A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

 

 

August 13, 2022                                   

Real-Deal Christianity

“LOVING”

 

John 13:34-35 (NIV)

 

This sermon is the second one, in a series of three, on Real-Deal Christianity.  We will look today at five reasons why we should love one another.

 

Two friends were discussing what it means to be in love.  One said, “I think I have been in love three times.”  His friend asked him to tell him about his three love experiences.

 

He said, “Five years ago I cared deeply for a woman.  I wanted to be around her all the time.  I could not go a day without seeing her, so I would spend every waking hour at her house.  But there was only one problem; she wanted nothing to do with me.  I think that was love, don’t you?”

 

No,”  his friend replied.  “That was not love, that was obsession.”

 

The man went on:  “Two years ago I deeply cared for a very attractive woman.  I liked the way she looked.  I liked the way she smelled.”

 

Every time I would see her I got goose bumps.  I am quite certain that was love.  Don’t you think that was love?”

 

No.”  the friend replied.  “That was not love, that was passion.”

 

Well then let me tell you what happened last year.”  The man went on, “I met a woman aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  She was smart, funny, and a great conversationalist.  We enjoyed being around each other and everywhere I followed her on the ship I would get this strange sensation in the pit of my stomach.  I’m sure that was love.  What do you think?”

 

No,”  the friend replied.  “That was not love . . . you were just sea sick!”

 

Last week, we began a new mini-sermon-series titled:  “Real-Deal Christianity.”  We saw from scripture, that to be a Real-Deal Christian we need to be serving.  Today, week are going to continue our series and look at the second indicator of a Real-Deal Christian . . . LOVING.

 

Our scripture text for this message comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 13.

 

John 13:34-35 (NIV)

34 A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

 

Now, let me give you . . .

 

FIVE REASONS TO LOVE ANOTHER:

 

1. Loving one another is an act of following CHRIST

 

Jesus said:

 

John 13:34-35 (MSG)

Let me give you a new command:  Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another.  This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples - when they see the love you have for each other. 

 

The standard of loving others is - THE WAY CHRIST LOVED US.

 

Jesus set the example for the way we are to love one another.  He led by example.  He said, “In the same way I loved you, you love one another.”  Highlight the words “same way.”  This is the standard by which we are to love one another.  Anything less than Jesus’ example falls short. 

How did he love others?  By giving himself to them!  He gave of his time.  He gave of his abilitiy and finally he gave his life for them.

 

I want you to notice something in our text.  Jesus did not give us a suggestion about loving others.  He didn’t give an opinion.  He didn’t say it might be a good idea if you love others.  Jesus gave us a commandment.  If we are followers of Jesus, we need to do what he has commanded us to do.  We are to:  “Love one another, in the same way Jesus loved us.”

 

2. Loving one another is evidence of a CHANGED LIFE.

 

Look at this verse from 1 John:

 

1 John 3:10 (NIV)

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are:  Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

 

A little girl had gone to Sunday School and the lesson that day was about how much God loves the whole world.  The teacher told the children that they should love the whole world, too.  The teacher went on to tell the children the best place to start loving other people was right in their own homes.  They should love the people in their own families.

On the way home from church, the girl got into an argument with her brother.  Her parents were not very pleased with the children for their behavior.  That night when the little girl was going to bed, she said this prayer:  “Dear God, I bet it’s very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world.  There are only four people in my family and I can’t do it.  Please help me!  AMEN.”

 

Loving one another is not easy, sometimes.  In fact, sometimes it is hard to love others.  But, it is what Jesus has called us to do!

 

Did you know that God never tells us to forgive and forget?  He tells us to forgive! 

In fact I wish that there were things I could forget - but I can’t.  The times someone has wronged me; the times someone has hurt me; the times that someone has let me down.  I still remember some of those times.  But, do you know what I can do?  I can forgive that person and I can treat them as if it had never happened.  That’s what love is about. 

 

In 1 Corinthians 13 it says:  “Love keeps no records of wrongs.”

 

Love is treating others as if the wrongs you suffered had never happened.  Love is hard sometimes - but as Christians, love is to become our second nature . . . because it is to be our new nature.

 

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  Were you able to just get on the bike the first time you saw it and ride it?  Probably not.  It no doubt took work and effort.  There were times when you fell over.  Some of us used training wheels, and we still fell over many times!  But with effort and practice, eventually you were able to ride a bike.  You could jump on the bike and just ride away.  It became as natural as walking.  If you’ve learned the skill of riding a bike, you have probably never lost that skill!

 

Help me,” is a good prayer.  Help me to love people, because that is to be my new nature.  It takes practice to love.  But, once we learn it, we need to practice it until it becomes second nature.

 

Just as natural as it is for a seagull soaring through a crystal blue sky . . . Christians ought to love one another.  Just as natural as a salmon swimming up Root River . . . Christians are to love one another.

 

Just as natural as human beings riding a bike . . . Christians are to love one another.  Folks, if you’re a Christian prove it!  Love one another.  Learn it.  Practice it.  Make loving others a natural act.  It is what followers of Jesus do!

 

3. Loving one another is allowing God TO WORK THROUGH ME.

 

1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

Love is more than a characteristic of God . . . it is God’s character.  When you love others, you allow God to love through you!

 

Do you remember the name, Ashley Smith?  You may not remember the name but I’m sure many of you will remember her story.  It was March 11th, 2005, that Ashley Smith was held hostage in her apartment in Georgia.  Brian Nichols had shot four people in a Georgia courtroom and he was on the run from the law.  At 2 a.m., Brian Nichols took Ashley Smith hostage.

 

Ashley was a Christian and during the night she took out her Bible and started sharing the gospel.  Brian responded by saying, “Look at me.  You’re looking into the eyes of a murderer.  There’s nothing more that God can do with a person like me.”

 

But Ashley was persistent.  In addition to the Bible, she read from Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Life.  She read a chapter about serving one another in love.  She said, “Just because you’re going to prison doesn’t mean that God is through with you.  God wants you to come back to Christ and to serve other prisoners who don’t know the Lord.”

 

By showing this man genuine Christian love, Brian Nichols was miraculously changed from a beast to a brother in Christ.

 

Loving one another doesn’t mean that we have to love the things that people do.  But, it does mean that we are to love people.  The only way we can do that is to allow God to work through us . . . because, “God is love.”

 

4. Loving one another shows that God is working IN ME.

 

1 John 4:12 (NIV)

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 

I believe that people want to see God.  But, do you know what?  they can’t!

 

John says, “No one has ever seen God.”  But do you know what they can see?  People can see God’s love for them by how much you love them.  In fact, the Bible says that if we love one another, “God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  Knowing that God abides in us should give us the courage to LOVE.

 

A reporter was talking to a circus trapeze performer about the net below him and what it did for him.  The performer said, “Obviously, it keeps me safe.  But, let me tell you what that net really does for me.  It makes me a better performer.”  The reporter asked, “What do you mean, it makes you a better performer?”  The trapeze artist responded, “It’s very simple.  Because the net is there, I feel secure.  And because I feel secure, I’m willing to risk more.  I’m willing to try an extra turn, an extra twist.  I’m willing to try a trick that I wouldn’t normally try at all - but that security releases me to reach my full potential.”

 

The scripture says plainly, If you love one another - God abides in you.  Shouldn’t that give us a sense of security and help us to reach our full potential?  God is in us.  God is working in you.  Trust him to love people through you.

 

5. Loving one another is what Christians DO.

 

If you love Christ, you should love people.  Why?  Because that is what Christ does.  Christ loves people.  If I am a follower of Christ - I should love people too.  Look at 1 John 3:16 . . .

 

1 John 3:16 (NIV)

This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Highlight the word “ought.”  In the Greek, this word actually means to “owe.”  It means we are in debt.  It means we have something to pay.  In other words, Christ laid down his life for us.  He showed us his love by his sacrifice for us.  And because of that act of love - we owe him our lives.  When you accept Christ as your savior, you accept that he died on your behalf.  You accept the sacrifice that he made for you.  Because of that gift to you -  you ought to lay down your life for others.  How do we give Jesus our life?  By giving our lives for other Christians . . . by LOVING them.

 

Christians we need to act like Christ!  That is what it means to be a Christian.  He gave His life for people.  We should too - because that’s what we do.  He laid down his life for us . . . we should lay down our life for one another.

 

We show our faith in Christ by the love we give one another.

 

In fact, the Bible says that the whole world is watching how you love one another.  Look, again, at John 13:35 . . .

 

John 13:35 (NLT)

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

 

Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Love me” . . . as proof of being a Christian.  He said, “Love one another, and the world will see that you belong to me.”  In order to be a Real-Deal Christian, we need to love one another

 

Commit today to loving one another, as Jesus Christ has loved you!

 

August 6, 2022                      

Real-Deal Christianity

“SERVING”

 

Matthew 20:26-28 (NKJV)

 

This is the first message in a 3 part sermon series that examines what a “real-deal Christian” looks like.  Today we will look at 5 reasons to serve one-another and 5 characteristics of a great servant.

 

I read a story, near the 4th of July, that took place in the time of the Revolutionary War - our war for independence.  A man dressed in civilian clothes was riding past some soldiers who were repairing a defensive barrier.  Several soldiers were working while another was shouting orders at the men.  The men who were working looked exhausted.  The rider stopped his horse and asked the man who had been shouting the orders, “Why aren’t you helping these men?”  The man who had been shouting the orders replied, with great pride, “Sir, I am a corporal and I don’t do the work of a private.”

 

The traveler apologized, dismounted his horse, and proceeded to help the exhausted men work on the barrier. 

 

When the job was done, he returned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, I have learned that I should never ask a man to do a job that I was not willing to do myself no matter what my rank.”   With that, the man mounted his horse and rode off.  Who was that mysterious traveler?  George Washington.  He was, at that time, the commander-in-chief of that Army!

 

Now, I don’t know if that story is historically true - but it does make a point.  Serving others is important, no matter your position in life.

 

Let’s look today at Matthew chapter 20 . . .

 

Matthew 20:26-28 (NKJV)

“Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave - just as the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

 

Jesus has called us for a purpose.  He has called us to serve one another.  In fact, Jesus tells us - if we want to be great . . . we must become a servant.

 

5 REASONS WE SHOULD SERVE ONE ANOTHER:

 

1. Because we were created to SERVE.

 

The Bible says that the reason that we’re saved . . . is for good works: 

 

 

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

See that?!  “Created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”  This is a message for all Christians.  We who are in Christ Jesus are here so we can do “good works.”  If you are a Christian, you were created for service!

 

 

2. Serving is evidence that I belong to CHRIST.

 

The Bible says that as Christians, “We should bear fruit unto God.”  (Romans 7:4)  In fact the Bible also says . . .

 

John 15:8 (NIV)

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 

God says that one way you know that you’re a part of the body of Christ is that you serve others.  Serving is the proof.  A Christian who does not serve others is a contradiction in terms . . . IT CANNOT BE!

 

 

3. Serving others is the way to SERVE GOD.

 

No matter what you’re doing you need to ask the question:  “Why am I doing this?”  An even better question is:  “Who am I doing this for?”  Are you doing it for the Lord?  As a Christian, everything you do - is to be done to the glory of the Lord!  The Bible says:

 

Colossians 3:23 NLV)

Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart.  Do it for the Lord and not for men.

 

Everything we do is to be done as if it is done for God.  When we serve others we should picture that we are serving Jesus. He said . . .

 

Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

 

As I said earlier, you will be known by the spiritual fruit that blooms forth from your life.  Humble, willing service to others is the same thing as service to God.

 

 

4. Serving is the best use of my TIME.

 

Question:  What is it that each one of us have the same of . . . but we each have a different amount?  What is it?  T-I-M-E!

 

We each have 24 hours in each day . . . Yet, each of us have a different life span.

 

1 Corinthians 15:58 (MSG)

Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

 

If you pick up a piece of trash in the parking lot on your way into worship, because you say, “Someone walking in who needs to know Jesus might be turned off by this” . . . that’s not worthless!  It’s of value!  If you open a door for someone, and you do it in the name of Jesus, it’s not a waste of time!

 

The Bible says, whatever you do, if it is done to the glory of God, it all counts!  It’s not so much what you do, it’s a question of who are you doing it for.  Are you doing it for God’s glory?  What is your attitude in what you are doing?

 

Time is something that all of us have.  What makes a great servant different is the way they use their time.  Are you using it to serve others or are you using it to serve yourself?

 

 

5. Serving gives my life PURPOSE.

 

In serving others, we find out who we really are. 

 

Mark 8:35 (MSG)

Self-help is no help at all.  Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self.

I don’t pity people who are up to their neck in service.  I happen to know that those people have found value in their lives.  In fact, they are the people who are most alive.  If you’re not serving, you’re not living; you’re just existing. 

 

Service makes life meaningful!

 

Now, let’s look at . . .

 

FIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GREAT SERVANT:

 

1. A great servant is HUMBLE.

 

What is humility?  Humility is not thinking less of yourself . . . it is thinking of yourself less.  Humility is when you’re so focused on serving other people that you don’t even think about yourself.  The Bible says:

 

1 Peter 5:5 (NKJV)

Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

 

 

2. A great servant is COMPASSIONATE.

 

Sympathy is when you say, “I’m sorry you are hurt.”  Empathy is when you say, “I hurt with you.”  But, compassion is when you say, “I’ll do anything I can to stop your hurt.” 

 

Jesus is our example of compassion . . .

 

Matthew 14:14 (NLT)

Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

 

 

3. A great servant is FAITHFUL.

 

A servant obeys God, not out of convenience, but conviction.  God requires us to be faithful.

 

1 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

 

John Wesley had as his motto, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”

 

 

4. A great servant focuses on HELPING OTHERS.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

 

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, died in 2002.  He once appeared on the cover of the Wendy’s annual report, dressed in a knee-length work apron holding a mop and a plastic bucket.  Here’s how he described that picture . . . “I got my M.B.A. long before my G.E.D.  A Wendy’s M.B.A. does not mean Master of Business Administration . . . it means Mop Bucket Attitude.”  Dave Thomas got his M.B.A. from following the model of the Master.

 

 

5. A great servant is not SELF-CENTERED.

 

A servant puts God and others before himself.  Jesus gave up everything to come to earth to save us.  The Bible says . . .

 

Philippians 2:7

Jesus gave up everything and became a slave when he became like one of us.

 

Many people aren’t willing to give up anything - but our Savior was willing to give up everything for us.

 

An elderly man in a hospital kept calling out for his son.  He asked the nurse several times during the day, “Has my son arrived yet?”  The older man told her that the son had called and he had said he was on his way.  As the day wore on, there was no sign of the son. 

 

When the nurse saw the tired, anxious looking young man in the hall near the older man’s room, she grabbed him and rushed him to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she whispered to the patient. 

 

She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.  He was heavily sedated because of the pain he was going through.  He dimly saw the young man standing there.  He reached out his hand and the young man tightly wrapped his fingers around it, squeezing a message of encouragement.  The nurse brought a chair and set it next to the bedside.  All through the night the young man sat holding the old man’s hand, and offering gentle words of hope.  The dying man said nothing as he held tightly to his son.

 

As dawn arrived, the patient died.  The young man placed the lifeless hand he had been holding all night on the bed.  Then he went to notify the nurse.  While the nurse did what was necessary, the young man waited.  When she had finished her task, the nurse began to say words of sympathy to the young man.  But he interrupted her. “Who was that man?”  He asked.  The confused nurse replied, “I thought he was your father.”  “No, he was not my father,” he answered.  “I never saw him before in my life.  When I came in yesterday after work, I had been visiting a sick friend down the hall.”   “Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?” asked the nurse.  He replied, “When you rushed me in there I knew that the gentleman needed his son and his son just wasn’t here.  When I realized he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, I knew just how much he needed me . . .”

 

A Great Servant is not Self-Centered.  A Great Servant is concerned about helping others - no matter the cost. 

 

You can be a REAL-DEAL Christian . . . by being a Great Servant for Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2022                                                 

“DON’T WORRY . . . BE HOLY”

(Part 2)

 

1 Peter 1:13-23 (NIV)

 

We talked last week how God’s Word (the Bible) calls for us, over-and-over again, TO BE HOLY as God is holy.  In fact, God loves us so much, and wants so much for us to be holy, that his Holy Spirit works diligently to convict us (make us feel miserable) about any / all sin in our lives!

 

Paul’s writings warns Christians, many times, not to be deceived / fooled into thinking that sinning is OK in the life of a Christian.  Jesus died in order to save us from our sins AND to free us from sin!

 

However, there is a real battle (a spiritual battle) that is going on.  God the Holy Spirit is battling for our holiness, and Satan, the enemy of our soul, is battling to keep us from being holy.

 

What does it mean “To Be Holy?  Imitating Jesus . . .

 

Ephesians 5:1–2 (NIV)

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

To be holy is to be Christ-like . . . and we only get one life / one shot to live for God.

 

I was forever impacted, as a newly married 22 year old, when I got the phone call that one of my dear friends that I grew up with and attended the same college with had been killed in a car accident.  The funeral service for 25 year old Edie was, on many levels, painful.  By any human measure - her life ended far too soon.  When she got into the car that afternoon she had no idea that in just a few moments she was going to be transported from all the hopes and dreams of this life - which is here today and gone tomorrow - and into the presence of her Lord and Savior.  She had one shot at a life lived for God.  And she hit the mark!  She did well.  She finished strongly.  Her life produced much spiritual fruit.  She pursued holiness . . . and people took note that she had been with Jesus!

 

There is a song entitled, Holiness.  The opening verse and chorus go like this:  “Holiness, holiness is what I long for.  Holiness is what I need.  Holiness, holiness is what You want from me.  So take my heart and form it.  Take my mind and transform it.  Take my will and conform it - to Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord.”

 

And I like that song because it gets to the heart of holiness!

 

Holiness consists in surrendering the things of myself, submitting my will, and hungering after God and seeking the things of his kingdom.  Holiness means granting the Holy Spirit free reign to transform my heart, to change the way I view the world in which I live, to bring my desires into conformity with the desires of God himself.  Holiness is allowing the Holy Spirit of God to live in me, to direct me, guide me, to fill me, transform me and renew me in the image of Jesus Christ!

 

In the pages of Scripture we are called to be filled with the Spirit of God on a daily basis.  When Paul writes, “be filled with the Spirit,”  the Greek is clear that it’s not a one-time filling . . . but a continuous, on-going, life-long, filling with the Spirit of God.  Can we ever have too much of the Holy Spirit in our lives?  NO.  And, we will never have more of the Holy Spirit than on the day of our salvation. That is the day when God sends his Spirit to live within us.  So we will never have more of the Spirit then on that day!  The question is NOT - Do you have all of the Holy Spirit?  The question is - Does the Holy Spirit have all of you?  All of your mind, all of your heart, all of your will?  At the end of every day, there ought to be less of you and more of Jesus shining through you!

 

We’re always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up.  When I was a kid, there were days when I wanted to grow up to be a Cowboy.  Other days, I wanted to be a Garbage Man.  Some days, I wanted to be an Astronaut.  And still other days, I wanted to be a Barber!  (That’s all true.) 

 

As a child, YOU had your own dreams of what you wanted to be when you grew up.  And, maybe you became that.  Maybe you didn’t.  Perhaps your dream changed somewhere along the way.  I know that mine did.

 

What if we were to ask a child what his or her dream was?  If the child’s response was:  “My dream is to be holy”  . . . we’d  be completely blown away, right?!  I think we’d be humbled, also, because we would see that that child was dreaming bigger than we ever did. 

 

And you know what else?  The dreams of that child would produce an amazing life of righteousness in that person as they pursued holiness - not for holiness’s sake, but for the sake of the Lord their God.

 

The dreams of such a child should be the dreams of our own hearts!  We begin our faith journey as spiritual babies . . . infants in the righteous things of God.  Because of that dream and desire for holiness, as a child of faith, we will grow and become a mature man or woman in God’s grace.  And, we will be holy as God is holy.

 

THAT holiness is what we ought to be seeking daily.  In the book of Hebrews we read this:

 

Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy;

without holiness no one will see the Lord.

 

You want to see God in this life and in the next life?  It won’t happen without holiness!

 

If we’re not seeking holiness, if we’re not desiring the things of God and approaching him full of faith, and with our conscience cleansed by the blood of Christ; if we’re not coming to him in light of Christ’s sacrificial death for our sin; then we’re not really coming to him at all.  We’re just playing at our faith, we’re playing at church.  We’re going through the motions . . . but the LIFE OF CHRIST is not in us.

 

In his first letter to the Christians at Thessalonica, Paul writes this:

 

1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7-8 (NIV)

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified (holy)


7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

 

When we knowingly choose sin over the holiness that God is calling us to, we are rejecting God himself.  And, we are rejecting the death of Jesus who gave his life so that we might have eternal life with God.

 

We are called to be holy - as God is holy.  We are called to be set apart; living as strangers here in this world . . . with reverent fear.  Many people in the Church today have lost their fear of God.  There is no trembling before him, there is no awe of his being, there is no fear of his judgment, there is no love of his holiness.  And so, we go our own way and do our own thing and call ourselves by Christ’s name.  To our shame, we both tolerate and celebrate in sin, and the world cries out, “Those Christians are no different than me - why should I want what they say they have?  Why do I need their Jesus?”

 

Many people today live like those Paul wrote about in his letter to Titus . . .

 

Titus 1:16 (NIV)

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.  They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

 

Don’t let that be true of you!  Holiness is God’s desire for you and me.  But there is a battle being waged for your heart, and mine! 

 

As much as God desires holiness for you, as much as we ought to be desiring holiness for ourselves, our humanity (our flesh) fights against it.  Therefore, as it says in the second chapter of Philippians . . .

 

Philippians 2:12b -13 (NIV)

12b . . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

 

In his letter to Timothy, Paul says it this way . . .

 

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV)

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

 

To be holy, means to be cleansed.  And there are two parts to that.  First, you need the cleansing that comes through salvation.  Our lives are covered in sin; our very nature rebels against God from the day we are born.  We are sinners through and through.  Maybe we’re not as bad as we could be, all the time.  Maybe we’re even living good, moral, upstanding lives - from the world’s point of view.  But, our very natures do not desire the things of God . . . so, the Scripture says that we live as enemies of God.

 

Even the best of us is living as an enemy of God, day in and day out, because our sin has separated us from the Lord our God.  God himself is holy, and that which is sinful cannot dwell in his presence.  If that sin is not atoned for - and no man or woman can ever atone for their own sin - then you have no part with God.  Without holiness no one will see the Lord.

 

That’s why, in Peter’s words in our text today, he says of our redemption through Christ . . .

 

1 Peter 1:18–19 (NIV)

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 

 

To be “redeemed” means to be “bought back”, or purchased at a price.”  In just a few minutes, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.

 

In doing so, we will share the bread and the cup with one another.   In Communion, we’re remembering, celebrating, giving thanks for, and proclaiming that when Jesus, who was without sin, died on the Cross, he was doing so that we who are covered in sin, would have our sin atoned for  . . . that we might no longer live as enemies of God . . . but be reconciled to him . . . that we might be redeemed.

 

OK.  So, to be holy, we first must experience the forgiveness / the cleansing of our sin through the atonement of Christ Jesus.  For as the Bible says . . .

 

Leviticus 22:32c (NLT)

I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

 

Apart from the grace of God we cannot know holiness at all.

 

But there is a second part to our holiness that the first makes possible.  That is the practical working out of our salvation in fear and trembling as we seek to be holy as the Lord is holy.  Paul wrote to Timothy telling him that if a person cleanses himself from the sinful things / the things not in accordance with God’s Word and will and heart - then he or she becomes useful to God, made holy, and prepared to do many good works.  This cleansing is made possible by the blood of Christ . . . AND it is lived out in fear and trembling and love, as we humble ourselves before the Lord, and seek his ways.

 

To Timothy, Paul puts it this way . . .

 

2 Timothy 2:22 (NIV)

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

 

Peter, in our passage today, talked about having, “purified yourselves by obeying the truth.” 

He’s speaking of putting to death the sinful things that we fill our lives with.  He’s speaking about walking in humble obedience to God’s revealed will, that is, the truth we find in the pages of God’s Word.

 

He’s calling us, in those places where our lives are out of line with God’s testimony, not to reshape God in our image to so that we live however we want, but to bend our knees, bow our head, surrender our will and be renewed by the transforming of both mind & heart, so that we may be holy as God is holy.

 

There’s a song that comes to mind, that would be an appropriate prayer for those who seek the holiness that we are called to.  Its title is, Give Us Clean Hands.”  It goes like this:

 

We bow our hearts, we bend our knees.

Oh Spirit come make us humble. 

We turn our eyes from evil things,

Oh Lord we cast down our idols.

So give us clean hands, and give us pure hearts.

Let us not lift our souls to another. 

Oh give us clean hands, and give us pure hearts,

Let us not lift our souls to another. 

Oh God let us be a generation that seeks,

Who seeks your face, oh God of Jacob. 

We bow our hearts, we bend our knees

Oh Spirit come make us humble.

We turn our eyes from evil things,

Oh Lord we cast down our idols.

 

It may be that the Holy Spirit of God is speaking into your heart today . . . speaking to you about the fact that you need to do some eternal business with God.  The Spirit is saying that it’s you, not your spouse, not your neighbor, not your friend, not the person sitting next to you - but it’s YOU, who has to bow the heart, bend the knee, humble the soul, flee from evil, and turn from sin.  That it’s you who needs to be holy as the Lord is holy.  If that’s the case, then let these next moments be moments of brokenness for you before our Holy God.  Do whatever it takes, but get right with HIM.  Confess, repent, reconcile with your neighbor . . . seek the things of God.   Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and the healing of your soul.

 

We’re going to have a few minutes of prayer now, so that we can cry out to God together.  God has called us to be holy.  Remember at what cost that holiness is made possible.  Don’t turn away from holiness . . . but come to God with gratitude and humbleness, desiring clean hands and a clean heart that your life may be not just pleasing to God - but useful as well.

 

July 9, 2022                                 

“DON’T WORRY . . . BE HOLY”

(Part 1)

 

1 Peter 1:13-23 (NIV)

 

In 1988, Bobby McFerrin wrong & sang a funny little song, called, “Don’t Worry, be Happy.”  I once used that song in a sermon; only I changed the words to Don’t worry . . . be holy!  That’s the title of this two part sermon - “Don’t Worry . . . Be Holy.”  

 

Someone once said, God makes us miserable through conviction in order to make us happy through confession.”   

 

I think there is truth in those words - for when we come to a conviction of sin in our lives it does lay heavy on our hearts.  It fills our thoughts and wears away at us.  In Psalm 51:3-4, King David wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”  He couldn’t escape an awareness of his sin any more than we can.  David may have been able to hide his sin from others for a while, but in his inner heart he knew that what he had done was wrong in God’s eyes.  And, because of that, he had no sense of inner peace.  He writes, “When I kept silent, [that is, when “I did not confess my sins,”] my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night [the hand of God] was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”

 

Sin eats away at us.  It leads to feelings of shame and failure and frustration and despair. 

 

Sin hinders our communion with God.  It leads to powerlessness in prayer, and threatens our fellowship with other believers.  When sin lies heavy on our hearts, peace runs away from us and turmoil runs rampant within us!

 

NEWS FLASH:  It’s far better to feel miserable under conviction than to live unaffected by our sins.  WHY?  Because, if our sins don’t bother us - if they don’t strike a chord of regret within us, or an awareness that through our sins we have grieved a Holy God - then we have quenched the Holy Spirit of God that lives within us . . . we have silenced our conscience.  A lot of people live that way today!  We’ve hardened ourselves to those things which are pleasing to God and we revel in those things which are offensive to God.  And for the most part we don’t think of it as any big deal.  We think of our own sin as small but the sin of others as being much bigger.

 

Question:  Which is the bigger sin - lying, adultery, stealing, murder, or gossip (talking in a judgmental way about others)?  The truth is that in our hearts we DO tend to rank sins, because we see some sins as being worse than others. 

 

And, in a way, it’s true.  Murder seems infinitely worse than gossip.  But, that’s a very human perspective on sin!  That is just seeing sin in the context of our relationships with other people. 

 

What we should be doing, is seeking to see sin through the holiness of God!  When we only see the human dimension of sin, we fail to see the complete depravity of sin.  And, we begin tolerating sin in our lives - because, in that light it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal after all. 

 

But listen to what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:

 

1 Corinthians 6:9a (NASB)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?

 

That’s Paul’s nice way of saying, “Not everyone is going to heaven.”  What that really means, is that some people are going to find themselves in Hell.  They will face the terrible outpouring of God’s wrath, and judgement on the day when all sin is finally accounted for.  On that day we will not be able to stand before God in our sin.  Our own actions will condemn us.  How much better for us to be miserable now, under conviction of sin for a time, that we might have an awareness of sin, and a heart to turn from it, and to seek God, and to know his spiritual healing forgiveness NOW!

 

Without that conviction of sin we will continue in our guilt, often blind to it the whole time! 

 

And while we protest our innocence now - while we deny the sin we live with is really something to be put to death and turned away from - in that day every excuse that we use to justify our sin will be revealed to be empty and hollow and useless . . . as every motive of our hearts is shown, before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  In the end, we will not be able to protest our innocence - for every tongue will be stilled - and we will realize that God is just and right in his judgment. 

 

And so Paul writes to the Corinthian church and says to them . . .

 

1 Corinthians 6:9b-10 (NASB)

Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Don’t be deceived / don’t be fooled.”  Don’t be fooled by what?  By the deceitfulness of sin; by believing that you can continue to practice sexual immorality, or gossip, or greed or whatever sin it is, and be right with God and be welcomed into the kingdom of Heaven. 

 

God did not save you, so that you could continue in sin.  He saved you to deliver you from the bondage of sin.

 

Open your Bibles with me to the book of 1 Peter, chapter 1, beginning in verse 13.  Peter has been speaking of the salvation proclaimed through the prophets long ago and provided in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And what Pete is writing about is our response to that salvation.

 

When a man or a woman truly meets with God, and does business with God in the brokenness of sin and darkness of life, they are transformed.  They are changed. 

In the book of Acts we read how the people of their day noted that something was different about the first disciples.  In many cases they were unschooled, ordinary people.  However, in light of the hope that they proclaimed, and the stand that they took, and the lives that they lived - Scripture says that the people around them were “astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

 

When you’ve been with Jesus, you’re no longer the same!  When you spend time in his presence, you’re changed . . . and it shows in your life.  So, I want to ask you today:  Are you spending time with Jesus and does it show in your life?  It ought to be showing! 

 

We do no greater harm to the faith, no higher injustice to our God, than when we act like a Pharisee in worshipping God with our lips, yet in our hearts living far from him.  That’s called hypocrisy - and when people see it in our lives it turns them off  and away from God. 

 

Living one way on Saturday night, and living another way the rest of the week - that’s a recipe for spiritual disaster and bankruptcy; a hollow Christian witness; and a powerless faith.

 

There is a battle happening in our homes, in our schools, in our communities and in the very places where we work.  It’s happening in our relationships and in our churches.  But most of all, it is a battle that is happening in our hearts.  And, not only is it a battle that’s happening in your heart . . . it’s a battle that’s happening for your heart!  Christians are becoming casualties in great numbers.  Losing the battle results in emptiness, prayerlessness, spiritual fruitlessness, hopelessness, powerlessness, and ineffectiveness in our Christian witness and service.  What is the battle for?  It is a battle for holiness!

 

So, in light of the salvation offered to us by God, let’s hear what Peter has written, beginning in verse 13 of 1 Peter, chapter one.

 

1 Peter 1:13-23 (NIV)


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