When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

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CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

The Christian Life as “Power Walkers” and So Much More!

POWER WALKERS

The Using of “Mixed Metaphors”–

The picture above is a group of people getting ready to walk for a cause: Breast Cancer Walk.  This is of importance to me in particular since my wife went through surgery and radiation treatment for breast cancer over two years ago.  We both were forced to ‘walk through it.’

A mixed metaphor, in case you have no reference point, combines two or more images that don’t seem to make sense.  Some examples:

“You’ve buttered your bread…now lie in it.”

“Clearly we’ve opened a Pandora’s box…of worms.”

“Burning the midnight oil…at both ends.”

“Marching to the beat…of a dead horse.”

“Robbing Peter…to pay the piper.”

The apostle Paul mixes several metaphors in Colossians 2:6-7:

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude”  (NASB).

Many commentaries that I have read during the writing of this blog believe the theme of the entire book, is a “hinge point” of Colossians.

On The FAITH Side…

The Colossians had received Christ JESUS as Lord and Savior and they had been taught the faith.

And On the PRACTICE Side…

They needed to continue to live in Him, built up in Him; becoming strengthened in their faith, overflowing with thankfulness in their everyday and sometimes hectic lives.  Boy, can we relate to the Colossians or what?

PAUL USES 6 -WORD PICTURES OF CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL PROGRESS:

“For though I am away from you in body, yet I am with you in spirit, delighted at the sight of your [standing shoulder to shoulder in such] orderly array and the firmness and the solid front and steadfastness of your faith in Christ [that leaning of the entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]”  (Colossians 2:5 AMP).

Raising the Standard

The First Word Picture–The Soldier (verse 5):

The first picture is a review  “…to see how orderly you are and how firm your FAITH in Christ is“, as part of God’s Army–solidly united against the enemy–standing shoulder to shoulder.  All the while as we practice discipline, we strive to obey our Commander and Chief.  We’re not to battle against each other, but to do battle with each other–raising the banner or flag in serving side-by-side!

The Second Word Picture–The Power Walker (verse 6):

POWER WALKERS

The Christian Life Must Be Lived Out!

How do we do that?  We must go from our heads, to our hands, and then to our feet!  When Paul says, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.” Paul is reminding his readers, since they received JESUS by faith, so too they must WALK BY FAITH in His power.  That is the only way to make spiritual progress.

Moving with a purpose–

The verb continue; “to continue to live in Him” indicates a “continuous action”, moving in power.  Remembering the day of your salvation must be a present reality in your lives.  Our conduct must be consistent with His lordship and our worship should affect our walk; our practice must conform to our character, our principles, our INTEGRITY [see the Word Detective’s Archives: the post regarding INTEGRITY].

The Third Word Picture – The Tree (verse 7):

Our Roots Are Planted In Him

In this agricultural metaphor, just as a tree is “rooted”, we are to be grounded in the soil of God’s Word.  I like to call my Bible, 66 bags of “word seed” instead of 66 books of the Bible.

The tense of the Greek word means, “once and for all, having being rooted.”  Those who have truly received Christ Jesus are rooted in Him.  A tree puts down deep roots to find nutrition and to provide stability in the growing.

Likewise, we must go deep with Christ to find the fuel that we need to flourish during the storms of life.  This image most likely comes from the beautiful picture displayed in Jeremiah 17:8:

“For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters

that spreads out its roots by the river;

and it shall not see and fear when heat comes;

but its leaf shall be green.

It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought,

nor shall it cease yielding fruit.”

When we are rooted in a relationship with JESUS, we will have everything that we need for life and for godliness.  2 Peter 1:3declares,

“For His divine power has bestowed upon us ALL things that

[are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the

[full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us

by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).”

Just as a tree cannot thrive without any roots, we too cannot grow if we have not been grounded in “His glory and excellence.”

The Fourth Word Picture – The Building (verse 7):

Starting with a FOUNDATION

Paul now moves into a construction image to show us that our foundation is built on JESUS; where we must continue to add-on, so that we’re “being continually built up in Him.”

Ephesians 2:20 says, “You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.”

At our conversion, the construction process begins with a foundation first.  Then raised up and anchored with a cornerstone, helping align the whole structure in tying it together.

CORNERSTONE

 In the same way, as the chief cornerstone, JESUS holds everything together while providing alignment to our lives.

The CHURCH you’re attending right now wouldn’t be of much use with just a foundation in place.  A foundation is only the beginning of better things to come–the base is laid in order to build a strong building.

God doesn’t want us to STOP at conversion. Instead, He desires for us to construct our lives as in…  1 Corinthians 3:12:  “gold, silver, and precious stones” instead of using things that don’t last such as “wood, hay and straw.”   This is in order to be strong, building with solid materials.

Again, the tense of the verb [“continually”] indicates that the building keeps on going.  The Christian Life is not meant to be a one or two-story house, but rather a skyscraper that keeps going up and up!

The Fifth Word Picture – The Student (verse 7):

GRAD STUDENTS

The next METAPHOR in place:  “increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught”.  We are to be students in God’s Grad School so our FAITH can be strengthened and established.

We are to be STUDENTS in God’s Graduate School–

When I mean STUDENTS in God’s Grad School, I don’t mean spending years in a Christian preschool.  Hebrews 6:1-3 in The Message Bible brings word picture into focus:

“So come on, lets leave preschool fingerprinting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art.  Grow up in Christ.  The basic foundational truths are in place…But there is so much more.  Let’s get on with it!”

We are Disciples of Christ–

As STUDENTS, it becomes our responsibility to learn and know the Word of God if we are going grow in our FAITH.  Being disciples of Christ, we are to be always learning and putting ourselves in an environment of study and being strengthened on a regular basis.

It is important for every believer to plug into a small group whether at church or in a neighborhood.  However, you don’t want to just be a church with “small groups”… but a church that is made up of small groups.

The Sixth Word Picture – A River (verse 7):

An Overflowing River

The idea here is based on verse 7“abounding and overflowing with thanksgiving.”  Receiving instruction in biblical truth should produce inner JOY.  The more we understand grace, the more gratitude we will have.  JOY from Thanksgiving shouldn’t be experienced just on the Legal Holiday.  It should be continual!

Kent Hughes writes, “A thankless spirit betrays a life which is no longer focusing on the greatness of Christ.”  If you don’t feel like being thankful today, it is probably because you’ve taken your eyes off of JESUS and putting them on your problems instead.

A Christian LIVING IT OUT!

The two verses in Colossians 2, verses 6-7 challenges us to…

1.  GROW downward–being “rooted.”

2.  GROW upward–being “built up”.

3.  GROW inward–being “strengthened in the faith.”

4.  GROW outward–as we “overflow with thankfulness.”

As Paul mixes up his metaphors, he also changes his verb tenses in order to show what happened to us and what we are responsible for.  In the list of 6 Word Pictures, I was able to find only two active verbs:

1.  To live continuously in Him.

2.  To be continuously thankful to Him.

Our task is to live surrendered to His preeminence, His supremacy; and to abound in giving thanks to what God has done for us in Christ.

So in Christ JESUS, have a JOYFUL THANKSGIVING THIS YEAR and in each and every day!

HELP WANTED! “Farm-Hands for The Harvest”

It’s Pickin Ready

NOW AFTER this the Lord chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two into every town and place…”

“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm hands are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”  (Luke 10:1, 2–Amplified Bible).

I was but a new Christian in 1974; 32 years old and on fire about sharing my faith with the lost.  One day after church, I approached the Associate Pastor, who was the pastor of Evangelism and Visitation.  I wanted him to know that I felt a calling to spread the Gospel, door to door, in the neighborhood surrounding the church.  I even quoted from my Bible the passage in Luke 10:2.

Pastor Sid thought it was a good idea and he would help in any way that I needed his help.  He would also place the notice in the church bulletin and announce the timing for the event from the pulpit.

I thought a Saturday morning at 10:30 would be a good time to knock on doors, with a strategy and prayer before we would leave the church.  No one but Pastor Sid showed up that morning.  We both tried again the following Saturday with the same results!  I was so discouraged.  Was I the only one in the entire church who had “the calling”? Was this whole idea just one that I made up in my mind or was it really from God?

THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL

In the agrarian or farming economy of Palestine, the harvest was an ever-present reality.  The idea of the harvest was used not only for bringing men and women to faith in Christ but also for a final gathering of God’s people at the end of the age (Matt. 13:19 and Rev. 14:15).  But here in Luke 10, Jesus has in mind an immediate harvest; a right now kind of harvest!

So often, we look at people with natural eyes, where Jesus looks at their spiritual readiness.  He sees the people of Judea as if they are a huge harvest, nearly ripe, ready for the pickin’.

Fields are typically planted so the whole field becomes ripe about the same time.  Seldom would you go into a field or orchard for selective picking.  Rather, when the whole field is ripe, you bring in the harvesters and reap the whole field at one time.

A HARVEST EVEN IN SAMARIA

While the disciples might hate the Samaritans, Jesus sees a harvest among them:

“Do you not say, It is still four months until harvest time comes?  Look! I tell you raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.    Already the reaper is getting his wages [he who does the cutting now has his reward], for he is gathering fruit (crop) unto life eternal, so that he who does the planting and he who does the reaping may rejoice together.    For in this the saying holds true,  One sows and another reaps.    I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled.  Other men have labored and you have stepped in to reap the results of their work”  (John 4:35-38–Amplified Bible translation).

How do you view the harvest in your community?  Perhaps all you see is the immorality, the apostasy, as represented by the Woman at the Well. 

But a word from Jesus can turn resistance to openness; unbelief to enthusiastic faith.  The answer is found in His word and His power!

THE WORKERS ARE FEW

“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm-hands are few”  (10:2b).

HELP WANTED!

Needed is an unlimited number

of hard-working and committed “farm-hands” with a willingness

and readiness to harvest the fields before they

become ROTTEN!

Plenty of kingdom “fringe benefits” for those who aren’t quitters. 

I am a city boy! Now like a lot of you, I’ve had vegetable gardens, and fruit trees to harvest from but I never required any “farm-hands” to help in the gathering.

Dr. Ralph Wilson is living at the edge of the California Central Valley.  He remarks, “Too few workers at harvest time can be a disaster!  The entire crop can spoil and rot in the fields UNLESS workers are available at the right time.  Workers who are willing to work very hard at the concentrated harvest season.”

Farmers rest in the winter months but during the long summer harvest season, they might be working night and day.  It’s HOT, SWEATY and MUSCLE ACHING work in thee fields and many avoid that kind of intense labor.

Fortunately, Jesus’ workforce is growing; from 12 to now 70!  But it is hard to find committed workers.  Too many people make excuses.  Just prior to the Sending Out of the seventy, Jesus said,

“Become my disciple, side with My party, and accompany Me!  But he replied, Lord, permit me to go and bury (await the death of) my father.  BUT Jesus said to him, Allow the dead to bury their own dead, but as for you, go and publish abroad throughout all regions the kingdom of God”  (Luke 9:59-60–Amplified Bible).

If you were to look at the average Christian congregation in America, how many of the members are actually involved in church “harvesting” activities?  It seems to me that many are involved in what meets their needs and their children’s needs, yet shy away from mission to meet others needs.  “Not in my church!”  Then good for you!

We have an abundance of churches in our community but few workers and perhaps few actual disciples.  Disciples are those who follow Jesus in His work; deny self, take up their cross daily and follow Him.  Their discipleship is not a matter of their own comfort but of Jesus’ mission.  Jesus seeks to recruit us as a worker in His harvest, not just  church attenders.

TOO FEW WORKERS?  THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM IS?

The answer is PRAYER:

Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”  (10:2c).

Why does Jesus say this to His disciples that the answer is PRAYER?  After all, it wasn’t their problem, it’s His.  He shares this answer because soon they will be the harvest foremen in need of workers.  They need to know how to deal with this need in some other way than beating up on the believers; by manipulation and guilt trips.

The word translated “send out” in this verse is noteworthy.  The Greek word is ekballo.  At the root level it means “drive out, expel“; literally, “to throw out forcibly”. 

Secondarily the connotation of force recedes with the meaning “send out“.  The root word ballo, “to throw,” is a violent word, the basis of the English word “ballistic“.

PRAYER is our most important recruitment technique, proceeding any other invitation to the work.  It is also Jesus’ pattern too!

Before He appoints the Twelve, He spends the night in prayer (Luke 6:12).  Who is the Lord of the harvest? God.  What does to ask mean in relation to God?  PRAY!  Ultimately, it is the Lord of the harvest who sends men and women out as His workers, not the foreman.  The foreman merely directs the workers that the Master hires and sends.

“A SENSE OF CALLING”; A NECESSITY!

What does a sense of calling look like?  The apostle Paul wrote,

For if I [merely] preach the Gospel, that gives me no reason to boast, for I feel compelled of necessity to do it.  Woe is me if I do not preach the glad tidings (the gospel)!”  (1 Corinthians 9:16–Amplified Bible)

Sometimes we make an arbitrary distinction between the clergy and the laity.  We use words like “vocation” (from the Latin word for “calling“); to describe a career path in the ministry.  I have heard people in the church say, “I thought I was called once into the ministry.  But now I am too old!”.  You are never too old, for “The harvest indeed is abundant” all around you.

Pastors are no more “called” than you and I to ministry.  That is to say, both you and professional ministers are called by God to serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses.  Whether you are a full-time Christian worker or a “tent-maker”; to earn a living like Paul (Acts 18:3).  You are no less called.

Are you a worker or farm- hand in the harvest?  Do you work in Jesus’ mission, out of a sense of personal calling, or out of duty and obligation to a human leader or organization?

By talking to God yourself, ask Him about what He has for you to do.  Get it from God Himself and then EXPECT!  Be confirmed by your Christian brothers and sisters by the fruitfulness in what He is calling you to do.

Evangelism is NOT a professional job for a few trained men, but it is instead the unrelenting of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.”  by Elton Trueblood.

An Evangelist, according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary: euangelizo, “to proclaim glad tidings,” “good news, gospel;” “a messenger of good,” denotes a “preacher of the gospel,”  Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11.

THE OUTCOME OF THE CALLING?

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!”  (Luke 10:17).

If that verse doesn’t give you the confidence and faith that you will need a laborers, I don’t know what will!

 

             

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