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Grace Summit Community Church is a nondenominational church which focuses on authentically living out what the Bible teaches. It’s also a church with a big heart—toward its members, guests, and those in our community.
Grace Summit leadership and members desire to make a difference in our world by demonstrating through our lives that God is real, that He loves people and that He wants a relationship with each person. The mindset of “making room for more” underlies the plans and activities of Grace Summit as we strive to include and connect with more people in all we do. We’d love to have you be a part of what God is doing here at Grace Summit!
This Week's Message
Lord, thank You that You are faithful. Thank You for this chance to be together as Your family. When we gather together, You are pleased. Who we become is more important than our environment – help us to become what You want us to become – that we might be available to You. So often You choose for us to be a part of Your kingdom in ways we never would have thought – and we want to be available to that.
This series - we’ve only read a few verses so far… - I’ll be reading pretty much the whole chapter of 2 Peter 1.
2 Peter 1: 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Remember the first week – when I asked those lists – would you like to have the kind of life that is free from sin and lusts and pride and all those things, etc. etc. (I sound like the King and I)…
2 Peter 1: 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You must first make a decision – to become a disciple of Jesus.
In the early days – if you were a Christian, everyone knew it. In our day – there are a lot of people who call themselves Christian – but are not disciples – they have never made that decision.
“The disciple/apprentice of Jesus as recognized in the New Testament – is one who has firmly decided to learn from Him how to lead his or her life as Jesus Himself would do it – and as best as they know how – they are making plans, taking the necessary steps –progressively arranging and rearranging affairs to do this.”
Ask – how would Jesus live and behave if He were in my workplace, living in my family, living in my community – living my life – what would He do? This goes beyond WWJD – we have a decision to make. Being a disciple is living your life the way Jesus lived His. Not just in some big decision, WWJD – but continually to live your life the way Jesus lived His. That is what this is getting at – our everyday life. Our moment by moment life – unless we do this, we won’t do what Jesus did in the difficult times.
When you find yourself in the difficult times not doing what Jesus did is because you are not living like Jesus lived in your ordinary life.
This is the focal point of this series – but it is also the focal point of our lives as Christians.
Have you made the decision? When? Yes, we have to take up our cross daily – but there is a one-time commitment when you first decide to live like Jesus lived. If you have made that decision – when? And if you haven’t, will you?
If you have, or will, how do you plan to implement it? What action steps do you plan to implement? To become a disciple, we have to look at our lives and think – what do I need to do now to be more like Jesus?
Our life circumstances are always changing – so our approach needs to be constantly changing.
2 Peter 1:5 – He gets into the practical .
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
Part of this is God’s work and part of this is our work. There is a mathematical formula here – God’s power + our effort and energy = transformation. If we wish to be transformed, it takes work – it just doesn’t happen naturally – it only happens when we engage in the process – MAKE EVERY EFFORT! Bring your very best effort! Like in sports – a second effort to get the first down. Are we giving our best effort when it comes to living like Jesus and being transformed into His image? Do we keep going?
ADD – the word is a word picture that doesn’t really relate to us – as it is a different world. In the Greco-Roman world, there would be a choral society to entertain – all the larger cities had these – but it was expensive to fund – and what would happen – kind of like PBS – this program is here because of your support. They have their raise-some-money-athons – and you feel guilty because you watch Downton Abbey and someone has to pay for it. That is not how that worked there – they would have a single supporter – a supplier – a benefactor – a philanthropist – one who would lavishly give all that was necessary to support this effort for the city. Think of Carnegie Hall – or Rockefeller Center – individuals who donated these things for the public good. He is not just saying – add a little sugar to the recipe – but lavishly give yourself to these characteristics.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
When you work out – you don’t just go lift a couple dumbbells and say, that was quite a workout! People can be so dedicated to this – but in being like Christ, we don’t have that mentality. There is a process that must take place – when we come to Christ – we are given this grace – and then we must supply effort in order to apply the grace that has been given – God has worked it out for some reason that we have to act.
Dallas Willard – Grace does not make us passive. God is not opposed to effort – He is opposed to EARNING! We cannot EARN His salvation! But that does not mean He is opposed to us giving great effort to living the Christian life. We begin to work out that grace – and as we work, God supplies more grace and that is how we are transformed. It is a constant thing – Keep supplying – add to this, this and to that, that – a life filled with energy and effort to make use of what God has given for us to change.
How do we give our best effort? One key – the practice of Spiritual Disciplines.
This has gotten a bad rap. We think of Spiritual disciplines and we think of monks who lived back in the day. Or like the man who built a 30 foot tower and stayed up there for 30 years to not be influenced by the world! When you study monasticism – the originals had good motives to accomplish things for God and others who have taken it to extremes and ruined it.
Just laying that out there – I won’t really look at the use/misuse of monasticism – but what Jesus practiced. Spiritual Disciplines are not optional in the transformation process. If you want to be transformed into the image of Christ, you must practice spiritual disciplines in your life.
These are activities we engage in that are within our power that enable us to do what we are unable to do by direct effort. We can apply practices that will have that effect.
Here is what that means: “We change indirectly, by doing what we can to enable us to do what we can't do directly. This is the process of indirection.
"Peyton Manning practiced indirection. He was the winning quarterback of Super Bowl XLI. It was a rainy night, and the ball was slippery. Rex Grossman, the quarterback for the losing team, fumbled several times. But Peyton Manning never fumbled. A few weeks after the Super Bowl a reporter discovered that every few weeks during the year Manning has his center (the one who snaps him the ball), Jeff Saturday, snap him water-soaked footballs. He practices handling wet footballs so he will be ready in case it rains - even though his team plays half of their games in a dome. Manning did what he could do (practice handling wet footballs over and over) to enable him to do what he could not without this preparation (play great in the rain).
We cannot change simply by saying, 'I want to change.' We have to examine what we think (our narratives) and how we practice (the spiritual disciplines) and who we are interacting with (our social context). If we change those things - and we can - then change will come naturally to us." (23)”
1 Timothy 4:7-8 On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.
Think of how much someone trains for a marathon. We need to take the same mentality into our relationship with God.
The “on the spot” episodes [crises] are not the place where we can, even by the grace of God, redirect unchristlike but ingrained tendencies of action toward sudden Christlikeness. Our efforts to take control at that moment will fail so uniformly and so ingloriously that the whole project of following Christ will appear ridiculous to the watching world. We’ve all seen this happen.
We all have that thing that sets us off. When your spouse does ‘that thing that sets you off’ – you can’t change just by saying, I’m not going to get angry. You don’t change by simply saying you are not going to do it. Next time I’m tempted, I’m not going to do it! You can’t not do it just by saying it.
James 1:19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;
If you have a problem with anger, there are disciplines included in this verse – first – LISTEN! Do not speak! Listen/and Silence. Learn how to spend time alone regularly with God in silence, listening. Start with 5 minutes a day – you don’t just come to God blah blah blah. That is how we typically come to God – we are like little reactors – something inside us causes us to react.
So you start with a little practice, like Peyton Manning being hiked soaked footballs. Learn to sit and listen.
You know how you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night – how your mind moves to the bad places.
Take that moment to stop and listen to God. Don’t react to where your mind is going. Practice listening to God!
After you do that with God – here would be another step – everyone is getting ready for work and school when you get up in the morning – just practice – I will be quick to listen and slow to speak. As you practice that, as you enter in…
Maybe for you it is at work – as you practice that – as a habit, like an athlete practicing a skill – do you know what happens? You begin to transform. We need to practice the things God tells us to practice – and when we do, God’s grace begins to transform us.
It is important to find practices that work in you and through you. There are many practices that may work for you. Every couple sermons I throw different ones of these out – like a couple weeks ago, the practice of examination and discernment – at the end of the day to see where God is working.
Some pastors are trying to get pastors together – and because I have been thinking – where have You been in my day, God? And then expectation – ordering our prayers and expecting Him to come. Sometimes meetings like this can be flat – and I felt like God gave me one question to ask – and we took the entire two hours non-stop – it was really good! And I said, thanks, God, You showed up! And it really began a good work of the pastors in this city – because I have been taking 5 minutes at night to see how God has been working.
This may not work for you – one of these will – Jesus had 3 favorites – solitude, Prayer, and fasting. We don’t like the third one too much in this world – so stick with the first two (ha ha!).
Luke 5: 16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
Luke 6: 12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
You don’t have to go to the wilderness. Start with 15 minutes in your bedroom – that could be your wilderness – somewhere to have a quiet place with God in solitude. Then extend to an hour – maybe once a month. Maybe once a year, go away for a whole day!
Whatever it is that works for you – Jesus needed solitude. When you do this – do not have a plan! The purpose of the time is to hear what God’s plan is for you! Yes, you need a plan –
Here is a plan: the point is to discover God’s plan for you.
Start by thanking God that He has a plan for you. You are alone with God.
2) Ask God to reveal what it is that He wants. If you don’t believe God will speak to you – well, He does! God loves to speak into our hearts – to reveal what He is concerned about and what He is thinking about in our lives.
Ecclesiastes says to not draw near like the fool who blabbers – but listen – listen for encouragement, comfort, hope, challenge – maybe even correction. You are listening for Him to speak into your current situation – what is going on inside of us right now.
Then, as He speaks, focus your prayer time on those issues. My most effective prayer is for those things that are pounding on our hearts at the moment. It is not selfish or not spiritual to pray for that thing that is really boiling up in our heart. When Peter was sinking, he didn’t pray, God, help John’s problem with anger! He prayed, Lord, save me!
Read the Bible – just a little bit. For some, it works best to read the Bible first – there is no formula here.
So, in closing – the point of this series – to learn to practice these disciplines – to begin doing some of these practices on a consistent basis. Think of it as your wet football, because someday you will be in the big game and it will be raining – and if you want to be able to win, you need to train.