Tension is part of our life. Tension if not confronted and dealt with will wear your out. If you are a believer, you have tension between right and wrong, good and bad. If you are a believer, you have tension between the flesh and the Spirit.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit,
and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh,
for these are opposed to each other,
to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Let’s look at the life of Job. in the first couple of chapters, he loses his wealth, his children and his health.
His wife’s advice: “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (2:9)
Job’s lament: ”After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” (3:1)
What I find interesting is the word “hope” is used 19 times in 18 verses. Hope is used in both a positive sense and also in a sort of mocking sort of way.
The tension of Job’s life is between
hope and surrender –
belief and doubt –
staying and leaving –
trust and anger –
truth and feelings –
living and dying.
Hope & Surrender
Hope – patient endurance with great expectation.
Surrender – declaring defeat
Belief & Doubt
Belief – holding on to faith.
Doubt – second guessing everything.
Staying & Leaving
Staying – remaining spiritually grounded.
Leaving – looking for something else.
Trust & Anger
Trust – resting in God’s hand.
Anger – running from God’s presence.
Truth & Feelings
Truth – what has God promised?
Feelings – emotional responses.
Living & Dying
Living – continuing to get up everyday and being who and where God wants you to be.
Dying – removing yourself from God’s purpose.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:13–14 (ESV)
Each day we each have a choice. We can function by choosing the path of the least resistance or by making conscious decisions to live intentionally. Most of us have created a rhythm of life that avoids and resist the the hard decision of self-discipline and self-control. We desire to be thinner, smarter, closer to God, but we fail to do the work that makes those things happen. This week take the first step to become a Game Changer in your own life. Change your game. Change your life. Enter a 21 day fast and spend extra time with God. Don’t eat sweets today. Go to the gym today. Read your Bible today. Call and encourage someone today. Send a letter to someone today. Help someone today. Be positive today. Love someone today. Don’t worry about tomorrow yet; however, when you open your eyes to tomorrow, start over.
Our lives consist of label. We have labels on everything. We know the makeup of the food we eat and the cars we drive. What would we do if labels were removed from our lives? Imagine buying ketchup without a label. How would you know it was ketchup? The problem with label is that we have also put them on people. If we label them, it makes them much easier to compartmentalize. Because the label helps us know if we like them or not. You know most of the labels we have for people so I want go through the long list. But, I would like for you to read this poem and think about this.
I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Bob, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal?
I would love to hear your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must have made a mistake.
And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.”
“Hush, child,” He said,
“They’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.”
Let’s remove the labels from people and once again see people.
I can say I have lost my focus more times than I really want to admit. It watching the move Won’t Back Down this weekend I heard something like, “What are you going to exchange this one life you have for?” That will make you think. A life is about years and years are about months and months are about days and days are about hours and hours are about minutes and minutes are about seconds (you also get a free education by reading my blog). There are 86,400 seconds in a day. How I live each second is prompted by some motive.
This past week in prep for Sunday’s sermon and reflecting back on the previous weeks sermons God revealed a powerful truth to me, at least powerful for me. We are going through the beatitudes and this week were were looking at “merciful” (Mt. 5:7). God taught me:
Many Christians try to start here. They try to start here because this is where Christianity become visible. They try to live out merciful lives. They seek to love, forgive, heal, give, etc. They do it because they know they should. But if you have not been through the process of poverty in spirit, mourning, meekness and hunger and thirst for righteousness, mercy will wear you out; it will make you tired. The reason is that the motivation is wrong. We find ourselves seeking to show mercy in an effort to be obedient because we know we should be obedient. The motivation for mercy has to be motivated from a seed planted in your soul and spirit at the time you experienced poverty of spirit and finds itself ready to bloom in “hungering and thirsting for righteousness”. If you have never came to the place to realize the gravity of your sin (Rom 6:23) you will never see other people’s sin correctly. You will find yourself judgmental instead of compassionate, bitter instead of forgiving, hurting instead of healing, greedy instead of giving. You will live saying “I Can’t!” instead of saying “I Care!”.
You are tired because you are not feeding on Jesus and His righteousness. You are not spending time with Him in His Word and prayer. So, you get caught up in doing all the right things for all the wrong reason.
How will you spend your 86,400 seconds today? What will motivate you?
Fifty years of life has also produced 27 years of working with God and His relationship with people. I began by working with youth then transitioned to the pastorate after 2 years. I have seen much over those 27 years. Here is a lesson I have learned.
Inattention results in disaster.
A husband is inattentive to his wife and she is confused of his love. A wife is inattentive to her husband and he finds attention somewhere else. A dad is inattentive to his children so they find ways to scream out for his attention. A mom is inattentive to her children (this rarely happens) and they feel rejected. But these are all symptoms to a greater problem with greater consequences.
A Christian is inattentive to God and their world falls apart. Sometimes the disaster is so slow it is unnoticed for a while while at other times it comes like a bandit. Christian families are falling apart. Christian dads are aloof. Christian moms are overwhelmed. Christian young adults are bombarded. Christian children are growing up with a wrong picture of what Christian really means.
As a Christian what are you willing to sacrifice your family for? What is it that is more important? If you die today, your employer will hire someone else to take your place. If I die today, someone else will preach Sunday. If you have money in the bank but no love at home is it worth it? Are you willing to watch the generation that follows you to abandon God and truth for a lie? Quit making excuses!
Wake up! Pay attention! Get off your butt and do something with Jesus! Today is the day! Don’t wait! Don’t procrastinate this decision! Don’t wait until Sunday! Your family is waiting! Your God is wanting you back!
Avoid the disaster!
Listen to the song “Cats in the Cradle” and read the book Choosing To Cheat by Andy Stanley
Could you determine to do one thing and be the best in the world at it? Just one thing? I know you can. You might be concerned about the “world” part. Here is what I am asking. Could you determine to do one thing and only one thing and be the best in yourworld at it? You cannot do it all! I have often used the illustration about riding a horse. You have seen one man ride a horse with great skill. You have seen one man ride two horses for entertainment but not productivity. You have never seen a man ride three horses. Find your one, best, horse and ride it. Ride is skillfully. Be the best. Quit trying to do it all! You will wear yourself out and disappoint others because you are giving a little to much instead of much to little.
What is that one thing that has captured your heart?
If you can’t say something good about somebody, then don’t say anything at all.
This is one of those lessons that most of us heard from early childhood. However, our parents would teach us this lesson and then we would hear them talking about someone. People like to talk and they love to talk about people. Those sentences that start with, “Did you hear about…..” usually don’t end well. People love to talk about their friends, family, foes, employers, employees or just an innocent bystander on the street. People say things about people that are not good. It is usually our uniqueness that brings out the best of the worst in people. I know I have had people talk about me. We all have been the object of someone’s gossip, meanness, stupidity and hatred. Momma said, “If you can’t say something good about somebody, then don’t say anything at all.”
Scripture says, “be kind to one another”, “love one another”, “bear with each other”, “encourage one another”, “pray for each other”, “forgive one another”, “be at peace with one another”.
So, today whoever you come across say something good to them and about them. Teach your children by your example of good speech. Lastly, remember the words of Scripture, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).
Be like Aibileen Clark who said, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” The Help