Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Life Lessons Part 2


Taking the Time to Think about God


“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6).


Thinking about religion is not exactly the same thing as thinking about God. The subject of religion often ends up being as much about ourselves and ‘our relationship’ to God as about God Himself. We find ourselves pondering our attitude, our obedience, our feelings, our needs, our difficulties. At some point however, should we not take time out and think about God Himself?” (Diligently Seeking God, Gary Henry, April 5th). If religion only brings us back to our problems then such problems seem huge and insurmountable. It is healthy to contemplate the nature of God, His mercy, love, and power. It is beneficial to remember that long before we came along with our problems, God had existed from eternity and has helped countless others through their issues. In fact, the bigger that God is in our minds the smaller our problems seem to be.


Another huge benefit of spending time pondering God and His nature is that we are spending time learning what He wants instead of daydreaming about what we want. “One of the highest reasons for doing what is right is that we desire to be exactly what our Father wants us to be. We do this not for our own sake, but for His. Because we love Him and also trust Him, we love whatever He desires for us” (Henry, March 25th). This was the attitude that Jesus manifested, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).


If we frequently act in ways that contradict what we say we believe about God, at some point we have to ask ourselves whether what we say we believe is what we really do believe. ‘Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God (A.W. Tozer) (Henry April 6th).


The Beauty of Holiness


“Worship the Lord in holy array (side reference, ‘in the majesty of holiness’)” (Psalm 27:2). “Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).


Holiness does not have the best of reputations. Those who strive for it are thought to be anxious, repressive, and slightly neurotic. Yet however many unhealthy people there may be in the world, such an image is an unfair caricature of the genuine seeker of God. If we do fit the stereotype of the emotionally strung-out saint, we’ve probably not made our way very far down the path of real sanctity. Far from being incompatible with health, holiness may be defined as wholeness and health in the most comprehensive sense, as indicated by the very etymology of the words. But if the holy life is not below the level of normal, there is also a sense in which it is not above. We don’t help ourselves by thinking of holiness as an extraordinary state of being, not meant for most of us. In the Scriptures, obedience is presented as the ordinary thing. It is simply the intended, normal mode of human living. If anything is to be called extraordinary, that would be unholiness. To be holy just means that we are living a life where all the parts of our being are in their proper, normal place. Holiness is quite ordinary in that it is ‘the symmetry of the soul’” (Henry March 31st).


The truth that holiness is being a healthy, well-rounded human being is seen when one reads many of the epistles. In the Ephesian Letter Paul outlines the new man or personal holiness (Ephesians 4:24 for the Christian and here is what we find:


  • Honesty (4:25).

  • The right use of our anger (4:26)

  • A healthy work ethic and helping those in need (4:28)

  • The removal of corrupt speech which is replaced by edifying words (4:29)

  • The removal of all the bitterness (4:31)

  • Tenderness, forgiveness and patience (4:32)

  • Respect, honor, and sacrifice in our marriages (5:22-32)

  • Honor and obedience in the home (6:1-4)

  • Leaving the righting of all wrongs and the final rewards to God (6:8)

  • Relying upon God making good use of our strength

  • A life enveloped in faith, truth, virtue, honor, hope, prayer and the good news


Repenting Before We Sin


We are not talking about planning to sin and then repenting afterward, rather “dealing wisely and decisively with temptation requires strength of character. If sin is to be avoided, we must be able to interrupt the train of events described by James: ‘But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (1:14-15).


  • From this passage we learn that temptation follows definite paths and thus can be predicted. In addition, there really are not any new sins and new temptations are not being invented on a daily basis. Sin still follows the same basic path as it did 2000 years ago (1 John 2:15-17).

  • The good news from James 1:13-15 is that the desires that entice us are ours. Most of us already know which desires we presently find more appealing than others, or which ones quickly draw us into temptation.

  • As a result, we are very familiar with the temptation process and very familiar with the desires that get us into trouble, therefore we should stop acting surprised or playing dumb when it comes to temptation. We are experts in this area and should know exactly where we can stop or short-circuit the process.

  • Most people know what it feels like to hate or loathe a sin that has already been committed. But wouldn’t it be a great thing to have the same intensity of feeling beforehand so that the act could be prevented? One reason we succumb to temptation as we do is that we don’t really say ‘No!’ to sin. We often think that’s what we’ve done. But often, the actual fact is that we’ve not at any point really said ‘No!’ to the act we’re contemplating. Decisively rejecting sin is more than a vague feeling that we ought not to do the thing. It’s more than the soft whisper of our conscience” (Henry, March 22nd).


If we find ourselves frustrated that we keep falling into a temptation we need to take another look at our resolve. Instead of thinking that the gospel isn’t working for us or maybe 1 Corinthians 10:13 isn’t true in our case, we need to honestly ask ourselves, “Did I decisively say ‘No!’?” Or, did I say something like, “Let’s wait and see what happens”?


Godly Sorrow


“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).


  • Godly sorrow is a remorse that grieves what our sins have cost God, and if our thoughts have to do mostly with our own gains and losses, then whatever mourning we do will be worldly, not godly. To turn away from sin decisively, we have to concentrate on things higher than ourselves” (Henry April 24th).

  • Against Thee, Thee only; I have sinned” (Psalm 51:4); “How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9).

  • It is one thing to mourn for sin because it exposes us to hell, and another to mourn for it because it is an infinite evil; one thing to mourn for it because it is injurious to ourselves, and another thing to mourn for it because it is wrong and offensive to God. It is one thing to be terrified; another, to be humbled” (Gardiner Spring).

  • There is nothing wrong with being concerned with the evil in the world, the evil “out there”, but sometimes we can become so focused on the evil “out there” that we miss the evil in ourselves. What should really bother us are our own sins.


1 Corinthians 10:13


“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it”


  • Despite these difficulties, no single moment asks of us anything impossible. Our tests come in single file, and if we take them as they come, we can learn to manage our moments more effectively. God is willing to help us, but only with the actual needs of the present moment. ‘One is given strength to bear what happens to one, but not the one hundred and one different things that might happen’ (C.S. Lewis). God doesn’t protect us from all possible problems; He helps with ouractual problems” (Henry May 2nd).

  • The verse affirms that whatever must be done at the moment to resist, fleeing or bearing up under temptation will be doable. Instead of resenting a temptation or trial we should realize that such trials give God a chance to act in our lives, and they give us a chance to demonstrate what we really claim to believe.