Archive for December, 2011

Here is the message in a nutshell.  Enough notes to prompt your memory.  Please feel free to add comments or questions.

 

Text: 2 Corinthians 5.16-21

Topic: Change

Title: 3 Elements of Change

This time of year is dominated by people’s sincere desire to change.  How many times have you heard the word resolution or resolutions?  It is only the first day of the year!  Perhaps some of you even are carrying with you a piece of paper that has a small list of things you wish to do differently this coming year.

Whether we like to admit it or not change is necessary not just as part of January 1st but in life in general.  When we look at where we came before we knew Christ to where we are now many of us can see a marked change or at least we should.  So today we are going I am going to ask that you look with me at Three Elements of Change.

Transition: The first element of change we are going to look at this morning is a Change in perspective.

  1. A Change In Perspective  (vs. 16-17)

Perspective truly is everything.  One of the things that comes with a relationship to Christ or should come with a relationship to Christ is a change in perspective.  This change truly is two-fold.

  1. Your view of others.
    1. Believers in Christ- Joint-heirs with Christ and you! (John 1)
    2. The unsaved world- People in need of a Savior.
    3. Your view of Christ.
      1. Someone you focus on daily or just Sunday relationship.
      2. Just close enough to get saved or close enough to have a changed life?!?

Transition #2: The first element of change was a change in perspective.  Now when perspective changes so does everything else.  So when this perspective changes, we also find a change in purpose and that is our second element we are going to look at today.  Elements #2 is a change in purpose.  Let’s read together verse 18-19.

  1. A Change In Purpose (vs. 18-19)

Purpose is a huge part of our lives though isn’t it?  We all desire it.  We all want a reason to get out of bed.  We all want something to live for that is bigger than ourselves.  In fact this past week I started listing out things not for this year but things that I wish to accomplish in life.  Sometimes purpose is bigger than you.  It is something that has been done for you.  All you have to do is find it and fulfill.  Easy to say huh?

  1. You may have noticed in these two verse that the word that is mentioned often comes from the root word reconcile.  In verse 18 we see reconciled, reconciliation and in verse 19 reconciliation.
  2. The word reconciled is more of a market term.  Suppose you have something I desire.  You value it at twenty dollars.  I give you twenty.  Guess what, we are both satisfied.  You have money and I have this new product.
  3. Or I go up to you and say, excuse me but do you have change for a ten.  You then pull out 1 five and 5 ones.  We are reconciled.
  4. Romans 6.23 says that the wages of sin is death.  Meaning- as a result of sin, God requires death.
  5. You were reconciled to God when Jesus paid the price God demanded!
  6. Where does reconciliation come from?  NOT ME!
  7. We find a two-fold process of biblical reconciliation

i.     You have been reconciled to God –not counting trespasses

ii.     You have been called to a ministry of reconciliation.

  1. Share the message of reconciliation that you have received!
  2. Share how God gave you a purpose!
  3. Share how Jesus paid what you could not!
  4. Make the message of reconciliation that God gave you’re your purpose!

Transition #3: Element #1 was a change in perspective.  Element #2 was a change in purpose.  Now if your perspective changes and so does your purpose then your actions are going to accompany it.  You are going to change what you do.  Therefore, the third element of change we are going to talk about is a change in profession.

  1. A Change In Profession (vs. 20-21)
    1. When ones perspective changes and their purpose changes, then their actions will often times fall into alignment.  Your profession is not just what you do, it is who you are.
    2. Unfortunately, when we talk about profession our culture does not seem to get it.  Work stinks!  Hard work is even worse.  People value making a quick buck with the least amount of work.
    3. We have inserted this thinking into our view of our Christian work ethic.
    4. Read with me again the following verses (20-21)
    5. What is your new profession supposed to be?  AMBASSADORS!
    6. AMBASSADOR- An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization.
    7. An Elder (Greek)- respected, shown worthy of the title.
    8. Chosen by the president.

These three changes are not things that I am suggesting you should become this morning.  These three changes are things that Christ has already set in motion for you.  He has given you all you need to do to have a change in perspective (you might just need to learn to see things biblically), He has given you all you need to have a change in purpose (you might just need to learn to get closer to Christ so you can hear Him tell you your purpose) and He has provided you with an opportunity to be an ambassador for the throne of the God of the universe.  You just need to accept the job.

Herein lies the issue though.  God establishes and then lets you do the job.  Are you doing the job?

You get the benefits without doing the work otherwise.  Are you abusing the system?  The system that God put in place to benefit you and to benefit all of humanity?  He wants your help because He sincerely wants a relationship with you and the rest of the world.

 

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This morning I did some reading on Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth.  I walked away from this narrative doing a lot of contemplation on an oft overlooked character in the story: Joseph.

What a confusing role this guy played in the whole story.  While I am not going to do an in depth explanation of Joe’s role in Scripture I am going to share what I was challenged with after reading Matthew 2.  It is this: Obedience is not contingent upon understanding.  Joseph had more than one dream where an angel appeared to him and he acted in obedience every time.  Consider the midnight dream telling Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt in the middle of the night.  Joseph did not consult his bank account, read the papers, check the weather or ask friends what to do.  In fact he did not even wait for morning to come.  He simply grabbed his belongings and family and left.  You can’t tell me he fully understood all the facts but you can tell me he fully obeyed.

I struggle with acting when I do not understand and I know I am not alone in this.  I research things I do not understand.  I have hundreds of books and spend hours researching and reading every week.  Yet sometimes God just wants me to listen and do what He is calling me to do.  I fear that to often I strive for understanding when God just wants me to strive for obedience.

So I shall say it again…Obedience is not contingent upon understanding.

Here are some thoughts that I would like to share.  They are written by Andy Stanley in his book “The Grace of God” and are found in his first chapter.

“In American culture, we’ve substituted the term mistake for the terms wrong and sin.  We aren’t sinners; we are really just mistakers.  How many times have we heard prominent leaders describe their extramarital affairs as mistakes?  A mistake is something you make while balancing your checkbook.  A mistake is an accident.  Unless both parties were blindfolded and gagged, I don’t think it’s possible to have an accidental affair.  And, of course, once discovered, public apologies are made to family members and constituents who were hurt by what happened.  But if you do something you know is going to hurt someone, is that still a mistake?  The people who were hurt rarely think so.  But in a world that’s far from the way God intended it to be, sin is reduced to a mistake.”

Evangelical Christians appear to almost posses a fear when it comes to the word religion.  They use phrases when referencing their faith such as, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”  The phrase sounds great to most of us who speak Christianese but must be terribly annoying to those we proclaim that to.  Because to them we are a religion.

So here are two things to think on as you answer my pot stirring question:  1. That phrase I mentioned above is not in the Bible.  2.  James 1.26-27 is.  It says this, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

I am sure I will catch some flack from someone for this post.  I would encourage you to think about it and give your input.  Is it just a religion? Is is just a relationship? Is it both? Is it something else?

MY KIDS

I am the proud father of three beautiful children.  Kaitlyn is 7, Matthew is 5, and my youngest just turned three.  It is hard to describe the depth of love I have for these three kids.  I don’t think I could adequately describe it on paper.  Anything that I could say, would fall short.  They are part of me.  They affect my every decision.  My wife and I have sacrificed much for our kids:  time, money, sleep, and at times sanity.

My wife has a full time job.  She stays at home with our kids and invests into them every day.  She and I choose to have less so that our kids can have more.  It isn’t as though she is unqualified to pursue work outside the home.  It is quite the opposite.  Jen has a professional degree from a good college.  She is a very gifted person who could quite easily thrive in the work force.  Yet together we have chosen to invest more into our children and less in our bank account.

We have put alot of time, investments, prayer, sweat and tears into our kids.  Why?  They are our kids.  Don’t mess with my kids unless you want me to mess with you.  I am protective and have no problem letting you know if I do not appreciate the way you talk to them or deal with them.

GOD’S KIDS

The apostle John writes in John 1.12a “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God.”

Paul writes in Romans 12.10a “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.”

If you are a believer in Christ and don’t like God’s kids then guess what: you aren’t as spiritual as you think you are.  I have to believe that God does not appreciate people raking His kids over coals.  He does not appreciate malicious backbiting when it involves His children.  He does not appreciate lack of respect when it comes to His kids.

You see, if you don’t like my kids, you aren’t as close to me as you think.  If you come over to my house and insult my kids, degrade my kids and treat them poorly you will quickly find yourself uninvited from my property.  I will not allow you or anyone else to turn my children’s home into a place of fear.  I will defend and protect them at all cost.

So here is the simple truth: if you want a right relationship with God, you better learn how to love His kids.  You can’t hate my kids and have a good relationship with me.  What makes you think that you can do that to God’s kids?