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Faithlife

Comfort in Correction

Churches of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God's correction in our lives is one of His best gifts...

Notes & Transcripts
So, a few things today: first, this will easily be the shortest sermon any of you will have heard me preach, and second, now that’s out of the way, I am going to say something you all may disagree with, and that’s okay, but I ask that you hang in there, and give me the benefit of the doubt. Can we do that? Cool.
When I was growing up, I was not what you would call…the epitome of good behavior. I picked up smoking when I was about 14, I cussed like a sailor (when my folks weren’t around; I didn’t like the taste of Ivory bar soap), and was often petty and vengeful to those who crossed me. It didn’t get much better as an adult, as I got more and more selfish.
In any case, during my teen years, as I was routinely going out to take our dogs for their evening potty, I had a pack of Marlboro Reds and a lighter in my inside coat, and I wanted a cigarette. Both of my parents have been smoking since they were teens, so I knew their sense of smell and taste was shot, and I could easily get away with smoking as they even smoked in the house and car. The problem was that my mother had some weird 6th sense and intuition that was scary. It didn’t work all the time, but it worked enough to make my brother and sister and I nervous. In any case, as I’d done this so many times before, I was taking the dogs out for their evening bathroom outing. As we lived on the 4th floor, and the side of the building where everyone took their dogs to go had no windows, I was not worried about being caught in the act (my folks were WAY too lazy to walk down that many flights of stairs). That is, until I was heading down and my mom stopped me, and asked what I had in my coat. This was confusing as this was a rather bulky and large leather coat. To this day, even my dad acknowledges that even HE thought my mom was being weird. But then again, there was her ridiculous intuition. 16 years old and busted with a pack of cigarettes. They tried to have me sit down and smoke the whole pack to “punish” me, but I’d already been smoking for a year, lived in the home with two other heavy smokers, and when they realized that it was having absolutely no effect on me (that and I could take longer and heavier drags than my mother could), they began yelling at me for my “stupidity.” And I yelled back. I yelled at their hypocrisy (my mom was 12 when she began smoking, and my dad 18, when he quit chewing tobacco) and their own stupidity, knowing the dangers of smoking, especially with military programs for smoking cessation. Even more, I threw back at them the fact that they could take my cigarettes and lighter, and that it wouldn’t do anything in the long run. You see, I was way too smart and way to informed for their own good. And with that, I was grounded and sent to bed (which made my dad angry as then HE had to go down all the stairs to go take the dogs out). Here’s the real kicker though: I knew they were hard on me about it because they actually cared about me. But I was my own person, and they were trying to tell me to do what they said and not what they do. For those parents out there, how effective is that when parenting? Yeah, not at all. And thinking about this made me think of every other time someone has offered a correction in my life that was justified (and sure, not all of them were, nobody’s perfect), and how I reacted more often than not.
In our Scripture reading today, there was an interesting part of this verse. As many of us should be aware, this section of Revelation is interesting, as it deals with a Spiritually dead church. A church where for one reason or another, nobody gets involved outside of church activities. Oh, sure, they were well known for their actions and outreach, and other such stuff in the past. But that day? Jesus literally says that he is preparing to vomit them out of His mouth. They are not harried with persecution, or dealing with problems of internal heresy, no, theirs is a sin of indifference. Theirs is a sin of spiritual laziness. And it is something that we all stand accused of. How easy is it not to pray before meals, to thank God for what he provided? How easy is it to wake up or go to bed without going to God about your plans for the day or His plans for you the following day, and thanking Him for what He’s done? Take it from someone who knows: it’s really easy. And I could easily point to any single person in this room, or even those watching over the internet, and sure as rain, you know that you have a sin on your heart, and it may not be what the Laodiceans were dealing with, but some other secret sin in your heart: sins of pride, of jealousy and covetousness, of lust, of lies, and on and on. And what can I do at this point? I can call you out, and tell you to repent of this behavior, right? In the way that John the Baptist did: REPENT!! FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND!! REPENT FROM THE WAYS OF THE WORLD AND TURN TOWARD THE GOD OF HEAVEN THAT BOUGHT YOU WITH HIS LIFE!! And let’s all be clear and honest: it wouldn’t do a lick of good. You know, I’ve actually heard people in one of the churches in this district, have a discussion about something that I preached on with them the week prior and when it was brought up, nobody had any clue what that person was saying. And why? Let me ask you all here today: who remembers my second sermon, without looking it up? Okay, maybe not the sermon, but surely the takeaway or the application, you could remember that, right? I am willing to bet nobody here can remember it. Why? Because most sermons I preach address an issue, and that calls for action, for a turning away from the ways of the world and into the arms of Jesus. I am offering a corrective, and NOBODY likes being told that they are wrong, do they? Of course not! We are rulers of our own lives and futures, right?
Uhm…something isn’t right about that last sentence was there? Because we who have put our faith in Jesus have accepted Him as our LORD and SAVIOR. So…our life is not ours to rule, nor is our future. Woops. Then how does this tie in with our Scripture? Well, we often go off and do our own thing, don’t we? We ignore God’s will for our lives and fall into sin. The thing is, Jesus expects that. We are human and live in this world. With Him, though we can overcome sin, because HE overcame sin. But how do we get going in the right direction? He offers us a corrective, and He’s been doing it for centuries. The book of Judges is repleat with the Jews doing their own thing, turning from God, God sending in a foreign power to conquer them and get their attention, which makes them turn back to Him, who then in turn, sends a Judge to save and rescue His people. Then, when they STILL didn’t get it, he sent the entire country into Exile. Later on, he allowed them to be conquered and ruled, albeit in their own land. King David wrote about this very thing in :

1  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2  He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

3  He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

5  You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

forever.

We often overlook the end of verse 4 don’t we: “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Anyone here know what a rod was used for? In shepherding work, it was a wooden club, often iron-tipped, used for protection from wild animals, or to get a particularly stubborn sheep, goat, or ram back into line. And a shepherd’s staff? It was used for correction and guidance, pointing the sheep or pulling the sheep in the right direction. Verse 19 of our Scripture reading is just that as well: Jesus is telling us that, even in our laziness, we can turn back to Him, and he will correct us and guide us back to Him, but not out of a sense of punishment or vengeance, but out of LOVE! He gives us guilt to see our wrongs and to make us want to repent! And I don’t know about you all, but one of my favorite things about Jesus is that He cares about me enough to tell me when I am in the wrong. He just usually does so through Stacy.
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Brothers and sisters, as we close out, I want you all to bow your heads and close your eyes. I want you to think about what has been going on in your life that God is trying to correct you on, be it obvious or not. God’s word is clear on this: we are to repent from our sins and go to Him for forgiveness. Jesus told us to go to our brother and settle with him before we can go to God if we have sinned against our neighbor. If you have some pressing sin on your heart, and only you and Jesus know what it is for sure, but if you have something on your heart, give it to God. If you have sinned against a neighbor, take it to them, apologize sincerely, and pray together for God’s forgiveness. It’s waiting there for you, His forgiveness, and it’s not conditional, as His grace is sufficient, and His mercy endures forever. You only need ask and accept it.
Let us Pray.
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