Commitment: Asian Style (Matthew 16.23-27)
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Friends,
This is the message that I use when going out on behalf of Southeast Asia Christian Services. Commitment: Asian Style - Matthew 16:23-27
><> Gary

COMMITMENT: ASIAN STYLE

MATTHEW 16:24-27

Apocryphal Story: Pig and a chicken were walking down a country lane when they came upon a small country church. On the sign board was the title for this week's sermon; " How We Can Serve Others ". The chicken turned to the pig and said, " I know how we can serve people. We can give them bacon and eggs every morning for breakfast. " To which the pig replied, " That's fine for you. With you it is liberal giving but for me it is total commitment. "

Each time that we meet upon the Lord's Day we can reflect upon our commitment to Jesus as we meet Him at His table. The loaf and the cup remind us of the total commitment of Jesus to us and calls us to full commitment to Him.

The two trips that I have taken to Thailand ( 1986 and 1997 ) were testing times for my faith.

I was challenged by fear: Fear of the Known: 1) Bandits, 2) Opium Warlords 3) False brethren, 4) soldiers in remote villages. Fear of the Unknown: 1) Evil spirits, 2) arrest, 3) deportation, 4) death.

I realized that as I looked upon Christians in these remote places that I had never been called upon to deny myself anything to be a follower of Jesus.

Ordinary brothers and sisters, sacrificing daily, taught me the meaning of commitment

as Jesus called each of us to in our text for this morning. " Then Jesus said to His disciples, ' If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' "

Christian commitment is people living out life's drama with Jesus in mind. Kinserdahl

I. S

He told Timothy Teng Vang and I that his family who, were not Christians wanted him to renounce his faith in Jesus; leave the bible college and help them chase the preachers from their village.

After graduation from CBI, he became a preacher in a village proclaiming the love of Jesus to his people. He could do this because he not only knew the words of Jesus but had to put them into practice

" If anyone has denied father, mother, sister or brother for My sake " Words of Scripture to me but experienced reality for S.

II. NV/ SL

They were the only practicing Christians in the village where they had gone to live. One day they were brought a deadly gift. The dish they were given to eat contained poison mushrooms and they lingered at the point of death. No one came to help them. The villagers believed that they were being punished by the evil spirits. They recovered and stayed, continuing to teach people about the Lord as they had before the event.

Opportunity: The Shaman came with dying grandson and asked if they could help. N went and got his uncle A. Together they prayed for the shamans grandson and he was healed. The first convert in the village was the shaman. Now 2/3 of this village are Christians.

In 1986 the main cash crop was opium poppies. Upon my return in 1997 the main cash crop was fruit trees. IDES provided seed money for this village to have water so they could plant these trees. I have not seen Jesus change water into wine but I have seen Him change opium into fruit from water given by Christians. Lychee has replaced opium as a cash crop in this village.

When threatened with death recently, N refused to quit saying, " God called me to this, I will not quit. "

The secret: that he knows is the one we need to embrace " If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." - Jesus of Nazareth

III. Chiangmai Bible College Students

These young men and women have left their villages to come and learn how to preach and teach Jesus. They are full time students and on the weekends, village evangelists. They walk, ride trucks, motorbikes, trains, whatever it takes, to go to the remote villages of the jungle to share Jesus with their countrymen.

They stand firm in the persecution from without and the attack from false friends from within.

Denying self they follow Him where He calls them taking their cross and His with them wherever they go.

IV. AJS

Converted Buddhist monk. Travels across the borders teaching and preaching Jesus. Has been to China, Tibet, Kampuchea, Myamar and India carrying the good news of Jesus with him in remote places of peril.

He with others from CBI became the announcer of good news to Khamer refugees from Cambodia ( Kampuchea ), the killing fields. The one time enemies of his nation now became brothers and sisters in Christ. The words of Jesus again grasped him by his will and compelled him to " love his enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you."

The gospel has produced a couple of converts at first and then hundreds in the camp and when these folk were repatriated now number in the thousands that are Christians because some not only knew the words of Jesus but dared to share them.

V. Burmese Evangelists

EF - an exile in Thailand went from CBI to a large city on the border because there were no churches there. We not only want to go to a city with a church; we want to be sure that it is the "right" denomination. Now in and around this city that had no church of any kind, there are twelve small churches that honor Jesus. " Go, " Jesus said, " and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe my commandments. " And so he and his family went and took the great commission of Jesus seriously. The result is that you now have brothers and sisters in Christ where once there were none.

EJB - Opens his home to Bible study and preaches openly with Jesus. No big deal you say until you realize that this simple activity discovered by the authorities could cost him his home and his freedom.

MJ - She was free from the boundaries of her country. She was here in the USA at one of our Bible colleges. Free, free at last! Then upon graduation, she did a strange thing. She decided to go back to her country and take the consequences. She was under arrest and bound to live in a town where she could be watched for a period of two years. Now she teaches women and children the gospel of Jesus in a remote village along the Chinese border.

VI. Unnamed Man & Women in Bangkok

After twenty years of absence from one another, I was reunited with the man who had led me to Christ in Texas, Bill Hitt. I asked Bill that if he could've imagined that the next time that we would see each other after I left Texas as a boy that we would meet for the first time again in Bangkok. Not in his wildest dreams he said and I concurred. I preached for the first time on foreign soil in the church and presence of the man who made it possible for me to know Jesus in a personal way.

While leading worship that morning the young man leading gave a testimony. He said that he had done a lot of foolish things in his life and regretted them but one thing that he had done that he had never regretted was taking Jesus as his personal Savior. Bill leaned over and said to me, " His family had a funeral for him when he became a Christian. He went to it and no one would acknowledge his existence. When he left Buddha to follow the Living Savior, it cost him his family. Yet Jesus was everything to him because he knew that following Jesus means " denying self and taking up the cross."

In this congregation there was an amer-asian girl whose family mistreated her from her birth because of this little heard of casualty of war. Her memories of growing up was dominated by one fact. When it came time to eat, her meals were thrown to her in the backyard in a plastic sack. She was not allowed to even eat with the family. She came to the New Vision Church in Bangkok because she had heard that people really loved you there. So she had come seeking and found Jesus, she found family and she found love. She had found one who would never forsake her in the depths of her despair.

Another young lady whose family were Muslims came forward at prayer time and asked the church to pray for her. Whenever she came to the church assemblies, she was greeted with derision and a beating when she returned home in an attempt to get her to renounce her faith in Jesus. Her request? That she might remain faithful and be a good example so that she could bring her parents to Jesus.

VII. XLT

He is an elder in a village of Thailand. He was a farmer who worked like they did in Wisconsin in the "good old days" from dawn til dusk and sometimes beyond. There was no preacher so he did the work of leading and teaching in his spare time. The church had grown during his part time leadership. When I met him, the village had experienced a failure of their crops and had dismal prospects for the future. He had a large family and few possessions but when three preachers showed up at his door, he killed several of his chickens to feed us. he didn't know that we had come with relief from International Disaster Emergency Services but he was given to hospitality. Maybe the secret of the churches success was that XLT took the words of the Bible seriously and as a result of his witness so did those that he taught. He was " given to hospitality" even when not being so would have been excusable.

When we gave them the much needed rice for food and seeds for replanting, he called for leaders from the church and shared their providential blessing with their neighbors who were not Christians. Dividing their only future stock with others who had need. The result: several of these families became Christians.

When I returned I found a church that would support him full time and he went and established twelve churches where there had been one. Some of these are only a few people but Jesus did say that he would be there with two or three who gathered in His name. the secret of course you already know, " If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. "

VIII. American Missionaries

Sacrifice the comforts of homeland and enter a different and sometimes frightening culture. Many live with a substandard salary and poor working conditions. Women who grew up in America now have to cope with living in a society where women are not highly regarded. Many send there children to Malaysia to go to High School. I wasn't ready for mine to leave home even when they finished high school let alone sending them off to school earlier than that.

Jerry and Pam Headen work with the untouchables of many societies. They work to give hope to those infected with AIDS.

Paul and Chris Fuller took in babies that were developmentally disabled that no one wanted and openly displayed the love of Jesus for all people.

The words of Jesus again came to me, " If any here have left father or lands for My sake. "

Conclusion:

How could all of these folk overcome all odds and obstacles in their way?

All were willing to deny themselves as Jesus directs us and take up the cross and follow Him.

I share this with you today because following Jesus requires total commitment of all believers everywhere.

Christians are believers who live out their whole life submitted to the lordship of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.

" If I wish to follow Jesus, I must deny myself and take up His cross which is my own and follow Him.

Whatever it takes!

Commitment to Jesus means yielding yourself to Him.

Your life ... Your ambitions,,, Your Will ,,, Your all!

When we yielded ourselves to Him and were baptized we pledged to die to self and live for Him.

If you wish to come after Jesus, you must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him.

Come to Him today; confessing your need: admit that you are lost without His saving grace; admit your need for forgiveness; acknowledge Him as your Lord and Saviour.

Then profess your submission to Him outwardly; Say yes to Jesus as you die to the old self in the water grave of baptism; arise to the newness of life and service for the Master.

Take up His cross - Crosses are for dying, die to self, deny self, follow Him; do His will, wherever, whenever, whatever it takes.

I met a young woman named Rosemary on the campus of CBI whose father was an American and her mother was Thai. Her father had taken her to the USA but for some reason brought her back to Thailand when she was nine and left her. She was married off and her husband went in to a Thai prostitute and brought AIDS home to his wife and the baby that was produced by their union.

She came to our campus in Chiang Mai and found Jesus and life. The last time that I saw Rosemary she was standing in the gate at CBI and wearing a tee shirt that had these words on the front, " Life is like a hot shower - One wrong turn and you're in hot water. " She was in hot water not because of her wrong turn but the wrong turn of others.

I close with this. Rosemary is dying of AIDS but she is alive in Jesus. Life is terminal for everybody. What will you do with Jesus the Christ the Son of God? Those that have the Son of God have life but those who do not have the Son of God do not have life.

Which way will you turn? Choose life, Choose Jesus

" Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. " Ronald Osborne