There are five specific “downstream pulls” of current against which we must pull if we are to make it upstream to the destination God has called us. The five currents are: past experiences, present life circumstances, people in our lives, personality (our own sinful nature) and principalities (spiritual warfare).
I began really examining these as a result of a little man that God brought into my life, my son named Aaron. From his first moments outside the womb he was hit with the reality that life was less than comfortable (broken collar bone). As he grows, he will find life appears at times to grow, year by year, in harshness.
Everyone I know sets out on the journey with high ideals, but few skills and little understanding of how to conquer the obstacles before them.
It is an awesome responsibility to be one of the primary molders of a life. The challenge, in view of the downstream pulls is awesome:
He will learn his first words of life in our living room.
Take his first steps into our arms.
As a dad, I’ll have the unique opportunity to teach him what it means to do an honest day’s work, catch a ball, be a man.
I’ll have responsibilities in teaching my little boy what values I cherish, truths I hold dear.
My own dad is a quiet man, but with his life he has spoken volumes. I know from him that consistency is the primary vehicle I can use to mold Aaron. The only way for my little boy to understand life is for Dottie and I to model it in front of him. We will try to protect him from the harshness of life, but it will eventually be futile and even foolish!
Sooner or later he must learn to confront challenges. As much as we hate the thought, he may well have to face tragedy in his little life ahead. Unless he is equipped for it, he will be a defeated person.
Some Christians never really realize the pull of the current against them. Some think their relationship with Christ guarantees an exemption from the pain and difficulties of life. Yet we all live in a fallen world, and our emotions are subject to the same pain as our lost neighbor. We must proceed realizing that!
How do I move upstream against the flow? What makes one person thrive and move ahead while others around him flounder in blame and self defeat, when both have a desire to walk in their new life in Christ? Last week we began to examine this:
1. Every Christian needs to understand the reality of the current against them and honestly confront their past experiences, present circumstances, people’s affect on them, effect of their sinful desires. Failure to do so will bring defeat followed by surprise over defeat! We must not just cling to heaven while earth slides beneath us!
2. Every believer needs to draw near to God’s presence in worship and adoration, drawing strength from sharing God’s powerful presence, THAT IS WORSHIP.
GROWING GOOD FRUIT IN MY LIFE REQUIRES CAREFUL AND RESPONSIBLE MANAGEMENT OF MY HEART.
Joseph was a man who I believe that Scripture uses to give us (by example) at least five specific “paddles” to move upstream with.
Read Genesis 44:1-13, 16, 45:1-5; 50:19-20 and tell story.
Let’s walk with this man Joseph for awhile. He keeps being pushed down by the current, yet he ends upstream. I want to know why! I want to know how! Let’s journey through some principles by looking into some SNAPSHOTS out of the album of his life:
I. First, I note that he was given the ability to respond to his situation (Gen 39:1-4) “served” Mr. Potiphar.
*What made my dad wake up at 5:30 AM, read his Bible, drink his coffee and head off for a job he hated, while my grandfather worked as little as possible, and drank away his paycheck?
*RESPONSE ABILITY means I have the ability to buck the natural and instinctive path!
*In my family we ate from one large pot of the meal. If you were complacent about what was “for dinner” that night, my brothers would gladly “take off your hands” your portion. Important lesson in life: “Take what you are given, or you may find you have nothing at all.”
*You cannot change the menu of life by complaining about the selection, nor by wishing for tastier portions. You must take what you are given and spice it with positive responses.
II. Next, I note he held himself responsible for his choices, rather than wasting energy on the blame game (Gen 39:20-21). “Lord with Joseph” equals “Joseph with Lord”!
*God gets blamed for so much by evangelical believers. I wish I had a nickle for all the people that use “God’s will” to cover their irresponsible nature. I remember the college friend who “God lead” to drop out mid semester. They next semester “God lead” them back. Then “God lead” them to drop again. Finally some of us began asking God to make up his mind!
III. Third, I note that he emphasized responsibility over rights consistently throughout his lifetime (Gen. 39:22-23), regardless of circumstance. “Committed to Joseph”
We live in the unprecedented KNOW AND HAVE YOUR RIGHTS age. Watching Daytime TV, you may see 1-800-SUE-THEM, or some form of it. Some believers hold onto “rights” to hold grudges, bitterness from the past. The thought of letting someone “off the hook” is unthinkable! Remaining a victim is a unique way of manipulating circumstances to make someone else responsible for their inability to move upstream.
IV. Fourth, I see him as one who lived proactively rather than simply reactively: he turned passive introspection into constructive activity (Gen 40:6-8).
Proactive means positive choices based on values, rather than circumstances or emotional feelings: Whenever I was really down, like a caring and loving mother, my mom would hand me a broom and “let” me sweep the garage!
V. Finally, he recognized limits to his responsibility, and saw God’s hand at work in circumstances beyond his control (Gen 45:5; 50:19-20).
We must identify the areas we are accountable for in our lives, and the part that is simply beyond our control. Taking responsibility for someone else’s reactions will drive us crazy, while not taking full responsibility for ours will pull us downstream into defeat cycles. Unless we come to grips with the limits of our responsibility, we will burn our energies and end up neglecting our true responsibilities!
In my life I must:
1. Know that my response is my responsibility.
2. Hold myself accountable for response rather then blame someone for the circumstances surrounding my response.
3. Emphasize responsibility not my rights.
4. Do what is best regardless of circumstances or feelings.
5. Recognize the limit of my responsibility and leave the rest with God.