Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

05/06/2018A.M.

 

The Good Life

Made Possible By Perseverance & Determination

 

Hebrews 3.12-13 & 10.24-25   Acts 2.42 & Romans 8.26-27   Galatians 5.19-24  

James 1.2-4  Matthew 28.18-20... 1 John 5.4-5  & Matthew 6.25-34

 

After surviving fifty-four hours adrift in the Atlantic... The future uncertainty caused a man to say... I can’t take it anymore... And he jumped from the life raft to death by drowning. ONLY an hour later... The Coast Guard spotted their raft and sent a rescue ship. Had he only known how close he and his companions were to safety... He could have found the strength to endure...To persevere… To have kept-on-keeping-on.

 

Sometimes we miss out on the Good Life Jesus promised… Simply because we fail to run with… Patience… Perseverance… Persistence… Determination… The race God has set before us.

 

Does God demand Persistent Determination?...

 

I think so… Listen to these Scripture that challenge us...

Luke 9.62...No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 10.22... He who stands firm to the end will be saved.

1 Corinthians 9.24… So… Run in such a way as to receive the prize.

Philippians 3.12... Not that I have already obtained all this... Or have already been made perfect... But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Hebrews 12.1... Let us throw off everything that hinders... The sin that so easily entangles... Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Galatians 6.9-10… Let us not become weary in doing good…For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up… Therefore…As we have opportunity… Let us do good to all people.

James 1.25... The man who looks into the perfect law that gives freedom... And continues to do this... Not forgetting what he has heard... But doing it... Will be blessed in what he does.

2 Peter 1.3-11... Speaks to us of adding to our faith... Multiplying the Christian graces in order to make our calling and election sure.

 

Is there any doubt that God desires persistent determination of us...?

 

The entire Book of Revelation is a call from God to be... patient... DETERmINED To persevere regardless of how severe the deterrent to faithfulness becomes.

 

This morning... We examine some areas....In which we need to apply...

Patience... Persistence... Determination...

 

First... In our fellowship.

Listen for three things that need our persistence as I read Hebrews 3.12-13 and 10.24-25 together...Ready?... See to it... Brothers... That none of you has a sinful... Unbelieving heart.. That turns away from the living God...

  1. But encourage one another daily... As long as it is called today... So that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

  2. Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.

  3. Let us not give up meeting together... As some are in the habit of doing... But let us encourage one another... And all the more as you see the Day approaching.

     

    Who could read these verses and not understand the importanceof fellowship.

    • God created us with a need for... One another... Togetherness... One anotherness.

    • Scripture tells us that... It is not good that man should be alone.

    • There are nearly one hundred one another passages in the New Testament... WHY is that? Because...Our persistence in Fellowship helps us persevere in overcoming Satan.

     

    Paul says... Evil companions...Evil Communications corrupts good character...

    Church... The opposite is also true... Good company cultivates character.

     

    Our Wednesday Evening Discussion Class is asking the question... How do we restore the excitement... The enthusiasm... The good stuff... That was present in the First Church in Acts chapter two?... Perhaps the first thing we must do is restore the excitement of fellowship!!

     

    Find me a church that is determined to maintain peace and harmony… UNITY in the fellowship... And I’ll show you a loving... caring group of Christians... A FAMILY!

     

    I’ll show you a church built after.. And one that lives like… The first church in Jerusalem...

    They all joined together constantly in prayer... Along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus...And with His brothers.

     

    They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching... And to the fellowship... To the breaking of bread and to prayer.... Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

     

    • It was Jesus who said... By this shall all men know that you are my disciples... HOW?... If you have love one for another.

     

    Church... Here’s the question each of us must answer this morning...

    • What demonstrates our love for one another?... Persistent fellowship!!

    Do we look forward to meeting together with excitement... Or do we look for excuses for not being here?... Look around...Some are not here because they choose not to be.

     

    GOD HELP US TO FIND WAYS TO BE PERSISTENT IN FELLOWSHIP!!... Amen?

     

    Secondly... WE MUST BE persistent in our prayer life.

    Back to the early church...They were persistent in their prayer life.

    • In Acts 1... They were joined together constantly in prayer.

    • In Acts 2... They continued steadfast in prayer.

    • In chapter 3... Peter and John were going to the Temple at the time of prayer.

    • In 4... They prayed after Peter and John were released from jail.

    • In chapter 6... The apostles asked for seven men be appointed to take care of the widows so that they could spend more time in prayer.

    • The church prayed for Peter’s release from prison in chapter 12.

    • Paul & Barnabas were sent on their first missionary journey with prayer & fasting.

    • Elders were ordained with prayer and fasting in Acts 14.

    • In chapter seventeen… Paul and the Ephesians Elders parted with prayer.

     

    Persistent prayer enables us to live... The good life… The exciting life...

     

    Romans 8.26-27... The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for... But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit... Because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

     

    Ephesians 6.18... And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind... Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

     

    Philippians 4.6... Do not be anxious about anything... But in everything... By prayer and petition... With thanksgiving...Present your requests to God.

     

    Colossians 4.2... Devote yourselves to prayer...Being watchful and thankful.

     

    1 Thessalonians 5.17... Pray continually... Pray always!!

     

    Let me tell you... If you missed our Wednesday Evening Prayer Service... You missed the excitement of the early church in prayer.

     

    Have we have lost the excitement of the early church... Because we no longer believe that God answers prayer?

     

    Persistent... Life changing... Prayer... Harnesses us... Yokes us... Ties us...To a power much greater than we can muster individually... And corporately.

     

    Persistent prayer harnesses us to the power of God.

    Prayer changes lives... If you don’t believe this… Just Try it!!

     

    Thirdly... We need to be determined to live in moral purity.

    Our world... Our nation...Has given in to immorality... But God demands... We live differently...That we be peculiar people... That we live in the excitement of moral purity.

     

    I can’t word this any better than did Paul from Galatians chapter five... Where he contrasts immorality with the fruit of God living in us... The acts of the sinful flesh nature are obvious: Sexual immorality,impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions... Envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control... Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful flesh nature with its passions and desires.

     

    James tells us that Persistent moral purity... Keeping one’s self unspotted from the world... Is the kind of religion that God accepts.

     

    Isn’t it time… That we in the church... This church... Be known for something more than doctrinal soundness... That we be known as the people who live the exciting life of MORAL Purity... Not just sometimes... But persistently so... AMEN?

     

    We’re to be... Persistent... Steadfast… Determined...in the face of Persecution.

     

    Joy in persecution?...Is that Possible?

     

    Listen to James... Count it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

     

    Acts 5.41 tells us the First Church was... Excited... Even Joyous... About the fact that they were considered worthy to be persecuted... Suffering for the name of Jesus.

     

    Peter says we ought to rejoice greatly when called to suffer with Jesus... Because it proves our faith to be genuine... And it will bring a blessing when He comes.

     

    Paul tells Timothy... Those who will live Godly lives will be... Tried... Persecuted.

     

    Biblical Writers tell us there’s an exciting reason for trials and persecution...

    • Sometimes trials direct and redirect us... Solomon wrote... Blows and wounds cleanse away evil... And the beatings of life...Life’s sufferings... Purge our inner being.

     

    We’ll all agree that trials and suffering certainly directed and redirected Jonah’s life in a most exciting way.

     

    • Sometimes prosecution humbles us... Deuteronomy 8.2 reads... The Lord led you through the wilderness... (WHAT FOR?)... To humble you.

     

    • Persecution lets us see the glory of God at work... In John chapter nine... Jesus said concerning the blind man... This happened so that... The work of God... The glory of God... Could be seen in his life this day.

     

    • Persecution also occurs to strengthen us and teach us patient perseverance... Romans 5.2-4 says... We also rejoice in our sufferings... Because we know that suffering produces perseverance...perseverance... character... and character... hope.

     

    • The Hebrews’ Writer tells us that sometimes trials are used to discipline us.

     

    Church... The question is this... Will we be drawn closer to God... And closer to one another... because of our patience in suffering and persecution... Or will we stumble in our trials?

     

    I believe God desires we be persistent in sharing JESUS with the lost.

    This promise and challenge is from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 28... All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations... Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit... Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always... To the end of the age.

     

    How long does Jesus promise to be with us?... As long as we’re reaching the lost...

    SO... SO...

    • Our persistence in evangelism...

    • Persistence in... sharing Jesus... Exemplifying Jesus…

    Guarantees that Satan... Will not... Cannot... Win in our lives.

     

    Listen... If we’re not sensing the presence of Jesus in our life... Could it be because we’re not striving to share Him with others?

     

    Here it is church... We have the answer to...

    • Loneliness...

    • Depression...

    • Insecurity....

    • Low self-esteem...

    • Addictions…

    • Uncertainty…

    • Worry...

    • Doubt...

    • Fear.

     

    We have the answer to... Hate... Drugs... Crime... War... Divorce... Teenage pregnancy... And a thousand other problems...

     

    IT IS THE GOSPEL... THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS.

    • It’s About the excitement of a better way to live...

    • And FORGIVENESS when we fail.

     

    Then finally... We’re to be persistent in our walking by faith.

    Here’s the exciting news...FAITH is the VICTORY that OVERCOMES the world.

     

    Satan thrives in the lives of those of us who are afraid... But God blesses those who will live by faith... Listen to Jesus… I tell you... Do not worry about your life... What you will eat or drink... Or about your body... What you will wear. Is not life more important than food...And the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air... They do not sow or reap or store away in barns... And yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?... And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field... Which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire... Will he not much more clothe you... O you of little faith?... So do not worry… Saying… What shall we eat?... Or… What shall we drink?... Or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things...And your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness... And all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow... For tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

     

    Wow... What an exciting way to live... Not worrying... But Living the adventure God places before us.

     

    Arising each morning asking... God what do You have for me to do today?

     

    Listen... Isn’t it time you and I turned our life over to God…

    Living the adventure…

    • running The race…

    • finishing The course…

    • KEEPING THE FAITH...

    He has set before us?

     

    Richard Hooker spent seventeen years writing a funny story about the Korean Conflict... After all his time and effort... He sent it to twenty-one different publishers... And received twenty-one rejection letters. Hooker would not give up... He was Patiently persistent... He was determined… So… He submitted it to one more publisher... And William Morrow accepted the book and published it under the title of M-A-S-H...And the rest is history. Hooker’s determination is a model worthy of our imitating... In our Christian walk.

     

    Today’s invitation is an exciting one...

    • For each of us to take on a life that... Rises above the ordinary...

    • A life of Joy and excitement...

    Regardless of what comes our way.

     

    A life possible when we become His child by... Faith... Repentance... and New Testament Baptism.

     

    For those of us who are His children... The challenge is to be persistently determined... to live the good life Jesus came to make possible.

     

    Determine to live in Him and for Him as we stand and sing this song together.