A Christmas Without Christ

Have you noticed that every year people seem more intent on
secularizing Christmas?   They wish you a
“Happy Holiday” or “Seasons Greetings” they have presentations at school that
make no mention of the manger or the Wise Men let alone the Christ Child. 
Now I may be a little overly sensitive but somehow I think
that if the school tried to secularize Muslim or Jewish Holidays in the same
fashion that just wouldn’t be right.
Anyways maybe they are right, maybe, just maybe Christmas
has itself has become more of a cultural holiday and should have the various
religious elements removed so as not to offend those who might not practice the
Christian faith.
This morning we are going to take a look at what happens
when we take Christ out of Christmas.
Well the obvious thing is that we won’t be able to say Merry
Christmas anymore.  If we are going to do
this right the first thing we need to do is take his name out of the
holiday.  That’s why we celebrate
Christmas in the first place. 
Now a little background, some of you probably know that the
date of Christmas was originally used in pagan celebrations in Rome to
celebrate the passing of the winter solstice. 
The ancients knew that by this time in December that the shortest day
and longest night had passed, and with that came the promise of longer days,
shorter nights and eventually spring. 
Around 270 AD Emperor Aurelian capitalized upon the heathen
worship of the sun and co-opted it as a Roman holiday when he declared December
25th as the birthday of the Unconquered Sun.  
The date of December 25th as the celebration of Christ’s
birth was first seen in a Roman calendar dating from approximately AD 336.  But it would be almost another twenty years in
AD 354, at the beginning of the reign of Liberius as the bishop of Rome, that
the 25th of December had become the official date for the celebration of the
birth of Christ in the church.
But really.  You know as well as I do that it is very
unlikely that Christ was born during the winter months of Israel.  Those cold and wet winter’s nights, Why
not?  Good question in Luke 2:8 That night there
were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
The usual time for the sheep to be keep in the fields
surrounding Bethlehem is after the last of the winter rains in April and before
they start up again in November. 
But December wasn’t always the choice for celebrating Christ’s
birthday, in the two hundred years after the death of Christ Christians
celebrated his birth on January 6, April 19, May 20 and several other dates.
Forty years ago a British physicist and astronomer, David
Hughes, calculated that the date of Christ’s birth was September 17th 7 BC.  He based this on various scientific evidence,
including that of a conjunction of two planets, Jupiter and Saturn, in the
constellation of Pisces on that date.  He
concludes that this extraordinary celestial display was the “star” seen by the
distant wise men. 
But the truth is that we really don’t know when Christ was
born.  Historically it would have had to
have been before 4 BC which was the death of Herod the great, and because of
the weather patterns it is doubtful if it would have happened outside of that
seven month spread between April and November. 
But it really doesn’t matter does it? 
The fact is that if we are going to take all of the
religious symbolism out of Christmas we have to get rid of the Christ.  And that leaves us wishing people a Merry
—-mas.  And that really doesn’t work
either.  You understand that the word
Christmas is a combination of the words Christ and Mass and while the word Mass
comes the Latin Missa which simply means “The Meeting” historical it has
referred to the public celebration of the Eucharist in the Catholic
Church. 
Or very simply mass means church service, which of course is
rife with religious symbolism.  So I
guess we’ll just have to wish people a Merry ——.   You’ll
want to make sure people understand that you are saying Merry and not Mary,
otherwise you’ll be into the entire debate of Mary being the mother of Christ. I
guess we can leave them with the Merry because of the different spelling.
 So where does that
leave us, we won’t call it Christmas we’ll have to simply refer to it as the
Holidays and even that’s wrong because holiday is simply the diminutive of Holy
Day, so maybe we can just call it “Winterfest”. 
And instead of having a Christmas tree we’ll just have a festive
tree or a holiday tree.   
When we were meeting in the Lion’s Den in Bedford, each year
around this time decorations would magically appear.  There would be an artificial tree, some fake
holly and a few plastic bulbs.  That was
the extent of their Christmas decorations. 
The funny thing about the tree is that even though the city and the
Lions club were very careful to avoid any suggestion of religion in their
decorations, they definitely wouldn’t consider having a Nativity Scene, but
each year there was always an angel on their tree.  And angels are an important part of the
season for most people. 
We see them on trees and rooftops, they have become lawn
ornaments and gift tags, Christmas cards that don’t say anything about Christ
will have angels with trumpets on the cover. Go figure.  But you can’t just have angels without
realizing where the angels come from.
The Christmas story is full of angels. It was an Angel who
told Mary she would have a child even though she was a virgin.  It was an angel who reassured Joseph that his
fiancé hadn’t been unfaithful and that the child she was carrying had been
conceived by the Holy Spirit.  It was
Angels who appeared to the shepherds with news of the Christ child being born
in Bethlehem
and it was an angel who warned Joseph and Mary that Herod wanted to kill their
child.
Probably the part of the story
that most of us associate with angels happened in the field with the shepherds,
we read about it in Luke 2:13-14 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the
armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and
peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
But have you noticed how in recent years angels have become
harmless nonreligious icons?  I’ve had
people tell me: “I’m really not religious but I believe in angels.”  Seriously, what they really believe in aren’t
angels, they are just really big fairies. 
So realistically, if you are taking Christ out of Christmas
then you have to get rid of the angel from the top of the tree.
So we get rid of that pesky angel off the top of the tree
what should we replace it with?  I know a
star.  What could be any more non-religious
then a star? Stars appear on the flags of half the countries in the world, they
cover the sidewalk in front of a Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and fill the sky
at night.  So there shouldn’t be any
problem with having a star on top of the tree, right? 
Well why do you think people put stars on top of their
trees?  Why not moons or a little
Jupiter, I think having a Saturn with its rings would be pretty cool. But no,
traditionally people have insisted on placing stars on their trees, how come?
It probably goes back to the Christmas story; you know how
the wise men followed a star
That was shining in the east
and it led them to Bethlehem where they found the Christ child. It’s found in Matthew 2:2 “Where is the
newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to
worship him.”
There have been different legends told about the wise men
and the star in the east through the years. 
One of those legends tells us that the star, with its mission complete,
fell into the well at Bethlehem, and that it is still there and can be seen
sometimes by those whose hearts are pure. 
Well the real star might be in a well in Bethlehem but if we
are taking religion out of the holiday season you are going to have to get rid
of the star on top of your tree.
Well I guess that leaves us with a tree without a top. 
Except . . . You ever wonder where the Christmas tree came from?  While the early pagan cultures from the
Romans to the Egyptians to the Celts used evergreens in their celebrations to
signify eternal life, the Christmas tree didn’t actually come into usage until
approximately the 16th century, and the home of the Christmas tree is Germany. 
Why was it used? 
History tells us that it became popular because of a medieval play about
Adam and Eve that was put on each year in December.  Part of the production was the paradise tree,
a fir tree hung with apples signifying the forbidden fruit in the garden.  So having a “paradise tree” in your house was
in the beginning a fad.  At the same time
though there was another tradition in Germany and that was the Christmas
pyramid, which was a triangular shelving unit that Christmas figurines, and
fruit and gifts were put on.  The pyramid
was decorated with a star, signifying the star of the east.  Eventually the paradise tree and Christmas
pyramid merged and we have the Christmas tree.
Now a number of years ago I had heard that it was Martin
Luther, a former catholic priest who became the father of the reformation and
the Lutheran Church, who started this tradition.  So I hunted and hunted, I read a pile of
books, church history, Christmas traditions, encyclopaedias, and finally I
found it, and I quote, “One legend says that Martin
Luther started the practice, according to the story, he noticed the starlit sky
as he walked home one Christmas eve about the year 1513.  He thought the stars looked as if they were
shining on the branches.  When he arrived
home, Martin Luther placed a small fir tree inside his house.  He decorated it with lighted candles.”
I would like to tell you that that exciting discovery came
from Encyclopaedia Britannica, or World Book, Church History Through the Ages
but the truth is that I came upon it in a definitive yet obscure reference
volume that many of you probably aren’t familiar with but that shouldn’t negate
the value of the material.  You see I
found my facts about Martin Luther in Charlie Brown’s
Fourth Super Book of Questions and Answers.
The problem is that any way you slice it the Christmas tree
has a religious background, so it’s gotta go. 
I guess if there’s no tree then Santa will just have to
leave his gifts in the corner, won’t he? 
Well that would be well and good if we could leave Santa in your non-religious
Christmas. You’re probably sitting there thinking “Surely you can’t make Santa
out to be religious symbolism?” 
Sorry. You see Santa Claus wasn’t always Santa Claus, that’s
a relatively new innovation, in the last couple of hundred years. The Santa we
know today had his beginnings in 1823 with Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in which he described
Santa as “chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf”.  But the story of Saint Nicholas didn’t
begin with Moore’s book, his roots actually go back 1700 years when a man by
the name of Nicholas was Bishop of the city or Myra. 
If we were to pull up our trusty map here, we would discover
that Myra is situated here, on the coast of Turkey.  Tradition tells us that Nicholas was born
into a wealthy family and was orphaned as a child because of the plague.  He became a priest in his late teens and was
known for his generosity. During the Roman persecutions of the Christians he
was imprisoned and wasn’t released until the Emperor Constantine became a
believer.
Legend tells us that he took gifts to the children of poor
families and would deliver them by dropping them down their chimneys.  One story tells of how Nicholas heard of a
family with three daughters who couldn’t marry because they had no dowry.
Nicholas snuck into their home and left gold coins in the socks the girls had
left hanging on the mantle to dry.   
Guess back then it wasn’t a matter of marrying for looks or
love it all boiled down the money, and it also means that Christmas Stockings
have to go as well.
After his death the Church pronounced him a Saint and when
Christmas started being celebrated, St. Nicholas became a part of the
celebration.  So, if we have to ditch
Santa and the tree we’ll have to replace them with something.  Maybe a Festivus Pole, you know, from
Sienfield, A Festivus for the Rest of Us.
It really doesn’t matter if we
have a Santa or not I guess, as long as we have gifts right? All the presents
wrapped up with pretty paper and bows and placed by someone who has no
religious connections at all in the corner of the living room under an aluminum
pole where the tree used to be. 
But what would prompt people to
give other people gifts in the middle of the winter?  In Nova Scotia we now have a new holiday in
February but you probably won’t buy a Tim’s card for your letter carrier to
celebrate “Nova Scotia Heritage Day”.
Let me read you a scripture, Matthew 2:10-11 When they
saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the
child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they
opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and
myrrh.

Gifts have been around
since as long as Christmas has been around. 
And even though those first gifts may not have been practical they were
all significant.  Gold was the traditionally
the gift given to a King.  We are told
that in Persia it was customary that no one could approach the King without
first presenting him with a gift of Gold, good work if you can find it.  And so we need to remember that the child in
cradle was also the King of Kings.
The second gift was
frankincense, which was a type of incense that was used in temple worship, as a
matter of fact it’s mentioned in the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament as
a type of sacrifice.  And so this was a
gift for a priest, one who would open the way to God for the people.  It’s interesting that in Latin the word for
priest is Pontifex, which literally means “bridge builder”, and Jesus did what
none of us could do, he built a bridge for us to God.
The third gift was Myrrh
and it was mixed with aloes by the Jews to embalm their dead.  I wonder if Mary remembered the gifts when
her son was crucified?  I wonder if she
still had the myrrh?  It must have been
one of the very first prepaid funerals.
A couple of years ago on a
Christmas Eve a gentleman gave me a little frankincense and a little myrrh,
which I know keep in my office. 
And so the gifts were
brought to a child who would be King, Priest and who would die for the
world.  No one of these gifts would have
been sufficient to fully describe who Christ was, instead it took all three.
So each year when we open
our presents we are remembering the gifts that were given to Christ 2000 years
ago, and you know what that means don’t you? 
Sorry, if you are secularizing Christmas it means no gifts.
So what do we have left,
we’ve taken away the Christ and the mass, the angels the stars, the tree, we’ve
had to get rid of Santa, stockings and all the gifts.  Guess it’s going to be a pretty boring
Winterfest morning.  
But I suppose that we
could always sing. Of course we can’t sing “Away in a Manger”, or “The First
Noel”, or “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, or “Joy to the World”, or any of the
other traditional music. 
I marvelled that when I
worked in retail they told us not wish people a Merry Christmas because it
might offend someone who wasn’t from the Christian background and then they’d
play Christmas hymns for two months.  I
guess you take what you can get.
However if you are serious
about secularizing Christmas all the songs you will have left will be about
reindeer and snowmen.  And if you sing
about snow men you won’t be able to pretend that he is Parson Brown, and if you
sing about reindeer you won’t be able to sing about Santa.  But we can give you the reindeer and the sled,
so maybe a snowman could drive the sled.

Ok, here’s the truth.  This year and for many years to come the
world will not celebrate Winterfest they will celebrate Christmas, with both
Christ and Mas, Churches will be packed on Christmas Eve as people who haven’t
darkened the door for 12 months gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Trees will have angels and stars, and in
memory of a bishop named Nicholas Santa will deliver gifts to children all over
the world just as the Magi gave gifts to the Christ child. We’ll sing our
carols and the most pagan amongst us will celebrate the birth of Jesus in
Song.    And that’s good because as Jesus
said Luke 19:40 He
replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into
cheers!”

Big Brother. . .


I received a letter in the mail the other day from the KIA dealer inviting me to trade my 2011 Rav4 in on a new KIA.  So how did the KIA dealer know that I own a 2011 Rav4?  When I open my browser I’m undulated with ads about things I have shown an interest in.  My iPhone calls me by name.  And I have to wonder: Is Big Brother watching? 
And while it appears that I am known about, KIA, Google and Siri don’t really know me. They may know what I drive and what I look for online, but they don’t know why I drive what I drive and what causes me to look for what I’m looking for.
In our world many people know about us, but how many actually know us? Even those we profess to be close to?  How many know why we do what we do? What keeps us awake at night?  And what stirs our soul?
The Bible tells us that the One who created the universe not only knows about us, He knows us, and cares about all those things, and He invites us to know Him. 
And the answer to the letter I received is: No I don’t want to trade my Toyota for a KIA.
 
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Let Go of Stupid

(Start with clip from frozen:
Elsa song “Let it Go”)
That clip really didn’t have
anything to do with today’s message, there just wasn’t anything suitable for
today’s message and figured that was the title of the series we should tie it
in.
Last week it was announced that a
colleague of mine had confessed to having an affair.  Now for most of you that might spell the end
of your marriage but in this man’s case he found himself unemployed as well. 
He sold his marriage, his
relationship with his children, the respect of his peers and his career for
what?
A friend of mine told me the
other day that his sister in law had recently cheated on his brother and it
wasn’t looking good for their marriage. 
I don’t think any of us would
doubt that Jesus had a strong view on marriage. 
We often think that divorce is a recent innovation but rules and decrees
guiding how couples should split up are more common in the bible than how they
should hitch up.  You would be hard
pressed to find guidelines for what a wedding should look like in the bible but
you only have to go four books in to find the guidelines on how a marriage
should be ended.
And two thousand years ago there
were some of the same concerns about the sanctity of marriage, whether or not
divorce and marriage split ups were becoming way too prevalent as there are
today.  And so in the scripture that was
read earlier Jesus is teaching that in order to be a light to a corrupt society
that those who would follow Christ would have to live above the law. 
Jesus took a strong stand on
divorce, much stronger than the church takes today and that is a sermon for a
different day.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:31 “You have
heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a
written notice of divorce.’  That
was put in for the protection of the family and society.  A marriage couldn’t just be dissolved by one
partner or the other simply walking out, there was a process that had to be
followed. 
But for those who would follow
Christ it was to go to an even higher standard, because the Christian believed
that marriage was not a union of two but instead was a union of three. 
That God put them together and
nobody should split them up, nobody.  But
as strong as the bond of marriage was for Jesus he saw one exception and that
was given in Matthew 5:32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has
been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a
divorced woman also commits adultery.
Now some people see this as a loophole and others see this
as an exception but I think Jesus saw very clearly that nothing could break the
covenant like a physical betrayal, that a couple’s commitment to one another
was declared null and void with the act of adultery.  
It takes two very
special people to work through the damage left behind after an affair.
The Bible, the word of God takes
a very dim view of adultery, as a matter of fact adultery didn’t have to be
specified as a reason for divorce in the Old Testament.  Because in the Old Testament the punishment
for cheating was death by stoning and there was nothing to prevent a widow or
widower from remarrying.  I’ve said
before that while it may not have been a deterrent, it sure cut down on repeat
offenders. A view obviously shared by Loretta Lynn who said “My attitude
toward men who mess around is simple: If you find ’em, kill ’em.”
Some recent studies indicate that
50% of married men and women will have at least one extramarital affair during
their marriage.  Think about it, that’s
50 out of 100, 10 out of 20, 1 out of 2 married men and women will cheat on
their respective spouses.  Hilda Houlding
co-ordinator of the Calgary Family Service Bureau, made this comment “An affair is
often an attempt to find a little bit of paradise on the side, pursuing the
belief that if one just finds the right sexual partner there will be instant
happiness and everything will fall into place. 
An affair is often able to fulfil this myth, until itself becomes a
relationship that has to be worked at and looked at in a long term light.  Seen in this way “paradise” soon becomes a
prison”
I’m old enough to remember when Gary
Hart had to withdraw as a US presidential candidate because there was
speculation about an extramarital affair, and I remember the late 90’s when it seemed
that America was quite willing to accept the fact that not only was their
President an adulterer but was a serial adulterer.  
Today adultery has become almost
common place, not only has it reached almost crisis proportion out there, but
the crisis has spread into the church as well. 
That which was almost unthinkable in the church thirty years ago has
become all too common.
Keith Drury is an author and scholar
in the Wesleyan Church , listen to what he wrote, “The devil is a liar.  No one falls in this area without believing
some of the Devil’s lies.  God tells the
truth.  His word is light, not darkness.  The Devil may be multiplying his attack on
Christians because he has access to modern weapons like, TV, movies, videos,
sexual advertising, cable and satellite TV. 
He serves these stimulants daily in the living rooms of the average
Christian, especially those who ‘watch TV to unwind.””  That was written over twenty years ago, I wonder what Dr. Drury would
say about the Internet?
Too often when talking to people
whose marriage is in trouble they want to tell me what the other person is or
isn’t doing.  If I speak to someone who
becomes involved with someone else, by the way having an affair is just a
gussied up way of saying committing adultery, they tell me if their partner had
of done more of this and less of that then they wouldn’t have had to look for
love in all the wrong places.  And as
much as I wish I could give you a list of ways to keep your spouse from
cheating on you I can’t. 
And there isn’t anything you can
do, legally anyway, that would absolutely guarantee that your spouse will
always be faithful.  How often have you
heard of a marriage that seemed perfect and yet one or the other partner broke
their marriage vows? I’ve spoken to people whose partner cheated on them and
they’ve said “I thought everything was going great, I thought we were
happy.”  And I’ve even spoken to some
people who have cheated on their spouse who said “I don’t know why I did it,
everything was going great and we were happy and I just wasn’t thinking
straight.”
And so the title of today’s
message is “Let Go of Stupid”
Here is the bottom line: if we
are going to be faithful in our marriage it’s going to be up to us.  If you hope that today you will discover how
to keep your spouse from cheating on you, surprise.  You will never be able to control your partner’s
faithfulness, but you will always be responsible for your side of the
relationship.  How do you do that?  Good question.  The answer of course is that we work at
it.  Grab your pen, because here are
eight suggestions for affair proofing your marriage.  And I want to be upfront these aren’t’
original with Denn But come from Keith Drury.
1) Don’t Start Anything.  Sounds simple doesn’t it.  That fact of the matter is that adultery is
one of those things that starts innocently enough.  A mutual attraction to a neighbour,
co-worker, or even someone you go to church with.  You both understand each other so well.  You have so much in common with one another
and you enjoy those quiet moments you have together.
They seem more eager to listen to
you then your spouse does.  Soon there
are those special little words that are spoken softly between you.  The little pats, a gentle squeeze of your
arm, a meaningful glance, a lingering gaze, a quick hug, a short embrace, and
eventually you have been led down a path you never intended to walk.  Someone said “Every affair begins with a
smile”.
Don’t start up the ladder of
affection with anyone other than your spouse. 
Did you hear that? Don’t start up the ladder of affection with anyone
other than your spouse.  Listen to what
Solomon reminded us of three thousand years ago, Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his
clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it
is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will
not go unpunished.
Words from a man who knew what he was talking about
considering that he was the result of the adulterous affair between his father,
King David and Bathsheba.  If you are
involved at any stage of affectionate expression with anyone other than your
mate than you are playing with fire. 
Stop.  Turn around and turn
back.  I’m not saying that you can’t be
friends with members of the opposite sex, but you know what I’m saying. 
Sue Johanson who hosted a
show on WTN says: “You can’t say, ‘I didn’t know what
would happen.’ That’s a crock. You knew with the sweaty palms and sweaty pits.
You knew with the long gazes. You made the decision not to decide and you let
it just happen.”  If you are
climbing the ladder of affection, then get down, right now, don’t fool yourself
into thinking that you are in control. 
The best time to stop disobedience is today
2) Listen To Your Spouse This one is especially for
you guys.  God seems to have given women
the special ability to identify a strange woman on their turf. 

Don’t write off spousal comments as jealousy, and even if at this point it is innocent,
it may not appear that way to them, and you can stand the warning.

If your spouse questions your relationship with someone of
the opposite sex pay attention, they may notice a come on before you do. 
3) Tell On The Other Person.  If someone begins to quietly come on to
you, then fink on them.  Tell your
partner that very day, don’t wait until tomorrow to see if it happens again,
tell your spouse before you go to bed. 
Your spouse is supposed to be the most important person in your life,
let them help you deal with the problem. 
Sometimes it’s an ego problem. 
It’s been so long since anyone flirted with you, you had forgotten how
good it felt, and besides it’s not like it’s hurting anyone, and you wouldn’t
think of taking it any further.  Stop
it. 
You are in this marriage together and both of you need to
learn to protect your relationship with each other and with God.  Do it and do it fast.  Tell your spouse if you suspect anyone; don’t
play his or her game.  The quicker you
realize that you are in this together trying to protect your marriage the
better.
4) Don’t Spend Time Alone With The Opposite Sex.  Keith Drury has this to say to Pastors “He who meets
another woman alone in private hath no brains!”  Don’t place yourself into a situation where
there is temptation or where temptation can be acted on.  It’s surprising  how many martial indiscretions and outright
adultery have sprung out of relationships established on the premise of “giving
spiritual help” or “sharing our problems together” Hah!
Do you remember what Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:13 NIV
And lead us not into temptation,  but
deliver us from the evil one.’     
Only sometimes we don’t need a
whole lot of leading, do we?  We can do a
pretty good job of finding temptation all by ourselves. 

When I talk to teens and young adults about their dating
habits I often warn them to stay out of situations where they are placing
themselves into areas of greater temptation. 
Parking on lonely country roads, being home together when there is no
one else around.  There are some areas
that are danger zones not only for teens but also for adults, and we need to
recognize them and stay away from them. 
“The person who meets with someone of the opposite sex who is not their
spouse alone in private, hath no brains.”
5) Drink From Your Own Spring.  Proverbs 5:15 Drink water
from your own well— share your love only with your wife.  It has been said that the best defence
is a good offence.  Though it’s not a
guarantee, “Keeping the fires hot at home,” is a good defence against
temptation.  That has always been the
case check out what Paul wrote almost two thousand years ago, in a letter to
the church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 But
because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife,
and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his
wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife
gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority
over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations,
unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you
can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come
together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of
self-control.
The CEV says don’t refuse, the NIV translates it
don’t deprive each other and the Authorized Version tells us not to defraud
each other. 
And that’s what happens
when you provide a dry or boring spring at home.  Hey guys and girls, sex wasn’t the devil’s
idea it was God’s and sexual fulfilment in marriage is God’s plan.
But listen up; don’t allow Satan to suggest that any lack of
fulfilment in your marriage justifies a little sin to make up for it. 
It don’t, never has, never will.
On the other hand if’n you’re not providing a spring to be
drunk from at home and your spouse goes looking for a drink elsewhere, while
they aren’t justified you are not entirely without blame. 
And the spring isn’t’ just a sexual one, make sure that your
spouse wants to spend time with you. . . 
If you are negative and miserable to be around your spouse might very
well find someplace else to go.  One
Colorado psychologist’s summary of more than a decades work counselling “The
other woman” argues that the common trait that the “other woman” all share is
being a good listener.
6) Be Aware of Emotional Adultery This is one of the
first steps up the ladder of affection. 
Beware of getting emotionally attached to someone of the opposite sex
who is not your spouse.  I know that I’m
sounding a bit extreme but affairs start in mostly innocent situations.  Emotional attachments can lead to explosive
situations where temptations come crashing in with unexpected force.
Emotional relationships often develop into something more
and end up in disaster.  And even if they
don’t lead to sin, they can hinder your own marriage relationship.  If you are getting your emotional needs met
somewhere other than home than you are leaving a gap in your relationship with
your spouse.   And that includes
relationships that develop online.
Emotional attachments are explosive, they can cause someone
to fall in love with someone or they can cause you to fall for someone else
“who seems to understands me so well” or they can cause such deep emotional
bonding that you find it impossible to walk away.  If you are bonding emotionally with someone
other than your mate then walk away from it before it ruins you.
7) Get Control Of Your Thought Life.   Long before an affair happens physically
it happens mentally.  Listen to the words
of a Minister who ended up with a ruined marriage and a ruined ministry after a
one night stand “adultery isn’t something that
happens with the act — it happens months beforehand. It’s an attitude. You
disconnect yourself from the person you’ve said you’re spending the rest of
your life with.”  Those
thoughts may differ whether you’re a man or a woman.  With men they are more apt to be sexual fantasies
with a woman romantic fantasies but if they involve someone other than your
spouse they are wrong, wrong, wrong.
 
You say “But they are only thoughts” sure they are, that’s
why Conway
Twitty wrote in one song, “We’re not exactly strangers you and I, because
I’ve already loved you in my mind.” 
And why Jesus told us in Matthew 5:28 But I say,
anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with
her in his heart.  And I don’t
think it would be unfair to the scriptures to say Matthew 5:28
But I say, anyone who even looks at a man with lust has already committed
adultery with him in her heart.
If you are keeping pure actions toward someone, and have not
uttered even the slightest words of attachment, yet you are guilty of impure
thoughts, then you are perching on a precarious cliff which leads nowhere but
over the brink into deeper and deeper violations of God’s law.
Who do you think you are? 
Do you believe that you will be the first to escape God’s law?  Do you think that you can play with fantasy
fire without burning your soul?  Do you
truly believe that you can keep God’s anointing on your life even as you dwell
on thoughts of disobedience? 
I’m not talking about temptation here, you will probably
never escape that in this life.  I’m
talking about wilfully dwelling on impure thoughts, about thinking about them
on purpose, playing and replaying them over and over again in your mind like a
video.  That my friends is sin.
There is incredible power in the mind, power that can be
focused on good or on evil.  Bring your
thought life into captivity, before it brings you into captivity.  Find out what triggers those thoughts and
starve the source, it might be certain people, times, memories, places,
television shows, movies or websites. 
Jesus said in Matthew 5:29 So if your
eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It
is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be
thrown into hell.  Now we’re not
into self-mutilation, but there may be some areas of your life that need to be
poked out, for your own protection and the protection of your marriage.
8) Recognize That You Will Get Caught.  This is the bottom line people, you will
get caught.  Are you involved in a
suspicious relationship right now?  Maybe
nobody knows about it.  It’s a
secret.  You may think you are getting
away with it.  Satan is telling you that
you will never get caught.  You believe
that you are the exception and you are wrong. 
You will get caught.  Satan is a
liar, and the word of God is the ultimate truth and it says in the Bible, the
word of God in the book of Numbers 32:23. . . and you may be sure
that your sin will find you out. 
Sinners have always believed that they could get away with
sin.  From day one they believe
that.  Adam and Eve believed it and they
got caught.  Cain thought he got away
with murder and he got caught.  Rebecca
and Jacob thought they had deceived everyone but they got caught.  Joseph’s brothers thought they had committed
the perfect crime, but they got caught. 
Moses thought he’d buried his sin in the sand, but he got caught.  Achan got caught, Saul got caught, David got
caught, Jonah got caught, Anianas and Sapphira got caught, Jimmy Swaggart got
caught, Gary Hart got caught and so did Bill Clinton, a couple of times.  Well you know what Billy Sunday said, “Sin can be forgiven, but stupid is forever.”  It’s simple, sinners get caught.
Do you really think that you can get away with a little
sin?  What makes you think that you will
do what others haven’t?  Do you think you
can break God’s universal laws of life and get away with it? Do you think that
you will be the first person who gets away with sin?  Friend you will be like every other sinner
throughout history, you will get caught.

How?  I don’t know,
maybe the other person will get a case of the guilts and confess, it’s happened
before.  Or maybe someone else will
tell.  You think that nobody knows?  When you are sinning Satan tricks you into
believing that you are invisible, you’re not. 
Someone will see you.  Or maybe
the burden of guilt will get so great that you will confess.  You may even get away with it for a while.  If you do, than you will get more and more
bold in your sin, and that in itself will make the sin so obvious that you will
eventually cause yourself to get caught.
The devil promises you all the kingdoms of the world, if you
will simply bow down and worship at his altar of impure desires.  But you can’t have it all.  God says that your sin will find you out and
you will have to pay the price, and God is the truth.
You cannot make your spouse be faithful, but you and only
you are responsible for how faithful you are going to be in your marriage.

As serious as physical adultery is, and it is serious, there
is a game that is even more dangerous than that.  There may not be anyone here today who is
cheating on their spouse, but I’m sure there are those here today who are
cheating on God.  Yep, the bible talks
about us being unfaithful to God.  As a
matter of fact there is an entire book of the Bible which compares those who
aren’t in step with God to a cheating spouse. 
Maybe you know that you have wandered away from God, you maybe you’ve
never made the commitment in the first place. 
But there is only one who can make it and only one who can keep it and
that is you.  God has already made it
clear that he is going to be faithful in the book of Hebrews 13:5 it says: God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon
you.”

They will know you by. . .


If it was attention that he wanted he certainly got it.  If you’ve been following the news lately, you have probably heard the name Franck Gervais.  He was the man who showed up at the Remembrance Day service in Ottawa in full military regalia claiming to be a retired member of an elite unit in the Canadian Forces. 

And everything would have probably been fine if he hadn’t allowed himself to be interviewed by a television news crew.  That’s when the wheels came off the wagon, so to speak.  It wasn’t long after the interview that people started challenging the veracity of Gervais’ claims.  He was wearing his medals wrong, he was wearing the wrong beret, and his beard wasn’t regulation.  Then the Department of National Defence went on record as saying there was no record of a Canadian Soldier named Franck Gervais.  Oops. 

We will never know what motivated this man asthere was no financial gain, he didn’t seek out the interview, perhaps in his mind he was exactly who he claimed to be.

Jesus said that there would be those who would claim to follow him who would be imposters, and it wouldn’t be what the imposters wore that gave them away, instead it would be how they lived and how they loved.
 
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Let Go of Untruths

(Begins with clip from Frozen where Hans tell the Leaders that Elsa has killed Ana)
A couple of weeks we
got a glimpse into Han’s character when we watched him reveal his duplicity to
Ana, his fiancé.  It appears that he
wooed her simply to become Prince and then kill the queen to assume the throne of
Arendelle.  And I asked the question
“What isn’t this man capable of?”  And
now we know.  Now he takes his bad
behaviour to a whole new level and the lies he tells culminate in a death
sentence for the queen.   And we know that what he did was wrong, we
know that because he is a liar that he can’t be trusted and should be
punished. 
One of the things we teach our
children is to not lie.  When God set
down his law in the 10 Commandments which forbid things that would tear society
apart he commanded us to not break our marriage vows, not to kill people and
not to take things that don’t belong to us. 
And we understand those things. 
We don’t have to look very far
into our society to see what happens when people fail to heed those
commandments. The prophet Hosea made this statement about the actions of Israel
almost three thousand years ago that seems to apply to our society today,  Hosea 8:7 NKJV
“They sow the wind, And reap the
whirlwind.”   But that is a
message for another day. 
And while we see the
dangers of people cheating on their spouses, killing people and stealing, lying
seems so petty in comparison.  After all,
to quote the infamous Dr. House “Everybody lies”.  And it was Will
Rogers who said ‘The income tax has made liars
out of more Americans than golf.”
But if we go back to the
scripture that was read earlier we read the words of Jesus in regards to lying
when he said Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus said “You have also heard that
our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the
vows you make to the LORD.’ But I say, do not make any vows! . . . Just say a
simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’”
What is Jesus saying?  He is telling us that his followers should be
people of integrity.  The concept of vows
go clear back to the Old Testament, Deuteronomy
23:21
“When you make a vow to the LORD your
God, be prompt in fulfilling whatever you promised him. For the LORD your God
demands that you promptly fulfill all your vows, or you will be guilty of sin.
The Jewish teachers
had always insisted on the paramount importance of a person’s word. It is in
the Talmud, the collected wisdom of the Rabbis that we read “One who gives his word and changes it is as bad as an
idolater” 
As a matter of fact
the Rabbinical school of Shammai even forbade normal polite courtesies, like
complimenting a bride on her looks when she was in fact plain.  And so to allow people that courtesy the
Rabbis decreed that “All brides are beautiful on their
wedding day.”
Two things brought vow
swearing to a head during the time of Christ, the first was making vows about frivolous
things, and we do that today don’t we, “Honest, I
swear, that truck almost hit me”  The
second problem was even worse and that was evasive swearing.  People had decided that some vows were
binding and others weren’t.  So if you
made an vow on God’s name it was binding, but if you swore by heaven, or earth
or Jerusalem then it was less binding. 
The thought being that if God’s name was used then he became a partner
with you in the statement. 
Just a little pet
peeve here, I think that some people, believers included, use the name of God
much too lightly and I don’t just mean cussing. 
But I mean when we use God as an exclamation in mark our conversation.  Keep it simple, the only time you should use
the word God is when you are talking about Him or to Him.  By the way that was free.
Have you ever sat
down and listened to someone seriously trying to explain the difference between
lies, white lies and fibbing?  When I
first went to Bible College, as a new believer, I had that conversation with
someone who had grown up in the church and they told me “No really, a fib isn’t
really lying, it’s more like a white lie.”  
Jesus recognized
that an unredeemed society needed to have something to govern them other than
their innate honesty.  Order cannot be
maintained without some kind of legal machinery to insure that promises would
be kept.
Christ didn’t come
to destroy or change law for society, instead he came to fulfil it through the
Christian.  Not only should the Christian
always keep their word they shouldn’t have to swear an vow to make sure they
keep it.  The thought shouldn’t be going
through their minds, “Did I actually promise to do that? Or did I just say I
would?”  It doesn’t matter if you
promised or not if you said you would do it then you need to do it.  Christ told us in Matthew 5:37
Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is
from the evil one. Does that mean that Christians are never to take
oaths?  If that was the case then how do
we explain Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:23 Now I
call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. and again in Galatians 1:20 I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a
lie.
There are times that
you will have to take an oath, if you are on a witness stand in a court of law
you swear to tell the truth, if you join the armed forces or a police
department you swear to serve.  I realize
that sometimes they will let you get away with saying I affirm instead of
swear, but really isn’t that just semantics?
Christ explains in the last
part of Matthew 5:37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything
beyond this is from the evil one.
Very simply if it is necessary to take an oath then it is
because of the evil in mankind.  If there
was no evil then there would be no lies and no need to take an oath.  We are warned in the
Talmud, “This is the punishment of a liar:
he is not believed, even when he speaks the truth.”  And so when the world believes the
words of Dr. House, then there needs to be a way to assure truth.  And so vows were put into place to assure the
truth in an untruthful world. 
So, if it is necessary to take a vow it is not a reflection
on you but on this evil world. 
Christ is saying however that those who know you should know
that you word is always good.  Is
it?  Remember that your actions, the way
you live your life, should not only be salt to preserve society but also needs
to be a light to point people to Christ.
But we aren’t just here to fulfil the law; we are here to
top it up, to go beyond what is required for society.  And so it shouldn’t just be expected that a
Christ follower will not lie when they make a vow but that a Christ follower
won’t lie, period.  And so those who
follow Jesus must be known for their integrity and for being a person of their
word.
Listen to what else the bible says concerning lying:  Proverbs 6:16-19 There are
six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying
tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race
to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a
family.
Here is a list of “Top 10
Liars’ Lies”: 10. We’ll stay only five minutes.
9. This will be a short meeting. 8. I’ll respect you in the morning. 7. The cheque
is in the mail. 6. I’m from the government, and I’m here to help. 5.
This hurts me more than it hurts you. 4. Your money will be cheerfully
refunded. 3. We service what we sell. 2. Your table will be ready in just a
minute. 1. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
But apparently the thought that
everyone lies doesn’t make it right.  .
So the first question is Where Do Lies
Come From?
  The original plan didn’t
include lying, humanity was created to be in fellowship with God. And it was a
lie that separated man from God.  The
first lie didn’t come from God or even man it came from Satan.
Jesus was explaining our
natural state when he told the crowd in John 8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you
love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He
has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it
is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
And that goes back to the very beginning, we talked about
this before, when God created man and woman and he told them “You can do
anything you want you just can’t eat from that tree over there” and that set
down the concept of free choice.  That
allowed humanity the ability to choose to do what is right or to do what is
wrong. 
And into the story comes Satan
who begins his conversation with the first woman with a lie.  He asked Eve, Genesis
3:1
. . .One day he asked the woman, “Did
God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the
garden?”   You see what he
did?  He took what was a gift, free will,
and turned it into something burdensome. 
From the one tree he expands it to all the trees of the garden.  And Eve responds with a half truth Genesis 3:2-3 “Of course
we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only
the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to
eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will
die.’”   The original command
didn’t say anything about touching the tree.
And then Satan adds to the lies
saying Genesis 3:4-5 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows
that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God,
knowing both good and evil.”
And you know the rest of the
story, “Fruit salad for lunch.” 
And lies still come from the Father of Lies. 
Most people know that lying is wrong, regardless of what
else they believe most people understand that it is not right to lie.  So why, Why Do People Lie?
There are actually several reasons why people lie: To
Impress People
That would never happen would it?  But that’s what it is when we drop names, you
know imply that we know someone important when we are just barely acquainted
with them.  Pastors do it when they
stretch their statistics, like when people ask how many people attend Cornerstone
and I say oh between five and six hundred, after all 300 is between 5 and 600.  You do it when you make your job out to be
more then what it really is, and so the “Garbage Man” becomes a “Sanitation Engineer.”
or when you kind of move your kids marks up when you’re bragging on them. “My
Kid’s on the honour roll.”  Sure if the
honour roll starts at 53. 
Someone said that the closest any of us will come to
perfection is on our resumes.  A
government study in the States came to the conclusion that 1 in 3 working
Americans is hired with educational or career credentials that were altered in
some way, that means lying they lied on their resumes. 
I read a story a while back that in
1993 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ran a help-wanted ad for
electricians with expertise at using Sontag connectors; it got 170 responses
even though there is no such thing as a Sontag connector. The Authority ran the
ad to find out how many applicants falsify resumes.
To Please People When you agree with strong
personality people, even though you don’t agree with them. You’re lying.  Ever happen to you? You just go along with it
and then afterwards you’re thinking “I don’t know why I did that, I don’t
believe it.”  Sometimes we do that by our
silence, instead of stepping up and saying no that’s wrong, and especially when
it concerns someone else.  You know where
I’m going here, someone slanders someone but to keep the peace you don’t step
to the other persons defence.  Robert Louis Stevenson   “The cruelest lies are often told in
silence. A man may have sat in a room for hours and not opened his mouth, and
yet come out of that room a disloyal friend.”


For Revenge 
Someone has done something to you and so you tell a lie about them, or
you spread a story that you know is untrue. 
Just to get back at them.  Why do
you think Jesus was murdered?  The Religious
leaders of the day felt threatened by him and so they had him charged falsely
with blasphemy and treason.  They lied
about him.

To Make A Profit  This one is a Two’fer kind of a two for one deal,
when you misrepresent something to sell it you’re not only lying you’re also
stealing.  Ever have someone offer to
give you a receipt for less then you paid for a car to reduce the tax you’d pay
on it?  Ever have someone offer to give
you a larger receipt for something so you can claim it on your expense
account.  Two commandments for the price
of one. Lying and stealing.

To Escape Punishment “I didn’t know I was speeding
officer, my speedometer must be broken.” 
“I didn’t know this was a no parking zone.”  “My assignment’s not done because the dog ate
it, or more up to date the computer ate it.” 
“I wasn’t in class yesterday because I was sick.”  Love the story about
the four college guys who were on their way to an exam but it was a gorgeous
day so they kind of got waylaid and so at the next class they told the teacher
they tried to make it but had a flat tire. 
The teacher seemed to accept that and said they could rewrite the
test.  He put one in each corner of the
room with a copy of the test, and said “now to start there is an extra
question, without speaking to the others or looking around, what tire was it?”
For Convenience You write a sick note for your kid at
school, they’re not sick but it’s easier than trying to explain. You have your
secretary tell callers you’re not in when what you mean is you don’t want to be
disturbed, you call in sick to work, but you’re still well enough to go
shopping, or play a round of golf. What about when you say you’ll serve on a
committee, go to a meeting or attend a party when you have no intention of
doing it but it’s easier to say yes and not show up then to try to think up an
excuse.  (video on lying)
It was Walter Scott who
wrote: “O, what a tangled web we weave, When first we
practice to deceive!” more to the point might be the addition made by
J.R. Pope who wrote “But when we’ve practiced quite a
while, How vastly we improve our style.”
You see lying can become a pattern that is very hard to
break.   Lying has two cousins as well, one is
distortion the other is exaggeration. 
It’s easy to distort the truth. 
It’s often done in character assassination, how simple it is to subtly
let something slip like, When someone says “Boy her career has really taken
off” all you have to say is “Yeah, but how do you think she got where she is?”
don’t have to say anything else.
And then there are those who boast or stretch the truth like
a contorted piece of Silly Putty that’s called exaggeration, you ever see the
bumper sticker that says “The older I get the better I
was”?  When we aren’t speaking the
truth then we are speaking a lie, or as one Yiddish proverb says, “A half truth is a whole lie” Sometimes it’s not even
intentional, it was said of one person, “He doesn’t
exaggerate, he just remembers big.” It’s still lying.
So What Is the Cost
of Lying? 
Well first of all it
colours people’s perception of the person who lies.  If we go back to the Talmud we are told “This is the punishment of a liar: he is not believed, even
when he speaks the truth.”
Which is what Friedrich Nietzsche meant when he wrote “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now
on I can’t believe you.”
But it goes deeper
than that, because not only is the liar no longer believed but because he knows
he’s a liar he presumes everyone else is and that colours how he sees the world.  Like Dr. House he presumes that everyone
lies. 
But to not be
believed and to have our world view distorted is only temporal.  There are eternal consequences as well, remember earlier we read from Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the
innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness
who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
Not only does God not like liars but listen to the end
result of people who constantly lie, Revelation 21:8 “But cowards, unbelievers,
the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol
worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is the second death.” If it’s true that
we are known by the company we keep, then liars are aren’t very well thought of
in the scriptures.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a buzzer in our soul?  You know so when you lied you got a little
jolt.  Actually if you’re a Christian,
you have that buzzer it’s called the Holy Spirit, and you’ve felt that
jolt.  And when it happens you have one
of two choices, you can catch yourself, and correct yourself or you can let it
go.  And if you let it go, then that’s
called sin.
And you cannot continue in sin and maintain a healthy
relationship with God. In John 8:32  Jesus said And
you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  The converse is true as well, if it’s
the truth that sets you free, you will be enslaved by lies.  God’s very being and nature was and is
truth.  To substitute a lie for the truth
is like embracing a false god at that point in time. 
So, today, will you choose to let go of untruth and embrace
the truth that will set you free?

Lest We Forget. . .



So what did you do on Tuesday?  It was a beautiful day and for most of us a holiday, and I would suspect that a lot of yard work got done.  But the reason we were given a day off was not to rake leaves as appealing as that may seem. 
Tuesday of course was Remembrance Day and for many it was an opportunity to collect at a cenotaph and to give an hour of our day to demonstrate our thanks and remembrance to those whose sacrifice made Canada what Canada is. 
And I know that we don’t have to gather together to remember and be thankful, that we can remember as we rake leaves, or go for a drive or sleep in, but do we? And is an hour a lot to ask?  The old men and women who were once young gave up so much more than one hour on one day for the freedom we take for granted. 
For most of us being born a Canadian was simply an accident of birth.  But the country we were born into wasn’t an accident.  It is what it is today because of sacrifices made years ago.  To quote Churchill “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” 

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Let Go of Unbelief

 (begin with video
clip from Frozen Elsa and Ana in the palace discussing it becoming like it was,
ends with Ana being struck.)
You ever find it difficult to believe?  In the clip that we just watched Ana is
trying to convince her sister the queen that everything will be all right and
they can return to what was.  She sees
the future for what it could be and perhaps what it should be, her sister on
the other hand just can’t believe that things can ever be right again.  There are times that you see that Elisa wants
to believe but there is just something in the way.
In the story that was read earlier we read of a different
type of unbelief.  This story happens
right after Jesus returns from what is often referred to as the Mount of
Transfiguration along with Peter, James and John and they discover the other
apostles in a fairly heated dispute with a crowd that has gathered.  It seems that one of the men had brought his
child to the disciples to be healed, because he heard that’s what Christ
followers did.  Specifically according to
the boy’s father the child had been under the influence of an evil spirit since
his birth.  Not sure what we would call
it today but that’s what they called it two thousand years ago, sound a little
bit like epilepsy.     Whatever or whoever was causing the young
man’s problems the disciples were unable to heal him.    
And the family was disappointed and the religious leaders
seemed a little testy.  And it is here
that Jesus steps back into the story and asks what’s going on.  And it is from the boy’s father that we get
the narrative. 
And it is from his account that we get the details.  His son had been like this from birth, and so
he brought the boy for Jesus to heal and when he discovers that Jesus wasn’t
with the group he asks the remaining disciples to perform a miracle for him,
but apparently they weren’t up to the task. 
It’s interesting that man doesn’t say that he came looking
for a heavenly miracle, a touch of the divine. 
He wasn’t looking for a touch from God, he just saw Jesus as someone who
could fix his son.  And when Jesus wasn’t
there he went to the B team and asked that they heal his son. 
I think the most telling part
of the story was when he gets done bringing Jesus up to speed he says Mark 9:22 “. . .Have mercy on us and help us, if you
can.”   How often do we pray that
way, even if we don’t verbalize it?  God
help me, if you can.  God heal me, if you
can.  God forgive me, if you can.
And Jesus looks at him and says “Let
Go of Your Unbelief”. 
Well not in so
many words but close.  What he says is Mark 9:23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus
asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Through the years one of my
lines has been “Faith will never ask more than that you believe.”  And while most of the world will tell you
that they won’t believe it unless they can see it Jesus reminds us that we won’t
see it unless we can believe it.
And the father responds with
this awesome statement of complete honesty. 
Mark 9:24 The father instantly cried out, “I do
believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
How often have you felt like that father?  You know, your prayer is “I believe, help my
unbelief.”  We say we believe but deep in
our hearts we aren’t entirely sure that we do. 
This morning I would challenge you to “Let Go of Your Unbelief”.  And
in letting go of our unbelief there are things that we will by default have to
believe in.
We Must Believe in God The rest of the message hinges on this
one.  It there is no God there is no
reason to believe.  And we are given the
very essence of belief in Hebrews 11:6 And it is impossible to please God
without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and
that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. And what is faith?  Well that same chapter in the bible begins
with a definition of faith, Hebrews
11:1
Faith is the confidence that what we hope
for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.   I can’t make you believe in God.  If you don’t see God in the wonder of
creation you won’t see God in my messages or my arguments.  (barber video)
And for some folks that is
enough, to believe in God.  But there are
more things that we need to believe in.
We Must Believe in
Ourselves
We all believe something about ourselves, I would challenge you
to believe the very best.  I was telling
a story to a group of folks the other day, because that’s what I do I’m a story
teller.  In this case I was talking about
how different words mean different things to different people and in some cases
to different cultures. 

When we first moved to Australia our son, Stephen, was in grade 1, now he’s
thirty.  He hadn’t been in school very
long when he arrived home one day and told us that the teacher called him
stupid.  Stupid, there are many words
that you could use to describe Stephen, stupid isn’t one of them.  So being good parents with a sense of outrage
we made an appointment and confronted the teacher.  And she told us that she didn’t call Stephen
stupid, she told him to stop acting stupid. Which seemed to me to be the same
thing.  It was only after some more back
and forth that we discovered that in that context in Australia that to act
stupid meant to act silly.  Wow, did we
feel stupid. 

One of the folks I told the story to said that she is always
after her mother to stop calling herself stupid.   Do you do that?  I’m so stupid, I’m so clumsy, I’m so awkward.
I’ll never be able to do this, I will never be more than. . .  
Here are a couple of quotes to chew on Claude M. Bristol said “Every
person is the creation of himself, the image of his own thinking and believing.
As individuals think and believe, so they are.” 
And to add to that are the words of Dr.
Robert Anthony who wrote “If you don’t
change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?” 
In War and Peach Leo Tolstoy wrote “We lost because we told ourselves we lost.”  How often do we lose the battle before
we even begin to fight it?
David wrote in Psalm 139:14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully
complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.   Can you echo that?  Do you believe in yourself? 
God believes in you.  He believed in you enough that he created you
the way you are. He believes in you enough that he made the ultimate sacrifice
for you.  Remember John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he
gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish
but have eternal life.   I mean we
believe that in the big sense, for God loved the world so much but do we
believe it in the personal sense, for God loved me so much.  Let’s try that John
3:16
“For God loved me so much that he gave
his one and only Son, so that when I believe in him I will not perish but have
eternal life.”
Let’s go back to David’s words
in Psalm 139:17-18 How precious are your thoughts about me,
O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the
grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
I understand that we don’t always win, that life can be hard and
sometimes we blow it. 
But in life, when you fail is your default “I knew I couldn’t do
that”?  Or are you surprised?  I don’t think I have an unhealthy ego, but
maybe that’s because I’m delusional as well as egotistical.  But I really think I can do anything, if I
try hard enough.  And when I can’t I’m
surprised.  “Wow, I really thought I
could do that, who would have thought brain surgery could be so hard?”
Do you believe in yourself?  Because
nobody else will if you don’t.  Wayne Dyer wrote “You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being
— not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you
make a lot of money — but because you decide to believe it and for no other
reason.”
So not only do you need to believe in yourself you need to believe the
very best about yourself.  I think it was
in the 2006 Winter Olympics that I heard a Canadian athlete say “I don’t really
expect to win a medal but if I can place eleventh or twelfth I’ll be
happy”  I wonder what she placed?
Along with believing in ourselves We Must Believe in Others What do we believe about people?  Are we happy to believe the worst? Or do we
consciously seek to believe the best? Are we surprised when people do good
things or are we surprised when people do bad things? 
Throughout the gospels it seemed that Jesus always assumed
that people would do the right thing and make the right decision.  Do you believe in our kids?  Do you believe in our spouse?  In your friends?  Those are easy, do you believe in your
government? 
For those close to you, your belief might be what they need
to fulfil their potential.  I don’t mean
the mamby pamby, “you can do anything you set your mind to belief”. 
Because that’s not always reality.  When you tell the kid who is getting a c in
math and wants to be a theoretical physicist or an astronaut that they can be
whatever they want to be, you may be setting them up for disappointment. 
But if you affirm their talents and abilities and tell them
how much you believe in them and that you believe they will do the right thing
in life then you are doing for them what God does for you.
Sometimes those we love simply fulfill how we see them, “You
will never amount to anything, you’re rude, you’re lazy, you’re stupid.” 
It was Goethe
who said “Treat a man as he is, he will remain so.
Treat a man the way he can be and ought to be, and he will become as he can be
and should be.”
Jesus summed it up when he told
his followers in Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would like them to do
to you.
And We Must Believe
God 
Now maybe you are thinking “Denn
You already covered this in your first point.” 
Nope, the first point was that “We
must Believe in God”,
this point is that “We Must Believe God.”  Big
difference.  I would suspect that most
people here today believe in God.  But do
you believe the promises of God?  Do you
believe that not only that God can do what is good but that what God does do is
good?
Do you trust him with your family, your finances and your
future? If we go back to the story the boy’s father said he believed, but even
he acknowledged that he was struggling with it.   Remember what he told Jesus “I do believe, but help me overcome my
unbelief”. 

We say we pray in faith but we really aren’t surprised when our prayer
isn’t answered.  But is that praying in
faith?  And by the way praying as Jesus
taught us that God’s will be done is not a cop out.  If we truly believe that God wants the very
best for us and for those we love we would have no problem praying “But your
will be done.”
Sometimes we are fervent as we pray that a loved one will
live, but would that really be the best? 
If they lived another 10 years as a pain filled invalid?  Is that really what you want?  
Can you believe enough in the
goodness and wisdom of God that you can pray as Jesus did in the Garden before
he was arrested, Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, please take
this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Now let’s take a few minutes and look at The Cost of our Unbelief  In the case of the Elsa her unbelief
meant that we had to watch another half an hour of the movie.  The fact that she refused to believe that she
could make a difference almost killed her sister and destroyed the Kingdom of Arendelle. 
If you don’t Believe
in Yourself
you will never be all you could be.  Who knows what could have been done if only
the person with the ability had of believed in themselves instead of convincing
themselves that they couldn’t do it.
If you don’t Believe in
Others
you will go through life becoming more and more bitter and
cynical.  Even when someone does
something good you’ll doubt their motives.
But when we don’t Believe
in God
, the consequences can be eternal, and when we don’t Believe God then we will miss out on
his very best for our lives.
In the story that we started with the unbelief of the
apostles and the boy’s father meant that the boy wasn’t healed. 
A bit of a tangent here, the boy’s own faith was never
questioned.  I believe that God can heal
people and I believe that God does heal people, but I also believe that God
doesn’t always heal people.  And if you
have problems with that we can chat. 
When I first began pastoring churches held special meetings.  Usually in the fall and spring they would
bring in a speaker and maybe a singer and they would have services every
evening for a week. 
For our fall special meetings in 1989 at Truro Wesleyan our speaker
was a man some of you know named Ollie Kent. 
Ollie was a Wesleyan pastor who had been in a horrific car accident, and
people across the district began to pray.  And after the accident they said he wouldn’t
live, and he did.  And then they said
he’d never wake up, and he did.  And then
they said he would never recover mentally, and he did.  And then they said he would never walk, and
he did. 
And a year a half after the accident he was the speaker at
our fall “Special meetings”.  It was
truly a story of what God could do if we only believed. 
Our special music for those meetings was a man in his
twenties named Rod Lewis.  And Rod had
always been in a wheelchair.  It was a
sad story, his mother had gone into labour and was rushed to a small hospital
and a doctor was called to perform an emergency C section.  But the doctor made a mistake and nicked
Rod’s spinal cord with the scalpel and he was left paralyzed. 
And Rod’s parents were devote followers of Christ, and Rod
grew up to be a Christ Follower, but he remained in his wheelchair.  And he said that through the years he had
been prayed over countless times, and after he wasn’t healed in many cases
those praying would decide that Rod just didn’t have enough faith.  Seriously? If Rod wasn’t healed because of a
lack of faith, I would suspect it lay with those who were praying for him and
not with Rod.
And sometimes there are even larger ramifications to our
unbelief.
There is a story in the Old
Testament that you may be familiar with. 
God had promised to make Abraham the father of a great nation, and yet
Abraham and, his wife, Sarah couldn’t seem to have a child.  They were told they would, but Sarah didn’t
believe it would happen, as a matter of fact she cracked up when she heard the
prediction.
And who could blame her, she was old and they had never been
able to have a child.  So Sarah decided
to take matters into her own hands and set her husband up with her maid, a gal
named Hagar, who became pregnant with a son. 
The boy’s name was Ishmael, and this is what the Bible predicted about
Ishmael Genesis 16:12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild
donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against
him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”


Later Sarah and Abraham had a son named Isaac who would
eventually have a son named Jacob who would eventually be called Israel. And
the descendants of Israel are the people we call the Jews.  We know that. 
It was from Jacob’s descendants that a young lady named Mary was born,
who would go on to be the mother of Jesus. 
That was the promise made to Sarah and Abraham. 
The promise she didn’t believe.  And you are thinking so what?    Remember Ishmael?  Well his descendants lived in that same area
and more than 2,500 years after his birth a descendent of Ishmael’s was born,
and his parents named him Mohammed, and almost 1,500 years after that another
descendent of Ishmael’s was born and his name was Osama Bin Laden and the rest
as they say is history.  How would the
history of the Middle East be different if 4,000 years ago Sarah had of simply
believed the promise of God?
How could your life be different if you Believed in God,
Believed in Yourself, Believed in Others and Believed God?
And here is a great promise that I want to leave you with,
from the Pen of John the friend of Jesus, 1
John 5:13
I have written this to you who believe in
the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

Yuck or Maybe Not


Tuesday was garbage day in our subdivision and as I drove to work I noticed how unsightly it was. There were green bags, blue bags, household rubbish and a toilet at the ends of the driveways lining Kingswood Drive.  

Most garbage days I don’t really notice how nasty it looks, it’s become normal.  But it didn’t always seem normal.  When we first returned from Australia I was aghast on garbage day. It wasn’t that we didn’t have garbage in Australia, we just handled it better.  Every house had two “Wheelie Bins”. The big one was for trash and the little one was for recyclables.  If you had anything else to dispose of you didn’t leave it by the side of the road but you took it to the “tip” where you put in a designated container.  Everything was tidy. And then we came back to Canada and on the first trash day the streets of our normally pristine neighbourhood were lined with garbage bags and trash.  It just wasn’t right.  But eventually it became normal and it no longer bothered me, I just didn’t see it. 

How often does that happen in our lives?  What we used to be aghast at now seems normal or at least we don’t notice it.  And that’s wrong.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Let Go of Sin

(Clip from Frozen when Hans tells Ana he doesn’t love her)  
Wow, that wasn’t where I thought that would go.  Didn’t see that coming, through the movie
Hans has been the dashing hero, wooing Princess Ana and exhibiting heartfelt
concern for the Kingdom and people of Arendelle and now he is revealed as a
cad.  What isn’t the man capable of?
Today we would diagnose him as having antisocial tendencies,
or perhaps it would be suggested that the fact that he was the youngest of 13
had left him with feelings of inadequacies . 
Even if folks agreed that what Hans did was wrong they would suggest
that it wasn’t his fault.   Maybe that was how he was brought up, or
perhaps simply the way he was wired. 
Either nature or nurture, it was beyond his control. 
Kind of summed up by American poet Phyllis McGinley who
wrote   ‘Sin has
always been an ugly word, but it has been made so in a new sense over the last
half-century. It has been made not only ugly but passe. People are no longer
sinful, they are only immature or underprivileged or frightened or, more
particularly, sick.”  Same thing
was said by Bill Maher in a more simplified
way when he said “Everything that used to be a sin, is now a
disease.”
How
does sin affect us, how does sin control us? 
What makes us sin? And what is the result of our sin? 
Let’s
look at sin.  The passage that was read
earlier is one of the best known references to sin and it’s found in the book
of Romans.  So as we look at Sin the very
first question has to be:  What Is Sin?    Good
question, let’s start by going out on the street and seeing if we can find an
answer.  Video what is sin
Collins dictionary defines
sin as “the
breaking of religious or moral law, especially through a wilful act.” 
And
sin was defined by John Wesley as “A willful transgression
against a known law of God.”
The
word used throughout the New Testament for sin literally means “to miss the mark.”  that is certainly testified to in Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious
standard.
Now
I am sure that we could enter into all kinds of legal definitions of sin at
this point, is this sin, how about this. 
And if we do that we end up like the preacher who declared that there
were 748 sins and after the sermon people were lined up to get a copy of the
list, just to make sure they hadn’t missed any. 
In its simplest definition sin is disappointing God through our
disobedience.  That’s sin.
The
second question then has to be:  Why Do We Sin? 
and that is a good question why do people sin?  Well the most elementary answer is “because”.  You see we sin because that is the nature of
the beast.  Adam was created in the
perfect image of God, but when he chose to sin in Genesis 3 that image became
distorted, not destroyed simply distorted. 
When
I was in college a friend of mine accidentally knocked a photograph of my
sister onto the floor.  In the fall the
glass broke, and while the image of Dianne was still there it was distorted
because of the cracks in the glass.  The
same thing happened at the dawn of time when the first man and first woman
chose to wilfully disobey God’s commandment the perfect image was distorted not
destroyed just distorted.  The legacy
that Adam and Eve have left us with is  the legacy of sin.
I’ve
mentioned it several times but it bears repeating, nowhere is original sin more
clearly defined then in children.  Have
you noticed that you don’t have to teach children how to say no, won’t, don’t
and other negative words, but you have to teach them how to say please, thank
you and you’re welcome.  Never had to
teach a kid how to throw a tantrum, how to cry how to rebel.  But kids have to be taught how to be polite,
and pleasant, how to obey.
It
was through Adam and eve that sin entered the world and it became their gift to
us, along with the punishment for disobeying God’s will Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through
Christ Jesus our Lord.
When
Paul gives us a list of specific moral sins in Galatians 5 he begins by saying
these are the acts of the sinful nature. 
The human nature.  But he tells us
that they should not be the actions of someone who is a child of God because he
says quite plainly in Galatians 5:19-21 When you
follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual
immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility,
quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,
envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you
again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit
the Kingdom of God.
We sin because it’s in our nature, a dog is not a dog
because he barks, he barks because he’s a dog. 
We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.
Well
then the third question is: if we sin because we have to sin How Do We Not Sin? very frankly it’s
impossible.  You do not have the power to
not sin.  If you are a people and most of
you look like you are a people then for the very reasons that we mentioned
above you cannot not sin.  Even when we
try our hardest to please God, and do all the good things that we could
possibly do we are still missing the mark
Well
preacher that is really depressing, first you tell us that we are all sinners
then you tell us that because we are all sinners we are all gonna die, and then
you tell us that there isn’t a thing that we can do about it, thanks bunches
you made my day.  Even though it’s true
that there is absolutely no way that you cannot sin, don’t forget that if you
have been born again there is a difference, or at least there ought to be, Paul
tells us in Romans
7:5-6
When we were controlled by our old
nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil
desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we
have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to
its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of
the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.
 Paul talks about our sinful nature in the past
tense, something that used to be but isn’t now. He backs this up in Romans
8:4  when he says that we no longer
follow our sinful nature but instead follow the spirit.  He is telling us to “Let Go of Sin”

You see what we once were and what we are now should be two
different creatures completely, 2 Corinthians 5:17 This
means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life
is gone; a new life has begun!  Does
that describe you, has the old gone has the new come?  Christ tells us in Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you
will be devoted to one and despise the other. . .

You
cannot serve both God and your sinful nature, either you will hate the one and
love the other or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  Romans 8:8 That’s why
those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please
God.
But
How Do We Conquer The Sinful Nature?
 
How do We get on top of it?  Job
asked that very question in Job 34:31-32 “Why don’t
people say to God, ‘I have sinned, but I will sin no more’? Or ‘I don’t know
what evil I have done—tell me. If I have done wrong, I will stop at once’?    
The answer of course in found in Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions
and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
That
statement concerning crucifying the sinful nature indicates an act of the
will.  The main reason why Christians don’t
crucify the sinful nature is that they don’t want to.  They enjoy the sin they are dabbling in.  We hate to admit it but it’s the truth we sin
because we want to sin.
It
goes back to “We do what we want to do”. 
 Profound isn’t it?  You do what you want to do.  “Preacher you don’t really believe that do
you?”  sure do. 

That philosophy fits right into the reality of Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me
strength.

You
see what we can’t do on our own, we can do through Christ.  What you can’t do on you own Christ can give
you the power to do.  And that is in all
areas of your life.  But the decision to
obedience to God is a conscious decision. 
It’s something that you decide to do.
There
are times that we fall, but they tell us that the difference between a pig and
a sheep, and I wouldn’t know haven’t never owned a sheep or a pig.  However they tell us that the difference
between a sheep and a pig is that if a pig falls into mud, he gets right into
it, wallows and plays and stays in the mud. 
However if a sheep should fall into mud they immediately get out.  How do we react to sin? If we slip do we get
right out or do we play around in it?  


Thomas Fuller  wrote  “He that falls into sin is a man; who grieves
at it, is a saint; who boasteth of it, is a devil.”
Falling
into sin isn’t fatal, staying in sin is. 
A lady asked an old fisherman who was standing on a wharf, “If you fell
in the water here would you drown?”  “Nope”
he said “Falling in the water never drown anybody, it’s the staying under that
does the drowning.”  falling isn’t fatal
but staying down is. 
Let’s
go back to  Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the
results are very clear:  And
then he goes on to list the acts of the sinful nature and he finishes by say  Let me tell you again, as I
have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom
of God.
Paul
is being very straight forward, if we live in a sinful manner, that is
continuing to sin, if we stay under, we will not inherit the kingdom of
God.  No ifs, no ands, and no buts.    And what 
it comes right down to your choice, not mine, not your parents not your
spouses, nobodies choice but yours and yours alone.  You will choose to serve God, or you will
choose to serve your sinful nature.  But
make no mistake about it, it will be your choice. 
Back
in the eighties an author by the name of Frank Perriti wrote a couple of novels
entitled “This Present Darkness”  and “Piercing
the Darkness”.  And they ascribed all
kinds of power to demons and devils.  The
end result was that Christians would excuse their behaviour by blaming it on a
variety of demons, the demon of anger, the demon of addiction, the demon of
lust, you get the picture.   Pretty good
fiction, rotten theology.
But
is it scriptural to blame demons for our sins?  Or is that simply a cop out?  Forty years ago the comedian Flip Wilson would
defend his actions by saying “The devil made me do it”.  Have we accepted that as a valid excuse in
2014? 
You
know between you and me, I think we give the demons credit for a lot of stuff
that we deserve the blame for. 
“Oh
preacher I couldn’t help myself it must be the demon of lust.”  that’s rubbish.   Most of the people who get hyped up on
demons use Ephesians
6:12-13
For we are not fighting against
flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen
world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in
the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will
be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will
still be standing firm.
And
so we talk about the powers of the dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly realms.  But don’t
forget  vs. 13 Therefore,
put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in
the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 
Vs.
13 says that we are going to win, that we stand, that we don’t give in.  The greatest demon you will have to fight
will be the demon of self.  You will only
commit sins that you are willing to commit. 
Do
I see a few raised eyebrows and detect some doubt among the faithful?  One of the greatest promises of the bible is 1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what
others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be
more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so
that you can endure.
God
did not say that we wouldn’t be tempted, even Christ was tempted.  But God did say that you would never be
tempted by something that you couldn’t resist. 
Our problem is that many of us are like Augustine who supposedly prayed
“O Lord,
help me to be pure, but not yet”. 
We  want to have our cake and to eat it too.  We want to be Christians, we want to go to
heaven but we want to sin as well.  We
want everything that this life can give and everything the next life can give.
But
God doesn’t want anything less then everything. 
You can’t say “This 95 percent of my life is God’s and this five percent
is mine.”  Doesn’t work that way, not at
all.  You don’t plant a garden and then
reserve a corner of it for weeds.  Cause
if you do the little green monsters soon want it all.  No man can serve two master.  You can’t serve God and self.  You can’t serve God and sin.  You can’t serve God and the devil.  Because you will either love one and hate the
other or devote yourself to one and despise the other.
If
you play with fire you will get burned. 
And if you play with sin you will get burned.  Remember sin will always take you further
then you want to go.  Sin will always
keep you longer then you want to stay and sin will always cost you more then
what you want to pay.
You
will never be sin’s master it will always be your master.  Sometimes I hear people tell me that they
have mastered sin and I think of what Augustine said: To abstain from sin when one can no longer
sin is to be forsaken by sin, not to forsake it.
 
Galatians 5:16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit
guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The Secret   The secret is letting the Holy
Spirit guide your life.  And how do you
do that?  Well probably the first step is
to admit that you can’t do it alone.  As
long as you are trying to live a sinless life by yourself you will blow, it can’t
be done. 
If
you were to go to an a. a. meeting you would hear people get up and say  “my name if Bob and I’m an alcoholic, or my
name is Alice and I’m an alcoholic.”  now
they may not be drinking, may not have taken a drink for twenty years but even
as a sober alcoholic they acknowledge that they have a problem with
alcohol.  Maybe in church we need to
stand up and say “I’m Denn and I’m a sinner, or my names Jason and I’m a sinner”  that doesn’t mean that we have to continue to
sin, but it does mean that we know who we are and what we are.  And we can’t do anything to change the fact that
we are sinners.

But the apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:1 My
dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone
does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is
Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Catchy
isn’t it, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.  But then John goes on to say if we fall it’s
not fatal when he says I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our
case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
The
bottom line is not following a book of rules, or a list of do nots instead it
is being obedient to God.  And he
promises that he will give us all the help we need in being obedient if we want
it.  But it is our choice.  And he promises that he will give us all the
help we need in being obedient if we want it. 
But it is our choice. 
Listen
to what Jesus said in John 14:23-24 Jesus
replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we
will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will
not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is
from the Father who sent me.
Maybe
Peter Marshall was right when he wrote “Most of us know perfectly well what we ought to do; our trouble is that
we do not want to do it.”