Right Action Right Now
Posted on 09/03/2017 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 ***
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CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY
by Charles Wesley
Christ the Lord is ris'n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav'ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Foll'wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
ALL OF ME
by Benjamin R. Faust
I give you all of me
I give you all of me O Lord
I give you all of me
Come fill this place
Fill me with your Spirit Lord
So I may do your will and walk in your way
Keep me in your presence
Every moment, I pray
So I will always love you
So I will always love you
YOU ARE MY ALL
by Benjamin R. Faust
You are my life
You are my strength
You are my song, Jesus
You are my heart
You are my soul
I want the whole world to know
That you are everything to me
And for all eternity
I will sing your praises
I give you my life
I give you my strength
I give you my song, Jesus
I give you my heart
I give you my soul
For you have made me whole!
*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***
You might have heard it said that if you want things to be different than they are now, you have to change something. And common sense would tell us this is true. But today, perhaps we might consider something a little deeper:
For most of us, is the right question whether we want things to be different than they are right now? Things will always be as they are. Maybe not as they were yesterday. Maybe not as they might be tomorrow. But they will always be as they always are. And instead of focusing on changing things, maybe we could simply take right action right now.
Have you ever said that some day you need to do such-and-such to change something you don't like? And then time goes by, and it never gets done. Or, more accurately, right now it is not done.
The only time you can do or say or not do or not say anything at all is right now.
So am I saying that we shouldn't dislike our current situations? Well, let's let the Scriptures answer that one.
Philippians 4:11b-13 (NKJV)
11b I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Okay, so does that mean that we just sit around and never do anything? No, that's just silly. It's a common idea produced by the natural mind that we need to dislike what IS before we can do anything productive.
But just maybe... just perhaps... it just might be that our natural minds are giving us excuses why we should be unhappy about something.
How would we react to someone who says to us, "If I don't have food to eat, I'm okay with that. If I don't have water to drink, I'm okay with that too."
We would think them a fool. An idiot. Someone who probably deserves to starve or dehydrate, simply because their attitude obviously makes them lazy and too indifferent to even take care of their own needs.
But that's basically what Paul said. "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Everywhere and in all things. I have learned both to be full and to be hungry; both to abound and to suffer need."
He didn't say he just gives thanks despite his circumstances, but he says he is CONTENT.
And yet, Paul was far from being lazy. He didn't go sit on a rock somewhere and blissfully waste away to bones and dust. Instead, he was a powerful evangelist, a highly active apostle, a writer of a good portion of the New Testament Scriptures, and he even worked a secular job and paid his own way.
And yet, when he didn't even have food to eat, that was okay with him. He was content to be hungry. Just as much as he was content to be well fed.
Curiouser and curiouser. Down the rabbit hole with Paul. Except unlike Alice, Paul sounds as though he might have just sat there and been content to be trapped in that room at the bottom of the tree forever. Right?
So the earthly mind says. But it says that because it's used to being in control, and it secretly believes that it provides for our every need, and if we stopped doing things its way, we would become a "mindless" zombie and die.
"Mindless." The mind came up with that word. "Mindless" is a concept that means, "This is the horrible thing that will happen to you if you don't do things MY way."
And the earthly mind's "way" is to worry. To dislike things and circumstances. To look for something that supposedly needs to change. To make a problem out of "what is."
In Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV), Jesus says this:
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.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Was Jesus saying we should all be hippies, quit our jobs, and sit around singing happy songs all day? He said that, instead of being concerned with having food to eat and clothes to wear, we should seek after the Kingdom, and after God's righteousness, and then we'll have what we need. Isn't that the same thing?
Let's read the same account from the book of Luke.
Luke 12:22-34 (NKJV)
22 Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.
23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.
24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?
25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?
29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.
30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.
31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.
34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Now, that one ends even more hippyish, doesn't it? "Sell what you have and give alms." So Jesus is telling us we should sell everything we have -- our car, our house, our computers, our extra clothes -- and then go around homeless and jobless seeking the Kingdom. Right?
If so, then we should just throw out the writings of Paul, who by the way said he was okay with starving to death, right? After all, he said in 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 that if someone refused to work, he shouldn't eat. And in 1st Timothy 5:8, he says, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
Wait a minute... Didn't Jesus say we should seek the kingdom and not worry about whether we have food and clothes? And didn't Paul say that we should be fully content even if we're starving to death?
And so our earthly mind concludes that the Bible must contradict itself. Obviously. Right?
I read Jesus' words from two places, because I like the way they were recorded in both accounts.
In the account in Luke chapter 12, verse 26 says, "If you are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?"
The New American Standard puts it this way: "If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?"
Of course the context there was that you can't make yourself taller by thinking about it. Some hypnotists would rightly disagree, but we're talking about principles, not whether the mind can affect the body. You won't make yourself any taller by sitting there fighting in your mind with your how tall you are right now.
And then in verse 29 He says, "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind." We tend to accept that one without any problems, because we've heard it so many times, and we know we aren't supposed to worry about stuff. But then He goes on to say we should sell everything and give away the money to charity.
Or does He? Is that what He actually said, or is it our earthly minds trying to scare us by suggesting that Jesus wants us to be homeless hippies with no posessions, and if we don't do that, then we shouldn't worry about whether we worry?
Of course I'm just having fun with the passages here. And I'm doing this for a reason. Just maybe it would do us some good to take a closer look at what Jesus said, find out what He meant, and see if it lines up with the ideas we have about how we should approach things now.
Okay. So let's look at this. Let's listen for the voice of God as it speaks to us through the Scriptures.
Paul said he is content with whatever happens. And Jesus said to seek the Kingdom, sell what we own, and not worry about whether we can eat. And yet other passages in Scripture say we have responsibilities and should be willing to work if we expect to be allowed to eat.
Well, here's something that might help us to reconcile the two, and that something is this:
Perhaps God is telling us that:
1. We should be fully content with whatever circumstances we have right now.
2. We shouldn't be concerned with whether we have enough food or clothes.
3. We should let go of our earthly posessions.
4. We should always take "right action" right now.
Right action. Righteousness. Of course we know Righteousness is being right in the eyes of God; being in right standing with Him. But it also means doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing. The right thing right now.
You can't go to work tomorrow; because when what you call "tomorrow" comes, and it is time for you to go to work, then it will be NOW.
So you can't take action tomorrow. You can take right action only now.
Right now, what is the right action for you to take? Maybe that right action is to do nothing. To just sit. To just listen for a word from the Lord.
Right now, you can't turn on the computer you're currently using and log in, because that's already done. That's not the right action right now. But because you did that right action when you did, you are hearing this right now.
But it doesn't matter right now whether you did that in the past. Obviously, you did. And because you did, it can be no other way.
Now, don't be stuck in distraction trying to make all this into something you can put in a neat little box. I'm not teaching you anything, I'm just stating the way things are. And while you may or may not have THOUGHT about things being this way, you already KNOW that's how things are.
So if you're hungry and you don't have food to eat right now, what should you do? Well, let's pretend this service is over and you've already stepped away from your computer. Obviously you haven't, but let's pretend you have. Do you have money and transportation? Then the right thing to do right now would be to take one step in the direction of the door. After that, you'll get in your car. You'll drive. You'll be at the store. You'll get that one grocery item. Then you'll get the next. Then, when you're at the checkout, not before and not after, but when you're there, you'll take one item out of your cart and put it on the counter. And then you'll take out another. When the cashier tells you how much you owe, you'll take out the money or the card and pay. Not before, not after.
Paying before you get to the checkout isn't the right action right now. Paying after you leave the store obviously isn't the right action right now, and they'll make sure you find that out.
You're not just sitting around starving to death, but you're also fully content with what IS right now. And in that state of complete contentment, you take right action right now.
Suppose you DON'T have money for food, and you DON'T have transportation. Well, do you have someone you can call? Call them now. Is there nothing you can do? Then do nothing. Let your request be made known unto God with a heart filled with thanksgiving. And be content. Fully content. Fully content right now. Regardless of your circumstances. And out of that place of still peace, you will take the right action right now.
Have you ever had so much to do that you were overwealmed? Maybe you had so much cleaning to do, that you kept avoiding getting started? Or you had so many errands to do in such a short period of time, that you could barely even take a breath?
It's because you can do only one thing at a time. Maybe your plans are to get the kids up, fix breakfast, make sure the kids are dressed and at the table, get them out the door on time to catch the school bus, drive the younger one to daycare, go to a meeting, get the laundry done, pick up the little one, buy groceries, take junior to ball practice and little missy to dance class, cook dinner, feed everyone, help with homework, clean up their messes, get them to bed, and after 5 and a half minutes of "me" time, finally collapse.
That might be what a single parent does in a day. Or more. But it can be stressful, right? And in the middle of all those pressures, the car breaks down.
"No!!! This can't be happening!!! This is bad!!! God SURELY doesn't expect me to be CONTENT with this, does He?"
But we forget: the only time you can take right action is right now, and the only action that's right for right now is that ONE action. All the rest are OUT OF PLACE. They do not belong right now.
Your earthly mind is acting as though you have to do EVERYTHING right now. But if you have a broken down car, the ONLY right thing to do right now is to reach for your phone and call someone for help, or to pull the hood release, open it, and see if you can fix it yourself. Just two possibilities.
And you ask God for wisdom and direction, and you accept whether He gives you immediate revelation or you just sit there in silence. Whichever comes, that's what "is" right now.
You don't HAVE to be at the office in five minutes, even though you THINK you DO. How can I say that? Well, just wait and see. After SIX minutes go by, see if you're still alive. Yes? Okay, then I guess you DIDN'T "HAVE" to be somewhere right now that you're not, and you don't HAVE to be in some other circumstance than you are. In fact, the only RIGHT place to be right now is where you are, with your car, and the only RIGHT thing to do is what you can do RIGHT NOW.
Fully content. How? Well, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. And, of course, it helps if you're not fighting against that with which you're supposed to be content.
And I'm not talking about suppressing the negatives feelings you might have; they are what they are, and with them, you are content. It's okay that your mind is throwing a fit. You are not your mind, and you can let it be, as you are, in stillness, aware of your mind and its antics, aware of the sounds all around you, without judging or fighting against them.
I'm not talking to your mind, and it can't handle that. I'm talking to you, and your mind might be throwing a fit about that. But that's okay. With that, you can be content, as you take the right action right now to accept what the Bible says and what you already know is true.
Yes, you're taking the action that's right for what's happening right now. And in that action, you're fully accepting what is.
It's called trusting God. You believe God is good. You believe He is in control. You believe that whatever is happening or not happening right now, God's hands are continuously shaping it into good. Always good.
And because you trust God, because you fully accept where He has you right now and the circumstances in which He has placed you, and because you are not fighting against what is, you start to automatically become content. Fully content. Without grumbling or complaining. Taking right action, the only one action that is right right now.
And life becomes beautiful. Well, it already was; but when your earthly mind is left speachless because you are no longer getting lost in its fighting and complaining and its discontent, then you can KNOW, first hand, just how beautiful life really is.
For you. Right now. And that's just the way it is.
Let's go ahead and close today's service with a time of prayer, ministry, and inner stillness. Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way up the steps into the room on your left when you're finished here, and we'll meet there in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.
If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message one of us, or if you're listening at a different time or outside of Second Life, you can point your Internet browser to almcyberchurch.org, click the Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.
Come, and let's surrender to God's perfect and ever-present goodness and wisdom, as we submit to always taking Right Action Now.