Binary States

This morning I’d like to talk about binary states. No, we are not going to have a lesson in technology, although you would be entirely within reason to think that. Computers use binary code in order to store information. That’s how computer storage works, it’s all ones and zeroes. Every piece of data on your computer, on your phone, on the entire internet, in fact, it is all stored as ones and zeroes. A bit is a one or a zero, and from that single piece of information, from millions and billions of ones and zeros, we store information.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. A binary state is something that is an either/or condition. Ones are zeroes are hardly the only examples. Look at the lights above you. Those are all LED bulbs, they are either on or off. These bulbs don’t dim, but even if they did, they are still on or off, because on-but-dim is still one. The windows on either wall, those are either open or closed. They’re closed right now, but if it was summer the windows would probably be open. A window might be open a little or a lot, but it’s still either open or closed.

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The Tenth Commandment

Read selections from 1 Kings chapter 21 to start.

Who here can recite the ten commandments? Probably most of us are pretty familiar with those. We’re going to look at one of those this morning. It’s not one of the really high profile commandments, not one that gets a lot of attention, such as “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” or ‘Thou shalt not kill.” We can see several of the commandments being violated in the passage we just read, such as bearing of false witness, and stealing, and obviously thou shalt not kill went right out the window. Those are obviously good and important commandments to follow. But those are not the ones I want to look at today. Frankly, we all know that it’s wrong to kill, that shouldn’t need any explaining. We all know it’s wrong to lie, and it’s wrong to take what belongs to others, and hopefully as adults we all understand this, although we might need reminders from time to time, and if you have children you probably need to remind them of those things on a more regular basis. But we know those commandments, and we understand what they are about.

No, the commandment I want to look at today is the 10th and final commandment – thou shalt not covet. Continue reading The Tenth Commandment

Cups and Choices

Psalm 23. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

The passage we just read is of course one of the best loved and best known of all the Psalms, indeed in all of scripture. It is a passage that I would expect most of us here know by heart. I know Laura had her Sunday school class learn it last year, and I believe they all got to the point so they could recite it from memory. You’ve probably heard it preached on in the past, probably more than once. So I’m not actually going to preach on the 23rd Psalm today. Yes, I know that we read it a moment ago, and that does seem like a bait and switch to read something and then not speak on it. Well, I didn’t just read because I like it, I am going to speak on one verse, actually one phrase from one verse, at least in a way of introduction. That phrase is from verse 5: my cup runneth over.

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Back to the Garden

Read portions of Genesis 2:7-3:24 to start.

In 1969, there was a large music festival held near the town of Bethel, New York. This was of course the Woodstock festival, which was the biggest music festival that had ever happened up to that point, and remains easily the most famous gathering of that type in history. Dozens of musicians and hundreds of thousands of people attended, and it is considered a watershed moment of an entire generation.

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Correction and Discipline

Read Proverbs 23:12-19 to start.

When I was a kid, I frequently had the opportunity to spend time at my friends’ houses. That’s pretty normal for most children I would think, unless they don’t have any friends. The reason I bring this up is because I remember at one house in particular, and I won’t tell you whose house because many of you would know him, or at least know the family, but at this one house there was a sign posted on the fridge. It was there as a joke, no doubt, written as it was in old-fashioned script letters, and I’ve seen the same thing printed on T-shirts more recently. Posted on their refrigerator was the motto Beatings will continue until morale improves.

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Evaluation and Condemnation

Read Matthew 7:1-20 to start.

When I was younger, there was a topic that many of my friends and I were frequently concerned with. It kept coming up, and was never adequately resolved, because some people took a firm stance on one side, and some on the other side. Some people did not care either way, and some said that it was too difficult to really tell the difference. I recall once actually testing some friends to see if their imagined preferences actually lined up with reality, and could they tell the difference.

This is not some great and important spiritual or philosophical matter. This is not about right versus wrong. This is about Coke versus Pepsi.

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A Prudent Man

Proverbs 22:3 & 27: 12 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Sometimes when you read scripture you might encounter a verse and think that it sounds familiar. This can apply to well known verses as well as less familiar ones. For example, if you read John 3:15, that would sound very familiar indeed, because John 3:15 says 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. That no doubt sounds like something you’ve heard many times before, something that comes one exactly one verse later. The verses we read from Proverbs are of course not so well known. Some time ago when reading Proverbs I read chapter 27 and thought that verse 12 sounded like something I had read a few chapters earlier, which of course it did. It didn’t just sound similar, it was in fact the same. The two verses are a word-for-word match. To be sure of this checked and confirmed that the same Hebrew words are used in both verses.

This is not a sermon about repeated verses, although that could be an interesting topic for another day. This is a sermon about the verses we read, and what it means to be prudent, and what it means to be not so prudent. Continue reading A Prudent Man

Roles, Reminders, and Responsibilities

Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-18 to start.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now. This is not a sermon about spiritual gifts. Not that that would not be a worthwhile topic, and probably one that we could all benefit from learning more about. I’m sure I could. Maybe some day I’ll preach a sermon about spiritual gifts. They say that the best way to learn about a topic is to teach it to someone else, and I think there is a lot of truth in that. Continue reading Roles, Reminders, and Responsibilities

Darkness, Lies, Truth, and Light

1 John 1: 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. Continue reading Darkness, Lies, Truth, and Light

Authority, Divine or Otherwise

Read Psalm 91 to start. Then open in prayer.

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

The passage we just read is actually one of my favourite Psalms. I’m not doing a study on that Psalm today, but we are going to reference part of it in a few minutes. But right now, I have question to ask. Have you ever heard the term confirmation bias? It’s something we all experience, but may not realize it. When we encounter new information, we tend to use it to confirm what we already think. What’s more, confirmation bias says that we are a lot more likely to listen to answers that we already agree with or expect. We hear what we want to hear. We interpret things to agree with us, and we generally want to hear voices that agree with us. This is a common and normal thing, we generally don’t like to be challenged about what we think, what we believe. Continue reading Authority, Divine or Otherwise