Sept 18, 2010
Sept 18, 2010
Do not fret—it only causes harm. Psalm 37:8b
Motivational writer Dale Carnegie asked Captain Eddie Rickenbacker what was the biggest lesson he learned from 21 days in a lifeboat, hopelessly adrift in the Pacific. Rickenbacker said, “The biggest lesson I learned from the experience was that if you have all the fresh water you want to drink and all the food you want to eat, you ought never to complain about anything.”1
The Bible says something similar: “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
We so easily fret about a thousand things every day, tying ourselves into knots of worry. But we have a heavenly Father who knows our needs, and Psalm 37 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart… Trust also in Him… Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…. Do not fret—it only causes harm.”
This year, resolve by God’s grace to worry less, trust Him more, and live with joy and thankfulness for all He gives us.
The habit of looking on the best side of every event is worth more than a thousand pounds a year. Samuel Johnson
Mountain-size obstacles are part of living in a fallen world. They come in all forms—financial struggles, relational frustrations, health issues, and any number of other situations. Jesus said we would have trouble in this life; it’s unavoidable. However, there is hope because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
When our problems seem overwhelming, Jesus tells us to have faith in God and pray. Today’s passage is well loved because it seems like a blanket promise for whatever we want: Verse 24 sounds as if all we have to do is believe we’ll receive what we request, and it will be granted. However, this scripture cannot stand alone, apart from the rest of the Bible. So let’s consider two qualifications for this promise.
God is committed to removing only those obstacles that are hindrances to His will. Jesus is our primary example for this truth. When He faced the prospect of dying on a cross as the sin-bearer for mankind, it could have seemed like a mountain that needed to be removed, but His prayers were governed by these words: “Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
We must also make sure that we are not the obstacle standing in God’s way. Jesus points out in Mark 11:25-26 that an unforgiving spirit breaks our fellowship with God, thereby hindering our prayers. In fact, any sin we tolerate becomes a barrier between us and the Lord.
Our first reaction to obstacles should be self-examination. Ask God, “Is there sin in my life? Do my requests align with Your will?” Only then can we confidently ask Him to move our mountains.
“And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.” (2 Samuel 15:30)
The Mount of Olives overlooks Jerusalem from the east. This first reference to it notes the sad occasion when King David had to flee Jerusalem for his life, escaping the conspiracy of his estranged son Absalom.
Just as David wept over Jerusalem as he left it, so would his greater son, Jesus, a thousand years later, weep over the city as He entered it from Mount Olivet (Luke 19:37, 41). It was there that He gave the great prophecy of His second coming (Matthew 24:3). It was also there He went with His disciples after the last supper, and there He agonized in prayer, alone, in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:26, 32). Finally, after His death and resurrection, it was from the Mount of Olives that He ascended back into heaven (Acts 1:10-12).
This is far from the end of the story, however. The Mount of Olives has an amazing role yet to play in the world’s future, according to a prophecy given long ago. “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, . . . And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:1, 4). Instead of a mountain there will be a valley, and “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem” (v. 8). Instead of a mountain for weeping there will be a stream of rejoicing, and “the LORD shall be king over all the earth” (v. 9). HMM
The present portion of Scripture contains the sad record of the Fall, in which through our first parents we all fell
The devil often begins as if he were an enquirer.
She should have been more precise. God did not say, “lest ye die,” but “ye shall surely die.” Error commences in little departures from truth.
He cruelly slanders God. He hints that God was afraid that man would grow too great.
See the progress of sin, she listened, she saw, she took, she gave to Adam. She had been wiser if she had turned away at first.
He throws the blame on God for giving him a wife. Alas! what wretched ingratitude.
Sinners are ready with excuses, and yet they have never a good one. Open confession of our wrongdoing is far better.
Here a blessed promise lies like a pearl in a shell. The serpent’s curse is for us a blessing, for Jesus our Saviour is therein foretold.
See how obliquely the curse falls. It glances rather on the ground than on man. Wondrous is God’s mercy.
Thus sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.
Yet, mighty God, thy wondrous love
Can make our nature clean,
While Christ and grace prevail above
The tempter, death, and sin.
The second Adam shall restore
The ruins of the first,
Hosanna to the sovereign power
That new creates our dust.
Do you ever get bored with church or with your spiritual life? If you say, “Yes, I get bored with my spiritual life all the time,” I want to help you understand the root of that spiritual boredom.
There is one primary reason why people get spiritually bored. It is very simple: Knowledge without application eventually becomes boring and unfulfilling—every time.
If all you do is sit and listen, listen, and listen to the Word without ever taking steps to apply it to your life, you’ll soon reach a place where you’ve heard, heard, and heard so much of the Word that you are sick of hearing it! Instead of anticipating what you might receive from the Lord, you’ll think, Oh, no, another sermon!
But the problem isn’t the Word! God’s Word was meant to be acted on. So if you just sit and listen to more and more sermons, gathering more and more information but never acting on what you’ve heard, you’ll eventually become so oversaturated that you won’t want to hear any more!
If this describes you, it is likely that you are tired of hearing the same ol’ Word over and over again. You probably wish someone would come along to preach or teach you something that you’ve never heard before. You might even find yourself roaming from church to church, seeking someone or something to spice up your spiritual life. However, the problem is not the church, your pastor, or the kind of preaching you are hearing. The problem is you!
You are bored because you’re not doing the Word that you’ve heard preached. Let me tell you the truth: If you will simply do what you have already been told to do, you won’t have time to be bored!
Applying the Word you already know will necessitate that you have a serious prayer life. It will require great discipline; it will demand that you learn to crucify your flesh. In fact, walking in the kind of obedience that God expects of you will take every ounce of your focus. You’ll be so busy trying to obey what you’ve already heard preached that you’ll never have a moment to be bored!
This is why James 1:22 tells us: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Notice especially the words “hearers only” in the verse above. These words are taken from the Greek word akroates, which was used in classical Greek times to describe people who audited a class rather than taking it for credit.
In other words, these people didn’t attend the class to receive credit for the course. They were simply there to hear the lecture, think about what was taught, and then later discuss it with their friends. But they had no intention of actually applying what they heard!
In addition to being intellectually stimulating, these lectures could be quite entertaining. So these “hearers only” would roam from meeting to meeting because they loved special speakers and the excitement of hearing something they hadn’t heard before. Sometimes they followed their favorite speakers from city to city.
Although the “hearers only” had no intention of applying anything they heard, they loved to gather new information that made them look knowledgeable in the eyes of other people. It was their delight to attend meetings in order to be with the crowd, to have a good laugh, or simply to hear something new. But they never put any action to what they heard, because they were “hearers only.” They weren’t listening to the messages they heard to get credit for it, but simply to have a good time!
This means James 1:22 conveys this idea:
“Don’t be like those who attend meetings and listen to sermons for the sole purpose of being with the crowd or of gathering information that makes them look smart in other people’s eyes….”
Since this is the background to the phrase “hearers only” used in James 1:22, we must take a good look at ourselves and ask:
The fact is, many people attend church regularly, go to special meetings, read books, listen to teaching tapes, and watch nonstop Christian television. They’ve seen a lot, heard a lot, and they really do know a lot—yet they do nothing with what they have heard. That’s why they eventually become bored with spiritual matters. They haven’t acted on what they’ve heard or put into practice the information they’ve gathered; therefore, they’ve become oversaturated and spiritually numb.
Don’t let this happen to you. Make the decision to be a “doer of the Word and not a hearer only.” Receive deep into your heart the truths you’ve heard preached over the years and let them begin to work in your life. You can be sure of this one thing: If you determine to obey every scriptural truth that’s ever been preached to you, you’ll never have time to become spiritually bored again!
Lord, I ask You to help me become a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. Forgive me for the times I’ve heard the Word of God preached in power and even said “Amen” to the message, yet failed to walk out the truth I heard or to make it a part of my life. Starting today, I make the decision to be a doer of the Word of God. Holy Spirit, give me the strength and divine energy I need to take the Word I hear or read and put it into practice in my life!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I declare that I am a doer of the Word of God. I am among those who hear the Word and immediately apply it to their lives. I experience the power of God’s Spirit in my life because of my obedience to walk in what God has revealed to me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Paradoxically, the same holds true in the spiritual realm. For example, when we:
“If you continue in my word… you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31, 32)
“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don‘t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends. Realize that they have come to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on and you will realize that you have become men of mature character WITH THE RIGHT KIND OF INDEPENDENCE.” (James 1:2-4 Phillips Translation)
“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things… Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim… I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. (literally: rendered ineffective)… for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27; 2 Peter 2:19)
Paul speaks forcefully to this issue of discipline in stating:
“Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.” (1 Timothy 4:7 – The Message Translation)
I need to ask myself whether I AM WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE OF DISCIPLINE TO ACHIEVE FREEDOM. The toll exacted upon me for the lack of discipline will, in the long run, far exceed the price I now pay for freedom through discipline!