Sunday, April 15, 2018

Romans 13:11-14 - the AfterBlog

Why This Blog?
Often, when hearing a sermon, it’s easy to leave the service, and not keep what you learned, or were challenged to, in front of you. 
As soon as church is over, it’s easy to get distracted by where you’re headed for lunch, what you need to get done before evening church, and other tasks on your “weekend to-do list.”

To help with that, below is a summary of the major points and application points from today’s sermon. You should be able to read through this blog in three or four minutes. 

The main theme of today’s passage, Romans 13:11-14, is Sanctification.

Sanctification is simply spiritual growth - the efforts we make to be more like Jesus.

Sanctification is an Urgent Matter - of the utmost importance
1 Peter 1:15be holy in all your conduct

As the passage opens, there’s an emphasis on  Urgency.
When we think about the imminent return of Christ, that He IS coming back, one immediate implication is that we need to tell as many as we can about the hope found only in Him.

Paul is calling us to wake up from our spiritual sleep and stop being apathetic in your spiritual life.

There are some general guidelines that help us think through evangelism within the framework of urgency:
Evangelistic Thinking 101
• Time is Short
1 Corinthians 7:29 – the appointed time has grown very short
verse 11b salvation is nearer to us now...

Some questions to consider:
• Do you realize that you’re accountable to God for how you use your time?
2 Corinthians 5:10 – we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 
Time is a resource that He’s given you just like your money, job, home, car, etc. 
• Think about how much time you’ve wasted already
• How might you improve the “present time?”

Looking at the rest of the passage, verses 12-14, there’s a distinct focus on the “how” of sanctification. 
Sanctification is being clothed with Christ. 
Galatians 3:27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
It’s an idea that’s synonymous with salvation
A Christian that’s not pursuing holiness is an oxymoron - it just doesn’t make sense.

The basic idea -
Put Off - sin
Put On - holiness

Verse 14 -is a beautiful conclusion.
It’s the summary of what sanctification looks like: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. 

This is an action – something that we do. 
The key word is “provision”
It has to do with planning.
How will you plan for your sanctification?
How will you plan to cast off the works of darkness and put on Christ?

How to Pursue Sanctification
Five simple (but not easy) steps:
1. Know the Word
John 17:17 – Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

You cannot achieve sanctification apart from the Word of God. 
It will come through:
hearing - like what you’re doing now
reading - this should be a daily thing
studying - don’t be content to just read
memorizing - hide God’s Word in your heart
meditating - all of those lead to meditation
on God’s Word. 

Simply put - you need to be saturating yourself in God's Word daily. Seek to continually grow in your knowledge of all that Scripture teaches. 

2. Seek to be Changed
Romans 12:2 – Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. 
Don't just read, but read looking to be changed by what God's Word is doing in your mind and heart. 
We all need to be corrected by God’s Word in some way - at some point

3. Increasing Desire
Psalm 19:10 – [Gods’s Word is] More to be desired... than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 
Don't just read for information - pray for the Lord to change you as you saturate yourself in His inspired Word (Hebrews 4:12)

When you’re ready to be serious about growing in God’s Word and in holiness (they go together) - Read Psalm 119 - and as you read it, keep track of all the times there’s a reference to delighting in or loving God’s Word

4. Make a List
Search Scripture for the lists that tell you what to do and what not do to. What to put off and what to put on. Colossians 3 is a great place to start. Whenever there's a list - note what's on the list. Keep a list of all the commands of Scripture somewhere and refer to it often.

5. Do It Together
Hebrews 10:24let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works
We’re not meant to live the Christian life alone. 
God intends for us to do this together. 
Everyone helping one another. 
You need the Body and the Body needs you.
How are you encouraging others to grow spiritually? What is your "default conversation" with other believers? Can you re-set that to have a more spiritually focused dynamic?
Who will you encourage spiritually today?

Let’s all daily re-commit ourselves to: Following Jesus TOGETHER

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection!

Good afternoon everyone!

As you think toward our worship gathering this Sunday, here are a few things you can do to prepare your heart so that we can make the most of our time together. 

The passage we’ll be studying is Romans 13:8-14. Read Romans 12 and 13 a couple of times between now and then, and think through the following questions from 13:8-14:
1. What do we owe one another?
2. What commandments are referred to? Why did Paul list the ones he did in verse 9?
3. Think about the phrase “are summed up in this word” - what is summed up? What is the summary statement it points to?
4. What do we need to wake up from? 
5. Could any of the “works of darkness” in verse 13 be present in your life?
6. What does it mean to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ? Where else in Scripture do we see the “put off/put on” idea?
7. In what ways could you be making provision for the flesh? 

Here are the songs we’ll be singing together:
Christ Is Risen - 

Our choir will be singing "My Ransom" this Sunday - what an amazingly beautiful song and a beautiful expression of what Christ has done for us!
Jesus Messiah

 Grace Greater Than Our Sin - this is one of my top five favorite hymns!! I could sing this every week. 

Trust and Obey - Love this version by Big Daddy Weave

Be praying for our time together that we are all able to engage in intense, focused exaltation of our Risen Lord TOGETHER!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Preparing for our Time TOGETHER this Sunday

Preparing Your Heart for Worship - March 11, 2018

As we finish Romans 12, the checklist turns outward in its focus without setting aside how we are to love one another genuinely. As we always seek to live out the gospel in the details of our daily lives, what we’ve seen so far is that it should not only impact how we live together (in faith, love, and unity) but also be evident in how we relate to those outside the Body. 

The Catechism
What a joy it’s been to walk through the Catechism together! To see our children learning Christian doctrine and not just learning it, but memorizing it has been so great. Even my three year old asks to do catechism each evening. I know that the concept and idea of a catechism is still new and different to many, but the Christian community has used the catechism as a method of teaching biblical doctrine to children for hundreds of years and I look forward to seeing the impact it has not just on our children in the years to come, but also to our entire church.  

Call to Worship
It is God Himself who calls us to worship. In the Scriptures we read, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord,” and “Serve the Lord with gladness.” In writing these Holy Spirit inspired words, the Psalmist is speaking for God as He calls His people to worship. When we begin our time together with a call to worship we are not inviting God to be present, he is inviting us to “Come into His Presence.” He calls us to turn away from all of our preoccupations, join our hearts and minds as His people, and exalt Him together. 

Hosanna (Praise is Rising) and Praise Him Praise Him
As we begin our time together, these two songs are a great declaration of the reason we have gathered - to praise and exalt our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Prayer of Praise
This prayer reflects, let by one of our men, is intended to engage our minds in praising God. As the prayer concludes, when we all say “Amen” we’re voicing our agreement with the one who is leading us. We’re saying, “YES, we’re here to praise Him together!”

Bringing Tithes and Offerings
During the month of March, through Resurrection Sunday, we’re taking an additional offering for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. While we do give to this fund year round through our regular tithes and offerings, we set a goal of giving $5,000 over and above our regular tithes to missions in North America. Churches from Canada to the U.S. to Mexico (including the Church @ Affton) benefit from this offering.  

We sang this song a couple of weeks ago. The words of this song are a wonderful expression of what the cry of our heart should be in response to what Paul writes in Romans. Be sure and listen to the tune and read the lyrics a few times. I’m really looking forward to singing this song with everyone again this Sunday.

In Christ Alone
As we prepare to dig into Romans 12, we need to always remember that the foundation of what we’re studying is the first 11 chapters of Romans. Romans 12:12 says to “rejoice in hope,” and this song is a wonderful expression of where our hope is found. 

Sermon: A Manual for the Christian Life, part 2, Romans 12:9-21
Read through Romans 12:9-21 several times between now and Sunday morning and think through the “checklist” that it presents. Think about how you might follow the commands of this passage in the details of your daily life.

Blest Be the Tie that Binds
This song, written in 1782 by John Fawcett (who wrote over 100 hymns), beautifully expresses the unity that we have in Christ and how it should be lived out in the life of the Body. Many of the ideas and commands of Romans 12 are found in this song. 

Be Praying for:
• Rex, the worship team, and choir as they prepare to lead us musically this Sunday.   
• Pray that we all come together on Sunday with hearts prepared to engage in intense, focused exaltation of God. 
• Pray that we are obedient to God’s commands and strive for the unity He desires of us.
• Pray for me as I prepare to preach God’s inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative Word. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Checklist

Remember - it's not just a simple "check!" and I'm done - but this is a tool to help US constantly examine OUR hearts as we strive to BE the Body of Christ TOGETHER:

• The Checklist:
Pursuing Genuine Love

__ Hate Evil (first in myself)
I must hate the evil in my own life more than that I might see in anyone else’s life. 

Matthew 7:1-5 – We are to be pursuing sanctification together
Psalm 1 – It’s absolutely critical that we surround ourselves with those who will encourage us toward holiness. 

__ Cling to Good
1 Peter 1:15-16 - Pursue righteousness - holiness -sanctification
HOW are you pursuing righteousness?

What specific things are you doing toward that end?
(make a list, write it down)

__ Pursue Family kind of Love
Think of your fellow Christians (especially those who are members of your church) in terms of brother & sister. Use the terms regularly.

__ Setting the example of love 
Look for a way to encourage, honor, praise, compliment one person each day this week. 
• a text message
• a note
• a phone call
• a personal conversation
• drop by their house with cookies
• take flowers to a widow or someone who is homebound

__ Passionately serve the Lord
Pursue serving the Lord, using your unique gifting, by serving others in the Body.

__ Hope in Christ
Are you intentional about not only forming your thoughts around the gospel, but also encouraging others with those same thoughts. 
Our only hope is in Christ. In who He is and what He has done. 
Be intentional to keep that in the front of your mind. 

__ Perseverance
It’s our hope in Christ that gives us the ability to do this. 
__ Prayer
We need to be praying both in unity and for unity. 
Pray the Lord’s Prayer - when are being obedient as a Body, we become a picture of the Kingdom of God, glorify Him, and it makes the gospel look beautiful to a watching world. 

__ Tangible Assistance
How are you helping others in specific, tangible ways?
There are 1,000 things you could do - the idea is.... DO IT!
showing that this entire passage

John 13:35By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

James 1:22-25 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 

As you spend time in God’s Word and in prayer this week, be sure to be praying for our Body. Pray that we would all exhibit the Marks of the True Christian that are found in Romans 12:9-21. Be reading the passage daily in preparation for our time together this Sunday. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Romans 12:3-8 - the short version....

As you seek to put God's Word into action and worship Him with your whole body each day, here's a summary of this past Sunday's message:

Romans 1-11 lays out the gospel foundation that chapters 12-16 are built on. 
As we begin our study of these chapters, 
This is what the Christian life looks like, so we should pursue these things passionately

Verse 3 - How to think about yourself
Before turning to address life in the Body of Christ, Paul first speaks to us individually to get the “humility, not pride” thing taken care of. We have to think rightly about ourselves so that we can serve the Body with a right mindset.

(Oh - by the way: If you’re reading these words - YOU. STRUGGLE. WITH. PRIDE.)

sober judgment 
The Foundation of this is found in Romans 3:10-18. You do not deserve any of this. 
Start there - then think about these three things each day:
1. You’re made in the image of God
Unlike the rest of creation, you have a unique ability to intentionally glorify God
2. The Spirit of God dwells in you
Both empowering you to live for Him and giving you assurance that you are His.
3. God has a plan to use you
in His kingdom and for His glory!
Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

It’s God’s image - God’s Spirit - God’s plan (not yours, right?)

For a believer with a renewed mind, this should lead to:
Confidence without Conceit

Verses 4 & 5 - How to think about US
This is the central foundation of life in the Body of Christ.
[we are... mutually dependent on each other]

• Our unity is found “in Christ
Jesus Himself creates the “US”
We are like siblings. Because we all have the same Father, we are, therefore, brothers and sisters. This truth goes deep - far deeper and more profound than the family analogy gives. When we are saved, He creates a union and we have access to Him and His resources.
In Christ, we have:
  No condemnation
  new creation
  eternal life
  all our needs are supplied in Christ
  every spiritual blessing
  we will be presented perfect in Christ
  there is no separating us from the love of God in Christ...

And this “in Christ” that we experience – we experience TOGETHER
2. We are still individuals
We’re not mindless worker bees. Our individual differences are a product of God’s work in our lives as the Body. 
Our true individuality is found, discovered, experienced in our service to the Body of Christ
Meaning: You need the Body and the Body needs you

3. God’s Grace both empowers and sustains everything 
We have different gifts and abilities. God made us uniquely with the gifts, skills, abilities and passions that we have to serve Him through His Church.
Ephesians 4:17 – the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Verses 6-8 - What you should do: SERVE!
Paul is giving us a very specific application. He couldn’t be any clearer and this couldn’t be any more practical. What is God’s will for your life? It absolutely includes serving your church. 

Verse 6 Having gifts that differ... let us use them

This isn’t a comprehensive list of gifts, but a “categories of gifting” in the broad sense.
prophecy - This isn’t about an ability to predict the future, but it’s about speaking the truth of God to encourage and strengthen others.
serving - This is same Greek word as “deacon.” It simply means helping others in a practical way
teaching - the ability to explain God’s truth in a clear and systematic way. Pastors must have this gift. Others will have it too.
exhortation - the ability to effectively call others to obey and follow God’s truth. It can be “negative” in admonishing and correcting sin or “positive” when it encourages, comforts, and strengthens those who are struggling. 
the one who contributes... with generosity
The sacrificial sharing of your resources.
Leading - the idea is steering the ship. 
acts of mercy - actively showing sympathy and sensitivity to those in suffering and sorrow. 
cheerfulness - a crucial attitude to go along with mercy - to be genuinely helpful. 

Two obvious concluding questions:
1. Do you have an attitude of humility?
Read Philippians 2:1-11 
... look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

It’s not a one time - and done - thing. 
This will be a constant battle for all of us. 

2. Are you engaged and serving?
Everyone is called to serve in some way. 

Think through your spiritual gifting:
It begins with that unique spiritual “thing” that God has given you and then includes your skills, talents, abilities, resources, and passions. 

Here’s what you should do:
Get a copy of the “Thinking Through Your Gifting” sheet and begin working through it as you seek to be serving God in your church in specific, tangible ways.