To our Pastor, Reverend Brown, Officers of the Church, Members, Guest and friends….I thank you for this opportunity….to share the Good News with you. As I began to prepare for this sermon…..my first sermon….I naturally began to feel some nerves. I got right down scared….But It didn’t make any sense….In the world….in my day job….I speak to people all of the time….and have given many briefing and presentations. But then it hit me….and I was comforted by God’s grace and a story of a young man. This young man was carrying his cross and he went to God and said this cross is too heavy for me to carry. And God told him to go to the other room and put it down and select another cross to carry. Well…the young man looked, and looked….and looked and finally found a little tiny cross. So he took that cross and went back to God. And God asked him if he had found another cross that he could carry…and he said yes….I found this small….tiny cross…..and the Lord looked at him and said…Son that’s the same cross you came in here with. You know the lord never puts more on you than you can handle….
A men…A men…In the midst he’ll be there. Its GOOD….to be in the house of the Lord. I can’t think of a better place….to be….than here…praising Our God. A men. Its SOMETHING about praising God…that gets me all excited…..like a little boy…on the first day of school. He can’t wait to put on those new clothes and show out. That’s how I am come Sunday morning. I just can’t wait to put on my suit…and come to praise God. *** I JUST GET EXCITED…..and you ought to be excited. If the person NEXT to you isn’t excited…then something wrong. You ought to….we all ought to be excited……My God’s the same God that woke you UP….this morning……CLOTHED in your right mind….you ought to be excited. He’s the SAME GOD who put food on your table…clothes on your back and a roof over your head….you ought to be excited….Listen to me now…..He’s the same God that sent Moses to see Pharoah… and Noah to build an Ark….you ought to be excited….He’s the same God that PROTECTS YOU from harm and heals you when your sick….you ought to be excited…He’s the same God. The same God of yesterday, today, and tommorrow. Ahhhhh…I just get excited. We can get excited for the Betty Wright or Puff Daddy concert…we need to get excietd for God. Tell your neighbor……Get excited….I’m excited this morning. My God. A men… Ya know….people get excited and serious about some of the wildest things.
I have heard and seen on TV how folks will camp out for days…in order to see a concert. Now to me….that doesn’t make any sense..its not like its football or something. Now that’s something we can get serious about…..we like our football…don’t we. You may be for Alabama State, Tuskegee, A&M, Bama, Auburn, or Troy State. It doesn’t matter. It’s the same…we take it seriously. If you are an Alabama Fan….you like two teams each week. Alabama and whoever is playing Auburn.
Now as I started to get all rilled up for the football season this year….it struck me how there are other things worth getting serious about. Things that if we have an casual attitude about some things…..it will get us into big trouble. For example, someone who is packing a parachute can’t afford to do a sloppy job. The young man or woman…who puts on that parachute….doesn’t think twice…about the chute opening….they simply step out of the plane in Faith…..that the parachute will open. But even more importantly, far more importantly, we need to be serious about our relationship with God. I often believe that we…..us church folk…..we christians…..that one of our biggest problems….is that we take ourselves too seriously, but don’t take God seriously enough. We didn’t like that one did we?….I’m talking about myself too…..I’ll say it again…..
I often believe… that our biggest problem….is that we take ourselves too seriously…..and don’t tak God seriously enuff. Brothers and Sisters in Christ…..Being a Christian is serious business…it’s a 24 hour job…take a break and Satan is there to keep you company.
The scripture or main text this morning is found in Genesis Chap 11: verses 1 - 9….we find the title of today’s message is….Getting Serious About God. (wait a bit and then say starting with verse 1)
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Lets stop right here for a moment.
I don’t know if you realize it or not, but every one in this church is part of a minority group. Now many of you are saying…young preacher….I lived the fact of being an minority in the 40s, 50s, and 1960s….I know I’m a monority. But that’s not what I’m talking about…..we here…all speak English…did you know that…LESS THAN 10% of the people in the world speak English. Now some of our young people speak a different English than us…..now don’t’ they…with their phrases like: I’m bout it bout it….and It’s All Good. Now let me just say to the young people….because I remember the Pastor said that people REMEMBER….15 seconds of preaching. So here’s 15 seconds for the young folks.
IF YOU WANT TO HAVE SUCCESS…YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING…TO BE BLING BLINGING AND ROLLING THE 64…YOU GOT TO BE BOUT IT..BOUT IT WITH GOD…HE CAN GIVE YOU JOY ON DOVE…DON’T KEEP HIM ON THE DOWN LOW…RAISE UP…CAUSE ITS ALL GOOD…BELIEVE THAT.
Some estimates are that there are around 500 million people on planet earth that are English speakers, while over twice that many speak Chinese.
There are Over 200 different languages are spoken and there are also another 2000 dialects that people use. It is interesting that many linguists….people who study languages, have finally decided that the Bible has been right all along. They agree that there was initially only one human language. So, how did we get from one to 200? Linguists have a variety of explanations, but I’m convinced the best and true answer is found in Genesis 11, the story of the Tower of Babel. Babel can be translated into meaning confusion. Our text today, not only tells us why some folks speak English, while others speak Finnish, and others speak Swahili, but it also has a very important lesson for us ….reminding us on how we need to be serious about God.
Let’s look at the story of Babel. The events recorded in Genesis 11…occur between the times of NOAH and ABRAHAM. Biblical experts generally agree that its is hard to get precise dates from the book of Genesis….but our story took place a FEW THOUSAND YEARS AFTER NOAH. In the 2nd verse we see it that the people have moved eastward and found a plain in Shinar and settled there. Trouble is around the corner. Throughtout the gospel when-ever someone heads east, there is trouble. Now, this doesn’t mean you should not go to Virginia this week, but it is interesting.
When Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden….they move east of Eden. When Cain left the presence of the Lord….he went east to Nod. Lot will settle east of Sodom. So here in Genesis 11, the people head east and end up in the plain of Shinar, which is in modern Iraq.
When the people arrive in their new home, they were Godly folk but they changed. They started a building project. In verse 4 it says that: Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." Now, maybe that doesn’t seem like a terrible thing to do. But it is. The biggest problem is their motive for building. As we can see in the story of Cain and Abel…..MOTIVES DO matter to God. WHY we do something…..is just as important as what we do. What was wrong with their motives?
Well, they were trying to make a name for themselves. THEY WERE LOOKING…for fame. And as they do this, the people were totally…ignoring God. At Babel, they declared their independence from the Lord. "We can take care of ourselves. We don’t need God." Since they forgot about God as they made their plans, it is no surprise that the Lord’s plans are a bit different from theirs.
God’s response to the peoples plans for building their huge skyscraper is in verses 6-9…. The Lord said, 6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Genesis 11 is about conflicting plans and also provides us a family tree of sorts in the remaining verses. What happened here? The people wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to accomplish something of which they can be proud. But God has another plan. Oh, yes, He lets them make a name for them-selves: "Babel." Throughout history it will be a name synonymous with failure.
Everything backfires at Babel, but that’s no surprise. Human beings are no match for God. When there are conflicts between God’s plans and man’s plans, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is going to win. If I went golfing with Tiger Woods, I’m not going to say it is a "surprise" if he beats me. From this story we are reminded that man is not God. God is God. If that’s true….and you believe that God is God… it is then foolish to ignore the Lord while making plans and living life. When we do this…we are not taking God seriously.
We need to be serious about our relationship with God. (PAUSE)
When I think about what happened in Genesis to the people of Babel, it reminds me of many Christians today. A lot of people are interested in God. But they make the same mistake as in our story. They have a casual attitude toward God. I think that "many folks would like to go to church and buy $3-worth of God…they just want God to give them a little something…something.
THEY WANT enough God to make them comfortable; Enough GOD to give them hope when they feel down; and Enough GOD to comfort them when death strikes. BUT THEY don’t want too much God. THEY DON’T want so much God that they have to change their priorities. THEY DON’T want so much God that they have to reach out and love people who are different. THEY don’t want so much God that they have to start treating Him as more important than anything else. Many folks prefer about $3-worth of God." But God isn’t on mark down at Kmart….he’s a proud God. I sometimes hear people say, "Yes, it is good to believe in God; it is good to go to church, but just don’t start taking that stuff too seriously." Many folks prefer a casual attitude toward God. But, our text today shows us that if you don’t get carried away with God…and start to think that we are the reason for the seasons….then our actions can lead to disaster.
So how do we avoid a casual attitude toward God? First of all, we must take God’s commands seriously. Sometimes we think, "Well, I will obey God if it is convenient or if it is not too much trouble." Kind of like a child who mom says, "You have to eat your vegetables before you can have dessert." That was an easier command to obey when we were having corn-on-the-cob than when we were having okra.
Most of us don’t mind obeying when it fits in with what we already want to do. But, we need to remember that selective obedience, obeying only when we want to, is not obedience at all. It is merely convenience. Many of us find that some of God’s commands are easy to fit into our plans. The Bible teaches about excessive alcohol….If we don’t like alcohol anyway…then that is an easy command to obey. But there are others which are not as easy. Listen, for example, to Matthew 5:23,24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." In other words, BEFORE you come to church, MAKE SURE things are right between YOU and YOUR FELLOW Christians. Now… do we take this command of God seriously?…How many times….have we come to church mad at our family, friends, or someone who cut in front of us on the highway. We need to get Serious about God. Satan will steal your joy if you let him. Another example of getting serious in our daily lives can be found in, Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”. How often do we see Christians who get very upset because the only perspective they can see is how something affects them. They fail to take that command seriously.
They are focused on themselves….they are the center of the universe. They are always talking about how they have….well I’m hear to tell ya …that’s its not about me, its not about them…its about God and what ever you have…GOD GAVE IT TO YA….the custom suit on your body…GOD GAVE IT TO YA…..That new car that you drove up in….GOD GAVE IT TO YA……the fine jewerly and fancy furniture……GOD GAVE IT TO YA….Your family and friends…..GOD GAVE IT TO YA… it wasn’t you….it wasn’t me…..it was God…and we ought to be excited this morning . Tell somebody…its not ….God gave it to me.
We are not the center. We need to remember our new attitude in being serious about God. Patti Labelle had a song which spoke about a new attitude. We all should have a new attitude when we come to our God. A word that the Bible uses to describe this change of attitude is repentance. One definition is this….."Repentance is no less than a restructuring of our world view, with the result that God, rather than man, is placed at the center of the universe." We are not the center. Most people used to think that the earth was in the center of the universe and the sun and all the other planets revolved around the earth. Then a fellow named Copernicus came along and said, "Wait a minute.
The earth is not even the center of the solar system. The sun is. The earth, like the other planets, revolves around the sun." Copernicus, who happened to be a devout Christian Scientist and convinced almost everyone he was right, and today we even speak of the Copernican Revolution. Our repentance is a similar revolution in getting serious about God. God, not us, is at the center and is the most important being in the universe. We are not the center, our families are not the center…are jobs are not the center….the center belongs to God. We must stop trusting in ourselves and put our faith in Jesus Christ and acknowledge God’s rightful place in the center of reality. The time is now….there are people hurting, experiencing financial pain, tired, young women concerned about images, young men trying to fit in, married couples fighting to keep it together…there are many who are …weary…..weary means without pleasure.
Satan will hold pleasure hostage if he can….how do we get it back…through getting serious.
The Bible contains many other commands which God has given us, all of which He expects us to obey them all completely. Not to treat them like the speed limit of 70 mph…so I can ignore that and drive 77 mph…and get mad when we get a ticket. That’s what we do…if we are not living right….if we are not serious…when trouble comes…we sometimes ask why….or even blame God. Disobeying God always has consequences…we need to be serious about God.
I’m almost finish now…..getting serious about God involves a variety of things, but it includes our attitude toward church. There are folks, maybe even some here, who go to a church because of the nice music, the friendly people, and because they just enjoy being in church. They think of it as kind of a big club. But the church is not a club, it is the people of God. We are called not just to enjoy each other’s company, but to honor and serve the Lord. We need to take that responsibility seriously. Do we do that? Ask yourself this question: If I were as committed to my job only as much as I am committed to my church, what would my boss say? Would I be fired? Friends, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty.
That is serious stuff.
It is more important than anything else in the world. GOD has brought us a mighty long way..GOD IS GOOD. FROM hardly any food on the table, to a freezer full of food….huh…..y’all don’t hear me….from a place of no account…. To a nice bank account. From shoes with holes in them to get me where I’m going…to two fine cars to take me where I please….from a small aparment…to a fine home with lanscaping…….thank God…that God has brought us so far. We’ve been brought so far….that we can’t leave him behind. If God has called you to work on a farm, teach school, or sell insurance, that is what you should be doing. But, don’t ever forget that nothing matters more than the work of the church of Jesus Christ.
Let me say it this way….A boy was watching his dog chase a rabbit out in a field. After a few moments, he said, "Dad, is the rabbit really faster than my dog, or why hasn’t he been caught yet?" "Well, son, you have to remember -- your dog is running for his dinner, but that rabbit is running for his life." Friends, it is time that we who are believers in Jesus Christ realize serving God is not just our dinner, it is our life. This is serious stuff. But don’t forget, everyone of you in this room who is truly a Christian is called to serve Jesus Christ. We all took the first step….in accepting Jesus as our saviour.
I’m pulling into the parking lot now…almost done, but I need to make one more brief, but important, point. Taking God seriously increases our joy. Let me say that again….Taking God seriously increases our joy. Satan will steal your joy if you let him. Its time to get serious right now…..today. The world is wicked as it was during the time of Noah’s Ark. There are 8 characteristics of man’s bad ways during Noah’s time…that are alive today….
1,2: People gave into their physical appetites and devotion to pleasure – all around us folks do whatever feels good to them
3: rapid tech: sometimes good but not always….today we are trying to clone men with stem research
4: no concern god: our country was founded with concern for God…now we can’t talk or display religion in schools or court without fear of offending someone
5: materialistic: we are a people who live in excess. Our credit consumer debt is the highest of all times
6. violence and corruption: can’t take a morning walk without a huge stick and polliticians/leaders who break all of the moral standards
7. preoccupied sex: turn on TV…go to the movie…or listen to the radio…
8. organized satanic activity: hate groups, extremist groups, racially motivated crimes
Its time to get serious about God….did you know that the Church of England….is conducting a study to determine of Jesus….. really the son of god……
Brothers and Sisters…are you serious about God? I trust that today the Lord has impressed on your mind and heart that it is time to really start taking Him seriously. In a world…when we take many other things too seriously…..we need to make sure we are serious about the things which really do matter. We don’t need $3 worth of God…I don’t know about you….but I want to be filled…til I overflow….I need to have God as the center of our life….I know that its not about me…its not about you….its not about our friends….its about god…..That he is the reason….that the material things that I have….God gave it to me……that my success and joy…..God gave it to me….that when I’m tired and hurt…God is there…when my heart grows weary….God is there….that my being here today….God called it to be…that he is the same god that taught me as a child…..protects me as an adult….and will walk with me for eternity. Ain’t God good. My God was there for Moses….he’s here for me…and his arms are open for you…but you have be ready and serious.
Closing wrap-up statements.