Our lives must reflect our faith… I pray the best sermon today is NOT my words, but your thoughts…. There are details I may skip which might have great relevance for you. May the Lord speak to your heart, affirm you in your Christian walk where you need to be affirmed, and convict you where you need to be convicted…
Let’s continue the roadmap of Christian living in today’s verses.
Eph. 5:1-2 are powerful. READ. Imitate Jesus Christ. Do you desire wisdom for Christian living? Jesus has already been on the journey. Imitate him. Everyday on FB this week during the storms somebody would ask, “how are the roads to Bellingham…what is the badger like?” people wanted first hand accounts of current conditions. Jesus gives us that first hand account of Christian living. We worship Jesus as LORD, recognizing him as Master. We humbly call him SAVIOR, the one who went to the cross in our place and died for our sins. Give him another title: HERO. Jesus has gone before us. Heb. 4:15 says of Jesus he has “been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin.” That’s why he is to be imitated, not that we will ever be perfect, but our goal on the Christian journey is to mature and become more and more like him.
I found an essay (by Caleb Suko) “Choose your Heroes Wisely.” The author says everybody has heroes… “people you look up to, people you try to emulate, people you desire to be like.” The author warns of the dangers of not choosing our heroes: “…if you don’t consciously determine your own heroes….society will choose them for you. We live in a society that honors the bad boys and loves the naughty girls. Our society looks up to the rebel and praises the rule breaker. A wise man once warned about these kind of heroes: ‘Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.’” (Pro 24:1-2)
We will fall short of acting as unselflessly as Jesus, but that does not take away the wisdom of imitating Jesus. As you read the gospels pay attention to how Jesus treated people. The old WWJD question is a great question, What Would Jesus Do, as long as we don’t invoke that question only when we are desperate. WWJD is meant to be practiced in daily decisions, not only extreme situations. A roadmap of Christian living is made easy when we make Jesus Christ our hero who has already journeyed down the road.
I want to bring in Eph. 5:10 at this point as well: READ. “Find out…” A wise person is curious, teachable, willing to change. “Find out”…study, consider, talk about what pleases the Lord. This question is similar to the wisdom of imitating Jesus. Years ago I discovered a little phrase as an alternative to WWJD because I thought most of the time Jesus would not be in the same situations we find ourselves. Instead Would Jesus Be Pleased. On the journey of Christian living, I find that a great question ~ everything we do, think and say is put in perspective. If Jesus is your hero, if you are committed to living a life according to his purposes, then it is a natural question, WJBP, would Jesus be pleased?
Paul must have been excited as he wrote these words ~ this isn’t a logical train of thought, but a whirlwind of wisdom of Christian living as similar ideas said in different ways are jumbled together. Eph. 5:17 says to find out what the Lord’s will is… that is not much different from WWJD and WJBP.
Eph. 5:5-7 is also a commentary on choosing heroes, but it is who NOT to choose! READ. Don’t over read these wisdom. It is not saying don’t associate with folks that are greedy, etc. but don’t PARTNER…don’t use misguided people as examples to pattern your life after… It takes wisdom to apply because it is a hard world….
Eph. 5:3-4 is more wisdom. How do we live these values?: READ. “there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality…” We were told to imitate Jesus. I think of how Jesus brought dignity to women, how he showed respect and saw them as real people… the woman at the well, the prostitute that poured perfume on his feet… For me, I do my best to see people as people with stories and needs. That’s what Jesus did… he lived for others… How do I live out such amazing love for others in my life?
I hope this helps. Reminder: my prayer is that the best sermon today will be your thoughts...Here is how I use these values as a roadmap of Christian living: I have personal rules. You need to think in your own situation what will work best for you, based on your personality and your life. I go the extra mile to not even pretend to flirt with women, I wish more guys would.... Based on my life situation I have lots of personal rules…you need patterns for your situation so that you rid your life of even a hint of sexual immorality… There are lots of FB postings that are cute and clever, and while probably harmless, I personally would not post… I’m not going to get in arguments about your lines. As followers of Christ, our personal standards must be higher than the world’s standards. TRUE? The world is hypocritical. E.g. as a society we say we want to rid the work place of sexual harassment, yet we promote and idolize movies that glorify sexual harassment… the world is full of double messages!
I try to live out the values of Christ as best I can by developing boundaries and asking the Lord to forgive when I fall short and look to him to grow in my faith and practice. No “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking…” it says. If these are problems, you need personal rules… I do not tell certain types of jokes. I may make choices that are different from you. If you choose differently that’s between you and God, may he convict you in your heart if he wants better for you! …This scripture gives us the values to live by, but it requires wisdom to apply…the Lord gave us a brain!
I love the alternative life choice… instead of foolish talk and vulgar jokes, be thankful. Not only in your heart, but out of your mouth. Be thankful. Living the Christian life truly is more about the positive than the negative…. I make it a discipline to find something good about everyone I know… Something to appreciate. Be a thankful person. Sometimes when somebody talks to me about the hardships of life, when appropriate, I ask them to name something positive about the person they are complaining about, that’s one of my personal practices because I am honored to have many people tell me their hardships… Being thankful will take you a long way down the road of Christian living.
More wisdom of Christian living: READ Eph. 5:8. Be honest about who you are. When I was about 11-12 I mowed a lot of lawns. We had an old lawnmower. I stopped it because it got clogged with grass and reached down to unclog with my fingers. The motor kicked. The blades got my fingers. I had gloves on. I quickly grasped my hand to dull the pain. I was sure my fingers would be mangled under the gloves. I did not want to look. It took a long time for the throbbing to stop. Finally, after about ten minutes, I dared to pull off the glove…. A lot of people live compromised lives by not being honest… At times as I’ve brainstormed with other folks about how to help people in our community, we’ve thought about how learning to budget money would be a great class. But then I realize that many people who could use the knowledge really don’t want to know how much they are spending in certain categories… Be honest about your decisions, your life…your Christian walk…When is the last time you have asked the Lord to convict your and shed light in the dark corners of your life?
The Lord has give us a way to measure how honest we are in walking the path he desires for us. What kind of fruit is being produced around you? An important way to be honest/realistic is to take measure what kind of fruit is being produced around you? READ Eph. 5:9. As you live your life in Christ, you will make a difference to others, you will be a testimony of Christ. Righteousness. Goodness. Truth.
The alternative is given in Eph. 5:11-12 about living in darkness….
Living in the light, being honest is to be an open book. Be the same person in private as in public. I have read one of the major reasons Billy Graham was admired is because of his consistency. I am proud to say I have heard that same thing said a 1000 times of one of my heros: my father….READ Eph. 5:13-14. Light is healing//, revealing//, cleansing// growing// exposing//… “turn your face to the son and the shadows fall behind you.” Live by the light of Christ. You do it by imitating Christ, WWJD…. Find out what pleases the Lord, WJBP… it takes wisdom to apply the values of Christ regarding your attitudes towards others. It takes discipline to be honest, asking the Lord to convict you, and to be thankful. Eph. 5:15-20 reaffirms that living with your face towards the son is positive active commitment: READ.
There is a lot in this scripture. Don’t end this sermon with my words, but now write the best sermon of all as you consider your calling as a Christian desiring to live a life of faith: May the Lord speak to your heart, affirm you in your Christian walk where you need to be affirmed, and convict you where you need to be convicted…
I want to end by affirming the most lofty line in this scripture, Eph. 5:14b. I have failed in this scripture if anybody walks away equating my words to a self help book. The Lord has given us a mind to think. We are to use it. We are to put in the hard work of disciplines of the faith in order to walk in the way of Christ. I believe everything I said… but these words underscore the fact that it takes more than hard work to mature in Christ. It takes more than wisdom. Transformation is a supernatural work of God. “Rise from the dead” Paul thunders. Only God can raise the dead! Amen! Only God can raise the dead.
God has given us a roadmap of Christian living in Ephesians, imitate Christ, with wisdom apply the values of Christ to your life, but we will fall short. This is why we must rely on the resurrection power of Jesus Christ for complete transformation. Amen.