Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change

Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change

Scripture: James 4:6-7
Date: 09/07/2013  Lesson: 10
"Reformation is the choice to respond to the Holy Spirit's leading for change and growth. It is the choice to give up whatever stands in the way of this closer relationship with God."

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews
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Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church in Sacramento, California in the United States of America. It is by no accident that you have joined us to study together God's Word. We have a family of believers and studiers that join us every week from across the country and around the world and we are thrilled that you have joined us again. Before we get into our study, let's sing together. So pull out your hymnals, for those of you who are at home, and let's sing hymn #75 - 'the wonder of it all'.

This comes as a request from barbara and geraldine in england, darlinda in the netherlands, sanlan in vanuatu, janice, rob and Ruth in new zealand, and fezzy in the republic of korea and 40 other people from around the planet. So we are singing a favorite this morning - 'the wonder of it all' - and we'll sing both verses. Amen. Do you ever think about that during the week? The God of heaven, the creator of all things, the God of the universe loves you and loves me and gave his son that we could be restored to him. Praise the Lord.

We have a lot to sing about and cheer about and, especially knowing that he is coming soon to get us. Praise the Lord. If you have a hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming study together, it's very simple. Just go to our website at 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link and you can request any hymn in our hymnal and we would love to sing that with you on a coming presentation. As you know, and those that you are following us regularly to study together, we are going through the hymnals and learning hymns that nobody knows.

Hymn #67 is our new hymn this morning and it comes as a request from karl and maisie in France and irene in australia. 'O lord, now let your servant' - hymn #67. Oh Father in Heaven, as simeon said so long ago, 'our eyes have seen salvation and we are here because we have seen salvation and because it is good to us. And so, lord, just quicken our hearts as we study about you and as we leave this place today, that we take the words that we have learned and the message in our hearts to give to others that are around us that they will see you living in us. Please bless pastor Batchelor today as he opens Your Word.

Let His Words be yours. And lord, just save us for thy kingdom. Keep us faithful to the end. I pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen. Our study today will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central.

Thank you very much jolyne and our musicians and singers and I enjoy singing those new songs. Good morning everybody. Happy Sabbath. And I want to welcome those who are watching - our extended class. I had a great experience this week - the last couple weeks - I've been gone traveling.

I was up in british columbia at a camp meeting there. It was fun to meet so many people that are out there, you know, because it's such a big country and so many folks are out in these mountains and canyons, a lot of people have satellite and they study with us every week. So I want to greet our friends that are in Canada and british columbia, in particular. And then last week we were with some of the asi - Amazing Facts team were at the national asi meeting in Orlando. I haven't been there in awhile and - wow - just lots and lots of friends came out and said, 'we study with you folks each week.

' And so it was a delight to meet all of our friends scattered everywhere. We do have a free offer that goes along with our lesson today. We're talking about revival and change and can you change - can you be a different person? We've got a book 'can a saved man choose to be lost' by Joe Crews. This is really a classic everybody ought to have. You've all heard of predestination - the idea that once you're saved you can't be lost - once saved always saved.

This addresses this in a very clear biblical way and you'll enjoy that. Oh, by the way, if you want it call 866-study-more - that translates to 866-788-3966 and that's offer #112. Okay, so we're going to our lesson - lesson #10 - talking about reformation. It's a willingness to grow and to change. Now our lesson study, and I really appreciate this series that pastor finley wrote dealing with revival and reformation.

There is no real revival without reformation. In other words, if something isn't reformed or changed, renewed in some way, it's not really revival. Something needs to be restored for it to be genuine revival. And so we have a memory verse and that memory verse is James chapter 4, verses 6 and 7 and this is from the new king James version. I invite you to say it with me.

Are you ready? James 4, verses 6 and 7. Here we go, "he gives more grace. Therefore he says, 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Now we can get victory if we're willing to change but change doesn't always come easy. Who was it - Mark twain - that said, 'the only person who likes change is a wet baby.

' Most of us get kind of into a rut. Now I'll notice, as a pastor, if I want to know whether certain people are making it to church - in a church this size you've got plenty of options as to where you want to sit. You can be on the right, on the left, the second level, the third level and I pretty much know where to look. Some of you surprise me every now and then, but I pretty much know where to look to find certain people. How many of you will 'fess up you sit in the same general vicinity every week? And that's why you don't know half the members.

You only know those that sit around you and whatever visitors we might have. It would probably - you'd break out into spasms and fits if someone made you sit in a different side of the church someday, huh? You might get seasick or something if you just had to completely switch sides. Because we get in our spot - and some of you have a reason, you know, you say, 'this is a good place. The sound is better in this' - you know, the sound is different in parts of the church - sometimes better with the speakers and the way it bounces. 'I can see better from this place.

' Or you might have your reasons but we get into ruts and somebody once said, 'a rut is a shallow grave with the ends kicked out.' We do. We get into ruts of behavior. And that's especially troubling when it comes to change. It becomes difficult to change. We might plan on changing 'one of these days'.

We might always be thinking about the day we're going to make that big change. Well, that's part of your being in a rut is you're just only thinking about it. Somebody look up for me - we're going to start right off getting you busy - Ecclesiastes 1:9. We gave out some verses - you got that one? Let's get you a microphone. Ecclesiastes 1:9 and I'll be calling out a couple of other verses in a minute.

Matter of fact, I'll give you one of them now. 1 John 2 verses 1 and two. Who did we give that to? That's back here. Alright, we'll get you the microphone next jan. Alright, yeah, the Lord tells us that we need to make changes if we're going to grow.

How many of you like nostalgia? You think, 'oh the good old days.' You know and you listen - you say, 'oh I heard that old song. Those were the good old days.' And it's because it reminds us of things that are constant. Things that are unstable or when there's change, it can throw us. But to really be a victorious Christian, you need to be willing to make changes because we're all addicted to sin and in order to get victory over sin, it requires transformation. So go ahead, read for us Ecclesiastes 1:9.

"That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." "That which has been is what shall be." Now who said that? Solomon - wisest man. Things have a tendency - history repeats itself. And, you know, people usually die like they live. A lot of people think, 'oh, but you know, when I get ready to die I'm going to make a change. I'm going to surrender and before I die I'm going to be totally surrendered and I'm going to love the Lord and I'm going to give up those cherished sins' and people usually die like they live.

And you don't always have that warning. And so, it's a good idea that when the Holy Spirit's working on you and you know there's something that needs to be changed, do it now. The Bible never says 'when it's convenient' or 'one of these days' or 'when you get around to it.' The Bible says, 'today - now is the accepted time.' Percent of Americans would change a bad habit if they could. 64 Percent would change their wealth. Percent would like to change their weight.

The number who would like to change their intelligence - only 32 percent. But it occurred to me, if you could change that it would really affect all of the other changes that you wanted. That would be the first thing, you know, if you were a whole lot smarter you might be wealthier, you might be thinner, and you might be - what was the other thing? - Overcome that habit that you wanted to overcome. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:17, "now the Lord is that spirit; and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory," - and that word 'transformed' there - and this is going to sound familiar - metamorphoo.

You know, when a butterfly - no, I should say, when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly it goes through a metamorphosis and this is where you get the word. That change that it's talking about here is not just change - like you change your socks, it's talking about a different kind of creature change. And so it is through beholding. It says, "but we with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed" - we're being metamorphosed - into the same image that we're looking at. You know we look into the Lord - at the Lord - and we'retransformed.

You become changed by beholding. I've said this before but I'm going to repeat it. With creatures - certain creatures in particular, like with a duck or a goose or a swan - there's an imprinting that happens at a critical point shortly after they hatch and if that little duckling or that gosling - when it hatches - it sees the family dog, assuming the dog doesn't eat it, it will start to quack and peep after that dog and it pretty soon will follow that dog everywhere and it thinks, 'that's what I am. I'm a dog' or 'I'm whatever that is.' And I told you this story, Karen and I were kayaking down a river one time - it was an overnight trip with some friends - and we came upon an abandoned baby duck and took it back to the camp to show everyone else - there was no mother around and went down to the water and let the thing go and it peeped around a little bit and waddled back up and started to follow us around and we couldn't get rid of that thing. It slept with us that night.

When we finally bid farewell and went kayaking down the river, it jumped in the water and floated after us and kept coming and we finally let it stay with us and it was amazing to me because we'd go through these rapids and we'd think 'that poor little duck's never going to make it' but, you know, they float like ducks. And it was just incredible. And then we'd go through calm water it'd come up to us and it would jump up on our kayaks just like a baby duck does on its mother's back. And the thing just bonded with us. It thought it was a human.

This happens with people too. At a very early age there's a bonding that happens. There's an identity thing that goes on and you become like what you look at. Our souls are something like a virgin photographic plate. You know, when you have that film that's got the chemical on it and you quickly expose it by opening the shutter.

I'm not talking about digital cameras - the old version. You quickly expose it and you close it again. Whatever light was imprinted on it is captured and our souls, our characters become transformed into what we behold. You become changed by beholding. So one of the most important things you can do to change is choose what you look at.

And I think one of the most toxic things that's happened to the church and our culture is what we're looking at. And the society is being changed by beholding - the media - we constantly have images 0n everything from our smart phones to our computer screens to the televisions and videos and dvds that everybody's watching. We're becoming transformed - our thinking, our values - everything becomes transformed by what we behold. So how do you arrest that? How do you become a better Christian? What do you look at? Fix your eyes on Jesus and as we daily, through prayer - do you have a mental screen when you pray? Can we see Christ through his word? Yeah, we picture words. I can tell you a story right now I just did about a little duck and you had pictures in your mind, I'm assuming, as I told you that story.

And so, as you read His Word and the truths of God's history and story are impressed on your mind and as you pray and as you look at the character of Jesus you'll be transformed. But if you're, every day, trying to balance how much media am I looking at and how much of Jesus am I looking at and there's this war going on in your soul between that, you're going to have an amalgamated image of what you become. And if you really want to be purely a Christian then you've got to starve one image and feed the other. And the problem with the church today is we wonder why we're struggling to live holy lives, why we struggle with temptation. What are you looking at? You become like what you look at.

That's why idolatry is such a big issue in the Bible with God. Because people become like what they worship and if you worship God - what do you do when you worship something? You look at them. You come before them. You focus - you fix on it and you're transformed by beholding. You're metamorphosed by beholding.

So one of the single, simple, most important things we can do to experience a change into the image of Christ - look at who he is and we are transformed by that. Alright, that was a big introduction. Sorry. We need grace to grow. Don't become discouraged if you are not what you know you need to be if you can see growth and transformation.

Mark 9:33, it says, "then he came to capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, 'what was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?' But they kept silent," - no one wanted to say anything, like guilty children, - "for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest." 'In the new kingdom I think I ought to be prime minister.' 'You? You prime minister? No, I ought to be prime minister. You should be butler.' 'No, but' - and they were all talking about how great and how qualified they were for any job openings Jesus might have in the new kingdom and they all thought that they were superior and arguing which of them was the greatest. Of course, that's when Jesus put a child in their midst and said, 'if you want to enter the kingdom of God you need to be having the attitude of a little child.' That in the world we measure how great we are by how many serve us, but in Christianity you measure how great you are by 'how many do you serve?' So it's a whole different mentality. Anyway, the reason for this Scripture and the point is, were they all thoroughly converted? Even up to the point of the garden of Gethsemane were the disciples still disputing and being jealous and having problems and they were kind of acting a little bit like a typical church.

Now they were Godly men, probably better than the typical church, but they were not totally sanctified and converted. And yet, had Jesus already sent them out teaching and preaching? So the Lord was using them in soul winning even though they weren't totally converted. So is there hope for us? You know, I think that working for God is part of your conversion process. And we'll get to the study of Peter in just a minute, but they needed change even after three and a half years of following Jesus. And when the Holy Spirit fell on pentecost they had some big changes.

Let me give you another one, Luke 9:51, "now it came to pass, when the time had come for him to be received up," - he's about to ascend to heaven. He's on his final journey to Jerusalem - "that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem," - he's up in Galilee, he's heading south towards Jerusalem - "and sent messengers before his face. And as they went, they entered a village of the samaritans, to prepare for him." - He had some run ahead, 'see if we can find an inn or somewhere we can stay. The place was busy - feast - lot of travelers, 'see if you can get a room for us.' And it says that the samaritans did not receive him because he was going to Jerusalem. Now the reason for this - just a little Bible history on the verse - the samaritans said you're supposed to worship on mount garizem.

Jesus was on his way to worship on Mount Zion - Jerusalem - mount moriah. And they said, 'look, if you're going to worship with the jews - you had spent time teaching and preaching among the samaritans - we thought that you liked us - and you're going to go right through our village on the way to Jerusalem and you're not going to worship with us. You just keep on going and don't worship with us.' Something of an insult they said, 'don't even bother staying here if you're going to Jerusalem to worship. Well, that really bothered James and John. Listen to what they said.

"And when his disciples James and John saw this," - by the way, I'm in Luke 9 and verse 54 now - when "James and John saw this they said, 'lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?'" 'We've got a biblical precedent. It's scriptural. Burn 'em all up. Just give us the word and we'll know - actually, we've been wanting to do something like that. We've been wanting to try out one of these Elijah-like miracles and here's an opportunity, lord.

They just - they slighted you. Let's just kill 'em all. Not just kill 'em, let's burn them to death.' These are the loving apostles James and John. And Jesus he turned and rebuked them. That means there's something in his voice that says, 'guys, what's with you?' You know, it wasn't just gentle, it's a rebuke.

And he said, "you do not know what manner of spirit you are of." - 'It's not my spirit, that's a diabolical spirit.' I mean, there's only two spirits, right? He's saying, 'this isn't my spirit.' - "For The Son of man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And he just went on to another village. He said, 'I'm not going to burn them all up because they didn't give me a hotel room.' They didn't give him a hotel room when he was born, right? He didn't burn up everyone in Bethlehem. So did James and John need some attitude adjustments? Do you read later in the Bible and see that they did make those changes? That's right. So don't become discouraged. Do even people who are part of the church sometimes experience un - inappropriate indignation? And yet Jesus didn't say, 'look, I'm now going to excommunicate you from your apostleship.

' He rebuked them and said, 'that's the wrong spirit.' And is there a time for us to challenge one another when we have the wrong spirit? When a brother or sister starts to, you know, come down real hard on somebody and you have to say, in a loving, gentle way, 'that's the wrong spirit.' Not for the purpose of saying, 'I'm right and you're wrong, but for the purpose of saying, 'hey, we're all in this together and that's not how we operate as Christians.' So I think there needs to be accountability. But that's what leads to revival. Sometimes we need to challenge each other and say, 'you know, what you're doing now is not a prayer request, it's called gossip.' A lot of times we're talking about each other and it's under the context of 'it's so you can pray about them. Let me tell you about all their problems in their family. So you can pray about them.

' Sure. It's just because you're being - wanting some salacious conversation. So if you're going to do it, do it to be redemptive. Matthew 20, verses 20-22. "Then the mother of zebedee's sons came to him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from him.

And he said to her, 'what do you wish?'" - He already knew, but he asked - "she said to him, 'grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom.'" - You know, when I was growing up my mother was in show business and I had a lot of friends whose moms were in show business and we called them 'stage mothers'. Have you ever heard that expression before? They're always kind of pushing their child out on the stage and promoting their children and trying to groom their children and trying to get the best parts for their children and they could be really - it can be really difficult if you're a school principal and one of your - you're having a school play and - my mother offered to help produce a school play, once, for the public school I went to and she actually did a really good job, but guess who had prime roles? You know it's always, 'my child.' You know? 'They should be out there.' I can think of two or three times my mom got my brother and me on television to do something or other and she wasn't the only stage mother out there back then. There's still a few around today. But zebedee was married to a wife - might have been wonderful but she wanted the best for her children. Doesn't every mother want the best for her - their children? There's also stage grandmothers.

Bonnie's in charge of special music and somehow stephen ends up in the line-up on a regular basis. When he's around. We always want them to shine. We always want the best for them. Well zebedee, you know, James and John's mother, they wanted that too.

"And he said to her, 'what do you wish?' She said to him, 'grant that these two sons of mine might sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left,'" - 'we don't just want, you know, the right one, we want the right and the left.' - James and John, zebedee's sons, flanking Jesus like bookends in your kingdom. And on the right and left meant the premier positions 'in your kingdom'. - "But Jesus answered and said, 'you do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?'" - They said, 'oh sure, yes we are, lord, we're able.' And Jesus was saying, you know, 'sitting - the highest place in my kingdom doesn't come from prestige and position and promotion and possessions, it comes from service.' And I thought it was interesting that of the twelve apostles, James was the first one to die a martyr's death. He said, 'you want honor in my kingdom? This is how you get it.

' And John, he was the last of the apostles to die. Isn't that interesting? So they did kind of flank the apostles and one was the first and one was the last. John was the only one to die of old age. But was he persecuted for his faith? Prisoner several times - same thing with Paul and he says, 'if you really want honor in my kingdom, it's not about position and people fawning after you, it's about sacrifice and suffering.' So, alright read for us, go ahead, 1 John now. "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.

And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with The Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." You know, this is a very, very important verse for a number of reasons. First of all, he says, 'my little children' - so who's he talking to? Talking to the church. And he said, 'I'm writing these things to you so you don't sin.' Now, in the church there's a whole lot of excuses being made for sin and, you know, people are saying, 'well, we all sin.' And 'who doesn't sin?' And 'all have sinned.' And a lot of discussion, a lot of sermons are being dedicated to trying to make everybody feel better because we've sinned and it is true that if anyone sins God has provided a remedy. But don't ever underestimate the part of the verse that says, 'I've written to you that you do not sin.

' He doesn't want us to sin. Well, he wants us to sin a little bit? Does he want us to sin a little? God's holy. He doesn't want us to sin at all. It's his will that you should be sanctified and the standard is that you be like Christ and Christ is a perfect standard and so, you know part of me wants to make it clear to you - sin is what put Jesus on the cross and when you look at Jesus suffering on the cross, think about what our sins did to him and how much sin hurts him. Why would you ever want to make an excuse for that? Why would you ever want to embrace that? And so, make sure that, like job, you love God and you eschew evil - you hate sin.

And so, he says, 'but, I want to give you hope. I've written to you that you do not sin.' God wants us to be holy. And don't ever feel comfortable about sin. But if you sin - you know, that tells us - are there children of God that do fall? He says, 'my little children, I've written to you that you do not sin. But if you sin.

' Notice he didn't say, 'when you sin'? Is there a difference? 'If you fall' means that you don't have to. If you said, 'when you fall' that means that you're planning on it. So what should our attitude be? When we sin? Are you waking up every day saying 'when I sin'? Or are you waking up every day saying 'if I sin'? There's a difference. If you go into it and just plan on it, then you're never going to get victory. You see what I'm saying? Does this make sense? Alright well, enough about that.

Someone look up for me Joshua 24:15. Who has that? We've got a verse right here? Microphone, thank you barry. And the other verse - I'll give you two together - Philippians 2:12-14 - right over here. Alright, now we're going to talk about the power of choice. Don't underestimate that we can choose to be different.

That you are not destined to just be who you are. That God gave you a brain and the ability and a will to choose to be different. Now some of my Christian friends in other churches believe 'once saved, always saved' and there's this idea of 'the elect' - that God has predetermined that some people he's going to save and makes them to be saved. They are created for life and others are created for destruction. And doesn't the potter have the right to say over his vessels, 'I'm going to make this a vessel of honor.

I'm going to make this a vessel of dishonor. I'm going to make this vessel and put it in my mansion and fill it with flowers and I'm going to put this one in the lake of fire.' And 'you have been created from the beginning' - I'm being sarcastic here, but some churches say, 'you've been created from the beginning - God has predestined whether you are going to be saved or lost' - as though you have no choice in the matter. But the Bible does not teach that. The Bible teaches that people are saved and lost and the reason that the wicked are punished is because they had an opportunity to choose to be different. Why would you make a creature - make that creature where it has no choice to be evil - you make it, it turns out evil because you made it and predetermined it was going to be evil and then you're going to torture it forever in hell because it was evil.

The other thing about this idea that you don't have a choice - it means that God created you and you have no choice - he becomes an accomplice in your sins - you see that? Because you're doing what he made you to do. You have no choice. You're just going to sin because he made you - then he kind of becomes responsible for that. But he made you free. A free moral agent and you can choose.

Here's some verses that illustrate that point: Deuteronomy 30, verses 19 and 20 - Moses is speaking, this is his swan song - his last sermon. "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey his voice, and that you may cling to him, for he is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." Choose life. So do we have a choice? If we don't then why did he say that? Alright, read for us Joshua - is that you mike? Read for us Joshua 24:15. Joshua 24:15, "and if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the Gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the Gods of the amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

" It's pretty clear. I mean, both Moses and Joshua, then again at the end of his life, appealing to the people of God, 'choose - you can choose what God you want to serve.' And you - most of us make little choices every day about which God we're going to serve. Let me give you another one - Philippians - who has that - jolyne? Philippians 2:12? "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;" yeah, read the next verse too. "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing.

" I just want you to especially notice 'for it is God who works in you' - but he's appealing to them 'work out your own salvation'. Now, doesn't that sound like salvation by works? That's a dirty word but, you know, in reality there is a work. You are not saved by your works but there is a work involved. Listen to some of the terms that are used when it comes to salvation in the new testament. We wrestle, we strive, we war, we run, we fight, we endure, we plead.

Are those terms that seem to denote some kind of involvement or investment that there's something you need to do? Sure there is. There is effort involved. There's a struggle involved in being a Christian. But where is that struggle? Let me read something to you from the classic book 'steps to Christ' and this is page 47. This is great.

I've read it many times and I always appreciate it. "Many are inquiring 'how am I to make the surrender of myself to God?' You desire to give yourself to him but you're weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt and controlled by habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand.' - You ever feel that way? Good new year's resolution - I'm going to do this and this and this differently and then you run into the same temptations and weakness and it doesn't last very long. 'Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections.

The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you. But you need not despair. What you need to do is to understand the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man. The power of decision or of choice.

Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men. It is theirs to exercise. You can't change your heart. You can't, of yourself, give to God it's affections, but you can choose to serve him.

You can give him your will. He will then work in you to will and to do according to his good pleasure. Thus, your whole nature will be brought under the control of him, the Spirit of Christ. Your affections will be centered upon him, your thoughts will be in harmony with him.' You know, the - just to see if I could emphasize this a little bit - once again, that's 'steps to Christ' page 47. You may want to read it.

I've prayed before and said, 'lord, I know I need to stop sinning' - or some sin in particular - 'but I don't want to.' I didn't quit smoking because I was coughing and had lung cancer, I enjoyed smoking. I was still young when I quit and so I hadn't felt all the effects of it, but I knew God wanted me to. And so I said, 'lord, I don't want to quit, but I'm willing for you to make me willing because I know you want me to. So you're going to have to change me, lord, but I'm willing to ask you to change me. I'm willing for you to do whatever it takes to help me have whatever I'm missing to want to do your will.

' Because every time I fell I said, 'lord, how come some people make it and I'm not making it? How come some people have the victory and I don't? What's the difference, lord? I'm willing for you to do for me and in me whatever you need to do to provide that difference. I want to do your will. So help me know what it is.' And then God begins to reveal things. It might be practical things you can do to participate with him. And so, you know, gradually when - I was talking with nathan about this very subject last night and I said - you know, sometimes kids, when they make a decision, they want to serve God and then they find out you fall and you make the same mistake and you fall into the same temptation - whether it's a video game or whatever it is, and they say, 'oh, I prayed and asked God to help me with this so many times and I fall again.

Is said, 'well, don't get discouraged. You know how many times I quit smoking before I quit?' But I'm glad I didn't quit quitting. And so you've got to sometimes keep at it. And it may take years. Now, I'm not giving you - I don't want to give you an excuse, but don't quit quitting.

Don't quit wrestling and striving and fighting and praying for the victory. It might be your temper, it might be a gossiping tongue, it could be a broad spectrum of things. Whatever it is, just say, 'lord' - how many of you feel like sometimes in the Christian life it's two steps forward and one step back? Are you making progress though? And, you know, I've seen it work both ways when it comes to change. I have seen people that experience a dramatic total conversion where everything changed all at once. It wasn't that way with me and others, but I have met people who, like the apostle Paul, just man, they have one of these experiences where they were just blinded on the road to damascus with the glory of God and they go from a person who curses and they beat their wife and they drink and they smoke and they curse and they lie and just all this stuff and they have a Jesus experience and they weep and they pull over on the side of the road and they're a different person.

And all of a sudden they say, 'God just took it away. I stopped cursing. I stopped beating my wife. I stopped stealing. I stopped drinking.

The Holy Spirit filled me.' And just - poof! - They're different. It doesn't mean they don't ever sin again but - just all of it at once. And then you and i, we all know people - have all those same problems and they said, 'you know, the Holy Spirit started working on me and God just gave me the victory over my temper and, you know, I don't lose my temper anymore. But I'm working on the drinking. And then God helped me,' - you know, then you talk to them - they say, 'you know, God - praise the Lord - Pastor Doug pray for me.

God's given me the victory over my temper and I haven't had a drink in a month.' Well, you know, I don't talk to that person and say, 'you know, you need to - we need to talk to you about the pork chops' - when they tell me that they've quit drinking. I say, 'well, praise the Lord. I'm happy for the progress.' You know, and then they come to me one day and they say, 'you know, and now I've quit smoking.' And, you know, there are varying degrees. If someone comes to me and they say, 'you know, I'm drinking and beating my wife.' I don't worry about the cigarettes because usually when you're drunk you just can't resist any temptation. So you've got to take care of that first.

And so, there are degrees and I remember when I was pastoring a small church, Karen and I went back to waterfall, New Mexico and met with the navajos there. When they join the church, many of them struggle with alcohol and they - it wasn't pork chops, they used to eat blood sausage. And I remember some of our friends - we had a navajo church and it was just wonderful - we'd get together and we'd have a potluck and some of the saints would come from another congregation a few miles away and they said, 'Pastor Doug, we need to talk to you.' And they'd pull us aside and they'd say, 'I notice that these folks have got cheese in their potluck.' And I'd say, 'brother or sister, they just gave up beating their wife, drinking and blood sausage.' I said, 'give them a break.' I said, 'they may go vegan someday but be patient.' So you see there's varying degrees, you know what I'm saying? And so here's my question: are you growing? Can you look back and see that there's sanctification happening? Is there progress? Or have you stalled somewhere? Sometimes, you know, there's growth and God is making constant changes and he reveals new things and you walk in the light he reveals more light, you walk in the light he gives you power and you make new victories, but if you just get where all of a sudden it gets stagnant - you don't have a problem when you've got a baby and the first few times they try to eat and the food doesn't go in the mouth, it goes in the nose and it goes in the ears and it goes on the floor and across the wall and, I mean, you say, 'oh, you know, they're learning.' But if after they're five and they're still not getting it in the mouth, you go see the doctor, don't you. You don't have a problem when they're first learning to walk, if they take a few steps and they tumble and they just, you know, they're crawling half the time, but when they get, you know, five and six and they can't take three or four steps without falling down, you go see the doctor. And so, are you still - Peter talks about - he said, 'you know, I wrote to you, I wanted to talk to you about the basics of Christianity but instead of giving you meat I've got to give you milk because you're still eating baby food.

' Are you growing in sanctification? Are you gaining victory or are you still doing the same things you were doing 20 years ago? And so there ought to be growth. I don't want to discourage you and I'm speaking to myself too. You shouldn't be discouraged if you see progress and you're becoming more like Christ and you can look back over the panorama of your life and you can say, 'well, praise the Lord, I can see consistent growth and sanctification.' It would be wonderful if the Holy Spirit were to just surround you like Paul and all of it happens in one day, but for most of us, the Bible says, 'learn to do good. Cease to do evil.' You know what that means? Learn is a process of learning. You've got to learn to do good.

When you spend your whole life doing wrong and you are converted, you've got to start learning how to do right. And so - but are you growing? Alright, we've got to keep moving along here because we've got a lot left. Alright, we're talking about the power to choose. Confidence and doubt - Matthew - someone look up for me Matthew 26:69 - Matthew 26:69 - who has that? Did we give that to someone? Right over here, okay? We'll get to you in just a second. I'm going to read Matthew 26, verse 31, "then Jesus said to them, 'all of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.

' But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.' Peter answered and said to him, 'even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.' Jesus said to him, 'assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.' Peter said to him, 'even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.'" Now, was he sincere? Probably was at the moment. But did he know his own heart? One of the keys to a victorious life, do not trust yourself. We are weak and in a few minutes of listening to the devil we can lose a whole lifetime of miracles and experience. And Peter did not prepare for that big trial that was coming. Jesus said, 'pray' - but he slept when he should have been praying - 'lest you enter into temptation.

' Alright, so what happened? Let's look at - go ahead, read for us Matthew 26 and jump to verse 69. Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, 'you also were with Jesus of Galilee.' But he denied it before them all, saying, 'I do not know what you are saying.'" Alright, and we don't need to read the whole sordid tale. You know that Peter denied Jesus not once but three times and the third time he punctuated it with cursing. So those words that he was supposed to be sanctified from were still there on the top shelf when he needed them and it just kind of reminds us Peter is like us.

But what happened that night? After he denied Jesus the third time, Jesus looked at him and it broke his heart. He went out and he wept bitterly and, during the resurrection he was a converted man. Pentecost - Peter is now the spokesman - he's the preacher. But didn't Jesus say to Peter, 'Peter' - three times after Jesus appeared to him, before he ascended into heaven, 'do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?' And he was letting Peter know, 'don't trust yourself' - it's going to be based on loving him. So what's one of the keys to real change? Do people change when they fall in love? You know, it's interesting watching your teenage boys - they just couldn't care less about hygiene when they're eight and ten years old and 'brush your teeth! Brush your teeth!' 'Oh, (grumbles)' you know, and you've got to write it on the wall and 'change your shirt! When was the last time you took a shower?' And something starts happening around 13, 14 - they start doing it on their own initiative and you find out that they're sitting at a desk next to a pretty girl.

All of a sudden they're very preoccupied with their appearance when they couldn't have cared less when they were eight years old. Because they're making changes because they're suddenly interested in somebody and love - when you love somebody - it has a transforming influence. Peter was changed, but did he still make mistakes even after pentecost? Let me read this to you. This was written by Paul. This is Paul talking about Peter.

Is this gossip? I don't know. Galatians 2, verse 11 - Paul is writing here, "now when Peter had come to antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James," - that's the jews from Jerusalem - "he would eat with the gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision." He thought, 'oh, what would the jews think. Hey, I'd better not eat with you guys anymore because I don't want to look bad.' And what does Paul say about that? "And the rest of the jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy." Loose translation: Paul was saying Peter was a hypocrite and barnabas was a hypocrite. He got carried away with hypocrisy. They were preoccupied with what everyone thought of them and there was nothing wrong with eating with gentiles but they thought, 'well, you know, the old culture of the jews - what will they think of me?' And you know what that's called? Discrimination.

Peter and barnabas slipped into 'well, we don't want to - we don't want them to know that we're eating with the gentiles.' Was that wrong for Peter? Paul's telling the truth. What Peter did was wrong. Peter was compromising. Do you think Peter repented of that? I think he did. When Paul confronted him - by the way, Peter, after Paul says this, calls Paul his beloved brother - you can read in the second letter of Peter - and Peter says that what Paul wrote was Scripture.

Isn't that interesting? That'd be tough for one apostle to say the other apostle wrote Scripture when he was calling him a hypocrite. So Peter knew, 'I was wrong.' So even after pentecost did they still make mistakes? But, you know, that kind of hypocrisy was not as bad as denying Christ. So as you grow in Christ, the changes that are made, they ought to be in keeping with what Christian growth looks like. There ought to be a progress there that's on the scale. Alright, let me look here.

John 20, verse 24 - I'm kind of backtracking a little bit - John , verse 24, "now thomas, called the twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, 'we have seen the lord.' So he said to them, 'unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." - 'You just forget it. You guys are all crazy. You're seeing things. I'm not going to believe it - unless I see it with my eye - I'm from Missouri, unless I see it with my own eyes I'm not going to believe.

' Well, we're saved by what? The just are saved by faith, right? How was thomas' faith? After three and a half years of following Jesus and after Jesus saying, 'I'm going to die and rise again.' Before he died and rose he told them it was going to happen and, finally, when it does happen, what does thomas say? 'I've go to see it.' And Jesus finally appears to thomas and says, 'you believe because you've seen. Blessed are those who believe without seeing.' Alright, power to choose. So - I talked about that already - constant - let me see - 'faith to act' - that's the part I want. John 5, verses 5 and 6. And it says, "now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.

When Jesus saw him lying there," - this is at the pool of bethesda - "and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, he said to him, 'do you want to be made well?'" He said, 'oh, lord, I'd like to be made well but whenever I come to the pool' - he says - 'someone else gets in before me and I can't.' And Jesus said, 'get up and walk.' Now he could have argued and said, 'well, I can't because I've been crippled thirty-eight years, but he didn't argue. When Christ gives you a command, built into the command that Jesus gives you is the power to obey. That's such an important principle. God will never ask you to do something that you cannot do with his power. Even though you may not be able to - I remember, you know, when we were teaching our kids to water ski or snow ski or so many things and they were slipping and falling down and would say, 'oh, I can't' and I'd say, 'yes you can.

Let's try it again.' 'I can't. I keep falling.' I said, 'yes you can. Hang on to my leg.' Pretty soon they're skating or they're skiing or whatever it is and then they go, 'I guess I can.' Have you ever had your kids say they just don't want to try something because they failed a couple times? And you knew they could do it, they just got discouraged because they failed. 'I don't really want to anyway.' Yeah they did, but they were afraid to fail. And some of us have stopped trying to change because we failed so many times.

Don't get discouraged. God will never ask you to do something he will not give you the power to do. You may not succeed the first time, but don't give up. And whatever it is, you can learn to do it with God's help. All things are possible with Christ, amen? And then there's a section I jumped over but I just want to return to it.

Part of revival means a conviction to return home - like that prodigal son - and that, of course is Luke 15:17 - that famous parable - you come to your senses and you say, 'what in the world am I doing? I will arise and go to - I ended up in the pigpen. I will arise and go to my Father's house.' Nothing could be worse for a jew than to end up in a pigpen. It's kind of like a person who's in a boat out in the sea and they say, 'I'm seasick. This boat is cramped and small and it smells and I'm getting out of here' - and they jump in the water. Well, they didn't realize it's a storm and they're swimming away from the boat and they realize they're getting weak.

The waves are high, the wind is strong, the water's cold and suddenly they say, 'what am I going to do? I'm going to drown out here. That was the dumbest thing I've ever done. I've got to get back to the boat.' In spite of all the problems in the boat, it's a lot better to live in the boat than to be out here in the storm. And so, sometimes we've got to come to our senses when we're living in sin and realize this is - you'll die if you do not come to Jesus - if you don't change and get the victory through his power. You'll never walk, you'll just die.

And that's why Moses said, 'I've set before you two choices: life and death, blessing and cursing - choose life.' And that's what this lesson is really about. Hey friends, don't forget our free offer. It's 'can a saved man choose to be lost?' And we'll send it to you, just ask. It's offer #112 when you call the number and the number again is 866-788-3966 - that's -study-more. Thank you for studying with us today and, lord willing, we'll do it again next week.

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