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How Not to Follow Jesus, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
April 26, 2021 7:05 am

How Not to Follow Jesus, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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April 26, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Kingdom: A Study of Matthew 8–13

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Adversity is a test that separates those who merely admire Christ from those who follow Him. You see, following Jesus is fun until it's not. Sure, we love the comfort Jesus brings, but Christians are caught off guard when terror strikes. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Squindoll is teaching from Matthew chapter 8.

In this passage, we see the twelve disciples traumatized by a storm that rolled in, their abject fear exposed to lack of faith. The calming command of Jesus revealed the difference between those who were fans of Jesus and those who truly follow Him. Thank you, our Father, for reminders as we work our way through this great record of our Savior's words and works of power, incredible supernatural power, to touch a life and to have a disease removed and a fever lifted, a heart transformed, demons cast out just by words spoken from the One who is the God-man. We bow before you, our Father, as we would worship no other.

You alone have the words of eternal life. And we bow with deep gratitude for your grace, your mercy, your concern for us. I pray for those who come today troubled, feeling displaced, distant, removed from anything significant. I pray that you will do a work in that life today. May we hear truth that touches us where we live, and may it make a difference, a transforming difference, our Father. Thank you for those who come today without your son at work in their hearts.

Gently, but with great power, guide them to a relationship with you through Jesus, we pray. Thank you now, Father, for the privilege of giving, and we do so with great delight. Everything we have, you own it all. We would not even have that pulse beat deep in our heart were you not granting us life, or breath in our lungs, or the ability to think, to plan, to make decisions. How grateful we are for your mighty power at work. Now, Lord, these gifts are yours, and we give them with great delight and with generosity. In the name of your Son, Jesus, who has set us free, we pray these things. Everyone sin. Amen.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled How Not to Follow Jesus. When you follow Jesus, be ready to deny yourself. You're not going your way, you're going his way.

That's hard for many people. By the way, with every calling, there is a divine urgency. Rarely does Jesus say to us when he's calling us to do something, just wait.

When he wants us to move in an area and to do what's right, it is often with the word now. Deal with this now. Follow me now. So here's my request as you add this to the list on how not to follow Jesus. Do not follow Jesus with reservations. Don't have your own agenda. Make sure when you say yes to him and you want to be numbered among those dedicated followers, dedicated disciples, that you've laid aside your own agenda.

That's hard to do. And finally, they're able to get to the boat and get on the sea. Verses 23 through 27 are somewhat familiar to us. I will tell you when I read suddenly a fierce storm, verse 24. By the way, the Greek is seismos megas. Seismos. We get our word seismograph from it. It's a word for earthquake.

Mega means just what it does in our language. It was a sizable, like an earthquake that hit that body of water. I've been on a fishing boat where a squall comes in the Bay Area where we were, this little South Texas bay opening up into Matagorda Bay. And a squall can come on you really quickly.

And I remember my dad, as he would have that little 50 horsepower admin route turned all the way up to get us back to the cottage before the storm took us. And one time the waves washed over the back of the boat a little. And I mean, I was bailing like crazy to keep the water out. That's just a little storm. I've been on a troop ship where it's 50, 60 foot waves and swells.

And a ship that looks huge and holds 3,500 military personnel at the pier in San Diego when it's at sea looks like a little broken toothpick. And the storm that rose, the bow of the ship drove into the wave and it swamped over. No one was allowed up on the deck, which was good. We were all busy vomiting down below since everybody was seasick.

It was dreadful. Four days that storm lasted. The boat creaked, it bopped, it growled and we didn't even get up there much beyond a peak to see the storm. Skipper said to us later as he got us all together that except for the North Sea, he had never been in a sea like that. This is a seasoned skipper, naval skipper.

I learned one thing from that statement. I never want to be in the North Atlantic. This is some kind of storm. And it's at night, which makes it even worse. What is it about the night that adds to the fear and wouldn't you know it? Look at this little statement. Jesus was sleeping. Well, when you have made the sea and made the winds and made the waves and made the skies and made the hills, none of that stuff bothers you.

So you sleep through it. And they walk up to him and you know what they do? Lord, save!

That's exactly what the text reads. Lord, save! Well, that'll wake you up.

And then they went further. Nothing wrong with that statement. But the next statement, we're going to drown! Hold it. Last time I checked, he's God. God doesn't drown. You're with God. Let's think about it. He said, why are you afraid, little faiths?

He turns it into a name, little faiths, with a hyphen. What was it that concerned him? Not their normal human fear. Like I say, that would happen to any of us. But the panic of going too far.

The excessive fear that fears the worse. You're at the dock. The dock gives a report and frowns a little, and you jump immediately. Terminal!

You number your days. Wait. Hold it.

But back to the boat. Look at that. Then he got up. You know what that tells me? He said all of that while he was still laying down. Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the waves. Get this. Stop.

Isn't that great? No more wind, no more waves. In fact, only the boat is rocking on a slick. How eerie is that? Not a wave, a ripple. A gust of wind. Silent as right now.

If you fished enough, you know what a slick is like. It's where everything has stopped. There is no movement. There isn't even a swell. It's absolutely mirror-like.

You could take a penny and flip the penny on it, and it would make its ringlets in the slick. That's what this was. Twelve men look at him. This is eerie, man. No. Not if you understand the sovereignty of God.

Not if you have a trust in God and God alone as you have in no other, knowing that he will never let anything get out of his control. In fact, look at the way it reads. Suddenly there was a mega calm. There was a seismos megas. Now there's a mega calm. From one extreme to the other. The disciples, amazed.

Who is this man even the winds and waves obey him? I've said this before and I'll say it now with respect. We tend to give the disciples a little too much credit. We tend to think they really do look like they look in an Episcopal Church, you know, where the statues are. They really, they really weren't. They weren't all in white robes, walking around with little halos or bigger halos, keeping their mouths shut. They were just guys. Just like a bunch of guys like us in the back of a pickup.

They just guys. They had never read Matthew 8 before, so they didn't know what was coming. So let me say, if you're gonna follow Jesus, do not follow him if you're going to doubt his sovereignty when the situation becomes impossible. Don't follow him if an impossibility turns you away.

That's what concerns him, your little face. I'm here. I'm here. I am the eternal life preserver. I give life. I made these things. The winds answer to me.

So does every disease. That thing you name is not out of his control. So I've saved a little bit of time to ask you, where are you among the followers? I had one man say to me after the first service, I qualify for all four. Thought that was a very honest answer. Where do you qualify?

Let's go back and do a quick review. We watched from a distance as Jesus saw the crowd, and then he looked for a way to get away from him. He discerned most of them were just part of a crowd. You following Jesus because others do? You become a fan, a groupie? Wrong reason. You'll never grow as a groupie.

You must take it personally. You're there whether anybody else is there or not. There's a second we saw, a scribe, remember?

The scribe who was full of spiritually sounding words. I'll follow you wherever you go. Cynthia and I knew a young man who kept saying to us, I really want to spend time with you two. I really want to be around your family. I really, I just want to be a servant. I just want to be a servant. I just want to be a servant. He said over and over, and I thought, well, we got four little kids.

They all wear diapers. Let's start there. And he wasn't too thrilled with that. I taught him how to change diapers and throwing out the trash. Well, he'd like to be a servant, but he didn't want to be a dry servant. And then there were boxes to put together so that we could make our move. We were moving from one pastor to another, and he had ways to pack up his way and not the way we preferred. And so he didn't want to be a box packer like we wanted him to be. He didn't want to be a servant. He wanted to talk about being a servant. It's easy to say it, but then when you really have to get down and dirty and you have to serve, it's another thing entirely. And this guy didn't want to do that. He's full of himself. Right sounding words, but proud.

Then there's a third we saw in a guy that said, I need to take care of things back home. Jesus is concerned he wanted financial security before he wanted to be stretched spiritually. Are you following with reservations?

I can't answer for you. It's easy to fall into that trap, especially when you realize that those who are true followers of Jesus don't keep their eyes focused on their bank account, don't have a lot of security. I love the story of the missionaries, the couple, and they're on their way back, and they've been serving the Lord faithfully about 30-35 years, and they're on the boat as it pulls up at the harbor at New York, and there's a particular politician on that same boat. There's a brass band to meet the politician, and there are people lined up. There's a parade put together and flags and all kinds of signs welcoming him as he prances off the boat, off the ship, and then there's a couple standing arm-in-arm with hardly a place to call home back here in the States, and husband says to his wife, it just doesn't seem fair. We've done all this for the Lord Jesus, and he's a politician, he comes back, we only met everybody here to welcome us home.

She said to him, well we're not home yet. When you really follow the Lord Jesus, you realize you're living in rented quarters. You have a citizenship that is eternal in the heavens. You're to be a good citizen, you're to be responsible, I know that, but down deep inside, you're not home.

Your treasure isn't here, it's there. And this third individual, this third situation, seems to illustrate one who had gotten that mixed up. And the one in the boat, now that'll haunt you, he discerned their panic and their inability to trust him in this impossible, humanly impossible situation.

Did dangerous situations cause you to doubt? Jesus is looking for hardcore recruits who really mean business. Easy to say in a place like this, but I must say it, it's all the way through the Gospels. You're the gospel message some people will read. I read this past week the words of Mahatma Gandhi who said, quote, I like your Christ, I don't like your Christians, your Christians are so unlike your Christ. Think about that.

Would a person have to look for a revised edition if you watched you for a while to learn what the Christian life is about? Let me tell you something folks, the screws are tightening. We're seeing it in our generation. I've never known a more treacherous time and I'm not exaggerating.

I'm not given to hyperbole. I've never known a time in my lifetime when Christians were lined up and killed because they're Christians. We had a guest with us with our old staff meeting last month and his name is Charlie Costa, ministers in Beirut, one of our church missionaries, and one of our staff asked a very good question. Talk about persecution. Do you see it coming? Charlie who lives with it has bullet holes in his study because of their hatred for him, where he works and serves faithfully.

He said with a bit of a smile, oh we've seen nothing yet. I think Charlie's right. I think the day will come and we'll need to be numbered among those who are true followers of Jesus and have to pay the price. I don't know when and I don't know how severe. Maybe in my lifetime it may come after I've gone.

Who'd be in your lifetime? I came across this true story. Everyone was so excited to begin. They were especially looking forward to the reading of a new section of the Gospel of Luke that had just been received from a secret home church in another city of this country.

Since Bibles are so scarce there, the home churches take them apart, tear out pages, and exchange pages with each other so they can know what the Bible is saying. It had taken all day for the local body of Christians finally to assemble together. They had come to a secret place at different intervals in groups of two or at the most three so as not to attract attention of the ever-present informers. Just as they were about to sing with subdued volume their first hymn of praise, boom the door burst open and in came armed soldiers with automatic weapons at the ready. They rushed in, they ordered everyone line up, put your hands against the wall. Anyone who will renounce faith in Jesus may leave now. The rest of you remain with your hands up shouted one of the soldiers. Two left, then four, and a few more. Soldiers said again in an even more threatening voice, this is your last chance to renounce your faith in Jesus or face the consequences.

The parents with children looked down reassuringly at their little faces, frightened, but no one else left. One of the soldiers walked over, slammed the door shut, locked it, and then they put their weapons down and said keep your hands up but in praise to the Lord Jesus. Brothers and sisters, as the believers looked at them in total astonishment, the soldiers continued, we have become believers through contact with other believers from a home church like yours. We were sent there to arrest them and instead we became convinced and converted through their faith but through our previous experience we learned that no one can be trusted unless he's willing to die for his faith. A true incident reported by the underground church in that country.

Where will you be in that gathering? I've asked myself that through the last several days. I went to one of the walls in my study and I put my hands on the wall and I tried to imagine that. I didn't want to believe that I would leave but in weak moments and thinking about my family and what would happen because they'd hunt them down. What would you do?

What would I do? I don't need words. The Lord's not looking for words. He's looking for the truth from the heart. He's discerning, remember. Look at yourself. Think.

Let cross mean everything to you. That's Savior. I'm convinced someday we'll see the day in the United States of America where there will be this kind of persecution.

I think it isn't that far away. Should the Lord not intervene in ways that right now we cannot predict and he's able to do that. That's why we sleep at night confident that he's still sovereign. Let's bow our heads together. Lost in our thoughts, let's just sit for a moment in the darkness of your closed eyelids.

Think. Am I a soldier of the cross? A follower of the Lamb?

But I fear to own his cause or blush to speak his name. Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fought to win the prize and sail through bloody seas? Searching moments for all of us, our Father.

Suddenly print on a page has come to life. We've seen ourselves in the sandals of these people and we find ourselves unable to criticize one of them. We've been there and for some hearing these words, we are there. I pray that you will not stop the turbulence but I pray that you will remind us of your presence in the midst of the turbulence. And you'll help us know how to find that sense of calm that only you can bring when all hell has broken loose and danger is at every corner. Deliver us I pray our Father, finally I pray from mere words, help us to say less and mean more. May our lives speak without our lips needing to move. Begin with me Lord.

Start here. In the name of Jesus, our Master, our Lord. Everyone said, Amen. Chuck Swindoll started today's message with this reality check. He warned us that when we choose to follow Jesus, we must be ready to deny ourselves. This truth is demonstrated in Matthew chapter 8. You're listening to Insight for Living and to learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at insightworld.org. Insight for Living Ministries has created a number of resources designed to guide your journey with God, even when the storms sweep into your life and catch you off guard. And as we reflect on this rather heavy topic, let me point you to a couple of resources that will help you take your next steps of faith. First, each sermon presented on this program is accompanied by an online interactive guide called Searching the Scriptures. In about 15 minutes, you can read through the key ideas of Chuck's message and the biblical text.

Should you want to dig deeper, there are plenty of questions to answer and you can readily learn more about the historical context behind each passage, study the theological underpinnings, and explore its relevance to your life today. To access these free online study notes, just follow the steps at insight.org slash studies. And second, in our bank of resources, you'll also see Chuck has written a complete study Bible. Side by side with Scripture, you'll find the best of Chuck's pastoral insight, representing decades of personal study.

Reading each part of this study Bible is like hearing Chuck speak God's Word, just as you've come to enjoy on this program. And you can purchase the Swindoll Study Bible by calling us. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888.

Or it might be quicker and more convenient to make your purchase online, where you can also view pictures of this hardcover volume. Look for the Swindoll Study Bible at insight.org slash store. And in the event you want to give a donation to support the ministry of Insight for Living, here's the number to call. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. Or support us online by going to insight.org. I'm Dave Spiker, inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll describes the dramatic moment when Jesus dealt with demons.

That's Tuesday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, How Not to Follow Jesus, was copyrighted in 2015 and 2021. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-25 17:50:06 / 2023-11-25 17:58:55 / 9

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