Summary: A heart-driven focus on God is able to get us through all kinds of life issues.
1. [Attitude is important!
As his parents watched from the patio, a little boy played baseball by himself in the back yard. Of course this amounted to tossing a ball into the air and attempting to hit it with his bat. As he did so he proclaimed to no one in particular, "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!" Unfortunately, he missed the ball and, since he was the umpire too, regretfully announced, "Strike one." Undaunted the little fellow picked up the ball, threw it back into the air and said, "I'm the greatest baseball hitter ever!" With even greater intensity he swung the bat but all he caught was air for his efforts. "Strike two," he said. The boy paused a moment, examined the bat and ball carefully, and then for a third time threw the ball into the air. "I'm the greatest hitter in the history of baseball," he said. This time he swung for all he was worth, but just like the other two attempts, he missed. "Strike three," he mumbled. Then the boy sat for a moment considering what had just happened. After a minute or so, he turned to his parents and much to their surprise said, "Wow, I just struck out the greatest hitter in the world! I must be the greatest pitcher of all time."
Attitude really matters, doesn't it? It can make the difference between a good day and a bad day, a good marriage and a bad marriage, perhaps even a good life and a bad life. Chuck Swindoll says, "Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it."
2. We live in a challenging world
a. There is much to fear: Terrorist Threats -- King of Saudi Arabia -- ISIS to strike UK and US
b. Information boom and globalism -- technology gives instant information
c. Scientific exploration and discovery
d. Can lead to a confused state of mind -- "I don't know"
3. Without God, Fear rules
a. Who is God? Where is God? Why didn't God intervene?
b. Faith becomes crucial in hard and harsh times
I. An Attitude of Distinction (Personal encounter with God) -- 27.1-4
I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 2 Timothy 2.12b
A. A Common Source of Faith -- Available to Each One
1. Sometimes God speaks in the Plural -- Deuteronomy 6.4
2. Sometimes God speaks in the singular -- Deuteronomy 6.5ff
3. Similar to Acts 2
4. Faith in God demands a personal choice, determination
a. Unable to live off of the faith of others
b. Unable to live off of the expectations of others
B. A Common Source of Courage
A woman in Arkansas was sitting in her car in a parking lot last year when she heard a loud bang and then felt a sharp pain in the back of her head. She was holding her hands behind her head when someone walked by and asked, "Are you OK?" The woman answered, "I've been shot in the head, and I'm holding my brains in."
Well, it wasn't her brains. It was dough. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded in the back seat, apparently from the heat, making a loud explosion and shooting the dough into the back of the woman's head.
Sometimes our fears are like that lady's fear. They are unfounded and irrational but often our fears are based on rational and well-founded reasons.
1. Have God and have no fear
a. Pilate's challenge -- John 19.10
10 So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?"
b. Jesus' reminder to us -- Matthew 10.28
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
2. Present and future assurance -- Romans 8.31
C. A Common Source of Salvation -- many types of salvation
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation Jude 3a
There is a traumatic tale in the life of a parakeet named Chippie. It began when the bird's owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum cleaner. She was almost finished when the phone rang, so she turned around to answer it. Before she knew it, Chippie was gone. In a panic she ripped open the vacuum bag. There was Chippie, covered in dirt and gasping for air. She carried him to the bathroom and rinsed him off under the faucet. Looking at this dripping mini mass of poultry, it dawned on the owner that Chippie was cold and wet, so she reached for the hair dryer. A few days later a friend asked Chippie's owner how the little parakeet was recovering. "Well", she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore. He just sits and stares." No kidding! Sometimes life can do that to us, can't it? We feel sucked up, washed out and blown away by one struggle or another. The song is gone. All we feel like doing is sitting and staring.