Participants: Mark Finley
Series Code: 15GYC
Program Code: 15GYC000012A
04:05 Amen. Have you been blessed so far this weekend GYC?
04:11 I know I have been richly blessed.
04:15 And it's such an incredible thing to realize that the
04:18 weekend is almost over, isn't it?
04:20 But as we come this morning it's my privilege also to introduce
04:25 to you our speaker again, Taj Pacleb.
04:28 I don't know, how many have been blessed by his messages? Amen.
04:32 And as I was talking to him backstage here before
04:35 the meeting, I was asking him, You know, is there anything
04:40 you'd like me to say?
04:41 And he said, You know, I just want to be known
04:44 as a beggar trying to share bread.
04:46 And I think that's a beautiful testimony of this man of God,
04:51 and what he has to share with us as he talks more about the life
04:54 of John the Baptist.
04:55 And so I just want to have a prayer for him as he prepares
05:00 to share with us this morning.
05:01 Please kneel with me where possible.
05:07 Father in Heaven, I thank You so much for all Your blessings,
05:12 that You have poured out.
05:13 I thank You for the privilege that we have had to
05:16 gather here this weekend.
05:17 And as it is drawing to a close, I pray that You will help us not
05:20 to lose our attention, but to have ears open, and hearts soft
05:27 to hear the messages that You have to speak
05:28 through Taj this morning.
05:30 I pray that You would help us to be convicted of the things
05:33 that You have placed on his heart to share with us.
05:36 And I pray that You will touch his lips with Your words,
05:40 that he may not speak his own, but he may speak
05:44 what You have given him, Father.
05:45 And I thank You so much for the privilege that we have
05:48 to commune with You.
05:49 In Jesus' name, Amen.
06:13 He called me long ago, but I didn't want to answer Him.
06:22 I told Him, Lord, I'm not the perfect soul.
06:28 I said, My Lord, do You see me?
06:33 You can choose from other men.
06:37 But He took my hand, and this is what He said.
06:44 You will be My fishers of men.
06:48 You will be My healer of souls.
06:52 And you will take the word to all the corners of this world.
07:00 You will be My cloak unto the poor.
07:04 You will be My peace amidst the storm.
07:10 Don't worry, I am with you till the end.
07:30 I traveled all the world, and I shared
07:35 the word of love with them.
07:37 I told them grace is offered to them now.
07:45 I told them Jesus came to love us, and He died to save
07:51 the world from sin.
07:53 And as we prayed the Lord came down and said,
08:00 You will be My fishers of men.
08:04 You will be My healer of souls.
08:08 And you will take the Word to all the corners of this world.
08:15 You will be My cloak unto the poor.
08:19 You will be My peace amidst the storm.
08:25 And don't worry, I am with you till the end.
08:31 Everyday they reached for home.
08:33 They're striving for the fruits of love.
08:37 So won't you open up your heart?
08:40 And be the fire from the storm.
08:49 And you will be My fishers of men.
08:53 And you will be My healer of souls.
08:57 And you will take the Word to all the corners of this world.
09:04 You will be my cloak to the poor.
09:08 You will be My peace amidst the storm.
09:14 And don't worry, I am with you till the end.
09:26 So go and be My fishers of men.
09:51 Amen, Amen. Thank you so much brothers
09:54 for that wonderful song.
09:55 Good morning family. Good morning.
09:58 I want to welcome you to our early morning devotion.
10:02 And that was a beautiful song that we just listened to,
10:05 how God is calling us to be fishers of men.
10:08 That's what I want to be. How about you?
10:10 You know what the difference is between a fisherman
10:13 and a fisher of men?
10:14 A fisherman catches fish that are alive and puts them
10:18 to death, but a fisher of men catches fish that are dead
10:22 and brings them back to life, Amen?
10:24 God has called us to share life with the world
10:28 that is dying in sin.
10:30 What a great privilege.
10:32 Before we pray and get into our message this morning,
10:35 I just want to say it's been a wonderful joy,
10:36 and a great privilege sharing this time with you each morning,
10:40 and for all the people that I got the chance to meet with,
10:44 and fellowship with.
10:45 It's been a wonderful blessing.
10:47 And I pray that as we get ready to part ways this morning,
10:50 that by God's grace, if we never see each other again,
10:53 we'll meet each other in God's eternal kingdom, Amen?
10:56 That we might be with the Lamb on that sea of glass,
10:59 singing that song of victory, of our deliverance from this
11:04 world into God's eternal kingdom.
11:06 We're almost there, friends.
11:07 And so lets move forward by God's grace,
11:10 and lets finish with a bang, Amen?
11:12 I invite you to bow your heads as we pray this morning.
11:16 Father in Heaven, thank You, Lord, so much for the rich
11:21 experience we've had this weekend.
11:23 And how You've given us this opportunity to press together
11:27 with each other, to get to know You better, to learn how we can
11:33 be faithful in these last days, as You have always
11:38 been faithful to us.
11:40 And now, Lord, as we turn to Your Word, we pray that our
11:43 hearts and minds will be open, and receptive.
11:46 Give us ears to hear Your voice, and a heart to know Your heart,
11:52 and a resolute determination to do not our will, but Your will.
11:59 Please speak to us now is our humble prayer.
12:02 In Christ's name we ask, Amen. Amen.
12:06 This morning we're going to continue our study from
12:09 yesterday, as we've been discussing the final
12:13 forerunners of the last day.
12:15 As I want to begin by sharing, and beginning with the verse
12:19 that we actually read yesterday, and so I invite you to take your
12:21 Bible and turn to the book of Mark 1.
12:24 Mark 1, beginning with verse 1, the Bible says this:
12:31 Mark 1:1, it says: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
12:36 the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets,
12:40 Behold I send my messenger before your face,
12:44 who will prepare your way before you.
12:47 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of
12:53 the Lord, and make His paths straight.
12:58 Yesterday we talked about what it means to be great
13:01 in the sight of the Lord.
13:03 And we saw that spiritual greatness was illustrated and
13:07 seen in the life of the first forerunner of the Lord,
13:11 John the Baptist. And we learned yesterday that he was great
13:17 1. Because of what he said and thought about himself.
13:21 Now he didn't say much about himself, but what he did say
13:25 about himself shows us three specific things
13:29 that makes us great.
13:30 And do you remember that?
13:31 Let's review. 1. John the Baptist was
13:34 confident in his identity.
13:38 2. He was secure in his simplicity, and
13:43 3. He was genuine in his humility.
13:47 That's what John said and thought about himself.
13:51 This was the content of the character of John.
13:55 Now his mission, as we read here, was to simply prepare
13:59 the way of the Lord, and make His paths straight.
14:03 You see friends, in ancient times, when a king prepared
14:07 for a journey to a specific destination,
14:10 he would send four runners ahead of his royal chariot,
14:13 and their mission was very simple.
14:15 Their mission was to clear the king's highway,
14:18 to prepare the way for the coming of the king.
14:21 And these forerunners were commissioned to level the steep
14:25 places of the highway, to fill in the potholes,
14:27 and remove all the stones, and the obstacles so that the king
14:31 could have an easy, and smooth travel to the specific
14:35 destination that he was heading without any hindrances.
14:38 And this is what the forerunner would do to prepare the way
14:43 of the Lord, to make His paths straight, to prepare people
14:46 for the coming of the king.
14:48 That was the purpose, and the mission of John the Baptist,
14:51 and so it is ours today.
14:53 Because that same King Jesus that came the first time,
14:57 is coming back the second time.
14:59 And in these last days He's looking not only for one,
15:02 but a whole generation of forerunners to prepare the world
15:06 for the return of King Jesus.
15:08 And it's simply by giving the message.
15:11 It's not us that prepares anyone, but it's the message
15:14 that God is wanting to speak in and through us that will prepare
15:17 a people for the coming of Christ.
15:19 This is what John was called and chosen to do.
15:23 He was not an alarmist.
15:24 He was not a sensationalist, or an extremist.
15:27 He was a revivalist.
15:29 This high and holy purpose is what he lived for.
15:32 You see, John the Baptist understood that it wasn't about
15:35 himself, but it was about the One that was coming after him,
15:38 and he knew his role.
15:40 His role was that he was not the king, he was simply the one
15:44 that was called, and chosen, to prepare the way for the king.
15:48 John simply looked upon himself as a voice of one
15:53 crying in the wilderness.
15:54 And he was great in the sight of the Lord because he was small
15:58 in the sight of himself.
16:01 But friends, it really doesn't matter what we think,
16:05 or say about ourselves, but rather what we think,
16:09 and say about Jesus. Amen?
16:11 And more so what Jesus thinks, and says about us.
16:16 And so this morning I want to highlight the second and third
16:21 reason why John the Baptist was so great
16:23 in the sight of the Lord.
16:24 Yesterday we talked about the first reason, and that was what
16:26 he thought about himself.
16:28 Today we'll discuss the second and third reason,
16:30 which are what John said about Jesus, and
16:33 3. What Jesus said about John.
16:36 The Bible tells us in the book of John 10:41 that, John did no
16:41 miracle: but all things that John spoke of Jesus were true.
16:46 You see, John was not miraculous,
16:49 but rather the beautiful words he spoke about Christ were true.
16:53 And so the question I want to ask is,
16:54 What did John say about Jesus?
16:57 What was the message that he gave to the world
17:00 concerning the Messiah?
17:01 Take your Bible and turn with me to the book of John,
17:03 and we're going to go to the first chapter,
17:06 and we're going to see friends that John said many things
17:08 about Jesus, many wonderful things, but there are two that I
17:11 want to share with you this morning.
17:13 So we're going to John.
17:15 What chapter did I say? John 1.
17:18 And notice what it says in verse 29; a very familiar verse.
17:22 John 1:29. The Bible says, The next day John what?
17:31 saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,
17:36 Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
17:42 One of the first things that John said about Jesus when
17:47 he saw Jesus, He said, Behold the Lamb.
17:50 He has come to take away the sin of the world.
17:53 Now, friends, in this passage there's a lot of deep,
17:56 beautiful theology.
17:57 But one beautiful, practical point we can gain from this is
18:02 that John saw Jesus first, and then he called others
18:06 to look for themselves.
18:08 You see, friends, in order for us to point out Jesus,
18:12 and speak accurately concerning Him, we have to see Him first.
18:17 We have to see Jesus with our eyes first before we can
18:22 proclaim Him with our lips second.
18:25 We must see Him with the eye of faith before we can proclaim Him
18:29 with the words of faith.
18:31 And that's what John did in this passage.
18:34 And one thing clear that John said about Jesus is that He is
18:37 the Lamb coming to remove sin; to take away
18:40 the sin of the world.
18:41 And, friends, this salvific statement is founded upon the
18:45 theology of the sanctuary.
18:47 You see, we cannot fully understand the complete holistic
18:51 salvation of Christ without understanding Christ's work
18:55 in the sanctuary, in the outer court, the holy place,
18:58 and the most holy place.
19:00 You see, Jesus is not just the Lamb that died for us in the
19:04 outer court, but He's also our great high priest that ever
19:08 lives to intercede for us in the holy, and most holy place.
19:12 You see, the Lamb had to die in the outer court,
19:14 but it's blood had to be applied in the holy and most holy place.
19:20 And that understanding helps us to see what it means when it
19:25 talks about the Lamb taking away the sin.
19:28 It's because He died in the outer court,
19:29 and He blots it out.
19:32 He removes it. He takes it away in the most holy place
19:35 in the investigative judgment.
19:37 And John saw Jesus as the fulfillment
19:40 of that sanctuary message.
19:41 Jesus was the reality of which that shadowy type would point
19:46 to, and so that's one of the first things I want to share
19:49 with you of what John said about Jesus.
19:52 He is the Lamb that removes sin; a statement that is founded upon
19:56 the theology of the sanctuary.
19:59 Now notice something else John said about Jesus,
20:01 as we go to chapter 3, and verse 29. Notice John 3:29.
20:08 Here's what John says, and it's interesting.
20:12 He describes the Messiah in the context of marriage.
20:16 John 3:29, John said, But he who has the bride is the bridegroom:
20:23 but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and
20:27 hears him, rejoices greatly because of the
20:30 bridegroom's what? voice.
20:32 Therefore my joy is fulfilled.
20:36 Very interesting statement.
20:38 Here John describes the Messiah in the context of marriage.
20:42 Who's the bride in this passage?
20:46 It's none other than the church, right?
20:48 The Bible, the bride of Christ, is a symbol of
20:51 His people of the church.
20:52 You can write down Ephesians 5: 25, 2 Corinthians 11:2,
20:56 Jeremiah 6:2, and many other passages.
20:59 The bride, or the woman, represents the church.
21:01 If the church is the bride, who is the bridegroom?
21:04 It's Christ. He is our heavenly husband.
21:07 We are His earthly bride.
21:09 And then, who is the third character that John mentioned
21:13 here? the friend of the bridegroom that John
21:15 himself claimed to be.
21:17 The friend of the bridegroom was basically the best man in the
21:20 wedding; the one that was the closest to the bridegroom.
21:24 And the responsibility of the best man, the friend of the
21:27 bridegroom, was that he was responsible of making
21:30 arrangements for the wedding.
21:32 His goal was to do all that he could to relieve the stress
21:37 and anxiety of the bridegroom.
21:39 His role, he was to be the middle man of communication
21:43 between the groom and the bride.
21:45 He was the messenger between the betrothed parties
21:48 preparing for the wedding.
21:50 And when the bridegroom finally received the bride,
21:53 face to face, the mission of the friend of the
21:56 bridegroom was fulfilled.
21:58 And so that best man, when he sees the groom and the bride
22:02 coming together, face-to-face,
22:04 his mission is accomplished, and now he rejoices in the
22:08 happiness of the union that he had promoted.
22:11 And that was the role of John the Baptist.
22:13 He wasn't just a part of the bride of Christ, the church,
22:15 but he was also the friend of the bridegroom,
22:18 the best man in the wedding, and thus he said that his
22:21 joy was fulfilled.
22:22 And that's how our joy is fulfilled as well.
22:24 Just by hearing the bridegroom's voice, and the joy He has
22:29 once He's reunited with his church.
22:32 Our joy, friends, our joy is fulfilled not in the recognition
22:37 of the rulers, nor in the praises of the people,
22:41 but only that we can play a part in preparing the union
22:45 of the bride and the bridegroom.
22:48 Friends, how many of you want to be a part
22:49 of the bride of Christ?
22:50 And even more than that, how many of you want to be a friend
22:53 of the bridegroom? Amen?
22:56 And that's a wonderful, and beautiful picture that John
22:59 painted concerning Jesus.
23:01 Now I want us to notice, in the two passages we just read,
23:05 we see that John called Jesus the Lamb, and he also called
23:10 Jesus the bridegroom.
23:12 There are two pictures that John painted
23:14 concerning the Messiah.
23:16 One is more theological, and the other is more practical.
23:20 One is more doctrinal, the other is more relational.
23:24 The more theological and doctrinal picture that John
23:28 painted was that of the Lamb.
23:30 The relational, and the practical
23:34 is that of the bridegroom.
23:36 And so we see that John the Baptist gave a complete,
23:40 and balanced picture of the Messiah.
23:43 He's not just the theological Lamb, but he's also the
23:46 relational bridegroom that is married to us.
23:49 That was the message of the first forerunner, so it will be
23:53 the message of the final forerunners.
23:55 This is what John said about Jesus.
23:57 And friends what we say about Jesus to the world must be
24:00 clear, it must be complete, and it must be balanced. Amen!
24:05 And here's the reason.
24:06 Today, friends, we are living during a crisis of theology.
24:13 Bad theology abounds in the Christian world today.
24:17 Because just like the Jews of old misinterpreted the
24:21 Scriptures, and thus misrepresented the character
24:24 of the Messiah to the world, so too, Christianity today has done
24:29 the exact same thing.
24:30 Heresies and half-truths are being spread far and wide
24:35 concerning the character of God.
24:36 The character of God is being miss-represented and maligned;
24:40 not just by the world, but even by the church.
24:42 And as a result, atheism, and unbelief have been the
24:46 reaction of the world.
24:47 As the Christian community is painting a tainted picture of
24:52 who God is, many people are reacting in unbelief.
24:56 Because of bad theology, an over-correction,
25:02 and an over-reaction has actually taken place in the
25:05 church to the point that we have emphasized orthodoxy
25:08 to the point that we have become Pharisees, to the point
25:12 that we would rather win an argument than win a soul.
25:15 We come across as critical, and judgmental, and harsh,
25:18 and mean, and lacking grace.
25:20 Remember friends, it's not just about what we say,
25:23 but how we say it, and when we say it.
25:28 What we're doing is this: we're emphasizing the rightness of
25:33 truth while missing the person of truth.
25:37 We are proclaiming the Word of God, but not painting a true
25:42 picture of the God of the Word, with one-sided preaching.
25:47 What we're doing is we're pointing to the theology
25:50 of the Lamb while we're not pointing to the
25:53 character of the bridegroom.
25:54 And this imbalanced emphasis has caused many people to
25:58 crash into the ditch of legalism, which is on the right
26:02 side of the narrow way of the Lord.
26:05 And as a result of this imbalanced emphasis,
26:10 people crashing into the ditch of legalism,
26:12 preaching the theology of the Lamb without pointing to the
26:15 character of the bridegroom, another reaction,
26:19 and over-correction has taken place on the other side.
26:22 People are crashing into the ditch of liberalism.
26:26 Legalism on the right, liberalism on the left.
26:29 Because, see, there's not only a crisis of theology in the
26:32 world, but there's also a crisis of relevancy.
26:36 We're trying to be relevant to the world
26:39 by trying to become like the world.
26:42 But in seeking to become like the world we are actually
26:46 becoming irrelevant to the world.
26:48 And here's the reason: If the church becomes post-modern
26:51 progressives like the world, she looses her relevance.
26:54 Because if you look like me, think like me, speak like me,
26:57 and live like me, than what's the difference?
27:00 You see, friends, we are relevant.
27:03 That which makes us relevant, I should say, is because we have
27:07 something different, and not only different,
27:09 but we have something better to offer to the world.
27:12 Can you say Amen? Amen!
27:14 So we can't try to be like the world to win the world.
27:18 We lose our relevance if we do that.
27:20 We are relevant because we have something different.
27:23 We have something better.
27:24 And the watchword of all true education is something better.
27:30 We have something better to offer than the world views
27:33 of the world today.
27:34 Well, friends this, what is being called progressive
27:38 Christianity is causing many people to downplay objective
27:43 doctrine, and to exalt and elevate a
27:47 subjective personal experience.
27:50 Many people in Christianity today are becoming more and more
27:54 focused on questions rather than the clear-cut answers
27:58 that God has given us in the world.
28:00 That's what the daughters of Babylon are doing.
28:03 They're saying it's not about doctrine.
28:05 Let's put aside all of those things.
28:08 It's an overreaction.
28:11 The same thing has been happening,
28:13 perhaps even among us.
28:15 It seems like ecumenism is emerging even among us.
28:21 It's an overreaction friends.
28:23 There are two ditches on either side of the narrow road of God's
28:26 way: legalism, and liberalism.
28:30 And that's why it's been said in the book, Last Day Events,
28:33 on page 179. Notice what it says:
28:47 Wow! Lord have mercy!
28:50 And that's the reason why I want to challenge, and encourage
28:53 all of us young people, that we must study
28:55 the Bible for ourselves.
28:57 Can you say Amen?
28:58 We can't take a man's word for it.
29:00 Just because it comes from an approved pulpit,
29:05 doesn't mean that it is true.
29:07 We must study to show ourselves approved unto God.
29:11 And in order to avoid the two ditches on either side of the
29:14 way of the Lord: the ditch of legalism, and the ditch of
29:17 liberalism, we must study for ourselves, and we must give
29:20 the complete, balanced, whole picture of Jesus;
29:24 not just a picture of Christ based upon a few Scriptures,
29:28 but of all the Word of God, because Jesus says that the
29:31 Scriptures testify of Him.
29:34 The revelation of Jesus Christ, the testimony of Jesus
29:37 is the spirit of prophecy, and that's not just one prophet
29:40 in the last days, it's God speaking through all the
29:43 prophets, from the beginning to the end.
29:45 And friends, that's what John came to do.
29:49 Based upon what he understood, he sought to give a complete
29:54 picture of who the Messiah was.
29:57 And in order to avoid the ditches, we must prepare
30:00 the way of the Lord.
30:02 You see, as we do this, true progressivism will be restored.
30:06 You see, friends, I want to share this with you.
30:08 What is called progressive Christianity today,
30:11 is not really taking us forward, but it's taking us backward.
30:14 It's actually taking us all the way back to the tree of the
30:18 knowledge of good and evil, when the serpent said to the
30:21 woman, Has God said?
30:25 He was causing her to doubt that which God had clearly said.
30:30 This is higher criticism.
30:32 This is the origin of higher criticism.
30:34 When the serpent said, You will not surely die.
30:37 In other words, God does not mean exactly what He says.
30:43 That's progressivism.
30:44 That's what is labeled as progressivism, but it's taken us
30:48 back to the Garden of Eden, and the tree of
30:50 knowledge of good and evil.
30:52 You see, what the serpent said there is, you know,
30:54 God is not telling the truth.
30:56 He doesn't mean exactly what He says.
30:57 If you eat of this fruit, you won't die,
31:00 but you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
31:02 Your eyes are going to be opened.
31:04 You're going to be enlightened.
31:05 In other words, it's all relative.
31:07 That's what the Devil will say.
31:08 It's all relative. You can be your own God.
31:12 You can make your own decisions.
31:13 You can make your own law, because truth is relative.
31:17 And you can continue to sin and still be like God,
31:20 and still be saved.
31:22 And this postmodern progressivism is saying
31:25 the exact same thing.
31:27 It's not really taking us forward,
31:28 it's taking us backward.
31:30 You see, my friends, to be truly progressive
31:32 we've got to move forward.
31:33 And in order to move forward, we have to have a
31:36 clear way in front of us.
31:38 And in order to have a clear way we, like John the Baptist,
31:42 have to prepare the way of the Lord.
31:46 Are you with me, yes or no?
31:49 And so what does it mean then to prepare the way of the Lord?
31:53 What does that mean?
31:54 Well, some of you already know the verse I'm going to next.
31:57 Where is God's way illustrated for us?
32:02 The way of salvation is found in Jesus.
32:06 Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.
32:08 But before Jesus came into the world,
32:10 where was that way illustrated?
32:12 Psalm 77 says, Thy way, O God, is where? in the sanctuary.
32:19 You see, when you look at the sanctuary, friends,
32:21 you actually see a path that leads from darkness into light.
32:26 A path that leads from the outer court, where the Lamb was slain,
32:32 all the way into the holy place, and into the most holy place,
32:36 where the bridegroom awaits us.
32:39 You see, the way of the Lord that needs to be prepared,
32:42 before Jesus can come, is that way that's illustrated in the
32:46 sanctuary; the true way of salvation; a straight path that
32:49 leads from the Lamb slain in the outer court,
32:51 to the groom that's waiting for us in the most holy place.
32:54 You see, that most holy place, if you study it,
32:56 it's the bedroom chamber of God.
32:59 It's the secret place of the Most High.
33:01 It's the place of ultimate intimacy.
33:03 It's the place where the bride and the groom become one
33:07 in atonement; at-one-ment.
33:11 You know the book, Song of Solomon?
33:13 That book describes the union of a husband and wife.
33:18 And did you know that the Jews, they called the Bible Holy?
33:23 But when it comes to the book, the Song of Solomon,
33:25 they called that book of the Bible the Holy of Holies.
33:30 The Song of Solomon, they say, is the most holy place.
33:33 It's when the bride and groom become one;
33:35 atonement, at-one-ment.
33:37 Here is where the marriage is consummated,
33:40 where the bride is sealed for all eternity.
33:43 This is where the sin of the world is taken away.
33:47 You see, friends, the ransom in the outer court, where the Lamb
33:50 was slain, is what prepares for the reunion of the bride,
33:55 and the bridegroom in the most holy place.
33:57 So to prepare the way of the Lord, is to restore the path
34:01 that leads all the way back to seeing our heavenly husband
34:05 face to face. Can you say Amen?
34:07 That's the path that the first forerunner came to prepare,
34:10 or to begin to make straight.
34:12 But it's that same path that the final forerunners will actually
34:16 finish in making straight.
34:18 And so remember, friends, it doesn't matter so much
34:20 what you say about yourself, but what you say about Jesus.
34:22 And what we say about Christ must be complete.
34:25 He's not just a lamb, He's also the groom.
34:28 In order to be God's faithful voice,
34:31 let's give that complete message.
34:33 You see, we need to be relational in our theology
34:36 in order to have relevancy.
34:39 But our relationships need to be based on sound theology
34:42 in order to have eternal permanency.
34:45 Because, friends, when the storm hits, all the heresies and half
34:49 truths, and creeping compromise are going to be washed away,
34:52 and only the truth as it is in Jesus is going to remain.
34:58 And so let us go and make straight the way of the Lord.
35:04 Let's avoid the two ditches on either side.
35:06 Let's point people to Jesus, the Lamb in the outer court,
35:11 and the groom in the most holy place.
35:13 John was great in the sight of the Lord
35:15 because he gave that message.
35:16 Let us do the same.
35:18 Well friends, it's not so much what we even say about Jesus,
35:24 that makes us great, but rather it's what Jesus says about us.
35:30 Amen? So now I'd like you to turn with me to our next
35:34 point as we go to the book of Matthew 11.
35:38 And I want us to notice what Jesus said
35:40 concerning John the Baptist.
35:42 Matthew 11:7. The Bible says this: Matthew 11:7.
35:51 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes
35:54 concerning John, What did you go out into the wilderness to see?
35:59 A reed shaken by the wind?
36:01 Here Christ is making a contrast to the life and character of
36:05 John the Baptist to that of a reed that's shaken and moved
36:08 by the wind of circumstance.
36:10 And the obvious answer to the question that Jesus is asking,
36:13 is that John was not like a shaken reed.
36:16 He was not one that was easily moved by the opinions of the
36:20 day, and the circumstances of his life.
36:22 Instead of being like a shaking reed,
36:24 John was like an unmovable rock.
36:27 That's what Jesus said about John.
36:29 He was unmovable, he was firm, he had spiritual backbone,
36:33 he stood up for the truth.
36:36 And so, number one, two things that Jesus says about John
36:39 that I want to highlight.
36:41 1. John the Baptist was unmovable
36:43 for the cause of Christ.
36:44 And then notice the next verse, verse 8.
36:48 But what did you go out to see?
36:49 A man clothed in... What kind of garments?... soft garments?
36:53 Indeed, those who wear soft clothing
36:56 are in the king's houses.
36:58 So in contrast to the kings that like to wear soft, comfortable
37:01 clothes, John the Baptist was not like that.
37:04 The point that Jesus is making is that John the Baptist was not
37:07 only unmovable for the cause of the Messiah, but he was also
37:11 willing to be uncomfortable; uncomfortable
37:15 for the cause of Christ.
37:16 My friends, many people are failing of reaching their full
37:21 potential, because they are afraid of leaving
37:25 their comfort zone.
37:26 But friends there is no growth in the comfort zone.
37:29 And many times there's no comfort in the growth zone.
37:34 If we want to grow we have to get out of the comfort zone.
37:38 We have to be willing to stand up, and stand out,
37:42 and not be ashamed, or afraid to speak up, and speak out
37:46 for the cause of Christ. Amen.
37:48 We need to speak the truth.
37:49 We need to do it in love.
37:50 And as we go, that's how we grow.
37:54 Can you say Amen? Amen.
37:56 There is no growth in the comfort zone,
37:58 and there is no comfort in the growth zone,
38:01 only the fact that the comfort of the Holy Spirit is with us,
38:03 and He is growing us, and preparing us for the kingdom.
38:07 And so what enables us to leave the comfort zone
38:10 for the cause of Christ?
38:11 It's when we remember that Jesus, our heavenly King,
38:17 left the comfort zone for you and me.
38:21 He left the throne of glory, the beautiful mansions above;
38:25 born in a barn in a manger, a very uncomfortable manger;
38:30 grew up in poverty, misunderstood by His peers,
38:33 and even His parents, and then He hung naked
38:36 on a cruel Roman cross.
38:39 Oh friends, that was so uncomfortable.
38:42 But Jesus did it for us.
38:44 And that love demonstrated therein, is the power
38:49 that enables us to leave the comfort zones;
38:51 our comfort zones for Him.
38:53 Can you say Amen? Amen!
38:54 Friends, in these last days God is looking for an Army that is
38:58 not moved by comfort, but moved by Holy Spirit conviction;
39:02 an Army that is more concerned with God's glory
39:06 than their own reputation.
39:08 You see, friends, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable,
39:10 and unmovable, because the stage is set for the final
39:13 crisis to break upon us, and it's going to be uncomfortable,
39:16 but in that moment God wants us to be unmovable.
39:20 I'll never forget going door to door.
39:24 A few years back we were Colporteuring doing big books,
39:29 in a real bad city in California; very dangerous city.
39:33 It was on a Sunday afternoon that we were going door to door.
39:36 But it wasn't an ordinary Sunday.
39:37 It was a very special Sunday here in America.
39:40 It was Super Bowl Sunday.
39:42 During the game we're going door to door because we knew
39:46 that everyone would be home, right?
39:47 And we were facing rejection, after rejection,
39:50 after rejection, but it didn't matter because the sooner they
39:52 rejected us the quicker we could go to the next house,
39:55 and find the person that was interested.
39:57 And so we're heading down this street, and on the other side
39:59 of the street we saw a group of brothers in the garage watching
40:03 the football game; drinking and partying, and what not.
40:06 And we knew that we're going to head to that house soon.
40:09 And so as we're knocking on the doors on one side of the
40:11 street, we're praying for those brothers on the other side.
40:13 We crossed the street and now their house is the next house.
40:17 They saw us coming from the distance.
40:19 They knew what we were doing, because they saw us walking
40:22 on the other side of the street.
40:23 So they knew that their house was the next house.
40:26 So from a distance they started shouting at us,
40:28 and yelling at us saying, You don't want to come here.
40:31 We're not interested in what you have to say.
40:32 Keep right on going!
40:34 You see the Devil did not want me to go to that house,
40:36 because he knew that something powerful was going to happen.
40:39 So I just made like I didn't hear what they were saying,
40:41 and I just walked right up to the garage;
40:43 right into their house.
40:44 And they couldn't believe that I had the audacity to do that.
40:47 And so these 5 or 6 Hispanic brothers started surrounding my
40:53 partner and I, and they tried to intimidate us.
40:56 I mean they were drinking, they were partying, and what not,
40:58 and one guy got in my face, and started shouting at me.
41:01 And he was saying, What are you doing?
41:03 You're wasting your time out here.
41:05 When was the last time you saw God?
41:07 How can you believe in this that you've never seen before?
41:09 You know, it wasn't a comfortable situation.
41:13 Alcoholic breath, spit flying on me; it wasn't a pretty sight.
41:16 But, thank the Lord, I had good devotions that morning, Amen?
41:19 And thank the Lord I was prayed up that morning.
41:22 I had the armor of God.
41:23 And so, by God's grace, even though it was uncomfortable,
41:26 I would not be moved.
41:27 I stood right there, because this individual was asking
41:30 a very good question.
41:31 His question, When was the last time you saw God?
41:34 How can you believe in something that you cannot see?
41:36 Is that a good question? Yes! Absolutely!
41:39 So I tried to answer, but he wouldn't let me talk.
41:41 And so finally I said, Hey, I have an answer.
41:43 Are you ready to hear it?
41:45 So he stopped talking.
41:46 And, by the way, my other partner, I don't think he had
41:49 good devotions that morning, because he started backing up.
41:52 Hey, you guys are drunk! And he left me!
41:57 I was all by myself, but I wasn't alone,
41:59 because God was with me, Amen?
42:01 The Bible says that God has not given us the spirit of fear,
42:03 but power, love, and a sound mind.
42:06 And so it was uncomfortable, but I stood my ground.
42:09 And I tried to answer the question.
42:11 And I finally said, Hey, I have the answer.
42:12 He stopped talking long enough for me to give the answer.
42:15 And I said, Let me answer your question with a question.
42:18 That's a method of Christ.
42:19 Let me answer your question with a question.
42:22 Have you ever seen your brain before, I asked?
42:27 He was half drunk, so he didn't know where
42:29 I was going with this, so he said, No!
42:31 And I said, Oh, well how do you know you have one then?
42:37 I got him thinking.
42:39 And I said, Have you ever seen the wind before?
42:41 No, you can't see the wind, but if you notice this tree right
42:43 here, it's moving because the wind is blowing.
42:45 And I told him, I don't believe in God because I've
42:47 seen Him with my eyes.
42:48 I believe in Him because He has moved so beautifully in my life.
42:53 And I started sharing my personal testimony;
42:55 how I used to be a druggie, a pot head.
42:58 I was chasing the world, and burning up my brain cells;
43:01 not caring about anyone but myself.
43:03 And I shared with him how the Lord had rescued me,
43:06 and made me free, and that's the reason why
43:08 I was going door to door.
43:09 And as I was sharing my testimony with him,
43:11 all of a sudden he said, You know, I wish God would send
43:14 someone in my life to help me stop doing what I'm doing.
43:17 I'm sick of my life!
43:20 When he said that, tears filled his eyes.
43:24 He was a tough guy, but the Holy Spirit was breaking him down.
43:29 He started to cry. Then he ran away, because he didn't want
43:31 his friends to see him crying, so he left.
43:33 And so I went after him.
43:36 And when I got to where he was he said,
43:38 Why are you doing this man?
43:39 You're making me cry.
43:41 You're making me think.
43:42 Why are you doing this?
43:43 I said, I'm not doing anything.
43:45 Right now God is moving on your heart, my friend.
43:46 And I started telling him about the love of Jesus.
43:49 How Christ would accept him just as he was,
43:53 but wouldn't leave him as he was.
43:56 How Christ would win the victory in his life.
43:58 He was listening, and he received the book,
44:01 Steps to Christ. Amen?
44:04 Friends, in these last days God is calling us to go out
44:06 of the comfort zone for His cause.
44:08 There are souls all around us that need to see the things
44:11 that we have seen, to hear the things we have heard,
44:14 and to know the great God that we know.
44:15 So let us go and make Him known to others, Amen?
44:20 We must be uncomfortable, and unmovable.
44:23 Because, friends, in these last days, in this crisis hour,
44:27 our faith is going to be severely tested
44:29 just like John the Baptist.
44:31 And if we have been wearied with the footmen,
44:33 what are we going to do when the horses come?
44:35 What are we going to do when the time of trouble hits, friends?
44:37 We need to pray, Lord make me uncomfortable in this world,
44:41 and unmovable in this walk.
44:44 Uncomfortable in the world, unmovable in the walk.
44:48 And so that's what Jesus said about John.
44:51 Then notice what He said in verse 9.
44:52 Matthew 11:9. But what went you out to see? A prophet?
44:59 yes, I say to you, and what? more than a prophet.
45:02 Then jump down to verse 11.
45:04 Assuredly I say to you, Among those born of women there is not
45:08 risen a greater than John the Baptist: but he that is least
45:11 in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
45:14 Friends, it's beautiful.
45:15 Here we find Jesus, God in the flesh, giving a great stamp of
45:21 approval on the life of John.
45:22 He said that John is more than a prophet, and there hasn't been
45:26 one greater than him.
45:28 Friends, as we contemplate these words, this confirmation
45:34 of Christ, there's a strange and disturbing dichotomy between
45:39 the life that Jesus affirmed, and the death
45:43 that John experienced.
45:45 Because John the Baptist, we know that the end of the story
45:49 was that he was in a cold, dark dungeon,
45:52 in prison for preaching the truth.
45:56 And I can imagine that as John was in that dungeon cell,
46:00 he had to have been thinking to himself, If Jesus came to
46:03 preach deliverance to the captives,
46:05 why does He not set me free?
46:07 You see, John the Baptist himself did not have a complete
46:13 understanding of the Messiah's character.
46:16 And I could imagine that his faith in that
46:18 dungeon cell was tested.
46:20 His faith faltered, but it did not fail.
46:24 And what he experienced is what we will experience
46:27 in these last days.
46:28 We're going to go through a similar test; a time of shaking,
46:33 a time called the time of Jacob's trouble.
46:36 It's our own personal Gethsemane experience, where our will must
46:41 die so that God's will can be accomplished.
46:44 It is the cross that comes before the crown.
46:46 It is the crucifixion that comes before the resurrection.
46:50 It's the rain that precedes the rainbow.
46:52 It's the pit and the prison before the heavenly palace.
46:55 It is the time that would try our souls to the uttermost.
46:59 A time that we will be forsaken of men,
47:01 and seemingly forgotten by God.
47:04 And perhaps you're there right now today.
47:07 Perhaps you've already been in that shaking,
47:10 testing experience.
47:12 Maybe you're experiencing, this morning, a major health
47:15 issue that is draining the hope out of you.
47:18 Perhaps you feel crushed by an overwhelming debt.
47:21 You have school loans to repay.
47:23 Your house has gone into foreclosure.
47:26 You don't know how you're going to provide for your family.
47:28 Or maybe you're a young person, and your parents have gone
47:31 through, or are going through, a devastating divorce.
47:34 And you're confused, and you're angry.
47:36 Maybe your friends have betrayed you,
47:38 and your fiancé has walked out on you.
47:40 Maybe your spouse has left you for somebody else,
47:43 your children disrespecting you.
47:45 Your parents have forsaken you, or maybe there's a loved one
47:48 that's abusing you, and you're in that cold, dark dungeon
47:52 like John the Baptist was.
47:53 And you're asking the question, Why?
47:55 And as you pray it seems like heaven is deaf to your cries.
47:59 Such was the situation of John the Baptist.
48:03 How can one called so great be left to perish in a cold, dark
48:09 dungeon all by himself?
48:11 How can one that was so affirmed by Christ
48:13 be left to lose his head?
48:15 Well friends, the key is this: even though John was by
48:20 himself, he wasn't alone.
48:22 It only seemed that way.
48:25 The book, The Desire of Ages, 224 says,
48:46 And so, my brothers, and my sisters, if you find yourself
48:49 all by yourself, remember that you are not alone;
48:52 That God is with us to the very end.
48:55 God is with us in the prison, and in the pit, the same way
48:59 He's with us in the pew, and in the pulpit.
49:02 God is always there, even though we don't feel like He's there.
49:06 He is our shining light when we're surrounded by darkness.
49:09 Our God is our faithful friend when all
49:11 others have forsaken us.
49:12 He is our saving shield when we're being
49:14 attacked from all sides.
49:16 He's our compassionate comforter when we've
49:18 got no one to turn to.
49:19 He is our living bread when we have nothing to eat,
49:21 our living water when we're dying of thirst.
49:23 He is our healing balm when we've been wounded by sin.
49:26 He is our lifeguard when we're being pulled down by the strong
49:30 currents of our own sinful flesh.
49:32 He is our guiding compass when we've lost our way,
49:35 and have no one to turn to.
49:36 He is our stable voice when we've lost all words,
49:40 and when we don't know what to say.
49:41 He is our solidifying purpose when we have no
49:45 other reason to live.
49:46 He is our solid rock when all the foundations
49:49 have been washed away.
49:50 He is our breath of life when we're drowning
49:52 in discouragement and despair.
49:54 He is, friends, the great I Am, not the I was, or the I will be.
49:58 The great I Am, that's present tense.
50:01 The one that is with us in every single situation,
50:04 in every single difficulty, the present tense God,
50:07 our ever present help in time of need.
50:10 And friends, if there was ever a time that we needed the Lord,
50:12 we sure do need Him now.
50:15 How many of you need Jesus?
50:18 He is the I Am. You fill in the blank.
50:22 Whatever you need Him to be; I Am.
50:26 He is our friend when we don't have any more friends,
50:30 our shelter when we're homeless, our bread
50:33 when we have nothing to eat.
50:35 How many of you are thankful for Jesus, Amen?
50:36 I want you to notice, trials will come, so let it come.
50:41 But here's what God says: in the book The Desire of Ages,
50:44 page 24. We're almost finished.
50:46 It says this: Oh, I love this passage.
50:48 It's in the context of death of John the Baptist.
50:51 It says: God never leads His children otherwise than they
50:58 would choose to be led...
50:59 We're in The Desire of Ages, page 224.
51:01 ...if they could see the end from the beginning,
51:04 and discern the glory of the purpose which they are
51:09 fulfilling as co-workers with Him.
51:11 Did you catch that?
51:12 God never leads us otherwise than we would choose to be led,
51:17 if we could see the end from the beginning like He does.
51:19 In other words, if you're going through something this morning,
51:22 and you'd rather not go through it, well friends, if you knew
51:25 what God is going to bring out of that situation, you would be,
51:28 Yes, I want to go through this situation.
51:32 And then it says, Not Enoch, who was translated to heaven,
51:37 not Elijah, who ascended in the chariot of fire, was greater or
51:42 more honored than John the Baptist,
51:45 who perished alone in the dungeon.
51:48 You have Enoch, Elijah, and John the Baptist.
51:51 Which one do you want to be?
51:53 We want to be like Enoch, isn't that right?
51:56 Translated without seeing death.
51:59 Oh we don't mind being like Elijah,
52:01 caught up in that chariot of fire.
52:03 But to be like John the Baptist in the dungeon,
52:07 normally that's not our first choice, isn't that right?
52:10 But it says here that Elijah and Enoch were not more honored
52:14 than John the Baptist, even though he lost his
52:17 head in the dungeon. And then it says:
52:40 My friends, come what may, God is with us.
52:46 He is always faithful.
52:48 His presence will go with us.
52:50 His love will embrace us.
52:52 His grace will sustain us.
52:55 His mighty arm will protect us.
52:57 And if we perish alone in the dungeon,
53:01 His voice will resurrect us.
53:05 And so don't worry, friends, about being great
53:08 in the sight of the world, but great in the sight of the Lord.
53:14 And now as we conclude, What makes us great?
53:19 Three things: 1. What we say about ourselves.
53:24 He must increase, we must decrease.
53:28 2. What we say about Jesus.
53:32 He's not only the Lamb, He's also the bridegroom.
53:36 And 3. What Jesus says about us: unmovable, and uncomfortable
53:42 for the sake of Christ.
53:44 How many of you want to be that voice crying in the wilderness
53:48 to prepare the way of the Lord?
53:51 My last verse, John 1:37, is I believe the greatest compliment
53:59 that can be said concerning God's people.
54:03 It was said of John, may it be said of us.
54:06 John 1:37, the Bible says: And the two disciples heard him
54:15 speak... Referring to John the Baptist.
54:18 They heard John speak.
54:20 They heard that voice crying in the wilderness.
54:22 And what did they do when they heard the voice?
54:25 It says,...and they followed Jesus.
54:30 They did not follow the man, they followed the Lamb.
54:35 That's the greatest thing, compliment that can be said,
54:39 concerning God's voices.
54:40 They heard us speak, and they followed Jesus.
54:44 May that be said of us.
54:46 May that be said of you.
54:49 How many of you want to have that experience that when people
54:52 hear us speak they follow Jesus?
54:56 Friends, it's been a pleasure sharing this time with you
54:59 in these past few days.
55:01 As we face a brand new year, with brand new challenges,
55:04 and brand new victories, let us never forget that we've been
55:08 called, we've been chosen.
55:11 By God's grace let us be faithful.
55:14 And if I never see you again, if we never meet each other
55:19 again in this world, by God's grace let us commit this morning
55:24 that we will meet again in God's eternal kingdom.
55:28 Because they that are with Him are called,
55:31 and chosen, and are faithful.
55:32 Are you going to be there?
55:34 Let's pray that we will all be there.
55:37 And let us close this morning.
55:40 Father in Heaven, thank You so much dear God, for Your amazing
55:48 grace, Your marvelous mercy, for calling us, for choosing us
55:56 even when we did not choose You.
56:00 Lord forgive us for using our voices for our own gain,
56:06 for our own glory.
56:07 Lord make us like John the Baptist,
56:12 more so make us like Jesus.
56:15 Make us Your voice that proclaims Your Word,
56:19 that points people to the Lamb that died for us,
56:23 and the bridegroom that's returning for us.
56:27 We thank You so much for the experience we've had together.
56:31 Bless us as we get ready to depart today.
56:34 As we descend from this mountain top experience, as we go to the
56:39 valley's below where people are dying, Lord may we be the light,
56:43 make us the light of the world.
56:46 And Father, as we are about to experience a great time of
56:51 trouble, give us Your faithfulness, and help us to
56:57 trust in Your faithfulness.
57:00 Thank You for hearing this prayer.
57:02 In Jesus' name we pray.
57:04 Let all of God's children say Amen, Amen.