Summary: I used this lesson for our Friend Day. God is God and our job is to submit ourselves to His will and His ways.
A. The story is told of a college senior who took his girlfriend to a football game.
1. They found seats in the crowded stadium and were watching the action.
2. The coach sent a substitute into the game and as he was running onto the field to take his position, the boy said to his girlfriend, “Take a good look at that fellow. I expect him to be our best man next year.”
3. Well, his girlfriend snuggled closer to him and said, “That’s the strangest marriage proposal I’ve ever heard, but, I accept!”
B. Hopefully I will be able to communicate clearly today, so that there will be no doubt about what I am saying or what kind of proposal I might be making for you to accept.
C. Let me state right up front, that I don’t expect this to be a very popular truth to many people.
1. There’s a cartoon that I wish I could have found to show you, but I couldn’t find it on the web.
a. The cartoon shows the front platform of a church, and instead of there being a traditional pulpit, there was a tank-like box with only a narrow opening on the front.
b. Through slit of an opening, you can see the preacher’s fearful eyes widen with apprehension as he announces that today’s sermon is about “submission.”
2. I thought about giving this sermon the title, “Submission isn’t a Four-Letter Word.”
3. Submission is not a very popular concept in American culture.
4. All of us want to think of ourselves as being “in charge,” that we don’t have to submit to or obey anyone.
5. Can you think of a popular song, movie or book on the subject of submission? I can’t.
6. But think of the opposite of submission – things like defiance, or self-assertion, I think you will find those to be prominent themes of American music, movies and books.
D. And even when you consider the way the Christian message is often packaged in contemporary America, you notice that the message of submission is not on the radar screen.
1. For instance, consider the immensely popular, smiling preacher, Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Church in Houston, TX.
2. Joel’s preaching and books promote what is called the “prosperity gospel” which basically says, “God wants you to be healthy and wealthy.”
a. As you can imagine that’s an appealing message – that’s what most people want, right?
3. His best selling first book, “Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential” contains section headings and chapter headings like this:
a. Enlarge Your Vision
b. God Has More in Store for You
c. Developing a Healthy Self-Image
d. Developing a Prosperous Mind-Set
e. Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words
4. He dishes up more of the same in his second book, “Becoming a Better You: Seven Keys to Improving Your Everyday Life.” Again, listen to some headings:
a. Give Your Dreams a New Beginning
b. Have Confidence in Yourself
E. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that everything Joel Osteen says and does is bad.
1. I’m just saying that there are some very important things missing and other things are distorted in his teaching.
2. For me, the bottom line to all of this is that it gets everything backwards and upside-down.
3. Rather than God being on His throne and in charge, with us being His humble servants, this approach to Christianity puts God at our disposal.
4. Rather than us submitting to God’s will, in this approach, God does what we tell Him to do, or what we believe Him into doing.
F. In truth, God is in charge, and God has given us wonderful promises, beyond our imagination, but many of those promises have to do with the next world, the world of heaven.
1. What we call eternal life.
2. In reality, things might not go so well for us in this world, even while we faithfully serve God.
3. God has not promised us a life free from difficulty, disease and death.
4. God has promised to carry us through any and all experiences that we might face.
G. How many of you saw the movie Bruce Almighty?
1. As with most films from Hollywood, there is good and bad in them, and this one is no exception – but probably more good than bad.
2. The comedian Jim Carrey stars in the movie, and plays a TV reporter who thinks he is being overlooked for promotions and various other misfortunes mean that God doesn’t care, or at least has let him down.
3. When God, played by Morgan Freeman, shows up to offer Bruce His own power for a season to see if he can do any better with it, Bruce accepts the deal.