Sleeping when the Wind Blows…

1 Cor. 10:4 “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”

Sleeping when the Wind Blows…

Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a young man approached the farmer.

“Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when wind blows,” answered the boy.

Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The boy worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with his work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer rushed upstairs to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the boy and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!”

The boy rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”

Enraged by his response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot.

Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarps. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured.

Everything was tied down.

Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

MORAL:

When you’re prepared, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we secure ourselves against the storms of life
by grounding ourselves firmly in the Word of God. Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way?

2 Tim. 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Proverbs 20:24 – “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How can anyone understand his own way?”

Handling Suffering as a Christian…

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 4:13-15 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Handling Suffering as a Christian

The title of today’s challenge sounds a bit strange. And if you are not a ‘born again’ Christian you have no chance of understanding and accepting it. We live in a world where many teach that health, wealth, prosperity and the total absence of suffering brings fulfillment. And of course, our human nature totally agrees with that thought. There are even teachers professing to be ‘born again’ that teach the same. They teach that to experience otherwise reflects a weak faith or sin. While it can be a result of sin the scriptures never proclaim that if we suffer for the gospels sake it is a lack of faith. Actually, it is just the opposite.

When we are drawn to Jesus as our Savior and we dig into His word to find meaning for our lives and we hear that, “”Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Wow, that stops us dead in our tracks. Many, who never study and never grow from the milk of God’s word to being able to handle the meat of God’s word never even address this question.

Can it really be true? If I am to live for my Savior who died for me can I expect some level of persecution? The answer from scripture is a loud yes. If the world disliked and even hated Jesus and we profess what He professed then the world will not like us either. That’s a tough one to swallow. Like you my flesh prefers that people would like me. And what if I am experiencing zero persecution. Does that mean my spiritual priorities are not correct? Yes, that could be the case. Ouch! We can only know that by asking God to answer that question and then we must do something contrary to our human will. We must truly be open to the answer. Remember the answers to prayer are yes, no and wait. Yes, is not the only option God has. When I hear no or wait it does not mean that God did not answer my prayer.

There are promises in the word of God that don’t seem much like promises to many believers. Persecution is one of them. Scripture proclaims that all whose purpose of heart is to live godly lives in this present world shall (certainly) suffer persecution, as did their Lord. Maybe we contemplate such verses and think they should say something like, “And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall be appreciated for their goodness and rewarded with approval, good health and fortune while in this world.”

The Holy Spirit through Paul said to the Philippians, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” We probably would be more comfortable if that were to read, “For unto you it is given…not only to believe on him, but also to be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity.” But it doesn’t say that. Reading and allowing the Word of God to change our lives are two entirely different things. Are you a reader only? Ouch, another convicting question.

So why would I want to be open to persecution??? As noted in James we are in this life but for a short time. Our lives are but a vapor that comes and disappears quickly. Our time to serve our Lord is short. This time on earth is but a grain of sand on the beach in comparison to eternity. And if you are a believer you will spend eternity with God. There is also a judgment seat or awards ceremony for believers. The judgment seat is not to judge our sins that Jesus took care of but to award us for services rendered while on this earth. I would rather hear, ‘well done’, than to hear how I missed the prize or to hear a silence because of lack of commitment on my part while on this earth.

We are to serve out of obedience. Disobedience is viewed by God as a tragic sin. Check it out over and over in scripture in both the OT and the NT. God never accepts disobedience. Our sins are washed away by Jesus blood so my salvation is secure. While works cannot save us they are very important after being ‘born again’. Serving Jesus while on this earth is now or should now be my focus! And when done correctly it will bring some level of persecution.

Remember persecution comes in many different ways including verbal, lost friendships, physical punishment, lost job opportunities, etc. In America at least for now the verbal, peer pressure and life style issues are the greatest persecution we see. So maybe all is not lost with that slap in the face that you just received, literal or figurative. Pray and think before you allow your fleshly frustration to take over. It may be that you are doing exactly what you should be for His glory!!!!!

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The Marathon of Life…

Heb 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The Marathon of Life….

When a five-year-old starts school, it can be more than he or she bargained for.

It was the second morning of the kindergarten experience and Mom hears; “Do I have to go back?” Oops! An encore to this new experience was a little overwhelming. The rationale for not going, “Well, I already went yesterday.” We don’t have the heart to tell them there’s sixteen more years of this!” And off they go to day two, of year one, of sixteen more years!

The youngster is feeling overwhelmed, and they sure would have sunk if mom had tried to explain the educational marathon that lay ahead. They have no idea. But cheer up, they will make it. We did. And with only a few scars. We completed some level of education and we did it by taking one day at a time.

Life like our school experience is a series of challenges that seem overwhelming. Looking back it seems that school was the least of them. Maybe you’re facing one of those right now and it looks huge; a bombardment of responsibilities and it’s too much; stressful deadlines, trying to raise your children, trying to make your marriage work, facing a long medical marathon, digging out of that financial pit. And then you hear that on top of that to truly be content and fulfilled it requires you to live your life for Jesus Christ. Actually making Jesus Lord of your life brings all of the others into a whole new perspective but right now that may not be in view.

The Word of God offers us comfort and direction in these times. The OT like the NT offers examples of how we should respond. The following example is God offering direction to His people Israel in their time of need. And remember, God does not change down through the ages. He provides you and me direction today from the same values and truths that has been at mankind’s feet from square one. Unfortunately like our ancestors we are slow learners.

The setting is God readying His people to enter the Promised Land He had selected for them. There was one requirement. It required faith on their part to recognize that He would overcome the obstacles, regardless of the size. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Deuteronomy 7:17. “You may say to yourselves, these nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out? But do not be afraid.”

They were facing, as they entered the Promised Land, huge walled cities and barbaric tribes – overwhelming obstacles, overwhelming challenges. Of course the only reason they were perceived as overwhelming was because they were judging the outcome of tackling them to be as a result of their strengths and abilities. There truly was no way in the strength of their own that these obstacles could be overcome.

Deut 7:22 “Do not be terrified by them for the Lord your God is among you, and He’s a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little.”

Those same words of hope are from the same God we serve. Do you believe it? God will win this one with you and for you, but not in one great victory. The new student won’t be able to get their education completed in one day, or in one week. It’s going to be little by little, year by year. God’s plan for how we handle the overwhelming is the same. One at a time but all accomplished in His time and in His will. It is extremely important to remember that the answer to our need and prayer may not and most often do not line up with what our fleshly and finite minds picture it. At least that has been my experience. Why not? Because God said;

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

Maybe you’ve been wondering how you’ll ever beat some trial or sin that’s been beating you, or how you can carry out your desire to dedicate your whole life to Jesus. How to let Jesus be the Lord of that weakness in your life. How to have His priorities for your life and not let your flesh rule. Yes, even weak faith. Take it one day at a time. Today you can either have another twenty-four hour victory or defeat. The end result truly is mine to choose. You will not be able to dedicate your life to Jesus unless you do it by dedicating each new day.

Luke 9:23 “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

How is your faith this morning????

Have a great day committed to serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus!

Learn from our Lord’s truths recorded for us. The sad result of the whole generation of Israel at that time was that they all except two, Joshua and Caleb, died without going into the Promised Land because they chose to not believe that God was able. Their children were allowed to go in but not the adults who rejected God.

Obeying God…

Mat 16:24, 25 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Gen 6:22 “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did”

Obeying God…

Has there ever been a time in your life when you submitted to the Holy Spirit toward a lifetime of obedience to God?

The life of obedience is a life of following Christ. Once you commit your life to be one of obedience, you will still face choices to obey or disobey.

You will not always choose correctly, and you will not be without sin.

However, once you make the commitment to a lifetime of obedience, God will take that commitment and bend your heart in His direction.

Obedience, then, becomes a normal way in which you and I respond to the circumstances of life. Obedience becomes not merely a decision, but a lifestyle.

In Genesis 6, we read about God’s call for Noah to construct the ark. Yet

Noah’s compliance with that particular decision is not how Noah embodied obedience. It’s why we remember him, but Noah had already committed his life to walking with God. Verse 9 tells us that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”

Therefore, when Noah was presented with the decision to obey God and build an ark when rain was not just unexpected but literally foreign to the people and the terrain, he obeyed. Noah obeyed because he had, at some previous point, committed his life to be one of obedience unto his Lord.

Seven principles for learning to live a lifestyle of obedience include:

1) Learn to wait upon the Lord in prayer. If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything until God directs you-usually through a multitude of means, including His Word, the church, circumstances, and prayer.

2) Develop a love for the Word of God. This is God’s primary tool of speaking to us. As we learn to meditate on the Word of God, we will learn the ways of God.

3) Obeying God oftentimes means going against human reasoning. If we wait until we understand, we’ll never be obedient to God. He will never lead us in opposition to His Word, but He will sometimes lead us in opposition to our definition of common sense.

4) Realize that God will sometimes cause us to walk in the dark. He will sometimes call us to walk in a direction where we cannot see a clear path.

We can pray and argue all we want, but God will not always show us where we are going; He simply commands and waits for us to submit.

5) We must learn to expect struggles. Plainly, some things God will ask us to do; we just don’t want to do them. Sometimes we don’t want to obey because we’re afraid of failure. Understand that God never requires something of us that isn’t for our best and for His glory.

6) Realize that there’s no substitute for obedience.

7) Learn to leave all the consequences of our obedience to God.

The issue hasn’t changed with time. The issue is this: Is Jesus Christ worthy of your obedience, and has there ever come a time in your life where you said, “Lord, from this moment on, as a way of life or lifestyle, I choose to obey You no matter what”?

** Read the key passages and answer the questions below.

  1. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 15) What does God say are the rewards of obedience and the consequences of disobedience?
  2. (Genesis 12:1-3) Which one of the above principles applies to Abraham’s call from God?
  3. (1 Samuel 15:1-29) What does Samuel tell Saul that he did wrong?

What was the consequence of Saul’s action? What do you learn about God in this passage?

  1. As you read this, what did God bring to your mind in regards to something He is calling you to do?
  2. If you have not done it before, take this time to commit to God in prayer your desire to obey Him fully. If you do not have this desire, be honest. Ask Him to place it in your heart.

Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

The Future and Coming Events…

Phil 4:6, 7 “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The Future and Coming Events!

You now find yourself in a traffic jam on a main highway. And of course you are already running late.  (By the way in the book of Daniel it says that our pace will pick up in the latter days.) This is not supposed to happen. A moment ago, you were sailing along the Interstate. Now, as you inch along with hundreds of other cars, there’s bumper-to-bumper traffic as far as the eye can see. As your temperature rises you think about how this could have been avoided. If I had listened to the radio traffic report or if I had noticed the truckers taking off ramps for other routes.

It’s good to have inside information of what’s ahead for our lives, especially if it’s inside information on what’s ahead forever! You know, that eternity issue that is so very hard to visualize. If we only had some solid intelligence on what’s on the other side of the day we die, we’d know what road to take and what road to avoid. Thankfully, God hasn’t left us in the dark about what’s ahead.

In fact, Jesus gave us a dramatic, sobering report from someone who ended up on the wrong road. It’s the story of a beggar named Lazarus, who actually goes to heaven when he dies and a rich man who ends up in hell. Did you know that in scripture Jesus talks more about hell more than He talked about heaven? Maybe because He knows we wouldn’t want to believe it.

In Luke 16, beginning with verse 23, the Bible says, “In hell, where the rich man was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'” The answer in vs. 29-31, “Abraham saith unto him, they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, no, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Rather than guessing about what hell may hold we do have scripture to tell enough to hopefully awaken us to think about our eternal destiny and the destiny and friends, family and neighbors around us who may not have heard or accepted the gospel. There are no second chances, no relief if we ignore the gospel, no water to quench the fire. But God never meant for any of us to go there. Hell was prepared for Satan and his demons, but hell is the eternal death penalty for those who defy God and run their own lives. God had every right to just leave us condemned. But instead, because of His awesome love for us, He sent His one and only Son to take that death penalty for our sins when He died on the cross. Jesus experienced hell so we don’t ever have to.

God sends no one to hell. We do that by our choice to accept or reject Jesus and the sacrifice He paid for our sins. If there is one decision or choice where anxiety is appropriate it would that question. Where are you going when you die and based on what?

Don’t risk another day without Jesus as your Saviour.

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Matthew 6:33,34 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

The 10 Commandments….

Exodus 20:2a-6 “I am the Lord your God…

  • “You shall have no other gods before
  • “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The 10 Commandments….

When you hear of someone worshipping an Idol you usually picture some statue with people praying to it and even making offerings to it. So when you are asked if you worship idols you immediately think that you are not in with those folks.  You see yourself as being good at least on the first two commandments of God having to do with idol worship. If we truly are keeping the first two then the other eight noted below should be easy. But if you are breaking the first two then the next eight are usually a product of that sin of idolatry. Look at them and you will see that if you are worshipping anything, person or statue and not worshipping God then breaking the other eight automatically in process. And remember that says we can sin with the mind as well as our hands. An example is anger. We can murder with the mind, commit adultery with the mind and sadly so it goes.

  • “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  • “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  • “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
  • “You shall not murder.
  • “You shall not commit adultery.
  • “You shall not steal.
  • “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

So, the real question is whether idolatry is simply the worship of some statue or can it be the worship of other items or people including self. A preacher some 300 years ago gave the following list of 7 questions as a test to folks to see if they were worshipping idols. When you read it you will see that our nature or humanity is the same today as it was then so the test is as relevant today as it was then. I have added the verses that help me on each question and hopefully you also.

  1. What are you most disappointed with right now?
    1. Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
  2. What do you sacrifice your time and money for?
    1. Mat 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”
  3. What do you worry about? What scares you?
    1. 2 Tim 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
    2. Mat 6:33-34 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
  4. Where do you go when you hurt?
    1. Mat 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  5. What makes you mad? The following is an example of righteous anger…..
    1. Mark 11:15 “So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.”
  6. What brings you the most joy?
    1. Romans 14:17-19 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
  7. Whose applause do you long for?
    1. 2 Tim 4:7-8 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

 

So, how did you do on the quiz? And if you did not like some of your answers what are you going to do about it?

 

I John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

 

It’s never too late to change your worship patterns.

 

Heb 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Who do you Idolize…

I Cor 1:11-13 “For it has been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

Who do you Idolize…?

One of the quickest ways to fall away from your walk with the Lord is to put too much emphasis on a man or woman of God. God uses human instruments to plant the seeds of salvation. He uses human instruments to disciple us and help us grow in our faith. He uses human instruments to impact our spiritual lives. In a society that is prone to idolize others, such as entertainers, athletes, and successful people, we tend to elevate our leaders as well; i.e., we tend to place our pastors and Christian leaders on pedestals they don’t belong on. Our eyes must be focused on the Lord, and our emphasis on His Word.

–Dennis & Rauni Higley

The question for this morning is; “who or what is the source of your affections for the blessings & challenges you receive?”

One of the quickest ways to get into spiritual trouble is to start giving credit for things that happen in my life or to those around me to someone other than God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Note the verses above from I Corinthians. The church at Corinth found itself worshipping men rather than our Savior Jesus. If not careful we can fall to the same problem. Think about it for a minute.

When was the last time you gave credit for a powerful message to the speaker? It’s the same as giving the credit for the books of the Bible to the scribes rather than the Author. Did the Holy Spirit author them or was it Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, etc? The scribes or messengers are blessed in that God allowed them to be used to pass on His truths, but they understand that the message of the scriptures is from God and not from them.

II Peter 1:20, 21 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Be extremely careful who you give the credit to for the blessings and challenges of your life. Our God requires our whole being to worship Him and only Him!

Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”