“We do our best work and live our best lives when we charge into the vast space between ourselves and others.” Joshua Wolf Shenk in Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs.
Why do we need to be encouraged to charge into the vast space between ourselves and others? Inertia, caution and disappointment must be overcome to effectively charge into this sacred space. To these obstacles we add:
- Suspicion of the other
- Awareness of lack of human graciousness
- I will be judged
- I will be excluded
- I will be punished or made to pay the price.
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties . . . but right through every human heart.” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: 1958)
What is in this vast space of the human heart? Colossians 3:5-17
|5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:
||I might feel
|· Sexual immorality
||You will take advantage of me
||I might lose purity
||I might lose sight of wisdom
|· Evil desire
||You see me through the lens of evil desire
||I am a means to an end rather than a person
||I exist to serve you and your false gods
|On account of these the wrath of God is coming vs. 6
||This is not minor. God’s wrath is coming on account of these!
|In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.
||These may have been in our past when we were living in them. Not any longer. We live a new life in Christ!
|But now you must put them all away:
||I might feel
||I am the recipient of your outburst of emotion
||I am the recipient of your emotion with vindictive action.
||I am the recipient of your desire to inflict harm and suffering
||My character is verbally defamed and my reputation damaged
|· Obscene talk
||I am the recipient of talk that is offensive to morality and decency.
|· Do not lie to one another
||I never know the truth or what is being said about me
Without a spectacular work of God in the vast space between one another, can we imagine the danger of navigating the space between (Colossians 3:11)
- Greek and Jew? The other is of a different nation, ethnicity, language etc.
- Circumcised and uncircumcised? The other is of a different religious
- Barbarian and Scythian? The other is of a different civility.
- Slave and free? The other is of a different social or economic
Something AMAZING happens when two people respond to Jesus’ charge into the space of our hearts. Colossians 3:11
“but Christ is all, and in all.”
|12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
||I might feel
|· Compassionate hearts,
||My best interest is being considered
||I am the recipient of grace in action
||My low estate isn’t looked down upon
||I am being treated gently
||You have time for me to grow and develop
|· Bearing with one another
||You are lifting me and holding me up
|· Forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven
||You extend to me the forgiveness you received from the Lord
|And above all these, put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony
||Above all……I am loved by you and we are bound together in perfect harmony
|Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts
|Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
|· Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom
|· Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God
|Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus
|Giving thanks to God the Father through Jesus.
There are various kinds of Psalms. 1 Chronicles 16:4 gives insight into a possible three-fold identification of the Psalms (and definitely a three-fold job description for ministers).
4 Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.
Hymns of Praise
- Hymns of Praise: General Praise – Celebrating the attributes of God
- Hymns of Praise: Grateful Praise – Thanksgiving for what God has done for us
Bruce Waltke understands the Psalms of Grateful Praise to flow through a three-component motif (a recurrent thematic element).
- Introductory call to praise match that ignites the fire
- Because it is fitting and right
- In the imperative mood
- Spirit of enthusiasm
- The cause for praise Fuel that is lit up
- Renewed call to praise Hallelujah
Psalm 117 (The shortest Psalm)
|Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
|The Call to Praise
|2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
|The Cause for Praise
|Praise the Lord!
||Renewed Call to Praise: The Hallelujah
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
The Call to Praise
|3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
|The Cause for Praise
|6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
|The Call to Praise
|7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
|The Cause of Praise
|Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing.
|The Call to Praise
|3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
|The Cause of Praise
|4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
|The Call to Praise
|5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
|The Cause of Praise
|O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
|The Call to Praise
|You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b] and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
|The Cause of Praise
|9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
|The Renewed Call to Praise
Reaching my fullest potential is enhanced by friendships of association, loyalty and affection.
Pastor Clinton Fick, “People mostly need help making friends.”
Often the friendship conversation includes Aristotle’s three types of friendships from Book VIII of The Nicomachean Ethics written sometime around 350 B.C.
Friendships of Utility Friends who are conveniently helpful to your life
Friendships of Pleasure Friends who help you stay light-hearted
Friendships of the Good
“In a friendship of the good, you value who that friend actually is, strengths and weaknesses alike, and there is sufficient trust between the two that the relationship’s quality and depth outshine those of other types of friendship.” Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, in Psychology Today.
Long before Aristotle, the Bible presented friendships in ways that can be loosely affiliated as follows:
In both Testaments the ideas of friend and friendship involve three components: association, loyalty, and affection. There are also three levels of meaning: friendship as association only; friendship as association plus loyalty; and friendship as association plus loyalty plus affection. https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/friend-friendship.html
Friendship as association only.
- When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. Judges 7:13
- Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:2
- There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:12
Friendship as association plus loyalty.
- So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 15:37
- And when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” 2 Samuel 16:16
- Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers; Zabud the son of Nathan was priest and king’s friend. 1 Kings 4:5
Friendship as association plus loyalty plus affection.
- I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.
- 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
- 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. Philemon
For making friendships of association + loyalty + affection I must overcome:
Inertia There is external, internal and spiritual resistance
Caution Timidity, fear and self-protection must be overcome
Disappointment Longing for perfect friendship, all human friendships have a measure of disappointment.
Let’s learn from Jesus in John 15:9-17.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other because I am loved by God.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other with the same love I receive from Jesus.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other knowing I must lay down my life for the other.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other knowing I must share my business.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other knowing this is my choice.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you…
May God grant grace to overcome relational inertia, caution and disappointment
The sentence, “We live do our best work and live our best lives when we charge into the vast space between ourselves and others,” is from the introduction of Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs, by Joshua Wolf Shenk
My fullest potential in Christ is most realized through a growing positive faith attitude from God.
Confidence in God is one of many components to Christian faith.
For most people studying with us today, God’s capacity, compassion and character are well established.
17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. Jeremiah 32:17-19
With full experience and awareness of God’s faithfulness, we sometimes still have seasons with low confidence in God.
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Being aware of God’s capacity, compassion and character, low confidence in God must be an issue inside the person.
The capacity, compassion and character of God is God’s business. Developing confidence in God is my business.
Let us consider the Apostle Paul’s reasoning for his confidence in God.
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:12-14
I know whom
- It is crucial to note that Paul did not say, “I know what I have believed.”
- Confidence in God is deeply personal. Confidence is birthed in the union of my person with The Person.
- Confidence in God results from knowing God.
- A person’s most valuable asset? Knowing Christ.
- A person’s most important prayer? That I may know Christ.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
I have believed
- Belief is owned by the person. “I” have believed.
- Belief is not simply a mental statement, but the total placing of trust.
- We might call the John, “The Apostle of Belief.”
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:6-13
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
I am convinced
- I am absolutely persuaded and confident
- My internal decision mechanism is 100% convinced that God is able.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Confidence in God grows through I know, I believe and I am convinced.
How then do we best increase deep knowing, believing and convincing?
“…that we make our best work, and live our best lives, by charging into the vast space between ourselves and others.” Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs, Joshua Wolf Shenk, 2014, Introduction
This is, in fact, the story of our text today.
Paul’s abiding love for Timothy is the environment which pulls our great text out of Paul’s heart and into writing and into our hearts today.
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:3-7
Confidence in God through knowing, believing and convincing flourishes best within a relationship in which you charge into the vast space between yourself and another.
With broad strokes we can place Messianic Psalms into two groups. There are Messianic Psalms, like Psalm 2, that have meaning for the king at the time of the writing and for the coming King. Secondly, there are Messianic Psalms that only find their fulfillment in Jesus, the Messiah.
From my perspective, Psalm 22 is a pure prophetic and Messianic Psalm about Jesus the Messiah and his crucifixion.
Bruce Waltke, in referring to Messianic Psalms, beautifully states, “The Messianic Psalms are royal robes waiting for the King who fits them perfectly. Jesus alone is the King worthy to wear these Psalms.” https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=waltke+messianic+psalm+&&view=detail&mid=715BC730546EA01E5DAD715BC730546EA01E5DAD&&FORM=VRDGAR
Genesis walks us through God’s development of His kingdom on earth.
The earth was considered ‘the serpent’s” kingdom.
God’s kingdom was in the hands of Adam and Eve.
The serpent would bruise her heal but she would bruise his head.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15
Kingdom of God would be established through Eve’s offspring…….
Seth not Cane.
Shem not Ham or Japheth
Isaac not Ishmael
Jacob not Esau
Judah not the other eleven tribes.
David (His house will endure forever)
Jesus, the Eternal Son.
Of David it is said:
- 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 2 Samuel 7:16
- “His offspring (Jesus) shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me.” Psalm 89:36
Jesus is identified as the son of David by Matthew, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1
The robes of the Messianic Psalms perfectly fit Messiah Jesus, the son of David.
The only Person Psalm 22 “fits” is Jesus, the son of David and at His crucifixion is the only time it “fits.”
This prophetic Psalm is beautiful and agonizing to behold.
One perspective of the poetic flow of this Psalm is of a three-stanza hymn of ten verses each (verse 11 is a transition)
Psalm 22:1-10 Lament with Praise
1-5 abandoned by God finds confidence in God’s past faithfulness to fathers
6-10 abandoned by people confidence in God’s past faithfulness to himself (9)
Psalm 22:11 Transitional Request for Presence
Psalm 22:12-21 Lament with Prayer
Psalm 22:22-31 Praise
|My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.
Matthew 27:39, 27:31
This is the experience of a crucified person, not one being stoned to death.
John 19: 23, 34, 37
Becoming people of fully realized potential in Christ requires holding and being held by a positive faith attitude.
A concept in a previous message was, “In making decisions always measure the strength of the “yes” votes not the “no” votes.”
You are, in fact, determining the power of the positive faith attitude not the strength of the negative faithless attitude or even the neutral attitude.
How many of Israel’s mighty warriors voted “no” on fighting Goliath? Only one young man in the entire country voted “yes.”
The Principle of the Positive Faith Yes is beautifully revealed in Numbers 13 and 14 as Israel determines if they can take the land.
|“Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”
|All of Israel (2,400,000 votes)
With this ballot count, 2,400,010 no votes and 3 yes votes, the decision seems obvious. https://www.gotquestions.org/Israelites-exodus.html
Yet, the wise “reaching my full potential in Christ” decision measures the strength of the yes votes, not the number of no votes.
Caleb, Joshua and Moses are the only three out of approximately two million people who understood the strength of the yes vote.
The large empty box on our ballot count chart above is for Numbers 13:1-2’s revelation that God Himself voted “Yes.”
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel.
God’s intent was for Israel to “spy out the land” to determine HOW to take the land not IF they could take the land.
One’s fully realized potential in Christ is in proportion to having positive faith in the promises of God, His word and His intentions.
And he (Abraham) believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8
Notice the negative faithless attitude in the 2,400,010 people of Israel destroys the hope and confidence in God’s promises for almost an entire nation.
- God is giving us the land, “28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” Numbers 13:28-29
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:31
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out…” Numbers 13:32
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants…” Numbers 13:32
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13:33
Caleb, Joshua and Moses know that a positive faith attitude is all about God, His promises and intentions.
- 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. Numbers 14:9
- the Lordis with us; Numbers 14:9
- But the glory of the Lordappeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. Numbers 14:10
- 11 And the Lordsaid to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? Numbers 14:11
Let’s look back up at the large empty space in our positive faith attitude ballot box.
Please fill in the first empty space with “GOD” and record His vote as “YES.”
Three people with positive faith in God’s promises and word are more than enough to take the land.
God invites you and me to join Caleb and his positive faith attitude:
24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Numbers 14:24
How should you vote on personal decisions?
Determine God’s promise and vote with God.
Burkina Faso is populated by amazing, kind, gentle, honest, loyal, polite and loving people. Into this delightful and peaceful mix of animists, Muslims and Christians, religious persecution has intruded.
Extremists hell bent on maiming and killing anyone who holds views different from their radical Islamic beliefs are methodically, intentionally, and ruthlessly being killed.
I am just one of many deeply concerned fans of the Burkinabe. But I am one. I have voice. With God’s grace I can shout this injustice from my internet rooftop.
My prayer is for information to lead to transformation.
Burkina Faso, having no significant natural resources, minimal GDP (123 of 186 according to the 2018 report of the International Monetary Fund) and very little for which more powerful nations lust, is often ignored at best and abused at worst.
Will you join me in praying, communicating and giving to bring an end to the senseless slaughter of these our sisters and brothers?
The sustainability of our new heartedness and fresh startedness is crucial to the successful Christian life.
Consider the sustainability of the king salmon in the Kenai river.
King Salmon are the Kenai and Kasilof River’s most treasured species. Not only are they the largest species in each of these watersheds, they’re the largest of their kind in the entire world! Because these fish are genetically unique, relatively rare, so important to our community, and extremely special, we put their sustainability at the top of our priority list. https://akfishology.com/king-salmon-policy/
The examples of non-sustainable new heart and fresh start adventures are too numerous to count.
- The new heart and fresh start adventure is unsustainable when I mismanage my love.
- For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…2 Timothy 4:10
- But living a just and holy life requires one to be capable of an objective and impartial evaluation of things: to love things, that is to say, in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally. (On Christian Doctrine,27-28, Augustine)
- The new heart and fresh start adventure is unsustainable when I mismanage my desires.
- 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16
- The new heart and fresh start adventure is unsustainable when I mismanage my receptivity to God and His word.
- 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.[a] 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Mark 4:15-19
The Apostle Paul asks you and me a pointed and penetrating question.
7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7
As Paul was concerned about the sustainability of the new heart and new start of the Galatians, he we mindful of himself.
27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27
God’s word is very clear, sustainability of my new heartedness and fresh startedness adventure is doable, likely and to be expected.
- 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:20
- 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11
In the experience of two women, Naomi and Ruth, God reveals your four most crucial sustainability decisions.
A short version of the narrative is:
- There is a famine in Bethlehem.
- Elimelech moves cross culturally to Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons.
- Elimelech suddenly dies. Naomi is now a widow.
- Their sons have married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.
- Suddenly, both sons died too. Naomi is a widow who is childless. Orpah and Ruth are now widows.
- Naomi decides to move back to Bethlehem and encourages Orpah and Ruth to enjoy their Moabite lives.
- Orpah agrees.
- Ruth disagrees and reveals to us the four most crucial decisions every human being makes.
15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
||My Crucial Decision
|For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge.
||With which persons will I journey and stay?
|Your people shall be my people
||Who will be my people?
|and your God (shall be) my God
||Who will be my God?
|May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.
||Will I fully commit to these decisions?
With which persons will I journey and stay?
- The wise selection of my spouse and closest friends is crucial.
- 24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
- As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1
Who will be my people?
- The wise selection of my primary group or tribe or cohort is crucial.
- 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. Hebrews 11:25
- 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
- What would Daniel have been without Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?
Who will be my God?
- The wise selection of God, as revealed in the Bible, is crucial.
- 14 “Now therefore fear the Lordand serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15
Will I fully commit to these decisions?
- Have I developed the wisdom to courageously and loyally serve these three decisions?
- 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
- “And when Naomi saw that she was determined……”
To become a person of fully realized potential I must develop and maintain a positive faith attitude.
Pastor Neale Sheneman, founding pastor of MCA Church, read Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” every year.
The following comparison between negative self talk and positive thinking is from “Positive Thinking: Stop Negative Self Talk to Reduce Stress” on the Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle web site.
Negative Self Talk
I’ve never done it before.
|It is an opportunity to learn something new.
|It’s too complicated.
I’ll tackle it from a different angle.
|I don’t have the resources.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
There is no way this will work.
|I can try to make it work.
It’s too radical a change.
|Let’s take a chance.
Our founder loved positive thinking. Yet he stated regularly, “Positive thinking isn’t enough! You must develop a positive faith attitude.”
There are similarities between Pastor Peale’s positive thinking and Pastor Sheneman’s positive faith attitude.
First, both feature the power and effectiveness of one’s thoughts and attitudes.
- Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
- 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Second, both feature positivity and optimism.
Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimism
Optimistic people (from the Latin word optimum) are always looking on the bright side.
There are significant differences between positive thinking and a positive faith attitude.
- Positive thinking alone is temporary. A positive faith attitude anchored in saving faith is eternal.
- 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17
- Positive thinking begins and ends in the human mind. A positive faith attitude begins and ends with God.
- 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:22-24
- Positive thinking relies on the capacity of the human brain. A positive faith attitude relies on the capacities of the Almighty God.
- 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us… Ephesians 3:20
- Positive thinking is something you hold. A positive faith attitude holds
- 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
We can learn much about Hope (the Christian’s positive faith attitude) in Romans 15:13.
| May the God of hope
with all joy and peace
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
|This hope is sourced in God.
This hope is God’s and He pours it into you.
This hope is characterized by God’s joy and His peace.
This hope is God’s response to your believing.
You abound in this hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Place your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
- Determine to live each moment with the God of hope filling you with all joy and peace.
- Remind yourself many times each day, “Like Abraham, I believe God.”
- Several times each day state, “I am abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
People of fully realized potential are aligned with the nature, character and will of God in their spirit, soul and body.
Today’s primary Bible text is 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Considering the interactivity of the spirit, soul and body, I come to understand the effect the soul has on my spirit and body.
For the sake of our conversation today, let’s view the soul as the inner being of a human. The most common Greek word translated in the New Testament as soul is “psyche.”
Although your spirit, soul and body are one unity, the Bible also reveals there is also diversity between spirit, soul and body.
Everything you allow into your soul greatly impacts all of you, spirit, soul and body.
One loves and laughs and hopes and grieves and thinks and feels and wills in the soul.
We do not need expensive scientific research to know the following are truly possible.
- He worried himself sick.
- She laughed herself out of a depression.
- He died of a broken heart.
- She is so much healthier since she fell in love.
Our founding Pastor, Neale Sheneman, often stated, “It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.”
In the Old Testament the promises of God are given to covenant keeping people. “If you keep my covenant, I promise to do these great things for you.”
In the New Testament the promises of God are given to those who keep the New Covenant. Hebrews 9:15-18
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
God has made almost unbelievably glorious promises to you, if you join His family. Being adopted into His family puts you into His will (covenant). Everyone in His family has the most AMAZING inheritance.
To those in His will (covenant) He gives the inheritance of:
- The pardon of all sin.
2. The merit of His own most glorious righteousness.
3. His own most Holy Spirit.
4. But the most glorious part of the property bequeathed by Jesus to His people is that “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,” which is “reserved for them in heaven.” https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/morris/christ’s_last_will_and_testament.htm
With these glorious things done by God in your spirit, can you imagine the HUGE effects upon your soul and body?
Just as the spirit significantly influences the body and soul, the soul influences the spirit and body. Consider Proverbs 17:22
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Joy is fantastic medicine for your soul and body. Joy actively works against disease.
A crushed spirit actively works against health and “dries up the bones.”
What are the skills of developing and sustaining a positive, faith-filled, joyful heart?
- Behold your belief.
- Tackle your troubles.
- Find your funny.
- Hold your happy.
- Rest in your relationships.
Today’s primary text is filled with blessed guidance for our souls.
- The God of peace is making me holy, spirit, soul and body.
- He is making my whole spirit, soul and body blameless.
- I won’t doubt Him, because He is faithful and will surely do it.
- In this process, Paul recognizes the value of praying one for the other.
- He also knows this process is best accomplished in a strong fellowship of God’s love.
- All of this, Paul reveals, is by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.