Sermon: Forceful Men Take Hold

Written by Timothy

Not Even Death

Not even death can keep a preacher from preaching. A godly preachers words come from fire in the bones. 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. (Jeremiah 20:9)

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.

Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:7-12) 

Do not grumble that my sermons are long. True, long by today’ milk toast Christian standards, but not long when one considers the days are evil and ignorance floods the church. making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)

Preach The Word

I never preached about the Word of God. Rather I was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

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What I mean by sound doctrine

Forceful Men Take Hold Of The Kingdom
Preached Year 2006

Tonight we’re going to talk about Christianity and it’s not a lazy man’s religion.

Matthew 11:7-11 – As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Now verse 12 tells us about the kingdom of God. It tells us in verse 12:

Matthew 11:12 – From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

Now He just got through talking about the character of John the Baptist, didn’t He? And He’s comparing John the Baptist to the kingdom of heaven. He’s saying, “When you look at John you don’t see a reed. You don’t see something that’s blown by the wind, by every breath of the wind that comes by.” The reeds grew to be twenty feet tall but they bent over easy with every type of wind that blew on them. He says, “You didn’t go out to see a man dressed in fine clothes. That’s not what you went to see. And you certainly didn’t go to find a man living in a kings’ palace. Instead what you went out to find was the kingdom of heaven. What you saw was John the Baptist declaring what it would mean to come to God.” He said, “There’s no one else that’s been born that is greater than John the Baptist.” And then He goes on to tell us that the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing since the days of John the Baptist until now.

Now that compares for us the Christianity of today and the Christianity that we’re called to live. What Jesus is saying is to disqualify yourself to be a prophet of God or to be a child of God all you have to do is live in a fine palace. All you have to do is wear fine clothes. All you have to do is be a reed that is blown by the wind. But when you start talking about the kingdom of heaven, when you start talking about God’s children, you talk about somebody forcing their way into the kingdom of heaven. Somebody forcing their way into righteousness and holiness and purity. And how many churches wind up living the kind of Christianity that Jesus talked about up above. They live in fine palaces. Look at the nice homes that so many preachers live in. Look at the justification with which people have their homes put together. They dress in fine clothes and they’re blown by every kind of teaching and every wind of doctrine. If you say God has you living in an expensive home, fine. Then be fully prepared to show by your life of following the Holy Spirit, as you pick up your cross, deny yourself, face persecution and your sound doctrine how God has worked both a hating and a despising of money.

He says that is not what the kingdom of God is like. In order to enter the kingdom of God you have to be forceful. One translation uses the term “violent.” It says that the kingdom of God has been violently progressing and violent men lay hold of it. I like that better. It has a lot more action to it. It implies a great deal more activity. It shows what kind of people we should be. Christianity is not a lazy man’s religion. Only the people that are forcing their way in, that is are getting violent toward Jesus Christ, are being allowed into the kingdom of heaven. Only those men who have the resolve and have the soundness and have some measure of that solemnness that’s in John the Baptist belong to the kingdom of heaven. Christianity, indeed, is not a lazy man’s religion. Not by a long shot.

Look at Matthew 15:21 and we’ll see someone forcing their way into the kingdom. Putting forth all the effort that she has in order to get in touch with Jesus Christ. She’s stirring up things. She’s creating a kind of violence. In verse 21 it says:

Matthew 15:21-22 – Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out . . .

She came with some force. It says again in verse 22:

Matthew 15:22 – A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

There’s some violence, there’s some force, there’s some effort. He sensed there’s something different about this woman than everybody else that is with Jesus. She’s going to force herself upon Jesus. She’s going to make Jesus give her His attention. She’s going to keep yelling for Him until He turns around and pays attention to what she is saying. Christianity is not for lazy prayer. And it’s not for lazy men. It’s for people who force themselves upon Jesus Christ.

Matthew 15:22 – A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

We can hear the anguish in her heart. We can hear the force with which she’s coming to Jesus demanding that Jesus do something. We sense the humility. She says, “Lord.” She comes to the right Jesus. She goes to the Son of David Jesus. And then she begins to give her petition to Him. And she’s yelling, she’s forcing, she’s violently coming to God in order that God would answer. Above the voice of everybody else. And it says in verse 23:

Matthew 15:23 – Jesus did not answer a word.

She comes with this kind of force and this kind of violence and this kind of effort and Jesus does not respond at all. Does not even acknowledge that the woman is in His presence. He ignores her completely. She indeed is going to have to force herself upon Jesus in order for Him to respond.

Matthew 15:23 – So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

She never shut up. She never was lazy in her petition. She never was laid back in it. She continued to cry out and to cry out and to cry out and to cry out until God heard her request and her prayer. Now all the disciples wanted to do was to send her away. Not even to answer her prayer. They didn’t care anything about her. They were just annoyed at the fact that they were being bothered. Now if they were being that bothered then surely Jesus knew that woman was around. And yet He still chose not to answer. What does that say about our own prayer life and our own forcing ourselves upon the word of God? It’s like we come to the word of God and it’s dry for a few days so what do we do? We lay back. We go into the prayer closet and our prayers aren’t filling us up, we’re not getting the tingling emotions. We’re not getting whatever it is we’re looking for. What’s that say about our prayers? We just lay back or do we force ourselves until the feelings are there? Until we get His attention. Until we have the blessing with which we seek. Until everybody else would be telling us to shut up and go somewhere else we keep crying out until Jesus Christ responds. Because let me tell you, there are whole congregations that will tell you to be quiet and to be silent and to lay down your zeal. They do not want a violent group of people in their church. They do not want a forceful congregation.

Matthew 15:24 – He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

Now He speaks out. Now He says something. Now He responds to the woman and what does He say? “I heard your prayer”? “I’ve considered your request”? “My, you’ve really cried out.” Does it look like He responds in love? No. He declares that, “I’m not sent to bless you. You and I have no relationship. We have no basis that I should respond to you. In fact, it would be wrong for Me to respond to you,” is what He’s saying. He’s making at this point a theological statement that I’ve been sent for the Jews only. But He’s going to do more than give a theological statement. He’s going to get personal with this woman. Let’s read on.

Matthew 15:24-25 – He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him, “Lord, help me!” she said.

Still forcing herself upon Jesus. Still laying hold of Him. And He says in verse 26:

Matthew 15:26 – He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

Now He’s dealing personally with her and when He turns and says to her that she is a dog. What kind of effort do we see her putting forth to Jesus and how does Jesus keep trying to put her off and keep saying, “Look, I didn’t come to talk to you. And by the way, you’re a dog” in the midst of all that? He doesn’t just lay down a theological statement and leave it at that. He turns to her and calls her a dog. Not worthy of the crumbs that fall from the table. Forceful men lay hold of the kingdom. Violent men lay hold of it. They put forth some effort. They continue to come, even when Jesus turns to us and says, “I won’t answer your prayer. I don’t want anything to do with you,” those that keep coming back time and time again, will indeed, have answered prayer. They will lay hold of Jesus like nobody else has laid hold of Him.

Matthew 15:27 – “Yes, Lord,” she said . . .

She agrees. She agrees that she is a dog. She agrees that she has no privileged position for grace. Now we all shake our head and we say, “Oh, what great humility and what love she had and what faith.” And yet if somebody were to call us a dog, or if somebody by the Spirit of the Lord says something that makes us look a little lower or we confess our sin and they turn to us and say, “You know, you’re right,” we get indignant with it. We do not turn and say, “Yes, that’s right.”

So before we shake our heads, let’s consider and look at our own hearts and what kind of force we really lay hold of. And look at who we’re laying a hold of. We’re laying hold of a Jesus who is brutally truthful. We’re going in to lay hold of Him who will turn to us and tell us who He is and theologically how we have no relationship with Him.

Matthew 15:27 – “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

This woman shows up as someone who comes in to forcefully take hold of Jesus and will not take no for an answer. What does it say about our own pleadings to be delivered from sin? Are we to be delivered from sin? Will we be a people who refuses to take no for an answer and continue to say, “I know You have no right to bless me or to work in my life but continue to do so anyway”? He goes on to say in verse 28:

Matthew 15:28 – Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Forceful men lay hold of the kingdom. Violent men lay hold of it. Lazy men and women do not. The kingdom of heaven, Christianity is not for the lazy.

In 1 Peter 4:18 it tells us that it’s hard for the righteous to be saved. It is a difficult thing for anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord to actually be in a place of grace with God. It’s an extremely hard thing for us to persevere and for Jesus to carry us all the way through this life and to discipline us and to refine us and to purify us and to make us ready. It is hard for Jesus to do it. Look at 1 Peter 4:18 and apply it to your own heart. And say it before God in the prayer closet that it is hard for God to save Tim. It is a difficult thing for that to happen. How often you’ve heard me say that if I’m just barely getting in, and I am, what does that say about other people?

1 Peter 4:18 – And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

It is a difficult thing for any of us to be saved. It cost God the blood of His own Son, didn’t it? It will take some force on our part, it will take some effort and some violence and putting forth and laying hold of Jesus Christ and not taking no for an answer. It will take everything that we can muster up to turn to God and to say, “We will not take no for an answer. And though it will be difficult to save us, do so.” And agree with every act of humility that He brings in your life. Agree with every statement that Jesus would say to you, “But you’re not worthy of such a blessing,” agree to it. And say, “Yes, Lord.” Are we going to lay hold of the kingdom? Then we’ve got to get up and we’ve got to put forth effort and we’ve got to realize that it is not for lazy people.

Look at Luke 13:23. In Luke 13:23 somebody is listening to Jesus and they heard Him preach and they heard Him say some things and they say in verse 23:

Luke 13:23 – Someone asked Him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

Everybody who listens to sermons in this church, everybody who listens to you proclaim the message ought to somewhere in the conversation turn and say, “Are you the only ones? Are only a few people going to be saved?” What’s it say about everybody else over here? There ought to be that sense that this indeed is a narrow road. Otherwise our gospel isn’t even put out because everybody turns to Jesus and says, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” And in verse 24:

Luke 13:24 – Make every effort . . .

“Make every effort.” The kingdom of God is not for lazy people.

Luke 13:24 – Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try . . .

They’ll put forth some effort but they’re not violent men. They’ll put forth some effort but they’re not forceful men. They’ll pray, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on us,” and stop there. They won’t like it when Jesus doesn’t respond immediately. Or if they ask and He turns and calls them a dog they won’t like that either.

Luke 12:24 – Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

You make every effort. Christianity is not for lazy men and women. It is for forceful people. It is for forceful people.

Look at Jeremiah 29:1. It says:

Jeremiah 29:1-3 – This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan . . .

Let’s go on down to verse 4:

Jeremiah 29:4-5 – This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.”

In other words, go into captivity, go into discipline and settle down into it. Don’t think for a moment you’re going to be delivered from it in a moment. You go in, you plant vineyards, you sit down and you build your house there and you say, “I’m in the middle of discipline and this is where I’m at.”

Jeremiah 29:6 – Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.

Increase the amount of people under discipline is what He’s saying. What is the gospel call? God disciplines everybody that He loves. It’s an invitation for everybody to come in and join the discipline we’re under. That’s what it is. We tell everybody that you will be disciplined, you will participate in the sufferings of Jesus. It is a promised thing. It’s an invitation to come in, plant your house down in a place where it’s miserable and to grow and to increase.

Jeremiah 29:7 – Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

If our discipline prospers and grows and increases, guess what? We also are trained in righteousness with it. If we consider our discipline to be of a grand grace that is in Jesus’ hands, if we’re trained by that discipline, then we consider it the fruit of life. If we love the aspect of the cross that crucifies the sinful nature and rubs against everything that is wrong, we prosper. So we pray for the discipline to do His work. We pray an increase in that discipline for others to join in it and to learn and to gain the fruits of it. For if it prospers, if the discipline of God works in our life then we also are blessed. Are you willing to lay hold of it and to force it upon yourself?

Jeremiah 29:8 – Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.”

Does that not show even the situation today? The people in the church promote and plead with the teachers and the prophets to proclaim what they want to hear. And what was it that the people want to hear? That the discipline will soon be over with. “You will soon be out of captivity,” that’s what they want to hear. And here’s Jeremiah saying, “No, you settle down in there. You build houses in that discipline. You give your sons and daughters in the midst of that discipline and you increase in that discipline.” And yet the people were saying, “Give us somebody who’ll tell us we’ll be out of this in a short period of time.”

Jeremiah 29:9-11 – “They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

But why the discipline? What is God trying to work up within all of us? What’s the reason for seventy years of captivity in Babylon? What is the reason for leaving us in a world with this kind of pressure around us? What is it that God doesn’t somehow take away our sinful nature today? Because this is what God is looking for in verse 12.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 – Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

“Forceful men, violent men, men of pure heart, lay hold of the kingdom. You will find Me, I will answer prayer. I will be a God to you. I will deliver you because from there when you’ve undergone the discipline and you’ve been refined and there’s a few of you left that cry out, you will cry out to Me with your whole heart.” Why did that woman have answered prayer? Because she cried with her whole heart. Her whole heart was turned toward God and she would not take no for an answer. Will we do the same thing? Let us understand what the kingdom of God is about. It is not for lazy people. It is for men and women who are willing to undergo the discipline that God has to bring and let it do its work and to pray that it might prosper well in our life.

Jeremiah 29:14 – “I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

“When you cry out to Me with your whole heart”—that’s all God’s looking for. He’s looking for some forceful men.

Look at Psalm 84:1. When we think of heaven, when we set our minds on things above it should cause us to force our way into heaven. The calling of heaven and what it is and our relationship with God ought to motivate us to move forward toward God and to pray even when we don’t feel like praying. It ought to stir up within us the whole heart and soul of a man turning toward God and never letting go.

Psalm 84:1 – How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!

He hasn’t been there. He hasn’t been in that heavenly lovely place. Yet he sees what other men cannot see. He longs for what other men do not long for. He says,

Psalm 84:2 – My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

A whole heart, a forceful heart, a violent heart, laying hold of Jesus. When our soul yearns, when our soul faints to be with God, when our heart and our flesh cry out for the living God, then we’re talking about seeking God with a whole heart. Then we’re talking about being violent men and forceful men. Because such people do not take no for an answer, though Jesus put us off, though He doesn’t answer, though He remarks to us in ways that are rude, we answer, we endure, we hold on. But you know heaven is not for lazy men and women. It is for those whose flesh cry out for God and their soul and heart.

Look at Hebrews 6:11. The writer of Hebrews says:

Hebrews 6:11 – We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.

You’re turning to a woman who has a demon-possessed daughter. A woman who cried out to Jesus with all the disciples saying, “Send her away, she’s bothering us.” And he’s writing to such a woman. He’s saying, “I want you to show that very same diligence to the very end.” This is when you first came to God with that zeal and that resolve and that joy. You show that same diligence to the very end. We do not want you to become what? Lazy.

Hebrews 6:12 – We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

This whole contest, this whole reason for leading us is to find out who’s lazy and who isn’t. To find out who really is a lover of God above everything else in this world, and who will eventually turn their back on God. The whole contest is a contest to see whose love will grow cold and whose will stay hot as everybody else’s grow cold. Show the same diligence to the very end, the same fire and the same zeal. And we as a people in this land of freedom and ease and comfort and abundance have a tremendous battle that we face. Laziness is the call. We do not even know how lazy we are because we measure ourselves to the world around us. We must look to Jesus and we must ask Him, “Are we lazy? Are we the people we think we are? Are we showing the same diligence that we had at the beginning?” For some people that’s true, they never even got on fire. We need the kind of fire that the woman had. That woman continued and continued to ask until she got an answer. That’s the kind of fire that God is looking for. Are we even started at the beginning place? Is our gospel call to other people? Is our evaluation of who is a Christian like that woman? Are we so lazy in our own laziness that when we share the gospel with someone else we walk away thinking they’re Christians because they told us they were? You see if you’re a pig wallowing in the mud and everybody else is in the mud you think everybody looks the same and we’re all clean and that’s the way we’re supposed to be. The point is, are we enough in the light and on fire for God that we can turn to other people and honestly see and say that they’re not on fire for God? Are we so accustomed to being lazy and comfortable and at ease and just saying with our mouth that we are Christians that we don’t know what it is to measure whether somebody cries out with their soul for God or not? I think the answer is yes. We live in a land of lukewarmness and that’s why Jesus said, “Buy salve to put on your eyes that you can see.” You have to be on fire enough yourself to turn and recognize who else is lazy.

Hebrews 5:12 – We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Let’s make sure we’re above the lazy point. Let’s make sure our zeal isn’t mere laziness, that we’re calling zeal. Wound us when our light is really darkness and we consider it light. Look to John the Baptist for your measure. He wasn’t a reed blown here and there. He was solid, he was firm. This is the truth, this is the law, this is the gospel, and it cost him his head. I mean, he lost his head over the issue of divorce and remarriage. We hand out tracts. We hand out little study guides that say, “Fill in the blank.” That’s how we promote the truth. But that’s not how John the Baptist promoted it. He stood up and said, “It is not lawful for you to have that man’s wife.” And he lost his head over that kind of fire. That is our measurement, not the measurement of passing out a tract and saying, “Well, we’ll all see in heaven whether this issue is right or wrong.” You see, it’s not a doctrinal issue with me in a sense of dry doctrine. It is a doctrine issue if you understand doctrine right. That when I give somebody a tract called, “Divorce and Remarriage” and they refuse that tract and they continue to divorce and remarriage and they will not repent I need to lose my head over that issue. We’re talking about some fire, some forceful men, some people with some fire and with some violence. But how unaccustomed we are to it. And how unaccustomed we are to go out and live it and how other people are not even accustomed to seeing it at all. They think you’re something unloving and unkind, self-righteous and haughty. They would indeed rather rid you off the earth just as they did Stephen.

Look at Matthew 25:14. Again, let us measure our fire and our zeal and our effort by Jesus Christ. Not by what we do, not with our measurement of other people. There are so many lazy people out there who claim to be Christians. It’s easy to look zealous. In Mathew 25:14, Jesus says:

Matthew 25:14 – Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.

His property. We say that we come to God and that we give Him everything so He has entrusted us with His property.

Matthew 25:15 – To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

First of all, God’s not giving you anything you can’t handle. Each to his own ability. Each of you have a certain area, a certain richness in God that you can share with other people, don’t you?

Matthew 25:16 – The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.

I mean, Jesus really isn’t expecting a whole lot. Five talents you gain five more. No businessman is happy with that. That’s not how you make a profit. You want to invest five and get back twenty-five, as much as you can get from that five. It’s like Jesus is giving us the bare minimum. He gives you five talents, He expects at least one return from each talent. One return. You’ve got a house, you’ve got one extra bedroom for one person. One person out of your whole lifetime, at least that much. Not to mention many people come and go and you can fill up the bedroom five times over.

Matthew 25:17-18 – So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

You take the one talent and you put it to work.

Matthew 25:19 – After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

It will seem like a long time to everybody. Whether you have five talents, two, or one. It seems like a long time.

Matthew 25:20-21 – The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five talents. Se, I have gained five more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things . . .”

Still a few things, isn’t it? It’s not like He’s holding up the man and saying, “You have all; this tremendous spiritual knowledge and wisdom.” Even with five talents the man who was on top was considered little. So if you think you’ve got five you’ve still got a little.

Matthew 25:21 – I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!

Not your own. Not the work that you did. Not being puffed up in the fact that you could hand five more, but your master’s happiness. Your happiness isn’t even your own.

Matthew 25:22-25 – The man with the two talents also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Then the man who had received the one talent came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

God is a hard God, there’s no denying it. But what gets us past fear is love for God. I don’t so much worry about whether I’m putting the gospel out right or not, though that is a concern, but not in terms of a fear and legalism did I say repeating, “Gee, right,” for fear God will stomp on me with it. Even if I were to babble like a fool or have to skip over some passages because I can’t pronounce the words, the point is that out of love for God’s Word I share that gospel. What made this servant wicked and lazy and caring nothing to work for God was he had no love for the master. Well the truth all right is God is a hard God, but only to those who are wicked and lazy, only those who walk by law. Those who have a love for God, those who come to Jesus and say, “Heal my daughter,” and He calls you a dog, know that He’s a God of love and if you persevere you’ll get to that grace. “Your daughter will be made well. You’ll see the miracle that you long for.”

What motivates me is love for God and for His Word. The man who is lazy and wicked only knows a God of harshness, a God of rules, a God of legalism and not a God of power. If you’ve got one talent and you’re totally incompetent in everything else it doesn’t matter, use the one talent. But do it out of a love for God. Not because you’re told to, not because the church is having a campaign, not because we’re going door to door, not because you get a little sticker on your name tag, you do it because you love God. And don’t be so faithless and lazy to moan and groan in the closet all the days of your life going, “I’ve only got one talent.” Open your mouth and speak, that’s how you’ll learn, that’s how you’ll grow. God will give you grace. The scripture says don’t worry about what you’re going to say, He’ll give it to you at the time. You’ve got to be in a place where you don’t know what you’re going to say before words will be given.

Matthew 25:26-27 – His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

At least give it to somebody who knows what to do with it. At least be faithful enough that in your laziness to give something to somebody else who can do the work.

Matthew 25:28-29 – Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

You have a blessing in God, you have a grace from God but you did nothing with it. It will be removed from you and given to those who are faithful.

Matthew 25:30 – And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Eternal regret and shame. You know that sense when you clench your teeth together? When you remember an embarrassing moment in your life, when you wish you wouldn’t have said that, it grips you inside like when you’re in an embarrassing situation, what regret that I ever did that. Only multiplied in terms of eternity. And with things that are really important, not personal embarrassment, but total shame because you rejected God.

In Ecclesiastes 11:6 it says:

Ecclesiastes 11:6 – Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

The kingdom of heaven is not for lazy people, it is for forceful people. I don’t know how many times people have told me, “Oh, that person is really open to the gospel,” and they pour all their energy and they show them and those people turn and walk away. And then somebody else you just barely made a comment to is just begging to come into the kingdom. You have no idea what’s going to succeed in your labor and your work. Don’t even guess. I quit doing that a long time ago. I used to get so excited, “That person is going to respond” and they never did and I finally just gave up on that nonsense.

A woman just called me last week wanting to know some question about on our tracts. She said, “I don’t even know where I got this.” She says, “I was just cleaning out my bedroom and there it was.” She had one from two years ago. I don’t know if she’ll ever show up or not but you don’t know what’s going to succeed. You scatter seed, you plant, you work both day and night. Now is the time of our labor but we’ll eventually enter eternal rest.

In Proverbs 12:24, look at it. It’s a very small one sentence passage but it shows us eternal significance for when we become lazy.

Proverbs 12:24 – Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

Slavery to what? To sin, of course. Slavery to our own devices, our own shame. But diligent hands who work for God, who do not grow lazy will have things succeed, will be blessed by God.

Forceful men lay hold of the kingdom. You got to force this body to do a lot of things, about everything in Christianity. You have to get violent. You have to make the situation and the opportunity. You got to quit moaning and groaning about there was no opportunity to share the gospel. Well violent men, forceful men make the opportunity. They beg for the opportunity, they plead for it, they’re ready for it.

There’s a man who owns a bookstore in this town, I’ve been waiting a year or two years to talk to him and I got my chance. Forceful men lay hold of the kingdom. Violent men lay hold of it. Not lazy men who wait for every situation to come their way. Paul says he delights in hardships, he delights in riots, he delights in insults, it gives him joy. Be a quiet, lazy Christian, you’ll never experience any of those. But speak out for the truth, stand up like John the Baptist and quit being a reed and say, “This is the law, this is the truth, this is grace, this is mercy, this is repentance,” and you’ll lose your head. Forceful men lay hold of the kingdom, not lazy men.

In Amos 6:1, we looked at it Sunday but we need to look at it again. It says:

Amos 6:1 – Woe to you who are complacent in Zion . . .

You think you have the pride of a position. Your church is a charismatic church. Your church has grown in so many numbers. You’re a New Testament church. Or some who are in the Yellow Pages say they have the most exciting youth fellowship in town. “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, you who think you have something to stand on because of your position.”

Amos 6:1 – Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria . . .

Woe to those who think they are the most secure.

Amos 6:1 – . . . you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!

People come from all over the place to hear your words and your gospel. They come to get judgments from you about what’s right and what’s proper. Woe to you who are complacent in your understanding of your relationship to God. People come from all over the place to hear your gospel call and your message. You think you got the words together. You’ve the position. You’re in the right place at the right time. You’re God’s chosen. You’re special. Paul came to the Corinthians with fear and trembling. How do you think they would have come? As super apostles. Men who eloquently had every word right on the tip of their tongue.

Amos 6:2-4 – Go to Calneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.

Your worship services are choice selections. Your offerings are considered with great. Your programs and your projects and your zeal and all that you do are choice lambs and fatted calves. It’s no idle thing you’re doing and you’re confident in those projects and those things that you do.

Amos 6:5-6 – You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions . . .

You drink wine by the bucket is a literal translation. How much talk there is of the Holy Spirit? What is the Spirit compared to but wine? Are you sane about it? You take it in by the bucketful; you think you’re right with God you’re so filled up. And you use the finest lotions, the finest projects, the finest works, the things that just smooth everything over so well. Your logic and your talk and your justification, your whitewash, your singing of grace are the finest lotions. It makes everything feel comfortable and smooth. On beds of ivory and feasts that stuff you. But it says:

Amos 6:6 – . . . but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

Literally, you did not make yourself sick. It’s a choice. Forceful men lay hold of it. They choose not to be comfortable in this world. They choose to see things as they really are. They choose to put off the lotions, to get rid of all the choice things of this world and to be in tune with the Father, to see things as they are in this situation. They care not for the comforts and the rests but for the work and the labor that are in Jesus.

Amos 6:7 – Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile . . .

In other words, since you were the first at everything you get to be the first to go into exile. Your feasting and your lounging will end. Your wickedness and your laziness will stop. You’re the first to rest; you’ll be the first to go into captivity. If you’re the first to take care of yourself and be comfortable you’ll be the first to go into slavery and bondage. Look at Galatians 6:7. It says:

Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived . . .

What does that mean to be deceived? It means to think you’re right when you’re wrong. That’s all it means. It’s one of the most scary things that I consider myself and ask myself is, “What if I think I’m right and I’m completely wrong?” Especially when I first even saw the message of the cross and begin to preach it. Because it causes so much backlash. You can say, “I’m either really going to hell or I’m really right. And what if I think I’m right but I’m really wrong?” Don’t be deceived. It means just don’t think yourself right when you’re really wrong.

Galatians 6:7 – . . . God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Don’t think for a moment you can escape out of the discipline or the wrath of God because of all your lotions, all your comfort, all your fatted calves, and all your choice lands. You can’t mock God. You can’t live in sin, you can’t be lazy and then somehow enter the kingdom of God and say, “Hi, here I am.”

Galatians 6:8 – The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

The one who gets up in the morning and says, “What is Your will, Holy Spirit?” is the one who will reap eternal life. The man who gets up in a sinful nature, I don’t care if he does religious things in that sinful nature, he’ll reap destruction. The sinful nature can get up and pray. The sinful nature can get up and serve. The sinful nature can get up and do all manner of things. The sinful nature can offer choice fatted calves. The sinful nature can offer choice lands. The sinful nature can drink wine by the bowlful. The sinful nature can do all those things, but is it of the Spirit? The sinful nature can think it’s right when it’s wrong.

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good . . .

The first thing to know is that when you seek to please the Spirit you’re going to grow weary. Now I want you to ask yourself a question. How often have you grown weary? A measurement of whether you’re lazy or not or whether you’re forceful or not is how often do you grow weary? How often are you at the end of your rope where you need something to refresh you and fill you up and only the hand of God can do it?

As much as I love a particular brother and appreciate and love him in the Lord there are times when he encourages me and it means absolutely nothing. In fact, it’s just more, I just pour contempt on it. Because he can’t fill my soul and he can’t strengthen me and he can’t refresh me. I must have the hand of God either working through him or into me. So the question of whether we’re lazy or not is how often do you grow weary? In seeking to please the Spirit, everyone who seeks to do so will honestly grow weary down to the bone and into the soul.

Galatians 6: 9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Unfortunately this harvest is not a quick harvest, although it’s fortunate because it puts to death our sinful nature. You grow weary. You wonder where the harvest is. This is important. Even John the Baptist sent people to Jesus to say, “Are You the one that we should have expected or is there somebody else?” He thought his life was a complete failure, that he had totally missed the mark—that he didn’t do anything right. “Are You really the right one? Was that the right word?” He hadn’t yet received the harvest. He didn’t understand this Jesus yet he knew enough to go and ask Jesus. We all have doubts, we all have concerns, we all grow weary, and though we be in prison we ask ourselves, “Was I right? Am I losing my head for nothing?”

Have you grown weary? Those who grow weary will know the refreshment of God. The refreshment of God. Therefore, what’s it say?

Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity . . .

One talent, two talents, five talents, a hundred talents, it doesn’t matter.

Galatians 6:10 – . . . as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

All I have to do in my measurement of whether you’re lazy or not is look at how much you love and how you serve those around you, the brothers and sisters. If you cannot serve them, you cannot love them in the Spirit, there’s no way you’re doing it in the world. No way. Especially to those who believe. Hey, compared to the world I’m easy to love. Compared to Jesus Christ I’m impossible to love. But if you can’t love me and we can’t love each other in the Spirit then we’re wicked, lazy servants, because you’ll never do it to the world.

In Hebrews 12:3 it says:

Hebrews 12:3-4 – 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.

Look to Jesus Christ. Consider Him who endured opposition from sinful men so that you don’t grow lazy. Got to be forceful men.

Look at 2 Thessalonians 3:6, because as a body we are called to warn those who are lazy in the body. Indeed, we are called to disfellowship ourselves from those who are lazy. Now you think about that for a moment. How many pastors and leaders complain about the fact that most of the congregation doesn’t do any work? So what’s the problem? Moan and groan and get all kinds of projects. No. A simple solution. You disfellowship yourself from everybody who is lazy in the gospel. Ah, but there’s a problem there. You might lose a few people.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 – In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

“We command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to keep away from every single brother who is one, idle, and two, does not live according to the rules and the teachings or the traditions of the gospel.” I mean they can talk about fine lotions and they can offer you choice lambs, can’t they? But are they really of zeal and on fire for God? The only way you’re going to know that is to be on true fire for God yourself. The basics, confession of sin, humility, brokenness and a zeal that comes from the Spirit. He goes on to say in verse 7:

2 Thessalonians 3:7-8 – For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.

Paul will write and he’ll say, “We robbed other churches to preach the gospel to you for free.” But Paul knew when he walked into this community, this town, that they were a group of lazy people. And he had to demonstrate to them, “This is what the gospel call is about. The kingdom of heaven is not for lazy people. They are not for people that are idle. It is for forceful men, it is for violent men, it is for men who lay hold of God and do not let go. And please measure everybody who says they’re a Christian by this gospel call. Please, for the name and the love of Jesus Christ, do it. Everybody that you meet that considers themselves a Christian, measure them by this.”

2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 – For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.

They’re not busy, they’re busybodies. A good translation I was looking up is that they work around work. You know what I’m talking about because you all did it in the world. I know you did. Mom gave you a chore, you did more work getting out of the work than you did doing the work. And how many of us have worked for employers, we made ourselves look busy so we didn’t have to work? They’re busybodies, they’re busy working around work. They’re busy doing things that look like they’re serving Jesus Christ so they really don’t have to work. They’re busy doing one little token thing over here so they don’t have to do the thing that Jesus really called them to do. You just busy yourself with things that are useless. You’re just busy to be busy. You keep busy enough maybe the conscience won’t bother you.

2 Thessalonians 3:12 – Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.

He’s not just talking about physical bread, he’s talking about both, both the spiritual bread and the physical bread. Are you earning your spiritual food, all right? Have you earned it during the week when you come to church? When you sit down in the pews and listen to the sermon and you eat that spiritual food have you earned it during the week? Have you been lazy soaking it in, taking it in, it’s been pretty comfortable during the week, you’ve had a great deal of peace, but we’re all happy for you? What about your labor and your work, putting forth the talent and the effort, maybe being in a little pain about people? Not having words to speak. Being distressed and anguished over what’s going on. There are very few times I feel just confident I’ve got every word down and I know just exactly what to say to people. When I’m resting I don’t even know about my own life half the time. You earn your own spiritual food or you’re just idle. Are you just busy? Although it looks spiritual, although it looks like fine lotions, it just doesn’t mean anything.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 – And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

Never tire of doing what’s right. You will. You’ll grow weary. That’s when you fall before Jesus and say, “Strengthen me and lift me up.” I know, I’ve been there. Tired of planting seeds and tired of people falling away and tired of putting the gospel out and looking around and saying, “What benefit is there of it?” Tired of wrestling with my own sin. Tired of growing weary, of every morning coming before God falling in the same sin and saying, “Forgive me.” I say, “God, how can You stand for me to come before You and do this? I’m tired of coming before You.” We must be strengthened by His hand but only forceful men, violent men; men of resolve and soundness take hold of the kingdom.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 – If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

You disfellowship yourself from people who are idle, who do not earn their bread.

Finally, let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:12. It says:

1 Thessalonians 5:12 – Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.

The other day Carla and I were driving through town doing whatever, I don’t know what it is we were doing and saw a church and they have one church service on Sunday. Nice building, the whole bit, and I asked her, “What do you do all week? You at the hospital all week? What do these guys fill their time with? I’d go bananas.” To hold those in regard who work hard among you. That’s who we’re to look to and respect. Not the man who tacks on “Christian,” or “pastor,” or “worker,” or whatever. But those that actually labor and work hard.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 – Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

Live in peace with those who admonish you, with those who correct you, those who work hard among you.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 – And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Warn the idle. It comes from a word that has to do with military rank. Warn those who are out of step. Warn those that as the army approaches seems to be going off in a different direction. No general turns to his military men and says, “Go attack, go in any direction you want.” There’s a rank, there’s a purpose, there’s an order, there’s a line. Go ahead and join the army some time and walk in boot camp and you start walking off in your own direction. I mean if you really think that’s a fun thing to do, go ahead. “Warn those who are idle,” those who are getting out of rank. You have a position, it might be but a private, you might have the lowest part of the rank but you hold your position, you take your talent and you put it to work. You warn those who are idle with those who are not putting to use what they have in the Lord. The church is to be a busy place. And more than a busy place it’s to be a forceful place. You force yourself upon Jesus. You force yourself to lay hold of that kingdom and not let go. Everything else in this world, everything about your sinful nature will tell you not to do that. You can be sure you’re on the right gospel when you’ve got to force yourself to lay hold of Jesus. But when you can lay on a bed of ivory and be comfortable and say, “I’ve laid hold of Jesus,” when it’s easy to get to Him you can be sure you’re in a place of complacency. And let’s lay hold of the kingdom. Let’s be some violent men and women. Let’s find out what little work we’ve been given to do and just lay hold of it. If it’s one letter, you force that letter for all its worth in Jesus Christ. If it’s one person you’ve taken to the cross, if it’s dealing with one sin, you do it until that sin is forced to die. Forceful men lay hold of the kingdom.

Let’s go ahead and pray.

Father, baptize us with Your fire. Dear God, let us see what it really means to work hard in You, to labor for You. Please, God, take our eyes off the nation we live in because, Father, when we look around it’s easy to appear busy. But, Father, let us each seek You, to hear from Your Spirit, to please do what that Spirit has called us to do and deliver us from blindness, oh God. Deliver us from being deceived, oh God. Deliver us from our laziness, oh Lord, which always seeks to drag us down. May we be found to be faithful servants, Father, able to return to You at least one more than You gave us. And we pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.


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Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.