Sunday, October 15, 2006

House of Faith - Part 2 - The Thinking Pillar

WELCOME

Last week we began our series ‘The House of Faith’, by discussing the importance of the foundation of our faith being the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets, with Christ Jesus as the Cornerstone holding it all together.

Our faith, or house, is built by God.

Psalm 127 says that unless God builds this house, those who are building it are wasting their time.

But for God to build our faith, we must have the correct foundation, or else the house we build will not stand.

This is why we see people in life who become Christians, and they may be Christians for years, but the first storm in their life devastates them, and they lose their faith and interest in serving God.

This happens because they were missing the most important key to their faith, and that is the proper foundation.

Once we have the proper foundation, then God can build us.

Last week we read in the scriptures that when God builds us, we flourish!

This week we will take a look at one of the first things God does with us as He builds on the foundation that we set when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, and give Him control of our lives.

The first thing God works on with us is our thinking.

Today we will see how our thinking is the beginning of us becoming the NEW CREATION we are promised to become when we accept Jesus.

We will se how important it is for us to have the right thinking before we can move forward in our growth, and how we already have the wrong thinking, which the devil will try to use against us in his attacks to keep us from moving forward in a better relationship with God.

It is that wrong thinking we have inherited with our sinful flesh.

That thinking that leads us down the path of destruction.

That thinking that keeps us from ever truly knowing God, and what godly living is all about.

That thinking that needs to be erased and replaced by God’s word.

So let’s begin with our scripture reading today and see how God begins His good work in us by building upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ, and His first wall or pillar, our thinking.

SCRIPTURE READING

II Corinthians 10:3 – 5

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

PRAYER FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT AND UNDERSTANDING

Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

We need to constantly remind ourselves and remember that our battle is a spiritual one, and our minds are the battlefields.

We must remember Ephesians 6:12 – 18 “For we battle not against flesh and blood…”

Though the devil may use people to attack us, they are not who our battle is truly with.

It is with the evil spirit, the force behind the actions of others.

This is one of the reasons it is so important for us to forgive others.

They are usually unwitting pawns to the evil plot of the devil.

Even when on the cross, Christ gave us an example to behold.

He stated in the midst of being crucified by those He came to save, and called to the Father in heaven and cried, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus’ strong rebuke to Peter when Peter failed to see the big picture and God’s will in Jesus’ death on the cross, shows that even the elect, the Apostle Simon Bar-Jonah, who would later be called the Rock because of His unwavering faith, was an unwitting pawn to the influence of the devil.

“Get thee behind me Satan.” Jesus exclaimed.

As Satan whispered in Peter’s ear, to try and prevent Jesus from fulfilling God’s will.

God, through the Holy Spirit, has given us divine power to destroy Satan’s strongholds.

These strongholds are sometimes in our lives.

Sometimes they are in our workplace or homes.

Sometimes they are in our country.

But God has given us authority and power through Jesus Christ, to destroy these strongholds of the devil.

We are to destroy arguments, or anything contrary to God and His word, which arises in our minds.

And we take captive, or control, of EVERY thought and MAKE it obedient to Christ.

The house of faith represents a person, our family or a church. And the armor of God is like our roof, protecting us from the devils attacks just as a roof of a house would protect us from storms.

We know that to have a roof, we must have something under it to support it.

And we talked about how every construction must start with a foundation. And every foundation must have a cornerstone if it is to be strong.

Our cornerstone is Christ, and the foundation is built from there with the teachings in the word of God, the Holy Bible which gives testament from beginning to end of Christ.

Our foundation began with salvation and baptism, and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave us this example when He was baptized.

God proclaimed Him as His son, Jesus expressed outwardly to all those watching that He was washed cleaned spiritually through baptism, and afterwards, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.

We are to follow this example in our lives today by accepting Christ’s FREE gift of salvation, then getting baptized to show outwardly to all what has happened inwardly, thus opening the door for the Holy Spirit to come into us and our lives.

It is only then that God can work in our lives, and we can be true servants to the Lord, for nothing is possible without the Holy Spirit, for it is not us, but God within us that do these good and holy works.

But once we have this foundation, we’ve accepted Christ, we’ve been baptized and the Holy Spirit has entered us and our lives, we make Christ the cornerstone of our lives and the Bible the foundation, but we can’t have a roof without pillars or walls to support it.

You don’t place a roof upon a foundation.

You could, but no one could enter that house!

I’ve preached before on scriptures about works.

How after we have accepted Christ we must be DOERS of the Word, not just hearers.

Faith without works is dead.

Salvation is free,

Following Christ costs little,

Serving Christ costs everything.

Through works, we serve our Lord.

So what are some of the things we must do?

There are 4 pillars, or walls that hold up the roof, which is our protection and armor in the house of faith.

Each one must be preformed in the sequence we are going to be studying them.

They work together, but the beginning of each pillar is a result of the previous one.

The first result we have is the beginning of the Thinking pillar.

This is the first of the 4 pillars and the focus of our study today.

The thinking pillar is the result of accepting Christ and the foundation of our house of faith.

We begin to think about ourselves and the lives we’ve been living.

We were probably told that now that we are saved, we are NEW creatures in Christ, and the old has passed away.

We may even ask ourselves, if the old has truly passed away, why do I still struggle with the things my old self did?

Because, our old selves developed habits from serving another master, regardless of if that master was our self, the devil, or what ever.

When we accepted Christ, we gained a new master, the Lord.

And we are new creatures in Him.

But sinful habits of the flesh that took years to develop cannot be changed over night.

My grandfather smoked for many years.

He got cancer and almost died from it.

He quit smoking Cold-Turkey.

After 40 years of smoking a couple packs a day, he just quit.

He went from being a chain smoker, to being a non-smoker instantly.

He was a new creature.

But, the habits he developed over smoking for 40 years took time to get rid of.

After we ate at a restaurant, I would see him holding his straw like a cigarette.

Or, when he would get up in the morning to have his coffee and do the crossword on the newspaper, he would hold the pen like a cigarette, sometimes even putting it in his mouth.

Though he was a new man, some of his habits took time to get rid of.

These habits didn’t make him a smoker again.

Though he had habits and I’m sure temptations, he never smoke again after that.

He had changed his thinking.

He decided in his mind that he was done smoking, and he just stopped.

And he decided in his mind that he was not going to go back to it.

This is true repentance.

The act of repenting begins with your mind deciding!

It’s not the temptation that destroys us in our lives; it’s the giving in to it.

The beginning of the thinking pillar is a result of our salvation.

God is beginning to grow us and build us just as He promised.

I Samuel 2:35

“I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.”

When we allow God to raise us, as it says in 1 Samuel, or build us as in Psalm 127, we do what is in God’s heart and mind.

What’s in God’s heart and mind is His will.

And we know God’s will because it is in His Holy Word.

And we read His Holy Word because it is the foundation of our faith.

God promises that He will FIRMLY establish our house.

Philippians 1:6

6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Once God begins this work in us, He will continue until Christ returns.

So if we don’t see ourselves growing, we need to examine ourselves and see what is happening that is preventing us from this continual growth that God’s Holy Word promises.

Sometimes it’s sin.

This is why I always pray for conviction of sin within the congregation.

This way if we are doing something that is preventing God from building us, we can repent and ask for forgiveness and keep moving forward in our relationship with God.

The Holy Word promises that if we do what is in the heart and mind of God, (His will) He will firmly establish our house, and once we’ve accepted Christ and He has begun a work in our lives, He will not quit, give up, or forsake you.

He will continue until you are complete on that day Christ returns and we receive our resurrected bodies which are perfect and eternal.

God builds our thinking pillar by teaching us where all evil and destruction begins, in our minds.

The thinking pillar represents our minds, the thinking, imagination, reason and intelligence.

One of the things Jesus asks us to DO once we are saved is;

Matthew 22:37

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'”

He understands that where our mind is, the rest of us will follow.

So how do we love the Lord with our mind?

He tells us;

Philippians 4:7 – 8

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, 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.”

We need to filter out the garbage that comes into our minds daily. This is why it is so important to guard ourselves against what we see and hear.

It’s like the old saying we had in advanced computer programming in college.

It’s really simple;

“Garbage in. Garbage out.”

If your information you put into a computer is garbage, that’s exactly what you will get out of it!

If you spend your free time filling your head with ungodly things, this is what is going to fill your heart.

Everything you see, read and hear is stored in your heart.

And remember, the scriptures say that it is whatever comes out of a man’s mouth is what defiles him...

Why?

Because what you speak is from the overflow of what is filling your heart!

By the way, if you’re filling your head with music, they don’t have to be singing about the devil for that music to be harmful to you.

There are many negative messages that you can pummel yourself with again and again just because it’s got a good beat. And you may not think your hearing the lyrics, but your mind doesn’t miss a word.

And if you really want to know what your filling your head with, read the lyrics sometime and ask yourself, does this offend God?

If so, if you keep filling yourself with it, your heart will fill, and you will speak it from the overflow of your heart and eventually you will be the one offending God.

The same goes for television.

It’s not harmless entertainment if it offends God.

And it doesn’t have to have bad language and nudity to break God’s heart.

God understands us because He created us.

Our thoughts must be on Him; meditating on God and His word.

Our imaginations can lead us to sin; this is why Jesus warned us saying,

Matthew 5:28

28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Why did He say this?

Because He understood that once you start THINKING it, your body will follow!

Our reasoning can be dangerous as well.

The devil loves to debate and in doing this he can cause confusion, or doubt.

He will lead you to believe that you are smart enough, or educated enough to see things and understand things better than most people.

Therefore, you understand what the scriptures really mean, although your interpretation may contradict the character of God.

And he will get you to question the word of God, thus making it useless.

We need to make sure we filter what comes into our minds, whether it be music, or television, even conversations.

Remember, the devil tries to make things that are bad for us look good, so we unknowingly take his poison which will destroy our lives.

Rat poison only has .005% poison in it.

The rest of it is good food that rats love. Looks good, smells good, you would think it’s good. But it kills them.

On the outside, 99.995% of the rat poison was good. But that .005% of poison kills them.

We need to renew our minds, our thinking when we accept Christ.

Some of us accepted Christ years ago, and He began to do a work in us through our thinking, but we have not done what we aught.

We haven’t changed our thinking; we haven’t resisted the temptations that lead us down the same path which resembles our old selves.

We are resisting the Holy Spirit and His work within us.

We need to have a funeral service for our old selves. We need to accept the fact that our old selves are dead!

We are no longer the creatures we once were, and we need to destroy these habits from our former selves that the devil is using against us in our lives today.

Feeding us the lies that, you haven’t changed. You’re the same old person. There is nothing different about you.

Or, you’re fine the way you are. You and God have an understanding. You can’t help these things; it’s just the way you are. And God knows this.

Or my favorite, “God loves you just the way you are.”

Well that’s partly true, He loves you despite the way you are, and He wants to transform you into the way you were meant to be.

And when we mess up, we need to remember, it’s not the way you are, it’s the way you WERE, and as long as you let the devil convince you otherwise you can not grow because the Lord can’t work with the old you, that’s why He came into your life and the old you died.

That’s why God gave you the NEW you, because the new you loves God and the new you wants to please God and the NEW you wants to allow God to grow you!

Ephesians 4:22 – 24

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

II Timothy 1:7

7For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.”

Philippians 2:5

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Today is the day you put the habits of the old you in the grave with the old you!

Today is the day you accept the new attitudes in your mind.

Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

PRAYER

Lord,

Let us be mindful of the words which were spoken by the prophets, and the apostles, the Holy Word of God which gives testimony of you Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Let us give our minds to you Lord.

Staying sober and alert, full of hope to the end for the grace, that is to be brought unto you.

We bury our old habits with our old selves.

We accept this new creature you have made us.

Make our minds like yours.

Bring our thoughts into submission of you.

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