Advancing The Kingdom Of God

June 2, 2002 AM
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

If you would, turn in your Bibles with me to the book of Mark chapter nine. The Gospel of Mark chapter nine.

And would you stand for the reading of the Word this morning? We won’t be long today. But while we’re here, we’re going to glorify the Lord. Amen? Hallelujah.

In Mark chapter nine. Are you there? Looking at verse thirty-three through verse thirty-seven. It said,

32. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33. And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

34. But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

35. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

36. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

37. Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

Let us pray.

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we thank You for the opportunity to be in Your house today. Father, hide Your son behind the cross, that Your people would see You and not me. And Father, as I decrease I ask that You would increase. Dear Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. In Jesus’ holy and blessed Name.

You may be seated in the house of God this morning.

33. And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

“What were you arguing about?” The disciples caught up in their constant struggle for personal success. They were embarrassed by the question that Jesus asked them. It was always painful to compared their motives. And it’s always painful to compare our motives with the motives of Christ.

It’s not wrong for believers to be industrious and ambitious. But when ambition begins to push (glory to God) obedience and servant-hood out the way, it becomes sin.

They were in a place where they were looking for success. But they didn’t understand that success was in serving God.

You see, when we come to the house of God, it’s alright to be industrious. It’s alright to be ambitious. But I’ve got to put all things in the place of perspective. I’ve got to take all things and put them in the category where they belong.

See, you can’t, and I can’t do anything for God and not want to be successful. But I got to understand what success and ambition really is. You see, if I get into the wrong motive, pride is going to set in. And it’s going to cause me to begin to overvalue my position. It’s going to cause me to overvalue (glory to God) my prestige that I’m looking for.

In God’s Kingdom such motives can begin to be destructive. You see, they were in place. But they didn’t understand their position. You see, when you’re in the right place, and that place is being with God, let me tell you something whether you’re the doorkeeper or whether you’re the preacher, you’re in perfect position for success. Oh, my God. Who am I preaching to today?

There’s nothing wrong with ambition. But my motive has got to be right. The only safe ambition is directed towards Christ’s Kingdom and not our own advancement.

You see, I and you, we together have been called ambassadors for Christ. And God has called us to move forward the Kingdom of God. And while I’m advancing the Kingdom, I can’t help but be advanced myself. But I’ve got to make sure that I’m advancing the Kingdom and I’m not advancing myself.

He said the first shall be last. And the last shall be first. You see, If I’m going to be great in the Kingdom of God, I got to be willing to take the low seat. Look at your neighbor and say, “I’m taking the low seat.”

You see, the Bible says that sometimes... You see, we can get to a place where we begin to take a seat. But see, this seat may not be the one that I have been invited to take. Oh, you don’t want to hear me today. But I took that seat anyhow. But see, the Bible says it’s going to be embarrassing when they come and tell me that that’s not your seat. You need to move.

But if I understand where I am, it doesn’t matter what seat I’m in. I can be sitting in the front, or I can be sitting in the back. Because my motive is still the same. I’m going to advance the Kingdom of Almighty God.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition. But my motive has got to be right. I want to have success in ministry. But I got to keep my heart right. You see, every day is not going to be sunshine. Do you hear what I’m saying? In everybody’s life a little rain is going to fall. You don’t want to talk to me today.

Every now and then I’m going to get discouraged. But in the midst of my adversity, I cannot allow it to change who I am in Christ. Every now and then it’s going to seem like I’m pushed back and set aside. But let me tell you something. My day is coming, if I would only keep my heart right.

Ambition is a desire for success. It’s a desire for honor. And It’s a desire for power. There’s nothing wrong with wanting success. But I need to learn about honor. And I need to learn how to handle the power. Because God will begin to put us in places (glory to God) that’s going to cause us to have to be able to handle the honor and the power that comes with that position.

You see, every position in, that God will give you in the body of Christ, there will be honor every now and then. You will be in a place of power. But how am I going to manage that honor and that power that has been placed in my hands?

You see, I can’t allow it to begin to go to my big old head. You see, a lot of times, people are one way, aren’t they? And you thought they were the most humblest people in the world. You don’t want to talk to me today. Oh, I feel the Holy Ghost

But give them a little power. You think they done changed they name. Not only they name, Brother Rick. You think they done changed their very address. Because they don’t want you to come by no more. Because they can’t be seen with certain folk. Oh, my God. Who am I preaching to today?

They’ve taken success in God and caused it to be a curse, instead of being a blessing. You see, the light in me is there to draw people, not to compel them to stay away from me. But if I’m ambitious with the wrong motive, I’ll find myself all by myself, saying that God loves me if nobody else loves me.

That’s how they will know that we’re brothers, because of the love that we have for one another. They should not... God shouldn’t be the only one that love you. Everybody else sitting around you should loves something about you. You can’t be all bad and be in Christ.

Ambition with the right motive, it builds, and it draws. But ambition with the wrong motive, it tears down and it repels. Where am I inside of me?

See, I want to do something for Christ. Like the army said, I want to be all that I can be in Christ. But see, I’m not in the corporate world. Somebody say, “I’m not in the corporate world.” I’m in the body of Christ.

You see, in the corporate world they’ll pull you down to try to rise to the top. But the Bible says that God will take down one and raise up another. I don’t try to try to have that crab mentality and pull you down.

Because there’s enough room at the top for... Oh, my God. ...for all of us. Mount Zion is just not for me, but it’s for everybody that wants to lift up holy hands, without wrath and doubting, and bless His holy Name.

In the book of John chapter eighteen and verse twelve through verse fourteen... Go there with me, because I want you to see the Word today. Let’s see, hear, and obey. Chapter eighteen of John, verse twelve through verse fourteen. When you get there say amen. It said,

12. Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,

13. And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

14. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Listen. Caiaphas and Annas, they cared more about their political ambitions than about their responsibility to lead the people to God.

You see, a lot of times these days we got a lot of politicians in the pulpit. You don’t want to talk to me today. And instead of trying (glory to God) to bring people to a place of seeing Christ and sanctifying God in their eyes they have their own political agenda. And they got they own political party that work right along with them.

You see, they were more influenced and more... What word am I looking for, Lord? They were more apt to trying to advance themselves, even if it meant killing the Son of Almighty God.

You see, we have people, even in the body of Christ that are so hungry for ambitious position and prestige, that they’ll not only kill you, but they’ll kill your Savior too. Instead of being in position to lead, they were in position to tear down and to destroy. That’s what the wrong ambition will do. It’s destructive. It’ll cause you to be critical instead of helpful.

They said, “We going to have to get a hold of this Jesus. Because He’s doing too much good. And if we don’t stop Him, the people will begin to look to Him. And they won’t look to us any more.”

A lot of times God will begin to raise up saints. And then you got old saints in position. And I ain’t talking about age. And when He’s trying to raise up new saints, the old saints start to get mad about it. And instead of helping their brother and sister along, they’ll find something wrong with them. You ain’t going to talk to me today.

And they can pull out every fault that they possibly can find in that saint. But they forget how they used to be. Oh, you don’t want to say nothing. They forgot how they bust up in the church. And everything was going wrong in their lives. And they needed somebody to pull them up out the muck and miry clay.

They become religious. Pharisees and Sadducees all over the place. Acting like they ain’t never done nothing. And pretending like that it’s always been all good. Putting on a physod, and wearing the makeup that hides yesterday. Who am I preaching to?

They would rather advance themselves than advance the Kingdom of God. They became evil. And they were no longer sensitive to God’s revelation. They wanted to advance at all costs.

I don’t care what’s going on in your life. Sometimes people are going to have to know about it. See, we hide so much. And we put on a false sense of reality, that if you just come to Jesus, that you’ll never have any problems.

But if you come to Jesus right, the devil going to try to bring hell in your life. The only difference is Jesus is your Savior and your Deliverer, and that He has promised you eternal life. That you’re in this world, but you’re no longer of this world. You’re just a pilgrim passing through.

And that’s why I can be of good cheer, because He has overcome this world. And these light afflictions cannot be compared to the glory that’s going to be revealed in us.

Come on, give God a handclap of praise today.

They should have known that Jesus was the Messiah, about whom the Scripture had foretold would come. They should have pointed the people to Him. But they were pointing the people away from Him.

Am I pointing people in the right direction? Am I leading, not just with my mouth, but by example? That is the question.

Am I willing to lay down my life, that someone could come to Christ? That their life would be changed. Because they know how I used to be. And they can see the difference in me. Or is it when they get around me, I’m the same? They don’t see nothing different about me. What is it? What is it?

They were trying to advance self. Jesus should be on the throne. But self was on the throne.

In the book of Judges chapter nine... Go there with me this morning. The Spirit of God is moving. Judges chapter nine. Hallelujah. We’re going to look at verse one through verse six. It said,

1. And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,

2. Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.

3. And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.

4. And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.

5. And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.

6. And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.

Israel’s king, Abimelech, he wanted to be lord and not man. He wanted God’s position. Oh, you don’t hear me. You see, he came into a place. Instead of allowing God to rule that place the way God wanted it to be ruled, by all of the brethren, all seventy of them, he wanted position for himself.

His ambition reached into a place of murder, where he took out God’s plan to establish his own plan. All seventy except one of his brothers were slain. He became ruthless.

You see, when I come to a place of being self centered and not God centered, it’ll cause me to be ruthless. It will cause me to get to a place where I want to advance at all costs, no matter who is hurt. And whatever I have to do, and whatever I need to do to get into that place, then that’s what I’ll do. And I’ll wipe my mouth. And I’ll wash the blood off of my hands, as long as I’ve been advanced.

I’m preaching this word today because that spirit will try to get into people when they think in their own mind that they’re not being done right. (Tongues.)

See, when a person thinks that it’s man that is their god, it’ll cause them to mess up. When God wants to raise you up, can’t no man, can’t no devil in hell stop God from raising you up. Oh, my God. When you get to heaven, and you haven’t done what God has called you to do, what you going to say? “Brother so and so, or sister so and so stood in my way”?

How is He going to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” when I ain’t done nothing?

How do I want to be advanced?

In the book of Numbers chapter sixteen... We’re almost finished. There was a man. And he was a Levite. And his name was Korah, K-o-r-a-h. And Korah decided that he wanted to lead a rebellion against Moses.

And Moses said, “Now wait a minute. You’re already a Levite.” But instead of allowing God to use him, because he was significant right where he was, he wanted Moses’ position.

See, I’ve got to realize that I’m significant right where I am. See, I’ve never... I haven’t always been the pastor. See, when I first got saved, I used to come to the house of God were I was in Atlanta, on Saturday evening with the brothers, and sweep and mop the floors, and clean out the toilet. You don’t hear me today.

And when I looked at my pastor, I admired him. Not for what he had, but that he was a man of God. And it intrigued me to the point where it drew me to want to become a man of God.

And I’ll never forget. They were moving chairs in the sanctuary on Bible study night. Now he got over ten thousand members. You don’t hear me.

But they were moving the chairs. And I walked up to him. And I said, “Pastor, you know I want to help.” And he looked over in me, inside of me. He didn’t look on the outside. He looked inside of me. I felt his eyes go in me. They penetrated me.

And he said these words to me. He said, “You can help. But you got some things down in there that you need to clean up.”

I said, “Okay, pastor.”

He said, “Now go on and move those chairs.”

But instead of it causing me to draw myself back, it caused me to draw myself closer. I didn’t want his position, but I wanted to be a man of God.

And God began to raise me up in that very place. We had a roster full of ministers. Had at least twenty-five to thirty. And I was the last one on the roster. But God would use me in a mighty, mighty way. Because I wasn’t ambitious to try to get position. But God put me in position anyhow.

If I keep my motive right, I don’t have to want to be T. D. Jakes. I’ll be Chris Abernathy. Oh, you don’t hear me. I don’t have to be Bishop Paul Martin. I’ll be Bishop Chris Abernathy. Oh, who am I preaching to today? I’m an original. And there’s nobody else like me.

But Korah... (Tongues.) He got to a place where he led a revolt of two hundred and fifty men against Moses. And Moses got up and said, “Now wait a minute, Korah. You already operate in the priesthood. But now you want to take over the priesthood. God hasn’t called you to take over the priesthood.”

He got into a place of rebellion. And that’s why when we pray and we say we bind the spirit of Korah, we’re binding that spirit of rebellion that would want to rise up in somebody, to take something that is not theirs.

And he was destroyed. See, God doesn’t operate like the world. See, if you take somebody’s position in the world, but you can do the job better than them, they’ll say, “Come on.” And they’ll pay you.

But see, even if you can do the job better than who God got in position, if you try to take your position, God will squash you. He will bring you to a place that you will understand that you are not in control, but He is in control.

The spirit of ambition has got to have the right motive.

In the book of Joshua. We getting ready to close. Chapter one and verse eight. He told Joshua to be strong and very courageous. He told Joshua, He said, “This is what you need to do. You need to meditate in My Word day and night. And then will you make your way prosperous and have good substance.”

I don’t have to push myself forward. In other words, He was telling Joshua, “Just be obedient. And I’m going to pull you forward.”

You see, obedience is always going to pull us forward. Obedience to God and His Word is always going to cause us to make progress.

You see, a lot of times we get in a place of complacency. And we’re not moving. Because we’ve come out of a place of obedience. Because we begin to think that we know how it goes.

But God said, “My ways are not your ways. And My thoughts are not your thoughts. What you did yesterday might not be enough no more. I might be calling you to another level of obedience.”

You see, what I was getting by with yesterday is not enough. Hello, somebody. He’s calling me to another level of submission and surrender. And He’s breaking me down to that place where I would say, “Lord, not my will, but Thy will be done.”

See, we’re not just going through things just to go through them. God is trying to teach us a lesson. Because He’s calling us to a great work. You’re not struggling just to be struggling. You’re not lonely just to be... Oh, my God. Lonely. Glory to God. He’s calling you to something great. That’s going to require you to understand that place.

So when you’re in that place of greatness, and that place tries to come up again, you will begin to recognize it. You say, “Oh, I know that place. I’ve been there before. I got the victory over you. I’m going to lift up my hands and thank and praise God. Because I know that He that’s in me is greater than He that’s in the world.”

There’s nothing wrong with ambition. There’s nothing wrong with it. But it got to have the right motive following it. I can be spiritual and I can be quiet. I can be the most spiritual person in a place. But I don’t have to let everybody know. Hello. I can walk into a place and be just as quiet. And then people will just be drawn to me, and they won’t know why. And then the Holy Ghost will just start moving.

I know why I needed to talk to you today. See, it’s not always walking into a place... It’s not always about that. Don’t worry. It can seem like they overlooking you. But God see you. Because you that vessel that He’s looking to use. Little do they know in the midst of them they have the greatest of these, right there in the midst. And they don’t even know it yet. But God knows it. He already knows it.

Don’t try to make man recognize your greatness. Because if you do, most of the time you going to turn them away from you. “Oh, there they go again.” Hate to see you coming. “Here they come.”

You know they don’t feel like seeing you when they drop their head like this. They walking. Then all of a sudden they see you. They... “Oh, hey.” They done changed they face then. Or they turn their head like that. “Oh. So blessed to see you today.”

But when I can come to my brother and be like, “Brother, how you doing, sir? I’m so glad to see you today...” And you can feel the sincerity of a person when it’s real. Even when they embrace you, they don’t have to have their chest all up on you. They can embrace you even with their arms. The way they do it, you can feel it. You can feel it. Sometimes you don’t even have to say a word to one another. But you know it is well.

There are people I haven’t talked to in years. But I can call them on the phone and get together with them. And it’ll be like we were together yesterday. It is well.

Ambition and being industrious is fine. But I’ve got to have the right motive behind it.

Come on, give God a handclap of praise today. Oh come on, bless God in this house.

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