Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Bethany Bullet - May 8, 2012

It was the week after Thanksgiving 2011.  Our family had just returned from a week-long adventure at Disney World.  We enjoyed the attractions, relished the amenities, and savored the cuisine.  Upon our return I made a visit to the doctor for a regular check-up.  After checking in, and paying my co-pay, the nurse did some initial tests, temperature, blood pressure, and then I had to step on the scale.  Not a test I like very much. 

I have struggled with my weight for much of my adult life.  I have yo-yoed up and down.  I have been on many diets and have gone low-cal, low-fat, and low-carb, with a low success rate.  So there I was on the scale, taking out my cell phone, my keys, my wallet, I almost kicked off my shoes.  I need all the help I could get.  This “test” did not turn out so well.  I saw a number staring up at me that was far north of anything I had ever seen before.  I tried to not let it bother me, but it did. 

After being ushered into the exam room the doctor came in.  We exchanged pleasantries and then there were more tests.  In a self deprecating way, I admitted that I have not been very active, that my diet was not great, but we had been down that road before.  I don’t think my doctor was buying my song and dance this time.  She was concerned about my weight and family history of heart disease. She scolded me and encouraged me to lose some of the extra pounds and then she said that she needed to run some more tests. 

After filling a couple of vials with my blood I thought I was in the clear.  It was a week later when I received a phone call with my results.  It was not the nurse this time, but the doctor on the line.  Her voice stern and serious, she informed me that the tests came back and the numbers were not good.  I believe her quote was something like, “You have gone from someone with an increased risk of a cardiac event or stroke to someone who has a significant risk of an event in the next five years.  It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.  It’s time to tighten up the belt, this is serious.”

In a moment, my life came into focus.  My life was in need of a tune-up.  My family was at risk of losing me.  My walk was poor…in fact there was no walking, let alone any exercising in my life.  My actions were not keeping pace with my appetite. My love of garlic bread would soon make me dead.

A re-evaluation was in order.  A major adjustment in life was necessary and that day I joined weight watchers and am on a journey to get in tune with health.  I have seen some success, my blood tests have shown improvement, the numbers on the scale are better but I still have a ways to go.

Why the story you ask?  Let me ask you a question, “How is your walk?”  I am not talking about your exercise program, although that is important, I am talking about your spiritual walk, your walk in your Christian life.  Are you keeping pace? Do you need a tune-up?  Perhaps it is time for some tests?  Are you nervous, afraid of what the test might show?  Is your life in tune with what Scripture teaches?

If you are brutally honest, you have to admit that your walk is not what it should be.  In reality the tests show you are out of tune with the Holy Spirit, you are in need of a tune up.

We continue to walk in John’s first letter and we are in the fourth chapter.  We will be focusing on the first six verses of chapter four.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone into the world.” (1 John 3:1)

What influences you in your walk with Jesus?  John tells us that there are many false teachers in the world today who are vying for your attention.  What has you captivated?  What controls you?

False prophets may come in many shapes and sizes; they lure us in with captivating messages of power, position, profit, or pleasure. 

Today, John tells us to test these influences or as John says it, “test the spirits”, to measure our walk.

Before we go any further, let us put this in its proper place.  The ultimate test was taken on a Friday outside of Jerusalem, given in blood. The results were delivered on a Sunday as our Savior burst through the open tomb.  Jesus Christ has come into the flesh, he is from God, and he gave up his life on a cross to give us life.  It is because of this great compassion that we live and can walk for him.  He is Risen!  (He is Risen Indeed!)

“This is how you can recognize the Sprit of God: Every spirit that confesses the Jesus Christ has come on the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2-3)

Test #1: Do the things that captivate you make a confession of Christ?  Are the things that control you keeping Christ as the cornerstone?  Is the cross central?  If not, John tells us, they are not from God.  Every time you are gathered in this place for worship you are confessing that Jesus Christ has come into the flesh.  As Paul reminds us in the book of 1 Corinthians, “but we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23a).  Continually confess Christ!

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” (1 John 4:4-5)

Test #2: What is the crowd like that surrounds you?  Who are they associated with?  Who listens to them?  What are the things that have crowded out Jesus from your life?  John gives us some great confidence that the one who is in us is greater than the world but those the worldly things that captivate us walk in the wily ways of the world.  Crowds gather to listen to the corruption the world gives.  How often have you been part of the crowd, perhaps even the crowd that shouted, “Crucify, Crucify”?  What crowd are you a part of?  Remember, Jesus is greater than the crowd!

“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  This is how we recognized the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:6)

Test #3: Is there consistency in the message?  The false teachers of the world constantly change their message.  They do not constantly follow the scriptures.  They walk in their own ways.  How often have you followed?  How consistent is your message?  God doesn’t change.  His message is consistent and timeless.

Is it time for a re-evaluation?  Have you failed the test?  Is your walk poor?  Are you keeping pace?  Do you need a tune up? 
  • Confession 
  • Crowd 
  • Consistency

These are the hallmarks of our walk with Jesus.  John reminds us to continually confess Christ, to come together in a crowd here in worship and to be consistent with the message of hope and love that we have been given.  
  • Will you stumble in your walk? Certainly! 
  • Will the message of the world captivate you?  At times! 
  • Will your witness be inconsistent?  Undoubtedly! 
  • Will you struggle to keep pace?  Indeed!

But we have a God who loves us, who brings us hope, who took the test for us, who walked in perfection, and who will pass us on to heaven.  It was the walk that Jesus took to the cross that now empowers us to walk. 

The weight of sin has been removed.  The actions of Jesus have paved the way.  Now it is time to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.  This is the way to live out the words found in 1 John, “Dear friends, let us love one another.” (1 John 4:7)  Grant this Lord unto us all.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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