A word on waffling, dawdling and dusty Bibles…

Acts 27:22-26

22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

The Apostle Paul would end up spending two weeks caught up on the stormy sea before deliverance would come, just as the angel had told Paul it would.

1.)  Now, I hear you out there…I hear the Grumble Monsters.  I hear you. “God never works in my life like that.”  and let us not forget:  “God never comes through like that for me.”  

May I pose an unpopular question: “Are you going to heaven or aren’t you? If you are, stop whining: He came through for you.”

Whereas The Lord Jesus Christ is our propitiation, He has “come through” for you (1 John 2:2).

But People will still, nonetheless, say,”Good for them, I’m glad they found a job, but what about me?  Good for them, I’m glad they’re not sick anymore, but what about me?  Good for them, I’m glad God saved their loved one, but I’m still praying for mine.  What about me?”

This slumming in the doldrums of jealousy is not compatible with the Christian’s renewed mind (Romans 12:12).  We would do well to ask for God’s power to repent of our envious mindset and pursue the spiritual skill of long suffering patience.  For truly, whenever God delivers another, we worship and rejoice, because He’s our God as well.

2.)  Most people want special revelation from an angel concerning specific decisions in their lives, most will not receive it.

I think people’s desire to hear an audible command from heaven is based on poor understanding of human depravity.  Would the following of this crucified carpenter king truly be eased if we received a prophetic word or vision?  What I mean is this: lots of people were directly told what to do from The Lord Himself, or from an angel in the Bible; special, individualized chew-a-bles of divine revelation didn’t seem to change the hard truth that they were humans and humans love to resist the will of God (Exodus 3,4,5 Judges 6).

 3.)  How does God normally reveal His will?

a.)  The proclamation of the His Word.  For hundreds of years most Christians couldn’t read and even if they could, hand written copies of God’s Word were a bit spendy.  How, then, did they learn God’s truth?  The Church learned God’s will through sermons, through prayer, and through Christ centered songs.

b.)  But, if you do know how to read, and you live in the West, you live in an absurd period of history wherein the vast majority of the developed world can both read and afford the Bible yet chooses not to give it the faintest interest.

c)  I have found this to be true as I have read the Scriptures: God paints in big, beautiful, bold strokes that His Spirit loves to apply to specific situations in my life.

How do the broad strokes of God’s general will give us direction for the specifics of our lives?

Let us go through four scenarios together, 1. Love Life, 2. Married Life, 3. Family Life, 4. Professional Life.

Love Life

Ladies, If you’re single: don’t settle.  Whether you are lonely, or not lonely at all thank-you-very-much, or lonely and lying about it, “Captain Loser” loves to play the odds.  This suave lady’s man knows what you desire to hear, he also knows from whom you would prefer to hear it (let us hope this is a man daily dying to self and following Christ).  The fact that you’re waiting for a Christ centered disciple of the Lord Jesus is no pressing concern of his.  He plays the odds, and he’s betting the odds are such that if he’s just persistent enough, he’ll catch you on a weak day.  Be aware that this work ethic does not tend to apply to gainful employment.  Even if it did, godliness trumps gold.

God tells us in His Word repeatedly that,

1. Our bodies are not our own, take 1 Corinthians 6 as illustrative:

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

2. Light has nothing to do with darkness, the two don’t mix let alone cohabitate,

3.  Your value does infact come from the love of a man, but that man doesn’t drunk text you, nor does he show up at your house looking to “score”, nor does he attempt to get you intoxicated in order to decimate your better judgment, nor does he put you and your reputation in compromising situations, and he surely doesn’t put you down to make himself feel better, no, no and more no.

Your value does however, issue forth from the love of a man, His name is The Lord Jesus (He’s of noble birth, but not exactly like those dreary chaps from your Jane Austen novels) , and while He won’t buy you flowers and take you to all the parties, because all you wanted to do was dance: He did bleed for you.

I trust you’ll take holy blood atoning for sin over Captain Loser’s bleeding heart sob story.

I hope you know Him today, because if your relationship with The Lord Jesus is empty I promise you that Captain Loser will try to be a squatter in the house of your heart.  He’ll say, “Hey babe, you can’t blame a guy for trying…”.

Oh yes, yes you can.

And you should.

Ladies, next time some guy who isn’t a Christian asks you out or worse, just “wants to hang out”, you don’t need an angel to show up and give you special revelation to deliver you from that mess.  You already know what to do.  God has spoken.

 Married Life

Men, If you’re married, then you are in a covenant between one woman, who is your resplendent bride, and God almighty. This is the applied theory of the symbology of that shiny thingamugummy on your finger.  The wedding ring isn’t about some saccharine anecdote about the never ending loop of love.  Poppycock.  We all know that love is not self generating.  Love is work.  Love is a choice.  I hope you are making love in your marriage a daily choice.  Surely our Lord Jesus shows us that love is a choice rather than a force that comes and goes like the wind or an ant infestation. This means that there is no trading down the bride of your youth for a mid life crises fling.  Furthermore, this means there is no trading down the bride of your youth for another man’s daughter’s air brushed image on a computer screen.  And, finally, there is no trading down the wife of your youth for a younger model, because women are not cars to be bought and traded when used up or tired of, they are, to be cliché as possible, daughters of the King.  This King shall return with a sword, and yes, I do feel pity for you…

Proverbs 5: 8 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

Therefore, let us leave our endless fascination with ourselves, whether the malady manifests itself in hobby slavery (that includes books, beards and booze you hip-theologian-wanna-be, after all, whether you leave out the door or the portal of a book: she is alone) or adultery, let us trade it all in for staying in covenant with the wife of our youth.

You don’t need an angel to show up and give you special revelation to deliver you from the mess that will be your life and standing before God Himself if you leave the wife of your youth for another, or yourself.  God has already spoken.

Family Life 

Everybody, there is a commandment that was once written on stone by the finger of God Himself, reminding us to honor our Mother and Father so that it might go well with us.

Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Regardless of whether you live under their roof or whether they are now 6ft under: if you want peace in your family, children honoring their parents as much they may or may not be swimming in a whole lake of wrong is still a good way to go about bringing a measure of peace to your family.  You don’t need an angel feeding you tibblets of special revelation to deliver you from that mess.  If you are a cub in the den, or if you’re in your twenties and Momma and Poppa bear are now your land lord, or even if your parents are a memory: honor them.

Professional Life

Career Types, chances are you have coworkers of some sort, superiors, and subordinates whom rub you the wrong way.  Perhaps they look funny, or you are fairly sure they are plotting to shank you in the back (after all: you’re important enough to shank in a Coup d’etat) in order propel themselves ahead at an astonishing rate!

Chances are they look funny and are plotting to shank you in the back in order to propel themselves ahead at an astonishing rate!

The Lord Jesus Christ has told us to love our enemies and pray for them. Which is more difficult I cannot say.

The Lord Jesus said,

Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

You don’t need an angel to give you special revelation to avoid the mess that is office politics and backstabbing.

 

Love life, married life, family life, professional life, there, we just covered these specific areas from brilliantly broad principles and commands found in Scripture…

You may stop waiting for a burning bush now, and merrily go along your way on the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14).

God doesn’t desire nail biting, waffling, and dawdling while you wait for special revelation when He has already spoken.

 

(This is an excerpt from a sermon on Acts 27-28:1-10 titled “Deliverance” given at the First Christian Church of Glenwood, Iowa on 8.18.2013)

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