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Servant or Celebrity?

Matthew 17:14-18:10


Last time we saw Jesus transfigured in His glory.  Jesus rolled out the red carpet for His inner circle, and they got to go backstage and be with the VIPs.


It’s nice to have a bright, shining mountaintop experience, but what happens when we descend back to regular life?  Young Peter loved to talk, and often it was the wrong thing he had to say.  Peter suggested in v. 4, “Let’s just stay here!”  But this is earth, and it’s sin cursed, and while we are here, there’s a cross to bear, and work to be done.  We cannot be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.


Sweet by and by or nasty here and now?


 “To live above with those we love, oh, that will be glory!

But here below, with those we know, now that’s another story!”


God the Father sets him straight in v. 5...and I guess only God Himself could successfully interrupt Peter when he started talking.  But someday we will be with Jesus and it will be permanent…no sad goodbyes.


Well, it’s nice to have mountaintop experiences, but there are millions below in the valley of need, and Jesus wants us to descend to them and help pull them back up to glory.


They come down the mountain, and they find someone who is desperately in need. 


v. 14-16   This is a good picture of earth.  We have a crazy world, a compassionate Savior, and sadly, crippled Christians. 


The church today has lots of money, many programs, but no power!  The world needs help, and they should be able to get anything they need thru the church, but they have to go to the world because the church is so powerless.


Ill.—dirty farmer tried to join a high society church where the women wore mink stoals and the men couldn’t look at you for their noses / pastor said, why don’t you go home and pray about whether you really want to join here / man did, returned and walked the aisle the next week / did you pray about it? / yes / are you sure God is telling you to come here? / yessir, He said if I can get in to go for it...’cuz He’s been trying to get in for years!


This was a hard case, a convulsing, foaming at the mouth little one...he had a demon.  And the devil wants our children too, from a young age.  He wants to get into their minds, and many parents are blind to the fact that they are allowing it in their own homes!  Movies, tv, internet, video games, books, board games, magazines and more are penetrating little hearts and minds.


Ill.—Bob Pittman, founder of MTV said, “AT MTV, WE DON'T JUST AIM FOR THE 14-YEAR OLDS, WE OWN THEM.”


Satan is happy to baby-sit our children if we’ll just plop them in front of anything without discernment.  Some say, “Awww, they’re gonna learn stuff at school or out in the world anyhow.”  True, but that doesn’t mean we as parents have to put our stamp of approval on sin by letting them learn it all right in our own homes under our noses!  That’s like saying, “I don’t care if there’s a snake in my child’s room.  Eventually they are going to encounter one in the woods anyway.”  True, but I want them to know it’s dangerous and run from it, not embrace it because I didn’t seem to care!


We can’t keep laughing at the gay tv shows...we’re sending the wrong message, and we’re ALL being desensitized to it.  We can’t keep allowing all the profanity on our tvs, and just shake our heads when we hear it, or soon we won’t hear it at all!  [We use TVGuardian and VidAngel]


This father brought his son to the disciples, and they were powerless to help.  They should have been able to cast the demon out in Jesus name.  In Matthew 10:1 Jesus gave them the power and authority to do so.  What happened between Mt. 10 and Mt. 17 for them to wind up like Samson?

v. 19-20

3 reasons they lost their power:

  • Lack of faith
  • Lack of prayer
  • Lack of discipline


Don’t lose faith in God because of success...that’s having faith in yourself.  Don’t stop praying...we need to pray more than ever because we’re having success, and Satan knows it!  Don’t get lazy in your spiritual walk...discipline needs to be a part of everyday life.


V. 21 is about prayer and fasting.  When you get really serious about having God’s power, you’re ready to fast, and you’re ready to have a spiritual breakthrough!  You’ll grow in faith and discipline at the same time.


Fasting is giving up something physical to focus on something spiritual.  You can fast from food, from tv, from physical pleasures of any kind.  How badly do you want the power?


In Acts they prayed for 10 days, preached for 10 minutes, and 3,000 got saved.  Will you come to the altar and pray for just 2 minutes?  Will you have a private prayer life?  You shouldn’t pray only in public if not in private.


Enjoy the times on the mountain, but when you come down from that high and your feet hit the floor, it matters that you walk straight.  And in a world such as ours it takes power to fulfill God’s purpose, to carry your cross.  You have to be changed if you want to change your world!


One more reason they lost their power:  A lack of humility.


Let’s see the need for humility, the example of humility, and the cost of humility.


1.     The need for humility

18:1         This question was spawned by an argument acc’d to Mark 9.  Can you believe the disciples would have an argument?  What was it about?  Who would get to wash the others feet?  Who would get to cook tonite?  Man the fair booth?  Watch the nursery?  Drive the van?  Clean the ancient toilets?  No, they were arguing over who would be the greatest.  Who’s top dog?


Jesus had just talked to them about the cross, and His ultimate humiliation.  It was in that context that they argued over this.  I can hear John saying, “I was the first to wake up on the mount of transfiguration!”  James says, “I spotted Moses and Elijah first!”  Peter says, “I was the one to worship first!”  Then I can hear the other disciples listening and getting really fed up, and one of them chiming in, “Jesus only took you 3 because He knew if He left you out of His sight for a minute you’d backslide on Him!”


All the disciples are together, along with Jesus, and they are on their way to Capernaum.  Jesus is acting like He’s ignoring their argument.  It must’ve been something like one of those arguments that goes on in the back seat of your car sometimes.  The kids bite and nip at each other back and forth and you let it go a while and finally you snap and threaten to send them to military school. 


Finally, Jesus asks them what they are arguing about.  He doesn’t ask to gain the info., but to draw them into accountability.  They let Him know their question, and each starts preparing their acceptance speech when He hopefully picks them.  “I don’t know what to say...I’m just so honored and humbled at this!”


Jesus calls a young child over to Him, picks him up in His arms, and uses that child as a great object lesson.


vv. 2-4


It matters not whether you are 6 or 106.  You only get into heaven one way, by humbling yourself.  And all of us are still little children of God, and the humility should still be there.


The disciples are struggling with selfish pride and arrogance, and need to learn a valuable lesson.  And so do we!


The need for humility...


2.     The example of humility

The example is a child.  We enter the family only by humility.  Babies don’t enter the world boasting and bragging about their rights and what they’re gonna do.  They are born dependent upon their parents for everything!

        a.     Humility impacts the family.

The disciples were in disunity because of a lack of humility.  How does Jesus respond?  He reminds them of how they got to be a disciple in the first humility.


When we get saved we sing Just As I Am, and Nothing in My Hand I Bring, Simply to Thy Cross I Cling.  We are humble.  So what happens to us as we get older in the Lord?  The same thing that happens to our children between the crib and that back seat of the car!  Pride.


        b.     Humility impacts the fellowship.

v. 5          The ground is level at Calvary.  All are welcome.  The word ‘receive’ in this verse means to welcome.  We strive to receive all types here.  But some types are harder to requires some humility on our part.


        c.     Humility impacts our following.

v. 6          To trip up another of God’s little ones is the opposite of humility.  But a humble disciple will make a disciple out of our newer little ones.  We are to be good examples to them, and if we’re a poor example, we can expect them to go in the same direction as we do.  The same is true for parenting.  We don’t get what we want, we get what we are! 


“What kind of church would this church be, if every member were just like me?!”


Like it or lump it, we are being watched, and to be a bad example is to commit spiritual child abuse, and the punishment is severe in God’s hands!  You see, it’s bad to sin, but it’s worse to cause someone else to sin.

Ill.—MLB players fighting and arguing calls


It’s a serious error to set a bad example in word—watch your language, jokes, gossip.  And our behavior and attitude must be kept in check as well.  When churches feud and fuss I feel sorry most of all for the little lambs who watch it all, and the devil uses such things to devastate them in their faith.  Many of us are grounded enough in our faith that we could leave the church, but we’d go out quickly and find another church...but not necessarily so for some who had ringside seats for the fight.  They may get out of church for good!


The need for humility, the example of humility...


3.     The cost of humility

v. 7-10     A truly humble person is willing to do whatever it takes to build others up, not tear them down.  To be a stepping stone for them, and not a stumbling block. 


Be careful little hands what you do, little feet where you go, little eyes what you see, little mouth what you say! 


You may need to cut out a person from your life.  A wrong relationship, a bad habit, an evil possession, or a sinful attitude.  Here’s a good gauge to help us know what to cut off:  “Does this move me toward Jesus, or away from Him?”  Ask that question about the one you’re dating, what you’re spending your money on, and what you are thinking about!  And if the answer is wrong, cut it off!


A truly humble person won’t mind paying a price.  Their goal is to be a servant, not a celebrity.  The spotlight isn’t what’s important.


Ill.—George Beverly Shea was offered a lucrative recording contract by the world, but turned it down because he said, it would’ve set a poor example for the kids out there.  There was nothing wrong with the music he could have sung and the money he could have made, but he didn’t just ask if anything was wrong with it, but also, ‘what’s right with it?’  Not just, what’s good, but what’s best?!


Some Christians flaunt their immaturity by saying things like, I can do whatever I want to do, it’s my right.  They need to consider that they are setting an example for others.  We may have the liberty to do things, but we have the responsibility to consider how it may affect others around us.


Real humility is being willing to abandon rights sometimes in order to not be a stumbling block but rather a stepping stone for the little ones who are all around us, watching, ready to follow!


It will be nice someday on the mountain forever in heaven.  For now, we live below in this old sinful world.  Someday we will be jumping up and down without end.  For now, the greatest work happens on our knees in humility as a servant.

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