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Worship Message - "Why Come to Jesus?"

Why Come to Jesus?

I like lists. They help me keep things organized in my mind. When I go to a grocery store, I usually have a list, which helps keep the impulse buys to a minimum. Sometimes I make to-do lists at home or at church so I don’t forget what needs to be done. Lists also provide a bit of a sense of accomplishment. I feel good when I can cross off the various items on a list.

I like lists, which is how this message is set up. A list of reasons to be in a relationship with Jesus.

The list is made up of six items. Six reasons to be in a relationship with the Lord. We will discuss each of the six reasons, including highlighting relevant Bible verses for each one, but first, let’s consider the fact that having a relationship with the Lord is not our idea. It is what Jesus wants.

When Jesus lived on this earth, He often invited people to come to Him. Just three examples of that can be found in the first three Gospels.  
Matthew 11:28 - Jesus said, “Come to Me.” That was spoken to people who
were tired, in that case from trying to earn Heaven by following all the laws
and rules and regulations of the Jews.
Mark 8:34 - Jesus said, “Come after Me.” That was part of an instruction that
His followers were to deny themselves, but the call was to have a relationship with Him.
Luke 18:16 - Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me.” That came after
Jesus’ disciples tried to prevent some parents from taking their children to
Him. That was done to try to protect Jesus’ time and privacy, but Jesus
wanted the children to come to Him.

Jesus wants a relationship with us - whether we are weary or fresh, whether we are children or adults. We know that was the case 2000 years ago. Since Jesus never changes, we know that is the case even now. Jesus wants a relationship with us.

That is what Jesus wants. Should we want the same thing? Yes. For many reasons, including the items on today’s list, most of the items a single word, the first one being the word salvation, which takes us to chapter 3 of the Gospel of John.

In chapter 3 of John, Jesus is having a conversation with Nicodemus.

Nicodemus was an important Jewish leader. As such, he was conditioned, even that early in Jesus’ ministry, to be opposed to the Lord, but he was curious about what Jesus’ ministry was all about. So one night, Nicodemus went to Jesus to find out about Him.

In that conversation, Jesus challenged Nicodemus to be born again. At first, Nicodemus did not understand what that meant. Jesus explained that the second birth was spiritual in nature.  

But here is what He added. It is verse 15 of John 3. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him [in Jesus - whoever comes to Jesus - whoever has a relationship with Him - a relationship where the person accepts Jesus as the Savior - whoever believes in Jesus] may have [will have] eternal life.” In verse 16 another part of the promise is stated. Whoever believes in Jesus “will not perish, but have eternal life.”

Why should we want a relationship with Jesus? Because it a relationship with Him as the Savior that gives us salvation. And yes, we will all perish physically some day. That is not what Jesus meant. What He meant - the promise He offers - is that by accepting Him as the Savior, we will not die spiritually. We will instead have eternal life. Some translations use the phrase “everlasting life,” which means not only long-lasting, but also a wonderful quality of life.  

There is no way to have eternal life, which includes a wonderful life forever in Heaven, except by accepting Jesus as Savior. By having that kind of relationship with Him. He wants that kind of relationship, which is why He continues to say to people even now, “Come to Me.” We should want it, too. It gives us salvation.

Salvation is the first word on the list. It is a word that includes the future promise of Heaven. The second word - the second reason we should want a relationship with Jesus - something that can help us here and now, before the reward of Heaven - is the word purpose. Having a relationship with Jesus gives us a purpose.

A Bible reference that goes with this was already mentioned. It is Mark 8:34, in which Jesus said, “Come after Me.” He said that as part of an instruction that His followers were to deny themselves. But let’s get into the verse a bit deeper.

Earlier in Mark 8, Jesus had been very busy.

The chapter starts with Jesus miraculously feeding a crowd of 4000 people, doing so after multiplying a little bit of bread and a few fish.

Shortly before this chapter, Jesus had done a similar miracle, that time feeding 5000 men, along with women and children, again with just a little bit of bread and a few fish. But after the feeding of the 4000, Jesus healed a blind man. He then spent some time with His disciples. Part of that time was working to get them ready for the suffering He was soon going to experience. Suffering that would result in His death on a cross.

Jesus then called a multitude of those following Him to gather around Him. To that group Jesus said, “If any man would come after Me…” The word “if” is interesting. This was not a demand, but rather an invitation. And not a blind invitation. Jesus shared what was to be expected of those who answered it. “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

What does that have to do with purpose? Coming to Jesus - following Him - gives us a focus. A direction. It helps us stay on track.

In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, we are instructed to love God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength. All that - everything we are - is to be devoted to following Him, which does give us a purpose.

You know, there are a lot of other influences all around us. Religious influences. Religions other than the Christian faith. Economic influences. The drive for money. Social influences. The drive for popularity or power and the temptation to do whatever is needed, including bad stuff, to have those things.

There are a lot of other influences all around us. We are faced with temptations to follow any and all of them. But we can have a higher purpose. The purpose of knowing, accepting, following, and serving the Lord - the one who died to save us, the one who, before that, spent a ministry teaching and doing miracles to help others, the one who, before that, was involved with the creation of the universe.

Do you want a purpose to your life? A good, worthy, important purpose? Then have what the Lord wants you to have, which is a relationship with Him.

But did you catch it? Jesus said that part of having a relationship with Him is that we deny ourselves and take up His cross.

That sounds an awful lot like a call to suffer for Him, which is a difficult concept. That is why we need to go on to the third item on the list - the word comfort, which comes from II Corinthians 1:3-4, where the apostle Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions.”

Are there difficulties in life? Of course. That is true for everyone. It is often magnified for Christians since we are to live differently from non-Christians. Religiously, economically, socially, we are to be different. That may at times cause us to be rejected and miss out on certain opportunities. At other times it might cause us to be left out of certain human relationships. But remember. We, as Christians, have a purpose, which is to live in ways that are honoring to the Lord.
So yes, there may be many difficulties in our lives. Which is why comfort - God’s comfort - is so critical. In times of trial or sorrow, God offers His comfort. All we who are Christians need to do to benefit from it is accept it.

But wait. There is more to verse 4 of II Corinthians 1. Something that again relates to the Lord giving purpose to those in a relationship with Him. The first part of verse 4 is the promise of God’s comfort. The last part adds this. “He comforts us so that we [those of us who are comforted] may be able to comfort others who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Talk about purpose. How wonderful it is to be able to help others to have God’s comfort in their troubles and problems and sorrows.

Jesus gave the call to come to Him. He did that during His earthly ministry. Since He never changes, He wants a relationship with us now as well.

Why should we want that? Because it is through such a relationship - a relationship based on accepting Jesus as Savior - it is only by that - that we gain salvation, that we can have a good, positive purpose in life, and that we can be comforted at all times, including when our faith and our purpose bring us troubles, problems, and sorrows.

It is only by having a relationship with Jesus that we can and will have the fourth item on the list, which is wisdom.

Remember the definition of wisdom. It is having the proper mix of knowing what is right to do, that knowledge coming from God’s word, and doing what is right to do, putting our spiritual knowledge into action.

Wisdom is certainly needed.

I mean, there is no way we can achieve our own salvation. We need the wisdom to know from God’s word that the only way to be saved is by accepting Jesus. We need the wisdom to put what we know into action. We need wisdom to accept Jesus as the Savior.

Concerning purpose, we need to have the wisdom to know we need to study God’s word. The wisdom to know we need the Lord’s strength to do what we study. We need wisdom to realize when comfort is required, not only for ourselves, but for others, too.

We need wisdom to make correct decisions. But wisdom can be difficult to have. If that is the case for you or for me, remember the promise in chapter 1 of the New Testament Book of James. James 1:5. “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”

We are further instructed to ask in faith, without doubting. We are to ask, being sure of God’s power. We are to ask, knowing of God’s desire to give all good things to us. We are to ask, confident of His desire to give generously and without reproaching. We are to ask for wisdom in that way. When we do, it will be given.

But ask. That is all that is required. Ask for wisdom, and it will be given to you so that you can and will do what is needed to be saved, which is to accept Jesus as Savior. So you will have a spiritual purpose, along with knowing you can meet it. So you will know the need to receive and share comfort.

Which brings us to the fifth item on the list, which is strength.

When we are weary… Hopefully that does not occur often, but it can happen as we work, day-by-day, to live up to our purpose and as we work to comfort others. And remember that wisdom is knowing and doing the word of God, which take energy and discipline. When we are weary with all that, along with other happenings of life - maybe including the aging process for those a bit older or things like school work and sports and extracurricular activities for the younger set - when we are weary, a special promise is found in Psalm 29:11, written by David. “The LORD will give strength to His people” - to those who are Christians.

Salvation, purpose, comfort, wisdom, strength. Five wonderful reasons to answer Jesus’ call to come to Him, which leaves item 6 on the list. A two-word reason. Abundant life.

Are you familiar with M*A*S*H? Do you like the series as much as I do? I hope you are familiar with and like M*A*S*H or the next couple minutes won’t mean much.

Now I watch episodes mainly while doing my treadmill. Each episode on DVD is 24 minutes long, which is how long I walk when watching one of them. Interestingly, with the opening scene of an episode, I can usually give the dialogue for the entire episode. And I still laugh.

Anyway, one of my favorite episodes is “Dear Sis.” It centers on the work of Father Mulcahy, the chaplain of 4077th M*A*S*H. In it - the scene is right at Christmas - there are a lot of issues Father Mulcahy has to deal with, which he writes to his sister. As he describes her, “his sister the sister.” She is a nun.

For instance, he tries to help out with an unruly patient in OR, but instead of being able to talk him down, the situation requires Margaret Houlihan, the head nurse, to shoot the patient with a sedative, leaving Father Mulcahy to feel like he didn't help much.
Then Radar, the company clerk, asks Father Mulcahy to say a prayer for Radar’s mother’s pregnant sow in Iowa - to pray over the phone, which Father Mulcahy agrees to do. But before the prayer is finished,  the sow goes into labor, requiring the advice of Dr. Winchester. Again, Father Mulcahy feels useless.
Father Mulcahy admits no one comes to him for confession, or even just to chat.
Later, wounded arrive. One lightly-wounded patient is short-tempered and combative. When Margaret tries to check the patient’s wound, he pushes her away, insisting he see a doctor. Father Mulcahy tries to help, but the soldier angrily pushes him away, too. The chaplain pauses for a moment before rearing back and belting the young man so hard he falls off his stretcher. Father Mulcahy can't believe how he reacted.
He then admits he reacted with violence because he feels useless at the 4077th.

Later, at a Christmas party, Hawkeye - Dr. Pierce - knowing how low Father Mulcahy is feeling, toasts him, thanking him for his simple decency and kindness.

That simple toast apparently encouraged the chaplain because then, as more wounded arrive, which breaks the festive mood of the party, Father Mulcahy’s final line is this. It is how he ended his letter to his sister. "It doesn't matter if you feel useful going from one disaster to another. The trick, I guess, is to just keep moving.”

That is one of my favorite episodes because I - you might also concerning yourself - I sometimes wonder if I have any impact on anyone. If what I do makes any difference.

I have to add this story. A few years ago, I was feeling a bit gloomy one day. I wondered if anyone even knew I existed. It was kind of a pity party I was going through. I thought a comfort food meal at Egg Roll King might help.

I went in and walked to the counter. I was the only one in the entire restaurant except for the workers. I put in my usual order of sweet and sour pork and was told it would be just a few minutes for my order to be ready.
Seven and ten and 12 minutes later, my order had not yet arrived. I returned to the counter and was, in another minute or two, able to get a worker’s attention. Her response? “Oh, I’m sorry. We forgot you were here.”

Talk about feeling unimportant. Invisible. Wondering if anyone knew I even existed. That hit all three.

Interestingly, the irony of what happened struck me as funny. I laughed, which eased my gloom. But sometimes we can get to feeling unimportant. We can get to feeling less than useful. Do you ever face that, too?

There is some wisdom in the words of Father Mulcahy. The wisdom that whether we feel useful or not, the trick is to just keep moving.

But as we do that, there is greater wisdom than what Father Mulcahy wrote to his sister. Greater wisdom spoken by Jesus, as recorded in John 10:10. The second half of that verse has this. “I came [Jesus came to this world to teach and lead by example and He would soon die as the perfect sacrifice for sins] that they [that people then and people now] may have life, and have it abundantly. A life, not just existing or just enduring being beat up all the time by people or circumstances or feelings, but a full life. A life of strength, wisdom, comfort, purpose, salvation.

What a wonderful list of reasons to answer Jesus’ call to come to Him so we can have a good, positive relationship with Him. Which He wants. Which we should want.

And remember what I said at the outset of this message? I like lists because they help me keep things organized in my mind, because they help me keep impulsive things to a minimum, and because they help provide a sense of accomplishment?

The same is true with the list that has made up today’s message. That list can help me - and you - to be spiritually organized, reminding us what to continue to desire from the Lord. It can help me - and you - to keep worldly impulses under control. As we feel the Lord’s salvation, purpose, comfort, wisdom, strength, and abundant life, we can feel better and better about our spiritual condition. Which should, as worldly lists do for me, make us feel good. In this case, spiritually good. What a wonderful feeling that is.

“Come to Me.” That is the call of Jesus. If you have not come to Him, will you do so? Even today? Think about that - do that - as we sing our closing song, which is two verses of the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

The first verse repeats the invitation to have a relationship with Jesus. It specifically mentions the benefit of having life abundantly.
The second verse we will sing reminds us of the privilege we have as Christians to tell others about the Lord. Including sharing the six-item list we have considered today. Reasons why we, like Jesus, should want a good relationship with Him

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

His word shall not fail you - He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Let’s remember that salvation, purpose, comfort, wisdom, strength, and abundant life are six wonderful reasons to come to Jesus. To have a relationship with Him. Wherever we are, let’s remember each of those blessings. Let’s take advantage of each one. Amen.

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