Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P68 (09-22-20)
Our natural fallen flesh wants to be noticed and wants its own way. But as our mind gets renewed we learn to walk in the new way of the Spirit. We look at the example of Jesus as he walked this earth in total dependency on His Father. We see that attitude of humility of Jesus to leave heaven to live among men and become like one of us, who, in his attitude of servitude, came not to be served, but to serve, not to condemn but to save, and to lay down his life as a ransom for many. We zoom in and look at one detail of his life that demonstrates this attitude of not wanting your own way.
Jesus was sent on a rescue mission to rescue mankind from a certain condition of spiritual death and the problem of death is solved by life. If that problem is not solved, there is no hope for mankind. If what caused our death, which is sin, is not taken away first, mankind is lost forever. And if life is not given back to man, he will forever live in total misery and bankruptcy, without the love of God in his heart.
That was the purpose for which Jesus came. And we see the agony he experienced in the garden of Gethsemane. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that he could be raised to new life for our sakes. There was no other way for man to be saved, or to have the life of God placed in you. In Him is where life is, so as to become the righteousness of God in Him. So he would say, “not my will but your will be done.” The will of the Father was for mankind to be redeemed and restored to a right relationship with God.
So, God, in His great love for you and me, wants to restore you and me to Himself. Through the shed blood of Christ Jesus on a cross, we have been reconciled to God. Having been reconciled, His appeal to us is to receive the new life, the resurrected life of Christ Jesus. The same attitudes of heart in Christ Jesus, the same Spirit of God living in Him, He wants to place in us. He wants us to know this love of God, as demonstrated by Christ Jesus, so that we may have the life of Christ living in us, and so we can experience this love, and for this love to be seen and felt in our interactions with other people.
So listen now as Bob shares about these attitudes of humility, attitudes of servitude, attitudes of not having our own way and of not having to be first or noticed. These attitudes express itself in love toward one another where you esteem others as more important than yourself, where you learn to become the servant of all and overcome evil with good.
These attitudes are so contrary to the attitudes of the world, and in conflict with our natural flesh we are so accustomed to want to please but these attitudes of heart is what separates us from the rest of the world. This is what is referred to as being sanctified, having the mind of Christ, being renewed in your thinking. Your identity is a child of God and that identity is what separates you from the rest of the world. The world is not worthy of you. The world does not understand you and you seem strange to the world. Your citizenship is in heaven and is not of this world.
Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane, prior to being arrested by an army of Roman soldiers, prior to be taken to trial under Pontius Pilate and to be tortured, to be crucified and buried, knowing these things had to be done for the will of the Father, for our sakes. In that garden, we read that tears came down like sweats of blood from his face, for he was in terrific agony. He knelt down and said, “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me.”
41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
He is saying that if there is any other way to redeem man except for me to have to become sin and take upon myself and literally be molested by the world I made, if there is any way to do that, do it. But on the other hand, it is not my will but yours be done. That is not Jesus saying that it is not his will to die for the creation of man. He came for that purpose. But in the final moments, it is like saying, “Did we miss something here? Is there any other way to be doing this Father than me having to be subjected to taking upon every sin of this world?” But he said, “not my will but yours be done.” This is an attitude of servitude that comes from surrendering your and my rights to not always have to have our own way. It is a perfect picture of that truth, that we do not have to have our own way.
1 John 5:4-15
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.
It says in scripture that anything we ask according to His will He hears us and answers us. We have people who negate that and make fun of that, saying that it is a lack of faith, anything you ask. “Man, your faith is big enough to change his will.” So, in essence they are saying to not say according to your will. “You are a little god down here. Your will is what matters down here.” That is that egotistical and heretical type of attitude that is being taught by a large portion of Christianity, that type of nonsense. Jesus did not see that as something as a lack of faith, for saying, “not my will but yours be done.” but people who call themselves Christian do, but Jesus didn’t. Not my will but your will be done. So anything according to God’s will, He hears us and answers us.
I have often asked people, “Do you want your prayers answered or God’s will for your life?” Yet people will say, “If it is my desire and my heart and if it is my will it has to be God’s will.” That is how some thinking takes place.
We need to understand that when Jesus prayed and if Jesus said that everything he did and said was what he saw the Father do and He told me to say it, then the Father was literally the one who put this thought on his heart. The Father saw the agony of His Son. The Father in essence was having him to ask the question because the answer was already there. No, My Son, there is no other way. We know that. So you are going to go to the cross in accordance with My will and the totality of God.
When we live our lives here on this earth we want our own way. Everything the flesh wants is our own way. That is why we get mad at people because they do not do what I want them to do. That is why people leave their mates. They do not do what I wanted them to do. We are very, strong willed people. And it is very difficult for us many times to function on this earth in such a way to say, “I am not here to do my will. I am here to seek the will of the Father and to act accordingly. What does God want me to do?”
I am convinced that anyone that God calls into a ministry has committed himself to the provision of that person and that ministry in all ways. I think that God looks at that and says, “You are my child. As My child, I promised to provide everything you need for life and godliness.” I think that is a commitment from God, not us. That is why we do not have to sit around working and seeking and struggling and all of these things in our lives. God has promised to supply our needs. It is the difference between saying, “Lord, I do not know how many needs that I have. I have got a lot of greeds, but I do know that you are the one who is going to supply these things for me.” versus saying “I do not necessarily want what I want because what I want is not always good for me.” What our flesh desires is not always good for us. If you do not believe that, go to a cafeteria line. We develop this attitude of surrendering our right to always have your own way.
We also want to be right. That happens in marriage a lot. That is another thing of my own way. We think, “My way is the right way.” Those are always attitudes that cause conflict between people. When we really have an attitude of servitude, especially in marriage. “Here is a woman I want to serve in love the rest of my life.” To the woman, “There is a man I want to serve and love the rest of my life.” What do you desire? My will is not necessarily yours. Let us work together on these things. Marriage is not, “I am King Kong“ or “The purpose of marriage is to meet every one of my needs. I do not care what yours are. I am going to get mine.” That is not marriage.
Jesus’ attitude is this. “If it is possible, take this cup from me, but yet not my will but yours be done.”
The next passage in Luke 14:7-11 is on the attitudes of how we interact toward the body of Christ. We talked about our attitudes toward others’ mistakes, attitudes of surrender, attitudes of not having your own way. Now, the attitude of surrendering your right to always be noticed.
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. sup>9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I recall a story, as I think of this passage. Amy, who is my wife, in her life, after the war was over and she was in Germany, a very, very impoverished area, bombed out, as most of Germany was at that time. But the children were at least allowed to get out and play over there. The Americans now came in, the occupation. When a child sees an American in uniform, they just walk around and try to get some gum or something. They found that there was a bakery nearby. So the children would go out and pick a bouquet of flowers and go to the door with those flowers sticking out of their hands. The person would come out and laugh and give them a doughnut. Another thing that would happen, and would begin to learn when that would be. Maybe that GI was doing it illegally, I do not know. But they would open a crack in the door and stick out a plate. The children would run for that and grab the doughnuts off of that plate. Amy was very shy. So she never got up there. She always hung back and waited. One day that occurred. All the children would run up and grab those doughnuts and of course they were all gone. Then one day this guy comes by. She very shyly went up to him. He handed her two doughnuts. It was an example of that the least will be first. He saw that girl who was not pushy like the others and he provided for her. That to me is an example of the humility and what God will use in a humble heart, a spirit of humility.
I have seen in Christian circles, and for as long as I have been around, I have seen about all there is to see. But one of the things and you have seen some of that. We would go out to different conventions. You would see people who are in Christian work unbelievably pushy. I knew a lady who was a well known teacher who is about as pushy as anyone you can get. I do not want to be judgmental, but I am very observant. Pushing your way in and introducing ourselves and telling them how many seminars you taught. It is like you are your own public relations person. It is sickening to you to see someone pushing themselves as if we need to do that.
If God is in control and it is not my will but His be done, why do we need to go about advertising ourselves? That is the fleshly spirit that wants to be noticed saying, “I want to be in the top.”, “I want to be in all the meetings.”, or “I want my name published in Christian circles.”. All those things are so shallow. I have been there. I know what that is like but it is so so shallow. People try to get popular in things. All you are going to do is get popular in your own sphere of influence. They may know who Billy Graham is but that is about it. Our sphere of influence is our church life. You can get your name known among your little sphere, but how many people really know you. Big deal.
It is one of those things that we have to come to learn through life. I remember the story that my dad told me. He was very practical almost to the point of being painful sometimes. I remember in my high school senior year that I played basketball and I was a pretty good basketball player. So, I had my name in the paper and other papers and this type of thing. I was a high scorer. So, dad one time said to me, really Barnabus the Encourager, not. “Bob, right now when you walk out of the gym, people are screaming and yelling and clapping and everybody knows who you are. Next year when you graduate and you go to college and you come back into that gym, they will not know who you are.” I thought, “Oh, my poor dad. Senility certainly must have set in.” Dad was right. I came in the next year and I could hardly wait to come back my freshman year in college, and go to one of those ball games, so everybody would look around and say, “Look, there is Bob George.” Nobody knew who I was. They had new stars and new people. That was a great lesson for me to learn at that time.
I remember our next door neighbor was a gentleman by the name of Crawford Parker. Crawford was the lieutenant governor of the state of Indiana during that period of time. After serving a couple of terms as lieutenant governor, he ran for governor. A very charming man, very nice man, and we loved the family. We were next door neighbors and grew up together. A dear relationship we had with each other. My dad tells the story because my dad was involved in political things as we all were. He was at the state house on the day of the election. Crawford lost the election. He said he walked down the steps there at the deal, walked by and I do not know how many people, and no one even spoke. He was now a has been. Before, just licking the boots, Crawford this and Crawford that. After he lost the election, do not even know who you are. People retire back into obscurity with those types of things. You see many times in the newspapers or on television, where people will go back into the past and pick up some of the lives of the famous old movie stars. where they are living in obscurity. No one knows who you are and no one cares. They have new stars. That is what life is about. We have to understand that.
When we exit out of this life here, it is like putting your fist in a bucket of water and pulling it out and seeing how much it missed. It says in the scripture, we are remembered no more. Our place is remembered no more.
15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
That does not mean that we do not know of people who have lived in the past, but it is the fact that is just the way it is. So for us to get a big head over what we are doing or who we are is just total disillusionment.
So what Jesus is saying here is, “Look, do not be pushing yourself. Do not be thinking more highly of yourself than you ought and push yourself to the front. Even now or maybe later on, someone is going to be a lot more important than you.” It is kind of like Crawford going to the front and someone saying, “Hey, Crawford, do you mind going back to the table. Someone else has been elected governor. Why don’t you go back to the beginning and if they want to honor you, they will honor you. If they do not, that is okay, too.”
We almost get into an obsession of wanting to be honored, number one and noticed. There are people who walk into rooms just waiting to be noticed. It is a lot more fun to walk in and not be noticed. That is why I like radio. Unless people meet you, they do not know who you are unless you talk. The fact is you can be in a situation where you do not have to be noticed. There is nothing fun about being noticed. Yet people will almost kill to be in a position where their faces have been shown enough that people recognize them. He is saying to us, “Do not do that.”
11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I think again, so many times, of how that has come true, not only in my family’s life but in my own life, that if we would just recognize that in Christ we are a child of God. There are no heroes. There are no big deals. I recognize that people are very appreciative of teachers who have taught them. I am very appreciative of Major Ian Thomas and some of the contributions he has made in my life but I do not look at him as some big hero. He is a child of God, dearly loved by God, whom God gave an ability to understand scripture, pass that on, and I am so grateful for that. But we do not have to be hero worshippers. Neither do you push yourself. I have never seen that man ever push himself any place. I see that humility is a marvelous characteristic. I think humbleness comes from God but by that other is nothing but flesh motivation.
Our next point is surrendering our right to pay back evil for evil. Now that is a tough one. But Matthew 5:38-39 tells us this.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
Now, guys, I look at that and say, “Impossible.” Why did scripture say eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Because that is actual justice. In other words, if you poke me in the eye, I will poke you in the eye. If you knock out my tooth, I will knock out your tooth too. That is justice when you think about it. But man does not think that way. A man says, ”if you hit me in the eye, I will annihilate you.” or “If you flirt with my wife, I will kill you.” Justice would be to flirt with his wife. But it does not work that way. “I am going to take your head off.” Because in us is often that attitude and tendency of man to overkill, so to speak. Scripture says justice is eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. That would be if someone strikes you on the cheek, you strike him back. But Jesus says, ”No, I got one better than that. I realize that the law says if someone plucks out your eye, pluck out theirs and if someone knocks out your tooth, knock out theirs. I know the law says if someone slaps you on the cheek, slap it back on theirs, but I say to turn your cheek on them.” I say, “Where in the world did that come from? I cannot do that.” But he says, “Do not resist an evil person.” If people would listen to that. Let me give you examples of that kind of thing.
You have people who are anti-abortion, and you understand that, but they go kill doctors. That is about as stupid as you can get. I will go kill doctors because I am against doctors killing a baby. That is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth alright. That is taking the law into your own hands, destroying your own life and resisting evil. He says, “Do not resist that evil person.” In other words, “turn the other cheek.”
I remember when we were living in San Bernardino, CA, there was a family who lived next door. Again, kind of a young, small pleasant, sweet child, and very mild tempered. So, of course, when you are like that, then the bullies in the neighborhood, they think God put him on earth to be a punching bag. He would come home from school and all of a sudden three or four boys are jumping on him, wanting to beat the daylights out of him. He would just lay on the ground as limp as can be. What fun is there hitting somebody who will not fight back. They would finally just look at him, get up and move away. He would just get up and go home. I used to watch that sometimes and say, that is the principle here. He is not resisting them. He is not fighting back. “Okay, if you want to hit me, fine”, and they would say, “No fun in that” and they move on. Very difficult to say. But the bible says, “‘vengeance is mine’ saith the Lord.”
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
That is a hard lesson for most guys to learn, but it is a lesson to be learned. Learn not to resist an evil person. Turn the other cheek and move on.
The last one of this lesson is surrendering our right to receive something in return for loving others.
7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
What is that saying? Many times we have the attitude, do we not, that I am not getting what I deserve? I tell people, ”You better be glad you do not get what you deserve from God for if you did you would go to hell.” We keep looking for rewards instead of just saying, “No, this is just my job.” People are looking around looking for praise. It does not mean it does not hurt to encourage people but you are doing your job. I have had well-meaning people who will say to me, “I appreciate your obedience to God in doing what you are doing.” I do not look at this as obedience. I look at it as no choice. I would rather do this than anything in the world. It is not the case of sitting down and gutting it out and saying, ”Well, God wants me to do it so I will be obedient to it.” It is the fact God has put this on your heart to do and the most joyful thing in the world you can do all day is to do what God has told you to do. When you have done everything you were told to do, you only say, “We have only come to do my duty for this is what God has called me to do.” It is not hard to do what God has called you to do when you want to do what God has called you.
So many times your attitudes toward these things are just so different than what the world is. That is why it says.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
Now, we realize that when we begin to engage in these attitudes that we discussed in this particular lesson that we are going to be about as different from the world as you can imagine. You will notice in all these things it does not say to dress funny or to do this or that. These are all attitudes you adapt. If you want to talk about being separate from the world, being sanctified, being holy, just adapt these attitudes and you will be about as different from the world as you can ever imagine. The world looks at these attitudes as, “What in the world is going on here?” for it is everything contrary to what you are taught and everything contrary to the way the world thinks and behaves, but it is God’s way. So we have to ask ourselves, “Do we want our will or do we want God’s will?”
You know God has never changed his plan to use his followers to express His love and forgiveness to a lost world. As we grow in our knowledge of the love of God and in our appreciation for what Jesus Christ has done for us, His love begins to control us, stirring up in us the desire to give ourselves back to Him. As our minds are then renewed by the truth of God’s word, He begins to develop these attitudes that we discussed. They are His attitudes of love that now become ours. Is your attitude of love one that always looks to the interests of others or to only yourself? We have to ask ourselves those questions. Do I have an attitude that I am here to be served or do I have an attitude that I am here to serve?
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