Looking To Jesus

Bible Book: Luke  2 : 41
Subject: Jesus, Fellowship with; Fellowship with Christ; Joy; Christian Living
Introduction

The word “look” means to look away from something less important to something more important. We see this emphasized in Hebrews 12:1-3. We are called upon to look away from everything in this world and to concentrate upon Christ.

A preacher came to pastor a new church and noticed that someone had placed on the pulpit these words, "Sirs, we would see Jesus." The next week he knew that he had done his job well when another note was placed on the pulpit. This time the preacher read, "And then were the people glad when they had seen the Lord."

There is nothing so important in the Christian life than the Author and Finisher of our Faith - even Jesus. The Christian enjoys all the common matters in life just as any other person. We find joy in a family gathered around us in our home. We take pleasure from the meals we eat and the drink we enjoy at our table. We appreciate the arts, including music, painting, and others. We take great joy in traveling and admiring the beauty of God's creation. The great mountains take our breath away, and the ocean waves seem to relax our minds and bodies. We look up at the stars and wonder at the greatness of God's handiwork, and we are staggered when we think that He holds them all in the palm of His hand! But I tell you that none of these things, all combined, bring us such pleasure as the fellowship and companionship of our Lord, Jesus Christ in our hearts and minds.

The Sun of Righteousness drives back the darkness in our hearts, and if we seem shut out from Him all seems to be darkness to us. We must walk in fellowship with Him to enjoy all that He has to bestow upon our lives. Sadly, we are not always in that true fellowship with Him. Life is just not the same unless you and I are experiencing the deep, abiding presence of Christ. The most memorable moments of my life are those times when the Lord was so real to me that I felt I could reach out and touch the nail-scarred hand. Someone once said, "Life is great when it seems that God is in the next room." I must disagree. Life is great when God is directly in the room with us!

Look with me at Luke 2:41f and note an example from which we can draw a great lesson today. (Explain text) Please observe five great facts from this passage which I can assure you applies to many people in this great worship center today.

I. The People of Lost Fellowship with Christ

We cannot lose our relationship with Christ once we have experienced salvation through the new birth; however, we can lose fellowship with Him - at least we can lose that sense of immediate fellowship with Him. This is a troubling thing and is the reason so many fall away from service and worship. Some people have asked me, "How is that some who were once so faithful can now pass the church and never darken the door?" The answer is that they were never saved to begin with or they have lost that close fellowship with Him that is needed to endure faithfully in service and worship.

To whom can this lost fellowship occur?

A. It can happen to the People who have Lived with Him

It was Mary and Joseph who lost fellowship with Jesus. No one was closer to Jesus in His early years than these two individuals. Yet, they left Jerusalem without checking to see if He was with them. I understand that this was a common experience in families in those days. Families traveling to feasts and religious events in large groups. Occasionally someone was left behind because everyone assumed the person was with another part of the family. Perhaps that was the case with Joseph and Mary when they left Jesus in Jerusalem. But this is are reminder to us all athat we can all get so involved in tradition and assumption that we lose our close walk with Jesus. We can get so busy in our work for God that we forget our walk with God. It can happen to deacon, a Sunday School teacher, as yes even to a preacher or missionary.

A man in New York sold break-proof glass. He was on TV advertising the product. He was interesting because he used many stunts to prove that the glass could not be broken. One day he called the police to his building to report that he had been robbed. When asked how the thieves had gotten into the building, he admitted that they had broken a window and climbed through. "But aren't you the man who advertises the break-proof glass on TV?" He replied, "Yes, but I am ashamed to admit that we failed to put that glass in our own facility."

We must be careful, lest we who are to be the nearest to our Lord prove to have drifted from Him in our hearts. We can be the ones who speak of Him and promote Him but then simply walk away from our fellowship with Him.

B. It can happen to the People who have Loved Him

You know that Mary and Joseph loved Jesus, yet they walked away without Him for a full day. Just because you love Jesus does not mean that you can take your fellowship with Him for granted. Even those who have known the Lord for years can drift away from Him. We must be careful lest we love Him and yet lose Him! We must never take lightly the privilege we have to walk with the Lord daily.

Is Jesus real to you today? Is He a Companion in your daily activity? Is it a mere relationship you have with Him, but one lacking it intimacy?

Jesus said to the Church at Ephesus, as recorded in the Book of Revelation, “…You have left your first love.” Think of that, a church leaving off its love for Jesus. When Jesus addressed this church and He pointed out that they were strong in doctrine and that they were hard workers. Yet… yes, yet, they had left their first love. Working for Jesus does not replace walking with Jesus. Holding up strong doctrinal positions does not replace holding the nail-scarred hand in our daily lives. We must not be guilty of leaving our first love.

Is anyone in this service beginning to feel uncomfortable? Some of us should feel a bit uneasy. You see, there are some people here today that have drifted from that heartfelt love and relationship with Jesus that you once knew intimately.

Let’s move to our next thought on this subject…

II. The Place of Lost Fellowship with Christ

Most people think that losing fellowship with Jesus involves being in some unholy place. Others think it occurs when we are around the wrong type of people and get involved in their habits and ways. Let me share with you some important truths on where you can be when you lose fellowship with Christ.

A. It can Happen in a Holy Place

Mary and Joseph had been with Jesus in Jerusalem for the purpose of attending the Feast of Passover. They were celebrating the blood of the Lamb and the Passover angel from the Old Testament. But even in that high and holy place, and at such a historical time, they lost fellowship with Jesus.

This can happen to a staff member in a church, a leader in a church fellowship, and a member in good standing. We can be right in church and miss out of close fellowship with Christ. We can sit in meetings and act on church business and still not be in close fellowship with Christ. This is certain, if we lose that fellowship we will disappoint Him and fail in His work.

When a soldier goes off to the Middle East to defend our freedom, he is has a relationship with many people back home and he longs to have fellowship with them. When he comes home, he throws his arms around those he loves and weeps with them. It is not just the relationship he needs, it is the fellowship and presence he desires! We have seen this pictures on television. A soldier comes home and his wife runs with the children to grab him. They are not interested in photo of him or a letter from him, they want to touch him. Sometimes it is a female officer, and you see her husband and kids run to hug her. Tears run down their faces as they at last have more than a relationship – they experience true fellowship.

We have lost our tears in churches these days. Perhaps the reason is because we have lost fellowship with Christ. We have a relationship with Him, we are saved, but we are not close to Him. You can lose your fellowship with Christ in a holy place – that is what happened to Mary and Joseph.

B. It will Always be a Hard Place

A missionary was on the foreign field working for the Savior, but he was contemplating giving up. His wife spoke to him and said, "O, Willie, Willie, all work and no prayer makes a task hard." The missionary's countenance brightened and he responded, "That's it, I've lost my fellowship with the Lord." He renewed his fellowship with Christ and the work became a joy to his heart again.

Someone listening to me this minute is tired and discouraged. Even in your work in the church, you are exhausted and disheartened. You may be thinking of giving up and serving no longer. Oh, my dear Christian brother or sister, don’t quit – renew your fellowship with the one who saved you. Renew your fellowship with Jesus and joy will come back to your heart, your work and your life! You see, I don't serve the church; I serve Jesus in the church. I don't serve the membership of the church; I share my fellowship and life with Jesus to the church. The same has to be with my family and in all my daily affairs.

If we leave off fellowship with Jesus, it always creates a hard place in our lives. Mary and Joseph had a wonderful trip to Jerusalem, but once they discovered that Jesus was not with them the entire trip turned into a nightmare. That ought to serve as a lesson to us. Never leave Jesus out of any part of your day or your activities.

III. The Path of Lost Fellowship with Christ

A. The Presupposition

It is a dangerous thing to assume fellowship with Christ. It is risky to take for granted the fellowship of the Lord in your life. Joseph and Mary assumed that Jesus was with the crowd of relatives and friends leaving Jerusalem after the visit to the city had ended. Alas, He was not with them! You must never assume fellowship with Christ. Though the relationship with Christ is fixed and secure for a Christian, fellowship must be renewed moment by moment.

B. The Pressure

We must not live at such a pace and under such pressure that life can easily squeeze Christ out of our activities. All things are not evil, but they may not all be expedient. In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul writes, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." In other words, I may not be doing anything essentially evil, but the mere act of leaving consideration of my relationship with Jesus ought of my affairs can be dangerous.

We must not live so rapidly that Christ is forgotten. Mary and Joseph did not hate Jesus. They did not dislike Jesus. In fact, they loved Jesus. Yet, they were traveling forward without Him. Why? Their activities failed to include Him. Neglect in the spiritual realm is a terrible failure.

On December 7, 1941, a man sat in front of a radar screen on one of the outer islands in Hawaii. Suddenly, he saw something appear on the radar screen which alarmed him. He observed numerous dotes appearing which denoted incoming planes. He radioed a lieutenant who was the duty officer on that Sunday morning. He informed the lieutenant of his discovery but the lieutenant passed it off with a causal remark. Planes were expected from California so the radar had probably just picked them up. The soldier was told to simply forget it! The lieutenant could not have made a bigger or more costly mistake. Those dots on the radar screen represented over 350 enemy war planes approaching Pearl Harbor. The cost of his neglectful act is a part of history. America lost eight of her greatest battleships. Six of America's important airfields were demolished. Almost all of the American planes were destroyed. Over 2,400 men lost their lives because of one lieutenant's neglect!

This is but a physical illustration of a spiritual danger. When we neglect our spiritual duty, when we fail to keep vibrant and dynamic fellowship with the Lord, we not only fail ourselves, but we can hurt the kingdom and influence many people away from the Master.

If we are too busy for Jesus, we are just TOO BUSY, PERIOD!

C. The Preoccupation

Mary and Joseph had become preoccupied with family, friends, and the surroundings. Just normal life experiences had crowded Jesus out of the picture.

Sometime ago a woman driving along Ronald Reagan Parkway in Metro- Atlanta, looked away for a moment at something in her car. She veered to the right and struck a man riding in the bicycle lane. She was preoccupied only a moment and it brought death. We must fix our eyes on Jesus. David said, “My heart is fixed, O God.” After his sin, David would not turn his eyes away from the Lord again.

IV. The Problem of Lost Fellowship with Christ

Just what is the danger of losing fellowship with Christ. There are three perils in losing our companionship with the Lord.

A. Lost Fellowship leads to Wickedness

"And the sin which doth so easily beset us…" we read in Hebrews 12. Sin does not lead to lost fellowship with Christ, but lost fellowship with Christ leads to sin! If we are to avoid sin, we must live with the conscious experience of His presence in our lives. When Jesus is real to us, sin appears as what it really is – evil and destructive. When Jesus is not real to us, sin can appear as an angel of light. If you will defeat sin in your life, you will do so because you are aware of and grateful for the present fellowship of Jesus in your daily walk, works and work.

B. Lost Fellowship Leads to Weariness

"Do not lose heart"

"Who for the joy set before Him..." we read in Hebrews 12. Jesus had the ability to endure the cross because He had a joy deep in His heart. That joy was the fellowship with His Father. He knew the joy that was available and promised through His coming death on the cross. He endured the cross because of His constant fellowship and obedience to the Father.

Dear Christian, the life of a believer is too difficult to live without our divine companion – Jesus. Working for Jesus is tiring, unless you have His sweet, encouraging presence in your life. He promised us "Joy unspeakable and full of glory" as we live each day. Do not grow weary – just remain in sweet fellowship with the One who redeemed you.

C. Lost Fellowship Leads to Wastefulness and Worthlessness

"Without me you can do nothing,” Jesus said.

We often fail in our labor for the Lord because we are trying to do it in our own strength. I cannot do some things without Him. I cannot do a few things without Him. I can do NOTHING without Him. By ability to make my work in His kingdom fruitful depends totally on my willingness to remain close to Him. My first duty is not living for Jesus or working for Jesus – my first duty is walking with Jesus!

V. The Pardoning of Lost Fellowship with Christ

In Malachi 3:7 God said, “Return to me and I will return to you.”

No Christian has ever lived in perfect fellowship with Christ. All of us have drifted at one time or another from our intimate fellowship with Him. He is waiting for us to return to Him. We can be sure of this, if we feel the slightest trace of distance between ourselves and the Master it is we who have moved and not He. For He tells us in His word that He will never leave us nor forsake us! You will note that Joseph and Mary immediately returned to find fellowship with Jesus the moment they realized that fellowship had been lost.

What is required to return to full fellowship with our Lord?

A. There Must Be a Conviction

Are you stirred by the songs of the Lord? How long has it been since tears fell from your face because of repentance or because of some blessing from the Lord in your life? How long has it been since you loved someone who was lost so much that you felt that your own heart would break if they did not get saved? When we are close to Christ, we will feel what He feels. Just as he wept over Jerusalem, we weep over our town, village, city and/or nation when we are near the Savior. His heart becomes our heat as well.

"How long has it been, since you talked to the Lord, And told Him your heart's hidden secrets?

How long since you prayed, How long since you stayed, On your knees 'til the light shone through?

How long has it been, since your mind felt at ease, How long since your heart knew no burden?

Can you call Him your friend, How long has it been, Since you knew that He cared for you?

"How long has it been, since you knelt by your bed, And prayed to the Lord up in Heaven?

How long since you knew, That He'd answer you, And would keep you the long night through?

"How long has it been, since you woke with the dawn, And felt that the day's worth the living?

Can you call Him your friend, How long has it been, Since you knew that He cared for you?

"How long has it been, since you talked with the Lord, And told Him your heart's hidden secrets?

How long since you prayed, How long since you stayed, On your knees 'til the light shone through?

"How long has it been, since you woke with the dawn, And felt that the days' worth the living?

Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been, Since you knew that He cared for you?" (Hovie Lister - 1963)

B. There Must Be a Determination

Joseph and Mary had to change their direction. Joseph and Mary even had to change their associations. They had to change their pattern in order to walk again with Jesus. We must do whatever is required in order to obey the Master! There must be a determination that overcomes all obstacles in order to obey Him.

They sought Him! The same word used in this passage is used in the passage that reads, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…" The word “seek” means just what it says – seek. Search! Turn anew to Him.

C. There Must Be a Submission

Joseph and Mary were committed to fellowship with Jesus, at any cost! Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily and follow me..."

The missionary had been in dangerous circumstances for many days. Finally the threat passed. Someone asked her, "Sister, what verse did you hold on to during those trying days?" The missionary lady responded, "Verse? I did not hold on to a verse, I held on to a person - the person of Christ." That is what we must do!

Conclusion

A lady had a favorite verse in the Bible which she loved and treasured. Her verse was this: "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day." As she grew sick and neared death, she began to shorten the verse thusly, "I know in whom I am believed and persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him." She continued to shorten the verse, just so she could repeat something from it. In her last day she repeated one word, "Him, Him, Him!" That’s it – it is all about HIM! Our real need is HIM!

A man had a couple of hours before an important meeting. He had heard that there was a beautiful garden in that city filled with lovely roses. He went to the garden and walked among the roses for a long time. He then went straight to the lunch meeting he was to attend. He sat down by a man who was from that city.

The local man said, "I know where you have been."

The visitor replied, "What do you mean, you know where I've been?"

The local replied, "You have been in the rose garden, for I smell aroma of the roses on you."

When we walk with the rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, people will be able to tell it. O, let us draw near to Him, for there we will encounter the sweet fragrance of heaven and have the ability to pass that on to others!