Tag Archives: Sermon Illustrations

Tug of War

There’s a tug of war in the believer’s heart and one side wants what it wants when it wants.  That’s the self.  On the other side is the part of our heart that truly wants to please our Maker.  On our journey with Christ spiritual growth means that the side that wants to please the Lord is gaining the upper hand.  Oh, how our culture screams in the opposite direction!  We hear a lot about “me.”  “Me time,” “What’s best for me,” “What makes me happy.”  We tend to hear and “I love Jesus” rather than “Jesus loves me.”

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we know if we love Jesus?  Is it primarily a feeling or an intellectual nod to the things He said or what we think about Him? Do we “love Jesus” because He is cool or fashionable?   A writer named John in the Bible said it pretty plainly:

But those who obey God‘s Word truly show how completely they love Him.  That is how we know we are living in Him.  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.  I John 2:5-6 (NLT)

Obedience and following His example…two things that do not come “naturally” to the human heart!  It’s against our grain – contrary to our independent, seemingly “self-sufficient” nature!  But why should it surprise us that loving God means to be obedient to Him and follow His example?  Don’t we want this from our children?  As parents we want what is best for them, and we recognize being able to take direction even if they don’t understand it is for their own benefit and protection.  No!  Do not put your finger in that light socket!  No, do not run into the street!  No, do not drink that orange scented shampoo!

As parents having our children simply say they love us but reject our instruction and example would indicate that there is no real love at all – just maybe a warm fuzzy affection, at times.  God could have created us without a free will and made us completely obedient beings.  But genuine love cannot exist without the ability to make a decision of our own free will –  from the heart – to obey even when we don’t understand or feel like it.

The only reliable means of measuring our love for God is to examine whether we obey Him.  – From Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom

 

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Guarding Your Heart When Making Decisions

Making decisions is a time of increased vulnerability.  We open ourselves up to possibilities or ideas that  we had not considered before.  We search for wisdom and wonder who to listen to and what to believe.  We question.  We pray.

As a self-employed person, once again, everyday I am met with new decisions that are laying the foundation of this new “adventure” in my life.  I need to access each day how to meet my art business commitments, how to do my best work in these circumstances, consider how to build my financial base for the future and at the same time care for my family who deserve my best attention.  Some days go smoothly, and some days I get it wrong!  There is a lot to think about.  Oh how I need the wisdom of God in making everyday decisions!

It may be that the set of circumstances before us are something we did not think could ever happen – to us.  Life might have thrown us a curve ball.  We re-examine our foundations and make a spiritual decision on how our faith colors our current situation.  Here are some wise words from Proverbs:

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.  Avoid all perverse talk;  stay away from corrupt speech.  Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.  Mark out a straight path.  Don’t get sidetracked;  keep your feet from following evil.”  Proverbs 4:23-27

In her book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard writes a powerful allegory of a journey.  As a fearful person she finds people along the way that try to tear her down.  Their names are Bitterness, Resentment, Pride, Craven Fear and Self-Pity.  At every juncture the main character must make choices that guard her heart against such influences and keep her fixed on the path ahead, with all its difficulties at times perplexing passages.

Decision making can be one of those perplexing passages.  We may feel somewhat in the dark or that we have been set back on a shelf of inactivity for the things of the Lord.  To take care of immediate needs we embrace the job ahead but may wonder, how is this a part of your plan, Lord?  It is good to remember that God is still working in this time of decision making and we can trust Him and His ways no matter how it may look to us at the time.  As we guard our heart and fix our minds on Jesus, He does use all things together for good.  There is great spiritual purpose ahead for the child of God that steadfastly believes, trusts and obeys in the Lord.

We are not meant to always linger in the dark, or stay in the closet;  presently we shall be summoned to take our place in the rush and storm of life; and when that moment comes, we are to speak and proclaim what we have learned.  – Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Storms in the Desert

The life of faith in Jesus Christ means everything when faced with decisions.  If we believe that He is worthy of our trust and confidence that submitting to His plan for this juncture of our lives results in peace.  And what a sweet gift as we place our future in His hands.

 

 

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