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below are listed 5 sermons on "Issues of Life"

"MARRIAGE!"

TEXTS: Gen. 2:18-25 Heb. 13:4 Prov. 5:15-23; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; 1 Cor. 7:1O-17

INTRO: One woman’s response to why she had a happy marriage on her 50th wedding anniversary was this: On her wedding day she decided to make a list of ten of her husband’s faults that she would be willing to forgive or overlook for the sake of their marriage. A guest asked her to share some of those ten things ... this was her response: "To tell you the truth, I never did finish the list ... but whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad I would say to myself, "Lucky for him that that was one of the 10!" – Source Unknown

Marriage is never completely smooth or easy! But it can be a blessing when some of the God created dynamics is adhered to: Some important "rules" are necessary for healthy marriages...

a. There must be both give & take ... even God who loves everyone won't allow everyone to go to heaven unless the sinner responds by giving himself back to God in love!

b. Like a narrow bridge ... there will be fewer "collisions" if there is a yield sign on BOTH sides of the bridge!

c. Accepting forgiveness and giving it will be an absolute to keep going!

d. Like a building … it never gets built without workers, good marriages don't just happen ... they are built; and if you use rotten stuff to build with the possibilities are greater for collapse later!

e. While a marriage might be made in heaven ... we are responsible for the maintenance on earth!

PROP. SENT: Marriage is an honorable institution, the most basic and most important framework for society and for human health; spiritually, physically, and psycho­logically!

I. MARRIAGE BOND Gen. 2:18-25 Heb. 13:4a

A. Pleasant! Gen. 2:18,23 Heb. 13:4a

1. It is an honorable creation ... part of the "VERY GOOD" that God pronounced about His work of creation!

2. Unless someone is gifted by God to remain single, marriage is the natural state that God planned for the human race! (Male & Female were brought together by God; there was no other combination God ever made!)

3. It is noteworthy that God noticed Adam was not as happy as he could be ... giving Eve to Adam was God's desire to create in Adam an even greater joy! The statement by God, “It is not good for the man to be alone” clearly identifies that God knew something more was needed for a greater capacity in Adam.

a. Marriage therefore has this capacity ... to bring great joy!

b. God realized Adam needed something besides even God!

c. A wife for Adam was a "GOOD THING" in God’s pronunciation.

d. Notice in Proverbs 18:22 "He who findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord"

(1. It should be noticed that God added “favor” to those who finds a wife!

(2. This was a relationship of ONE MAN … with ONE WOMAN where it is stated that they “obtain favor from the Lord.”

e. Sorrows could be divided ... their joys would be multiplied!

4. It was God who created Eve for Adam so Adam's full humanity could be blessed!

5. Marriage is intended by God to be a pleasant reality between a man and a woman!

a. This is the ONLY model God Himself sanctioned or created in the Bible.

b. All other forms or distortions of this, including the polygamous relationships of many spouses in the Old Testament was about what man did to the institution, not what God declared or created.

c. It might be noted that any deviation from the “created” order by God has never served well one or the other/s in the relationship.

B. Powerful Gen. 2:20-23

1. Rather than start from scratch again ... God creates Eve right from Adam's own body to create a powerful bond between them, not just a psychological bond but an actual physical and spiritual one as well! "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

2. Hence the power in the sexual relationship within marriage ... it creates a powerful physical bond between husband and wife and thus there is great damage if it is violated by either party! Also, physically God made the man and the woman to sexually “compliment” each other; created for union with each other physically and in every way.

3. Adam understood this powerful dynamic as soon as he awoke ... this woman created by God was not just another creature that God would parade by him to be named … it was "BONE OF HIS BONE ... FLESH OF HIS FLESH!"

4. Adam could not look at Eve like any other part of creation that had been made apart from him! This bond was powerful and real!

5. God plays out the role of "BEST MAN" by bringing Eve to Adam for the ceremony of bonding! God presided at the first wedding – “and he brought her to the man.”

6. God takes great delight in loving marriages ... so much so that Jesus often used the “husband and wife” metaphor as did other New Testament writers to express God's love for His church!

7. Adam's first word when he woke up and saw Eve was in the Hebrew tongue a demonstrative adverb that can loosely be translated, "WOW!" (Translated in the KJV and most translations simply as "This is...") In a more loosely translated statement it would read, "WOW, BONE OF MY BONE, FLESH OF MY FLESH."

a. She was a pleasant sight to behold – the “WOW” factor!

b. And he was excited – the “WOW” factor!

c. It was powerful – the “WOW” factor!

C. Permanent! Gen. 2:24-25

1. God's ideal was for marriage to be a permanent relationship once entered into!

2. Not only this, but God's plan also intended for the new couple to get OUT from under dad and mom ... to leave them!

a. Not just in a physical sense ... there is also a sphere of authority ... to establish a new unit of authority!

b. Not meant to be a bad thing ... it was meant to be a “good thing!”

3. The union was to be a lasting one between husband and wife (male and female)!

5. God hates divorce ... Malachi 2:16a “I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel…” simply because it is not part of God's design for a man and woman, but GOD DOES NOT HATE “DIVORCED PEOPLE,” HE HATES DIVORCE because of the pain and damage it brings to all those affected by it!

a. There is healing for those whose lives have been damaged in this way.

b. God can restore broken lives … again, it is not the “divorced people” God hates; it is what happens to people who go through a divorce that God hates.

6. We should view marriage as God does ... thus take it seriously and to be cautious before the commitment is made ... and once made, do our best to make it permanent!

II. MARRIAGE BED Prov. 5:15-23 Heb. 13:4b

A. Private Prov. 5:15-17 Heb. 13:4b

1. "Marriage bed is to be kept pure!" Heb. 13:4b

a. This is a straight-forward command here about sexual purity!

b. The deeper the wound the longer the time required for complete healing ... sexual sins goes deep, it affects the entire being; body, mind, and soul! Therefore this sin is very painful and deep!

c. Solomon's words about marriage in Prov. 5:15 are very clear ... "DRINK FROM YOUR OWN CISTERN!"

2. Not only does Solomon clearly state that the sexual relationship is to be limited to only your spouse ...

a. Unlike great food recipes ... sexual recipes in a marriage should be private and not shared with others, even by word!b. Maybe that's why we call sexual organs "private parts!"

3. Keep the secrets of your love life ... and don't compare notes with others!

B. Pleasurable! Prov. 5:18-19

1. You can't miss the sense of joy in Solomon's words to enjoy each other!

2. Sex in marriage in neither disgusting nor dirty ... it is desirable and delightful!

3. And that's all I will say about this (with a smile on my face!)

C. Price! Prov. 5:20-23

1. Solomon adds to this passage the heavy price paid by those who stray from this purity.

2. Misery is the result of those who choose to ignore this exclusive relationship!

3. Verse 23 takes on a very literal meaning in light of today's problems with venereal diseases!

a. Physical disease however is not the only pain...

b. There is also loss of trust.

c. Emotional scars and deep wounds that take time and great effort to heal!

4. Those few moments of physical pleasure have a huge price tag attached to them that most in moments of honesty will later admit are not worth the price!

ILLUS: In 1982 ABC "evening news" reported on an unusual work of modern art that stirred great controversy. It was a chair fixed to a shotgun, to be viewed by the individual by sitting in the chair looking straight down the barrel of the gun ... to add an even more bizarre twist to this "piece of artwork" the "artist?" had attached a timer on the gun and put live rounds of ammunition in the gun barrel ... the timer was set to go off sometime within the next 100 years ... but unknown by everyone except the artist! The most ironic thing happened when the gallery was open to the public ... people waited in huge lines to get a chance to sit in this chair and stare into the barrel of the gun knowing the real danger ... each person was allowed only 1 minute in the chair! People by the scores were foolish enough to do this ... assuming of course that their chances were slim for the gun to go off ... yet people do this all the time with sexual sin ... and sure enough they discover the tragedy of those few minutes with sin ... great destruction! – Source Unknown

5. How much better to follow God's plan and be free of both guilt and pain, aside from being free from more than a dozen venereal diseases and emotional trauma!

III. MARRIAGE BEHAVIOR! 1 Cor. 7:10-17; 1 Pet. 3:1-7

A. Peace! 1 Cor. 7:10-17

1. Paul's message to a church of imperfect saints at Corinth included the following advice on marriage: PEACE!

2. Divorce was to be avoided IF possible!

3. If not possible (continued sexual infidelity (adultery) or perhaps physical abuse that was ongoing) ... then those departing the relationship were to seek staying single or reconcile if possible later! (1 Cor. 7:11)

a. The other possible problems come in where a believer is married to the unbeliever and here Paul is clear to state that the believer should not seek the divorce...

b. Only if the unbeliever chooses to end the marriage is the believer free ... but they need to know in their heart that they sought a "PEACEFUL" re­lationship together with them first!

4. Living peaceably with the unbeliever may have a sanctifying affect upon their unsaved partner that could lead to their salvation ... and so as much as is possible for the believer they must seek a peaceful lifestyle with their spouse who is an unbeliever!

5. If the unbelieving spouse allows no possible marriage and seeks divorce, only then can the believer know they are free!

a. This is not a call for the believer to make the unbeliever as miserable as they can in the hopes they will divorce them either!

b. Nor is this a call to ram Christianity down their throats or threaten them if they don't receive Christ!

7. For those who have entered into the Kingdom following a previous divorce situation Paul's message is clear in 1 Cor. 7:17 "Retain the place in life that the Lord ... called them in."

8. See also 1 Cor. 7:21 for the same basic idea!

9. Thus the believer's role in a marriage is clear ... to seek peace as much as is possible to the believer … and honoring God's design on marriage!

10. If the unbelieving spouse destroys or seeks divorce then the believer's conscience and position will be much more peaceful and God will not hold them under bondage should they refuse to stay!

B. Purity! 1 Pet. 3:1-7

1. Peter joins in on this teaching by admonishing basically the same thing ... stressing the purity of motive and methods of the believer in their behavior in an uneven marriage!

2. If anything, Peter encourages the believer to forgo preaching to their spouse and instead encourages their living a pure heart out in action!

a. A good example of the old adage: "action speaks louder than words."

b. It makes little sense to argue or guilt someone into the kingdom ... it doesn't usually work!

c. But just as "the goodness of God leads men to repentance" so can the pure behavior of a godly attitude lead an unbelieving spouse to the Lord!

3. The whole concept of Peter's use of the term "SUBMISSIVE" and "WEAKER" has NO force of "INFERIOR" or "SLAVERY!"

a. It only means "YIELDING" ... seeking the others best welfare!

b. And the "WEAKER VESSEL" is simply a metaphor recognizing the female's smaller physical size and physical strength as compared generally to a male's physique!

c. Peter was NOT "down" on women!

4. The point of the passage is purity of motives and actions ... being led by and controlled by God's Spirit verses our own will and desires!

5. Peter adds that this purity can affect our prayer lives! 1 Pet. 3:7!

a. A great passage affirming the great truth of 1 John's teaching on how our horizontal relationships affect our vertical one with God!

b. They are intertwined in the believer's life!

6. A clear and powerful prayer life comes to those who are right with their fellow man!

7. So often the unbelieving spouse wants so bad to "clean up" the spouse first!

ILLUS: Guy buys his kids a used fish tank for their 4 new goldfish. Takes it home and cleans it up real good ... the next day the fish die! He discovers that you are NEVER to use soap in cleaning a fish tank because the toxic material in the soap stays on the glass and thus kills the fish later! By trying to give the fish a clean environment he killed them ... good intentions ... bad choice of cleaning procedures! – Source Unknown

8. Instead of trying to make your spouse get saved ... act saved and let God do the cleaning work on them ... your job is not to clean them ... just live clean yourself!

9. You have to catch a fish before you clean them! Ask any fisherman!

CONCLUSION: God's first and most basic spiritual and social institution is marriage! While the word mocks it and tries redefining it ... and Satan seeks to destroy it, God's people should hold it up in high honor! Marriage is a gift from God between one man and one woman and it should be treated like a precious gift!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Great Issues Of Life” Series #2

"MONEY!"

TEXT: Heb. 13:5-6; Luke 16:1-15

INTRO: What percentage of our lives is touched by money? What areas of our lives are impacted by money? Really, is there anything in our lives that is not somehow affected by money? When you understand this truth you will realize why Jesus spoke so much about money, its power, its usefulness, and its dangers.

Jesus actually spoke more than twice as much about money than He did the subjects of Heaven and Hell combined!!

Look at all the areas of our lives touched by money:

a. Food

b. Clothing

c. Shelter

d. Vehicles – travel

e. To some extent, even our friends ... we tend to be around the people who are in the same social-economic level as us!

f. Education level

g. Our hobbies

h. Our vacations ... or lack of them!

i. The size of our families

j. The way we celebrate just about anything!

k. The type of jobs we look for

l. Community involvement

m. Our exercise ... recreational activities

n. Our politics

o. Our utilities

p. Our church ... and religion in general!

PROP. SENT: Money impacts every area of our life ... even our spiritual life, therefore, God calls us to be good stewards of everything material we receive in life ... proper use of "things" can make or break our spiritual life!

I. ACCOUNTABILITY REAL! Luke 16:1-2

A. Cavalier! Luke 16:1

1. The role of a manager is introduced:

a. He owned nothing ... but managed everything owned by someone else!

b. Through management he was allowed to earn for himself some profits.

c. He could waste the profits or invest them...

2. This manager had taken the attitude of "I'll enjoy life now and worry about tomorrow sometime tomorrow!"

a. He had used up his profits about as fast as he had gained them, the story indicates clearly that he had no reserves personally himself … obvious from the fact that he does not pay back what he had misused; instead he restructures the master’s loans so that he as the manager no longer receives any interest. If he had money he could have paid off the master otherwise.

b. He basically was living to have a good time at the moment.

c. He was about to be fired because of his cavalier lifestyle ... why?

(1. Because others might not be as trusting with the master's resources having a manager with these qualities!

(2. It could hurt the owner’s business with a manager who had this attitude!

3. Thus he was called to account for his actions ... something all of us will be called to at some point!

a. After all ... we all are only managers ... we really own nothing, only God owns everything!

b. While we are allowed to profit from the use of God's things we still must realize we will be accountable for how we use those things!

c. Short-term use of things are not wise ... a longer plan should be in view!

ILLUS: A January 15th, 1989 article ran this story: A family living in a West Palm Beach home in Florida gave permission to have their home used in a TV show called, “B.L. STRYKER” … one scene involved the blowing up of the front yard, violent crashes of cars on the property, etc. Just in the nick of time however someone discovered that the family giving permission were only renting the house ... it was owned by someone in New York who put a stop to the plans! The couple renting thought it would be great fun ... but not the owner of the house! You can guess how well the owners felt about their tenants after this! – Source Unknown

B. Consequences Luke 16:2

1. He was called in ... the time came for accountability, it always will!

2. The way we live will tend to be the way we die!

ILLUS: When Pompeii was being excavated years ago the discovering of many perfectly preserved bodies were found frozen in lava, it had even preserved the expressions on the faces of those who were entombed alive from Mount Vesuvius' eruption. People were frozen in positions of trying to flee ... except one woman who was found turned toward the volcano ... her hand clutching for a string of pearls, considered too precious and costly to leave behind! The consequence for this pause was death ... she took her pearls with her ... but they cost her life! – Source Unknown

3. Poor stewardship can cause us to lose our management position, and our future stability!

4. There are real consequences to poor stewardship!

II. ACTION REQUIRED! Luke 16:3-7

A. Choices! Luke 16:3

1. Eventually ... one must face the choices they make, when poor stewardship has been practiced!

a. The man had several choices:

(1. Heavy manual labor ... however, he was in no shape to do this from his earlier frivolous lifestyle or his age! “I'm not strong enough to dig,”

(2. Or begging, which he was too ashamed to do! “and I'm ashamed to beg.”

(3. Or correct the error in such a way as to redeem his reputation and regain favor!

b. The man had skirted the letter of the law when making loans by writing notes that added interest without calling it interest, a common practice of the day among Jewish business deals done by such managers. This was usually how they earned their own living. Here’s how it worked:

(1. For example ... someone borrows 80 bushels of grain, as manager you write the loan out for 100 bushels but don't note the 20 bushels to the Master, it is interest that you as manager keep in the deal; so the borrower gets a note for 100 bushels owed, the manager pockets the 20 while loaning out from his master the 80! This way the master is only out 80 bushels, and the manager has made money by keeping the 20 that is paid back, his salary. Depending on the value of type of produce the amounts considered as “salary” money for the manager varied … wheat was considered more valuable than olive oil; hence the differences in the amount above the actual deal.

(2. This was the only way around the letter of the law that did not permit a Jewish brother to charge other Jews usury.

(3. They rationalized it this way: God only intended to not charge usury to the poor, thus those who were not poor could pay for the loan note ... but in one sum amount, not compounded interest payments.

(4. Most everybody accepted the practice as is evidence by the fact that these positions of "managers" existed ... that was how managers earned their living!

c. What will the man do? He faced a difficult choice ... to do the right thing by honoring the law ... or life without hope!

B. Comprehensive Luke 16:4-7

1. The manager reasons that the only GOOD way out was to be comprehensive with his solution ... to obey the law of the land although changing the loans ... with the hope that this might allow him either restoration on the job ... or at least compassion by those who borrowed so he might be cared for if the master followed through and fired him!

2. He begins by going to those he had made the loans with and rewriting the loans so that they are minus the one time interest payment that he was allowed to keep! Also cutting the loans owed to the master would ingratiate those who borrowed through him, that way they would feel sorry for him if he was fired – and removing the “interest” payment did not cost the master any loss – he would still get back the original amount borrowed, so this would assuage the anger of the master!

a. Notice the change in perspectives in the manager now:

(1. Before, his passion was living for the moment!

(2. Now his plan takes on the following: "I KNOW WHAT I'LL DO SO THAT IF I LOSE MY JOB HERE PEOPLE WILL WELCOME ME INTO THEIR HOUSES!"

(3. He has now developed a "future" mindset ... planning for tomorrow ... this includes helping people -- knowing that when he needs help it will be there for him too!

(4. The situation has refocused his priorities!

(5. Profit starts to give way to people and his own future need!

b. Two examples are shared as to how he plans now for his future!

(1. One man who owed 800 gallons of olive oil had his loan remade for only 400 gallons – the actual amount borrowed from the master, the other 400 gallons was the cutback the manager would normally get. (Olive oil was easily diluted by other liquids so the "interest" charge was usually higher ... the amount equaled about 450 olive trees!)

(a. The extra 400 gallons was the profit the steward was able to personally pocket ... so rewriting the loan was not making the master lose anything ... and it made the one who had to pay the loan back got a much more manageable debt to repay, thus he too was happy ... it would only be the manager's financial loss this way, but he would at least retain friendships!

(b. Thus it cost the poor stewardship his own income ... a price worth paying if he ever wanted anyone to care for him in the future!

(2. The second example is a man who owed 1,000 bushels of wheat ... it was rewritten for 800 ... thus reflecting the manager's profit being 200 bushels.

(a. The interest amount was lower because this commodity was more difficult to dilute being a grain ... less was added as interest there­fore.

(b. Again ... the master's amount given in the deal was actually 800 bushels ... the extra 200 bushels being kept as the manager's fee for making the loan.

(3. Most deals in that day were made in oil or wheat as the chief commodities of the day ... something almost everyone possessed to some degree.

3. This manager thus was giving away his own earnings in order to restore his reputation with his master ... who would lose little if anything in the new deals, and also the manager gained the favor of the ones who received the loan by now having them pay back a much smaller loan ... thus gaining their friendship, and receiving by this a more promising future!

a. He reasoned that regained respectability and friendship would have better long term returns than the profits he had made in the process!

b. His focus has completely shifted from a “temporary” one to a “long-term” one.

4. It was a well-thought out strategy ... and a wise one!

a. The master wouldn't fight it ... it was the Jewish law being upheld ... he wouldn’t want to look like he was against the law of God by demanding the interest payment!

b. The people with the loan wouldn't gripe ... they had less to pay back!

c. Everyone would win ... except the manager who would lose money, but he would gain back his reputation and care ... and his future! In this way the Bible states that his master said this steward was “shrewd.

5. Sometimes the drive to get isn't worth the price tag!

ILLUS: A man who had an ant problem bought some ant poison. Sprinkling the tiny poison pellets he watched as the ants gathered them up and in a steady stream carried them down into the ant hole; he suddenly noticed a second trail going away from the hole. Looking closely he noticed some other ants had snuck in and were stealing from the other ants ... carrying off as fast as they could the same poison ... while they thought they were getting away with a good deal ... their stealing would only bring death to those they were taking this poison to! Their taking would only destroy their own homes ... they would have been better not to sneak in and take from their brother ants! How often we covet other Christians and their belongings ... yet we might not be as capable of handling those "things" as they are ... be content with what God has made possible! – Source Unknown

III. ACCEPTANCE RESTORED! Luke 16:8-9

A. Commendation! Luke 16:8a

1. This is where the commendation comes in from the master ... how could the master condemn him for doing what the law required in the first place?

2. In fact the master was impressed with the comprehensive and careful thought that was involved in the manager’s plan!

3. Everyone gained in the exchange ... only monetary loss for the manager was experienced!

a. Holding on to things so tight can be wasteful!

ILLUS: A Wycliffe publication called, "In Other Words" tells the story of a gal who served for many years as a houseparent for missionaries' children in the Philippines ... this gal, Sadie loved books, so much so that she wouldn't lend certain ones to anyone, she carefully stored them in a trunk that she kept under her own bed. One night she heard a gnawing sound, after searching the room and finding nothing she looked into her footlocker where she kept those precious books ... only to find that termites had completely turned her books into heaps of ashes ... what she had hoarded she lost, only those books she allowed to circulate had been saved! – Source Unknown

b. Clutching onto the things of this world will not allow you to keep having them ... better to invest them for eternal things!

4. Some day we too will give account of how we use things of this world, better to invest into eternal stocks than be bound with rust and dust!

5. The master couldn't really condemn the manager any longer ... or he would have appeared to condemn the law of God!

a. Thus the manager preserved his job ... as well as made new friends!

b. He also likely thought about his future more seriously from then on too!

c. It is unlikely this manager forgot the lessons of good stewardship!

B. Challenge Luke 16:8b-9

1. Now an interesting comment is made by Jesus: “The children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light!”

a. What does this mean? Just that when working out a solution people in the world understand the importance of planning for the future and making sure the deals benefit everyone and is fair!

b. As Christians how many of you have made plans for both your temporal future and your eternal one?

2. It is not a question of trusting God if one plans for financial security in the future ... as long as it does not mean ignoring investing in eternal purposes as well!

a. The idea is balance ... and fairness to all parties!

b. Balance toward God and plan for your loved ones and yourself!

3. The next weird sounding statement Jesus makes is in verse 9:

a. This is not as strange as it sounds; it is the echo of what I just said, plan for the future, but not at the expense of investing in eternal things!

b. The point being: use things to bless others so they will come to Christ and in eternity welcome you by being there and rejoicing over your coming, knowing you invested and used things for them to teach them spiritual realities!

4. Thus Jesus is saying a couple of things about the use of material things:

a. Don't manipulate ... but do influence others!

b. Win people by being generous ... it is likely to have them look into deeper things in life by seeing people who can also take material things and not see them as their possessions ... that people are more important than things!

c. Temporal values are nothing compared to eternal dividends they might yield!

d. Invest in others by using the things of this world! Their ultimate salvation will be the best return on the dollar invested!

5. In a sense, this increases Jesus' teaching on the value of things ... at least in how we use them, or in other words, what kind of stewardship we practice!

a. Self-indulgence is not the Christian's goal! Thus all the teaching emphasizing material prosperity for Christians is contrary to the true model of stewardship. Real prosperity for Christians are eternal things, not material things.

b. A balanced approach to the future in required of good stewards!

ILLUS: A skit done by the Covenant players: Family comes home from church complaining over the music, the choir, the length of the sermon, the topic, etc.; until their little girl states, “What did you expect from the 25 cents you gave in the offering dad!” – Source Unknown

6. You get what you put into it!

IV. ACCLAIM & RESPONSIBILITY Luke 16:10-15

A. Character Luke 16:10-12

1. God takes careful note on how we use material things!!!

a. Those that have the character to be faithful in little things are more likely to be trusted to handle greater things!

b. This is a character issue ... if untrustworthy with small responsibilities, larger ones won't make you more trustworthy ... in fact, they are likely to make you less if you are already a poor steward!

2. God in His grace often keeps poor stewards from prospering lest they corrupt themselves with great riches ... sometimes poverty is a gift from God to teach important stewardship lessons!

a. However ... not all poverty means this, as does prosperity, not all prosperity is a sign of God’s favor or disfavor either!

b. One must judge his own heart in these matters!

ILLUS: The great preacher Charles Spurgeon and his wife were deeply criticized by many members of their church and even by their family members for selling eggs their chickens laid. They even charged their own family members for the eggs! They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves all their lives ... until just after their deaths the family and church members learned that they had for years taken the money they got from the egg sales and used it to support two widows in the church. No one noticed since this was money above their tithes to the church. They took the criticisms knowing their reward would greet them in heaven ... these widows one day welcomed them into heaven with rejoicing over their contributions! – Source Unknown

B. Caution! Luke 16:13-15

a. It is either GOD you serve or MONEY! Why these two? Because both affect every area of our life!

b. Money makes a great servant ... but a lousy master!

c. God makes a great master ... but He is not our servant!

2. The note of caution is this: IT IS NOT THE AMOUNT THAT CAN CORRUPT YOU ... IT IS THE ATTITUDE TOWARD THINGS IN GENERAL!

a. You can become corrupt and be poor!

b. You can be rich and still be godly!

ILLUS: How much does it take to block someone's view of things? Take 2 pennies and put them in front of your eyes ... that's how much can block your view of life, if that is all you see! – Source Unknown

3. Anyone can lose perspective if all you look at is things!

4. God’s values and ours don't always match ... better to bet on His than your own!

5. Are you planning as aggressively about eternal things as you are about your earthly future?

CONCLUSION: Stewardship is not something that can be avoided easily ... really never! How we manage our money is connected with how well we manage our lives! Long term investments are important ... are you making eternal ones?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Great Issues Of Life” Series #3

 

"MOOD!"

 

 

 

TEXT:         Hebrews 12:1-3, 12-13, 18-24

 

 

 

INTRO:       Picture these scenes: You're grocery shopping ... down aisle B you travel to the sounds of classical music…

 

 

 

You're in your favorite restaurant ... the lights are low; the corner table is yours as a violinist serenades you during your meal ... it's your anniversary and you actually remembered the right date – you even got your wife flowers!

You woke up with a headache ... the kids are screaming, schools out and they’re bored at home ... the telephone just rang for the 5th call since 7 a.m., and the pot roast burnt about the same time you were trying to figure out why the washing machine quit mid cycle!

 

 You just sat down to do your budget, your monthly income was up this month, almost $1,500 this month ... then the total for the bills comes to $1,750 for the same time period ... next morning the Pastor preaches on tithing!

 

 You just discovered you are the winner of a $10,000 dollar sweepstakes ... and that afternoon in the mail you receive a letter from the IRS stating that a serious error had been found on previous tax forms ... the government owes you $5,000 dollars in returns ... then your husband comes home and announces he just got a huge raise and promotion that will require less work and less hours but with much more income ... the kids bring their reports cards home and they both have straight A's and the comments at the bottom says, "Model children!"

 

 TRANS. SENT:     Moods obviously affect to a great deal our behavior ... and our persistence in setting out to do something (or not do something!) ... thus it is important HOW we look at things in life, not just what we do with things!

 

 PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us to “guard our hearts and minds” ... to set out to deliberately fix our moods or attitudes toward Christ ... and stick to our faith!  Christianity doesn't just happen to us ... we are active participants in the process and we deeply affect the process!

 

 

 

I.  STUBBORNNESS THAT'S RIGHT! Heb. 12:1-3

 

 A.   History!   Heb. 12:la

 

1.   "Compassed about" by a great cloud of "witnesses" (Greek lit: "Testifiers")

 

a.   The Greek work for "witness" comes from "marturos" (“marturwn”) ... our English word "Martyr" comes from it ... but,

 

b.   The Biblical concept of “martyr” has changed over the years ... it didn't mean then "one who died for their faith" ... but “one who TESTIFIED about their faith,” whether they lived or died!

 

2.   We are not alone in the struggle of faith ... next time you feel lonely think of yourself within a huge stadium surrounded by all the believers who have died in faith and they are cheering you on!

 

3.   Struggling is not just YOUR THING ... it has been every believer's experience!

 

4.   Others have struggled and survived ... or conquered ... so can you!

 

 

 

ILLUS:     By 7 p.m. on October 20, 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics Stadium, it was beginning to darken.  It had cooled down as well.  The last of the Olympic marathon runners were being assisted away to first-aid stations.  Over an hour earlier, Mamo Waldi of Ethiopia had charged across the finish line, winning the 26-mile, 385-yard race looking as strong and as vigorous as when he'd started.  As the last few thousand spectators began preparing to leave, they heard police sirens and whistles through the gate entering the stadium.  The attention turned to that gate.  A sole figure, wearing the colors of Tanzania, came limping into the stadium.  His name was John Steven Aquari.  He was the last man to finish the marathon in 1968.  His leg was bandaged, bloody.  He had taken a bad fall early in the race.  Now, it was all he could do to limp his way around the track.  The crowd stood and applauded as he completed that last lap.  When he finally crossed the finish line, one man dared ask the question all were wondering.  "You are badly injured.  Why didn't you quit?  Why didn't you give up?"  Aquari, with quiet dignity said, "My country did not send me seven thousand miles to start this race.   My country sent me to finish."  So it is with God.  God didn't just send you to start this race.  He didn't just send you to begin a noble task or a noble relationship.  God sent you both to start and to finish. -- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today, Tape No. 155.

 

 

 

5.   If we allow ourselves to sit in self-pity and get moody we might be tempted to quit!

 

 

 

B.   Hindrances   Heb. 12:lb

 

1.   Here we are told what to do when such times come:

 

 

c.   Thus it is NOT JUST sins the writer is referring to since there can be other "things" that can hinder us ... such as improper perspective and improper moods, anything that gets in the way of our making progress spiritually!

 

2.   Since the analogy of the text refers to runners in the stadium games the image is important ... a good runner knows that the less stuff you carry the longer you will be able to run!

 

a.   Excess baggage will wear you out!

 

b.   Nobody runs with the idea that they will quit before the finish line either!

 

c.   Pacing oneself is critical in a running race also ... don't run too fast at first though you feel you can whip the world ... you'll need the stamina later ... even out the pace from first to last!

 

3.   Denial can be our worst enemy at this stage, we have a tendency to deny that "things" can hinder our efforts:

 

 

 

ILLUS:     Like the old dessert nomad who awakened hungry in the middle of the night, he lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl near his bed ... he took a bite from the first one and noticed a worm in it ... tried a second, again a worm ... and third ... and a fourth, still worms!  Finally he came upon a solution ... he would blow the light out and eat them in the dark, then he wouldn't know ... and so he ate them all in the dark! – Source Unknown

 

 

 

4.   Denial doesn't solve our problems ... it only hides them temporarily!

 

 

 

C.   Headstrong!   Heb. 12:lc-3

 

 

a.   There is no other way to run in a race!

 

b.   You don't enter a race just to run only as far as you feel like running!

 

c.   Will must overcome mood ... or at least control it!

 

 

a.   In other words ... we don't always get to choose the route ... we just follow it!

 

b.   Short-cuts will only disqualify us…

 

 

 

ILLUS:     Several years ago a woman in the Boston Marathon was disqualified because it was discovered later that she had taken some short-cuts when she thought no one had been looking ... she thought she could win her own way! – Source Unknown

 

 

 

3.   Heb. 12:2 adds: "FIX our eyes on Jesus" … “the author and finisher of our faith...”

 

a.   A good runner doesn't allow himself to look at where the other runners are in relationship to himself/herself!

 

 

 

ILLUS:     One year in the Olympics the guy out front coming to the finish line was so confident of his victory that he decided it would be completely safe to turn his head to see where the next guy was ... he did, and he lost his pace and the guy just behind him soon passed him just as they hit the finish line! – Source Unknown

 

 

 

b.   Broken concentration can be costly in a race!

 

c.   Many runners will mark out a single item down track and keep their eyes completely set on that mark as a focal point.

 

d.   Jesus should be the only object we focus on for setting our own pace and goals ... not on the other runners!

 

4.   There is no denial in the text that running will be with pain ... in fact since Jesus is referred to it clearly states that Jesus ran with joy ... knowing that the suffering and shame of the cross would bring great honors later!

 

a.   The statement that Jesus endured with JOY helped establish Jesus' mood during suffering!

 

b.   It is not the absence of pain that is the Christian's goal ... it is the reward in spite of pain!

 

 

 

ILLUS:      One of the greatest men of the 20th century, Winston Churchill was asked to give his final speech near the end of his life in 1955.  In great pain he was helped to the podium where he stood for a very long time with his head hung low in weakness, barely standing he finally raised his head and delivered his final message to the world, "NEVER GIVE UP ... NEVER GIVE UP ... NEVER GIVE UP!"  Then he turned and sat down ... his speech over, the last one he ever gave ... but the message spoke volumes! – Source Unknown

 

 

 

5.   Victory comes to the persistent ... not to the quitters or to those who mope!

 

6.   Verse 3 is really acknowledging the fact that there will be those times when we WILL feel weary and FEEL like quitting!

 

a.   What we are to do is look at Jesus ... He didn't quit or give up, or lose heart because He kept the long range victory in focus during His suffering.

 

b.   This we must do when we are confused and feel God doesn't care or love us ... if you can't handle the present ... then simply think about the future!

 

 

 

II.  SMOOTHING THE ROAD!    Heb. 12:12-13

 

 

 

A.   Hopeful!    Heb. 12:12

 

 

a.   Certainly our flesh is weak ... and even our spirit is not always on top ... we cannot just sit however waiting to be zapped!

 

b.   Inherent in this statement is the note of responsibility on our part to search out a way to “strengthen our weak arms and weak knees!”

 

2.   Since we are commanded to do so ... it must also be possible!  God doesn't ask us to do what we can't do ... at least without His help!

 

3.   Hence the note of hope is found within the statement!

 

a.   It is possible to have our "feeble" arms strengthened!

 

b.   Our “weak knees” can be made strong!

 

c.   You do note however that we are asked to do this … meaning there is a responsibility on our part to strengthen ourselves!

 

4.   Keeping to the runner's analogy used at the start of the chapter can help us define some of the "how to:"

 

a.   Regular exercise!

 

b.   Practice, practice, practice!

 

c.   Studying the route until it is well memorized!

 

d.   Listen to the coach!

 

e.   Even the knowledge that a host of other runners have made it already should be encouraging!

 

f.    This is no ordinary race ... it is not optional!

 

5.   One way to strengthen ourselves is by simply realizing how important this race is ... more so than any other!

 

 

 

ILLUS:     Years ago when Apple computer fell on tough times, Steven Jobs, the chairman sought out one of the best executives in the country in the hopes of saving his young company.  He went to New York to meet with the top executive of the PEPSI Company.  John Sculley, Pepsi's executive didn't seem too anxious, finally he stated he would take the company but with the following demands:

 

a.     A $1,000,000 salary 

 

b.     A $1,000,000 bonus

 

c.     A $1,000,000 severance pay ... Steven Jobs, desperate, finally gulped and agreed. 

 

Then Scully added, "And I would stay in New York and act as consultant only!"  At this Jobs flinched, finally Jobs said, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want to change the world?"  It knocked the wind out of Sculley, who realized he would rather spend his life doing something that could really impact the world rather than just make soda ... and he moved to California and turned Apple around! – Source Unknown

 

 

 

6.   No race is more important than the one we are in for Christ!

 

 

 

B.   Healing!    Heb. 12:13

 

 

a.   The quality of the path we follow is partly our responsibility!

 

b.   We can help keep that path clear or let it get cluttered and increase the change of tripping!

 

2.   Many runners will walk a course through its entirety to get the sense of what the course is like and to check it out for any pits, holes, or bumps ... even to clear debris if necessary before they run!

 

a.   It is obviously easier to run on steady even ground than it is to run up-hill!

 

b.   How many Christians however by not “leveling” some of the issues in their lives find that they are always running up-hill and thus they tire easily!

 

c.   Check out the course and make necessary corrections!

 

 

 

ILLUS:    Probably everyone has seen the old opening scenes from ABC's Wide World of Sports! ... this skier who falls to the side of the path on the way down a jump and hurtles through fences head over heels, plowing through people and all kinds of stuff off the side of the run!  The man this happened to planned it that way!  As he was coming down the jump he noticed that the hill was way faster than what was safe ... if he had made the jump he would have traveled past the point of safe landing and would have been likely killed ... instead he chose to just fall and ride out the spill ... unbelievably the man only sustained a slight headache and no injuries ... he made a wise decision to save his life by not trying to fly too far too fast ... and what a sight to see every time ABC airs the scene! – Source Unknown

 

 

 

III. SUBSTANTIAL REALITY    Heb. 12:18-24

 

 

 

A.   Heavy!     Heb. 12:18-21

 

1.   Before Christ's death on the cross, believers had a heavy course to follow:

 

a.   Constant sacrifices of blood!

 

b.   Laws that had little room for error in them!

 

c.   Fear was the main course of faith!

 

d.   God was distance in terms of fellowship ... spoke through thunders, etc.

 

2.   There was much one had to do -- just to approach God; hours of preparations were required, etc.

 

3.   Under the Old Covenant the weight of their sins weighed in on them before a Holy God ... approach was careful and very specific in nature ... timely too!

 

 

 

 

B.   Heavenly!    Heb. 12:22-24

 

1.   Fortunately we have a new mountain we can come to!  MOUNT ZION!

 

a.   To a heavenly Jerusalem that actually lives up to its name: “CITY OF PEACE”

 

b.   Instead of hiding in fear from God and His angels we can JOIN THEM!

 

c.   Celebration marks the NEW COVENANT faith, not fear!

 

2.   Instead of focusing on our guilt ... we can focus on forgiveness!

 

3.   Grace has overwhelmed Law ... and we have had God's grace “POURED out on us” in Christ!

 

4.   We are the guilty prisoners who have been set free and pardoned from sin and guilt ... free to live a new life!

 

 

 

ILLUS:      The 18th century King of Prussia; King Frederick II was visiting the Berlin prison one day to speak with the inmates.  As he went from cell to cell each prisoner tried their hardest to convince the king of their real innocence.  Each one after the other told stories of how they had been unjustly convicted and imprisoned ... until one guy when the King asked, "Were you guilty?" replied like this: "Yes sir, I entirely deserve my punishment."  The King was taken by this prisoner and asked him, "what are your crimes?"  He responded, "Armed robbery your honor."  Suddenly the King gave an order to the prison officials right on the spot, "Release this guilty man immediately ... I don't want him corrupting all these other innocent prisoners!"  Confession had won his release, while those who had denied their sin remained in jail!  THE KING HAS SET US FREE ... THOUGH WE WERE GUILTY! – Source Unknown

 

 

 

5.   The blood of Jesus speaks a better covenant than did the blood of Abel ... or that of animals!

 

6.   We have therefore, a bold faith ... one that rejoices ... our MOOD CAN BE UP - even when we feel down!

 

7.   The NEW COVENANT in Christ gives us the ability to run and make the goal line ... REMEMBER "NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER GIVE UP!"

 

 

 

CONCLUSION:   A great deal of how we feel about life is at our own control!  Much of how we feel, and how we respond is a matter of choices, including moods!  Moods influence perspective, and perspective affects action!  The good news is we are not alone in the race!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Great Issues Of Life” Series #4

"MEANING!"

TEXT: Heb. 12:25-29; 2 Pet. 3:3-15

INTRO: Imagine a huge ocean liner full of people pulling out of the dock in New York City. No destination is announced and there are reports that the boat has everything a boat should have except a rudder ... lots of power, plenty of fuel, plenty of fun, food, water, pool, tennis courts, etc. ... but no rudder! Who knows where this boat will end up?

Such is the life without God ... without God, life has no purpose or meaning, we are just drifting through this universe and happen to exist for a brief period of time ... and nothing we do will have any real lasting consequence! We might have plenty of food, water ... and even lots of laughs ... but we are rudderless ... no sense of direction or destination!

Those who aim for nothing will likely find that target!

PROP. SENT: We are not a people merely wandering in a desert without direction ... we have a certain “meaning” in Christ that those in the world cannot have! We are a people “receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” ... what we do not only matters now ... but for all eternity!

I. WORDS OF PERSPECTIVE Heb. 12:25-27; 2 Pet. 3:3-15

A. Warnings From the Past Heb. 12:25-26a

1. How reliable is God's Word?

a. One only has to look back in order to look ahead!

b. God used Moses to warn His people ... and when they chose to ignore God's warnings they suffered the consequences!

c. History is full of God's Word being true!

2. The Old Covenant gave mostly warnings ... hope was in the future New Covenant.

3. God warned Israel of the dangers of sin ... through the 10 commandments given Moses ... to this day those commandments still stand as a warning for sinners of the dangers in sin ... and the painful consequences if ignored!

ILLUS: In her novel about Maine, Sara Jewett describes the ascent of a woman writer on the pathway leading to home of a retired sea captain named Elijah Tilley. On the way the woman noticed a number of wooden stakes randomly scattered about the property without any seeming order. Each stake was white trimmed in yellow like the captain's house. Curious she asked the captain what they meant. His answer, "When I first plowed the ground my plow snagged on many large rocks just beneath the surface ... so I put the stakes where those hidden dangers are so as to avoid them in the future." This is what God has done with the 10 commandments; they are warning signs of the trouble spots in life ... helping us avoid snagging our plows if we obey them! – Source Unknown

4. History is full of people who have obeyed and disobeyed God's Word ... with the results pretty predictable and constant!

a. Those who have sought to ignore God's Word have reaped many of the same pains.

b. Those who have obeyed have discovered the joys of being in right relationship with God.

5. If people listened to God speak through Moses on Earth ... how much more we need to heed Jesus who speaks to us now from heaven!

B. Watching for the Promises Heb. 12:26b-27; 2 Pet. 3:3-15

2. Those things which can be shaken one day will be!

a. The meaning is clear ... material things won't last forever!

b. Only the spiritual things will last!

c. Science even says this; our universe if obeying the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics; or the Law of Entropy … the universe is winding down and decaying.

3. It will not be easy to hang on to spiritual realities, like other times in the past ... many will scoff at God's promises! [READ: 2 PET. 3:3-15]

4. People will scorn our boat with a rudder...

ILLUS: Like those who scorned Columbus for really believing you could sail a boat across the ocean and actually find a new land or at the least a new route to the east! Jokes of the day ran something like this: “Why did Columbus cross the ocean ... to get to the other side!” Their thinking was “Can you believe anybody would go sailing with this mad man?” Perhaps another joke of the times: “What do you think you're going to find Columbus ... Ohio?” – Source Unknown

5. Scoffers will come ... and scoffers will go ... but we will remain on course if Christ is our rudder, our meaning in life! Steer a clear course by Him and you'll make the right destination!

6. People assume God doesn't exist or that there is no heaven and hell ... but assumptions can be wrong!

ILLUS: A woman traveling on a plane stopped and bought a package of cookies to eat on the plane. She sat down next a gentleman reading a paper ... and shortly to her horror she heard a rustling of the cookie package. Looking down next to her she watched as the man tore open the package and began eating the cookies ... not wanting to make a scene she reached down and began eating them herself ... thinking he will be embarrassed when he realizes she is eating also! A minute or so passed and the man again helped himself, she again grabbed several and ate in a way he could not escape notice of! they had nearly eaten the entire package when as she was about to grab the last cookie, he took it just ahead of her ... to add even more grief, he took the last cookie, broke it in half and offered her half of it! While she stared at him, he ate his half and left! Still fuming, later she opened her handbag to get her next ticket and to her shock and embarrassment she found her entire package of cookies in her purse still! How wrong assumptions can be at times! – Source Unknown

7. People assume that because it has been thousands of years since Christ promised His return that He isn't coming again!

a. This is a bad assumption!

b. God isn't slow by His standards ... only by our understanding of time! (2 Pet. 3:8-10)

c. God's "slowness" by our standards means "salvation" for many people ... God is still giving time for people to respond to His offer of forgiveness and salvation! (2 Pet. 3:15)

8. The rest of this passage includes the reality of how transitory the things of this world really are ... they are the shakable things!

ILLUS: Like Columbus ... we keep gazing through the fog looking for that new land, believing in our hearts we are on track and not just wandering aim­lessly! One day we are going to hear the SHOUT ... LAND AHOE! Keep watching for the promises of God! Don't lose sight of God's promises! Keep steering by His Word ... you won't get lost even when you can't see well! – Source Unknown

C. Well-Being for the Persistent! 2 Pet. 3:8-9,11,14

1. Did Columbus' trip pay off? YOU BET!

2. Will our persistent efforts to steer your life based on God's reality pay off! YOU BET YOUR LIFE IT WILL!

3. The trip is never too bad when you know that the boat has a rudder and the captain knows where he's going!

4. Of course Satan would rather keep us from trusting in the captain and keep us in bondage and fear!

ILLUS: Like the little boy who was visiting his grandparents, he was given a slingshot and spent a great deal of time practicing, though he never did hit his targets. Coming back to grandma's house he noticed her pet duck, on impulse he took aim and let fly a rock! The stone hit the duck and killed it ... to his surprise and dismay! He panicked and decided to get rid of the evidence, so he quickly buried the duck ... only to discover his sister had watched the whole thing! After lunch that day, grandma asked his sister Sally to help with the dishes, but Sally said, "Johnny told me that he wanted to help you Grand­ma" ... while whispering to Johnny "REMEMBER THE DUCK!" So Johnny did the dishes. The next day Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, but Grandma said she needed Sally to help make supper. Sally smiled and said, "That's already taken care of, Johnny said he wanted to help make supper" ... whispering again to Johnny, "Remember the duck!" Johnny helped make supper! After several days of doing all Sally's chores Johnny decided to just confess to killing the duck ... and as soon as he did grandma responded, "I know already Johnny, I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing, I was wondering how long you were going to let Sally make a slave out of you!" – Source Unknown

II. WORSHIP OF POWER! Heb. 12:28-29

A. Whole-hearted Praise Heb. 12:28a

1. Drawing a conclusion to the foregoing information we can therefore be thankful

2. This thankfulness can even cross over the present painful situations ... because it looks beyond just the present difficulties to victory!

ILLUS: Like the old man a college student by the name of Mark Tidd of Webster, New York met. This old man showed up at their back door, he was glazed eyed, face full of stubble, dirty with old clothes and selling vegetables that were already past retirement age! Nervously they bought a few just to get rid of him, but the man returned every week! He finally introduced himself as Mr. Roth who lived just down the road in an old shack ... finally realizing that his marbled eyes were from cataracts, not alcohol. He would often shuffle in with 2 mismatched right shoes on, pull out his harmonica and play a few old gospel hymns on it ... and of course sell the old vegetables. One visit the old man stated, "The Lord is so good, I came out of my shack this morning and found a whole box of shoes and clothes on my front porch." Mark Tidd responded, "That's wonderful Mr. Roth ... we're happy for you!" To this the old man responded, "You know what's even more wonderful ... just yesterday I met some people that could use them!" That's whole-hearted praise! – Source Unknown

3. There is always something to be depressed about ... but much more to be thank­ful for!

B. Worship & Perception Heb. 12:28b

a. Not so much a correct format ... as much as it is a correct attitude!

b. Worship can take on many forms ... with the right attitude many types or models are acceptable!

2. 2 things are required to worship God acceptably:

a. Reverence!

b. Awe!

3. Reverence: This means with respect.

a. God is not just our "Santa Clause in the sky!"

b. God is to be treated with respect ... recognition of His greatness!

c. God is not just another human being ... He is the creator of all things!

d. Worship that is genuine takes this into account!

4. Awe: This means recognition of His supremacy!

a. He is awesome ... great, nothing is greater!

b. We are His subjects, not vice versa!

5. Acceptable worship actually grants us a proper perspective of God that allows us to truly worship Him as He is ... and not just for what we get out of it!

a. Proper worship creates proper perspective!

b. This demonstrates itself in our life and lifestyle!

ILLUS: A guy can talk all he wants about how good a rudder is for a ship, but if his life wanders aimlessly about his statements of faith are unfounded! Like the Boeing engineer who helped produce the Boeing 707. When he was flying on a propeller driven DC-6 he ran into another engineer who asked about the new 707. He went into great lengths on the testing and development of the new jet. Finally he was asked if he had yet flown on the new 707 he worked on, this was his answer, "I think I'll wait until it's been in service awhile." His great bragging on how great the new 707 was suddenly lost credibility! – Source Unknown

C. Wasted or Preserved! Heb. 12:29

2. The future will someday catch up with all of us ... will your life have been a waste ... or will it be a blessing?

a. For sinners … they always have their past catching up to them!

b. But Christians always have their future catching up to them!

c. Which would you prefer?

3. No one can escape God ... the picture here is probably that of the properties of fire!

a. It can benefit you ... or destroy you!

ILLUS: A couple of guys were duck hunting in southeastern Georgia when they noticed in the distance a huge black cloud ... soon they could hear crackling noises and smell smoke ... a huge brush fire had broken out and the wind was driving it straight towards them! The wind was strong and there was no way to outrun it, the one man reached into his pocket and took out a lighter and quickly reached down and lit a fire at his feet ... calling his buddy to stand in the circle it left as it burned out from them in each direction ... soon the main fire came ... but because they stood in the area already burned out, it went around them and they were safe! God either clears the path for you if you accept Jesus ... or His fire will consume you when it hits everything! – Source Unknown

4. Will you be wasted or preserved ... that's your decision now!

a. While we live we have the opportunity to decide.

b. Death however seals whatever decision we made in life.

5. Only God gives meaning to life ... don't just float through life rudderless, drifting aimlessly through a number of emotional storms and feeling helpless!

6. It doesn't matter how big your ship is or how powerful it is ... without a rudder you're in big trouble!

CONCLUSION: Without a sense of meaning to life we are doomed to live from emotional highs or lows, life becomes a meaningless trip through a sea of conflicting emotional waves. A relationship to an everlasting God gives far-reaching meaning to our lives, and keeps us afloat during stormy seas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Great Issues Of Life” Series #5

"MANAGING LIFE!"

TEXT: Col. 3:1-21

INTRO: How important is good management?

ILLUS: During world war II on a bombing run over a German city one of the ally’s B-17’s was struck by fire from a 20 millimeter gun ... but they completed their mission and made it back to base. When they landed the pilot was shocked to learn that a 20 millimeter shell had hit their fuel tank ... but no explosion. While finding this incredible, the pilot the next day went down to get the shell that hadn't exploded in their fuel tank as a souvenir of great luck ... then the story really got crazy! Not only had their plane taken one 20 millimeter shell in their fuel tank without exploding, it had taken 11 unexploded shells without exploding ... all 11 in the fuel tanks of the plane! He of course had to wait until the shells had been defused before keeping them as souvenirs ... and when they finally came, with them came this astounding story. When opened most of the shells were found to be empty ... but one contained a piece of paper with Czech writing on it. When they found someone who could read it, this is what it said, "THIS IS ALL WE CAN DO FOR YOU NOW!" Poor management of supplies and production weaknesses with great demands had caused the Czech factory that produced the shells to be made without explosive charges ... so they sent them empty because of the German demands ... management and supply had been the problem! – Source Unknown

PROP. SENT: There are 3 great areas of life that require careful management in order for our life to be what God would desire it to be ... sloppy management in any of these will cause us to experience less than God's best!

I. HEART Col. 3:1-14

A. Responsibility Col. 3:1-11

2. While God gives us a new heart ... keeping it healthy requires some discipline on our part also!

3. We are responsible for the choices we make!

a. We can make poor ones ... or good ones, whichever we make will impact the spiritual quality of our walk with God.

b. Commitment to Christ needs to be complete, or total! Anything less than a total commitment will set us up for compromises that could hurt us later.

ILLUS: A Haitian pastor shared this parable one day with his congregation about the need of total commitment to Christ: A man wanted to sell his house for $2,000 and finally found a man who wanted to buy it, but the man was too poor and so could only come up with $1,000. Finally the owner agreed to sell for $1,000, but with one stipulation, a single nail sticking out above the front door would remain as his property ... this would be the one part of the house he would retain ownership of. The other man agreed. Years later the original owner of the house wanted it back, but the new owner refused to sell the house back to him at any price! The first owner therefore, went out and found the carcass of a dead dog and hung it on the nail he still owned ... soon the house became unlivable and the family was forced to sell the home back to the owner of the nail. The Haitian Pastor's point: "If we leave the Devil with even one peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it ... making our life miserable and unfit for Christ's habitation! – Source Unknown

4. Why does Paul launch into such a strong barrage of warnings about sin ... and on being responsible enough to focus on eternal things, not just earthly things?

a. Paul knows the drive of the sinful nature in man!

b. Without a constant effort to keep focus, our sinful nature can take over and control our lives

c. Sin is an insatiable appetite!

ILLUS: Paul Harvey told this story on radio about how Eskimo's deal with wolves they have trouble with: First an Eskimo coats a very sharp knife with animal blood, allowing that layer to freeze. He will recoat and allow many layers to freeze until the knife is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next they will take the knife and insert it in the ground blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source he licks the frozen blood, his carnivorous nature kicks in ... and that carnivorous appetite takes over ... he licks faster and more feverishly ... until of course the frozen blood is gone, but by now his passion for blood has aroused a frenzy of licking ... the sharp blade does it's work by cutting the wolf's tongue, but all the wolf tastes is fresh blood ... arousing more intense licking ... by morning it will be dead ... it's own driven nature making it a victim of his own appetite! – Source Unknown

a. Those earthly drives are often contrary to those of the Spirit!

b. It is important we learn to manage our HEART in walking with God!

c. It is a critical responsibility and discipline to learn!

B. Restoration! Col. 3:12-14

1. What about our relationship to others ... how do we manage our heart when it comes to others?

2. The answer is:

a. LOVE

b. FORGIVE

3. Heavenly dynamics require us to restore earthly fall-outs!

4. To the level we learn to forgive we learn the power of Spirituality!

5. We cannot manage to live with others without learning to manage forgiveness!

6. We need to learn to let go of anger and resentment ... real forgiveness includes the release of anger ... but it seeks restoration, not retaliation!

ILLUS: Farmers in southern Alabama years ago planted year after year cotton crops. They managed to live fairly well on cotton profits until one year the boll weevil struck ... all the cotton farmers were wiped out that year. The next year in order to plant their cotton crops many of the farmers mortgaged out their homes and farms hoping for a good crop that next year ... at first the crops grew well ... then another boll weevil attack ... all was lost, most went out of business and lost everything. The few farmers who were still hanging on the third year decided to try something risky ... they planted something new ... peanuts! Peanuts proved to be so hardy and the market proved to be so ravenous that the first year the profits were so great that those who planted peanuts were able to completely pay off all their debts and still make great profits ... all within one year! The next year those same farmers spent some of their new wealth to erect in the town square a monument ... to the boll weevil! They reasoned that if it hadn't been for the boll weevil they would never have discovered peanuts ... and a better life, they lost the anger and anguish and learned that out of great disaster there can be great delight! It might sound nuts ... but they won out over anger by managing to deal with it! – Source Unknown

7. It is no fun to get hurt or to be wronged!

8. But it does no good to hang onto the hurt and continue to be angry ... FORGIVE!

9. There is much more to be gained from forgiveness than from unforgiveness!

a. Col. 3:14 in the Greek can mean "forgive yourself" also ...

b. Not only forgive others ... but include forgiving self!

10. This is how we our hearts are restored and manage to continue!

II. HAPPINESS Col. 3:15-17

A. Responsibility Col. 3:15a

1. “Let the peace...”

2. We are responsible for allowing happiness into our hearts!

a. We must be willing to allow it in!

b. We are not zapped with happiness automatically, like a plant’s needs, we are re­sponsible to nurture and water it along until its fruit appears!

3. We will reap what we sow:

a. If we sow unhappiness ... we will reap unhappiness!

b. What we give is what we receive!

ILLUS: Sir Robert Watson Watt invented radar ... several years after inventing radar he was arrested in Canada for speeding ... caught in a radar trap! He wrote this poem: “Pity Sir Robert Watson Watt, Strange target of his radar plot, and this, with others I could mention, a victim of his own invention!” -- Source Unknown

B. Respect Col. 3:15b

2. Happiness does not come from living alone!

3. Recognition of other’s needs and rights ... respect is important to find real happiness!

4. Hence the addition at the end of this verse "AND BE THANKFUL."

5. Ungratefulness towards others is disrespectful ... and leads to unhappiness!

6. Grateful and Thankful people are almost always happy people!

7. Happy people bring PEACE within a group!

8. Unhappy and unsatisfied people bring contention into a group, whatever the group!

9. That doesn't mean no criticism is acceptable ... it means it is constructive and respectful, with a goal to restore and heal.

C. Relationships Col. 3:16-17

1. Sharing comes from relationships ... and there is much to share, many good things:

a. The Word of God

b. Teaching each other

c. Encouragement

d. Wisdom

e. Singing & music

f. Gratitude

g. Etc.

2. The mutual benefits of blessing and being blessed occur within relationships!

3. The burden of relationships is placed on people in both directions!

ILLUS: God loves everyone and desires none to perish ... but if we choose NOT to have a relationship with Christ we will not share heaven with Him! – Source Unknown

III. HOME Col. 3:18-21

A. Responsibility

1. The home is of primary concern to God ... we need to understand the importance of managing our home life ... it impacts all of society!

ILLUS: A newspaper columnist and pastor, George Crane told how a wife came to him full of hatred toward her husband. She said, "I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even! Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has hurt me!" Dr. Crane suggested the following plan for this woman: "Go home and act as if you really love your husband, tell him how much he means to you and praise him for everything you can think of that is a decent trait in him. Be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no effort to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you, love him, and after you have convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb! Tell him you’re getting a divorce ... that will really hurt him!" With revenge in her eyes she smiled and exclaimed, "Beautiful ... beautiful, will he ever be sur­prised!" And she did it with enthusiasm! For 2 months she did it all. When she didn't return Dr. Crane called and asked, "Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?" "DIVORCE!" she exclaimed, "Never! I discovered I really do love him." She managed her emotions, and this affected her MOTIONS! The result of her accepting responsibility to manage her emotions brought healing in to her heart and home! – Source Unknown

2. Where there is no responsibility there will be no RESPONSE or ABILITY!

B. Roles Col. 3:18-21

2. Husbands are to love their wife ... and are not to be harsh to them! So much for slavery!

3. Children are to obey their parents ... this pleases the Lord!

4. Dads are not to embitter their children ... by being too harsh or treatment of being unfair!

5. Taken together these roles are all well-balanced and create a healthy home!

6. These roles maximize the management of a healthy home with healthy relationships!

7. Without roles we tend to live for ourselves! Selfishness never brings happiness! Good management recognizes the need for others!

CONCLUSION: The secret to managing life is found in how we handle our heart, our happiness, and our home! Good management of these areas are not automatic, it is a matter of some effort and discipline, along with God’s empowerment. How well are you managing your life?