Archive | October, 2016

Wanting God’s Approval

30 Oct

Matthew 6:1-4

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

I read about a person who went to a concert.  At the end, he noticed two ushers who were
applauding harder than anybody else in the whole place.

He thought how awesome it was to see two employees who loved music so much working at a concert hall.   That was until he heard the one usher say to the other, “Keep clapping. If we can get them to do another encore, we get overtime!”

It appeared that these two ushers were serious music lovers  It turned out they were only applauding so long and so hard because it would mean a few more dollars in their pockets.

It’s just a fact of life that there are people who do good things for the wrong reasons
It might seem at the outset that they are unselfish and noble but it ends up that
they only doing what they’re doing for their own benefit.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus encouraged His disciples to play to an audience of
One – to want only the approval of the Heavenly Father.

He urged them not to be people pleasers seeking to impress others.  If you get your self-worth from the approval of people, you’re mood is going to be frequently depressed and your performance often erratic. People are unpredictable. What will impress them one day won’t the next.

But God is faithful. He is always rooting for you. He wants the best for you and, in the end, it’s only His favor that matters.

This is a passage that speaks to those of us who are tempted to be people-pleasers.

Some of us crave the approval of others so much  that we go to almost any length to get it.

We have a hard time saying “no” to anyone, we want so much to be liked that
it’s almost impossible to overcome peer pressure.

We’re always wondering what people will say, what people will think, how
people will respond.

When people approve of us, we feel great. However, when someone is upset with us, we feel devastated.

Our whole life is viewed as a stage performance seeking the applause and
avoiding the disapproval of the crowd.

Even when it comes to spiritual service, instead of seeking God’s approval, were
most concerned about what people think.

And those of us who are in that boat need to pay attention today as we study Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount that encourage us to seek only God’s approval!

First, we need to realize that Jesus gives a warning against self-promotion.

Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

We all instinctively want to be liked.  From the time we’re born, we want approval and attention. Little children unashamedly say, “Watch me, Daddy!” “Look at me, Mommy!”

Teenagers want more than anything to be popular.

They are careful to dress, talk, and act in whatever fashion is acceptable among their peers.

Even nonconformity is a way of drawing attention to self.
–Body piercing, tattoos, green hair, and black lipstick are means of saying, “Look at me!”

As adults we often worry about what our neighbors will think of us (if we have neighbors).

We care what people think of us and that’s not altogether bad. The Bible says we ought to be sensitive to our witness to others.

The problem with people-pleasers is they become overly concerned with what other people think.

Jesus’ warning in this passage is not about doing evil but about doing good just to impress people.

On the surface this seems to contradict what Jesus said in Mt. 5:16 – “… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

The difference is in motive.
–Are you doing the good deed to exalt Christ or to promote self?

It’s the self-centeredness of it all that Jesus warns against.
–Why do we do what we do?

John Ortberg facetiously said, “I know I’m supposed to be humble, but what if no one notices?”

We want people to notice our goodness.

I like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of this passage in The Message: “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself.”

If you’re tempted to be a people-pleaser let me share four good reasons to quit worrying so much about what people think of you.

First, realize that people are fickle. They can applaud you one minute and condemn you the next. You can’t please people. They’re so inconsistent in both praise and condemnation

Someone once said : “If you worry too much about what people think of you, you’d probably be disappointed to discover how seldom they did.”
–That’s the truth.

Why spend so much time worrying about someone else’s opinion when they really don’t notice?

The most popular people are those who don’t try to please others.

It’s kind of a paradox when you think about it.

The less self-conscious you are, the more likely you are to be liked.

The people who try too hard to please are rejected, while the people who don’t seem to care what others think are the most respected for their courage, uninhibited behavior, and self-confidence.

One of the things that made Jesus so attractive to those around Him was that He wasn’t very concerned about the opinions of people.

One of his detractors admitted this to Jesus in Matthew 22:16 – “We know you are a man of
integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are”

In the end only God’s evaluation matters .

John 5:30 – Jesus says: “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

James 4:12 – There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.

Paul says in Galatians 1:10 – Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? …If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Serena Williams won the Wimbledon Tennis tournament for the first time in 2002. After her impressive victory, a reporter asked Serena if it bothered her that many of the English fans were rooting against her. She politely said, “No,” she understood – there had been people rooting against her all her life. But she still wanted to win for herself. Then she added, “Besides my dad was sitting in those stands, and I knew he was rooting for me and I wanted to please him.”

Your whole life, there will be people rooting against you that want to see you fail. But your Father is always rooting for you.

Further, Jesus had something to say about those who tried to impress others with their so called “righteous”

Matthew 6:2-4 – “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”

Jesus calls those who do good things with selfish intentions “hypocrites”

That word comes into our language directly from the New Testament Greek language

It means “an actor who wears a mask”

In the theatre of Jesus’ day, one actor could play several roles on stage. They designated the changing of the role onstage by wearing different masks.

A hypocrite in its simplest sense is someone who pretends to be something that in reality they are not.
I read an illustration not long ago about a young dockworker who came into the local
Western Union agent and tried to cash a check made out to Roadway Express, which is a trucking company based out of Dallas, TX. The manager figured something was up and slyly asked the young man for his ID. The 18-year-old produced a fairly well-made picture ID and under the name it said, “Roadway V. Express”.
The manager told the young man to wait there while he went in the back to get the money. When the manager went into the back of the office, he called the police and they promptly arrested Mr. Express.

He was trying to pretend that he was something he was not.

Evidently the Pharisees, who craved the praise of men, sometimes made a big show out of what they gave to the temple treasury.

In the Jewish system of worship, they didn’t pass the offering tray and people didn’t give by anonymous envelopes or folded checks.

The treasury boxes were set outside the worship area and people gave their money as they came in,

Mark 12:41 – “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.”

People still sometimes give to good causes for public approval.

Listen to any fund-raising telethon.
–You’ll hear the names of the donors names read out loud: “John Smith gave a hundred dollars.”

Go to almost any hospital in America and you can read plaques like “This wing donated by John Smith” and a family is listed who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to that hospital.

Our Bible Colleges put names of donors on bricks or, if you give enough money, you can have a dormitory or library named after you.
–This method is a very successful method of gaining donors and it’s not all wrong.

I actually have a brick with my name on it at Hardin-Simmons University.

But Jesus raised the bar once again.

He uses a unique phrase that puzzles some people in our age: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Notice Jesus assumes that if we’re subjects to the King of kings and want to live according to his expectations, we will be “givers”

He doesn’t say “if you give” but “when you give”

Being generous in helping meet the needs of others was a mark of the early church

A Greek philosopher named Aristedes presented a defense of Christians to the Roman emperor Hadrian. He was speaking about normal Christians. He said:

He who has gives to him who has not without grudging. When one of their poor passes away from the world, and any of them sees him, then he provides for his burial according to his ability. If they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they will deliver him. If there is among them a man that is poor or needy and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days, that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.

The phrase was a reference to your best friends.

We still refer to someone as our “right-hand man”

Jesus isn’t telling us that we shouldn’t keep track of what we give for income tax purposes or that it’s wrong to give by envelope or check because someone is going to find out, or even to just reach into your wallet and close your eyes and give whatever bill you pull out.

What He is saying is that we should “give and forget”
–Don’t dwell on or gloat over how much we’ve given

He also means that we shouldn’t call attention to our giving
–Be satisfied with having no one know what you give but God.

Years ago, I remember watching  Ted Turner as he announced that he was
giving a billion dollars to the United Nations. Although he designated that the money be used to help the extremely poor with food, clothing, and shelter, he made sure his huge donation was seen by everybody.

Before he made the gift, he notified talk-show host Larry King so he could start circulating the news.

And then, Turner made his announcement in a New York ballroom filled with tuxedos, evening gowns, reporters and cameras.

He has his reward—the approval of men.

The Message: “They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively.”

Ah, but check out Matthew 6:4 – “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Some people downplay this truth, but there is a legitimate reward motive in the Christian life.

You may remember an old TV ad that featured an athlete running up the steps of an empty
stadium. No one is watching, but he’s really sweating and grinding it out in discipline.

The ad points out that he’s going through all that hard work so that he can receive the reward of winning on the weekend.

God asks us to discipline our lives, to deny self and take up the cross so that we can win the victory of eternal life.

He promises that, while we’re saved by grace and not works, we are going to be rewarded for our works.

My personal belief is that the real reward is spending eternity with God.
Even though the Bible promises “stars” in our crowns in heaven, it also tells us that in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords we’ll cast our crowns into the glassy sea described in the book of Revelation.

That concept can certainly change your attitude about what you are doing today.

Tim Keller imagines two guys in a room who are given an assignment of folding papers for 12 hours straight. The first guy quits after three hours. He says, “I can’t stand this. This is driving me crazy!”

But the second guy is delighted. He keeps working saying, “This is the greatest
day of my life! This is a joy!”

He folds paper for 12 hours straight.
What’s the difference? The first guy is working for minimum wage. The second guy is
promised a million dollars if he stays. A reward is a big motivator to attitude and faithfulness.

Listen to these verses that promise a reward commensurate with our faithfulness on Earth.
Matthew. 16:27 – “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

Matthew 19:29-30 – “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Ephesians. 6:8 – …The Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does. 

1 Corinthians. 3:12-15 – If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

Understand that the reward the Heavenly Father promises is not just eternal, it’s immediate.

If you support this church with your money and service, when you see lost people saved, children taught the Word of God, hurting people comforted, and homes united, there should be a sense of satisfaction within.

You ought to feel good that you’ve had a part in seeing people ministered to and God being
honored.

You ought to say to yourself, “I’ve helped make that happen.”
–That in itself is a great reward.

I like this quote I found by Watchman Nee:

“I have never met a soul who has set out to satisfy the Lord and has not been
satisfied himself.”

But the glory is we get all that and heaven too.

When I was in school, my best friend was made a lineman on the junior high football team.  The lineman is not a position of glory. Glory for a win usually goes to the quarterback, running back or receiver. Nevertheless, the linemen are really important because they
block for the other players. The lineman don’t get to carry the ball or throw passes, but if
the lineman do their job, the guys carrying the ball can make touchdowns—otherwise
they can’t.

Maybe your Heavenly Father designed you to play a role that doesn’t get much
applause.

If you have a behind-the-scenes assignment where you’re blocking for others and not
getting much glory, can you still be content?

Along with watching out for being a people-pleaser, we also have to guard against being
a self-pleaser.

Sometimes we preserve our anonymity while quietly congratulating ourselves.

Not only are we to avoid giving for the praise of others, we are also to make sure we
don’t give simply so we can privately praise ourselves.

It’s possible to take deliberate steps to keep our giving a secret all the while gloating
over our self-satisfied generosity.

Our motive must be to want God’s approval.

hypocrite

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LET’S TALK ABOUT GRUDGES

23 Oct

Matthew 5:43-48

cross

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is quiet a passage. This is several in a series of “you have heard it said…but I tell you” statements that strike at the very heart of Christianity. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches  that the inner condition of the Heart was the most important.  In this passage, He deals more with that. The law required certain things.  The Pharisees added many things to the law so that it became a burden that no one could bear. Yet Jesus taught us here that the outward sin of life begins in the heart. He teaches us that merely keeping rules is not what God seeks from us. He seeks a relationship that will be a guide to us.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.” We are made by the things that are in our heart.  We can do our best to follow the rules and we may even be good at it but if our heart is wrong, we are wrong.

The sixth commandment teaches us that it is wrong to murder.

But Jesus went to the heart of things. He knew that no one would ever commit murder if they did not first harbor anger and hatred for someone.

Jesus traced this anger and hatred to two terms that were used as a great insult.

Raca—Stupid or Empty head—This was different than our casual picking at one another.

You Fool-Would be the equivalent of our calling someone a crook or liar.

When someone insults us, when someone attacks our character, it makes us angry. It hurts us. And oftentimes, it causes us to hold a grudge.

William H. Walton says To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.

A wildlife expert, during a visit to Yellowstone Park, once observed that the only animal the grizzly bear would share food with was a skunk. It wasn’t that the grizzly wanted to share his food but rather that he chose to. With one swing of his powerful paw he could have crushed the skunk. So why did he allow the skunk to eat with him? Because he knew the high cost of getting even.

A good memory can be a great tool in serving the Lord but a good memory used for the wrong purpose can be an anchor that is tied to our foot and we have just tried to swim across the lake.

We are instead to follow the direction of  Colossians 3:13 which tells us…

whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as if she had never even heard of the incident. “Don’t you remember it?” her friend asked. “No,” came Barton’s reply, “I distinctly remember forgetting it.”

In his book. Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.” It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.

Many Christians allow grudges and bitterness to fill their heart. It may never lead to murder but it will hinder your relationship with Christ. The biggest reason that I find for people not being willing to forgive others is that they don’t really have an understanding of how Christ has forgiven them.

I want you to think for a minute about some of the worse things you have done morally. Be honest with yourself and with God. Did you know that as a child of God, washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, you are fully forgiven? Did you know that Jesus in eternity past knew you would make those mistakes and yet He still chose for you to be born because He has a plan for you. Now, if God can forgive us when we fail, shouldn’t we forgive others?

I want to close today with a parable that Jesus taught… Normally, I preach to you out of the New American Standard Version of the Scripture.   It is the closest to literal of any of the translations, in my opinion.  But today, I want to close by reading this parable from a popular paraphrased version of the Scripture. This is something you will rarely hear me do. But I found this particular version meaningful and I want to be sure you heard the lesson behind it. This is Matthew 18:21-35 from THE MESSAGE.

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

Let me make it clear.. I am a vile, sinful, filthy creature… I am unworthy of my beautiful wife or my precious children. I am unworthy of the friendships that I have. The only thing that makes me of any value is the fact that Jesus loved me enough to die for me. I was headed for Hell and he paid the penalty for every lustful thought, every selfish action, every grudge, every harsh word, every greedy move, everything that I have ever done that has fallen short of God’s standard for me.

I committed my life to Him and said when I did that, that I would spend the rest of my life serving Him. But Satan tries to hold me back. He finds my weak spot or several weak spots and uses it to try to destroy my walk with Jesus.

And one of the best ways he can hit me personally is through the art of grudge holding. You hurt me, you hurt my family, I have a hard time dealing with it.  I say “I forgive” but the bitter feelings that seem to stay with me indicate that’s not true. It affects my other relationships, it affects my preaching, but most importantly it affects my relationship with Jesus.

Just last night, I told Danna that I was having a hard time with some relationships with people that I have not seen in some time but will be seeing soon. I told her that I didn’t know how I was going to deal with it.

Then I began reviewing my sermon notes… and I realized that if I let it go unchecked, it was going to seriously hurt my Jesus.

And that’s something I can never do.

And neither can you.

THE SECOND MILE

2 Oct

Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

Mt. 5:41…  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

. Jesus said this is important for His disciples to get a handle on early in their Christian walk. Vs. 41 is the “Second Mile Verse”. Yet not many Christians apply themselves to this principle today.

To introduce the message today let me begin by explaining some of the wording and customs of the day in which the Scripture was written.

The word “compel” carries with it the idea of “a readiness and willingness to submit to inconvenience or unreasonable demands.”

The Roman mile was 1000 paces or 1520 yards…a little shorter than the English mile.

In context this has reference to the Roman Army; if a Roman soldier demanded that a Jewish man carry his burden a mile, which was what the law specified, then Jesus said that he should carry it twain, or two miles.

But notice the wording that Jesus uses. He doesn’t say anything about a Roman Soldier. He says, “And whosoever shall compel you”. To you and I today this would mean, “If a neighbor” or a “co-worker” or a “church member” would compel us to do a certain thing then we should do twice as much as they expect us to do.

“Go with him two”. This requires a cheerful compliance with the Roman law.

Scripture tells us of another who was “compelled” as Jesus made His way to Golgotha:
Mat 27:32 “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.”

Simon Cyrene had no choice but to carry the cross, but Jesus says the Second Mile will be up to our own volunteering.

The Second Mile will not be an enjoyable trip unless we do it for the Lord.

There are some things about the “Second Mile” that keep some Christians from traveling it:

THE SECOND MILE IS A LONELY ROAD

(Just the Lord and you.) Are you traveling the Second Mile, or are you the cause of someone else traveling the Second Mile? There are only two types of Christians on this roadway; those who travel the Second Mile willingly, and those who force others to travel it. (The Roman Soldier was the reason for Jewish boys to be traveling the Second Mile.)

It’s not crowded. It gets lonely on the Second Mile. Not many there that you can fellowship with.

But Jesus is there on the second mile.
And Satan is there also.
Lonely…

THE SECOND MILE NEVER ENDS

It has no ending marker. If you are following this radical philosophy of Jesus and someone asks you where you are at in your Christian life, you should answer them, “I am on the Second Mile.” You can’t say, “I am at the halfway point or three-fourths. There is no end to the Second Mile. The Bible never introduces a “Third Mile.” The good news is that if you are a Second Mile Christian you’re never “over the hill!” And the finish line may not be in sight, but we know it’s out there by faith, and will suddenly appear w/ a shout of an angel and the blast of a trump!

Let me ask you, “How long have you been on the Second Mile?” “Are you on the Second Mile?”

A Coast Guard crew was summoned on a stormy night to rescue survivors from a sinking vessel. One member of the crew was fearful: “Captain,” he moaned, “we’ll never get back.” “Our orders aren’t to come back, only to go.”

THE SECOND MILE WILL ALWAYS BE UNDER ATTACK

There will be a lot of land mines on this mile.

From Satan.
1. He will be trying to lure you off to the side somehow.
2. He may use friends.
3. He may use family.
4. He may use fear.

From the “Seated”…We Can Expect Attacks From Those Who Refuse To Go The Second Mile. “Why are you always down there at the church?”  Or, the discouraging attack of the seated as they won’t help, won’t attend, won’t help make things a success. And yet will expect it to get done and complain and point fingers if not! It’s discouraging and lonely enough already, can’t you help?

A carnal Christian has no boundary of what he expects a “Second Mile” Christian to do. They won’t do it themselves, but they think everyone else should.

We give Satan a lot of credit, but we are our 2nd worst enemy as we continue the abuse and neglect of our own!

THE SECOND MILE IS A BURDENSOME ROAD

Gal. 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

The Jewish lad was to carry the Roman soldier’s burden for one mile. Jesus changed that and said to carry it two miles.

When I hear all of these energetic people always wanting to do something – go somewhere – put yet another iron on the fire – etc. I think “why aren’t they tired?” The Second Mile is a burdensome road. How can they have so much energy? Then I think, maybe they aren’t on the Second Mile.
But…

THE SECOND MILE LEADS TO JOY.

That First Mile was required by law, but the Second Mile is continued voluntarily.

I hope every person in this room is tuned in right now. I am going to give you the reason why perhaps your life is not as joyful as it should be.

Happiness of the heart never seeks recognition. The happiness of the heart is all the reward a Second Miler needs.

Many church members have that “consumer mentality”. They want to be served…they like it that way.
A Christian is never to even think of being served by anyone

.
Mt. 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Jesus said he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. We need a contributor mentality, not a consumer mentality.

Christian joy and happiness never comes from being served, but from serving. You won’t find one Scripture that even hints that you should be on the receiving end of serving.

The reason your home may not be as happy as it should be is because someone is not going the Second Mile.

When each family member is willing to be a Second Miler, there will be happiness in the home.

If every married couple in this church would ignore self when it comes to wants and wishes and then go the Second Mile – every home would be much happier. [focus on self when being critical, lest you be “hypo” critical!]

THE SECOND MILE LEADS TO REWARDS

Rewards will only be given to those who travel the Second Mile…and that w/ the right motive.

If you sacrifice in order that you will receive rewards; the rewards will never come, but if you sacrifice because you love the Lord, then your rewards will be immeasurable.

Why should each Christian go the Second Mile? Because the Lord Jesus Christ went all the way to Calvary for us.

Hebrews 11 is filled with Second Milers. (Read)
God’s Word is filled with Second Milers!

THE SECOND MILE IS DIFFERENT FOR EACH ONE.

[this is why we need to bear one another’s burdens, and count our blessings…not all have the same stretch of road ahead of them, and yet:]
Now listen to me very closely…

None will be excused from the second mile because of infirmity.

There is much that can be done and still be in pain. I believe that God expects each Christian to serve through the pain and discomfort. I have not found any scripture that would relieve from duty those who are in pain. I believe God expects each of us to continue on when we may not want to. And nodding heads now testify to the fact that it actually helps to stay focused on something else and stay busy. And God gets great glory when He’s counted worthy of that!

Think about the challenge left by Paul in (Phil 4:4) “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” What did Paul have to rejoice about? How many of you could put the following in your resume, or your diary?
2 Cor. 11:23-28…

23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in [b]far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship,through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

After having many hard experiences, notice what he said:

Phil 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” 
We can be sure that Paul had much physical damage to his body from all that happened to him, but he kept on going.

I think what Paul is saying in Vs. 13, is that he doesn’t consider to have gained anything of any value, – no possessions, no attainment. Nothing in his past or present is going to have any control or any determination on his pressing toward the mark for Christ.

I get a little bit discouraged when people skip responsibilities because of some minor ache or pain. Sometimes, when someone calls and says, “I have a splinter in my little pinky, and I can’t come to church today”, I want to tell them, “Cut your finger off, but come on anyway.” You don’t call in but drag in sometimes! Seriously, I’m not talking about genuine providential hindrances, or contagious people running around at handshake time, but the minor things that we’d go to work with or off to our hobbies with, but not to church. When we want an excuse it’s not hard to fine one!

Excuses, Excuses
You hear them everyday
Now the devil he’ll supply them if in church you stay away
When people come to worship God, the devil always loses
So to keep those folks away from church, he offers them excuses
Well in the summer it’s too hot, In the winter it’s too cold
In the springtime when the weather’s just right, find some place else to go
Well it’s up to the mountains or down to the beach or to visit some old friend
Or just stay home and kind of relax and hope the kin folk start droppin’ in

Well those church benches; they’re too hard
And that song leader’s way too loud
Well you know how nervous you get when you’re sittin’ in a great big crowd
Now the doctor told you to watch them crowds, they’ll set you back
But you go to that ol’ ball game ’cause ya say it helps you to relax

Well a headache Sunday morning, And a backache Sunday night
But by work time Monday morning, you’re feeling quite all right
Well one of the children has a cold, pneumonia do you suppose?
Why, the whole family has to stay home! (Just to blow that poor kid’s nose)

I know that I will be labeled as insensitive, but we need to toughen up as Christians. Sometimes we must just grin and bear it. Keep on going down the Second Mile.

I am convinced that many of our hardships and pains might leave us if we would forget them and go on down the Second Mile Road…teach Satan he can’t keep you down that way. Many teach him alright…they’ve taught him to consistently make sure something minor comes up!

None will be excused from the Second Mile because of ignorance

Now, I took swimming lessons when I was a kid the normal way. But there are many I know had only one lesson and that was: Someone would throw you in! If you didn’t swim out real soon they would throw the next one in to rescue the first one, and so on. Finally someone would learn to swim and then rescue the others. It was swim or drown. And they still teach babies to swim that way…if momma will allow it! Pools shouldn’t have steps anyway…the way to get in is to jump in!

That’s how it is in the church. We give effort to training, but we’d never actually do anything if we all didn’t just jump in and start paddling! You can’t use the excuse, “I don’t know how to do that job.” Learn how!

None will be excused from the second mile because of their itinerary [we all have busy schedules today]
Eccl 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might

God expects us to find time to do that which He has assigned us. It may mean that I have to sleep less or play less. It’s all about priorities and putting God first.
Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

The American culture has been over influenced by a life style of ease until we think it is our right. God said, “Man shall earn his living by the sweat of his brow.”

THE SECOND MILE WILL BE TRAVELED ONLY BY THOSE WHO ARE HOLY

No Carnal are On The Second Mile. The carnal dare not enter.
No Complainers are On The Second Mile. The complainers will never begin the Second Mile.
No Jealous are On The Second Mile. Jealousy will keep you from being successful in anything.
No Greedy are On The Second Mile.
No “Hit And Miss Christians” are On The Second Mile.

Isaiah 35:8-9
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. [9] No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.