Mark 8:34… Jesus said if anyone want to be my follower, that person must put aside all of their selfish ambition, and then shoulder their cross and follow him.
He said if we try to keep our lives for ourselves, we will lose it. But, if we give up our lives for his sake and for the sake of the good news of the gospel, we will find true life. And how do we benefit if we gain the whole world but lose our on soul in the process? Is anything worth more than our soul? If a person is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, I the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my father with the holy angles.
Are you ashamed of Jesus?
Do you deny Jesus?
Are you a Follower of Jesus or just a Fan of Jesus?
A follower is someone who seeks to be like the one they follow. Someone who studies under and spends time with the one they are following.
On the other hand a fan is described as an “enthusiastic admirer.”
Now, are you a follower of Jesus or simply a fan of Jesus? Now before you answer that I want you to listen to what I have to say today.
I believe the church has become an arena where we have many fans but very few real followers.
I say this because as I look back at the church when it first began and I see how much we who call ourselves Christians have changed and moved away from the way the church was in the first century –it appears to me that we don’t take church, worship or meeting together as members of the family of God to serious.
All of us will take time out to get with our human families. We will go out of our way and make necessary and unnecessary sacrifices to see to it that our spouses, and our children get everything they want.
But when it comes to our Christian family, unless we really like them we hardly even speak to them on Sunday when we gather for worship, those of us who can find the time to get here.
I’ve always been a little naive and sentimental when it comes to God’s word. I like to think that when I read the scriptures with an open mind and an open heart with a sincere desire to hear what God has to say to me —that God will speak to me through His word.
I’m just naïve enough to think that when Jesus says we are to love one another as he loved us that that is what we should be doing.
I like to think that when Jesus says we are to put aside our selfish ambitions if we want to follow him—that is exactly what he means. Amen.
I’m just naïve enough to believe that if we continue denying Christ and continue seeking after our own selfish ambitions,
That if we continue seeking after the pleasures of the world instead of honestly seeking to develop a closer and more personal relationship with Jesus Christ
we will lose the most important thing in life and that is life itself.
I believe this because Jesus said it. And I am just naïve enough to believe what I read in the bible.
The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18: I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. And the scriptures say: “I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas.”
Paul was trying to get through to the people that the wisdom and knowledge of those who were doing their own thing, those who were perishing because of their refusal to follow Christ was nothing but foolishness!
The teachings of Jesus are hard to accept because it goes against our natural desire to seek after worldly pleasures.
If we are to follow Jesus it means flushing everything we have been taught and believe.
It means we have to establish a whole new set of priorities, and let’s face it folks, there are not too many of us who are willing to do that.
I want to share something with you.
The longer I’m in the ministry the more amazed I am at how God will work with us if we are willing to surrender.
The more I grow in my own relationship with Christ the more I understand what it means to shoulder our cross.
I know what it means to stop seeking after the treasures of this world.
I understand about what it means to love one another as I love myself.
Each and every one of you sitting here today matter to me.
I see each and everyone of you as a child of the living God and what happens to you matters to me. I hope you believe that and don’t take anything I say personally—but try to understand that I am only trying to help you get your priorities in order when it comes to following Christ.
When the Holy Spirit first came on the church—Christians were shouting the name of Jesus from rooftops and going door to door to tell others about the good news. They were sharing Jesus with their neighbors even though it could cos them their freedom of their very lives.
I pray for that same Holy Spirit that came on Pentecost, to come and move upon First UMC and not only on us but on Christians all over this country—so we can put Christ back in America before it is too late.
I am convinced that the reason God’s church is not having more of an impact on the world is because God’s leaders are not setting the example that the world needs to follow.
To many Christian pastors and teachers have settled for going along and getting along rather than to teach and preach God’s word the way it is written.
2 timothy 4:3 says that: A time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell tehm whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.
Doesn’t that sound like the way it is today.
If preacher preaches a sermon that makes you feel guilty, he or she gets accused of beating up on the congregation.
Pastor I think that sermon was too hard. I’ve had a rough week and I came here to be uplifted.
I’m sorry—the Gospel of Jesus Christ is only uplifting to his followers not his fans. If you feel like you’ve been beat up on ask yourself why.
Ask yourself is it because of what I said or because of the way it made you feel?
One thing I’ve learned is that followers of Jesus don’t feel beat up on when they hear the truth. It is only his fans that get this feeling.
A lot of preachers have decided to just go along and preach those middle of the road sermons that don’t do anything but entertain.
A lot of preachers have decided that confrontation is not worth it and they tell you what you want to hear and things that will make you feel good about yourself so you will like them.
Well, if that is the kind of pastor you want, you need to let me know so I can have the DS start looking for my replacement—because as long as I am here I am going to tell you what God puts on my heart and if it that rubs you the wrong way I’m sorry but my goal is to please God.
We have reached a point where the world sets the standards and the churches are following.
For example: 60 years ago when TV first became popular, you could sit down with your family, watch almost any channel without fear of having something come across the screen that was inappropriate for you or your child.
That’s something else I don’t quite understand. Movies are rated so we know what is inappropriate for children.
My question is if its inappropriate for children-shouldn’t it be inappropriate for adults as well?
What does age have to do with watching smut?
Anyway getting back to my text.
If we, those of us who call ourselves Christians don’t start straitening up, standing up, and speaking up for what we believe and stop going along just to get along—the church as we know it will continue to lose it power and its influence.
And those of us who call ourselves Christians if we continue to deny the one who gave us everything, if we continue to remain silent if fear of possibly being ridiculed or laughed at or offending someone, we will be adding to everything that discredits the church and lifts up the world.
Please turn in your bibles to Matthew 10:32…READ
32If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my father in heaven.
33But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.
34"Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword.
Jesus didn’t come here to make friend he came to save souls! Amen
35 I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36Your enemies will be right in your own household!
37If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.
38If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.
39If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.
40"Anyone who welcomes you is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.
41If you welcome a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will receive the same reward a prophet gets. And if you welcome good and godly people because of their godliness, you will be given a reward like theirs.
42And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded."
Real love cannot be separated from truth and obedience. First we must believe that the principles found in God’s Word are true and that God himself is truth.
Then if we believe God’s Word is true, we must follow(obey it). God’s word tells us to love one another, if we are committed to following the truth we must love.