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He Came to Give Us Eternal Life

Peninsula Community Church

He Came to Give Us Eternal Life

December 15, 2013

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him

I love Christmas decorations. While in New York, one of the things we used to do after our Christmas Eve service was to load the family in the van and head off to look at homes that had decorated their homes to the point that the International Space Station could see the light emitted from the home. I would often think about the time it took to place each of those lights in the exact location so that they would achieve the intended purpose.

After seeing those light displays, I would turn to the task of placing the lights on our Christmas tree. How could they do what they do when it always seems so complicated to simply get the lights onto our tree. I am not sure if you have had this problem before but you take out all of the ornaments and the lights out of the storage container and as you are placing the lights on the tree you find they are tangled to the degree that it becomes a frustrating nightmare. And then finally, you get them untangled and placed on the tree only to find out that one of the bulbs is blown so that now the whole strand of lights is out. Of course finding the one light that is causing the problem is like finding a needle in a haystack. Things like this can complicate the season. It can put a dampener on the way we feel and the way we look at Christmas.

The fact is Christmas can be complicated in so many ways. There are so many events to attend. There are presents to buy. There are family members that will visit that we do not like but we have to play nice with them because it is Christmas. We buy gifts for people we don’t like with money we don’t have. Then we have to try to buy a gift that you know someone really wants but you have to buy it and and then wrap in such a way that it will be a surprise for the one opening it. And then, there are the gifts we get that we are not sure what they are about or what use they serve. For a while the singing fish was popular. What do you with a singing fish? Even if it sings “Sweet Home Alabama” what do you do with it?

While Christmas can be complicated, the message of the Gospel does not have to be. While the Christmas story is really a simple story about the good news, somehow, we have complicated the story and the message that Christ came to give. Too often, we blame those outside the church or we criticize those who have not accepted Christ for not accepting the message when the problem comes down to the fact that we have complicated the message to the point that it fails to bring the joy and the answers to life that it was intended to bring. We, therefore, cannot blame them for our own failures and our ability to complicate the message.

So how do we simplify the message? How do we stop complicating the gospel?

The first thing we need to do is realize that Christ came to bring good news. In reading the Christmas story in Luke’s account of the Gospel, we find that the Angel proclaimed that Good News was coming to earth. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you:you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 2:10-12).

The second thing we need to do is to realize that the Good News is that Christ came to bring us eternal life. If we return to our text, we see the Good News is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to give us eternal life. Look at this with me. He, God, loved. He, God, gave. We believe. We receive. It is that simple.

We have complicated the message because although we say eternal life is freely received, we can intentionally or unintentionally set so many parameters and rules that must be met before we can receive the gift He has given, that it complicates the decision of the unsaved. One of the first parameters we set is that you must straighten up and fly right before you can accept this gift. Rather than coming to Christ with all of our failures and short comings we can lead people to believe that they must change or be at a certain place in their life to be accepted by Christ. The fact is, we come to him just as we are but we also come to Him with an understanding that He will not allow us to stay where we are. He will bring the change in us and through us that God must do. Look at who Jesus ministered to in the bible: the hungry, the prostitute who was used and abused, the leper who was rejected by the religious leaders and society, the tax man who was one that people wanted to have a relationship with, the lame, the cripple, the religious leaders, the fisherman who were simple minded men, and many more. He never asked them to change before He touched them or called them into service. He came to them in their fallen state and ministered to them right where they were in the moment. That should bless our heart and encourage us. It should spur us on to service in and to him.

Second, the good news is not about joining the church. In fact, it is not about what we would consider the church at all. Too often, we have complicated the message by inferring that salvation and church membership or at least church attendance are on equal terms with salvation. This is an inaccurate statement and belief. Salvation and church attendance are not the same. Salvation is not contingent on our attendance at church. You can attend church and never be saved. But, I will say that when you are genuinely saved, you will have a desire to be with God’s people.

Third, we can present salvation as the rite of being born into the right Christian family. The fact is we are not Christians by physical birth but only by way of spiritual birth. Once again we can receive eternal life and be a part of a pagan family or we can be a part of a Christian family and never come to fully understand eternal life. We come to Christ by accepting his gift and then we begin to follow his plan as noted in the word.

The third thing that we need to understand is that eternal life is less about a destination as it is about a relationship. We have looked at what the good news is not, now let us look at what it is. In our passage today, John states that the gift of God is eternal life but what does that mean to us? I have to be honest with you. This has been one of those theological areas that has baffled me in many ways. What is eternal life? We say the believer will have eternal life but doesn’t every one really experience some form of eternal life? There is a heaven and there is a hell. That is a fact.

So if everyone experiences some form of eternal life, then what does it mean when we say that we will have eternal life? To answer this question let us look at another passage. In John 17:1-3, John includes the following words of Christ in his writings. When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

If we understand this correctly, we see that eternal life is less about where we will live when we die but how how we live before we die. It is all about having a relationship with God the Father and God the son. Look at what Christ Himself says. This is eternal life…. that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you sent. Eternal life therefore is not a destination, it is a relationship. It is a relationship with the one and only God.

Finally, we need to understand that to receive eternal life we must not just believe in but we must also believe on Christ. How is this relationship established? To understand this let us return to John 3:16 for a moment. Here, Jesus says that whosoever believes in Him should have eternal life. It is interesting to note however that the Greek used here does not say “believe in” Him. The Greek uses a prepositional phrase that means to “believe on” or “believe toward.” It carries the idea of trust.

The fact is we can believe in many things. We can believe in Santa Claus. We can believe in the Easter Bunny. You see we can believe in something but never have a relationship with that something or that someone. We can believe those things exist but they may never have an impact on our lives. The idea that is given in the verbiage of the Greek is that to have eternal life we must believe on or believe toward Christ. The idea expressed here is the idea of trusting. Do we trust Him with our lives? Do we trust Him with our bank account? Do we trust Him with our relationships? Do we trust Him with our future? Do we trust Him with the unknown?

You see I can believe this stool will hold me but I must exercise a measure of faith and place my self on the chair to understand whether or not this stool will sustain my weight. I can believe in the stool but I must exercise my faith by believing on the stool and acting out my faith by sitting on the stool. I give this stool all of my weight, with a believe that it will hold me and will not fall a part under my weight.

That is what it means to believe in Christ. We begin a relationship with him through accepting him. We grow in the relationship by reading His word which is His letter to us. We also grow by finding people who love God with all of their heart and then hang out with them.

So today, if you do not know Christ begin this morning by realizing that finding Christ does not have to be complicated. Secondly, understand that receiving the Good News is about eternal life and eternal life is about having a relationship with Christ. It is believing on Christ and trusting Him to do what He said He would do.

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March 27, 2017 · 5:20 pm

Stewardship – Our View Of God Will Determine Our Stewardship

Peninsula Community Church

June 1,2014

Be Rich: Do More, Give More 

Our View of God Will Determine Our Stewardship 

Matthew 25:24-26 “He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours. ’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?

As I return to this message, I must say that this can be a just as hard of a series to preach and as it is to listen to because too often the very mention of the word stewardship can illicit emotions that are painful, are filled with mistrust, and bring a sense of rejection. Too often, we are presented sermons which seem to ram finances down our throats and too often the focus is on guilting people to give or to do rather than issuing a godly challenge of inspiration; but that is not the intended goal here. The goal is to present the truth of the gospel and then allow God to bring about the conviction and the change needed. I am also convinced that we need this message. I need this message. We all need this message. If we get this, our lives will forever be different. 

To be honest with you, as I was preparing this message I was reminded that we all have some areas in our lives that require realignment with God’s will, His word, and His purpose. How many have ever had a car that was out of alignment? When one’s car is out of alignment there is a tendency to veer to the right or the left. When driving the car, it takes a lot of work to maintain a straight path. But, when the car is aligned, the amount of labor required to keep the car on the right trajectory is reduced. So it is spiritually. When we are aligned with God’s will, His word, and His purpose for our life, we find an easier go of things.

Let me look at this another way. Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? I remember it clearly. In front of our house was a slight incline. My older cousin would take me to the top of the incline, place me on the bike and would walk behind me while she would hold onto the bike to steady it. She did this several times until I was able to gain my balance. At first, it seemed awkward and there was a fear of falling and hurting myself. After a period of time, I remember looking back and realized that she was not longer holding onto the bike. I was riding all by myself. And then I crashed. Eventually, I got the hang of it, and I could ride the bike without falling. In fact, it was not very long before I was able to pop wheelies, ride with no hands, jump off of a 5 foot cliff and more. Why? Because I developed my ability and I had a confidence in the principles of bike riding. When I followed the principles of bike riding, I could ride without fear of falling and if I did I picked myself and continued riding.

My point is this, stewardship can seem foreign to us, especially when it comes to our finances. But as we continue to give our lives, our finances, and our abilities to God; we will be amazed at what we will be able to do. When we learn the principles of stewardship, we will gain our spiritual balance and amazing things will happen. Remember, true Biblical stewardship recognizes that God’s resources are to be deployed through God’s people to accomplish God’s mission. All we have belongs to God and as we come to the place were we can release what we have and trust God with what we have, we will be blessed beyond measure because we will see the Kingdom of God expanded and Christ proclaimed in ways that could not be done otherwise.

Today, I want to focus our attention on the attitude of the servants who were given the talents. As we read this story we find that their attitude toward the master dictated how they invested what they had been given. Two of the servants doubled their investment while the one failed to do so because he was afraid of his master. The first two servants had a healthy view of their master while the third servant projected an unhealthy view of his master. Listen to the words of the servant. ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.’

Just as the servant’s attitude affected his investment, when we have a unhealthy view of God our actions are affected as well. The servant’s view of his master was that He was a hard task master. Because of his attitude, the fear he had of the master trumped his respect for the master. When we walk in fear, we tend to do things that we do not normally do. Charles Stanley had this to say about fear. First, fear stifles our thinking and our actions. It causes indecisiveness that results in stagnation which erodes confidence. Second, fear hinders us from becoming the people God wants us to be. When we are dominated by negative emotions, we cannot achieve the goals He has in mind for us. Third, fear can drive people to destructive habits. We often turn to artificial relief that creates even more issues rather than changing our emotions. Fourth, fear steals our peace. When we live in fear, our life becomes centered on pessimism and gloom. We can develop a negative outlook on life and on our talents and gifts. And lastly, fear creates doubt. God has given us great promises, but when we walk in fear, we will lack trust and we will doubt the words and the promises of God. This is deadly because it is the promises of God that bring freedom and victory for us.

The fact is our view of God effects our stewardship. And, for that matter our view of God effects everything we do. How do we steward our time? How do we steward what we have been given? How do we steward our friendships and relationships? How do we steward God’s creation? Our view of God matters.

The question to be considered here is whether or not we trust God or do we fear Him? Do you trust God that He will do what He says He will do? Or, are you bound by fear? Are you afraid of the giving of yourselves because you have tried before and failed. Have you tried to sing but felt embarrassed and self conscience? Maybe you tried to teach but felt you were not accepted and you felt rejected by those you taught. Have you tried to play an instrument, but were intimidated by others with greater talents? Not only do we exhibit a fear of people and success, but we can have an unhealthy fear of God. 

When we exhibit an unhealthy view of God, we will be focused on the here and now and not the future that is available to us. This focus should be on what we are investing in. Are we investing in eternal things or those things that will only rust and be destroyed? We don’t trust God because we don’t truly believe His word that is filled with promises of blessing when we honor God with what we have been given. We hold onto to things so tightly that we lose control anyway. 

Our view of God will determine if we are tippers or if we tithe. A Center on Philanthropy Panel Study found the average Christian household gives an average of 2.6% to the church which is far from the touted 10%. If that is the case, we are not even good tippers. The writer of Proverbs exhorts us to Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10). 

In Malachi we have this blessing outlined for us. “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return? ’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you? ’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

I am often asked about what to tithe on. Do I tithe on the gross or the net? My reply is how much of a blessing do you want? Do you want a net blessing or a gross blessing? 

So do you fear or do you trust? Your answer will speak volumes about your heart and about your view of God. 

 

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June 2, 2014 · 10:33 am

Body, Soul, and Spirit Part 1

Peninsula Community Church

Body, Soul and Spirit

January, 26, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This week I want to begin our “Body, Soul and Spirit” series. I have been praying about this study for some time and now feel that the time has come to begin. The question to be asked here, “Is why should we do a study such as this?” For me, I believe that as we study this together we will find that we will be better Christians, we will be more productive as agents of Christ in His ministry, and we will experience greater growth in Christ. I also believe that we can shed many of the unhealthy thoughts and false ideas about life and what it means to live a fulfilled Christian life.

The passage we just read will be our theme verse for this study. Throughout the study, we will supplement it with many other passages in the Bible. This particular passage is a part of Paul’s conclusion to I Thessalonians. This is a prayer prayed by Paul for those to whom he was writing. He prayed that their whole being which includes the spirit, soul, and body would be kept blameless to the coming of the Lord. His desire was for them to understand that this is an ongoing process of the recognition of what Christ has done in them and for them that results in their growth in purification and sanctification. It is also a message of hope that says that we must take action to be blameless but that God is doing the work of sanctification in them. It is a work that has already been achieved for them and continues to be achieved in them as they understand what He has done.

The basis of this study is founded in the fact that man is a creation of God. As a creation of God, man was created as a three-part being. This means that man is not just physical or spiritual but has at all times a physical, spiritual, and soul component. We find the story of creation in Genesis 2-3. Here, we find that man was created in God’s image. When we understand this concept of being created in His image, we understand that we are like Him as a three-part being. We are not three separate people but we are one person living with three components. These three parts make us who we are. They form our perceptions and our ideologies. These components also form and shape what others think of us. These components form the template through which the stimuli of life are processed. 

While other creatures may live, they do not have life. In Genesis 2:7 it is important to see that God breathed life into man. Moses stated Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. The result of God breathing into man is that he became a living creature. This is the one thing more than any other sets man apart from the rest of God’s creation. God breathed into man and he was given life. Mankind was created to have life, to be a ruler over the rest of creation, and to enjoy all that God had created. How awesome is that?

While this is true, as you know by reading the Bible, the intent of God was upset when man sinned through Adam. When man fell into disobedience, all of life changed. Something died in man that day. Prior to the fall of man, he did not know pain, he did not know shame, he did not know failure, and he did not know sin. A second result of man’s sin that day was that the order of man’s created person was upset. Instead of living from the spirit and living from the life that had been breathed into him, man began living in distortion, lies, and doubt. Instead of living out of the spirit, man now lives by being driven by the body and/or the soul rather than from the spirit that had been breathed within him. It was at this juncture that man became disoriented about who he was and about his purpose here on earth. This is why we see Adam and Eve hiding from God. This is why we see that Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness.

To understand God’s purpose in creating man and our role in life as a created being of God we must understand the role that our body, soul and spirit plays in determining how we live and what we we expect. When we have these in right alignment, we will experience life from a new perspective and a new vision of what is possible for us.

As noted we are a three-part being. God has created us as body, soul, and spirit. To understand these three parts, let me take a moment to explain what each of these parts represent. Please note that these definitions are simplistic, but we will look into each of these with more detail as we continue this study. 

The body is that part of us that is visible. We see the body. It is obvious to us. The body involves the five senses. This includes smell, touch, vision, hearing, and taste. The body allows us to experience life through the senses. The body also helps to identify who we are to others. 

Secondly, we have the soul. The soul is that part of man that involves the mind, the will, and the emotions. It is in the soul of man that the things he learns are processed. It is in the soul that God desires to bring change. The word soul can and is often exchanged for the word heart.

Finally, we have that part of man which is called the spirit. The spirit is that part of us that sets us apart from all other created beings. The spirit is that part of us that was breathed into by God himself. The spirit is that part of us that relates to God and begins to truly know God. It is for this reason that we can never be good enough to know God. We must accept God and Christ and his ways so that our spirit is aligned with God.

The problem we have is that when Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, man’s spirit died. It was darkened by sin. Christ came to restore life to man’s spirit. For that reason, it is only by God’s Spirit that our spirit is quickened. We are made alive again when God touches us and we become a new creation. Apart from the quickening of God’s spirit within us we are dead in our trespass and sin. For that reason, we can never be good enough to inherit the kingdom of God.

The following passage details this new life for us. Ephesians 2:1-7 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

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January 26, 2014 · 11:04 pm

Peninsula Community Church

October 13, 2013

Worship – From Formation to Transformation

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let’s review what we have learned so far. We have learned that what we value we will worship and what we worship will control us. We have learned that God desires that we live as living sacrifices which means that that all of life is worship and all worship is about life (Hayford). We have learned that we cannot and must not be duplicitous in regards to the sacred secular divide. We cannot put on and take off our spiritual worship as we would an old garment. Our worship and our Christianity must impact every aspect of lives. We have also talked about presenting ourselves as living sacrifices which is an ongoing process. It is an ongoing act of surrender.

Last week, we learned that to be living sacrifices we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This act must be a proactive one, as the renovation of the heart does not happen by osmosis. We learned that we must be in the word on daily basis. We must have more than a superficial study of God’s word. We must study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15). 

On this issue of osmosis, while it is critical that we are a part of the Sunday service and Sunday school time, it is also critical that we study the word on our own. We must take what is said on a Sunday morning and study it, digest it, question it in the sense of application to your life. Make notes on the message. Allow God to send you on the rabbit trails that could be God’s voice speaking into your life. You see, just because I understand the workings of electricity, does not make me an electrician. Just because I understand the dynamics of flight, does not make me a pilot. Just because I am sitting in a service, does not make me a Christian, nor does that action make me mature. It is the application of the understanding that I have that develops my maturity. 

In essence, what we are talking about here is the gaining of wisdom. Wisdom is the proper application of truth. We can have all the knowledge in the world but if we do properly apply the truth our knowledge is useless. The writer of Proverbs was fairly direct when he stated:

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways (Proverbs 2:1-15).

One of the illustrations used last week is that it would be foolish for our armed forces to wait until they are on the front lines of battle to prepare and train. The same applies to sports teams that are on the field of play every week. As you know, I love football. One of the things I have learned about football is that you cannot show up the day of the game without preparing yourself to face your opponent. You will most likely face defeat if you do that. 

Whether you are a soldier, a football player, or passionate follower of Christ, we must be in the game. We must prepare ourselves for every battle. We must prepare ourselves to live life as living sacrifices. We must have our head and our heart in the game. As we continue to walk through this verse, we can draw the conclusion that true worship requires a commitment of the head and the heart. It is the introduction of truth into the mind which finds its way into the heart that brings about a transformation of worldview and concepts about living life as a passionate follower of Christ. Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is simply this. It is the beliefs, experiences, and ideals that shape the decisions we make and it is the focus of our life.

I love what the late Dallas Willard stated in his book “The Renovation of the Heart.” He stated that the process of transformation carries the idea that we have been formed but change is needed. We need to be transformed because the current formation process is not working for us. 

We have been trying the same things. We have been doing the same things but nothing is happening. There is no significant change occurring in our lives. Clayton has line he always uses and it is applicable here…. “So how is that working out for you?” If things are not working out perhaps what you need is a transformation of the heart and not just the mind.

We are not a blank canvas. We all have things written on our hearts which has formed and shaped who we are. We have all been formed and shaped by our experiences, by our culture, by our education, and by the influences in our lives wether they be friend or foe. This formation of self effects our ideas, beliefs, feelings, habits, choices, bodily tendencies, and social relations. Some would call this our worldview as it is out of one’s worldview that one lives and acts. 

While we may not be able to control the issues of life, we can certainly control our responses. While I am not responsible for another’s actions, I am fully responsible for my actions and my responses to life. Our reactions to the issues of life will often reveal how we have been formed. Think about this is in this manner. Have you ever said something or acted in a way that reminded you of your parents and the way they responded to issues in life. I can remember a time that I was verbally correcting my son about a particular issue. In the middle of my verbal diatribe, I suddenly did that thing that we as kids say we will never do. I don’t even remember the phrase but I remember hearing my dad scolding me and now I was doing the same thing. I went from anger to laughing because of the statement I made. I am sure it was something like, “If you don’t stop crying, I will give you something to cry about.” Or, “This is going to hurt me more than it does you.” Whatever the comment, I broke into laughter because I couldn’t believe that I was my dad in that moment.

The idea here is that we all have been formed and shaped even when we don’t see the formation taking place. Let me illustrate this in this way. When you get angry what is the first reaction you have. Is it to curse? Is it to throw things? Is it to scream? Is it to clam up? How you respond is a result of how you have been formed and shaped. How you respond is a result of the conditioning of your heart, your emotions, and your will. If you have presented yourselves as living sacrifices and your heart has been transformed, then your actions and reactions will be different than a person who has not been transformed. As we are transformed, how we respond will be an act of worship and an act of living as living sacrifices.

How do we know we are being transformed? I turn your attention to Colossians 3:9-10. Listen to what Paul says here.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Again in Ephesians 4:19-24 Paul once again gives us insight into how we are being renewed. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

In these two passages we have three areas of our life that reveal how we are being renewed or transformed. First, are you being renewed in the knowledge of who God? Through the transformation process our knowledge of God, life and our worldview is being changed. We are being transformed into the original intent of God’s creation for us. Second, we know we are being renewed and transformed in the spirit of our mind when we begin to understand what true righteousness and holiness is. We understand this is not legalistic, but freedom. We understand that we are not holy by our actions but by the actions of God on our behalf. In this our understanding that we are being transformed and renewed to God’s original will and intent. The result is how we think and what we think is being changed.

How are we transformed? We know we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, but how do we do this? First, we study the word of God to understand God’s commands, His principles, and His ways that bring us success in the purest sense. Second, we need to recognize what God has done for us and is doing in us. Too often we fail to remember and respond to the mercies of God. Too often we are to achieve what has already been achieved on our behalf. Third, we must practice the presence of God. We must realize that God is with and that He wants to reveal Himself to us, in us, and through us. We must realize that God wants us to be transformed and that he is with us to help us achieve transformation. Fourth, we must live out the life of God in everything we do. It is for this reason that we cannot use the excuse, “that is just the way I am.” Why? Because we are we being changed and transformed. It may be true that is what you are but it does not mean that is how you should stay. God is in the business of transformation.

So how are you doing? Are you being transformed? How is your life different today than it was last year, or last week? How about yesterday? Today is the day for change. Today is the moment we can be restored to God’s purposes and His will.

 

 

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October 14, 2013 · 12:10 pm

Peninsula Community Church

August 25, 2013

James – Do Your Prayers Count Part 2

James 5:16-18 The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

We began looking at this passage last week but did not finish the study. In our discussion, we looked at what makes one righteous and where righteousness comes from. Today, we will look at the claim James makes that Elijah was a man just like us. From this, we understand that Elijah, the great spiritual giant of the Old Testament, was no more special than any of us when it comes to our prayers. 

Before we move to Elijah, let us rehearse a couple of thoughts from last week. Last week, we saw that true righteousness is a work of grace that comes by way of salvation through Christ’s work on the cross. We also discovered that righteousness is a response to the work of God in our lives and it is a response to God’s will and His ways. Righteousness is like a two-sided coin. The one side of the coin is the work of the cross and the righteousness that comes by way of accepting Christ as our Savior. On the other side of the coin is the action that is required on our part as we seek to live out righteousness in our lives by honoring God and aligning ourselves with the truth of God’s word. In other words, our outward actions are evidences of the inward work of righteousness already enacted on our behalf. We saw this evidenced in Romans 3:21. We will not reread this today, but this can be your homework.

When we understand that we are already righteous in Christ as a work of the cross, and that our righteousness is a walk of faith, then we will choose rightly when it comes to our actions and our lifestyle choices. It is interesting to note that we live in a time where situational ethics rule the day. We live in a time that society says you only have to be righteous if the situation allows it, but as passionate followers of Christ, we know that righteousness is consistent and is not measured by the moment. 

Society today says it is all right to lie; if it means getting a raise on the job, if it means getting ahead in life, or if it is not going to hurt someone’s feelings. Society says that it is all right to gossip; if it is true, if it doesn’t hurt anyone, or if I tell it in confidence. It is all right to betray a trust or stab a friend in the back; if it means I get ahead, if it advances me in some way, or if I get what I want. This is just the day and age we live in some would say. But as righteous followers of Christ we cannot and must fall into such unrighteousness acts.

We wonder why we don’t see more answered prayer. Could it be that our righteousness is based in a faulty system of belief? Yes, prayer is a matter of faith but our prayers can be hindered if we are walking in unrighteousness. If we are righteous through salvation and we act out that righteousness in the way we live, then our prayers will be effective and our prayers will bring about God’s will. 

The Bible is clear, however, that there are acts of unrighteousness that can prevent our prayers from being answered.

(1) When we ask for things that are outside God’s will, He is not obligated to answer (1 John 5:14). And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 

(2) When we ask from the motivation of pride and arrogance, God is not obligated to answer (James 4:3).You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 

(3) When we are living in unconfessed sin and in direct disobedience, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. Psalm 66:18-19 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer

(4) When we abuse or misuse our spouses, God may not answer your prayer (1Peter 3:7). Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

(5) A double minded man will not have his prayer answered (James 1:5-8). If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

(6) We show no diligence to assist God in the answer (1 Thessalonians 3:10). For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

 

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August 25, 2013 · 4:21 pm