ResponsesSeries: Upside Down. James Dewhurst March 22, 2020
Good morning wonderful people and welcome to Real! If you are visiting our Real Church YouTube channel, we want to welcome you! Welcome R.C. watching online!
Today, I want to talk to us about living right now with Upside/Down – Responses!
Before I even began preparing the sermon for today, I began receiving messages and calls from precious people in our Real Church family, who were already facing tough realities from the restrictions of this virus. One of our church leaders, before they even got home from helping us broadcast church last Sunday, was notified that his wife was being laid off. Another self-employed father called to ask for some assurance, as he is struggling to calm his family and worried about paying for his new baby. A wife also reached out and asked for prayer because her husband, who works in the airline industry, has been asked to voluntarily go on unpaid leave. These are tough stories!
Circumstances can quickly grow to the point where we feel like our lives are spinning out of control. Why? Because so much of what happens around us and to us shape the way we think, feel, act, and respond. The life around us affects the world within us!
The truth is, life moves in cycles. It has ups and downs, peaks and valleys, triumphs and tragedies, victories and defeats. When life swings from one extreme to the other, as the stock market has done in the past week, we can all find ourselves in shock.
The good news is, God has given us all a gift to help us overcome and rise above the changing circumstances of life – That gift is called faith!
1 John 5:4
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (ESV)
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (ESV)
*Faith allows us to have upside/down responses to life’s unexpected challenges!*
A.W. Tozer – “While it looks like things are out of control, behind the scenes there is a God who has not surrendered his authority.”
In the Old Testament, there are over 100 different names for God! The more the Jewish people got to know God and watch him work, the more names they gave him. These names are literal testimonies of the different miracles that God did in their lives:
> In Genesis 22:13-14, They named God Jehovah Jireh – The Lord our Provider!
> In Exodus 15:26, They named God Jehovah Rapha – The Lord our Healer!
> In Judges 6:24, God was named Jehovah Shalom – The Lord Our Peace!
> In Exodus 48:35, They called him Jehovah Shammah – The Lord whose Present!
> In Exodus 17:15, God was named Jehovah Nissi – The Lord our Victory!
> In Psalm 23:1, They called him Jehovah Raah – The Lord our Shepherd!
***They gave God a name every time he brought them through something!***
I’m already working on a name, Jehovah Corona – The Lord who ended the Virus!
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (ESV)
A wise person said – “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where the power is!”
25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. (ESV)
Elizabeth Elliot – “Fear arises when we’re convinced everything relies on us.”
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (ESV)
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (ESV)
2 Corinthians 10:4
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (ESV)
(Faith is our invisible weapon to defeat this invisible enemy!)
The truth is, a crisis like this, more than anything else, brings out what’s in us. Paul, who faced more crisis than any all New Testament apostles combined said something incredibly inspiring in 2 Corinthians 7:4 “in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.”
What was the secret to Paul’s perpetual joy? His joy wasn’t based on his position, his fortune, or his possessions, but rather on his relationship with Jesus Christ.
When Jesus is our joy, we can truly do all things through Christ who gives us strength!
Faith allows us to handle all things, transcend all things, overcome all things, and rise above all things.
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)
John F. Kennedy – “Great crisis produce great men and great deeds of courage!”
Over this past week, I’ve been blown away as I’ve watched people of faith come tougher and start delivering food to the needy, record worship songs and post them online and offer endless scriptures, sermons, and messages of encouragement!
There are four defeatist attitudes we must guard against when life is down:
-Worry is not going to get you anywhere!
-Self-blame is not going to get you anywhere!
-Hopelessness is not going to get you anywhere!
Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow!
13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. (ESV)
Abraham, who lived about 2,000 years before Jesus, took his miracle son Isaac up on Mount Moriah, the same mountain Jesus later died on. Abraham was preparing to make a sacrifice to the Lord. And his son said, dad, we have the wood for the sacrifice and the fire for the sacrifice, but where’s the lamb? Abraham told his son in the faith, God will provide himself! That’s exactly what you are all asking today. Wheres the provision? Where’s the job? Where’s healing? Where’s the vaccine? God will provide!!!
Miraculously, When they finished climbing that mountain and got to the top, God had a ram caught in the thicket and they took the ram, made an offering, they shared a meal and in Genesis 22:14 Abraham said, “on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
This is where Abraham gave God the name – Jehovah Jireh (The Lord our provider!)
I want to challenge us today with 3 Upside/Down responses to this crisis:
Abraham Lincoln – “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses!” (We either count our blessings or our problems!)
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Paul said in: Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Psalm 103:2-3 “Praise the Lord, Oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Romans 12:13 “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
(God pours into our lives to create a cycle of blessing into the lives of others!)
Fear hoards but faith releases! (While the world hoards out of fear, let’s give in faith!)
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
(God is inviting our world to turn their hearts back to him!)
> God is drawing Christians closer to him! (Use this time to read, pray and grow!)
> God is drawing families closer to each other! (Use this time to love on your family!)
> God is drawing the world back to their Savior! (Use this platform to preach Jesus!)
Every difficulty leads to an opportunity – In the town square of Enterprise, Alabama stands a statue in honor of a cotton eating pest known as the Bool-Weevil. The six-legged Mexican savior crossed into Alabama in 1910 and proceeded to destroy over 60% of the cotton crop of Enterprise. Southern farmers were completely dependent on cotton until this cotton eater forced them to change. A little known inventor named George Washington Carver encouraged them to try peanuts. By 1917, Enterprise exploded economically and was growing the largest peanut crop in the nation. Today, this little corner of Alabama is among the most prosperous towns in the entire state.
What opportunity is this obstacle creating?