Posts Tagged ‘evil’

Directions for the Journey

November 7, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 11/3/13.

I.    I Thessalonians 5:14

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

A.  Warn!  We are told to warn those who are unruly.  There are Christians who do not take the call to pursue holiness seriously.  We should warn believers that ignoring the commandments of God has serious consequences.  This should be done in an attitude of love, not judgement, recognizing that we all have our faults.

B.  Comfort!  The Christian walk can be very difficult at times.  We should speak words of comfort and encouragement to those who are enduring the various tests and trials of this life.

C.  Uphold!  Those who are struggling need our encouragement, not our condemnation.  We are not meant to live for Christ in isolation, but as a part of the family of God.  We should look out for, help, and encourage one another as much as possible.

II.  I Thessalonians 5:15

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

A.  Do not render evil for evil!  The world tells us that it is important to ‘pay back’ those who have wronged us.  With interest!  As Christians we are called to a different path.  We are not to seek our own revenge, but to leave people in the hands of God.  This is good both for us, and for them.  We should let go of anger and bitterness, forgiving those who have wronged us.

B.  Pursue Good!  We have limited resources.  We should put our efforts into doing what is good.  That is a much better use of our time and energy.

III.  I Thessalonians 5:16

Rejoice always,

We are called to a life that is marked by an attitude of joy.  We can celebrate the good things that God has blessed us with here in this life, but even more, we can rejoice in the love of God.  Sometimes the circumstances of this life can be difficult, but the love that God has for us is an ever-present source of joy for those who turn their attention to that reality.

IV.  I Thessalonians 5:17

pray without ceasing,

A.  Don’t give up!  We can continue to pray about the concerns that are present in our lives.  Some say that if we have prayed about something once, to pray more is a lack of faith.  I would suggest that praying each day about the concerns that are present in our life is perfectly appropriate.  Sometimes the answer to our prayers is delayed for quite a while.  Keep praying.

B.  A second way that this verse can be interpreted is to cultivate an attitude of prayer.  Prayer is communion with God.  We should seek to constantly be aware of His presence.  We recognize that God is present everywhere, always, but how often are we aware of His presence?  How much of our lives can be spent with our spiritual eyes open?  I suspect that many of us could grow in this area.

V.  I Thessalonians 5: 18

in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Give Thanks!  We do not have to accept that the terrible things that happen in this life are necessarily what God wanted for us.  The free will of humans and demons is responsible for evil.  That evil is not God’s will, or desire, for us.  God allows it, but that is not the same as God wills it.  God is however, able to use all things ultimately for good for the believer.  ( Romans 8:28)  We can thank God that He is in control, and looking out for us.  We must remember to keep the right perspective.  Things may be bad things at times in this life, but for the believer, it all ends well.

VI.  I Thessalonians 5: 19

Do not quench the Spirit.

We should be sensitive to the work of the Spirit in our lives.  Far too often people are not willing to listen to the direction that the Holy Spirit is speaking to them in their hearts.  The Holy Spirit will work in all sorts of ways in our churches and in our personal lives if we will be willing to listen and to act.  May God help us to develop a sensitivity to the Spirit’s voice.  May God grant us the courage to act in obedience to that voice.

VII.  I Thessalonians 5: 20

Do not despise prophecies.

God speaks to us in a variety of ways.  We should be willing to listen for His voice.  Sometimes God will speak correction into our lives through means that are surprising.  We should look for the truth that is present in our lives.

VIII.  I Thessalonians 5:21

Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Not everything is good.  Not every teaching is correct.  We are to pray, search the scriptures, discard the bad, and hold onto the good.  Gaining knowledge and truth is a process.  We should pray that God will continue to guide us into all truth.

IX.  I Thessalonians 5:22

Abstain from every form of evil.

As we grow in our knowledge of the truth, we will be more able to recognize evil.  As we recognize evil, we should purge it from our lives.  That is a part of the path of growing in godliness.  It is important for us to recognize that this is a journey in which God leads each individual believer.  Our journey may not look just like our neighbors journey.  Ultimately we must answer to God, not to each other.  We should be careful not to judge our neighbor, but to encourage them in their journey of faith.

Conclusion:  Our walk with God is both personal, and in community with others.  We should seek to be all that God has called, and enabled us to be in Christ.  We should also seek to encourage and help one another in the journey of faith.

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Looking for the Silver Lining

August 13, 2009

As a child when I was feeling disappointed I would be told “Every cloud has a silver lining.”  As a Christian adult I hold onto Romans 8:28 “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.” (NKJ)

Sometimes we are able to see how things work together, and other times that “silver lining” is pretty ellusive. 

I like to be able to understand, to be able to connect the dots and see the picture of what is going on, but when I cannot see, I can still believe.

God loves me. 

I love God.

God is good.

All things work together for good. 

I do not have to understand.  I only have to believe, to have faith in God.

In faith, we can find peace, a peace that passes understanding; a peace that is not of this world, and that this world cannot take away.

California Tragedy

December 9, 2008

Yesterday a military jet crashed in California.  It destroyed a couple of houses.   More importantly, one child, and the child’s mother and grandmother are dead.  There is another young child still missing.  It is a terrible tragedy and my heart goes out to the surviving family and friends, and also to the pilot, who survived, but will have to live with his part in the day’s terrible events.

Why did God allow this to happen?  I am not able to answer that question.  I will say that there are at least three causes of tragic events. 

First, there is the realm of natural law.  In the material world, there is an ongoing chain of cause and effect.  I have no idea what caused the crash, but there is most likely a natural explanation.

Secondly, bad things happen because people have the freedom to act in ways that will cause things that we perceive as evil.  For example, a murder is committed when a person takes a gun and shoots another person.  The gun is not to blame, it is the person who does the shooting who is at fault.

Third, there is a spiritual battle that occasionally spills over into the material realm.  God and angels versus Satan and demons.  Although they are spiritual beings, they are able to have an impact on the events on earth, for good or for evil.

What caused the crash?  I don’t know.  Why did it happen?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that God is able to bring comfort, peace and healing to those involved.  I know that God loves all people and that his grace is sufficient for every need. 

My prayers are with all those involved in this tragedy.