Follow the Master

In my time at The Crossing I have had a lot of questions and on that continually returns is why I don’t preach more about the end times. I think the short answer would be because I prefer to preach about the beginning times.  Stated in theological terms I prefer soteriology over eschatology.

I prefer to speak to you about the Hope we have in Christ, the things we have control over and not the things we have no control over. I prefer to speak to you about starting your eternal life today and not to tell you the story of the end result.

Have you ever seen competitive dog shows where the dog is taught to run through a course of stairs, and tubes, and hurdles, and ladders?  The trainer teaches them the way by slowly by guiding them through each new skill and then rewarding them. Finally as the dog progresses the trainer strings that skills together and teaches them to run the course as a whole. He then rewards them for reaching the end of the course.

The dogs have a blast. See dogs are pack animals that they Love to be involved in what the lead dog is involved in. They Love to have the attention of the lead dog and they love to do what the rest of the dogs are doing. Not to mention that when they finish they get the prize. (a piece of meat or kibble)

One night while watching some talk show, Carson, Leno, or more likely Letterman and the dog act there played a little trick. It was a comedy/dog act that had these fabulously trained dogs that all did cool tricks. At one point all of the dogs ran through an obstacle course like I mentioned and when they completed it they were justly rewarded. But as the next crew of dogs ran the course the last dog in the pack ran around them all and around the obstacles to directly to the end. There he stood on his hinds legs when the other dogs finally arrived, waiting there for the master to deliver his prize.

Of course the Master looks at him in a big campy way with shock and dismay. He looked back at the course and back at the dog, the course, the dog… Then in a big motion he pointed to the dog and then to the front of the course. “Start over and do it right.”

I guess that is how I feel about talking a lot about the end of days. I feel like the course is what we need to concentrate on, the way to run the course, and the assurance that we have a good Master will not fail to deliver the prize.

One of the first times we hear Jesus teaching is a collection of lessons for running this course He is relating them to a group of people who follow Him up a mountain to hear Him.

In fact, the opening verse of this event is very revealing all by itself.

Matthew 5:1 “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them”

So Jesus could have just stood in the crowds and started speaking, but Jesus is more interested in speaking to those who want to hear Him. He wants to be with those who are willing to come with Him to hear. He is not interested in screaming at a faceless crowd.

As he speaks to them he finishes in what we call Chapter 7. He just called it, awhile later. J

The finish of this list of guidance to his disciples Jesus says something that might be confusing to those who are sitting there, but with hindsight being 20/20 we seem to understand.

Matthew 7:15-23

15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

 21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

“22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

This is the first indication that Jesus has given that He has any authority over the connection of these people and the Father or these people and Heaven. And what does he say about that?

Matthew 7:21-23

21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

Notice the list of things He mentions that these people did: THEY prophesied, THEY drove out demons, THEY performed miracles.

Notice that they did not say, “’Lord, Lord, didn’t you prophesy through us, and in your name didn’t we feed hundreds of homeless people, and give them shelter?”

NOPE, WE prophesied, WE drve out Demons, WE performed miracles.

I NEVER performed a miracle… Not one.

You NEVER performed a miracle… Not one.

How does Jesus describe these people?

15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Jesus seems to be warning us that there will be those who will come and prophecy about things that bear no fruit.

15″Watch out…

16By their fruit you will recognize them.

These prophecies will bear no fruit for those listening.

But that isn’t a big problem is it? He’s just talking about bad preachers who don’t know any better, right? No, listen to what he says about these people.

15″… They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

So why do these wolves spend time planting trees that bear no fruit? Oh that isn’t what Jesus says. He says that they bear bad fruit.

If I were going to stop you from gathering good fruit it is far more productive to keep you gathering bad fruit than to try to get you to sit down. Good workers don’t sit down easily and love work.

Remember our dog friends. I know we’re not dogs. But we are like them in many ways. 

We love to run with the pack.

We love to be doing something for that Master.

We love to think about the prize.

So what is our prize?

 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.

  Revelation 20:11-21:7

 11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

 6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

So, what is the bad fruit that the enemy will lead you to?

For some it is the same prize that Jesus is showing us; the final days of this earth and the deliverance of Heaven.

Just like our friends the dogs, he is going to do all he can to get is to keep looking at the end, keep looking down there, keep looking down there.

But that is not what the Master had in mind is it? No,  the Master has shown us the way.

 

 

John 14

5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.

15″If you love me, you will obey what I command.

23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.

23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

You see, there is no prize for those who run around the course. Jesus did not simply bypass the course.

There is no shortcut people. If you keep running to the end of the course then you will never receive the prize.

I beg you, to follow the Masters path.

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About toddcbrown

The body of Christ will never grow if the Pastor is the one using his gifts to MAKE IT grow through some cool program or inspiring turn of a phrase.
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