By Pastor Greg Byman
St Joe Community Church
January 6, 2019
As the calendar turns to 2019, millions of Americans will resolve to be better, and probably for millions of motivations. Too many Christians, however, are unwittingly making New Year's resolutions to earn God's love, and today Pastor Greg Byman dives into Romans 5:1,2 to implore the Christian to just "Give up."
Well, if you would, turn to Romans Chapter 5 in your bible. Romans Chapter 5. And somebody said, "well I don't have a newer Bible, to read I don't have a Bible with me to read.” Do you have one that I could have?”
And I'm going to say to you, that as you go out the door, go to your left, right there in the foyer, and there are some on the piano, that's sitting back in the foyer, right behind the glass walls, we have some hard copies of the version that I preach out of every Sunday, and you're welcome to take one, and when those disappear, we buy more. That's how that works. OK?
But in the meantime, and if you want to go back and get one while we're talking, a lot of times people love to get up in the middle of everybody, and say something…. No, they don't.
They all sit there. But we are going to be going through a series of messages on getting faithfully fit. Faith fit. Know you have “Fit-Bit”, you know, we're going to be “faith bit.” OK, and “Faith-Fit-Bit.” I'm not hip. I'm trying. I don't have one of those fancy watches. I think my phone says how many steps I’ve taken. I get 20 steps a day, at least. So, it's good.
I work on that. Some of you did, a couple people did, put on their prayer cards some praises. And I thought, Sarah, I think you put one on, and a few other people did. I’m singling you out because you are the only two people, I said last week, if you had a praise or a prayer from 2018, something to thank God about, then put it on your card and we'll make sure that we know about it, and we can share that and we're going to do that throughout this month.
If you have something you want to share. I believe, Gina, you put one on there too. You're shaking your head. So, I'm going to say....
There are things on here that are confidential. So, I don't want to.... This is our praise and prayer report that goes out to the prayer team so I want to make sure that....
But these, I thought, these are worth sharing. It says, "I am rejoicing in the miracle of my husband's healing with his heart. The church prayed for him and they were there during a very scary time. I am thankful for the church family at St Joe. I was so blessed to reconnect with John Waltemath after 41 years of not seeing him. And God used John to instill in me a very great heart to bring others to church.
Yeah. Praise God. Let's praise God for that.
And you all heard Sarah Fritz's testimony, but Sarah shares praise in 2018. I am alive and doing well. God has provided for our family and continues to show his love every day. And so, she continues. Let's praise God for that.
And what a positive spirit you and Kevin both have. As you go through your radiation coming up and you're on pause right now, is that correct? You’re in chemo. Sorry, and so her chemotherapy is on pause right now, and they're looking at her numbers and everything, but continue to pray for Sarah and with that going on in her life.
And, John Waltemath, for those of you that don't know him. Some of your brand new here. But John was a dear friend who was a minister in our church, that passed away on July 1st of this year (2018) and went home to be with the Lord.
I'm going to actually mention him in a minute as a as an example in one of my points this morning because John lived for Jesus and that's a praise for me, that he was in my life, and I had a couple of moments of just thanking God for him in my life and how I miss him. I wouldn't want to be here in the physical frailty that he was in. And he was ready to go to the Lord. He was ready to go home.
(Audience member): He touched a lot of people’s hearts.
Pastor Greg: So we have neighbors over here. You were his neighbors. He did. Amen. He was a good man, wasn't he Jodi?
You know, we don't normally do this, but I think I can trust the crowd this morning. Out loud, as somebody says, "I praise God” for just of a word or phrase, would somebody want to just shout out praise to God this morning from 2018? “I'm thankful for… praise God for…”
(Audience member): another day.
Pastor Greg: Amen. His faithfulness. Thank you, Kathy. Amen, Dave. Sherry you said….
(Audience member): His grace.
Pastor Greg: His grace. 51 days sober! Amen! Anybody else?
(Audience member): Family. Healing power.
Pastor Greg: Amen.
(Inaudible – laughter)
(Audience member): Church.
(Audience member): Jesus’ example.
Pastor Greg: Amen, Jane. Keep praying for Jane. She’s going through a lot of loss. Amen. Anybody else?
(Audience member): Praise God for his love.
Pastor Greg: Amen. Thank you, Kevin.
(Audience member): We’re also thankful that Dave Mitchel is still with us.
Pastor Greg: Amen, there you go. Yes!
All right, anybody else? If you think of something while we're going through today, I mean, none of you wander off when I'm talking, but if you, do feel free to write something down on your prayer card, praise card, let us know on that connection card how we can praise God with you in what's going on your life.
God is up to something big in all our lives. He wants to…. He invites us to join him in what he's doing in our world today, and we are privileged to be a part of his kingdom purposes.
And I am starting our message this morning on the title, “Give up.” You say, “That sounds really, really, negative.”
And I told Cody, when I was talking to him this week, I said, "I want you to come here and give up.” And he said, “you've got a twist on, that I'm sure.”
So, hang on. We’ve got something going here. But I want you to....
My question is, how many of you…. You don’t have to raise your hand, but you make New Year's resolutions? And then how many of you already broke them? It's only January 6th.
How many of you haven't even started them, but you have good intentions?
We all know that the easiest time to get a parking spot at the Y.M.C.A. is March.
Hardest time is tomorrow. You're not going to get anywhere. In fact, you get a lot of exercise just getting to the door, because you must park so far away from the exercise facility.
We all have good intentions. We all want to jump in. We all want to do something to make our lives better. And it isn't unusual, and I don't think it's wrong for us to think of an of a year-change, as a season of change. As a time to do something different. As a time to get back to church. As a time to get back to God's word. It's a time to…. You name it. Good, healthy habits that we need to have for our lives.
And we ought to.... I'm not saying not to embrace those things. In fact, in the next few weeks we are going to talk about how do you embrace the Bible ? How do you get back to God and spending time with him privately? And what are some habits that we build into our lives, that we can enjoy, that will encourage us, not to binge diet, you know, or to binge on doing something spiritually, but to start a rhythm of spirituality, that's healthy and holy and happy and it's enjoyable, and while we don't always have....
We're not always happy in the middle of those times, there's a lot of sadness in this world. There are tough times. And this world is not our home. And so, we're going to go through those times, but even so, there can be joy. There can be satisfaction. And what we're going to see today is there can be peace and grace. Unfathomable peace and grace in our lives. Not a feeling but a fact. Not something we base on whether we, you know, feelings are like, sometimes, I'm feeling kind of like upset, and kind of like, "I'm not just feeling good at all, and, oh yeah, I didn't eat today. I didn't eat lunch. OK, so I go get some food you feel better.
Now, I’m not talking about that kind of change. I'm talking about something in your countenance, that despite your circumstances, if you do have to miss a meal, heaven forbid (sarcasm), you can get through it without biting somebody's head off. And you can find God’s strength and peace in the midst of difficult....
And you can find balance in the midst of happiness and excitement. You know, how many of you, when something really great happens, you go, "OK there's a catch to this. Something else is going to happen.” You have a good day and you go, "Well these can’t always be that good. There's got to be a bad day coming somewhere.”
Sometimes, we do that. Bookstores and commercials are all telling us to dig deep right now. Self-help books, all kinds of diet plans on T.V. right now, all kinds of commercials that are being thrown at us.
As I was looking through, to study for this, I came up out of my study a book called “Made to Count” by Bob Reccord . And in chapter 6, he titles it, “The power lies within you, and other self-help lies.”
And he talked about the fact that when he looked through the book list, at the time that he is writing this book, he could see phrases at the bookstore like:
In other words, we need to dig deep within. Now, I want to say, we are going to talk about what you think about yourself, is how you're going to handle yourself.
But the power doesn't lie within it. It lies without. It lies outside of you. There is an external outside source that tells you who you are, and values you like no one else, and that value and that source of strength is not you. It's God. We don't have it within ourselves to think, "we're good enough.” And it may create a nice business deal, and might give you a firm handshake, and you might close a sale. You might even lose some weight. But your being will not be changed. Who you are and how you operate and finding the purpose that God has for your life will not be found through self-help methods of just digging deep and finding the power within you.
By the way, when you close your eyes, I don't know about you, but I find all kinds of ways not to do the right thing. How about you?
When I start thinking, in my imagination, on my own, without any kind of outside help, I don't like what I think, sometimes. I must find something outside of myself.
So, this morning, I want to give you the clue. Give up! 2019 is here, and as you look at that year and you think about how that year is going to unfold, and how you're going to create new plans and new goals and new ways, the first thing I want you to do is to give up. I want you to give up doing it your way. Give up trying to find it from within. Trying to just put a little more elbow grease in my spirituality.
I want you to start by reading Romans 5:1,2. And we're going to break this verse down and talk about it. Why I’m telling us this morning to give up.
Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and through him, we have obtained access by faith, and to this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Earlier we read the passage of Abraham, at that time named Abram, who had taken matters into his own hands and God said, "no, no, I’m going to cause your wife, who is beyond child-bearing years, to have a baby.”
[Abraham replied] “No, I don’t that’s going to happen….”
[God replied] “No, you’re going to have a child and that child is going to be the one through which the blessing will come through, and you look up into the stars, and you look out on the beaches of the sand, and you're going to see that your offspring will be as numerous as what you see in the sky.”
You know, I just, in my mind, I think, "I wonder if when God was creating the stars, and it says, ‘He created the heavens in the stars for our good, for our appreciation, for our enjoyment,’ I wonder if, when he did that, he was thinking, ‘You know, in a little while I’m going to create mankind, and when I create mankind, I'm going to bring Abram out, and I'm going to show him all the stars. I'm going to tell him, I'm going to blow his mind.’ I'm going to tell him, ‘You're going to have so many kids, you can't even count them. Some of you are going, “Whoa.”
That's not.... He only had one kid. But his offspring, his heritage, would be that so many others would come from him. And I wonder, you know, God is God, but he's a personal God. And I don't know if God smiles or frowns, but I wonder if he just smiled, thinking about, ‘I'm going to bring Abram out, and call him to myself, and show him what kind of a plan I have for this world, through him.
And Abram, when he heard God say that, it says that he believed God. He believed it to be true, that that would really happen. And it was that belief that caused him to be perfect in God's sight, not his works, not what he did, not how good he was, not that he had called, and not that he had followed God's call, and gone, and said, and left his idolatrous family and moved into a new place and God said, "I'm going to take you to the land where I’m going to show you,” and he believed that, he went....
It said, "when he believed God, it wasn't his works that saved him. It was his faith in God's word.”
You've got to give up this idea that you're earning your way into heaven. That you're earning your way into God's favor. If you are Christian, you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are following him. You know that Jesus died for your sins. He's come to save you and you personally received that. You're blessed! And you can't get more blessed than you're already blessed. And you have a bad day, sometimes we have a bad day, we think, "oh, that's not a good day. I'm not blessed.”
You're already blessed. And you're standing before God will not change.
So, let’s break this passage down. I put the points up all at once. You don't have to write them down. You can go online and find these later when we get them uploaded. But I put them all at once this morning, because I want to kind of buzz through, and I want to show you kind of how I broke this down and how I studied it, and again it's a way for you to think about when you're studying scripture, take it verse by verse. Take each word. Take each phrase, and kind of think through the words in the phrases and then put it all together for the story of what God is telling you in a verse or two verses or a paragraph in the Bible.
So, let's look at this together. First of all, it says,
"Therefore, since we have been declared righteous,”
And the word “therefore” is actually looking back to the chapters before it. When you see the word “therefore” it means therefore, as in other words , based on what we just talked about, such-and-such. This is what's going to happen. This is what I mean. He builds a case to say what he's going to say next, and that has built the case all the way up to this point, and it kind of summarizes it.
“…Since we've been declared righteous, we have been declared righteous.”
And if you look at that particular word in the Greek, that is the aorist tense. You don't have to know that for the test tomorrow, but we have been, in the Greek word, it's a past event with a current effect. It continues to happen, but it's already been taken care. Of it's a past action, that was done. Based on what God did, not what you are doing right now.
“Since we are declared righteous” would mean that it is based on the present circumstances of your life. And there are some days when you might look pretty righteous, and there are other days when you don't look pretty righteous. And so that would come and go, if it said, "since we are declared righteous.”
It says, "we have been declared righteous.” We are already righteous. Perfect. “justified” is the other word you could use in there. Some of your versions might say that. And the word justified is “just as if” I have never sinned. You can think of it that way. Wow! You mean, when I stand in front of God, and the blood of Jesus Christ, that was shed on the cross, I am trusting what he did to save me from my sins, that God sees me as perfect, and I'm telling you, "yes.”
Because he sees Christ, not you. And I'm thankful for that. I'm grateful that on my worst day, as a Christian, I'm still just as right in his sight as my best day, and even my best day isn't even good enough to be perfect.
“Therefore, we have been declared righteous. All our sins are wiped away. We have peace with God.”
Whoa. Peace. That word means to bind together what has been separated . You know, when you talk about having peace with God, with someone who does not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and you may be in this room. You kind of stumbled in here, and going, “somebody's invited me here” or you came because you knew it’s the first of the year and you need to figure out church. I don't know, but you have not yet embraced Christ. You must realize that you are currently an enemy of God if you don't know Jesus.
You say, "well that's not very nice.”
Well, you're the one who has offended a holy God. God has not offended you. You're the one that has said, "I don't want to do things your way.” You're the one that has said, "I want to do it my way.” And it is our responsibility to accept and understand that truth.
At St Joe, when we talk about telling other people about Jesus Christ, and when we talk about operating ourselves on Sunday mornings, and warmly welcoming new people, and trying to make sure the front door is unlocked, at least, and that we that we say hi to people, and we're so glad they're here, and I wave to people, and we try to be a neighborly church to people, and we try to share Christ.
What I’ve tried to say to many people, in our church family, is, "we don't want to be personally offensive. I wouldn't want what I do….
I jokingly say, "I try to drive correctly, but I don't put a fish on the back of my car, because if I cut somebody off, they might curse Jesus. I don't know. But the reality is, we don't want to do something that would cause people to not want to follow Jesus, in our behavior, in the way we live, in the way we act.
And if you're at work, and you offend a coworker, and you can hear it in the break room, when you're not even there, “they call themselves a Christian and that's how they treated me” you know how you stop that? Well, you quit doing what you did. But the other thing is you go apologize. You say, “you know what? I'm better than that. I know better than that. God's got convicted me.”
Don’t do the “God card” like, you know, “I'm a Christian and I got a….” Instead, say, "you know what, I was totally wrong. And I just totally blew it. Will you forgive me? You see, humility goes a long way, and we need to be willing to do our best to not be offensive, because, what my point is, at the end of this, is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, the fact that we are sinner, that are saved by grace, that's an offensive enough message, and it must offend us, or we’ll never accept it. We must be offended by the fact that we have offended a holy God, and that we are enemies of God, and that we need to be made right with God, and we need to have peace with God. And that if we're not a Christian, we're not at peace with God. We're enemies of God.
That must be, that is the clarion call of the Christian movement in the world. That the Bible says is a story of a love story of a God who loves us so much, and yet we have rejected that love when we come into this world. Adam and Eve rejected that love, and said, "we're going to do it our way. We don't believe you, God.”
And that seed of sinfulness was born in all of us. And at some point, we need to be made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and a Christian can know that we can give up trying to be at peace with God. We give up because we have been declared righteous because of our faith in Jesus Christ and we have peace with God, peace that binds us with God. Now we are not separated. We no longer must fear God. It's a fact, not a feeling. He's my forever father. It's a reality that will not change.
Maybe you put your faith in Jesus Christ, and you know you did. And we're not talking about some sort of, "I went to a youth conference and they all went forward and so did I, and somebody put their hand on my head, and I'm blessed.” No. Or, “I got wet in a baptismal tank.” No, you really found Christ. And you really put your faith in him. But maybe in this past few months or years, you've been drifting. And you're really convicted about it. And you realize that you're not where you ought to be. And you're struggling and you're saying, "god, I'm not worthy to be in front of you. I’m not the kind of person…. Jesus, I put my faith in you, and yet, I have so offended you by my life. Surely, I'm banished from you. Because of what I did. And if that's your attitude this morning, I want you to know that if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ....
I'm not talking about somebody that just went through a little prayer, and a little bit of water, and a little bit of this or that, and they just kind of went out and thought they had it all figured out. I mean, someone who really wanted to put their faith in Christ. And here you are. And you're going, "I don’t know.”
I want you to know, that if that's you this morning, you have been declared righteous, when you put your faith in him because faith, when you said you believed him, it was credited to you, just as Abraham, it was credited him righteousness, it was credited to you. You were given justification. You were just as if you never sinned. And you have peace with God, and that peace continues. You did not slip into being an enemy of God. You are still at peace with God, and you need to give up this idea that you must earn your right to be in God's favor again. You didn't earn it when you got there, and you can't keep earning it to keep it. It is yours and God gave it to you. We see we have peace with God.
John Waltemath, I mentioned that. The last, I would say, May or April. He began to look at me once in a while and he'd say, "I don't know if I’m good enough.” Well, those of you that know John, you're like, "man, if he's not good enough.... Ain’t no hope for none of us! I mean, that man walked with God!”
And he'd say, "I don't know if God's offended by me. I hope I’ve done enough.”
Now, I know that phrase. “I hope I’ve done enough. I hope I’ve lived up to the claim I said I believed in.” I hope I’ve done more than what I think I’ve done. I hope that God is satisfied with my life.”
But he had this fear. And one day in particular, he didn’t say, “I hope I get in” but he was almost at the point of saying, “Did I really put my faith in him?” And I said, "John, are you trusting in what you did, or you're trusting on the promise of God?”
And he said, “I'm trusting on the promise of God.” And all that fear lifted. Because if we had to trust in what we did, you and I know we would fail. We would never get to the finish line. We would never break the tape because none of us are good enough to get into heaven. It takes a holy God to save us. A loving God who wants to save us. And our willingness to accept what he has done for us already. Give up. This idea that you're going to earn your way into the favor of God.
We stand in grace. It says in verse 2,
“And through him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace, in which we stand.”
We stand in the grace of God. It's our standing, not our state. It's our standing. It's continued acceptance by God. A place where we have been put by God. Our faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins gives us the standing and you can just see Grace. The word grace G-R-A-C-E. God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense.
And I'm a stickler for words, and for you English teachers, I meant to put an apostrophe after the D and the S.
Sorry about that. I just saw that. That's two weeks in a row now. I'll try to get that right next time.
(Audience member: We’re not in school right now.)
Pastor Greg: Grammar is always in school.
(Audience member: And you didn’t bold the R on “Grace.”)
Oh, I didn't do the R bolding.
Thank you, Thank you. Wow. God's Redemption At Christ's Expense. That was the point. Not to get messed up with....
It was our faith in Christ and what he did for us that puts us where we are, in front of God. “only to the cross I cling,” that old hymn says. We stand in the grace of God. Don't try to earn that standing. And it says, "Finally, we rejoice in the hope of God's glory. Peace and grace. That peace and that grace gives us the confidence to get through whatever circumstances we're in. We rejoice in the hope of God's glory because who we are is not determined by what we do.
There's a difference between God the Judge and God the Father and we're going to talk about that next week . And when you preach like this, they'll be some to say, "well you're going to give some people an idea that they can just find Jesus and not do anything, and continue into a life of sin, and kind of like cheapen God's grace, and get away with it.”
Chuck Swindoll wrote a book and, I actually got for Christmas. It is called, “Grace Awakening.” And the whole idea was that we've got grace killers all over the place, trying to tell us that we don't live in the grace of God. We must do something to earn the favor of God. It's called legalism.
In my day, it was kind of fundamental independent Baptist. And they had measuring sticks at the back for the ladies' dresses to make sure they were long enough. And I lived in a community full of another denomination that I won't mention. But there were full of people that were doing everything they could to give an external appearance that they were perfect, and they were right with God, given the way they dressed. No T.V.'s or radios. They had to make sure. And the Internet split the church, because that was that was a problem for them, because they didn't believe in.... And they didn’t even have Citizen Band (CB radios) for their tractors. CBs. They had to use F.M. band, because it was private, and not connected to the world, and they had to figure this out, and because they had set up all these rules.
I worked on a farm with a family that was in that church and I said, "So how do you come up with these rules of how to live? And what if times change?”
And they said, “Well, if you have a rule, you have to find a Bible verse that fits the rule. And then you have to find other bible verses to go against the rule if you want to change the rule.”
Well, it's a whole lot easier to find rules in the Bible than it is to find bible verses to get rid of a man-made rule. That was a problem with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In Jesus’ day, they had all these rules for how you are right with God. Women couldn't even look in the mirror and pluck an eyebrow, because that was work on the Sabbath. They could do it any other day of the week, but they couldn't do it on the Sabbath day.
There were certain things you couldn't do. And they all got tripped up and how they how they lived their lives to the point that there wasn't anybody that was clean, and the people that thought they were clean, Jesus called them white washed tombs. They look good on the outside, but they are dead on the inside.
I guess if I'm going to err on the side of telling people that God's grace is sufficient, and that his gift of life is free and that you need to give up trying to earn favor with God, at the risk of somebody thinking they're going to get away with doing whatever they want, and I'm going to tell you that's not what I'm saying. Rather, instead of harping on the fact that we need to do all we can to earn our favor with God, which is not Biblical, anyway, but to set up a bunch of rules and then all of a sudden, we're now in the oppression that Jesus faced when he came into this world. I wouldn't do that. And many a theologian has struggle with that very truth. Even Martin Luther struggled with that truth. And that's what the Catholic Church actually accused Martin Luther of doing when he talked about the grace of God being sufficient. When he read Romans for the first time, and the eyes that God showed him, that it was by grace you're saved through faith, and that not of your works, it is the gift of God, which is what Paul wrote about in Ephesians. And he was accused of letting people get off and thinking they can do whatever they want, and that wasn't the point at all. The point is that we aren't good enough. We'll never be good enough, and it is only what Jesus did that makes us good enough.
Let me give you an illustration and we're going to go.
Let's just say a good day versus a bad day.
Good day. You wake up early. You get your Bible out. It was already laid out for you. Maybe you have one of those coffeemakers that it already starts. Maybe you don't need coffee because you're spiritual. And you get your Bible out and you read it. And you pray. And you name everybody in your family, and you have just enough time to get your oatmeal or whatever it is for breakfast. And you get off to work and you bless people and you do the right thing.
Everything just lays out perfectly for you while you're at work. And then, all of a sudden, you stumble upon somebody that you begin to realize, "I know I can share Christ with this person. They don't know Jesus and they've opened the door for me to talk to them about my testimony, about how you know Jesus.”
And you think to yourself, “God has really blessed me today.” And you feel blessed because of how wonderful this day has gone.
Bad day. Get up late. You don’t even get your Bible. “where is it? I left it at church. It's Tuesday. What's the deal?
Anyway, and you're trying to figure things out. They don't get your order right at “Dunkin Donuts.” Dunkin, sorry not Donuts anymore.
You're upside down at work. You kind of tell somebody off, in so many words. You're a little passive aggressive. You're not mean. You just sort of, you know. And you kind of go through the day forgetting to pray. You don't walk with God. You don't have the presence of Jesus with you. You just kind of do your thing. You're making it, barely. And you stumble upon somebody that you realize, "oh, they're kind of open to talking about God right now,” and you're getting ready to share Jesus with them and you think, "man, I am the least blessed person at all. This has been the worst day of my life, and God certainly isn't around me, and I certainly can't feel blessed right now because I’ve had a bad day.
Now, there are days when you feel, and you sense, and you know the blessing of God in a fresh way, and things happen that you're like, "I can’t explain that. God did it.”
But on your worst day, and on your best, day you are still blessed by God.
Let me you a phrase from Jerry Bridges’ book, “The Discipline of Grace”
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace and your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.”
Did you hear that? You're never beyond the reach of God's grace, when you've not done it right, and you don't have enough grace on your own manufacturing to be good enough. You still need the grace of God, even on a good day.
Why is it that we think, “well, if I do the right thing, I’ll be blessed? If I do the wrong thing, I’ll be blasted.”
Yes, Proverbs is true, as principle, you do the right things, good things happen, you do the bad things, bad things happen. That's a generally true statement.
Read The Book of Job. He did everything right, it seems. And yet, everything bad happened. What's that phrase, “sometimes bad things happen to good people.” And you know what's crazy? Sometimes, a lot of times, “good things happen to bad people!” Rain in drought occurs for wicked farmers and godly farmers. Godly people get fired from jobs. Laid off. And wicked people get laid off. But the grace of God is abundant in the Christian life. And a good day, or a bad day. It's not about that. You've got to give up this idea that I'm earning my status in front of God. Your status is already secure.
So, give up.
Maybe this morning, you still think that in some way, you have to W-O-R-K your way into God's favor. You've got to work.
“I gotta get back to church more and I’ll put my mark in a little bit more, because I'm feeling guilty.”
You know how to get rid of the guilt? You ask God to forgive you, and you trust in what Jesus did for you. And you place your faith in Jesus Christ. That's how you give up if you're not a Christian. If you're not a believer in Jesus, you need to just simply tell Jesus,
“I blew it. I was wrong. I can't live my life my way. You're right. And I’ve done everything I can to be good enough, and I’ll never be good enough. I give up trying to be good enough. Jesus You're the only perfect person to ever walk this earth, and I put my faith in you this morning.”
And if you've never done that this morning, I want you to take that connection card that was in your bulletin, and I want you to check the box, “I'm placing my faith in Jesus Christ today.” If that's really where you are, and that's where you want to go, with your life, to put your life in his hands.
You're basically saying,
"as best I know how, Jesus, I give you my life to do with as you please. I'm yours. I'm done doing it my way. I'm done earning my way. I've offended you and I'm done. I want to have peace with you. I don't want to be an enemy of you.”
Put your faith in Him. Trust in him. Allow him to fill your life with himself, and to start and to erase the guilt that you're living with. That guilt is.... You can't shoulder that guilt. You can't handle it.
And finally, for those of us that are followers of Jesus Christ this morning, enjoy your faith in Jesus Christ! Rejoice in what God's done for you, it says! Rejoice in it!
Some people...I think they've already been embalmed.
They're walking around so sober minded. (Mockingly downcast) “Ohhhh, I got to live for Jesus. I have to be right and holy.”
Yes, you do have to be right and holy you trust in God for the holiness, and you live in the power of God to be holy and you enjoy your status with him.
You remember that old phrase, “children are to be seen and not heard.” Well that phrase was broken in my house growing up, in the house my kids grew up in. I would never want my kids to be so....
I don't think you want your kids coming in saying, “Ohhhh, father and mother….”
“…we’re so grateful that you brought us into this world and you didn't take us out when we we’re born.”
“….Or when we were teenagers. When we wrecked the car. You are so good to us.”
As if they must earn their right into the house. They must earn the right into your love.
No, they have your love, period. You know, you may not trust them. That is different, and we're going to talk about that in a couple weeks.
But their standing before you is that they're your child. You love them, and by God's grace you love them, and you're working with them, and you want them to enjoy the relationship you have with them. Well, if that's how we are as earthly parents, and we know that's what we want, and if those of you who have parents that work that way, and you long for it, and you wish that's how it used to be, you know that's not right, that you want something more, than that's ….
If God calls you his father, it's not (moribund intonation) “Father.” Rather, it’s (excited intonation)
“Father! My dad! In Heaven! Hallowed be your name! In heaven! Your kingdom come! Your will be done! On earth, as it is in heaven! Give me the daily bread! Please, God, you're my sustainer. You're the one who takes care of me. Oh, and forgive me for how I have offended you, even as I'm forgiving people, and you've given me that power, God, to forgive other people in my life.”
You go to him, not with some formalized King James Version prayer, but you go to him with your heart string just absolutely strumming the tune of,
“I rejoice in the fact that you're my God, and I'm enjoying the faith you gave me because I wasn't good enough. I'll never be good enough. But you said that's OK. That I was supposed to give up trying to be good enough to earn your favor.”
Let’s stand to our feet. I don’t know where you're at this year. Maybe you've already figured this out, but I'm telling you what, I still do mental gymnastics in my life in this very fact, and so when I talk about this, I'm talking to myself as much as anyone else in this room. But I set up these rules for the way I think God's going to bless me and if I don't hit that mark in my life as the pastor, as a dad, as a husband, I think, "well I'm surely going to get blasted this week.”
And I had this feeling like something bad is going to happen to me, because you know, I’ll probably get a bad disease or something that, and I know, I don't say I'm totally that way, but we just had this operational mode, that we think, and Americans are especially this way. We pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make her happen, and hunker down, and you work hard, and you get a good living, and you're going to have a good house, and a good family, and I'm telling you what, this works mentality that thinks that we're going to do that, doesn't translate when it comes our relationship with God.
Just give up. Relax in the arms of a God who wants to embrace you this morning. And love you like no one else in this world ever could. In a moment, as we sing, you can come down and ask for prayer. Use that card. Write on it. Put it in the offering box when you leave today. I don't know how God's asking you to respond, but don't leave here without doing business with God. And doing whatever his heart, in your heart, you know he's asking you to do.
Father God this morning, may we honor you. May we put our faith in you. May we surrender. May we give up in a fresh way this morning. And trust in what you said you would do for us if only we would put our faith in you. And I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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