We are talking about what it looks like to surrender to God and do life God’s way.  We are using baseball as an analogy.  Home base represents surrendering to God.

Scripture teaches,

Everything, absolutely everything… got started in him and finds its purpose in him.  MSG Colossians1:20

This is what we call the great God reality: Life is about God and what He is doing.  That also means that life is not about us and what we want.  And until we surrender to this God reality, life won’t make sense. In fact, life will be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

A very important point here. When we surrender, that is when God transforms us spiritually.  Listen to what scripture says.

He [Jesus] has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. NLT Colossians 1:22

Spiritual transformation means, you can walk into every day, with ferocious courage.  You can run to God in prayer.  Never again do you have to stay away from God because you think He is angry with you.  Never again do you have to lower your head with guilt and shame.  Never again are you alone.  Why?  Because of Jesus, God sees you as holy and blameless.  You might look at yourself and notice all your sin and flaws.  You might not even like who you are.  Regardless of what you think of yourself, God loves you.

First base represents character.  We said that in life, after you surrender to God, you will need to live life in faith because you will face hard times.

Scripture teaches this about the hard times we face.

7 God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, 8 the normal experience of children. MSG Hebrews 12:7-8

As you live life you will face hard times.  You can never allow those hard times to bully you into thinking that spiritual transformation did not happen.  You can’t allow hard times to bully you into thinking you have failed or that God has failed you.  This takes faith.  Faith means I will live life with ferocious courage because I have been spiritually transformed as I face setback after setback.  Over time, that creates character.  This is what Hebrews 11 is all about.

Last week Sam was awesome.  He talked about relationships.  He made a very clear statement followed with a piercing question.  Statement.  How you view people reveals your heart conditions.  Question.  How do you view people?  When Jesus saw people, His heart broke for them.

Jesus’ disciple Matthew recorded it.

When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. MSG Matthew 9:35-38

Sam talked about two ways we tend to view people.  We can view people as commodities, objects, things.  We can think people are things we use to get what we want.  What did Sam say?  When we view people as objects, we can’t love them with pure hearts like Jesus asked us to.  Secondly, we can view people like barriers, roadblocks, things in our way.  Kids are the roadblock to find rest.  Spouses are in our way to the roadblock to find happiness.  My boss or leader are my roadblock to get more money, a title or success.  Again, if people are barriers, we can’t love them with pure hearts.

Sam ended with the question, when you look at people, what do you see?  And he said, if you are struggling to love people, keep on loving God and someday that love will come out of you to others.

I wanted to point out three things about doing life God’s way.

First, those who ignore the Great God reality that life is about God and what He is doing, they cheat in life.  They ignore surrender.  They ignore character.  They ignore relationships and run right to third base.  Why third base?  Because they think life is about money, success or appearing to others that they have made it in life.

Sam introduced us to this scripture.

13 Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention. MSG Matthew 7:13-14

If you cheat life, if you look for shortcuts, you will never be able to sustain the pressures of life.  That’s why you see affairs, addictions and melt downs.  We know this don’t we?  You cheat on your homework in school, is shows up on your test.  You cheat practice, it shows up in the game.  You cheat in life, it shows up in how you live.

Secondly, God wants you to end up at 3rd base.  The results in your life do matter.  There is nothing wrong with money.  Make as much as you can.  There is nothing wrong with success.  Be great at what you do and do it so well; you are successful.  There is nothing wrong with being celebrated by others.

However, if you don’t surrender to God, the things of this world like money, success and the validation of others will be about you and they will be what you pursue.  You won’t care too much about character to get what you want.  In general, you will be a good person but if push comes to shove, you will be okay cheating.  You won’t prioritize spouse and kids and friends.  In fact, they will be objects to get things from or road blocks to get what you want.

Do you see it?  If you do life God’s way, all your money and success and validation will be for you to help others.  What makes these things right or wrong is about the motivation of your heart.  And it all starts with surrender.

This is why Solomon told us to trust God and do life His way.

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own… Don’t assume that you know it all… Honor GOD with everything you own; give him the first and the best.  Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.  MSG Proverbs 3:5-10

Lastly, doing life God’s way may seem harder and those around you will never understand.  Money, success and the validation of others is so intoxicating.  It’s what everyone is pursuing.  As you pursue those things, it will seem so right.  And here is why.  Sin in our hearts craves control and pride and lust.  And everything the world offers us is a temporarily feeling of control, pride and lust.  The sin in our hearts loves what the world offers and it can feel so right to pursue it.

Let’s ask a few questions.

What do you think of the great God reality that life gets started in God and finds its purpose in God?  Are you surrendered to God and find that the twists and turns of life are a struggle but you are relaxed?  Are you still struggling with life and trying to get God to help you find the American dream?  Kinda like trying to fit a square peg into a circle?

Are you living with ferocious courage?  Have the blows of life bullied you into thinking that you have not been spiritually transformed?  Have you concluded that you have failed or that God is failing you?  Do you live life with ferocious courage even when things don’t go your way?

How do you view others?  When Jesus sees them, His heart is broken for them.  How do you view your spouse, your kids, your parents?  How do you view your boss, your teacher, your coach, your leader?  Are people objects to get you want you want?  Are people road blocks stopping you from getting what you want?

Okay, let’s talk about 3rd base.

Let’s just say it.  Third base matters.  God cares about the results of your life.  Money, success and the validation of others is great.  People who attend church sometimes wrongly assume that to be holy, you have to be poor.  We can wrongly assume, a good Christian who has success is a little suspicious.  I think over the years, people have thought those things out of insecurity and jealously.  Remember what we said yesterday, it’s about surrender.  What makes these issues right or wrong is what is in our hearts.

Did you know Jesus talked about the results of your life?  He explained that the kingdom of God is about results.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going into another country, who called together his servants and loaned them money to invest for him while he was gone. “He gave $5,000 to one, $2,000 to another, and $1,000 to the last-dividing it in proportion to their abilities-and then left on his trip. The man who received the $5,000 began immediately to buy and sell with it and soon earned another $5,000. The man with $2,000 went right to work, too, and earned another $2,000. “But the man who received the $1,000 dug a hole in the ground and hid the money for safekeeping.

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to him to account for his money.  The man to whom he had entrusted the $5,000 brought him $10,000.  “His master praised him for good work. ‘You have been faithful in handling this small amount,’ he told him, ‘so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Begin the joyous tasks I have assigned to you.’  “Next came the man who had received the $2,000, with the report, ‘Sir, you gave me $2,000 to use, and I have doubled it.’ “‘Good work,’ his master said. ‘You are a good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over this small amount, so now I will give you much more.’ TLB Matthew 25:14-24

Can I ask you something?  Have you ever thought of the kingdom of God like this?  God is the man or master with servants.  You are one of those servants.  God gives you spiritual freedom, time, money and energy.  And as His servant, He expects you to build His kingdom, not your kingdom.  And He is coming back someday to see what you have done with everything He has given you to build His kingdom.  Is that how you viewed God, church and religion? Or do you view God, church and religion as something to stay away from or something you don’t want to fully commit to?

I think this parable from Jesus should change the way we view Christianity.  I think it should make us think through our priorities.

Be honest.  What would you think if your friend came to you and said, God has transformed my life?  For the first time, I am fully surrendered to God.  He has so transformed me and all I want now is to build His kingdom.  I am going to take my spiritual freedom, time, money and energy and give it to God.  Would you be concerned for them?  Ask questions like, what kind of cult are you a part of?  Maybe follow up with questions like, hey have you thought through this?  Maybe your friend would be viewed as out of balance.

How do you view your spiritual freedom?  Your money, time and energy?  We see these things as ours.  We need to keep them for us.  We don’t view them as things God has given us.  Things that we must manage for God.  Actually, as I talk about this, is there a concern rising inside you waiting for me to drop the hammer about giving or volunteering?  That concern raising inside of you, we call that greed.

One servant was given $5,000 and produced $5,000.  One servant was given $2,000 and produced $2,000.  They are celebrated and rewarded.

Let’s talk about the other servant.

“Then the man with the $1,000 came and said, ‘Sir, I knew you were a hard man, and I was afraid you would rob me of what I earned, so I hid your money in the earth and here it is!’ TLB Matthew 25:24-25

Given $1,000, he was afraid so did nothing.  Does that sound reasonable to you?  He didn’t steal anything.  He didn’t hurt anything.  He didn’t lose the money.  He was just afraid to fully engage.  In fact, he gave back what he was given.  What about his feelings of fear?  Should we validate his fear?

Let’s read the master’s response.

‘Wicked man! Lazy slave! Since you knew I would demand your profit, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest.  Take the money from this man and give it to the man with the $10,000.  For the man who uses well what he is given shall be given more, and he shall have abundance. But from the man who is unfaithful, even what little responsibility he has shall be taken from him. And throw the useless servant out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ TLB Matthew 25:26-30

Again, I think this should change how we view the kingdom of God.  I think it should change our priorities.  Apparently, hiding what God has given us isn’t an option.

What are the ways we hide our talents today?  How do we take our spiritual freedom, time, money and energy an hide them?

I want to start with this.  The kingdom of God is advanced on this earth because of people.  And when people hid their spiritual freedom, time, money and energy, they abdicate their spiritual adventure.  And when people don’t have a spiritual adventure, they settle for fill in the blank discipleships, Christian events, pot-lucks and sending clothes to the mission field.  Please hear me.  You will never have a spiritual adventure when you hide your talent.

We are very passionate about this.  Jesus didn’t die for a theology.  Jesus died for people.  The spiritual adventure that we are invited into isn’t filled with degrees and big words, knowledge and more Christian activities.  All those things are good but what is more important is reaching out to people and engaging them in friendship.  And when you live in comfort because you feel fear, you abdicate your spiritual adventure.  So real quickly before we move one, what is your Christianity like?

Okay, how we hide our talents.

How we hide our talents #1. “I’m not good enough.”

This is pretty common.  People believe they aren’t educated enough to talk to others about God.  They believe they have sinned way too much to be a voice for God.

Here is what scripture says about the disciples of Jesus.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. NIV Acts 4:13

Can I just tell you something?  If you haven’t been educated to have an ordination or a degree, thank goodness.  That makes you real.  The world doesn’t need more theologians using big words, the world needs real people who have been changed by God.  And yes, education is awesome.  If you have been wounded in life, made mistakes, are busted up and Jesus redeemed you, thank goodness.  That makes you real.  The world doesn’t need people acting like they have it together.   The world needs people healed by God.

Probably one the greatest honors you can have in life is to be like Peter and John, ordinary.  It makes you real and it allows God to move through you.

How we hide our talents #2. “I’m tired, I just can’t today.”

Couple of things here.  Rest is good.  Sabbath rest is even better.  However, that being said, for most people, it’s not about exhaustion as much as lack of making priorities.  Because we don’t prioritize the kingdom of God, when we jump into it, it seems exhausting.  Do you know what I mean?  Kinda like, ugh, this Sunday is my Sunday to serve – I am so tired.

I find it interesting that people can remember the day God redeemed them with tears in their eyes.  And then years later, that transformation seems to lose its grip on us.  Years later, we have a chance to share God’s grace to kids in Children’s ministry and we say, “I’m tired, I just can’t today.”  We have an opportunity to do a church plant and set up early and we say, “I’m tired, I just can’t today.”  What happened?  The grace of God is losing its grip on us.  We are forgetting.

To have a spiritual adventure, you must prioritize it.  If you are praying for and building a relationship with a friend who needs to experience the grace of Jesus, prioritize them.  Does that make sense?

How we hide our talents #3. “I don’t want responsibility.”

This issue of responsibility is so important.  Truth is, you won’t grow without it.  How do we know our kids are growing up from kids into young adults?  They take responsibility.  Now a days, you can be 18 but that doesn’t mean you are an adult yet.  You aren’t an adult until you take responsibility, pay bills and make healthy adult decisions.

How do you know you are growing up spiritually?  You take responsibility of your relationship with Jesus.  You fully engage Him and never look back.  Attending church services, doing the least possible, isn’t a sign of spiritual maturity.

If you don’t take responsibility for your personal relationship with God, chances are, you aren’t growing.  And I would also say, if you aren’t serving somewhere, chances are, you aren’t growing. 

How we hide our talents #4. “I’m hurt, so I will do nothing.”

Have you heard this one?  This is common too.  Especially in small towns.  It’s really from an immature heart.  Scripture tells us to deal with the person who has hurt us directly.  But because of spiritual and emotional immaturity, we don’t.  To get our point across to others, we check out, push away and pout.  We check out of relationships, church, work or friends.  It’s kinda like having a temper tantrum.

Hear me.  When you do this, you forfeit your spiritual adventure.  You hide everything God gave you because of immaturity.

To close today, let me ask you.  God gives you spiritual freedom, time, money and energy.  What have you done with it?

Do you say the following to yourself?  “I’m not good enough.”  “I’m tired. I just can’t today.”  “I don’t want responsibility.”  “I’m hurt, so I will do nothing.”

Remember, third base matters.  Results matter.  What you do matters.  Don’t hide what God has given you.

If you do, you forfeit your spiritual adventure.