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    Jan 17, 2016

    Follow Me

    Passage: Mark 1:14-20

    Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

    Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

    My mother is a master story teller. The stories she tells are true and they are based on her life experiences. I have recorded about five of them and I have showed them to a couple of people in the church. They are funny and always powerful. There are so many more that I need to record. My mother is 83 and this past fall she got very sick and could have died. I keep telling myself I need to get these stories down on video but subconsciously I keep thinking I’ll get to it tomorrow or the next day. Right now I got other things to do. I’ll make it a priority tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

    But what is going to happen if I don’t act she is going to die and then I’ll never be able to record them. Time is running out.

    Procrastination Is Our Enemy

    Procrastination is engrained in the DNA of humans because we are sinners. We are fallen creatures, we are broken, and because we are we are inclined to think that we always have tomorrow but this is not true.

    James tells us in his letter that we should not go around saying that “today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”[i]

    Two days ago a premature born baby died in the arms of my wife at Presbyterian hospital. Procrastination is the enemy of tomorrow because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

    In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul tells the church that “the time of God’s favor is now, today is the day of salvation.”[ii] And in the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah tells us to “seek the LORD while he may be found and to call upon him while he is near”[iii] yet we always think we got tomorrow.

    When the apostle Paul got in trouble in Jerusalem for preaching Christ he was arrested and drug before the Roman Governor of Jerusalem. His name was Felix. Paul gave a defense of his actions and he preached the gospel to him but Felix shouted to Paul, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient I will send for you.” [iv] When I find it convenient. Paul was sent back to jail and Felix never found it convenient again to send for Paul. What happened? Felix procrastinated, two years passed, then he died. When you die it’s over. There are no second chances for salvation.

    The writer of Hebrews states that man is “destined to die once and then after that face judgment.”[v]

    So procrastination is not only the enemy of tomorrow because tomorrow may never come but it is also the enemy of salvation. The call of salvation and the call of Christ to follow him is a call that must be answered today.

    Both Matthew and Luke record the story of Jesus calling one to follow him who said, “Lord I will follow you, but first let me bury my father.” To him Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” another man said, “Lord I will follow but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” To him Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

    On the surface Jesus sounds harsh and sometimes he is harsh by the way we define harsh, but what we must remember is that he was challenging their spirit of procrastination. He is not opposed to a person saying goodbye to their family, or giving a person a proper burial, but what he is opposed to is a spirit of procrastination that can kill you in the end. Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, wants to reconcile you unto God now.

    Now is the Time

    In our text this morning Jesus says to his hearers, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

    Now is the time. Today is the day of salvation.

    Do you remember what we learned a few weeks ago about repentance?

    Repentance doesn’t just mean to turn away from bad and sinful things, though there is an element of that to it. To repent is to turn away from something so that you may turn toward something or someone new.

    If you leave bad things or bad ways but never turn toward God, what good is that?

    That is why Jesus says to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, “Come, follow me.” He didn’t just say leave your old way of life, he said come and follow me. Put your rods down so that you can be saved and become fishers of men. You now have a new calling in your life. I am going to teach you how to win people for Christ and make disciples of them.

    Simon Peter and Andrew’s response?

    “At once they left their nets and followed him.”

    After that Jesus went a little further and he encountered James and his brother John getting ready to go out to fish. Without delay Jesus called them and Mark tells us that they left their father and their hired help in the boat and followed Christ.

    There is something very important about repentance and turning to follow Christ in your life that I would have you notice from the text.

    When Jesus calls people to follow him he’s not just calling them to leave things that are wicked and evil. No, in repentance sometimes Jesus calls us to leave something that is good, right, and noble in order to follow him.

    All four men were fishermen and that is an honest way to make a living. Perhaps James and John even had a thriving enterprise. The text says they were working with their father and had hired help in the boat. So not only did they have to lay aside a job to follow Jesus, they had to say good bye to their business and to their father. Christ had called them to leave a good way of life in order to pursue the greatest way of life- life with God in him.

    Great Gain in Following Christ

    Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, seekers, and non-believers, there is a cost to following Jesus.

    You have to give up something in order to follow him. It may not be fishing, praise the Lord, but it might be. Or it could be something else. But it’s going to be something and whatever it is it will involve something you love, be it good, bad, or wicked. That much is guaranteed. That is why it is called repentance.

    But what you will gain is so much greater than what you will lose.

    What will you gain when you follow Christ?

    First, you will gain a new life. The Bible says that if any man is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone the new is come. This we call being born again. Moving from death and alienation from God to life and reconciliation to God through faith in what Christ has done for us in his life, death, and resurrection. When we commit our lives to him he comes into our hearts and he changes us!

    Second, you will get the abundant life. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have life to full.”[vi] That is to say that in Christ you will begin the process of living for the purpose which God made you. God wrote the instruction manual. He created you and made you in His image. God breathed His breath of life in you so that in Him you might “live, move, and have your being.”[vii] But you lost it in your sin and rebellion against God but in Christ God has taken away the sin problem and now through Jesus your life can get back on track so that you can find fulfillment in the purposes and plans for which God made you. The Christian life is not an easy life but it is an abundant life. There is great joy in following Jesus.

    Third, you will get a life that is free of condemnation. That means that all of your failures and besetting sins no longer have to weigh you down in guilt. There is nothing you can do in your power to get rid of your guilt and self-condemnation but Christ can take that guilt and self-condemnation away because in him and on him was the just penalty due to your sin laid. “For Christ himself bore our sins in his body on a tree so that we might die to sins and life for righteousness. (The power of substitution.) By his wounds we have been healed… By his wounds we have been healed… By his wounds we have been healed.”[viii]

    What are you waiting for? And why are you waiting? Amen.

     

    [i] James 4:13-14

    [ii] II Corinthians 6:2

    [iii] Isaiah 55:6

    [iv] Acts 24:25-26

    [v] Hebrews 9:27

    [vi] John 10:10

    [vii] Acts 17:28

    [viii] II Peter 2:24