In this sermon, part of a series on “Whatever You Do,” Pastor Neil admonishes us– there are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity and a God-exalting life. Here are some excerpts:
… There is no shortcut to peace with God or peace with others. If you want the peace of Christ to govern your relationships, there are no shortcuts. If you are committed to peace in the body of Christ, it takes work. It takes effort, vigilance. It requires making sure you clothe yourself in the spiritual wardrobe of a Christian character. You must take off and get rid of the kinds of things that destroy unity – things like ungodly anger, rage, malice, slander, gossip, lying, bitterness, envy, covetousness, resentment, grudges, impatience, unforgiveness, greed, lustful desires, pride, and selfishness in every size and shape. Maybe you don’t struggle with any of these things; praise God! More likely, you do, with at least a few of them, maybe more.
If you are in Christ, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, you are a new creation. You are a new person in and through the power of Christ. But the old sinful nature doesn’t give up easily. You may have to be on guard or wrestle against certain characteristics of your old sinful nature for years. Or as long as you live.
There are no shortcuts to sanctification, this ongoing process by which we are being renewed, refined, and conformed to the character of our Savior. It requires vigilance, a daily putting off of anything and everything that is displeasing to God, and a daily dependence on the Holy Spirit to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit.
There are no shortcuts to the kind of life and relationships God desires for us. As we saw last Sunday, Paul says in Romans 14 that we must “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (14:19). He says in Ephesians 4:3 that we must “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” A continuous effort to treat every member of the body with love, care, prayer, dignity, and respect is necessary for the health and well-being of the body of Christ. Relationships take work, even in the age of coronavirus. Maybe especially in the age of coronavirus. There are no shortcuts. Take it from me: If you insist on finding a shortcut where there is none, you will crash and burn. You will hurt yourself, hurt others. and hurt the church.
You must daily decide to let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. If the peace of Christ is to rule in your heart, then Christ Himself must rule in your heart. Unless Jesus is at the center of your life, unless He is seated as Sovereign on the throne in your heart, unless He is in the driver’s seat of the car, truck, minivan, SUV, or whatever you imagine to be the vehicle of your life, you will not have His peace. You may feel His peace momentarily, but you will not have His peace consistently. If you want the peace of Christ to rule in your heart and relationships, then Christ Himself must rule in your heart…
There are no shortcuts to authentic worship. There is more to worship than singing. Much more. I wish we could sing freely and loudly together in our Worship services at church. We can’t right now. I hope we will be able to do so soon. But even if we can’t sing here at church, we can still worship God with heart and soul and mind and strength. We can still sing at home, in our cars, outdoors, or in private… If you can listen to “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” on your favorite electronic device (and maybe even sing along), go for it. Make worship part of the routine of your daily life.
As God speaks to you from His Word, as He blesses and encourages you as you take time for His Word, for prayer and worship, share the blessings and lessons He is teaching you with one another.
There are no shortcuts. It takes focus, discipline, time, and humility. It takes a heart for God.
Pastor Neil has much more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.