Mat 5:43-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
More is expected of the Christian than people in the world. We’re to do better. Aren’t we new creatures?
Rom 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Righteousness and the super-religious Pharisees, their righteousness was not acceptable to Jesus. Too many are satisfied with mediocrity.
Average people are loved and favored and chosen by God. You do not have to earn your salvation. The Bible is absolutely justified by faith and by faith alone. Our efforts will never open the gates of heaven. We don’t earn God’s love. We must simply trust God. We need to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name and receive God’s Spirit, but in order for it to save us, we’ve got to have faith.
If we have it coupled with Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is no other possibility for salvation. Jesus did it all. There is nothing left for us to do to pay for our salvation. Thank God for His forgiveness. He takes us and saves us. We don’t have to be qualified for salvation. Jesus did it all. He reaches for us and pulls us out of the pit we were in.
There is something we’ve lost today. We’re not saved by anything of our own doing, but the emphasis on that has become ‘we don’t have to earn our salvation, so we don’t have to do anything.’
What about ‘faith without works is dead?’
We can’t continue an ungodly lifestyle because our faith does not justify this.
It’s not about do’s and don’t’s, but there is a portion of our lives that we must get ahold of today. There must be something recognizably different about you. There must be a difference between Christians who are serving the Lord and everybody else.
It’s not just the smile on your face, because drunk people smile.
Our works aren’t done in order to be saved, it’s because we’re saved that we do works.
If we’re alive in Christ, that will be evidenced by the life we live. We are to do some stuff. A true Christian will be a contrast to the rest of humanity so much so that the world stops in its tracks and takes notice.
What do you more than others?
Does anybody know that you love Jesus? That you follow Him? That He is your God?
Have you ever put salt on meat? You can taste it. Are you tasty? Do you change the atmosphere wherever you go?
We are called to turn the world upside down, not in a way that is ungodly, but in a way that shows Jesus. Know Him and Make Him Known!
Early Christians didn’t turn the world upside down by innovation and invention. It was their lives and their lips. They said some things and did some things that showed they had been with Jesus. They were real Christians.
A ‘freak’ is different from everything else. ‘Jesus Freak’ isn’t an insult. Having your name associated with Jesus is a great thing.
Would you rather be known by men or the spirit realm? Would you like to be feared by men or by hell?
Our lives are deficient in daily prayer and holiness. We’ve compromised. We are not opposed to technology, but we are not to lean on that instead of Jesus.
Jesus got in the faces of His disciples and challenged them. It wasn’t about talking right and dressing right, it was about being like Jesus.
What do you more than others?
It’s not just about what you don’t do, it’s about what you are doing.
Jesus said to turn the other cheek. Do you know what that means? That means allowing people to hit you recognizing that this person is hurting. It’s about allowing Jesus to change your thinking. Go the extra mile because you’re being like Jesus. Don’t just do what’s obligated. Go the second mile. The second mile is voluntary. You go beyond what’s expected or demanded.
James said you would hear the Word, but don’t stop there. If you just hear, it’s worthless.
There are three kinds of people in church, spectators (watchers), anticipators (expecting something to happen), and the participators: ‘I am the Church and I take the Church with me everywhere I go.’
You can make the difference wherever you are and cause life because Jesus is IN you.
Love the change, even when it hurts because you’ll become more like Jesus. It’s worth it.
You owe a debt you can never repay.
The church is full of people willing to work and people willing to let other people work. Know that if you are able and capable even when it’s not asked, you can go the extra mile.
You’re either a new convert or a not convert at all if you need help staying saved. Of course, there is a need to ask how a person is doing, but you shouldn’t need help to stay saved.
This year’s theme is ‘Climb.’ James, John, and Peter were called by Jesus to go up a mountain. They left the other disciples and went with Jesus. If you don’t get the mentality to do more, you won’t want to leave the twelve and get closer to Jesus.
Jesus has something for you up top, glory, but it’s harder to breathe up there. You need the right gear and equipment to handle it. However, Jesus has something for you up there. It’s worth the climb.
People are willing to do crazy stuff for their gods. There was a man who stripped off most of his clothes and rolled in white ashes and plastered his head in cow manure all to gain the favor of his god. Another took most of his clothes off and gazed into the sun until his eyes burned out.
Our God tells us to put on clothes.
Jehovah’s witnesses have strong convictions about blood transfusions. Radical Muslims will strap explosives to their bodies. They do this because they’re strong in their convictions.
We live in a society that even though you’ve been born a man, but if you think you’re a woman, you can dress like a woman. When that is challenged, you are branded a ‘nut job.’
Are you afraid of a little persecution when you follow what the Bible says?
2 Tim 3:12 “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Michael Jordan did more than the other guys on the court. How did he get to that level? He put more effort and passion and more than the norm into his game.
What do you more than others?
Ruth did more. She was married to a backslider who died. Her mother-in-law decided to go back home to Israel. Ruth made up her mind to follow the God her husband talked about but didn’t really follow. Ruth decided to follow that God, and she was put in the lineage of Jesus. Her passion and desire and more than the norm were put into seeking the One True God. He rewarded her with a different life.
It’s not about average. It’s about doing more. It’s not about not killing, it’s about not getting angry. Attitude matters. If you are closer to God, you will feel more spanked because it’s about being like Him. It’s about going all the way.
What do you do more? Let Him be revealed in you and through you. Press in harder. Don’t let others ‘be your Holy Ghost.’ Seek Him yourself. Pray and get to know Him, then make Him known.
Go above your calling. Go beyond your calling. See what the Lord does.
Do this to be called ‘the children of your Father’.
There is a struggle with sins and temptations, but seek God in the struggle and let Him change you. It is so easy to stay in your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Sacrifice. Be self-disciplined. If that’s a struggle, pray, seek Him, don’t give up. It’s possible to praise your way out of depression. Be thankful to God who can change your life in a moment.
Don’t reject God in favor of what you want or what you feel. God knows. He wants you to come to Him and He will bless you beyond what you wish for.
Your body is your instrument. Actors will alter their bodies in order to do a part. In this world, it’s your spirit. What do you more than the athletes and actors for your spirit?
You’ve got to be pure if you want Jesus to work in you and through you. Live higher. Challenge yourself. It’s not about being ‘better than your neighbor.’ It’s about being better than yourself for Jesus.
More Questions for Personal or Group Study:
- When has someone done something for you that really made you feel Jesus’ love?
- What’s the difference between ‘doing enough’ and ‘being enough’? How does Jesus want to change your thinking/understanding (and actions) in this?
- Read Mat 5:14-16. How are you to be a ‘light to the world’? How do your ‘good works’ show Jesus to the world?
- Read Gal 5:22-25. In nature, fruit must be cultivated, proper soil, enough water and light. What do you need to do to further cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in your life? How does that affect your ‘good works’?
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.
If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!