Grace for Mind & Body – Luke 2
The 2nd message in the Happy New You Series.
If you are like me and most other people, your new year’s resolutions look pretty similar to last years. And the year before.
Even though we’ve made many resolutions, the issue has never been resolved. Even though we’ve committed to do something new, we are stuck with the same old struggles. As we are looking at becoming new, I want us to get a good idea of what areas of Growth we should be looking toward. Hopefully, we will cover areas that you haven’t focused on for growth AND we’ll get some practical God given wisdom on how to actually make progress on the resolutions and commitments we’ve made multiple times before.
In Stephen Arterburn’s book, Lose it for Life he points out that our best example of living this life is Christ’s Life and Luke gives us a interesting tidbit of Christ’s development into a man.
We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood because the gospel writers focused most of their writing on His ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection, which they were personally witnesses to.
However, we do have this wonderful story at the end of Luke 2 which appears to be another treasured moment from the heart of Mary. (if you attended the candle light service you’ll remember that we talked about the fact that Mary treasured all these moments in her heart.
Read Luke 2:40-52
Okay, let’s see a show of hands, How many of you have been accidentally left somewhere?
How many of you have been tempted to purposely leave your kids somewhere? I was left at church twice as a kid. My dad drove a church bus and he often work second shift on Sundays so he would drive separately to church regularly. That gave occasion to a couple of instances where mom thought I was with dad and dad thought I was with mom.
That’s kind of what happened in this scenario. Jesus was left and when they found him, he was speaking with the religious leaders asking questions and talking scripture theology. This is a demonstration of what verse 40 told us:
2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
It is no wonder that verse 52 was true.2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
I want us to look at those 4 areas of life in a topical manner in the order they are listed in this verse:
Jesus increased in wisdom – the intellectual
Stature – the physical
Favor with God – the spiritual
And favor with man – the social
The gospel has the power to “Break every Chain.” Some of you are still shackled in these areas…
Areas of Growth: Intellectual
It’s worth noting in these verses that as Jesus the boy sat with the religious leaders in the temple, they marveled at His understanding.
Verse 47 says that everyone who heard Him was astonished.
Yet, about 20 years later when Jesus would preach in and around the Temple, the leaders and teachers would be appalled instead of astonished.
At the age of 12 with parents looking for Him, Jesus was a novelty.
At the age of 30 with a growing following, Jesus was a threat.
Suddenly Jesus wasn’t just discussing scripture, He was challenging their positions and taking the mask off of their hypocrisy. He was unravelling their notions and opposing their teachings. If they had continued to listen, imagine how much they could have learned. Imagine how much of their thinking He could have reshaped. Imagine how much He could have taught them about God’s truth, love, and grace.
They closed their minds to Him. They made up of their minds and rejected Him.There are many people who find Jesus interesting as a novelty. They see Jesus as interesting, inspiring even. However, when Jesus begins to challenge their thinking they close their minds to Him.
While the nature of following Christ is Spiritual, it’s also always been Intellectual.
Christ was a teacher. His followers were disciples or students. His final and greatest commandment was “go ye unto all the world and TEACH all nations.” God’s Word is to be conveyed to the masses, it is to be taught, to be read, to be translated. We can not separate the spiritual from the intellectual. God gave us minds that were capable of observing, listening, communicating, reading, writing, creating art, and he has used all of these to speak to us. For that reason, the scripture refers to the discipleship process as “being transformed by the renewing of your mind” in Romans 12:2. Much of intellectual or mental health is connected to this problem of pride. Whether or not we are willing to listen, to seek, to ask, to search. God’s Word tells us that Wisdom cries in the street.
Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
As Christians, we should be people who seek for truth, we should thirst for knowledge. We should desire to know more. Thinking you have it all figured out is why you’ve never figured anything out. New life doesn’t come from old thinking. You aren’t a new you with your old thinking. Some of you are too smart for your own good. You are too smart to change because you are too smart to ask for help. You will not be changed by thinking you’ve got it all figured out, But asking a question, reading a book, listening to good teaching, those will change you. Reshape you.
“I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” – Calvin Coolidge.
I’d recommend you be careful which brains that you borrow, but if we apply scripture in our lives, we will be lifelong students and seekers… Not because we will never learn what we need or because we will never find what we are looking for, but because there is always more for us to know about Christ, His mission in the World, and our place in it.
Let’s stop right there for a second, Let’s think about our place in the mission of God. As we come to know the Gospel, as we come to know the promises and truths of God, we will not only know more about God, we will know more about ourselves. Last week I told you that God’s Word is a means to know God and ourselves.
The Gospel does not merely tell me what God has done,
it teaches me what has been done for me and that I’m loved.
This is life changing. You see the knowledge of Christ is not merely knowledge. It’s not cold academic rationale. It’s more than impersonal facts and trivia. It’s important for me to say this because we often confuse Bible Knowledge with Spiritual Maturity.
Bible knowledge is not Spiritual Maturity.
Spiritual Maturity isn’t a matter of intelligence. Spiritual Maturity isn’t a matter of how much Bible you know, but of how much Bible you apply. You should be less concerned with how much Bible is in your head and more concerned with how much your thinking is shaped by God’s Word.
Those who study the Bible only to gain information may believe that their minds are expanding when in fact only their heads are swelling. – Ian Tait
I risk a generalization to warn you: people who are exercised and preoccupied with such things as how the Red Sea split and exactly how the manna fell and just how Jonah survived the fish and how the moon turns to blood are generally people who have what I call a mentality for the marginal.
You do not see in them a deep cherishing of the great central things of the gospel – the holiness of God, the ugliness of sin, the helplessness of man, the death of Christ, justification by faith alone, the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the glory of Christ’s return and the final judgment. They always seem to be taking you down a sidetrack…There is little centered rejoicing.
1 Corinthians 8:1 warns us that knowledge simply for knowledge sake “Puffeth up”
Cold Bible Knowledge isn’t knowing God. Knowing God is not a bunch of warm fuzzies, either. Just as there is the extreme to cold intellectual pursuit, there is an extreme of mindless emotional ferver. Knowing God is just that. Knowing Him.
As we come to know Him and His sacrifice and His redemption and His grace… It will be an emotional knowledge.It will make a difference in our self-image. It will give us joy, peace, and meaning. Because it is true it is substantive. Because it is substantive, it is powerful.
The difference between preaching the gospel to yourself & positive self-speak is the difference between resurrection & a bandaid. – Scotty Smith
Pride says “I am what I wish I was.”
Insecurity worries “what does everyone think I am?”
The Gospel assures “God knows what I am and loves me.”
Verse 52 says that He grew in wisdom and stature.
This word is used in relation to physical development, but also to maturity.
You and I both know that you grow taller and stronger but remain a baby. You can be a grown man who acts like a child. This relates to the mind. This relates to our thinking.
Nicole shared an article with me that pointed out that when children throw tantrums it’s because they do think that the world is ending. That’s what we kid about, but in reality when the lego building they are working on falls over, it’s a major deal because they don’t know about ISIS or terror attacks in Paris. They don’t know what the stock market did or that your taxes are due. The job of a parent is to help them see that the World is not about them while instilling a strong sense of self.
The gospel brings this to us. The gospel teaches me, It isn’t about me, yet God loves me.
It helps me grow up AND it helps me rest assured. Several years ago a tragic thing happened to the pastor of a Baptist Church. A group of men came into the church attempting to rob it. They beat the Pastor and stabbed him. He lived, but experienced panic attacks. The physical wounds healed long before the psychological wounds did. He continued to pastor as he received care. He later retired, but still struggled with panic attacks and nightmares.
He recently said, I’m doing much better. God’s grace manages my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
God’s grace is powerful enough to work in the mind. God’s grace is powerful enough to work in your body.
Areas of Growth: Physical
Verse 52 seems to refer to Jesus’ maturity, verse 40 clearly speaks to Jesus’ strength.
Isaiah tells us that Jesus wasn’t a remarkable looking man. He wasn’t a movie star. However, He was strong. He was healthy.
Scripture makes several references to physical health, strength and vitality. Paul may have said that Bodily Exercise profits little, but in comparison to the eternal worth of Spiritual progress, everything matters little. But I hope to show you that
Physical health is a matter of eternal perspective.
I’m going to read you a couple verses from Philippians 3
18(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Paul says that those that are now enemies of the work of Christ, their belly or stomach is their God. They have chosen to follow their stomachs instead of Christ. They have chosen the flesh, the physical appetites, the lust of the flesh over serving Christ.
Instead of worshipping God, they’ve worshipped a false God, an idol. They’ve made an idol of their hunger, their cravings, their sexual appetites, their desires. A couple things we know about idols, they are things God created for good that have been abused. Sex was a gift from God, but it’s abused. The sun was a gift from God, but people in the Old Testament worshipped it…
We also know idols are never satisfied. They always want more. Whenever you feed it more, it asks for more.Verse 19 says, the end is destruction & Their glory is their shame. By the end they’ve gotten is so mixed up that what they should be ashamed of they glory in.
A pretty good example of this growing appetite is seen right here in the US.
In 1955, when McDonalds made a deal with Coca-Cola there was only one size of fountain drink. 7oz. Smaller than this Styrofoam cup. Through the years the drink sizes kept getting larger. Today, you can see from this image that the size have gotten pretty ridiculous.
The more you give an idol, the more it wants. The more we feed our appetites, the more they grow.
Paul says that our conversation is in heaven, meaning that’s our prize our pursuit and our purpose. So you might say, well Pastor Daniel I’m going to get a new body in heaven so I might as well eat up here, right? This passage tells us that we are looking for the return of the Lord. We are expecting Christ’s return.
We are expecting the end of all things. For that reason, verse 5 of the next chapter says to let your moderation be known unto all men. The chapter calls us to be content and discusses ministering to others…
This body is a tool, a vessel for ministry. It is not a god to worship, but rather it is to be used in worship of that God. If you were going to sing a song here in church, you were singing it for the glory of God, you wouldn’t wing it.
You would try to do your best. You would practice, you would warm up your voice. You would tune your guitar. We should see our bodies as an instrument to serve God with.We should tune it. When we do this, it will give us a greater capacity to serve and longer amount of time to serve.
Poor health decisions choose the temporal over the eternal.
I’m making a poor ministry choice when I consistently make unhealthy choices. Valuing physical health will add years to your life and life to your years. I’d rather be 65 going on 45 than 45 going on 65.
This small timer is from a board game we have at home. When it’s my turn, I often wish that I could slow it down or add some sand to it. Allowing the grace of Christ to make a difference in this area of my life, it’s like adding sand to the hourglass, or at the very least, it allows me to make more of the grains count. Add sand to the hourglass. Make every grain of sand count.
I’m challenged by my grandfather and Bro Helms. They keep going. While many among our denomination are Arminian in doctrine believing that we have Free Will, they seem to be fatalistic Calvinists when it comes to their waistlines.
I believe the vitality of the fathers of the faith here at our church have been a blessing to this church. We need you strong, healthy, active.
This community needs you.