A View of the Real World (8/2/15)

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Sermons | 0 comments

Confused _eyes-304338__180Confused?  Many of us are.  But how do you find the truth?  How do you know what to trust?  Pastor Jim took on these questions during his sermon of August 2 2015.  Click the following “Play” button to start listening to the recording, then scroll down to follow along…

 

 

The scripture was Amos 5:8 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-7.  Open the below Drop Down box to read the scripture.

Scripture

Amos 5:8

(Seek Him who) made the Pleiades and Orion;  He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth; The LORD is His name.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-7

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,

2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.   NKJV

 

Are You Confused?

Confusion can knock us off balance.  We see so many conflicting options that we get overwhelmed and find it hard to make a decision.  We hear so much gossip and things that aren’t true that our minds can’t process the path to a right decision.  It’s unsettling to be confused.

Think about the poor man who received a package for the birdhouse he had ordered from a “do it yourself” company.  After completing the construction of his birdhouse, the man wrote the following letter to the company:

I built a birdhouse according to your stupid plans, and not only is it much too big, it keeps blowing out of the tree. 

Signed, Unhappy

The company decided to send the man a letter of their own:

Dear Unhappy,

We’re sorry about the mix-up.  We accidentally sent you a sailboat blueprint.  But if you think you’re unhappy- you should read the letter from the guy who came in last in the yacht club regatta!

 

Confusion- Theology

The people of Thssalonica found themselves confused over Jesus’ return:

  • Did it already happen and they missed it?
  • Will it ever happen?

There was a lot of teaching coming into the city.  And much of it was false teaching.  Just like today, people were taking Paul’s words and spinning them so they fit the way we want them to work.  And so when Paul sits down to write this letter to the Thessalonian church, he feels compelled to say “I didn’t say that!”  and “How could you miss what I said???”

We have a way of thinking that truth changes, or is somehow relative to our own circumstances: “It may have been true then, but it’s not true now.”  When we start going down the road of saying something that’s contrary to God’s Word, we WILL get confused.  The Bible speaks to this many times:

James 1:5-8

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. NIV

2 Thessalonians 2:3a

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way …    NIV

1 Timothy 4:1-2

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.   NIV

2 Peter 1:16

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.   NIV

Matthew 24:4-6

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.   NIV

In our text Paul gives them some explanation to help calm their worries and to help them stand firm in their faith.  After all, it’s difficult to stand firm when your faith is faltering.  It’s difficult to remain firm when you’re hearing false teaching instead of becoming grounded in God’s word.

Do we know what we believe and why we believe it?  Eugene Peterson, in The Message, puts it this way:

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead.  As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse,  dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical,  treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

2 Timothy 4:3-5

You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food — catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages.

 

Confusion- False Gods

The Old Testament prophet Amos experienced the same kind of confusion in his day.  He repeatedly tries to encourage God’s people to remain focused and true to God.  he encourages them to remain free from following other doctrines and forms of religion.

In Amos 5:8, he encourages the people to “seek” the One who made the stars, the constellations, the One who created the day, night, the waters, and the sea.  We should rely upon the God “who controls the 24 hour cycle of day and night.” (reference).

This is similar language to what we read in Job (using Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase)…

All by himself he stretches out the heavens and strides on the waves of the sea.  He designed the Big Dipper and Orion, the Pleiades and Alpha Centauri.  We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can’t be counted.

“Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters, or distract Orion from his hunt?  Can you get Venus to look your way, or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play?  Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations and how they affect things on Earth?

One Bible commentary (reference) states it well:  We should be seeking the “God whose dominion was unchallenged in Heaven and was irresistible on earth.

But in our confusion, do we come to God or do we try to seek other “gods”?

 

Single Point Sermon…

Let Faith Illuminate Every Situation

 We need to trust God’s promises- NOT our feelings!  Faith is needed to discover the promises and to trust them.  We must Seek to know God’s truth…

Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  NKJV

And the language here means to KEEP seeking.  KEEP knocking.  KEEP asking.  Proverbs reminds us to not give up seeking, because if we do all we’ll have is our own understanding- and that won’t work…

Proverbs 3:5-6

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.  NKJV

 

Trusting God can be Hard

The Christians at Thessalonica were familiar with Old Testament prophecies about the Day of the Lord.  Amos told the particularly scary parts in 5:18:

“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light.    NKJV

One one hand they heard Paul talking about the Good Shepherd coming back for His sheep…

May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers. MSG

And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.  Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.  And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence — we have the Master’s word on it — that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us.  The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise — they’ll go first.  Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master.  Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.   MSG

But on the other hand, there was increasing pressure and persecution in Thessalonica, and some of the brothers felt like they may have missed the Second Coming and the heresy was just bringing all kinds of confusion and fear.  In short, their faith was becoming a burden rather than a support!

Often I fear we’re like the man who fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down.  The following conversation ensued:

MAN:  Is anyone up there? 

GOD:  I am here. I am the Lord.  Do you believe me?

MAN:  Yes Lord, I really believe.  But I can’t hang on much longer.

GOD:  That’s ok.  If you really believe, you have nothing to worry about.   I will save you.  Just let go of the branch.

After a moment of pause…

MAN:  Is anyone else up there?

 

What is Trust?

In the Second Century, Clement of Alexandria wrote:

“Faith is a voluntary anticipation.”

The great Methodist Missionary E. Stanley Jones said:

“Faith isn’t merely your holding on  to God; it is God holding on to you.  He will not let you go.”

 

Hebrews 11:1 says (according to Eugene Peterson’s The Message):

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

Scripture tells us to let our faith in the Lord govern our decisions. We tend to let our “reason” (common sense) take over.  That always causes spiritual fizzle of faith.  It happened in Thessalonica, and it happens today.  In Jude 1:17-23, scripture predicts that there will be “mockers” (“scoffers”) in our times…

Click here to learn more

16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.

19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. Maintain Your Life with God

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  And on some have compassion, making a distinction;  but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. NKJV

 

 

How Do We Live by Faith?

How do we follow what Jude said in Jude 3: “learn to trust the truth of the faith once delivered to the saints.”???

Faith for each individual is a matter of investigating all God has said on an issue,  and then, because most faith issues cannot be proven with human reason (or popularity polls!), you have to take a step out into unsupported territory and believe because you choose to believe!

Those who play golf often tell us the following…

When you swing the golf club, if you try to peek where the shot is going to go before you actually swing the club, you sill mess up your swing. Keeping your eye on the ball is a matter of trusting the swing.

Nobody can prove to you that it will be better that way…. but it is!  Faith in your shot has to inform your logic/reasoning about wanting to peek.

As we allow our faith to lead us, it is important to remember that it is not the situation itself upon which we focus.  Our real occupation,  our first calling, our primary focus, is to look for the truth of God’s Word in every situation and to look for the presence of Christ.  Let your faith interpret the times, so that you are not deceived- but don’t let the times throw you into despair… you are called to be victorious!

 

Conclusion

If you think you’re confused, then consider the marriage mayhem created when 76 year old Bill Baker of London recently wed Edna Harvey…

Edna happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother.  That’s where the confusion began!

According to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn:

“My mother in law is now my step grandmother.  My grandfather is now my step father in law.  My mom is my sister in law and my brother is my nephew.  But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle and my own children are my cousins!”

 

Life throws us a lot of curves; twists and turns create confusion.  But when we focus on God’s Word, we can have all confusion cleared up, and we can stand firm in our faith.

 

 


 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

 

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