Bad Boy #2 | Judas Iscariot
WEEK 2 SERMON • 03/21/2021 • DAVE HASTINGS – LEAD PASTOR • SUBSCRIBE
This is statement is loaded with truth and implications for every single area of life. No matter the topic, I think most would agree that it is sixteen times easier when you stay ahead of the game than it is when you fall behind. Think about your physical body … is it easier to maintain your ideal weight or lose 40 pounds? How about your financial success? Would you rather worry about the value of your 401(k) or the heavy burden of credit card debt?
I’m sure you can see that the answer is obvious for both questions.
But is the statement really true for your spiritual health? Can you really move backwards in your relationship with God?
Many people might claim that this is impossible; that once you are saved it is impossible to fall away from God. However, if I take a look at my own life I am certain that not only is it possible … but also extremely likely for many followers of Christ.
Don’t be a Judas …
Dave raises an excellent question in his sermon: “Have you ever thought about Judas Iscariot to be connected to God?” For me, the answer was absolutely not! I think of Judas as the traitor. The fool who offers the Savior of the World to the Roman Empire for 30 pieces of silver.
If he were alive today I’d punch him in his face.
However, there were times before his betrayal when he was actually preaching, performing miracles, and driving out demons! That shows you just how far a person can fall.
As Dave mentions, the problem with Judas is that he saw following Jesus as a way to get something in return. What he didn’t realize is that God doesn’t exist for us. We exist for Him.
Why am I following Jesus? Is it because of what I expect to get out of it?
How do I respond when my prayers aren’t answered?
Which Soil Are You?
When Jesus taught The Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, he described four different types of soils where seeds could be planted: hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, and good soil. The table below summarizes each in terms of which type of soil accepts Christ, and which type of soil thrives in the faith.
|Hard Soil||Does not Accept|
|Rocky Soil||Accepts, Does not Thrive|
|Thorny Soil||Accepts, Does not Thrive|
|Good Soil||Accepts, Thrives|
So the question remains, which type of soil was your seed planted in? If you’re still reading this, it’s unlikely that it was planted in hard soil because you are at least open to considering God’s word. But what about the others? The questions below from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 13 might help determine where you are.
- Have you heard the message of Jesus and God’s kingdom and do not understand or reject it? (Hard Soil)
- Did you receive God’s word with joy, but fall away when being a Christian became too difficulty? (Rocky Soil)
- Have you accepted God’s word, but changed courses because of worry, money, or other worldly desires? (Thorny Soil)
- Have you heard the word, understand it, and produced a crop many times beyond what was originally sown? (Good Soil)
What’s interesting is that I can personally think of times where I have been planted in each of the soils mentioned. There have been times when things have gotten so difficult that I’ve stopped praying and tried to handle it on my own. There have been times when I’ve rejected God’s word because it wasn’t in line with what I’ve wanted to do. In the past I’ve put money, friends, sports, education, success, and many other items before God.
And yet here I am.
I’ve turned from sin and placed myself back in good soil and God still continues to bless me and my family. And so my prayer for today is the following:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for everything you’ve given me. I praise you and put you above everything else. It is you I have to thank for my family, my body, my health, my career, my ability to think and write, and so many other blessings in my life.
I pray that I never forget that everything I have in my life comes from you, and that everything that I currently take for granted could be taken away in an instant. Please give me the strength, energy, wisdom, and power to seek your will every single day of my life. Please help me call out to you during good times and bad; and continue to conform my life to your likeness.
More than anything, I pray that when people see me they see a powerful example of you.
I pray all of these things in your name.
If it Can Happen to Judas, it Can Happen to Me
Reflecting on my past has led me to an unfortunate realization; I tend to move away from God when things are going well, and I tend to call out to God when I’m the most vulnerable and in need of His power.
How many of us can say that?
When things are going good is the exact time when I tend to stray. It’s almost as if I forget who got me there in the first place! God is probably looking down with His face in his palm just shaking His head.
But I’ll also admit that this has happened to me in multiple areas of life, not just spiritual. There have been so many times where I’ve taken massive action to get to where I wanted to be, and then as soon as I got there I slammed on the brakes and did a u-turn. Can you relate?
Thankfully I figured out years ago daily habits that I can take to make sure that once I achieve a goal … I actually maintain it. I might take my foot off the gas a little, but I don’t self-destruct to the point of having to start all over again. I’ve done this for several areas of my life, including my physical body, my marriage, my finances, and my career.
When considering my spiritual health and well-being, the question that must be answered is “What can I do today to help prevent moving backwards in my relationship with God?”
Strategies for Thriving in the Faith
Fortunately there are some simple things I can do each day to make sure I continue to thrive in the faith! I jotted down a few actions that I consciously take (or try to take) every single day to make sure I stay connected with God.
- Pray every single day (I pray on the way to work)
- Seek God’s will, not your own (during my prayer)
- Read a chapter of the Bible each day (each morning upon waking)
- Pray before each meal
- Go to church. Every. Single. Week.
- Talk to others about what you’ve learned
- Give 10% of your income to church
- Invite others to church
- Share the Gospel
Am I perfect with this list? Absolutely not! There are days where I oversleep and don’t read a chapter of The Bible. There are days when I forget to pray on the way to work or before I eat lunch. And I’m sure I’ve missed too many opportunities to invite people to church or share the Gospel.
Fortunately for me (and probably for you) God doesn’t want us to be perfect; He wants us to grow. How much more connected would you be if you were consistent with the list above?
What Strategies Do You Use to Thrive?
Head over to our Facebook group and let us know!