Wednesday, January 22, 2020

New Year, New Goals: Three Ways to Grow this Year

Welcome to a new year friends and family. Welcome to a new beginning in your life. The word of the Lord says, “Look I am doing a new thing! Can you perceive it?” And it also says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

Spiritually this city is a dry and barren place, and we will see God do a new thing. Today, this year, is the year of revival, the year of rebirth, and the year of new pathways. And I’d like to invite each of you on that journey with us.

The way of salvation is open today. But the clock is ticking. What you decide in this life, will be your eternity when you die. It’s time to make your decision.

We’ve got to live differently than the world around us. And if you’re really seeking to live like Jesus, then you will overcome the empty ways of the world. Today we’re going to address three ways that we can grow, and blossom over this next year.

If we’re real Christians, praying, and reading our Bibles, and doing daily devotionals, then we will be growing in Christ.

First way we can grow in Christ, is to grow in your relationship with God. Your faith walk with God is based on a relationship, talking to God throughout the day, in your mind, and also talking to God in prayer. And God talks back to us through the Bible. But if you Bible is closed and you aren’t reading it, then you can’t hear from God. And if you don’t hear from God, then you aren’t a Christian. As your pastor I am ordering each of you to read your Bible, and pray to God everyday. Seek God, study his ways, and learn about Him. He wants to walk with you in relationship, as Father and child. With love and truth.

Second way, is to develop your spiritual gifts. The Bible talks about many spiritual gifts within the church, and here are some of them. The Bible says, "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines."

What is your spiritual gift? Maybe it's as simple as wiping down tables, or stacking chairs, or volunteering to help in the kitchen.  Maybe it's reading from the Bible to the church, or praying for the body, or sharing your testimony, or preaching the word.  Perhaps your spiritual gift is visiting the sick, or visiting those in prison, or witnessing to people in the street. Perhaps it's working with kids, or ringing the bell during kettle season.  Pray and God will show you where he wants you.

Third and final way to grow in Christ is to live in holiness. 1 Peter 1:15-16 New International Version (NIV) says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Do we mistakenly think that we can live in sin and still walk with God? Then we’re wrong about that.

The word of God says, “9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” -1st Corinthians 6:9-11

We’ve got some of those very problems in this church today. And if its you, who is the one arguing, causing drama, spreading gossip, and slandering others, I’ll tell you this: You aren’t fooling anyone. We know about it, and we’re going to deal with it.

For those who think they can be part of this church, and play those sort of games, those days are over. We’ve seen divisions, drama, slander, and gossip threatening to destroy this church. And we won’t let that happen. So if those things continue to happen in the coming months, we’ll unfortunately have to ask some people to leave the church. Which is the last thing I want to do, but we can’t go on like this, and expect to survive.

And for those who like to come to dinner church, and snicker, and sneer, and make fun of us, you won’t be here much longer if that conduct continues.

It’s time for us to get serious about all this. And we will be getting serious. We’re gonna be making some changes.

It’s a new time. It’s a new year. And I’m your pastor. As your pastor, my job is not to fix all your problems, or always make you feel happy. My job is to teach you, and correct you, and help you to become more like Jesus. So I need each of you to understand that as your pastor, I have the responsibility to correct you, and rebuke you, and guide you in the right direction. Sometimes that means speaking painful truths.

As your pastor I’m your spiritual leader. And I’m going to be leading you into a new chapter of your life. A new chapter of blessings, of growth, of trials and struggles, and of love and relationship with God. This new year is going to see the resurrection of the Owosso Citadel. This is an exciting time! And we’re going to watch the Holy Spirit move in each of our lives in amazing and terrifying ways. We’re going to go through hard trials, and watch sins of the flesh fall away, and disappear and be replaced by the fruits of the Spirit, of love, joy, peace, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

The alcohol is going fade away and become sobriety. The cigarettes are going to disappear and become fresh air in our lungs. The depression is going to fade away into joy. The sexual immorality, the sleeping around, the masturbation and pornography is going to vanish and be replaced by purity, fellowship, and holiness. The Lord is doing a new thing, and boy is it going to be hard. But if we don’t get cleaned up, and we die, we go to outer darkness, to hell. But if we live out holiness, when we die, we are embraced into the kingdom of God, heaven, on the New Earth, and our lives forever will be about joy instead of pain.

So I'd like to conclude with this scripture, about unity, because we need unity in this church. We need it so badly.  The word of God says, "12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. -1 Cor 12:12-20

Let’s pray, and set ourselves apart to the Lord now.