Here is an outline of what I spoke about today @Lifecentre.org
I used a few personal illustrations as we went through the talk...
- God's Word is revelatory. Without it we would still be walking in darkness, superstition and unbelief.
- At a retreat weekend, scripture, for the first time in my life, started to expose areas of my life that were out of the will of God.
- St. Vincent's Hospital many years ago I stood beside by grandmother's bed in a drunken state. I was lost, without God and living a carnal life. I walked into the same hospital 40 years later filled with the Spirit and living a spiritual life in Jesus. Thank God for inner transformation.
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 5:1-21
Last week we discovered that we have been called to walk worthy of the calling we have from God.
Now the apostle Paul follows that up with the call to not only walk worthy, but to walk in love and imitate Jesus.
IN LOVE & IMITATE JESUS
Paul shows us the importance that our external lifestyle is an indicator of our internal beliefs.
“As a man thinks, so is he” is what the scriptures teach us.
What does walking in love look like? What does imitating Jesus mean?
We turn to the scriptures for the answer to these important questions because God never asks us to do something without giving us the means to do what He asks.
1 Cor. 13 Love is...patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails!
Ephesians 5:1 "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Walking in love is simply putting into practice what Jesus did and said in His Word.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
Walking in love is walking with an obedient posture of the heart. Not a perfect walk, but one that is seeking to be conformed to likeness of Jesus who came from heaven to earth.
Teilhard de Chardin, who lived between 1881-1955 once said, “You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.”
Now that can revolutionize how you live your life!
In the first four chapters of Ephesians, we learned about the blessings that are ours In Christ.
Out of a new relationship with God we enjoy...
Being blessed spiritually
Being holy and blameless
Being chosen and redeemed
Being adopted as sons and daughters
And being forgiven.
We have even been given:
Knowledge of the mysteries of God
A purpose to live for God's praise, and
The Holy Spirit is in us as a foretaste of future glory.
We have been given tremendous resources...resources that enable us to obey God, walk in love and imitate a Jesus lifestyle.
Then why do so many miss it?
Illustration: Hetty Green was known as America's greatest miser. She managed an inherited fortune so shrewdly that she was also considered the greatest woman financier in the world. In 1916 she died leaving an estate that was worth nearly 100 million dollars. Yet she would eat cold oatmeal because she didn't want to spend the money to heat the water. Her son Ned eventually lost his leg from a relatively minor injury because she took him to a number of free medical clinics for the poor instead of calling for and paying a doctor.
She had tremendous resources but didn't make personal use of them because of bad choices and bad habits.
Two thoughts about turning bad habits and bad choices into good ones.
1. Invest time in learning about all the resources God has given you through the finished work of the cross.
2. Understand that your life is moving from living with bad habits and choices to one that is being transformed by the Holy Spirit through good habits and good choices.
SIN - disguises itself as habits, behaviours and thoughts that are second nature to our fallen nature.
They are so second nature we hardly notice them in daily life.
God wants us to unlearn the bad habits and replace them with good habits...we do that through the work of the Holy Spirit inside us and using regular spiritual disciplines.
Some practical tips to identify and replace bad habits with good ones.
Reading the scriptures regularly.
Take time for personal worship.
Practice prayer through daily communion with God.
Include fasting as part of your spiritual life.
Consider times of solitude and personal retreats.
Serve others in and through your local church community.
Share your faith with others.
Learning discernment about life in general but our walk in particular.
These do not make us right with God but are tools the Holy Spirit can use to help us walk in love and become imitators of God.
“A disciplined person is someone who can do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, with the right spirit.” John Ortberg
Your lifestyle speaks volumes to everyone around you. For example if we took a a group of 100 people and 1 person read the bible, the other 99 would end up just reading the bible reader.
The more you soak in God’s truth, the more you look like and sound like Jesus. Imitating Jesus is what we are called to do.
2 Thess. 3 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.
Ephesians has a list of cautions in verses 3-7 about lifestyle.
3 Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place...instead let there be thanksgiving.
5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
7 Therefore do not become partners with them...
Is it any wonder we are being called to live worthy, to walk in love and to imitate Jesus?
What are some safeguards we can build into our walk with Jesus?
Be honest with those areas of your life that are outside God’s will.
Confess them to God in humility and hope.
Be accountable to someone. We are not called to do Christianity alone. It is meant to be lived out in a local church setting.
Let us review Paul’s final admonition.
8 For at one time you were darkness now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
9 (For the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
10 And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
20 Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
PRAYER - May we all commit to walk in love and imitate Jesus in our spiritual life and lifestyle.