Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 11, 2012

"Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing."  Matthew 26:36-44

God the Father loves us to LIFE with His tender love.
God loves us to DEATH
God’s love has a tough side to it.
Committed love means:
1)    It Has A Purpose
“There are two great days in a person’s life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why”.  SOURCE: William Barclay
2)    It Has A Price
In The Cost of Discipleship Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:  “The cross is laid on every Christian. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death–we give over our lives to death. The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

To know the love of the Father in its fullest you will need to die. You must die to sin and self which keep you from receiving all the love God has to give you. If it required a cross for Jesus what makes you think the price will be lower for you?

3)    It Has A Promise
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Heb. 12:1-3
Our Lord Jesus was willing to endure the unspeakable shame and agony of the cross because He knew the promise that awaited Him - and all those who would believe in Him.
In these two great portions of Scripture - The Prodigal Parable and the Prayer in the Garden - we have seen three different responses to  God's love:
REBELLION – The Prodigal
The story is told (by Ernest Hemingway) of a father and his teenage son who had a relationship that had become strained to the point of breaking. Finally the son ran away from home. His father, however, began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally, in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper. The ad read: “DEAR PACO, MEET ME IN FRONT OF THE NEWSPAPER OFFICE AT NOON. ALL IS FORGIVEN. I LOVE YOU. YOUR FATHER.”

The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office, 800 “Pacos” showed up.

This younger son who became the Prodigal did not receive the love of his father. Instead, he took advantage of that love and indulged himself at the expense of the father's love.

Is that how you treat the love of your Father? Do you selfishly grab the rewards but refuse the responsibilities and the relationship?

You will never know the love of God if that is how you respond to His goodness and grace.

RELIGION – The Older Son
“Religion is hanging around the cross, Christianity is hanging on the cross.” — Stephen Hill
Buddhism has a story similar to the story Jesus told about the Prodigal Son. In the story Jesus told, the father sees his wayward son, and runs to greet him. The prodigal says he no longer deserves to be considered a son, but the loving father throws a party for him and freely restores him to his full honor as a son.

In the Buddhist story, the father finds his wayward son and arranges for him to be given a menial job. Through many years of working as a slave, the son eventually earns his way back into his father’s good graces.

Those two stories illustrate the biggest difference between Christianity other world religions. It’s really simple. You study all the religions of the world and they come down to one word: DO. What can you DO to have religious success in life? What must you DO to earn favor with God? All the religions of the world come back to the word DO.

Here’s the difference. Christianity is all about DONE. It’s about what Jesus Christ has already DONE for us. It’s about God giving Himself to us in the person of Jesus. It’s about Him dying for our sins so that we can enter into salvation. It’s not about what we must DO to earn salvation. It’s about responding to what has already been DONE for us. That is a huge difference.
The older son was not rebellious like his foolish little brother, but neither did he enjoy the relaitonship with his father that he could have and should have. He tried to earn the Father's love and felt entitled to all the status, the security, the safety and the supply he enjoyed by virtue of his birth.

He illustrates those who hover near God and faithfully perform their religious rituals but never really know relationship with the Father or receive His love.

Does this describe your spiritual condition?


The third response to the Father's love is how Jesus responded. Even after He experienced the tough side of God's love, after He had heard the Father refuse Him three times when He had prayed to be spared from the cross. Still He chose to do the right thing and obey the will of the Father despite the incredible suffering it would cost Him.

Jesus valued relationship with the Father greater than His own life. He decided He would love God more than life itself. As a result, He received the love of God in ways that few others ever have known.
Is that how you love God? Are you more committed to being right and remaining in relationship with God than playing it safe and avoiding the pain?

Three ways to respond to the CRAZY love of God:




Which will you choose?