Sunday, February 11, 2018
Sunday message: Rule #5, or Obama rides again
Last week, I told the story of Dr Martin's Rule #4, and seeing through the "ignorance" that Satan feeds us. And as Paul Harvey used to say, this week, the rest of the story. And that involves rule #5- Prepare for victory's aftermath, or, the bigger they come...
Just moments ago (AKA 5AM Sunday morning) I started listening to a repeat of a message by Robert Jeffress, which he began in part with: "It was the day after the busiest day recorded in the Scriptures of Jesus' ministry. And it began with Him 'rising early and going to a lonely spot to pray.' If ever anybody had an excuse to take a day off, to lay in bed, Jesus did. And if the Perfect Son Of God felt the need to rise up early to pray..."
And it struck me that Jesus grasped Rule # 5 (which, since He is truly the author of "Dr Martin's Rules", should be no surprise). After all the great things He had accomplished, He did not wait for the (humanly) inevitable fall- He prayed over it, that He not lose the ground He covered.
And He, as we see on reflection, is unique. Certainly I am not.
Because, you see, the evening after my story from last week- giving my ignorance to God over tithing- I followed up by consulting oh-so-wonderful kronos and getting my gross earnings from the two-week period just past, tacking on the gross from the bonus, and selecting a ministry to tithe it to. And then it happened.
The ministry I selected is one of a handful I give to which, when trying to donate on Google Chrome, you can try to type in virtually anything and it will just stare blankly at you. You have to switch to Internet Explorer to input any data. Frustration #1. Which, since I was just discovering Rule #5, I let get to me.
So I brought up IE, and every time I tried to do something there, something strange would kick up a screen on Chrome refusing me entry. Slowly- VERY slowly- I realized this was because I had left the original screen open, and it was sucking up my IE attempts to itself. So, I closed Chrome, and then the third frustration came. I am one of those lazy people who takes advantage of Google settings to be able to bring up my financial info by typing in just the first number of my card- thus I only have memorized the first number and the last four. And on IE, on such sites as this one, hitting that first number does jack. And my wallet was upstairs, and despite all the times I had told myself to save the darn number somewhere around my keyboard, I still hadn't done so.
And I got MAD. Ranting, raving, stupid, disobedient mad. Kinda defeating the whole purpose.
Calming down much later, I knew I had to go to God to make things right. In my heart and soul, I imagined Jesus sitting at the other end of my bed, and poured out my self-recriminations, my frustrations, the whole ugly thing. And I began to realize that one word had kept trying to work its way in during the length of my tantrum.
See, Elijah had a great moment of victory, embarrassing the false god Baal and destroying the priests thereof. But immediately later Jezebel came at him with everything she had (thereby showing who wore the pants in the Royal Family of Ahab), and he fled, despaired, and asked God to take his life, as he "was all alone." The greater the victory, the harder the fall. And despite the warnings, it was just what I had done.
I may have mentioned I had been hearing a lot of talk about Abraham at the time. So as I poured all these things out to Jesus, and He listened, I began to reflect on ol' Abe. And I realized that he and I had something in common. He had just received the great Promise of descendants from God- and then set out making those descendents in HIS way, in HIS time, by sleeping with the maid at Sarah's request, and only realizing later- when Sarah was demanding he drive Hagar and Ishmael away- what a mess he had made by listening to her in the first place instead of going to God with it.
And I smiled and said, "Perhaps it wouldn't be such a good thing to be like Abraham after all."
And Jesus replied, "No? Perhaps you'd rather David (queue mental image of the whole Bathsheba mess). Or Peter (queue the denial). Or Paul (queue the murder of Stephen)."
Point being that we ALL had the same thing in common- a great victory that, through not preparing for what comes next, we all managed to follow up by making great asses of ourselves. And this realization has two important points to it.
First being, God doesn't want us claiming victory. Pride is anathema to Him; and He certainly doesn't want us to apply it to ourselves over victories HE won. And if you really stop and think about it, what actually hand do we have in these "victories"? God had given Abraham the Promise; He had preserved David in the kingdom; Jesus TOLD Peter (I expect more than once) "You did not learn this from man, but from God." Me? All I did was come out of one stupid streak and barrel headlong into the next.
Second, DON'T FEEL ALONE. Your sin, your failure, is not unique. If God was not only forgiving but USING adulterers, murders, betrayers- how DARE we think our puny sin is so much greater that He can't still use us IF WE CONFESS IT. His sacrifice trumps our sin. Every time.
So many times we go into these messes and do exactly the opposite. We claim a victory of sorts, thus denying God's Glory in bringing us to it; and then falling and thinking we can never recover from it, thus denying the Power of the Cross. In a way, our "victories" are the one time that we should recall the words of former President Barack Obama:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business – you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
Of course, he prolly wasn't thinking about God at the time, but you know what God says about that...
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (I Cor. 1:27).