Untitled Sermon (6)
There is something about being told what to do that we do not like.
It is not only children.
There is something about our make up, our striving for independence, and maybe so more in the western world than anywhere else.
Do not tell me what to do.
If I want it it should be mine! I should be aloud to go where I want to go and do what I want to do.
And anyone or especially any group of people who claim a better way to live is suspect.
We should be free to do what we want
BUT that only works to a certain point.
at some point we have to trust that warning signs and guardrails are there for our safety, and they have been put their by someone concerned.
Some seem self evident: Pics #1-#3
But when it comes to more serious things it doesn’t matter too much whether I like the warnings:
So I make my own rules works up might work, until you come to the fence that says, drop off. Cause gravity doesn’t care bout how you feel.
When we purchase a cleaning product, or a tool. Often what we will find is that there are instructions and there are warnings. And those are important. They tell us how to use and how not to use.
So that we use the tool or the product properly and to the best of its ability and we do not use it in a way that will cause harm to us and to others.
WE just bought come new shearers for our garden. (bring them)
They are meant for cutting our bushes, trimming the hems, they are not meant to play sports with.
If we use them correctly, they work well, if we use them incorrectly they will not only fail to cut the bushes well, but they could also harm us; right.
There is another section on the packaging of certain products, that follows the instruction, that follows the warning. What is that called?
In Case of Emergency: (come back to this idea)
If ingested:..call this number, drink ipecac, induce vomiting,
Those come after the warnings. The hope is that we will not get there!! But if we do, hope is not lost. (we will come back to that in a few weeks)
AND HERE IS THE THING
and although we might find it annoying to follow instructions, and dislike being confined
The inconvenience of obeying instructions, or hitting a guardrail, is minimum compared to the inconvenience and damage we experience if we do not pay attention to them.
So the reason we want to talk about Hazards and instructions and warnings, is because although we might be very careful to pay attention to the warnings on the package of cleaner or follow the instructions on the IKEA furniture packaging so that we do not end up frustrated and wasting our time, we often do not pay attention to instruction and warning in our lives.
And many of us would say that many of the regrets we might have in our lives when it comes to relationships, decisions we’ve made, maybe stuff that has plagued us for a time, came about because we ignored warning, ignored instruction, ignored or rejected the hazard signs
And we find ourselves on the other side of some damaging decisions and think, If I had listened, if I had put in place guardrails, this would be a different story.
in my marriage, in my business, in my finances if I had placed guardrails this would be different.
And here is the thing:
Future regrets can be avoided if we are willing to heed warning, accept instruction, and place guardrails in our lives.
NOW here is the problem....
We live in a culture that for the most part is happy to ignore warnings, submission to instructions or to call for help.
We don’t like barriers, we like lines drawn with coloured chalk, so they can be erased and moved when they are inconvenient.
See we want to tear down all the fences, let everyone loose, an then we are confused and have no real answers when families fall apart, relationships are based on sexuality, children are broken and confused.
Following our hearts has meant that we knock down any fence we don’t like and proclaim our freedom.
But to understand proper freedom, we need to know what we were made for, how true freedom is experienced.
GK Chesterton says this and this is something our culture is not interested in. And it is not interested in it, because we dismiss the past and believe we are the only authors of the future.
Gk Chesterton says this:
“Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”
Scripture would say that certain instruction, certain warning signs have been placed there for your blessings. Don’t tear the fence down until you know why it was put up!
Throughout the series what we want you to do is look at some instruction, warnings we ought to heed so that we save ourselves from regret;
If you have your bibles turn to read Ephesians chapter 5
Now Ephesus was a sinful city.
We think our culture is bad when it comes to sexuality, immorality, eating and drinking, we are nothing compared to Ephesus.
All warning signs had been torn down.
And what Paul is trying to do here is to answer the question for Christians trying to live out their faith, and PROTECT themselves, spiritually and emotionally in this culture.
but have to be asking , “How Paul, how are we supposed to live up to this stuff in a culture that says, blur the lines, they are just written in chalk after all, in a culture that says there is no black and white, there are 50 shades of grey!! How?”
Paul says this…let’s stand.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
So there are a few thing Paul is saying here:
First.. if you want to protect yourself from regret, if you want to save yourself from life’s hazards....
I) Choose Wisdom over Whim
Great decisions are not made in the moment.
They are made ahead of time.
Look carefully how you walk.
Putting our seatbelt on AFTER the accident, adding oil after the engine has seized; is too late.
Wisdom places protective practices in place first.
Be careful how you walk. Some translations say be careful how you live.
I like “walk” because it lends to a great illustration.
As many of you know, we have a dog.
And when we first talked as a family about getting a dog there was alot of excitement.
Alot of excitement!
There were promises made about walking the dog and picking up his “deposits”
There was alot of excitement(now there is a lot of excrement).
Now even in our own backyard when you walk you need to be “careful how you walk”
Paul is not talking a bout dogs, he is saying something much more serious.
In life, navigating your path so that you do not step on landmines, comes from mindfully, and willfully making decisions to steer away from them.
If habitual sin happens consistently in the dark at 1AM in the basement.
Don’t find yourself at 1AM, in the dark consistently in the basement.
Safety, physcially does not come by accident. It is a result of strategically moving forward with caution. with a mind of protection
I love it when a kid gets ready to ride a bike for the first time and your “Like put on a helmet.”
And its funny sometimes because often there seems to be no connection in their head of how the helmet is meant to help them, they just think it is something you wear when you ride a bike. They don’t seem to know that it is there to protect them.
And you know this because as they are getting ready to go on their bike you glance over and you see the helmet perched on the back of their head, the strap, rather than under the chin is wrapped around their throat, they are in danger before they even get on the bike.
And as parents we correct this, because we know the importance of being careful.
That being physically safe comes from strategically gearing up and begin aware of the dangers and doing whatever we can to protect ourselves from them.
For some reason we often do not take the same precautions with our emotional and spiritual lives.
And the way we do that is pretty simple to Paul.
v. 17 Paul says
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
the way we make sure we walk well, so that we protect ourself from regret, and steer clear of many of life’s hazards....
is to understand that....
II. Wisdom is GOD’s Will over OUR Whim
Paul says its simple....know God’s will!!
Now on first glance Paul’s words seem a little like a teacher trying to teach a student by saying UNDERSTAND! UNDERSTAND!
That is not what Paul is saying here.
He is saying accept it!
The greek here implies that one is not ignorant of what God wants, but that we need to consider what we already know to be true.
“In other words you know what God wants here, so stop going where you know you should not go!”
You know where this path you are walking leads morally, financial, physcially, so stop.
You know to a certain degree what God’s will is for your family, your marriage, your body, your sexuality, quit deceiving yourselves!
And this is the question that will always start you down the road to danger. To poison.
It is to ask,......well, that is what God says I shouldn’t do.....how close am I allowed to get before I’ve crossed a line?
God says don’t do this it will bring poison for your soul, your marriage, and we say…ok, ok,......but how close can I get before I’m poisoned??
Every parent knows that as kids grow older they test this. Especially with their words. Don’t say that word. Watch the potty talk.
I remember having a car full of kids and they were talking poop and farts and I said, enough potty talk....and there was a bout a 5 second pause and the little girl in here car seat looked at me in the rearview mirror,.... and said....toilet?
Not so cute when adults play that game with their relationships, their spirituality, their physical health, marital health by testing how close they can get to the line.
That is why guardrails on the highway are not on the very edge of the ditch they are a few feet away from the danger......THAT is where we need to set up our boundaries. Where we need to become people of conviction and put up the rails to say, I’m going to stay clear of this area in my life.
When God’s says “This will be poison in your life “I will not say, how much can I drink before it is going to effect me?”
That is why God says in
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Do you know what that means?
In ancient times, and some of you have seen it if you’ve travelled to Israel in Masada, there are huge cisterns of water.
Water that would be used to quench the thirst of the entire community.
So guard it. Make sure it does not get poisoned, tainted, because it will effect the entire community.
In the same way guard your heart. A well guarded heart will mean life.
You will never hear someone say that they regret the fact that they were careful to protect their family. They were careful to make sure they were true to their wedding vows. I was careful what I put into my body, my mind.
But you WILL hear people say…man I didn’t see it coming!! If only I had been more careful! Walked with wisdom.
If I had built some fences! Guarded my heart. Paid attention to warnings.
See we are in danger in our age of equating the freedom to do something with an automatic benefit of doing something.
Just because we can, does not mean we should! Just because it is accepted, just because we can get away with it (which is never the case by the way)
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
Paul says…be careful; your freedom can be used to disguise sin AND it can damage you and others.
So choose Wisdom and wisdom is God’s will over our whim.
Then Paul says this… he says
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
If you want to protect ourself from regret, and steer clear of many of life’s hazards, understand that....
III. Wisdom is Practical
We tend to think of wisdom as on old guy sitting on a few pillows, and people coming up to him and asking him hard questions, like Solomon the Wise.
But practical wisdom is simply wisdom that chooses the healthy path. physcially, emotionally, and spiritually.
That doesn’t ignore the signs. Doesn’t choose whim over wisdom,.
Here we have an example of a hazard. And Paul speaks of sexual hazards, relational hazards, financial hazards, here he speaks of drunkenness. Because for many it is a grey area. Still is today for many.
Paul says this is important because drunkenness leads to debauchery!! You know debauchery.
“extreme indulgence that results in a loss of control. Extreme indulgence that leads to a loss of control”
So is it a sin to drink nope.
Doesn’t say that, but drunkenness that is characterized by a loss of control, over-indulgence, is not the kind of life that we are called to walk; not as unwise but wise.
Debauchery, drunkenness is the opposite of what we are called to be.
And if for you and I the line is immediately blurred from 1 drink to 5, then maybe our limit needs to be zero!
Then that guardrail is firmly hammered into into the ground.
And for some that is going to be difficult. Especially if we work in an environment were it is encourage and even expected.
That is going to hurt my relationships.
Do some damage.
And I wonder if Paul hits on this here, because he knows that a habit here, means a disintegration of all hazard signs in other areas of our lives; causing bad decisions in our relationships, our sexuality, our family.
Not too many people will say to you that they do their best work and make their wisest decisions when they are drunk, and build their most meaningful relationships.
But I’ve seen mug shots of politicians and movie stars, and sadly pastors, who will testify to the fact that they have lived unwisely when drunk and now live with regret, because that was a guardrail, a hazard sign they chose to ignore.
NOW I know because we are removed by 2000 years, and culture, and language, and geography so we are probably amazed by the fact that at one time in world history there were people who drank too much and made bad decisions when they did, some horrible, and some even fatal.
We are not different.
The same temptations of removing the fences around sexuality, drunkenness, morality, are yours and mine.
And they still have very serious consequences.
And when you and I decide that were are NOT going to be careful where and how we walk, where and how live, we are likely to find ourselves in a ditch; reminded too late of why certain warning and certain fences were built in the first place.
As we conclude....look at the contrast from debauchery to being filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
What tends to happen when we decide to put up fences in our lives, protecting our hearts and minds, walking wisely and making the best use of our time is that we tend to move from inward focus to outward focus.
To being able to serve others more fully.
Because serving others, encouraging others, giving thanks, must come from a secure place, that can only be found in living wisely.
Evangelical Christians all over the world mourned when Billy Graham passed away…But I think if we were honest, many of us had a deep breath and thanks God that BG lived his entire life without a huge moral favour.
Billy Graham rule: do don’t spend any alone time with anyone of the opposite sex, unless they are your spouse.
Raked over the coals, as have political leaders who have done the same! This is too far. This is over the top!
Yet as we stand on this side of the legacy of Billy Graham, we see a man who evangelicals are so happy ran the race from beginning to end with guardrails. He finished well, lived with emotional and spiritual health, filled with the spirit, at peace with others and with himself, with God.
So for you and I the question is simple but the response could mean real life change and adjustment. The building of protective fences, around our heart and mind.
Throughout this month I want you to ask:
Where have you been ignoring the boundary signs, going out of bounds, moving towards hazards?
And will you allow the Holy Spirit to take over. To allow the wisdom of God to rule you more than the whim of your own heart. For long-term health, for fewer regrets, for your safety for your the safety and health of those around you?
Stay with us through this series over the next 3 weeks as we explore this topic more as well as look to Christ with hope, for health, for bearings for direction and protection, and forgiveness as well.