Summary: The Only day to get our hearts—and lives—right with God is Today. A continuation of how to approach discipleship and transformation according to Dallas Willards VIM: Vision, Intent, Means. This sermon focuses on our Intent to change


How Christ Can be Formed in Us—How we can grow in Christ (Dallas Willard, p. 85ff)

VIM—Vision, Intention, Means

Vision: Vision of the Kingdom. Have a mind and heart that have a picture and clear understanding of what it means to be a member of God’s Kingdom. Focusing on God’s Kingdom at work, and its effects on us (like Matthew 5, 6, 7)

1. How much time do you spend on the kingdom of God?

2. Do you fix your gaze on things above?

3. Are you motivated by how life with God can be different?

4. Are you tired of doing things your way—at least the outcome that it brings, and want God to rule in you?

5. Are you encouraged that “the Kingdom has come” as Jesus said, and that it is “in your hearts?”

It is about knowing who we are in Christ, about believing and seeing that he is doing something new in us, and what that is: a person who is patient, who is a forgiver and not a bitter hanger on of wrongs past, in control of our daily activities, led by the Spirit, sharers in the good news of salvation in Jesus, both here and now. Etc.

Intention: Having a great picture of who we are—and can be—in Christ is fine, but it is worthless unless we actually plan to do something about it. We have to intend to go after that life, and actually make a decision, to be different, to live differently. Otherwise, we can be fairly labeled: an impractical dreamer (at best) or a pretend Christian (at worst).

Means: But ultimately the intention and decision actually have to have a credible means to bring about transformation. There has to be a way to actually DO what you intend. You won’t get to some warm vacation spot in the middle of January just by dreaming about it and deciding you are going to go there. Let’s be more specific: say you decide to drive there: you need a car, gas, map/GPS, license, provisions, etc. These are the means. We have means at our disposal to be formed in Christ: prayer, HS, Bible, solitude, service, etc.

VIM—mnemonic device. “cute” “is it biblical?” “i never learned about this in SS”

All three parts can be demonstrated to have their roots in scripture. You might find that you would come up with a different acronym like “WHIM” or “SPAM” or “FAHRVERGUEGEN” and when you do, I invite you to preach your own sermon.

Last week we considered that Jesus declared that the kingdom had come, that it was “among us,” and that life in the kingdom was a life with God in charge, who leads us to live a fulfilling—though not easy—life, and we find us living in the way in which God originally designed us: we actually “work better” and are more fulfilled living his way.

Today we are going to focus on the second letter, the “I”. Intend.

Do we really intend to be different? To live a life with God? To enjoy his blessings?

The writer to the Hebrews was concerned that his recipients were in danger of misunderstanding or giving up on how awesome Jesus and his salvation for us who believe was. They might be tempted to return to their old religion of sacrifices, temple worship, and all.

Greater than the angels. Greater than Moses—all kind of “foreign” to us but not them

 Oprah, Dr. Laura, yes, bigger even than golden microphone at the EIB INSTITUTE for advanced . . . ,

His message was one that is actually timely for the New Year:

 thinking about change

 have we given up already?

 Wait until next year to try again?

 How DO we get it right with God and WHEN?

Read: Hebrews 3:7-13

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

8 do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion,

during the time of testing in the desert,

9 where your fathers tested and tried me

and for forty years saw what I did.

10 That is why I was angry with that generation,

and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,

and they have not known my ways.’

11 So I declared on oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

Thesis: The Only day to get our hearts—and lives—right with God is Today.

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