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One Holy Desire

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One Holy Desire

Text: 1 Th 4:1-8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

I.        Introduction:   God is holy and holiness (is) the moral condition necessary to the health of his universe. ...Whatever is holy is healthy, ...the holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of creation are inseparably united. God's wrath is his utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hated the polio that would take the life of the child.

   -- A. W. Tozer, Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 3.

   The words holiness and sanctification are not prominent in much of Protestant theology.  We have tended to speak of justification without a commensurate emphasis on sanctification. ... Holiness means that one belongs wholly to God.  This is also the meaning of sanctification, being set apart as God's own possession.  When this begins internally, with the heart, the transformation becomes something that affects the total person.

   -- Myron S. Augsburger in The Christ-Shaped Conscience. Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 3.

II.      The Instruction of God: Learning from the Principles of Sanctification

A.      Learning to Please

In his book, First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty, author Bill Minutaglio tells a story of current Presidential contender George W. Bush's encounter with his father, George Bush. The elder Bush wanted his college-aged son to get a taste for the same type of ground-level work in the oil kingdom that he had been exposed to in the 40s. Every summer, Circle Drilling would hire a crew of college boys, and George W. was committed to work from June through August.

With aspirations of being a stockbroker or a Wall Street mogul like other prosperous family members, George W. walked off the barge seven days before his commitment was scheduled to end and never returned. Word was relayed to his father, and when the younger Bush returned to Houston, he was summoned to his father's office in the Houston Club building downtown.

Minutaglio relates:

The successful oilman stared at his son, the prodigal roustabout.... He showed his disappointment; he made George W. feel guilty. "You agreed to work a certain amount of time, and you didn't." George W. heard his father intone, "I just want you to know that you have disappointed me."

The first son fled the office. He had failed his father in some way. His mother was always more precise, more operatic: "I would scream and carry on. The way George scolded was by silence or by saying, 'I'm disappointed in you.' And they would almost faint."

Two hours later George W.'s phone rang. It was his father. Enough time had passed. He wanted to know if George W. wanted to catch a Houston Astros game. But George W.'s father's disappointment that day in the Houston Club was something he remembered for years. "Those were the sternest words to me, even though he said them in a very calm way."

George W. later told a close friend. "He wasn't screaming and he wasn't angry, but he was disappointed. When you love a person and he loves you, those are the harshest words someone can utter."

                                Citation: Bob Vacendak, Garland, Texas. Source: Dallas                                          Morning News

B.      Learning to Grow

   Phillips Brooks wrote, "Bad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely content with the life he is living, with the thoughts he is thinking, with the deeds he is doing; when there is not forever meeting at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do because he is still the child of God."

   -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).

  The Christian walk is much like riding a bicycle; we are either moving forward or falling off.

   -- Robert Tuttle, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 3.

C.      Learning from Jesus

   Tired of struggling with my strong-willed 3-year-old son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: "Thomas, who is in charge here?" Not missing a beat, our Sunday-school-born-and-bred toddler replied, "Jesus is."

   -- Susan C. Kimber, Brea, CA. Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

If you accept the authority of Jesus in your life, then you accept the authority of his words.

   Colin Urquhart (1940- ) 

III.   The Will of God: Led By the Purpose of Sanctification

A.      A Wish to Make: God’s Desire for Each Believer’s Life

   I have found that the most extravagant dreams of boyhood have not surpassed the great experience of being in the will of God, and I believe that nothing could be better. 

   -- Jim Elliot, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 2.

B.      A Way to Live: God’s Design for Each Believer’s Passion

Let's face it, we are not a happier society as a result of the liberalisation of the seventies. We have record rates of divorce, record rates of suicide, record rates of teenage pregnancy, record rates of youth crime, record rates of underage sex. We should invite people to recognise that the Great Experiment has failed. You cannot have happiness without restraint.

—Anne Widdecombe, Shadow Home Secretary in the British House of Commons

Citation: Alan Wilson, Nyon, Switzerland; source: Electronic Telegraph (4-3-00)

The Spirit's control will replace sin's control. His power is greater than the power of all your sin.

   Erwin W. Lutzer (1941- )

C.      A Warning to hear: God’s Discipline for Each Believer’s Transgression

   Gary Thomas writes in Christianity Today: Thinking about eternity helps us retrieve [perspective]. I'm reminded of this every year when I figure my taxes. During the year, I rejoice at the paychecks and extra income, and sometimes I flinch when I write out the tithe and offering. I do my best to be a joyful giver, but I confess it is not always easy, especially when there are other perceived needs and wants.

   At the end of the year, however, all of that changes. As I'm figuring my tax liability, I wince at every source of income and rejoice with every tithe and offering check--more income means more tax, but every offering and tithe means less tax. Everything is turned upside down, or perhaps, more appropriately, right-side up.  I suspect judgment day will be like that.

   -- Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 2.

IV.    The Call of God: Listening to the Plea for Sanctification

A.      Answering the Call to Purity

   Revival in my own life has been brought together by the near psychotic connection of two events--first, by a character in the late 60's who stepped onto a Broadway stage and, dressed in blue jeans and a tee shirt, cried, "I wanna get washed!" It was the beginning of Godspell, and it spoke to a double hunger. We all want to get washed, and we all want to be in the presence of God. According to the old cry, we want to "Get washed--the kingdom of God is at hand!"

   The second event came when I bucked hay bales in northern Oklahoma. By nightfall these little alfalfa "groaties" would be fused to my skin with sweat--those itching, ugly, hayfield microbes, gargantuan chiggers that gnawed at you like fanged, fire ants, which bit through the dermis and stung like cornered scorpions. It was hard to lead us hayfield workers to Christ--we could hardly be threatened with hell. For we who suffered the hayfield groats lost all fear of purgatory. In the fiery itch of our days, we scratched and dreamed of only one thing: the evening shower.

   We had rigged an old barrel under the windmill and set it high on a two-by-four framework. It stood up in the Oklahoma sun all day long, warming until it was ready for field hands to stand beneath its generous flow and be clean. Its walls were corrugated tin on three sides, but the fourth side was open wide to the setting sun. We stood in the water like Adam in Eden. We would face the west and rebuke the field demons, "In the name of Jesus Christ, get off of us, you dogs of hell!" Then we'd turn the tap and sing, "Just as I Am" as the water flowed, and we were born again! And if anyone of you asked me on any late June day what I most wanted in life, I would have said, "O God, I wanna get washed!"

   -- Calvin Miller, "I Wanna Get Washed," Preaching Today, Tape No. 118.

God is holy with an absolute holiness that knows no degrees, and this he cannot impart to his creatures. But there is a relative and contingent holiness which he shares with angels and seraphim in heaven and with redeemed men on earth as their preparation for heaven. This holiness God can and does impart to his children. He shares it with them by imputation and by impartation, and because he has made it available to them through the blood of the Lamb, he requires it of them.

   A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)

B.      Answering the Call to Conformity

   To what are we to be consecrated?  Not to Christian work, but to the will of God, to be and to do whatever he requires.

   -- Watchman Nee,  Leadership, Vol. 9, no. 1.

C.      Answering the Call to Unity

Every time we say, "I believe in the Holy Spirit," we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.

   J. B. Phillips (1906-1982)

If we seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost in order that God may make us great servants of his, we shall never receive anything. God baptizes us with the Holy Ghost that he may be all in all.

   Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

V.      Conclusion:     A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city. The soap manufacturer casually said, "The gospel you preach hasn't done much good, has it? Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!" The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter. Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, "I see that soap hasn't done much good in the world; for there is much dirt, and many dirty people around." The soap manufacturer replied, "Oh, well, soap is only useful when it is applied." And the pastor said, "Exactly, so it is with the gospel."

   --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 354.

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