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Commitment to God

David Himes

This morning I would like to discuss something that is sometimes hard to discuss. I am talking about quitting God. I have been a Christian approximately 25 years. I know that many of you have been one longer. It is hard to remain faithful to God. At the time of my baptism, I thought everything would be rosy and easy. I was mistaken. The things I had to do – the things I have yet to do, have not been easy as a Christian. It is so easy to slow down, maybe not quit, but just to slow down. Sometimes I think that I do so much that the Church here just could not exist here without me. I sometimes think that I have done my share and it time to let someone else carry the ball for the Lord. Yes the Church needs me. The Church will continue without me as it will continue without you. These may be some of the things that you have told yourself one time or another in your life. My question is - Why can’t I slow down and let others pick up the slack?

Scripture Reading is from Hebrews Chapter 12.

Heb. 12:1-4
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (NIV)

Verse 1, The witnesses that Paul speaks of were those listed in Chapter 11. They were men and women who did not quit. Joseph, Noah, etc. These people did not quit. Maybe they wanted to, maybe they even said they would, maybe they tried to quit, but they did not. They had the patience to continue. They were not running a sprint, but a marathon.

Verse 2, Here we see that we should look to Jesus, not to the brethren, or to the Church. The brethren and the Church may disappoint us, but Jesus will not. Jesus was not a quitter. He was a finisher. Jesus was committed to do his Father’s will. He did not stop short.

Verse 3, Quitting begins in one’s mind. We get tired of all the things we are doing and we are not getting our recognition. Our feelings will get hurt. We did not get our way. We quit. It all starts in the mind.

Verse 4, Quitting is not in the Christian’s vocabulary. I haven’t and you have not yet shed blood for the Christ. The great witnesses of chapter 11 were not quitters. They gave all. We have not, yet we grow tired and give up. We may have been a Church worker, a teacher, an elder, a Church secretary, for years, but now we have given up. We no longer want to continue. We did not know that the task would be so long. We quit. But there is no reason for us to quit serving the Lord.

Some of us here today come to Church occasionally on Sunday morning, but rarely on Sunday evening or Wednesday evening Bible study. We don’t even come on Sunday morning Bible class. To some of us coming to Church on Sunday morning is more a chore than privilege. I ask you this simple question, if you did decide to quit serving the Lord, what more would you have to do? Nothing!

There are those who come to Church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday and occupy a pew. But that is all that they do. They come, they sit, they go, … they come, they sit, and they go. That is all that they do. What is the difference between them and those who don’t come at all? There is no giving of ones self. There is a commitment to go to Church, but no commitment to the Lord.

The lack of commitment to the Lord is similar to the lack of commitment we have in other aspects of our lives. We fail in our commitments in our marriages. We fail in responsibilities to our employers. We quit and move away because it is easier than staying where we are and following through on the promises we made to the Church, our families, and our jobs. We have forgotten what commitment is all about.

When we marry, we make a promise to each other and a commitment to God to stick it out to the end. But, when the going gets tough, we quit. We forget the pledge that we made. What is the easiest thing to do? When that mountain gets too high, when it gets too steep, when we tired of doing what needs to be done, we quit.

Quitting the Lord never happens immediately. It is a slow process. Little things change first. Missing Church services once a week, and then two. Maybe it is stopping to teach for a period of time. Once you stop, it is hard to re-start.

Do you remember the commitment we made when we accepted our Lord as our Savior? Do you remember saying that you would be there to the end? Do you remember saying that Jesus was Lord of your life? Have we quit?

I. Examples of those people who quit the Lord.

II Timothy chapter 4. This is such a sad story –

II Tim 4:9-11
Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica-- Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. (NKJ)

In Col. 4:14, Demas is mentioned along with Luke. He was an important person in the efforts to spread Christianity.

Philemon 1 verse 24. Demas is mentioned along with Luke and John Mark.

You see Demas was an important Christian to Paul. But now Paul has to write to Timothy to say "Demas has forsaken me". He has quit the Lord! We give Demas a poor grade for his commitment, but is Demas any worse than us?

How many of you believe that you would be a better Christian or your faith would be stronger if you lived and saw the miracles of Jesus and the Apostles.

John 6:65-66
And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

They quit Jesus! Aren’t you glad that Jesus was not like us? He carried the load all by himself. Aren’t you glad that Jesus did not stop teaching? Jesus continued on to the end. He died on the cross for us. He did not quit when His followers did. He could have quit on the cross.

Today we could ask, "How could they do that?" They had an opportunity to walk with Jesus. How many of us today would like to have been with Jesus and learned from Him directly? How many of us today would not have liked to sit at Jesus’ feet? But are they any worse than us today who will not come to Church to worship Him and to serve Him?

II. Four examples of men who would not quit the Lord.

Jeremiah

 
Jer. 20:7-9

O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (NIV)

Jeremiah was not a popular prophet. They beat him, they imprisoned him, and they cursed him. He was abused more than any of us could ever image. One day he said, "I quit" Read verse 7. But he did not quit. The truth was like a burning fire that caused him to continue day after day, working for the Lord.
 

Ezekiel
 
Ezekiel was like Jeremiah. He too was accused and abused. He went out day after day and never got one response to his preaching. How could we take that frustration? Would we most likely would quit. One day he is told that his wife died that very day. You can image that day. He went home and his wife was gone. Can you image what it was like to him? Can you see him saying, "I quit"? Can you see him saying, "I gave all I loved to the Lord"? But, the next day Ezkiel packed up his lunch pail and his scripture and went out again and preached to the people of Israel. Read Verse 18.

Ezk 24:18

So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. (NIV)

You see there is no condition that we can give that will allow us to quit the Lord.

John the Baptist

John the Baptist could have quit the Lord. He could have told Herod that it was ok for him to have other man’s wife. After all John was not guilty of adultery. Who would blame John considering the position he was in? What did it matter to him anyway? Why should he die? Really, wasn’t it presumptuous for him to say the things he did? But John did not back down, even in the face of death. He spoke the truth to Herod and lost his life because of it.

Paul

The apostle Paul was in one prison after another. He was sentence to death; He was stoned; He was left for dead. Yet he wrote to a young preacher named Timothy to say - continue to preach the word.

II Tim 4:1-6

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV)

I don’t want to leave you here this morning thinking that you are wretched, sinful people. I think it is a matter of discipline. Maybe we have accepted Christianity without knowing what is required of us. Maybe we have never learned how to grow in the sight of God.

I would like to share with you a few ideas that I think will help you grow as Christians. We need to grow closer to God, not farther away from him. Try these few ideas and see if they don’t help you.

1. Read the Bible daily. This is often given as a suggestion and it is one of the best recommendations for drawing closer to God. Set aside a time for this. It may be in the first thing in the morning. It may be before bed. I don’t recommend reading a book or a chapter each time. But read a portion, stop and then try to see what the author was trying to tell you. Don’t read just to get through. Read for understanding. Get a hold of the Bible on tape and listen to it in the car. If nothing else, it will help you drive slower and with patience. It is hard to curse the driver next to you when you are listening to the word of God.

2. Pray daily. This again is highly recommended. Set aside a time to do this. Once a young man told me that his mind wandered when he prayed. He started to say his prayers, but soon his mind was off on something else. I recommended to him something I have done for some time and really works for me. The first thing I did when I got to work each morning was to power up my computer and write my prayer down. I used the computer to say exactly what I wanted to say in the best English and sentence structure that I could. I wrote it like I was writing a letter to God. I saved each prayer and after several months, I had quite an interesting story. When I went back and reviewed the prayers, I could see what was troubling me at the time. I could see the difficulties that I went through and the joys I had. I wrote of the blessings I received, the friends in need. I wrote for help in my work. Not only that, but I could look back and see how God did intervene in my life and how my prayers were answered. . It was a personal diary of my relationship with God.

3. Work for the Lord. Do something. Do it often and do it well. Everyone can do something. You can preach, teach, write letters, clean the building. You can sow; you can cook. You can knock on doors. You can clean the homes of a shut in. We all have the ability to do something. Keep your faith active. Working for the Lord brings fantastic feelings to you. You will be surprised, but the greatest feeling is doing something for God in private. Working with others is great, but doing something for someone else without anyone knowing about it is special.

4. Come to Church. By being around people who share a common faith will encourage you and them. Worship God. Show Him you care about serving Him. Believe it and live it. Get to know the people. See people as an opportunity to learn something new. People like to be listened to. Hear their dreams and their problems. Maybe they can do something for you too.

5. Focus on Heaven. No one can run a race without looking at the finish line. We must remember that there is a reason for doing the things we do. Not everything in life is sunshine and roses. There are hardships, disappointments, and failures, but they are all temporary events in the long road to heaven.

6. Seek help when you are weak. The cross we bear does not have to be so heavy as we tend to make it. That is the purpose of the Church – to help each other to succeed in getting to heaven. There are many here that suffer, or have suffered, the same problems or temptations as you are currently suffering. They can help if you let them.

One last thought is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19 & 20.

Your body is not your own. It is the possession of Jesus. He purchased your body when he died on the cross. Glorify God in your body by doing what is right in His sight.

INVITATION

Once an elder told me, "If you don’t believe that you are going to heaven, you probably aren’t." We debated this for a while and I saw his point. That is, as Christians we should be convinced that as chosen people, we will go to heaven. If we are not convinced of this then we are weak. If we are weak then probably we are quitters. Are we convinced that we are going to Heaven? To be truly convinced, I believe that we need to continue the race. We need to continue to seek our Lord daily.

We can reach heaven if we have believe in Jesus and accepted him as our savior, be baptized for the remission of our sins, follow his teachings by living a life that is pleasing to God. If you have not been baptized, we are willing to help you now.

If you are having trouble living a life pleasing to God you need to correct that part of your life. Maybe as you learn more of what pleases God, the more you find that you are not doing everything you should. If you believe that there is something amiss in your life and that you cannot live in Heaven, as God wants you to live, then please come and we will help you find peace in the truth. Come as we sing the song of invitation.

 

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