Ride Upon the High Places: Altitude Part III

Did you miss this past Sunday morning’s service (01-20-11)? Then you missed a very special “Music Special”. With an original 3-part harmony, the hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” was sung by the trio of Melodie C., Joe C., and Grayson K with his rhythm guitar. Follow the link (above) to find the words and the history of this beautiful hymn.Where does our pastor get his ideas for sermon illustrations? He began his sermon by asking us to watch while he buttoned his suit coat up wrong. “It doesn’t look right, does it. Why? Where did I go wrong?”, he asked? OK, so there was method to his madness. He said, “I didn’t line up the first button, did I.” So the rest were all wrong also. The lesson: The first step for a Christian is your attitude. If that is wrong, everything else will go wrong. Thus began Pastor Vince Giardino’s sermon on “It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.

Our pastor finished tying up a few loose ends from last week, where he spoke on Aptitude. “Those in higher places (in society) are not going anywhere without God”, he maintained, “You can aspire to those high things (in this world), but God is not promoting you, you are promoting yourself.” In Psalms 18:32-36, David is giving credit to God for the strength, perfection, salvation, greatness, and setting him “upon my high places”. Pastor asked, “How can a Christian go to a higher place?” He said we need a spiritual perspective on life.

Pastor Giardino’s introductory story was about the crash of Eastern Airline Flight 401 into the Florida Everglades in 1972. The crash was due to the airline crew being preoccupied with a faulty landing gear indicator light. No one paid attention to the loss of altitude of the plane. The moral of the story: “Are you losing altitude?”, Pastor G. asked. We need to have people making sure the church is focused in the right direction – that of saving souls. We personally need to keep our attention on heaven and not on earthly things.

Pastor read from 4 places in Ephesians (Chapters 1:3-4, 1:19-23, 2:5-6, and 3:10-11) to help us see that Christ is our high priest in heaven to whom we have access. After we are saved, we have access to “heavenly places”. “Say Wow!”, exclaimed our pastor. We were told how important it is to surrender to God. Re-emphasizing this importance, Pastor brought to mind select individuals, such as Paul, and those in Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” There is something about your time with Jesus, that despite your education or station in life, you stand out and are unique, just as the apostles were. Have you taken in the Word? Pastor G. said, “The most important calling for me and for you is to see God, so we can enjoy our citizenship in heaven.”

Not many things seem to provoke our dear pastor as much as quotes from atheists. Pastor G. was none to happy to quote Ernest Hemmingway: “All thinking men are atheists.” Job 40:1-14 was Pastor’s counter thrust. Even Job had an attitude and God had to sit him down and reprove him. “I am vile”, said Job in verse 4, humbling himself before a holy God. Our pastor wanted us to realize that, we too will someday face judgment. “Hast thou an arm like God?“ (Job 40:9) was the challenge that Pastor Giardino took from Job and asked his congregation.

The 3rd part of the 3-part sermon was about Altitude. Pastor G. asked, “How can you maintain that altitude when you step out the door?” Romans chapter 12 holds the keys:

  1. You need to have a renewed Mind – Let go of the fleshly man and “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12:2.
  2. You need to have a renewed Manner of Love – Do you have a genuine love for one another? “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” Romans 12:10.
  3. You need to have a renewed Motive – What is the measure of your faith? “To think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” Romans 12:3.
  4. You need to have a renewed Motion – A motion of serving the Lord. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” Romans 12:11.
  5. You need to have a renewed “Much” – “Some of you always have something to be contentious with.” Pastor G. warned. “Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19.

Pastor said we need to have an “introspective look” into our lives to find out why God is not blessing us. “All of us are cutting through the fog and need to turn on the spiritual fog lights.” he said. Despite our troubles, how do we reach for higher ground? The verses in Deut 32:13-15 and Isaiah 58:10-12 have a “double application”, Pastor said, first regarding the nation of Israel, and then to us. Israel rode “on the high places of the earth”, having experienced God’s aboundance, but they “forsook God”. Pastor advised us all to read chapter 58 of Isaiah to learn about fasting, seeking after God and “breaking the bands of wickedness”. Isaiah was warning the people of Israel, who had gotten fat and forgot God, just as the people of America have done. Verses 13-14 exhort the reader to turn away from your own ways, your own pleasure, and your own words, but to delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth”.Pastor Giardino concluded by asking, “Do you want to go higher with God? You need to humble yourself … You need to surrender your attitude and altitude … to get on your face and seek the God that loves you and wishes to bless you.” “As a child of God, what are you aspiring to?” Pastor solemnly asked, “We’ve lost the high standard of living for God.”

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