I wanted to share the Easter message broadcast this week from Jentzen Franklin. Listen to it when you get the chance. It will bless and encourage you and help you be ready to receive more of the word when we get together this Sunday, April 23rd.
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What did we learn yesterday? What was “the word” where you were? We, at Laurel Hill UMC were focused on 2nd Peter, chapter 1. We are continuing our series on Pilgrim’s Progress and answering questions about what are the key transitions we make as a disciple of Jesus Christ. November 3, we started with the transition of moving from the kingdom of this world into the kingdom of The Son. We saw that Sunday that to start our journey from the world of disappointment into the hope reserved in heaven for us we start on the RECEIVING END of God’s love and grace. We make progress into that hope when we realize Jesus RESCUES US from the world that lies in darkness and draws us into the hope of the gospel, RECONCILING US to God through Jesus Christ. Finally, we learned that we are those whose lives REVOLVE AROUND Jesus! We now that our hope is Christ in us!
Yesterday, we built on that foundation to share how we can all move from our doubt and uncertainty to stand upon the word of God’s promise. Once again, we begin by being on the receiving of God’s grace and ACCEPT THE FACTS of the gospel. What are the facts? 1. We receive righteousness, grace, and peace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. These are the facts. The work of God is real and life-changing. Accept it! 2. We receive a new way of looking upon things. Let me give you one example. How many of you procrastinate? You know what that means, right? “To put something off”, people usually reply. The Latin upon which the word is based is living “towards tomorrow” instead of today. But, what if I gave you another way of looking at procrastination. What if we defined it as instantaneous disobedience? Would that change your response or attitude towards it? The gospel can change our thinking like that and that is good news. 3. We can participate and act differently in life. Something substantial has occurred by grace through faith. God says we can participate in the divine nature no longer dominated by the nature of sin.
What did we learn yesterday? We learned to accept the facts of the gospel?
What else did we learn? We learned we can ACCELERATE OUR FAITH by slowing down on the promises of God. The Apostle Peter even gives us a template for the practice of our faith where we can rehearse and choreograph our faith until it becomes consistently and constantly effective and productive. My District Superintendent recently accelerated his faith by taking study leave and walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Years ago, my brother Dennis and I accelerated our reading speed by slowing down to see the whole page at one time rather than trying to see each word faster. I found out years later it’s called Photo-reading. We didn’t know what to call it back in middle school but it allowed us to read things at about 1400 words per minute. We learned yesterday that God gives us a way to do that spiritually so that we don’t make the same sinful mistakes over and over again but really can live a new life of faith!
Thirdly, we learned that we are the people who AFFIRM AND REAFFIRM God’s call upon our life. What is that call? The call is to possess and practice a quality faith, to be purified from our sins, to be more proficient and productive, and to be prepared for the coming of Jesus. That’s what we learned, yesterday. What did you learn?
The deciding factor in life is Jesus. Have you aligned your life to His? Have you turned from and forsaken your own way to follow Him? This is the deciding choice of your life. The Apostle Paul highlights this choice as he finishes Romans chapter nine and walks us through Romans chapter ten.
The Apostle follows the motto to keep things simple. Put your faith in Him (Jesus Christ), “the stone that the builders rejected.” God has made Jesus the capstone, the stone that holds things together for all. It is not enough to have faith. Faith must have a direction and a focus. Sincere faith in the wrong thing can prove to be worse than no faith at all.
Saving faith, the faith that grows up into eternal life is very specific. It originates in God’s righteousness revealed in Jesus Christ. It is submitted to God in Jesus Christ. Out of that submission it becomes a serving faith and a faith that is shared with others.
Have you made Jesus the deciding factor for your life? Is the name of Jesus spoken freely over all that you do? I speak it over you now. In the name of Jesus, I send you forth to walk with God, a witness to the nations that Jesus is Lord!