Jan. 7, 2018 – Jeff & Gary Tag Team Sermon

January 7, 2018

Releasing the Past – Jeff Peterson

I Want to be Happy this Year – Gary Fine

January 7, 2018

Releasing the Past

 

When we hold onto our past with regrets, we are robbing ourselves of the joy of the present.  Guilt is Satan’s playground.  Satan loves to cause endless remorse and guilt by reminding us of our misdeeds from previous events in life.  When we are troubled by mistakes we may have made, we are playing into Satan’s hand because this divides us from God.  God, however, is ready to forgive us and forget what has gone on before.

A friend once told me, ‘when Satan accuses, it is always in the spirit of condemnation.  But when God corrects, it is without heaviness.”  If you feel condemnation, the source of these accusations is from the devil.  Don’t listen to him.

To overcome guilt and condemnation, confess your sins to God so you might be cleansed.

1 John 1: 8-9 – “If we say we have no sins, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If you have confessed your sins, but still live under condemnation, you are listening to the wrong voice.  God forgets what we have confessed.

Micah 7:18-19 – “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?  He does not retain his anger forever, but he delights in steadfast love.  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot.  He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

If God has forgotten our sins, who are we to remind him?

My Story:  Are You Pardoned or Paroled

When I was younger, I was trying and failing to live a holy life.  I was beset by sins.  The more I tried not to lust, the more I did.  Paul talked about this dilemma in Romans 7.  He discussed the psychological cycle of trying to live a holy life in the power of his own strength  rather than through the power of the One who makes us holy and sanctifies us.

Romans 7: 15-25  – “I do not understand what I do. For I do not do what I want to; and what I detest, I do.  Yet if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good…..  I know that no good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  I can desire what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I desire, but, instead, the evil I do not desire.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?   Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

You cannot perfect yourself.  If you rely on your own strength, you will fail.  But Paul also says sin will no longer have power over you (Romans 6:14) because you are not under law, but are under grace.

Grace is from God.  God, through Christ, gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  This means God is not counting our trespasses against us.  Instead, through Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to Him.  Jesus, who was sinless, took our sins to the cross.  If we confess our sins, we are reconciled to the Father.  We must be ambassadors for Christ, believing in him and sharing the joy of forgiveness.

No matter what our sin, God has forgiven us.  Adultery, murder, abortion, (which is murder), lust, pornography, pedophilia, incest, theft, homosexual acts, fornication, rape, gluttony, pride, greed, alcoholism, drugs, mockery, and blasphemy.

ALL these He has forgiven and reconciled himself to you IF YOU will confess them and come to HIM.  Your sins will be washed away and your soul will be whiter than snow.

When a criminal is paroled, he is constantly looking back.  When he is pardoned, he is free.  God wants to give us a full pardon.  You have to let Him.

If you have trouble releasing the past; give up.  Come to Him.  Let God release the past for you.

 

I WANT TO BE HAPPY THIS YEAR

Gary Fine

If there is one undeniable fact about human nature, it is this:  We all want to be happy. We crave joy; infinite, endless joy.  A plethora of books and articles of self-help ways to acquire happiness are readily available.  Yet, do they work?  Most do not.

Maybe we should focus on discovering a real truth about happiness, and it is this; the most joyful and happy people are those who have experienced the secret that holiness is real happiness. Our goal should be to live in the moment – to grasp the present – and to live for God alone!

Living for God Alone

The problem with most peoples’ approach is they look for joy in all the wrong places.  In the kingdom of God we believe and know that true happiness comes from Christ. By  letting Him reign on the throne of our hearts, we experience a lasting joy.  It is a peace and comfort that is eternal.  Righteousness comes from a personal relationship with Him.   We should let go of anything that hinders our spiritual growth.

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, BUT its end is the way of death.”

We all should seek God first this year and commit ourselves to sharing God with others.  Jesus said these very words on the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all this shall be added unto you.”

We should live for God alone and we should be a servant.

To be a servant means to give up my rights for others.  We are to be more demanding of ourselves than we are of other people.  Paul tells us in Philippians 2: 4-7 that we are to look out not just for our own interests, but for the interests of others.  Didn’t Christ Himself do this?  He, who was 100 % man, was also God in the flesh.  He did not hold on to His own rights, but surrendered all His rights to others.  He considered His deity an opportunity to serve others.  All His authority and the power available to Him could have saved Him from persecution and the cross.  But He lived to become a channel of giving instead of receiving.  He focused not on being served but on serving.   The woman at the well is an example.  Christ could have allowed her to be stoned as the law required.  But he told the men around her that he, who was without sin, could cast the first stone.  The only one there without sin was Christ.  Instead He told her to sin no more.  Christ saved this woman from death and gave her the opportunity to live a new life.

Being a servant also means becoming less so others can be more.  Jesus left the splendor of heaven to be born in a stable.  He left the company of angels for the company of men and women on earth.  He left the power of omnipresent for the limitations of humanity.  From heaven to a cross, from robes to rags, from streets of gold to the cobblestones of Jewish streets, from the songs of Heaven’s chorus to the cries of angry crowds, from being exalted, to being executed, Jesus came to serve.  The heart of the Gospel is not wealth or prosperity as most people believe.  The American dream to many is to achieve success, wealth, education, and status. It is against human nature to be emptied instead of being filled, or to become nothing instead of becoming something.  Yet this was how Jesus lived.  His passion was for others whatever the cost.  Was it expensive?  Yes.  Was it painful?  Excruciatingly so.  Therefore we should strive to empty out our lives so that we are filled with Him.

Becoming a servant is also to be obedient.   Philippians 2:8:  “And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”

It is impossible for us to grasp the depth – to understand the intensity of what God is telling us.  Think about it.  Christ was of God and with God in creation.  He made us all.  He is the ruler over everything.  Yet, He humbled himself and allowed men to execute Him on the cross.  The Cross!  This was the lowest form of execution designated for the lowest class of people in society.  It was also the most cruel form of death.  It was not just the nails.  It was the slow asphyxiation, the thirst, the mental anguish, and the possibility of being attacked by wild animals as he hung there.   But Jesus was obedient even to death.  He paid the price for our sins so we could have redemption.

The Jewish people could not fathom a Messiah who displayed humility instead of royalty.  How could a Messiah allow himself to die on a cross?  This was not in their realm of understanding.

However, we are to have this same mind set of Christ, the same attitude of reaching out to others.  We may be asked to minister to someone we do not know, or one who is down and out.  Life is really about being. Being there, being available, being willing.  It may have many obstacles, disappointments, duties, or responsibilities.  Yet these obstacles are not here to be stumbling blocks. They can, in fact, become the stepping stones to opportunities to serve God and others.  And when that occurs there is victory. Who, then, are the winners?  Everybody!