Missed Chances

Table of Contents

7. Missed Chances

Jeremiah preached to the children of God, to Israel. He urged them to repent. In the middle of his message, he said this refrain:

  • The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved. (Jeremiah 8:20)

Time moves forward very quickly, and we see God working in people that He brings in this body and even in our own lives. He arranges things, creates circumstances to reveal sins, and tells men and women that this is their chance to repent and change to be different. People usually let these situations go by and miss their opportunity. They think they can come to God whenever they choose. We’re going to see that God moves among His people and arranges situations. If somebody wants to repent three days after Jesus has been in some place that doesn’t mean they can repent then. The goal is for each person to repent as God moves at a particular time and place. Each individual has a chance to change, but it is in God’s timing and plan. Usually everybody wants to repent according to their schedule, their opinion, or the way in which they would like God to come to them. But, there is no repentance at the time Jesus Christ stands before them.

  • After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. (Luke 10:1)

Jesus Christ sends out men. He sends out preachers, servants, and those who love Him in order to prepare people’s lives for when He comes to call them to repentance. Jesus Christ, at this point, sends seventy-two others to go on ahead to a particular town. They are to be in people’s lives to tell them Jesus Christ is about ready to come to offer them new life through repentance. He wants to come to this town and come into your heart and life. It is up to you to be ready and be in a place where you can respond and repent.

What usually happens is most individuals don’t repent. The situation passes them by, but they think that somehow, they can come to God whenever they choose at a later date. I went through the Book of Mark and looked at examples of when Jesus Christ traveled around, going from place to place. Mark 1:12 tells about Jesus’ baptism.

  • At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert. (Mark 1:12)

Jesus went out to the desert and when He came back to preach, He always went in and out of the towns. He would show up at one place one time, and then go somewhere else the next time. Jesus Christ never sat down as a permanent fixture where people could come to Him. He moved out there among the people, going to one town and then to another—going back and forth. Jesus Christ did that because He tried to give people opportunities to come to Him, to respond to Him. He went to a town or an individual, and they wouldn’t respond at that time. There would be a few people who would. Jesus Christ would leave that town and come back later to see if others were ready to repent. You can see in your own life, even as you look back, the times you put off God and the times you didn’t respond. We fall into a trap when we begin to think that we can just come anytime, that He will always come, because that is not the case.

  • As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. (Mark 1:16)

Jesus began to call and move by the Sea of Galilee.

  • They went to Capernaum… (Mark 1:21)

Then, it says:

  • As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. (Mark 1:29)

We see Jesus Christ moving in and out of people’s lives by going to the synagogue, and being down by the lake.

  • Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee… (Mark 1:38–39)

Then:

  • A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum. (Mark 2:1)

He went from town to town, trying to give people an opportunity to repent.

  • Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. (Mark 2:13)

He returns to those familiar locations and sees who else is ready. He tries to plow up ground and plant seeds. He tries to arrange things to give people an opportunity to repent. Every time He comes and goes, and we don’t repent, we put ourselves in great danger and harm.

  • While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house… (Mark 2:15)

  • One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields… (Mark 2:23)

  • Another time he went into the synagogue… (Mark 3:1)

  • Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake… (Mark 3:7)

  • Then Jesus entered a house… (Mark 3:20)

We see Jesus Christ always moving. The Spirit of God always looks and moves in our lives and says to us, “Are you ready to respond? Are you ready to repent?” Yet, we find men wanting to be calculating and cool about their response. They want to come to God when they choose and when they see fit.

  • Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. (Mark 4:1)

  • [Jesus Christ says] “Let us go over to the other side.” (Mark 4:35)

Jesus Christ didn’t set up a church trying to sell His wares. He moved in and out of people’s lives. He looked to see if they had softened their hearts.

  • They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. (Mark 5:1)

He moves from town to town, location to location. He comes to you from hour to hour, moment to moment, to see if you’re ready to repent.

  • When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. (Mark 5:21)

  • Jesus left there and went to his hometown. (Mark 6:1)

  • Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house. (Mark 7:24)

God communicates to us that He is always moving. His Spirit always looks for us. He comes to call us to repentance.

  • Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side. (Mark 8:13)

  • Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. (Mark 8:27)

  • Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. (Mark 10:1)

  • As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him. (Mark 10:17)

Again, Jesus went in and out of people’s lives.

  • As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples. (Mark 11:1)

  • Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. (Mark 11:11–12)

See how Jesus Christ moves in and out of people’s lives. He sets up different circumstances and disasters in their lives. You also see blessings. Jesus Christ speaks to them here and there, but they never get to a place where they fully repent.

  • In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. (Mark 11:20)

As people get up in the morning, as they begin to act and go about their day, Jesus Christ sometimes speaks to them.

  • They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. (Mark 11:27)

Again, God moves, He is always restless and searching, always looking, always calling us.

  • While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts… (Mark 12:35)

  • Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd… (Mark 12:41)

  • As he was leaving the temple… (Mark 13:1)

  • As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives… (Mark 13:3)

  • While he was in Bethany… (Mark 14:3)

  • The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. (Mark 14:16)

That was just a quick look at the Book of Mark. I didn’t actually search and dig out every instance where Jesus moves, nor did I go to the Book of Luke or Matthew or anywhere else. This is a small example of how Jesus Christ moves in people’s lives, but they miss the opportunities. They forfeit the opportunities He tries to work.

We think that somehow the opportunities to repent will always be there, that the situations that were there once will happen again in the future. That is not so. Jesus Christ knows He is going to Jerusalem to die. He knows the time for people to repent is short, and so He moves in and out of their lives, calling them to repentance. But, there is a time God has set down where there will be no more chances to repent and no more chances to change.

  • As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)

He had moved into the villages, people’s lives, and into their homes, and yet the time came when those opportunities would no longer be there. As He came to Jerusalem for the final few times it says that He approached the city, saw it, and began to weep over it because they would not repent. They could not see the opportunity that God had given them to repent.

  • And said, “If you…” (Luke 19:42)

Even you! If even you, in your wickedness, had only known this day, if you had recognized the final day God called you to repentance.

  • And said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42)

They had not responded fully to Jesus Christ when He sat down at their table to talk with them. They had not responded when Jesus Christ walked along the road with them to whisper to them, to talk to them about the things of God. They had not responded when the miracles had happened, and now their chance for peace, their chance to surrender, the chance to fully give themselves to Him is hidden from them and they cannot do it. They couldn’t respond to it because they had forsaken those few moments when God came to speak to them. Now they are held accountable for not responding.

  • The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. (Luke 19:43)

Not only are they held accountable for not responding to the grace offered to them in the past and what was offered to them that day, but He warns them again that it is hidden from them and they must look to the future of their lives. Look at what will happen! Look at all of the opportunities you refused. Look at what will happen to you in the future if you do not respond to this grace and mercy that God brings to you.

  • They will dash you to the ground… (Luke 19:44)

He says, “You will be utterly destroyed.” We had several people come to visit here and they kept saying that they wanted to hear from God. They wanted to go back and seek the living God. They didn’t want to hear it from a man. They didn’t want to seize the opportunity laid before them. They refused to accept the moment and the chance when God said, “I’m talking to you now and I’m speaking to you at this moment.” They refused to look at what lies in the future.

  • They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you. (Luke 19:44)

There is a select time in each person’s life where God comes to them and offers them grace and mercy. He offers them conviction of sin and the new life. He tries to bring them the cross. It is all in place. There will not be another chance like that ever again. They are judged accountable because they did not recognize the time, the place, and the manner in which God had chosen to bring to them His offer of mercy.

  • They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. (Luke 19:44)

You will be utterly and completely destroyed with nothing left in your life! And you and the children within your walls will be destroyed. Why? Because they did not recognize that God had been working and moving in and out of their lives to bring them to this point to respond. It was up to them to respond completely at that point.

Let’s read Luke 10:16, because usually we respond to this in our time period. Usually people will say, “But, I want to hear from the living God. He will convict and show me. I don’t want to hear from any man, and I don’t want to be dependent on any man bringing me anything.” In Luke 10:16, Jesus Christ says this very clearly:

  • He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Luke 10:16)

Usually, when you preach the gospel to people, and show them their sins, they strain on the smallest of matters of which you are presenting to them and refuse to repent of the broad sin that is in their life. They want to go back into the prayer closet. They want God to show them individually. They refuse to realize that God speaks through individuals. He speaks through men. He declares, through vessels of clay, His offer of grace. Just think about it for a moment. When they say they don’t want to hear from a man, what was Jesus Christ? He was a man. He was God in a vessel of clay, and they didn’t respond to it back then. God still chooses to use certain individuals and circumstances in our lives to cause people to repent. When you hear somebody tell you that they just want to hear from God, let the flags go up. If you are presenting a very clear sin that they need to repent of, and you know the Spirit speaks through you to tell them that, but they keep telling you they want to go back to hear from God, odds are they’re not going to go back and hear from God. Their time of repentance, their chance to change, their chance to humble themselves, their chance to say, “You’re right, I am a sinner and I need to change and that needs to go in my life” was right then. God put people in their lives to so they could change.

  • I tell you the truth… (John 13:20)

How often Jesus had to begin His statements like that! He’s telling us to pay attention, that what He is about to say is crucial and all-important. “I tell you the truth.” This is something that you can rely upon. This is absolutely true.

  • I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me. (John 13:20)

God chooses to work through men. He chooses to work through the church. He chooses to work through things that are familiar to us. If we are unwilling to humble ourselves before man, we will never humble ourselves before the living God. But, how many people want God to come to them? How many people want certain people to come to them before they will repent?

You can’t run away from being dependent upon man. I’m putting this in human terms. There is no way that you can escape the fact that you have to be dependent upon man to hear the gospel, because God has always chosen to work through man. There are no cases in Scripture where God came and began to declare to everyone that they needed to repent. He worked through Moses and other men to call men to repentance. He worked through prophets and righteous men. That is how He has chosen to humble and break us. Jesus said this:

  • He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.” (Matthew 15:13)

You have to decide who you’re going to listen to. It will not be a question of whether you have to hear from a man or not. Even those who have said they want to hear from God go back into the prayer closet and listen to themselves. The man that they have chosen to rely upon is themselves. They are not going back and really hearing from the living God, otherwise they would return and learn as David did when Nathan came to him and told him that he was in sin and to repent to whom God sends.

  • He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides…” (Matthew 15:13–14)

Go back into the prayer closet and ask, “God, who has Your Holy Spirit? Who are You really speaking to? Who is it that will show me the way of life? Who is it that You have sent?” Everybody else you have to leave. But, you will not be able to escape “the trap” of being dependent upon man because God has chosen to work through vessels of clay even as He spoke through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ again weeps over Jerusalem. He weeps over individuals for whom God sends people into their lives time and time again, offering them repentance. That is why sometimes God will have you come back to a person over and over again offering them repentance. He moves in and out of our lives and comes at different times. He comes to us when we say, “No,” backs up a little bit, and then comes again. His heart pleads with you to repent. In Luke 13:34, you can hear the heart of Jesus. You can hear Him saying:

  • O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… (Luke 13:34)

You hear the call, the anguish He has. It seems like Jesus Christ fails over and over again to get men to repent, but because love compels Him to speak, He keeps trying. Love urges Him on, and He can’t be silent and stop coming. I know that there are individuals that I go to and I think, “I’m not going to talk to them. I’m not going to say anything again.” The next thing I know I’m talking to them again or arranging things or looking at things in their life in order to bring them to repentance.

  • O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you… (Luke 13:34)

How often we stone those whom God has brought into our lives to call us to repentance. They show us the sins there, but we don’t want to see it from them. We want God to tell us on our own. We want to study it on our own. We want to come to our own conclusions. Dare we say that the other person is right, and we actually repent?

  • O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

We are not willing to accept men that God sends into our lives. We are not willing to respond to their love. They may not have every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted, but they come by God’s love and His grace. They come to say that you need to repent, and this thing needs to change. If they are wrong on one point, then show them five other points where they might be correct. Have a heart that responds to God sending prophets and righteous men and women to call you to repentance. Again:

  • Look… (Luke 13:35)

Examine. Think about what you’re doing. Think of the people you have stoned and the people you have rejected.

  • Look, your house is left to you desolate. (Luke 13:35)

It will be left to you empty. You have a little bit of life in you right now. You have a little bit of God’s movement. There is a little bit of religion going on. God may be speaking and doing miracles. He may be coming into your town doing all kinds of different things, but your house will be left to you desolate. Jesus renounced the cities in which He did His miracles because they refused to repent. Many people I know rely upon certain circumstances. They say, “Oh, I hear the Lord here,” and “I hear the Lord over there,” and “He answered my prayer.” So, where is the repentance? How are you responding to Jesus coming into your village and then leaving?

  • Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Luke 13:35)

You will not see Jesus Christ! These people will not see Jesus until they say, “Blessed is the way that God comes to me, when He chooses to come, and to whom He chooses to come through.” You cannot pick and choose which prophet you want to receive or what righteous men you want to have in your life. You can’t choose the commentaries you want to read or your favorite chapters in Scripture. Until you fall down and say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” acknowledge the way God chooses to come, when He wants to visit, when He wants to leave, and what He wants to say, you will not see Him. You will not be able to accept Him. But, we have our rules and qualifications, we have our guidelines set down, we have our pride over here, and our justifications over there, and we don’t say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” We have all of these conditions and say to God, “If You come to me in this condition, I’ll respond. If You come to me in this manner, I’ll respond to that. If You rebuke me in this way over here, I’ll respond to that. If You show me sin in my timing, I’ll respond to that.” We don’t fall down in humility and say, “Blessed are You however You come.”

In Matthew 21:32, Jesus again reminds us that He chooses to send people into our lives. God chose to announce the coming of Jesus Christ with John the Baptist. He chose to use men, vessels of clay. He chose to use circumstances like the desert in order to get men to think about the things of God.

  • For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness… (Matthew 21:32)

This is how God has chosen work. A man who stands back and says, “I just want to hear from God” is already beginning to live a lie. He should be able to recognize that God moves through John the Baptist, or Paul, or Peter, or moves through these circumstances or that Jesus Christ comes to Jerusalem calling for repentance. But God is already standing before him and speaking to him. That person really says, “I don’t want to hear God speak and I don’t want God to tell me about righteousness.”

  • For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this… (Matthew 21:32)

Even after you saw all of this evidence of God working His good…

  • And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:32)

All these arguments about hearing from God only, or that God comes in this particular way, or you don’t like the manner in which He comes, is just an excuse to say you don’t want to repent and change. Look, if you don’t like the way that I present the message, then look for somebody else who presents the same message in a different way. If you don’t like the way either one of us presents the message, then look at the lives that are changing around you and repent because of those. There simply is no excuse for not responding to the living God or not listening to those whom He sends. You see the problem with those kinds of hearts is that the words are never correct. The words are never exact enough. The church is never holy enough. It is never perfect enough. How many people do you know that are right now off in their own little world somewhere? They don’t go to church anywhere because the church is full of hypocrisy. It is never holy enough for them to come into the light to repent. They’re off somewhere getting themselves right with the Lord and all content in their religious world. Far be it from them to hear words from another man who is not perfect. But, of course, they usually expect you to accept their words at face value, don’t they?

  • To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other. “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.” (Luke 7:31–32)

God came in the manner of flute. He came in the manner of blessing. He came raising the dead and healing the sick. He came in the manner of complete gentleness, but you would not dance. You would not repent. You would not rejoice in the way He came to you. That didn’t humble or break you. God came in all the gentleness there is, and you still refused to repent. “We sang a dirge, and you did not cry.” He sent prophets who showed you your sin, spoke clearly of those sins, who declared them loudly, who were unafraid to tell you what your sins were, but you wouldn’t repent of those, either. God sent you people who would tell you exactly what you needed to repent of, what needed to change, what was in your heart, and you refused that as well. No matter what God does, if you don’t want to repent, you just don’t want to repent.

  • For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” (Luke 7:33)

It is just never good enough—just never right enough. The words are never proper enough. The manner is never clear enough.

  • The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’” (Luke 7:34)

He is never holy enough! If they say that about Jesus Christ, there will be whole groups of people who will say, “You can be as holy as you can be holy.” But the words will never be right or correct enough, and you’ll never be perfect enough. If they say that about Jesus Christ, they’re going to say the same about those He sends who are not perfect. So, all of the excuses need to be destroyed. They need to be crucified on the cross. We need to turn to men and say, “You need to repent and now is your time. You may not have it a week from now or a day from now.”

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” He answered, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.” “No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:19–31)

  • You move in and out of some people’s lives and no matter how you say it, whatever miracles were done, whatever wisdom was presented, or whatever love and grace was there, they just would not believe that they have something to repent of.

  • Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.” (Luke 16:29)

You can present Scripture to some people and say, “That’s you,” and they will respond, “No, it’s not me.” You can show them and say, “That applies to your life,” and they say, “No, I don’t see how that applies to my life.” There is such a wall of pride, arrogance, and self there that no matter what you say or what you do, even if somebody arose from the dead and said, “You are a sinner,” they still would not repent. This is why everyone in hell thoroughly deserves to be there, because the issue isn’t convincing them that somebody is righteous enough or some aspect is really of the Lord because they don’t want to change and give up their sin. God sends people to show us the sins we should already know are there and help bring them into the light.

We should be like a patient going to a doctor, knowing something is wrong somewhere. The doctor runs all of the tests, examines everything, reviews the results, and says, “This is your problem, and this is what needs to change.” We should say, “I agree with you and it needs to be cut out. It needs to be taken away.”

I just read a story about a man taken to the hospital for lung cancer. He used an oxygen tank. He pulled a blanket over his face and lit a cigarette. The oxygen caught on fire and he became engulfed in flames. As the staff ran him down to the emergency room, he kept asking for a cigarette.

No matter what happens or what goes on, no matter how God comes, some men just will not repent. Romans 9:15 makes this clear. It is not a question of your timing as to when you want to repent. You can’t say, “Okay, now I am ready to repent,” and then expect God to come along and say, “Okay, I accept you.”

  • For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:15–16)

It doesn’t matter how much a man says, “I want to repent now.” If God has said that moment has passed, he will not be able to repent. He will not receive mercy.

Someone might turn and say, “Okay, now I’m ready to repent,” and God will say, “It doesn’t depend on your desire. It doesn’t depend on your effort. It doesn’t matter whether you say the Believer’s Prayer. It isn’t up to you.” You must respond when God comes to you. When He moves into your town, sits down at your table, or walks with you along the road, and turns to you and says, “Do you want to repent?” What will you do? This is your moment—your chance. You either turn to Him in fullness of heart and say, “Yes, I will give you everything and I will repent,” or you will hold back and continue your own way.

You do not have the luxury of choice that you think you do. When we choose when we want to repent, we’re telling God that we’re God and that we will repent when we see fit and when we think it is best for us. It is that reserving of self that says, “I’m still in control and I refuse to surrender everything, even the day of my redemption.” Paul continues:

  • Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)

If they depended on Paul’s effort, they would all be saved, but it doesn’t depend on man’s effort or desires.

  • For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (Romans 10:2)
    There are whole hosts of men that are zealous for God, who read the Scriptures, listen to sermons, read the commentaries, and do all the things that you think of about being religious. You cannot fault them on zeal. “For I can testify about them.” He could stand up and say, “They are zealous for God.” Usually what we say is, “I know they have a good heart because they are zealous for God.” We need the cross to see the truth. Just because a man is zealous doesn’t mean he has been redeemed. It doesn’t mean that he has a new life or has accepted God on God’s terms.

  • For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God… (Romans 10:2–3)

Jesus Christ came to their town, but they didn’t want His righteousness. So, they went off to read the Bible to establish their own righteousness.

Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God, and sought to establish their own… (Romans 10:3)

They didn’t want the righteousness that comes from God. They wanted their own righteousness. They wanted to keep their own opinions, thoughts, and timing. Whatever it is they wanted to be in control.

  • …[They] sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Romans 10:3)

Jesus Christ came to their town. He said, “You are a sinner.” He comes to our town and offers us a blessing, but we don’t submit to it. We will come to God and say, “God, I won’t submit to this, I’ll submit to that over there.” Why do you think almost all the churches are in the same spot? Different individuals finding different things that they are willing to submit to. They go before the Lord and say, “Well, I’ll submit to this righteousness, and this prayer. I’ll do this work over here and even weep over my sins. I will submit to all these things, Lord, not just what you have, but what we have in mind. Let’s jump to Jeremiah.

  • This is what each of you keeps on saying to his friend or relative: “What is the Lord’s answer?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” (Jeremiah 23:35–36)

A religious nation talking about the voice of God. God said:

  • But you must not mention “the oracle of the Lord” again… (Jeremiah 23:36)

Again, God speaks through Jeremiah. Jeremiah declares:

  • But you must not mention “the oracle of the Lord” again, because every man’s own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God. (Jeremiah 23:36)

Each man’s opinion becomes his gospel. Each man’s words and how he wants to declare it, each church’s gospel becomes their gospel. They literally say to God: “This is our righteousness. This is what we’ll submit to. This is what we like. We will not respond to anything else but our own oracle in our own words.” There are men who have visited here a few times, and it came down the fact that they would not accept any words but their own. There would be no one righteous or holy enough for them to accept except themselves. They couldn’t even rest in that because the guilt was still there. They sensed something was wrong.

  • This is what you keep saying to a prophet: “What is the Lord’s answer to you?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” (Jeremiah 23:37)

  • It looks like they want to know God’s will.

  • Although you claim, “This is the oracle of the Lord,” this is what the Lord says: You used the words, “This is the oracle of the Lord,” even though I told you that you must not claim, “This is the oracle of the Lord.” Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to you and your fathers. I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten. (Jeremiah 23:38–40)

“O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem. You have killed the prophets and persecuted those sent to you.” How many people will hear those words? Oh, they have the oracle of the Lord and they talk about hearing it from God, but they refuse the righteousness that God seeks to bring in their life. They seek to establish their own righteousness.

  • Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

That is, all laws have come to an end. All of the things that we want to set up here, all the things that we say are right and true, or this is bad, or this is evil and must end. The cross is crucifying your opinions, they are being put to death.

  • Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” (Romans 10:5)

We say, “Here is our code. I’m going to live by this code. Here is our church doctrine. I’m going to live by that doctrine. Here is my opinion. I will live by that.” The man who lives by the law says, “I live by these things over here, I have my opinion about that, and I have this thought about who God is and how he should conduct himself.”

  • But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (Romans 10:6)

Don’t even let it come into your heart to say, “Well, we’ll praise our way into heaven,” or “I’ll claim this promise.” “I’ll say the Believer’s Prayer and then I’ll go to heaven,” or “I’ve decided right now that I want Jesus Christ and I will respond to Him.” It is not up to you. You respond, when God comes to you and says, “Now do you want me?”

  • …or “Who will descend into the deep?” (That is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (Romans 10:7)

Many people I know say, “Oh, I know I’m worthless,” but they can’t repent even as they say the words. They will say, “Oh, I need the Living God and I know that I’m nothing and I need Jesus Christ,” but they can’t repent. They say, “See, I’ve gone to the deepest place. I’ve humbled myself and I’m broken. I’m really seeking after God,” but they don’t repent. They don’t submit to His righteousness, because the minute that His Spirit comes along and says, “Okay, let’s deal with this sin and put this to death.” They say, “Oh, I don’t have that sin. I’m just worthless.” Then there are those that rise up to the top, that go up to the praises and who say, “Oh, I claim heaven. I’m seeking the Lord. He answers prayers. I speak in tongues and do all these wonderful things.” But, they don’t want to repent.

  • That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

We need to confess that Jesus Christ comes to us and we say, “That is the Lord. That is how He works and responds.” We say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” We believe this with our heart and know the cross does its work.

  • For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:10)

We have to stand up and declare, “I know the cross is the way of mercy. I know the way that God brings that cross and how He works that in my life. That is truth and I believe it with all of my heart.” We’re not going to read the whole story, but notice the first verse:

  • Jesus entered Jericho… (Luke 19:1)

He didn’t come the day before and He may not be back three or four days later.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. (Luke 19:1)

Is Jesus passing through our lives? See how He’s giving us opportunity to repent? Isn’t He speaking through those whom He sends? We are only, at best, passing through this life anyway. Finally, when we die, God has said, “No more.” You could be in hell asking for mercy and it won’t be given to you.

  • A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead… (Luke 19:2–4)

He had to run ahead because Jesus Christ was passing through. He was moving through and not about to stop. He was not going to stay and build a church. He was not going to be there forever. Zacchaeus knew in order to catch this Jesus Christ he had to run ahead of Him. He ran so far ahead of Him that Jesus Christ never had to turn and say, “You know you’re a sinner, Zacchaeus.” He does later on, but we’re not going to read it today. He ran ahead of Jesus Christ and said, “I’m a sinner and I need to repent of these things and I will repay anybody that I have cheated four times the amount.” Usually we have to pull eye teeth! We have to go to somebody and say, “Oh, this is sin and you need to change this.” You debate for hours, and days, even years on end trying to convince somebody that this one thing is a sin, let alone all of their hearts. They think that they come to Jesus Christ whenever they choose, but He passes through Jericho and will not be building a church there. He will not be staying there, and you could soon die and stand before Him. It is up to you to respond as He comes to you at that moment, at that time, and at that place.

In John 4:43, again, we find Jesus Christ on the move. Why do you think God has us so much on the move all the time? There is so much to be done. Why do you think different circumstances seem to come to us all the time? Think about it as you became a Christian, how often things changed around you. It was quiet one moment and noisy the next because Jesus Christ moved in and out of circumstances. He allowed the circumstances and spoke to us as those things happened.

  • After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there. (John 4:43–45)

They followed Jesus. He moved again and stopped.

  • Once more he visited Cana in Galilee… (John 4:46)

“Once more…” He came again. That is why I watch for certain individual’s moment to repent. It is their time to shine, to humble themselves before God. It is that hour, that moment, or that day, and they let it pass by. Then there is a lot of discussion and maybe a lot of prayer, a lot of Bible study in between those moments, but you know they can’t repent during that time period as much as they would like to think they can. God will come along at a later time. He will come one more time. He will come through the city, sit down, and you’ll go. That was your moment, that was your chance. That was when the Holy Spirit spoke. You must wait for Him who comes to you on His terms.

  • Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. (John 4:46)

You’ve told individuals that you can’t repent yet. But wait, He’ll be back. Will you be found worthy?

  • And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” (John 4:46–49)

Jesus doesn’t do what the man wants because He’s not going to establish His own righteousness. Jesus Christ stands up and says;

  • Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. (John 4:50)

Jesus Christ will never bow down to our demands and what we think it means to repent or to change. Jesus Christ will never bow down to an attitude that says, “Well, this is my pride here, but this isn’t pride over there.” He will crucify all of pride and we must accept Him on His terms, for whomever He sends, and however He chooses to work.

  • Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. (John 4:50)

We must accept Jesus Christ for who He is, for His word, and all of the ways that He chooses to speak. We must never whine, “I don’t like the manner in which Jesus Christ comes here” or “I like this over here better.” We must always say within our heart and confess with our mouth, “Blessed is he who comes in the name the Lord,” however He does it and whenever He chooses to do so. If God chooses to be quiet for ten years, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” He chooses to speak and humble me every day. He chooses to crucify my flesh every day in a harsh way. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus Christ wants those who accept Him for who He is and how He chooses to work. He doesn’t want a bunch of children up in heaven demanding that He do this and that, and act in a certain way.

  • Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. (John 4:50)

Until we take Jesus at His word and we accept those whom He sends for what they say, our sons will never live. Instead, they will be dashed upon the rocks and our house left to us desolate.

  • Then they came to Jericho. (Mark 10:46)

Jesus comes to the Jericho of our lives.

  • Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city…. (Mark 10:46–47)

Jesus Christ came to Jericho and as He left the city, these things began to happen.

  • …a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout… (Mark 10:46–47)

You can just see Jesus coming into the city. Word has spread that Jesus is there and He is on His way out. Why? Because, this man’s moment is right now, and His heart is going to respond. What if this blind beggar said, “I don’t feel like crying out. I’m not too sure about this Jesus Christ. I’ve got a few questions and I’m not so sure about all these things” and he decided to wait ten or fifteen minutes? Suppose he goes off to read a commentary or Scripture for himself, or perhaps talk to a Pharisee or a Sadducee? What if he tries to reason all of these things out instead of just yelling for Jesus Christ? His moment would be gone! He could never find his way back. He would still be blind. God has us at a certain place in our life. He has His church in a certain place and that is their opportunity. We may move in and out of their lives at different times as the Spirit leads, but that will not always continue. That is why Scripture tells us to make the most of every opportunity because we don’t know when God will allow you to go back. We don’t know that we will be sent back to Jericho. That situation may never present itself again.

  • When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

It is his moment, and nobody is going to stop him from the grace, although verse forty-eight says that many tried to stop him. Those that refuse God, scripture says, forfeit the glory that could have been theirs.

  • Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet… (Mark 10:48)

There will be crowds telling you to be quiet, to reason it out, to think about it, to examine and to pray. They will use whatever words they can to motivate you to keep quiet. If you are into the Greek and the Hebrew, then they will ask you to go study the Greek and Hebrew, just be quiet. If you are not into the Hebrew and the Greek, you are into some other questions, concern, or fear, they will lay those fears on you.

  • Many rebuked him… (Mark 10:48)

You could have a whole host of people coming around this man telling him to be quiet and shut up, but he shouted all the more.

  • …but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48)

Jesus Christ left the town. The beggar won’t get another chance and he doesn’t let it go by. They can shout and rebuke him. They can tell him to shut up. They can lay all kinds of fears on him. They can tell him to be quiet, but he will not let this situation go by. Jesus Christ listens for this. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” People don’t often like the way that I bring sins in their lives to their attention. They should be the ones crying, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Why should I even have to point them out? Why should I have to make a list? They should already see that they are undone. The people that stayed with us a couple of weeks ago, I said, “You should be crying out for mercy! I don’t understand why I should have to say anything to any of you. After all of the things you’ve seen, the scriptures we’ve examined, all that you’ve read, and you tell me you’re still fine?” I told them that they needed to shout, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” They missed the opportunity that was there. Now, they are off reasoning it all out. They are establishing their own righteousness.

  • “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped… (Mark 10:48–49)

Those are lovely words. Just think of your quiet time for a moment. You ask for mercy enough so that Jesus would stop.

  • Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” (Mark 10:49)

“These are the terms, blind man. I’m not going to come over to you.” How many of us would be indignant to hear Jesus say that?

  • Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” (Mark 10:49)

Jesus Christ makes this blind man work his way to Him. Many people would be self-righteous and indignant “You didn’t come out to meet me. You didn’t talk to me. You made me come to you. I’m blind and helpless, and you talk to me like that?” He only gets help he gets from people that told him to shut up.

  • Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. (Mark 10:50)

Jesus stood there for a very good reason, so that this man might lose all that he depends upon. Jesus Christ puts us off and stands there. He comes against us in whatever fashion He chooses so that we might throw all of self down. Jesus Christ sometimes sends people in our life that look cold, heartless, insensitive, or mean because He tries to get you to surrender self.

  • Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. (Mark 10:50)

What an awkward sight! What a holy sight! A blind man jumping—a blind man seeks to make his way with all of his energy no matter how foolish it looks. We just don’t want to be fools. We want to keep our cloak. We depend on it. It keeps us warm when it is chilly. It protects us from the sun. We’ve always lived by our excuse. It is our justification that has always covered us up. We certainly don’t to throw it aside and jump away from it, do we? We try to tear the cloak away from people who are hard and stubborn, but they just won’t let go. We try to show them that it is just a piece of cloth. It is worthless, the argument to be destroyed. It is nothing. It is of no value. Get up and run to Him who will show you mercy. In verse fifty-one, Jesus Christ already knew what he wanted.

  • “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. (Mark 10:51)

Jesus will draw this man all the way out in humility. When I begin to box people in with questions, they will say, “You know what I’m going to say.” They act like it is a stupid question and they get indignant because the Spirit of the Lord asks them a stupid question. Isn’t Jesus asking a stupid question? He is a blind man who doesn’t even have a cloak anymore. Unless his eyes open, he can’t even go back and find it. We ask people a lot of stupid questions and they feel that they are stupid questions. But, God tries to humble them and show them that by asking a stupid question.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” (Mark 10:51)
He is to the point. He is direct. He doesn’t have any excuses or long-winded prayers. Look at the discussion between this man and the living God. God wants people to shut up and ask, “What do you want?” Usually they say, “Well, I am a sinner, but I have all of these good qualities over here,” and the discussion goes on and on. But the blind man simply states, “I want to see!”

  • “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” (Mark 10:52)

Notice the blind man is disobedient. I love holy disobedience.

  • Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:52)

Jesus Christ told him to go. “Get on out of here! Go back to business. Go get your cloak. Go back to your life. You have your freedom now. You have your blessing.” That is not what the man chose to do. He didn’t go back for the cloak or his life. What did he do?

  • Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:52)

His moves in and out of people’s lives, telling them the good news, telling them how powerful Jesus is, telling them to throw away their cloaks and that they are blind too. In and out he went wherever Jesus led. Are we not to do the same—to go where He leads us to go—in and out of people’s lives, offering them repentance, doing what Jesus did? But, how many people are forsaking the opportunities that are theirs? They are back searching Scripture while Jesus leaves town. They are in church and Jesus goes somewhere else. They are in their prayer closets justifying themselves, examining the Scriptures, and missing their opportunities.

Let’s pray:

Father, lead us in and out of people’s lives as You direct and lead. Give us hearts, Father, like Yours, that are willing to endure whatever opposition or stubbornness, whatever is necessary, Father, to draw somebody out to love You. Give us that love, Father, which is in You to keep coming again and again even as Jesus is rejected over and over again. Give us hearts, Father, that when we are rejected that we, too, will weep over Jerusalem. And, Father, may there be none in this body that will have missed the opportunities for repentance that You seek to work and bring in them. May all that You bring, Father, into this house say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And, may our fellowship be that way with each other, Father. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Chapter Links

  1. Glorify God at Work
  2. Holy Spirit and His Voice
  3. God is Good
  4. The Most Important Sermon
  5. Do You Want to Be Made Well?
  6. Let Your Lifeboat Go
  7. Missed Chances
  8. Crossing the Jordan
  9. Obedience from Faith
  10. Mercy

Disclaimer

The Consider Podcast attempts to express opinions through God’s holiness. Nothing concerning justice or injustice should be taken as legal advice or a call to action. There is no political agenda. There is no individual moral life advice. Indeed, each person is solely responsible before God and man for their actions or inactions. The Consider Podcast is narrowly focused on one thing, and only one thing – the need for all to surrender to a life of repentance according to the whole gospel.

The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, folly and madness with the whole gospel.
www.consider.info

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