John Mastin - Menomonie, Wisconsin Convention - Saturday Night, 2001

Luke 2:1-7, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. This census first took place while Cyrenius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” 
 
And in John's gospel, chapter 19:28 - 28, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' Now a vessel full of vinegar was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with vinegar, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up the ghost.”  The beginning and the end of Jesus' life on this earth. Thirty-three and a half years, thirty-three and half short years and His life was finished. Began so simply and ended as it did. 
 
I wanted you to take note of the words of that hymn we just sang. The very first verse, line of that hymn, picture the Saviour in compassion, come to earth to bleed and die (Hymn 73). Compassion, you know what compassion is? Compassion is not pity. I can look on you and pity you in your condition, whatever it is and do nothing. But compassion won't allow me just to stand there and watch. When I feel compassion, I feel in a measure of what you feel, in my heart; it moves me to do something. And compassion moved Jesus to leave heaven, and come to this earth to bleed and die. Think of His great love in leaving Heaven's home on high. Down to win earth weary sinners, wandering far, how can it be.. Oh, what love, tis passing knowledge, can it be, can it be? Can it be that people are going on through life untouched by this life, Jesus' life. Unmoved by His life that was moved with compassion. One that was moved with compassion to come and was willing to bleed and to die. To give his life, in His compassion, left Heaven's glory. 
 
There is something called 'culture shock.' On April 18th of this year, when I returned to the US, I was hit after 5 years away, with culture shock. The reverse of what I felt five years before when I returned to the Philippines from here. Just the reverse. Yes, it's culture shock, after five years away, to come back here and see how people live. I knew, I already knew, of course. But to come back and see how people live, it's a shock. It's such a contrast to people, most people who live in the Philippines. Now, in February, I hope to return to the Philippines, and I get hit again with a culture shock after being here for about ten months. Go back to the Philippines, and be with those living under those conditions. So people, when they go, workers even, when they go to a country, there has been a few that just can't handle the culture shock, just can't. Can't seem to adjust to it. For some it is a big shock, a big shock. I suppose the biggest rate of change from what we have here, what I've seen in another place, is in the mountains of New Guinea. I see there, people living in their simplicity; some use the term - stone age. Living like they did in the stone age. What a shock! What a difference. Nothing, that's nothing compared with Jesus leaving the glories of heaven. Do you know what He left? I don't! We hope to some day know. 
 
We had a sister worker in the Philippines (a native), was given the privilege of coming here for convention a few years ago. Just a few weeks ago, she died at the age of, just short of 82 years old. She came here and her heart was gripped. And she told us about that when she return to the Philippines, and she said, "I didn't know before how much the workers who came here before to our islands were willing to leave behind. To come here and to live like us. To live on our level because of love in their hearts, because they wanted to share the gospel with others. To come down to our level.." And it melted her heart. I know she never forgot it. I know it had a profound affect on her. To think that if they had stayed here, what they could be enjoying, what they could have. 
 
But that is nothing, that's nothing compared to what Jesus left in Heaven. Heaven was perfect. Can you tell me, can you tell me, can you name, one thing, even one of all the things that are available here on earth, one thing that's perfect? One? Even one? And Heaven was perfection!  All in Heaven is perfection. And Jesus left that to come to earth, where there is not one perfect thing. Culture shock!!! Difference. What a vast difference! And He left all that. And listen, here is how He came. He didn't come to a palace, did He? We know that. He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Is there a mother here? Is there a mother even in the poorest part of this earth, who would willingly choose to place her newborn child in a manger? A feed trough! They call it a feed trough. That's what it is. It's a place where the animals feed. Is there a mother, living under even the poorest conditions, that would choose to lay her newborn child there?  Jesus came from the glories of Heaven and was placed in a manger as a newborn babe. That's just what we read in Luke's gospel. What a change! What a vast difference, from what He enjoyed in Heaven, from eternity, eternity. He's never known anything different. Never! Except perfection in Heaven; and He left all that and He came here. 
 
If our sister worker could be deeply touched, and deeply moved by the difference there is between American and the Philippines, what should it do to our heart to think of what Jesus left to come here to help us? Maybe that helps us to understand a little better what is meant by compassion. That's compassion. Seeing us in our condition and willing to come and do something about it. That's compassion! That's not pity. That's compassion. And He was willing to do that, to come to bleed and to die. To give His life to pour out His life, to be here, a homeless stranger. And treated like He was treated and God looking on, God watching it all, knowing what was going on and being willing for it. 
 
When we, like we said the other day, when we choose to give our lives in the ministry, we are willing for the condition. The conditions are to leave all and to be homeless strangers. Not for 'X' number of years, but for as long as we are able, as long as we are able. Sacrifice? I don't want to use that word. Privilege! That's it. What a privilege. Perhaps when we are first in this, it seems more like sacrifice, but after awhile, we grow ashamed, ashamed of ourselves that we ever considered it a sacrifice when it is such a privilege.  Such a wonderful privilege. And so this is a choice that we make, to go out, and to leave behind for the rest of our lives, if that's possible, to be homeless strangers, unknown. And the, if we want to use the word sacrifice, we have to say that this is for those that want to make this offer and give their lives, because whether they're in God's family or not, each of these has parents. And they are involved in the choice, too! Deeply involved in this choice, that their child would make, or children would make, deeply involved. And it's a big step for them, too, to be willing, to say, "Yes, I'll let my child go, my children go and give their lives in this work." It is not a small thing. And we don't ever want to treat this lightly, ever. And that's a big responsibility for them. And I know that in most cases, they do all that they can to encourage that child or children, those children, to keep their lives on the altar of service. And they feel it keenly if it's not possible. But there's a responsibility that goes along with it, too, and that's this: to let them go. And allow them to really cut the ties with home. And to really be in this work, and be in it with all of their heart. Cut the ties and let them go and give them liberty to give their lives as God had intended them to give their lives. 
 
My family is not professing. My dad is gone now and my mother is still alive and I hope to see her in just over a week. She doesn't understand much about this and how I'm giving my life. It seems strange to her. But I'm really indebted to her for being as understanding as she is. And not continuing to make claims on me and insisting that I come, come often. I know she'd feel a lot better about it if I could be closer, if I could come more often. But she has put no pressure on me and I appreciate that. That's something for someone who really doesn't understand. And then I think of God in Heaven. You see, it was His choice, too. It was His choice to send His son, to let Him go. And if there are any parents that find it a struggle to let his child go to enter this ministry, and find it difficult to cut the ties, let them go, and really set them free, think of God in Heaven, who had never been separated from His son. They were together from eternal ages. And the day came, and we can read about that in Galatians 4:4-5, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law," - God said, "Go." He sent Him. He didn't hold back. He sent Him. So Jesus left His home, so that you and I could have an eternal home. 
 
But the thing that is going to allow us to have an eternal home is if we give Him a home in our heart. If we welcome Him into our life, our heart, and give Him a home while we have life here, and don't lay any claims to our own life.  Oh, dear, I shouldn't have said that. If any have said that or felt, "It is my life, I can do what I want with it," - don't feel that way. Please don't feel that way. It is not true. Whether it is your own making, our own idea, or Satan sowed that in your mind, it's a lie. It's not true. It was never true. It was never ever true. This life was loaned to us, given to us for a little while, so that we would use it to prepare for eternity. It belongs to God, and He wants to work in it and use it. It's not ours. Somehow we get the vague idea it's ours, "It's mine and I can do what I want with it." It's not ours. But He would like us to use it as a home for His Son. Welcome Him into our heart. 
 
It tells us in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, that Jesus came to this earth and no one knew Him here. They didn't know Him here, they didn't have anything to do with Him. He came to His own, His own people, the Jewish people, and they didn't receive Him. But there were those, there were a few that received Him, they welcomed Him into their heart and into their lives. They made a dwelling place for Him in their heart, they welcomed Him in. And then in John 14, he said, "In My Father's house are many mansions, and I'm going to go and I'm going to prepare a place for you. A room for you there, a place for you there, because you gave Me a place in your heart now." Can you think of that, can you picture this wee babe being born into the world and no one cared enough to make room for Him that night? It was a lodging place. Oh, of course, it was full. We understand that because everyone was going to where they came from to pay these taxes, to go register and all - so everything, every room was full; things were overflowing, we understand that. That's understandable, but the point is, here's a young couple, a mother about to give birth. The innkeeper didn't say, "Oh, bring her here, we'll stay outside, we'll find a place, bring her into this room, she needs a special room, she needs a clean place, she's about to give birth, this is unusual. This is not normal. Come in." He didn't do it. And there would have been others in that inn, don't know how many others who had the very same opportunity. But they wouldn't do it. Didn't have enough compassion, perhaps pity, poor woman, poor woman about to give birth, but didn't lift a finger. Didn't make a move. Didn't make an offer to give them a place. So Jesus had to be laid in that manger, that feed trough. The place where no caring mother would ever place her child if she had a choice. And Mary had no choice. And this is the way God severed the ties and allowed His Son to come and to be born. And now He wants a place in our heart and He's looking in our heart and that's why we have meetings like this. 
 
This is why on Saturday evening, we give opportunity to anyone who would want to give Him a place in their heart. Welcome Him in so that He can prepare for us a place in His father's home. That's what He's doing now. Preparing places for those who give Him residence in their hearts now. He gave His life as a homeless stranger in the ministry for three and a half years, no home of His own, no certain dwelling place, no settled place to rest His head, He didn't know from one day to the next where He would be sleeping that night. He didn't know the next night, He didn't know, He chose, of course, just as He set the example for each of those that followed His ministry. But He followed that right until His last breath as He hung on the cross. The last tortured breath that he took on the cross, as He hung there, slowly choking, strangling, whatever you want to call it. Couldn't breathe. Lungs filling up with water, having to push Himself up trying to take another breath. Having sagged into that position because the pain was too great in His feet, but then the pain was in His hands, but to take another breath, to lift Himself up, somehow finding enough strength to lift Himself another time for another breath. And when He did that one of those last times, He said, "I thirst!" Why did He say that? A good drink of water wouldn't have done Him any good, really! He was so near the end. It's been said before and I'll just repeat it, and I believe it with all my heart, He said it giving anyone, anyone there, one last opportunity to do for Him. He came into the world like that, among uncaring people, and there were few, there was rejoicing over each one that gave Him place, in the course of His life, each one. There weren't many! But there were some, and there was rejoicing in Heaven each time there was even one. And there will be rejoicing in Heaven tonight if there are any who would make that same choice, to give Him a place. Hanging on the cross, in agony, He didn't have to say that for Himself. I believe He said for the sake of others, "I thirst. Is there one, is there even one who cares? Would have compassion on Me? And help Me in My need?" There wasn't one. Doesn't it Break your heart??? To think there was none, not even one who would be moved enough. Oh, yes, they took a sponge, and they put vinegar on it, not water. That wouldn't satisfy thirst, that would just make it worse. Make Him more thirsty. That was just an attempt to make it harder for Him. There wasn't one, but He gave them - one more chance! 

Just the other day a man came to me. As far as I knew, I had never met him before. He said, "You were here six years ago." I said, "Yes, I was." He said, "You saved my life." "No, I didn't." "Yes, you did." "No, I didn't, I don't even know you." "Yes, you did." "No!" "Yes, something you said in the meeting, that last meeting of the convention, settled it for me." "Well, maybe it wasn't me that said it." What I meant was, maybe God said it to him because I didn't know him. And I didn't know his condition. How could I have known, how would I, how could I say what would help him? I wouldn't know what to say. But it was said and it gave him a hope and he made his choice. And he opened his heart, and he's here now. And Jesus is preparing a place for him, even as he is preparing a place for us. And we want to go and to claim that place in His father's home. 
 
But it depends on us giving Him a place now, and so we're going to give that invitation, tonight. If there would be any, and we hope with all our hearts that you would never in any way feel pressured, if this isn't in your heart... If you haven't already settled it before the meeting began, or resettled it even now, we don't want you to stand. But if it is settled, and you don't want to go another day without giving Him a welcome place in your heart, Him who was so willing to leave so much, to come there here where there's so little, and give us hope, we'd like you to do that. And so we're going to sing a hymn, and anytime during the last two verses, if you'd like to make that choice known, stand to your feet and we can rejoice with you, to encourage in that choice. So stand and make that choice known. And that Hymn is 161, "Lord, I desire to come now to Thee." And again, could we sing this hymn softly.