Psalm: 86: 1-10, 16-17
Gen. 21: 8-21
Romans 6: lb-11
To become fully immersed in this concept and truth, read the above scriptures.
The Gospel of Matthew 10:24-39 (NIV) 24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven……………………. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
It’s baseball season, almost time for the playoffs, so as the All American pastime and for you baseball fans (Paul is a great fan, but I won’t say which team – ha ha), here is a story that can apply to our scripture for this week.
“In 1990, centerfielder Brett Butler left the San Francisco Giants as a free agent. He was loved in San Francisco, and rightly so. He was a great player. But the best offer came from the L.A. Dodgers – their cross state rivals. Early in the season, when the two teams met, Butler was the center of attention. He was well loved by his former team, and they were playing at their ball park in San Francisco. When the line ups were being announced and the players introduced, the crowd roared as Butler, their former player was announced. The people still loved him, even in a Dodger uniform. Perhaps they felt he was still a Giant at heart.
Brett Butler did something interesting at that point. When he heard the response of the crowd, he walked up to his new manager, Tommy Lasorda, and hugged him, in front of the thousands of Giants fans that filled the stadium. Instantaneously, the cheers began to turn to boos and insults. After the game, he was asked by the press why he did that. Brett Butler replied, “It turned a page in my career. I’m an L.A. Dodger now; I’m not a Giant. That just kind of solidified it.” I wanted them to know I’m a Dodger.” ”
Christians need to “hug Jesus;” and we need to do so in front of our family, colleagues, friends, and just acquaintances. They/We need to make it absolutely and positively apparent exactly Who we belong to. Brett Butler stepped out and showed the world who he now belonged to. As such, we also can be a Brett, showing the world to whom we belong. And showing all that we are NOT like before we became saved – everything has changed and changed for the better.
Matthew 10:32 – – “If anyone acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before My Father in heaven. But if anyone denies Me here on earth, I will deny that person before My Father in heaven.”
Mark 12:30 – “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”
I often wonder where I “fit in” and encourage each of you to think that also. Where am I in the realm and scope of these scripture lessons?
Do you remember when Wilbur Reese once wrote sarcastically, “I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a German or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.”
Reese did NOT want to even consider the thought of total commitment; he wanted to stay in control of his life, doing what he liked; but at the same time he wanted the benefit of a relationship with God which, of course, included heaven….but total commitment, totally following Christ by picking up his cross and following Him….. he didn’t think so…..too much to sacrifice. He wanted to create a boundary where he could live his way of life and have a promise of eternal life also.
Jesus compares a true believer to one who has gone all the way with the Truth. As we discussed previously and at great length, he compares it to the “buying the pearl of great price.” That story is found in Matthew 13:46. Reese was the type who wanted the pearl but wanted it at a bargain basement price that would not cost him any sacrifice.
Matthew 16:24,25 – “Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition (deny yourself), shoulder your cross (die to yourself), and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life.’ “
Where in the above scripture and elsewhere did Jesus tell us that we did not need him for – or better yet, that He did not want to own and control?
I wonder how many of us are a bit like Reese and put Christ and our life in Christ to the side because we are not willing to give all. Summing up our life in Christ as, “Christian is part of who I am, but it’s not WHO I am – we think.” Wrong.
Christ tells us in the scripture that we are to deny ourselves, but our tendency is to deny Christ – at least to deny Him total control. Are we afraid of being rejected or laughed at? Are we afraid that we will miss something? Do we think we need to keep our options open just in case?.
I used to be embarrassed in restaurants when someone would want to pray before eating, a friend told me. Then I realized that it was God who put that food in front of me to enjoy. It was God who created my life to embrace. It was God who wanted me to become His child and who sent His only Son to die for our sins.. The least I could do is ask His blessing on the food He presented to me for nourishment and enjoyment. It had never dawned on me at the time I was worrying about what people would think of me – what God would think. Of all the opinions about me or you in this world, the ONLY one that counts is the opinion of GOD. No other; absolutely no other.
Once we become a strong and “sold out” Christian, life changes and extremely so, Our allegiance and loyalties change and priorities are vastly different, “Your love has changed. Life as you know it has changed! It is important to make that life public. Because when the world thinks that “nothing has really changed,” some bad things happen. When a disciple of Jesus tries to live as a closet Christian, something is very wrong.” cic
So, hold up the cross and hug Jesus as hard as you can. Proclaim His love to any and all. Always try your best to get God to acknowledge you and think highly of you. That is all that counts.
– 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.”
Alrighty then – I am admitting I am weak when I come to Christ. I am broken. And my faith in Christ does bring me peace. I am a troubled soul without it. I need to hug Jesus with all that is within me.
Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes.”
Be proud of being “found out” for who you are in Christ, not fearful. Grab His hand and let him hug and hold you.
– Matthew 10:28 – “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Mark 8:38 – “If a person is ashamed of Me and My message in these adulterous and sinful days, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my Father with the holy angels.”
Authentic fellowship is critical to fostering this kind of life. If we really go public with our faith, we’ll need the encouragement and relationships that we find here. Reach out and proclaim the Good News. Let everyone know that you know and trust and depend on Jesus as your Savior.
God, through Christ, is reconciling you (hugging you) to Him.
Are you hugging back?