Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Best Way To Live

Blue skies and warm temperatures ushered us into week two of our summer schedule with services beginning at nine-thirty a.m. The sanctuary was abuzz with energy from the beautiful morning here.

Pastor Brad welcomed everyone and noted that his sermon today was going to be more of a journal entry than a sermon. If we were to take nothing else away from this service, he underscored James 1:22 as a lynch pin in this morning’s message.

Announcements included two especially big events taking place in June. First, on June 29 we will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary. Stayed tuned for more information about this big event. And finally, Vacation Bible School will begin in two weeks, always an exciting time in the life of the church.

Today’s Scripture readings:
Genesis 6:9-22
Matthew 6:24-34

The Best Way To Live
Why would you ever want to place your life under God’s authority? Because it is the best way to live. He’s bigger than you, knows more than you, sees how things are for you, and more. God loves you, knows what's best for you and wants to lead you.

At the beginning of His ministry, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan even He never considered going His own way. God’s way was the only way for Jesus.

Temptation comes to all of us. The enemy of our souls is relentless. But we can overcome temptation. We win by hiding the Word of God in our hearts. Preceding even this, we win when we become convinced that God’s way is best for us.

James 1:13-15 says that God does not tempt us.
13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

To illustrate how temptation works Pastor Brad told a story about fishing with a friend who had a fish finder. The bait was dropped into the water and he watched as the fish came over to it, enticed. It was interesting watching as the fish looked at it from this angle and that, and after examining from all sides, he nibbles. Then after another nibble he grabs the whole thing and runs with it. Next things you know he’s hooked, cleaned, filleted and fried.

The congregation laughed out loud because of the vividness of this apt illustration.

Don’t be deceived, James write. God has good things for us, perfect gifts. These gifts are ours through the word of truth.

Pastor then underscored verses 19 and 20.
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Anger screws up your relationships, he said, calling it a “weapon of mass destruction.” Referencing Job 5:2, he said that anger hurts the angry person, so you need to let it. go.

Our culture encourages revenge and the nurturing of anger, resentments and bitterness. But God’s word says, “Justice is mine, says the Lord.” This is true freedom.

Verse 21 states, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Humble acceptance of the word of life is an attitude for life.

The key verse that Pastor Brad emphasized was verse 22. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” The word “listen” in this passage is the root word we use for our word audit. In other words, don’t just audit, don’t be passive about it. Rather, apply it to your life. If you listen and do not act, you are simply deceiving yourselves.

The last verses in this section flow out of this thought. 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

If your heart isn’t growing toward the people God loves, then you’re missing something. Words without practice is one of the great self-deceptions. If you’re just talking about it, and not living it, you’re just kidding yourselves.

God’s word is a mirror. And it is life to us. Drink it in, live it out. God’s word can change your life. And God’s ways are absolutely the best ways to live. He’s not out to wreck your fun.

Read and re-read these passages. Truth leads to confession and action. Resolve now to apply it to your life.

25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

Why obey? Because we’re grateful for what He’s done for us. And it’s the right way to live.

After a closing hymn we shared in the sacrament of communion.

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