Rom 10:16-17 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Several years ago, I met a pastor from Nepal.
He told about the revival happening in his country and the great distances people would travel to hear the Gospel message.
He also told of a group of people that brought a dead man.
He was dead for four days.
At the revival meeting, they prayed over him and he came back to life.
That’s totally unbelievable.
“Lord, who has believed our report?”
If you believe healing a death is impossible then your doubt makes it impossible.
Just because you and I have not witnessed a resurrection does not mean it cannot happen.
Believing begins by faith, not by sight.
I have never seen God, the crucifixion of Jesus, or His resurrection but I believe by faith.
I might add, I have never been to Nepal but I believe it exists.
It is high time the church begins to believe God can and does the unbelievable.
It’s time to start believing the report.
Rom 7:19-20 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
You go around and around the parking lot trying to find a close place to park.
Finally, a car pulls out right at the entrance.
You make a turn down that row and just before you get to the parking space a little car whips into the space.
It is very aggravating and easy to have sinful thoughts or let something awful slip from your lips.
You didn’t want to think it.
You didn’t want to say it.
You didn’t want to shout at the person indicating what kind of idiot they were.
It’s just one example of the many things that can happen to upset your Christianity during a day.
It takes discipline to keep from thinking bad thoughts, saying awful things, or doing stupid acts.
Paul understood this when he wrote in Romans 7.
Like you, he wanted to do good but he did not.
He did not want to do evil but did it anyway.
He realized that sin will always conflict and fight against the spiritual nature of Christianity.
To overcome it you need the help of the Holy Spirit but it also takes a conscientious effort on your part too, that is, discipline.
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
To become a Navy Seal takes some great discipline on the part of the candidates.
A Seal wannabe needs to pass a physical screening test that includes swimming 500 yards in 12.5 minutes or less, followed by a 10-minute rest.
Then do 42 pushups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest.
50 situps in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest.
Six pullups, followed by a 10-minute rest.
Run 1.5 miles in less than 11 minutes.
A trainee will need to discipline their mind and body to continue pushing the limits.
Each has to forsake the desire to stop, which their body screams back at them.
It also takes discipline to become a disciple of Christ.
Jesus says you must forsake all.
My body naturally sins but sin is antichrist.
I must forsake what my body and mind want to do naturally and give in to what the Holy Spirit directs me to do.
To become a Seal you push yourself to do certain physical and mental feats.
To be a disciple of Christ you will push yourself to not do things, like sinful behavior.
Luke 14:27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
If you play a sport you need to have a commitment to the sport.
Let’s take basketball for example.
You will need to listen to the coach and follow the instructions.
You need to work out and build up your speed and stamina.
Practice bouncing the ball and walking or running while doing it.
There is also practice shooting from different approaches to the net.
Then you need to also practice with the rest of the team and against an opponent.
This looks like it will take quite a bit of time out of your day to do all the practicing.
You will really need to commit yourself even more.
You have games to play at different locations, days, and times.
You may play a lot or sit on the bench a lot.
It will interfere with other activities.
You will come home tired.
You will have a few bumps and bruises.
You will win some and lose some.
But if you love the game it will all be worth it.
Jesus says you need commitment to be His disciple.
You need to take up the cross and follow Him.
It also takes listening to the coach (the Holy Spirit), reading your playbook (the Bible), building up stamina (prayer), coming to the team meetings (church), and facing opponents (sharing your faith with others).
It takes commitment to be a disciple but if you love God it will all be worth it.
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
When you get married, many times the vows contain the phrase for the groom and bride to “forsake all others”.
You cannot have a relationship with your wife and still have girlfriends.
You might be friends with some but you cannot hang out with them as you did in the past.
The same is said for the wife.
It’s not that you hate or despise them, but their importance in your life is different.
Your wife or husband becomes the center of your life.
Becoming a Christian is somewhat like that.
You set aside all other relationships for Christ.
In fact, Jesus said you cannot be His disciple unless you do so.
It’s very strong language in today’s verse.
It does not mean to hate as much as it means to love less.
I remember when I first married I would take off my socks in a ball and just throw them on the floor.
Linda informed me she was not my mother and wanted me to pull my socks out of the ball.
She threatened to wash them that way if I continued to wad them up.
It took discipline on my part to retrain myself to pull my socks off straight.
But I did it knowing it would please my wife.
It takes discipline to live a pleasing life for Christ too!
1 Thess 5:1-4 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
While Jesus says no one knows the day and hour of His return, the Bible also tells believers we can know the time and seasons, perhaps the day although not the day and hour together.
Jesus will return like a thief in the night.
Our church was robbed seven times and we never caught them in the act because they all came at night.
However, we did take measures by installing an alarm system and security cameras.
Now they don’t bother with us.
I’m not sure drug dealers make their deals in the parking lot anymore because of the security cameras.
Even though thieves are still around the area they just don’t try to break in anymore.
Likewise, believers are not in darkness so that day catches us unaware.
We positively know Jesus will return.
And in my study of the scripture, I believe He returns on Yom Teruah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets.
Therefore I claim to know the day but I certainly do not know the hour.
Whether I am right or wrong, Jesus is returning so it is high time we prepare for His return and what better way than spreading the gospel message to those that need to hear it.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
As you read the preceding verses 15 to 17 you get the joyful news about the return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the catching up of those saints alive at the time.
Then it says we should comfort one another with these words.
Originally Paul was comforting the Christians at Thessalonica that worried they would never see their long-gone Christian family and friends again.
I take comfort that we will.
I take comfort in Jesus’ return for His very own.
As this world spins out of control with disease, war, financial uncertainty, and political and civil unrest it is high time we comfort others with the message of Christ.
That message is He came and gave His life so that we might be forgiven our sins and saved.
That message is He was dead and buried but He came back and is victorious over death.
That message is He is seated on high and making intercession for us against the adversary.
That message is He has not left us alone in the world but the Holy Spirit fills and guides us every day.
And finally, that message is HE IS COMING BACK!
Matt 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
I’m not a farmer, although I have had my fair share of being in a field picking purple hull peas or butter beans with my grandparents.
Closer to the house was a smaller garden spot for pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
One thing I learned is there is always more to pick.
You can spend an hour on a row of peas and think you got every last one. But turn around and head back down the row and you will pick another half bucket full.
I also learned that if you don’t pick that most things will spoil and become unusable.
Tomatoes and peppers will begin to rot, while the peas and beans become hard and dry.
Jesus said the harvest was ready but there aren’t enough laborers.
You can present the gospel to 15 people, turn around, and there are 20 more you can present the message to.
The longer you wait the more hardened people become to the gospel.
The adversary wastes no time in presenting a message against God.
We should counter by wasting no time heading into the harvest with the message of God.
It’s high time we get into the garden.
Rom 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
On those days I work from home I wear sweat pants and a T-shirt.
I usually wear it all day with no reason to get dressed.
It’s comfortable and relaxed and, after all, no one is going to see me in them.
However, if I must go into town or even out to the barn, I put on my overalls, socks, and shoes.
I want to be more presentable in public and wear something more durable when I do some outdoor work.
There is a time when you can lie around in your jammies all day and there is a time when you need to get dressed in something more appropriate.
It’s high time for Christians to wake out of their slumber, put off their spiritual jammies, and put on Christ.
The world needs to see us wearing Christ and making provision for a worldly lifestyle.
The world does not need to see actors nor hypocrites, but genuine God-fearing believers in love with Jesus and those He came to die for.
As you get up and get dressed today, put on Christ!
Rom 13:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
I accepted Christ as my savior in 1975.
When I got into the church later that year, I learned Jesus is coming back.
Summer revivals and Bible studies all said the same thing – Jesus is coming back.
Over the past 47 years, I have preached and heard many more messages about the return of Christ.
It hasn’t happened yet!
But that day is closer today than it was 47 years ago.
So it is high time, more precisely, the hour to wake out of sleep and get busy.
When this hour is over it becomes a new hour to get busy.
The church needs to get busy and stay busy until our Salvation arrives – Jesus Christ.