Summary: “Four Principles that Will Change Your Life”

“Four Principles that Will Change Your Life”

March 15, 2009

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If any of you think you are something when you are nothing, you deceive yourselves. Each of you should test your own actions. Then you can take pride in yourself, without comparing yourself to somebody else, for each of you should carry your own load. Nevertheless, those who receive instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:1-10

Today is a very special day to me. It is my mom’s birthday. She is 81 years young today. I’m not going to say something corny like “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Mom!” Oh, I guess I just did – but it’s true - Both physically and spiritually. Mom was the one who made us go to church growing up and attempted to have devotions with us disinterested teens. She was the one who prayed for us – and when I was tired of life and wanted to give up – she pointed me to the Scripture and Jesus. She loved me when no one else did. She believed in me when no one else did. She is my example of a true Christ-like Christian. Mom, Happy Birthday! I love you!

I wish all of you could have had a tender, loving, Christ-like mom like me. There are a few people in our life that make such a great difference in who is we are. Encouragement, support, love – they change our life with it. And there are a few Scriptures that change our lives, too. Galatians 6 is one for me.

Way back in the mid 70’s I took my first church. I had graduated from bible college; took a few more classes at Point Loma Nazarene College, and was called to a little church in the San Francisco Bay area. In San Diego they made me president of the Young Adult Class. It was made up of young marred couples who were mostly attending college. They were a joy to work with. There were about 20 or 30 of the most wonderful people who were so supportive and cooperative. I still keep in contact with some of them today. Anything I wanted to do – start a bible study? They were right there. Have a party? They were with me.

I thought that was how it was suppose to be. Then I got my first church. It wasn’t that way at all. Some of them didn’t really want to do anything. Some were so loving and supportive and God changed some lives during that time of ministry. But for the most part I felt so let down. One charter member family stopped tithing to try to control my ministry. God, in his humor, gave us the most success year financial in the history of the church. A few became very critical – and my preaching became harsh and aimed at straightening them out. When I look back I feel badly for not ministering to those wanting to be ministered to. Some needed love and encouragement – not rebuke and chastisement. In my inexperience I failed them.

But I prayed. I asked God to change hearts. He didn’t. He only changes those willing to be changed. But through that experience God brought me to the first principle in our Scripture. Let’s read it again.

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

1. Gently restore those in error.

It is important to realize that when one of our brothers or sisters is caught up in a sin or a fault – we have an obligation; we have a duty; we have a responsibility to go to that one and try to restore them. Sometimes just a word can turn someone’s life around. Often silence is perceived as permission – or acceptance. So we need to help each other here. But there are three conditions. First, you don’t really want to do this. If you WANT to correct someone – you probably shouldn’t. If you are chomping at the bit to straighten someone out – you probably are doing it in the flesh and not the Spirit. But if you see a fault or a sin and the Holy Spirit reveals to you that it is your duty to correct that person – they you must do it.

The second condition is that you do it gently. The King James Bible says ‘in a spirit of meekness’. If you go in self-righteous and holier-than-thou – YOU are the one in sin and someone needs to correct YOU! The attitude needs to be meek and gentle and kind and loving.

The third condition is that you consider yourself. Jesus pointed out that some people had a huge beam in their eye while getting on someone with a little speck in their eye. We need to understand that we have faults and flaws in our lives, too. The person we are correcting could turn around and point out our errors, too. That shouldn’t stop us – but it should motivate us to go with the right attitude. Even if we don’t have that sin in our life that we are correcting in our brother – Satan likes nothing better than to tempt us in the same way and make us hypocrites. We need to correct each other, but please do a spiritual inventory first – then go in love and gently correct.

I don’t mind if someone corrects me gently. I am more apt to respond to it. But if someone comes on too strong, too self-righteously, I don’t know about you – but it DE-motivates me. I dig in my heels. So do most people. Be gentle. Dale Carnige, in his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, says, “Never Criticize, complain or condemn about someone you are trying to influence”. They simply won’t listen if you do. You are just wasting your time.

The third principle in our Scripture, Bear one another’s burden, reminds me of when I was young. I remember talking to my new girl friend about the perfect life. I said my dream would be to have a beautiful range up in the mountains of Montana somewhere. It would have creeks and ponds and lots of deer and elk running around. It would be far away from people and you wouldn’t be able to drive in to it. You would have to hike or ride a horse.

I was expecting a “Oh, what a lovely dream! What a wonderful life that would be to share with you!” If you know my old girl friend, who is now my wife of 36 years, you know she is nothing but honest. She said, “Oh my goodness! What a SELFISH life!”

See, I had been hurt by people. I didn’t like people. I wanted to be as far away from them as I could. But that IS selfish thinking. Our Scripture says:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

We are not “Lone Ranger” Christians. We have a duty and a command to be involved in other people’s lives. Our flesh cries out, “I have enough to do without someone else’s problems!” But God calls us to live a sacrificial life and to be involved in helping others. We are to bear each other’s burdens. We are to help one another.

Let me ask you, when’s the last time you had coffee with someone to talk about their burden? When have you gone over to lift a brother or sister up? Every Christian needs to be involved in helping others. It’s a command.

The third principle that changed my life in this Scripture is this: You Reap what you Sow.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

We reap what we sow. What we give out – we get back. Don’t think you can be unkind or cranky or mean or harsh – and not have it come back to you. Don’t think you can be stingy and selfish and God will be generous and rewarding to you. We reap what we sow. The seed we plant grows up into a tree that produces fruit.

Mike Murdock notes this from his book “Leadership Secrets of Jesus”. He says, “Everything begins with a seed to sow! Someone plants a small acorn. It becomes the mighty oak tree. A small kernel of corn is planted. It produces two cornstalks. Each stalk produces two ears of corn. Each ear of corn contains over seven hundred kernels of corn. From that one small kernel of corn, (a seed), 2,800 more kernels are created.

Look at seed as anything that can multiply and become more. Love is a seed. Money is a seed. Everything you possess can be planted back into the world as a seed. Your harvest is anything God gives back that benefits you, joy…peace of mind…a friend…finances. Sowing a seed of faith simply means to give something, having faith God will honor His Word and give you a harvest of what you have given to Him.

Sowing a seed in faith is using what you have been given to obtain what God has promised. Jesus taught that giving was the beginning of blessings.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again”

(Luke 6:38).

“Giving is the only proof that you have conquered greed.” “Everything you have, came from God. Everything you will receive in your future will come from God. He is your total source for everything in your life. Never forget this.” “The secret of your future is determined by the seeds you sow today.” “When you let go of what is in your hand, God will let go of what is in His hand for you.”

People’s lives are pretty much a result of the seed they sow. Sow a seed of kindness – and reap a harvest of the same. Reap bitterness, negativity, selfishness – and your life will reflect that seed you planted. You determine if your life will be happy or sad. Your life is a reflection of the seed you plant.

The most important principle in our Scripture, number four, at least to me, was this one: “Don’t Give up”!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Ever get tired of doing good? I do. I have many times. Usually it has been when I am physically and emotionally drained. I want to quit. I want to give up. I want to go where the pastures are green and the fields are ready to harvest. One reason I don’t is because an old professor in college told me “never make any major decisions on Monday.” Someone else said, “Jesus was in the tomb three days. Things looked pretty dark for three days – but it all changed around on the third day. Take three days to make important decisions. What may look impossible on Friday may look magnificent on Sunday.”

Calvin Coolidge once said…

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful

men with great talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated misfits.

Persistence and determination alone are supreme

Have you heard about the Chinese Bamboo tree? Chinese plant the seed. They water it and fertilize it for an entire year. Nothing happens. They water it and fertilize it for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year. Nothing happens. Then in the fifth year, within 6 weeks…the bamboo tree grows from a seed to a tree over ninety feet tall. It’s amazing. Before that sensational growth took place, the root work foundation had to be in place. The work of God is just like that. A professor at Point Loma used to say, “When nothing is happening – something is happening”.

We don’t know what ground work the Lord is doing in our lives and in our church. It may be that one year we will suddenly explode into growth. So it is always too soon to quit and it is always too soon to stop planting and watering and fertilizing.

It seems like God likes to allow things to get worse before they get better. He lets us get to our lowest point before He comes to our rescue or before He gives growth. Joseph went from prison to the palace overnight. Job when from the garbage dump to his greatest blessings overnight. Israel went from slavery to freedom overnight. It’s always too soon to give up.

I don’t know what you are wrestling with today. I don’t know what giants you face. I don’t know what your future holds – but I know who holds the future. I know God is able. Whatever fears you have; whatever doubts you have; whatever problems you have – would you give them to Jesus today? Remember these four principles. 1. Gently restore those in error. 2. Bear each others burdens. 3. You Reap what you Sow. 4. Don’t Give up

“Seek Ye First”