“LEARN TO SAY NO”                                     By Pastor YAU.

Text: Ephesians 5:8-18.                                      Match 1, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   The word doctors must learn: A patient checked in to a Florida hospital for a life-saving amputation. He woke up to find that the doctors had removed his wrong foot. In that same hospital, another patient had surgery on his wrong knee. Officials in that Florida hospital came up with a simple plan to avoid future tragic mistakes. Staffers will write “NO” with a black Magic Marker on the healthy limb. This simple step had prevented lawsuits and saved patients from unnecessary suffering.

2)   The word babies first learn: Many parents had told me that the first words their babies learn to speak are the word “No! No!” Most parents agree that their babies learned to say these words because they have heard their parents, mostly Moms, said those same words to them so many times in their early life. Being a parent myself, I realize the importance to say “no” to children at times, young and old alike. Saying no to our children is one of the ways to set boundaries for their behavior both in words or deeds. Even when we are grownups, there are times we need to say no to someone or something.

 

SOME IMPORTANT NOS. Too many to list. Here are examples:

1)     No other gods: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) This is the first of the Ten Commandments God gave to the Israelis. There are many very important lessons and doctrines in this one verse. Canaan was a land of gods and idol worship. When God gave the land to the Israelis, He wanted to make sure they inherited only the goodness of the land, not the evil habit of idol worship. It is very important for God’s people to worship the only true God and be loyal only to Him. This is about integrity and faithfulness in their hearts. God demands total loyalty of His people.

2)     No question asked: “So Abraham left, as the Lord had told him.” (Genesis 12:4) This is about total faith. How many of us will uproot our family, close down business, pull your kids out of their schools, say goodbye to family and friends and move to a place you never know what it is like just because God says so? True faith in God never have to ask any question. Whatever God says, that’s what we will do. This takes complete faith of any man. “Man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord if he is double-minded (has second thought).” (James 1:7-8) No wonder that Abraham was honored “Father of Faith.”

3)     No plan two: “Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded them.” (Exodus 7:6)Going to an emperor in the ancient time and tell him something you know he won’t like to hear is a sure way to ask for death penalty. But that was exactly what Moses and Aaron did because God wanted them to. God had a plan to bring His people, the Israelis, out of the land of slavery into the Land of freedom and dignity. Moses and Aaron were called to carry the message to the Egyptian emperor so he will allow the Israelis to leave. There was no substitute plan to accomplish the plan God had in his mind. Moses and Aaron were completely obedient and did what they were told to do.

4)     No back off: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39)This is what Jesus was asking God if it is possible to spare him from the pain and shame of dying on a cross. His willingness to die for the sin of the world out weighted his personal wish to live. Jesus did not back off from the plan God had for him when he came to the world to save men from their sins. (Matt. 1:21)The real commitment one may have to God is his determination to follow through God’s will regardless of the price he may pay. “And being found in appearance of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:8)

 

THINGS JESUS SAYS NO. Some of the common ones

1)   No more worry: “So do not worry, saying: ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Fathers knows that you need them.” (Matt. 6:31-32) Worry is one of the worst enemies of our faith that robs us of the joy of faith. Worry also blocks us from seeing and enjoying the love and power of God. God in the Bible has so much to say that we should not worry our needs of today or tomorrow. Worry stops us from building our relationship with God: we have to handle all things ourselves. God knows what we need and he is more than capable and willing to provide all our needs.

2)   No more judging: “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2)Judging others is another common sin we are told not to do any more. Jesus illustrated his point that we are never fair in judging others because we have planks in our eyes while we try to take the speck from theirs. Judging others wrongly can only damage our relationship with them. God is the only fair judge because only He knows what are in people’s hearts.

3)   No more fear: “Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matt. 14:27)When the disciples were in a boat that was being buffeted by strong winds and roaring waves, they saw Jesus walking on the water and mistaken him as a ghost, they cried out in fear. It is a common phenomenon to be afraid when life faces unexpected storms and shadows of our own imagined fear. Jesus wants us to know that he is always there to save us from harm. When we walk our life closely with Him, we have no reason to have fear.

4)   No more waiting: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36)Just as many people do today, the ancient Israelis wanted to know when will the Kingdom of God come to earth so they could do some last minute preparation to get in there. But Jesus told them even angels of heaven or the Son did not know the day or the hour God might bring His kingdom on earth. There are people who know that it is important to believe in Jesus and be saved. But they are just too busy on their life and they want to wait till the next day, next year or some other time to make that commitment. If you know this is important, don’t wait till the next day because you don’t know if you have the next day.

 

THINGS WE NEED TO SAY NO: (Ephesians 5:8-18)

1)   Say no to life in darkness: “For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. For the fruits of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10) Paul urged Christians to change their identity and their life style from darkness to light. Earlier in this same book, Paul urged them to live their lives worthy of the calling they received from God. (4:1) Christians need to say no to the life style of darkness, night, unseemly or disgraceful. Live in darkness pleases the devil but live in light pleases the Lord.

2)   Say no to shameful deeds: “Having nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” (5:11-12)Those who do not fear God do things to please the fresh, including the fruitless and shameful things. But Christians need to say no to these people and the things they do. Our new life in God should cause us to say no to all shameful deeds.

3)   Say no to slumber: “For it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it said: Wake up, O slumber, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” (5:14)Slumber is sleeping to the point of losing the sense of time and duty. Slumber Christians are those who have lost their sense of vigilance and duty. They need the light of Christ to shine on them to wake them up.

4)   Say no to foolishness: “Be very careful how you live---not as fools but as wise.” (5:15) “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no god.” (Psalm 14:1)Christians suppose to have the Holy Spirit in their hearts and are not fools. But some Christians live their lives as if there is no god or they don’t care about God. We are not to follow the fools, not to befriend with the fools and not to do things like the fools.

5)   Say no to evil: “Making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” (5:16) “Opportunity” means “time” in Greek. We are encouraged to make the best use of time because this world is evil. Evil doesn’t just exist today. It has been there since the beginning of time. Christians are to use time and all opportunities wisely so we will not become preys of evil in this world. We need to say no to all kinds of evil: evil thoughts, evil intention and evil deeds.

6)   Say no to debauchery: “Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (5:18)To get drunk is to live recklessly with no regard of boundary or rule to control one’s life. This certainly will lead to debauchery that will bring shame, painful consequence and discipline of God.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Learn from the Bible: God, in the Bible, has told us many things we should not do. Examples of the giants of faith should serve as our mentors as we travel through life. Learn to say no as did the giant of faith.

2)   Learn from Jesus: Jesus has told us, from his teachings, many of the things we should say no so we may live our life to be truly children of God. In a world of confusion without authority, we are to bring a standard so others may see and learn. Instead of being blinded into the world, we are to be the light of the world.

3)   Learn to say no: If you lack the will power to say no to things you know are bad, wrong and evil, you need to power of Jesus to help you. Confess your sins and ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him to come into your heart and be your Savior and Lord so you won’t live your life in struggle alone. Jesus will make you a new person with new purpose and new meaning.