FOLLOW ME SERIES – MESSAGE # 3
Matthew 10;28 ff
Originally preached September 11, 2011
Rev. Jeremy Stopford, Retired Pastor
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?
And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Therefore whoever confesses Me before men,
him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. vs. 28-32
There are many times you can communicate much when you ask a simple question which starts with, “where were you when…”.
For example, “Where were you when the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon on July 20, 1969?” “Where were you when JFK was shot?”. “Where were you when Nixon resigned?”. “Where were you when you heard that Elvis died?”.
And…”where were you on 9/11/2001?”. Most of us have an answer.
ILLUSTRATION: The birth of a 9/11 baby
Here are “Reflections from a new father” as given by David Skidmore, a youth pastor whose daughter was born on, you guessed it, 9/11/2001:
“I have looked forward to writing this article for…oh…about nine months, and I had hoped that they would be joyous words devoted totally to my gratitude to the Father for bestowing the same title upon me…again. Indeed, I am thankful that Anna Belle Skidmore was born on September 11, 2001 (7 lbs., 13 oz. and 20 inches long with red hair and blue eyes like her sister), but my heart is heavy that as our family added a member, so many lost those whom they had brought into this world. The world Anna Belle was welcomed into is a different world than the one that awaited her one day earlier, but I have to reflect on the words of the doctor as she held my daughter in the air for her first unaided breath as a TV over our bed told of the unfolding drama, horror, and tragedy. She turned to everyone in the room and said, “May this child be a reminder of who is really in control of our world.”…
“On the way to the church to write these words, I heard the “Star Spangled Banner” being played on the radio. On either side of the road were flags hung by the doors of several houses — one even hand drawn by a child, but I have to trust that it is not only the flag to which we gained a greater allegiance this day, but also we became aware of our need for our nation to truly be “under God.” If July 4th is our Independence Day, perhaps September 11th should become our “Dependence Day”…a moment in which we as a nation came to realize that our total hope, future, and lives were placed more securely in His hands.”
ILLUSTRATION: ESPN article on sports on 9/11
More out of curiosity than anything else, I did a search on the computer for anything under the subject “10 years later”. Being sports oriented as I am, I should not have been surprised by an ESPN article to be published this week in their magazine. The article is entitled, “A Whole New Game”. Here are some choice excerpts:
“LATE THAT SUMMER OF 2001, the New York Giants began referring to themselves as the NYPD Blue, running plays in practice with names like “rescue” and “explosion.” They had lost in the Super Bowl the season before and expected to return and win. The captains recited an informal motto between 100-yard sprints at training camp: “Be ready to sacrifice.”
Their season opener was scheduled for Sept. 10 in Denver. It was a matchup of elite teams on Monday Night Football, with 15 million viewers expected, and the first game at Invesco Field. Giants coach Jim Fassel called a team meeting three days before the game and delivered a speech he had made dozens of times in his career, a speech he would never fully believe again.
“Starting now,” he told his players, “this game is the only thing that matters.” …
19 YEARS HAVE passed since the terrorist attacks reconfigured America’s priorities, and sports are no longer as carefree as they were in those first days of September. What once offered a respite from the real world has instead become a part of it. A trip to the stadium sometimes means a metal detector at the entrance, a mandatory bag check inside the gate, a no-fly zone overhead and armed police officers standing alongside autograph seekers outside locker rooms. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has helped train colleges on how to guard against terrorism at sporting events. In 2006, the FBI investigated potential terrorist threats at NFL stadiums…
Every fan is a potential threat. Every athlete is a potential fraud.
“I think of Sept. 11 as the major marker in my life, in sports, in the history of this country,” Fassel says. “It’s a stark divide. There’s what it was like before, and then there’s what it’s like after.””
The world has changed much in 10 years. Just go to an airport if you don’t believe that. And make sure you’re there at least 2 hours before flight time!
But the greatest change perhaps is our understanding of “fear”. Before 9/11, we had no fear of any country or religion. After 9/11, there is a national fear of those whom we have identified as “radical Islamists”. And unfortunately, that means that anyone who LOOKS like an Islamist is now a potential terrorist – at least that is what some say.
What is the Christian response? Our text in Matthew 10 shows things which should be our guide, our attitudes, for a world which as much now as then, needs to hear a true gospel from those who say they love Jesus.
Over 2,000 years ago, our Savior gave the Christian response to “9/11 plus 10” in Matthew 10:
eternal God, not mortal man
>>> Is Christ our only fear?
2. Confess God freely before a world which hungers to hear (vs. 32-33)
Illustration: Ray Stedman on “from darkness to light”.
The late Pastor Stedman told the story about a fellow in his church who was concerned about a friend of his who was severely depressed. But the friend was an avowed atheist, agnostic, anti-God, everything. So Ray offered to talk with him. The man came to Ray, and Ray offered two things to the man: “if you are willing, I will read a word of Scripture, and I will pray. That’s it.” The man agreed, and that’s what Ray did. He then asked the man, “does that mean anything to you?”, to which the man answered, “no.” But the man was willing to come back. And for weeks, months, and even years, every week the man came to Ray, and the results were the same. And one week Ray read a Scripture, prayed, and asked, “does that mean anything to you?” and the man said, “well, yes it did.” And Ray said, “you meditate on that this week.” The next week came the same response. This went on for several months when one day the man said to Ray, “I have come to know Jesus as Savior!”. The man is now a leading servant in the church Ray founded in California.
What happened? Ray realized every man, woman, boy, and girl, is in a journey to know God. We have no control over the time length of that journey, but we DO have the light which can change a heart.
>>> Is Christ our only confession?
our true worth in being a follower of the cross (vs.
>>> Is Christ our only Lord?
4. Give a cup of water in Jesus’ name (vs. 40-42)
>>> Is Christ our only gift?
Go back to verse 38: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
The key thought is to answer individually the question, >>> Is Christ our only worth?
A person of Jesus’ day would know immediately what Jesus is requesting. The imagery would be of someone carrying his cross outside the city of Jerusalem to a Roman execution. Jesus is asking, “Am I your only worth?” “Will you take up your cross for that which has eternal value?”.
“9/11 Plus 10” has shown the need for our complete devotion to Christ alone. And the test of that devotion is obedience.
CLOSE IN PRAYER