New Wine for New Wineskins February 2007

By , February 7, 2007 6:39 am

The Challenge – The Choice – The Change

 

The challenges you face influence the choices you make and the choices you make determine the changes that take place in your life…

The only part of this process that you have little to no influence over is the types of challenge that you encounter.  However, the choices you make in relation to the challenges will determine whether your life changes for better or for worse.

Much of what God has done in Christ has been lost to the church through bringing God's Word down to the level of our experience rather than – by faith – allowing the Holy Spirit to raise our experience up to the level of God's Word.

John 3: 16

16  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This is probably the best known and most often quoted verse in all of Scripture. Billy Graham has said that  "John 3:16 is the gospel in 25 words." And so, from this one verse I want us to see that by bringing this verse down to the level of our experience or understanding we can totally miss the fullness of all that our heavenly Father has planned for us.

For the purpose of this teaching we will break this verse into 3 parts.

1.    THE CHALLENGE

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…

The challenge here is how do you respond to this kind of love – because love that is not returned can never result in a relationship.  At the beginning of 2006 the Lord spoke these words to me regarding the lost – "If you can't reach them with love then they cannot be reached".  In other words – if love doesn't reach them don't try anything else!  Don't threaten people or try and manipulate or coerce them into responding to this challenge of God's awesome love for them!  Those who are not challenged by this statement of God's love for them can never be reached any other way.

1 John 4: 19

19  We love Him because He first loved us

So how do you respond to this kind of love?  If you hear the statement "God is love" and you bring that statement down to the level of your understanding of what love is you are probably going to miss God big-time!

God is love – therefore our definition of love must come up!  In order to understand love you must realise that God defines love.  It is vital that we acknowledge that love is everything God is – not that God is everything that we think love is!

For example, according to Hebrews 12 God chastens (disciplines) His children because He loves them.  In fact it clearly states that He scourges every son whom he receives – that's strong language!

When you are born again into God's family one of the ways that you can expect his love for you to manifest is through discipline!

God's love gave everything – his very best – for us, and so the challenge is are we willing to reciprocate that love by giving our everything – our very best for him?

Remember – every challenge has a choice attached to it.

2.    THE CHOICE

"…whosoever believes in him…"

We have a choice!  Either to respond to his love or reject his love!  But there is only one way we can truly respond – by loving him with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength.  When we choose to love him it is going to bring us into the third part of this verse.

3.    THE CHANGE

"…should not perish but have everlasting life."

Everyone confronted with this love is faced with a challenge – and those who choose to reject his love will perish.  But those who choose to respond to his love will have everlasting life!  Everyone will be changed – some for the worse and some for the better.  Those who reject God's word harden their hearts against him, but the hearts of those who respond to his word become tender towards him.

When we respond to his love eternity is birthed in our hearts – we are changed from earth-bound to heaven-bound!

Romans 12: 1 – 2

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

When we respond to his love and give ourselves to completely to him the transformation that results is like a metamorphosis – it is a complete change of form from one state to another.  We are no longer conformed to this world – no longer shaped and moulded by its faulty standards or controlled by the dictates of political correctness.  We are transformed as our mind is renewed by God's word and our will is submitted to his good and acceptable and perfect will for our lives.

Too many of God's people live in the permissive will of God with a laissez-faire attitude that leaves them as the victims of circumstance instead of giving themselves seeking and living in the perfect will of God as victors over circumstance!

When you are transformed by a wholehearted response to the challenge of God's love and eternity is birthed in your heart you begin to live life from an eternal perspective!  God now comes first!  Seeking the kingdom of God first becomes your everyday practice and statements made by Jesus like "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" and "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead" now make perfect sense from your new perspective.

We have foolishly tried to bring God down into time – but he wants to bring us up into eternity!  When God entered time in the person of Jesus Christ he didn't fit in, he didn't conform – in fact they crucified him!  When eternity is birthed in our hearts we don't fit either!

We need to live our lives from an eternal perspective because we have eternal, everlasting life!

When God comes first his house comes first.

Psalm 92: 13

13 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.

Where you are planted is where you go into the ground and die and come up fruitful!

John 12: 24 – 25

24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

No longer alone!  You come up into fruitful relationships – covenant relationships – and you become fruitful in the works of the kingdom!  You bear fruit that remains for eternity!  

John 12: 26

26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.

Where is he?  He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places with an eternal perspective and that is where he has brought us to and sat us down with him there so that we can have the same perspective!

You are no longer alone – living your own little life in your own little way!  Are you ready to receive the chastening of the Father?  If not, then you are not a son – you are illegitimate!

Do you look for preaching that always comes to pamper you and tell you how wonderful you are or do you desire the entrance of God's word that brings light and exposes the earthly – that comes to loose us from everything that binds us to this world?  Jesus said that it is the cares of this life that can choke the word and prevent us from being fruitful.

We need an eternal perspective because this life is only for a moment – eternity is forever!  

It is time for the Lord's house to be built!  To be planted in the house of the Lord means that you live the vision of the house.  The vision of the house shapes your thoughts and actions and every decision is made with the vision in mind.

Haggai 1: 2 – 11

2 "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built."'" 3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,  4 "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" 5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways!
6 " You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes."
7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the LORD. 9 "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labour of your hands."

Old Covenant?  What has this got to do with us?

Matthew 6: 25 – 33   

25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Are you ready for a change of perspective?  To put the kingdom first?  To be planted in the house of the LORD?  To commit to the vision of the house? To be loosed from everything that binds you to this world and chokes the fruitfulness in your life?  

As you are challenged by the immensity of God's love for you are you ready to respond and make the choice that will result in metamorphic change in your life?  

John 3: 16 – 21

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

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