Transformed Living, 13 January 2019

Transformed Living
Series—Romans: Walking in the Spirit
Romans 12:1-8

Series Overview: The book of Romans guides us into a life of freedom as we follow Jesus by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Big Idea: We can know and do God’s will when we are transformed by the Holy Spirit from worldly to godly living.

One of the most common questions I get asked as a pastor is, "How can I know God's will? Do you want to know God's will? Do you really want to know God's will?

Walking in the Spirit and today we’re in chapter 12, another passage packed with inspiration and information for the purpose of transformation: transformed living.

One thing I’ve noticed about humans is most don’t like change. It’s easy to get comfortable, in a rhythm. The problem is, if we aren’t changing to become like Jesus, we’re stuck—at best—and likely losing our faith, backsliding, drifting.

In Romans 11, Paul talks about how we have all been disobedient to God, yet He has extended His mercy to all followers of Jesus.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

One of the most common questions asked by Christians is, “How can I know God’s will?” We know Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,” but what does that really mean? The answer is found in these two verses. We must be transformed. We must…change.

I love you all deeply, but none of you has yet achieved perfection. We are all in need of what is called sanctification, the process of being set apart, consecrated, made holy. There are actually two aspects to sanctification for the Christian.

First, there’s positional or internal sanctification. All believers are sanctified or set apart unto God when they receive Jesus as Savior and LORD. In another book, Paul, the writer of Romans, said,

“…you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justifed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Tragically, this is where so many Christians stop. You’ve heard me call them vampire Christians—they just want Jesus for his blood. He’s their Savior but not LORD. They
think they’ve been given a Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free card because they prayed a prayer and do religious things, but they’re nothing more than modern-day Pharisees. They’re not walking in the Spirit.

The second type of sanctification is progressive or eternal. This is the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion. This is what Paul is describing in Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Sacrifices are rather uncommon today, but at the time of this writing, the slaughter of animals was a part of life for many, killed and placed upon an altar. The problem with living sacrifices is they can wiggle off the altar!

This is such a challenging text because Paul is basically saying to surrender our bodies…and our minds. See, we often make the mistake of thinking Christianity just about our soul, but we are multi-dimensional creatures…and God wants all of us.

Do you want God? Do you really want God?

Let’s face it, in the next life it will be easy to follow God. Satan will be removed, temptation will be a thing of the past, we’ll be forever in God’s presence…but we’re in this world now. We’re expected to live as citizens of heaven while being in Toledo, Ohio!
What does Paul mean when he speaks of the pattern of this world? One of Jesus’ best friends, John, described it this way:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

Let me break this down a bit.

The lust of the flesh refers to our comfort, prosperity, sexual activity, eating, etc.

The lust of the eyes includes greed, coveting, jealousy, envy, etc.

The pride of life
involves pride, the quest for fame and power, desiring a sense of importance, or what we call “the American Dream.

This is what it means to follow the pattern of this world. This is why I meet so many Christians in this country that are different than their non-Christian neighbors. Most of us are pursuing the American Dream instead of God’s dream, God’s will.

Most of us are too busy to pray.
We’re too comfortable to fast.
We’re too greedy to give generously.
We’re too distracted to study the Bible.
We’re too prideful to serve.

If you want a wake-up call, here’s the very next verse from John:

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17)

So how do we begin to do God’s will? It begins with renewing the mind. All of our actions begin in our head. Here are two simple steps:

Fill your mind with God’s truth. Study the Bible.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

Focus your mind on good things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

This can be really difficult in a culture of cable news, Facebook posts, and online porn.
Paul continues to describe what it means to renew our minds:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:3)

I think pride is the root of most, if not all, sins. It manifests itself through both arrogance and insecurity. It got satan kicked out of heaven. It’s what drives us to seize power and control. It seeks comfort and safety. Pride may be my greatest sin throughout my life.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:4-5)

I’ve heard people say they love Jesus but not the Church. That’s like saying you love Christ but hate his Wife! The Church is imperfect, yes, but it is the Body of Christ. A Christian without a church is like a football player without a team. We need others!

I need you. You need me. We belong together. We need to love and serve one another, not only for the sake of the members of the church, but also for our mission field: Toledo and beyond.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8)

This is not a comprehensive list of spiritual gifts, but one of several in the Bible. The Alliance affirms all of the spiritual gifts mentioned in scripture. In fact, one of our seven core values states

Without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, we can accomplish nothing. - 1 Cor. 2:4-5

A quick note about prophesy, it is not necessarily predicting the future, but rather forth-telling or revealing God’s truth. Perhaps you’ve heard God speak to you about someone or something and didn’t know what to do about it. We’re hosting a three-week seminar on Wednesday nights beginning February 27 to discuss the spiritual gift of prophecy, what it is, how to use it if you have it, and how to avoid misusing it as so many have done.

I want you to see a living example of what happens when a family is filled with the Spirit, surrendered to God, using their gifts, and
being the Church.


Did you notice spiritual gifts in use? At least five from Romans 12 are clear:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8)

serving (the needs of the mother and daughters)
- teaching (discipling the mother and children)
- encouraging (the four new daughters through their myriad of problems)
- giving (of their time, home and funds)
- showing mercy (to the mother who was incarcerated)

So What?

Do you want God? Do you really want God?

Transformed living is possible. It begins with renewing our minds and surrendering our bodies. Here are a few notes about the process of transformational sanctification:

1. Growth takes time.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

Transformation is a lifelong journey. It’s like a slow dance between the Spirit and us as the Holy Spirit guides and we respond. Don’t ever stop growing!

2. We must take obedient action by taking off our old self and putting on a new self.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

3. We must remain submitted to God to experience lasting transformation.

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

4. We must remain humble. Christians often become prideful about how much they have been sanctified or transformed. How much you have been transformed is not so much the issue – rather the direction in which you are currently changing is much more important. 

…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5b-8)

5. Growth will likely lead to both troubles and a more abundant life.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10:30)

Do you want God? Do you really want God? If so, as we sing this closing song, I want to invite you to the altar. The new year is still getting started. Today is the perfect day to publicly declare your desire for more of God, to surrender, to let go and let God, to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Credits: I’m grateful for the research and assistance of Doug Oliver.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast, 2 August 2015

Matthew 13:31-35

Series Overview: this summertime series will examine the various parables of Jesus recorded in thirteenth chapter of Matthew.

Big Idea: The kingdom of God is advancing…whether you see it or not.


Every year at this time the news is lit up—literally—with reports of wildfires. California is especially vulnerable this year because they’ve been having severe drought. Nearly one million acres have been destroyed this year by wildfires…some caused by negligently discarded cigarette.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going.

The Kingdom

Jesus devoted much of His teachings to the kingdom of heaven. We began our Parables series looking at the sower. Last week we discussed the weeds and wheat. Today we look at two parables that Jesus does not interpret for us, yet two similar stories which have much to teach us today.

Our first parable today is about mustard. Do you like mustard? What do you do with mustard?

Mustard is a condiment. It has no vitamins. It’s one of the few things you can get for free at a ballgame, though it’s hardly satisfying on its own.

Mustard comes from…the grocery store! It comes from a tiny seed. We don’t commonly see seeds—aside from possibly pumpkin or sunflower seeds—but mustard seeds were known in Jesus’ day.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Mustard comes from mustard plants. Some have criticized Jesus, saying there are seeds smaller than mustard seeds, but that wasn’t then point. In biblical culture it was known to be the smallest, yet it grew tremendously.

There’s a bit more you should know about mustard seeds. Virtually all seeds produce plants that grow, but according to Pliny the Elder, a Roman author in the first century,

“Mustard… with its pungent taste and fiery effect is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it is sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once.”

Mustard grows big and fast.

John Dominic Crossan states, "The mustard plant is dangerous even when domesticated in the garden, and is deadly when growing wild in the grain fields. And those nesting birds, which may strike us as charming, represented to ancient farmers a permanent danger to the seed and to the grain. The point, in other words, is not just that the mustard plant starts as a proverbially small seed and grows into a shrub of three, four, or five feet in height. It is that it tends to take over where it is not wanted, that it tends to get out of control, and that it tends to attract birds within cultivated areas, where they are not particularly desired. And that, said Jesus, is what the Kingdom of God was like. Like a pungent shrub with dangerous take-over properties (
Jesus, A Revolutionary Biography, page 65).

The kingdom is “like a pungent shrub with dangerous take-over properties.”

What would make the kingdom dangerous? It is a threat to satan and the world system. Last week we said the wheat and weeds grow together. Good and evil grow together. The kingdom of God has explosive potential to change people, communities, and even nations.

One writer said this:

Think again though about the people who followed Jesus and the multitudes who lived in the margins of society who had their fields taken away from them by the Roman occupation and the corrupt leaders of the Jewish Temple. “The Kingdom of God will take over where it is not wanted. God shall break into this mess and challenge the oppressors?” the peasants must have pondered with one another. No wonder they followed Jesus.

In the west, we seem to hear only bad news. The church is in decline. People are abandoning the faith. Atheism is on the rise. Young people are less interested in the things of God. At least this is what we are often told.

Perhaps the weeds are growing strong in the west, but the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing around the world.

It took nearly 2,000 years for the gospel to spread from the early church to nearly half the world’s population. In 1900, 45.7 percent of people everywhere were aware of the gospel, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. More than 100 years later, that number has grown to more than 70 percent.

There’s plenty of work to do, but the kingdom of God is advancing like a mustard seed.

By the way, don’t forget two weeks ago we mentioned the birds that came and took away the seeds that were sowed. We have a real enemy, satan, who wants to steal, kill and destroy the mustard seeds and the kingdom of God.

Jesus and His kingdom were a threat to the principalities and powers of His time…and ours.

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Matthew 13:33)

Some have called this the key parable of the chapter. Interestingly, yeast or leaven is always used in the Bible as a symbol of evil. You may recall the importance of unleavened bread in Jewish life, including the Passover.

Yeast is a fungi that multiplies rapidly through fermentation. Bread rises because of yeast. We usually think negatively about fermentation and fungi, yet Jesus reverses the meaning of yeast to symbolize the positive, hidden movement of the kingdom of heaven in our world.

Today, much of the kingdom of heaven is hidden from our view, much like dough slowly rising. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. In fact, the most radical kingdom activity, heart transformation, begins hidden from our view. It sometimes takes years before the seeds of faith take root, before the effects of the yeast are visible in someone’s life.

It’s amazing how something so small like a cigarette butt can produce such a large wildfire.

It’s amazing how something so small like a mustard seed can produce such a large plant.

It’s amazing how something so small like a bit of yeast can produce such a large loaf of bread.

Michael Wilkins summarizes, “The mustard seed emphasizes an inconspicuous beginning of the kingdom of heaven with its growth into external greatness, while the yeast suggests its inconspicuous permeation and transformation.”

God has a way of doing great things with the small. Jesus Himself may be the greatest example. The Jews believed the Messiah would enter our world with power and greatness. He surprised them. In fact, Jesus’ first visit to our planet was so different than what was expected that most Jews are still waiting for the first arrival of the Messiah. Jesus came to earth as a small baby, virtually unknown except for a few visitors. Yet despite humble beginnings, Christ changed the world.

The prophet Zechariah famously wrote

Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” (Zechariah 4:10)

It doesn’t look like much, but just wait!

Our text for today concludes with these words:

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35)

There has never been a story teller like Jesus for He not only entertained, He spoke truth, His is the truth, and His teachings demanded a response. He repeatedly said, “He who has ears, let him hear” and said those who hear would be blessed. The spiritually alive would become His disciples. The spiritually dead would turn away, some even yelling, “Crucify Him.”

As kingdom people we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (5:13–16), regardless of what is politically correct and popular. The kingdom of God is advancing…whether you see it or not.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Children, Youth, and Fathers, 1 John 2:12-14, 4 May 2015

Big Idea: Spiritually mature disciples reproduce.

Scripture: 1 John 2:12-14


Communication is a fascinating aspect of humanity. We are social creatures with the primal need to convey our thoughts, needs, feelings, and ideas.

Once upon a time we had only verbal and body language.

Hieroglyphic drawings came next.

Written words followed.

The advent of the telephone was a tremendous way to connect with distant people.

Paging, e-mail, and texting introduced new technologies for instant communication.

Today FaceTime, Skype, and other video apps allow face-to-face teleconferencing.

What’s next? Hologram is one emerging tool.

An unsolicited bit of advice: choose the appropriate form of communication for the appropriate message. Texting is great for a short grocery list, but don’t use it to break up with your girlfriend! If you really want your message to get noticed, buy a pen, a card, and a stamp and…write a note!


Every writer has a message and an audience. They are both critically important. Have you ever texted the wrong person? It can be embarrassing, especially if the note is personal or private.

We are studying a letter, the first epistle written by John, one of Jesus’ three best friends. In this fourth week of our series, Love Illuminated, John reveals his audience (plural).

At first glance it seems odd to include details about his recipients in the middle of the letter, yet the details reveal much about them.

Scripture: 1 John 2:12-14

  I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (12)

This phrase “little” children literally means “born ones.” Perhaps we could call them born again ones. This refers to all believers who have been forgiven by the precious blood of Jesus shed for us on on the cross, by His broken body which was pierced for us.

John continues…

I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

Fathers here refers to mature saints who have known Jesus for many years. They know Him who is from the beginning—Jesus.

John began his gospel with these words:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)

Fathers know Jesus. They know Him well.

I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one. (13)

It seems young men are more mature than children but not as mature as the fathers. They have faced temptation and won. This is immensely important today. Though it could be said of every generation, the world is filled with lies from the evil one that wants to steal, kill, and destroy.

What are some?

You need money, sex and power…now.
The first shall be first.
He who dies with the most toys wins.
It’s all about you.

John is acknowledging a group of young men who have chosen to live radical, counter-cultural lives. They don’t care what’s politically correct, but instead they live what’s biblically correct.

Now John goes back to the children.

I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father. (14a)

These immature believers know they are children of God. They know their Daddy!

Now John seems to repeat himself somewhat.

I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning. (14b)

It does not say they know about God. John says mature believers know God. Paul said it this way:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

These verses are loaded! Suffice it to say if you truly want to know someone, walk in their shoes. Last month featured “Take Your Child To Work” day. Thousands of children skipped school to be with their mom or dad, watching and sometimes experiencing life in the real world.

It’s one thing for my son to know intellectually I am his father.
It’s another thing for my son to have met me.
It’s yet another thing for him to be told I work very part-time as a DJ.
It’s still another thing for him to watch me play music at a wedding reception.
It’s an even greater thing for him to work alongside me, entertaining guests.
It’s perhaps the greatest thing for him to live with me, watching me every day.

At each level, my relationship with him grows. He may even decide someday to take over my DJ business, following in my footsteps.

Knowing Jesus does not end at a worship gathering or a Life Group. It’s only the beginning.

We need the Word of God. It’s food. It’s daily bread. Most of us don’t eat weekly. We don’t even eat daily. We eat several times a day.

You can’t expect on meal to nourish you for seven days!

Do you know Jesus? Do you live with Jesus? Do you do life with Jesus?

John continues…

I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. (14c)

The strong overcome the evil one by the word of God, it’s the only weapon of offense, the sword of the Spirit. Many aren’t in the word of God, but we need it if we are to grow strong.


John is writing to three groups of people.

  I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (12)
because you know the Father.

They know God the Father.

I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
because you know him who is from the beginning.

They know God.

I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one. (13)
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. (14)

They are strong, they have overcome the evil one, the word of God lives in them.

So What?

Are you a child, a young man, or a father? Many overestimate where they are on their journey, thinking because they have great biblical knowledge they are mature believers. The Pharisees were just such a people. Their minds were full but their heads were big. Their hands were idle. Their hearts were hard.

Jesus said we are to come to Him like little children…and grow…looking increasing like Him.

As we said previously, God’s love language is obedience. If we love Him, we will do what He commands. Most Christians—including myself—are educated far beyond our level of obedience.

There’s a great verse in the book of Ezra that describes a spiritual father. It says

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. (Ezra 7:10)

He studied God’s Word. That’s the first step. Children read books.

He observed or practiced the commands of God. That’s what young men do, they are strong and they obey God.

Finally, he taught God’s Word. Some of this may have been in a classroom, but likely it involved modeling…discipleship…reproduction.

Who Are You?

Are you a spiritual child, young adult, or parent? It has nothing to do with your physical age. In fact, it has nothing to do with your spiritual age. There are people who have called themselves Christians for decades who disobey God habitually. None of us is perfect, but we choose to repent or repeat our sins.

Maybe you feel pretty good about your life and actions. You have a heart for God, spend time in pray and studying God’s Word each day. Keep it up! I want to challenge you: who are your disciples? To whom are you a spiritual father or mother? Do they know?!

Parents have kids. We are all commanded to have spiritual kids, disciples.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There’s only one verb in verse 19: make. Spiritual parents make disciples. They intentionally invest their lives in others. They do life together with them. By definition they parent them spiritually.

You don’t have to be old to be a spiritual parent; you simply need to help another grow, help them take their next steps.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Grow Into An Emotionally Mature Adult, 12 February 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The sixth pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to grow into an emotionally mature adult.


What is love?

Martin Buber has said that as we become emotionally mature, we experience each person as sacred (including ourselves), viewing them as a “Thou” and not “it.”

Loving well is the goal of the Christian life.

The Good Samaritan—Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” (
Luke 10:26)

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
(Luke 10:27)

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
(Luke 10:28)

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:29)

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
(Luke 10:30-35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
(Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37)

Different Parts/Components of Who We Are


Becoming a follower of Jesus does not instantly transform every area of our lives.

Two Myths

1. When I accept Christ and He comes to live inside me, growing into an emotionally mature adult is natural.

2. Christian’s ability to love those around them is qualitatively different than those outside the church.

Emotional Maturity

Emotional maturity could be defined as loving well. Are you a good lover?


-- feels a need, but can only cry
-- must wait for parents to figure it out
-- becomes angry if parent is inattentive

-- can communicate but still dependent on others
-- acts out feelings of pain, fear and resentment
-- lacks skill to openly discuss and negotiate getting needs met

-- rebels against parental authority
-- defines self in reaction to others, fears being treated as “child”
-- “don’t tell me what to do”

Adult as Emotional Infant
-- treats others as “objects to meet my needs”
-- acts like tyrant and wins through intimidation
-- unable to empathize with others

Adult as Emotional Child
-- acts out resentment through distance, pouting, whining, clinging, lying, withholding,
appeasing, lying.
-- does not openly and honestly express needs

Adult as Emotional Adolescent
-- cannot give without feeling controlled or resentful
-- capacity for mutual concern is missing
-- defensive, threatened by criticism


1. Able to ask for what they need, want, prefer – clearly, directly, honestly, respectfully.
2. Desire for relationships to win. Seeks win-win situations.
3. Able to listen with empathy.
4. Willing to risk saying what is needed without attacking.
5. Respects others without having to change them.
6. Able to resolve conflicts maturely and negotiate solutions.
7. Gives themselves and others room to make mistakes and not be perfect.

God’s Top Two

There are two primary commands in Scripture

a. love God
b. love others


The key question in the story involves the definition of one’s neighbor. Most people seek good neighbors when they move into a house. We want to be surrounded by people who are nice and safe. It obvious that the expert in the law had a narrow definition of neighbor. The biblical command was simple:

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

The Hebrew word is “rea” which means neighbor, friend, companion, or associate.

Jesus blows his mind with His definition of neighbor, the central argument of the story.

The Good Samaritan

The road traveled in this story descends about 3300 feet over a seventeen-mile path through desert and rocky country. Jericho was home to many religious leaders. Why did the priest and Levite walk on the other side of the road? Have you ever done such a thing to another person, not literally, perhaps, but figuratively?

The priest and the Levite have disconnected loving God and loving others. They knew the Bible and paraded religion, but their hearts were hard. They passed by.

The Samaritan takes pity. He is moved. The real scandal of this story is that Samaritans were viewed as second-class citizens by the Jews. The Talmud says that he who eats bread with a Samaritan is like the one who eats the flesh of pigs.

Who do you hate? Who do you know that is going to Hell?

The Samaritan is moved with deep compassion and he responds. Jesus tells us to “go and do likewise.”

Note that the Samaritan has enough self-awareness and self-respect to continue his own journey, yet still manages to serve the man in need. He delegates some of the care but provides the resources. We are all given many resources—time, talents, treasures, relationships—that can be leveraged to serve others.


You and I are the person on the side of the road and Jesus is the One who had mercy on us, forgave us, gave His life for us, and rescued us. We are here by the grace of God.

Two Applications:

1. Become aware of your family of origin’s capability for emotional connection

Many families invested in our education, physical health, or even spiritual knowledge. Many fail to invest in our emotional maturity. Can you recall being comforted as a child after a time of emotional distress? Think of a time when one of your parents/caregivers comforted you when you were really upset, scared or sad for some reason?

The goal is not to find fault with our parents, but to ruthlessly face the truth of our upbringing in order to deal with issues from our past.

1. Did you learn to trust?
2. Did you learn to respect others?
3. Did you learn to wait and to take turns?
4. Did your parents/caregivers understand your behavior?
5. Were your feelings allowed?
6. Were you allowed to be the child?
7. Did you learn independence and dependence?

2. Take practical steps of discipleship to grow into an emotionally mature adult

It can be terrifying. Some of us do not even know how to feel. Where do we start?

We must follow the path of Abraham, leaving our pasts and families and cultures (the bad stuff) and turning to God. This is impossible apart from God.

We must repent (turn away) from our past and then move forward.

If you want to run a marathon, you must train and build up to it over time. Becoming an emotionally healthy adult requires baby steps.

Discipleship is a lifelong journey. It is hard. It takes time. It is worth it!

The alternative is living your life as a prisoner of your past.

We should love the best because we are loved the best.

“Being listened to is so close to feeling loved that for the average person they are indistinguishable.” -David Augsburger

We need to practice the presence of God (see book by Brother Lawrence) and practice the presence of people.

We are born sinful and selfish, but when we die to ourselves and allow Jesus Christ to live in and through us, we are able to love others the way Jesus loves us.

Paul said,

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

Fill In The Blank

I really appreciate ______________.

I really hope _________________.

Questions for Discussion

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

Who do you love? Who do you hate?

How is it possible that we can love God and not our neighbor? Or is it possible?

Do you use people to get things or use things to serve people?

What would it look like for you to treat every human being as a “Thou,” created in God’s image with dignity, value and worth?

How would our world be different if everyone loved their neighbor?

Do you treat people differently on their birthday? What if you treated everyone as if every day was their birthday?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.