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How to Make it Through Successfully - Life of Christ Part 85

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2021 3:00 pm

How to Make it Through Successfully - Life of Christ Part 85

So What? / Lon Solomon

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May 17, 2021 3:00 pm

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Hi there, this is Lon Solomon and I'd like to welcome you to our program today. You know it's a tremendous honor that God has given us to be on stations all around the nation bringing the truth of God's word as it is uncompromising and straightforward. And I'm so glad you've tuned in to listen and be part of that.

Thanks again for your support and your generosity that keeps us on the radio. And now let's get to the Word of God. The title of the message that I want to share with you this morning from Matthew 23 is how to make it through this life successfully for Jesus Christ. Now here in Matthew 23, if you know the chapter, Jesus has been berating the religious leaders of Israel mercilessly for their stubbornness, their willfulness, their rebellion, their hypocrisy. And then in verse 37 at the end of the chapter, He completely changes tones to one of sympathy and of love. And here's what He says, verse 37, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you from God, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. You know, when you teach or when you speak publicly for a living, what you learn is that if you can make little word pictures and help people connect up with little word pictures, that it helps them learn. And that's why Jesus, of course, used so many stories when He taught. And here Jesus is using a gorgeous word picture about a chicken and her little chicks.

Now the problem is that it doesn't mean much to you and me. We don't get the word picture very well because most of us don't have chickens. But these people in Israel, they had chickens.

And the thing about chickens is when the little tiny chicks get scared or frightened in any way, they scamper to their mother who spreads her wings out like a big old canopy and draws them in under those wings and provides protection and provision and nurture and comfort for these little tiny chicks. And every single Jewish person in that day had seen chickens do that, and Jesus said, how often I wanted to do that very same thing for you. And notice He says, how often I wanted to do it. This is not just some passing whim, but this is the consistent desire of the heart of God. And one more thing about this, the word that's translated how often I longed to do this is a word that doesn't mean I wish I could or I hope I could, but it involves intent. It involves resolve and purpose. And Jesus is really saying here how often I resolved to do this. I intended to do this. It was my purpose to do this for you. And what really makes it amazing is that this was the ongoing consistent heart of God, even after these people had spurned Him and rejected Him and treated Him the way they treated Him. That's pretty impressive. Well, the verse isn't quite over.

So far, so good. But it says how often I longed to do this, Jesus said. Look at the end of the verse. But you were not willing. You were not willing. In other words, Jesus said, I wanted to, but you didn't want to.

It's the very same word, the exact same word translated willing and longed to. I wanted to. You didn't want to. Jesus is playing this word off against itself. I intended it to be this way, but you intended it wasn't going to be this way.

I purpose to do this for you, but you purpose that I wasn't going to do this for you. Jesus said, my heart's clear. The complication is that you guys vetoed the whole deal and the truth that this passage lays out for us.

Of course, there's many truths here. But the one I want to draw your attention to this morning is the fact that man's free will frustrated and violated what the heart of God wanted to do for those very people. Now, folks, you know, scholars have been arguing about the free will of man and the sovereignty of God ever since church began. They've never solved it. I'm not smart enough to solve it.

I'm not even going to attempt to solve it. I'm just simply going to leave it with you by saying that the Bible teaches God is absolutely sovereign and the Bible teaches that man has a free will and that they're both taught in the same Bible. The Bible never reconciles them, and I don't know how to reconcile them either, but they're both true. And for our purposes, what really matters here is the free will thing. They hear God created man in the image of God and God created man with a free will. God has committed himself to the fact he will not violate the free will of man. And even though God here had an expressed purpose to gather these people together like a hen gathers her chicks, thousands upon thousands of people frustrated the purpose of God by simply saying, no, I don't want to do that. The free will of man.

You know, our free will is so stubborn and it is so strong that it'll even resist the convincing power of Almighty God himself. I mean, I think of like Pharaoh. You think of Pharaoh, huh? You remember Moses and Pharaoh and all those plagues? After two of those things, I think I would have gone, OK, OK, what can we negotiate? What kind of deal can we negotiate here, Moses? I don't want any more of these things around.

But Pharaoh went six, seven, eight, nine, ten. I mean, can you imagine that? Unbelievable. Don't ever, ever underestimate the stubbornness of the free will of man.

And you know what? The very fact that hell exists is a testament to the free will of man, because the Bible says that God desires everybody to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. And if the only thing operating was what God wanted, there would be no hell.

Nobody would ever go there. But the fact that hell exists proves that there's a lot more operating than just what God wants. Man has a free will, and it breaks the heart of God to see this happen to people.

But it happens. You say, but Lon, to say that man has a free will and that man can say no to God, I mean, doesn't that compromise the power of God? Doesn't that mean that God really isn't all powerful?

No, friend, it doesn't mean that. Remember, we're not discussing here what God can do. We're discussing what God has decided to do. Can God violate the free will of man? Sure, if he wants to, but God has decided that he won't.

This is what the Bible teaches, friends, and we can never reconcile it in our mind that God is absolutely sovereign, and man has absolute free will, and how they work together, I don't know, but they're both there. And now I want to move from talking about what this passage teaches to talking about the really important question, and you know what that question is, don't you? What is it? So what?

Very good. Now, so what? Lon, what difference does this make to me, and what does this have to do with me making it through this life successfully?

I mean, what are you talking about? Listen, when I was a young Christian, brand new as a matter of fact, I was living down in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I was going to the University of North Carolina, and I was part of a fraternity. There was about 80 guys in this fraternity house, and most of the guys in the fraternity house were using drugs, and most of them, I was the guy who would turn them onto the drugs. In fact, I was the supplier for most of these guys, and so I made it my goal as a young Christian to try to, I wanted to share Christ with every single one of these fraternity brothers before I ever left town.

And so we were sitting up in the fraternity house, and there was about six or eight of us in a little circle smoking dope. Well, I was really serious, and I really meant it, and I was really sharing with them, and finally one of the guys in the circle started giggling and then started laughing, and I was just getting, I mean, I was just so irritated, because I'm trying to talk about something serious. So I said to him, what is wrong with you, man? I'm trying to talk to you about something serious, something eternal, and you're laughing at me.

What's wrong with you? And just like that, he stopped laughing and sat up, pointed his finger at me like this, and he said, you hypocrite. He said, you are such a hypocrite. He said, you're sitting here smoking dope, getting high. You were the one who provided the dope for us this afternoon, and now you're telling us about sin and righteousness and heaven and Jesus and God.

What a hypocrite you are. He said, man, we don't want to hear that nonsense. Well what do you say?

I mean, there's nothing to say he was right. I mean, I just got up and walked out of the room, went for a long walk, and I said, you know, God, I said, I really want my life to count for you, God, and I think I just had a great example why if I keep smoking dope, that might not happen as much as I'd like to see it happen. So God, I'm willing to stop, though, and I've been saying for years, God, I can stop whenever I want, stop whenever I feel like it, but I said, you know, God, if you and I are really honest, I've got to tell you the truth, I'm not sure that's really true. But if you, I promise you today, I said to God, if you will give me the power to stop using dope, I will stop as of today. And I've never touched any dope since.

But here's my point. The power of God was there, and it became active in my life, but would you notice it took a free will decision on my part to activate it? I had to decide I wanted to go in the direction of God, I had to decide I wanted to obey God, I had to come to God and say, God, I want to do it the way you want it done, and that activated the power of God in my life, and I've never touched dope since. But friends, this is the pattern of the Bible, is that we make free will decisions first that we want to go in God's direction, and then God, if we're Christians, by the power of the Spirit of God that lives within us, then the enabling power is made available to us. But, you know, it doesn't happen the other way around. God didn't appear to me one night while I was sleeping in some vision and go, hey, Lon, stop dope. I mean, it didn't happen that way.

I had to decide I wanted to obey God, and then God gave me the power to do it. That's the pattern of the Bible. And friends, when Paul at the end of his life said, I have fought the fight, I've finished the grace, I've kept the faith, the reason he was able to say that is not because his God was any more faithful to him than your God is to you or than Sandy Patty's God was to her.

That's not the issue. The issue was that Paul, every day of his life, had made free will decisions to go in God's direction, and God had backed those up with his power, and people who end up in the ditch make free will decisions to go in other directions. Hey, you know, God takes the responsibility for what he does in the world, but let's not hold him responsible for stuff that he didn't do. We end up in the ditch and then we say, well, God didn't back me up. God didn't give me what I knew.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. God backs up and his power is activated every time we make a free will decision to obey God, but when we make free will decisions, we're going to go another way. It's not God's fault we end up in the ditch. We have to come to grips with what the real enemy is. The real enemy is not the devil. The real enemy is not that God's going to let us down. The real enemy is your free will and my free will, which, by the way, once you become a Christian is just as alive and nasty as it was before you became a Christian. Nothing happens to you.

It doesn't go away. It's just as rebellious and sinful as before you started being a Christian, and if we're going to end up where Paul did, we've got to deal with it. Let me say, if you're here this morning and you've never trusted Christ in a real and personal way as your savior, then your free will is the issue too. Jesus said, behold, I stand at the door of your heart and knock, and if you hear my voice, listen, and if you go to the door and open it up and invite me in, Jesus said, I'll come in.

I'll change your life. But did you notice he said you've got to be the one by your own free will who goes to the door, opens it up, and invites him in? Jesus does not practice forcible entry. Jesus does not bust down people's doors and say, here I am, whether you like it or not.

Uh-uh. It doesn't happen that way. And the only reason Jesus Christ is in my life today as a Christian is because I invited him in of my own free will. If I hadn't, he wouldn't be here. And if you're waiting as someone who hasn't done that yet for God to somehow push you over the edge to the point that you won't have any choice, it's not going to happen, friend. At some point, you're going to have to make a free will decision that you need Christ and you want Christ and you're asking Christ in.

And I hope you'll do that. It's not going to happen any other way. But for those of us who are Christians, we still got a free will to deal with, huh? Godly living just doesn't happen automatically. We've got to make up our mind and decide we're going to obey God every day and every minute of every day. If you and I make free will decisions to move in the direction of Jesus Christ, I'm telling you we can end up where Paul ended up. But that's where the rub is. And this is where the battle's fought.

The battle is fought on the level of your free will decisions in mind. As many of you know, I have a sick little girl and she's three years old now and she's been very ill, almost died a couple of times when she was one. And it's just been a constant, constant struggle. I got to tell you the honest truth. I have never lived three more difficult years in the last three years of my life.

They've been the hardest three years of my life. And I used to read in the paper about how these guys would go off, you know, to go down to the store and get a carton of milk and they'd never see them again. And I would read about this and I'd say, what people could do this to their family? What people could act like this? How could you just be so callous that you walk away like that?

I got to tell you something, friends. I understand now how people do that. I understand how you get so beaten down and you get so exhausted and you get so hopeless that you just want to run. I understand that now, but I have to make a free will decision. And you know what, after I make that free will decision, three years later, I'm still standing here. God's gotten me through. God's been faithful. Yeah, it's been hard, but I'm still here.

So does my wife. What I'm trying to tell you guys is God will give you what you need to make it. But it starts, it's activated by free will decisions you and I make that we want to go in the direction God's asking us to go. They say, well, Lon, how am I going to do this? I mean, help me. How am I going to give me some advice?

Well, I'm going to give you three quick suggestions about how to do this and how to do it well. Number one, ask God for help with your will. Listen to what King Solomon prayed. He prayed, may the Lord be with us and may he incline our hearts to him so that we want to walk in his ways and we want to keep his commandments. Now that's a great prayer. That's a great prayer because as the song says, prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. This is where my will wants to go. You put God at any one spot on the compass and I'll tell you where my will wants to go.

It wants to go 180 degrees another direction. Are you honest enough that you're willing to admit that about yourself? I am. I need help with my will. And that's what the prayer said. It says, Lord, incline our hearts to you so that we want to walk in your ways and we want to keep your commandments. Help me with this thing called my will. That's why the songwriter goes on to say, here's my heart, take and seal it, God.

Seal it for your courts above friends. I think anybody who understands the willfulness of their own will ought to be on their knees saying, God, incline my heart to you. Help me bring this uncontrolled animal under control so that I'll make the kind of decisions to go in the direction I need to go.

We need supernatural help. That's where we got to start with this. Step number two, consider the consequences of every decision you make. I mean, I love what the book of Proverbs says. It says Proverbs 22 verse three, a wise person sees danger coming and gets out the way. A fool just keeps on going and suffers for it.

We need to be wise people enough to sit back and consider the consequences of decisions before we make them. I was in New York City a couple of years ago at a meeting of a Christian organization and one of the guys that was on the board of this organization came up to me and said, hey, when we have lunch, could we go out after lunch before we reconvene? Could we go for a little walk? I said, well, sure. So we go out for this walk and he says to me, he's about 50 years old, he says, you know, he says, I need your advice.

I said, okay. He said, I'm in this little drama troupe back home where I live and with this little community theater and I've been in it now for a while and there was this lady that was in it and we got a couple of parts and we were kind of, you know, leading man, leading lady type deal and over a period of time we've become friends and now we're kind of a little more than friends and, you know, things have gotten a little out of control and I need some help. What do you advise me? He said, I really love this woman. I really don't love my wife anymore.

I really love this woman. What do you think I should do? I said, hey, what you need to do, you need to count the cost of what you're considering, pal. It's going to cost you your wife. It's going to cost you your children. It's going to cost you your business where you're an outspoken Christian, the owner of a major industry. What do you think all these people are going to think that's worked for you for years and heard your Christian testimony when you do this, man, they're going to blow you off and say, oh, that guy, everything the guy said wasn't real.

You know, you've got a reputation around the world as a Christian leader. You're on the board of this organization. You don't think they're going to let you stay on this organization, do you? I'm not going to let you stay on the board of this organization. You do this. I said, man, have you thought about what this is going to cost you?

You need to tell this woman she is out of your life and you need to go back and deal with your wife and I'll help you if you want, but you got to think what this is going to cost you. You know what he did? He ran off with the woman anyway, but you know what?

Every single thing that we talked about was going to happen, happened. He lost his wife. His kids disowned him. He ruined his testimony.

They threw him off the board of this organization. I mean, everything I told him was going to happen did, and so many times we go rushing headlong into decisions when, friends, if we only would stop to count the cost, it would help us not to do some stupid things. Third and last, we need not only to ask God for some supernatural help with our will and second to really think through the consequences before we do whatever it is we're thinking about, but third and finally, we need to get some Joabs in our life. You go, what? All right, I want you to turn back in the Old Testament real quick now to 1 Chronicles 21.

And while you're turning, let me tell you the story. David's the king. David was told by God, you are not allowed to carry out a census of the people of Israel. You say, why, Lon? Well, there's a reason, but I don't have time to tell you about it right now. Just trust me.

Okay. So David decides he's going to do it anyway, and here's what happens. 1 Chronicles 21, verse 3, it says, and Joab, you say, Lon, who's Joab? Joab was his chief general, the chairman of the joint chiefs.

Okay, that's the Joab. Joab came to David and said, Lord, he said, may the Lord multiply your troops a hundred times over. My Lord, the king, are they not all yours? I mean, what do you want to count these people for, David? They're all yours anyway.

What difference does it make how many of them you got? Look what he says, verse 3. He says, why does my Lord want to do this?

Why should he bring guilt on Israel? You know what Joab was trying to say to David? He was trying to say respectfully, hey, David, this is a terrible idea. Why are you doing this, David? They're all yours anyway. Forget about your pride.

Forget about your ego and obey God. Don't do this, David. Well, if you read the rest of the story, you realize David went ahead and did it, and the consequences were awful. Thousands upon thousands of Israelites died at the plague that God sent on the land to punish David.

But the point is, Joab was there loving David enough, caring about David enough, that he was willing to go to him and say to David, David, this is a terrible decision. You're going to end up in the ditch if you do this. Now, friend, what I want to know is, have you given anybody in your life the freedom to be able to come up to you and say, hey, you're making a bad decision. You're headed right for the ditch. And I'll tell you why we all need those people, because Jeremiah 17 says that the heart is deceitful above all things your heart is, my heart is, and you know what I've learned over the years, friends, that if I want to do something bad enough, I can somehow rationalize and explain my way into believing that it's right.

It's right. I've made some of the worst decisions in my life being absolutely sure I was right. That's how deceitful my heart is. I can trick myself into doing stupid stuff, and you can too. And we all need people around us who are able to stand back a little bit and survey the situation and say, hey, Lon, whoa, wait a minute, buddy, time out. This is a dumb move.

And I love you so much and I care about you so much. Lon, I'm just going to tell you, this is a disaster. You do this, man.

You're going to be in the ditch. Now, have you got people like that in your life? Now, wives are great at this. In fact, I'm convinced this is their spiritual gift.

They all come with this. The problem is, guys, we don't ever listen to them. And maybe that's because with the intimacy of a marriage relationship, it's very difficult for a wife to be a Joab for her husband. Guys, we need some guys around us who have been given permission to talk to us like that. And ladies, you need some ladies around you who you have given permission and invited into your life to talk to you like that. Howard Hendricks, who did a study down at Dallas Seminary of all these preachers who had fallen into sin, said the one thing he found that was constant in every one of these guys' lives is that before they did whatever put them in the ditch, they first became very isolated and nobody could talk to them.

You need Joabs. I've invited some guys into my life who I've said, you have the freedom. I want you to tell me if you see I'm about to make stupid decisions. You need somebody like that in your life. The Christian life, friends, is not an easy deal. It takes an incredible level of commitment and dedication if you and I are going to end up where the Apostle Paul did at the end of our life. But is it possible?

Yes. And does God save for the people who are willing to show that kind of dedication of will that I'm going to see to it they make it? That's exactly what God says. God's your ally. And all he needs from you and me is the dedication and the commitment of our will to say, God, we're going where you're going.

That's all he needs. I would love to see every one of you here be able to say at the end of your life, laying on a deathbed, headed down in an airplane, wherever you go, you go, come on, that's morbid. What is wrong with you, man? Well, that's the way I want to go is in an airplane. But anyway, I want you to be able to say, whenever it is, God, I kept the faith.

Yeah, I wasn't perfect and I had a few blips, but I didn't end up in a ditch and I didn't dishonor your name, God. And you can, if you're willing to let your free will follow the three steps I gave you. Ask for God's supernatural help in directing it. Number two, think before you act.

And number three, get some friends around you, some JOABs who will help you not trick yourself into making dumb decisions. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, thank you for reminding us today of what it means to finish our life successfully, to be able to say we ran the race, we finished it, we kept the faith, we didn't put the car in the ditch.

And Lord, we know you forgive people who put the car in the ditch, but it's never the same again. And Lord, I want to pray that you would help us to be the kind of people who make good decisions and who take our free will and make our free will responsible for making the decisions that will enable us to end up where Paul ended up. Help us be responsible. And God, work in our hearts such that we will make the kind of decisions that will activate the power of God in our life so that we'll end up where Paul ended up.

Lord, this is what we want. We pray you would do it in each one of our hearts, in Jesus' name. You've been listening to So What with Dr. Lon Solomon. So What is an outreach of Lon Solomon Ministries. To listen to today's message or for more information, visit our website, lonsolomonministries.org. Thank you for your support. If you would like to contact us, please visit our website or call us at 866-788-7770. We hope you will join us next time when Lon seeks to answer one of life's most important questions, So What.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-11 07:26:34 / 2023-06-11 07:38:14 / 12

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