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It’s All About Jesus

It’s All About Jesus

| On 27, Dec 2015

Romans 11:35-36 (RSV)

V35- “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

V36- For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

“Why are we doing what we are doing now?”- That’s the question we should pause and ask ourselves honestly as the year 2015 is closing up on us.

Today is the last sermon of the year 2015 and I know many of you are expecting my sermon to be on:

• Thanksgiving (Gratitude to God and people)
• New Year Resolutions
• Counting our blessings for year 2015.

No! I’m not going to close this year with any of the above messages. Rather I want all of us here today to take time to review year 2015 and ask ourselves the following questions:

• Why have I done what I have done in year 2015?
• Why haven’t I done what should have been done for year 2015?
• Why am I doing what I am doing now?

We may have a litany of reasons for the questions that I just asked. My questions are actually probing into your inner motivations. And whatever your inner motivations were, whether they were good or bad, they were the ones defining all your exterior behaviors for the year 2015.

And my purpose today before we enter into the New Year 2016, is to redefine, renew and reform our motivation to be the one that pleases God.

And the right motivation to all the questions that I have posed to you just now should be – IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS – that’s the title of my last sermon for year 2015

We live to ask “WHY” since a child. Children at the age of 2-5 are in their inquiry age and they love to ask why for everything endlessly.

A joke is told of a mother trying to wake up her son to go to school. “WHY must I wake up?” he asks. “I don’t want to wake up, Mum. I don’t want to go to school.” “Why not? Give me two reasons why you don’t want to go.” “Okay! One, the teachers hate me, and two, the students hate me. Everyone hates me.” “Don’t exaggerate, son. They don’t hate you. Get up and go!” “Why? Give me two reasons why I must go!” “Okay, One, you’re not a baby; you’re almost 40 years old. And two, you’re the principal!”

We also are prone to ask God “why” for everything bad that has happened to us.

E.g. Why God, do you allow my husband to die? Why God, am I rejected by my crush? Why God am I sick with this disease? Why God, am I disciplined by this church and have my ministry removed? Why God am I suffering in this trial? Why God, am I poor? Why, Why, Why?????

Strangely, we seldom ask God “why” when good things come to us. I seldom hear you asking, “God, why am I so intelligent in my studies? Why am I so pretty? Why am I so blessed?”

I ever shared a sermon in year 2013 on –ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION. In that sermon I shared that whenever we were faced with trials, we must not ask God the wrong question –WHY? Rather, I encouraged you to ask God –WHAT. “God, what are you telling me from this suffering? What do you want me to be/do in this situation? What do you want me to learn from this trial?”

There are few important WHYS though, that you must ask since we are entering into a new year. If we can realign our inner motivations to be with Christ, then our exterior behaviors for year 2016 will glorify him.

• Why have I done what I have done for year 2015?
• Why haven’t I done what should have been done for year 2015?
• Why am I doing what I am doing now?
• Why am I serving God here in this church?
• Why am I teaching the people here?
• Why am I on the stage leading in worship and music?
• Why am I enduring this trial?
• Why am I working so hard in school or office?
• Why am I persevering in my prayer for this desire?
• Why am I preserving my marriage?
• Why am I disciplining my children?
• Why am I in this church?
• Why am I obeying Christ?
• Why am I giving my tithes and offering?
• Why am I obeying my superiors?
• Why am I disappointed with life and with God?
• Why am I angry with God?

In pondering over these questions and then answering them honestly, you will discern your TRUE HEART’S MOTIVATION in doing what you are doing or in doing what you have or have not done.

This question “WHY” is only useful when it is asked to expose our inner motivation – our heart issues towards spiritual matters.

Our motive of doing things or not doing them may stem from any one of the wrong motivations as follows:

V35- “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

Illustration: A boy heard a friend singing a Christian song that goes like this, “O Lord, I am very grateful, for all you have done for me.” But then this boy realized some of the lyrics were changed by his friend. Instead of those lyrics, his friend was singing, “O Lord, YOU are very, very grateful for all I have done for you.”

What’s wrong with that? Is God grateful for what we do for Him? Should He be?

Doesn’t God tell us He will reward us for what we give up? And so, have you earned a reward from God?
Luke 14:13-14- “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

So, does this mean we can earn a reward from God by inviting those who are poor to our house?

Consider another verse in the Bible…Hebrews 11:6- And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

In the original Greek version, it reads, “must believe that He exists and that He is a WAGE-PAYER to those who earnestly seek him.”

So do we earn wages from God? Should we sing, “O Lord, you are very very grateful for all I have done for you?”

The answer is NO!

E.g. Remember my sermon on the Elder-Brother spirit where I exposed his inner motivation for slaving and obeying his father is because he feels that God owes him a party, a fatted calf and above all the inheritance?

Are you praying and serving God because you think God is very grateful to you and God owes you?

God doesn’t owe us anything. If this is your inner motivation for serving God because you think of reward, then it is a very wrong motivation.

When I use the word “ourselves” I am referring to all our selfishness, our vainglory and our counterfeit gods.

Many of us spend our lives and even year 2015 trying to make our heart’s fondest dreams come true. We ask, “Isn’t that what life is all about, “the pursuit of happiness?” We search endlessly for ways to acquire the things we desire and we are willing to sacrifice much to achieve them. We never imagine that getting our heart’s deepest desire might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us.

E.g. There is a lady by the name of Anna, who wanted desperately to have children. She eventually married and contrary to the expectations of her doctors, was able to bear two healthy children despite her age. But her dreams did not come true. Her overpowering drive to give her children a perfect life made it impossible for her to actually enjoy them. Her overprotectiveness, fears and anxieties and her need to control every detail of her children’s lives made the family miserable. Anna’s oldest child did poorly in school and showed signs of serious emotional problems. The younger child was filled with anger. There’s a good chance her drive to give her children wonderful lives will actually be the thing that ruins them. Getting her heart’s deepest desire may end up being the worst thing that ever happened to her.

Why is getting your heart’s deepest desire so often a disaster? In the book of Romans, Paul wrote that one of the worst things God can do to someone is to “give them over to the desires of their hearts” (Romans 1:24). Why would the greatest punishment imaginable be to allow someone to achieve their fondest dream? It is because our hearts fashion these desires into IDOLS. In that same chapter, Paul summarized the history of the human race in one sentence: “They worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Every human being must live for something. Something must capture our imaginations, our heart’s most fundamental allegiance and hope. But the Bible tells us, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, that object will never be God himself.

If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts. The woman, Anna, who was ruining her children’s lives, did not ‘love her children too much,’ but rather loved God too little in relationship to them. As a result, her child-gods were crushed under the weight of her expectations.

Four friends opened the roof above Jesus and lowered their paralytic friend from there for Jesus to heal. Jesus upon seeing the faith of these four guys, said to the paralytic guy, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:1-5). Jesus did not say, “Son, You are healed.” Here Jesus arrowed in to the heart issue of the paralytic man and this is something we don’t like. The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity besides Jesus. Whether it is to succeed in our chosen field or to have a certain relationship – or even to get up and walk, we are saying, “If I have that, if I get my deepest wish, then everything will be OK.” You’re looking to that thing to save you from oblivion, from disillusionment, from mediocrity. You’ve made that wish into your SAVIOR. You never use that term, of course – but that’s what’s happening. And if you never quite get it, you’re angry, unhappy, and empty. But if you do get it, you ultimately feel MORE empty, MORE unhappy. You’ve distorted your deepest wish by trying to make it into your savior and now that you finally have it, it’s turned on you.

Jesus says, “You see, if you have me, I will actually fulfill you and if you fail me, I will always forgive you. I’m the only savoir who can do that.” But it is hard to figure that out. Many of us first start going to God, going to Church, because we have problems, and we’re asking God to give us a little boost over the hump so that we can get back to saving ourselves, back to pursuing our deepest wish. The problem is that we’re looking to something besides Jesus as savior. Almost always when we first go to Jesus saying, “This is my deepest wish,” his response is that we need to go a lot deeper than that. Could it be that many of our trials and ordeals for the year 2015 is all about God dealing a lot deeper than what we have been asking God for?

Illustration: C.S Lewis put this so poetically in THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. There’s a boy named Eustace and everybody hates him and he hates everybody. He’s selfish, mean and nobody can get along with him. But he finds himself magically on a boat, the Dawn Treader, taking a great voyage. At one point this boat pulls in to an island and Eustace wanders off and finds a cave. The cave proves to be filled with diamonds and rubies and gold. He thinks, “I’m rich!” And immediately, because he is who he is, he thinks that now he’ll be able to pay everybody back. Anyone who has laughed at him, stepped on him, slighted him, will not get their comeuppance. Eustace then falls asleep on the pile of treasure – which he doesn’t yet know is the hoard of a dragon. And because he falls asleep with greedy dragonish thoughts in his heart, when he wakes up, he’s become a dragon – big, terrible and ugly. Soon he realizes there’s no way out. He can’t go on the boat, he’s going to be left on the island alone, he’s going to be horrible all of his life. He falls into despair.

One day, the great lion Aslan shows up, leads him to a clear pool of water and tells him to undress and jump in. And suddenly Eustace realizes that “undress” means “take off the dragon skin.” He begins to gnaw and claw off the scales and he realizes that he can shed his skin. Working at it, he finally peels off this skin – but to his dismay, he finds that underneath he’s got another dragon skin. He tries a second time and a third time, to no avail; the same thing still happens each time. In the end the lion says, You’re going to have let me go deeper. And here’s how Eustace tells the story later:

I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now….The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt…Well, he peeled the beauty stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others have been…Then he caught hold of me…and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment…Then I saw…I’d turned into a boy again.”

Like the paralyzed man, and like Eustace, we thought if we just got a little bit of help we could save ourselves. But we learned that Jesus wanted to take us deeper. We had to let him use his claws and go all the way to our heart and RECONFIGURE the main thing that our heart wanted. You see, it wasn’t our deepest wish itself that was the problem, just as it wasn’t wrong for the paralytic to want to walk or for Eustace to want to be loved and respected. The fact that we thought getting our deepest wish would heal us, would save us – THAT WAS THE PROBLEM. We had to let Jesus be our Savior.

Application: What and who has captured your heart’s most fundamental allegiance and hope for the last 12 months of year 2015? What is the driving force behind your pursuit of your fondest dreams? Is it all about Jesus or about your self-made god? Who is your real savior? Have you been depending on answered prayers and fulfilled desires to save you or to make you happy?

Two Jewish philosophers who knew the Scriptures intimately concluded: “The central principle of the Bible is the rejection of idolatry.” The Bible is therefore filled with story after story depicting the innumerable forms and devastating effects of idol worship. Every counterfeit god a heart can choose –whether love, money, success or power – has a powerful biblical narrative that explains that particular kind of idolatry works itself out in our lives.

One of the central figures of the Bible is Abraham. Like most men in ancient times, he longed for a son and heir who would carry on his name. In Abraham’s case, however, that desire had become the deepest desire of his heart. Finally, beyond all hope, a son was born to him. He now had all he had all he had ever wanted. Then God asked him to give it all up. Why? Because God wanted to ensure that Isaac – his answered prayer had not become the source of Abraham’s happiness.

Application: Perhaps for some of us, the major part of year 2015 was God giving and blessing us with something or someone and then taking them away from us again. Why was God doing to us for year 2015? Could it be that God doesn’t want us to make that blessing into our gods?

David Clarkson, a 17th century English minister said, “If we think of our soul as a house, idols are set up in every room, in every faculty.” We prefer our own wisdom to God’s wisdom, our own desires to God’s will and our reputation to God’s honor. Clarkson looked at human relationships and showed how we have a tendency to make them MORE INFLUENTIAL and important to us than God. The human heart is indeed a factory that mass-produces idols.

E.g. I can only surmise that the heartache and the trial that happened to Pastor Toh Nee and me three years ago is to dislodge relationships that we have elevated to be more important and more influential than God. In short, we have betted our lives on the wrong king and Christ wants to be re-enthroned in our hearts as our only King. Thus those deep, painful claws of God stripping and tearing away of all our idolatry.

Is there any hope? Yes, if we begin to realize that idols cannot simply be removed. They must be REPLACED. If you only try to uproot them, they grow back but they can be supplanted. By what? By God himself, of course. But by God, we do not mean a general belief in His existence. Most people have that, yet their souls are riddled with idols. What we need is a living encounter with God like Jacob.

V36- For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

The right motivation should not be- “It is all about ourselves”. Rather, IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS.

When it’s all about Jesus, it means we recognize……

Romans 11:36a- “For from him…”

Job 41:10b-11 – “Who then is he that can stand before Me? Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.”

This is what Paul quotes in our Key text. God emphasizes that He created everything and that everything belongs to Him.

Note that the Job 41:10-11 does not imply that we give nothing to God. We do give things to God. But these verses clearly state that, in giving to God, we never create an obligation in God by giving Him something that already belongs to Him.

Illustration: Imagine you are a dad and you have a six-year old son. He approaches you on your birthday saying, “Daddy, could you please give me P1000?” You ask, “What for?” He says, “I want to buy you a present!” So you give him the money and later he returns, giving you a big bottle of perfume plus a pack of cheese curls for himself. Now, while you would be pleased that he remembers your birthday and wants to give you something, is it possible that his present would put you in his debt? Do you need to pay him back for this present? No!! Why? Because your own money bought the present.

Application: Just so between us and God. Whatever we give to him – money, time, our whole lives – already is in His Hands. He made us. We are His. We live today only by His mercy and grace for all we have is from him. HE IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS. All things flow from Him.

Romans 11:36b – “And through him…”

Not only do all things flow from Him, but He is the reason for the continued existence of the universe. He alones understands the purpose for everything that He created. Everything continues by him.

E.g. George Washington Carver is the man who discovered 255 different things you could do with the lowly peanut. Dr. Carver is revered for his years of work at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. Because of him, the South began to move away from cotton-based economy to one based on other crops. Dr. Carver was a devout Christian who had a deep knowledge of God. When he was asked where he came up with so many uses for the peanut, he told this story. He said that when he was a young man, he went for a walk in the fields and while he was there, he and the Lord had a conversation. When he asked the Lord to show him why he had created the universe, the Lord said, “Son, that’s much too big for you. Ask me for something you can understand.” So he tried again. “Lord, show me why you created the world.” “Still too big for you. Try again.” Carver dropped his eyes to the ground and happened to see some peanuts on the vine. “Lord, could you tell me why you created the peanut?” “That’s a good question. Now we’ve found something you can understand.” The Lord showed Dr. Carver the secrets of the peanut and he used what God showed him to change the world.

All things come “through him.” All knowledge, all wisdom, everything we have – comes “through him”. HE IS THE SUSTAINER OF ALL THINGS – even the peanuts!

V35c – And to him are all things.

This is a breathtaking statement because Paul includes “all things” in his exclamation. Nothing is left out, no part of creation excluded.

God is the beginning, the middle and the end of “all things.”
Isaiah 44:6 (Message)- God, the King of Israel, your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: “I’m first, I’m last, and everything in between. I’m the only God there is. Who compares with me?

Everything comes from Him, everything continues by him and everything finds its ultimate purpose in him.

Life is like a giant jigsaw puzzle and we are like children trying to put the puzzle together with only a handful of pieces and someone took the box that has the picture on the cover. So we’re left trying to fit our little handful of pieces together and trying to figure out the big picture at the same time. No wonder we struggle to figure out what life is all about. As the years pass we pick up more pieces to the puzzle and things that once troubled us now seem to fit into place. And we have a new appreciation for the wisdom of God because nothing is ever wasted. Everything “fits” somewhere.

Or we are like ants crawling across a painting by Rembrandt. When we come to the darker colors, it seems as if the entire painting is dark, somber, forbidding. Everything around us is dark brown or dark blue or midnight black. But if we could only stand back from the painting, we would see that the darker hues are offset by lighter colors – red, green, yellow, blue and orange. It is the darkness of the darker hues that makes the brighter colors stands out so vividly.

Application: So it is with life itself. We may spend days or weeks or years in DARK TONES OF LIFE. Sickness, heartache, tragedy, mistreatment and betrayal may cause us to think that there are no lighter tones. But God is painting a MASTERPEICE in your life and before He is finished, He will use every color on his palette. If you do not see the final product on earth, you will see it clearly in heaven.


It’s all about Jesus……..

-When your doctor tells you those dreaded words, “It’s cancer,” and you remember that it’s all about Jesus, you’ll have confidence and peace to face that awful disease.

-When someone you trusted betrays you and you remember that it’s all about Jesus, you can count on the eternal faithfulness of Jesus; that even if everyone deserts you, Jesus will be there with you. Moreover Jesus understands your pain because He too was betrayed by one of His very own.

-When you work so hard on something, but it all comes crashing down; and you remember that it’s all about Jesus, your self-worth is not shattered because your worth is found in Jesus.

-When your dream, whatever that dream is, goes up in smoke and you remember that it’s all about Jesus, you have the confidence that Jesus has a better dream for you. After all, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

-When your expected promotion is thwarted by a more politically savvy colleague; and you remember that it’s all about Jesus, you draw strength from the knowledge that it is He who puts down one and exalts another.

-When you’ve given your all to raise your child and yet he turns his back on you; and you remember that it’s all about Jesus, hope fills your heart as you know that Jesus desires all children to come to Him.

Whatever your situation, remember that it’s all about Jesus.

-When you remember that it’s all about Jesus, that’s who you will turn to in your situation.

– When you remember that it’s all about Jesus, that’s who you will seek help in your time of darkness.

– When you remember that it’s all about Jesus, that’s who you will think of when you make a decision for your life.

– When you remember that it’s all about Jesus, that’s who will come to mind when you serve.

– Whether you serve Him as a pastor, a missionary, a church staff, a church leader or a small group leader – in church, in an agency, in the community, in the regions beyond – when you remember that it’s all about Jesus, you’ll serve a little DIFFERENTLY, you’ll serve a lot more FAITHFULLY, you’ll serve with GREATER PASSION.

That should be our inner motivation for everything – IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS.


V36 – “To him be the glory forever! Amen”

The mysteries of God lead us in one of two directions. Either you give up your FAITH altogether and become a skeptic or you bow the knee before the God who is too great, too vast, too awesome for you to fully comprehend.

God always leaves us with a choice, doesn’t he? You can believe and be saved or you can doubt and be damned. But either way, many of your questions will never be fully answered. If you choose to BELIEVE, then we are left with these final words, “To him be the glory forever!”

In life and death – To him be the glory forever!

In joy and sorrow – To him be the glory forever!

In good days and dark nights – To him be the glory forever!

In your career and in your home – To him be the glory forever!

In your prosperity and in your poverty – To him be the glory forever!

In gentle breeze and in gathering storm – To him be the glory forever!

In days of peace and in days of wars – To him be the glory forever!

In the classroom or in the boardroom – To him be the glory forever!

In moments of victory and in darkest defeat – To him be the glory forever!

In prayers answered and in prayers unanswered – To him be the glory forever!

In yesterday’s tears, today’s rejoicing and tomorrow’s adventures – To him be the glory forever!

In heaven and on earth – To him be the glory forever!

Whatever comes, whether tragedy or triumph, in the midst of the years, with the changing of the season, when we know enough or nothing at all, when hope is gone and all we have left is God……To Him alone be the glory forever! Amen!!!!

Why are we doing what we are doing? Is it all about ourselves – our counterfeit gods? Or is it all about Jesus?

V36- For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

Jesus is the Source of all things.

Jesus is the Sustainer of all things.

Jesus is the Supreme purpose of all things.

Reconfigure our hearts’ motivation to be all about Jesus.

A story is told of a wealthy widower who had a son, whom he loved deeply. Among other things, the father was an art aficionado. And so he travelled the world collecting priceless paintings by Rembrandt (17th century Dutch painter), Monet (early 20th century French painter) and Van Gogh (19th century Dutch painter). Back home, he decorated his vast estate with the treasured art.

Years passed and the son grew up. The nation was now torn by war and his son enlisted to defend his country. After a few months of combat, the father received the sad news that his son had been killed in action.

Deep discouragement and mourning set in. The house that was once filled with laughter of his young boy was now silent and hollow.

Several winters passed, and the father was facing another Christmas alone when a knock sounded from the door. A young soldier stood on the front step.

“Sir,” the young man said, “I am so sorry to bother you.” He was carrying something tucked under his arm. “I was in the same platoon as your son. He and I became very close friends and he often told me about your love for art. I am not that good of an artist, but one evening during a lull in the action, I sketched a portrait of your son. It’s not much, but I thought you would like to have it.”

The father thanked the soldier, and he left. Inside the estate the father unwrapped the gift. The sketch remarkably resembled his son in every way. Tears came to the father’s eyes. It became his most precious art piece. He hung it over the mantel of his fireplace. Every day he looked at it, and it brought him much consolation and joy.

Some years later, the father passed away. Art collectors from all over the country flew in to buy the quality art that was to be auctioned. Prospective buyers filled the room waiting to place a bid for a Rembrandt or Monet. To everyone’s surprise, the auction began not with what they had expected, but with a piece of art that wasn’t on the list – the sketch done by the young soldier.

The art collectors looked at one another, bewildered. You could hear them, annoyed and impatient. “We didn’t travel this far to purchase an amateur’s sketch,” they said. “Let’s go on with the auction!”

The auctioneer pressed on. “We will start this bidding at one hundred dollars,” he said.

No one bid. There was silence. “Let’s get on with it!” someone shouted.

Again the auctioneer said, “One hundred dollars is the starting bid.”

Slowly, an old man at the back raised his hand and said, “I have been the neighbor of this family for years. I knew the father. I knew the son. I knew the mother before she passed away. They were dear, dear people. I will buy the sketch. I don’t have much money but I will pay the one hundred dollars. I would very much like to have it.”

“The bid is one hundred,” said the auctioneer. “Anyone bid one hundred and fifty? Anyone?”

No one said anything. “Let him have it so we can move on!” the other collectors said, looking at their watches and tapping their feet.

“Going once! Going twice!” The auctioneer hit the gavel. “Gone!”

The other collectors expected him to continue, but to everyone’s surprise, the auctioneer said, “The auction is now over!”

The crowd started to protest. “Wait a minute,” said a collector. “It hasn’t even begun! Let’s get on with the good stuff!”

“Sorry,” said the auctioneer. “The auction is over.”

“It can’t be!” complained another collector. “What’s going on?”

“It’s very simple,” said the auctioneer. “According to the father’s written will – ‘When you auction all my paintings, start with the sketch of my son. The one who takes the son gets it all.”

IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS. That’s what I want my life to be about.

Start your new year with the Son of God.

When you have the Son, you have it all. It’s all about Jesus!!!!


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