This story may seem impossible to you, but my older brother Alan will attest to it. It is the perfect illustration of just how far the flesh will go to feel sorry for itself, even if it causes damage to itself! I will change the name so as not to embarrass this poor person if he is still alive! My brother Alan had a best friend named Mike. This is when Al was 9 years old. He and Mike got into an argument about something and as Alan was walking back to the house, Mike was telling him he was sorry. Al would have none of it! Just before Alan came into the house, Mike yelled, “If you don’t forgive me I am going to bang my head on this until you do!” This was back in the day where all electricity was above ground. The electric pole would have a large steal cable that went from the top of the pole, into the ground to stabilize it, however, it was protected by a cylinder tube that when you hit it you would hear a “BONG!” Well, Alan yelled back at Mike, “I don’t care, I’m going in!” I was playing in the living room and Alan came and sat down on the couch with his arms folded. Suddenly we heard this, “BONG, BONG, BONG!” We had a large window that faced straight out and we could see the pole across the street and there was Mike beating his head against the protective tube. I jumped on the couch to watch and said “cool, is Mike trying to knock it down?”...I was only six…so please don’t judge too harshly. I honestly do not know how long this went on for, at least 20 “BONGS!”
My dad then entered the room saying “What the heck (different word) is that noise?” Then he saw Mike, “What the heck (different word) is he doing?” Alan explained the situation and my dad ordered him to go out and forgive Mike. Alan went out, the Bonging stopped, my dad just shook his head and walk away muttering “hope he didn’t hurt himself.” I felt disappointed because what Mike was doing was far more entertaining than the toy soldiers I had been playing with!
When the flesh wants’ its way, it may go to all kinds of extremes to get it. When anyone has Drifted into what has become a “Strong Current” not only will sin become more appealing, it will become more possessive! The “wax” in our spiritual ears, and the “callousness” around our spiritual heart will grow to the point that the voice of the Holy Spirit is very difficult to hear.
Just to keep our thoughts flowing let’s review:
· First Warning #1 Laziness = Lack of Discipline
§ Test yourself: Do you only do the difficult or inconvenient when forced to, or do you choose to do the difficult, i.e. Memorize Scripture, Read through the Bible, Fast, etc. just to stay in shape?
· Second Warning #2 Boredom = Lack of Purpose
§ Test yourself: Are you Proactive in your walk with God? Do you seek from Him on your own to create new ways to grow and serve Christ?
· Third - Warning #3 Restlessness = Lack of Contentment
§ Test yourself: How do you handle solitude? If you are alone for a period of time, can you use it profitably, or do you just become “antsy” and have to find anything to do to distract yourself?
· Fourth - Strong Current #4 Pride = Lack of REAL Esteem!
§ Test yourself: How many of those around you know that you need Christ and have no joy in your life without Him? Are you embarrassed to talk about your dependence on Christ for everything in your life?
· Fifth - Strong Current #5 Self Pity = Lack of Control over Circumstances!
§ Test yourself: When someone does not fulfill a promise they made to you, how long does it take for you to get over it? When someone has wronged you, how difficult is it for you to forgive them?
· Sixth - Strong Current #6 Pigging Out = Lack of Control of Appetites
§ Test yourself: Which do you hunger for more, that which pleases God or that which pleases you? Do you seek to make other feel good or your self?
One of the characteristics that came to me all the way back from my grandmother is that I share my thoughts out loud. I am sure when people see me in my car by myself and I am talking away, they think, "Poor man, mentally deficient!" When I was a Pastor in Roanoke, VA, one of my disciples that I use to play racquetball with would warn his friends "When you play Nate you need to know you are playing two people!" They would ask "What do you mean?" He would reply "The guy talks out loud to himself and even answers!" That was true! Most times it is just funny, however, when I am under the control of my flesh, my thoughts betray my heart toward God and exposes that I have now entered a very strong current of sin that is full of complaining!
Seventh - Danger Zone #7 Murmuring
Now we have been caught into a very strong current! Not only are we miserable, but we make God and others miserable! That’s what murmuring does! When I find myself complaining and murmuring it exposes a Lack of Joy! Do not confuse “happiness” with joy! They are built on totally different foundations! Here is happiness: “Nate you have won the Lotto! YEA!!!!!!... Knock, knock, Who’s there? The IRS! BOO HOO!” That is happiness, founded on circumstances, it flows up and down! “JOY” on the other hand is fixated in the never changing nature of our Lord. No matter the circumstances we can sense a calm, a peace and a contentment that whatever is going on outside, we are assured that our God loves us and desires the best for us! We don’t have to understand everything, we just know Who is in control and that brings our heart joy!
Numbers 21:4–5 Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”
When God’s food is not good enough for you…you have a real heart problem!
Test yourself: Starting with where you are right now and what you have right now, what’s your “beef” with God? How much time to you spend thanking God for here and now versus wishing things were better?
1 Timothy 6:3–6 Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.
1 Timothy 6:8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
I realize this is almost a mantra from me, but it is because at one time I was always longing to be some where else than where the Lord had me. So I must…forgive…”The grass on the other side of the hill may be greener, but the water bill will always be higher!” God may desire to give you more, but He will require more also!
Luke 12:48 …When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.
I had planned to do two points each time, but will not. Sorry this one is soooo long, but this current is a real danger zone, and sadly, I have found so prevalent in the Church today.
Take the time to go over these first seven tests, next Devo we will enter into “Danger Zones” and then end on “Shipwrecked!”