You know, Michael Jordan's retired.
Nike stock is down. And the world is just going to have to find another NBA media darling now to focus all its attention on. And I've got a candidate. In fact, I think he's a lot of people's candidate. He's 21 years old. He measures 7 feet 1.
He weighs 303 pounds. He wears size 20 shoes. Anybody know his name? Anybody?
Don't you guys ever watch television or read the paper? Shaquille O'Neal is his name. The Shaq.
The big guy. And I think you're going to see a lot more of him now that you're going to see a lot less of Michael Jordan. It was very interesting. I don't know if you caught it last week, but there was a very interesting expose on Shaq in the paper last week. And one of the things he commented on was signing autographs, the bane of every professional athlete these days.
Listen to what he said, and I quote. My philosophy about autographs is this. I'll sign them if I can. One thing I usually insist on doing, however, if there's enough time, is personalizing the autograph.
So I'll ask the person his or her name. That makes some people feel real good. But it makes other people feel real bad. Those are the people who want your autograph just so they can sell it. You know, when you want to sell somebody's autograph, you don't want it to say, to Jimmy from Shaq. Because then only Jimmy's can buy it. You don't want Jimmy on the ball. You just want Shaq's name on the ball. So Shaq writes to Jimmy or to Suzy so that people can't do this. He goes on to say, I wish I didn't have to have this attitude about autographs. I wish autographs were for little kids to take home, to sleep with at night, or to put up on their wall. But they're not.
Many of them are for adults, for profit, and they're trying to make money off money. That's my name. Shaq then goes on to mention in the article that when people do this to him, it really makes him mad. And this is not the guy you want to make mad. Do you know what I'm trying to say?
303 pounds, 7 foot 1, size 20 shoe. I would do anything I could to get along with a guy this size. Shaq says it really makes him mad when people do this to him. And the reason it makes him mad is because these people are playing games with him. They're not serious about him. They don't really like him. They don't really want his autograph because they really like him.
What they want to do is sell it and make money. And he said this is playing games with him and he doesn't like being trifled with like this. All of this made me go look up trifle in the dictionary. You know what it means to trifle with somebody? It means to treat a person as unimportant, to trivialize a person, or to play games with them.
It's the opposite of being serious or being genuine in your relationship with a person. And the reason I bring all this up about Shaq and trivializing and trifling is because we're going to meet a man today in our passage who did exactly the same thing with Jesus Christ. He trifled with him. The man's name is Herod. And we want to see how Jesus reacted to him and then draw some lessons from that about our attitudes towards Jesus Christ.
So let's look. Luke chapter 9 verse 1. It says in Luke chapter 9 verse 1 that when Jesus called the 12 together, the 12 apostles, you know Peter, James, John, these guys, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and cure diseases. And he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. He told them, take nothing for your journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic, whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.
And if people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town as a testimony, as a judgment against them. So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. Now, folks, you know, in the ancient world, there were no televisions, there were no radios, there were no newspapers, there were no commercial bookstores to get messages out. Crown books didn't exist.
And even though he looks like it, Hugh Downs was not alive back at this time. And so the only way there was to get a message around was to send out messengers or emissaries, which is exactly what Jesus did. He sent the 12 apostles out preaching a message. And the message is that he, Jesus, was the Messiah of Israel. And then he gave them the power to perform miracles as a way of corroborating the message that they were preaching. Now, he told them two things when they went.
Number one, he said to them, I want you to travel light. And number two, he said, I want you to respect whatever freewill choice people make about me. If somebody wants to receive me and accept me, go into their house and stay there as long as they want you to stay or as long as you're in town. If somebody rejects me and they don't want anything to do with me, he said, shake the dust off your feet and don't waste your time. Go to another city. Leave them alone. They made a freewill decision. They didn't want me. Respect that.
Go someplace else. This idea of shaking the dust of your feet off was an old Jewish custom. Whenever a pious Jewish person would move through someplace that was Gentile and then arrive back in Israel, he would stop at the border of Israel and he would shake the dust of his feet off on these people. He would brush it off because he just traveled through Gentile dirt. The idea was that he'd been through a land that was dirty and a land that was contaminated. He didn't want anything to do with those people. He didn't want anything to do with their religious practices. And he was shaking the dust of his feet off as a sign of separation from those people and as a sign of judgment on those people.
Jesus said, if somebody doesn't want anything to do with me, you shake the dust of your feet off at them and then you go about your business. And so the disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told him to. Verse 7. Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on.
And it's important that we stop for a second and understand who this Herod was and what he was ruler over to help us appreciate what the Bible is really telling us. In 37 B.C. All right. Got that in your mind.
Fix it. 37 B.C. That's a long time before Luke 9. Herod the Great was made king over all of Israel by the Romans.
And Herod the Great was a fairly good king. He carried on some enormous building projects. He refurbished the temple. He built Masada. If any of you know the saga of Masada down in the Judean wilderness. And he lived until 4 B.C.
When he died in 4 B.C., his will stated that his kingdom ought to be divided among his three living sons. And one of those sons is the Herod that's here in Luke 9. His name was Herod Antipas. A-N-T-I-P-A-S. Herod Antipas, who was one of Herod's sons and was ruling at this time. Now, what do we know about Herod Antipas? Well, we know that he was a great lover of salad because there's one named after him. Right?
Antipas-to. That's right. You don't believe that?
Honest. It's in the history book. He used to love olives and oil and all that kind of stuff.
And he was the first one to make Antipas-to salad. You don't believe that? No, that's not true. Don't believe that.
That's completely false. But anyway, what do we really know about this guy? Well, what we know from the Bible is that he was the ruler over Galilee and Perea. You say, well, now, Lord, I kind of know where Galilee is. I mean, it's up there in the north around the Sea of Galilee. Right.
Very good. You say, but Perea. Where in the world is Perea? Well, if you can picture that region, Perea is modern day Jordan. On the east side of the Jordan River, modern day Jordan. So he ruled over Galilee in the north and Jordan to the east. His capital was way down in the south, right on the east side of the Dead Sea.
Now, if you know anything about the topography of Israel, you know it is a long way from Galilee way down to the east side of the Dead Sea. And what I want you to notice is that his palace was abuzz with information and news about Jesus, who was way up at the Sea of Galilee. And my point is, friends, that Jesus and the reputation that he had for his ministry and what he was doing had spread all throughout the Middle East of this time. We sometimes look at Jewish people who lived in the day of Jesus and we go, oh, isn't that too bad? The reason so many of them never received Jesus and never responded to him is because they just didn't know about it.
Wrong and not true. So if Herod, the ruler of the other side of the Jordan River, whose capital was hundreds of miles away, had heard about Jesus, be sure everybody living in Judea had. Now, there were three opinions at Herod's court about who this miracle working Jesus was. Look at verse seven. It says Herod was perplexed because some people were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead and other people were saying that Elijah had come back and other people were saying it was one of the prophets of the Old Testament who'd come back to life.
So these were the three opinions. The first one is that John the Baptist had returned from the dead. You see, Herod Antipas had killed John the Baptist. Herod Antipas was living with his brother's wife and John the Baptist said, that's wrong.
You shouldn't do that. That's adultery. And so they cut his head off. And so now there were some people around the court going, oh, you know, you should never have done that. Now, God has raised John the Baptist up and send him back to kind of haunt you and follow you.
How'd you like to have people around there saying that to you? Shouldn't have done that, Herod. He's going to get you. John the Baptist is going to get you. Another theory was that it was Elijah raised from the dead.
Another theory is that it was one of the prophets of the Old Testament. You say, but I mean, I got a question. How can rational people and I'm assuming these were rational people. How can rational people come up with these kind of cockamamie ideas that this is really who this person was? I mean, these are crazy.
These are all way out ideas, really. I mean, raised from the dead, Elijah, John the Baptist come back from the dead. Come on. Well, that may be true. But don't forget, they had to come up with some way of explaining Jesus's incredible miracles. And I mean, you know, no ordinary person could do miracles like this. They had to come up with some kind of extraordinary person.
And these were some of the best ideas they could come up with for who he could be and be extraordinary. You say, but, Lon, Jesus already told him who he was. He already told him he was the Messiah. He already told him he was God in the flesh.
Why didn't they just accept the explanation he gave them? That's a very good question. I mean, that is really an outstanding question. You all should teach in seminary asking questions like that. Really, that's a very good question. Let's think about the answer for a second, because, you know, people today are doing the very same thing. People today are trying to find all kinds of alternate explanations for who Jesus is, just like these people were.
What have you heard out there? Some people say, well, you know, he was a great prophet. Well, by the way, if he was a great prophet, he wouldn't have been a liar.
Right? Great prophets usually didn't lie. And he said he was the Messiah. So why don't you just accept him as that? Some people said, well, he was a noble teacher. Well, noble teachers don't lie. And he said he was the Messiah. So what's wrong with accepting him for that? Some people say, well, he was a misdirected rabbi. You know, just kind of a little, you know, the elevator didn't go to the top floor, but he was a nice guy.
No, I don't think that'll work. Some people have said he was a magician. People have said, hey, look, nobody can do this kind of stuff. Raising people from the dead.
Come on, give me a break, will you? He was an illusionist. I don't know how he did it, but he was kind of like David Copperfield, but better. Now, look, these people knew dead people.
We've talked about that. This was not an illusion. Some people have said, well, he was a psychotic. Actually, you know, that's a fairly common theory that Jesus was psychotic.
Kind of like the David Koresh of ancient Israel. But friends, when I look at all these explanations, the stuff that all these people come up with, as far as I'm concerned, it's far more difficult to accept all the crazy stuff they come up with than just to accept the answer Jesus gave. I mean, so why are these people jumping through the hoops and doing all these crazy things to try to re-explain Jesus? Listen, because if you can explain Jesus away as anything other than God in the flesh, anything other, then you can ignore him. I mean, if he's not God in the flesh, if he's a psychotic or a magician or a rabbi or a teacher, ignore him. Ignore what he has to teach. If he's not really God in the flesh, then he's no threat to your lifestyle and he's no threat to your value system. You can just dismiss him and blow him off and that's it. But if he's really God in the flesh the way he claimed, if he's really the son of God the way he claimed, then that's a whole different ballgame, isn't it?
And then you can't blow him off like that. Then what he said and what he taught about you, your lifestyle, your relationship to God, your value system. You can't blow it off if he's really God. And you see, I'm convinced that there are people in our world, and always have been, who are so committed to their lifestyle and so committed to the way they want to live and so committed to their value system that they will jump through any hoop to redefine Jesus Christ rather than letting Jesus Christ redefine them.
That's what's really happening here. Let me just stop for a second and ask you, what explanation for who Jesus Christ is are you living with? You say, well, it's none of your business. I'm pretty happy with the explanation I've got, OK? Well, OK, that's fine. I don't want to fight. I'm in a good mood. You're in a good mood.
We're all happy. But just make sure the explanation you're living with is based on fact and not based on some fantasy you've got, just so you can avoid Jesus Christ's impact on your life. You understand what I'm saying?
C.S. Lewis said, and I quote, he said, a man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic on the level of a man who says he's a poached egg or else he would be the devil of hell himself. You and I must make a choice. Either Jesus was and is the son of God or else he's a madman. But nothing in between will work. So which of the two have you accepted? Because nothing in between will work. Just make sure whatever view you have of him, that it's a truthful view.
Don't play a game with yourself because you're not willing to come to grips with what he wants to do in your life. Well, let's go on. Verse nine. But Herod said, I beheaded John. I mean, look, I may not be a rocket scientist, but I know that John hasn't come back from the dead because I cut his head off.
And I've got it right over here in the other room if you guys want to see it. I know it's not John, but he says, I don't know who he is. Who is this person I hear these things about? Look at the end of the verse. And he tried to see Jesus. Isn't that interesting?
You ever read that before? He tried to see Jesus. He wanted to know who this Jesus guy was.
He wanted to see him. Now, that's the end of our passage. But it's not the end of the story. I want you to turn back to Luke, chapter twenty three, page seven hundred and forty seven of our copy. Luke twenty three to get the end of the story, because you see, Herod did get to see Jesus before it was all over.
Remember it ended and said here he wanted to see him. Well, he gets to look at chapter twenty three, verse six. Jesus is in front of Pontius Pilate now on hearing this pilot ask if Jesus was a Galilean and when he learned that Jesus was and he was under Herod's jurisdiction. Remember, Herod was the ruler of Perea and Galilee.
Remember? Then it says that he sent him to Herod because Herod was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very happy because for a long time he'd been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he was hoping to see Jesus perform some miracle.
Herod was tickled pink to get to meet Jesus after a couple of years of wanting to, but not. He was not interested in seeing him because of anything spiritual. He didn't want to become a follower of Jesus Christ. He didn't want anything personal from Jesus Christ. He didn't sense any personal need that Jesus Christ was offering to personally meet. That's not why he wanted to see him. He wanted to see him to see if he could work a miracle.
In these days, rulers would have court entertainment, you know, jesters and jugglers and acrobats and all kinds of other things. And this is what Herod wanted from Jesus Christ. You know, watch a few gladiators die, throw a few dissidents to the lions and see Jesus do a few miracles.
All part of a day's entertainment. He wanted Jesus to become part of the royal entertainment for the day, kind of like a court jester. He wasn't interested in anything serious that Jesus had to offer.
You say, Lon, how do you know that? I know that because of what he did when Jesus wouldn't do a miracle for him. Look down at verse nine. He plied Jesus with many questions, but Jesus wouldn't even answer him. Jesus snubbed him.
Not only wouldn't do a miracle, he wouldn't even answer him. And then verse 11, Herod and his soldiers ridiculed Jesus and mocked him, dressed him in an elegant robe and sent him back to Pilate. Folks, if Herod had really been interested in anything serious that Jesus was offering, this is not how he would have treated him. Well, he wasn't interested in anything Jesus was offering. He just wanted to have sport with him. He just wanted to be entertained by him. He trivialized him and trifled with him. And as a result, would you notice how Jesus responded?
Jesus wouldn't even talk to him. I had a lady come up at the second service and said, isn't this kind of like that verse that says don't throw your pearls before swine? I said, yeah, I guess that would be like that. She said, that verse, I use that for a dating verse.
I said, for what? She said, yeah, I see myself as a pearl and I'm not going to go out with any pigs. I said, well, you know, in all my years, I've never heard that verse interpreted that way. But if it works for you, that's all right, I guess.
But I told her I would never say that unless I gave her credit for it. But look what's really interesting here. What's really interesting is the lowest man on the society totem pole, the lowest woman on the society totem pole. I don't care how poor they were or how destitute they were. Do you know, whenever they came to Jesus and in sincerity and in genuineness asked for help, they always got it, didn't they? He never turned anybody down who was sincere. I don't care how low they were in society's sight.
Tax collectors, prostitutes, pimps. But here this king comes, arrogant and trifling, who wanted a miracle just to tickle his curiosity. And Jesus snubbed him, wouldn't even answer him. Isn't that interesting?
Well, that's the end of our passage, but it leaves us with the most important question, which is very good. When I was studying this passage this week, I don't know if it hits you as strange, but it hit me very strange to think of Jesus standing there in front of Herod and just refusing to answer him. Does that strike you as strange? I mean, I've kind of got this image of Jesus of being so warm with people and so affable with people and such a people guy that to think of him as just standing there and snubbing somebody like this just seems out of character. Does it strike any of you like that? It really hit me that way.
And yet I believe in his doing that. There's a great lesson here for us. And here's the lesson. The lesson is that God is looking for and God responds to people who are serious about him.
That's the lesson. Remember Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he? He what? Climbed up in a.
There come our tree. No, you got to sing. What's wrong with you? I'm singing. He climbed up in a.
For the Lord, he wanted to see, see, get it up there, see. Well, not bad. You're not going to make the choir, but not bad.
In fact, I feel much better having heard you sing. Really, I do. OK, but you know, Zacchaeus, the Bible says Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus. That's why he climbed up in the tree.
True. And what did Jesus do? He embraced him. He warmly received him.
He went to his house. He stood up for him when people criticized Zacchaeus his way of life. Because Zacchaeus was serious about Christ. And yet Herod, the Bible says the very same thing about Herod, that he was trying to see Jesus. But Jesus ignored him and snubbed him.
Why? What was the difference? The difference was he wasn't serious about Christ. Let me repeat my point that God responds to people who are serious about him. If you're here this morning and you're not a Christian, you've never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and you don't have one now. But at least you're serious about checking this thing out that we're talking about, checking out who Jesus is and checking out what it means to be personally his own child, personally to have him be your savior. May I say to you that no matter how long it takes you to do that, no matter how slow you may inch your way along, if your heart is really genuine and you're really sincere, God will be infinitely patient with you.
He will. And he'll keep revealing more and more of himself to you little by little in the chunks that you can take it until you come to the place that you're convinced and you're ready to accept him as your personal Lord and savior. And you know, there were many of us here, right? Many of us here who are Christians who moved at tortoise pace through this whole thing. I mean, we didn't go real fast through this. It took us a long time to make up our mind. And God stuck with us, didn't he? God never walked away from us because in our heart we weren't sure, but at least we were serious. If you're here and you're not serious, let me just say you're not going to get much from Jesus Christ.
When I have people come into my office and see me and they go, Lon, I'm not really sure about this. I don't think I'm really ready to make this kind of commitment. I say, that's great. I say, look, if you're really serious about finding out whether Jesus is who he said he is, let me give you a piece of advice. Tell him you're serious. Tell him that if he really makes himself known to you, you will give your life to him and then leave yourself wide open and just tell him God do it. And I said, I promise you, God will make himself known to you.
I don't know how, but he will if you're serious. And I tell people in my office, if you're not serious, don't waste your time and don't waste God's time because nothing's going to happen. God deals with people who are serious. And even once we become Christians, God still wants us to be serious. You know, and I know that out there in the world every week, we face the struggle of not letting the world wear us down and distract us from having a serious commitment to Jesus Christ. Everything out there is aimed at getting our mind on other things and our bodies on other things. So we just go on autopilot in our relationship with Christ and we're not really serious and we're not really dedicated.
We just put the thing click on autopilot, let it fly itself. And we kind of go off and do our other thing every week. That's a struggle for me.
And I bet it is for you, too. As Christians, we need to be just as serious about our relationship with Christ as we were when we were seeking the Lord, because, friend, God will make you the most special focus of his heart. If you're serious about him as a Christian, he'll do things in your life in the most marvelous way. He'll provide for you and protect you and extricate you out of the messes you get yourself in all the time.
And you'll come out smelling like a rose in spite of how bad you messed up. If you're really serious about your relationship with him and if you're not as a Christian, you're just not going to see God do a whole lot in your life. It's just that simple.
God doesn't honor people, Christians, who are on autopilot. There's a verse in the Bible that means a lot to me. I have a calligraphy on my wall at home. A friend did it for me. Here it is. It's in 2 Chronicles 16, 9.
Write that down. 2 Chronicles 16, 9, because everybody is going to come up afterwards and ask me, what was that verse again? 2 Chronicles 16, 9. Here's the verse. It says, the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth like radar.
Just back and forth. Looking for what? Well, it says, looking for people whose hearts are completely his. Why does he look for those people?
Listen. So that he might show himself mighty on their behalf. Now that's a great verse of scripture. God's eyes are looking throughout the whole earth for people whose hearts are completely his.
Why? So he can show himself mighty on their behalf. And you know, the way I read this verse, the way I read it is that as a Christian, I don't need to be all that mighty in myself. But what I need to have is a mighty serious commitment to Jesus Christ and God will make up the difference. That's how I read this verse. And so placing all of my energy on getting to be mighty myself, I'm putting it in the wrong place.
I need to be putting my energy on having a mighty serious relationship with Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ will make up the difference. That's a great verse of scripture. And God just doesn't do this for me. He'll do it for you if you're a Christian. God doesn't play favorites.
God will honor any Christian who's willing to get serious about their relationship with him. Now, when I was a kid, I used to always ask the question, why should I? I'm dysfunctional. Dysfunctional people ask that question. My mom used to always say, I'd like you to go do this. And instead of going, yes, ma'am, which is the correct answer, I would go, why should I? And I'd always end up in my room or restricted from driving the car or with no television. But I'm still dysfunctional and I still ask, why should I?
Any of you dysfunctional? Any of you ever ask, why should I? It's a good question. There's nothing wrong with that question. Why should you make Jesus Christ the serious focus of your life?
Let me give you three reasons in closing. Number one, because he's a holy God, because we're dealing with a holy God. We're dealing with an awesome being.
And friends, when we're dealing with something awesome, it demands a higher level of seriousness than when we're dealing with something trivial. In Seattle, you know, they build airplanes out there. Boeing, you know, builds airplanes, you know, 727s, 37s, 47s, 57s, 67s.
There's a 777 now coming out. And they have a sign on the wall out there where all the employees work. And the sign says this. The sign says, somebody's life depends on you.
Now, I love that sign. I think that sign belongs in an airplane factory. Don't you? I don't want some guy riveting wings on my airplane who didn't take this thing seriously.
Do you? And every time I walk on an airplane out here at Dulles, I say to myself, I sure hope the guy that built this plane looked at that sign when he was building this plane. Because I'm going to be 36,000 feet up, and I want somebody who was serious about things who put this plane together. Because building an airplane that 300 people are going to ride on at 36,000 feet is not a trivial thing.
True? This is a pretty important thing. It needs to be taken seriously. And may I say to you that in dealing with Almighty God, it makes building airplanes look like something not even worthy to be compared? We're dealing with the awesome God of the universe, and He's nobody to trifle with.
He deserves to be taken seriously. Number two reason is not only are we dealing with a holy God, but we're also going to have to give an account to this holy God. And we're going to have a performance review in front of this holy God. When I was a kid, my dad used to always, when he'd leave me to do a job, the last thing he used to do before he'd leave is he would stand me up and he'd say, now look me in the eyes, look him right in the eyes, and he'd say to me, don't you forget I'm coming back to check on you. That's how he'd leave me. Don't ever forget I'm coming back to check on you. Now, I know that that shouldn't have made me do any better job or be any more serious about it. I should have done a good job anyway. But I'll tell you what, having him point that old finger at me and saying I'm coming back to check on you, I worked a whole lot harder. That was a lot more serious because I knew when he came back to check on me, if I hadn't done a real good job, it was not going to be a very pleasant meeting.
And I worked harder. And you know, Jesus Christ, when he left here, what did he say? He said, I'm coming back. And you're going to have a performance review if you're a Christian. Second Corinthians chapter five says, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of what we've done in our bodies, whether it's good or it's bad. Now, does that mean if you'll go to heaven or not based on that? This is not a go to heaven or go to hell thing. This is a performance review for Christians. You're going to have one.
So am I if you're a Christian. And you know what? The older I get, the more that performance review scares me to death, scares me to death.
Paul called it the terror of the Lord. And I understand more the older I get what he's talking about, because I got all kinds of loose ends in my life. Look, I know what I'm made of. And I'm scared of that performance review. I might be able to snow you. But I'm not going to be able to snow him. And that's scary. And you may be able to snow your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your boss, your neighbor, but you won't snow him. And you know what?
In light of that, I would suggest you and I take pretty seriously the way we live down here. There's many a time I'm on the verge of doing something. And God says to me, oh, wait a minute. Time out. Oh, whistle.
Hold on just a second. When you stand in front of me, you're going to give an account of this. Now, you better make sure you want to do this because it's coming back around here, pal. And I can't tell you how many things that I shouldn't have done that I didn't do for that very reason.
I didn't ever want to see him again coming around on me. This is a good reason to live for the Lord and be serious. Third and finally, not only should we be serious because we're dealing with God, who's an awesome being, and because we're going to all have a performance review. But third and finally, as Christians, we need to understand that people out there are really lost for all eternity without Jesus Christ. And we're the messengers God has sent. We're like the guys in Luke nine that Jesus sent out to tell them the good news. Jesus didn't pick television or radio or crown books to tell him the good news. He chose us.
But he can't use us if we're not serious in our walk with him. When I was a kid, we used to play marbles. He played marbles in your kid. And I used to always ask, were we playing for funsies or for keeps?
You know how that works? If you're playing for funsies, it means everybody shoots their marbles, everybody exchanges their marbles. And then when you get ready to go home, everybody gives their marbles back to everybody and you go home with the same amount of marbles you came with. When you're playing for keeps, it doesn't work that way.
When you're playing for keeps, you shoot. And whatever you've got left is what you go home with. Now, I want to tell you something. I wanted to go home with all of the marbles I brought.
You know my heritage. I paid for those marbles and I want to keep every one of those marbles. I don't want to lose any of those marbles.
What's more, I wanted all everybody else's marbles to keep. And when we said it's for keeps, brother, I want to tell you. All the joking went out of it. I mean, when it was for funsies, we drink Coke and chew chewing gum and laugh and tell jokes. But man, we're playing for keeps, brother. There were no jokes on my part. I was shooting for their marbles and I wanted their marbles.
The stakes went up. You understand what I'm saying to you? We need to understand in this world when it comes to people's souls, we're not playing for funsies. This is not for funsies. This is for keeps. This is the real thing. This is not practice. This is the game. And God can only use people to reach others who are serious about their walk with Him. The stakes are high, friends, eternally so.
And that demands a level of intensity from us that reflects how serious the stakes are. You say, Lon, does this mean we can never laugh as Christians? I hope not.
I laugh all the time. Does this mean we can't have fun in life? No. Does it mean we can't enjoy life and have nice things?
Absolutely not. But it means that running down through the middle of all of that, there is a seriousness about spiritual things and a seriousness about our relationship with Christ and a seriousness about why God left us here. Don't go on autopilot. God can't use you on autopilot.
He can only use you if you're serious about your walk with Him. Voltaire, any of you know the name Voltaire? Great French philosopher, consummate atheist, had nothing to do with Christianity and nothing good really to say about it. But the stories told one day about him and a friend walking through the streets of Paris and they passed a Christian procession, a Christian parade. And Voltaire stopped.
It had a cross in the front. And he took his hat off and he tipped his hat to the parade. His friend couldn't believe it. His friend was flabbergasted. His friend turned to him and said, Monsieur Voltaire, he said, have you become a Christian? Are you a believer? Voltaire said, absolutely not.
No way. He said, but when God and I pass, we salute each other, but we never speak. And when I read that story, I thought, isn't that a nice little picture of how people are when it comes to Jesus Christ? I mean, you're either in the parade marching behind the cross or you're standing on the sidelines with Voltaire tipping your hat to the parade. But you're not a part of it.
And he wasn't unkind or disrespectful. You don't have to be unkind or disrespectful to be out of the parade. All you have to do is be on autopilot and not be serious in your walk with Jesus Christ. But I guarantee you, every single one of us here is either in the parade or we're standing with Voltaire tipping our hat as it goes by.
It's one or the other. There's no place else to be. So where are you? Remember, God responds to and God honors people who are serious in their relationship with him.
And I hope that's where you are. So God can respond to you and God can use you. Don't let the world wear you down.
Don't go on autopilot. You stay in that parade with Jesus Christ and you'll be glad you did. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for the word of God to our hearts this morning. And I want to pray that you would take the word of God and that you would use it in a very special way to challenge and encourage people here today. If someone's here today and they're not a Christian, they've never committed their life in a real and personal way to you. I pray, Lord, that you would encourage them, that you love them and that you're going to stick by them and you're going to walk with them hand in hand. As long as they're serious about really knowing whether or not you're real and whether or not this thing called a personal relationship with Christ really exists. So, Lord Jesus, honor the hearts of those who are here today, even if they're not Christians yet.
Honor their heart if they're serious and they're genuine and reveal yourself to them, I pray. And for those of us here who are Christians, I pray that you would help us to fight off the attempts of the world every week to help us go into neutral in our walk with you. Help us to be in the parade, not on the sideline with Voltaire, but in the parade, marching behind the cross and making a difference in this world for you. Do that in our hearts and lives, Lord, not only so that we can face you and be happy when we meet you and hear, well done, good and faithful servant, but also, Lord, so that we can see people come to know Christ down here and have their lives radically changed for all eternity. Give us that sense of vision and commitment. And, Lord Jesus, I pray that you would renew the seriousness of every one of us as we walk out of here today in our walk with Christ. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-17 08:29:31 / 2023-05-17 08:45:35 / 16