Pastor Jeff Needleman
PART 2 - Rabbit Trails & Stuck At Home Tales (Text & Video)
Part 2 –Rabbit Trails & Stuck At Home Tales
If you haven’t watched Rabbit Trails & Stuck at Home Tales part 1, please do so! That’ll help this video make sense… at least I hope! Now, as a preacher it’s often difficult to not hop down those rabbit trails… especially if we’re stuck at home. I did jump down one that only led me to a dust bunny. So Alice made me clean the house! That gave meaning to my life-for a few hours.
The primary way we do give true meaning to life is the pursuit of our relationship with God. Let me start by using the closing of the last video… A part of Albert Einstein’s ingenious answer to the question of the meaning of life was “you must be aware of God”.
So, true & lasting meaning is always wrapped around God, which means that chasing anything else means we’re running in the wrong direction & derails us from the right track adoring God & enjoying Him forever.
Again, I know this sounds like a simplistic & childlike answer to 1 of the greatest questions ever asked, but the answer it is nevertheless. The meaning of life is to be devoted to the pursuit of our relationship with God. Pursuit is a verb which means we must take action!
This bring us back to the passage from my last video: Heb 12:1b-14 NIV … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, & he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined and everyone undergoes discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet, "so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
OK, we’re to Share in God’s holiness- to be Holy- because without holiness no one will see the Lord. But what is holiness? What does being holy look like? How do we be holy? Why would we want to be holy? What are the benefits to being holy. Here’s a short set of answers.
The APeter helps us understand how to be holy in 1Pe 1:13-16 NIV Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
The Greek term for holiness means pure, sinless &/or upright behavior. Let’s defines this as right living- righteousness. For us holiness means to be exclusively set apart to & for God. For many the idea of holiness carries a bad taste & it’s not cool! It’s a form of legalism & inconvenient to our lifestyles! If so, then we have our glasses on backwards.
The New Testament’s concept of holiness is different than our current perception of it. Holiness is a glorious, desirable way of living that leads to true & lasting contentment & joy. Holiness pursued is how we get to see God & enter into a growing & intimate relationship with Him-something every true Christian desires & seeks. But it is a fight & a struggle!
Before we accepted Jesus as Lord & Savior, we chased after the Rabbit Trail list & we missed that the list owned us as we pursued it. But as believers a change of lists has begun! As God’s people, we’re set apart for Him & now called to live a new & different lifestyle, & our list reflects that!
Changing lists is the aspect of holiness that scares some people because we have to give something up! But it’s not scary because God’s list contains the meaning of life. & we need not fear because God hasn’t left us to achieve a righteous lifestyle all on our own. We read in: Php 1:6 NLT And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
As we chase after holiness, God is always right there with us, forming, discipling & giving us all that we need in order to live in an intimate relationship with Him. That’s the goal of Church, my goal… to try to help others live holier, happier, & productive lives in Jesus Christ.
That means we introduce Jesus to others & strive to help them deepen their walk with Him. I’ve read that this means we plant & water! But after planting & watering things can get a little muddy so we need to sacrifice our own selfish desires & be obedient to the will of God.
When the Rabbit Trail list don’t resonate with God’s list we find ourselves miserable & empty, & seeking more- another guitar, another car, just 1 more game! If we shop from our rabbit trail list instead of God’s, we’re blocked from understanding God’s will for us & finding true contentment & meaning in life.
Holiness is what pleases God! Pursing holiness only requires the desire to pursue obedience & strive to follow God’s guidance in how we live! Not our own direction;& certainly not the way of the world, but the Lord’s! & His standards are always to our benefit- big time benefit!
As you chase after holiness, you’ll be amazed how the daily crises of life diminish & fade & our joy & contentment grow. The trials that remain go from stressful to stress-lite as we focused on & trust Jesus! & please know that the end results will be lessons that brings us to greater happiness & personal-fulfillment!
Pastor Greg Laurie writes: “A happy person will be a holy person, because Jesus said in MT 5:8 NIV “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God". But is it even possible to be pure in heart? We think that being pure in heart means we can never have an impurity in our hearts or never sin.
But that’s not the purity that Jesus was seeking from us! & we’d all be disqualified because the Bible clearly teaches in Jer 17:9 ESV "the heart is deceitful above all things & is desperately sick".
In chasing after holiness we’ll truly see our heart-sickness & if we ask, God will faithfully answer if we pray the prayer so eloquently written in PS 51:10 NIV Create in me a pure heart, O God, & renew a steadfast spirit within me."
In the Hebrew culture, the heart referred to the spiritual center of our being & personality- who we are. But having a pure heart doesn’t mean we’re without flaws, faults or failures. It means we seek purely after God. Being pure in heart means a single-mindedness & focus on the Lord. A pure heart instills a spirit that desires to please Him in all things! Not merely external conduct, but our internal behaviors as well. It means we are devoted to Jesus.
So, in reality, a holy life is the secret to happiness. If you want to be happy, then seek to be holy. Don't chase after happiness. Chase after holiness. Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Titus, an early Christian pastor, evangelist & church leader: Tit 2:11-14 NIV For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Taking rabbit trails is easy. Our leanings towards sin & the temptations of the enemy pull us away from God’s presence. If we fail to take the time to be with God in prayer & listening; to read & be obedient to His Word; to enjoy the fellowship of fellow believers; & to be in service to each other, our community & our world; we become deceived about the actual state of our spiritual condition & formation which is what God calls us to.
Our chief aim, our purpose, the meaning of life is for us to glorify God & enjoy Him forever. That means God is our priority, the top of our list, above everything or anything that might be on our rabbit trail list. Holiness means we chase after understanding & doing God’s will, seeking His guidance in all things & following obediently. Glorifying God is the way to the happiness that we’re actually chasing.
You see personal-fulfillment is a rabbit trail…. What we truly want is personal fulfillment which can only be found in a personal relationship with God! Ps 1:1 tells us blessed is the one whose delights in the Lord.
Matthew Henry, a 17th Christian Bible Scholar explains that: “Those only are happy, truly happy, that are holy, truly holy,” & that “goodness & holiness are not only the way to happiness but happiness itself.”
300+ years later, no truer words can be found. Be blessed!