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The Bible

6) Standing
2002-07-26

Audience: Awana Scholarship Camp, grade 6-12 who know the Bible really well
Goal:. Instead of thinking about sinful things their thoughts will be shifted to thinking about what the Spirit wants.
Props: Two old shirts, felts. Book, "In His Steps" or What would Jesus do" or a bracelet.

Review
On the first night we said that if we were going to get anything out of our time together we would have to be hungry, eagerly seeking the God we spoke about in the second night who deeply loves us and wants to have an intimate relationship with us. I wont embarrass you by making you answer but how many of us prayed before we came here tonight that we would meet God and be changed forever? Let us do that again.

Prayer
God we are tired with sin
But it beats against us and wants to have us
Constantly we are faced with temptations and our old nature
But our desire is to live for You
So we leave that old life behind
We consider it dead
And nailed to the cross
We have been raised to a new life
And now we live by Your Spirit
Teach us today how to live for You
Teach us to think Your thoughts
To want what You want
To feel as You feel
To love as You love
Let us walk in Your footprints
We pray, amen.

Review and Transition into shirts illustration
We have said that God is so incredibly huge that He fills the entire universe and if we were going to talk about one thing that is so big about God that it leaves us in awe it would be how great is His love for you. It is God's ambition to live within your heart, to make you His temple, His holy dwelling place. We have also been talking about sin and how we used to try to live our lives without God. But God saved us and now we live for Him. Old habits die hard though and although we are on the right path it is as if we keep tripping and falling. Almost as if we are walking along and all of a sudden we see something in the ditch and we start looking at and before you know we fell head over heals onto it. We have been wondering how we can beat these old temptations and today we are going to learn that we have to take our eyes off the things on the side of the road and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. But first of all let us talk about those things that distract us.

Shirt Illustration
Remember how we talked about how sin is like mud splattered all over us and how when I was a child I used to run through the house with my muddy shoes on. Remember how mad my mom would get at me and rightfully so. Now what we are going to do here is similiar to that. What I want you to do is to think of some things that tempt us to look away from Jesus into the world. When you get one raise your hand and I'll point to you. Tell us all what it is then come up here and write it on this shirt I am wearing. Everyone watch and see how bad I am going to become. Okay I've got the first one, "drugs" {Write out on shirt} Whose got the next one?

Now look at all these nasty things that are on me. How ever will I get rid of them? Let me read you a verse from Colossians 3:9,10 "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge and in the image of its Creator." Now this shirt is the old self and written on it are all its old practices. These are the things I am supposed to take off. But how do I do that? Earlier in the chapter it says, "Put ti death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature." Right on that means I am supposed to kill them. Things like sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language. All these gotta die. Let me show you what it looks like to kill them {rip shirt off your back}. It means to take them out of your life and throw them on the ground. Then you look them straight in the eye and say, "Hey, you are dead. You have no more control over my life. In fact, you have no more power in my life and I will not give into you no more. Ha!" And why are we able to do this? It is because Jesus set us free. When we came to Christ we left that old life behind, we have died. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20 ) When we are baptized it is proclaiming that we have died with Christ (that is why we are lowered into the water, it is a symbol of having been lowered into a grave) and now we have been raised to a new life.

Now let me show you this new life because it is not that we just get rid of all the bad things and then stand there naked wondering if everyone thinks we are a freak. And I don't say that too lightly cause some Christians feel like a freak, they look at their friends and they are living their life over there and they look at their own life and feel naked and wonder if God is just a big spoil sport. No, God is not a spoil sport, He has come to give us life and to give it in the full. (Jn 10:10 ). We do not stay dead. Christians aren't a bunch of dead people, that is what the world is like - that is what life was like when I wore that shirt - it was like death - so empty and without God. Christians are those who have life. Now watch what happens because Jesus gives us His shirt. I quoted Gal 2:20 earlier, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.... but Christ lives in me." Did you hear that? Christ now lives in you. In fact, Christ gives you His life, He gives you all the good things He did and now you get to wear them. It is like He takes off His shirt and gives it to us {put on new shirt}. In our verse in Colossians it says, "and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Col 3:10 ) So what are the things that written on this shirt? Let me give you the first one, it is love. Write really big in the middle of the shirt then have them write the good things on it. Take a look at the rest of the chapter it starts listing a whole bunch of great things like compassion, kindness, humility. What else does it list that we don't have written on here yet?

Review
So now we have begun to unlock the secret of how to live for God. The first step is to rip off the old shirt which is to crucify the sinful nature and to count ourselves dead to them. This is saying, "No more, you are no longer part of my life" This is what you did on Tuesday night when you burnt up those things that were holding you back.

The second step then is not to just stand there naked but to put on the righteousness of Christ. Now for the last 10 years I have been seeking to understand what this is all about, that is why I am so passionate about it. In these studies I have found three passages that tie together so beautifully. The first one we have already started looking at and will come back full-circle to at the end and it is found in Colossians chapter 3. So stick one finger there and memorize that reference. The second is Galatians chapter 5 and we are going there next so keep a finger there too. The final one is Romans chapter 8 and we are going to go there later.

Galatians 5 - Live by the Spirit
Our passage in Gal 5:16 starts off with the key to overcoming that old life, it reads, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." There are two really amazing keys in this passage. The first is that we are to" live by the Spirit", which we'll have to wait till we get to Romans to explain what that means but for now we know that we are to "live by the Spirit" The result of this is that we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. That reminds me of the key verse on temptation found in James 1:14,15 which says "but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" They key from that verse in James is that temptation always starts as a little desire. Something withus that creeps up and says, Hey, wouldn't it be fun to?" Now the temptation could be all sorts of things. For some people it is taking drugs or going back to smoking. Others it is things like bugging ones sister or yelling at the kids (which would not really be fun but something withus really wants to do those sort of things from time to time). Othertimes it is passing on a secret or telling others the latest news about Suzie. Notice that all these things start with that little itching desire that suggests an idea. To beat temptation then we have to stop it before it starts. We all know that as soon as we start thinking about, even if we don't plan on doing it, just think about it, then our minds just gets all carried away and before you know it we just have to do it. The key then is to stop the temptation where it first starts, that first little nudging "Hey wouldn't it be great to?" I have tried so many times to do that on my own strength. I just sit there and go, "I'm not going to think about it. I'm not going to think about it." Well guess what happens?

We need a better solution. Now in case anyone is lost let me summarize what you need to get out of what was just said. "Temptation starts off very small as a little tiny desire to do something, if you want to beat temptation, stop it at that first thought"

This is where Galatians comes in. Galatians says, "live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature". There is that word desires. In other words if you are living by the Spirit you won't be giving into those desires. Exciting isn't it? Now Galatians goes on and explains why you won't give into it, get a load of this. "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (Gal 5:17,18 )

You see they are like two sides on a tug-of-war. If you are pulling with the Devil you are going to do what he wants but if you are pulling with God then you are going to do what He wants.

Then it goes on and explains some of those nasty things that the sinful nature does, these are the same as what we wrote on the first shirt we ripped up. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal 5:19-21 )

Then it goes on and explains what will come out of our life if we live by the Spirit which is the same as this new shirt we are wearing. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

To tie it all together Galatians comes back to that whole part about ripping off the shirt and telling it "You have no part of me anymore" Here it goes, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." (Gal 5:24 )

To summarize it then. Temptations starts as a tiny little desire but ends up with all sorts of rotten things. To beat it you have to stop it at the very first sign of it. So instead of pulling with the Devil, pull with God and your life will be filled with the things of God. Just in case your not sure at that time which you really want to go with, just remember that since you belong to Jesus you have already given up that old life with its passions and desires, so just go with God.

Okay, so we now know that if we "Live by the Spirit" then we won't be "Living by the Sinful Nature" This is really cool but what does it mean to "Live by the Spirit"?

Now it is time to go to Romans. Romans 8:5 . "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." You guys need to memorize that verse too. In fact you should memorize all three of these, hey why not memorize the whole Bible.

Let me make it really simple. One of my favorite sports is Mountain Biking. In mountain biking I love to find a beautiful piece of single track that comes flying down the side of a mountain. The whole thing about a single track though is that it is just that, a "single" track. That means it is very narrow and so it has branches and trees pushing up on either side and sometimes even smacking the biker in the arm. That is not all that bad it is when I have to steer inbetween two trees and try with everything I have got not to hit either one of them that makes it hard. We have a saying in mountain biking, "You will go where you are looking." If I am ripping down this trail and I see a tree and I say to myself, "I'm going to hit the tree, I'm going to hit the tree." Guess what I am going to hit? Rather what I need to do is focus my eyes about 10 feet ahead of me on the trail because where my eyes are looking the bike will follow.

It is the same with your life. If you spent all your time thinking about your sinful nature and what it wants. "Wouldn't it be great to do this, wouldn't it be great to do that?" Guess what you are going to be doing all the time.

The opposite is also true. If you spend all your time thinking about what God would want then you are going to be doing what He wants. This according to Romans is what it means to live by the Spirit: Simply to set your mind on what the Spirit wants. It all comes down to mind-set then.
This brings us full circle right back to Colossians chapter 3 which says, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ [that is the whole part about not just standing there naked after dying but raised with Christ to a new life.], set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Col 3:1-3 )

Okay, one more summary. Since temptation starts off as a desire we have to stop it right then when it stops. To stop it we must live by the Spirit because the spirit desires what is opposite of the sinful nature. To live by the Spirit is to set our minds on what the Spirit desires. It is all about mind-set then, specially to have our minds set on things above.

Someone once wrote a book about all this, his names was Charles Sheldon and his book was called, "In His Steps". It was a long time ago that I read the book but I found it very life changing.

So it goes, a pastor named Henry Maxwell is interupted while he is finishing writing his sermon for Sunday morning when the doorbell rings and he has to answer it because his wife is out. Well when he opens the door there is what a appears to be a tramp (A dirty shabby man), asking for work. But Henry is kind and tells him he knows of none. The man leaves and Henry get's back to work. Henry was proud of his sermon, until the next morning at church, after the sermon is over the man(supposed tramp)burst into the church and runs up to the front of the church where the pastor is. He tells them he is no tramp nor drunk. But he is searching for work and everyone has been rude to him, and he really questions them and what it is to follow in Jesus steps.

So starts the amazing revelation of the First Church of Raymond, Henry is so moved by the question "What would Jesus do" which has now become a famous saying all over our culture, that he asked anyone who is willing to meet him in a room after the service if they are willing to take a pledge to ask the question "What Would Jesus Do?" no matter what the consequences of anything including: Around 50 ppl in the first week promise to take the pledge. Which changes the course of life not only in Raymond, but in many other cities to come as well.
(Amy from Salem, Oregon USA, December 1, 2001 on Amazon.ca)

Some have said WWJWFM? or "What Would Jesus Want For Me." But I guess that's too much for a bracelet or a bumpersticker. Either way I like how it is focusing on what God desires or fixing our minds on things above.

Conclusion
So here is the challenge. It is time to start filling your life with these good things of the Spirit. Don't try to cram them in there but simply fix your mind on God. A preacher long long ago once said that if you stare at the sun all you can see is the sun. Likewise if you stare at the Son of God all you can see is the Son of God. Even greater than this, you will become more like Him and you will begin to be that which you have already become.

Let me close with the verse the Junior Varsities studied today. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 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." (Rom 12:1,2)

Prayer


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