Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Following In His Steps

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Following In His Steps

MP3 Audio (12.1 MB)


Following In His Steps

MP3 Audio (12.1 MB)

What kind of an ad would Christ write for us if He was inviting disciples?


I can remember, it was only done one time back in the seventies, I was in north Louisiana in a pastorate and the then director of Church Administration wrote out in our bulletin, something like that that we got, and he said this, it was like an advertisement — "There's an opening for a pastor in Jacksonville, Florida. If you would like this pastorate, you can apply to (himself)." He said, it had a very nice and friendly church, you will like this church. It was on the coast and of course you had beaches, a lot of golf courses and the weather was just gorgeous most of the year, unlike other northern parts of the United States. He said, "If you would be interested, please contact me." Well I read that, now you don't know what I'm going to say! You thought that I was going to apply didn't you? No, I wrote him a letter, now I never received a reply back, I said this: "Why did you say that? Why didn't you say, this is a church that needs work, only those who want to work should apply, this will require a pastor who will have to sacrifice some things and you're going to have to give a lot, but in the end we are certain that the rewards will be worth it."

Now I don't know who he eventually got, but you're going to get what you advertise for. As I said, I never got my answer back from him and I wasn't intending to go and I said, what in the world are we doing here? That was going on in my mind; I was a little bit disturbed, I remember it, I'm not making it up, the town was Jacksonville, Florida, not a bad place, most people would love to live there.

There's something in this I want to talk about today that has to do with several of the themes we've been putting together for the past few weeks and I'm glad you're here again today because I want to put them together and in a certain form, to help us to understand what it is that we should expect and what is it that Christ would do, what kind of an ad would Christ write for us if He was inviting disciples? I think you know immediately, as we've been quoting some of these scriptures here in the past few weeks, just how it would run. He said, If you want to be My disciple, don't think that I've come to send peace on earth etc. have to be able to count the cost. Are you willing to bear your cross? Now that's a very interesting advertisement, if He would have run that one, how many people do you think would have applied? Not very many! Now He did get twelve in the end, He got it.

Now you know we live in a time in which it seems like the whole mantra of let's say a people's, their life is — let's see how much fun we can have, let's see how much pleasure we can get, let's avoid the hard, the difficult, let's see if we can get the best life, the easiest life where some few people will choose a hard life and they are very very few and they will choose the hard life. One of those people who do this are people who are in the Special Forces, you know what I'm talking about — here are people who have to be trained, they have to be trained intensely to where it hurts, to where they will give you every chance to give up and to quit and they will put you in a position to where you think you want to give up. But you see, that's the only way they're going to stay alive when they go to where they're going.

You ought to read some of these books; I've read them, its fascinating reading. I have not been there; I have not come close to being where some of these people are, very few people have, but they've chosen this, knowing what it was, knowing what it would be and knowing that after their training, their intense painful excruciating training, they would be sent to do things nobody else could do, that's where they were. Now I do like to read stories about this, I like to try to understand what they went through, I like to try to understand what happened and I try to make the application the best that I can. Now these are people who have been taught to endure a lot, they've been taught to persevere, they've been taught never ever to give up and they don't, to a man they don't.

Now Jesus Christ knew it would be hard, He knew before He gave up His privilege that He had prior to this human existence, that it was going to be hard, it would be so hard and that there would be the real possibility that He could succumb to the hardships that faced Him, the hardships of coming to this earth, living as a man, being subject to pain, and in this case, lots of pain, He would die, He would die a death that no man would wish on his worst enemy, the death of crucifixion, the death that when you went through that excruciating pain you would eventually fight for every last breath and you would hold on to it so preciously until you could breathe no more, He knew that's what He would have to do. It was all prophesied beforehand, we normally talk about this during the time of the Passover to help us to appreciate what He did for us.

Now let me just say here, that's not expected of you and me, but it is expected that we understand it and we should appreciate it. Now He wants us to understand this because we will be forever responsive to Him, we will be forever subjective to Him, willingly so because we understand what He went through. If any of you could say, well I've suffered more than Christ, and I've known some few people who have said Christ couldn't even begin to understand what I'm going through — well that person doesn't know what Christ went through. But if we did, we could always say, well I suffered as much as Christ. I don't think so! Christ had to go through all of it, He had to experience all of it and He did go through all of it and that has won us to Him forever, that has put something in our hearts and minds, how could we, why would we disobey Him? Why would we forsake Him, why would we ever rebel against Him? He had shown this kind of love toward us through this kind of hardship, here is a person that we could admire and follow forever, we would never forsake Him in that way. It's a very powerful thing when we understand what was really behind it, but He knew it was hard and He chose that. Isaiah 53:3 Isaiah 53:3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
American King James Version×

Isaiah 53:3 Isaiah 53:3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
American King James Version×
— He is despised and rejected by He didn't look forward — I appreciate what Mr. Huffmans had to say about the scribing, the attitude of people toward Him. He somehow knew that He would not have the respect...a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him...if we were there, we would throw in with the crowd and not stand by Him, as His own disciples did at that one particular time...He was despised and we did not esteem Him.

It's all too easy for us then to simply go along with a dominant or powerful feeling of the group or the crowd isn't it? It takes a very strong person to stand up and say "I'm not going along with this, I won't be a part of it, I won't feel this way and if it means that I'm going to be disadvantaged as a result, I'm going to suffer for it, well so be it, I will not go along with this." Few people could do that, His own disciples couldn't, in the end they did, they could but it took a lot for them to do that. But He would be familiar with grief and suffering, He would see it, He would live among it, He would feel the pain of others, He would not retreat from a situation where there was suffering, He knew it personally and in some cases, intimately. He saw evil, He lived amongst evil, He grieved within Himself over what He saw other people go through, He was so grieved at some of the terrible penalties and consequences and pain and sicknesses that they had. Then in the end He faced it Himself didn't He? Not that He was sick, don't mean to imply that, but He did have to face pain and suffering. He had to live with the sure knowledge of what would happen, but you never heard Him complain, even though He knew what was going to happen, He described it to His disciples for their sake, He tried to help them prepare for what they were going to see Him suffer. He didn't say it because He was just venting — do we do that? He didn't say it to them because He wanted sympathy, He wasn't saying this because He was really anxious about the whole thing, worried about, wondering what was going to happen, He didn't do it that way. The closest He ever got to saying anything to His own disciples, when He was trying to help them to see what they would experience is in Luke 12:49-53 Luke 12:49-53 [49] I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? [50] But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! [51] Suppose you that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, No; but rather division: [52] For from now on there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. [53] The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
American King James Version×
, it's very interesting what He said here, what He meant, what He intended, He wasn't immune to facing the reality of it, I mean it's not something He blocked out of His mind saying, I don't want to think about it! How many of us have done that? I don't want to think about it — why do we do that? We can't handle it, we can't handle those kind of thoughts, the idea sometimes of some terrible thing that's happening, so we don't want to think about it.

Luke 12:49-53 Luke 12:49-53 [49] I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? [50] But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! [51] Suppose you that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, No; but rather division: [52] For from now on there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. [53] The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
American King James Version×
— He said — "I came to send fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled! Or the sooner it gets here, the sooner it's going to be over. But I have a baptism to be baptized with and how distressed I am until it is accomplished. Do you suppose I came to bring peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on, five in one house will be divided; three against two, two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

He's kind of spinning this out a bit, the way He's explaining this, I really want you to get this fellows, how it's going to be. Now you see, in one sense, to what extent they knew this before they signed on with him, I don't know, but at least as they go along, He is telling them, and He is giving them a chance to opt out anytime they want to, they can opt out, as when the people, the crowds left Him in John 6 when He made the statements, "You have to eat My flesh and drink My blood" and they were offended at that and they left. And He turned to His disciples and He said to then, "Would you like to go too?" They had a chance to opt out, sure, and Peter said...and you've got to hand it him, he said, "No, you've got the words of eternal life, here's where I'm staying." He didn't quite know what it would mean, he didn't know what he would have to experience but he said, nope, I'm sticking! But He says here, don't think you'll have peace if you stay with me.

Now let me just say this, it's not wrong to have pain and distress, it says this — it's how you handle it, you can lose control, you can go into an emotional tailspin of some kind of description, or you can temper your thoughts and your feelings, you can keep them in line with God's law or you can go into emotional tirades of vengeance, of hate, of accusation which then leads to despair and discouragement and sometimes even depression. Now look, what He's saying here, He says, look, all these things are going to happen. Of course you can be pained over it, you can be troubled over it. You know the contrast of Christ, whenever He was crucified and one of the criminals was crucified with Him is quite startling. The gracious statements that came out of the mouth of Jesus was so profound — the one statement that stands out, of course there were a number of statements, seven of them if I recall. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." And the centurion then who was in charge of the crucifixion or the execution of the three was standing there and he heard, he just kept hearing what Jesus was saying and the centurion in charge of the execution exclaimed when he heard this, "This is truly the Son of God." What would he see before, what would he see from the other one? Not the one who obviously had understood why he was there and understood why Christ was there, but the other one, the third one, I mean he was ridiculing, he was cursing, you know as they tend to do when they're being put to death at a time like this, they would curse the people who were doing it, they would spit on them, they would do all kinds of hateful things, just do something to them, that's the kind of reaction. Jesus had a totally different reaction when He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And the centurion saw that and was so moved by it, he said, This has got to be the Son of God. Nobody can have this kind of self control, nobody can have this kind of temperament, nobody can endure this kind of hardness. John 12:27 John 12:27Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I to this hour.
American King James Version×
, it's quite interesting here.

John 12:27-29 John 12:27-29 [27] Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I to this hour. [28] Father, glorify your name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. [29] The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spoke to him.
American King James Version×
— "Now My soul is troubled...of course you're going to be troubled over things...well what shall I say...that's kind of what He's saying, the way we would say it...Father, save Me from this hour, but for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name." This wasn't about Him (Christ), glorify Your name. Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.'" Therefore the people who stood by heard it and said that it thundered. Others said, "An angel had spoken to Him."

V. 30 — And Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake."

No, it didn't, one would think, it's something that Jesus would certainly be buoyed up by and encouraged by, I'm sure He was. But He says, this is actually for you. You know He didn't complain, He was self-controlled, He carried this out to the end, saying to the Father, My soul is troubled, but what of it, this is why I'm here. He got on with the job, He had to give His life for the life of all the others and us too for that matter, that's the way Jesus was, that's the way He lived and in the end, that's the way He died. He never allowed Himself much luxury, He couldn't afford to, He couldn't afford to get in that frame of mind because He knew what He had to experience.

How did it get to be this way? Let's cover a couple of points here. Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
American King James Version×
. How so? What do we mean that Jesus then was a person who was very self-disciplined and He was in control, He was in control of His life.

Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
American King James Version×
— For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

You see, He was tempted, He would have to have been tempted in all things but He did so without sin, He had to face things that you and I face and face them to the full extent, because He never succumbed to them. At any point if you succumb prior to the fullness of the temptation and you give into it, you haven't faced the whole thing, we should think about that. People say, well, He doesn't know because He never succumbed — anyone who succumbs prior to the fullness of the temptation has not persevered, they have given in, Jesus didn't, so He does know — that's the point, He does know, He's been there, He's went through the whole thing — we can't say, Well He hasn't been tempted, He hasn't been tried in the same way I have been, don't ever say that. Hebrews 5:7 Hebrews 5:7Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
American King James Version×

Hebrews 5:7-8 Hebrews 5:7-8 [7] Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; [8] Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
American King James Version×
— Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplication with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, was heard because of His godly fear. Now Jesus did that, vehement cries and tears. Though He was a Son, He learned obedience by the things He suffered.

You know, we do too, we're not exempt from that, you do learn obedience by the things you suffer and let us not think that somehow, we're exempt from this, that I learn obedience simply by showing up. Oh you have to show up, support and do that, I learn obedience simply by being in it. That helps, but you don't really learn obedience, you learn obedience by the things you suffer.

Now here's what we're coming to — there are disciplines that we have to follow if we're going to make it. That's kind of taking off from the idea of a disciple, there are disciplines and the bible speaks of those disciplines. One is prayer, that's what we just covered by the way, one is prayer, there is the discipline of prayer and it ought to be a discipline to us, not something we can forgo, not something we can exchange and say, well maybe there's something better on television, maybe I'll just skip it today because I have too many other things to do. No, it's a part of the discipline that we have to follow, there are choices we have to make, we can't get caught up in the enticements and the entertainment of this world, or we say, I will forgo some of that to pray, to seek God, to study out His word, I'll do that which is most important. And let me tell you something, if you follow that one discipline, we haven't gone much beyond that, but I'm going to tell you about several other disciplines today that will make a huge difference. Now I think that's the point that I've kind of been making for about the past three or four sermons since the Feast, that's prayer, we don't ever leave that do we? It is a discipline, it's basic, it's foundational and you can't forgo it — don't! Don't think you can do without it, it's a discipline.

I remember reading about this boy who had cerebral palsy, I read it about 30 years ago in quite a famous book in the US, it's down here too, he finished up his book with this particular story. Cerebral palsy is one of those problems from birth that can be helped with great effort, only with great effort and they did eventually find a doctor who said, Look, there is something you can do but not many people are willing to do it because it's hard, you don't realize how hard it is, but I want you to understand something, that there can be improvement. So this doctor outlined a program for him and he said, Here's what you're going to have to do with him. And they did this as a baby and as a child, when they finally figured out this is what his problem was. So his father hired a trainer and began to work with him and work with him as a small child, got him up, helping him to sit up, helping him then to walk and then to run and then eventually play sports. He was reasonable with sports even though his palsy was quite acute, he had to teach the child to keep moving, to keep fighting, to make his muscles in his legs and his arms and back work, to continue to work without the help of the instruction that would come from his brain. It had to be done through other parts of the nervous system and that's serious, but you could bypass that but it would take enormous amounts of work and it would come back again if you didn't continue to do it. But the work was painful, it was almost never ending, it went on for hours a day until the muscles and the nerves overcame the non support that should have come from the brain that was damaged at birth. As he got older the young lad knew, as a teenager he knew that he didn't have the luxury of not working his body, he didn't have that luxury, because if he did, the disease would come back, all he had to do was not go to the gym and the pain and the exercise for two days and you would see the disease begin to encroach on his body and begin to take its toll if he did that, the disease would come back. So he had to keep it at bay, he had to pay the price, he had to keep doing that, he had to do that for his whole life and when his friends, the other boys he went to school with and he played sports with would just want to stop everything and hang out and enjoy life, he knew he had to say goodbye and he had to make the trip to the gym. He had to do that.

Now you see, the Laodiceans can come out of this if they want to, now this is what we've been talking about, they really can because Christ wouldn't tell them to do something they couldn't do. He says, "I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire." They can do the hard thing, they really can, it can be their choice, it was Christ's choice to come to this earth. You see now, if we don't make these kinds of choices all along, you won't make the right choice when you need to make that choice. A lot of people opted for the easy way out and they always will, it's a part of human nature, to take the easy way out. They found the way to excuse themselves from obeying God in a world when everything was against them and the first time somebody came along and began to tell them they didn't have to obey God, it was all too convenient to believe, so they went that way, indeed they did and they still rationalize, you don't understand. There's going to come a time where the story is going to be told as to where you are.

Acts 14:21 Acts 14:21And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
American King James Version×
. I didn't finish that, I should have finished, there's another additional point I should make on that and that's this: There is a reason why people make those kinds of decisions by the way, it's not a mystery, it's not something that's unknown, you can simply follow the trail, it's there, the clues would have been there all along and when it came time for somebody to come along and say, You really don't have to do all of this, you really don't have to obey God, there's a reason why they opted for it. Now you think about that one.

Acts 14:21 Acts 14:21And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
American King James Version×
— They had preached the gospel in that city, they made many disciples and they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch...

V. 22 — ...strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."

Now I know we like to argue with this, but these are the facts of the matter, we too through much tribulation, are going to enter the kingdom of God. He said this is the way God set it up, you have to go through tribulations, there are going to be trials, we don't want to hurt you, that's not the point, don't want to see you suffer, He doesn't want to punish you, that's not what He's doing at all. But He said, if you're going to last, if you're going to hang in there, if you're going to stand the trial, if you're going to be able to be in the kingdom of God and stay in the kingdom of God, this is the only way you're going to get in it. There are no exceptions to this, there are tribulations. I don't know what form they are, in the case of people here, they were persecuted externally, that seemed to be the hallmark of that early Church, they were just persecuted all the time, not something they chose for themselves, not something they sought, it just simply happened to them. Laodiceans he said, if you're going to make it, you're going to have to choose a way, you're going to choose this, you're going to have to choose the hard way, you're going to have to get down to doing what you're suppose to do because you can do this and he's advising them to do it, otherwise there will be chastisement, but you have an opportunity to exercise yourself in this kind of discipline to start with.

You know one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control and self discipline —

Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
where it lists all the fruits of the spirit. The old King James I believe speaks of self control. V. 23, just coming down to the last ones here:

Galatians 5:23 Galatians 5:23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
— gentleness, self-control...the last one! Against such there is no law.

The word is egkrateia — I'm not sure how you say it in the Greek, I don't guess it matters, which simply means "strength" it has reference to power or ascendancy which we have over various evil passions, as the commentaries put it, or tendencies to sin, evil passions of all kinds. It denotes the self rule which man has over the evil propensities of his nature. It is a fruit of God's spirit when God moves us through His spirit to discipline ourselves, I mean God does that, that is a fruit of the spirit, self discipline is a fruit of the spirit and as I think I've been trying to make the point, we live in an age where there is too much seeking of pleasure, seeking of leisure, seeking the easy life. We even call ourselves here, when we've gotten a bit more prosperous in our nation here of Australia, the lifestyle country, we even go for that!

And what happened to the people, the hard work, the people who sacrificed? You know this is why nations lose what they have, it's because they have opted for the easy life. You have a few people who are out there on the front line who will fight for their country, who will be a part of the military for instance and put their lives on the line, and who will go to the extent of being trained so highly that they will do extraordinary things because they've been trained to do so and the ordinary person can't do them unless he is prepared to pay the price to do it, and a few people do this. You've got a few of them in Afghanistan today who are out doing these kinds of things, but it's too bad the politicians won't choose to fight a war. I would hate to be serving under a commander and a chief who doesn't want to win. Now that's just my opinion because it's happened in too many wars recently. They're not interested in winning so our good men die for nothing. Now there are people who are prepared to do that, they take the hard way and it is the hard way.

We do tend to let ourselves get away with too much, if we can bring it back to ourselves. Someone once said about the mood that they were in, when they were having a pity party that went on for I don't know how many months, feeling sorry for themselves, questioning God about everything that was happening to them and they went on like that until they finally saw what it really was like and they had to get out of it and they did, but they saw the frame of mind that they were in, they were simply letting themselves get away with all kinds of things, rolling around in their heads and it was affecting them, affecting their relationships, affecting their marriage, affecting, if it was a parent, the parenthood, it was affecting a lot of things and we do tend to let ourselves get away with too much. We like to pamper ourselves with the kind of thinking that we aren't really at fault, we're not really that bad, the other person was really bad here and we get into all of that.

You know, let me tell you something, look, Jesus said this, there are different ways in which we take so many luxuries and we allow ourselves certain things. Jesus said that whoever looks after a woman and lusts after her in his heart has already committed adultery — guys, some people just allow themselves too much, some people just allow themselves to linger a bit too long, you don't allow yourself that, there is such a thing as self-discipline and that's what he's talking about here or we've got to simply make up for whatever other thing we're dealing with, suffering, because this happened to us or that happened to us, I mean we find some other cheap counterfeit way of dealing with it through alcohol or drugs or something like that. We can't handle it.

Well when I get a bit stroppy and I was going to join the military, I know what my father was thinking. He says, I think of busting into the military would do the boy good! Now God had different...I was almost fact I wanted to go, bit of an adventure, however God had some different ideas and I came to understand a whole lot more about the truth and what was going on and I made a different decision and I had to fight a different kind of warfare but the same difference, I couldn't let myself get away with things. Let's say, I didn't do it, but I want to tell you something, it's going to take some discipline to reign in wayward thoughts, it's going to take some discipline to get a hold of certain feelings. Now that's the hard part and these are some of the disciplines that we have to understand about it all, that we just can't simply let our feelings go, wherever they go sometimes, they just get out of control, we say outlandish things, outrageous things and wow, we look back on them and where did that come from? We allow too much. Now self-discipline then kind of puts it back on us doesn't it, to where we start to get the control over ourselves. Now let's notice in II Corinthians 10:3.

II Cor. 10:3 — For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

Now I don't fight physical battles, though that is an indication of how a person might learn to endure and I think it's always good for young people to get involved in some kind of a program where they can be trained, physically, I really do, and to learn how to be trained and to push themselves beyond anything that they ever — so that they can make the team, that they can be on it and they can have that kind of accomplishment, it gives them a great deal of confidence. Now I think that's important, they can transfer that over later but our war is not according to the flesh, lets put it that way, we don't have to fight that kind of a battle necessarily.

V. 4 — For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal...or human or fleshly... but mighty...they are God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

So whatever rolls around in our heads sometimes that causes us to act emotionally and say things we shouldn't say and fly off here and fly off there and take extreme positions sometimes, God says, you're in a war man, get over yourself! Oh I just can't do you know what God says? Yes you can!

V. 5 — Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of you don't mean every thought? Well now, that's what he says here, these are military terms, into captivity...and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Ok, someway, somehow, I'm going to deal with this and you go to the inth degree to make sure you don't do it again; you punish all disobedience within yourself. That's the fun about judging other people, it's not saying, you're categorizing, you're judging, looking down upon other people, that's not what it's talking about here, it's about what you do with yourself, that's what it's talking about.

So there is the discipline of self control and of mind and emotional control the bible talks about. Now let's notice in I Cor. 9:24...the book of I Corinthians and II Corinthians is very interesting, I love it, because Paul lets them know what he was prepared to go through because of what Christ did for him and for what Christ had called him for. Whatever you want me to go through, that's it, I'll go through whatever. That's how he thought and that's how he felt and he was sincere.

I Cor. 9:24 — Do you not know that those who run a race all run but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things...

That is, he's self controlled, complete control in all things. You know the fastest runner in the world — now I'm going to just have to assume he's being drug tested on a very regular basis, I just assume that OK? Now let's say all things are right there, I'll tell you something about this guy, he says, I'm going to do better next year than I did last year. How does he know that? He's in charge of himself, he's in charge of his body, he's in charge of his mind, especially his mind because when you get up there it's up here (pointing to head) and all of the people who have been to the very top level of their sport will tell you it's here, that's where the discipline has to be, you've got to get your thinking right here, get your thoughts right, you've got to be in charge. Nothing comes along and throws you, you're in charge. That's self control...temperate in all things.

V. 25 — Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus, not with uncertainty, thus I fight, not as one who beats the know, people who have been properly trained, they know what to do, they know how to do it, they know the way, the methods and so on, they've worked this out and when they work hard it has a direction to it and it pays off, that's what he says, I'm not just beating the air here, I know exactly where I'm going, I know how this is going to pay off, I know what it's going to get. Therefore I run thus, not with uncertainty, thus I fight, not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection lest when I have preached to others I myself should become disqualified.

So I'm not going to let myself get away with a lot of things. Now he's not against fun and recreation, nobodies against that, nobody is saying you've got to be a pretty dull boy, nobody's saying you can't have time out to recover, you've got to have time out to recover! But I'm talking about an overall frame of mind here in which you're prepared to do, not just the right thing but the hard thing because it pays off. 2 Timothy 2:1 2 Timothy 2:1You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
, I'm always impressed by what Paul told Timothy.

2 Timothy 2:1 2 Timothy 2:1You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
— You therefore, my son...and he mentored strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, in the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Endure hardship, like a soldier does. Did you ever hear the stories some of these soldiers do, I mean they go till they drop, they teach them that. But he told Timothy, Timothy, I've got a nice church area for you, beautiful Mediterranean weather, nice folks, you'll never have any problems out of them and there you go, you can just be the pastor and everybody will like you and you can just get paid from what's being collected there at the time and everything will be just fine Timothy. That's not what he told him — he said, I want you to endure hardness as a good soldier, he said I want to show you how to behave in the Church of the Living God, he said I want you to preach the word, I want you to fulfill your calling and I want you to do the work of an evangelist. He says, I like it here, as an ordinary preacher. What a nice life. And sometimes that's what we do, we just teach our pastors to do just that. Well, depends on whether we're going to buy it or not. He said endure hardness as a good soldier, there are some disciplines and he kind of went through a few of them here and you can sort of read for yourself but lets notice in II Timothy 2:15, just down a few more verses. It's all in here if you read it from that point of view; you may be surprised what you see in that regard. He was challenging Timothy, he wasn't telling him how he could take it easy in life, he said, this is the ticket into the kingdom of God, here's what you've got to show people, here's what they have to understand, the only way to do it, you've got to live that way. He says:

II Tim. 2:15 — Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. It says in the Old King James it implies that this is to study to present yourself approved to God, tying it in with the idea that you have to know how to rightly divide the word of truth. Do not allow yourself the luxury of getting into profane and idle babblings. I took a little liberty with that verse, but that's basically what he's saying...for they will increase to more and more ungodliness.

Oh yes, it's always fun isn't it? Always easy to kind of ease back, pull back a little bit. There are disciplines and here's one — the discipline of the Word of God, to study it, to search it, to see what it says and to believe it and to begin to put it into practice in your life, that's a discipline, so that's two — prayer, the kind of prayer that Christ prayed and the kind of study that we have here. Philippines 2:3, let's conclude with this, unless I can think of another scripture between now and then!

Philippians 2:3 Philippians 2:3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
American King James Version×
— Now let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let's read this from the point of view of a discipline. When people give themselves the luxury that they're in this thing for selfish ambition, he says you can't have that, or conceit or you think you're better and you know more or whatever...but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

V. 4 — Let each of you look out not only for his own interest but the interest of others.

This is a discipline, how you look after others, how you're concerned about others, that is a discipline. The works that God gives us to do is a discipline, it's a part of the things that we do. Now this is in contrast of course with the emphasis that is placed in so many churches today of accepting Christ as your Savior and you're saved and that kind of thing. I'm not saying people don't get into some of these disciplines, I think they do. Some very genuine sincere people will do that but all too often it's not put that way. Now if you had a person walk in here today and I said, OK, so this is about being in the kingdom of God, let me tell you what it's going to take and you start telling them what it's going to take and describe it — well this is not what I heard down the street, what I heard down the street was — and I really enjoyed myself there, we got into emotion and we got into a lot of singing and we got into a lot of this and that and how blessed we're going to be if we do this and we get a double portion here and we get this and we get that and we have all of this and it's so wonderful and I'd rather go there. OK, we're talking about getting into the kingdom of God, that's what we're talking about.

Now we do need to be a little tougher on ourselves with respect to some of these basic disciplines. Let's go back to it — Laodiceans live in a time where it's easy, where they have everything given to them, they don't think they need anything, they don't realize they're poor, they're blind, they're wretched and miserable, they need gold tried in the fire, they need the raiment of righteousness and he says, you do this, go on, let's see it happen, so everybody has to make up his mind as to whether they're going to follow this, they're going to follow the disciplines, make the right choices and just get a little tougher on themselves. First of all with what goes on up here (mind) — that's where it's at, you don't let yourself get away with all kinds of things, we've been too used to that and nothing is going to change unless we really get a hold of what goes on up here in our heads and start bringing everything into captivity and we're in charge, not just any kind of thought that comes along or emotion or feeling or whatever, but we just get a hold of this thing and say, look, I'm bringing this into captivity here and I'm not going to be tossed back and forth and thrown around by all kind of feelings and emotions that kind of come along, I'm just not going to do it, I'm going to get a hold of this and do it with God's help and so you start to exercise these other disciplines, prayer and bible study so you can discipline what goes on in your head and you discipline that, these are disciplines. Then if we're going to be a true disciple, then we've got to live that kind of a life that He wants us to be and He never promised an easy life and I just don't read those kinds of advertisements about the kingdom of God that I paid you at the beginning an easy life and a particular church pastor. Well I think you get the point of how I feel about things. I really hope I could convey that to you. Thank you very much for coming today and I'll be here next week, Lord willing, we'll see you then.