A Living Sacrifice

 

“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.” Romans 12:2

 

Do you ever feel like you spend all of your energy fighting and trying to find peace? Do you feel like the enemy is working overtime to make you doubt, to give up? Well, I’m sure he is, but fortunately for us, God has given us direction on how to handle this battle and WIN.

Our minds can become so cluttered with negative thoughts. Worry, anxiety, fear…

These thoughts can also lead to feelings of rejection, unworthiness, hopelessness—the list goes on. This is because when those thoughts are allowed to come into the mind, they quickly travel to the heart. These thoughts and feelings are certainly not of God, so why do we choose to entertain them?

We were discussing racism last Thursday in youth group.  When I asked if anyone has ever been bullied becaue of their race, I was amazed how many put a hand up.  I then asked them how did it felt.  Some said it hurt because “they don’t really know me for who I am” and others were so angry.  Media is helping propel their minds into a hateful generation. They don’t even realize how much the world is bringing them into fear, hate and all negative thoughts.  We are conforming to the pattern of this world… and Romans is directing us to transform what God’s perfect will is for us.

Most times, we don’t even realize what’s happening. That’s how crafty the enemy can be. Remember that Peter warns, “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

When the enemy tries to enter, we must meet him at the door…do not let him take another step. We must focus our eyes on Jesus and keep our minds filled to the brim with God’s word, so there is no room for Satan’s lies.

Powerful but so true! 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus! 

Arm yourself with scripture and let it fill your thoughts with the WORD of God.

Let it renew your mind, calm your spirit, and bring your joy and contentment to light.

Holy Spirit is a Guider

 The Road Not Taken 

Who remembers reading the poem, “The Road Not Taken” from your English Literature class? Written by Robert Frost in 1915 here’s a few verses: 

 

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both 

And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could 

To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

 

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference. 

 

 

Walk 

 

The Bible also speaks much about divergent roads and not being able to travel both. Here’s a few. 

Psalm 1:1  

Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked  

or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 

 

Proverbs 4:18, 19  

18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  

19 But the path of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. 

 

 

 

 

…and Jesus’ well-known teaching in Matthew 7:13,14  

 

13 Broad is the road is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 

14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 

 

In these passages, traveling on paths and roads is a metaphor for how we live during our “four-score-and-ten” on this planet. In similar fashion to the prophets, poets, and Jesus, Paul posits only two possible roads upon which we can walk. Which is which and which one should we take? As we conclude our “Holy Spirt Is” series today let’s find out.  

 

 

Sin Road 

One of the roads is called the “Sin Road.” This is the road of allowing our sinful nature to guide us. John Piper explains: 

 

Fallen human nature that prefers …  

independence, power, prestige, and worldly pleasures. 

 

People who choose to go down this road traffic in the elements of Galatians 5:19-21 . 

 

19 Sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,         21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. 

 

 

Wow!  

Paul must have watched one of our daytime soaps or this year’s Superbowl half-time show (ancient cultures were way more pagan but we are catching up). in Romans 8:5-9 Paul says that people who head down sin road are “hostile to God, won’t listen to God’s law, and cannot please God.” Truly sin road is the road most traveled! However, what is its final destination? Let’s look at Galatians 5:21: 

Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

 

 

Spirit Road 

 The other road is the “Spirit Road” which Paul strongly suggests we navigate in Galatians 6:15: 

 

Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 

We travel Spirit Road by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and control our lives. In other words, taking him as our Uber Driver! People who travel down this road, “Do what God wants, what the HS desires, and thus enjoy life and peace” (Romans 8:5-9) and enjoy the life spoken about in Galatians 5:22-23: 

 

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 

 gentleness and self-control. 

 

 

Going down Spirit Road means not only NOT giving into the desires of our sinful nature but crucifying every one of them (Galatians 5:24)! Romans 14:17 tells us the final destination of Spirit Road: 

 

Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

 

 

Sin Trafficker or Spirit Traveler? 

 Knowing that there are two divergent roads we need to ask whether we are Sin Traffickers or Spirit Travelers? Depends on what day it is, right? The reason we sometimes jump lanes, take detours, and hit spiritual potholes (sometimes we the windshield sometimes bug!) is because of the dynamics of Galatians 5:17. 

 

The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 

 

 

 

 

 

*1st Car Wreck-Fighting Over the Wheel* 

 

There’s an all-out power grab (war) for control of our souls every second of every day. Similar to my first car crash, our sinful nature is trying to take the wheel of our lives while the Holy Spirit is fighting to do the  same. According to Romans 8:3-4 one of the cardinal reasons Jesus was crucified was to disempower our sinful nature and allow the HS to reign in, and over, us. The one we surrender to will eventually take over our lives and determine our destiny. So if we care deeply about the quality of our lives in the “here-and-now” and then the “there-after” we will certainly travel down the road less traveled, i.e., the Spirit Road. How do we do that? We must learn how to “walk in the Spirit.”  

How do we do that? Positively, we commit to the classic spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, public worship, giving, and serving.  

 

Today however, I want to add three additional things.   

 

How To Walk in the Spirit 

 The 1st is to watch what we watch. I think we can all agree that most things we are visually exposed to, whether on TV or online, are designed to scintillate and stimulate, fascinate and facilitate our sinful nature. Not everything, but most, so we need to apply Philippians 4:8 to our viewing habits…  

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

Watching what we watch is one way to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). 

 

The 2nd way is to listen to what we listen to. Beats and rhythms attract us to certain songs, but lyrics matter because they stick in our brains. Are they pulling us to Christ or away from Christ? When in doubt, again apply Philippians 4:8 (even to people).  

 

 The 3rd way we walk in the Spirit is to mind our mind. Have you ever done a mind monitor test to think about what you think about? To see what dominates your thinking? If so, are your thoughts mostly positive or negative, godly or ungodly, fear-full or faith-full? They say successful people think better than unsuccessful people so if we want successfully walk with the Spirit down Spirit Road how much more do we need to mind our minds? Or in the language of Romans 12:2, “Let God transform us into a new people by changing the way we think.” 

  

 

 

Conclusion:  

The Spirit Wants to Walk With Us 

 The great news is that the HS wants to be our Divine Guide as we travel down Spirit Road all the way to the glorious future he has prepared for us. Before we go to Holy Communion, let’s pray that he will empower us to watch what we watch, listen to what we listen to, and mind our minds. In that way, we will indeed be taking the road less traveled and that, my dear friends, will make all the difference. 

 

Sermon Notes

                                                 Who Killed Jesus?

 The question I most often get asked this time of year is who killed Jesus? I usually answer…

 

  1. For sure God did. Before he even spoke the physical universe into existence he designated his Son to be the “Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth” (Revelation 13:8).

 

  1. For sure the Romans did. They were highly efficient to kill off any threat, perceived or otherwise, that would undermine their status as the world’s superpower.

 

  1. For sure the Jews did. In their eyes, Jesus was a backwoods, blaspheming, disrupter who constantly out-smarted them, stole their thunder, and mis-used the Holy Name of God.

 

  1. For sure his followers did. When Jesus was at his arrest and trial, they gave him no sustained defense or advocacy. Instead they ran away scared and confused.

 

  1. For sure Peter one of his closest friends did, denying that he even knew him, not once, twice, but three successive times.

 

  1. For sure Judas did. They say, “everyone has a price” but to sell off your beloved rabbi for a measly 30 pieces of silver? Come on man!

 

  1. For sure the demonic powers did. From the second Jesus was virginally conceived by the HS they plotted to snuff him out. It took them 33 years to get the job done but boy, they got the job done!

 

  1. For sure the Palm Sunday Praisers turned “Good Friday Hell Raisers” did. “Hosanna in Highest” one minute “Crucify him” the next, and then trading him in for a career criminal called Barabbas.

 

  1. For sure we did. He was crucified for Adam’s sinful race so anyone who has ever sinned was complicit in the killing of God on “Good Friday.”

 

So if you are keeping score at home that’s no less than nine distinct entities representing the larger parts of Heaven, Hell, and Earth that ultimately killed Jesus. As John Stott puts it

 

It’s hard enough for us to grasp, let alone to feel, how completely the verdict seemed to go against Jesus. He had been condemned in a Jewish court for blasphemy. He was then sentenced and executed for sedition by the Romans. Worse he had been hung on a tree and therefore cursed by God. After that, he was taken down from the cross and buried, which was the final touch in disposing him. The public rejection of Jesus could not have been more thorough. At every dimension he was finished: judicial, political, spiritual, and physical. Religion, Satan, law, humans, and death all conspired to wipe Jesus from the face of the earth.

 

 

The Holy Spirit Did It

 

But that was Friday, and how many do you know that today ain’t Friday? It’s Sunday, Easter Sunday, therefore, we ask not who killed Jesus but who resurrected Jesus? Who performed that earth shaking, hell quaking, heaven rocking, history making miracle? One, and only one, person. Paul tells us who in Romans 8:11

 

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

 

It was the HS who performed the granddaddy of all miracles by raising  Jesus from the dead. Peter mentioned this marvelous move of the HS in the message he delivered on the Day of Pentecost

 

Acts 2:23 This [Jesus] was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

 

 To our beloved guests I just want to pause and say we are so glad you are here celebrating with us the greatest day of the year. You caught us at a great time because for the last couple of months we have been studying the Trinity, most recently, the 3rd Person of the Trinity, the HS. We have taken great pains to clarify that He is a person, not a force or an it, and is fully God as the Father is fully God and as the Son is fully God. So as we continue that series today, we want to throw a bright hot spot light on his role in resurrecting Jesus and why that is nothing but Great News for us this morning.

 

Egero

 The word Paul used for “raised” transliterates as “egero” which means to “raise to life, make live again.” The first person to use this word in connection with Jesus’ resurrection was an angel when he announced to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and a few other woman (Matthew 28:6)

 

Jesus is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

 

Paul uses the word again in I Corinthians 6:14.

 

And God has both raised up the Lord,

and will raise us up from among [the dead] by his power.

 

And 2x in Colossians 2:12

 

Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

 

Although there is absolutely no etymological connection, I love the word egero because it sounds so much like my last name and also because that’s a whole lot of raising! And that’s the work of the HS. That’s who he is. He is the life-raising, life-granting, and life-giving Spirit.

 

The Death Downer

Before we get to the wonderfully great thing he can do for us I want to alert you to a grim reality. As a pastor, I don’t want to be a “Donnie Downer” but I must tell you that the latest scientific data and medical studies have conclusively demonstrated that the human mortality rate has been hovering around 100% and has been maintaining that rate as long as anyone can remember. The Bible calls death a “sting” and we all have been stung or will be stung by it. It’s not even a matter of where or what but only a matter of when. But the sole reason we are here this morning is to celebrate the incredible phenomenon that Jesus was raised by the HS precisely to defeat death. This improbability prompted Paul to rhetorically ask, in 1 Corinthians 15:55

 

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

 

Egerod!

How many do you know that death cannot sting us “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us?” “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us” we don’t have to fear death. “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us” we don’t have to dread the future. “If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us” we don’t have to fear the afterlife. Why? Because the HS will quicken our mortal bodies, i.e., he will “egero” us just like he “egerod” Jesus. He will raise us to new life not only at the end of history but also right now with a new life, new hope, new joy, new peace, new purpose, and new love.

 

Conclusion: IF

You great grammarians instantly recognize that a sentence containing an “IF” instantly indicates a conditional clause. “IF that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you” all of this raising and resurrecting is ours to experience now and forevermore. How do we get the HS in us and turn that conditional clause into an experiential reality? Simply give your life to the One called (Revelation 22:13),

 

The Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

The one who was once dead but is alive forevermore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you really want to go back?

Love God How to #3 part 5

 

Love God How #3

Daily Devotion by Pastor John

July 14, 2020: The God Who Is Always Close (Psalm 34:18)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

In this beautiful psalm, David writes about a God that has immense compassion for his suffering people. Incredibly, he pens this glorious truth while hiding out in a dark and damp cave feigning insanity as a way to avoid the pointy spear of his archenemy, King Saul. Saul was on a very public rampage to snuff out David before he could wrestle away Saul’s kingdom/kingship from him.

David is “brokenhearted” because after the prophet Samuel anointed him to succeed Saul as king (mainly due to the latter’s obstinance and ungodliness) he thought his life would instantaneously be “onward and upward.” His reality, however, turned out to be anything but. It had been nothing but one big downward spiral. Thus, discouragement had set in and “crushed” his spirit.

Despite the fact that life happens when we are making other plans (or when our plans go awry), God loves to be “close” to us and “save” us. He does so by ministering to our pain, comforting our souls, and healing our spirits. So if you are brokenhearted today, don’t hesitate to cry out to God and let him know your anguish. But remember, you don’t have to be very loud because he is right there with you and has been the entire time.

Resurrection Tranformation lll

Continued series – Resurrection Transformation lll
We can be transformed See how…

Resurrection Transformation ll

Resurrection Transformation ll
Have you heard of Thomas? “Doubting Thomas”?
The continuation series with Peter, Now Thomas has to see for himself, or does he?
See for your self.

Resurrection Transformation l

Sunday Message from Pastor Rev. John R Guerre talks about Jesus and His post-resurrection appearance with his disciples. Shaky Doubt to Unshakable Devotion. Its the first of the upcoming series – Resurrection Transformation.