Saying yes to God means saying No to anything else that would direct your life, including yourself! As Proverbs 3 tells us: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. That includes heart, mind and actions. In everything, acknowledge God. He is the director of your life as a Christian. We must, therefore say NO to all other directors. In today’s lesson we are going to take AIM at how to do that and what it involves as we go into FIRE mode in tonight’s groups.
Slide 1 (lots of targets fill the screen) – Here’s what life looks like to many people. Too many things to aim at and choose from. Jesus makes it simple: Number 1 priority – Seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. All other things come UNDER this directing, guiding value and compass.
Wednesday, Steve Layne did a great job getting us READY with his presentation on Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego. This morning we turn to our AIM part where we focus on the target.
Slide 2 – (Image of the city of Athens)
As Paul was in Athens as recorded in Acts 17, the Bible says that his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. Why? Because Paul was seeking the kingdom first, not just a place to kick back and drink in the ethos.
Think on these two questions: What impresses you and why? What provokes your spirit and why?
I remember a few months ago, when Brent Clark did a Wednesday night devotional using this passage. He talked about the normal response to someone coming to Athens in those days. Athens was an amazing, historic place. The art, architecture and academic history of Athens captivated most visitors, but not Paul. Instead, what struck Paul and provoked his spirit was their idolatry. He could see all the great works of architecture and art, He certainly was aware of their rich academic history. But… Jesus called Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He never let go of His mission, even on vacation. His focus on Christ so captivated his heart and shaped his life that instead of beholding in wonder what men could envision and create, Paul could only behold and wonder at how men could be so blind to their Creator and chase after lies.
How can we be more like Paul? How can we become so focused on our mission in Christ that we never lose sight of it even when we are on vacation, even when we go away to college or to work or to school? We know that there are many glittering worldly things to gawk at before us. Will we look at them and let Christ’s mission grow dim in us? In Paul’s address to a group of Athenians, we see how he turns their attention from man made temples and arts to the God made creation and its implications to us. God’s works are everywhere, reminding us of His glory and majesty. But it is so easy to become enamored and impressed with what our hands have made and take our eyes off of God and His kingdom and righteousness. When we said yes to God, when we choose Him, that means saying no to all that would draw us from Him.
Slide – City of Athens / Andromeda Galaxy Slide – tiny memory chip on finger / diagram of a living cell
Which if these impresses you most? What man made or what God made? When it comes to art, architecture and history, God wins, period.
But, let’s face it. There are many voices that call us. Seeking the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness is not just a thing we do at church. Church gatherings and regular Christian fellowship encounters day by day remind us and instruct us and encourage us to keep seeking the Kingdom of God in the midst of a corrupt generation.
Hebrews 3:13 tells us to encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that you will not be hardened by sins deceitfulness. Hebrews 2:1-4 tells us to pay more careful attention to what we have heard lest we drift from it. Hebrews 6:1-4 warns us that if after we chose Christ and partake of His grace and then turn away, it becomes impossible to renew us to repentance. Peter says that for a Christian to turn away from Christ is like a dog that returns to his vomit, or a sow that is washed to the mire.
Last week we looked at the target of seeking God and His kingdom. See the king. God chose us and we choose God, His kingdom and His righteousness.
This week we begin to unpack the implications of choosing to see the King, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. We must learn to hear the voice of our Good Shepherd and follow Him.
Let’s start by looking at the composite of life’s decisions. Life presents a host of areas to spend our energies and resources on. All of us spend time and money on a wide variety of things. David Bible talked about this in our first Ready session. We have interests and relationships, jobs and responsibilities, bills and personal treats. Our daily life is filled with choices and decisions and voices calling our attention. From wake up to falling asleep we spend 16 more or less hours filled with decisions and actions. Each of these areas has a kind of impact upon us, a force that leaves its mark. Some are small, but repeated multiple times so that their impact grows, like keeping up with Facebook. Mothers have neglected their children over such small but demanding things. Some of these choices are large and have forces are powerful enough in and of themselves to make big changes in our lives – say a decision to go to a Christian college, major in biblical languages, pursue a life in ministry, marry a faithful Christian, move to New England and work in that mission for 17 years, begin mission trips as a family to Cental America, then move to Signal Mountain and preach for the Signal Mountain church of Christ for the past 18 years. Those are pretty major, life shaping choices. But they were all guided by an overarching choice to follow Jesus Christ. They didn’t just happen, they were guided, prayed about, directed by the mission of Christ.
The Christian life is not an abandonment of making decisions and choices, NO! The Christian life is an abandonment of making any decision or any choice outside of the authority and rule of God and His Kingdom. Jesus, our example, said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” Being like Jesus is THE vision of God for YOU. Our mission is to give Him our lives so that He can form Christ in us.
Remember Paul’s story? When Christ is formed in you, and you go to Athens, you don’t get lost in the art and academia, you have a vision for God. You look for what pleases Him, and you attempt to make a difference for His glory. You are on a mission!
When you have Christ formed in you, and you go to the movies, you don’t get lost in the drama and overlook all the obscenity and immorality, you have a vision for God, You look for what pleases Him, and you attempt to make a difference for His glory. You are on a mission!
When Christ is formed in you, you grow more and more into His image and likeness as a seeking, saving, serving member of His body the church. You are on a mission! It is God’s mission, 24/7/365.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor how can it be made salty again? It is then good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot by men.”
When Christ is formed in you, you have flavor from heaven! You have the fragrance of Christ! To some that is the smell of death, to others it is the smell of life. Many Christians have such sinful and worldly body odor the fragrance of Christ just doesn’t come through.
When Israel, God’s people cluttered their lives with other gods, how could they shine as God’s chosen people, God’s holy nation, God’s royal priesthood? They didn’t. And God cut them off like fruitless olive branches. Then God grafted in the wild olive branches of the gentiles and gave us the gift of being His chosen people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation, a people belonging to God! Will we follow His lead? Will we say no to idols around us that tempt us to turn away from Christ and His mission in us? Or… Will we be like Israel of old and clutter our lives with idols of gold and entertainment, and worldly pleasures that last but a season?
Choosing Christ is the best decision you can make in this life. Living under that choice is part of that package! Just as the wedding vows say: Forsaking ALL OTHERS, I give myself ONLY to YOU. A marriage vow only lasts a life time, our vow to Christ lasts forever!
The target of today’s AIM lesson is this: Yes to God means NO to all other gods.
After choosing Christ, live under that choice! Jesus promised us, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”