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A Greater Perspective
The title of my message today is A Greater Perspective. Last week we looked at the idea of A Greater Love. We looked at Jesus’ life and how He demonstrated a love that was from eternity and which pierced the darkness of this world. We looked at four ways where we could love others like Jesus. We looked at how Jesus met people’s basic needs, how Jesus’ love had compassion, how Jesus went out of His way for the one person and how His love was a sacrificial servant hearted love.
Today’s message is the final message in my series from Romans 12 which was focusing on being living sacrifices for God.
The last verse of Romans 12 says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (v21). I wanted to give this small verse its own message because as Christians it is easy to become overcome by evil at times. We are constantly bombarded by news of bad events that happen around us. We watch the news, we listen to the radio, we surf the net and we talk to people down the street and bad news is not far from us. It is unusual to go a day without hearing of something bad that has taken – an earthquake, a fire, an accident, a war, a home invasion, a terrorist attack or other things.
Today I want to look at five things that will help us not to be overcome by the evil in this world, and will help us to desire to do good, so we can individually make a difference to the world around us.
Meditate on the right things
For us as Christians it is vital that we focus our thoughts on right things.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”.
Philippians 4:8 is a key verse that helps us to meditate on right things. It tells us to focus on things that are true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. In a world that focuses on things that do not need to be dwelt upon, it is vital we set our minds right or tune them in to the right things.
It is so easy to watch the news and be overcome. It is so easy to read all the negative things on Facebook people say and be overcome. It is easy to hear about sad things around us and be overcome. It would be easy to think that the world is going to hell in a hand basket as they say.
But I am here today to remind you there is so much good going on in the world. Just this week I was reminded about a number of amazing things going on around the world.
This is to name just a few things that Christian organisations are doing around the world. There is so much more. So many good things are happening and people like you and I are at the forefront.
We need to remember that we are on the winning team and God’s plans will all come to pass. We have a great hope and we need to set our hearts and minds of things above if we are not going to be overcome by the evil things of the world.
Be around the right people
Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT – 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.
In this passage it encourages us by using the phrase “let us” three times. It encourages to hold firm to our faith, encourage each other on to love and good deeds and not give up meeting together.
When we are around the right people who are full of faith, loving, encouraging and supportive it rubs off on us. We are able to look above the troubles of the world and help each other to focus on right things.
I once heard a story of an elderly gentleman who had stopped going to church. He had been a regular attender for many years, but he just stopped going. One day the Pastor called over to visit him. The man invited him in and went back to sitting by the fire. The Pastor did not say anything, but just sat with him. After 30 minutes the Pastor stood and pulled a coal from the fire on to the edge of the hearth. It had been on fire and glowing, but in a few minutes it went cold. Both men just starred at it. With that the elderly man stood and pushed the coal back into the fire and said, “Ok Pastor I get it, I will see you in church this Sunday”.
This story reminds us of the importance of not neglecting meeting together and being around the right people when we can. Like the coal in the fire, it is easier to burn and be on fire when we are together.
Meditate on Scripture
Psalms 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the man [or woman, child] who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
Joshua 1:6-9 says, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Both of these passages talk about the importance on meditating on Scripture. Psalm 1 tell us that if we delight in God’s law and meditate on it, we will be like trees planted by streams of water. We will bring fruit forth in the right season, we will not wither and we will prosper in all we do. These are a promise from God. When we are feeling weary from the world and the evil things it is important to meditate on God’s word and hold on to promises like this.
Joshua 1 was at the time of Joshua’s call to take over from Moses. Verse 1 says Moses is dead, now get all the people ready to cross over into the promised land. I don’t know about you, but that seems a daunting task to me. It would be easy to be overcome by the evil things Joshua would see. That is why God told him three times in four verses to be strong and courageous. In one verse He says be strong and very courageous. In the midst of this God tells him to “not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful”. Joshua’s call to take the people into the promised land included a call to meditate on God’s Word and not let it depart from his mouth.
It is so vital to keep God’s Word in our hearts, in our minds and on our lips if we are to overcome the evil around us.
Continue in prayer
It has been said that the Bible is our food source as Christians. It has also been said that prayer is like the air we breathe.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
These three passages remind us of the importance of being in continual prayer. God wants us to caste our cares upon Him in 1 Peter 5:7. When I read this verse I imagine casting out with a giant fishing rod. Casting a long way and allowing my cares to sink deep into the ocean of God. The last verse reminds us to not be anxious about anything but to take it to God in prayer. It promises that if we do, God WILL guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. A great promise.
Several weeks ago I touched on the following devotion plan I have been doing for years. As you can see on the screen it has five main areas. The prayer part is Praise, petition, intercession and Listen. Praise is the things I am thankful to God for on that day. Petition is the prayers for my family and I. Intercession is for the church members, community and things people have asked me to pray for. And listen is a time when I quietly sit with God and ask Him to speak.
There are three benefits of this idea. The first is that it keeps my prayers balanced between thankfulness, for our needs, for others needs and for God to speak. The second is because I write them down I can refer back to them as time goes on. And thirdly it keeps me accountable to make sure I am having time alone with God each day.
Having this balanced approach to prayer helps me not to be overcome by the world and all that happens in it.
Look outwards to serve
Once we have done the first four things we are in a good place to look outwards and serve God by serving others. There are so many verses in the Bible that encourage us to serve the Lord.
1 Peter 4:10 – Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
James 2:26 – As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without good deeds is dead.
Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Bible reminds us that we are to be about God’s work while there is still time. We need to use our gifts for the good of others, we need to work as though we are working for God and not man, we need to let our light shine so God gets the glory, and we need to be about making disciples. These things get me out of bed in the morning. These things keep me motivated and on fire for God. One day this body will be in the ground and I will not be able to serve God on this earth any more. I need to be about God’s work while I can. We all do.
Serving God from the foundation that is filled with the Bible, prayer, good people around you and we are meditating on things noble and pure is a lot easier and will help us not to be overcome by the evil in the world.
So today as we finish our service and go off to our church picnic let us remember these five points.
A final word from Jesus…
John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
By Dave Quinn
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