think of it, "be like a postage stamp, stick to something until you get there."
When comedian Jeff Foxworthy had his own sitcom, his set was around the corner from the Seinfeld set. One night Jeff and some of his cast members got the idea to play a practical joke: They swiped Jerry Seinfeld's golf cart and decorated it "Southern Style" Then they prepared themselves for a battle of pranks with the Seinfeld cast.
They waited...but nothing ever happened. One day Jeff ran into Jerry and asked about it. Seinfeld's reply was, "We kept talking about ways to get even, but then we got so busy working we never came up with anything."
Foxworthy says that made him think: "Jerry's show is number one every week and our show is number seventy...maybe this is why!"
Successful people and successful churches don't easily get sidetracked with things that pull their energy away from what really matters!!
· _Discouragement_ or pressure that simply wears us down.
- A second way we often get side-tracked is by just getting tired -- we become discouraged by the opposition we face or by the difficulty of the task.
What does it take to make you give up?
What you and I face in this country? It's nothing compared to the price Christians and Churches are paying everyday around the world. PRESS ON!
3. The last thing to remember is to Burn the ships and Party On! In John 10:10b we read
"The thief's purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." John 10:10 (TLB)
Ø Jesus spoke of life in terms of a __celebration___.
. It is a celebration of living a life that He has called us to and we need to be excited about that.
Ø He constantly attended family and community social events, joining in the _joy_ of a party.
Ø Jesus was misunderstood by the long-faced religious crowd and they accused him of being a drunk.
Ø Jesus simply enjoyed _people__, _circumstances__, and _God_. This is abundant living!
Ø Refuse to __settle____ -- when God has so much more He wants you to experience.
Don’t settle for less than what He has planned for you, don’t rob yourself of the chance to experience all that He has in store for you. just don’t allow that to happen.
The reason that we must keep on going is because there is a celebration that we are in the midst of. A couple went away on their honeymoon and arrived at their hotel in the wee hours of the morning and checked in. They opened the door to their room, saw a little room with no view, one closet door, one bathroom door, no flowers, and not even a bed, just a pull out sofa with a lumpy mattress. But because it was late and they were tired, they stayed. The next morning the man vented his anger at the hotel manager. The manager acted very surprised that the room wasn’t satisfactory. He informed the man that they were staying in the finest room in the entire hotel. The manger accompanied the man back to the room and walked in and stepped to what the couple had thought was a closet door. He opened it and they discovered that it was not a closet at all, instead it was a spacious bedroom with flowers, fruit basket, a balcony with a view and more. While they had been cranky, cramped, and uncomfortable...comfort was just a door away.
They had settled for where they were and never thought that there could be more. Sometimes we are that way spiritually, we settle for where we are, forgetting that the adventure never ends and there is so much more to experience and do...you think about it.
- Be honest. If you were a spiritually lost man/woman and you looked into your small group or circle of friends, -- would you want what they have?
- If the answer is yes, great! Keep it up!
- If the answer is no, then let's step back, get re-connected with the Lord who came to give us life, and hope, and joy, and purpose. Then, maybe Harnett County will be interested in hearing our message, accepting our Lord, and joining our churches!
Nobody wants to go to a party thrown by phonies in their own honor! Nobody wants to go to a party where everyone has chosen a clique and they stand in a tight circle, making it hard to break into the conversation.
We simply need more "Dolly Madison Christians". Dolly Madison was known all over D.C. as the best host the capitol had ever seen. She was asked what is your secret?
She said, "There are 2 types of hosts. One makes a grand entrance after the guests have all arrived, expecting applause as she enters. She says, "Here I am!"
The other is there when the guests arrive and she says, "Oh, there you are!
à Jesus was a "there you are" man! He was walking through the crowds, a woman touches his robe - he turns around and says, "There you are!"
He walks through the city streets, looks up into the tree and says, "There you are, Zaccheus! I've been looking for you!!
“There is a tale from Russia about a priest who was walking along minding his own business when a royal guard stopped him at gun point. The guard demanded to know: ‘What is your name? Why are you here, and where are you going?’
The priest gazed quizzically at the soldier and then asked, ‘How much do they pay you to do this work?’
The solider, somewhat taken aback, replied, ‘Why, three kopeks a month.’
“I’ll pay you 30 kopeks a month if you will stop me every week and ask me these same questions,’ the priest said.”
What is your name? Why are you here? Where are you going?