Five points on how to get a spiritual grip.
[Robin Webber] Well, good afternoon everyone. I want to say a hearty welcome to those that are joining us on the webcast. Want to say thank you very much for Garrett’s message and melody, and appreciate following Mr. Phelps. Always a privilege and an honor to be able to talk to one of the Home Office congregations. I hope you’re all doing well on this Sabbath.
I do want to mention, certainly do appreciate your prayers and thoughts towards us in Southern California with the recent challenge that we had. Mr. Meyers is reading the letter that I wrote, and I think I had written that on Monday or Tuesday, not knowing the events that would occur. Talking already about the challenges that are amongst us, and then just being two miles away from our Redlands’ congregation. Redlands and San Bernardino are cities that are side by side, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
And I do have to admit that when terror comes to your community, you read the headlines differently from Paris, and/or from the Sinai. And to recognize that there is a challenge that’s out there, so certainly appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and concerns not only for our brethren there who are all well, but to recognize that we have 14 families in the Inland Empire that are grieving. That went to work, had gone to a party, and then to have this visited upon them. And I hope to, this afternoon, to be able to speak to that.
Because there is a challenge that is in the air around us. I think we all feel it as Americans. I think we also feel it as citizens of this world, that times are not quite like they used to be and perhaps never will be. And this afternoon I hope to bring you a message. I hope it’s encouraging. That it’s a message that not only deals with the macro world, but that micro world that is inside of us: how we feel about ourselves, and what we’re doing that Mr. Phelps addressed. And what we ought to be doing, and also what our Almighty God is doing for us every second and every minute.
I’d like to bring you a message today, and I will simply just give you the title up front so that way you won’t misunderstand what I want to talk to you about today because I’m not only up here to spend some time with you. Hopefully by God’s grace and by God’s Spirit, the words, the Scriptures that I’m going to bring to you this afternoon are going to make an impact on your life. When one of God’s ministers come up here, we’re not just passing time. We love our God, we love you as our brethren, and we’re all going through this ride of life together. And so sometimes it’s just good to talk about it and to recognize that all of us need to put on our seatbelts, deploy our airbags as it were, and get ready for the ride, the journey that is ahead of us towards the Kingdom of God.
The title of my message is simply this, “Getting a Spiritual Grip.” “Getting a Spiritual Grip.” I’m sure all of us, at one time or another, have either mentioned that phrase or have had that phrase come our way when times are tough and maybe we’re just not handling the conditions real well that are set before us. And somebody looks over the table at you – and I’ve done that as a… I’ve had that come at me, through fellow ministers or brethren or family members, and I’m sure at times it’s come at you – where you just say, “Hey buddy, you need to get a grip.” Well, that’s what we want to talk about this afternoon is being able to understand that we need to grip.
That normally means, when that phrase does come to us, that just things aren’t happening the way that we had planned. All of us want to, in a sense, have a happy life, have an abundant life, have a life that we have set in order. Many of us have our daily planners. For those of you that are computer-oriented, you’re punching your little black box and putting it all in there. And we want everything to go according to coil, Hoyle. Coil, too. But have you ever recognized that most of life that’s coming our way is what we have not planned for. And there becomes the great divide as to how we will glorify and honor our God and not just simply get stuck on self. And we need to understand that. There was a challenge that came to an individual long ago, somebody that we know of, and oftentimes a gentleman that we admire. In fact, his name has come down even into America today as one of the most utilized names for a young boy.
Join me if you would. Let’s go to Numbers 14. Let’s open up our Bibles on this Sabbath day. I invite you to come over to Numbers 14 with me, and let’s take a look and let me set the background here. Most of us know the story, but I’m going to specifically look at a point that I want to share with you. We recognize that Israel was about to inherit the promises of God. They’d been liberated from Egypt. They had been taken out of slavery. God had promised them that they would cross the river and go over into the Promised Land. Sound good? Sounds pretty good. But then something occurred when the spies came out of the land and brought about something they did not expect. They really expected almost like a conveyer belt ride into the kingdom, just like sometimes we do when we think there’s just going to be a spiritual escalator toward the Kingdom of God once we have been baptized, et cetera, et cetera. Now everything’s going to be alright. Oh no, it’s just the beginning of the journey. And we notice here that these spies had come back and given this report, and all the happy smiles all of a sudden became like Eeyore and went, “Ohhh nooo…” All the air out of the balloon.
Notice though, if you would in Numbers 14:24 Numbers 14:24But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and has followed me fully, him will I bring into the land into where he went; and his seed shall possess it.
American King James Version×, “But.” Love that word, “but.” It often introduces some of the great… That word “but” often introduces some of the great characters of the Bible. Whether it be Noah, whether it be Barnabas. Look at Caleb, “But my servant, because he has a different spirit in him, has followed Me fully, and I will bring him into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” Now the one thing I want to share with you, the proposition I put before you today, is simply this. Stay with me. He did not face different giants than the rest of Israel. He had seen what the other spies had seen along with his companion Joshua. It wasn’t that there were different giants. It wasn’t that there were different life issues. But he had a different spirit. And it is to that that I would speak of this afternoon.
And what is that spirit? It’s one that Mr. Phelps actually touched upon and appreciate the foundation that he has laid. When God calls us, He already sees His victory in us. He already sees His victory in us. We just have to meet Him at the end and allow Him to work out the details. But there are some details that need to be worked out.
Now, with what I said does not mean we have a trial-free life. Are you with me? We don’t have a trial-free life. And what happens so often when that which we have not planned for is visited upon us, we’re gonna reach for something. We’re gonna reach for something. We’re either going to reach for our feelings, or we’re going to reach for our values. And in that space of time lies all of the difference, as to whether or not you will get a grip. I’ve got two little props up here. I hope they’ll make a profound impact upon you. This is my PowerPoint, it’s gonna happen right in front of you. You know how I do Power Point – not.
But we have two ropes here. Let’s notice what we have here. Are you with me? Two ropes. Now if you’re down in a very deep, dark, dank well, you’re gonna grab for something, especially if you’re in free fall. And you might be really excited, at first, if you grab this one. Grab this one. Garrett, will you come up here? I know you’ve already been on stage. Come on up buddy. Why don’t you hold onto this? Now, he’s a little guy. So you know, okay, like me. You’ll hold on tight. Like your life depends upon it.
Get up here buddy. Come on. Get up, oh stop. Okay, okay. How you doing? This guy’s a brute. You know, but how long you gonna hold on after an hour?
[Garrett] With my weight, not very long.
[Robin Webber] Okay. Do you like this rope? Stay here, don’t go away. There’s gonna be a second coming. Okay. Here we go. Will you pick that up for me? Now, you gotta grab for something, right? Okay now try this. Is this gonna be better?
[Robin Webber] I’m glad you said yes, you’re standing here. This is gonna be better. This is gonna be better. When life comes at us, we’re gonna grab for something one way or the other. When we do that, maybe you did that this morning. Which would you rather have? This is which I call feelings of how you feel for the moment. Boy are you gonna get not only a lot of rope burn, but a lot of life burn. And at the end you’re gonna drop. Or would you rather have something like this, that is sturdy, that has something to hold onto that. Gary, would you rather have that rope? Oh, he said yes. This sermon is going really well. I’m glad there was a blessing.
Well, let’s talk about that. Because what I want to do today, again the message of this sermon is simply this, how to get a spiritual grip. And I want to, this afternoon, to give you five points. Five points on how to get a spiritual grip. And if you will hear me, and give your heart to God, and listen to me with your ears for the remainder time this can change your life. Five points, like five fingers on your hands, to get a grip. It’s that simple. It’s gonna be personal. And I hope it is.
The first point I want to share with you is simply this. Whatever your problem, whatever your problem start dealing with it today. The book of Hebrews has a word that just jettisons out of it again and again. Now is the time, now is the day, now and now and now. Whatever your problem begin dealing with it today. Yeah, you say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard this one before.” But have we responded to it?
You think of where your situation is right now, the well that you are hovering over in your life. And what you’re reaching for or you think you’re holding onto – whether it’s feelings or value, whether it’s God or self – you think about that for a moment. It may be your marriage. It may be a personal family relationship. It may be a job. It may even be a situation in the congregation here or the ones that you are listening to over the webcam. There’s a situation that seems impossible and has a big block wall in front of you. And you don’t think that you can deal with it, so you put it off.
And like in Southern California we say manana, tomorrow. Tomorrow is one of the most beautiful words in the dictionary, and it is one of the most troublesome words in the dictionary. There is a double, are you with, there’s a double edge to it. Sometimes it’s better to wake up tomorrow to get a fresh sleep. Sleep on it, wake up and make a decision. But then you keep on going to bed the next night, keep on going to bed the night after that. And you never come to resolution in your life of how you are going to glorify our Father above, live like Jesus Christ, and be a blessing to other people. Because all you see all around you are mirrors, and all you do is see yourself. And all you’re doing is dealing with the rope of feelings. Join me if you would to Judges 4. Judges 4, come with me. Back in the Old Testament Judges 4, and let’s pick up the thought in verse 1.
In Judges 4:1 Judges 4:1And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.
American King James Version×. Just a slight thought here that we can build upon. Where it says, “When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord.” So typical at times of the people of old. A good judge, a bad judge, a good judge, a bad judge. Then when they became a kingdom, a good king and a bad king. Well, this was kind of at the low ebb of Israel at this time. They’d done evil in the sight of the Lord. “So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, King of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. And the commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelled in Harosheth Haggoyim. And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. For Jabin had 900 chariots of iron and for,” notice, “20 years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.” This had been going on for 20 years. And they had not yet come to themselves. I have a question for you that I’ll probably re-introduce in a few minutes. Do we have 20 years to deal with the opportunities that God has set before us, to glorify Him? To honor Him, and to be a blessing to other people?
Whatever is happening in our life right now, how you feel about this, how you feel about that. How you feel about your wife, your husband, your adult children, your children, your employer, your pastor, your fellow member. We can stand here for 20 years like ancient Israel and cry. And/or we can come to the point of recognizing that any sure recovery lies on the other side of the panic that we feel. And we have to go through that. But not alone, but with God. And that can be a situation for all of us, as we look at this first point of whatever your problem, start dealing with it today.
Are you a little bit like me? Have you ever noticed, or maybe you’re working off this exercise that so often we spend the first 60 years of our life getting over the first 20? Oh, you’re looking at me like I’m the only one. Not 20, but what are we doing with that? How we’re doing that? I’d like to share a thought with you if I could for a moment. It’s a quote here, my eye falls upon it. It’s by a gentleman named W. Beran Wolfe.
He says this, “One important source of unhappiness is the habit of putting off living to some fictional future date. Men and women are constantly making themselves unhappy because, in deferring their lives to the future, they lose sight of the present and its golden opportunity for rich living.” What are we putting off to the future that we’re not planning to start dealing with now? Especially after we’ve heard about the gracious God that was brought to us by Mr. Phelps. That He’s with us, He’s for us, He’s behind us, He waits for us. He wants us to spiritually succeed, that He might be glorified.
What are we putting off? I know that my life is somewhat changed this past week when I think of my fellow Inland Empirers. They had plans. They’re not gonna have a chance to fulfill them now. The 250 Russians and Ukrainians that were on that plane that left a gulf in Egypt and was going back home, their time has come and gone for now. The people over in Paris who had plans that they had perhaps put off. And if they were, once again, alive now could have said, “Could of, should of, would of done it.”
What are we putting off? I’d like to share a kind of, somewhat of a humorous story, but there’s a point to it. There’s a man that had a doctor and he’d gone in for a visit. He’d actually had some test results. And so what happened was the man went to the doctor, and he said, “Bill, sit down I’ve got some news for you.” So Bill sat down, and the doctor proceeded. He said, “I’ve got some bad news, and I’ve got some worse news for you. So what would you like first? The bad news or the worse news?”
Bill said, “Well, I’ll tell you what doc, I’ll take the bad news first.” And so doc said, “Fine, I’ll give you the bad news. The bad news is that you have 24 hours to live.” Bill came unglued, perhaps as you and I would. He’s unglued. He gets up, he’s walking, he’s pacing. “Oh doc, this is horrible. I cannot believe this. This is incredible.” He said, “That’s the bad news? What could be worse than that?” “Well, it came in yesterday, and I forgot to tell you.”
We just don’t simply know what we don’t know. Join me if you would in James 4 to scripturally, scripturally plant this into our minds. In James 4, and picking up the thought if we could in verse 13. In James 4:13 James 4:13Go to now, you that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
American King James Version×. “Come now. Now, come now. You who say today or tomorrow, we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there buying, selling, make a profit. Or as you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills we shall live, and do this or that.’”
You and I in this room know that the Lord lives. And life is elusive. I remember as a boy in San Diego, I actually grew up in San Diego, I remember used to going out as a 9, or 10, 11 year old boy trying to catch moths on the plants. You have to kind of move quick. Boom! Like that. But that’s not what I’m talking about. What the Bible’s talking about is like a vapor. I know back here in the Midwest that, you know on the cornfields and the soybean fields, sometimes you have that low-lying fog that you wake up in the morning. Have you ever seen that? Where it’s just hovering. Hovering over the cornfields, or the soybean fields. I learned this from my wife who’s a Buckeye.
But have you ever gone off there, and said you know? No. I’ll do it again. Have you ever tried to catch fog? Or tried to catch a…isn’t that a full time job? Some of you want job security, be a vapor catcher. In all seriousness, that’s what God says our life is like. And we need to begin dealing with it now. Comment as we conclude the first point. Get a grip. Get a watch, look at the time. It’s ticking away. None of us can do time over. But we can do it better, before God and Jesus Christ.
Point number two that I want to share with you is simply this. Whatever your problem, stop blaming other people. Whatever your problem might be, and your problem might be different than my problem. Whatever it is, stop blaming other people.
I’d like to have you join me if you would. Let’s go to 1 Samuel 30. 1 Samuel 30. It’s the story of David and his men. And in 1 Samuel 30:1 1 Samuel 30:1And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
American King James Version×, “Now it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day that the Amalekites had invaded the south in Ziklag. Attacked Ziklag and burned it with a fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there from small to great. They did not kill anyone, but carried them away, and went their way.” Almost like today what ISIS is doing when it comes in, attacks, and pillages a town and takes away its citizens.
So David and his men came to the city, and there it was burned with fire. And their wives, and their sons, and their daughters. They’d been taken captive. “And then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept. Until they had no more power. No more power to weep.” They’re exhausted. “And David, his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezrelite and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite.” They’d also been taken captive. Nobody escaped, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
“Now David was greatly distressed for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people were grieved. Every man for his sons and his daughters,” you can only imagine. “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” Strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Now when you think about this, this is a classic case of fault finding. And when things are not going well, things are going bad, you want it to go out collaterally and create some damage. You do not humanly always want to take it upon yourself. And here these men, they were wanting to stone him.
David turned to God. David was looking for, are you with me, solutions. Not other people to blame. Now, this is a Biblical story. But let’s all belly up to the bar of human nature, and be honest. At one time or another, we’ve all had our personal stoning parties. Throwing rocks at other people that somehow, we feel, have done damage to us or let us down. We might have our own Most Wanted Poster up on a wall. I hope my face isn’t on it. But anyway, that we can be doing that. We can be in a room that we look around, and everywhere we look around we give ourselves a comfortable seat because we feel nobody else is gonna give us a seat in life.
And therefore, we sit down, and the room is…this room in this facility, it has no windows. There’s no light coming in, there’s nothing going out. But it’s not a room with windows and opportunities and horizons. But it’s a window filled with mirrors. And everywhere you look you see yourself. You see yourself here, all you do is see your self-reflection. You look over here and you see your self-reflection. And you can spend your time in a life of mirrors where only you see yourself or ask our God above.
And I say this quite sincerely, friends. Because I believe in it. You ask God to create a window and an opening in your life to see the horizons, to see the future. And yes, to see your part in that solution. And to stop blaming others because blaming others just isn’t simply going to do anything at all to help you. This is challenging because more and more we live in a world that is devoid of responsibility. We have tracked all human nature and all human life, basically, to DNA or to different things that our running in our body.
We even have a point now in society, especially the word that’s cropped up in the last several months of “safe spaces.” Everybody needs a safe space now. Rather than confronting the world that is, and you have to go out, and you have to deal with your fellow man and you have to deal with your fellow woman. We provide cushions for people. We provide anatomical excuses of why, and who, and what they are. Rather than them grappling in their lives, coming before their God, coming before their Creator, recognizing that there’s a purpose being worked out here below and making something happen in their lives with His Spirit, rather than blaming everybody else.
You can blame other people all day long. And some people do. I know that we have people sometimes, that still, their parents or their grandparents are dead, and they still strangling the gravestone. It’s not enough. They’re still spinning that last 60 years of life getting over the first 20. Rather than, and what I say, are you with me? Not easy, not easy, but giving it to God. God is not gonna take our anger from us. We have to give it to Him. To recognize that there is a better way. There’s a way with the future. We can’t continue to strangle people in the past. We must move on. Nobody else is gonna do that for you.
There is a point in life in which you have to learn to do things on your own, and be in that sense in the realm of the alone. In the realm of the alone. And sometimes it’s a wilderness experience. You have to be in that realm of alone. And you see how many men in the past, in the Bible, had to go out into the realm of the alone, into the wilderness, confront and face themselves before God can use them. When you think about it, we are given a calling in a sense alone.
It comes to us individually. We accept that call individually. We are baptized, as it were, individually. We must ask God for forgiveness individually. And we will ultimately be granted His reward individually. There is a point of where we have to be in the realm of the alone. And it is only, only then and when we can understand that moment of being alone and taking personal responsibility that then we can be effective with the community of God and the world around us. Both, both are tied together. Both are tied together.
Sometimes people will only seek community. Sometimes people will only seek community because that’s what they want. They have to have comfort around them. And there is a part, and a play, and an importance of community. But we have to also learn to understand to come before our God through Christ alone. And ask Him to give us strength. Otherwise, our fruit, our ability to serve the community will not be what God wants us to have. We must learn to stop blaming other people.
Point number three. We’re almost half way there. Whatever our problem, stop blaming God. Not others. Number three is very important. Whatever our problem is stop blaming God. Let’s understand that blaming others is a subterfuge, as it were, ultimately to be pointing up and asking, “Why me, why now, and look what you brought into my life.” Let me put another phrase, it’s a smoke screen. It’s a smoke screen. When you blame others, you’re basically saying that God has gone to sleep and that God does not care. It removes any personal responsibility from ourselves.
We see that in the Bible. It’s a very simple story. It’s right at the beginning. That’s why they call it Genesis, the beginning. And I recognize from the very beginning that man and woman did not take responsibility for themselves. They blamed others, which basically means that they blamed God. Now ladies, you’re gonna like these next five minutes so get ready. Men, put on your seat belt because we’re gonna have some self-disclosure here.
But we remember what the story is like. We know story of Tree of Good and Evil, the Tree of Life. And what happens is, we know the serpent comes, and Eve is deceived, and she says, “Oh that’s so pretty.” And she takes the bite. Well, at the end of the day, then we know that she talked to Adam, and he took a bite. And we’re not talking about bytes on a computer. We’re talking about the tree, okay? So what happens here is basically when God finally does have that talk with them. The woman says, “Look at the snake,” the man says, “God.” Ladies, you’ll like this. “God, it’s the woman that You gave me. You created her. None of this would have happened except for her.”
He didn’t take personal responsibility. He’s blaming God. You know, all of us…I think Teflon was, what? It’s kind of invented, what around 1950 or 1960? Something like that, Teflon. Bob, you were alive then. But all of us have this Teflon thing of where it doesn’t stick to us. I gotta tell you a story. Wanna hear a story? It’s called an emotional vacation in the sermon.
There was this time, when many years ago, but I’m still learning this lesson. Many years ago, I think I was in my late 20s as was my wife. We were living in Monrovia. It had been a very, very busy week. I think, at that time I was both working in the insurance industry and working as an elder, a non-salary elder, as we’d called it today. And Sunday came. Well, Sunday is the time to relax, just be. I woke up. Remember what I told you. Life is what’s happening that you haven’t planned for, right?
So I’m waking up. I’m a news junkie. I love to watch the early morning shows. And back then, there used to be a lot more newspapers than there are today. And the newspaper, you know, like a sail on a ship, went up. I was protected from anything else coming at me in my chair. Because I, Robin Webber, had planned to have a, are you with me? A happy day. Me. Gonna be happy and relax. So I’ve got my castle wall up, called the newspaper. Men, you know it. And women you really know it. And so anyway, I’m here, and I’m gonna be happy. And then what do I dare say? There was some fire in the house. Some little friction between my lovely wife and myself.
This was ruining my day. This was what I had not planned for. And this kind of went on and on and on. And finally, being the noble knight and chivalrous person that I thought was gonna be, because I’d had enough, I finally put down my newspaper, and I said, “Susie, I’ll tell you what. I’ll just take the blame.” Thinking that was gonna pacify everything. Folks, ladies, women, it didn’t. Temperature went up. She said, “Robin! That’s the problem with you. It’s not you taking the blame. You are to blame.”
Oh, did we have a happy Sunday morning on Elser Avenue. I love my Susie. She’s a Buckeye. Part of the holy people in Ohio. Brethren, in all seriousness, and I do mean this to be very seriously. Until we look at ourselves, take our responsibility, God’s Spirit in us cannot actively work. We have to recognize where it starts. And not everything our way is gonna be a happy Sunday morning on Elser Avenue in Monrovia back in the 1970s. Join me if you would in Job 9. Oh is it that time? Oh. Okay, we’ll speed it up.
Job 9. Notice what it says here. Job 9, here we go. Did I say Job 9? That’s not what I wanted. Pardon me, Job 2 verse 9. Job 2, sorry folks, Job 2:9 Job 2:9Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die.
American King James Version×. Notice where it says. This is the story of Job. Life was not happening as he planned for it. “Then his wife said to him,” after all this calamity had fallen upon him. “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die.” That’s what Mrs. Job said. Here’s what Job came back with. And humanly, she did have every human reaction to say so.
But he said to her, “‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall not accept adversity?’ In all of this, Job did not sin with his lips.” Example for us. If there is gonna be any meaningful work of God’s Spirit in us to move us towards our completion in Christ to glorify our Father, we must look ourselves square in the face and recognize that if anything happens, it has to start with us. Browning once said, “When a man’s fight begins with himself, he begins a fight worth having.” Don’t blame others. Don’t blame God.
Which takes us to point number four. Point number four. Whatever the problem, take it to God. Whatever your problem. Whatever my ongoing problems will be, because I still sometimes put that newspaper up in front of me. I have to confront myself just as much all of you do. Whatever your problem take it to God. Nearly a hundred years ago, the American philosopher Elbert Hubbard said this, “It does not take much strength to do things, but it does require great strength to decide what to do.”
This coming year, some of us are going to feel just as Mr. Phelps brought out that, perhaps God has gone tone deaf on our prayers. We’ll feel like somehow we cannot reach God. But once you’ve made that decision, and I realize there are some very real challenges happening in this room, in our lives, that seem impossible. “Everybody else might get something out of this. I won’t. There’s this big block wall.” But once you begin to reach for God and ask for His mercy and ask for His sustaining grace to be involved in your life, and His favor to be upon you, and to make those breakthroughs, you get ready.
Sometimes we feel that for some reason that we have to be perfect before we talk to God. Just as Mr. Phelps brings up; these really dovetail, thank you. Perfection is not a prerequisite, is not a prerequisite for asking God to give us the rope to hold onto Him. It’s not a prerequisite. If you doubt me, in any means, then go ask Peter. Go ask Sampson. Go ask that man that history calls the Good Thief, who had one of the last conversations with Jesus Christ, as He was being crucified.
Have you ever thought about that? That one of the last conversations that Christ had with humanity was not with a real religious person but an individual that got it, that he deserved to be up there, but that the One in the middle did not deserve to be up there. And had that conversation. Sometimes you and I, in our lives, can feel that whatever we’ve done, that somehow God is too far, too distant, too tired of our humanity. He never is. You know why? That’s what makes Him God. He’s not only all-present. He’s not only all-knowing, but He’s also all-loving. And He gave His Son on that day. That when we understand that, that we might be able to live with God and Christ forever. And it’s always readily available. Allow me to go to point five for sake of time.
Whatever our problem, remember God, God will make everything all right. Whatever our problem, God will ultimately make everything right. In Psalm 23, it’s really about the seasons of life, isn’t it? When you think of Psalm 23, we learned that as youngsters. It often appears in a memorial page when we go to a funeral. We all know the 23rd Psalm. It’s not just prose, it’s life. We recognize that it starts out with the Shepherd in Whom we shall not want.
But then it takes us through the seasons of life. It takes us through the green pastures. It takes us through the still waters. But it also then begins to get in the tricky situation of those valleys of the shadow of death. But at the very end, it echoes what I’m saying in point five. The psalmist then says, “For surely I know goodness and mercy shall dwell with me the rest of my life.”
Right now I look out, and I see that we’re moving into winter. Sometimes we look at winter as being a dead season. Don’t we? Leaves aren’t on the trees. I think all Midwesterners love the fall. Love the color. Most of us love the other three season of life. We love the green of spring. We love the warmth of summer. And we love the color of fall. And sometimes we say, “But what’s happening in winter?” But it is in winter, it is in those lonely months of our life, or lonely situations in our life of which the spring, the summer, and the fall are underneath. Something is happening underneath to prepare for that next chapter in our life.
The nutrients of what we have already gone through, of what we’ve studied, of what we’ve learned, of as Mr. Phelps brought out, the hurdles of overcoming that we’ve been able to accomplish through God’s grace and God’s help. Winter can seem like as if nothing is happening. And maybe some of you right now are going through a winter, not only outside, but inside your heart. Don’t diminish the growth that happens in the moments of alone and still and winter, and things you cannot necessarily do of and by yourself.
Join me if you would for just one last scripture. Psalm 18 and verse 23. Psalms 18:23 Psalms 18:23I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from my iniquity.
American King James Version×. As we do, I’d love to share the promises of God. And there are so many in the Bible. And I frankly believe brethren, I will say this as a minister, and in any role that I might have right now. I think that more than ever we need to be pronouncing and sharing the promises of God, the promises of God with one another. To buck one another up, to encourage one another. To come, as it were, alongside one another. To help us get through the challenges of life.
In Psalms 18:32 Psalms 18:32It is God that girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect.
American King James Version×. Let’s just read it, and hear it. Beyond that friends, dear friends, let’s believe it. Let’s have not only faith but believing faith. That the God that we worship, the God that we worship knows exactly where we are at this moment, and knows what we need. In Psalms 18:33 Psalms 18:33He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.
American King James Version×. “It is God” verse 32 “who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer.” And that deer is probably not a good translation. It’s more like one of the goats, one of those kind of goats, one of the gazelles or whatever that were in that desert area. That, you ever seen a goat, and he’s like on the ledge, and you say, “How do you do that?”
“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and He sets me on high places. He teaches my hand to make war. He gives me strength.” He gives me the ability to be a champion within His faith. “You have also given me the shield of your salvation. And Your right hand has held me up. And Your gentleness has made me great.” Friends, dear brethren in Cincinnati, those that might be hearing this message today, or in the future. I sincerely, in all of my heart of hearts, believe that God wants to have you have that different spirit just like Caleb had.
In this day and in this moment, God has not chosen to create new conditions. But He is creating new men, and He is creating new women through His Spirit. And then it is those new men and those new women that will change, and produce the conditions that will spring from that. You and I live in a space where there is stimulus and response. Stimulus and response, cause and effect. There is a space, and it is in that space of time in our life, and I hope it’s not 20 years, that we make a choice as to what we will do. As to whether or not we will utilize these five points to have a spiritual grip as we move towards the Kingdom of God.