Summary: This message deals with the Real Reasons for Ruptured Relationships as it relates to Us and God and interpersonals relationships.
"O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home!
Before the hills in order stood, Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God, To endless years the same."
Since God is "our help in ages past, our hope for years to come," then we, as saved citizens of heaven from the Tribe of Africa, must be ever diligent in MAINTAINING OUR COVENANT RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR GOD.
Every created, living and vital organism and created thing NEEDS MAINTENANCE in order to keep functioning properly. Perhaps you will give your nod of approval to this assertion: If we fail to do maintenance on our cars, they shall soon cease to function; for a car is a created-thing. Cars require gas, water, oil and general tune-ups periodically. If we fail to maintain them, they shall cease to run. And the same is true of an authentic and attractive relationship between us and our awesome God. Our relationship must be consistently fine-tuned, kept in working order, daily nurtured, diligently maintained. In the words of Paul, we must be "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
And so, I strongly contend and affirm today that if there were ever a people who MUST maintain a strong and vital relationship with God it is that often marginalized, maligned and maltreated nation of saints, who are of African descent. For history and personal experience from day to day has taught us well that surely we have no other helper, friend, confidant, provider, champion and lover than God alone! He alone has been and is "our help in ages past, our hope for years to come."
But so often we do maintenance on secondary and inconsequential relationships and do not prioritize the maintenance of our relationship with God. For some strange reason, we have come to view relationships with people of money, might and means more significant than a relationship with God. For we strain up to maintain a good relationship with those who have money, capital and material possessions. We would rather give our money and allegiance to banks, loan companies, credit unions, malls and department stores than give God our tithes, offerings, time and temples. Our excuse for that course of action is this: "Well, you know I’ve GOT TO pay this! I GOT TO do this! I GOT TO take care of that!" But in reality, the only thing you really have to do is to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness"! I GOT TO GIVE GOD TOP PRIORITY! I GOT TO SERVE GOD! I GOT TO MAINTAIN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD! THAT’S WHAT I GOT TO DO! THAT’S WHAT YOU GOT TO DO!
But when push comes to shove, we all know that God is the One who comes through for us! When, because of our displaced priorities, the people of money and means repossess their goods and dispossess us of things and wreak havoc on our emotional and spiritual state of mind and kick us to the curb for dead, we all know IT IS GOD WHO COMES TO OUR RESCUE. Yet, we oftentimes elevate secondary and inconsequential relationships above our relationship to God! Misplaced Priorities Rupture Vital Relationships!
And so, problems do and shall arise. Ruptures do and shall take place in our love/faith relationship with our God. Some synonyms for the word "Rupture" are BREAK, BREACH, BURSTING, DISRUPTION, FRACTURE, SPLIT and SEPARATION.
Have you ever been in a situation or relationship, the kind which you know something is WRONG, but you just can’t put your finger on the CAUSE of the problem? You know that a BREACH or BREAK has occurred. You sense a BURST in the bond of unity. You feel painfully the FRACTURE of faith and trust. You see the distance that SEPARATES you. But you don’t know the CAUSE. You seem to be at a loss as to the REASON. And so, you search for REASONS that would explain the RUPTURE in that RELATIONSHIP.
And it is at this point that our Text becomes relevant and practical. Because it gives us REAL REASONS FOR RUPTURED RELATIONSHIPS. And the operative word here is REAL. Real and not imagined. Real and not fake. Real and not counterfeit, fradulent or insincere. REAL REASONS FOR RUPTURED RELATIONSHIPS! And that is significant. That has relevant meaning. That has practical application. That has beneficial bearing on our bad behavior! Because I argue that if we are going to get at the ROOT of RUPTURED RELATIONSHIPS, WE MUST DIG FOR REAL REASONS!
I. And that leads me to submit, as my FIRST ARGUMENT, that WE MUST DIG BELOW THE SURFACE OF COUNTERFEIT CAUSES.
Sometimes we deny OUR problems by focusing on others instead of ourselves. We blame it on someone else. Blaming is a human sport. We play this blame-game all the time. We have become a people who assign blame and assess guilt, not on ourselves but on others! "I don’t have a problem" we say. "I may have a problem, but it’s not that serious," we say. "It’s those folks," we say. "He/she/they are the ones to blame," we say.