Luke: Time to step up to the plate.-03/22/20

Introduction: Jim Morris. Eleven years after retiring from baseball, he unexpectedly learned a life-changing lesson when he coached a high school baseball team. While giving a pep talk about the importance of dreams and hard work, the team challenged him about giving up his own goals.

Morris made his last place team the following bet: if they won the district championship, he would try out for a major league team. His team won.

Not much later he found himself at a big league tryout, throwing twelve consecutive 98 mph pitches. After just three months in the minors Morris was a major league player for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. (Jimtherookiemorris.com)

You might recognize that as the movie ‘The Rookie.’ Dennis Quaid played to the part of Jim Morris.

What stuck me is that his High School baseball team challenged him, to not just watch the game from the sidelines as coach, but to step up to the plate himself, and get in the game.

In the Bible there’s a guy ‘something’ like Jim Morris. His name is Caleb.

As you know, Caleb was one of the Israelites that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years prior to Joshua leading them into the Promised Land.

Many of Calebs generation died as a result of their sin and unbelief. But not Caleb.
Caleb suffered the 40 yrs of wandering in the desert just like everyone else. His feet hurt, his lips were perpetually chapped, he was tired. His journey was no easier than anyone else’s.

Caleb is now about 85yrs old. And that was old in that day… just like it is today. Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promised land and begins to divide the land between the tribes of Israel. When Joshua gets to Caleb, listen to what Caleb said in Joshua 14:12

So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.

As far as I can tell, no one else wanted the mountain as their inheritance. Why?

It was heavily defended by a nation of skilled warriors.

Caleb didn’t complain about how hard it was going to be. He didn’t use his old age or the fact that he was tired, as an excuse to get a ‘cushier’ part of the land.

In other words, he didn’t take the easy way out.

But notice, even at 85, it didn’t stop Caleb from stepping up to the plate and fighting hard, perhaps harder than most, to drive out the inhabitants of the land, just as God had said.

And like Caleb, God is calling us to step up to the plate and to help continue the work Jesus started.

How do I know that? Because it’s what we’ll see in our text this morning.

Jesus’ disciples were living in fear, they were confused, worried, panicking and full of doubt. They didn’t know what their future held.

Then the resurrected Jesus shows up.

He extends to them His peace.
He showed them that He was still present with them.
They could trust what He had said and promised.

Now that they were out of panic mode. Now that Jesus had their attention.

He tells them it’s time to get out of hiding.
It’s time to get back into the game.
It’s time to step up to the plate… and continue the work He started.

In our text, Jesus gave His disciples, then and now, 4 fundamentals they needed to grasp, if they were to transform the known world with the truth of Jesus Christ.

Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 24:44. The 1st fundamental of stepping up to the plate, is to study God’s Word.

1. Luke 24:44-45  To study God’s Word

Then He said to them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures

The first thing Jesus reminds them of, is God’s Word, the importance of Scripture, to help them/us to step up to the plate and continue the work Jesus started.

Jesus emphasized two truths here:

First, the whole of Scripture tellsof Jesus.

For them it was the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (the OT for us)

Commentator, pastor and teacher J. Vernon McGee, once said his goal was to discover Jesus on every page of the OT.

This is important because far too many Christians might read through the whole Bible, but only study the NT.

Christian, take the time to study the OT. You will find Jesus there. If you would like some help with your study, you can visit our church web page and find sermons on the OT books of Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, I, 2 Samuel

Second, when it comes to the importance of God’s Word it’s necessary that Jesus open our eyes to understand it.

Over and over again we find this to be true…
and it’s something so important that we need to ask God to open our eyes, even today.

Your hands have made and fashioned me;

give me understanding that I may learn Your commandments. (Ps 119:73)

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law. (Psalm 119:18)

Listen, when we pray for God to open our eyes to understand Scripture, it will motivate us to obey it.

 

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep Your law and observe it with my whole heart. (Psalm 119:33–34)

Also when we pray for God to open our eyes to understand Scripture, it will give us life, the fullness of life in Him.

Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live. (Psalm 119:144)

Look, I can’t tell you how often I go to God in prayer when I’m working on a sermon or small group lesson.

I ask God to not only to help me to understand the text, but to help me understand it, in such a way,that I can explain it to you.

This prayer has been indispensable in my ministry.

And if you’re going to step up to the plate and get in the game of helping to continue the work Jesus came to do, then it’ll be indispensable to you as well. 

2. Luke 24:46-48  To share the Good News

and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

The 2nd fundamental of stepping up to the plate is to share the Good News.

Jesus first gives us the basics of the Gospel:

People sin against God.
Jesus died for our sin.
God raised Jesus from the dead.
People need to repent of their sin.
God grants forgiveness and life when we repent.

And just a note here, an important note at that: The phrase thus it is written… is in the Greek perfect tense. It means ‘it has been written and it will always be written’. To put it another way… Jesus is saying this will always be true… always.

The Gospel never changes, even though people don’t like it, it’s not ‘relevant to them, it’s offensive or it’s not inclusive.The Gospel never changes, even though society may.

People sin against God.
Jesus died for our sin.
God raised Jesus from the dead.
People need to repent of their sin.
God grants forgiveness and life when we repent.

Second, Jesus gives us our purpose as His followers. that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

I’ve been saying that Jesus is calling us to step up to the plate to continue what He came to do. What did Jesus come to do? What was His purpose:

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

We preach, we share, no   other   Gospel. That is our purpose..

to be a herald, an announcer, a messenger, a reporter of the Good News of forgiveness and life in Jesus.

Listen.. Jesus’ disciples were not left to live in the room they had been hiding in. They were sent out into the world… to Jerusalem first, then out to the rest of the world. And that’s true for us as well.

We’re not called to stay in the church building where it’s safe, hoping that the unsaved will come to us.
We too, like the disciples, are called to risk all and GO!

One last point before I move on. This also means we are to support those who go… who go outside of their Jerusalem to seek and save the lost. Missionaries, Kingdom Builders.

We support, and care for themas if they were one of our own who goes… because in God’s economy.. they are!

3. Luke 24:49  To live ‘Spirit filled’

And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

The 3rd fundamental of stepping up to the plate is, to live ‘Spirit filled.’

This is perhaps the easiest to understand and at the same time the hardest to do.

Basically, Jesus is telling His disciples, then and now, that you don’t have to do this alone… in fact, you can’t do this alone.

You will not step up to the plate,
you will not help continue what I came to do… apart from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

How do I get that from this text? Let’s look at John’s Gospel.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  

(John 14:16-17)

They could not be witnesses for Jesus w/o the power of the Holy Spirit living in them… and neither can we.

Here’s a very important truth.

When we try to get ahead of the Holy Spirit.
When we think we can do something, even something very good, but don’t wait for God’s leading, blessing &filling.

We will fail!

Pastor Alan Carr writes:

Now, here we are 2,000 years later and we are organized, we have nice building, we have music, pews, lights, air conditioning, trained preachers, and complete copies of God’s Word. We have everything we need to impact this world for Jesus, except for the one thing that will get the job done: the power of God. Why do we not have His power working in and through the church?
Therefore, I believe that the greatest need in our churches, is for a church that is filled with God’s Spirit, and endued with His power.

That’s true because we don’t like to ask, we don’t we like to wait, and we especially don’t like to submit to anyone, even the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Note that the disciples had to stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.

That means before they can be His witnesses, they need to submit to the Jesus.
And they had to stay in Jerusalem, to wait, for the Holy Spirit to enter and empower  them.

He’ll do that to Jesus’ disciples on Pentecost. He does that to us the moment we are saved by God’s grace… and the moment we submit to His leading.

4. Luke 24:50-53 To worship the Lord together

And He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

The final fundamental of stepping up to the plate is, to worship the Lord together.

Jesus blesses us… individually, yes, but also as His church (the blessings in our text were not individual ones but to the disciples as a group)
Their response to Jesus’ blessings is they join together as one and worship Him!

Notice that the disciples werent afraid, confused or in panic mode after Jesus ascended into Heaven.

They were assured of who He was.
They believed what He said.
They spent time in fellowship with Him.
They were blessed by Him.

And that filled them with great joy!

And together they worshipedJesus, the text tells us. And they worship Him publicly…

Demonstrated by the fact that they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Even though Jesus was no longer physically present with them, they were assured He would always be with them.

And they continually worshipped Him.

Christian, has Jesus blessed you? Abundantly?

Are your worshipping Him with your whole heart, your whole life, regularly, together with your brothers & sisters in Christ?
Is joy the predominate aspect, characteristic of your worship and your life?

Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3-17 about the extravagance of God’s blessings to us. Listen closely for God’s blessings to us: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.

In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose,

which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.

Did you hear it? Blessing after blessing.
All yours through faith in Jesus.

Here’s the thing: To the extent that we see the glory of the risen and ascended Jesus, we will be filled with worship, great joy and thanksgiving towards God for His abundant mercies and blessings to us. (Steven Cole)

Listen, that’s not only the application to our text this morning, it’s also the big idea of the Book of Hebrews that well be studying together next.

The purpose of the book is to help us to see Jesus, high and lifted up,
so that our joy might be full, our service might be faithful and our worship might be extravagant!  

Conclusion: There are many Christians in the church today who are not in the game, for any number of reasons. To continue with the baseball metaphor:

They come to the game, the get suited up, but they stay in the dugout.

Christian, God has richly blessed you, God has called you to help continue the work Jesus came to do.

It’s time to get in the game.
It’s time to step up to the plate.

Even in the midst of this time of having to learn to navigate the new normal of life under the Coronavirus, we cannot choose to sit this one out because it’s just too hard or depressing, or scaryaround us.

So, when you’re asked to ‘do church’ in a very unfamiliar way, don’t think there’s just no time, no room in your life for that.

But listen, this is the time when you need to step up to the plate and continue to do what God calls you to do..

just doing it in perhaps a new way…
for a while.

Look all of this is new for me too. Let’s step up to the plate and honor God.. together.  Let’s pray.