Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 22nd - Christian Living

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Fever
Leon Preaching
E-Team - Dream Come True outreach
Superbowl Efforts at Home and in Tampa
Marriage Seminar

Praise Report
Michelle Sloan new job

Text - 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Before we start, I want to tell you a little about the Superbowl and then clarify some things from about a month ago. We had 110 people with our group, ranging from age 6 to 80, every type of person too. We handed out over 100,000 Gospel tracts, mostly "Superbowl Trivia", but a lot of others too. Many stepped out of their comfort zone to do things they had never done before. Some had never handed out tracts and they did, some had never had a 1-on-1 conversation and they did for the first time, some had never open-air preached, and they did for the first time. It was really neat to see people growing in Christ. Evangelism is the best way to grow in the faith, it's not the only way, but it is the best way. Paul wrote to Philemon, "I pray that in the sharing of your faith you become efficient for every good thing that is in you for the sake of Christ."

I think I preached 35 times, I lost count though, during so I got heckled, had a cigarette thrown at me, and was cursed at by a drunk pastor. I don't think she was saved, actually I'm quite certain of it. I lost my voice on Friday night, and it came back, then again on Saturday, and it came back, then on Sunday, and it came didn't really come back on Monday, but it did sort of come back and I went to KSU with Erin Oakley and preached there, my voice kept squealing, and that actually helped to draw a crowd. I want to share my sermon with you just so you can get an example of how I preach in the Open-Air.

Folks, can I have your attention for just one moment, as you can see by my Diamondbacks shirt, I’m from Phoenix. Somebody told me the D-Backs have a better chance of winning the Superbowl than the Cardinals, pretty rough...but I don’t really care about that, but I do care where you spend eternity.

I’m not out here to judge you, but I do ask you to judge yourself. The Bible says good people go to Heaven, and bad people do not. It is imperative that you make sure you’re a good person, and if you’re not, that you do something about it. Test yourself and find out…If you’ve told one lie, in the same way that murdering one person makes you a murderer, telling one lie makes you a liar. If you’ve ever stolen anything, then God sees you as a Steeler…wait…that’s not right…he sees you as a thief. When you take God’s name in vain, you set your mouth against Heaven, you declare war on the God who made you.

Here is the one that got me, you’ve heard it said of old, thou shalt not commit adultery, but Jesus said, “Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

If you’re honest, you’re just like the rest of us, you’re not a good person, but a bad person, a sinner, and in God’s eyes you are a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart…pretty heavy, huh?! All liars will have their place in the Lake of Fire, all thieves, blasphemers, and adulterers will be excluded from the kingdom of Heaven. I am the chief of sinners, I am the least of saints.

So how do you become a saint? How can you be forgiven? God, with the great love that he has for us, sent his perfect sinless Son to die on a cross bearing your sins so that you might be forgiven. You broke the law, Jesus Christ paid your fine. Now you can go to Heaven when you die, not because you are a good person, but because you are a very bad person forgiven by a very good God who paid your fine on the cross. So Repent towards God, and Trust in Jesus Christ, that his payment on that cross was entirely sufficient to pay your way into Heaven. I implore you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, be reconciled to God! Have a nice day, enjoy the game, go Cardinals!

So, two things I want to correct, apologize for, and use for training in righteousness are from our lesson on purity from January 11th. The main reason I want to go back over this is because I think I might have made it sound a little too easy, I want you to know that purity and fighting against sin is hard, it is not just an easy choice where you say, "I'm just not going to put myself in that situation and therefore won't have to worry about it." Because the situation will find you. I was witnessing 1-on-1 and sort of got separated from my group, I could see my group from where I was, but they were a ways off. I noticed a young-lady standing outside of a bar and looked at her with the intent of witnessing to her, she saw me look at her and she initiated the conversation.

I talked to her for a while about where she worked and other stuff, the reason she had left the club was because someone had touched her inappropriately, which is another reason you shouldn't put yourself in situations like that. After a while of talking to her, I asked her if she went to church anywhere. That's usually a pretty good ice-breaker to switch to spiritual things.

Up to this point she was tipsy, but not drunk, but she must have finished her drink before she left the club, because all of the sudden she wasn't sober anymore, but quite drunk. I was witnessing to her and she said, "I don't want to talk about this anymore," and stepped forward and kissed me, right on the lips.

I pushed her away, and tried to continue the conversation, but she didn't want to, and she decided to leave. I put a tract in her jacket pocket. When she kissed me I instantly remembered that I had said, "I'm not kissing another girl until she's my wife."

Besides that, I also told you I wasn’t dating another girl except with the intent of marrying her. Well I wrecked that too. There is a young lady here at Summit that I’ve been praying about, talking to, hanging out with trying to figure out if it would be worthwhile to go to the next level, well things got a little complicated between us. Fortunately I didn’t kiss her too.

I also want to share something I’m seeing, mostly in the high school, and remember from being your age. Fortunately this slightly gets better as you get older, but you might meet someone and all of the sudden all of the love in the world doesn’t matter to you if it’s not from that person. If this happens, just remember that you are loved by all sorts of people, your parents, your pastors, your friends, and your God; and one person not loving you isn’t the end of the world.

I also wanted to share with you that this sort of thing isn’t easy, you have to make a stand to remain pure, and when you fall out of purity (and beloved, I pray that it doesn’t happen, but it has a good chance of happening) that you don’t just give up, but that you stand back up and continue forward towards holiness, press forward for the glory of Christ, know that for those in Jesus Christ, there is now no condemnation.

I think this is an excellent example to lead into 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, not that we’re working our way to Heaven, because we can’t do that, but me, as the chief of sinners, and you guys, have been made the least of saints by Christ’s work on the cross. Our response is not to earn our way to Heaven, because where sin increases, grace abounds all the more, our response is to glorify God.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

v. 9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you,

So, what’s the difference between brotherly love and other kinds of love? Brotherly love is expressed between Christians, it is sacrificial, not expecting repayment, nor having any end. Say one of you had something you needed to talk to Dave about that was important, and after you talked to him on the phone for an hour he said, “Ok, every student gets 1 hour of talk time a year with me, your hour is up, talk to you next year.” Would that be very loving? No, not at all!

The Thessalonians weren’t doing anything of the sort, Paul commended them for having nothing to be corrected on. The rest of the verse tells why:

v. 9-10 for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia.

Their being taught by God indicates the new heart they received when they were saved. Their old stony heart removed and a new heart of flesh installed. Heart is how the Bible describes the emotions, it is not physically the organ in your chest that pumps blood, your heart change wasn’t accomplished through open-chest surgery, but by a supernatural work of God.

The proof of that heart change isn’t just in word, saying, “You’ve been given a new heart that seeks after God,” but it is proved by what Thessalonica was doing for all of her brothers throughout Macedonia.

At the Superbowl one of the great moments was seeing a lot of my friends from all over the country who our only point of similarity is Jesus Christ. And also another great moment was meeting Christians I’d never met before and the instantaneous bond we had together. This new heart is capable of knowing the truth when love is happening and when it is not.

Now, imagine a blind person walking along, minding their own business, when out of no-where a football player tackles them. Is that very loving? Doesn’t seem like it, does it, you should never just tackle someone.

But wait, now imagine that blind person was one step from walking over a thousand-foot-cliff to their death on jagged rocks below? Now is it loving what the football player did? Yes, much more so, because he saved them from certain death.

James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

So the Thessalonians were probably being loving in a lot of ways, not just in supplying food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, shelter and clothing to the needy, but also in preaching the Gospel so that more would be saved.

There are a lot of ways to show love, and sometimes these are subtle. Not to boast, but just so you know, these lessons take a long time to prepare, usually about five hours. I get a lot out of preparing them, but I’m not doing it for myself, I’m doing it for you guys, I feel like it’s the best way to demonstrate my love to you. Still, I know that sometimes this doesn’t fulfill whichever need you may have, so if you need something else, what you’ve gotta do is ask. Say you want someone to come to a piano recital, or soccer game, or whatever, I’d love to do that, or maybe you just want to talk, but how am I going to know about these things if you don’t ask. One thing I’m hoping to do, if Dave approves it, is go to a Braves game in the middle of May.

Finally, an excellent way to demonstrate your love for someone, in a way that they may never know, is through prayer. I’d really encourage you to go to your parents and make sure they are praying for you and that you are praying for them. Prayer is such a big subject that I can’t emphasize how important it is.

v. 10 But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,

Keep doing it, get better at it, don’t stop. Paul goes on to give an example of how to do it more and more.

v. 11 aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands

In aspiring to live quietly Paul means not to gossip, not to cause unneeded problems, to resolve problems without suing one another. Paul was writing from Corinth, which had all sorts of problems between neighbors, both in Christians and non, but the Christian should not be constantly having petty squabbles with other Christians.

Minding your own affairs means to take care of your household and problems before trying to fix other people’s problems. Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” Then he goes on to give instructions on how to judge others. He pretty much said, “Work out your own salvation before you worry about others salvation.”

Working with your hands is almost an afterthought it seems like. Paul didn’t give a lot of thought to this one, but it would become a major issue in Thessalonica, they would quit their jobs waiting for Christ’s return, but at this moment it was a non-issue and Paul spent almost no time on it. Paul was a tent-maker by trade, he didn’t have to beg for food, because he had goods to sell, a trade to make money.

v. 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Here is the purpose, the application, so that you may rightly represent Christ to unbelievers, not having to beg for food or shelter. A church that is always suing, always involved in vain-politics, always being contentious is going to earn a bad reputation for menial things. The world is going to hate the church for being the salt that stings their open-wounds, we don’t want to give them more reasons to hate us or to be offended at anything other than the cross of Christ.

The Application for you is to avoid gossip, seek to live at peace with everyone as much as possible, and to work hard at school and college and/or your apprenticeship so that you are able to support yourself. There is a joy in working with your hands that you won’t receive in working as an engineer or architect, but that doesn’t mean that those jobs aren’t worthwhile for you to do. However, pay attention while on Builders for Christ trips, or help your dad change the oil in the car, learn how to work with your hands. If you learn basic mechanical skills on your car it will save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime doing your own basic maintenance. Know also though that it isn’t terrible to go to an expert. I had a minor plumbing issue in my house that I started to work on, which proved to be a major plumbing issue, but my pride got in the way and I continued to do it all on my own. I got it done, and done right, but the time and frustration wasn’t worth it.

I think our joy derives from being created in the image of God, the Imagio Dei, that God created everything, and in working with our hands, we arrange things into an ordered structure that reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Sometimes we think that God has hands because we have hands, that he has ears because he has ears, that he created things because we create things…but that is exactly backwards. We have hands so we’ll understand what God means when he says he holds us in his hand, we have ears so we’ll understand that God hears and understands, we create things because God first created things.

So, love one another in a brotherly fashion, sacrificially without expectation of repayment, love isn’t always ushy-gushy or without pain but sometimes has to involve admonition and correction. Also don’t gossip, don’t meddle, take care of your own household first, and learn how to support yourself apart from state-sponsorship.