When it comes to the Body of Christ, the church, there is unity. And we are all ONE in Christ Jesus. But when it comes to how the world reacts to the truth about Jesus, there is always division.
Those who know God intimately have come to see that He often allows us to face adversity in order to conform us to the image of Christ. God determined from the beginning that we should be shaped into the image of His Son. Part of this plan involves the painful removal of those things in our lives that don’t reflect this image.
As God conforms us to be like Jesus, He often uses painful experiences to accomplish His plan. So don’t fight against disappointments and disagreements, just let your light shine for Jesus.
Have you ever been to an auction? When the bidding reaches a climax the auctioneer says, “Going … going …. gone!” and he raps his gavel. That item is no longer up for sale. I fear God may be looking at our nation and saying, “Going … going …” and that we are only one word away from losing the blessings of God. The answer for America’s problems isn’t going to come from the White House; it’s got to come from the Church House. But the problem is most American Christians are asleep and unaware of the dangers we face.
Four hundred prophets were saying, “Go to war and you’ll win.” Micaiah had the courage to stand up and speak God’s truth. He had to go against the crowd. He faced peer pressure just as we do today. Peer pressure starts when we are young. We want to “be like” everyone else and we want to “be liked” by others, so we tend to go along to get along.
The same serpent who deceived Eve is actively trying to deceive believers today. And in our age of advanced technology, we have even more ways to believe lies. Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” But it seems that Christians are some of the most gullible people around these days. We’re prone to believe anything that someone emails us.
The word “tolerance” has undergone the same change. Tolerance used to mean, “respecting the beliefs and practices of others without agreeing with them.” The new use of the word tolerance means that I must not only allow but I must accept the beliefs and practices of those with whom I disagree. This new tolerance came to be in a postmodern world where objective truth no longer exists. There are only subjective opinions and if someone’s truth differs from your truth you must accept it as being as valid as your truth; if you don’t, you are intolerant.
Many people think God’s ways are so mysterious they are beyond our understanding. Perhaps the phrase “God moves in mysterious ways” was coined because in the Bible, God often did the unexpected. For instance, instead of using Moses when he was 40 years old, God waited until Moses was 80—that’s moving in a mysterious way! Instead of using Gideon’s army of 32,000 soldiers, God told Gideon to whittle his ranks down until only 300 soldiers remained—that’s pretty mysterious. God seldom acts or moves the way we think He should.
Instead of having the Messiah, the King of the Jews born in a great palace, He was born to a peasant girl in a barn. Instead of having the Messiah placed on a great throne of gold, God had the Messiah nailed to a cross of wood. Unexpected? God specializes in the unexpected.
“God helps those who help themselves” it is seldom spoken in kindness and usually spoken as a harsh statement challenging someone to get up from their pity party and get to work. This is a half-truth because the Bible does teach God won’t bless laziness. Let’s imagine that you need a job to feed your family. You should get on your knees and ask God to give you a job, but then you shouldn’t get up and sit by the phone and just expect some employer to call you out of the blue and offer you a job. Don’t do anything until you pray, but then get out and knock on doors and put in applications. That’s what Jesus meant when He told us to ask, seek, and knock. We’ve all met slackers who created the need for such a biblical misquote. Laziness is part of our sinful nature. Some people would love to just lay around and have God put food in their mouth and then massage their jaws to chew it, and tickle their throats so they’ll swallow it.
Some people have the idea that Jesus is the great Uniter of the world’s people, and that Christianity is a wonderful ethical system that will produce one world family where everyone lives in peace and harmony with each other. Actually, the words of Jesus are so radical they divide people into two groups. He said that there are only two eternal destinies: Heaven and Hell. In Matthew 25, Jesus said at the Judgement, people would be divided into two groups: sheep and goats. The Father would welcome His Sheep into heaven, and the goats would be sent to the hell. He didn’t say there would be sheep and goats and squirrels and cows, only two groups.
From the cradle to the grave, each of us is a bundle of needs. What is your need? Do you need truth? It’s found in the word of God. But if you don’t obey it, you will lose the little that you have. Are you feeling lonely and isolated? Here’s a great big family opening our arms to you saying, “Come just as you are” we will love you and accept you the way Jesus loves and accepts you. Or do you need that inner peace and tranquility so that, like Jesus, you can sleep soundly in the midst of the storm? Come to Jesus–He really is all you need!
In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus is giving us some plain principles. These principles don’t tell us how to become a Christian, they tell us how to live once we have decided to follow Jesus. He is telling us how to live a blessed, happy fulfilled life. He is warning away from the attitudes that destroy our lives; which set are you following?
The religious snobs of Jesus’ day didn’t like His teaching because it was so revolutionary. It was new. He said things they never heard before. His new teaching shocked and offended them. He did things they never saw before–he ate and drank with sinners! In our next passage–horror of horrors–His disciples picked and ate grain on the Sabbath. The religious leaders could not handle this new wine Jesus was offering. They were like the inflexible old wineskins. Their attitudes were “If it is new, it can’t be true!” Every time Jesus said or did something new you could almost hear the sound of straining and stretching until “pop!”—so they killed the messenger instead of accepting the message.
If at the end of this message you do not believe that the Bible is anything more than a collection of myths and legends, then you really don’t have any hope for the future, because this business about heaven could be just a myth. If however, you believe, as I do, that this Bible is the totally inspired Word of God–and is totally without error–then I expect to see you continue to base your entire life on what we find in its pages. And you can be certain that your hope of heaven is sure!
God’s wrath has been revealed throughout history. It has been demonstrated or revealed throughout history. We have seen many examples of his wrath mixed with mercy and grace. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” It’s being revealed right now. Why does God show us some demonstrations of his wrath in history? To warn us. To teach us that one day God is going to judge sin.
Our judgment is not like God’s judgment. Man’s judgment is blind, not only to all the evidence, but we are blind to our own mistakes. We all have blind spots in our character that a lot of other people can see, but we can’t see them. Paul says, “You are doing a dangerous thing when you judge other people because you may be guilty of the same thing.” God’s judgment is perfect. God’s judgment is perfect! He has no flaws, no character deficiencies, so His judgment is perfect because His character is perfect.
Have you ever wondered what the eternal destiny is of a person who is born and raised and lives and dies in a place where they never once have access to a Bible, they never hear about God, they never hear the Christian message? What’s going to be their eternal destiny? What about a person who is faithful to another religion, say Buddhism or Islam all their lives? Is God going to excuse them? Is God going to excuse those people who never had access to the Bible?
Has this ever happened to you? When you read a passage of scripture that you have read time and time again and suddenly, it just reaches out and grabs you by the lapels and slaps you in the face like one of those Aqua Velva commercials and you just get a wake up call and you say, “Whoa!” When that happens, it is a sword you can use to dispel fear, anxiety, depression and anything the devil is shooting at you.
Reports of near-death experiences have confused a lot of people. Many of us want to know the same thing: what happens at the point of death? In the Old Testament, even Job asked the question everybody wants to know: If a man dies, shall he live again? Death is not a period; it is a comma.
If you want to have the fruit of goodness, righteousness and truth in your life, the way to do it is get close to the light! Spend time next to the Light, because he is goodness he is righteousness he is truth. That’s why it’s important to have a quiet time. That’s why it’s very important every day for you to spend personal quality time with God in prayer and Bible study. That’s why you need to come to church and have a Bible study group to be a part of be involved in discipleship because you are exposing yourself to the light and the only way that you and I can shine out there in the darkness is if we stay close to the light who is Jesus.