The Time Is Short…

stopwatch (2-23-12)

  1. Opening Illustration: Dozing off behind the wheel during my teenage years. Near-accidents usually provided the shot of adrenalin I needed to truly “Wake-up” and drive home safely. My hope is that the Holy Spirit will use this sermon as a sort-of wake up call for us who might have grown comfortable/complacent with our personal spiritual growth and the ways we live out our faith in Jesus on a daily basis.

Opening Comments:

For the last 5 years I have been haunted—is my daily/weekly routine the “real life” that Jesus offers me/died to set me free to experience? Is working, coming home, doing some chores, reading books w/my kids, watching some t.v., working out/exercising, going to see some movies, having a vacation every once in a while, is this the life of an ambassador of Jesus?

I’ve also been haunted by a recurring dream of running in water—working hard but not getting anywhere. Are the acts of love that I show others any different than those of non-believers? If I truly have the Spirit of the living God living inside me, is He flowing through my words and actions or am I clogged? Where’s the power? Where’s the reckless love for God and others? Am I just settling for a life of comfortable Christianity?

Our Bible passage takes place in the context of Paul talking about marriage/why he believes most Christians should remain single: because singleness will allow them to more fully devote themselves to the LORD. Then Paul has one of his many “ADD” moments where he goes off on a bit of a tangent.

Main Scripture Passage With Context: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.

29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep;  31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.


God is pleading w/us to be foolishly committed to Him/His mission for us.

  1. Paul is reminding us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run the race marked out for us.” 
  2. I have done very few things in my walk with Jesus that have raised the eyebrows of non-Christians and fellow believers. Maybe that is a problem? 
  3. There is an “appropriateness” and “sensibility” about Western Christianity that is sometimes blasphemous and sinful. The Bible is literally littered with the lives of people who lived foolishly for God. Why don’t we do the same? List of Biblical People Who Lived/Loved “Foolishly” For God
  1. Noah
  2. Abraham
  3. Moses
  4. Israelites
  5. Joshua
  6. Gideon
  7. Samson
  8. David
  9. Araunah
  10. Elijah and Widow
  11. Isaiah
  12. Naaman
  13. Hosea
  14. Mary (mother of Jesus)
  15. Joseph (stepdad of Jesus)
  16. Zechariah (Dad of John the Baptizer)
  17. Jesus’ Disciples
  18. Paul


So What Does God Want Us To Do?

  1. Not sure. Different for everyone. But a serious/sober-minded self-audit is needed (with the help of God, pastors, small group, family, etc.). Am I doing ANYTHING to radically love God and others, or are the manifestations (actions) of my faith in Jesus tame, acceptable, easy, etc.?
  2. “Do I really need to spend as much time/energy/money exercising? How much good health do we need? How much of a trim figure is enough?”
  3. “Do I really need to work as many hours as I do? Is there a standard of living that I am working to maintain that distracts me from God’s purposes in my life?”
  4. “When was the last time I sat down and gave my spouse, children, friend, neighbor, co-worker, or a stranger my undivided attention whereby I sought to respectfully inquire about them and to see if there were any ways that I could bless them?”
  5. “Do I know my geographical neighbors? Do they have any idea that I love, serve, obey, worship, and enjoy Jesus?”
  6. “Do I really need to play as much golf as I do in the summer? Do I really need to follow sports as closely as I do? Do I need to be in fantasy sports leagues? Do I need to watch so many Bears, Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks games? Are any of these activities hindering my ability to fulfill the purposes of God in my life?”
  7. Commit to asking Him each morning, “How can I love my spouse, children, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers in an expensive, painful, out-of-my-comfort-zone way today?”
  8. Commit to asking Him each morning, “Holy Spirit, help me to be solely focused on loving you and loving others, help me to lament that I only have one earthly life to pour out for You, help me to take advantage of EVERY OPPORTUNITY You give me to show others how great You are, how much You love them, and how much they need You.”

 
Why Do We Western Christians Struggle So Much W/Living “All-Out/Full-Tilt” for Jesus?

  1. Because “the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) We are too easily distracted.
  2. Because while Satan can’t steal our salvation from us he can limit our effectiveness—we often do not like admitting that there is an enemy out there who opposes those who love Jesus. We go out as sheep among wolves each day but never seem to bring the tools/armor God has given us because to do so would be to show that we actually believe that the devil and demons exist.
  3. Because we are deathly afraid of becoming Pharisees (e.g. too focused on obedience to the letter of the law while missing the heart/intent of the law).
  4. Because we are still clinging to this world; not sure deep down if there really will be an afterlife so we drift into living only for now/not for eternity.
  5. Because we still value the opinions/acceptance of others over God.


Consider These Scripture Passages, However, If You Are Still Unconvinced That Jesus Calls Us To An Earthly Life of Sacrificial Love for and Suffering Service towards Him and others:

  1. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (The Message)
  2. 1 Corinthians 4:8-13
  3. 2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB
  4. 2 Corinthians 9:11
  5. Luke 9:23-26
  6. Luke 14:25-27, 33


Closing Illustration:
I usually hide in the back and “conserve my ammunition” when paintballing with the 5th-8th graders. I wait until the last second to charge (or don’t charge at all); let’s not adhere to this strategy as we follow Jesus. Let’s not only follow the safe/sensible path of loving Jesus/loving others but let’s utilize every tool God has given to show this world how much He loves them and how much they need Him. Let’s be willing to accumulate some welts, bruises, and grass stains for Jesus during our time on earth. Let’s charge now…not w/ bullets of paint but w/deep faith in God combined w/daily acts of sacrificial/painful love for all others.

 

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (The Message)

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped.

Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

1 Corinthians 4:8-13

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 9:11

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
 

Luke 9:23-26

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Luke 14:25-27, 33

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.