Sometimes I just marvel at the blindness, often I chuckle at the televangelist, and more often than not my heart becomes heavy with burden and sadness. What causes this condition? As I look around, I see people struggling; I see people looking for answers, thirsting for relief, searching for the magic bullet of what will bring them happiness. As Christians, we shuffle around floating from doctrine to doctrine trying to figure out which of these doctrines will cure what ails us. Or we get locked into a framework of doctrine that leaves us empty. You have the holiness doctrine, the doctrine of healing, the prosperity gospel, the name it and claim it gospel, the end times gospel, and on and on it goes! The real kicker here is that the answer is staring us right in the face, hidden in plain sight, and yet our eyes our blind. The true message is speaking to us, but we do not have ears to hear.
Before I offer the Scriptural message to you, ponder this little fact: we all have limits. Think about it. In human terms, most of us are just average Joe’s (no offense to all the Joes out there!). We are limited by our abilities, limited by our resources, limited by our place of origin, and especially limited by our years living on this earth. Even if we completely “sell-out” and work our butt off, we can only go so far! So most of us just settle-in comfortably to “average”, cozy up to the notion that we are destined to just get by, and raise the white flag of “I did the best I could”. Some people just have a burning inside of them that either condemns them or drives them or both. That burning is the desire to be better, to be successful, to make their life count, to leave us average Joes in the dust cloud of sheer will power. That is what makes successful people successful! But even that super motivated, workaholic runs out of steam at some point. So what’s the point here? You might reply, “Are you trying to cheer us up? If you are, then you’re doing a real horrid job of it!” But wait, there’s more…
Now let’s look at it from a Christian perspective. We have literally 100’s of verses in the Bible that tell us that “we can do all things”, that “the Lord blesses us”, that “eye has not seen nor ear heard or even entered into the heart what God has for us”, that Christ promises us “life more abundantly”, and there are many more. The problem here is one of unbelief. Oh, we recite these verses and we hear preachers trying to motivate us by chanting them to our deaf ears…but the fact remains…most of us don’t really believe what God says. If we did, then the results would be obvious to us and obvious to everyone around us! People lay in hospital beds and others sit next to the hospital beds claiming “by His stripes, we are healed”; and sadly, the number of folk who walk out of the hospital healed are very few. I know, I know, I’m being harsh. But bear with me as I prepare your heart for my message.
We really don’t believe the Bible. We are taught the key by Christ Himself when He says, “If you only believe…” If the Lord says we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains, then we are in deep doo-doo! What is going on here? Now many of you are already spinning your mind around this, you are already putting up your doctrinal defense, and you have your own answers you want to throw at the screen! I know it’s true and so do you. Do yourself a huge favor: shhhh…calm your mind and heart; I love you. If you will let me, I am going to try to help us crack the box that we have crafted for our Lord. I can’t destroy our man-made temple that we have built for God if we can’t quiet our spirit. Now, let us open our hearts to God’s love, let us allow the Spirit to renew our minds, and let us really allow the Spirit to do some major renovations right here and right now.
Ask yourself a question: What is the most important thing in my life? Now, before you answer let’s get real here…be honest with yourself. With your spirit and God as your witness, think about where your time is spent, think about where your resources are spent, and think about what is on your mind most of the time. If I knew you and spent time with you and a reporter wanted to interview me and ask me the question, “What is the most important thing in so-and-so’s life; what drives them, and what makes him/her ‘tick’?” What would my objective answer be? Would it be “The most important thing in his life is his family”, or “The most important thing in his life is his successful business”, or “He is totally a man on fire for God”? Try to remove you from you, and try to be on the outside looking in. Which assessment of a person is more accurate: their assessment of themselves or the aggregate assessment of all the people who know them? I am brutal, aren’t I? Please bear with me! I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am not trying to make you feel guilty; I am setting up a bold and brave invitation…not an indictment. Just take a moment and imagine what the assessment would reveal. What would your best friend say if they knew it would be confidential? What would the reporter learn about you from all that know you? Let your defenses down for just a glimpse at the real “you” according to those that know you.
Let’s pretend that you are a poor person, that you are desperate for financial relief. If I told you that in a particular field, at the edge of the woods that there was a chest full of money and the answer to all your financial woes, would you believe me? If I were a person that you trusted and knew me to be a straight-up guy, would you believe me? Let’s say that at first you don’t believe, but after a while you come to me and ask me if I’m serious. I tell you that I am sincere and wouldn’t do you like that. Your next question should be, “Well, do I have permission to go dig it up?” I reply, “Yes, it is if you are willing to go and dig it up.” The next logical question would be, “Where is this chest of money?” At this, I simply hand you a map with very specific directions, ensuring that you wouldn’t get lost. You are elated and begin to imagine life without all the worries of financial burdens, you would begin to plan your trip, and you would be excited beyond words. “Finally! The answer to my troubles”, you murmur to yourself.
A month passes, and I see you at the grocery store checking-out with your wife at the register. I notice you have more coupons than cash! You look up at me sheepishly and know already what I will ask. If I asked you why you haven’t gone and retrieved the treasure, what would your response be? Oh, you could make up all kinds of reasons, but the fact of the matter is…you don’t believe me! You must have thought that it is too good to be true…right? Because there could be no other explanation: excuses like not enough time, couldn’t afford to take time off from work, my wife wouldn’t let me, or even the worst of all that “I don’t deserve it” just couldn’t explain away the fact that you just darn well don’t believe me. How ridiculous is that! You are vainly struggling with a problem when the solution has already been given. Is that insanity?
The fact of the matter is this: if you really believed me, then you would have done everything in your power to get to that chest as soon as possible; nothing could have stopped you! We have seen what people will do for money and any person on the planet would have run, not walked, to the place on the map. So you see, it is all about believing!
Now hear me and believe me when I tell you that what is being offered to you is far greater than a chest of money! Riches beyond your wildest dreams, joy that cannot be contained, no guilt or shame involved, and a secure future to look forward to is all on the table…if…if you could only believe! There is a map, there is a way, and there’s even a Guide! I’m sure you are getting the picture here but I’ll ask this question for you, “What is the offer that I can’t refuse?”
The offer is a new life; the offer is what is called a spiritual life. The pure gospel of grace! This gospel was Christ’s mission; Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God and announcing its arrival…not in the past, not in the future, but rather right here and right now. Christ boldly promises that if we only believe that through Him we have complete and total forgiveness for our sins, for all our shortcomings, for all our fleshly desires, then we may enter this new kingdom. This kingdom invites us into a new way of living, a new way of loving, a new way to see the world in full color…that is what is on the table. Christ promises us that we can be born again, that we can walk through life as different creatures, that we can be the blessed friend of God! Is that not good news?! Oh, sorry…there is one catch…you have to believe that a spiritual life is possible and that GOD IS LOVE. You have to believe that Christ paid the FULL PRICE OF ADMISSION for you. All the baggage of religion, preconceived notions of what the meaning of life is, all the world telling you it is not possible, and your own flesh saying to you, “It isn’t possible and even if it is…I could never live a holy enough life to have audience with God anyway” or “It is just too good to be true”. I testify to you as someone who loves you that you don’t have to be good enough, you can “come as you are”, and that I tell you the truth! Remember at the beginning when we discussed how limited our lives are? What if I told you that your life could be limitless? I am straight-up telling you that your life can be limitless…I don’t care how “average” you think you are! So what’s the catch?
The only price of admission is reading the map in the Book of John, and placing your life on God’s altar as a sweet sacrifice. When we give our lives totally and completely to God, He takes what once was weak and makes it strong, He takes lack and turns it into plenty, He takes sadness and turns it into joy, and above all else…GOD KEEPS HIS WORD. This is not religion; this is Jesus and an authentic relationship with His Holy Spirit. This is not a new “laundry list” of rules to live by…this is abiding in His love. This is not natural; this is supernatural. You can’t do it alone; you will be given the greatest power on the planet we call the Earth: The Holy Spirit, the Guide, the Teacher, your personal Advocate. When you offer up what you can’t keep anyway, He makes an exchange with you and gives you what can never be taken away! That is the pure Gospel; that is the “good news”. You offer up temporal things and He gives you eternal things in this life and in the life to come. Don’t be fooled my friend, a life given to God is unimaginable; the life committed to a spiritual walk with God is far from boring. Everything in life screams that it is not possible! The enemy is hard at work keeping you unaware of a powerful calling in your heart…the enemy is no fool. Wake up Christians! Come walk in the Spirit and find the life and the unimaginable love of God that has evaded you so very long…there is more…so much more…but do you believe? God wants to make a transaction with you: trade your belief for His faith, trade your doubts for His grace!
…the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for JOY over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found ONE pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it… Matthew 13:44-45
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “HOW CAN THESE THINGS BE?” John 3:6-9
In the Name of God, I pray that you will take my word and view the map in His Word,