DRESS for SUCCESS sermon series … Part 1

2 Corinthians 13: 2-9
JOHN 4: 2-18


And, the singer sang … [1]I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life.  It’s gonna feel real good, Gonna make a difference! Gonna make it right!” 

And, church … where was he going to start?  He was going to start with the man in the mirror.  Here we are in worship when so many other choices are available, most of us on a Sunday morning but thanks to technology it might be any day or any time. We don’t need a building nor a set time to worship God and Jesus Christ. It is here in these moments truthfully that we each need to consider our future journey and whether we are ready and dressed for a successful walk with God in our days that lie in front of us.

Are you glancing daily in the mirror that reflects your life and seeing how your faith touches others in your personal circle of this world?  Do others see you first as a follower of Jesus Christ? When you see your reflection, are you hoping to see someone who is right with God or rather is the image that you hope to notice in the mirror of your life’s reflections one that shows that you are looking really good and fitting in perfectly with the folks you hang out with in the world … people who could care less about what Jesus had to say … or what His death on the cross means … those who most definitely don’t have love for all as Jesus taught in their hearts, words nor actions?

That is the essence of our journey over the next several weeks because I am here to argue that each of us beginning with the man in the pulpit who is glancing at my image in the mirror we need to change. I know that I need change; for the man I am to be in a better connection with God … to accept Jesus Christ as the one who once again needs to refit who I am so that I can be dressed for success in my faith walk.  To be more open to hearing the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. Are you willing to join me church?

The singer continues “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love …”[2] I am sure you know what that means whether you can pause in an honest moment to self identify with the concept or whether you will deny it to your dying day proclaiming to all including yourself that somehow your walk is the perfection that puts you on a plateau with Jesus the Christ … you’re just so good at keeping the faith aren’t you? Way to go!

The Samaritan woman approached the well with hesitation because there was a Jewish man sitting there at Jacob’s well.  He was out of place … this woman who had had five husbands and was now living with another man she loved had just come for her daily allocation of water.  When she woke up that morning to walk to the well to draw water for herself, for the man she loved, and perhaps for others she was just fitting in. Doing her thing.  But, there was Jesus challenging her to take a look at herself and make a change! You heard the familiar as Jesus spoke to her, “If you recognized God’s gift … you would be asking for some living water!”  “Where can I find the water, sir?” Friends we need that water. The change agent for the living … God’s determined gift to change us and equip us to truly be followers of Jesus Christ.  We have to accept Jesus Christ as more than a name … we have to take in the living water.

Jesus declared to her “Believe me woman, you and your people worship what you don’t know.”  Friends, how much investment have you made prior to hearing today’s message in getting to know the true directives of Jesus the Christ?  His messages are direct from God who created the universe … it is transforming but if you haven’t been transformed then how can you claim to know the message?  Are you a church attender or a person of faith?  A true believer or someone who once raised your hand? A follower who reads from the Gospels of Jesus Christ each day or someone who makes Christmas Eve important before presents are opened?  Look at yourself in the mirror of your life … is the message of Jesus Christ clear or do you just hold onto the Merry Christmas moments and the good stories that sound familiar when you hear them but you choose to live and love counter to the Word of Jesus?  Do you get upset when asked to live for Christ?   Are you embarrassed to praise His name or to truly worship God?

Jesus tells the woman and this message holds true today for you and for me; it’s not a message for 2025 but a message for the last Sunday in September 2020 and if you are willing to join me in the mirror HEAR THE WORD of GOD again, as spoken by Jesus of Nazareth, “The time is here when true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth.  The Father looks for those who worship Him this way! God is spirit and it is necessary … necessary … to worship God in spirit and truth.”

Ah, the challenge in that and the contradiction those who want to succumb to the world’s temptation choose instead.   Pick up your mirror and be honest with yourself in this moment of worship … stare into your own eyes knowing that God already knows your heart … knows your mind … knows your priorities … start with that man or woman in the mirror and realize change has to occur in each of us. If we truly believe.

Are you worshiping God in truth?  If you can’t honestly proclaim that … we talked about that last week … praising God with hosanna’s, hallelujah’s, cymbals, tambourines, dancing with abandon and cheers for the Holy… truthfully isn’t God deserving of that kind of praise and worship?  Look into that mirror friends … do you have it in you to praise God … honestly; truthfully … or is your inner spirit all too frequently reserved for bragging about personal business success stories or cheering your sports teams’ successes or perhaps being one in your political circle who enjoys shouting down others who differ with you … but if you can’t find that level of worship for God in you then it is time for a change! Your future with God depends on it! Start looking in the faith mirror of your future daily!  Start changing your ways!  Rediscover God or discover God for the very first time; you will have hope and joy if you do!  God’s Spirit will be there for you.

The psalmist proclaimed, [3]“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me.” Friends, God’s divine guidance is personally available to all of us who seek it out.  Truthfully, we cannot change for God … we cannot change for Jesus Christ unless and until we allow that guidance to become part of our lives.  Jesus told believers about this Love Gift of the Holy, [4]When the Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father — the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father —He will testify about me. He will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me.”  Now, Jesus shares this message of the Holy Spirit’s coming to us immediately after informing His disciples that they will be subject to rejection from the world.  People of faith, we are not called to reflect the world through our personal images and lives but instead to reflect the Holy as directed by God and taught by Jesus.

Did you know that the prophet talked about us?  You and me?  Well, all of humanity because together with every other living and breathing human being we are all created in God’s image but even more importantly as you and I strive to change or invigorate the faith we see in our daily mirrors Jesus is always there. Isaiah shares, [5]They will find pasture on every barren hill. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.”

Isaiah isn’t talking about Perrier water those springs of water he refers to come from the same source of water that the Samaritan woman sought after meeting Jesus.  It’s the same water that inspired her to go into her village and spread the Word … the Good News!! “Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified.”  She changed … Jesus didn’t tell her to leave the man she loved … Jesus said drink of the Living Water! Jesus welcomed her with love.  Her first steps in her new faith walk and her new image in Jesus Christ led others to declare to her “We know that this one is truly the Savior of the world!”

And, guess what … they changed too.  Why did they change … Jesus Christ they figured it out … Savior of the World but we’re here in the skeptical 21st century where every truth is declared a lie and every documented work of journalists is called FAKE NEWS.  We seem to have lost the ability to accept truth when it stares us in our faces but in these moments of worship today, you and I need to deny the world so that we can change who we are for God.  Paul’s challenge from Corinthians hasn’t changed and when this worship service ends today, I am going to ask each of you to find a quiet spot to spend time alone for at least 5 minutes of reflection and prayer.  A minimum of 5. More would be helpful but I know football games start at 1pm and they are a priority aren’t they?

Paul is facing the challenge of skeptical Corinthians … so don’t feel like you are out of place this morning when you know that your image in the world isn’t exactly Christ-like.  And, don’t be dismayed because in his letter to the early church in Philippi, Paul reminds those believers [6]Watch out for the dogs. Watch out for people who do evil things! It’s not that I have reached the goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose! I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me.  The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.”  And, I want all of you going there too.

We know about the dogs and evil ones in this world … we can’t afford to dwell on who we have been or what we should have done because I pray we are all in this journey towards perfection in Jesus Christ … that we are letting Christ hold onto us … that we are moving forward forgiving those who need forgiveness but focused on living for God and Christ.  That is why we need to look again in the mirror … that is why over these next several weeks we need to consider how we can dress for success for God and for Jesus Christ! Allowing the Holy Spirit to tailor our lives! For the better … for God!

Paul’s challenge to those living in Greece and my challenge to you and to me today, “EXAMINE YOURSELVES!!!  EXAMINE YOURSELVES to see if you are in the faith!!”  One good act here and there is not being in the faith. Being in the faith is when that person in the mirror’s every action is for Jesus not for self nor for conformity with the world! Paul continues, “TEST YOURSELVES!! Don’t you understand that Jesus Christ is in you …. UNLESS of COURSE you fail the test.” 

Have you started thinking about what image you see when you start looking in the mirror?  This is a vital consideration friends not just a whim of Pastor Dave’s to fill in time.  If you fail the test … if you don’t have Jesus Christ in you then that means the image you see in the mirror will not be joining the saints in heaven.  Take a look at Matthew 25 for a litmus test this week; how do you accept those teachings of Jesus and God?   If you reject them then you have work to do on your faith walk.

We are reminded in Paul’s letter to Timothy that as people created in the image of God we have the capacity to make a life altering decision. He wrote, [7]for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.” We don’t have the powers of God but we have the guidance of God blended with the clear knowledge of God’s existence, God’s grace and love, and of Jesus.  James teaches, [8]Anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give it to everyone without a second thought; without keeping score.”

Church, God isn’t keeping score … God’s calling us to live a life for God.  We have the strength to go against the world and the power of God to back us up.  God’s love can easily overwhelm each of us and transform each of us … change each of us for Christ!

So, right now … I challenge you to look at yourself in the mirror of faith.  Let the clarity of God’s Word … there is no message that is any clearer than the words of Jesus Christ that you find in the Gospels if you are identifying yourself as a Christian or believe in God.  Go find His teachings today and every day after today and then live by them.

If you don’t have Jesus but now feel more challenged than ever before … ask someone. Don’t let the football games or baseball playoffs or the political debates push aside God anymore because you need God to push those things aside for the sake of your eternity.  For your salvation!

And, the singer sang … [9]If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make that change.” If you change for Christ it will feel real good! AMEN

[1] Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson

[2] Ibid

[3] Psalm 139: 9-10

[4] John 15: 26 and John 16: 8,9

[5] Isaiah 58:11

[6] Philippians 3:2 & 12-14

[7] 2 Timothy 1:7

[8] James 1:5

[9] Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson

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