An Ordinary Life In the Hands of God

In the Church world today…

1> Believers who collect information – Bible knowledge – and yet never change
The way they think and feel
The way they relate to people
The way they live
The way they view life (worldview)

Yet the Bible states that its purpose is to transform us into His image – that we would become more like Him whom we follow – More like Jesus

And that we would then do what He did and empowers us to do

2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Complete = be like Jesus
Equipped = To do what Jesus did

So non-believers look and wonder what Church and the Christian faith is all about

2> Super-spiritual who make everything sound spiritual and supernatural
“You need to just trust God..”
“Pray about it…”
“Blessed and prospering thanks…”

3> Not taking responsibility for their actions and words
Laugh-In …”the devil made me do it”

4> Not dealing with real life in practical ways as the Bible commands
“Take off anger…”
“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger…”
“Forgive those who hurt you…”
“If you are offended…”
“Do not gossip…”

5> Watch Christian television and listen to Christian radio / attend conferences
This becomes an alternate form of entertainment

6> Speak Christianeze – a language that only those who are believers and attend your brand or church or flavour of Christianity speak
So others outside our clique simply don’t understand us when we go to share
7> We seem to be the same as those who do not know Jesus and do not call themselves Christians
Except that we have to pray, read the Bible, give money, attend a service

As a result people simply are not interested in what we believe because obviously it does not make much of a difference in our lives

As a result we, the believers, often hold to the status quo
Don’t rock the boat
Slow to accept change if at all
Straight and steady as she goes matey
If it was good enough then, it is good now
The world changes and we remain the same … and, like the dinosaurs, cease to exist

As a result we appear as if we are out of touch with reality and thus viewed as irrelevant
Good for those who need an emotional or relational crutch

As a result we lack influence and have little to no impact on our community and neighbourhood

As a result few people are looking to us for answers resulting in what we now have – a post-Christian culture
Still celebrating the key Christian events – Christmas and Easter – but making them more about family and time off than about birth and resurrection
Cultural Christians with no active and dynamic, life-changing faith

As a result people are leaving the institutional church by the tens of thousands each year here and in nations around the world

These and many other current Church trends make us a sub-culture to the socially acceptable culture

Where Jesus came to establish a counter-culture to the world’s cultures
A radical way to live – Kingdom living
A way to view life as God meant it to be lived
Turning the world upside down – so it can then be right side up

People are no longer experiencing the life-changing presence of God or walking in His life-changing power … knowing His inner peace that is supernatural … “a peace that passes all understanding” as Jesus promised us

Tomm – a mid-30’s business owner and a one-time church leader…

My life experiences with ‘church’ has been a rollercoaster…like a broken rollercoaster…that throws you off…and doesn’t refund your ticket price.

Jeremy – who was a pastor and has travelled with me as well as planning an 8 week trip into South America to minister … and now fading from the church

On a short detour, due to the moving that happened I ended up skipping church this last Sunday. Interesting on multiple levels for me as I was thinking through the morning of sitting on the couch reading my Bible. Of all the Sundays to not go, it’s such a cliche to miss on Easter, and I laughed at the fact that I was. I felt free. I felt light. I felt like God’s presence was so apparent to me on that day in a way it often isn’t at church. I felt like I got a glimpse of the stupidity of the Sunday worship thing we attend, only a glimpse of something that I recognize I need to take some more time to develop and understand and explore, like you have said. I need to take more time away to discover something that is waiting for me. It was a neat experience.

So, the Christian faith has become detached from real, everyday life …

We separate secular from sacred
We do our Sunday Church thing and daily prayer / Bible – spiritual
We go to work and relate to people in the world – secular
We relate to those in our neighbourhood or town – secular

Reading about the life and ministry of Jesus in the four Gospels…
Matthew, mark, Luke, and John
You quickly notice that Jesus did not divide life up between sacred and secular
Jesus viewed all of life as sacred and spiritual …

In fact, when you read the epistles – the letters written to the early churches
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians – God’s Electric Power Company
You quickly note that the early Churches to whom these letters were sent also did not see life as separated between sacred and secular

The Christian faith is meant to embrace all of life – every aspect of daily life – and brings change to every aspect of a person’s life and personality – from the inside out… First the heart – then the head – then the hand

Their personality
Their attitude
Their values
Their morals
Their worldview
Their priorities
Their dreams, desires, and hopes
Their personal discipline
Their self-control
Their view of life
Their approach to life
Their words
Their lifestyle
Their expression of themselves
Their inter-personal relationships
The way they spend and invest their time

We are not talking setting goals and making New Year resolutions
That’s working to bring change from the outside in – – – seldom works

We are speaking about a massive change of heart and a change in the way we think
Heart and head … that leads to a different way of living – hand

And, if we are honest, we will admit that this is, at times, missing in the life of most believers…
There seems to be a definite disconnect between what we believe and how we live

So, let’s look at Paul the apostle’s advice to believers
Here is a man whose life was totally changed from the inside out because he met Jesus and became a born again Christian

The words that God had him record for us today:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 ESV

Sounds very religious in its own way
And, because we are use to hearing these words they can often roll off like water off a duck’s back

Here are the same two verses in a modern English expression of the same thoughts…

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2 The Message version

1> This is something we are to do … a quality decision we need to make
“You present your whole being (bodies) as a living sacrifice
Give yourself fully to God – hook, line, and sinker
You do this as an act of your free will – God will not force you to do it
Yielded to the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 5:18
Available for whatever He is wanting to do in you and then through you
“Your will be done on earth (through me) as it is in heaven”

2> Once we take the initiative and begin – God will join us and help us
This is the way God works – Mark 16:20

3> Don’t separate your life into sacred and secular
“Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life…”
Because you are a believer – you died to self and rose again to a new life as a new creature in Christ
“Not My will, but Your will be done…”
God did more than rescue your soul from hell – He gave you a whole new life
And now asks that we give that “new life” back to Him
As a result it will be an offering that is “holy and acceptable”

4> As we give our whole “new” life back to Him – we are worshipping him
“…which is your spiritual worship…”
“…and place it before God as an offering.”

5> Now, you have given God permission to begin to change you from the inside out
“Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
He wants to change the way you see yourself
Heal the wounds
Remove the word curses
Bring forgiveness – of others and of yourself
Integrate all that has happened to you so you become ‘one’
Change the way you see yourself – reveal a new you
He wants to change the way you see things
The world
Other people
Circumstances and situations
He wants to change the way you view life – integrating sacred and secular

As the verses stated… “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

But our verses go on to say:
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
The key, once again, is: the changes start inside you
So, not goal setting or working with New Year’s resolutions, or an act of your will … a decision you make to change
It is a total surrender to God … an act of trust and submission
Truly, an act of worship as you give yourself into the hands of a loving God

Let’s stop there for a moment:

This all begins with you taking the time to take a “spiritual inventory” of your life
Taking an honest hard look at who you have become
Getting truly in touch with your feelings and owning them
Looking at the way you handle relationships – the way you treat people – and recognizing the changes you need to make
Being honest about changes you know you need to make in many areas of your life
Where are you at:
Emotionally
Spiritually
Relationally
Financially

The Scripture goes on to say …

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.”

6> So, take a good look – an honest look – at what you believe
Often what we believe is not biblical – traditional, man-made rule, you thought…
You only truly believe what you have applied to your life
The Christian faith was originally called “The Way”
Not just a set of beliefs, a set of values … but a way of life
A counter-culture … and now it is a sub-culture

Our verses again: “Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out”

7> Turn your eyes on Jesus
Hebrews 12:2 “Looking to Jesus…”
To do this Hebrews 12:1-3 states:
Lay aside anything that prevents you doing this (12:1)
Look to Jesus and not religion (12:2)
Consider Him (12:3)
As we do these three things the change will begin inside and eventually those changes will be seen in massive changes in the way you live and relate and interact on the outside

There are two questions we all want answered:
1> Who am I?
2> What is my purpose in life

At this point you will have discovered the answer to the first question
You will know what you are – who God created you to be

8> Embrace what God is asking you to do and simply do it (The second question)
“Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.”
“…may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”

God’s will for your life will be a complete package … because He does not separate life into sacred and secular
Your ministry always begins right where you are – among the people you already relate to and know

The end result of this process…

“Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

You will be a very winsome and attractive human being who others will want to relate to and be near
Loving, forgiving, accepting; gentle, graceful, encouraging … treating people with dignity and respect

You will be a marvellous “ambassador of the Kingdom” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

You will lead many others into this new way of living – new life in Christ

Romans 12:1-2…

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message Version)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (English Standard version)

PRAYER…

Let me add …
In many ways what I have shared is very similar to what is fondly known as The Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous

So, you are not addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling … But, you are addicted to gossip, unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, intolerance, racism, a lifestyle that is unChristian in certain ways
And these prevent you from discovering the real you….

CELEBRATE RECOVERY 12 STEPS AND BIBLICAL COMPARISONS

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviours, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:1
3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
7. We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
9. We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
10. We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16
12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1

 

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