Do you feel like you're living your life on quicksand? Right now you may find yourself on unsteady ground in your job, your family, your finances. And then there's the wavering world around us filled with competing political parties, government shortcomings, potential terrorism and even volatile natural disasters. Life can seem very unstable.
Now do you realize that it is possible to find solid ground--even in a world of constant instability?
Stay tuned to this special edition of Beyond Today as we talk about "Finding Stability Zones."
On this special edition of Beyond Today we're going to join Gary Petty with his congregation in San Antonio, Texas, as he addresses "Finding Stability Zones."
We'll join Gary in just a moment. We are also offering you two important pieces of literature. One is our free booklet: How to Understand the Bible. Now our second, is a free subscription to The Good News magazine. You can call at any time during this message to request your booklet and magazine subscription, or go online to Beyond Today website. Now I'll be back in just a moment at the end of the program and remind you about our free offers.
No matter how unstable the world is around you, you can succeed in "Finding Stability Zones." So, let's join Gary Petty...
You and I live in a world of almost instant communications. Things that happen all over the world. You turn on the television set. You get on the internet and it floods, the images flood into your mind. I will never forget turning on the television and watching that tsunami in Japan back in March of 2011. I mean watching that wall of water come over and then pick up cars and buildings and human debris, and people's lives and just washed them out to sea.
All of you can tell me where you were probably when you first saw those images. It had such an impact on you. All of you can remember where you were when the last tsunami hit in Indonesia, or when Katrina hit, or 9-11.
Now if you want to feel old, ask the 10-year-old beside you where he or she was on 9-11 and they'll say what's that. Cause it was quite a long time ago, 10 years ago. But we remember those images. There are some of you here that can remember where you were when Kennedy was shot. Remember? And then the images of seeing that.
We live in a world in which we are flooded, constantly, daily, with images of things that are happening all over the world. And it becomes overwhelming. I mean we get to the place sometimes, I don't know about you, but I turn on the news and I turn it off. It's just too much. It's too much to see another story about another drive-by shooting. It is too much to pick up the newspaper sometimes and start reading through the front page. It's just too much.
And then that's compounded with the fact that the world gets faster and faster all the time. I mean you and I live in a world that gets so fast, with communication. We're connected to everybody right? We walk around with our our cell phone to our ear. We're connected to a computer and we're just connected all the time to things happening. And it gets to the place where we decide, I just have to stop this. I can't live in this chaos.
So what we do is we decide what we're going to do is we're going to build a wall around our lives. Sort of like a castle. If we can get the walls high enough... If somehow we can get the moat deep enough, we can stop what's happening to us. We can stop the pain that we're going through, the confusion, cause it's chaos. We live in chaos.
So what do we do? What do we do? Well we're going to talk about stability zones. Now what I mean about a stability zone is little times in space, in your life, every day, in which you stop and you find some stability in the chaos. And you find some peace in the chaos. And you find it because you turn towards God. That there are times in space during the day, no matter what happens, you find a moment that gives you the strength to go on, because in that moment, you connect to something much greater than you are. You connect to Someone. Someone much greater than you are.
And you connect to God. How do we do that? How do we find stability in an ever-changing world? In a world that can continue, and it's going to continue to get more and more chaotic. It just is. The speed of life is not going to slow down. It is not going to slow down. So what do we do?
I want you to go to Matthew 6. This is the middle of what is called the Sermon on the Mount, the core teachings of Jesus Christ. And He says, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?"
Now what He's saying here is not that we can't have some worries in life, you can't not have any worries. The word that He uses literally means just anxious thought. In other words, we're just filled with anxiety. He said don't look at life filled with anxiety. So how do you do that?
He goes on, He says, "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor [they] reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them." Now listen to this statement, "Are you not of more value than they?" If God takes care of the birds which He has created, how much more value are we, human beings, His children?
"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" How can you make yourself taller? You know when I was a child, I had one dream. I was going to be 6 foot 2... 230 pounds. And I was going to play middle linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers... I found out that by thinking all I could do was make myself fatter. I couldn't make myself faster. I couldn't make myself bigger. I couldn't worry myself into something I am not, right? And that's the point that Jesus is making here. We accept reality of life. We accept our own limitations and we trust in God to give us something that we do not have.
You know, in our secular society, this isn't going to make a lot of sense. We are starting with a premise that is trust in God, in order to find stability in your chaotic life. You read the rest of what He says here, and He tells people, Jesus says look you worry about things. You're concerned about things, but stop! Think about your priorities with God first and He will do that for you. That's the first premise. He will do that for you. He will take care of us. He will give us what we do not have. Now, God didn't say and Jesus didn't say here, He'll make all of you millionaires. This isn't a health and wealth gospel, everybody now go out, think positive and buy a lottery ticket. That's not the message. The message is we must first start with trust. You say, okay I trust God. I trust God. That still doesn't help me. What does that mean day by day because that trust is eroded isn't it?
Every time the phone, you pick up the phone. Every time there's another crisis. Every time there's another conflict. Every time you walk in and the doctor sits down and says you know, you're not 30 years old anymore. Every time your 18 year old calls and says I'm at college and guess what, I need more money. Or the transmission goes out. Or you just found out, he was just kicked out of college because he was caught drinking. I mean you think of all the things that happen, this chaos that happens, moment by moment. We say okay trust God, but how do I do that? How do I do that?
How do I create stability zones? When we talk about stability zones, we talk about that time and space where you are connected to God, so that you can trust Him. You are connected to God, so that you can trust Him. How many times have you been in some kind of church service, or at a funeral, or some public event, where people recited the Lord's Prayer? And people drone on, as they all together get up, stand up, and they say, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
And then everybody walks away. And nothing has happened. In fact, there's no power. There's no glory of God in anybody's life. There's no kingdom in anybody's life. We've prayed. We've said the Lord's Prayer, as it is called. We've said the Lord's Prayer and we walked away and nothing happened. There was no stability. Nothing changed in your life. Prayer is supposed to change your life.
Prayer is the ultimate stability zone. It is the place where you go to get something from God that you cannot have yourself. It is not within you, so you must receive it from Him.
Now the problem, just reciting the Lord's Prayer is, is that Jesus never intended it to be simply recited over and over again, as if it contained some kind of magic. We say these words and magic takes place. That was never the intent. In fact, if you look in Luke, the reason He gave this was because some disciples came to Him and asked the question: How do we pray? How do we go to God so that there's a connection? So that there's meaning between me and God? What they were asking was how could I go to God so that there's stability and peace in my life? So something happens to me in this prayer? That I'm just not going through a ritual? That's what they're asking.
And what He gave them wasn't a magic formula. What He gave them was an outline. We shouldn't really call it the Lord's Prayer what we should call is the model prayer. It's an outline. Teach us to pray. Every day as you go through your life, you want the power and the glory and the Kingdom of God in your life? Then how does that happen? How am I supposed to pray?
You know when I was a child, I remember a soft drink that advertised that three times a day you were to drink this soft drink to be refreshed. In fact on the bottle they actually had the times of the day that you were supposed to drink it. So some carbonated sugar water was going to change your life if you just drank it three times a day. Well I'm going to tell you something, that doesn't work. But I'm going to tell you something that does work. And that is, multiple times during the day, three, four, five, you stop and you create a stability zone. That time and space where you get out of the chaos. The chaos is going around you and the chaos is going on in your own mind and you go to your Creator and you let your Creator bring stability into your life. And you use this model. Well you say, that's easy. I can do that. We'll let's think about this model, just for a minute.
We'll let's think about this model, just for a minute. Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. How do you and I usually go to God? We usually go to God with the gimmies, right? Gimme a new car. Gimme a new husband. Gimme a new job. Gimmie a new house. Gimmie Gimmie. Gimmie. And Jesus says what we need to do is when we come to God, we come to Him and the first thing we do is we recognize His greatness and our smallness.
Here's what I want you to do. I want you to get a notebook, something you can put in your purse. Something you can put in your pocket. I want you to get a notebook and I want you to keep it as an outline of your model prayer. And I want you to write on the pages each of the points of the model prayer. And then you fill in daily, until you get into the habit of doing it, you fill in daily what you're going to go pray to God about. And you take that with you. And when you're at work and you can get that little five minute time, when you're working at home and you get that little break and you go and you flip that open and the first thing you write, you see is, this: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. And then you write, what am I going to praise God for today? And what am I going to thank God for today?
But I want to get to the gimmie part. We'll get there. We'll get there, okay? But is it where you start? We are to start with, Our Father, the Creator of the universe, thank you today for this and this and this and this. And that's where you start. And you write it down! Sometimes it's in the writing down and then praying it, voicing it, saying it to God that a change begins to take place in us.
We want stability. We want God's help but we want to treat God as an equal. It does not work that way. It's never on our terms. Or we want to do it on our terms and we don't want to do it on His terms. It's never on our terms. It's on His terms and we've got to remember that. And so we write down, today I thank God for this and this and this and this.
Thy Kingdom come. That has to do with priorities. So write down in your book, Thy Kingdom come, what are my priorities today? And what are God's priorities for my life?
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Write in your book, what is God's will for me today? I know people who won't do this. I've explained this to people and they won't do it, because they are afraid. They're afraid that God's will for them is different than what they want for themselves and at that point you have to accept, you live in the chaos. You'll never get out of the chaos. It's only God that gets us out of it. So we make this decision I don't want to ask God for His will because it may not be what I like. We don't trust that He's going to do what's best for us.
Give us this day our daily bread. See you do go ask God for your needs, your wants. It's okay. You go ask God, help me with this. I need this. I need some more money. But remember you've done this in the context of already going to Him and thanking Him. You've also gone to Him and said, I want Your priorities in my life and I want Your will in my life. And God, for most of us is going to say, you'll never be a millionaire. We have to believe He's going to do what's best for us.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive those, or forgive our debtors. That's a whole subject in itself. You really want to do that one? You have your little notebook? When you go to God in your prayer every day, write down things that you've done against God that day. Not in your past, that day. Ask Him to forgive you and mark them off.
Now, you want to follow this? You really want to follow this? Because we don't want to pray as Jesus taught us to pray. We don't want to. Because the next thing you must do…you have to list well my boss did this to me today, and my husband did this to me today, and one of my kids did this to me today…I forgive them. Please You forgive them and you mark off their debts. This prayer stuff isn't easy is it?
We don't do this and then we can't figure out why the chaos never stops. He told us, you want to pray? This is what you do. You want God's action in your life? You want that power in your life? This is what we do.
He says lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. We have to understand that we're actually to take our shortcomings, our weaknesses to God and we are to go to God and say these are my weaknesses. You help me to overcome them.
And then we're instructed to praise Him again. We end the prayer with praise. We also know that we are to pray in Jesus' name. We pray in the name of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. What a remarkable prayer!
We recite it as if it's magic when the truth is, this outline tells us how to interact with God. It tells us how to find those moments. Those moments during the day where you get something you do not have yourself and where God helps you do that.
We talk to God in prayer, but how does God answer us? So okay, you go talk to God and pray. You get your little prayer journal. You write down the model prayer. You're going to follow that. You're going to learn how to pray. But how does God answer us? That's where this Book comes in. That's where this Book comes in. This is God's answer to us. We say, well I feel it in my heart. There's nothing more deceitful in the entire world, than the human heart. Jeremiah said that! There's nothing more deceitful than our own hearts. So how do we know if something is right before God?
It's in here. Now we have to be real careful with this. You know what we do? We approach the Bible most of the time with a preconceived idea. We take that preconceived idea and then we find support for it. That's very easy to do. People have used this Book for mass murder, because they already went in with a preconceived idea. We must come into the Scripture looking for God's answer; looking for God's answer.
Turn to Psalm 119. Psalm 119. Here we have a man that the Bible says was a man after God's own heart. A man who searched his whole life to find God's will and to try to do it. He failed miserably at times, but he always went back searching. And I want you to notice here, start in verse 33. Pslam 119:33. Look at King David of Israel. Look at his attitude. This is how you have to approach this. This is a prayer. See, in addition to your prayer every day, you need to spend some time with God talking to you every day, in this Book. But we have to go in with a certain attitude and this is what we have to pray.
"Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, [That] I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness."
If you read all of Psalm 119, David prays over and over again, take me to where I cannot go by teaching me Your way and I will do it. You know we have a culturally correct Christianity that isn't about being taught. It's about God loves me and everything's okay. No it's not is it? Your life isn't okay. Your world isn't okay. It's chaotic. And this is where we go with this attitude of prayer, is how we then approach the Bible. God does not promise to protect you from all of life's difficulties. He just doesn't. He doesn't promise me that. I wish He did! I really wish He did, but He doesn't! What He does promise is to help us get through them, to give them purpose and meaning and give us an outcome that is what's best for us. That's what He promises.
And we find that stability in the midst of the chaos is because we take time every day to reach out to Him in prayer. Those moments of space and time where little stability zones are created and we have a relationship with our Creator. And we go to this Book and we find His answers to life's problems.
Make this a habit. Your prayer journal. Following the outline of the model prayer. Make it a habit. A habit of life. And as you do you will find that, in a stormy sea of stress, and bad news, and instability, you will find an anchor and that anchor will be your God.
Great advice from Gary Petty. Even as you face the daily barrage of bad news, you can find God's help. He has good news for you and it's found in His Word - The Bible.
The Bible is the world's most popular book, yet at the same time the most misunderstood! To many it's difficult to comprehend but it shouldn't be that way. So we'd like to help you with our free booklet: How to Understand the Bible . It will make it easier to unlock a proper understanding of what the Bible should mean to you.
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Thanks for joining us today. We hope you've enjoyed Gary Petty's presentation from San Antonio. Now if you missed some of the program, go to BeyondToday.tv where you can view it in its entirety. Don't forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. So tune in again next week, at this same time, for another edition of Beyond Today . I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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