GET READY TO FIGHT!
II Corinthians 6:1 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain
We have been given the ministry of reconciliation so we are the ambassadors of Christ which is not to be taken lightly. We want to reconcile the lost, hurting and the broken, NOT to Sand Hollow Baptist Church, but to the only One Who can mightily and truly restore them.
Don't receive the grace of God in vain. If we are just following the "list", we will never see the potential of God's promises. It is more than that. The pastor is not the only ambassador. We all are. Even when times are tough. God wants to stretch us. We can learn to be content in the storm. God may not take the storm away, but we can hang on to the Lord and remember the things He has delivered us from or remember what He has provided for us.
So regardless of the weather, regardless of the season, we can be an ambassador. We can be a Kingdom Builder. What else is there to do that means anything? Everything we do here (on Earth) should be done to get there (to Heaven).
II Corinthians 6:3-13 3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
It is important to remember the heritage of our family, our country and of our God. It all cost someone something.
What did it cost Paul so that you and I might be able to enjoy the saving grace of God through the blood of Jesus Christ? Paul is the reason WE know who Jesus is. It cost him his life. He gave up everything.
We don’t want to intentionally give someone a reason for offense because of the church. The Word says they will know us by our love for each other.
Are people looking in from the outside and being offended or do they want to be a part of it. We are all part of the ministry and we do it through “great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
There are many Christians who are in the spiritual battle without any weapons or armor because they are not in the Word of God! People can come up with a lot of excuses as to why they can’t get into the Word. If you come to Sand Hollow Baptist Church you will never be able to say, “I didn’t know.”
Are you willing to fight the same fight that Paul fought? We are to snatch as many from the fire as we can. Remember who went before us and why and then get your armor on and pick up your weapon and get ready to fight!
Scriptures used: II Corinthians 6:14-18 and II Timothy 3:1-5
Today’s Scripture spoke about being unequally yoked. That could be in terms of relationships, friendships and business aspects. If we are going to enter into a relationship on those levels, we need to have a standard. One of our first questions should be, “Are you seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ? If so, then we know that we are playing by the same set of “rules”.
II Timothy 3:1-5 says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
We live in a day where we want to be in control which means that we have zero self control! One thing we have told our kids is, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.” But the world has become lovers of everything except Jesus.
God wants us to come to him just as we are. Who do you turn to when you are broken and need comfort? Usually God is a last resort. We need to have people in our circles that we can go to and count on. Too many go to people asking for comfort or advice who aren’t even Christians! We should be counting on other believers. If we, as believers, have worldly friends that we are counting on, we don’t play by the same “rule book” and, therefore, it is too easy to compromise. The passage above gives the solution, “From such people, turn away!”
When we are down, we NEED what people have to offer. We need what HEALTHY people have to offer. We need people who will offer us hope! Life is hard enough. We need to surround ourselves with likeminded believers.
If we are in business with a worldly person, we can expect trouble. However, if you are in business with a brother in Christ, you have the rule book that you can bring him back to if he is stepping out of line and say, “You know better! The rule book says …”
Getting plugged into small groups at church is healing. It tends to be a great support group. These groups help us to get out of our own selves and put the focus on Jesus. If you are going to the world for healing, you will remain broken.
If we really know who we are and Whose we are, the storms we go through would be handled differently. Once you leave these doors, you ARE walking into a storm. Let the Word, not the world form who you are and how you think.
Don’t be pretenders and have a form of godliness. You have been set apart and that is okay. It is okay to be different. Pastor Paul Shepherd talks about getting into trouble for using a bowl from his mother’s china cabinet for his snack one day. He was scolded and told that it was because that china is special. It is set apart. We are that china. We have a God who love us so much that Jesus died for us. Stop listening to the world and KNOW that you are something special. You are separate and He has a purpose for you.
NO LONGER ORPHANS!
II Corinthians 7:1 “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.”
This verse starts out with “since we have THESE promises.” The promises it is referring to are those found in II Corinthians 6:16b-18. “As God has said:
‘I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.’[a]
‘Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.’
18 And, ‘I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.’[c]
Have you ever been lonely? There is no need to be! God says He will dwell IN you and walk among you. He says He will be our God and we will be His people if we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He says He will be our Father. Without Christ, we are fatherless, an orphan. John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”
We need to build a relationship with Him through prayer. Prayer matters! How are we going to live our lives here? How will we get through the race here on Earth? How do we KNOW that God will be there? He will REALLY be there when YOU want Him to be there. You have to invite Him in.
You are not your own. You have been bought at a high cost so cleanse yourselves as verse 1 instructs. Don’t be afraid to say, “Search me, oh God!” He will show you and then He will wait for you to Respond. Don’t go into it with a preconceived notion, because you might be surprised what He will ask of you. You might be afraid to go to Him thinking He is going to want to clean the outside of you and tell you that you can’t smoke or drink anymore. He may not ask you to do something so that the world will think you look more like a Christian. God is not as concerned with those things as He is the heart. He might ask you to work on being humble and kind. Depending on where you are at with those issues, it may be easier to give up smoking. And don’t take it upon yourself to cleanse other people. You have enough of your own yard to clean up.
You don’t have to worry about cleaning up your house before inviting God in. When you invite Him in, He will enter and take the things off the shelves and walls that He wants. Come to Him as you are.
You can get into Heaven without having a RICH relationship with God, but it will suck getting there. When we commit to something, don’t we want the full benefit of it? When we commit to buying a car, we commit to making the payments so that we can have the full benefits of driving it and working towards ownership of it. Be committed to having a rich relationship with God. The benefits are phenomenal! It is all there for us to take.
If you ask God to cleanse you, He might reveal some forgiveness issues that you have. Unforgiveness has crippled us and stunted the churches. It is a poison. We like to justify why we won’t forgive and seem to like wallowing in the muck and the mire. If you come to the altar and have unforgiveness in your heart, you won’t be heard. God tells us if we don’t forgive, He can’t forgive us. Your life will become better when you are willing to become holy. Don’t be afraid to become holy.
Ask God to give you the desire, courage, and strength to be committed and allow Him to cleanse you. Be eager to be called His people!