This morning I want to begin with a word association. The word I want you to think about is the word "chaos." When you hear the word "chaos" what other word or words instantly come to mind?

The two words that most commonly come to people's minds when they hear or think about the word "chaos" are the words "confusion" and "disorganization." Where chaos is, there is incredible, unbelievable confusion. Chaos is the exact opposite of organization. Where absolute chaos exists, there is zero organization.

Perhaps some of us would describe some situations that involved us the past few days as truly chaotic! It is quite possible that you have been in some situations the past few days in which confusion reigned supreme! Everything you experienced for at least a few moments, everything you saw for at least a few moments was nothing but confusion. The sound level, the movements, the scene all screamed, "Nobody is in charge here! Nothing is under control here! There is no order! The only thing in existence at this moment is mass confusion! Everything and everybody is out of control!"

Most people do not like true chaos. Do you?

  1. Let's begin by doing some reflecting. (This is personal reflecting--I genuinely want you to think about your own life.)
    1. In the past twelve months, when you think about this year of 2003 month by month, how many times of chaos do you recall in your personal life?
      1. How many times do you recall when your life was "out of control"?
      2. Or, how many times do you recall when your life was totally disorganized?
      3. Do you associate those chaotic moments with neutral experiences (neither good nor bad), with wonderful experiences (you truly wish you could experience that moment all over again), or with horrible experiences (you hope you never have to live through anything like that again)?
      4. Do you really enjoy moments of total confusion when there is no semblance of organization?
    2. As you consider the twelve months ahead, how much of that chaos do you plan to occur in your life in the year 2004?
      1. Do you say to yourself, "I really thrive on all that uncertainty! I want as much chaos in my life as possible!"
      2. Or, do you say to yourself, "When the year 2004 ends, I would be thrilled to look back over the past twelve months of my life and not recall one single moment of chaos!"

  2. For just a few moments, I want you to think about God and chaos.
    1. Let's begin by reading Genesis 1:1, 2.
      In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
    2. Allow me to call your attention to what I consider to be a powerful contrast in the first chapter of Genesis.
      1. It is a brief chapter that contains only 31 verses.
      2. In those 31 verses we have presented to us three major things.
        1. The first is what things were like when God was totally absent.
        2. The second is the creative activity of God which transformed complete chaos to organized life.
        3. The third is what things were like when God was totally present.
      3. When God was totally absent, there was chaos.
      4. As God increasingly became present, chaos disappeared and order appeared.
      5. When God was totally present, chaos completely disappeared, and God Himself looked at what he had made and declared it to be very good.
    3. In chapter three, as the presence of God diminishes, situations become increasing chaotic.
      1. Isn't that fascinating?
      2. God and chaos are enemies--where one is, the other cannot be.
      3. Increase the presence of God, and the presence of chaos is decreased.
      4. Increase the presence of chaos, and God's presence is decreased.
    4. The first chapters of Exodus declare the same thing--to the degree that the presence of God increases, the presence of chaos decreases.
      1. Exodus begins with slaves that were to become a nation, God's people (they were descendants of Israel, but not a nation).
      2. The kind of slavery they endured can only be called chaos.
      3. Consider just two of the realities of these slaves' existence:
        Exodus 1:8-22 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land." So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them. Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?" The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them." So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive."
      4. They had no control over the harshness and difficulty of their work.
      5. They had no right to keep their babies alive.
      6. If that happened to you, would you call that life a life of chaos?
      7. In the truest sense of the word, the lives of these people were considered to be nothing.
      8. What did God do when He delivered these people from their slavery?
        1. God took them to Sinai.
        2. And what did God do at Sinai?
        3. He gave them a law that instructed them:
          1. In how to honor God.
          2. In how to treat each other.
          3. Thus an existence of chaos was replaced with an existence of order brought from God.
      9. In other words, God ended the confusion and organized them.
        1. God made a nation out of them.
        2. The more they allowed God to bring His presence into their lives, the less chaos they endured.
        3. When they allowed God to be present in them, things were good.
        4. When they refused to allow God to be present in them, things were bad.

  3. Now I want to share two readings with you that focus on what God intends in the lives of those who commit to Him through Jesus Christ.
    1. Ephesians 2:1-7 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
      1. That is what you were before you belonged to Me through Jesus Christ.
      2. Listen to the descriptive words and concepts of what they were before they were Christians:
        1. Dead in rebellion against God.
        2. Living an existence that followed demonic forces, forces that opposed the very presence of God.
        3. Slaves to their physical lusts, their physical desires, their trust in themselves.
        4. Doing the things that invited God's wrath.
      3. Even when they lived and acted in those ways, God loved them enough to do something about it--He showed His grace by sending Jesus.
    2. Ephesians 4:20-24 But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
      1. Jesus did not teach you to live a life that rebelled against God and indulged self's desires.
      2. When we were dead, and God still reached out for us, what did God have in mind for us?
        1. He wanted us to put away the old, rebellious, corrupt life.
        2. He wanted us to allow Him to create us anew.
        3. He wanted us to be dedicated to His nature--righteousness and holiness of truth instead of the old deceived, selfish nature.

  4. Do you see the parallel? Again, God created to destroy chaos. Again, God made those who were slaves His people.
    1. Be real honest with yourself--do not look at others, look at yourself.
      1. Let me ask you to do something very scary.
      2. Look in your own life and your own heart, your own attitudes and emotions.
      3. Look at your chaos in every dark corner of your life.
      4. Look at it straight in the "face," squarely "in the eye."
    2. As you stare your chaos "straight in the eye," ask and answer a question with absolute honesty.
      1. Where is God?
      2. When you stare at your chaos, is God anywhere around?
      3. Why is He not there?
      4. Simply put: where each of us let chaos live and reign in our lives, God cannot be present.
      5. Why? God and chaos are enemies--always have been, and always will be.
      6. Why? Where God is, there is peace within oneself; where Satan is, there is chaos within oneself.
      7. And we decide. We either let the forces of God reign in us, or we let the forces of chaos reign within us.

In a year from now, if we continue to live, we will be at this very same place in life. We will be looking back over twelve months to see what we can see. In twelve months from now, who will be in charge of your life--God through Jesus or Satan through chaos?

There are a lot of things I cannot tell you about life. But there are two things I can you about life. If chaos rules and controls me internally, it is because I allow it too. If there is less chaos in my life in 2004 than there is today, it will be because I gave the areas of my life that chaos controlled to God, and the presence of God in my life drove chaos out.

So who will control you in 2004, the peace of God or the chaos of Satan?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 28 December 2003

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