Still Jesus

Still Jesus

August 20, 2017 | Mike Van Meter
Take out your Bibles and go ahead and open them to Hebrews Chapter 10. As you’re opening the Bibles I’m going to tell you guys about a trip that I go on every year. Neil and I run a ministry here in this church called Micah 6:8. It’s a young adult discipleship ministry. It’s usually like 8-15 18, 19, 20, 21-year old’s. It’s a year-long program where we meet twice a week. We have class. We do all kinds of training and ministry and we really help people discover their gifts, things that are good for them. If you’re interested, it is starting again in September, again it’s for young people. Every year at the end of the year, in June, we go on a trip. It’s kind of a really amazing trip. It’s this kayak trip where we kayak about 15 miles of the Colorado River. We drop in right below Hoover Dam. So we go out right outside of Las Vegas. Hoover Dam. We start there and we kayak down about 5 miles and then we camp overnight and it’s just totally wilderness. There’s nothing. It’s really remote. And then we kayak down the next 10 miles the next day. I have a couple pictures of it. You can go ahead and put that up there. That’s our trip from a couple years ago. It’s desert but it’s really beautiful and amazing. That’s our campsite and it’s beautiful and it’s on the river. Go ahead and look at the next one, there’s some girls kayaking that are friends of ours. If you ever go on this trip, I want to tell you it’s hot, okay? It’s like blazing hot. It’s like 115 degrees hot. It’s crazy bananas ridiculous. That’s almost the worse thing about this trip, but the most important piece of advice that I can give you if you ever go on this trip; the most important piece of advice I can give, is choose wisely who your kayak mate is going to be, okay? Who your partner is going to be. Now, you might think, “Okay, I’m going to spend the better half of the next two days in just this little tiny kayak with somebody. I want to pick my good friend or somebody that I’d like to get to know better or somebody who might be a good conversationalist. Somebody that’s funny.” That’s not what you want to do. You want to pick someone that is going to paddle, okay? Now, if you look at this picture, there is something very, very wrong with this picture. That paddle should be in the water right there, okay? And those feet should not be crossed very comfortably, chillaxing on this boat. Now, here’s what’s interesting is they let water out of Hoover Dam so there’s kind of a pretty constant current of water going downhill, but what you can’t see and what the picture won’t show you is that the wind blows up that canyon really hard. So, if you, in many parts of the canyon, if you were just to stop paddling, you actually would go against the current and go back upstream. The wind has this very strong effect on you and it does not take very long before you realize that you have someone in your boat with you that is not paddling or not paddling hard enough and you know how it works. They would have to paddle doubly hard just for you to feel like they’re doing an average amount, you know, as much as you’re doing. And so, you want someone with endurance because here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to get hot, you’re going to get tired, you’re going to get sore and you’re going to get into some particularly difficult spots where the only way out of it is to just paddle really hard for longer than you want to. Endurance is the number one thing that you want to look for in your partner, okay? So, that’s free. If you ever go on that trip; probably none of you will, but if you do, pick someone with endurance. Now, that’s what I want to talk about is endurance. I want to talk about the importance of endurance in the Christian life. So, if endurance is important in a kayak partner, endurance is significantly more important in the Christian life, okay? Look at what the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 10, verse 36.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Hebrews 10:36 ESV

Endurance is a necessary ingredient in the Christian life. When you get saved or born again, God does not just automatically translate you to heaven, right? You continue on this earth and you have to live, for Him, for however many days He gives you here on the earth before you get to enter into glory. So, the writer of Hebrews, we don’t know who the writer of Hebrews is. It’s really the only book in the New Testament where we’re not really sure who wrote it, but he says: You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, when you’ve done the things that God has asked you, when you’ve lived out the life that God has asked you to do, you may receive what was promised. If you want to be successful as a Christian it’s going to require a long-sustained effort to follow Him. I want to look at the broader group of this passage here in Hebrews 10. Let’s go back a few verses and start in verse 32. It says…
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings…

(The people that he’s talking to had gone through a very difficult time. In fact, it’s most likely a time that you read about in Acts chapter 6 and chapter 7 where there began to be this great persecution against the Jews who believed in Jerusalem. And it says, He says you lived through that day, remember it.)
sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

(I want you to think back to that time where you went through that very difficult testing, that very difficult trial and how faithful you were in the middle of that trial.)
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Hebrews 10:32-39 ESV

This is an important passage because we learn a few things in here about the need for endurance. We learn first off that many Christians are going to suffer difficulties in their life. In fact, God basically promises you that in your life you’re going to go through difficult times. You’re going to be tested, you’re going to be persecuted, you’re going to be mistreated. You’re going to have difficulties. We find out that these Christians that he’s talking to in fact did have it really difficult. They had their belongings plundered, things taken away from them, stolen from them, they were thrown into prison, they were lied about, they were mocked, they lost respect from people. We found out that they passed that test, but we found out that something else is going on now where they’re in danger of shrinking back. They’re in danger of giving up their confidence they had in the Lord. The writer of Hebrews says that when we’re tested and when we shrink back, God takes no pleasure in us.

You know, I’ve been a Christian for right about 20 years and in that time, it doesn’t take you long in being a Christian to realize that not everybody you start out with are the same people who you’re going to finish with. In fact, somebody said one time that the two hardest things in life are starting and finishing and of those two things, finishing is the hardest. And I can think back over the years of people I’ve done ministry with, people that I’ve served with, people that have been my teachers, people that have been influential in my life, people who we’ve enjoyed the power and presence of God together, who today are not walking with the Lord anymore. Being in the ministry, especially the youth ministry, like a really vibrant youth mystery where we reach out to a lot of kids, I see kids just get hammered by God, just get delivered from really horrific things and be filled with the power of God and have the lights go on. I have seen thousands of kids across the years that have had this experience with God and the presence of God and many of them sadly today are no longer walking with the Lord. I’ve seen a lot of adults who God delivered out of really sticky situations, who at one point in their life were so zealous and grateful for God, passionate about God, many today are not in church, but some of them are in church but they lack that passion and zeal that they once had for Jesus. At some point, they began to stop short. At some point, they began to shrink back. So, I want to preach this message to those of you in here who are just starting out in your walk of faith. And I want to preach this message to those of you who are in the last chapter of your life. And I want to preach this message to every single person in between, okay? So basically, sit up straight because this is for you, okay?

How does that happen? That’s a question I spend a lot of time thinking about. And not from this bewildering kind of like, “Oh, I can’t believe that person fell away, how did that happen?” But from just knowing my own personal nature, knowing my own gravity of life, how easily I slip into sin. How easy it is for me to slip into hard-heartedness. For me to make decisions that I look back and think, “Man, how could I do that? I know better. I’m smarter than that.” To look back at things that I’d written at different points in my life and think, “Man, that guy was on fire for Jesus. I don’t feel like that guy anymore.” And so the question of, what does it take to finish? What does it take to finish the walk that God has called you to and to finish well? That’s an important question that all of us should be asking. All of us should be dealing with. In fact, the Apostle Paul, it was kind of an essential question in his life, this need for endurance. If you turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 9, he gives us this illustration.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NASB

He’s talking about the original Greek games. Where we get the Olympics from. He’s eluding to those people. This is widely understood in Roman culture that there’s these Greek games that people would send their number one athletes from their villages and their towns and they would all come together to compete in these games. And there was this training regimen that you were expected to do. It was 10 months and you had to commit to 10 months of living away from your family. This 10-month training camp where they controlled your diet, they controlled your exercise, they controlled all these things you were going to do to train yourself to really be able to compete in these games.

The Apostle Paul is talking about the effort required to sustain a faithful walk with the Lord. You can’t just wake up one morning and think, “I’m going to go run a triathlon. I’m going to go run an Iron Man.” I don’t know why anyone would do that. It does not even register in my brain why you would want to do any of that, okay? But we have some real sickos here at this church, who that’s their thing. Kevin Miller who is the Executive Pastor here, he’s competed and ran and can finish and done well at like a few Iron Man’s. Which is like 150 miles. It’s something really stupid, I mean really dumb. It’s like a 3-mile swim or a 5-mile swim, and then like a 100-mile bike ride and like then a marathon. What is it like 26 point something? Is that what it is? Okay, 26.2. It doesn’t even register to me, but I was talking to Kevin and I was thinking about this idea of endurance and endurance athletes, right? These guys that run ultra-marathons, that run Iron Man. I wanted to know, what are some of the things that you train for? What are some of the things that go into your training so that you know you’re confident going out there that you’re going to be able to be successful? And he told me a few different stories. I’m just going to share one of them. There’s another sicko here at this church, Jim Bennett. They also, they run triathlons together and they were training for this triathlon and they were in Coronado on this long bike ride. I think it was something like a 50-mile bike ride that they were training for. They’re on the Silver Strand and their flying down the street on their bikes and Jim is just looking down, just booking it and he runs into the back of parked car, okay? Flies over the parked car and just road rash, right? Stops himself with his skin. Kevin just kept on riding until his friend was like, “Hey, we gotta turn around. Jim.” So, they go back and Jim is just in tatters, he’s just terrible, and he’s fixing his handle bars. He gets back on his bike and they take off down the road to finish. This is why I call these guys sickos. This is no reason to do this, okay? And he told me that they were training for the Phoenix Iron Man. When they finally were running the Iron Man they would say, “At least it’s not Jim falling off his bike.” As their legs began to ache, as the lactic acid was just being released in their bodies. They just thought they couldn’t go any further. They just reminded themselves, “At least this isn’t Jim.” I was like, why would Jim do this? Like, call the paramedics man. He said, he wanted to train that no matter what happens, when he’s running the race in Phoenix, he wants to know that he’s not going to stop, he’s not going to give up, he’s not going to quit. There’s this mentality that goes into endurance training that the Apostle Paul here says is of limited value. That they’re doing it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are running to receive an imperishable wreath. Something that will never decay, something that will never grow old. To inherit eternal life. And what’s really radical about this passage and if you try to wrap your brain about it, it says in verse 27.
but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB

The “I” in this is referring to the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul, who had so radically been transformed by Jesus appearing to him in a vision. The Apostle Paul who had raised people from the dead, who had seen God do miracles. The Apostle Paul who wrote two-thirds of the new testament was concerned about his own life with the Lord, was concerned about whether or not he had the endurance to finish. You’re not the Apostle Paul. You don’t know anybody who is the Apostle Paul. He is way better than your great-grandma who is the greatest Christian in your family. He’s just better than that, and yet here he is, concerned on whether or not he will have the ability to finish. “I preach in such a way, I discipline my body that I myself might not be disqualified.” I prepare myself now considering the challenges and the difficulties that are going to come in my future. And then we find at the end of Paul’s life, the last epistle that he writes, the last thing that he writes that we have in the New Testament is 2 Timothy. And the last chapter of that letter he says this.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

2 Timothy 4:6-7 NASB

You can hear the tension in his writing, that, “I’ve accomplished this difficult thing, the thing that I set out to do, the thing that was the most important thing in my heart, which was to remain faithful to Jesus throughout my life. I can now say I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have run the course.” Are you going to be able say that in your life? Are you going to be able to say that 5 years from now? 20 years from now? Are you going to be able to stand before the Lord or stand before the people you raised up in the Lord and say, “I fought the good fight, I’ve finished the course, I’ve kept the faith.”? Paul goes on to say…
In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…

2 Timothy 4:8-10 NASB

You see, there was this other disciple that was with him, that was serving Paul in the ministry. They had done ministry together, but Demis is gone now. He had abandoned Paul, he abandoned the faith. It says because he loved this present world. You know, as you go through this life there’s going to be different forces that are going to be operating against you. I’ve done a very little bit of sailing in my life, but I’ve been on a couple different sailing trips and one of the real discouraging things about sailing is very rarely is the wind going directly where you want to go. So, that almost never happens that, you just put up a thing and just go, you know? No problem. Almost always the wind is going some different direction. So, the way you navigate, (the way I navigate... this is how novices navigate, the professionals they got all kinds of stars and whatever, but…) you pick out a place that you want to go, okay? So, you got to be in sight of land and you think, “I’m going to aim for that.” So, as you’re steering and you’re working the jig and you’re working the sail and all this kind of stuff as the wind pushes you off in different directions, or as the rudder pushes you off in different directions you gotta just constantly make these small corrections to keep youself headed in the right direction. And our lives are like that too. There’s constantly forces working in every which direction... things that you’re conscious of, things that you’re unconscious of, that are working to move you off of course. There’s something called mission drift. There’s actually a book I’m reading right now called Mission Drift and it’s by these Christians who run Hope International and someone came to them and said, “Hey, we want to give you a very large amount of money, a very large grant, but you need to tone the Jesus stuff down, okay? And so, it’s this opportunity, if you secularize a little bit, it will help us with our donors and we can really fund this thing, and we’re excited about the work you’re doing, you just need to be not so, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” And they went back and they thought about it and they did a study and this book is the result. The study is, what different organizations throughout the world, how has that worked out for people as they toned down their message, right? And one of the examples they give in the book is Harvard University. Harvard, when it was established, they had a mission statement. Their mission statement is this, “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed, to consider well that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.” Well, if you’ve been to Harvard recently, I have not, but what you’ll find is a stellar university that this mission statement has nothing to do with what they’re doing today. In fact, it has been that way for a really long time. In fact, even just 80 years after the founding of Harvard, a bunch of Christians, a bunch of evangelical leaders said, “Man, we don’t like the direction Harvard is heading. Let’s just start another university.” One of the most famous Christians from that time is a guy named Cotton Mather and he went to his good friend who was a philanthropist. He has a very interesting name so let me find it, Alehu Yale. He said, let’s now start a university and they did. Yale University. They said, “We’re not going to do what Harvard did.” Harvard and Yale are basically identical today. Both of them don’t have any semblance of their Godly heritage and aren’t accomplishing any things that they originally set out, that their founders set out to do. How does that happen? How do you get pushed so far off of your mission? We can look at a lot of different organizations. The YMCA started as a distinctly Christian organization. They have nothing to do with Jesus now. Totally secularized.
Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Hebrews 2:1 ESV

There’s going to be a lot of forces that are going to push in your life and I want to, for our conversation, just to categorize them into two broad categories. One we’ll call pain, okay? That’s just anything in your life that has adversity, difficulty, challenges, problems. These are things that we often think of that we must endure or exercise perseverance in. Trials, suffering, difficulties during an experience because of the brokenness of this world, sinning, being sinned against, sickness, disease, failure, disappointments, times of great struggle. And the pressure in this situation is to at some point, take your eyes off of Jesus and start to try to find comfort or relief in something other than Him. In the midst of the storm, to start to doubt and say, “God, why is this happening to me? Why are you treating me this way? This isn’t fair. This isn’t what I expected.” And then in that, in that rebellion, just kind of start to look to other places and other things to satisfy you. In my years as a pastor, I’ve seen my fair share of husbands or wives who have found themselves in a difficult marriage who at some point have just decided, “This is too much being asked of me. I can’t do this. I don’t care what I promised to God. I don’t care what He’s commanded of me. I can’t do it anymore.” And they want out. I’ve seen families go through really difficult things and sickness and disease. Kid’s getting cancer. Brokenness. And I’ve seen the way that that can strengthen people as they seek the Lord as their refuges and the way that it can tear people apart and they abandon their faith in the midst of their pain and in the midst of their suffering. And pain is what we normally think of when we think about endurance, but I want to suggest that the second category, which is pleasure, can oftentimes be more effective at getting people off course with the Lord. We often think about success and pleasure not really as things that we need to endure. One of the dangers of affluence is that when you’re well fed, well clothed, in good health, you have a lot of entertainment, it becomes pretty challenging not to be lazy or lethargic. When you don’t have any obvious needs that you need to press into. And I’ve seen this a lot of times where people I’ve known were desperate for God because they had some pressing need in their life. “God, am I gonna be single forever? Lord, this hurts. God, my family member is going through this thing. I don’t have a job, I need a job, I need some direction. God, would you help me?” And they’ve been desperate for God’s help in their life and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that when God finally gave them the thing they were desiring, the thing they wanted, often times quickly, sometimes slowly, their zeal, their passion, their faith really began to fade, began to wane.

There’s a young man who grew up in this church, T.J. Leaf, who just this last month was drafted in the first round of the NBA. T.J. was in my office a couple weeks before that and we were talking and I was just talking to him, I said, “Man, you’re about to encounter a really difficult test in your life.” You know, I have a lot of confidence in T.J. T.J. is a really good kid and I’m really expecting big things out of him, but I said, “You know, for a lot of the guys that you’re going to get drafted with, one of the worse things that is ever going to happen to them is that they are going to get drafted into the National Basketball Association.” Most of us don’t think of that as being something we must endure or a difficult test… when we finally get what we have wanted for our entire lives… when you’re 19 years old and somebody writes you a check for a few million dollars. But I’m telling you, it’s going to be difficult for those kids to stay faithful to Jesus in the midst of just getting whatever you want.

And so, I want to finish with this. Here’s four principles. If we’re going to endure in our faith, here’s four things, there’s a lot more than this, but here’s four things that we’re going to need to do, we’re going to need to accomplish to remain faithful to Jesus. If you, at the end of your life are going to be able to stand with the Apostle Paul and say, “I fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” If at the end of your life you’re going be able to say, “I have remained faithful to Jesus for all these years”, you’re going to have to these four things.

Four principles to Endure in Faith:

Fix your eyes on Jesus

That point of focus, the point on the horizon that you’re pointing your boat towards, that you’re constantly correcting towards must be Jesus Himself. As soon as you take your eyes off of Jesus and you put it on anything else, you’re going to start to go off course. And this goes not just for difficult things or challenges, it goes for good things. It goes for your spouse, it goes for your family, it goes for your job, it goes for ministry, it goes for other people at this church. Once it becomes about anything other than Jesus, you are well on your way to getting off course. Jesus Christ sits at the pinnacle, at the forefront of the Christian faith and for you to remain faithful to Him, it has to be about Him every day. A single-minded focus on Jesus.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB

There’s a few things that stand out to me here. First off, it says lay aside every sin and weight that so easily entangles you. It almost says it like a flippant way. Just get rid of that stuff. Cast it off. It’s just messing you up. It’s just keeping you from running the race that’s in front of you. You know, so often we make this big deal of our sin. We focus on it. We concentrate on it. We think about it. You know, we’re just like attached to it. The Bible says to just let it go. Let it go, get rid of it and fix your eyes on Jesus. It’s interesting that it says fix your eyes on Jesus. It doesn’t say look at Jesus. It says fix your eyes. The Greek word for fix your eyes is aphorao, which means, to turn your eyes away from other things and to fix them directly on something. So, it’s almost this intent focus that says, “I don’t care what else is going on. I don’t care about the other circumstances. I don’t care that it doesn’t make sense. I don’t care what the numbers say. I don’t care what the reports say. Jesus, I am fixing my eyes on you. Why? Because it is You who is the author and the perfecter, the author and the finisher of my faith. You are the one who tells me what’s going on. You are the one who is in control and so I’m looking away from all these other things that are pulling me and grabbing me and trying to direct my attention. Difficult things, great things. The fact that my bank account says I have negative money or my bank account says I have a bunch of money. Lord, I’m fixing my eyes on you.” A single-minded focus on Jesus.

Grow in Contentedness

We have to learn to become content. Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13…
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13 NASB

You know, when I think about contentedness, I think about the times in my life when I feel discontent are times when I feel like I don’t have enough. I think that’s our natural default when we talk about contentedness. The Apostle Paul said something else though, “I have learned to be content when I don’t have enough. I have also learned the secret to being content when I have an abundance.” It doesn’t seem like something you have to learn. I’ve got a lot, I’m happy, right? But what he’s saying is, I am not a slave to my circumstances. I am not a slave to what I have or what I don’t have. I have learned the secret of being content in no matter what circumstances because I recognize that I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me as I fix my eyes on Jesus, as I let everything else go. My confidence is not in my skills, my abilities, my IQ. It’s not in my ability to provide for myself. It’s not in my ability to make money. It’s not in my ability to get people to like me. My confidence, my hope, my eager expectation is completely wrapped up with Jesus. That’s the secret to not getting trapped up in money. You know for T.J. and all the other guys who were drafted in the first round, if they’re going to remain faithful to the Lord it’s going to be because they have learned that it has nothing to do with all this money or fame or success. And listen, that’s as true for you as it is for him. You will not be happy when you get more stuff. When the next iPhone comes out, you won’t be any happier then than you are now. When you finally get that thing that you’ve been saving up for, you get that vacation house, you can afford to go to Hawaii or you can afford to retire early, you will not be more content. It does not bring real contentedness. If your eyes are on that, if your focus is on that, if you’re working every day to save every dollar you can so that you can retire early, you have missed it and you are not going to stand with Paul on that day and say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” Because it has nothing to do with that. You have to guard your appetites. The first thing: fix your eyes on Jesus. The second thing: grow in our contentedness. The third thing is…

Keep Short Accounts with God

Keeping your account short is an accounting term which means you pay your bills in full when they’re due. If you’ve ever been in debt you know how fast it can mount up, right? They passed a law a few years ago where on your credit card statement, they had to show you if you pay your minimum payment this is how much you will pay and how long it will take you, right? If you just pay like 10 or 50 dollars more a month, way faster, way shorter, right? And it’s because it was difficult for people to understand. You get all these kids that are going into debt and they’re getting their credit cards and they’re getting student loan debt and they don’t understand. They don’t understand how this interest thing works, right? And it’s a real bummer when you find out that that probably wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done borrowing all that money. Because when you’re just paying the minimum payment on your account often times you’re not even making a dent. You’re not even actually getting out of debt. But if you pay your bills in full every month, you pay the balance whatever it is, you’re keeping short accounts. You don’t have open credit out there that is causing you problems that is building interest. Listen, do that with your money. That is smart, okay? But definitely do that with God. Don’t let stuff go. Don’t let stuff build up. When you put off obedience or repentance or duty to God it has the effect of causing your heart to grow cold. It has the effect of distancing yourself from God. John Wesley said one time that when you get convicted of sin, make your repentance as immediate and as complete as you possibly can. That’s keeping short accounts with God. When God convicts your heart... He’s been speaking to some of you in here about different things. Not even anything I’m talking about. Maybe a harsh word you gave to somebody? Maybe some way that you’ve sinned against somebody? Maybe He’s bringing up something you’ve been holding against somebody? And it’s not just tonight because He does it all the time. He brings it to your mind. Or something that have been struggling with? Or some sin that you’ve been walking in that you have this crushing guilt that you feel about it. Don’t delay. It only gets harder the longer you wait. When David had sinned against God and committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah the Hittite, her husband, murdered, he wrote Psalm 32:1-7 in the aftermath of that and he said this.
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! 3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to You and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and You forgave the guilt of my sin. 6 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 32:1-7 NASB

Don’t put off obedience to God. Do you know how much better all our lives would be if we had the attitude towards God that, “God, I will be obedient right away. I will do what You’ve commanded me to do.” So, the third thing, keep short accounts with God. The fourth thing is this.

Make Up Your Mind

Make up your mind that you’re going to follow Jesus no matter what. Make that decision. Some of us have made that choice. Some of us have decided, “I’m all in on Jesus” and some of us have not. Some of us, things are going good, sure. You come to church, things are going great for you, but in the back of your mind you’re leaving yourself outs. You’re leaving yourself other directions, other choices, other doors you’re keeping open in your life. In John chapter six, Jesus had just fed the five thousand and people were following Him and they’re excited and they’re passionate and He has this whole new group of disciples that are just following Him around the land and Jesus just said something really peculiar. You think, oh great, Jesus is finally getting His respect. He starts to just preach really hard things. He starts to call people out. He starts to tell people how hard it’s going to be to follow Him, how difficult it’s going to be. And a lot of people just start falling away. They start hearing these things that Jesus is preaching. It’s not the miracles and the grace. It’s the difficulty of obedience and the high expectation that Jesus is going to have of them, for all His disciples. He starts talking about, “You’re going to have to drink my blood and eat my body.” And they’re just confused. It doesn’t make sense to them and so all these people start leaving, and as they’re leaving Jesus looks to the disciples and says…
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave, too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:66-69 NIV

This verse is so important. Peter had nowhere to go. He had no other options. He was totally committed to Jesus. He couldn’t go back to fishing. He couldn’t just go back to being a good Jew because he had become convinced throughout his entire being that Jesus was the Messiah. I just want to ask you, are you convinced of that? I mean, not just, yeah okay, whatever. But is that the truth that is the bedrock of your entire life? Everything that you are… it’s the bedrock that Jesus Christ is your savior? There’s an old hymn that we’re actually going to sing in just a minute, but it says, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.” Is that the cry of your heart? Have you decided? Is that settled business in you? Because if it’s not, you need to settle that now. You need to settle it now.