Yesterday was the third week of our series called Pray exploring the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. The message yesterday was that we should be praying as servants of the King (you can listen to it here). Praying in this way includes praying for God’s will to be done in our lives. Yesterday I offered five things that it takes to pray this difficult prayer. Here they are:
“Lord you have heard my prayer. Yet, I know that you know better than me. I know that you know what is best for me. I know that you see all things and that you know all things. And I know that your plan is perfect. So let your will be done in my life.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
—1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. Yet, I know that you are King. I know that you desire that I obey and follow you even when it is difficult. And I know that I am not in control of my life; you are. So let your will be done in my life.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
—Luke 22:41-42 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. And I know that you ready and willing to answer my prayer. I know that your Word tells me your will. And I know that you promise to answer according to your will. So let your will be done in my life.”
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
—1 John 5:14 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. Yet, I know that with you a thousand years is like a day. I know that you will answer according to your perfect will and timing. I know that your answer will come as I wait and watch for it. So let your will be done in my life.”
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
—Colossians 4:2 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. And I know that you hear and are near to me. I know that you know what I need even before I ask you. And I know that your comfort gives me peace as I pray. So let your will be done in my life.”
…The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:5-7 (ESV)
“There is a special corner of hell reserved for religious wine drinkers.”
“It is a sin not to drink; you’re going against the freedom you have in Christ.”
Both of these statements are real. The first one is from a book (thankfully, I’ve forgotten the title) and the second from a friend of mine. And both statements show how Christians can hold two extremely different views concerning alcohol. In this past Sunday’s sermon on Ephesians 5:15-21 (you can listen here), I spent some time speaking on the issue of alcohol. Since the main point of the passage was walking in wisdom and not alcohol, I was brief. Yet, it is good for us as Christians to think biblically about such an issue and to do so carefully and humbly. In my sermon, I set forth three guiding principles that we should have toward alcohol:
1. Some Christians should never drink either because of their past, their conscience, or their devotion to God.
2. Some Christians can drink to the glory of God when doing so in moderation and with concern for others.
3. All Christians should be extremely cautious with the issue of alcohol.
Because of limited time, I couldn’t go too in depth with each principle. It is my goal over the next three post to unpack each one, provide a biblical basis for each principle, and give some practical suggestions. Let’s look now to the first principle:
Some Christians should never drink either because of their past, their conscience, or their devotion to God.
While the Bible does say that wine is a good gift that God has given to gladden the heart of man (Psalm 104:14-15), this doesn’t mean that everyone should drink. In fact there are some very good reason why some people should never let a drop of it touch their tongue.
First, someone who has struggled with a past of drunkenness should never drink alcohol. The Bible has some very harsh things to say about drunkenness. Drunkards have no place in God’s Kingdom (1 Cor 6:10). Drunkards have no place in the church (1 Cor 5:11). God’s curse is upon drunkards (Isa 5:11). God is clearly not pleased with someone who is habitually drunk. Now there is more than enough grace in Christ to forgive a drunk. But those of us who have been saved by Jesus should seek to put away absolutely everything in our life that doesn’t please God – including drunkenness. If you have struggled in the past with getting drunk – even if it was last weekend – then you should never drink. Why would you want to keep doing something that will more than likely lead you fall into something that God hates? Would you encourage an unmarried couple who is struggling with sexual immorality to continue laying with each other on the couch in the dark at 2 in morning? No. Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off,” (Mark 9:43). For some Christians the best thing they could do for their souls is to cut alcohol completely out of their lives. If you have a past of falling into drunkenness, then you should serve your soul and never drink.
Second, another reason why some Christians should never drink is their own consciences. One of the reasons why this issue is so difficult and touchy is that it falls under the category of conscience in the Bible. The Bible has no ultimate command to abstain from drinking. There is also no command to drink. In fact Paul would say that in issue like this, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind,” (Rom 14:5). And some people are fully convinced that it would be a sin against God for them to drink alcohol. If this is where your conscience is set, then you should never drink. You should never let anyone pressure you into doing it. You should never do it to fit in socially. You should never feel ashamed to tell someone you don’t drink. If in you heart and mind drinking alcohol is disobedience to God, then you should never violate you conscience.
Third, another reason why some Christians should never drink is out of devotion to God. The fact that God gives us good gifts to enjoy is clear in the Bible. Yet, the Bible also points us to people who give up these gifts for their devotion to God. Paul gave up marriage to be devoted to the Lord and his mission (1 Cor 7:6-7). When we fast, we give up food for a time of prayer to grow in our devotion to God (Matt 6:18). Giving up alcohol out of a desire to be more devoted is a good thing. Part of the Nazarite vow in Numbers 6, was abstaining from alcohol (Num 6:2). John the Baptist had taken this vow to be devoted to God and God’s purpose for his life (Luke 1:15). If abstaining is something that you believe will help your devotion to the Lord, then by all means abstain. Don’t let someone convince you that you’re being unreasonable. Don’t let someone convince you that your being legalistic. Don’t let someone convince you that your missing out. No one who gives up anything to gain more of God is missing out.
This past Sunday at Christ Fellowship I preached on Ephesians 5:15-21 (you can listen here). In verse 18, Paul commands us not get drunk, but to be filled with the Spirit. Drunkenness is a huge issue for many, especially college students. I know that this issue probably hits home either to you or someone close to you.
Kevin DeYoung, who is a pastor and writer, wrote a wonderful article back in August at the beginning of the school year. He looks at the dangers of drinking and offers five responses that we as Christian should have toward alcohol. This is a very good treatment of the subject. Here is a snippet:
“On the former, students thinking of alcohol as “liquid courage.” It makes them more fun, more adventurous, less tied to inhibitions. On the latter, drinking is seen as a convenient way of avoiding personal responsibility. The sober girl who hooks up with a complete stranger might be considered a slut. But if she’s drunk, then it’s not really a mark on her character; she just had a few too many. Likewise, many students feel justified if they miss class or perform poorly because of a hangover. No matter what people tell them about the possible dangers of drinking, getting drunk, for many college students, is the best way to have fun. And whatever negative consequences may come, these are thought to reflect on the alcohol not on the individual.”
I strongly encourage you to read it. You can read it here. I am also going to be posting some articles here this week on the topic of alcohol to help us think and act biblically concerning this issue. Please take advantage of these articles. Read them thought fully and carefully. Let them be a blessing to you or someone you know.
Should I get married to Mrs. Soandso? Should buy a new car? Would it be wise if I went into debt to go to college? It’s almost daily that a question pops into our mind and we want to know what God thinks about my dilemma.
First of all, it’s a great thing to have a desire to please God in our daily lives. And asking these questions reveals a heart that wants to please Him. However, we need to see that sometimes we are making the decision to complicated when it doesn’t have to be.
This week, Tim Challies has written a series of blogs about knowing God’s will. Read all of the posts in order below since each post builds upon the other. And then experience joy and freedom from living God’s will.
John Piper was asked at a recent conference “How can a young worker glorify God at work?” This is a great question for people to be asking. Especially, since EVERYTHING was created for the glory of God. That means your work was supposed to put the glory of God on display. Here was his answer at the conference:
Dependence. Go to work utterly dependent on God (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 15:5). Without him you can’t breathe, move, think, feel, or talk. Not to mention be spiritually influential. Get up in the morning and let God know your desperation for him. Pray for help.
Integrity. Be absolutely and meticulously honest and trustworthy on the job. Be on time. Give a full day’s work. “Thou shalt not steal.” More people rob their employers by being slackers than by filching the petty cash.
Skill. Get good at what you do. God has given you not only the grace of integrity but the gift of skills. Treasure that gift and be a good steward of those skills. This growth in skill is built on dependence and integrity.
Corporate shaping. As you have influence and opportunity, shape the ethos of the workplace so that the structures and policies and expectations and aims move toward accordance with Christ. For example, someone is shaping the ethos of Chick-fil-A restaurants with this video.
Impact. Aim to help your company have an impact that is life-enhancing without being soul-destroying. Some industries have an impact that is destructive (e.g., porn, gambling, abortion, marketing scams, etc). But many can be helped to turn toward impact that is life-giving without being soul-ruining. As you have opportunity, work toward that.
Communication. Work places are webs of relationships. Relationships are possible through communication. Weave your Christian worldview into the normal communications of life. Don’t hide your light under a basket. Put it on the stand. Winsomely. Naturally. Joyfully. Let those who love their salvation say continually, Great is the Lord! (Psalm 40:16)
Love. Serve others. Be the one who volunteers first to go get the pizza. To drive the van. To organize the picnic. Take an interest in others at work. Be known as the one who cares not just about the light-hearted weekend tales, but the burdens of heavy and painful Monday mornings. Love your workmates, and point them to the great Burden Bearer.
Money. Work is where you make (and spend) money. It is all God’s, not yours. You are a trustee. Turn your earning into the overflow of generosity in how you steward God’s money. Don’t work to earn to have. Work to earn to have to give and to invest in Christ-exalting ventures. Make your money speak of Christ as your supreme Treasure.
Thanks. Always give thanks to God for life and health and work and Jesus. Be a thankful person at work. Don’t be among the complainers. Let your thankfulness to God overflow in a humble spirit of gratitude to others. Be known as the hope-filled, humble, thankful one at work.
If you are like me, than you probably wish that all of life’s answers were straight forward.
Like me, you probably spend many long nights asking questions like: Which city should I move to? How should I spend my summer break ? Why should I take this job or that job? Would watching this show or that movie be good for me? Would doing this activity be ok?
Let’s be honest. A lot of our life is spent in the grey areas. And the choices that we make are often not about what is good or bad, but about what is good or best. So how do we seek to glorify God when we are paralyzed in the grey.
The blog at Crossway Books (probably my favorite Christian publisher) gives us great assistance to our grey areas. Here are some questions they give you to ask yourself:
Will it be spiritually profitable? We don’t want to look at our lives with the attitude of “I can do this and get away with it.” We want the perspective of life that asks, “Can I do this and have it increase my godliness?”
Will it slow me down in the race? If we are running to win the prize, then we have to ask ourselves, “Will this action slow me down?” Even if it isn’t sin, is it just needless bulk, something that weighs us down, diverts our priorities, takes our attention, sucks our energy, and dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God?
Will it bring me into bondage? There are many things that can enslave us that come from creation, which God designed to be ruled by us. How many people let their lives be totally run by a television, which is a bunch of wires connected to a box that man invented?
Will it hypocritically cover my sin? The guy who says, “God made horses, I’m free to go to Santa Anita Race Track. I just go out there and enjoy God’s creation.” Yet all day long he’s dropping money gambling. This is a cloak of liberty put over the top of an evil intent, which is to gamble.
Will it help other Christians by its example? Even little things in our lives: the discipline of our lives, the fact we watch our diet, or we set aside a certain time to study says volumes to people who are checking in for patterns to follow.
Will it be consistent with Christ’s likeness? Much of the time we know Jesus wouldn’t have said what we just said, or Jesus wouldn’t have done what we just did. Asking ourselves that before we do or say something and not after, prevents us doing things we regret. Would Jesus do it?
“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.”
God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are;
nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are;
nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are;
nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers;
but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are.