2012-01-01 New Year Call
This is the New Year sermon. It is a call to commitment or re-commitment to Jesus Christ. I would like to start off by reading something that is very familiar to all of us. It is Matthew chapter 28, verse 18 through 20. I am reading out of the King James.
Then Jesus came and spake unto them (that’s the disciples) saying “All power is given unto me in Heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Now, end of the world I know it means actually end of the age, but we talk about this. That’s one of our favorite verses, lo, He is always with us, even unto the ends of the age. He will never leave us nor forsake us, and we emphasize that, but here’s something that most of us don’t too often have emphasized is what He says in verse 18, “And Jesus came and spake unto them saying,” listen to what he says, “All power is given unto me in Heaven and on earth.” Now, why would He say that? What’s the whole point of saying, “All power is given unto me in Heaven and on earth?”
We’re talking to the resurrected Christ. You know, He’s a pretty standout guy already, and now He’s saying, “All power is given to me in Heaven and on earth.” He is playing a trump card here. You hear in politics today with the election coming up people play the race card, they play the gender card and they play different things. They throw out something that they think will trump whatever their opponent happens to be trying to play, I’m relating this to a card game you know where they have trumps, so they throw out a card that they’re hoping will trump whatever it is that their opponent has.
Jesus Christ here is playing a trump card. He is playing the ultimate trump card. What He is saying is, I am playing the ultimate authority card. I, Jesus, have been given all power in heaven and on earth. Listen to what I’m saying. I wish that I had one of those big theatrical voices that you hear some people do because it is just awe-inspiring because it should come out like this: ALL POWER IS GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH. NOW LISTEN TO WHAT I’M TELLING YOU.
He is trying to drive home the point of the importance of this. All power, listen, focus, pay attention. He is trumping that. He is driving home the point. I don’t have the voice. I don’t have the exact words that it needs, but let me try this.
FOLKS, PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT I’M TRYING TO TELL YOU RIGHT NOW. He told us as the almighty there is one thing that we’re supposed to be doing. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
That’s the last thing. The most important thing is go ye therefore, teach, baptizing, that’s a form of making them identify themselves with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with Jesus Christ who is the very God of very God. He is raised from the dead, the messiah. He is saying get out there and go to these people and make them identify with God, walking in their salvation. And that’s not good enough, make them disciples, make them dedicated followers after me.
And that’s where the teaching comes in. I guess one of the things that kind of bothers me a lot is, we just went through the Christmas season, and once again we had the big discussions on put Christ back in Christmas. We have to overcome the X on Xmas. Most people don’t realize once again that X is the Greek letter, it’s the letter chi, it’s stands for the first “c” in Christ, and that’s just the shorthand, that’s just an abbreviation for the word Christ. So Xmas means Christ-mas, Christmas. What I’m saying is we have been fighting over this minor issue hammers and tongs, spending money, griping and groaning and moaning, and God the almighty, Jesus Christ, did not say I say unto you, keep Christ in Christmas, keep Christ in Xmas.
We should have focused our energy not wasting it on that trivial, maybe I should say that dribble, not focusing on something so slight. If we had focused on what He said and spent all that money on making disciples, we would have had disciples who were judges, who were making court rulings, who are representatives and congressmen and senators who are making law, people sitting in governorship and White Houses enforcing the law. Had we spent more time making disciples instead of putting we want Christ in Christmas, we would have people backing up the teachings of Christ, and we wouldn’t be fighting trying to keep the mangers and the crèches on public property. We would have dominated politics.
But instead, the world, the world and the devil, pull this off. You see magicians, and I like watching magicians. How they do some of that stuff just baffles me. And I don’t want it explained to me, I want to figure this stuff out for myself. I know it’s just an illusion, but one of the tricks of an illusionist it to misdirect our attention, get you looking at the right hand side of the stage while whatever it is, is going on on the left-hand side of the stage, and then when you’re attention snaps back you’re like oooh, look, magic. Something happened, and it’s so awe-inspiring when all it is is misdirection.
We have been misdirected into fighting putting Christ in Christmas, and we haven’t been doing what the almighty who has the power in Heaven and on earth told us to do, make disciples. Don’t worry about putting Christ in Christmas.
I’m sorry, I was chasing a rabbit there, but along with this whole thing is He didn’t tell us to stay. He told us to go. He didn’t say make believers, He said make disciples. He didn’t say get people to come together and have them to identify with a particular denomination, He said get them to identify with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He didn’t say get them together and entertain them, He said teach them. He didn’t say a thing about entertaining people.
I was reading a statement from a rather large church, and they were bragging. They said we’re getting more people to come into our building. They say church, but really it’s just a church building that the church meets in. We have more people gathering together in mass because we have changed our paradigm, we changed the way we are doing things, and now we have become much more entertaining, and it’s like every Sunday morning going to a concert.
Show me in the scriptures where it says entertain the people. Show me where it says throw a concert. What it says is make disciples, teach these people. How much teaching is going on in the entertainment churches? I’m thankful that the gospel of Christ is being preached in whatever form, but it’s not make believers, it’s make disciples.
And here’s something else, I just want to throw this in there. It’s on my heart and has been for a while. One of the tools I was taught to use was the idea of when you’re witnessing you go to the person and say, “Did you know that God has a wonderful plan for your life?”
Now, I realize that God to a Christian only gives us good stuff. God does not give us bad stuff, and He also promises that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.
So if you love the Lord you’re called, you’re a Christian you’re called, so He promises that He only gives good gifts to his children, and He transmutes everything to good for you. You just have to have faith and trust and watch him transmute that into good for you.
But now the world itself has a completely different idea of what it wants to have happen to you. Let me read this to you. This is Paul over in 2 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 23 through 28, and I am going to focus on starting at the last half of 23. Paul is talking about these ministers who are claiming to be better than He is.
Starting at 23 he says, “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool). I am more.” He is saying I am more of a minister than they are. “I am more in labors, more abundant in stripes above measure. ” Stripes means beatings. “In prisons more frequently. In deaths oft.” He was left for dead on occasion. “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the deep; In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
We’re taught to use this enticing. God has a wonderful plan for your life, and He does. He promises forgiveness of our sins. He promises to be with us, to lead us, to guide us and direct us if we acknowledge him in all of our ways which means if we choose to be disciples He will lead, guide and direct. I don’t see that He calls this if you choose just to be believers, but you have to acknowledge him in all your ways. That’s discipleship.
Anyway, back from chasing that, this idea of oh, it’s just all peaches and cream and it’s a wonderful life is all that’s out there, get real folks. The world and the devil have other ideas. They have things they want to do to you, and Paul just ran off a whole list. Does that sound like Paul had a wonderful life? Did it sound like whoa, look at me, eat your hearts out. I’ve been beaten, I’ve been imprisoned and I’ve been left for dead. He was thrown over walls in baskets to escape, and people were always coming after him. His own countrymen were trying to kill him. And the places in the foreign countries were trying to kill him. People were trying to get at him.
What Paul was saying, though, is in comparison, all the bad stuff that happened to me, the gospel of Jesus Chris is so wonderful, is so important that I willingly suffer all of this bad stuff because the gospel of Jesus Christ is so important, and I want to obey the one who has the power in heaven and on earth. I want to obey what He tells me to do. I want to go out there and share it because I know what it did for me, and I want to share that with other people.
Discipleship is a call, and it doesn’t say stay. It doesn’t say sit. It is a call to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. You need to be in a church that one, is teaching, making disciples, that is teaching the gospel of Christ and telling you get out there, and them do it! Don’t just sit there and say well, the preacher told us to go out there. Get out there and go. You don’t have to go to a mission field, but you should go across the street. You should go to a friend. You should go to a neighbor and not force this on them, but when the opportunity arises share with them what great things Christ has done for you.
Don’t be bashful. When God does something great, share it. He didn’t do that for you to just hold it to yourself. He wants you to share the things that He has done for you. Go to a church where this kind of teaching is going on. Go there and grow. Go there and support. Go there and support with your presence, with your time, with your effort, and yeah, even with your money if necessary.
There are people, and I am one of them, who have said I wish, I wish, I wish that I had a chance to just sit in the presence of Jesus Christ. I mean, wouldn’t that just rock your world? Even if He didn’t say anything. You’re just sitting there beside Him on a rock, and you’re going that’s Jesus sitting right there beside me. Oh wow! This is the guy who has all power in Heaven and on earth, and He is sitting beside me. Whoa.
You know, we want that kind of experience. Well, I’m going to tell you how to get it. Go to church! What does He say? He says “Where 2 or more are gathered there am I in their midst.”
Now I know God is everywhere, He is omnipresent, God is everywhere, but if you want to be in the presence of Jesus Christ, go to church! He didn’t say He would be on the golf course. He said I will be where 2 or more are gathered in my name. He didn’t say He would be there at the church quilting bee. He didn’t say He would be there at the church brunch. He didn’t say He would be at the church, if you go to a big church with a coffee bar. He didn’t say He would be there at the church’s baseball team playing games or the bowling alley, or whatever the church league happens to be in that you’re in.
But, He said I will be where 2 or more gather in my name. Get yourself to a church! You want to sit in the presence of Jesus Christ, go to a church. Go to where people are gathered in his name. Go to a church that’s teaching his word, not what they think, but when they’re reading scriptures and just extrapolating right out of the Bible. The scriptures say this, this, this and this. No we don’t always agree with what we’re all…I don’t agree with all my friends on what they read in the scriptures, but it’s minor details that we disagree over, but God, Jesus Christ, the one who has power in Heaven ad earth, He said I will be in churches. Go to a church. You will be in the presence of Jesus Christ.
Now, a lot of us older people who have been in church, and I’ve been at this for about 40 years now, yeah, we do get a little burned out and we get a little tired and sometimes where preachers like me are going on all the time. We get a little tired of all this kind of stuff, but He is there. And we say you know, I’ve been told He’s coming, He’s coming. When is it He’s coming? When is it?
Well, let me share this. It is kind of a long thing, but let me share this with you. Noah was told to build an ark because a flood was coming and judgment was coming upon the face of the earth. We’re told that judgment is coming upon the face of the earth. When God told Noah to build the ark, it took 120 years. That’s not exactly speed right there, folks. He didn’t give him power tools so He could get this whipped out in no time.
He knew it would take the guy a long time. Why did He do that? Because He was extending grace to the generation, to all the people that were in Noah’s time, extending grace to them, because Noah was a preacher of righteousness. He was going out there sharing about the judgment that was coming, calling them into repentance. He gave them 120 years of grace, of mercy, to repent and come to him.
Methuselah, I don’t remember whether Methuselah was Noah’s grandfather or Noah’s dad, it’s a mute point, but Methuselah was older than Noah, and I’m told that the name Methuselah has a hidden meaning. Like my name, Doyle, means stranger. People that have met me go yep, you’re pretty strange, but Doyle means stranger. And every name has some kind of a meaning attached to it.
Well, Methuselah’s name means right down to it’s root meaning, which is; when he dies, it will come. Methuselah’s name means when he dies, it will come. What’s it? The judgment of God.
You will also notice that Noah is the man who lived the longest in the Bible. Yeah, so? Because when he dies it will come. The judgment of God would come when he died. God let that man’s life be extended to the longest period of any man on the face of the earth that has ever lived because He was extending mercy to that same generation, the generation of Noah, because the year that Methuselah died is the same year that the flood of Noah hit. When he dies, Methuselah, it will come, Noah got on his ark and the flood happened.
Here’s another one. Jesus died around 30 A.D. The temple was finally destroyed in 70 A.D. So why did Christ, why did God, allow 40 years for that temple to go on up there with the continual sacrifices? Because He was extending mercy to the people, to the Jews and the Isrealites that were coming from all over the world, giving them a chance to come to Jerusalem where they would run into the disciples of the Messiah, Jesus, and they would be given the opportunity to believe in Him and to convert, to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to call upon the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
They were extended 40 years so that the gospel of Christ was given to this entire generation, a period of grace and mercy was extended out there to all people. So, don’t think that this lingering time that we’re having is a sign that eh, it’s not really going to happen. This is God extending mercy.
Let me read to you out of 2 Peter, chapter 3, verse 9. This is the apostle Peter himself writing. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but it is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are in them therefore shall be burned up.
What he is saying is folks, you can hang your hat on the fact that Christ is coming back. The day of judgement is coming, and just because it’s taking a long time to get here doesn’t mean it’s not coming. It’s God’s way of extending mercy and grace.
What’s this got to do with what discipleship is? He is extending mercy and grace so that we as disciples by strict orders from He who has power on the face of the earth and in heaven, all power, so that we can go out and fulfill the command that He told us to do. Go, make disciples, get those people to be identified with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and teach them that they too can go out. We’re doing it so that people will have a chance to come to repentance because that day is coming when the door will be shut, when that one straw will break the camel’s back, one sin too many, one person has done one thing too much, and the anger and the fury of God will say you’ve rejected my Christ, you’ve rejected repentance, you’ve rejected the blood of the lamb, you rejected the sacrifice that I have provided. You have rejected, you have spat upon it, you have trodden upon it. You have called me a fool and you called my disciples fools. It’s over with, boom. Folks, it’s time we get back up in that saddle. It’s time we get out and get in the fight.
Philippians chapter 3, verse 13. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended,” that means to have grabbed onto all the great things and goodness of God, “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.”
He is forgetting what’s behind. This is it. Forget what happened in 2011. Forget what happened in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, in the 90s, in the 80s, in the 60s, or however old you are, forget all that stuff. Even if it’s good stuff. I had friends that used to get together because they were on a high school basketball team, and about once a month they would go down and shoot hoops and relive the glory days.
Now, that’s what they would tell you. We’re going to go down there and live our glory days. And they would relive all the good things the team did, and talk about how they pulled this off or that off, and what other teams they beat. You know, just hang out, reliving the glory days.
Paul says I forget the past. I forget everything behind me, including the good stuff and the bad stuff. Get over it. It’s done, it’s finished, we can’t change it, and folks besides that, our glory days are not behind us. If you’re a disciple of Jesus Christ, your glory days are in front of you because we are called, we are going to be called into the glory of God our father. We’ve identified with him. We’re going to be called. Our glory days are ahead.
Forgetting what lies behind, let us press forward to that higher calling, to that upward calling so that one day we will Hear Jesus Christ say come up here, and boom, we will fly through the air and thus we shall ever be with the Lord, and we will hear him say, “Well done now good and faithful servants.”
Well done now good and faithful servant. I don’t believe that He is going to say well done now good and faithful servants to people who are believers. I think He is only going to say well done now good and faithful servants to people who are disciples. People who are disciples, who are willing to go, willing to teach, willing to support with time, effort, money and their gifts. Let us stir up the gifts that lie within us. Let us stir that up.
Our glory days are in front of us, not behind us. Let us become disciples and do what the person who has all power in heaven and earth commanded us to do. This is not a wish, it is not a desire, it is not a warm fuzzy feeling. If you’re a Christian, it is a command to you, make disciples. Get in my presence, and the only place that you can find the presence of Jesus Christ is in an assembly of believers. Get yourself there, support it, learn, go out and get other people to come to your congregation to be in the presence of the almighty who has the power in heaven and on earth.
Folks, this is what we are called to do, and this is a New Year. Let us do it. Let us go after it hammers and tongs.
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus I ask that you lead, guide and direct us. We do want to be disciples. We do want to be taught, and we do want to go out. We do want to reach. We do want to teach. We want to use this time of mercy that is extended to this world not going after dribble, but rather going out after the one thing that is important, making disciples for you. Give us the power, give us the wherewithal and give us the cash flow. Whatever it takes God, be with us and give it to us so that we can be disciples and give glory and honor because it is more important what He did for us than all the bad things that happen to us on the face of the earth. God, protect us in the name of Jesus from all the bad stuff that Paul went through, but give us the grace to stand there if something should befall us, to say I put that behind me ASAP, and I pick myself up and I’m going after the spreading of the gospel. Bless us with that. Encourage us. Speak to us. Guard us and guide us. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.