AGCC Sun. a.m. 9/21/1997


TEXT:  Matt. 15:29-39


Many people view Christianity as a way of life that leaves you with losses, where you have to give up so much. Christians are portrayed as sullen, dull, restricted and without smiles or fulfillment. Nothing could be further from the truth! Christ demonstrated that though He asks of us our all, we never are left with less in the end, in fact we cannot lose but only gain through Him! Rather than reject rebellious man, God sent His son Jesus to experience our humanity so that He could give us His own life, not to take away from us our life. The only thing Jesus takes away is our sins!Jesus as God became man...looked like us, felt like us, hurt like us. In this way He opened a door to let us into His own life, He identified with us so we can identify with Him. ILLUS:Oceanside, Calif: Mr. Alter's fifth-grade class at Lake Elementary School made headlines when the boys in the class decided by themselves to shave their heads. They did so, without embarrassment, because one of their own, Ian O'Gorman, developed cancer and had undergone chemotherapy. His hair began to fall out. To make their friend feel at home, to feel one with the crowd, all his classmates agreed to shave their heads, with their parent's permission, so that upon his return, Ian would not stand out from the class. No one would know who the "cancer kid" was. The teacher, Mr. Alter, was so moved by the spirit of his class that he too shaved his head. -- Jim Zabloski, 25 Most Common Problems In Business (Broadman-Holman, 1996), p. 232. Christ is calling us to Himself...and though He asks everything from us, we will not be at a loss in end ... He gives us everything we need for real life! PROP. SENT:      The Bible will teach us that God desires us to belong to Him, not to take from us our life, but to give us His life. We have nothing to lose in coming to Him.

I. CHRIST'S CARE    15:29-32

A. Concern     15:29-31 1. One of the most obvious things about Jesus' ministry is His constant care for those that found themselves in need. a. Rather than resent these people for coming to Him because they were in need, Jesus reaches out to them to help them. b. Often these are people for whom the world could not or would not help. c. Christ could help them because they came to Him. 2. Christ did not reject anyone because they were broken or weak...He only asks that they come as they are....and if so, He will minister to them! a. This is still true, so many people won't be Christians until they think they have their life all put together right, then they will get religion ... b. But Christ wants us to come as we are, if we wait until we think we are good enough we many never come! ILLUS:Early one morning fire broke out in a house on a narrow street. The alarm was sounded by a policeman on duty. Before the fire engines could get to the scene, however, flames were leaping high into the air. Suddenly a young man appeared at an upper window in his pajamas. Firemen quickly placed a ladder against the burning building. But to the consternation of all, he refused to come down, shouting back that he had to get dressed first. The firemen pleaded, "Come as you are! Come as you are!" but to no avail. From below they tried to ascend the stairs, but were turned back as the wind fanned the flames into fury. When a rescuer tried to enter through a window, the heat and smoke forced him away. Suddenly the stairs gave way and the roof fell in. The man had waited too long and was buried beneath the ruins. How much greater tragedy awaits all who refuse to "flee from the wrath to come." Many reject God's provision of salvation and safety in Christ because they want to get dressed up in the clothes of self-righteousness or religion. Their delay could cost them their souls. -- Source Unknown 3. Those who found Christ's love and help were those who were not ashamed to say "I need you Lord"! a. This is still true today, we must realize our need and acknowledge it to find Christ. b. Jesus moved through the crowd of people who had come because they knew they were in need and Jesus didn't disappoint one of them. 4. Only the self-righteous can't find God....those who know their own need are the ones who can find God. a. I wonder how many people missed out on a real blessing from God because they were too proud to come and admit their need? b. How many are like this today, too proud to say they have a need for God in their lives, they have life figured out and everything is fine. 5. What a tragedy to go through this life without ever experiencing God's love and presence in your life! B. Compassion   15:32 1. God is NEVER indifferent to the suffering of the humble, it is only the proud that He ignores. 2. These people had stayed by Jesus' side for 3 days now...they had made contact with Christ a priority for their lives and their physical need for food was becoming a serious issue. a. Jesus recognizes that not only do they need spiritual food, but they need physical food too. b. Christ's heart was moved by the people who had given up 3 full days to follow Him ... c. He will not send them away weaker than when they came to Him, they had nothing to lose coming to Christ and everything to gain! 3. Christ's compassion was real...and very practical...unlike the religious leaders of Jesus' day that only wanted to look spiritual but not care for the needier people...there can be a big difference between being RELIGIOUS and being RIGHTEOUS! ILLUS:I was hungry and you formed a humanities club and discussed my hunger. I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release. I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance. I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health. I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God. I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me. You seem so close to God; but I am still very hungry, and lonely, and cold. -- Source Unknown 4. God looks at us as whole people, not just as "souls"...and He has compassion on us and our needs. 5. Jesus did not want to send them away weak...finding Christ will not make you weaker, it will only make you stronger! II. CHRIST'S CALL    15:33-39 A. Commitment!    15:33-34 1. Jesus' desire to help these 10,000 or so people (4,000 men alone...beside women and children..thus a crowd somewhere around 10,000!) seemed impossible...where would the supply come from? a. The disciples of course saw the impossibility of meeting the need! b. In human terms it looked hopeless 2. Now Jesus really puts His disciples on the spot....He asks them for what they themselves have to meet the need!! 3. When Jesus asked them for what they had to help this crowd they must have thought He was could the little bit they have be enough? a. This has always been the case with God's would seem every time God calls us to minister to others that what we have to do the work is never enough ... b. but it always is!! 4. God has always used "small things" to "great things!" ILLUS:A group of men were carrying on a friendly conversation. One of them remarked that he had learned to be especially careful about small things. "Would you believe," he said, "that a little thing like a pair of socks changed the entire course of my life?" "I can hardly believe that," replied another man. "Well, it's true! Once I planned to take a trip with some of my friends on a canal boat, but two days before we intended to leave, I injured my foot while chopping wood. It was only a small cut, but the blue dye in the homemade socks I wore poisoned the wound, and I was compelled to stay at home. While my friends were on their journey, a powerful preacher came to our town to hold revival meetings. Since I didn't have anything else to do, I decided to attend. The message touched me deeply, and as a result, I surrendered my heart to the Lord. Afterward I saw that I needed to change my life in many ways. New desires and purposes took hold of me. I determined also to seek an education, for I trusted that this would enable me to live more usefully for my Lord." The man who made these comments was none other than the former President of the United States -- James A. Garfield! Don't treat lightly the "little things" in life. They often gravitate to great and important consequences -- Source Unknown 5. Perhaps the disciples thought, "man, if we give up our only 7 baskets of bread and these few fish we have then we are going to be hungry...what about us Lord?" 6. Jesus was asking for everything they had! a. They no doubt were hungry too! b. What could their little bit wouldn't even be noticeable! 7. What they failed to see was that a little bit in the hands of God can have a very noticeable difference on this world!...but He does call them to give all! a. Sometimes we are tempted to think that we as Christians have little impact on this world, but in truth if God's presence through His Church were not here the world would surely notice its absence! ILLUS:An industrial concern in a small city desired certain concessions in order to put into effect a program and expansion. There was the customary element of opposition, which advanced the theory that the company was of no special importance, and the city would fare as well without its presence. Thereupon the company commenced to make payment to its employees in silver dollars instead of the usual paper currency. Silver dollars began to flow over the counters in stores, into filling stations and theaters and refreshment stands. Where silver dollars had been all but forgotten legal tender, they flowed in every kind of transaction. The influence of the company was better understood, and the opposition to the expansion was withdrawn. In a day in which the church is classified as irrelevant, let us be diligent to use our influence, our "salt" and "light", to make a difference in our world. -- Source Unknown b. Don't be afraid to believe that your "little" contribution can accomplish great things....once given to God and blessed by Him it can change a world! 8. God would not let them be on the losing end of this call...He never does with His deals! B. Conduits    15:35-36 1. Those who didn't walk away from Christ found a delightful meal that was more than sufficient for their need! a. They all ate and were satisfied! b. Notice that Jesus did not distribute the food, He broke it and blessed it, but gave it to His disciples to pass out....they participated in giving out what they had given to God ... only it went a lot further after Jesus had touched it than when they had possessed it! 2. God works through His disciples...He did then, and He does now too! 3. It is not how little we have, it is whether God has touched it! 4. What if the crowds had left, what if they had walked away, they would have missed out on God's blessing! 5. So many people today still walk away from God...some actually flee from God, yet He pursues us to help us, maybe we are running from the wrong thing! ILLUS:One evening a woman was driving home when she noticed a huge truck behind her that was driving uncomfortably close. She stepped on the gas to gain some distance from the truck, but when she sped up the truck did too. The faster she drove, the faster drove the truck. Now scared, she exited the freeway. But the truck stayed with her. The woman then turned up a main street, hoping to lose her pursuer in traffic. But the truck ran a red light and continued the chase. Reaching the point of panic, the woman whipped her car into a service station and bolted out of her auto screaming for help. The truck driver sprang from his truck and ran toward her car. Yanking the back door open, the driver pulled out a man hidden in the backseat. The woman was running from the wrong person. From his high vantage point, the truck driver had spotted a would-be rapist in the woman's car. The chase was not his effort to harm her but to save her even at the cost of his own safety. Likewise, many people run from God's provision of atonement on the cross, fearing what He might do to them. But His plans are for good not evil--to rescue us from the hidden sins that endanger our lives. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 37. 6. Has God been trying to catch up to you? Have you been running from Him...did you know He is chasing you to save you, not destroy you? a. Would the disciples be on the losing end of this call of Christ's? b. In giving up what they had, would Jesus forget them while He used what they gave to help others? C. Consequences!    15:37-39 1. Everyone that stayed near Christ was ministered to through His disciples and His miraculous provision. a. God is not limited by man b. God is not limited by man's shortages either! c. God can meet the needs of anyone, spiritual or otherwise...but we must heed the call to come to Him! 2. You will note that not only were all the needs of this crowd of 10,000 + people taken care of, but in the end the disciples had back whatever it was that they had given the end they experienced NO LOSS! a. Although they had back exactly what they had given....they got to share in seeing so many other people taken care of...and they got to keep the joy of having been used by God in their hearts! b. In other worlds, they were far richer in the end than at the beginning though their physical gain was equal to what they gave! 3. You just can't lose when you come to Christ!!! 4. Many times when God calls us we are afraid of losing something, but in fact when all is done it often proves later to be the source of some of the greatest blessings in our lives ... ILLUS:A wealthy English family once invited friends to spend some time at their beautiful estate. The happy gathering was almost plunged into a terrible tragedy on the first day. When the children went swimming, one of them got into deep water and was drowning. Fortunately, the gardener heard the others screaming and plunged into the pool to rescue the helpless victim. That youngster was Winston Churchill. His parents, deeply grateful to the gardener, asked what they could do to reward him. He hesitated, then said, "I wish my son could go to college someday and become a doctor." "We'll pay his way," replied Churchill's parents. Years later when Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. Greatly concerned, the king summoned the best physician who could be found to the bedside of the ailing leader. That doctor was Sir Alexander Fleming, the developer of penicillin. He was also the son of that gardener who had saved Winston from drowning as a boy! Later Churchill said, "Rarely, has one man owed his life twice to the same person." -- Source Unknown 5. What about you....are you too proud to come to Christ? Are you afraid of what He might ask of you? Do you think being a Christian is a losing proposition? a. Those who come to Christ cannot lose! b. What have you got to lose inviting Christ into your life? NOTHING except your sins! CONCLUSION:    In a broken hurting world God shows up, but He doesn't work alone! He asks for everything, but in the end we have no less, only gain! If Jesus could take everything from His disciples and touch a broken hungry world and leave His disciples with no loses in the end, He can do it today too --- what have you got to lose giving yourself to Christ? ... or better yet, "WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO GAIN!?"