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When there is Something Wrong
2 Timothy 3:1-5
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Fred Sampson talks about the years that he was living in Louisville, Ky. He was a nature lover and enjoyed looking at the trees and flowers along the road. Just across the street from him a neighbor had a beautiful tree. Its branches went spiraling upward to the sky and lifted its limbs to received the birds that were building their nests. Some days he would just stand on the corner and look at that beautiful tree. There was a fence around the neighbors yard and a locked iron gate in the front. To further protect his house the neighbor had a barking dog in the yard. Samson wrote, “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree."
As he was coming home one day Sampson noticed that there was something wrong. The gate to the neighbor’s yard was opened and the owner had chained the dog to a post. There in the yard some men from the city were cutting down his beautiful tree. Sampson was really concerned and walked over to the men. He recognized one of the workers and said to him, “Why are you cutting down that beautiful tree? Is something wrong? If you had to cut one down why not that ugly one across the fence.” Right on the other side of that fence was a scraggly tree with no real beauty to it. It might have been doing a favor to cut that one down but not the beautiful one. There must be something wrong!
The worker said to him, “Doc, come over here.” So he went into the yard following the man. Already parts of the lovely tree had been cut and now they were cutting through the heart of it. As they got to the base of the tree the man told him to look inside. There was something wrong. The whole heart of the tree was infested with termites. The outside still looked fine; the bark was intact; the limbs were majestic; the leaves were green. But the core was providing food and shelter for an infestation of termites. The termites had gone right through the fence; the gate had been no obstacle, and the dog was unnoticed. Now because the core of the tree was missing, the tree endangered those living in the house and anyone walking on the sidewalk. Yes, there was something wrong. So the workers were called in to cut it down.
There is a lesson here for us as Christians. Despite the protections built around us the enemy can enter and destroy us. When we are unaware and complacent the enemy can cause something to be desperately wrong.
Today I am going to ask every one of us to look inside and see if there is something desperately wrong inside.
I would suggest that there is something wrong:
I. When you fail to remember the blessings of God.
I love the 103rd Psalm. David says:
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
He starts out praising God and then he names them one after another. The other day I was talking with a friend and he was saying that we should be praising God continually because of all he has given. And I agree. We should praise God for life – and every one of us here today has that. And even if you don’t have life – praise God that you are on your way to heaven. Thank God for your family, for your church, for your salvation – in everything give thanks to the Lord. Have you been taking God’s blessings for granted? Cultivate an attitude of praise for every good thing that God gives to you.
And I think it right . . . to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.2 Pet. 1:13
“As I came from the schoolhouse with my sugar-rationing book, my mind traveled back over the years to scenes of childhood. As a small girl it was my task to help Mother wash the dishes. Standing on a stool, I did my best, but there was one cup that I pushed back and washed last because there was always sugar in the bottom which I must rinse out.
Mother was concerned because of the waste. I can still hear her say, very tactfully, to an aged uncle who lived with us, as he reached for the third spoonful of sugar, “Perhaps, Uncle John, if you would stir up the first spoonful, you would not need the other two.” Her suggestion was heeded—until the next meal.
I have found that the same is true about many things in life. We do not need more blessings so much as we need to appreciate the sweetness of the blessings which we now have. By stirring up our memories, we get new sweetness from lovely music we have heard, good poetry, helpful sermons, expressions of kindness, beautiful scenery, and, of course, best of all—God’s precious Word, which is “sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.” Ada Marie HILLIS.
I would suggest that there is something wrong:
II. When you are serving God because of duty and not love.
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Col. 1:10 When you are doing something for duty you do the bare minimum – just enough to get by. But to act from love you ask, “How much can I do, and how much can I give?
• One sign that there is something wrong is in our lack of attendance. I believe that we have experienced some spiritual slippage in our attendance. I can remember years ago as pastor, that most people came to both services on Sunday. I was surprised when I came back that that was not the case anymore. Perhaps at that time the church was still new and there was a sense of joy and commitment about making sure our church prospered. Everyone knows that when several people miss a service of church that the spirit goes down for everyone and there is something wrong. Right now it’s a good thing we don’t vote often because we would not have a quorum. I can also remember when church folks tried not to be away for more than one or two weeks in a row, because they wanted to support the church and knew they would be missed.
• Lack of Prayer shows there is something wrong.
• Lack of Giving shows there is something wrong.
When I was a little girl I had a playhouse in which I hoarded all my treasures. I had chipped dishes, old calendars, grown-up clothing like Mother’s, and, to my joy, a large wall clock. Best of all, the clock ticked. The pendulum swung back and forth, the works moved, the face still had numbers for all the times, all the parts were in good condition.
But there were no hands. The clock did everything but the main thing for which clocks are made. It could not “tell” time. That failing was not serious to my childish mind, but since then I have thought of that old clock in terms of the lives of the people I know, especially my own life.
I hope my life has not been like that clock. What a tragedy for lives filled with motion and activity, for people busy all day long, and who bring forth no fruit. How sad the lives that tick, tick, tick away without being of any help to those about them.
God says, “Work: for I am with you” (Hag. 2: 4).
Jesus says, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” CECILIA HEARTBERG.
I would suggest that there is something wrong:
III. When you start living without asking for God’s will.
Lo, I come ... I delight to do thy will, O my God. Ps. 40: 7.8a
I believe most of you here have been like me in experiencing a time when you wanted desperately to know and do God’s will. I wonder if for each of us now that is the preoccupation of our lives. Do we want more than anything else to please God. I believe that many of us are lax in finding God’s direction for our lives.
Should you perchance visit the city of Omaha, Nebraska, some¬day and have occasion to call the fire department on the telephone, you would receive an unusual answer. The usual response we hear when the party at the other end of the line has been contacted is that of the name of a company or of an individual. No such answer is given here. Yet, the answer that is given is far more meaningful and has more vital content than any other could have. It is simply one word: “Yes!”
The Omaha Fire Department understands that you will know who they, are, that you have the right number and that you do not wish to waste your time or theirs. They believe that you are thoroughly familiar with the fact that they are ready and willing to risk their lives, if need be, day or night, summer or winter, rain or snows to help folks in time of need. Therefore they engage in no discussion, but tell the truth simply and sincerely.
God calls each of us during a time when the world is in great need. lie calls in all earnestness. How do we respond? Our “yes,” especially to day, must truly express our readiness, our willingness, our desire for immediate action. CHARLES H. SCHMITZ
Put It on the Altar...
In a great conference where many had been moved to a step of rededication, a businessman, well-dressed, distinguished, with graying temples, came with many others to take my hand. He said, “It is my business! There is something wrong. I love my business more than anything else in the world. I don’t need it. I could retire and have all the money I could ever spend. I do not need it, but I simply love to make money! But today I put my business on the altar. Christ and souls will be first and business will be secondary and incidental to pleasing God. I make my vow today!”
A young woman came in the same service weeping. “It is my mother. Today I am giving up my mother to God.” She told me how ten years before she had felt the call of God to go as a missionary to China. Her father and mother had demurred. She was the only child left at home. The father said, “If you will stay with us, I will deed this place to you and you will have security and provision when you are old.”
“But I must go to China! God has called me,” she cried.
Then the mother, accustomed to having her own way, had a “heart attack.” She insisted that the daughter didn’t love her. “If you loved your mother like you ought, you wouldn’t go off and leave me sick and with no one to care for me.”
So the young woman had given up her dream, had turned a deaf ear to the call of God. There was sometthing wrong. Ten years had gone by and all the time the burning was in the young woman’s heart. Now she said, “I may be too late for China. I don’t know what God wants me to do, but I promise Him now that He shall be first, whatever He wants. I give my mother up to God whether she is pleased or displeased, whether she weeps or faints or accuses.
I knew of a Christian wife who prayed faithfully for her unsaved husband. There was something wrong with him. With broken heart she cried to God. At long last the husband was saved. Then he became more and more concerned about soul winning. At last he gave up a profitable business and laid his life on the altar to preach the Gospel. Was the wife pleased? No, she was not! She wanted her husband to be saved. She wanted him to quit his drunkenness. She wanted him to quit following after lewd women. She wanted him to bring home his paycheck. But she did not want him to be a preacher. She did not want him to be counted a fanatic and a fool. She did not want poverty for Jesus’ sake. You see, many people would be glad to have you be a Christian and be moral and honest, but they will not want you to be an out-and-out Christian, a “fanatical” Christian, a radical Christian.
There was something wrong with her. But what the world does not want you to be, Jesus Christ demands that you be. “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
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