Pressure points – Self image

SELF IMAGE

[Pressure Points Series]

 

Text: Genesis 1v26-31;  2 Corinthians 3v7-18.

 

 

ILLUST: “I’m no good. I can’t do anything. Noboby loves me everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat worms”

 

“I’m a pretty nice person really even if I say so myself. There’s not much I can’t do if I put my mind to it.

 

There are few people, if any who have a correct view of themselves. Some think they are wonderful, when they clearly are not. Others think themselves to be useless and are not.

 

Numerous books, written by countless psychologists, deal with the issue of self-image. Without going into all the detailed theories they expound, a simple definition is really “The way a person sees him/herself” “What is my opinion of myself?”

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “I don’t really like myself” Why do I feel like a failure and a fraud?”

 

For myself, and certainly for most people in my experience, we tend to think more negatively about ourselves rather that positively.  Self image is not something static. We don’t suddenly arrived at a view of ourselves – and that’s it! How I feel about myself changes from day to day – sometimes from minute to minute. Sometimes I don;t even know how I feel!!

 

1. How does a “Self Image” develop?

 

Am I born with a self image? Does my upbringing influence the way I think about myself?  Is my self-perception a result of some trauma or traumas in my life?

If as a child I was constantly told that I was an idiot do I therefore grow up thinking I am an idiot?

If I am told that I am wonderful do I then think too highly of myself?

 

Again there are numerous theories about how “Self Image” develops. I am no psychologist but it certainly seems true that our self image develops as a result of our interaction with other people.

Every one has a desire to be appreciated and loved and praised. We all desire to be loved and valued for who we are.

As we have grown up we have all had to face the fact the we are not treated the way the we want to be.

 

 

 

Some have simply been ignored or treated with indifference.

Some have been give a place of importance and pampered but in a way that makes us feel             obliged and indebted to others.

Some have been taken advantage of and been used and abused [possibly even sexually].

Some have been ridiculed.

ALL of these things have a profound effect on how we see ourselves.

 

These things also hurt us; so to avoid being hurt we develop rules by which to live to protect ourselves.

 

Two examples of what people do to avoid getting hurt.

i) We act in a way that keeps people from expecting anything from us. Don’t get too close. Don’t let anyone depend on you so that your inadequacies can’t be shown up.

You hide because you don’t want to make a mistake.

 

            ii)  The only way you feel accepted is when you are constantly doing things for others. You need people to want you so you can never say ‘NO’.

 

We all develop different styles of behaviour [The above are just two examples of a limitless number].

 

Some have learned to hide behind their good minds.

Some are distant and unreachable, never letting anyone see what is really happening inside.

Some are compulsive helpers.

Some see themselves as black sheep and manage to get rejected constsantly; in their minds, rejection confirms that they aren’t made for close relationships.

 

We are complex creatures and none of us fit neatly into one catergory.

But why is it that we are so affected by how we are treated by others?

 

2. Created to be Image-bearers.

 

In Genesis 1v26  God said, “Let us make man in our Image, in our likeness … And God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”

The first assumption that we have to make is that we are created in the “image of God”.

Meaning, that in some important respects, we resemble God.

We have deep desires and longings.

We have the ability to think and evaluate.

We have the ability to make choices.

We are able to experience deep emotion.

 

We are relational creatures with the ability to interact with God and other people.

God created us to be like him. To bear His image and likeness.

So why do we have all these problems with our self-image if we are like God?

 

Well something terrible has happened which has badly distorted that similarity between us and God.

Adam sinned and that image of God that was perfect has been marred by sin and badly damaged. It hasn’t been lost but has been reduced to something grotesque and ugly.

 

We were created to be totally dependent on God for everything. To have a perfect and unhindered relationship with both God and our fellow humans.

 

Sin moves us away from God so that instead of God being the centre and focus of our existence we become the most important people in our own lives. “I” becomes all comsuming.

The crisis is that people desparately need God in their lives but because of sin we do not seek God, rather our natural preference is to come up with a solution to our problem on our own.

 

Because sin moves us away from God, we do not look to him to fulfill our need. Because we do not look to God we therefore look to people. BUT people let us down and we get hurt.

To avoid getting hurt we don’t allow ourselves to want very much, thus we are rarely disappointed.

 

ILLUST: My close friend at school, Andrew. His father, who he was very close to, walked out when he was 14. He became withdrawn, cynical and distrusting of people. He had been hurt and now he was building walls to protect himself from being hurt again.

 

These kind of experience leave us feeling pressure to hide who we really are. We wear masks. Yet at the same time still wanting to be someone who people will like and value.

 

We all want to be accepted and loved and valued. Because it is in those circumstances that we find a good self-image.

 

When God is left out we are reduced to dependence on other people.

If my good self image depends on others treating me as a valuable person, then I am condemned to either (1) keep trying to get better responses from people around me, or (2) learn to better insulate myself against the negative effect of their disapproval. I need either better performance or higher walls.’ [James Moore]

 

3. How do we develop a “good” self image?

 

As long as we try to deal with the symptoms of the problem and not the cause all we are doing is putting band-aids on. The cause is that we have moved off centre – away from God. The only way to remedy that is not within our power. But it is within God’s power. There must therefore be a response to God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. We can only see ourselves as we really are when we are in a relationship with God.

 

We have to relinquish our fierce independence from God. This is the first step. This is the bottom line. God is the only person who is who has pure motives and can be totally honest with us. There is no hidden agenda with God.

 

 

Does this mean that once a person becomes a Christian we suddenly have a good self image? NO!

Christians are not immune from hiding behind walls OR from performing in order to gain approval [both from God and people]. Often we create legalistic rules to which we must adhere in order to be accepted by the group.

So often we take the words of scripture and we make them mean something that they never intended. eg.

“For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you;

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…”[Rom.10v3]

 

We all know people who have a high opinion of themselves [and often they are the only ones who do] – and really the are a pain in the neck. We react to that. We take “do not think of yourself to highly..”  along with other verses about humility and we end up considering ourselves to be worthless. And we are in danger of being DOORMATS. Humility is not being a doormat.

Jesus was humble but he was no doormat.

 

NO! we are not worthless! We are of infinite worth!! In fact God loved us so much that he sent his only and only son to die for us. If we were worthless God would not have done that.

We are unworthy but not worthless. Worthless means of no value! Unworthy means undeserving – that we are.

Once we have become God’s children we are precious to him. How precious is a bride-to-be to her future husband? The Bible speaks of the Church as the “Bride of Christ” the one for whom he gave his life! Unworthy?Yes!! Worthless? NO!

 

Self image is develop in relationship. When we are loved and valued for who we are we begin to develop a correct self image.

 

WHAT IS A GOOD CHRISTIAN SELF IMAGE? IF THERE IS SUCH A THING.

 

ILLUST: When we come into the world as babies we are totally dependent on others to take care of our needs. As we grow we become less dependent. Wise parents help their children to develop so that they can cope with life and “learn to stand on their own two feet”. Maturity is linked to independence.

 

The tendency is  to carry this model across into the spiritual realm. BUT Christian maturity is not a process of becoming more and more independent BUT rather becoming increasingly dependent on God. The essence of sin is independence from God. It is that which landed us in this mess in the first place.

 

When we become Christians we fully receive God’s salvation in Christ. And that salvation in complete and secure. BUT that doesn’t mean that we are instantly perfect with a completely balanced self image. NO.

 

ILLUST: If a person is released from prison after 30 years he is legally free but he has to now learn to live like a free person.

In a similar way the instant we are saved we come into the family of God. As Paul says we are “IN  CHRIST” Now we must learn to become like him.

 

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory,

are being transformed into his likeness [IMAGE]

with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord

who is the Spirit” [2 Co.3v17-18]

 

When Moses came down from the mountain the glory of God shone from his face. He reflected something of the IMAGE of God. WHY? Because he had seen God.

 

We don’t develop a “good” self image by focussing on ourselves but rather by focussing on Christ and with the Spirit’s help developing attitudes and action that are like those of Christ.

 

That doesn’t mean that we don’t look into our own lives. Paul tells us that we need to “Examine ourselves”

John – “If we walk in the light as he is in the light

we have fellowship with one another,

and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son

cleanses us from all sin.” [1 Jn.1v8]

 

We need the light of God’s word and his Spirit to shine into our lives and to expose all those hidden thoughts and motives.

 

Godliness and spiritual maturity, I hope, is what we all desire. We live in an instant society. BUT there is no such thing as instant maturity.

Some superficially say “Just do what is right and everything else will fall into place” “Just name it and claim it”

 

Genuine, deep, heart-level change is complex and it takes time. Quick change is often superficial and shallow. Deep change is never easy.

 

The Bible descirbes King Davd “as a man after God’s own Heart” Yet listen to David’s cry in Ps 139v23-24:

Search me O God and know my heart

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive [wicked] way in me

and lead me in the way evelasting.

 

None of us have arrived. We all need to change in some way.

 

 

ILLUST: Maybe the walls you have built around yourself need to come down. Allowing people to get close to you. Yes, you will feel vulnerable. But Jesus said he was sending us out as sheep among wolves. That’s pretty vulnerable. Maybe you need to open your home and invite people to come in. “O but I not a good cook and my house is a mess” So what! You can make Tea can’t you.

 

Maybe you are a compulsive helper. Always doing for others. That can also be a way of hiding. Maybe the best way to help some one is to let them do something for you.

 

The human heart is very complex BUT God is in the business of changing people’s hearts.

He created us to be BEARERS OF HIS IMAGE but sin damaged that image. When we respond to God through faith in Jesus Christ He begins to change us from one degree of glory to another so that we become more and more conformed to the IMAGE OF HIS SON.

 

No one is perfect and we need to be examining our hearts to see where change is need

BUT we also need to remember that if self image depends upon how we are valued and loved then as Christians we are the most blessed people of all becasue we are valued and loved by God himself.

Advertisements

Pressure points – Peer pressure

PEER PRESSURE

[Pressure Points Series]

 

Text: 1 Samuel 8; Daniel 1.

 

1. INTRODUCTION.

 

Whenever we hear the words “PEER PRESSURE” the first things that usually springs to mind is Teenagers and the problems they face. Drugs, drink, Dress, Discos and Dating [sex].

This is the popular image of Peer Pressure. We tend to think that we all face the issues that Teenagers face in their growing up years but we then grow out of it and Peer Pressure is no longer a major problem. WRONG!!

 

Peer Pressure is something we face all through our lives. YES, at some points it is more intense than others AND at other points we are better able to cope with it. It is not confined to Teenage years only.

 

At all stages of our lives we are under pressure to confrom. We often do things simply because it is the DONE THING. We say things because it is politically correct to voice certain opinions even if we don’t always believe in them ourselves.

 

EG: It is not fashionable to say that pre/extra marital sexual relationships are wrong.

It is unfashionable to say that homosexuality is wrong.

 

Tolerance has become a virtue. So it is acceptable to say “I don’t agree!” BUT it is generally unacceptable to say, “You are wrong!”  It may be wrong FOR YOU but it is not wrong. Why? because we live in a society were there are few, if any, absolutes.

As Christians we are under pressure to conform to this kind of thinking as well.

 

Pressure to speak and act in a certain way!! A way that is acceptable to the majority.

 

2. WHY IS PEER PRESSURE SUCH A STRONG FORCE?

 

What is it that motivates people to conform?  Is it simply because people are unthinking and gullible? Or is there more to it than that?

 

We are familiar with the term “SANCTIONS” as it is used in the international community.

 

ILLUST: Why does the United Nations impose sanctions on various countries from time to time?  Because in the view of the UN a particular country is not conforming to international Norms. They don’t always get it right and they are certainly not consistent in the application of sanctions. [I don’t want to get into politics] The purpose is to punish and to force the Govt. of that country to change its policies.

 

Now some Psychologists use the term SANCTIONS when talking about Peer Pressure and Conformity.

 

They speak about negative and positive sanctions.

If a person or group of people do not conform to a percieved norm then they are treated negatively. ie they loose their status, or they are isolated, or treated with aggression or punished

 

On the other hand positive sanctions have rewards for those who conform – acceptance, praise, gifts and titles.

 

ILLUST: Children – If you don’t do what we want then we won’t play with you.

OR If you do what I want then I will give you so and so.

 

It is these treats and promises whether spoken or unspoken that are the motivation for people conforming. Usually these pressures are unspoken. Often we are not even conscious of them but they are there never the less.

 

ILLUST: What is the aregument that children often use with their parents when they want something or want to do something? EVERYBODY has one or is going  to …

 

As adults we might not voice this same argument but it often plays a part in our decision making.

 

There is a desire within all of us to be accepted. To belong. To be part of the group. We don’t want to be isolated and left out.

We also like to be praised and acknowledged and rewarded in some way.

These SANCTIONS have a tremendous influence upon us. And consciously or unconsciously these are the things that motivate us to behave in the way we do.

 

ILLUST: When you have been abroad or been to another place where no one knows you, have you ever done things there that you would never dream of doing at home? WHY? I suspect because this pressure to conform is absent. Whether the people in that place accept you or not is irrelevant because you do not live there.

 

3. GIVING IN TO PEER PRESSURE.

 

The scripture passage we read from I Samuel 8 is a good example of a community under pressure.

God chose Israel so that they could be a blessing to the nations  {Gen12v3} God wanted them to be a positive influence in the world. Israel was to be different from the other nations. One of the differences was that they did not have a King.

 

But Israel wanted a king. What was their reasoning? What was their motivation?

We have the answer in v5 and v20

They said to him [Samuel], “You are old and your sons do not walk in your way,

now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have”

 

Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us

and to go out before us and to fight our battles

[1 Samuel 8v5&20]

 

In the international community of the day Israel was the odd one out. “Everybody has a king so we want one too.”

In their desire for an earthly king they were rejecting God as their King.

And the Lord told Him [Samuel];

“Listen to all the people are saying to you;

it is not you they have rejected,

they have rejected me as their king [v7]

 

Israel succombed to the pressure and turned their backs on God. This pressure of wanting to be like the Nations and doing what they were doing and following the gods of the nations was something that dogged the nation of Israel down through history.

 

It is so much easier to follow the crowd and to GO WITH THE FLOW than it is to GO AGAINST THE TIDE.

 

4. PRESSURE  FROM WITHIN.

 

We are tempted, very often, to think of pressure as EXTERNAL but the pressure from within the Church can be just as great. Very often our view of what a Christian should be and the way a Christian should act is moulded by our culture and by our particular Church background and we tend to judge other Christians from that perspective.

We are always in danger of creating our own check list of what we think a Christian should be and if he doesn’t fit into our box then we write him off.

 

ILLUST: When I was growing up in the Church as a young person You didn’t smoke, drink, go to the movies; the girl didn’t wear makeup or trousers.

 

But you can do all the right things and be accepted by the group but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a Christian and accepted by God. It means that you are simply a Pharisee.

 

God’s concern for us as his people is that we do not become conformed to the standards of the world from without OR to the unbiblical rules and regulations from within.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-

his good, pleasing and perfect will. [Romans 12v2]

 

The standard for which we have to aim is not simply acceptance by our peers. But the standard for our words and deeds and thoughts are set by God.

 

 

5. NOT ALL PEER PRESSURE IS BAD.

 

ILLUST: Have you ever been tempted to do something or say something that you know is not right. And the thing that stops you is that you know that your family and friends would not approve. So you don’t do it.

 

There is a pressure that is put upon us that is good and protects us. Often protects us from ourselves. So it is not all bad!

That is why accountability and stable homes make for a stable community. For the Christian belonging to a fellowship of believers is important and necessary. Just as our peers can have a negative influence on us, so too, they can have a positive influence on us.

 

We, in turn, can put positive pressure on others.

As Christians we are to be salt and light having a positive influence on our society.

It happens corporately when the Chruch speak to issues in society and is able to make a difference for God. Also individually.

 

ILLUST: Ever been in the situation at school, university, work where that dirty joke has not been told because you are there. When bad language is apologised for because you are there. That shady business deal has been blocked because you are there.

 

By not conforming, by not giving way under pressure we can apply counter pressure and influence for good.

 

6. HOW DO WE COPE UNDER PRESSURE.

 

Society and culture are always changing. The change is usually gradual and subtle. It creeps up on us. NOT all Change is necessarily bad. BUT with change come the pressure to conform.

 

ILLUST: Remember Daniel and his 3 friends who, after Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians were taken into exile in Babylon. They were under great pressure to conform to their new enviroment.

 

[Alistair Begg’s comments on this in his “DARE TO BE DIFFERENT” series at Keswick 1993 have been very helpful on this point]

 

Daniel’s and his 3 friends’ whole situation had changed; their location, education, names and diet.

To the Jew, what he eats is very important. It is one of the distintive marks of his Jewishness.

These young men face a dilemma. “Do we become absorbed into Babylonian society or do we maintain our distinctiveness.” It was very subtle.

 

They could have said ,“Well these things are not very impotant we will just go along” OR “We are going to stand up to Nebuchadnezzar and tell him exactly what we believe”

 

The Church through history has often been extreme: Either becoming so like the world that the difference is hardly noticable OR withdrawing into isolation where it can never possibly have an effect.

 

Jesus prayed for his people:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world

but that you protect them from the evil one [Jn.17v15]

 

ILLUST: Before we left RSA Christian schools were becoming quite popular in certain circles. I am not in favour of Christian schools. If all the christians withdraw from schools [the teachers too]  How can we influence the nations education system.

 

It is easy to be absorbed. It is easy to withdraw.

WHAT DID DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS DO?

Alistair Begg: “They decided they would be outwardly involved in a culture in which the remained inner strangers” There were certain things they were prepared to accept – the non essentials – but there was a point beyond which they would not go!!

 

They faced tremendous pressure!! God’s people will always face pressure to confrom.

There are some issues that are difficult to decide upon, where there are no easy answers BUT there are other issues that are absolutely clear in scripture about which there is no debate.

 

ILLUST: A Christian young person. Do I or Do I not sleep with my boy/girlfriend? You don’t need to pray about it or ask the pastor about it or discussion it . The Bible is clear.

 

Pray for strength to resist the temptation YES BUT not is it right or wrong.

WHAT DID DANIEL DO?

… DANIEL RESOLVED NOT TO DEFILE HIMSELF WITH THE ROYAL FOOD [Dan.1v8]

 

How did Daniel handle the situation: READ Daniel 1v8-20

 

He is gracious and asks permission. He doesn’t get on his high horse. He is not obnoxious. It is a quite determination to do what is right.

 

Daniel knew what he believed and he walked closely with God. He was not afraid to declare his allegiance.

 

He had been well taught!!

Parents – What are we teaching our children?

I was deeply challenged by what Alistair Begg said on this.

“…. Get down on your knees and stay there for those children. Our children are going to go away. It is absolutely certain; they’ll be gone. They’ll be among people who will want to change their name, change their location, change their diet, change their mind. How in the wide world will they ever be able to stand?  It won’t happen in a vacuum, and what is happening today in your home, in your television viewing, in the literature you read, in the conversations around your family table, is laying the foundations for the day when like this young man {Daniel} . They will need to stand and declare their purpose.

 

We don’t want to raise little robots but we want our children to believe and have a deep faith in Jesus Christ.

We need to take seriously the words of Dt. 6 Talk to your children about the things of God when you walk along the way, when you lie down and when you get up. ie. Let the word of God influence every area of your life and talk about it and explain it to your children.

 

PEER PRESSURE  is a very real pressure. We all face it. It is not all negative. And we, in turn can put pressure on others.

BUT when we are under pressure to conform to things that go against our faith we have 3 ways to deal with.

To be absorbed.

To become isolated.

To be a Daniel.

Dare to be a Daniel!

Dare to stand alone!

Dare to have apurpose firm!

Dare to make it known!

Pressure points – Parenting

Guidelines for Parents.

Deut.6v4-9; Col.3v21.

 

[Both parents believers; one parent a believer and one not; single parent]

 

THEME: Children are a gift from God and need to be raise according to principles given by God.

 

 

There are very few verses in the Bible that are devoted specifically to the raising of children. There are the passages from Dt.6 and Col.3 that we read – also Eph.6 and also the well known verses about “Honour your father and mother…” “Spare the rod and spoil the child” etc.

 

This should not lead us into thinking that God is not concerned about families or that they don’t have a high priority in God’s economy. The family is all about relationships – about caring for one another, trusting, loving, helping, giving and receiving, about work and material things, about serving each other, etc ……………. – Does the Bible have something to say about these things? Plenty!!

 

Also we need to remember that community life was very different in Bible times than it is in our over-individualised Western society. There was a much stronger link between family life and community than there is in our culture.

 

ILLUS.:

In Africa a man might ask his Boss for time off to go to his father’s funeral and then a few months later ask the same thing again – he is not trying to pull a fast one – his uncles and village elders are often considered as fathers.

 

In the early church there were no church buildings – the church meet in homes – and we read of households being converted and being baptised. Well those family members formed the nucleus of the local church and so when Paul and John and Peter write to “The church at …..” they are often largely addressing relationships within family – AND, of course, the Church, the Body of Christ expressed in local congregations, is the Family of God.

 

Thus instructions on how to treat each other within the family of God also apply within the nuclear family. “Love each other, esteem each other better than yourselves …” can’t possibly apply only in the Church and not in the family. Care and concern, love and discipline, instruction and responsibility are necessary for both Church family and natural family.

 

Western Society has become obssessed with materialism and individualism. Thus it becomes important to have a TV, video, two cars, etc., for which very often Mum must go out to work, or Dad must work long hours which often means neglect of children. Normally this is done under the guise of providing for the family.

 

NOW before you get all hot under the collar – I am not one who believes that wives must always be pregnant and in the kitchen; I am not opposed to woman having a career AND it is sometimes essential in the present ecomonic climate for wives to work to provide for the family.

 

BUT we must not fall into the trap of thinking that material provision for our children is enough – material provision alone is never enough.

 

With all the problems in Western society – the break down of social structure, divorce, single-parent families, crime, immoral behaviour, etc {I am not going to go into a long list of statistics, we all know the problems} – now even secular sociologist are being to say that we need to have more emphasis on “Community”

 

“Communitarianism” is the new buzz word – of course it comes from America – but it is being talked about in Britian too. Tony Blair, Leader of the Labour Party has picked up on it this passed week.

There was an article about it in last Saturday’s Independent [18/5/95]

 

READ highlighted sections ………………………………………..

 

They seem to be writing as if they have discovered something new. Well the emphasis on the family is not new – it goes back to the book of Genesis and it was God’s ideas – He brought Adam and Eve together and told them to have children – he created FAMILY.

 

What we need to be careful of in the so called new “communitarianism”  is that some of its proponents are saying that homosexual couples and lesbian couples also constitute “normal” family and can therefore adopt children and should be accepted.

 

Yes we do need to return to an emphasis on the family BUT unless it is God’s way – and it is the kind of family  that God intended it is not going to improve society – it will simply be another human philosophy that will fail.

 

Now this morning I want to briefly deal with some guidelines for parents.

Children are a gift from God and when God gives us gifts he also gives us responsibility.

 

SOME PRELIMINARY COMMENTS.

 

-1) a huge subject – we only skim the surface.

-2) by preaching about this it does not mean that we have got it ALL right -if I only preached about what I get right I would have little to say .

-3) because we fail it is easy to get discouraged – don’t, keep going – there’s forgiveness for our failures.

-4) Every child is different and constantly changing – no person is a fixed comodity; that includes the parents.

-5) while we can and should learn from each other – we need good models to follow – NO ONE ever gets it completely right.

 

There are many things we can say about parenting – I want to focus on two – a negative and a positive.

 

[Col. 3v21] Eph.6v4. “Fathers don’t exasperate your children” Modern translation “Parents don’t come down to hard on your children or you will crush their spirits”

 

Eph.6v4. “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” {The Message “Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the master”}

 

If you are not a parent don’t switch off at this point – many of the principles needed in family life are also needed in the church family. Maybe you are a grandparent, or if you are younger one day you will be a parent – or if you ever have to care for children you will be acting as a substitute parent.

 

To those who are parents and whose spouses are not christians and those who are single parents I will say something specifically about that in a moment.

1. NEGATIVELY: Parents don’t come down too hard …

 

ILLUS.: Before I was a parent I seldom got angry – I never shouted at any one – I was very cool calm and collected! BUT then we had children –

 

BUT the problem was not the children the problem was me – that is not to say the children are perfect [so don’t you explorers get any wrong ideas about being perfect – if you do something wrong its not your parents’ fault its yours] –

 

BUT you see children don’t simply sit in the corner and do what you want them to do – they want to be involved, they want to touch your new sound system, the want to help cook and bake and decorate – they start off wanting to borrow your new pencil and end up wanting to borrow the car.

 

AND I have discover – or maybe I should say that I am discovering – that I have needed to change – I have had to learn not to be so selfish – it takes time to be a parent.

 

In what way can we be too hard on our children.

 

a) we can hurt them physically.

In a society where child abuse is very prevalent we need to be constantly on our guard. Now I can hear many reacting saying “I would never do that!!” Well praise God, – but most abuse takes place when parents lose their tempter and lash out or when they are angry and hostile toward others and take it out on their children. This also manifests itself in extremes of physical punishment. This is usually symptomatic of psychological or spiritual problems.

 

There is not place for brutal discipline! Discipline Yes!! And yes, for the record I do believe in spanking – at appropriate times and in appropriate ways – not in anger!! DISCIPLINE IN LOVE —  Like God “Whom the Father loves he also disciplines …. ” That is a Whole subject on its own and if you want more about that read “Dare to discipline” by James Dobson.

 

b) we can hurt our children psychologically.

There are parents who would never dream of ever striking their children in a physical way and yet will use psychological methhods to put them down, to criticize and to huminliate them. This can cause anger, resentment, bitterness and all kinds or other problems that are far worse than the affects of physical abuse.

 

Things like:

You are so stupid!”  –  “You are a useless child!”  –  “It is because I have to look after you that I can’t enjoy my life!!”

 

c) We can hurt our children by neglect

This is particularly true of modern Western father – so busy that no time for children.

 

ILLUS.: survey by YALE – Fathers said 40 mins per day with children in meaningful time – in reality 40 secs.

 

Leads to resentment and anger – “My Dad never came to watch me play football!!”

Unless we spend time with our children we will not understand their world – their world in different to ours and it is different to the one we grew up in – we need to listen to our children {you children take time to talk to your Mum and Dad}

 

Spending time  can be a particular problem for those involved in church/christian work – so busy ministering to others that they neglect their own families.

 

On the other hand Christian Parent don’t use your children as an excuse not to serve the Lord – that is a bad exapmle to your children.

 

d) we hurt our children by expecting too much from them.

We all want our children to do well and school, sport, music, etc. – BUT we need to be realistic – standard that are too high lead to discouragement, frustration and anger. Every child, as you know, is different – sometomes they are so differnt you wonder if they have the same parents.

 

Don’t relive your life through your child – “If you don’t win your race I won’t buy you ….”

 

e) we hurt our children by giving conditional acceptance/love.

If they comfrom to the pparents standards they are loved and accepted  if not they are punished and rejected.

If I am good I’ll be favoured and if I’m bad I’ll be reject

 

As they get older – teenagers and young adults – they will begin to make their own decisions and they might conflict with ours – we need to let them grow up – to be there for them and not say “I told you so! You made your bed now lie in it” when they blow it! I am shooting in the dark here because our children have reached young adulthood yet!!

 

This is a bad reflection of God’s love – God’s love is unconditional – often children have a distorted view of God because of the way their parents (esp.Fathers) treat them. “If God is a father like my father was to me them I don’t want to know ”  They might not verbalise it but that is often what the feel.

 

f) we hurt our children when we won’t admit our own mistakes.

One of the hardest thiongs for a parent to do is to say to their child “I AM SORRY”

When you mess up you children know it!  Admit it! Apologize! ask foriveness!  You won’t lose respect rather you will gain it AND you will be teaching a great biblical truth!!

 

2. POSITIVELY: lead them in the way of the Lord.

 

After all the negative things we have said you might feel weighed down – Yes it is a huge responsibility having children but the joy far outweighs the work involved. It is a privilege to be a parent and a responsiblility.

 

ILLUS.: Have you ever walked into your child’s room at night while they are asleep and just stood their looking and them – then being overwhelmed with a sense of love and anguish at the thought of loosing them OR of them being hurt.

 

LEAD THEM IN THE WAY OF THE LORD:-

 

a) by example.

Children are natural mimicks – they copy what we do! Paul advice to Timothy is also good advice to parents.

Set an example  … in speech,  in life, in love,

in faith and in purity.” [I Tim4v12]

 

Children learn from the way we talk to each other, from the way we deal with problems,  — if we are loud and boistrous and shout a lot they will probably do the same.

To put is simply, if we want our children to reflect the life of Jesus Christ then we need to reflect Jesus in our lives.

So like Paul said to the velievers we can say to our children “Follow me as I follow Christ..” What an awesome responsibility.

 

Husband and wife how you relate to each other has a major impact on your children.

 

QUOTE “The most important thing a father can do for his children is love their mother” [Theodore M Hesburgh]

 

“Husband love your wives  — wives submit to your husbands” [Eph 6]

 

b) by teaching them

 

Paul gives a wonderful example of parental instruction in his letter to the Thessaonian Church :

For you know that we dealt with each of you

as a father deals with his children,

encouraging, comforting and urging

you to live lives worthy of God, who

calls you into his kingdom and glory. [1 Thess.2v11-12]

 

Children need to be encouraged and helped NOT stretched and pushed.

They need comfort when they are hurt – emotionally and physically – we need to help them express their feelings – to talk about the things that concern them.

 

They need time – “I give my child quality time

ILLUS.: Restaurant – Steak – waiter brings one cubic inch of the best prime fillet – when you complain “Well sir it is the quality NOT the quantity that is important.”

 

It takes time to be a parent!!!

 

Paul goal is that they “Live lives worthy of God” that is the goal, We want our children to succeed at school and sport and music and dance – and we spend time and energy on those things – What about in talking about the things of God, in praying together, in family Bible study! Are the things of God part of every day conversation – that is what Dt.6v4-7 are about –

It is not easy and in our family we certainly haven’t arrived It is a constant struggle but we must keep trying!!

 

3. Single parents / homes where only one spouse is a believer.

 

a) if your spouse is not a Christian.

 

Because a person is not a believer is does not mean that he/she is a bad parent – often they are better parents than many Christians, sadly!!

If you are a Christain wife and your husband is not then the best thing you can do is be the best wife you can possibly be!!

 

Family prayer times etc. will not be possible BUT you can be an example to your children, you can talk to your children, you can possibly pray with them alone and you can certainly pray for them!!

 

And you and your husband can talk together about the best way to raise them and deal with issues together .

 

ILLUS.: When I was a child my father was not a Christian but my mother was – we went to SS and my Mom read missionary stroies to me – she prayed with me and I know she prayed for me and still does. All 4 of us children came to know Christ – and eventulally so did my Dad 2 years before his death.

 

It is possible and GOD is very gracious.

 

b) Single parents

Being a single parent is tough – it is difficult when there are two of you – most single parents are woman. BUT as a Christian God has given you another family – the church – and the church family must be willing to help – this is a challenge to all of us – The church can’t fulfill the role of the absent parent but it can help.

I know it help being part of the church family  because some of you have told me so.

 

It is not the ideal – but it is not hopeless – God is quite capable of helping you and your children.

 

We have example of woman in the Bible who had a trememdous influence for God – Lydia in Acts 16 was a successful business woman who influence her whole household for God – there is no mention of her husband so we assume she didn’t have one.

Eunice, Timothy’s mother, [her husband is not mentioned] but she raise Timothy to be a mature spiritual man.

 

Listen to what John Wesley said about his mother “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.”

 

There is so much more that could be said but time is gone!

 

4. In a sense all believers are to “parent”each other.

Listen to some of the instructions to christians which apply in the home and the family of God:

 

– do not slander one another [James 4v11]

– do not grumble aginst one another [James 5v9]

– do not pass judgement [Rom.14v13]

– teach and counsel one another [Col. 3v16]

– encourage one anthoer daily [Heb. 3v13]

– show love to one another []

– help one another[]

– bear one anothers burdens []

 

Don’t these things sound like a good reciepe for family life.

 

READ Col. 3v12-17 [from “The Message}

Pressure points – Loneliness (part 2)

LONELINESS

[Pressure Points Series]

 

1.INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUST: Look in the local newspapers/ magazines and also some of the national ones. In the personal columns their are numerous Dating agencies, Friendship clubs, Match making agencies, Lonely hearts Clubs. Some have pages devoted to personal ads. looking for friendship/companionship. {Some are very seedy – simply sex dating ads}

 

But many are from lonely people who desperately want someone to be with. If we simply take the number in our area, and there are many, and multiply that around the country we begin to realise the vast numbers of people who are lonely. Often feeling unwanted, uncared for and unloved.

There are, of course, thousands and thousands of lonely people who don’t put advertisments in newspapers/magazines or join “Lonely-Hearts Clubs”.

 

More people live alone in our day than ever before. There are more elderly people as a result of people living longer and many no longer live with family as they may have done in past years. There are more young singles and divorcees.

 

2.LONELINESS: WHAT IS IT?

 

Are those who live alone the only ones who can be lonely?  Of course not!! Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lonely and lonely doesn’t mean that you are alone.

 

ILLUST: When I was 18 I went to the Army. Conscription. We travelled all night on a train to a place I’d never been before. There were thousands of other men there BUT those first few days were probably one of the loneliest times of my life.

 

Big cities where you are surrounded by millions of people are often the loneliest places on earth.

 

Loneliness and aloneness are not synonymous terms – there is a measure of overlap but they are not the same. The same is true of solitude and isolation. Often the one thing that we desire more than anything else is to be alone for a while.

 

ILLUST: Mothers with young children long for a bit of solitude.

 

In our busy, noisy world we need times of quiet solitude. Time to think, meditate, reflect. As Christians we need time away from others people to be alone with God.

 

3. THE REASONS FOR FEELING LONELY.

 

Loneliness through circumstances.

After the death of  a loved one, esp. a spouse there is a deep, aching void of loneliness. Someone is gone who cannot be replaced.

            If you move to a new location leaving the familiar behind you can also feel lonely.

If friends, family of colleagues don’t share the same concerns and interests as you, you can also feel a sense of loneliness.

 

Choosing to be lonely.

BUT you say, “No one chooses to be lonely”  Maybe in the past or even the present we have reached out to other people and have been rejected, disappointment, hurt etc and now we are afraid to get hurt again. Understandable but not necessarily right. It is often easier to withdraw to a safe distance than it is to risk disappointment. The known pain of loneliness is preferably to the possible pain of disappointment.

The problem with this kind of self-inflicted loneliness is that we end up isolating ourselves from people. OR we seek superficial relationships with others just so that we can keep our loneliness manageable. We don’t want to risk getting hurt so we don’t want to risk entering into deep and meaningful relationships.

 

4. CAN LONELINESS BE CONQUERED AND ELIMINATED?

 

ILLUST: If you are happily married with two wonderful children who love you and you have many friends – you enjoy a happy and fulfilled life.

Does this mean that you will not be lonely? [unless you circumstances change]

 

When God created men and women he did so with a capacity to fully enjoy each other and also to enjoy a full relationship with himself.

 

When sin entered the world and mankind was cut off from God a hole was left that no one but God can fill. Added to that, the relationship between Adam and Eve, which until the fall was perfect, now became marred. Now because we are all sinners, none of us is perfect, we cannot fully meet the needs in others of have our needs fully meet by them.

 

That is why even when you are content with your life and it is full of meaningful and happy relationships there can still be time of loneliness.

 

You may not feel intensely lonely right now! But are there not times when you feel lonely even when there would seem to be no apparent reason. ie.a loved one hasn’t died and circumstances are fine.

 

I can Hear someone saying!!! “If you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour then you will never be lonely”  Didn’t Jesus say”I will be with you always, even to the very end of the age” [Matt.28v20]

 

But relationships like God intended are not possible because we still live in a fallen and sinful world. Our relationships with God and with our fellow Christians are still not perfect because we are not perfect. [1 Co.13v12]

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirrior;

Then we shall see face to face.

Now I know in part,

then I shall know fully,

even as I am fully known. [2Co.13v12]

 

It is true that God is with us always but that does not take away our feelings of loneliness. To say that God is all we need is TRUE! But all we need for what? He never promised to take away all our unpleasant feelings. What he did promise was to be with us and to empower us to face those feelings of loneliness in the midst of a sinful, imperfect world.

God’s grace is not a pain killer. It doesn’t stop us from feeling disappointment, pain, grief and loneliness. God’s grace gives us the power to cope in the midst of these distresses.

 

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to go on the heights [Hab.3v19]

 

God doesn’t always remove the obstacles [ the heights – mountains] What he does is give us goat’s feet so that we can cope. BUT he never gives us more than we can handle

 

5. HOW DO WE HANDLE LONELINESS?

 

One of the difficulties that we as Christians face is that we are already Citizens of Heaven BUT we still have our feet planted firmly in this world. We have not yet received all the has been promised. We live between the NOW and the NOT YET.

First danger – loneliness is a fact of life so just live with it. This attitude fails to grasp the hope that God has given us in Christ!

Second danger – says that because of this hope we have in Christ these so-called negative emotional feelings are ungodly. We must have faith and live victorious lives. We must never succumb to any of these “so-called weaknesses”. This attitude turns a blind eye to suffering and reduces FAITH to being one’s ability to numb one’s feelings. Stoical numbness is not faith.

 

Three ways NOT to handle loneliness.

1. DENIAL – “I never think about it really, I just get on with my life”

2. MINIMIZING – “I get lonely occassionally, but I must be thankful for the friends God

has given me”

3. TRIVIALIZING -” Okay, so I feel lonely sometimes, doesn’t everyone?”

 

Spiritual maturity is not seen in our ability to numb our feelings. God doesn’t call us to deny our loneliness [and our other feelings], but to acknowledge these feelings and enter into them knowing that we have a caring, loving God who calls us to trust Him in the midst of unresolved loneliness.

 

Responding positively to loneliness.

 

* We need to acknowledge loneliness as a reality of Life. [degree of loneliness varies].

* Don’t compound your loneliness by feelings of guilt about being lonely. Loneliness is a natural human emotion. We are needy people. We were created as relational beings. To deny our neediness is to present ourselves as having the resources we need to live life on our own. Such a view sidelines God.

* When we are hurting our natural inclination is to get rid of or relieve the hurt. The question we should ask, and it is tough, is not “How can I get rid of the pain ?” BUT  “What can I learn through this?” We certainly need God’s help to respond this way. Jesus understands what we are going through and he will help us cope!

Therefore, since we have a High Priest

who has gone through the heavens,

Jesus the Son of God,

let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

For we don not have a High Priest

who is unable to synpathise with our weaknesses,

but we have one who has been tempted in every way,

just as we are – yet without sin.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,

so that we may receive mercy and

find grace in time of need [Heb.4v14-16]

 

* Look for support in your loneliness, but don’t demand to be relieve of it. As Christians we are responsible to support and care for each other.Bear one anothers burdens”  We can not demand from each other what we are unable to deliver.

We can and must be caring, loving and supportive we don’t want to add to loneliness. BUT we can’t remove that deep inner sense of loneliness that we all face to a greater or lesser degree and will continue to feel until we are made perfect in heaven.

 

As Christians together within the body of Christ, we are not just there to hold each others hands. Or to get toether in a HOLY HUDDLE and have a pity party.

Since we are part of God’s household:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,

for he who promised is faithful.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on

toward love and good deeds. [Heb.10v23-24]

 

We are to share together our hopes and our hurts.

As Christians our goal is not simply to be another support group for hurting people. Caring and support and togetherness is not the goal of the Church. The Church is about Jesus Christ.

He has called us and wants us to follow him. To bring our wants and needs into subjection to his will. It is in seeking to be faithful to Christ, both individually and togther, that this sense of belonging and togetherness is found as a by-product of obedience to Christ’s lordship.

 

ILLUST: It is as we follow Christ that these other needs are met. God’s work always involves people. Working with people, caring for people.

 

Lamentations 3.We often quote the verses about God’s great faithfulness. [And we sing :Great is your Faithfulness] But we forget the context in which it was written.

Jerusalem had just been destroyed by the Babylonians. Jeremiah was grieving over the lost. He had devoted his life to warning the Jews about the pending disaster if they didn’t return to the Lord, but they had not listened, The disaster he predicted happened. The fact that he was right brought no joy.

 

[illust: A parent who warns a child of trouble ahead grieves when the advice is unheeded and the predicted happens]

Jeremiah was sitting on the smoking rubble of the city with dead, wounded and starving around him. He must have felt pain and fear and loneliness. He feels alone. Cut off from God and from his people. Yet he writes

Yet this I call to mind

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love

we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself,

“The Lord is my portion

therefore I will wait for him.

[Lam.3v21-24]

 

Inspite of his personal pain and loneliness he knew his God. He knew something of God’s purposes. He didn’t ignore his pain and anguish. It was very real. But he transcends it. He has a hope. He has a correct view of God and that puts his own situation and feelings into perspective.

 

You see there is something more impotant than my struggles, and my pain, and my loneliness.The Glory of God is more important. It is not that our struggles and pains are irrelevant but it is surprising that when we choose to move out towards others in the midst of our struggles that we find unexpected joy.

Listen to James:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers,

whenever you face trials of many kinds.

because you know that the testing of

your faith develops perseverance.

Perseverance must finish its work

so that you may be mature and complete

not lacking anything. [James 1v2-3]

 

 

6. HELPING OTHERS.

 

It is all too easy, when we are hurting, to turn in on ourselves! Sometimes the greatest help we can receive is by helping others!

It doesn’t mean getting into heavy discussions or preaching mini-sermon at them.

– a phone call;

– making an effort to speak to new people at Church;

– spending time talking to and elderly person who is house bound.

– taking a plant to a new neighbour.

– writing a note of encouragement.

– inviting someone for tea/meal

The list is endless; down to earth acts of kindness motivated by the desire to share the goodness of God with those who are lonely. Because, we too, know the pain of loneliness.

 

This kind of caring springs from hearts that are confident of the goodness of God. God wants to work in us and through us inspite of our loneliness.

We have the sure hope that one day this deep loneliness will be replace by an eternal, perfect fellowship with God and with each other.

 

Let us not deny our feelings of Loneliness. At time it may seem unbearable. But through our expeiences may we learn of God  and learn to love and care for others better.

Pressure points – Loneliness (part 1)

LONELINESS

 

1.INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUST: Look in a newspaper and in personal columns there are numerous Dating agencies, Friendship clubs, Match making agencies, Lonely hearts Clubs. Some have pages devoted to personal ads. looking for friendship/companionship.

There are, of course, thousands and thousands of lonely people who don’t put advertisements in newspapers/magazines or join “Lonely-Hearts Clubs”.

 

More people live alone today than ever before. Elderly, singles, and divorcees etc.

 

2.LONELINESS: WHAT IS IT?

 

Are those who live alone the only ones who can be lonely?  Of course not!!

Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lonely and lonely doesn’t mean that you are alone.

 

ILLUS: When I was 18 I went to the Army. Conscription. We travelled all night on a train to a place I’d never been before. There were thousands of other men there BUT those first few days were probably one of the loneliest times of my life.

 

Big cities where you are surrounded by millions of people are often the loneliest places on earth. Illus.: Croc. Dundee – in NY “Must be friendlinest place in world w. so many people”

 

Loneliness and aloneness are not synonymous terms – there is a measure of overlap but they are not the same. The same is true of solitude and isolation. Often the one thing that we desire more than anything else is to be alone for a while.

ILLUST: Mothers with young children long for a bit of solitude.

 

In our busy, noisy world we need times of quiet solitude. Time to think, meditate, reflect. Christians time away alone with God.

 

3. THE REASONS FOR FEELING LONELY.

 

Loneliness through circumstances.

After the death of a loved one, esp. a spouse there is a deep, aching void of loneliness. Someone is gone who cannot be replaced.

If you move to a new location leaving the familiar behind you can also feel lonely.

If friends, family of colleagues don’t share the same concerns and interests as you, you can also feel a sense of loneliness.

 

 

Choosing to be lonely.

BUT you say, “No one chooses to be lonely”.  Maybe in the past or even the present we have reached out to someone and have been rejected, disappointment, hurt etc and now we are afraid to get hurt again. Understandable but not necessarily right. It is often easier to withdraw to a safe distance than it is to risk disappointment. The known pain of loneliness is preferably to the possible pain of disappointment.

The problem with this kind of self-inflicted loneliness is that we end up isolating ourselves from people. OR we seek superficial relationships with others just so that we can keep our loneliness manageable. We don’t want to risk getting hurt so we won’t risk entering into meaningful relationships.

 

4. CAN LONELINESS BE CONQUERED AND ELIMINATED?

 

ILLUST: If you are happily married with two wonderful children who love you and you have many friends – you enjoy a happy and fulfilled life.

Does this mean that you will not be lonely? [unless you circumstances change]

 

When God created men and women he did so with a capacity to fully enjoy each other and also to enjoy a full relationship with himself. Gen. 2  “ … it is not good for man to be alone…”

 

When sin entered the world and mankind was cut off from God a hole was left that no one but God can fill.

Also, the relationship between Adam and Eve, which until the fall was perfect, now became marred. Now because we are all sinners, none of us is perfect, we cannot fully meet the needs in others nor have our needs fully meet by them.

 

That is why even when you are content with your life and it is full of meaningful and happy relationships there can still be times of loneliness sometimes for no obvious reason. – awake in night!!

 

I can Hear someone saying!!! “If you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour then you will never be lonely”  Didn’t Jesus say “I will be with you always, even to the very end of the age” [Matt.28v20]

 

It is true that God is with us always but that doesn’t mean we will never feel lonely. He never promised to take away all our unpleasant feelings. What he did promise was to be with us and to help us to face those feelings of loneliness in the midst of a sinful, imperfect world.

God’s grace is not a painkiller. It doesn’t stop us from feeling disappointment, pain, grief and loneliness. God’s grace gives us the power to cope in the midst of these distresses.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights [Hab.3v19]

 

God doesn’t always remove the obstacles [the heights – mountains] What he does is give us goat’s feet so that we can cope. BUT he never gives us more than we can handle.

 

5. HOW DO WE HANDLE LONELINESS?

 

Difficulty for Christians is we are Citizens of Heaven BUT still have to live in this world. We are not yet in heaven – perfect.

1st danger – loneliness is a fact of life so just live with it. This attitude fails to grasp the hope that God has given us in Jesus!

2nd danger – says that because of this hope we have in Christ these so-called negative emotional feelings are ungodly. We must have faith. We must never succumb to any of these “so-called weaknesses”. This attitude turns a blind eye to suffering and reduces FAITH to being one’s ability to numb one’s feelings. Stoical numbness is not faith.

 

Three ways NOT to handle loneliness.

1. DENIAL – “I never think about it really, I just get on with my life”

2. MINIMIZING – “I get lonely occasionally, but I must be thankful for the friends God has given me”

3. TRIVIALIZING -” Okay, so I feel lonely sometimes, doesn’t everyone?”

God doesn’t ask us to deny our loneliness [and our other feelings], but to acknowledge these feelings and to trust Him in spite of our feelings.

 

Responding positively to loneliness.

  • We need to acknowledge loneliness as a reality of Life. [Degrees of loneliness]
  • Don’t compound your loneliness by feelings of guilt about being lonely. Loneliness is a natural human emotion. We are needy people. We were created as relational beings. To deny our neediness is to present ourselves as having the resources we need to live life on our own. Such a view sidelines God.
  • When we are hurting our natural inclination is to get rid of or relieve the hurt. BUT also should ask – “What can I learn through this?”

We certainly need God’s help to respond this way. Jesus understands what we are going through and he will help us!

Therefore, since we have a High Priest who has gone through the heavens,

Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need [Heb.4v14-16]

 

Trusting God when life is smooth and pleasant not too difficult but what about when it is tough – We love the hymn Great is your Faithfulness

Based on Lamentations 3. context ???.

JEREMIAH. Jerusalem had just been destroyed by the Babylonians. Jeremiah was grieving over the lost. He had devoted his life to warning the Jews about the pending disaster if they didn’t return to the Lord, but they had not listened, The disaster he predicted happened. The fact that he was right brought no joy.

Jeremiah was sitting on the smoking rubble of the city with dead, wounded and starving around him. He must have felt pain and fear and loneliness. He feels alone. Cut off from God and from his people.        Yet he writes:-

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion therefore I will wait for him. [Lam.3v21-24]

 

In spite of his personal pain and loneliness he knew his God. He knew something of God’s purposes. He didn’t ignore his pain and anguish. It was very real. But he sees past it. He has a hope. He has a correct view of God and that puts his own situation and feelings into perspective.

 

6. HELPING OTHERS.

 

It is all too easy, when we are hurting, to turn in on ourselves! Sometimes the greatest help we can receive is by helping others!

 

It doesn’t mean getting into heavy discussions or preaching mini-sermon at them.

– a phone call;

– making an effort to speak to new people at Church / or wherever;

– spending time talking to someone who is house bound.

– taking a plant to a new neighbour.

–         writing a note of encouragement.

–         inviting someone for tea/meal …….. endless; down to earth acts of kindness.

True we don’t get accepted by God thru’ works BUT still required to do them!

 

We have the sure hope that one day this deep loneliness will be replace by an eternal, perfect fellowship with God and with each other.

Let us not deny our feelings of Loneliness. At times it may seem unbearable. But through our experiences may we learn more of God and learn to care for others better.