Archive for October, 2014

The Ten Commandments

October 30, 2014

The Ten Commandments were given to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai.  To this day they provide, not just a code of conduct for a religious group, but a foundation for ethical behavior that has stood for thousands of years.  Today, however, it is being removed not just from our public buildings but from many of our lives.  Today I hope to reinforce the foundation of our code of conduct, The Ten Commandments.

I.  Our Relationship to God:  Deuteronomy 5:6-15

‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

‘You shall have no other gods before Me.

‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

11 ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

12 ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

The first commandment seems simple enough.  Today, at least in western culture, the God of Abraham is clearly the primary deity that is addressed.  There is more to it however.  Is God our top priority, or is He merely a part of our lives, and a small part at that?  God is meant to be the most important part of our lives.  If anything else is more important to us, then we have set that thing up as a god in our lives.

God is not something of this world.  There can be no image of God because God is a Spirit, not a thing.  Making an image of God would change our idea of the nature of God.  God is eternal.  Material things all have a beginning.  God is an eternal Spirit, not some material, created thing.

Profanity used to be reserved for men in certain trades.  Today profanity is used by men, women and children in all walks of life.  The name of Jesus Christ is used as an exclamation of anger, not just as an expression of praise.  People curse all sorts of things using the name of God.  Even the common expression of surprise or dismay may be represented by the acronym OMG!  Clearly our society has not taken the third commandment very seriously.

We can add a second dimension to this commandment today.  As Christians we have taken upon ourselves the name of Christ.  Are we making a mockery of that holy name by our unholy lives?

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.  We are so busy today.  Many have discarded the practice of a day of rest.  It was meant to be a blessing to us, not a burden, and yet many have rejected that gift.  Our lives are diminished by not observing a day devoted to rest and worship.

II.  Our Relationship to Parents:  Deuteronomy 5:16

 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Our attitude towards authority begins at home.  If we learn to respect and obey our parents it will impact the rest of our lives.  We will respect and obey our teachers.  We will respect and obey our employers.  We will respect and obey the legal authorities.  We will respect and obey God.   We first learn at home that obeying the rules brings reward, being disobedient results in punishment.  That is a lesson that is good all life long.

Parents take care of their children when they are young.  When the parents become old, the children take care of them.  The church and the government only have to help those who do not have family.  This was a basic rule of society for generations.

III.  Our Relationship Towards Others:  Deuteronomy 5:17-21

 ‘You shall not murder.

18 ‘You shall not commit adultery.

19 ‘You shall not steal.

20 ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

21 ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’

Our society has distorted the sixth commandment.  They seem to think that to murder and to kill are synonymous.  Killing a human being in self defense, or combat, or executing a criminal are not covered by this commandment.  Of course, Jesus expanded this commandment and told us that we were not to hate our neighbor.  We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Sexual sin is rampant in our society.  God created us as sexual beings, but the only appropriate place for sex is within the bonds of marriage.  The only form of biblical marriage is a man and a woman.

Do not steal is not supposed to cover only things over a certain value.  Taking small items that do not belong to us is still stealing.  Taking things from work is stealing.  Even cheating on our tax returns is stealing.  Not fulfilling a contract is stealing.  Not giving an honest days work for an honest days pay is stealing.

Do not lie.  I once told my class at the college that I do not lie and they laughed at me.  They assumed that statement itself was a lie.  Lying has become a rampant disease in our society to the point that you really don’t know who you can trust to speak the truth.  That is a sad commentary on the state of our country.  How much better would our world be if we could trust people to simply speak the truth?

Do not be jealous of your neighbor, or envious of the things that they have in their life.  Learn to be happy with what you have in your own life.  Covetousness makes us believe that we need some thing to be happy.  All we truly  need to be happy is to be in a right relationship with God.

Deuteronomy 5:29

Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

These are the sermon notes from 10/19/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any  money from them.

 

God is Enough

October 23, 2014

There are times in life when the attractions of the world shine brightly, tempting us to turn our backs on our service to God and follow after our own desires.

I.  Look, Remember and Do:  Numbers 15:39-40

 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, 40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.

The tassel was on their prayer shawl and included a blue thread that was to serve as a reminder to them that they were the people of God.  Gentile Christians do not use a prayer shawl, but it would be good for us to adopt something that would serve as a reminder to us of the presence of God in our lives.  Crosses that we wear, pictures that we display, music that we play, can all remind us of our relationship to God and His love for us.

We should not simply follow our own hearts.  Our hearts are inclined towards wickedness and cannot be trusted to lead us correctly.  God has given us His Word.  The Bible is what we should use to guide us in our actions.

We are to remember that we are called to be the people of God.  We are to do what God has commanded in His Word.  We are to be holy, even as God is holy.  We recognize that we cannot be perfect, but we do not use that as an excuse to remain in our sin, but rather we are thankful for the forgiveness offered to us in Christ and the help given to us by the Holy Spirit.  We fall short, but God is enough for us.  Our salvation is not in our own strength, but rather in the strength of what God has done for us.

II.  I Am Your Portion:  Numbers 18:20

Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.

I recognize that this promise was given to Aaron, but Christians are told that, they too, are “a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9)  We are able to have a very special relationship with God.  If there are times in our lives when we feel that we are being short-changed in the area of material blessings, we should simply spend more time in the presence of God.  He is our portion.  God is enough.

III.  Continue in the Faith:  Acts 14:21-22

And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

We should encourage one another to continue in the faith.  We are not meant to be alone, but we are called to be a part of a community of faith.  We can encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to continue in our service to God.  We will experience many trials and tribulations, but through them all, God is enough for us.

These are the sermon notes from 10/12/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Tithing

October 13, 2014

Occasionally I speak with people who are having financial problems.  I ask them two questions at the beginning.  Do you tithe?  Do you have a budget?  If the answer to either of those questions is no, then I know where to start.

A tithe is one tenth.  So tithing is giving 10% of your income to your local church.  Some people think that tithing is a part of the Mosaic law, and no longer applicable to Christian practice.

I disagree.

I.  Before the Law

Genesis 14:18-20

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

Abraham , who was earlier called Abram, gave a tithe to Melchizedek.  This is the first place in scripture where it is recorded that a servant of God gave a tithe to a religious leader.  Abraham lived 500 years before the law was given.  Tithing predates the Law.

Genesis 28:20-22

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Jacob, who later became known as Israel, also declared his intention to practice tithing.  It was his response of gratitude for the provision of the Lord.  He had left home with the clothes on his back and the staff in his hand.  God provided for him throughout his time away and he returned home twenty years later, a wealthy man.

II.  The Law

Leviticus 27:30-33

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’”

Israel was primarily an agricultural society and so the tithe was described in terms of seed, fruit and flocks.  The principle of giving a tenth of our income is easily enough applied to a cash society.

III.  The Prophets

Malachi 3:8-11

“Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

In these verses are a warning and a promise.  The warning is to those who do not tithe.  They are under a curse.  This curse may be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways, but the most common is continuing financial hardship.  Giving a tithe expresses obedience and trust.  Not giving a tithe expresses disobedience and distrust.

The promise is two-fold.  God will bless the person who faithfully tithes.  This blessing will also be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways.  The second promise is that the devourer will be rebuked.  Now, what exactly “the devourer” is, is not known for sure, but clearly it is bad.  When we give God the tithe, God blesses the remainder so that 90% will go further than 100%.   I personally have tithed since I was first introduced to the practice at age 16 and God has always taken good care of my family and I.  We have never been wealthy, but our needs, and many of our wants have been met throughout the years.

III.  Jesus

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Here Jesus is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting justice, mercy and faith, which are more important than tithing.  Still, he says that tithing should be done.

IV.  The Epistles

I Corinthians 9:4-14

 Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Paul supported himself by working as a tent-maker.  Today many ministers support their families by working a secular job.  That is not the way that it is meant to be.  Ministers should be able to devote themselves full-time to the work of the ministry.  They can only do that if they are supported by the giving of the people they serve.

The principle of tithing predates the law, is established by the law, is confirmed by Jesus, and it’s purpose clarified by Paul.  These verses that I have shared are a representation of the scriptures about giving and I believe that they are adequate to support the continued practice of tithing.

These are the notes from a teaching given to the youth group 10/12/14.

Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

That Your Joy May Be Full

October 9, 2014

Most of us do not want to be miserable, except maybe those few people who seem to enjoy being miserable!  Most of us would rather experience joy in our lives.  If we are walking with God, our joy may be full.

I.  Love:  John 15:9-12

 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

God loves us.  To abide in His love, we should be aware of His love.  His love never changes.  His love never fades.  When we are feeling down, we should meditate on His love for us.

To abide is His love, we should keep His commandments.  This does not mean that He stops loving us if we don’t, it means that we will not have the sense of His love because we are doing what grieves Him.

To abide in His love, we should love one another.  When we offer unconditional love to those around us, we are imitating God, who loves us unconditionally.

If we abide in His love, our joy will be full.

II.  Ask:  John 16:22-24

Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In this context, Jesus has just been talking about his coming death and resurrection.  They will sorrow at His death, but will rejoice in His resurrection.

As Christians we can ask God for whatever we desire.  We can ask in faith, believing that He is able to deliver.  We need to remember that, even as a loving father sometimes tells his children no, even so, God sometimes tells us no.

I John 5:14-15

 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

James 4:3

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

We can ask God for anything, knowing that He hears us, He loves us, and He is able to give us those things that are according to His will.

We can ask, and our joy will be full.

III.  Sanctify:  John 17:13-17

But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

We are set apart to be the people of God.  This is a good thing.  God has given us His Word, the Bible, and we should follow it.  The Word of God is truth and if we follow the Word of God our joy will be full.

In this world we will still have tests and trials, but our joy is not based in the things of this world.

These are the sermon notes from 9/28/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.