2 Kings 18:5-7 (to “forth”)
I would like to speak to you about commitment – commitment to the Lord Jesus. Commitment is a subject for those that already have believed in the Lord Jesus. It is not possible to commit to something or someone you do not believe in. So before I start, I just want to appeal to your heart, if there is anyone in this room that still does not believe in Jesus – it is not too late, and you are not in the wrong place. As a matter of fact, take your opportunity tonight, just trust in Jesus, believe in Jesus: the Man Who came from heaven to earth to die on the Cross of Calvary’s tree. And the reason He did this was because of your sins and my sins. Just trust in Him! Leave your life in His hands. Trust and believe in Him, and you will be saved immediately, now and for ever.
Now, if you believe in the Lord Jesus, like most of you in this room – wow!
What is commitment to the Lord Jesus? What does it mean to be a committed Christian? You know what, if I was to speak to you about commitment to the company – in business – and I was to hold a talk about this, I would probably have a room that was about 10 times bigger than this, and people would come up and subscribe and pay to listen to how you can be more fruitful in your businesses and to what you can do.
Well, commitment, as a word, is the same whether you apply it in business, whether you apply it in sports, or whether you apply it in your private life. It means engaging yourself in something for a purpose. You have a purpose in you.
Now, as Christians, as believers in this world, we are called to be committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has saved us, my dear brother and sister, and He has called us out of this evil world. He has called us for a purpose. So, why are you waiting? Commit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ!
You may have been a believer for many years. Maybe you have drifted away. Maybe you are tired, maybe you have doubts. Maybe you are going through a difficult moment in life. This is all possible, and each one of us is tested in this. And my desire this evening is that we might have a boost of encouragement to commit to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I read in Luke 24 because I think there is a personal indicator of commitment in this verse. I will explain what I mean because the question may arise in our hearts whether I am really a committed believer? A good question! It is good to have questions like that.
Well, how would I know this? There is an indicator I think, and I say ‘personal’ because it is an individual matter. I cannot tell whether any one of you is a committed believer. But you can say it about yourself, and you will know if you are committed.
Now, these two disciples were going on the way to Emmaus. They were going home, and they were depressed; seriously depressed. Everything they thought was real and true and beautiful had been had collapsed. Maybe something has collapsed in your life. Maybe you have relationship issues, family issues, work problems. Perhaps you have lost your job. Things can become very serious, and things can be very deep in our life and we can get depressed. There is no reason to be discouraged as a believer. I would urge you to turn to the Lord Jesus and to be committed.
So, how does this work – this indicator? We read here that once they recognised the Lord Jesus, and realised that the Lord Jesus had been with them, they said, “Was not our heart burning in us as he spoke to us on the way, and as he opened the scriptures to us?”
Let me tell you something. As you are walking down here, the Lord Jesus is always with you. You may not always be with the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus constantly speaks to us. As we go through our pathway the Lord will tell us things. And the question is, are we reacting to what the Lord is saying? Is our heart burning when the Lord speaks to us? Take that question home for yourself.
I tell you, that is an indicator of whether you are a committed believer. If you are not committed to the Lord, probably you will not react to what the Lord is telling you. But the Lord speaks all the time. I have discovered it myself – how many times I have ignored what the Lord is telling me! This is an indicator to us of whether we are committed.
Now we go to Luke 9. The way I would like to speak about commitment tonight is this – I believe there are three things that lie behind commitment. Commitment is something that needs a structure with something that boosts it, something that encourages it, something that holds it up in our life. We cannot just say, ‘Oh, I am committed to that.’ We need to be real about it. There are things that will help us to be committed to the Lord Jesus.
The first one is, I would say, very difficult. The first one is willingness. Am I willing to be committed to the Lord? Now, to be committed comes from a desire. You cannot tell me, ‘I want to be committed and I would like to be committed,’ but then you do not try to be committed. So, do I want to follow the Lord Jesus? If you are seeking – if you are wanting to be the Lord’s servant, you will be, and the Lord will help you.
So, the reason I read this passage is because it says, “If any one will come after me.” The same passage in Mark says it even better, “Whoever desires to come after me” (Mark 8:34). There needs then to be a desire to follow the Lord. It is very simple: if you would like to be a committed believer, you need to desire it. You need to want, you need to have a desire, to follow the Lord Jesus. And I would wish that you may be stirred in your life to desire to follow the Lord Jesus. Because what follows now is anything but easy.
The first thing the Lord says is, “If any one will come after me, let him deny himself.” How is that possible? How can we do that? The Lord is asking us to forget ourselves. How does that work? We live in a society that boosts us and says, ‘Right, you have got to believe in yourself, you have got to have self-confidence, you need to have this and the other, and then you will become a marvellous person!’ That is what the world is saying.
But the Lord says, ‘if you want to follow me, deny yourself.’ That is immediately the first thing that happens – you have to deny yourself. I think, a committed believer will be visible – will be somebody that denies himself. This denying himself is a big term, a big word that the Lord uses, but it goes down to basic things in our lives. Decision-making – when you have a decision to make, it is not what you want, it is what God wants. That is an example of denying yourself.
‘Oh, I just need to do that.’ ‘I cannot read this morning, I am late, I need to go.’ You have denied the Lord, you have not denied yourself. So, dear friend, denying yourself is basics. To be a committed believer you need to deny yourself.
And then it says, “take up his cross daily and follow me.” We spoke about following the Lord. A committed believer will follow the Lord Jesus, taking up his cross. What is this cross? Well, it is all sorts of things. I could tell you all sorts of things, but very basically sometimes even our character can be our cross. Our characters get us into a lot of wrong things in our lives sometimes. And sometimes this complicates matters.
We have got to take up our cross, our burdens, and we have got to follow the Lord Jesus. And what does it say? It says, “daily.” This is another very important matter about commitment. If I am not committed today and tomorrow, I have a day off, and commitment to the Lord is a daily matter.
We come to the second point: John chapter 20, a second very important matter. So, I want, I wish, I desire to follow the Lord Jesus. That is a very good thing, and it is always nice to see younger ones having that desire. It is a great encouragement to older believers to see younger believers that want to follow the Lord Jesus. You do not know how encouraging it is to see somebody young and full of energy, that says, ‘Look, I want to follow Jesus’ in a world that has rejected Jesus. So, I wish you could have a desire to follow the Lord.
Then comes the second point. What is the second point? It is love for the Lord Jesus. If you desire to follow the Lord, you need to love Him.
Why did I read this passage? I think that Mary is a really good example of a commited believer. Mary was one who had an amazing experience with the Lord Jesus. And from that moment on, she loved Him dearly up to the point that everybody else had gone home – nobody else was there, nobody else! Mary was at the tomb of the Lord, and she was crying. Now, if you think that being a committed believer means you are always boosted, you are always happy, you are always feeling great – that is not the point. You will have sad moments. You will have difficult times, and there will be moments in your life that will challenge you.
Mary was crying – she was desperate. Her Lord, the one she had committed to, was dead. But what kept her there? You know what kept her there – her love for the Lord Jesus. She stayed there, and the Lord rewards her. He rewards her most beautifully. It is amazing what this woman experiences. She had an amazing experience beforehand, but this experience is far greater than the one she had before.
For a start, she sees two angels. Have you ever seen an angel? There are servants in the Bible that have seen angels, and the Bible tells us to be careful in hospitality because we may be having angels with us at times (Heb 13:2). So, there are angels there. The angels are active here. But, I tell you, this woman saw two angels there, and they spoke to her. And they said, ‘Why are you weeping, who are you looking for?’ And she – what comes out from her mouth? She was looking for her Lord Jesus, the One she was committed to. That is Who she was thinking about! She was not thinking it was late, she was not thinking it was dark, she was not thinking she was lonely. She was looking for the Lord Jesus!
And the Lord Jesus comes right there, behind her. She could not see Him. It says that she did not know it was Him. So, she saw a man. This Man was Jesus, but she did not recognise Him. It is a challenging thought. We would normally say we would always seek to see the Lord in circumstances and situations. Well, sometimes it may be difficult to see the Lord in matters, in situations.
But I tell you something – she recognised Him when He called her, because “the Lord knows those that are His” (2 Tim 2:19). It says that the sheep “know his voice” and He knows His sheep (John 10:4, 27). And so, there is an example of real commitment, and the Lord rewards her commitment immediately.
So, what happens? There she is, she gets one of the greatest messages of Christianity. The entire Christian faith, you would have probably heard this, is based on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And she, Mary, carried the message – the first person to carry the message of the resurrection of Christ. What a glory! You know, she was a committed soul, and she could pass on such a glorious message.
Well, I hope you can see that love is for the Lord Jesus is vital. We speak about loving one another. It is a commandment that the Lord has given. We cannot love one another if we do not love the Lord Jesus personally. And that love is to be day by day. We need to be encouraged and stirred day after day.
So, as I said – willingness to be committed, desire to be committed; love for the Lord Jesus. Let us come to the last one. The last part is what I read of in 2 Kings, and that is trust: trusting the Lord Jesus.
If you seek to be a committed believer, you must trust in the Lord Jesus. That means that when you come to a difficult moment in your life, you turn to Him and let Him lead you through that difficult moment. It is easier said than done. And I am at fault so many times! And I say, ‘I knew I should not do it and I did it – it is wrong.’ We must trust in the Lord.
Now, Hezekiah – see what it says about him. What a an example he is! And you know the story of Hezekiah is a beautiful story. If some of you younger ones especially, do not know it or cannot remember it, go and read it. There are two chapters there that tell you all about this story. It is repeated twice in the Bible, exactly the same story, verse after verse, you can read it. And if something is repeated twice, this means it is very important. So read the story of Hezekiah – if you have never read it, read it. I will not spend time now – but the whole point is that it was an amazing thing that happened to that man.
He was not the most glorious king – Solomon was that. He was not the greatest warrior – David was that. So what was special about Hezekiah? Well, it says, “He trusted in Jehovah the God of Israel,” to the point that it says there was nobody like him before or after of the kings of Judah. He was unique because He trusted in Jehovah.
One aspect of commitment is to trust in the Lord Jesus. Now, of the three examples I read, there is difficulty in every the life of each single example. Of the first ones it says that they thought everything had collapsed. Now, where do we see commitment in these disciples? You will recall that as they went to Emmaus it was getting dark. They were worried, and they wanted to go to their house, and they asked the Lord to come with them. It was not a pleasant journey. It was quite a long journey, and in those days travelling was not as easy as it maybe is today. The moment they recognised the Lord nothing stopped them, whether it was dark, whether it was a long way, it does not matter – they got up and returned to Jerusalem. This is commitment!
Now let us look at Mary: she was weeping. It was a difficult moment in her life. She stayed there and she persevered through that trial, through that test of her faith and of her love for the Lord Jesus. There she came out with the most glorious message, the resurrection of her Lord.
Now Hezekiah: when you read the story of Hezekiah, I think you will see some similarities in your life and you will find some similar experiences that you have had. He was being insulted by a great king. But the point of the insults is abysmal. It was terrible. What this king was coming up to do when he said, ‘Who do you trust in? Who do you think is going to win? Do you know what – he even dares to say – this king – he says, ‘I have spoken to Jehovah and I am coming in His name. Do you realise that?’
Do you realise Satan is taking the rights of God, and bringing them against His Church? It is a warning for us. This is a difficult scene, but what goes through this? Hezekiah’s trust in Jehovah. And as he trusted in God he came out of that victorious. He did not even have to fight – He prayed. First he did not have courage to pray. He sent people to Isaiah. Isaiah prayed and Isaiah gave him an answer. The second time, you will probably remember, he gets a letter telling him he would be defeated and so on. And he takes this letter and goes and prays himself. And God answers his prayer personally. And an angel goes out that same night and defeats the entire army.
I just want you to be encouraged to commit your life into the Lord Jesus’s hand.
You know, if you are a believer, you have a great privilege, you have been given the gift of faith, and you trust and you believe, in the only true God. There is nobody greater than Him!
I got a text message yesterday from a colleague who was going through a difficult moment, and it said, ‘What kind of man is your boss?’ And as I read it, I was thinking, ‘I have no man as a boss – my boss is God Himself.’ What a great thing that we do not trust in man, but we trust in God alone! So, we trust in the one Who has made all things, Who has called you to be His. Why are you waiting to commit yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Remember; be willing to be committed, desire to be committed; love the Lord Jesus and He will reward you, and trust in the Lord Jesus always. May the Lord bless His word, for His name’s sake. Amen.
Vittorio N. Casavecchia
9 November 2019