Sunday, May 29, 2011

Control Yourself

"Good morning!" Pastor Brad welcomed us with his usual warmth, then proceeded to note that this was the last of a series of messages addressing the fruit of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23. Today's message would be on self control.

1. Breakfast Roundtables are scheduled to begin next Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m.
2. Next week also the grads and youth will be acknowledged.
3. Brooke shared that VBS is but two weeks away. There will be a meeting for all the volunteers next Sunday at the Town Hall at 11:00 a.m. There are still a few needs, including volunteers to help with clean up and a few meals.

There was also a recognition of all who helped with Sunday school this past year.

Darlene played "Holy, Holy, Holy" to transition us into worship, which was led by Brad this morning. Leonard read from the Scriptures after the offering was taken, his passage today being John 14:23-29. After a time of prayer Brad entered into the message.

Control Yourself

Brad began the sermon with the story of a man who began drinking at 16, joined the army when his grades were dropping in school. Got kicked out of the army and spent ten years at home promising he would quit drinking, never holding down a job for long then being out of the home but continuing to show up at all family gatherings drunk and disruptive.

It's a painful story repeated all too often in many homes, leaving many parents, spouses and children with broken hearts and much sorrow. People with behaviors they can't control.

Brad pointed out that alcohol is not the only addiction that disrupts lives. Many people have problems with spending and addictive shopping, others with gambling, still others with eating, or pornography, anger issues. He also pointed out that the tongue itself can do enormous damage.

Paul himself acknowledges that he was not free from his own struggles. (Romans 7:14ff) It's an exasperating behavior pattern. Paul ends his lament by asking "Is there a power that can free us from this cycle?" Yes, there is, thanks be to God... by God's grace.

Pastor Brad proceeded to lay out three steps for getting back our lives.

1) Admit we are powerless and that our lives are out of control.

Too many people embrace denial on this matter. "Hey, I'm fine. I can stop any time I want."

Sometimes, unfortunately, the only antidote to denial and continued addiction is pain. Pain is God's megaphone to get our attention. A humiliating arrest, divorce, and other painful experiences can show us that we have hit an emotional, physical or psychological bottom.

In one of the Psalms King David lamented, "My dishonesty made me miserable and filled all my days with trouble."

Our need is to stop lying to ourselves. "God, I am absolutely powerless over my sin." Remember, powerless is not hopelessness. With God in the equation, there is always hope.

2) Surrender control of your life to the power greater than you.

Have you reached the point where you admit you can't do it on your own? Surrender control of your life to the power greater than you.

It's humbling to recognize one's powerlessness but this is the position where we learn how powerful God is. "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

The fruit of the spirit, including self control, is produced through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Surrender control of your life to God. Addictions destroy families.

Brad pointed out some additional practical facets of living a disciplined Christian life. First, after getting saved by God's power we need to remember that living the life requires God's power, too. Many Christians flip back into their former way of trying to live the life by sheer will power. In Galatians 3 Paul addresses this very issue.

"Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?" (The Message, Gal. 3:2-3)

3) Find a healthy environment/support network.

Life is hard and we are not supposed to go it alone. We all "need someone to lean on" as the song goes. God comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others.

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