Summary: James Byrnes, Sec’y of State under FDR, said that the difference between successful people & average people can be summed up in 3 words, "and then some." He said, "Average people do what is expected. Successful people do what is expected, & then some."
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
A. When we read the Bible, one of the things that has to impress us is that God is often calling upon His people to do things they normally couldn’t do by themselves, but that they can do with His help. God is always saying, "Lean on Me, & rely on My power & strength."
ILL. The children of Israel came to the Promised Land. They spied out the land & saw giants. They said, "We are like grasshoppers compared to those giants." It was not until the children of Israel let God go before them that the Promised Land finally became theirs.
The Bible teaches us that "greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world." And in Luke 18:27, Jesus says, "What is impossible for men is possible with God."
I. THERE ARE FOUR STORIES IN LUKE 18
Let’s look more closely at that 18th chapter of Luke, & at 4 of the events recorded there.
A. The first 8 verses tell about a widow who comes to an unrighteous judge for help against her adversary. Jesus tells the story in just 8 verses. So there must be a lot of the story that we don’t know.
We don’t know if the widow had money or not. Probably she didn’t. So she came requesting legal help from an unrighteous judge, & she wanted him to give her case favorable consideration without any financial reimbursement at all.
The point of the story is that this woman didn’t become discouraged when he turned her down. She kept coming back again & again, until finally, the judge just throws up his hands & says, "Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice" (Vs. 5). "Just to get rid of her, I am going to do what she asks me to do."
B. Now the next story, recorded in vs’s 9 through 14, is about the tax-collector & the Pharisee. The Pharisee looks very religious. He wears religious clothes. He sounds religious. He does religious things. He assumes that God is looking with favor upon him.
The other man doesn’t look very religious, or sound very religious. He is a tax-collector, not well respected in the community.
Both of them pray. One prays in a spirit of pride, & the other in a spirit of humility. Jesus says, "God heard the prayer of the tax-collector who simply prayed, ’God, have mercy on me, a sinner." It’s a great story!
C. The next story, found in vs’s 15 through 17 is about the children who were brought to Jesus. Now children were considered second class citizens at best. They were to be ignored, to be seen not heard.
But people kept bringing their children to Jesus. Pretty soon they are sitting on his knees, laughing with Him, & He is talking to them.
The apostles are saying, "He is too busy to be talking to your children." But Jesus says to them, "Let the little children come to me, & do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it" (Vs’s 16-17).
D. Then, in vs’s 18 through 25, we see someone who is quite a contrast to the others we have just talked about. It is the rich young ruler.
He is a yuppie. If we could take him out of the Bible & put him into the present Century, he would fit nicely into our culture. He would be driving a black BMW, & sporting monogrammed initials on his shirts. He would be the one who is always in control, who knows exactly what to say.
But something is lacking in his life. So he comes to Jesus & says, "In case I have missed something, would you tell me how to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus talks to him about the Law. Then Jesus says, "Here is the bottom line. Go, sell everything you have, give to the poor, then come & follow me."
You see, Jesus is telling him to become just like the widow, just like the tax-collector, just like the children. He is saying, "Empty yourself of yourself, because it is not until you do that that you are a candidate to receive the blessings that I am anxious to give you."
ILL. John Redhead tells about a man walking along with a bucket filled with water. He said, "Just suppose for a moment that the bucket of water represents your will for yourself. All your dreams, all your ambitions, everything that you hope will come true for you."
But then someone offers to give you all the precious oil that you can carry. And let’s suppose that the precious oil represents God’s will for your life. Now he said, "It just makes sense that you can’t take the oil & put it in the bucket filled with water because there isn’t any room left in that bucket. Besides that, oil & water don’t mix."