"Sunday Sidebar"

Each week, Pastor Penny includes an article in the Sunday bulletin about the sermon topic,

providing historical background, contextual information, and other points of reference. 

Sunday Sidebar- October 27, 2019

Why is Life So Hard?

    You and I happen to live in a day and age when just about anything goes.  If it feels good, do it; if you want something, take it; if anyone tells you “no,” do whatever YOU want to do (who are THEY to tell you no, anyway?).  And if you break a rule or two, well, if nobody knows, then nobody can care and rules are for sissies anyway.  Who needs rules?  Who made all these rules and why should they apply to me?  It’s almost as if the greatest “failure” of our time is not so much doing the wrong thing, as it is, getting caught!

     Such rhetoric is a far cry from the biblical invitation to live your life in God’s world, on God’s terms, in healthy relationship with God, creation, and other people.  Instead of putting God first, others second and self last, we witness time and again a  narcissistic focus that slowly eats away at our God-given potential, and erodes both our moral compass and our humanity.   Is there anything to be done about it?

     Perhaps the Scriptures could offer us a little guidance?  2 Chronicles 7.14 invites us to refocus our attention on God:   If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land  (NKJV).

     Of course, to humble ourselves means we have to realize that it’s not all about us, and the world isn’t here to serve us and we  will need to lessen our grip on that sense of entitlement we value so highly.  We will have to reclaim a relationship with God, by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and begin praying to Him.  And we have to place ourselves under the authority of God by acknowledging his power and sovereignty, for we do not really belong to ourselves.  We belong to God.

1 Corinthians 6.19-20 (NKJV):

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 

And finally, we have to turn from our wicked ways...turn from sin.  And that’s a BIG part of the challenge, isn’t it?  We are quite fond of some of our sins, and we really don’t even like to think of our misbehaviors and moral failures as sins.  We much prefer the tolerant, relative morality of our culture...

     But human beings don’t get to set morality.  God does.  And God has clearly offered us rules and commandments that  enhance life in community (if we choose to live by them).  God’s rules are not restrictive and fun-crushing, but rather they bring order and security, joy and fulfillment to human life.   They actually free us from bondage to sin!  How did the prophet Isaiah put it?

Isaiah 30.1,15  (NKJV)

     1“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, “who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit…”

     15For thus says the LORD God, the Holy One of Israel:  “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

     Why is life so hard these days?  And why do we find such little peace and joy?  Perhaps it has to do with the growing distance between us and our Creator; between God’s ways….and our ways….

     Jesus himself said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”   (Matthew 11.28-29 NKJV).  

Are you yoked to Jesus, these days? 

Or are you yoked to sin?

New Bethel United Methodist Church

131 N. Main ST, Glen Carbon IL 62034


Office @newbethelumc.org

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