Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Do Not Worry

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

TEXT: Matthew 6:25 – 34 ; Job 19:25

Once again we are shocked by the turmoil that has arisen, not just among individuals, but even between nations. Again & again we’ve witnessed how cruel people can be, & how cheaply human life is regarded by some.
Maybe it is time to pay attention to the words of Jesus where He challenges us to focus not on our worries & fears, but on the faithfulness of God.
ILL. Before 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the common belief was that if a ship from Europe sailed too far west, they would either fall off the edge of the world or face terrible dangers.
In England, there is an ancient nautical map dating back to the time of King Henry IV. On it, the mapmakers wrote these words over the Atlantic Ocean: "Here be dragons; Here be demons; Here be danger." And based on such superstitions, sailors were afraid of sailing west.
But there was an English navigator named John Franklin who was a mighty man of God. He knew the Bible says that God “sits above the circle of the earth.” He took a copy of that map & crossed out those fearful warnings & added these 3 words: "HERE BE GOD!"
If you’re a servant of God, you need to know that as you sail toward your darkest fears & deepest worries, "Here Be God!" He is there to keep & sustain us.
Job discovered that. He was able to look through his tears & say: "I know that my Redeemer lives, & that in the end he will stand upon the earth." (Job 19:25)
Our Universe is so large scientists can't measure it. But the Bible says in Isaiah 40:12 that God measures the heavens with the span of His hand. So when your world is crumbling, the most important thing you can do is to place yourself in God's hands. The safest place in this Universe is in His hands.
I realize that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was not speaking on the subject of war. But His command to focus our attention on the power & faithfulness of God - instead of on whatever worries us the most - is just as valid today as it was then.
Listen to what He says in Matthew 6:25-34, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I. THE COMMAND - "DO NOT WORRY"
A. Three times in this passage Jesus commands us, "Do not worry." Or as the KJV puts it, "Do not be anxious." What does He mean by that?
By the way, the Greek word translated "worry" literally means “to be drawn or pulled in different directions.” Worry can tear us apart emotionally & destroy us.
I believe that worry is one of the Devil’s greatest weapons. It can steal your joy, your contentment & your happiness. And what is ridiculous is that most of the time we worry about things that haven’t taken place & often never do. Worry is pointless... it accomplishes nothing.
ILL. A story is told of an old-time minister who crossed paths with a homeless beggar. "God give you a good day, my friend." the minister said. To which the beggar answered, "I thank God I never had a bad one."
Then the minister said, "God give you a happy life, my friend." "I thank God," said the beggar, "I am never unhappy."
Amazed, the minister asked, "What do you mean?" "Well," said the beggar, "When the weather is fine, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have plenty, I thank God; when I’m hungry, I thank God; & since God’s will is my will, & what-ever pleases Him, pleases me, why should I say I’m unhappy when I’m not?"
The old minister looked at the man in astonishment. "Who are you?" he asked. "I am a king," said the beggar. "Where then is your kingdom?" asked the minister. And the beggar answered quietly: "In my heart."
Isaiah 26:3 says, You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
And that is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6. He is telling the people not to let anxiety, worry, or fear take control of their lives. So how can we win over worry? There is no magic pill. But there are changes in attitude that can help us develop a spirit of calmness & peace.

II. THE CURE FOR WORRY
A. In Matthew 6:26 Jesus suggests that we should observe the birds & learn to trust God's providential care. He says, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, & yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
Somewhere along the line we need to slow down & reflect on the promises of God. We need to review & remember these verses: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1)
(Eph. 3:20-21) 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Romans 8:28) “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
(1 John 4:4) 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Trusting God doesn't mean laziness or indifference. It means realizing that God is taking care of us.
That's what makes worry a serious sin. It is accusing God of being a liar. God says in Philippians 4:19, "I will meet all your needs according to my riches in Christ Jesus."
BUT ... Worry says to us , "I don't believe He'll supply my needs."
God says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart & lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, & He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Worry says, "I don't believe God will direct my future."
Jesus promised, "I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20)
Worry says, “I'm all alone."
SUM. If we make a reasonable effort, God has promised to provide for our needs. It's a matter of believing His promises & being content with what He has supplied.
B. Secondly, we need to "Maintain Proper Priorities."
Since humans are more valuable than birds, we are to "Seek first the kingdom of God & His righteousness" & then the things of this world will be added to us. The Christian's priorities are God, people (with an emphasis on family), job & self.
When one keeps these priorities ... in order, God promises to supply every need. But worry mixes up our priorities. The job may become more important than God; and self becomes more important than others.
As a result, our responsibilities seem greater than our resources & our energy is sapped by anxiety. But when we trust God, we keep our priorities in order.
We don't just say it; we do it, & God supplies what we need ... especially peace of mind.
It is interesting to discover that the word “peace” is used around 220 times in Scripture, & it is often linked with the word “righteousness”.
C. Thirdly, we must focus on that which is eternal, rather than that which is temporary ... on the unseen rather than that which is seen.
2 Kings 6 tells the story of the prophet Elisha & his servant as they were staying in the town of Dothan.
The King of Aram (that’s Syria today) was at war with Israel, but every time he planned a surprise attack God would tell Elisha to warn the King of Israel.
So the army of Israel would be there in force, waiting for the Syrians when they attacked. As a result, the Syrian army was blocked in everything it tried to do.
Vs’s 11-12 of 2 Kings 6 tell us, “This enraged the king of Aram.” He was convinced that one of his officers must be spying for Israel. So “He summoned his officers & demanded of them, ‘Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?
‘None of us, my Lord the king,’ said one of his officers, ‘but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.’”
Once they convinced him, the King of Aram sent a major portion of his army in an all-night march to surround Dothan & capture Elisha.
Early the next morning, when Elisha’s servant got up & looked out over the city wall, he saw the great enemy army surrounding the town. Terrified, he ran back to Elisha to tell him what he had seen.
You can almost hear him gasping for breath as he cries out, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15)
But Elisha is calm & says something his servant didn’t understand at all. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)
The servant must have thought Elisha was hallucinating because even counting every man, woman, & child, there weren’t as many people in Dothan as there were in the huge army surrounding them.
But then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” And the Bible says, “Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, & he looked & saw the hills full of horses & chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17) Elisha’s servant was totally unaware that there was a heavenly army surrounding the people of God.
The Bible explains that what is unseen is more important than what is seen. It says, “Therefore we do not lose heart... For our light & momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Jesus says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has trouble enough of its own." (Matt. 6:34)
The Lord didn't say, "Don't worry about tomorrow because nothing bad will ever happen to you." He said that there will be troubles. But He also promised us spiritual resources to cope with them.
ILL. One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford suddenly darkened, & some of the representatives in the Connecticut legislature, glancing out the windows, feared the end of the world was at hand.
Calming the cries for immediate adjournment, Colonel Davenport, speaker of the House of Representatives, rose & said, “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.”
We spend so much time worrying about tomorrow, fearing for what may or may not happen, that we often forget that a Christian has nothing to fear as long as we remain faithful to the calling that God has given us.
Rather than fearing what is to come, we would be much better off taking comfort in the fact that nothing happens to a child of God without our Lord’s faithful hand guiding it first.
As Jesus said, “...do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)

CONCL. Therefore, trust God to provide, & live one day at a time. Let the words of the psalmist be your motto. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice & be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).
ILL. Said the robin to the sparrow, "I would really like to know
Why those anxious humans rush about & worry so."
Said the sparrow to the robin, "I think it must be,
That they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you & me."

Sermon Contributor: Melvin Newland

Coping With Worry and Anxiety

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Matthew 6:25-34

INTRO: It's good to be together again. Today we're going to be talking about “worry and anxiety”. Coping with worry and anxiety. And our text for this morning is Matthew 6:25-34. Usually when you mention worry, I think of the old Mad magazine and it’s character Alfred E. Newman, the boy with misaligned eyes, a gap-toothed smile, and the perennial motto "What, me worry?" Perhaps you remember that as well.

Let’s take a look at some things the Bible says about our topic. One of the first passages I want to call your attention to is found in the book of Philippians. It's a familiar passage, Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

We live in an age of anxiety, and a lot of people suffer from it. The world has faced a pandemic. The COVID 19 virus was highly contagious, and still is. Of course, more are being protected with the vaccine, and we are taking care to follow the guidelines to curb the spread as much as we can.

The virus has spread literally all over the world. I believe I read that every country has been affected. Many congregations have had to cancel assemblies or greatly limit the assemblies out of safety concerns, for the members. We've heard a lot about that. Businesses have failed. People have lost their jobs. Many lives have ended. I think the world now has had 3 million people that have perished. Not as bad as the Spanish flu back over 100 years ago, but still bad.

Black lives have ended at the hands of police. Law enforcement is in jeopardy. Officers have been ambushed and killed. These things ought not to be.

Yet, they're happening in our country almost every day and we are seeing it in the news. Irrational hatred exists, racism persists, road rage is everywhere it seems. Riots and violence and burnings have threatened many cities. Political unrest and hatred is very prevalent today, and seems to permeate society. And war is always on the horizon.

Fear is the fare of the news cycle. Anything that can cause you to fear is good for the news industry. If they can keep people afraid and keep them watching the news to see what's going to happen next, it fuels interest in their product. People buy into that, and they actually become addicted to it in some ways.

This can make for an atmosphere of pervasive worry. We worry and worry. One worrier said to another, “I have so many troubles. If anything happened to me today, it will take me two weeks to get around to worrying about it.” So how can Christians (that's who we're interested in) avoid anxiety and remain faithful and overcome the evil of this world?

Can it be done? The Bible says it can. The Bible is very optimistic about that. We tend to be pessimistic about things. When you include the Lord in the scenario that changes things a lot, it turns the situation around.

Maybe we don't include Him enough. Jesus offers hope for our doubts and fears and anxieties and discouragements. Let's notice some things that Jesus said in Matthew six. Now let’s look at our text which is part of the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 6:25-34 - “25. "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26. "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27. "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28. "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29. "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30. "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31. "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32. "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

That's what the Lord had to say about worry. Kind of simple, easily said, hard to practice. Many times we find ourselves having problems doing this, but He says, take no thought, that's one translation, or do not worry in another.

I. We read in Chapter 6:25. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink...” Then in Verse 31, He says “Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?'” take no thought for what you shall eat. Be not anxious about that. God is not talking about meal planning here. Verse 34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow” Take no thought for tomorrow. Does that mean don't think about it? No. What it means is don't be anxious about it. Naturally we think about it. We have to plan our days and our meals. We have to know that we've got to get up at a certain time to go to work or school or whatever.

A. What He's talking about is being anxious in the sense of worrying about things that we can't control or if we can, then we'll do something about them. Jesus is not saying that we shouldn't plan tomorrow’s menu. It's okay to plan your menu. He's saying don't worry and fret over it.

1. Don't worry about winter clothes in the summer or purchase of homes or health insurance. Yes, those are things that we have to be concerned about. There's a difference in genuine concern and what we may call real worry in the book of Romans.
2. In chapter 12:11, the Apostle Paul said, “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;” We're to be diligent, willing to work.

B. We shouldn't be lazy, refusing to work. A man's to provide for his own household. Paul told Timothy in First Timothy 5:8 - “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1. It means that we shouldn't be anxious about our food, winning it or putting it on the table. We shouldn't be worried about our clothes, choosing them or getting them to fit or affording them, or staying in fashion.
2. Don’t be worried about the things that the world is worried about, like keeping up with the neighbors, retirement, living long, those kinds of things, they're going to work themselves out.

C. What does the owner's manual say about the worry malfunction that we have? That's where we need to be looking. Look at verse 26 that we were reading a few moments ago.

1. “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
2. God thought so. He made us in His image. He thought we were more valuable than they. There are several things which prove that to us.
3. Jesus is telling us, that birds don't worry. Whoever said worrying is for the birds was off the mark, because they don't do that. Whoever heard of a bird taking ulcer medication or committing suicide or dying of a heart attack? Birds aren't concerned about tomorrow's meals.
4. They're not worried about tomorrow yet. They're not trying to figure it all out. God cares for them.
5. Someone has written: “Said the Robin to the Sparrow, I should really like to know, why these anxious human beings rush about and hurry so. Said the Sparrow to the Robin, Friend, I think that it must be, that they have no heavenly father such as cares for you and me.” I suspect the sparrow has a point.

D. I want us to notice something else. It’s senseless for us to think that God would care for the birds and neglect His children, because He doesn't do that. Any father would feed his boys and girls before he'd feed his parakeet or his chickens. God cares for the birds. He cares more for us.

1. Look what He said about birds in Matthew 10:29-31 - “29. "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. 30. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31. "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
2. We shouldn't fear. God cares about them. There must be millions of sparrows. God is aware of every one of them and He cares about them.

E. We're told something in Romans 8:32 we should consider, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

1. God cares for the birds. He cares more for us. How do we know He cares more for us? Because of that right there—He sent Jesus, that's how much He cares for us. We shouldn't be worried.
2. That's how much He cares. He cares for the birds. They don't have immortal souls, and yet He's aware of every one of them. The Bible tells us that.
3. Maybe we underestimate Him, and maybe that's why we worry. We're not giving God credit for the power and the knowledge and the intelligence that He has, and we ought to be doing that.
4. Does worry pay bills? No, it doesn't. Worry is kind of like a rocking chair, it's something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.

Somebody wrote a piece that said it this way.

Worry never climbed a Hill.
Worry never paid a bill.
Worry never dried a tear.
Worry never calmed a fear.
Worry never darned a heel.
Worry never cooked a meal.
Worry never composed a song to sing.
Actually, worry never did a worthwhile thing.

Yet, we worry all the time.

F. So why worry? While various factors and components are important, the Bible cuts deeper because it says that worry is a deeper spiritual issue. This is not to say that the Bible ignores or disputes the mental, physiological, historical, social, or environmental aspects of worry, but the Bible shows it as a part of a spiritual issue.
G. Worry ultimately is a response to a life lived in God's world. God's world--don't ever forget that. Worry, therefore, is a response to God Himself. If you trust the Lord with your eternal life, why would you not trust Him with your temporary situation? I find that thought provoking.

1. If we're going to trust Him with our eternal destination, why won't we trust Him with the everyday things, those challenges that we're facing?
2. God teaches us to trust Him. The birds trust Him. Why can't we? That's to be considered.
3. I suggest that too much worry falls into three categories. Let’s take a look at that.

II. Reruns - Most worries are reruns, so why worry? Things didn't happen like we thought they would the first time. Why are we worrying about that same thing again?

A. Eggs can't be unscrambled, toothpaste can't be put back in the tube. I suppose you could, by adding glue, make sawdust into something resembling wood. What we are saying is that the past is the past; past deeds cannot be undone. Past words cannot be unsaid. If it involves sin, then we need to take care of that quickly. Obey God's conditions for pardon.

1. Saul of Tarsus was told to arise and be baptized and wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
2. Simon, the sorcerer, who had already been baptized, was told to repent and pray that the thought of his heart might be forgiven him and none of those things would fall upon him.

B. James 5:16 says “... The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” In First John 1:7 we read “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Why worry?
C. In the book of Isaiah, the Bible tells us that He will abundantly forgive. If we're worried about God forgiving don't think that God is going to have to ponder and think “Do I want to forgive them?” No. He is eager to forgive. He wants that to happen. He wants us to ask for His forgiveness, and He's more than willing to give it.

1. Look at Isaiah 55:6-7 - “ Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
2. He's not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance. He doesn't want anybody to be lost, so He is eager to forgive.
3. We shouldn't think that we've got to twist His arm and persuade Him. He just wants us to ask. When we repent and ask for forgiveness God forgives, and then we need to forgive ourselves. We need to do that.
4. Paul put the past behind him. He said, “one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,” I can't change it, but I need to start looking to the future and quit dwelling on the past.
5. Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England in 1916, said, “I have made it a practice of my life always to close the gate behind me.”

III. Things that happen - There's a second category in which these things fall. Things that will inevitably happen, we probably can't keep them from happening. All the worry in the world can't change some things.

A. Why do we think that we've got to do all the worrying for the world in order to try to change it? Some worry that the wrong party is going to be elected. Maybe a favorite candidate won’t be put in, and they worry about that. Not our job! We are to just pray and vote and take a stand with Jesus our King, no matter who's selected for an office. Remember that God is the only potentate. He is the one that really matters.
B. Some worry whether their children are going to marry or who they're going to marry. Marriage is honorable. The Bible says, men and women were made for marriage. The Bible says that it's not good for man to be alone in Genesis 2:24. We are to teach our children how to select a mate who will help them go to heaven and pray about it. Then nature takes its course because you can't do everything.
C. Some people worry about growing old and they fear wrinkles and pounds and gray hair. You can't avoid those things. The Bible talks about that. It talks about the fact that all humans age.

1. You've probably read the passage in Ecclesiastes 12. We will not go there now, but Ecclesiastes 12 is a very poetic writing about something, that if you were to just talk about it without the poetry, is not so pleasant. It's about the things that are happening to your body as you age and things start falling apart. Solomon talks about that in a very eloquent way.
2. Also consider what Paul said in Second Corinthians 4:16ff where he talks about it in a different way. “16. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18. while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 1. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
3. We don't need to worry about losing our Tabernacle, not having a place to dwell. God has a place prepared for us. When we're through with this Tabernacle here on the Earth, then we have the promise of a better one.
4. Worrying doesn't slow down our aging. In fact worry may hasten it. It could bring on your death sooner. Each stage and year of our life has its beauty, and we ought to enjoy that. We ought to enjoy life as it comes to us.

D. Some people worry about dying. You're going to die. You can't prevent that by worrying about it. It's going to happen—all die.

1. The Bible says that in Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” Nobody's going to escape that. It was never reported that worrying lengthened the life. Nobody said I worried, and my life was extended as a result of me worrying. That doesn't happen.
2. We need to keep our faith strong. We need to keep our hope real, and we need to look forward to going home to glory with the Lord. That's what Paul did. That's how he coped with some of the things in his life. If some of the things that happened to Paul happened to us, how would we cope with them?

E. If you recall, the things that happened to him were mentioned in Second Corinthians, chapter eleven. “24. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26. in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27. in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness 28. besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

1. Think about those things that happened to Paul. How did he cope? He remembered that Christ took the sting out of death, and Paul coped with those things exactly the way it ought to be done. We have his example, and as he said, in Philippians 4:9 – “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” We should follow Paul's example.
2. Somebody once said, Worry is the interest we pay on tomorrow's troubles. We're paying interest. We shouldn't want to do that. Why pay interest on something that's not due? We shouldn't be doing that.

IV. Things that never happen - The third category of things that we worry about, are things that will never happen. There are things that have already happened and can't be undone. There are things that will happen that you can't prevent, and there are things that will never happen.

A. Certainly imagination creates all kinds of terrors. Things that we're fearful of that never exist. Mark Twain said, “I'm an old man and have had a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” He spent a lot of time worried about things that never happened.

1. One person said, “I always feel bad, even when I feel good, because I know that it will not be long before I feel bad again.” Sometimes we get in that kind of rut, don't we? We don't need to do that.
2. People get locked into constant worries, and they continually fret about all of the things that are going on in the world, and then the things never happen. Yet, they worry, and we don't need to do that. That does not mean we are not to be prudent about what we do. We look at a situation, take any precautions we need and then don’t worry about it. Shakespeare wrote something about, Cowards die many times before their deaths
3. I don't know who did the studies, but I read one that said that 8% of worries happen. Our energy spent worrying is better spent elsewhere. Invest time in working instead of worrying. It would be a good idea if we spent our time working for the Lord instead of worrying. Think about what we could accomplish—that will not be accomplished by worrying.

B. Proverbs 6:6 – “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”

1. We can learn a lot from the ants. They just work and look at how much they accomplish. Sometimes they accomplish more than we want them to. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches us to redeem the time because the days are evil.
2. Abraham Lincoln visited Horace Greeley, the famous newspaper editor in New York, as the President elect traveled to his inauguration. Lincoln told Greeley an anecdote about the question many asked him, “will we have a civil war?” - In his circuit riding days, Lincoln crossed many swollen Rivers. On one of these trips somebody asked him, “if these small streams give us trouble, how shall we get over the Fox River?” They stayed one night at a log Tavern where they met a Methodist presiding elder. He said he came from the other direction. So they asked him about the Fox River. He said, I have crossed it often and understand it well, but I have one fixed rule about the Fox River. I never cross it ‘till I reach it.
3. I never cross it ‘till I reach it. You can cross it in your mind a thousand times, but he said, I never cross it until I reach it. Lincoln was saying that he would worry about the Civil War when the time came. There wasn't anything he could do about it.

C. Things happen or not - Somebody once said, there are only two things we worry about...things that happen and things that do not... That pretty well says everything, doesn't it? We worry about things that happen and things that don't.

1. Things that don't happen we don't have to worry about because they don't happen. Those things that do happen fall into two categories. Things we can change and things we cannot change.
2. That brings us to what is often called the serenity prayer. God, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. If we can't change things, we shouldn't worry about it. If we can change them, we ought not worry. There really is no reason to worry, yet we do.

V. We've already learned from the ant to be wise. A day of worrying is more exhausting than a day of work. Let’s look back at Matthew 6:28 - “28. So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29. and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

A. “O you of little faith.” That stings. Worry indicates a lack of faith. I know we find ourselves in worry at times and that's when we really need to check on our faith.

1. Is this something that God can help me with? Is this something that I can't do anything about? If it's something I can change, then maybe I need to change it and not fuss about it.
2. Worry—wants a solution right now! Faith—trust God's timing in these things. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. He's not saying everything is going to turn out like we want it to. He says “All things...” all sufferings, sorrows, infirmities, and everything else of a discouraging and calamitous nature which might happen to God's child on earth. "For good ..." does not mean earthly prosperity, success, bodily health, or any other purely mortal benefit, but is rather a reference to the eternal joy of the soul.
3. Worry focuses on problems and faith focuses on God. Too often we focus on our problems and worry about them instead of focusing on God. What does that say about us? Does God lie? Is God incapable of keeping His word?

B. We need to question our thinking because sometimes we act like we don't trust God. Romans 8:31 - “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” We know God is for us. We just read that in Isaiah. Faith believes promises despite the circumstances. Worry believes circumstances despite the promises.

1. Paul’s tells us - “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.
2. No circumstance, not cancer, not a terrible accident, not a physical disability, not employment loss, not theft, not bankruptcy, not the death of a child, not unbearable sorrow—can cause Christians to sorrow as those who have no hope.
3. Faith obeys God one step at a time, one day at a time. Worry wants to examine each step it takes. We've got to have all the answers or we're not going to go. We know we can't see around corners, but God can. That's all we need. “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Paul said in Philippians 2:13. If we know God and His promise, we need not fear the tomorrows because we know He is more than capable.

C. Worry kind of insults God because it says, I don't trust my father to care for me. That's really what we're saying when we worry, I don't trust God to take care of me. Problems become smaller when we're in God's shadow.

1. As a child I thought that a knotted shoe string was an unsolvable dilemma. It was the end of the world. I could not get the knot out of my shoestring and was so frustrated before taking it to my father, who quickly untied the knot. Suddenly... the problem was over. Our difficulties are but knotted shoestrings to God. He's our Father, He's unlimited, He's Almighty, and we can trust Him for everything.
2. In the book of Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” That's telling us that God is more than capable.
3. It shouldn't be a matter of trust on our part, but it often is. Paul says in Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Why should we get upset?

CONCLUSION:
As we conclude, I want us to consider the three keys to happiness. The first one is God loves you. John 13:1 – “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”

That's the kind of God we have. We should never fret whether God loves us or not. He loved them to the end. The cross shows how He loves us. Our coins say in God we trust. We put it on our coins but do we put that in our hearts? That is where it should be written.

In Proverbs 3:5-8 – “5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6. in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 7. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”
In Proverbs 9:10 it says, “"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” If we haven't started there, we need to go back there and start fearing the Lord like we should.

God loves us and another key to happiness is that we should not worry because God keeps us. It's in Jude verse 24 it says “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” He is more than able, and we need to trust him for that. We may not have much in this world, but we have the King, and we have His Kingdom, and our inheritance is yet to come.

God loves us, we are not to fear because God keeps us, and lastly we are not to lose heart because God holds us, He supports us. Second Corinthians 4:16 – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Our minds need to be on the things that are permanent, not the things that are temporary.

We dwell on those things above and are not anxious. The world has its problems, but Christians are not required to solve them all or to fix them on their own. Some of them we can't, and shouldn't even be worried about them because we can't fix them.

Sure whatever we can fix, we ought to fix, but if we can't, we need to quit worrying about it. It's God's world. He'll handle it. We are God's children and He will protect you in spite of what else may be going on. Why worry? We need to understand that the Lord doesn't want us to spend time doing that. When you're worrying, you're spinning your wheels. There are other activities that you could do that would be far more beneficial. If it's something you can change, get busy changing it. If you can't, quit worrying about it and go on to something else that you can do something about.

We have seen in this pandemic some people frozen by worry. Some do nothing to help themselves. God has provided help. Instead they do nothing for themselves and temp the Lord by saying to themselves I need to do nothing. God has provided for us but we need to obtain and provide for ourselves and others—not be frozen by worry.
____________________________________________________________________________________

If anybody here needs to respond, either to dedicate themselves to Christ and be buried with Him in baptism, or to ask for prayers on their behalf, won’t you come forward as we stand and sing our Invitational song.

# ???

Reference Sermon: Robert Blackford

What Are You Looking For?

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Psalm 14

Good morning. It’s good to see everyone here this morning. Nice weather we've been having. You laugh at that. Hopefully things are getting better. The indicators aren't saying, well, that means that things will start to happen, like I'll finally be able to safely go get a haircut. It's good to be here with you today.

We need to be asking a big question, which is, what are you looking for? What am I looking for? Let me give my turning to Psalms 14. Where God somewhat indirectly here asked that question through David, I should say. The fool says in his heart, there is no God. They're corrupt. They do abominable deeds. There is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand who seek after God. What are we seeking? I saw a news story two or three days ago on the newsfeed, it said that archeologists in the southwestern United States have found a huge treasure trove of Spanish artifacts, supposedly from one of the first Spanish expeditions into what is now in the United States.

The Spanish were famous or infamous for their lust for gold. They went to great lengths, of course, crossing the ocean in search of gold and treasure. They were enraged (These are confirmed stories.) when they didn't find any in what's now the United States. Legend has it, when Francisco Coronado, the Spanish Explorer, came to what is now Kansas, he was so disappointed that he had his guide strangled. They didn't find Eldorado, the city of gold. He went to great lengths to seek things, material things. As one famous hymn puts it, treasures that perish with using. Other, wiser people, I should say, seek God. That's what I want to turn our thoughts to this morning. How can we find God? How can we truly find God? Turn over to Genesis, chapter eleven and we see one of man's earliest attempts to find God. I should say one of man's earliest attempts to find God on his own, as in a man made attempt. While you're turning there, I should simply summarize by saying right now, there is man's way to try.

The operative word here is TRY to find God. There is God's way to find him. Humans have tried a variety of ways to find God. Lest you think these people are silly, they're superstitious, they're ancients. There was someone on the Internet this week who said, and I'm quoting that we can find God today through the truckers. Through the truckers, meaning the truckers who converge on the Canadian capital. That's how God is speaking to us. You can find God through the truckers. What's some other attempts before we evaluate that a bit...other of man's attempts to find God. Here's one of the earliest, of course, earlier Genesis, as you sure should, or already are probably familiar with, man lost his connection with God thanks to the sin and the Garden of Eden and of course, the flood. Here we are now in chapter eleven.

Genesis eleven, beginning with verse one. It says, from the new King James, now the whole Earth had one language and one speech or the same words, ESV. And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east. They found a plain in the land of Shinar. And they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, Come, let us make bricks and Bake them thoroughly. They had brick for stone and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens. Let us make a name for ourselves. Lest would be scattered abroad over the face of the whole Earth. But the Lord came down to see the city in a tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, Indeed, the people are one, and they all have one language. And this is what they begin to do now. Nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let us go down. And there confused their language that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the Earth. And they ceased building the city. Therefore, its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the Earth. And from there, the Lord scattered them abroad over all the face of the Earth.

They're going to build a tower, often called the tower Babel.

If you just make it high enough, that's where God is. That was their idea. If you just build this tower high enough, you'll reach heaven, where God is. This idea, by the way, did not completely die. There was never this kind of effort. Of course, again after God scattered people throughout the Earth, people who lived in that area, believed to be Babylon, continued to build their temples on mounds. If there wasn't a mountain, they'd make one. They heaped up bricks to make artificial mounds called ziggurats. The idea was, they believe, of course, that God lives up there. The higher you get physically, the closer you get to God, the more direct the connection to God. Could they have built their way into heaven even when their speech was united? No, of course not. Can we literally build our way to heaven or launch our way to heaven in our day and age—the rocket age? Of course not. Building a tower into the sky, that's silly. That is not the way to find God. Neither of us building a space vehicle jumping ahead about 7000 years. Neither was building a space vehicle.

Of course, the first man in space was a Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. The Soviet Union, for those of you who don't know, of course, was aggressively atheistic. Gagarin proclaimed, of course, the victory of atheism as he circled the planet and said, well, essentially, I'm up here and there's no God up here. Therefore, God doesn't exist. Of course, God isn't reachable by spacecraft and he's not reachable by building a tower. Someone said, of course, that if Gagarin was up there in orbit and he couldn't see God, then he must have been staring at his console and not looking out the window.

If you turn over to Ecclesiastes, among many other places in scripture, but we will use Ecclesiastes, chapter three, you'll see what that statement means. If you just looked at the window, he should have seen evidence of God. He should have seen evidence of God. The scripture proclaims that elsewhere that the heavens declare the glory of God. Here in Ecclesiastes three, verse eleven, it says he has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end.

As I said about the weather, you look outside and we can see the marvelous creation of God all around us. I'm from Appalachia originally. I know at least one of us here also. Around there you can look around and see the hills and the mountains, the trees, the flowers, the animals, the changing seasons.

Even eventually, in Chardon, winter does end. We see the beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the vastness and variety of all these things. I've often heard that it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in God. The chances (a math person could help us out here) people have calculated the chances of all this is in the entire world and all of us, all humans. The chances of all this happening by the random chance that evolution would have us believe are infinitesimally small. It's so tiny, the odds of a single cell evolving into a human being are so small mathematically that they may as well not exist. The chance is non-existent that's even if we take their theories at face value. So the point is, if Gagarin couldn't see God, then he could look at his own hands.

He didn't see God because he chose not to. We can see God's handiwork in nature. That's true, we can. A lot of people take the wrong conclusion from that. They say, well, close up the building, let's get out of here. Let's go find God in nature. I've heard this expression, how many of you have? I'm going to go find God on Sunday on the golf course. I hear a couple of chuckles Yes, you might have heard that one. I'm going to go find God on the golf course because I'm out there and it's quiet and I hear the birds chirping and I see the trees and these very carefully manicured golf greens and everything else and lawns. That's how I'm going to communicate with God. We can communicate with God through just well, just going out and being in nature. Let's go on a hike instead of going to services on Sunday. Turn to First Kings, please. Let me ask two related questions. Can we see God in nature? We already said the answer to that is yes. Can we find God in the sense that we can have a meaningful relationship with Him just by going out and taking a hike?

The answer there is no. God created the universe, Genesis One, of course, and everything in it. It speaks to his handiwork. It proclaims his glory, but he's not contained within nature, not even the most impressive aspect of nature. First Kings, chapter 19, 1st Kings, chapter 19. These days, anything is on the Internet on video. I've seen some videos of the most impressive storms caught on camera. It's pretty terrifying footage of ships tossing like this and like that and being carried over, being carried over docks and into city streets and so on and waves crashing against shores and so on. God isn't contained in all that. He's far more powerful than that. He's infinitely more powerful than that.

One of the lessons that he was telling, I should say, trying to tell, because it took Elijah while to get it, but trying to tell Elijah in First Kings, chapter 19. Back up to verse nine. It says, there he came, that's Elijah, he Elijah came to a cave and lodged in it. Behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, what are you doing here, Elijah? He said, I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the people of Israel, have forsaken your Covenant thrown down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. And I even I only am left and they seek my life to take it away.

Jezebel, of course, wanted him dead after the confrontation at Mt. Carmel.

Verse eleven. And God said, Go out and stand on the Mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord.

Very impressive, but finish the verse. The Lord was not in the wind and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake and after the earthquake of fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, the sound of a low whisper or King James a still small voice a low whisper. God can, of course, and has in the past spoken very, if you will, loudly (see his initial interactions with Israel at Mount Sinai in Exodus, Leviticus) where his voice thundered in the mountains, shook and so on.

God doesn't, and He never did, of course, have to talk that way, to communicate that way. He didn't here. Here he speaks to Elijah in a still, small voice, a low whisper. Elijah didn't find God in nature. He didn't find a relationship with God, so to speak, in nature, we can see evidence of God, but we can't find out what it is we need to do to have a relationship with Him in nature. God is God. That's a very simple statement, but it's one that we simply don't think about. God is God. By thinking it through, we should know that God is the Almighty and the all powerful and all Holy creator of all that there is. It is above our level to figure him out, so to speak. God is not to be found by building a tower. He's not to be found through technology. God is not to be found out in nature and only in nature. A meaningful relationship with God, of course, is the connection of a lot of the idols you read about in the Old Testament. Read through Isaiah and Jeremiah, particularly and somewhat in Ezekiel.

They'll talk about the idols of wood and stone and gold. What are these things made of? Things you find in nature. You might have to take them out of the ground, but they're here. They're already here on planet Earth. Okay, so that won't work either. You can't find God on the golf course. What about other things? Can we find God through doing good deeds or having a good relationship with our family? I'm not a country Western fan, by the way, but I am aware of one country song that's about 30 years old by Ricky Van Shelton. And he talks about how having a relationship with his family. This is the title, I believe, that's his way of talking to God. You just have a great relationship. You got a loving wife and loving kids, and you have a loving relationship with them. That's how you have a relationship with God. We could spend all day talking about scriptural examples of how that is just not true. We find examples of how of good relationships and bad family relationships in the Bible. But what does the scripture tell us in both Testaments? Each person or each one shall give an account of who? Himself or herself to God.

I will say bluntly, my father's not a Christian, but my relationship with God does not depend on his relationship with God. I have my own relationship with God. So does he, or lack thereof, and so do you. So do each one of us. It's great. Of course, to treat other people as they should be treated, we're commanded to do this. We're commanded to love each other—treating people right. Having lots of kids and loving lots of kids is not the way to have a relationship with God. There is (I didn't know her personally) an older person within the Sidwell family. I believe she was 88 or 89. She passed away about 30 years ago. I didn't really know her, but my mother went to the funeral and she said, basically at the funeral, they preached her in heaven. In other words, in their own minds, in their own words, they basically tried to explain how this woman, who to anyone's knowledge had never set foot in any sort of church building whatsoever, was going to go to heaven. Why?

She had lots of grandkids. She had lots of kids and they had lots of kids. She had lots of grandkids, in other words, and that's why she was going to go to heaven. We can read through people often pass over those lists of names in the Bible, but read through some of the names that are listed, for example, Jacob's children and their grandchildren. The list of names found in of the Book of Chronicles and then skip to the end of the Books of Chronicles and see that Israel was not found faithful. They had lots of kids. It didn't save them. It did not save them. That won't work either. Trying to use building or technology won't work. Trying to find God in nature by taking a hike or playing golf won't work. We should be loving towards one another, but trying to have a good relationship with our families or having lots of kids or even having kids won't work either. I've heard lots of people say preachers should be married and have kids. Find me a place in the Book of Acts or any of his letters in which Paul was married or had kids.

The point is, I think one can serve God. In fact, Paul addresses this in First Corinthians. One can address God. Paul can serve God. We can serve God regardless of whether we're married or not, regardless of whether we have kids or not. That won't work either. How do we get a relationship with God? Let's stay in the Old Testament and then we'll go to the New Testament.

Turn to Deuteronomy. Firstly, to have a relationship with God requires effort. It requires effort. It is always that way and has not changed between the Old Testament and New Testament. Having a relationship with God is not automatic. It requires effort. To be sure, we don't do the sacrifices and such of the Old Testament. See the Book of Hebrews for details on that. That much, though, is true. It's constantly true. It requires effort. A relationship with God requires effort. We're coming in to Deuteronomy chapter four.

I'm going to begin with verse 25. I'll jump on to verse 26 the second time he says in the New King James I call heaven and Earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess. You will not prolong your days in it, but will be utterly destroyed. And the Lord will scatter you among the Peoples and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you, and there you will serve god's, the work of men's hands. (We just talked about) wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him. If you seek him (with what?) with all your heart and with all your soul, when you are in distress and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey his voice, for the Lord your God is merciful God. He will not forsake you or destroy you, nor forget the Covenant of your Father's, which you swore to them.

That much has not changed. The covenants have changed, but that much has not changed. If we want a relationship with God, we must do what? Seek him with all our heart and with all our soul.

We must seek God (to make this very simple) we must put effort into it...a lot of effort. If you will turn over to Proverbs how we find God is we put effort into it. Probably you've all met someone who is, I’ll use a scene from a movie. You’ve probably met someone like this in real life. There's a scene in one of the horror movies. It's kind of old movie where the monster of the mummy is closing in on the person, and he's got a necklace full of religious icons. He's got a cross and he's got a Crescent and he's got a Star of David, and he's pulling out one after another, chanting with every religion under the sun, trying to stop trying to call upon whatever deity you can find to save himself from this monster. A lot of people in real life treat religion that way. I'm going to get into this Christianity stuff because there might be something in it, just in case there's something true, what they're saying then I'll be secure. I'll have my bases covered, so to speak.

God doesn't work that way, not in the movies, and certainly not in real life. God does not work that way. If we want to seek a relationship with God in the real world, we need to seek after him with effort. How much effort? With all our heart, and with all our soul. It can't just be something like an election. We have elections every year. I teach politics. How many politicians I won't single anybody out. How many politicians find God during election season? All of a sudden they get photographed many times, of course, I'm not being flippant, but the thicker the Bible they're holding, the better for them. All of a sudden they use religion, as Paul put it, a means of gain. Godliness means gain. It's not approved of by God.

Proverbs chapter one, verse 20. If we are truly wise, we will seek God, and we will seek God in God's way. It says, Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the market. She raises her voice at the head of the noisy street. She cries out at the entrance of the city gate. She speaks. How long simple ones will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn up my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you. I'll make my words known to you because I have called and you refuse to listen have stretched out my hand, and no one is heeded because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind. When distress and anguish come upon you, then they will call upon me, but I will not answer. They will seek me diligently, but will not find me.

Like the example, I use it again because I don't want to single anyone out. The example we just talked about, all of a sudden trouble is coming. Then all of a sudden people want God, and people want God's wisdom. Well, in terms of the consequences of your actions, it may very well be too late. You have to live with the consequences of those actions.

Verse 29, because they hated knowledge. What kind of knowledge? I'll pick on everybody here. Some of us can memorize mathematics, how to do mathematics. Others can memorize historical timetables and details of how the US government operates, which always seem to bore my students to no end. That's not the sort of knowledge that the Bible is talking about. Not knowledge for the sake of just knowing things, being able to do well on Jeopardy or some other trivia quiz show. It's talking about knowing God's word and knowing enough and believing in it enough to follow it, to follow God, believing God enough to follow him. They hated knowledge in verse 29. They did not choose the fear of the Lord. Verse 30, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof. Therefore, they shall eat the fruit of their way and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease without dread of disaster or without fear of evil.

The New King James says to find God, a person must diligently seek him and listen to him. What does James tell us? That God is a order of those who will not diligently seek him. That means we must long for knowledge of God. Remember what happened in Revelation when part of the Revelation couldn't be revealed at first. What was John's reaction? Oh, well, it's just another scroll. I'm sure one of these days God will get around to delivering it. No, he wept. It says he wept much because there was no one worthy to open the contents of the scroll until the Lamb, Christ, opened it for him. That's how much he wanted it. That's how much he wanted God's Word, knowledge of God, knowledge of God's Word. That's the kind of desire we need to have. What did Jesus say? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled. That means we need to listen and we need to obey. It's a serious commitment.

We've all probably been around these organizations that some of them will say, how do you get a relationship with God? They avoid many of the things we've talked about, but they'll say, well, you believe in Jesus. Yes. Okay, well, then you're good. Some of them say here's a pen. Sign this pledge card. I’ve read the pledge card. It says something along the lines of and I quote, Lord Jesus, I hereby receive you into my life as my personal savior. Amen. It says something along those lines. I mean, it's about two or three sentences. You sign your name on this little card. You can put it in your wallet, and you have a relationship with God. That's not the way it works either. If we want a relationship with God, we have to seek him with effort. Jesus spoke of having a relationship with God and using what terms those of us who grew up in the country can perhaps better more directly understand this, a yoke. Psalm 78 take my yoke upon you...a yoke and a plow. These things require work. They require effort. Finding God is hard for many because they want to find them the easy way, so to speak, their own way or on their terms.

Acts 17 we'll summarize everything but with one last big example, one last sort of lengthy example of how people have tried to find the divine, tried to find God, and they didn't succeed. Here Paul, inspired by that and by God, and his relationship with God, summarizes man's efforts to find God succinctly. One of the best summaries though I've ever heard one of the best one sentence summaries I've ever heard of what the Bible is from outside the Bible itself comes from a scholar named Alfred Edersheim, and he said that the Bible is the story of man's relationship with God. That might be the best single sentence summary of the Bible, the end of man's relationship with God in the Garden of Eden. God reestablishing His relationship with man through Abraham, through Israel, and now through Christ. God must be sought on God's terms, so to speak.

Acts 17, verse 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus the center of the city of Athens and said, Men of Athens, I perceived in all things you are very religious. That's a better word, actually, than the King James’ superstitious.

You're very religious. I was passing through considering the objects of your worship. I even found an altar with this description to the unknown God. You could see the ruins of ancient Greeks today, and all the altars and such are still there. The Greeks were so conscious of making sure they sought every single deity as they saw it, that they even made this one in case they missed one. Paul says, Therefore the one whom you worship without knowing him, I proclaim to you God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is the Lord of Heaven, Earth does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is he worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything.

You say, wait a minute. We worship him. According to ancient Greeks and Romans, their gods needed food. They literally needed worship or they would die. Their gods would cease to exist if they weren't fed with literal sacrifices of food and given worship. That's what Paul's talking about here, as though he needs anything. God doesn't need us, so to speak, since he gives to us verse 25 all life, breath and all things, and he is made for one blood, every nation amended well in all the face of the Earth and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, the Tower of Babel where we started, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us (as we've been talking about) for in him. We live and move and have our being, as some of your own poets have said, for you’re also his offspring. Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent because he is appointed a day in which he will judge the world of righteousness by the man whom he has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead.

That passage summarizes our thoughts pretty well that God must be found on God's terms. We have to come to Him His way. That means becoming a part of his body, the Church. We cannot live as we please, and we cannot worship as we please. The people of Athens were religious. That wasn't enough to save them.

You may say, Well, I'm a good person. I'm religious. Being religious, especially as the world defines it, is not enough. We need the right religion, so to speak, the right worship, worshiping God his way. We need to make it our aim to please God, not the other way around. If we seek to please him, if we really want a relationship with him, we can have it. We need to read his word and do what it says and do what he says.

I'll give you one last story. We'll wrap our thoughts up here. My father hates I don't know how to make you understand this, but he does. He hates mashed potatoes. I love mashed potatoes. He hates mashed potatoes. He said he would never like to see another mashed potato. He could go the rest of his life and never see another mashed potato. Guess how often my mother fixes mashed potatoes? She doesn't. So it should be in our relationship with God. That's much more serious than mashed potatoes. Obviously, if God says that he doesn't like something, then we shouldn't be doing it. If God says that he should not be worshipped in this way or he needs to be worshipped in that way, then we should follow his instructions.

That means he said that a person must hear and believe and obey the gospel. You cannot find God through technology. You cannot find God just by taking a walk in nature. You cannot find God through your relationships with other people. You cannot find God through religiousness or religiosity that is less than wholehearted, that doesn't give your whole effort. You can find God His way, and that means you need to hear that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of living God. You need to believe that. You need to be willing to confess that faith before men and repent of your sins. You need to put him on a baptism that he's commanded for you to do and then continue to live to the best of your ability, using that effort that we talked about for him, continually growing in your knowledge of him and having a relationship with him. If you've never put him on in baptism, we're giving you a chance to do that. If you have done all that, but your effort isn't what it should be. Your relationship with God isn't what it should be. We'd be more than willing to do whatever we can. Pray with you and talk to you and help you with that as well.

If there's any need you have please come forward as we stand and sing.

A New Commandment

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

John 13:34-35

A woman once told of her experience as a Church secretary. When she answered the phone she’d say, “Jesus loves you, Sharon speaking. How may I help you?” But one day she got distracted because she was talking to others in the office. When the phone rang she answered: “Sharon loves you, Jesus speaking. How may I help you?” There was a pause on the line... and then the caller said, “Somehow I thought your voice would sound different.”
SHARON LOVES YOU... JESUS SPEAKING! She slipped up. She didn’t mean to say what she said but she did, and because she said it, we chuckle... it’s kinda funny. But there SHOULD BE truth behind her statement. There should be a truth that - in everything we say - people should sense what we’re saying is: “I LOVE YOU... Jesus speaking.”

In our text today - Jesus declared: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
This idea – that we should love each other – permeates the New Testament. Just a few examples:
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.
And I could go on and on and on with such Scriptures. In fact, there are 62 verses that talk about “One Anothering” (by my count) of how we ought to treat one another.

But one of the questions we should ask ourselves is this: WHY? Why would God repeatedly challenge us to love each another? Well, the most obvious answer is this: We’re not very good at it. It doesn’t come naturally to us to love others. You see, when we came to Jesus, we were fairly selfish people. Before becoming Christians... we lived lives centered on ourselves.

ILLUS: One scholar reported that although there are approximately 450,000 words in the English language, about 80% of our conversations use only about 400 words. The most common words in the English language are: “I,” “Me,” “My,” and “Mine.”
We LIKE ourselves.

One source I read noted that building managers install mirrors in their lobbies because people complain less about waiting for slow elevators when they’re occupied looking at themselves.
WE LIKE OURSELVES... a lot.

Just a test – try looking at a group picture you’re in and ask yourself who you look for 1st? Odds are, you looked for yourself first. It’s hard not to be a little self-centered... it comes so naturally. Even THEOLOGICALLY, it’s hard (for believers) not to think of ourselves first.
Jesus says we need to focus LESS on ourselves and more on others:

Philippians 2:3 “...in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
So, that’s what Jesus teaches, but EVEN religious folks struggle with that. Just as an example:
Jesus said we should love one another as we love ourselves. In other words – the way we KNOW that we’ve loved others is if we’ve love them as much as we love ourselves. Now, I have heard experts (experts, mind you) try to say that this (we should love others as we love ourselves) proves that we should love OURSELVES FIRST! Because if you don’t love yourself ... you can’t love others.

That almost sounds reasonable, but that’s not what Jesus was saying. Jesus was saying: IT’S A GIVEN that you love yourself. And THAT (loving yourself) is the yardstick of how you should love others.

Paul explains it this way: “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” Ephesians 5:28-29
WE LOVE OURSELVES - and thus we struggle to love others. And that’s why the Bible repeatedly says we ought to love one another. And it repeats that truth over & over again.

Now, here’s the deal - God knew we were going to tend to be selfish even after we’re baptized. So ...He’s not telling us we’re going to get this “LOVE” thing right... right out of the box.  He’s telling us loving others is our objective/ our goal. That may be why Jesus referred to this as a “NEW COMMANDMENT.” It’s “new” because it runs counter to our natural human tendencies. But now that we’re Christians - this is the NEW COMMANDMENT for us. And this new commandment is how we’ll know we’ve become mature. When we’re mature, we will have learned to think of others first. We’ll learn to love others who sometimes even annoy us.

I found something interesting in Galatians 5:22. It says “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace...” etc. When we’re baptized into Christ, God promised to give us His Holy Spirit. The Spirit took up residence inside of our hearts and He began to tinker with how we think, and how we live. And the more seriously we take that reality (that the Spirit is an active force in our lives) the more we strive to “walk in the Spirit.” THUS... the more we’re going to change.

The fact that the Spirit HAS TO TEACH US how to love properly just reinforces the fact that loving others doesn’t come naturally to us. Thus... we have to work at it.  We should get to the point where people hear: “SHARON loves you... Jesus speaking.” Every time we speak, the world should hear Jesus speaking through us. And the way they’ll hear Jesus speaking thru us is if they hear us saying “I LOVE YOU” I care for you. You matter to me.  MARK LOVES YOU... JESUS SPEAKING. So, that’s our goal – to love one another. But how do we get there? Well one way is to get your holiness in order

ILLUS: I tried to find songs that talked about “Loving one another” - and I struggled to find ANY. There were absolutely no hymns I could find that mentioned loving others. It seemed that every hymn I found either talked about how much Jesus loves me or how much I love Him. Now, that’s all good stuff, but it was obvious there wasn’t anything about loving others that I could think of anyhow.

There’s 1000s of hymns and praise songs, but just a handful talked about loving others! I got so frustrated with that, I wrote a new verse for a couple of the old hymns to make up for that. Sing them with me if you will:
IN MY HEART THERE RINGS A MELODY (New Verse) “Our Jesus calls on us to love Him, and to love those He has saved. We give Him praise that He wants from us - when we show the love He gave. (Chorus) In my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody with heaven’s harmony. In my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody of love.”

LOVE LIFTED ME (Chorus) “Love lifted me, love lifted me, when nothing else could help, love lifted me. Love lifted me, love lifted me, when nothing else could help, love lifted me. (New Verse) A new commandment now I sing, loving as Jesus loves. Loving others is my plea, showing His love above. His great love has lifted me, my love should do the same. Lifting others up to Him, should be my aim.”

Now hymns and praise songs are our way of praising God, so you’d expect there to be songs about His love for us and our love for Him. But here’s the deal – You cannot love and praise Jesus - if you don’t love others. So you’d think there’d be songs about this, because what we sing influences our religion.

ILLUS: One of my friends told about a conversation he had with his daughter. The girl said, “Treat other people as they treat you.” He replied, “No, the Bible says to treat others as you want to be treated.” And she’d respond, “Exactly. So, if they are mean to me, that means they want me to be mean back to them.” Now, that daughter was joking (pulling his leg) but that’s the belief that too many church goers have. Do unto others because they deserve it.... Something we need to be careful about.

So how do you fight this dangerous way of thinking? First – you define what love is.
Ephesians 2:1, 3-5 “you were dead in the trespasses and sins... and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.”
What’s that telling us about love? It’s telling us that God loved us when we didn’t deserve it. We were dead in our sins and trespasses ... we were children of wrath. We didn’t deserve his love, and yet, He loved us anyway.

Now compare that... with this verse from 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” Our love for others should cover the sins of others... just like God’s love covered our sins! In other words, IF we love each other as we ought to, our love (just like God’s for us) will cover a multitude of sins.

ILLUS: There was a story told of an congregation that wanted to put a new roof on their church building. So, they hired a man in their congregation to do the job. He told them it would cost about $12,000 to do the work... and so they gave him the money. If I remember the story correctly, he had a gambling problem, and he gambled it all that roof money away. Now, a lot of churches would have been furious about that. They’d have sued him into oblivion for his sin. But not that church. That church forgave him. That church restored him to fellowship in church.
HOW COULD THEY DO THAT? How could they forgive a man who had gambled away their offerings to God? Well, they could do it because they loved him more than the money, and their love for him covered a multitude of his sins.

So, first, you define what love is... then you WORK at showing love. Romans 12:10 says “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” OUTDO each other in showing honor! COMPETE (if you will) with each other to show love to one another!

One man described it this way – If Christ were to come in here today and ask us to give him a pair of shoes or a winter coat, we’d have a stampede of people trying to give stuff to Christ. And if Christ were to ask, "Is there anyone here willing to come down out of your tree and (like Zacchaeus) let me come to your house for dinner today?" we’d have people complaining they didn’t get a chance to get there first.
Soooo, people would compete and try to outdo one another in meeting the request of Jesus.

In Matthew 25:35,38,40 it says “to the extent you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” If you gave a pair shoes or a winter coat to someone in need... you gave it to Jesus; If you invited someone who was hungry to your house to eat... you invited Jesus; If you showed kindness to anyone who needed encouragement or attention.  Compete - outdo one another - to show love, because what you do for others, you do for Jesus.

Someone once put together some of the verses that tell us about Christian love. Christians who love one another: They don’t hurt each another (Galatians 5:15);
They don’t provoke one another (Galatians 5:26);
They refrain from judging one another (Romans 14:13);
They build each other UP (Romans 15:14);
They serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
They carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
They are patient with each other (Ephesians 4:2).
They stimulate one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).

CLOSE: But one of the greatest passages about love was written to a church who was hateful and divisive and self-centered. They were so divided that Paul warned them of God passing judgment on them. And yet, in the midst of his first letter to them, Paul told them what love looked like.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” I Corinthians 13:4-8
Someone once said that Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is a portrait for which Christ Himself has sat.”
INV

sermon contributor Jeff Strite

Do Not Follow the Majority

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Exodus 23:2

INTRO:
In my last few lessons, we were talking about discipleship. We saw that in our loyalty, our commitment to Christ, we may face times of adversity. Paul in his letters to Timothy warned him of this same thing. Look with me at 2 Timothy 3:12-17 – “12. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14. But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15. and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17. that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

We read the last two of these verses where it talks about “all scripture is given by inspiration of God...” and we said that in it we have everything that we need for us to be fully prepared for His coming.

All scripture includes both the Old and New Testaments of course. Paul further indicates the Old Testament scripture is included by the words; “that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures”.

This morning I would like to consider something we find in Exodus 23:2. “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.”

We have often seen groups of people gather for some reason or another and unfortunately at times that group or a portion of that group has participated in some destructive behavior.

Whenever I see scenes like that taking place, riots, vandalism, causing harm to others, I become very concerned. We see people acting as a mob, and I can't help but think that some of the people in those groups are just going along with the crowd.

Some may have gathered with good intentions and then other people are there for destructive purposes. Perhaps their initial motives were good but then they get caught up in the activity of those doing evil and either by direct participation or simply being there—lend their support to the destructive events.

I'm appalled when I see how many people are holding up their phones, wanting to take pictures of whatever's going on. That concerns me.

I believe some people are just going along with what they consider to be the majority. In our lesson, we want to study passages that teach us that God's people must not follow the majority. We will look at some passages in the Old Testament and we want to consider some passages in the New Testament also.

Then we want to consider a familiar story found in the Book of Daniel that illustrates the point that we're making.

I. PASSAGES RECORDED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT - Let's begin by looking at some verses found in the Old Testament and keep in mind that the Apostle Paul showed in Romans 15:4 why we must consider the Old Testament Scriptures. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

A. Paul was referring to the Old Testament Scriptures, and he indicated that there's much to learn from that particular section of God's Word. All of the sacred scriptures, the Old Testament, no less than the New Testament, bears a precious relevance to people of all ages. Although many of the forms and shadows of the old order have been replaced by the realities of the new institution of Christ, a proper understanding of those principles which, in the New Testament, have been supplanted, is surely promoted and enhanced by the study of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.
B. Of course today we're under the authority of the New Testament, but the Old Testament is also the inspired word of God.

1. The Law has indeed been taken out of the way in the sense of what is said in Colossians 2:13-14 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
2. Jesus fulfilled the Law, and it was then taken out of the way. When Jesus died, His new Covenant went into effect. Today we're not under the authority of the Old Testament. However, there is much to learn from the Old Testament Scriptures.

C. Let's consider the verse we just read, Exodus 23:2 - which says, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil”. If you look at the context, you will see that God was revealing His will to the children of Israel through Moses. God told His people that He wanted them to do certain things and He also indicated that there were certain things they were not to do. The Lord covered both sides of the issue.

1. In this verse, God told his people something that they were to avoid. What was it? They were to avoid following a crowd to do evil. That problem has been around for a long time. God knew that people were disposed to do that, and therefore He addressed this very important issue.
2. I believe that we would do well to consider that in the world even today. God wants His people to obey His will even if the majority wants to disobey. So He said, do not follow a multitude or a crowd of people to do evil.
3. Unfortunately, when we look at the history of Israel, we see that God's people disobeyed that command on many occasions.

D. Considered two of those times when they disobeyed. Let's go over to Exodus 32:1-5 – “1. Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'' 2. And Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.'' 3. "So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'' 5. So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.''”[NKJV]

1. The people gathered together before Aaron and made a demand. On this occasion, Aaron gave in to the will of the majority, and he made the golden calf.
2. Where was Moses at this time? He was up on the mountain receiving the law from God. The people saw that Moses delayed. He was up there for some time, and they made a request that Aaron make them gods, that is, Graven images.
3. I am sure you recall who Aaron was, he was the brother of Moses, and he had seen God demonstrate His great power.

a. Remember Aaron’s Rod that budded? You can find that in Numbers 17:8.
b. Also, remember how in Pharaoh's presence Aaron cast down his Rod which became a serpent? The Egyptian magicians did the same thing. They cast down their rods and they turned into serpents, but Aaron's Rod swallowed up all the others.
c. Aaron took the serpent by the tail and it turned into his Rod once again. The point is, Aaron had seen God demonstrate His power on multiple occasions.

4. Moses had made excuses when God was sending him to Egypt to bring his people to the promised land. One thing that Moses said was, I'm not eloquent.

a. God said, Aaron, your brother is a good speaker. I'll speak to you, and you speak to Aaron. He in turn will deliver the message to the people.
b. Aaron had seen God demonstrate his great power.
c. And indirectly Aaron was God’s spokesman yet even so, on this occasion, Aaron followed the will of the majority. He went along with their desires and he made the golden calf.

5. Interestingly, Moses was up on the mountain receiving the law from God. Part of that law from God clearly stated that His people were to not participate in idolatry. They were not to make any graven images, and they were not to bow down to them. Idolatry was clearly forbidden.
6. While Moses is up on the mountain, what were the people down below doing? They were making a golden calf. Who was involved in that? Aaron was. Don't tell me Aaron did not know better than that, because he did. You can find the prohibition of worshiping images was known to Jacob back in Genesis 35:2-4. Aaron had seen God demonstrate His power over and over again and yet what did he do? He very foolishly went along with the multitude to do evil.

E. Let's look at another occasion when the children of Israel disobeyed this command. Look at First Samuel chapter 8. At this time, Samuel was serving as judge and as priest. There was a long period when Israel was led by a series of judges. Samuel was the last judge.

1. Starting in verse one we see something that was done not too long before Samuel passed away. First Samuel 8:1-5 - “1. Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. 4. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5. and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways.” Now listen to this. “Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
2. The Israelite elders came to Samuel and requested that he give them a King. For what purpose? So they could be like all the nations.
3. We see Samuel’s reaction in verse 6. “6. But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us.'' So Samuel prayed to the Lord.”
4. Then in verse 7 God responds, “And the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” God took this request of children of Israel personally. Samuel was upset because of the request. He took that problem to God and God said, they haven't rejected you, they have rejected me.
5. It's unfortunate that his sons were not good judges, but Samuel had the respect of the people and he protested and told them all the things that a King would do, yet the Israelite elders would not relent and continued to desire a King.
6. Now Verse 19 – “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.''” For what purpose did they want a king? To be like everybody else, to be like all the nations around them.

F. It took a while, but eventually the Israelites realized that they had sinned in making this request. Look at First Samuel 12:19 – “And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.''” They finally realized that what they had done was wrong. Remember, God took personally the request that they had made. We just looked at a few verses in the Old Testament. I think we can safely conclude that the Old Testament scriptures show us that God's people must not follow the majority.
G. We find this to be a problem in our world today. I talked a while ago about destructive behavior and about gatherings of people where some get out of control and do evil and others are drawn into it either by direct action or being supportive. But there are other ways we follow the majority to do evil. What about social issues?

1. There's a lot of pressure put on people to go along with the will of certain people who don't necessarily want to follow God's will. I have seen, and I venture to say some of you as well, have seen people who at one time at least gave some lip service to believing in God, yet now are willing to go along with the majority... or what appears to be the majority.
2. That's a serious problem in our world today. That's one thing I learned a long time ago. If something is a problem in the world, eventually it's going to be a problem in the Church. We have to study this matter ahead of time so that we can avoid falling into this trap.

II. PASSAGES RECORDED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT - Let's turn our attention now to some verses found in the New Testament. First to Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” So, so familiar words of our Lord. Jesus was nearing the end of His great Sermon on the Mount, He talked about the few and the many, and He talked about their eternal destinies.

A. In these verses, Jesus contrasted those eternal destinies. When He mentioned the many, He said that they will spend eternity in a place of destruction. From this statement of our Lord, it ought to be clear to us that following the majority is not wise and it is not safe.

1. What's going to happen to the many that are the majority? Their eternal destiny will be destruction.
2. What about the few? The few are the ones who will find life. They won't go along with the crowd. Rather, they will follow the Lord and go where He leads. When we do that, we know that we're going in the right direction.
3. Jesus said that the majority, that is the many, will spend eternity in a place of destruction. For the few, there is an alternative, and it's life, and just as beautiful as the Bible pictures that place of eternal life, it also describes the horrors of that place of eternal destruction. Jesus had much more to say about hell than He did about heaven. I suspect that is because He came to deliver us from that place, and show us how grateful we need to be that He made His great sacrifice.

B. Let's go a little bit further. As we consider passages in the New Testament, it teaches us what Christians are, and will help us understand why we must not follow the majority.

1. So what are Christians? According to Titus 2:14, we are - “... His own special people, zealous for good works.”
2. Then in First Peter 2:5, we are – “... a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Not just a priesthood, but a Holy priesthood. Under Christianity, every child of God is a priest and Jesus is our high priest. We're to be a Holy priesthood, we are not like everyone else.
3. In First Peter 2:9 – “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” That passage ought to indicate to us that Christians are not to be like everyone else, we are a special people, a holy nation.

C. The New Testament helps us to understand that we are a different people and why we must not go along with the majority. The Lord's people cannot be like everyone else and do what everyone else does and expect the Lord's approval. The Lord's Church is not a democracy. The Lord's Church is God's Kingdom.

1. We, as Christians, do not determine right and wrong by what the majority might want. Remember the majority is very fickle. Just in my lifetime, I have seen how views on issues have changed over and over again.
2. Does God's word change? No, it doesn't. God revealed His will once and for all. It's perfect, and we're to follow that perfect law.
3. When we look at people in society, we'll see that their views on social issues are changing all the time and, sadly, not always for the better. Christians determine right from wrong by what the King says in His word. Jesus is our Lord and it is Him we obey.

III. A STORY RECORDED IN DANIEL 3 THAT ILLUSTRATES THE POINT WE ARE MAKING - Let's look at a great story that I know is familiar to you and perhaps it will help us visualize what we are talking about. Turn with me to Daniel chapter 3. There are a number of lessons to learn from what happened in this chapter.

A. It has to do with the occasion when Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, made a great image. Recall at this time, the children of Israel were in Babylon, and they were in captivity. Nebuchadnezzar was King and he had a lot of power. He also had some problems, especially with pride, but God used Nebuchadnezzar to accomplish His purposes.

1. In Daniel chapter two we read that Daniel had interpreted a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had about a great image, and the body of that image was divided into different sections. The various parts of that image's body represented different world kingdoms. The head was of gold, and as Daniel interpreted the dream, he said that Nebuchadnezzar was that head of gold.
2. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that his Kingdom would eventually come to an end and it would be replaced by another...the Medes and the Persians. Eventually, the Greeks would conquer the Medes and the Persians, and then finally, the Romans would become the great world Empire. Then Daniel told him that in the days of the King's ruling that fourth world Empire, God would set up His Kingdom which would last forever.
3. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a great image of which, according to Daniel's interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar was represented as being "the head of gold!" If we may take a somewhat speculative glance at the probable psychology that controlled Nebuchadnezzar, being one of many was not enough; he wanted to be the whole cheese! Therefore, he made a great image all of gold! In other words, he was confident that his Kingdom was going to last forever.
4. History though, has taught us something about the kingdoms of men, they rise and they fall.

B. When that image was dedicated, Nebuchadnezzar gave forth a decree. Let's go to Daniel 3:4-6 – “4. Then a herald cried aloud: "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5. "that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6. "and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.''”

1. That was what Nebuchadnezzar decreed, that when the music was played, everybody in his Kingdom was to bow down before this great image. If someone refused to do that, there was a very stiff penalty of being cast into the burning fiery furnace.
2. When you read different translations you will see different names for the musical instruments. Of great interest in this passage is the prominence of instrumental music in the ceremonies of pagan religious rites. It has ever been thus, and this longtime association of instrumental music with paganism is likely one of the prime reasons why it is excluded in New Testament worship. This association of instruments of music with pagan religion continued unto the times of the apostles.

C. What I want us to see is the response of the people in verse seven. “So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” The majority of people in Nebuchadnezzar's Kingdom did what he wanted them to do, that is, bowed down before this image, when the music was played. What would the children of Israel do?

1. God had told them that worshiping idols was sinful. Exodus 20:3-5 tells us – “3. "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5. you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God...” God clearly did not allow His people to worship graven images.
2. If the Israelites obeyed God, then they would be cast into the furnace. If they decided to follow the majority, their lives would be spared. But they would have to answer to God for disobeying Him. I know you're familiar with this story.

D. Three young Israelite men did not bow before this image. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They were accused of this disobedience and were brought before King Nebuchadnezzar. When the King was told these men refused to bow before his image, he was quite angry. He asked them if it was true “that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?”

1. He said, “Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?''”
2. Look at their response in verse 16. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.'”
3. I've often tried to picture this scene. This powerful ruler is giving these young, captive men a direct command. Did they fold? No. They had respect for God who said, you shall not follow a multitude to do evil, and bowing down to this image like everyone else would have been evil.

E. Nebuchadnezzar became extremely angry at that point and commanded the furnace be heated to the maximum and had them cast in fully clothed. Let's look at verses 25 – 27 where Nebuchadnezzar says, “25. "Look!'' he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.'' 26. Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.'' Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27. And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.”

1. That's complete deliverance, and it made quite an impression on the King. Now verse 28 – “Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!”
2. What if these young men had just decided to go along with the majority? That would have been easy to do, but they would have lost their souls.
3. Furthermore, they would have missed out on a great opportunity to influence the King on behalf of God. This story illustrates well why we must obey Exodus 23:2.
4. If we decide to disobey that passage, God of course, is not going to be pleased, but think about the potential for good influence that will be lost. It pays to do the will of God.

CONCLUSION: Today we have a different majority to contend with, the majority represented in the news media and social media. On any topic, we are presented with what we may perceive as a majority, and we may react to what is presented. Is this perceived majority wrong? As Christians, we need to test what we are presented based on scripture. If we go along, will our action do good or harm? Will it result in our showing the fruits of the spirit or not? Does it show love, is it kind, is it gentle, is it long-suffering, does it bring joy and peace? Most of all, does it give glory to God? Can we say we are doing it in the name of the Lord?

The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments show that the majority does not determine what is right and wrong in the eyes of God.

Jesus, in His great Sermon on the Mount, had revealed His will on many subjects. As He was approaching the conclusion, He challenged the people about what they had been taught over the years, and He called upon them to obey His will even if the majority did not.

Let's read again what Jesus had to say in Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”.

We need to keep in mind what the Lord says in these verses, and then examine ourselves to determine if we are indeed traveling the right path. In our discipleship, we need to continually check to determine if we are, in love and loyalty, following the Lord's will to the best of our ability. And to ensure the influence of the majority and not deflect us from that narrow path that leads to eternal life.
____________________________________________________________________________________

If anybody here needs to respond, either to dedicate themselves to Christ and be buried with Him in baptism, or to ask for prayers on their behalf, won’t you come forward as we stand and sing our Invitational song.

# ???

Reference Sermon: Joseph Vaughan

Passing The Test

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Genesis 22:1 – 14

Most of us are familiar with this song – it’s the theme from the television show Friends. But have you ever caught the lyrics to the song? They read, in part:
So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year

You know, some of us can relate to that first verse a little more than others. We all have bad days, but for some of us those bad days have stretched into bad weeks, months or even years.
We find ourselves talking like Eeyore, and saying things like, “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” We have a pessimistic, browbeaten, downcast view of life.

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Genesis 22:1-2. It says, “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied.
“Then God said, ‘Take your son, you only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’”
A college professor I had told us that he would give a test every week. He warned us that every day we should come to class ready to take a test. He said, "You will never know on which day the test will be given. It might be on Tues., or Wed., or Thurs., or Fri., so therefore, you should always be prepared for the test."

I am convinced that he really delighted in saying, with a gleam in his eye, "Please take out a clean sheet of paper & a pencil. Today is test day!"
Personally, I believe that life is full of tests.
When I finished my college years I rejoiced, thinking that at last I would be free of tests that I would never have to take another one. But I discovered, after graduating, that I was really just starting a time of testing.
In every stage of life there are tests. There are tests as children there are tests as adults. You get married & there are more tests that you face.
When you have children, a whole new set of tests arise. No matter which way we turn, we find ourselves being tested. And many are failing these tests.
Succeeding, passing a test, almost always brings a sense of satisfaction. But when we fail the test, when we don't measure up, there invariably is a bit of sadness, or despair, & maybe, deep down inside, even some shame.

I have read the first two verses this morning of the 22nd chapter of Genesis to set the stage. I wanted you to see that God said to Abraham, "I am going to give you a test."
Now, I don't know how you feel about that. I know that I would rather see God in a different light than as a "test-giver."

But as I read my Bible I find repeatedly that God does test people & I'm convinced that He is also testing me practically every day of my life.
So, I ask you this question, "If God should come & say to us, 'Today is test day.' How would you do?"
I'm sure that some would pass & some would fail. But please realize that I am not talking about a test of Bible knowledge. Rather, I'm talking about a test more like the one that Abraham took - a test of commitment, a test of faith.

Many of you are familiar with the story that is found in Genesis 22. God spoke to Abraham & said, "I am going to give you a test. Take your son, your only son by your wife Sara, the son whom you love take him to Mt. Moriah & there offer him to me as a burnt sacrifice."
Despite the shock of God’s command, vs. 3 tells us that Abraham obeyed. Early that next morning he started loading up the donkey he summoned two servants to go with him he took with him some firewood & a fire & they started their journey.

Finally, Mt. Moriah was on the horizon. Once Abraham reached it, he told the two servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (vs 5)
So they continued on just Abraham & Isaac. Then in vs. 7 Isaac asks a very difficult question for Abraham to answer.
Isaac asks, "The fire and wood are here...but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answers, "God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." (vs 8)
So they go on to the top of the mountain. Abraham builds the altar places the wood on top of it ties the hands & feet of his son & places him on the altar takes his knife & raises it in the air.
With a breaking heart he is ready to take the life of his son & offer it to God when suddenly, in vs’s 11-14, an angel of God calls out & says, “‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ Abraham replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said.
‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’
“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
“So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Well, that is basically the story. But I want you to realize that in this story Abraham faced three separate tests.
The first one is a test of obedience. Now right after God told Abraham to go to Moriah & sacrifice his son, the very next verse, Vs. 3 begins with these words, "So Abraham rose early in the morning & saddled his donkey..."

Now if I had been Abraham & God had told me, "I want you to sacrifice your son," I would have tried to think of every possible reason not to have to do what God had commanded.
I’m sure Abraham had some good arguments that he could have used. He could have said, "God, have you forgotten? Remember, I was 100 years old when Isaac was born, & Sara was 90.
”God, you promised that through my seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Isaac is still a boy. He has no children. Have you forgotten your promise?"
Abraham could have used some very strong arguments to try to change God's mind, but he didn't. He simply saddled the donkey & started to obey God.
That is hard to understand in this day of optional obedience. We have a difficult time with that word "obedience." Every time someone issues a command, we immediately start to think of reasons why we don't have to obey that command.
In this day when rioters burn & destroy & aren't arrested;
when criminals commit crimes & aren't punished
when children disobey teachers without being punished
when parents are so lenient with their children
we tend to feel that we have optional obedience. We don't have to obey if we don't want to!
The bottom line is this: We try to convince ourselves that God is just like us, & therefore, God doesn't punish either.

So God says, "Do what I say!" & we answer, "Well, maybe I will, & maybe I won't, because if I don't, there is no real punishment." But you see, that is contrary to everything that God's Word teaches.
There are volumes spoken about the wrath of God & the punishment of God when we disobey Him. And we have not done well in the obedience department.

ILL. God spoke to Adam & Eve & said, "Don't eat of the fruit of the tree." But they disobeyed. God gave 10 commandments to Israel, & said, "Do what I say!" but they disobeyed, & so have we.
Jesus came saying, "I give you a new commandment Love God & love one another with all your heart & soul & mind & strength." And we have not done well in the obedience department.
So I ask you, if God were testing your obedience, how would you do? Abraham got an "A" on that test. Without questioning or rebellion, Abraham did exactly what God asked him to do.

Test #2 is a test of self-denial. This is also a hard thing for us to accept today. Abraham listened to God & God was very explicit.  He said, "Abraham, take your son, your only son, the son whom you love, Isaac..." Three times God told him what son. "Take Isaac, the son you love, your only son..." He said, "...& offer him as a sacrifice."
Isaac was the son that God had promised him, the son of Abraham & Sara’s old age, & Abraham loved him with a greater love than anyone can even have for himself.
Fathers sometimes say, in a macho way, "I would willingly suffer for my family." Most of us would, if there were no way around it. But it is a different thing when we are asked to watch our families suffer.
And God is asking Abraham to do the hardest thing possible. He says, "Take your son, your flesh & blood that son whom you love - & offer him to me. Give him back to me!"
We live in a push button society where all the conveniences are at our fingertips, & we like it that way. We don't want to sacrifice. We don't want to have to hurt for God.

So the whole idea of self denial is foreign. We don't really know what it is to sacrifice. We live in a very self indulgent society.
Yet God said to Abraham, "I want you to take the most precious possession in your life & give it to me." And Abraham passed that test, too.

The third test is a test of Abraham’s faith in God. Notice what Abraham says to the 2 servants in vs. 5. He says, "We will worship", then "We will return."
Now, I like that. Abraham didn't know what was going to happen. Abraham knew that God had given him a specific command & that command was to sacrifice his son. So he said, "I will do it. I will obey." And he knew exactly what the command to sacrifice meant.
He knew that God’s command meant that he would have to offer Isaac, & yet, in faith he said, "We will go worship, & we will return."
Abraham didn't know what was going to happen on that mountain, but the one thing he knew for sure was this, "The Lord would provide." He knew that!

That is a childlike faith ... no questions asked. "The Lord will provide" whatever the circumstances whatever happens even if Isaac is dead God is still going to provide. "We will return."
I would like to have that kind of faith - a faith that never questions what God is doing that never argues with God, but is always obedient to Him. God help me to mean it with all my heart when I pray to Him, “Not my will but thine be done.”
Now what about testing God? Time & time again we read in the scriptures about the children of Israel “testing” God in the wilderness after He freed them from their slavery in Egypt. But their kind of “testing” was not a good thing.

You see, they tested His patience, they tested His anger, they tested His mercy & His forgiveness. They were constantly complaining, & disobeying His commands.
So we hear Moses saying to the people, “Why do you put the Lord to the test?” (Exodus 17:2) & “Do not test the Lord your God...” (Deuteronomy 6:16).
And we hear those words again from the lips of Jesus when Satan comes to tempt Him in the wilderness after His baptism. Three times Satan tries to get Jesus to sin, to take the easy way out. But Jesus rebuked him & said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Luke 4:12)
But there is one way in which we are told to put God to the test. We are to test His promises. For example, in Malachi 3:10 God Himself says, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty,
‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’”
And how about some of the promises that Jesus made? He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary & burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Have you tried that?
He also said, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) Have you tried that?
You see, God always keeps His promises. Just as Abraham passed the test, God has always passed the test. You can trust Him to keep His word.
Now how about us? Are we passing the tests of obedience & self denial, & faith?
How are we doing in the most important test taking on the face of the earth?
Graduation time for some of us can't be very far away. I pray that we are ready.
You see, that's the point of this message. Regardless of the immediate outcome, when we do what is right & are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us.

Several years ago a submarine was being tested and had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to the harbor, the captain was asked, "How did the terrible storm last night affect you?"
The officer looked at him in surprise and exclaimed, "Storm? We didn’t even know there was one" The sub had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached the area known to sailors as "the cushion of the sea." Although the ocean may be whipped into huge waves by high winds, the waters below are never stirred.
The Christian’s mind will be protected against the distracting waves of worry if it is resting completely in the good providence of God. There, sheltered by His grace and encouraged by His Holy Spirit, the believer can find the perfect tranquility that only Christ can provide.

Christopher Parkening is regarded as the world’s greatest classical guitarist, & he’s played guitar with orchestras the world over, including for several presidents in the White House. He’s also a world-class fly-fishing champion.
He writes, "By age 30, I’d achieved all my dreams in the musical world, but I was tired of hotel rooms, performances & recording sessions. It was time to go fishing, so with the money I had earned, I found my dream stream on a ranch in Montana.
"I bought the ranch, called my management group at Colombia, & told them I had no desire to play anymore. I had earned enough money that I didn’t need to work anyway.
"So for several years, I did what I wanted, but as time went by, my life became more empty. I found that when you have everything you thought would make you happy, & it doesn’t – you start asking questions like: What’s missing?
"While in California visiting friends, I attended a church where I heard a sermon entitled, "Examine yourself whether you are in the faith." The preacher said that you could know all about Christ, the Bible, even pray to God, & Jesus could still say, ’Depart from me, you worker of iniquity, I never knew you.’ I was convinced that if I had died that night, Jesus would have spoken those words to me.
"So I walked down the aisle, surrendered my life to Christ, & was baptized. I read the Bible when I was a kid, but I never wanted a Lord to obey unconditionally. I went home that day broken over my selfish ways.
"That night, I couldn’t sleep, so I got up & started reading the Bible, & I developed a great hunger for the Word. Soon I came across 1 Cor. 10:31 that said, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
My life NOW has purpose & I’ve learned the true secret of genuine happiness! Have you?"
INVITATION

Sermon Contributor : Melvin Newland

Dressed in Readiness

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Luke 12:35-59

INTRO: Good morning. I will continue this morning with our text in Luke chapter 12. Luke continues in the same context we saw last time dealing with what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We read verses 1-12, and the first thing we noted was that while we are indeed given instructions and commands, there is more to discipleship than being compliant with a list of rules. Yes, rules are an important part, but God loves us, gave us free will, and desires us to be loving children, committed to Him in loyalty and love.

We were shown that it may be in our loyalty and commitment to God and His promise, that we may face times of adversity. This can be a stress point where it tests our loyalty and you might say it divides the sheep from the goats.

In the next section, we found that commitment to Christ oftentimes means that we need to prioritize things in this life. There was the example of someone concerned about his inheritance to the point where it was his focus when in Jesus’ presence. Jesus showed us that the Kingdom is not about money, and one's life does not consist of the abundance of the things we possess. It's about love, commitment, and loyalty.

This morning we will continue starting in verse 35 where we will see the commitment to Christ is an ongoing proposition, not a one-off event. This is a total commitment and it means being alert and ready at all times. Ready to serve, to teach others, to help those in need, and to love, not just one another, but our neighbors as well. Part of that commitment is having an expectation of His return.

We don't know exactly when that's going to be so the call to us is to always be on the alert, always to be ready, always be prepared because we don't know when Christ is coming again. If we are truly committed and loyal to Christ in discipleship then we will be found constantly busy about the work He has for us.

I. Let us begin then at Luke 12:35 – “35. "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;”

A. This is a warning to be prepared. We see the term girded in Exodus 12:11 when the people were told that while eating the Passover; “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's passover.” Clothing at the time consisted of loose flowing robes and to “gird” meant to belt it up so one could move quickly.

1. Have your sandals on and have a staff in your hand while you're eating this because when the Lord comes, it's going to be quick. This judgment is going to come upon Egypt and you have to be prepared.
2. Exodus 12:29-31 – “And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock.” 30. So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31. Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise and go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said.
3. The children of Israel were prepared, they had eaten to the full, with haste, and were ready to move. Jesus alludes to this in Luke 12:35.

B. Isn't that what we are doing? We have the blood of the lamb on our doorpost. That is, if we have the blood of the lamb on our hearts, on us, the wrath of God will pass over us.

1. We are also constantly feeding on the lamb. John 6:54 – “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” We're constantly feeding on Christ in the sense that we are connected to Him in faith. We are constantly taking Him in. When you eat something, it becomes one with you as it assimilates into your body. We take in Christ. We have oneness with Christ as we're devoted to Him, as we walk in Communion with Him, as we abide in Him, we're constantly feeding on the Lamb.
2. We also are to be dressed in readiness. In other words, with our loins girded, sandals on our feet, and our staff in our hands, knowing that He could come at any moment, that judgment could come at a time we are not expecting.
3. How should we be prepared? Look at Luke 12:35 again. We should do it dressed in readiness for Him to come again and have our lamps lit. Here is implied that there would be darkness. Don't we live in a world of darkness? In this world of darkness, we have to constantly have our lamps lit. Jesus said in the sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five that we are the light of the world. He says, Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.

C. We are to constantly be letting our light shine in this dark world, constantly having the light shining within through the true knowledge of the Son and of our Savior, Jesus Christ, being filled with light inwardly, and shining light outwardly. We should have our lamps lit all the time.

1. There should be no time where we say, I've had a bad day and my light won't shine quite so bright today.
2. No, we always have the lamps going, and that's how we should be. The lights should be on saying, Lord, come at any moment. We're prepared for you to come.
3. We left the light on for you and we are dressed in readiness. That is, mentally prepared, ready for His coming. Just being in that posture of, Lord, you could come today, therefore we're living as though you might come today.

II. Now Luke 12:36-38 – “36. and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37. "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38. "And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.”

A. Jesus says we are to be like servants waiting for their Master, watching and ready. The analogies in this parable are; (1) the master = our Lord, Jesus Christ, (2) the marriage feast = Jesus’ ascension to glory, (3) the master’s return = the Second Coming of Christ, (4) Loins girded, lamps burning = faithful Christian service, (5) Second and third watches = indefinite time of the Second Coming, (6) the servants were then served = eternal joys of the saved, (7) watchfulness of the servants = the watchfulness expected of Christians.

1. We need to be in such a state of mind that when He comes, we're prepared to just open the door and receive him. There's no time to be looking for oil for your lamp, getting dressed, and then looking for a way to light the lamps. You've got to be prepared and ready when He comes.
2. Look at verse 37. If we have prepared ourselves for His coming, guess what? The roles are going to be reversed. You've been serving Him all that time getting prepared, but when He comes again, He's going serve you and bring you into a state of blessedness.
3. Then in verse 38 we find there is a definite hint that the Second Coming will be delayed far beyond the expectations of that generation. The watches represent the dead of night, and by metaphor, the unexpectedness of the Second Coming.

B. Then in verses 39 and 40, Jesus warns again about the consequence of not being prepared and watchful. Luke 12:39-40 – “39. "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40. "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.''” Jesus starts with the word “But” and then dramatically shifted to another metaphor in which He compares His Second Coming to the unexpected arrival of a thief. Paul applied the same figure of speech to the Second Coming in 1 Thessalonians 5:2

1. A person who doesn’t have their house ready, who isn’t on watch, is susceptible to a thief coming in and taking their possessions. He will come at a time when many Christians are not prepared but have fallen asleep in their commitment to Christ.
2. If you're on your guard, and you're watchful, then you'll be ready and you'll be prepared. When He comes the ones prepared will not see it as the arrival of a thief but as the arrival of the loved and longed-for One. For them, it will not be night but it will be as day for our lights will be burning strong.
3. He is coming one way or the other. Either he's going to come to meet us or we're going to go to meet him in death. Either way, we don't know exactly when that's going to be.

III. Continuing in Luke 12:41 – “41. Then Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?''

A. Peter appears to be curious and asks Jesus if the parable was for them or everyone. The answer to Peter would of course be “Yes” and in Mark 13:37 – Jesus says; “... what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

1. Here though, Jesus answers indirectly. Let’s look at what Jesus answered Peter by asking the question in verse 42 And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Then Jesus says; 43. "Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44. "Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.
2. Jesus is asking here about a certain person, a faithful and wise steward. The sensible steward was a person who was in charge of the estate. Yes he's a servant but also has some authority, probably very similar to what Joseph had, if you remember Joseph back in Genesis, he was put over Potiphar's house.
3. Who were the stewards Jesus is asking about? First, I would suggest that they would be the Apostles. The primary application was to Peter and the Apostles, but that doesn't mean that the principle doesn't apply to the rest of us as well.
4. By the use of the word "steward," Jesus includes all who undertake to do the Savior’s will, and do service at His bidding. I would say anyone who has the responsibility placed on them for the spiritual advancement of others, needs to be diligent about that task. Feeding the household, the flock.

B. Whether it's someone who's preaching, or teaching formally. Or it could be someone who has small children they trying to raise in the knowledge of the Lord. A Bible class teacher. Even brothers and sisters, just one to another, can be helping each other get their daily portion.

1. I think everyone, if it's within the realm of possibility for them, should be working towards helping someone else spiritually.
2. Whether it's a friend, whether it's a child or grandchild, we can help each other in our spiritual formation. There are a lot of ways in which you do it, but the Lord wants us to be diligent in giving people their daily portion, helping each other out in our spiritual growth.
3. Paul spoke of this in his letter to the Ephesians; Ephesians 4:10-14 - “10. He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12. for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Notice the purpose here is for equipping who? The saints, that is us. For what? For the work. What else? for edifying the body of Christ.
4. There is more and Paul goes on: 13. until we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; This is our goal, to perfect ourselves in the knowledge of Christ. But there is a warning and Paul continues, 14. that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive,”

C. In our text at Luke 12:45 Jesus stated a warning as well. 45. "But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and maidservants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46. "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware; and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. ”

1. This is a description of someone who's doing the opposite of what they should do. This is a person who is abusing other people and being self-indulgent. In this verse, Jesus passed beyond the metaphor of physical punishment to appoint him his portion with the unbelievers which is a reference to the final judgment.
2. Verses 47 and 48 tell us that the judgment will be just. Judgment will come for all and that includes those who do not accept Christ. They will not be prepared. Jesus tells Peter, and us, that there is a real weight of responsibility on those who know He is coming, who have been given the knowledge of the truth, for we have been given a tremendous opportunity to serve Him.

D. The idea here is that when we understand the gospel and we come to Christ, we are making a commitment.

1. Think of all that God has given us, the tools and the opportunities presented to us. (1) He gives us His Holy Spirit. (2) He gives us His Word. (3) He gives us gifts and abilities in accordance with His Word. (4) He gives us knowledge of Himself. (5) He gives us knowledge of the future.
2. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for corrections, that the man of God may be fully equipped unto every good work. We have everything that we need and we're fully prepared to be ready for his coming.
3. Certainly He should expect more from us when He comes again. That only makes sense. A boss is going to require more from his employee based upon how trained, how equipped that employee is, the investment that he's put into that person for him to be a profitable employee. There is going to be a greater responsibility on him than a new hire or someone who doesn't even work for the company.

IV. As Jesus continues at Luke 12:49 – “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! ” He is warning about division. I suspect some are reminded of Jeremiah 23:29 "Is not My word like a fire?'' says the Lord... "

A. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to come and bring Israel back into a blessed state. They expected him to sit on the throne in Jerusalem, to take the place of David, and to free Israel from all of its oppressors, all the nations.

1. When Jesus came He brought instead, the gospel, and understanding "fire" here as the word of God, that is, the gospel, gives the key as to why Jesus desired that it already be kindled on earth. Paradoxically, however, the preaching of the gospel would bring pain, sorrow, and division, as well as joy, peace, and salvation.
2. Jesus brought fire and judgment. John the Baptist said this as well in Matthew 3:10 – “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And in 3:12 – “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

B. Luke 12:50 says; “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” This of course is referring to what Christ must suffer. He's talking about the baptism of death, the baptism of crucifixion, of suffering, everything that He's about to undergo when He goes into Jerusalem.

1. By the way, that baptism is kind of that we undergo. Yes, we do practice water baptism, but what are we baptized into? His death. The old self is crucified with Him. Romans, chapter six. We joined Him in that baptism to walk in newness of life. Living a life committed to him.
2. Jesus had this baptism coming, this baptism of suffering. He says, how distressed I am until it's accomplished. He knew the crucifixion was coming. Yet, He also knew of the blessings that were going to flow from it.

C. Continuing now at Luke 12:51-53 - 51. "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52. "For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53. "Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.''”

1. Jesus tells us by a divine prophecy that the gospel will cut across family lines. People are converted as individuals; Jesus' prophecy here has been fulfilled in every community on earth where the gospel message was preached.
2. Inherent in the conflict between light and darkness human divisions are brought into view. True, Jesus was preaching love, joy, peace, and goodwill, etc., but it should never be thought that conflict and division are negated by Christian principles. To preach God's love is to encounter hatred; to teach truth is to endure the furious opposition of error.
3. I will ask the question yet answer only to yourself. How many of you have experienced this in your family where Christ comes into the situation one way or the other and people start battling it out?
4. There was this expectation that the messiah was going to come and bring unity. There is going to be a time for that when He comes again. Then there will be this unity that will take place, and there's even a foretaste of that within the Church. We, as the Church, are a symbol of the unity that can be brought through Jesus Christ.
5. But for now, there's friction. There's conflict that comes oftentimes in serving Christ. He's just saying, be ready for it. Don't be naïve.

V. Starting in verse 54 we see a warning about lack of perception. Luke 12:54-56 – “54. Then He also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming'; and so it is. 55. "And when you see the south wind blow, you say, 'There will be hot weather'; and there is. 56. "Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?”

A. By paying attention they (and we) could generally detect what the day is going to be like. As imperfectly as we forecast the weather, we at least have general ideas of what type of weather is coming. We may not have the specifics nailed down, but we have an idea of what the weather will do based on what we see. Jesus says in verse 56, you hypocrites, you know how to analyze the appearance of the Earth and the sky. Why do you not understand this present time?
B. The coming of Christ had been prophesied thoroughly. (1) the prophetic weeks of Daniel were expiring, (2) John the Baptist, “that Elijah” has come, (3) the scepter had departed from Judah, (4) the sign from heaven occurred at Jesus’ baptism, (5) it was revealed to Simeon that the Christ would appear in his lifetime, (6) Christ had been baptized at the Jordan and identified by John as “the Son of God”.
C. Jesus clearly fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament and they should have seen that He was from God through the miracles He was performing and the teachings He was giving. Yet many rejected the Messiah that did come, though the signs that He gave were much greater than just a cloud passing over the Mediterranean or some wind blowing from the south.

VI. I would call this next warning one against procrastination. Luke 12:57-59 – “57. "Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? 58. "When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59. "I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite.''”

A. Look at verse 57. Jesus is asking, why don't you take initiative to figure out what's going on? The teacher and the preacher will teach and preach, but all of us individually should have the initiative to figure these things out on our own as well. Use your resources to go about doing that. Observing what's going on, compare that with scriptures. Compare it to what the Lord is saying. Take your initiative to figure out what is right.
B. The exhortation here is for ACTION NOW; do not wait until judgment is set, but make an agreement now, while you are "on the way."

(1) Just as the human system of courts decides human affairs, in the larger sphere of time and eternity it is God, the judge of all, who makes decisions.
(2) All men are represented here as "on the way" to court, that is, moving inexorably to that moment when all shall stand before the Judge.
(3) The man in the parable had an opportunity to settle before he got to court; and so do men have a chance to make peace with God now.
(4) While it was the adversary who provided the occasion for reconciliation in the parable, think of it spiritually. The one who is with us "on the way" is Christ, who also shall judge men.
(5) Letting the matter reach the judge can result only in disaster for the offender; the man who does not prepare to meet God in advance of the judgment shall likewise encounter disaster.
(6) Notice the necessary implication throughout, that the offender on the way to court has a very poor case, there being no way that "justice" could decide in his favor.
(7) Hence, the necessary deduction that preparation should be made NOW.
(8) That Jesus' use of an analogy that makes Him "the adversary" is illuminating. Such was the hostility of that generation that they would instantly recognize Him in the comparison.

CONCLUSION:
That's what it means to be a disciple. It means being committed to Him even amid adversity, being loyal to Christ, no matter what happens. It means also making some very difficult decisions about your priorities in life.

We should all be prepared. We see in this last section of chapter twelve, the call to be ready for Christ coming. We are to be ready all the time, be alert, be prepared, and be active. We do this in two ways, by our spiritual formation, being diligent about learning more about God, getting into the Word, spending time in prayer, commitment to Christ, and Communion with Christ, abiding in Christ. There are a lot of internal things that we deal with and wrestle with as we are trying to advance spiritually. But it also includes helping other people as well.

When you have a few minutes I suggest reading Matthew 25 which goes into a little more detail about those things. There is also this call to help administer to people, to the sick, visit the sick, someone's hungry, give them food, if someone's naked, give them clothes, it is about being benevolent towards others. There are things that we are to do. But the idea is that we're busy, that we're active, that we're prepared.

We have our eyes looking up to heaven, but at the same time with our hands, working here on the Earth, and being prepared so that when He comes again, we're dressed, ready, the lights are on, ready to receive Him, and He will receive us into His Kingdom. That's our call this morning. If you're here, settle out of court with God today. That would be a good way to end this. As I mentioned before, we've all accrued debt because of our sins, the transgressions, iniquities that we've committed. Oh, and that last part? “...till you have paid the very last mite.” The language here is in the sense of future-perfect: "will have paid"; and that moment never arrives. The full repayment or liquidation of the debt is not possible for the guilty person. Condemnation lasts forever.

But God has given us the means by which that debt can be erased, eradicated through Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:14 tells that He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, by nailing it to the cross. If we'll come to Him in faith, stand on the Grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. If we'll repent of our sins, turn back to Him, if we'll meet Him in that baptism of His death, committing ourselves to Him, we have the promise of eternal life, eternal blessedness. It's a good trade. As one put it; All of us "are moving on to the courtroom of the Great Judge," and all "should make peace with their adversary while they have opportunity to so.”
____________________________________________________________________________________

If anybody here needs to respond, either to dedicate themselves to Christ and be buried with Him in baptism, or to ask for prayers on their behalf, won’t you come forward as we stand and sing our Invitational song.

# ???

Reference Sermon: Joseph Vaughan

What IF Our BLESSINGS Come Through RAINDROPS

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Romans 8: 28 – 29

(This recording had sound difficulties)

Earle Dickson was the cotton buyer for the Johnson and Johnson Co. back in the 1920's. So, he was out on the road quite a bit, and he worried about the welfare of his wife while he was away. You see, Josephine was very accident prone. It seemed like she was either cutting or burning herself almost every day.
When Earle was home, he would take the dressings and rolls of surgical tape that his company made and carefully bandage her wounds.

But you see, with the 3-inch-wide rolls of surgical tape and large bandages available in the 1920's, two hands were required to apply them properly. And he was sure that Josephine wouldn't be able to do that by herself.

One day, he had an idea. He cut part of a 3-inch-wide roll of surgical tape into 1"-wide strips and laid them on a kitchen counter, sticky side up. Then he put some small squares of gauze in the middle of each one, leaving sticky tape showing on both ends.

Now, should Josephine injure herself while he was gone, all she had to do was to take one of those strips and apply it to her injury herself.

Earle's idea worked so well that he began to leave these self-applying bandages every time he left town. Sometime later, at a party, Josephine mentioned Earle's idea to the company president, James Johnson.

Johnson liked the idea, and in 1924 when he added Band Aids to their product line, their company's sales increased by 50%.
And ever since then, Band Aids have been one of Johnson and Johnson's major products.
Many inventions that have simplified our lives today would never have been invented if there had not first been a problem that needed to be solved. And I'm convinced the same thing has happened in the spiritual realm, too.

Now we would prefer not to have any problems. But God often uses problems to produce good in the lives of His children. In fact, isn't that what Paul is saying in Romans 8:28-29? Listen to these familiar words:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son... "

God wants us to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”, to become more and more like Jesus. And the problems we face and overcome in life are a part of this process.
So... let’s look at 4 specific blessings that come into our lives through our problems. For as we see how God has used problems in the past to bring about great blessings, it will help us in the problems we face today.

First of all, sometimes God uses problems to direct us. We see this in one of the earliest problems the church faced. It's found in Acts 6:1-7. Vs. 1 says:

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food."
In those days there weren't any government welfare programs. Your welfare depended almost entirely upon your family.
When you were a child your parents took care of you, and when they became old, you took care of them.
But if an older woman lost her husband and her children, or didn't have any children in the first place, she was in dire straits. Unless someone took pity upon her, she ended up having to beg for food just to stay alive. And it was here that the early church showed its love by distributing food to widows and orphans and those in need among them.

But evidently there were some widows whose needs had been overlooked. And they just happened to be Grecian Jews. Now here is where the problem arose.
Some Jews who had lived all their lives in Jerusalem considered Grecian Jews as "immigrants" or 2nd-class citizens because they had lived most of their life in other lands, had grown up speaking other languages, and many of their customs seemed strange and different.

You can imagine the suspicion, the jealousy, and the division in the church that might have resulted from this neglect of the Grecian widows. But there was no division. Why?
Because, through the apostles, God used this problem to lead the early church into making some very important decisions.

Listen to vs's 2-6, "So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.
‘We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.' This proposal pleased the whole group.
“They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them."
And you see the results.
1, Instead of arguing, or trying to figure out who to blame, they set out to solve the problem.
2, Instead of resenting the Grecians for complaining, they actually chose 7 Grecian men to take charge of the Jerusalem church's entire food distribution program to both Hebraic and Grecian widows alike.
AND 3, Instead of the apostles being burdened down with even more worries and responsibilities, now they were able to concentrate on their main task - preaching the Gospel.

And besides that, there were 7 more men, full of the Holy Spirit, taking part in the leadership and ministry of the church.
And what was the ultimate result?
Vs. 7 tells us, "So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."
You see, sometimes God uses problems to direct us, to show us what is best.

GOD USES PROBLEMS TO CORRECT US
Secondly, God can also use problems to correct us. There are times when we're stuck in a rut, and God uses problems to change us. It isn't that we're doing anything wrong - it's just that we need to go in a new direction.

But there are other times when we are definitely wrong. We have strayed into sin, and we need God's correction, His discipline, in order to have our fellowship restored with Him. So God will use some problem in our life to stimulate us to think about the sin that we have fallen into and to correct our behavior.

A perfect example of this is one of the most familiar parables in the Bible, "The parable of the prodigal son," found in Luke 15:11-20.
Jesus tells of a young Jewish man who squanders his inheritance in a foreign land. And when a famine occurs the only job he can find is feeding pigs.

Now it just doesn't get any worse for a Jew than to sink so low as to end up feeding pigs. Yet the pigs were better off then he was, and it says that he longed just to be able to eat the food that was being given to the pigs.

Finally, his problems got to be just too much for him, and he began to correct his attitude and his actions. He admitted his sins, repented of them, and turned his steps toward home once again. And his father received him with open arms.

By the way, do you realize that when we deliberately stray from what we know is right, God has promised to correct us? Hebrews 12:5,6 says: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves..."

God knows how devastating sin can be. So, when we yield to temptation, He has promised to correct us. And God has used problems as a tool to do just that.

So when we're having problem after problem, maybe we need to ask our-selves and God if there is some area of our life that God is trying to correct.
Not all problems are allowed for the purpose of correcting us - but some are!

Thirdly, sometimes God uses problems to protect us. And we see that clearly illustrated in the life of Joseph in the Old Testament.
Joseph was obviously his father's favorite son. And as a result of this favoritism, his brothers hated him.
Then one day their hatred boiled over and they seized him and sold him as a slave to a caravan travelling to Egypt.
It all happened so quickly. One moment he was the favorite son, getting anything he wanted. And the next, he was in chains and sold into slavery.

But God had a purpose and plan for his life, and He was watching over him, protecting him, even though Joseph didn't realize it then.

The story of Joseph's life is a remarkable one, and only the miraculous hand of God could have accomplished it, taking him out of slavery and making him a ruler in Egypt, second only in power to Pharaoh himself.

And then years later, during the time of severe famine in all the area, Joseph saw his brothers once again when they came to Egypt to beg for the privilege of buying food.

At first they had no idea that this Egyptian ruler standing before them was Joseph. But finally, Joseph revealed himself to them. When that happened his brothers were petrified with fear and begged Joseph not to kill them.

Joseph knew how much his brothers had hated him, but he also saw the hand of God working in his own life, and how God had protected him through it all.
So Joseph said to his brothers after he had made himself known to them (Genesis 45:4-8).

"... do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping.
“But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt."

You see, God had not only protected Joseph from death at the hands of his brothers, but He also used Joseph to protect his whole family.

They were the chosen people of God, descendants of Abraham, the lineage from which the Messiah would come. And realizing that God had used his problems for his protection gave Joseph the wisdom and courage to continue on.

So we must learn to trust God - even when problems come. He will direct us, and correct us, and protect us, for He has promised to work out all things for the good of those who love Him.

Finally, God sometimes uses problems in our lives to perfect us, to make us complete, to help us become what we can and should be.
Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, "...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

How is God accomplishing this? What process does God use to complete this good work that He has started in our lives?
Romans 5:2-4 says, "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope."

Did you hear that?
God can take the problems, the heartaches, the suffering that comes our way, and use them to produce perseverance and character in us. And as our character grows and develops, it gives us hope.

We have tangible evidence that God's grace is working in our lives, and this gives us confidence for the future. But the process all begins with how we handle the problems that come our way.

A great musician once said, "The richest chords require some dark colored keys." Well, I'm not a musician, but I think I understand what he was saying. And it's that way in life as well. If we're to have the richest character, we must have some problems as well.

But if we love Him, God will use those problems for our good to Direct, Correct, Protect, and Perfect us.

A missionary in New Guinea tells the following story:
It was back during the Great Depression, and his grandfather was a carpenter. But one particular day his grandfather was at the railroad station, sealing up crates filled with clothes his church was shipping to an orphanage in China.
On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to get his glasses, but they were gone.
When he mentally retraced his steps, he realized what must have happened. His glasses had slipped out of his pocket and fallen into one of the crates while he was nailing it shut. And now his brand new glasses were heading for China!

The Great Depression was at its height and Grandpa had 6 children. He had spent $20 for those glasses that very morning and was upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. "It's not fair," he told God, "I've been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this."
A year later, the director of the orphanage was on a leave in the United States, visiting all the churches that supported his work in China, so he came to speak one Sunday at the grandfather's small church. The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage.

"But most of all," he said, "I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists, on their Great March to the North, had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses.
"I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was no way of replacing the glasses in my part of China. Along with not being able to see well, I had terrible headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this.

"Then your crates arrived. When we removed the covers, we found a pair of glasses lying on top." The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then he continued,
"Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom-made just for me! I don't know why you included those glasses, but I want to thank you for doing so from the bottom of my heart!"

The people listened, happy for the miraculous coincidence of the glasses. But they thought that surely he had confused their church with another. There weren't any glasses on the list of items they had shipped.
But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an old man, my grandfather, just an ordinary carpenter, suddenly realized that the Master Carpenter had used him in an extra-ordinary way.
INVITATION

Based on Sermon
By Melvin Newland

Loyalty versus Compliance

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Luke 12:1-34

 

INTRO:  Good morning.  This morning our text is found in Luke chapter 12.   In this chapter Luke gives us the words spoken by Jesus Christ shortly after He walked out of the Pharisee's house.   Here Jesus gives them and us a warning and as examples He uses the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the lawyers and the scribes who were going about religion the wrong way.   This is a warning against what they were doing but also transitioning into discipleship.  In other words we are being warned of the things that can befall us.

 

In Luke 12 we find a series of nine warnings spoken by our Lord on one occasion.   What we'll find as we go through the chapter, and we will just consider verses 1-34 today, is that to be a true disciple of Christ we must not just have compliance, but loyalty.

 

Thinking about that we realize there's a difference between compliance and loyalty.   Compliance says: These are the list of rules I've got to keep.   I'm going to do the bare minimum to make sure I don't get in trouble.   I'm just going to follow them and be compliant with those rules.  That in itself is not bad.   If I have an employee that follows the rules I know they are going to show up on time.   They will do what it takes to keep from getting in trouble, for them to retain their jobs, or maybe to get the Christmas bonus at the end of the year.   They're going to do their jobs, and that's all fine and good in and of itself.  Yes, they are they're going to punch out right when it is time to leave.  But they will follow the rules of the company, the rules of the road and the laws of the country.

 

Loyalty goes above and beyond that.   Loyalty says I buy into the vision.   I buy into the mission, the overall mission.   I'm even willing to go above and beyond to accomplish the ultimate goal.  They're the ones that show up early.   They make sure they have everything squared away before the day begins.   They might even stay late, not even getting paid for it, but they want to finish up some stuff that they had going on during the day.   

 

As Christians, it should be that we are not just compliant, but loyal to Christ.   I suspect there are too many Christians who are just concerned about being compliant.

I went to Church on Sunday—check.

I said my prayers—check.

I read the Bible once this week—check.

 

Their whole approach to the spiritual life is just a checklist.   They just want to do what they believe they need to do to get to heaven.   As long as I’ve got that squared away, then I'm good to go.  What Luke in chapter twelve is going to teach us is that discipleship goes above and beyond that.   It's not about, I want to do just enough to make God happy so that I can go to heaven.  It's about being loyal, it's about being dedicated to Christ.

 

What is your relationship with God?   Think about your relationship with your spouse for those who are married, what’s better, loyalty or compliance?   You want your spouse to say they love you, so each time they go somewhere they are careful to declare their love.   You expect certain things from them so they do those things.

 

Or do you want a spouse who loves you, is devoted to you, loyal to you, would die for you if the occasion called for it?   They would go above and beyond to make sure that your life is better because of them.    Obviously, we want that, right?

 

Our approach to Christianity should be based on a relationship where, yes, I want to follow the expectations that Christ has for me, but more important than that, I want to dive into the relationship.    I want to give my all to Christ, I want to be committed to Christ.   I want to be dedicated to the vision, and I give myself wholly to Christ, even if that means adverse conditions.

 

  1. Now lets take a look at our text Luke 12:1-7 – “1. In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.     "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.  3.  "Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.  4.  "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  5.  "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!  6.  "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  7.  "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

    1. This is a time when Jesus’ ministry is pretty popular and if we look at the last two verses of chapter 11 we see that the Pharisees were plotting against Him. A great many people came together, so many that they're stepping on one another just to get a glimpse of Jesus, to see what He is doing, and to hear Him.    While this is happening Jesus said to His disciples beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

      1. We know that hypocrisy is a literary term used in connection with Greek drama and means `play-acting'. Usage of the word in a Christian context connects it to insincere pretensions of religious piety.   The person practicing hypocrisy will put on the air of being sophisticated, dedicated, and committed to God, but in reality, they're not.
      2. Jesus combines two terms here, leaven and hypocrisy. Leaven is the emblem of every active principle, good or bad, which possesses the power of assimilation.  In this case the leaven refers to the Pharisees teachings and the hypocrisy of their actions.   As one put it;  "The essence of their doctrine was hypocrisy and that combined with the leaven of their teaching had its inevitable effect to make hypocrites, to reproduce itself."    
    2. Why would Jesus warn the disciples to "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”? I suspect there are two warnings in this simple phrase.  
    3. First, that a successful teacher can end up being a hypocrite and by doing so spread hypocrisy. Can that happen today?   Of course.   In the business world there is a saying “nothing breeds failure like success”.  
      1. That is something even Christian leaders need to be watchful for. Hey, we are having an influx of people coming to the building, popularity is growing.  That can lead you to the temptation to become a hypocrite like the Pharisees, because in popularity, there's a temptation to play to the crowd.   You want to increase your popularity, to want people to come, not for the Kingdom of God, but because you're trying to build up “your Church”.    Maybe your goal is to build a mega Church or something, or you're all about just pleasing the crowds.   You're acting like you're working for the Kingdom, but you're really working just for popularity. 
      2. The Apostles would experience this possibility in Acts chapter two. After one sermon preached, basically, 3000 people are saved, and then that number increases by 5000 later on.    However the Apostles kept their focus on the Kingdom. 
    4. Second, the warning told them that as they went out to proclaim the gospel, when they were preaching and teaching, they would come across Pharisees. They were not to take at face value what the Pharisees said.  Those Pharisees are likely to deal with you in a hypocritical way.   
      1. They even did this with Jesus. How often do we have a Pharisee or a lawyer or a scribe coming to Jesus and saying, oh, teacher, we know that you teach things rightly, and they butter him up and they act like they're really genuine in the questions that they're asking.  
      2. They were asking him questions to try to entrap him and to try to get the crowds to split over Jesus.
    5. In verse 2 Jesus says; "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.”
      1. The connecting word “for” tells us that the hypocrisy of the Pharisees will one day come to light and their true motives will be exposed. There's a warning here for us as well, because if we become hypocrites, if we are just play acting, if we are just putting on a show, that will come to light.  

        1. You can only pretend for so long. You can only put on a show for so long and then people are going to recognize the fact that you are not consistent.   If you are or have been a parent you are probably well aware that children will notice when you are not consistent. 
        2. When you're just putting on a show, that will come to light. It would happen with the Pharisees and it could also happen with us as disciples of Christ.   The idea is that we should be loyal to Christ through and through and be careful not to put on pretense.
      2. In verse 3 He says; "Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” Another connecting word “therefore”.  It is to no purpose to hide things, for, sooner or later, truth will come out; and a lying tongue is but for a moment. If you speak in darkness that which is unbecoming and is inconsistent with your public professions, some way or other it shall be discovered.   Ecclesiastes 12:14 says; “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.”   First Corinthians 4:5 tells us; “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts; and then each one's praise will come from God.”   In other words, spurn the leaven of worldly praise and wait for the true praise from the Father.
      3. In verses 4 and 5 Jesus says; "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”   
        1. The disciples are not to fear people because the only thing that people can do to you is affect you in a temporary way. They might hurt you physically, or they might slander you, try to injure you emotionally.   
        2. They might even put you to death, yet all those things are temporary because the God we serve is the eternal One and with Him are the eternal consequences. It is Him we need to respect and put first.
      4. I suspect that from time to time we may run into situations where we might hide our commitment to Christ for the sake of other people. We can call it fear, or we can call it being made uncomfortable.   “If I show my stand on this I don’t know how they will respond.”  “It might make things difficult at work, maybe cost me my job.”   “I do not want to alienate my relative.”   “My friend will take serious offence.”   Do we lay off the throttle a bit because of fear of other people?   Again, we're going back to commitment, loyalty, right?
        1. The good thing is, if you fear the Lord, if you respect Him above everything else, He's got your back. He's going to take care of you and provide for you.   Jesus says in verses 6 and 7; "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.    "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. D o not fear therefore; “you are of more value than many sparrows.”   
        2. In other words, you don't have to fear in connection to these temporary things because you've already made the commitment and put God first in your life. Therefore God's going to honor that by providing for you.    He knows what you're going through and even a small Sparrow is not forgotten by God.
        3. “you are of more value than many sparrows.” We are like that little bird.   We're not the highfalutin, internationally acclaimed preachers or televangelists or anything like that.   We're just normal people going out and trying to serve the Lord.   Probably forgotten by the rest of the world.   You know what?   We're not forgotten by God.  God sees everything that we're going through.   
  • Go with me now to the next section of our text, Luke 12:8-12 – “8. "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.    "But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.  10.  "And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.  11.  "Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.  12.  "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.''”   

    1. In verses 8 and 9 what is meant is more then just saying the words, “Jesus is Lord”. Obviously, when we come to the Lord, we confess Him as Lord, as Christ, as the One that we're committing our lives to.    However if we just say, I confessed Him way back when I was baptized and that’s it, we have an incomplete understanding of the confession Jesus is talking about here.

      1. This is an ongoing confession, living a life of confession if you will. Each and every action that I take, every word that I speak, every intention of my heart proclaims Jesus is Lord.   We are reminded of this in Colossians 3:17 where it says; “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” 
      2. When you do everything in Jesus name you are confessing He is Lord before men. If everything you do or say is in Jesus name, you are loyal to Christ, and He will confess that loyalty before the angels of God.   Of course if we deny Him, if we shy away, then we are not really Christians, are we?   Jesus says, then I’ll deny you.   That’s only fair, right?  
      3. When we confess Christ, when we're living Christ in our lives, we're demonstrating the fact that we are truly committed to Christ, it's done through the strength of and the power of the Holy Spirit. Now look at verses 10-12.   It says that when a person speaks a word against the Son of man it will be forgiven him but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.   Christ instructed that people should confess him, the converse of that being that some would deny him.
    2. Go back to the Old Testament and we will see people rejecting God. They rejected the prophets and then in the New Testament when Christ came, they rejected Him.   Israel had the habit of denying God through ages, and now of denying the Christ Himself.   
      1. Here He gives the warning that there was a final and irrevocable sin about to be committed by them in denying the gospel that would be launched through the apostles, under the power of the Holy Spirit. This warning here was brief, but Matthew and Mark both repeat it in Matthew 12:32 and Mark 3:29.
      2. "The Holy Spirit with his teachings is the last that God has to offer man; and, if one blasphemes the Holy Spirit by rejecting the New Testament, the gospel, there is no chance for forgiveness." Jesus is God's last word to men.
      3. Someone may think, “Are there times that I've blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and now can I not be forgiven?” I would suggest that because that person knows they have sinned they have not rejected the Holy Spirit in their heart. 
    3. Why is that the unforgivable sin? Because in such a state, repentance is impossible.   If a person does not even realize that they are sinning, if goodness no longer has any appeal to them, then they cannot repent.    God has not shut them out; by their repeated denial of God they have shut themselves out.  That means that the one person who can never have committed the unforgivable sin is the person who fears that they have, for once a person has committed it, they are so dead to God that they are not conscious of sin at all.
  1. As disciples we should know that when we confess Christ, we will receive adversity. Jesus continues; "Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.  "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.''  

    1. I wondered why in this chapter we are shown loyalty in the midst of adversity? I believe that it's in adversity where our true loyalty is manifest.   Going back to our job analogy, I have found you can tell the difference between the people who are just compliant and people who are loyal when things start to go awry in the company.  

      1. The ones who are just compliant are going to be looking out for number one, and they will jump ship as long as they believe it's advantageous to them.
      2. That's what they're going to be concerned about, but the loyal employees are going to be the ones who stay aboard, even when the ship seems to be sinking, because they're loyal to the company, they believe in the company's vision and they want to see it through, even if it means hardship and trials.
    2. The same thing is true in our dedication to Christ.   It's when the fire comes, when the difficulty comes, that the sheep are divided from the goats, the ones who are truly committed versus the ones who are just trying to be compliant.  
      1. Here in America, and I pray that this doesn't happen, but if it does happen, if we really, truly begin to become persecuted in a very real way and a very harsh way, I think that's when this division is going to start taking place.
      2. We are already kind of persecuted you might say. Certainly not like in some places on earth where our very lives may be forfeited.   If that happens here we will certainly see the division take place between the sheep and goats.  If that happens we will see which of us are really committed to Christ, and which of us are playing Christian just enough to be compliant in order to benefit ourselves.    
    3. Yes, to a degree we are persecuted here, and John explains this in John 3:19-21 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.   "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.''”   In our loyalty to Christ and His word, we are going to be a light that will make many uncomfortable and even some that think themselves Christians.
  2. Jesus explains that our loyalty plays into the way we deal with the worldliness around us, including possessions and money. We pick that up starting at verse 13Luke 12:13-15 – “Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.''   But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?''  And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.''”    
    1. Under Jewish law, the older brother would have inherited two-thirds of the estate, and the younger brother one-third; since the older brother would have been executor of the estate, the appeal here would seem to be that of the younger brother, implying either of two problems: (1) either the elder brother had not given him his share, or (2) the younger brother was thinking of breaking the ancient custom which gave the double portion to the oldest son. We are not told. 

      1. Jesus refused to be involved either way. As the commentator Boles viewed it, the man "probably thought he had a just claim," or he would not have taken it to Jesus. 
      2. These verses teach that Christ's kingdom is spiritual, and not of this world. Christianity does not intermeddle with what we call rights.    It is too often that the church is asked to step into disputes, but the Master knew that would not solve people's problems as long as their biggest problem, sin in their heart, was within them.   Christianity is not an arbitrator, it is a light. 
      3. There was no fault with this man's request, but Christ absolutely refused to accede to it. Jesus did not approach the problems of social injustice by an assault upon established institutions. He did not take the man's part against those who had wronged him.  Just as Jesus refused to accept criminal jurisdiction in the case of the woman taken in adultery (John 8:3-11), or take sides in a political problem, as in the question regarding the tribute money (Matthew 22:17).  He carefully avoided the snare and the rock upon which so many Christians have stumbled.  
    2. Yet, Jesus did answer him. Jesus showed that young man, and us, that there is a higher standard, a better way of approaching life.  We are surrounded by materialism and we can end up thinking our happiness, our self worth, and indeed our very life is connected to our possessions.  That is not so, and though material things may be used to accomplish some purpose or goal, that is all they are.  What we have in Christ is spiritual, it is eternal, it is our heart and soul.   It fills our deepest needs. 
      1. Jesus explanation continues now in the parable of the rich man starting in verse 16. He uses this to amplify the point that material possessions will never be enough for us and they are not that important when compared with the things of God anyway.  
      2. What Christ has to offer are things that are eternal, things that will bring you into an abundance of spiritual wealth, eternal life, immortality. That will happen whether you die today or if you die 50 years from now, it will still be valid.  It will still be good, and it will go beyond this life.   Material possessions are just temporary.  They may put a smile on our face for a moment, but in the end they won’t.
    3. At verse 22 and He said to his disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. "Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.”
      1. Here we are in the first month of this New Year and as we go into this New Year let us implant that into our brains, into our minds, into our hearts. Life is not about food.   Life is not about clothing, even the most basic necessities.   They temporarily may brighten your life a little bit.   

        1. You might live another day because you ate or you might live a little bit longer protected from the elements. Yet, that's not where your true life comes from.
        2. Even the most basic things, He says, “24. "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?    "And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  26.  "If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?  27.  "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  28.  "If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?  29.  "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.  30.  "For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.  31.  "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  32.  "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
      2. Jesus is not saying we should not do the things that are needful. For indeed 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 says; “… If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  And 1st Timothy 5:8 admonishes; “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
        1. Jesus wants us to keep our focus, our perspective. Do not lay awake nights worrying, planning and scheming.   Use your energy to do the things of life, working, providing, all those things—in the name of the Lord. 
        2. Jesus is pointing that out here in these verses to look at nature. Nature isn't stressed out.   Nature isn't worried about this or that, but God is always constantly supplying what nature needs to continue.
        3. Notice in verse 34 Jesus says; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” He is focusing on our heart and our loyalty.  Jesus wants us to be loyal to Him from the heart, even when it comes to worldly goods and possessions, the things that we often desire the most.   Where is your heart? 

 

CONCLUSION:

We realize that loyalty is what Christ is seeking from us, not checking off a list.  Lists are good reminders but they can become a trap when we think that is all there is.   One negative thing that a list can do to us, is tempt us to desire to adjust it to fit our desires in life.   Many religious organizations fall into this trap.   Remember the lawyer in Luke 10:25 asking about eternal life?  Jesus asked him what was written in the Law and the lawyer responded “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and `your neighbor as yourself.”   Jesus told him that he was correct.   Then the lawyer asked “And who is my neighbor?”

 

Loyalty means that even when we're in adverse conditions, when people are coming out against us, whoever they might be, we stand firm, confessing Christ, living a life that declares Christ as Lord.

It means living a life that is not caught up in material possessions and the things that this world has to offer.   I want to tell you, this is a good life.    How much less stressful is it when you realize you don't have to follow after the world, you don't have to spin the wheels that the world is spinning.

 

We can live our life to the heavenly Kingdom which transcends this world.   It really puts your mind at ease to realize God's taking care of you and the basic necessities.   You focus on the Kingdom and everything works from there.

 

It's a life that we invite you to this morning.  If you want to give your life to Christ, yes.

He's going to ask some things of you… maybe to put away some things in your life.   That's what repentance is all about.   That's definitely a part of coming to Christ.

What He's really asking from you though, is your heart, your loyalty.  Are you willing to give your heart to Him today?  He doesn’t say to confess Him yesterday, but confess Him for the rest of your life and to give your life wholeheartedly to Him…be committed to Him, committed to His cause, dedicated to the Kingdom and living your life with that in mind.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church. 

 

If anybody needs to respond, either to dedicate themselves to Christ and be buried with Him in baptism, or to ask for prayers on their behalf, won’t you come forward as we stand and sing our Invitational song.

 

# ???

 

Reference Sermon: Joseph Vaughan

Facing the New Year

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Philippians 3:12-14

There is an old story about a happy little boy who went out into the field wearing a baseball cap. In one hand he carried a baseball, & in the other a baseball bat. His face bore a look of tremendous confidence.

Cocking his bat, he tossed the ball into the air, saying, "I’m the greatest batter in the world!" Then he swung & missed. "Strike one," he said.

He picked up the ball, examined it, & then threw it into the air again. As he swung, he repeated, "I’m the greatest batter in the world." Once again he missed. "Strike two," he said.

This time, he stopped to examine his bat to make sure there wasn’t a hole in it. Then he picked up the ball, adjusted his cap, & tossed the ball into the air for the 3rd time.

He repeated again, "I’m the greatest batter in the world," & swung with all his might & missed for the 3rd straight time. "Wow" he cried, "What a pitcher. I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!"

A. Today is the 2nd Sunday of a new year, & as we look back over the last 12 months, I’m not sure whether most of us would be considered pitchers or batters. One thing for sure, at times we have all struck out.

So, I guess it’s good to be able to start over afresh. This past week most boys & girls will be home from school. A lot of young people are home from college for the holiday season. And most of us are recovering from the activities of the Christmas season & are getting ready for the activities of the new year.

What do you anticipate for this upcoming year? Are you full of enthusiasm, looking forward eagerly to what each day will bring? Or are you filled with a sense of dread, worried that this year will be worse than last year was for you?

B. Like the little boy with the bat, may I suggest that your attitude, your frame of mind, your reaction to its events will largely determine whether this year is a year of victory or a year of defeat.

The Apostle Paul was never one to let circumstances conquer him. Rather, with the help of God, he was determined to win the victor’s crown. Listen as his attitude, dedication, determination shine through in these words found in Philippians 3:12 14.

"I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind & straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

With Paul’s words fresh in our minds, here are some suggestions to help us be all that we can be this year.

First of all, recognize the value of time.

How do we value ONE YEAR? Ask a student who failed a grade.

How do we value ONE MONTH? Ask a Mother whose baby arrived prematurely.

How do we value ONE WEEK? Editors of weekly newspapers know.

How do we value ONE HOUR? Ask someone who lies terminally ill waiting for a loved one who is late.

How do we value ONE MINUTE? Ask someone who missed a plane, a train, a very important engagement that would never be rescheduled.

How do we value ONE SECOND? Ask an Olympic Medalist, or someone who just missed having an accident, or someone saying “goodbye” to a loved one they will never see again.

Of course, we know that time is a human invention. I’m convinced that God doesn’t wear a wristwatch or use a calendar. The Bible says, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, & a thousand years are like a day." (2 Peter 3:8) God deals with eternity, & therefore time is not an important factor with Him.

But time is important to us because we live in a limited time frame. We begin with infancy, then go on to adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age, & to everything that follows. We measure life in segments of time.

Now, what makes something valuable? Oftentimes it is scarcity. If there is a scarcity, then that product quickly escalates in value.

So, if something is rare, it is usually valuable. But if we have a lot of it, it loses its value. Now, the same is true with time.

Maybe that helps explain the generation gap. Young people feel that they have plenty of time, therefore time loses its value, & they aren’t too concerned about wasting or squandering it.

On the other hand, as we get up in years a bit, we begin to realize that our time is becoming rare & therefore more valuable.

So those of us over 60 tend to look at those under 20 & say, "Don’t squander time, because it’s valuable." They reply, "No, it’s not. We have lots of time. So we can waste it any way we want."

And the wider the age gap, the wider the generation gap because of the different values that we place on time.

The Bible often speaks of the brevity of life. It compares life to the weaver’s shuttle rapidly going back & forth to the shadows of summer that quickly disappear to grass which grows up, dies, & then is burned.

No wonder the Psalmist asks God, "What is man that you are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4)

Statisticians tell us that the average life span is now around 76 years. If you’re under 30 then you think that is a long time. But if you’re nearing that age, you’re beginning to realize that’s not really very long at all.

I ran across some interesting statistics a few years ago. Someone went to the trouble to research what people do with their time, & came up with these results:

If we live to be 75, most of us will have spent 3 solid years, 24 hours a day, acquiring an education grade school, high school & college.

We’ll have spent 7 years eating, 24 hours a day, some less, & some more, obviously. We’ll have spent 14 years, day & night, working. We’ll have spent 5 years riding in automobiles or airplanes.

We’ll have spent 5 years talking with each other again some more & some less. We’ll have spent 1 year sick or recovering from sickness. And get this, we’ll have spent 24 years of our life sleeping!

We’ll have spent 3 years reading books, magazines & newspapers. And 12 years amusing ourselves watching TV, going to the movies, fishing, etc.

That totals up to 75 years & that is what the researchers say, on the average, most of us will have done with our lives.

As I looked at these statistics I began thinking. Let’s suppose that you spent every Sunday of your life, for 75 years through infancy, childhood, adulthood, old age in God’s house worshiping during the Church Service.

Now if you did that, how much time would you have spent worshiping God? Figure it out the answer is less than 5 1/2 months.

But let’s double that, because you’ve always attended Bible Study. You’ve never missed Bible Study in all your life. That makes it 11 months.

Think about those 5 years in an automobile & just 11 months in Church & Bible Study! Twelve years amusing ourselves in front of a TV, & just 11 months in Church & Bible Study And that is just if you always attended Bible Study & Church, & never missed!

That tells us a little bit about the brevity of time, & it also tells us something about our priorities in life.

The Bible also teaches us that life is uncertain. Time is like a valuable commodity in a very precious & delicate vessel. It might break at any moment & we might lose it all. So we have this moment. We don’t know anything about the future, but we have this moment & that is all that we really have.

Because of the uncertainty of life, the Bible says, "Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Hebrews 3:15 says, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." Because life is uncertain, we must take advantage of the time that we have.

Secondly, don’t be in bondage to the past.

We are special beings in that God has given us the ability to remember. Your memory may be your friend or your enemy. When you remember, hopefully you’ll remember some very pleasant things about this past year, but chances are that you’ll also remember some negative things.

In fact, sometimes we dwell upon the negative & begin to feel sorry for ourselves. Maybe this past year was a time of transition in your life the kids grew up & married & left home & you’re now trying to deal with the empty nest syndrome.

Maybe your job came to an end & you’re having a tough time making ends meet. Maybe a loved one died & you’re trying to deal with the lingering grief & loneliness you feel.

Maybe it was a time when sin got a real hold in your life, & you now feel the burden & guilt of that sin.

You see, those things can cripple us & hold us in bondage to the past. That is why Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind..." Paul had a lot to forget. Paul had a very shaky past.

He persecuted the church. He used his authority to kill Christians. By his own admission he said, "I am the chief of sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

He could have walked around all his life with this tremendous burden of guilt crippling him & he would never have become the great apostle we know & love today.

But Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind..." In other words, "God, I commit it to you. I seek your forgiveness for all the sins of the past, & I look forward to what lies ahead. And right now I’m going to live today the best I can."

I believe that is good advice for us as well.

Finally, I think that we need to establish a priority in our lives.

Paul says it this way, "This one thing I do." Now Paul obviously did more than one thing. He made tents. He preached sermons & established churches. He healed the sick. He wrote books. He did a lot of different things.

But he said, "The top priority in my life is to ‘press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ “

A while back an expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students.

After speaking to them for a while, he said, “Okay, it’s time for a quiz.” He set a one-gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks & carefully placed them, one at a time, inside the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top & no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

“Really?” he said. Then he reached under the table & pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel into the jar & shook it, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

Then he smiled & asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them said.

“Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table & brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in & it filled all the spaces between the rocks & the gravel.

Once more he asked, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water & began to pour in the water until the jar was filled to the brim.

Then he looked back at the class & asked, “What is the point of this illustra-tion?” One eager beaver raised his hand & said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit something more into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the big rocks of your life? - They should include these: Each day drawing nearer to God, spending time with Him in prayer, & seeking His guidance for your life through reading His Word. Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all.

It was Jesus who said, "Seek first His kingdom & His righteousness, & all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

We’ve just gone through another Christmas season in which the world was reminded again that "God so loved the world that He gave His one & only Son." In His love, God offered us the most wonderful gift that we could ever receive.

An old beggar woman ran out of money. She couldn’t pay her rent. She couldn’t pay any of her bills. The landlord had threatened to throw her out if she didn’t soon pay her rent.

She had only a candle to keep her warm, & on Christmas Day she warmed her hands over the candle. There was a knocking at her door & she was afraid to answer for fear that it was the landlord coming to kick her out.

She blew out her candle & sat quietly in the dark & waited for the intruder to leave. Two weeks later she found out that the knocking on her door was the knock of a friend who had come to bring her enough money to pay her rent & pay her debts.

I wonder how many have from time to time heard the gentle knock of the Savior who wants so much to come in & free them from the burdens of their sin? But they have ignored His knocking.

This morning God’s invitation is offered to any & all who would accept Him and be baptized for the remission of their sins. He came as a baby in the manger. But He also came as the Redeemer, & this morning He patiently waits for you. Whatever your need may be; whether to be baptized or to ask for the prayers of the congregation, will you come as we stand & as we sing?

Sermon Contributor: Melvin Newland

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App