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Holy Sweat - Part 4


Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(7/20) I. Introduction- New Life and A Different World

An amazing thing happens when we believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as our Savior and Lord. We are given a new life. The Bible refers to this as being, "Born again," or, "Born anew," or, "Born from above." No, to answer Nicodemus’ question we do not re-enter our mother’s womb and then re-exit. Rather, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, and our dead-separated from God and headed for hell life, is given a new birth. We are as some say, regenerated. When Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, he said this, "12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love," (Col. 1:12-13). Some, say, translated us, or brought us. Before, Jesus we belonged to the world, our thoughts were like the world, we wanted the world’s stuff, we bought the world’s philosophies for our lives, and our existence centered on the world’s life. Paul says in Ephesians 2:1-3 that we lived that life following, whether we realized it or not, the prince of this world, who is Satan. Here is what He says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." (Eph. 2:1-3).

But by the Grace of God, we have a new life, and a new way to live, a new Prince to follow, and a new way to think, with a new destiny. Jesus would say, "They (us) are not of this world, just as I am not of this world." (John 17:16) Our Lord would also say, that we are not of this world, but have been chosen out of the world, to show the world, the grace of God (John 15:19, 17:18). But here is where many of us have a problem.

II. Our Problem – Conformed to the World instead of Transformed by the Word!

The world still controls our thoughts and our lives. John would tell us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17).

Paul also tells us, 2 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)

Do you remember our lesson from 3 weeks ago? The word, conformed means to form into an image, or form to be like something. The word transformed, is a similar word, it is metamorphosis, to change into a form. Paul in this verse is telling us to stop letting the world shape your thought life, your desires, your pleasures, your politics, your faith, your finances, your marriage, your vocation, etc. Your thinking needs to change into something new and different; as different as a butterfly is to a caterpillar. Your thinking needs to be in line with the new life you have been given in Jesus and in line with the Kingdom in which you are now part of. You are, in fact, to think like Jesus. Paul would elsewhere tell us that we can because we have the mind of Christ in us with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12-16).

Because so many of us, especially in America, still focus our thoughts on the world, we are having very little impact for Christ in country, we are not drawing people to Jesus. And many of us are hurried, harried, anxious, worried, stressed, and so focused on our toys, and technology, and we do not know how to think like Jesus, and therefore do not look like Jesus in our Character and our Conduct. Watch people, maybe even some of you, this little device (I-Phone) is ever in front of our eyes, while we drive, when we are in a room with other people, even at the dinner table.

Or it could be our homes, our businesses, our gardens, our lawns, our cars, our hobbies, or Fox news. The world controls our thoughts for most of our time. Do you remember the parable of the sower and the seed? Do you remember what the third kind of soil represented? It was full of weeks, and thistles. Here is how Jesus explains it in Mark 4:18-19, "8 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." There is no fruit because the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for things, choke the life out of word, and no fruit is produced.

III. One Thing

In the 1990’s, Billy Crystal starred in the movie City Slickers. It was about three New Yorkers closing in on 40 that were going through what we have called, Mid-Life Crises. To try to figure life out, they go to a dude ranch and become cowboys for two weeks. There, Billy Crystal meets Jack Palance, or Curly Washburn. When the two are alone, Curly, says, that Crystal’s character is typical of the folks that come out here, "You spend 50 weeks a year getting your life tied up in knots and you expect to untie them in two weeks." He then asks Crystal if he would like to know the secret to life." He then holds up his finger, like this. Billy Crystal asks, "The secret to life is your finger?" "No" says, Curly, "it’s one thing." "What’s the one thing?" Crystal asks. "That’s for you to find out. And when you do everything else don’t mean anything. He actually uses another word that we won’t use here. These men will figure out what that is for them. But that scene actually reminds us of what our Lord said in Matthew 6:33. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Or the scene in Luke 10, where our Lord is having dinner at some of His best friends’ home in Bethany. Here is how it reads:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

Now this isn’t a sermon on worry, but it is about being single minded. It’s about bringing glory to our Father by transforming our minds to be think like Jesus. How do we renew our minds? How do we learn to think like Jesus and stop thinking and focusing on the world? The answer is meditation. Whoa!

IV. Pursuing the One Important Thing

Most of you, who are of my generation, have questionable thoughts about meditation because we remember the 60’s and 70’s when along with the Hippy Movement, the Beatles, the Jesus Revolution, the drug culture, and Woodstock, came the focus on eastern religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, gurus, yoga, Zen, and TM or Transcendental Meditation. TM was supposed to help you to empty and detach your mind to help you become one with the universe, have peace, and achieve Nirvana. We envision people sitting in the lotus position and chanting a mantra, like, Ohm.

But that is not what I am talking about. For our study, meditation is the discipline or exercise of intentionally thinking through the word of God. You need to get that and understand it. I didn’t say, to read through the Bible, though that is great. I didn’t say, attend a Bible study, though that also is great. I said, to intentionally think through the word of God.

Paul would tell the church at Colossae that was dealing with false philosophies, (3:16), "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." The Word of God needs to dwell, be at home, be alive and living in you. In order to handle inevitable persecution Paul would tell Timothy, "4 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:14-17)

Turn with me to Joshua 1. Moses, one of the two greatest Oldest Testament prophets (JB being the other), has died, and the Lord speaks to Joshua. He tells him that He wants him to be successful. That’s what the word, prosperous, means. Successful at what you attempt to do. And here is the key to success, Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Vv. 7-8)

Like Mary and Martha, the Lord tells Joshua, the secret of life is to focus on, "One Thing."

David was not only a shepherd, a soldier, and the sovereign king of Israel, he was also a song writer and singer. The 1st verse of his first hit single, went like this:

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper." (Psalm 1:1-3)

Here is a serious question. How many of you would like to hear God speak to you? Is that possible? Yes, it is! Listen to the author of Hebrews. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son," (1:1). God has spoken to us by His prophets, that is, from Moses to Malachi who wrote the Old Testament for us, and recently He spoke to us by His Son, our Lord Jesus. We have His words and actions recorded in the Gospels, and Acts, and Revelation. (2:3), "how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him," Those who heard Him were the Apostles, His brothers and those that they filled in the blanks for like Mark, Luke, and Paul who recorded the New Testament for us. God wants to speak to you through this book. So, again, do you want to hear His voice and know His will for you? I promise you that if you listen to me and do as I am about to tell you, you can hear God every day.

V. Preparing to Meditate.

Over 25 times the Old Testament talks about Meditation. For example, Psalm 63:6, "When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches."

119:148, "My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word."

It appears that David was not a sound sleeper, so what did he do? With no TV, He pulled put his Bible and meditated in it. So, what does it mean to meditate?

The Hebrew word, (and I am not making this up), means to moan. It is the sound that one makes when in deep thought. Hummm!! It came to mean, to ponder deeply, or intentionally focus in thought on something. It is used of an animal that chews the cud. It takes it in, stores it, and then brings it up later to chew on. It means I am seriously going to think about that. I want to ponder what it means and what it means to me, what are the ramifications, the possibilities, and how do I apply this to my life.

So how do I meditate? There is no how to list in the Bible so I am going to just give some ideas and hope they are helpful to you.

1. Find a quiet place and time. For you may it be before you retire at night. For me, it is in the morning often pre-dawn hours. Do not turn on TV, Radio, etc.

2. Make it a daily time – a discipline

3. Start with a prayer like David’s in Psalm 143:5-8, "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.

6 I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah 7 Answer me speedily, O Lord; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit. 8 Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You." But, however you pray, pray for God to speak to you from His Word, Reveal His Will for you, and Show you the Work, He wants you to do.

4. Have a Notebook and pen, or your computer thing.

5. Focus on one book of the Bible. Reading through the Bible is a great objective. But here is a problem; the objective becomes the key and instead of the content. The goal becomes to accomplish the reading. Focus on a book a month or a book a semester. Read it all the way through once, then start on a chapter at a time. You could do a chapter a day, or a paragraph a day, like the Proverbs or Ephesians.

6. If it is possible, have a good study Bible handy. A study Bible will tell you the author, the first recipients of the book, and what the author was addressing. I would recommend a newer translation. Even if you love the KJV, use a NKJV. Otherwise, you won’t know what to do with words like, Conversation, Lasciviousness, concupiscent, or anon. We haven’t started to mediate yet, this is all preparation.

7. If it is a story, try to visualize it as you re-read it. The storm on the Sea of Galilee, a Giant taunting enemy, face to face with hungry lions, a path through the Red sea, A preacher pointing the finger and saying, "You the man!" A repentant son, a gracious father, and an angry brother, watching a crucifixion. The voice of God giving the ten rules for living. A fiancé that says she is pregnant by God. An angel waking you up and opening a prison door so you can walk away.

8. Think through some questions. First, with your study Bible, learn what the author was saying to the original readers. What did this mean to them?

Second, how can you apply this to you? I learned this from one of my professors. Seven questions that you can remember in the acronym ACCEPTS.

• Is there an Attitude God wants me to see and develop? (Phil. 2:5ff)

• Is there a Command that God wants me to obey? (Matt 28:18-20)

• Is there a Challenge that God wants me to accept? (Malachi 3:10)

• Is there an Example God wants me to follow? (John 13:17)

• Is there a Promise that God wants me to claim? (John 14:1-3)

• Is there a Truth that God wants me to accept? (Acts 4:12)

• Is there a Sin that God wants me to confess and forsake (Eph. 4:25)

9. Record, or commit to God what you are going to do with your answers. This includes a prayer. Today, Lord you taught me that…… and I will ….

10. Look for key verses to memorize. These are verse that seem to summarize the main points like John 3:16, 1 John 1:9, or Eph. 2:8-9. Write them on a 3x5 card and memorize them. If it is just a verse a week. Memorize it, pull it out of your pocket during the day and focus on it. David said, "I will hide God’s word in my heart that I might not sin against God." (Psalm 119:11)

If you will listen to me and begin this exercise on a regular basis, I can promise you this.

1. You will be distracted. By the news, the dishes, the lawn, etc.

2. You will be tempted to put it off today and start again on the second Tuesday of next week.

3. It will hurt sometimes, (New exercises often do), as God begins to stretch you and point out some character flaws.

4. You will hear the voice of God speaking to you. (1 Sam. 2:10)

5. You will grow and you will see your character and conduct changing to be more like Jesus because God will use His word, to shape your thinking to that of a butterfly instead of like a world full of caterpillars. You will metamorphose into the image of Jesus. And that, is God’s will for your life (Romans 8:28-29)

6. Your heart will be a fertile field for God to produce His fruit in and through your life. (Mark 4:20)

7. You will find that, if I pursue this one thing, i.e., seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, God will handle all the details of my life. (Matt. 6:33)

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman