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IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TAKE JESUS BY FORCE, OR ANYONE'S HEART BY FORCE, BUT...

A SERMON DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

27 JULY 1997

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 11:12
Luke 4:1-2, 6-8
John 6:9-15
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
James 1:12-18

It should be obvious to any believer that you cannot take the kingdom of God by force, even though some people try.

Thus, it is impossible to take Jesus by force, or for that matter, anyone's heart by force, but...

So, this morning, we're going to concentrate upon the "but..." situations.

Let's begin by looking at our Scripture lesson for this morning, John 6:10-15.

10. Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

11. Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

12. And when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost."

13. And so they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.

14. When therefore the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, "This is of a truth the Prophet who is to come into the world."

15. Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

They had only five loaves and two fish, which probably wouldn't even fill one basket, and yet from these, Jesus fed over five thousand people, and had twelve baskets full of leftovers.

The people had experienced a great miracle.

They had seen the kingdom of God in their presence.

And they saw Jesus as the Prophet of whom God had foretold in the Scriptures.

But instead of simply praising God, and following Jesus, and learning from Him, and obeying His directions, they desired to take Him by force and make Him king.

Why?

Because they were impatient.

Because they couldn't wait upon the Lord to accomplish things in His own time.

And, because they wanted Jesus to be their figurehead, a person around whom the people would rally, so that they could accomplish their own political agenda.

If the people recognized who Jesus was, then why did they want to take Him by force and make Him king?

Why weren't they satisfied in letting Jesus do things in His own way, and in His own time?

They were like this because they were overcome with temptation.

Do you remember, after Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, how he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days?

Do you also remember how the devil tempted Him when he became hungry (Luke 4:1-2)?

Let's look at just one thing (Luke 4:6-8):

6. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.

7. "Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours."

8. And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only."'

The devil tempts us in the same way, and we need to respond in the same way.

But in order to do this, we must be one in heart and soul with the Lord.

We cannot stand against the forces of evil if we have even one foot in the world.

I witnessed this stand against the temptations of this world this past Sunday evening.

We were tempted with having a full church, and all the money needed to operate it with a full time pastor, and to a person, I heard you say, "No!"

The kingdom of heaven is ours, and we all seem to know it.

But we cannot get over-confident in our initial reaction to such a temptation; for the next time, such temptations will be much more subtle.

We offered, in love, to share our little piece of heaven with others; and even with this, they weren't satisfied, for they tried to take it all by force.

Before last Sunday's event, I prayed, "Lord, let the real intent of their hearts be clearly seen and understood."

And the Lord most definitely did answer, and we saw.

And know for certain, that what we experienced was a miracle.

God indeed demonstrated His power to all of us.

He allowed the people who came here to get so caught up in their own agenda, that they failed to realize the effect of their actions.

They falsely claimed that this church was theirs.

In their self-aggrandizement they failed to trust in their Lord, whom they claim they believe in and follow.

They fell into temptation, and were carried away in it.

But, as I said, in this one victory over temptation, we cannot become overly confident ourselves.

We must be ever more diligent to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, and be steadfast with the Lord.

We must be as James tells us in 1:12-18:

12. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Remember who we are in Christ, and rejoice; but also be diligent.

13. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

14. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

And we saw this happen to more than a hundred people last week.

15. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

16. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

17. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.

18. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.

Remember this and do as God desires us to do.

And if we are the first fruits, then that means that there is more fruit to come.

And it is our assignment to help bring it forth, not as others tried to do, but as God desires us to do, in love.

And if there’s anyone here who thinks I'm off-base in my evaluation of what took place here last Sunday evening, remember the Bible lesson we had just at the beginning of this month,

1 Corinthians 13:1-3, and the verses that follow:

1. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Did you feel their love for us on Sunday evening?

Did they show their love for us?

Then know for certain that what you felt and saw in their actions was not of God.

But be thankful that God revealed these things to us.

4. Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

5. does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

They definitely were not patient.

They were not kind to us.

They were jealous of what little physical property we have.

They bragged about themselves all over the place.

And they were very arrogant.

And they acted very unbecomingly.

But in this understanding, we must still remain loving, and not become like them.

Listen carefully to what else we are told about love.

6. [love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

7. [love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;

10. but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

11. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

12. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.

13. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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