Back to Normal?

The word normal is getting used a lot these days. As in getting back to normal, the old normal, the new normal, and when will things ever be normal again. There is no question the novelty has worn off this whole crisis and we are all ready to get back to normal. It’s normal to want to get back to normal, especially when we are in the midst of something stressful and especially when there is no end in sight, no date to look forward to on the calendar. If there was just a date, even if it was October 1st, we could endure this a little better. Why is normal such a big deal, why do we want to get back to normal? We like normal because we know what to expect, we know what to do, how to act and feel. Its familiar, easier, comfortable, like an old sweater or old pair of slippers, like comfort food. But the question I want to explore with you this morning is, do we really want to get back to normal, do we really want to go back to our old ways? How was normal really working for you? How were your priorities, how were your important relationships, what was out of balance, how was your prayer life, were you distracted with all kinds of distractions?

Chuck Norris is a famous movie and television star, especially known for his show Walker, Texas Ranger. He is also a world-champion black-belt martial artist. Because of his character being unstoppable with insane near superpowers and skill there is a whole genre of Chuck Norris jokes, which are referred to as Chuck Norris facts. Chuck Norris jokes/facts. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas. When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. When Chuck Norris gets pulled over, he lets the cop off with a warning. When Chuck Norris steps on a Lego, the Lego cries. Chuck Norris counted to infinity, twice. Chuck Norris was born in a log cabin he build with his own hands. That one got me to thinking there is someone about whom statements like that are actually true. Jesus was born in a manger that He created. Jesus rode on a donkey He created. Jesus was born to parents He created. Jesus walked on an earth He created. Jesus died on a cross made from a tree He made. At the time of the incarnation, Jesus who is infinite became a day old. Jesus who has power to create galaxies is now so weak He has to be carried. Jesus who’s hands can hold the oceans, now has fingers too small to hold Mary’s finger. Jesus who’s words spoke creation into existence, how has to be taught how to say words. Jesus who never hungered or thirsted, now cries when He is hungry and thirsty. He who the universe couldn’t contain, is now contained in a manger.

Imagine the exasperation of a young piano student who has memorized his piece, he has hit every note with complete accuracy, but his teacher says “you don’t have it right yet.” What’s wrong? His fingers have it right, but his heart isn’t in it. Our boy’s hearts were never in it, so even though they could play the notes, it wasn’t working. You can play all the notes perfect and have it come off boring and lifeless and fruitless. Jesus said this was the problem with the scribes and Pharisees.

Jump for Joy

Christianity Today once had an article entitled: “God Made Me to Laugh”.  in it its author wrote: “Once upon a time many church goers suspected anything funny was subversive. Yesterday's pilgrim didn't dare to clown, & Plymouth squeezed itself into a poker-face.  “Those old sober-sides really scrambled goodness with solemnity. The Calvinist was so afraid of fun's consequences, that they tried, at their frantic worst, to wipe off every smile, & turn off the organ music. They wouldn't let artists play with color on a canvass or in stain-glass windows, so that the apostles looked as dead as cigar-store Indians!” Well, you know, we are probably saying that were the Pilgrims & Puritans of yesteryear.  yet isn't true that our Christianity can often seem so gloomy & depressing?  isn't Christianity often made to be seen as something so frigid & formal because we see it as just a set of doctrines we must believe & religious rituals & rules we must routinely & regularly do?  we can put such great emphasis on the fact that true faith is a correct knowledge of biblical truths that we give the impression Christianity is mostly of the head.  Christianity then becomes just a collection of cold creeds & dull, dead doctrines. Somehow we forget & fail to equally emphasize that faith is also a matter of the heart.  that it involves emotions too & a life of praise & thanksgiving to Lord with all our heads & hearts, all our feelings & will, all our words & works—the total person.  & when someone gets emotional about Jesus & the Christian faith & life & expresses joy & love to Lord with “hallelujahs” & “amens’ & with raised hands, we get uncomfortable. o or we become suspicious about their sincerity & question the reality of their faith. o or we think they are little odd & that their Christianity is too superficial. Th'fore we often give impression Christianity is anything but joy.  that to be real Christian we must always be sober & strait-faced except on rare occasions like Thanksgiving Day & Christmas & Easter. But, you see, that's not the Christianity of Bible.  for Bible's message is in no way gloom & doom; its writers were anything but kill-joys.  to be sure, Scriptures talk about very serious things & present profound, deep doctrines regarding God & Jesus Christ, sin & death & hell. Yet in no way does it teach them as mere, cold, intellectual facts.  but it presents them as good news of great joy about the full & free salvation & eternal life God has accomplished in Jesus; about wonderful, eternal pardon & purification & peace we have in Him.  & Bible presents these saving facts as living truths that must fill our daily lives with joy. Well then, there is 1 place in Scripture that surely indicates Christians aren't to be sober & straight-faced or so cold & gloomy, --  but we must be alive & filled with joy, & we must make our Christian faith a matter of our hearts & feelings, as well our heads & hands & will.  & that place is Phil.4 where we are commanded to rejoice always. And we want consider that truth found in vs.4-9 about JUMPING FOR JOY as we have just celebrated another Thanksgiving & will soon celebrate Christmas.  then our thanks to Lord will be sincere & really joy-filled.  & not just once a year, but every day in everything. Now as we consider this we want to notice the following:  1st the when we must be joyful, 2nd the why we can be joy-filled.  3rd the way to be joyful, & 4th the result of being joy-filled.

Boldy Humble

What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? What was so beautiful, it took your breath away or fixed your gaze and mesmerized you? What is beautiful beyond words or description? Do you enjoy and find delight in beautiful things? Do you love beauty? Atheists say that the existence of suffering and evil is evidence there is no God. I reply beauty is evidence for the existence of God. Suffering and evil are our own doing. Beauty has no practical reason to exist except to reveal to us the nature and glory of our creator.

KNOWING CHRIST (II) I. Knowing His person II. Knowing His power INTRODUCTION There is a verse of a beautiful hymn that goes like this:  “There are depths of love that I cannot know, till I cross the narrow sea.  “There are heights of joy that I may not reach, till I rest in heaven with Thee.” Now, in light of what we saw this morning, we may never sing this with the idea that knowing & experiencing the depths & heights of Christ & His love ii only for the other side of the grave.  for we saw that our hearts’ desire & delight & determination; our life’s aim & ambition must be to explore the exhaustless Christ. o & to more & more know & experience & enjoy Him in an intimate & personal, fuller & deeper & richer way now already in this life, & then in eternity.  th’fore, it’s like an old Christian who kept on praying: “Lord, make us all that redeemed sinners can become this side of heaven.” So maybe we ought to change the lines of that hymn a little & sing:  “There are depths of love that I ought to know, before I cross the sea. o “There are heights of joy I ought to reach, before I rest in heaven with Thee.”  then, you see, if we so seek & strive now daily to know & experience Jesus more & more with greatest joy, then we can sing with thankfulness, as another verse of that hymn, I just quoted, says: o “Oh, the pure delight of a single hour which before Thy throne I spend. o “When I kneel in prayer & with Thee, my Lord, I commune as a friend with a Friend!”

Well we have celebrated Easter again with shouts: “He is Alive! Jesus Christ is risen from dead!”  & because He lives, we live.  salvation & eternal life are now ours. But, I hope our commemoration & celebration are a lot more than just a lot of shouting.  or more than just a customary thing we do 1 day each year.  you know, we can be a lot like that little lad who was walking one night in a garden with his dad. o he saw the moon, big & bright & full-faced, just coming over the tree-tops. o the boy was delighted & exclaimed: “Oh, look! Get it, Daddy!” Well, many of us Christians can be like that little lad.  we think we are so wise, but yet are so spiritually childish. o we think we can get Christ like that small boy thought he could get the moon. o we have received Him as Lord & Savior, read our Bibles daily, say our daily prayers, go to church & worship regularly, & we are active in it. o & we think that’s all there is to know Jesus, & to bea Christian or follower of Him.  but that’s as infantile as the little fella’s idea of getting the moon. For the question is: do we really believe & live the Biblical truth that Jesus actually lives as our Savior & Lord?  do we really personally possess & experience & enjoy & exercise the fact of His resurrection in our everyday living?  is it seen in all of our talk & walk wherever we are? Well, if Good Friday & Easter are going to mean anything to us, then it must be our desire & delight to daily commune with the risen Lord & Savior.  our text says: “That [we] want to know Christ & the power of his resurrection & the fellowship of sharing his sufferings, & become like him in death, & so attain the resurrection from the dead.”  that’s what it means to be a real disciple of Jesus. o that we have this sole life’s aim & ambition: that I may know Christ. 2 We consider then the meaning of this Biblical truth of KNOWING CHRIST.  1st, knowing His person, &, 2nd, knowing His power.