Jesus was the greatest communicator ever. He was articulate, humorous, informative, but he did not stop with style and presentation. Jesus took the next step and challenged people to do something great. For example, the Rich Young Ruler – ‘Go, sell everything, and come follow me.’ That’s a challenge to be great.
Challenge to do Something Great
by Delbert Young
Challenge to do Something Great
Scriptures: Revelation 3:15-16; Genesis 12:1-4; Matthew 18:1-4; John 10:38; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Mark 3:13-16; Mark 9:33-35
(Video) Alan Jackson said, “It’s alright to be Little Bitty.” He said, “It’s all part of a Little Bitty scheme.” Is it? Is being Little Bitty God’s plan for you? Is God’s scheme Little Bitty? Don’t get me wrong. I like Alan Jackson, but it seems to me that everything God did, he did big, with a big scheme. For example, we begin as a sperm and an egg – Little Bitty, but we grow to hundreds of pounds. An oak tree begins as an acorn, but grows to a massive oak. Even a single cell will multiply itself thousands and thousands of times. Little Bitty is a good beginning point, but must not become a mentality. We mostly live in little hometowns with Little Bitty hometown mentalities. If not cautious, twenty years from now you will still be thinking it’s alright to be Little Bitty and continuing to wait for your Little Bitty dream. Sadly, most people want someone to tell them, “It’s alright to be Little Bitty.” I won’t. I want to CHALLENGE you today to do something great, not Little Bitty. What if the lyrics said, “It’s not alright to be Little Bitty”? God took a lot of time to make you witty. Might as well share, might as well smile. Life goes on for a long, long while”? Let’s talk.
You might say this series will not relate to you. Maybe things are in such a mess in your life there seems no room to think about greatness. Then that is your CHALLENGE. Every single one of us are CHALLENGED by something. There’s an old story about Abraham Lincoln. I’m not positive it is true, but I love the story. The story says Abraham Lincoln, during a difficult time in the Civil War, went into a church just after service began. He sat in the back unnoticed. He listened to the music and the sermon and left just before the meeting was formally dismissed. When Lincoln returned home his wife asked him about the church service. “It was okay,” Lincoln replied, obviously unimpressed. “Did you not like the music?” Mrs. Lincoln asked. “Oh, I did” replied the president. “It was sung beautifully and artfully,” he said. “Oh, then you must not have enjoyed the pastor’s sermon,” his wife said. “No, he was articulate, well-informed, and eloquent. He was humorous, but not overly; sober, but not too much. The sermon was researched and presented well, but ultimately, it failed miserably,” Lincoln said. “It failed? After all that? How could he have failed?” she asked. Lincoln said, “It failed, because, though well-informed, humorous, and articulate, the pastor failed to challenge us to do anything truly great.” If this story is true, it seems things haven’t changed a great deal since Lincoln left that church disappointed.
Jesus was the greatest communicator ever. He was articulate and humorous, i.e. imagine a Pharisee straining out a gnat from his water, but then swallowing down a nasty camel hair. That analogy had to bring a smile to the faces of his listeners. He gave lots of information, but he did not stop with information. He did not stop with style and presentation. Jesus took the next step and challenged people to do something. For example, the Rich Young Ruler – “Go, sell everything, and come follow me.” That’s a CHALLENGE to be great.
I hear lots of great speeches, and lots of great sermons, but more often than not, I go away without anyone having challenged me to do something truly great. I have acquired lots of information over my years of listening to and reading thousands and thousands of sermons, but seldom am I challenged to leave my mediocrity and do something great with my life. How about you?
How many believe that “deliberate mediocrity” is wrong? Well, it’s according, right? “What do you mean by ‘mediocrity’?” We get our word “mediocre” from mediocrity. The actual definition for “mediocrity” is (1) being average and not outstanding; (2) a person of second-rate ability or value. It’s like being lukewarm.
Revelation 3:15-16 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit [emeo – to vomit] you out of my mouth.
The Lord called those people to do something great, but they only lived in mediocrity. It was wrong. We do not think of mediocrity as being wrong or sin, but it certainly makes the Lord sick. God hates sin, but a person living in mediocrity makes the Lord sick. If you live your life in mediocrity, you settled for something less when you could have the best, or at least better. How many people today settle for a “mediocre” life when God called them to greatness? How about you? Are you settling for a second-rate life – average, not outstanding, lukewarm? Or, will you accept God’s CHALLENGE and do something outstanding?
Mediocrity is the enemy of outstanding/greatness. When we settle and become content with mediocrity, we no longer push for greatness. If you do not increase, you will eventually decrease. As I pondered this thought, I reflected on the Bible characters who the Lord gave us as examples. It’s true. Every one of them who became great accepted God’s CHALLENGE to do something outstanding. Noah accepted the CHALLENGE to build the ark. Abraham accepted the CHALLENGE to step out in faith and go to a new land. Joseph accepted the CHALLENGE to excel even in prison. David, as a young student, accepted the CHALLENGE to become king. Esther, a young woman, accepted the CHALLENGE to approach the king and deliver her people. Peter, James, John and all the disciples accepted the CHALLENGE to lay it all down, follow Jesus, and change the world. My point is that whatever you do in life that matters has to do with accepting the CHALLENGE to do something great.
Life Gate Church is a great church, but it did not just happen. First, I had to accept the CHALLENGE to step out and do something. Judy had to love and trust me enough to follow. Then, many of you had to buy in with us and here we are twenty plus years later. We are a part of something great because we took the CHALLENGE.
What has God CHALLENGED you to do? Today the Lord God wants to CHALLENGE you to do something great and get out of mediocrity. Your CHALLENGE might be getting out of debt, or it might be running for public office, or beginning a business. You have a CHALLENGE to do something great. What is it?
I want to give you this quote. “Greatness is earned. It is not a gift; it is a reward. It is not accidental; it is cultivated. It is not bestowed by others; it is self-determined. You do not have to hope it happens. You can plot a course to make it happen.” Have you? Have you plotted a course to make it happen, or will you live your life second-rate?
I want to talk about four principles that will help you plot a course to doing something great with your life.
(1) LEAVE MEDIOCRITY AND TRY.
Nothing will change in your life until you leave where you are.
Genesis 12:1-4 The LORD had said to Abram, “LEAVE your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a GREAT nation and I will bless you; I will make your name GREAT, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” SO ABRAM LEFT, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.
What would you have done? Would you be willing to LEAVE your place of “comfort” and go for it? Abraham’s life was mediocre until he stepped out. Had he never taken the CHALLENGE, we would know nothing, or very little, about Abraham. He would have never experienced the life he experienced. It says the Lord had said to Abram. Obviously, the challenge had been given by God to Abraham prior and Abraham had not accepted. However, he did this time. Perhaps that is what has happened to you. God has CHALLENGED you to do something in the past, but you fiddled around and never answered the CHALLENGE. You will never experience Isaac and the life God wants you to experience until you leave your mediocrity and try something great. You can always look back – be a block of salt.
Once the disciples of Jesus were arguing about who was the greatest.
Matthew 18:1-4 About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, ANYONE WHO BECOMES AS HUMBLE AS THIS LITTLE CHILD IS THE GREATEST in the Kingdom of Heaven.
True humility has a profound effect upon greatness. Notice that Jesus never, not once, suppressed his disciples desire to be a great disciple or even be the greatest disciple. He simply gave them insight as to how it would happen. A secret is humility.
Some think a Christ follower cannot desire greatness for “Christians” are to remain “humble.” Actually, they confuse “mediocrity” with humility. People think that, let’s say, a great celebrity cannot be humble. They want the spotlight and that cannot be of God, they say. I will give you one name that destroys that theory. The name is JESUS CHRIST. Was anyone ever more famous than Jesus? Was Jesus humble? Did Jesus live a “mediocre” life? Was he a celebrity? Humility does not correlate with a low spotlight. Humility and a low profile are not synonyms. Jesus had a constant spotlight on his life. He was very high profile, yet he was humble.
Many people use, or blame, their “being a Christ follower” as an excuse for not trying to accomplish something great. A problem is we do not understand the true meaning of humility. True humility is realizing from where one’s strength comes. The opposite of humility is vanity. Vanity is thinking you accomplished great things through your own abilities, strength, etc. Jesus said…
John 10:38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
Humility is realizing the connection between you and Father God. Humility is the realization that God provided you with ability and with his strength to pull off the accomplishment. It’s called God’s grace. How many believe that you have the grace of God in your life? The apostle Paul said…
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by THE GRACE OF GOD I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Paul said he worked harder, meaning he accomplished greater things than any other apostle. However, he knew from where his abilities and strength came. They were from God’s grace – God’s empowering.
The truth is we stifle God’s grace and empowerment by NOT attempting great things. His grace is without effect unless we attempt great exploits. Christians say they have great power, much grace, many gifts, and so many abilities that we say God gave to us, yet we do nothing great. Our not attempting to accomplish something great is like saying God is not strong enough. It’s saying God’s grace is not sufficient. Is it or not? What are you doing with the grace God gave you?
The Lord has CHALLENGED some of you to step out and begin your own business. He has CHALLENGED some of you to step out and become involved in the politics of this area. He has CHALLENGED some of you to simply get your finances under control, or your marriage under control. The Lord has CHALLENGED some of you to go on mission trips. The Lord has CHALLENGED some of you to go back to school for more training. Why have you not done it? Is it that God is not strong enough? Is it that his grace is not adequate? Or, is it that you have settled for a second-rate, mediocre life? The Lord is CHALLENGING you today to do something great with your life.
Mark 3:13-16 Jesus went up on a mountainside and CALLED TO HIM THOSE HE WANTED, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons…
Jesus did not choose his twelve based on their lack of ability. He chose them because they would be effective. He would trust the entire ministry to them. They must be effective people. The apostle Paul was extremely effective. Think about it. EVERY GREAT LEADER, EVERY OUTSTANDING PERSON, IS KNOWN FOR HIS OR HER EFFECTIVENESS. They can deliver and do. The Lord will not CHALLENGE you to do anything you cannot do effectively. So, if he has CHALLENGED you to do it then you will be effective/successful.
I mentioned earlier that I had to step out to begin Life Gate. I was never the pastor of a church before. I was around pastors and I knew I had the ability to deliver. I worked with people. I knew I could do that part. I gave myself to the study of God’s word. I knew I could do that. I prepared and I knew I would be effective. The thing the Lord will CHALLENGE you to do is the thing you will be effective doing. What is he challenging you to do? It’s something outstanding. Do it!
Mark 9:33-35 After they arrived at Capernaum, Jesus and his disciples settled in the house where they would be staying. Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down and called the twelve disciples over to him. Then he said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the SERVANT OF EVERYONE ELSE.”
Jesus said if you want to be great then serve. Again, he did not suppress the desire to be great. He just gave another necessity. We normally think of serving in a restricted arena. We mostly see it as doing deeds, or acts of kindness for others and surely it is. However, did Jesus serve the “Rich Young Ruler” when Jesus CHALLENGED the young man’s value system? Did Jesus serve the “Woman at the Well” when he CHALLENGED her pattern of male relationships? Did Jesus serve the Pharisees when he CHALLENGED them as being a generation of vipers doomed for hell? I attempt to serve you every week by teaching the Word of God. Serving definitely is doing something nice for people, but it is also being straight when counseling someone.
Let me ask you a question. Are you serving your children by disciplining them, or do you serve them by doing everything they want? Do you serve them by NOT allowing them to do some of the things they want, or by letting them do everything they want? Don’t confuse serving with only being “nice.” Jesus was not always nice, but he always served.
Being a great person does not necessarily reference wealth, fame, prestige, or position. True greatness is a way of living, not a one-time event. Greatness is who a person is, not what a person has. Greatness does not come from doing good. Anyone can do good. Greatness comes from doing your best. It comes from refusing to be lukewarm and mediocre. It comes from (1) answering the CHALLENGE to LEAVE; walk in the CHALLENGE of (2) HUMILITY knowing God has given you talents and abilities to do great things which bring (3) EFFECTIVENESS. All this is so you can (4) SERVE people with your greatness.
What will you do today with this lesson? Is it just another sermon, or will you accept God’s invitation and CHALLENGE to do Something Great?
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