The Greatest Invitations

God Invites Us to Experience Himself

James 4:8


Pastor Craig Ledbetter

14 Nov, 2010   AM

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (James 4:8)


A.     This month, we are focusing our attention on our personal walk, relationship with Jesus Christ

B.     It is one of the most neglected relationships of all time

C.     He is not a God that is far away, but only as distant as our desire for Him


1.      The closer we determine to get to Him, the closer He is allowed to get to us

2.      It is NOT that He seeks to get away from us, but that He waits until He is wanted, until He is sought after, and yearned for, and from that moment, runs towards even the worst of sinners!


D.     With this Scripture (James 4:8), God invites us to take a step towards Him, and we will find Him running towards us! Remember the coming home of the prodigal son!

E.      This morning, we will look at 7 invitations to “draw nigh”; get close; snuggle up to God almighty


II.    Message


A.     Come Unto Me (Matthew 11:28-30)


1.      Only Jesus can give you rest, no matter the storm you may be going through


a.       Jesus does not offer rest through a pill, or through hypnosis, or tranquilizers, or drinks

b.      But just by His PRESENCE in your life


2.      He promises that if you will come to Him, He will never cast you out, and ALSO that HE will never leave thee or forsake thee!

3.      Offers a rest for your SOUL – not always for your body


a.       There are many a health problem, or financial problem, or neighbour problem

b.      But there is no soul problem with a believer!

c.       Because we can, should and MUST cast ALL our cares upon him (1Peter 5:7)


4.      How often do you go to Jesus throughout your day? Seek His PRESENCE?

5.      I can tell if you have spent any time with Him…


a.       You will be at rest

b.      You won’t be carrying all the burdens and problems that you were just before

c.       You will be able to sleep

d.      Why? Because HE has done all the work – as a matter of fact, He has FINISHED the work, so that you don’t have to!

e.       He finished the work by His perfect life, and His perfect death on the cross!


6.      We are so often laden down with our sins, our griefs, our guilt and shame – and yet he welcomes us to Him – invites us!


a.       The more you spend time with Him, the longer the rest, and the better the rest

b.      There is an open invitation to return unto Him (Isaiah 55:7)


B.     Follow Me (Matthew 9:9) This is a follow on thought from Matthew 11:29 “learn of me”


1.      The Christian life is not an encounter with Jesus, but a life-long relationship – a commitment to His way of living

2.      The picture being presented in Matthew 11:29 and 9:9 is of you taking Christ’s YOKE (that HE wore), and putting it on, and learning how to obey God, and trust God, and stay the course and finish my course – with Jesus along side me!

3.      So, to follow, and learn of Christ is to let Him be the Master, and we the disciple. Matthew, the hated tax collector took up the offer – and left all to follow Jesus

4.      So many people, and some very devout people pray, but do not follow and obey Christ

5.      The invitation is to learn to:


a.       Do as He did

b.      React the same way He did

c.       Love what He loves

d.      Hate what He hates

e.       Become more and more like Him, every day of every month of every year of our lives

f.       He only changes your life as you allow HIM to be your pattern for life!


6.      There is an open invitation for everyone in this room to do the same

7.      It will be worth losing whatever you currently are doing and holding on to!


C.     Look Unto Me (Isaiah 45:22)


1.      Take a good look at this invitation!

2.      It asks us to look ONLY to Him – not to all the other supposed answers and “saviours” that the world offers, that never satisfy, and never work!

3.      ONLY He is there! Only HE can hear you when you pray, and only HE can answer you

4.      The invitation is to look to Jesus


a.       For every answer to every problem you face

b.      For grace and strength for every step

c.       For hope and encouragement through every day

d.      For wisdom and understanding in the darkest of hours

e.       But best of all, for salvation!


5.      When a baby first starts to walk, just watch him or her.


a.       That child does not watch his feet as it begins to take those first steps. Look VERY CAREFULLY and see where that child is looking. His or her eyes are FASTENED on the face of the encourager! "Come on, you can do it!" and the child takes that first tentative step. No matter how many times he has to start over and start over and start over, the encourager is right there: "Come on, you can do it! You can do it! Oh look, everybody!" Then we gather him or her in our arms and bless them and make them feel so loved and special--they start squirming to be put down so they can try again!!

b.      Without that parent to look to, learning to walk would be almost impossible!


6.      Yet God says, “Look unto me and BE YE SAVED!”


a.       Not, be more religious, or be a better person, but to be SAVED from the wrath to come

b.      Just look to Him, like you do your friend’s approval, and like you look to your pay packet every week, and trust Him


7.      It says, "Look."


a.       That does not take a lot of effort.

b.      You don’t have to do anything hard - just "look."

c.       You do not need not go to college to learn to look.

d.      You may be the biggest fool, and yet you CAN look.


8.      It says, "Look unto Me.”


a.       NOT to yourselves. No use looking there. You'll never find comfort in yourselves

b.      There actually IS no other God, or Saviour (45:21)

c.       It was Jesus who sweat great drops of blood.

d.      It was Jesus who hung on the Cross.

e.       It was Jesus who died and was buried.

f.       It was Jesus who three days later rose again

g.       It is Jesus who now sits at the Father's right hand.

h.      O, look to Me! Look to Me!

i.        And you WILL be saved!

j.        How? Just by trusting Him enough to ask to be born again (Rom 10:13)


9.      If your life is miserable, it will always be miserable — miserable in life and miserable in death — if you do not obey this text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.

10.  It goes for anybody and everybody! “All the ends of the earth!”

11.  Jesus could be very hard to find if He wanted to be, but He is the easiest to call upon, and trust


D.     Reason With Me (Isaiah 1:18)


1.      God invites you to argue with Him, debate, discuss, get upset with Him. Ask Him all the why’s that you can come up with!

2.      Why? Because He can handle your questions, and your burdens

3.      He can take away your sinful past, but He won’t do it until you understand the Lamb of God concept:


a.       That God doesn’t overlook sin, He has to judge it

b.      And that He substituted Himself in your place, and then judged Himself as a Man

c.       And then said you can go free now!

d.      None of your problems, questions, issues can compare to such an answer as forgiveness offers


4.      ALL of our problems are sin problems – heart problems!!!

5.      All of our answers are rooted in forgiveness & cleansing from sin – being made white as snow!

6.      There is no greater invitation than to come to Christ as a sinner, and be able to walk away clean, and forgiven, and washed, and pure, and whole!

7.      It is an open invitation to absolutely everyone in this room – no matter how low you may be, or far away – draw nigh to God and He will…? Draw nigh to you!


E.      Know Me (John 14:3-9; Jeremiah 9:23,24)


1.      Oh this is awesome! This is such a big theme throughout the Bible

2.      God from page 1 in the Bible is inviting us to know Him


a.       Know how HE thinks

b.      Know what He wants

c.       Know what pleases Him

d.      Know what moves His heart

e.       Know what HE thinks about – which by-the-way, is always about YOU (Psa 40:5  Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.)


3.      Many a man has wasted his life trying to know everything and everybody, but missed life because they did not know Jesus

4.      Saul of Tarsus was the most intellectual, most religious, most studious man of his day, but he up until the road to Damascus, never knew Jesus. From that day forward, He had only ONE desire… to know HIM (Philp 3:8-10) no matter what it cost him!

5.      Aren’t you glad that if you Draw nigh to God He will… draw nigh to you too?!


F.      Prove Me (Malachi 3:8-10)


1.      This is an open invitation for God’s people to put God to the test. Our Heavenly Father, tells us in His Word that we can prove Him. What does that mean?


a.       To see if He really will keep His promises, and whether His word is always right!

b.      The word prove means, "to ascertain as fact; to verify; to be found true by trial".

c.       Jeremiah 33:3 tells us, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Hallelujah! God wants us to grow stronger in our faith and trust that He IS Able to meet our every need!

d.      When someone invents a product, they test it, by proving what it can do. It's not offered merely on the word of the inventor.

e.       When you go to purchase a vehicle, you don't just accept the word of the salesman that it's "the one for you"--you prove it by taking it for a "trial run".


2.      Merely believing in God is not enough.


a.       Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19.

b.      Merely believing in God is not enough to carry us through the tests and trials that come into our lives!

c.       We need proof. Why? Because we are humans, limited in our comprehension, and it is the proof that STRENGTHENS our faith--that increases our faith--that convinces us we serve a God Who knows us, loves us, and is willing AND able to meet our every need.


3.      Certainly we all have faith in the God we serve: otherwise, we would not believe He exists.


a.       But to prove Him is when we put "legs" on our faith, when we reinforce that faith by indisputable proof.

b.      The Bible assures us that we can prove Him.

c.       Why does He tell us to prove Him? Because He wants our faith to be reinforced by fact. He doesn't want us to be limited by a faith that is a mere belief--He wants us to be convinced, persuaded, rooted and grounded, firmly established in our faith by the proof that He is a real God: real in our souls, real in our every day lives, real in meeting our needs!


4.      You need to be sure that…


a.       God’s grace is sufficient like Paul discovered in 2Cor 12

b.      God will honour you and take care of you when you think about others, and honour God first with your monies, instead of only thinking of yourself

c.       God still answers prayer – maybe takes a while, but He will answer!

d.      God’s word is perfect and true, and absolutely reliable

e.       God’s will is best

f.       Time is winding up – just look at the Book of Revelation, and lay it beside your newspaper!


5.      What an amazing God that would invite us to investigate Him, and prove Him true

6.      Have you taken Him up on His invitation to prove Him?


G.     Trust Me (John 11:37-44)


1.      People so easily trust God for the easy times – for the circumstances that don’t need a miracle

2.      But Jesus often allows troubles and problems go deep in our lives, and then invites us to trust Him THEN!

3.      Example of Lazarus dying

a.       Mary and Martha had a brother named Lazarus who was very sick, and at the point of death

b.      They quickly called for Jesus to come and heal Lazarus – they knew Jesus could heal Lazarus because He had healed countless thousands of people over the past 3 years

c.       But Jesus on purpose delayed coming, and actually let Lazarus die

d.      When Jesus did finally appear at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, there was a large group of people mourning, and Mary and Martha were FURIOYUS at Jesus

e.       Jesus invited them to trust Him for the impossible – that’s what trust is all about

4.      Jesus invites us to just believe God!


a.       Even though the disciple’s ship may be sinking in a deadly storm

b.      Even though Paul was in prison and on his way to a beheading in Rome

c.       Even though the people of Israel were cornered by the Egyptian army at the Red Sea

d.      Even though Mary never had known a man sexually


5.      You see, if there is a God in heaven (and there is), then He invites us to trust Him even beyond the grave, and beyond the impossible!

6.      Aren’t you glad for such an invitation?


III. Application


A.     The biggest word in the Bible is found in John 3:16 – “whosoever” – open to anybody

B.     Not everyone accepts God’s invitations though


1.      Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

2.      Psalm 81:8-11 “Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.”

3.      John 5:39,40 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”

4.      Don’t turn Him away. He still knocks, and waits, and calls (Rev 3:20)


C.     Will you accept the Invitation, whichever one fits you


1.      For Salvation, and Sanity (Matthew 11:28-30)

2.      For a New Life – different, better, blessed (Matthew 9:9)

3.      For Salvation, Encouragement and Hope (Isa 45:22)

4.      For Sense and Reason in a world gone mad (Isaiah 1:18)

5.      For a Closeness to Jesus (Philp 3:10)

6.      For Confidence in Jesus (Mal 3:10)

7.      For Impossible Expectations (John 11)


D.     Draw nigh to God, and thankfully, He WILL draw nigh to you!