Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Sermonette

June 28, 2015
The Christian's Cleansing
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
This familiar promise is often quoted as a sort of pat formula for dealing with sin in a believer’s life. Simply identify and acknowledge the sin, and all is forgiven.
This is gloriously true, so far as it goes, but the last part of the verse is also vitally important. The Lord wants His people to be cleansed from all unrighteousness. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, . . . the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
In these and other verses, the verb translated “cleanse” is the Greekkatharizo, from which we get such English words as “cathartic.” It is a strong word, sometimes translated as “purify” and even “purge.” The sin not only is to be confessed, it must be purged!
The Lord Jesus Christ “by himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3), so that God can be perfectly “faithful and just to forgive us our sins” on the basis of His cleansing blood and sanctifying Word. But this is far more than an academic formula, for this cleansing, purifying, and purging must become a real experience in one’s life, and the Lord will do whatever is necessary to make it so. He “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify [same word as ‘cleanse’] unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).
We must learn to “walk in the light” and to be “zealous of good works,” as He “purgeth us from all unrighteousness” when we “confess our sins.” It is necessary that we be constrained to become more “like him,” for “when he shall appear, . . . we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Thus, His forgiveness of our sins is inevitably accompanied by a purging of our lives. HMM


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day Sunday Sermonette

June 21, 2015
Sin and the Christian God
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
A Christian has no desire for his past life of sin. As we see in our text, we should “flee these things” and “lay hold on eternal life,” putting off whatever is old and instead putting on what is new. The second verse of our study hymn “Higher Ground” expresses this as well.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

One of the most precious promises of Christianity can be found in 2 Corinthians 5:17, where we see that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We are told that we can put our old habits of sin behind us and live a new life in victory over sin and death. No longer can sin reign over us—we can live in victory. Even doubts and fears can be dismissed from our presence. Our God has promised throughout His Scriptures: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).
There is no need to be anywhere else. My prayer and my aim is to walk where He leads and be where He wants me to be. Only while there can we be assured of higher ground with Him. JDM


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Sermonette

June 14, 2015
No Stealing
“Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)
The word translated “steal” is the Hebrew ganab and is restricted to acts done secretly. It figuratively describes wind sweeping something away unexpectedly (Job 21:18; 27:20) and illustrates the thief-like movements of military deserters (2 Samuel 19:4). It would fit the term “burglary.”
Burglary was punishable on a graded scale. A 200-percent penalty was levied if the property was returned unharmed (Exodus 22:4, 7, 9), a 400 or 500-percent penalty if the property was damaged or destroyed (Exodus 22:1), and a 700-percent penalty if the property stolen was food (Proverbs 6:30-31). Personal indenture was enforced if the thief could not pay the monetary levy (Exodus 22:3).
The command extends to our care of the property of others. Loss due to negligence is considered stealing (Exodus 22:7, 10-13). This would also apply to unfair business practices that defraud either customers or employees (Leviticus 19:35-36).
In our personal lives, we are expected to repay our debts (Ezekiel 33:15; 18:7, 12, 16) and pay our taxes (Romans 13:5-8Matthew 22:17-21). Failure to do so makes us a “thief” in God’s eyes.
The Hebrew word qaba, on the other hand, is used to emphasize the violent seizing of property. It would fit the term “robbery.” This is the word used in the question: “Will a man rob God?” (Malachi 3:8). We can infer that disobedience to tithing is a more dangerous infraction of the eighth commandment than mere “burglary.” May God keep us from either violation as we seek to please Him. HMM III


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Sermonette

June 7, 2015
No Other Gods
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)
This first commandment, written by the finger of God Himself on Mount Sinai—twice (Exodus 31:18; 34:1)—contains a very intriguing choice of words.
“Thou shalt have no” is rendered from the Hebrew word lo, which is an emphatic negative: “never,” “neither,” “not,” etc. The word “other” translates the Hebrew word acher, which is derived from another word meaning “behind” or “less.” This word is also translated “following,” “next,” “[an]other,” or “strange”—in the sense of being less than the previous object. Elohim is the Hebrew word for “gods,” the term for “powerful ones.”
The Holy Spirit’s most unusual choice of words is the phrase ‘al paniymat the end of the sentence, translated “before me.” That phrase literally means “against the faces” or in the sense of “on top of.” So, a direct translation of the command would be, “Never place a less powerful being on top of my faces.” It can also be rendered, “Don’t ever let any other god get between your face and my face.”
Moses gave several instructions on how we are to observe the command. We are not to worship (prostrate, bow down to) any other god (Exodus 34:14), or mention (call to memory) the name of other gods (Exodus 23:13), or walk behind other gods (Deuteronomy 6:14). We are not to forget (mislay, be oblivious of) YAHWEH and in so doing serve other gods (Deuteronomy 8:18-19). We must not allow our hearts to be deceived (become broad, liberal, “open”-minded) and worship other gods (Deuteronomy 11:16). And we are not to go aside (turn off, withdraw) from the words of God and by doing so serve other gods (Deuteronomy 28:14).
No wonder our Lord Jesus called this the “first and great commandment” and insisted that we must “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matthew 22:37-38). HMM III