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The Yeilded Life
Sometimes we allow sin to come into our lives and hinder the work of grace. Paul cautions that the blessings of grace upon a yielded life can be hindered by sin. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." (Ro. 6:12) Our unwillingness to confess our sin and seek God’s forgiveness and healing may hinder our service. The floodgates of God’s grace and power can be released only when we are right with Him.
In days gone by, great rafts of loose logs were floated down the rivers to the timber mills. Loggers could be seen skipping across the logs in an effort to keep them moving freely. If a particular log became caught upon a rock or obstruction, thousands of logs could be piled up in what became a huge log jam. When the logger found this key log and freed it, the jam would be broken and the logs would glide smoothly again. Sometimes the jam would be so great, that dynamite had to be used to free the key log. The analogy of sin in the Christian’s life is clear.
CHRIST IS THE WIND, CHRISTIANITY IS THE SAIL
Does the practice of our religion reflect the God we serve?
In Shane Hipps' book, "Selling Water by the River: A Book about the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way," he uses an analogy from sailing to express what has happened in the church over the past generations. He says (I quote loosely),
One thing that might ease our anxiety is to remember that Christ and Christianity are not the same thing; If Christ is the wind, then Christianity is the sail. Some sails are better than others at catching the wind, some sailors are better at using the sail, but there is always and only one wind. A sail without the wind is a limp flag; wind without a sail is still the wind. The relationship is only one way.
The wind (Christ) is the pre-existent creative power of the universe with no birthday or death date. The sail (Christianity) on the other hand is an institution built with the intention of harnessing that power. If the institution goes away, the power remains. Put simply, Christ is much, much bigger than our religion.
Listen to me, just because my religion bears his name doesn't always mean it bears His likeness. Such misconception is a dangerous, even an arrogant illusion. If we buy into this assumption, we become like the sail who believes it controls the wind.
Philip Yancey in his book Disappointment with God wrote this: "Imagine for a moment becoming a baby again: giving up language and muscle coordination, and the ability to eat solid food and control your bladder. God as a fetus! Or imagine yourself becoming a sea slug – that analogy is probably closer. On that day in Bethlehem, the Maker of All that is took form as helpless, dependent newborn.”
Perhaps an analogy will best clarify this. As Christians we may be compared with a reservoir for producing electrical power, like one of those you see when you drive down the canyon. When we accept Christ, construction of our reservoir is complete. We now have the potential to be useful and to affect lives. But until the flood gates are opened and the cascading river waters pour through, no power is realized. So it is when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. We open our lives to God and the Holy Spirit pours into us and through us. It is then we become most effective in God’s service.
As with the reservoir, this power-generating experience is not intended to be a one-time occurrence. It is to be an ongoing process. When our spiritual power runs low, we need to return to the Source and let the blessed Holy Spirit pour into us again, bringing fresh power.
Sometimes when I’m talking to teens, I draw an analogy between the bonding capacity of the body and adhesive tape. Adhesive tape is not made for repetitive use. The strongest bond adhesive tape is capable of making is formed with the first surface to which it is applied. You can remove the tape and reapply it to other surfaces several times, and it will still adhere. However, with every application, some of the adhesiveness has been compromised. Finally, if you continue the practice long enough, there will not be enough adhesiveness left to make the tape stick to any surface. God intended that the bond between mates be the closest and strongest one they are capable of forming.
Dr. Richard Dobbins in Homemade, Nov., 1987
Just how bad is it out there? And what really are we up against? Well, let me share with you some of the information I gleaned from 17 pages of fairly up to date statistics. [SLIDE 4] I learned first of all that sex is the #1 topic searched on the internet. Now I wasn’t really surprised to learn that---but the number of pornographic sites did surprise me. [SLIDE 5] I found that in 1998 there were 14 million pornographic websites. Five years later that number had grown to 260 million. The next year that number jumped from 260 to 372 million. If that rate of growth continues through the end of this year---when 2007 comes to an end there will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 million pornographic websites out there. And we’ve got a whole generation coming up---many to be married soon who have been gathering strange, unholy and unhealthy ideas about sex from the net---incredibly sad is that the [SLIDE 6] largest consumers of internet pornography are young people in the 12-17 year age bracket. [SLIDE 7] Folks 2.5 BILLION pornographic emails are sent everyday over the web. And while many people operate under the assumption that porn is a guy problem---the truth is [SLIDE 8] there are growing numbers of both men and women who are becoming addicted to internet porn. I don’t know about you [SLIDE 9] but it makes me wonder ---what’s next?
Besides the internet sexual immorality is being promoted via the adult movie industry. [SLIDE 10] Here in America we’re producing 11,000 new porn films every year and Americans are renting 800 million adult videos & DVDs annually. [SLIDE 11] HALF of all hotel guests watch pornographic movies. [SLIDE 12] And PORN accounts for 70% of the in-room revenue raised by hotels. ARE YOU BEGINNING TO GET THE PICTURE? [SLIDE 13] Cable networks provide pay per view services for those who don’t feel like they have to sneak off to a hotel to watch adult programming. [SLIDE 14] It wasn’t all that long ago that MTV launched a new channel---the LOGO channel which has been designed to appeal to and promote the homosexual lifestyle. [SLIDE 15] And in America the number of couples cohabitating went from about ˝ million in 1960 to over 5 million by the year 2000. I’m not sure what that number is today. By the way I’ve got to say this about cohabitating---besides the fact it’s a sin---society has sold us a totally lame idea. Here’s what I’m talking about [SLIDE 16] in our culture people often speak of cohabitating---that is living together before marriage—in terms of a test drive. They say ---well now you wouldn’t go out and buy a car without taking it for a test drive first, would you? So doesn’t it just make sense to have a trial run before you commit to marriage?” [SLIDE 17] Now the idea of taking the relationship for a test run sounds pretty good when you think in terms of being the driver…but that’s where the analogy breaks down. [SLIDE 18] The idea of the test drive doesn’t sound so good when you think of yourself as the car. Get real. Cars don’t have feelings. They don’t have a soul---so if you take them back after a test spin---they feel nothing. But dumping people because you decided to look for a different model—that’s a whole different matter.
And while we’ve talked touched on the topics or internet pornography, the adult movie industry, homosexuality and cohabitation--- there’s so much more going on--- [SLIDE 19] there’s printed porn---STDs/AIDS…900 numbers…adult bookstores, strip joints, night clubs, prostitution and on and on we could go. But let me tell you what really concerns me most in all of this---it’s the indifference of so many Christians---the lack of voices speaking out against this tidal wave of immorality---even worse than the lack of voices are those voices of agreement. Believe it or not---[SLIDE 20] studies show that half of the people in our nation who call themselves Christians don’t see a problem with couples living together. [SLIDE 21] 39% think there’s nothing wrong with sexual fantasizing. [SLIDE 22] Incredibly more than 1/3 of today’s church going women have intentionally visited pornographic websites. [SLIDE 23] And get this ˝ of church going men struggle with pornography.
And here in this seventh commandment, [SLIDE 24] the commandment where God says “You shall not commit adultery” is a clear call for God’s people in every generation to maintain sexual purity.
It’s very bright in the middle of the day, but no matter how bright the day is, night eventually comes and the light fades away. However, it is possible - in theory at least - to live our entire lives in the light of the sun, if we were simply to keep journeying westward fast enough to keep up with the sun. But because we don’t make that journey west, the day fades into night; light changes to darkness. The journey would be too difficult, it would cost too much, it would be too tiring. It’s easier just to be satisfied with where we are. That’s not a bad analogy for faith. Walking in the light of Christ - continually - is a difficult journey. It carries with it certain costs. It can at times be tiring and discouraging. But it has one great reward: it is a journey that we take with Jesus constantly at our sides, urging us on, lifting us and carrying us when we weary, providing for us when we think we just can’t give any more. There is a great source of strength to see us through this difficult journey of faith - the source of strength is the light of Christ, and it never fades, as long as we continue in faith and continue to trust, and continue to act on what we believe. If we do those things, the light of Christ will continue to shine within us and through us.
# John Stafford tells about an old well that stood outside the front door of their family farm house in New Hampshire. The water from the well was remarkably pure and cold. No matter how hot the summer or how severe the drought, the well was always a source of refreshment and joy. The faithful old well was a big part of his memories of summer vacations at the farmhouse.
The years passed and eventually the farmhouse was modernized. Wiring brought electric lights, and indoor plumbing brought hot and cold running water. The old well was no longer needed, so it was sealed for use in possible future emergencies.
One summer day, years later, John Stafford had a desire for cold, pure water. He unsealed the well and lowered a bucket for a nostalgic taste of the delightful refreshment he remembered. He was shocked to discover that the well that once had survived the severest droughts was bone dry! He asked local residents why their well had gone dry. He learned that wells of that sort were fed by hundreds of tiny underground rivulets which seep a steady flow of water. As long as the water is drawn out of the well, new water will flow in through the rivulets, keeping them open for more...
We know we have a healthy body when each and every member is working together and looking out for one another. Paul uses a lot of analogies comparing the human body and the church. There is not one part of our body that is not dependent on another part.
Behold, a team went forth to play a game of baseball.
Just as the umpire was saying, “Batter up,” the catcher for the home team arrived and took his place behind the plate. The center fielder didn’t show up at all but sent his regrets. The third baseman likewise failed to come to the game, having been up late the night before. The shortstop was present, but left his glove at home. Two of the substitute fielders were away on a weekend trip but said they were there in spirit.
The pitcher went to the mound and looked around for his teammates. But his heart was heavy, for their positions were empty. The game was announced, the visitors were in the stands, and there was nothing to do but pitch the ball and hope for the best. But in addition to pitching, he had to cover first and third base, as well as short and center field.
When the absent players heard that their team had lost, they were very upset. They held a meeting and decided to get a new pitcher.
So this is how the church is to function.
We work together for the same purpose, looking out for one another. When a weaker part is suffering, we suffer with them and offer support.
When another part rejoices, we rejoice with them. We are many, we are individuals with individual gifts, but we are all apart of One body.
Sin is a blasting presence, and every fine power shrinks and withers in the destructive heat. Every spiritual delicacy succumbs to its malignant touch...
Sin impairs the sight, and works toward blindness.
Sin benumbs the hearing and tends to make men deaf.
Sin perverts the taste, causing men to confound the sweet with the bitter, and the bitter with the sweet.
Sin hardens the touch, and eventually renders a man “past feeling.”
All these are Scriptural analogies, and their common significance appears to be this—sin blocks and chokes the fine senses of the spirit; by sin we are desensitized, rendered imperceptive, and the range of our correspondence is diminished. Sin creates callosity. It hoofs the spirit, and so reduces the area of our exposure to pain.
John Henry Jowett in The Grace Awakening.