October 1, 2018

Are you ever tired on Monday? Many professionals suggest that preachers should take Monday off because they are so drained from the weekend, in particular from preaching and all that goes into worship services. I understand that philosophy today and I was reminded that it’s difficult to be busy on Saturday AND Sunday (and Friday). I hope you are refreshed and ready to fight for your faith today!!
Yesterday we finished our series on Self and Selfishness. I really feel like I could preach on this topic for months and never quite get it to sink in. One of the big struggles pastors have (besides being tired on Mondays) is wondering if the message from God, that they proclaim, is really getting through to the listeners. Like many pastors, when I am preaching I am first preaching to myself. And I don’t ever prepare a sermon with a particular person or situation in mind but there are weeks when I would like to start calling names from the platform. Or I want to say “wake up” or “really listen to this” but many times it becomes difficult because every week a preacher believes he is proclaiming the very word of God and so at that moment it is extremely important. And from the listener side they have often heard so many messages that it can sometimes just fade into a fog or a “wah wah wah” like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I still believe that focusing primarily on self is the biggest hindrance to our spiritual walk with God. How can we grow closer to Him when we are so consumed with ourselves and our wants and desires? It is something I still struggle with as well so I’m not throwing stones today.
But as I look around I realize that even though we may intellectually know that focusing on ourselves is wrong, what it really comes down to is a matter of obedience. Our memory verse this week is John 14:23 where Jesus says, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” If we claim to love Him then what will we do? We will obey Him. Specifically we will obey what He teaches us to do. Someone once said obedience that isn’t immediate is not obedience. I think there is truth in that. I believe for many of us, if we were honest with ourselves, we live very disobedient lives because we don’t really obey His teaching. I could sit here and give you a whole list of things Jesus tells us to do and not do and then you could go through it and grade yourself and maybe feel good about your score but surely I would miss what God is calling you to do today. God’s word tells us that He prefers obedience to sacrifice. What does that mean? Sometimes we think we are really doing great things for God by sacrificing something in our lives and yet God says I want you to obey. When I give you instructions my desire is that you do it . . . immediately. Yesterday we talked about Surrender and specifically surrendering control. Ultimately that’s what obedience is. It is doing what He says and giving Him complete control of my time and my money and my energy and my desires and my thoughts and my passions and my will and my life. It is total surrender to Him.
Do you see how it all ties together? And yet here we sit giving partial obedience, at best, and thinking that somehow we are doing pretty good because we are “better” than most of the people we know . . . probably even better than that preacher writing this. The problem is that it isn’t about being better or even about being good. It’s about being obedient. When we become obedient then the world will take notice. We have become so addicted to our own little way of doing things that the world has basically said to us . . . no thanks . . . not interested. Notice this quote from our Experiencing God study:
“What our world often witnesses today is a devoted, committed Christian or church serving God. But they are not seeing God. They don't see anything happening that can be explained only in terms of God's activity. Why? Because we are not attempting anything that only God can do.
Our world is not being attracted to the Christ we serve because they are not seeing Him at work in our lives. They see us doing good things for God and comment, "That's nice, but it's not my thing." The world is passing us by because they do not want to get involved in what they see in our lives. We are not giving them opportunities to encounter God. They are seeing only us. Let the world watch God at work, and He will attract people to Himself. Let Christ be lifted up, not in words but in life. Let people see the difference the living Christ makes in a life, a family, or a church; that will affect how they respond to the gospel. When the world sees things happening through God's people that cannot be explained except that God Himself has done them, the world will be drawn to such a God.”
If that doesn’t convict you today then maybe your heart has grown dull and hardened to the things of God. Maybe it’s time for all of us to stop and ask God for real faith and then follow that up with some true obedience. He loves you but He is also your Lord and Master and He requires obedience. I think most of us have forgotten that. He is a God who loves us too much to leave us in our sin.
Just a quick reminder for you today: October is once again MISSIONS MONTH!! Our goal during this month is to remind our body of just how important it is for us to be on Mission every single day. We are kicking off the month with a Block Party this coming Sunday, October 7 @ 4:00 PM. What a great opportunity to be on Mission right here in our own community!
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?
P.S. We also have a Motorcycle Rally coming up on Saturday, October 13th. We will be taking a ride to Possum Kingdom Lake and stopping for some lunch before our ride back home. If you are interested in joining us please call the church office. Come have a day of fun and fellowship with us!!