Stories Jesus Told - Part 1: Great Mistakes
“You Built Where?”
Listen to this Sermon HERE
Luke 6:46-49 (The Message) “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on. 48-49 “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”
Foundation: the underlying base or support upon which a structure is built.
How important is a good foundation and what makes a good foundation? In an article on “Foundations” by Max Alexander in the popular magazine, This Old House, Max says: A proper foundation does more than just hold a house above ground. It also keeps out moisture, insulates against the cold, and resists movement of the earth around it. Oh, and one more thing: It should last forever. No wonder builders like This Old House general contractor Tom Silva take foundations seriously. "Without a good one," he says, "you're sunk." A foundation is forever, so it makes sense to pay attention to the details that ensure it will remain dry and crack-free for as long as it has a house to hold up.
For Tom, "good" means steel-reinforced foundation walls and footings made of poured concrete. But a good foundation requires a lot more than digging a hole and pouring some concrete into forms. It must be tailored to its site like a custom suit, taking into account soil conditions, water tables, even the quality of the backfill. And as with a custom suit, every detail must be perfect: the base properly compacted, the formwork set up right, the concrete free of voids. Neglect even one of these, and the most carefully poured foundation can fail.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa - The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a freestanding bell tower located in the city of Pisa in Italy. Like its name suggest, it actually does lean to one side. The tower started to lean during construction because the foundation was built on soft ground that had difficulty supporting the weight. The lean became worse as construction continued for several decades. The Leaning Tower of Pisa took 344 years to build, beginning in August 1173. It began to lean in 1178 once construction on the second floor had begun. The lean was due to one side sinking into the ground. Interestingly though, the people of Pisa said they would rather see it fall to the ground than to make it sit right – after all, why would people come to the the Leaning Tower of Pisa if it wasn’t leaning?
People are like that – maybe their foundation is solid enough to keep them upright and they know their foundation Is weak but they’re okay with leaning.
Other weak foundation examples:
What happens to you when the winds of adversity blows and challenges apply pressure to your life? Here are some possible scenarios:
Why are there so many people who don’t have a strong foundation?
Simply put, they have their life “ladders” leaning against the wrong walls. They believe that if they have the things the “world” deems as necessary for happiness, that everything will be great. So, they pursue the possessing of those things at all costs. Their foundation is determined by the world’s standard. The problem is, that when the winds of adversity howl, they lean and often fall. Why?
People don’t have the proper foundation!
I Corinthians 3:11 (NLT) “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2:20 (NLT) “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.”
Where are you constructing your life’s building? You basically have three choices:
Ravi Zacharias told about doing a lectureship several years ago at the Ohio State University. As he was being driven to the lecture, they passed what was then the "new" Wexner Art Center. The driver commented, "This is a new art building for the university. It is a fascinating building designed in the post-modernist view of reality." Zacharias described this fascinating building. He said, "The building has no pattern. Staircases go nowhere. Pillars support nothing. The architect designed the building to reflect [the post-modernist view of] life. It went nowhere and was mindless and senseless. Zacharias said, "I turned to the man describing it and asked, 'Did they do the same thing with the foundation?'" And the man laughed [and answered]: "You can't do that with a foundation."
A Lady named Brenda Warner had this to say: “As a young girl I put God first in my life, when my biggest concern was how to fix my hair. As I grew into an adult my concerns became much greater. I lived through my oldest child’s severe head injury, a broken marriage, poverty, and both my parents’ tragic deaths in a tornado. Although I do not understand it all, I have held onto my foundation- Jesus. I continue to realize that God IS faithful. He loves me and I need him to be first in my life.”
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”
Stories Jesus Told
Listen to this Sermon here
Part 1: “Great Mistakes”
“Excuses, Excuses, Excuses” - Luke 14:16-24
We live in a word of excuses. Here are some complied by the Readers Digest that have been offered for not showing up for work:
This, from Sheila Crowe, Pastor of the Collins Memorial United Methodist Church here in Atlanta:
"No Excuse Sunday." Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, "Sunday is my only day to sleep in." Murine will be available for those with tired eyes... from watching television too late on Saturday night. We will have steel helmets for those who say, "The roof would cave in if I ever came to church." Blankets will be provided for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who think the church is too hot. We will have hearing aids for those who say, "The pastor speaks too softly," and cotton for those who say I preach too loudly. Score cards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present. For those who wish to spend time with family on Sunday we assure you that your Father will be in attendance. There will be T.V. dinners for those who cannot go to church and cook dinner also. One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to seek God in nature. Finally, the sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them
The Greatest Dinner Party Ever – so great – it lasts forever! This is eternal life – in heaven – with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit – with no sickness – with no pain – with no tears - with no disappointments – with a continual party in honor of the God head (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit).
A great list given from a sermon by David Burns:
This is the place where you will be re-united with everyone you know who has qualified and you’ll always get along, without any conflict.
This is a place where you can eat without fear of weight gain or bringing on diseases of multiple affects.
This is a place that never ends, but never grows old – it is a place of complete satisfaction – a place that needs no perspective, because it will need no explanation.
This is a place where you can go. You, yes you can go. Why can you go? Because Christ has extended the invitation.
You’re invited – period… That’s it! You breathe air and you’re a human being? You’re invited!
22 So Paul, standing before the council,[e] addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man[f] he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your[g] own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
The door to heaven is Jesus Christ. You must enter through Him. That’s your choice – through Christ or… not…
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
I Timothy 2:1-6
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.
The Choice… It is one everyone must make. Even Kings and Presidents.
Let me illustrate with an example of former President Ronald Regan: Dr. D. James Kennedy, of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, relates this encounter with President Regan. “In 1980, I and several other evangelical leaders met with him when he was running for president. ‘Governor,’ I said, ‘I would like to ask you a very important spiritual question and that is: If something were to happen to you and you were to die and stand before God, and God Almighty said to you, “Why should I let you into my Heaven?” What would you say?’ “He was silent for a long time. Finally, after about 30 seconds he answered in somber tones that I shall never forget, ‘I don’t deserve to go to Heaven. The only thing that I could say would be, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” ‘(John 3:16).
Dr Kennedy then relates this: “Now this great man has discovered the truth of those words of Christ. He has ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth,’ and now gazes in the face of God.”
John McArthur says it like this:
“There’s only one reason why people who know the truth of the Gospel are not willing to repent and believe. It is because they will not see themselves as the poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed. It has nothing to do with the style of music your Church offers, the drama and skits you stage, or the quality of your laser light show. It has everything to do with the “spiritual deadness” and “blindness of pride.” God offers nothing to people who are content with their own condition, except judgement. If you don’t think you are headed for hell, don’t’ think you need forgiveness, you put no value on the Gospel of Grace.
Your life, God’s way instead of Your life, your way. Yes, that’s right! It has to be God’s way. Unfortunately, that’s a deal breaker for some. They cannot bear the thought of not having control – at least, partial control.
Luke 9:22-26 – Jesus Speaks!
22 “The Son of Man[e] must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” 23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.
John McArthur again…
If you’re into self-love, and self-esteem, and making sure all your little needs are met, making sure you’re indulged with all your fantasies, dream, hopes & ambitions, you’re going to lose your life in eternal hell. If you love yourself so much to hold on like the Rich Young Ruler described by Jesus in Luke 18:18, you’re going to go away without eternal life. But if you hate yourself then you’re going to receive eternal life. You either save your life now and lose it forever, or lose your life now and save it forever.
God has invited us to partake of eternal life… in heaven.
Revelation 22:17 - “Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride. Whoever hears, echo, “Come!” Is anyone thirsty? Come! All who will, come and drink, Drink freely of the Water of Life!”
How about you?
There is a continued epidemic of people who ignore the God’s invitation to the Great Feast without a real excuse. When you die, His invitation is cancelled.
Accept the invitation today – and exercise faith and you will live eternally. See you there!
The purposes of God often develop slowly because His grand designs are never hurried. The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. "What's the trouble, Mr. Brooks?" he asked.
"The trouble is that I'm in a hurry, but God isn't!"
Haven't we felt the same way many times?
Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
Manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain
Not hasty or impetuous
Steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity
Why is having patience so difficult?
Random answers might be: it’s no fun, it is uncomfortable, it requires character and maturity, it is opposite of our culture – and it’s true! We live in an “instant” society. We can have things “instantly.” We have a great need for “Instant Gratification.” Patience is difficult to develop when we live in such an “instant gratification” world. In “The Psychology of Instant Gratification and How It Will Revolutionize Your Marketing,” an article published June 24, 2014, in Entrepreneur Magazine – we find this definition:
Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment. Basically, it's when you want it; and you want it now.
Instant gratification is the opposite of what we've been taught and try too hard to practice —
The article goes on to talk about: “Instant gratification and the ‘pleasure principle.’”
“In most psychological models, humans are believed to act upon the “pleasure principle.” The pleasure principle is basically the driving force that compels human beings to gratify their needs, wants, and urges. These needs, wants, and urges can be as basic as the need to breathe, eat, or drink. But they can be as complex as the “need” for an iPhone 6 or some other cool new product.”
When we, as human beings, can’t gratify our needs, wants, and urges… quickly, we experience stress. Listen to this next statement from this article:
“When we don’t get fulfillment, our psychological response is anxiety or tension.”
And, who wants to worry or be uptight?
David – a man after God’s own heart! David would often complain and be moody and be very impatient – after all he was human! But always, in the end, for David – he trusted and obeyed – end was forced to be patient!
Psalm 37:7 – “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”
In the presence of the Lord there is peace. Patience brings understanding… Patience allows you to hope!
Psalm 27:14 – “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
As you develop this very important characteristic in your life, remember… God is patient with you.
Be Patient With God
2 Peter 3:8-9 – “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
Why be patient with God? God has patience for you. God waited for you to accept His Gift. If you haven’t accepted it – He is still waiting.
And, as far as God not operating within your time table? Remember, time is irrelevant to God, but a relationship with you is completely relevant to Him.
Patience with our fellow man? Wow – how hard is that? Let’s look at one of our O.T. heroes to see an example of extreme patience!
Genesis 29:16-20 -
16 Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17 There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes,[a] but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. 18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” 19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.
Be Patient With Your Circumstances
Most generally, when we are impatient with our life – our circumstances – with the “cards” we’ve been dealt, it’s because we are pursuing selfish desires instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us. Living life and allowing the Holy Spirit to be the “agent” of patience gives us a chance to have the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” alive and well in our lives.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Patience – what a wonderful thing to possess…
Ask the Lord for help with your patience quotient – He loves to give good gifts to His children!
“George Mueller, the founder of a great Christian orphanage work in England in the 1800’s, was a powerful man of prayer. He knew the importance of keeping at prayer even when the answer seemed delayed. When he was young he began praying that two of his friends might be saved. He prayed for them for more than sixty years. One of the men was converted shortly before his death at what was probably the last service Mueller held. The other was saved within a year of his death.”
What do you think would have happened had Mueller given up?
Source: James Montgomery Boice. The Parables of Jesus. Chicago: Moody Press, 1983. p. 158
Back to Old School: Elisha
Elisha's work within Israel involved two areas: personal and political. As a man easily accessible to the people, he frequently interceded in the ordinary events of life that bring anguish and crisis.
But these stories within the larger context also show the power of God over all aspects of nature,
Let’s look at an amazing story found in II Kings 4:1-7
One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” 2 “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. 3 And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” 5 So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. 7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”
This woman who came to Elisha knew him. Her deceased husband had been part of Elisha’s group of prophets who served Elisha. She, obviously through her husband knew how God’s power was unleashed through Elisha, thus she came to him desperate, but optimistic. It was a common practice for poor people and debtors to pay their debts by selling themselves or their children as slaves to the creditors.
The Widows’ Resources (what she did have): A far as anything of value, she had only some olive oil. A much-needed commodity in that time period. However, she didn’t have much – in fact just one small container called a “flask.” This would only be enough for limited cooking or lighting a lamp for a short period of time.
Elisha’s proposed solution: Grab as many empty containers (jars) as you can find – even borrow as many as possible from friends and neighbors. Then, close your doors – and empty your flask into the jars. As one jar is filled, set it aside and fill the next jar and the next, and the next, etc.
What did the widow do? She did as she was told by the man of God. How I wish sometimes, as a pastor, when consulted by someone as to what to do… and I share an answer from God’s Word – that folks would actually do what the Bible is telling them to do!
What happened? The oil continued to flow from the flask until every jar was completely filled. The widow and her sons now had a prodigious amount of olive oil! When the widow told Elisha what had happened, he confirmed what she probably already knew – sell as much olive oil as needed to satisfy the creditors, then sell the rest as needed to live on.
What’s significant about the use of olive oil to meet the widow’s needs?
God will meet all of your needs. Philippians 4:19 – “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
What is our part in securing God’s provision?
Elisha helped people see the all-powerful God. Do you see His ability to provide all you need?