Theme: Jesus Christ is asking you to stand for him. How are you going to respond?
1 Corinthians 16:13,15:58,
Good morning. Could I get everybody to just stand up for just a second, please? Okay, you can sit back down. Oh wait, could you stand up? No I’m just kidding. Go ahead. Have a seat. I was just testing to see how much power I have up here. And you guys listen a lot better than the teenagers listen to me, usually. Let me ask you a question this morning. Why did you stand up? You stood simply because I asked you to. Now most of you know very little about me. You can see that I am balding, and out of shape. A lot of you know my name. Some of you know that I am from Georgia. A few of you might even know where I went to school, but other than that, you really don’t know me. I mean, I have only been here about four months. Really no time for you to find out about my prison; no wait, I mean, I meant to cross that out. Anyway, my point is that you know very little about me. And come to think of it, I know very little about you all. So what right did I even have to ask you to stand? But you did it. I asked you to stand and you stood. Well, this morning I come to you with this message: One who knows you, even better than you know yourself, is asking you the same question that I asked.
I want to look at a couple of scriptures with you this morning. The first is 1st Corinthians, 16:13.It says this. “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.” That the New Living Translation. In the NIV if we go back to 1st Corinthians 15:58, it says, “Therefore my dear brother, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Jesus Christ is asking you to stand for him. How are you going to respond? I want you to think about that for a second. Out of all the people who have ever asked or told you to do something for them, who is greater than the one asking you to take a stand for him this morning? Now, admittedly, my asking you to stand up in the pew a few seconds ago is a lot easier than the stand that he is asking you to take. But the principle should be the same. You stood for the simple reason that I asked you to. You trusted that I had a reason for asking you to stand. Well it only takes a little faith to know that Jesus wouldn’t ask this of you if there weren’t a good reason as well.
If we look in Luke, Chapter 5, verses 4-7, we see an example of someone having faith enough in Jesus to obey, even when he didn’t totally understand why. This is the story of Jesus walking, he is talking to the crowd and he is walking by and he sees the fisherman, he seeks Simon out. And it says that “when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Now go out where it is deeper and lay down your nets and you will catch many fish.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all last night and we didn’t catch a thing, but if you say so we will try again.’ And this time their nets were so full that to tear. A shout for help brought their partners and the other boat and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.” We see here that Jesus tells Simon to throw his nets back out and he would catch some fish. Now remember that Jesus was a fisherman–right? No! Jesus was a carpenter. So here’s this carpenter telling this professional fisherman how best to go about his work. All it took on Simon’s part was a little faith to end up being blessed with two boats that were filled to overflowing. Jesus got the response that he was looking for from Simon. Faith and action. Standing up for Christ requires the same thing of us. Faith and action. Faith that Jesus has a good reason for us to stand up for him. And action then to see it through. Even if it means losing some of our friends or going against what everyone else in class believes, or losing a promotion to a co-worker who isn’t bothered by certain office politics. Now, some of you may be saying, “Well, great. Christ did something for Simon, but what has he done for me lately?” The thing is, he has already done something for all of us. That deserves our faith in whatever he tells us to do. He died for us. He died for you and he died for me. But the cool thing is, that’s not all. Not only did he die for us, but he stood up for us as well. And we didn’t even ask him to do that. It’s called the resurrection. One of the basic meanings of the Greek word “resurrection” is literally “a standing up again.” Notice that it says, “again.” A standing up again. Christ stood up once for us when he came to earth to demonstrate what a personal relationship Him can be. Then he died and he paid the price for our sins, so that we could never, ever hope to pay. And then after all of that, he was resurrected. He stood up again. So you see, Jesus is already standing up for us. He isn’t calling for us to do anything for him, that he hasn’t already done for us. And are we willing to stand up for him? He is calling on us to take a stand because if we stand, then we can walk with him. You see, it’s kind of hard to walk when you’re sitting on your rear-end.
Now, maybe you’re asking, “What would I be standing for?” To stand up is to make a decision for living all out for Christ. That means everything from your personal life of daily reading your bible and praying, to your public life, which could be anything from not gossiping or not using foul language to speaking openly about your relationship with him. Is this an easy thing to do? No. The question is, is it worth it? Yes. Being a Christian is not all fun and perfect. We still have hurts and disappointments. The difference is that we have a friend who will help us get through the bad times and who knows our every need and wants us to live a fulfilled life in him. I think that word fulfilled is pretty important. Unfortunately, some people don’t even know that this fulfillment is what they are missing. Why is it that some people who the world holds up as wealthy and famous like powerful rock stars, movie stars, professional athletes, are people that we sometime see as having it all? Why do we sometimes read the stories of these people committing suicide? I believe they find out that there is nothing they can own. No one they can control or nothing that they can do on their own to fill the hole in their life, this hole that is God shaped. Only He can fill it. He longs to fill that space in our lives. Anything else we try to put in there, is like the saying, “putting a square peg in a round hole,” you can jam it in there, but it’s never going to fit exactly right. And we all desire that perfect fit. That perfect fit is Jesus Christ.
Now, I know that some of you are scared to stand. Standing up for God can be painful. I mentioned earlier what some of that pain could look like; maybe it’s your family disowning you because they think you must have joined a cult because you believe this religious stuff. Or maybe, people on your team blast you because they view you as intolerant, because you are trying to follow the Word as opposed to the world. Maybe it’s the pain inside us that comes from recognizing how long we have been sitting down doing nothing, when God has wanted to use us to work in someone else’s life. But you know, the cool thing about pain is that it usually goes away.
I want to tell you about my lip. You can’t really see it unless your looking at me up close, but my lip is uneven, my bottom lip. The left side here is permanently raised. When my daughter Caitlin was about two years old, we were playing together. And she decided to protect herself from Daddy’s tickling, one of the few ways a two-year-old knows how. She head butted me right in the lip. It bled a little bit, but I didn’t think about it that much, other than the fact that next time I tickled her I would get out the football helmet. But about a week later, my lip started getting bigger and it hurt. So I went to the doctor to get it checked out. It turns out that when Caitlin hit my lip with her tiny little head, she did it at just the right angle to sever one of the saliva glands in that side of my lip. Now–what happens when a saliva gland gets severed is that the saliva can no longer make it’s way to the top of the lip, and it causes a bubble. Well this bubble starts getting painful from pushing on all the other glands and tissue in the lip. I think that one of the worst things is that the saliva inside turns to pus from this inactivity. Yeah. So the doctor informed me that they would have to do surgery to remove the whole saliva gland. Now on the one hand, I am thinking to myself, do the surgery. Walking around with this big pus filled half a lip is just not going to make a good impression as I try to win over people with my natural charm and good looks– that’s not funny– but on the other hand, I was thinking surgery on my lip, that was going to be a little painful in of itself. Now without going into more details that, yeah I know you didn’t really need to know, from the Novocaine shot in the lip, to the eating through straws the next three days, it was a miserable experience. I thought the pain would never end. And I am sure that my wife, Patty, thought that I would never shut up about the pain. Well you know what, about two weeks later I realized that my lip wasn’t hurting anymore. I had faced the pain and I was a better man for it. Sure it took a little time to get over, but it was done. In fact, even though I thought at the time that even if the pain was gone, I would never forget how bad it had been. I have to be honest, I don’t really remember the intensity of the pain, I just know it hurt. I don’t remember that pain now. Here’s the point of the story. Standing up for God may be painful, but the pain is going to fade. And in its place will be the realization that you are a better person for the pain. That God has done something incredible in your life through that pain. In fact, I told you the story about my lip because I think it has a direct correlation to us talking about standing. See if we won’t stand up for Christ, then I think our relationship with him gets severed, just like that saliva gland in my lip did. And pretty soon, the sin in our life from things we have done, or sins in our life for things we haven’t done, it begins to fester and blow up. And what it takes is surgery to remove it. A soul surgery that brings us back into a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, it’s painful while it is happening, but probably in a couple of weeks, it’s going to fade. Will it become better through the pain, it moved on.
There is one last thing I need to say about standing up. Do you know why a lot of people want to keep their lives sitting down? Because when you are sitting down, you can’t fall. I just heard somebody speak on this concerning the disciples. If we look in Matthew 14, verses 25-32, we see the disciples as they are riding out a storm. Verse 24 says that a strong wind had risen and they were fighting heavy waves. They are out of the lake by themselves and they see in a distance what they think is a ghost. And Jesus calls out, “It’s me, there is no need to be afraid.” And we see that in Verse 29, I think it’s the most powerful verse. Peter is talking with Jesus and he tells Jesus that “if it is really you, command me to come out to you.” And Verse 29 says this, “So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. Peter stood up.” He stood up for Christ. Now, we know that just a few seconds later as he took his eyes off of Jesus and he sank, like a stone. You see sometimes we fall, but we can’t fall unless we stand up. And I have to believe that Peter, as he looked back on that, it wasn’t the fact that he fell that he remember years later, it’s the fact that for a few seconds, he walked on the water, because he had the courage to stand up.
One of my professors in college, Duffy Robins, professor of youth ministry, discipled me and I just love this–I may not have gotten anything beside this statement and my wife from going to Christian college, but he used to say that “You’re going to fail in life and so if you’re going to fail, fail big. No use having these failures that come from not doing anything, go for it and fall.” That’s what Peter did here. He said that “if I am going to fail, man what better way to fail than this.” And he stood up for Jesus. Some of us are just afraid to fall. I hope I haven’t lost you here. Jesus Christ is calling each of us to stand up for him. Standing up may mean sacrifice, it may mean servanthood.. It may mean conflict or humbleness. But whatever it means in your life, the same holds true for all of us. We have to have faith that if God is calling us to live his life, then he is going to be right there beside us, the whole way. And we have to put that faith into action and stand up for him. Let’s pray.
Father God, we come here today and we acknowledge that it is not easy to stand. It is scary sometimes. Sometimes we fall. But through it all, we know that no matter what happens that if we will take that stand, you will be right there beside us the whole way. Just like when Peter fell in to the water, he didn’t drown. You were there to lift him up again. Thank you that we have that assurance from you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.