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Pastor Tom's Top Ten Tips for Christians

Luke 10:25-28

Pastor Tom’s Top Ten Tips for Christians – Luke 10:27

In the nearly 18 years that I’ve pastored Calvary Chapel Newberg I have given well over a thousand teachings. The Word of God has indeed gone out from this little church into the world. In that time, the study notes on the teachings I’ve done have been read over 2.8 million times. I got curious about what folks read, listened to, or watched the most. I was pleased to discover that out of the over 3 million downloads from our website, the most popular is Why the Cross Matters out of Luke 23 (which just since October 30, 2016 has been downloaded over 76,000 times). As we have journeyed verse by verse through God’s Word, some themes have jumped out to me that I decided to put down in a sort-of Top Ten list as my final teaching at Calvary Newberg.

You can think of these as ten things I wish every Christian knew and practiced. If followed, they can revolutionize your experience with the Lord and your effectiveness for Him. But a warning: taking these things seriously will seriously disrupt your life but will result in a goodness and peace that will blow you away and make you resilient. Jesus did not tip-toe onto the scene with the Golden Suggestion. He came to disrupt not only the status-quo of society, but the status-quo of those that follow Him.

Before we get to the Top Ten I also want to give this caveat: These are meant for Christians. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then I suggest that you consider this Top Ten list:

These are my Top Ten Tips for pre-Christians:

  1. God is holy—absolutely pure and totally good. (Leviticus 19:2)
  2. We are not holy, or pure, or good. (Psalm 14:2-3)
  3. An unholy human cannot exist in the presence of a holy God. (Exodus 33:20)
  4. God is going to destroy the current universe and create a new one where only the holy can exist. (Revelation 20:11)
  5. To be a part of that new creation you must be as holy as God. (Revelation 21:27)
  6. The only way to bridge that gap is to pay the penalty for your sin. (Revelation 20:12-15)
  7. You can’t do that yourself. (Isaiah 59:2, 64:6)
  8. But Jesus paid it for you on the cross. (Isaiah 53:5)
  9. All you need to do is acknowledge your sin, repent of it, and accept Jesus’ sacrifice and lordship of your life. (Romans 10:9)
  10. Then you will go to heaven and live in joy for all of eternity. (John 14:2-3)

Okay. Now for Pastor Tom’s Top Ten Tips for Christians:

Before I launch into my list, realize that they can really be whittled down to just two: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” Sound familiar? It’s Luke 10:27 where Jesus summed up what it meant to be like God.

  1. Repulse Pride

Your greatest enemy is not Satan but the same sin that tripped Satan up: pride. What is pride? Paul defined it in this way in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit...”

Selfish ambition means I’m going to get what I want no matter who I hurt in the process. Vain conceit means I have an unrealistically high view of myself.

Lucifer declared, “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:4). This is both vain conceit and selfish ambition at its highest.

Paul said in Romans 12:3 “I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.”

Thinking sensibly means you do a regular realistic self-assessment. It means seeing where you measure up to God’s character and where you are lacking. It doesn’t mean you become boastful or earn your salvation, but where you are in the transformation process through the Holy Spirit.

We need to know that pride will always try to reassert itself as long as we are in these bodies. So instead, combat pride by the next item on the list:

  1. Embrace Humility
  1. You are far more sinful than you know
  1. God is far purer than you can imagine

This should lead us to humility, which we should embrace. It doesn’t mean we can’t boast, but boasting of the right things is key. I love how Jeremiah 9:23 puts it:

The wise man must?not?boast in?his?wisdom; the strong man must?not?boast in?his?strength; the wealthy man must?not?boast in?his?wealth. 24But the one who?boasts should?boast in?this, that he understands and?knows?Me — that I am Yahweh, showing?faithful?love, justice, and righteousness on?the?earth,

for I delight in?these?things.”

Being humble means you know your frame, that you are but dust (Psalm 103:14), that you are always submitted to God, boasting that you know Him (sharing the gospel) and waiting on the Lord to use you as He sees fit with His strength. It isn’t self-flagellation either. It’s an honest appraisal of who you are and a constant dependence on God. Romans 7 is a good treatise on why we need to continually embrace humility.

  1. Lean into trials, don’t run from them</strong></li> </ol> <p>Our natural tendency is to run from pain. You pull back when you touch a hot pan on the stove, right? When it comes to trials, the opposite should be true. Not that we should ask for difficulties – but Jesus told us they will be a reality (John 16:33) but that we can be of good cheer about them because He is in control.</p> <p>James said: 1:2-4 (HCSB) <em>2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. </em></p> <p>James reveals that there is a process of good that takes place when we face trials, and are forced to work on trusting God through them. Jesus said that we are all going to undergo a pruning process to produce fruit in our lives -- the character of God (John 15:1-4).</p> <p>Pruning = growth = goodness</p> <ol start="7"></strong></li> <li><strong> Fight Inertia </strong></li> </ol> <p>The law of inertia says that an object will remain at rest or move at a constant speed in a straight line unless it is acted on by an unbalanced force. Lives have an inertia to them. We are set on a trajectory based on our past, our values, our failures, and our influences. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just coming into relationship with Jesus means you are now perfect. There is a future you that has been glorified (Romans 8:30) but in your present state there are competing trajectories of inertia operating. The sin inertia takes you one way and unless acted on by the Holy Spirit force, you will continue on the same path you’ve been on.</p> <p>That’s where Philippians 2:12 comes into play. “Work out your own salvation” means to put a great deal of energy into knowing the character of God by studying His Word, analyzing your thoughts, motives, words and deeds, being keenly aware of those things that run counter and submitting them to God.</p> <ol start="6"></strong></li> <li><strong> Worship Often and Deeply</strong></li> </ol> <p>As many of you know, our ministry as a couple started together in worship and we’ve led worship together since 1978. Worship has been one of the three main tenants of Calvary Chapel Newberg. We consider worship to be musical prayers to God. It is an offering of praise (Hebrews 13:15), a way of communing with God, and a way of refocusing our lives.</p> <p>Worship isn’t just singing songs. It is praying, it is coming into God’s presence:</p> <p>Psalm 95:2 <em>Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!</em></p> <p>Psalm 100:4 <em>Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.</em></p> <p>My encouragement is to start your day with praise and worship and let it take you, affect you, move you.</p> <ol start="5"></strong></li> <li><strong> Fall in love with Jesus and His Word on a regular basis</strong></li> </ol> <p>Studying God’s Word is the second of our three pillars of ministry here. Right after I accepted Jesus as my Lord, I got a thirst for His Word—a thirst that has never slacked. Through His Word I have fallen in love with God’s Son Yeshua. Read Psalm 119 for a taste of how David loved God’s Word.</p> <p>Revelation 2:4 encourages the church at Ephesus to get back to their first love with Jesus. The most important thing you can do is to fall in love with Him, or fall in love with Him again.</p> <p>I love what Pastor Chuck Smith said many times: “Fall in love with Jesus and He’ll take care of the rest.”</p> <ol start="4"></strong></li> <li><strong> Trust yourself less, trust God more</strong></li> </ol> <p>We as humans are easily persuaded by our emotions, our past, and our environment (remember Tip #7?). I would suggest that you should suspect your motives before acting on them. More often than not, you will not have an accurate picture of what is really going on.</p> <p>In Mark 5 there is the story of Jesus meeting Jairus, the synagogue ruler whose only daughter was dying. As Jesus went with him He stopped because of the woman with the issue of blood. By the time they got going again the man’s friends came and said “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” Jesus turned to him and said: “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.”</p> <p>This to me is emblematic of this idea of trusting in the plan and goodness of God despite the circumstances screaming at you to panic.</p> <ol start="3"></strong></li> <li><strong> Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19)</strong></li> </ol> <ul> <li>Listen with an ear to find out how you can help encourage one another’s walk with Christ. Otherwise, mind your own business and your own walk</li> <li>Don’t open your mouth if you are triggered and only if you can encourage someone to grow in Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:11)</li> <li>Anger does nothing to help God’s kingdom (James 1:20 - except on VERY rare occasions)</li> </ul> <ol start="2">
  2. Love others selflessly

If you have been around the fellowship for any length of time you’ve heard me talk about agape love: “self-sacrificing, other-centered affection”. It is at the heart of who God is (“God is love” 1 John 4:8). It is also the antidote to pride and selfish ambition.

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

  1. Pray more (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Prayer is God’s long range artillery.

Prayer is more about changing you than changing the situation

Prayer encourages an ongoing dialogue and keeps your head “in the game”

When you beginning to slip in your relationship with God, prayer is often the first things to go.

So there you have it:

  • Repulse pride
  • Embrace humility
  • Lean into trials
  • Fight inertia
  • Worship often
  • Fall in love with Jesus and His Word
  • Trust yourself less and God more
  • Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger
  • Love others unselfishly
  • And pray more

So what happens to me? The teachings, notes, and audio and videos will remain on our site, CalvaryNewberg.org as a legacy that you can use as a resource if you wish. Also, occasionally I will share my thoughts on God’s Word at my blog site: www.TomFuller.net. Feel free to visit there as well.

It has been a sincere blessing to offer my service to you over these 18 years and I look forward to seeing what God has in store for you and for this fellowship!

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