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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday message- purpose

This morning brought a very powerful message by David Jeremiah (which you can find for yourself on Davidjeremiah.org, look for the weekend edition for this date) in which he encouraged his congregation to striving for purpose.  I'm not about to paraphrase or verbatim his message; but I did see, in my usual way of being just askance of what I'm listening to, a different way of looking at it.  In his message, he drew on the lives of four purpose-driven individuals- Daniel, Ezra, Paul, and Jesus- to make his point.  And I'm not about to go all Rick Warren on you, either- I just want to look at the same points where they came home to me- how to break the hold of habitual, day-to-day sin in my life.

In Daniel's case, he focused on how Daniel was able to resist Nebuchadnezzar's cultural brainwashing, and he laid it to one particular verse: Daniel 1:8-

Dan 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now the word "heart" in this case translated out to also the intellect; in other words, he set his mind on what needed to be done.  This, then is the first step in combatting the repeated temptation- set your mind to NOT doing it.  Do you have a "guilty pleasure" that when you run into a stress, a problem, a temptation, you set off in your mind a chain of events that lead to "solving" the issue with the guilty pleasure?  "After a day like this, I really need a drink", for example?  This first step means you have to stop this from happening at the start, change your thinking at the thought's inception, not when opportunity finally drops by.

Ezra had the battle of teaching a fallen, away-from-the-faith people how to worship again.  He was facing not only external enemies, but people who were marrying outside the faith, using usury to make slaves of each other, and leaders who scoffed at doing what needed to be done.  How did he handle it?

Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Second step: Prepare your heart.  And how do you go about that?  Prayer, and the Word.  Ezra prayed, and then "sought the Law of the Lord".  He had a calling- to teach the Law, and get people to live by it once again.  He held a 6-hour-long sermon on the Law at the dedication of the foundation of the Second Temple.  The easiest days (for me) to fall are the days I don't read the Bible, and the easiest days for that are the days I don't pray about what I read first.  Without prayer, the words become just words; the reading without depth becomes boring; the heart finds "better things to do."

For Paul, he looked at two points.  The first was early in his ministry, the "Not that I have attained" speech where he describes his goal, and the late in life letter to Timothy where he says he "has fought the good fight", and knows his race is done.  You can be saved and say, "Well, that's it, I'm here,"  or you can set a goal- or rather seek God's goal for you- and work at that, setting it as the goal before you, and not being satisfied till you get there.  By keeping the goal in mind, you achieve Step #3- not that you've gotten there, but by recognizing you are still GOING there, and that you still WANT to get there.  But without the first two, it's almost impossible to get to that third one.  If it was easy, there'd be about 10 million fewer "self-help" books.

And that brings us to Jesus.  As Dr. Jeremiah said, it almost seems unfair to bring Jesus into something WE need to do, since He was God and we are men.  But we still need to follow His example, and He teaches what we need here as a 12-year old boy.  You remember the story- The family was heading back home from Passover in Jerusalem, and when Jesus wasn't with them, they assumed that, like others His "age", He was playing with the boys.  But then they found out He just wasn't there, and panicked.  They hurried back to Jerusalem and learned a lesson in how he wasn't like the others:

Luk 2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
For Jesus, the FOCUS was on the mission, and that is Step # 4.  His focus was laser-pointed at doing His Father's will.  To defeat this recurring temptation in our lives, then, we need:

1- Purpose our mind on doing what is right.
2- Prepare our hearts with Prayer and the Word.
3- Set the goal that as long as you have breath, you have a purpose.
4- Focus on that goal, and exclude the thoughts that start the train going the wrong way.

And you see, you can't leave one out, because each is almost impossible to do without the one before it.  And if the first one is to "set your mind" that brings you to one inescapable conclusion:

It doesn't start with God waving His hand, or a magic wand, or a list of do's and don'ts.  It starts with you making a choice, and sticking to it.  And here you see the importance of this line of Paul's:

2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...

Like I said near the start- when the stress, or problem, or temptation first comes up, that's when the battle is won or lost- do we take it captive to obedience... or does it take us?

4 comments:

  1. And now for my comment on the post...

    I think that these four steps have been rewritten over and over, in every facet imaginable. ..

    Goal
    Faith/belief
    Determination
    Focus

    Interesting that it can be traced back to scripture.

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    1. The Word of the Lord IS the fountain of wisdom...

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  2. Trust. Trust in HIM is what helps in having the focus.
    Great post.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. And please stop over at my next post... I got somt'ing for jou....

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