This month at Gateway in Austin, we are walking through a process to become who we are created to be in a series called: “The Dirty Truth.”
Below you will find the following:
- the message I shared at the McNeil campus
- an overview of becoming who we were created to be
- the steps needed to become intentional and overcome temptations
During this series, we are looking at how developing four particular skills can help us to become a fruitful person. These skills are derived from what Jesus shared in the parable of the soils. Today, we are looking at developing the skill of intentionality.
Over the last two weeks we looked at developing the skill of receptivity – the ability to hear God’s voice and discover our calling and developing the skill of tenacity – the ability to endure no matter what trial may come our way.
Which of the soils best describes you? (The words emboldened)
Hardened –> Vulnerable Receptive (Overcoming Silence)
Shallow —-> Deep Tenacious (Overcoming Trials)
Thorny —-> Clear Intentional (Overcoming Temptations)
Desolate —> Fruitful Proactive (Overcoming Rebellion)
We can discover our God-given destiny by developing 4 skills. Becoming who we were created to be means we need to become receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive.
Let’s take a look again at the verses dealing with the 3rd soil in Matthew 13.
7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants…. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful
Do you find yourself at times feeling overwhelmed with life? Feeling choked by the thorns and distractions around you? Are you derailed by anxiety or the pursuit of wealth? Do you get distracted while pursuing good things?
As Rick Shurtz, our Grow Pastor says: “Sometimes we can turn what God intended as a gift to us into our gods.” You meant well at first, but providing for your family has now taken you away from your family?
Or maybe you keep going back to the same struggles over and over? Maybe you are battling a generational sin or addiction that keeps you from making progress?
Maybe you don’t even see how the choices you continue to make have been keeping you from God’s better future for your life.
Unaware of the spiritual battle we face, there are other voices and forces opposing our progress.
What lies shape your life? What limitations have you imposed on your future based on negative input from others? What struggles have been passed down to you from your family tree?
What keeps you from trusting God and following His path for your life?
The third soil describes ground filled with thorns such as worries and the pursuit of wealth. When we develop intentionality, we can overcome the temptations that distract us. We can move from being distracted towards experiencing clarity in our lives. Consumerism, depression, discontent, and a pursuit of pleasure at all costs derail followers of Christ. When we simplify our lives and focus, we thrive in spite of the distractions around us.
Some of us are committed to so many things, we aren’t really committed to anything. We have so many responsibilities at work and at home we don’t take of either well. We are in and out of relationships, in and out of jobs, in and out of churches.
So how can do this? How do we simplify? Is it even possible to clear out a path and make progress?!
The answer quite simply is yes, but it takes effort and intentionality. How do we overcome temptations? Become intentional!
Let me give you an example.
Paul traveled all across the Middle East and what is now Europe reaching out to people and starting churches. He traveled with others. Want to be mentored by Paul, you better pack and be ready to learn while you are “on the go.” As a real gift from God, we have letters this highly effective entrepreneur wrote to his closest companions. You and I can be mentored by Paul reading and applying what we learn from his letters.
Often when one of those he was mentoring was ready, he would leave them in a city with the task of carrying on their work without Paul. In one situation, Paul left Titus in Crete. Titus’ goal was described in Titus 1:5
“The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appointelders in every town, as I directed you.”
Paul goes on to describe elders as spiritual overseers who have integrity, they aren’t corrupt or given to stealing or drunkenness. Instead, they are slow to anger, demonstrate self-control, trustworthy, hospitable. They are faithful to their spouse and they know and live out the truths found in the Scriptures.
Paul points out to Titus that he realizes what a difficult task this is because there weren’t a lot of people in Crete that matched that description. In fact, Paul says in Titus 1:12-13a:
One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”This saying is true.
Even to this day, to refer to someone as a Cretan is not a compliment.
Sounds like a tall task! Titus, I want you to turn Cretans, people who are always liars, evil brutes, and gluttons into spiritual overseers. Titus’ goal was to create a community in which evil people became overseers, a community where unlikeable people became world class leaders.
We see it right here in Scripture: People are invited to come as they are, but they don’t have to stay that way!
So then, what is the process Titus used and Paul used to help people become intentional and make progress in changing their character? They were going to into all sorts of crazy places with very broken people who had no Christian background and even no understanding of a loving and just God.
A pattern emerges throughout Paul’s letters that Titus employed and we can implement. It’s a process right there in the Scriptures that has been passed down from generation to generation. My life was completely transformed by applying these principles to my life.
So, here’s the quick overview.
Take off the old: Put on the new:
Take every thought captive. Renew your mind.
Eliminate bad habits. Start good habits.
Surrender all of your past, present, future, all of your shame, pain, regrets, accomplishments, passions, dreams to Jesus and let Him help you become who you deeply long to become.
You cannot do this on your own. We become the best version of ourselves in the midst of community and support. Networks, life groups, Restore, serving with KidsQuest, Guest Services, and so on are just a few of the options here at Gateway.
· Live.gatewaychurch.com for Q&A after service & on Coffee Talk (Wed. at 10am)
· “A Process to Create a Better Future Today” at www.ericbryant.org
· Find a place to serve.
Are you willing to ask God for help, forgiveness, and guidance on how to move forward no matter what you may be facing?
How does God want you to “take off the old” so you can “put on the new”?
From what does He want to free you?