Mr. Wells gave an excellent sermon yesterday, and I figured the notes were worth typing up here for anybody to read. There's nothing new here, but these are good principles to guide us as we get closer to T-Day (Tribulation).
I Thes. 4 states that we must awake and look at our current spiritual condition. II Cor. 6:14 and II Tim. 3:1 - Don't be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Do we see the state of this world and its many problems? How does that affect us? Are we willing to flee its attitudes and its actions? This world denies God's power and instruction although they talk as though they know Him. Men continue to learn endless knowledge, but never come to an understanding of God's way. Rather, they follow a perverted form of truth -- Satan's. Regardless, we cannot leave the true knowledge that we are called to receive and live according to.
James 4 discusses how man's opinions and false knowledge cause disputes, fighting and wars. Why? Because of our selfishness, lust and covetousness! Our jealous nature causes so many problems. We want what others have! However, we don't get these desires because we don't ask God with the right attitude IF we ask at all! Self-will rules many of our lives and most do not surrender to God. God resists a proud and "I know better" attitude. However, He gives more earnestly to those who truly humble themselves and seek God. We need to fully submit to God and resist the accusational attitude of Satan.
Only God can fully judge and solve our problems, so only total faith in Him will allow us to come to a lasting solution. It is usually when we ask for God's intervention that He is more likely to intervene. We should ask believing that He already wants to help and has a solution... We are merely catching up with His plan. However, if we don't ask, we are, in essence, asking God to intervene in a way and at a time that we may not be asking for!
Recognize (v. 9) that life is not all about our rewards, pleasure or happiness. We must be willing to see the awfulness of the world and its need for God. Many times, we require trials to really be humbled when we aren't willing to humble ourselves. Deaths of friends and family, sickness, war, fear, persecution, extreme poverty and natural disasters will get our attention and make us take note of our spiritual condition for a time. But again, God would rather us humble ourselves, which will last longer.
Stop speaking evil of others and purify your mind from condemning, unclean and perverse thoughts. I Pet. 5:5 speaks in a similar manner to James. Submit to elder, wiser and more spiritual people. Solid people. Surrender your willfulness to everyone! In other words, stop talking and do more listening. Even when people aren't as old or experienced as you, at least hear them out (think of Job's story) and deeply think about what was said. Be willing to be entreated or reasoned with! He who humbles himself will eventually be exalted by God.
Col. 2:20 - How we humble ourselves must not be purposely visible just to impress others, like monks taking vows of silence and celibacy or fasting with sackcloth and ashes. We must, rather, be clothed with humility, saturated by it!
I Peter 5:6-10 - Satan is waiting to pick off the sick-minded and spiritually weak members of the flock like a lion would. Rather, cast your cares, concerns, worries, disputes and problems on God because He wants to help! But sometimes He requires us to have the willingness to ask Him or change ourselves through a humble attitude while seeking His will in the matter. We cannot just ask for something to be solved the way we want it to be. God is willing let us suffer until we get this principle, but only to perfect, establish, settle and strengthen us. Our first reaction to every problem in our life should be to bring it before Him seeking His will!
Matt. 5:3 - The beatitudes are a description of godly humility we need to overcome and grow and change. We cannot have pride or vanity. We must mourn this world's and our own sins. We should be teachable and yielding all while hungering and thirsting for God's very nature. Have mercy on others and be more than willing to forgive them. (When a decision of judgment or mercy arises, err on the side of mercy.) Seek a pure heart and cast out selfishness and evil thoughts. Make peace with others! Allow yourself to be persecuted without causing it yourself. Finally, rejoice and be glad for God's ultimate reward. It will be ours if we do all these things!