Message Notes Cheltenham and Frankston
The start of a New Year is a wonderful time to consecrate yourself afresh to God. Consecration includes the idea of being dedicated to some purpose or cause. As a Christian it is giving yourself – everything you are and everything you have – for the purpose of loving and serving God. There are almost 50 references in the Bible to “consecrate” or “consecration.” In each case it has to do with the setting a part of an individual or thing for the purpose of the worship & work of God. However, there are things at war against us in our desire to be consecrated. These are the things the Bible refers to as idols.
Text: 1 Corinthians 10:1-15
1 Corinthians 10:1-15 NIV
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry." We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.
Example Note Title
A survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them: 1. Materialism. 2. Pride. 3. Self-centeredness. 4. Laziness. 5. Anger & Bitterness. 6. Sexual lust. 7. Envy. 8. Lying 9. Gluttony Q. So, how can we overcome the temptation to idolatry and consecrate ourselves to the Lord? A. The Discipleship Journal Survey respondents noted that temptations were more potent when they: 1. Had neglected their time with God (81 percent) 2. Were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by: 1. Prayer (84 percent) 2. Avoiding compromising situations (76 percent) 3. Bible study (66 percent) 4. Being accountable to someone (52 percent). These are the best ways we overcome the temptation to idolatry and consecrate ourselves to the Lord...
Time with God
Survey respondents noted that temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God. Prayer Matt 26:40-41, “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.” Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Bible Study Ps 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Matthew 4:1-11) Spending time with God brings us into line with His will and purpose and fills us with His Spirit and truth that gives us victory over temptation.
Avoiding compromising situations
Survey respondents noted that resisting temptation was accomplished by avoiding compromising situations: 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, “Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." Quote: “Every time you run with the wrong crowd, you do wrong. When you are with the right crowd, you do right.” The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about this:
Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Example Note Title
Proverbs 16:17, “The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.” Proverbs 13:20, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Stay away from places, people or things that tempt you
i.e. Opening your life to one or two carefully selected, trusted, loyal close friends (peers) who speak the truth – who have the right to examine, to question, to appraise and to give godly advice. Proverbs 13:10, 14, 18, “Wisdom is found in those who take advice...The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death...He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honoured.” Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Cf. Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Example Note Title
John Wesley was so concerned with building a righteous fellowship that he devised a series of questions for his followers to ask each other every week. Some found this rigorous system of inquiry too demanding and left. Today, the very idea of such a procedure would horrify many churchgoers. Yet some wisely follow just such a practice... 1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite? 2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate? 3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told me in confidence? 4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits? 5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying? 6. Did the Bible live in me today? 7. Do I give it time to speak to me every day? 8. Am I enjoying prayer? 9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith? 10. Do I pray about the money I spend? 11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time? 12. Do I disobey God in anything? 13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy? 14. Am I defeated in any part of my life? 15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful? 16. How do I spend my spare time? 17. Am I proud? 18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican? 19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it? 20. Do I grumble and complain constantly? 21. Is Christ real to me?
Example Note Title
Accountability to God is inescapable. Matt 12:36, Jesus said, “I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Rom 14:12, “...each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Accountability to spiritual leaders is profitable. Hebrews 13:17, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Essential Reading: Undercover & Honour’s Reward by John Bevere Accountability to one another is helpful. Gal 6:2, “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” James 5:16, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Quote: “…Behavioral sciences in recent years have expounded the simple truth that ‘behavior that is observed changes’. People who are accountable by their own choice to a group of friends, to a therapy group, to a psychiatrist or a pastoral counselor, to a study group or prayer group, are people who are serious about changing their behavior, and they are finding that change is possible. Studies done in factories have proven that both quality and quantity of work increase when the employees know that they are being observed. If only God knows what I am doing, since I know He won’t tell, I tend to make all kinds of excuses for myself. But if I must report to another or a group of others, I begin to monitor my behavior. If someone is keeping an eye on me, my behavior improves.” Quote: “Apart from blunt truth, our lives sink decadently amid the perfume of hints and suggestions.”
Rest & recreation
Temptations are more powerful when we are physically tired Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 6:31, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Ps 23:1-3, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Quote: George Fox, the well-known Quaker, "Carry some quiet around inside you. Be still and cool in your own mind and spirit, from your own thoughts, and then you will feel the principle of God to turn your mind to the Lord from whom comes life; whereby you may receive the strength and power to allay all storms and tempests." Ps 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God.” We can only beat the enemies of consecration as we regularly apply ourselves to following these four simple steps: 1. Spending time with God 2. Avoiding compromising situations 3. Being accountable to a trusted friend or two 4. Making sure we enjoy regular rest and recreation A commitment to these things will bring about a commitment to be a consecrated vessel in the hands of God... 2 Tim 2:20-21 (AMP), “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honourable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honourable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.” ~ what a great way to start a New Year!