God Wants To Renew You!
God will work with you to Renew You!
That was the thrust of the sermon I preached two weeks ago - Summer - A Time for Renewal - part 1. If you go to soundfaith.com and type my last name in the search box you will be able to read the complete sermon. The thrust of the sermon was two fold.
It was based on the following passage from the Book of Titus
1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
The main point was to assure you that God always and in always wants your absolute best. Regardless of the twisted paths your life may take, God is there with you working in you to help you in your becoming fully human .
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
And this is where we start today. We want to have the rubber hit road on our renewal. We want some practical ways to facilitate our Renewal.
This is Good News! There has been a lie going around for centuries. It is a lie perpetuated by those who keeping choosing the wrong way to live and want to justify their lifestyles. It is a lie that so many of us have accepted as the truth. Here it is - No one can live the Christian lifestyle. It’s to hard and it’s too restrictive. You simply can’t live God’s way. Friends that is a lie that we hear over and over again and we have allowed it to become part of our thinking.
It’s like the story of Adam and Eve and the snake.
The story goes something like this. God was talking with Adam and he explained that he had made everything on the earth for humans to enjoy. God said, “The only thing I don’t want you to touch is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because that will only mess you up. So don’t touch or eat it because I want you to have the best of things that I have provided for you.” Then God created Eve.
Enter the snake talking to Eve. “Hey Eve, how’s it goin’? Listen, I can’t believe that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden. Bummer, eh! There is a lot of great food on the trees.” Eve said, “Hold on, he only said we couldn’t eat from one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
(now I get the picture of the snake smiling to itself saying, “Got ya”)
“Come on Eve, God knows that’s the best eating tree. Do you really think God wants to cramp your style? Go ahead you’ll like.”
The snake was saying choose your own way and you will experience more life than God wanted you to experience - the good and the evil.
Friends, that’s the lie. Don’t do what God says and you will experience both sides of life - good and evil and you will like. And you know what it’s easier than obeying God.
Get married - have an affair who does it hurt.
Sleep around that’s what sex if for.
Get all you can, whenever you can, however you can from whoevr you can.
Help the poor as long as you have lots of money.
Feed the hungry, but just with your leftovers.
Be kind and compassionate as long as it doesn’t disturb your comfort.
Be charitable, but remember charity starts at home.
Friends, that’s the lie -that it’s easier to blend the good and evil than just experience the good God wants for you.
It’s a lie because when you turn to the evil, it’s a slippery slope and if you try to blendthem you end up slidding down the slope.
But here is the beauty of God’s offer to us - Living the Christian life is not as difficult as you think.
This is practical step #1 - Living the Christian life is not as difficult as you think. Step is getting that into your thinking - Living the Christian Life is not as difficult as you think.
have everyone say it outloud
It’s the first step because how we think drives how we feel which drives how we act - it’s a circle.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling - Hey you are part of growing in Christ!
Many people think that when we believe in Jesus, God is just going to make us live right and if he doesn’t then it’s his problem not ours. We have all heard the verse that says,
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
We think when we say, “OK I believe that God magically makes us perfect and when it doesn’t happen we think God is unreal because we don’t live totally differently immediately.
This verse can be hard to translate into English - If we translate the passage the way it should be translate it would say, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is becoming a new creature; the old things are passing away; behold the new are in the process of becoming.
When we say we believe in Jesus it is like starting a new journey, or heading in a new direction. It is a beginning, a beginning in which God says we have a part to play. We are involved in the process of our changing. It’s like we have been living life by ourselves, then we invite God to live with us and help us, but we always have the freedom of choice. So we need to choose Life - everyday, and every second of the day and seek God to be in every moment of the day with us. This is our part of the working out of our salvation.
All of us have spiritual ADHD. We cram our lives doing so many things, filled with so many commitments, that we allow God to be pushed to the sidelines and treated like a spectator instead of a participant with us or simply forgotten. If we take seriously the previous step then we need to consciously develop an awareness of God’s presence with us throughout the day. There are a number of ways we can do this. Two that might be easier than others are practising the presence of God and a technique called, “The Game of Minutes” developed by Frank Laubach who found his life so busy that he was not taking seriously God’s presence in his everyday life.
Practising the presence of God is simply talking with God in all that you do during the day. An easy example is first thing in the morning. In the morning when I awaken I say good morning to Jesus, to Deborah and our cat, in that order. When I go for my morning walk, I talk with Jesus about the day and I pray for people. When I begin a meal I give Jesus thanks. When I am looking over my schedule for the day, I talk with him about it as if I were in a business team meeting. When I get into my car to go to a meeting, I ask for safety and guidance at the meeting. I ccould go on, but I think you are getting the idea. I include him in all my thoughts and actions. There is a little book that I have mentioned before called, Practising the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I suggest that you read it. If you go to soundfaith.com this sermon will be posted there with links to a digital and audio copy of the book. You can download the audio onto a flashdrive and listen to it on your car radio. It will take only an hour.
Practise the presence of God
Digital copy: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/lawrence/practice.html
The Game of Minutes devised by Frank Laubach is trying to have you bring to mind God for one second every minute. It is fun keeping score for an hour. You could try it as a family. You don’t have to be sitting together, you just have to start at the same time and at the end of the hour see who thought of God the most times. I have added a link to Frank Laubach’s explanation of how to do the Game of Minutes in my sermon at soundfaith.com https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4zdlyHaKZcmTkhIVEtReEdRV3M
One thing you may want to do is get a picture of Jesus or something like a big rock that you place where you spend a lot of your time and each time you see it think of God being with you.
We need strong relationships with other growing Christians. Note I said growing Christians. There are many people who say they believe in Jesus, but are not growning in Jesus. You need other Christian sisters and brothers who will hold you accoundtable for your growth. You might want to meet “one on one” or in a small group. And it is more than just a Bible Study group. You can call it an accountability group or a nurture group or my favourite is a L.I.F.E. group - Living In Faith Everyday group. The important thing is that you hold each other accountable. You should be studying the Bible, remember last week we called it the book of Fundamentals, because you have to learn the fundamentals before you can really live creatively. When you get together “one on one” or in a group, the first question you ask each other is. How did you grow in your faith last week? And the last question is how will you use one idea from our Bible Study to help you grow in faith this week? This the is the basis of the first question the next week.
4 Practical steps
Think - God and I together can do it. It’s not difficult
Remember - you are part of the process. God is with you, but you need to be involved in your renewal. You take the step and God works with you to make it happen
Focus on God. Bring him into every aspect of your life.
Invite others to help you grow.
Four easy steps - think, remember, focus, invite - four easy steps to start you down the road to becoming the person you are meant to be.
Let’s take a couple of minutes in prayer to ask God to continue to work in you so that you can live life fully and completely, the way you were meant to live. As we pray a song will be playing. If you can’t find the words you need to pray, silently say or sing along with the words on the screen.
let us pray
- Multimedia: End of message play video – Renew My Life O Lord