DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

                 Index

 
Balance In Life
 

(Consistency, Maturity, Stability)

THE PERFECT MODEL

Whose life should serve as a pattern for our own?

Luke 2:41-52
41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.
42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.
43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.
44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.
45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
49 "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.


V:52 - Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.

Jesus is our model.
- These verses shows us that although Jesus was unique, he had a normal childhood and adolescence.
- In terms of development, he went through the same progression we do.
- He grew physically and mentally, he related to other people, and he was loved by God.
- A full human life is not unbalanced.
- It was important to Jesus-and it should be important to all believers-to develop fully and harmoniously in each of these key areas: physical, mental, social, and spiritual.

John 2:1-11
1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there,
2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so,
9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside
10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.


VERSE: The next day Jesus' mother was a guest at a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.

Balance affects work and pleasure.
- Jesus was on a mission to save the world, the greatest mission in the history of mankind.
- Yet he took time to attend a wedding and participate in its festivities.
- We may be tempted to think we should not take time out from our "important" work for social occasions.
- But maybe these social occasions are part of our mission.
- Jesus valued these wedding festivities because they involved people, and Jesus came to be with people. - Opportunities to show who he is. (Each one knows 100 other people)
- Our mission can often be accomplished in joyous times of celebration with others.
- Bring balance to your life by bringing Jesus into times of pleasure as well as times of work.

BALANCED LIVING

How does balance affect specific areas of life?

1 Timothy 4:12
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

1. Balance in physical and spiritual areas.

1 Timothy 4:6-8
6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.


Are you in shape both physically and spiritually?
- In our society, much emphasis is placed on physical fitness, but spiritual health (godliness) is even more important.
- Our physical bodies are susceptible to disease and injury, but faith can sustain us through these tragedies.
- To train for godliness, we must develop our faith by using our God-given abilities in the service of the church (see 4:14-16).
- Are you developing your spiritual muscles?

Balanced input.

1 Timothy 4:13-14
13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.


The Scripture that Paul mentions is in fact the Old Testament.

We must make sure to emphasize reading the entire Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments.

There are rich rewards in studying the people, events, prophecies, and principles of the Old Testament.

Illustration: Example-Bad.

A little clock in a jeweler's window in a certain western town stopped one day for half an hour, at fifteen minutes of nine. School children, noticing the time, stopped to play; people hurrying to the train, looking at the clock, began to walk leisurely; professional men, after a look at the clock, stopped to chat a minute with one another; working men and women noted the time and lingered a little longer in the sunshine, and all were half an hour late because one small clock stopped. Never had these people known how much they had depended upon that clock till it had led them astray.

Many are thus unconsciously depending upon the influence of Christians; you may think you have no influence, but you cannot go wrong in one little act without leading others astray.-The Seattle Churchman.

2. Balance in how our lives affect others.

1 Timothy 4:9-12, 15-16
9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance
10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things.
12 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.


Timothy was a young pastor.
- It would be easy for older Christians to look down on him because of his youth.
- He had to earn the respect of his elders by setting an example in his speech, life, love, faith, and purity. Regardless of your age, God can use you. Whether you are young or old, don't think of your age as a handicap.
- Live so others can see Christ in you.

Balance in choosing good models to follow. (Friends and Leaders)
- Timothy's commission as a church leader was confirmed by prophecy (1 Timothy 1:18) and by the laying on of hands by the elders of the church.
- He was not a self-appointed leader.
- If you aspire to church leadership, seek the counsel of mature Christians who know you well and who will hold you accountable.

3. Balance in pursuing excellence.

2 Timothy 1:6-8
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,


As a young leader in a church that had a lot of problems, Timothy may have felt intimidated.

But the elders and prophets encouraged him and charged him to use his spiritual gift responsibly. Highly skilled and talented athletes lose their abilities if their muscles aren't toned by constant use, and we will lose our spiritual gifts if we don't put them to work.

Our talents are improved by exercise, but failing to use them causes them to waste away from lack of practice and nourishment.

What gifts and abilities has God given you?

Use them regularly in serving God and others.

Romans 12:1-8
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.


Balance in self-evaluation.
- We know the importance of watching our lives closely.
- We must be on constant guard against falling into sin that can so easily destroy us.
- Yet we must watch what we believe just as closely.
- Wrong beliefs can quickly lead us into sin and heresy.
- We should be on guard against those who would persuade us that how we live is more important than what we believe.
- We should persevere in both.

A New Man in Old Clothes
- A man got up in one of our meetings in New York some years ago, who had been pretty far down; but a wonderful change had taken place, and he said he hardly knew himself. He said the fact was, he was a new man in his old clothes.
- That was just it. Not a man in new clothes, but a new man in old clothes.
- I saw an advertisement which read like this: "If you want people to respect you, wear good clothes." That is the world's idea of getting the world's respect. Why, a leper might put on good clothes, but he would be a leper still! Mere profession does not transform a man. It is the new nature spoken of in 2 Corinthians v. 17: "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Inspiring Commander.
- I have read of a distinguished general who conducted an army by forced marches through a sterile as well as a hostile country. They were footsore, worn, and weary; supplied with the scantiest fare, and toiling all day long, through heavy sands, and beneath a scorching sun. Yet his brave men pressed on-such as fell out of the line by day, unless shot down by the foe who crouched like tigers in every bush, and hung in clouds on their flanks and rear, rejoining their ranks in the cool and darkness of the night. Thus this gallant army, undaunted and indomitable, accomplished a great achievement in arms. And how? They were inspired by their commander. Foregoing the privileges of his rank, he dismounted from his horse to put himself not only at the head of his men, but on a level with them. He shared their hard bed; he lived on their scanty rations; every foot they walked he walked; every foe they faced he faced; every hardship they endured he bore; and with cheek as brown, and limbs as weary, and couch as rude as theirs, he came down to their condition-Touched by their infirmities, and teaching them by his example what part to act, and with what patience to endure. They would have followed him to the cannon's mouth-His cry not Forward but Follow. -T. Guthrie, D.D.One Thousand Evangelistic Illustrations.

Example Brings Men to Christ.
- The Rev. J. A. James, the well-known minister of Birmingham, says, in one of his lectures: "If the present lecturer has a right to consider himself a real Christian, if he has been of any service to his fellow-creatures, and has attained to any usefulness in the Church of Christ, he owes it, in the way of means and instrumentality, to the sight of a companion, who slept in the same room with him, bending his knees in prayer on retiring to rest. That scene, so unostentatious, and yet so unconcealed, roused my slumbering conscience, and sent an arrow to my heart; for, though I had been religiously educated, I had restrained prayer, and cast off the fear of God. My conversion to God followed, and soon afterwards my entrance upon college studies for the work of the ministry. Nearly half a century has rolled away since then, with all its multitudinous events; but that little chamber, that humble couch, that praying youth, are still present to my Imagination, and will never be forgotten, even amidst the splendour of Heaven and through the ages of eternity."One Thousand Evangelistic Illustrations.