Life’s Questions – Week 42 Notes

By November 3, 2019 Sermon Notes

Food, Air, Water, Sleep are the big four physical necessities: how long can you go without them?

Food…depends on a few factors. But the average is 8-12 weeks…the longest documented case is 25 weeks.

Water: You have about 3-7 days…again depending on some factors.

-But needless to say…after a short period it wouldn’t be fun.

Air: Oxygen: The world record for a free diver(Tom Sietas) is 22 minutes without suffering brain damage. Long time…he trained, and he is a physical anomaly in terms of lung capacity.

That’s the world record…the rest of us have something less than 22 minutes.

Sleep: No one knows exactly how long you can go…this is one of the four physical necessities that tends to take care of itself for the most part.

You can be in a situation where there is no water, food, or air available…but sleep is not in the same category.

The documented record is around 11 days…though by the end of the experiment he was technically awake but completely dysfunctional.

The man who did this, Randy Gardner, was 17 at the time, it was in 1963.

Why hasn’t it been broken?

Guinness book of world records won’t take any more records like this…it’s really bad for you.

It gained him lasting fame…but he wishes he hadn’t done it.

He said he lost the ability to sleep well…he blames it on those 11 days.

Food, water, air, sleep…very obvious human physical needs.

But they are actually four sub-components of just one of the truly “Big four” factors of human thriving.

They fall under the physical realm

But there are three others: spiritual, mental/emotional, and relational…that are essential to human thriving.

In fact, essential to human survival.

I say this because there have been many people with access to ample: food, water, air, and sleep…who have died for lack of relationship, lack of hope, or the result of wrong thinking patterns.

This month as we continue our year of looking at the authority of the Bible and its ability to speak clearly and accurately to all aspects of our lives…we are going to look at gratitude to God as a key component of all human thriving.

We will do this by looking at gratitude in relationship to those four pillars of resiliency: Physical, relational, mental/emotional, and spiritual.

Today: Gratitude and physical health

Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Mak-shayn)

-Was a brilliant, passionate, driven man…Graduated from the University of Edinburgh at age 14, led congregation of over a 1000 at age 23…and he worked so hard that his health was broken.

Before dying at age 29 he wrote, “God gave me a message to deliver and a horse to ride. Alas, I have killed the horse and now I cannot deliver the message.”

Today the imbalanced view of the body can fall off the wall on either side…too much attention (importance) given to the physical or too little.

We want to focus on balance…and balance is aided by the practice of gratitude.

Let’s read this passage together:

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Background:

Jumping in on chapter 10 of Paul’s letter is sort of like watching the 10th episode of a TV series…you don’t really know where you are and you can come to some wrong conclusions about his point if you don’t know the context.

So, let’s briefly…catch up on context before we proceed.

Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, a city in Greece, to correct some problems in the church and to encourage them in some things they were getting right…not as many things they were getting right.

The immediate context for the passage that we read starts in chapter 8.

There Paul addressed the controversial topic of whether Christians should eat food sacrificed to idols.

The non-Christians who lived in Corinth often participated in religious ceremonies where animals were sacrificed to idols.

Only a part of the meat was burned in the ceremony the rest was taken home by the priest and/or the family…they either ate it themselves or sold it in the marketplace…at a discount.

It was bargain meat…and some thrifty Christians were taking advantage of the opportunity.

But it was causing a lot of problems…a church counsel at Jerusalem (Acts 15) had decided it was best if Christians didn’t eat the meat offered to idols…it just wasn’t worth the potential problems to save a few bucks.

The specific problems were: It was hindering the testimony of the church among non-believers and causing new believers to stumble in their faith.

Paul addresses the issue himself by laying out the facts of the case in chapters 8,9,10.

He addresses some very specific issues…but the principles involved are universal in their scope.

So don’t get hung up on the specifics…pay close attention to the big picture here.

Here’s Paul’s main points:

  1. Idols are nothing, there is one God…no power, no threat in them.
  2. So eating the cheap meat means nothing…it is not “tainted” it’s just meat.
  3. However, if it is causing some unbelievers or new believers to struggle or stumble…don’t eat it.
  4. Don’t use your freedom ( if you know the meat is just meat) to harm others who are not there yet in their thinking…they might join you because you are doing it even though they believe it is wrong…and in so doing violate their own conscience.
  5. He then gives the fuller picture to consider.

-These idols are nothing and the meat is just meat

-But the demonic powers behind the idol worship…they are not nothing…so be careful with what you are messing around with.

-Sure you can eat the meat…no overt sin in it…but should you?

-Will hanging around these settings, living on the edge of boundaries just because you can…help you or will they potentially enslave you?

The right question is not “can I?” But “should I?”…does it help me and others?

*Like children who walk right up next to something you said “no” to…and standing there with their finger an inch away…technically, they have not disobeyed…but in their hearts…another question.

*That is a very high-level summary but you get the picture…or the context.

Now back to our passage.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Now that you know the context you can see the two primary principles that emerge here:

  1. Do whatever you do (eating and drinking and in fact…everything else) for the glory of God.
  2. Do what you do for the good of others…forgo the expedient or what might benefit only yourself for the good of others…you “can” but should you? Will it show love?

You see the great commandment of Jesus “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength…and love others.”…being fleshed out here in a practical way.

The glory of God and the good of others…in specific life choices…what you eat and drink…and by implication…whatever else you do.

Paul wrote that he tried to “please everybody in every way”…this must be read in context.

The context is “don’t use your freedom to serve yourself but rather to serve others.”

He said in Galatians 1:10 “If you live as a people pleaser you can’t possible live to please Christ.”

So clearly he is not saying…”I do whatever people want me to do.”

But rather “I serve Christ, by looking to the needs of others ahead of my own.”

It would not be a good application to try and please everyone no matter what…besides being impossible it would be terribly unhelpful and personally harmful to even try.

To use an analogy what Paul is saying is he lives more like a Parent…who is free to eat dessert before dinner… but he choosing not to because a child is watching…so he forgoes his adult freedom for the good of the child.

In fact he uses a word that indicates he had this in mind…he says “follow my example as I follow Christ’s”

The word he uses that is translated “follow my example” is the Greek word we get our word “mimic” from.

Mimic is what a child does when watching their mom or dad…they try to repeat what they see.

Paul has clearly set this example in front of them…the example of putting others first…

And in doing this…he was following Christ’s example himself

They were to mimic him as he mimicked Christ.

This was not arrogance on Paul’s part to say “follow me” but rather it was good leadership.

God called him to set the pace…just as he calls us to become mature “pacesetters” for others.

Nearly everyone in this room has people who are watching…we should be able to say to those who are watching our lives…”follow me as I follow Christ.”

That may seem unrealistic but it’s not about Christlike perfection but Christlike direction.

Paul knew he wasn’t perfect…and he said so in another letter…”I’ve not already attained this or been made perfect…but I press on towards the goal.”

Paul was demonstrating for them…the pursuit of the lifestyle of Christ.

His settled direction was “Christ-ward”

If they followed him as he followed Christ…they were following Christ.

*Of course Paul would be the first to say…”Where I fail to follow Christ, don’t follow me.”

Here…he is clearly following Christ…choosing to live for the glory of God and the good of others.

This is a great challenge…a helpful challenge…the way we live our lives should help others live in a Christlike way…this is not for the few “super spiritual” it is for all us.

Christ is the target and God uses people in our lives we are relationship with as close up crosshairs in the scope to get a fix on Christ.

People around us are living examples of biblical truth applied in real life.

Paul was acting as a living example that the church at Corinth could use to get a good fix on following Christ.

So let’s take the principles here in this passage and apply them to the physical pillar of resiliency.

Whether you eat or drink…or whatever you do…Seek the glory of God and the good others.

What are implications here for physical resiliency?

  1. Physical health (life) is NOT the goal…the glory of God and the good of others is.

This is an important balancing factor in how we see our bodies…our physical lives…how we live in them.

  1. Our bodies do not belong to us…they are temples, dwelling places of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Our bodies are the means by which we love others.
  3. Physical resiliency/balance is intertwined with relational, mental, and spiritual resiliency.

As we have discussed this fall…we are not like peas, carrots, potatoes on a plate…we are more like stew…distinct parts of who we are…are blended together and interdependent.

  1. Physical health (life) is NOT the goal…the glory of God and the good of others is.

I said last week that the verses that speak to physical health are always in the context of overall life balance.

We are to neither worship our physical bodies nor to despise them.

We tend to have trouble getting the balance right ourselves…we either put too much weight on the physical or not enough.

Like Goldilocks and the three bears…this bed is too hard, this bed is too soft…this bed is just right.

In our culture…body worship/the worship of health and physical pleasure is the most prominent imbalance.

I don’t need to elaborate on the movies, TV shows, songs, ads that demonstrate this…you are fully aware how dominate this theme is in our culture.

We cannot help but be influenced by it…we must be aware of this fact…so we can act decisively against it.

Proverbs 27:20 says “Death and hell are never satisfied and neither are the eyes of man (people)”

What this means is that death never says “I’m good…ya’ll can stop dying now…no more room.”

In the same way the eyes of mankind a phrase that means “desire” never says “I’m good…thanks.”

When we give unbridled release to what our bodies/desires demand…it leads to permanent discontent and unhappiness.

The California fire that is burning down forests and homes will never suddenly say “Oh my, I couldn’t eat one more tree…I’m just stuffed.”

Feed fire and it demands more food.

The same is true when humans make their own physical lives priority…we are never satisfied.

Desire is like fire…it is neutral in itself…but it can lead to great good or great evil.

Fire in the fireplace…provides warmth and beauty…fire running loose through your home destroys.

So desire must either be starved…or satisfied with something greater.

The starvation approach works to a degree…but it doesn’t transform us.

Many have tried to become like Christ by simply starving desire…to get to a positive place by purely negative choices.

*Don’t, don’t don’t…in order to “do become like Christ.”

Much to their dismay it has not worked…Paul addressed this in Col. 2…merely trying to discipline yourself does not actually lead to change.

Discipline is helpful…as a part of a larger strategy to become like Christ.

We must let our desires take us to Christ…we must learn to let him satisfy.

If this sounds strange and impractical…it is not…we can in fact… in real and tangible ways…”Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

“How does that help me with a food or alcohol addiction…or even dieting or exercising or sleeping?”

“How does Tasting the Lord impact my desire for sexual pleasure that has gone out of bounds?”

When our desires are ordered around relationship with Christ…then they are under our dominion, as we are under his…they become our servants not our masters.

Desire itself…can learn to be satisfied with what Christ provides…fire in the fireplace…beautiful, life sustaining not life destroying.

I start with this point…physical health is not the goal…because it is so important to overall balance.

No one gets out life alive or healthy…death is the final “disease”

If physical health is the goal and physical pleasure the ultimate pursuit…then final failure is everyone’s destiny.

But the goal is the glory of God…the ultimate pursuit is faithfulness to him.

So as Paul wrote elsewhere “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

In other words “Win/Win” in regard to our bodies, is the reality for the Christian.

Let’s go on.

  1. Our bodies do not belong to us…they are temples, dwelling places of the Holy Spirit.

Israel became confused and began to attribute power and meaning to the temple of God rather than the God of the temple.

In Jeremiah the people had turned in their hearts and lives far from God and Jeremiah said that God was going to judge them…they would lose their nation and the Temple.

They thought “No way…we are special…after all…we have the Temple of the Lord.”

Jer. 7:4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly…then I’ll let you live here and thrive.

Jeremiah “Hey, you need to honor God with your actions…love each other…don’t just think legacy with God, a building is enough…you guys need to…

“Can’t hear you…Temple of the Lord…temple of the Lord…”

The Temple of the Lord took the place of the Lord of the temple…they lost their way…with terrible consequences.

The glory of God is the goal of life in these bodies…these Temples of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever physical health we experience…we have it in order to glorify God with it.

Our physical bodies are stewardships…temples for his glory.

The responsibility of a steward is to be found faithful in the eyes of the owner…with that stewardship.

1 Cor. 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Your body is where the “Holy Spirit” dwells…your life, your physical and spiritual self were bought at a price…the death of Christ.

So glorify God…set him apart as Lord…with how you live in your body.

This all sounds absurd to a culture focused on pleasure/body worship…but what is absurd is that so many continue to try and live in a way that has never worked…body worship/pleasure pursuit as a lifestyle will always fail.

The alternative to a focus on body/pleasure…is not to attempt to deny the reality of our bodies and physical pleasure.

But to care for our bodies and live with gratitude as an overall approach to life…to live in our bodies as grateful stewards of God’s gift.

We should take better care of what belongs to someone else than what merely belongs to us.

If the car is yours…you’re free bang it up, not put in oil in it…may not be smart…but it’s not wrong…your car.

But if the car is not yours…you are using it, but it belongs to another person…you are wrong to not care of it.

The care of our physical bodies includes: diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, recreation.

All this is a component of being stewards…being found faithful.

I think you can argue…to not take care of it is wrong.

“But I’m sick or injured or old…my body is in poor condition…what is my stewardship?”

It is the same for all us…to be found faithful with what God has given us.

*If you think you been given a junker of a body (you haven’t) but if you think you have…it’s still not your body…take care of it.

We are to faithfully, and with gratitude, live in our bodies…without the desperate fear of loss that many live with life.

Loss of health, life, pleasure…fear of loss is the engine that drives many lives.

It is not that these things don’t concern us, or cause us to struggle with fear…they do.

It is that we are not controlled by fear of loss…we are continually getting back on the altar as living sacrifices and back under the domain of faith not fear.

We trust God not health…we pursue Christ, not his gifts…this is a continual, life long process.

The result of living as stewards is that we are positioned to enjoy life in the body more than those who worship body and pleasure…and fear the loss of both.

I have been fascinated at the studies that have demonstrated that people who pursue a life of live out faith, consistently rate their own everyday lives with higher levels of pleasure and satisfaction than those who don’t.

This is true for people of lived out faith…whether they are very healthy or experiencing poor health.

Satisfaction in our bodies is tied to purpose in our lives…the gospel…the glory of God and the good of others is to be the focus of our lives.

  1. Our bodies are the means by which we love others.

Later in this letter Paul uses the analogy of a physical body to describe how we are to live in relationship to one another in the church.

He says just as the human body has many members (parts) so too does the church…the body of Christ.

These members have different functions but they all work together for the good of one another…hand, foot, mouth, eyes…different gifts.

He lists some of the ways this happens

In all cases the use of spiritual gifts involves the use of the human body…minds, mouths, brains, hands…lead by the Holy Spirit…to serve others in the real world.

The Holy Spirit works through human bodies…to honor God and to serve others.

  1. Physical resiliency/balance is intertwined with relational, mental, and spiritual resiliency.

We will look at this more closely as the month goes on.

But you see in the life of Elijah, for instance.

Sitting in despair…having suicidal ideations…he was tired, he was hungry, he felt isolated (he thought he was the only one still following God), he felt abandoned by God.

There are the four pillars…right there.

God showed up…first he fed him, let him sleep…then God spoke to him and said you are not alone others are following me, cleared up his thinking, then gave him his next assignment.

All four pillars right there.

When the young man who broke the sleep record…later had trouble sleeping…he also had a lot of trouble with relationships…this is the physical touching the relational.

Trouble in relationships leads to mental trouble…leads to spiritual trouble.

Balance between the factors of human thriving is important…we need to give attention to all of them.

Balance is hard to gain and to maintain…but the resources of God are perfectly suited to help lead us to balance.

The Word of God, the Spirit of God, the People of God….must be continually engaged.

But we will not thrive, not really and not long term if we try to live outside his resources.

Proverbs 19:3 “when a man’s own folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.”

Many a person has rejected God’s resources for a resilient life…then they begin to struggle in life…then they blame God for what is happening to them.

APPLICATION:

Gratitude is the appropriate response to the gospel.

-What Christ has done for us is undeserved and infinitely rich

Gratitude is the essential attitude of the thriving and balanced life

-A continually response to God, of gratitude, is transformational for us

Since all of life is a gift…including our physical bodies…then continual gratitude is essential for living in the world as it really is…the earth is the Lords and everything in it.

A Psychology today article has “7 Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude”

A Harvard Medical school article has “Giving thanks makes you healthier”

You can find about a million similar articles online…gratitude is good for you.

And gratitude is just good…it is right.

How might gratitude shape how you live in your body? How might it change your bodily pursuits?

How might it help you find balance?

“Whatever you do whether in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col. 3:17

As you move through this week…in the borrowed vehicle that is your body…do what you do for the glory of God and the good of others…giving thanks all along the way.

So just say “thank you” this week…do it a lot.

Look for reasons to say “thank you”…there are a lot

Do this all week…as a part of doing this all month…then pay attention to what happens in and around you as you do.

Gratitude…is a choice that aligns your mind and life with the world as it really it…It all belongs to God, all we have is a gift…gratitude is the appropriate response.

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