This is a very important for me. It is not everyone that gets to be a part of a legacy. I am, I am part of a legacy of preachers in my family that goes back to the Civil War with Pastor John Givens, the grandfather of Etta Mae Givens, who would grow up and get married to Raymond Peters, and get saved at a tent meeting in Granby, Missouri in 1933.
My grandmother was called to the pulpit in the 1930’s and was one of the early preachers at the church in San Diego where I have been a teaching pastor and my uncle has been the pastor for over 40 years. Like Luke Skywalker in star wars, the force is strong in my family. And that force is the force that created the universe and everything in it including you and me.
This morning, as a part of that legacy, I am using the verses that my Grandmother, Etta Mae Peters used in a message that she shared during a camp meeting in 1990. She was in her 80’s at that time and she could still cut it loose. Grandma talked then about being willing and obedient as Christians, and that is what we are going to talk about today.
To be willing and obedient towards God is an Old Testament and New Testament concern as we see in Isaiah 1:19-20 If you are willing and obedient , You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Turn with me to Revelations chapter 3 verses 14 through 22..."And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say,'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'"
All that God has ever wanted for those He created in His own image was for us to be willing and obedient.
Genesis 2:15-17...15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
Genesis 6:7-8...7 So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Matthew 4:18-24...18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said,"and I will make you fishers of men."20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Willing and obedient… there are numerous examples throughout the Bible, so it is impossible for anyone to claim that they did not understand what it was that God wanted then, or what it is that God wants now from those who believe in Him.
In Revelation, the church at Laodicea was neither willing nor obedient, in fact, they were nothing, Jesus while commending the other churches, had nothing but condemnation for this church.
Today, there are many churches like this, I call them go along to get along churches. They don’t want to offend anyone; they want to belong in the hood…
They don’t take stands against the things in society that run against the word of God. How can people say in one sentence that they are Christians and believe in God, and then in the next sentence proclaim their support for women’s reproductive rights, AKA…abortion or that they are not opposed to “Gay” marriage because this is a civil rights issue. What we see is nothing but rationalizations. Man has been rationalizing his disobedience to God since Adam took the bite then blamed the whole thing on God for giving him the woman.
God never intended for us to go along just to get along. As Christians, we are commanded to be salt and light. But as we read about the church at Laodicea, we find that they have no flavor and no light. How many churches today are just like that? How many Christians are just like that?
Grandma Peters said back in 1990, “God wants a church that is an over-comer, we need to go forward”.
So, how do we go forward? How do we become willing and obedient? The first thing we must do is to put God first. How many of us, myself included give God our first fruits, in our alone time with Him, studying His word, sharing Him with others? I will be the first to say that I have not and do not put God first as much as I should.
How can we find the time and strength to put God first? Look at 1 John 5:3-5...For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Whatever is born of God overcomes the world and that victory is our faith. But many Christians are using 22-calibur faith instead of 44-magnum faith. We have the promise right here that ours will be the victory through faith. So, unless you are dreaming big, and I mean dreaming of changing the world for our Lord Jesus, then you are not dreaming hard enough or big enough.
But all we hear about is how hard things are, how tough times are, the world is against Christians…………………..well, DUH!
John 15: 18 If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you
We know that much of the liberal side of belief in this nation believes that to share about Jesus or speak of the truths of the Bible is considered hate speech.
But what religion is it that hates Homosexuality? Remember, as Christians we are to hate the sin but love the sinner. It is Islam that is troublesome for Homosexuals. While I may some day be guilty of a federal crime for reading about God’s hatred of homosexuality, it is Islam that wants to kill homosexual people. The Islamic Imam’s preach it right here in the good old USA. But in spite of what the world feels towards God and us, we are never the less commanded to be willing and obedient. Besides following God’s laws, we are also to be out there sharing the Gospel.
Matthew 28:18-20...18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. NKJV
We make a big mistake as a church if we believe the world is to come to us. This is not a field of dreams type of religion. If you recall the movie, the catch phrase was “If you build it they will come”. But Jesus says “We are to go and share it so they can believe”.
We make a big mistake if we think we can convert the world just by staying here and being good. We are called by Jesus Christ to go out from this place into the world and make disciples of all the nations. That is the central task of the Christian church. WHY!!! Because God does not want to see even one soul lost to sin… That is the great purpose for which the church is in existence today. And that is what we are to be doing. It is the standing orders of the gospel. We are to go and make disciples. We are to be a disciple-making church. We are to be disciple-making Christians. That is what we are to do.
But that’s too hard, I don’t have time, there are other important things I need to do, excuses and rationalizations.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Christ can give us strength to face the world, He can give us strength to deal with tough situations, He can give us strength to get through a tough day, and He can give us strength to battle Satan.
Once again, back in1990 at that camp meeting, Grandma Peters said
“Satan should never catch (Christians) by surprise”. Why? Because if we are studied in God’s Word, we should know how Satan attacks, because his game plan has been the same from the start in the Garden of Eden. But Bill, how can I fight back? YOU can’t…Christ can. We need to be saying Satan; you can’t do that in the name of Jesus. Only Jesus has the power to deal with and defeat Satan.
In order to defend what we believe and what it is that we as Christians are supposed to believe? Answers in Genesis’ founder Ken Ham puts it this way in what he calls the seven C’s of history. We need to believe in and be able to defend Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation.
But to do that, YOU need to; you must be willing and obedient.
I’ll close with this poem by Welsh poet Ethelwyn Wetherald:
It is called “My Orders Are To Fight”
My orders are to fight;
Then if I bleed, or fail,
Or strongly win, what matters it?
God only doth prevail.
The servant craveth naught
Except to serve with might.
I was not told to win or lose,
My orders are to fight.
Are you willing and obedient to the call of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Remember, we are not called to win, our orders are to fight, and through that will come the victory through Jesus.