The sermon for October 29th is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on Romans 3:21-26, I talk about how the events of the Reformation in 2017 affect us today.
Outdo one another in showing honour.
This machine-gun list of commands come down to the practicalities of living the christian life each day.
We should hate what is evil and love what is good. We should love other christians and contribute to their needs,
We are to extend that love to those who persecute or curse us. We must bless them and not curse. We must not seek revenge, but leave that to the Lord. If our enemies are hungry we must feed them; if they are thirsty give them something to drink.
We must be people who not only live honourable lives, but also excel in giving honour to one another.
We live in an age where honour is conditional and limited. We honour sports champions as long as they keep winning. We honour political leaders as long as they are on our side.
Many people spend a life-time quietly and humbly serving their community, but are ignored or taken for granted.
Even churches are loathe to honour leaders and servants. Pastors are criticised rather than lifted up. Other churches and denominations easily receive criticism.
This week the city of Houston in the United States is being pummelled by a hurricane and the subsequent flooding. Some people were quick to criticise Joel Osteen for not opening his church building as a refuge. It turns out that they offered their facility to the city as a last resort because it was feared that it could become subject to flooding also. We can be so eager to assume bad motives to other people.
“Outdo one another in showing honour.” This must start with me. How can I express honour to the people around me, especially the one I don’t get along with?
Lord may I become a person who builds up not criticises others. Show me how to honour my brothers and sisters, even my enemies. Amen.
Don’t copy the behaviours and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Paul exhorts us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God; the kind that is acceptable to Him. We must allow God to change the way we think, becoming new people in the process.
We should always be humble, honest with ourselves and measuring ourselves by the faith He has given us.
God gives us different gifts (these are often called motivational gifts). Whatever our gifting- prophecy, serving, teaching,encouraging, giving, leadership or kindness- we should do it to honour the Lord.
Many christians fail to grow in the Lord because their ambitions and desires are worldly, rooted in the flesh and in human wisdom. They forsake the most hateful sins easily enough, but they fail to grow in holiness or character.
We can change our outward behaviour without changing our heart, but this does not produce lasting transformation. Often such change becomes legalistic or religious because the focus is on changing behaviour not on changing the thinking.
When we surrender to God everything that we are, He starts to change our thinking. As our thinking changes, we discover that we are no longer conforming to the ways of the world but are being transformed by Him.
The best part is that when God does the changing in us, it is genuine. He changes us from the inside out.
Lord I surrender all that I am to you- every thought, desire and ambition. Please bring my will into alignment with yours. Amen.
If you confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The word of God is on our lips and in our hearts, and so anyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that God raised Him from the dead will be saved.
Our confession with the lips and our heart belief will save us. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Who will hear if there is no preaching? Who will call on His name if they do not know there is a name to be believed? This means that we must go out from the church and preach the message of salvation.
The Good News is remarkably simple. To be saved I must speak out with my lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that He is risen.
We have a Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He must be the one I follow and obey in everything I do.
Jesus’ lordship is not a religious phrase with no meaning. It rests on a historical fact- Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. He was dead and now He is alive.
There is salvation in the name of Jesus.
There is forgiveness in the name of Jesus.
There is healing in the name of Jesus.
There is power in the name of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, today I declare you are my Lord. I say this not from empty religion but from the deep conviction of my heart. I thank you for dying for my sin and for rising to eternal life. Amen.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the spirit of death and sin.
Those who live by the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
If the Spirit of God dwells in us, then we have the Spirit of the one who raised Christ from the dead and we can be confident that this same Spirit will raise us to life in Christ.
The mark of the true disciple is that we have the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is not in a person then they are not born again.
The Holy Spirit shows Himself in a variety of ways, primarily in the manifestation gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 and the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5.
My life must be a journey of becoming ever more like Jesus. If I do not show evidence of this then the Holy Spirit is not in me, and I do not belong to Christ.
If the Spirit of God is in me, then I have the responsibility to set my mind on the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh.. The Spirit brings life, but the flesh brings death.
As always in the mystery of spiritual life, there is a paradox. On the one hand, the Spirit comes as a free gift at salvation and is released in power when we are baptised in the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, I must pursue the ways of the Spirit and set my mind on the Spirit.
For those who have tasted the joy of the indwelling peace of God, this is not burdensome. I change the direction of my thinking and desiring from self to God, and He meets me with such joy and love, far greater then anything the old fleshly nature could ever provide.
Thank you Lord for the gift of life in your Spirit. Lord it is so true that the flesh leads to death but your Spirit brings life. May I always pursue you and not be swayed by the lures and temptations of the flesh. Amen.
I love God’s law with all my heart, but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Paul shares a dilemma that we all have. We know what is right, but we don’t do it. In fact often when we try to act God’s way, we end up sinning.
Nothing good lives in our sinful nature, and so the good we want to do we cannot do. It is as if a power called sin dominates our mind and body.
Who can set me free from this state of warfare? Only our Lord Jesus Christ.
A person is only a christian in theory, or a person who said “Yes” to Christ only in his mind, is going to struggle with this law of sin and death.
We know what we should do in order to please God, but the unredeemed nature gets in the way over and over again.
The answer is in Christ, but not just as a theory.
Jesus told us that to follow Him we must take up our cross and die to ourselves. That means all of our desires, ambitions and dreams need to be put to death. Every sentence that starts with “I” must die.
The christian life, the way of salvation, is not about changing our lifestyle. It is about letting Christ change us from the inside out.
The problem with sin is in our mind. This is where the war takes place. We must surrender ourselves entirely to Christ, especially our way of thinking.
This process of dying to ourselves does not take place instantly when we get saved. It is a life-long process of letting go of everything that stands between us and the Lord.
Every day we have an opportunity to die again. The refiner of our hearts brings the flames to purify us. The true follower of Jesus embraces the flames rather than running away from them.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the answer to the war with sin. You are the victory. I lay my life at your feet. Take all of me and let my mind be transformed by your refining fire. Amen.
Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead but now you have new life.
We have new life in Christ and so we must not allow sin to control our bodies. Sin is no longer our master.
God gives us freedom, so we have a choice. We can be a slave to sin or we can choose to obey God. Now that we are set free from sin, we can receive God’s gift of righteousness and eternal life. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Following Jesus is not about following a set of rules, We have been raised to new life in Christ. Our life is now about burying ourselves in Him so that His life is expressed in us.
We do not do good things to gain eternal life. The good we do flows from the life that is now in us through Christ.
When a person dies, the whole body dies. It is not as if the stomach keeps running independently of the rest of the body. The whole body dies.
When we come to Christ, we die to our old nature- the whole body is put to death, so to speak. We are raised to new life, so we cannot allow any part of our body to be remain committed to sin. That thing died with the rest of the old nature.
My whole being- body, soul, spirit- is alive in Christ, and so my whole being needs to express that righteous, holy life.
I am not under a law that says “Thou shalt not do xyz.” I am in a life where doing xyz is foreign to me.
Sin is no longer a violation of a law. It is a violation of life, a cancer in my resurrected life.
Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for your gift of life. Please help me to live as a person of eternity no longer slave to sin. Let my whole body be submitted to you. Amen