Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 4 G's: Intro

The 4 G’s Intro

How many of you can admit that you need God?
How many of you understand that Christ is always calling you to go a little higher, learn a little more, and change to be more like him?

That’s the beauty of Jesus (he accepted everyone as they were, but He never left them that way… he was always calling them to change!

Let’s lay the foundation here…

Dialogue… “What does it mean to “believe?” - To understand something, agree with it & put it into action… to trust… to call something truth.

Belief is something that occurs in the heart… the real you…

The Heart is the “Seat of Emotions” in scripture

[Exp: Different cultures use different body parts to describe the same thing… eyes, kidneys, & bowels…]

Why do we do the things we do?
Where do evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, greed, hatred all come from?
Jesus gives us the answer:…
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’.” (Mark 7:21-23)

From within. Out of men’s hearts. From inside.

According to the Bible, the source of all human behavior and emotions is the heart.
The root cause of my behavior is always, always my heart.

What WE see is behavior and emotions, and it is easy to focus on changing behavior and emotions. (That’s what 99% of the self-help books out there propagate… “fix this action…heal this emotion”)

But lasting change is only achieved by tackling the source of our emotions, words and behaviors: – the heart.
Jesus says it this way:
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from brierpatches. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45)

Our Actions and Words and Emotions flow from our hearts!

A lot of people like to blame other people or circumstances for their behavior…

The truth is: Our struggles and temptations often trigger sin, but they do not cause our sin.

The root cause is always my heart and its desires.

WE choose how we respond to circumstances…
What determines those choices are the thinking and desires of our hearts.

Most people do not see it this way though...
Think of the last time you were angry.
What made you angry?
We normally point to external factors:
- “They didn’t treat me with respect.”
- “Someone smashed my car.”
- “They never see it my way.”

But James says what causes fights and quarrels are the desires that battle within (James 4:1-2).
External pressures always impact our behavior via our hearts.
We cannot blame our circumstances.
When tempted, no-one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)

So don’t blame God for your failures.
Don’t blame your parents or your past.
Don’t blame people or circumstances.
Our struggle is one that takes place HERE…in our hearts…

Our background can SHAPE our sinful responses, but the root is in our hearts…
- This guys may fly off the handle and start stomping his foot…
- This girl might choose the silent treatment and withdraw
- The expression of the anger may differ by upbringing
- BUT both rage and silence are anger and the root cause of that anger lies in our hearts.

Example: Me - If you saw me studying in the morning at, reading my Bible or praying, you might think I’m a godly man! Wait till I’m walking to work and some guy in a car almost hits me, or my boss is having a bad day and treats me badly… You’ll see someone who is far from godly.

I used to think of myself as the calm, prayerful man of the mornings, but I have come to realize the REAL me is the one a bit later on in the day… the person revealed when the sinful desires of my heart are exposed by frustrating circumstances and annoying people. The real me is revealed when I am too tired to keep up the pretence.

As we said before, the ‘heart’ in the Bible means more than the organ that pumps blood round the body. It refers to the inner person or my essential self.
The Heart includes your mind, will & emotions [this is why gospelling the heart is so powerful… we generally address people’s orthopraxy (their practices…they way they speak and live) & orthodoxy (their beliefs… what theology and doctrines they affirm)… not their heart-orthopathy]

Rom. 10:10 – Belief is something that occurs within all you are… (not just your mind)

If I look at some of the things that come out of my heart I must acknowledge that I am (in those things) an unbeliever…

We act upon what we truly believe…

“I believe God is in control!”

Really??? Do you have Fear in your heart? Anxiety? Then do you really believe God is in control?

In truth, Christian Spirituality is related to every point in your life. It’s impossible to separate our priorities in life from our faith. How we spend our time reveals what truth (or what lies) we believe within our hearts. We may try to divorce our faith from our finances, but God sees them as inseparable.

The process of closing the gap between what you know in your head & believe in your heart is called sanctification… Becoming holistically Christ-centered & gospel-centered

In other words, if you want to become more like Christ, you need to start allowing your heart to be changed deeply by truth so that it flows outward into your life!

The root of all our behavior and emotions is the heart – what it trusts and what it treasures.

Humanity’s problem is futile thinking, darkened understanding and ignorant hearts (Ephesians 4:17-19).

People are given over to sinful desires because ‘they exchanged the truth of God for a lie’ (Romans 1:24-25).

We sin because we believe the lie that we are better off without God
- that His rule is oppressive,
- that we will be free without Him,
- that sin offers more than God provides.

This is true of every sin and every negative emotion.
Behind every sin is a lie about God

Not many people think of themselves as someone who believes lies!

But every time we do not trust God or his word we are believing something else – and that something is always a lie.

If I get angry when I get passed over for a promotion I feel I deserved it is because I do not trust God. I believe the lie that God is not in control or that his purposes for me are not good.

If I overwork it is because I don’t trust God, perhaps because I believe the lie that I need to prove or justify myself.

Whenever we are depressed or bitter, it is because we believe God is not being good to us or that he is not in control.
“Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23).

This is a radical view of sin.

It means many of our negative emotions are symptoms of unbelief – the greatest sin and the root sin.

As Christians, many of us don’t think of ourselves as unbelievers…

But when our lives don’t match our beliefs, we are unbelievers in those areas (not in the sense that we are bound for hell, but in the sense that there are areas of our lives that are still being brought under the rule & reign of King Jesus)

The truth shall set you free

Recognizing that behind every sin is a lie not only gives us a radical view of sin, it points us to the road out of sinful behavior and emotions: That road is trust in God.

Behind every external thing that comes out of your hands & heart is a lie about God you are believing in your heart.

Lust? I’m believing God’s plan is not good enough… That God is not Good enough… I’m even believing I’m more important than you… I lift myself up above God and the rest of His creation…

When we try to stop sinning we aim for working on our behavior… we need to work on our beliefs

We try to control sin by controlling behavior
“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32)

Just as lies about God lead to the slavery of sin, so the truth about God leads to freedom (Galatians 5:1, 13).

The truth that sets us free is the gospel (“if you hold to my teaching”).

Freedom is found in accepting that God is in control of our lives, that he is gracious and that he forgives those who come to him in faith (Titus 2:11-12).

Ask yourself this… “What evidence is there in my life that I’m not believing the gospel at a heart level?”

We all need to become preachers.

We need to learn to preach to our own hearts.
The Psalmist says: “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

But to whom is he speaking? The answer is to himself… His innermost self
When we find ourselves tempted to sinful behavior or when we find our emotions are getting the better of us, we need to speak truth to ourselves.

You do not have to be able to analyze your heart in detail.

It’s the truth of the gospel that brings change.

But it helps if you can identify the specific lies behind your sin and the corresponding truths that will set you free

In this series we want to identify four life-changing truths about God that affect all of our actions and words and emotions in life. If you can allow these truths to become deeply rooted within your heart, and learn to apply them to the many circumstances you face everyday you will be changed.:
4 Truths about God

God is Great – So we don’t have to be in control.
God is Glorious – So we don’t have to fear others.
God is Good - So we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction.
God is Gracious - So we don’t have to prove ourselves.

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