Assorted Lessons for us Life-long Learners
Study Guide, August 9, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
Click here to watch on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=769179160577350
Whether it’s your birthday or an anniversary or Christmas, or any special day, one gift that you cannot go wrong with is right here: Assorted Chocolates! If you are ever in doubt about what gift to get someone just pick up a box of assorted chocolates! It just goes from good to very good to really good to super good…but the thing is; it’s all good! That’s the way the national Promise Keeper conferences are whenever they have one. It’s just ‘all good’! And we simulcasted the last one here at the Chapel the end of July. All the sessions and all the teachers just have good and very good and really good and super good lessons that they shared with us. And so we wanted to share an assortment of some of those good lessons with you, too.
For instance, the Benham brothers reminded us all that the way that you see yourself is going to be the way that you act. Look at this passage from Prov 4:18-23- “The path of those who live right is like the early morning light. It gets brighter and brighter until the full light of day. But the path of the wicked is like a dark night. They trip and fall over what they cannot see. My son, pay attention to what I say. Listen closely to my words. Don’t let them out of your sight. Never stop thinking about them. These words are the secret of life and health to all who discover them. Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” ERV
Think about this: If you don’t have a focused and objective identity that you carry and then conduct yourself by then both your identity and your actions will pretty much be fuzzy and subjective…as in basically ‘feelings driven’ rather than ‘faith defined’. And notice, we didn’t say ‘faith-driven’. Why not? I like the way that Dr. Bill Bright used to say that our life is like a train, where the engine symbolizes ‘facts’, and the car symbolizes ‘faith’, and the caboose symbolizes ‘feelings’. And right away we can see why our lives dare not be driven by our feelings, because a caboose makes a terrible engine. Rather, a caboose doesn’t make an engine at all. A caboose is not going to take you where you need to go, and neither will your feelings. By being feelings driven, you may indeed experience a lot of life, but you will not have gone where God intended to take you. By being feelings driven, you may even experience an abundance of things in life, but you will not have have experienced ‘the abundant life’ that God intended for you. By being feelings driven, you will have even grown in age and even knowledge, but you will not have grown in maturity and wisdom.
There are a lot of driving forces in life, but make sure that ‘feelings’ is not thee driving force in your life. Like a caboose, ‘feelings’ are meant to follow…for they have no ability to lead, nor were they ever intended to lead your life. And to trust in them, or as our culture puts it; ‘just trust your own heart’…that is a sign that you have defaulted to a seriously faulty way to think and live. And most people are rather surprised when they learn this verse: Prov 28:26- “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.” NASU We do not need to be directed by our feelings, or by our heart. No, what we need is that we need to be delivered from being directed by our heart, and then be directed by our Maker’s heart…directed by our Creator’s heart and revelations about life…or, directed by God’s wisdom, not by our foolish thinking or inclinations and such.
Which brings us to a fascinating point, because we also said that our life should not be ‘faith driven’ either. Interesting, huh? And this can be a little tricky because many of us know the passage that reminds us: 2 Cor 5:6-9- “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight; we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” NASU
By the way, how wonderful to know that for a born-again Christian, as soon as you become absent from the body you are immediately at home with the Lord. Plus, how amazing was Paul’s faith! He says he preferred to become absent from his body so that he could be at home with the Lord. And, you know, as wacky as this world has become, I’m hearing that sentiment a whole lot more coming from many believers today. You know what I’m saying? It’s like there’s a whole lot more ‘Rapture practicing’ going on these days…people trying to catch some air…It’s coming, we will be ‘caught up’ together, to meet the Lord in the air. It’s coming. So keep your eyes on the skies, brothers and sisters!
And do you remember in Philippians Paul also said: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil 1:21 NASU So here, Paul even teaches us a whole new way to think about death! He said ‘to die is gain!’ What? Has that truth sunk into your attitude about life and death yet? Do you think about death that way, your death? Like: “One day I will die. And when I die, it will not just be my death, it will be my gain!” Like, not just the day of my death is coming, but the day of ‘my gain’ is coming.
What a reality check about death, right? For most people, the concept that surrounds death is ‘loss’. But Paul reveals that for the one whose life is united to Christ, the concept that is to surround death is ‘gain’! Yes, the day that you die will be your last day on this present Earth, but it will also be your first day in Heaven…in your real Home! Praise God!
So, yes, we are to walk by faith, and not by sight, or by feelings and such…however, like the car in the train, faith itself is not the driving force. No, faith is also meant to follow something…faith is to follow the engine. And what is the engine? Rom 10:17- “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” NASU So ‘faith’ is based upon the Gospel of Christ and the words Christ. Faith is based upon the revelation of Christ and the teachings of Christ. Or, faith is designed to follow the facts. The engine is the facts of life…the revelations of Christ. That is what God intends your life and my life to be driven by…driven by the facts of God’s Word. Every day make a course correction so that you will neither be feelings driven nor faith driven, but facts driven…driven by the facts of God’s Word. Remember what God said to Joshua about that? Josh 1:7-8- “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” NASU Let the engine of the Scriptures drive your world, and form your identity, and control your conduct. And when your feelings try to take over, remember to take them back to the caboose where they belong.
So back to the Benham Brothers…they reminded us Christians that # 1 – We are Ministers of the Lord; # 2 – We are on Mission for the Lord; and #3 – Our work is our worship. Now that’s some good chocolate teaching to chew on right there, right? But how about that? Every member of the Body of Christ is also a Minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you were converted in your soul, you were also given a new identity, several really, but this is a really good one: ‘Minister of the Lord Jesus Christ’. Do you think of yourself that way? Certainly, your vocation might be labeled something different; Chemist, Teacher, Computer Analyst, Pastor, and so on…but as to who you actually are in the Body of Christ, you are a Minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what do Ministers in the Body of Christ do? Ministers in the Body of Christ do ministry for the Body of Christ. Gal 6:9-10- “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” NASU
You know something? ‘Burn-out’ is really over-rated. It really is…what we really need to watch out for is ‘Rust-out’. Now certainly, there is a balance. Even Jesus once told His disciples, “Come apart and rest awhile.” One application of that is that, yes, if you don’t rest once in a while, you will just come apart. So, be smart…don’t come apart. But on the other hand, some people have sort of made this their ‘life verse… ‘Come apart and rest awhile…as in, as much as possible! That’s called a mis-application. Rather, Jesus’s ministry was characterized by this: “Jesus went about doing good.”
Remember, Jesus was the Chief Minister to the Body of Christ, who like the Scriptures pointed out, at every opportunity Jesus went about doing good to all people, and especially to those in the household of faith. Friends, Jesus’ lifestyle is our example for ministry in our lives. Those are our marching orders. And we do not have to be worried about becoming weary, because God has promised to fill us with the power that comes from the fruit of the Spirit to do ‘the good’ that God intends for us to do to all people, but especially to those in the Body of Christ. Remember, it is God who is able. We just have to be willing. It is God who supplies the power. We just have to provide the will. We just have to remember to be willing to answer the call each day and say to God: “Lord, not my will, but Thy will be done.”
Now, that’s some good chocolate truth right there, right? So now, what about that 3rd part: Your work is your worship? What is worship? Maybe we should ask it differently: “What isn’t” or “what can’t be”? Maybe it would help if we opened up another window to a familiar passage in order to see what is not often seen. 1 Cor 10:31- “Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” NASU The Greek word Paul chose for ‘glory’ here is ‘doxa’. ‘Doxa’? That sounds familiar, right? As in ‘doxology’? When we think of ‘doxology’ we think of the worship chorus of the ‘Doxology’: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen”
I remember the Baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Orel Hershiser, or his nickname…Bulldog. The year they won the World Series, Johnny Carson was interviewing him on his show and asked him how he maintained his focus while he was pitching. And he said that he often sang the Doxology in his mind, and it really helped him concentrate and focus on his work. And then Johnny Carson asked him if he minded singing it. So on the Johnny Carson show Orel Hershiser sang the words to the Doxology. It was a terrific testimony! It was also an example of no matter what your work is that you are working on, whether it be pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers or plowing a field on a farm, God did not intend for our work just to be a way we make a living…no, God intended our work to also be a way that we offer our worship to our God, as well as to be a witness to others. So when you offer your day to God, and commit your day to God…offer and commit your work to God as well. And offer it as a form of worship to God. In fact, we could inter-change that word ‘glory’ in the verse so as to also be: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the worship of God.”
How does that expand your field of view as to what it means to ‘worship’ God? Whatever you do…be sure to connect ‘worship of God’ with it, and then offer it to God, and watch the changes it makes in doing whatever it is that you do. Remember, ‘worship’ is part of your make-up, part of your very being. You and I were created to worship. And that involves responding to our Creator with a daily recognition of His Lordship over our lives. Remember, God alone has the sole right of rule in our lives and over our lives. When Thomas realized Jesus’ full identity he said, “My Lord, and My God.” “My Lord” is the recognition of Jesus as absolute Ruler and as such calls for our full surrender. “My God” is the recognition of Jesus as our Creator, and as such calls for our commitment and service to the One who owns us. But “My Lord and my God” also is a recognition of Jesus’ amazing love for us as our Redeemer, and as such calls for our devotion and adoration and daily expressions of gratitude for such a love as this for us.
The object of our adoration; the foundation of our confidence; the source of our significance…this is what makes up ‘worship’, and makes up ‘Who’ we worship, and makes up ‘why’ we worship. So whatever you do today and tomorrow… “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the worship of God.”