Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cycles- Part 2

This week at WNW we continued the "Cycles" series.  We began the night with a worship set that included "This Is Amazing Grace" (Phil Wickham), "My Heart Is Yours" (Kristian Stanfill", and "Cornerstone" (Hillsong).  I began the message with a quick review of the previous week and a reminder that the book of Judges ends with an exclamation mark on how each cycle took the Israelites further away from God.  The question we examined this week and will again next week is "Why do we return to cycles of sin similar to the Israelites?"  There are several answers but we looked at one reason this week which is LIES.  Often when people ask us how we are doing we respond with the lie "I'm Ok" when inside we know it is far from the truth.  However, in thinking about returning to cycles of sin, I believe we convince ourselves of the lie that we're ok.  Self-deception is the most dangerous type of deception.  

When we look at the first cycle the Israelites go through in Judges 3:1-12 we see that it is as a result of some disobedience.  In order to fully understand we went back to Numbers 33:50-52 where God tells Moses instructions for the Israelites.  They were to enter into Canaan, and they were to drive out all the inhabitants.  This wasn't because God hated these people, but he knew that if the Israelites did not drive out all of the inhabitants that their idolatry would influence the Israelites.  He gave the commandment to enter Canaan and to drive out the inhabitants, but we read in Judges 1:27-34 that they did not do exactly what God commanded.  They entered the land, but they did not drive out all of the inhabitants.  This led them to be tested by God, and they failed the test which began a cycle of sin in the history of Israel.  When we examine our lives and we say to ourselves the lie "I'm Ok" we are much like the Israelites.  When we say "I'm Ok" we say that in some ways we were obedient but other ways we were not.  We begin to become content with a life of "Partial Obedience" which is truly "Disobedience."  This is why the Israelites cycled back to a life of sin, and it is the same reason we often do ourselves.  We closed by praying and examining our hearts to see if this is the pattern we are currently following.  I challenged the students that if they want to see spiritual growth occur in their lives that they must be willing to make a change.  They must decide to stop being ok a life of partial obedience.

Cycles- Part 1

I'm a week late in posting this but we began a new series on WNW January 14 called "Cycles" based on the book of Judges.  We opened the night with a worship set that included "Good To Be Alive" (Jason Gray), "Forever Reign" (Hillsong), and "The Lord Our God" (Kristian Stanfill).

I began the night asking the following question "If in 2015 you repeated your life from 2014, how would it turn out?"  It was interesting to hear the moanful reaction from some of the students because they knew the answer.  The truth is that no matter how good or bad 2014 was, if we repeat it then we are not growing in Christ.  We looked at the final verse in the book of Judges that concludes with the fact that the Israelites were living life completely for themselves.  How did they get to this sad stage in history?  It certainly did not happen overnight but over a period of time.  In fact the Israelites continued a cyclical lifestyle that each time took them further away from God.  The seven cycles in the book of Judges went like this:

-> Unfaithfulness to God -> Divine Discipline -> Crying Out/Repentance -> Deliverance Through Judges -> Peace ->

We read the first of these 7 cycles in Judges 3:1-12.  I then asked the opening question again:  "If in 2015 you repeated your life from 2014, how would it turn out?"  The truth is that it would turn out to be detrimental.  If your life is already out of control and you are living in sin then you will obviously continue down a road that leads you further away from God.  But what if you did have a pretty good year?  It would still be harmful.  We can never get to the point where we believe we have "arrived" in our Christian growth.  We should continually seek to grow closer to God.  We cannot look at the past and think that we have done good enough in our lives and stop.  We cannot live today on yesterday's accomplishments.  We closed with a time of prayer for students to commit this year to be a year of growth in the Lord.