And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ten Commands of our love Relationship with God

Below you will find the rough draft notes for the sermon on Sunday October 6th, 2013. It is always my hope that these notes will help you in you study throughout the week.

Ten Commands of our love Relationship with God

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mar 12:28-31)

Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before Me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. "You shall not murder. "You shall not commit adultery. "You shall not steal. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin."
(Exo 20:1-20)

The Ten Commandments are a form of protection for the people of God.  They are much like a fence, not to keep you out, but to keep you in.  Within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments you find protection and freedom. Outside, there is a stepping out of the bounds of Gods grace.  When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they placed themselves within an experience that would forever affect everyone.

We began with the two greatest commands, of which the other ten all are understood. 
·         Love God
·         Love others
In these two are the whole law. 
God is directing us to emulate Him.
·         Christians/disciples/saints love God above all else, thus they value what He values and live from the heart for such truth.
·         Christians/disciples/saints also love others, even enemy sinners as God has also loved such people; and He loves them sacrificially.
These are matters of the heart, not simply behaviors.

The ten commandments teach us about God and our relationship to Him

1. No other God’s before Me  (God is God and nothing else can compare)
            God will not share His glory with another.  When He is #1 it protects us from being double minded.  Thus, justice, truth, and holiness, values of God, are imparted to us.

2. No carved images  (God is beyond our imagination)
            We need to subject ourselves to God and not to the exercise of false imaginations.  The use of images in such worship restricts a persons understanding, it limits who God is in theology.  We should never settle for our own understanding of God, but pursue an ongoing relationship with Him.
            It says God is jealous God, because He is ultimate, He wants the justice of His love to be poured out upon those who believe.

3.  Not take His name in Vain. (God is where our hope lies)
            This has more to do with understanding who He is rather than colorful language.  It is a love for His name, His reputation and the person of God.  God is not to be taken in a trite manner, or as a common buddy.  He is serious, and in Him there is no vain effort.

Notice the first three commands direct us to God.  Without these we flounder in our basis for understanding love, law, or life.

4.  Remember the Sabbath day. (God is to be worshipped, we express our love)
            Guard your mind, body, and spirit to focus on God.  Taking a day off from laboring and striving is a means of exercising faith in His sovereignty and provision.
            It is a day to spend time with God.  It is a giving thanks for all He has done.

5.  Honor your father and mother. (Families are for our good, even those that are not our own)
            Relationships matter.  The honoring of parents has a cultural effect on what a people believe about life.  It teaches that euthanizing people is wrong, that abortion is murder, and that in the winter years when a person is unable to care for themselves, it is a tribute to God in justice to love and care for those who have served us.  It says life is precious.
            Honoring parents is the basis for following leaders.  We read through scripture how we are to honor even those whom we do not agree with as leaders that God appoints.  It reveals that ultimately, our hope is in God and not our officials.

6. You shall not murder  (The work of redemption is at the heart of God, it has keep us from wrath)
            This is not talking about war or judicial prudence.  It is all about being a self-appointed authority and acting our a violent disregard for God and justice.
            Even anger against another in guilty enough for the fires of Hell.  God says to love our enemies, pray for them, and do goo to them.

7. You shall not commit adultery.  (God’s love is sacred)
            As murder is not love, neither is lust.  You cannot have adultery without lust.  Lust is the striving to be god over some person, thing, or situation wherein they serve you by worshipping you.  Adultery says” I want, I deserve, I know better than God.
            God says, one man with one woman, and cleave together through all pains to get a glimpse of hoe God has loved you.  Marriage is for one another to find a suitable earthly helper that opens their eyes to a need of a helper from Heaven.  It shows what the love of God is like.
            Sacredness is always an issue with God.

8.  You Shall Not Steal (God is our provider and we must learn to trust Him)
Adultery is stealing a person.  Stealing is perverting justice by appropriating stuff, which is playing god over situations.
It is cheating.
It is manipulations.
It is a lack of faith that God will provide.
It is the worship of an idol to serve the self.
Stealing says “God isn’t enough.”
It is the compromising of all that is good for a moment of self-indulgence.

9.  You shall not lie (God is truth and those that love God love truth)
            For all that stealing is, lying is theft by tongue. It is destroying or perverting truth.  Thus, it is swaying justice.
            Remember, Satan is the father of lies.

10.  You shall not covet (God is our all in all, we place our hope in Him)
            To covet is to be unthankful. 
It is to crave…
More stuff
More power
More convenience
Those who covet do so by imagination of the fantasy of self-empowerment that comes from life playing out their way.  It puts them in the role-play of being a god.
Even Christians who do this say by the action taken, Jesus and ________________ will make me happy.  For them, Jesus is not enough

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why Join a Church

We live in a world where many will call Sunday the fun day, a day of doing what thou wilt. It is for relaxing, fishing, and sleeping in.  However, in many parts of the world, people will literally risk their lives to assemble with other believers to worship God.

Where the subject of church membership ought to be a series covering its history, polity, unity, and worship, today we look to overview and answer the basic question, “Why should I join a church?”

The book of Acts gives us the history of the church.  The letters and gospels were written for the church to make disciples.  Thus no one scripture holds the key for the church, for all of scripture is relevant.  One scripture however has much for us to grasp, Ephesians 5:22-32

Much of joining church has to do with covenant and commitment unto God. (Often it is harder to join a country club, and groups such a the rotary club have strict rules of participation that are not forsaken)

            I do say commitment. Often in our individualistic society, commitments are made as they relate to the self.  Many things a person chooses to do are noble, but outside of Christ, they ultimately show a commitment to self-interests, even family. Church membership is a commitment to Christ, and thus His work through the church.

Let me sidestep for a moment: to not be a member puts you into two categories that I find in the New Testament, either unregenerate, that is unsaved, or in the category of being a believer under church discipline.  Neither position is exhibiting the proper relationship with God that Christ died on the cross to provide.

Thus, to be a Christian, I believe, is a positive step in a devoted commitment to God and the work that He does through His church.  This person values the cross, and thus makes a commitment….

To the faith- (A mental commitment)
·         That you see a value in the scriptural references of the existent church that you not forsake the assembling of the believers; loving the body.
·         Being part of a church is a public demonstration of your priorities in a culture of many gods.  You choose to be separate from the world and to congregate amongst believers.  You publically demonstrate that there is a positive value to church membership, that has an overarching benefit over and above all other opportunities.
Here we have the acquiescence of faith, which you agree with the scriptures.

But there is more to it As a warning, remember, church membership is more than mental agreement, for even the demons believe and they shudder. (James 2:19)

To commitment, yes, commitment to commitment, you subject yourself to accountability and responsibility. (A commitment of action)

Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes,
“Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.”

There strength in unity and loyalty.  If you want to know the power of God, who works through His people, a commitment to the church is a positive step.  Such a step addresses…..

·         Moraly- that you do want a brother’s keeper and elders to help guard you from sin. You choose to live by certain God honoring standards.
·         Service- that the local church is a mission team cooperating together for the greater good.  You participate knowing that two are stronger than one.
·         Financially- that the tithe is part of your worship through carrying on the ministry of the church.  Locally, nationally, globally.  Widow’s mite is an example of commitment.

The commitment to commitment is that practical application take place through your life.  In these ways, the scriptures are more than a mental ascent; they are an action that follows belief.

But there is more to it As a warning, lest we stop her, Mt 7 tells us of those who served and yet in the last day heard “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  You see, Christians have a love component to their commitment also.

Ultimately you join a church as a response to God, for what He has done in your life
To God- you obey by loving the brethren.  (Here is heart commitment)  You obey God by being a disciple that is studying to show thyself approved, and worshipping with others who greet in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Here is the motivation of the believer, we may believe, we may act, but true believers are those who are motivated by a love fore God, and for the brethren.  This love comes together in a demonstration of belief, through action, by a motivation of worship.

Those who have been forgiven much love much, (Luke 7)

Question:  Can you be a believer and not go to church? Yes but such a life will bear little fruit,  Fruit bearing believers strive for the sanctification process and love the unity of the saints.

Church membership is a commitment of responsibility that “draws a line of separation” from being just like the world as opposed to being a follower of Christ.

Two images of our commitment are Baptism and the Lord’s supper.  Both of these show a uniting with God and fellow believers.

For further reflection and thought: