Summary: Series focuses Biblical characters who made serious mistakes and what we can do to avoid them and better follow Christ.
Avoiding Costly Mistakes at All Costs - Our Plans
Pastor Don Jones
West Glendale Baptist Church
The word disciple occurs in the New Testament 261 times. Jesus called His disciples and Jesus calls us to be disciples. The Greek word for disciple is properly translated, "learner". In the Greek world disciples were allowed to select their teacher and would follow that teacher’s particular "theology".
Jesus differs in that He calls us, we do not call Him, and perhaps it is because we are called to an extreme life style. Unfortunately, far too many believe that receiving Jesus as Lord is the end of their commitment and not the beginning. The word disciple implies life long learning.
But how do we learn? I believe there are three readily accepted methods of learning. We have looked at these before but let me take a minute or two to remind you.
The first and most obvious method of learning is formal education. Public schools or private schools for the early years and college or university for the later years are forms of this education. Depending on the college or university it can cost between ten and forty thousand dollars a year. The four years required for most degrees makes this a costly method of learning. Even the disciples learned in this manner. Jesus taught, they listened, and they learned, right? Wrong! While this is the most common, it is not always the most effective.
The second method of learning is known as "the school of hard knocks". This too is costly. You might make a mistake that could cost financially, physically, or spiritually. Many people go bankrupt because of one mistake. Some lose their lives because of foolish mistakes. Others lose eternity because of misguided pride. Costly mistakes but for most of us, we remember what we learned.
The final method of learning is what we are going to concentrate on for the next few weeks. The series is entitled, "Avoiding Costly Mistakes At All Costs". We are going to focus on the mistakes of others. The Bible never sugar coats the accounts found within. We get real pictures of real people making costly mistakes. It is a less costly method of learning and if we can learn from others mistakes, perhaps we can avoid them and save ourselves a lot of grief.
In the Middle East lives have been lost, both Arab and Jew. A cease fire has been declared but I do not think I am the only one who believes it will be an end to the hostility. More lives will be lost. History paints a clear picture of seething hatred between Arab and Jew.
I have said before that the deep rooted hatred today can be traced back to its beginnings at a point in history described in Genesis. Because of a costly mistake of old, people continue to pay the price today. How do we avoid this costly mistake? Let’s look at what scripture says.
Cue slide - The Blessing of God
God had called Abram. He said in 12:1,
Leave your country, your people and your father¡¦s household and go to the land I will show you.
God gives Abram a tremendous blessing\promise for both present and the future. It encompasses every aspect of Abram’s life. He says in verses 2-3,
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
The next verse says,
So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.
Abram demonstrates to all of us unquestioning obedience to God. He doesn’t even ask the "where" or the "why", he simply gets up and goes. If we were this obedient, we would make great strides for the kingdom. Abram leaves, with God’s blessing and promise, on a new adventure.
Cue slide - The Doubt
Abram changes his perspective in chapter 15. Abram has seen and experienced some hard times. He has continued on his journey, and made several mistakes. He has gone after and helped rescue Lot. His travels have taken him to meet with the rich and famous. In chapter 15:1 God gives Abram a vision of encouragement. He says,
Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.
Almost immediately Abram voices an immediate concern. He has looked at the promise and looked at his life and he comes to a disconcerting conclusion. His servant Eliezer of Damascus will get the inheritance. Put simply, he has no children and he is really old. Most of us would say hallelujah!