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Sermon 2/27/05 – The Teacher
Isaiah 30:20-21

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The Teacher

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21 RSV)

A few days ago, I had the three week follow-up to my annual checkup at the doctor’s office.  This was a new doctor, a Christian man from Syria, who has a sense of humor.  I mentioned a small, rough area on my forehead, and he mumbled some medical term or another, and then sped out into the hallway, calling back, “I’ll take care of it.”  He raced back with something that looked like a little fire extinguisher and suddenly started spraying my forehead.  Some kind of white colored fog was spewing out of the thing and it drifted around my head, but I couldn’t see it for long because he shouted, “Close your eyes,” and I did!  My wife, who was with me for the appointment, said something that I didn’t hear, but I did hear the doctor’s tongue-in-cheek response: “He can’t hear you; he’s in pain.”

Now, I don’t think “pain” really described it.  Whatever that spray was, it was very cold, but it didn’t last long, and it was OK.  I knew that even though he seemed to be enjoying himself perhaps a little bit too much, it was really for my benefit.  I like this guy – he has a sense of humor, responds quickly; he listens to me, and has my interests in focus.

Not unlike the Lord.  Notice that the doctor didn’t seek what made me comfortable; he did what was best for me.  He went to my need for good health, not the desire I might have for comfort, and our personal “comfort” is often NOT what is most important in life.

We read an interesting article by John Rosemond, the author of a column entitled “On Parenting.”  The one dated February 5, 2005, was called “Spoiling, Not Chemistry, the Root of Teen Tantrums.”  Mary Ellen, in John Rosemond’s office, gave permission to use it, asking that we list his website, “if they (you) would like more parenting information.”  Here it is: www.rosemond.com.

Someone contacted John Rosemond about a talk show psychologist who thought “runaway hormone levels often cause the rational part of the teenage brain to shut down, resulting in all manner of exaggerated emotional displays,” asking what he thought “of this theory?

I like John Rosemond’s reply – “Not much,” he said, and went on to quote Alexis de Toqueville, the 19th century Frenchman who wrote “Democracy in America.”  John Rosemond said that de Toqueville “was impressed with the maturity of American teens – their willingness to shoulder responsibility, their poise, and so on.”  How DIFFERENT from our teens of today; and here’s what John Rosemond sees as the REASON for that change:

Until recently,” he wrote, “in nearly every culture the 13-year-old was no longer regarded as a child. Nor was he/she an ‘adolescent,’ as we today refer to the teenager. There was childhood, which effectively ended at 13, and there was adulthood. Granted, the teen years were a period of apprenticeship, but teens were expected to behave responsibly, and they did.”  John Rosemond stated that “child labor and compulsory education laws…” were “unarguably good, but every ‘good’ thing has a down side” – They “extended the dependency of children by a good six years.”  Fascinating!  John Rosemond said that if we “pamper, indulge, and otherwise ‘spoil’ the child throughout his/her extended dependency you’re likely to wind up with a toddler in a teenager’s body.

A teacher from South Africa recently told John Rosemond that “in her country, teenagers rarely need to be ‘disciplined’ – by which she meant punished for inappropriate behavior. By the early teen years, the South African youngster is self-disciplined – well mannered, respectful, and responsible.” John Rosemond asked: “Are we to believe that teens in South Africa, which, like the USA, is an ethnic melting pot, have a different biochemistry than teens in North America?”  He continued, “No, the crucial difference between teens then and now, here and there, is not physiology, but parents who give a lot and expect relatively little, a media that encourages the young to view life as a never-ending soap opera, and a pop culture that enables teen irresponsibility,” including “’experts’ who tell us that we really have no right to expect mature behavior from teenagers.”  And he concludes, “Our children deserve more than this. Don’t they?

Yes, they do.  And so do we.  Our Scripture for today goes to our real need in life: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21 RSV).  Today’s people want to be pampered and avoid any kind of suffering, demanding constant gratification.  It isn’t just teenagers, either.  Almost everyone in today’s culture wants to be coddled, indulged and spoiled, as John Rosemond said.  It should not be a surprise that many of our citizens are toddlers disguised as adults.

The Lord knows that you and I need to grow up, and He will do what it takes to make that process occur, giving us the “bread of adversity” when needed and the “water of affliction” where appropriate.  We need to be brought out of obsession with ourselves, and into a state where we can respond to the Lord and other people.  If we don’t, we’ll never hear His Holy Spirit, when we need to “turn to the right or turn to the left.”

There was an old song called, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” and isn’t that what we want?  We want God to be a Friend to us.  We want Him, much like my new doctor; to Respond Quickly, to Listen Attentively to our every need, to have Our Interests in Focus; and yes, God does have a Gentle Sense of Humor.  It is certain that He does care about our every need, but also – He intends that you and I will grow up; that we will mature in Christ Jesus, and begin the apprenticeship program He has for each one.

Do you WANT God to direct you?  Are you willing to let “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction” change you, if He considers it necessary?  Let’s pray:

Lord, I surrender to You.  I don’t know what the “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction” might be, but I trust in You, that You care about me and know what’s best.  Let me “hear” Your Spirit and walk in Your “way.”  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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