We continue today in the series of Knowing God. Some people treat the subject pretty lightly. They have their mind made up about the world, how the universe functions, and they feel they know enough about God to get by. But Lordy, Lordy we are going to be in heaven for trillions of years, and we will still not exhaust discovering who our God is. We are like the child who has just learned to take 5 steps without falling. That child cannot begin to conceive that there is a life ahead of them of millions of steps. Folks we have only taken a few steps to knowing God. There are so many more.
Today we are talking about knowing God as Lord and primarily in Jesus Christ. I have found that in our churches we talk easily about Jesus as our Savior, Friend, Healer, Teacher and The One who extends grace. But we don’t always talk about what it means for Him to be our Lord. I looked up the Old and New Testament references to God and Jesus as Lord and it is used almost 1400 times. Apparently it is pretty important in God’s plan for us to know this. The Word for Lord in the New Testament is Kurios and it also means master or owner.
I was thinking again of how I came to know Christ as my Lord after a college friend posted some pictures on my face-book. There we were sitting long hair, jeans, and granny glasses. My son saw it and he said, Dad you were even holding a flower, but I said that was from some banquet we had. But we sure looked hippy dippy. But we were not high on drugs, we were excited about knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior. God took people hooked on drugs and alcohol, people so depressed they were suicidal and changed their life, when they made Him their Lord.
One of the guys in those pictures was John Prestwood. John had been in an accident in high school and both of his legs were severed. On one occasion I was talking to him and I said John you amaze me at how you get around with two prostheses and I never hear you complain. He said J. D. God saved my life, and He showed me that these prostheses are now my legs. They actually feel like real legs to me, and I can get around just about like anyone else except on uneven ground. Wow. When Jesus is our Lord He changes our whole perspective.
It is when we give up our will, when we turn over to God our dreams, and the direction of our life that real fulfillment comes. Now it can be hard to think about giving someone else the control of your life. But allowing Christ to work does not take away our freedom. We don’t become robots, but rather God unleashes in us a greater freedom to use our unique gifts and talents. We also begin to live in a way, where God’s strength and guidance is always with us. If we began to work with God, to check with Him on all our decisions to see if it is the best thing, we would find so much more peace and fulfillment.
Now let’s understand that Jesus is the Lord over the universe, but he wants to be the Lord of your life right now.
Jesus Wants to Be The Lord of How We Use Our Time.
Think of how we use our time. Often time gets away from us and we feel that it has been wasted. There are 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week. God has a better idea of how we could craft our time for life to be more satisfying. We are so driven to always be doing something productive, we need to realize God also created us to have down-time. God rested and He wants us to rest. God wants you to take care of yourself, to rest and enjoy recreation even more then you do.
Most of us think we know what is best for our lives, but we don’t take care of ourselves as we should. We don’t get enough rest, we don’t exercise, or eat properly.
When Jesus is the Lord, we can give ourselves permission to do that. I am learning that as a pastor. I am taking a day off in the middle of the week, if I miss my day off for a few weeks. I am taking more time for walking, hiking, and even doing some kayaking. Half of our pastors who burn out don’t take time. It is because we can’t say no, but it is also that sometimes people can’t accept hearing no too.
Jesus wants to be Lord over our families. We live in a world with computer, tv, cell phone, I pad, and enotebook, and Ipod that you can be in your own little world all day long. We are in danger of losing communication. Play a game with your kids, take a walk with your spouse, read together and share thoughts, do a project and for heavens sakes pray together. I have gone on hikes with David and kayaking with Bethany and they have been some of the best times of our life. When Jesus is my Lord I will be led to use my time wisely in every area. Ephesians 5:15 says be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time for the days are evil.
Friends we live in a wonderful age, but there is also much evil that can prey on those we love. There are so many temptations and pitfalls. How horrible to think that a parent may have lose a child because they did not build enough of a relationship with them. When Jesus Christ is our Lord we will be God’s instrument to be a positive influence, to be a defense, and to be a resting place for those we love who are tempted to get in trouble. I have a family member back East who is really troubled and who is rejecting her parents love and protection. She has made her self vulnerable to some really unhealthy wacky people. We all felt so helpless, but we have to wait on God, and pray and trust Jesus as the Lord. Jesus as the Lord is a deliverer. He can watch over and guard our families if we allow him. Guard your kids, Guard your wives, Guard your family. But do it with the power of Jesus as Lord.
When we allow Christ to be Lord we will be moved to pray more with them and to plant words of hope instead of just correction, because we can trust Jesus to be the Lord over their life. When Jesus is Lord he will give us such a passion to love our families. Some of you have not had a good talk with your husband, wife, child or grandchild in months. When Jesus Christ is Lord He can overcome long term failures too. Mike Slaughter shared with us last week at Hearts Strangely Warmed that he and his wife grew to a place where they really did not like one another. But they sat down and said, we both know Christ, He is the Lord in charge of our lives and we need to work this out. He said they stayed in the marriage even though in many ways they could not stand one another. That was 18 years ago and he says they love one another more then ever. Ephesians says that when Jesus is our Lord we will love our wives as Christ loved the church, sacrificially, and wives will do the same with their husbands. Let Him be the Lord over you and your family.
We need Jesus Christ to reign over every area of our life. He can also keep us from worrying. One of the biggest struggles we all face is being anxious about troubles in life. But when we say Jesus be the Lord of my life, then we can give to Him the problems that torment us. We need to say, Lord, this is bigger then me, but not bigger then you. When you accept how powerful Christ is then you can have hope for every single piece of turmoil in your life. You begin to see that there is nothing too big for God. Not a sickness, not a misdirected family member, not an ornery person at work, and not anything that someone else tries to do to you. If Jesus is the Lord of your life you will let stuff go. You will be freed. Nothing can bind you anymore, if you let Him be the Lord. As Philippians 4 says, He can guard your heart and mind with peace.
When Jesus Christ is the Lord over our lives, He can guide us in every area of need including finances. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4, and my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. If we are going to have Jesus be the Lord of our finances then we have to acknowledge that it all belongs to Him. We have to have this overarching conviction that it is all His, and He gives us the right to use it. And it is not how much you have, but it is how we use it and give Him the Lordship over it. That starts I believe by tithing. People say how am I going to tithe if I lose my job? You owe nothing if we lose your job, because 10% of nothing is nothing.
There was a man by the name of Richard, who had been out of work off and on for 3 years. During that time he also ended up in the hospital and almost died from a disease. Richard had been a key leader in his church, had tithed, and had done many projects to make it more beautiful. He was no slouch, and used his many talents to do projects for his friends and neighbors earning a livable income. But it was tough. One day he confided in his pastor that it was really beating him down. They had prayer in the back yard and asked the Lord to provide for Richard who had been so faithful. Doors started opening for jobs but then they fell through. He was disheartened again, but a few months later a call came back, we need you. He received so many blessings he could hardly count them all. He and the pastor remarked that it was the day when they prayed and asked Jesus to be the Lord that made it happen.
Secondly Jesus Christ not only wants to be Lord of our personal lives, Lord of our families, but also…
II. Jesus Christ Wants to be the Lord of His Church.
Philippians says that there is coming a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess in heaven that Jesus Christ is the Lord. But the church should be a place where knees and hearts should already be bowed. You know it really cost the early church something to declare that Jesus was their Lord. Rome felt that to declare a dead man as Lord was in direct conflict with the reign of Caesar. To declare Christ as Lord could mean the loss of property, home, family, and job. It could mean prison, torture and death. It is so easy for us to say that Jesus is our Lord, and not really be yielded to God.
But the Church of Jesus Christ should be a place where we empty ourselves as Jesus did and think of how we can work together to meet the needs of others, especially those who have not yet come. Across this stated hundreds of United Methodist Churches have closed. In the Detroit Metropolitan area it is getting close to 100 that have closed since 1965. There are many reasons why churches have closed. One of the greatest is they stopped reaching out and touching new lives. But another significant reason is that people just could not get along, work out differences, or settle factions. People just kept being critical, throwing stones at one another.
Do you remember when you were a kid, you liked to throw stuff. We threw apples, walnuts, and stones. It was fun just to let it fly and see what you could hit. One time I threw a stone at the neighbor boy just to scare him. The stone hit him right in the head, and he went into the house bleeding and crying. I felt terrible actually and said I was really sorry. But I think sometimes as adults that we still like to throw stuff. We don’t intend to hurt anyone, but we do. You know Jesus said that he that is without sin let them cast the first stone. But we are often the first to throw stones. Why is that? It is because we act like we have no sin.
When Jesus is your Lord you will throw less stones. A house divided against itself Jesus said will fall. We need to listen to one another’s ideas. We need to ask, Lord could my opinion be wrong? I have done that a number of times. Lord how would you like to shape this ministry that we could really be effective in helping people know Christ, and find the hope and healing they need. Lord show us who we need to reach that we are missing. It can just wear us out when we have factions. We can’t do God’s work.
One of the things we have to be careful of is the ministries of the church often gravitate towards meeting the needs of those already in God’s house. But Jesus said we were always to be going out. He is the Lord of the harvest and He says that the fields are ripe and ready for harvest. In Acts 2:47 it says that Jesus the Lord added to the church daily. If our ministry is not growing in a consistent fashion, maybe we are not submitted to Jesus the Lord. Maybe we are doing our own thing, and missing God’s thing. If Christ is the Lord, we will go out into the highways and byways and bring them in.
A young lady came through the front door this week, I did not know her, and so I said are you looking for pasties. She said no, I am looking for a church. I said wow that is great. She was a young mother with children. She had seen the sign for alive and for Wednesday night worship. We have a number of new young single mothers coming to this ministry for their children every Wednesday. That is the kind of outreach we desperately need. Some new people are also coming from the food bank. I feel the presence of the Lord every time I walk in their, because we are touching lives.
When Jesus Christ is the Lord of the church, then we will be people who depend more on Him in prayer. Because we will realize we can’t do it ourselves. Jesus said my house shall be a house of prayer. We have seen a lot of things come to pass through prayer. When churches stop praying things start to fall apart. How are we going to get the Marching orders of our Commander in Chief unless we talk to Him and listen to Him? When we wait on God in prayer then he leads us.
If Jesus is our Lord, we also need to be people of the Word. John 1 says Jesus is the Living Word. His Words are a light to our path and a lamp to our feet. Without it we are in darkness. One of the reasons I encouraged James Pepper with his illuminated bible, was because I felt that it would draw people back to the Word. By the way after a great struggle of decades, you can now get his bible online, on Ipad, and other notebooks. God is blessing him. He thanks you. You were mentioned again in a national magazine, the interpreter. Check it out in the office.
But we are in a crisis today with the Word of God. Some in the emerging church are questioning the authority of the whole counsel of God. People are saying it is not what you believe but what you do. But we have a different tradition. It was a passion for the Words of Christ that drove John Wesley to reach out to meet the basic needs of others. He did it more faithfully then any other religious leader of his day. He went to slaves, to native Americans, to those in prison, to those in the mental asylum, because he loved the Word and believed its commands. He loved the Word, so much that he and his followers were called bible moths, bible bigots. When Jesus is our Lord, we will love the word and do what it says.
III. Finally when Jesus is the Lord, we will Care About All the world. We need to care for people in Swartz Creek. Because of our concern we had a dream to construct a building to meet the needs of people every day. I took Dr. Allie on a tour of our building this week and he said, he was amazed at all that was going on. We will continue to set the pace for reaching our town. But if Jesus Christ is the Lord we will not stop there. In Matthew 28 He said, all authority had been given to Him…and by that authority He said we were to go into all the world. Like the disciples if He is your Lord, you will care about the whole world.
Jesus said, not me, go into all the world. Go to Haiti, where people have no homes, no jobs, and few supplies at all…go to Sierra Leone where the nation still rebuilds after its civil wars, go to the Estonia where only 1 % if the people of the people go to church. Go to Dafur where thousands die each day. And go to Bethlehem where some of the poorest children in the world exist. This Christmas we will sing oh Little town of Bethlehem with nostalgia, but the land of Jesus birth, needs our prayers and gifts because like in the day of Jesus they are suffering again. Today boxes will go all over the world from Operation Christmas Child. You are making a difference…Let Jesus be The Lord.