Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

01/13/2019A.M

 

A New Year’s Resolve– Becoming More Like Jesus

John 17.1-26

 

Go with me to John seventeen... Here we find Jesus’ High Priestly prayer... For Himself... For His Apostles... And for us here this morning.

 

Bible scholars are uncertain as to where this prayer takes place.

We know for sure it did not take place in the upper room.

The last verse of John 14 has Jesus saying... Arise come now let us go.

 

It didn’t take place in the garden... Because the first verse of chapter 18 still has Jesus and company on the Jerusalem side of the Kidron.

 

Some have suggested that the prayer took place on the edge of the hill overlooking the Kidron.

 

Josephus says there were approximately 2 1/2 million people in the city for this Passover. If there was one lamb sacrificed for every ten people... That would be 250,000 Lambs slaughtered on this special high Sabbath.

 

For such occasions... A trough was constructed from the Temple Mound... Out to the edge of the Kidron Valley.  It was through this trough that the blood of these lambs flowed.

 

Perhaps...As Jesus approached the Kidron... Neared the edge... He could both see and smell the blood of these lambs.

 

If the Palestinian skies were unclouded... We know at Passover... There would have been a full moon.

 

Near midnight the landscape would have been flooded with light.  Perhaps the sight and the smell struck the heart of Jesus... Perhaps He thought... I am the lamb come to take away the sins of the world.

 

In just a few hours it would be His blood flowing... You can almost feel the realization creep over Him.  We can easily imagine Jesus dropping to the ground on his knees to the Father in prayer.

 

Step with me now into this Most Holy Place and let’s listen.  What we’re hearing church... Is God speaking to God.  This is no ordinary prayer... This is God praying to God.  The… Eternal...Holy... Omnipotent... Sovereign Son... Praying to an eternal... Holy... Omnipotent... Sovereign Father.

 

You see... If you want to know a person intimately… As they really are... Listen in on their private prayers...

•Not the ones in a church setting...

•Not the ones around the Lord’s table...

•Or at the family table...

But in their own personal prayer closet.

 

We’re privileged this morning to examine the real Jesus by... Listening....Eves-dropping... In His prayer closet.

 

What can we learn about becoming like Jesus... This is our lesson.

 

To Be like Him… We must believe in Prayer... Do We?..

How well do we know our Bible?

How many times does Jesus pray between the Upper Room and death on the cross?  I counted at least nine or ten...

• Two when he blesses the bread and the wine.

• Once in our text at the Kidron.

• Three times in the garden.

• Three times on the cross... Forgive them they know not what they do... Why have you forsaken me?... And... Father... Into thy hands I commit my spirit.

 

Question...Now how often do we pray?

• First Thessalonians 5.17 says pray always.

• First Timothy 1.8 tells us to pray everywhere.

 

James five tells us to...

• Pray when we are happy…

• Pray when we are troubled…

• Pray when we are sick…

• And pray when we are caught up in sin.

 

The Jews prayed three times each day… At nine… Twelve… And three.  This practice can be traced back as far as Daniel… Even back to David in Psalms 55.17.  The Greek construction in Acts 2.42... And their practice in Acts three... Tell us that the early church… Led by the Apostles... Were still keeping Jewish prayer times.

 

With this new year... Why not resolve to pray a minimum of three times a day.  I would hate to think that... I would have to get through a day on less than three prayer times.... Amen?

 

To be like Jesus… We must be mindful of our priorities.

Even though he is facing death straight on... His mind is on the Father’s business.  In this prayer… It is evident that Jesus is interested in two things.

(1) His relationship to the father...

(2) His relationship with His Apostles... His disciples... Even to those of us listening this morning.

Jesus was interested in people... Not…Property... Power... Politics... Popularity.

 

You see church... Real life is a triangle... Me...God... And my fellow man.

Sever any one of these three relationships... And it weakens... Or even severs the others.

 

John said... We cannot say... We love God whom we have not seen... When we can’t love... Appreciate... And get along with our brother who we can see.

 

Jesus boiled the Law of Moses down to two commands…Love God with all your heart... Mind… Strength… Soul… And love your neighbor.

 

Question??... How are we doing in our relationship with one another?

Is our relationship with God being... inhibited... Hampered... This morning... Because of our relationship with one another?

 

Here it is… John is saying… Our vertical relationship with God cannot be right when we make no attempt to have a loving relationship with others, all others.

 

Let’s start this new year by letting go of our grudges... Making sure our priorities are… Clean… Clear… And properly aligned.

 

Accept God’s timetable.

The time has arrived… The hour is come… Do you see this in verse one?

When our hour comes... Will we be ready?

 

Are we willing… Even today...To submit to God’s timing?

• Ready to go…

• Ready to stay…

• Ready to suffer…

• Ready to serve…

• Ready to die or ready to live the adventure… Whatever God has in store for us?

 

Church...I am not talking about death…

• I’m speaking of dying to self… To the world… To sin…

• I’m talking about living for Jesus…

• Being about the Father’s business.

Allowing God to lead us in paths of righteousness for His Glory… His namesake…To His honor.

 

David said… Yes… Yes… Lead on... Even in the valley in the shadow of death.

 

Mordecai said… Who knows Esther… Perhaps God brought you to the Kingdom for this purpose?

 

Church… Jesus knew His mission… Do we?... Or do we think all of life is an accident… That it just happens?

 

Are we willing to say… Jesus lead on?… Or... Are we insisting on doing what we want… Seeing to our business… Rather than HIS business... His agenda... His timing!

 

Here it is… One day we will accept God’s timetable!!… Why not accept it today?…

 

Why not turn our life over to Him... Live the adventure He has in store for us...Not just the day we die... But every day we live.

 

I’ll never forget what Harry Branstetter once told me… As he was dying... I don’t know what the Lord has in store forme... But I am sure enjoying the journey… Living the adventure!!

 

INDEED!... INDEED!!... What a great life it is... When we accept... And submit to God’s timing.

 

Number four... Be willing to be used.

Look at verses one and five… Glorify Me.

This word glorify appears seven times here in John seventeen.

We’re not talking about... Lord... Give me a million dollars... So I can show the world how you’ve blessed me.

• To Jesus… Glorify me... Meant…Hang me on a cross until I’m dead.

•To Paul... Glorify... Meant...Arrest… Jail… A beating… Shipwreck… Abuse... and Death.

 

Again… Some of us need to learn to die!!!…

• Dieto self…

• Die to our selfish ambitions...

• Die to lust and sin…

• Die to the world…Die to materialism... So that God can be glorified in us.

 

Isn’t it time we understand that.. being like jesus... Being His witness… May mean suffering for the cause of the Kingdom.

 

Jesus’ deepest desire was to glorify the Father…

His greatest ambition was... To do whatever had to be done... To allow God’s name to be honored... God make us more like Jesus... AMEN?? 

 

finish the work God has given us.

Jesus said... I came to do the will of the Father who sent Me.

He had done good for thirty-plus years… But... It was all for nothing... Unless... Unless... He was willing to suffer the cross.

 

Paul said… I have finished the course… Run the race... Kept the faith.

 

My prayer for this church is that not one of us will be lost in our senior years... Because we gave up without finishing the work God has set before us.

 

Church... This is why it is so important for us to find our place in Kingdom Ministry...For us to...

• Keep on teaching classes…

• Working in the Children’s Bible Hour...

• Visiting the sick…

• Taking care of the poor…

• Caring for the shut-ins…

• Delivering Meals-On-Wheels….

• Serving the Jesus in others...

• Just working the work God has for us to accomplish.

There’s no retirement in the Kingdom of God.

 

The concept of retirement from God’s work can’t be found anywhere in the Old or New Testament... Retirement is an American concept... Not a Biblical one... Not a SPIRITUAL one!!

 

Question... In baseball… How many runs count that do not cross the plate?... Not a one… Right?

• Elders… Don’t die on third base… Don’t die in a conference room… Making decisions… Rather… Die in personal ministry to the church of God's family.

• Deacons don’t give up on the task assigned.

• Preachers... Bible teachers... Don’t stop studying… Teaching… Preaching… Don’t die on base.

 

We have retired preachers come to our congregation… And never… Preach… Teach…Deliver a devotional… What are we thinking?

 

Can you name anyone in the Old or New Testament that retired from God’s work?

Retirementis… An American… A Western world concept… Certainly not a Biblical one.

 

Jesus’attitude was… I will NOT give up… I will NEVER stop… Doing the will of the Father… Working His work.

• Regardless of the criticism…

• The shame…

• The pain…

•The toughness of the task

God make me more like Jesus.

The message from Revelation 2.10 is... Be faithful until... And unto death.

 

Point number six… Be evangelistic.

We hear Him say… Father… I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me.

We’ll not evangelize everybody… Jesus didn’t… But we can be a daily witness.

God will not hold us personally responsible for EVERYBODY!!!

But I believe the Bible to teach that He will hold us responsible for those He has… given us… Placed in our lives… In our care...

• Our spouse… Children… Grandchildren… Extended family…

• Friends… Neighbors… People we work with… Play golf with.

 

I used to preach a sermon titled… Making the journey without what is really important.

 

O yes the kids are doing fine… Have three you know… Seven grandkids… All doing well… College degrees… Good jobs… New cars… Four and five bedroom homes… Three car garages… All drive SUVs....

 

Well...Do they know Jesus?… What are their values?… Values?… Values?… Know Jesus?... Making the Journey without what is really important.

 

Now…Let me show you something about being evangelistic from this text.

Evangelism will never happen… Will never occur in our homes… Neighborhood… Or down at work… Out on the golf course… Until we…

• Mention them specifically in prayer… Look at verse nine… Are we praying for anyone by name?

 

• Until they see all that is ours belongs to God… Note verse ten.

 

• Do others around us know that we are in the world… But that we are not of the world… Verse eleven.

 

• Another aid to evangelism is seen in verse thirteen… People need to see our joy…Our faith…Our confidence in God.

What others do not need to see is our ringing our hands in... Hopelessness…Faithlessness.

 

• And… Evangelism will not occur until we give them God’s Word…. That’s verse fourteen.

 

We must know that... Americanism… Democracy… Education... Political correctness… Do not save!!… The Word of God saves!!

 

Folk... Listen to me this morning... We don’t live by the Word… Preach... And proclaim the Word of God… Because it is politically correct… But because it is the truth.

 

God…Make us more like Jesus… Evangelistic!!

 

We must act according to truth…

Jesus believed… Practiced... and Preached… Truth… Verse seventeen.

• His heart… Nor his preaching was into… Church creeds… Tradition… Non-essential stuff.

• Jewish heritage…

• Political correctness…

But truth.

 

Jesus knew...

Truth saves… sanctifies… sets us free...

• Truth forgives us...

• Truth sustains us...

• Judges us…

• And one day… Truth will take us home.

 

Question… What regulates our life… Yours and mine today??

• Is it  Financial truth?…

• Political truth?…

• Social truth…

• Talk show truth?…

• Some TV evangelist?...

God give us truth… Only truth in this New Year... Only truth in this church…Amen?

 

Let Unity be our Goal.

Jesus prayed for unity among believers… That’s verse twenty-one... Make them one… Father… As you and I are One.

 

Unity in our churches today is simple… If God is our Father… We are brothers.  The Bible teaches us that...

• We are the children...

• The instrument...

• The servant...

• A living sacrifice…

Of the one we obey. 

 

Being a child of God!!!... is doing the Father’s will.

 

Some want to make people brothers... And everyone do his own thing... Go their own way!... That’s not Bible.

 

Others insist on narrow… Unscriptural rules for fellowship… Brotherhood.  They become so exclusive that they are forced to start their own churches... It happens all around us.

 

Jesus said… I came to do the will of the Father.

 

Church…Let’s you and I do the will of the Father… And let Him define Brotherhood and fellowship… Amen?

 

This morning... We have gone into Jesus’ prayer closet… We’ve learned what it takes to be more like Jesus in our daily walk.

 

Truth is…

• All too few people…

• All too few teens…

• All too few mothers and fathers…

• All too few executives… And working people

• All too few retirees...

• All too few church members...

Are willing to be like Jesus in our world?? Are we?… this is our challenge!!

 

Paul says... Be conformed to His image… Let the heart... The mind... The attitude... The disposition of Jesus be in you.

 

What do you and your preacher need to do to be more like Jesus?

 

• Do we need to become a child of God… By Faith… Repentance… Confession and New Testament Baptism?

 

• As baptized believers... Do we need to make some changes in our lives...Perhaps in some of the areas we’ve talked about this morning?

 

Our text teaches us that Jesus is praying for you this morning... Right now!!!

 

Come…Be more like HIM… As we stand and sing this invitation song.