Monday, July 21, 2008

Why be Holy? (my first sermon at my church)

Why Be Holy?
I Peter 1:1-16
Last Sunday marked my one year anniversary here at Bethany. It has been a really great year. I have thoroughly
enjoyed getting to know all of you. A lot has happened over this past year. I graduated from Golden Gate
Seminary, packed up a moving truck and drove from the Bay Area to the desert. It was quite an adjustment, but
didn’t take us long to adjust. We have settled in, got the kids in school and even Jessica decided to go back to
teaching. We have had to make new friends, learn our way around, survive a broken air conditioner, but it all
has been a great year. The youth group took off and we did a lot of things and had a lot of fun. I have grown
really close to the youth and it has been sad and a bit emotional to see six of them move in the past week. But as
Doug Cannon and I were speaking about that over dinner last week, he said that is part of ministry. You have to
teach them, disciple them and then send them out. So I am hoping that those six, the Ball’s and the Calderin’s,
have learned something from me, have grown in their faith and will make an impact in their new places.
Another thing I learned and I learned this early on in ministry is that ministry is all about people. There are a lot
of things that go on at “church” but the focus of ministry should always be people. Another thing to remember,
it is not our ministry. It is His ministry that we are entrusted with. If we let it become ours, then we become
selfish. If we remember that it is His ministry and His people we are serving, then we should have a different
type of motivation. I spend quite a bit of time preparing Bible studies, planning youth activities, answering calls
and emails, and going and doing lots of stuff, but the most rewarding time is when I am around people, such as
the youth and all of you. I have had the opportunity to minister to not just youth, but from infants in the nursery,
to the kids in children’s church and even to some of the adults and senior adults. Everyone is very different and
all of you are very different. You each have your own personalities, thoughts and opinions and it has been fun
over the past year learning all about you.
Even though we are all very different and all people are very different, there is one thing that links us, one thing
that gives us commonality, Christian and non-Christian, together. We are all created in the image of one Holy
God and what I want to share with you today is about holiness.
Pastor Kurt asked me if I wanted to preach about a month ago and I said, “Sure.” As soon as I knew I was going
to preach I went into my office and asked God to give me a clear picture of what to speak about. I started
flipping through different scriptures and thinking about different topics and everything kept coming back to the
topic of holiness.
On a side note, Jack Taylor said that one time a pastor spoke on holiness and not too long afterwards he died
and then another pastor spoke on holiness and not too longer after that he left, so I am going to have to take my
chances today.
Once I decided that I would preach about holiness I went to Joann to see if we could sing some songs about
holiness. Joann usually plans the songs several weeks in advance, so I wanted to see if maybe we could change
some songs around. Joann opened up the file on her computer to see what songs she had already put down for
this day and as you can see some of the songs already sung today were on the subject of holiness.
Today, I want to share with you “how to pursue holiness” and then finally at the end answer the question “why
be holy.”
We are going to read today from 1 Peter 1:1-16, but our focus will be on verses 13-16.
On another side note, as I was preparing this, about half way through I noticed that all the points I was making
started with the letter P. So, I decided that I would stay with that theme, so all of the points today will be with
the letter P, I had to be a little creative, but I think you will see the point.
So, if you have your Bible today please turn with me to 1 Peter. If you don’t have a Bible with you let me
encourage you to grab a bible from the chair in front of you and read a long with me. It is on page 180 of the
NT section.
I am going to read the first 16 verses, but as I said our focus today will be on verses 13 – 16.
Let me read verses 13 – 16 again
I am going to try and break down verse 13 into three parts. The first part of verse 13 says this, “Therefore,
prepare you minds for action.”
In another translation it says, “Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind.”
And it Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, he puts it this way, “So, roll up your sleeves,
put you mind in gear.”
Verse 13 begins with the word, “therefore.” In the first 12 verses, Peter has just greeted and reminded the newly
converted Christians about their living hope in Jesus Christ.
These new Christians do have a living hope in Jesus, but Peter knows they are going to be witnesses and
experience trials and sufferings, so he begins in verse 13 with the word “therefore or for this reason” prepare
your minds for action.
Peter is encouraging us that in order to pursue holiness, we must prepare our minds for action. Actually the
original language, says to “gird up the loins of your mind.” Picture this - People in Biblical times would gird up
their long robes and tie them around their waists so they could be prepared to move quickly and freely.
That is what Peter is saying here - to pursue holiness we must prepare our minds and do whatever it takes to
focus our thoughts on higher things that allow us to serve God successfully and at the same time eliminate the
thoughts, the bad thoughts that can hold us back.
Hebrews 12:1 says let us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Get rid of the
sin, get rid of the trash, get rid of all that stuff that is slowing us down and think about Godly things. Have Jesus
thoughts!
While living in the Bay Area I was always surround with people who were followers of Eastern Religions, such
as Zen Buddhism. I was able to visit several Zen Buddhist centers and interview and openly talk with them and
one central aspect of their practices was making sure their mind was empty, so they could focus during their
meditation and become “centered.”
The mind is a powerful muscle that God have given us to use for His glory and what Peter is telling us here is to
get our minds ready, prepare our minds, and center our minds on the thoughts of God, so that we can live a holy
life before the Father and others.
There is a worship song by an artist named Charlie Hall. The name of the song is Center and part of the lyrics to
that song, read like this – Christ be the center of our lives, be the place we fix our eyes, be the center of our
lives.
To be holy we must PREPARE our minds and center our lifestyle on Christ Jesus.
Peter continues on in the next part of verse 13 by telling us that in order to be holy we must be self-controlled.
First he says, prepare your minds for action, then he says be self controlled.
Other translations and actually the Greek word is to be sober. It literally means to be free from intoxication.
When people are not sober and are intoxicated, they have the inability to make good judgments. Peter is
encouraging us to be sober in order to use good mental and spiritual judgment when it comes to the practices of
the heart and the mind.
In Galatians 5:22 – 23 it says this: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law it speaks of the fruits of the spirit.
These fruits are qualities of a growing follower of Christ. They are examples of someone who is pursuing
holiness and the last one that in mentions is self control.
I mentioned earlier that to be self controlled is to use good judgment both mentally and spiritually when it come
to the practices of the heart and mind. When I hear that I think of what we do when no one else is looking,
because no one can see into our heart and mind. It is easy to seem self controlled when we are with a group of
people, but is it that easy to stay self controlled when it is just you and temptation is surrounding you.
There recently was a story about a pastor at a Baptist church in Texas who was arrested, basically for not having
self control. He was the adult pastor at a very large church and instead of being self controlled and using good
judgment, he let temptation and his desires that he knew was wrong overcome him and he began to have a
“chatting” relationship with a 13 year old girl. It eventually became more than a chatting relationship, which is
another example of losing self control, when he loaded himself and certain sexual paraphernalia, camera’s gifts
in his car and drove 60 miles to meet with this teenage girl. Little did he know that it was a sting operation and
he would be arrested. I just picture him driving and saying over and over, “this is wrong, this is wrong, this is
wrong.” His lack of self control and lack of a pursuit of holiness has been very destructive to the whole
situation.
To be holy we must practice self control. What Peter says next is very simple. We are still in verse 13. Prepare
your minds, be self controlled and now he tells us to set or rest our hope fully on the grace to be given you when
Jesus Christ is revealed. He is encouraging us to confidently and patiently wait upon the Lord.
Over in Romans 8: 24-25 it says, “For in the hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who
hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Strong leaders never lose hope. The story is told of a great, never say die general who was taken captive and
thrown into a deep, wide pit along with a number of his soldiers. In that pit was a huge pile of horse manure.
The general had much hope because he said Follow me, as he dove into the pile of horse manure, there has to be
a horse in here somewhere.
What is this hope that we are to wait for? It is the hope of Jesus Christ. He is not finished with us. We may go
through suffering, through pain, through doubt, we may even be thrown into a pile of horse manure, but the
hope is that Christ is going to accomplish all His purposes and there is a future glory that we can look forward
too.
To be holy we must patiently and confidently hope. This is what Peter says as we move into verse 14: As
obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. And what does it
mean to live in ignorance – this is how we live when we are not living for Christ.
Before these early Christians were converted they lived in ignorance. They were not a holy people. The word
holy means set apart, sacred, worthy, free from impurity. Now they are Christ followers. They are set apart.
They are his obedient children and Peter is encouraging them to not go back and live with the evil desires they
had when they were ignorant.
Romans 12:2 says: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing
of your mind.
Christians should not pattern their lives after the desires of this world or the desires that controlled them before
they give their lives to Christ when they did not know the ways of God. Christians should not pattern their lives
after ignorance.
The best example of this I can think of is Britney Spears. I know people that know her and knew her when she
was a little kid. Britney grew up in a Christian family; she went to a private Christian school. She was just a
nice, southern Christian girl. When she got famous, she stood by her beliefs. She was proud of the fact she was
a virgin and that she was a Christian. Time went by, she got bigger and bigger and she ended up losing her
virginity, denouncing the Christian faith and now we have seen her downward spiral. She let the evil desires of
this world lead her back into ignorance.
To be holy we must put off our evil desires. Next in verse 15 it says this, But just as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all you do.”
The key word in this verse is the word ALL. If Christ has called us into his family, if we call ourselves
followers of Him, we are called to be and be holy in ALL we do.
I am a big fan of the speaker Louie Giglio. He leads a movement of college students called Passion. I have
several of the Passion DVD’s and was watching on the other day and he was speaking of Colossians 3:17.
It says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to
God the Father through Him,”
The word whatever covers pretty much everything and then is says whatever you do, whether in word or deed
and what else is there besides world or deed, Paul says to do it ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Jesus Christ lived on the earth for about 33 years. He lived in complete perfection and complete holiness in
ALL that He did. He was not a half-hearted Jesus, he was a passionate Jesus and we are not called as Christians
to be half hearted Christians. We are called to be a passionate people. Whatever we do, we are to be holy in
ALL we do and do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.
To be holy we must be passionate in ALL that we do. Finally, here is the answer to the question “why be holy?”
It says in verse 16 “For it is written: be holy because I am holy.” In the book of Leviticus chapter 11:44 and 45
it says this
I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean
by any creature that moves about on the ground. I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your
God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.”
It should be the joy of every Christian to pursue holiness. One place I was reading said it is the duty of every
Christian to pursue complete holiness. Let me clarify one thing. I do not like the word duty. To me a duty is
something we just do to do it. We are supposed to do it, because it is our duty. But, if we do something out of
joy that means there is a special motivation or happiness in our heart that is causing us to do it. Pursue holiness
with joy.
Complete holiness may seem impossible to achieve. After all, we are sinful, imperfect people in constant need
of forgiveness. There is a term that it talks about at the beginning of 1 Peter. That term is sanctification.
Sanctification is the process by which we are made holy. Sanctification only happens by the power of the Holy
Spirit. This power is able to transform us. This power is able to give us strength to abstain from our evil, earthly
desires. This power is able to perfect us.
To be holy we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the book of Genesis, the first chapter, it says that when God created man, he created him in His image. We
are created in the image of God. If God is Holy and we are created in His image, then it must mean we were
created to be Holy.
To be holy we must:
Prepare our minds
Practice self control
Patiently and confidently hope
Put off evil desires
Be Passionate in ALL we do
Rely on the Power of the Holy Spirit
There is one other “P” word I want to throw in. Can you guess what it is? It is pray. We must be in constant
communication with the Father. We must be talking to him, but we also must be listening to Him.
To be holy we must pray
A lot of people see Christianity as having a list of do’s and don’ts. I must do this and I must not do that. That is
not what it is all about. It is all about holiness. Holiness is a lifestyle. We can either choose to pursue holiness or
we can either choose to continue to live in a way of ignorance and be selfish. I believe that the opposite of
holiness is selfishness.
If we are pursuing holiness, we are pursuing to live a life that is pleasing to Christ and that is an example to
others. Selfishness is all about self and the Bible tells us in John 3 that He must increase and I must decrease.
There are many leaders of the world who claim to be holy. There is His Holiness Pope Benedict.
There is His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
There is His Holiness Khalifatul Ahmad.
None of those leaders are holy. It is just there title.
There is only One who is Holy and there is only One whose life we should try to imitate in order to pursue
holiness.
The challenge now is to you. In everything you do, pursue holiness – be Holy because He is holy

time to begin

just a quick post to say that I will begin writing again soon. i feel that it is something i need to do in order to help me think and create.

later,

g