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The Process of Change

In the game of tribond, you are given three words and your job is to determine what those three words have in common. 

For example, if I say the words Christmas, family, and oak – what do these things all have in common? They are all kinds of trees.

How about this one: dentures, bats, stars – they all come out at night

How about this one: skates, the lawn, and your shoulder – they all have blades.

How about this one: oil, a diaper, batteries – and as a bonus word, Christians

Answer: They are all things that are frequently changed!

  • Every 5000 km, you’ve got to change oil in your car. 
  • Every few hours you’ve got to change the diaper on your baby. 
  • Every few months, you’ve got to change the batteries in your remote
  • And every day, if you’re a Christian, you’ve got to change to become more like Christ.

And of course, this is all a segway into today’s message.

If you haven’t been with us recently, we’ve been going though a series called Visual Theology.

It’s based on a book called “Visual Theology” by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. And as you can see on the title page, there are four main sections that we’ve been looking at.

So far, we’ve looked at growing close to Christ. We’ve looked at understanding the work of Christ, and today we are beginning to look at becoming like Christ.

And that’s why I’m bring up this whole idea of change – because becoming like Christ requires change.

As you read through the Bible, you will not find one single person who accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and then didn’t change! It’s just not possible! No one who enters into an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ can ever remain the same. Change is a required part of the equation.

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Where Do We Stand With God?

To start us off this morning, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions about you and what you believe. I hope that ok. I realize that I could be wrong – but this is what I’m going to assume about you.

If you’re sitting here today, I’m going to assume that you probably believe in God. Maybe you don’t know exactly who God is or what He’s all about – but I’m going to assume that if you are here attending church, then you at least believe that God exists. That’s my first assumption.

Secondly, if you believe that God exists, I’m also going to assume that you probably want to be in His good books. If there is a God, you don’t want Him to be angry with you. It would be helpful to be on good terms with Him. You may even think it would be a good idea to be His friend. At the very least, you certainly don’t want to be His enemy. That wouldn’t be good at all. If there is a God, it’s probably important for God to like you and not be mad at you.

I think those are pretty safe assumptions for anyone who believes in God – whether you’re a Christian or a Muslim – a Mormon or a Hindu – there is this underlying thought that if God exists, then I need to be on good terms with Him. I need to please Him – and not anger Him. That’s why we read about people throughout history in all parts of the world, worshipping different gods. Sacrificing to them. Bowing down to them. Bringing them offerings. Going through all the rituals. Doing whatever it takes to have that god smile upon you.

It seems that humans throughout history agree that having God on my side is a good thing – having God against me is a bad thing. I think most people would agree with that line of thinking.

But here’s where our problem lies. How do we know if we’re on good terms with God or not? What does God require? What pleases God and what angers God? And if you anger God, is there any way to get back in His good books again or are you done for good? How do you know where you stand with God? This is where everybody starts disagreeing. In fact, this is a pretty grey area for a lot of religions.

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Naaman & the Barrier of Pride

Which is harder to do? To forgive someone who has hurt you deeply? Or to be the one who has to ask for forgiveness?

That’s a tough one, isn’t it? Both I think, are extremely difficult. Confessing our wrongs and asking for forgiveness does not come naturally to us. Nor does offering forgiveness when someone has wronged us. Both are difficult things to do.

And today, as we continue in our series – the Exploits of Elisha – we’re going to see just how difficult – yet also how rewarding it is to do both.

If you have your Bible or your ipad or your smart phone with you, turn with me to 2 Kings chapter 5.

2 Kings – chapter 5 – starting at verse 1.

The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.
2 At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. 3 One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.”
2 Kings 5:1-3

So we begin our story with a few introductions.

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King Ahab – A Lesson in Grace

This morning we’re going to take a look at one of Israel’s most notorious kings. Just like King David was known for his goodness – King Ahab was known for his badness. In fact, let me just read for you how the Bible introduces him. This is 1 Kings 16:29-33.

“Ahab son of Omri began to rule over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 31 And as though it were not enough to follow the example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. 32 First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. 33 Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.” 1 Kings 16:29-33

So basically, what the Bible is telling us, is that Ahab was the most evil king Israel had ever seen. He was the Adolf Hitler, the Joseph Stalin, the Osama Bin Laden of his time.

So what lessons could we possible learn from this guy? Well, I think the answer might surprise you. 

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Nutshell Truths

Have any of you ever been duped by counterfeit money? I’ve never experienced getting stuck with counterfeit money and I hope I never do. But I know others have. And that’s got to be a terrible feeling.

Imagine that you’re selling your car on Kijiji for maybe a couple thousand dollars. Some guy comes and checks it out and want to pay cash for it. So he gives you 20 one hundred dollar bills. He takes the car, you take the money and when you go to deposit it in the bank, the teller tells you that it’s all counterfeit. It’s fake. You got ripped off and there’s nothing you can do about.

That would stink big time! Wouldn’t you be mad? Mad at the guy for ripping you off and mad at yourself for not checking the money closer? No body likes getting duped.

But you know, people get duped all the time. Not just with counterfeit money, but with all kinds of things. We get duped by the “no-money-down” commercials on tv, or the “drink this beer and life will become a party” advertisements. We’re likely to see several of those during the superbowl this afternoon. We get duped by the big promises of the lottery tickets or by investments too good to be true.” You read in the news about people who have invested all their life savings with a certain investor only to find out later that the investor was a fraud and all their money is gone. They were duped and now they have nothing.

And while its certainly painful to get deceived out of your hard-earned cash, it’s tragic when people get duped in areas of life that are far more serious.

We live in a world where many people have been duped about God – about who He is and what He’s like – About the meaning of life and realities after death. Our world is full of counterfeit religions and counterfeit beliefs. And getting duped by those are far more serious than getting duped by a used-car salesman. I mean, we’re talking about life-changing, eternal consequences here. So it is absolutely imperative that we can sort out what is true and real and what is counterfeit when it comes to our beliefs about God.

And what makes it increasingly difficult is that many of these counterfeits are very convincing. I mean, that’s the nature of a counterfeit – it looks like the real thing. If it wasn’t convincing, no one would fall for it.

So with so many convincing, yet different beliefs about God and life and death out there, how do we make sure that we know what is really true and real? How do we keep from being duped?

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