Which One Are You?
Posted on 05/31/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
I need to give myself over to God again, I did it once, but can't seem to give him everything I should! I try, but everyday is the same. Please pray that I let him into my heart again and let him guide my life. Thank You
i pray for myself to become a better person and thanking god to see another day
I am a youth minister in the states and run a youth center for at risk youth please pray we have money to keep it open
Please pray GOD gives me all the desires of my heart that are righteous in GODs eyes.Pray GOD sends me on the mission He has for me now,Pray GOD raises me a mile above those used by Satan to glorify GOD,Pray GOD Blesses me financially now and always.Pray GOD heals my body completely now.Pray GOD brings me my soulmate now In JESUS Name Amen.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
EVEN THE MOUNTAINS
We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high
Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
in Jesus' name
I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above
Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true.
It's my joy to honor You,
In all I do,
I honor You.
You are my King, Jesus
You are my King
If the Son has set you free,
you are free indeed!
FATHER, SPIRIT, JESUS
Father, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love You
Spirit, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love You
Jesus, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love You
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
I'd like to approach today's message a little differently than usual. As usual, every truth will come from the Scriptures. But our approach to the issues may seem a bit unspiritual.
And with that introduction, I'd like to ask our opening question: Which character from Winnie the Pooh are you?
Okay now, don't get all spiritual on me. You'll see where I'm going with this soon enough. And I'll bet you'll see yourself in one or more of these characters. But most importantly, we're going to see what the Word of God says to us, regardless of what strengths or weaknesses we have.
Let's start with Eeyore. He's always gloom and doom. A rain cloud seems to follow him wherever he goes. He always expects the worst, and generally ends up being either right, or gloomily accepts when things go unexpectedly well.
What would an Eeyore Christian look like? "Ho hum. It's just me. Not much of a house for not much of a Christian. No one shook my hand at church today. But it doesn't really matter. No one ever does."
And how about when the Eeyore Christian prays? "Dear God, I don't really expect that you'll do what I ask, but it doesn't really matter. Might as well tell you about it. Things can't get any worse anyway. Even though they probably will."
Poor Eeyore. His life is a self-fulfilling prophecy of gloom and doom. He's surrounded by friends, but thinks he's an outcast. Every time he builds a house, Tigger manages to bounce it down. He is downtrodden and opressed. Such a sad little fellow.
Do you see a little bit of Eeyore in youself? Maybe even just at times, just when things aren't going the way you'd like them to?
Well, here's some encouragement and exortation from the Word of God for the Eeyore Christian.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Rejoice, pray, and give thanks even when Tigger bounces your house down? Even when the water heater explodes, the washer machine breaks down, and the car won't start? Even when there isn't any money left to pay the bills or buy groceries?
In EVERYTHING give thanks. This is the will of God for you, even for Eeyores.
James chapter one, verses two through four speak to one of Eeyore's strengths, one that perhaps you have. You see, no matter how many times his house would fall down, he would patiently build it back up. He never seemed to do a very good job, but he did his best. He had persistence. His trials produced patience.
James 1:2-4 says this:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
You may be silent, you may not zip around everywhere you go, you may not be outspoken, you might not ever bounce. But with the Holy Spirit working in you the nature of Christ, you can learn to rejoice always, praying in all situations, giving thanks in all things, counting it all joy when you go through trying times.
And you can expect the best -- GOD'S best -- in every situation. After all, nothing bad can happen to the believer.
"Wait a minute! That's ridiculous! Of course bad things can happen to Christians!"
Actually, they can't. We just don't know what's good and what's bad. Isn't a bad report from the doctor bad? Isn't having your car reposessed bad? Isn't losing a loved one in a plane crash bad? Isn't getting mugged bad?
Just maybe a bad report from the doctor is an opportunity for God to show his glory. Just maybe having your car reposessed will open the door for God to provide in another way. Just maybe your loved one was ready to go see Jesus, and may have gotten right with God in the last moments of their life. Maybe things will come out of your getting mugged that you can't even imagine.
But one thing is certain: bad things can't happen to Christians. Or, perhaps more appropriately, things that would be bad end up good for those who believe.
Romans 8:28 says,
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
You see, whatever was meant to harm us will help us; whatever was meant to destroy us will build us up; whatever was meant to bring us pain will result in our healing.
And it's because of this: if you have surrendered your life into God's hands, he's in control of it. And whatever was meant to harm you, whatever appears to be bad, he will turn around for good.
So in THAT sense, nothing bad, or nothing that will STAY bad, can happen to a Christian, for God has promised to turn it around for your good.
So even if you identify in some ways with Eeyore, there is hope for you, and the Bible is full of encouragement and instruction to give thanks in all things, to rejoice no matter the circumstances, to count it as joy when you go through trials, and to cast all your cares upon the Lord, believing that he will turn all the bad things in your life into gold.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says this:
8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
So even if your house keeps on falling down around you, you do not have to be crushed, you do not have to be perplexed, you do not have to be in despair; for you are not forsaken, and you will not be destroyed.
Next, let's consider Rabbit. He is always making plans, which almost always turn out to be based upon partial knowledge and which don't really work out all that well. He thinks quite highly of himself, and once said to Owl, "You and I have brains. The others have fluff." He also sees his relationship with Christopher Robin as being one on which Christopher depends.
You probably know a Rabbit Christian, and perhaps you can see some of his characteristics in yourself.
Of course, Rabbit didn't seem to realize that his ideas were based on incomplete knowledge, and I wouldn't expect that we who share his traits would realize it either; but when we're highly confident in our knowledge and our ability to formulate superior plans that the others just couldn't come up with, then we just might be more like Rabbit than we realize.
The Rabbit Christian might not actually say "We have brains, while the others have fluff," but he or she is likely to come accross that way.
"You need to read the Bible, because it clearly says that the doctrine I just told you is true. If you had any discernment, you would know that so-and-so is not of God. I know the Bible and history much better than most people, so I'm an authority on this, and very qualified to teach and lead the less informed."
But the Rabbit Christian will have a hard time accepting that God might ask them to quietly serve and humbly follow, while ordaining someone much less clever than he to teach and lead even him into truth.
Do you see a little bit of Rabbit in yourself? The Bible is full of instruction for the Rabbit Christian, and he or she would do well to thoroughly study out a matter before coming to a conclusion, spending more time reading and praying and less time making plans.
2 Timothy 2:15 tells us this:
15 Diligently study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, correctly understanding and teaching the Word of Truth.
The words "diligently study" are translated "study" in the King James, and "(be) diligent" in several other versions. The original word means to exert yourself, to endeavour, to give diligence; and in the context of this verse, that would be done through studying and meditating upon the Holy Scriptures. Not just reading something and running off to plan your doctrinal statement, but digging, referencing, praying about, and truly studying the Scriptures.
Interestingly enough, this same word can also mean to make haste or to hasten, which is quite the opposite of its meaning in this verse. Exerting yourself, endeavouring to diligently study, takes time and patience: two things Rabbit generally has very little of.
Next, the Rabbit Christian might take note of the third verse in a couple of chapters of the Bible, one in Romans 12 and the other in Philippians 2.
Romans 12:3 says,
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
And Philippians 2:3 says,
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Rabbit might think he's pretty smart, much smarter than the others, and he may or may not be right about that; but he or she should remember that brains do not equal wisdom, and they cannot succeed on a solo mission to reveal spiritual truth.
Proverbs 3:5-7 tells us this:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean not on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths, making them plain and straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
So if you see a bit of Rabbit in you, then receive direction from the Word of the Lord.
First, think of others more highly than yourself, not being elevated in your own mind, but seeing others as equals who excel you in ways you may never know.
Second, take time to study, study, and study some more, being diligent to meditate upon, pray about, and seek Godly counsel concerning spiritual truth in the Word of God.
Third, don't depend upon your own intelligence, but instead lean upon God, committing everything and every matter into his hands, waiting upon him to direct your paths, making them plain and straight.
And finally, don't think of yourself as wise, but instead, fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
So we've read a little of what the Word of God says to both the Eeyore and the Rabbit Christian. Next, let's take a look at my mother-in-law's favorite character, Piglet.
Piglet is a very small creature who is very timid and often very afraid. He's often seen shaking, hiding under a bed, and saying "Oh dear!"
He doesn't think he can do much of anything, and thinks the others are so much more gifted than he.
Even the tiniest little thing or sound or imagination can scare Piglet, no matter how much he wants to be brave.
Maybe you see a little bit of Piglet in you. Maybe you tend to worry a lot, or to be afraid of this or that. You don't WANT to worry, you don't WANT to be so afraid, but you feel so small in a world full of such big dangers, and that causes you to worry and to be afraid.
But the Word of God says this to you, in Isaiah chapter 41 and verse 10:
10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
And who is this who is with you? Who is this who will help you?
Isaiah 40:15-18, 21-23 describe him like this:
15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
17 All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.
18 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23 He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless.
You see, no matter how small and powerless you may feel, compared to God, everything is small and powerless. And he has promised to strengthen you and to help you.
So it doesn't matter how small you are or how much or how little you can do. Dare to take your eyes off of yourself and off of the circumstances and the "what-if's" and "could-be's," and instead turn your eyes to Jesus.
If God is for you, who can be against you? For greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. Your own size and strength don't matter. For the battle is not yours; it is the Lord's.
So when you start to worry or be afraid, just remember how big God is; just remember that he has promised to strengthen you and help you; and you can speak the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 17:1 and 3,
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
3 Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.
You see, you really don't have anything to fear, not when God is with you. And you really don't have any reason to worry. As Jesus said in Matthew chapter six, verses 25 through 33:
25 ...Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Now, we could talk about the other characters and find similarities and, of course, truth from God's Word for all of our lives. But the point I'd like to drive home today is this: In the middle of all our good points and bad, and in spite of all our strengths and weaknesses, God knew us from before time began, and he has written words just for you, knowing all you'd ever go though, and who you are and will become.
You may need to learn how to count it all joy and be thankful in every situation, realizing that no matter what comes against you, and even when everything seems to go wrong, God has promised to turn it all into something good.
You may need to demote yourself in your own estimation, realizing you don't have the corner on intelligence, and others excel above you in ways you may not ever know. You may need to study a little harder, dig a little deeper, and not be so quick to formulate a plan and come to a conclusion. You may need to learn how to stop depending on your own intelligence and understanding, and instead learn to lean upon and put all your trust in God, committing the plans to him, and trusting him to lead and direct your paths.
You may need to learn how to take your eyes off your smallness, to take your eyes of your problems and the things that cause you fear, to take your eyes off what could happen, and instead learn to take refuge in the shadow of the Most High God, knowing that he has promised to strengthen you and help you, and that as long as you follow and delight in him, he will take care of all the rest.
But God's Word has gone forth, and if you take it inside of you, put it before your eyes, before your ears, and revel in it as you would anything else you adore, then it will change your life for the better, and the Holy Spirit will use it to shape you more into the image of Christ.
And no matter which of these examples you identified with today, remember that when you lift your voice in praise, the power of the enemy is broken. The chains that hold you bound are freed so you can lift your hands in praise. And the gloom, the pessimism, the pride, the reliance in your own mind or abilities, and the fear and the worry, will fade away for a time, as He fills your whole vision, and His face is all you see.
The ministry team can come to the front now.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I would like to invite you to get out of your seat and come to the front, and speak with one of these on the ministry team. All you need to do is come to Jesus on his terms, agreeing to turn away from sin with his power, and giving your life to him; and he will make you a brand new creation.
If you've recognized yourself in some of these characters today, and have seen that your life needs a bit of adjustment to line up with the Word of God, you're also invited to come to the altar.
If you need to go, you're free to do so, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to join us in the room to your left for a time of fellowship.
If you'd like to just spend some time with God praying or worshiping, you're all invited to get out of your seat and come gather at the altar.