Make Every Effort

By on October 28, 2018

Part 26 in Sermon Series: A Region Ripe for Revival

Scripture reading from Luke 13:22-30

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One Comment to “Make Every Effort”

  1. Donald McMahon
    October 28, 2018

    “Make Every Effort” (Luke 13:22-30)(10.28.17)
    Luke 13:22–30 (NIV84) The Narrow Door
    22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
    He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
    “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
    26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
    27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
    28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: Make Every Effort
    One problem with preaching is our tendency to put the scripture into a gift box; wrap it with nice paper, and tie it all up with a pretty bow. The preacher delivers it to the people…and that’s it. Oh, isn’t it all nice and neat. The people just receive it and never wrestle with God’s word themselves. My friends, it is in the wrestling that we are strengthened. There will be no pretty bows today.
    It has been said that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. When we are certain, there is no need of faith. When we are certain, we have made a determination. Been there; done that; got the T-shirt; is the response of certainty.
    Today’s scripture is an eye opener. Jesus grabs everyone’s attention. Do not be too sure about all your assumptions. What humans value and put first is turned completely upside down in the kingdom of God. Too often we look with a critical eye at others and give ourselves a pass.
    For a couple generations in our country we have been terribly mislead. The concept of “accepting Jesus into your heart” has been completely convoluted. Jesus doesn’t need you. You need Jesus. You submit your heart to Jesus, making Him Lord of lords and King of kings in every aspect of your life. You serve Jesus. Jesus is your Advocate not your valet.
    The evangelism efforts that ask people to repeat this prayer after me and then they will be saved for all eternity is a lie. Where is the rending of hearts? Where is the repentance? Where is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Where is the new creation in Christ Jesus? Where is the fruit of the Spirit? Where is the exercising of your God-given gifts for the Kingdom’s sake? I proclaim to you that you must Make Every Effort to faithfully live out your God given purpose.
    Today is reformation Sunday, which is in recognition of the birth of the Protestant Church. Five hundred and one years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door, protesting the waywardness and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.
    When Martin Luther taught on this passage from Luke 13, he said it “…should terrify the greatest saints.”
    There is a different kind of waywardness and corruption in the American Church than what Luther addressed. To start with, too many have hopelessly interwoven their patriotism with their religion. I served my country for 28.5 years, but my citizenship is in heaven. My first loyalty is to God Almighty.
    Next, we tend to offer a watered down gospel; it has no salt. Then we offer up a dessert of cheap grace that has the substance of cotton candy. And, we want it all served up on a silver platter. It’s about our personal tastes and desires. No, Church is not about what we get out of it.
    You know what Church is about? It is about the millions of deceived souls destined for hell because they have believed a lie. Too late, they will try to enter into the heavenly sanctuary but they will not be able to enter. They will plead. They will cry out. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Church is about manning the lifeboats. It is about throwing a line to those that are drowning in sin, darkness and despair. When we take the Great Commission seriously, the Lord Jesus will grow Emmaus Church to 150 people.
    Let us begin examining Jesus’ command to make every effort.
    Ephesians 4:1–3 (NIV84) page #1158
    4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
    Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, like Paul, was a prisoner for the Lord. So was his wife Sabina. When the Russian communists took over Romania they also took over the churches. Even though Sabina knew that to resist the communist emasculation of the church meant prison and/or death for her husband, she told him, “I don’t need a coward for a husband.”
    One of the many “mic drop” moments from the movie “Tortured for Christ,” was when Wurmbrand quoted a martyr. He said, “There are two kinds of Christians: those who sincerely believe in God and those who, just as sincerely, believe that they believe. You can tell them apart by their actions in decisive moments.”
    Romans 14:19 (NIV84) page #1124
    19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
    Eugene Peterson was a pastor, teacher, scholar and author of the bible paraphrase The Message. I have quoted him to you a few times. He died this past Monday morning at 8:30 AM during my DMin online class. We were talking about him because he wrote one of the books we are reading. Here is a quote from him: The life of faith isn’t meant for tourists. It’s meant for pilgrims.
    Here is Peterson’s paraphrase of Luke 13:22-30:
    He (Jesus) went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.
    A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?”
    He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’
    “You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don’t know the first thing about me.’
    “That’s when you’ll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace. You’ll watch Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets march into God’s kingdom. You’ll watch outsiders stream in from east, west, north, and south and sit down at the table of God’s kingdom. And all the time you’ll be outside looking in—and wondering what happened. This is the Great Reversal: the last in line put at the head of the line, and the so-called first ending up last.”
    Hebrews 4:9–11 (NIV84) page #1186
    9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
    Eugene Peterson spent over 50 years in ministry; most of it planting and nurturing a church in Maryland. In his memoir, The Pastor, he shared,
    “the Holy Spirit forms church to be a colony of heaven in the country of death…Church is a core element in the strategy of the Holy Spirit for providing human witness and physical presence to the Jesus-inaugurated kingdom of God in this world. It is not that kingdom complete, but it is that kingdom. It had taken me a long time, with considerable help from wise Christians, both dead and alive, to come to this understanding of church: a colony of heaven in the country of death, a strategy of the Holy Spirit for giving witness to the already-inaugurated kingdom of God.”
    Towards the end of his memoir, Peterson quotes Barth who quotes Nietzsche: “Only where graves are, is there resurrection.” “We practice our death by giving up our will to live on our own terms.”
    In a couple of different places in Tortured for Christ, we heard Christians proclaim one aspect of their faith that empowered them to live boldly for the kingdom, “My life is not my own.” Where did they find strength? In God’s word: Romans 14:8 (NIV84) If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
    Hebrews 12:14 (NIV84) page #1193
    14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
    This message of peace with all men falls on deaf ears in today’s culture. If someone has different political views, it is open season on vilifying them at every opportunity. When there is disagreement, civility no longer seems to be an option. What happened to loving your neighbor? What happened to speaking the truth in love?
    Richard Wurmbrand and other Christians in Romania loved the Russians that were occupying their country. They learned the Russian language in order to preach to them. They disguised books of scripture with Karl Marx covers and gave them to Russian soldiers. They risked their lives to reach these people brought up in an atheistic culture. These Christians prayed for the prison guards and even those that tortured them.
    During Richard Wurmbrand’s 14 years in a communist prisons, he and the other prisoners were tortured without mercy. One of the guards declared that he was grateful there was no God so that he felt free to exercise every evil of his heart.
    The prisoners were forbidden to pray and to be found praying resulted in a beating. Nevertheless, they prayed. Towards the end of the movie, this particular guard again finds Wurmbrand praying. With hate and derision he demands of Wurmbrand, “Your wife is imprisoned. You have made your son an orphan. You are beaten and burdened. Where is your God? What do you have left to pray for?”
    Richard Wurmbrand replies, “I was praying for you.”
    When this guard is confronted with the love of Christ Jesus and light finally breaks into the darkness of his heart, he is overtaken with self-realization. He begins to understand what he is and is horrified by the truth.
    2 Peter 1:5–7 (NIV84) page #1204
    5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
    In his book, I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus, the Reverend Dr. Leonard Sweet remembers:
    “My mother, Mabel Boggs Sweet, used to say to her three boys: “You can either live your life to be praised by people or used by God. You choose.” The choosing will determine whether we live the Christ life or merely a Christlike life. The Christ life is what inspires others with the unmeasured possibilities of being filled with God’s presence and power. The Christ life is what grows in us as we count the cost but then make the costly choice to follow. When we choose to “bear witness” by bearing the cross.”
    2 Peter 3:10–14 (NIV84) page #1206
    10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
    11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
    14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
    Jesus tells us that many will try to enter through the narrow door and not be able to. The owner of the house will reply, “Away from me, all you evildoers!”
    “There are no acts of pardon passed
    In the cold grave to which we haste;
    But darkness, death, and long despair
    Reign in eternal silence there.”
    Other English translations, instead of saying “make every effort” say to strive to enter through the narrow door. This week on social media I shared this thought: We don’t need seeker-sensitive churches. We need striver-sensitive churches. Unfortunately the popular seeker-sensitive churches use an attraction model. It appeals to a consumer mentality. It feeds the parasite of self-centeredness. It promotes passive faith. But my friends, I tell you that passive faith is a sham, a delusion that will leave many locked out of God’s kingdom.
    Deuteronomy 30:11–20 (NIV84)
    11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
    15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
    17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
    19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    Now, I leave you with a Martin Luther quote:
    Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a person would stake his life on it a thousand times. . . . Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly.
    Brothers and sisters, MAKE EVERY EFFORT.
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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