Sunday, January 3, 2016

The message today - How to Eat an Elephant: One bite at a time.

Part 1: One bite at a time!   

Opening: When we think about the pursuit of holiness it can feel pretty overwhelming. Most of us have lots of areas in our life that we need to work on: Relationships; Habits; Attitudes; Behaviors. Where to start? In our desire to deal with everything, sometimes we turn the pursuit of holiness into nothing more than a general commitment to do better. But holiness is not just a general commitment to “be more like Christ” or to “keep growing.” It is tangible and specific. And it has to be pursued that way. 

Over the next 5 weeks I will encourage you to identify one area of your life where you would like to be noticeably different: marriage, habits, spiritual disciplines, sexuality, finances or emotional stability. And we will also encourage you to identify one thing in that area and develop an actionable plan that is both challenging and attainable.

So be watchful, and control yourselves completely. In this way, put your hope in the grace that lies ahead. This grace will be brought to you when Jesus Christ returns. You should obey your Father. You shouldn’t give in to evil desires. They controlled your life when you didn’t know any better.  The God who chose you is holy. So you should be holy in all that you do.  It is written, “Be holy, because I am holy.”                                                                              1 Peter 1:13-16

1. God is HOLY
There isn’t anyone holy like the Lord.
    There isn’t anyone except him. 1 Samuel 2:2a
Lord, who among the gods is like you?  Who is like you? You are majestic and holy. Your glory fills me with wonder. You do amazing things.                                       Exodus 15:11
2. We must be HOLY
HABITS  The term “habit” refers to a settled or regular tendency or practice
       This has become mine, that I observe Your precepts.         Psalm 119:56
Habits of holiness are sometimes called spiritual disciplines and are not the mere product of human strength and desire. Godly habits are initiated, carried on, and matured through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
The God who chose you is holy. So you should be holy in all that you do.  It is written,        “Be holy, because I am holy.”                                                                   1 Peter 1:16
      Train yourself to be godly. 1 Timothy 4:7
Ill: Jonathan Edwards (1703 — 1758) is best remembered for his masterful sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” He was one of America’s premier theologians and greatest preachers. Many believe Jonathan Edwards was the greatest mind in American history. Edwards lived by a list of resolutions.
For example: “Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.” This statement shows how serious he was about pursuing holiness. It reveals a man who understood the fear of the Lord and sought to live it.
Yet look at another of Edwards’ resolutions: “Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”    What marvelous balance! Edwards resolved to fight the sin in his life but recognized that it would be a slow and painful process, one that would often feel unsuccessful. Defeat didn’t weaken his resolve.
Keep far away from sexual sins. All the other sins a person commits are outside the body. But sexual sins are sins against their own body.                            1 Cor. 6:18
From the Covenant of Christian Conduct in the current Manual of the Church of the Nazarene: The Church of the Nazarene views human sexuality as one expression of the holiness and beauty that God the Creator intended for His creation. It is one of the ways by which the covenant between a husband and a wife is sealed and expressed.              Christians are to understand that in marriage human sexuality can and ought to be sanctified by God. Human sexuality achieves fulfillment only as a sign of comprehensive love and loyalty. Christian husbands and wives should view sexuality as a part of their much larger commitment to one another and to Christ from whom the meaning of life is drawn.
The Christian home should serve as a setting for teaching children the sacred character of human sexuality and for showing them how its meaning is fulfilled in the context of love, fidelity, and patience.
Our ministers and Christian educators should state clearly the Christian understanding of human sexuality, urging Christians to celebrate its rightful excellence, and rigorously to guard against its betrayal and distortion. Sexuality misses its purpose when treated as an end in itself or when cheapened by using another person to satisfy pornographic and perverted sexual interests. We view all forms of sexual intimacy that occur outside the covenant of heterosexual marriage as sinful distortions of the holiness and beauty God intended for it.
Homosexuality is one means by which human sexuality is perverted. We recognize the depth of the perversion that leads to homosexual acts but affirm the biblical position that such acts are sinful and subject to the wrath of God. We believe the grace of God sufficient to overcome the practice of homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We deplore any action or statement that would seem to imply compatibility between Christian morality and the practice of homosexuality. We urge clear preaching and teaching concerning Bible standards of sexual morality.  I know this may offend some steeped in our culture but I am completed to preach this message with compassion and grace.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good amount will be poured into your lap. It will be pressed down, shaken together and running over. The same amount you give will be measured out to you.                                                                                  Luke 6:38
If you’re serious about becoming financially free, take these action steps:
Transfer ownership to God. Recognize that God really owns what you have and that includes your family as well as your time and things. Recognize this biblical principle or it will be impossible to free yourself financially. "The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it."          Psalm 24:1 NASB

Get out of debt. Break the habits that keep you in debt – like spending more than you earn and borrowing. Save so you don’t have to borrow. "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it."                Proverbs 15:16 NASB
Accept God’s provision for you. God is wiser than you are and He will provide for your needs just as He promised. "Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’.”                            Matthew 6:31 NASB
I believe that God is more interested in changing us than He is in changing our circumstances. He wants us to get to the point where we are content and not dissatisfied or disturbed, no matter what state we are in. When we’re content, we can still desire change, but our circumstances won’t bother us and distract us from living like Christ.
Psalm 91:1 says, He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].”
So we know that we really can be stable, and the way for us to get there is through God.

3. We can only be holy when we are in a RELATIONSHIP with the Holy God!
Besides, we have all had human fathers who trained us. We respected them for it. How much more should we be trained by the Father of spirits and live!  Our parents trained us for a little while. They did what they thought was best. But God trains us for our good. He does this so we may share in his holiness.                              Hebrews 12:9-10

 “God wants you to be holy . . .” 1 Thessalonians 4:4 GNT

Sanctification is God’s stated purpose for the believer

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