Change Your Life From the Inside Out
There are two types of people in this world. Those who love change and those who hate it. For some, change brings new beginnings, journeys into the unknown and every once in a while, a new arrangement for their living room furniture. For others, change brings journeys into the unknown, fears of not knowing what's ahead, and learning new ways to do the things they've always done.
Jesus talks about change in the Beatitudes. Which is why we've been talking Beatitudes on Sunday morning at my home church, Clarity Church. The Beatitudes, found in Matthew 5, demonstrates above all things that God path to changing our lives and our path look somewhat different. For some of us, we've studied this little section of the Bible many times. And for others, we've never studied it at all.
In this sermon, Jesus is teaching about the kingdom of heaven. Every verse unpacks something unexpected for us. To be great, you must become less. You get the kingdom if your poor in spirit instead of entering like a king. We'll be comforted if we choose to mourn. We'll inherit the earth by being meek and choosing to not look out for # 1.
I'm honored to have a pastor who invited me to use my gifts of teaching at our church and continually wants to challenge me when it comes to speaking and teaching. So this week, I'm up.
To be honest, developing a message on this one verse has been challenging. For starters, it's one verse. I like a little more material to start with. For the other, I have definitely not mastered God's ways on hungering and thirsting for righteousness. How can I speak on it?
But sometimes, serving with your gifts includes the courage to step out when you have no idea what you're doing. Sometimes you embrace the challenge and accept that while it may be difficult, God can work through. Sometimes, you embrace learning and growing in the midst of serving. And so here we are. The day before Sunday. Putting together my thoughts.
So, what can we learn about this one verse out of thousands in the Bible?
Our faith is not a checklist
When my pastor first asked if i would be interested in teaching one of these verses, I ignored his request. Business has gotten a little busier on the copywriting/web design/freelancing side, and I just didn't have time to consider.
Fast forward several weeks and I'm standing in his kitchen because Mrs. pastor and I are heading out to go someplace. He asks me again. Two asks has to be a God thing, right?
I say yes, and we pour over the Sermon to see which verse is the best fit. As I scroll through the list, I hear myself out loud. No, not that one. Definitely not that one. Nope.
Before I knew it, I had run out of choices and made the Sermon on the Mount a checklist of things I had accomplished. The reality: this sermon and our faith was never been a checklist.
You see, my pre-Christian days were spent trying to be good enough for God. I was a good person. Check. I did my best to be honest. Check. I honored my parents (mostly). Check. The problem with checking off the list was I never knew when I had arrived. When I was good enough.
After starting a relationship with Jesus, I adopted a different checklist. Now I was not trying to good enough for heaven, but good enough to win approval. From God. From family. From friends. I was on a never-ending treadmill to perform and accomplish and well, just do things right.
As I studied this passage, the one thing that stood out to me is that you can I can't make our faith a check list or to-do list. Faith is about our hearts. God cares less about your finishing your Christian to do list and more about where your heart is when it comes to Him. So take time and reconnect your heart with God.
Righteousness is an overflow of our hearts
I did some study here. You see, righteousness means be approved or made right with God. In the Bible, there's a righteousness that we receive when we trust Jesus to pay for our sins. Imputed righteousness is when Jesus declares us right due to his death on the cross. As long as you're trusting Him to pay for your sins - you already have this.
But most scholars agree that Jesus isn't talking about this kind of righteousness. Instead, there is a righteousness of being made right and doing the right things that is different. There is a righteousness that comes from the overflow of a changed heart. When we hunger and thirst for a relationship with Jesus, the natural overflow is a changed heart which results in a changed behavior.
We are filled when are hands are empty
I know what your thinking. Say what? But it's no typo. In my study of this short little verse, I discovered this promise. When we allow God in and give him permission to change our hearts, the promise is filling or satisfaction. We won't really want.
But how does this work exactly? Well, for starters we stop trying to fill ourselves with the things that don't work. Big careers. Position. Perfection. Food. Homes. Cars. You name it. Whatever you keep sticking in your heart to find peace or fulfillment.
God asks us to lay those things down. He has a better way. Only He can satisfy those heart desires with a living water that flows. His job is to fill. Our job is to empty our hands so we can receive what He's pouring out.
Today is sermon prep day. I practice what I've written. I lay it down. And let God pick up the work of changing hearts with the words He's given me. For some reason, this one hasn't settled for me - but in true One Foot fashion we trust Him more than we trust our own instincts. We let His ways take over.
So for today, I'm choosing to lay down my checklist and picking up what God is offering.