Looking

IT WAS A COOL CLEAR MORNING.

BUT NOT FOR LONG.

YOU SEE IN THE DESERT THE MORNINGS ARE GENERALLY COOL,

BUT WHEN THE SUN COMES UP IT GETS HOT. REAL HOT.

ELI STOOD WITH A COUPLE OF OTHER MEN IN THE TOWN'S SHAPE UP AREA. IF A MAN WAS GOING TO WORK, THIS WAS THE PLACE TO BE.

THE PROBLEM WAS, THERE WAS NOT TOO MUCH WORK TO BE HAD THESE DAYS. AND SO ELI STOOD THERE: PATIENT, WORRIED, HOPING THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO GET WORK THIS DAY.

IT HAD BEEN MORE THAN A WEEK SINCE ELI HAD WORKED.

ELI HAD A NEW LITTLE BOY. THE FOOD SUPPLY WAS GETTING LOW AT HOME. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, HE WAS BEGINNING TO FEEL DESPERATE. FOR TEN YEARS HE HAD WORKED AS A LABORER AND IT HAD NEVER BEFORE BEEN THIS BAD.

WAIT A MINUTE! OFF IN THE DISTANCE ELI COULD SEE DUST RISING FROM THE ROAD. COMING HIS WAY. HE KEPT HIS EYES RIVETED ON THE DUST. PRETTY SOON HE COULD SEE THAT IT WAS A WORK WAGON. A REAL BIG ONE.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DAYS ELI SMILED. IT LOOKED LIKE HE WOULD FINALLY GET TO WORK.

THE MAN DRIVING THE WORK WAGON HIRED ELI AND THE FEW OTHERS AT THE SHAPE UP. EVERYONE WHO WAS THERE, GOT HIRED.

GOOD MONEY TOO, $100. THE GOING WAGE.

WHEN ELI GOT TO THE FARM HE WAS AMAZED. THERE WAS A TON OF WORK TO DO. THREE WEEKS! GOOD THING HE GOT UP EARLY. EVERY MORNING, WHETHER HE KNEW THERE WAS WORK OR NOT HE GOT UP BEFORE DAWN AND WENT TO THE SHAPE UP AREA. THE LAZY FELLOWS WHO WERE STILL SLEEPING ARE GOING TO MISS THIS WORK. THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE LAZY!

BUT AFTER ABOUT THREE HOURS ELI NOTICED THE WORK WAGON HEAD BACK TO TOWN. HE DIDN'T KNOW WHY. BUT, PRETTY SOON HE FOUND OUT. A NEW GROUP OF WORKERS CAME RIDING UP.

ELI DECIDED THAT WASN'T TOO BAD BECAUSE THEIR WAS STILL PLENTY OF WORK FOR ALL. TWO WEEKS

BUT THEN THREE HOURS LATER THE WAGON LEFT AGAIN AND RETURNED WITH MORE WORKERS. ELI DIDN'T LOOK TOO HAPPY. ONE WEEK

THEN THREE HOURS LATER, AFTER ELI HAD BEEN WORKING FOR NINE HOT DUSTY HOURS THE WAGON LEFT AGAIN AND RETURNED WITH MORE WORKERS.

ELI RECOGNIZED THESE GUYS WHO HAD COME IN THE LAST WAGON LOAD. THEY WERE WORTHLESS, LAZY FELLOWS. ABOUT THE ONLY TIME THEY WORKED WAS WHEN THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANYTHING MORE FUN TO DO. OR WHEN WORK WAGONS WOULD ACCIDENTALLY RUN OVER THEM.

SO MANY WORKERS WAS NOT GOOD. AFRAID FINISH THAT DAY.

THEN, UNBELIEVABLY, THREE HOURS LATER THE WORK WAGON LEFT AGAIN. THIS TIME IT BROUGHT BACK, HARRY, THE TOWN DRUNK AND A FEW OTHER FELLOWS THAT ELI HAD NEVER EVER SEEN WORKING.

THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. ELI HAD BEEN WORKING ELEVEN HOURS IN THE HEAT AND THE DUST AND ONLY ONE HOUR REMAINED UNTIL DARK.

THE WAGON DROPPED OFF HARRY AND THE OTHERS.

INSTEAD OF HAVING WORK FOR DAYS, ALL THE PEOPLE THAT HAD BEEN BROUGHT WERE GOING TO FINISH UP THE WORK THAT DAY!

IN AN HOUR IT GOT DARK. ELI WAS BONE TIRED AND REALLY DIRTY. IT LOOKED LIKE HARRY, THE TOWN DRUNK, HAD NOT EVEN GOTTEN OUT OF THE TOOL SHED YET. WHAT A WASTE! WHY PICK THAT GUY UP WHEN HE OBVIOUSLY WAS NOT GOING TO GET PAID FOR DOING ANY WORK?

ELI PICKED TOOLS, WENT OWNER, GOT PAID WHAT PROMISED: $100.00.

THAT WOULD HELP THE FOOD SUPPLY. JUST WISHED HAD THREE WEEKS.

WHILE HE WAS WAITING AROUND FOR THE WAGON TO TAKE HIM BACK TO TOWN, HE NOTICED HARRY WALKING ALONG WITH A $100 BILL IN HIS HAND.

WHAT! ELI HAD WORKED ALL DAY. OF ALL THE OUTRAGEOUS THINGS. UNBELIEVABLE. WHAT DID THE MAN THINK HE GOT UP SO EARLY FOR? HARRY HAD BARELY STUMBLED OUT OF THE WAGON! HADN'T CLEARED THE TOOLSHED YET!

ELI, WAS SEETHING! HE WAS GOING TO SEE THE OWNER ABOUT THIS!

LETS LISTEN IN ON THE CONVERSATION BY TURNING TO MATT 20:12-15.

------------

LET ME ASK YOU YOU'VE HEARD ELI'S SIDE AND THE OWNER'S SIDE: WAS THIS FAIR? YOU ARE UNDECIDED?

LETS BRING CLOSER TO MANASSAS: ASSUME THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DECIDES THAT THE TRAFFIC CONGESTION IS JUST TOO TERRIBLE AROUND HERE. IN ORDER TO CUT DOWN ON RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC, IT WILL JUGGLE HOURS. PEOPLE WILL WORK ONE HOUR A DAY FOR EACH LETTER THEY HAVE IN THEIR LAST NAME- -NOT TO EXCEED YOUR CURRENT HOURS. SAME PAY AS ALWAYS--JUST DIFFERENT HOURS.

THE FOX FAMILY WOULD BE DELIGHTED,

THE GOLDENBERGS AND THE BLANKENSHIPS WOULD BE OUTRAGED.

WOULD THERE BE GRIPING AND LAWSUITS? YOU BET!

IT IS JUST NOT FAIR!

THIS MORNING I WANT TO SUGGEST TO YOU THAT THIS UNFAIR STORY ABOUT ELI AND SURROUNDING HAS FOUR IMPORTANT LESSONS FOR US.

1. DON'T LOOK DOWN

2. DON'T LOOK UP

3. DON'T LOOK OUT

4. DON'T LOOK AROUND

PREPOSITION SERMON?

1. LOOK WITH ME AT THE CONTEXT IN WHICH JESUS TOLD THIS PARABLE TO HIS DISCIPLES. IN MATT 19, THE IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING CHPT., THE RICH YOUNG RULER COMES TO JESUS LOOKING FOR ETERNAL LIFE. OR MAYBE JUST REASSURANCE THAT HE DESERVED ETERNAL LIFE.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE STORY? ASKED. COMMANDS. WHICH ONES? I'VE DONE THAT.

HE TOLD JESUS THAT HE DID ALL THERE WAS TO DO TO GET ETERNAL LIFE.

AND WHAT DID JESUS TELL HIM? HE SAID TO SELL ALL THAT YOU HAVE AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR.

THE RYR RESPONDS, THROUGH HIS ACTIONS: "NO. CAN'T DO THAT." v. 22 SAYS "HE WENT AWAY SAD BECAUSE HE HAD GREAT WEALTH."

THAT REFUSAL CAUSES JESUS TO TELL HIS DISCIPLES (IN v.23) THAT IT IS TOUGH FOR A RICH MAN TO ENTER HEAVEN.

THEY WERE SHOCKED. v. 25 "WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED?" IF ANYBODY WAS GOING TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, IT WAS GOING TO BE THE RICH BECAUSE THEY WERE OBVIOUSLY BLESSED BY THE LORD! OBVIOUSLY!

IN THE SABBATH SCHOOL CLASS WE JUST GOT THROUGH STUDYING THE BOOK OF PROVERBS. THAT BOOK SURE SUGGESTS THAT IF YOU ARE DILIGENT, OBEDIENT AND WISE YOU WILL HAVE MATERIAL BLESSINGS.

WHY THEN, WOULD GOD, AS A REWARD FOR OBEDIENCE GIVE YOU SOMETHING THAT WOULD MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO BE SAVED?

I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION. BUT I DO KNOW THIS. JESUS SAID THERE IS NO POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WEALTH AND SALVATION. IF ANYTHING, THE RELATIONSHIP IS INVERSE. THE WEALTHIER YOU ARE, THE LESS LIKELY IT IS THAT YOU WILL BE SAVED.

AND THAT FRIENDS IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE, DON'T LOOK DOWN. IF YOU HAVE WEALTH, POSITION, AUTHORITY,

IF YOUR TALENTS OR POSSESSIONS OR APPEARANCE CAUSES YOU TO THINK THAT YOU ARE BETTER THAN SOMEONE ELSE,

AND YOU ARE LOOKING DOWN ON THOSE AROUND YOU BECAUSE THE LORD HAS SPECIALLY BLESSED YOU, BEWARE!

DON'T LOOK DOWN

LETS LOOK AT WHAT PETER HAD TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS. CONTINUE WITH ME TO v.27. READ.

DO YOU SEE THE PICTURE? PETER RECOVERED FROM THE SHOCK OF LEARNING THAT BEING RICH MADE IT TOUGH TO GET INTO HEAVEN.

DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY THE DISCIPLES WERE SHOCKED AT THIS?

THEY HAD GIVEN UP EVERYTHING PETER SAYS. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THEY DID NOT SEE THAT GIVING UP THEIR STUFF TO FOLLOW JESUS WAS SOMETHING GOOD? I THINK THAT IS THE CASE.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE TIMES THAT THE DISCIPLES ARGUED AMONG THEMSELVES ABOUT WHO WOULD BE FIRST. THINK ABOUT THE LAST TIME THAT JESUS SAW THEM ON EARTH AFTER HIS RESURRECTION. AS HE IS ABOUT TO RISE UP INTO THE CLOUDS ACTS 1:6 RECORDS THAT THEY ASKED HIM IF HE WAS GOING TO SET UP HIS KINGDOM THEN.

THE DISCIPLES NO DOUBT THOUGHT THAT WHEN JESUS OVERTHREW THE ROMANS AND SET UP HIS KINGDOM IN ISRAEL, THEY WOULD BE THE "TOP MEN"--AND THAT WOULD BRING THEM WEALTH AND INFLUENCE: AND SO THEY TOO WOULD GO TO HEAVEN.

THEY WERE DRAGGING AROUND POOR NOW IN HOPE OF A RICH FUTURE.

ISN'T THAT LIKE SO MANY OF US TODAY? MATERIAL SUCCESS IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER, JUST AHEAD, JUST SOMEWHERE "UP THERE!"

JESUS AMAZED PETER BY TELLING HIM, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE RICH."

BE CONTENT WITH YOU MATERIAL POSSESSIONS. AND SO WE HAVE OUR SECOND POINT: DON'T LOOK UP.

THIS WHOLE CONVERSATION BETWEEN JESUS AND THE RYR MADE PETER RECONSIDER: POOR WAS GOOD: SPIRITUALLY

SO A GREAT BIG LIGHT BULB TURNED ON IN HIS HEAD: HE WAS POOR! HE HAD GIVEN UP EVERYTHING, SO HE WAS OBVIOUSLY GOING TO GET SOMETHING FOR HIS WORK!

RIGHT, JESUS?

(I GUESS PETER DIDN'T NOTICE THAT HE WAS MISSING THE BOAT AGAIN. THAT HE SOUNDED A LOT LIKE THE RYR. WE HAVE DONE ALL THESE THINGS, WHAT DO WE GET FOR OUR WORK?)

JESUS TELLS PETER AND THE OTHER DISCIPLES THAT THEY WILL BE REWARDED, BUT THEN HE IMMEDIATELY LAUNCHES INTO OUR STORY ABOUT ELI.

THE BOTTOM LINE IN THAT STORY IS THAT ALL THE MEN GOT PAID THE SAME AS LONG AS THEY WERE WILLING TO WHAT?

GET ON THE WORK WAGON! PETER AND THE DISCIPLES HAD WORKED LONG AND THEY HAD WORKED HARD.

THEY WERE GOING TO BE WORKING LONG AND HARD FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.

BUT JESUS TELLS THEM THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE. PETER'S BRAIN STORM WAS THAT WOULD BE REWARDED BECAUSE THEY GAVE UP EVERYTHING, AND THE RYR DID NOT. BUT JESUS SAYS, "NO." WILLINGNESS TO WORK. MOTIVE, ATTITUDE ARE WHAT GET YOU SAVED. NOT HOW

HARD, OR LONG, OR SKILLFULLY YOU WORK.

IT IS YOUR MOTIVE THAT MEANS EVERYTHING.

SO OUR THIRD POINT: DON'T LOOK OUT, LOOK AT YOUR HEART. DON'T RELY ON HOW LONG YOU WORK: LOOK AT YOUR MOTIVE. EXAMINE YOUR HEART.

AND THAT PUTS US RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FOURTH AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE:

DON'T LOOK AROUND.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, THE DISCIPLES DID NOT HAVE THE PROBLEM OF THE RICH YOUNG RULER. THEY HAD CHOSEN JESUS. THEY HAD BEEN WILLING TO GIVE UP ALL.

THE REAL TEST FOR THEM WOULD BE WHETHER THEY WERE WILLING TO LET GOD BE GENEROUS.

LET ME EXPLAIN. IMAGINE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN STANDING IN LINE FOR HOURS, IN THE RAIN AND COLD TO GET TICKETS TO A REDSKINS FOOTBALL GAME.. ALL OF A SUDDEN, SOMEONE IS ESCORTED BY A SECURITY GUARD TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE AND THAT PERSON BUYS THE SAME KIND OF TICKETS THAT YOU ARE GETTING, AND PAYS LESS! ARE YOU UPSET OR WHAT?

THAT IS THE STORY OF ELI. THAT IS THE STORY OF THE GOVERNMENT LETTING CHESTER FOX WORK THREE HOURS A DAY. THAT IS THE STORY OF SALVATION.

WHEN IT COMES TO SALVATION, WE MUST NOT LOOK AROUND, WE MUST ONLY LOOK AT JESUS. WE NEVER DESERVED TO BE SAVED. AND SO IF HE SAVES SOMEONE WHO DESERVES EVEN LESS THAN WE DO TO BE SAVED,

WHO ARE WE TO COMPLAIN? IF LIFE WERE FAIR, WE WOULDN'T BE SAVED EITHER.

YOU KNOW THIS PRINCIPLE. THIS IS OLD STUFF, RIGHT?

LET ME BRING IT A LITTLE CLOSER TO HOME. WHEN I TALK TO YOU ABOUT SALVATION, THE IDEA IS PRETTY ABSTRACT BECAUSE NO ONE HERE IS IN HEAVEN YET. YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN PAID THE $100.00 IN THE STORY AND YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN THOSE REDSKIN TICKETS YET. WHEN YOU GET TO HEAVEN IT WILL BE TIME ENOUGH TO GET UPSET ABOUT THOSE WHO CUT IN LINE, WHO GOT IN CHEAP.

I BELIEVE THE PARABLE OF THE WORKERS HAS A MESSAGE FOR US HERE AND NOW.

HOW MANY TIMES WHEN WE ARE HAVING A PROBLEM DO WE LOOK AROUND AT OTHERS AND SAY, "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?" "WHY IS SO-AND-SO NEVER HAVING ANY PROBLEMS?" "WHY IS GOD BEING SO UNFAIR BY LETTING THIS HAPPEN TO ME?"

OR IF SOMEONE ELSE IS GETTING PRAISE AND GLORY, WE SAY, "WHY NOT ME?" "I WORKED HARDER, I DO BETTER, WHY SHOULD THIS PERSON GET PRAISED

OR PROMOTED

OR AWARDED?

INSTEAD OF ME??

TURN WITH ME TO JOHN CHPT. 21--ITS THE LAST CHPT OF JOHN. LET ME SET THE STAGE FOR YOU:

JESUS HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED, AND RAISED FROM THE DEAD. HE HAS APPEARED TO HIS DISCIPLES TWICE BEFORE. THIS IS THE LAST TIME THAT HE IS RECORDED IN JOHN AS HAVING APPEARED TO HIS DISCIPLES. JESUS APPROACHES PETER AND ASKS HIM, "DO YOU LOVE ME?" AND PETER SAYS "YES."

THREE TIMES JESUS ASKS PETER, "DO YOU LOVE ME?" AND THREE TIMES PETER SAYS, "YES LORD, YOU KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU!"

READ v18-19. JESUS TELLS PETER THAT HE IS GOING TO DIE FOR HIM--AND HE IS GOING TO DIE IN AN UNPLEASANT WAY.

LETS READ ON: JOHN 21:20-21. WHAT IS PETER DOING HERE? HE IS, ONCE AGAIN, LOOKING AROUND. PETER ASSUMES, LIKE US, THAT FROM HIS FUTURE HE CAN CONCLUDE THAT THE DISCIPLES WILL DIE POORLY. SO HE ASKS ABOUT JOHN. HOW WILL HE DIE?

JESUS SAYS TO PETER VERY MUCH THE SAME AS THE AS THE OWNER SAID TO ELI. READ 22. JESUS SAYS, "HEY, IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS IF JOHN NEVER DIES." "YOU FOLLOW ME!"

WAS JESUS BEING UNFAIR TO PETER? WAS HE ASKING TOO MUCH OF PETER? HE WAS ASKING A LOT--BUT NOT A BIT MORE THAN PETER HAD OFFERED. IF YOU REMEMBER BACK IN JOHN 13 (BEFORE CRUCIFIXION) JESUS TELLS HIS DISCIPLES THAT HE IS LEAVING, AND PETER SAYS HE WANTS TO GO ALONG. PETER SAYS, "I WANT TO GO" AND HE TELLS JESUS THAT HE CAN COME ALONG BECAUSE HIS IS WILLING TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR JESUS. IN RESPONSE JESUS TELLS HIM THAT HE WILL DENY HIM THREE TIMES.

THREE TIMES PETER DENIED JESUS AND THREE TIMES JESUS SAYS, "DO YOU LOVE ME?" WITHOUT DOUBT PETER IS STILL WILLING TO GIVE UP HIS LIFE. PROBABLY MORE WILLING BECAUSE HE HAD LET JESUS DOWN. AND HE WANTS TO PROVE HIS LOVE.

BUT HE WANTED TO LOOK AROUND.

WHEN IT COMES TO LIFE, JUST LIKE WITH SALVATION, WE MUST KEEP OUR EYE ON JESUS ONLY. WE CANNOT LOOK AROUND.

WHEN YOU CONTRAST THE DIFFICULTIES OF YOUR LIFE, OR YOUR HUMBLE CIRCUMSTANCES WITH JESUS' DIFFICULTIES AND CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU HAVE A GREAT DEAL TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

WE CANNOT LOOK DOWN

WE CANNOT LOOK UP

WE CANNOT LOOK OUT

WE CANNOT LOOK AROUND

WE NEED TO LOOK TO CHRIST.

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