Wow, the “Ideal Family” sermon series got off to a powerful and challenging start last Sunday. For those who missed the message (which is available on this website), here are three thoughts from the notes that lay the foundation for this coming Sunday’s study:
- Are we willing to embrace an ideal, knowing that we may not always live up to it; or are we going to abandon the ideal and call our shortcomings “normal”?
- When you embrace an ideal that you know you will never fully live up to, you experience the tension between the ideal and the real.
- We must never give up on the ideal!
The word “intentional” was used often last Sunday because there is no hope of getting beyond the real and moving toward the ideal without being intentional. For example, you don’t get a pot of water boiling to make pasta without intentionally turning on the stovetop burner.
However, it would be really easy to confuse the phrase “being intentional” with “trying harder.” Thankfully, for a believer in Jesus it is not about “trying harder” but rather “cooperating more.” Jesus tells us that without Him we can do nothing – but that we can do all things through Him (John 15:5 and Philippians 4:13).
I was talking and praying once with a man who was exhausted and discouraged from “trying harder” but still struggling in his career and family. We asked the Lord if there was anything He wanted to reveal to this man about all his efforts to try harder. Here is what the man shared as we were praying:
He had a distinct image of himself in a big field pulling a plow that would normally be attached to a horse or ox. He shared how exhausted and discouraged he was for he felt totally responsible for getting the vast field plowed but it took great effort to pull the heavy equipment. I asked if he sensed the Lord trying to show him something. The man quickly said, “Oh, Jesus is walking alongside me.” Intrigued by this, I suggested the man tell Jesus how tired and dejected he was. So he shared with the Lord, after which he relayed that Jesus had offered to get under the yoke with him and they could plow the field together.
The man quickly accepted the offer but sat silently for a few minutes as the Lord shared the following conditions with him:
- It is My responsibility to get the field plowed; it never has been yours; therefore,
- You must plow at the speed and in the direction I go
The man agreed to those terms and reported a lifting of the burden and anxiety he had been feeling. However, a few minutes later he had a baffled and pained look on his face. Unexpectedly the load had gotten overwhelming again. I asked where Jesus was. He said the Lord was walking alongside the plow again, not under the yoke where He had been a minute ago. I encouraged the man to ask the Lord what had just happened and here is what the man heard Jesus say:
“You got worried again about getting the field plowed and you started pushing to go faster. Son, I am not going to fight you. If you are not willing to go at My speed and in My direction, I will just walk along side and let you do what you believe you must.”
Trying harder is pulling the plow by yourself; being intentional involves walking with Jesus, at the speed and in the direction He is going.
This Sunday Pastor Dale will continue the “Ideal Family – Real Family” series. In preparation for our time of study let me encourage you to read the following verses:
• Matthew 11:28-30 – His yoke, His speed, His direction
• John 11:1-44 – sometimes His speed will frustrate us; especially note verse 6 and 40
• 1 John 1:5-8 – Jesus does not walk in darkness
• 1 John 2:3-6 – if we are walking with Jesus we will purpose to obey God just as He did
• 1 John 2:15-17 – if we are intentionally moving in the direction Jesus is going, we will not end up in the middle of craving, lusting and boasting
P.S. Weekend to Remember getaway on June 6-8 at The Westin Lake Mary. Making sound marriages stronger, giving hope to struggling marriage. David and Celba Alfonso recently attended a Weekend to Remember and will be in the lobby Sunday to share their experience and assist with registration for this event.