What do United Methodists Christians Believe? Of Good Works

John 14:8-14

After we have found the faith of Jesus Christ, our lives our changed. We start living righteous lives. It is in living righteous lives that we are able to do good works. The good works are how we live our faith in Jesus Christ.

No matter how many times John Wesley and the early Methodists spoke about doing good works as a result of being justified by Christ, they still got into trouble with other Christians. There has been a controversy over good works ever since that first Pentecost. Some Christians have been criticized for saying it is our good works that get us into God’s kingdom. Some Christians have been criticized for saying we do good works after placing faith in Jesus Christ.

We United Methodist Christians are among those who believe because of our faith in Jesus Christ we do good works. We don’t say it is our good works that get us into God’s kingdom. We do say we do good works after placing faith in Jesus Christ. We even agree with Paul who wrote that any good we did before following Jesus is as filthy rags.

Jesus helps us see the importance of the work we do. It is by following Jesus, believing in Jesus, that we do good works. As we examine Jesus’ words a bit closer, we see it is God who works through us as we do these good works! By believing Jesus, we get to do good works, even greater works than Jesus did. It all stems from our believing in Jesus and the Father.

A. We can believe Jesus (14:8-11)
+++1. Philip the disciple wants to see God the Father
+++2. If you see Jesus, then you see the Father
+++3. Jesus is in the Father, the Father is in Jesus
+++4. The words Jesus speaks are the Father’s words
+++5. The works Jesus does are the Father’s words
+++6. Believe Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus
+++7. For when we believe, Jesus is in us!
+++8. Look at the works Jesus did
++===+a. Water into wine (2:1-12)
+++===b. Jesus heals a boy (4:46-54)
++===+c. Jesus healed a sick man (5:1-46)
++===+d. Jesus fed 5000 (6:1-15)
++====+e. A man born blind receives sight (9:1-12)
+===++f. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (11:38-44)
+++9. Belief in Jesus is of the utmost importance in our lives. How else will we see the Father? When we realize who Jesus is, we realize the Father is working among us. The work Jesus did was because of his communion with the Father. There was an enduring, personal communion between Jesus and the Father that was lived out in the works Jesus did. The good works showed up in Jesus’ life. What happens when we believe Jesus?

B. We do greater works than Jesus did! (14:12-14)
+++1. When we believe Jesus, we do greater works than Jesus did
+===++a. Water into wine?
++===+b. Heal someone?
+===++c. Feed over 5000?
+===++d. Give sight to the blind?
+===++e. Raise someone from the dead?
+++2. Jesus will do what we ask him, so the Father may be glorified
+++3. We ask in Jesus’ name
+++4. This believing in Jesus is not just for a moment or two of life. When we believe in Jesus, we gain a communion with Jesus for all of our life. We have an inward, enduring connection with Jesus that shows up in the works we do. After we have been justified by Jesus, we keep on believing in Jesus. We know Jesus through the several means of grace available to us. Praying, reading the Bible, going to weekly worship, receiving Holy Communion, fasting, and tithing are not the good works Jesus is referring to when he mentioned greater works. But our connection with Jesus increases, even strengthens, as we use these means to speak with and hear from the Father. As we commune with Jesus, our faith becomes active in love. That is we do greater works than Jesus because we know Jesus and Jesus knows us.

Yes, we can believe in Jesus. He is the Son of God sent into this world to save us from our sins. As we believe Jesus, we not only see our sins removed from us, we see a new life with God and others. We are able to know the Father because we know the Son. As a matter of fact, we see the Father when we see Jesus.

Life doesn’t end there. We live out our saved lives by doing good works. These are the works that Jesus did. We will even do greater works than Jesus did. How is this possible? Jesus is with the Father now. As we spend time with Jesus, we get to know him. Plus we get to know the Father. By knowing Jesus we can ask Jesus for anything, then the Father is praised for the work we do in this world.

We spend time with Jesus. We do good works. Jesus comes first in our lives. From our believing in Jesus, we do good works. As we leave this place, tell me how the church can encourage you to live your belief in Jesus and do good works.

“What do United Methodist Christians believe? On the Justification of Man”

Galatians 2:15-21

How do we get to be included in family of God?

We know all too well of our own failings. We can’t quite get ahead in life. We can’t get through all of the drama in life. How in the world can we even think about being part of the family of God, when we can’t get it right in our own families?

If we trust in ourselves, then we won’t get anywhere. We will be stuck in the same old rut of existing. We cannot trust other people to get us out of our situations. Even if we were gifted with a great job and leads about financial investment, we cannot escape the life that our rebellion against God has brought us.

How do we get to be in included in the family of God? We get to be included in the family of God by the faith of Jesus. It is Jesus’ faithfulness to God that makes us righteous. We are brought into the family of God by what Jesus did. Our sins no longer define us, but our faith in Jesus, the Faithful One, does define us. Our lives are then crucified with Jesus so Christ can live in us. How then does Christ start living in us?

A. We are made right before God because of the faithfulness of Jesus (2:15-16)
+++1. If Jewish, then a sinner
+++2. If Gentile, then a sinner
+++3. Both are justified through the faith of Jesus Christ
+++4. Being a Jew doesn’t justify us – all the trappings of religion will not justify us
+++5. Only Jesus can make us right before God. The faith of Jesus changes us so much. Thecla wrote, “The power of evil is broken in the life of who receives and trust in the atoning work of the cross, whose faith become active in love.” 1 Yet with so much ahead of us, we try to get our faith done the way we want it.

B. On our own, we cannot get beyond being transgressors (2;17-18)
+++1. If we do all the trappings of religion, then we could be discovered to be sinners, still!
+++2. Is Jesus then a servant of sin? NO
+++3. If we try to do what we once did, before faith in Jesus, then we are transgressors
+++4. We cannot rely on ourselves. We rely on Jesus to make us right before God. Just because we are born into a Christian family, it doesn’t mean that takes our sins away. How then are we to live in the family of God?

C. We get to live by the faith of the Son of God (2:19-21)
+++1. Because of Jesus’ faith, we join him as we place faith in him
+++2. Just as Jesus was crucified, we join him in his crucifixion
+++3. Paul said he died to the Law – by faith in Jesus through the crucifixion
+++4. Christ lives in Paul (plus you and me, as we have faith in Jesus)
+++5. Now, even while we have flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God
+++6. Jesus gave himself – a gift for us – so let us not seek to live as religious people
+++7. To have Christ living in me is what I need. I need more of Jesus in me. This is one reason I receive Holy Communion. The hope is that the more often I receive Jesus, the more I will be focused on him and how he is living within me. It is the faith of Jesus that enables me to be righteous. It is my faith in Jesus that grows as Jesus lives in me. It is the power of the cross of Jesus that helps me to have a faith that is active in love.

How do we get to be included in family of God?

We get included in the family of God by the faith of Jesus. Jesus’ life and death was not only an example of faith. It is the faithfulness of Jesus through his life and death that makes us right before God. God’s grace helps us to accept this truth.

God’s grace has gone before us, bringing us even to this point in time. God has invited us into his family, even into his House. But we are being so polite, we have stayed on the porch. The breeze is nice. The lemonade is good. But we haven’t received all God has for us.

That moment we decide to receive the faith of Jesus Christ, we enter God’s family, even into his House. We are crossing the threshold into all that God has for us. We are starting the process of being entirely holy, sanctified. This is faith being active in love. It is the faith of Jesus Christ that justifies us before God. Our repentance, our turning to God’s ways, is our receiving the faith of Jesus Christ.

Through the next month we will learn this justification takes us deeper into God’s family, into his house. God’s grace has brought us to this point. The gift of Jesus Christ gets us before God in the right way. Then we get to grow in grace as we are in the family of God, in God’s house.

What about you, will you receive the faith of Jesus Christ? Will you let Jesus make you right before God? Will you join the rest of the family in growing in God’s grace? Will you join the family of God so you can have faith that becomes active in love?

What do United Methodist Christians believe? Sin & Free Will

2 Corinthians 5:12-21

Every once in a while, I do some thinking. I have heard the statement, “You have to forgive yourself.” As I pondered that statement, I considered what I know about God and the Bible. Forgiving yourself doesn’t seem possible. We can choose to think our sins away. But they are still there. We can forget about our sin. But they are still there.

Forgiveness of our sins comes from God and those whom we have sinned against. I cannot forgive myself because I am not capable of forgiving myself. When we repent, decide that our ways are causing too much pain and choose to accept God’s ways for our living, then we receive forgiveness. We even accept the decision of other people when we confess to them our actions and words against them, we can be forgiven. By its very nature, forgiveness is received from another, whether from God or another person.

What does forgiveness have to do with sin and free will? God has chosen to forgive our sin. We can choose freely to follow God’s ways or our own ways.

But who sins? We all sin. From the beginning of the Methodist movement, we have realized all humans are infected with original sin. The truth is that like Adam and Eve, we all have the propensity to sin. It is not that because of Adam and Eve’s sin that we are punished. It is by our choosing to go against God that we are punished for sin. That is to say each generation of humanity sins. We make sin, just like Adam and Eve before us.

Our pride, our lusts, our seeking after our own glory have the result of us being separated from God. Left to our own devices, we are evil. We can get dressed up for church, but that doesn’t mean we are righteous before God! On our own, we cannot escape sin or its results. Even Christians have thought we could do good on our own.

There was a heresy that which sprang up in the early church. This heresy even infects the thinking of Christians today. Pelagianism is the heresy that says we are not infected by original sin and that God’s grace is not needed for us to make a choice between good and evil. The idea is that we are not like the generations before us, but that we are capable on our own to do good. The flesh drives us to this idea, whether we are Christian or not!

I am quite confident that I am prone to sin. Left to my own devices, I cannot consistently and thoroughly choose good over evil. I imagine that I am like everyone else in this regard. How then can we choose good over evil? How then are we to overcome this nature of sin in each of us? How are we to stop sinning?

We must be born again. We must start to believe in Jesus Christ. It is by realizing God’s goodness helps us overcome our nature to sin that we can have new life. God has a way for us to be free from sin. Will we choose God’s way to be free from sin?

When we are born again from above, we are a new creation. God has given his Son, Jesus the Christ, so that we may have our relationship with God restored. God didn’t wait until we were good enough. God didn’t wait until we made ourselves whole again. God decided from the beginning that as humanity chose to go away from him, God would make a way for us to get back to him.

Jesus died for all of humanity. For all of humanity has decided to go away from God, each generation repeats this decision. Hearing that God has sent Jesus to die, we can make the choice to live for Jesus. That is we can agree that our sin nature has to die in order for us to live. Once we are in Christ, we are new creatures. We get to spend the rest of our days being reconciled to God.

We once spent our days becoming fully soaked in the ways of sin. But now that God’s grace has revealed to us his Son Jesus, we get to spend the rest of our days becoming fully soaked in the ways of righteousness. We had the idea of good and righteousness while we were sinners. We just couldn’t get there on our own.

But now that we believe in Jesus Christ, are in Christ, we are new creations. We are now ambassadors for Christ. Because of our faith in Jesus, we get to make the choices which lead to more good being done on this planet. Or we can make the choice to revert back to the way we used to be.

That is right. Along the way of following Jesus we are free to choose to step away. We could go back to a life governed by sin. But every moment, every day, we can choose in Jesus to discover all the righteousness that God has. Once we are new creations in Jesus, it sounds so much better for us to continue to freely choose God’s way of living. We would then be living for God and not for ourselves.

The grace of God has gotten us this far. His grace will lead us through faith in Christ to be entirely righteous. We need not be marred by sin any more. We can have a good relationship with God because of Jesus. Won’t we keep on seeking the righteousness of God?

What do United Methodist Christians believe? We believe the Holy Scriptures.

2 Timothy 3:12-17

If we desire to make it out of this world, then we need a way to make it out of this world. Indeed, there is one way out of this world. It is through faith in Jesus Christ that we can make it out of this world. It is the Holy Bible, the Holy Scriptures, which tells us how we make it out of this world alive. And we United Methodist Christians believe this stuff!

One of our predecessor denominations, the Evangelical United Brethren Church, stated: “We believe the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation.”(http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/confession-of-faith) Even the former Methodist Church agreed by saying: “The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation.”(http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-articles-of-religion-of-the-methodist-church) Both of statements can be traced to the Church of England, onto the Catholic Church, and even to early ecumenical councils.

Knowing that we believe in the Holy Scriptures, we turn to some of what they contain for us. Since we desire a way to make it out of this world, our reason for this desire has to be founded upon something. As Paul is writing to Timothy, he says, and I paraphrase, “It is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.” Both within and outside the church Paul foresaw this scene in 2 Timothy 3:2-5a:

“For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, loves of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power.”

How then are we to make it out of this world since it will be getting a whole lot worse? This is where Paul instructs Timothy in the means of living a godly life. It is by knowing the Bible that Timothy makes it out of this world by living a godly life. As we have faith in Jesus we are able to live. It is the Holy Scriptures which shows us what this salvation means.

By praying as we read the Bible we are able to be taught. John Wesley continues this thought in his “Notes on the New Testament”:
“16. All scripture is inspired of God – The Spirit of God not only once inspired those who wrote it, but continually inspires, supernaturally assists, those that read it with earnest prayer. Hence it is so profitable for doctrine, for instruction of the ignorant, for the reproof or conviction of them that are in error or sin, for the correction or amendment of whatever is amiss, and for instructing or training up the children of God in all righteousness.”(http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.i.xvii.iv.html )

A. Profitable for doctrine – we get to know what God thinks and desires
B. For instruction of the ignorant – just because a preacher says it, doesn’t make it true – check for yourself!
C. Reproof/conviction of those in error or sin/Correction/amendment of whatever is amiss – When we sin, we need something to bring us back to God. The Bible brings us back to God.
D. Instructing/training up the children of God – We can be godly, or holy, or righteous, as we learn what being godly, holy, and righteous means. We can only do this was learn what is in the Bible.

For some of us, our parents and parents taught the Bible to us. Others of us are learning about the Bible as we continue to believe in Jesus. Either way, somebody has taught us about the Bible. In the Bible we learn all there is to know about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We learn how to overcome people attempting to deceive us.

We learn God promised a savior as far back as Genesis. We discover that God is faithful – even when His people are not faithful! We discover how patient God is with people. We come to terms with the idea that God wants us to be near him. We even learn that God does not want us to die.

So, God has this plan of salvation which involves us believing that God can deliver us. We get to be with God because of Jesus. It is Jesus who rose from the dead so we may have life with God. Otherwise because of our sins, we would be separated from God.

God has a way for us to make it out of this world. If we follow Jesus Christ, then we can live. We trust Jesus because we know God’s forgiveness through Jesus. This forgiveness leads us to do the good works God knows we can do. Once we repent of our ways, we get to take up God’s ways of living. Just as God did good in creating us, we do good as God created us.

We will not make it out of this world unless we believe in Jesus. Read the Bible and see for yourself. Then, let’s start living what we read in the Bible.

Trinity

Matthew 28:16-20

There was an estate sale. Everything from the dearly departed was on the auction block. The furniture was selling at a good price. The clothing went at a great discount. Then the auctioneer held up a dusty, old violin. He asked, “Who will give me $100 to start the bidding on this violin?”

No person raised a hand. The auction had come to a slow down. Nobody would bid on the old violin.

The auctioneer asked again, now lowering his expectation for the opening bid, “Who will give me $50 for this violin?”

As the crowd was quiet, an old man comes from the back of the room. He quietly asks the auctioneer for the dusty, old violin. As the old man tinkers with the violin, the crowd begins to wonder about what is going on. Soon, the old man starts to play that dusty, old violin. He plays the most wonderful piece of music that you ever did hear.

The auctioneer begins the bidding, for a 3rd time, on that dusty, old violin: “Who will give me $1,000 for this violin?” And the bidding takes off! Soon the bidding is up to $10,000!

When asked later why the change in price for the violin, the auctioneer said, “Only in the master’s hand does one’s value truly show.”

We see that is how it is with us. When we are in the hands of the master, which is in God’s hands, our value truly shows. As we think about the Trinity, we see how God works in our lives. God is the master creator. He makes and remakes this world so that his holy ways can be lived. God the Son is the one whom we follow in order to be holy. Jesus shows us how to live, die, and live again. The Spirit of God is the power that is at work in our lives. He reminds us all that Jesus taught.

A. God is the master creator (Genesis 1:1-2:4)
+++1. God was there before the beginning of our planet (1:1)
+++2. It took him six days/generations to create all that we see (2:4)
++===+a. Did he create by evolution?
+++===b. Did God create by his spoken word only? (He created & made)
+++3. How did God describe what he created?
++===+a. 1st day – He saw that it was good
+===++b. 2nd day – no description of this day’s work
+===++c. 3rd – 6th days – He saw that it was good (1:10, 18, 21, 28)
+++4. God rested on the 7th day – he called it “holy”
+++5. Even God rested. So, when we think that we need to work 7, 14, or 30 days straight through, then what are we saying about God? It is good to rest, for we are not God, and we need rest. But there is another item to ponder here. God hallowed the 7th day. He made it holy. Do we hallow the 7th day of our week? It is when we do not hallow the 7th day that we find we lose out. When we view ourselves greater than God, we make real our need for a savior. For we cannot save ourselves. But God can save us. He sent Jesus just for that task.

B. God the Son is the one whom we follow (Matthew 28:16-20)
+++1. We like to do our own thing – we set ourselves up to be our own god
+++2. Yet God knows we need him – so he sent Jesus
+++3. After Jesus’ resurrection, he tells the disciples to make more disciples!
+++4. By the power of Jesus’ Spirit and his authority, we make disciples
+++5. We follow Jesus right to God. God the Father, the master creator, remakes our lives as we follow Jesus. God uses the church to make more disciples. That’s right, as we follow Jesus; more people begin to follow Jesus. I sure hope that we are teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded. Otherwise, we may not be making disciples of Jesus Christ! How can we focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ?

C. The Spirit of God helps us to make disciples (2 Corinthians 13:11-13)
+++1. How does the Holy Spirit help us to make disciples of Jesus Christ?
++===+a. Encouragement through those who know Jesus (13:11)
++===+b. Acknowledge other believers
+++2. So, we need all of God through all of our days
+++a. Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – we need his forgiveness, every day
+++b. Love of God – he wants us to look like him, & he loves us through the process
+++c. Communion of the Holy Spirit – by recognizing God’s Spirit at work in our lives, we draw closer to God
+++3. The Spirit of God helps us to make disciples. We need God in our lives. As we know God’s work in our lives, then we draw closer to him. We bring more people to God as our lives look like the lives God has for us. It takes the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit for us to be disciples. It takes the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit for us to make disciples.

Maybe we do need to hear that God the Father, the master creator, can remake us into his image. Maybe we do need to hear that Jesus, the Son of God, can lead us to make more disciples. Maybe we do need to hear that the Spirit of God helps us to make disciples.

Who knows, maybe after hearing how God makes us into disciples, we can realize how God is going to make more disciples. It is just that God wants us to be Jesus’ disciples so that He can make more disciples of Jesus Christ.

Pentecost

Acts 2:1-21

Maria and I went on a date. As a gentleman, I let Maria go in front of me. She chose to sit with her back to the windows. Well, that placed me in a seat that faced 3 televisions! I was on the date with Maria, but the televisions stole my attention! Thankfully the evening was saved by my holding Maria’s hand as we walked around downtown!

Our marriage is better when we pay attention to God and to each other. The church is better when we pay attention to God and each other. It was Jesus who reminded the people that His Father`s house needs to be called a house of prayer. When we pray together we stay connected to God. We see what can happen through prayer. The apostles’ being together in prayer led the Holy Spirit filling them on Pentecost.

A. Together in one place and receiving the Holy Spirit (2:1-4)
+++1. It is good to be together
+++2. This sound came from heaven
+++3. The distributed tongues of fire rested on each of the 120
+++4. The Holy Spirit enabled each of the 120 to speak in other dialects
+++5. For after ten days of the apostles praying to God, God moved among them. As we read Acts 1 and 2, we realize the fact of being obedient to Jesus was important. How else do we wait for what is promised? We talk. We speak to one another and to God. These tongues of fire were not only God’s giving of power, but his recognition that the apostles listened to Jesus. The time of waiting had ended. Power had now been given to the apostles. What did the Holy Spirit give them power to do?

B. They were given power to speak of God`s deeds of power (2:5-13)
+++1. Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, is a Jewish celebration at the end of the Feast of Weeks
+++2. The Passover was the annual celebration of God delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt, making Israel God’s people
+++3. Pentecost represented a new crop was available for food, to help Israel live in the Promised Land
+++4. Now, for these apostles Pentecost represents a new crop was available for God’s people to live in a new time
+++5. Jews from the known world were in Jerusalem for Pentecost
+++6. Many dialects were spoken by these Jews
+++7. They are hearing God’s deeds of power from the apostles!
+++8. The people did not know what to make of this scene
+++9. For others sneer – and disrupt us. (2:13)
+++10. People will be confused by what is happening among us
+++11. People will brush aside the power God has given us
+++12. They may even think we have been hitting the bottle too much!
+++13. An explanation will be needed – We go to church because when we are together we are the church, showing our belief in Jesus Christ. God was doing wonders among the apostles. He had brought them together as they followed Jesus. Now the apostles were speaking about God’s activity. As we are gathered together, we also speak about God’s deeds of power. When we go from this place, we get to speak about God’s deeds of power. These deeds of power bring us to God. Many will want to know the meaning of our speaking of God’s deeds of power. But not all will. So Peter has to tell the crowd what is happening.

D. The prophecy from Joel tells what is filling the apostles (2:14-21)
+++1. It was nine o’clock in the morning!
+++2. Instead of new wine, it is God’s Spirit filling the apostles!
++===+i. God said this was going to happen!
++===+ii. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit
++===+iii. Sons & Daughters will get the Holy Spirit inside them
++===+iv. Young & old will get this Holy Spirit so they can see visions & dreams
++===+v. Even slaves, will get God’s Spirit in them
++===+vi. The rest of the prophecy has not happened yet
++===+vii. Till that happens, every person has a chance to call upon the name of the Lord. Then they will be saved!

This being all together in one place is important. For when we are waiting for the Holy Spirit to come to us, we wait together. The Holy Spirit won’t just fill one of us. For us to be church we pursue what God has for us, together. For God to be among us, like at Pentecost, we got to be together. Are we ready to be all together in one place? Are we ready for the Holy Spirit to fill us? Or are we cautious about the Holy Spirit because we don’t want people to sneer at us?

Let’s try being all together in one place. Let’s show up together at this church, praying so that God’s power can fill us. If we need to give and receive forgiveness so we can be all together, then let us give and receive forgiveness. If we need to remember what Jesus has done for us; let us remember what Jesus has done for us. We have to show up to be part of the church.

As we are part of the church, the Holy Spirit fills us. We get to speak about God’s deeds of power. Our young and old will see things from God for the future of this congregation, this church, and this world.

Won’t you be part of the church? Now is the time to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. While the world is in an uproar, we might not get the chance to call upon Jesus. Today, we can call upon Jesus. We can be part of the church today.

Getting to do it all again.

Philippians 3:12-20

I think our graduates might have learned this already. After the completion of every year, we are getting ready to do it all again. Those who farm and garden already know this truth about life. Once we complete a harvest, we are getting ready to do it again.

It is not about the cycle of life. It is not about the tediousness of life. It is about reaching the goal that is set before us. When we graduate high school or college, we set another goal. We continually strive for that goal. When we accomplish that goal, we set another goal. When we bring in a harvest, we set another goal. When we accomplish that harvest goal, then we set another goal.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, we already have a goal. We hope to grow up in Christ. It is in pursuing the completion of this goal that we bring in the harvest. It is while we are growing up in Christ that we are bringing in the sheaves. It is while we are growing up in Christ that we tell people about the work God is done in us.

We bring in the harvest. The heifers and calves are sold at market. The vegetables are canned and frozen. The hay is in storage. We then get ready to do it again. The goal of the farmer and the gardener is to provide for the family. The goal of the disciple is to grow up in Christ.

A. We press on (3:12)
+++1. Paul is saying he has not completely gained Christ
+++2. He has Christ, but is not completely like Christ
+++3. Christ has Paul! Christ has us!
+++4. We are disciples. Jesus did this for us. By faith in Jesus we are saved from our sin. By faith in Jesus we are his disciples. Even though we belong to Jesus, we have yet to fully live like Jesus. So, we press on.

B. Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead (3:13-14)
+++1. Paul has become a Christian, yet he is not completely like Christ yet
+++2. All that he had before, Paul forgets
+++3. He is straining toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus
+++4. God has taken us from our past. In Christ Jesus we have a life that surpasses our old life. By learning to live in Christ Jesus, we see how God is calling us toward himself. What is the goal toward which we are straining forward?

C. Hold fast to what we have obtained (3:15-16)
+++1. We have the same mind as those who are mature
+++2. Christ is mature – look at his mind (2:5-11)
+++===a. Equality with God is not to be exploited
++===+b. Jesus emptied himself, humbling himself
++===+c. Jesus was obedient, even to the point of death on the cross
===+++d. God exalted Jesus (raised him from the dead)
+===++e. Every person will get to bow to Jesus
++===+f. Every person will get to confess Jesus
+++3. We belong to Christ. Let us live in Christ Jesus.
+++4. We empty ourselves, humbling ourselves, so we can be like Christ. Christ is exalted as we mature in obedience to Christ. More people see Jesus as we mature in obedience to Christ. If a farmer or gardener wants to produce another harvest, then they reinvest in their farm/garden. The more they reinvest in the farm, the closer they can get to their goal. Christ’s death produced a harvest of faith. As disciples, our submission to God is Christ reinvesting in the harvest. It takes us disciples holding onto Christ Jesus for the harvest to grow. How are we mature in Christ?

D. Watch who we imitate (3:17-19)
+++1. Be like those who are imitating Christ, like Paul and others
+++2. The enemies of cross of Christ are pursuing their own desires
++===+a. Their Belly – their god!
++===+b. Their glory – their shame
++===+c. Their goal – earthly things
+++3. We are warned. If we go along pursuing our own desires, then we become enemies of the cross of Christ. We will destroy ourselves if we pursue our own desires. How then are we to think and act?

E. Our citizenship is in heaven (3:20-21)
+++1. From heaven, a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to earth!
+++2. We are humiliated in following Christ, he glorifies us in himself
+++3. This happens through the power of his resurrection
+++4. We are disciples of Christ. Christ Jesus lived, died, and rose again so we may live with him for all time. It is our duty to press forward to live like Christ even today.

We bring in the harvest. We then get ready to do it all again. For we want to provide for our family. We bring in the harvest of souls. We then get ready to do it all again. For we want to bring glory to God through Christ Jesus.
We live in Christ. We mature in Christ as we keep the mind that Christ had. We are reinvested in Christ so more people can know the glory of Christ.

We are the church. We have a calling from God to be like Christ. Let us live and die like Christ so another harvest of souls can hear the call from God to be like Christ.