Living to Die & Dying to Live

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Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.

Barbara Smith

A chicken and a pig came upon a church building and read the advertisement on the billboard out front, which read, “Help Us Feed the Poor.” Immediately the chicken suggested they help feed the poor with bacon and eggs. The pig thought for a moment and said, “There is one thing wrong with feeding bacon and eggs to the poor. For you it only requires a contribution, but for me it requires total commitment.”

Many in the church today do not want to be totally committed to the Lord because it demands too much of them.

Webster’s Dictionary says “To commit oneself says one is to speak or act in such a manner as to bind oneself to a certain line of conduct.”

Commitment to Jesus Christ is more than a definition: it requires my life, my soul, and my all. But too often find ourselves lingering between being committed and uncommitted.

In the following scripture passages the life of the uncommitted and the committed are presented to us.

1. Are you Uncommitted?

Matthew 19:16-22
16 “Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ” ’You shall not murder,’ ’You shall not commit adultery,’ ’You shall not steal,’ ’You shall not bear false witness,’
19 ’Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Self rather than the ways and work of God. (vs.16)

“What good thing shall I do that I may have…”

Self-centeredness is the hallmark of our society today. The only thing that people seem to care about is their own desires, their own wishes, their own satisfaction no matter what the cost or the consequences.

Most marriages dissolve because of the self-centered attitude of the married couple. Neither is willing to give themselves completely to the other, but each wants to live their own lives as a single but still be married. Marriage still requires surrendering our own desires and wants to the will of God and to make the relationship work at all costs.

Our self-centered attitudes have spilled over into every realm of life:

Our children are disrespectful of parents or any form of authority because they have been told that whatever they want they can have and no one has the right to stop them or to punish them.

Our Representatives and Senators have become so self-centered concerning their own jobs and popularity that they will sell out the security of our nation if it is necessary to win a few votes.

Our leaders are so wrapped up in their own plans and desires for political and financial gain that they no longer seem to be concerned about our nation and rush headlong into making decisions that fly into the face of God as if to say we want no part of you anymore.
Those that are Uncommitted focus on Keeping laws and legalistic works rather than the Word of God.

“All these things I have kept …”

Its not about keeping a bunch of do’s and don’ts. Its about keeping the laws of grace and mercy and obeying the commandments to live a holy life.

We get so caught up in judging others that we forget about the sin in our own lives.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Riches of the here and now rather than the riches of Heaven.

“Go and sell and follow Me.” – Treasure and heart issues

The Bible tells us that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be also. In a world that is so caught up in materialism and self-gratification, it’s no wonder that people don’t have a heart after God.
It has been my experience that it does not matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you have a lot or very little of this world’s goods, you can still be materialistic.

If you get more upset over your car getting scratched, or your new carpet getting stained, or you new clothes being ruined than you do over the sin in your life then you are materialistic.

If we set our hearts on the things of God and lay up our treasures in Heaven, those little situations won’t mean nearly as much to us.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Keeping rather than giving.

“He had great possessions”

Mark 8:36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
What good will houses and lands and all the possessions of this world do you when this life is over.

I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul! You can’t take it with you. You came into this world with nothing and you will go out of it with nothing.
The only things that will follow you are the souls that you have won to Jesus and the good works that you did for the Lord with the right heart. Everything else will be burned away.

How about you and I?

Are we part of the uncommitted always focusing on self rather than God?

This man who came to Jesus was looking for a better method of getting what he wanted rather than wanting God to make him a better man.

We are prone to look to God for greater ways and means to accomplish our goals … whereas God is looking for us to surrender our lives and give our soul to accomplish His goals.

Jeremiah 7:3-8
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
4 “Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ’The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.’
5 “For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
6 “if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,
7 “then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. 8 “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit.
God never gives up on the uncommitted.

He is always calling and challenging the uncommitted to commit to Him.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself

2. Are you Committed?

Matthew 10:34-39
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
35 “For I have come to ’set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;
36 “and ’a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
37 “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
39 “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

1)Those who are Committed focus on Inner Peace rather than a temporal peace of man. (vs.34)

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

This is peace that no amount of troubles can take away. This is peace that will be with you in the middle of every storm.

I don’t know how people who don’t know the Lord can survive in this world. It is no wonder than so many are committing suicide or end up in a mental institution. Without Jesus there is no real peace.

2)Those who are Committed focus on Relationship with Christ rather than with family and friends. (vs.35-36)

Certainly, family and friends are important and must have a high priority in your life, but nothing must come before your relationship with God.

Jesus still holds us to the commandment that says thou shalt have no other God’s before me. Anything and anyone who separates us from God or who stands in the way of our relationship with God becomes an idol to us.

If we focus first on a relationship with Jesus, then all of our other relationships will be far greater because of the Love of God that will be made manifest in us.

3)Those who are Committed focus on Love worth finding rather than selfish love of man. (vs.37)

What is real love anyway? Most people confuse lust with love, or physical attraction with love, or the feeling that this is right with love. None of those these have anything to do with love. They only have to do with two people with an uncontrollable lust.
Love is really found when we still care about someone after we have seen them at their worst.

When the dirty clothes are stacked to the ceiling, the dirty dishes beg for your attention, the sick babies are crying in you ears and pulling on your leg, the creditors are ringing your phone every 20 minutes and we haven’t even had time to brush our teeth or comb our hair. If you can still look at one another after all of that and feel love, then you can say we truly have love one for another.

Love is also giving without expecting anything in return.

Love is doing all you can do for someone else, and when you are feeling totally exhausted and can’t seem to take another step, love will get up and go another mile if asked to do so.

4) Those who are Committed focus on Discovering the Source of Life rather than being the source. (vs.39)
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.

We are to be Committed to God first of all.

Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus said to him, ” ’you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the first and great commandment.

Those who are committed to God will not have trouble meeting any of their other commitments. The pure love of God and our pure love for Him will keep us on the right path.

Secondly we should be Committed to Church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

How can we say that we love the Lord and yet fail to attend the services where God can speak to us and through us?

No man is an island. We need each other to grow, to have strength for the battle.

How can we say we love God and yet fail time and again to come together to meet with Him and to be around the people of God?

How long would your marriage last if there was no togetherness and no communication?

How can we say we love God when we don’t even care what goes on at God’s house?

Is your commitment to Jesus Christ and the truth that leads you into a loving peaceful relationship with Him?

Are you willing to die to the things of this life that you may live in Christ and obtain a life that is far more peaceful and fulfilling than the life the world offers?

Conclusion:

An African Pastor was threatened by rebels who demanded that he renounce his faith or die. He refused. The night before they took his life, he wrote the following lines on a scrap of paper:

I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.” I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I’ve stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals!

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or burn up till I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops.

And when He comes to get His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear.
How about you?

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Are you living to die? Or, are you dying to live?

If we will live this life in search of the truth of the Gospel, in search for the true love of God, in search of the peace that passes all understanding and in search of commitment to Jesus as Lord, then we will be ready for that life which is yet to come. At the moment of our death we will enter into the Glories of Heaven.

If we live this life in our own way, forgetting God, forsaking and rejecting His great salvation, then we are already walking dead in our sin. The end of this life is only a step down into a deep dark and terrible eternal death where we will be always dying but never really die.

Come to Jesus – ONLY THEN CAN YOU REALLY EXPERIENCE WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT.

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