“What’s on Your Mind?”
Pastor Tom Millner
Luke 12:22-34; Romans 12:1-2
January 9, 2011
You’ve heard the quote from Henry Ford who said, “If you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are right.” How we think emerges from our beliefs. We are in the beginning weeks of the year 2011. Do you believe you can live through this year victoriously? What supports your belief that you will be intact at year end, 2011? Do you really believe or do you just hang on to wishful thinking? Do you believe that God loves you as you are for where you are or do you believe you are unlovable by God (or even self and others) until you change a few things? Do you believe that all things are possible with God; or do you believe some things are possible with God, but not for you? What you think, what you believe, what you hold as your “attitude” determines the way you will act. Your actions determine your direction and your direction will determine where you wind up. To quote the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland: “If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.”
This is neither a so called health and wealth sermon, nor a name it and claim it sermon. This is a sermon about trusting the One who is the author and finisher of our faith, the Creator of this universe, the all-powerful God! Trusting Him to be who He is and going about the business of who we are in, through, and because of Him! What do we need to live out His creation intent in our lives? The answer lies in what we do with what His WORD tells us is to be in our minds, hearts, and actions.
1. Believe that Christ is WHO the scripture says He is! This is the central theme of the Gospel message God calls us at COHSS to share with this community in 2011 and beyond. John 3:14-21 goes to great length to help us understand the centrality of belief in Jesus Christ being the way to new life eternally with God. God’s action through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of divine love that has no condemnation, but rather radical liberation from the bondage that is self-will and dogged determination to have it our way. In these verses we read that not believing is indeed a conscious condemnation of self to an eternity without God’s presence. This belief that Jesus is the way requires radical change in thinking and behaving; resulting in radical change in believing that delivers a radical peace that defies previous logic. Instead of focusing on needing to be at the front of the line, or comfortably hidden somewhere in the back of the line, or forming a new line altogether, the focus is on magnifying the love of Christ as the bottom line! God doesn’t revoke His love and grace because we engage self-determination; He calls us to understanding that His determination to love us has trumped the need for glorified self-determination. Grace and mercy are free to us, but they are not cheap. It cost God His greatest; He calls us to discipleship and that my friends is indeed costly. We don’t like to hear that we have to do anything except receive, but what we do determines ultimately whose we are. Are we ours or are we His? His WORD is clear on the consequences (results) of doing things our way, yet we choose to go about our merry way and wish it weren’t so.
2. Keeping our minds on Him takes commitment! God calls us to relationship with Him. Relationship cannot exist where there is only one who is committed. “That’s alright, Honey – you do all the work and I’ll just hang around as long as there’s fun.” When there’s no longer the fun, we run to find the fun somewhere else. This translates to commitment to seeking fun, not relationship! Ask anyone who has been in relationship for any period of time beyond a few weeks or months and they can attest to the commitment of time, intent, presence, and patience that is required for relationship to flourish. Unfortunately, so many times we can’t see past the “me” to embrace the “we” whether in human relationship or the one with Him. To have that intimacy with Him for which He created us, we have to actively seek His presence through all the static, sound bites, noise, distraction, fatigue, and stinking thinking that comes our way. Prayer time and time in His Word are foundational to every day. God’s not going to turn you into a green eyed monster if you don’t make that commitment, but He can’t nourish your soul if you’re not feeding on the bread of life! COHSS is committed to keeping our thinking, preaching, acting, and virtual being on Him. Mother Teresa who worked with and on behalf of the world’s poor and downtrodden is credited with saying that “God does not expect us to be successful, just faithful.
3. Let your consequence be love! All action has a result (consequence). If I choose to walk across five points in the middle of ongoing traffic, the consequence will not be good for me and probably several drivers. If I see a child about to step off a cliff and rush to scoop that child into my arms of safety, the consequence of my action will be a life saved. Only history will reveal how many lives will be enhanced as a consequence of that young life being saved. When confronted by the Pharisees about the greatest of the commandments, Jesus responded; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39. The greatest sign of emotional and spiritual maturity is to take ownership for your own actions. “The devil made me do it” or you made me angry, or you called me that name first doesn’t cut it in the world of maturity. Every action we take has a consequence. You got here this morning as a consequence of the actions you took to get here. What you leave here with today is the consequence of the action you are taking now to either listen to seek to apply understanding, or to be occupied with some other form of distraction that will yield a different consequence. If the consequence we seek is love for God and love for others equal to self, then our thoughts, emotions and actions must be directed away from self. Do you have any idea how impossible that task is? On our own efforts, it will never happen. In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 19, Jesus was telling the Disciples how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples in essence stated that we all must then be doomed. Jesus’ response was “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Our call to Christian discipleship costs us something; “self” as we have known us for the “self” that He has created new in us. As His, we are no longer our own. The consequence of Christ’s decision to follow His Father’s will and surrender to what should have been our fate, was life eternal for us with Him, and a peace that passes all understanding in the presence of Him in our lives. The consequence of our surrender is a love for God that engages our heart, mind, and soul in a way that renders us love-able toward others.
The epistle of James, chapter 3 reads; “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom….But the wisdom that comes down from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” What wisdom are you engaging in 2011? It’s your choice. There are consequences no matter what action you take. Which consequence do you seek; love or less than?
So, what’s on your mind? The Apostle Paul said to the church in Philippi: “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.” Phil 4:8