Sermon for Sunday April 15th, 2012

Left Behind by Kelly Benton

Romans 5:8-5:8

Today’s sermon is titled “Left Behind”. I am sure all of us have left things behind a time or two in our busy lives haven’t we? I think we can all relate to leaving the house and forgetting our wallet or leaving a restaurant and forgetting something on the table such as sun glasses or car keys.

In a world with much going one we often times leave things behind as we press forward with whatever it is we have on our agendas. I myself have left ton of little things behind here and there throughout my lifetime but has any of you ever left a kid behind?

Let me share a personal experience with you this morning.

This past fall was Stacy’s parents 40th wedding Anniversary. Stacy had left earlier than me and the kids for Belleville to help get things set up for the party. So we drove separately. The party was a great success and we had a wonderful turn out. Since we drove separately, I left the following day to come back to Leon and took Shelby and Austin with me and left Shayla and Kagen with Stacy. (Splitting up kids when driving is always a wise thing to do when traveling).

We got to Salina and I had to stop and use the restroom. Shelby was sleeping and I told Austin that I was going inside the gas station to use the restroom and I would be right back. I went in and did my business and came back out. I took off as I was getting on the Highway I turned around to make sure Austin had his seat belt on because He hates his seatbelt and has a habit of taking it off whenever we stop. As I turned around and asked, “Austin is your seat belt on?” I realized Austin was not in the car!! I woke Shelby up and she said she didn’t even realize we had stopped and she didn’t know Austin was gone either.
I was really freaking out!!!  Austin had left the car when I was in the restroom and was walking around the gas station looking at candy and toys. When I left the restroom I assumed Austin was still in the car but this was not the case.

So, here I was, on the highway, with nowhere to turn around until a mile or two down the road. Gary, I have to tell you, I was speeding!! Horrible thoughts were racing through my mind and getting back to the gas station seemed like an eternity.

I finally got there and sure enough Austin was standing in the store looking at some sunglasses. I was relieved I had him but then my thoughts turned to what Stacy was gonna say about it when she found out I left our youngest son and a gas station in Salina Kansas.

Have you ever been left behind? I learned a very valuable lesson that day; make sure I have everyone before I take off!

This is exactly how we should view all of our loved ones, friends, neighbors and anyone who matters to us. Receiving Jesus is a personal experience but it shouldn’t stop there. We need to share it with others so that no one is left behind when Jesus calls us home. No one should ever be left behind.

I also believe that we too can get left behind at times in life. We can get left behind from receiving what God has planned for us, we miss out on His blessings because….

I. We’re Stubborn!

A. I think back to when I left Austin at that gas station in Salina and I can’t help but to think that he got out of the truck because he was stubborn.

1. He wanted to get out and see all the candy and toys. He wanted to do what he wanted to do. His focus was on Him.

Philippians 2:21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

2. God desires our focus to be on Him and on His will for our lives. Yes, He wants to give us all the sweets and fun things in life but He also wants us to wait on Him and allow all things to be according to His plans not ours.

3. Sometimes we feel as if we have been left behind don’t we? Sometimes we feel as if we have hit a dead end and can’t move forward in our Christian lives because we don’t feel God within our lives.

4. Maybe we have been waiting on God for a long time. We’ve been waiting on Him to give us guidance, We’ve been waiting on Him for a blessing, We’ve been waiting on Him to open a closed door in our lives, We’ve been waiting on Him to send us a spouse, a friend, a brother or sister that can give us comfort in a time of need but we are so tired of waiting on Him because we are growing weary and can’t go on.

5. So what we do is make things worse and move without Him. We do our own thing and we find ourselves lost and in deep turmoil because we placed our trust in us rather than Him.

6. We don’t want to wait on God so we chose our own stubborn path because we want to do what we want rather than waiting on Him to provide.

7. When we move without God’s guidance we lose focus on Him and focus more on us.

II. We don’t Pay Attention.

A. When Austin decided to leave the car and go into the store he stopped waiting on me and his attention was self-absorbed.

1. Have we ever been in the same position as Austin? Sure we have.

2. We are really self-centered creature by habit aren’t we? We love to have what we want when we want and we often times we place our wants above others.

3. When we focus more on us than anything else we seem to forget and overlook the obvious things in life.

Illustration: The "South Indian Monkey Trap" was developed by villagers to catch the ever-present and numerous small monkeys in that part of the world. It involves a hollowed-out coconut chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be seen through a small hole. The hole is just big enough so that the monkey can put his hand in, but too small for his fist to come out after he has grabbed the rice.

Tempted by the rice, the monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped. He is not able to see that it is his own fist that traps him, his own desire for the rice. He rigidly holds on to the rice, because he values it. He cannot let go and by doing so retain his freedom. So the trap works and the villagers capture him.

4. We too become trapped in all sorts of things in life because we don’t pay attention to the obvious things in life. At times our flesh can cause tunnel vision and we can only focus on one thing.

5. For some, the stringent pursuit of wealth traps us into a world of work. We lose perspective to what really matters in life and our relationships fall apart all around us.

6. How many times have we heard stories of failed marriages because the husband spends too much time away at work and not enough time at home? Or how about the absent parent that shoves their children off onto other people because their desire for success in the world, to do drugs or party is more important?
Illustration: The 2004 film entitled “Ray” is a film based on the life of one of our most beloved entertainers, Ray Charles.
- Watch with me this clip of the movie, Ray when Ray’s wife confronts him on his drug addiction, the neglect of his children, and his misguided priorities.
VIDEO: “Ray Charles”

7. I do believe all of us are capable of falling into a trap as well when it comes to cultivating our relationship with Jesus. Sometime we allow our priorities to get all mixed up and we fail to realize what our number one priority needs to be.

Illustration: I love this time of year! The warm weather brings much to do after being cooped up inside during the winter months. The summer months come and bring with it wonderful weather, Baseball, Golf, working outside, activities at the lake, cook outs, and fishing.

These are all wonderful things but we need be careful not to lose our attention of our relationship with Jesus. Many of us will place the summer and good times it brings above God. Some will skip church, Bible Study, and even prayer in order to enjoy the summer.

8. Praising and worshiping God loses our attention and we pour all of our attention of the world.

Romans 5:8 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

9. When we place ourselves above God, we are hurting our relationship with Him. Skipping time with God should never be an option. We must keep our attention on God and on our relationship with him or we’ll simply become self-absorbed and have our focus on us.

10. We need to always be reminded that the world doesn’t just revolve around us, were not in it alone and God calls us to pay attention to Him, His love, and others.

III. We need one another!

A. Thinking back to the day I left Austin, I realize I should have done things differently.

1. First of all as a father, I should have been more responsible and mad sure Austin was with me before leaving. I shouldn’t have assumed he was.
2. I think many times in life we assume too much. We assume that our friends and family here in the church are spiritually okay. We see them each week and we assume that all is well with them. Many times one of us will miss a Sunday here or there and we really don’t think much about it because we assume that all is well with them and the truth is sometimes we don’t even notice there’re gone some Sundays.

Illustration: Last Sunday was a great example of this. Charley has been working many long hours and this has unfortunately kept him from worshipping with us this past month.

I received a call from his sister after church to check if he and Angel had been at church. She was very worried about him and Angel because they were supposed to be at her house after church service for Easter. I had assumed that they didn’t come to church because he was working.

I didn’t really think twice about it but I should have been a better brother in Christ to Charley and realized that it was Easter Sunday and that he was more than likely off work and followed up when I didn’t see him.

We did some calling around and found out that Charley simply over slept and forgot about going to his sisters for Easter. Thank God he and Angel were okay.

3. We need to do better about our follow-up with our brothers and sisters. We need to be there for one another. For all I knew, Charley could have been in some real trouble and may have needed some help.

4. I also think back to that day when I left Austin and realize that I should have woke Shelby up so she could have taken care of Austin while I went inside the gas station. Here I was going inside the store with an eight year old basically by himself with a sleeping teen! Wow, what was I thinking?

5. This was a big mistake on my part. I should have woke Shelby up. She was asleep with no one watching Austin. It could have been worse really. Who knows what could have happened?

6. A stranger could have taking my kids because of my negligence. It was my responsibility to wake Shelby up and make sure she was alert and on guard. I wasn’t doing my job.

7. Friends, let me ask you this morning, are you awake? Are you aware of the dangers around you? Are you awake? Can you see the signs? Spiritually, have you dozed off? If so, it is time to wake up and be on guard.

I Peter 5: 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

8. As your pastor I need to do better and make sure each of you are awake and on guard because the enemy is out there prowling around waiting for an opportunity to pounce on you.

Revelation 3:3 “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”

Conclusion: God has created us to be here for one another as we seek Him. His desire is that as grow closer to Him we grow closer with one another by realizing we are a family and we need to care for one another. The truth is it is all of our responsibilities to keep one another up, focus and on track for God.

We can’t allow ourselves to be self-centered about it, we need to pay attention to what’s important, and we can’t leave anyone behind. It’s time we take our attention of ourselves and place it on Jesus and others. It’s time we leave our selves behind!!