My Scripture Today is from Luke 17:1-11
I would like to begin today by asking you a question. Are you living or existing? You see there is a difference. The vast majority of people on earth today are simply existing. They are waking up in the morning, going to work or school, keeping house, whatever the case may be. They are going about their business but they have no real sense of purpose in their lives. Their happiness and fulfilment in life depends largely on their circumstances or their achievements. If they were completely honest with themselves they would have to admit that inside they are empty. That is existing. Christ came however that we might have life and have it more abundant. If we are going to experience this kind of real life we must look to Jesus the source of life.
In John 17 Jesus is at the end of his life. He is facing the cross. He uttered these words either on his way to Gethsemene or in the upper room. This chapter is known as the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. I asked the question, "are you living or just existing?" The answer to that question can be determined by three questions based on our text. The first question is:
I. ARE YOU LIVING WITH A DEPENDENCE ON THE FATHER
As Jesus entered his hour of trial the bible says, "He lifted up his eyes to Heaven and said, "Father". Jesus didn't look at his outward circumstances and try to figure a way out. He didn't even look inward for answers, even though he was the Son of God. He looked upward to Heaven, to the one He knew as His Father. Jesus lived with complete dependence, not on his own person, or his own humanity, but complete trust and dependence on the Father. One of the most eye opening verses I have ever read is John 5:30. There Jesus says, "I can of myself do nothing". Every person Jesus ever healed when he was on the earth, every sermon he ever preached, every temptation he ever overcame, he did it not by trusting in who he was as the Son of God, but by depending on the Fathers strength and guidance.
If Jesus who is God's Son could "Of himself do nothing" how much more can we of ourselves do nothing". The problem with many Christians today and churches is that we are depending primarily on our own natural abilities, our reasoning abilities, our talents, our education, our financial resources to accomplish God's work. And we of ourselves are doing nothing. We are simply existing by and large completely in the natural. But when we live with this dependence upon God that Jesus lived with, the natural begins to give way to the supernatural and God begins to work. I read all of the texts where the bible says Jesus "lifted up his eyes". One time he lifted up his eyes to God and he stuck his fingers in a deaf man’s ears and the man received his hearing. On another occasion he lifted up his eyes in dependence upon God and thanked God and called Lazarus forth from the grave. On another occasion he lifted up his eyes to God and took two small fishes and five loaves and fed thousands of people. The life that is lived in dependence upon God experiences the supernatural power of God. Can you say this about your life. I'm not asking if you have healed anyone lately or turned water into wine. I am asking if you can look at your life and say God gave me victory over this temptation, Only God could have done it, God had his hand upon me and touched the lives of others and I know it was God that did it. Can we say this about our church? We forfeit God's power when we substitute dependence upon Him with dependence upon ourselves, other people, or other resources. One of the Popes invited a theologian to the Vatican. Sitting among all the treasures of the church the Pope said, "the church can no longer say silver and gold have I none". To that the theologian replied sadly, "yes but neither can she say in the name of Jesus of Nazereth rise and walk." We must take our eyes off of the natural, off of that which can be seen, and lift our eyes in faith to Heaven. Jesus lived with a dependence upon the Father. The second question we might ask to ascertain whether or not we are Living is:
II. DO YOU LIVE WITH A SENSE OF DIVINE DESTINY
Jesus said, "the hour is come". This is an interesting phrase that Jesus uses in this gospel. At the beginning of his ministry at a wedding feast his mother wanted him to show himself as the Messiah and he said, "my hour has not yet come". On another occasion his brothers urged him to go to the feast of tabernacles if he was really who he thought he was and show himself as Messiah. He said then, "my time is not yet come." What was Jesus' time, his hour? It was his hour to be glorified and to glorify God. What Mary and Jesus' brothers didn't know was that Jesus would be glorified and would glorify God through a bloody cross and the resurrection. But Jesus knew. He knew that he had come for the purpose of dying for the sins of the world. He had a sense of purpose of destiny, and everything that he did and said led to that moment, that hour. And now the hour had come. Jesus' life was one of direction, and purpose, and divine destiny. One of the most miserable ways to live is to live aimlessly without real an ultimate purpose, not really knowing ultimately why we are here. One of the greatest things that happened to me when God really began to move in my life in my early twenties was that all of a sudden I began to have purpose in my life. Before this my life was just about getting a good job, trying to achieve, to feel good about myself….just existing…drifting. God wants all of us to live with a sense of divine destiny. Why are you here? Why are you a member of Midway United Methodist Church? Because you like the children's program…ok…that is good. Because your family belongs here, ok…that is great. But God has a greater purpose for you in the body of Christ. He wants to use you. He has a spot for you in His body. He has given you a gift, a divine ability to carry out the purpose that He has for your life.
I've talked to many people who don't believe they have a spiritual gift, but that’s not what the bible says. "Each one has been given a manifestation of the Spirit". I believe that if a person will honestly ask God to show him or her what His purpose is for him or her in the body of Christ, and how He's gifted them, He will be faithful to reveal that gift to them. It may require you to step out in faith and try something you've never done before. It may stretch you, it may cause you to risk failure. But God will be faithful. He will show you. The truth is, He is more interested in revealing your purpose in His body than you and I are in knowing it. I'll never forget my first preaching experience as a lay speaker. I dreaded it. It was terrifying. When I got up and began to speak I knew. I felt I was born for it. I wanted to stay there, to live in that experience. God confirmed to me what his plan was for my life and he will for you as well…even if you don't already know.
Jesus lived with a sense of divine destiny. Do you? The third and final question we might ask to determine whether or not we are really living is:
III. ARE YOU LIVING WITH A DESIRE TO GLORIFY GOD
As he faced the cross Jesus prayed, "glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You." Jesus' overarching desire in life and in death was to glorify the Father. The word glory has two primary meanings that are interrelated. First it refers to a manifestation of God's presence. Second, it means to give praise or honor. Jesus experienced both. In his life he revealed the presence of God. He was the image of the unseen God. When people saw him they saw the Father. But his desire was that through the glory the Father gave to Him, He might use it to bring praise and honor to the Father. Even in death he sought the glory of the Father, or shall I say especially through death. I watched a film once about a missionary family in China during the Boxer rebellion in 1900. In the Boxer rebellion a group of native Chinese began to murder Christians. This woman wrote a letter telling about how terrifying her family’s life had become. They never knew when the banging on the door would come and they would be taken out and murdered. She prayed that they would only take her daughter first so she wouldn't have to witness the killing of her parents. At the end of the letter she wrote. I only ask that God's will be done and no matter what happens that he be glorified. The desire to glorify God can be costly but it is very liberating. The opposite of the desire to glorify God is selfishness. The selfish life is a miserable life. Things won’t always go our way, circumstances of life will assuredly change, people don't always treat us as we think we should be treated and this make us miserable if we are primarily living for self. But you know….when we can honestly say, "Lord no matter what happens to me, whether I live or die, whether I am treated fairly or unfairly, whether I endure affliction or comfort, Lord you be glorified in it", when this is our desire we are free of the misery of selfishness. This is what Jesus means when he says, "Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Conclusion. Are you living or existing? Are you living with a dependence on the Father? Are you Living with a Sense of destiny? Are you living with a desire to glorify the Lord?