BUILDING A LIFE OF COMMITMENT
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV)
Sunday, September 15, 2013
# 4 in a series of 6
Speaking of the ancient Israelites at the end of a long war, the Bible says: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” It sounds like making commitments pays off. The sad thing is that our culture seems to lead people to be more and more reluctant to make long-term commitments. We have become a disposable culture…We don’t want to be committed to anything…We don’t want to commit to a long-term job…a long-term marriage…Long term investments…We don’t want to commit to a church…We don’t want to commit to anything. The attitude is: “I want to keep my options open. I don’t want to be tied down. I don’t want to commit to anything because life is a buffet and I don’t want to get to the end and say, `Oh, I filled my plate up with the wrong stuff!'” That’s really sad because the fact is: you can’t live without making commitments. You can’t buy a house without making a commitment…You can’t get married without making a commitment…You can’t even get a cell phone without making a commitment…Nothing great ever happens without making commitments. Today I want us to think about “Building a Life of Commitment.” I want us to look at what the Bible says about the power of commitment, the price of commitment, and what it takes to make a commitment.
Let us pray…
Lord, we come to your Word today seeking to understand what it means to be fully committed to you and your plan for us. Help us to listen today by taking away anything that would distract us from you. We come in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The things I commit myself to show three things about me…
1. My commitments show my values.
They show what I really think is important. I may say something is important to me, but the way I commit my time and my money shows what is really important. I may say, for instance, that my family is important to me. But if I commit all my time to my work, and none of my time is committed to my family, it shows what’s really important. If I say my health is important to me, but I don’t commit any of my time to taking care of myself, then it means that my health is not really important to me.
2. My commitments shape my life.
I become whatever I’m committed to. If I believe that making money is the most important thing in life, then my life is going to be shaped by that. If I believe that being well liked and being popular is important, then my life is going to be shaped by that. If I think that having a good time is the most important thing in life, then my life will be shaped by that.
3. My commitments determine my destiny.
The destiny of a nation is determined by the commitments the people make. The very fact that we have the freedom to talk and pray and worship like this is because somebody bought our freedom for a price. The commitments that you and I make not only determine what we do now, they also determine our eternity. We talked about this last week. Life here on earth is brief compared to the years you’re going to spend in eternity. If you develop a relationship with Christ, you’re going to spend eternity with him and your rewards and responsibilities are going to be based on how you used your life here on earth. That involves commitment. When you make a commitment to something you’re choosing to make a particular investment of your time and your resources…Every choice has a consequence. Even the most insignificant choices add up and every choice involves your time and resources…Ultimately, they all influence your eternity.
Of course the most important commitment you’re going to make is your commitment to Jesus Christ. And Jesus is very up front about the costs of making this commitment. In Luke 14:26, he says, “If you want to be my followers you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” Jesus has to be first place in your life…you’ve got to love him more than your parents, your husband, your wife, your kids, more than your own life. The thing is: Jesus has a right to ask this of us. As God he created you…He has a plan for you…He died on the cross for you. Nobody else can claim those three things. I think he has a right to demand first place in your life.” If Jesus Christ is not Lord of all in your life, he’s not Lord at all in your life.
There are four practical ways to put God first in your life:
1. GIVE CHRIST THE FIRST THOUGHTS OF EACH DAY.
Psalm 5:3 says “Each morning I will look to you in heaven and lay my requests before you.” I’m not saying, when you get up in the morning the first thing you have to do is sit down, read your Bible and have a quiet time and pray – that’s not a bad idea, but it may not be practical for everyone. What I am saying is, before you get out of bed in the morning, you ought to think about talking to God, even before you roll out of bed, “Good morning, Lord!” Here’s a little secret to help you have a good day: Talk to God before you talk to anybody else each day. Read the Good News before you read the bad news in the paper. It will help you keep everything in focus and realize who’s in charge.
It’s no surprise that so many people are stressed out and negative. They get up in the morning to an ALARM clock…so they wake up alarmed! Then they turn on Bad Morning, America to hear about all the people who got murdered and the international conflict that’s going on. On the way to work they listen to more bad news on the radio as they navigate the orange cones and traffic jams. Then they wonder, “Why do I feel so bad when I get to work?” It’s because of this constant diet of negative junk and bad news. Let your first thoughts each day be of God and the rest of your day will be a picnic!
2. GIVE HIM THE FIRST DAY OF EVERY WEEK.
Acts 20:7 says – “On the first day of the week, the disciples came together.”
They gathered to worship. There are two reasons Christians worship on Sundays…
1. Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Sunday. So, in a way, we celebrate Easter every Sunday.
2. Because it’s the first day of the week…we want to give God the first thought of every day and the first day of every week. It is “The Lord’s Day”.
In Jewish tradition and in the Bible, the new day actually starts at sunset the night before. So technically, if you really want to be spiritual you need to come to Saturday night service. So, when we start holding service on Saturday evenings at sunset, you can really get back to your biblical roots.
3. GIVE HIM THE FIRST TEN PERCENT OF EVERY PAYCHECK.
The Bible says in Proverbs 3:9 “Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income.” That’s called tithing and you’ve heard about it so much that you just can’t stand another sermon on the subject! Let’s get this part over with quickly then…One of the ways we show that God is first place in our life is to give him the first ten percent right off the top…Not after you’ve paid all the bills – God gets his first. It’s important to remember that we do not give to God because God needs the money; nor do we give because the church budget needs to be funded…The reason we tithe is because God has told us to offer him the first and best of the fruits of our labor in gratitude for what he has already done and in faith for what he will do.
Tithing is much less about the money you give than it is about your faithful willingness to obey God and give as we are instructed in the Bible. If God is really first in your life, he is going to be first in your time and first in your checkbook. Every time I get a paycheck and give my tithe back to God, it’s saying: “God, you’re first.” That’s the purpose of tithing, to teach me to put God first. Tithing is when I give to the Lord as an act of worship. An act of worship is: “God, here’s my offering to you. Use it any way you want to.”
4. GIVE HIM THE FIRST CONSIDERATION IN EVERY DECISION.
Proverbs 3:5-6, “In everything [circle “everything”] you do, put God first and he will direct you and [here’s the promise] crown your efforts with success.” Do you want to be successful? Then you need to memorize that verse and do it. Put God first in every area and he will crown your efforts with success. Do you want your finances to be successful? Put God first in them. Do you want your business to be successful? Put God first in it. Do you want your family to be successful? Put God first in it. It’s as simple as that!
What kind of commitment, what kind of life are you going to live? A half committed life, an uncommitted life? The problem I see in most people today is that they are over committed. They make half-hearted commitments to twenty different things, rather than total commitment to the one thing that really matters in life…why they were put on this earth. Some of you need to slack off some of your commitments so that the most important commitment really does become the most important commitment.
Henry Varley once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do in and through and for the person who is totally committed to Christ.”
Look at the very first verse on your outline. “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”
God is looking for people to use in this world…God is looking for people to bless in this world and the only qualification is a fully committed heart.
Romans 6:13 – “…give yourselves completely to God—every part of you—to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes.”
I want to challenge you to become a person of deep commitment in a shallow, superficial world where people don’t understand commitment past Saturday, much less commitment for eternity…It’s a decision you will never regret. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.