Leveling Up

Posted on 08/19/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:

I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer and i believe that this prayer for us my dad and me will come to pass. I ask for just a prayer of healing for health, and mental well being. My brothers i call you to action when one part of the body suffers we all suffer please pray 4 us
- PamelaLee1969 Resident

discipline
- honeyab Resident

My girlfriend, my everything, was just told she might have spinal cancer today. She's had a very rough life, but God as seen her through every step of the way. Now I'm terrified he's going to take her away from me and her daughter. Please pray for her health.
- TheLeviathan Resident

everyday stressers
- honeyab Resident

Please allow God's blessings to work in the life of my daughter and I freeing us from negative chains which bind us. We ask for peace, strength, and a closer relationship with God. Please give blessings to my friends and family who are equally in need and let me be a help to them
- Maisy Warwillow



YOU ALONE

I will bow down
hail you as king
I will serve you
give you everything

I will lift up
my eyes to your throne
I will trust you
I will trust you alone

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone I long to worship
You alone are worthy of my praise


MAKES ME WANT TO SHOUT

When I think about the Lord
how he saved me, how he raised me
How he filled me with the Holy Ghost
He healed me to the uttermost

When I think about the Lord
how he picked me up, turned me around
How he set my feet on solid ground

Makes me want to shout
Hallelujah, thank you Jesus!
Lord you're worthy
of all the glory
and all the honor
and all the praise!


I'M AMAZED BY YOU

You dance over me
while I am unaware
You sing all around
but I never hear the sound

Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
how you love me

You paint the morning sky
with miracles in mind
My hope will always stand
for you hold me in your hand

How deep (how deep)
How wide (how wide)
How great (how great)
is your love for me


*** listen to the audio for the introduction ***


Today, I've borrowed the seven main points of the outline for my message from something written by Pastor Festus Adeyeye, who makes seven really good observations about the topic of moving to the next level in our walk with God.

And the title of today's message is, "Leveling Up."


Most of us are familiar with Deuteronomy 28:13 (NKJV), which says this:

13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.

Most of the times I hear this quoted, I hear only part of only the first half of this verse: "the head and not the tail; above and not beneath;" The condition is usually left out, and I suspect many Christians don't even know there IS one.

But even the secular world knows that doesn't work. Just consider the popular ad campaigns. Publisher's Clearing House, for example, repeats over and over that "If you don't enter, you can't win!" They don't just say, "You're going to win ten million dollars!" That would be false advertising. And in most countries, false advertising is illegal.

But that doesn't stop us Christians from using it. In fact, we use it all the time! How? By omitting the parts of our covenant with God that we don't like.

In fact, most of the promises we quote from Scripture have conditions attached.

For example, we all know John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes upon Him shall not perish, but will have everlasting life."

Of course we can see the condition in this verse, but it seems rather easy: "Whosoever believes." But later in Scripture, Jesus said that even the demons believe.

In John 8:51, Jesus gives the promise that we will never see death. And once again, there is a condition. But at first glance, it looks like a totally different condition.

John 8:51 (NKJV)

51 "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."

So which is it? Will we have everlasting life if we believe in Him? Or will we have everlasting life if we obey His word?

The confusion here comes only from our misunderstanding of the word translated in John 3:16 as "believe." The word Belief, in a moral or religious context, means this: conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul.

Put more simply, true belief, in this context, is a trust in God which produces such a strong conviction, that it changes a person's life so that they obey that in which they believe.

Let me say that again: True spiritual belief is a trust in God which produces such a strong conviction, that it changes a person's life so that they obey that in which they believe.

That's the condition. Jesus said we will not see death (eternal death)... if we obey Him. He said we are His friends... if we obey Him. That is the condition -- a belief that can be seen in our obedience.


So... Would you believe me if I told you this message is NOT about obedience?

I mentioned the point of obedience because it's a really good example of a spiritual law. Things have to happen before things happen. Jesus had to die for our sins before they could be permanently wiped away. And we have to believe upon Him, which includes committing ourselves to obey Him, before that transference takes place.

And now that THAT unfortunately controversial point has been made, let's get into today's message.


Have you ever felt as though you've hit a brick wall in your walk with God? Or as though you've become stuck and stagnant? Or as though you've been moving backwards?

If you've been walking with God for any amount of time, the answer to all three of these is probably "yes." I know it is for me.

Well, have you ever considered that God's will for you is NOT that you stay where you are with Him, and it is most certainly not that you lose your first love.

And today, I'd like for us to take a look at those seven points I mentioned, seven things we should do to move forward, and consider how we can "Level Up" in our walk with God.


1. Be Strong in the Lord.

Ephesians 6:10 (NKJV) says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."

When we think about being strong, we think about someone who works out, or someone who has a stiff upper lip. But this does not tell us to just be strong. Rather, it tells us to be strong.. "in the Lord and in the power of His might."

It's not YOUR strength that's important here; it's HIS. And it not YOUR might that gives you strength; it's HIS.

Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we have been saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. It's God's strength, given to us by grace, delivered to us through faith -- and we cannot have true faith unless God grants it to us, because it is a spiritual gift that we cannot produce apart from Him.

And it is that saving grace that sanctifies you daily. It sets you apart, marks you for service, distinguishes you from those who are not walking the path of life.

And what does Titus 2:11 and 12 say about this grace?

Titus 2:11-12 (NKJV)

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.

So it is this grace of God that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.

God's grace gives us strength. It enables us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

And this strength is not just for ourselves; it also enables us to serve God by serving others. Serving promotes, sustains, and preserves your next spiritual level.

When did Hannah move out of where she was, a barren wife who seemed to be stuck in that barrenness? It was when she attached service to her prayer to God. She prayed that if God would give her a son, he would be dedicated to serve Him. Her son was dedicated to the service of God, and so she conceived.

In 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV), we read this:

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Paul was saying that it was the grace of God that was responsible for his service, and because of that service, God's grace toward him was not in vain.

You are not called to be lazy. I know that's upsetting to a lot of us. But before you start trying to thump my avatar through your computer monitor, consider that this is what the Bible says. It says that you are called to labor. You are called to serve.

It is God’s grace that saves you, sanctifies you, empowers you for service, and sustains you. Being a Christian does not mean that you will not encounter challenges; quite the opposite is true. What God's grace DOES mean is that you won't check out as a result of those challenges; you won't lose your testimony; for His grace is sufficient for you.


So first, we need to be strong in the Lord, trusting completely in His strength, and following Him on the path of obedience and service.


2. Be Single Minded.

James 1:5-9 (NKJV)

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Single-mindedness is focus; and it is the condition of being free from diverted attention. We talked about this a few weeks ago, on July 29th in the message titled "Focus", and if you missed it, I encourage you to look in the Service Archives at almcyberchurch.org.

To over-simplify it, there are two things that can help you be single-minded: First of all, clearly define your desired end; second of all, focus on the benefits of taking consistent action to meet that goal.

Verse seven says that if we doubt, we're like a wave tossed around by the wind, and that we shouldn't expect anything from God; if we doubt that God will do what He promised when we meed the conditions, then we are double-minded, and we are unstable in everything we do.

That's the summary of what double-minded means in this context: we are acting on God's promise by asking Him for something He's promised to give us when we ask, but we are doubting that He will give it.

And the opposite of that would be that we act on God's promise, which is obedience, and we have the desired source of obedience, which is belief.


So we need to be strong in the Lord, and we must be single-minded.


3. Be Disciplined.

What is a disciple? A disciple is someone who is disciplined. And what did Jesus say? He said we are His friends and His disciples if we do what He says. Discipline is doing what is right and following orders rather than doing what you'd rather do instead.

I've come to the following conclusion: Becoming a disciplined person takes discipline. Start small. Deny your flesh and do what God says instead of what you want just a little bit more. Build up your strength, keeping in mind that you can do so because of God's grace.

Here are a few areas of discipline:

TIME

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV)

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Have you ever known someone who consistently does a million things, is part of a million activities, works, volunteers, serves the community, serves the church, spends time with their family, and still has a social life? I know people like that, and I've always wondered how in the world they get all that done without going insane.

But every single one of us has exactly 24 hours in our day, seven days in our week, and 52 weeks in our year. What makes the difference is their focus. They are wise with their time, and that makes the difference between an ineffective life and one that is overflowing with purpose and life.

And it all goes back to discipline. Start being a little more disciplined with your time, and keep increasing that discipline just like you'd build up a muscle.


CONSUMPTION

The Bible speaks strongly against gluttony. It also tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Most Christians I know are destroying their bodies on a daily basis. And I've done my share of it too. It's so easy to do, and it can be quite enjoyable, at least while you're doing it.

Sadly, most people take better care of their cars than they do of their bodies. But you can replace a car, while you have only one body. And it's lack of knowledge. People don't know, or they don't really believe, what kinds of harm they're doing to their own bodies and the bodies of their children. And I would encourage every single one of us to start spending a little bit of time every single week researching the effects of what you eat, and choose to consume what brings you life, not just what makes you drool.

Just a side note here: did you know that, while your taste buds are in your mouth, how things taste to you is all in your head? By changing your attitude about what you consume, you can change your taste. Seek for life from what you put in your mouth -- eat what will give it to you -- and then savor the wonderful taste that God has put in it (after all, everything He made, He made good). And I guarantee your outlook on food will start to change for the better.


TEMPERMENT

We should be disciplined in our temperment. Do you always seem to see the negative in everything? Do you expect bad things to happen? Do you approach people and relationships wondering whether you'll get what you think you need from them? Do you get angry with people and lose your temper? Do you always rush around, trying to make things move faster, instead of living a life of peaceful thanksgiving and smelling the roses along the way?


These are important areas of discipline in which every single one of us needs to grow -- our time, our temperment, and what we consume. And living a life of discipline is something we are all called to do.


4. Be Sound in Your Faith.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KMV)

15 Diligently study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, correctly understanding and teaching the Word of Truth.

In countless conversations with Christians, I've discovered that many of them, maybe even most of them, don't really know what the Bible says about so many things. In discussions, they'll quote what someone said, or Scriptures out of context, but it seems obvious that they haven't really searched the word of God, or they haven't done so with an open mind that is willing to give up what they already believe.

If you don't know the truth, you can't walk in total freedom. Jesus said that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. So spend time in the Scriptures. And spend time on your knees. The two work intimately together, and every single one of us desperately needs them both.


5. Be Strategic in Your Living.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (NKJV), Paul writes this:

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

Being strategic means you have a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.

Proverbs 30:24-28 (NKJV) says this:

24 There are four things which are little on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
25 The ants are a people not strong,
Yet they prepare their food in the summer;
26 The rock badgers are a feeble folk,
Yet they make their homes in the crags;
27 The locusts have no king,
Yet they all advance in ranks;
28 The spider skillfully grasps with its hands,
And it is in kings' palaces.

What do all these examples have in common? They are examples of preparation, association, and stratigic living. And this connects back to single-mindedness and discipline. Think about how your actions and attitudes during your time every day are shaping your future, and choose to be strategic in your living.


6. Be Steadfast.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

This goes back to discipline and grace -- our labor is not in vain.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

So many people give up right before their breakthrough. They were not steadfast. They were not immovable. They started thinking their labor, their sacrifice, was in vain. They grew weary while doing what was good. And they did not reap the rewards. But we SHALL reap the reward, in due season, if we do not lose heart.


7. Be Spirit Filled.

Ephesians 5:18-21 (NKJV)

18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

This isn't an option that we can take or leave; rather, it's a command. And I encourage you to take a few minutes, right after this service, to write this down somewhere. Put it on your fridge, or some other place or places you'll see it every day. And as you read it, ask yourself if you're following and if you're about to follow every single point:

- Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs;
- Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
- Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
- Submitting to one another in the fear of God.

And this doesn't say we should be filled with the Spirit just SOME of the time; rather, the original Greek could be translated "be being filled." It's a continual thing. It doesn't start for a few minutes and then stop while you're doing something incompatible with it. It's not a one-time event; rather, it's a lifestyle. Be being filled. At all times. In all places. Under all circumstances. Be filled with the Spirit.

This means that we should be led and controlled by the Holy Spirit. We should live under His influence in our daily lives. And this is going to cause you to ceased to be ordinary.

And how can you know that you're filled with the Spirit? Well, you're going to start to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-24 (NKJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Seek after more of the Holy Spirit, and after the spiritual gifts. And when you seek and keep on seeking, God has promised that you will find.


Let's end today's service with a time of worship, prayer, and ministry.

You're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front. And let's just spend a few minutes letting the word of the Lord sink in and take root, as we let God speak to us.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, just instant message one of us; or if you're listening from another location, you can go to almcyberchurch.org and click the Pastor's Offices or the Prayer Room, and contact us there.


*** closing prayer ***