Sunday, February 16, 2014

ACT QUICKLY: FOLLOW THROUGH ON YOUR COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST

ACT QUICKLY!
Jesus tells the story of a man whose house was possessed by a demon. When the demon was cast out, the house was swept out and empty. After the spirit went through out waterless places, searching for new residence, it thought to come back to it's old place. It found the place empty and so returned with 7 more spirits and Jesus says, "The last state is worse than the first." (See Matthew 12:43).

The problem? The newly cleaned house wasn't filled with God. It was left unoccupied (See vs 44). When Christ cleanses you of your sins that is the time that you fill your "house" with the things of the new Christian life. That way when old friends and old habits come a knocking on your door, they find no welcome. So Act Quickly and make those changes in you life. Otherwise, well, an empty house is just like an invitation for the past to creep back in. 

I'm studying Acts 8 today for my sermon on Church Growth: No Pain, No Gain. In the text there is the story of a man named Simon, who was a magician, pretending to be a real power. He was carnal. Through a little setback and correction, he came to the right place of repentance and prayer. That way he could grow. 

His story reminds me of the place in Acts 19:19 when magicians were turning from their magic arts and they were burning thousands of dollars worth of books. Now how's that for commitment! When we have committed to following Christ, we need to do likewise, otherwise there may be a temptation later to turn back to those old things. It wouldn't look too good to Christ if he came visiting and there were the Magic Books on your bookshelf. 

Think of the things of your past life. Have you "burned" them so you can't return to them? Or are you hanging on to them "just in case" you have made a mistake and don't want to be hasty? Maybe you aren't trusting that you can make it without those old "tools of the trade". I remember an old friend of mine who formerly was an expert heating and air guy. When he made the decision to do the Lord's work, he got rid of the tools of his past life because he didn't want the temptation to go back to them. 

I usually discourage people from burning bridges. They might be an important opportunity gone forever. But when it comes to things of the old life that can't be practiced as a Christian, burn them up. Trust in God. He will give you much more than you imagine. Jesus promises. 

"29And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothersb or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life." Lk 18:29,30. 

Getting back to church growth and Simon the Magician. New Christians are imperfect. That's why they are called babies in Christ, 1 Pt 2:1,2. But there must be spiritual growth. It comes by prayer, Bible study, fellowship, correction from loving friends, and even from articles like this. Take these things with a sincere heart and make the changes you need to today. When Simon was corrected for a momentary lapse into his past carnal mindset, he quickly asked for prayers that he not fall away. 

I will pray for you. 
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"A preacher that won't spend personal time to study the Bible isn't worthy to be called preacher. Bible study is not study of books by men who do Bible study. Bible study is Bible study. One who isn't willing to do this, should go find another job." - Anonymous

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