Monday, August 13, 2007

Committing to Growth

It seems that whenever a fellow Christian challenges me in my "approach" to sharing the Gospel of Christ, I get a message either in the form of an email, or, the Holy Spirit's leading in prayer in the early morning hours as I awake from the night, or, through another Christian and what he or she shares with me that day, or, through a sermon by a pastor.

A while back, Dr. David Jeremiah of Turning Point Ministries shared the importance of Committing to Growth in our Christian walk with the Lord. In that sermon, I got the answer from God's Word in how to counter what a few fellow Christians (usually the liberal ones) always use in order to show disapproval of what I write at this blog.

What is it, exactly, that they disapprove of? The fact that I am committed to sharing passionately the entire gospel of Christ which includes our need for confession and repentance in order to be born-again in Jesus Christ.

It is the current "fad" of the emergent church movement (and the numerous heretical off-shoots) that appears to want to "skip over" the crucifixion of Christ at the cross for sin and just emphasize the love, mercy and grace portion of the gospel. Trouble is, you can't have the Good News of the Gospel without first sharing the bad news of our sinful natures that separate us from God!!

Of course, there needs to be balance. But balancing doesn't mean elimination of the Law and the Prophets! The Law and the Prophets points to our need for reconciliation unto God through humbling ourselves at the foot of the cross of Christ, confessing and repenting of our sin in order to be restored, reconciled and re-born spiritually through the Man (Jesus Christ) who is the Bridge to redemption and spiritual reconnection to God the Father, our Creator and Righteous Judge of the Universe!

On to Dr. Jeremiah's sermon.

Dr. David Jeremiah
"Committing to Growth"
December 10, 2006

Colossians 3:23-24
Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Col 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ

Deu 33:27 The eternal God [is thy] refuge, and underneath [are] the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy [them].

If you lean on the arms of God, you can find yourself leaning either forward or backward! When we combine the messages of these two verses, we find that we aren't supposed to just sit there, leaning back on His arms, but we are to live out what Colossians 3:23-24 tells us...through serving and doing all we do heartily to the Lord! Claim this verse as your own! We are to have goals and standards, giving it all we've got and doing whatever we do with passion! Passionate living is energy to live for God!

Unfortunately, some Christians just want to sit back in a more lackluster "comfort zone." Sometimes churches are wary of, and worry about, burn-out. [The fact that only 20% of congregations often do 100% of the work at the church can cause this. But more likely, congregants can use this as an excuse to "cop-out." This is an unfortunate trend, today.]

Do you see anyone in your midst "on fire for God?" This is the Passion Principle. We have many examples of passionate people who were on fire for God in the Bible. And note that many made mistakes along the way in their lives. But their ultimate worldview was to work for an "audience of One;" that being God!

Moses was on fire for God.

Before Moses became a prophet of God, he did murder an Egyptian.

Exodus 2:12 - And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that [there was] no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.

God can turn even a murderer into a passionate prophet!

Even when God told him to "speak to the rock" and Moses incorrectly struck the rock with his rod, at least he showed passion in his error!

David was known for killing lions and bears as a shepard, but then was called to face the mighty warrior, Goliath with just a sling and a stone. He did this while a bunch of chicken warriors around him were probably shaking in their armor!

1Sa 17:31 And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed [them] before Saul: and he sent for him.

1Sa 17:32 And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.

1Sa 17:33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou [art but] a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.

1Sa 17:34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:

1Sa 17:35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered [it] out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught [him] by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.

1Sa 17:36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.

1Sa 17:37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.

God wants us to serve with our whole heart!

Psalm 138:1 - [[[A Psalm] of David.]] I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

In this classic Psalm of praise to the LORD, David commits to praising God with his whole heart!

Let's look at the entire NKJV of Psalm 138

Psa 138:1 PSALM 138
A Psalm of David.
I WILL praise You with my whole heart;

Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
Psa 138:2 I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

Psa 138:3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.

Psa 138:4 All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD,
When they hear the words of Your mouth.

Psa 138:5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
For great is the glory of the LORD.

Psa 138:6 Though the LORD is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar.

Psa 138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.

Psa 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Wow! So powerful! No doubt that David had the Passion Principle towards God in his life!

Yet, we know that David made several mistakes in his life. Why did God label him "a man after my own heart?" I think it is because David knew the need for confession and repentance or sin before the grace, mercy and salvation of God could be bestowed upon him.

Although Moses was a great prophet, he made mistakes too:

Numbers 20:11

And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts [also].

Moses paid for that error by not being allowed into the promised land.

Numbers 20:12 - And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

So we see how important it is to strictly adhere to God's Word!


Because we may miss out on God's rewards that He has in store for us, both here, and in eternity.

Moses was so passionate about living for God, that when the people were found guilty of sin by worshiping the golden calf idol they had made, he asked the LORD to blot his name out of the Book of Life for their sakes!

Exodus 32:32
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

And the LORD responded with:

Exodus 32:33
And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (bold mine)

Each individual soul will be held accountable for their own sin against God.

You can read about Elijah who boldly confronted the people of Baal in 1 Kings 18:24-38.

In Nehemiah 6:15-19, we read how others were intend on discouraging Nehemiah in his work for the LORD. Nehemiah is here finishing the wall of Jerusalem, and yet still has trouble created for him by his enemies.

Matthew Henry commentary:

Those that forsake the law praise the wicked, Prov. 28:4. 4.

They were so false as to betray Nehemiah’s counsels to him; they uttered Nehemiah’s words to him, perverting them, no doubt, and putting false constructions upon them, which furnished Tobiah with matter for letters by others false counsels to put him in fear and so drive him from his work and discourage him in it. Thus were all their thoughts against him for evil, yet God thought upon him for good.

But Nehemiah kept on keepin on! Despite those who wanted to create trouble and cause him to stop his work for the LORD! What an apt picture of what many Christian people and groups have to deal with today! The opposition against us is pursued relentlessly by the enemies of God and Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah was trying to retire from ministry because the pressure against his preaching was so great! But in Jeremiah 20:8-9, we read:

Jer 20:8
For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.

Jeremiah was derided daily by his adversaries. Today, Christian persecution is rampant! It can make a person want to give up sharing the gospel.

Jer 20:9 - Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But [his word] was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not [stay].

Jeremiah recognized what was at work in the people...namely fear!

Jer 20:10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, [say they], and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, [saying], Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.

But Jeremiah comes back to his senses (and realizes that the LORD is with him through it all, no matter what):

Jer 20:11 ¶ But the LORD [is] with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: [their] everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.

Jer 20:12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, [and] seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.

Jer 20:13 ¶ Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.

When we commit to growth in Jesus Christ through God's Word, we will face opposition. It is inevitable. But God's promises are greater than any "hand of evildoers." When we "open our cause," to the LORD as Jeremiah stated in verse 12, we allow God to work through us; not relying only on our own strength!

Additional Scripture readings:

Daniel 6:10; 5:26
Jonah 1:2-3; 3:1-10
Mark 3:17
Matthew 14:29; John 21:7; 18:10; Luke 9:33; 22:33, 61-62

Acts 8:3; 1 Corinthians 9:22; Romans 9:3
Revelation 3:15-16
Luke 24:32
Matthew 24:12
Ecclesiastes 9:10

Want to be more passionate for God? Then read:

I. The Scope of Your Passion Matthew 22:37

II. The Strength of Your Passion Psalm 103:1

III. The Secret of Your Passion Romans 14:7-8 Colossians 3:17 1 Corinthians 10:31 Galatians 6:9

IV. The Source of Your Passion Romans 12 1 Corinthians 12

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