Sixty seconds is sixty seconds. But that’s not the whole story. You can make your sixty seconds worth more. It’s still sixty seconds, but it can inflate, just explode into something immeasurable, something eternal. Seriously. It’s what the Bible says. You are redeeming your time, sort of cashing it in. You are investing it. You are a steward, trading it in for something more valuable than the earthly time itself. That’s because of God. God makes your time of greater value than it actually is. But it is up to you. Will you fritter away your life with the temporal. It is sucked into the ether of this worldly life, disappearing into a veritable black hole. It doesn’t have to be that way. You surely don’t want it to be that way. In a sense, you can’t see it that way as a saved person, and it will gnaw on you if it were that way. I can’t tell you how much your time can be worth, but it can shoot through the proverbial roof. So you know that. Now let’s do something about it. This is where faith is at. You believe this, and believe is more than just intellectual and emotional, but volitional. You’re will is involved. You may not know what to do. You are the church, but the church, the other people, are there to help, because it is a body, and each other part is there to help you in your part. As a matter of fact, our sixty seconds are multiplied by being a help to you.
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Sometimes life seems to have contradictions. It doesn’t actually, because there is one God and everything has symmetry with Him. This is what I’m talking about. You tell people what they need to hear. People complain that it was too harsh and you did more damage than good, and actually were the force to turn them off to the truth. So now you are supposedly the one that caused the problem. On the other hand, if they had gone ahead and done it wrong, and you said nothing, then you think, “I should have said something.” When you say nothing, of course, you don’t get to see or hear the alternative. Sometimes you might think you shouldn’t say something because you yourself are not sinlessly perfect. They’ll just say, “You do it too.” That might disqualify everyone on planet earth, so no one can say anything, except Jesus for His limited time. When He was here, He wasn’t popular for saying the truth either, and He was charged with being a trouble maker. What I’ve read is that those who take scripture really seriously, to do everything, turn off people, make them head the other direction. All of these contradict, so what’s the truth in it? You tell people the truth. Sure, pray, make sure you’re settled with God. Make sure things are right with other people, and then go ahead and tell people the truth. It’s always right, even if people don’t like it.
God created the world. It was good. All of it was good. He created man and man was good. It was not good that man was alone, but God created woman and it was good. God said don’t eat of a tree. Man and woman ate of the tree. Sin entered into the world. The world was ruined by sin. Man was lost, separated from God because of sin. The latter was bad. These things were bad. But God had a plan to rescue man. God would be glorified. Everything would be good again. God would provide salvation through a Savior. He would save through a substitute. God’s justice would be satisfied, because sin would be punished. A man, Who was perfect, would pay the penalty for man’s sin. To do this, God the Son would become a man. He would do that by being born of a woman, which fulfilled the prediction God made in Genesis 3. He would not have a human father, but He would be born of a virgin, with God as His Father. He would be conceived of the Holy Spirit in a virgin’s womb. A sinless man, He would live a sinless life. He would die, be buried, rise again from the dead, ascend into heaven, sit in authority at the God the Father’s right hand, and then come again to set up a kingdom on the earth, to rule and reign with those He has saved. This was the plan and it would begin with a birth, and that birth is Christmas.
Perhaps you’ve heard the terminology: “hide in plain sight.” When I think of that phrase, which I’ve heard several times in my life, I’m thinking of the witness protection program or spy tradecraft. It might be where you keep your valuables. Someone wouldn’t think that something or someone that important or in such danger would be so “obvious.” People are looking somewhere where they aren’t looking, so they skip what they normally see. You don’t think that person you know could be a spy or an endangered witness. His name isn’t John, but actually Bill. Alright, my point. I believe that Jesus is being hidden in plain sight. He’s so obvious, so normal, so out there for so long, that people either aren’t noticing Him anymore or He’s become just a caricature of Who He really is. He is man’s only redemption and He will rule the whole world with a rod or iron. He will cast most men into Hell in the end. You’ve got to get Him right. You’ve got to receive actually Him, the real Him. The real Him is not someone that you barely notice and remain generally indifferent toward. He’s also Who He says He is — not the caricature. You might like the caricature, but if it isn’t Him, it is inconsequential as to believing in the actual or real Him. Christmas has become one of the ways I believe Jesus is hid in plain sight. Consider it.
I’ll be talking some about consistency in the sermon, mainly as it relates to judging spiritual leadership. The false teachers were picking at Paul. If someone is not 100% consistent, is he not consistent? One of the attacks on consistency, it seems, is the expectation of 100% consistency. Because we live in a sin-cursed world, we have learned, or it is innate to us, not to expect it, almost to wait for the inconsistency to come. A skepticism can grow, because we feel justified in not trusting anything. I believe in a definition of human consistency, we don’t need to have it be 100%. We should look for characteristic consistency. We should think about a direction of consistency, someone who wants to be consistent. A consistent person is correctable in his inconsistency, since he’s striving to be consistent. I write this too because people can become somewhat fatalistic in the expectation of their own consistency, something like the following—“since I can’t be consistent, I give up.” So they live however they want, since they can’t be consistent anyway. Everyone of us only get consistency by the grace of God—we’ve got to trust God to keep saving us from our inconsistency, because we will be inconsistent. We’ve got to want the consistency and strive for it, and when we don’t live it, look to God’s grace to take us through.
Often when I think of my life, I think that I do so little for the Lord and am not as faithful as I should be for Him. I don’t think I take Him seriously. But then I don’t live in guilt over that. Shouldn’t I feel guilty all the time? Does this mean that righteousness is on some sliding scale, that we’re just better than others, which is good enough? This is where theology comes in, what the Bible says about righteousness. I don’t feel guilty all the time, because I know that my righteousness is not found in me or in my works, but in Jesus Christ. I have a position by grace through faith that sets me apart as righteousness unto God. So I don’t feel that guilt, because I know my sins were paid for on the cross. The feelings that I have relate more to love. It’s how you feel about anyone that you love, that you don’t feel like you’ve done enough for them, or you’d like to do more for them, except more here, because it’s God. I think about the goodness of God, and that affects me. I am inclined toward doing more for the Lord, serving Him according to His Word. It is still a struggle against the flesh, mostly in doing what He wants, not what I want, and then doing the best or the most that He wants. And I can grow, because God works in me through His Spirit. I am being conformed to the image of His Son. This is one way, among many, that the Spirit bears witness that I’m a child of God.
What great thing about Jesus should you start with in order to capture people’s attention, because He doesn’t seem enough alone to get consideration from those He created? You want to start with how good He is, because that would seem to be a draw. If they understand His goodness to them, perhaps that would move them beyond a condition of indifference. Paul did write that the goodness of God leads people to repentance. Or should you start with Jesus as Creator? If people would recognize that He created them, they would understand that they wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Him. Maybe if they knew Jesus died for them, that would get some focus and time for Him. Or what about His wrath and judgment? He’s going to judge them by His Words in the end. His wrath will kindle against His enemies, which includes all those who reject Him as Lord and Savior. Perhaps if they gave some prolonged thought to His resurrection from the dead? He did defeat death, not only Himself personally, but the deaths of at least two other people, including Lazarus after a few days in the tomb. Since death is so horrible in so many ways, if people knew that He possessed the escape from the punishment for sin, they would pause to admire Him. What about you? What is keeping you from the devotion to Jesus He deserves? You too busy? Too distracted? Hope not.
Sometimes today you will hear alternative fuel and alternative energy. You’ve got cars that use alternative energy, but they are still unpopular for many reasons. The energy and the fuel produced, called alternative, is often more expensive. Sometimes I think of alternatives myself—an alternative to the life I’m living. Would an alternative have been better? Would it have been better to have attempted to have some alternative “career” that would have paid better, have been more popular, and I would have had nicer things on earth? With every alternative, you judge whether the alternative is superior to the first choice. When I think of the other options on my life, I can’t say “yes” to them, because I know too much. I might even say, unfortunately I know too much, but that wouldn’t be true either. It’s good that I know the truth about time and eternity, so that I didn’t do the alternative. Is it possible that if I had chosen the alternative, that some of you wouldn’t be saved today? That my alternative would have resulted in you going to Hell? Would the alternative have been worth it if one more of you had gone to Hell than would have otherwise? I have to say, “No.” My eternity will be better, but so will others’. So I’m happy to have said and say “no” to the alternative. You want to be honest with yourself and honest with God. It might be a struggle, but the right way is best.
How is it that you can serve another person, specifically another Christian, someone in your church? We are to serve one another, so let me give you some ideas. Provide a meal. You can invite someone over for a meal, bring them a meal, perhaps when someone is needy. You can watch their little kids for them, so they can have a night out. Give them an I-O-U. You could help them fix or repair or clean something of theirs. You could give them a ride, perhaps to the airport. If you have a particular skill or talent, you could use that for someone else. You could give them something, perhaps a book or vegetables or eggs or cheese or milk or money. You could take them out to eat. You could ask if someone might need an evangelism partner and go out with them. You could make a dessert. You could text them with some encouragement. You could write a note of thanks or comfort. You could smile at them, shake their hand, or give them a hug. Walk toward them to greet them. Ask if they need any help. Talk with them. Speak about spiritual things to them, perhaps some area they are lacking in Christian growth and obedience. If they need you to help one of their children, do that. Send them a friendly email. Share an article that you know they would be interested in. Show interest in something that they’re interested in. Pray for them.
Scripture presents life as a series of paradoxes. We are dependent on God and yet taking personal initiative. None of the scriptural paradoxes actually do contradict. They really are contradictions only to natural men, who don’t know God. Trusting God means taking action. I’ve heard this thought in the realm of our sanctification. How are we sanctified? We are sanctified by faith. True. So are we sanctified by works? Yes. Aren’t faith and works mutually exclusive? So how does this relate to Christian living? We live by faith. True. And what does that produce? Works. So you will work if you believe. Faith without works is dead. If you do trust, you’ll work. That’s what faith will look like, like good works. Positional sanctification comes by faith, which will result in works, which is practical sanctification. You will be set apart by what you do. Practical sanctification is obedience and obedience is work. When God works, we work. God works in us, which produces works. Is God doing the work? Yes. Are you doing work? Yes. There’s an aspect to this that is difficult and really impossible to explain. When you do work for God, you don’t take credit for it, because you believe God deserves all the glory. Yet, later, God rewards you for your work. But you didn’t do it, did you? We can handle this paradox. Both are true despite what we can’t explain.