Sunday, January 27, 2019
We are in a series of teachings on the theme of Distinction.
As we will see in the few passages we are about to read distinction is a byproduct of faith. By that, I mean that faith’s main purpose is not to distinguish us but it is to please God, to guarantee our place in the presence of God. It is a gift from God.
But as we diligently seek to keep our faith and grow our faith, we find that there is this absolutely awesome thing happening in our lives: God is distinguishing us.
In Malachi 3:18 God said:
“And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
We have said so far that distinction can be defined and summed up in an equation:
Difference = not being the same
DISTINCTION = DIFFERENCE + DEMARCATION => fixing a boundary or limits of something
DISTINCTION = DIFFERENCE + ESTEEM + HONOR => Respect and admiration
DISTINCTION = DIFFERENCE + EXCELLENCE => Being outstanding, extremely good
DISTINCTION = DIFFERENCE + IMPORTANCE => having great value, great significance
DISTINCTION = DIFFERENCE + EMINENCE => Fame, recognized superiority
DISTINCTION = DIFFERENCE + WEALTH => Abundance of valuable possessions or money
Today we are going to take a look at a few scriptures that will give us practical applications of faith that produces distinction.
- Success comes to those who are persistent
Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally, he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
I will be blunt with you: don’t expect success or distinction by doing some things only occasionally.
What is this adversary you want to have removed from your life? Students, is it procrastination? Is it an addiction to something?
Well this year, have faith that if you set your mind getting read of it and your remain persistent in going to God with the issue he will distinguish you.
God said you don’t receive because you don’t ask. Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened.
The key is persistence. Don’t stop until the cause has been removed.
- Choose your pain: discipline or regret?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NI
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Discipline is the ability to give yourself a command and obey it.
Discipline is doing what you know you have to do to accomplish your goals whether you feel like it or not
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs a ton.”
It takes discipline to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone or playing games.
It takes discipline to forgive people who wronged you.
Nothing in life comes easy. It takes hard work, sacrifices to achieve success, to win. This process causes pain. However, this pain is soothed by the glory of victory.
On the other hand, there is the agony that comes when we realize that our lack of discipline has cost us the victory. Regret sets in and its pain can sometimes be more agonizing than the pain of disciplining oneself.
– my 600-lbs life – lack of discipline in the area of diet.
– the NBA finals last year Warriors vs Cavs, first game JR Smith grabs an offensive rebound, there is a couple of seconds left in the game. The game is tied. All he has to do is put up a layup…
- Follow the example of one who’s been there and done that
Mark 8:22-25 NIV
“They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
That my friend is a huge problem and it explains why many of us are not distinguished and lead below average Christian lives: we have a dim view of Jesus. We don’t see him clearly. And as a result, we have a wrong understanding of who he is what he’s capable of.
Just like the blind man, when we became Christians, Jesus touched us. We can see now but until seek a second touch from the Lord our vision and view of God will be limited.
This second touch comes when we seek the deeper things of God.
The deeper things of God are revealed to us by faith and when we commit to prayer and study of what he has said.
I want to say to you that way to journey into the deeper things of God begins when we take him at his own word and just believe.
Consider Jesus for a minute: many things were said about him in the Old Testament. In the gospels, your hear often refer to what was said about him. In other words, Jesus conditioned his walk and life in such that the promises of the Father come to pass.
See these scriptures:
Matthew 8:16-17 (NIV)
16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
Luke 24:27 (NIV)
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:44 (NIV)
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Luke 4:17-21 (NIV)
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
I imagine him saying: look I only have a short time to live yet so I can afford to squander what opportunity I have to bring to pass what God has said about me. This he chose the pain of discipline including being humiliated, despised etc in order to reach his goals. He lived a purpose driven life.
We may find ourselves in one of 3 categories.
- Like Jesus, we have heard the Lord speak to us and give us a promise that speaks of his will in our lives
- We have never heard anything at all either because we are so new in the faith that we don’t recognize his voice or he indeed has not spoken.
- We don’t know God at all having not accepted Jesus as our Lord.
In either case, you have an amazing advantage this year because the Lord has said that this is the year during which he will distinguish you. So trust and believe that
- The promise can come to pass this year.
- He can speak to you this year
- He can bring into his family
What you need to do is tell yourself that you will use the remainder of the year to position yourself to receive, hear and be saved.
- Decide to be a “prayer” who seeks God wholeheartedly in the same way that Jesus sought the Father in the morning daily.