KNOWING GROWING GOING
SEPTEMBER 14th and 21st
Sunday, September 14, 2014
The Audacity of Hope
Psalm 31: 23-24
Romans 5: 1-5
Matthew 17: 14-21
We humans are fickle. We lope along quite happy and content with our lives until something unexpected comes along. Life is good, for the most part, as long as nothing “abnormal” steps up to greet us. When life throws us a curve ball all that has carried us through so far becomes inadequate to deal with what we might be facing. Our happiness and contentedness are contingent on making sure that the preverbal apple cart is not overturned.
When faced with any kind of crisis we panic and all our resources and coping mechanisms fall short of sustaining us. When suffering is added to our happy and contented lives we lose hope, we lose confidence, we lose faith, and life loses meaning. Happiness and contentedness are replaced with despair and discouragement. People of faith are not immune. When our faith is tested we find out quickly whether or not we have a firm foundation. We can question God, we can be angry, we can be discouraged but we should never lose hope. The hope we hope never gets lost is given to us by God and His grace and with this grace comes faith and with both we find that we can stand firm no matter what assails. But that’s not all. We can rejoice in “the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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: 2b-5 NIV).
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Because our hope is in God and God‘s love is with-in us we can have audacity, fortitude, strength, courage, determination and hope that can sometimes move the mountains that seem to spring up in front of us, or, climb the mountains that are immoveable.
Moving, or climbing, mountains is a formidable task. Standing at the bottom and looking up all one can see is mountain. Being overwhelmed by what lies before us can weaken even the most resolute and we begin to question all that is within. When faced with such enormity we realize what is within is housed in jars of clay, stored in earthen vessels (II Corin. 4:7) and are prone to crack and break. We begin to understand that life is fragile and must be handled with the greatest care, especially when facing a steep climb over unfamiliar terrain, perilous cliffs, and sheer drop offs. Suddenly the cramped quarters within these jars of clay become stuffed with fear, anxiety, doubt, anger, dread and panic. Realizing how little room is left within these earthen vessels, they begin to groan and stress, threatening to crack and break, quickly moving us from sure confidence to a pile of broken and cracked pots.
All that has kept our pots from breaking seems so inadequate as we are faced with obstacles never before faced or ones that have been faced before but hoped would never be faced again. Despair and despondency settle in over the mountain we are facing like the cloudy fingers of a raging storm and endanger our weakening and straining vessel.
The apostle Paul cried out “O wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death” (Romans 7:24) while vacillating back and forth as his spirit and body wavered when threatened by the daunting task of mountain climbing. Paul knew the dangers of mountain climbing but undertook the challenge knowing that he could make the climb because he had faith in God. Paul understood that he, too, was made from the dust of the earth and disposed to despondency, despair and discouragement. But he was able to accommodate all the wretchedness of his trials and obstacles (II Corin. 11:23ff). When Paul decried his wretchedness, he was showing us that even when we are faced with the most miserable suffering imaginable we can get through it, or over it, if we will allow God’s grace to be sufficient for our every need (II Corin. 12:9). Paul has the audacity to proclaim that we should rejoice in our sufferings, our misery, our afflictions and our anguish because they produce perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:3-4) and when facing an unmovable mountain these are what we need.
When faced with our own suffering and misery, we need to re-claim the audaciousness of hope. The audacity to shake our fist in the face of suffering and affliction and cry with a passion and a determination that we will dare to hope that God’s grace is truly sufficient in our suffering and believe, not only what lies within, but Who is within us.
Suffering is universal. Faith is not. When faced with suffering, misery and afflictions, those who have faith have hope and those who have hope have Christ.
So how do all these pieces fit together –
Our being justified by faith,
And now our hope,
How do all these help us live
Audacious lives for God?
Psalm 31: 23-24
Two things are immediately clear in these verses
As to HOW we can live Audacious lives for God:
Oh, Love the Lord, you His saints!
For the Lord preserves the faithful
Always, Always, Always,
Put God first!
Exodus 20: 3 =
You shall have no other gods before Me!
This is the first and greatest commandment!
It is a command!
Not an option!
You may not be “worshipping” other “gods”
Like the Israelites did,
But we have replaced God
With all the worldly,
And finite things of this world,
Things that break,
Can be stolen,
Or lost –
Things that won’t last!
In Matthew 6
Jesus tells us straight up –
Don’t worry about your life,
What you will eat or drink,
Nor about your body,
What you will put on.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Seek first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness,
And all these things shall be given to you!
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
You say you trust God,
Remember from last week,
Prove your faith!
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.
There are over 365 verses
That say those same words
In some shape or fashion
Throughout the Bible.
Be of good courage,
Do not be afraid,
Be strong in the Lord,
For every day of the year!
And by being of good courage,
God will give you all you need to strengthen your resolve,
AND your heart,
So that you can face whatever
Comes your way.
Put your hope in Him
And He will strengthen your heart!
So I brought him to Your disciples,
But they could not cure him.
O faithless and perverse generation. . . .
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
“Why could we not cast it out?”
Because of your unbelief. . . .
A little caveat here,
Be very careful how you approach this part of your faith.
You may want the mountain removed,
But God may require you to climb it,
Or go around it,
Or possibly dig through it
Or He may simply remove it.
This is really the time and place to say,
Not my will, but Your will be done!
So the third thing we need to do as
We struggle to live
Audacious lives for God is:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Mark 9: 23
“If you can believe,
All things are possible to those who believes.”
The fourth thing we need to do
To live Audacious lives for God is:
Putting God first,
Being strong and courageous,
And believing with all your heart,
Are all rather pointless of you don’t expect them to happen –
HOPE means having a favorable and confident expectation of fulfillment!
Romans 5: 5
Now hope does not disappoint,
Because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
By the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Read Romans 8: 31-39
Those who have faith have hope and those who have hope have Christ.
And those who have Christ,
Are audacious –
They are bold, daring,
Characters for God!
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Get a Grip!!
(Adapted from Charles Hummel, Tyranny of the Urgent and Charles Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip)
Proverbs 28: 1
I Thessalonians 2: 1-13
Matthew 28: 16-20
In his booklet, The Tyranny of the Urgent, Charles Hummel makes this statement – more a warning than a mere statement – Don’t let the urgent take the place of the important in your life. Those things which we earnestly believe to be “Urgent” are all those things which make the most noise and demand our immediate attention. While the “Important” in our lives is usually quiet and stays in the background waiting to be noticed above all the noise, clamor and distractions of the urgent.
The tragedy, says Charles Swindoll in his book, Strengthening Your Grip, is this: while you and I are putting out the fires of the urgent, the important was left again in a holding pattern.
Take a moment right now and think about all the important things in your life. Begin to name them quietly in your head.
Now take a moment to think about the urgent in your life. Begin to name them quietly in your head.
Are they the same things? Family, friends, home, school, work, church = all are important, but are any of them demanding to be labeled “urgent” and if so, why!
When the important in our lives becomes the urgent, our priorities are out of balance.
The urgent changes our perception of the important. Here’s an example: You decided to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock. You do it several times. Then all of a sudden you jump out of bed, and frantically begin your day. You soon realize that your young school age children are still in bed. You yell at them to get up NOW!!! As your day starts off on the wrong foot, so does theirs. They come out of their rooms in miss-matched, wrinkled and dirty clothes. You get angry at them, they get sullen and hateful, you get even angrier and threaten them with no breakfast, and being grounded – you get the picture – it escalates to the urgent and the important gets left behind. What changed here? What made the important become the urgent?
You have been blessed with a home and children and a job,
Yet by making these “things,”
And they all become “things!”
The important now becomes the urgent.
You’ve all heard the phrase,
Stupidly on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!
We can change that a little bit to fit here:
The urgent on your part does not constitute the important on my part!
Gary Smalley says,
That people, places, and things are the gifts of life,
Not the source of life.
The gifts we have been given by God are truly gifts!
They are to be cherished, cared for, nourished, loved!
When they become the urgent, they just become things –
Things that are prone to manipulation, relegation, and stipulation!
Things that are deemphasized, demoralized, and departmentalized!
Things that are ejected, neglected, and rejected.
You get the point!
And what we do in our personal lives,
Very often overflows into our public and corporate lives.
What we are at home,
Translates to what, and who, we are away from home.
When the Tyranny of the Urgent grabs us at home,
It won’t let us go when we leave home – we bring it with us!
So the work place, the gym, the restaurant, the grocery store,
The doctors office,
Anywhere you go,
If the urgent has supplanted the important,
Everything becomes urgent!
That includes the church!
When the urgent invades the church,
The important is no longer important!
God, like our children, our spouses, family, friends, co-workers,
Becomes just another “thing” in our tyrannically infested lives!
So how do we overcome the Tyranny of the Urgent
And gain a better perspective on the important in our lives?
And in the church?
There are 4 priorities for making the important, important:
Be bold and be biblical!
Proverbs 28: 1 –
But the righteous are as bold as a lion!
And I’m not lyin’ when I say this -
Get a grip!!
Hold on tight!!
Be bold in your faith!
Isaiah 35: 3 says,
Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees!
Say to those who are fearful,
Be strong, do not fear,
God is with you wherever you go,
And with you whatever you do!
Romans 8: 15-16,
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,
But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,
The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God,
And if children, then heirs – heirs of God
And joint heirs with Christ.
And Paul tells Timothy in his letter,
God has not given us a spirit of fear,
But of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Therefore do not be ashamed of your calling in Christ Jesus.
Be bold in your faith – it’s filled with power, love, and of a sound and peaceful mind
But don’t be foolishly bold,
Be Biblical in your boldness!!
I Thessalonians 2 –
Read verses 1-6
Look at the words and phrases Paul uses here,
In the midst of the Tyranny of the Urgent that was crushing in on Paul,
He, they, suffered and were spitefully treated,
In much conflict. . . .
Paul remained focused on the important –
That of being Biblical in his boldness:
We were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God. . . .
But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel,
Even so we speak. . . .
Paul understood that the word of God,
The Gospel – the good news –
Was entrusted to him –
Entrust : to put in the charge of another for care, use, or performance.
Being bold and being Biblical for Paul,
Was a trust from God,
He was living, working, acting,
On God’s behalf –
He became God’s spokesman.
And Paul took that calling seriously –
It became the most important aspect of his life,
And put his life in perspective,
And helped him live with all the right priorities!
The Second Priority is:
Be authentic and amicable!
Read verses 5-6
Paul was authentic, he was real.
He didn’t wear a mask, he was not pretentious.
He let himself be vulnerable before God and others.
Paul did not capitalize on his being “an apostle”
On the contrary, he did everything he could to get rid of labels.
Paul did not seek the “limelight”
Or to be applauded my men,
He did not abuse his power or his authority.
He used it only when God told him to use it!
Charles Swindoll points this out in his book, Strengthening Your Grip,
Bible scholars point out that the New Testament concept of authority as expressed in the Greek word for authority does not have the connotation of jurisdiction over the lives of others. Rather, it is the authority of truth, the authority of wisdom and experience which can be evidenced in a leader who is held up as a special example, who can commend themselves “to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
Paul was this kind of man in his calling as a child of God first,
And then as God’s apostle.
Paul remembered who he was because he remembered whose he was –
He was a new creation in Christ Jesus,
Created in Christ for good works!
Someone has described authentic by suggesting three things “authentic”
It’s not imaginary,
It’s not false,
It’s not an imitation.
In today’s vernacular
We would say that an “authentic” person
Is not phony!
Being authentic means that we are free to question,
To admit failure and weakness,
To confess wrongs,
And to declare the truth.
When we become authentic,
We learn that we don’t have to win,
Or always be first,
Or make a big impression,
Or look and act pious and overtly devout!
We can be who we are in Christ,
Simply, quietly, contentedly, peacefully.
When we are authentic,
We are amicable =
Of or befitting a friend or friends : friendly, neighborly, warmhearted
Ephesians 4: 31-32
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking
Be put away from you, and be kind to one another,
Tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
Even as God has forgiven you.
Colossians 3: 12-17
People who live authentic and amicable lives usually enjoy life more than most,
Mostly because they don’t take themselves very seriously.
They laugh and cry more freely because they have nothing to hide
And nothing to prove.
Be bold and biblical;
Be authentic and amicable –
Both will help you get a better grip on life,
And for sure, a better grip on God!
Next week we’ll investigate being
Gracious and good-natured
Relevant and relational.