Character

MORE THAN JUST A ROCK

Last month Debbie and I were in western Pennsylvania visiting our grandson, Wyatt (Oh yeah, and his parents). Since Wyatt at age 1 is already a prodigy, we took him to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

One of their exhibits is a stunning collection of minerals and gems. In darkened rooms, beautiful gems and crystals are displayed in individual brightly lit acrylic cases. The shapes and colors of these crystals can be otherworldly.

Yet, seemingly incongruent to the beauty of these gems, was that on the outside they just looked like plain rocks. It was only when the rocks were broken open that their striking beauty became evident.

As I walked through the collection, I wondered, if those who discovered the gems knew what was inside these plain looking rocks before breaking them open.

It was only later that I considered how these gems illustrate a truth about every believer.

At first glance, most of our lives appear mundane and even misshapen. Yet within our lives, God is forming a beauty that is actually dazzling. If you think I am exaggerating, consider how the Bible describes our future in 1 John 3:2.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when (Jesus) appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”

The Apostle John is describing what Paul calls our “glorification”, when our character is brought to the same beautiful perfection as that of Jesus!

There are significant implications of our transformation:

 1.  God should be regularly praised for this work which is taking place in this very moment.

2.  Although we are plain and perhaps misshapen, we also have God given beauty in us. If God sees beauty in us, faith and obedience obligates us to agree.

3.  Every true believer has the beauty of God’s gracious work in them. Although we still see (and at times feel) their rough exterior, we are also responsible to acknowledge the work of God within.

4.  We may see people around as lives which are ordinary and even ugly. Yet, every life will shine in beauty when it is broken open by the gospel.

AN IMPERISHABLE BEAUTY

I Peter 3 4 Ritaby Debbie Huber

 

Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  I Peter 3:4

The “hidden person of the heart” that is referred to in this verse is our true self.  We are to adorn this true self with a gentle and quiet spirit.  In her book, “True Beauty”, Carolyn Mahaney conveys that this simply means to trust.

A gentle and quiet spirit is a woman who meets hardship, insults, sickness, rejection, and loss with trust, or a calm confidence in God.  She trusts because Jesus has proven trustworthy when He suffered on our behalf. There is no situation where we cannot trust His love for us. 

When she is facing unkindness, even if it is unjust, she does not hold onto bitterness or strike back.  She knows and trusts that Christ endured unjust suffering – in our place – so she can endure when she is sinned against.  When confronted with fearful situations, she trusts because she knows He holds all frightening things in his hands.

The gentle and quiet spirit promotes the beauty of Christ as she adorns herself with good works.  She does not rely on her good works to improve her standing before God because we are able to stand before God only because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  She does good works because she has received forgiveness, not to earn forgiveness.  She is unafraid to step into the messiness of the lives of others because she desires to extend the love and grace she first received from Jesus. 

This trust and good works reflects the heart of God and shines His beauty to a lost and dying world.  And this imperishable beauty, “in God’s sight is very precious.”

TRUE BEAUTY WOMEN’S CONFERENCE

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by Debbie Huber

 

“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  I Peter 3:4

It is reported that Jennifer Aniston spends $140,000 a year (or $8000 a month) on her beauty regimen. She is a very beautiful woman and obviously works hard at presenting herself as beautifully as she can, trying to “hold back the hands of time”. 

While very few people will spend nearly that much on our beauty regimen we still are very concerned about how our outward looks appear to the world. But as we all know outward beauty does not last forever. 

We live in a world where a woman’s identity is often defined by how she looks, what she wears, or how she feels about herself.  The Bible speaks to us about an imperishable beauty that should shape our identity: true beauty beholds and reflects the Glory of God.  We reflect His glory as we gaze on it and become completely satisfied in Christ and His beauty. 

Greentree Church is presenting a Women’s Conference entitled “True Beauty”.  The conference is scheduled from 6:30pm to 9:30pm on Friday, April 29 and from 8:00am to 12:00 pm on Saturday, April 30.  

This free two day conference will focus on who we are in Christ and challenge us to reflect His beauty to a world that seeks beauty that is unsatisfying and fading. Whatever your season in life, beholding the beauty of our Savior deepens our love and satisfaction in Him alone.

All women are invited to attend this conference. There will be Biblical teaching, worship, and small group interactions. A special continental breakfast will be served on Saturday morning.

Invite someone to come along with you!  This is a great opportunity for you to invite an unsaved friend or someone in our church who needs to be connected. A personal invitation can make all the difference. 

You must register online and can do so here

Registration deadline is Monday, April 25. 

DON’T CONFUSE KNOWLEDGE and MATURITY

What defines spiritual maturity?

Whatever your answer, it should be connected to having an accurate understanding of God and his character. However, maturity is not measured by the amount of theology we know, it flows out of how closely our character mirrors that of Christ.

My favorite passage to define biblical maturity is Ephesians 4:13

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

Paul is talking about the equipping of God’s people and he says the culmination is the “fullness” of Christ’s character.

This should be more than a subtle hint that we still have a lot of maturing ahead of us.

There are other passages which confirm character as the measurement of maturity:

Galatians 5:22-23 which describes the fruit of having the Holy Spirit working in us.

1 Corinthians 13 which tells us that even with knowledge, gifts and faith, we are “nothing” without love.

Keeping the emphasis of maturity on character is important because we are easily deceived into thinking that our increasing knowledge of biblical truths is a proof of our maturity.

Yes, increased understanding is an irreplaceable tool for maturity, but of itself it does not produce maturity.

Paul Tripp addresses this topic in his article entitled “Don’t Confuse Knowledge and Success with Maturity”

We are constantly surrounded with opportunities to exercise biblical character. Some of these are how we act when no one can see us. Others come when we decide how we will respond to what others are doing around us or to us.

Let’s look at all of these moments as opportunities for maturity which are pleasing to God and important for being used by Him.

CHRIST FORMED IN YOU

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Every Christian is meant to become like Christ.

Every Christian one day will see this come to a complete reality.

For every Christian, that day has not arrived – yet.

These truths should make us interested in reading the book, Christ Formed In You by Brian Hedges. This is because we all need help in this process.

“Christ Formed in You” provides both solid biblical rooting and helpful practical guidance in this all important process facing every Christian.

Here is a sample, under the category of “Ten Ways to Kill Sin”:

1. Yield yourself to God
2. Accept that the battle never ends
3. Take God’s side against your sin
4. Make no provision for the flesh
5. Use your spiritual sword
6. Aim at the heart
7. Replace sin with grace
8. Stay in community
9. Look to the cross
10. Depend on the Spirit

Becoming more serious about becoming more like Christ is not only a worthy process – it is an entirely good process. Christ is entirely good and so is being entirely committed to him!

Here is another encouragement, the power of God is what makes this possible happen. We don’t have to (and cannot) pursue this purpose in our abilities or wisdom.

I recommend that you read “Christ Formed in You” with a highlighter and notebook in hand. There is also a study guide of this book for use with small groups.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.19.15

Transformed Community

 

Colossians 3:12-17

by Paul Long

 

What should you wear to church? 

In Colossians 3 Paul describes a way we should dress that will absolutely transform the community of our church.

He gives us qualities of a transformed community that should characterize our life together. 

Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Meekness and Patience

These virtues are like articles of clothing we are to put on as Christians. 

It is within our relationships that these virtues must be put on, and it is within our relationships that we grow in the practice of these virtues. 

Let’s look at each virtue and see how putting each on transforms our community.

1.  A Compassionate heart

Compassion is how we feel about and toward one another. 

Putting on a compassionate heart means that when we see or hear about those that are in need we are moved to do something.  That means we need to be aware of what others are going through.  Compassionate hearts flow from the compassion we have been shown by our Father.  Psalm 103:13

2.  Kindness

Kindness is speaking and acting with tenderness and sensitivity. 

3.  Humility

Pride threatens community life.  When we are prideful we compete with others for glory.  Pride is a concern for my own personal glory and greatness.  Humility is the opposite it’s living for God’s glory.         

Humility is deferring to others –counting others as more significant.  We allow the needs of others to rise above our own.  Phil 2:3

4.  Meekness

Meekness is strength under control.  When we are hurt or offended, though we could retaliate, we don’t.  We respond with grace and gentleness.  The meek are willing to put up with what others throw at them. 

Do you struggle with being meek?  Consider the meekness of your Savior, the greatest example of meekness the world has seen.  Jesus was all powerful, yet submitted to God’s will completely. 

5.  Patience

Patience is how we respond toward others when they are not acting the way we want.  Patience is being long suffering when we are being insulted or hurt. 

1 Corinthians reminds us “Love is Patient.” Our love for others is expressed when we are patient with them.  If we are not patient, we are failing to love and we are failing to grasp God’s love and patience toward us. 

Patience is often tested in the context of community. 

Losing our patience is sin that needs to be repented of.  In the context of confessing our sin of impatience to God, we should be reminded of his patience with us.  2 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim 1:15-16

God is patient.  How many times since become a Christian have you messed up?  How patient has God been with you? 

 

Practicing these virtues will transform the community of our church,

At some point someone in this church will do something that bothers, offends or hurts you. 

In addition to putting on these virtues we are to be

[13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

One way our community is transformed is that we are able to bear with one another’s shortcomings and quickly forgive one another’s faults. 

When we are slow to forgive we must look to the cross.  In v13 we are instructed to model our forgiveness after the forgiveness God has shown us.

What offense of yours is God still holding onto?  What have you done that God has not completely and totally forgiven?  God has completely forgiven us – we should forgive others in the same way. 

What offense are you holding onto today? 

Like a good belt – love binds every virtue we have put on together in perfect harmony  v14

Love is the motivating factor behind each virtue Paul mentions.  Love is the strength behind bearing with one another.  Love is the reason we forgive. 

Paul says v15 let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body

The word “rule” literally means to umpire.  In our church community peace is to be our umpire.  The peace of Christ is to be the decisive factor in our lives – it should be given preference over all other concerns and interests. 

We are called to relate to one another in a way that shows the peace Christ provides for us by his death and resurrection  v15

Our community is transformed by word ministry and worship ministry.  vs 16-17

“Let the word of Chris dwell in you richly.”

We do this on an individual and corporate level.

We individually allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly as we read the Bible. 

There is also a corporate word ministry – as we gather together to hear the word preached and speak the word into one another’s lives. 

Part of our life together is word ministry.  It is when we teach and admonish one another.

Teaching can be gathering as the church body to hear the word preached OR sharing with your small group OR the simple act of speaking a word of encouragement into the life of another believer. 

To admonish is to speak a word of correction or warning, to strongly encourage someone in a direction or choice.  Admonishment is the application of teaching in our lives. 

As we teach and admonish we do it “in all wisdom”, wisdom that flows from the word of God we have allowed to dwell richly in us. 

How we teach and admonish matters. 

That brings us back to the five virtues, and love as the motivation for all of our interaction together. 

A transformed community is a community that overflows in worship to God v16 

When we allow the word of Christ to richly dwell in us, it will overflow and transform our community. 

How is your life transforming this community of believers? 

How is your life transforming the world around you?

 

A SURE FIRE WAY TO BUILD ROMANCE!

Romance is usually seen as candles, dinners and carriage rides

But that doesn’t always work out so well . . .

One man thought he had conquered the problem of trying to remember his wife’s birthday and their anniversary.  He opened an account with a florist, provided them with the dates and instructions to send flowers along with an appropriate note signed, “Your loving husband.”

Months later, his wife was thrilled by this new display of attention and all went well until he came home, kissed his wife and said offhandedly,  “Wonderful flowers, honey. Where’d you get them?”

Flowers and dinners are certainly appreciated, but for romance to grow for life, it needs to run much deeper

The best way to build romance is by being holy

Our failures and struggles in relationships are spiritual/heart issues

The pursuit of holiness turns us from being self-centered to being loving

Your spouse will think it is very romantic that your attention is given to serving them!

Holiness removes distractions,

. . it smooths our jagged edges,

. . and it clears away the gunk that clogs our relationships

Holiness forms us into a more desirable person     

Our culture is obsessed with having and preserving physical beauty

But physical beauty doesn’t hide sin – just ask the beautiful people who regularly get divorced

Physical beauty will fade – 100% of the time!

By contrast, inner beauty will keep growing with age and time – and it never grows tiresome  

This is why the Bible gives us this advice:

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife”  (1 Peter 3:2-4 & 7)

No one wants your marriage to be more fulfilling than God

And no one can do more to make that happen 

 

HATE THE WAIT?

I don’t like waiting. Actually my attitude is more aggressive than that – I hate waiting.

I detest waiting in line; I am annoyed at waiting for my turn to talk; I hate waiting for unpleasant things to go away; and I’m not happy about waiting for exciting events to arrive. “Now” always seems like a far better option then waiting.

However, I have noticed that God is not impressed or moved by my attitude toward waiting. This is obvious, because He keeps me waiting on a regular basis.

Brett Campbell does an excellent job of laying out a more healthy (i.e. biblical) perspective of why God seems to thrust waiting so regularly into His dealings with us. I think you will find his article, “Why Does God Make Us Wait?”, to be very helpful.