Sunday, July 15, 2018

Well-Rehearsed Lies


Gtcotr/ss071518

Would you turn in your Bibles with me this morning to the Gospel of John. We will be taking our text from the 8th chapter today. John 8. As you are finding that passage allow me to read a few verses from the Old Testament book of:

Deuteronomy 22  NKJV
22  “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die — the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.
23  “If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her,
24  “then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

It was to this portion of the Law of Moses, (Leviticus 20:10), that the scribes and Pharisees were referring when they approached Jesus in the Temple early one morning.

John 8 NKJV
2  Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to be taught the Word of God by the Living Word of God. It must have made the Word come alive in the people. Never had they heard anything like it …

God wants us to put ourselves in the Word … it’s all about you …

3  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,

The Holy Spirit is begging us to ask some questions here. God wants us to imagine ourselves as onlookers; as bystanders; as perhaps one of those people to whom Jesus was teaching. What would you have observed if you had been there during this encounter? What questions would you have?
·        Why did these scribes and Pharisees bring this woman to the Temple? If they have two or more witnesses they are supposed to take her outside the gates of the city and stone her to death. They know the law …
·        Where is the man? Last time I looked … the act to which they refer takes two people and they are going to claim they saw her in the act.
·        And … You mean they are interrupting Church for this?
o   The Bible clearly says that the sound of the hammer should never be heard in the Sanctuary.
o   Church is not the place to air dirty laundry, make accusations or judge others.
o   You never go to the Temple trying to get God to kill someone for you.
o   This has to be a setup … sounds like the devil to me.

4  they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
5  “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

Yep, it’s a set up …
·        It’s what I like to call:
o   Well-rehearsed lies …
o   Reckon how long it took them to come up with this one?

6  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Sometimes it may seem like Jesus isn’t listening but, He always is.
·        He always has a Word for you …

7  So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

There was only one person in their midst that was without sin … it was Jesus Himself. What is Jesus saying?
·        You aren’t worthy to judge the sins of others.
·        Leave the judgement of other people’s sins in the hands of Jesus.

8  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

It has been suggested that Jesus was writing either the individual sins of these men or perhaps the names of the women with whom they were flirting or sleeping with. We don’t really know what it was, but we do know whatever Jesus wrote made an impact on every one of them.

9  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Nowhere here do we see or hear Jesus condemning these men. He simply said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
·        Honest, caring, loving truth and even correction and rebuke  is not spoken in condemnation.
o   The book of Hebrews says that no correction is pleasant in the moment but afterwards yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness. (Hebrews 12)
·        Truth presented in humility, (Jesus quietly stooping down before them), leaves the situation open for the Holy Spirit to bring about conviction in the hearts and minds of men and women.
·        Men condemn, criticize and reject … God convicts, encourages and embraces repentant hearts.

These men didn’t know it, but bringing a sinner to Jesus is the best thing anyone could do for them.
·        When we remind Jesus of sinners, let’s hope He will save them and set them free.

10  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Take note:
·        Jesus never said the sin was ok.
·        He did not excuse sin or make excuses for the sin.
·        Jesus didn’t say,
o   “I understand why you did it.” Or
o   “Weren’t those men horrible.”
·        Jesus gave her the Gospel:
o   “I do not condemn you”
o   “Go and sin no more”

John 3:17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.

Have you been saved?
·        The devil will condemn you
·        The world will condemn you
·        Religion will condemn you
·        You can even condemn yourself
·        But, condemnation and feeling bad about being bad won’t save you!

Only Jesus can save;
·        He will never condemn you
·        But He will
o   Convict you
o   Deliver you
o   Save your soul
o   And help you to change the way you’ve been living.

Stop listening to the well-rehearsed lies of the devil about you and about others.

Listen to the Living Word … He is your best friend!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

5 Essentials Every Harlot Needs to Be Her Best


Gtcotr/ss070818

Give the Old Testament account of the harlot from Jericho. (Joshua 2 & 6)

Hebrews 11:31  By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

Why didn’t Rahab perish with all the rest of her friends and neighbors in Jericho? Rahab was special. What made Rahab special? Rahab had the:

5 Essentials Every Harlot Needs to Be Her Best
        In order to truly succeed in life every harlot needs:
1.  A call of God on their life.
·        Of course, all harlots, and all people for that matter, have a call of God on their lives which was given before the foundation of the world.
·        Every person is special to God and every person is called of God.
·        Responding to your call is the first critical key to your success.
·        What else will it take for you to be at your best? Just like Rahab -
2.  A willingness to change.
·        Nothing changes until something changes.
·        Most people who fail would not have if they had only changed.
·        The biggest reason people don’t change is because they are unwilling to change.
·        Change begins in the heart and mind and then is proven through actions. James demands corresponding actions to prove faith.
·        Rahab changed sides during a difficult time. Rahab believed it was better for her, her family and her future to ally herself with the God of Israel than is was to do nothing and die with her friends.

Joshua 6:17  Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

3.  An Anti-Fragile quality of life.
·        While stress poisons some people, those with this anti-fragile quality end up gaining strength from chaos, disorder or stress.
·        More than the ability to endure, this anti-fragile quality is the ability to make gain in the face of uncertainty and adversity.
·        Anti-fragile people excel in volatility and gain from the adventure.
·        The more the are afflicted the more they multiply and grow. (Exodus 1:12) Light afflictions work for them …
4.  A Benevolent Benefactor chosen by God.
·        Like Ruth needed Boaz
·        Like Rebecca needed Isaac
·        Like Mary needed Joseph
·        Like the Church and every soul needs Jesus
·        We all need a benevolent benefactor who is strong and capable enough to shepherd, cover and care for us and to whom we can submit above our own strengths. Whose benefactor are you?
5.  An ability to outlive the past.
·        Outlive, Out Last and Out Distance the past …
·        Moses, Ruth, David, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Paul, and Mark and Rahab are but a few Bible examples of people who outlived their past. Ally yourself with God and you will outlive your troubles.
·        Your future is not determined by your past but by your God. Don’t allow the past to be your god.
·        Today you should begin writing the last chapter in your life.
·        Only the decisions you make today will determine if you will be remembered as a hero or a zero. Will you be just one more harlot scheming to save your own life or the heroine of Jericho who makes a decision to change your life, your family and your future?
·        Rahab ultimately became a great grandmother of Jesus!

Refuse to allow your past to determine your future.
1.   Recognize the call of God on your life. It’s not just wishful thinking – God has a plan for your life and He is speaking to you every day.
2.   Be willing to change – after a while, others will see that you did.
3.   Begin building your anti-fragile outlook on life. (2 Corinthians 4:17ff)
4.   Seek out and submit to your Benevolent Benefactor - God has called and commissioned someone to care for you. His name is Jesus!
5.   Begin writing what you want to be the next chapter of your life. When you get to heaven, people on earth will still talk about you.

Hebrews 11:31  By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

The harlot did not perish because she put her faith in God … have you?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Conclusions


Gtcotr/ss070118

I want to begin with a little about the infamous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys that began during the 1800’s in Pike County Kentucky.
·        Mr. Perry Staton, a 93-year-old member of our Church, was raised in Pike County and is related to both the Hatfields and the McCoys.
·        In fact, a man named Bill Staton, an ancestor of Mr. Perry’s, was the first person killed in the feud.
·        Mr. Perry’s grandfather wrote an extensively documented account of the events leading up to the feud in a published book on the subject. I’ve read that book in which he lists all of the court documents and witness statements and several accounts from friends and neighbors.
·        Even though the descendants either don’t know or won’t agree with what caused the feud in the first place, they are still feuding. Here is a portion of one historian’s take on it and how it started, entitled:

The Real Reason the Hatfields and McCoys Started Feuding
June 15, 2015
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In the late 19th century, the Hatfields and McCoys were locked in a bloody, decades-long feud…

… the event that launched the now-infamous conflict—which claimed the lives of 13 family members—has taken a backseat to the fact of its impressive longevity. What caused the bad blood in the first place? A pig …

In 1878, Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing one of his hogs. The matter went to trial, with the star testimony coming from Bill Staton, a McCoy who married a Hatfield. Staton sided with Hatfield, and was later shot dead by Sam McCoy.

Generations later, the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s grandchildren and great grandchildren are still considered to be in a feud even though many of them can’t even agree on why the feud began in the first place. They were raised in a feud and have lived under the assumption that feuding is the way of life for them and have concluded that feuding is the only option.

Conclusions

Today we are talking about conclusions and how they can affect everything we think, believe and do and even affect future generations to come.

Let’s look back a little farther in history, back to about 1100 years Before Christ. There we find the account of the Children of Israel going to battle against the Philistines and losing possession of the Ark of the Covenant. You can read about it in 1 Samuel, chapter 4. (Allow me to catch us up …)

(Side Note: Michelob – Ichabod --- Tell the story all the way through Dagon’s beheading and the dedication of the threshold of his temple …)

Our text for today begins in:

1 Samuel 5
1 ¶  Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
2  When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon.
3  And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again.
4  And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it.
5  Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

The Philistines drew a stupid conclusion to the events they had witnessed. They concluded that the threshold was sacred and then began to worship it. Their decisions for their future and the future of their children were based on the wrong interpretation. (Just to note: in the medieval period, when Christianity became widely corrupted, the adoration of the thresholds  of churches was once again revisited. People would even bow and kiss them before entering concluding that the building or the institution had somehow become holy and the object of worship.

In the case of these Philistines, that’s what I call, “Stinking Thinking’.

Something was wrong with their interpreter … When we listen to the wrong voices we will make the wrong choices. Not everything that sounds or seems or is spiritual is Godly. The elder John wrote to us about that …

Everyone sees the same thing, but conclusions are subject to each individual’s personal interpretation.

For example, 10 out of 12 spies, like in the book of Numbers, chapter 14, will tell you that you the enemies are too big …
·        That you can’t trust God
·        That you are going to die
It seems rare to find people who can draw an accurate conclusion. Especially if they have already made up their minds and are looking for confirmation. It can be tough to accept that you have made a wrong conclusion.

What most often leads people to draw wrong conclusions?
·        Stubbornness
·        Pride
·        Hurt
·        Anger
·        History/Experience
·        Spiritual blindness
·        Hubris
·        Youthful Idealism
·        The pressure or the desire to run with the crowd
o   The Emperor’s new clothes
o   The 10 spies
o   The Philistines when it came to Dagon

Our conclusions control our decisions and ultimately control our actions.

There is a universal law that says:
·        You find exactly what you are looking for …
o   New Cars
o   Nobody likes me
o   Everybody loves me
o   Mexican Restaurants
·        We find what we are searching for and we search for validation of our conclusions.

There is a story about two men sitting on the porch of the General Store in a small West Virginia town. A car pulled up with a family of four and the dad rolled down his window to ask a question. It seems the family was wanting to relocate out of the city and wondered what kind of people lived in this particular town. When asked that question one of the old men answered with a question: “What kind of people live in the place where you’re coming from?” The reply from that family was that the people they were leaving were hard and harsh, unfriendly and not to be trusted. The second old man sitting on the porch spoke up and said, “That’s exactly the kind of people you’re going to find here in this town too.” With that, the window rolled up and the family drove off.

A little while later the same thing was repeated by another family looking to relocate. When they stopped and asked the question as to what kind of people lived in this town the same old man answered with the question: “What kind of people live in the town you folks are from?” The response was quite different. The family replied that the people in their community were kind and nice, friendly and supportive and that they just hated having to leave. That second old man spoke up again with the same answer … “Well, he said, that’s exactly the kind of people you’re going to find in this town too.”

We find what we are looking for and perhaps we even mostly find people who are just like us! Conclusions …

How do people draw conclusions? What do we use to decide what we are going to believe and how we interpret what is going on around us?
1.  Filters
2.  Fears
3.  Foregone Conclusions

Some of us have already made up our minds and drawn conclusions about:
·        Chevrolets
·        Foreigners
·        Policemen
·        Political Parties
·        Blondes
·        Men with beards
·        Preachers
It won’t matter how wrong we may be … Our foregone conclusions will find confirmations and will affect our decisions and be passed down to our children for generations to come … right up until somebody decides to break out of those fears, filters and foregone conclusions.

What can we do to insure we always have the best interpretation of anything we see, hear or experience?

We should always apply a generous amount of:
·        Mercy
·        Forgiveness
·        Love
·        Thanksgiving
·        Grace
·        Hope
·        Faith
·        Compassion
·        Kindness
·        Patience
To everything we hear and see.
1.  Change your filter
2.  Conquer your fears
3.  Let the Word of God establish your foregone conclusions

Like jelly on a piece of toast … every experience should always be tasted through the sweetness of God’s Word, God’s Will and God’s Way.

Tell me, what have you concluded about Jesus, the Church, the Bible, being a witness to others, heaven or hell? Do you have God’s interpretation, your own convictions or someone else’s opinion making decisions for you? Only what God believes and only His conclusions will stand the test of eternity.

Let’s make sure Jesus is not only our Savior but also our Lord. Then, let’s submit each day’s conclusions to Him and His Word and ask the Holy Spirit to become our interpreter, our teacher and our guide.

This is the daily will of God for you.