PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Scripture: Jude 1:17-23 06 September 2020
Is life ever stressful? Do we ever experience problems and pain in life? I say, when don’t we? All of us are faced with problems. In order to overcome those problems, we must have a right spiritual focus.
A violinist was told by a surgeon that he needed an operation "But, doctor," said the violinist, "I have concerts booked ahead. If you operate, can I be assured that I’ll be able to play the violin in two weeks’?" "Absolutely," said the surgeon, "the last patient on whom I performed this operation was playing a harp within 24 hours."
A lady said to a friend one day, "I spend 40 percent of our income on food, 30 percent for housing, 30 percent for clothing, and 20 percent for transportation and incidentals." The friend replied, "But that makes 120 percent." With resignation in her voice, the lady said, "DON’T I KNOW IT!"
Is life ever stressful or stress-filled? You can be sure each of us will experience stress. And the cause of the stress will come from a variety of sources: health problems, children, the possibility of death on the horizon, financial difficulties, etc.
Marshall Hayden, a Christian Church preacher from Columbus, Ohio, wrote an article several years ago which he titled: "Would every non-hurting member please stand up?" His point was that often we come together as the Body of Christ for worship wearing our best smile. But behind the smile many are people who are hurting.
There may be a family whose monthly income is $500. But the bills total $1000.
There may be a husband and wife who are dealing with a child who has lost their way; living outside of Christ.
There may be a lady who, just a few days ago, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
There may be a married couple who had a fight last night – again. They are contemplating divorce.
A man who just learned that the company he works for is laying off part of the workforce – and he is one of those.
There is the wife who tries to cover the bruises her abusive inflicted on her.
Brother Hayden went on to write, "there are the lonely, the dying, the bankrupt, the exhausted, and others who are at the mercy of forces beyond their control. They’re all there. And there are those of us with lesser hurts, but they don’t seem like small hurts to us: tired from being overweight and run to death, tired of an income that barely covers the essentials, tired of an indifferent and disinterested spouse, a boring job, poor grades, a friend who is not much of a friend anymore, parents who don’t understand and don’t seem to care."
Brother Hayden wrote, "You can travel down every pew in every church and find some hurting people." Isn’t that the truth?
Life is stressful and often over-filled. We do suffer from pain and problems. I don’t think anyone enjoys a life like that. But what can we do about these things?
As believers in Jesus Christ as Lord, we know that the Lord is the only one who can make things right when things go wrong! He alone can lift us out of the pit of sin and into the choir rejoicing in spite of our circumstances!
So, let’s look this morning at a passage in the letter written by Jude.
This text in Jude offers some insight to overcoming our pain and problems in life. We must get our spiritual eyesight tuned up or focused in the right direction. We must have:
1- A Biblical focus 2- An inward focus
I. We must have a Biblical Focus.
V. 17 "Remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold."
Someone said there are three stages in a man’s life:
1- My daddy can whip your daddy.
2- Ah, Dad, you don’t know anything.
3- My father used to say.
When we get to certain age in life we realize that our fathers and our mothers knew quite a bit and gave us a lot of good advice.
Or it may be that we remember someone else who made a great impact in our lives: a school teacher, a Sunday school teacher, a youth group sponsor, etc.
We all have been helped and blessed by the words of others! Be thankful for those special people and helpful words. But there is one place in life where we all can receive help to overcome life’s problems.
"Remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold." In other words, remember the Word of God!
II Tim. 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
The word of God can thoroughly equip you for life! The Word of God can help you in every situation of life - If you will let it!
Several preachers were discussing something in the Bible. One said, "Well, that’s what the Bible says but that’s not what the Bible means." A little six-year-old girl happened to hear the conversation and said, "Sir, if Jesus and His apostles didn’t know what they wanted to say how did you find out?"
We need to be careful that we do not take away from the Bible, nor read into it what is not there when we read into the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God and most of the time it doesn’t need to be interpreted. But it does need to be practiced. It needs to be followed and obeyed,
Anytime we are faced with any problem in life we need to remember and know that we can go to the Bible and consider what it says. And then put it into practice. That’s the only safe way to live this life! And that’s the only peace-filled way to live!
Heb. 4:12 "For the Word of God is living and active..."
The Living Bible paraphrases that verse this way: "For whatever God says to us is full of living power..."
The Bible is not a dead book. Its principles are neither dead nor outdated. And it is very much alive with the power of the living God!
Ps. 119:9 "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word."
Ps. 119:28 "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word."
If we want to overcome the forces of evil in this life and overcome pain and problems, we must always focus on the Word of God.
There is power in the Word! And if we want to be overcomers in life we must stick to the Word! We must continue reading and studying the Word! The word of all Words! The book of all Books!
Our focus must be on the positive and the powerful, not the pain and problems of this life. We must have a Biblical focus in life in order to overcome.
II. And then we must have an inward focus.
V. 20 "But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith...."
What is it that you really want in life? A new car with every gadget imaginable on it? A new house fit for a king? A new this? A new that?
All of us have gone through that wanting stage in life. But seriously, haven’t we found that things are just things? And that they are not lasting at all? Most everything that money can buy will eventually wear out, rot, or be used up. Things are not really what give us true meaning and purpose to our lives.
And if it is not things that we want in life it is something that we want to do. We want to go do this or that or see this or that or experience this or that.
What is it that you’ve always wanted to do? Or where is it that you have always wanted to visit?
But Jude said, "Build yourselves up in your most holy faith..." – Vs. 20
The only thing that is truly lasting and brings any lasting joy into our lives is our faith in Jesus Christ.
Jude is saying that we must have an inward focus. That is, we must focus on building our faith instead of chasing after gold at the end of the rainbow, which isn’t there.
Let me be clear here, this does not mean that because we are Christians that we cannot enjoy life. Sure, go ahead and enjoy life the best you can: go to ball games, take vacations, enjoy your hobbies and special interests. Just be sure to remember to focus on your faith most of all – building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.
Two days ago Sandy and I observed the 56th anniversary of our marriage. When we chose to get married 56 years ago, we promised to help each other and to be totally committed and devoted to each other, through the good and bad times, in sickness and in health.
And I am saying that if we want to be overcomers in life, in the sense of overcoming our pain and problems, we must stay focused on a person....THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST!
Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
We live by faith. We live by staying focused on Christ who loves us and gave Himself for us.
Colossians 3:2-3 "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." In other words, STAY FOCUSED ON CHRIST!
And, again, Jude said, "Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." Jude is saying that we should stay focused on our faith in Christ in life! We must work at building ourselves in the faith!
People have their favorites as far as preachers are concerned. Many look to those in the public eye for strength. And we may receive a big boost in our faith from these Christian preachers. But, it is still up to us to build ourselves in the faith of Christ! We have to read the Word of God for ourselves. We have to do our own praying, serving and surrendering.
We must feed ourselves. Of course I am not saying that we don’t need one another or the church. We do, always. But we spend most of our time away from one another and the church fellowship and because of this we need to learn to feed ourselves and build ourselves in the faith of Christ!
That means personal study, reading, private prayer times and perhaps evening writing in a spiritual diary, which some people do. And this is a very good spiritual growth practice.
If you want to be victorious in the Christian life; If you want to be able to overcome obstacles in life, then you must learn to do your homework; It’s as simple as this:
No homework and no training results in no strength, no victory, and no peace.
We all, I think, want to experience victory, and avoid defeat, pain, and trouble in life.
To overcome the trials of this life, we must be focused:
1- Biblically spending time in the Word 2- Inwardly, on our faith in Christ
Any direction in life that leads away from Christ is the wrong direction! And any direction that leads us to a more personal relationship to Christ is the right direction!
It is only by focusing on Christ that we will be able to survive in this life and overcome the pain and problems of life.
If you haven’t put your focus on Christ then do so beginning right now.