Friday, March 12, 2010

#31) Creatures of Comfort

Creatures of Comfort

If there is one thing we are all guilty of, it is that we love comfort. We love the feel of silk sheets. We want our houses to be the perfect temperature. Our cars have climate control. We have all sorts of fits for clothing so that every person of every shape can be comfortable. Unfortunately, our quest for comfort has also extended into our Christian lives. Many Christians search for a new church if theirs challenges them in their faith. We want to give God control but only if it doesn’t require much from us in return. We desire to be strong in our faith yet we neglect the discipline of daily Bible reading.

(Show video #1)
Ask congregation how many can relate to the video.

It all boils down to us asking ourselves, “Who is Lord in my life? Me or God?” Until one answers that question, it is impossible to grow in our faith or strengthen our walk with Christ. Before we can correct the problem, we need to identify the problem.

One of the major contributors to the problem of self-centered Christians is the “health, wealth, & prosperity” gospel that is preached in churches all across America today. It teaches that God wants us to be happy. It teaches that God wants to bless us with great wealth. It teaches that God has many blessings ready to be poured out if only we are faithful enough to ask for them. An unfortunate result of this doctrine is that it teaches God from a selfish perspective. Instead of focusing on the fact that we are to serve God with all our being, it places the focus on the teaching that God wants to bless us with all His being. God does indeed bless us daily. He blesses some more so than others. He blessed Job immensely. Despite this, God really never promises earthly blessings anywhere in Scripture. In fact, God blessing us should never be the focus or our motivation to live for Him.

Luke 14:33
So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

This is not saying one has to give up everything. It is not even saying God desires for all people to be poor. We can see this in Matthew:

Matthew 19:21-24
Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Being poor is not the answer. However, seeking treasures on Earth is not the answer either. Jesus did tell the rich man to give up all he had but he was not trying to make the man poor. The rich man desired money. He heard about the treasures of God and that was the reason he was seeking Christ. He already had abundance of wealth but he wanted more. Our faith is supposed to be about serving God wholeheartedly. It is not supposed to be driven by financial gain or physical health but out of love for the one we call Master. Notice Jesus did not say it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. He simply said it is difficult. This is because we are naturally selfish and do not want to break free from our comfort zone. We want blessings, we avoid conflict, and we hope for trials to end quickly before they interrupt our schedules too much.

James 1:2-4
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Christianity is unique in that it is one of the only religions that does not promise something that will tickle the ears. It promises pain, heartache, and difficulties in this present life. However, it does not promise them in vain. It promises them with the hope of the perfect result of endurance. While perfection is promised, it requires us to break out of our comfort bubble.

Ask congregation if they are willing to break out of the bubble.

2 Corinthians 11:24-27
Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Just how far are we willing to break out of our comfort zone? Are we willing to lose a little sleep to make it to church or are we willing to be killed if it means proclaiming Christ as Lord? Jesus was willing to go through the torturous death of crucifixion so that we might have eternal life but we are often too comfortable to even roll out of bed to go be in fellowship with other Christians while worshiping our Lord. Is He really our Lord or is that just a name we have grown used to saying? How far are we willing to go to follow Him?

Luke 9:59-62
And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

Here, we can see Jesus inviting some to follow him. However, I do not believe this was a display of Jesus’ ignorance but actually a display of his divine knowledge. He knew the hearts of these men and he knew it was a prime time to use them as an example for his teaching. The requests made by these men are not really extreme by our standards. One man wanted to follow Christ but his dad had just died. All he was asking was that Jesus give him time to bury his father first. The other man simply wanted to say goodbye to his loved ones at home before starting on their journey. This sounds very reasonable to us yet it was a mark of unworthiness in the eyes of Christ. While none of us are worthy of Heaven, these two in particular displayed it prominently. Jesus tells the one man to let the dead bury their own and tells the other man he has no reason to look back at what he is leaving behind.

Matthew 4:21
Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.

To get a better understanding of what Jesus is asking here, we must get an idea of the culture back then. James & John were fisherman. We see they were in their boat with their father, Zebedee. Back then, it was customary for the sons to enter the family practice just as the daughters, if not already married, would often stay at home with the mother to help the rest of the close-knit community. If the sons were to leave their father, he would be forced to do the entire job by himself which would be next to impossible. As a result, their father would not make any money, would not have any food for the table, and would fail to be able to continue providing for his family. Did James & John take time to weigh their options? Did they weigh the pros and cons? Not at all.

Matthew 4:22
Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

There was no time for deliberation. There was no fear of what might happen if they left the security of their job. They didn’t even stop to worry about what might happen to the family they were leaving behind. This is exactly what the two men in the previous example should have done. We are called to serve God and follow Christ with all our being!

Don’t get the wrong idea about family. Scripture is not telling us to hurt our loved ones or cast them out of our lives.

1 John 2:11
But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 3:15
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Ephesians 6:2
HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),

The Bible takes our treatment of family very seriously. In fact, it teaches of family being such a close bond that it even refers to our salvation as adoption into the family of God. However, it takes our obedience to God even more seriously.

Luke 14:26
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Again, this is not saying God wants to us literally hate our family. This would be in violation of everything I just read and we know Scripture never contradicts itself. In the proper context, we can see it is telling us that as important as family is, everything pales in comparison to Christ. As much as we love our family, when compared to our love for Christ, it will appear as if we hate them. As much as we would do for our loved ones, if Christ calls us elsewhere, we won’t even think twice about where it is we need to be and we will have no reason to look back with regret. We are to honor our father and mother but not at the expense of neglecting God or failing to follow His calling. There should be nothing in this life that we choose over Christ. After all, isn’t he our Lord?

Matthew 6:33a
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness

(Show video #2)
Ask congregation how many can relate to the video.

How many decisions do we allow God to make for us and how many do we try to make on our own? Do we really think our own decisions will work out better than God’s?

1 John 3:20b
God is greater than our heart and knows all things.

Jeremiah 32:17
Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,

Colossians 1:17
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

The simple fact of the matter is that God is in control at all times whether we realize it or not. There is nothing outside of His grasp. There is nothing beyond His knowledge. Nothing exists outside of His will. We know this. In fact, if I were a betting man, I’d even say most of us even believe it to be true. The only reason we normally fail to let God take control is because, more often than not, it hurts. It takes us out of our comfort zone and throws us right into the fire.

We are about to get back home in a couple days after 6 months of being at sea. There is going to be a lot thrown at us in an attempt to drag us down. Satan and his demons never stop attacking. Some do it boldly while most do it with subtle temptation. Not to mention, we are fallen beings who even give into ourselves most of the time without any outside influence of Satan even being necessary. We can learn all we can out here on deployment but the time to really put it into practice is going to be once we get back home. Are you going to live for yourself or are you going to live for your Lord? Are you going to make your own choices or are you going to seek God’s righteous will? Are you going to submit to His calling or are you going to pretend you can’t hear Him and walk away before He can snag your heart?

James 4:7
Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Job 22:21
Yield now and be at peace with Him; Thereby good will come to you.

Matthew 11:28
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

John 17:13
But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Acts 9:31
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

2 Corinthians 1:5
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:6a
But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation

James 1:2-4
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God does indeed want us to be comfortable but we have taken it to a whole different level. Our version of comfort has created complacency and selfishness. God’s definition of comfort requires absolute submission to His will. Yes, it can hurt up front. Yes, it can be scary. Yes, it can be mysterious. Yes, it can differ from our own finite ideas of what is good. However, none of this really matters. God has promised us a comfort greater than anything we can ever imagine if only we submit it Him. The churches in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria all enjoyed the peace of God and their comfort only increased. Oddly enough, it says they obtained this through a fear of the Lord. They knew who the Boss was. They knew who was in charge. They knew who made the best decisions. They knew who they had to follow. My question tonight is do you?


  1. Excellent message. Good choice of support scripture too. Thank you for the post.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad it was able to benefit you. We serve a mighty God and we know we can trust Him in all things.