- COME TO A COMPLETE STOP
- Hebrews 12:1-2; Exodus 18:17-19
- Lyndol Loyd August 20, 2017
Today, we’re in the second week of a four-week series of messages called, “This Is Your Life.” Every single one of us has a story. The good news is that all of us have portions of our story that we’re really proud to tell. You get with some friends and say, “Hey, let me tell you about the time when I…” and you tell them when you overcame something or you accomplished something. We all have some part of our story that we’re really excited and proud to tell.
Unfortunately, all of us have parts of our story that we’re not so proud to tell. For some of us it’s a few pages that we’d rather rip out of our past. For others of us it’s not just a few pages, but it’s entire chapters of our story that we don’t want anybody to know about. The reality is we cannot change what’s already been written about our story.
But the good news is our future story is yet to be written. Last week I introduced the idea that this is not dress rehearsal. This is your life. Your one and only life, so we need to be intentional about how we live it and how we use it. The decisions that you make today determine the stories that you tell tomorrow.
In his book, “The Principle of the Path”, pastor Andy Stanley writes, “Direction not intention determines destination.” I like that a lot. The direction your story is moving, not what you intend to say one day, but the direction that you are heading determines the destination, not your intention.
If that is the case, then doesn’t it make sense for us to take the decisions that we’re making and try to play them forward in our minds and ask ourselves, “If I continue down this road, what story will I tell?”
That little exercise has helped me tremendously in the past. Last year when Joni and I were trying to find a house to buy for our move to Lubbock, the whole process was a bit overwhelming with trying to get our house in Orlando sold and to find the right house here and to make everything work together.
In the process of looking at houses there were some houses that were incredibly tempting to think about buying. “But this house is so great. It has everything we are looking for and then some. Sure it’s above the budget, but we’re already approved for that much of a mortgage. Maybe we should buy it?”
Then we stopped and thought about if we were to do that, where does this path lead us? Sure we would have a great house to live in, but we would be house poor. We wouldn’t be able to afford to do other things that we really do enjoy doing like eating out and going on vacation.
Play the story out, because I would have hated to do what I’ve done so many times in my life on the other end of a bad decision to say, “Oh, if I could only go back and do it over again! I wish I hadn’t done that!”
I can’t tell you, as a pastor, how many people I’ve sat with who are full of regret, deep regret, “I’d give anything to go over and do that again.”
The truth is that this is your life. How do you live a story worth telling? The verse that drives us through is found in Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we let Jesus help author the story of our lives? If we were so focused on Him that we were actually led by Him, and if we’re led by Him we will live a story worth telling.
In this series we’re focusing on the decisions we make. If you were here with us last week, we made a decision to start something; a new discipline.
Today we’re going to decide to stop. We’re going to look at a story in the Old Testament about Moses that many of you can relate to. Those of you who are single parents and you’re overwhelmed. Those of you that have a draining job and you just can’t get it all done. Those of you who are full-time students and you’re trying to work on top of school and you just feel overwhelmed.
Moses felt all of those feelings when he was so worn out by all of the problems that all of the people were bringing him, trying to get him to handle all of these different disputes. So, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came up to him and said, ‘You’re going to have to stop doing all of this’. Here’s the advice that Jethro gave him, Exodus 18:17-18, “’This is not good!’ Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 18’You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.’”
What if I told you today that you’re doing something that’s not good for your future story? What you’re doing is not good. You have a habit, you have a mindset, you have an addiction, you have an attitude, a thought process; you have something in your life that is not good for your future story.
“‘19Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. 20Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. 21But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 22They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. 23If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.’”
The good news is, Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said and Moses actually stopped trying to do everything, which in so many ways brought him to the story that we now tell about Moses.
Here’s what I want you to do today, I want you to think of one thing and one thing only that you’re doing that’s not good in your life. We’re going to commit that to God and ask Him to help us to stop doing what is not helpful to our future story.
Now, I want to give you a couple of reasons why to stop. There are many, but I want to give you two that you may not think of.
- You don’t know what you’re missing.
If you’re doing something that’s not good and then you don’t do it, you might find something on the other side really significant. It might give you this sense of, “Wow! Now I’m not overwhelmed, I’ve got margin and I’ve got time! Now my relationships are better!” or “Now I’ve got this peace and I’m not always looking over my shoulder wondering, am I going to get caught, or is this going to be bad for me, or is this going to mess me up? Now I’m not worrying.” You don’t know what blessings are on the other side of you stopping. You don’t know what you’re missing yet if you do stop doing something bad.
- You don’t know what it will cost you if you don’t.
If you’re doing something that’s not good and you don’t stop it, you have no idea how much it could cost you if you don’t stop. Think about Moses, play the story forward.
What could have happened to him if he continued to overwhelm himself and push it too hard? He could have had a nervous breakdown. It could have been that he got mad at God, “God you put this on me and these are your stupid people and so forget you God!” The Moses that wasn’t perfect, but that we know as a great man of faith, could have walked away from all of it and said, “It’s too much, just forget about it.” There’s no telling what it could have cost him if he didn’t stop.
I want you to think about what’s not good in your life and play the story forward. Where is this going? Direction, not intention, determines destination. What is the direction of your story right now? Play it forward. I might be a little dramatic in this exercise, but I mean to be because it serves a point.
Keep on ignoring your body. Keep on smoking or abusing your body in some way. Play the story forward, what’s going to happen?
Well, it could be you don’t walk your daughter down the aisle because you’re dead. You don’t ever see your grandkids because you’re not here. Or you battle the last twenty years of your life with health issues because of the decisions. Play the story forward.
Keep on partying with this really wild group of friends. Play the story forward, you’ve seen it; one gets a DUI, one ends up in jail, one gets in a fight, the lucky ones just take their chemical addictions on into their marriage and let it destroy their marriage over a twenty-year period very slowly. Just play the story forward.
Keep overspending, keep spending more than you make and play the story forward when you look at your son and say, “I’m sorry but you can’t play the sport you want to play because we can’t afford it.” Or, “I’m sorry but you can’t go to the school you want to go to because we can’t live in this house anymore.” Play the story forward.
So, let’s pause for a minute and backtrack to last week and I want to ask again the question: What does God want you to want in your life?
If you believe in God, chances are you can say, “Yeah, there’s probably something different that God wants in my life. God wants me to be more focused on my family, or to grow spiritually, or to get my finances under control, or take care of my body, or do something to make a difference in this world.” What does God want you to want? Now, here’s the application question:
In light of what God wants you to want, what do you need to stop? When you think about this, there are a couple of different levels you may think on; just pick one. Remember, if you pick seven, you won’t be successful at any. Just one thing you need to stop.
Some of you need to stop something externally. Maybe you need to stop getting wasted. You need to stop doing drugs. Some of you need to stop dangerous external behavior.
Others of you are mature enough to where you’ve stopped most of the dangerous external behavior. Don’t sit back and say, “Oh, look how good I am!” No, you need to stop something internally. I would argue all day long that the most dangerous force in the world is not external, but it’s our internal sin nature, that’s what will get us in the most trouble. You need to stop a bad attitude, a critical spirit, worrying, negative self-talk; whatever it is, you may need to stop something internally.
I made a list of some things for us to consider to get our minds going. Some of you really need to stop being a slave to social media . Some of you ladies, I just need to say, you need to quit looking at everybody else’s Pinterest and get your own interest! Get off of the thing and go there and be a wife, be a mom!
You know, “Oh, I got eight likes on Instagram, now my life has meaning!” No, get a life! Put the dog-gone thing down and go look at somebody! It’s fine to laugh, but some of you need to take it really seriously.
Some of you need to stop trying to control everybody and everything. You’re driving your kids away, you’re driving your spouse away; you need to stop being a control freak.
Some need to stop being critical and judgmental of everything, you pick everything apart; you’ve been picking this whole church service apart since you got here. Well, I can pick it apart too; picking me apart, I can pick me apart too; or maybe you can shut your picking brain up and get something from God if you’re not picking everything apart.
Some need to stop smoking. It’s not helping you, you need to stop.
Some, of you have an alcohol addiction you need to stop. Some need to stop hanging out with the wrong crowd, they’re taking you down.
Some need to break up with a stupid guy, “Oh but, he has so much potential! I know all of my friends and Mom and Dad and everyone who loves me tells me he’s no good, but they don’t know him like I do!”
Some need to stop overspending. Some need to stop eating junk food; it’s not your single-handed mission to keep Hostess out of bankruptcy, right? You just need to stop that stuff!
Some need to stop watching questionable movies or neglecting your family, or some need to stop blaming God for something God didn’t do. Quit blaming God.
What do you need to stop to tell the story God wants you to tell?
We’ll close out with this; I want to go back to Hebrews 12:1-2, but I want to start with the verse that comes before the part about Jesus being our Author and Perfecter of our faith. This is what the writer to the Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
If there’s something tripping up my story and my relationship with God and my future, I’m going to stop doing what will hinder my story:
“2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
When you fix your eyes on Jesus, I’m not just talking about behavior modification, anyone can do that; I’m talking about spiritual transformation, that you actually hear from God and God says, “This is hindering your future story.”
You may look at it and say, “But I’ve tried to stop and I can’t stop!”
I’m telling you, by the power of Christ, you can stop anything He calls you to stop! The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells within those of you who believe and you can, by His power, stop!
Why does it matter? It’s because the decisions that we make today determine the stories that we tell tomorrow. I don’t care what you want or what you hope, direction, not intention, determines destination. If you’re writing the wrong story, stop today.
You may say, “My story’s not perfect!” Neither is mine, but guess what? Our stories aren’t finished yet! Our Savior, Jesus, can help us live the story that He wants to tell. If you seek Him, you will find Him. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.