Impact—There’s a “Matthew 11” waiting in the wings

By the Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

Waiting.in.the.wings

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  He answered, “No.”

Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:19-23[1])

Crowds of thousands were leaving the cities and braving the heat of the desert to hear John the Baptist preach his message. Hundreds were responding to his unashamed appeal to repent and turn to God. Yes, John was in the height of his ministry but he didn’t see the big picture. He didn’t truly realize the impact he was making. In fact, he didn’t even know who he really was.

News of John’s preaching spread all over the region. So, the religious leaders made their trek out to the wilderness as well. They wanted to see what all the commotion was about. Why were so many drawn to the sound of his voice? The religious leaders wanted to find out what the source of the power was in this preacher’s words. “Who are you?” they demanded. What they were really asking was, “Who gave you the authority to do what you’re doing? We certainly didn’t!”

John hadn’t followed protocol. He didn’t go to Jerusalem to preach as prophets had always done. No, he didn’t go to Jerusalem. Jerusalem came to him!

“Are you Elijah, the Prophet, who is to precede Messiah?” they asked. John’s answer was astonishing. “No, I am not!” John said, “No.” Yet, Jesus clearly stated in Matthew 11 that John was The Prophet and mush more!

Matthew 11

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? [A metaphor for something weak or wavering] 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. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’” [Malachi 3:1]

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he [because John prepares for, but does not fully participate in the blessings of the kingdom]. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, [Or has been forcefully advancing] and violent [forceful] people have been raiding it [Or forcefully laying hold of it]. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah [in spirit] who was to come.” 

Why did John say “No,” to the inquiry of the priests and Levites? I think that he honestly saw himself as little more than a country preacher. John knew that there was a distinct call on his life and found his identity in the words of Isaiah as “one calling in the desert.” However, was he aware of the impact that his ministry was having? Did John know the influence his life would have on history? I don’t believe he did.

John was a lot like a lot of us in that respect. We don’t often see the big picture. Therefore, we don’t see the importance of our role in God’s grand design. Besides chances are we may never know, this side of Heaven, the impact our life is having on those around us. You may think that you have little to offer God and others, but there’s a “Matthew 11” waiting in the wings. In other words, you may not know the impact your life is having… but God does!

 

Video version of this message at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsNJK_FsSuk
[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2001, 2005 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

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The Prize

Woman-praising-God-in-beachBy The Mad Preacher

Jesus said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.—Jesus (Matthew 13:45-46 HCSB) 1

Notice that the man sold everything he had in order to get that which his heart desired. What does your heart desire? What price are you willing to pay for it? What price are you willing to pay for the greatest prize of all time? What would you pay for the priceless pearl?

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) 2

What did Paul mean by this statement? Many have interpreted this passage incorrectly. They say that it’s a reference to salvation, or how well we perform in order to get or maintain it. However, Paul was not speaking of competition. He was referring to the dedication and devotion involved in giving your all to something. In the same way a runner dedicates himself, mind, body and spirit to winning a race, we should dedicate ourselves to obtaining “the prize.”

Paul continues this thought. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

He continues this theme in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This prize is something that we’ve been call to. We were created for this one goal.

“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize…” (Colossians 2:18)

Well, what is this prize that Paul keeps talking about? First, let me tell you what “the prize” is not. It’s not salvation, for that is by grace not good deeds. It is a gift. (Ephesians 2: 8-9) It’s not Heaven. Heaven is the retirement plan. (John 14: 3)

It’s not righteousness or piety, for 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Nor is it wisdom, for James said that wisdom is ours simply for the asking. So what is this prize to which Paul keeps referring?

It found in Philippians chapter 3. “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: [this is the key] Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Vs. 7-14)

That’s the prize—to know God. That’s our ultimate reason for living. We were created to know God, to walk in fellowship with Him and be a co-laborer with Him. When Paul cried out in verse 10, “I want to know Christ…” the Greek word he used for “know” is Ginosko. It means to become intimately acquainted with someone. It’s the word the New Testament Greek used for sexual intercourse.

As the bride exclaims, “I want to know my husband!” the heart’s cry of the Bride of Christ should be “I want to know Christ! More than anything I want to know Him.” The verse 15 in Philippians chapter 3 says, “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things…”

“O God, I have tasted your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want you; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me your glory, I pray, that I may know you indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow you up from this misty lowland where I have wondered so long. In Jesus’ name, Amen” — A prayer from A. W. Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God.

[1] Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

[2] Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2001, 2005 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.