Monday, March 14, 2016

Walking in obedience

/sermon by Mike Enns/

As you probably know we are still in the sermon series of discipleship. And we have talked about a lot of topics.                                                                                                                                                         -> Many topics which are spoken about often. Like Love, or Worship, or Prayer. Which have way more depth than we often give them credit.                                        

 ->And it is good we talk about them often because they are                                                                   ->but sometimes we talk about things so often they seem to lose their meaning……… My favorite example is sneezing.  …….. I don’t mean what you say in Bulgaria, “наздраве”. In English we say “God bless you. “
Atheists don’t want to talk about god with you. No problem. Just sneeze.  There you have it. … And they will probably never realize. They are talking about God’s blessings and don’t even realize it.
And whenever we speak about those hard and common topics  we have to be very careful to realize what power is in them. With our minds and our hearts.
But today I want to talk with you about a very easy topic which is not so common.                                                                            -> And that is obedience. 
Why is it not so common?  Let’s talk about that later. 
FIRST. I’ll tell you why I think it is a simple topic.                                                                                                                            -> what is obedience  In 2 simple steps:
1.      Do the things God wants us to do                                                                                                                                                             2. Don’t do the thinks God doesn’t want us to do
-Ephesians 4, 17-24: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
-We should “put off” our old self that does what God doesn’t want us to do and “put on” our “new obedient self“ that does what God wants us to do.                                                                                              
The explanation is simple enough ……and that is all about the theory.                                                             Buuuut and this is a very big but.         Why is it so atrociously hard for us to do that?
-          I mean we know this.     Right?     That’s not rocket engineering.                                                                         – we should follow God’s will.    Not the world’s will how Paul said it. That includes the one of our old self too.                   
      So why do we struggle so much to do this?
Well there are only us and God in the relationship. And if the theory is simple,  And we know what God wants from us. He wrote it in this very practical book.                                                               
 In fact just after the passage we just read It is written in more detail:                                                   -Don’t lie                      -Do not anger                              Do not steal            -do good      -Do not swear       -Do not go against the Holy Spirit.             Ephesians 25-30                                                    -> So if the problem is not in God or in our understanding of obedience.      ->then there is only us left in the relationship where the problem can be.
Last week Trif and I visited the Bulgarian Christian leadership forum and Glynn Harris was there as a guest speaker from England. He is a Psychologist and described the human heart very interesting as such:
The human heart is a creature of habit. Like an elephant that walks its way for 20-30 years.  And then there is the rider which is our mind. Now after 20-30 years he says to the elephant today we are going this way instead. ……….Do you think the elephant likes that?                                             Do you think he will stay on the new way when he has many years of experience which tells him the old one works?                                                                                                                                                        I think it is a very accurate description….I feel especially connected to this picture where the rider tries to push him in the right direction with his feet.

There is only one right direction. : 1 John 2:6                                                                                             “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. “

има само един начин : John 14,6                                                                                                       "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”                                         

If you remember in the sermons to the beginning of discipleship we said that it is a process. And so is obedience.   
I told you earlier that obedience is simple. …………..That is not completely correct.                                    -> standing in obedience is simple. But walking in obedience is hard.                                                            It’s really challenging to keep the elephant on track while on the move.  
That’s why Paul said put off you old self.   Put off your old elephant.                                                                   Get a brand new one.           One Which is not tainted by bad habits and start anew.                                                                                
And that is for the optimal case when we want to be obedient and the rider is right. …………… I mean a lot of times the rider and the elephant happily go arm in arm together the other way.
Who wants to be obedient?
Who wants to do what other wants us to do?     We want to do what we want to do.        Right?  That’s why Paul said we not only need a new elephant but also a new rider.                                                                      ->”be made new in the attitude of your mind” verse 23
-An English pastor talked about his life story.:                                                                                                                                  Still very young he just started being in charge of his small church He met a young family with and adorable 3 year old daughter. She would sprint around the Church and her home listening to no one. She loved to ignore everyone. …….Most her parents. You said sit down she stood up. You told her to come and she went. ……………I’m pretty sure a lot of us have these experiences with children.                                                                                                                                                               One day the garden gate was left open. The parents saw their child escaping our of the yard and towards the road. To the parents horror they saw the car racing down the street as she ran out between 2 parked cars. They both scream her to stop. She paused for a second turned around smiled at them and then ran out on the street.                                                                                                       That was the first funeral he conducted and what taught him the importance of obedience.
- What are we but God’s children. Having our own head but not knowing what is beyond the garden gate.
Obedience is not something natural for us. We have to learn it.
Learning something new is not easy and even if we succeed once we will fail many more times.
è That is also why obedience is not a popular topic. 1st. we don’t really want to obey anyone. And if we do 2nd. We fail a lot of times
…..we expect our children to obey us how then can we disobey our father in heaven who does a much better Job?
Don’t get me wrong. ……..I don’t have any children jet. But I’m pretty sure God does with me a better Job than I ever could.
I know learning this is a challenge. I’m still in it as much as anyone.
Though with God on our side. What can hold us down?     
We have to pray and set ourselves on cutting off this old deep rooted habit of disobedience. It is on us to replace the elephant and rider, make our hearts and mind new.  On us to make this first step in the walk of obedience.      
Of course it is with God’s help and God wants to help us make ourselves new, but it is on us to start it.           
Verse 22 in Ephesians 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                              22 You were taught…………., with regard to your former way of life,…………… to put off your old self, to be made new in the attitude of your minds.
That is an awful lot of us which Paul tells us there.
And so it is us who are in the responsibility to make ourselves new.                                                                                                                         It is not something that comes with time so be active in learning obedience.                                                     


I’m coming to the end now.   And even though I talked a lot about obedience. I only mentioned briefly about what God wants us to obey.
We  talked about this before but I want to remind you how important it is to read the Bible…………………… God’s Word
We find in there what we need to learn to obey and we get to know whom to obey  and much more. 
And it is such a privilege to be able to study it undisturbed.  We should see it as such and as the holy book it is.                                                                                                                                                                                A situation in North Korea weights very much on my heart this last week. I don’t know what you know about it. Some of you probably remember your own experiences with communism.                                                But it is really bad there. For possession of the bible you get sent to the death camps.
My heart bleeds for the people there forced to obey the “eternal father of the nation”. But we can rejoice because we can obey our loving Father in heaven. He is forgiving. However much we may disobey him and fail to get our elephant the right way.
Amen.

                                                                                                                                                                        - Sermon by Mike Enns