Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not The Way I Used To Be

Not The Way I Used To Be
Ephesians 2:1-5

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”   —Ephesians 2:1-5

Have you changed over the years? I am not talking about your weight or height — your intellect or your personality, your passion or your lack thereof? I am talking about your heart. We were in staff meeting yesterday and we were talking about how many new people are coming to our church. Great things are happening. Hearts are being changed, relationships are being renewed, and new babies are being born almost every week (ok, maybe I’m stretching it a little, but not much). It was fun last Sunday to recognize one of our new babies, then I inquired if another one was present. Someone else stood up, then another, then another. There were four new infants in our service. What a blessing!

As new people come to church, or even people who have been here for years and are open for a new move of God, the tendency to make a decision for or rededicate your life to Christ in your seat with no one knowing, happens a lot. As a church, we are not afraid to open the altar. It is open for people to respond every Sunday. But it is difficult to become that vulnerable when you may have been hurt in the past or you just started attending or coming back to church. Please don’t hear me say that people can only effectively respond to the Spirit’s call at an altar of prayer. We can do it in our seats or driving down the road. The danger is that we will keep it to ourselves and will not benefit from the prayers and encouragement of others around us. The enemy of our souls wants you to keep major life changing decisions like that to yourself.

Paul reminds his readers, “Back then, you walked according to the course of this world.” The word “according” in the Greek (peripateo) means walking around habitually in one general area all the time. It is a path people cannot deviate from. You can say that they are trapped and can’t find their way out. They are stuck in this mode and can’t change by themselves. Most people are unaware of their condition when they are right in the middle of it. You will even hear people defend why they do the things they do. Their standard is found in the world and not God’s Word.

We just don’t gradually eliminate things in our life and all of a sudden find ourselves changed. Many have tried that route and have ended up overwhelmed and falling back into old habits. God wants to make a complete change in our hearts when it comes to our direction.

When Paul refers to the world, it is the Greek word kosmos. This depicts something that is fashioned or ordered. It is talking about the systems of the world like fashion, education, and entertainment. That is the standard in which people choose to do what they do. Fashion and the like are constantly changing on a whim. What is in today may not be in tomorrow. Why would you want to build your life on such a weak foundation? People do it all the time.

But Paul is talking about this being in the past. That is who you were but not who you are. Now the enemy doesn’t want you to know that God can do this transformational change – but He can!

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made you alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

That is good news today. Does that describe what has happened and is currently happening to you? Don’t keep it to yourself. Let it out! Make the altar your friend. Let the church be the church. God has placed us on this journey together to sharpen and encourage each other along the way. The first steps are always the hardest when you share a decision you have made. In the long run it is worth it all. I am blessed to be a part of such a great church who cares for each other and those who are yet to come.

Please continue to remember Lorna Morse today. She needs a special touch from the Lord physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Dave and Lorna will meet with the doctors today and find out what is going on in her jaw that is concerning the doctors.

Seeing God’s saving work in your life and how far He has brought you, is a testimony of the goodness of our God. Is there someone in your sphere of influence who needs to hear your story today?

I’m looking forward to a great day on Sunday.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

PS. Remember if you can receive texts on your phone, then you can text “join ffcn.alerts” to 292929, and you will receive cancellation notices of our services by text for free.

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