Be an OVERCOMER! “When Your Heart Is Closed”

For those who like short messages, here’s today’s.

“You may never know Christ is all you need

until you discover Christ is all you have.”

“You may never know Christ is all you need…

until you discover that Christ is all you have.”

There’s your answer. But, what’s the question? (Oh, that.) It comes from you. Weeks ago somebody asked, “How can I come back to God when I’ve wandered so far?” It’s not hard to picture. You’re in a slump, a mess, a muddle. Overwhelmed, under attack, distant from your Deliverer. All you can count on is yourself and, “that don’t count for much!” You’d swear you were lost, but can’t even remember where you were aimin’. You’ve been here, haven’t you? Maybe even now. So: when feeling overcome, how can you be an overcomer, especially when your heart is closed?

Start by getting OVER yourself! If you feel you’re far from God, remember: God hasn’t moved, just you. [Car cartoon: Wife, “Remember us close?” Huband/driver, “I haven’t moved.”] If you’ve known God and lost God of late, go back where you came from! If you know you never really knew Him, just stand still. God will find YOU! Whichever, talk to Him, with a ruthless, even relentless honesty. Jesus knows. @ 12, “My Father’s business.” @ 30, the wilderness. @ 33, the cross (Ps. 22). A psalm from Jesus’ grandpa, David. Christ learned a lot from him. So can we. (Ps. 13)

David’s getting along in life. ‘Already king. He shares a little song with the choir he’s sung himself, many a time. “How long, O Lord, will you forget me… ‘hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul and sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy get the best of me, or laugh when I fall on my face? I’m throwing myself headlong into your arms. I’m singing at the top of my lungs I’m so full of answered prayers!” (Ps. 13, NRSV, Msg) David’s song may not top the charts. But it’s been sung 3,000 years by souls as far from God/w hearts as closed as ours. And for the same reason. To sing to each other: “You’re not alone. Even the king’s been where you are. The way out’s to find your way back to God. Hide nothing. Hold nothing back. Inquire of the Lord. Ask God what’s up with this, how to get above this. And God will answer all day long!” Open up if you want to overcome!

Now, if you’re response is, “‘Easy for you to say,” consider this. David too has lost his way. ‘Done otherwise. ‘Paid the price. This is no cheap song. It’s costly-won advice. David’s been in slumps, too. Bad. I Sam. 27. He’s running from crazy King Saul, trying to feed an army of 1,000 souls. No hope. “Saul’s gonna get me. Best I escape to the enemy… I’ll be outta Saul’s reach for good!” (Oh, hiding with the enemy doesn’t work, never did. David hides among the Philistines. We hide out in a bottle, or a vial of pills, or at work, or on the web, or on endless ball fields with the kids, sometimes to avoid the hard habits of being home as a family.) Saul looks bigger to David than God. What looks bigger to you? Fear takes over. ‘You know about this? David consults with… David. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the problem. (Withdrawing into our own counsel’s no better than hiding with the enemy. But then, slumps are a Petri dish for bad decisions. [ML] It wasn’t always so with David. ‘1st scrap with the Philistines, “David inquired of the Lord.” ‘Feeling outnumbered? “David inquired of the Lord.” ‘Crowned King and enemies pursuing, “David inquired of the Lord.” Confused, threatened, confronted, afraid, “David inquired with the Lord.” But not in Ch. 27! Nope, he becomes a modern man! Modern, ‘cause he picks up the Remote Control! The clicky thing! A man, ‘cause he declares himself in charge of it! (Neither the ladies nor the Lord need apply!) He hits the PAUSE, then MUTE! ‘Stops listenin’. Stops talkin’. When conversation ceases, confusion/chaos commence. God doesn’t move away. David does! Whatever your fix and mine, God has not moved, we have. Click again. Cancel the pause and listen. Click again. UNmute the mute. Let it all out with God. Voice the worst in you, and God will answer with the best in Him! Wanna be an overcomer, get OVER yourself! ‘Feel far from God? God hasn’t moved, just you. Remember this. Oh, and this too. Early in his life, David consults those God has given him in the community of the faithful. Samuel, the priest, the prophet, the godly-soul. And then Jonathan, his best friend, given of God! He leans on the sharing of others he knows to be sharing with God. They’re his faith-link when he feels uncoupled from heaven. Today, we call that faith-link the company of believers, body of believers, the church. Sever the tie: chaos creeps closer. David has learned. Have we? On one hand the psalm, “I’m throwing myself headlong into your arms.” On the other, the failures, the lapses, over and over. But David learns, shares. To be an overcomer, do pray. Unreservedly, relentlessly. Seek counsel. God will provide. Don’t give up. God won’t. This-&-more Jesus learns from his Grandpa.

What Jesus learns, Jesus shares. He knows. Sometimes, we just need to overcome our own exhaustion. Sometimes our hearts are closed to him, each other, those we love/live with… ‘cause we’re just overwhelmed. Played out. So afflicted, how can we ever open up, get up, get over it, be overcomers? By coming to know this. When the fight’s gone out of us, Jesus goes out to fight for us. It’s OK to rest. Jesus joins the fight when we cannot. What grace. And here’s where Jesus learns it and how he says it. His grandpa and his Bible teach him: a word of invitation & renewal.

A short Grandpa David story. His army’s bein’ whipped, their women/children carried off by the enemy. “Let’s go get ‘em,” he commands. But 1/3 of his army’s so pooped, when they stop for water at Brook Besor, they refuse to go on! Now what? David takes the rest, wins the day, returns to Brook Besor, heroes and hostages in hand. Imagine the scene. Wives askin’ their husbands hanging back, “And where were you dear, when the fight for me raged? Kids ask, “What did you do in the war, daddy?” Comrades look on, seething, “Cowards!” (‘Anyone here who hasn’t faced the question, “Where were you when I needed you?”) Jesus recalls how Grandpa saved the day. “Look what the Lord has given us. He’s protected us, defeated our enemies. So we’ll share and share alike, warriors and those who stayed behind to guard the supplies!” David gives dignity to the weary by assigning purpose to their pause. ‘A gracious word, that all may share the blessing. David enters-in where some have laid-out, and saving grace flows all around.  Jesus does/says the same. “Come off by yourselves; let’s a take a break and rest awhile.” (Msg Mk. 6: 31) And again, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” When the fight’s gone out of us, Jesus goes out to fight for us.

Be an overcomer! God is near. Pray. Share. Hang in. Rest.

Know Christ is all you need. Discover Christ is all you have.

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