We had another AWESOME day at church today! Raymond stayed in the nursery all through Sunday School AND church! What a good little boy! We are doing Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" in our SundaySmallGroup and I loved this first class! I'm so glad we went! Again in there, God reinforced everything I am learning about discipline, daily habits and delayed gratficiation! Those are my "themes" right now in my lessons it seems!
Here is my outline of what Pastor Kelly preached on today:
John 8: 1 - 11
1. Remember that God is good all of the time. (Psalm 11:7...Daniel 9:14)
The devil wants us to believe otherwise. The devil wants us to question God's goodness. The devil wants us to get overwhelmed and even doubtful of scripture and God's intentions - especially when we read Old Testament scripture that we don't necessarily understand or seems harsh to us (like this law of stoning somebody caught in adultery). We have to remember that we lose a lot of the story in translation first of all (Pastor who knows the Greek taught us a lot about this law that really helped me understand it a lot) ... but also, we just have to believe that God is a just God. There are reasons for the laws He laid out, and there is always a reason behind His decisions. He never acts or makes decision in His anger, He doesn't have that inherent 'bad' like us. He isn't controlled by anger. He is good and loving, all the time. In Gen 3:1 about Adam & Eve, Eve was convinced that God wasn't all good and that He had been holding back. The devil made her believe He wasn't just, fair, good....which we now know is a lie from the father of all lies. We have to do whatever we can to not believe this lie that dates back to the beginning of time.
2. Remember that we are not good most of the time. (Ps 51:5..Romans 3:23...I John 1:10...Romans 3:10,12....John 2:25)
***Because we were created to be righteous, to be good, and we are not...and all of us know that, we feel that...it bothers us, we want to be good, we want to be righteous. So, what we do is create our own system of righteosness and the Bible calls that the sin of Self-Righteousness (this is also my answer for why their are so many religions! I truly believe evrybody knows there is more to us than physical. I believe we all know there is a different part to us, the spiritual...and I believe we were created to be good, but that we're not - and I believe we all feel the pain because of that - and until we have Jesus, we will always carry with us that unrest) ***
In this story, John 8:1 - 11 Jesus saw that the men who came to 'tattle' on this woman, carried with their accusations, the sin of self-righteousness!
What does this sin of self righteousness look like!? Well we pursue self-righteousness through a) morality and b) religion and self righteousness disgusts God... but what does this all mean?
well, morality is self-righteousness! Being well mannered, being morally good isn't what being a Christian is all about! When we focus on a system (that we ourselves have created) this disgusts God. Because you know what happens, all we do is compare ourselves to others on a scale we have created. We say, I am a good christian because I do this this and this...and I don't do this this and this. This is of no relevance to God! Just like in this story in John 8 --- did God give any attention at all to these men who wanted to show how 'good' they were because of what they did NOT do, but what others (she) did? No, God doodled in the sand, a social norm for their time - showing I want nothing to do with you....you are of so little importance, I won't even look at you or pay you any attention. So what is your standard? Do we judge ourselves to see how we're doing on a sytem we have created? Is our standard, our church leaders? our parents? One of the biggest threats of believing and basing our life on how 'moral' we are -- is that we give the perception that God only loves people who are "good". But who did God speak to in this story in John 8. Who is the ONLY person He gave his attention and love to --- the adulterer. He quickly turned the righteous, unrighteous....and the unrighteous, righteous. That is what Jesus does...He turns our reality and our mind upside down. We can't think with our mind. We have to think with our soul, listening to Him, the Spirit. So where does this leave non christians? They might truly believe that God only loves those that are "good"...so they will also start to base their life on morality trying to be like the people they see that are christians (and then, when they reach the same level of their model christians, and don't know what else to change - they might then add on multiple things to put on their church resume, thinking that's the next step needed). It's a wrong code. Service is important, church is important...but God knows our intentions. He knows our every thought and why we do what we do.
We also pursue self righteousness through religion. Doing this is just like basing our life on morality.. religion is just a very structured, widely believed code of morality. That is also another answer to the 'tough question' series our small group is doing --- why are their so many religions? Answer: Because we want to be good, we were created to be good, but we have all fallen and it tears us apart. We feel an unrest because we know we're bad but we know we're supposed to be good. Without Jesus, we have to create our own systems. And these systems, over the centuries, have evolved into religions that have lasted a long time and are so believed in, that many would die for their religious code that was created by their ancestors.
3. So what's the last thing to learn here? Remember that Jesus CHANGES EVERYTHING!
Although we don't know exactly what Jesus wrote in the sand in John 8:6-8 many believe that Jesus fulfilled Jeremiah 17:13 that day. Maybe He was writing down these men's names who were coming to tattle. These men who pursued righteouess through morality (and also the religious leaders there who pursued righteousness through religion) were the sinful ones that day. They didn't realize that all the righteousness they needed, was right there in front of them, God in flesh. 1 Peter 2:24!! "so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness"
So HOW do I go from self-righteousness, which is offensive to God, to righteousness of Jesus, that is a gift from God? Trust Jesus, have faith in Jesus! That's it! Let Him in, let Him lead your life. Let the new Spirit take over, Ezek 36:26. Bible says we can NOT make ourselves better - only Jesus can. There is NO other religion like that out there that teaches this!!!! Habakkuk 2:4 ...ROmans 3:21-22!! This righteousness is available to ALL.
We can't be self-righteous -- because you know what -- when we are christians - people see righteousness in us, which is Christ's righteouess.... and they realize it's something in us they can't live up to on their own. They might get mad at us, they might get discouraged or turned off....and may even try to tear us down for what they see. What they don't realize is that's available to them too! ANd if we are self-righteoues we will reinforce this thinking! If we are self-righteous we'll be so focused on us, we'll miss the opportunity to love on somebody and teach them about Jesus and what He did for ALL of us. When we're self-righteous, we might make the huge mistake of actually believing we ARE better than a non chrisitan! Non christians are correct in getting discouraged and thinking they won't reach the righteoussness they see in us...without Jesus, they won't, but we need to extend God's grace to others, and love them where they are, and let them know it's available to them!! Nobody's sin is worse than ours! We all have sinned, none is greater than others! It's just that, sme have received His righteousness, and some haven't!
I pray that God will search my heart to make sure there is no room for self-righteousness. I want others to feel love and acceptance and mercy!! from me, and never condemnation. If I judge others on a standard I have created, they will never change...the only thing I can do is love on people and pray for them to accept the righteousness available. I also pray that God will remind me that we all are inherently bad ....especially when dealing with my loved ones and christians in my circle of influence. Let me put my hope in Jesus!! not in any one person I am around. When I feel somebody is wronging me, or just isn't following God like they should.... please don't let me push push push or even try to pull pull pull them....instead please help me extend grace and MERCY to them and encourage the good I see in them...and just pray for God who is IN them to work on them! He is the only one that can change anybody anyway!