We need to be ready for company.
John(82) (Part of the Believe(74) series)
by Marc Webb(56) on June 16, 2019 (Sunday Morning(281))
Distractions(1), Holiness(13), Passion(1)
Jessica Abbott of Corban University on October 29, 2017 wrote an article entitled, “I asked 25 people what they are passionate about.” Here is how she introduced her article: For the past few weeks I have been figuring out what it means to find our passions and use them in what makes us ache. In the process I’ve realized all of us have different passions to pour into life. To gain some perspective I’ve asked the people of Facebook the question, “What are you passionate about?” Here are some of those answers: Joy, joy in yourself and finding joy in others, history and the preservation of history, the soul, the mind and how it works, ending abortions, adoption, helping people, helping people find their voice and being a voice for the voiceless, loving people whoever they are and wherever they’re at, creating, music, teaching children. A couple people said their jobs. One who worked at a bridal shop said because they are a part of someone’s special day and can have a positive impact in the favorite moments in their life. Another, a server at Applebee’s, said because she gets to directly interact with people in their daily lives. There were also answers such as sports, making a difference, being real, being a good friend, dogs and finally someone was passionate about chickens. I also looked on the internet to see what makes people angry. Here are some of the top things that make people angry: being ignored, unsolicited advice, being told I am wrong when I am not, people denying my experiences, not feeling heard, being talked over, criticism, nosy people, people that talk during movies at the theater, people refusing to follow directions and bad drivers.
Now of course this forced me to think about what I am passionate about and what makes me angry. I will start with the frivolous and move to the more serious. I am passionate about genealogy and chess. Those are two of my pursuits that would fall under hobbies. Now to the more serious. I am passionate about studying and teaching God’s Word, I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus and with others, I am passionate about prayer and praying for those who are hurting, I am passionate about pointing people to Jesus, and last but not least I am passionate about my wife. Now what makes me angry? Cancer makes me angry. When I look at our prayer request list and see that there are 18 different people with cancer that makes me angry. I pray almost everyday for the eradication of cancer. I also get angry at the senseless taking of life, innocent people being hurt and taken advantage of and the bullying of our children in schools. Finally, homelessness and hunger especially in our own communities makes me angry. That’s why I am so happy that Idaville Church partners with the Gettysburg Soup Kitchen and the Upper Adams Food Pantry on a consistent basis to help those who struggle in that way.
I was talking about this sermon with my wife Judy and I asked her what she was passionate about and what makes her angry. She said she is passionate about helping and supporting vulnerable people. If you did’t know my wife was a social worker for 34 years. When I met her she was working in a group home in Mechanicsburg and over those years she supported individuals who were vulnerable in our society. Now I have had to learn certain terms over the years. Before I met Judy I rarely used the “R” word but especially after I met her it never came out of my mouth even used non-derogatorally. But I must confess it was confusing because every other month the terms changed, one time it would be mentally disabled people and the next time they would be mentally handicapped people and finally it was people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It could be confusing for me. You see she is passionate about something called social role valorization which means everyone has value and worth and valued social roles in their community, no matter what. Believe me she is passionate about that and if you want to see her angry just say the “R” word. Today, she pursues her passion by supporting students and their families in the cyber-school she works for.
I want you to think about what you are passionate about. What in this world we live in makes you angry? Then I want you to think about what have you done about it? I must confess that I haven’t done enough or at times anything about the things that make me angry. I need to change that and I challenge you all to change that as well.
Today, we are going to look at another well-known story about Jesus in the book of John. This story is significant in that it comes on the heels of our story last week of Jesus turning water into wine. This week Jesus and his disciples go to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast and when he gets to the temple he sees something that makes him angry and he doesn’t hesitate to do something about it. Jesus was passionate about his Father’s honor and there was nothing that was going to get in the way of God being honored and worshipped especially in his own house. This is a story of a housecleaning and it brings us to our big idea this morning which is “that we need to be ready for company.” This morning I am going to share some principles with you that I believe John wants us to remember and take to heart but I am going to call them “pursuits.” But before we go deeper into our scripture this morning and begin to think about what it looks like for us to be ready for company let’s dedicate this time to God.
Let’s pray: Dear God, we ask for your Holy Spirit to fill us this morning as we look into your Word. Help us to open our hearts and give us ears to hear what it is you want us to know, learn and obey. We thank you for the opportunity to worship you this morning. I ask for a burning passion for your honor and for the boldness to stand up for it. In Jesus’ name Amen.
If you would like to follow along, I am starting with verses 12 and 13 of John chapter 2. This is what God’s Word says: 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Following the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus, his mother, his brothers and his disciples leave and go down to Capernaum. The phrase “after this” indicates a transition from one narrative to another and tells us what Jesus did immediately following the wedding in Cana. John is still relating to us “days” in the life of the historical Jesus. John wants us to pay attention to what Jesus does in the very beginning of his ministry because it is important and factual.
In between the wedding in Cana and his trip to Jerusalem Jesus and his disciples go to Capernaum, which was about 16 miles from Cana and could be made in one day’s journey. Why, did Jesus go to Capernaum and not back to Nazareth? One, maybe it was because things had changed. Last week we saw his first public display of his deity as he did his first miracle or “sign”, as John called it. We talked about how the relationship between Jesus and his mother had changed and now so had his relationship really with the whole world. He is now going to be about the work of his Father and maybe it was time to distance himself from his family and start to pour into his disciples so they would be ready to take over his ministry when he was gone. If you remember his brothers didn’t believe he was the Messiah at this time. Gangel says, “We may assume that up to this point Jesus had maintained a comfortable relationship with his family but now left them in Galilee and his disciples took the place of his mother and brothers as his constant companions.” Two, Capernaum seems to be his new base of operations for ministry. That may have been because that was where James and John lived as well as Andrew and Peter. Verse 12 states that they only stayed in Capernaum for a “few days” and the reason given is that it was almost time for the Passover and that meant going “up” to Jerusalem.
The focus of the story is Jesus, so He is the one specifically mentioned as going up to Jerusalem, but it is reasonable to assume that Jesus’ disciples and His brothers would have all traveled there together. Every male Jew who was 12 years or older was expected to go to Jerusalem for Passover according to the Mosaic Law. The Passover was the most important Jewish feast commemorating God’s dramatic deliverance of the Jews from Egypt on the night of the Exodus, when the angel of death “passed over” the firstborn in homes whose doorposts had been marked with blood.
The Passover was followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread which lasted for seven days. This was also in commemoration of God’s deliverance of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were so closely tied together that both were often referred to simply as the Passover. Jerusalem during Passover was the one place every Jew wanted to be at least once in their life. It would have been similar to celebrating New Years in Times Square. It would the place everyone wanted to be for the holiday. If they would have had television, I am sure they would have had live television footage of Passover in Jerusalem all week long.
God commanded that this event be celebrated every year with a partial reenactment of the preparations made on the first Passover. The Jewish people would participate in animal sacrifice, have a symbolic meal and a reflective study of Israel’s salvation. At Passover the Jews were to also do some house cleaning. The day before the feast every Jewish household spent the day meticulously going through their house seeking out any kind of yeast or substance that could cause fermentation and cleaning it from their home. That was an absolute necessity in order to properly celebrate the Passover. They were to also purify or “clean” themselves through sacrificing an animal for their sins and reflecting on what God did for their ancestors in bringing them out of Egypt. They would take part in a symbolic meal which included unleavened bread. In scripture leaven represents the corruption of sin our lives. So, by repenting of their sins and symbolically cleaning their houses of all leaven or sin they were becoming a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. Why did God command this of them and what was the company they were to be ready for? One, they were to be different from those around them. These rituals set up by God in the OT showed that they were different from the pagan and Gentile people around them. Two, the Jewish people being God’s chosen people were blessed by God and were to be a blessing to the people around them. They were to point the Gentiles to God and ultimately to the Messiah. These rituals were how they were to be ready for company and the Gentiles were the company they were to be ready for.
What do we normally do when company is coming over to our house? We clean our house don’t we? We vacuum and mop and we pick up our stuff and put it where it belongs. We make sure the dishes are washed and put away. We make sure the cobwebs are gone and the house smells clean. As Christians we also need to do some house cleaning so we are ready for company. We need to get rid of the yeast and fermentation in our lives and live holy and set apart lives for God every day. If we strive for personal holiness in our lives then when we come together on Sunday mornings that will spill over into our worship to God here. So my question this morning for Idaville Church is are we ready for company? Do we point those who come into our house of worship toward Christ or away from Christ? Are we pursuing holiness personally every day? If we are pursuing holiness everyday then when we come to God’s house on Sundays our company will see that and I believe will want that for themselves and will want to hang around to learn how to have it for themselves.
That brings us to our first pursuit this morning which is “Pursuing holiness is important so we can fully worship God.” It also coincides with the first next step on the back of your communication card which is “to pursue holiness daily so that we are ready for company.”
Next we are going to see what Jesus saw that day that made him so angry. Follow along as I read verses 14-16. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
Now I want to give you some background on the temple. The temple area itself was broken up into several courts by walls and buildings. Each court became more restricted as you got closer to the Temple itself and the Holy of Holies within the temple. Steps led up to the temple mount and to the outer most court referred to as the Court of the Gentiles. This area was open to anyone from any nation to come and worship. At the entrances to the next inner court, the Court of the Women, there were signs inscribed in Greek and Latin that warned Gentiles that to enter into the next court would be upon pain of death. Beyond the Court of the Women was the Court of Israel into which only Jewish men could enter. This court was in front of the Altar. The Court of the Priests surrounded the Temple itself, and only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies within the Temple, and then only once a year.
So, as Jesus came onto the temple mount and into the Court of the Gentiles, his senses were not filled with the activities of people worshiping God. They were instead assaulted by the sights, sounds and smells of a street bazaar. There were bulls, oxen, goats, sheep, and cages full of pigeons and turtle doves for sale to be used for sacrifices. Other men were hawking incense and grains to be used in offerings.
The sale of animals to be used as sacrifices rendered a valuable service to those pilgrims who traveled to the Passover from afar. They could buy the animals on site rather than lead or carry them for long distances. Cattle and sheep were needed for various kinds of offerings. Doves were required for the purification of women especially if they were poor and for the cleansing of those with certain kinds of skin diseases and other purposes.
Also, there were others sitting at tables exchanging money. Again, the moneychangers likewise rendered a service. Visitors to Jerusalem, people from all over the Roman Empire, needed their money exchanged into the local currency because the temple tax, paid by every conscientious Jewish male of twenty years or more had to be paid in either Jewish or Tyrian coins (because of the high purity of silver).
But this was not the way it had always been in the temple courts. It used to be that the sale of the sacrificial animals and the money changers were outside the temple courts completely across the Kidron Valley on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. But in Jesus’ day things had changed and they were set up in the Court of the Gentiles. Convenience had seemed to take over. It is true that they provided a service for those who needed an animal for sacrifice and those who needed to exchange their foreign money for Jewish money but this had become something more than providing a needed service to the Passover worshippers. The merchants gained access to what was nearly a monopoly. All the animals that were to be sacrificed had to be inspected by an official examiner to be sure they met the Levitical qualifications. A fee would be paid to this examiner, and if he did not like your animal, you had to bring another. Corruption was prevalent with the result that the people basically had to buy their sacrificial animals from the High Priest Annas’ merchants in Jerusalem at greatly inflated prices. Also, you were to give the money changers a “tip” for exchanging your money and that “tip” could be the equivalent to extortion. MacArthur says, “What had begun as a service to the worshippers had, under the corrupt rule of the chief priests, degenerated into exploitation and usury.”
This was the scene that Jesus came into when He arrived at the Temple. It would have been a chaotic scene. The corruption and the taking advantage of the Jews who lived outside Jerusalem and the foreigners who had traveled there was bad enough, but I think what got Jesus angry the most was that all this was being done in the Court of the Gentiles. This was supposed to be the place where those who did not know God could come and learn of Him and be instructed in how to worship Him. It was supposed to be the place where the worship of God was showcased before the unbelieving that they might believe. It was where the Godly gentile could worship the one true God. Instead, because of the chaos and the noise they were not able to worship God reverently or in a peaceful atmosphere. People who desperately needed to know God were being kept from exactly that.
We see in verse 15 that Jesus had a very strong reaction to what He encountered. He picks up some of the rope that would have been lying around with so many animals being led to sacrifice. He knots some of them together and makes a whip. He then proceeds to drive out all of these people from the Temple court. Some commentators have said they believe that the whip was made out of straw from the animal bedding. But I don’t think that a whip of straw would be able to drive animals and people out. Jesus would have had to wield something more substantial than straw. And I can’t imagine that these people who were making a lot of money in their business and who vastly outnumbered Jesus even if all His disciples were with Him, would have simply left the court because Jesus asked them too and threatened them with cattle bedding?
Jesus’ anger is very plain and evident in His pouring out the coins of the moneychangers and overturning their tables. This is a man who is passionate and angry and doing something about it. Remember that Jesus would have been working as a carpenter, the trade of earthly father Joseph. Jesus would not have been a soft and weak man. He would have had strong, hard muscles from many years of physical labor. In fact, one of the things I learned about carpenters in Jesus’ day was that it would have included work with stone masonry as well. I doubt the average merchant would have wanted to get into a physical altercation with an angry carpenter in that day.
In verse 16, it seems that Jesus takes a different approach with those who were selling the doves. He said “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” What do you think these merchants of birds did? They probably would have complied very quickly. Jesus’ rebuke to them is stinging. The statement “Stop making my Father’s house a house of merchandise” not only reproaches them for their evil practice, but it also declares to them His identity. The Temple is the house of Jesus’ Father. Jesus is declaring His deity and that His Father is God.
But Jesus’ anger was under control. He wasn't raging furiously, striking out against everybody around him. In fact, our scripture never mentions Jesus actually touching a single person. Carson says, “Jesus’ physical action was forceful but not cruel. One does not drive out cattle and sheep without a whip of cords.
But he does make his point, which was clear: do not turn a place which is devoted to the worship of God and the cleansing of people, into a flea market. The word John uses literally means "emporium," a place where people are concerned about making a fast buck. Burge says, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a market” would be a prophetic command to return the temple to its intended use: worship, prayer, instruction and pious sacrifice. The temple was the place where human values were to be considered supreme.
Jesus had been in Jerusalem many times during the years before his public ministry began. He had been to the temple during Passover and had seen many of the same sights which he saw on this occasion, but he had taken no action in response. Why now? What has changed? This time coming on the heels of the wedding in Cana where he showed his deity he now comes to Jerusalem as the Messiah. And on this day he would fulfill Malachi's prophecy about the Messiah. The background for what Jesus did when he arrived in Jerusalem is found in Malachi 3:1-3. This is what God’s Word says, 1 “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:1-3, NKJV).
This was a prophetic invitation to worship God from the heart without distraction. What was happening in the temple that day was distracting the Gentiles from being able to worship God properly. The Jewish people were not being a blessing to the nations and pointing people to God. Instead they were putting distractions in their way so they could not worship God properly. They were actually pointing people away from God. What are we doing at Idaville Church that distracts from not only ourselves being able to worship properly but the company that comes in from the community to worship God with us? What distracts you from worship on a Sunday morning? Because just like a lack of personal holiness can keep us from worshipping God properly so can distractions. Maybe you come to worship tired and weary. Maybe you are distracted by personal preferences to worship. Maybe you are distracted by the plans you have for Sunday afternoon. Maybe you come with heavy burdens for yourself or family members and friends. We have a lot of people in our church family who have multiple family members who have physical problems. Those problems can be a distraction from worshipping properly. Maybe you are distracted because the only reason you come to church is to check that box off or you just don’t really want to be here. It is important to put off those distractions. Why? Because our company can tell if we are distracted when we are here and that can distract them from worshipping properly. But just like Jesus who drove the animals, the merchants and money changers from the temple that day, we can pursue distractions in ourselves and our church and drive them out of our worship. Which brings me to our second “pursuit” this morning which is “We need to pursue distractions and drive them out of our worship so we can fully worship God.” I will follow that up with the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to “pursue distractions and drive them out of our worship so that we are ready for company.”
Why was Jesus so passionate for his Father’s house that he did the necessary housecleaning in the temple? It was because he wanted the Gentiles to come to God and to be in relationship with him. That happened at the temple. That was where they could go to learn God’s Word and grow in their relationship with him. That is why “pursue disciples” is on this banner behind me. We should be pursuing those in our neighborhoods who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We should be welcoming them into our worship and into our study of God’s Word and helping them to grow in their relationship with Him.
The cleansing of the temple would not go unnoticed though and there would have been an immediate reaction. In verses 17-18 we see two reactions. Follow along as I read verses 17-18. 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
First, we see the reaction of the disciples. They remembered Psalm 69:9 which said, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Psalm 69 is a psalm of David. It is a prayer for his deliverance, due to his piety. The psalm speaks of David’s imminent danger due to the enemies of God who hate him for his passionate devotion to God, and seek his death. Later portions of this psalm depict events that occur at the crucifixion of our Lord (see Ps. 69:21). It seems clear in this psalm that there is a prophecy of our Lord’s sacrificial death, due to His zeal for pure worship and his passion for the things of God. It was a prophecy that the Messiah when he came would have zeal for the house of God. The word zeal means having deep concern for the honor of something. Milne says, “Jesus is driven by a burning all-consuming zeal for the honor and glory of his Father in the quality of worship offered by his people in the place associated with his holy presence.”
The description here is that it “consumed” Him. It was eating Him up. He was incensed and filled with holy rage with what he saw. Jesus had gone to church and what He saw made Him mad. Jesus was committed to the cause of God and it took up His time, energy and thoughts. His actions were all directed toward the work of the Kingdom of God.
As Christians, we are to have a zeal for all that is associated with God. We need to have a fervent devotion, a passionate commitment to Him and a jealousy for upholding His righteous character. We should be consumed with Him and therefore living for Him daily. This means being in relationship with him, daily communing with him and obeying his commandments.
Zeal carries you the extra step when others would have quit. It moves you to action when others are fearful. It keeps your focus on what is really important in life rather than being distracted by the ordinary. A concern for God’s honor will make us better worshippers. Tragically, most professing Christians separate their “religious” life from everyday life. Jesus is Lord on Sunday morning, but He is given little thought the rest of the week. A true Christian is seen in Galatians 2:20. This is what god’s Word says, 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. It should be considered normal, not radical, for a Christian to be consumed with Jesus and living for Him so that everything in life is seen in terms of honoring and glorifying God. This brings us to our third “pursuit” this morning which is “we need to pursue a passion for all things associated with God and his honor.”
Second, we see the reaction of the Jews. These were probably temple leaders, temple police and/or the Sanhedrin who arrived to investigate the commotion. As the legal authorities, the Sanhedrin had every right to question the credentials of someone taking such bold action in the temple complex. It was common for people to ask for proof of a prophet’s divine legitimation. This shows, though, that they harboured at least a suspicion that Jesus was a heaven-sent prophet. They would have had other recourses if they thought he was just an emotionally unstable person causing havoc.
They knew by his act of coming to the temple and beginning the work of purification that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah but they also expected the Messiah to do great and wonderful things. Now they wanted to see some great “sign” to prove his claim. The irony was that Jesus’ action of cleaning house in the temple was the sign. Their response shows they were less concerned with pure worship and a right approach to God than they were with questions of precedent and authority. This exposed the wickedness of their hearts.
It is interesting that they didn’t arrest Jesus or challenge the wrongness of what he did, they simply didn’t think he had the authority to make the changes. They didn’t think he had the authority to kick them out. They knew that their greedy, corrupt commercialization of temple worship was wrong, but they obstinately refused to admit it. I like what Carson says, “They were asking the wrong question. A sign that would satisfy them would have shown God to be nothing more than a show horse doing powerful stunts to maintain allegiance and that kind of allegiance is not worth having.
In verse 19 and 20 we see Jesus’ reply and the Jews rebuttal. 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”
Jesus answers their question but not in the way they expected. The fact was he had already answered their question, without saying a word. But he responds by saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Since they were standing in the physical Temple, that is all they can think of, so they answer, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it up in three days?”
Jesus’ response is actually very pointed and powerful and the meanings interwined. The Jews were already destroying the purpose of the Temple by their desecration of it into a market place. When they would crucify Jesus, they would also end the purpose of the temple. Recall that at Jesus’ death, the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn from the top down. The final sacrifice had been paid and man could now approach God through Christ instead of the Temple sacrificial system. When the Jews crucified Jesus, they also destroyed the Temple system, and three days later when Jesus rose from the dead, He laid the foundation for a new type of temple, called the church.
In verses 21 and 22 we see John the Evangelist with an “aha” moment. The Gospel of John was written probably at the earliest in 90 AD. This gave John almost 60 years to come up with the words that he wanted to use to tell his readers about the time Jesus cleaned house and its significance. Follow along as I read verses 21 and 22. 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
We see many times John in his Gospel giving an explanation that clears up any misunderstandings. John says that what Jesus is referring to is “his body” as the living abode of God and in that “temple” the ultimate sacrifice would take place and within three days of death and burial he would rise from the dead.” John is the first to admit that the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying at the time. It was not until after the resurrection that the disciples had a greater understanding and trust in what the Scriptures and Jesus had said. Then they were able to make sense of this prophecy and recognize Jesus’ resurrection power as a clear indication of his deity. They were aided in this understanding by the Holy Spirit.
Now we come to verses 23-25. Most commentators say these three verses are a bridge that leads us from what just took place, Jesus cleaning his Father’s House to the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night that starts in chapter 3 verse 1 which Pastor Stuart will bring to you next Sunday. Follow along as I read those verses. 23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
We see that Jesus stayed in Jerusalem throughout the rest of the feast and continued to minister to the people. It says he did other signs, but there is no indication that these affected the Jews that challenged Jesus about cleansing the temple. It did make an impression on others, though, and they believed in Jesus in the sense that they began to accept what he was saying. But they did not have a saving faith at this point as verses 24 and 25 indicate. Jesus did not trust them because He knew what was in their heart and how fickle people can be. It reminds us that those who shouted “hosanna” to Jesus on Palm Sunday would also be shouting “crucify him” a few days later.
We see Jesus’ omniscience here. He is all-knowing and he knew what was in man and did not need testimony from anyone else to know what is in a person’s heart. Jesus knows what is in our hearts as well, and yet He still loved us so much that He died in our place. He knows all our failings and still loves us. But never forget that His love also means that He will not allow us to continue as we are. He wants to change us to be more like Himself. He wants to come into us and clean our house so we can worship him with our lives more fully and be ready for company.
If we are going to be ready for company we need to strive for the aforementioned pursuits. We need to pursue personal holiness, we need to pursue the distractions in our lives and drive them out especially when we come to worship, we need to pursue disciples, those who need to hear about Jesus and need his salvation and we need to pursue passion for all things associated with God and his honor.”
We need to examine our hearts and our minds and answer the questions: Are we concerned with God’s honor? Are we passionate about the things of God and what he is passionate about? Do we get upset when God’s name is dragged through the mud? Do we get upset when “Christians” do things that give God a bad name? Do we get upset when people are kept from being able to worship God? Do we get upset about people heading to hell because nobody tells them there is a Savior that loves them and wants a saving relationship with them? What can we do about it? What should we do about it? I can’t answer that for you, but I do have to answer that question for myself, though. But once we do we need to follow Jesus’ example and do something about it. Stand up and get angry if that is what it takes, without sinning, of course. It takes a house cleaning within each of us and it takes a house cleaning in God’s house. I want to finish with this video that Kim Melton showed me on Wednesday. I like how God works. I really didn’t have a conclusion to this sermon today at the time and she showed me this. I felt almost immediately that this was what we all need to hear this morning. This helps to practically see what zeal and passion for the things of God look like.
WOW!!! That blows me away and convicts me. I confess I do not have that kind of passion for God and his honor. But I want it and I hope you do too. You see the front page of our website on the screen with our church’s mission statement on it. It says that Idaville UB Church exists to provide opportunities to reach the lost and make disciples in the greater Idaville community so individuals can passionately pursue the Savior. It is summed up in Pursue, Grow & Multiply Disciples. Those Chinese Christians are passionately pursuing the Savior. Can we do no less? That brings us to our last next step on the back on your communication card which is “to passionately pursue the Savior so we are ready for company.”
As we prepare our hearts for our final song and the ushers prepare to take up the communication cards let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you with repentant hearts. It is so easy to drift into a worship that is convenient for us, a worship that is about our comfort and preferences. We know it makes you angry. We want to be worshippers that joyfully sacrifice for you glory. We want to be worshippers that have your heart for the lost. We want to be worshippers that have a passion for the things you are passionate about. Help us to stand up and get angry when your honor is being threatened. We ask that you go before us this day and we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.