One Resolution: One Secret!

Finally, this series ends today.  Whew!  And you may be a bit, call it “relieved” that it’s ending.  Let’s do a quick review. 

  • Most Resolutions are expressions of the human heart to find Contentment.
  • And we can make One Resolution that will last for the rest of our lives and give us Contentment:  Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel.  Not the gospel of our best efforts, but The Gospel Of God’s Best Efforts For Us. 
  • It’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Do His Best Efforts For Us By Living In And Through Us With The Power Of The Resurrection!

And He Lives In Us And Through Us With The Power Of The Resurrection When We Make 6 Conscious Choices and make them a daily and all day long habit.  The first 5 are:

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart
  2. Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God 
  3. Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why! 
  4. Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You.
  5. Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You In This Life And The Life To Come!

June 19, 1952 marked the beginning of a legend in television.  On this date Garry Moore hosted the first episode of what would be the hit show “I’ve Got A Secret.”  Contestants would appear on the show that had A Secret.  It might be something unique or unusual.  It might be some embarrassment or it might be something funny.  The four panelists would ask questions and try to “guess” their Secret.  Originally the contestant would receive $20 for each panelist who could not guess their secret and also a carton of Winston cigarettes, I guess because they were the sponsor for the show.  One unusual guest they had was Samuel Seymour who appeared on the show on February 9, 1956 at the age of 96, just two months before his death.  His secret was that as a young child, he was an eye witness to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Maybe it’s just me, but I could imagine the apostle Paul appearing on that show because he had a good secret that the world needed to know.  I can hear Garry telling the panelist, “Paul has a secret that will change every person’s future by changing how they live now.”  The panelists quiz Paul, “Is it some type of vaccine?”  “Yes, but not in the way most people think about vaccination.”  “Is it something you invented or made?” “Oh, absolutely not!” 

“Oh, is it something that has always been around?”  “Most definitely!”  “So it’s something you found.”  “Well yes, but really it found me!”  “Did you find the fountain of youth?”  (buzzer sound)  “No, I’m afraid you’re wrong.”

Do you think that Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson would want to know Paul’s Secret?  Would you like to know Paul’s Secret?  Is there really something that will change our future by changing how we live now?  Paul’s One Secret will.  What is Paul’s secret?  Here it is in Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Now we come to the last and 6TH Conscious Choice for finding that deep, abiding Contentment and the way we can maintain this one resolution of living a life worthy of the Gospel.  And This Is The One Thing You Need To Remember Today:  Filter Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus. 

Live every moment Through Christ.  Accept every situation Through Christ.  Celebrate every joy Through Christ.  Endure every heartache Through Christ.  Face every battle Through Christ.  Confront every struggle Through Christ!  What does this mean, Through Christ?

I found some practical insights in the word Paul chose in this word “through”.  The Greek word is a simple word, “en”.  It means in, with, by, or through.  It’s a preposition.  Now for those of us who have been out of school for a long time, let’s go back to basic English and the parts of speech.  Miss Stutts, Brenda Pettus and Glenda Weir would be so proud of me right now for even remembering this stuff. 

A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to another word or phrase in a sentence.  Purists of proper grammar often insist that it is unacceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.  Sounds exciting, huh?  But there is more to both the Greek and to the meaning of preposition.

In the rules of grammar, A Preposition Indicates There’s A Relationship That Exists Between The Noun Or Pronoun And The Phrase.  There is relationship happening within the sentence.  Now, are you getting a hint to where I’m going?  In the Greek language this simple preposition has an even deeper meaning.  Not only does it mean that a relationship exists, but It’s An Established Relationship That Carries With It The Image Of A Relationship Of Rest—Not Action—But Rest.

Contentment Is Only Found In A Relationship Of Resting In Christ.  Are you tired of carrying heavy burdens of Grief, Fear, Guilt, Remorse, Bitterness, Resentment, Regrets, Worry, Anxiety To Name A Few? How’s that working out for you, carrying that heavy load day in and day out?  Is hauling that heavy weight around all day really working for you?  Are you ready to admit that it’s not working for you?  Then drop that load and take a rest in Jesus. 

Now my comments about prepositions—especially that word Through.  Cars have air filters, gas filters and oil filters.  The water in your home is filtered and you can add an additional filter for your water.  What is the purpose of filters and why are they so important?  Whether it’s oil, gas, air or water, it takes out the trash and impurities from them.  But the only way they work is for everything to pass through that Filter.  Then the Filter can take out all that junk before it does serious damage.

This is the same principle that Paul is talking about.  To find contentment, to live that life that is Worthy Of The Gospel, Filter Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus

I think this is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “I will give you rest.”  In order to rest we must stop and let go.  How many times have you said, “I didn’t sleep well last night”?  It may have been because you were restless and you were restless because you didn’t let go.  Jesus invites you to release and let go of all that junk you are carrying around. 

It did not matter to Paul what his circumstances were—hungry or full, hot or cold, well dressed or dressed in thrift store clothes, in good times and in bad times—Paul filtered his life through the relationship he had in Jesus.  Do you do the same?  Or do you choose to hold on tightly to that fear, that pain, that dread?  Why do we choose to carry that heavy load that is absolutely unnecessary?

We carry unnecessary loads because we have Not Learned that We Can Do Anything Through Christ Who Strengthens Us.  Anxiety, fretting, worrying and all that junk comes because we are afraid to trust the relationship Jesus is offering us.  But you can trust the Relationship because of these 3 reasons:

1.  Whatever It Is That You Can’t Handle, Jesus Can!

He calmed the stormed, healed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused people unable to walk to dance, sent a legion of demons scurrying like cockroaches off a bluff, transformed a corrupt tax collector into a generous servant.

He fed thousands of people with a kid’s lunch sack, stood his ground with the religious bullies of his day, gave hope to a dying criminal, raised Lazarus from the grave, and much more.  Quite an impressive resume’ wouldn’t you say?  Now what is it in you or happening to you that Jesus can’t handle?  You can trust Jesus because He can handle everything in your life.

2.  Whatever It Is That Troubles You, Jesus Cares!

He took care of the taxes for Peter and the others, He wept with Martha and Mary at the grave of Lazarus, He comforted that adulterous woman shamed in public with forgiveness, He wept over Jerusalem just days before His crucifixion,

He made a hero out of a woman who took the risk of breaking all the rules just so she could wash his feet with her tears and anoint them with extravagant perfume, He cared about little children—now what makes you think he doesn’t care about what troubles you? 

You may not understand why some things happen to you, but you can count on this: Jesus Cares About You.  And in the middle of all that pain and unanswered questions, Somehow He Gives Us Comfort And His Comfort Gives Us Rest.

3.  Whatever It Is That’s Too Heavy For You To Carry, Jesus Will!

I know Jesus will carry your load—because He already has.  He carried the cross that was meant for you.  Do I need to say anything else?  The nails that had been forged just for you, Jesus stepped in and said, “I’ll take those nails.” 

And the guilt, pain and condemnation of every sinner?  He Carried That, Too.  Now, tell me, what is the weight that is crushing you that you continue to lay beneath?  What is it that you are afraid to tell Jesus about?  Do you honestly believe He doesn’t know about it?  He handled that burden then on the Cross, and He can still handle it now with Love, Grace, and Mercy.

Why filter everything through Jesus?  Because He gives us the strength—

  • To Overcome Temptations—
  • To Go Through Life’s Difficult Times—
  • Strength To Do What We Have To Do—
  • Strength To Be The Body Of Christ To Do The Things He Wants Us To Do In His Name—Teaching, Reaching, Sharing Are All Done Through His Strength.

I do not want to meddle right now; I want to get personal with you.  In any audience it’s very highly probable that there is some need, some pain, some sorrow, or some shame that is weighing heavy in a heart.  Or maybe you are carrying the heaviest burden of all:  the emptiness that will not go away.  Yours may be the heart that is longing for deep and abiding contentment but you’re restless; you’re hurting; you’re burdened.  The Secret is learning to rest—to rest in Jesus by Filtering Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus.

Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:

Let go of that whatever it is that you are grasping onto tightly—fear, anger, grief, shame, whatever—and filter it through Jesus.  And the One Secret will not be a secret any longer to you.

There’s a song by David Crowder that hit me hard. The title is Come As You Are. He wrote it based on an old hymn, Come, Ye Disconsolate. Disconsolate is an old word we don’t use anymore. It means to be without comfort, unhappy. You can find comfort, and you can be better than happy–you can be joyful. But it only happens as you filter your life and experiences through Jesus:

6 Conscious Choices and make them a habit.

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart
  2. Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God 
  3. Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why! 
  4. Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You.
  5. Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You!
  6. Filter Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus

One Resolution: One Hope!

Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You!

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Hope is the sustainer of life.  It’s the motivator for action.  It’s the promise of tomorrow.  Life without hope is like a car without an engine, a jet without wings, a train without tracks.  You just aren’t going to be able to get anywhere.

We are in the 5th week of looking at One Resolution that will give our hearts the one thing it longs for most of all:  Contentment.  The One Resolution that provide deep and abiding Contentment is to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel!  Not the “Gospel of Our Best Efforts” but the Gospel Of God’s Best Effort For Us.  It’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection!

This Life Of Contentment grows out of 6 Conscious Choices that we make over and over.  Review time for the first four:

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart—Your loyalty and allegiance is to Jesus and His Work in our world.
  2. Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God—We focus on each other and those who are not here yet. 
  3. Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why!  To reveal God’s love in ways that meets the deepest needs of others.
  4. Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You—and the only way this happens is to live with Great Resolve, remembering that our Goal in life is to be just like Jesus in our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions.

In order to reach this Life Of Contentment we need more than a best guess estimate.  Sometimes when we have a problem with our car or an appliance we want to know how much it is going to cost us.  Without a thorough diagnostic, the best they can do is to give us a best guess estimate.  But in this life in grace, we need more than a best guess estimate.  Let’s pick up where we left off last week at Philippians 3:15-16 (The Message)

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

Many people are drowning today—drowning in grief, drowning in fear, drowning in despair—all because they don’t have the One Hope.  Oh, they had hope, but not the One Hope.  They had hope in the stock market, hope in a political party, hope in that relationship they thought would never end, or hope in their own ability.  And now they have cast their lot with some of the most miserable people in the world—those who have lost hope, and keep looking in the wrong places, or worse—have given up ever finding hope. 

When human hope fails, there is another kind of hope—the One Hope—that does more than sustain us in the wilderness times of our life.  This One Hope enables us to dream again and live again and it’s the one thing you need to remember—Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You! 

How confident are you of God’s grace?  Do you trust God enough to live in confidence that the grace Jesus showed people like Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, that thief on the other cross, Peter, and an overly ambitious Pharisee named Saul is the same identical grace He extends to you?  Or do you believe that it’s another, less powerful grace that He offers you?

Do you believe that the mercy Jesus lavished on lepers, the blind, the possessed, the woman caught in the act of adultery, is the same mercy He lavishes on you?  Or do you think that He shows some other lesser form of mercy on you?  Hope, the One Hope is built on the truth that in Christ God has only One Love that is full of grace and mercy for everyone.  This grace and mercy that God freely lavishes on everyone has a reason and a purpose:  that we become what we were created to be:  an exact reflection of our Creator!  And because we are not yet that complete image of our Creator, that Grace And Mercy Has A Resurrection With Your Name On It!

In 1993 a song written by Jenny Yates & Garth Brooks made its début, and in 1994 made it to #3 on the Country Western charts.  The song was “Standing Outside The Fire”.  The chorus of this song says so much more than I ever could.  It goes like this:  Standing outside the fire, Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.  This is what life is like without the One Hope—just merely survived.  Like the lyrics from this song, There’s this love that is burning deep in my soul constantly yearning to get out of control wanting to fly higher and higher I can’t abide standing outside the fire.” 

The life God offers us is not found standing outside the fire, outside of the risks.  Sure, there will be times when we get burned by the risks, the fire of stepping outside our comfort zones.  But it’s in the fire of God’s Holy Spirit that we discover what it really means to be fully alive in Jesus and Jesus fully alive in us!  Jesus took the risk, not just in becoming human, but in going to the Cross. 

Yes, he got burned by His creation, but it didn’t stop Him.  Yes, he got burned by the pain of the Cross.  But even that Cross didn’t stop Him.  He went through the fire because He knew, He knew that the Resurrection was in that fire and the only way to reach it was through the trials and sufferings.  And why would He do that?  Because Of His Unconditional Love For Us.  He knew that if He didn’t experience Resurrection we never would.  We have the One Hope that will never let us down because There Is A Resurrection With Our Name On It!  Because of His Resurrection, we can have a Resurrection In This Life and The Next Life.

1.  He Gives Us Resurrection Over Sin

How do you suppose Peter felt when confronted with the truth that not once, not twice, but 3 times he denied Jesus?  Jesus told him he would, but Peter was so confident.  But he did the unthinkable—more than deny Jesus, he abandoned the One who called him “The Rock!”  Then those crazy women came with a tale of Resurrection—and it wasn’t good news to Peter—because Peter would have come face to face with the One he denied. 

Others May Have Been Finished With Peter, Peter May Be Been Finished With Peter, But Jesus Wasn’t Finished With Him. That’s why the angel said in Mark 16:7—Tell His disciples and Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see Him there, exactly as He said.”  The Resurrection came for Peter and 50 days later, Peter helped lead thousands to Jesus.  What The Resurrection did for Peter, it does for us.  We may have given up on ourselves and others may have given up on us, but not Jesus—because He has a Resurrection right now with your name in it!

2.  He Gives Us Resurrection When We Doubt

The epitome of doubt isn’t in the story of Thomas—it’s in the story of a man named Cleopas and his unnamed friend in Luke 24.  Cleopas and his friend are going back home.  There was nothing left for them to do.  By their own admission, they “Had Hoped” Jesus was the Messiah—Had Hoped but now they doubted.  They knew Jesus had been crucified—and even heard the rumor of the Resurrection.  But all they knew for certain was that the tomb was empty—beyond that was only speculation.

They Had Hoped, but now it seems like wishful thinking.  But Jesus takes the time to come to those who were struggling with doubt.  He comes to those who “Had Hoped” but now wondered and doubted.  Why come to Cleopas and his friend?  Because Jesus had A Resurrection and they needed A Resurrection.

3.  He Will Give Us A Resurrection When We Die

He gives us a Resurrection when we sin and when we doubt because He wants us to experience Resurrection when we die!  We do not have to live in fear of death because the only One who conquered death gives us the assurance that we will overcome death.  John wrote in 1 John 5:13—My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. 

We do not have to face our death with feelings of uncertainty, wondering if we will make it.  You do not have to be afraid to die, you don’t have to be afraid to LIVE!  Because of The Resurrection and God’s unconditional love there is a Resurrection with your name and my name on it.  You can count on God! 

Why can you count on God?  Philippians 1:6—There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. 

God started this great work of grace to make you and I what we were created to be:  to be the exact image of Him, to be just like Him in every detail.  But we are not there yet—we are an unfinished project.  But God has no unfinished projects.  One day we will be God’s finished work, and He will step back, look at us and say, “You look just like me!”

God promises a Resurrection then because He gives us Resurrection now!  And because He gives us a Resurrection now, we can count on the Resurrection then.  Your One Hope is this:  There Is A Resurrection For Us With Your Name On It!  When we sin, when we doubt, and when we die, Jesus shares His Resurrection because, well because He’s The Resurrection!

Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, Here’s Your Next Step:

Bring whatever you “had hoped” to Jesus for YOUR Resurrection today.

One Resolution: One Goal!

We are in the 4th week of looking at One Resolution that will give our hearts the one thing it longs for most of all:  Contentment.  This One Resolution is to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel!  Not the “Gospel of Our Best Efforts” but the Gospel of Jesus—God’s best effort for us.  Because it’s all about God’s Grace, it’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection! 

Contentment comes by making 6 Conscious Choices every day.  Here’s the first 3:

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart—That’s the One Spirit.  Your loyalty and allegiance is to Jesus and His Work in our world.
  2. Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God—That’s the One Mind.  We focus on each other and those who are not here yet. 
  3. Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why!  Jesus knew His Why And Ours Is The Same: To reveal God’s love in ways that meets the deepest needs of others.

Now we come to the 4th Conscious Choice.  Turn to Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Living a life Worthy Of The Gospel is not an accomplishment in our lives where we look back and say:  “There!  I’ve done it!  Got the certificate and T-Shirt to prove it.”  Here’s your 1 Thing To Remember, and your 4th Conscious Choice:  Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You. This is to be your One Goal in life.  This Life Of Contentment That Is Worthy Of The Gospel Is A Never-Ending Process.  As with any process, there must be a clearly defined goal. 

Without a clearly defined goal, any process is meaningless and ultimately leaves us frustrated and drained.  Without the right goal in life we become another “Wrong Way Riegels.”  Roy Riegels played football for the University of California Golden Bears.  On Jan. 1, 1929 in the Rose Bowl against Georgia Tech, Wrong Way Riegels picked up a fumble and ran nearly 70 yards—in the wrong direction.  His quarterback had to tackle him before he reached the wrong end zone.  The next play, California attempted to punt the ball out but it was blocked resulting in a safety for Georgia Tech who won the game by one point.

But Wrong Way Riegels wasn’t the only football player to do that.  Jim Marshall was playing for the Minn. Vikings and on Oct. 25, 1964 against the San Francisco 49ers, Jim picked up a fumble and started running toward the end zone.  But there was a problem—it was the wrong end zone.  Once there he threw the ball up in the air and it resulted in 2 points for the 49ers.  Thinking he was going to the right goal line, thinking he was right—Jim became a member of an elite club:  the Wrong Way Riegels Club.

In football this is a very small club, but in real life—membership in the Wrong Way Roy Riegels Club is enormous.  Every day people drag themselves out of bed and push themselves to get that job, that corner office, that higher pay check, that faster car, that bigger house, those latest fashions—all because they believe that is what life is all about. 

Their goal in life is to have more stuff, money and power.  Some people look for a shortcut—they search for the winning lottery numbers, they cut corners, sell their integrity—all in hopes of that big payoff!  But that kind of payoff rarely comes—and those who do find it—find out that it wasn’t all that fulfilling after all.

And it’s not just those who buy into a secular view point that become members of the Wrong Way Roy Riegels Club.  Even among those who have taken their place in the church, the Body of Christ, can join the Wrong Way Roy Riegels Club

To see if your name is listed as a club member, answer this question:  What Should Be The One Goal In Your Life?  Think about it for a moment before you answer. Do you think that the correct answer is:  To Get To Heaven?  If this is your answer, well, how can I politely say this:  Wrong!  Now, before you call the PPR Committee and tell them to get rid of me, stay with me just a moment.

Heaven is The Destination we should be looking forward to, but It Is Not The Goal.  The spiritual apathy and lethargy that is draining the life out of the 21st century church is that God’s people have innocently confused the difference between our One Goal and our Final Destination.  We need to have a clearly defined goal because without The Goal, we may well miss The Final Destination.

The Goal Is To Make Our Life To Look Like, Think Like, Speak Like And Act Like Jesus.  And the only way this happens is when we completely surrender every moment of our life and every fiber of our being so that in our everyday life Jesus is completely living in us and more importantly—living through us.  Oh, is that all?  Been there, done that! 

Oh, really.  Allow me to get personal:  this past week, did you hold a grudge?  Did you refuse to forgive someone?  Did a word roll off your lips that should not have been said?  Did you forget to begin and end every day with prayer?  Did you fail to do anything that Jesus wanted you to do?  I’ll be nice and not call it judging, but did you draw a conclusion about someone based on the way there were dressed or how they acted, or by their skin color?  Did you lose your temper this week?  Did you put your feelings first?  Do I need to go on with more examples?  I know I’m guilty of one or more of these things.

So what does it mean to be fully alive in Jesus and Jesus fully alive in you?  It means that we live every moment, do every task, and speak every word To Honor Jesus.  It means we go and do with His power that lives inside us. It means we face every disappointment and heartache with that confident assurance that Jesus is right here in our pain helping us to cope and heal.  And it means that we do not fret or worry about tomorrow or the impeachment trial in Washington D.C. because God is taking care of us today. 

We Choose To Live In This Moment With Him In Us And Us In Him. We Grow Deeper In Him And He Grows Deeper In Us.  We become hungrier for God.  An hour or 2 here or there is not enough.  We want more, much more.   

OK, so we privately and shamefully admit that we missed the mark last week.  What do we do now?  You have 3 choices when it comes to living your life and finding contentment.

1.  We Can Retire!

We can conclude that we have done just enough to make it to the final destination of heaven and turn in our retirement papers.  We can park it on our favorite pew and look back and realize that while we could have done more, we did more than most.  We can say, “Well, I’ve done my part, it’s time for them young folks to take over.”  Living with this attitude distorts the real image of God.  We see God as the Big Accountant In The Sky who keeps up with deposits and withdrawals, but not the living presence in our lives.  But God’s isn’t the accountant.  So we have another choice:

2.  We Can Resign!

We can look at the shape of our culture and believe we don’t have what it takes to change it. Or we can look back and see how miserably we have failed Him.  So we write out our Letter of Resignation, drop out and surrender to the spirit of failure.  It’s too tough and difficult.  You can feel like you just don’t have the stuff it takes to live this life worthy of the Gospel, so you quit.  And that is the problem:  you are trying to do all this stuff yourself—and by yourself, you will fail. 

When I faced my divorce, I almost did just that.  I typed out my letter of resignation and took out my ordination certificate and tried to figure out what I would do and where I would live.  But the next day God surrounded me with people of mercy, grace and love.  Even then, I still held on to that letter because I still had a choice.  And trust me, it is very easy to resign when we have failed or the task is difficult.  But there’s another choice, a better choice.

3. We Can Resolve!

We can say, “OK, I’m not there yet but that doesn’t mean that it’s over.”  To pursue the One Goal requires, call it resolve or determination or plain old fashion guts—it takes an effort on our part not to give up on ourselves.  Satan Wants Us To Surrender To Defeat, And NOT To God’s Grace And Mercy.  And to this end he will whisper in your ears, shout at you that you just can’t do this—that you are the exception to the rule—that there is not enough grace or mercy with God for you—that you are so small and insignificant that you’re not worth God’s time. 

Listen again to verses 13-14:  “13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

The prize isn’t the streets of gold—it’s not the pearly gates—it’s not the walls of jasper—It’s Jesus!  Now, it just so happens that Jesus is in heaven.  But it’s not the mansions we are to be looking forward to the most—it’s Jesus.  God is offering you more than a street paved with gold—He is offering you a path into His heart.

And because it is into the heart of God—we should never give up.  It’s not always an easy journey to the One Goal, but it is definitely worth the effort.  If You Will Provide The Resolve, The Willingness To Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Jesus Fully Alive In You, God Provides The Grace, The Mercy, The Love And The Power To Get There.

Oh, and Roy?  What happened to him?  He played the 2nd half with determination that kept them in the game even though they lost by 1 point, joined the Army Air Corps in WW II, coached football and started his own successful company.  And Jim Marshall?  In that same game, he caused another fumble that led to the winning touchdown, made the Pro Bowl in 1968 and 1969, and set a record for most recovered fumbles, and was a member of the famous Minnesota Vikings defense known as the Purple People Eaters.  To honor him, they retired his jersey, #70!

Don’t be a member of the Wrong Way Roy Riegels Club.  Strive, Pursue, and Passionately Live for the REAL prize:  Be Fully Alive In Jesus, and Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You.

For this to happen, something must happen in us. And what needs to happen is in the answer to this question, and it’s your Next Step because you cannot follow Jesus and stay where you are: 

What Do I Need To Do To Take Me Into A Deeper And More Intimate Relationship With God?

Maybe your next step is your first step, to stop pretending and get real with God.  Perhaps there is something you have been holding back from Jesus—a bad habit.  Give it over to Him, He’s good at breaking chains.  Maybe you need to start all over—to rededicate your life to Jesus. 

Maybe it’s taking the next step by entering into a covenant relationship with the body of Christ that meets here.  Maybe it’s God calling you to become involved with something we are already doing here.  Maybe it’s God calling you to help start something altogether new.  Maybe it’s surrendering more of your time to Him.  There is a “next step” that each of us can make this morning that will get us closer to the One Goal:  To Be Fully Alive In Jesus And For Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You.

One Resolution: One Purpose!

Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why! The What causes us to think about The How: How will we do it? And The Why is completely ignored.

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 1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor:  Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.  Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.  Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.  Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.  Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. 5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself.  He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.  Not at all.  When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human.  It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges.  Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Philippians 2:1-8 (The Message)

We are in the 3rd week of looking at One Resolution that will give our hearts the one thing it longs for most of all:  Contentment.  This One Resolution is to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel!  Not the “Gospel of Our Best Efforts” but the Gospel of Jesus—God’s Best Effort For Us.  Because it’s all about God’s Grace, it’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection! 

It comes by making 6 Conscious Choices every day.  Here’s the first 2:

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart—That’s the One Spirit.  Your loyalty and allegiance is to Jesus and His Work in our world.
  2. We Need To Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God—That’s the One Mind.  We focus on each other and those who are not here yet.

Now we come to that Third Key Decision in finding the life of real Contentment.  It is so obvious, yet so difficult for so many people.  And Here Is The One Thing You Need To Remember From Today’s Message:  To Live In Contentment, Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Few things make contentment more elusive than not knowing our Unique Life Purpose.  And most folks have no idea how to discover their Unique Life Purpose

And I’m about to say could make it even more frustrating.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why!  The What causes us to think about The How:  How will we do it?  And The Why is completely ignored. 

Purpose, Your Unique Life Purpose comes out of The WhyWhy Did Jesus Die On The Cross For You?  Why Did He Save You?  And the Pivotal Question is this:  Why Are You Here?

There is a “flip-flop” quality to understanding today’s scripture.  It goes counter to our usual way of thinking.  America is the home of Davey Crocket who conquered the wild frontier and Wyatt Earp who tamed the Wild West.  We honor and value independence, self-sufficiency, strength and the glory of a “self-made” man or woman.  

Surrender is what we did NOT do.  With brains and brawn we became a super power in the world.  “American Ingenuity” is the brilliance that made us great.  Then Jesus comes along to say that strength and intelligence does not make the cut when it comes to Contentment.  He dares to tell us that the way to Contentment is through Him.  And then Jesus has the audacity to tell us that to live with and for Him, and for Him to live in and through us we are to live like a servant.

Then this fellow named Paul comes along and tells us to have the same attitude that Jesus had.  Jesus had no business empire; no college degree; never owned a fancy house; never wore designer clothes; never rubbed elbows with those considered the cultural elite.  How counter-cultural can you get?  We cannot fight, or think or power ourselves into the Life Of Contentment

Former Guideposts editor Arthur Gordon told the story of a kindergarten class he visited where the teacher frequently reminded misbehaving children to stop being a WAM.  The kids straightened up as soon as their teacher pointed out they were being a WAM.  He had to know: What was a WAM?  The teacher explained that WAM stands for “What About Me?”  She was training the children to be less self-centered.  She wanted them to think of others’ needs; not just their own.  

She taught them that no one liked a WAM, a self-centered person who only asks, “What About Me?”  Instead, she was teaching the children to be a WAY, or as she explained it, people who ask, “What About You?”  She was teaching those 5 year old kids about Contentment.

You and I are people of the WAY.  We ask “What About You?”  We get lost and lose our Spiritual Foothold when we become a WAM.  But the life of Contentment is for people of the WAY.  So, are you a WAM or a WAY?

Let me show you what happens when we become a WAM instead of a WAY.  In the 1800’s the train ruled the day.  Owners of railway companies prospered and were called barons.  But the automobile came along and the railroad barons forgot they were in the transportation business.  They thought they were in the train business and most of them went broke. 

The Swiss had dominated time keeping.  At one point they controlled over 50% of all revenues made in watches and clocks.  They made the most precise gears and springs in the world.  Their watches and clocks were perfect.  Then something new happened called the Quartz movement. 

Guess who invented it?  A Swiss man.  But because it had no gears or knobs or springs it was overlooked.  They failed to recognize that they were in the business of helping people tell time not making precision gears.  They lost their dominance in the industry now controlling somewhere about 15% of all revenue.  

If Sports Illustrated magazine understood it was in the sports information business, not the publishing business, we would have the Sports Illustrated Channel, not ESPN.   And folks, if we forget that our Why is to bring people to Jesus, we will also become obsolete.  If we lose our Why by getting distracted with tradition, habit, custom, ritual, or routine, we will go the way of the trains, the Swiss watch makers, and Sports Illustrated.  We must remember our Why.  We must at all costs, fulfill our Unique True Purpose—that comes out of knowing Our Why!

Every person has a Unique True Purpose that God has given to them.  Not for just the few and special; but all of us have a purpose from God that is uniquely our own.  Yours will be what God has designed you to be.  But before we can know the purpose that is uniquely ours, we must be clear about our Why in life.  Without understanding and accepting this Why in life, we will never discover our unique purpose.  And Paul lets us know that there is a Why for every one of us. 

He lets us in on God’s Why for our lives.  He states it in verse 5:  Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself.  He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.  

They do not teach this in high school; it’s not offered as a degree in universities; and it’s not taught in graduate school.  Yet this is exactly what God tells us is the key to finding our Unique True Purpose—that comes out of knowing Our Why!  It’s not about money, prestige or power.  It is all about relationship—with God at the very center of our lives.  Our Purpose will be found by discovering The Why.  It’s a 3 step process that Jesus followed as our example.

1.  He Emptied Himself

Jesus, who had it all in Heaven—gave it all up to become one of us!  Unlimited in space, unfettered by time, adored and worshiped by angels and saints—He chose to be one of us.  In becoming one of us He is now limited in space, and bound by time—He allowed people to talk ugly about Him—He allowed Himself to be falsely arrested—and when they couldn’t find a reason to have Him executed, He gave them one. 

Jesus allowed Himself to be publicly humiliated and finally nailed to a Cross as a common criminal to bring back His Image Bearers.  This was His Why and this is to be our Why.  And He could not have done this unless He first emptied Himself into the relationship with Abba!  Papa!  Dad!

And what are you holding on to?  What is it that you have not relinquished into God’s hands?  Is it time?  A habit?  Pride?  Fear?  Is there this one room in your heart that you’ve kept locked up in order to keep God out either because you don’t want to give it up or you’re afraid God won’t love you?  Before we can find that Unique True Purpose for which we are created, we have to let go of everything and to be completely emptied. 

And in that process of emptying ourselves, we also have to let go any and all sense of being self-sufficient.  We have to be absolutely vulnerable before God and in that moment of total vulnerability we have to trust 2 things:  God is always good; and God is pure, complete and unconditional love.

2.  He Accepted His Place

You won’t hear Jesus saying, “Oh, Dad, do I have to become one of them?”  Instead: He took on the status of a slave, became human!  Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process.  Jesus reached out and took on being human because the Father chose it for Him.  It was the Father’s plan to show us that He is not a referee, dictator or stern judge.  God wants us to know that His character is not in the rules and regulations that we think about when it comes to His Kingdom.  God wants us to know that His absolute, all the time, for all eternity character, is Love. 

We do not tell God what is our Unique True Purpose; God tells us!  We don’t inform Him of our Why:  we allow Him to tell us Our Why.  His Purpose for your life will be about what HE can do.  God wants to move us beyond ritual and rules, beyond history and traditions and step into His very character.  This Is Your Why!  Accept that place God has for you where you must rely on His strength and not your own. 

3.  He Surrendered To God’s Plan

Jesus did not just die—He died on the Cross.  The Greek word for Obedient means To Give An Ear To—in other words, Jesus was listening to the Father.  God had the plan and Jesus listened to that plan and surrendered to that plan. 

And that plan was to become the one and only sacrifice that would atone for everyone’s sins so that anyone who wanted could have a deep and intimate relationship with God.  Jesus surrendered so that we can have the relationship that God yearns for us to have with Him, the Father, Abba, Papa, Dad!  The Cross is about bringing people into a relationship with God!

The Why for your life is all about letting this world—your world know that God loves them and yearns to bring them into relationship with Him.  And Here Is Where You Find Unique True Purpose!  The only way our world can know God’s love is when they see us sharing our love for God with others.    Jesus Died So The World Could Know God’s Love—we should live the same way—To Live So That The World Will Know God’s Love For Them!

Your exact Life Purpose is as unique as you are—but each of our Unique Purposes is designed for one thing:  To Help Bring Others Into A Relationship With God, Who Is Always Good And Always Full Of Love.  As much as we are to yearn for God, understand this:  That God Yearns Infinitely More For You And Everyone! 

OK, you know what’s next.  Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:

Find a way to do something for another person to know that God loves them.  Get personally involved with another life in a way that reveals your Why—To let them know that God wants a relationship with them.  Or is your Why for some other reason?  Give up your Why For The Why That Always Gives You Contentment!

One Resolution: One Mind!

We Need To Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God.

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We are in the 2nd week of looking at One Resolution that will give our hearts the one thing it longs for most of all:  contentment.  And remember that this One Resolution is to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel!  Let’s look again at our Scripture from Philippians 1:27-30 (NLT)

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.  Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies.  This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together.  You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

The Gospel is not about what we can do.  The Gospel is all about what God has done, is doing and will continue to do for us because of His grace.  It’s not the “Gospel of Our Best Efforts” but The Gospel Of Jesus—God’s Best Effort For Us.

And because it’s about God’s Grace, it’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection!  There are 6 Key Decisions you must make in order to experience Contentment—the first Key Decision is to have an Undivided Heart for God and what HE wants for our lives.

We have come to that second part of verse 27.  On the surface, this seems to be one of those verses that translators can’t agree on.  Allow me to explain:

  • The KJV—“that ye stand fast . . . with One Mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” 
  • The NIV—“that you stand firm . . . contending as One (Meaning Person) for the faith of the gospel.” 
  • And in our reading today, the NLT—“that you are standing together with . . . One Purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.”

OK, we have One Mind, One Person, One Purpose; Which is correct?  All Of Them!  In the process of translating the ancient texts, it’s not a word by word translation but involves the context of the phrases around each word.  The Greek word used is psychē (psü-khā’) and by itself it means The Soul, that deepest part of who we are. 

It refers to the essence of a person—their mind, their purpose in life, their identity in life.  But more than just the word psychē (psü-khā’) is the phrase Stand Fast, Standing Together, Stand Firm. 

And then there’s that other phrase:  Striving Together, Fighting Together, Contending.  Now we come to the next step in the life that is worthy of the Gospel—Living Together In Community, and not just any community.  And here is the One Thing you really need to remember from today’s message:  That We Need To Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God.

The community we are called to live in is the community of faith.    Call it the church, the body of Christ, or community of believers—this is where God is calling us to live this life of contentment.  The world says contentment is found in what you can do yourself. 

But that deep and abiding contentment, that contentment which can fill any and every heart is found in our relationships of working together in a common bond.  When we put our life in grace smack dab in the middle of a bunch of other lives in grace, the power of God’s grace intensifies in each of us. 

Don’t put your life in with a bunch of people living by rules and regulations and doctrines.  Put your heart and life in people who know that it’s all about the relationship God gives us in Jesus!  You have a choice:  to be a Pretender or to be a Contender in the pursuit of contentment.

To go at this life of contentment by yourself makes you a Pretender!  You can have all the trappings of success—the job, the house, the car, the toys—but these things will not give you the necessary strength to maintain that One Resolution!

I need others around me who share my passion for Jesus.  You need others around you who live passionately for Jesus.  Wrap it up in a box, take it to the bank and cash it, put it in the display case—Unless You Commit And Invest Time With People Passionate About Jesus, You Will Lose Your Passion For Jesus.

That’s why you need more than an hour on Sunday morning.  I’m talking about developing and nurturing those key relationships that will enable us to allow Christ to live in and through us.  Our greatest desire should be for God and one of the most powerful ways we find and experience God is through the Body of His Son—The Community! 

It takes more than a sign with a name on it to be the Body of His Son.  There has to be a connection, not to rules or creeds, but to that sustaining and life-giving connection to Jesus.  There has been this long running theological question:  Can A Person Be A Christian Without Going To Church? 

One side says, “Sure, because it’s about faith in Jesus’ work on the Cross.”  But that’s the wrong question to ask.  The real question that needs to be asked often is this:  “How Long Can A Person, Who Is Able To Go To Church, Remain A Christian Without Going To Church?” 

And the answer?  “Not As Long As It Takes!”  Why?  Because there’s some tough stuff out there that you just can’t handle alone.  Let me ask you this:  Would you want to go face to face with someone like Terrance Cody alone?  Now, for you unfortunate people who don’t remember Terrance, he played nose guard for the University of Alabama in 2008 and 2009.

Terrance weighed 360+ pounds.  His job was to push aside 300 pound offensive linemen in order to tackle the unfortunate soul who had the football.  And when coaches prepared to play against Terrance they always had at least 2 linemen assigned to the difficult task of blocking him.  Knowing this about Terrance, back to my original question:  Would you want to go face to face against someone like Terrance Cody?  Of course not, unless you have a masochistic personality and love getting beat up.

Listen, there are spiritual forces out there that make Terrance Cody look like a 96 pound weakling and you do NOT want to face them alone.  Their Sole Task Is To Cause You To Lose Your Hope, Lose Your Faith, And Lose Your Joy So That You Lose Your Contentment.  It’s a struggle at times; it’s always a battle to live a life worthy of the Gospel by allowing Jesus to live in you and through you.  That’s why the gift of God’s Grace includes the gift of the Community Of His Son. 

And as Goliath shouted insults at David, your enemy will shout insults at you.  Pretenders in the pursuit of contentment go at it alone. But Contenders For Contentment Surround Themselves With Those Who Have The Same Desire To Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel Of God’s Best Effort. 

We need each other and we need to be here for each other.  Now, we will not always agree on every little thing, but we can agree on the main thing:  That We Need Stand Together Being The One Person For The Gospel Of God’s Best Efforts

This is the One Mind:  That We Stand Together As ONE!  Here’s how we Stand Together As One Community:

1.  Being The One Mind—In Faith

Being The One Mind In Faith is all about The Cross.  It’s not that we all agree on doctrines or interpretations, but that we all agree that the main thing is The Cross.  The Cross levels the playing field.  No one here is better than anyone else.  Flip the coin over and we see that no one here is any worse than anyone else. 

We are bound together by one common need:  A Savior.  And we are bound together by one common remedy:  The Cross.  Whether we like different styles of music, whether we want different forms of worship really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that we all stand beneath the One And Same Cross with the conviction that This Cross makes all the difference in our lives.  Our connection is to the relationship with God.

2.  Being The One Person—In Witness

Being The One Person In Witness is all about The Gospel!  What if a researcher stumbled across a vaccine that would prevent anyone else from ever contracting cancer again?  Do you suppose that researcher would hide his discovery? 

Do you think he would place it under lock and key and never let the world know about it?  I don’t think so!  He would call a press conference, call all the drug manufacturers, and start the process for FDA approval because that would be good news for the world. 

We have the best news for our world—Redemption And Release.  We add value and credibility to each other’s witness when we show The One Person to our world:  That We Are People Changed By The Love Of God And Are Committed To Sharing God’s Love Together To Our World 

Your life will validate the witness of another and their witness will validate your witness.  When we stand together believing that God’s love is for everyone, that we will not judge or turn our back on anyone and that His love will change everyone who accepts His love, then we make an impact on our world. 

3.  Being The One Purpose—In Action

Being The One Purpose In Action is all about The Mission!  It doesn’t do us any good if we sing, pray and study if there is not subsequent action.  Every Community of Jesus has a God-given Mission and every believer has a God-given mission that will be related to the Mission of our church. 

This is where we will find God’s Vision for this place and where you will find your place in that Vision.  God Does Not Give A Mission Without Also Giving The Means To Accomplish That Mission.  Inside of every one of you is a passion, an ability, a skill and a spiritual gift that is a perfect fit for this Mission.  Some of you will be out front doing this work. 

Some of you will be behind the scenes praying or organizing or sharing your resources for this God-Given Mission.  If I could afford it, I would have bought every one of you a mirror this week and right now have you look in that mirror and tell you:  The Mission Of This Church Is Counting On The Person You See In That Mirror.

To Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel Of God’s Best Effort You Must Become A Part Of Something Much Bigger Than Yourself—The Citizens Of The Kingdom Of God.  Look around you; go ahead, I said “Look around you!”  We Are Here, In This Place, Because Of The Cross And For Each Other And For Those Not Here Yet. 

Contentment grows in each of us when we become a servant to the people you just saw.  The Kingdom Is Not About You—It Is About Each Other And Those Not Here Yet That We Should Be Inviting Into A Relationship With Jesus.  Jesus makes a promise that you can count on to always be true and never fail:  If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matt. 10:39 NLT)

Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:Designate A Fast And Prayer Time at least 3 times a week.  Fasting means giving up something in order to focus on God.  Here are some suggestions for your Fast:

  • Give Up A Favorite TV show
  • If you do social media, give it up for a morning or evening.
  • Give up a meal
  • Give up a hobby
  • Give up watching the morning or evening news
  • Give up something you do regularly or enjoy
  • Then spend that time focusing on God through prayer

Remember One Resolution for the rest of your life:  To Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel Of God’s Best Effort!

One Resolution: One Spirit!

New Year’s offers for many the opportunity for more than a different life, but stirs in us the longing for a better life.  The human heart is made for something that is better—and that something better is Contentment.  So we make resolutions that we hope will make life better by improving the quality of our experiences.  I thought it would be interesting to see what the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 are.  I surfed the web and here is what I found:

  1. Exercise more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Get organized
  4. Learn a new skill or hobby
  5. Live life to the fullest
  6. Save more money / spend less money
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Spend more time with family and friends
  9. Travel more
  10. Read More

Here’s what else I found:  It was pretty much the same for 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and you get the point.  Now we can download apps that promise ways to help you keep your resolutions.  And we would all agree that it’s easier to make resolutions than to keep them.    Wouldn’t it be great if we could slip on a pair of shoes, take a supplement, join a gym and at the end of the year discover that we kept all our resolutions?  I believe that New Year Resolutions are The Cry Of The Heart For Deep, Abiding Contentment.  When it comes to the issue of contentment, there are 3 things about people and our culture that are true:

  1. Most People are not content with their lives.  In spite of all the promises of hope from the latest trends, advertisements and self-help gurus, most people realize that something is still missing in their life.
  2. Most people feel powerless when it comes to developing lasting and significant change in their lives.  According to a couple of surveys, only 40-45% of Americans even take the effort to make one or more New Year’s Resolutions.  This is down from last century’s high mark of 80%. 
  3. Every human heart longs for contentment.  Even among that 55-60% who make no Resolutions, and among those who say they have given up hope, The Longing Of The Heart For Contentment Never Goes Away.

But what if there was a way to bring that Deep, Abiding Contentment to your life?  And what if there was a way that you could model contentment in a way that would inspire those closest to you to experience that same Sense Of Contentment in their life?  Does that sound good to you?   But wait!  There’s more. 

What if I could show you that to achieve this life that is more than different, more than better, but fills anyone with Contentment, can be achieved with One Resolution, would you be interested?    Not 10, not 5, no, not 3 resolutions, there is only One Resolution that all of us need to make.  Want to know what it is?  Let’s look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians in Philippians 1:27-30

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies.  This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together.  You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

According to Paul, the 1 Resolution is this:  Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel!  “Oh, is that all it is preacher?  Why didn’t you tell me to paint the Golden Gate Bridge; or—Find the cure for cancer; or—Get every nation to sign a peace accord and end all wars; or—Put an end to world hunger; or—Get Democrats and Republicans to put the American citizen first and forget party politics?  I could do that long before my life is worthy of the Gospel!  Thanks for nothing!” 

And if the Gospel was about what we could do and accomplish, then that’s the way we all ought to feel.  We try to do our very best, but then we lose our temper, we lust, we envy, feel jealousy, say a dirty word, become greedy, act harshly, become resentful and are unforgiving.  And we realize that is just not worthy of the Gospel.  But The Gospel Is Not About What We Can Do

The Gospel is all about what God has done, is doing and will continue to do for us because of His heart for us.  It’s Not The “Gospel Of Our Best Efforts” But The Gospel Of God’s Best Effort For Us.  It’s all about God’s Grace; it’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ.  We Are To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection!  We often lock in on that word found in the KJV Conduct.  But remember Paul didn’t write in English.  He wrote in Greek and in Greek, the NLT gives us the best understanding of that word:  Live As Citizens of Heaven. 

This means we live according to God’s ways, plans and purposes that are rooted in His Grace.  And at the heart of Grace is that we allow Him into our hearts and We Rely On His Strength Rather Than Our Own Strength.  And Paul’s letter to the Philippians doesn’t end with that verse.  For the rest of this letter, Paul shows us how to live a life worthy of the gospel by allowing Christ to live in us and through us!  Contentment Is Found By Surrendering Moment By Moment To The Process Of Grace, And Not Giving Up On That Process, Especially When We Mess Up.

And this process is found in ONEOne Spirit, One Mind, One Purpose, One Goal, One Hope And One Secret.  And this process is what we will begin looking at in this New Year.  So, how can we live this Life Worthy Of The Gospel By Allowing Christ To Live In And Thru Us?

It comes by making 6 Conscious Choices every day.  The Process Begins By Living In One Spirit.  And here’s The 1 Thing you need to remember from today’s message:  Contentment Begins When We Think, Speak, Act, React And Make Decisions Based On One Spirit. 

Paul is not talking about the Holy Spirit here, but our spirit.  What Is Your Spirit?  The first response is to say, “That’s the part of me that lives on after death.”  And it is, but I want you to go deeper.  Think Of Your Spirit As That Part Of You That Makes You Think, Speak, Act, React And Helps In Your Decision Making Process.  And this is the real problem.  Without a deep and committed relationship to Christ, we live with A Divided Spirit.  Living life with One Spirit does not happen automatically nor is it easily attained.  Allow me to define for you what I mean by One Spirit:  One Spirit means living each day with an Undivided Heart!  So think of One Spirit as that heart that gives its loyalty to God.

And to help us live with One Spirit, God offers us transformation—A New Spirit—A New Way To Think, Speak, Act, React And Make Decisions.  He offers to help us live with One Spirit that is worthy of the Gospel Of Grace through The Desire To Have That Undivided Spirit.  Here is how to develop this One Spirit. 

1. Have That Unbridled Desire For God’s Grace

Remember that this Process of One, this resolution to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel does not depend on your abilities; just God’s grace!  And is there anything better or more reliable that God’s Grace?  Jesus uses 2 powerful human experiences to describe what it means to desire God’s grace:  hungering and thirsting.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:6—Blessed Are Those Who Hunger And Thirst For Righteousness, For They Will Be Filled. 

It’s About An Unquenchable Appetite For God.  It’s not about a Sam’s Club sample taste, or a small Hors d’oeuvre tray.  It is about all that God offers.  And trust that God will provide His grace.  When you get up in the morning have that unquenchable appetite for God.  When you go to bed at night have that unquenchable appetite for God.  And every moment between getting up and going to sleep, have that unquenchable appetite for God.

2. Give Him Your Unrestrained Devotion

Use the word “Devotion” and many think about The Upper Room, Guideposts, Daily Bread or some other devotional material.  Reading these devotional materials are great acts that we need to engage in daily.  But that’s not Devotion.  The Dictionary Defines Devotion As:  Profound Dedication.  It is moving your life in the direction of God.  This movement in the direction of God is best described in Philippians 3:13-14—I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 

Whatever it is that you talk the most about, that is your greatest passion, and that is what you are giving your devotion to.  Your Greatest Passion Reveals Your Devotion.  If your greatest passion is football, then your devotion is to football.  If your greatest passion is to be recognized and praised by others, then your devotion is to self.  Devotion to God is choosing to focus on God’s presence.  It means we look for and find God’s presence every day and everywhere.  Make God your greatest passion.

3. Live With Total Determination

It’s easy to give up on dreams when life gets tight.  It’s easy to turn around when life gets tough.  Our world, your culture, is filled with those who would rather quit than fight on—surrender rather than overcome.  To Live In One Spirit Requires Resolve And Determination Because It Is On The Other Side Of The Struggle And Conflict That We Understand What The Life In Grace Is All About. 

It is by going through the tight, tough and difficult places that we really discover just how much God does for us.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10—We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 

Without Grace, without the Christ of the Cross, our own spirit becomes divided and it’s all because of the problem of sin.  But Jesus has defeated the sin-problem for us by carrying our sins to the Cross.  Contentment begins when we take our relationship with God seriously—By Making This Relationship The MOST Important Priority In Our Life.  Jesus lived with One Spirit—to honor God by allowing God’s heart, the Father’s Presence to live in Him and through Him. 

Remember: You Can’t Follow Jesus And Stay Where You Are.  So here’s your Next Steps:

  1. Do something to show your hunger for God’s Grace
    • Join a Bible study group, maybe 2 groups
    • Begin to read the Bible, just the Bible.  Begin with Philippians
  2. Get directly involved helping people know that God loves them
    • Find a person who has a need, and meet that need
    • Find something happening locally
    • Talk with me about starting something new
  3. Dream of something that only God can do