Well, I have something here. I don't know if you have these yet, but these are my Elvis stamps. Yeah, I went out and bought them. And have you bought your Elvis stamps yet?
No? Look, these things might be worth something one day. They only printed 300 million of them.
So you really need to rush out and get some because they might actually be worth something. You know, I'm old enough to remember when Elvis Presley first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. And I can still remember as a young child watching that on television, and they blacked out the bottom half of the screen, those of you who are old enough to remember that, so that you couldn't see him moving his hips in the way that he moved them.
And I'm not going to demonstrate, partially because at my age, I'd probably be in bed for a week if I did that. But really, they blocked out the bottom half of the screen so you couldn't see him. Boy, it looks so tame now looking back compared to what goes on today. But it was scandalous at the time. You know, I consider Elvis Presley to be one of the great American tragedy stories, don't you?
Really, think about it now. He was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. He then moved as a kid to live in Memphis.
And he was a church-going kid whose first musical training came through gospel music in the church. He was basically a nice kid. He was respectful to adults. He said, yes, sir, and yes, ma'am.
He was shy offstage. He was generous. He was kind.
When he was drafted, he went and served his time in the army and served his country. And he hit it big when he allowed a fellow named Colonel Tom Parker to become his promoter in 1955. And in the next few years, Elvis had a dozen number one hits and made 32 movies and became the king, as he's known, of rock and roll. And indeed he was. But you know, as the king, Elvis was suddenly able to get anything he wanted whenever and however he wanted it.
And he lost all sense of control, all sense of balance in his life. I mean, whenever he wanted sex, he could get it. Whenever he wanted food, he could get it. Whenever he wanted material possessions, no matter what they were, he could get them. Whenever he wanted alcohol, he could get it. Whatever prescription drugs he wanted, he could get them. He could get anything he wanted whenever and however he wanted it because he was the king. And the way I see it, Elvis Presley didn't really die in 1977 at the age of 42. Elvis self-destructed at the age of 42.
And the direct cause of that self-destruction was Elvis getting to the place where he could get anything he wanted whenever and however he wanted it. Many of you have probably taken your children to see Aladdin. What a great little movie.
And you remember, you know how the story goes. You rub the lamp and whoever owns the lamp and rubs the lamp, the genie comes out and genie has to do whatever you say for it. And there are so many Christians who are convinced that God is like Aladdin's genie, where we rub the lamp in prayer and ask for whatever we want, whenever we want it, however we want it and God, because he's God and he loves us, he's got to do it. But you know, God is not a genie. God has no intention of being your genie.
As a matter of fact, God loves you too much to be your genie because you see my dear friends, when a person becomes a Christian, their whole relationship with Jesus Christ changes. The whole relationship to God undergoes a radical transformation. Before you're a Christian, God is your creator and that's it. But after you become a Christian, God becomes your heavenly father.
And if you're here this morning and you don't know what it really means to go through that change, to have God become not an impersonal creator, but a personal heavenly father, then you're not getting everything out of God that he wants to give you because God wants that unique and special relationship with you through faith in Jesus Christ. But when God becomes our heavenly father, as he does when we're Christians, God as our father does not give us whatever we want, whenever and however we want it. Because you see, God knows if he did, if he gave you everything you wanted, whenever you want it and however you want it, even as a Christian, most of us would self-destruct just like Elvis did.
And folks, God loves you too much to see you become like Elvis. Now we all get mad at God because he won't do this at some time in our lives. But we don't understand it's that God loves us too much to give us everything we want when we want it. Instead of doing things our way in our time, God does what's best for us, which means that often things are done in his way and in his time, not ours. And what he asks for us as Christians is that we submit to his way and his time and that we do it joyfully. Let's agree that isn't always easy and it isn't always fun. But that's what God asks from us.
Because it's the interstate highway that leads to the blessing of God. And we're going to see the Lord Jesus Christ do that very thing this morning. Submit to the timing of God. And we're going to see from that a lesson that I believe God wants to impress upon you and me as Christians today. So let's look at Luke chapter two, and see the Lord Jesus Christ submit to God's time instead of his own.
Let's begin at verse 41. Every year, his that is Jesus, his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. And when he was 12 years old, they went up to the feast according to the custom. Now, the Old Testament says that Jewish people were to go to the temple in Jerusalem three times a year for three very important festivals and one of them was Passover, which commemorated the deliverance of the Jewish people while they were slaves in Egypt. And Jesus' parents, the Bible tells us, did this every year in obedience to God.
The trip was about 100 miles, and people normally traveled in caravans for safety. And knowing that helps us understand what happened next. Verse 43. And after the feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking that he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. And then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. And when they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
And they looked for him, verse 46 says, for three days till they found him. He said, Well, now, Lon, how in the world could parents misplace their kid for a whole day on a caravan like that? The reason is that in those days, the way caravans worked is that the women and the children went in the front of the caravan, and the men brought up the rear of the caravan.
And very often the two groups that is the women in the front and the men in the back would not see each other for the whole day until the caravan camped at night and suddenly they all got together. Now, Jesus was 12 years old. In the Jewish culture, you became a man at 13. You were bar mitzvahed at 13. You could get married at 13. You could start having a family after 13.
You became an official man in the community at 13. And so Jesus was right on the cusp of being a man versus being a child. And therefore, I'm sure what happened is that when he wasn't with Mary, Mary said, Well, he's probably feeling a little bit like a man right now, and so he's probably hanging back with his dad. And when his dad didn't see him, he probably thought, Well, Jesus is probably up in the front part of the caravan with his mother. And so when the two of them got together at the end of the day and they compared notes, Mary said, You mean he's not with you? And Joseph said, Well, no, I thought he was with you. And Mary said, Well, how could you think he was with me? And Joseph said, Well, it's very easy because he wasn't with me. And some loving friends stepped in and said, He's not here. Why don't you two go look for him? And so they did.
Now, I know you can't relate to that argument, but. And they went back to Jerusalem looking for him. And for three days, they couldn't find him.
He was lost, and they had no idea where he was in the very crowded and busy city of Jerusalem. Panic set in, I'm sure. Have you ever experienced that? Have you ever lost your child? And do you know this sense of abject terror that Mary and Joseph must have been feeling after three days of not being able to find their son? I know what it's like. I've lost mine. Yeah, actually today it is kind of funny, but it wasn't then. We were at the pottery factory in Williamsburg.
This is true. And our second son Justin had just been born, and he was about three or four months old. And we were so stir crazy that we went away on a vacation and took him and took our oldest son Jamie, who was then about four years old. And we went down to Williamsburg and we went to the pottery factory. And it was just mob, you know, just people everywhere. And we were sitting in front of one of these huge buildings.
And Brenda had gone into shop and she was inside for what seemed like a week. And we were sitting out on one of these little park benches outside the building and it was myself and it was Jamie and it was little baby Justin. And I finally got so frustrated.
I couldn't take it anymore. And I said to Jamie, Jamie, you stay right here and watch Justin. I'm going in and look for your mom.
Well, I was young and I was, and Jamie was a very responsible kid at four. And so I went in to start looking for Brenda all around this huge building. And I looked and looked and looked and looked and finally I found her.
And I said, there you are. And she looked around and the first question out of her mouth was, guess what? Where are the kids? I said, oh, well, they're out in the front on the park bench. And she said, who's watching them? And I said, well, Jamie's watching Justin. And she said, what?
And she started running for the front door and I'm trying to run behind her explaining myself and going, but Brenda, really? They're going to be okay. He's four years old.
He's very responsible. And we came around the corner. We could hear Justin screaming and we went out in front and here is this strange lady that we've never seen before rocking him back and forth in the stroller and no sign of Jamie. And I said to the lady, who are you? And she said, is this your baby?
And we said, yes it is. And she said, well, I was walking into the building and she said, this baby was just laying here in the stroller, screaming his head off. And I looked around, there wasn't anybody anywhere around that looked like they belong to this baby. So I thought I would sit down and rock him until the parents finally showed up. And I said, Oh, did you see a little four year old kid anywhere? And she said, no. I said, well, he was dressed like this.
He's real cute. He got a big round face and you haven't seen him anywhere. No, he wasn't here when you were here.
No, man. I can't tell you what went through my gut right about that point. I mean, there are millions of people in his pottery factory and I had all these visions of Jamie getting hit by a car, run over by that dumb train that runs right through the middle of the pottery factory or, or, you know, somebody kidnapping him. I mean, and I was frantic and I hadn't exactly batted a thousand with Brenda so far this day and I knew if I lost Jamie forever, she's going to be pretty upset. So I scoured out everywhere yelling and screaming and running and looking in absolute panic and terror for this kid.
Can you relate to that? You ever lost your kid in the department store? It's like Susie, Susie, Susie, Susie. Has anybody seen Susie?
And slowly the panic begins to build up inside of you as you realize where is Susie? Well, that's what Mary and Joseph were going through. Three days they looked for this boy and look where they found him. Verse 46. After three days, they found him in the temple court, sitting among the teachers, the rabbis, listening to them and asking them questions and everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and at his answers. During the Passover festival, rabbis would gather from all over the Jewish world and come to the temple and sit there and debate great theological questions in the temple. And Jesus had joined up with this group, never occurred to them to look for him there and was astounding them with his spiritual insight and with his perception.
Verse 48. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished and they ran over to him and his mother said to him, Son, why have you treated us like this? How could you do this to me and your father?
Your father and I have been anxiously, the Greek word means in a panic stricken manner, we have been in a panic stricken way looking for you everywhere. How could you do this to us? That's exactly what you or I would do when we finally found our kid, right?
What do you say to him when you find him? How could you do this to mommy? How could you do this to me?
Well, I don't know what they did. That's what they said to Jesus. Now look at his response. Jesus said, verse 49, why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my father's house? It's very interesting if you look back at the verse before that Mary said, your father and I have been looking for you and Jesus said, no, I'm in my father's house and I don't know if they picked it up, but I'm sure Jesus said it on purpose as a way of communicating to them. Remember mom, Joseph is not really my father.
Don't ever forget that. I'm in my father's house, the temple of almighty God. He's my father and he's given me a special mission to carry out and I was merely here in his house getting ready to carry it out.
That's all. So why are you so upset? But they did not understand what he was saying to them. What do you mean this is your father's house?
What are you talking about? They didn't get it. And as a result, they obviously asked Jesus to return home to Nazareth with them.
You say, how do you know that? Well, look, verse 51 says, then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. Now it's possible that that means he was obedient to them as a boy for the rest of his life. But I think what it means is that they had asked him, Jesus, we don't know what you're talking about. We have no idea what you mean.
You have to be in your father's house going about your father's business. We really don't have a clue as to what it is, this special mission that you're going on, but we want you to come home. You're not ready for this. We don't think. And the Bible says, Jesus went back to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. You know, the next time we hear about Jesus in the Bible is 18 years later when he comes back to carry out his spiritual mission that at 12 years old, he sensed God had for him, but he didn't get clearance to carry out for another 18 years at the age of 30 or so.
Now this is our passage for this morning, but it leaves us asking the question, yeah, so what? You know, what's interesting is that this is the only event from the childhood of Jesus that the Bible records. So in 30 years of living, this is the only event from his childhood that we find in the Bible.
So you say, well, why would God choose to record this one? And the answer is, I believe that it's a great lesson. There's a great lesson here for us as Christians in what Jesus Christ did in response to his parents. You see at the age of 12, remember I told you he was about to become a man. He was about to become recognized as a full fledged man in Hebrew society and if God had turned him loose, I believe that Jesus was ready to start carrying out his mission of being the Messiah right here and right then he was ready to go. I mean, he'd been in the temple, he'd been debating theology with the rabbis and he'd held his own.
They were amazed at his wisdom and his knowledge. He had a taste for what was up ahead and he was ready. But God's timing was not yet right. Not right by 18 years and God used Jesus' parents and their wish of, come on son, come on home to Nazareth. He used his parents to indicate to Jesus that the time is not yet right.
Yeah, you might have the right idea, but the time's not right. And Jesus had a choice to make, didn't he? He had a choice. He could either follow his own sense of timing or he could hear God's gentle voice saying to him, wait, not yet. It's too soon.
The time's not right. Go back to Nazareth and submit to my time. So he had that choice to make. And Jesus chose the latter. He chose God's time versus his own time. And we know he made the right choice, don't we? Because the Bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way we are yet without sin. Jesus never made a single wrong decision.
He never made a single disobedient choice in his entire life. So we know that was the right choice to go back to Nazareth and for 18 years, wait on God's timing to do what he knew God had called him to do. But the timing hadn't been right. You know, there's many great examples in the Bible and in real life of this principle of God's time versus our time.
Let me show you one other one. I want you to turn back into the book of Acts, chapter seven. For those of you using our copy of the Bible, it's page 775. Acts chapter seven.
And there's another man who's a great example of this. His name is Moses. And I want you to see what the great preacher Stephen said about Moses in Acts chapter 7, verse 23. Acts 7, verse 23. When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites.
He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Now look at this, verse 25. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God wanted to use him to rescue them, but they didn't realize it. Do you see Moses had the right idea? Did he understand in his heart what God was going to eventually call him to do?
Yeah, he knew it. But the Bible says the other people weren't ready yet. Verse 26. The next day, Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting, and he tried to reconcile them by saying, men, you're brothers.
Why do you want to hurt each other like this? But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Are you going to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian yesterday? And when Moses heard this, he realized that he was in deep weeds. And he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner, and he had two sons. And after 40 years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. And when he saw this, he was amazed. And as he went over to look, he heard the Lord's voice saying, I am the God of your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then the Lord said to him, verse 33, take off your sandals, the ground you're standing on is holy ground. I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt.
I have heard their groaning and come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt. Verse 35. This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words who made you ruler and judge over us? The same one was sent to be their ruler and their deliverer by God himself.
Do you understand what this is saying? It's saying, as I like to put it, that Moses had the right job, but the wrong time. He had the right job, but the wrong time.
He was off by 40 years, but he had the job, right? He knew what God was calling him to do, but he missed the timing. And let's agree that with very few exceptions, we all make the same mistake that Moses made when it comes to the timing of God, don't we? We're not content to wait on God's timing. We want it done like now. We want it done like yesterday.
We want it done ASAP. And usually the problem is God says, wait, and we say now. God says later and we say ASAP. God says the timing is not right and we say, well, I know what has to happen, so I'll make it happen in my own timing.
That's what Moses tried. Folks, listen carefully. More blessings are lost in the Christian life because we are unwilling to wait on God's timing than for any other single reason. Hear what I'm saying?
Let me repeat it. More blessings are lost in the Christian life because we are unwilling to wait on God's timing than for any other single reason. And you know, it's taken me a long time to learn this lesson, but I'm beginning to learn it that as a Christian, identifying the right job, identifying the right goal is only half the issue with God.
That's half the issue. The other half and the more important half is to identify the right timing, God's timing, and then to joyfully submit to God's timing, even though it may not be my timing. Nehemiah did this, you remember? He got it right. When he heard about the walls of Jerusalem being all torn down, the Bible says he prayed about it and waited for months and never did say anything to the king. The king brought it up and said, Nehemiah, what are you looking so sad for? And Nehemiah said, well, king, I'll tell you. And the king was ready at that point and said, why don't you go ahead and head off and go build those walls?
There was a man who knew timing was everything. And how about old Ruth? You remember Ruth was married to one of the two sons of this fellow. You remember him? And the two sons names were Melyon and Hilyon. You remember them? Which in Hebrew means weekly and sickly. Really, that's what they mean. That's what she named her kids.
And weekly and sickly died. And her mother-in-law headed back to Israel and she said to Ruth, Ruth, you need a husband. Don't come back with me. Stay here. You're pretty.
You're attractive. Stay here and get a husband. Ruth said, no, no, that's not the way God wants this to happen. I'll go back with you.
I'm going to stick with you. When God's ready for me to get a husband, I'll get a husband. And she waited on the timing of God. And then you remember she was out in the field picking corn and Boaz spotted her. Ah, good old Boaz. Boaz was rich. Boaz was handsome. Boaz was God-fearing. And best of all, Boaz was available.
Hey, that's great. And he saw Ruth and Ruth saw him and it was right. But it was in God's timing. You see, figuring out the right goals, only half of it.
When we try to make it happen in our timing and we don't consult God for his, we can take a right goal that God really wants to accomplish. And boy, we can mess it up bad. I talked to you last week about Frank Reich. You remember Frank Reich? How many people remember who Frank Reich is? Come on, be honest.
This is depressing for a teacher to ask for a test like this. All right. Frank Reich is the backup quarterback for who? The Buffalo Bills.
Very good. And Frank Reich did something very special a week and a half ago. What did he do? He set a record, right, for the biggest what? The biggest comeback in NFL history. Not just in the playoffs, in history. By leading the Buffalo Bills back against Houston from being down 35 to 3 in the third quarter and winning the ballgame. And he's in the record book now. And remember I told you that Frank Reich has been a backup quarterback in the NFL for eight years?
He had only thrown one postseason pass in his entire career in the NFL. And here he is in the record book and on television, in Sports Illustrated and everywhere. He's also a very strong and deeply committed Christian.
And I want to read you something more about him because it really bears on what we're talking about. This is from USA Today and I quote. On New Year's Eve, three days before his first career playoff start, Reich was one of the last players to leave the Bills' locker room. He was asked if he realized that he was three wins away from being the biggest story in the NFL.
Which, as it turns out, was wrong. Reich was just one win away from being the NFL's biggest story. Reich replied, and I quote, I do not worry about being a big story.
If I did, I would have left Buffalo a long time ago. End of quote. And when I read that, I went up and I sat down at dinner with my boys that night and I pulled that out and I showed them that quote. And I said, now, fellas, this is a great lesson for you as young men. This is a great lesson.
Because if Frank Reich had gotten all impatient with God's timing for his life, if he had gotten all frustrated and all headstrong, if he'd have said things like, I'm not going to stay here and be second banana to this guy for eight years. I'm better than this. I have better skills than this. I want more money than this. My career is never going anywhere as a backup quarterback. I'm going to make a name for myself. I quit. I'm fed up.
I'm leaving Buffalo. If he'd have done that, instead of submitting to what God wanted him to do, which is just stay there and be a backup quarterback for eight years. Do you understand that when his moment that God had crafted for him, God had perfectly prepared that moment for that man. When it came, the man wouldn't have been there. He wouldn't have been there to grab it. He wouldn't have been there to go in the record book. He wouldn't have been there to go on national television and sports illustrated and take a stand for Jesus Christ and honor the Lord because his own timing would have messed him up.
He would have been gone. And he would have messed up the greatest opportunity God probably is ever going to give that man because he was too impatient to wait on the timing of God. Do you see that, fellas?
Do you understand? God had a bigger plan than Frank Reich could ever see or could ever grasp eight years ago, two years ago, two weeks ago. But God had a plan. And he asked Frank Reich to humbly submit to God's plan, to God's timing, and to stay put. And because Frank Reich was willing to do it, you see what God did for him? Tremendous. But only because he was willing to submit to God's time and God's plan.
If he'd have done it in his own time, he'd have messed the whole thing up and lost that opportunity forever. In the Bible, God says this, Isaiah 55. My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, saith the Lord. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so much higher are my thoughts than your thoughts and my ways than your ways. And we could add, my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways, and my timing is usually not your timing. As high as the heaven is above the earth, so is my timing above your timing. That's just not true for Frank Reich.
That's true for you and me. So where is God asking you to be a Frank Reich in your life? Where is God asking you to walk by faith, even though you don't understand? Where is God asking you to submit to his timing instead of your own? Where is God asking you to humble your ego and your pride and your drive to exalt yourself and move yourself and advance yourself and get what you want? And where is God asking you to submit to his plan and his timing and just let him be God? Listen, God has so many exciting things ahead, if you'll just let him do it his way. He has so many blessings he wants to give you, if you'll just let him do it his way, according to his time. But when we ram it and jam it and cram it in our time, we miss so many blessings God has prepared for us. And the Lord Jesus Christ was smart enough to say, you know, even though I think I might be able to handle these rabbis right now and this mission right now, if God's asking me to wait, then I'm going to wait.
It was 18 years, but he waited. Have you been praying for somebody's healing and it's not coming in your timing? Have you been praying for the salvation of somebody you love very much and it's just not happening in your timing? Have you been praying for your Boaz and you don't see him yet? Or your Ruth and you don't see her yet? And you're saying to God, well, why isn't she here now? I'm ready now. I'm overdue, God.
I'm so ripe I'm about to bust. God's timing. You've been praying about your job and it's not going in the timing you want it to go in or about your marriage and there's some problems that aren't getting solved the way you want them solved in your timing. You've been praying for guidance and it's not coming as fast as you want it. Maybe you've been praying to have a child and you haven't been able to have one in your timing or a financial breakthrough and it hasn't come when you wanted it.
I don't know, but I can't help but think that every single one of us here as Christians has at least one thing in our life where our timing hasn't matched God's timing. And we've gotten angry, we've gotten frustrated, maybe even bitter. But if you're angry and you're frustrated and you're bitter at God, I'll tell you why. I'll tell you the reason.
It's because you've been insisting on your time instead of being willing to wait for his time. And you can solve the bitterness and the frustration very simply. You can solve it by going to God and saying, God, I'm willing to give up my time and I'm willing to submit to and embrace your time. There's a great verse in the scripture. It says this, Psalm 46, verse 10. Be still.
Some of you know it. Be still and let God be God. It says be still and know that I am God. But what it means is be still and let me be God, not you.
I'm God. And the people who enjoy the greatest blessings from God, the people who know the greatest joy in their Christian experience are the people who are willing to say, yes, God, I think I got the plan. I think I got the idea. I think I know where we're going, but that's only half of it.
The other half is timing. And Lord, I'm going to opt for your time, not mine. May God help you do that. May God help you trade in your frustration and your anger and your bitterness for a humble dependence on God's time and God's wisdom.
And you'll be glad you did. Let's pray. If you're here this morning and what I've been saying has really spoken to you and you'd like to say, God, I've been frustrated and I've been upset and I've been angry because I've wanted my timing. But Lord, this morning I'm willing to trade that in for your time and submit to you. If you're willing to do that, then I'd like you just to raise your hand this morning so we can pray together. Thank you. God bless you. Thanks.
Lots of hands. Anybody else? Come on now.
Come on. Thanks. Heavenly Father, I thank you so much that you are God. That we don't have to be afraid of turning loose control because you're in control.
And Lord Jesus, it's really only a mirage to think that we're in control. I pray that you would work in the heart of every person here, particularly those who raise their hands. Forgive us for getting angry and frustrated with you, being bitter, just because we're insisting on doing it our way, our time. Lord Jesus, help us to be like you and submit to the timing of God. Replace that bitterness and that frustration in our hearts this morning with your joy and your peace that comes from knowing that in your time, you'll make all things beautiful in your time.
Thank you. We can depend on you to be God. Direct our lives, Lord, as we submit to you. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-13 09:45:26 / 2023-01-13 09:59:13 / 14