TWEAKING OUR DIET- Dressing for Success Part 2
Galatians 5: 22-26
MATTHEW 26: 26-30
October 4, 2020 AM SERVICES
Dear friends, the first Sunday of October has arrived and here we are continuing to live in a time where the realities of our world are having a dramatic impact on the people we are and the people we can be. We can all easily argue that it is only our human nature working as a response to times of confusion, of challenges, of in-balance, of fear, and the unknown of what this Twilight Zone era might bring us that gives us the excuse to eat and eat again. The COVID diet is evident on so many human figures leading to expanded waist lines and the increased wearing of sweat pants and oversized t-shirts. With Halloween coming up and Hershey commercials suggesting we buy lots of candy … just so that we can eat it all ourselves … it just might be time to TWEAK our DIETS.
Last week, I suggested we should be looking honestly into our faith mirrors to truly examine who we each are as people of faith but today I want to challenge all of us and perhaps we can all agree that this year of the LORD 2020 has truly impacted our realities and our vision and our understanding for living life with the overriding impact of confusion, challenges, and fear potentially getting our spiritual selves out of shape. I am here to declare this morning that before we can DRESS for SUCCESS with God and truly be on a path of life with Jesus Christ. We need to TWEAK OUR FAITH DIETS!
Did you ever have one of those moments while reading God’s Word when you needed to check the date it was written because the words rushed at you with a freshness and clarity that directly related to the now rather than to the back then. You see, God’s Holy Scriptures friends is a living guide for life and offers to us the health plan for our spirits; the diet considerations for life that provide us the well being that keep us aligned for that future eternity with God that we can lose so easily if we fall back with the world.
Paul in writing to that early church in Rome was pretty clear on sharing what mattered and his wisdom in that early letter written about 30 years after the tomb was found empty and Jesus had ascended into heaven to be at the right side of God the Father … HE IS RISEN by the way <HE IS RISEN INDEED>. Just needed to get that in because of the joy we have in our RISEN SAVIOR but back to Paul who notes, “I AM NOT ASHAMED of the GOSPEL!! It is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God. God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness for faith. It is written, ‘the righteous person will live by faith.’
I want to pause us right there because if you are taking notes this is perhaps the most needed step if you are ready to get yourself right with God and remain connected or become reconnected if somehow you have become lost. Now, I have been preaching this all summer long but I will give credit to Paul for whom this church is named. DIET TIP NUMBER ONE from the Word of God for the People of GOD is <GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS IS REVEALED IN THE GOSPELS … SO READ THE GOSPELS, where Jesus words are found, EVERY SINGLE DAY because THE RIGHTEOUS PERSON will live by FAITH! Paul throws in a side note on this a little later in Romans, “FAITH COMES by HEARING and HEARING by the WORD of GOD.”
Friends, you cannot get into good Spiritual condition and are truly at risk of getting totally out of shape with God and with Jesus Christ if you are not reading the Gospels and discovering what Jesus taught, which totally contradicts what the world has to offer.
If you are thinking that you have faith this morning you need to think how you have reached that conclusion. And again, I want to stress this to you wherever you are in the world this morning … just saying you are a Christian … that you had one moment in time when you raised your hand or stepped forward or purchased a WWJD bracelet is NOT evidence of faith nor verification that you changed your life to live for God and Jesus Christ. Being a true believer; a person of faith who follows Jesus is more than declaratory words or a moment in time left behind. Your ongoing words matter … your every day actions matter even more so. DIET TIP NUMBER TWO comes from James, “YOU MUST BE DOERS of the WORD and not only HEARERS who mislead themselves. “ Hearers, James notes, are those who pause and then walk away forgetting what they were like in their brief connection with God. DOING FAITH is not complicated nor does it require an advanced seminary education because there are many with seminary educations whose lives never reflect actions related to Jesus Christ’s life expectations. If you follow DIET TIP NUMBER 1 you will discover what actions are on Jesus’ list and I can guarantee that you will be busy crossing off a lot of what the world wants you to do if you are willing to follow TIP NUMBER 2.
In this morning’s reading from Galatians we are reminded about God’s loving gift to believers that humanity was given when Jesus returned to God. The Holy Spirit … the Spirit is offering us direction and opportunity. Paul is so succinct and almost sarcastic when he notes that there is no law against choosing to live our lives with the fruits of the Spirit of God; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-c0ntrol.” Paul knew the world opposes these things but never in world history he was noting has there been any law against a single one of them … it comes down to how we choose our actions for living life … the world’s way or faith’s way. So, DIET TIP NUMBER 3 LIVE BY THE SPIRIT of GOD; “If we live by the Spirit then follow the Spirit. DO NOT BE arrogant, make others angry or be jealous of each other.”
We don’t have time this morning but if you go home and read the prelude to today’s Scripture from Galatians Paul makes a list of human activities that are very evident in the times we live in just as they were in his. Paul says “those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit the kingdom of God.” Perhaps all of you should check that list just in case you missed something last week while looking into your faith mirror. By doing so … you just may save your eternal life. And, reading is TIP number 1 after all.
Going back to Paul’s letter to those early Christians in Italy, he writes “I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. DO NOT be conformed to the patterns of the world but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is … what is good, pleasing and MATURE.”
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the last few years to me or maybe even the most saddening is my witnessing friends whose chronological age indicates that they are adults who seem to relish … cherish … get energized and turned on by making up insulting names just like junior high school bullies used to do. An all too significant percentage of our population thrives on name calling those they disagree with rather than discussing, debating, and just having an open friendly dialogue. So, Paul’s teaching us to be MATURE just jumped out at me and today if you are ready to TWEAK your faith diet for God then consider again your words written, tweeted, or imposed through social media to determine if they are mature. I think we all already know that mocking, name calling, and putting down other human beings created in the image of the Holy is not pleasing to God at all but this is a dietary challenge to all too many who are in a church service this morning … because the seductive world has convinced us that it’s good to act like we are in junior high again … it’s good to bully and intimidate those you don’t like so they cower and lose … grab some jello and throw it a them … we all have witnessed it and probably know people who do it but it’s just not what a person who follows Jesus does. In fact those actions go against the Word of God; those who do so have lost their faith connection and are in need of getting back onto God’s diet plan.
Our faith diet works when we pray regularly. Not just simple rehearsed or memorized prayers. Not those prayers we say before digging away at a table overloaded with food. Real prayer … contemplative prayer … prayer that resembles conversations with good friends rather than a quick afterthought or a laundry list of wants that resembles the holiday season …. Oops Christmas season list of expectations. In Luke we read that after Jesus had been challenged by the religious leaders of His time HE went to the mountain to pray and He prayed ALL NIGHT LONG. ALL NIGHT. Is it any wonder that Paul teaches us to “Pray without ceasing.” And, the prelude to that remark is “Rejoice always.” But as we come to DIET TIP NUMBER 4 listen to what Paul writes because this encompasses what we need to do to successfully get ourselves back on track with God … to live our lives as people who truly follow Jesus and accept the Spirit of God for our directions, “Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong (Note he says make sure no one does this not just you yourself.), but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
Ok so this is sort of the encore listing of diet habits we need so let’s quickly and closely pay attention to the final diet tips we need to take on so that we are ready to DRESS for SUCCESS in our faith walk with God and Christ that I will begging addressing next Sunday morning:
TIP NUMBER 4 – PRAY CONTINUALLY … WITHOUT CEASING!
TIP NUMBER 5 – MAKE SURE NO ONE REPAYS A WRONG with a WRONG
TIP NUMBER 6 – DON’t SUPPRESS THE SPIRIT
TIP NUMBER 7 and this is important – EXAMINE EVERYTHING CAREFULLY and HANG ONTO WHAT IS GOOD … AVOID EVERY KING OF EVIL
TIP NUMBER 8 – REJOICE always ….Psalm 150 says it PRAISE THE LORD … LET EVERY LIVING THING PRAISE THE LORD!
So, we have come to a place where the Table of the Lord awaits … a time to pause in confession and to be renewed. If we are to be followers of Jesus Christ … we need to read God’s Word … be doers of that Word … accept the Spirit of God … Pray … be joyful people who counter the world!
And, you and I need to be with Paul and ready to rush into the dark stormy clouds that the world wants us to live in and declare I AM NOT ASHAMED of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST! I AM NOT ASHAMED of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST … It has God’s power of salvation to all who have faith.
When you truly can state that … and share the Gospel … you will know you are ready to dress for success in your faith walk with God and Christ. It’s the only walk we should be on … so let the Holy Spirit transform you today and be blessed. Change in the ways you need to change but then declare with me I AM NOT ASHAMED of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST!!