TEMPESTS IN TEAPOTS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
29 SEPTEMBER 1991
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Genesis 12:1, 4-7, 10-20,
1 Corinthians 10:13
Preparation Verse: (Isaiah 33:5-6)
5. The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
6. And He shall be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
The fear of the Lord is his treasure.
On Monday nights at our Bible study, we always have coffee and tea and cookies and other snacks.
It's a way of enhancing our joy, and it takes away the formalness of the
study, for we are talking about the application of God's word in every aspect of
our lives, during every day of our lives.
It's a time to gather and have a good time with the Lord, and with each other.
We even joke sometimes.
We have some running gags also, as when offering someone hot water for tea, and have them reply, "I'm already in enough hot water."
And I suppose that from time to time, every one of us finds ourselves in some hot water.
We stumble, or allow ourselves to fall into some form of trouble, or we get aggravated and frustrated over something; and before we realize it, we have sunk into it fairly deeply, as a tea bag slips down into the hot water of a teapot.
But unlike the teabag, we usually thrash around quite a bit.
We become tempests in teapots.
In Psalm 27, David expresses his own tempest in his teapot, but he does it in the proper way.
If we actually found ourselves in the near-boiling water of a teapot, we
would indeed thrash about quite violently; but in Psalm 27, David expresses that
we are to have fearless trust in the Lord.
Let's take another look at these verses, beginning at verse 7.
7. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When we're in hot water, do we seek help to get out, or do we just brew?
And if we seek help, to whom do we turn?
It is obvious that we are supposed to seek the Lord our God; but is He the One we always seek?
A little child cries, "Mommy! Mommy!" And even severely wounded soldiers on the battlefield have cried out the same way; for Mommy was usually the one who was there to help us when we were young.
But God can do more than Mommy can, and He is still there when Mommy is gone.
And just as the child seeks assurance from his or her mother, so David is seeking that assurance from the Lord.
8. When Thou didst say, "Seek My face," my heart said to Thee,
"Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek."
In his heart, David knows that no matter how bad a situation seems to him at the time, God is able to see beyond the problem and help him.
But in that step of faith and trust, he still needs assurance.
9. Do not hide Thy face from me,
Do not turn Thy servant away in anger;
Thou hast been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
When David prayed this prayer, he was no longer a child but an adult; the leader of his people.
Yet he sounds like a child who has gotten into trouble and is worried that his parents will forsake him.
But at the same time that he is speaking this way to the Lord, he knows that the Lord will always be there.
10. For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.
Probably a more understandable, though less literal translation of this verse comes from the New International Version:
10. Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
Like children, we usually perceive our problems to be much larger than they are.
We all too often have the Chicken Little outlook: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"
Or we think that our world is coming to an end.
But from God's point of view, we and our problems are just tempests in teapots.
If we would only learn to seek the Lord whenever we have a problem, no matter what it is, no matter how large we may think it is, we would soon find out that we have far fewer problems.
Satan and the world system don't want us to realize this; they want us in the same situation that they are in.
But the Lord has a much better life for those who seek Him.
So if we, like David, struggle with this attitude or understanding of the ways of God, then we are to pray as he did.
11. Teach me Thy way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path,
Because of my foes.
12. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
Once again, doesn't this sound like part of the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:13)?
'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'
Now, before we go on, let's look at 1 Corinthians 10:13.
13. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
God may allow us to be tested with various temptations, but he does not make us give into them. That is our free will choice.
Even though God allows these temptations to come upon us, He also provides us with a way out; a way of delivering us from evil.
But we don't always choose the outs. We give into the temptations.
Thus, most of the problems we find ourselves in are of our own choosing.
What David is really asking, and what we should be asking of the Lord our God, is that we have the wisdom and knowledge to recognize all evil for what it is, and the strength to walk away from it.
And additionally, if the evil is of such a nature and from a power beyond our control, that we would have the vision to see through the situation to the future promises of God, to see into heaven, so that we would not despair.
That's what we are really praying for, or should be praying for, when we pray the Lord's Prayer.
Thus, David and we can confidently say,
13. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14. Wait for the Lord;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
And as we have said before, the land of the living is the here and now.
Thus, we must ask ourselves, "Do I really see the goodness of the Lord?"
And if we do, then we can take courage; and yes, wait patiently for the Lord, doing our best to live in the will of God.
But we, like most of the characters in the Bible, don't usually do this until after we get ourselves into trouble.
Let's take a brief look at part of the life of Abraham, the great patriarch, but also a brewer of tempests in teapots.
Please turn to the 12th chapter of Genesis, beginning with verse 1.
1. Now the Lord said to Abram,
"Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
Now let's look at verses 4-6.
4. So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
5. And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.
6. And Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.
Abram went to the land of Canaan, just as the Lord had instructed him; but he did something else that the Lord specifically said not to do.
Abram did not leave all his relatives behind as the Lord told him to do. He brought along his nephew Lot.
Abram was beginning to brew his tea, and Lot would later prove to be one of his tempests.
Jump ahead a little to verse 13:7.
7. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.
It wasn't the native people of the land who were the problem as one would expect. It came from Lot.
God told Abram to go to this land, and in this land, God would protect him; which He did.
Lot and his family were the cause of further trouble for Abram and his descendants, but that is a story for another time.
For now, let it suffice to say that if Abram had obeyed God in the first place, these problems would not have occurred.
But because Abraham believed in the Lord and sought Him in his need, God answered him; but just think of how much better things would have been if all this corrective work was not necessary.
This was not the only tempest that Abram was brewing at this time. Let's return to chapter 12, and note verse 7.
7. And the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.
This verse is key in understanding the ways of God, not only in Abram's life, but in our own.
God gave Abram a promise which God had to fulfill; for if He would not, then He would not be the holy and righteous God that He is, and nothing else He ever said or did would have any meaning.
Thus, if God gave this land to Abram, then God would protect him in the land, no matter what situations or conditions arose.
Skip down to verse 10, and note what happens when some of these problems arise.
10. Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.
God sent Abram into the land of Canaan, and he went; but God did not send him on to Egypt.
But as soon as trouble appears and brews its tempest, Abram loses sight of everything beyond his own teapot, including God and His promises, and runs off to Egypt.
Instead of having his tempest get smaller, the storm only increases.
He begins to fear for his life at the hands of the Egyptians (11-12); something he didn't have to do with the Canaanites.
So instead of seeking the Lord, Abram makes his tempest even greater by
resorting to lies (13).
So in spite of Abram's lack of trust in the Lord, God nevertheless protects Abram and Sarai by striking Pharaoh and his household with a plague (17).
Thus, the truth comes to light and Pharaoh drives Abram and his company out of Egypt and back to the land of Canaan, where God wanted him to remain in the first place (18-20).
But before all of the truth came to light, Abram was treated with a sense of false security and many gifts from Pharaoh, including male and female servants whom he took with him when he left.
And it was one of these female servants, Hagar, who became another tempest in the midst of Abraham and Sarahís lives. Hagarís descendants through Ishmael and Sarah's descendants through Isaac are still at strife with each other, even to this very day.
If we would only listen to God's word in the first place, we would be able to enjoy our tea without all the tempests.
But this requires our dying to our own pride, and submitting our will to that of Jesus Christ and to His word that is written for all of us to read and understand upon the pages of our Bibles, and upon our hearts and minds, if we are willing to transcribe them there.
The tempests in our lives, when left unchecked, begin to wash away the sand upon which we stand, until all is washed away.
But when we stand firmly and obediently upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ, the tempests begin to quiet down.
Instead of making Jesus our choice of last resort when we find ourselves in trouble, or with problems, let's resolve to try harder to put Him first in our lives, so that we would avoid these tempests in the first place.
It really does work when we remember to do it.
Your Comments are welcome
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