What do you identify yourselves with?
Today you and I come together from many different places. I live a couple counties over, in Estill county, I was born and raised even farther east in Wolfe County on the far side of Powell County. Some of you were maybe born and raised in Fayette county, and likely others came from other areas. Just like the place we grew up, we all have different backgrounds. Some were raised in poor families and some were not. Some had a happy childhood, and others grew up in hard conditions. Whatever our past, I hope we came here today for the same reason, to worship, the God of heaven and earth.
The past of a person can many times effect the future of a person. Some of the things in our past may be helpful to us as we face today like the loving words your mom or dad has for you every day, or the memory of the love of your parent. Some events in our lives may be a hinderance to us becoming all that God would have us to be. If a person tells their child they are no good, and they contunually tear them down with words, many times the person will convince the child, that they are right, they are no good. That's why each of us needs to be an encourager. Listen, the devil loves to wisper in the ear of folks, you'll never amount to anything, you will be a failure, don't even try, it is of no use. We have all heard those things, but we can choose a different path. You look at the past generations in some families and you see they have been lazy, or mean to others, they have had a very poor background, whatever the family has been known for, chances are, the kids raised in that family will be much like their father and mother, but sometimes a young person makes a decision, I will choose my own way. My dad and my grandfather have been in jail, have laid out drunk, have done terrible things to others, but I will choose a different way. Unfortunatly without the Spirit of God to lead that young person, they many times take up the same lifestyle as their parents. Some have been abused in their past, and the abusive action has burned down into their minds, and they can never escape those feelings in their hearts and those images in their minds. At times the victim of an abusive crime will blame theirself for the thing that occured. The person was a victim, they were taken advantage of they had no part in the crime, yet the devil will try to use the thing against them. I believe this is one of the tactics of an angry devil to destroy the life of a person. One of my best friends as I grew up was the driver in a car accident which took the lives of two of his cousins and a cousin's friend. These things, will sometimes destroy the life of a person, but not my friend Chad, because he trusts in Jesus Christ. God has given Chad a good wife, and 2 little kids and I thank God. Jn 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: /
Mt 23:29-33 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Who do you identify yourself with?
(1) I suppose if you had walked by the tomb of one of the prophets in the time of Jesus, you might have saw beautiful flowers all around the grave, much like we do today at the graves of our loved ones. Jesus stated in verse 29 that these folks built the tombs, likely expensive monuments to the prophets which had been killed, and they decorated them. I'm sure they would have caught the eye of the person passing by.
(2) The scribes and the Pharises had made the statement that if they were alive in the days of their fathers, (the fathers who killed the prophets) they would not have joined in their angry killings. Jesus however, knew the hearts of those men. Jesus knew they were no different, He knew their hearts were just as proud as those men which has killed the prophets. When a person is religious and proud of it, and God sends a messenger to speak on his behalf, God just gets to the point. Think of John the Baptist. Listen to what he said to the religious rulers Mt 3:7-10 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. John was a bit strange, and he had a strange diet of Locust and wild honey. Well for a proud man or woman, they might think, who is this mad man, who does he think he is, I am a well respected religious ruler, and look at him. Well John the baptist, like other prophets was killed.
(3) Jesus knew the hearts of the scribes and the pharises, he knew they did not look down on the evil of killing a prophet, but had the same evil in their hearts. Jesus makes a strong statement in verse 31 and 32. (Mt 23:31-32). Jesus says you call the men that killed the prophets your Fathers, you give witness that they are your Fathers, so go ahead and do the works of your Fathers.
Who do you indentify yourselves with?
These men identified themselves with their Fathers and their sin. Some folks have a sin in their life that has plagued them for years. They have never been able to overcome the evil. Well today is a day to do that.
Many of you have probably heard of a man named William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was born in the port city of Hull, England, on Aug. 24, 1759, into a prosperous merchant family that we would today describe as “upper middle class.” His family harbored hopes that young William might increase the family fortune or perhaps win an election to a prestigious political post. (http://www.wilberforce.org/article.asp?ID=2659)
When eight years old his father died and William was sent to live in Wimbledon with his aunt who was a stanch Methodist. In this home he came into contact with such men as George Whitefield, the great evangelist, and John Newton, converted from a life of evil as a slave trader.
His mother, fearing that William might be influenced by "religious enthusiasm," removed him from his aunt's home and sent him to a private school. He gradually forgot the spiritual influence of his aunt and was caught up in the social whirl of his mother's lifestyle. He attended St John's College at Cambridge, but largely wasted his time while there. However, upon reaching maturity he won a prominent seat in Parliament, even becoming a close friend and advisor to William Pitt, who was Prime Minister.
While taking a holiday on the continent he began reading a book, "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul." From this book he began his spiritual journey with an intellectual assent to the Bible, followed by a deep inner conviction. He knew that his new commitment might cost him friends and influence but he was determined to stand for what he now believed.
William Wilberforce was a talented speaker, and he used his talent to bring an end to slavery in England. Wilberforce had to make a decision, would he continue in the path of his family, a life of social pleasure and financial prosperity, or would he set a new course, would he look to Jesus Christ and the word of God for guidence in his life. I thank God he chose the life he lived.
Who do you indentify yourselves with?
Do you identify yourself with that nick name that was given you in school. Do you Identify yourself with the one in your past who was an alcholic, do you despretly desire to put the wrong things in your life behind you, but you find you continue to go back to the same thing over and over. The bible gives an illustration of that, It is like a dog returning to its own vomit. Imagine a dog eating something that is not good and it makes him sick, so he vomits. Well after the sick feeling is gone, he goes back to the vomit and eats it up again. Well guess what happens, he gets sick again. Some need to put behind them a family past that has not been good, and some may need to put behind them memories of horrible abuse. Some need to put behind them the voices which said they were no good. We can have all the good intention in the world, but without the power of God in our lives, we will be like that old dog, returning to its vomit. You might have the will, but without the spirit of God in your life, you do not have the way. What is the way? Jesus said I am the way
Lk 6:42-45 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapesa. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
You see we have to have a change of heart. I read to you the first part of Jn 10:10 earlier, listen to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in the last part of the verse; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Some folks think Jesus Christ came here to this Earth over 2000 years ago to establish an earthly kingdom. Jesus did not come to this earth to establish an earthly kingdom, he came to establish a spiritual kingdom, and he will come again with power some day. John 6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. Here they came they thought Jesus would be a good king, he might just be the one that could deliver the Jews of that day from the power of the Roman army. Jesus was not interested in being an earthly king. Jesus wants to be the king of your heart. Remember in the garden, Jesus prayed in agony, not my will, but thine be done. And when the Jews of that day and the devil thought they had won as those drops of blood hit the ground, the power of God and the kingdom of God were established. You may feel as though your life has all but ended, you may feel as though there is no hope. Well let me tell you on that third day Jesus Christ came up out of that grave, and he is now at the right hand of God interceeding for those that believe. Jesus fulfilled the will of the Father, when those spikes were driven into his hands and into his feet, he fulfilled his Father's will as he hung there in agony. You see the wages of sin is death, and we all have sinned, and he paid our debt. You can be saved today, simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to change your heart. That thing in your past, which has plagued you for years, that memory, those voices which say you will never be anything, Jesus came to change you. He came to change your heart. He wants to give you a new heart, he wants to make you a child of the King.
I have asked you several times, Who do you identify yourself with. If this was your last moment here on this earth and you slipped off into eternity. On the other side when you give an account of your life, WHO WILL YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF WITH? With sin, death and hell, or with Jesus Christ and eternal life?