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Sunday, December 27, 2015 am                                Perfection Index 2015 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION (40)
Am I Done Yet?

 

This year we have been examining some attitudes and actions that can help us go on toward perfection.  As we bring this year to its conclusion, today I want to review some of what we have addressed and speak about what lies ahead.

For many, much of this will be a reminder, but for others some of what we address will be fresh and new.  As Christians, we ought to periodically examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). 

 I.                    Hebrews 5:12-6:1

a.        Our Context that we have used as our foundation for the past 2 years. 

b.       The call to go on to perfection (maturity) implies that we have a foundation already on which we can build.  In 2014 we noted the need to be reminded of the basics from time to time.  Without a firm grasp of the fundamentals of our faith, we are not prepared to move beyond these.  This year we have been addressing the need to go on to perfection.  We cannot remain stagnant and be pleasing to God.

c.        Let each of us – it is an individual task, yet the results affect us all (cf. Ephesians 4:16)

d.       Go on – implies action in a positive direction.  Even with a good grasp of the basics, we are not done.  There is the need for further growth. 

e.       Perfection – a term that can mean without any flaw (such as the life Jesus lived) or as portrayed here, the idea of being complete or reaching maturity.  Col. 3:14, 1 Cor. 2:6, Heb. 5:14 – those of full age.

f.         According to our text – one who is mature ought to:

                                                   i.      Be able to teach others – to some degree, the goal of each child of God is to share that with others, at least the fundamentals.  1 Peter 3:15

                                                  ii.      Digest “solid food” and be “skilled” in the word of righteousness

                                                iii.      Be able to discern both good and evil.

 II.                  Attitudes we need

a.        Do you want to be made well? Maturity is not going to be achieved if we do not really want it.  We must be willing to deal with that which stands in our way of perfection.  The question is based upon a text John 5:6 where Jesus asks a man who was a paralytic, “Do you want to be made well.”  His answer demonstrated an attitude of defeat.  Not all want to be made well.
We CANNOT make excuses!  Excuses often enable us to put off doing what we need to do, but as Christians we need to overcome that.

b.       Have this mind in you – Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”
What is our mindset?  A mindset is an attitude or disposition.  The New Testament continually emphasizes the mindset of a Christian.
Romans 12:1-2 – renewing your mind

c.        Make up your mind (resolve) to grow spiritually.  We addressed this in detail in May as we spoke about spiritual growth.  The Bible calls for us to desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:2)  AND to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)

d.       Strive (put forth diligent effort) to reach your full potential – 2 Tim. 2:15 – be diligent to present yourself approved unto God.   2 Peter 1:5-7 describes how with all diligence we grow.
Let us be reminded that God deserves our very best.  Mediocrity is not acceptable to Him.  Many things suffer when we fail to give our very best to Him. 

e.       Learn to trust and love God – we need a proper attitude toward God –
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please Him.
Romans 8:9-11 speaks of the spirit of God dwelling within us.   In July we addressed God working in us.  We noted that God works within us is not denied.  The question is HOW?  We noted that it not something miraculous or mystical, nor does He micromanage our lives.  Rather He is our influence – He influences us through His word which reveals to us His grace.  He also works in us through others – brethren building us up (cf. Eph. 4:11-16), and providentially, etc.   

                                                   i.      Trusting Him - Believing in God is the easy thing, genuinely trusting Him is far more challenging.   Trust is when we put it in His hands even when the times are tough and we are not sure what the outcome will be.  It is actually a result of our maturity.  We have lived for Him and seen Him true to His word. Consider the example of Abraham willing to offer Isaac (Heb. 11:17-19)

                                                  ii.      Loving Him – Jesus emphasized that we need to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – Mark 12:30.  We love Him because He first love us – 1 John 4:19
Of course the way we demonstrate this love is though obeying Him – 1 John 5:3, 2:5.  This love will also be manifested in many other ways – including the way we treat others, the way we give, etc.

THESE qualities are attributes that both help us move toward perfection, and also are very much the result of maturity.

 III.                Actions to promote growth

a.        Dealing with our sins and temptations – to reach maturity, it is imperative that the Christian understand sin.  The better he knows what sin is, the better he is prepared to deal with it. 
1 John 3:4 tells us that sin is lawlessness (to act without law) whether we do what is forbidden OR we fail to do what is commanded (James 4:17, Rom. 14:23 – even acting in doubt can be sin).
Romans 6:23 warns us that the wages of sin is death.
 The task of a Christian is to prepare himself to deal with sin and that means being aware of temptations in his life (those things that are a weakness to him) and taking steps to resist them –

                                                   i.      By realizing you don’t have to sin (1 Cor. 10:13, 2 Pet. 2:9)

                                                  ii.      Putting on your armor (Eph. 6:10-18),

                                                iii.      Being alert to them (1 Peter 5:8-9);

                                                iv.      Turning to  God to deal with them (cf. Matt. 6:13) and

                                                  v.      Running away (2 Tim. 2:22, 1 Cor. 6:18, etc.) – taking steps, perhaps even drastic steps, to avoid and overcome.

Finally, in dealing with sin you need to obtain forgiveness – realize that as a Christian you might sin  from time to time.  When you do, seek forgiveness from God – 1 John 1:9

b.       Prayer in our lives – prayer in the life of a Christian is a spiritual indicator (something that we can use to gauge our growth as Christians – i.e. how much do we pray? When do we pray? For what do we pray?)
The mature Christians realizes the imperative to pray often – 1 Thess. 5:17, Ephesians 6:18, Romans 12:12.  He knows that prayer is a privilege for him and the WAY God has provided for us to approach Him.  Without prayer, a Christian will quickly become spiritually weak!
We spent a month dealing with our need for personal prayer including addressing what makes our prayers acceptable to Him includes:

                                                   i.      Asking in faith (James 1:5-6)

                                                  ii.      Praying according to His will – not self-serving – Matt. 6:10

                                                iii.      With understanding – 1 Cor. 14:15 – knowing what we are praying for

                                                iv.      With sincerity, humility and patience.

                                                  v.      There also needs to be an understanding of attitudes that hinder our prayers.

James 5:16 tells us that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. 

c.        Bible study in our lives – it is also a spiritual indicator.   Just as prayer is the way God has provided for us to communicate with Him, Bible study is the way He communicates with us. 
 If a Christian is going to grow to maturity, spending time in God’s word will be a part of it.  The depth of one’s maturity includes his knowledge of what God desires of him.  There is no easy way to learn God’s word for oneself.  It requires studying His word.  We spent several lessons addressing this important aspect of our lives as well.
2 Tim. 2:15 – be diligent (“study”) to present yourself approved to God by rightly dividing His word.
2 Tim. 3:16-17 – tells us that God’s inspired word is able to make us complete.
Our text itself implies the need for an established knowledge of His word. 
Peter challenged brethren to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
As with prayer, we need proper attitudes as we study:

                                                   i.      Study with faith – believing it is the word of God

                                                  ii.      With reverence – respecting it as the word of God

                                                iii.      Intending to obey it – Mat. 28:19-20

                                                iv.      With an open mind and love for the truth desiring to lean – 1 Peter 2:1-2  - desiring the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby

d.       Giving God our very best in our assemblies – worship is an important part of serving God.   John 4:24 tells us we need to worship God “in spirit and in truth.” 
The mature Christian realizes its importance and is built up by it.  This past month we have been addressing not just worshipping God, but seeking to do so with the best of our ability. 
Colossians 3:23 - doing whatever we do heartily as to the Lord.  1 Peter 4:10-11 – we are to be good stewards of the manifold grace of God in whatever we do.
The Bible is clear that He demands our best!  From the sacrifices of the Old Law to our willingness to put Him first in all that we do.   
He deserves our best in our appearance, our attitude and our efforts. 
Every act of worship is directed toward God – and it edifies us up in the process.  We have discussed 1 Corinthians 14 these past several lessons as it calls for us striving to build each other up as we worship God.  So whether we are leading the congregation in acts of worship or following the leader – let us strive to give Him our very best!

 IV.                Are we done yet?

a.        NO!  We have much left to do.  We can’t quit until our time here is done.
Hebrews 10:38-39 speaks of those who draw back, “My soul has no pleasure in them.”
1 Corinthians 9:24 – run so that you can receive the crown
Paul in Acts 20:24 spoke of going on to Jerusalem even in the face of threats, “so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Jesus in Luke 9:62 dealing with excuses said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

b.       We need to redeem the time (Col. 4:5, Eph. 5:16) – the word “redeeming” in these texts means to take full advantage of an opportunity.  It is a word that is associated with buying up something – in this case, the time you have been allotted.
Time is a valuable commodity.  In fact, there is a sense in which everything in this life is measured in time.  You are paid for your time at work.  The more time one spends learning, the more he is able to do.  When you suffer injury or illness it affects your time (perhaps the living you are hindered from making by lost time).  Conversely, wasted time results in wasted opportunities. 
In both of these passages – Colossians 4:5 is dealing with our interaction with others (evangelism) and Ephesians 5:16 speaks of make wise decisions in all that you do – we are to be wise with our time.

c.        As with everything else we have been given by God, we are stewards of our time as well. 
Consider the one talent servant – not only did he not utilize the resources he was entrusted with, he was called a wicked and lazy servant.  He did NOTHING!  He wasted his time as well as the resources he had.  And for that he was condemned (Matt. 25:18, 26).
Are we wasting our time?  Every day, each of us has the same number of minutes - 1440 minutes to be exact, or 86400 seconds.   Are we being wise stewards with our minutes?
Here is a scenario (fictitious, and disregard the materialistic aspect of it):  Image if those minutes or seconds were converted to dollars.   Every day when you woke up, you had in your bank account $1440 dollars to spend (or $86,400).  But there is a catch – you have to spend it all that day or you lose it at the end of the day.  HOW would you use your time that day?  Would you be flippant with it, or would you make sure you use your time wisely spending what you had at your disposal?  Would you waste the day watching television, or on the internet, or in some other way?  You know you have to sleep, but how much?  You have to do your job or chores (so that time is already spent).  So how would you use the rest of your time?
NOW, relate that to the real world.  We HAVE BEEN given by God those precious minutes and seconds.  How are we using them?  NOTE: I use the illustration of seconds because we can do a lot in a few seconds that can make a difference.  You can say a kind word to someone or seek an opportunity to study with them.  Many little organizational tasks only take seconds to complete.

d.       Wasted time cannot be bought back.  While time for relaxation and recuperation are good and have a purpose in refreshing our minds and bodies (and absolutely needed).  They are good for a while, but let us not squander what time we have been given. 
James 4:13-17 teaches us that in making plans, we include God.  Think about that as we utilize our time.

e.       Take it a day at a time – Matt. 6:34 – don’t worry about tomorrow, but deal with the now!

f.         Is God pleased with how you use your time? We have been emphasizing giving Him our best?  Have we been doing that with our time?

g.        We are still here – so we need to remain faithful (Rev. 14:13)  As long as we have breath within us, we still need perfecting!

 What remains?  Next year we are going to continue our study of our growth by address how we as Christians interact with one another.  My theme for next year will be “Others”.  But we also want to discuss some of the problems we face as Christians.  The more we mature as Christians, the more grounded we become, but it can also be more challenging as you seek to “go on to perfection”.  So as we asked in the title: “Are we done yet?”  The answer is a resounding No!