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