Remember the old television show Green Acres? In the show, a New York attorney decides that he is meant to be a farmer. He buys a farm and brings his reluctant wife with him to begin their new life. By naming the farm Green Acres, the attorney reveals his hopes that it will be a lush and productive place. Unfortunately, there are quite a few problems along the way, and farm life takes quite a bit more work than the attorney imagined.
The same thing is true in our lives. We desire to experience Gods blessings for us, but are not willing to go through the hard work and struggle on the journey. We may see a neighbors lush and beautiful garden and wish ours looked that way, but when it comes down to it, we dont want to put in the hours of work to reach the goal.
Pastor Dave Cooper focused todays message on this desire for the green acres of Gods kingdom. On most journeys in life, there are speed bumps along the way. He reminded us that the blessings are in the battles and asked the question, Do you really want to go on the journey to reach the green acres?
Speed Bump #1: Youre so focused on you that you miss the view
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 states, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Sometimes it is difficult to fix our eyes on what is unseen instead of what is seen. Like children so fearful of going over a high bridge that they cant enjoy the view, we are so fearful of getting what we need that we cant see Gods lessons along the way.
One thing distraction is focusing on our needs instead of Gods provision. Instead of complaining about not getting what we want, we should open our eyes to see the needs of others and be grateful for what we have.
A second distraction is focusing on our plans versus Gods plan. We tend to think we have it all figured out, but God might be directing us a different way. Do you value getting your way more than seeing the view from Gods perspective?
Speed Bump #2: Believing the lie that you are lost
The worst thing that can happen on a journey is to get lost. But sometimes when we are disoriented, we are actually closer to our destination than we think. Have you ever driven back and forth on a street looking for something that is right in front of you?
That is how Satan wants us to feel. He is the father of lies and the author of confusion. He doesnt want us to stay on track to reach the green acres of Gods kingdom. There are three lies he uses to make you believe you are lost in life when you are not.
The first lie is that your past is not the past. When we become Christians, we leave behind our old ways. Satan would like us to believe that this is not the case, but we know that Jesus death has given us the freedom to leave our past behind us. Proverbs 24:16 states, For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.
The second lie is that your pain is permanent. It is important to remember that what you are going through is not where you are going to. Pain is temporary and can be healed through Jesus Christ.
The third lie is that your purpose is perverted. Satan would like you to question whether you will ever fulfill Gods purpose for your life. But Jeremiah 29:11 states, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Circumstances do not define your purpose and place in Christ. When Jesus comes into our lives, we are royalty because we are children of God. Even if everything in our lives falls apart, it does not change our identity in Christ.
Speed Bump #3: Stiff-necked but not shipwrecked
In Exodus, God calls the Israelites stiff-necked because they are stubborn and disobedient. While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from God, the Israelites were melting down their jewelry to create a golden calf. Instead of waiting patiently for Moses return and Gods leadership, they took matters into their own hands and created an idol.
Exodus 33:3-6 states, Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way. When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, Tell the Israelites, You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you. So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.
The Israelites were unwilling to go through a time of testing. Are you willing to go through Gods tests in your life? Here are three ways to be open to Gods testing. First, be open to Gods voice. When God spoke to the Israelites, they heard His voice. But it is also necessary to listen and obey when God speaks.
Second, be open to Gods vision. God sees beyond what we see. He wants us to trust His ways instead of our own. Third, be open to Gods validation. God commanded the Israelites to remove their ornaments and they did. He tested their obedience and repentance and will do the same for us.
God wants us to succeed when He tests us. He wants us to go through the difficulty so that we can truly appreciate the blessings. Isnt it true that when we have to pay for something with our own money we take much better care of it? His testing is the price we have to pay to receive His blessing.
Speed Bump #4: Delayed but not denied
Our culture is definitely in a hurry. Whether it is the express lane at the grocery store or the freeway at five oclock, it is clear that most people do not like delays. Delays make us grumpy and impatient. They make us struggle. But from Gods perspective, delays have three advantages.
Delays are uncomfortable, yet necessary. For a child growing teeth, there may be some pain along the way, but there is a purpose to it.
Delays are inconvenient, yet timely. Imagine a bad accident that creates traffic for miles. You may be frustrated to be sitting in the traffic, but arent you thankful you werent in the accident? Sometimes we may not see it but a delay could be protecting us from harm.
Delays are irritating, yet healing. For cancer patients, the process of going through chemotherapy can be horrible. But its purpose is to heal, and it can save lives. God may put irritating delays in your path that over time will heal you.
God makes a wonderful promise in Habakuk 2:3, which states, For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
There are many things in our lives that are not designed for us to change, but to survive. Gods truth will rise in your life. Seasons of struggle will take you into seasons of success.
Phillipians 1:6 states, Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Remember that God may be doing an amazing work in your own backyard. Dont look for greener acres, just look for a way to change your perception.