Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

“Do you love Me more than these?”

"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!" (John 21:15-19)

Distractions are everywhere and unfortunately I'm easily distracted. We live in fast passed global world where anyone can find out about almost anything with an Internet connection. If you need to know something, you can just Google it. We are constantly bombarded with entertaining stimuli from mediums such as 24-hour news, cell phones, email, texting, IPods, I Pads, I Phones, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter. Things are changing everyday and it's almost impossible to keep up.

So are any of these modern conveniences the world has to offer inherently bad? No, not necessarily. But they are bad when they distract us from God or replace God and all too often they do this very thing. So ask yourself what has a greater influence on your life – the things of this world or the things of God? In a given day, what are you most concerned about? What controls you, your thought life and your actions? Where do you look for love, acceptance and fulfillment in life?

It's really sobering to think about the honest answers to these questions and to realize how easily we get distracted from the things that really matter in life.

The truth is we were created to be dependent upon God. Whether we like it or not we need God and cannot successfully go through this life alone. God desires to have an eternal relationship with us and live in fellowship with us on a daily basis.

So why do most of us have this burning desire to call the shots and make our own way in this world? Why do we struggle with the idea of having to be in subjection to another? The simple answer is sin. The fleshly desire within us is to reject fellowship with God because such fellowship is righteous and holy and yet we are so sinful.

In all honesty, I stand before you tonight as a man riddled with sin and one who is guilty of habitual sin. I am a sinner on a daily basis. I constantly undermine the efforts of God in my life and seek my own way and I pay the consequences of my rebellion in various forms be it spiritually, mentally, emotionally and/or physically. I need help! We all need help whether we realize it or not.

The good news is that there is help out there. But are you willing to admit that you have a problem with sin and need the help of the Lord? Are you willing to admit that you need Him? It's very hard to help someone who does not really want your help. Are you rebelling against God or working with Him?

I stand before you tonight and confess that Jesus Christ is the solution to our problem. with sin He is more than willing to and is capable of helping us. I'm convinced that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that He is able to save anyone who believes in Him. I'm convinced that His death was the satisfactory payment for my sins and convinced that His resurrection was proof that He is who He said He is, that He is trustworthy and capable of saving all who believe in Him. It is my faith in Jesus Christ which has made me right with God.

So before we go any further, I want to ask you a simple question. Are you right with God? Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and believed on Him for eternal life? If not, I urge you right now to trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Receive life from Jesus by placing your faith in Him. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Biblically speaking, all who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior are freed from the bondage of sin. This means believers now have a choice on whether or not to sin. We have incredible freedom given to us by God to overcome the power of sin in our life. The Holy Spirit gives all believers the power and opportunity to live a life that is pleasing to God.

He has changed me and is changing me. I am learning to live life differently. I am learning to think differently which translates into different actions. I am learning to rebel against the culture and conform to the truths of the Bible. I often fail, but I'm pressing on and seeking righteousness. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6) Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Jesus also said, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." (John 6:35) Are you trusting in Him for your daily bread?

Well that's convicting, so let's look at someone else we can identify with. Peter. Thank God for Peter! He is an example of a believer we can all somewhat identify with. I call him God's rollercoaster disciple. One moment he is flying high and saying Jesus is the Christ and the next he is being rebuked by Jesus as a stumbling block seeking the interests of man rather than the interests of God. One moment he is willing to die for Jesus and the next he is denying him before man. Isn't it easy to be interested in the Lord when it's convenient for us like say on Wednesday night or Sunday morning and then hard when He gets in the way during times when we want to sin say on Friday nights?

But I'll ask you the same thing that Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" Peter loved to fish. But he immediately left this love and livelihood and threw down his nets when Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19) Peter made a wise decision to follow Jesus, but be assured that it cost him very dearly. Jesus says to all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) The call of following Jesus is a costly choice, but we have everything to gain and nothing to lose except ourselves when we lose our life to find it in Him.

So how will you answer Jesus when He asks you, "Do you love me more than _______?" Think about your life. What is appropriate for this blank? Here are some questions I have been asking myself. Do you love me more than sin? Do you love me more than you love yourself? Do you love me more than your wife? Do you love me more than lust? Do you love me more than sexual sin? Do you love me more than money? Do you love me more than your own pride and reputation? Do you love me more than your technology?

As Jesus was on his way toward crucifixion, Peter was scared and loved his own life more than he loved the idea of dying for being associated with Jesus. He had failed to stand up for Jesus at a very crucial moment in his life and was guilty of denying Jesus before men. Luke 22:61-62 records the incident: "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly."

Peter wept bitterly over his sin. He looked His Savior in the eye and was confronted with the reality that he had sinned and blown it big time. We all need a similar wake-up call in life and be confronted with the severity and ugliness of sin by looking into the eyes of Jesus. Sin is always a barrier between us and God and always brings separation and death. The wages of sin is always death (Romans 6:23). In fact, God saw sin as such a problem that He sent Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty of death for it so that we could be forgiven and restored in relationship and fellowship with Him. We must never take sin lightly and confess sin on a regular basis, followed by heartfelt repentance.

Peter felt unworthy, disqualified and inadequate to be a follower of Christ. He had a tough time receiving the Lord's forgiveness. As such, he retreated to his old love, fishing, to avoid having to deal with his guilt and shame. Fishing was not only his livelihood, but was his way of retreating from reality and having to deal with his denial of Christ. Yet Jesus confronted him in love and wanted Peter to know that there was forgiveness available. He was not disqualified from being a disciple of Christ. The truth is we are all unworthy and inadequate, but God loves us and has chosen to give us life. He is in the business of reconciliation and restoring that which is lost by sin. He saves us and then calls us out to live worthy lives through the power He provides.

So can we honestly say like Peter, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You"? Does the Lord know if we really love Him? Of course He does. But how do we show Him love? Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) Obedience to God shows our love for God. As we are obedient to God we also get the pleasure of knowing God more. In fact, he discloses Himself to us. Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21)

Each day and often throughout each day we must choose whom we will serve -- sin and self or God and righteousness. We must be ready to fight off distractions and things that fight for our attention, allegiance and love. Paul implored believers, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2) The Christian life is not easy, but it is the greatest life we can ever hope to life and one that will pay dividends for all eternity!

Now, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on this message and be honest with the Lord. Reflect now while it is fresh on your mind. Ask yourself these questions and be honest with God.

  • Are you honestly seeking first the kingdom of God or are you rather seeking to make your own kingdom here on earth?
  • Are you being a servant of Jesus Christ or being a servant of self?
  • Is Jesus Christ your first priority or have other things crept in and taken His rightful place in your life?
  • Is there anything you are not willing to give up for Christ?

As you are in prayer, be honest with God. Know that He loves you and knows you and offers you forgiveness. Accept His forgiveness. Ask for His help in your life. Tell Him that you love Him more than anything else.

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