Summary: A Wednesday night devotional look at 3 principles of Christian belief that can be misunderstood.

Stones and Stumbling Blocks

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

UCLA alumni and fans made UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers’s life miserable during a season when his Bruins got off to a horrible start. Nobody in Southern California would hang out with him. "My dog was my only true friend," Rodgers said of that year. "I told my wife that every man needs at least two good friends. She bought me another dog."

Rodgers can be rigid in the face of adversity. When his players at UCLA were having difficulty adapting to the wishbone offense he’d installed and the school’s alumni demanded that he adopt another system, Rodgers didn’t budge. The wishbone, he said, "is like Christianity. If you believe in it only until something goes wrong, you didn’t believe in it in the first place."

1. God’s Perfect Will-the needle in a haystack

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

a. We tend to believe God’s will is very narrow

b. Young people in general and even immature Christians regardless of age stumble over this issue frequently.

c. I like the story about a rather legalistic Seminary student who wanted to have a scriptural basis for everything he did. He felt he was on solid ground if he could quote Bible book, chapter & verse to okay his actions.

He did all right with that until he began to fall in love with a beautiful co-ed. He wanted very much to kiss her, but he just couldn’t find a scripture to okay it. So, true to his conscience, he would simply walk her to the dormitory each night, look at her longingly, & then say "Good night."

This went on for several weeks, & all the time he was searching the Bible, trying to find some scripture to okay kissing her good night. But he couldn’t find one, until finally he came across that passage in Romans that says, "Greet each other with a holy kiss." He thought, "At last, I have scriptural authority for kissing her good night."

But to be sure, he went to his hermeneutics professor to check it out. After talking with the professor, he realized that the passage dealt more with a church setting than with a dating situation. So once again he simply didn’t have a passage of scripture to okay kissing his girl good night.

That evening he walked her to the dormitory & once again started to bid her "good night." But as he did, she grabbed him, pulled him toward her, & planted a 10-second kiss right on his lips.

At the end of the kiss, the Seminary student gasped for air, & stammered, "Bible verse, Bible verse." The girl grabbed him a 2nd time, & just before kissing him again, said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

d. The young person feels that Mr. or Mrs. Right is out there. They say, “He or she is the one”.

e. God calls us to holiness. He permits many avenues in life that will help us along the way.

f. It is important to pray for direction and wisdom but sometimes God is pleased with any one of several choices (moral ones excluded).

2. Once good always good-the trouble with tradition

COL 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

a. Remember Tevya’s song at the beginning of Fiddler on the Roof? “Tradition!”

b. Traditions lay an important foundation for the building of faith.

c. We should celebrate our traditions and work hard to remember the reason they became traditions. (Why did people want to do them again and again?—Because they were an effective means).

d. Years ago a man was searching his family roots and visited several cemeteries and read many inscriptions on the tombstones. There was one tombstone on which was engraved "Pause now stranger as you pass by; as you are now, so once was I. as I am now , so soon you will be. Prepare yourself to follow me!"

Next to the tombstone someone placed a piece of wood engaged with this note... "To follow you I am not content until I know which way you went."

e. They become stumbling blocks when the truth behind them is lost or when they become obsolete for the effective building up of the church and the attraction of the lost.

3. In Jesus name!-the yes and no of prayer

John 14:13-14, “ And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

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