Monday, January 24, 2011
Today’s Topic: Priorities
Today’s Text: Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
What an exciting day yesterday. I couldn’t have planned the outcome better. Everything came together perfectly. People were enthusiastic. Some even stood to experience the victory. It was a wonderful worship service.
Ah ha! Gotcha! How many of you are willing to confess right now that you thought I was talking about the football game? I know that was an important event in the lives of Green Bay Packer football fans, but why does it capture us so completely that it at times overwhelms our sensitivity to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday’s worship service couldn’t have been more timely. It was planned long before we knew that there was going to be an NFC championship football game involving the local favorite. It had everything in it that prepared us to respond correctly to whatever happened in the game. Today will be the test as to whether we learned anything or not.
In the songs we sang, the Scripture we read, and the teaching we received, there was a consistent theme of surrender. Over and over again we were challenged with the words of Jesus who said, with my personal points of emphasis added, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
- There are no exclusions or exceptions – anyone who wants to follow Jesus MUST make Him the priority of their life
- There are no additions allowed – anyone who wants to find the real and full meaning and purpose of life must first lose their own life and take up the cross of Jesus Christ.
- There are no advantages to replacing Jesus with the things of the world – NONE. All things of this world will fade and be lost, even the joy of a football game. But the joy of knowing and serving Jesus is eternal.
At the conclusion of the service dozens of people stood to commit these truths to the heart and soul, and to begin to place Jesus on the throne of their lives. It was incredible. They are the ones who are today experiencing the real victory – the spiritual victory over sin and the flesh. They are the ones who will spend today talking more about Jesus than they will the Packers of the Steelers or the Jets or the Bears. They are the people who will show more enthusiasm in their speech and have more bounce in their step, and it won’t be because a football game turned out the way they wanted – it will be because they are living for Jesus and know the incredible grace it took to bring them the victory they now have.
Already the plans are being made for day of the Super Bowl. Parties are being planned. Tickets are being bought by some. Calls are being made to friends to see if they could connect to watch it together. People are enthralled with the hope of a victory in a game that has no guarantee to take place. And even if it does, and even if their team wins, what will it really profit them? Is our value system so messed up that we find our worth in what our favorite sports team accomplishes?
My friends, if my team were in the Super Bowl I would be excited also. But I pray – I’m on my knees today as I was in church yesterday – that NOTHING would ever be more important in this life than the love of Jesus and following Him. May we be as enthusiastic about sharing the Good News of salvation with people as we are about talking about the game.