One of the reasons that we dress casually is to indicate that you can come to church just like you are, wearing casual clothes. Jesus loves you just the way you are, just the way you look. But we have got to think through being dressed up. Again, single parents, and we have so many of you attending our church, our hats go off to you. That is the most challenging job in the universe. Prepare before hand. Get the clothes out.
And let me say a word to parents and single parents about teenagers. This is just a little side bar deal. If your teenager ever says, “Well, I just don’t feel like going to church.” Hey, you are Mom, you are Dad, you are the leader, the parent. They don’t have a choice. They don’t have a say so. Students, when I was young I didn’t always want to go to church either. I admit that. But my parents said, “Ed Young, you are going.” And I am so glad that I did. The same is true, whether you are a student or an adult. Usually on the weekend when you say you don’t feel like attending, but do go, that is when God has something incredible for you. It is never easy to go to church and let me tell you why. The evil one knows what is going to happen in your life. He knows that all heaven will break loose in your life and mine when you go to church and he doesn’t want it to happen. So he will give you and you and you an excuse.
A couple of weeks ago I was lying in bed early Sunday morning and Lisa was prompting me to get up, get up, get up. I told her that I didn’t really feel like it. But she said, “Ed, you are the pastor.” She didn’t say that. I was just joking around.
Listen to this, God took a very ordinary piece of farm furniture and it became extraordinary when Jesus Christ was put there. It became extra-ordinary. Our church is full of hundreds and hundreds of people who are very ordinary. We are ordinary. In God’s perspective, we’re just a piece of farm furniture, but when we come to the point in our lives where we give Jesus Christ our lives, where we make a manger out of our heart and let the baby Jesus be born there, we become extra-ordinary people, don’t we? Not on the outside, but I’m talking about on the inside and the question I pose to you tonight is this…have you made a manger out of your life and let Jesus, the Christ-child live in that manger? Because that is what God did. The Bible says salvation is a free gift.
Now tonight for some families, if you’re like my family, and also tomorrow especially, we will open presents, won’t we? And usually, when people give us presents, they’re so excited and they’re smiling and they kind of do their mouths like this when we’re opening the gifts and “Do you like it, honey?” and when the children smile, the grandchildren, the children, the mate, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, it thrills our heart. Oh, we’re so excited. We finally picked out that sweater or that tie or that dress or those shoes and when they take it out of the box, we always say, “Well, put it on!” and then we’ll go into the room and put it on and come out and people take pictures and we have a pajama top on and shoes and you know, you’ve seen the scene.
Fellowship Church Grapevine – It’s the desire of the person giving the gift for the person receiving it to do what? To put it on. That’s what God did. God said, “Here is My Son, Jesus Christ”. Literally, God came down the stairs of heaven with the baby in His arms. HE experienced, we’re talking about a working class, blue collar existence.
Ephesians 4:28. It says it pure, plain and profound. “He who has been stealing must steal no longer.” Pretty good, isn’t it? Two challenges. Challenge number one. When you go home this afternoon after a Luby’s lunch or California Pizza Kitchen visit or whatever, I want to challenge you to do a walkthrough of your home. Assess what is yours and what belongs to someone else. Have you done the long-term borrowing thing? Have you withheld something from someone so long that now it has a hold on you? Maybe a yard tool, maybe a dress, maybe some shoes, maybe some cash? What? Because a lot of people here are dealing in patterns of deception and this deception has so dominated your spirit that you have gotten into stealing. After you recognize what is yours and what is not yours, box it up and send it to the person you took it from. Now don’t just write a letter and say, “Oops, sorry. I forgot about it.” Write something like this. “Dear whoever you are, I am going to a church called The Fellowship Church. I understand now that part of my development and maturing in Christ is to obey the eighth commandment, to honor God with my resources. I want to honor God by giving these things back to you.”
Well, maybe the item is tattered or messed up. Maybe it is kind of abused because you held it so long. Send them a check, a money order. Maybe some others need to go back to a teacher or back to a convenience store or back to someone else and say you have taken something from them. “I have seized stuff from you. I have cheated you out of money. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” It all starts with the walkthrough of your house.
The second challenge. Do a walkthrough of your heart. Ed Young Pastor ask God to reveal your motives, your reasons, your rationales for doing certain things. God will bring up things in your life that you are doing that will surprise you, if you will just let Him. This is putting shoe leather beneath the eighth commandment. This is the application stuff. This is the “so what” stuff. We don’t just read the eighth commandment and say, “Oh a lot of people are stealing. That’s bad, God.” and leave. We say, “God I have an open mind and an open heart and an open home. Show me what to do because of it.” That is biblical Christianity.
If we as a church put shoe leather beneath this commandment, no longer will we ever play the Steal of Fortune.