John 15:1-5, Phil 1:6
On Sunday, July 13th, Pastor Lorne and Eva (visiting from Germany) were with the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys in Craven getting things ready for the Gospel Concert with Heritage Road as one of the guest bands.
Dianne was leading worship. We started the morning with 2 hymns that brought back memories of my childhood:
- O That Will Be Glory (Oh that will be glory for me)
- Just Over In Glory Land
Once again, Mike Zorn from Grenfell stepped in to give us the message. Usually, I tape the sermons with my little DVR (digital voice recorder) but like all technology, it failed me on Sunday so all I have are my notes. Oh – I also copied Mike’s notes but like most preachers, they’re skimpy because he speaks from the his heart as the Lord directs.
Anyway, Mike started by telling us about a book called, The Normal Christian Life, written in the 1940’s by Watchman Nee. He said he’d read it in Bible College but the title stuck out to him. It’s been reprint many times.
Mike said we all have strong and weak points, but what does God want for us? How should we be living? He said we’re all children of God - his heirs. He said to turn to Eph 1:3-5 which says, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.’
Then Mike asked us to turn to Rom 8:15-17: ‘For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. for you did not receive.’
Mike said he wanted to talk about the birthright we have as children of God. He brought our attention to the story of Essau and Jacob, the sons of Isaac who even at birth were destined to struggle with each other when Jacob grabbed Essau’s heel and followed him out of their mother’s womb. Gen 25:29-34 is the story of how Jacob swindled Essau out of his birthright.
According to Mike, as children of God, we have a birthright, an inheritance. Essau sold his birthright. All he thought about was his belly and how he wanted to fill it. Then he despised it afterward. We sell our birthright when we’re ready to give up. There are times in our lives when Satan comes to tempt us. He comes when we’re tired, when we’re sleepy. He says he’ll give us what we want in return for selling our birthright as a child of God to him.
How do we sell our birthright?
- - Our words - Mike said he struggles with this one. He said sometimes he says things for shock value – he swears. He said it’s hard to believe but he does it. He says he does it to bring a reaction from his peers. He said when you say something shocking, you get an immediate reaction. It’s like gossip. With gossip, when we talk about something, or someone, we hurt people. We have to think before we speak to make sure we’re working toward the inherited blessing.
- - Our actions – We need to work but in our world, everything happens now. We scrimp and save so everything’s tight but then we blow the bank on recreation. Mike said he went to Casino Regina to see what the hype was all about. He said it’s not like the commercials. He saw people sitting in sweats at machines spending their kids milk money.
- - Our desires – We sell our birthright for our desires. He said lust never delivers what it promises. Some things we want and it consumes us if we allow it to take over. We want it so bad but when we finally achieve it, it’s not like we dreamed. The lines between need and want in North America are very blurred. We have needs but most of our needs are actually wants. We sell our birthright for instant gratification.
- - Our money – We ask, should I tithe? Or spend it on a new possession? James 4:3 says, ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’
So how do we win? How do we stay strong so that we don’t sell our birthright?
Mike looked over the congregation and asked how many of us have ever been on a diet. (Of course some hands went up.) He said, it’s gotta be more than just self-discipline. If it was just self-discipline, we’d all be thin with perfect bodies. Dieting only works if we change our life-styles, too. So to keep our birthright, we have to stay close to God. A key factor is the Bible. John 15:1-5 says, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’
Three keys to staying strong in our humanity:
- To stay strong we need to eat - We all need to eat or we wouldn’t last long. Spiritually we need to prioritize our devotions. He said so often he gets worn down and weak but his Bible is lying on the shelf gathering dust.
How do we eat?:
- - Healthy – spend time in the word of God. How healthy would you be if you only ate processed food? You need to eat raw, unprocessed food. Mike said there are millions of books our there about the Bible but nothing replaces the actual word of God.
- - On Time. To structure your time with God. If we don’t set aside a certain time each day, it’ll be taken away by other things. We have to decide on a time and say, ‘This is God ‘s time no matter what’. Mike said being a bachelor, he doesn’t always eat on time or eat a structured diet. He said especially when he was a farmer. He’d skip meals. And he didn’t feel that great because of it. When he eats 3 meals a day, he feels better and healthy. Eating regularly gets your body working good.
- - Balnced - Eat a balanced meal - spend time in the Word.
- - Exercise gives us strength when we pray for someone, minister, or feed someone. Mike said sometimes he doesn’t want to drive to another church and speak, but he always feels stronger after he does.
- - Exercise gives us hunger - You eat, work hard, then want to eat some more. Exercise makes you hunger for God.
- - Exercise gives us passion - In the midst of the battle. He said you think about the whole year but in the field, you get a passion for the crop, you want it to succeed. In your Christian life, looking out the window, you get much passion, but getting out on the streets gives you passion to get out and do more.
- - It’s a time of retreat – Mike says he needs a day off - a time to not worry about things. It encourages you and helps you go. He said he functions best when he can attend a retreat once a month. He said that’s why he believes in camps – it get the kids away from distraction and into God. It can be a retreat, a conference, camp or a concert
- – It’s a time of focus – rest gets us focused. Any program is always born out of a need for someone or something else but so often it turns into something that loses focus and becomes just red tape. Focus on what’s important.
- – It’s a time of priority – we’re less liable to be distracted by those things that don’t’ matter in our lives.
Mike said we can’t skip any of these steps. We wouldn’t last if we just exercise and rested but didn’t eat. What if we ate lots and slept lots but didn’t exercise?
But, he said, our most important strenght is our genes. The things we do affect us but there’s no replacement for good genes. Spiritually, we have the best genes - the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is residing in our heart. He’s there and there's no replacement for that. That ‘s what gives us the power to live a Christian life.
In closing, Mike left us with these words from Phil 1:6 ‘Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
Next Sunday – July 20 – our guest speaker will be Dave Hepburn while Pastor Lorne, Dianne and Eva head to the Sandy Creek Gospel Jamboree
If you would like to speak to Mike, please email him.
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