HOW COMMITTED ARE WE TO GOD?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
6 NOVEMBER 1994
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Do you remember last week when we read a passage from Ezekiel (33:24-26) in which the people who were left after the captivity by Babylon were still saying that they should possess the land because Abraham possessed the land?
And do you also remember that God's answer was a rejection of their contention, for they were not committed to God, but to other gods and religious rituals?
So, as we look at this passage, the question for us today is, "How committed are we to God?"
And along with considering our answer to this question, let's ask ourselves another, for the promised land was to be a spiritual example of heaven.
If we are not wholly committed to God, why should He let us into heaven?
As we consider these questions for ourselves, consider them also for our community and for the world around us.
It's not a very pretty picture is it?
Jesus' disciples saw this same picture 2,000 years ago, as recorded in Luke 13:23-24.
23. And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them,
24. "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
It all has to do with commitment.
And that's the message of our Scripture lesson for this morning: Mark 12:38-44.
38. And in His teaching He [Jesus] was saying: "Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places,
39. and chief seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets,
40. who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation."
A pastor or a priest, or for that matter, any leading member of a congregation, is given the responsibility of setting the proper example for the others in the congregation.
Now, I don't want you to consider anyone else in this congregation, except yourself and me, for I don't want any other finger pointing.
You have had a lifetime to consider yourself, and almost seven years to consider me.
Is my commitment to God and to this congregation such that you are led to more fully believe in God and to increase your own commitment to Him?
But if you see me as one of these scribes whom Jesus is talking about, then don't believe what I say, but at least believe in God's word.
But if you see me wholly committed to God, then believe what I say, and know that this commitment has come from God; and that this power of commitment is here for each and every one of us, that we may all enter into heaven.
41. And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.
42. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.
43. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;
44. for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."
This is total commitment!
This is putting your whole faith and trust in the Lord to provide for you, for she no longer has her worldly means of providing for herself, except to earn more money, which could be part of the way the Lord provides for us.
Listen to how the first three verses of Proverbs 16 apply to this woman and to our overall commitment to God.
1. The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
What we desire in our life, or what we consider the most important things in our life, may or may not be the same as those things desired by God for our lives.
And what we express openly with our mouth is answerable to the Lord.
Long but uncommitted prayers are not what the Lord desires.
But the quiet prayer, for example, of, "This is for you, Lord; itís all I have. I put my trust in You," is total commitment; and one in which the Lord will respond positively.
The others committed money, some or which may even have been given with the proper motive; but she did much more, she committed her life.
2. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
This is what Jesus was expressing to His disciples.
She didn't give enough money to really do any good for the Temple, but her life was committed to the Lord and to serving Him in any capacity she could.
3. Commit your works to the Lord,
And your plans will be established.
In other words, why do we live the way we do?
Are we doing what we do in order to serve the Lord?
Are we doing everything we do to serve the Lord?
Or, in some things, do we try to bargain with the Lord, or try to excuse some of our actions?
Listen to what we are told in Isaiah 45:9-13 concerning the degree of our commitment to the Lord:
9. "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker--
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?'
Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'?
10. "Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?'
Or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?' "
When we put it in this light, some of the things we say and do before the Lord must seen very foolish to Him.
I have heard many people say, "I don't believe in hell."
That's as foolish as saying, "I don't believe there is a town and village of Athens, New York."
Saying something false, or believing something false or denying some truth, doesn't make it true, does it?
Of course not!
11. Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
"Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons,
And we can also include daughters.
And you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.
12. "It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.
I stretched out the heavens with My hands,
And I ordained all their host.
So much for believing in horoscopes.
13. "I have aroused him in righteousness,
And I will make all his ways smooth;
He will build My city, and will let My exiles go free,
Without any payment or reward," says the Lord of hosts.
The nature of our society is one of wanting payment or reward for everything we do.
But those who do things out of the goodness of their hearts, never desiring anything in return, receive something better than payments or rewards.
They receive the whole of heaven.
Have we allowed the Lord to wake us up?
Is that the commitment we have towards God?
If it's not, it should be.
Your Comments are welcome
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