The Best Year of Your Life Pt. 1 – The One Thing
Every year in January, people make new choices which they call New Year’s resolutions. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is we usually make them about trivial issues, not the most important things in life
According to USA.gov the top ten resolutions that Americans make every New Year’s Day are the following:
Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions
1. Lose Weight
2. Manage Debt/Save Money
3. Get Physically Fit
4. Eat Healthy
5. Learn Something New
6. Drink Less Alcohol
7. Quit Smoking
8. Reduce Stress
9. Take A Trip Somewhere
10. Volunteer To Help Others
As you can see One is the top New Year’s Resolutions each year is to lose weight. Anyone one here have that as a resolution?
A woman walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, ”He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.” So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, ”That’s not going to help.” Her husband said, ”Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”
Those are all very good resolutions. The problem is 4-out-of-5 people who make them will break them. One-third of people who make resolutions won’t get past the end of January before they break them. That is why I believe what we need is not a New Year’s resolution, but what we need is a New Year’s revolution.
TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose
RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something
For many people The date changes, but the destination hasn’t. We are still stuck in the same place. A psychology professor at Florida State University did a study of this. He came up basically two reasons why people fail to keep New Year’s resolutions.
Fact – 93% of New Years Goals go unfulfilled. In fact, 30% are broken within the first week.
Text: Philippians 3:12-14 NIV – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
What Paul is admitting is he has not arrived. He doesn’t have it all together. Though he has done a lot there is still more to do. Though he has been to a lot of places there are still more places to go. Though he has reached a lot of his potential he has not reached all of his potential. I don’t care how old you are. As long as you are drawing a breath on this earth there are always more lessons to learn. There are always more principles to apply. There is always more room to grow. Paul gives us three simple steps that you can use at the beginning of every season, at the beginning of every month, at the beginning of every week and at the beginning of every day to make that year, that month, that week and that day the most productive day for you and the most pleasing day to God you possibly can.
•Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.
I. Forget What Is Behind You
Like my friend Mark Edge said, I have decided to leave my past behind me…so if I owe you money, I’m sorry, I’ve moved on.
I want you to know that memory is precious to me.
‒ Old pictures are a thrill to look at.
‒ Childhood memories – home movies
‒ I do not want you to think I am encouraging us to lose our good memory.
“I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in doing so pollute a potentially wonderful day.”
Philippians 3:13 NIV – 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.
•The first thing you need to do as you enter into a new season is put the old one behind you.
•You can’t focus on where you are going until you forget where you’ve been.
•Paul is usually using sports language. Specifically, he is talking about a race. He talks about straining forward, pressing on, going toward a goal, and reaching for a prize. Those are all racing terms.
•You cannot sail the ship of your life into the seas of the future with joy and peace if your anchor is stuck in the mud of the past. You can’t run forward if you are always looking backward.
•Don’t misunderstand what that word ”forget” means. It doesn’t mean ”to fail to remember.’’ There is no way you can ever totally erase the past from your memory. The word ‘’forget” literally means ”to not be influenced or affected by.’’
•••“From Peanuts – Linus said, ‘Maybe we should think only about today.’ Charlie Brown disagreed. ‘No, that’s giving up. I’m still hoping yesterday will get better.”
“Your past is always going to be the way it was. Stop trying to change it.”
Often you can see the residue – All kinds of disappointment, discouragement, offenses, strife, despair, rejection, failures, successes, pain, etc..
Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.”
You can’t go where you’re meant to go, carrying the things of your past! Get ready for where God wants to take you! Take off the old mind set! The Horse is dead: DISMOUNT!
To many people are focused on what hasn’t happened. yesterday is not tomorrow! Your future is not determined by your past!
Two little boys got into a fight. But the next morning Johnny took his cap and headed for Bobby’s house again. Surprised, an older member of the family said teasingly, “What! Going to play with him again? I thought you had a fight last night and was never going to have anything more to do with him. Funny memory you have.” Johnny looked a little sheepish, dug his toe into the carpet for a moment, then flashed a satisfied smile as he hurried away. “Oh! Bobby and me’s good forgetters!”
We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally
In a Nike advertisement some years ago, a voice came over the television saying, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Those words were spoken by Michael Jordan, by most standards the greatest basketball player ever to play the game.
Isaiah 43:18 NIV “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”
•DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT….
“You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.” – Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe
In spite of your past, God doesn’t give up on you and neither should you.
Psalm 103:10-12 NIV “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Micah 7:18 NIV “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
Romans 3:22 LB “God says He will accept and acquit us – declare us “not guilty‟ – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in the same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.”
For every person who has ever failed in their past, there is a forgiveness that forgets!
Don’t Judge yourself by your past, You no longer live there!
Turn when into now
Remember: “Yesterday Ended Last Night”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Psalm 118:24 NIV “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
We love to announce our plans, to make our goals and declare them. Next year I’m going to….
Proverbs 27:1 NIV – Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Spencer Johnson, the man who wrote the book The One Minute Manager wrote another book called The Perfect Present. In this book he said the perfect present is literally the perfect present. The present time. That’s all I have. That’s all I have to give to this world. Not next hour or next month but right now. That’s the gift that God has given to me so I ought to use it. That’s all I have — the present.
“The future is just a collection of bunch of successive nows”
Today is the Good Old Days you’re going to talk about in 15 years. Enjoy now. Make the most of now.
Matthew 6:34 (LB) “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow — God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”
Live one day at a time, that’s how God says to face the future. The future could be overwhelming but fortunately it comes in bite-size pieces, a 24-hour segment at a time. Plan for the future but you can only live now. I can’t live the future, I can only live today. Plan for the future but take advantage of the present. “Life is what happens to us while we’re planning something else.”
“Your success tomorrow begins today”
It was Abraham Lincoln who first said, “The leading rule for a man of every calling is diligence; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
IF you can Forget the Past – You can FOCUS and FULFILL what’s in Front of You
Philippians 3:13-14 NIV – 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The Greek word for ”goal” is ”skopos” which means ”to look at.” We get our word ‘’telescope” from that word. It means a small mark on which your eye is fixed.
•In other words, Paul said the key to living a productive life is to focus. Paul had a one-track mind, but his mind was on the right track.
CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.”
Do You want to embrace your destiny, or do you want to flutter on the ground in your history? This is a decision only YOU can make!
Today, You can have a new year, but it won’t mean jack diddly if you don’t have a new life.
“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one.”
Make a FRESH Start Today
This past Thursday night, millions of party-goers ushered in 2016 singing that old traditional song, “Auld Lang Syne.” I’m willing to wager that most people don’t know either what they’re singing or even why. I was amazed to hear Katie Couric, confess that she didn’t know what the song was about and didn’t even know what language it was. In fact, no one on the set of her show knew anything about the song!
The text is from the Scots Presbyterian poet, Robert Burns, who lived between 1759 and 1796. In a time of heightened Scottish nationalism in the face of England’s attempt to squelch the Jacobite cause, that tried to put Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne of the United Kingdom, Burns wrote most of his poetry in what is known as Broad Scots or simply Scots.
The poem was often used at the end of special social occasions and eventually became associated with New Year’s Eve and is used the same way today in Scotland. There are five other stanzas in the poem, all of them extremely reflective in nature. This is not a happy poem. It is touch with sorrow, sadness, and even grief. Listen to the opening question – should auld, that is old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind? Should we forget the people we’ve met? Should anything or anyone be forgotten? How much should be forgotten and how much should be remembered? “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,/ And auld lang syne?” That is, should we forget about old times, old friends, memories of the past? That’s what auld lang syne means – old times, old friends, memories of the past, “for (the sake of) old times”. Should we say good-bye to the past on New Year’s and never bring it to mind?
These are deep, philosophical questions that most of us don’t take the time to consider throughout the year as much as we should, let alone at twelve o’clock on New Year’s Eve. And yet, that’s what we sing.
The reason why I’ve gone on about this famous poem is to highlight the all-embracing character of it. Burns is not calling us to remember only the good times, but all the times, “the good and the bad.” But to also look towards the future with faith & excitement.
CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.”
Text: Matthew 10:14 NIV – If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet
•Jesus was gathering his disciples and preparing them to weather the storm of disappointment, possible plans & ideas that may not work, people that wouldn’t buy in, high effort, lots of work, and little fruit. He was letting them know that they may not see the results that they wanted to see. Somethings don’t turn out as planned, plenty of prayers that goes unanswered, and efforts that don’t yield the harvest that we hoped for.
Dusting off what was behind them was merely a part of getting ready for the greater things ahead of them.
Jesus was basically saying to them it may not go well in one city, but don’t let that city discourage you. The last city is not the next city!
There is only one way to get ready for what’s ahead of you…DUST OFF what’s on you that came from behind you!
The Residue of the Past
Often you can see the residue – All kinds of dust: disappointment, discouragement, offenses, strife, despair, rejection, etc..
(Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV) “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.”
(Job 30:26 NIV) “Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.”
(Job 27:8 NIV) “For what hope has the godless when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?”
(Job 19:19 NIV) “All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me.”
You can’t go where you’re meant to go, carrying the things of your past! Get ready for where God wants to take you! Take off the old mind set! The Horse is dead: DISMOUNT!
To many people are focused on what hasn’t happened. yesterday is not tomorrow! Your future is not determined by your past! I’m here to help you get the DUST OFF of you!
You are not going to Move Forward with that dust on you! With that look on your face, with that heaviness on your shoulders, with that offense in your heart! Dust off!
Pig Pen – From the Peanuts Cartoons. Where ever he goes there is dust.
•”Pig-Pen” is known for his perpetually filthy overalls and the cloud of dirt and dust that follows him wherever he goes. When he takes a deep breath (to sing, for example), the dust rises briefly around him. He sometimes refers to the cloud that surrounds him with pride as the dust of ancient civilizations. He cannot seem to rid himself of the dust for more than the briefest of periods—indeed, in spite of his best efforts, it appears that he cannot stay clean. He is referred to in an early strip as the only person who can get dirty while walking in a snowstorm. Once, after bathing and dressing in clean clothes, “Pig-Pen” stepped outside his house, and instantaneously became dirty and disheveled, whereupon he declared to Charlie Brown, “You know what I am? I’m a dust magnet!”
•Charlie Brown tries to be positive about him. “Don’t think of it as dust. Just think of it as the dirt and dust of far-off lands blowing over here and settling on “Pig-Pen!” It staggers the imagination! He may be carrying the soil that was trod upon by Solomon or Nebuchadnezzar or Genghis Khan!”
•The truth is that the residue of his past is still on him.
•We are all like Pig Pen – he wears and holds on to it instead of washing it.
•When someone opens up their mouth you can tell where they have been
(Matthew 12:34) “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”
Dust isn’t compatible with your Destiny
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Hope to Move Forward
(Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV) “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD‟s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
(Romans 12:2 NLT) “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
(Ephesians 4:18 NLT) “Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.
(Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT) “And may you have the power to understand, as all God‟s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.”
2. Dust Off (Release your past)
We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally
(Isaiah 43:18 NIV) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”
(Psalm 103:10-12 NIV) “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
(Micah 7:18 NIV) “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
(Romans 3:22 NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
3. Move Forward
It’s about facing forward. It’s about being ready for what God has ready for you!
Genesis 26:12-13 KJV – Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:
The apostle Paul understood the principle of Moving Forward & moving on when he said…
Phil 3:13 NLT No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
Paul had no other choice because his past wasn’t the best…
God spoke to Moses to tell the people to move forward…
Exodus 14:15 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:”
In this passage, God had already given Israel deliverance from the Egyptians. And now they are headed toward the promise land after leaving Egypt.
Suddenly, they come to the Red Sea. The enemy is behind. They can’t go left or right. They can’t go back.THERE WAS ONLY ONE DIRECTION FOR THEM TO GO…FORWARD!
And when they did, God did something He had never done before, and Israel escaped on dry land. The unexpected happened when they MOVED ON and shook the DUST OFF!
The New Year is not about changing the dates but direction; it’s not about changing the calendar but commitment; it’s not about changing the actions but attitude. May each and every day of yours be renewed with lots of happiness, peace, prosperity, wisdom, and joy!
RESET YOUR VIEW OF GOD
Lucy and Linus are gazing out the window at a staggering downpour of rain.
“Boy, look at it rain, ” Lucy says, fear etched on her face. “What if it floods the whole world?” “It will never do that, Linus responds confidently. “In the 9th Chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.” “You’ve taken a great load of my mind, ” Lucy says with a sigh of relief. Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”
That is my aim in this message today! To articulate the good theology (study of God) that God is a good God contrary to what someone may have said about Him, or our past perceptions.
I googled God. turns out there are 564 million results. My conclusion after the first few pages….Everyone has an opinion about God.
Problem in America today is that Christianity is 3000 miles wide and 1 inch deep. We need to leave the kiddy pool of christianity and launch out into the deep!
We really have a warped society that believes God is dead and Elvis is alive. But in spite of our ignorance here is the heart of God:
Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV) 8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
A person’s perception of understanding of the nature of God will determine their level of faith in His ability or desire to help them.
AW Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
If you know Him as He is – – loving, kind, gentle, giving, generous, and liberal – – then you would not hesitate to ask from Him all that you need!
Matthew 7:11 NIV – 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
“I have found God to be cordial and generous and in every way easy to live with.”- A.W. Tozer
Myths About God
Myth – a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon
Greek Mythology – The Odyssey, The Iliad by Homer, Mt Olympus, Zeus, Hades, Athena, Apollo, Hermes, Prometheus, Atlas, The Clash of the Titans
(1 Timothy 1:3-4 NLT) “…stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.”
I. What You Must Know about God
1. God is Powerful
Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 44:24 NIV – This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed
you in the womb:I am the Lord, the Maker of all things,who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,
Isaiah 45:12 NIV – It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.
Augustine said, “The very order, disposition, beauty, change, and motion of the world and of all visible things silently proclaim that it could only have been made by God.”
•The Proof of God’s Power is not in an explanation but in a changed life
2. God is Good
Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you
The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.
Psalm 34:8 ESV – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!
Psalm 103:1-5 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s
3. God is Gracious and Merciful
(Ephesians 2:8-9) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”
•Grace is God giving people credit for something they didn’t do!
(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“God’s power to save us is greater than our sin that condemns us”
(Psalm 145:8 NIV) – “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”
•Because of Grace, God chose to clean up what we messed up
(Micah 7:18) “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
(Psalm 103:9-10) “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
Do not freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you!
II. What God Wants You to Know about HIM
1. To know that God loves me.
(Lamentations 3:21-23) “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORDʼs great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
2. To know that God has a plan for me.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-17) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
3. To know that God will bring me through.
(2 Timothy 4:18) “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
(Philippians 1:6 NAS) “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.”
III. My Prayer for you
(Ephesians 1:17) “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”
1. You’ll need to take a leap of faith.
(Hebrews 11:6) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
(James 4:8) “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
2. You’ll need to give God your all.
(Jeremiah 29:13) “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life. If not to God, you’ll surrender to popular opinion, money, resentment, or fear, to your own pride, lust, and ego.
Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works. All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction.
So give it all to God: your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life, and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control.
I Corinthians 15:34 MSG – Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these”
RESET: Change Your Life
When it comes to life transformation, what is God’s part and what is our part?
Philippians 2:12-13 ESV – Therefore, my beloved, fas you have always gobeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for hit is God who works in you, both to will and to work for ihis good pleasure.
What would you like to change in your life? As I was growing up, I heard people say, “Jesus changed my life.” How does Jesus change your life? Does He do surgery or brain wash you? Zap you with something and all of a sudden you’re changed? There’s a lot of confusing advise coming out now days on how God changes us. Some people say, “Just wait on the Lord.” A passive approach. Other people say, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” An activist viewpoint. What am I supposed to do in order to grow? Is it all me or is it all God or is it a combination? Paul deals with this very issue. When it comes to your spiritual growth, the fact is God has a part and you have a part. Paul uses two phrases to explain this cooperation:
In a physical workout, you develop what you already have – the muscles God has given you. To “work out” means to cultivate or develop. He doesn’t say you earn your salvation. He says you make the most of what you’ve already got. You work “out” what God is working “in”.
“…work out your salvation…” Circle “your”. He’s talking about an individual assignment. Accept personal responsibility for your growth. Your salvation, not somebody else’s. Yours. Individually. God wants to work out the implications of it in your life individually. God does not want cookie-cutter Christians. He doesn’t want a bunch of spiritual clones walking around, everybody copying each other. What does the gospel mean in your life? You are unique and individual. He doesn’t want you to be Billy Graham; He wants you to be you.
Ready or not Change happens. Change imposes itself on you. It doesn’t even wait on you to be ready. It doesn’t ask for your permission. But change is not a bad word.
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by Change.”
Why People Resist Change
•Fear – Uknown threatens our comfort zone
•Insecurity – Thinking we will be worse off
•Power -We will lose it
•Inertia – Easier to maintain the status quo
•Energy – Takes lots of work to change
The question is, “How will you respond to it? What kind of attitude will you have toward it?”
I. DON’T FOCUS ON WHAT WAS, BUT ON WHAT CAN BE
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland
No one likes change EXCEPT a baby with a wed or dirty diaper. Change can be intimidating and frightening. You can change and not grow…but you can’t grow without change!
•Life span for modern technology is less than 12 months
•The American worker will face up to 4 career changes
•Over 500,000 graduates have degrees in a field that becomes non-existent every year
Jim Rohn use to say, “Don’t say If I could I would, say If I can, I will”
John 5:6 ESV – When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
-Jesus felt it necessary to ask! You Must Want Change!
Changes in life bring changes in you! By Product – Growth & Transformation
We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are!
II. Three Tools God Uses to Change You
1. God Uses the Bible
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Bible changes our thoughts so it changes us. If you want to get serious about change, you need to get into this book. Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, live it in your life. The more you get the Word of God in your life, the more you’re going to be changed.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV– For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The Bible is authoritive not just bc it is a manual for living, but bc it reveals to us JESUS who has the power to CUT through all our BOLONEY and change our lives!
“The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives”
2. God Uses the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11 ESV – If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[a] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
God puts His Spirit in us. This is where the power comes from to change. Romans 8:11: “Once the Spirit lives within you, He will bring to your whole being new strength and vitality.” God will bring power into your life. The Holy Spirit is God Himself. He’s in Spirit form. When you commit your life to God, He comes into your life.
II Corinthians 3:18 Living Bible – But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.
The Holy Spirit in you gives you the desire and the power to do what is right. God’s number one purpose in your life is not to make you happy, but to make you like Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:19, 23 NIV) “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire…May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Every time we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter into human personality and change it” JB Phillips
God’s ideal is to tell us how to change through His word and give us the power to change through His Spirit. You read it and then He empowers you to do it. Unfortunately, we don’t always follow the ideal. So God has to use a third way to change us when we don’t respond to the Word or the Holy Spirit.
3. God Uses Circumstances
Problems, pressures, headaches, difficulties, stress always gets our attention.
Romans 8:28-29 NIV – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
There is nothing that could come into the life of a believer without God’s permission. He doesn’t say they are all good, but He will use them for good to fit into a pattern. There is a divine pattern.
Proverbs 20:30 Good News Translation – Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.
We rarely change until we get desperate. We don’t change too often when we see the light, but we always change when we feel the heat. God lights a fire under us and we get moving. Often we will put up with things we know needs to be changed in our lives until we being to be uncomfortable. God sometimes has to bring some thunderstorms into our lives to say, “Do something. I want you to change. Don’t get stuck in a rut.” (A rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out.)
Learn to see the Purpose in the Pain – God is more interested in your character than your comfort.
Three Ways We Can Cooperate with God
1. I Can Choose What I Think About
Proverbs 4:23 NCV “Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.”
Your Thoughts not only shape your life, your thoughts are your life! You will never change your life until you change the way you think.
You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen
Romans 12:2 NIV – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Change begins in your Mind. Your mind is the drawing room for your tomorrow. What happens in your mind will happen in time.
Psalm 1:1-3 NIV – Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
The key to success is meditating on God’s Word. Another word for meditation is “rumination” – what a cow does when it chews it cud. The cow is straining every once of nourishment it can out of that grass
•Meditation is Thought Digestion
Philippians 4:8 NIV – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things
Joshua 1:8 ESV – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success
2. I Can Choose to Depend on The Holy Spirit
John 15:4-5 ESV – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
A branch is totally dependant upon the vine. When it is cut off from that vine, it won’t bear any grapes, or figs, or whatever. A branch cannot produce fruit by itself. It’s got to be connected. Jesus is saying that’s the way we have to be with God. We have to be plugged in. God has the power. But it’s not automatic. It’s when you’re plugged in, tuned in to God that the power comes through you.
Fruit is an inside job
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
3. I Can Choose My Response to Life
Romans 5:3-4 ESV– Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
You cannot control all the circumstances in your life, but you can control how you choose to respond to them. It’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s what happens in us that makes the difference.
James 1:2-4 ESV – Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Don’t ask why,, ask What
II Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT – For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
What do you want to change the most about yourself? The power to change comes from God’s power and your choices. When you choose to do the right thing, God gives you the power. What God tells you to do He gives you the power to do. Whatever you want to change it takes cooperation with God. He will work it in if you will work it out. God has promised to give you both the desire, the will power and the ability to make those changes. He will do it through His word and through His spirit. He will energize your life to make those changes. But it starts with our choices
RESET Our Relationships
Philippians 2:1-8 ESV – So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
Here is a fact: God has made us to have relationships.
We can have a relationship with Him and we can have a relationship with other people. Since the fall of Adam and Eve – maintaining relationships have been a major struggle between man and man – and man and God.
God sends people into our lives. How we treat them determines whether they stay
God gives us things to use and people to love, NOT things to love and people to use.
Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.
1. Am I willing to change?
Matthew 18:3 NIV – And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
You will never change your life until you change the way you think.
Romans 12:2 ESV – Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
2. Am I willing to put others first?
Mark 9:35 ESV – And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
You can tell how successful a person is by the way they celebrate the success of others
We have not come together to compete with one another, but to complete one another
Philippians 2:3 MSG “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.”
If you have a choice between making yourself or people around you look good, choose people around you!
3. Am I willing to let go of the past?
I Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Much criticism has to do with the unfortunate nature of people and their selfishness, arrogance, and jealousy
Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive
Apologizing does not always mean you are wrong, it just means that you value your relationships more than your ego
4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did?
John 13:34-35 ESV – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus was saying that The Church is not about religion, it’s about relationships.
Romans 12:10-11 ESV- Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[a] serve the Lord.
How to RESET Relationships
1. Strengthen my Important Relationships
When right people enter your life, right things happen. Right people are those who will build you and not tear you down. They are excited about your potential and dreams.
Galatians 5:13-15 NIV – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other
Dr Carl Menger said, Our environment shapes us more than our DNA or heredity
2. Heal my Strained Relationships
Romans 12:17-18 NIV – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
I dare you to make that call! Go make that visit!
Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships
People who take you down and not up, they make withdrawals but never deposits. They abuse and misuse you. They gossip about you instead of guard you
I Corinthians 15:33 ESV – Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals
People who are more critical than complimentary
Proverbs 13:20 ESV – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm
II Corinthians 6:14 NIV – Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
(2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Message) “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. God himself put it this way: ‘I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,’ says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.”
4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships
Ephesians 2:19 NIV – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household
Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity
Proverbs 18:24 NIV – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life
How to do this – Connect (Life Groups) At GraceTown we believe that life change happens best in the context of relationship and community. Life Groups provide a place to care for one another, and partner for spiritual growth and kingdom impact. We promote a “free market” approach that capitalizes on existing relationships and affinities.
Acts 2:42-47 ESV – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
RESET: Making your Spiritual Life a Priority
The story is told of a young boy who asked his father what his New Year’s resolution was; and, his father told him he was going to do everything possible to make his mother happy in the coming year. The boy, then, asked his mother what her New Year’s resolution was; and, she replied: “To do everything possible to ensure that his father kept his resolution!”
Is your life locked up? Are you on system overload? Panic sets in when our phones, computers, iPods lock up. We call tech support and often it’s simply a matter of a RESET. At different times, many of us take an honest look inside and realize we need our own RESET. How many resolutions and promises do we make that we don’t end up keeping? How can this time be different?
Reset – to move (something) back to an original place or position : to put (a broken bone) back in the correct position for healing; To set again, differently; to press a special button or to make changes so that a machine will work again or work in a different way
Mark 12:30 ESV And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Revelation 3:15-16 ESV ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.You are as close to God as you chose to be! Spiritual growth happens by choice
1 Timothy 4:7 ESV – Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness (Phillips) “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.”
3 John 1:2 ESV – Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
What is Unhealthy in your life? Clean up your Spiritual Diet
• In a health screening, the Dr. will run tests & look for symptoms that might indicate ill health.
• Symptoms are red flags or warning signs that a part of your body is not functioning optimally.
• Spotting these symptoms early and making appropriated changes in diet & lifestyle can prevent a minor ailment from ballooning into a serious problem.
Spiritual growth is not determined how you act in church but how you respond to life.
•Hot – You are growing.
(2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV) We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,[a] as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing
”The soul’s deepest thirst is for God Himself, who has made us so that we can never be satisfied without Him.” FF Bruce
•Cold – You do not know God yet.
(2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
•Lukewarm – You are drifting.
(Hebrews 2:1 ESV) Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
How to Get There
•Grow yourself daily.
The Secret to your spiritual success is hidden in the daily routine
Proverbs 23:12 ESV Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
Jeremiah 29:13-14 ESV “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile
“People do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.”
The Bible is not just a book; it is a God breathed, God indwelt, God inspired message. We are to believe what the Bible says, not what we think it says of what someone else says that it says.
It will outlast heaven & earth (Matt. 24:35)
In our pursuit of seeking God, we must become interested in the Word of God.
John Calvin said, “We owe to the scripture the same reverence which we owe God bc it proceeded from Him alone…
Knowing God’s Word is the Pathway to Knowing God
John 5:39 ESV- You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
Decide to start a Daily Bible Reading plan!
Spending time with God should be a lifelong habit, not a passing fancy. Research shows you need to do something for about six weeks straight to build a habit. Make God’s Word part of your life today — and for the rest of your life.
3. Be Faithful in Giving
•Over 800 verses in the Bible about the subject of Money. It’s addressed more than heaven and hell. 16 of 38 stories Jesus told were about money and man.
“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”
Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV 24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
•Faithfulness in Giving doesn’t start when you have a lot, it starts when you have little!
Leviticus 27:30 ESV “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.
(Malachi 3:8-12 NIV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
•Tithe puts us all on the same level of sacrifice. It is worship to God. It must be returned to God. Returning not Giving.
4. Make Prayer a Priority
PRAYER IS COMMUNICATING WITH GOD.
Psalm 5:1-3 ESV – Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch
TALK TO GOD
Philippians 4:6 ESV – do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
1 Peter 5:7 ESV – casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV – Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Pray, Until, Something, Happens
1 Samuel 1:12-13 ESV As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.
3. AND LISTEN FOR HIS RESPONSE.
1 Kings 19:12-13 ESV -And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a] 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
John 10:27 ESV – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Release your faith with absolute assurance in God’s Ability
I John 5:14-15 NIV – “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us- whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”
•The power in prayer is not the person praying BUT God who is hearing.
Remember – Don’t forget to pray today because God didn’t forget to wake you up this morning