What's Your Excuse?

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:24
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The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

Jesus had just finished talking about the resurrection of the righteous when one of the people gathered around the table makes an interesting statement (see Luke 14:15). Once again Jesus uses this comment as a springboard into another “teachable moment.” I call this teachable moment: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The unfortunate truth is this…not everyone talking about Heaven is going there and not everyone who intends to get right with God will!
Jesus begins to tell a story about another feast. Invitations had been sent out for a great banquet. It seems that many had favorably responded to the invitation and had “intended” to come. However, when the servant went back out to notify everyone that the banquet was ready, those who had previously expressed interest and intentions to go, began to make excuses.
They asked to be excused because they were preoccupied with the day to day hustle and bustle of life.
One was preoccupied with a piece of property he had just purchased (Luke 14:18). What a pitiful excuse he gives. He had purchased a piece of property and needs to go see it. If he’s already bought it then waiting a little while to see it isn’t going to matter one way or another. He had intended to go to the banquet, but the cares of this life have choked out the invitation and he declines.
The second individual was preoccupied with 5 yoke of oxen he had purchased (Luke 14:19). Once again if he’s already purchased the animals, waiting a few hours or a day or two will not matter. But he allows the preoccupation with his possessions to cause him to rudely neglect the generous invitation when he was first asked, but he didn’t follow through.
The third person was preoccupied with a new wife he had married (Luke 14:20). Rather than take his new bride to this banquet, he chose to stay home, and neglect the prior commitment that he had made. He allowed the “pleasures of this life” to get in the way of his good intentions.
You see: “Rules of hospitality were important in the ancient Near East—it would have been extremely rude to change one’s mind at the last minute and decline a previously accepted invitation” (Faithlife Study Bible)
These people had good intentions, but they didn’t follow through. The same is true about so many in the spiritual sense.
When I think about the statement: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” my mind goes to:
Matthew 7:21–23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Dear friend you have been given an invitation as well! God Almighty has invited you to be a part of the family of God! Jesus Christ has invited YOU to follow Him! Just listen to some of the invitations God gives throughout His Word:
Isaiah 1:18 ESV
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
Matthew 11:28 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Revelation 22:17 ESV
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
Over and over and over again the invitation is given for YOU to come to Christ. Some of you sitting here today are intending to answer the invitation “some day” but the day of salvation is “TODAY!”

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and bad excuses!

God Desires a Full House

The man has prepared a great feast for all the people who had intended to attend the Great Supper. He had a desire to feed and fellowship with a multitude of people, but the multitudes declined.
His solution was to send his servant back out and invite the poor, crippled, blind and lame. in this culture and in this society these people were considered by many to be “losers.” Many thought that if a person was poor or had some type of physical ailment it was a sure sign of God’s displeasure. However, the people considered to be “losers” by culture become enormous beneficiaries of this great meal provided by this generous host (Teach the Text).
The servant goes out and brings in as many poor, crippled, blind and lame people as he can possibly find and reports there is still room. Once again the host sends him out, this time into the “highways and hedges.” He instructs him to go out and find the travelers and the foreigners and “compel” them to come in (Faithlife Study Bible)! The word “compel” is an interesting word. The word conveys as sense of urgency. These people, who others considered “losers” and foreigners would naturally be reluctant to believe such an invitation could be serious, and so they would need to be persuaded (Teach the Text).
God also desires for “His house” to be full! We’ve already looked at several verses where He urges YOU to COME to Him. Think about these Scriptures that serve as a reminder of His desire for YOU to “fill His house.”
Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 17:30 ESV
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
1 Timothy 2:4 ESV
who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Titus 2:11 ESV
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
Many think this parable is an illustration of God the Father sending Jesus to his own people, but his own people, for the most part, did not receive Him (note John 1:11).
John 1:11 ESV
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
We find a similar thing said about John the Baptist’s message in Matthew 21:32.
Matthew 21:32 ESV
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
Today, dear friend, I don’t care if you are a prostitute or a lying cheat, or if you are the worst sinner in Erie, God the Father wants to forgive YOU of YOUR sin, bring YOU into His family and give you abundant and eternal life! He wants YOU to help “fill His house!”
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He wants YOU to trust in Christ and accept His invitation to follow Christ and be a part of His great Kingdom! You may be considered by society a “loser” or a “foreigner” but becoming a part of God’s team makes you a winner and becoming a part of God’s family makes you a heavenly citizen!
If we are a part of Heaven’s citizenry then we need to be busy about living “Kingdom lives” and persuading others to come and join us around God’s table. We have been left upon this earth, as Christ followers, to be ambassadors for Christ and His witnesses! We’ve a story to tell to the nations as well as our neighbors and it’s time we get buys! FILL THE HOUSE!

Leave it All Behind and Come to the Well

After Jesus told the story about the Great Feast there were a large number of people that were following Him. He continues His teaching and I believe what He says next should be interpreted in the context of this story (Luke 14:25-35).
Each of the people in the previous story had to leave something behind to accept the invitation to the Supper. One was going to have to leave behind some land that he had purchased, one was going to have to leave behind some oxen he had just bought, and the other was going to have to delay a celebration with his new bride. Unfortunately, none of these individuals were willing to leave behind these temporary and insignificant distractions to enjoy the feast provided for them. They missed out on something of greater value for something of lesser value.
The same is true for individuals who spurn the invitation that God gives to them to come and be a part of God’s family and be a disciple of Jesus. Many are unwilling to leave behind something of lesser value for something of greater value.
For some it may mean leaving behind your temporary family for an eternal one (Luke 14:26). While it is obvious that Jesus was not calling for them to literally hate their family, because that would be a contradiction of His own Word, He is saying that He is to take PRIORITY and PRECEDENCE over earthly relationships! Greek scholar, Dr. Robert Picirill says: “To ‘hate’ someone, in the Bible, often has the practical meaning of rejecting that person or that person’s claims. So to hate one’s family is to reject any claim they might have to FIRST PLACE in the disciple’s life” (Discipleship, p. 18).
For some of you, if Jesus is going to be the Lord of your life and call the shots, it will mean that you will have to dethrone mom or dad, son or daughter, husband or wife, as your “god.” Some of you are so bent on pleasing another human being you are willing to gamble with your soul. For some of you, following Jesus, will mean that your family will turn their back on you. I have met believers that were saved out of false religions that have literally been ostracized and cut off from the family because they have chosen to follow Jesus. Some of you may have to choose between your family and Jesus!
In Luke 14:26-27 Jesus talks about hating your life, bearing your cross and COMING AFTER Him! Once again He is not literally telling you to “hate yourself,” but following Jesus does mean that you have dethrone SELF as “god” and walk away from YOUR plans and embrace Him and His plans for your life. Your own self-interests are no longer to call the shots, Jesus does!
Following Jesus means bearing a cross and this is not referring to gold jewelry. It’s a reference to death! When we trust Jesus, we identify with His death so that we might identify with His life. Over and over again God’s Word calls us to DIE TO OURSELVES!
Then Jesus says, “Count the cost.” Yes, the payment for our sin has been paid in full by Jesus! There is no way we could ever do enough good works to pay for our sin. We are saved by faith in His death, burial and resurrection. Yet the same Bible says that following Jesus comes with a cost!
To trust Him comes at the cost of abandoning trust in yourself or empty religion!
To follow Him comes at the cost of not following someone or something else!
To love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength comes at the cost of not loving something or someone else to that degree.
So He says, “Count the cost!”
In conclusion, He says in Luke 14:33 . . . whatever it is, “leave it ALL behind and come to the well!”
In essence isn’t that what He called the “Woman at the Well” to do in John 4? She had been pursuing men to fill the void in her life and heart and each time she had come up EMPTY! Jesus offered to her “LIVING WATER” so she would never have to thirst again but in the midst of the conversation, Jesus dealt with her “idol/god.”
He told her, “Go and get your husband.” He knew she had been married FIVE times and was living with another man. She was worshipping the “idol” of relationships or the “idol” of men, but Jesus wanted to give her something that they had never been able to give her. But for her to experience the water He had for her there was a cost involved.
She had to realize she had to leave behind the broken cistern, which contained stagnant droplets of polluted and diseased water and come to Him who would literally place within her a fountain, a river of living water flowing within her soul!
Jesus made it clear in Matthew 6:24:
Matthew 6:24 ESV
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
I believe the reason some of you are MISERABLE today is because you are trying to serve God and . . . money . . . popularity . . . sex . . . parents . . . children . . . career . . . empty religion.
Jesus, not me, said that was IMPOSSIBLE!
What is standing in the way of YOU serving and following Jesus today?
Remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and bad excuses!
Today, God is calling for you to absolutely and unconditionally surrender to Him. He wants YOU to follow Him!
Are YOU following Him today? Are you distracted, have you been blown off course?
Leave it all behind and come to the well!
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