Assorted Lessons for Us Life-Long Learners, Pt. 2
Study Guide, August 16, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
So, how much do you think the chocolate industry takes in each year in sales? How about 100 Billion dollars! Chocolate is an annual 100 Billion dollar industry. And worth every penny, right? Well, chocolate has always been viewed as super valuable throughout its history. In fact, the Mayans loved it so much they even gave it the name that the word ‘chocolate’ is derived from. They named it ‘xocoatl’, and it meant ‘food of the gods’. The Mayans even worshipped a god of cacao. Now that’s a serious chocolate addiction, don’t you think? Yes, and they reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests, and nobles at sacred ceremonies. Well, there’s a special place in my heart for chocolate, too, but obviously, they got a little carried away with it all.
However, the cacao bean does seem like one more evidence that this world was created by a very loving God…Coffee is the other evidence that settles that matter.
But, as an example of just how valuable chocolate has been throughout history, it is recorded that on one of the Spanish conquistador’s explorations to Mexico, Cortez was supposedly bringing back gold and silver. But on one trip all he brought back was chocolate. And everybody was happy with that! You could try that….you could do that with your presents for others. Just tell them you were going to give them gold and silver, but then you decided to go with chocolate instead. If it worked for Cortez…it could work for you…
Actually, chocolate has some benefits that gold and silver can’t give you. That’s right, chocolate has been found to have several benefits for your heart, with all its antioxidants. Other studies show how beneficial it is for the brain, assisting in improved cognitive functions. Chocolate is also called ‘good mood food’. That even has a nice ring to it. But really, it has substances that interact with dopamine and serotonin to assist with good mood regulation.
Anyway, before I get this box yanked away from me, we’d better move into some of the other wonderful assorted chocolate truths we began studying last time from the recent Promise Keeper’s Conference. And, of course, the benefits of these even far surpass the benefits of our beloved chocolates.
There’s a fascinating verse in the Proverbs which states: Prov 28:1- “The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” NLT And the reason why we can be bold, and also what we are to be bold about, is the same thing: Truth. We can be bold because of God’s truths, and because God’s truths have also set us free from sin and death. And therefore, we can be bold with others about God’s truths, and bold in sharing His truths with others, as long as we are careful to be something else as well…for the Benham brothers were particularly burdened about pointing out this particular ‘something’: They said we must remember that “boldness apart from brokenness makes a bully. But boldness with brokenness make a bridge…a bridge between God and others.” If our boldness before others is not connected with our brokenness before God, then others will be ‘put off’ by our proclamations because they will see us as ‘puffed up’. And when others see you as ‘puffed up’ they won’t see you as a ‘bridge’ to anything. In fact, the Apostle Paul warned us of this very thing. I love how the King James puts it: 1 Cor 8:1- “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” KJV So to be ‘puffed up’ is one thing, but to be ‘puffethed up’, that’s a real problem. Another version puts it like this: We know that “we all have knowledge,” as you say. But this knowledge puffs a person up with pride, while love helps the church grow stronger.” ERV
The Greek word is ‘phusioo’, and it does mean ‘to inflate’ or ‘to be inflated’. That’s quite a description of self-pride: to be ‘inflated with yourself’. No wonder they say that arrogant people are full of hot air. They sort of are…they are inflated with their own puffed up self-importance. That’s why we have the dual duty of speaking truth in love and loving in truth. It can’t be either-or because truth without love is legalism..and love without truth is licentiousness…but truth with love is liberty!
People around us need you and me to be their ‘bridge’ to truth…their ‘bridge’ to Christ. They have enough bullies around them, at their jobs, and in their social circles, and such. And they have enough bad influences around them, too, who just enable them to continue in their distorted opinions about right and wrong and such. What they need is someone who neither condemns them nor coddles them, but carries them…carries them like a bridge from where they are to where God is. Speaking truth in love and loving in truth is being that bridge. And that’s all that God is looking for you and for me to be. Remember, God is the One that draws people to Himself over the ‘people bridges’ He has put in their way. And He draws them to the Cross, which is the final bridge between people and God. And that is the final bridge of the Cross of Christ is where they can be set free from sin and saved with God. We are like small bridges helping people get to the final bridge of the Cross.
And that’s always what we are trying to accomplish with others…to help them become set free, to liberate them from the bondage of falsehood and sin and death. The goal in our relationships with others is not winning a debate, but helping them become free from their captivity to sin and death and the snare of the devil. Remember, others around you who have not yet been set free by embracing Jesus as the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life are all living in a condition of bondage. They live each day as a captive. Regardless of how they look on the outside, they are in bondage and captivity on the inside. Regardless of how alive they look physically, they are dead in trespasses and sin spiritually.
They live from a position of being spiritually dead, whereas, because Jesus has given us new life in Him, we live from a position of being spiritually alive. And as such, you and I are meant to be a bridge between others and God. And the way that you are perceived as a bridge by others is by staying broken before God. Now, not broken, as in unstable emotionally or unstable mentally or anything like that, but broken in the sense that the Psalmist described it: Ps 51:17- “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” NASU
By the way, did you know that those are part of the sacrifices that God is looking for you to offer Him day by day…a broken and contrite heart? Yeah, so be sure and add that to the sacrifices that you are to offer to God as a New Testament priest…offer your own broken and contrite heart. And that refers to a heart that is bowed down to the Lordship of Christ over your life and is ‘contrite’ or cognizant and ever aware that it is only because of God’s mercy and grace that you are a now forgiven and a forever child of the Heavenly Father. And you see, this attitude that we lift up before God is to be the same attitude that we live with before others. And how that looks to God is as ‘homage’ before God. How that looks to others is as ‘humility’ before others. You see, the only place for self-pride is at the foot of the Cross. And that’s where you and I need to keep ours.
Friends, our need in life is to identify what God will use in our lives to accomplish His purposes in our lives, as well as to also identify what God will not use in our lives because it does not accomplish His purposes for our lives. And what we have clearly identified that God uses for His purposes is that He uses a broken and contrite spirit. And we have also clearly identified something that He will not use, and that is a proud and arrogant spirit, a self-inflated spirit. So remember, you gain nothing by not loving in truth. You gain nothing by not speaking and living out truth in love. But you gain much every day by speaking truth in love and by loving in truth.
All right…now, speaking of being bold for truth’s sake, really for Christ’s sake…another principle was brought out that went like this: ‘You can either see a giant as too big to fight, or you can see a giant as too big to miss!’ The Benham’s talked about David’s attitude in his fight against the Philistine warrior ‘Goliath’. Where most saw this giant as a foe that was too big to fight, David saw him as a target that was too big to miss. Now, that’s not to say that David never experienced any fear about any of it. But like was also pointed out – you can’t take a step of courage if there is no fear to face. Courage is the noble response to the reality of fear. The existence of fear is the opportunity for the experience of courage. Or like John Wayne, the Duke, used to put it: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” But the great thing about it all is that the Spirit of God is the great Encourager in our lives. God pours courage into us so that we can even make fear produce something else besides just fear…we can make it produce courage and good works for God.
But it’s also important to notice something else in the background of that scene of David fighting Goliath, because it reveals why David had the courage that he had when it came to this giant. Notice: 1 Sam 17:34-37- “But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God. And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” NASU
Before David ever went to battle with Goliath he had gone to battle against lions and bears…oh my! Whenever I read that account I am always amazed that David was not only courageous, he must have been really quick, too…grabbing the lion by its mouth and then clubbing it at the same time. But the point that was being made about this is that David had already been fighting against other giants before he ever had to face this giant. But even more, David had been fighting for victory when no one was watching, and that prepared him to fight for victory when others were watching. It’s what you do when it’s just God and you that determines what God will do through you when it now includes others and you. Remember what is said about your character? Your real character is who you are when no one is watching. That’s one of the reasons we each need our ‘quiet times’ with God and in God’s Word, because it’s what we learn about God and what God forms in us through our quiet times that determines what we will know and how we will fight when it gets loud all around us. And the world always gets loud around us, so we need quiet times with God before us.
I have also been impressed with something else, too, about that fight between David and Goliath. It was not only the skills that David had in the fight…it was the attitude David took to the fight. Remember? 1 Sam 17:45- “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted…” 47- “…for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” NASU Whatever battles we have to fight, whatever giants we have to face, we are not to fight them in our name or for our glory, but to fight them in the name of the Lord of hosts, and for God’s glory, and to then realize that we are never alone in any battle, for the battle is the Lords, and He will give the enemy into our hands.
And in knowing this, we can then also act on this: 1 Sam 17:48- “Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” NASU David didn’t wait for the battle to finally reach him. No, he ran to the battle to fight the good fight for the Lord. Friends, we are already on the battlefield. We were born onto a battlefield. And we are called to fight the good fight of faith, knowing that our Lord has already won. And since Christ has already won, whatever fight it is that we face, we fight it as victors, not as victims.
Sooner or later, all enemies of God, even sin and death will be defeated. Plus, anyone who has made himself or herself an enemy of God’s by not bowing before Jesus and repenting and becoming saved, while they stood in this life, will one day bow as one who is unsaved and will be made to confess that Jesus is Lord. Phil 2:9-11- “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” NASU