BE RENEWED SERMON OUTLINE 29 APRIL 2012
BIBLE READING: Ephesians 4: 17 – 27
17 With the Lords authority I say this: Live no longer as the gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.
18 Their minds are full of darkness, they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.
19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure, and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
Do those people sound strange to you? Different or easy to spot? Do they wear things that make them stand out from the crowd (well sometimes they might). Generally though, they are just like you and me, like the people we work or live with. You wouldn’t look twice as they stroll down the street of Dunedin. Why, because those behaviours are inside the person – not immediately visible to others. The sad thing is that Paul was writing this letter to Christians!
We don’t go around telling people we have hardened our hearts, but they may read the bitterness, unforgiveness or resentment etched on our faces and in the words we speak.
The bible tells us they have no sense of shame. Are they blissfully unaware, or just unable to alter patterns which have taken a lifetime to grow? For them, what they do is perfectly normal. We are the abnormal ones!
Sin begins in the heart – the well spring of our emotions and thoughts. The most serene, Christian person can struggle with wayward thoughts at times. We all struggle with temptation. Even Jesus did.
That’s why we have to continually capture and bring ‘our thoughts’ into line according to the teaching of Jesus and throw away those not life-giving.
Its a process – we see, we think, then we act on it (James 1).
In Romans 12v2 we are reminded that we have to be renewed by the transforming of our minds.
This isn’t a one-off process, its ongoing. Everyday. Sometimes many times a day.
If you think of our minds like a solar panel, facing the sun, the energy pours in from the son (Jesus) and we then process it into energy – which when changed by the Holy Spirit (the inverter) bringing life to us and those around us.
Think of what the minister spoke about last week whereby the rivers of living water will flow from us to others – but only when we have come to him for his life-giving water.
Over past years I have had a lot to do with power stations, and solar power. Both require the moving of the energy source (water or sunshine) into our being (the inverter) before it can be transformed into power ready for use. In the case of a hydro station, the water flows into the powerstation through the turbines, and out to a stream. If it were to stay in the power station, not moving through the turbines, it would become stagnant and mouldy.
With solar, if the panel isn’t facing the sun and plugged in, it is ineffective in capturing the energy for power. We are like that. We have to keep facing Jesus – looking unto him (the Son). Allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us so that we can be used in service to him.
While we remain plugged in and attached, our battery bank (our inner being) is being filled and charged up with Holy Spirit energy. A solar panel just sitting there will do nothing, but it may look the part.
God created us to bring life, his life to those we come in contact with. We need never worry that his energy will run out, as He is the one who recharges us. He renews. With Gods son as our ‘solar power’ a cloudy or wet day is not an issue!
As we learned last week, trying to run on empty doesn’t work. The mould grows, we stagnate and get a ‘smell’ about us. We sleep on, lifeless in our Christian walk.
Back to our reading in Ephesians 4.
In v 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
One of the common things that Christians all struggle with at times is lust. Its so easy when we are bombarded on advertisements, the TV, billboards, society in general. I know where I work, among young (and not so young) men, they see a pretty girl go past and their eyes are out of sticks watching. These aren’t bad guys, they just notice and look.
Even Jesus was tempted. However God sees us, he knows our hearts and minds … he wants to see us free from those things that ensnare us.
Our key verse is 23 and 24.
Instead let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
Put on the new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.
25. Stop telling lies (even to yourself). Let us tell our neighbours the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
26 Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.
27 For anger gives the Devil a foothold. (That’s a legal right to be there, annoying you – tempting you to do wrong).
The bible tells us to THROW OFF the sinful nature. That makes it sound easy really. Just like throwing a blanket off the bed, we throw off that thing that is holding us back. Yeah, right!
Its not easy to do. For unless we take our thought patterns and sins to the cross, we will soon reach out and draw them back around us, like a cosy warm blanket. Unless we constantly call out to the Holy Spirit to help us in our time of need, we will struggle.
DISCARD the former life of sin and deception! Easy? Maybe for some it is.
When God speaks to us on an area he wants us to sort out, he knows that its not going to be necessarily an easy road.
However good things take time, and its worth walking the journey with him while he removes one rock at a time from the wall we have been hiding behind.
Let the Spirit renew your thought patterns. That’s processing our inner core.
Eventually changes made in our inner being will show on our outside as well.
But sometimes, just like a snake, we need to occasionally shed our ‘skin’ (our corrupt nature) as well.
A few years ago I worked on a farm and did a lot of work in the shearing sheds. In the process of being trained in wool handling, I learned to throw a fleece.
One of the things that was extremely important was that when you picked around the edges of the fleece, you got rid of any dirt and daggy bits – the impurities, and kept as much of the fleece intact as possible.
When working with merino sheep, the wool was extremely fine. Yet with Romney or Texels, it was a coarse wool. But it was still wool, still worth a lot of money to the farmer – because of the end result of where that wool was intended to become.
The fine wool of the merino was destined for lovely soft undergarments, or a nice Italian suit … whereas the rougher wool often went to the carpet manufacturers. The inbetween wools – used often in knitting.
We are all destined for use in the kingdom of God.
God is in the process of picking off the bits’ we can’t see. He shows us by his spirit the sin that clings.
Occasionally we need to be shorn … or pruned as in John 15.
We romp from his presence – white and pure. Untouchable – nothing can get us now! We are safe.
But like the shorn sheep, the wool gradually grows back … and we have to learn to stay out of the mud to keep clean. Shearing, shedding removes the outer layer, but our inner man (our mind, our heart) are what God wants to change and renew. By the precious blood of Jesus we are made clean from the inside!
Training our mind to think differently takes time, energy and even patience. They call it “retraining the brain”.
We don’t go it alone as the Holy Spirit is our helper, Jesus is by our side and won’t let us down. He does the work of renewing, His grace covers us as we journey with him.
A few questions to think about:
What thoughts fill your mind through the day? Do you capture them as soon as they come?
How EAGER are you to practice good, instead of evil?
Are you willing for your heart to be SOFTENED and changed by God?
What foods do you feed your mind and soul? Soaking in the Word is a good way to start the day. Keeping close – talking to God him throughout the day is a good way to ‘practice the presence of Jesus. After all, he is already within us and around us.
Are you willing to learn how to THROW WELL!
-THROW off the old nature – give it up in surrender to Jesus
– THROW on the new nature that God gives.
Allow yourself to be wrapped in Gods grace. He is willing and able to change and renew you.
A promise in Ezekiel 11 v 19: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them. I will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
30 Do not bring sorrow to Gods Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Back to the key verse 23
Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature created to be like God, truly righteous and holy