New Year 2011 - 1. Living Life in the Fulness of God
1 Peter 1: 13 - 16 Little poem - describes life in 2011: This is the Age of the Half-read Page And the Quick Bash, and the Mad Dash The Bright Night, with the Nerves Tight The Plane Hop, with a Brief Stop The Lamp Tan in a Short Span , The Big Shot in a Good Spot And the Brain Strain and the Heart Pain And the Cat-Naps, till the Spring Snaps, And the Fun's Done! It's the nature of the beast in the 21st century. We live in a hurry-up, get-it-done-now kind of world. The Paradox of Our Time “The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; We spend more but have less; We buy more but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences but less time; We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts but more problems, more medicine but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little of God's Word, watch TV too much, give too little, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living but not a life; We've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour. We've conquered outer space but not inner space; We've done larger things but not better things; We've cleaned up the air but polluted the soul; We've split the atom but not our prejudice; We write more but learn less; We plan more but accomplish less. We've learned to rush but not to wait; We have higher incomes but lower morals; We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever but have less communication; We've become long on quantity but short on quality. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace but domestic warfare; more leisure but less fun; more kinds of food but less nutrition. These are days of two incomes but more divorce; of fancier houses but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.” Every part of that seems very true, but I was especially drawn to this sentence: "We've conquered outer space but not inner space." Everything you need to know about modern life is in that sentence. Everything we build is bigger, stronger, faster, larger. But inner space is another problem. We're not even close to conquering that. The human heart seems as unruly as ever. "O God, Speak to Us." God always speaks to those who are willing to hear. A. The Principle of Intentionality. By that I mean, living life on purpose, and not just drifting through one day after another. It's so easy to go through a day, and be very busy, and yet come to the end and say, "What did I do today?" Busyness is no guarantee that you are actually doing anything important. Busyness may be a cover for a lack of purpose in your life. God speaks to us very clearly about living intentionally, with purpose, not just filling each day with activity, but finding out what really matters, and then going and doing it. Not everything matters equally. Some things we spend lots of time on don't really matter at all. B. The Principle of Holiness. Who we are is more important that where we are. What we are on the inside is more important than what we do on the outside. If you are the right sort of person on the inside, you are more likely to do what God wants on the outside. What is it that God really wants from us? "Be holy because I am holy." Simple as those words are, holiness remains a mystery to most Christians. We know what the word means, but we have a hard time explaining what it looks like. Simply, God says, "Be like me." In your going and coming, be like me. In your buying and selling, be like me. In your sleeping and waking, be like me. In your thinking and dreaming, be like me. In your words and deeds, be like me. In all parts of your life, be like me. That's a high standard. It goes far beyond the usual list of dos and don'ts that we associate with being holy. Holiness means being so much like God that you change the world - holiness means to be so much like God that the world begins to change around you. When you meet a truly holy person, you feel drawn to them because they are so much like God. We've all known at least one person like that-someone whose life radiates God in such a way that you were drawn to them. Almost always such people are filled with a kind of contagious joy. What a fantastic combination. The Bible speaks of the "beauty of holiness." Holy people have holy joy. They enjoy life because they are full of God. Maybe the people around us have seen us and our religion but they haven't seen enough of God in us, and not that much joy. To be holy means to be full of God in every part of life. What could be better than that? How do we get from here to there? Where do we start? What changes do we need to make? Peter suggests 5 things that we need for our lives to be filled with God. 1. We Need a New Mindset v. 13a NIV - "Prepare your minds for action." Literal - "Gird up the loins of your mind." Today - "Roll up your sleeves and get to work." NEB - "Be like men stripped for action." "Don't let your mind get fat and lazy." The mind wanders unless we strictly control it. Spiritual trouble always begins with a lazy, undisciplined mind. All our problems start between our ears. First we think it, then we dwell on it, and then we do it. So it is with anger, bitterness, impatience, lust, greed, and every other sin. If you want to be holy, you've got to control your mind. God has no use for a believer with a flabby mind. We need to learn to think, think hard, and think things through carefully. Ephesians 6:14 - stand firm with the "belt of truth" buckled around our waist. If we are going to be strong in these days of immense moral confusion, we must "gird up the loins" of our minds. Only way to do that is with the "belt of truth," the Word of God. 2. We Need a New Focus v. 13b "Be self-controlled" or "Be sober." Speaks of the need to be free from a clouding influence. Alcohol and other stimulants drag us away from God because they cloud our moral and spiritual judgment, causing us to lower our standards and compromise our values. Anger clouds our judgment to the point where we totally lose control. What else would cloud our spiritual or moral judgment? A wrong friendship - harmful TV show - habit you know is hurting you - certain music can do it - atmosphere where you work - certain momentos from the past - love of new fads and fashions - desire for acceptance can do it. There are some people you ought not to be friends with. There are some books you ought not to read. There are some TV shows you shouldn't watch. There are some places you shouldn't go. There are some movies you shouldn't watch. There are some Internet sites you shouldn't visit. There are some people you shouldn't date. There are some relationships that are no good for you. There are some jobs you shouldn't have. There are some habits you need to break. There are some songs you shouldn't listen to. There are some people who only drag you down. The point is: You know the truth about all these things because the Holy Spirit lives in you. If you will listen to the Spirit, he'll give you clear guidance. But even the Spirit can't help you if you reject his leading. Keep your eyes open. Don't let anything cloud your vision. 3. We Need a New Goal v. 13c We all set our hope on something. A student sets his hope on graduation, a bride sets her hope on the wedding day, a sportsman sets his hope on winning. We all set our hope on the true controlling interest of our lives. Peter says, "You will see Jesus when he returns to the earth. Keep your eyes on the prize." The Christian life is not a 100m sprint it's more like a marathon. Keep on running, and don't stop until you see Jesus standing at the finish line. The race is hard, long, difficult, at times discouraging - you'll never finish if you don't keep your eye on the goal. Sometimes the slightest distraction can be disastrous. We hear a lot about climbing the ladder of success. That's well and good, but pity the poor fellow who climbs to the top of the ladder only to discover it's been leaning against the wrong wall. If we lose sight of Christ's coming, we also lose our #1 motivation for Christian living. But when we keep the coming of Christ squarely in view, we will have enthusiasm to share the gospel, courage to face suffering, and strength to turn away from the fads of the world. If we know that one day we will give an account to the Lord Jesus Christ for how we have lived, if that truth ever grips us on the inside, it will change the way we live, the choices we make, the friends we keep, the words we speak, and the path we follow. So Peter says, "Keep your eyes on the goal." 4. We Need a New Lifestyle v. 14 Peter calls his readers "obedient children" and contrasts that with the way they used to live before they came to Christ. Do you know what you were before you came to Jesus? You were ignorant - you didn't know any better - even if you knew better, you had no power to change your life. The message is simple: Don't slip back into your old way of life. Peter is talking about your outward life, the part other people can see. So watch how you live. When we adopt the habits, mannerisms, dress, speech and distinctive traits of the world, we are covering up our true identity as God's children. Let your life by its outward character demonstrate the inner change that Jesus Christ had made. We must make a decisive choice, a character-shaping decision to break with the old life once and for all. We will be exactly what we choose to be. 5. We Need a New Standard of Conduct v. 15, 16 We know God and God is holy. Holiness is the essence of what it means to be God. If you are a Christian, there ought to be a family resemblance. God's children ought to reflect their Father's basic character to the world. As a Christian, I bear the name of my Heavenly Father. So do you, if you know Jesus Christ as Saviour. To be holy means to live so that others will think well of him. To be holy means bringing credit to our Heavenly Father by what we say and do. It means living so that those who don't know him, know him because they know us. Being holy means living so that others will say, "He serves a wonderful God," and so that God will look down from heaven and say, "That's my boy!" or "That's my girl!" We bear the name of God everywhere we go, and that ought to make a difference in the way we live. One final thing - "Be holy in all you do." Phillips - "in every department of your life." Holiness begins with the trivial details. If holiness does not show itself in the small things of life, where will it ever be seen? Most of life is made up of small things. We can't say, "It doesn't matter what I do" because it does. Holiness is not a set of rules and regulations. Holiness is about God! God when I wake up. God on the way to work. God in the classroom. God in the showroom. God in the office. God in the factory. God during the break. God on the way home. God at the supper table. God while watching TV. God while reading email. God while surfing the Internet. God on the telephone God at bedtime. God while I sleep. God in every detail. God in every place. God in every relationship. God in every word. God in every thought. God in every deed. God in my private moments. God with my friends. God with my enemies. God when I am happy. God when I am sad. God in the good times. God in the bad times. God in my faith. God in my doubts. God when I succeed. God in my failures. God above me. God below me. God before me. God behind me. God around me. God within me. God always and forever. God first and last. God all around me. God guiding all I do and say. God in my deepest thoughts. Always God, always there, always with me, now and forever. This is true holiness. This is true joy. This is the purpose for which I was created. Without God, I have no meaning, no purpose, and no reason for being here. “We’ve conquered outer space but not inner space." "Inner space" is where we must begin. A message like this calls for searching self-examination. When it comes to being full of God, we all have a long way to go. It is precisely at this point that the message of the gospel becomes so powerful. Jesus Christ came to bring God to us and us to God. He is the very fullness of God in bodily form. He came to save us, and he lives now to help us. If you want to be more like God, it can happen. If you want holy joy, the first step is the hardest-and the simplest. Ask for it. Ask God to reveal himself to you. Ask the Lord to fill you with the fullness of who he is. Ask the Lord to make you holy in every part of your life. Always God, always there, always with me, now and forever." God must be all in all, and in every part of your life. If we want to be holy, we must conquer our "inner space." Begin there, and your life will change, and the world will change around you. Amen.