What Keeps You From Coming to Jesus?

This past Sunday’s sermon was titled “The Great Debate” and was on John 3:1-21.  If you are on the fence about Jesus or are doubting your salvation or are trying to witness to a friend about Jesus, I’d suggest you click here and listen to the sermon.

For this post I want to focus on Nicodemus: he was religious, he was rich, he had influence, and he was educated.  All the makings of a self-made man.

And yet….

And yet, that did not stop him from coming to Jesus with his questions.

Who needs to come to Jesus when you can afford all the luxuries of life?  Nicodemus did.  Who needs to come to Jesus when you are a good, moral, religious person?  Nicodemus did.  Who needs to come to Jesus when you have an education and can figure things out yourself?  Nicodemus did.  Who needs to come to Jesus when you have scores of people who obey your command or serve you?  Nicodemus did.

“Well I’m not Nicodemus!”, you may say.  No, you’re not, but I’m willing to bet whether you care to admit it to the world or not, you come with the same questions and thoughts we (like Nicodemus) all have: what’s the point of this life?  Why am I on this earth?  Is there life after death?  Is there truly justice for those who have done hideous crimes?  Why can’t I find true happiness?  I have everything but aren’t satisfied, why not?  Etc.  And those answers will all be answered (and have been answered) by Jesus.

Or you’re the Christian who has got burned by the church or burnt out due to religious requirements (unduly) placed upon you and you began walking in your own wisdom and opinions of who Jesus is based on what others have said.  Go back to the source – go back to Jesus.  Not what others have written or quoted, but what He says about Himself in the Bible (and the Gospel of John is a good place to start).  Come to the Scriptures with a childlike faith and understanding and see what He says about Himself.

But if you come to Jesus, desiring to hear from Him, then come as one who has nothing to offer and everything to gain.  Our own pride is often the largest obstacle.

For Nicodemus, he found eternal life because he did not let his influence, wealth, book smarts, or spirituality keep him from inquiring of Jesus.

 

The full study on John 3:1-21 can be listened to here: The Great Debate

 

 

Advertisements

Love & Fury

This past Sunday, we studied John 2:1-25, focusing on both the love and fury of Jesus.  I spoke on the fact that God the Father (or as some try to distinguish “God of the Old Testament”) and Jesus (“God of the New Testament”) are the same and therefore you will find the nature of God the Father in the nature of God the Son.  If you study the Old Testament you will find more than just a wrathful, judging God and if you study the New Testament you will find more than a one dimensional, loving-never-harsh Jesus, and in John 2 you see both the loving side of Jesus (blessing a marriage) and the fury side (overturning tables, driving out money changers, etc).

I want to focus on John 2:6-8, dealing with the servants who obeyed Jesus by filling the waterpots (to the brim) with water and taking it to the master (which sometime Jesus turned into wine).  We discussed four important principles (as similar to what Spurgeon stated on this passage):

  1. When Christ is about to give a blessing, He often begins with a command
  2. Jesus’ commands are not to be questioned but obeyed
  3. Whenever you get a command from the Lord, carry it out to the fullest
  4. God doesn’t need us but He chooses to use us

The fourth truth is one we can all dwell on more because we can either think too highly of ourselves or too lowly.  Many will get a large amount of education and/or Bible training and think they have all the head knowledge, knowing more than everyone else, and therefore God will use them greatly.  Or people will think they’ve blown it too many times or have zero to offer the Lord in talents and therefore God won’t use them.

The glorious truth is that both are incorrect ways of thinking.  We are not used because we are someone special (read 1 Corinthians 1:25-31 if you have any doubts).  Like the waterpots and the servants, we are used because we are available to be used.  We should not boast in being used or expect to be used, but simply tell God we are willing however He chooses to use us.  Therefore, don’t think of any ministry as “beneath you” (and though people will never say that, they will say something like “I’m just not called to do that” to get out of something***), but simply be glad and humbled, the God of the universe who died for you is requesting you help Him (be it cleaning toilets, watching kids in the nursery, teaching wild 5th graders in the classroom, greeting people or teaching from the pulpit).  It’s an amazing privilege to serve so great a King and let us do so to the very fullest!

Click to hear Sunday’s message, “Love & Fury”

***if you really aren't called to do something, don't do it.  Not everyone should do children's ministry (as one example), but you know whether it is an excuse to get out of doing something you don't like or feel beneath you or not.

Come & See Part 2

Due to length & time, I was not able to speak on my last point, “Come & See Jesus For Yourselves”, in the previous post found here.  I will do so in this post.

When Jesus told Philip to “follow Me”, Jesus showed that He was not afraid to tell people to follow Him.  He knew He was the only way to Heaven and throughout the Gospels, He attests to this fact.  Throughout the New Testament, we are told this fact.

And yet, so many in the church today are afraid to tell people to follow Jesus or claim they are not sure if He is the only way or throw in their own philosophical musings without taking time to study what the Word has to say.  Some can get “too smart” for their own good to which they begin to throw out sound doctrine, throw out the institution of the local church, and throw out the Gospel because in their own “intellect” they have decided what is best.  I remember talking to one person who stated he was a Christian but was not sure if the Resurrection had truly happened or not but was living his life as if the “myth” were true.

I would say, come & see.  The Word can be understood, the evidence of the Resurrection can be studied, and the tenants of the faith can be followed and grasped.

Andrew went and saw and he invited Peter.  Philip went and saw and he invited Nathanael to come and see.  Two people invited two others to come and see Jesus, and those two others would help to change the world.  You may not have all the answers to your friend, but you can invite them to come and see.  Invite them to your home or to a Bible study or to your church.

But don’t get caught up in all the blabbering out there of people who think themselves wise and experts – pick up your Bible and start reading/studying for yourself.  Jesus invites us to do so and meets us there.

Full sermon found here: Come & See

Come & See

My basic outline for our text in John 1:19-51 was this:

  • A Voice in the Wilderness (v. 19-28)
  • Come & See the Lamb of God (v. 29-37)
  • Come & See – Jesus’s Call to Know Him (v. 38-39)
  • Come & See Jesus for Yourselves (v. 40-51)

I want to spend a little bit of time on the last two points and cover them more deeply than in the message.

In Jesus opening Himself up to the disciples by inviting them to come and see where He was staying, He began the time of fellowship with these disciples and it impacted their lives so much they remember the time this took place (“about the tenth hour [4 P.M.]).  He was not afraid to show Himself and be known to those who wanted to draw close to Him (and He is  still the same way with us).  It is a model for us to be real with people.  You may say, “yeah, but He had nothing to hide!  He was perfect, the Son of God, afterall.”  True, in the sense that there were no sins in His life or imperfections, but: He was not rich, this was not His home (He was staying with someone else), Isaiah 53:2 tells us He had no form or comeliness or beauty that we should desire Him, and He had all kinds of skeletons in His closet when it came to His ancestry.  There were plenty of things that could have, and did, make people turn away, but He was not afraid to show who He was, because He was confident in who He was and what God had called Him to do.

If we want to experience true fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to be willing to open ourselves up to them.  We need not worry whether the house is perfectly clean before inviting others over (if you have kids, it may NEVER be clean..haha), or whether we are intelligent enough or have enough theological knowledge to talk with others.  You might think or say, “but I could get really hurt emotionally by doing so!” or even, “at my last church I got burned by people and are afraid to open up again”, or possibly even, “don’t you know how judgmental people can be?”.  Let me assure you – at some point in time by opening up and having deep relationships YOU WILL get hurt!  People are people, they let us down, and sometimes even stab us in the back.  It all happened to Jesus and still happens to Him.  So He understands.

BUT…you will also experience a deep connection with others you may have never had before.  You will find friends that are closer than a brother (or sister).  You will have people who will be there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on or a person to confide in or a friend to confess your sins and faults too (James 5:16).

So how can you practically do this and how can you use wisdom in doing so?  Well first, look for someone that seems trustworthy and walking with the Lord.  Then invite them over to your house for dinner or meet at Starbucks for coffee or just go out for a $1 sweet tea at McDonald’s.  Before you meet with them, just ask the Lord to bless the time.  Then just start talking – maybe start by sharing your testimony, asking them their testimony, maybe bring questions you are wrestling with in the Scriptures or share what the Lord has been teaching you.  Someone walking with the Lord, is going to respond in a positive way to these things.

We will cover the second point in a later post.

Sunday’s message found here: Come & See

Turn on the Light

This past Sunday, the message was titled “When the Eternal Stepped Into Our World” and we covered John 1:1-18.  We took time to look at what an amazing thing it was for Jesus to take on human form so that we could know Him and obtain salvation.

I want to take this blog to focus on John 1:4-5  – “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  The word comprehend is also be translated “overcome” and better shows the meaning of the verse.

Darkness can never extinguish the light but the light can always extinguish the darkness.  If you put a candle in a totally dark room, the candle isn’t going to go out because the darkness is so thick.  Rather, the light will chase the darkness.  If you want to get rid of darkness in a room, you simply turn on the lights.  The more light there is the less darkness there is.

The same principle is true in our lives.  If you are walking in darkness or your life is in the dark, are you turning on The Light?  When we allow the light in our lives to dim, darkness will creep in.  We find we aren’t interested in spiritual things, maybe depression or lack of hope comes in as well, and we wonder what happened to the joy we once had.  The cares of the world seem overwhelming, it can be hard to “put up” with cranky kids, and we may just not want to keep going on.

Turn The Light on!

The easiest way I have found, at least for me, is grab your iPod, CD player, or any music player, and start listening to worship music.  Focus on singing along (outloud or silently in your heart) and focusing on Jesus.  Worship is a great chance to be reminded of the promises of God, the loving character of God, the truths of Scripture, and give praise unto Him in a very prayerful way.  Then open His Word, the Bible, and refresh yourself.

Will your problems go away?  Will all in your life be cured?  No, but the Light will be on and you’ll find when your path is lit, it is much easier managing what is going on in the world around you than when you were stumbling through the darkness.  Hope and joy will replace fear and sorrow and you will find rest for your souls (and He promises rest for all who come).

Other messages can be found at: www.refugesanger.com