Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Simple, Sage Wisdom

As I get older, the two things I cannot stand in my life are complications and complexity. For me, those are the two things that get under my skin. When you think about it, everything that annoys us can be traced to these two things. The more things we have and money we make lead to complications, for example, in figuring out our taxes. Instead of “rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, we spend hours and hours trying to figure out our taxes. If we don’t figure them correctly, the Internal Revenue Service is there to help us and teach us a valuable lesson regarding our taxes. If we can afford to, we can hire someone to handle our taxes for us which requires us to earn more money to pay for those services which leads to more complications and complexity in our lives. As we continue to make more money and buy more and bigger things, we experience a lot more complications and complexity in our lives.

My father was a very simple man and lived his life in a very simple way. He believed in God the Father and that his salvation came through the blood of Christ Jesus. When I reflect upon his life, I realize that my life is nowhere near the example of my father. My life is cluttered and full of things that just complicate my life and add layers upon layers of complexity to it. My father grew up during the Great Depression and he knew the value of a day’s work and that every person has an opportunity to not only better himself or herself but also provide for the next generation. He believed that God was his provider. There were times in his life that he looked to God for wisdom and guidance. If I could say one thing about my father, he truly was a man after God’s own heart. 

The apostle Paul, like my father, was a man who provided those around him with God’s wisdom that was imparted to him. In many instances, that wisdom was very simple and direct. There was no complexity or complicated ideas. The wisdom that he provided was more than just a series of words. They were heart-felt and came directly from God. Those very words should resonate with the spirits of all believers.

In the sixteenth chapter of his first epistle to the believers in Corinth, Paul writes, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

If you think about his words, you can easily see that what he tells those there in the church of Corinth to do are simple things. Although they are simple in nature, they are the most profound actions any believer could do.

The first thing Paul tells them and us is that we must be on guard. When it comes to Satan, he truly is the accuser. He can easily seduce the sympathetic ear and heart into doing things that are contrary to God and His will. It is so very easy for us to become disobedient. He, like a roaring lion, is looking for souls to devour.
Peter, in chapter five of his first epistle, tells us the same thing, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Paul tells us to stand firm in our faith. If we are on guard and alert, we can easily see the enemy advance towards us. How will you react? Will you stand firm and prepare for the devil’s onslaught and attack? 

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God. If we are to stand on faith, we must prepare for spiritual warfare daily. It is not enough to say we are ready. We must be fully prepared. We have every weapon in God’s armory at our disposal. 

Paul writes in chapter six of Ephesians, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 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 armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.

Notice that Paul mentions the same words. He tells us to “stand firm” and to “stand your ground”. If we remain faithful and true to God, we can easily, after every battle, stand firm in our faith. Any soldier will tell you the same thing. You do not go into battle without all of your equipment. If you take the field, you must be fully prepared and equipped to do battle. If you fail to put on just one piece, there is a weakness and the enemy will seek it out.

Paul gives us the same words that the Lord gives to Joshua. Joshua, who becomes the leader of the Israelites, is given some of the best words of encouragement that anyone who is asked to lead needs.

In the first chapter of Joshua, the Lord charges Joshua with the leadership of the Israelites by saying, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Notice how many times in just this short passage that God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Like Joshua, we need to be reminded constantly that we have nothing to fear. We allow this sinful, fallen world to tear us down spiritually. We fail in standing firm in our faith when we are not on guard and alert. When the enemy senses that we are complacent or sleeping on watch, that is when he attacks. As long as we are alert and have on our full armor, we are ready and do not have to be afraid or discouraged. God is always with us no matter where we go or what we face. As long as we obey, we will prosper and succeed in all that we do. That is God’s promise to each of us.

Lastly, Paul gives us the most important words of wisdom. We are to do everything in love. Early in his letter, Paul tells us about the greatest of all gifts, love. 

In chapter 13 of what is often referred to as “The Love Passage”, Paul writes, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Of all of the gifts that we have received from our Heavenly Father, the greatest is love. That love is summed up so eloquently in the Gospel of John. It is a very short passage in the third chapter. 

John writes, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

God showed us His love for the entire world and we are to do the same. We must act in love just as Jesus acted in love for us when he gave his life so that we could have salvation and no longer live under the burden and requirements of the law. The required payment and sacrifice for being disobedient was paid not only through the blood of Christ Jesus but also through his love for us.

As you reflect on this, remember the last command that Jesus gave his disciples. In chapter thirteen of John, Jesus tells them, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

When we act in love, we show the world what true love really is. 

The words and wisdom written by Paul are very simple. They are not complicated or complex in nature. Do not add or take anything away from the message of faith, hope and love. If you remain grounded in this simple, sage wisdom, you can easily stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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