Posted on 05/08/2011 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:
This is a praise and a prayer request. I live in Harvest, Alabama, USA. On Wednesday, April 27, 150 tornadoes ripped through North Alabama. At least one tornado come down the exact same track as the previous one. They came in three major waves of tornados which took the majority of the day. Eight people were killed in Harvest alone, with numerous others being killed in North Alabama. Widespread damage was done, with a house just around the corner from us having a tree come through their daughter's bedroom window and other tree knocking at least three other holes in their roof. Other houses were destroyed completely. A Church of Christ just a short distance up the road from us had their walls reduced to about 3 feet high and their roof and steple laid to the side of the building. Power to most of the area was off until at least May 2, with telephones service down as well. The major providers of power to the areas were hit as well, with transformers being struck and destroyed. There are trees and power lines down all over the area. It is a praise, because our family suffered no injuries or damage to our house or cars, with only two large limbs being down in our yard. Many others were not as fortunate. We were truly blessed, and thank God for sparing us! Please pray for those families who lost lives, and also their homes as well. Most of us lost the entire contents of our refrigerators and freezers. Power has now been restored to the majority of the area, although we have been asked to conserve as much as possible to avoid overloading the temporary fixes to the system. They have only done quick fixes to the power systems and full fixes may not be completed until August or September.
- Jean Hebert
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
RIVER OF LIFE
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free!
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole!
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly.
BLESS THE LORD
I will bless the Lord at all times
I will bless the Lord at all times
His praise shall continually
be in my mouth
GOD IS SO GOOD
Bless the Lord O my soul
and all that is within me
bless his holy name
For he has done great things
he has done great things
he has done great things
He's so good to me
He saved my soul
he saved my soul
he saved my soul
He's so good to me
He is coming soon
he is coming soon
he is coming soon
Bless his holy name
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
I think that sometimes we tend to think the will of God for our lives is something far away that we must work very hard to discover. But I can tell you a big part of God's will for your life right now.
And it is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Have you ever noticed that God does not generally show us the whole journey for our lives? Instead, He reveals one step at a time. And when we take that step, He reveals the next, at the proper time.
And since He has shown us that giving thanks in all things is His will for our lives, just maybe God is waiting for us to take THAT step before He shows us the next.
"Lord, why can't I seem to find out your will for my life?" For some of us, we just need to keep seeking Him, knowing He will show us at the proper time. For others, God has already shown us his will through his Word, and we just need to obey the directions He's already given us.
So the next time you are tempted to think that God doesn't speak to you or He hasn't shown you His will for your life, stop and examine your life, and ask yourself whether you have obeyed what He has said already; and if not, remember that, if you are rejecting His will and His voice by your disobedience, then He will withdraw them from you and leave in you in the spiritual silence you have chosen.
And if you want to break that silence, then obey.
Let's read from First Thessalonians chapter five, beginning with verse fourteen:
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Do you see a common theme in these verses? Or, rather, a state of heart that weaves them all together?
We're told here to warn the unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with everyone, to not give evil for evil but pursue good for everyone, to always rejoice, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all things, to not quench the Spirit, to not despise prophecies, to test all things and hold fast what is good, and to abstain from every form of evil.
Doesn't this sound like a very simple, solid way of life? We are not told to chase after pipe dreams, to always be seeking to gain more, or to run around in circles like a rat on a wheel. Instead, we are given the highlights of a life of righteous peace, one that is solid and in step with the perfect will of God.
John the Baptist shared the same message in Luke chapter three, starting with verse ten:
10 So the people asked (John), saying, "What shall we do then?"
11 He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
13 And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?"
So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."
First he tells the people that if they have two tunics, give one to someone who has none, and if they have food, let them give some to someone who has nothing to eat.
Do we have more of something than we need? Certainly God is a God of abundance. But He also is not a God of waste. If we see someone who has lack where we have abundance, let us be content to have what we need, and share the love of Christ with someone for whom He died.
The tax collectors were told to not cheat the people, but to be content with making an honest living.
And the soldiers were told to be content with their wages; and since God doesn't have double standards, WE are to be content as well.
Does God expect us to never speak out for change, to never seek to have a better existence? I suppose that would all depend on our motives. If we're greedy and don't realize what we have, then we need to put our focus in the right place and learn to be thankful for and content with the blessings God has given us.
How can we have truly thankful hearts if we are not content with those things for which we should be thankful? If you truly take the time to think about how blessed you really are, I believe you will experience some joy, and it will bring you closer to God.
First Timothy chapter six verses six through ten says this:
6 Now Godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Are riches evil? Well, we could also ask if the patriarchs were evil for being wealthy.
And the answer is "absolutely not." But when we pursue riches, our focus is in the wrong place. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the things we need will be added to us.
Let's read this in Matthew chapter six, beginning with verse 25:
25 "Therefore I say to you, 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.
And herein lies the secret to true contentment: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."
Today's message is not a call to poverty, but a call to true contentment.
Are you wealthy in material riches? Great! Be thankful for the blessings you have from God, and glorify Him with them all, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, putting your faith and trust in God and God alone.
Are you lacking in material riches? Great! Be thankful for the blessings you have from God, both seen and unseen, and glorify Him with them all, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, being content with what He has given you, and realizing the greatest riches is the wealth of the heart, which includes love, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, and truth.
As we read in Timothy, Godliness with contentment is great gain. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing of this world with us when we leave. If our hearts follow after the things of this world, then no matter what we think we gain, we really have nothing.
Jesus says in Matthew 6, 19 through 21,
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What do we consider true treasure? If we assign value to the things of this earth which pass away, which are corruptible, temporal, and fleeting, then that will become our treasure.
And even if we never posess what we desire, that which we deem as treasure will be where our heart is.
Jesus points us to a different focus here, a different standard of value. He says, "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal."
If our focus is on gain and on material riches, then everything we have will pass away and we will be left with nothing.
But If our focus is on the kingdom of God and His righteousness, on seeking His face and His presence, and on seeking to please Him and to do His will, then He will provide all our needs according to His measure of wealth, and our hearts will prize the true treasure which lasts forever.
You know, serving God the way WE think is right is not necessarily serving Him at all. Rather, discovering the path God has chosen for our lives and walking on that path, this is serving God.
Perhaps you are called to be a missionary or a great evangelist. Or perhaps you are called to be a husband or wife, and a mother or father.
Perhaps you are called to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Or perhaps you are called to dig ditches or wash cars.
Whatever God is calling you to do, there is no higher calling for you than that. A person called to be a dishwasher who instead becomes a world-famous evangelist has stepped down in his or her position, not up. For the highest position we can take is the position of obedience, and likewise the lowest position we can take is the position of disobedience to God.
So God is calling us to be content with the calling He has placed on our lives. And if we are faithful with a little, He will entrust us with much; but if we are discontent and unfaithful with a little, He will take away even what we think we have.
If we realize there is no higher calling than to obey God in even the smallest things He has told us to do, then we will find true contentment in them, and the value our heart places on them will begin to grow.
And what is God calling you to do? God is calling you to give thanks in all things, in all situations, in all circumstances, and to live a life of true contentment, placing your attention on seeking God's kingdom and His righteousness, and by placing value on the true riches which last forever.
In Hebrews thirteen, verses five and six we read,
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For Jesus Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear..."
Lord, thank you for speaking to us today through your Word. Thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for each of our lives. Forgive us for not being content with our callings, and with the many blessings you continue to pour out upon us every day.
Help us to make it a daily practice to ponder what you have given us, both the seen and the unseen, and help us place our focus and attention on seeking Your kingdom and Your righteousness in our lives, as we follow hard after You.
Let's close today's service with a time of prayer. This altar is open, and you're invited to get out of your seat and make your way to the front, as we surrender ourselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice, pleasing and acceptable in His eyes.
Whether you want to surrender to God your perception of what has value, you want to seek to have contentment in the life and calling God has given you, or you want to come to Jesus for the first time, rededicate your life to him, or simply seek His presence, then come.
If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to instant message me, Mariposa, or anyone else on the staff or ministry team.
And as we have this time of corporate prayer, let's think about all the things for which we should be thankful, taking the time to thank God for each one.
In a few minutes we'll meet in the Fellowship Room to your left for a time of fellowship; so when you're done here, feel free to make your way next door.
"May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; may He lift up His countenance on you and give you peace." -Numbers 6:22-27