Sunday Morning 6/23/2013

Posted by Sherry

I Need You
(1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
CBC 6/23/2013

I. Each Member Is Indispensable
A. Not all the same
B. But each is essential
II. Each Member Is Interdependent
A. Not all the same
B. But each relies on every other
III. Each Member Is Interconnected
A. Not all the same
B. But each part affects every other part

Cartoons, Lucy demands that Linus change the channel on the TV and then threatens him with her fist if he doesn’t.
“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.
“These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re noth-ing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”
“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus.
Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?” (Bruce Shelley, What Is the Church, p. 38).

  • powerful illustration 
    • how the Church, the Body of Christ, is designed to work together. 
    • Remember, “Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.” 
    • It is when we come together. AS A CHURCH...
    • that we become an effective instrument for tearing down the strongholds of Satan 
    • and for communicating the love of the Savior. 
12 For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
13 For by [[d]means of the personal agency of] one [Holy] Spirit we were all, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, baptized [and [e]by baptism united together] into one body, and all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one limb or organ but of many.
15 If the foot should say, Because I am not the hand, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body?
16 If the ear should say, Because I am not the eye, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where [would be the sense of] hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where [would be the sense of] smell?
18 But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each [particular one] of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation.
19 But if [the whole] were all a single organ, where would the body be?
20 And now there are [certainly] many limbs and organs, but a single body.
21 And the eye is not able to say to the hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 But instead, there is [absolute] necessity for the parts of the body that are considered the more weak.
23 And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum),
24 Which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance],
25 So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another.
26 And if one member suffers, all the parts [share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members [share in] the enjoyment of it.
27 Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].

  • Paul compares the Church to the human body. 
    • communicates the important truth of our need to accept our differences as individual members of the Body of Christ 
    • and to recognize these differences as vital to the proper functioning of the whole. 
    • Our differences are not to be accentuated, resulting in division. 
    • Rather, they are for the purpose of meeting the various needs that exist within the Church
    • —both locally and globally. 
    • There are many parts because there are many needs
    • And without the various parts, some needs would be neglected.

  • The point that Paul is trying to make can be summed up in this motto:  
    • I need you! 
    • Let me repeat it so there’s no mistaking it: 
    • I need you!

  • focus our attention on applying these words to our lives. 
  • three principles of body life within the Church 

Each Member Is Indispensable
  • While each member of the Body of Christ is not the same, 
    • each of us is essential to the whole.
    • analogy of the human body 
    • which is made up of many different parts 
    • to show us how the variety of parts-
      • eyes, 
      • hands, 
      • ears, 
      • nose
    • is essential to the whole-ness of the body. 
    • Each part must be present in order for the body to be complete.
    • If the human body was made up of only one part,
    • then it would cease to be a body
    • —by definition, a body is made up of many parts.
  • if it were possible for a body to be made up on only one part, 
    • it would it would be an extremely limited body
    • —it would miss out on all the functionality 
    • and potential of all the other parts. 
      • eyes to see, 
      • ears to hear, 
      • hands to touch, and 
      • noses to smell. 
      • various parts contribute to the whole in unique and significant ways that no other part can do.

  • So it is with the Body of Christ. 
    • God has made us all different and unique. 
    • He gifts us each in particular ways like no one else. 
    • We are each special and necessary. 
    • And we are to carry out the function for which we were created and gifted by God, 
      • whether it is for seeing, 
      • hearing, 
      • smelling, 
      • touching or 
      • whatever. 
      • “Each part…must be willing to perform its own function 
      • and not seek to function in a role for which it was not made” 
  • ILL: Mrs. Floyd Crook recalls, “I came home from school one day crying because I had been given only a small part in the children’s program, while my playmate got the leading role. After drying my tears, my mother took off her watch and put it in my hand. ‘What do you see?’ she asked. ‘A gold case, a face, and two hands,’ I replied. Opening the back, she repeated the question. I told her I saw many tiny wheels. ‘This watch would be useless,’ she said, ‘without every part—even the ones you can hardly see.’”
  • Not all of us will play the leading roles in the Church. 
    • Some have to be the supporting actors and actresses. 
    • But we all have a purpose and a place in the Church. 
    • Each of us is important and essential. 
    • In order for the Church to function properly, 
    • it must have a variety of parts that work together as a whole. 
    • Remember: I need you!

Each Member Is Interdependent
  • second principle
    • Every part of the Body of Christ relies on the proper functioning of every other part.
    • Without cooperative and corporate participation 
    • many (if not all) vital tasks would be impossible. 
    • example: speaking, 
    • Speech is possible only when my brain, nerves, tongue, jaws, lips, larynx, lungs, diaphragm, heart, veins, arteries, capillaries and parts unknown to me all work together for that specific purpose. 
    • What appears on the surface to be the work of only one part of the body is actually a very complex and precise cooperative act of many members of the body.
    • same is true of the Church. 
    • Each member is interdependent. 
    • Even the most menial functioning of that Body requires a coordinated effort between the various members. 
    • Kenneth Chafin, “All the pictures of the church are group pictures. The more mature we become in Christ, the more we realize that throughout our entire life we will continue to need each other” (1, 2 Corinthians, p. 157).

* ILL: In a certain mountain village in Europe several centuries ago, a nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to the townspeople. At last he decided to build them a church.
No one saw the complete plans for the church until it was finished. When the people gathered, they marveled at its beauty and completeness. Then someone asked, “But where are the lamps? How will they be lighted?”
The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls. Then he gave each family a lamp that they were to bring with them each time they came to worship.
“Each time you are here the area where you are seated will be lighted,” the nobleman said. “Each time you are not here, that area will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God’s house will be dark” (Church Bulletin Bits).

  • God has placed you here in a strategic role! 
    • You are part of the successfulness and effectiveness of this church. 
    • Everyone else is depending on you to be here and carry out your function. 
    • when you fail to be here and/or carry out your function in this body...
    • the whole church suffers. 
    • So use your gifts to the glory of God and leave the results to him. 
    • Remember: I need you!

Each Member Is Interconnected
  • final principle 
    • whatever affects one member of the Body of Christ is felt by all of the members.
    • Most don’t give a lot of thought to our little pinkie toes 
    • But suppose you carelessly bump that pinkie toe into the leg of a chair. 
    • Let me assure you, 
    • it will become immediately evident that your pinkie toe does, in fact, exist. 
    • Every part of your body will join in its pain. 
    • The leg and foot that is not injured will begin to jump up and down. 
    • Your back will bend over in order to enable your arm and hand to ex-tend a soothing massage. 
    • All the members necessary for speech will join in and offer groans that words cannot express. 
    • No part of your body will go untouched by the injury to your pinkie toe. 
    • All will be affected. 
    • All will come to its aid  
    • That’s what Paul is saying in v. 26: If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. We are all related. There are ties between each of us that make us inseparable. 
    • Paul describes those ties in v. 13, For we were all baptized by one Spirit, into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 
    • We are interconnected.

  • When something happens to one member of our church body, 
    • whether it is good or bad, 
    • all of the other members of the body are to respond accordingly. 
    • we cannot be blind to what is happening in our church members life and 
    • to remain a vital part of this local body, 
    • we must do our part in seeing that we are in touch with all of the other members of this body. 
    • We have to know if they are hurting, and join them in their suffering. 
    • We have to know if they are rejoicing, and join them in their happiness.

  • One of the major diseases affecting the Body of Christ today 
    • spiritual leprosy. 
    • physical leprosy 
    • Webster’s “a germ disease causing gradual loss of feeling.”
    • they become numb to the conditions surrounding them. 
    • They can’t sense what is happening around them. 
    • One who has leprosy could cut himself/herself and never experience the sensation of pain. 
    • As a result, the wound receives no attention, 
    • infection sets in. 
    • If not treated in time, 
    • the infection could progress to gangrene and 
    • eventually destroy the whole body.

  • Body of Christ infected by spiritual leprosy. 
    • unable to sense what is occurring in the lives of the other members of the body.
    • One member may get injured. 
    • If that injury is not attended to, 
    • it will become progressively worse until that person is finally ruined. 
    • In time, it will destroy the entire body. 
    • We must beware that we do not become infected with this fatal disease.

  • We are interconnected to one another. 
    • We must share in the experiences of one another. 
    • Get to know the various parts. 
    • Don’t just spend all of your time with certain parts
    • —make yourself known to others. 
    • You take the first step; 
    • don’t wait until they come to you. 
    • And keep your eyes focused outward to the needs of others. 
    • Join others in their grief and joy. 
    • Remember: I need you!

  • Aesop. 
    • famous for his many fables that teach important moral lessons. 
    • Fable of the Belly.

“One day it occurred to the members of the body that they were doing all the work while the belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting (presumably without inviting the belly) and after a long discussion decided to strike work until the belly consented to take its proper shareof the work. So for a day or two the hands refused to take the food, the mouth refused to receive it and the teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two, the members began to find that they themselves were not in very active condition. The hands could hardly move, the mouth was all parched and dry, while the legs were unable to support the rest of the body. Thus they found that even the belly in its dull, quiet way was doing necessary work for the body and that all must work together or the body will go to pieces.”

Invitation: everyone stand up and turn to those around you—all around you—and look them in the eyes and say, “I need you!”

Sunday Morning 6/16/2013

Posted by Sherry

John 13:23; 19:25-27; 20:2
CBC 6/16/2013 SM

INTRO:I’m going to read some verses and you tell me what they all have in common...

TEXT: JN 13:23 
23 One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved [whom He esteemed and delighted in], was reclining [next to Him] on Jesus’ bosom.

TEXT JN 19:25-27
25 But by the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the [wife] of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 So Jesus, seeing His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, said to His mother, [[b]Dear] woman, See, [here is] your son!
27 Then He said to the disciple, See, [here is] your mother! And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own [keeping, own home].

TEXT JN 20:2  
2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus [tenderly] loved, and said to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him!

TEXT JN 21:7  
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord! Simon Peter, hearing him say that it was the Lord, put (girded) on his upper garment (his fisherman’s coat, his outer tunic)—for he was stripped [for work]—and sprang into the sea.

Dads...How do you become a disciple that Jesus “loves” tenderly, esteems & delights in?

    • 23 - John reclined (customary position) next to Jesus & rested on Jesus’ chest
    • 2 - John could run faster than Peter (3 Upon this, Peter and the other disciple came out and they went toward the tomb.4 And they came running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and arrived at the tomb first.)
    • 7 - John could recognize Jesus at a distance before other disciples
    • 26 - John was only one mentioned at the foot of the cross taking care of business during Jesus’ crucifixion
    • @ the Last Supper
      • “next” to Jesus
      • “resting” on Jesus
      • “leaning” on Jesus
      • “listening” to Jesus
    • @ the foot of the cross during Jesus’ crucifixion
      • other disciples ran away
      • Peter denied he even knew Jesus (not once, but 3 times_
      • some disciples took a position in the distance
      • John publicly identified himself with Jesus
      • John wasn’t scared of physical consequences
      • John took his place of service by Mary, Jesus’ mother
      • John accepted responsibility of being Mary’s caretaker (in his own home) when assigned by Jesus
    • @ the empty tomb
      • John was trusted by Mary Magdalene with “unbelievable” information
      • John “acted on” unbelievable information
      • John was a true “first responder”
    • @ the sea shore after the resurrection
      • recognized Jesus at a distance (fishing boat to shore)
      • he had to be looking for Jesus (how many times had he glanced around before?)
      • identified Jesus as his “LORD”
      • was quick to tell the others in the boat
    • if you want the distinction of being a disciple, loved & esteemed by Jesus...
    • you’ve got to emulate the life of John
    • no short cuts or you’ll be like the other 11...
    • If you want the distinction of being a DAD, 
      • tenderly loved - by wife & kids
      • esteemed - by immediate family & in-laws
      • delighted in - by your soul mate & the love of your life
    • It’s still about “proximity”
      • you’ve got to be THERE, 
        • with them - 
          • letting them recline & lean on you (fig. & actually)
          • listening to them & understanding what they are trying to communicate to you
          • not tuned into the game on tv w/ selective hearing for your wife
          • by your wife’s side
            • at her recreation
            • during child discipline
            • addressing & solving financial situations
            • out running anybody & anything that causes her insecurity
        • for them
          • first responder
          • taking action on “unbelievable information”
          • constantly looking for them
          • recognize them & their needs AT A DISTANCE
          • at the cross of tragedy
            • broken hearts
            • loss of loved ones
            • skinned knees
            • children’s break-up with “first loves”
JN 15:12-17 
12 This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.
13 No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.
14 You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.
15 I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]
16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [b]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you.
17 This is what I command you: that you love one another.

Sunday Morning 6-2-2013

Posted by Sherry

Revelation 7:16
CBC 6/2/2013 SM

INTRO: We’ve always thought of heaven as a very positive place. 
I’m here to tell you there are a bunch of NEGATIVES.
We don’t have time to discuss them all, but here are a few...
  • 7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun smite them, nor any scorching heat.
    • hunger for food
      • increasing in america 
      • feeding 37 million Americans (9 million children)
      • 1 in 8 rely on help for food
      • 36% of households helped has at least one person working
      • daily choice between food, rent, utilities & medical care
      • number of children in need has increased by 50% since 2006
    • hunger for lust of the eye
      • desire to possess what we see
      • to have those things which have visual appeal
      • guys more visually stimulated than women
      • these physical things do not last, they change & pass away
      • avenue of temptation 
      • Satan tempted Eve when she “looked” @ forbidden fruit & saw it was “pleasing to the eye
      • Satan showed Jesus the kingdoms of the world & tempted Him w/ power
    • hunger for lust of the flesh
      • love of beauty w/out a corresponding love of righteousness
      • people don’t ordinarily desire ugly things
      • created in God’s image & He desires “beauty”
      • remember, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
      • beauty is term for things that have power to create DESIRE in us
      • w/out righteousness we will break God’s laws to obtain what we hold as beautiful (Adam & Eve) (nut doesn’t fall far from the tree)
      • Beauty
        • delightful to the senses
        • gratifying
        • evokes admiration & excitement 
      • Adam & Eve suffered great loss b/c they didn’t love RIGHTEOUSNESS
      • RESULT - beauty was taken away from them...
      • lust of the flesh—
        • sexual gratification, 
        • gluttony, 
        • excessive alcohol consumption, and 
        • drugs, both legal and illegal, as well as the 
        • “deeds of the flesh” about which Paul warned the Galatians,
        • “sexual immorality, 
        • impurity, 
        • sensuality, 
        • idolatry, 
        • sorcery, 
        • enmity, 
        • strife, 
        • jealousy, 
        • fits of anger, 
        • rivalries, 
        • dissensions, 
        • divisions, 
        • envy, 
        • drunkenness, 
        • orgies, 
        • and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21)
    • hunger for pride of life
      • anything that leads to...
        • arrogance
        • ostentation
        • pride in self
        • presumption
        • boasting
      • pride is produced by a LOVE FOR THE WORLD
      • “if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15
      • our nature to desire to be exalted above our station
      • our nature to desire god-like qualities
      • the very sin that got Satan expelled from heaven
      • he desired to “be” God, not the servant of God
      • elevate self above others
      • fulfill all personal desires
        • Jesus said for us to take up our cross & follow others
        • Jesus said we are to deny our flesh
        • Jesus said to love our neighbor as ourself
1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
  • in heaven - no hunger, thirst or scorching heat
    • inhabitants of heaven don’t have to choose between food or utility bills
    • no night
    • no candles
    • no curse
    • no sun (1 trip to Dermatologist will make you thankful for that...)
    • no death
    • no second death
    • no guile in people’s mouth
    • no time (keeping)
    • no evil
    • no Satan or his host of demons
Have you made your preparations?
A real relationship with Jesus is the only way to experience heaven.
Posers won’t get there...
Jesus said, “Depart from me ye that work iniquity, for I never knew you”
I would love to help you get it right...

Sunday Morning 5/26/2013

Posted by Sherry

Ephesians 5:1
CBC 5/26/2013 SM
INTRO: Have we been conditioned as a society to not expect people to change?
  • ILL: "Popeye the Sailor Man" (frustrated) "I yam what I yam."
    • Popeye wasn't a sophisticated guy.  
    • he didn't have much education.  
    • He knew who he was; 
    • a simple, 
    • sea-faring, 
    • pipe-smoking, 
    • Olive Oyl-loving 
    • sailor man.  
    • he wouldn't pretend to be anything else.
  • "I yam what I yam."  
    • generally offered as an explanation of his shortcomings.  
    • an expression that doesn't anticipate much growth or personal change.  
    • expression that doesn't leave him much of a shot at getting to be something that, 'I yam not. 
    • Don't get your hopes up', Popeye seemed to say.  
    • 'Don't expect too much.  
    • I yam what I yam and that is all that I yam.' "
  • Essay in Time Magazine by Bill Walton detailing Bobby Knight
    • abrasive coaching style
    • “terrorizes his players through violence, slandering, foul language & bullying
    • Walton poses the question...
    • Do we really expect Knight to change?
    • He is who he is. I yam what I yam

TEXT: Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].
  • We live in a low expectation culture. 
    • A culture that continues to lower the bar.  
    • we say of ourselves, "I yam what I yam and that is all that I yam."  
    • we say of others, "That is just who he is or that is just who she is."  
    • "They yar who they yar and that's all that they yar."
In our culture, acceptance and tolerance trumps any expectation of personal growth or change.  
  • First, we are told to accept ourselves for who we already are.  .
    • I'm okay, you're okay.  
    • title of a book at Barnes and Noble, I'm Dysfunctional. You're Dysfunctional. 
    • embrace our shortcomings.  
    • accept our limitations, 
    • be the victim, 
    • celebrate our weaknesses, 
    • just be our genetically programmed selves.  
    • Our culture says, 
      • "Hey, we are all a dysfunctional mess.  
      • So just deal with it.  
      • Don't expect anything more."
  • Second, we're told to tolerate others as they are and we don't dare judge them!
    • "Remember", "it is not a choice, it is a lifestyle.  
    • didn't Jesus say we need to love everybody and accept them unconditionally and embrace them?"  
    • With tolerance, behaviors once labeled and understood as deviant have now been normalized.
    • And just think, all this acceptance and tolerance stuff is spilling over into our public schools.  
      • Schools are abolishing failing grades.  
      • Teachers are being expressly forbidden to speak those reality-invoking words, "wrong answer."  
      • Standards for personal conduct are also being dumbed down.  
      • We are told things like, "Little Tommy didn't do anything wrong.  
      • He just has low self-esteem.  
      • Don't discipline him.  
      • Don't spank him.  
      • Don't correct him.  
      • Don't scold him.  
      • Don't expect anything different from him."
  • Our culture is a Christ-less mess, 
    • in the church things should be different.  
    • We should be the polar opposite  
    • J. Stott suggests, "We should be a Christian counter-culture.  As our culture lowers the bar for personal growth, we should raise it.  As our culture opts for lower expectations, we should raise expectations.  As our culture buys into tolerance, we should hold up the life of Christ and call men and women everywhere to repent and embrace his lifestyle.  As our culture settles for mediocrity, we should pursue personal holiness."
  • Unfortunately, as goes the culture, so goes the Church.  
    • Many churches getting into the self-esteem business.  
    • becoming obsessed with making people feel good about who they already are,
    • instead of making them feel great about who they can become.  
    • They can be like Jesus Christ.
    • In our churches, we are turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.  
    • Generally speaking, in the Church, we justify our apathy in matters of 
      • church discipline 
      • with a misapplication of Jesus' command not to judge.  
      • We have disobediently embraced a soft, country club style tolerance.
  • we are rightly emphasizing God's 
    • grace, 
    • mercy, 
    • love,  
    • forgiveness.  
  • But in many cases, we have stopped talking about 
    • repentance, 
    • confession, 
    • obedience  
    • judgment.  
We stopped emphasizing the fact that while God's grace is sufficient, God still has high expectations for us.
  • God has high expectations for us.
    • Ephesians 5:1 (NIV), "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us."  
    • Philippians 2:5 (NIV), "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."    
    • 1 Peter 1:15 (NIV) Peter says, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do."
    • You don’t have to read the Bible very long before realizing that "I yam what I yam" doesn't cut it with God.  
    • The only person in the entire Bible who ever said "I yam what I yam" was God himself  
    • Exodus 3:14 (NIV).  He literally told Moses, "I AM WHO I AM."  
      • God is everything he needs to be.  
      • He is perfect.  
      • He is holy.  
      • He is pure.  
      • He is righteous.  
      • He is sinless.  
      • He is supreme.  
      • He is sufficient in and of himself.  
      • He has every right to be satisfied with who he already is.  
  • We, on the other hand, have not yet arrived.  
    • We are imperfect.  
    • We are blemished, 
    • impure, 
    • unrighteous, 
    • sinful 
    • finite.
  • God doesn't want us to become complacent about who we are.  
    • He expects us to 
      • grow, 
      • change, 
      • mature, 
      • be transformed into Christ-likeness. 
      • Romans 8:29 (NIV) God predestined us, "to be conformed to the likeness of his Son."  
      • Ephesians 3:19 (NIV) that we, "may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  
      • Hebrews 12:14 (NIV), "make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."
  • Scripture after scripture affirms God's expectation for us.  
    • His expectation is that he wants us to be just like his son, Jesus Christ.  
      • In word, 
      • in action, 
      • in thought,
      • in attitude.  
      • Jesus wants us to be like himself entirely.
      • We are called to be imitators of God.
  • Ephesians 5:1 (NIV).  In this verse Paul says, "Be imitators of God."  
    • summarizes everything about God's expectation for his Church.  
    • become like Christ in every way.
  • Notice several things about this verse.  
    • First, there is an emphasis on being, not just on doing.  
    • "Be imitators of God."  
    • big difference between being and doing.  
    • one thing to do nice things for people.  
    • another thing to be a nice person.  
    • Doing superficial or external.  
    • about appearances.  
    • Doing can be coerced or forced.  
    • "You apologize to your brother."  
    • Doing can be motivated by a guilty conscience or by a deceptive heart.  
    • WWJD only addresses the external issues of doing.  
    • It does not address matters of the spirit or heart.
  • On the other hand, being is all-inclusive.  
    • Being includes the external, outward behaviors.  
    • Being includes the internal, private matters of the heart.  
    • Being includes the attitude or the spirit with which one obeys God.  
    • Being involves loving God with all your heart, mind, body and soul.  
    • Being involves your entire being, totally and completely.
  • Second, there is an emphasis on God as our standard, and not on man as our standard.  
    • Paul says, "Be imitators of God."  
    • 1 Peter 1:15 (NIV), "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do."  
    • 1 Peter 1:16 (NIV) God says, "Be holy, because I am holy."  
    • God's expectation is that we live up to the standard that he himself is.  
    • In the Church, there can be no dumbing-down of standards, 
    • because God cannot be dumbed down to our comfort level.  
    • God wants us to be like him.  
    • He wants us to imitate him in every way.
    • Who we should become and who God is, are one and the same thing.  
    • God has set himself up as our standard.  
    • He alone is the bar, 
    • the goal, 
    • the ideal 
    • the measuring stick.  
    • "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do."  1 Peter 1:15  (NIV)
  • Healthy churches have high expectations. 
    • Healthy churches expect their members to grow and mature into Christ-likeness.  
    • Healthy churches expect their leaders to be godly men.  
      • Men of character, 
      • men of competence, 
      • men who will lead well. 
    • Healthy churches refuse to lower the bar from where God has set it.  
      • God's expectation for this church is that we be imitators of himself.
  • So why are high expectations so important?  
    • really simple.  
    • Nobody rises to low expectations.  
    • With low expectations, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG).  
    • We will always get from one another only what we expect from one another.  
    • If we expect little, we will get little.  
    • if we expect much, we will get much.  
    • And why would we want for each other anything less than the absolute best we can become?
  • Communion with God.
    • we are forced to wrestle with God's high expectation of us.  
    • He is looking for perfection.  
    • He is looking for holiness.  
    • He is looking for purity.  
    • He is looking for righteousness.  
    • Though God's high expectation enables us to soar to greater and greater heights as we strive to become all that God is, it is also true that God's high expectation can be a source of discouragement.
    • The difficulty we face is that every day, 
    • we disappoint God in some way.  
    • Every day we fail to live up to his high expectations.  
    • Every day we sin.  
    • Not once, not twice, but dozens of times.  
    • Every day we fail to measure up.
  • So what are we to do about this?  
    • Should we give up?  
    • Should we raise a white flag of surrender?  
    • Should we go the way of our culture and lower the bar?  
    • Should we set our sights on becoming something less than Christ?  
    • Should we embrace our shortcomings?  
    • Should we accept our limitations?  
    • Should we turn a blind eye to our own inadequacies?  
    • Should we force ourselves into feeling good about being less than Christ-like? 
    • Should we mope around, defeated and discouraged and depressed?
  • We should always strive for Christ-likeness.
    • The answer to this dilemma is two-fold.  
    • First, we must never strive for anything less than total Christ-likeness.  
    • God wants us to be holy, just as he is holy.  
    • He doesn't want us to be two-thirds holy or good enough holy.  
    • Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)  indicates, God wants us to, "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."  
    • God wants us to go all the way!
    • Second, we must remember 
      • that the perfection, 
      • the purity, 
      • the holiness 
      • the righteousness God desires from us can only found in Jesus Christ. 
      • Only Jesus can truly satisfy God's standard of perfection and holiness. 
      • Jesus is the unblemished lamb, 
      • the perfect sacrifice.  
      • Jesus is our righteousness.  
      • We look to Christ to fill up everything that is lacking in our relationship with God.
  • While striving to be imitators of God, 
  • we confess our utter dependence on Jesus Christ 
  • to satisfy God's requirement for perfect holiness.  
  • his is what the gospel is all about.  
  • God's grace.  
  • This is how we reconcile God's high expectations and our human failures.