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January 11, 2021 12:00 am
As we pursue good reputation.
We demonstrate a changed life through doing good, honorable, virtuous, delightful, profitable deeds, good deeds, claims doing good creator who laid out for us in his own excellence and creativity. Remember in Genesis chapter 1 goes on this amazing creative demonstration right brings everything into existence and he would stop and say that is good relationship with God is based on his grace, but as Christians we are to pursue what is good. You see, as a Christian you are the face of the church in the world perceives the Christian faith based on how it perceives you. This may seem like a daunting fact. But it's also a wonderful opportunity to repair the current perception of Christianity and of Christ in this message.
Stephen Devi describes how we do that by pursuing a good reputation in every aspect of life. Each of us has the ability to change minds and lives for the kingdom of God. Today's message is called rewriting the perception of God. I wonder world perceive us anything when they think of us and I wonder how close we are to what they really think about now as I try to answer the question in my mind. Obviously, for some, the church, you know, really doesn't exist at all.
It might be a building located on the corner trying on in Holly Springs.
That's about it for others. The church does exist, but it's for weddings and funerals and maybe Easter or Christmas service for many, the church exists, but they're not really sure why they're a bit confused for still others the church exists, but it really shouldn't because just the way it kinda makes us feel bad. How does the world be more specific. How does your world perceive the church has it ever occurred to you that the average person's perception of the church is directly related to their perception of you and me is never been a better time in this country at this time to make sure that our Christianity is not staying indoors that it isn't staying behind those proverbial stained-glass windows and what a wonderful time for us to do just that. How do we do that by the we take our Christianity out into the public arena. Most members of a local church, individually and corporately. We understand that the church is perceived collectively by virtue of our perceived individually. We need to make some promises to one another. Ultimately to the Lord in the first one is rather simple and short it's it's going to rewrite. By the way, the public perception of God in the gospel but it's it's fairly simple and here it is were making a commitment to pursue a good reputation in every aspect of life. Now when I say that immediately.
I hope to convey the idea that to rewrite the perception of our community related to God or the church or Christianity is not the launching of a program it's really the launching of people. It is some special method. This is going to be amazing were launching individual people into the community who pursue a good reputation and this is a personal commitment to integrity out there in the community may show you where Paul addresses this idea turn in your New Testament. The first Timothy chapter 3 is a chapter which we have addressed in previous studies delivering the qualifications for men who will serve as elders. The list also is a wonderful guideline for practical Christian living sanctification. That is how to grow in Christ and what that looks like for every man for every woman for every young person really serves as a wonderful guideline. Paul writes specifically about others and more broadly to those who want to grow in Christ, and he says this in verse seven buried in the list of qualifications. He says this and he must have a good reputation with those outside the church. That's a phrase that refers to unbelievers must have a good reputation and is not talking about inside the church but outside the church and the word he uses for good refers to a reputation that is you could use the synonyms virtuous, profitable in my Greek study. Even the word delightful showed up honorable would be a good pseudonym and I was a good reputation isn't just something we get a by showing up here or or serving one another in here in some profitable manner or being gracious or delightful or smiling people around here going the extra mile for people in here Paul effectively says of the good reputation is not only developed and to be exercised and pursued any here but they are so we are honorable out there.
We are virtuous out there. We are delightful out there.
Profitable out there. Simply put your for real, real people can pick up on the genuine article of goodness, but it's in the office or the classroom or the shop in the boardroom in the neighborhood and its in those scenes were the Christian earns this label good on honorable, virtuous, delightful, profitable, and Christianity in the church whether anybody really recognizes it in the world are not their perception of God is changed ever so slightly.
Paul makes the statement that those who are growing. Certainly those who serve as elders have a good reputation that implies there is the opposite right if he says there something as a good reputation that must mean there's something as a bad reputation. He's making a distinction between something we need to pursue. And it's good and, by implication, something we need to reject which is bad. Let me show you a detailed description of that contrast turned to his letter to the Ephesians turned back a few pages or so to the book of Ephesians in chapter 4 verse 17 this I say therefore and affirm, together with the Lord that you walk no longer is the Gentiles walk that word walk. You might expand in your mind. First, simply walk around.
That's what it means you are walking around is a reference to your lifestyle is a reference to your your desire. Your passion, the categorical description for someone's life or life. This is the life and the pursuit in the passion and the gall of the Gentile, which is a categorical term for someone who does not believe the gospel. This is their life.
By the way we were going to touch down.
But before we even do that. John started from Great Britain, who pastored for many decades faithfully now with the Lord's commentary on this paragraph said that this provides a good description of the downward spiral of an unbelievers heart and life. Notice verse 17 and the letter just as the Gentiles also walk in the futility of their mind being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them because of the hardness of their heart and they having become callous have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. In other words, they just can't get enough. Here's the digression.
Their hearts are hardened. He writes the original refers to a stone harder than marble.
We use the expression today.
They have a heart of stone from their hardened hearts come darkened hearts from darkened hearts come callous hearts. Your translation might read in verse 19. Having lost all sensitivity mind reads having become calloused.
The idea here is that the unbelievers heart is moved beyond the point where used to. Can't have a pang of guilt when needed. He's kind of feel bad about that and then I digressed until ultimately, he is actually proud of the fact that he does it. The idea here and that leads him to reckless living or stock, wrote a reckless heart and he writes in verse 19, Paul does describing them as greedily that is hungrily practicing every kind of sensuality and the word Paul uses. There is a word as it would describe somebody is literally throwing off all restraint and flaunting itself in the act of sin. Sin is something they are now very proud so that's the digression. Ultimately, then, that describes a bad reputation don't walk around don't pursue don't have this lifestyle is a believer, like the Gentiles are those who do not believe in that what Paul will do is contrast their reputation or lifestyle with the believer. Look at verse 20 Ephesians 4, but you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you've heard him and have been taught in him, just as truth is in Jesus that in reference to your former manner of life you lay aside the old self, the old man, which is being corrupted in accordance with the loss of deceit and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man that is the new self, which is in the likeness of God.
It's been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. This is very critical to understand the construction of this command indicates a repeated putting off and repeated putting on his writing. The people want to get a Christian so you make a decision to put off the old Manning a put on the new many stocking unbelievers who are growing in Christ that is that sanctification and you repeatedly put off the old man you say no and you repeatedly put on the new man. This is our this is our battle was in it. He's referring to those who will pursue this kind of good reputation you have this kind of battle and he puts it in an analogy of taking off all clothing and putting on new clothing maybe you did that after Christmas you got that new sweater allows her pair jeans or whatever and you put it on.
Maybe you discarded that which was older, maybe if still hung it in the closet and you might wear one day. That's the analogy he's using here he isn't talking about salvation. He's talking about sanctification, which is another way of referring to our lifestyle. That's the daily contest of the believer and the battle can shift a moment by moment. One day it's a battle against bitterness, the next it's a battle against loss. Sometimes it hour after hour battle against resentment. Or maybe it's a battle against covetousness battle against laziness or maybe it's a battle against pride and in one day.
Maybe battling every one of them and more to the unbeliever. It doesn't matter, there's no battle battle. If I did something wrong or private battle to the world to the unbeliever the world is a playground to the believer. The world is a battleground in a good and godly reputation love it never happens without a fight. A good reputation never happens by accident. You are constantly battling Satan flesh is the application someone with a godly reputation, rewrites and reconstructs the reputation of God is true.
That leads me to another promises we individual Christians and as a local assembly corporately make in regards for community is another way to go public.
Here is to bless the community through personal labor, talent investment and skill reflecting and glorifying the diligence, creativity and excellence of God's character but in the old and new Testaments. You have a number of references that we could spend a long time discovering this principle of bringing blessing and progress and advancement to the secular kingdom is a reflection of the excellence of our Creator God couldn't help but think of Joseph in Egypt sold in the slavery eventually becomes prime minister and he effectively saves that kingdom and surrounding world and in you have to ask the question why care why not let Egypt become a dustbowl.
Instead, Jeremiah the prophet challenges the Jewish exiles as they leave for their Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah 29 he says on behalf of God seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and prayed of the Lord on its behalf. Earlier in his farewell message. Jeremiah says here's what God says to all the exiles build houses live in them plant gardens either produce multiply there and do not decrease so long way of saying live there in such a way that you bless them by your presence. In fact, we could say this way live there in such a way that if you disappeared, they would miss you. They wouldn't be better off in that office without you if the church disappeared what our community needs better off or at a loss as the question the very fact that we care. The very fact we pray. The very fact that we invest and build maybe plant a garden like me try to grow some grass very fact that we try to do those things is a reflection of the excellencies of God, and we demonstrate by means of those activities.
The character of God to the people around us who don't know who God is and we represent him and he would call this good and in living that when we actually invite others to join us on and again were were demonstrating the character of God before God takes us home. We know this isn't home is taking us home and living in such a way like this. We invite other people to join us as we await God taking us home show you one more passage quickly if you'll turn to the right again and head back past Timothy to Titus. Titus chapter 3 if you were with us a couple years ago.
In our studies through this letter. You may remember that this island of Crete were Titus is ministering, establishing churches he's appointing elders this this population are largely the descendents of pirates. It was a tough community think they were so devious, so given the lying that there come this expression to be a liar was to be a cretin so we could they were influence community like that. Okay, what's going to be your strategy for reaching this kind of world we can do. I what is Titus going to tell them in what is called by means of the Holy Spirit going to look at verse eight. Titus chapter 3 verse eight.
This is a trustworthy statement and concerning these things. I want you to speak confidently so that those who have believed God nice talking to Christians. Those who believe God will be careful to engage in good deeds. He's not talking the people who want to become a Christian and you become a Christian. By doing good deeds using for those of you who believe your believers. Be careful to engage in getting the only time the words.
Be careful shall be in the New Testament and Myra got a dataset that 100,000 times.
Be careful, only this time, be careful, it means to think thoroughly it means to be intentional and unintentional in engaging in good deeds what he said again. Paul wasn't telling people how to get to heaven is telling believers how to live because you represent heaven, here's your strategy to reach all these descendents of pirates.
Here's the plan. Be intentional to do good deeds ever thought about the fact that good deeds are the advertising campaign of Christianity.
So start there. By the way, I find it interesting and I didn't know this until late in the my study that Paul uses the same word here to describe good deeds is used earlier in Timothy to describe good reputation same word good virtuous honorable deeds so as we pursue a good reputation.
We demonstrate a changed life for doing good, honorable, virtuous, delightful, profitable deeds, all of which imply integrity and creativity and diligence and perseverance, and excellence, good deeds, beloved points to a good creator who laid out for us in his own excellence and creativity.
Remember in Genesis chapter 1 he goes on this amazing creative demonstration right brings everything into existence and likely he would stop and say that is good that's good. And every time we with our hands with airmail. Our minds are effort or creativity. Our initiative is something good reflects our relationship to creator does good things. By the way, it's not surprising either to me.
The demonstration of good and virtuous, and profitable, and delightful things out there in the community where you work or live will lead some Jesus said to observe your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Start with good deeds and build a bridge to good doctrine which introduces them to God.
What a great day in which to do that than this. I close with this anecdote from watchman Nee. I have his writings but only read the normal Christian life. Read it in college and it marked me as an evangelist generation or so ago in China and he had a friend he writes about who lived in in a small village in China and they lived at the base of a small mountain and at the top of the mountain plateau had been developed in built over time. For this one particular friend of watchman knees rice patties and the and then as you can just imagine down that hillside were these terrorist rice fields. Watchman's friend was a believer rice farmer. He had the opportunity to share the gospel with his neighbors.
They had a little evangelical church in that village.
But there was one particular neighbor who was never interested in what he had to say was very skeptical, if not unkind. Every day of growing season. This farmer had to work harder than all the other farmers because he had the pump water by hand all the way up to the top of that little mountain to fill his rice patties with water was slow and laborious painstaking work, but every day he would pump water into his rice patties and Phyllis field. One particular season. Every morning when he returned up the hill, he would find that his neighbor the one disinterested in the gospel had opened the dikes surrounding the Christians field so that the water from his field flowed down to the mountain side down the mountainside to his field, which was just underneath would fill his field with water for several weeks. The Christian farmer ignored the injustice that you put yourself in his sandals. All that work deceitfully taking taken away every night we slept, I would imagine posting guards. He didn't. He didn't say anything, but after some days he became desperate because he was now working twice to fill the fields with water so we took the matter to his little village church and asked the believers to pray with him about what to do in response to this neighbors activity after several days of praying about it.
He and some other men arrived at what his response ought to be. So the next morning the Christian farmer watchman the rights rose early that morning and first filled his neighbors fields with water. Then he pumped water up the hill into his own field. He did this for several days without saying a word and never intended to his neighbor.
Watchman Nee tells how that neighbor eventually broke down and confessed and was overcome by the genuine demonstration of humility and undeserved blessing and became a fellow member of the church as a believer. Your story may not in the same way that neighbor may not confess anything but coworker may not break down one things for certain, they do not deserve your blessing any more than we deserve. Blessing of God couldn't help but think, in my study. Egypt didn't deserve Joseph Babylon did not does. Perhaps your world is deserve your testimony process and appreciated every every as you pursue good reputation as you pursue the demonstration of good deed bring a blessing to the community to your world ultimately allow you to do something, rewrite, reconstruct, repair, the perception our world's there be anything better spending the last half hour with us here on wisdom for the heart. This was lesson one in Stephen's four-part series called going public. This series explores the practical ways that we as believers can seek to shape the people in our lives for the glory of God. Today's message is called rewriting the perception of God. I hope you'll be with us for all the lessons in this series.
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