Summary: Life is filled with ups and downs, but God’s Word helps us anticipate and soften the downs and keep the ups from morphing into downs.
Enjoying the Ups and Bracing for the Downs
1. I have told this joke before, but it has been a few years.
2. Two guys are bungee-jumping one day.
The first guy says to the second, "You know, we could make a lot of money running our own bungee-jumping service in Mexico." The second guy thinks this is a great idea, so the two pool their money and buy everything they'll need: tower, elastic cord, insurance, etc...
They travel to Mexico and begin to set up in the square. As they are constructing the tower, a crowd begins to assemble. Slowly, more and more people gather to watch them at work. After they have everything ready, they decide to give the crowd a demonstration.
The first guy jumps. He bounces at the end of the cord, but when he comes back up, the second guy notices that he has a few cuts and scratches.
Unfortunately, the second guy isn't able to catch him, and he falls again, bounces and comes back up again. This time, he is bruised and bleeding.
Again, the second guy misses him. The first guy falls again and bounces back up. This time, he's got a couple of broken bones and is almost unconscious. Luckily, the second guy finally catches him this time and says, "What happened? Was the cord too long?"
The first guy replies, "No, the cord was fine.... What in the world is a pinata?"
3. This literally illustrates life; it has its ups and downs, and we sometimes take a beating!
Main Idea: Life is filled with ups and downs, but God’s Word helps us anticipate and soften the downs and keep the ups from morphing into downs.
I. When We Are in SUSPENSE (25)
When Jacob was in Israel, grieving over loss of his son, Joseph, he sent most of his other sons to Egypt to buy food because of famine. When they came back the 2nd time with the news “Joseph is alive,” we cannot imagine the exuberance Jacob felt: “good news from afar.”
A. ANTICIPATE suspense.
B. Balance the likelihood of negative and POSITIVE outcomes.
• Solomon had great fleets of ships… never sure they would return…
• When we bought our house, we made an immediate offer and were still in suspense… those weeks, houses were selling like hotcakes!
C. When good news comes, CELEBRATE.
• When a sinner hears the good news of the Gospel and repents, all the angels of heaven celebrate! This is the ultimate good news from afar: Jesus’ work!
• When the prodigal came home, they celebrated.
• We may tend to be better at being depressed over bad news than we are celebrating good news. Do you know how to celebrate?
I Thessalonians 3:5-8, “For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.”
Application: Don’t be one of those teflon people who pretends life is under your control or you never worry or fear. We worry or fear first, then we go to the Lord for relief, but the Lord does not turn us into Mr. Spock the Vulcan. Celebrate with enthusiasm and accept suspense as part of life. You are not above it.
II. When We Face Moral COMPROMISE (26)
A. Compromise is not a BAD word.
B. The best of us can walk the path of moral or ethical COMPROMISE
• Myth: moral, spiritual, or ethical compromise is new.
C. Sometimes we may feel CONTAMINATED because of what goes on around us.
1. Difference between conviction and preference.
2. Difference between what we allow and what we advocate (e.g., working with a political activist, Jehovah’s Witness, or transgender person).
3. Are we forced to do something that violates our conscience?
D. Sometimes We Must RELY on compromised leaders.
1. Note here that the water is still drinkable, just muddied.
2. The point is that pure water is the best.
James 3:11, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?”
III. When Seeking APPRECIATION (27)
A. A matter of BALANCE
1. Receiving APPRECIATION spurs us on and is good.
2. Craving INORDINATE appreciation is egotistical and bad.
B. We need to EXPRESS appreciation to others, but not too thick.