The theme of the 2017 meeting of the Baptist Bible Fellowship is MOVE. On Tuesday morning we heard two great messages about when movement stops. Two reasons movement stops is sin and discouragement. These were great insights into why God’s work stalls in our life and in church.
Dan Sala, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee challenged us with one of the impediments to a spiritual move – SIN.
In Joshua 1, God challenged His new leader, Joshua, to be strong, courageous and fearless. Joshua would move the Israelites forward. They conquered the fortified city of Jericho yet suffered defeat in Ai. In Joshua 7, the Joshua fell before God to find out why the movement stopped. Maybe he should have asked before Ai, but at least he asked. God revealed that defeat was the result of sin. One of the soldiers took what was forbidden.
The one thing we should fear is that God is not with us. We might fear what people think. We might fear what might happen in the future. We might fear that people don’t like what we’re doing. We might fear that we will fail. But the greatest fear we should have is that sin will interrupt God’s work in our life.
Sometimes movement stops because of sin. It’s not always a moral failure. Sometimes the sin is pride and arrogance.
So what can we learn about sin, God, and movement?
- Sin, no matter how good you try to hide it, is never concealed from yourself or God.
- Sin will always have collateral damage.
- Sin must always be dealt with. If we don’t, God will.
Jerry Thorpe, pastor emeritus of Crossroads Fellowship (formerly Temple Baptist) of Odessa, Texas. Jerry has always been one, if not my favorite preacher in the BBFI. He is 80 years old. His message was “The Other Side of the Mountain.”
In 1 Kings 19:1-5, Jezebel threatens Elijah with death. So, he runs from her. But 1 Kings 18, Elijah has a literal mountain top experience (Mt. Carmel) as he calls fire down from heaven and destroys pagan worship. But after the mountain he was ready to quit and asked God to kill him. He was on the ‘other side of the mountain.’
When we are on our ‘Mt. Carmel’ experience, God’s plan makes sense and we are sure of God’s call, and the future is bright. But on the other side of our mountain we can feel alone, mixed up, hurt, and ready to quit.
In spite of Mt. Carmel, nothing changed. Mountain top experiences don’t change the people or the circumstances. We have to get back to the nitty gritty of living life.
If you are truly following God you will have your mountain-top experiences where everything makes sense. But you will also have other times where nothing makes sense. You may even have your own ‘local’ Ahab and Jezebel who are out to destroy you.
We often let the bad times dictate all the time. When 90% of our life is going good, but only 10% isn’t so good, why let the minority rule the majority. Whether marriage, family, church, job, or even life, concentrate on all the good that God is doing in your life. Don’t quit over the 10%.
Moses got discouraged on the other side of his Mt. Sinai. He came down and found the people naked, dancing and worshiping a golden calf. He had it rough and no where else to candidate.
The three disciples hit trouble when they came down on the other side of Mt. of Transfiguration. After they saw glorified Jesus, they met a dad who had a demon-possessed son and no one could help him.
What did God give Elijah to encourage him on the other side of the mountain?
1 – God gave Elijah rest (1 Kings 19:5-8). God gave him food and let him rest awhile. when you get exhausted (physically, emotionally, spiritually) you don’t think straight and you over-emphasize your problems.
2 – God gave Elijah His ear – He listened (1 Kings 19:9-10). God is a God who listens to you. Talk to him about your troubles.
3 – He gave Elijah a fresh view of Himself (1 Kings 19:11). God brought the wind, an earthquake, and fire. All these caused fear. But when God spoke in a small, quiet voice he came out of his cave. Listen to God’s Word and allow it to gently lead you to a better place.
4 – God gave Elijah a plan (1 Kings 19:15-18). God told him to anoint Hazael and Jehu as king and appoint Elisha as a replacement. God also let him know that there were 7,000 other prophets who out there.
5 – God gave Elijah a new friend (1 Kings 19:19-21). Elisha stuck with Elijah, even to the end. You need a friend who will walk with you and encourage you.
Stay with it. Even though we may feel like quitting, remember many of the others in the Bible continued through great stress to finish their ministry: Moses, Paul, Elijah, and Jesus.
You can read more about the 2017 BBFI meeting at BBFI in Tyler, TX 2017.