New Hope Notes
Things We Must Do For Ourselves
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Anyone who knows about the risks of skydiving also knows that there are non-negotiable checkpoints that should be reviewed and rechecked to ensure safety. In fact, just about every important decision in life has things that need to be in place and preparations that should be done before a decision (like jumping out of an airplane) is made. These requirements (like skydiving equipment) should be checked and rechecked before you make that decision to jump.
Yet many of us, unfortunately, make important life decisions – like getting married or starting a family – without ever really reviewing the necessary checkpoints. Fortunately, the Bible identifies for us what needs to be checked in our lives before all else. As the Bible says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Cor. 13:5). In other words, be sure your relationship with God is secure.
In previous sermons we talked first about disciplining ourselves and then about humbling ourselves before God. Today, I want to tell you that the third thing we must do is check ourselves to be sure that we are walking in the faith. 2 Corinthians, chapter 13 identifies two non-negotiable conditions that we must meet. These are things that we have to get down pat. There can be no maybes; you have to be certain you meet these conditions before anything else because they affect everything else. The two conditions are …
1. VERTICAL RELATIONSHIP
2. YOUR COMMITMENT TO TRUTH
The vertical relationship is with Christ as your leader. As it is written, “Do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). There are also …
TWO CHECKS OF FAITH
1. AN IMMOVABLE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST.
You can tell what is most important by what the Devil tries to destroy. The Devil wants to separate you from Christ. Your relationship with Christ is most important because it affects everything else. If Christ is displaced from the center of our lives than the rest of our decisions become based on other things like money, fame or whatever we replace Jesus with at the center of our lives.
I once visited a prison to give a sermon to the inmates. While there, I saw the main control room where they electronically opened and shut all the doors in that prison. It was a very well-secured room with bulletproof glass and impenetrable walls. The room could only be opened from the inside. It is the same with Jesus. We have to let Him in. Then He can guide us.
Life is like a bull’s-eye or target. It is a series of concentric circles radiating out from the center. Christ should be in the center circle and the most important part of your life, then other things like marriage, family, career, etc. should occupy the outer circles. But the Devil wants the center to be things like money or success - anything but Jesus – because once Jesus is moved to one of the outer circles, He becomes negotiable and right and wrong become negotiable as well. Then the Devil has you! Once Jesus is removed from the center of your life, a natural regression takes place. But if Jesus is at the center of your life circles, if all other circles fall away, it won’t matter because Jesus and you is enough.
We should have faith like Job of the Old Testament. Though he lost everything else, he never gave up God. Job even confirmed, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him … (Job ) and because of Job’s faith, God restored everything to him twice over in the end. So is Jesus alone enough for you? If everything was taken away, would only having Jesus be enough for you? Or is it really Jesus plus money is enough? Or Jesus plus a good woman is enough? Some people do not realize that Jesus is all they need until Jesus is all they’ve got. When you hit rock bottom you might realize that but when you return to the top, be sure to keep Jesus at your center. Watch over your heart. Check and recheck your faith.
The second essential quality you must check on is ….
2. A COMMITMENT TO TRUTH.
The Bible says, “Now we pray to God … that you may do what is right. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor. 13:7-8). One of the greatest axioms of life that helps us grow is the commitment to discovering new truths and turning away from falsehoods. You cannot solve problems if you do not acknowledge the truth of their existence. You cannot improve your relationships if you do not admit your own personal faults. Siding with falsehood produces failure.
According to the Bible, “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23). God was talking about our perception of things. In order to improve anything we first must be able to see the situation clearly. So how can we see life clearly? Read the Bible because as Psalm 119:160 says, “Thy word is truth and the sum thereof.” You do not have to wonder what the truth is because the Bible has the truth already written down for you.
Some people may say that the Bible says whatever they want it to say but finding truth is not only in reading the Bible occasionally …
· THOSE WHO ARE CONSISTENT IN READING THE BIBLE HAVE A FAR BETTER CHANCE AT SEEING THE TRUTH.
We should read the Bible no matter what our circumstances are. Whether we are sad or happy, or rich or poor, we still should read the Bible and it will lead us to truth. Remember, not only can the Devil deceive us, we can also be deceived by ourselves. So do daily devotions.
A final way to determine the truth is through ….
Whenever I develop a plan or a project I ask someone like an elder whether my ideas sound like God’s to him. We all need objective eyes on us from time to time. So, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. ). God was talking about spiritual leaders because they keep watch over your soul. So let them do it with joy and not sadness over what they see in you.
I once told someone to stop growing and selling marijuana. He told me that he believed God had given him this gift of agriculture so he had a peace about his growing and selling of marijuana! Obviously, he was listening to a false god of his own creation. He had molded his own god that was simply saying what he wanted to hear. He of course ended up in jail. We can all learn from people that have made mistakes or had close calls with disaster and death; the lesson is that no matter what happens, we must keep God at the center of our lives.
Suppose we were on an airplane cruising at 32,000 feet but then we started to dive uncontrollably for the ground! What do we do? All of a sudden we develop a great relationship with God! We begin to pray furiously and promise God all sorts of things! But we need to be sure that when the plane rights itself, that we keep our same commitments to God when we thought we were going to crash at
Check yourself. Make sure that Jesus is at your center. Make sure that you are committed to truth. You will fly right if you check yourself. And if you check and recheck yourself in regards to your core relationship with Jesus, not only will you fly right but you will land right.
There are two non-negotiables that we need to maintain in our lives: (1) a vertical relationship with Christ and (2) a commitment to the truth. We need to check and recheck these non-negotiables from time-to-time to ensure that our faith is strong and that we are flying right. An immovable relationship with Christ will help ensure that the Devil cannot distract or displace us by affecting other areas of our lives (e.g., marriage, family, or career). As long as everything else is secondary, if anything else falls away, we’ll still be okay because we know that just Jesus and I are enough. And when we are committed to the truth – to seeing things clearly and for what they really are – God will help us to discern our own behavior and ensure we are acting according to His Will. Through consistent reading of the Bible and accountability (with the help of others), we can ensure that we will fly straight and land right.