Psalm 14; I Timothy 1: 12-17; Luke 15: 1-10
Pearl: Being empowered and equipped begins with the transforming grace of God in believers
Function: To recollect and/or to be transformed by the Spirit to prepare for God’s empowering and equipping.
We are beginning an “Empowering and Equipping” preaching series going through the Acts of the Apostles. Today we begin at the strategic point which must take place before there is any “empowering and equipping.” We begin with God. It all starts with God and with God’s initiative.
does a work of transformation in you in order to prepare you for the life in
Christ in which you are intended to live.
- This was so well described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to young Timothy. Paul wrote about the way he was prior to understanding who Jesus was.
- Even though Paul tried to be a godly man who followed the Law of God, he took part in the early persecution of Christians. Finally he was confronted by Jesus Christ himself when he was knocked off of his horse and blinded by the light. He heard the voice of Christ speaking directly to him. And he was forever changed—transformed.
- Referring to this he wrote to Timothy: “…I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost” (I Timothy 1: 13-15).
key point in what God did and does is that God transforms. The magnitude of
transforming is not really the issue. Though in our eyes it is. We see only so
far. We see people who have no redeeming qualities. God sees differently. Thank
God! That is how early Christians saw Paul.
- We cannot imagine some people being reconciled to God. God sees it differently.
also we tend to grade sin.
- But sin is sin. Any sin is affront to God. The fact is that all of us were under condemnation simply because of our “sin condition.” We consider some sin much worse than other sin. We grade sin. Any sin as an affront to God’s holiness.
while this is true God in Christ Jesus chose to be around those who were deemed
- The Pharisees and leaders of God’s people graded sin. They criticized Jesus by saying, “He welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). They made a true statement! Thank God that Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them!
- God is not deterred by our sin. God makes all things new so there is no problem for God to change a person!
growth in the Spirit is God’s doing from the start and all along the way.
- But you have to welcome it. You cannot grow yourselves in the Spirit. But we should be open to God’s transforming work on our spirits, our minds, and our hearts. We simply welcome it. We open ourselves to God’s work on us. And so it happens.
Mercifully God’s grace overflows with the faith and the love that are in Christ Jesus (I Tim. 1: 13, 14).
We are the wick of the candle. God lights us.
- Spiritually speaking no one gets lit by themselves. God lights your wick. God makes you a believer. God starts it all.
thing is that God does not do it without your permission. God does not force
you into a relationship. You must ask for it. You must request it.
- Have you done this? How many times have you done it?
recommend doing it more than once. I recommend repeated treatments of the
transforming grace of God!
- (Lead congregation in moment of requesting God to give a dose)
- I am not much of an artist but I know that when you draw the more lines and scribbling that you draw slowly become the images that you are after and they become more and more recognizable. So God’s repeated treatments of grace make it possible for his image to be more and more recognizable in us.
- God willingly, happily ignites you, but never forces it.
Jesus’ wonderful parables in Luke 15 give us insight into how happy God is to ignite you!
likely was being facetious when he asked how many of them would leave the 99
sheep to go and find the lost one. Most of his hearers would not leave the 99
to look for one lost sheep.
- Jesus told this story to say that God would do just that! This is the nature of God. God seeks after everyone. God searches high and low to find.
- Just like the woman who lost a coin. She searched high and low to find that one coin. She rejoiced in finding it!
here is one of my favorite lines in all scripture: “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine
righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
do I so like that notion?
- I think it gives insight into the heart of God. God so desires to ignite you with his Spirit and to transform you by his grace that he and all of heaven literally celebrates when you welcome his activity in your souls.
- When you open the door of welcome to God’s Spirit and grace God swoops in.
- Why do I so like that notion?
swoops in and transforms with such power that even those most opposed to God
can do a 360 degree turnaround.
- This is a challenging notion for those who are already trying to walk with God and to grow in the Spirit.
all know some people who want nothing to do with God. You know people who
exhibit no redeeming qualities.
- King David called them fools. “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1).
- Even these people can change, completely by God’s grace.
- And truth be told you know yourselves. You
know that you can be pretty awful. You wonder if you are really capable of
doing anything with truly pure motives of goodness.
- In truth, it is the Spirit of Christ in you who makes you capable of anything truly and purely good.
We cannot talk about “empowering and equipping” the church without first acknowledging the act of God in us to ignite us by his grace. This is the preliminary spiritual work to being empowered and equipped.
- And this is precisely how it happened in that first century. They waited for the Spirit to fall upon them. Then came the equipping. They were empowered and then they were equipped.
our journey through Acts in the next months (up to Advent and then taking it up
again in Lent) we will attend to how the church was built up so that we can be
built up today as well.
- We will attend to this so that we can be the agents of God’s grace and kingdom in and through our lives.
- Empowering and equipping happens for the ignited believer, for the ignited church.
This grace and love that are in Christ Jesus are “overflowing” which is a perfect way to describe the grace of God.
- It is overflowing and it is unending.
- There is a never-ending supply of it. We deal with limited resources. God is not limited in his access to what he needs to do anything.
of the limits to his grace are people themselves. If you do not welcome God’s
fondness or infilling, then God waits and waits and waits.
- The Holy Spirit is a gentleman, a gentlewoman.
- Once you are ignited by the Lord you are ready to be empowered and equipped as the church of Jesus Christ.
Mercifully and thankfully God’s grace overflows with the faith and the love that are in Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! It overflows. Help yourself! There is plenty enough to go around and around and around for all!