As believers, we are in tension between our old selves and our new creation. Paul gloried in the Cross. The flesh got us started with life. What is the way out of the power of our flesh? The answer is to walk in the Spirit. Obey from the heart that form of doctrine that is given to us. Maybe we grow tired of hearing things about what happened before. We celebrate what doctrine has done in us by the Spirit.
Speaker(s): Pastor John Hadley
Sermon # 11715
6:30 PM on 7/14/2019
Testimony by Curtis Brown
Praise the Lord. Sometimes its hard not to be quiet. I want to share about God’s love. I’ve been with the Lord 33 years. I’m amazed at the love he shares and has toward the world. Before I got saved, I believed I was one of the most wicked and dangerous people. I got shot and believed I deserved death. I was lying in my own blood and could feel my life leaving me. I could hear the enemy try to get me to relax and close my eyes. I heard the love of God talk to me. As my blood was leaving me, even living in that world you never have peace. You have so many enemies. I was miserable. That was tied to drugs and trying to cover your pain. When I realized the God of the universe came down.
It was Nov 12 and there are millions around the world who die. As my destination was hell, it felt like God stopped everything and turned around and looked to me…there were people out there who deserved life. It felt like God reached over and saved me. You do reap what you sow out there. One thing I never asked was, why me? I knew I deserved it. I didn’t deserve the love God shared with me. I know all of you have experiences of God’s love. Here I am a nobody in the world and for God to reach down and give me a second chance meant the world to me. I have dedicated my life to serving him.
Hey, guys, we [him and his wife, Theresa] were asked to share. I told Theresa I’d hand her the mike and she said she would kill me!
Unto you which believe, he is precious (1 Pe. 2:7). If that is true and we believe it is, then we believe the Body is very precious. Mt. 20 the two blind men are crying out, have mercy on us. The crowd is telling them to shut up, but they won’t. Jesus finds them and asks them what would you like me to do? They say they want their eyes open and he heals them. We grew up in the church here. We had to make a decision for God like everyone. That is our testimony like those blind men. Christ found us and he opened our eyes. We see he is precious, and the Body of Christ is precious. It’s our privilege to have a little part of that with all you guys. We love you guys.
For those of you who don’t know us, I’m Martin. My kids are here. We moved around this time of the year last year. We were moving cross country from Tacoma, Washington all the way here. We were thinking how this Body is like a family to us. The first couple months they [the kids] were saying we miss Tacoma and we want to go to Tacoma. I haven’t heard that for a long time now. I don’t remember that from you guys anymore. This is home for us. The reason is the love of God through you guys. It’s your face. It’s a corporate. We can see it. It’s a testimony of many other people that can say this Body is so special. I moved from here or that. I know there are many great stories of people who did so many sacrifices. Even at Convention, one of the pastors took four planes to get here. It took him three days. Why? He wanted to be with your guys. There is something special going on here. The love of Christ is manifested through us.
This Body is very special, so we are very thankful.
Isn’t it great when you are a kid going for a ride somewhere and it’s helpful when you are told where you are going. Are we there yet? How long is it going to take? It’s great to know what is going on. You can work at a place and stand behind a machine and think, can anyone tell me what these parts are used for? This part does this and I’m feeling like I’m doing something important and am important.
In the Christian life, where are we going? Heaven, yes, but there is a process going on, conformation into the image of Christ. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. That’s what’s going on, changing us to be like Christ. I wonder if I’m more like Christ than a year ago. Maybe you can tell me that. I want to hope so. That is God’s goal to make us like Christ. Our default setting was the first Adam but now we are in the tension between old and new. It will happen. If we understand what is going on, it is helpful to us. God is making us like his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased and bringing many sons to glory. Paul combined two words that normally won’t go together. He is glorified in the cross. How is it possible to glory in the cross?
I have some paragraphs from David Guzik’s commentary. “Paul’s cross and glory is incompatible. What can ever be glorious about the horrible, inhuman, tortuous means of executing someone. Heavenly logic glories in the cross. Only by the cross is the old rebellious us cancelled out.” That’s what it took. A horrible, unspeakable cross and the new creation dominates our lives because of the cross. The word CRUX was unmentionable in Roman society…archaic formula which served as sort of an unlucky euphemism. I’m reading like this cause it’s my handwriting. In Latin it is called [?]. It translates “tree unhappy suspended” or “hanging on the unlucky tree.” The political Roman society would use that instead of the word “cross.” God has seen fit to apply the cruel cross in which the old man is crucified, and we live in the new creation. The old man is crucified but the flesh is the flesh. It’s what’s left over from the old man. The old boss is dead and gone but he discipled us, trained us, showed us how to live, how to save our life. The old man is gone but all that training is still there. What is the way out of this flesh?
Paul said if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. I’m going to put a “Selah” there. In Hebrew, it can be interpreted with a little stretching to talk to your neighbor about that. Selah! What do you think about that? The old man, the flesh and walking in the Spirit keeps us from fulfilling the flesh. The cross is #1.
2) Romans 6:17. But God be thanked you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. We have any tool and die makers in here? Special machinists. Nobody. You know what a mold or form is. TUPOS. It’s like a mold that obeying the teaching from the word of God molds us to conform to that teaching. That’s the process of becoming a living epistle. You have obeyed from the heart, the core of your being, that form, that TUPOS, that word of God that makes a difference in our lives and conforms us to the image of Christ. It can’t happen without the teaching of the word of God. How did this church – we don’t have the flags in here – how did we end up in so many countries? We obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine P. Stevens taught us.
Finally, 3) the importance of prayer in the process of conforming us into the image of Christ. Something interesting about looking up to heaven in prayer. We usually pray by closing our eyes and bowing our head. In Scripture, in Jesus’ life – I don’t know if there is any record of anyone closing their eyes and praying. Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish and he looked up to heaven. He healed the deaf man and looked up to heaven. As he was about to raise Lazarus, he lifted his eyes toward heaven. In Jn. 17, when Jesus started his high priestly prayer, he lifted his eyes toward heaven as if he was looking at the Father or to the Father. Nebuchadnezzar’s prayer in Dan 4:34, I lifted up my eyes to heaven and my understanding returned to me. We set our gaze toward God in faith, our right understanding, a sound mind returns to us. God is conforming us to the image of his Son instead of complaining and being confused. Talk to your neighbor. That’s the second “Selah.”
Now we are going to turn this into a big living room. We want some enjoyable edification tonight. I want to reminisce a little bit. It will help us stir our faith and cause us to appreciate how we got here. To think of how we got here. A couple things about P. Schaller. He was speaking to me once telling a story and in trying to recall he made this sentence and said, I remember it was after I gave up my life and he kept going. I caught that. After I gave up my life. It was like he got saved and then at some point he made a decision to go for it all, to give up his life. It was a point in time in his history where he didn’t look back. That one is still with me. It makes me and I know we can all be a little introspective in a positive way. Lord, only you can answer that, but I want that. He applied the cruel cross to his life and then was set free. I remember it was after I gave up my life, but he kept going. I stayed back there, and I told him after. After I gave up my life. How do you do what he did and keep your life? It doesn’t happen.
Then at one time maybe 10 or 8 years ago, we were at the Labor Day picnic, and he said let’s got to the slip and slide. All the kids are going down the hill. We are dressed in shorts and shirt and he says, you want to? I got to think about that. I turned to answer him, and he was gone. He was at the bottom of the hill soaking wet. I thought that’s why he’s the pastor. He gave his life away. He invited me to come along, but I was a little too slow. Doesn’t that amply describe his life? It speaks of the cross, faith, risk and all these are part of being conformed to the image of Christ. Jesus obeyed his Father in all things always perfectly.
Then there is Pastor Stevens. How many knew him? Before the chairs were over here and were actually back there, I was sitting next to him. He had just come back from a trip. This was a 10:30 a.m. service. We are chatting and I said pastor, I didn’t think you’d be here. That’s all he needed to hear. It was like he was rebuking the devil. He looked at me with fiery eyes and said I’ll be here! I turned my head and looked straight ahead. He also gave his life away. He made that decision and had that resolve. I’m going to follow you and obey you and it doesn’t matter the cost. That’s why he fired back at me because he was exhausted and would have rather been in bed sleeping but put the will of God first. At the end of his life, I had the privilege of being in his hospital room. I don’t know how much longer he lived, maybe a month or two months. The nurse came in the room and he was not moving. His eyes were not open. It seemed he was sleeping, definitely resting. The nurse came in the room and eyes are on me. Why don’t you say something to her? I started witnessing to the nurse. She ended up praying. She left the room. And he’s there seemingly unconscious. The door closes. His head snapped up. He turned his head and said in the strongest voice, did she just get saved? Catherine and I looked at each other. She said, I know. That’s what he was all about. Right to the end.
Then maybe a couple things about me. But not about me but God in me. That’s worth listening to. Walking in the Spirit. It happens occasionally. I want it to happen all the time! I remember coming from outreach about 20 years ago, it wasn’t the last time I walked in the Spirit! P. Schaller has more discernment than that! I’m driving down North Ave heading toward the church and drove by a row home. A bunch of people sitting out front, a lot of youth and I sensed something in my heart. You have to go back there. You know how it is. I said I’m not going back there. I’m going to the church. You said forsake not the assembly of yourself together! The pressure was there. Driving farther and still there. Lord, what am I going to say? I went and parked my car and walked over to the steps. I introduced myself. I said, is anyone inside? My mother and grandmother. Go in. I walked through the door, and the mom said, thank goodness you are here. We have been waiting for you. I said, excuse me? She said we have been waiting for you. I said I didn’t know I was coming here. Did you know what happened? I lost three children in a fire. I said I did hear about that in the news. Her mother was in bed. She was elderly. I think God wants to show you how much he cares for you and how much compassion he has for you. We stayed and talked, and I prayed. I think someone from another church was scheduled to be there. Is God amazing? Does God care for people?
Another time, I was jogging, and it was by McClean Boulevard when I lived in Hamilton. It was the time of the play. I jogged by this house and the door was open. I went back to the house and all sweaty. The woman comes to the door. I said, Hi. I’m Pastor Hadley and I live over here. I said we have an Easter play. I’d love to invite you. We talked about God’s love. She stood there and started crying. I’m not making this stuff up. She said last night I was on my knees asking God to show me he loved me, and you came to my door. Halleluiah, God is amazing! When Jesus said I came to give you live and live abundantly, I think that’s what he was talking about. Step into the Spirit world and say please guide me and use me in a peculiar way.
I have a word for the youth. Maybe they are all in Georgia, the country of Georgia. What I would like to say to the youth is maybe you are tired of hearing us old people talk about the good old days, the glory days, Lenox, Massachusetts, South Berwick, Maine. This and that. If you lived through them, there is a reason why. We remember those days because they were the highwater mark spiritually in our lives. How normal is it to have in the 1980’s dozens of families pack their bags, mom and dad and children to go on an airplane to live in another country and plant a church. How normal is that. We were one of those families. Why did it happen? Because of that form of doctrine received in the heart and filled us with faith. We were filled with faith because the word of God continued to strike our heart and put us in that mold, so we were conformed into the will of God. We were crazy enough to believe God and trust him for the results. It was the preaching of P. Stevens. He was relentless, faithful and had this amazing balance. If you only knew him from the pulpit, maybe you’d be scared of him sometimes. If you knew him personally, he was so tender, and kind and he would give you his time. He was quite a combination of those things.
I remember the time we were on the mission field. I messed up in the sense I wasn’t such a good husband. Meaning that in my ignorance, I was neglecting my wife and her needs. A mother of four children in a developing country with many needs and a lot of pressure and hard work over the years. She got to the point she couldn’t do it anymore. She does the family things and the cooking and cleaning, and shopping and I plant a church. When she couldn’t do it anymore, I was like, what’s going on? Husbands live with your wives in an understanding way. I learned that after. Now I got that down. If you come for marital and pre-marital counseling, you’ll hear a lot about that. Nancy, thank you for your steadfastness and graciousness. She forgave me and that was years ago. Live with your wives in an understanding way, meaning time and a sit down occasionally and ask the questions. What do you need and how can I bless you? How much money do you need? If you can!
Anyways, getting back to the youth, as I finish, maybe you’re tired of hearing us talk about those days but we invite you and I think all the elders, and P. Schaller and trustees and older folks will be on board. We invite you to outshine us, outdo us, out pray us, out serve us. We invite you to make us look like a dim light compared to what you are doing. We invite you. We challenge you. Make us look bad in compared to what God can do through you. That’s our challenge to you. It’s a standing challenge.
What God did back then that God is more than ready to even exceed what he has already done.
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