Dealing with Drift

Proverbs 4:23

I really struggled trying to figure out a way to introduce our text for this morning, so if this doesn’t make sense then forgive me.

In the fall of 2012 I was helping coach the boys soccer teams.  At the end of each practice the coaches would run set play drills playing offense or defense depending on the situation. One night during practice, as I was standing in the middle of a soccer pitch sucking wind, I decided that if I was going be involved in the boys lives I had to do something. I weighed 260 pounds, my knees and back constantly hurt, and playing soccer and basketball consisted of me standing in one place waiting for someone to pass me the ball.

The next day I joined a gym, got an app on my phone to count calories and 18 months later I had lost 60 pounds. (I’m the slim and trim guy on far right of the picture, I’m not the one getting married) I felt better than I had in a long time, could run with the boys, and forgot about my knees and back. I kept the weight off until we moved to Fayette in August of 2015. I didn’t really have a place to work out at first, and I don’t like to run on pavement. Someone brought a piece of cake to the office and I didn’t count those calories, and then I didn’t count lunch, and the app updated and I didn’t remember my log in information so I just quit counting calories all together. I really missed my friends and church family Texas and started to eat my feelings. When we moved to Anniston I thought it was time to get back on track. I joined the YMCA and had every intention of getting back on the app, but we are chasing boys from gym to gym, going to meetings, counseling sessions, and it’s quicker to just drive through Chick-Fil-A and pick something up. And while I am not back to where I was in 2012 I think that someone has put my favorite blue jeans in the dryer because they are getting pretty snug.   

If you were to ask me when we moved back to Alabama if I wanted to regain the weight I would have laughed at you. But the weight gain happened so gradually that I just kind of drifted to where I am today. I know how it happened, I wasn’t paying attention and my pants got tighter while the numbers on the scale just drifted a little higher every month until….         

Maybe you are wondering what this has to do with our text this morning. In Proverbs 4:23 Solomon writes Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. Solomon’s wisdom was from God, but also from understanding the human condition. While he asked God for wisdom, he also ignored God’s wisdom and had to learn some things the hard way.

If you read the Song of Solomon, you will read this beautiful love story between Solomon and a young woman who fall in love in the springtime. He tells her how beautiful she is, she tells him that he is strong and handsome. They sing love songs to one another, they sing about their feelings, their desires. It might be a bit steamy and mushy, but where else will you find lines like Your teeth are as white as sheep, recently shorn and freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin (4:2).

Doesn’t that just make your heart go pitter patter? That might not be your version of romance but trust me, Shakespeare wasn’t that good with words. Reading Song of Solomon you might imagine that these two got married, raised a family, and enjoyed growing old together. From this book it sounds like the perfect fairy tale life. But that’s not what happens.

We read in 1 Kings 3 that Solomon made a treaty with the Pharaoh of Egypt that included Solomon taking the Pharaoh’s daughter as a wife, which were both forbidden in the Torah. I don’t believe that Solomon was looking for another wife, he was interested in getting some political clout, the wife just happened. You could say he drifted into that relationship. There is nothing in this part of the text that mentions the young wife he sang love songs to back in his youth. I am not sure how she felt about this new woman in the house, but I can surmise she was not happy. And her sadness probably increased over the years because we are told in 1 Kings 11 that Solomon didn’t just have two wives, King Solomon loved countless women from other countries, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites, as well as Pharaoh’s daughter. He had 700 wives, as well as 300 mistresses. And his wives and mistresses seduced his heart away from God.     

I would imagine that if you asked the younger version of Solomon, the one who sang those love songs to the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, how he imagined his life would turn out he would have never said, I plan to have over 1,000 partners, set up temples for all kinds of false gods, join in child sacrifices in the worship of Molech, and basically have my kingdom ripped in two. No one wants their lives to be in shambles, no one wants to be far from God. But if we are not watching over our hearts, diligently guarding it, then we are prone to drift.   

Solomon wants us to realize that We drift when we fail to pay attention.

None of us are immune; none of us can afford to go merrily about our business, unconcerned with matters of sin and holiness. If that were the case, then the Scriptures wouldn’t be so full of appeals to be watchful and careful, and to guard our hearts.

Proverbs 4:27 Do not veer off course to the right or the left; step away from evil, and leave it behind.

Hebrews 2:1 This is why it is so crucial that we be all the more engaged and attentive to the truths that we have heard so that we do not drift off course.

Revelation 3:15-17 I know your works. You are neither cold with apathy nor hot with passion. It would be better if you were one or the other, but you are neither. So because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. You claim, ‘I am rich, I have accumulated riches, and I need nothing’; but you do not realize that you are miserable, pathetic, poor, blind, and naked.

The Bible draws us back to this idea that we need to pay attention to the quality of our spiritual lives; we need to carefully consider our obedience and devotion to Christ. Otherwise, we will slowly drift into the worlds way of thinking, speaking, and acting. If we’re not careful, worldly habits and attitudes will gradually creep in. They drift in so slowly that we won’t even realize it’s happening and like the Christians in Laodicea we will think we are alive and thriving when really all we are is luke warm.

When someone falls away from Christ; it’s usually a gradual process. Little by little, their taste for spiritual things diminishes. They lose their desire for holiness and their longing to know God. The spiritual activities which used to give them pleasure now seem dull and uninteresting. What used to be a blessing now seems like a burden. It gets to the point where we pray and study our bibles less and less, we find better things or more important things to do than gather with our church family. We make excuses about why we need to be somewhere else. We no longer care to spend time with our Christian friends. And as the world seduces us, our tolerance for sin in our own heart, and mind, and conduct, gradually increases. We are no longer concerned about avoiding sin and temptation.

But here’s the key, it doesn’t happen overnight. A person doesn’t change from being deeply committed to Christ on Tuesday, to being lukewarm or indifferent on Wednesday. And even when it appears that way, there has usually been a long period of time during which they have been making small compromises with sin in their own heart, a period of time during which their spiritual life has been slowly withering away. This process of decline is subtle and often barely noticeable, even to yourself. Just like the numbers on a scale that go up a half a pound at a time, there is really nothing that would cause you see the need to make a change. So you continue to drift, and what makes it all the more deceptive is that many people are able to keep up the outward appearance of religion. We look spiritual on the outside while our desire for God grows colder every day. 

Solomon drives this point home when he wrote, in Proverbs 24: I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

It’s not just our houses that fall apart because of a lack of care and attention, it’s true in every aspect of our lives. Our relationships with one another and with God will fall apart when we take them for granted. A field doesn’t fill up with weeds overnight, a stone wall won’t suddenly fall into disrepair. Decay is a gradual process. All it takes is time and neglect. Then, before we realize it, our spiritual life is full of thorns, and our fellowship with God is in ruins. And the real danger is that, by the time we wake up to what has happened, we usually don’t even care anymore.

This morning if you find yourself drifting, The good news is that you can get your passion back.

There was a family that was having a Birthday party. They decorated the house with streamers and helium balloons. During the middle of the party one of the balloons got loose and flew up to the top of the ceiling. No one was tall enough to reach the balloon, they tried to use a broom, climbed on a chair, but no matter what they did they couldn’t get it down. So they finally decided that it could just stay there. The next morning the woke up and found the balloon in the middle of the floor. Over night it had lost its ability to float and had come back down. Life has a way of taking the helium out of us, and instead of us rising to the occasion we just kind of lose our passion for God. That’s why Solomon reminds us to guard our hearts.

Can you remember when you first gave your life to Christ, you really understood that God loved you and you were all excited about it? But what happened as days turned to weeks and weeks turned to years? You began to drift away from God and you lost your enthusiasm. Now Christianity doesn’t seem like the abundant life Jesus promises us.  Actually Christianity seems kind of routine, kind of boring.

You need to be reminded that you were created to be passionate. Passion is what causes explorers to boldly go where no man’s gone before. Passion is what causes scientists to spend late night hours trying to find the cure to a dreaded disease. Passion is what takes a good athlete and turns him or her into a great athlete. You were created to have passion in your life. Jesus says in John 10:10 that I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect —life in its fullness until you overflow! Does your life have everything in abundance, does your joy overflow?

One day a man walks up to Jesus and he says, Lord, what’s the most important thing in the Bible?" What is the meaning in life, what is my purpose, how do I find fullfillment? Jesus said, ’Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy. (Mark 11:30) God is saying I want you to put some muscle into it, put some energy, put some emotion into your relationship with Me. Don’t be half-hearted. Give it all you’ve got. If you’re going to follow Me, I want you to live your life  passionately.

In fact, this truth is all through the Bible. The Bible tells us that we’re to seek God passionately. We’re to love God passionately; we’re to serve and obey God passionately. We’re to trust God passionately. We were created to find and live a life of passion.

Here’s the amazing thing, so very often we think it’s ok to be passionate about anything except God. It’s not politically correct to be passionate about God. I can be passionate about movies, and tell everyone about how great the acting, the music, the special effects are.

I can be passionate about my favorite team, how well we played, how great our coach is, how amazing that last minute throw and catch were.

I can be passionate about politics, about how my candidate is the best politician since Abraham Lincoln and your candidate is going to destroy the entire universe with their policies on toothpaste.

I can be passionate about fashions and clothes. I can talk about this great deal that I got, it was 70% off, or the feeling of the fabric, or how it hangs perfectly on my frame.

I can be passionate about restaurants. This place has the best pizza, hamburger, best chicken fried stake. Their cheesecake is out of this world.

But don’t be passionate about God. That’s a no-no, because if we are passionate about God then we believe there are things that are right and wrong. We believe in sin and grace. We believe in forgiveness, and sacrificing, and accepting, and loving one another. The result is that we live our entire lives wasting our passion because we are trying to be zealous about things that don’t matter.

Paul writes in Romans 12:1 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor. Paul also knew how easy it was to drift. Being passionate about God is something that takes work. We get so distracted by all of this periphery stuff and we allow sin to take us from God little by little. SO Paul also reminds us to keep our passion, our fires going. 

One of the things that struck me this week, is how difficult it is to be passionate about God when I am feeling guilty about the sin in my life. Nothing robs me of my joy and passion for God quicker than the guilt I feel about the sin in my life. I can empathize with David who wrote My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear... I am bowed down and I am brought low. (Psalm 38:4 and 6)

Maybe you can empathize with those feelings of guilt as well. Some of us here this morning are feeling overwhelmed right now. It didn’t start this way, but we drifted, taking on a little more guilt every day and now we find ourselves struggling with a burden that is too heavy to bear. The joy in your life is gone, the passion has left. I mean you are putting on brave face, trying to play the part, but the guilt is just overwhelming you. Let me share some good news, you have a chance to get it right. Because Jesus has already done all that’s needed to be done to deal with our guilt.

1 John 1:9 says But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done. That’s His promise. To confess just means you agree with God. You just say, God, I agree with You. It’s a sin. What I did was wrong and I want to begin to live a life that is passionate about You. But for whatever reason we choose to wait. We want to try to figure it out ourselves, or wait for a better time and and we continue to carry guilt around for weeks, months, days when God is offering you forgiveness. 

At one time you probably knew how God felt about you, but life happened and you drifted away from this truth. In Exodus 31:14 we read You must worship only the Lord, for He is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you. Moses needed to remind the Children of Israel and the Church at Greenbrier that God is passionate about us, He is hopeless in love with us. He made you to love you. You were created as an object of His love. We seem to have this idea that we are scum and worms and that God hates us. That is false doctrine, and heresy.

God is passionate about you, and the more you understand how much He loves you, the more you are driven to love Him in return. But we must continue to guard our hearts because we are prone to drift. We are prone to get so busy doing other things, important things like watching television or looking at social media on our phones, that God ceases to be a priority in our lives. The result is that we forget how much He loves us.

The way we keep from drifting is to anchor ourselves in His love. This morning Jesus is calling to you reignite your passion for Him. He is calling you to come back to the cross and find your passion.

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