Friday, April 03, 2009

Are You...Out of Control???

There is no doubt that our financial world is totally out of control. As the government tries to get a grasp on the situation, it is struggling to return a sense of confidence into the banking system and into the mind of borrowers and lenders. But while this problem hangs over our world like a big black cloud, there are other areas of our world that are ‘out of control’, and that lack of control influences our tomorrows. In the Old Testament, Moses was given the awesome task of taking the reins over a ‘nation’ that was to become the central core of both Judaism and Christianity. He had on his hands a group of people who had lived in the middle of a pagan culture for 400 years. Doing so had certainly influenced their culture, their traditions, their morals, and their faith. They had been under the ‘control’ of the rules imposed by the Pharaohs, but now, they had no rules at all. As a result, one of the first orders of business on God’s calendar was to impose upon them a list of rules for them to follow. We know them today as the ten commandments. Those rules brought a sense of order into the wilderness camp. Leadership could now determine what was right or wrong. Judgment could be made based on those rules. What was out of control could be controlled.
Today, many folks tend to ignore the rules or they make new ones to suit their own whims. That has resulted in the global financial crisis, the severe decline in Biblical morality, the decline in marital fidelity, the rise of humanism, materialism, and the moral corruption in churches of all denominations. The sad thing is, the more we humans try to ‘control’ our lives, the more we get ‘out of control.’ The more we think, “I can handle this…” the more we discover—we can’t. So what areas of your life are out of control? What are you doing to change things? There is a key that God wants every out of control person to discover, that will bring your out of control world back into a sense of order and peace.
God never meant for us to ‘handle it all.” "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.'' (Matt 11:28-30) He paints us a picture here of people who serve their master as a slave, under bondage to a ‘yoke’ which controls their lives, decisions, movements and freedoms. The picture is of two oxen, harnessed together by a heavy wooden bar, a yoke, together pulling a plow in a field. It is a heavy burdensome weight. Instead God has designed for us to willingly choose to take His ‘yoke’… a new relationship, one that does not cause us to be burdened, yet maintains a sense of control for us when we cannot control things ourselves. He promises us that His way is ‘easy’ and ‘light.’
Yet all around us, we see both inside the church and outside of it, people grasping for control. Much of the problem is based on man’s neglect of the basics. Paul warned the early church, “ But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) These kind of people are ‘out of control’! There was a time when we used this ‘list’ to describe folks outside the church doors, but today, unfortunately, it applies both inside and outside of the church. When our love for what we want precludes our desire to please God, the church is in trouble. What are some of the selfish choices you have made lately when it comes to God and church? Perhaps you have failed to give to God a portion of your income, because you needed that little extra for a vacation, or a new boat. You are a lover of money. Perhaps you decided to sleep in a little longer on Sundays, because you “deserve a break today…” and you now have fallen into a habit of missing church and Christian fellowship. You are a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God. Perhaps you decided you would not forgive that person who hurt you so badly, ‘because they deserve my anger.’ You are unforgiving. Perhaps you have fallen into immorality by choosing to move in with a friend of the opposite sex, ‘to save a little money.’ You are lacking self control and are unholy. Perhaps you are angry at the pastor because in counsel, he told you the Biblical truth, but you were unwilling to face it and deal with it. You are headstrong and proud. Perhaps you go to church, go through all the motions, perhaps even teach a class or serve on the board, but you never let on to anyone that you have a powerless faith. You have a form of godliness, but deny the power.

The Key to Real Control
There is an answer to all the problems we face. First of all, it is putting Christ first place in your life. He must be Lord...the one in charge! Most of our ‘out of control’ issues begin when we put ourselves in charge, when we fail to yield and try to do things our own way instead. When we do things our way, we put our lives within reach of satan’s grasp and control. We reject God’s controls. Rejecting God’s ways is our mistake. Faith means trusting God in all areas of our lives….even when life seems out of control. God allows difficulties, not to harm us, but to teach us. Have you asked yourself lately, “What am I supposed to learn from this God?”
Once we put God in control of it all, then we must seek Him daily for guidance in every situation. We do this by reading His love letter to us, the Bible, and by spending time in prayer, talking to God and listening for Him speaking to us. His words to us will never contradict the Bible. Then it takes obedience….following the guidance… staying between the lines. This is where many fail. Rebellion sets in. We are a stubborn lot. We must have our own way. It’s one thing to listen, and another altogether to obey. But if we are to wear His ‘yoke’ we must go His way, or remove ourselves from the yoke to do our own thing. Then we pay the price with an ‘out of control’ world, and our ‘yoke’ becomes in partnership with satan, who puts on us a heavy load as we become his slaves. Our only hope is living with the ‘yoke’ where the burden is partnership with Jesus Christ.
The next part of the key is our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Every believer experiences the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For He is the One who convicted us of our sins in the first place. He continues to teach us and help us grow in God. He is an encourager, and we certainly do need lots of that! But there is even more for the believer. Order comes when the man or woman of God decides to yield control to the Holy Spirit. You have all of the Spirit….now He wants all of you. Yielding control means giving Him all! It means moment by moment giving Him the right to speak through us to others, the right to direct our footsteps. In turn, we reap a huge benefit. We are free from control—-for He is the One in control. The portfolio of a genuine Christian who has put the Holy Spirit in control of all areas of his life should reflect this list: “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ( 2 Peter 1:5-8) The ‘self control’ referred to in this verse is really a God-control that you have chosen by your own will and it results in spiritual fruitfulness.
If it is your home or marriage that is out of control, put Christ and the Holy Spirit in charge. Yield to Him. Give Him your spouse, your wayward teen, your violent temper, your mouth that speaks ungodly words. Repent of your past then start by speaking His Words. Encourage those around you with the kind of things Jesus Himself would say. Listen to your mouth. Are the words you speak pleasing to God? Encouraging to others? Helpful and life changing? Jesus words to the sinners He encountered were never condemning. “"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17) “' And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.'' (John 8:11) Let’s learn from His example.
There is an increasing number of people who love to control others. In reality the only one you can control is you. Jesus addresses the control freaks of the world when he said…. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7: 3-5) If the world around you seems out of control, if you find yourself bitter, critical, demanding and unhappy, there is a chance you might be a controller. The key for you is to yield control of your own life to the One who made you. Stop trying to change others and let God do it. Only He can change others.
If your life is out of control, then put yourself in the controlling hands of God. There is no better place. When you are in His hands, you will be ‘out-of-control’ but in a good way. He will help you with your finances and spending habits, your drug abuse issues, your emotions, your greed, your selfishness, your relationships, your sexual issues, and most of all, your daily spiritual walk. Like the author of the book by Lisa Bevere, I am “out of control….and loving it!”
J. Johnson