Community Baptist Church of Gay Head In Aquinnah
November 8, 2020
Sermon, “Go With The Flow”
“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; cast aside the gods your fathers served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if it is unpleasing in your sight to serve the LORD, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!”
Today we’re going to talk about how to stay in God’s flow, even in the midst of strong counter-currents in the world.
This election week has been a wild ride. I think we all could have expected it. Maybe for some of you, it’s stressful. And maybe for some of you, the pressure’s off because you did your part and now that the lever’s pulled, it’s just a waiting game, no problem.
Now, outside of this island, there are places in our country where people are hitting the streets. For all sorts of reasons. Some are protesting the ballot counting process. Some are protesting the institution of the election itself. Some are even protesting the very existence of the United States of America. There are riots erupting out of these protests. All the businesses in downtown D.C. and NYC were boarded up in anticipation of the violence this week, and violence has come. You know it’s madness when three members of Black Lives Matter stabbed a black woman named Beverly Beatty in D.C. for disagreeing with their slogan. We pray for her and for them. We pray for our nation.
The Bible says there’s a season for everything under the sun, and a time for every purpose under heaven. We have entered a season of shaking in our nation, and in the whole world. Religious leaders are getting engaged on all levels. A group of famous evangelical pastors including the reformed preacher John Piper have formed a coalition called Christians Against Trumpism, pinpointing our President as the cause of all the trouble. A coalition of Catholics For Trump are arising, gathering around the figure and recent epistles of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former Vatican ambassador to the U.S.A. He says that our President is the last bulwark against satanic forces behind the Great Reset. And Time Magazine this week says that the Great Reset, with its program of global debt forgiveness, universal basic income, abolition of private property, health passports, and cessation of fossil fuel travel, is the only way to solve all the world’s problems.
Everyone’s got an opinion. And everyone’s entitled to theirs. But I wonder, where is the God of Love in all these opinions?
Let’s back it up. Let’s relieve ourselves of the burden of reading through the “signs of the times” for just a moment. Let’s exhale all that business, and inhale the Spirit of God. This is God’s world. We live in God’s creation. We live in a wonderful, amazing world. Every rising sun is a miracle — every human witness is much more so. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The miracle of human consciousness is unfathomable. We still don’t understand it. “O, the depths of the riches both the wisdom and the knowledge of God,” Who does unsearchable things, wonders without number.
Welcome to God’s world. Let’s breathe a breath of joyful gratitude and appreciation for the beauty of creation, and the never-ending depths of our Creator’s love, and say Amen to His infinite love.
We often find ourselves in situations where we wish we had more control over life. Maybe you want to have a say in some controversy at work; maybe you’re having an ongoing disagreement with a spouse; maybe you are struggling with finances; maybe with an addiction; maybe your health is not doing so well; maybe you are depressed, or confused, and you don’t know why. Maybe the election is getting you down. That’s all right. There is a season for all of these things. It’s part of the flow of life.
You can learn to go with the flow, but you gotta know which flow we’re gonna go with, if you want your go-with-the-flow to be smooth rather than turbulent. God hasn’t destined you for storms and shipwreck. You are his beautiful, precious child: He leads you to the still waters of the river of life, and has promised you peace that surpasses all understanding, a crown, and a place at His royal table.
There’s a great image in the opening credits to the Christian TV series The Chosen. We see a school of fish flowing in one direction; but along comes the fish symbolizing Jesus, against the current, and little by little, some fish break away and follow him against the current.
God’s flow is not the same flow as the world’s flow. God’s river is the river of life, flowing from his throne, where Jesus the Lamb of God sits. That’s where our flow starts if we want to flow with the calm waters.
It’s like the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat while the storm is kicking up. If your flow becomes turbulent, if your boat’s getting so rocked by the storm that you like Jesus have your rest disturbed, just remember and imitate the Rock of our faith, Jesus, and say to the storm: “Be still.” When you say the word of faith, the storm subsides; it will not touch you. It will not hurt you. It may test you: but it will not knock you off course. God has a plan for you, and when you go with God, you’re going with God’s flow.
I grew up near Westfield River in the Pioneer Valley. My friends and I had an annual tradition: on hot summer days, we’d head down to the river with cheap children’s floats and go fishing with nets and smoke cigars. We never caught any fish. It was really just an excuse to float on a river and smoke cigars! We’d enter through the woods at one spot, and a few miles down the river we’d haul ourselves out and trudge up a hill to our favorite Chinese Restaurant for dinner. We looked like hooligans, soaking wet, smelling like cigars, carrying deflated kiddy floats and fishing poles. But we always ate a big old feast, so the restaurant owners appreciated us — or at least our business.
The trick to our annual tradition was to pick the right day with the right weather to get the best river ride. On the wrong day, we’d get rapids, or low water levels. That meant we were in for a rocky ride that would end in popped floats, bloody feet, and bashed-up shins!
But on the right day, we’d get calm water and an easy flow. When the river was calm, we didn’t need to worry about getting to where we were going. No oars necessary. We just went with the river flow. The only rule was keep your hands inside the boat!
We had to make the right decision in order to go with the right flow.
In the days of the Exodus, the Children of Israel were no strangers to turbulent times. After a generation wandering the desert, Joshua was chosen to be the successor to Moses as leader of Israel. They were surrounded by all sorts of people with different opinions, different lifestyles, different religions — different gods to worship. And many of Joshua’s people were sympathetic to these ways, since many of them still carried with them some of their old ways — family traditions, cultural conditioning, educational background.
Once they arrived in the Promised Land, Joshua told his people it was time for them to decide whether they were going to hold onto these influences and live by them, or whether they would go with the God of Heaven. “But as for me and my house,” Joshua said, “we will serve the Lord!”
See, Joshua knew he couldn’t force people to go with God’s flow. He could tell them about it, but he couldn’t force them. That’s why he said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua was going with God’s flow — he was “keeping his hands inside the boat”. He may have wanted to change the world in a big way. He was the leader of his nation — he certainly had the authority to do so, if he wanted. But he didn’t waste his energy trying to fight the current around him. He didn’t lose peace about it. He was in God’s current. He knew God is in control.
When you feel the current of the world fighting against you, remember you don’t have to fight. God has given you authority in Christ over the world, so you don’t have to waste energy fighting against it — just go with God’s flow. Don’t lose peace about things that look like they’re going in the wrong direction. It might be for the world, but not for you. That’s when you say, “God, I’m going with your flow. I trust where I’m going. All things work together for good for those who love You.”
It might look like the world is flowing against you, but if you’re flowing with God, no countercurrent can prevail against you.
If you find you can’t keep your peace, and you’re afraid, and you’re angry, blaming people, becoming resentful in your heart, it’s time to relieve yourself of that burden. That’s not the way of God. That’s the way of the world. It’s going to keep on turning. Its current is always erratic, always turbulent, always stormy. But you’re riding along God’s river. Trust Him when He says, “Be at peace,” “Be not afraid.”
You may say, “It’s all well and good to say these things, Sean, but what does going with God’s flow even mean? How can I do that with the world fighting against me? Nothing’s going my way. How can I be at peace? I am afraid!”
The Bible says, Perfect love casts out all fear. Love never fails. So when all else fails, love never fails. Love is more powerful than we can possibly imagine. God is love. Love is what makes this all possible.
There was an amazing experiment. Not too long ago, scientists were looking at readings from the Geosynchronous Environmental Satellites that orbit our planet. The readings reported on energy levels in the earth’s electromagnetic field. The satellites captured a series of spikes worldwide on September 11th, 2001. The first spike occurred 15 minutes after the 1st plane hit the first tower, just about when the news was reaching the world.
Scientists wondered if it was possible that such a large spike in the earth’s magnetic field could have anything to do with something beyond just the factors of the earth’s core, the atmosphere, the ionosphere, and the sun, since all of those factors were the same as ever on September 11th. What scientists eventually discovered was that the human heart produces certain magnetic fields when individuals experience certain kinds of emotion. The fields produced by humanity on September 11th were so powerful that they altered the earth’s magnetic field. They were visible from space by these satellites.
Science tells us that feelings are powerful. They have the power to affect the world around us — not just the feelings of other people, but the forces of nature itself. But this is old news. Jesus told us long ago that when you believe in your heart that the mountain will move, it will move. Jesus says it is more blessed to believe without seeing, than to see in order to believe.
The Bible says over and over again: the power of belief is in the heart. Did you know the magnetic fields of the heart are 500 times stronger electrically than the brain, and 5,000 times stronger magnetically than the brain?
Ancient Christians knew all about this. Long ago, the old monks of Celtic isles, the Deserts of Africa, the mountains of the Greek isles, and in the Russian forests, they talked about “prayer of the heart”. St. Theophan the Recluse said to pray “with the mind in the heart.” And long before that, we were told the basic rule of prayer in the Law of Moses: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind.”
The heart comes first!
St. Paul tells us more about this power of the heart. “Be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.” He’s saying that Christ dwells in our hearts when we are rooted and grounded in love — and that once there is love in our hearts, then our minds will know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge.
Don’t think too hard about it. Love first — think later. That’s how to go with God’s flow.
Don’t worry about your finances — God plans to provide for you. Don’t worry about your love life — God wants your life to be full of love. You are designed to be a torch of love and joy. Don’t worry about the ways of the world and other people. God’ll sort them out.
“As for me and my house — we will serve the Lord.”
Here’s another amazing scientific parable. Quantum entanglement. Scientists figured out how to take a proton and cut it in two. A proton is a little particle of light and it’s one of the pieces that make up an atom. An amazing experiment was done where one half of one proton was sent several miles away from the other half, and they were connected by fiber optic wires that carry energy. The scientists were hoping to see how long it would take a little burst of energy to travel along the wires from one proton to the other. So they sent one little spark into one proton, and off it went to the other.
But when the scientist on both sides of the experiment shared their findings, they were shocked. The proton on the receiving end of the fiber optic wire was responding before the energy was conducted through the wire. It was reacting before the energy had come through the wire. Even more astonishing, they realized that in some cases, the proton on the receiving end reacted before the proton on the sending side could react to the little spark, even though it was in closer contact to the spark.
This little experiment eventually led physicists to conclude that it is possible for something that happens in one place to trigger an immediate reaction somewhere far away because all matter is connected on a quantum level. This goes back to Einstein: energy equals mass times the speed of light, squared. E=MC2. All matter is made of the same energy — light — that was created in the beginning. They say all creation was condensed into the size of a pea, one super-hot pea of light, that finally exploded into gazillions of separate pieces.
Scientists say it was a Big Ban. But the Bible says it was God, who said, “Let there be light”, and then separated the light from the darkness.
All of creation is made of the same stuff, the same light that God made in the beginning, and then dispersed throughout all creation. Your life is not lived in a vacuum — you are connected to everything and everyone. In the image of God, you are a light amongst scattered lights. Like the photons in the experiment, what you experience on your end of creation is also experienced in other parts of creation.
When the mountain moves in your heart, the mountain moves on the earth.
The scientists call this quantum entanglement. But the Bible calls it the power of prayer.
We live in a world of marvels. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands…How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creations…Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, revealed in everything has been made…”
Knowing we live in a world of miracles, not mundanity, why get mired in the mundane? Shake off your dust; arise, enthroned, Jerusalem of God! Love is the way the Lord made for you to reign over all things. Love is your path through everything. You have the great Father of Jesus Christ on your side, He loves you — have faith in His love, and return love for love! Radiate the light of love!
Love never fails because God is love and God never fails. When He comes to dwell in your heart, what do you feel but love? With God, nothing is impossible, and that means with love, anything and everything is possible.
Love is the way to fearlessness. We might fear for the state of the world, but that fear isn’t going to motivate us to pursue the right path. Fear is not the flow we want to go with. Fear and discouragement don’t bring about positive or Godly change — only courage and encouragement do that, and they spring from love.
We want to always be about Love.
It’s always a moment of decision. First thing in the morning, love. Love with every meal. Love with every breath! Like the old saints, we pray with the heart, the instrument of love. We pray with love. Love, all day every day. 24/7.
Love! — have I made myself clear? Love. The feeling of love in your heart is the frequency of God’s miracles. Some talk about the Law of Attraction, but that falls short of God’s Law, which is the Law of Love.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” — take care of your own heart, mind your own business, and make sure the house of the Lord in your heart is swept clean and well-kept with love, and you’ll be going with God’s flow. That alone will make an incredible difference in the world.
You’ll be like Peter, who unknowingly healed the blind and sick simply by casting a shadow over them as he walked by; like Paul, whose clothing was stolen so that people could get miracles from it. And if you’re waiting for a blessing on your life, and haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry. For all you know, you’re like that first proton: touched by the energy of God, but somewhere out in the world, other protons are reacting first. You prayed, and things are beginning to move — you just haven’t seen it yet. Believe in your heart that God has already said the word and has already made the move!
Have faith: sometimes He shakes the earth in its unseen parts in order to move the mountain, before you see the mountain up and move.
The world is turbulent right now, and there’s a storm going on in our nation. Jesus showed us two ways to reign over the storm: pay it no mind, sleep on through it, happy and undisturbed because it ain’t worth your energy.
Or, tell it to “be still”.
Whatever the spirit of love inspires you to do, that you should do. Don’t worry about anybody else’s business: you take care of your own house. When you make up your mind to live out of the love of God in your heart, that’s when you’ll see God’s love for you take hold of your life — and transform the world around you into love.
God knows your needs, God has heard your prayers before you even know what they are: you just be patient, keep your hands inside the boat, and keep on going with God’s flow of love.