“ALL IN” – Introduction (Luke 9:23)
Most everyone in this crowd before me this morning has heard Jesus invite, “Come to me,” and has answered “Yes.” We truly believe that Jesus Christ is our Hope… only He can save us from sin and give an eternity in heaven.
The sad thing is that our “Yesses!” don’t always mean “Yes”… “Yes” these days can mean “Absolutely,” “Of course,” “No doubt,” or “Certainly!,” But it can also mean “Maybe,” “Depending on circumstances,” “I suppose so,” “if I have to,” or “If I’m in the mood.” The main “ALL IN” question today that needs our answer is with which “Yes” do we answer Him? The meaning of our “Yes” will be clearly shown by what we do when Jesus moves to take the lead and control our lives.
It’s about commitment. Many people are fine with commitment so long as it’s the modern version of it, which is not total commitment. Folks’ think, “If I make a full commitment, I’ll give up my freedom, control, and individuality.” Be assured… God demands everything – far more than many who profess to follow Him are willing to give – but one of His amazing paradoxes is that, as we give everything up to Him, we find true freedom as we fully trust Him… and intimacy with Him. What I’m telling you is that the Bible says that the first commitment that must drive all others is our totally surrendering to God.
The Bible spells this out in an unmistakable way:
In terms of “taking up a cross”:
''And Jesus said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.''' (Luke 9:23, ESV)
Whoever does not pick up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:38)
Then Jesus spoke to his disciples. He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must say no to themselves. They must pick up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples. He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must say no to themselves. They must pick up their cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
In terms of “losing life”
“Anyone who comes to me must hate their father and mother. They must hate their wife and children. They must hate their brothers and sisters. And they must hate even their own life. Unless they do this, they can’t be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their cross and follow me can’t be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27)
Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it. Whoever loses their life will keep it. (Luke 17:33)
Anyone who loves their life will lose it. But anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it and have eternal life. (John 12:25)
The Bible is always consistent in this call (shown in Old Testament commands and psalms and stories):
The Lord looks out over the whole earth. He gives strength to those who commit their lives completely to him. (2 Chronicles 16:29)
Lord, I will give thanks to you with all my heart. I will tell about all the wonderful things you have done. (Psalms 9:1)
Blessed are those who obey his covenant laws. They trust in him with all their hearts. (v 2)
I trust in you with all my heart. Don’t let me wander away from your commands. (v 10)
Help me understand your law so that I may follow it. I will obey it with all my heart. (v 34)
I have looked to you with all my heart. Be kind to me as you have promised. (v 58)
I have looked to you with all my heart. Be kind to me as you have promised. (v 69)
Lord, I call out to you with all my heart. Answer me, and I will obey your orders. (v 145)
Lord, I will praise you with all my heart. In front of those who think they are gods. I will sing praise to you. (Psalms 138:1)
In spite of all this, their sister nation Judah did not come back to me. They were not faithful to me either. They did not return with all their heart. They only pretended to,” announces the Lord. (Jeremiah 3:10)
I will build them up. I will not tear them down. I will plant them. I will not pull them up by the roots. I will change their hearts. Then they will know that I am the Lord. They will be my people. And I will be their God. They will return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:6-7)
Old Testament “ALL IN” Stories
In Genesis: Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph. In V: Moses, Joshua and Caleb, In Judges: Deborah, Gideon. In the time of the kingdoms: Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah. During the exile: Daniel, the three Children, Esther. In the New Testament: Peter, John (all the apostles), Stephen, Saul of Tarsus.
Their answers came in different ways. Some gave their “yes’ willingly, some had to be convinced after pursuing the world, some God had to break. Plainly, God wants us all “all in” and will use whatever measures are necessary to bring it about (unless we prove to Him that we are “all in” for self and the world).
And We Can Answer “No.” Because God loves humanity and gives us free will to go whatever way we choose, some answered “No.” Jesus acknowledges they might gain the world but will lose their soul: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24)
“ALL IN” means we’re trusting all that we have into God’s hands. Jesus said it’s commanded of us in the greatest commandment: we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength and, out of that, and go “all in” loving our neighbors…
“…one of them, an expert in the Law of Moses, asked Jesus a question to test him. He said, “Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?” Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ All of the law and the writings of the prophets take their meaning from these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
The idea of being “ALL IN” is Bible from Eden until now, from Genesis to Revelation.
If you know the card game we call Poker, you know the “ALL IN” idea well.
“ALL IN” means risking everything you have to win the game… you believe your hand is a sure-fire winning hand and you’re willing to put all you have on the table.
The term “bet the ranch” came out of poker games… in western movies, some buckaroo sees the chance for a fortune but has no money and only his ranch to risk… so the deed goes on the table.
Jesus taught “betting the ranch”:
“God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field. One day a man found the treasure. He hid it again and was so happy that he went and sold everything he owned and bought the field. “Also, God’s kingdom is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. One day he found a very fine pearl. He went and sold everything he had to buy it. (Matthew 13:44-46)
So we see the cost… they both “sold everything.” But do we see the reward, what is gained? They gained the “field” and the “pearl” – both representative of the “kingdom of God.” Its sounds like an easy deal, it shouldn’t.
We’ve all heard the old saying… ''Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.'' But when it comes to the most important investment we’ll ever make with the greatest treasure of our life – our life itself – God's advice is to do exactly that: put everything in His basket. In this case, to diversify is to lose the spiritual battle. Winning is taking all of our life and giving it completely to Jesus Christ.
Jesus lays before all of us the same challenge He gave to His disciples 2,000 years ago… go “ALL IN” following Him… to be committed to His people, the church, and give Him everything we have, so that in He can give us the biggest reward...
Skin in the Game
Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the United States, is one of the most prominent investors in modern times. His opinion is that the high-ranking insiders and corporate leaders who do the best job in running their company are those people who invest heavily in it… he calls it ''Skin In The Game.''
A whole-hearted “ALL IN” God and Savior isn’t interested in half-hearted followers. We must not mistake it… God went “ALL IN” when He sent Jesus, Jesus went “ALL IN” as He was willing to come and die for us. How would we expect Them to expect anything less of us?
We can't go “ALL IN” if you hold some out. “ALL IN” includes our money. It’s the biggest single obstacle that followers of Jesus Christ have, going “ALL IN” with the wallet, checkbook, and portfolio. We present our babies to God here at Bono… it’s way easier for us to do that than to dedicate our money.
There’s a big difference between going all-in in poker and going all in in life for Jesus Christ. When you go all-in for Jesus, you do it not just for Christ but also for those who don't know Him. When you go all in for Christ you take self completely out of the picture: “…let him deny himself…” (Luke 9:23).
And there is danger: “…and take up his cross…” The Galilean disciples Jesus spoke to knew what a “cross” meant… they had seen hundreds of their countrymen die on Roman crosses.
What if we changed the Lyrics to I Surrender All?
Some to Jesus I surrender, / Some to Him I freely give;
I will usually love and trust Him, / In His presence often) live.
I surrender some, / I surrender some.
Some to Thee, my blessed Savior, / I surrender some.
Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33).
We don’t just receive Jesus righteousness, we also receive a responsibility to live in the presence of God and follow His principles. If we are consumed with God’s holy words and let the Holy Spirit lead, we will have a holy conduct! God doesn’t save us to act like the world; He saves us to act like Him!
And we should remember God doesn’t command us to follow His Word to imprison us! He commands us to set us free! (John 8:32).
So we invite everyone to let Jesus transform the way we see ourselves, our families, our work, our fears, the church, and other people. He wants our faith and trust in Him to shape our hearts. We must surrender every part of our lives to Him as we tell Him “Yes.” So join in this year as we consider what our lives would look like if we were all to say “Yes!” and sincerely meant it… as we strive to be INTENTIONAL, INVESTED, INVOLVED, INCLUSIVE, INVITING, INSPIRING.
Who doubts that the hand God deals us with Jesus is anything but a sure-fire winner? Nobody should. But that’s where most disciples freeze up, fearful that if we go “ALL IN” we’ll miss out on all the pleasures and treasures and wonders human life has to offer. If that’s what we decide, Satan has deceived us, and devoured us. And what we’ll really miss out on is everything God has to offer.
Here’s a simple Bible proposition for us to understand: if we hold out on God, He will hold out on us.”