Monthly Archives: August 2014

Self-Help Sermon

Instructions for Christian Living

Ephesians 4:17-24.  So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 How do I do this?  

How do I put on a new self and put off the old?  

How am I created to be like God?

1 John 4:8.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

What does that mean, “God is love”?  

Replace the words “love” and “it” with the word “God” in the following passage.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Since we are to be created to be like God, we must strive for these attributes.  

Now, replace the words “love” and “it” with your own name.  Does each description ring true for you?

  • Are you patient?  Then practice patience.
  • Are you kind?  Then practice kindness.
  • Do you envy?  Then practice thankfulness.
  • Do you boast?  Then practice modesty.
  • Are you proud?  Then practice humility.
  • Do you dishonor others?  Then practice respect.
  • Are you self-seeking (selfish)?  Then practice compassion.
  • Are you easily angered?  Then practice gentleness.
  • Do you keep a record of wrongs?  Then practice forgiveness.
  • Do you delight in evil or rejoice with the truth?
  • Do you protect others?
  • Do you trust others?
  • Are you hopeful?
  • Do you persevere?

You will fail.  You are not God. 

When you strive for these characteristics of God, you will still fail, but you will fail less and less as you practice more and more. 

When you do fail, ask wholeheartedly for forgiveness both from God and from others.

attitude

My conversation is the simplest place to begin this transformation.

Colossians 4:6.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

We need each other.  People were not meant to be alone, but to interact and care for each other.  When we connect, we should remember that our actions and words travel farther than the immediate surroundings.

Ephesians 4:29-32.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

...and perhaps, mostly importantly of all…

Proverbs 27:17.  As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

…we need to hold each other accountable, build each other up into the likeness of God, and love each other unconditionally, no matter what.

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Coming Clean

The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive. – Marianne Williamson

 Forgiveness

If you could see me as I am writing this, you would be looking at a previous World Champion of Grudge-Holders.  Oh, I do come by it honestly.  You see, I am a human being, a person just like you, and as such, I tend to cling to complaints, seize slights, and take tabs on transgressions.  I have since become better (I think) at letting go of the perceived wrongdoings of others, but only after I came around to asking others to forgive me.  Yes, you read that right.  I had to first ask forgiveness for my own faults before I could truly begin to forgive those who had hurt me, whether these “crimes” against me were committed knowingly or unknowingly.

I have a wonderful friend, a very classy lady indeed.  At one time, early in our relationship, I developed a tremendous jealousy, not about her as a friend, but of her as a competitor.  She is absolutely beautiful, she can sing like an angel, she can dance with elegance, she can write songs, plays, and prose.  She has an adoring husband and a spectacular home.  She had the whole enchilada, and I had a cheese taco.  One day, and I cannot tell you the catalyst or cause, I knew that I needed to confess my feelings to her, and I needed to do it that day! After choir practice that evening at church, I ran to catch up to her in the parking lot.  I revealed my enviousness to her, and asked her to forgive me for my bitter attitude.  She replied that she had no idea that I ever felt anything like this resentment, and she forgave me.  She forgave me!  It was as if a mammoth millstone had been removed from my mind.  Today, we are even better friends.   She is still beautiful, graceful, and elegant, and I am still me – and I am forgiven.

Sometimes, we are called to forgive a wrong done to us knowingly by another.

Sometimes, we are called to forgive a wrong done to us of which the culprit is unaware.

Sometimes, we are called to ask for forgiveness for something we have done.

Sometimes, we are called to ask for forgiveness for something we have done of which the victim is unaware.

Sometimes, we are called to forgive ourselves.

Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. – James E. Faust

Your history is history.  How you react to it can make you better or it can make you bitter.  The future is up to you – what is your choice?