Are You Going Stale?
Introduction: Please take your Bible and turn to Numbers 11, and follow as I read verses 1-10.
“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. (2) And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched. (3) And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them. (4) And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? (5) We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: (6) But our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. (7) And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium. (8) And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. (9) And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it. (10) Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.”
This passage focuses on a trouble that touches all of us at some time, that of going STALE in the Christian life. The following message on this topic has two objectives:
The first objective is to invoke hatred for staleness, dullness, and indifference in the Christian life.
The second objective is to pull you out of this state (if you are in it), and to set you moving forward.
The children of Israel in the days of their escape from Egypt were fed with manna from heaven. The manna was exactly what they needed to sustain them, but the sameness bothered the people. They began to cry for the food of Egypt. They said in verses 5-6:
(5) We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: (6) But our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
They became WEARY of the same food day after day. The word “weary” means "tasteless and cumbersome." A lot of folks are in a good work for God, but they become exhausted under pressure, and get discouraged and faint in their service to God. Consequently, they "Stop pressing on the upward way, new heights gaining every day."
There comes a time that we get WEARY and TIRED, and no doubt that describes some of us right now.
We are WEARY IN the work of the Lord, but NOT WEARY OF the work.
We are WEARY IN the Christian life, but NOT WEARY OF the Christian life.
We all have these times of going STALE in the Christian life. Some of us go through this more than others.
We see others on the Mountain Top and we wish we were there.
We realize the JOY we used to have is suddenly gone.
We are just going through the motions without passion.
We are spiritually STALE!
This not unusual, we all go through these times.
Ladies, you sometimes get to the point in which you want to hang a sign outside saying, "One husband available and two or three kids – For Sale – Cheap!"
Men, you sometimes go through your routine at work feeling as if everything is on a downhill treadmill.
You sometimes go through spiritual staleness. You still love the Lord, as you read your Bible and come to church. But it is all done by habit, without any passion.
Now, let me see if I can give you some insight to this situation that might stay with you.
FIRST: Notice the CAUSES of STALENESS.
Staleness comes because of ingratitude. In many places, the Bible exhorts us to the matter of thankfulness of heart. The apostle Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
The Israelites became so ungrateful for all of God's blessings. Instead of thanking Him for the manna which He provided, they began to complain, and they longed for the food of Egypt. They were turning their backs upon the food from heaven and desiring the food of the world.
Ingratitude is such a sore sin. Most of us are touched with this evil at certain times. It will do us all good to take the time to "count our many blessings." We must remember what God has done for us. We must express our gratitude by faithfulness. Be grateful to God and be grateful to the people who have assisted you in life.
Don’t forget what God has done for you.
Remember the answers to prayer.
Remember that God has supplied all of your needs. Don’t take things for granted. Let your memory begin to work for you.
It was Moses who said to Israel in Deuteronomy 5:12, “…beware lest you forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt …”
Pause this morning and let your mind go back over all of the goodness of God.
How often have you thanked Him?
How much have you tried to express your thanksgiving?
How often have you just plain forgotten to be thankful?
Staleness comes because of compromise with the world. It may be just a little compromising; a little effort on your part to mix the world with things of Christ. But you see, the Christian always loses when he joins with the world. In I John 2:15-17 we read,
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Staleness comes during periods of constant spiritual activity. Here is a warning to workers in this ministry – all of you need to be watching constantly that you do not become stale in the work of our Savior. Don’t get in the habit of doing things methodically. Avoid the attitude of staleness.
I am talking about the times you come to church out of routine, but it is not as exciting as it used to be.
I am talking about the times you read your Bible, but it is not as thrilling as it was just days before. It seems like you are just reading words.
I am talking about the times you pray, but it appears nothing is happening.
I am talking about the times when your progress seems at a stand-still.
Perhaps you are going through a period of Spiritual Staleness. You are exhausted physically or mentally and in some cases spiritually or emotionally.
You wish you could be on top, but all you see is the bottom.
You wish you could see the sunshine, but all you see is the clouds.
You are not as excited about the things of God as you used to be.
SECOND: Notice the CONSEQUENCES of STALENESS. Here are three areas on which to focus.
The first consequence of staleness is personal suffering. Israel suffered when they became stale and started to complain. You will suffer when staleness takes over. Staleness takes the heart out of your work. Staleness brings a critical attitude. It is an easy thing to find fault with others when your own life is stale. You are a poor servant of God when you are stale in mind and heart.
The second consequence of staleness is others are hurt. Here I am touching on the power of influence. This Bible says that, “…no one lives to himself and no one dies to himself.” When you flounder in despondency, then others are made to suffer.
Your failures will cause Christians to be hindered.
Your failures will bring into the pit of hell the souls of lost people.
Your home is hurt by your staleness.
Your church is hurt by your stale attitude of mind and heart.
The third consequence of staleness is God is angered, not glorified. Oh, to live daily that He might be glorified!
Again notice Numbers 11:1 "And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it, and his anger was kindled . . ."
Again notice verse 10 " … And the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly …"
When men get stale and complain, then God is troubled. The judgments of God are sent out upon those who find fault with Him.
THIRD: Notice the CURE for STALENESS. Allow me to give you four very practical principles on how NOT to handle a period of Spiritual Staleness.
Number 1: Do not CHANGE a thing in this time of Spiritual Staleness.
Maybe God is testing you to see WHY you are serving Him.
Maybe God wants to know if you really love Him, or if you just get a warm, fuzzy feeling towards Him.
“Pastor, I do not enjoy my Bible like I used to.” I can recall when I would enjoy reading my Bible but something has happened and now I just read it with no feeling.
“Pastor, I do not enjoy praying like I used to.” I can recall when my prayer time was like an audience with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. But now it seems like I am just saying words, like speaking to myself.
“Pastor, I do not enjoy serving the Lord any more.” I couldn't wait to be here, it was thrilling to serve the Lord, but now all I am doing is going through the motions.
When the day comes that you are just going through the MOTIONS and you do not tingle at what you are doing, but you just keep on doing what you are supposed to do, that is the day you will begin to DEVELOP GODLY CHARACTER.
Do not change a thing. Do not quit doing something during a period of Spiritual Staleness. Just keep on keeping on.
God wants to find out if you are for real.
God wants to find out if you really love Him.
God wants to find out if you are obedient to His Word.
Number 2: Do not MAKE DECISIONS, while you are in a time of Spiritual Staleness. Do not make any life-changing decisions in a down period of life:
Such as to quit your job,
Such as to change churches,
Such as to quit your service for the Lord, or to stop reading your Bible or praying.
I wish I could parade across this platform the people who have developed a Spiritual Staleness and then quit their service and left the church. Out of pride they would not come back to where they ought to be. When you get hurt, or down in life, do not make life-changing decisions. Wait on the Lord, wait until you are on the top side once again before you make life-changing decisions.
Number 3: Do not RUN to NEWNESS while you are in a time of Spiritual Staleness.
You cannot live on the NEW all your life. You will soon run out of NEW churches, NEW jobs, NEW homes and NEW areas of life. REMEMBER THE NEW BECOMES THE OLD VERY QUICKLY – literally in a matter of weeks.
The OLD and the USUAL impress me more than the NEW. Most of life is spent doing the ROUTINE more than doing the NEW. Therefore, do not change anything you are doing in a time of Spiritual Staleness. Do not change Jobs, do not change churches, or look for better and greener pastures during a DRY SPELL.
Folks, you are not going to be happy because of WHAT YOU HAVE. Rather your happiness comes from GIVING and DOING THE WILL of GOD. Be happy with what you have, when you have it, and where you have it. When something NEW comes along, enjoy it. But remember, God blesses faithfulness in the routine of life, so rejoice!
Number 3: Do not BLAME ANYBODY or ANYTHING during this time of Spiritual Staleness. It is not anybody's fault. I believe God plans these times.
He wants to find out if you are for real.
He wants to find out if you really Love Him.
He wants to find out if you are obedient to His Word.
Pastor, do you get in these times of being spiritually stale? I sure do. There are times I become WEARY IN THE WORK but not WEARY OF THE WORK.
There are times, when I read my Bible out of routine and wonder what I read when I finished.
There are times when I pray and then wonder what I really said.
There are times when I prepare and come to this sacred desk to preach a message, but I am simply going through the motions. But I do it anyway. Not because I get paid to do it, but because God has called me to do it, and I must obey that call.
There are times, when I simply crawl out of bed in the morning and crawl to my home office and wonder what in the world I am doing here. Look, you know what I am talking about, most of you can identify with that.
However, I believe that God tells us how we can avoid these Spiritually Stale times in which things become "tasteless and cumbersome" and weariness sets in.
KEEP ON PRAYING: Pray honestly. Tell God your need. Describe your condition to Him. Yes, He already knows all about it, but you need to pray about it just the same. Confess the matter to God. Prayer is talking to God; it is getting through to God; it is asking, seeking and knocking.
KEEP ON REMEMBERING HIS GOODNESS. Think back again of how God saved you and has provided for your needs.
KEEP ON REMEMBERING the command by the Lord TO DIE TO SELF. In Romans 6:11 we read, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
KEEP ON COMING FAITHFULLY TO THE HOUSE OF GOD, for the three to grow – Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening.
KEEP ON LIVING BY FAITH. Don’t allow any circumstances of life stop you from walking by faith in the midst of a crooked and evil world.
KEEP ON READING YOUR BIBLE,
KEEP ON SERVING THE LORD,
KEEP ON LOVING YOUR KIDS, who today are loving and kind and tomorrow you wonder if they are yours,
KEEP ON LOVING YOUR WIFE,
KEEP ON LOVING YOUR HUSBAND,
KEEP ON LOVING ONE ANOTHER,
KEEP ON SOUL WINNING, and
KEEP ON LISTENING TO PREACHING.
One day the STALENESS will disappear, and you will be glad you stuck it out. Therefore, while feeling stale, may God give you the sense –
Not to quit,
Not to change,
Not to run off looking for something new, and
Not to make any decisions that are life changing.
In his youth, George Frederick Handel, the composer of the “Messiah,” conquered great audiences. He played his music before kings and queens. Then came a time when professional jealousy entered in and it seemed that his career was over.
A health problem developed, and he was partially paralyzed, which also affected his brain. Penniless and lonely, he trod the streets of London, crying out in his heart,
according to his own testimony, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"
Then, in the wee hours of one morning, after having walked the streets of London all day and most of the night, he went back to his little room and found a package that had been sent to him with a request to set some words to music. He opened it up and began to write. Without food or sleep, he worked through the day and the night, until seventeen days later, he threw himself on his bed exhausted.
Today the world recognizes Handel chiefly for his achievements after that fresh start, especially the climactic "Hallelujah Chorus." Handel had to pay a price for great music, and we stand awed by the genius of one who has been with God. As Handel wrote the "Messiah," he knew what it was to be despised and rejected of men. Thus, he came into a larger fellowship, knowing that he was not despised, alone; knowing that he was not left – forsaken. Out of the depths came the music that shakes us to the depths of our souls when we hear it.
I have often been refreshed with these words:
When your health is feeling sickly and the medicine tastes bad,
When your fellowship is lonely and your happiness is sad,
When your warmth is getting colder, and in clouds your sunshine clad,
When you find your wins are losses and that all your gains are lacks,
When ill things never run alone, and your troubles run in packs,
When your soul is bruised and battered from the tempter's fierce attacks,
Be not weary in well doing for due season brings the gain.
Do not allow the good will of God to become "tasteless and cumbersome" to you. May you have enough Godly character to just keep-on-keeping-on, by
PLANNING THE ORDINARY, MAINTAINING THE ROUTINE, SERVING WITHOUT FAINTING, STRIVING AGAINST SIN, and PRAYING WITHOUT FAIL!
Believers, perhaps you feel yourself “going stale” believing you have lost the freshness of serving Christ. I beseech you to come this evening to plead, “Oh God, revive my heart!” This is the kind of revival we need today.
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “Are You Going Stale?” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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