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A Fully-Funded Adventure
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God's stands behind each new Christian with heaven's bank account of grace, wealth and mercy. Nothing that comes our way overwhelms God's ability to provide for our needs.

I. Introduction
  A. Humor: A vet hears a woman in the parking lot with a disobedient dog. The barking, biting, canine cacophony are audible from two blocks away. The red-faced woman drags her mangy mutt into the office with a helpless look. There on the counter she sees a DVD: Train Your Dog to Obey. Without asking any questions, she blurts out: “Quick! I’ll take it! How much?” “Nineteen-ninety-five.” She pulls out a check, fills it in, hands it over, and takes the DVD. Then she asks: “So how does this work? Do I just have the dog watch this clear through or what?”
II. Tools for "Followership"
  A. Jesus approached twelve men, one at a time, sometimes two at a time
    1. Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matt. 4:29
      a. This is a risky proposition
      b. These men had livelihoods; they were fishermen and tax collectors
      c. They had families to support
    2. When Jesus says, “Leave all that; follow Me; change your life’s focus entirely; abandon your safety net” . . . it’s worth looking at some questions:
      a. Based on what should they follow Him?
      b. Is it safe to embrace followership when a real, tangible cost is attached?
      c. Some of us can give monetary gifts without pain, but a gift of time can hurt!
      d. A gift of service can invade our lifestyle
      e. You may love working for the church, but do you enjoy sweating for it in the summer months?
III. Roommate Story
  A. A pastor was counseling two young would-be newlyweds just out of their teens.
    1. The awkward news leaked out: they were cohabitating and had been for a while
      a. There but for the grace of God go some of us . . .
    2. This was a pastoral dilemma: what do you say? What do you ask them to do?
      a. The wedding is in two months; they’re living together NOW
  B. The couple was already feeling emotional and moral turmoil about it
    1. The Holy Spirit was nudging them on the matter
  C. Two things were hard. Jesus says, “Follow Me,” but sometimes the request is a hard one in all its details.
    1. The couple had already progressed to a certain level of intimacy
      a. It is hard to backtrack to safe, spiritual ground with a wedding still nine weeks away
    2. They were struggling college kids; they had no other housing options
      a. They had an apartment in a college town; they couldn’t afford double rent even for two months
  D. The pastor was sympathetic; he had sons and nieces and nephews on those red-blooded years; he knew how hard this can be
    1. He wanted to encourage them
    2. He also wanted to hold fast to what the Bible teaches
    3. Pastors sometimes have to say to people: “Guess what? I didn’t write the Bible! I didn’t create this heavenly blueprint for godly living. I’m telling you about it, but I’m not the author of the Ten Commandments.”
      a. “I love people, but please don’t blame me for things that it says in the Bible.”
  E. The pastor knew that to counsel with integrity, he had to urge them to fix the problem – whatever the cost
    1. He said: “Look. Do you want to follow Jesus all the way? He says, ‘Come, follow Me.’ Do you want your pending marriage to reflect the full blessings that come from making that your commitment?”
  F. This is a daily reality for all of us!
    1. “Come. Follow Me.” This is Jesus’ invitation for us right now.
      a. But it means in every area of our lives: living in obedience
      b. The sharp edges of conflict, drifting out of Jesus’ will, is a fact of life which invades my home and your home.
      c. I’m not preaching “at” you here; this is my daily journey too
  G. The pastor said to these kids: “Just think about it. Full surrender; full followership.”
    1. Pastor Dwight Nelson of Andrews University has the expression: “Radical Discipleship.” Full following.
    2. The pastor said to the couple: “Are you up for it? Even if it’s hard; even if it’s inconvenient; even if it’s expensive. Whatever it costs, this is what I believe Jesus Christ is inviting you to do.”
      a. He left them to reflect and wrestle.  Ouch.
  H. The young man was really convicted by the challenge
    1. Part of it was just plain hard, but the nobleness of it, the radical courage it would take was attractive in an Everest way
    2. It would be an awesome thing to enter marriage with two months under your belt of really daring to be obedient
      a. That would be a great foundation for the next fifty golden years
    3. He was drawn to this kind of edgy obedience
    4. BUT: he didn’t see how God could solve both problems
      a. The abstinence: maybe. That was maybe doable.
      b. But where was he going to live?
      c. He didn’t want to sleep in the back seat of his car for two months.
  I. He decided to take a leap of faith
    1. He had no money, no Plan B, no human back-up solutions
    2. He went to the landlady who managed the apartment complex: “I’m moving out.”
      a. She knew the two kids, knew of their marriage plans: “What are you up to?”
    3. He gave a stumbling, not-too-graphic answer: “I’m getting baptized as a Christian along with getting married; I just can’t live with my girlfriend before the wedding day.”
    4. A strange look crossed her face. “All this business of following Jesus means that much to you?”
      a. “Yeah. I’m going to try.” He got up to leave.
      b. “Where are you going to stay? Where are you going to lay your head down tonight?”
      c. “I don’t know.”
  J. She looked at him like he was an alien from a parallel universe with all different values
    1. She reached into a drawer and took out an extra key
      a. “Look. Apartment 8D on the end is vacant; it’s been empty for a couple weeks. It’s the slow time; just take it until the wedding day.”
    2. This kid couldn’t take in what had just happened: PROBLEM SOLVED!
      a. He wanted to obey Jesus and now he could.
      b. Jesus had said to him, “Follow Me,” and had tangibly reached down and said, “You trust Me enough to follow Me, and I’ll fund your adventure. I’ll write the check. I’ll make good on whatever you need.”
    3. There was even furniture in the apartment; he got the use of that as well
    4. The next time the kids met with the pastor, they were walking on air
      a. It was exciting to be obedient
      b. The way God had come through for them even made the two months of holding hands on the couch and taking cold showers worth while!
      c. Knowing God was on their side helped them be strong
      d. What a great wedding day it was, realizing that God had empowered them to truly be all-the-way followers
IV. Bible Stories Where God Provides the Means
  A. There are many stories where people take a chance on obeying God and He provides the means to do it right
    1. Abraham had to pack up his belongings (Hebrews 11) and move to a place he didn’t know
    2 Later God ordered him up Mount Moriah to sacrifice his only child
      a. How does the story end? God provides the lamb for the offering.
    3. There are military stories where a few hundred people, trusting in God, are able to conquer tens of thousands
    4. Joseph trusted God enough to obey in hard circumstances
      a. Heaven responded by making him prime minister of Egypt
    5. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were obedient
      a. God rescued them from the flames
    6. God protected Daniel from the lions
    7. God got Peter out of prison
    8 Jesus gave the disciples healing power and miracle strength
V. The Rich Young Ruler
  A. One story goes the other way!
    1. It’s a story that evokes sympathy from us; it takes commitment to a level no one in this church has ever faced
    2. Jesus has never asked one of us to follow in this way
  B. Matt. 19: A man asks Jesus, “What do I have to do to enter eternal life?”
    1. Jesus replies: “Be a good boy; keep all the commandments. If you’re  really, really good, you can maybe get into heaven.”
    2. Those instructions might make us nervous about our own salvation assurance!
      a. NIV text notes: “The requirement to ‘obey the commandments’ is not to establish one’s merit before God but is to be an expression of true faith. The Bible always teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace received through faith.”
      b. Ephesians 2:8, 9 nails that down beyond all questions
    3. Jesus is really saying: “Have a faith relationship deep enough that you’ll demonstrate it by radical obedience.”
    4. This young man has lived a superficially obedient life, obeyed all the rules on a surface level
      a. Replies: “Jesus, I already am a good boy. I’ve gone to Sabbath School and kept the commandments all my life. Last quarter at church I knew all thirteen memory verses and we bring vegetarian dishes (no cheese or dairy products in them) to potluck every week of the year.”
    5. Jesus tells him there’s one more thing:
      a. Sell all he’s got. Everything. Put it all up on E-Bay. Liquidate everything he’s got and give the money to the Salvation Army.”
      b. “Then come and follow Me.”
      c. Of course, he’ll have no choice but to follow, because his bed and Mercedes will both be gone.
    6. Why did Jesus give this man such a hard hill to climb?
      a. None of us are asked to do this; probably none of us would
      b. Why did Jesus ask this young man to liquidate his entire empire?
    7. We can sympathize with the reality that the young man couldn’t do it
      a. The Bible says that Jesus loved him
      b. The Bible says that the kid went away sad
    8. In the faith equation which Jesus could see with His divine, penetrating gaze, He knew this young man could only trust in God if the other stuff was gone
      a. Some millionaires can have their stuff and still put their faith in Calvary
      b. This young man could not do that
    9. For all of us, if we have to get poor in order to lean on Jesus, if we have to lose a right eye or an arm in order to have a spirit of dependence, we need to be willing to do that.
  C. BUT: the 66 books of the Bible tell us that if we will be willing to have a spirit of followership, Jesus will come back and make it an abundant experience
    1. You will never end up poorer – in the things that really matter – if you are a disciple.
      a. Jesus WILL provide
      b. The rich young ruler would have ended up a richer young ruler in all the eternal ways that really count
VI. The Fisherman's Promise
  A. Our key text is Matthew 4:19
  B. Jesus comes to Peter and Andrew; they’re the first two people He approaches
    1. He doesn’t have twelve followers yet; He has zero
      a. He also has empty pockets: no shekels, no VISA gold card
      b. He says, “Come, follow Me.”
  C. This is a missionary mandate and promise and guarantee rolled into one
    1. Jesus says: “I’ll make this happen for you.”
      a. I will make you into a fisher of men
      b. I will upgrade you from trout and perch to Tess and Paula
      c. I will make you into something new
      d. I will make you into a sexually pure person
      e. I’ll provide you with that second apartment
      f. I’ll make sure you receive the necessities of life
    2. But right now, today, come, follow Me
VII. Dead Man Walking
  A. Death row drama written by Sister Helen Prejean is inspiring
    1. A Catholic nun was called by Jesus to have a ministry in prison
      a. Served hardened criminals about to go to the gas chamber
      b. Also ministered to victims’ families, counseling, helping them recover spiritually from their incredible anger, uncontrollably blind rage and desire for revenge.
    2. A young girl was abducted, repeatedly raped, tortured, hacked to death
    3. The family had to wait for days until a tragic phone call from the police
    4. A favorite uncle, a dentist, had to go to the precinct and identify the remains by dental charts
      a. He had to reach into a bag of lime, look at the severed jawline and confirm that it was his niece
    5. Before that, he had always been against the death penalty. Now, standing there with his heart ripped into pieces, his hand covered in that lime powder, standing there in a bleak coroner’s office, “Boy, suddenly he was for it.”
    6. Prejean had to sit in a circle of grieving moms who had all lost kids to violent crime
      a. How could they possibly forgive the perpetrators?
      b. How could they follow Jesus in forgiving seventy times seven?
      c. These tough, female disciples came up with a line: God makes a way out of no way.
    7. If Jesus says, “Follow Me; turn the other cheek; forgive like I forgive,” He will make a way for it to happen.
      a. He’ll carve out a path for you in the jungle of emotional impossibilities
  B. Another Prejean story had a good Catholic man waiting for the police to find his daughter’s remains
    1. Imagine days going by, fearing the worst
    2. Finally they found a mutilated, nude corpse in the woods
    3. He had to ride out in a police cruiser, knowing the worst day of his life was just ahead
    4. He walked up to the body, tears streaming down his cheeks
      a. Confirmed: yes, that was his little girl
      b. That was the child he had given baths to and driven to soccer practice
      c. That was the girl he would never see graduate; in fact, her senior-year robe was hanging in the closet at home – now it would never be used
      d. There would never be a wedding dress, never be grandkids
      e. But yes, that was his little girl
    5. This Christian man, from instinct, fell to his knees and began to pray the Lord’s Prayer
    6. Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses . . .
    7. There was this awful, wrenching, horrible moment. Forgive us our trespasses as we . . . WHAT?
      a. As we forgive those who hurt us
      b. As we forgive the murderers and rapists who snuff out the very light of our lives
      c. Jesus, please forgive us as we forgive them.
      d. Jesus says to this man, “Come follow Me, and be a forgiver as I am a forgiver.”
    8. This brave Christian hesitated, but only for a  moment. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
      a. He looked up at the sky. “Father, whoever did this, I forgive them.”
  C. Prejean went to two executions and sat next to the fathers of victims
    1. The man strapped to the chair said to this father, “Mr. Jones, I want to ask forgiveness for what I did to your daughter”
      a. He nodded to indicate a forgiveness already given. 
      b. WHY?
      c. Because when God asks us to forgive the impossible thing, God makes a way out of no way
    2. An Adventist line says: “All God’s biddings are enablings.”
    3. He won’t ask us to do anything without giving us the resources
      a. I Cor. 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
      b. If God asks us to give offerings and pay tithe, He will give us the resources to obey that invitation!
VIII. Widow's Mite
  A. An Adventist woman in the Philippines was part of “Target 50,000,” an evangelistic outreach to baptize that many just in 1996.
    1. At a rally, she emptied her purse for the cause, giving all she had except for 25 pesos – enough for her bus ride home
    2. A second appeal for some other project moved her; there went those last 25 pesos!
      a. Now how could she get home?
    3. She stayed with her sister that night; the next morning the sister gave her a long-forgotten envelope.
      a. Inside was 4,000 pesos: $160. 
      b. God makes a way out of no way!
  B. George Muller began a string of orphanages in England with 50 cents in his pocket
    1. Over his lifetime, friends donated $7,500,000.
      a. For decades they never missed a meal; food always arrived
      b. Sometimes at 5:00 p.m. the cupboards were bare with no supper
      c. They would pray and the food would miraculously come in
      d. A bakery truck would hit a pothole outside their door and fifty loaves of bread would fall out. (They probably didn’t rush to fix the pothole).
      e. More than 120,000 became Christians through those orphanages
  C. The Holy Spirit gives you words to say, empowers your witness
    1. Rick Warren, A Purpose-Driven Life: “The Holy Spirit releases His power the moment you take a step of faith.”
    2. C. S. Lewis describes God as a loving teacher who holds your hand and guides you as you take your first kindergarten stabs at forming letter and writing words.
  D. God gives us this church as a potent gift, helping us to be followers
  E. You are more giving because this church is here
IX. Conclusion
  A. It’s a risky and proven reality: if we do the things that make up the Christian life – Bible-reading, prayer, sharing, attending church – we will ever more clearly hear the invitation of Jesus: “Follow Me.”
    1. This isn’t a one-time invitation: Jesus said it to His disciples every morning over breakfast
    2. It’s a daily lifestyle choice for us too
    3. Through these same growth avenues, God will empower us to take up our crosses and be obedient in deeper and more fulfilling ways
  B. New parents do absolutely anything they can to sustain a good and happy life for their infants: from the bassinets to the best schools to the bridal shower to the board room
    1. We offer our children a loving opportunity and then pull out the VISA gold card to get it done
    2. It’s the same with our loving heavenly Father
 
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.



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