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Sunday, November 27, 2022

What should the Christian’s relationship with the world be like?

What should the Christian’s relationship with the world be like? At first glance, one might think that the Christian should have no relationship with the world. The Bible sometimes uses the phrase “the world” to describe the enemies of God and His people. One such example is Ephesians 6:12 in which Paul through the Spirit of God warns us, “. . . our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Therefore, one might assume the best relationship is either not at all, or to stand in opposition to the world.

This would seem to fall in line with James’s similar warning in chapter 4 where we learn, “that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Indeed, a friendly relationship with evil or a level of comfort with the unholy and ungodly things of this world would certainly damage our faith or put our reliance on God or allegiance to Him at risk.

However, to adopt such a view that the world and its people are irredeemable goes against what it means to be ministers (2 Cor 3:6), missionaries (Acts 12:25), ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20), and servants (Rom 16:1) since the mission field itself is not only the weary Christians but also the fertile soil of the world.

In fact, Paul felt the need to clarify in his letter to the Corinthian church that when he wrote about the kinds of people the church members should associate with or avoid, he intended for them to avoid sinners that bear the name of Christ, not all sinful people. He goes on to say that if the message was to avoid all sinful people, “you would have to leave this world.” (1 Cor 5:9-11).

Paul says he doesn’t expect us to be astronauts. He does expect us to be in the mission field, in the messy world we live in, not as friends or allies with evil but as a voice crying out in the wilderness calling people to repentance and salvation (Is 40:3, John 1:23).

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Preaching the Gospel

This morning, we continue our series in a study of worship: what it means, why we worship, and how we worship. Last week we talked about the connection between the words for worship and for worthy. Our worship is an expression of our recognition of the One who is worthy: God. Psalm 18:3 describes worship as a calling on the Lord: “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so I shall be saved from my enemies.”

We worship in song, in prayer, in the gathering around the table of thanksgiving, and we also worship in studying the word of God. Just as we talked about various ways that offerings and sacrifices could be brought in a way God does not desire, we also see boundaries and direction for what should be taught in the church. Our messages should not just be life-lessons, personal anecdotes, and a bit of light-heartedness. Neither should they just be the text of the Bible without explanation or application.

Our messages require a number of vital ingredients, both from the ancient world of the text and from the day and age in which we live. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). We must have the text, and we must know what to do with that text (James 1:22). We must have the Scriptures, and we must know how to handle them (2 Tim 2:15).

Our messages must be relatable and clear (1 Cor 9:22). Sometimes, clarity comes with an awakening. Sometimes, it is well-received but at other times, the truth may bring pain (Gal 4:16). However, painful truths give us no right to be hurtful:  “Instead, speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).

Our messages warn, they give hope, they bring compassion, they offer love, they promise peace. Sometimes, our messages even use words (1 Pt 3:1).

Is your life bringing a Gospel message to the world around you? 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Hoping to Trust

 Our reading this morning will come from Luke 16:10: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”

The more I think about this verse, the more I see its power.

We look around in this world and we see prices going up, groceries cost more, rent, fuel, everything seems to cost more now than it did before and all it seems to do is make us feel like we have so little. The same grocery bill doesn’t fill up the cart like it used to. The same price at the pump doesn’t fill up the tank like it used to. Everywhere you look you’re being reminded about how little we have and how much everything costs.

Friends, don’t let the world get you down. Don’t let the message from the world drown out the message of the cross. Don’t let the hardships we face now attack our faith in a way that keeps us from our future glory. The Lord tells us through His word that sometimes we will suffer and experience trials and hardship. He tells us that when these things happen, we must not let the daily trouble overtake our eternal blessings. He encourages us to have faith, and to “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2).

Jesus makes these sorts of worries a “faith issue” and let’s be honest, that’s a challenging thought. Jesus tells the story of a woman who gave even when she had so little (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus tells us that the big and amazing things we think He can’t do through us actually only take a small amount of faith (Mat. 17-20).

Jesus tells us through James that as big as my problems are, my current worries, my fears, or as big as my doubts might be, or as overwhelming as my life is that with God by my side these things are small and will be defeated. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (Jam. 4:14b). Lord, let me use this time I have that is here for a little while for You.

We like to think we have just a little and so that means we might only have a little to give, or only a little with which to honor God, or only a little to bless others with.  

But Jesus tells us we’re thinking too small. He says to “be faithful in a little” (Luke 16:10) and you will be blessed.