When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
Does God ever give you more than you can handle? That is something people debate often. Many times I hear that God will never give you more than you can handle. This is often said when we are going through something tough in life like a loss of loved one, a painful illness, or an employment layoff. As we suffer and look to friends with our tear-stained faces, we hear the somewhat comforting words, “God never gives us more than we can handle. You’ll get through this.”
When I hear these words, I consider 2 Corinthians 1:8, where it says that the people were “crushed and overwhelmed beyond… ability to endure.” They were suffering. They believed they would not live through it. I consider Job, who lost it all—family, financial resources, health. Could you handle this? Would this be more than you could handle? I know some were not able to make it through. I know some who could not take it anymore. Why do we think we should be able to face all of this, that we can handle anything thrown our way? It is not that easy. We shortchange ourselves believing it is that easy. Instead, cling to the Father.
The Bible does not say that God will not give you more than you can handle. The truth is this world is a dark place and you may find yourself drowning and unable to cope. What the Bible does says is that God “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” In 1 Corinthians, it says that God “will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This is talking about temptation, not about pain and suffering. This is saying that when we are tempted, there’s always a way to not succumb to the temptation. We saw this demonstrated. While Jesus was in the Wilderness, He responded with the Word of God when faced with each temptation.
Today, you may be facing something very difficult. You may not think you can make it through it. Whether it is too much to handle or just getting the best of you, know that you have a Heavenly Father Who is the Comforter. Cling to Him. Remind yourself of His promises. Surround yourself with those strong in the faith and be in continuous prayer. This great burden is temporary my friends.
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8 [NLT]
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 [ESV]
When it was time to leave, Marci wasn’t finished with her bone. I knew the drill. If the bone was out in the open, Max would take it. The temptation is too much for him just as temptations can be too much for us to handle if we are not armored up. I thought I was clever and I put Marci’s bone under the love seat, her special hiding area, so it would be safe. When I came home I realized the temptation was still there for Max; he moved the love seat across the room and got the bone. He’s very food driven so the temptation was huge!
God’s Word shows us clearly that we can use passages of Scripture when faced with temptation. Each time Jesus was tempted in the wilderness what did He do? He quoted a verse. We can do the same thing. Nonetheless, there are temptations that are more dangerous for us than others. For each person this varies, but when there are these types of temptations that are ones we struggle with the most, it is a good idea to avoid them if you can so as to not put yourself in that position. God gave us the way to combat temptation, but He doesn’t necessarily want us to put ourselves in these situations just because He has given us the power to overcome them. When we open ourselves up to tempting situations, we give Satan a gateway.
If you have a problem with alcohol, why go somewhere if you know everyone will be drinking? If you have a problem with lust, why put yourself in a situation that could cause you to sin? Don’t hide the bone under the love seat. At the same time, never forget the power of God and His Word. God’s Word is powerful. God’s Word can be used whenever you feel tempted and you can overcome through Christ Jesus.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 [NLT]
Here’s a sermon outline from a message I shared on the Slavery of Self-Reliance. You may download the outline below. Please note there was no illustration with this message but instead I spoke of King Asa of Judah from 2 Chronicles 16 giving the gold and silver from the Temple to Ben-Hadad King of Syria.
Slavery of Self-Reliance
Everyone needs: Meaning / Purpose / Security / Safety / Significance / Worth / Value
Self-reliant / Self-determination / Self-Dependence / Independent / Self-Sufficient / Self-Contained
The world sees these as good things / the world applauds these things
The problem: These things enslave us. Burden of Self-Reliance à when all relies on you à Slavery
The solution: God wants to free us from ourselves
God is our: meaning / purpose / significance / security / safety / protection
- God provides you meaning and purpose
- Isaiah 43:7 – God has made you for His glory.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
- Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before others to glorify God
- God provides you security
- Proverbs 3:26 – “For the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap” (NLT).
- God provides you safety
- Psalm 18:2 – “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
- Psalm 91:2 – “… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety…” (NLT)
- Proverbs 18:10 – Godly run to God and are safe
- God provides you significance and worth and value
- Genesis 1:27 – God made you in His image
- Psalm 139:13 – God created each of us individually – knit you in your mother’s womb with certain abilities & gifts – allows certain experiences – all so you can be of great worth to His Kingdom – YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS! (John 14:12 – “… anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…” NLT).
- Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Only those who stand in need of a savior will look for and recognize one.
Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)
Jeremiah 17:5-8 – “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
It should always be our aim to give our best to everything we do in life. The Bible says we should do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) as a representative of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17). This does not mean we should only give our best at work or our best at home. This does not mean we should slack off in one area to devote all of our attention to another.
In today’s passage, the Psalmist speaks of singing to God. He states that because “He’s Lord over earth… sing your best songs to God.” God’s Word Translation says, “Make your best music for Him.” Sing with passion. Sing with truth. Sing with understanding. Yes, understanding. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:15 about singing with understanding. Singing with understanding means we sing praises to God for we understand Who He is and how great He is—that is the only way to sing our best song to Him. We must know Him and love Him.
Psalm 47 was written by the Sons of Korah. Remember Korah? There was a rebellion and the people were swallowed alive (Numbers 16); however, God saved some descendents of Korah—the sons. And if you look further down the line, you will find that the prophet Samuel came from that very line. How great is our God! With understanding, comes a pure outpouring of praise. He is Lord over all the earth so let us sing our best songs to Him.
“Sing songs to God, sing out!
Sing to our King, sing praise!
He’s Lord over earth,
so sing your best songs to God.”
-Psalm 47: 6-7 [MSG]
When I reached back to the bag rack, I noticed that there was a bunch of crumbled bags that were placed inside the first bag on the rack. They must have fallen off the rack, come off with other bags, or posed a problem by being too difficult to open during bagging. As a result, rather than try to open each one and properly hang it on the rack, someone decided to just toss them all into another bag so they were out of sight and out of mind. That helped the person to deal with the situation, but the situation was not resolved. The bags still needed fixed and reattached.
Each bag had to be taken out of the bag, opened, and attached to the bag rack. It took a bit of time but it got done. While doing the not-so-thrilling task, I considered how we all do this at times. We push things off. We let things for other people. My kids do it in the kitchen. They make a small spill when pouring some milk or juice and it sits. They could easily clean it up with a rag and it would only take a few seconds. Instead they leave it and it becomes more difficult to clean when I notice it there. A spouse may leave the car nearly empty of gas so the other person has to drive to the gas station to fill it up. A co-worker might leave something for the next shift or for another co-worker simply because “they can do it.”
We live in a culture that has a problem accepting responsibility. I know I’m guilty of it and when I look around, I can tell that I am not the only one. We do not want to take responsibility. We do not want to be accountable. It is so much easier to push things off. Today, be accountable. Take responsibility. Remember that in any and everything you do, it can be an opportunity to give God the glory He deserves. Don’t just stash some crumbled bags away for the next person. Don’t leave your work area dirty for your co-worker. Don’t let the milk sit for the next person. Take initiative.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 [NLT]
In Genesis 11, the people were attempting to build a tower to make a name for themselves which resulted in the people being scattered. By attempting to build the tower, they were seeking glory for themselves, rather than glory for God. They were trying to build themselves up rather than living for God.
When you look around today, it seems like there are a lot of towers being built up all over the world. Perhaps we have been scattered all over and we speak different languages, but it did not rid us of this desire to be like God—the same desire that plagued Adam & Eve in the garden. People are still trying to get noticed. People are still trying to build up. People are still trying to live for themselves rather than for God.
Today, look at your life and check for any towers. Are you seeking glory? Are you trying to get noticed? It is okay to get some attention, but we should always be pointing to Christ. To God be the glory.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 [NIV]