by Pastor Marvin McKenzie,
Havest Baptist Church, Astoria, Oregon
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Text: Ephesians 4:1
I use this passage all of the time in my preaching, but I do not think I have ever preached a message just about it. This evening, I think I'll do that. Have you ever thought about how the Bible likens the Christian life to a walk?
Gen 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:
Gen 5:24 And Enoch walked with God:
Gen 6:9 and Noah walked with God.
Deut 13:4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
Matt 9:5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Walking does make a good illustration of the Christian life.
1. When I Go For a Walk, I Sometimes Trip.
I will admit, it has been a few years since I tripped often, but I still trip once in a while! When I was a baby, I imagine I tripped more than I walked. As I got older though, I became more skilled in walking, and tripped a whole lot less. But I still trip sometimes! When we were still living down town, one Christmas I went out on the back porch to throw away the used wrapping paper. We had about eight or ten steps off the porch and, while we were inside and not paying attention, we had had freezing rain. I stepped on the first step and didn't have to step on any of the others! Before I knew it I was on the ground below. Hurting more in pride than anywhere else! Every once in a while you see me, as I am preaching, almost step off the platform. One preacher friend of mine had just finished remodelling his platform. The building was bigger than ours and his platform was nearly three foot tall. They were having a big day at their church, and he had set up folding chairs right at the platform. As he was preaching, he got carried away and walked right off the platform and into a lady's lap! When ever you go walking, there are the chances that you will trip along the way! Spiritually, the new and baby Christians trip into sin really easy. Sometimes they make more mistakes than they do progress! But, the longer a person walks with God, the fewer times they trip. They learn more, they become stronger, and they know what to avoid to make falling into sin less likely.
2. When I go for a walk, I can encounter dangers.
I was jogging through Astoria one time. As I went by this particular house, I heard a dog start barking, and then a lady scream. The lady was screaming because the dog was her next door neighbor's and she new it was coming after me! I stopped in the middle of the road and faced the dog, coming at me at a full run. The man of the house came out of the house, yelling at the top of his lungs at the dog, which ran right past him and towards me. As I faced the dog down, the man got between me and his dog, trying to call it down, but it was wanting me bad, all this time, the lady was still screaming! Finally, the man was able to grab his dog and drag it away. I was scared to death, and the lady came out and told me it had bitten two or three other people. If I had not gone out for the walk, I wouldn't have faced that danger. But I wouldn't have received the healthy benefits of the jog either! Living for the Lord does expose us to some dangerous attacks of the Devil He is a roaring lion, walking about seeking whom he may devour. And he has no interest in devouring Christians who are doing nothing for the Lord! On the other hand, if you do not walk with the Lord, you will never grow strong and healthy in Christ. AND GOD ALWAYS HAS A LEASH ON THE DEVIL! He can scare us, but he can't eat us!
3. When I Go Out For a Walk, I meet Many People.
Before Brother Graves had his heart surgery, he and I would go for walks downtown two or three times a week. It would have been a healthy practice except one or the other of us would talk the other one into going to a restaurant afterwards of lunch! Anyway, while we were out for those walks, we ran into all sorts of people! People Mike knew that needed to come and see him and have him help them with their taxes, and people that needed to come and see me and let me talk to them about Christ! People that neither of us would have seen if we hadn't been out for those walks! And that same thing is true spiritually, when you walk with God, he puts people in your path that you can witness to and win to Christ! If you sit around on your duff at home, or even at church all the time, you'll never see many people to witness to and you won't get to help many get saved. But if you'll walk with the Lord and go out looking for souls, He'll allow you to win people to Christ!
So, this word "WALK" is an appropriate word to illustrate living for the Lord! Now, would you notice with me what kind of walk is a worthy walk? I found five things in Ephesians 4 that define what a worthy walk is:
Theme: A Worthy Walk is:
I. A UNIFIED WALK vs 3-6
God's word tells us we have to ENDEAVOR to keep unity! One thing is for sure: If we all say the first thing that comes to mind, And do the First thing impulse calls for. If we all act like we want to act instead of how we ought to act We won't have much unity in our lives! This Christian life is AN ENDEAVOR! We have to WORK at prayer! We have to WORK at Bible study! We have to WORK at soul winning and witnessing for Christ! NONE OF THOSE THINGS COME NATURALLY So you have to endeavor to do them! And you have to endeavor and WORK at getting along with the others in church! You do that by remembering You are all in the same Church (I am talking about in the local church you belong to.) You are all endwelt by the same Spirit You are all looking for the same return of Christ You all have the same master All have the same doctrines All have the same baptism (hopefully Baptist!) And all have the same God! Anything beyond that is trivial! Work at getting along! Because you can't consider yourself walking worthy of Christ if you are always involved in causing some sort of division in church!
Theme: The Worthy walk is
II. A MATURING WALK. vs 11-16
Nobody minds a little baby not being able to walk well. But we all expect that, the baby will mature and be able to walk better and better! If the child grows up and isn't able to walk well, we take them to special doctors to straighten their legs, and therapists to help them learn to walk right! God has given us several sources to help us mature as Christians:
A. Apostles and Prophets.
These people actually lived, but, though they no longer exist, their ministries are still available to us through the Old and New Testaments! Each time I read some of the Old Testament, one of those prophets of the past ministers to me and helps me mature in my faith. And every time I read some of the New Testament, one of the Apostles has a continuing ministry, serving to make me more mature for Jesus Christ! Baptist People have always been Bible People! We aren't into book reports, or dissertations on what the doctors and professors believe! Baptists have always held that a preacher got his credentials from the Lord and not from his diploma! We put more stock in a man of God who proclaims the Word of God, than in any type of worldly wisdom and scholarship! We teach our people to bring their Bibles to church, to see for themselves what God's Word says. And we teach our people to read their Bibles day by day and tell them that without that, NO AMOUNT OF CHURCH ATTENDANCE AND PREACHING WILL DO THEM MUCH GOOD! After the Bible
B. The Evangelists Serve to Help us Mature in the Faith.
There are a couple of ways to understand who an evangelist is.
1. I believe a missionary church planter is an evangelist. Brother Wayne Ward has no desire right now to plant a church and stay there as its pastor. But he still has a part in the maturing of the faith of those he has worked with. There are people in Tillamook, who are going to benefit and grow from Brother Ward's ministry, who may never know his name! The missionary on the field, plants a church with the intention to train a national person to eventually take it over. But the missionary has still had a part in the maturing of the people of the church.
2. Then, we have the traditional Evangelist. We have Brother Bill Bramblett coming in April to preach a week of meetings for us. This summer we have Brother Jim Beard coming for a Sunday And later we have Evangelist James Rushing coming for a service. These men do not stay and minister to us, but they still have a profound impact upon us. Jim Beard is the first evangelist Brother Burkhart heard. AND BROTHER JACK STILL HAS A SPECIAL LOVE FOR HIM! The first evangelist I saw was Wayne Rose. Anita and I were dating in those days. Wayne met Anita, and told me later that night that I should marry her! HE IS SPECIAL TO ME. He had a lot to do with my maturing in the faith!
3. And then, the evangelist is a term that is used for the soul winner. Whenever you win a person to Christ, you have begun them in a walk for which they will be eternally grateful to you! You might not see them much here on earth, but in heaven, they will tell you every day how thankful they are you gave to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Finally for the maturing of the Saints we have
C. Pastors and Teachers.
And these are the people who have a long term ministry with us in helping us to mature for the Lord. Who the pastors are, is self evident I believe that Teachers speaks of those of you involved in Sunday School, 4X4, Junior Church, Bus Ministry, Patch the Pirate and so forth. These are those week after week ministries that God has given to us to help us mature and grow in the Lord! A worthy walk with Christ is a maturing walk. YOU OUGHT TO ALWAYS BE GROWING AND MATURING AND CHANGING AS YOU WALK WITH CHRIST! A worthy walk is III. A RENEWED WALK vs 17-24 (especially 23) I will not take much time with this except to say that, if you want to walk worthy of Christ, YOU NEED TO EXPECT TO CHANGE! The old things you used to do MUST BE PUT OFF And you MUST PUT ON a new kind of life and walk for the Lord! You can't just figure you can do the things you used to do and still call that walking worthy of Christ! You can do those things and still be saved. But you can't do those things and honor Christ! Some things have to go! And some other things have to start if you want to bring honor and glory to the Lord and walk worthy of your salvation! And, considering how wonderful salvation is Anything Christ asks us to get rid of and anything Christ asks us to begin; IS ONLY OUR REASONABLE SERVICE!
Theme: A worthy walk is
IV. AN HONEST WALK vs 25
We are made free by the truth We are made clean by the truth We are saved by the truth And it is ridiculous to believe that we can walk worthy of Christ and not be truthful people! We must be honest!
Theme: And finally, a worthy walk is
V. A KIND WALK vs 31-32
Kindness begins by changing your attitude. Putting away that bitter and angry spirit, and then, changing what you say. Some of us just say mean, hateful and hurting things! Kindness means to become tenderhearted. Thoughtful towards others feelings and how they will react to our words and actions. And Kindness means to be quick to forgive. One of the things I learned a long time ago is to forgive before the fact. You have to develop a forgiving spirit. Develop an attitude which forgives BEFORE a person offends you. Cause, if you wait until you are offended, to learn to forgive, YOU WILL HAVE REACTED before you have time to think it through! I began tonight's message with this title: I'M GOING FOR A WALK! I want to walk with God, walk worthy of Christ and the salvation He gave me. That walk is a unified walk, a maturing walk, a renewed walk, an honest walk, and a kind walk. What I have done is to say, "By the grace of God, this is the kind of walk I want to have." And, as I mature in the Lord, attempt to walk more and more worthily of Christ. I trip and fall sometimes, but hopeful I do it less as I keep growing. And I want to invite you tonight to come to the altar and say to God, "With your help Lord, I want to go for a walk with You!"
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