SERIES: The Word for Your Journey
TITLE: Christ is Sufficient
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
It was the 2009 movie Julie and Julia that turned a 1961 book into a bestseller. Apparently people left the theater and heading to their nearest bookstore to buy Julia Child’s classic: “The Art of French Cooking”.
It doesn’t usually happen that a movie makes the book a bestseller but a whole new generation is discovering Julia Child’s classic, “The Art of French Cooking.” Shortly after the movie Julie and Julia came out, the book hit # 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. And for the past few years, a lot of dinner parties are featuring gourmet French dishes. I thought the fad would blower, but French cooking is still showing up French cooking is labor intensive and it can leave you feeling like Martha in the Bible. Welcome to HT, I’m CM sharing the GS that’s all about Jesus and a program about a dinner party, but a special one with Jesus present. We’re calling this program “Christ is Sufficient”.
Need 3:30 Total
OPEN The Solid Rock by Avalon
Christ IS the solid rock and all other ground IS sinking sand. I think that’s the real message of the story of Martha and Mary. Most of us know the story that Luke tells about a dinner party at Martha’s house:
Luke 10:38-42 “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
That story has hurt the feelings of many hard-working hostesses. I bought my wife, Janet, a vintage two-volume edition of Martha Stewart’s “The Art of French Cooking” a few years back. It’s amazing how many hours you have to spend in the kitchen to prepare a gourmet special-occasion meal from those recipes. And it’s pretty important when you sit down to one of those meals to make sure your wife know how much you appreciate it.
If you think about Martha and Mary’s story from that point of view it doesn’t seem fair to poor Martha. But I think Jesus is making a much more profound point here – one that’s really good news. I think he’s contrasting a way of life where we’re struggling to provide everything on our own and in our own strength to a way of life where we’re looking to Jesus to provide everything we need.
It’s not about busyness versus taking it easy. It’s when we’re the busiest that we need to look to Jesus the most – to sustain us and supply us. Jesus is counseling us in this story to look to him as our sufficiency. It’s a story about resting – not being inactive -- but resting even when we’re active. It’s about doing life looking to Jesus as our all in all and knowing that it’s not up to us to provide many things for Jesus. It’s up to Jesus to provide many things for us.
Apart from him we can do nothing. And yet we try. We deplete our meager internal resources trying to live life on our own, thinking we have to supply all the necessary things. And it wears us out. It weighs us down. The Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient: He is sufficient for our salvation, He is sufficient for our life and He is sufficient for our service.
Do you now what I mean by sufficient” I mean he has everything we need – we can receive it all from him.
He is sufficient for our Salvation.
Jesus plus nothing. That’s the formula that equals salvation. As soon as you add something to Jesus you’ve moved away from the glorious free salvation God is offering us in Jesus. Every religion in the world says, “Here’s what you have to do for God.” But the living God has sent his Son to us and said, “Here’s what I have done for you.”
The humbling part of that good news is that we can’t do anything. We have nothing to bring. As the Bible puts it, “All our righteous acts are filthy rags.” So we need to stop all the Martha-like busyness of trying to provide something, we need to stop looking to ourselves to see if we’re doing it right, we need to let go of the regret and guilt of how persistently we fail, and we need look to Jesus – we need to take a long look and see the sufficiency of what God has provided for us in Him.
Romans 5:6-11 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
The apostle Paul wrote those words. He’d been Pharisee and his struggle had been to make himself absolutely acceptable to God. He was zealous for God. He was zealous for the law of God and for keeping it perfectly. And then he met Jesus. And meeting Jesus has the effect of stripping away all our the rightness we imagine we have. Meeting Jesus has a way of showing us who we really are.
And it’s just at that point – where we’re stripped bare -- that the incredibly good news can pour into our hearts – while we were still sinners Christ died for us. While we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son. His blood justifies us – it removes all our sins and gives us a new status – we’re declared righteous in the sight of God. Absolutely apart from anything in ourselves – absolutely on the basis of what Jesus has done. We just have to receive it. And rest in it. And rejoice in it.
If you’re not a believer, I invite you to take it! It’s salvation. God’s not just offering; he’s urging you to take it.
2Corinthians 5:20 “We a therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
And if you’re a believer, take it! Make it your starting point every day:
Colossians 1:22 “He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
Christ is sufficient for our salvation and
He’s sufficient for our life.
I think a lot of us, myself included, completely understand that we’re meant to look to Jesus for everything when it comes to our salvation. But what we don’t understand is that we’re meant to look to Jesus for everything when it comes to living our life for God. It’s after we’re saved that we start living like Martha, trying to fix dinner for Jesus. We don’t understand that Jesus wants to fix dinner for us.
(good place for the second song: He’s always been faithful)
Jesus is spreading a banquet and he wants us to come out of the kitchen and sit down and eat. He’s always faithful to supply us with everything. And we can only live for him when we live in him and through him. This is how Peter puts it:
2Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
Peter is saying something wonderful. We don’t have to produce what we need. We don’t have to do life on our own struggling to get it right. We can look to Jesus. Jesus is everything we need. In him we have everything we need for life and godliness. It comes to us through the divine power of God. He’s given us great and precious promises – promises of a continual supply of his own nature at work in us.
We can come to him in all our insufficiency, in all our weakness, and in all our emptiness and ask him for what we need. I’m talking about things like faith and hope and love, for strength to overcome sin, for wisdom, for help with anything. We can depend on him for everything we attempt to do as believers – parent and pray and worship and witness and do our jobs for his glory. We can’t do those things on our own in our own strength. We do them in fellowship with Jesus, and he supplies us with his life. We can ask him and he will give us what we need.
Jesus means for us to look away from ourselves. To stop living life on our own, slaving away in the kitchen, trying to supply everything ourselves. He wants us to come to him and receive from him.
There are two things that stop us from doing that.
One is when we can’t really believe it. Can grace be that good? And the answer to that is, “yes --- grace is that good.” You can know yourself to be entirely insufficient, you can feel the darkness of your own sin, and you can come to Jesus. He will give you his life.
But the other thing that stops us is when we don’t have a sense of need. We feel pretty good about how we’re functioning on our own. But it’s at exactly that point that we need him the most.
In Revelation, when Jesus was talking to the church in Laodicea, he addressed this issue:
Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
It’s just always true that when we’re congratulating ourselves on how good we are, when we’re feeling a little superior, that’s when we’re at our worst. We’re “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” It’s when we know we need Jesus that we’re at our best.
I love the beautiful solution Jesus offers in Revelation 3:18-20
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Jesus is telling us to stop living life on our own. He is eager to come in and sit down at the table with us. He will give us everything we need and abide with us and light up our life with his presence.
He says, “I counsel you to buy from me”. How do we “buy” anything from Jesus? That doesn’t sound like grace. I think Isaiah 55:1 has the answer: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
It’s just one of those paradoxes of grace – you “buy” what you need when you realize have nothing to buy it with. You offer your absolute poverty and Jesus says, “That’s the price.” And then he pours out grace.”
He is sufficient for our service.
Knowing our absolute poverty is a very good thing to know. When God called Jeremiah he said, (Jeremiah 1:6 )“Ah, Sovereign LORD, I don’t know how to speak; I’m only a child.” It takes some us a long to learn what Jeremiah knew up front. I can’t do it. And it’s at that point that God says what he said to Jeremiah, “Don’t say that, I am with you.” God is with us. We can look to Jesus and know that his sufficiency is our sufficiency.
Paul consistently operated out of this understanding when it came to ministry:
2Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Colossians 1:29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
2Corinthians 2:14-16 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?”
Who is equal to such a task? Paul was asking a rhetorical question – the answer is nobody and Paul knows it true of himself. But even so, we can offer our service to the Lord and know that through it he will do wonderful things – he will spread around the fragrance of Christ.
Octavius Winslow was the eighth child in a family of 10 children. His father died when he was 7 years old. They were often in extreme need but he saw his mother look to Lord and again and again he saw the Lord provide.
When he grew up, he applied those lessons of poverty and supply to his ministry. You can hear how deeply they were ingrained in him in what he writes:
“Do not be afraid... for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD.”
This “thus says the Lord” is enough to calm every fear, to meet every objection, and to give a timid servant of the Lord the strength of a giant and the courage of a martyr.
“’I am with you,’ says the Lord.” You may avoid the call of God because you feel personally unfit; you may argue that you lack education, or the wisdom of age, or the ability of a speaker. “Lord, I don’t know how to speak, or how to act, because I am like a child in my knowledge, experience, and strength.”
Listen to the Word of the Lord: “Fear not, I am with you.” Enough excuses! O my Lord, touch my mouth with your hand like you did for your servant Jeremiah. Fill my mouth with heavenly grace. Let me speak a word for you and for Christ and for truth with power and wisdom higher and holier than my own.”
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