Your Priority Decides your Destiny

Series: Your Priority Decides your Destiny| Title: General |  Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: December 10, 2017

We are reading from  Luke 14:15-24 

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him,  “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ”

The Setting:

Here we read a parable where Jesus was sitting at a house of leader of the Pharisees on a Sabbath day.  It was not just an ordinary settings, usually we see miracles taking place when Jesus used to be in the synagogue, preach in synagogue.  I am giving you setting now.  We are reading from Luke chapter 14 and there is an important message for you and for me, that message says “Your priority decides your destiny”.

Think about Jesus sitting in the house of a Pharisee on Sunday morning.  Jesus was not going to the temple but instead Jesus chose to be in the house of a Pharisee. There was a man sitting in front of Jesus.  Bible says he was a man who had a special sickness called Dropsy, in the current terms we can call it as Edema, a man suffering with swelling all over his body – excessive fluid collection.  Jesus was trying to handle the argument there because day being a Sabbath day, Jesus was opening the question “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”  Jesus was a little naughty there, he was just throwing that question for an argument and Jesus healed him perfectly.

Then he was talking about humbling ourselves when we are invited to a wedding, Jesus was saying, you just go and sit at a lowly place.  Don’t go and sit at the place of honor, so that if you need to be honored, somebody will come and lift you up to honor you.  Today, at times we try to take honor by ourselves, we don’t wait for the God to lift us up.  Jesus was teaching very clearly to take the place that is lowly. 

Then Jesus talked about this parable of the great supper.  One of the man who sat there said, Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Then Jesus opened His mouth with this parable that we read.

The Parable:

It says,  a certain man hosted a supper and he invited many people.  At the time of the supper he also sent one of his servants, to go and tell everybody that the supper is ready – also sent a reminder.  But Bible says, they all together made excuses.

  • The first one came and told the servant, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I need to go and see it’.
  • Second one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them in the field’.
  • Third one came and said, ‘I just got married, and I want to spend time with my new wife’.
  • Three person came with three different excuses.
  • The servant came reporting that to the master, Bible says the master became really angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring here the poor and the maimed, those who got hurt and the lame, those who couldn’t walk and the blind, those who couldn’t see’.
  • Servant did as exactly, what the master told.  He brought everybody into the supper hall.
  • Servant said, ‘We still have room’.  And the master said, ‘Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel everybody to come to the supper, that my house will be filled’. He did so.
  • Finally he said, ‘For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper’.

End of the parable was not that great.  Jesus  said, ‘I invited many but they did not come.  They had enough excuses to tell.  Those who did not come, they are not going to taste my supper’.  Jesus talked about this supper of lamb of God.  Jesus talked about, they are not going to get into heaven. 

Life priorities taking over kingdom priority:

Master invited people for a supper.  What is that supper refers to in the biblical context.  It is an opportunity to have fellowship with God, it also means it is an opportunity to hear the Lord- breaking bread and sharing bread refers to the Word of God, supper also means taking time of prepare ourselves to take part in the Holy Communion – supper of the lamb of the God.  Don’t miss communion Sunday.  You need to be in the house of the Lord on the day of communion.  We don’t know how many communions we’ll be able to have together on this earth but we need to be there, don’t miss any opportunity. 

What are life priorities?

  • Think about the first one, come and told the master, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it’.
  • Second one told, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them’.
  • Third one came and told, ‘I just got married, and I want to be with my wife, I cannot come’.

Three things that we need for our daily living – a place to build a house, a livelihood or a business, thirdly a wife.  All those three things are really necessary necessities for life.  Yes, they are very necessary.

Is there anything wrong in buying a land? Is there anything wrong in buying a business ? Is there anything wrong in getting married ?  

Some of the churches preaches that too.  You cannot have a land on this earth, you have a hold, you cannot go to heaven.  That’s not right, that’s wrong.  Some of the churches preach against buying a business and doing a business.  You need to be careful about whom you partner but God is able to bless you through your businesses.  Some of the churches even talk about not getting married.  Three things Bible is talking about and these three individuals came with reason, why they are not able to come for the supper.  There is nothing wrong, they need to go after these things which are necessary for their life.

What is the problem here?  Why Master/ God has to get angry when people said excuses?

    1. When the necessities of life becomes as excuse for not meeting the kingdom priorities.

Not just one person doing this.  Verse 18 says, But they all with one accord began to make excuses.

So when the necessities of life becomes an excuse for not meeting the kingdom priorities, that’s where the problem began.

What are the kingdom priorities?

  • Coming for the supper when invited.

As I said, supper is the time of fellowship, supper is the time of hearing Word of God, supper is the time of being united through Holy Communion with Lord God.  At times the kingdom priorities change.  Your priority may not be my priority but all of us have kingdom priority.

What else is the problem?

     2. All these three life priories that they talk about, were just new and fresh, they are interesting to explore.

He just bought that land.  He just bought that the yoke of oxen, he wanted to test.  He just got married. All these life priorities were new and fresh, interesting to explore.  When life priorities become more interesting than the Word of God, than seeking God’s presence, then there is a problem.  When we are not saved, God tells us, you need to give your life to Jesus.  We think that’s all we need and we give our life to Jesus.  But when we become children of God, God tells us, ‘I want you to move further, I want you to get involved in the ministry, I want you to share the love of God, I want you to sing, I want you to do this or that’.  If we don’t do those things it becomes a problem.  When we do all this kind of things in our life, God tells us at some point of time, what ever you did in this world is enough, now separate yourself for the work of God.  This morning, ‘I am talking to you not to anyone else’.  Our God is a God who demands as you yield your lives more and more, the demands of God is so heavy on your life.

     3. There is no excuse when it comes to the matter of God.

All three of these individuals asked for excuse, but they were not excused.  When we say excuses to God, we take it  granted that God accepts our excuses but that’s not true.  Their excuses were not accepted.  If their excuses would have been accepted –

  • The supper would have got cancelled.
  • Probably he would have said, ‘I am postponing supper to another day’.  But he did not do that.

When it comes to the work of God, if we say excuses, God is not going to wait for us.  The precious salvation God brought to his own Children – Jewish people, it was rejected.  God did not wait.  He invited everybody like you and me.  Salvation became so acceptable and available for Gentiles.  Our excuses cannot stop God.

The alternate plan of the Master:

Verse 21 says the Master of the house became angry.  Think about it, our excuses at times makes God angry.

  • the excuses never stopped God from getting angry
  • the excuses they asked, never allowed God to give them another chance.  There was no other chance given to them.

 There are two measures taken by the Master:

Measure 1:

Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed (injured) and the lame and the blind.   

Who are they?  They are the people who are living in the streets.  They were not the invitees, they are the Gentiles.  They were not the original people of God.  They are non Christians.  They are not believers.

Initially they were invited but now the measure master is taking, is go and BRING the poor and the maimed (injured) and the lame and the blind.  

If we are not available for the work of God, if we can say many excuses in the presence of the God, God is going to bring some people who are living in the street, the poor, maimed and the lame and the blind. 

  • God is not really pleased in our appearance – God is looking for commitment, people who are committed for the cause.
  • God is not really pleased in knowing who we are – God is looking for your availability.  God can use anybody.  God is not pleased in our spiritual level,  but God is pleased when we say, Lord, I am available for you.

Measure 2:

Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 

First one was INVITED, second one BRING, they were brought and third one COMPEL them or force them.  The master was made aware that, there are more rooms in the supper hall and master told the servant, ‘Go and compel everybody to get into so that house is filled’.

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.   

We are living in a time where we are compelled to give priority to God.  Why do we say that?  You need to do this, God has called to do this, you are supposed to be available because it is forced.  At times I am forcing you to do certain things because I am forced to do certain things.  God has not given us that as an option in our hands, we are forced to do the work of God.

I was in need of help of a commentary there, often I use to refer  Matthew Henry’s Commentary. 

The violence denotes a strength, and vigor, and earnestness of desire and endeavor, in those who followed John’s ministry, else they would not have come so far to attend upon it.  It shows us also, what fervency and zeal are required of all those who design to make heaven of their religion.  Note, They who would enter into the kingdom of heaven must strive to enter; that kingdom suffers a holy violence; self must be denied, the bent and bias, the frame and temper, of the mind must be altered; there are hard sufferings to be undergone, a force to be put upon the corrupt nature; we must run, and wrestle, and fight, and be in an agony, and all little enough to win such a prize, and to get over such opposition from without and from within.  The violent take it by force.  They who will have an interest in the great salvation are carried out towards it with a strong desire, will have it upon any terms, and not think them hard, nor quit their hold without a blessing.  They who will make their calling and election sure must give diligence.  The kingdom of heaven was never intended to indulge the ease of triflers (who take things easy), but to be the rest of them that labor.  It is a blessed sight; Oh that we could see a greater number, not with an angry contention thrusting others out of the kingdom of heaven, but with a holy contention thrusting themselves into the kingdom of heaven.

What it means is God is looking for such people, who don’t take things easy, who takes matter of kingdom of God seriously.  Who will not try to push people away from kingdom of God but instead they will try to push people into the kingdom of God.

Master wanted his house to be filled.  God is not happy when we have empty chairs here.  As I used to say, church is not for believers, if you think church is for believers, you are wrong.  Church is for unbelievers,  those who are lost in the world.  Jesus came to this world to save which was lost in the world.  Jesus did not come for those who are healthy, those who are healthy don’t need a physician, Jesus came for those who are unhealthy.  If we don’t have a non believer in our worship service, I believe the time that we are here is a waste, when we have such empty chairs God is not happy about it.  We cannot please God by our dancing and worshiping, we need unbelievers to be here because only they need cross.  Today if we die, we may go to heaven but what about those who are living in the streets.  God wants his house to be filled.  God is not looking at our outward appearance, spiritual levels but God is looking at those who are available.  Even if they are not available, we can go out and bring them into the presence of the God, if we can force somebody, open the door and push people inside, that’s what is expectation of the master.  God is looking for those who are:

  • Socially neglected
  • Whom we consider so low, if we look at somebody with all tattoos and earring hanging in their ears, we think  that they are designed, determined, destined for hell but that’s not true.  We look at outward appearance, the soul inside of him is so precious, we cannot neglect.  There are people in the world around us today, God wants us to bring them into the presence of God because God wants his house to be filled.

Matthew 20:16  Jesus said,So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen”.

Do not neglect anybody.  Churches are talking about separation, it is true that you need to be separated form the sinful world but Jesus never ever asked us to stop loving somebody.  Jesus was considered as friend of sinners, he was sitting was Pharisees, he was sitting with the woman who was a prostitute.  People who were keep on saying excuses, they were losing their opportunity.  God is going to replace them.  This is a message to you,  stop saying excuses when work of kingdom is about to begin.  I can hear your excuses but God is not going accept your excuses.  Nothing can stop us, always the kingdom work takes the priority.  You are called believers because you belong to the kingdom and your king takes the priority, nothing else.

The Result of telling excuse:

Verse 24  For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper”.

How painful it was, I thought who were invited they were church members, congregation of the church but they all said excuses, now the master says; none of them is going to enter into my supper.  That means even after getting saved, even after coming to church regularly, even after worshiping God, we can go to hell: 

  • If our priorities don’t becomes the priority the kingdom.  God wants to set our priorities right.  It’s not important how many hours we pray, prayer is important, living holy life is important, meditating the Word of God is important but what is the priority of God in your life.  You need to understand the priority of God in your life, the reason why God chose you, called you from that surroundings. Your family is still not living in a Christian way, biblical way, but God pulled you out of that situation.  There is a reason for that.  If life priorities become more important than God’s work, we need to question our destiny.  People those who were invited they had different priority, they could not consider the kingdom priority higher than their own priority.  Today, all of us have priorities in our lives but Bible say when there is kingdom urgency, God wants us to keep our priorities aside.  God wants us to take the priority of kingdom of God.
  • If we continue to say excuses in the God’s matters, verse 24 may come upon our lives.
  • If we refuse and reject invitations God is sending to us, to work in God’s kingdom, Verse 24 may come upon our lives.
  • If we continue to fail to be diligent to make our call and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).  Once in a while you turn back and see the reason, why God called you?  We often forget but God wants you to think about the reason why God chose you?  If we fail there, Luke chapter 14 verse 24 may come upon our lives.

Not only God can find somebody else to do the job but there is a punishment.  If we don’t set our priorities right , there is punishment, that punishment is eternal.  I believe God wants to set our priorities right so that our destiny is determined by what we do.

Who touched Me?

Series: Who touched Me?| Title: General |  Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, December 3, 2017

We are reading from

Mark 5:25-34   25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” 31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Here we read one of the many miracles that took place in the life of Jesus, where we see a woman with the issue of blood, came behind and touched the garment of Lord God and got healed instantly.  Jesus turned to the multitude and asked, “Who touched me”?  This morning I would like to title my sermon as: “Who touched me”?

We see many kinds of people following Lord Jesus in that particular situation.  We see the disciples following Lord Jesus, great multitude following Lord Jesus.  Who were all there in the multitude?   There were many sick people, just ordinary people like you and me, Pharisees, tax collectors, teachers of the law, women.  This morning I want to talk about the kind of people, that were following Jesus Christ.

First group of people – Religious people

  • People who strictly follow the law.  When Jesus arrived, it was old testament period still people were living in, those who did not realize that Jesus is Messiah.  He’s going to divide the history into two.  They never realized that the new testament period, the dispensation of grace is about to begin.  They had no clue about it.  They were still thinking that, they were living in the old testament period, so they were still following the law very strictly.
  • People who judge others, they follow the Jesus very closely, wherever Jesus went, they were found there, just to judge Jesus and people who followed Lord God.
  • Group of people who think heaven belongs to them.
  • Some of those people were spiritually very prideful.  Even they considered somebody else inferior than themselves.  They considered themselves as better than someone else spiritually.
  • There were people, they said I know everything, who is this Jesus, what is he preaching or talking about, I know the old testament law, I know the traditions.
  • People who were saying, they are children of Abraham.   Who is this Jesus?  Son of Joseph and Mary.
  • Bible says these people were prideful, they were full of jealousy, they had wrath within them, they did not have any fruit in their lives, they had love for money.
  • In fact, Jesus calls such people as hypocrites, they were following Jesus.  Jesus also turned to some people and told them you are white washed tombs, brood of vipers, stiff-necked people – they were religious people.  Even today in this world, we come across such religious people in Christianity.  They hold on to the religion, they are willing to give their life for the sake of religion.  Jesus Christ did not come to this world to establish a religion.
  • Paul says people who are having a form of godliness but denying its power.  We come across such people every where today.  They appear to be godly but they deny the power of resurrection.

Second group of people – Needy people

  • People like you and me.  These people followed Lord God because of their need, because they saw miracles following Lord Jesus.  Where ever Jesus went, they were following because they were really fascinated by seeing the miracles that Jesus performed.
  • They are like disciples kind of people.  When Jesus turned and asked, “who touched me?”  Disciple did not have any understanding about what Jesus is asking.  Disciples were saying, Lord people are just falling on you, why do you ask, who touched?
  • These are the people, who follow Jesus because they are born in the Christian family.  They don’t know, why they follow God but they follow Jesus and say they we are Christians.
  • These people follow Jesus for material blessings.  There are many people who are found in the presence of God, when we are not having job, when we are not having children but when we are blessed with such blessings, do we follow God?   If we follow God just only for material blessings, we are more pitiable than those all who do not follow God.

Third group of people – Socially neglected

People who consider themselves so low, they are outcasts, not accepted by the society.  Some examples are

  • Tax collector- who could not come in the presence of God and was standing far away and saying Lord, I am a sinful man.
  • Jesus was sitting at the side of the well, Samaritan women came to Jesus, untouchable, she can’t even speak to a Jew – socially neglected.  They are people today following Lord Jesus, they are not recognized by the Christian community or churches.
  • The lepers, who used to sit outside the city gate and cry out saying ‘Unclean! Unclean!  So that no body will go to that side.  They were following Jesus.
  • A women with the issue of blood- a social outcast, following our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who this woman was?

(Verse 25 & 26) Bible says that she was a woman with a issue of blood.

  • Twelve long years she was suffering with a issue of blood.  That was a terrible condition for any woman to go through.  Today medically known as hemorrhage or menorrhagia, they go through such as medical condition.
  • Bible says, she met many doctors, but could not be cured from that sickness.
  • Bile says, she spent all that she had in her life to gain healing but there was no healing.
  • Her health was becoming worse than getting better.
  • She became so weak and fragile and she could not do anything by herself.
  • There were disappointments, frustrations building up in her life.
  • Eventually, she had to shut herself in the house because she was socially untouchable according to the law.

She was socially outcast according to the social standards that are defined in the book of law Leviticus  chapter 15

  • Under the Mosaic law a woman with an issue of blood  was considered unclean and was “put apart” for seven days. During those seven days, what ever she touches is considered unclean.
  • Leviticus 14 says, if that condition stays more than seven days, all the days of her life, she will be considered unclean and untouchable.

We are talking about a woman, who was going through such condition for 12 long years.  I believe, she was totally cut off from the society.

What she did ?

Verse 27 – She heard about Jesus.

  • She did not want to make a public appearance.  Going and standing in front of Jesus because she is not supposed to go and touch anybody.
  • She wanted to come behind Jesus.  She found out her way to reach Jesus.  From her house, we don’t know, how far Jesus was walking.  Jesus was passing that village, I have no idea, how this women can come to Jesus.  Such women cannot walk straight, they need to crawl.  She was crawling and somehow reached to Jesus and crowd was huge.  Crowd was not allowing to go and touch Jesus but somehow she found her way to come behind Jesus.
  • She did not even want to touch Jesus.
  • She wanted to touch just hem of His garment so that Jesus will not know otherwise she will be caught by everybody and she will be put into death.  So she wanted to avoid that.
  • It was an unusual touch.
  • It was a touch of faith, because bible says power went out of Jesus.

Bible also says, moment she touched garment of Lord Jesus, she got instantly healed.  She was so afraid because she wanted to do this in secret.  Jesus turned back, she never expected that.  She just expected the healing.  When Jesus turned back, she was so afraid and trembling because what she did, was not acceptable to the society.  Verse 33 says, when Jesus found her in crowd, she was in fear and trembling.

Faith of this woman:

A woman who was having the issue of blood, woman who met many doctors and every appointment was a failure and disappointment in her life, she spent all that she had, given to the doctors and she became so weak and fragile, not accepted by society and could not even come out of the house to be with the society.

She did not miss that moment in her life.  She heard that Jesus is passing by.  If she would have missed that moment in her life, she would never have gotten that opportunity again in her life.  She decided to make an attempt for the healing.

Do you remember about blind Bartimaeus sitting at the side of the road, moment he heard that Jesus is passing by, he was not keeping quiet, he was crying with the loud voice saying, “Lord Jesus have mercy upon me”.

I am talking about something which is important for your life this morning, something that will keep you healthy, that is precious, you cannot take it light.

She knew her moment has come for healing and she did not want to miss that opportunity.

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

This woman realized, my Lord God is near to me.  This is the right time for me to tap into the power of God. She decided to go for it.

  • She had a tough and rough life unlike what we have today. Her life was miserable.
  • She was living in hopelessness.
  • She was all alone because husband abandoned her, children forgot about her and she ended up living in house all alone for the entire life.  Totally neglected and considered as an outcast.
  • But she could push through the crowd to receive the healing from Lord God because of her faith.

Faith:

  • Bible says, her faith came alive when she heard about Jesus, until that point of time she was thinking about end of her life, about not getting cured at all but when she heard about Jesus, her faith came alive.
  • Her faith could not be put down by people.  How much struggle she would have got to push through the crowd to reach Lord God.  She never thought about what people will think about her. Sometimes in our lives, when we want to access the faith that God has given to us, we worry about, what someone else will think.  This is awful.  We need a healing touch from God, we want to be blessed in our life, why do we worry about what others are going to think about us?  This poor woman never bothered about what people will think about, all that she was in need of Jesus- a touch from His garment.
  • That faith did not allow her to keep quiet.  James says, “Faith without action is dead”.  She got that faith.
  • She wanted to find a solution for her problem.  God want us to find a solution for our problem, God doesn’t want us to live with that problem.  Some of us are so accustomed that if we don’t have a problem, we feel odd.
  • Her faith is a simple faith not something great.  What was the faith- only if I can touch the hem of His garment.  What brings healing today- just a simple faith, childish faith.  Example was given as mustard seed of faith to move the mountains.
  • This faith was not making her to wait for Jesus to touch her.  She did not wait for a moment so that Jesus will come and touch her.  She decided to go ahead and touch Jesus.
  • Her faith was so great, her faith could draw power out of Jesus.

What is our faith today?

God wants us to reach out to touch Him.  Not to wait for him to come and touch us.  God wants us to go ahead and touch him.

Build up your Resiliency

Series: General | Title: Build up your Resiliency |  Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, October 29, 2017

Matthew 7:24-27 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken (compare/associate) him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Who is a wise man here?  Who ever hears the Word and does them. Who is foolish man, who hears the Word and doesn’t do.  When we hear the Word of God, we become wise when we put the Word of God into practice.  When we hear the Word of God and we do not practice those scriptures, we become foolish.  That’s what scripture says.  God says, we need to be found wise, that’s the reason this parable is given.  Jesus here is saying that somebody built a house on the rock.  Who is that man, who hears the Word of God and who practices that scripture.  Somebody did not practice that scripture, he just hear the Word.  We hear many sermons but at the end of it, we don’t really practice anything, we don’t apply anything in our lives.  Then scripture says we are foolish.  We are equivalent to build a house on sand.  When wind blows, when flood rises, the house collapses.  God says you are foolish.  Because you keep hearing but you are not doing anything according to the Lord.

Today I would like to title my sermon as “Build up your resiliency”

  • Resilience describes the ability to spring back after being bent or stretched out of shape.
  • Resiliency is the status where someone is stretched beyond a limit and when everything is over, he is able to come back or spring back to its original position.  The ability to recover from the storms of life, that is what resiliency is.
  • Resilient people adapt to adversities.  We all go through some kind of adversity.  Things are not working the way we want.  If everything is working the way I want, I will be the king of this world.  But things are not working in the way I want.  Things are working in the way God wants probably in my life.  So resilient people adapt any adversity.
  • They weather or survive life’s storms.
  • Most of the time they may get hit by many situations but they raise up again – they are going to be stronger.  You look at the trees, they suffer through the wind, storm and the hurricane.  I believe somehow they recovered and those bent trees, could be straight little later when the hurricane is over.  That is what is resiliency.  God expects that character in our lives.  God wants to develop that resilience in us so that we will be able to handle any adverse situation in our lives.

Jesus spoke about the house that was rained over, hit by floods and beaten by heavy winds and storms.   Still that house was found erect.  The house was resilient enough to withstand all the storms that it could face in its life.  God is asking you, are you able to withstand the life’s storms that are blowing in your life, that are taking you to time of confusion and you feel like withdrawing from everything that you are been doing for God.  You just want to get into a silent mode.  Probably you will think, it is the time when I just want to be on myself.  God is telling you, you need to be resilient.

Ken Cooper is a kind of guy, I don’t want to have him as my neighbor, I don’t think you want to have him as your neighbor.  But he is a loving father and a loving husband, a role model for underprivileged children.  But he had a dark side – he was also one of Florida’s most wanted criminals.  He began shoplifting when he was a child, he started stealing cars and later on he went on robbing banks.  In the middle of all this his wife died with cancer in the very early stage.  Many robberies happened in his life after that.  When someone asked,”why you do all these things?”  He said,”I am not robbing for money.  I don’t want money.  The purpose was to handle the deep depression that I had after loosing my wife.  I wanted to show my anger on something.  That’s the reason I do all these things.”

Ken’s double life ended  very soon, as he was shot when he was robbing a bank and  he was sentenced for 99 years in The Rock, Florida’s most infamous prison.  He was there with inmate prisoners.  They were murders, rape criminals and everybody was there along with him in the prison.  But while Ken Cooper was in prison, he heard about the love of the Jesus, the prison chaplain preached him about Lord Jesus and Ken Cooper became a Christian.  He accepted Jesus Christ.  Along with Ken, there were many cellmates, they also accepted Jesus Christ.  They started preaching about Jesus to all their prison cellmates.

One day Ken and his friends adopted a kitten, its backbone was broken, his eyes were blinded and they named the kitten as Mr. Magoo.  Ken Cooper was taking care of the kitten.  Ken Cooper was laying his hands on the kitten’s head and praying for God to open his eyes and his eyes opened.  Kitten started seeing.  All the inmates were taking care of the kitten very well and the prison started changing.  There is no more rapist, there is no more thieves in the prison.  Everybody started coming into the love of Jesus Christ because of the ministry of the  Ken Cooper and his cellmates.  Ken Cooper was released very soon.  He dedicated his entire life to serve among the prisoners those who are getting out of the prison after imprisonment, that is resilience.  God is talking about someone who has gone very far and at the right time he is able to bend back to his original position in Christ.

When Jesus spoke about this, in Matthew 7:24-27 (again).  The questions that we need to ask:

  • What makes us strong, what makes us resilient, what makes us enduring? It’s not just hearing the Word of God but it is doing the Word of God.  We want to put this Word of God in practice.  Otherwise Christianity doesn’t mean anything.
  • Whose life is founded on the Rock?  – The one who listens and does.
  • Who can withstand the storms of life?  – The one who listens the Word of God and put them into practice.  There is great deal of pressure in the Word of God, there is great deal of attention in the Word of God to put into practice what we learn.
  • To whom the more is given, much is required.  We all are given sermons week after week and we hear sermon online.  Much is given, much is required too.

What did they hear? Jesus is almost ending the sermon on the mount.  Mathew chapter 5, 6, 7, all talks about the sermon on the mount.  Jesus preached a long sermon, at the end of sermon Jesus is saying, you heard me until now, now you go and put everything into practice.  What did they hear in the sermon on the mount.  Jesus talked about:

“The Be attitudes, Salt and Light,  Fulfilling the Law, Anger and Murder, Lust and Adultery, Divorce and Remarriage, Oaths, Eye for an Eye, Love your enemies, Give to the Needy people, How to Pray, How to Fast, False Teacher and False Prophets, The Wise Builder and the Foolish builder”.

They heard so much from Lord Jesus and now Jesus wanted them to go and put them into practice.

  • Resilience is the ability of an object to spring back its original shape.
  • It is the ability to withstand  all the difficult situations of the life.
  • Resiliency is achieved by putting into practice the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Life is going to throw a lot of challenges on us.  Storm is going to come on our way, we can never stop.  If  our house is built on sand, it is going to collapse.  We can not expect that to come up again.  But a house that is built on the rock, when the storm blows, it is going to stand.  It may be push little bit here but it is going to come back.  That’s what is resiliency.

How do we build up resilience?

  1. Be aware of your situation
  2. Be aware of your enemies
  3. Be built on God
  4. Be ready for another season
  1. Be aware of your situation

In order to build resiliency in our lives, in order to build that ability to quickly gain back or original position, first thing we need to do is to be aware of our situation.  This is Step 1.

Imagine a soldier, who is in the battle front.  He may be facing so many unexpected situations in the area of his operation.  Sudden threats of the enemy, unforeseen dangers coming on his way, loss of lives in front of him, enemy’s strategy  gets changed at times, mistrust and misbehavior of the fellow soldiers,  sometimes he lose the commander’s favor etc.  The soldier who is at war front is vulnerable to all these attacks everyday.

Where are you today?  We are living in a strange world, strange nation, for most of us not the native country, we don’t having any of your family members nearby, at times we wonder what am I doing under the heaven, sitting here in this nation.  The soldier on the forefront of the battlefield feels the same thing at times.  At times we feel, we are just left all alone in our lives.

What are the threats around us?  Health is at risk at times, our future is not guaranteed.  What about our study, our work situation, our children,  our job, financial situation.  We are not stable yet even at the age of  30, 40, 45 .  What is  going on in our life.  By the time we try to settle down, relationships strains. What else?  Life is throwing all that it can, on our lives.   We are like a soldier, standing and facing the adverse situations in the forefront.

Think of a tree trying to stand in the middle of a storm.  During the storm certainly it is going to lose some of its leaves, some of the branches are already broken, tree is still struggling to stand straight in its life.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4,  We are hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down.

Is that you today?

  1. Be aware of your enemies

We are living in a world, things are not happening in the favor of us, because we have an enemy.  We cannot neglect him.

A young naval captain was commanding his battleship for the first time in his career.  The battleship was piercing through the ocean on a particular night, he could spot in the dark pitch night,  a spot of  light coming towards the ship.

The young commander radioed to the other ship, “Alter your course ten degrees.”
The reply came very shortly, “No, you alter your course ten degrees.”
Captain became very aggressive.  He is a fearless captain.  He angrily sent a message, “Alter your course, I am a destroyer.”
The reply came quickly, “Alter your course, I am a lighthouse.”

Sometime in the course of our life, we need to alter our ways in order to survive in this world.  We came with a plan to this nation, what happened to that plan?  We came with the idea of settling down quickly within six months that was promised, three years now passed by, what happened to that?

Sometimes we are called to quickly adjust  to our situation to find survival on this earth.  That’s the reason  Solomon said in:

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man (sensible) foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple (inexperienced) pass on (keep going ) and are punished.

God is calling you, to know the enemy so that you know to become resilient, when the enemy passes over you.  We need to know our enemies.

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Our fight is not with flesh and blood, there is a power behind.  To become resilient God wants us to know our enemy.  He is trying to do all this, to put us down.  There are prophesies spoken in our life but today those prophecies have not come true, the reason is not that God lied, but there is enemy working behind to make sure to nullify, all that  God has promised in your life.  Once God’s blessing are cancelled in your life, you are brought to the ground.  That’s what enemy is trying.

  1. Be built on God

The reason the wise man put his foundation on the Rock, because he knew his enemy.  Even before the house was built, he knew very well, he cannot built his house on the sand.  He need to built his house on the rock.  He decided to build his house on the rock.  Be built on God.

Your christian life, the life that we tried to built in Christ, has to be built by us, that cannot be borrowed.  Today we try to borrow our  Christian life from others.  We look at the videos, the way people preach, the way people do things, we get fascinated by those things and we try to borrow their life.  It’s not going to work.  This is the life, that has to be built by us.  This morning God wants to tell us, we need to built our life in Christ.

You know what deeper foundation means?

Deeper foundation means:

  • Having a deeper relationship with God.  We don’t see that outside.  Saying hundred times praise the Lord doesn’t guarantee that.  Having a deeper foundation in Christ, will help us to become resilient.
  • Having mounted pillars of strong Biblical principles in our lives – fleeing away from sinful things, meditating on God’s Word, systematic giving, sharing the good news.  These are kind of pillars that we can build in our lives.  Build those pillars and work around those pillars.
  • Having built on strong commitments.  These commitments are important.  Commitment between you and God.  The sacrificial commitment that you have with your God.  The decisions that you have taken that no one else knows.  But that’s how you move.  Those are the commitments between you and your God.
  • Having a strong dependency on God.

There may be many more.  These are couple of things that we can do to built that strong foundation.

 Psalm 31:24 (NLT) So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!
1 Corinthians 15:58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.

Those who lay their foundation properly in Christ Jesus, are built with greater resiliency.  When wind blow on their lives, they bent, we all bend.  Because we all human, nobody can stand.  We think, we may fall.  We are just at the edge of the situation in our life.  But if our foundation is proper in Christ, we are resilient.  We bent back and come to our original position.

  1. Be ready for another season

Building up our resiliency means, being ready for another season.

  • Trees that are hit by storms, look for a new season of growth.  They don’t expect to be in that stormy situation every time.  They expect for new growth.  Slowly little later, if you go and see in the spring, all the leaves they lost,  are going to come back.  All the branches that they lost, are going to grow.  Trees is going to come back to its original position.
  • Be ready for another season.  That is the expectation of child of God.  It’s not that we have gone away from God,  it’s not we are falling part, it’s not that we are disintegrated.  God will bring us back.  Be ready for that.

God is preparing you for another season – the storm that God has allowed in our lives, is not to break us, but instead to build us, to bring a new season to our lives.

  • Trees lose leaves during the winter season.  Specially in the month of January and February, if we see trees, we will see only branches.  Trees loose their leaves during the fall.  They just get ready for winter.
  • As the winter approaches, for most of the birds in North America, there is scarcity of resources  here, the insects they eat, are not available during winter.  So most of the birds, those can fly longer, they migrate to South America and they are going to come back. They just get ready for another season.
  • Jonah was in the belly of the fish and he was praying to God.  God was about to bring him out and use him in another season.  When Jonah came out of the belly of fish, this is what he said:

Jonah 3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

Second time Jonah was prepared for the season.  Building resiliency is also being ready for another season.  God wants us to be ready for another season in our lives.

Children of Israel were fed in the wilderness by Manna, Gilgal is a place where the manna ceased and the children of Israel had to learn to live by faith and not by sight (Joshua 5:10-12).

They were just wondering, Lord what happened?  We thought you are giving us food everyday but suddenly manna stopped.  Lord, I thought I have a job, but this morning, when I go to work, I saw a letter, you’re suspended from your duties.  Today is the last day, make every settlement.  Lord, I thought it is all done and you’re taking care of me but Lord why this?  We think everything is going in our health well but suddenly something arise there.  Lord why?

This morning God wants you to know that he is building resiliency within you.  This is not the end of the life.  The financial constraint is not the end, the limitations that you deal with today that’s not the end of  life.  God is preparing us for another season.

God wants you to get ready,

  • A season of refining/ purification
  • A season of abundance
  • A season of new beginnings
  • A season of new challenges

No matter how much we are stretched, God is equipping us to the position where we can keep going.

Elijah was crying out to God for his life, Lord take my life away, it’s all done, it’s worth that I’m not living in this world.  God said, no, I am making you more resilient.  You brought fire from heaven, that’s not all about your walk with Christ.  You prayed for somebody for healing and today you go through that same sickness, that’s not end of it.  God said, I’m equipping you for another season.  I am building resilience within you so that you will be able to withstand.

Rain is going to come down, flood is going to raise in the life, and the wind is going to blow and beat on the house; But we are not going to collapse, we are going to stand firm in the Lord.  The reason is, we developed that resilience within us and we can overcome because we know our enemy.  Our God is such a gentle God, he says,

A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Matthew 12:20

Today you feel so weak and so low.  When you look at the situations there is no hope.  When you turn every side, you’ll see things are not working in favor of you.  Enemy is trying to throw so many things in your way but God is telling you, I’m making you stronger, more resilient, I’m giving you more stamina and courage so that you will be able to handle the situation by the strength I give you.