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Faithlife

2017: Opportunity to Grow in Holiness

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It's 2017…
It's surprisingly how stalks you all year and can still catch you by surprise.
Last night story
Gun shooting outside
Sounded like a civil war
I never went to look. Initially out of fear then out of embarrassment as I looked at the clock and saw it was midnight.
So… How was last year?
Good?
Difficult?
Did you make good use of it; waste it?
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2016 is over.
Is there anything you wish you could do over?
Do you look back and wish there was an option to “redo” or “play again”?
I haven’t found a “play again” button - an option allowing you to go back and redo things.
Time is a one way street and the only way to proceed is to grow and develop; to press on to the next level. You need to grow; to press on.
If you aren’t growing you’ll die.
I am not a person given to thinking a lot about the past.
#1 I literally can’t remember what happened so it’s pretty hard to think about a blank memory #2 it’s not really my nature. I tend to think about improving the future or just being happy and zen in the moment.
But… God commands Israel on numerous occasions to remember things.
Don’t forget the forty years in the wilderness
Remember Egypt; the Red Sea.
Keep the Passover feast so everyone remembers.
So… I think it's good to reflect (to remember).
But I’m not sure that it happens as much as it should.
We run around doing this and planning that;
gotta keep the ball rolling,
time is money,
so much to do...
and even when we do stop to study God’s Word we want it fast; a shot of espresso and we’re good.
I realize many of you fellows are in an early morning Bible Study and I think that is fabulous. Maybe I’m the wrong person to be saying this but felt the Spirit leading pretty strongly, indicating this is what He wants to happen this morning. So try to see past me.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
There is a holiness that if we don’t have we will not see the Lord.
This is serious business. If you don’t have this holiness you won’t get to heaven even though… (did we not… ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (you live as if I gave you no law)
(ESV)
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Goal: this morning is to make a space to allow each of us to reflect on the past year; ask God to show us where we should focus our energy in 2017 so that we can grow in holiness.
To hear what God would like to point out to us if we would sit still and listen.
Clarify: I’ll discuss this a bit later but I’m not diminishing salvation by faith. It’s just that we need to recon with this verse also.
Also… This is not New Year’s resolutions. The attitude here is “Lord you are the potter, I am the clay - I’m yielding myself to be shaped by you this year. I want to work with you so where are we starting”
If this verse Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. This is a difference of life or death.
So I had to ask myself, “What do I want to happen?” “What is the point of this gathering?”
To allow God to direct in our hearts and minds so that we can learn from last years mistakes and press on to know the Lord; to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
And what does a teacher say when something is important…?
“Don’t forget this… Write it in your notes”
And so I have paper and pencils for you. I’m not expecting you to be scribbling notes of what I have to say. My only point is for you to write down what comes to your mind as you reflect on the last year.
My emphasis is primarily to encourage those of you who are professing Christians but I would encourage everyone to reflect on their year and consider how they measure up.
Even the children. Maybe you start to see that you are not very considerate or thankful for all that your mother does for you. Maybe start a good habit of thanking your mother for her hard work preparing food that ten minutes later is gone.
Isn’t it amazing that they work so hard to make food for us and even if we don’t say thankyou mothers will turn around and make us another meal. Mothers must love us a lot!
Marlin Eby encouraging us to thank our mothers story.
Why: See… When I sat down to do this I Immediately had three items that very specifically stood out to me and I am confident they are the things that Christ looks at and says “I died for this?”
Yet a few minutes later when I stepped outside to take a walk… I couldn’t remember a single one.
That's not effective listening or learning...
Clarify: Now if you think this just won’t work for you, I’m not going to force anyone to write… but do think
Also, I might throw this out there. Not everyone is as comfortable letting everyone see this. I think it is good to be open but remember just being open isn’t being good. So be respectful of each other's feelings.
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23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!c
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
God is there anything I am doing that is grieving you?
23 How many are my iniquities and my sins?
Make me know my transgression and my sin.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
Similar idea to For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
Be sure you are working with God
40 Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the LORD!
57 The LORD is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!
A Basic Definition of Holiness
To be holy is the opposite of being “common” or “profane.” God is holy in that He is utterly different and distinct from His creation. His people must also be distinct, separate from the heathen attitudes and actions which characterized them as unbelievers.
would conveys this idea of “separateness:”
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
I’ll give at least 5-10 minutes, if that isn’t long enough; you can always finish at home. I’m going to allow the Spirit to direct your mind without a lot of prompting from me. I may give a few prompts to keep you thinking and I’d like for you to feel free to do the same.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. ()
Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)
Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. (5:5)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (5:6)
Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. (5:7)
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. (5:8)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. (5:9)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10)
Maybe too sensitive???
Consider who has been working up to this point you or God
Consider maybe you have done a good job at pulling sheep skin on but inside you are still the same unruly monster of a wolf
Do you desire to be holy but at times stumble
Or, do you desire the passions of your flesh but know you can’t?
(ESV)
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Remember this isn’t hanging entirely on you. God’s the potter. We are giving ourselves as living sacrifices while Christ is being formed in us.
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18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.
The righteous don’t always start out with their light burning bright as full day but it starts as the light of dawn but inevitably they get brighter and brighter until it is full day.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
More than a New Year’s Resolutions
News Years Resolution Statistics
Data
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year's Resolutions
45 %
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year's Resolutions
17 %
Percent of Americans who absolutely never make New Year's Resolutions
38 %
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution
8 %
Percent who have infrequent success
49 %
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year
24 %
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions
Type of Resolutions (Percent above 100% because of multiple resolutions)
Data
Self Improvement or education related resolutions
47 %
Weight related resolutions
38 %
Money related resolutions
34 %
Relationship related resolutions
31 %
Age Success Rates
Data
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year
39 %
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year
14 %
Length of Resolutions
Data
Resolution maintained through first week
75 %
Past two weeks
71 %
Past one month
64 %
Past six months
46 %
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
If your salvation is dependant on this I wouldn’t want to be swinging on the possibility of being in that 8%
15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
20But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
So that is the foundation - Be in Christ
A believer
Regenerated - new creature
Be crucified, buried, and raised to a new life.
To put off your old self, 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.
To be created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
That is the foundation. Only now can you go on to the next part.
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24. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
12 So then, brothers,e we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sonsf of God.
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But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body????
8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
When you plant seeds to the flesh you will reap a harvest of corruption, but if you plant seeds of the Spirit you will reap eternal life.
Feed the one the other doesn't produce a harvest, presumably it's dead or next to it.
Paul is saying with the Spirit kill the deeds of the flesh.
If you keep feeding the Spirit the flesh will shrivel up.
But if you reverse that, things get out of control, fast.
Ed Welch published a book titled Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave. () I have not read the book but it looks good from what I have seen. Here is a quote that I liked in particular.
There is a mean streak to authentic self-control. . . . Self-control is not for the timid. When we want to grow in it, not only do we nurture an exuberance for Jesus Christ, we also demand of ourselves a hatred for sin. . . . The only possible attitude toward out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war.”
“There is something about war that sharpens the senses. . . . You hear a twig snap or the rustling of leaves and you are in attack mode. Someone coughs and you are ready to pull the trigger. Even after days of little or no sleep, war keeps us vigilant.”
Make war on every sinful desire. Bring it into subjection by feeding your spirit and starving the desires of the flesh.
Here are a few quick ideas of what that might look like.
1. The Bible — The Word of God is perhaps God’s primary means of changing us.
Jesus prayed “Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth” ().
It’s the water by which we’re washed,
the weapon with which we fight
the milk by which we grow (see ; ; ; ).
2. Prayer — We often complain that we lack time to pray.
But everyone has twenty-four hours each day. People who pray more don’t have twenty-five-hour days.
Our problem is that we decide other things are more important.
But when we realize that God is the great change agent in our lives, prayer will inevitably move up the priority list.
3. Community — One of the reasons God has put us in Christian communities is to help us change. The church is to be a community of change.
We remind one another of the truth.
We pray together for God’s help.
We model Christian change and holiness for one another.
We see God at work in the lives of others.
We remind one another of God’s greatness and goodness as we worship him together.
We are given opportunities for service.
4. Worship — When we worship God, we’re reminding ourselves that God is bigger and better than anything sin offers.
Worship isn’t just an affirmation that God is good.
It’s an affirmation that God is better.
We remind our hearts of God’s goodness, majesty, love, grace, holiness, and power. This isn’t just an intellectual recall. God has given us music to touch our emotions. We sing the truth so that it moves, inspires, stirs, encourages, and so transforms us.
5. Service — We often think of service as the fruit or sign of change. But it’s also a means of grace that God uses to change us.
Sin is fundamentally an orientation toward self.
Many of us suffer from self-absorption.
We’re preoccupied with our problems and successes.
We bring every conversation around to our favorite subject: me.
Serving God and other people can help redirect us outward, taking our attention away from ourselves.
It can be a great prescription for people suffering from negative emotions.
I hope that this mornings meditations could inspire you to press on; to fight the fight of faith. To pursue holiness in a new way in 2017.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
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