Father, we will come before you. We’re so grateful that you have prepared a place for us that we are known by you in such a way that you would know the number of hairs on our head that you would know us before we were created.
Lord, you said before the foundations of the earth were laid, you had chosen us and you had known us, God. You are good to us. Father, thank you for being a good, good dad. Father, on this day where we celebrate parenthood as we celebrate the moms that have been so good to us, we also just look at you and just remember that all beautiful and good gifts have come from you. God, we elevate your name.
We praise you. Pray for today. I pray that our hearts are stirred by your word, that our hearts are stirred by the songs that we sing. God, thank you for the moms once again. We love you. In Jesus name. Amen. You may be seated. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. To the grandmothers. Happy Mother’s Day to the single moms. You’re heroes. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day to the empty nester moms, those who have finished the job sort of to the stay at home moms to even if you have a pet and that’s what your mom is, too, or you’re the mom to a pet.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, to whoever you are. Happy Mother’s Day and a special Happy Mother’s Day to my mom sitting over there. Hi, Mommy. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you. And also to my wife. She is the greatest mom, in my opinion to our oldest cadence and our our son, Ezra, who’s our little boy. And on this special Mother’s Day, we’re excited to announce that we have a third on the way.
So, yeah, number three is coming soon. Coming late twenty twenty one. Baby number three, it rhymes. Pray for me, baby. Number two, if you think about it, baby number three, pray for me. We’re super excited. And again, happy Mother’s Day. It’s a it’s a special day. I know there’s so many of you who have been like a mom to me in this church. I feel like in many ways I’ve grown up here learning from you and sitting at your feet.
And I’m just very grateful for all that you guys have poured into me. And so whether you are a mom today or just like an aunt to someone else or whatever, you are very special. You’re special to our church family and certainly you’re special to me. But that being said, let’s get into our lesson today. If you have a Bible, would you please go out and turn to mark chapter one? We’re going to get there in just a couple of moments.
The sermon, as always, it’s not related to Mother’s Day. So I apologize. We do a bad job planning this, but in the future, we’ll figure it out, I guess. And I just wanted to let you know that that I wanted to speak a little bit about this concept that we’ve been talking about, about practicing the way of Jesus. But but what’s been really interesting to me is that over the pandemic, I have begun to rekindle a love for reading.
And so in an effort to be more voracious in my reading, I, I often check the Amazon recommended list. I don’t know if you ever do this, but for books that that would be recommended to me by the great Amazon. And every once in a while I see books that I’m interested in and I buy them or I get them on Kindle or get them an audio book or whatever. But over the last couple of years, I have been struck by the amount of self-help books that are in the top ten.
A friend of mine said that 60 percent, six out of 10 are self-help books. Even right now, over the last two decades, there’s kind of been an explosion in this type of literature. And it’s interesting for me, because the titles are even intriguing, like you ever like look at one of the titles like one of the ones I just read said, You can’t hurt me. I’m like, that would be nice if I couldn’t be hurt.
It’s mastering your mind, defying the odds. There’s a book by a guy named Jordan Peterson called 12 Rules for Life. And then he wrote a follow up called Twelve More Rules for Life. So now we have twenty four rules for life. There’s a self-help book by Matthew McConaughey. I’m not sure what gives him the credentials to write a self-help book, but I don’t know whatever. There’s another book, and I know if you’re offended by this title, so I apologize in advance.
But the title is surrounded by idiots. And I’m like I, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to get out of that, but. But maybe that’s something I need to read. I don’t know. If your if your spouse reads that book, you’ve got a problem, just just saying. There’s another book on the top ten list that I saw that said the universe has your back, which I thought was kind of encouraging. The universe has my back. I don’t dislike self-help books.
In fact, they’re nice and good to read. But it’s funny because of all the talk about secularization, which is like the idea that we’re not really becoming religious, I feel like we’re actually more religious now than ever before. We just replaced the non traditional or the traditional religions with a non traditional postmodern version of it. Like instead of the Bible, you have these self-help books. Instead of church, you have a yoga studio. Instead of teaching, you have TED talk.
Instead of a minister or a pastor, you have a therapist or a counselor. Instead of community, you have a gym membership. Instead of small group, you have book clubs, instead of retreat, you have a motivational seminar. Instead of prayer, we are taught to be mindful. Instead of worship, we have, you know, Super Soul Sundays with Oprah or my favorite atheist church. I was in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is a bizarre city. If you’re from there I’m sorry, but if you’re watching us online, we love you. I was in Salt Lake City and while I was there, there was I was attending a church and I’ve been brought we have been brought in and in the same complex that the church was in was another church. And they had signs pointing people to one church and the other ones that I got confused. And so I got into the church I was supposed to go into and and I asked I was like, man, there’s a lot of signs on this on this road, like, what are the signs?
I said, because a lot of people from that place often come over here and what they find is very different. I’m like, oh, I guess you’re both churches. I assumed you wouldn’t find things that are very different. And they said, no, that’s an atheist church. And I said, what is an atheist church? And they said they sing secular music to start instead of worship songs. It’s like, you know, Bruno Mars or whatever.
And then after that, they have someone get up there and do a motivational speech. And at the end they ask for money. And I’m like, that does kind of sound like an atheist church. Again, I don’t really dislike any of these things. I’m just saying for all the talk about religion being dead, I believe the opposite. Religion is alive and well. But in the religion of the postmodern world, where the ideas of sin and depravity are rejected, eternal sin, eternal problems are no longer the enemy.
Instead, we live with a world that has a new doctrine and most that most of the problems are not found in our hearts, but instead are found by some external force. To quote the book, all of us are surrounded by idiots. It’s everybody else’s fault. It’s the market’s fault. It’s globalization’s fault. It’s capitalism’s fault. It’s communisms fault. It’s corporations fault. It’s your mom’s fault. It’s your dad’s fault. Everything is someone else’s fault.
The religion of our world rejects an idea that all of us, I say deep down inside, understand. We understand that the problem is not external, but the problem is in our hearts and in our minds. The problem is that all of us, to quote the song, are prone to wander. The problems of our world are not found somewhere else, but our found deep within us. There is something wrong in us because even though we are in the language of Genesis, made in the image of God, something along the way of our, along the path of our life, something has happened to warp God’s image and warp it out of shape.
It’s like a beautiful painting that has been marred by graffiti and we all know it, that there’s something wrong with us. And so, again, it’s no coincidence that all these that that these self-help books are so popular because we look at the world and we go, yes, certainly there’s something wrong out there, but there’s also something wrong inside of me. The question, of course, is how do we close the gap? More specifically, how do we close the gap between who we are and who we are supposed to be or who we should be?
Well, let me tell you, we’re in a series called Practicing the Way of Jesus. We’re talking about being an apprentice or being a disciple. And we’ve been saying over the past couple of weeks that these are our goals. Our goals are to be with him, to be like him, him as Jesus, and to do as he did. And if you wanted to have a summary for what this whole thing is about, it’s about transformation. It’s about us becoming something that we’re not already.
It’s about closing the gap between what we’re supposed to be and what we are now. It’s about transformation. And last week we talked about a couple of paradigms. Just as a refresher of transformation, all of us are formed or transformed. Typically, there’s unintentional transformation or formation that’s happening in us. That unintentional formation is happening by the voices we believe. Anything we’re listening to or that we’re consuming the things that we’ve been told are habits, the things that we do on a regular basis, and the relationships that are placed around us.
This is the unintentional way that most of us are formed. And we’ve been saying, hey, we want to figure out a way to be formed intentionally through biblical teaching, through the practices of Jesus and through biblical community. These are counter formations, ways to reject the formation that’s happening unintentionally and instead embrace the teachings and the ways of Jesus. Last week we talked about biblical community. This week, I’m going to do a little bit of an introduction to biblical teaching, an introduction to the practices of Jesus. And that’s what we can talk about today, teaching and practice. Hopefully your Bible is open to mark chapter one. We’re going to start in verse fourteen. Jesus, we’ve said this before, was a rabbi. A rabbi is a word that means teacher, and so he was bringing his way of living to the world and all of the way the way he was bringing is encapsulated by this idea of the kingdom of God. He would talk about it a lot. Here we see the introduction of that idea in Mark, chapter one, verse 14. It says this Jesus went into Galilee. That’s a city in the northern part of Israel proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come. He said the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news. Here is the message. The message is the kingdom of God has come to repent and believe the good news. This is the central theme of Jesus’s teaching. Contrary to popular belief, it was not love your enemy or love, though, that’s encapsulated in what we’re talking about.
It was not liberate the oppressed. It was not justice for all. It wasn’t any of those things. It was this idea that the kingdom of God had come. Basically, what is he saying? A new way of living is here. A new way to be human is at hand and new way to think about life’s problems and the way to act the way you’re supposed to. All of that is brand new. It’s a new way.
And it’s the kingdom of God where God leads his people by his spirit into the likeness of his son. For Jesus, this was the invitation. The Kingdom of God is here. And then he tells us the requirements for entrance or the requirements for citizenship.
He says, repent and believe the good news, there’s so much here, but I really want to focus on this word. Repent. Repent is an interesting word. It’s it’s a Greek word to met metanoia.
Oh, I. Oh, that’s the way you pronounce it. It means literally to change your mind, to change the way you think. One lexicon puts it this way to change one’s life as a result of a complete change of thought. It’s a way to reimagine or image your whole life, to train your brain, to view the way to view your life the way that God would have you view your life, to look at things through the do the lens of God’s way.
How do you think? Repentance, that’s what it’s after. Re imagination is the first step for transformation. The Bible is very clear on this idea. I mean that God is after a mind change, a recalibration of your brain where you start to think about life in the context of what Yahweh, God thinks is right and good and beautiful. You go, OK, what does God think about money? That’s the way I should think about money. What does he think about my trials and my temptation and love?
What do you think about forgiveness and persecution and relationships and everything else? What is good, what is true? What is good described by the Creator God? This is the first step to really being changed just how you think. And what’s the point of this discussion? Well, really, this is what teaching is for. Teaching is about changing the way you think. Here’s a little secret. What I’m doing right now talking to you is aimed first and foremost at your mind.
I’m trying to change the way you think. Every sermon my hope is to draw your brain in and then to begin to chip away at the lies, to chip away, to remind you that God’s way is actually better than you thought it was. That his word is right. That it’s true. That’s my goal. Remember what we said? That it’s the counter biblical teaching is the counter to the voices that you believe. And all of us have voices that we believe that tell us we’re not good enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not whatever.
We don’t have it all together. We’re not the way we’re supposed to be. We’re never going to make it. We have those voices that speak demeaningly to us and God’s word speaks into that reality. And then we have the voices that tell us that we’re the greatest human beings there’s ever been. And then we have the Bible that also speaks into that. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to. Both ways, the word is reforming the way you think.
That’s what it’s after about changing your mind, your thought patterns. I’m giving away my secret here. But but that’s not the way the preaching happens. I try to tell you, hey, look, there’s a problem. There’s a gap between what you believe I’m sorry, who you are and what you want to be. And everyone goes, yes, there is. And then I go, God’s way is the best way to get there. And then for the rest of the time, I try to convince you of that.
That’s what I’m doing here. I’m just trying to chip away at your brain. And when teaching is done well, it’s more than just here’s what the Greek word means when teaching is done well, it helps you train the way you think. This is why the Bible has such high esteem for people that communicate his word for God’s word.
Look at Romans chapter ten. This is kind of intense. But but how then can they call on the one they have not believed in? They’re talking about people. How can they believe? He’s saying how can people believe and how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent as it is written how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?
The Bible saying, hey, preaching meaning listening to the word be washed over you is something that’s vital to eventually your belief or your faith.
My job and anybody else who preaches job is to help rewire your brain away from the lies and towards the truth of God. All of us have lies we believe. My we have this joke in my family about my grandmother’s disposition on debt. So my my grandmother grew up in a time, you know, like a long time ago. She’s now passed. But but but she used to tell my mom and then obviously it’s made its way into the family that that take as much debt as you possibly can because at the end, the devil pays the bill. First off, I don’t even know what that means.
The devil pays the bill. But think about that. That’s what’s been ingrained in our lives. Right? So when I first was able to get a credit card. I was thinking, well, the devil is going to pay the bill, so here’s a brand new pair of sneakers and here’s a brand new, you know, whatever, a set of clothing. And here’s a brand new video game and here’s or whatever. And what I found out was that actually the devil didn’t pay anything.
You pay everything plus 20 percent. So. So here, here’s you see what I’m saying there was a lie that was probably taught to my grandmother by whoever else, and it just made its way into our lives. And eventually, you know, we’re just spending like it’s going out of style. Swipe, swipe, swipe. There is a lie ingrained deeply in our being that needed to be corrected. Needed to be challenged. Those lines take lives, take a long time to come out of our psyche.
You know, the anchor text for this whole idea is Romans chapter 12 verse one and two. So therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your body as a living sacrifice wholly and pleasing to God. This is your true and appropriate I’m sorry, and proper worship do not conform to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. For Paul the first step to transformation is a rewiring of your brain.
This is an act of what it means to continuously rewire your brain, constantly trying to retrain the way you think. The stuff up here doesn’t get in there overnight and so it’s not going to leave overnight. All of those toxic thoughts that you have are in there after years of being pounded in your brain. And so it’s not going to happen overnight.
You’re not going to listen to a sermon and go, oh, wow, no, I no longer believe I’m a failure. It’s not the way it works.
It’s going to have to be pounded out, chiseled away, piece by piece. And so, again, this is why the New Testament writers talk so often about your thought life. Here’s a sample of a couple of them. First Corinthians, chapter two, verse sixteen. We have the mind of Christ, The Mind of Christ, Second Corinthians. After ten, verse five, we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. Colossians chapter three verse two set your mind on things above, not earthly things.
Philippians Chapter two, verse five in your relationship with one another have the same mindset as that of Christ Jesus. And this is just a couple. We could go on and on and look at so many different passages in scripture that go you need to think differently than the way you’re thinking.
Dallas Willard puts it this way, the process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing destructive images and ideas with images and ideas that fill the mind of Jesus himself. Spiritual formation in Christ move towards a total interchange of our ideas and images for his. That’s what it is. It’s constantly removing the destructive thoughts and replacing them with the thoughts of God. This is the process of formation. Rethink and then rethink and then rethink and then rethink and then think. How am I supposed to think about that and then change the way I think and change the way I think.
The point is that transformation doesn’t start with what is right to do. It starts with what is right to think, what is right to think. How should I think about that new house? How should I think about this job I’m in? How should I think about the difficult people around me? How should I think about my children? How should I think about my spouse? How should I think about my bank account? How should I think about my relationship with my phone?
How should I think? OK, so I know there’s some of you thinking, wow, I am a type A person. You need to tell me what to do. So here are some practices. I want to give you some things that I think will help you in your thought life. There are things have been very helpful for me. Hopefully they’ll also be helpful for you. First, read the Bible. This is a novel idea, but but honestly, there is nothing more helpful than listening to God’s word wash over you and go, OK.
It is just a chiseling away of bad ideas and replacing with good ideas. Read giant swabs of the Bible if you can, or take a small chunk and just meditate on it. Now people go I can’t read a whole bunch. I have no time. So this is what I did. I showed you. This is a terrible slide. But the point is, the point is this. These are reading times for every book of the Bible. All of these are under 30 minutes.
So if you have time to watch one half of one Netflix show, you have time to want to have an entire book of the Bible be washed over you. For example, you can read the Book of Ruth in fifteen minutes. Wow, how awesome would that be, or Obediah, let’s say you have no time at all, four minutes done. Obediah, you did a check. You can read some of the best book, best books. I don’t know.
I shouldn’t say I got sorry. You can read in under an hour some of these books. The Book of Romans takes one hour to read. That’s so beautiful and so dense and so rich. You can read. You have no time. You actually have a little bit of time. I promise you, it will be great for your thought life. Or if you want to read full books, take one part of the scriptures in that in that study that we did a couple of months ago in Exodus chapter thirty four.
I must have read that passage over and over again for months. It was awesome. It helps you thought life read the Bible. Next thing, reading good books. If you’re a reader out there, raise your hand readers. Yeah, I love you. You’re my people. If you’re not a reader, I also love you. You’re also my people. But but what I’d recommend is there are some really great books out there.
It’s a good exercise. Grab, grab a little bit. I said last service that we would make a book list. Maybe we’ll do that and put it up on on our website. You can grab just great books that help you train your thought your thought life to think less like the world and more like Jesus. Third, you’re doing it right now listening to sermons, whether on Sunday morning or on podcast or whatever, listening to someone explain the truth of scripture and let it just cover your life is such an amazing thing in such a way to great to transform and to renew your mind.
The fourth listening to podcast. People Love This, if you’re a podcaster awesome. There’s so many good podcasts that teach you about God and teach you about how to think about God better. And you can just do it while you’re in the car.
Just get washed over you with some of the greatest truth that you can ever hear. And lastly, I would encourage you to get a mentor. So here’s the deal. All of these things are very general. This, I would say, is not general, but all these things are general.
But getting a mentor or getting someone to speak over you is very specific to you. So there may be something a lie that you believe, that you just need someone to come into your life and go, hey, it’s that’s not true. That’s just not true the way you’re talking. It’s just not true. Or, you know, what you’re talking is exactly the truth. And don’t let a lie come into your brain. We need people to do that for us.
The other day, I was struggling with how to think about somebody, a challenging situation. And I called Joe Stearns and say, hey, Joe, could you just help me think through this? Am I crazy? And Joe’s like, know what you’re thinking is right? That is true. I needed that book. Was it going to help me how to deal with a difficult situation? You know, you’re the find a chapter. But he was able to from the scriptures, from his own mind, go, OK, this is what you need to hear.
This is true and this is good. We need that in our life. For me, a mentor is like a like a cold bath. It’s awesome. After going through a really challenging, difficult time. Make sense? Five practicals you can do. That’s your intro to teaching next week. We’re going to have a lot more on it. That’s that’s the introduction for it. But here’s the deal. It doesn’t it goes hand in hand with something else.
Teaching goes hand in hand with practice because you can’t think your way into being like Christ. I wish you could, but it doesn’t work like that. You know this. Have you ever come on Sunday morning and you’re like, wow, I want to change. I’m so ready. You go home, you like journal, I’m going to change, I’m going to be better. You get in your house, you’re like tomorrow morning. You know what?
This is it. This is the time. And then by Monday afternoon you’re like, yeah, whatever. Like I mean, back to exactly who I was before. And in those moments, the problem isn’t knowledge. The problem isn’t information transfer. As a matter of fact, knowing something is not the same all of us would admit as doing something. Which is really not the same as wanting to do something. So teaching is targeting your brain and practice is actually aimed at your heart, is actually aimed at your desires.
Let me explain this. My hope for you and I believe God’s hope for you is that you would love to do what God tells you to do, that you wouldn’t just look at the scriptures and kind of ball up your fist and go, OK, I have to deny myself in loving my enemies. Certainly there’s denial of self, but the goal is to love obedience because you find the fruits of obedience to be righteousness and beauty in your own life.
That’s the goal. Our desires should be what God desires. That’s the long term goal. But honestly, that’s a really challenging goal. Paul in Romans chapter seven alludes to this. He says, for I do not do what I the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do. This I keep on doing. All of us can relate to this idea. All of us relate to this this idea of wanting to do what’s right, but feeling like my other wants are actually stronger than my wants to do what’s right. It’s like this my wife and I right now are trying to learn about healthy eating. Just we think it’s good, you know, eat healthier, maybe eat more in a more sustainable way. And all this stuff, it’s good stuff. You know, I’m learning a lot. At first you were a little reluctant, but but I’m listening to some books on it as I drive around.
So I’m like I have an audio book about healthy living and I’m just kind of driving around thinking about, hey, how do I eat healthy? I’m listening to, like, YouTube clips about how to eat healthy. And I’m thinking, OK, very cool, awesome. And I’m driving around like, yes, that’s a great point. And one day I kind of looked up and I found myself in a Taco Bell drive thru. And Taco Bell, you know, whatever the Taco Bell, it’s a great place. I love Taco Bell. If you’re a CEO of Taco Bell, you are welcome here.
But but the point but the point is there is a gap between what I know based on what I listen to and what I do. Like, I have a half eaten quesadilla in my lap listening to a book about healthy eating. Knowledge isn’t my problem. My problem is that our desires are stronger than what we know. I still desire to eat unhealthy food. I still desire it. And that’s what gets me into trouble. And I want that more than I want to do what’s right or what’s “right.”
You still, all of us love our equivalent of bad eating, like whatever that equivalent is for you. The thing is, if you’re stuck in that trend, it’s because you love that more than you love the alternative. And here’s and here’s the point. And I can’t I’m going to say this twice because I think this is so important. What we love in our hearts has a far greater influence on what we do and what we know in our head.
I’m going to say it again, because I think this is so important. What we love in our hearts has a far greater influence on what we do than what we know in our heads. My problem and your problem is our wants. That’s our problem. Listen to James, I mean, man, James, the brother of Jesus, has this incredible unpacking of this whole thought, this James Chapter four verse one. It says, What causes fights and quarrels among you?
He’s talking about interpersonal relationships. But it really for everything. What what causes the conflict? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire, but you do not have so you kill. And we go, I don’t kill. But the point is, you do whatever you’re not supposed to do. You desire your desire is so big that you go after it, you covet. But you cannot get what you want. It’s the desires battling in you.
So how do you change this?
Well, as I mentioned before, practicing is aimed at the motor of your desires. Your heart. Practice is what gives shape to your desires. We have all felt this. I’m gonna explain this a little bit later in James chapter four verse seven. But but I just I want to kind of set it up for you because, you know, this feeling. Think about maybe the best example is shopping. We live in a culture that says what you have doesn’t make you happy and all of us go, yes, that’s so true.
But then if you look at our balance for the last month, I would it would beg to differ. I’m saying. So the reality is all of us, we live in this position where we, like, get some and then we want more. And then the more you get, the more you want, the more you get, the more you want to get. And so what’s crazy about shopping is I just bought a new pair of shoes. Do you like them? Yes. All right. They are they are a they’re a pair of blazers. Nineteen seventy seven Remake Blazers. I love them. They’re awesome. But I haven’t bought shoes in a long time. I had a pair of samba’s that I basically beat to death and I, you know, and so I was telling Cassandra, Hey babe, I think I’m going to buy a new pair of shoes. And she’s like, go for it.
You never buy shoes. I’m like, awesome. So I go on the Nike app and I’m like looking through and I’m like, awesome, a black pair of shoes. These would be great. And then I start thinking, wow, if I have a black pair shoes, I need black jeans to match the black pair of shoes, I’m saying. And then you buy a black pair of jeans and then you’re like, if I you know what I really need?
I need a shirt that matches the black pair of jeans so that I could look like it makes sense. So you buy the shirt too. And then you’re like, I need a bag so that when I walk in I look like I have I’m holding my thing. It looks great. And then I’m thinking, oh, I only have one item now.
So I need a great pair of shoes now and then the whole cycle starts all over again and all of a sudden now you’re spending one hundred and seventy nine million dollars on clothing that you do not need. And it’s this whole thing I didn’t even know I needed a new wardrobe until I needed a new wardrobe. You get what I’m saying, the more you shop, the more you want to shop and the more you shop, the more you want to shop and the more you shop and the more you want to shop.
And so this idea is beautifully painted in James, chapter four. The counter argument. Listen, listen to these words. It’s it’s often overlooked, but it’s so good. He says, resist the devil and he will flee from you. So here’s the point. Resist shopping or whatever. And slowly, you won’t want to shop anymore. The temptation will begin to subside. This is the point. The more you practice resisting, the more those temptations go away. James is making a point that is so overlooked that we have to just make it clear. The habit your habits drive your desires.
The more you do something, the more you want it. And the less you do something, the less you want it. The more you watch Netflix, the more you want to watch Netflix, the more you look at porn, the more you’ll want to look at porn, the more you fool around and go too far with your boyfriend or girlfriend. The more you’ll want to do those things. The more you gossip, the more you’ll want to gossip.
The more you lie, the more you’ll lie, the more you spend, the more you will want to spend. And the more you lay on the couch and just veg out, the more you’ll want to lay on the couch and veg out. Your habits, your practices shape your desire. But the counters to the more you resist, the more he will flee. James then says something later says the more you draw nearer God, God will draw nearer to you.
Look, we’re not just talking about shopping. We’re not talking about eating and watching Netflix. When we shop and when we eat and we watch Netflix, we’re actually doing something to our hearts. And that’s the whole point. We’re doing something to our heart. And so there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is if any of you were trying to convince your spouse that you needed a new TV. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I did something. Maybe you do need to do TV. I didn’t want to try to do that for you. I don’t know. But I’m sorry. But the good news is if you want transformation, you can actually do something about it. The Bible is giving you options. The Bible is telling you, hey, you are helping in the process of changing. Jesus makes a clear statement on this in Mark chapter. I’m sorry, Matthew chapter seven. If you want to turn now, you can look at it. Matthew, Chapter seven, verse twenty four. This is the end of the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’s most popular teaching and has all of his teachings in there. This is Matthew, chapter seven, verse twenty four. Listen to these words. Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built this house on the rocks.
The rain came down, meaning trouble came, the stream rose, trouble came and the wind blew and beat against the house, that house. Yet it did not fall. Why? Because it had it had its foundation on the rock. Jesus making a point. The foundation of the rock is practicing what Jesus says.
And then listen to the end of the sermon. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down. Both have trouble. The wise and the foolish both have trouble. The stream rose and the wind blew and beat against the house and it fell with a great crash. Then Jesus drops the mic and walks off the stage. Thank you, Jesus, for your encouraging words.
It’s a haunting ending to a teaching. What is he saying? You put these words into practice you build your house, your soul on the rock. You don’t put these words into practice the stream will rise and the storm will come and your house will fall flat. It’s that simple. Every time someone goes through a traumatic time, the rain is coming, the storm is coming. And it’s whether or not you’ve put God’s word into practice that will determine whether or not your house still stands.
I’ve watched brothers and sisters in this church whom I love go through cancer, go through it seems like every single week we’re hearing a story about a brother, a sister who’s gone through difficult times and we’re praying for them. We’re praying that God would heal their bodies. Many people, their bodies are failing. And I’ve watched these people in the church. Handle it with so much grace and handle it with honesty, and they grieve and they cry out to God, but they look like Christ in the middle of their challenges.
And I’m going, it’s because those people put God’s word into practice. That’s years and years and years of practice. So when they came through this difficult time, they were able to go, you know what? This is my lot. And I trust you, God. But the thing is, we see the other side too. People go through disease and illness and unemployment and their lives fall apart and their marriages fall apart and their families fall apart. Jesus would say there’s one difference between those two groups of people practice.
Some practiced and others just listened. Now, a couple of weeks, we’re going to do a whole series on practice and a whole conversation about practice. So I’m not going to talk about it now. But I want to just tell you about the three elements of what I’m talking about when I say practice, talk about three elements. One is practicing the lifestyle of Jesus. That’s like silence and solitude, prayer, fasting, Sabbath, biblical memorization, coming to church, living simply all those sorts of things.
Next is the teachings of Jesus as like loving your enemy and not worrying. And all the things found in the Sermon on the Mount and then the practicing the Ministry of Jesus, preaching the gospel, healing, healing the poor, sorry, serving the poor and praying for the sick and so on and so forth. And a couple of weeks we’re going to talk about it. But when I talk about practice, that’s really what I’m talking about. The salient idea, though, is simply this.
What we do, we become we are a cumulative effect of our daily walk, our daily habits, what we do when we wake up our job, the relationship that we have with our phone or nightly routine, what we do in our free time, all of that stuff. And here is the good news. And I want to hammer it home. You and I can actually transform. Isn’t that good news?
Like it’s actually possible? It’s possible. People in this church have been freed from the vices of their youth through practicing the ways of Jesus. It’s possible to be transformed. It’s possible to rewire your brain. People in this church have had an unhealthy thought life and God has come in and swept in and changed the way they think about life. It’s possible, but it’s going to happen very slowly.
If it took 50 years for it to get in there, it may take a long time for it to come out. So give yourself a little grace, but you can do it. You can transform, you can realign your thinking. You can begin to practice the way of Jesus. All right. Here’s my pragmatic practice that you could take away from the conversation about practice. This is just one really easy thing that I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks that has been incredibly helpful for me.
So I would encourage you to do it, too. It’s what Jamie K. Smith calls a liturgical audit. That’s what I want to encourage you to do. This liturgical means like rhythm is like the word liturgy comes from. This is like what you do, what your rhythms look like of your life, what your practices, your schedule, your budget, how you spend your weekdays and your weekends and what you do on your phone, all that stuff. So this is what I want to do.
I want to encourage you to take this week if you’re willing to take on a challenge, take this week and write down at the end of the day, write down everything you did start to finish every single thing I woke up at whatever time I woke up six twenty five. I woke up at eleven fifty five, write it down I then I brushed my teeth.
Then I write the whole day down. Do it for we try to do it if you really want to challenge yourself to it for a full week. And then what I want you to do is at the end of the day, after you’ve written everything down, I want you to write down whether each activity was good, bad or neutral for your heart. I want you to start making connections between your habits and your heart and go, oh, OK.
So when I woke up in the morning and the first thing I did was grab the phone and look at the news, that was not good for my heart. You just make a little note. Not good, bad for the heart, you know, saying market read or whatever. And then what I want you to do is to then replace that rhythm, replace that bad action with something that is a practice of Jesus. So instead of grabbing your phone first and looking at the news, maybe the first thing you do is you open up your Bible app and you go, I’m going to listen this morning.
I’m going to listen and I won’t put it away. It’s good for my heart. I’m going to replace it. If I’m on my commute I’m listening the whole time to the radio and it’s not very helpful for me for whatever reason. Doesn’t do something good to my heart. OK, I’m going to replace it. I’m going to put on a podcast. I’m going to put on some worship music, whatever. I did this for the last couple of weeks and I’m embarrassed to say that there are two things that have been terrible for my heart.
One is I look at the stock market way too much. This is just me. And two ever since this evil sneaker purchase, I look at shopping.
I look at like I’m looking at shopping apps way too much. So I’ve been trying to replace them. I’ve set boundaries for myself and when I’m allowed to do either thing. But the thought for myself is this. Every time I want to go look at the stock market, instead I open up a psalm and I read a psalm. Oh, God, bring me to peace. It’s embarrassing to say, but it’s just where I’m at now, and every time I want to go shopping, I turn on a Christian song.
I will let these words wash over my heart as opposed to materialism. Look, we all see the need to change.
You see it. I see it. You start with your mind and then slowly change our practices. And we will watch as the gap between who we wish to be and who we currently are begins to close. Let’s pray, Holy Spirit. I was reminded this week that you give us the power for change. And so I want to just ask God that you would come in and really fill our hearts and our minds, Lord, that you would come and give us the maybe it’s courage.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s power. Maybe it’s just the the I don’t know the grit to actually put into practice what we’re talking about here. God, Lord, we all know there’s things in our hearts that need to change. I pray that we’ll have the ability to do those things. Father, I want to just pray also for the mothers here. I just pray a blessing on their lives. I pray that you would bless them and their children and their children’s children, that you will bless them for thousands of generations.
God, that the mothers here would find great joy, that they would find relaxation today, that they would find in their their community a lot of love and a lot of support. God, I also want to want to bring before you just a prayer for all the people in our church who are hurting God. I know there are so many in our church that are going through difficult times. I pray that you protect them and you give them the courage to continue to be find peace through these difficult times.
God, God, I also thank you at this time for Jesus and the Cross, where every week we take the bread that represents your body and a little bit of juice that represents your blood. I just I just pray that we were drawn into the idea of sacrifice. We can think about our mother’s sacrifice for us. Maybe we can think about the sacrifice that others have made for us, God, and that we can just think about how much you have done to show us that you love us.
God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for the cross. We pray. We pray all this in your son’s name. Amen.