THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 7-27-03
LESSON TITLE: LEARNING TO DRAW NEAR TO OUR GOD: “LABORING IN HIS VINEYARD”
Let me welcome each of you to our program on this beautiful Lord’s Day morning. I hope all of you are well and that you are prospering greatly, in your physical lives according to what you are giving to God spiritually. It is wonderful to be a part of God’s family and to have opportunities such as this to come before Him and learn more about what He wants of us, as well as praising His name through song. As we begin our homage to God this morning, won’t you bow with me in prayer?
Consider for a moment what it is in this life that gives us true joy and happiness! What is it that causes us to have the blessing and promises which we do from God? Our first song of the morning focuses on the one thing in our world which gives us life and even life eternal. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together the song, “Wonderful Words of Life!”
(SONG # 1)
When was the last time that person on the job did something against you? What about your neighbor who just keeps acting in a way or saying things that are not kind? Maybe you have had a run in with a family member or a loved one. Whatever the situation, let me ask you, “how did you react?”
One of the toughest lessons of Christianity is to do good to those who do bad toward us. However, we know this to be true because even Jesus dealt a lot with these same principles during His ministry. In Matthew 7:12, we read the golden rule where we are to treat others as we want to be treated. But now go back to something Jesus said earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, in chapter 5, and verse 44 of the same book. There we read, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” Did you hear the words of our Savior and Lord, the King of God’s Kingdom? He said we are to do good in return for evil.
If you go to Paul’s writing you will find the same principles presented as he no doubt was lead in these things by God. In Romans 12:21, we read, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Here again we see that we are to return good for evil not evil for evil as our society teaches. However, I think this same verse also tells us why we are to do this - the answer is so that we will not be “overcome with evil,” or “partakers ourselves of evil things.”
Doesn’t this all make good sense? When we choose to stoop to the bad level of those who do things against us we are no better than they are. We are guilty of the same sin. However, when we choose to be like Christ and react as He did - then people can truly see Jesus in us. No doubt this is why Jesus further said, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also,” Matthew 5:39.
May we never choose to be like the world and to fall into the sins of those around us who often do things against us. Instead may we also go the extra mile and learn not to strike back, so that the whole world, as well as our God will truly know we are serious about our Christianity. So, how do you react when things are done against you?
This morning, I will be leading our lesson thoughts of the day, as we conclude our study together concerning, “Learning to Draw Near To Our God.” Our specific lesson of the day is entitled, “ Laboring in His Vineyard?” So stay with us and after our next song together we will return with this study from God’s Word. Now let’s return to our singing. The name of the next hymn, “Will Your Anchor Hold.”
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Again in the text of our series, the Bible says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” James chapter 4, verse 8, the first part. Again, we are looking this morning at an important lesson, a great lesson, as we have over the past four weeks considered together those things that bring us closer and closer to God on a daily basis. We’ve able to grow a lot in looking at how the Word of God certainly is important to bring us closer to God and to cause us to draw nearer to God and to know more about God and to have Him draw near to us. As well, we were able to look together at where prayer fits into the equation and how that prayer, as we speak to God and communicate to Him, brings us closer to God as well as He giving us the Word brings Him closer to us. Furthermore, we’ve been able to see together that our examples play an important part and by having good examples then God is lifted up and people see God in us, Christ in us and therefore we encourage the world to know Him. Our talents, furthermore, play a good part because when we use those skills that God has given us, we are able to do more in His kingdom and it shows God that we love Him more and therefore He draws closer to us. And then last week we saw how priorities are important in relationship to drawing nearer to God, that the first and foremost priority of God, lover of God, that is child of God, must be to draw near to Him by putting Him first, seeking His kingdom first.
Well today again we want to learn another lesson, a final lesson if you will, in this series at least on how we can draw near to God. The way that we draw near this morning as we will see is by being those that through laboring in the vineyard of the Lord are able to draw near to God, in other words, those who are willing and ready and able to work for God.
I want you to notice with me again back in our text there in chapter 7 as we have been able to almost every week to refer to the vast amount of information, the wealth of information that is placed here in chapter 4 of James. In just these few verses there, as he first of all in verse 7 says, “Submit to God.” Submit to God in what way? In His Will. In His Word. In the things He has asked us to do through working according to His Will. So again, the very application of what we’re discussing this morning is all about submitting to God, working for God, doing what the Bible says, putting it in action.
Then as we also look in verse 8, the latter part, after we see that we are to draw near so He will draw near to us, tells us that “we are to purify ourselves to get the sin out of our lives.” Another work that we can do for a child of God. So certainly in this passage as well as in others that we will see this morning, there are many great privileges and opportunities that we have as Christians to be able to draw near to God by being those who labor in His vineyard, His kingdom if you will, by doing those things that He’s asked us through His Word, so that we might truly be well equipped ourselves to show the world, to show God, to show everyone that we come in contact with how much we love God by our fruits. Isn’t that what the book of Matthew says in Matthew 7 that ”it’s by our fruits that we are known.” People know if we love God and if we are followers of God by the things that we do, by the works that we are involved in.
Furthermore, the Bible tells us that “someday we will be judged by those things that we do and by those things that we say,” as he says there in the book of John, chapter 12.
Furthermore, as he tells us that “all that we do must be done, whether in be word or deed, in the name of Jesus.” So again, everything that we do, all the works that we’re involved in certainly are for God and to His glory and according to His Will.
I want you to look with me beginning this morning in the book of Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 and verses 9 and 10 we see here the lesson that we’re talking about today as really we see people here who were workers and servers of God. But what was it that they had to do to become such? Verse 9 says there, again 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, “For they themselves declared concerning us what manner of entry we had to use and how you turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait from His son from heaven whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come.” Here we find again a lot of information in relationship to the fact that as followers of God we have put away all of those old things. We have become workers in the kingdom of God according to His Will and we have done it by putting away those things behind. The same thing we see in James chapter 4, the same idea of putting away sin, the old man, the things that are improper, and here focusing on those things that are true or right or proper before God.
But here in verse 10 he goes on to say, “The reward that we have until Jesus comes, until He receives us home and takes us home.” We have work to do. We have things to accomplish. We have things that we have certainly must show ourselves worthy and according to the Will of God to again show that we are worthy workers, that we are servants, that we have been purchased by the blood of Christ, that we are willing to labor in the kingdom, we are able to accomplish the good work that has been set before us. So again as we work and we show God that we love Him through our fruits, through our labor, then He draws closer to us. He blesses us more. He helps us more. He loves us more. On and on and on we could go about when how that we do our part certainly God furthermore plays His.
Let me again remind you though that God doesn’t say it’s our turn to start first. He doesn’t say, “Well you do it first and then I’ll do it.” I remember growing up as my sisters and stuff they would do things to me and I always wanted to do it back. God doesn’t say that. God says, “I have already shown you my love through my Son and here’s the deal, if you will do my Will and you will follow the things that I have asked you to follow, and then you’ll turn around and you’ll do those things that are in my Word,” He says, “I’m going to bless you even more.” He says, “I have done my part. You do your part. And I’m going to do even more.” So that’s what God says. If we love our neighbor, if we work, if we accomplish those things again that He has asked of us, not those things of the world again, but those things that He says are of and from Him, not those riches and maybe pleasures that we find here on earth, but again those things that are spiritual in nature, good and godly and wholesome. That’s what God wants of us. That’s what our God expects of us and that’s why He tries to help us to learn the great lesson of drawing near to Him by laboring in His vineyard, by learning what He wants us to do as we’ve already seen in our series, by knowing the things that He has said we must do, by understanding the good things that we will receive and the consequences if we don’t, and then finally by being those who, as we’ve already seen today, are workers in those things that he has shown us to be right, to be good, to be right and wholesome in relationship to His Word.
But let us focus for a few moments on the life of service, that concept of… There’s so many different words in the New Testament that really show us this concept of work, serving God, doing something for others, accomplishing those things again that were good and righteous. So many times we see the apostles and Christians of the New Testament doing those things again that were good and right, those things that were perfect, those things that were according to His Will. We find that when they were doing these things that certainly God was pleased. They were serving God. Well certainly again that’s what God wants of us today as we serve a true and a living God, He asks us that we will be those who focus on Him through our faith. You know it’s impossible to please God without faith. So certainly we want people to see our faith. Well how is it in Hebrews 11 that they were noticed as those of great faith? Why was it that those who were there in Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter, why were they chosen out of all in the Bible to be in that great faith chapter? Because of their works. Because of what they were doing. That’s what James said in James chapter 2, “You show me your faith without works and I’ll show you my faith by my works.” In other words, the proof is in the pudding. I can go around all day long talking about how great I am and wonderful I am or how I do so much for God or I love Jesus, but until people see it, is it worth anything? Until God is able to see through my efforts and my labors that certainly it is true, is it really worth anything? Well, I think that certainly we have to show, show God, show the world, show through our fruits again as we’ve seen from the beginning of this lesson that truly we love our God.
Another familiar verse that you’ll recognize is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. If you have your Bibles, I’ll ask you to turn there. In chapter 15, verse 58 again we find here a very, very important lesson in relationship to how often we are to do the work of the Lord. I want you to notice there what it says in verse 58. Paul says to the Corinthians, “Therefore, my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” There we have it again, he says, “Always abounding…” in what? In work. In the work of what? What work? The work of the Lord. As Christians it should be our goal to as often as possible to always abound, accomplish, to strive to do the work of the Lord. If you’ll notice there that if we do that, the same verse very beautifully puts the concept that “then our labor will not be in vain.” Do you notice the need for labor? That we can actually work and labor and it will be in vain. There has to be the other side if he says here “it won’t be in vain.” But what is it that makes it not to be in vain? Because we are focused on always abounding, always being fruitful in the work of the Lord, at every chance, at every opportunity. That means that when we open our mouths, that we use them as instruments that abound and show the love of God through the works and labors of our mouths. And when we go through our actions everyday, whether it be at work or school or wherever it might be, even in the store, that again through our actions and our labors, the works that we’re involved in, even secular works, that again through our actions we show that our work is all about God, that our action is all about God, that our words are all about God, and then in these things again we see that our labor is not in vain, because it’s focused on the right thing, that is God, and it’s focused on His Will and His Work. Therefore again, laboring in the vineyard, seeking the Kingdom of God first. “Blessed are those that work.”
We’ve mentioned James a lot today and how that James talks about faith and the need to do work and how that he was the one that said we needed to draw near to God, but even further if you look back in the book of James chapter 1, we find again where he finds really through God’s revelation that work is a great blessing to those who are followers in His Kingdom. In James chapter 1, verse 25 we read, “But he who looks in the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” Notice again all the things he says here. The one who looks into the law of liberty. There’s no other perfect law that I know of other than God’s law. That’s the word that he gave us here. When we look into the perfect law of liberty and we continue in it. One who is a doer, a doer of the Word. Notice there as he says not even a doer of the Word, but a doer of the work, not a forgetful hearer, one who hears and doesn’t do it. He says the way that God knows and the world knows that we have studied the Word of God that we hear the Word of God, the perfect law of liberty, and that we have taken it in is when they see it in action. That’s what he’s talking about here. Not just one that takes it in one ear and let’s it go out the other, but one who shows it in action, shows that you’ve learned and that you’ve put it into practice, that we have practiced what we preach. So when we labor in the vineyard, when we work in the vineyard, the kingdom of God, then it needs to be something that is visible, something that truly shows the world that we are His servants, that we are His children, that we are willing to get out there as we see Jesus saying in Matthew 25, that we are willing to help the poor and the needy and when someone asks us something, we do it to the glory of God, whether we sometimes feel they need it or they deserve it. That’s not our job. Our job is to help, to accomplish what we can according to the Will of God to His glory because in the last day, I don’t know about you but I don’t want God asking me or someone standing next to me asking, “Why didn’t you give me that cup of water that I really needed?” Well God says again to visit those in prison. Help those who are sick and needy. If someone asks for a drink, give them a drink. “When you do it, you’ve done it in my name,” Jesus said. So again, labor, the labors of God are not in vain when they are done according to His Will.
The concept again of servitude is seen over and over and over and how that as we are servants of God that really we are slaves in the work. In other words, if a master has a slave, it’s someone who really has control and does work and does accomplish those things that the master has asked and he does so because he is owned. He is one that has been purchased with a price. The same is true about our God. God has paid the price with the blood of His son and we have been purchased and through our obedience we now have in a sense succumbed to and given ourselves over to by choice again to slavery, slavery before God in order that we might be what? Be servants. In order that we might be those individuals who are serving as Jesus came to serve.
I’d like to end, if you will, with me this morning in the book of Matthew and we’re going to look briefly at chapter 20. In Matthew chapter 20, Jesus here talks about a master, a master who has a vineyard. He talks about how that one day he needed some workers and he goes out and he hires someone and throughout the day he finds others and he hires more and he says, “I will give you a denarius if you’ll work for me today.” All through the day he tells people this and at the end of the day, it’s time to give out the money. As they all come, they each get a denarius. It didn’t matter whether they were working eight hours or one hour, they all got the same amount because that was the agreement. A lot of people were upset about that. But what Jesus was trying to say about that is, “Look, I’ve got work to be done. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a Christian fifty years or one year. I’m offering you the same promise, the same blessing.” You know the Jews didn’t like that that others had the same blessing. “We’re the chosen people,” they thought. Well sometimes we don’t like that, but the blessing is for all man. Let’s teach people about the work of the Lord, the things that are before us so that they might share and reap in the same things.
I love what it says in verse 14. He says, “Take what is yours and go your way. I wish you give you the last man the same thing as to all.” He says, “I want to give the last the same as I’ve given to everyone so that you might be counted equal before Me.”
You know that’s what God feels about us? We are all equal. We are all the same no matter who we are, He loves us. He loves us why? Because in the Kingdom of God as His servants, we’re laborers, and we show that through our lives that we love Him by keeping His commandments and doing those works that He has asked us to do. “When we keep those commands,” as John says there recording the words of Jesus in John 14:15, “that’s how He knows that we love Him.” That’s how people know that we are His disciples. When they see His works in us.
Are you willing to be a laborer in the kingdom of God? Are you willing to draw near to God by doing those works that He asked you to do. If you are, why not choose to do what is necessary to always show God that truly you love Him and that you’re going to do everything necessary in your life to accomplish His Will?
(SONG # 3 - “Let Him Have His Way!”)
It was certainly great to have you with us today. Thanks be to God for this opportunity we have had to come before His throne this morning. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we join together in this service to God.
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Isn’t it great to know that the more we do for God and live according to His Will, the more He is there for us. May we always do those things necessary to draw nearer to our Creator, so that He Will ever draw near to us.