By Brandon Lemons
There was such a strong, positive response to Sunday’s sermon that this “Digging Deeper” will focus on the Gospel truths I shared during the sermon’s conclusion. I received many requests for a written copy of these Gospel truths.
The sermon was based on Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, which illustrates how meaningless religion is when a person just goes through the motions. God wants us to listen to Him and to “fear” Him (in terms of revering Him, standing in awe of Him, being devoted to Him, and trusting Him above all else). As Eugene Peterson wrote: “God is speaking and must be listened to. But what good is a speaking God without listening ears?” It’s important to listen to God and apply His Word to our lives. Otherwise, we are just going through the motions in our spiritual lives, which doesn’t fulfill us or honor God.
As we listen to God, we can hear Him speaking a different message to us than the world speaks. The world tells us we need to perform. Be popular. Be a success. But the Gospel tells us a different story, if only we will listen and apply it.
Here are the truths about the Gospel that I read on Sunday, along with several I didn’t read for sake of time and focus. They are adapted with permission from Pastor John Lynch. I originally heard him read a version of these Gospel truths at a conference many years ago, and they impacted me just like I know they are impacting many of you.
If I know I have worth because of God’s choice of fully loving me…Then I don’t have to manufacture a reason to be loved...I can, instead, love others and offer them affirmation and attention. (Ephesians 1:3-14)
If I know my acceptance by God is irrevocable...Then I don’t have to gossip about others to tear them down and bring myself up....I can, instead, protect their heart and build them up. (Romans 8:38-39)
If I know I’m loved by God only because of His good pleasure...Then I don’t have to compete with others in child-raising, money, godliness, home decorating, accolades, or friends...I can, instead, work for others’ success and see their success as mine also. (John 1:12-13)
If I know I’m rich in God already in everything that matters…Then I don’t have to prove my wealth in money, status, looks, career, competence, notoriety, and talent...I can, instead, use my time to pay attention to others’ needs. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
If I know that I’ll be taken care of by God’s sovereign protection...Then I don’t have to preoccupy myself, scheming and pressuring myself to getting ahead and doing things to get noticed...I can, instead, look around and see who is hurting. (Romans 8:28)
If I know that God is already pleased with me in Christ...Then I don’t have to busy myself with proving my worth...I can rest, relax, play and give my full attention to others, and at the end of the day, I can smile and sleep well. (Romans 8:1-2)
If I know that God’s definition of success is not the same as the world’s…Then I don’t have to make “success” my driving passion...I can, instead, let character, integrity, faithfulness, and love be my drive. (1 Samuel 16:7)
If I know God is in control of my moment-to-moment needs…Then I don’t have to control others...I can, instead, free them by my trust of them. (Matthew 6:25-34)
If I know God isn’t judging me by a standard of who is the best leader, or who has the most authority…Then I don’t have to worry about positioning myself...I can, instead, submit to others’ strengths and protect their weaknesses. (1 Corinthians 1:26-2:5)
If I know God is for me…Then I don’t have to prove myself by my righteousness...I can listen to others’ hearts to teach mine. (Romans 8:31)
If I know God is always gracious toward me…Then I don’t have to be gruff, demanding, intolerant, judging...I can then offer grace, mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance to you. (Psalm 103:8)
If I know that I am a new creature, crucified with Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, forgiven completely, justified, redeemed and sanctified, with Jesus and His intimate love present every single moment…Then I no longer have to beat myself up, mistrust myself, pretend I can’t please God, or pretend I can’t live for Him...I can then start to experience and enjoy my sweet Savior every single day of my life. (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on a couple of questions based on these Gospel truths. As you reflect on these questions, you might find it helpful to write out your thoughts and responses. It’s important to take your time and be honest. Also, it would be good to talk with God about your responses.
How do the Gospel truths listed above differ from how the world says we should live and what the world says about us?
Which of the above Gospel truths particularly speaks to my heart today? Why?
If the topics and questions during the Ecclesiastes series are troubling for you, you’re not alone! We are diving into some difficult emotional and spiritual territory. In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to discover the meaning God has for our lives; however, if at any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed over these topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another staff member.