Summary: Traveling the Narrow Road of Christ means letting go of bitterness and unforgiveness

Theme: letting go of bitterness..grabbing hold of forgiveness

Purpose: Because Jesus gave his life for me—I will sacrifice my ‘right’ to bitterness and anger—I will let go!

I am going to brag this morning. Is it ok to brag once in a while? I want to tell you that I am involved with a great group of guys that is meeting weekly in our church. We are reading generous sections of God’s Word and then talking about it together, praying for each other, holding each other accountable. It’s our Life Transformation Group. It is great and I appreciate each of the guys in my group. Men, if you are looking for something like this, talk to me. As I said, we read lots of Scripture through the week, and one of the passages happened to be Matthew chapter 10, where Jesus empowered the 12 disciples to heal and cast out demons and then He sent them out preaching for Him before the crucifixion.

And when I study, I use my NIV and other study materials, but when I am just reading for me, sometimes I like to use the Message paraphrase. And as I read Matthew 10, it jumped off the page at me. Let me show you.

“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchable. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.” Matthew 10:5-8 MSG

We have spent time this past several months talking about what it means to be the church in our neighborhood—meeting the real needs of people. This morning we will/have planned some meal ministry time with a partner church in Detroit. We have spent time talking this past month about living generously because God has been generous to us. All those things are very good, but you know what hit me? Two words, “travel light”.

Jesus obviously meant, don’t load up the donkey with tons of stuff, just go and let me, let God take care of you. But the Lord seemed to turn over those two words in my mind—so much so I changed the title of the sermon mid-week as the Lord kept revealing more to me. Travel light. What does it mean for you and I to travel light in this life? Most of us are not full time pastors or evangelists so we’re off the hook right?

Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 5. Paul writes to the church at Ephesus about “traveling light” in this life. While Jesus was addressing the disciples’ physical concerns about where to stay and what to eat, Paul wants to address the spiritual concerns of “traveling light”. What are the things that keep you up at night? What are the things you worry about? What are the weights in your life that keep you from being the most effective Christian you can be? Paul jumps right into the heart of the matter in Ephesians 5:1 when he says,

“Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Oh, that’s rich pastor. Imitate God. Right. How do I do that with a husband or wife like mine? How do I do that with kids like mine? In my school? How do I do that in MY work environment? How can I love them when they just keep making me mad! It’s not my fault they are a bunch of jerks! It would kill me to love them like Jesus!

And that is the point. Because to imitate God means we have to give up the rights to our lives—just as Jesus did, as a sacrifice to God. Some of you are ready this morning to give up the humdrum life of Christianity to enter into something deeper, something more rich, more fulfilling, and I am telling you—it comes at the crisis of sacrifice—laying down our rights—it means traveling light.

So we know we should be imitators of God if we want to live the way God intended for us. As we look at our passage in Ephesians 5, it is clear that 5:1-2 is a summation of what Paul has been talking about in chapter 4. How do we travel light? How are we to be imitators of God?

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