Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | February 1, 2015

February 1, 2015 “The Bank Shot”

 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

“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)

Good Morning and Blessed Lord’s Day Everyone!

When I was in school, I could have been accurately been identified as a “clock-watcher”, particularly in those classes that did not particularly interest me. Instead of paying close attention to what I was being taught, I was busy counting off the seconds until the end of class, and by that I mean literally counting off the seconds. Quite frankly, it amazes me at times how I ever managed to graduate at all, so inattentive was I to what was being imparted intellectually. Getting done with class meant I was free to do those things I wanted to do outside of the confines of the classroom. When I was in college, that often meant going to play pool with my friends. Despite the amount of time I spent playing pool, I never became particularly proficient at that endeavor, but it was what I wanted to do at the time. I was allured by the pleasure of doing what I wanted to do more than what I should have been doing, which was applying myself more to my studies than my bank shots! Oh, I got by. I graduated. But as I have matured, I am much more aware of my ignorance than I was as a student, and wish I had pursued my academic career with more voracity. I was more conformed to the world than transformed by my mind’s renewal.

I recently told you a bit about my college chaplain, Jack Heinsohn (the trapeze artist-turned- chaplain). I recall an account he once shared in chapel (and to him, thankfully, I did actually listen), about a time after he became a Christian and had gone to visit his mother with a friend of his. Now Jack’s mother was not a Christian, but wanted to know more about the faith. Being a new Christian himself, Jack let his friend take the question. Jack’s friend attended the same church as Jack had started attending, and Jack’s mother asked him why he did so. His answer was that he was in the business of selling paint, and by attending church, people got to know him and were more likely to buy paint from him than from some competitor. Just a week or so later, Jack lost his mother to illness. As he related the story, he wistfully concluded that his mother went to her grave with the notion that the value in being a Christian was that Jesus sells paint! Instead of hearing the great news of God’s salvation from mind transformed by grace, she heard yet another ringing endorsement of worldliness. There are far too many Christians who strive to have one foot planted in the Kingdom of God while still clinging to the allures of the world, believing that since we are “free” in Christ, we are therefore free to live licentious lives. Pastor John MacArthur spoke of God’s grace like this, saying:

“Grace does not grant permission to live in the flesh; it supplies power to live in the Spirit.”   

Rather than freeing us to indulge ourselves with every worldly pleasure, thinking of ourselves as being free to do as we please, God’s grace is better understood, as MacArthur notes, as a “power supply” to live in the Spirit and do those things that bring glory to God. Does that mean we should not enjoy a game of pool every now and then? Of course not! What it does mean is what Jesus declared, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Let’s pray!

In this new day that You have given us, O Lord, may our deepest desire be to think on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—anything is excellent or praiseworthy, knowing that all good gifts come from You and Your amazing grace. This I pray in Jesus’ wonderful Name. Amen!

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