Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where I Stand: Principles to live by

Acts 24:14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way…

Where do you stand?
Overview of what has happened to Paul since last week.
“Take courage” -word from the Lord to Paul. “Testify about Me!”
Plot to kill Paul men took an oath to kill him.
Son of Paul’s sister heard of the plot.
Commander took Paul away with a lot of soldiers.
Transferred to Governor Felix’s Caesarea’s palace.
Chapter 24
Trial before Felix
Lawyer named Tertullus makes some short talk.
Paul speaks—today’s passage
Acts 24:10-23
14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way,
To ask the question: Where Do You Stand?

Paul’s life was on the line. If the Jewish leader’s wishes were followed, they would have Paul killed for his belief system. They put up a rather loose prosecution and over time, it really lost the punch but Paul was on trial for his life.

What sort of principles of life can we draw from this? And how does our life reflect the Heart of God? How does it intertwine with the purpose statement of our Church: in that Worship, Prayer, Evangelism, Discipleship and Lay training, with Servant and Leadership Development? Can I live a transformed life so that I am equipped and encouraged to stand firm in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What do I need to stand on?

Principle Number One:
• WHAT I BELIEVE IN WORTH THE EFFORT. What is the basis of my beliefs? Can they hold me up under the pressures of Life? In the long haule, is what I hold dear to me really work in the long run? Can I trust what I believe?
What does Jesus say about balance?

Luke 9:24-26 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My Words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Glory and in the Glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

1 Peter 1:6-8 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

This is WHY we make the effort!

We all look for the quick fix, the answer that will cover all the bases, but reality is that will not be the case. We still have to live here, dealing with the crap of life. There is not quick fix: the race needs to be run to the end.
Ways Paul showed this:

1. Paul states: Philippians 3:7-9 7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by Faith.

2. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.

3. Galatians 5:7a You were running a good race.

The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away. J.I. Packer

Principle Number Two:
• OUR INTIMACY WITH GOD – His highest priority for us – determines the impact of our lives on those around us.
The closer you are to His Heart, the more you will be able to both hear Him and be tested. If you are walking a life of ease, why would the evil one bother you? If we are looking for the easy road to Salvation, we will fall into the trap of Cheap Grace. "Cheap grace is the idea that "grace" did it all for me so I do not need to change my lifestyle. The believer who accepts the idea of "cheap grace" thinks he can continue to live like the rest of the world. Instead of following Christ in a radical way, the Christian lost in cheap grace thinks he can simply enjoy the consolations (or comfort) of His grace." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Ps 119 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word. 10 I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. 11 I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. 12 Praise be to You, O LORD; teach me Your decrees.

This is a person who is ACTIVE in growth!

20 My soul is consumed with longing for Your laws at all times.

When you have that certain something inside, it determines how we live. There is a relationship. God wants us to listen to Him and be like Him. He enters our life and changes us from the inside. We are adopted by God and become a child of God. Full Son-ship is ours. Part of the family of God. Forgiveness is ours and intimacy is ours as well. Confess your sins and your relationship will grow. Learn what His Grace is like. Come to Him and repent. Let go of the past. He has forgiven you. Live in that word. Live in light of His Forgiveness. Believe Him.

Ways Paul showed this: ‘case he is the one on trial…

1. 1 Corinthians 8:3 [(NIV)-3 But the man who loves God is known by God.] –But if one loves God truly [ with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing], he is known by God [ recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love, and he is owned by Him]. (Amplified Bible)

"A deeper relationship with Christ develops the soul character of the individual. It causes us to grow deeper, closer with the God of Creation. In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself." C.S. Lewis

•The fullness of all life is found in a relationship with Jesus.

Principle Number Three:

Proverbs 3:4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

•Trust Him and Listen to Him. He is the Good Shepherd. Spent time in His Word. Spend time relating to Him. Walk with Him.

As found in the life of Noah from Genesis 6:9.This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Or before him, in Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Ways Paul showed this:
1. 2 Corinthians 6:16b As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

1 Peter 2:9 puts it this way: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

"The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. God's one aim is the production of saints." Oswald Chambers