Summary: The fourth of series on ‘Developing a Heart for God’
(1) Do you know that three months from today is Christmas Eve? (2) And yes, three months tomorrow is Christmas!
When I realized this, I did some research and came across this humorous and poignant story about two things that go together – Christmas and Kids.
(3) ‘A group of first graders decided that they were going to produce their very own Christmas program and so they produced their own updated nativity story.
All the major characters were there – Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men from afar… but where was Mary?
Shortly after the production began, there was heard from behind some bales of straw moaning and groaning – Mary was in labor!
A doctor with a white coat and a black bag was then ushered onto the stage and disappeared with Joseph behind the bales of straw. After a few moments, the doctor emerged from behind the bales of straw with a jubilant smile on his face and holding a baby in his arms.
He then announced to the audience, ‘It’s a GOD!’
It’s a GOD! It’s Emmanuel! It’s ‘God with us!’ It’s Jesus!
(4) This morning we conclude our September series with Jesus as the last of four Biblical examples of what it means to have (or, in the case of Judas, not have) a heart for God.
(5) The first person we studied in our series was Joseph who had an obedient heart for the Lord.
(6) The second person we studied was Judas who, we learned, had a misguided heart for the Lord.
(7) Then last week we studied David who had a pursuing heart for God.
Throughout our series we have been asked, ‘Do you have a heart for God?’ ‘Do you have a passion for God?’ Not for the church or the Christian life or Christian culture but for the Lord Himself?
Again, as we begin this sermon, I ask each of us this morning, ‘Do we have a passion for the Lord?’
In our main text for this morning, we clearly see that total heart; the total passion Jesus had for God the Father. We also feel it because we have been in situations (not has severe as this one however) that has tested our resolve to follow the Lord.
Jesus throughout his earthly ministry demonstrated this total heart for God in two key ways.
(8) He first demonstrated His total heart by (a) His resistance to compromise.
We read of this in Matthew 4:1-13 where Jesus resists the temptations of Satan to compromise Himself and His mission. The temptations that He faced, we face as well.
(b) There is the temptation for instant gratification. Granted, Jesus was in desperate need of food after 40 days of going without it. Yet to take the ‘shortcut’ Satan was offering would have demonstrated a lack of faith in God the Father to provide for a very legitimate need. All of us have legitimate needs for things like food, clothing, shelter, and relationships. Yet when we attempt to obtain them right now in our impatience or anxiety we often make choices that we later regret.
(c) There is the temptation to worship the wrong thing. In the second sermon of this series, we studied the tragic situation of Judas. Part of Judas’ problem is that he wanted to be powerful and he was hoping that Jesus would exercise that power to change things for the better and enable Judas to become powerful. Jesus was not seduced at this point to worship the wrong thing and He would not give in to the temptation to run away or do what many had hoped that he would do in securing the Kingdom of Israel at the critical point He had reached in our main text. We can choose many idols to worship – but in doing so we compromise our heart for the Lord.
(d) There is the temptation to test God’s limits. The final temptation to test the Lord’s limits is tragically demonstrated in the life of Israel’s first king, Saul.
He was smart, intelligent, and very capable. But he also compromised his mission as we read in 1 Samuel 15 when he failed to do what God had told him to do regarding a captured king and his people. Samuel delivers the awful news to Saul in verses 22 and 23, ‘“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you from being king.”
His failure to obey and stay within the mission he had been give tested God’s limits and finally causes the Lord to withdrawal his favor from Saul as king.