Creed / Turn: Luke 19
I’m starting a new series today called “Don’t Leave the House”
I know some people are thinking “I’ve been in the house long enough! I’m sick of my house. I’m sick of the people in my house.” Well let me explain.
When I say ‘Don’t Leave the House’ I am not talking about your place of residence. Nor am I only talking about your physical presence in a building. I am talking about the ‘Ecclesia’ - the gathering of a people with a purpose. The church of Jesus Christ.
I would like to introduce you to something I’m calling “The Principle of the Place”
What it that? Here it is: It doesn’t just matter who you are, and it doesn’t just matter how you are, it also matters where you are.
We see this consistently throughout scripture where God’s provision, protection, peace, and purpose is inextricably linked to a place.
Just a few examples:
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the Judeo-Christian tradition, you are at least vaguely familiar with the jewish festival known as passover. This is a day where jewish folks celebrate and remember a very specific event in humanities history. Which was an event called, unsurprisingly, “Passover” - I’m sure you know the story. When God sent plagues in Egypt and the final plague will be the death of the first born. And so God instructs his people to spread lambs blood on the doorpost of their houses and the angel of death will pass over them.
Now I want you to really think about that. The thing that was protected wasn’t the person, it was the place. They weren’t spreading blood on their foreheads, the safety was in the house.
If you go to 1 Kings 17, you see that God providing provision for his Prophet Elijah during a draught. So he tells Elijah to go to this certain brook, where water will continue to flow and God tells Elijah “I have commanded to ravens to feed you THERE.”
Now there’s something I want you to notice here. God sent provision for Elijah to the place God told Elijah to be, even before God told him to go there. So now let’s imagine that Elijah went somewhere else. Well, the Ravens would have been dropping food where Elijah wasn’t. And so God’s provision for Elijah was predicated on Elijah being in the right place.
Maybe you’re wondering why God hasn’t provided for you, and the issue is not about God not providing, it’s about you not being in the place he sent the provision to.
In Acts 27, we the Apostle Paul on a ship as a prisoner. And they encounter a terrible storm. And everyone aboard is fearing for their life. And an angel appears to Paul at night at instructs him that no one is to leave the boat, and as long as they stay in the boat, no one will lose their life, only the ship will be destroyed. Awhile later some men drop a lifeboat down to get off the ship and Paul says “If any of you leave this boat, you cannot be saved. But if you STAY on the boat, not one of you will lose a single hair from their head.” - So they all stay on the boat and everyone survives.
So again, notice that God is providing protection to a place - THE BOAT. And if you were to leave the boat you cannot be saved. So God’s protection was predicated on them staying where God told them to stay.
So with Elijah, it's about going where God told him to go, but with Paul it's about staying where God told them to stay.
It’s the principle of the place.
And I came here today to tell somebody, by the authority of God words, that you have been instructed to not leave the house. The Christian community.
And the question that I hope to illuminate for you on this first week of this series is: Why? Why should I not leave the house?
Now there's a lot of different ways I could answer that question, but today, I want to answer that question with this simple statement: Because The Master Needs You
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. (Luke 19:28)
As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, (Luke 19:29)
“Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. (Luke 19:30)
If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” (Luke 19:31)
We’re used to hearing that we need God. And that is certainly true. Paul says “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Many of us would say “I would not be here today if was not for the mercy and grace of God. The fact that I am still here is miracle. The fact that my family is here is a miracle. The fact that I’m still married is a miracle. The fact that I have children is a miracle. I needed God and need God.
Mentally Not just spiritually, we need him mentally. When our mind becomes obsessed with complexities and issues that we don’t know how to solve. We need his wisdom.
So there is absolutely no question that we need God. But what I am saying to you is that the scripture teaches us something surprising:
The God who needs nothing from no one DECIDED that he needed you. CHOSE to need us.
God can do whatever he wants. So he can accomplish his purposes in the world and in our city any way he wants to, but he CHOSE to use you. God said “I’m gonna use people to help people.”
Therefore you presence on this planet has purpose. You are not an accident. Your parents might have been surprised by your arrival but God wasn’t.
God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in your mother womb, I knew you.” Your parents made you, but I formed you.
The master has need of you.
“Ok Pastor David, now slow down. You say you’re a bible teacher, and you read us 4 verses about a donkey. How can you say the master has need of me just because he happened to need this particular donkey? Jesus didn’t say that about me. I don’t see myself in that story.” Oh you’re in that story. “No I’m not in that story. I see Jesus, I see the 12 disciples, I see a donkey, but I’m not in that story.” Oh yes you are. “Pastor David you better not say what I think you’re about to say.” Well let’s think about it like this: We can be sure that you’re not Jesus. REAL sure. And we can be sure you’re not 1 of the 12 disciples. You’re A disciple, but you’re not one of the 12 disciples. So there’s only one other character in the story that we can be! THE DONKEY! YOU are the donkey in this story. “This preacher is calling me an animal, I’m about to get up and walk out of here.” No please don’t. Hear me out.
All throughout the bible, the biblical authors use animals to describe human personality traits. For example:
In the book of Matthew we see Jesus was sending his disciples out to do missionary ministry. He says to them “I’m sending you out as sheep among wolves.” He’s not calling them sheep to insult them, he’s calling them sheep to compliment them. He’s calling them pure and instructable. And you’re gonna go out among wolves, people that are impure, and devour each other.
Paul tells the Christians in Corinth “Don’t be unequally yoked.” - Now he’s not specifically talking about dating relationships, although it certainly applies to dating relationships. What he’s talking about when he says to not be unequally yoked, is putting 2 animals that are different on either side of a yoke - which is like a 2 sided harness meant for pulling. And Paul is saying ”If you have a yoke and on one side you have an ox and on the other side you have a chicken, that’s not gonna work for either animal.”
Ok, so back to our donkey. Donkeys in scripture are sometimes used as a metaphor for the part of the human personality that can be fleshly.
Often when the bible talks about the flesh, it's not talking about our physical bodies, it's talking about the rebellious, unregenerate part of us. The part of us that wants to do our own thing, go our own way, that doesn't want to submit to what God said or what God wants. The part of us that wants to use God to accomplish our plans instead of using our lives to accomplish his plans.
Genesis 22 When God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the text says that Abraham got up, saddled his donkey, and then went to sacrifice Isaac. Because you cannot meaningfully sacrifice to God until you saddle the flesh. Did you hear that? You cannot offer to God what you need to offer to God until you saddle the flesh. Because the flesh wants to keep what the spirit wants to sacrifice. You're gonna have to saddle the donkey. The master needs you, but he won't be able to use you unless you saddle the donkey. Unless you saddle the flesh.
The text says that Jesus is ready to go into Jerusalem, and watch this, he’s been walking everywhere else. Jesus is perfectly capable to walking. But now all of a sudden he decides “I want a ride.”
So this is what he does, he sends his disciples and he goes “I want you to go to a specific place and a colt will be there.” - Now a colt in a teenage donkey. This is a donkey that’s never been ridden. Meaning it’s not tame. It’s not broke in. “But once I get a hold of it, it’s gonna do what I called it to do.”
And I want to know if there’s anybody in there that would say “Yeah I was a little wild, a was a little rambunctious, I was a little rebellious, I was a colt that had never been ridden. I was out of control. I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. But JESUS found me where I was, and said “No, no, no. I need you.”
Jesus, you don’t want a horse? Kings ride horses. Horses are tame. “A use donkeys. I use the imperfect.”
Peter I use temperamental Peter. Who is getting a revelation of God one moment and chopping off peoples ears the next. Professing his love for me one moment, and denying me the next. - I use donkeys.
James & John I use overly zealous James and John, who are arguing about who’s the best.” - I use donkeys.
Doubting Thomas I use doubting Thomas. Who believes one moment and doubts the next.
Watch this: Jesus says “I want to use donkeys to carry me somewhere I want to go.” See some places Jesus is gonna get to, because you’re gonna carry him there.
Bold See because donkeys aren’t just stubborn, they’re also bold. And that’s why he’s gonna use some of you in amazing ways, because before redemption you were stubborn, but now you’re not stubborn, but you are bold. “Oh man, I’m so strong willed, why would God ever want to use me?” - “Because you’re strong willed. Because once I give you my word, no one will be able to talk you out of it. Because you’re gonna not gonna fall over when things get hard. You’re gonna push through and push past the pain.”
Jesus says “If anybody asks you “What are you doing? What purpose could you possibly have with a wild donkey? Do you know what they used to do? I went to school with that guy, do you know what he used to do?” If they ask you, tell them “The master has need of them.” In other words, just because they don’t know how to use you themselves, doesn’t mean you’re not usable. Because when I made you, I made you with something in mind, and I’m calling you to myself, because I need you.”
So Jesus tells the disciples to get the donkey, but what’s interesting is the donkey is tied up.
He says “Untie the donkey. - You’ll need to untie the donkey for the donkey to have the ability to take me to where I want to go. See, the rope restricts the donkeys movement. The donkey can move in a small little area, but I have chosen this donkey to move in a big area. And that’s not gonna happen until the donkey gets untied.”
Where is it that God wants to take you, because you will be taking him? Some places God wants to take you, because he wants you to take him. But what places can God not take you because of a rope you’re holding on to.
In the text, the rope was holding onto the donkey, but in life we hold on to the rope. See, God’s grace doesn’t just enable you to hold on to what you need to hold on to, it also lets you let go of what you need to let go of.
I have 3 things for you that you’ll need to let go of if you want to be used by God.
It says in Proverbs 16 that pride comes before a fall. So the fall comes after the pride. So there’s a season where you can be proud but still standing. But not for long.
We live in a society of EXTREME overconfidence. Everyone is POSITIVE they're right. Just look on facebook. People don't have to be educated to be positive.
God Resists Arrogant Pastor James teaches us in James 4 that:
God resists the arrogant, but gives grace to the humble.
I feel like that's pretty strong language. Of all the stupid things I could do, and I could do a lot of them, it certainly appears that being arrogant, being proud is a bad choice.
Now when the Bible talks about pride, it’s not talking about a healthy self-image. I believe God wants you to have a healthy self-image. It’s not talking about that. No, in scripture, the sin of pride is having an inflated sense of your own character and contribution. In other words, you think you’re better than you really are, and you think you bring more than you really do.
Now this certainly applies to serving in church. It’s not limited to that, but it certainly includes it.
Because pride is destructive to a person, but pride is also destructive to a community. And pride is, now watch this, especially destructive in church. Why? Because it is the antithesis of the servant-leadership that Jesus teaches and models.
So this attitude of “That’s beneath me.” Must never be present in a Christ centered community. Jesus never said that even though dying for you was certainly beneath him.
So what’s the solution? It’s to do everything as worship unto God.
And worshipping God will never be beneath me.
It says in scripture that Jesus humbled himself. And so we, as followers of Jesus humble ourselves as we follow after him.
If you want to be used by God, you MUST let go of your pride.
In Luke 9, we see Jesus get rejected by the samaritans. And so the disciples say “Do you want us to call fire down from heaven to consume them.” - Which sounds ridiculous to our modern ears, but at the time, this seemed like a perfectly good, spiritual thing to say. But Jesus said “You don’t know what spirit you are of.” He’s saying “you’re saying spiritual stuff with a demonic attitude.”
Years ago I taught a message where I put a dead fish in my back pocket and went around the room complaining how everything stinks. Oh something stunk. But it was me. See that’s what a bad attitude does. It makes you stink. And even if you can’t smell you, we can smell you. I want you to know, that if you want to be used by God, you need to get rid of that smell.
What’s wrong is always available. Any imbecile can point out what’s wrong. It takes the Spirit of God to see under the surface. To see life and potential and hope in imperfect situations, imperfect churches, imperfect pastors, and imperfect people.
If you want to be used by God, you MUST get rid of your bad attitude.
Our culture is obsessed with self.
Selfies Back when I was a teenager, I got my first camera. It wasn’t a camera phone, it was just a camera. And we had to put this weird stuff in it called film. Does anyone remember film? How hysterical. And man, you open up the back before it's ready? Your pictures are ruined. And I would go out and I would take photos of things and people that I liked. Now, every kid you see has a camera in their pocket, and you know what they take pictures of all day? THEMSELVES. Back in the day, if you wanted a photo of yourself, you’d have to go ask someone, “Hi, would you mind taking a photo of me and my friend?”. Now kids just spend all day taking photos of themselves. And they have whole websites dedicated to pictures of themselves. Here’s me at McDonalds, here’s me at the park, here’s me at the mall.
Deny yourself Did you know that Jesus said “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself?” Pastor, what does deny mean? It means to say no to. Sometimes you have to say no to yourself. If you want to be used by God, you’re gonna have to be able to say no to yourself sometimes. Sometimes you’re gonna have to say no to your feelings.
See here’s one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. If you put yourself first, you’ll always be wanting. But if you put God’s kingdom first, you will always be cared for.
The master has need of you.
Ok is it alright if I talk turkey with you for a minute. The master has need of you, and you know what? We need you.
Now I don’t just mean this church, I mean the church of Jesus Christ, we need you.
Over the last 18 months, the American church (now I’m sure this is true in other parts of the world, but I’ll just speak for us in the U.S.) has suffered what is most likely the most dramatic decline in the history of our nation.
I’ve spoken with many pastors who have been in ministry much longer than I have, and almost without exception when asked about the pandemic and 2020 and 2021 they will say “In 40 years of ministry, I’ve never seen anything hit the church like this.”
It’s estimated that 25% of churches in America could close their doors permanently. This would equal approximately 100,000 churches.
Now some of you might be thinking “Well that’s the governments fault.” - Look the government certainly didn’t HELP us, but let’s be honest, when have we ever expected them to? No the issue for the vast majority of churches in the US is not that people can’t come, it’s that they’re choosing not to.
Now I just want to say, that for me, I’m not speaking for Pastor Marshall or Cindi, or anybody else, but what has surprised me is the inability for Christian people to properly prioritize. What do I mean? I’m sure I’ll get in trouble for this. Covid is bad, but sin is worse. And we’re all infected, and it’s gonna kill all of us. And the only solution is Jesus. So we can’t shrink away from our unique contribution to the world. There’s plenty of other places to get a bag of food, and there’s plenty of other places to get childcare, but the church is uniquely called by God to bring the solution to the greatest problem in the world, and that’s sin. So look, I don’t want to get Covid, I personally don’t. Maybe you do for some reason, that’s fine, I personally don’t. But I’m not gonna let that stop me from doing what I’m here to do as a disciple of Jesus, and that’s to introduce people to Jesus. So look, wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, get your measuring tape out and measure 6 feet of distance between you and other people, that’s your conviction, but we must not let that stop us from being the church. This is our time to advance the church.
The master needs you. God has put specific giftings and callings into you, and I know I’m speaking to somebody today, and he’s saying to you, “I need that.” That has laid dormant long enough. That gifting, that ability that I put in you, I’m gonna need you to give that back. I gave it to you so you could give it back to me. The master needs you.
As so as we close we wanted to celebrate and pray for our membership graduates from this last semester. And to help me with that, I want to invite Pastors Marshall and Cindi to come up with me.