What You Value The Most
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
While without Jesus we can do nothing on our own as mentioned in John 15:5 (Vine/branches)
With Jesus, nothing is impossible. The demands and stresses of life can easily overwhelm any of us, but they are no match for the Risen Son Of God.
This afternoon, I want to talk about our values. Because as I was thinking about this message, I realized that we live our lives according to what we value. And one of the big stressors in life occurs when we aren’t living according to our values.
So, how can we do that? I kind of want to lay down the foundation as we look at values and how we can stay true to those values. We need to live lives in which our values and our actions are in one accord, lined up.
I don’t think we realize how much our values play into the decisions we make. In many respects, our values control everything that we do. Every time we make a decision… we're filtering that decision subconsciously or unconsciously through our values. If our values are right, it will lead to growth and maturity. If our values are wrong, we’ll eventually crash and burn.
Our values also effects our salvation. Jesus said it’s possible to be outwardly successful - financially, socially and every other way - and yet, be spiritually bankrupt. In Matthew 16, Jesus said…
25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Do you hear what Jesus is saying? What is it really going to get us, if strive to gain all the material goods, all the social glamour, all the prestige, if it means we don’t know Jesus? It’s not going to be a good ending. You are what you value. And for the rest of our time, I want to try to start to lay a foundation for our values, so that our values and our faith and our actions are all in agreement.
Our first decision is a decision about where we’re going to get our values from!
The source of our values will determine the quality of our values. For instance, would you consider the National Enquirer a good source for values? How about TV talk shows? The source determines how valuable our priorities are.
In reality, we get our values from a lot of places. We pick them up from our parents, friends, from books and magazines, from music, movies, television programs, from social media . . . and more.
Think about this for a minute. Everyone here works or goes to school. So…if you think about it, that’s anywhere from 8,10 or even 12 hours of your day. After the work load is done we go home to rest…correct? This is where all the other things of this world comes in…social media, tv, entertainment and so on. You all know what I mean, its life right!
Also, a small tidbit of information. If you attended church to worship God for one hour per week for 50 weeks per year, you would spend 4 months of your life worshiping God. Four months out of a year . . . so you tell me, where we are getting our values from? Keep in mind, worshipping God daily! Not just on Sundays or whenever you just feel like it.
1 John 2:15-16
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
Don’t tell me the Bible is outdated! This applied 2000 years ago and seems to be more relevant today! In a strange way, the world's values haven’t changed. We tend to want/distracted of what the world is throwing out at us.
And let me add . . . as a parent, it’s really difficult to tell your kids they can’t have what everyone else has. It’s a competitive world and we don’t want our kids to fall behind, or not have what all of the other kids have, but what values are we holding onto when we give in to the values of the world? That’s a daily tension for every parent. And I recognize that! I’ve been there, and I’m still there!
So, the media/world, bombards us with thoughts telling us we need more possessions, we need a better car, we need to eat certain food, drink certain drinks, wear certain clothes - - and so on. Why? Because if we do, we will be better liked. We’ll have the cool friends hanging out with us. We’ll be more popular… we’ll have it made! But will we? Is that really all there is?
In Romans 12, Paul wrote…
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Paul’s point is that when we conform to the world’s ways, we end up not being transformed by God, but we’re transformed by the world, buying into the worlds ways and we lose the ability to test and discern God’s will. Our filter isn’t God’s word, our filter, or values - is what the world demands.
So, when we use other sources for our values, we will miss out on following God and miss out on learning God's purpose for our lives.
The psalmist tells us in Psalm 1…
Blessed is the man. Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
Add to that so many passages from Psalm 119
9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
You see, the Bible is good for us. The Bible instructs us and helps us to know God better. And if we know God better, then that helps us in our desire to follow Him in all that we do. Without knowing the Bible, we struggle to know some of what is right and wrong.
This leads into the next way to help us have healthy values. And this one is a difficult one, because it causes us a lot of stress. The stress occurs when our values and our actions are not in agreement. It’s easy to have happen in our lives. When we recognize this, we find ourselves really stressed, because this brings internal conflict. Let me give you a few examples. Keep in mind, this applies to me as well. The message hits me first, before I deliver it to you.
If I were to ask you, ‘what’s the most important thing to you?’ There’s a good chance you would say family. My family is the most important thing in my life. Yet, we stress over the amount of time spent with our family. We work long days, are tired, use the TV and social media to pacify the kids, we buy them stuff to make up for time away. It’s been said the average father spends less than 20 minutes per day with his children. Yet, we say family is most important.
Here’s a thought while I was working on this message. We’ve all been to funerals, spoke with family members that had lost someone they loved. (spouse, child, parent and so on) the most common thing that I hear is the regret of not spending more time with them. Now listen…we’re all here listening to this message. Let’s not make that mistake. Our love ones don’t have to be taken away from us, just so that we can miss them and hoped that we have spent more time them. Life’s too short, tomorrow is not a promise!
Anyway… We might add, ‘my health is really important to me.’ Do you exercise? No. Do you eat right? No. Do you sleep right? No. But my health is important.
Lastly, it comes in our spiritual lives. We say, ‘God’s number one in my life.’ But we give Him our leftover time. We don’t put Him first. Are we praying? Are we reading the Bible? If something better comes up, we do it, with no thought about who God is. So is God really first. I know I’m stepping on toes. But if we are to be really healthy and find God’s purpose in our lives, we need to understand what it is we value.
When our values and actions are where they should - - we experience stress.
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.
And so I insist — that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore.
But that’s no life for you and me. Everything — and I do mean everything — connected with that old way of life has to go. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside.
Does that make sense? Does that describe us? Paul’s saying that shift in our values, starts with a focus on God. It’s not easy to change, YES I know this as well. That’s is why the opening verse is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. We talk about it, but never get there. Sometimes, we don’t have the energy and drive to get there. We want it, but we’re already so tired and feeling so overburdened.
And you're right. That's why we all need God. That's why we all need Jesus Christ. God gives you the power to do what He’s calling you to do. We can't do this on our own. We've tried to change - - and it never lasts. Trust me, I’ve been there. We need God's power.
We get God’s power to help us. He’s our power source.
To do that, we have to do more than just decide or write them down on a piece of paper. We’ve got to make this a daily endeavor. It’s doing the hard work in Christ. It’s trusting that Jesus is going to be there for us and with us. He’s not going to bail out on us when we mess up. He promises to be with us.
It’s taking the small steps of trusting God in areas of our life we possibly never have. It’s becoming more vulnerable with God.
1 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Everything that we’ll ever need is this life, is in the word of God. We just have to open it, read it, learn from it, trust it, LIVE IN IT! Remember…you are, “What You Value The Most”. And im really hoping and praying, that starting today…through this message, “what we value the most”, will be Jesus. If Jesus comes first/the most of value in our lives, He will take care of the rest.
Let Us Pray:
Knowing God Through Love
1 John 4:7-12
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
George Matheson was only fifteen when he was told that he was losing what little eyesight he had. Instead of giving up, Matheson immediately continued with his plans to enroll in the University of Glasgow, and his determination lead to his graduation at age nineteen. But as he pursued graduate studies in theology for Christian ministry, he finally lost his sight. His sisters joined ranks beside him, learning Greek and Hebrew to assist him in his studies. He pressed faithfully on.
But his spirit collapsed when his fiancée, unwilling to be married to a blind man, broke their engagement and returned his ring. He never married, and the pain of that rejection never totally left him. Years later, as a well-loved preacher in Scotland, his sister came to him announcing her engagement. He rejoiced with her, but his mind went back to his own heartache. He consoled himself in thinking of God’s love which is never limited, never conditional, never withdrawn, and never uncertain. Out of this experience he wrote the hymn, O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.
O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths it flow
May richer, fuller be.
WHAT IS LOVE?
Human love is very uncertain, and I am sure all of us here today have experienced rejection at some point in our lives. Like George Matheson we need to learn to lean on and trust God’s perfect love. His love is our hope and our goal. Being a Christian means that we learn to love like Jesus. From our opening text, how do we learn to love like Jesus? To learn what it means to love, first we have to understand what love is. Let us learn from our God what love is.
1.The Standard of Love (vs.7)
1 John 4:7-8
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
John gives us the basics of the Christian life here in this passage when he says LOVE ONE ANOTHER. God’s standard for us is that we are to love one another. That sounds easy enough doesn’t it? As long as we have positive feelings and get along with the people around us then we are doing fine. That is not really what it says. To understand what it means to love one another you have to understand what the word LOVE really means. There are three words in Greek which are translated as LOVE.
The first is word is PHILEO. This means brotherly love or friendship. This is the first level of love. You get to know someone… you enjoy being around them. Eventually you form a close friendship. In this church I am sure that there are people here that you LOVE hanging around with and are friends with.
The second word is EROS. This is the word for romantic love. This is the second level. Imagine a boy and a girl who have been friends for a long time. One day the guy says to the girl “I like you”. She says “I know, I like you too”. He says, “No, I mean I REALLY LIKE you”. She finally gets the message. He has moved from PHILEO love to EROS/romantic love.
The third word is AGAPE and this is the deepest level of love. This means sacrificial love. Imagine again that boy and girl. Eventually they get married and at first everything is perfect. However, one day they have a bad fight. At that point she does not love him as a friend and certainly not romantically. AGAPE love is not an emotion but a decision. It is an act of the will. Reaching out in AGAPE love draws them back together to work through their problems and eventually the relationship is restored.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Emotions are neutral. We feel what we feel. Emotions are neither good or bad. When Jesus commanded us to love one another He used the word AGAPE. This means that love is not an emotion but a choice. I could tell you right now “BE HAPPY” but you can’t just turn happiness on and off, because it is an emotion. The love that John is talking about here is this deepest level of AGAPE love. We are commanded to love one another sacrificially.
Sacrificial love means that we love others even when it costs us. It means we love even people who are different than us or the unlovely. It is choosing to give yourself to another person in a grace filled relationship and friendship.
(1 John 4:8 8He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.)
John goes on here to say that loving one another is not only our standard (what God expects from us and has commanded us to do) it is also a test of whether or not we truly love God.
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
If loving God is our greatest purpose then the second is loving people. Jesus says here that these two commandments are connected when He said the second is LIKE IT or the same as it. Part of loving God means loving His family. For example, if someone said that they really liked me but hated my wife, they would probably not be my friend. We are a package deal, accept one means accepting the other. John said it like this…
1 John 4:20
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
If you want to know whether or not you are really a Christian the test is simple; do you love God and do you love the family of God?
1 John 3:18-20
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
If we know God… then we will be loving people. A Christian is like a little Christ. We are to imitate our Master and act like our Savior. That’s what being a Christian is all about. We grow to become more and more like Him every day. God never intended us to live the Christian life in isolation. He has given us two institutions and both of them are based on relationships – family and the church. God expects us to have relationships with other people. One of the fruits of the Spirit is love. If you hate the church, then you have to ask yourself “where is the fruit?”
The Example of Love (vs. 9-10)
1 John 4:9-10
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Jesus did not tell us to do something that He was unwilling or unable to do Himself. He practiced what He preached. He gave us the ultimate example to follow so that we would truly understand what love really is. He modeled sacrificial love for us on the cross when He gave Himself completely for us.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
There is an old story about a man by the name of John Griffith, who lived in Oklahoma in 1929. He had lost all he had in the stock market crash. He moved to Mississippi where he took a job as bridge operator for a railroad trestle. In 1937 he was involved in a horrible accident. One day his 8 year-old son, Greg, spent the day with his Dad at work. The boy poked around the office and asked dozens of questions - just like little boys do. The bridge was over a river and when-ever a ship came John had to open the bridge to allow the ships to pass. The day the boy was there with his father a ship was coming so John opened up the draw bridge. After a moment or two he realized his son wasn’t in the office and as he looked around, to his horror, John saw his son climbing around on the gears of the draw bridge. He hurried outside to rescue his son but just then he heard a fast approaching passenger train, the Memphis Express, filled with 400 people. He yelled to his son, but the noise of the now clearing ship and the oncoming train made it impossible for the boy to hear him. All of a sudden John Griffith realized his horrible dilemma. If he took the time to rescue his son the train would crash killing all aboard, but if he closed the bridge, the boy we be crushed in the gears. John would sacrifice his son. He made the horrible decision, pulled the lever and closed the bridge. It is said, as the train went by John could see the faces of the passengers, some reading, some even waving, all of them oblivious to the sacrifice that had just been made for them.
The Application of Love (vs. 11-12)
1 John 4:11-12
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
Church…let me ask you a simple question as we close today. Do you love the people sitting around you this morning? I didn’t ask if you liked them (PHILEO love) or if you are romantically attracted to them (EROS love). Do you love them the way Jesus loves you? Do you accept them? Do you want what is best for them? Would you give of yourself for them?
The non-Christian, Greek writer Lucian who lived from A.D. 120-200 made an observation about Christians. He said, “It is incredible to see the fervor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator Jesus has put it into their heads that they are brethren.” Lucian said that Christians spare nothing. Sparing nothing is an indication of unconditional love.
Saint Jerome recounts that Saint John the Evangelist, living in Ephesus in his extreme old age, would be carried with difficulty into the church by his disciples. He had no strength for lengthy exhortation, but could only say, AGAPOMEN ALLELUS - Let us love one another. At length, the disciples and church members who were there, wearied by the repetition, asked, “Master, why do you always say this?” He replied “Because it is the Lord’s command and if that alone is done, it suffices.”
AGAPOMEN ALLELUS (Add to powerpoint)
Today that command is still with us – AGAPOMEN ALLELUS/Let us love one another. We all have different likes and dislikes. Some like more lively worship while others like more conservative. What do you say? AGAPOMEN ALLELUS/Let us love one another! Some young leaders have new ideas while others want to preserve our tradition--what do you say? AGAPOMEN ALLELUS/Let us love one another!
I just shared with you the story of John Griffith and the bridge. God once faced a similar dilemma. He could not save sinners and spare Jesus as well. How could He be just and justifier at the same time? God had to allow the jaws of death to close in on His Son. He allowed Jesus to give up His life for you and i. Millions every day go by oblivious and indifferent of this sacrifice. However, there is one tremendous difference between the two fathers. Unlike the Memphis Express that caught John Griffith by surprise, sending Jesus was not a panic move. It wasn’t a spontaneous decision. It was planned.
Jesus’ death was not the result of jealous Jews or hard-hearted Romans. It was the result of a loving God who saw there was no other way to save man. We all know what John 3:16 says, but do we also know what 1 John 3:16 says?
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
1 John 3:16
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
The love of God demands a change in our lives. We love one another out of the love we have received through Jesus. As we close the service today, I want us to think again about this story. We are going to show you a clip from a movie that was made around the story of John Griffith. The movie was made by a film company in the Czech Republic and is called MOST which means THE BRIDGE in Czech.
In Need Of Gods Wisdom
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
In this life, tests comes in all shapes and sizes. Some we anticipate, while others blindside us. Some tests requires us to endure...others asks us to make the right decisions immediately. Regardless of what tests comes our way, we are instructed to come to Him/God, for wisdom.
When God called on to Solomon, to ask for whatever he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. That is very smart lesson we can learn from king Solomon. You see…we will never have all the answers. Especially when it comes to life changing decisions. We try our hardest to come up with the right answers by looking into our options. Gods guidance and wisdom is more than sufficient for all the tests and trials we face in this life.
The first step in getting the guidance of God for our lives is admitting we need it. “v5Trust in the Lord with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding;” From God alone comes true help. He knows the right way to the right ends. He knows what truly benefits us. He is able to free us from that which does us harm. Therefore, it is our daily privilege and safety to place our confidence completely in Him and not in our-own feeble at best- judgment. For living without trust in God is like driving in dense fog.
We are commanded to trust God with nothing less than "all our heart"--and to obey Him in all our ways. That means total commitment to Him. The word translated trust means "to be helpless, face-down." It is the picture of one allowing another to do anything to him and will not oppose it. It is casting all hopes for the present and future upon God and finding shelter and security in Him.
Heart in Hebrew can refer to one's emotions but more often to the intellect or mind or the will. What God is saying is to cast upon our Lord our total trust. Not holding back in any area of our mind, will or feeling. That…church, is a major assignment.
You see…Man was created to be a trusting being, he is always leaning on some object. Think about it, when Adam was created, all he knew was to walk with God/follow God, Obey God. His consciousness of dependence is so deep that he dare not stand alone. Then sin came into his life. This trusting instinct, like all other instincts of his nature, has been sadly perverted by wrong direction. Everywhere man is leaning on the unworthy, the unreliable, and the undependable; hence constant disappointment and further confusion.
Everyone trust something or someone. Many trusts in a business, a company, a job, home, bank account, lands, friends, government, a spouse, their physical strength or mental ability. These are all good things, but they are not worthy of our primary and supreme trust. God alone is worthy of supreme trust. He is the object of complete trustfulness. The all merciful, all wise, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, Holy God. He alone will stand faithful and true in all the difficulties, tribulations and successes of life. He is the One and only all enduring Faithful One amidst the dissolutions of our existence.
It takes faith to get guidance. Remember what faith means…
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Most of us have had the experience of being in a strange place, trying to find an address. Usually we stop someone and ask for information. We have faith that the stranger we ask is going to lead us to the right place. When we are making decisions about specific problems in life, we go to an expert, a doctor, lawyer, or banker and trust them to give us the right counsel.
Choices, decisions, motives, intentions must all be directed to what God wants and what God can do. "Trust" steps onto the bridge of God's loving power and leaves the shoreline of our own abilities and ambitions behind. Such belief means literally to "bet your life" on God's truth and wisdom. “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
God wants us to trust Him with our lives and He promises never to lead us astray. Our all-knowing God loves us and will never give us wrong guidance. He has a perfect plan for our lives and wants us to follow His plan. We are to trust Him "with all your heart." When the soul attains complete trust in the Lord it can loosen every other bond and easily let go of all that the world offers. To reserve a little in our cleaving to Christ spoils all. It endangers our guidance and destroys our peace.
Note it says all your heart. The trust must be undivided for the double minded man is unstable in all his ways. It is to be supreme for man cannot serve two masters. Man is to trust but not as in dry dull duty but with the supreme affection and willingness that can only come from the human heart.
DON'T FULLY TRUST YOURSELF, 5b. “And lean not on your own understanding;”
We are also commanded not to lean on our fallen understanding. The warning is needed because if we lean on our own understanding, we will miss God's will. To lean here is to rest upon it in order to be strengthened or supported by it. Leaning has the sense of putting your whole weight on something, resting on and trusting in that person or thing.
God wants us to only lean on Him which will open up His ability to give not just natural but supernatural guidance. This does not mean we do not use our brain, for when God guides…He will not by-pass the brain and doesn't want us depending on our natural way of reasoning.
The warning is that we are not to depend on our natural reasoning, for God is a super-natural God and not limited to our shallow understandings. David would never have fought Goliath (or used armor and weapons that were unsuited for Him) if he reasoned as a man. Noah would have never built an ark in the desert. Abram would have never headed toward the promise land or been willing to offer up his son.
When we have an important decision to make, we sometimes feel that we can't trust anyone - not even God. But God knows what is best for us. He is a better judge of what we need. We must trust Him completely in every choice we make. We should not omit careful thinking or belittle our God-given ability to reason, but we should not trust our own ideas to the exclusion of God's. We must not be wise in our own eyes. We should always be willing to listen to and be corrected by God's Word. Bring your decisions to God in prayer, use the Bible as your guide and then follow God's leading. He will make your paths true by both guiding and protecting you.
Surrounded by clouds, rain, darkness or a storm a pilot may experience spatial confusion when his senses send misleading signals to the brain. Vertigo can cause a pilot to lose his sense of balance and try to fly his plane by "feeling." When he's in a storm or dense clouds, he may begin to think up is down, north is south, etc. If he doesn't trust his instrument panel, he'll soon be flying by the seat of his pants. Any aviator should know the warning signs of vertigo and how to reduce the danger: avoid flight conditions that may cause vertigo, never take it lightly, be familiar and proficient with the plane's instruments, and most important, trust the instrument panel.
If we're not careful in our walk with the Lord, we can be vulnerable to spiritual vertigo. Sometimes we're surrounded by problems-an account lost at work, a troubled marriage, a rebellious teenage, a serious illness or intense pain. We don't know which way is up. We feel like we're not standing on solid ground, we begin making all kinds of poor decisions, and our life spins out of control.
We need to be like the seasoned pilot who doesn't give in to the confusion of vertigo. That means we need to avoid situations where we could lose our spiritual focus, never take lightly the continual temptation to ignore spiritual truth, be familiar with biblical principles, and always-above everything else-trust the Bible, the spiritual instrument panel that will guide us to a safe landing. Avoid spiritual vertigo by staying grounded in the Word of God on a daily basis.
"Trust in the Lord" means that as we believe, pray, meditate on Scripture we will find the Holy Spirit renewing our minds, creating in us the mind of Christ and enabling us to think God's thoughts and follow God's guidance, all of which may at times be foolishness to the natural man.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
We now come to the second verse of our opening text…
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
The truly wise person is called upon to honor and obey God with his life in verse 6. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Notice the repetition of the often overlooked word all. "All your heart ... and all your way." Our trust in Him must extend to all our ways. Man's ways are many and men have different ways (determined by family, environment, education, attitude, character, mood, so on). Whatever way we walk, in whatever stage of life we're in, we should trust fully.
To receive God's guidance, said Solomon, we must acknowledge God in all our ways. "Acknowledge" is to honor and obey. Acknowledging not merely His existence, personality and power but His sovereign right to direct our way of life and living. This means turning every area of life over to Him. We yield our way to be subject to Him in thought, word, deed and aim of life.
Jesus emphasized this same truth…
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Look at your values and priorities. What is important to you? In what areas have you not acknowledged Him? What is His advice? In many areas of your life you may already acknowledge God, but it is in the areas where you attempt to restrict or ignore His influence that will cause you grief.
Make Him a vital part of everything you do, then He will guide you because, He will be working to accomplish His purpose. WE are to acknowledge God in all the ways of life. In the great things, to heal the sick, uphold the word, forgive sin and also turn over the management of the minor decisions of life.
Acknowledgment is seen in the recognition of His directives, and the acceptance of His claims. It will produce obedience. It is to recognize the gifts He has given us and to use them in His will. Instead of leaning on man-made crutches of our own devise, we are exhorted to recognize Him in all our ways. Acknowledging Him means to take the forces and abilities He has placed in our personality and character and to use them under His design and governance.
"In all your ways acknowledge Him." Not just Sundays, but Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Not just Christmas and Easter but all 365 days of the year. Not just when in public view but in the secret and hidden ways of the life, mind and heart. In the light and in the dark; in the shop as well as in the sanctuary; in the valley as well as on the mountain top; at play as well as at work in all thy ways.
PROMISED DIRECTION, 6b. “And He shall direct your paths.”
Now here in the last clause of verse 6 the word of promise for those who will exercise their faith by honoring and obey. "And He shall direct your paths."
Observe what advantage true trust receives. True trust receives God's guidance by simply following God's leading. He leads those who trust in Him to the right end by making their path plain before them. His guidance secures safety amidst all perils and joy amidst all sorrows.
The word for "direct" in Hebrew means "to make smooth, straight, right." The verb (is in the stem which) suggest intensity. The Lord will thoroughly direct and protect. His guidance is there in which car, house or dress to buy. Which school to go to, what college major to consider, which job to take. What to do… not only Sunday morning and evening but each and every morning and evening.
The personal pronoun "He" is packed with all the tender love of our Father. No evil can baffle if He directs the path. No enemy can prevent the final realization of His purpose. No obstacles can hinder if He leads. No opposition can overcome if He guides. No crises can overwhelm the wisdom of God, no events surprises Him. Oh, the safety of being in the will of God. "He shall direct your paths."
ITS Not always in easy or pleasant paths, but always in right paths. Not necessarily in those I would have chosen, but always in paths which lead to eternal success. The paths that He directs lead always, through mist and mystery, through battle and bruising, to fulfill the meaning and purpose of our life.
Trust in God is what He uses to raise a person up in the likeness of God. Reason can take one only so far. It cannot soar, it cannot rise heavenward. The eyes of the heart, the inward faculty that God has given a person, makes him go onward and upward.
Once you are leaning on God's direction, you can have self reliance. Thank God for your intellect. Respect it, train it, feed it with the choice fruits of the tree of science but don't lean on it as an infallible guide. At best our intellect's eyes are very dim, its ears heavy and its limbs feeble. The light of any man's reason is far too feeble to guide us safely to the eternal city.
"He will make a way, where there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see; He will make a way for me."
The final test of life is beyond the things of time & sense. It will be a test of fire, only that which cannot be destroyed will remain. In the light of that final test if we would make our lives successful, we must begin right. What is the 1st step. Surrender. What is the plan of life, the pathway to the BEST end? Obedience. Confronting everyone of us today, God in Christ asks for our lives.
Who are you trusting with your life? Yourself or God? Do you look to your own intellect, abilities, and strength? Or do you trust the Lord?
Most of us would say that we are trying to trust the Lord, but we have trouble resting in that trust. We feel compelled to help God out by rearranging the circumstances. Or at least we feel obliged to do a little sanctified worrying,
There are two problems with trusting ourselves. First, we do not always have enough wisdom to know, what is the right thing. Second, we do not have the power or capacity to be in control. God lacks neither wisdom nor power.
God keeps His promises when we obey His precepts, because our obedience prepares us to receive and enjoy what He has planned for us. Heed His warning about leaning on our or any other man's understanding and thus missing God's perfect will for our life.
Dead To Sin, Alive To God
6 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
The essence of our salvation lies in both grace and faith. Grace means we did not get what we deserve, condemnation and death, because a sinless Christ received, what He did not deserve, God’s righteous wrath! He who holds the “keys of heaven, earth and hell” died once and for all and in doing so “His grace delivered us not merely from punishment but from sin’s power.” In his letter to the church of Rome, Apostle Paul states that the law was brought in so that trespass might increase, when sin increases, grace increases even more (Romans 5:20).
While it would be “foolish” to place oneself under the works of the law (Galatians 3) does this mean that Paul is suggesting that the believer is now free to go on sinning so that grace might increase and further display the glory of God? Also, if the law and its righteous decrees are not to be followed, what then is to be the Christian’s benchmark on how to live a holy life, pleasing unto God? In Romans 6:1-14 Paul states the answer to these questions are to be found in knowing what it means to have union with Christ in His death, resurrection and walk.
WE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW:
Imagine for a moment what it must have been like to be a Gentile believer during the time of Apostle Paul. How would one feel hearing Paul and Barnabas at Antioch… argued with the “Judaizers” over their teaching that grace and faith were not enough to become saved, one must also be “circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses” (Acts 15:1)? Wouldn’t one be worried that if this one command could be added what would stop some of those Pharisee believers (15:5) from enforcing the full 613 commands of the Old Testament?
Any Gentile that tried to place themselves back under the works of the Law for Paul was cursed, for it was by faith that Abraham was credited as righteous in God’s sight (Galatians 3:6) long before he was circumcised and under the law (Romans 4:11).
The first four chapters of the Book Of Romans, makes it very clear that we cant save ourselves. We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23) But because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross…by faith we are justified freely by God’s grace.
Jesus has done for us what you and I cannot do! Jesus has won for you and I, Gods full approval. We cannot have grace without the cross. But because of the cross, we have full access to God’s grace!
DO WE HAVE LICENCE TO SIN?
This brings us to the main question Apostle Paul is trying to answer in today’s passage:
6 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
While union with sinful Adam brought us condemnation and death, union with a sinless, resurrected Christ brings us justification to be eternally adopted into God’s family.
(1 Corinthians 15:21) God does not reckon us “righteous” or acceptable as a member of His family based on our deeds (Titus 3:5) but on Christ’ (Romans 5:18) who has never sinned and fallen short of His glory!
Critics, who considered Paul to be an antinomian (3:8; Acts 2:21), feared that his view of grace would lead to rampant sin and an utter disregard for holiness! After all, if the basis of our forgiveness, salvation and acceptance into God’s family is solely based on the deeds of Christ, then why not indulge in the short-term pleasures of sin and in doing so let the grace of God shine even brighter? To keep Christians from distorting grace and making it a license to sin, Paul reminded believers that their union with Christ in death and resurrection means they are obligated to walk as He did!
Union with Christ in His Death (verses 6:2-3, 6-7)
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Grace is not a license to sin because of our union with Christ in His death. “When Christ died, believers in some crucial sense died in and with Him.” Even though baptism is not the means of obtaining union with Christ it symbolically attests to our “old self” being crucified on the cross with Jesus. Those who are united with Christ are no longer condemned and have been freed from the entanglement and power of sin. Even though the old self has been crucified it is a “slow and agonizing death” that leaves the believer open to being influenced by their old nature.
While it is possible for believers to still sin, they are to rejoice that in their union with Christ in His death the claim of sin to rule over our lives has been eternally broken. Since those who are part of this new creation order (2 Corinthians 5:17) have died to sin they are not to go on living in it because the “I” of the life of Adam no longer lives inside the believer, only Christ (Galatians 2:20)! The reason why we do not sin so that grace might increase is because when Christ died, we died and therefore are not justified to continue living sinful lives.
Union with Christ in His Resurrection: (8-11)
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
One day, the sin that still dwells in our unredeemed bodies will be eradicated/to do away completely. Until then, we are to draw on the power of the Spirit to put to death the sin that still wants express itself, and obey God for His glory.
Grace is not a license to sin, also because of our union with Christ in His resurrection. On the third day Christ, who did not live for self but to do the will of God the Father, in His sinlessness, He rose from the dead and forever conquered the grave and the mastery of sin and death. In doing so Christ paid our debt and provided the means in which those who believe in Him might have new life in Him.
Those who participate in Christ’s resurrection are born of the Spirit and now have God’s assistance to grow into the likeness of His Son. Since our old lives have been crucified with Christ Paul states... the believer is not to continue to live as if nothing happened. But to obey Gods commands, to secure the salvation they already have, so that their deeds might reflect thanksgiving for grace and point the world to God the Father in heaven. Surely, He who died once and for all has the right and expectation that believers would be holy as God is holy.
Walking with Christ: (verses 12-14)
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Paul finished this section of his letter by concluding that grace is not a license to sin but the means of justification and sanctification! Even believers are still “diseased, irritable, and inclined to self-assertion and self-distraction,” this does not mean that sin has mastery or is to be the lord of the believer’s life. The death and resurrection of Christ has broken the power of sin and as such has freed the believer to choose which master, Satan or God that they want to serve.
Even though “sin wants to capture and rule over” the believer, through the power of the Spirit, one can chose to surrender one’s mind, heart, body and soul to faithfully obey one’s Creator! While the law demanded righteousness but could not produce it, grace removes condemnation and He who is faithful and has freed us… has enable us to be holy as He is holy. Considering Paul’s teachings will you continue in sin or will you resist the passions and “subtle suggestions of evil,” embrace faithful obedience and draw nearer to God so that He might draw hearer to you? Will you choose to live your life dead to sin and alive in Christ? Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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