We can all struggle at times, this week Kent shares one of his struggles and how God can help us all find a different way forward by loosening our hold on the things of this world. When you give at Harmony, you are investing in life change and are Advancing the Kingdom! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give . ——————-
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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Do you guys remember a few weeks ago I wasn’t feeling very well on a Sunday? I went home that day and was sitting around feeling like I should do something… I had promised Jenni I would install this faucet we had from our old house and this water filter under the sink…
I wasn’t feeling great, but I decided to do it anyway, because, you know, I’m dumb. I shoving myself under the sink. Have you ever seen one of those people who puts their body in a small little box? That’s what it was like, I’m all contorted trying to fit my big body in this little space, arms up against my face, barely able to reach… I get everything removed and start to install it and then I realize, I don’t have everything I need to finish the install. By this point, I feel miserable, but I can’t leave it unfinished. I get in the car and head to Lowes. I spend about 2 hours looking through all the plumbing adapters to find about half of what I need… I watched all these guys doing the parts look dance. You’ve seen it, right? they stand there for a minute, take a step forward, bend down to grab apart, then before actually grabbing it, they stop back, cross their arms, look again for another minute, then go for the next part…
I get in the car and drive home, start installing it and realize I forgot to get a water line to make it work…
So, again, feeling miserable I go back to Lowes and buy what I need…
Now, if you’ve ever worked on a project like this, especially when you feel terrible, you know I’m leaving something out of all this narrative…
I’m leaving out how much of a jerk I was in the middle of that whole thing.
Somehow I ended up blaming Jenni for me choosing to do this project.-I was mad at HER that I had to go get parts-when I didn’t get the right parts and had to go back, guess who I took it out on…-Jenni
I’m not proud at all to tell you this – actually, I’m confessing it to you because I need to be held accountable
Talk about feeling like a hypocrite – I had preached that day “ask my wife if I live this stuff out…”
Thankfully I had also preached on forgiveness and my wife is better than me…
but literally, after taking an hour or two to find parts, she called me to see if I was doing ok, cause she knew I wasn’t feeling well and I gave her anger violent silence…-some of you explode in anger. I get mad and silent (probably cause I don’t want to say things that I’ll regret – or should I say too many things)
For me, this is what life by the flesh (my heart without interference from God) looks like-I am full of selfishness-I perceive myself to always be in the right and am offended easily-I am willing to give and sacrifice but only if I get to take as much as I give-I get jealous-I become a glutton (with experiences or things that keep me away from pain)
-I am Cain, murdering Abel-I am Abraham lying to save his hide-I am David taking Bathsheba
I wanted to expose my flaws to you so you could see just how much we all need Jesus…I’m not alone in this…
This is the natural spiritual position of mankind – corrupt and lost…Jesus came to give us a new way.
At His last dinner with his disciples, after instituting a brand new covenant in His blood. Jesus gives the command with His covenant…John 13:34-3534 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
John, reflecting on this command will write later in his little letter that we call 1 John 3:1616 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
I need you to see that Jesus is not just better, you need to see that His call to discipleship is wholly other from the life we have all been raised in and grown in…
Love one another as I have loved you
He loved us with everything He was, literally his very life for our life – from the very start – from stepping out of heaven to laying down His life on the cross…
His love was all sacrifice, His love was all give… No scorecard. No take. Only give.
So, how do you love like this? How do you love without a scorecard?
I believe to love like Jesus fundamentally requires a loosing of your hold on this world and its way of doing things.
>You have to loosen your hold on your way of thinking
ILLUSTRATION:I remember the first time I realized that being an American and being a Christian were not completely compatible and I had to make a choice about which one my allegiance went to.
Like for instance, think about the statement“You do you…”
What we’re saying is you need to love and respect yourself and not worry about what anyone else thinks. And my bet is, that more of you agree with those statements than don’t.
But what I’m telling you, is that ideology is a direct front to the way of the Kingdom – The way of the Kingdom is not about me doing whatever makes me feel good
The way of the Kingdom is about living for God and loving people
That’s just one little example of how you have to loosen your way of thinking.
Paul says it this way in Romans 12:22 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I think some of you are not sure how to please God because you are still walking around with an unrenewed mind.-you haven’t submitted your mind and thought patterns to the mind and thought pattern of God.
What if you stopped accepting everything you read and hear at face value and started to search God out to see what He thinks and says?
when you don’t align your values with God, it’s hard to live for God…
>You have to loosen your hold on your stuff1 John 3:16-1816 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
John is clear that part of laying down our lives is laying down our stuff and things…
This is what the early church was known for-I think it’s part of why they spread so fast-Acts 4 you see the believers laying down their possessions for each other
ILLUSTRATION: This is one that for me is a challenge. Jenni has talked about how in my unique position there are times where we could be seen as doing good for someone when it’s really the church that did it – someone gets help and they think it’s coming from me but really paid for by the church. We have chosen to intentionally give out of our own resources because we want to be the family who truly loves with all of us, not just with our words, but in action and truth
Really, to love as Jesus loves it takes one simple idea – you have to die to yourself…
This is the key…
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate example of love, of laying down your life for another. This is what sets Christians apart, not how we love God but how God loved us.
I think the closest thing I have ever come to experiencing that kind of love in the human form has come from my wife. When I turn into a jerk as I have, she is quick to forgive me – not excuse it. It’s not ok that I have acted like that and don’t want you to think I think it’s ok. But, in those moments when I’m reminded I’m still in this body and still have areas Jesus needs to redeem. She extends what can only be called grace to me. I don’t deserve it and she gives it to me. She reflects the love she’s seen in Jesus and I hope I do the same for her.
Listen to me – If you’ve never submitted to Jesus to find life outside of your flesh, today is the day to do it. If anything, when I have those episodes when I return to who I used to be, it makes me more thankful than ever for who Jesus is making me. It helps me realize the incredible grace I’ve been given!