For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God’s power. NLT 1 Corinthians 4:20
How do you live with God’s power?
Every God-begotten person conquers the world’s ways. The power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God. MSG 1 John 5:4-5
Scripture tells us, we live in God’s power through faith. Practically, that means, we wake up every day and believe what scripture says. Scripture tells us that when we believe Jesus is the Son of God, God gives us His strength, His power. To be specific, that means, God gave us His grace [Galatians 3:3]. God gave us the righteousness of Jesus [2 Corinthians 5:21]. God gave us the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:14]. That makes you a spiritual Superman or spiritual Superwoman.
How do we get God’s strength or power?
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. NIV Isaiah 40:28-31
See verse 31? …but those who hope in the Lord… that word hope also means, wait on the Lord or trust in the Lord or spend time with God. In other words, faith.
See the next part in verse 31? …will renew their strength… that word strength also means, force, might or power.
People who slow down, spend time with God in prayer, reading, resting, etc. will receive God’s strength and power to walk through life.
A couple of points that I want to bring out. First, only God can put God in you. Only God can give you grace to spiritually refresh your soul. Only God can give you the righteousness of Jesus. Only God can give you the Holy Spirit. I need to point out, that also means, nothing of this world can give you God’s strength or power.
Secondly, when we spend time with God, He gives us His strength and power. That is why it’s important to be with God. Scripture calls it, ‘…the unforced rhythms of grace’ [Matthew 11:29 MSG]. Prayer. Reading. Church. Resting. Etc. I need to point out, that also means, nothing in this world can give you God’s strength or power.
Third, everything this world has to offer you is a distraction. And, everything in this world will feel like it’s right and good at first, but the things of this world will always leave you feeling spiritually empty. It’s like eating a Twinkie when you need a healthy meal. Practically for today, the things of this world would mean, things like excessive social media and games. They will always leave you spiritually empty.
That’s why scripture says,
5 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. 17 The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. MSG 1 John 2:15-17
Real quickly before we move on. Let’s talk about how this impacts our lives. What if I am a teenager and I am struggling with depression? Feeling lonely? Feeling rejected? Feeling confused? Tired? Unmotivated? Let’s review. Only God can put God in you. To get God you need to spend time with God. Understand, everything of this world will seem like it’s right and good, but it’s a distraction.
Question 1: What are you watching and listening to? From movies, music, social media and games. What are you putting into your mind and heart? If you are putting hours of horror movies/music or violent movies/music into your mind, it will always leave you spiritually empty. If you are putting hours of social media into your mind, it will always leave you spiritually empty. If you are putting hours of gaming into your mind, it will always leave you spiritually empty.
Question 2: Who are your friends? Are your friends pulling you away from God or pulling you towards God? What do your parents think about your friends? When no one is around, do your friends try to get you to break the rules behind your parent’s back? Understand, a real friend is someone who believes in you, tells you the truth and would never ask you to break the rules. Wrong friends will always leave you feeling spiritually empty.
Question 3: Do you give God time to put God in you? Do you spend time praying? Reading scripture? Journaling? Do you go and attend the Christian groups in school? Time with God means, God puts God in you. You experience His grace, His righteousness, His Holy Spirit. Time with God can break every negative emotion you have and give you freedom.
Today I wanted to start with this scripture.
21 What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. 22 They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. 23 They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.
24 So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. 25 And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them – the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes! MSG Romans 1:21-25
Let’s talk about this section by section.
vs 21 People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him…
When we fail to put God in first place in our lives, that means wait on Him or spend time with Him, we fail to worship God. When we don’t worship God, we don’t give God the time to share His strength with us. We miss out on God giving us His grace, righteousness and the Holy Spirit. What happens? Let’s keep reading.
21-22 …they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.
Did you see that? When God isn’t first place in our lives, something changes in our minds. In the Living Bible Translation is says, ‘…their foolish minds became dark and confused.’ When God is no longer spiritually refreshing us, our minds become dark and confused. We begin to feel lost in life. How many people do you know feel lost in life?
It’s gets worse. To cover up our dark, confused minds and the fact that we feel lost, people pretend they know it all. Isn’t this the world you live in? What happens? Let’s keep reading.
23, 25 They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand… they traded the true God for a fake god.
Ultimately, when our minds are dark, confused and we feel lost, we turn to the idols of this world. Idols for us today means, I will take control and live how I want. A couple weeks ago we talked about idol 1: our affections. The things we turn to that temporarily to make us feel better. Last week Sam taught about idol 2: stubbornness. Sam shared what God told King Saul.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king. NKJV 1 Samuel 15:23
Today I want to talk about idol 3: Entitlement. Entitlement means, I have an empty part in my heart and to fill it, I expect others to give me whatever I want while I do whatever I want. I could expect praise, even if I don’t deserve it. I could expect a high paying job, even if I don’t deserve it. It could expect fame for doing nothing. And, I expect to be able to do anything with no accountability. If you try to hold me accountable, and if I feel bad, you are wrong.
Scripture talks about this.
10 Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” 11 And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. 12 This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately – no excuses, no arguments – and earn their own keep. 13 Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty. MSG 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13
Here are a couple traits to being entitled.
First, an entitled person puts themselves in the center of life. You see this with the explosion of selfies. They have a very fragile self-image and they are constantly needing positive feedback. Because of this, they struggle to understand how others are feeling around them. They struggle to see how what they do impacts everyone around them. They live in their own world expecting others to serve them. To those around them, they come across as exhausting because everyone around them must cater to them. To those around them, it can feel disrespectful, and what is amazing, the entitled person never sees it.
Because they put themselves in the center of life, they may even struggle to see God being central to their life and surrendering their life to God to serve Him.
Secondly, an entitled person decides what is right and wrong based on their feelings. Because of this, it’s hard for them to hear truth and apply it. It’s hard for them to hear any negative feedback even if it would help them. Negative feedback means you don’t respect them.
When it comes to God, they don’t believe God is the source of all truth. They put themselves in the role of God and based on their feelings, they will mix and match and create their own truth.
Being a parent or leader of an entitled person is a challenge. You will discover that feelings are more important than truth and you will struggle to help them see things that will help them. And in your discussions, you will notice they have a fragile self-image.
Third, an entitled person doesn’t like work, challenges or accountability. Because of this, they don’t want to try new things because they are afraid that they will fail. They miss out on one of the best ways to feel good about their accomplishment. When we fully jump into life and face challenges, that is when you learn about yourself, others and life. But, if you avoid engaging life, you avoid accomplishment. That means you miss out on that good feeling that says, ‘I earned this.’
Fourth, an entitled person lives by a double standard. They are comfortable inconveniencing others. They don’t even think twice about it. But, be inconvenient to them, and they get upset because it’s work to be convenient to others.
Lastly, the entitled person tends to be miserable. You would think they would be thrilled because they demand everyone serve them. Truth is, they never feel fulfilled. What you do for them is never enough. Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered why. Entitled people create self-centered or self-image goals. They want people to respect and admire them. These goals lead to frustration because they are always working on your self-image. By contrast, non-entitled people create others centered goals. They want to serve others, help others get ahead, make a difference. Others centered goals bring fulfillment.
What does all this mean? When we take our eyes off of God, we can exchange the glory of God to take control and live the way I want. Being entitled feels tempting. Being God and expecting others to give us whatever we want while we do whatever we want sounds tempting. But this idol of entitlement creates enormous damage. Damage in your relationship with God. Damage in your relationship with others around you. How do you break away from this idol?
We command them to get to work immediately – no excuses, no arguments – and earn their own keep.
The center of the universe is God, not us. We find our purpose in God, not in expecting others to give us whatever we want while we do whatever we want. To break the power of this idol, we must work hard and serve hard.
We work hard because only in working do we see our value. People to try to get out of work take a short cut and think they are beating the system. Truth is, they are only cheating themselves. When you work hard, you see your value. You learn and grow. Years later, you have something to give to others like wisdom.
We serve hard because only in serving do you learn things like empathy, humility and purpose. The greater things in life, the things that change our hearts forever are discovered when we serve. People who don’t serve can struggle to see live from how other see live.
In the process of working hard and serving hard it destroys our self-focus.