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Do you remember when TV’s had knobs and dials? What is sort of a relic now was high-tech once upon a time. There was typically two knobs on those manually adjusted sets that you will not find on most TV’s now – the vertical hold and the horizontal hold. Adjusting these two controls kept your picture in balance. The horizontal hold kept the picture adjusted from left to right and the vertical kept it adjusted from top to bottom.
In our life together as disciples of Jesus, we are balanced by two adjustments - a spiritual set of controls that keep us balanced vertically and horizontally. Two of our banners set before us the Scriptures that keep us aware of those two “holds” and how they shape the way we live and what we do.

Vertical Hold
The vertical hold is God’s involvement in what we do. As we think about our “ministries” – and we can use this to speak of the ministries we are involved in as individuals or as a church – ask “why are we involved in these possibilities?” Take a look at Ephesians 2:8-10.
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God has created you. He made you. Not only has he made us, but he has saved us. All of that effort on God’s part is to craft our lives into a beautiful and useful masterpiece to accomplish his purposes. When God called Jeremiah, he made it clear to him that he was made for his calling. When Mordecai encourages Esther to risk her life to save her people, he asks her to consider if her entire life had not led up to this very possibility. The vertical hold is the hold of God’s shaping and forming hand that not only saves us, but enables us to do the good works that he has prepared in advance for us to do.

These good works are not efforts on our part to win God’s favor. No, the good works are the outgrowth of the kind of people God wants us to be. He wants the people around us to witness these good works and recognize how God wants the whole world to live.
Have you seen how the Amish community in Nickel Mines has taught the world how to forgive? They are striving to live out the teaching of Jesus in their attitudes. One of their leaders has said, “We must not think evil of this man.” Other Amish have reached out to the family of the shooter. Daniel Esh is a member of the Amish community and he told the news that he hoped the family of the shooter would remain in the community "I hope they stay around here and they'll have a lot of friends and a lot of support.”
How can we be so bold in doing the good works that God has prepared for us to do? We have to have the vertical hold of God’s spirit.

Horizontal Hold
Another of our banners comes from Hebrews 10:24. Listen to this text in its context ... 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Notice how the vertical hold of what God is doing in our lives and our life together flows into the horizontal hold of how we build up and encourage one another. The recipients of the Hebrew sermon had gotten weary. They needed to be encouraged. Maybe because of persecution or despair, they were missing their calling. That’s why we need the horizontal hold.
Thursday a friend called me out of the blue. For most of his professional life he had been a chemical engineer. But he went through a very difficult time a few years back in which he realized that his calling was to be in full-time ministry. I have always done my best to encourage him in the transition into ministry and in his continued efforts in that. Simply because I believe in him and I want him to serve God and others in the way that God has gifted him. Thursday he called me to give me a word of encouragement. At just the right time, too.
This is the horizontal hold. This is the way we spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

One other banner speaks of the blending of these two. Prepare for Works of Service to Build up His Body. ~ Ephesians 4:12. That’s what the Ministry Fair is all about. I hope as this day continues you will take the time to be prepared for Works of Service. Do a little tuning today. Adjust the vertical and horizontal holds in your spiritual calling. God has made you and saved you to do good works – good works that he has set up already for you to do. And we are all hear to spur one another on.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 8 October 2006

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