Summary: How do we align our hearts - when trouble surrounds – when difficulties pile up – and there seems no possible way of escape? Series Theme Scripture: Ephesians 4:12-13

Scripture: Malachi 3:6-18

Series Theme Scripture: Ephesians 4:12-13

12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Aligning our “heart” with our Creator

How do we align our hearts - when trouble surrounds – when difficulties pile up – and there seems no possible way of escape?

Illus. - Bubba and the potato field

An old man lived alone in Idaho. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was backbreaking work, and his son, Bubba, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man mentioned it in a letter he sent to his son by saying, “I’m not sure exactly what to do. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. It looks like I won’t be able to plant that garden this year after all.” A few days later, he received a short letter from his son, “Dad, For heaven’s sake, don’t dig up that garden that’s where I buried the bodies!” At 4 a.m. the next morning, a crew of police officers, and the FBI arrived to find the bodies. After digging for hours, they gave up and apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son. “Dear Dad, under these circumstances, that’s the best I can do, go ahead and plant your potatoes now.”

Sometimes we are like the stubborn earth that stands in the way of experiencing a completely transformed life in Jesus Christ. Instead of being willing to trust, to take direction, and to accept the rewards Christ offers. We remain a potential garden…a potential garden in need of resurrection…a potential garden that needs to find the way, the truth, and the life…a potential garden just waiting to accept the victory that’s found in Jesus Christ. (borrowed from Sermon Central – Illustrations/Stories)

Henry Ward Beecher once said, "The strength and the happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too."...

Discuss Malachi 3:6-18

The ways we deal with personal and spiritual hurt

We start by WITHHOLDING: the ways this is expressed in our lives:

When a person withholds an honest response in any situation – it can breed RESENTMENT. Resentment is when I re-feel the hurt over and over again. Obviously my FEELINGS ARE HURT, and as the “reaction” forms, it often presents itself through PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR. In this “mode” I will likely act as if nothing is wrong – and will either secretly or openly plan for your demise! Passive-aggressive behavior is mentioned in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of the American Psychiatric Association as, “prevalent in the church.” Another way this manifests is through OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE behaviors. These usually occur within our minds and sound something like this, “ God I HATE them or I would like you to come against them – Oh God, I forgot I’m a Christian God. I can’t be having these thoughts! Help me to move past this Lord – but make sure you do what I ask first!”

We obsess over the situation and FEEL GUILTYfor having a bad thought cross our mind. We feel helpless in the situation – often, we feel that God checks out because of our behaviors and thoughts. As a result we become depressed, we isolate ourselves for many reasons including the aforementioned “guilt trip”.

Sometimes the pain might even move us to extremes like what I call a GEOGRAPHIC. A geographic is when I literally move away form the situation: out of the neighborhood; to another town, state, or country. (JONAH; Jeremiah 30:12) Most often what happens regarding a “geographic” among Christians is that I move to another church. Because I’ve not dealt with my issues, I take all of my personal problems with me to that new place.

As a pastor I often hear this when a new person arrives expressed in the words, “they were not feeding me at my last church.” When I press the person as to how they were neglected the answer sounds something like this, “ Oh, the pastor ( deacon, leader, etc) wouldn’t help me to resolve my issue with ___________, and therefore they did not equip me to handle bigger spiritual issues.” It is not that I don’t believe them – I’ve learned that often what is happening is an expression of “passive-aggressive behavior”. Left unchecked it is only a matter of time until that person finds something wrong with their “new” church and either goes back to their old church or moves on to yet another church! Geographic’s “propel” the cycle of WITHHOLDING because the “hurt” person refuses to accept God’s direction.

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