Monday, July 28, 2008

Where Faith and Action meet

James 2:14 – 26

Where Faith and Action meet.

 

I.         Many of us are comfortably in control.

 

            A.        My personal background.

 

                        1.         Control was an absolute, most of the rules were designed around strict control.

 

                                    a.         No alcohol (drugs, etc...) because alcohol relaxes a person and causes them to lose control. (Changes personality, date rape drug of choice.)

 

                                    b.         No dancing because dancing is designed to encourage lust. (Dad pulled me form my elementary school’s spring program because the school planned a “square dancing” section.)

 

                        2.         Control can make us oblivious to need.

 

                                    a.         I was not trained to sympathize or empathize with others because these would give others leverage and possible control.

 

                                    b.         Essentially my family training made me blind to see others needs.

 

                                                1.)       I miss or am offended by subtlety and hints. (And sometimes directness.)

 

                                                2.)       I have to be deliberate to sympathize or empathize.

 

                                                3.)        I have to turn on my “radar” to pick up on needs.

 

            B.        This is a general problem: Needs make us think.

 

                        1.         Thinking helps us to stay in control.

 

                                    a.         James’ illustration:


“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. [16] If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” [James 2:15 – 16]

 

                                                1.)       This assumes the ability to see the need and the ability to do something about the need.

 

                                                2.)       The meeting of physical needs is part of James’ definition of religion and faith.


“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” [James 1:27]

 

                                    b.         Jesus also had a similar definition. [Matthew 25:34 – 46]

 

                                                1.)       So does that mean our eternal salvation depends on what we do and do not do with the needs of others?

 

                                                2.)       According to Jesus, yes. (This was in context of the story of the Master giving talents (unit of money) to his servants and what they did with them.

 

                        2.         If we allow ourselves to feel any compassion we are in danger of losing control.

 

                                    a.         Compassion requires our time and resources (which God gave to us to invest... see the story in Matthew 25).

 

                                    b.         Compassion is not comfortable but it is critical.

 

II.       When we become disturbed by need we do something.

 

            A.        Typically we like to wait for the thing to become critical.

 

                        1.         In other words, we wait until we become annoyed, alarmed, or angry enough to do something.

 

                                    a.         We might see a need but want someone else to do something about it.

 

                                    b.         Problem is that it builds a certain frustration level that is expressed in unhealthy ways like complaining, being critical, holding grudges.

 

                        2.         This is our version of living day to day.

 

                                    a.         “Today has enough trouble to keep me busy.”

 

                                    b.         Anything that breaks into “today” is unwelcome.


(Ill.) Wisdom from the mission field: If you get one thing done from your to do list, you’ve had a good day. If you get nothing done on your to do list, you’ve had a better day. (Why? Because you got something done on God’s to do list.)

 

            B.        James talks about faith and works.

 

                        1.         We tend to put them on opposite polls.

 

                                    a.         No one can be saved by works (as opposed to grace)

 

                                    b.         The Bible is clear: no one can be saved without producing works (sometimes called “fruit”)


“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” [Matthew 3:8]


“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” [John 15:4]


“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. [19] In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” [1 Timothy 6:18 – 19]


“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” [Ephesians 2:10]

 

                        2.         Reality: they are compliments on opposites. Trouble is we have theological traditions that emphasize to the probable exclusion of other important elements of faith. (Source: Dr. Muholland)

 

                                    a.         “Head” religion, emphasizes TRUTH. (“conservative”)

 

                                    b.         “Hand” religion, emphasizes COMPASSION. (“social gospel” and “liberation theology”)

 

                                    c.         “Heart” religion, emphasizes FEELING (and sometimes relationship). (“charismatic” and “holiness”)


***** The existence of someone doing something else and seeing salvation differently questions our existence and means of salvation. *****

 

            C.        What about Paul’s grace and James’ works?

 

                        1.         Paul is addressing grace and faith as a means of salvation (beginning). However, Paul understood judgement to be based on our works (result).


“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” [2 Corinthians 5:10]


(Also see Romans 2:5 – 8, 1 Corinthians 3:8)

 

                        2.         James addresses works and faithfulness as the exercise and result of salvation. (Another word for that is sanctification.)

 

III.      We must allow faith to open our eyes to circumstance.

 

            A.        “Broken Window” theory.

 

                        1.         Circumstances (and physical context) not belief or knowledge is the main determination of behavior.

 

                                    a.         Belief becomes situational, fluid, depending on our rationalizations.

 

                                    b.         Control becomes the determining factor.

 

                        2.         Two types of belief:

 

                                    a.         Belief = knowing.

 

                                                1.)       “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.” [James 2:19]

 

                                                2.)       Knowing is not changing or choosing obedience.

 

                                    b.         Belief = doing.

 

                                                1.)       “Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? [22] You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” [vv 21, 22]

 

                                                2.)       In other words: “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” [v 24]


(The other side of this is that works without faith is just as dead.)

 

            B.        James’ point is that faith is practical.

 

                        1.         Jesus said, above everything else, the true believer must get two this right.

 

                                    a.         Love God and love others. [see Matthew 22:37 – 40, Mark 12:30 –31, Luke 10:27]

 

                                    b.         James implies that service is love.

 

                        2.         The “love language” of service is the only one the community understands.


(Ill.) Missionary in Taiwan talking to a group of people. They did not have a high opinion of Buddhist monks because “they do nothing to help us.”

 

                                    a.         Our problem is we are results oriented rather than people oriented.

 

                                    b.         We check the “bottom line” (buildings, bodies, and budgets) rather than eternal impact. (Often confuse the two thinking they are the same.)

 

IV.      Somehow we need to let God have control.

 

            A.        Greek ideal: “apathetic”

 

                        1.         Stoics believed in the destruction of emotional attachment and involvement.

 

                        2.         Epicureans believed in abandoning themselves to the pleasure of the moment.

 

                        3.         Both had the ultimate goal of “apathy.”

 

            B.        Christian ideal: “action”

 

                        1.         If you notice a need and have the means, you are required to act compassionately on that need.

 

                        2.         If God is at work in you, you are required to act on faith.

 

                                    a.         Look past the circumstances.

 

                                    b.         Faith = action

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Untitled

2 Chronicles 14:2 – 16:14

How did I get here?

 

I.         Asa’s story was one of good and failure. The Bible makes these two observations about him: “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.” [14:2] and “Asa's heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life.” [15:17b]

 

            A.        Asa did good and right:

 

                        1.         [14:3 – 5] He removed the worship of false gods.

 

                        2.         [14:9 – 12] He trusted God in trouble.

 

                        3.         [15:8 – 15] He renewed the worship of the Lord.

 

            B.        Asa also flipped into failure:

 

                        1.         [16:1 – 6] He chose a political solution (which worked) instead of trusting God. (Implication, “success is not a mark of God’s blessing, in fact it may be a direct violation of our relationship with God.)

 

                        2.         [16:10] He imprisoned God’s messenger and becomes a brutal oppressor.

 

                        3.         [16:12] He does not seek God in sickness.

 

                        4.         [16:14] He chooses his own honor in death.


Question: How could someone who is “fully committed to the Lord” move away from what is “good and right?”


            * We don’t know. (When asked “why?” a child in trouble will say “I don’t know.”)


            * We might find clues in what the prophets said to King Asa


“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” [1 Corinthians 10:6]

 

II.       What might have happened from the two prophets visit to Asa.

 

            A.        Azariah (“the Lord has helped”)

 

                        1.         “The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” [15:2]

 

                                    a.         Foundational element of God’s interaction with humanity: God will not violate our free will.

 

                                    b.         God takes the initiative (grace) but we must respond (faith).

 

                        2.         [15:3] There was a time of social chaos when they were without God, without a priest to teach, and without the Law.

 

                        3.         [15:6b] Result: “Because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.”


***** Result: “When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD's temple.” [15:8] *****

 

            B.        Hanani (“gracious”)

 

                        1.         “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God...” [16:7a]

 

                                    a.         Instead of looking the Lord, King Asa chooses a political solution.

 

                                    b.         He had seen God work in even a bigger scale. Had peace softened him? Had rest weakened his trust in God? Had time caused his heart to grow cold toward God?

 

                        2.         “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” [16:9]

 

                                    a.         {White Tiger alert} God takes care of those who are FULLY committed to Him.

 

                                    b.         By not trusting God, Asa acted foolishly.

 

III.      What have we learned?

 

            A.        “With” is a very powerful connecting word.

 

                        1.         “With” means an association, relationship, distance, proximity, responsibility, and loyalty.

 

                        2.         “With” indicates who’s side you have chosen.

 

            B.        “Will” is a very powerful commitment.

 

                        1.         The words “seek” and “forsake” give the impression Asa was at a point of contention with God. (First prophet indicated that even though he had destroyed the false worship, he had not instituted the true worship.)

 

                        2.         The idea that Baasha was building a fortress five miles north of Jerusalem to keep people from entering Jerusalem (lots of people had left the northern kingdom) meant that Asa was once more at the point of decision or contention.


***** Implication: Asa had drifted from his commitment to the Lord. Asa reacted with what was in his heart. *****

 

            C.        “War” is a very powerful distress (and possibly judgment).

 

                        1.         Peace with God is not achieved in living in rebellion to God.

 

                        2.         External pressure brings trouble which gives us an opportunity to choose and renew.

 

                                    a.         One choice leads to another. One choice leads to the next.

 

                                    b.         A wrong act can become a wrong course.

 

IV.      What must we do?

 

            A.        Understand other people’s flaws, failures, and fumbles are not your excuse.

 

                        1.         David – Bathsheba and murder.

 

                        2.         Solomon – heart turned.

 

                        3.         Jehoshaphat – alliance with Israel, almost ended David’s line.

 

                        4.         Joash – abandoned God and killed God’s prophet.

 

                        5.         Hezekiah – asked God for 15 more years, fathered the most evil King in Judah’s history.


***** Nobody is flawless. That’s why it is important to stay close to God. That’s why it is so necessary to give and receive mercy and forgiveness from one another. *****

 

            B.        Gut checks:

 

                        1.         What drives your actions?

 

                                    a.         What you believe? What you know? Who/what you love?

 

                                    b.         The circumstances? (Men: anger, Women: fear)

 

                                    c.         Your imagination.

 

                        2.         Has your love for God gone cold?

 

                                    a.         At one point, your commitment and intent was to follow God.

 

                                    b.         Cold love puts you in a very dangerous place because the next step is bad behavior and a hard heart.

 

                        3.         Have you fallen?

 

                                    a.         Repent.

 

                                    b.         John Wesley (song “I want a principle within”)

 

“O may the least omission pain, My reawakened soul. And drive me to the blood again, which makes the wounded whole.”


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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What does the Holy Spirit do?

Genesis 1:2, 2:7, 3:24

What does the Holy Spirit do?

 

I.         The Holy Spirit is involved in creating something out of chaos/nothing. [Genesis 1:2]

 

            A.        Description of the earth: chaos, desolation, empty, ruin, unformed.

 

                        1.         Basic materials available but no organization.

 

                        2.         The Spirit of God “hovers” (KJV “broods”) over the situation.

 

            B.        Description of the one who is disconnected from God: “dead to God,” “walk in darkness,” “futile,” “depraved,” “weary,” “condemned.”

 

                        1.         Our basic state is one of separation from God. The consequences are eternal and unpleasant.

 

                        2.         The Spirit of God works to bring us to God. Creating out of the spiritual nothingness of our lives.

 

            C.        Three stages: (from Paul) “flesh,” “carnal,” “spiritual”

 

                        1.         In the “flesh” means that we are separated from God. This state is called “sin.”

 

                        2.         Being “carnal” (NIV “worldly”) means someone has the knowledge of God but the guiding principle of life is unspiritual (not based on God’s love, joy, peace... control).

 

                        3.         “Spiritual” means to “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [24] Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. [25] Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” [Galatians 5:22 – 25]

 

                                    a.         We show the signs (fruit) of God’s control in our lives.

 

                                    b.         We have dealt with “sin” including its passions and desires.

 

                                    c.         We are in step with the Spirit as we live by the Spirit.


***** The Holy Spirit reaches into the darkness of life and makes us into what God wants. Are we open? Does the Holy Spirit actually have control? *****

 

II.       The Holy Spirit is involved in creating life out of lifelessness. [Genesis 2:7]


“And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.” [John 20:22]

 

            A.        Description of life.

 

                        1.         Man is formed by the personal and direct touch of God.

 

                        2.         Life occurs when God breathed into Man. (Hebrew – “breath” and “spirit” are the same word/idea)

 

                        3.         When the breath of God enters Man there is a transformation from lifeless to a “living being.”

 

            B.        Description of the spiritual life.

 

                        1.         Life depends on the Holy Spirit.

 

                        2.         The process of breathing is an illustration of how the spiritual life works.

 

                        3.         The Holy Spirit enters (breath in) and we pour out our lives in service (breath out).


***** Blessing does not come in filling alone, it comes mostly in service. *****


(Ill.) The Dead Sea. It is so far below sea level that water runs in but does not run out. Result: the water is stagnate and there is a build up of minerals which prevents life. So it is with us, if we are always taking in but never serving out we become like the Dead Sea.

 

III.      The Holy Spirit is involved in bringing an end to what will destroy us. [Genesis 3:24]

 

            A.        Description of judgment or grace?

 

                        1.         The visual representation of God: the way to Eden and the tree of life was guarded by the sword.

 

                        2.         Presume that contact with this sword meant death. Death is the natural gate to eternal life... Jesus died so that we might live.

 

                        3.         Sinful life must die, killed by that sword, before we can go to the tree of life.


“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [Ephesians 6:7]


“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. [13] Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” [Hebrews 4:12 – 12]

 

            B.        Description of the spiritual life.

 

                        1.         The symbol of Jesus is the cross (which was an image of death).

 

                        2.         Jesus told us to take up the cross and follow Him.


“And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:38]


“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” [Mark 8:34]


“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” [Luke 14"27]

 

                        3.         Death will come in one of two ways:

 

                                    a.         The death sentence (physical and spiritual) on Adam’s race.

 

                                    b.         The sword of the Spirit must destroy that life of sin before we can eat of the tree of life.


(Talking to believers:) “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” [Romans 8:13]

 

IV.      So what must we do?

 

            A.        Consent to the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

                        1.         “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. [2] Do not conform any longer 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]

 

                        2.         Usually there is a crisis that hangs on a defining single point:

 

                                    a.         The dearest thing in our lives.

 

                                    b.         The decisive thing in our plans.

 

                        3.         If we refuse to yield:

 

                                    a.         We will constantly struggle to evade God, His will, and direction for us.

 

                                    b.         We will compromise. (Ill. King Saul)

 

            B.        Believe the God accepts us, as we are and moves us His direction.

 

                        1.         Take care of sin immediately.

 

                        2.         Keep growing... nobody is a finished product until the enter glory or Jesus returns.

 

                        3.         Make the conscious choice to identify sin and say “no.”

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Monday, July 07, 2008

What does “Christian perfection” look like?

1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18

What does “Christian perfection” look like?



John Wesley – “Rejoice always in uninterrupted happiness in God. Pray without ceasing, which is the fruit of always rejoicing in the Lord. In everything give thanks, which is the fruit of both the former. THIS IS CHRISTIAN PERFECTION. Further than this we cannot go, and we need not stop short of it.”

 

I.         Jesus purchased our joy and righteousness.*

 

            A.        Joy and righteousness is ours through Jesus Christ.


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, [5] who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. [6] In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. [7] These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. [8] Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, [9] for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” [1 Peter 1:3 – 9]

 

                        1.         Joy is based on our standing in Jesus, not circumstances. [v 6]

 

                                    a.         In Jesus we have a “new birth” and a “living hope.” [v 4]

 

                                    b.         Suffering plays an important part in “proving” our faith. [v 7]


“RO 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. [22] This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [Romans 3:21]

 

                        2.         Righteousness is based on the work of Jesus Christ, not our work.

 

                                    a.         The keeping of the law implied the possibility of earning or deserving salvation.

 

                                    b.         Righteousness comes through one source: Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and coming again.

 

            B.        Joy killers:

 

                        1.         The desire to gratify the imagination.*

 

                                    a.         These are things that were never designed to satisfy the desire to gratify the immortal spirit.*


“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. [17] The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” [1 John 2:15 – 17]

 

                                    b.         The real trouble is that all the things we crave (want) outside of Jesus is false and will eventually let us down or betray us.

 

                        2.         Bitterness.*


“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” [Hebrews 12:15]

 

                                    a.         Bitterness is connected to missing the grace of God.

 

                                    b.         This affect can be both initially and eventually.

 

                        3.         “Looking for life in things that make you die.” [“Life begins at the cross” by the Alter Boys]

 

                                    a.         When we chase what is false, the end will always be bad.

 

                                    b.         We have so much to confuse us. We add so much to the exercise of religion. We become “smorgasbord” in our approach because we don’t know the Bible.

 

II.       Prayer is the breath of our spiritual life.*

 

            A.        Joy makes us want to be constantly in the presence of God.*

 

                        1.         “Sweet of hour of prayer” vs “pray without ceasing”

 

                                    a.         Someplace we get the idea that the presence of God is something we can enter and leave at will.

 

                                    b.         While at times we are invited into God’s presence for special times, such as church services, Bible reading, prayer... we are constantly in God’s presence!


“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” [Colossians 1:27]


“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, [22] set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” [2 Corinthians 1:21 – 22]

 

            B.        Of all our physical functions... (outside of our heart beating) breathing is the most critical (we die the quickest if this it denied).

 

                        1.         Spiritually, it works the same way... if we disconnect from God in prayer... we will cease to live spiritually.


[Ill. There is an octopus that changes color and is about the size of a golf ball. It is considered the most lethal creature on earth. If a person comes in contact with the octopus, death results in about four minutes and there is no known antidote. The problem is not the octopus, it is a deadly bacteria that grows on its skin. It works because it causes the body to stop breathing which causes cardiac arrest. Basically, its drowning without the water.]

 

                        2.         When you are in love with someone, there is a joy that fills you when you are around them... Joy that is real will compel us to be in the presence of God, constantly in prayer.

 

                                    a.         Here’s life: in Jesus Christ we are alive in the presence of God. There is joy and a desire to continue in that joy is expressed in prayer.

 

                                    b.         We breath spiritually in prayer.

 

III.      Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer.*

 

            A.        Thanksgiving in all circumstances?

 

                        1.         Suffering produces good things.


“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; [4] perseverance, character; and character, hope. [5] And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” [Romans 5:3 – 5]

 

                                    a.         This is contrary to our desire for comfort and ease.

 

                                    b.         Typically we see suffering as negative (even a curse).

 

                        2.         Suffering confirms relationship.


“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? [8] If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. [9] Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! [10] Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. [11] No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” [Hebrews 12:7 – 11]

 

                                    a.         Discipline is direction and training, not just punishment.

 

                                    b.         Hardship/suffering helps produce good things in us: holiness, righteousness, and peace.

 

            B         Notice that we are to give thanks IN all circumstances not FOR all circumstances.

 

                        1.         God wants us to maintain rejoicing, constant prayer, and thanksgiving regardless of the circumstances.

 

                                    a.         Nothing can separate us from the love of God. [see Romans 8:35 – 39]

 

                                    b.         If God is still around with His infinite love for us and we have not thrown away our confidence in the saving work and blood of Jesus Christ... Then regardless what circumstance we find ourselves in, we maintain joy, constant prayer, and thanksgiving.

 

                        2.         Pain is still pain.

 

                                    a.         Pain is very useful in teaching us and keeping us safe. (Ill. Hot stove...)

 

                                    b.         God uses the everyday grind, the natural painful parts of life, the inevitable wear and tear to teach us and point us in the way we should go.

 

IV.      What does this mean.

 

            A.        It can be a test.

 

                        1.         A “standard” is something that gives us an idea of what to expect and what is good.

 

                                    a.         Joy, constant prayer, and thanksgiving are the “standards” for the Christian life. They are the constant. They are the consistent marks. They are the expected outcomes.

 

                                    b.         If any of them are missing then something is wrong... in some cases very wrong.

 

                        2.         If something is wrong, then you need to change courses.

 

                                    a.         Navigating the Great Lakes was a very treacherous thing. Light houses were built to help ships navigate. Detailed maps were drawn showing the depth and dangers. Even adjustments to compasses were charted (to compensate for the heavy mineral deposits in the area). All intended to keep ships safe.

 

                                    b.         Still, they built the “widow’s walk” on houses. You can see them today, on top of the houses near the river... a walk way built on the roof so wives could go out and see if their husband’s ships were returning. If they didn’t see the ship, it meant it had gone down and they had probably lost their husband.

 

            B.        It can be necessary correction.

 

                        1.         Shipwrecks are terrible things... There is desperate work to stop the possible. There is frantic desire to avoid the inevitable. A shipwrecked life is a terrible thing.

 

                                    a.         Lives are uprooted and destroyed.

 

                                    b.         Families and churches are destroyed.

 

                        2.         It’s time to take an honest check on our bearings: joy, prayer, and thanksgiving.

 

                                    a.         If something is missing then you are off course. If you are off course then you are in danger.

 

                                    b.         Maybe you are hung up on jealousy, evil surmising (suppose without having evidence – Oxford), groundless or unreasonable suspicions, envy, resentment of past injuries or insults.

 

                        3.         Make the correction: repent... let God’s love and joy fill you again.

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