God is seeking to transform us. This is something bigger than mere conformity. He desires for us to be completely changed. One instrument in this change process is brokenness. God moves through broken vessels. (John 11:35; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:13-16)
Speaker(s): Pastor John Love, Philippe Serradji, Avery Powers
6:30 PM on 1/10/2021
Avery Powers –
How is everyone tonight? I asked Jesse Feyers if I could borrow one of his suits because he looked so
good last week, but he said all of his suits are in the dry cleaners because he has been asked to
share at various times! I had to go buy some clothing! Let’s pray. (Prayer). I wanted to speak
briefly about brokenness. This idea we could pray for brokenness in our life, not in an unhealthy
way but that we could be broken at the idea of the Cross and what it means in our lives and to
us. I wanted to speak about that. John 11. Psalm 34:18 says that the Lord is near to the
brokenhearted and that he saves the crushed in spirit. Here we have Jesus coming to raise
Lazarus from the dead. He comes and Martha and Mary are weeping. They come to his feet and
they’re like, Lord, if only you had been here. If only you had been here you could have raised
him. Maybe it’s too late. We have different accounts of Jesus raising people from the dead
before this but maybe it’s too late now. Four days have gone by. It’s too late to raise him. It’s
too late. This is when Jesus weeps with Martha and Mary.
This idea that Christ is broken with us. When we are broken, Christ is broken with us. That’s amazing. The world has this brokenness. The world is broken and when they seek help, it’s a surface level healing. There is
no real understanding of what someone is going through. You could have gone through a
similar situation, close to it but you can never truly understand what someone is going through
exactly, but Christ can. Christ does. He feels what we feel and understands what we feel. When
we are broken, he weeps with us. He knows he is going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He
knows that but he is still weeping. John 11:35 Jesus wept. Jesus wept. That’s amazing. It’s the
shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. That’s amazing. Maybe he knows he’s going to raise him
from the dead, but he weeps with Martha and Mary. He weeps with us. He is going to do a
good work and there is going to be joy in our life, but he weeps with us. When we weep and we
are broken, he’s there weeping with us. Isaiah 53:3, he’s a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
That word “acquainted,” he knows grief. He knows grief intimately.
In Hebrews 12:2 it says for the joy set before him, he endured the cross. There was this joy in the cross because he knew what the cross meant. The cross meant our salvation. The cross meant we could be like able to go to
heaven. We could have access to the presence of God and that’s amazing. We could be brought
to heaven and he knew that. That’s why there was joy for the cross. We could pray for this
brokenness but there is joy coming. James 1:2 we can have joy through trials. We can have joy
Philippe Serraji –
Ephesians 4 if there was maybe a title for the message, I think it would maybe be
The Battle for the Mind. I’ll share a couple other thoughts maybe not from Ephesians but from
other places in the Bible. But for me, it’s interesting I’ve been thinking about the theme of
decisions and thoughts and meditation since the summer and realizing how important it is for
us to understand why God gave us the church and why God gave us his Word. So when we read
Ephesians 4:11-14, it’s amazing here. There are a couple points I would like to make about the
paragraph and then we can take it. I just want to go somewhere so if you bear with me I’m just
putting the context here, because I think the point here as I said the battle of the mind – we’ll
read Isaiah 55 in a moment – is that it is very clear to us as we grow as Christians that our thoughts are not the same as God’s thoughts. We don’t think naturally the way God thinks.
The difference between his thoughts and our thoughts is the trouble that we face as Christians.
When we go through difficult times or trials or even good times, when we think naturally we
have one perspective and when we think with God we have a completely different perspective.
So when we wonder what are we doing here on a Sunday night or in the morning reading the
Word for our devotionals, that is exactly the heart of the issue. It’s the battle for the mind.
What is my thought process and what is my thought pattern. Here’s a few things he makes as a
point in Ephesians 4: 1) All the ministries that he is listing here, apostles, prophets, evangelists,
pastors and teachers, all them are related to one ministry in the church which is the teaching or
preaching of the Word. He’s not saying these people are gifted as.
He is saying they are a gift to the church. He has given to the church people who are going to be able to teach and preach the Word, and what is amazing here is that everyone that is equipped and is a gift to the church has
this ministry in his life connected to the Word. Because the central role of the church besides
worshipping and missions is the teaching and the edifying of the saints. That’s the first point
that he makes here. 2) He’s also saying the process in which we enter as Christians is the one
we see here, vs. 12, for the equipping of the saints. That’s number one, and it’s speaking to us
as individuals and not as a church. As saints, but as every saint we are being equipped and it is
connected to the ministry that he is referring to, right? The pastor, the teacher, the prophet,
the evangelist, all these guys that are teaching the Word and preaching the Word are therefore
equipping. Now, if Paul uses the word here for equipping it means that if we are not under the
Word, we are not equipped.
The equipping does not mean you dress up in the morning and you
leave, even though it’s better to dress up in the morning before you leave! The point is he is not
saying we are dressed up. He is saying we are equipped. You only equip yourself when you have
a special task or face a special moment. You don’t equip yourself when you wake up in the
morning. You dress yourself. But here we are equipped, and we see that in Ephesians 6. He
explains why we have the armor of God and it’s later on two chapters he’s explaining what he
means by that. But the equipping of the saints happened when we are under the Word of God.
The other point he makes here “the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry.” Every
Sunday morning at 10:00 in the library we meet with young adults and we discuss topics. We
were talking about the importance of understanding that we have a ministry whether or not we
are full-time workers in the church. We do have a ministry.
If I’m a professional and I’m working some place, I have a ministry. First he says that God is equipping the saints for the work of the ministry means like all of us have something to do in the kingdom of God. But then he goes
again. He goes back and forth the idea that yes, we have a ministry if we are equipped and we
are equipped if we are under the Word of God. So again he goes back. We are under the Word
of God. We’re equipped. We enter into the work of the ministry. But then he says here later on
in the same verse, “for the edifying of the Body of Christ.” That means that the end goal of the
first process he’s talking about is that the church would be healthy. I remember speaking about
the verse not too long ago and the point I was making is using a chain as an example, we always
say, and we have the same expression in English is the chain is as weak as the weakest link in a way. We could say a church is as healthy or as unhealthy as the weakest member.
Because he’s saying here you and I are getting under the pulpit and we are equipped. We work in the
ministry and that edifies the church. For us to be strong as a church, we have to be strong in
our personal walk with God as individuals and that’s why we have to be under the Word. There
was a study. I shared this website a few days ago with P. Schaller and others. It’s a survey and
asking key questions to the general public Christian and non-Christian and also evangelicals
about what they believe on some key issues on theology. One of the questions was do you
believe that theology or the study of the Word is reserved for those that are in ministry, and I
think it was 58% of people believe that’s the case. The minority of people think that you
shouldn’t be interested in the Word if you are a Christian. It’s interesting because we, if we
think this way and the battle of the mind is not well engaged. We are not ready for this. So he
goes on he, but he explains more in vs. 13. He’s explaining here basically that the end goal for
all of us is that we would be like Christ.
That change from glory to glory and the likeness to Jesus happens through a process. We’ll talk about that in a moment, but this process happens because we are under the Word of God. But then he goes to another point here. Vs. 14. In a
way, he is presenting two arguments. One is the positive one which is the role of the church is
to equip us so we can enter into the work of the ministry and then we can be edified as a
church. Then we grow and we be like Christ not just when we see Him in 1 Thessalonians 3:2 but now
we can be transformed. But also there is another side to the same coin. If we are not, then this
is what we are facing. Vs. 14. The point here and that is why I was talking about the battle for
the mind is that there is no connection between my thoughts and God’s thoughts. My natural
thoughts won’t help in any way in being transformed into the image of Christ. You thoughts
won’t help me to grow in Christ. My thoughts won’t help you to grow in Christ.
I’m saying this because I see we are easily tempted to – and we also this morning with the young adults we
were talking about wisdom. It’s easy for us to give advice. It’s easy for us to give a thought on
something. But then, the only difference it will make in someone’s life is when we bring God
into the picture, his thoughts, and we only know his thoughts when we make room in our mind
for his thoughts. The point here he is making is that not only we will be by default tossed to and
fro by every wind of doctrine, but he was also going a little further by saying there is craftiness
happening. You know what the word “crafty” means. Someone who is like handcrafted. It’s
almost like a selling point. You go to a place and you want to buy something. It’s been made in a
factory and hand crafted. It’s different. It’s been designed. There is an effort put into it. That is
the point he is making here. There is an effort put against you mind and my mind. There is an
effort put for us not to think with God. There is an effort for us not to think with God. I’m saying
all of these because I want to go to the point of Romans 12:2.
This summer P. Justin invited me to speak at the church in Fed. Hill and I was reading some statistics that I think are really interesting because of course you cannot pinpoint the exact number because everyone is
different. Some people sleep 16 hours a day and others 4 hours a day, so we don’t have the
same brain activity! They are saying that an average person has about 50,000 thoughts a day
and makes about 30,000 decisions a day. Imagine that, 50,000 thoughts a day and 30 or 32,000 decisions per day. What is interesting in that is I was wondering how much of my thoughts are
mine or how much of my thoughts are from the atmosphere. How much of my thoughts are
from God. How much of my decisions are intentional or passive. How much of my daily thinking
is with God or without God. I’m not saying this to be heavy or burden ourselves. Just to realize
that there is no room for passivity in our lives, because when we are passive, we are losing the
battle for the mind, right? That’s the point here.
Romans 12:2. You have this verse that I think is very important here. You’ve heard this verse many, many times I’m sure. Paul here is describing what he has been explaining in Ephesians 6 about the battle of the mind or the thinking process, that we may be transformed to and not tossed to and fro. These two things are explained here in
Romans 12. He’s explaining there is a process. He’s opposing two things. One is the passive way
we are easily going to by default which is the conforming to the world. It doesn’t mean that we
are sinning extensively. It just means we are not thinking with God. The other side you have the
transforming of the Word which is by the renewing of the mind. Obviously it’s the same in
English but obviously in the Greek in the text he’s using two different words, right? On the one
hand you have conforming to the world and on the other hand you have being transformed by
the renewing of the mind. Those two words means two different things completely.
The first one would be that whatever you put into a mold, if you melt plastic or metal and you put it into
a mold, everything that goes out of it looks the same. It’s not so much the quality of the
product you put in it. It’s the shape of it that matters. If you are into the world whether you
have character or you don’t, you are conformed to the world. You have the same form. Nobody
cares about the character. Nobody cares about the heart. Nobody cares about your thoughts.
You look like what you should look like. You are conformed. You are in the mold. But he could
have said the same thing. Do not be conformed to the world. Be conformed by the renewing of
your mind, but he used a different word. He doesn’t want us to be like any other Christians. So
the point of the church is not for us to be like someone. It’s for us to be like Christ. It would
have been interesting if he said well, do not be conformed to the world but please be
conformed by the renewing of your mind.
I could look at all of you outside and say, okay, check, Christian, Christian, Christian, Christian. I can see from the outside. It’s clear obviously. You are clean on the outside so there is a way for me to measure your spirituality because we would be from the same mold. He said something deeper here. God is interested of course in our walk, in
our attitudes, in our decisions. But he’s very much more interested in our thoughts. Because he
is saying here do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of the
mind. The word “transformed” is used very rarely in the Bible. I think it’s only three times.
Twice for Christ and once for us here. You know when Jesus is on the Mt. of Transfiguration,
that’s the word metamorphosis, same as here. God is not interested in us being conformed but
completely changed. It says here it only happens by the renewal of our mind and that’s the
process that Paul was explaining in Ephesians 4.
The importance of the Word in our lives is what we are talking about, realizing we are trapped in our own thoughts without the thoughts of God. This is obvious. I mean we heard, and all talked about how unpredictable – what was the word used P. Love? Unprecedented? With a French accent it sounds a lot better! In a way, 2020 was – I don’t know. I don’t know about that. Yeah, 2020 was unpredictable but can you predict
2021? I don’t think so. It is as unpredictable as anything. When you go through trials in 2020 or
2021, you go through trials. It doesn’t make any difference. I think we feel challenged in a
special way because we have to do things differently, but that does not mean that God doesn’t
have a thought on that. I think the challenge for our lives is not whether or not our
circumstances are difficult. It’s whether or not God has a thought on it. I think this is what Paul
is saying here. Are we entering into the process of our mind being renewed? If I’m coming to
church, I want to hear a word from God.
I want to be edified. I want to be encouraged and I want to be rebuked also. I want to be exhorted also because I need it. I’m looking for this verse I put down here in my notes. I think it’s proverbs. Yeah, 19:8. I was reading this earlier today.
Proverbs 19:8, so the point here is not that well, as a good Christian, – I was saying to some
students recently, if you find the expression “good Christian” in the Bible, I’ll give you one
hundred bucks. Obviously, I know there is no such thing as a good or bad Christian. Either you
are spiritual, or you are not. Either you walk with God or you don’t. There is no such thing as a
good Christian. If we are spiritual we are spiritual. If we are not, we are not. It’s not that
complicated. Galatians 5:16. It’s just a decision. Thinking with God is a decision. Hearing the word is a
decision. Meditating is a decision. And this is what here makes the role of the pulpit, the role of
the church and the preaching and the Bible college very important because we are letting God
replacing our natural thoughts with his.
That’s the renewing of the mind. Isaiah 55:8-9, we spoke about that earlier. My thoughts and his thoughts, completely different. When I enter into a situation or a trial or even any day, what comes to mind and what is natural to me is one way of thinking but the only way for me to know the Word and to actually think with God is to know
the Word. That’s the point he is making here, right? The renewing of the mind. What’s amazing
is when I was studying this word “metamorphosis” in Greek, you have another one in the Bible
which looks like it which is “morphosis.” It’s not the same as being a mold but it’s almost like in
French and in English we have the same difference. When you have something that has a word
like physics and metaphysics. It’s something that is bigger or larger. It’s something that is
transcending. You have physics. You have metaphysics. You have narrative. You have
metanarrative. Then you have the same in the Bible. You have morphosis which is something
that we can manufacture. Then you have metamorphosis that you can only get from God.
The word morphosis we find in 2 Timothy 3:1. Obviously it’s very relevant. Vs. 2-4. This is where I think
it is interesting in vs. 5. The form of godliness is morphosis. It’s not a metamorphosis holiness.
It’s a morphosis. It’s a form of godliness. The problem is it denies the power thereof. If our
transformation, if our renewing of the mind is not a work of the Spirit, it lacks the power
thereof. The problem with the Pharisees in the Bible, it’s not that they were bad people and the
other ones were good people. The Pharisees, they figured things out without God. They had
their thoughts in order without God. They had a morphosis. They are different than the others.
They look different on the outside, but they deny the power thereof. The only way for you and I
to be transformed by the renewing of the mind is to have a metamorphosis, a transformation,
not something that is shaped by human effort but something that is completely different.
The way for me to change my behavior is for my mind to be affected. The way I walk is the way I
think. If I try to walk a certain way without the thought being transformed, then it won’t work.
Just to think about it this way. One of the questions that we discussed this morning with the
young adults was the word “wisdom.” It’s interesting and I’d like to finish with this. It’s
interesting here and what you said in John. 11 with Martha will explain the point that I’m trying to
make. Proverbs tells us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. We were
discussing that and what does it mean because we may have maybe a limited understanding of
what it could mean. I have to have an understanding of who God is to have an understanding of
wisdom. If I do understand who God is, then I fear him I a good way. Wisdom is not knowledge.
It’s not things that I can know and apply without him. Wisdom is things that I know, and I obey
with him. I have the fear of God; therefore, it’s the beginning of knowledge, beginning of
wisdom and it’s the same with Martha in John. 11.
She had many understanding of who Christ was because she told him and Mary said the same thing; they both said if you would have been here, my brother would have been healed. They know something about God. They know
something about Jesus. What do they know of him? He can heal people. He’s done it before,
but what they don’t know is him. Knowing he can heal and do no more and being disappointed
with him because he showed up too late is showing that I don’t know who he is. I know about
him. I know what he did. I know he can heal but I’m limiting him because obviously now he is
dead. There is nothing you can do about it. The problem with Martha is she had knowledge, but
she didn’t have wisdom because she didn’t have a fear of Christ. Obviously he is there. Thank
you for coming anyway. At least you can attend the funeral. That’s nice but three days earlier
would have been a lot better because you could have healed him. She’s up for a rude
awakening in a way because she doesn’t know him. She knows of him.
That’s exactly what we are talking about. The battle for the mind is not because I’ve read the verse a couple of times or
heard the Word a few times that I know God. I know of him maybe but the wisdom of
relationship with him makes me know him and then I have the fear of the Lord and I walk in
wisdom. Having thoughts being transformed is different than just thinking differently. It’s
having a relationship with God that allows me to see him arrive too late for my brothers and
still expect something from him. He then tried to explain to her. Don’t you know that I am the
resurrection and the life? Yeah, yeah. I know and then she regurgitates her theology. At the end
of the world, everyone will raise up. I have read my Bible for – she’s repeating to him what he
told her, but I don’t think she understood who he was.
That’s the depth of our life as Christians. It’s not just about a dead book here that we read sometimes and then hopefully our minds will be shaped in some way. We develop a relationship with God that goes deeper in our lives and
that transforming of the mind, the renewing of the mind makes us metamorphosis, not just
morphosis. And we look like him and we think like him and think with him and we walk with
him. As we said in Proverbs 19:8, if I love my soul then I love the Word. I don’t love the Word
because this is what Christians do. I love the Word. I hear the Word. I meditate on the Word,
and I obey the Word because it's good for my soul because it’s the Word of God, right? Let’s
P. Love –
Praise God! Are there happy Ravens fans here tonight? A couple? Just a couple? Okay.
Praise God. Great portions, amen. What’s that? Three more wins P. Steve said they will be
happy. (prayer). What Avery said about brokenness. When you ask God for that, I think he said
it’s a scary prayer. He’s right. I remember I’ll tell you the story. It happened shortly after I got
saved. I just want to say thanks to P. Schaller for that message this morning. Will we ever think
about the word “immediately” the same way ever again? It was amazing. Immediately. When I
received Christ and I know it’s the same for you, when you received Christ, immediately you
were justified. Immediately you were beyond the reach of condemnation. Immediately you
were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. All of those
incredible things happened at that moment of salvation.
They happened immediately. But after we realized that and began to understand that, we also understood that it was now a process that was going to take place in our lives. I’ll just share this with you. I think I shared it at one of
the lunch raps some time ago. After I gave my heart to Christ and I was born again, I wasn’t one
of these believers – you hear these testimonies where people say I got saved and gone was
smoking and gone was drinking and gone was profanity. Everything just like it dropped. It was
gone. That wasn’t the case with me. I mean I think that happens and I think it’s awesome. It’s
amazing. But for me it’s more like immediately I was saved, immediately justified, immediately
brought into God’s kingdom but then there was this struggle. This process of sanctification that
was just beginning in my life. I knew the struggle was there. I was a walking civil war. The flesh
warring against the spirit and the spirit warring against the flesh. I knew what I should do like
the Apostle Paul in Romans 7, but I ended up doing exactly what I knew I shouldn’t do.
One night someone had given me a booklet. I remember it so clearly. It was such a moment in my
life that I remember the name of the booklet. The name was called, “Lord, Break Me.” It was a
silhouette of a man on his knees. They gave me that booklet and said I think this is a great read.
You’ll love this. The author was William McDonald. It was just like one of the booklets that
Pastor Stevens wrote. Same size. It wasn’t lengthy. Just a booklet. I remember they gave it to
me, and I had it. I kept it in my car. I had it on the passenger seat. Every once in a while I’d look
over at it and think to myself, no. No. I remember one night in the midst of my struggle, I pulled
up in front of the liquor store. I had every intention of going in. I pull up. I pull my car up and
look over at the book. It says, Lord, Break Me. No! NO! NO! Don’t break me. I want to go in.
I want something in the store. I ended up in tears in my car. I think somebody, I knew somebody
they came by and saw me sobbing and of course they came up and said, is everything alright?
Do you need some money? What was I going to say? No. I’m in the midst of a huge spiritual
struggle right now where I know the Lord wants to break me, but I don’t really want to be
broken. I want to do the things I shouldn’t do. Can you pray for me? No, he couldn’t do that. I
just remember it happened. I didn’t go in. I read the booklet right in front of the liquor store. It
was the booklet that I wished I never read but I’m so grateful I read that book. I needed it so
badly. Why? As Avery said, God loves broken things. We live in a broken world, don’t we? But
everywhere in the Bible and it’s interesting in our world, in our culture, if something is broken,
you put it on the shelf. You put it in the garage. You put it away. It’s no longer of any use or
value. But God on the other hand, he looks at his people and he says I can’t use them until they are broken. Just the opposite of the way the world things. Just the opposite.
When you go through the Bible, everything is broken. There’s a broken alabaster box so the ointment might
be poured out on Jesus. There is a broken roof so a man may be lowered to Christ so his friends
can see him healed. There’s even a broken ship in the book of Acts. P. Schaller preached about
it recently. On the broken pieces of the ship, lives were saved. Everywhere in the Bible. Broken
hearts. Even Jesus himself said his message, his ministry was to come and to what? To heal
broken hearts. There is something beautiful about brokenness. Isaiah 57:15 (AMP), that’s how
God works. Brokenness is not to be side stepped. It’s not to be removed from our lives. It’s to
be welcomed into our lives. It’s his dwelling place. Think about it. The high and holy one that
inhabits eternity. The everlasting God. It also says I dwell in him who is of a broken, contrite,
humble spirit. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:7 we have this treasure. Where is it found? In an earthen
vessel. In order for the treasure to come out, what has to happen?
The vessel has to be broken. The life of Christ cannot come forth from someone that has it all together. So often Christians speak that way. Christians have almost as a goal – my goal is to have it all together. God would
say my goal is to take it all apart! To break the natural man. To break all of his strength. To
break all of his dependence upon himself. To take away his crutches so to speak so I can carry
him. Brokenness. It is a scary prayer, but it is one that God hopes comes from all of our hearts
because of what it accomplishes. Notice it says God is in the business of reviving the heart of
the one that is broken. They have been bruised with sorrow for sin. If anyone tonight here or
listening on the internet is bruised because of sin, remember this: a bruised reed he will not
break. A smoking flax, no, he won’t put it out but nurse that soul back to health and strengthen
them inwardly by his Spirit and that can’t happen without brokenness.
Brokenness can happen through so many ways. It can happen through relationships. It can happen through great
trouble and trial. It can happen through failure, through failure. I love the story of a man I read
whose name was Sir Edward Hillary. He was an explorer. He was one of the many men now that
finally got to the summit of Mt. Everest. After several failed attempts and after one failed
attempt in particular, he found himself at the base of the great mountain. Finally he turned
around and looked at the mountain and said, I am going to defeat you someday because you
can’t get any bigger, but I am growing all the time. Of course, after that he successfully climbed
the summit. It was his failure that created the capacity for his success. In the same way, God
does that in all of our lives. If failure has bruised you, don’t be troubled. Don’t be worried. Don’t
be overly concerned. Just give God an opportunity to find his way into your heart through that
failure and watch what he can do. God can only use broken things. God dwells in the hearts of
those that are broken.
The bruised reed he will never break. Thank God for brokenness. It is a
scary prayer. I’ll never forget that day in front of the liquor store. Finally, I read the booklet and
my prayer was Lord, break me. I don’t think there will ever be a time as we move through life
that we will ever reach a place or a plateau where we say that’s it. That’s enough. No, I think
brokenness has to characterize our lives as long as we are here. That’s good because it gives
God a chance to dwell in us and as the brokenness happens, God has a greater chance to come
through us. Don’t worry about failure. Don’t worry about the fear of failure. I loved it when
they asked Winston Churchill. He successfully brought his nation through the second world war. It took an extraordinary to face Hitler’s Nazi’s. They said to him, what do you think prepared
you for this? He said it was when I was in the second grade, and I did not pass the second
grade. They said, you failed the second grade? He said I never failed anything. He said I got a
second opportunity to do it right. That’s all our failure is another opportunity for God to have
an opportunity to come through us through brokenness and he’ll get it right. What we can’t get
right, he will always get right.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.