How many in our community are starving to death in that same way spiritually? The riches of the kingdom of Heaven are freely available to meet every one of their needs and then some! There are many churches here in the valley that long to freely give access to these riches to everyone. However, there are barriers in the lives of those around us everyday which keeping them in a waiting area. They are:
Waiting to feel comfortable (they do not know what to expect or what to do in a church service, they do not have nice enough dress clothes)
Waiting for an invitation (they are not sure if they are welcome to come)
Waiting to be accepted (they feel looked down on and judged)
Waiting to be good enough (they do not look or act like what they feel a church-goer should and they do not want to be a hypocrite)
Waiting for the need (they do not know what the church has to offer nor that it applies to them)
Waiting to have the free time (they value other things in life above gathering to worship and fellowship)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The veil has been torn, our sins have been washed away, our debts have been paid – there’s no need to wait! Jesus simply says, “Come on in!”. This year, that’s what we’re committing to say as well, “Come on in!”.
3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The solution to breaking down any and all barriers to people coming to Jesus, no matter what they are or how they were placed there, is actually quite simple: LOVE.
The single person who has ever walked the face of this Earth who could have put up a barrier between himself and others is Jesus. Instead, He chose to burst through all barriers in love. The “religious” people called Him a glutton, they called Him a drunkard, they called Him a demon, they called Him a friend of sinners, they called Him a hypocrite, they called Him a liar, they called Him a blasphemer. However:
Jesus didn’t allow their accusations to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow their traditions to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow their doubt to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow their denial of Him to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow their differences of opinion to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow the depths of their sin to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow His righteousness to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow the demonic to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow Satan’s personal temptation to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t allow their highly contagious sicknesses and diseases to stop His love!
Jesus didn’t even allow even death, itself, to stop His love!!!
Like Jesus, we are being called to love others with an unquenchable and unstoppable love. This love that Jesus has given us to love other with, it is patient, it is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil, but it rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This love NEVER FAILS! (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). This love is also not just a mere idea, concept, or quote. This love is one of action!
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
We are being called to love others more than ourselves, more than our reputation, more than our fear of failure, and far MORE THAN OUR FEAR OF THEIR SIN!
Jesus is THE way, THE truth, THE life. He has already broken down every barrier that separates us from God and so we must no longer allow any of them to stand in our own life nor in the lives of others! Listen to what was prophesied about us!
The One (or The Breaker in the KJV; capitalized referring to Jesus) who breaks open the way will go up before them;
Their King will pass through before them,
the Lord at their head (their being the Church of whom Jesus is the head).
Jesus is the Breaker – He is the one who breaks through the gate. He is the one who has made a way straight to the very throne of God’s grace. He is the one that caused the veil to be torn. He is the one who breaks down all barriers and says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church. He is the one who has already gone before us and is at the head. He did all of this and simply says to everyone, “Come on in!”.
People need the manifest love of God (1 Cor 13) in its various forms; they are starving for it! God chose us to break down the barriers that separate others from coming to Him, to build bridges and to simply agree with Him and say, “Come on in!”. Jesus has given us the divine power to do exactly this, in fact, to not only break down these barriers, but to demolish them altogether!
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
And we also choose not to be a barrier ourselves! We seek out after not our own good, but the greater good of others! We choose to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus to put the interest of others above His own (Phil. 2). That is exactly what God has begun to teach us through our “Tripping Hazards” message series.
1 Corinthians 10:32-33
32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Jesus came to seek and save the LOST. These are simple words that most of us are familiar with and probably quote often. However, we often miss the reality of that statement. Think about this example that helps us to understand what Jesus meant:
You are in a maze. At first, it’s a lot of fun. Your friends are with you and you decide to compete to see who can find the exit the fastest. You’re consumed by the excitement of the competition and know that you’ll find your way out first. Then, all of the sudden, you find yourself lost and trapped. You are now all alone. Your heart begins to beat faster and faster. You begin to panic. You are overwhelmed, alone, and scared. You begin to run, but every turn that you make just leads to yet another dead end. Every path that you race down offers just enough hope to keep you chasing down it until that familiar dead end meets you face-to-face once again. Minutes feel like hours. Although you were once confident and sure, you are now hopeless and lost.
The practical application of this year’s vision is to: