Practical Application of the Word of God
It often seems that we have too few sermons that address practical Christianity – concretized Christianity.
From the word of God, practical Christianity shows an aspect of being human. Then it looks at God’s standard (which is the only standard against which each of us must measure ourselves and against which Jesus Christ is measuring us).
What is revealed is the gap that exists between the perfection of God and our imperfection. Then we see where we are and where we need to be, and we take that to God and ask Him to help us close the gap between us.
This, my friends, is the heart of genuine repentance.
God doesn’t change or move or lower His standard. Instead, we acknowledge that we fall short of His standard and are willing and committed to the process of changing and moving, with His help, away from our human position toward His perfect standard.
I recently heard a practical Christianity sermon that hit me hard and hit me personally and it created a recognition in me of an area where I need to change and move away from my human way and toward God’s perfect way.
It seems we humans do this by nature unconsciously, but the attitude and the motivation behind it is not godly. I got correction I needed because I’m guilty of this.
Not consciously, but I recognized the tendency toward this with certain things and certain people in myself. I even recognized the point in my life where this came to the forefront of my life and I figuratively hit my head like the people in the V-8 commercial because I had not realized it fully (I was aware and it bothered me, but I didn’t know how to stop it, so I justified and excused it) and that I was sinning against God.
Jeremiah says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and I thought of that in my own case, because I am not, with most people and most things, hypercritical and an accuser, so I glossed over the fact that with a few things and a few people I have been hypercritical (in the sense of actively looking for things to criticize) and accusatory.
So I came to a point of repentance, even with this blog.
Instead of personalizing examples of things that are wrong, unscriptural, and ungodly (and there are many for each one of us – we all have blind spots and that is why praying without ceasing, eating and drinking fully of the word of God on a daily basis, and time each day set aside for meditation on God’s word in how it applies to us personally are the most important tools that we have to have our sins exposed, our blindness removed, and our ears unstopped so that, with God’s help, we can repent and show fruits worthy of repentance), I can simply take God’s word and address topics, questions, and our sins.
So this sermon brought about repentance for me, even though my motive for listening to it was not the right one.
I personally have experienced a healthy dose of accusations and criticisms along the way in my process of converting.
Some have been very deep and very hurtful in which the relationships, from a human standpoint, have been irreparably, in this lifetime, damaged and there are chasms and walls that there are simply no remedies for as human beings.
We can all relate because we’ve all have – I hope fewer than I have – had relationships destroyed because of criticism and accusation.
I chose to listen to this sermon because I was thinking, “Yes, this is why they’re wrong and I’m going to feel better because I’ve got proof why they’re wrong.”
Talk about motive and attitude! Mine, as you can tell, wasn’t right and it wasn’t godly.
But, oddly enough, I did feel better. A lot better.
Because not only I had received gentle correction about my own sin in the area of criticizing and accusing, but I recognized it – God’s spirit – and my conscience in this area was not seared so that I was able to willingly acknowledge it to God and yield and commit, with God’s help, to removing this sin from my life.
It will be a process, because this one of the areas in which the accuser of the brethren tempts me continually and in which, far too often, I choose to take the bait. But now I know and now I see and now I am aware.
A tendency toward criticism and accusation is indicative of our attitudes and motives. My fellow blogger at Church of God Perspective has an excellent post on attitude and its importance to God, to us, and, in fact, to all humanity. It’s more important than I think we all realize. There is good food for thought here and I urge you all to read it and think about it.
I also again encourage each of you to listen to the sermon that got me to seriously consider in my own life how criticism and accusation had crept in.
It’s not a hammer-you-over-the-head sermon, which I appreciate. There is a recognition that we all do battle with this. But there are nuggets of wisdom from scripture (the verses from Isaiah 29:20-21 in the graphic at the top of this post really opened my eyes, despite the fact that I’ve probably read the book of Isaiah more times than most during my converting journey) and insights from experience.
There is spiritual maturity in this sermon and it can open the door to an area of spiritual maturity on our parts. Even if we go into it with the wrong attitude, the wrong motive, and the wrong mindset.
That reminds me that I have a patient, compassionate, merciful, loving, and gracious Father who stays the course and continues to work with me even when I’m not anywhere close to being in sync with Him.
I am grateful and thankful for those reminders. I am even more thankful and grateful for His encouragement that, even though I’m not even on the same page with Him, I’m willing – not just want to – to be and I haven’t hardened my heart against Him as my Dad and Jesus Christ as my Teacher.
Sometimes, when I see all the gaps between them and me, in those insomniac hours of the early, early morning when I can’t sleep and I do some of my most intense and deep thinking about things, I wonder if my heart is hard and my intent is to strive with my Dad and Older Brother.
That’s the last thing I want to do and be, so my prayers are very often for healing if I am and do, and for willingness to learn, to change, to grow, to listen, and to hear to replace it.
I see the answer to those prayers in moments like these. That’s more encouraging than anything else of all the things I’m praying about being answered because I know God hasn’t turned His back on me and that He is listening.
He – and Jesus Christ – are keeping their promise not to leave or forsake me. My responsibility, then, is to continue to keep the promise I made at baptism to them to not leave or forsake them either.