Sermon:  Look at the Signs

Summary:  Jesus’s identity was confirmed by his actions so that there was no
question that we was the expected one.  Similarly, John’s lifestyle confirmed his
identity as a prophet, one devoted to God and his mission.  Our actions need to
confirm our identity as one devoted to God and his mission.  We can
demonstrate it through benevolent and evangelistic works, and through a lifestyle
that shows single-minded devotion to God.

Know:  God expects our lives to be a sign of his intention to reconcile the lost to
himself so that his people will be totally devoted to God above all else.  It will
take more than merely trying harder, it will take an inner transformation that God
will accomplish if we let him.

Feel:  A passion to draw closer to God, grow in a deeper relationship with him,
and be transformed into the image of Christ.

Do:  Evaluate our lives in terms of ministry, evangelism, and commitment to God
in all areas of life.  Identify struggles and challenges that lead to less than full
commitment, and formulate a plan to overcome these challenges that involves
not merely your own effort, but a deeper life with God.

Text:  Luke 7:18-28
Scripture Reading:  Luke 7:28
Meditation Scripture:  Psalm 96:1-6

1.  Signs identify
	a.  Literal signs
	b.  Metaphorical signs
2.  Jesus works were “signs”
3.  It was to these Jesus pointed when John questioned Jesus’s identity (Lk 7:18-20)
	a.  John is in Prison, Mt 11:1ff
	b.  He wants to be sure he has the right person, so he asks
	c.  How can it be verified that Jesus is the expected one?  From God?
4.  It takes “signs” to recognize one as from God.  Two kids of signs:

I.  Ministry Sign (v.20-23)
	A.  On the surface, we see miracles, a display of power
		1.  But there is more here than raw power
			a.  Does Satan every display raw power?  Yes
			b.  So there is more than just power
		2.  Maybe it is to refer back to 4:18 and Isaiah 61
			a.  Isaiah said that he would do these things
			b.  But there is more
		3.  This is a display of the kindness of God
			a.  These miracles deal with people, not just nature
			b.  They make people whole!
	B.  Let’s take a closer look at what they say about Jesus
		1.  Blind, lame, lepers, deaf are healed
			a.  Jesus repeatedly took care of physical needs
				- Fed hungry people
				- Even raised the dead
			b.  Most of his miracles not like dimming the sun
			c.  Most showed compassion for people’s need and ailments
		2.  The poor have the Gospel preached to them
			a.  Jesus didn’t stop with taking care of physical needs
			b.  There was a deeper need
			c.  Jesus took care of Spiritual Needs
		3.  But why specifically the poor as a sign?
			a.  These would have been those typically overlooked
				- On the edge of society
				- Don’t give them much thought
			b.  But God notices them
				- Lev 25:35-38 - Instructions concerning poor
				- Ps 113:7 -Raises poor from dust & lifts needy from ash heap,
			c.  Ps 140:12 Lord will maintain cause of afflicted & justice for poor.
			d.  He is defender of the poor and widow
		4.  The poor need the Gospel as much as anyone
			a.  As a general rule, they were more receptive
			b.  When they responded they became rich
				- Gained God for a father, Jesus as savior
				- Spirit to strengthen, church to encourage
				- Eternal life
	C.  ILL:  There are a couple of teen girls that attend my Dad’s church
		1.  Why did they come, no teen programs or such
		2.  They said they saw how we treated Butch, so they come
			a.  Butch one of those invisible kids in school
			b.  Not dress as nice, strange humor, on fringes
			c.  But in church, none of that mattered
		3.  These girls saw a sort of authenticity in the church’s ministry
		4.  They wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for that
	D.  That is the type of ministry “sign” in Jesus
		1.  He reached out and touched the untouchable
		2.  He loved the unlovables
		3.  He lifted up even “the least of these”
		4.  He shared the liberating good news to even the poor

II.  Lifestyle Sign (v.24-28)
	A.  Calls John a “Prophet”
		1.  What is your conception of a “prophet?”
		2.  Many think of strange people who fortell the future
		3.  Not entirely true
			a.  Prophets didn’t merely predict the future
			b.  They were God’s spokesperson
			c.  They issued warnings and calls for repentance
		4.  But the strange part is probably accurate
	B.  Jesus insinuates what a prophet is not
		1.  A reed shaken by the wind - A scared, spineless wimp
		2.  Wearing soft garments - Simple life, devoted to God, not riches
		3.  John was a “prophet” - They came to see someone like...
			a.  Elijah - Had a hard life, lived in wilderness
			b.  Ezekiel - Ezek 4 - Lie on left 390 days; right 40 days
			c.  Jeremiah - Jer 27 - Yoke and message to serve Babylon
			d.  Isaiah - (Isaiah 20) 
		4.  Their devotion to God and message was their life
			a.  God’s mission and message became who they are
			b.  Not just a job, but was their life
			c.  Their goal was not to live a “good” life
				- Make nice living, decent house, raise family
				- Do a few good deeds
				- Die a happy man in later life
			d.  Their goal was to be 100% committed to God
	C.  ILL:  A preacher from Haiti illustrates the need for 100% commitment
		1.  Man’s house for sale for $2000, another not have enough to buy
			a.  Bargained, agreed to sell the house for 1/2 price
			b.  One stipulation, retain ownership of a single nail over
			      the front door
			c.  Agreement was made and the house sold
		2.  Years later, original owner wanted to buy the house back
			a.  New owner refused to sell it back
			b.  Original owner hung carcass of dead animal from nail
			c.  House soon became unlivable
		3.  Forced to sell the house back to the owner of the nail
		4.  If you leave Satan with one small peg in your life, he will return to 
		     hang his garbage on it making it unfit for God’s temple
	D.  Does God call for such a radical prophetic type of commitment?
		1.  Is this for all people, or just select, strange holy men?
		2.  Luke 9:23-24 - Take up cross, lose life to save it
		3.  Everything we are is Gods, down to the last nail
		4.  This is what we see in people like John, Isaiah, Elijah...

III.  What about us?
	A.  Do we have a sign?  Yes, we all do
		1.  The question - What does it say?
		2.  Does it say,
			a.  I am an alright guy?
			b.  I’m a cool person?
			c.  I am amibtious and moving up in the world?
			d.  I’m into sports, music, clothes, cars, etc..
		3.  If that is all, there is something seriously missing
			- It shows you, your interests, but where is God?
	B.  The signs we need
		1.  The Ministry Sign
			a.  Reach out to the poor, outcast, and forgotten
				- Who do you know like that?
				- Do you avoid them, try to get away?
			b.  Demonstrate that God cares - physically and spiritually
				- Be a friend, authentically care about people
				- Share the greatest thing you have - The Gospel
		2.  The Lifestyle Sign
			a.  What shapes your life?  You or God?
			b.  Who determines the direction in your life?  You are God?
			c.  Why do you do what you do?  You or God?
	C.  What IF - God were to call you for a job?
		1.  Here are some of the possiblities of what he might have:
			a.  Lie on one side for a year?
			b.  To go to school or work wearing a yoke or bridle?
			c.  To go about naked
		2.  Purpose: To make a point, to warn people.  What would you do?
		3.  Does God call ordinary Christians to anything so radical?
			a.  Yes.  We must take up our cross DAILY
			b.  We must lose our life to gain it
		4.  But I could never do anything as great as Elijah, Ezekiel, or John
			- (v.28) - Greater than John - Why?  Gospel power Rom 1:16
	D.  He wants total commitment to his message and mission in our lives

1.  ILL:  Missionary group wrote to David Livingston in Africa
	a.  Asked if there were any good road to him
	b.  Wanted to send some young men to him
	c.  Reply:  "If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, 
            I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”
2.  If you are willing to go wherever God leads, that is a sign
	a.  It shows your are God’s man or woman
	b.  It is a ministry sign, and lifestyle sign
3.  There is a sense in which baptism is a “sign” of your death (invitation)
4.  Maybe God is calling you down a road you haven’t been on
	a.  Maybe to repent and turn to a new life

Questions for Small Group Discussion