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Today, June 4, Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series on Holiness, using the text 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.

He began with a visual illustration of two aspects of the meaning of holiness.

The first meaning is "separate, other, set apart, completely unique."

Another concept tied with holiness is pure, absolute perfection, moral purity.

God fits both aspects.  God is in a completely different category from everything else that exists.  And God is good.

The Shocker:  God intends for us to be holy as well.  (2 Timothy 1:9 - God saved us and called us to a holy life.)

What motivates us to be holy?  We looked at 3 "Don't Miss This" Principles:

1)  Our holiness is motivated by what God offers us.

7:1 - "because of God's promises."  We do want what's best for us in the long run.  God designed us such that our desires are met in Him.  He offers holiness - and true happiness.

God offers us an intimate connection with Him.  That offer is NOT conditional, but it is consequential.  As a consequence of being holy, God's blessing moves in and through us.

In our desire for happiness, we often chase short-term solutions.

C. S. Lewis:  Our desires aren't strong enough.  God offers infinite joy.  "We are far too easily pleased."  Our problem isn't that we want to be happy.  It's that we settle for short-term solutions.

2)  Our holiness is also motivated by our reverence for God.

We forget how awesome God is.  We have a casual understanding of what God expects of us.

We live thinking that if we're generally kind, God will provide therapeutic benefits.  We treat God like a vending machine, or a kind grandfather, or a really great counsellor.  These don't go far enough.

When we see God for what He really is, we are filled with awe.

What is NOT a motivation for holiness:  Guilt!

This isn't about a list of Do's and Don't's.  Guilt isn't sufficient motivation.

3)  We grow in holiness through discipline and effort.

If we're standing still, we're losing ground.

Let's be clear:  Holiness is work that God does in our lives.

But:  We aren't robots and God won't force it on us.  We must pursue it.  "Let us purify ourselves."

We also looked at 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being equally yoked.  Don't put ourselves in a close connection with someone who's not pulling in the same direction as we are.

[Ed did point out that Paul is the same person who wrote that Christians shouldn't leave a marriage with an unbeliever.  But here he's suggesting it's not a good idea to start one that way.]

Why not form a relationship where we're not heading in the same direction?  Because we're holy.  It's who we are. 

Pursuing anything else is against God and His purposes.

If we pursue holiness, our lives will become more gracious and more like God.

Pursuing the opposite makes us more and more self-centered.

Do what you must to purify yourself.

Lord, make our desires LARGE!  Show us what You are offering!  We will stop settling for less.


Count Me In: Fully Engaged

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Last Sunday, May 28, Associate Pastor Alex York brought the message, continuing the series "Count Me In!"  He preached out of Nehemiah 3:1-9.

Our health as a church hinges on whether we are all-in.  Let's not blow this amazing opportunity God has set before us!

In Nehemiah, they're rebuilding the wall, starting from the northernmost gate.

What does it look like when God's people are fully engaged?

1)  All kinds of people do all kinds of work.

Many different individuals and groups mentioned, tackling different tasks.  Some don't even live in the city, but have come to help.  Even Nehemiah, a high official, helped.  The work was broken into manageable chunks.

2)  The spiritual leaders set the pace.

The priests started it!  Jesus taught that leaders are servants.

3)  The work is dedicated to the Lord.

God takes what's broken and puts it back together again.  Col. 3:23 - No matter what we're doing, do it with our whole hearts, for the Lord.  If our work is dedicated to the Lord, it changes our hearts.  It's a privilege to serve.

4)  Some choose not to work.

The nobles from Tekoa didn't participate.  God often calls people to do things they think they can't do.  It's not about comfort.  God invites us into his magnificent work.

5)  Some go above and beyond.

Some did more than one part - like the common people of Tekoa.  Philippians 2 - this is the attitude Jesus demonstrated.  When we shoulder a bigger portion of the load, we're demonstrating Jesus' character.

6)  Nehemiah takes names.

Nehemiah took the time to write the names of those who participated.  This was about individuals who chose to obey God.

What if God is writing about Gateway?

These people are heroes because they simply did the work.

He closed by asking us to pray about how God wants us to minister to others.


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