Robert Morris — The Priority of People
I want to share with you a message that I feel like the Lord gave me, called, "The Priority of People". So, I really have something in my heart about God stirring us up again for the lost. Stirring us up again for lost people and seeing lost people come to Christ.
So, this summer is — well, my study break is when the Lord started speaking this message to me that I'm gonna share with you today, and let me tell you how He started speaking it to me. It's gonna shock you. All the family was around. You know, we have three kids who are married, so that's six grown children, and eight grandchildren, and we were talking about Texas, about the bluebonnets, about the hill country. When you're just talking about the bluebonnets and the hill country, pretty soon you're gonna talk about the Bluebonnet Café in Marble Falls, and then you're gonna talk about Luckenbach, Texas, and if you know about Luckenbach, you're gonna talk about Willie Nelson. So, this is what we were doin' that was very spiritual on our family vacation. We started talkin' about Willie Nelson and our favorite Willie Nelson songs.
So, my point is we were talking about that, and I went to bed. You know how you have a song going through your mind? "You Are Always on My Mind". And I started thinking, what's always on my mind? What's always on your mind? If we had the ability — you know, we have television cameras here. If we had the ability to point a camera at you and what was on your mind came up on the screen — okay, relax! We don't have that technology! Okay? We don't have that technology. But if we did, for some of you it'd be family, and sometimes during different seasons it's different things that's kind of always on your mind, right? Okay, so it could be your family, it could be your business is struggling, it could be a health situation, it could be your marriage. You know, it could be things like that.
But if we pointed a camera at Jesus, and it would come up on the screen, what would come up on the screen? People. People were always on His mind. And again, as I said, we go through different seasons. When you fell in love, again, since we're talkin' about Texas, if you were in Texas when you fell in love, it was either Bubba or Bertha. When my son was young, James, I've told you before he's a fisherman. Fishing was always on his mind. He got up early on Saturday mornings and he watched every fishing show. But, he learned how to fish. He could catch fish. As a matter of fact, a man in our church took him fishing a while back, and they were catchin' some, and James said, can we go to another part of the lake that I saw on the way out here? And the guy said, you know what? I remembered your stories about James being this great fisherman, so I said okay.
So, he said, we went to another part of the lake and I said, James, I don't think I've ever seen anybody fishin' over here. And James went like this, um-hmm. And then, he caught this fish, and then he caught this fish, and then he caught this fish, and he caught eight fish like that. And the guy said to me, I thought it was funny the way he said it. He said, Robert, I just want you to know. I've never doubted your stories about James, but I'll never doubt 'em again!
So when he was young, fishing was always on his mind. But you think about, just think about it with me for a moment. Jesus, everywhere He went, what was on His mind? People. People. Matter of fact, he said to fishermen, who had fish on their mind, you've had fish on your mind. You're gonna have people on your mind for the rest of your life. I'm gonna change it. I'm gonna change your mind. Mark 6:34 says, "And Jesus, when He came out, saw many people and was moved with compassion towards them because they were sheep not having a shepherd, and He began to teach them many things".
We were talking to elders this last week and I said, my life purpose is to teach God's Word. That's my life purpose, to teach people God's Word. The reason I love to teach God's Word is because I love people. It's not that I love teaching, I love people. I love helping people. I love to teach people. You know, I don't love to teach dogs, you know? Or cats, I'd hate to teach cats, you know? Teach a cat, you know. At least a dog would look at you like he's kind of interested, you know, but a — so, anyway.
Even on the most difficult day of Jesus' life, on the cross, He had people on His mind. Think about it. He had His mother's welfare on His mind. He told John to take care of His mother. He's nailed to a cross, and He has His mother on His mind. He has the thief beside Him on His mind. He has the people who nailed Him to the cross on His mind, because He said the famous prayer, "Father, forgive them". Let me just take the pronoun, "them", and replace it with a noun. Father, forgive these people. They don't know what they're doing. So, why did Jesus have people on His mind so much? Why? Well, I've got three reasons. Of course, you know I'd have three, so I've got three reasons.
Here's the first reason, the heart of the Father. Jesus knew the heart of the Father better than anyone ever have. Would you agree with that? He knew the heart of His Father! Everywhere He went, He's trying to reach people. You know, when we started the church, I started with a motto that's still our motto today. It's not a vision statement or a mission statement, it's just a motto, "We're all about people". And in the early days, I had some people question me and say, well, shouldn't we be all about God? And I said, we are all about God. But if we're all about God, then we should be all about what God's all about, and God's all about people.
Everywhere Jesus went, He focused on people. Every time He thought that the Pharisees were placing a higher value on something rather than someone, He would correct them. You know, they placed a high value on the law. Here's what He was sayin'. Hey, guys, the law, people weren't made for the law. Remember, the Sabbath was part of the law. People weren't made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for people. He's always tryin' to bring 'em back to the Father's heart. The reason we gave that was to get people. It's all about people.
One time, Jesus was denied passage through Samaria. I don't know if you remember this, but here's what His disciples said. You want us to call down fire on them, Lord? Here in essence is what He said. You don't know the heart of My Father very well, do you? That wouldn't be the heart of My Father. One of the famous parables that He tells is the parable of the prodigal son. It's actually one part. It's one-third of one big parable, the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son.
Here's what precedes it. Here's Luke 15, if you're there in your Bibles, Verse 1. "Then all of the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained, saying, "This man receives sinners". Now, I put in parentheses, "people". See, Jesus, it never bothered Him what kind of people they were. If they were people, He was interested. He receives people and He eats with them, so He spoke this parable then, and again, it's a three-part parable. Here's what He was saying. With all of your learning, you don't have a clue about My Father's heart. I'm eatin' with people. I'm talkin' with people. I'm trying to help people. That's what it's all about. It's not all about your rules and regulations, it's about people.
So He tells the parable of the lost coin, and the lost sheep, and the lost son, and He says, everybody rejoices when they find what they were looking for. And He says this, right straight up. He says, I'm telling you, all of heaven rejoices over one person that repents. So, it's not just we're all about people; we're all about every person. We have a little saying that we've been saying around here with the staff this year, prioritize the person. Sometimes when you're all about people, you can be so focused on the event that you're having with hundreds of people, you forget the one person that's trying to talk to you right then. So, we've been saying to the staff, prioritize the person. Every person's valuable.
I've told you this before, but I'm gonna tell you a little something new that happened this week to me. Yeah, it was this week, Tuesday. I've had a difficult time understanding, most of my life, why anyone would love me. Because of some things in my life, my background, I've just had a tough time. And so, I've said to Debbie, many, many times, why do you love me? And she'd say, well, because you're a good husband and a good father. Well, what if I weren't a good husband and a good father? Would you still love me? You know, so I remember one of these nights we were goin', and she'd say, well, because you're kind. Well, what if I weren't kind? You know, you just can't win when a person's dealing with this, and I just couldn't figure it out. I mean, Debbie finally said to me, because I do! Shut up and go to sleep!
So, I was telling Dr. Henry Cloud about this this week. Many of you know, Dr. Henry Cloud is a life coach and he's a psychologist, too, so he's tryin' to help me get uncrazy, you know? So, I was tellin' him about, I said, I've just always had this thing. It's just difficult for me to understand why Debbie loves me, or why God loves me, why anyone would love me. And he said to me, just this Tuesday, he said, well, I can tell you why God loves you, because He's loving. And I don't know why, at my age, and pastoring as long as I have, it never hit me like that. He said, Robert, God loves you because He's loving, not because you did something. Just, He's just loving. He just loves. I just want you to understand. Jesus knew that His Father loved people. He just knew it. So, everywhere He went, that's why He had people on His mind.
Here's the second reason I think He had people on His mind everywhere He went, He knew the reality of eternity. He knew the reality of eternity better than anyone who'd ever lived. Jesus said things like this. Matthew 25:46, this is Jesus speaking. "And these will go away into everlasting punishment", everlasting, "but the righteous into eternal life". Luke 16:23, it's about the rich man, Lazarus. It says, "In hell and in torment, He looked up and saw Abraham in the distance, and Lazarus at his side".
Okay. Abraham was a real person that lived. Lazarus was a real person that lived. And He's talking about a man who lived. He said there was a certain rich man and there was a certain beggar. He didn't make this story up. This isn't a parable. He's talking about a real person, and Jesus said, in hell. He walked around more than any other person. I want you to think about this, more than any other religious leader ever, talking about an impending eternal destination and judgment for every person. If you'd cut that out of the Bible, you'd have to cut out a lot of Jesus' words, because He continued to talk about eternity and everlasting punishment, an eternity with God and eternity without God.
It's something that, if I believed it, and I'm saying that tongue in cheek, 'cause I know we do believe it, but if I believed it as much as Jesus believed it, it would cause me to live differently when I speak with neighbors. It'd cause me to live differently when I speak with someone I just meet on the street. If I really believe that that person's gonna be separated from God for all eternity, we need to be reminded of this. This is why Jesus did everything He did, because no houses, no bank accounts, no land makes it to the other side. There's only one thing that makes it to the other side, and that's people. People last forever. There's a good tweet if you want get a tweet. People last forever.
It's the only thing that lasts forever. And Jesus knew that! It caused Him to change His travel plans and go through Samaria to talk to the woman who'd been married five times. It caused Him to tell a rich young ruler the truth. It caused Him to weep over a city, because He knew that there was eternity on the way. You know, when we give, God takes our giving and He uses it to help people. But, I want you to think about this. How much money have you sent ahead? Jesus said, you know, store up treasure. I mean, Jesus said it, so you better think about it. So, what does your bank account look like, financially?
That's one thing you can think about. But, what if there were other accounts, like for serving in the church? Well, some of you say, well, I can't give, like a businessman, I can't load up an 18-wheeler, and I give my tithe, but it's not very much. But you volunteer, so what does your serving account look like? It could be overflowing. It could be more than some businesspeople. What does your praying account look like? What does your loving account look like? Okay, but here's the one we want to talk about. What does your witnessing account look like?
Now, I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad, 'cause I'm thinking about this myself. What does our leading people to Christ account look like? How many people are in heaven, yes, because we give, and because we pray, and because we love, and because we serve. But, how many people are gonna be in heaven because we personally led them to Christ? I think we've got to come to that point where Jesus, you know, told, go out and compel them to come in. I'm sending you out as sheep among wolves. Go, and go right now! Their eternity is coming. You never know when eternity's gonna happen for some person, so go right now.
When I used to do revivals, we'd do a youth night. We'd have free pizza, you know, that night. And then I would meet with the kids about 5:00 or 5:30, and I would say, okay, now there's a record that I set that I don't think any of you can break, but it's how many kids you can get in one car. Now, these weren't kids, these were teenagers, so junior high and high school. This guy in the church let me use, I was there at church. He let me use his Oldsmobile. Do any of you remember Oldsmobiles? Okay. They used to be like 40 feet long, you know. And so, I got, like 17 young people in the car. So, I used to do this just out of my own pocket. I just used to say, hey, whoever brings the most tonight gets a $50 bill, and if anyone breaks my record, you get a $100 bill.
Here was the reason I was doing it, because if I could get them there, they could hear the gospel, and it could change their eternal destination. I knew it. So, I remember one meeting, I think we were in Georgia, and they started talkin'. Hey, a guy beat your record, a guy beat your record. So, we went out. I mean, they're piled in. They have to be in the car for me to count 'em, you know? So, they're hangin' out there everywhere, and so they start getting out of the car, and it was 17. I said, well, you tied my record, but you didn't beat it. And he said, I'm not finished, and he walked around and opened the trunk. Six guys got out of the trunk.
Okay, but why did I do that? Because there really is a heaven, there really is a hell, and this is why Jesus had people on His mind everywhere He went. And here's the third reason that He had people on His mind, is because He knew the potential of people. Better than anyone, He knew the potential of people. Look at Luke 19, a few pages over from Luke 15. Verse 5 says, "And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house. So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it", these are the ones always complaining about Him being with sinners, "they all complained, saying,"He's gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner".
Can I say something here? Do you realize how radically inclusive Jesus was? Rich, poor, well-known, forgotten, hurting, healing, black, white, brown, different races, different tribes, different nations, different ethnicities, He included everyone. We need to be the same way. It doesn't matter where a person comes from or what a person's gone through, we need to see them like Jesus saw them. This is a person that Jesus died for.
"Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Lord, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor, and if I've taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore it fourfold'". Okay. Who else could have seen generosity in a greedy person, Zacchaeus? Jesus. Everyone saw him as greedy. Jesus saw him as generous. He saw potential. If this person can meet Me, he'll go from greedy to generosity. Who else could have seen purity in a prostitute? Jesus. Mary Magdalene. Who else could have seen boldness in a bumbling disciple? Peter, and Jesus saw it. Are you all following me?
Okay, I've got a really good question for you. Who else could have seen the potential in you, but Jesus? Do you know what Jesus thinks when He looks at people? Here's what He thinks. All things are possible with this person and My power. That's good, isn't it? All things are possible! And no limits with this person. I don't care what his background is, what he's been through, what he's been in bondage to. Doesn't matter. With My power, he can do anything I want him to do. No limits. Hey, here's one about me. Who could have seen a preacher in a little boy who had a speech impediment?
I've told you this before. When I was young, I couldn't pronounce my Rs, and you know, if your name is Tom Lane, it doesn't matter. When your name is Robert Morris — It wasn't that funny, Lee! This is Lee Mimms, a good friend of mine. He's been a Hollywood producer for 50 years, or whatever, produced the Olympics and produced presidential inaugurations. Anyway, so he helps with our university and we have the thing this Tuesday night where we give an award out every year, and Lee's come to help us with that. We're giving it to Kathie Lee Gifford, who's been a good friend of The King's University, if you didn't know. So, it just wasn't that funny. I just wanted you to know, so.
Listen, it doesn't matter what the person's in bondage to, once they meet Jesus. He can take care of it. He saw potential in people better than anyone. He treated people differently than any religious leader had ever treated them. That's why they wanted to be around Him. Think about this. Jesus Christ, God's Son, came to earth, and the sinners wanted to hang out with Him. That's how non-religious He was.
There's a statistic, when you're a pastor, you kind of learn all of these surveys and statistics. There's a statistic that I don't want Gateway Church to become. I don't want any person to become this that attends here. The statistic is, the longer that you're saved, the less you witness and the less you lead people to Jesus. I would think it'd be the opposite. I would think the longer you know Jesus, the more you'd want to talk about Him, and we've got to get to that place.
About a week ago, maybe a week and a half, Debbie and I stopped to get gas at a place, and we were comin' in about a two hour drive and stopped to get gas, went to the bathroom, and I wanted to get, you know, something to drink, and so I went in. So, she went on back out to the car and I was at the counter to pay for some peanuts and root beer or somethin'. And so, the lady in front of me though was counting out pennies and dimes and nickels, and one quarter. She bought $1.32 worth of gas, $1.32. And so, I walked out and I said to them, after they got their $1.32, it was a man and a woman. I said, can I buy you a tank of gas? And they said, well, yeah.
And then, you know, I carry $100 bills to give to people. I only had one left in my wallet. I told Debbie, when I got in the car, I said I wished I'd have had four or five. I would have emptied my wallet. She said, you did empty your wallet. You gave them everything you had. That was all you had. So, I pulled the $100 bill out and gave it to them. I also said, I want to give you this, too. And the guy said, why are you doing this? I said, I used to be on drugs. I was really messed up. There was no hope for my life. And a guy told me how much God loves me, and that Jesus died on the cross for all of my sins, and that if I'd give Him control of my life, He'd change my life. And I gave Him control and He changed my life, and the reason I do things like this is because I want everyone to know, and I want you to know, the two of you, I want you to know that God loves you, that Jesus died on the cross for you, and if you'll give Him control of your life, He'll change your life.
And they both started crying and hugged me. I want us to be a people, even more than we are, like Jesus. Here's what you might be thinkin'. When you say Jesus had people on His mind, they were, but I'm not Jesus. Yeah, but He's in you, and you have His mind, according to Scripture. What's always on His mind? People. Guess what? We have the mind of Christ. We have the mind of Christ. So, everywhere we go, people are gonna be on our minds. I want to encourage you to be a blessing to someone this week. I really believe that because you watched this program, the Holy Spirit is reminding you, just like I gave to that family at the gas station, I think He's reminding all of us that people are always on His heart and they should always be on our hearts. So, look for an opportunity to bless someone this week. People are the reason that Jesus came to this earth, and people are the reason that we reach out, and we show compassion, and we give, and we love, and we serve. I love you guys so much.