The law knows nothing about “approval”. The law is to be obeyed.
- There are some laws which apply only to the people who accept them.
There are some laws that vary depending upon locale.
- When you are thinking about the law of God, you can only take it. If you break it, ultimately it will break you.
There are some laws that change with the passing of time.
- Whatever may be true of the laws and customs of communities, states and nations, the law of the Lord does not vary with locality.
- The laws of God have been the same in every age.
- There is a criticism leveled at the Gospel – even in a nominally Christian land.
- There is a social isolation which Christians sometimes suffer.
- Sometimes a believer suffers in their career because they identify with the Christian faith.
- Sometimes Christians are actually made a butt of jokes because they have chosen to be a disciple of Jesus.
- Don’t increase this criticism needlessly.
- Don’t cultivate peculiarity.
- Don’t be overcritical.
- Never sever fellowship with other people if you can avoid it.
- What happens if they still exclude us “from the camp” and treat us almost as if we’re exiles? What then?
- Say to yourself, “This is not my disgrace. It is His! And rejoice that you are allowed to bear a bit of His shame!
The men and women with whom Jesus came into contact fall into three classes:
- Those who say, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad.”
Those who say, “He is a good man.”
- Only bitter hatred could have brought them to that.
- Who was it that first claimed that Jesus was sinless and called Him the Son of God?
- The disciples! These were the men who, with amazing agreement, declared Jesus to be the sinless One.
- To any reasonable mind this makes the charge of His enemies totally false!
Those who say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
- If we agree that Jesus was good, and if we also agree that a good person always has a keen sense of guilt because of their sin, aren’t we forced to believe He was something more than a good man?
- How can we be sure that He was all that the disciples claimed He was?
- He accepted worship.
- He forgave sins.
- His personal claims.
- He has won devoted followers.
- He has won devoted followers from all the races of humankind.
- Every man or woman who really meets Jesus feels the affect and challenge of His life.
Deep in the human heart there is a homing instinct, which we often ignore and might even deny, but if we turned our attention to it we might realize that heaven is our real home.
- There is something in us which earth can never satisfy.
There is a nostalgia (homesickness) in us for heaven.
- Physical Health & Fitness
Nostalgia = “nostos” = “return home”
“algos” = “pain”
- God has put in the heart of every one of us a longing for Himself.
- Here on earth we visit; there in heaven we belong. We will work with enthusiasm and skill and thoroughness in all that concerns the work of God’s will on this earth, and our work will stand out because, by faith, we have the perfect always in view.
Are we guilty of sin in holy things?
- What about our repentance?
What about our worship?
- Sometimes our repentance is not real repentance at all; it is only remorse and fear. Sometimes we are sad and even in tears, not because we have done wrong, but because we have been found out or may yet be found out.
What about our prayers?
- We come to worship sometimes and find our minds distracted by the interests and cares of the world, not the great solemn cares which demand to be brought into the presence of God.
What about our service?
- Our prayers are sometimes careless, inadequate and very often selfish.
What about our giving?
- Isn’t it shameful that our service is at times unworthy and that we aren’t always eager, happy, and aware of the privilege of being allowed to do it?
- Isn’t it amazing that some are miserable in their giving to God and bring, like the Hebrews whom Malachi condemned, a blemished sacrifice to the altar – less than they should and resentful at that?
Commitment – We cry, “Save us from our sin in the ‘holy things’!”
- Who was the real Simon Peter?
Who is the real you?
- Was Simon as his friends saw him?
- Was Simon like he saw himself?
- We see the faults plainly in others but not plainly in ourselves.
- Who was the Simon Peter Christ saw?
- Jesus saw Simon as he was, the real man then existing, and the Simon Peter He could make.
- Is it the person your friends see?
- Is it the person you see yourself?
- I doubt whether anybody really knows themselves until they see themselves in the white light of God.
- Who is the real you?
- It is an act of faith, but I believe that the real you and me is the self which Christ could make.
- If we could only see ourselves as Christ sees us! If we could stand at His elbow and get that double vision; the men and women we are; the men and women we might be!
Could’st thou in vision see
Thyself the man God meant,
Thou never more could’st be
The man that art content.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- The importance of….
Things I want you to forget.
- Forgetting as a natural consequence of the passage of time and not the outcome of conscious effort.
- The art of forgetting.
- Lesson: In most of the experiences of our past there is something to remember and something to forget.
How can you forget?
- Forget the tactless, awkward, silly things you’ve done.
- Forget your sins.
- Forget the hurtful things that have been done against you.
- One cannot forget the fact. So I advise: Remember to forget!
The most daring thing the devout Christian ever says about his or her faith is “I know”. Not “I think”, “I hope”, “I trust”, “I venture”, or “I believe”, but “I know”.
How can you test at any time the reality of an experience?
- Ask whether the testimony of one sense is confirmed by the others.
- Inquire how many people had the experience and how dependable they are as reporters.
- Inquire whether this experience fits into our knowledge of the world as a whole and whether it is confirmed by other sources of knowledge.
- The reporters must be sufficiently numerous.
- The reporters must be dependable witnesses.
- The reporters are consistent with one another.
Objections (And Our Answer):
- If God were there, He would be more obvious. Everybody would be aware of Him.
All this talk of religious experience and Christian faith is just “wishful thinking”. People of faith have invented a fiction-God who will always play the game our way.
- Different aspects of reality can only be known in their own way: physical things by sense perception, values – and God – by spiritual seeking.
- That isn’t our God! God’s demands are often completely different than our wishes. He says to some of our desires – “You shall not”. He demands sacrifice from us.
- We know about expediency. Like Pilate, we too, have learned to do what it takes to get where we are.
- We also know about competing ideologies. The dominant ideology of our day that can trump all others is the fulfillment of the individual.
- The church believes that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. This isn’t truth in the form of religious laws and moralisms, which quickly digress into more ideology. Rather, it is truth as a person.
- Jesus claimed that this truth has little to do with expediency for saving yourself or with ideological commitments that only divide us. But the truth has everything to do with the witness you make about your neighbor. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
- The neighborhood of God is never established by similarity. It is only established when mercy is offered.
- To avoid being merciful just because it isn’t expedient, or convenient, or because the person in need offends our ideology or morality, is to divide the neighborhood of God. It is to say he or she doesn’t belong. And that is to bear false witness against your neighbor.
- When we say that God gives us grace, we aren’t saying God gives us what we want. Grace means that God gives us what we need. Sometimes what we need is freedom from the things we want. And that leads us to the last commandment: “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s.”
- There is no better way to lose your life than to keep measuring it by the standards of the neighbor.
- The real problem with coveting is that it reduces those you envy to their possessions. But the person you envy is a living soul who needs mercy as much as you. And that person belongs to you, as a neighbor, by this common need.