How to avoid disappointment

Election Day could hold some disappointment for millions of Americans as their chosen candidate may lose (or win). Last week was a week of highs and lows for me. As a long-time fan of the Cleveland Indians, seeing them back in the World Series for the first time since 1997 was exciting enough. Then to see them with a 3-1 lead and the chance to win the title with just one more win… Just one more! Well… The Chicago Cubs won 3 in a row in a thrilling World Series comeback for the history books. Cleveland, once again, lost. For the third time in my life I watched my favorite baseball team fall short on the biggest stage in baseball. Disappointment quickly gripped me.

So, I did what any other “logical person” would do in that situation… I went to work doing the dishes. I had to occupy my brain with something other than the overwhelming feelings filling my brain space and chest. Tom Hanks once said, “There’s no crying in baseball!” I fought hard to keep the tears back, but a single one squeaked out of the left eye. Then, as I wiped the tear from the corner of my eye, I realized how silly it was to be feeling this way.

Disappointment comes from putting hope in the uncertain. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines disappointment as, “unhappiness from the failure of something hoped for or expected to happen.” See… I hoped the Indians would win after getting a 3-1 lead. I hoped they would win, bringing it back to Cleveland with a 3-2 lead. But I put my hope in the uncertain. An Indians win wasn’t guaranteed. There was too much left to chance. When I realized this, I also quickly came to my senses and realized the only certainty we have is the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” – 1 John 3:1-3

Hope is one of three elements to a Christian’s character: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13).” The greatest of these is love, which helps us understand why “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mt. 22:37)” and “Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 15:12),” are so high on the “commandment list.” But hope is an essential and fundamental element of Christian life, so essential that, much like faith and love, it can be what people see to let them know you’re a Christian.

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” – 1 Peter 3:15

How can anyone know what hope we have in us, if they can’t see it in your life? The hope we have in eternal life should eclipse any hope we have in uncertain things of this world. 1 John 3:3 says that our hope is based on God. In 1 Timothy 1:1, Paul says Jesus Christ is our hope. In Titus 2:13 Paul goes further and says, “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” God made hope possible by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, who provided for us hope through His atoning sacrifice. It’s through His death, burial and resurrection in which we are baptized into and thus receive the promise of eternal life. The hope that kindles the fire within. A hope connected to faith and love! A hope based on Christ.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope (1 Th 4:13).” Those who are not children of God according to the means authorized in scripture do not have this hope, but we do. Therefore, disappointment should not have a hold on us because of the hope we have in the certainty of eternity with our Creator, Lord and Savior. Amen.

How do you avoid disappointment? Put your hope in things of Heaven and not of this world! Obey the commands of Christ and start with “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38).” As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at derek@duckdisciple.com.

– DD –

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Always study & reflect on the commands of Christ!

A few weeks ago I ended a several month-long sermon series on the commands of Christ. The study was encouraging and challenging for me and I hope it provided similar feelings for the church. My approach to preaching the Gospel may be different from others. Each week as I study and prepare my sermon I simply studied a command of Christ and how I can apply it in my life. Then my sermons are simply me preaching to myself and those listening are basically hearing the crazy preacher-man talk to himself. It’s what I love about preaching and teaching. I learn so much more by preparing sermons and classes than listening to them.

It is one of the reasons why, week in and week out, I encourage personal Bible study in my sermons and classes. The things preached from the pulpit, no matter who is preaching, are to encourage personal study. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” Paul is encouraging the church there to study over the things they had been taught. It is not a good practice to hear something said, taught or preached and just believe it 100%. Look at our upcoming election next week. Things that are said by any candidate, media outlet or pundit should be looked at and tested. That’s why there are “fact checkers.” The beauty of God’s Word is that it is its own best fact checker! I strive to present the Word of God in a manner that is understandable and applicable, while maintaining a basis in scripture and not opinions. And when we take the time to study on the words presented in class or from the pulpit we may find errors in teaching. That’s when Christ’s command in Matthew 18:15-20 to go to your brother and address it with gentleness and humility.

A prime example… A few weeks ago I misspoke concerning the relationship of Satan and hell. I wrongly said that Satan was the “governor” or overseer of hell, but that’s not true at all. Apparently, I allowed my years of cartoon-watching overshadow my Bible knowledge. To clear it up, Revelation 20:9b-10 says:

“And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

It’s clear from scripture that Satan does not oversee hell, but he’s actually punished there along with those who do not believe and obey the Gospel. A brother in the body came to me and brought this to my attention in a humble and gentle manner, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. Without his personal study after the lesson, this error would have gone unnoticed. And our understanding of hell and its purpose would have continued to be tainted by Elmer Fudd or Daffy Duck.

So too with the lessons presented in the sermon series on the commands of Christ, I pray that it can be an encouragement to further your Biblical knowledge through personal study. All teaching we hear in church should encourage us to do this, but the commands of Christ are especially important. In Jesus’ “Great Commission” he plainly states that keeping His commands is an essential part of being a disciple (Mt. 28:19-20). How can we make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded, if we’re not setting that example for them to follow?

These sermons will all be available online in the near future. You can email them to people, download them to listen on the go or simply use them to encourage your studies. Please don’t let the 1-2 hours you may or may not spend in church each week be the only time you study your Bible. For how will you ever be able to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15)?

As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at minister@loveland.church.

Are you a pumpkin or a Christ-o-lantern?

A few years ago I heard the comparison made between making a jack-o-lantern and becoming a child of God. My wife reminded me a few weeks ago as I was tossing around topics for bulletin articles, so I thought this would be a good week to share my take on the comparison.

The journey to take a pumpkin and change it into a jack-o-lantern begins at the pumpkin patch. A whole field of pumpkins waiting to be chosen, waiting to serve a purpose. Then someone comes along and takes the time to inspect the fruit and pick it. Most freshly picked pumpkins will be a little dirty on the outside from the mud they’d been surrounded by in the field. Separating the pumpkin from the field, one must clean the dirt from the outside, truly separating the last remnants of the field from the pumpkin. When we repent of our sins, we separate ourselves from our life of sin and turn toward a clean walk of life in Christ. We’re “picked from the field” when we hear and believe the Gospel.

People and pumpkins have a lot in common. We both have an inside and an outside. The outside is what everyone sees – how we act, what we say and do, etc. The inside of a pumpkin is like our heart and soul. If a pumpkin is left in the field, it will slowly rot and die. The same thing goes for us. If we remain in the world, we eventually will die, with the hope of eternal life gone.

As you cut eyes into a pumpkin, you can see into the “heart and soul” of the pumpkin and it’s a mess. Just like our hearts and souls. “…the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecc. 9:3b).” So how do we get rid of the mess in our hearts?

God is the only one who can clean out our hearts, and the only way that can happen is if we humble ourselves with a child-like obedience to open ourselves up to His will. When we have heard the Gospel and believe, we confess that Jesus is the Son of the living God and open ourselves to His will. We then go down into the waters of baptism, and as Colossians 2:11-12, Paul details that in the waters of baptism God completes an operation separating the sinful man from the world and joining him with Christ. In this act God, through Christ’s sacrifice, reaches in and scoops out all the yucky stuff. This is my least favorite part of pumpkin carving, because I get messy as well. Jesus got messy for us. He took on our sins on the cross, and was beaten and humiliated, so that we could be reconciled to the Father. He got messy, so we could be clean.

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” – Ezekiel 36:25-27

If we did nothing after cleaning out the pumpkin, it would be hollow and empty. But as detailed in the verse above, the old is removed and the Spirit is placed inside. The carved pumpkin needs light to bring it to life. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).” When we allow the light of Christ to dwell in us, it shines through into our life. Lighting a dark world, guiding them to the narrow path.

So you see, becoming a child of God is like becoming a jack-o-lantern. One who hears and believes the gospel that has been shared with them in some way has been picked from the field. Through repentance we change from a sinful life to a life for God’s purpose. We confess our belief and open ourselves to God’s will, allowing Him – through the waters of baptism – to clean out the mess of our hearts, filling us with the Spirit and the light of Christ, the light that we shine into all the world. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Mt. 5:16).”

If you have any questions, or desire to learn more about becoming a child of God according to the scriptures, please feel free to reach out to me here: derek@duckdisciple.com