Sunday, July 3, 2022

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Do Not Love the Things of This World

For the last couple of weeks, a particular hymn from my childhood kept replaying itself over and over in my mind. While I am driving to and from work, I play it on repeat for hours on end. While I was growing up and attending church at Eastwood Baptist Church in Gatesville, Texas, that hymn became one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong. I love all hymns, but there are few that are nearer to my heart. The hymn that has been on my mind is “I Am Resolved” written by Palmer Hartsough.

In 1893, Hartsough worked with the Fillmore brothers who owned the Fillmore Brothers Publishing Company of Cincinnati providing texts for their music. Since the Fillmore brothers were so very impressed with Hartsough's poetic ability, it didn’t take long before they were producing hymns. The tune, “Endeavor”, for this particular hymn was composed by James Henry Fillmore. The song was produced in 1896 as a delegation song for Ohio representatives at the World Endeavor Convention in San Francisco, CA, to honor its founder, Frances E. Clark. Its first hymnbook appearance was in The Praise Hymnal, published by Fillmore. This hymn was entitled, “I am Resolved”. 

The title teaches a very simple lesson in how we should be when it comes to the matter of our faith. We should remain resolute and determined and allow nothing of this world to allure our sight. As Christians, we must be resolved to live righteously and not allow things of this world to cause us to stray. It is not enough for us to say we believe. We must put our belief to work and turn belief into faith. When you put your belief in Jesus and your daily work in the kingdom together, you get faith. It is through the power of faith that miracles happen.

In chapter seventeen of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

It is our strong faith that can keep us focused on those things that are “higher and nobler”. If we resolve to walk with the Lord daily and follow his words and example, nothing can tempt us. Satan and his demons would run in fear to see Christians with that sort of strong faith. But, there are times when we allow the things of this world to come between ourselves and Jesus. 

That is the problem that most Christians face. The things of this world will often cause your faith to weaken. When it does, Satan is right there waiting to exploit that weakness. It is like ringing the dinner bell with him. Satan and his demons will come running when they see a momentary weakness in your faith. To combat this, you must be “resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delights”.

In chapter two of John’s first epistle, John writes, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

When we love the things of this world, we push God out of our lives. We no longer love God with all of our mind, heart and soul. He is no longer our focus, because our attention is elsewhere. When that happens, the love of the Father inside of you is replaced with the love of this world. The world becomes our god. In time, our relationship with the Lord is only a memory. When that happens, we have gone astray. Is it too late to return to the Father?

No. It is never too late. You just have to stop and think about what is important to you and listen for the Master’s voice. The Shepherd is always there to look for the lost sheep. Jesus is there to help you return to the fold. If you feel that you have left the path of righteousness and now find yourself in the evil clutches of the world, listen for the voice of the Master. He is there looking for you and he will do anything to help you return to the straight and narrow and to the fold of the Father. Once you hear his voice, go to him and ask for forgiveness and guidance back to Father God. 

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells them the parable of the lost sheep: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

If you are lost and you have been charmed by the world’s delights, I ask you today to stop and listen for the voice of the true Shepherd. He is calling for you today. He will do whatever it takes to bring you home and there will be much rejoicing for the lost one that has been found.

Upon returning, your faith will be restored and you will continue your daily walk with the Lord. That daily walk will strengthen you so that you can stand firm in His grace.

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

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