Called to be holy

1 Peter 1:13-16

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Being holy is being like God

  • We are called to pursue God’s holiness in our lives
  • How do we do it?

Asking and answering 5 questions to become more holy:

 Am I humble before God confessing my sins and walking in the light of His forgiveness?

James 4:1-10

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

  • Humility opens up the flow of God’s grace into our lives, while pride separates us from God
  • 1 John 1:7-9

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

  • When I confess my sins, God forgives and cleanses me

Do I understand the spiritual battle and do I have a disciplined mind for action?

1 Peter 1:13

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled…

  • This is a call to action right before the battle

2 Cor. 10:3-5

3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • We are in a war but we don’t fight like the world
  • We have divinely powerful weapons
  • Our weapons enable us to demolish and take captive errant thoughts
  • We demolish entrenched ideas, false thinking, habits of the mind and we take captive errant thoughts and make them obedient to Christ

Is my focus on Jesus with an eternal perspective?

1 Peter 1:13

… set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

  • This is the primary command of this verse; we are to fix or set our hope on Christ and the grace He will give us when He returns
  • We are to be occupied with our eternal reward, it is to fill our thoughts and influence or priorities and decisions right now

Colossians 3:1-4

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

  • Our lives pursue what our minds meditate on. Meditate on Jesus and your life in heaven with Him

Am I being intentional in resisting temptation and worldly desires?

1 Peter 1:14

14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

  • Don’t blindly follow the pattern of thinking, feeling and acting that used to characterize your life!
  • There is a worldly pattern that is dominated by evil desires, don’t choose it actively or passively

Romans 13:12-14

12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

  • Don’t plan on sinning by deliberate choice or by being stupid or by making provision for sin to deceive or control you
  • Instead clothe yourself with Christ. Put on Jesus, His virtues, His attitudes and choose to be obedient

Am I worshipping God by actively pursuing His holiness?

1 Peter 1:15-16

15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

  • Holiness is a choice

2 Cor. 7:1

1Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

  • If our motivation is not driven by pleasing, loving and fearing God, then it will quickly become burdensome legalism and self-deceiving religiosity
  • Check your heart. Ask God for a pure heart to pursue after Him out of love and a sincere desire to be holy 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
  • Psalm 96:9

Holiness is always translated into character-driven action

7 Step Strategy for Influencing People for Christ

 

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men…” When we receive Christ and become one of His followers, by definition of our identity, we also become His witnesses. Influencing other people for Christ is both our birthright and our privilege. How can we do it well? Here is a seven step strategy:

  1. Live: Let your light shine before people and be a Spirit empowered witness (Matthew 5:16, Acts 1:8)
  2. Love: Love your neighbor, be a servant, build a relationship (Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 25:31-40, 1 Thessalonians 2:8)
  3. Pray: Ask God for divine appointments to wisely and graciously speak the message (Colossians 4:1-6)
  4. Invite: Invite people to a place where they can meet Jesus. One of the best places is your local church (Mark 2:13-17, Acts 2:41-47)
  5. Share: Take the initiative to tell people your story and Christ’s story and then leave the results with God (Mark 16:15, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
  6. Answer: Be prepared to give an answer to any questions or objections people have to the gospel (1 Peter 3:15)
  7. Follow up: Build an ongoing relationship to encourage and mentor people in the faith (1 Thessalonians 1:5-8)

 

CH Spurgeon, the great English preacher of the nineteenth century, was asked once by a young leader, “How can I be used of God to lead people to Christ?” Spurgeon’s answer was brilliant, “Young man, set yourself on fire and people will come and watch you burn!” When we are on fire for Christ, excited about His love, contagious with His work in our lives, then God will use us to influence others. So, if the seven step strategy seems too mechanical, throw it out the window and just live a Spirit empowered contagious life for Jesus and He will use you to influence others for Christ!

Are you living a Spirit filled life?

 

Are you living a Spirit filled life? God’s desire and command is that every believer surrender to His control and experiencing the infilling of the Holy Spirit by faith. The Holy Spirit has been given to us by God to change our lives. 1 Corinthians 2:10-3:3 declares:

10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.3 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

The Apostle Paul is describing the work of the Holy Spirit and how people respond differently to His work. He explains that the Holy Spirit reveals God to us. His job is to lead us into the knowledge of God and to manifest God’s presence in our lives. In fact, every aspect of Christian growth, discipleship and service is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives. Consider this short survey on the Spirit’s work:

  1. The Spirit regenerates us and causes us to be born again (John 3:1-8)
  2. The Spirit leads us into a deeper knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 1:16-18)
  3. The Spirit guides us into the truth (John 16:13-15)
  4. The Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1:8)
  5. The Spirit produce His fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23)
  6. The Spirit gives us victory over the flesh (Romans 8:1-17)
  7. The Spirit helps us pray (Romans 8:26-27)
  8. The Spirit gives us spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12)
  9. The Spirit set us free from being selfish (Galatians 5:13-16)
  10. The Spirit transforms us to become more like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
  11. The Spirit gives us a heart of worship (Ephesians 5:18-20)
  12. The Spirit makes us bold to speak God’s Word (Acts 4:31)

 

Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 2:10-3:3 that people relate to the Spirit in one of three ways: 1) There are those without the Spirit, they are unspiritual or non-believers 2) There are those led and directed by the Spirit, they are spiritual or Spirit filled and 3) There are those who have the Spirit but they are infants in not obeying the Spirit, they are worldly or carnal. To be spiritual it means that we are led by the Spirit and we obey the Spirit. That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit we experience the ministry of the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit the Spirit does in our lives what He came to do. To be filled with the Spirit we must by faith (Galatians 3:1-6):

  1. Surrender to the Spirit’s control-Romans 8:9-13
  2. Ask for the Spirit’s guidance and empowerment-Luke 11:13
  3. Seek and receive the Spirit’s infilling-John 7:37-39

These attitudes and actions toward the Spirit are to be a daily and moment by moment experience. When they are, then we are living a Spirit filled life.

 

 

 

 

Just a dollars worth of Jesus

When I was younger, for some reason, I rarely filled my tank up with gas. I would drive around, almost on empty and then put a few dollars worth of gas in the tank. This would get me by for a couple of days until I precariously ran low again and again! Having a full tank of gas insures that you can drive for many miles.
How’s your spiritual tank doing? Are you running on empty or are you operating with a full tank? Ephesians 5:18 commands us, “…be filled with the Spirit”. The Christian life is a supernatural life and it can only be authentically lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me suggest you take a moment right now and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Consciously surrender every area of your life to the Spirit’s control and ask for His help. Remember the Holy Spirit is our Helper. Jesus promised that He would guide us into the truth and empower our lives (John 14:16-18, Acts 1;18)
For more study, look up Luke 11:13, John 16:13-15, Acts 1:8, Galatians 3:1-6, Galatians 5:16-25, Romans 8:1-16 and Ephesians 5:18-21. When we are empowered by the Spirit we are living out of a full tank and that’s really living!

Praying to follow Jesus on mission

Praying to follow Jesus
Matthew 9:35-38
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvestfield.”
This passage is snapshot in a day in the life of Jesus. He spent His time teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel, and healing the sick. He saw people in their spiritual need and He felt compassion for them. Jesus called His disciples together and declared that the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few. He then commanded that His followers ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest field.
Today, every believer and every church is charged with the same commission of Jesus. As followers of Christ we are called to serve people with compassion, to proclaim the gospel, to make disciples and to bring healing into people’s lives. Like the first disciples, we are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out from our congregations, workers into the harvest field.
Prayer

  1. Thank Jesus for your salvation and tell Him of your availability today to be a servant and worker; ask Him to use you to bring His compassion to others
  2. Pray for your Church to see the people around them, to feel compassion and to reach out in practical ministry to serve people where they are and bring the gospel to them
  3. Pray that you are a life-giving person and that your Church is a life-giving community where everyone experiences healing, encouragement, discipleship and the compassion of Jesus
  4. Pray for workers to be sent out from your Church to all the nations; surrender to God’s will and be willing to be a worker yourself that is sent out on mission.

Praying with you and for you,
Pastor JP

Praying for your Church #2

Praying for your Church
1 Peter 2:1-12
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave the pure spiritual milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ….But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Peter’s exhortation is in the context of the Church. Your local Church is a spiritual house, a royal priesthood. The Church is built on the rock of Christ and we are living stones. We are to repent of sin and long for the Word of God. We are to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Believers in Christ are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; we are God’s special possession. Because of our new identity, we are to declare His praises, live good lives and bring glory to God by our witness to the pagans. All of this is expressed in and through the new community of the Church. Your Church.
To be a believer in Christ is to receive a new identity and a new calling. The community of the Church is where we worship, grow and corporately witness the gospel to the world. Let’s pray that we live out our identity and fulfill our calling.
Prayer

  1. Acknowledge to Jesus that He is your Lord and that you are a worshiper, a servant and a disciple
  2. Thank the Lord for being made a new person and being connected to a new community, the Church. Thank the Lord for your Church
  3. Ask Jesus to make your entire congregation hungry for His Word and eager to bring your offerings and sacrifices to Him in worship
  4. Pray that every believer understands, receives and lives out their new identity in Christ and shines the light of Christ to everyone
  5. Pray that by your good deeds and by your bold and loving words, you are witnesses of Christ to your neighbors, your community and the world
  6. Pray for your Church to be in every way the Church described in 1 Peter 2:1-12

Praying with you and for you,
Pastor JP

Praying to be holy

Praying to be holy
1 Peter 1:13-17
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
This passage is a call to holiness. Unfortunately holiness has gotten a bad rap over the years. We equate it with religious legalism and outdated fundamentalism. Nothing could be further from the truth! Being holy is being like God. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” Being holy means to be set apart from one thing and dedicated to a new thing. We are to be set apart from our old life of selfishness, independence and darkness. We are to be dedicated to our new life in Christ, a life of dependence upon the Holy Spirit and a life of walking in Jesus’ light. Peter exhorts us to do this with alert minds that are focused on the eternal reality of Christ’s coming revelation and on all the grace that is going to be brought to us in Christ. We are to be heavenly minded so that we can be earthly good! God’s desire for all believers is that in our daily lives and in the community of the Church, we pursue His holiness and live with God as our audience.
Prayer

  1. Ask Jesus to show you the grace that is waiting for you in heaven. Surrender your whole life to live with an eternal perspective as a follower of Christ
  2. Pray for your entire Church Body to live holy lives and to become more and more like Jesus
  3. Pray that you go deeper in God’s Word, live out of Biblical convictions, walk more in step with the Spirit and manifest more of Jesus’ love in your everyday life
  4. Pray that your Church is contagious with the gospel so that everyday someone in your community is influenced to turn from darkness, to be set apart for Christ, to seek to be holy as God is holy and to become a part of your growing Church
  5. Pray that every member of Christ’s Church grows in holiness, in the fear of the Lord and in the hope of the grace we will receive when Christ returns
  6. Pray that you live with eternal priorities, store up treasures in heaven and seek to do all you can to advance the Kingdom of God

Praying with you and for you,
Pastor JP

Praying like the Apostle Paul

Colossians 1:9-12
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father
The Apostle Paul was a praying servant-leader. In virtually all of his letters there is a prayer he prayed for the churches and for individual Christ followers. This is Paul’s prayer for the Church at Colossae. The Holy Spirit inspired these words and it is a prayer for us to pray today. Read this passage over again and pray for yourself and pray for your Church. Let these truths become part of God’s vision for your life.
Prayer
1. Ask the Lord to give you a deeper knowledge of God and His will for your life and Church
2. Pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to you, that you will listen and will receive a God-size vision
3. Pray that you will be transformed by the Spirit, live a live worthy of the Lord, bear much fruit and continually grow in your knowledge of God
4. Pray that you will be strengthened with the power of the Spirit to have great faith and endurance in following Christ
5. Pray that you and your entire Church will be contagious with the joy, gratitude, generosity and thankfulness of Christ
When God’s people pray God-sized prayers, God produces God-sized fruit!

Bible Study-The Power of the Gospel: Romans 1:1-7

The Power of the Gospel
Romans 1:1-7
See It
Read Romans 1:1-7
1. What do you think is the big idea in this passage?
2. Why do you think the Apostle Paul would focus his whole life on preaching the gospel?
3. What does the gospel mean to you?
Know It
4. Look up the following verses and make observations about the content of the gospel:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Romans 3:23-26
Romans 5:8-11
5. What is the gospel message?
6. What does the gospel say about God?
7. What does the gospel say about sin?
8. What does the gospel say about Jesus?
9. What does the gospel say about man’s response?
Live It
10. According to these verses what should our response be to the gospel?
Romans 10:9-12
Mark 8:34-38
11. What does God require of us in response to the gospel message?
12. What is your response to the gospel?
13. How will this study affect your relationship with God as a worshipper and as a witness for Christ?

Abiding in Jesus: The Key to Fruitful Living

Abiding in Jesus: The Key to Fruitful Living
John 15:1-8
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
I. Jesus is the True Vine, the only source for spiritual life
• Jesus refers to Himself as the True Vine (the last of the I AM statements in John’s Gospel)
• The OT refers to Israel as the vineyard of the Lord
Is. 5:7
7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are the garden of his delight.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress
• Jesus emphasizes that He is the Vine, the True!
• Jesus uses “I, me or my” 21 times
• Jesus says, I am the true vine; apart from me you can do nothing; and abide in Me (NIV=remain, stay connected)
• As the true vine Jesus is the only source of spiritual life and nourishment
John 7:37-39
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
II. Jesus is committed to producing His fruit in our lives
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
• The verb “take away” is the Greek airo; it means lift up, to raise up, lift up to take away or take away. The word for prunes is kathairo from the word kathoros which means to cleanse or purifiy. The ancient custom was not to cut off branches but to lift them out of the dirt so that they could get sun and to wash them with water to get rid of the bugs. The whole point was to get as many branches as possible bearing as much fruit as they could.
• Jesus will lift us out of the dirt and cleanse us so that we may be fruitful
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
• Jesus is teaching about abiding so that we can be fruitful
• Fruit is the manifestation of Jesus in our lives
• Fruit is the outward evidence of the inward nature; our new nature is Christ in us, so fruit is the manifestation of Christ in our lives
III. We Must Admit that we can do nothing apart from Christ
John 15:4-5
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
• Christ is the only source of spiritual life and apart from Him we can do nothing
• Our self-effort is pseudo-Christianity; It is a cheap imitation; It is a false veneer of authentic Christianity; It is a counterfeit of a true abiding personal relationship with Jesus
• We are either apathetic, legalistic, desperate or dependent on Christ
• If we are not 24/7 moment by moment dependent on Christ, then anything else is just religion
IV. We live fruitful lives by abiding in Jesus
• This passage mentions abiding 8 times
• The word abide is meno and means to stay connected to, immerse yourself in, draw upon, rely upon, depend upon
• Example of watching show where they were testing men’s capacity to function in an oxygen deprived environment, they demonstrated abnormal behavior. When oxygen levels returned to normal they resumed normal functioning. When we live disconnected from Christ we are deceived and our experience is affected, we were made to live in union with and moment by moment dependence upon Jesus
V. Abiding in Jesus involves a dependence on and commitment to the Word and Prayer
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
• If you abide in Me and My words abide in you
• We need to get ourselves totally into Jesus and we need to get His Word totally into us!
• We need to respond to the Word with regular, spontaneous and personal prayer; This is two way communication
• You will ask…this is continuous asking, all the time (Mt. 7:7-11)
• You will ask what you desire… this is praying about everything; of course our desire has been saturated with the word (Ps. 37:4)
• Are you a
1) never asker,
2) rarely asker,
3) occasional asker,
4) regular asker,
5) continual asker?
• This is the key to the Christian life, we are plugged into Christ, we are saturating our lives with His Word, we are continually talking to Him in prayer, He answers our prayers, produces His fruit, glorifies God and we show ourselves to be His disciples
• This is the abundant and fruitful Christian life: Abiding in Jesus