Getting Fit for Heaven: Lose March 22, 2015

John 12:20-33 (34-36)

There have been times that I have thought about calling it quits. Yes, throwing in the towel has been considered. Giving up this preaching gig has been a consideration. You know, nobody responds to the altar call, so why preach? Nobody listens to the pastor, so why be a pastor? There is so much to do and sitting in the office just gets old, so why be a pastor?

Then I realize, I am going to have to lose something in my life. And what do I need to lose? I need to lose my selfish, whiny attitude! Who called me to preach? It was the great God of this universe who called me to preach. So it is more than a gig. How do I know people aren’t responding to my preaching? I don’t, but I can be faithful to God in delivering his word to churches I am appointed to lead. How does ministry get done? I don’t know, but I am not the only one involved in the ministry of the church. So, why be a pastor? I am a pastor because God called me to preach his word. I pastor because God sent his Son into this world and this world needs to hear about Jesus Christ. I pastor churches because God is doing a new thing in this world and he wants me to part of the new thing he is doing! I pastor because as a follower of Jesus I have been called by God to this service.

What about you, what do you have to lose so you can be a follower of Jesus? How is Jesus calling you to serve him?

A. Philip and Andrew had been called by Jesus to “Come and see” (John 1:35-46)
+++1. Now they hear some Greeks who want to see Jesus
+++2. So they tell Jesus about the Greeks
+++3. What a great opportunity for Philip and Andrew! They get to take people to see Jesus. When they tell Jesus about the Greeks, they don’t get the response they are expecting. Jesus recognizes what time it is.

B. Jesus knows he is going to die (John 12:23-26)
+++1. Jesus prepares his disciples for his coming death
+++2. Jesus has to die (the seed being buried) in order for the church to grow (the seed bearing fruit)
+++3. Curious saying: If we love our life, then we lose it; if we hate our life, then we keep it for eternal life
++++++a. If we love the life of sin has brought us, then we lose our life for the rest of time
++++++b. If we hate the the life that is offered us to in Jesus, then we keep the life we have that does not include Jesus
++++++c. We end up denying ourselves so that we may have life
++++++d. Catherine of Siena & John Wesley
+++++++++– Catherine recorded visions she had of God speaking to her (Keith Beasley-Topliffe, ed., A Life of Total Prayer, Selected Writings of Catherine of Siena, (Upper Room Books, Nashville, Tennessee; 2000), p. 36, 39, 55-59)
+++++++++– John Wesley lived & encouraged the Methodist people to live lives of self-denial & stewardship
++++++++++++*”Self-denial is, quite simply, ‘the denying or refusing to follow our own will, from a conviction that the will of God is the only rule of action to us.'” Wesley considered self-denial the “grand doctrine of Christianity.”(Kenneth J. Collins, A Faithful Witness, (Wesley Heritage Press, Wilmore, Kentucky; 1993) p. 171-172)
++++++++++++*Stewardship – all we possess is not our own, but “properly belongs to God.” (Collins, p. 172)
++++++++++++*Methodists practice self-denial & stewardship so that we may serve, “in order to be a suitable instrument which can be used by God to shower his blessings on humanity.” (Collins, p. 177)
+++4. So, we have to figure out how we serve Jesus
++++++a. Our society does not know how to serve anyone
++++++b. We think we “deserve” much from society
++++++c. “Deserve” means that we are worthy of merit
++++++d. “Deserve” used to mean (in Middle English) to devote oneself to, to serve
++++++e. It turns out that we can deserve Jesus, that is we can devote ourselves to Jesus, to serve only him
+++5. Jesus was going to die. And he knew it. If we are going to follow Jesus, then we are going to have to die. We die to our sins. We die to our attitudes. We die to our over-inflated egos. Since Jesus went to the cross, we go to the cross. Jesus says we must follow him. We can serve Jesus. For all that love that God has for us, we can serve Jesus. This is how the church grows, by serving Jesus. That is why Jesus came, so we could grow fruit.

C. Jesus came for this reason (John 12:27-28)
+++1. And Jesus’ Father will glorify his name by Jesus’ death
+++2. The crowd heard God through the thunder, or the angel’s voice (it depends how the hearers understood God’s voice)
+++3. So God is praised for Jesus’ death. Why? For by Jesus’ death, God is able to restore all people to himself. That is if we want to be restored to God. We know what Jesus desires for us.

D. Jesus will draw all people to himself (John 12:29-33)
+++1. The judgment is this – we choose if we follow Jesus
++++++a. Choose Jesus – we live
++++++b. Don’t choose Jesus – we don’t live
+++2. It is by Jesus’ death that we are drawn to him
+++3. God has good for us, if we choose to follow and serve Jesus. What love there is from God! He allowed his Son to die for us, so that we may have life. We get to choose to have life. This life is lived in the light. We can choose to get out of the darkness.

E. Will we become children of the light? (John 12:34-36)
+++1. There was confusion from the crowd around Jesus
+++2. There need not be confusion from us about Jesus, he is the Son of Man
+++3. The Son of Man, whom is the light, helps to keep us away from the darkness
+++4. We choose to follow Jesus
+++5. Believe in the light & become children of light
+++6. We deny ourselves, denying the darkness, so we can be children of light
+++7. Have you denied yourself during this season of Lent? This is an appropriate question as we figure out how to follow Jesus. For when we serve ourselves, then we remain in the darkness. When we deny ourselves, we are able to see where Jesus is leading us.

Getting fit for heaven means that we take a lose in our lives.

The main event of life is following Jesus Christ. It involves taking a loss. We lose somethings when we follow Jesus. And we are the better for this loss. For when we lose the darkness, we can live as children of the light. We only lose the darkness when we choose to follow and serve Jesus Christ.

For us to know how to follow and serve Jesus, let us try to deny our selves for the rest of this Lent. So you want lots of attention. How about giving someone who gets no attention your time. So you want people to adore you. How about we start adoring God. So we want to be satisfied. How about we start satisfying God. Let us lives of self-denial and stewardship, so that we may please God.

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