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Discipleship...Created to become like Christ

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10-30-05
Dallas Baptist Church

Week 4, Purpose Driven Life

Created to become Like Christ

Sermon Transcript

 

Everybody needs a purpose. 

In Week One we looked at
          “You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure.” 

In week TWO, we found out that our first purpose is to get to know and love God.  That’s called….Worship.  

Then last week, week 3, John shared with us that We Were Formed for God’s Family.”  The Bible calls that…Fellowship.

Today we move to the third purpose, and we find it described in Romans 8:29:  In your outline, and on the screen, Romans 8:29 says,

/For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.[1] NIV /

God’s plan has always been, to make you like Jesus Christ,…

          That’s our third purpose…to be like Jesus.

God’s plan was to make human beings like Himself. 

In Genesis, God says it like this …
          “Let us make man in Our image”…
          by the way, that’s the very first reference to the Trinity…

God is speaking of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

But, God is not saying you or I are going to be a god. 

We will never be a god. 

What God really wants is for us to become godly

He wants us to develop His character.  That means:

He wants you and me to think the way He does;

He wants you and me to act the way He does;

He wants you and me to feel the way He does;

He wants you and me to have His values.

That’s why He wants to make you and me like Jesus.

Next, look at the next verse, Ephesians 4:15. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. [2]  NIV

The message paraphrase says it like this…
          “God wants us to grow up…like Christ in everything”. 

Obviously we’re going to grow up physically,
          so God is talking about some other kind of growing…
                   He wants you and me to grow up to be like Christ. 

          Again, My third purpose in life is to become like Christ. 

So, “How does God do it?” 

          In other words, HOW does God help me grow spiritually? 

Actually there are several ways we usually think of…these being: 

God uses His Word…the Bible. 

His Word will transform us. 
The Bible tells us in Rom 12:2, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, which means, IF we want to grow up spiritually,
          we’ve got to get into THE Book. 

And the more we get into it, the more we grow. 

          We have to read it, study it,
          memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it in our life…
                   because it takes truth to transform us. 

The other thing God uses is that He uses people.

When we learn from each other, we grow and we develop. 

          Simply put, God uses people in our lives to help us grow,
          and that’s why we’ve got to have a lots of contact…
                   that’s why we need fellowship. 

          God never designed us to be ‘lone strangers.’ 

But, God uses more than ONLY His Word in the Bible and fellowship. 

In fact, there are (3) three other things God uses. 

          Your outline calls this the “THREE UNEXPECTED TOOLS.”

          In Romans 8:28…God says,…“In all things God works for the           good for those who love Him, who have been called according     to His purposes.” 

 

Some people will tell you that in MOST things, God works for the good…but that is not what Romans 8:28 says…it says in ALL things. 

Does that mean that God even uses bad things?  Yes.

Does that mean that God even uses our
          so called ‘mistakes’ when we sin?  Yes. 

The Bible says again,
In all things God works for the good of those who love Him. 

So as we look at these (3) three unexpected things that come into our lives, guess what…we’ll see them even in the life of Jesus Christ. 

Think about this for a moment with me:

          Jesus was greatly troubled in the garden of Gethsemane.

          And He was tempted in the desert,
          and He had trespasses against Him
                   while He was dying on the cross. 

          SO…IF then, God wants us to grow to be like Jesus Christ,                        then, God’s going to take us through
                             some of those same experiences. 

But there is still a problem…
          and that’s because none of these things
                   will automatically help us grow. 

We have to have our hearts ready,
          because if our hearts aren’t ready,
          then we’ll just get bitter
          when God allows these things to come into our lives.

 

Let’s first look at this thing called ‘Trouble.’

          Why trouble? 

          Because TROUBLE teaches us to trust God. 

It is usually when we’re in trouble that we really turn to God.

In the Bible the word Greek word “θλίψεσιν” means “trouble”
          and it is often translated as either “trials” or “sufferings”.

Think about this…and, where is MORE faith required in life?

          Is it when we’re on “Easy-Street, coming up roses,”
          or when we’re down and out, crushed and bruised?

IF things are going really super good in our lives,
          it doesn’t take a lot of faith to live the Christian lifestyle. 

So, How does He use these things to help us grow to trust Him? 

Look at Romans 5:3-4 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.[3] (NIV)

So  “…trouble produces patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope”. 

What is God most interested in developing in our lives?

Character.

He is more interested in what we are, in other words,
          OUR CHARACTER… 

          That’s because God says that the goal of life is
                   character development,
                             and not our own personal comfort. 

AND, I speak from lots of experience here…
Until you understand this and accept this,
          life isn't going to make sense. 

And the Christian life is not a life of constant peaches and cream (granted, that’s what I’d prefer also)…but it’s just not…

          This is why the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel
          that you hear coming out of so many pulpits
          is so popular today, and that attracts big crowds,
          but it is shallow and empty and a lie,
          and it creates disillusioned people when
          God allows troubles to come into the believer’s life.

All kinds of problems are going to come into our lives –
          and what are we going to do? 
          Are we going to immediately call out,
                   “Why me Lord?  Why is this happening to me?”

Life here on earth is NOT heaven. 

One day you’re going to be in a place with no problems, no trials. 

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” [4] (Rev 7:17)

No more tears, no more sorrows…
          and that’s going to be great, and I look forward to
          the day we get taken Home to be with Jesus, but folks,
                   life here on earth is NOT heaven. 

And IF…IF, we live in constant wishful thinking
          that we’re going to have heaven on earth,
          we’re going to be very disappointed. 

          Earth is not the place for continual comfort. 

          But God uses our time here on earth to develop our character. 

Look at Jesus’ own life.

Jesus Himself went through many trials in His life,
          and the greatest was the night before He was crucified. 

          He went to this place called Gethsemane. 

“They came to a garden called Gethsemane and Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray’.” (Mark 14:32). 

Do you see something here?

Even Jesus wanted to have friends around when He went through troubles. 

Folks, that’s why you need a small groups, your Lifegroup or Sunday School class. 

          Jesus says then in the 34th verse, My soul is overwhelmed     with sorrow to the point of death,[5] Mark 14:34

 “The worry in My heart is so great that it almost crushes Me.”

 Some of you probably say at times, “I know that feeling…
          I’ve had days when I felt like I couldn’t make it another day.” 

So how do we deal with that?

          Verse 36 has the key for us…
          Jesus shows us exactly how we too need to respond to
                   the troubles that come into our lives…

Jesus said, “Father,” everything is possible for You. 
Please take this cup of suffering away from me. 
Yet, I want Your will, not Mine!”
(Mark 14:36). 

Folks, if you and I are going to become like Jesus,
          we’ve got to learn to respond just as Christ responded…

At the same time, It’s ok to say the Lord,
          “God I don’t like this”, “God I want you to take it away”,
          “God I know it’s even possible for you to take it away”. 

But we must come back to the: Yet, if this is what’s best for me.  Then, may Your will be done in my life”. 

Jesus surrendered to God’s plan. 

And If you and I are going to become like Jesus Christ,
          then we’ve got to learn to trust God completely, just as Jesus,                              even when things are falling apart in your life.

          We must learn to trust God completely just the way Jesus did. 


Fortunately, there are a couple tools that can help as reminders of how God has been faithful and with us
          in troubles throughout our lives…

First, there’s a spiritual journal. 

God told Moses to do this when they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  In Numbers 33:2 it says, “At the Lord’s direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress”. 

          But a Journal is not the same as a diary.  

The difference between a diary and a journal is that a diary is
          used to record the events in your life,
          whereas a journal is for recording the lessons and insights
                   you learn in life. 

          A journal helps you see your progress,
          and shows how much you’ve changed over the years.

So when you go to your journal some years down the road
          and you read about something that happened way back there,         and you say, wow…I’m not as stressed out over this today…

          So, a journal can give you encouragement
                   when you’re getting discouraged. 

And number two – we need to keep our eyes on the end of the race.

WE shouldn’t ever forget that there is the reward that’s out there waiting for us. 

          In eternity God is going to reward your character development. 

          The Bible says this “Our light and momentary troubles are       achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”                            (2Cor. 4:17). 

Light and momentary…Paul’s saying,
          “What we’re going through right now is light and temporary,
          and we’re going to be rewarded for our character in heaven”. 

The Message paraphrase says it like this,
          “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming         good times and the lavish celebration prepared for us.” 

Moving on then to The SECOND UNEXPECTED TOOL that God uses in our lives to make us become more like Jesus…
          this is temptation. 

God uses our temptations to teach us to obey Him. 

          What are Temptations and where do they come from?

          Temptations are situations designed by Satan
                   and they’re intended to harm us. 

          God never tempts us to do evil. 
                   The Bible is perfectly clear about that. 

Temptations are from Satan, and they are intended to hurt us. 

And even though God never tempts us, God is able,
          because of HIS greatness of His power and who He is,
          to use Satan’s temptations for good in our lives…
          and that’s because a temptation always provides a choice. 

So, when I choose for God, Satan’s little scheme is ruined,
          and I grow some more. 
          Choices are needed to develop character in our lives. 

Why?

          Again, we’re being shaped into the image of Christ…

          Jesus faced temptations. 

                   But, He never sinned. 

Right after He was baptized,
          and at the very beginning of his public ministry,
          Jesus went through an intense 40-day period
                   which included temptation
                   while He was out in the desert. 

Look at what the Bible has to say in Matthew 4:1. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil”. 

So, since Jesus faced temptations, guess what? 

          You and I are going to face temptations, too. 

The fact that Jesus faced temptations reminds us of
          some truths about temptation that help us
          to get through it, some things to remember. 

                   First, it is not a sin to be tempted. 

                             Jesus never sinned, and He was tempted. 

          Martin Luther used to say, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair,” that is IF you have enough hair for them to build a nest in. 

But it’s not a sin to be tempted. 

SECOND, everyone is tempted in the same ways. 

          Satan would like to trick us into thinking that no one has ever                      been tempted in the way he’s throwing at us,
                             but we’ve all faced the same thing. 

And God is able to help us through these temptations. 

          And the way we should deal with temptations,
                    is that we have to model Jesus’ way
                    of dealing with the temptations that were thrown at Him…

Look what Jesus did when he was tempted in Matthew 4:10.

Jesus said, “Get out of here, Satan. The scriptures say, worship only the Lord God.  Obey only Him’”. 

          He confronted the temptation. 

There’s an old hymn that reminds us to,
          “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin”

What It all boils down to is the word…Obedience,
          choosing to say, “yes” to God, and it’s a matter of love. 

The Bible tells us that Jesus said, “If you love Me, obey My commands”. 

So, let’s look for a moment at the HOW-TO’s…

“What do I do?”

          There are 2 distinct helps when it comes to
                   dealing with temptation. 

Number one, stay focused on good thoughts. 

          The Bible talks about this in Phil. 4:8 when it says,

          Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is    right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if        anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.[6]        NIV

          “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right”

If you focus on the temptation, almost 100% of the time,
          you’re going to go down the road,
          and you’re going to get caught up in that temptation. 

So what do you do?

          This may sound strange, but when you’re tempted,
                   don’t resist it.  Why…

          Because when to try to resist it, guess what you’re doing? 

You’re only thinking about the temptation and you get into a spiritual tug-of-war with Satan, and he always wins! 

Instead, turn your thinking to a passage like this…
          “Whatever’s good, whatever’s right, whatever’s true”. 

Jesus did the same thing when Satan tempted Him…
          Jesus quoted Scripture back at Satan.

Keep focused on good thoughts. 

The second way is, to get yourself a spiritual partner. 

          And even thought, nobody likes to talk about their temptations,
          one of the quickest ways to defeat them is
                   to be open about them. 

          Get yourself someone who can help you. 

The Bible tells us in Eccl. 4:9-10, “You’re better off to have a friend than to be all alone…If you fall, your friend can help you up”

This step of recognizing, that you need someone to help you me through this, is a step that helps you to begin to set that temptation aside in your life. 

At the start of 40 Days, we talked about not going alone,
          and getting a reading partner. 

The best place to look for this spiritual partner is in your group, somebody that you trust.  
But here’s the question. 

          What temptation are you facing right now
          and how could God use that temptation
          as you choose to obey Him as an opportunity
                   for you to grow in character? 

God uses trouble to teach us to trust,
          and God uses temptation to teach us to obey. 

Next…God uses trespasses to help teach us to forgive. 

          What are trespasses? 

          Trespasses are situations designed by other people to hurt us. 

Are there people in life who really want to hurt you, intentionally?

          Yes…that’s why the Bible says in the Lord’s Prayer, “Lord”      we’re to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those       who have trespassed against us.” 

The most difficult tool of all that God uses in our lives
          to make us like Christ is this one of forgiving others. 

And bearing the hurt or insults from other people without retaliation is,      without a doubt, the most important
          and the most difficult step in becoming like Jesus Christ. 

Now, I want you to understand this…these are not good things. 

          These are truly evil things,
                   but don’t forget that God is not the author of evil. 

          God hates sin. 

But He didn’t even protect His own Son, Jesus Christ,
          from these things. 

On the cross Jesus Christ not only carried our sins,
          He also endured enormous abuse from the people
          who were right there. 

In Matthew 27:39-44. It says, “The people passing by shook their heads and hurled insults at Jesus…and the elders made fun of Him…Even the bandits who had been crucified with Him insulted him in the same way.”    

And what was Jesus’ response? 

Look at the next verse. “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing’”

In 1 Pet. 2:23 it says this “23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. [7] ”

What did Jesus do?  He yielded His right to get even. 

He put up with the pain. 

He responded to evil insults with good. 

Other people will hurt you. 

You and I will be hurt very often in life. 

So if we’re going to become like Christ, we’ve got to learn to forgive. 

“How do you do that?” 

          Unfortunately, we can’t learn to forgive someone unless                                       somebody’s hurt us. 

          Forgiveness is one of the primary qualities of God
                   and God wants you to learn to become like Him. 

Since this again is the toughest one, we need a lot of help.

When people harm you intentionally or unintentionally…
when they trespass against you…
FIRST…remember that God has forgiven YOU. 

The Bible says “Forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” (Eph. 4:32). 

God never asks us to forgive anybody more than He has already forgiven us. 

SECOND, remember God is in control. 

Folks, God is STILL sovereign…

So when we’re hurt by somebody else, yes, they may mean it for bad, but God will use it for good in your life. 

Joseph was a prime example. 

His brothers hated him so much they sold him into slavery and then lied to their father and said, “he was killed by a bear”. 

YET, God had a plan in it all, and Joseph was taken to Egypt and went through all kinds of things - falsely accused of rape, thrown into prison…the first 40 years of Joseph’s life went rather poorly…he was trespassed against . 

And yet Joseph trusted God the whole time. 

He even maintained a forgiving spirit. 

Joseph said to his brothers, there on your outline, “You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done.” (Genesis 50:20). 

God turned all the trespasses against Joseph to good in order to save the lives of many people”. 

Our greatest testimony as a Christian is how we handle hurt. 

How do we respond when other people hurt us? 

Do you respond like Jesus did? 

And do we forgive like Christ?

Is there someone you need to forgive? 

God’s third purpose for your life is to make you like Jesus Christ. 

God’s going to take us through our own Gethsemane’s, where we learn to trust His love. 

God’s going to take us through our own desert experiences where we face temptations, and where we learn to obey Him. 

And God’s going to take us to the cross, those times of trespass, where we learn to forgive.  But there is a promise. 

Look at these last verses on your outline.  “We go through exactly what Christ goes through”. Here’s the good news.

 

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.[8]

 

The Message Paraphrase says, “But if we go through the hard times with Him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him.” (Rom. 8:17)

I don’t know what each of you are going through these days.
But I do know how God wants each of us to respond to it, regardless of what we’re going through. 

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”  (Phil. 2:5).

Let’s bow our heads. 

Dear Father, life makes so much more sense when we realize that it’s not about our career, it’s not about our comfort, it’s all about character and becoming like Jesus.  Help us to use life for the reason You gave it to us. 

Now you pray.  Say,

Dear God, I want to grow in character.  I want to become who You made me to be.  Thank you for the model of Jesus.  I want to become more like Jesus in the way I think and the way I feel and the way I act.  And if that means taking me through troubled times, then I say, “I want Your will for my life”.  And if that means going through a wilderness of temptation, please give me the strength to make the right choices.  And if that means I must endure the hurts of other people, then teach me to forgive as much as You have forgiven me.

If you’ve never opened your life to Jesus Christ, say, “Jesus, I can’t live like you unless I know you.  So I want to get to know You today.  As much as I know how, I want to ask You to come into my life and heart.  In Your name I pray, Amen.”

**************************

 


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[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., Ro 8:29. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., Eph 4:14. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., Ro 5:3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[4]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., Re 7:17. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[5]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., Mk 14:34. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[6]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., Php 4:8. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[7]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., 1 Pe 2:23. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[8]The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed., Ro 8:17. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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