Notice I didn't say, tap to Luke 17. On your phone or tablet, whatever. Turn to, that's just a personal preference in mine. I love having a tangible. Physical copy of the Bible. It's not the only way to read, of course, you can read on computer, tablets? What not? But I think there's something special about getting the being able to feel the pages, looking to see you. Paragraphs and in began and just burning that engraving that into your mind.
I'm excited to be back in the gospel, to take a little bit of time to pause to do something a little different unique during the Christmas season. And just a little pop quiz for you. Do y'all remember what for Timothy 1:15 is or why did you just come into the world?
Here are a few rumbling herd immunity maybe not precise wording but yeah, Christ Jesus came into the world to save Sinners. Very good. That's why Jesus came So, Luke 17, I want to read verses 1 to 10, to sway, the hearts and Minds. Then we'll unpack it. Jesus said to his disciples things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come, It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck then cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves, your brother or sister sins against you rebuke them. And if he repents forgive them, even if they stand against you, seven times in a day and 7 X come back to you saying, I repent and you must forgive them. They also said that the Lord increase our faith, you replied. If you have a small as a mustard seed, you can say this mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea and it will obey you. If I was one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the Sheep will be say to the servant when he comes in from the field. Come along now, sit down to eat. Won't he rather say prepare my, supper get yourself. Ready and wait on me while I eat and drink after that, you may eat and drink. Will he think the servant because he did what he was told to do. So you also, when you've done everything, you were told to do. Should say we are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty. The word of God for the people of God. Thanks, be unto God. How many of you all of you in here are familiar with the popular Infamous. Usually, we are familiar with these things because of failure, just to be frank. I looked at a few of the the top 10 top 20, top 15, different resolutions and one season of life for another exercise, more lose weight or can I learn a new skill or hobby saved? Quit smoking, cut back on Alcohol, Tobacco. Travel more read x amount of books last night that you were staying up till midnight. I was sleeping wrong in the New Year through sleep with wonderful. But some people are contentious about it because some people are like it's a waste of time. I personally think more charitable toward him because I think it's good for us to think about goals. Think about things that we're striving for not just coasting regardless. What's more important than goals is who you are in life? What's more important than what you do. It's who you are as a person and see it as human beings. And even as Christians, it's easy for you and I to get caught up in activity, ticket, caught up in this run of just doing the constant. Think about what do I have to do tomorrow when we go to bed, right? The night before, what do I have to do tomorrow? What do I have to do? When I wake up, what I have to do this week, this month this year and again because it's New Year's typically think about these goal that I have for my own life. Below the surface of all of that is who are you as a person? Well, there's a lot going on in these 10 versus here that you may not seem like there's one unifying Factor, the drawers, all these verses together. I personally believe that there's one phrase, one identity, and two words that serve as a thread that unites these 10 versus and that is this unworthy servant. Denver's 10. We are unworthy servants. Now if you would like me, when I personally read this verse is 7 to 10. I initially thought that Jesus was speaking ill of what the Masters doing here. So just to pick it apart really quick. So I suppose one of you guys would use his, this hypothetical kind of figured it example. It's not necessarily real, but it's certainly plausible to injure yourself into these person shoes. Suppose, one of you has a servant or slave an employee that is vernacular suppose. One of you has a servant they're plowing looking after the Sheep. Will you, or will you the master say to the servant after he's done, doing all the outdoors work? Will you say to him come in come on at the table? Brightest Lisa. My mind. I thought that sounds kind of Master being kind to his disturbance is employee. And Jesus kind of speaking against that of the master shouldn't do that. He should be telling that the employee. The servant Noah come in. It's time for you to cook my food. I'm hungry. And I didn't after you do all that, then you can hit. I thought was Jesus speaking against kindness from Superior to somebody serving. No, because you read Ephesians 6 and chapter 4. It's quite clear from God's word, Masters or bosses are to treat servants or slaves, or employees, with respect with dignity, with love with Grace and with care. That's not what Jesus is speaking against here. But rather Jesus is addressing the issue of roles. Responsibilities one's identity, your position in life. If you think this might be a little crude or crass or overbearing upon the servants. You and I can understand this even in the today's contacts. But I mean, you going to Cracker Barrel or whatever your favorite restaurant is, I just don't like Cracker Barrel wherever there's somebody who, what is their primary goal in that role? It's more or less to make you happy, right? It's just review the food accurately whatever you told him it's just serve it quickly. Swiftly it's to make sure your water your tea is refilled constantly to make sure you have all the napkins you need so on and so forth. That's the job. That's the role of the responsibilities that this waiter or waitress has as their identity which we get this in today's day and age. That's what Jesus is saying this service roll. Primarily is to serve to, please the master. I mean just imagine if a waiter or waitress you know they came out with the tray of food and then they they put the food down on the table and then they all the sudden scooted into the booth with you is that you know what, I want some of that food. I've been working hard all day. It's time to reward myself, right? All of us would be shocked at that same. Kind of thing is what's going on here by the Disciples of a shock there? Be what the servant is sitting down at the table before. He's done all that he's supposed to do his His shift is not yet ended the same thing. The servants role is to serve the master. So, for you and I today, right? If you are Christian, Your identity, your position, your role, your responsibilities in life is quite simple. You are and unworthy servant before the Lord. I don't worthy servant, not supposed to and entitled self-centered brat. We are all unworthy Servants of the Lord. And you have to wonder, what is the point of a servant? Is to please and serve the master. Our number one concern, as Christians as unworthy servants should be Lord, what do you want me to do? How can I please you? How can I serve you? So, as we enter into regardless, if you'd like resolutions are not, our focus should not be primarily and supremely on. What goals do I have for this year? What goals do I have for my old life that I can personally Implement for my own personal happiness? Are there a lot of me? I talk right there but rather my charge to you this morning, if you're Christian your number one concern should be father. What do you have for me this year? What do you want me to do this year? What are you telling me to do as your unworthy servant? What are your priorities? How can I please you and serve you this year? Well, I'm glad you asked and I'm glad you care because this passage reveals to us two different commands that we servants must obey. Firstly, pursue Holiness comes from versus 1230, secondly, practice forgiveness, which comes from versus 326.
Pursue Holiness, practice forgiveness. But first, we pursue Holiness. This is one versus one to the beginning of verse 3. The Jesus right here, verse 1. He says, Jesus said to his disciples things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come, You see what Jesus is doing right here immediately. He's dispelling. The notion that the Christian Life is easy but the Christian life will be carefree that I will be able to just post and life. Jesus is stating frankly and certainly things that cause people to stumble are bound to come to. Jesus isn't speaking in general, about hardships about suffering in general, although that's clear in Scripture that we will suffer sickness will suffer the loss of a loved one. But that's not exactly what you was talking about. He specifically talking about Sin and Temptation, English Standard Version, 2 verse it says, Temptations to sin, are sure to come. The New American Standard Bible says, the stumbling blocks are in a vegetable A quick little reminder the language used here. What? What is the Christian Life? What is Christianity? What is the Christian Life? Look like, what is it? Made up of one way to think about. It is as a long hike or very long race, which the Bible the walk with pursue. We March, it had we move forward. I think about, I have a couple of friends who set out to hike the Appalachian Trail thing as last year. And what's the goal, right? You go to, it's from Maine to Georgia. It's thousands of miles, the longest stretches in Virginia, so it's something we can be proud of as Virginians. I've had about five hundred miles of Trail in Virginia, It's a long goal by takes several months to complete if your book in it at a decent pace but the goal is to reach the end, right? If you start in Georgia, to get to Manor vice-versa, that's the goal, the in the goal and to do that, you take one step at a time. You keep your eyes ahead, you keep your eyes forward. But the reality is, if you're not careful, you will hit stumps, you will it logs, you will rock. You hit loose gravel and you will, if you're not careful, you will stumble, you will fall, you'll get hurt trip. You might get a bruise on your knee. You might break your wrist if you'll and wrongly, you might bang your head if you right? If you take a true tumble, The point is there are things in life that will cause you to stumble and is Christian Life. Our goal is to be with haven't celebrated in the Lord's table, we look for sending Temptation what causes to stumble and causes to get hurt. It'll discourage, it'll get our face in the mud and I'll get us distracted. Things that causes people to stumble are bound to come
Even Jesus himself, the God man, immune to temptation. How to be clear? He never send. Of course, our that's clear in the gospels in Hebrews, he never sends but he himself was tempted by Satan and by other people, right? Even Peter, right? You don't know. Jesus treat you you can't go to the Cross. That's foolish. You can't do that. Get behind me. Satan quit. Tempting me to disobey the will of the Father by Jesus himself was tempted.
The reality few and I today is spiritual warfare is real. I do not forget that. I think it's easy for us Christians to come and just Coast through life. And we think it's just what's right in front of me. Forget about the reality that there are demonic forces that there are demons, that Satan is still prowling around in the world like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour looking to trip you and I up Spiritual warfare is real. But you see Jesus's Point here is not to be merely aware of evil and sin out there in the world. It's not public awareness that he's concerned about a rather personal avoidance of sin in your own heart. Wright State and his temptation is all kinds of traps in the world out there. I got that but the key is 100 to anyone through whom they come. Our Jesus is calling you to focus, your attention upon your own hard row to you, if sin and Temptation and causing people to send in the stumble, if it comes through you. Hi. This is a the classic truth that you probably even heard of the secular world that would say understand to a degree. And that's this, you've heard some derivative of it. You can control, what happened, you can't control. What others do you can control, how you respond, right? How many of you have heard something like that before? I think we all have again, the secular World understand it to agree, but they are quite short in the truth of it. Because the reality is we can't control what happens around us but only by the grace of the power of the spirit. Can we control how we respond? You cannot control how others, treat you, but by the grace and power of the spirit, you can control how you treat others, you in and of yourself, can't control the, the, the window, in terms of sin and temptation to hitting you. But you can't just go out and make a little, you and become join a little monk society, and withdraw yourself from the world. Because if you go there sin and Temptation will follow right, no matter how hard you try to isolate yourself from evil in the world, it's still is in your heart to degree, but by the power and Grace of the spirit, you can resist and flee temptation. And that's what Jesus point is. You can't control. What happens around you, but focus on yourself. Your inner being first. 3 to watch yourselves, be on your guard 1st Corinthians. 16 says stand firm in the faith. Watch yourselves, be under guard. Be careful. And that's why he says it in your notice, in verse 2. Says, it would be better for them that person. Be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck. Then they call us one of these little ones to stumble, The reality is the commentators, I've read what it says little ones here. It seems like in general people think that that's referring to Believers, right? Little ones, weak ones. Regardless Luke is referred Luke in Jesus, right? Lucas, the human author, he's referring to weak people. Write the vulnerable. The people who are susceptible to struggling to stumbling with the reality. Is that everyone But maybe the King James version, word, that differently. I think we typically when we see little ones, we think about children and that certainly applies, right? Because children are the the weakest, the most vulnerable, the most susceptible to the schemes of the devil. That is why parenting is such an important task in this world that we live in. Must be taken with somberness with seriousness. It would be better if, right? 100 lb dumbbell was tied around your neck, you were thrown into sherando Lake, then to call is a little child, a fellow believer, another human being to stumble in sin.
Hyperbolically Jesus is stating how Insidious sin and temptation is. Jimmy D, you might respond. I thought you said his first point was pursue Holiness. I haven't heard you say, either of those words, I'm glad you brought it up because you have to understand Our great purpose in life as Christians. It's not merely to fight sin. Play some Churches, I thinking and just some Christians and pain upon your contacts, you grew up and it can be easy for us to just focus on. No. Right. You're not allowed to do this, don't do this. I think of this specifically regarding sexuality and have a church sometime. No no no you can't do this, I got that but what are we called to do? What is the good that we are called to do every command in the right? The Ten Commandments, all of them, if it restricts, you, from something, it's preserving, something good. Know what is it? It's the same regarding scene in general when God tells us, know it's not merely to say, no, it's not merely to be a killjoy is because God is protecting and preserving something far richer and Far More Beautiful. That is this to be in fellowship with him and with his people. That is what you and I are striving for. Not just fights in to embrace to enjoy his grace, His blessings and his promises. Psalm 27 verse for encapsulate, it so well. Encrypted memorizes, first this year. Psalm 27 verse for one thing, I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek That I may dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, to Gaze on the beauty of his face.
I'm into that church. That's the one thing that we should desire gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, to be in his house to dwell with him in Perfection, unhindered Fellowship. That's our goal. To pursue Holiness, right? You will not win the battle to send, if all you say is no, because if you say no to one send, you will say yes to another sin. It is just human nature. The way to battle and fights in to watch yourselves to stay pure to stay home and clean before the Lord to see to it, that we don't cause others to stumble, the way to do that is by pursuing holiness. Right. That's another one of those words that kind of used in the past, we don't get to talk about it, much in church today but what is Holiness? Holiness is separate anise. It said Apartments, it's, it's being cleansed in pure from, as opposed to the stench of this world. That's what you and I called the B2B holy to be set apart to be distinct from the world in which we live. 2023. As unworthy servant. I encourage you to pursue holiness. Their many understand. That's a massive topic of the second thing will go over in just a moment. Practicing, forgiveness, massive topic. Each of them, deserving of their own sermons. And really, the Bible has so many pastors how to pursue Holiness, but I want to leave you with two specific ones,
They're simple. You've heard them before, but it's a good to be reminded of the truth as Peter says and 2nd, Peter chapter 1. What are the two? Read the Bible. Cultivate Christian Community. Be in the word of God cultivate and pursue Christian Community by we hear it every year, it's because we need to hear it every year. Might be in the word. I don't know what this looks like a life. I dunno. The Jesus clearly tells us we cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God, you will not need the Bible. We need Scripture, we need to read it. We need to meditate on it but that looks like a reading the Bible through a year plan. Go for it. It may just look like reading one chapter a day, go for it. If the business and the reality of life just weighs upon you read, a few verses, read the passage of paragraph 10 versus something. You need the Bible. And I think in general, A good rule of thumb to live by is a whole quality over quantity thing. Tell if you read 35 chapters a day, if your trying to read through the year that's commendable, but if you close the Bible and if you don't remember, I saying that you just read that's not really helpful in the Christian walk. I think it's better to read 5 versus meditate on one. Think about one throughout the entirety of your day so you can constantly feed upon it and draw strength from it. So your day, So, secondly, cultivate Christian communities at my house. It's me in the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and God's people are Christianity. So much bigger than just, me and God Christianity is personal but it is not private. You cannot be a faithful Christian and ignore God's people. That's I commend you for being here today. I say that several times in my preaching and I truly mean that simply showing up being here is massive. The ministry of presence just simply being here to greet others. Seeing you together to pray, to your Gods, worth is a wonderful Act of obedience to cultivate Christian Community. But do it more and more. Right.
Open up your home to invite other Christians could be family, could be friends. Could be church. People open up your home called the intentional of pursuing Christian Community. That's how we pursue Holiness just to specific ways. I can command. The reason we're, the servants must obey. It's a practice forgiveness. If a is 32 verse 6, your brother or sister sins against you rebuked them and if they repent them even if they sin against you seven times in a day and 7 X come back to you saying I Repent, you must forgive them. The Apostle said, the Lord increase our faith. He replied. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say this very tree be approved, it entered in the sea and Obey you forgiveness. It's one of those topics that everybody loves to talk about. Everybody loves to receive, but almost nobody wants to practice personally. Because I truly think this is one of the hardest, if not the hardest thing that you and I are called to do in this life is to forgive others. As God has first forgiven us. Master topic, right? It takes a lifetime to unpack to understand the practice, but here's a few little bits of clarity. They don't offer on this topic of forgiveness. Well, back and forth. I've been told to forgive and forget it's hard. I, I, I don't know how to do that, forgive and forget, but the reality is, that's not what God calls you to do. Is it necessary to forget? What, what about that verse in Isaiah, but it's often Hebrews, Hebrews 8:12 When God says, I will forgive you. And remember their sin? No more. So, he's a rhetorical question for you. Does God have amnesia voluntary amnesia? No he doesn't right, God knows everything is omniscient. That's one of the doctrines of God. He knows everything. So it's not as though he just somehow blocked out of his mind. He doesn't remember it anymore. But rather the word for remember, in the context of what it means to remember, I'm not going to remember. You said it means, I'm not going to count it against you. I'm not going to hold it against you. I'm not going to hold it over your head. I'm not going to treat you as your sins deserve. I'm not going to bring up your sin constantly. And hold it over your head in a guilty fashion. When God says, give the exact same thing. I think it might be impossible to truly unless the spirit helps you to truly forget it in this life. Forgive don't count it as somebody don't. Hold it over somebody's head. Well, then you might respond. If I forgive somebody who's really hurt me. Implicitly saying that sin has no consequences. I'm saying that sin is little unimportant. They can just be glossed over and swept over it swept under the rug I'm not saying that at all. Either is God or his word. Sin does have consequences. What scripture is quite clear that they will always bear the fruit of Wrath of death and of judgments. Send will always lead those fruits. But you have to understand forgiveness. It's one of the greatest acts of humility and Faith. You can exude in your life because in forgiving those who you are, implicitly saying to God, lord is in your hands.
Right. Doesn't it's not you that God doesn't care about Sin cross. You see clearly how seriously God takes in. Pressing it to God and forgiving others before God almighty we're saying Lord. Judgement is in your hands. I'm accusing myself from being that tool unless you're in law enforcement. Are, you know, you're in the judicial branch of government, which not many of us are We're saying Lord judgment is in your hands, right? That's humble to say something like that, trusting that God will take care of it and his due time it in his way. Another May pressed his conception of forgiveness. You must be best friends with the person who defended you and forgiving them. Not at all. Find the verse where it says that it is not in the Bible reality isn't, you know, this in your own life if trust was broken, it takes a long time if at all for it to be restored, I think I heard Charles Spurgeon, read it somewhere. Charles Spurgeon said something to the effect of the beard of reputation. Once shorn, doesn't easily grow back. No meat. No me to call out, but I mean, Jonathan, Bowman's beer right now is very, very impressive, very envious. Hopefully, I got the way, but write a beard. That is short doesn't easily or quickly grow back. The same is true with trust and with reputation. It doesn't mean that you have to be best friends with somebody. That doesn't mean you have to be buddy, buddy and just act like everything is cool between you know
But it does mean you forgive them. Did you release their grip of a pain and bitterness? You released that from holding and being a cloud over your life. I just put one last thing I'll say is you know what? Forgiveness is just playing hard. I don't want to and you notice what Jesus says here. Don't say if somebody said to you, he says, if your brother or sister sins against you, Starting to a fellow to a fellow Christian. in the reality is, Lost sins against us.
But the reality is if it's a loved one, if it's a Christian, if it's somebody who claims to follow Jesus, who sinned against us, the pain is even more real and more Raw. if your brother or sister sins against you, And if I haven't done that yet, personally hope 2023 is not the year but I'm going to do it at some point. I will affect you and I will send against you at some point and you likewise to me pay if you like what you want another
But what if we do, right? Jesus gives us instructions for when those moments come. Rebuke them if they repent forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day, seven times come back to you saying I Repent. You must forgive them. This is extremely hard to do. That's why the apostles by Peter James, and John, and Philip all of them responded for give us more faith. But you see?
The reality is to forgive. It's based out of Ephesians 4:31 252. The power, the strength of the motivation to forgive. Is found in the gospel. One of my favorites.
431 infusions for get rid of all bitterness rage and anger brawling, and slander along with every form of malice, The implication there is that the church the Ephesians Christians, you and me. some of these things blight, our souls Fight bitterness. How many of you experienced business recently? Rage? Anger. Broiling. Slander. Malice ill-will towards somebody. Find all of us feel those things. Sadly, practice those things. Different times in life to get rid of it. And when you think about it in reality, that's how you and I treat God, constantly continually in our sin, bitter towards him were angry. We are raging and in Wrath towards him with, we like to brawl and fight against him. Lord, your word says, but I don't like it. I'm going to go my own way.
Which slander his name or the third commandment. Do not take the lord's. Name in vain, we slander. His name.
432 pecan and compassionate other again to Christian to one another, to the family. Be kind and compassionate. One another forgiving each other. This is the key right here just as in Christ God forgave you Follow God's example. Therefore is dearly loved children. Walk in the way of love as Christ. Loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
God never calls you to do something that he himself is not first done or that he himself first is God calls you to forgive others. Say that's hard. Not to do that. That's impossible. I don't want to.
Does follow that example. Just in Christ God, forgave you. Need another truth. I've heard from a book or something. I don't remember exactly where that's the most important thing. It's not for me. But it's whatever the law requires the gospel. Producers. Whatever the law requires. The gospel produces neither tall orders from God, to forgive in numbers shelf, you cannot do that. But the gospel of God, to the power of the spirit can work through you to fulfill that command. That is really the only way you can obey it.
Sabacc in Luke. Chapter 17. We need some extra strength to do this. And Jesus says, if you have a small as a mustard seed, you can say to the Mulberry Tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea and it will obey you. What is he saying here? Jesus. Is addressing the issue that it's not about how the quantity of your faith but rather the object of your faith by faith, is not some kind of currency in which you can. I've got $10 worth of faith. I need $20 to forgive somebody, that's not how Faith Works. But rather faith is merely the strength of your faith. Depend entirely upon the object. If you're walking on a frozen lake that had that cold spell recently, seems like it's springtime again with us today. But during that culture, like, it doesn't matter how much you trust that like to hold you up or not a comforting. You are doesn't matter. What matters is. How thick is the ice? That's the only thing that matters in a trailer or something. It doesn't matter how strong you think it is. How much faith in that you might have, what matters is, how strong it truly is. So we you and I don't need is more faith per se, but you and I need is a deeper knowledge of how strong and loving and gracious. God is Because we embrace the gospel is, we understand the gospel, more and more, our faith will grow. Our actions will grow in terms of forgiving others. Follow God's example. He has forgiven you. So, do Church. but if you're Christian, the reality is this. Jesus has saved you from the penalty of sin. I saved you from the punishment of sick. You got a crude way of thinking about it is right? He'll fire insurance, right? You're covered. You're safe. When you die, you're going to heaven. That is not secure. But here in the world, we stepped live underneath the power and the presence of sin not fully rescue from it. Yet that will happen. If one of your glorified God, Jesus comes back to raise us from the grave. But until then, you are called to serve God as unworthy servants. You and I are called to walk in step with the spirit. On the way to do that. The way that walk in step with the spirit to be in line with Christ, all over his own heart. Was the question we opened up with father?
He's helped to witness. Practice life. That's what you must start. The church in 2023 rather than give you a bunch of a kind of secular shallow goals, so they could be good, could be good. I want to charge you pursue Holiness, practice forgiveness this year, as unworthy servant of God. May you not remember our identity who we are servants before the Lord. That's not that's not you know a slander that's not low-ball himself that he likes to refer to Christ Jesus. I'm a servant of Christ and I'm going to an unworthy one at that. It's a beautiful honor that we can have. May you not do our duty to fulfill our duty. Is God and Jesus has called us to do.
Let's pray and then we'll close with the doxology.
Holy Spirit, please take your truth. Embedded deep into our hearts. Clint Eastwood newest. Holy Spirit, give us the strength. We need. Pursue you.
Especially those who are closest to us.
Help us to be quick to forgive, quick to confess before you. Frustrating as mysterious as a might be. Give us a posture. The continually grows in the Forgiveness that you first showed to us.
Help us to grow Jesus. We need you apart from you. We are nothing. But with you and buy your power, all things are possible. Help us to do the impossible today. And this year, I living a Christian Life, The Godly life and a loving life. Give me these things to you, not asking for our will but yours alone to be done in Jesus name we pray. Amen.
the grass withers, the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord indoors forever, Will you stand and sing the doxology with us?