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

Location and Loyalty

Let’s talk for a moment about invitations. We associate them these days with weddings and with children’s birthday parties in particular, but there are all sorts of invitations. I recently, well, back six months ago, received an invitation to a wedding in Calgary. It was for my cousin’s son’s wedding, someone who I hadn’t seen in nearly twenty years, he must have been in kindergarten back then, don’t think I’d recognize him on the street unless he was holding a sign that read “Hey Marko, my mom is your cousin”, and even then, it might take a minute. I was not expecting to be invited to his wedding.

When it came, I assumed it was just a courtesy invite, they were inviting all the relatives, and they were not expecting us to travel out to Alberta on the Canada Day weekend. I promptly forgot to actually RVSP. At least until I got a message from my cousin in April wondering if we’d be able to make it. Apparently it was a real invitation, and they were quite prepared to have us, kids and all. Not that it was viable to go, mind you, but the invitation was real. Continue reading Location and Loyalty

The Valley of Decision

Read Joel 3: 11-14 to start. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Let’s talk for a moment about geography. Not about nations and borders, but about land, and topography, the actual surface of the earth. Ever look at a topographical map? It’s a map that shows the land features rather than the political lines, showing the height of hills and mountains, that sort of thing. When you think about valleys, that’s the sort of geography we’re talking about.

Continue reading The Valley of Decision

Rulers, Respect, and Responsibility

10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment. 11 A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work. 12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. 14 The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. 15 In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

Who here has ever wanted to be a king? Or queen, or emperor, or president, or any other title you can think of, really, for that matter. I don’t mean any sort of serious intention here, I can’t imagine that anyone has actually taken steps to try to become royalty, but more of a fanciful wish or a dream. We probably all have had that thought. I know I have. Oh, to be king for a day. It sounds so very wonderful. The things you would do, the things you would change. The things you could fix, the problems you could solve. Continue reading Rulers, Respect, and Responsibility

The Perils of Popularity

Who here remembers high school? For some of us, it’s been a while. My own high school 20 year reunion was a couple of years ago, or at least it should have been. I didn’t go. I’m not even sure if it actually happened or not, because, well, I didn’t go, I wasn’t too terribly concerned about going. It’s not like I look back on high school as the best years of my life. Not the worst years, either, pretty sure that would be junior high.

Continue reading The Perils of Popularity

The Life of the Flesh is in the Blood

Leviticus 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Sometimes, quite often, in fact, it’s what you don’t see that is most important. Each and every one of us here this morning is alive because we are carrying around somewhere in the ballpark of five litres of blood. Without that, we would immediately die. There is no substitute for blood, you can’t fill your body with five litres of coffee or alcohol or cola or some other fluid, although we probably all know some people who drink those things like they are trying to do that. No, blood is unique, and blood is absolutely essential. The life of the flesh is in the blood. Continue reading The Life of the Flesh is in the Blood

The Problem of Anger

Read Psalm 37:1-9 1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Sometimes I choose a sermon topic a week or so before speaking. This time, I had my subject picked out a while ago, pretty much from the last time I spoke, as it was a topic that’s been on my bulletin board as a possible sermon topic for a while now. So having decided, I looked up a number of scripture verses to act as possible starting points, which is always a good place to start when you are preparing a sermon. Wouldn’t you know it, more than one of the passages I chose has been spoken on, or at the very least referenced, from this platform, since I came up with my list. As recently as last Sunday one of the key verses I had found was featured in the Sunday sermon.

The thing is, there are a lot of verses, found throughout the scripture, going all the way back to Genesis chapter 4. Just because some of the passages I had intended to use have been discussed recently doesn’t use up the supply of verses, if I happened to be concerned about going over the same ground that someone else had recently dealt with. There is plenty of scripture to use on this subject, literally hundreds of verses. Don’t worry, we’re not going to look up hundreds of verses. I had found and taken note of a number of applicable passages, and we’re not even going to look at a quarter of them. There’s that much of it available.

I’d say fortunately there’s plenty of scripture on the subject, but perhaps it is unfortunate that it was necessary for the Bible to include so much instruction on this topic. The Lord knows what we need help with, and the volume of verses strongly suggest that this is one of them. My subject this morning is the problem of anger. We are going to look at some key things about anger, things you might not have realized or understood. Most importantly, we are going to look at what scripture says about anger, and as mentioned, it says quite a lot on the subject.

You might be wondering why I’m calling anger a problem. After all, it is one of the most universal of all human emotions. As well, we are told that God gets angry. Psalm 7 verse 11 says that God is angry with the wicked every day. And all four gospels tell of how Christ himself drove those who sold animals and exchanged money from the temple, saying that they had made His Father’s house into a den of thieves. It’s hard not to hear about injustice, about cruelty, about some deeply offensive behaviours that certain people not only undertake and condone, but work to support and go out of their way to champion these behaviours. It’s hard to hear this, to see this, and not feel anger. How is that a problem?

Righteous anger may not be a problem, but how much righteous anger do you and I actually experience? What percentage of your anger is in any way righteous? If you think that it’s even a measurable percentage than you are far ahead of me. What’s more, the first verse we read from Psalm 37 said not to fret about evildoers. We are not to be focused on anger, righteous or otherwise.

What good would we even hope to achieve by our supposedly righteous anger, I wonder. The other week at Tuesday study we looked at the latter part of James chapter 1, where verse 20 says 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Our anger, our wrath, is not likely to advance God’s work in any useful way. Quite the opposite, in fact. People get upset about things that are wrong with our society, things that go against God’s law, and they take the law into their own hands, and it does not go well. As much as the practice of abortion is offensive, the bombing of a clinic is every bit as wrong, if not more so. Two wrongs are not how you go about making a right. We probably all learned that before we learned how to tie our shoes, but sometimes we forget, we lose sight of that — the two wrongs don’t make a right part, not how to tie our shoes. The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.

Even when we are convinced our anger is correct, it is not our responsibility to administer God’s justice, it is not our right to act on God’s behalf. I am not God. You are not God. Sometimes we seem to think that we are, though, or that it is incumbent upon us to get angry on God’s behalf. This can seem like the right thing to do. It says in Proverbs 14, verse 12, there is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. We may be convinced that we are right in being angry for God’s sake, that might seem entirely right to us, but seeming right does not make something correct. God has asked those who would follow Him to do certain things, being angry is not on that list. The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. The verse before that, James 1:19, says 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. We are not to fly off the handle, we are to be slow to anger, not quick to it. We are to hear, we are to listen, and not to act rashly, if we want to work the righteousness of God, that is.

That might be a pretty big if, though. We’ll talk a bit more about that in a few minutes, but for now, lets talk about anger. Normal, run-of-the-mill anger, not something that we might attempt to label as righteous anger. Anger is common, both in that it is frequent, and it is very widely distributed. People get angry in all manner of situations, in all walks of life, and at every age. Even babies get angry. I know this from experience. Children who aren’t old enough to walk or to talk can easily get angry when they don’t get what they want. They learn this very young. It’s not like they need to be taught how to get angry. Anyone who has children, or who has spent any time with young children, will agree with me on that, or if not, then congratulations, you’ve had the most mild-mannered children in the history of the world.

My own children are not mild mannered. But then again, when I was younger, I had a terrible temper. This might be a little surprising, because I’m halfway decent at keeping my cool now. But that was not always the case. The fact that my children get angry should not be surprising. I get angry now, just not as often. My wife gets angry as well. And as established, my kids get angry. We all get angry. Looking at everyone here today, I know some of you better than I know others, but I’m willing to bet that every person here gets angry at times. Maybe not all that often, or maybe far too often, I don’t know. If that’s not the case, then I’m wrong, and I apologize, but I’d be very surprised if that’s the case.

Because anger is so universal, and because it’s a problem, it’s something that’s important to talk about. It’s something that can often be downplayed, or ignored, or not worried about, perhaps because it is so universal. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Anger very often has consequences.

Right now at home we don’t have a little baby, Levi is a toddler, he can walk, he can talk a bit, and wow, he can get angry. He screams and he’ll throw things when he is upset. He can’t really do much damage at this point, but he can express his anger, and it’s not very pleasant. When he doesn’t get what he wants, we all know about it. The other day he wanted to get a toy that his brother was playing with, and when he didn’t get it, he threw a toy car and hit his brother on the head. Direct hit to the temple. There was more anger then, and more tears. It did not go well.

It’s never very pleasant when someone expresses their anger, is it? It’s not a good experience for the person who gets angry, it’s certainly not any better for the subject of the anger, and if you happen to be a bystander, well, that’s not exactly a fun time either. Anger doesn’t improve anything. Quite the opposite, in fact. In Proverbs 29, verse 22, it says that an angry man stirs up strife. Very often getting angry makes things worse, sometimes immediately or in the short term, sometimes in the long term, and sometimes both.

In the verses we read to start, at verse 8 there is the instruction to cease from anger, and forsake wrath. God does not want us to be angry. This is for our benefit, as well as for all those around us. Three times the psalm says “fret not yourself.” We shouldn’t think of fret in the modern sense of the word, as to be worried or troubled about something or other. The word used here is I think much stronger, much sharper than that. The Hebrew word is Charah (khaw-RAW) meaning to burn, and in fact many other times in scripture the same word is translated as kindle. There is a sense of ignition here, of burning. This isn’t a quiet troublesome fretting, this is a pot on the stove that threatens to boil over, this is a smouldering fire that could go roaring into a blaze at any moment.

Anger is like a fire in a lot of ways. Anger, like fire, is a destructive process, it consumes and destroys whenever and whatever it can. Both are also difficult to control, they spread and grow when allowed to do so. How many times have you seen a grass fire that someone set because they thought it was a good idea get rid of some brush or dead grass or something, which is a stupid idea, really, but I digress, and it gets out of control, and causes far more damage than anyone could anticipate? Anger is much the same way, it leads to tremendous harm, and can be vastly more far-reaching than ever expected.

Here’s an example of anger that went much farther than anyone saw coming. It actually the first example that we have in scripture of anger, it comes from Genesis chapter 4, the story of Cain and Abel. It’s no doubt familiar, but I’ll read a few verses from there to refresh your memory, starting at verse 1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. 8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

We’ll end there for now. Cain got angry, and it did not go well. It did not go well for him, if we read the rest of the passage we would learn how Cain ended up going into exile, away from his home and his family. And as badly as things may have gone for Cain, they went far worse for Abel. Cain lost his home, Abel lost his life.

I can’t imagine that Cain got up one morning and thought, “This is a good day to start down a course of action that will culminate in the murder of my brother.” There probably aren’t very many people who would ever have that sort of thought process. But Cain did indeed go down that road, not with that goal in mind, no doubt, but that goal was eventually reached. How did he arrive there? Let’s take a look at what happened.

Both Cain and Abel were farmers, Cain grew crops, and Abel kept livestock. Nothing wrong with any of that, no doubt they were both very good at what they did. Both are honourable and important professions, and no doubt what they did was valued by their parents and their other siblings whose names we do not have. When it came time to present an offering to the Lord, both of them did so, and they did it according to what they produced in their day to day work – Cain brought produce, Abel brought a sacrifice from his flock of sheep.

I have heard it taught on many occasions that Cain’s sacrifice was rejected because it was not a blood sacrifice, whereas Abel’s was. And that might well be true, although this passage does not tell us that specifically. Nor does it say that in Hebrews chapter 11, but rather that Abel’s sacrifice was more excellent, and that is was offered by faith. The common interpretation is blood versus no blood, but that may be in part our understanding thanks to the perspective we have, we can look back at the cross, and at the centuries of animal sacrifices that anticipated Calvary. Cain and Abel had no such perspective. But one was right, and the other was wrong.

It’s possible there may have been additional problems with Cain’s sacrifice, rather than the issue of blood. After all, in the law of Moses there are instructions for offerings of grain, with oil as well. It could be argued that the category of Cain’s sacrifice may not have been wrong. But something was wrong. It may have been that Cain just took whatever was available and offered it up. Abel took of the firstlings of his flock, and the fat thereof. He was offering the best, and he was doing so through faith. Cain, well, we aren’t told anything about faith on his part, which suggests a lack thereof. What Cain offered, he did so not by faith, but according to his own ideas. He offered what he thought would do the trick. Whether that was intended to be just enough to get by, or if it was indeed his best, and it was entirely the wrong offering, he did what seemed right to him.

Once again, as it says in Proverbs 14: 12, there is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. The offering he brought seemed right to Cain, but God did not agree, and we know that it did indeed put him on the ways of death, quite literally as far as his brother was concerned. Cain was furious that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted while his own was rejected. He was very wroth the passage says. Same Hebrew word, Charah (khaw-RAW), as mentioned earlier, meaning to burn or kindle, this time with a modifying word ahead of it meaning exceedingly. Cain was angry, very angry.

We are told in verses 6 and 7 that God spoke to him, questioned his anger, and advised him to do better. If you do well, you will be accepted. If not, then sin is waiting on the doorstep. Cain was given an opportunity for a do-over. He got at least one second chance that we know about. We don’t know how much time passed here, if Cain smouldered in his anger for weeks or months, or even years, perhaps, or if he acted upon it the next day, but Cain made his choice. He kept his anger, and it wasn’t a case of sin waiting at the door. No, he invited it in and cooked breakfast for it. His anger lead directly to his brother’s death.

Why was Cain so angry? It boils down to one simple fact. He was angry because he did not get to have things his own way. He had a plan, he had an offering in mind, and when it was refused, he became enraged. He didn’t rethink his plan, he didn’t change his approach. He didn’t say, “Well, it seems that God doesn’t want a fruit basket, I should maybe follow Abel’s lead here.” No, he didn’t do that. Instead of re-evaluating and making a change, he stuck to his own ways, and got angry when it didn’t work. How much of that anger was because of jealousy over his brother’s success, and how much of it was anger with God, but ultimately directed at his brother, we don’t know, probably an unhealthy mix of both. But following his own intentions, his own desires, lead him down that path.

That’s the thing about anger. It comes from within. People are quick to excuse anger, and say that someone made me angry, or that they have a bad temper, a predisposition to get angry, so it’s not really all that bad. Well, as it happens we all have a predisposition to all manner of sin, it’s called our sinful nature, so we can’t say that’s any excuse. That doesn’t make it somehow okay. That’s like saying that you have a car that’s built for speed, it has a predisposition for going way too fast, and so the officer shouldn’t give you a ticket for doing 90 in a 50 zone. That doesn’t make it okay, that’s not going to work in a court of law, and it’s not going to work with Almighty God.

As far as someone else making you angry, well, it is true that another person can provoke an angry response. Someone does something contrary to what we want, they thwart our plans, no matter how good or poor those plans might be, and we get angry. But the anger is coming from within, it’s not an external force.

Anger comes from within. Much anger is caused by frustration when we don’t get what we want, when our desires, our intentions, our plans, are unfulfilled. We see something, we experience something, that displeases us, it causes frustration when we are not able to resolve something to our liking, and so we lash out in anger. That’s why Cain became so upset. He didn’t want to bring a proper sacrifice in correct manner, and when that didn’t work out for him, he got angry. He wanted to do it his way.

Sound familiar? The world is full of people who want to do it their own way. Individuality and non-conformity is readily celebrated. Quick, think of two songs by Frank Sinatra. Got two? Is one of them “My Way”? The notion of “I did it my way” speaks to our old nature, the one that doesn’t want to listen, doesn’t want to obey, doesn’t want to follow God. That describes a lot of people, it describes a lot of people who would much rather do things their own way, rather than God’s way. There is a way that seems right unto a man, remember. There is a way that seems right. We know how that ends. When we go our own way, when we seek our own wishes, our own desires, it leads to disappointment, and it leads to anger.

Earlier we talked about working the righteousness of God, and how anger does not accomplish that. If we want to actually do God’s work, if we want to further the progress of His Kingdom, then we should not be angry, we should not be filled with wrath. If we are indeed angry, I would suggest that is because we are not trying to work the righteousness of God at all, it is because we are following our own desires. We are going our own way. And when we do so, we meet with frustration and anger. That is what our desire brings us to. Even when what we desire is perfectly fine, when we our own desires, when that is our focus, it leads down the path to anger.

On the topic of our own desires, let’s flip back to the passage we read to start, in Psalm 37. There is a familiar verse, verse Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Ever wonder what that verse is doing in the middle of a passage that cautions so much about anger, that advises us to cease from anger, to fret not, to not burn with anger? What’s that verse doing there? After all, when we follow our own desires, sooner or later it leads, I would suggest without fail, to unfulfilment. Even when we get what we want we don’t remain content with it for long, do we? That leads to more desires, and eventually when those cannot be satisfied, or when they fail to bring contentment, it leads to frustration and to anger, with all the damage that brings.

And let’s not forget just how terrible what we desire often tends to be. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, after all. In Matthew 15 we read that out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, theft, lies, and blasphemy. That which is decidedly evil is not likely to desire good and pleasant and holy things in the first place.

So how then will God give us the desires of our hearts? The key is in the first part of the verse, delight also in the LORD. When you delight in God, that which you desire will change, it will move into alignment with what God wants. When your heart is with God, when you are turned to Him, when you are listening to His word and seeking His will, then the desires of your heart will be quite different.

How do we go about this? After all, it’s one thing to say “Cease from anger” and quite another to do it. Filling our hearts with the fruit of the Spirit is an excellent place to start. As listed in Galations 5:22 and 23, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Running down that list, there are a lot of those which are entirely incompatible with anger. It’s impossible to have anger and peace at the same time, for example. Longsuffering, or patience, meekness, and temperance, or self-control, those all are contrary to anger. You can’t have those at the same time. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of someone who can be exhibiting gentleness and anger at the same time. And love, well, we could probably do an entire study on love, and how love is the opposite of anger.

God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us. Were He merely angry with us, angry with our behaviour, angry with our wicked desires and sinful actions, in His anger He would destroy us all. He has held back His wrath, He has set aside His anger, in His love for us. He has every right to be angry with us; we have transgressed against Him in countless ways. But he chose love instead. Love does not leave a place for anger.

Today, if you recognize that anger is a problem, and I think that it quite clearly is, it’s time to do something about it. This is something that the world is quick to dismiss as unimportant and excusable, but God does not agree. He would not tell us to cease from anger if it were no big deal.

Anger is a big deal. It causes damage to ourselves, it causes damage to those around us, those we care about, and it causes damage to the testimony of Christ. No one has ever looked at an angry person and thought “He has something special, he has something that I would like to have as well.” If our anger gets in the way of someone else coming to Christ, that’s a serious problem.

Saying “Cease from anger,” does not solve the problem of anger, any more than saying “Lose ten pounds” results in weight loss. Recognizing that anger is not okay, and that it comes from the heart, that is a starting point. Realizing that our own desires, and the unfulfilment thereof, are at the root of much anger, is another point to take home from this sermon. Letting go of selfish desires, and instead delighting in the Lord, in His Word and in His ways, that’s an important step, not even a step really, but rather an ongoing process. When we are filled with God, when we are allowing His Spirit to operate, then the fruits of the Spirit will come to the forefront, and there will not be a place for anger.

I know I’ll most likely get angry in the future, just as I have many times in the past. It’s not something I want, and it’s not something I can solve on my own. But I don’t need to get angry, and with God’s help, I can do, I will do far better than I have. I can ask the Lord to change my heart, to realign my desires, and replace them with His. And I can remember that God’s instruction is to cease from anger, to forsake wrath, and to not fret, to not burn. He would not command us to do so if He were not willing and able to help us with it. Let’s close in prayer.

Seeking, Finding, and Following

With it being the 20th of December, preaching a Christmas message seemed the right thing to do when I was deciding what to speak on this morning. That would make sense. After all, Christmas is but a few days from now, we had the Christmas concert last week, we sang carols this morning, and we just read a couple of very familiar passages from Matthew and Luke chapter 2. You would think that this is going to be a Christmas themed sermon, and while it starts out that way, I’m not so sure that it’s really a Christmas sermon. Think of the carol “We Three Kings” which starts off with a Christmas theme, but once you get to the fourth and fifth verses, it’s not talking about Christmas any further, it’s talking about Christ’s death and resurrection. This sermon is a bit like that. It’s all bundled in Christmas themed wrapping paper, but I could get away with preaching a very similar sermon in April or October. Continue reading Seeking, Finding, and Following

Blinded by Science

Read John 3 11-12 to start. 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? Then open in prayer.

There is an idea today that faith and science are incompatible, that if you would follow Christ, then you cannot study science, not with any serious effort, at least. And likewise, if you are well educated and scientifically minded, then you cannot possibly believe in something so unscientific as Christianity. This is a commonly held idea today, and frequently one that is supported by those on either side of the science/faith divide. They look at us as being ignorant and backward, and say that if you have science, you don’t need faith. We look at them as cold and deluded, and say that if you have faith, then science doesn’t matter.

On which side of this divide do you fall? Faith or science, which will it be? Have you picked a side? If you have indeed chosen a side, I have bad news for you. You’re wrong. The side you have chosen is wrong.

Continue reading Blinded by Science