Godliness vs. Worldliness

What is “godliness?”  It’s from the Greek word eusebia which is sometimes translated holiness which means “good devotion” or “genuine devoutness.”  In short, eusebia is God-centeredness.

But there is one enormous challenge.  Worldliness.  The opposite of godliness is not devilry or demonism.  That is the extreme opposite, but not the common, garden variety.  Its opposite is worldliness.

Worldliness is selfishness.  If godliness is God-centeredness, worldliness is self-centeredness.  It’s me, me, me.  Whatever makes sin look more attractive than God.  It’s whatever makes you think that defying or ignoring God will bring more reward than obeying him.

The cure for worldliness and the path to godliness is in fact to become more human.  It is to live in an awareness of your creatureliness and so your utter dependence on God.  The worst thing you can do if you seek to be godly is to deny your creatureliness.  You’ll only end up faking it.

So 2 things are needed:

  1. Look and look and look again to Jesus.
  2. Practice and practice and practice the daily discipline of dying to yourself.

T or F: Abortion is just terminating a pregnancy, not killing a child

Here’s another common “mantra” of the pro-choice movement, and what better timing then as we approach the celebration of the birth of the Christ child:

The unborn is an embryo or a fetus–just a simple blob of tissue, a product of conception–not a baby.  Abortion is just terminating a pregnancy, not killing a child.

1. Like toddler and adolescent, the terms embro and fetus do not refer to nonhumans, but to humans at particular stages of development.  The word embryo is used of any living creature at an early stage of development.  Fetus is a Latin word meaning “young one” or “little child.”

2. Semantics affect perceptions, but they do not change realities; a baby is a baby no matter what we call her.  Though fetus was once a good word that spoke of a young human being, it is now used with a subhuman connotation.  It allows the user of the word to avoid the humanizing word “baby.”  My favorite (not!) that the pro-choice crowd uses to refer to a baby is “Product of conception.”  It’s a baby.  Just look at it!

3. Prior to the earliest first-trimester abortions, the unborn already has every body part she will ever have.  At 18 days after conception the heart is forming and the eyes start to develop.  By 21 days the heart is not only beating but pumping blood throughout the body.  By 28 days the unborn has budding arms and legs.  By 30 days she has multiplied in size times 10,000.  She has a brain and blood flows through her veins.  This development continues quickly.

4. Every abortion stops a beating heart and terminates measurable brain waves. 

5. Even in the earliest abortions, the unborn child is clearly human in appearance.  If there was a window to the womb that everyone could see, no one would doubt the “humanity” of each unborn child.

Living like Jesus Publicly starts with living like Him Privately

Living like Jesus publicly starts with living like Him privately. Living like Jesus publicly (the joy, the peace, the miracles, the things he did when people we’re watching), starts by living like him when no one is watching. What did he do in private?

What makes people great in what they do? Are they born or are they made? I think they are made. If you look at any great athlete or public figure, they didn’t get there by accident. It’s the early mornings, the extra practices, the pain, the discipline, the behind the scenes hard work when no one was watching that make them a joy to watch. That’s what makes people truly great.

Craig Groeschel put it this way, “It is things that no one sees that results in what everyone wants.” It’s the things that you do not see that produces the things that you do see. Living like Jesus publicly starts with us living like him privately.

So how did he teach us to live when no one was looking?   Jesus taught us that we must get away and get alone with God. Before and above all else, Jesus practiced solitude.

I know you’re thinking, “That’s all you got for me?” But think about it. When we look at Jesus’ life we don’t really know what hobbies he had. Was he a gardener? Did he like NASCAR? We don’t know. We don’t know what kind of house he grew up in. Was it big or small? We don’t know what kind of clothes he wore. Was he more into the Galilean slacks or straight cut Jerusalem jeans? We don’t know. We don’t know how much money he had saved up, if any at all.

But here’s something that is unmistakable. Three and a half years of public ministry recorded in four gospels there is one behavior that happened time after time in the life of Jesus Christ.  He habitually and consistently called a time out in the chaos of his life and he got away where no one was and spent time alone with God. Do you?

Living like Jesus publicly starts with living like him privately. Luke 5:16, “But Jesus often [not seldom or occasionally but often] withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” What does that look like? What does that really mean to practice solitude? It seems like an ancient ritual that a monk would do. Maybe you’re new to the faith and you’re wondering, “Do I have to bring a ten pound Bible?” Let me just back up and say, “It’s different for different people.”

I’ve known people who take a long walk with God. They don’t do it so much for the physical exercise, though that helps, but they get alone and pray and listen and talk to God while they walk. And that is their moment to be with God alone for a half hour. I only do that when I’m frustrated with something and that helps immensely. Most of the time my wife and I like to write. We get alone and reflect and read the Word and then write to God or what we hear God saying to us. I’ve kept a Daily Quiet Time  journal now for 15 years. Some people just sit in silence and listen. They get out in nature and get a good view from their house and just sit, look, observe, and then when all is quiet in their soul, they talk to God and begin listening to him. It’s in moments like those, different for different people where God pours his heart into ours.

Jesus didn’t model that behavior with his words, but with his life, the discipline of solitude. And if the Son of God needed to get away consistently with God how much more do we who are not him?

So what do we do? How do we do this? We must make time with God a priority. If you don’t know the last time you spent time with God and I’m not talking about squeezing five minutes out before dinner or checking the clock, but I’m talking about dedicated, silent, devoted, still time with God? If you can’t remember the last time you did that, it’s not a priority in your life. Let’s just admit it. Be honest. How many of you would say this is an area that you don’t do very well?

I hope you know how important this is. The author of the universe invites us to spend one on one time with him. What else is more important? If we truly want to follow Jesus and be his disciple and imitate him then we have to start here. We start by making it a priority. It simply could be scheduling it. Putting it on your calendar.

Look what Jesus did in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morn., while it was still dark, Jesus got up [not hit the snooze bar 3 times], left the house and went off to a solitary place [why? Because he didn’t want to be bothered. He wanted to be alone, just him and the Father. And it’s in that place], where he prayed.”

We live in a culture consumed with busy-ness. We live in a culture that creates industries to aid us in our busy-ness and chaos. Think about it. We have cell phone and computer manufacturers that make our phones and computers talk to each other. They share information without us having to do anything. Why? It saves us time. We don’t have to enter in things twice. Very cool. Our Twitter syncs to our Facebook so we don’t have to update our status twice. Why? Because we’re so busy and it saves us time. A lot of people bank online to save time. All of this productivity and efficiency but when does our spirit have time to sync to God? If it’s not a priority in your life and you’re not having that moment syncing with God, I can guarantee you that you are spiritually anemic. I promise you. You can’t know the heart of the father until you’re with the Father by making time with him a priority. Make it a priority.

The second thought is super simple. We must intentionally eliminate distractions. Luke 5:16, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places.” Why on earth did he go to lonely places? Why doesn’t it just say that he went to the mall and did some people watching? Why did he go to lonely places? Because it was quiet there! Because there were no distractions. Because life was not going to suck him in.

Every single time Jesus got away the Scriptures say that the people were looking for him. Every single time. People who were sick. People Jesus could heal with one touch. That’s important stuff! He only had three and a half years to do his ministry and yet even when the crowds were looking for him and needed him, Jesus said “I have to eliminate distractions. I have to get away. I have to connect with the Father.”

T or F?: The Fetus is just a part of a pregnant woman’s body, like an appendix

Here’s another common argument I hear from pro-choice folks:

The fetus is just a part of the pregnant woman’s body, like her tonsils or appendix.

Uhhh…no it’s not.  Look at an ultrasound and you’ll see the difference.  If my appendix has a beating heart, arms, legs, etc….it ceases to be an appendix.  A body part is defined by the common genetic code it shares with the rest of its body; the unborn’s genetic code differs from her mother’s.

Furthermore, The child may die and the mother live, or the mother may die and the child live, proving they are two separate individuals. Human beings should not be discriminated against because of their place of residence.

4 Life Changing Questions (part four)

Am I willing to take a risk?

Judges 3:20ff, “Ehud walked over to Eglon, who was sitting alone in a cool upstairs room. And Ehud said, ‘I have a message from God for you!’ As King Eglon rose from his seat, Ehud reached w/ his left hand, pulled out the dagger strapped to his right thigh, and plunged it into the king’s belly. The dagger went so deep that the handle disappeared beneath the king’s fat. So Ehud did not pull out the dagger, and the king’s bowels emptied.”

Yes, that’s disgusting but it’s in the Bible. Literally it means, “And the dung came out.” Remember I said I’d never seen that flannel-graphed or made into a Veggie tales video. Why put that in there? Here’s why: sometimes God’s will is messy.

“I don’t think they should put that in the Bible.” You can take that up w\ith God. Let me tell you why this is so important. To the Hebrew mind, the people who were originally reading this text, they would have taken great joy and delight in the humiliation of their enemy who had humiliated them for 18 years.

One of the things that we can take great delight in as followers of Jesus is the fact that Jesus, on the cross, humiliated our enemy. Jesus shattered the power of the enemy who held the world in oppression for 1000s of years. That should be our goal, to live for Jesus so that we humiliate, in his power, the enemy. We’re not to be scared of him because J. marked him on the cross.

Judges 3:23ff, “Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them. After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, ‘He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.’ [Why did they say that? Because they could smell it!] They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead. While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.”

Look at the risk Ehud took! God didn’t send Ehud an email saying, “Ehud, if you do this then you’re going to be a king, a hero, you’re going to have a great marriage, wonderful kids who make straight A’s, and 1000s of years from now people will talk abt. Ehud the left-handed dude.” No, he did not get a worry-free guarantee. In fact, I would argue Ehud probably thought he would die doing this. He didn’t know that the king wasn’t going to make a noise. He didn’t know that the weapon wasn’t going to be discovered. He didn’t know that the bodyguards were going to leave. All he knew was that God’s telling me to do this, and if I don’t do it, I’ll explode because I’m bothered AND gifted enough AND the opp. is right in front of me. Even though I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m going to take a risk. Because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering, “What would have happened if I would have done that?” He took a risk.

One of the problems we have in the church today is Christians who want to do something for Jesus that cost them nothing. “Jesus, I’ll follow you, but it better not effect my time, my dating life, my marriage, my golf game, or my money. But I’ll follow you.” Those people prayed a prayer but they didn’t make a commitment. What about you? Recklessly follow Jesus no matter what.

There are people thinking, “One person can’t make a difference.” Ehud did. Judges 3:28, “‘Follow me,’ he ordered, ‘for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.’ So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for 80 years.”

The land had peace for 80 years. Do you know why? One man was willing to be bothered. One man embraced the gift that God gave him. One man did not try to deny the opportunity that God placed in front of him. And 1 man was willing to take a risk & say, “God, even if I die I’m going to die serving you.”

 

So what abt. you? What bothers you? What breaks the heart of God that’s currently breaking yours? If you’re a Xtian, & nothing’s bothering you, then the prayer you need to begin praying is, “God, break my heart for what breaks yours.”

How are you gifted? If you don’t know, then begin to pray, “God show me what my gift is.” Sign up for the nxt class that comes up on that issue. Read thr. those script.s & the best way to discover them is it to get involved. Start serving somewhere. You’re not going to pray the gift up in you. You actually have to serve it out of you.

 

What opp.s are rt. in front of you? Bec. when you can answer those 1st 2 ?s then God will place all kinds of opp.s in front of you.

What risk do you need to take? God’s calling you to make a diff. Don’t underest. yourself. & please understand 1 more time, if you’re bored or if you have no life, it’s not bec. you followed J. there.

4 Life Changing Questions (part three)

What opportunities are in front of you?

Continuing in Judges 3:17, “He brought the tribute money to Eglon, who was very fat. After delivering the payment, Ehud started home with those who had helped carry the tribute. But when Ehud reached the stone idols near Gilgal, he turned back. He came to Eglon and said, ‘I have a secret message for you.’”

Ehud is about to prove that every message from God is not nice and pretty. But let me pause there and ask what opportunities are in front of you? Ehud let God bother him. He was physically, spiritually, and emotionally bothered. Ehud understood that God had gifted him. “I don’t fit in. I’m from the tribe of the son of the right hand but I’m left-handed but somehow God’s going to use this unique gift for his glory.” When he allowed God to bother him and he understood how he was gifted, God then put right in his path Eglon. Translation? “I’m putting right in front of you an opportunity that you cannot miss because it’s large.”

In other words, when you allow God to bother you and you understand your gifts, you don’t have to look for an opportunity. God will put an opportunity in front of you that you couldn’t deny it if you tried to. We don’t have to look for opportunities

Show me in Scripture where somebody looked for opportunity? Was Moses looking for a burning bush? Was David looking for an opportunity to kill Goliath? No. He rolled up on his brothers, “Hey guys what’s happening? Who’s the big dude cussing God in valley? What’s his problem? Somebody should go whip his behind.” “Why don’t you go do it.” “I think I will. You all are having a Bible study and a prayer meeting but I’ll go show you how it’s done.” Was the Apostle Paul looking for an opportunity? Not to serve Jesus. He was looking to kill Christians and God blinded him in Acts 9. If you allow God to bother you, discover how you’re gifted then you won’t be able to deny the opportunities that God keeps dropping in front of you.

It’s not that God is not wanting to speak. It’s that we’re not listening. We don’t have to look for an opportunity to serve God. We just have to be bothered enough and gifted in some way to do something about the opportunity he’s already put in our paths. Don’t tell me you’re looking for an opportunity. God has put us right in the middle of family, friends, and situations that are wide open opportunities to serve others with the ministry of the gospel. What opportunities are in front of you?

4 Life Changing Questions (part two)

How am I gifted?

Here’s the tragedy in the church. I’ve known people who’ve gone to church 5, 10, 15, even 20 yr.s or more and I ask them, “What are your spiritual gifts?” and it’s the most foreign question they’ve ever heard. I understand that if you’re from most Christian backgrounds you didn’t talk about the Holy Spirit in church. In most traditions the Holy Spirit is like crazy Uncle Eddy that you hope doesn’t show up at the party because if he does things are going to get nuts so you don’t talk about him at all because you’re scared of that theology. And if you’re from a Pentecostal church, you probably talked about Him too much. So there’s not a balance, not an accurate theology. So for a long time most of the Church has ignored spiritual gifts and so there are people who’ve been in the church 25 years and have no idea how they’re gifted.

Here’s the thing. The Creator of the universe has given you a gift, wouldn’t you at least like to know what it is?

Judges 3:15 (which we began looking at in part one), “But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord again raised up a rescuer to save them. His name was Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed man of the tribe of Benjamin.” Why does the Bible mention that he was left-handed? Anytime the Bible mentions a detail like that don’t just skip over it. “Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed man of the tribe of Benjamin.”  Now, if you’re a Hebrew reading this you would laugh out loud. Ehud, the left-handed dude, was from the tribe of Benjamin. How many of you are left-handed? How many of you lefties, when you started school, your teacher tried to make you a righty? Ehud was left-handed and he was from the tribe of Benjamin. Now here’s why that is funny. The tribe of Benjamin in Hebrew literally means, “Son of the right hand.” Ehud was left-handed, from the tribe of the sons of the right hand. Translation? Ehud didn’t fit in.

He did not fit in! I love the fact that God used somebody that didn’t fit in to make a difference. One of the problems that we have in the church is that as soon as someone comes to Christ, we try to make them uniform with everybody else. God actually desires us to be unique. God created you that way because he wanted you to be you and for you to embrace who He created you to be. God doesn’t want you to be normal. Normal stinks! Stop trying to be normal. Do you think I am? God didn’t call me to fit in. He called me to make a difference in the world by following Jesus and that’s the call he has on your life.

“The Israelites sent Ehud to deliver their tribute money to King Eglon of Moab. So Ehud made a double-edged dagger that was about a foot long, and he strapped it to his right thigh, keeping it hidden under his clothing.” See, Ehud was left-handed and Ehud is going to use his gifting by God to make a difference. See, in that day, most people were right handed and they kept their sword on their left thigh. So when you went before a king or a dignitary when they checked you for weapons, because you couldn’t take weapons in, they might only check your left side because you’re right handed and Ehud because he was left-handed would take his sword from his right thigh so the Bible specifically says that he put his sword on his right thigh because he knew that the people checking him for weapons before he went before the king who had oppressed them, he knew they would not check his right thigh, so he embraced how God had gifted him and was willing to use his unique gift for the glory of God.

God has gifted you! If you are a Christian you have at least one spiritual gift. Check out some of these passages that list how we’re gifted spiritually in the Body. 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4. Those passages tell us how we are equipped spiritually.

Three questions to answer if you want to know what your spiritual gifts are.

  1. What do I enjoy? Newsflash: I enjoy what I do. God wants you to love what you do. Nehemiah 8:10, “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I’m telling you, if you’re gifted to do it, by God you will enjoy doing it.

Now I’m not saying that it’s always going to be fun. Paul enjoyed preaching. It got him killed. I’m not this guy who says that if you do whatever God wants you to do you’ll never have a bad day. But there will be genuine joy because you’re doing what God called you to do. What do you enjoy?

  1. What do I do well? Some people say, “Nothing.” That makes me sick. Do you know what an insult it is to look at a holy, awesome God who designed you with a plan and a purpose. You are unique. He formed you. And then look in the face of a holy God and go, “I can’t do nothing good.” What do you think God thinks of that?! You do something well. You really do. You do something that is useful for other people.

Some of you are organized. You’ve got color-coded calendars. There’s a system for everything. You’ve got it all figured out. See, the body of Christ needs you.

Some of you are geeky, techy, nerdy people. The world needs you. I could go on and on w/ examples.

So what do you enjoy? And what do you do well? & you have to answer both of those questions because some of you enjoy things that you don’t do well. Have you ever been to church and heard someone who enjoyed singing but they clearly didn’t do it well? And those w/ the gift of mercy would say, “But her heart is so good”   But her voice is so bad.

  1. How does this serve others for God’s glory? You will enjoy it. You will do it well. But it’s been given to you for you to serve others. Your spiritual gift has nothing to do with how great you are and everything to do with how great God is. And it’s been given to us to serve 1 another.

 

So what’s your spiritual gift(s)?