Friday, August 31, 2007

Sermon 8.26.7: Thermostats Not Thermometers

Thermostats Not Thermometers

Everything you have is a gift from God! Your life, health, family, salvation, the air you breathe is a gift from God. Now, some of you are sitting there and saying to yourselves, “Hey, I worked hard for the things I have.” But God gave you life and he gave you the energy to work for them. He gave you good sense to save your money to be able to buy them. He gave you the ability to count. These are your blessings!
The question for us is, “what will we do with what we have?” We are called to be good managers of our resources. The biblical word for that is “stewardship”. We are to manage the things God gives us well. That includes our opportunities, intelligence, relationships, and resources.
Christians are to use these to influence our world. The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as:
“The power to have an effect on people or things, or a person that is able to do this”
Everyone is an influence. What we have to decide is, “What, and how, I will influence my world?” God commands that we be an influence on our world. In Matthew 5:16 we find:
“Let your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do, and will praise your Father in heaven.”
Jesus says, “Let your light shine”. Don’t waste your influence. Be a thermostat. Don’t hide it.
One of the first songs we teach the little children in Sunday School is “This Little Light of Mine”. We teach them and they sing it. They love it so they sing it with gusto. They sing it loudly and proudly. We smile with pride when we hear them sing it. But we do not sing it as adults. We forgot about our light!
He then says, “You are the salt for the whole human race.” He calls us to be salt because of what salt does. Salt seasons, preserves, and improves. God wants you to season the world. He wants you to preserve the world. He wants you to improve the world. God expects you to use your influence for good in the world.
Jeremiah 15:19 says:
“You are to influence them; do not let them influence you.”
Christians often get this reversed. We are too often influenced by the world, rather than influencing the world. We let the world take the salt out of us. We are thermometers, not thermostats. A thermometer measures temperature. A thermostat sets the temperature.
Every contact we have with anyone can set a temperature. When you smile at someone; you set a temperature. When you speak to someone, you set a temperature. When you cut someone off in traffic, and they give you that strange gesture; you set a temperature. Every contact you have; sets a temperature. You are the thermostat.
Everyone email you send; sets a temperature. Every note you write; sets a temperature. Everything you do; sets a temperature. You are the thermostat.
We need to recognize our influence. There is no doubt as to the fact we have influence. The question we must ask is: “How will I influence my world? Will I be for Christ, or against Christ? What is the setting on my thermostat? Will my influence be positive or negative?”
The bible says that God wants you to consider how you use your life and how you use your work for him? We are to make the most of our opportunities to set the thermostat in our world. People watch you and associate your behavior with your church and with your God. The rock group got it right back in 1995 when they sang:
Every breath you takeEvery move you makeEvery bond you breakEvery step you takeIll be watching youEvery single dayEvery word you sayEvery game you playEvery night you stayIll be watching you
Every move you makeEvery vow you breakEvery smile you fakeEvery claim you stakeI’ll be watching you
Our church was founded by a man of great influence. John Wesley was a man with a heart for God. For years he focused on growing in grace in Christ. He gathered a small band around him at Oxford. They called themselves “The Holy Club”. They focused on growing in grace in Christ. In his journals, he called this: “The First Rise of Methodism”. We got the name “Methodist”, not as an honor. It was one of the many derisive terms used about the Holy Club. It was the one that stuck.
After a few years Wesley asked himself what good it did for one to grow in grace if that did not affect his world. After much soul searching he set off on a trip to America. He determined to “save the heathen Indians”. This trip was known as the “Second Rise of Methodism”. It was a failed adventure that ended with Wesley sneaking out of Georgia to avoid arrest.
He returned to England a broken man. That brokenness made possible the experience at Aldersgate. It was there that he felt his heart “strangely warmed”. It was there that he truly found God. Wesley’s truly became a thermostat that day.
He now determined to do everything in his power to make others into thermostats. The Anglican priests of his day would not let this “fanatic” into their pulpits and he had no venue to spread the word. It was then that George Whitefield invited Wesley to come up north and help him in a revival by preaching in the fields. This was an unheard of thing to Wesley. The Word of God was so sacred that it should only be proclaimed in his hallowed house. Still, his thermostat was changed and he took a chance. Through his preaching, God changed hundreds from thermometers into thermostats that day. They met Jesus through the preaching of John Wesley. The Holy Spirit changed thousands from thermometers into thermostats through the influence of John Wesley.
When you die they will probably read a thing called an “obituary” at your funeral. That brief description is a summary of who you are and what you have done. It will tell others what kind of person you were. It will tell them whether you were a thermostat that set values for others and kept those values firm. Or it will tell them you simply reflected the values of everyone else. Will your obituary say you were a thermostat?


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