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Forgotten Virtues - Week 3

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Well, if you have your Bibles with you today Lets open them up to Matthew 26. We are in a very important series. This is really burning in my heart. It's called Forgotten Virtues. The first week, we talked about the forgotten virtue of honor. Last week, my wife Amy really taught what I believe is a very powerful message on the forgotten virtue of purity. Next week, we want to talk about integrity. In the final week, I want to talk about the forgotten virtue of gratitude in our own lives. Today though, I want to talk about what is truly one of the most important and yet forgotten virtues in the world today, and that is loyalty. Can everybody say, "loyalty". Here's what I did. I made a list of all these different virtues and I went around and I interviewed a bunch of different people and I said, "Which ones do you think are most forgotten in our world today?" Loyalty ranked right up there at the very top of the list according to all of the people I talked to. In fact, let's just do this, if I could get all of you at our Network Churches, those of you at our Life Churches, Church Online; how many of you would agree that in society today disloyalty is a significant problem? How many of you would say, "I agree", lift your hands up, leave them up for a minute. Look around, just about every hand is up! The need has been established. Now, let me ask you this, and I want you all to be honest, everybody participating at all our churches. How many of you would say that for the most part, you're a pretty loyal person? Would you raise your hands up? Raise them up, raise them up! Leave them up and look around. Here then lays the challenge of this message for me today. You see the tension? We all say that disloyalty is a significant problem, and yet all of you are basically loyal people! Which the only thing I can figure is there must be churches full of very disloyal people, but not this one! Because we are basically loyal people. If you are taking notes, write this down: DISLOYALTY IS VERY DIFFICULT TO SEE IN THE MIRROR. It's really difficult to see in the mirror. We like to say, "Hey, I'm loyal to you, but if I'm ever not it's because you deserved it because you pushed me beyond my limits. But, if you're not loyal to me, oh my gosh, disloyalty is a big problem. Very difficult to see in the mirror. To give you an example. In this service right now is one of my best friends, John Bullard. We've worked out together for about 17 years. We've been through all sorts of great times, challenging times and if you ask me, "Craig, are you loyal to him?" I'd say, "Absolutely! Except for the backyard incidence!" Very well known in our friendship. He was looking at buying a house one time and I went over in the backyard just to look at the house. We went in the backyard and we were looking at this little building. The next door neighbor had two Pitbulls that we didn't know about until they came tearing around the house straight toward us! Now, those of you around the world at Church Online, I don't know if you know what Pitbulls are, but if you ever watch the news, one of them can eat two-thirds of the people in a neighborhood by himself! Very scary, demonic little creatures! These two Pitbulls were tearing right at us and John was standing kind of in between me and the Pitbulls. So as a faithful friend, I just took him and just pushed off of him as hard as I possibly could and pushed him toward death! I turned the other way and ran as fast as I could! I was three doors down before I realized that I had pushed him over face down in front of these creatures! Well, thankfully there was a chain-link fence separating us, but when I pushed him down, I didn't know it and he didn't know it, he came back and he said, "Do you realize best friend, you just pushed me toward death?" And I was like, "If it was you or me, it was going to be you, baby!" I would tell you all day long I am loyal, but in a pinch the reality is I am often loyal to myself. Most of us are. Disloyalty is a very significant issue, but it is also very difficult to see in the mirror. I will give you probably the best Biblical example. If you look in the New Testament, if there's one guy who would have claimed loyalty to Jesus above all else, it was a guy by the name of Peter. Over and over again he said, 'Jesus I've got your back, I'm your man, if all of these other losers leave you I will never leave you, I am your loyal guy!' Let's pick up the story in Matthew 26, verse 33 and following. One time Peter, he replied to Jesus, he said: Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same. Matthew 26:33-35 Peter said that even if all these people fall away on account of you, what did he say? He said, "I never will." 'I won't do that, I will be completely loyal to you, I will never disown you, I will be completely loyal to you, I promise!' And if you know the rest of the story, before the evening was over, three different people came up and said, 'Hey, weren't you with that Jesus guy?' And Peter's like, 'Jesus who? What are you talking about? I don't know any Jesus!' Three different people and after the third one, the rooster crowed and if you read between the lines you can almost sense this, 'Oh my gosh, I said I would be loyal, but I was disloyal to the most loyal one I've ever known; not one time, but three times!' And the Bible says: "And he went outside and wept bitterly." Matthew 26:75 Here's what we need to understand, write this down: TRUE LOYALTY IS PROVEN NOT PROCLAIMED. I just asked you, "Are you basically a loyal person?" And almost all of us would say, "Absolutely, I agree that disloyalty is a significant problem in culture today, but it's not me!" LOYALTY IS PROVEN NOT PROCLAIMED. Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? Proverbs 20:6 Proverbs 20:6 says that many will say that we are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? We have got to learn as followers of Christ, not just to "Talk the talk" but "Walk the walk". To me, one of the greatest examples in sports history, if any of you know about Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson. Back in 1947, they both played for the Brooklyn Dodgers; very, very good friends. What makes this story especially meaningful, is Jackie Robinson was the first Black, or African American baseball player to break the color and race barrier. Very significant deal, and even his own teammates turned against him. All sorts of fans wrote death threats, and all sorts of horrible things, simply because the color of his skin. And when Brooklyn was playing in Cincinnati, Jackie Robinson was playing second base, his friend, Pee Wee Reese was playing short stop and the crowd started throwing all of these things and booing and saying horrible things to Jackie Robinson. His white friend, the short stop, took his glove, threw it down in the dirt, walked over to the second baseman, his friend, Jackie Robinson, looked up at all of the booing crowd, and he simply did this, he put his arm around his friend. And the crowd went completely silent. Jackie Robinson later said that that one simple act did more than save his career, but it probably saved him in more ways than you could ever know. In fact, it was such a special moment in history they even made a statue to symbolize this act of loyalty between two very special friends. Loyalty is proven, it's not just proclaimed. I want to show you in the Bible what is probably one of my favorite stories on loyalty and it may be one you don't know. There are a lot of famous ones with David and Jonathan and other ones, but I want to show you one that you may have never seen before. It was loyalty between a soldier, a commandeer and the king, King David. Let me give you the context of the story. King David had a son, Absalom, it was his third son. His son committed a horrible crime and ended up murdering a guy and went on the run for his life. He was very afraid, even though David was faithful to him. About three years later, Absalom returned with a big army to overthrow his own father's throne. David had been faithful to him, and yet he was being disloyal to his own father. And so now King David was on the run trying to save his own life. There was a guy by the name of Ittai. Ittai showed up on the scene. He was basically a mercenary, he was a hired guy who was a commander of 600 men and Ittai, though he had no real skin in this game, volunteered to fight on behalf of David. Let's just read the story, 2 Samuel 15:19 and following: The King said to Ittai the Gittite... Can we just pause for a moment and say...what was his mama thinking? I mean, I just have to say it, Ittai the Gittite, couldn't you have thought that through mom or dad? But anyways.... He said to Ittai "Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. You came only yesterday. Go back and take your countrymen. May kindness and faithfulness be with you." 2 Samuel 15:19-20 In other words, there's a free pass. You don't have to fight in this battle, let's not see any of your men injured or killed and not you as well, go home. Verse 21: But Ittai replied to the king... Watch this loyalty. "As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be." 2 Samuel 15:21 Not only did he proclaim loyalty, but he proved it as he led his 600 men in battle and fought so faithfully that later David elevated him to be in charge of about a third of his troops because he embraced the virtue of loyalty. No matter what it costs me, no matter what everyone thinks, even if it costs me my life. I'm not loyal up to a point, I'm not conditionally loyal, my loyalty is with you and you forever. Loyalty, the forgotten virtue. Now, what I want to do in the next few moments is something a bit different. Since most of you all are basically loyal people, what I want to do is become Sarcastic Craig for just a moment. Be right back. (Craig puts a sign around his neck that says, "Sarcastic Craig"!) I want to tell you how to be disloyal, because most of you are already pretty loyal right? So, let me take a few moments and tell you..if you ever want to be disloyal, here's how you can do it! Let's look at three great opportunities to be disloyal. The first if you are taking notes, a great place to start for beginning betrayers is to be disloyal to your spouse. Write that down. What you have to do is you have to ignore God's Word when God said in Malachi 2:15: Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. Malachi 2:15 Didn't the Lord make you one with your wife? That's stupid and old fashioned. So guard your heart, who cares about that today? Remain what? God says to remain loyal to the wife of your youth. I mean if you can trade a 50 year old in for two 25 year olds, baby, more power to you! Why stay loyal? God says: "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel. Malachi 2:16 Who cares about that? None of us cares about that nowadays! To divorce your wife is to what? It's to overwhelm her with cruelty. She probably had it coming to her anyway. So, guard your heart and do not be what? Do not be unfaithful to your wife. So, if you want to be unfaithful, disloyal, the most basic ways to do it would be, go ahead and have an affair, commit adultery. Basically you are a loyal person, but according to studies, about 40-60% of you will commit adultery on your spouse. Great place to start! You can also take it all the way to the very obvious, which is, if your spouse isn't making you happy, divorce baby! Divorce! That's what everybody else does! That's not disloyal, because you've got to be loyal to yourself. If she's not making you happy, he's not making you happy, just walk away, forget about the covenant you've made with God. But, that's just easy. Let's dumb it down a little bit. Let's talk about some more creative and subtle ways to be disloyal. I've got a friend, this guy's a master. He is masterfully disloyal to his wife by taking shots at her in public, but it's always masked by humor. The guy's brilliant, it's genius! He can pick her down, tear her apart with jokes. The beauty of the jokes is you can always say, "I was just joking!" But she doesn't just take that laying down, she comes back and she tears him down in front of the kids, you ought to watch her work; "If only you were a provider like so and so! If only you were a godly man," she says in front of the kids. You can be disloyal to your spouse in much more subtle ways by dishonoring them and belittling them in public. Some other ways you want to be disloyal? Are you still with me? Sarcastic Craig, don't freak out! The problem is, when I do this people come to Church Online, they are going 'What's this psycho saying?' They come in the middle and say, 'He's weird!' Sarcastic Craig! Here's what you can also do, you can look lustfully at other people. Great way to be disloyal. Be out to dinner with your spouse. A good looking person walks by, just gawk, baby! You can thank God for that hot person that just walked by, since you are a religious person, as you will. You can gawk at people in the gym. You don't even have to do it with your eyes. You can have disloyal thoughts. You can think about an old boyfriend, an old girlfriend, you can think lustful thoughts. Ladies, you can be disloyal the way you dress. If you've got it, flaunt it baby! Don't just reserve your stuff for him, show it to everybody, tight, paint it on! Cleavage, walk around, show what you've got to everybody! Oh, this is good, sarcastic preaching. There are so many ways to be disloyal. Ultimately though, one of the best ways is just to put anything ahead of your marriage and your family. It could be your work, it could be your hobby, it could be your friends, it could be your yard, it could be your pursuit of material things. Baby, a great way to be disloyal is to put anything else ahead of those that you are supposed to love. A great place to be disloyal for all of you incredibly loyal people, is to be disloyal to your spouse. A second group of people to be disloyal to would be your friends. Here's what the Bible says, Proverbs 17:17: A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17 Who can be that? I mean, that's crazy. A brother is born to help in a time of need. Some great ways to be disloyal to your friends, one great thing is to gossip about them. Go to Life Group and then come home and say, "Can you believe the way they spend their money? Can you believe the way...their marriage is not..." Gossip about them! Or you don't have to just gossip, but you can listen to gossip about your friends and not correct or stop anyone else. Another great way to be disloyal is to not love your friends enough to tell them the truth. If they ask you something and the truth is going to hurt their feelings, by all means lie! Your job is to make them feel good, not to tell them the truth. And above all else, don't confront them about something they are doing wrong. Don't love them enough to stand in their way and say, "Because I'm your friend, I won't let you do something destructive. Then, whenever you do have a hard time, you have a little tiff, you get a little upset, just walk away, write them off! Don't do the Biblical thing and forgive and work through it. What's hot today is to walk away! Oh, I love that! Tweak that! What's hot today is to walk away! Whenever someone hurts you just walk away, it's the easiest thing to do. Is this good? Let's keep going! All of you perfectly loyal people, let's talk about another one, write this down. Another opportunity for disloyalty, is you can be disloyal to Christ's Church. Oh, you can be very disloyal and unfaithful to the Church (capital C), or to the church your own local church (lower case c). The New Testament Christians, they were like fanatic into this Jesus thing. I mean, they took Him seriously. They believed in the church and all this weird stuff and all of us know in today's world, we don't have time to really be a part of the church and we want to add a little bit of Jesus to our lives, but not so much that it makes that it makes us weird or different, or anything like that! I mean, look at these crazy New Testament people, Acts 2:42, the Bible says they did what? They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42 The Bible says that they devoted themselves, (who has time for that?) to the apostles teaching and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They were like this disgusting little community that did life together and cared about one another and ministered to one another and got deep into committed relationships. And all the believers, they were together and they had everything in common. I mean let's be honest, what fun is it if we can't disagree and fight and divide and start multiple new denominations everyday? What's this unity thing? Stupid and outdated. The Bible says: Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Acts 2:45 Sounds like communism, I mean don't you know that more stuff is for you baby, not to be generous with. For you more is always for you! The Bible says: Everyday they continue to meet together in the temple courts. Acts 2:46 Is that like overboard? I mean, this was a daily commitment? We don't have time for that do we? Here's what I want you to do, to be disloyal to the church, make sure you attend church sporadically. And the good news is, most of you already do! You do! I mean, the average American Christian now goes to church one weekend a month. Beautiful, beautiful! And if you do go, make sure you go with a consumeristic mindset. I'm looking for a church that meets my needs. Don't you ever start thinking that you are the church and you are here to meet the needs of the world, I mean that is obviously jacked! You go in, look for a church that meets your needs. And what's great is if you are a true consumer you can go in and say, "Hey, I like the youth group at this one, so we send our kids there and I like the worship at this one, so we go to the worship there. I like the podcast from this one and so we go to these different places to consume and we don't give, and we don't get involved and we don't serve and we don't use our gifts because the church exists for us. And then, if anyone ever does something you don't like, for instance Sarcastic Craig, here's the perfect excuse to never come back! Just don't come back! Just get mad, leave, don't work on things, don't become more godly, don't grow, don't develop. If someone takes a program away, or doesn't smile at you, or your kid gets in a fight, just go and don't ever come back! That's how to be disloyal! That's just harder to preach that way than you could ever imagine. It's like opposite day! Really, really hard. Now all that being said, disloyalty is difficult to see in the mirror, because we all acknowledge that disloyalty is a problem in culture today, but most of us don't think it's us. I'm basically a loyal person, the problem is most of us are basically loyal to ourselves. I am, I didn't want to admit that, but it's true. Let's try to bring this whole subject into focus in this one statement and then we will kind of unpack it. Where is disloyalty? Where is it born out of? If you are taking notes write this down. ALL DISLOYALTY IS BORN OUT OF A DIVIDED HEART. All disloyalty is born out of a divided heart. Think about loyalty from God's prospective. God created us to show us His love and to have an intimate ongoing fellowship with us and He was so loyal to us, that while we were still sinners, while we were being disloyal to Him, He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins. Even when we are faithless, disloyal, He remains faithful, loyal to us. And here's what He asks for. God asks for all of our hearts. The most important command, a guy asked Jesus, "What's the big one?" Jesus says, "Well, it's to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your mind and all of your soul, and all of your strength. He wants all of our hearts. I can't speak for you, but I can tell you tragically, He does not have all of mine. He doesn't, I'd like to tell you that He does, I would pray that He would, but if I look at the way I live, I have to acknowledge that I have a divided heart. Many of you, if you are really honest, you might do the same thing. You might say, "My heart's divided." But, if that's all we do we will never have a unified heart. Here's what James says, and I believe that there are some of you today that the Holy Spirit is going to do something in you and you are going to have an encounter with God and you will not be the same. My guess is that most people will be able to shake this, because we become very skilled at shaking off what God wants to do. Most of you, you'll probably be able to shake this and go on and life will be just normal. A few of you though, you may hear this in a way that God wants to say something to you, as He has said something to me, as I've studied and prayed through this text over and over and over again this week. James 4:8-9, James says: Come close to God and God will come close to you. James 4:8-9 Imagine the power of that. Draw near to God and God will draw near to you. James says: Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4:8-9 Wash your hands, purify your hearts because your loyalty is divided between God and the world. And here is what He says: Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. James 4:9 Let there be mourning and repenting for the division in our hearts. This is something that I am incapable of producing in your heart. And I don't want to say, your bad feel bad about it! But, what I do want to say is when I get close to God and see His goodness and see my unfaithfulness and see my disloyalty, if it doesn't grieve me and drive me to my knees in a point of repentance, then something is very deeply wrong with me. Let it drive you to tears, to deep repentance. That God has been perfectly faithful to us, and yet our loyalty is divided between a little bit of Him and so much of this world. Deep repentance and grieving. I want God and I want my stuff. I want a little bit of God and I want what I want. I want to be loyal, but as long as it works for me. Let there be deep repentance. So, I don't know where you go from here, but I would imagine that some of you will need to go to your spouse or to your family and say, "It grieves me deeply that I have been disloyal. I've belittled you, I've torn you down, I've been unfaithful with my eyes, I've been unfaithful with my actions, and with the power of Christ, I will be loyal to you. Some of you, it will be your friends. I haven't been a good friend, I haven't been there for you, I haven't been praying for you, I haven't been up in your life helping you. I've been too consumed with my own life. I will be faithful with the power of the Holy Spirit, I will be a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I will be faithful. To your church, I will say the good news is that there are many of you who have been very faithful to the church. You recognize that you are the Church and I praise God for you. Many of you though, you are still just going to church. You are called to be the Church and you still think it's a place you go! And with the power of the Holy Spirit, you will become the Church and be loyal to Christ's Church for which He died! And then, some of you will have that miserable, aching feeling; "Oh God, I've been disloyal to you!" And it's okay to hurt and it's okay to cry, and it's okay to get on your face, and it's a good thing every now and then to say, "Cleanse me, change me, heal me! Because I recognize that disloyalty is a problem out in the culture, but when I look in the mirror through the Word of God, I see that disloyalty is actually a big problem for me." And with the help of the power of God, through His Holy Spirit, because of the death and resurrection of His Son, I will not have a divided heart. My heart will be sold out to Him and to Him alone. And even when I mess up, the good news is that He is still faithful and waiting and ready for me to come back and to seek Him with all of my heart. So, I'm not there yet, but the good news is, through grieving and repentance, I'm getting a little bit closer. Father I pray, I acknowledge this is a tough message and maybe even blindsides a lot of people. But God, we have to acknowledge that disloyalty is a significant issue in the culture today. So we ask God, that you would help us to see in the mirror any part of unfaithfulness in us. God, I see so much in my own life and God I don't want to live in the guilt, but I want to feel the pain for enough to push me to serious repentance before you. God I thank you that your forgiveness is real, and your healing is with us, and God I ask that you would empower us to embrace and to live, not just to proclaim, but to prove by our actions, loyalty to the people and God ultimately to you, with everything in us. As you are praying today at all of our churches, those of you who would say, "I see it, there is disloyalty in me and I want to feel it and I want to grieve, and I want to draw close to God and I want Him to change me. Would you lift up your hands right now, just lift up your hands and say, "It's me, it's me!" God, thank you for those who have hearts sensitive to your Spirit. We just recognize disloyalty even in our own lives. I pray God, your Holy Spirit would do something in us, that we would truly draw close to you and as we do, you would draw close to us and God that we would even have the blessing of seeing the impurities in our lives so that we can confess them to you and as you forgive them and as you change us, you'd make us new, God you would give us opportunities to be faithful, to be loyal, to be true, to show honor, to live with integrity. God thank you for the way you are working. I pray you would heal relationships. God, I pray that you would heal families. God, I pray that there would be mothers and sons and sons and fathers, and mothers and daughters, and brothers and sisters, and God I pray that there would be healing in relationships as we confess and as we are open and as we are true. God, I pray that we would be loyal to you, to your Word, and to your call for us as the Church in this world. As you keep praying today at all of our churches, many of you are going to recognize that you have never fully committed your life to the One who committed His life to you. Again, let me just put it as simply as I can. This is how God showed His faithfulness to you; that while we were basically totally rejecting everything He said, He sent His Son Jesus, the sinless Son of God, to live the perfect life and to become the perfect sacrifice for all of our sins. Jesus actually became sin on the cross. He shed His blood, the innocent One, the Lamb of God, shed His blood so that by the shedding of His blood, our sins could be forgiven. He died for us. On the third day, God raised Him from the dead. Now, here's what the Bible says, 'Anyone who calls on His name would be saved.' Anyone who calls on His name would be saved. Anyone who surrenders their life and says "I'm not good enough"; Jesus, be good enough, "I give my life to you." There are many of you, you are here for this moment, God brought you here. You recognize you are unfaithful to God, He's not the Lord of your life, Jesus is not the Savior of your life, you recognize you need a Savior, you need forgiveness. That's why you are here today. At all of our churches, those of you who would say, "Yes, that's me! Jesus, today I want to give you my life, I need your forgiveness, I need your grace, I need your mercy." As you call on Him, He will forgive you, He will make you new. You will be a brand new creation! That is why you are here! At all of our churches, those of you who would say, "Yes, that's me! I give my life wholly unto Him!" Would you lift your hands high right now and just say, "Yes, I surrender!" Right up here, God bless you and right back over here, others of you who would say, "Me too!" Right back here in this section. Others who would say, "Yes!" Right back over here, God bless you as well. Others call out, way back over here, "Yes, Jesus take this, take it, save me, my whole life, I surrender it to you!" At all of our churches, those of you just join your voices with those around and just pray this aloud. Pray Heavenly Father, save me from my sins. Make me brand new. I trust you to be the Lord and the Savior of my life. Thank you for new life. Jesus will now be first in every way. It's my honor to worship you with the rest of my life. In Jesus name I pray! All of our Life Churches, would you take a moment, would you worship, welcome those born into God's family today!

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Duration: 35 minutes and 20 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jul 7, 2010

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