Two truths about you: And by “you” I mean those of you who are real disciples of Jesus - one who has surrendered your life to him
· Truth #1 - You have been redeemed (saved, transformed, bought back from the dark side)and have become a new person entirely.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
· Truth #2 - You are being redeemed (in the process of redemption) and are being transformed
We are transfigured, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. 2 Corinthians 3:18 The Message
“what we are now in Christ we must yet become” Jerry Sittser, A Grace Revealed
· You are complete yet are being completed. You are already but you are not yet.
Let me illustrate these two truths with an image: (insert image or images of Michelangelo’s’ The Prisoners attached to Planning Center)
· Michelangelo saw himself as on a mission to release those prisoners from the marble. He had the capacity to see a figure hidden within the marble before he began to sculpt. Whatever he worked on he did until perfection and then continued to move on.
· God is the artist and he sees who we have become. He sees us as new creations buried within the marble of habits, behaviors, patterns, choices, lifestyle, environment . There is work yet to be done…redemption must continue.
Now let’s talk about the process of redemption, ..the process by which we are gradually “released” from our “marble” (redeemed/transformed)
For us to be redeemed it will take a combination trial and training, pain and practice, adversity and discipline.
In other words, there are two paths to ongoing redemption:
Path 1 - trials /pain/ adversity
Path 2 -training/practice/discipline
Path 1 is the one we would rather not have to take. Pain, tragedy, illness, disaster. But if we let it, it is a powerful way to redemption. After a season of pain most of us look very different
We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
o Personally - 2013 was a year of pain but hopefully one of redemption
o the key to this is surrender with an open palm and not a closed fist
§ closed fist = blaming, bitterness, anxiety
§ open palm = acceptance, patience and perseverance
Path 2 though less painful is also not our favorite thing…training – discipline – practice – prioritization … it takes a significant amount of energy and determination
I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27
As, perhaps, uncomfortable as it is to take path 2 it is absolutely necessary for our ongoing redemption. Jesus referred to it as taking up your cross, daily!
It’s this second path (training – discipline – practice – prioritization) we will explore the next three weeks:
o What do I need to do in my life to hasten my ongoing conversion?
o What practices must I commit to that will enable me to be transformed?
o What discipline must I enact that will allow God to continue to transform me
And in particular how must I prioritize and focus my life to facilitate my redemption?
Especially how must I prioritize my time….my talents…and my treasures.
In two weeks we’ll discuss prioritizing our treasures…nest week our talents…and today the prioritization of our time.
Message Part 2
Just when you get the urge, the impetus, the resolve to reprioritize our time (as is rampant this time of year) stuff happens.
· Like the whole world is keeping an eye on us and is set to pounce at our best intentions.
But let’s be honest – it’s not everyone else’s’ fault, is it?... that we waste time, that we fritter away time, that we poorly manage the time we have.
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
―Stephen R. Covey
Most of us spend too much time on what is ridiculous and not enough time on what is important.
Until you get a handle on how you manage your time you will stay unredeemed, unfinished, undeveloped …locked in marble.
God has made his desires about out time clear to us:
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness Matthew 6:33
Then there is this concept in the OT that we must pay attention to – the concept of firstfruits:
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. Proverbs 3:9
Firstfruits were quite literally what it sounds like…the very first fruits you pick off of your tree. Give them to me in sacrifice.
Before you eat them, before you sell them, give them to me. Give me the very first and best.
…and give them to me right off the top…I do not want the bottom of the barrel. I do not want your leftovers!
As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. 2 Chronicles 31:5
· This concept of firstfruits is huge in the Bible. Firstfruits were to be given of: grain, wine, oil, wool, honey, fruit, and crops in general.
· Firstfruits was an early concept of prioritization – taking off the top that which was highly valued and giving it to God.
· Firstfruits was and action that was the expression of an inner attitude that the best of my stuff should go first to God.
In an agrarian society that largely meant crops. In the 21st century it means those things that are most valuable to us:
· 3 things are most valuable of the things I possess: Time, Talents and Treasure.
And I would suggest that the concept of firstfruits is still in play today.
Big Idea –
If we are to continue in our redemption we must practice giving off the top of our lives to God our time, talent and treasures. And when we do not only will we be transformed but we will be blessed!
In one of the most eye opening statements in the Bible God offers a huge challenge – “test me in this”…I dare you…give me off the top…give me your best…and let me show you what I will do. I will bless your socks off.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:10
…this dare was in reference to material resources (or treasures) but think about it in terms of everything you values:
Let me take some liberties and paraphrase Malachi 3:10:
Give me the best hours of your life investing your talents. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:10
Give me the best time of your day. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:10
Time with God. Time with God in daily communion. Time with God in weekly worship. That’s what he wants. Off the top…set aside…untouchable.
· every day in the best part of your day when you are the most fully awake and alive…give me time.
· every week…no matter how busy your life…no matter how many soccer games your child is required to attend…join the family of God in worship.
Test me in this…and see what will happen…watch the redemption that will occur…you will be a different person. I promise.
Jesus himself is the best example we’ve got of taking time off the top…giving God the firstfruits of his time for communion:
Mark 1:35 page_____________
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
· Early/dark/got up – first thing, before anything else
o Jesus was a morning person
o Now, if you are not a morning person then…it doesn’t matter – you must choose to take your most precious time – off the top
· Left/solitary – away from others – solitude and silence
· He prayed – communed with his father
o Listening, (both silence and the Bible) , speaking, processing (journal)
What happens in those 10 minutes? Or 30 or 60?
· Sense of grace and mercy
…The stuff that chips away at the marble and brings redemption
You MUST take time off the top of your life, do it ruthlessly, do it religiously, do it regularly…and continue your redemption.
And…you must worship weekly.
1 worship experience per week minimum. Just like Jesus did:
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. Luke 4:16
There is something astoundingly essential about corporate worship. When the people of God gather en masse to praise and pray…to learn and emote…to commit and to rally…something happens to us – redemption continues!
Back in August we took an entire month to look at the importance of regular corporate worship.
· Corporate worship reorients us away from our pain, our anxiety and depression, our petty self-centeredness and our sin unlike anything else on this planet.
· The presence of God melts hard hearts and revives dead hearts. Intimacy with God strengthens my self-image as one who is beloved.
· Corporate worship has a propelling effect. It acts as a catalyst
o Corporate worship is a shaping experience…it forms and informs who we are in this world.
Unfortunately many of us, as it is with daily time with God have treated weekly worship not as firstfruits but as bottom of the barrel…if I have time, if I do not have work to catch up on, if my kid doesn’t have a thing., and worst of all, if I feel like it., then we’ll go to church.
And that has to stop. Because your redemption depends on it.
…and by the way, you are also depriving your children of redemption – you want to see them emerge from the blocks of marble…get them to church every week.
To continue our redemption we must practice giving God, “off the top”, our best time with Him in communion and in worship.
Now let’s be honest. This will take effort.
It is a fallacy to think that one just needs more time. Unless a deeper solution is found, “more time” will just fill up in the same way as the time we already have. The way to liberation and rest lies through adecisionand apractice.” Dallas Willard
· decision – set the alarm earlier, turn off the TV, shut it down earlier before you go to bed, find a place, get your Bible, decide what you will do…it will take decision
· decision – honey, we’re going to go to church before we go out of town, we’re not going to tailgate at the game until we go to church, we are not going to allow our kids to join that league because it means we’d miss church too many times…
· decisions…and practice…habit, over and over, again and again…
Whew…sounds like work!
The spiritual life is a life of interaction with a personal God, and it is pure delusion to suppose it can be carried on sloppily” Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines
So…here’s the challenge – 90 day challenge…