Faithlife
Faithlife

closing the gap

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what is the gap?

the difference between where we are and where God intends for us to be. the gap.
Luke 15:17 NIV
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
in the parable of the prodigal son, the son is having a moment..a moment of seeing where he is at and....he realizes the gap. In my Fathers house there is much food, but i am starving! what a difference!
listen to how another writer puts it.
Themelios: Volume 27, No. 1, Autumn 2001 The Younger Son Restored—The Future of Evangelicalism

First: The younger son experienced a crisis of self-identity that led to a radical change (17). In a moment of self-revelation the son came to himself, which means that for the first time since he had left his father’s house, he began to examine himself critically for the decisions he had made and the way he had been living. Out of a cycle of suffering and reversal of fortunes he was constrained to conduct this inner review, resulting in the major turning-point of his life.

that explains it. sometimes it takes a lot for a person to stop blaming others and to take an inward look and see where they are, especially in their heart. this is scary for most people, so they choose to ignore their inner reality and they place all of their attention on things or other people. It distracts themselves enough so they don’t look at their own issues.
Luke 15:17 ESV
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
this coming to oneself means......
literally ‘to come to one’s senses’, represents a Semitic or old Jewish phrase ‘to repent’ do you find that interesting? I certainly do.
anyone ever heard the term “know thyself”
‘Know thyself’ was the summation of Socratic wisdom in the ancient world, but only the word of God in the gospel of his Son can penetrate the barricades of pride and self-deception that all of us erect against the truth about ourselves. The gospel is good news only after having delivered us the bad news about ourselves as the ones who have erred, rebelled and persisted in a style of life away from our only God and King. Confronting ourselves honestly in the full light of God’s justice and truth in the law and in Jesus is the first step back to spiritual health and moral recovery. Milne, D. J. W. (2001). The Father with two Sons: A Modern Reading of Luke 15. Themelios, 27(1), 18.
you know, sometimes we don’t know just how good we have something until we lose it. and this is that moment for the younger son. He is in a mess......and he remembers just how good it was at home....how much better it was than what he is in now.
think of what was brought back to his memory. security, love, wellbeing, all the things he doesn’t have now.
This moment, he saw where he was and just how far the gap was.
It is when we see where we’re at is when we actually realize where we need to go and what direction we need to go in.
question for you.....
Do you know where you are?
how close or how far you are? how big the gap is?
Life is a series of little steps.
We may find ourselves in places that we would have never taken the one step to get there but maybe we were willing to take many little steps and it got us here.
Do we see the gap now?
If we know where were are, we now need to know 2 things.
where does God want us, positionally?
now, I am not talking about a maturity level that we are not at yet...... I am not speaking of a place that we cannot be at yet,
I am speaking of a place that we can be, right now, right here. it is a place, like a mindset. what mind frame does He want you to have right now? where does He want your thoughts and heart right now?
and what we need to know 2nd, what direction do we need to go to get there.
God wants you and I in a place with the heart and mind of Jesus. Close to the Father.
What does that look like?
listening to a Francis Chan sermon the other day, he gave this illustration.
imagine the day you are in the presence of the Lord. You are face to face with the Lord.....
and you had just gotten done praying to Him because you lived a life of prayer......you might say to the Lord, hey! I was just talking with You! and You are here!!!
But what about the other story..... you hadn’t prayed in weeks. You are face to face with Him.
Hi, Lord, sorry, I have been so busy.....
we are talking about closeness, right? either we are close to the Lord, or we aren’t. and we are managers of our responsibility in our relationship with the Lord. He is there. are we?
He came all the way from heaven to earth to get close to us. because we couldn’t get to heaven.
See, the work Jesus did here? the cross? it did it. He showed us in the cross. He showed us closeness. He came so close your sin got on Him. all of it.
He identified with you so you could identify with Him. you could take on His identity.
this is key everybody. listen to this.
we may have been a bad person in the past, we were sinful, but Jesus changed our identity!
He changed us from who we used to be to a person that has sin dealt with because of the cross.
we are people that have been given complete forgiveness, true unconditional love, and if we believe this.....I say if because there may be someone in here that doesn’t believe that right now..... but when we do believe it, it changes our identity.
our identity means so much because it affects what we do and how we think about ourselves in the world. this is of major importance.
Scripture is clear that a believer has a new life, is a new creation.
what does that mean?
God has given us the very life of Christ. the very life of Jesus.
what that means is we look at our life and see the life of Jesus. we no longer look at our life since our life died on the cross.
Paul explains it with an interesting analogy about marriage in Romans 7. He speaks about how when there is a death, there is a release of the law.....so in other words, if you and I are believers, and there has been a death, it has changed what we are connected with. He finishes it like this.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

it is key for us to see our new position in Christ. this is a brand new identity.
this is a new way of thinking about ourselves. who we think we are is really important. Christ has done the work to change our identity. but if we don’t recognize it, we could walk around like a beggar when our bank account is full. how crazy would that be?
what is your identity? in Christ you are perfect and righteous. you don’t feel that way? you don’t look that way? so, you choose to not think that way. this is a problem.
it is a problem because God looks at you as He looks at His perfect Son. If He looks at you that way, then why aren’t you seeing the same thing?
We, as Christians need to get the same perspective as God does, not as satan does. Satan accuses you day and night about your sins. hoping you will stay in the attitude of hopelessness, incapable, discouraged as you look at your sins.
But that is not why Christ came to earth, is it! for you to be in a war and to lose? No, He came to seek and save. He came to bring the truth of God. He came to set the captives free. you and I were captive. Christians have been set free. So to know you are free, and to live free, we must change. change how we see ourselves. we are no longer slaves to sin and death, but alive in a newness in grace. God has forgiven every sin, so why are you still looking at it?
if you are looking at your sin and making that your identity, stop. that is not your identity.. your sin was placed on Christ at the cross so it would be dealt with. Was the cross enough? enough to change your identity?
So, to close the gap, you first must know your identity.
second,
to deal with the sin that troubles us so much with our identity, we must live our lives confessing. confessing it to God. continual confession. get really used to confessing to God.
the younger son had the moment of identity crisis until he realized he was a son. He had a father. and a good father at that. the son came back to his identity and then realized he needed to confess.
Luke 15:18 ESV
18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
what is he doing right here? confession.
why do we confess? because we have done something. something wrong. something against another. he had turned from his father and left the family and gone his own way. Now, realizing he wanted to go back, he knew what he had to do. he had to confess.
do we do things wrong?
listen to this story.....
"When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long" (Psa. 32:3). There is nothing that so takes the joy out of life like unconfessed sin on the conscience. I once heard the late Dr. F.E. Marsh tell that on one occasion he was preaching on this question and urging upon his hearers the importance of confession of sin and wherever possible of restitution for wrong done to others. At the close a young man, a member of the church, came up to him with a troubled countenance. "Pastor," he explained, "you have put me in a sad fix. I have wronged another and I am ashamed to confess it or to try to put it right. You see, I am a boat builder and the man I work for is an infidel. I have talked to him often about his need of Christ and urged him to come and hear you preach, but he scoffs and ridicules it all. Now, I have been guilty of something that, if I should acknowledge it to him, will ruin my testimony forever." He then went on to say that sometime ago he started to build a boat for himself in his own yard. In this work copper nails are used because they do not rust in the water. These nails are quite expensive and the young man had been carrying home quantities of them to use on the job. He knew it was stealing, but he tried to salve his conscience be telling himself that the master had so many he would never miss them and besides he was not being paid all that he thought he deserved. But this sermon had brought him to face the fact that he was just a common thief, for whose dishonest actions there was no excuse. "But," said he, "I cannot go to my boss and tell him what I have done or offer to pay for those I have used and return the rest. If I do he will think I am just a hypocrite. And yet those copper nails are digging into my conscience and I know I shall never have peace until I put this matter right." For weeks the struggle went on. Then one night he came to Dr. Marsh and exclaimed, "Pastor, I've settled for the copper nails and my conscience is relieved at last." "What happened when you confessed to your employer what you had done?" asked the pastor. "Oh," he answered, "he looked queerly at me, then exclaimed, 'George, I always did think you were just a hypocrite, but now I begin to feel there's something in this Christianity after all. Any religion that would make a dishonest workman come back and confess that he had been stealing copper nails and offer to settle for them, must be worth having.'" Dr. Marsh asked if he might use the story, and was granted permission. Sometime afterwards, he told it in another city. The next day a lady came up and said, "Doctor, I have had 'copper nails' on my conscience too." "Why, surely, you are not a boat builder!" "No, but I am a book-lover and I have stolen a number of books from a friend of mine who gets far more than I could ever afford. I decided last night I must get rid of the 'copper nails,' so I took them all back to her today and confessed my sin. I can't tell you how relieved I am. She forgave me, and God has forgiven me. I am so thankful the 'copper nails' are not digging into my conscience any more."
he had told this story many times and almost invariably people have come to him afterwards telling of "copper nails" in one form or another that they had to get rid of. On one occasion, he told it at a High School chapel service. The next day the principal saw him and said, "As a result of that 'copper nails' story, ever so many stolen fountain pens and other things have been returned to their rightful owners."
do we have any copper nails? anything to deal with?
you know, meeting with most of the congregation, I have heard a similar theme of Christians wanting to grow in their walks with the Lord.
growing in faith is a good thing. it is change. and change is good when we are changing in the right direction. Amen?
closing,
I am here to help. I have a passion to see you become what God wants you to be. that means change, right?
well, part of our process is knowing our identity, really knowing who we are in Christ, and fighting the lies, casting down what the enemy tries to whisper in our ear. We need to listen to the truth about who we are.
and then to walk this life in a humble, confessional state. it is an irresistible attitude. all people love to be around a humble, Godly person. I have heard such great testimonies of people, when living this way, God blesses them, He promotes them, He gives them favor. Why? because they are living in the presence of God.... knowing who they are and allowing God to convict them and agreeing and confessing. it leads them to repentance or turning back to His direction. it is beautiful. It really is the way a Christian is called to walk.
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