Awaken 2 – Obstacles to Awakening
RockChurch Sermon Transcript: July 12, 2015
Good Evening – And welcome to RockChurch!
Last week we began our new series Awaken, and since it was the 4th of July weekend we talked about what it would look like – what would need to happen to see another Great Awakening in our nation. Most everyone agrees our country is not heading in the right direction. As a matter of fact according to the most recent Rasmussen Report only 31% of Americans believe we are heading in the right direction.
And we talked about the fact that America has been blessed with, depending on which historian you ask – three to five Awakenings that have helped us as a nation get back on course, by getting back to God. One of the most notable awakenings happened in the years leading up to the Revolutionary war and was a strong contributing factor in us declaring our Independence.
Robert Morgan writes:
First came the Great Awakening, which dates to around 1740. The writings of the French skeptics and the Enlightenment thinkers so pervaded the Colonies that churches struggled to remain open. Colleges became hotbeds of humanism, and Christian students, what few there were, practiced their faith secretly. But New Jersey Dutchman Theodore Frelinghuysen began preaching the simple Gospel, electrifying young adults in his area. The revival reached New England under Jonathan Edwards. George Whitefield continued the drumbeat, and this Great Awakening turned America from a collection of godless colonies into a God-fearing nation, setting the stage for independence and establishing the moral foundation for a new country conceived in liberty.
And so our premise was that, even though it looks bad – where there is life there is hope. And awakening starts with us. We looked at Daniel chapter 9 as a model, and talked about the big IF. If the Body of Christ as a whole in our country really gets serious about seeking God. If we do that, then God promises to respond. And if we don’t. Things will continue on the trajectory they are currently on. Not what we want to see.
And so we talked about the fact that a National Awakening will be the result of many individual awakenings. And that’s what I want to talk about tonight.
The title of my message tonight is Overcoming the Obstacles of Awakening.
Okay, so we are talking about overcoming obstacles to our own personal awakening.
Obstacles are interesting things. An obstacle is defined as “a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress.”
When I was in the Army I went to a school called Air Assault School.
Air Assault School
Air Assault School qualifies soldiers to conduct airmobile and air assault helicopter operations,
It’s 10 days long and one of the requirements is to actually repel out of a helicopter that is hovering aprox. 90 feet in the air. Now that can be daunting if you’re afraid of heights, but that is not the hardest part of Air Assault School. Anybody who has gone through it will tell you the hardest part of Air Assault School is what’s called ZERO. Soldiers are not even considered Air Assault students until they make it through ZERO. ZERO or ZERO day is the first day of the school. And it is brutal. Many don’t make it past zero day. 10 – 15 % fail Air Assault School the first day. There is a two mile run in your Army Combat Uniform. There are instructors yelling at you and making you do various exercises – pushups, flutter kicks, and whatever other kinds of nasty things these guys dream up.
And these things are challenging, but they are not what causes so many people to fail. Because the last thing you do on Zero Day is a massive obstacle course. The obstacle course is designed to assess a student’s upper body strength, agility, endurance, confidence, and ability to perform at heights without displaying fear or distress.
There are 9 obstacles in total and by the time it’s over these obstacles get people to quit.
But like I said, obstacles are an interesting thing because even though they may block one’s way and prevent or hinder progress, they also are revealers and a developers. Obstacles can feel like a curse, but can in actuality be a blessing. When you overcome an obstacle your confidence increases, and sometimes, just by going through an obstacle, you become stronger and more proficient.
Now, let’s make this personal. We right now have just started the 2nd ½ of 2015. Hard to believe but ½ of this year is already in the books. And maybe you started of the year with momentum. Maybe you started making progress. Maybe you started the New Year with the thought, this year is going to be different. I am going to make some changes. The promise of a New Year can really energize us to get serious about the things that matter. And so, maybe 2015 started off with momentum.
But anytime we begin to get momentum, how many have noticed this? – that every time you seem to be getting momentum in some area of your life, then boom – not too much later, all of the sudden, there is resistance. Everybody say resistance.
Have you ever noticed that? And so, let me ask you. Now as we are just starting the 2nd have of the year, how is your spiritual momentum? How are things going with you and your relationship with God? Is it going great? Are you fully awake? Or are you in a rut? Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you keep running into a wall, and every time you begin to make some progress, it feels like you get derailed?
And through this, are you encouraged or discouraged?
You know, Scripture makes it clear that we are in a battle. And you know, if you have been following Jesus for any length of time, you know that’s true, because you have experienced it.
We are in a battle. All throughout the Bible we are told about it. Imagery is used like A good soldier of Jesus Christ, and Fight the good fight of faith, and Put on the full armor of God.
We are told that there is a wrestling that goes on as a Christian, but that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. We wrestle against satanic forces
And so, if you are a Christian, then you are in a battle. There is no demilitarized zone. We don’t have the luxury of saying we are like Switzerland – we are neutral.
You have an enemy. Actually you have 3 enemies. Those three enemies, as defined by Scripture are the world, the flesh, and the devil.
So these three enemies are our three primary obstacles to personal awakening. And the good news is God never leaves his children defenseless. It says he’s given us everything that we need pertaining to life and godliness. And so, what we’ll do in our remaining time is address these three obstacles, the world, the flesh, and the devil, and if you’re in a rut right now. If you’re feeling like your stuck you will be able to trace the root cause to one of these three issues, so pay close attention, because as we hit this, I believe God is going to show us strategies and actions we can take to begin to break through and break out. Amen? And whether you feel like you’re in a rut or not, these obstacles are common to all of us, and so should prove helpful to all of us.
Let’s look at the first enemy. The first obstacle to awakening: The World.
Turn if you would to the book of 1st John. We’ll be looking at Chapter 2, verses 15-17
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
(1Jn 2:15-17 NIV)
So, in John 3:16 we find out that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for it. And yet we read here that we are not to love the world. Is this a disconnect or a contradiction? No. We are to love the world like God does – and that is loving people in the world.
But when John tells us not to love the world, he is telling us not to love the world system we find ourselves in. The present order of things. The present order the present system we are in is by nature opposed to the kingdom of Christ; It is in constant conflict with the Kingdom of God because it is setup by what Jesus called the god of this world. The world in this sense is the system, set up by the devil, that we all are born into, that is designed to keep people in bondage and deception, with the ultimate objective of keeping them away from God and his truth. The world system is the source of a never ending stream of images and messages. We live in the information age and this generation is getting bombarded with more messages and images that are opposed to God and his way of doing things than any previous generation. Watch TV for just a couple of hours and you will be hit with so much that opposes God that it won’t take you long to just become desensitized to it.
This is a big issue. It’s hard to believe but we can get into a serious spiritual rut, just by not being discerning about what we allow into our minds. Amen?
So, if the Holy Spirit is tugging on you a bit on this one and you recognize that you have too much of the world’s influence the solution is easy. Make a decision to bring what you allow into your mind and spirit to God in prayer. Maybe it’s a show that you love, but you know it grieves the Holy Spirit. Or certain songs you listen to. And when God puts his finger on it and says, this really isn’t good for you. Make the decision to obey. It’s that simple. And yet can be challenging. Because maybe we really like it!
Melody and I are reading a book right not by Craig Groeschel, titled Soul Detox. The subtitle is Clean Living in a contaminated world. If you’re dealing with this, and I think we all are to some degree, this might be a good book to pick up.
So first enemy – The world, or this current world system.
Next enemy – The flesh. It’s the Greek word – Sarx. Now when we say flesh in this sense of it being an enemy, an obstacle in our lives, Sarx refers to our sinful or carnal nature. The part of us that likes to do bad. Before we came to Christ, our flesh or carnal nature ruled us. After we come to Christ, we can have victory in this area, but it doesn’t mean that we never struggle with it. We all have some struggle with the flesh, and we all still sin. The Bible says that if we say we have no sin, we are a liar. But we can have a lot of victory over the flesh, and indeed, Scripture says that is supposed to be the norm for the believer.
The book of Romans, chapter 8 is the Emancipation Proclamation of the believer. Here our freedom in Christ is proclaimed, and it is one of the highest points of the entire Bible.
Let’s look at a couple of passages here. Starting with Romans 8:5-8
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
(Rom 8:5-8 NIV)
So you see the struggle. The struggle, the battle is in the mind. Those who don’t know Christ have their minds naturally set on what the flesh desires. But when you became a child of God, we now have the ability to set our minds on the Spirit instead of the flesh. We have the ability. But unfortunately, we can get into a rut and start setting our minds on carnal things instead of Spirit things.
Let’s look at verses 12-14 of the same chapter.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation–but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
(Rom 8:12-14 NIV)
So there is a choice and the choice is to live by the Spirit, and with the Spirits power we can put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. Amen.
So, the first obstacle to awakening is the world, which we overcome by not loving it. Evaluating what we allow to come into our spirits.
The second obstacle is the flesh. Which, if we’ve accepted Christ we have the ability to overcome by setting our minds on the Spirit. Meditating on God and his Word. Spending time with the Holy Spirit. Letting ourselves think the way He thinks and look at the world the way He does. And when temptation hits and we want to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. We run to God. We get in the Word. We renew our minds. And with God’s help we overcome.
Now, of course I have to say here again. Nobody’s perfect. If you blow it there is grace and mercy. We need to run to him and not away from Him. Admit it – and start again. The Bible says, though a righteous person falls seven times. Seven times they get back up. If we fall, our daddy won’t reject us and so we should immediately get back up. Amen?
Now, the final enemy, and it’s our main enemy and our main obstacle in this life. He’s the root of all evil. And of course, I am talking about. The devil. AKA Satan. He’s our adversary. He’s our accuser. Jesus called him the thief and in John 10:10 he said – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Somebody said – God good, devil bad. That sums it up, right?
The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. But I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. Satan and his forces are responsible for more trouble in the world and in our lives than anything else. There is coming a day when we will no longer need to worry about him, but until then we are commanded to stand against him. James 4:7 instructs us to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” But how do we do that?
Again – thank God for his Word. He never leaves us defenseless. In this case we have a model that we can look at. It’s recorded in chapter 4 of both the book of Matthew and the book of Luke. Let’s take a look at the Matthew account.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Mat 4:1-11 NIV)
So Jesus was tempted in all manner like we are, yet he was without sin. We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses the writer of Hebrews tells us. He went through it so he knows what you are going through. But not only does he know what you are going through. He shows you how to handle it. And how is that? Speaking the Word of God. Another name for the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Amen? And here we have Jesus showing us how to use the Sword of the Spirit. Whenever the enemy tried to hit him with anything that was contrary to the Word, Jesus quoted the Word. Even when the enemy attempted to twist the Word to suit his own purposes, Jesus was still able to use the Word.
Do you feel like you are under satanic attack? The solution is to get God’s mind, God’s Word on whatever you are going through, and speak it. Say it out loud. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. So as you speak God’s Word on a subject, your mind gets renewed and faith grows. You then have strength to stand. And so if you’re under attack keep speaking God’s word and then hang in there. Keep speaking His Word. The attack will break.
I really like the end of this passage. After Jesus withstands everything the enemy could throw at him it says “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
I don’t like the satan attacking part, but I do like the end result. Peace, breakthrough, victory.
Ok. So there we have it. 3 obstacles to personal awakening – The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. And hopefully we feel a little more equipped and have some battle strategies on what we can do and need to do next in our walk with God.
Overcoming 3 Obstacles to Awakening (Review)
- Enemy 1: The World
- Strategy: Know the Word; Change thinking to align with the Word; evaluate and filter opposing messages via media
- Enemy 2: The Flesh
- Strategy: Set mind on the Spirit; meditate and saturate your mind with and in the Word
- Enemy 3: The devil
- Speak the Word
- Use spiritual weapons God gives us (ie pray; fast, etc..)
- Persist – Resist and keep resisting. He will flee
Good stuff! It’s time to Wake Up!
Until next time, may God richly bless you and yours 🙂