Suggested Preaching Program for
• Sundays Mornings
The suggested theme for this month is “The Prophets Speak to the Present.” While the prophets were predictors concerning the future, their primary function was to speak for God. They brought the message of God to bear upon the issues that faced the people of their day. As the spokesmen of God, they continue to have a message that is relevant for today.
• Sunday Evenings
“Sermons from the Sermon” is the theme for Sunday evenings this month. Included are five messages based on texts found in the Sermon on the Mount.
• Wednesday Evenings
The guiding theme for the Wednesday evening Services this month is stewardship. Stewardship concerns every area of life. In the background of each suggested message is the basic philosophy of Jesus expressed in the beatitude “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Sunday Morning, March 1
Title: Are We at Ease in Zion?
Text: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!” (Amos 6:1).
Scripture Reading: Amos 6:1 – 8
Hymns: “Holy, Holy, Holy,” Heber
“The Way of the Cross Leads Home,” Pounds
“We Praise Thee, O God,” Mackay
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, we recognize this as the day that you have made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. We praise you with songs from our hearts. We praise you with testimonies from our lips. We praise you with our tithes and offerings as we acknowledge you as the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Bless the use of these offerings that others might come to know of your love and grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Amos preached in a postwar period, a day of unsuspected peril. It was a day of unrivaled national power and unparalleled material prosperity. Religious activities were popular.
With penetrating insight, the prophet from Tekoa diagnosed the sickness of his nation and pronounced its early death. In less than forty years his nation was to die and be buried in the Assyrian exile. The sickness that buried his nation can do the same thing to our country unless we find a cure.
I. The charge of spiritual complacency: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, to them that trust in the mountain of Samaria” (Amos 6:1).
A. The condition of complacency is described.
1. Their customs, dress, and perfumes were the richest (6:4).
2. They enjoyed the richest foods and rarest delicacies (6:4).
3. The pursuit of pleasure was uppermost in their thoughts (6:5).
4. They drank their wine out of bowls (6:6).
B. The causes of complacency.
1. Israel was enjoying an unprecedented era of prosperity. Two possible reactions:
a. People may react as Israel did. They became proud and boastful. They lived extravagantly and took all of the credit for themselves (6:9, 13).
b. They should have reacted with an attitude of humility. A person’s response to prosperity will both reveal and determine his or her character.
2. They trusted in military resources for security (6:1).
3. They dismissed all serious thought (6:3).
4. The pursuit of prosperity was of primary importance (6:4).
5. They were not grieved because of the sickness of their nation (6:6).
II. The curse of complacency.
A. In Amos’s day.
1. Complacency led to the death of his nation.
2. Complacency caused the people to reject their divine mission.
3. Complacency denied to them their destiny.
B. In our day.
1. Complacency robs God of energetic and consecrated servants.
2. Complacency robs us of joy unspeakable here and rewards unbelievable hereafter.
3. Our complacency prevents some from going to heaven when this life is over.
III. The cure for complacency.
A. Attempt to comprehend the love of God.
B. Contemplate the value of salvation to another individual.
C. Meditate on the issues and the values of eternity.
D. Listen to the command of the Master.
Unsaved friend, if you are at ease concerning your spiritual state, it would be wise for you to become alarmed. Preoccupation with material things can cause you to become complacent and unconcerned about your spiritual welfare until it is too late. Seek the Lord today while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near. It is dangerous and deadly to be unconcerned about your relationship with God.
Sunday Evening, March 1
Title: The Inner Spirit of a Genuine Christian
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1 – 9.
The Beatitudes are not just pious platitudes or nice generalizations. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ gave us a wonderful picture of what a real Christian is like. Have you been guilty of assuming a familiarity with the Beatitudes to the extent that you have given them no serious thought? By carefully considering the Beatitudes, we can measure our worthiness to wear the name of Christian.
The word blessed means more than the superficial idea of happiness or material well-being. It refers to proper attitudes and actions that issue in spiritual well-being. The emphasis is not on the blessing to be received; it is on the condition of the heart and mind that makes it possible for a person to experience the blessings of God.
The Beatitudes were not directed to an unbelieving world. They were given in a teaching-learning situation to Christ’s disciples. These inner attitudes do not come to us automatically at our conversion. Consequently, each of us as disciples should sit at the feet of Jesus and listen attentively and responsively as he describes the inner attitude of an ideal citizen of his kingdom.
I. A consciousness of spiritual poverty: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
A. Are you overwhelmed with a consciousness of spiritual poverty? Do you feel like a pauper in the things of God? Do you feel destitute as far as spiritual achievement goes?
B. Are you filled with pride concerning your spiritual attainments? In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, Jesus described a proper attitude of spiritual poverty in the person of the publican. He used the role of the proud Pharisee to indict many of us for our self-righteousness and lack of humility.
II. A great grief for sin and failure: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
The grief that Jesus here speaks about is not that which is normally expected at the death of a loved one. It is a personal grief that is the result of the awareness of the spiritual poverty referred to in the previous beatitude.
A. Is there a sense of sorrow in your heart because of your own personal transgressions and failures? Grief over personal sin is a basic requirement for continued spiritual growth. To neglect Christ’s forgiveness is to be overwhelmed with ingratitude and self-righteousness.
B. Do you grieve because of the sins and failures of others, or do you find it easy to be critical? In this picture of the inner attitude of a genuine Christian, Jesus is referring to a condition of the heart that is described by the psalmist: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17). In this psalm David is grieving because of his sin. His grief led to confession, and his confession made possible his cleansing.
III. A meek and teachable spirit: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
A. Meekness is not to be confused with weakness. Jesus is not encouraging an attitude that says, “Excuse me for living.”
B. Meekness refers to an open mind and a teachable spirit, which are essential if one is to be possessed by the mind of Jesus Christ. To be meek is to be the very opposite of the egotistical know-it-all who has the last word on every subject.
Those who enjoy horseback riding know that some horses have what is called a tender mouth, while others are tough mouthed. Those with a tender mouth are sensitive and responsive to the movement of the reins. This is the attitude toward God of one who is meek.
IV. An intense hunger and thirst after righteousness: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
To be able to appreciate this beatitude, one needs to have suffered the pangs of hunger and the torment of an unsatisfied thirst. Jesus uses these two deep appetites of life to illustrate the deep spiritual hunger of a genuine disciple to be right with God and his fellow human beings in all things.
We live in a world in which there is a tremendous hunger for wealth and an insatiable thirst for pleasure. There is a continuous struggle for success. Jesus declares in this beatitude that his disciples will be characterized by an intense hunger and thirst after righteousness.
A. Right with God. While we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and are given a right standing before God on the basis of that faith, we need always to bring every facet of our life into harmony with the benevolent will of God. Do you really want to be right with God?
B. Right with our fellow humans. The genuine disciple will put forth continuous effort to maintain right relationships with his or her fellow humans. The Bible emphasizes that we cannot enjoy the favor of God if we mistreat our fellow humans.
V. An intelligent sympathy: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).
Jesus declares that his disciples will be compassionate toward others. As the recipients of mercy, they are to be merciful toward others. They are to demonstrate mercy and kindness toward the unfortunate. To be merciful is to be habitually looking at others through the eyes of Jesus Christ. He saw the internal as well as the external needs of people. The parable of the good Samaritan is a demonstration of mercy.
VI. A devoted and undivided loyalty to God: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).
To be pure in heart or motive is to have unhindered access to the throne room of the Eternal. In this beatitude the word “pure” refers to that which is unalloyed, unadulterated, unmixed — an undivided allegiance to the will of God.
The background of this beatitude is the throne room of an Mideastern monarch. A king was always safely guarded from attack by an enemy. Only those of unquestioned loyalty to the king were ever granted the privilege of entering the throne room. Similarly, today there are only a few individuals who do not have to have an appointment to see the president of the United States. They have this privilege because of their unquestioned allegiance and loyalty to him.
This beatitude is referring to a present experience with God rather than to a future prospect of seeing God after we reach heaven. Jesus is declaring that his disciples can experience the real presence of God in the here and now if they are utterly devoted to him.
VII. Peacemakers are regarded as the children of God: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).
This beatitude refers to something much closer to home than the work of a diplomat in his or her efforts to establish peace among the nations of the world. Jesus is declaring that those who possess the inner spiritual characteristics described in the previous verses will experience the apex of spiritual achievement by leading others to know God through faith in Jesus Christ. In modern terminology, he is declaring that the natural function of a genuine Christian will be to produce other Christians.
A. Peace between God and humans. As the servants of Jesus Christ, we are to announce the good tidings that God is not at war with humans — that God loves people and is communicating this love in the gift of his Son Jesus Christ. By his death on the cross, Jesus has removed the sin that alienates us from God. We are authorized to announce that peace and harmony and happiness are possible for all who will receive him (2 Cor. 5:18 – 20).
B. Peace between humans. The ideal citizen of the kingdom of God will seek to promote peace and harmony on all levels and in all relationships. This peace should be based on justice, kindness, mercy, and concern for the welfare of others.
To come face-to-face with the claims and the requirements of these beatitudes is to recognize how far short we fall of being all that we are capable of being as followers of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit seeks to make possible the inner attitudes that are essential if we are to become truly Christlike in our conduct. We must be Christlike on the inside before we can be Christlike on the outside. May God help each of us as we give careful and considerate attention to cultivating these inner attitudes set forth by our Savior.
Wednesday Evening, March 4
Title: Give Your Stewardship Testimony
Text: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1).
Our Scripture text and the verses that follow it have been interpreted as meaning that we should always be secretive concerning our gifts. A serious study of this verse in its context, however, will reveal that Jesus was talking to his disciples primarily about the motive behind their deeds of righteousness as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. He uses three illustrations to emphasize the importance of proper motivation. These illustrations are the giving of alms (Matt. 6:1 – 4), the offering of prayers (vv. 5 – 15), and the practice of fasting (vv. 16 – 18). In each of these areas illustrative of Service to others, Service to God, and personal spiritual discipline, Jesus warned against the desire for human applause as the primary motive for actions (vv. 1 – 2, 5, 16).
A desire for the approval of God rather than the applause of people is to be our primary motive. Jesus was not insisting that every contribution be secret. Nor was he insisting that prayer be restricted to private communion with God. He was declaring strongly that we must have the right motive.
In the preceding chapter, Jesus made a statement that would seemingly contradict Matthew 6:1 – 4, for he said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). In this verse Jesus says that we must let people see our good works. He is talking about influence rather than motive. Consequently, in certain circumstances we would be guilty of disobeying our Savior and we would be mistreating our fellow Christians if we were secretive about our gifts. Therefore, if you can do so with the right motive, you should give a stewardship testimony.
I. Give your stewardship testimony and register your love for your Savior.
The Lord has freely given his life on the cross for us because of love. If you have found love in your heart that motivates you to be a tither so that others might come to know Christ, then your testimony concerning this love can possibly increase the love of others for him.
II. Give your stewardship testimony and strengthen the faith of other disciples.
We should be no more hesitant to give a stewardship testimony concerning the faithfulness of God and the provisions of God on a material level than we would be to give a testimony as to how God has answered our prayers.
Some people have the faith to become good stewards merely because the Bible says that we should be. Others need the testimony of more mature Christians who have tested promises of God and have found them to be true. By giving our testimony, we can strengthen the faith of others in the promises of God.
III. Give your stewardship testimony and encourage others to put their heart into the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:9 – 21).
Jesus was declaring that our hearts follow our investments. Until we begin to invest in the kingdom of God, our hearts will remain outside the kingdom. If we can encourage others to become generous, consistent contributors, or investors, in God’s work, we will have rendered them a real Service by helping them get their hearts in the right place.
IV. Give your stewardship testimony with your eye on the open windows of heaven (Mal. 3:10).
If you can encourage another to trust God and to try God’s promise to tithers, you will be the means that will make it possible for God to open up the treasure house of heaven and pour out into the heart of someone else his rich blessings. There are many who need the benefits of your experience. They need the encouragement of your faith. Faith comes by hearing, not only the Word of God, but also the word of God’s children who have found that God is honest and that he can be depended on to be faithful to his every promise.
Your motive is the main thing. If you cannot talk concerning your personal experiences as a tither without a desire for human applause, then you had better seal your lips. But if your motive, deep within your heart, is to glorify God and be a blessing to others, then for you to remain silent in a time of opportunity to witness is criminal.
Sunday Morning, March 8
Title: Unheeded Chastisement
Text: “I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me” (Amos 4:6 NIV).
Scripture Reading: Amos 4:6 – 12
Hymns: “Praise to the Lord the Almighty,” Neander
“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” Crosby
“There Is a Name I Love to Hear,” Whitfield
Offertory Prayer: With gratitude for both spiritual and material blessings, we approach your throne, O Lord; and we acknowledge you as the Giver of every good and perfect gift. We thank you for life. We express our gratitude for the privilege of being able to work so as to provide for our families. We rejoice in the privilege of bringing material gifts for dedication upon your altar. Accept these symbols of our gratitude and dedication, and bless them in the work of your kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The prophet Amos lived in a time of great material prosperity. It was a postwar period, and the people thought that God had indicated his pleasure in them by giving them victory. They thought everything was exactly as it should be.
There were primarily only two classes of people in the land — the very rich and the very poor. The rich enjoyed great luxury and indulged in all the pleasures that money could provide. The poor were continually oppressed, and injustice was practiced in the courts.
True religion had been compromised to the extent that it was a mere form of religion. The religion of the people produced no moral effects in their lives.
The nation depended on financial and military might for existence among the nations of the earth. It seemed that all was right with the world. The prophet of God, however, was able to see signs of decay, evidences of poison in the bloodstream, and inevitable calamities ahead for these people who were unable to read the signs of the times.
I. Divine chastisement was unrecognized and unheeded.
A. God sent famine upon them. “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:6).
B. God withheld the rains. “And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; . . . yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:7 – 8).
The people simply thought that they had had a drought. When rain was needed, it did not come. Many people incorrectly assume that the laws of nature take care of such things as Amos is speaking about.
C. God sent agricultural failure. “I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:9).
The people thought that the season had produced an unusually large number of insects. Many times God is like a dentist; he has to inflict pain that better things may result.
D. God chastised his nation with war. The people were so dull that they did not recognize that God was trying to tell them something. “I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:10 – 11).
II. God continues to chastise.
A. God chastises nations. One cannot study the Bible without recognizing that the biblical writers believed that God had the power to sway the destiny of nations. The God of grace and justice rewards the nations that fear him and serve him and punishes the nations that ignore him and oppress the helpless.
The study of history reveals that those who usurp the place of God and ignore the laws of justice and mercy are eventually destroyed. History has been described as “His story.” The Bible declares and history verifies the truth that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17). There are nations today strutting across the stage of human history that must either change or experience the radical justice of a holy God.
B. God chastises individuals. A church member was injured quite seriously while driving under the influence of alcohol. His chest was crushed and his limbs were broken, and his life hung by a narrow thread. Someone could have said that the accident was due only to the loss of his mental faculties while intoxicated. His explanation was different. After months of lying on his back looking up, looking backward, looking inward, and looking forward, with the language of faith, he declared that the loving heavenly Father had caused him to have the accident to bring him to his senses. He rededicated his life and renewed his vows and resumed the discipline of discipleship. As the years went by, he became a trusted and respected servant of Jesus Christ as well as a blessing to his family, his church, and his community.
An unbelieving husband and wife were blessed with the birth of a precious baby. The years went by and they refused to worship and bring the child to church. While still an innocent child, the girl became ill and died. Shortly thereafter both the father and mother were converted and became faithful in both worship and work for God. With the language of faith, we would declare that they had to experience loss to experience the highest possible gain.
III. The purpose of chastisement needs to be understood.
A. Chastisement is the proof of the fatherhood of God. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:7).
1. Where discipline is lacking, true fatherhood is wanting.
2. Because we are his sons, God chastises and educates us.
B. In the distresses and trouble of life, God deals with us in terms of his love. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6).
C. God disciplines and chastises his children according to the dictates of perfect wisdom, in order that we might be changed into the image of his holiness. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit” (Heb. 12:9 – 10).
D. Chastisement properly understood and accepted produces peace and righteousness. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11).
The psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted: that I might learn thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71). God seeks men by means of his grace and goodness.
The apostle Paul asked, “Despiseth thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).
By the goodness of his love and by his mercy revealed in the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, God seeks us. If we turn a deaf ear and heart toward God’s goodness, he may seek us through affliction and trouble. He uses this method only as a last resort, to bring the greatest possible good to us after his entreaties of mercy have been spurned. Isaiah challenges each of us: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6).
Sunday Evening, March 8
Title: The Cure for Worry
Text: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:25 – 34
Jesus sought to impart to his disciples a faith in the goodness of God that would cure most of the heartaches and headaches that plague us today. In attempting to bestow the gift of this great faith, he pointed out the perils of letting earthly possessions be our greatest treasure (Matt. 6:19 – 23). He also pointed out the impossibility of a man being both the servant of God and the servant of material things (Matt. 6:24).
I. To be conquered by worry is sinful.
A. Cares and worries are idolatrous (Matt. 6:24).
B. Cares and worries about the means of living are secondary (Matt. 6:25).
C. Cares and worries are useless (Matt. 6:27).
D. Cares and worries are pagan (Matt. 6:32).
E. Cares and worries are injurious (Matt. 6:34).
II. If we are to overcome care and worry . . .
A. We must evaluate ourselves (Matt. 6:26). We need to listen to a sermon from the sparrows. The sparrows work, but they do not worry. It is not work that upsets us and robs us of sleep at night. Rather, it is worry that creates tension that destroys our health and happiness and effectiveness.
We need to listen to a lecture from the lilies (Matt. 6:28 – 29). There are many profitable lessons that we could learn from the beautiful lily that grows out of the mud and dirt to become a thing of beauty exceeding the glory of Solomon.
The God who takes care of the sparrows and provides for the lilies will most definitely take care of his children who trust him, love him, and who seek to obey him and do his good will.
B. We must accept ourselves (Matt. 6:27). “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
There are some things in life that are absolutely unchangeable, and the only proper response to these is that of acceptance. We must not fret and worry ourselves into frustration about the things over which we have no control either in the present, the past, or the future.
C. We must dedicate ourselves (Matt. 6:33). If we would conquer our cares and overcome our worries, we must dedicate ourselves to something bigger than ourselves. We must put first things first. The priority of God’s claim must be recognized. A complete surrender to God and a joyful cooperation with him in the bringing of his rule of love into the hearts and lives of others will do much to help us to forget all of our anxieties.
The God who has given us life also will provide day after day the things necessary for the sustaining of life. Instead of concerning ourselves with the means of living, we would be wise to concern ourselves with the purpose for which we live. To concentrate upon living each day to the fullest for the glory of God will cure us from the harmful effects of worry and make possible for us the abundant life in the here and now.
Wednesday Evening, March 11
Title: The Widow’s Gifts
Text: “There came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing” (Mark 12:42).
The account of the widow bringing her offering is one of the most beautiful scenes in the life of Jesus. Two things stand out in this picture: the Lord and the treasury. Christ was watching the proceedings with genuine interest as the collection was being taken.
I. As Lord of the treasury, Christ was interested: “He sat over against the treasury.”
Why was Jesus interested in the people’s gifts?
A. Money placed therein was a recognition of God’s ownership and of people’s stewardship.
B. Humanly speaking, money is the means by which the kingdom of God is to go forward.
C. Money is pent-up power or force. It can be used to blight or to bless.
D. What we do with our money is an index to our character.
1. Some are pleasure seekers.
2. Some are power seekers.
3. Some invest in God’s work and reveal that their heart belongs to God. The offering plate becomes a throne before which our character is tested. We judge ourselves, and the Christ also judges us. He sees what we give, and we win his approval or his disapproval.
II. Jesus saw several things as he sat by the treasury.
A. He saw much that was commendable. The rich and the poor alike were present.
B. The rich men were present, and they were liberal in their gifts.
C. There was one poor giver present who did not cast in much.
1. She was a poor widow.
2. She had suffered.
3. She knew the pinch of poverty.
4. She had no fear of her home being burglarized.
5. From a human point of view, her future was very uncertain.
III. The language of the treasury: “Money talks.”
A. The two mites spoke of a greater love.
1. The widow did not give because she was seeking applause.
2. The widow did not give because she could afford to be generous. Love was her compelling motive. “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).
B. The two mites spoke of greater sacrifice. The others gave out of their abundance, while the widow gave out of her poverty. What would be your reaction if you had a rich uncle and he sent you a gift — a sixty-cent candy bar?
C. The two mites speak of a great fidelity to God.
1. Faithful in material things.
2. Faithful in spiritual things.
IV. Lessons for the present that bring encouragement.
A. This incident puts the very poorest of us on an equal footing with the richest.
B. This incident reveals to us that Christ looks first at the spirit behind the gift. The spirit is more important than the sum.
C. This incident reveals that the very smallest gifts, if they are our best, win the approval of Christ.
How great is your love for God? Your love for your church? Your love for a lost world? How great is your willingness to sacrifice that others might come to know of the love, mercy, and grace of God? The measure of our sacrifice is the measure of our love and fidelity.
Sunday Morning, March 15
Title: “Be Not Thou Rebellious”
Text: “But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house” (Ezek. 2:8).
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 1:28 – 3:3
Hymns: “I Gave My Life for Thee,” Havergal
“I Surrender All,” DeVenter
“Rescue the Perishing,” Crosby
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, today we bring to you the fruits of our labors in tithes and offerings. We bring these monetary gifts as an indication of our desire to give our hearts and minds and bodies completely to you, for you have been merciful and gracious to us. Every good gift comes from you, and with a heart filled with gratitude, we now worship you with our gifts. Amen.
God warned the prophet Ezekiel against the peril of being rebellious to the divine command even as his nation had rebelled. Israel had rebelled against God’s will. Israel had been stubborn, hard-hearted, and disobedient and thus failed to enter into their spiritual legacy.
Are you aware that it is possible to rebel against the good will of God for our lives even as it was possible for Ezekiel to rebel? Israel’s rebellion had manifested itself in disobedience and in a continuous transgression of the law of God. Are you guilty of rebellion against God?
I. Rebellion may occur because of the difficulty involved in doing God’s will.
A. People sometimes shrink away from a great undertaking.
B. Often our love of comfort and ease will cause us to slip away.
C. There is no easy situation in God’s Service.
D. Success is never automatic or accidental; it always involves self-discipline and diligent effort.
II. Rebellion may be the result of a lack of faith or confidence in God.
The besetting sin of the Israelites was the sin of little faith. They staggered back before the promises of God and neglected to put confidence in his promises.
A. Satan seeks continually to undermine our faith in God.
B. Satan seeks to misrepresent the character of God (Gen. 3:4 – 5).
C. Many have a weak faith because they have never put enough confidence in God on a continuing basis to develop the faith that they are capable of having. Each of us can have a great faith if we will put forth the effort to do that which God commands us to do, trusting him for the help that we need for its achievement.
III. Rebellion may be due to ignorance of God’s purposes for ourselves and others.
Humans prefer to walk by sight rather than by faith.
A. We cannot see the end from the beginning.
B. God sees the big picture, and he has a great overall plan for our lives and the lives of others.
C. God’s purposes for us are always motivated by his love for us. May God grant that we have the faith to believe this.
IV. Rebellion may be due to a false or shallow concept of happiness.
A. We all are tempted to live only for the present. We are tempted to believe that happiness is to be found in material things and in sensual pleasures. We find it easy to think only in terms of self, and this causes us to give God and others a low priority in our thoughts and actions.
B. The highest happiness a person can experience is to be in fellowship with God and in cooperation with his good purpose for others. God would have us to relate our lives to others in terms of unselfish and generous concern for their well-being. This higher happiness is something that one discovers only in experience.
V. The way of rebellion is hard.
For a person to rebel against God is to reject one’s divine destiny and the highest possible happiness that the human heart can know.
Saul, the first king of Israel, rebelled against the will of God for his life. He rationalized and offered sacrifices of fine cattle as a substitute for obedience to God’s will. Samuel, the prophet, came into Saul’s camp with a message from God to the rebellious king: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Sam. 15:22 – 23).
The way of rebellion is the way to death. The way of cooperative surrender to the will of God is the way to happiness and helpfulness.
God has revealed the extent of his love for us in the gift of his Son. God freely gave his Son for us. If we will tarry at the cross and measure the love of God for us, we will be less hesitant to surrender our all to him.
Sunday Evening, March 15
Title: The Model Prayer
Text: Matthew 6:9 – 13
The Sermon on the Mount contains much of our Lord’s teaching concerning the nature and purpose of prayer. It also discloses many of the conditions that must prevail if we are to pray effectively. We must not pray like hypocrites (Matt. 6:5) or like heathens (6:7 – 8). The Sermon on the Mount also contains some very practical, positive teachings concerning prayer. Prayer is everyone’s gift, privilege, and responsibility. The power of prayer is the power that is least exercised by the average believer.
A disciple prayed, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus replied by giving the model prayer. Instead of calling this “The Lord’s Prayer,” we would be more accurate if we called it the disciples’ prayer or the children’s prayer or the family’s prayer or the kingdom prayer. It is a perfect pattern, an accurate blueprint, a wonderful recipe that we should follow in the offering of prayer.
I. The spirit of the model prayer.
A. It encourages a filial spirit — “Father.”
B. It encourages an unselfish spirit — “Our Father.”
C. It encourages a reverent and worshipful spirit — “Hallowed be Thy name.”
D. It encourages an evangelistic and missionary spirit — “Thy kingdom come.”
E. It encourages an obedient and submissive spirit — “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
F. It encourages a humble and dependent spirit — “Give us this day our daily bread.”
G. It encourages a confessing and forgiving spirit — “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
H. It encourages a cautious and trusting spirit — “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
I. It encourages a confident and adoring spirit — “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.”
II. The objective of the model prayer.
A. It addresses the fatherhood of God.
B. It honors the holiness of God.
C. It seeks the glory of God.
D. It trusts the daily love of God.
E. It confesses the forgiveness of God.
F. It craves the deliverance of God.
G. It acknowledges the brotherhood of man.
III. The elements of the model prayer.
There are at least three elements in the model prayer that should be included in your prayers.
A. Communion must be established through recognition, surrender, and confession.
B. Petitions concerning personal needs are to have attention only after consideration has been given to God’s holiness, sovereignty, and good purpose on the earth.
C. Intercession permeates the prayer. He to whom the prayer is addressed is “our Father.” The petitions for daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance are plural.
In this model prayer there are three looks: the up-look, the in-look, and then the out-look. We must look up to God first, and then we can see our real needs as well as the needs of others. Let us seek to follow the perfect pattern given by the Savior when we kneel before the throne of grace in prayer.
Wednesday Evening, March 18
Title: The Gifts of God
Text: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).
If we will consider the nature of God’s gifts to us, our faith will be encouraged, our love will be deepened, and our “thanksliving” will be enhanced.
I. The gifts of God are perfect (James 1:17).
A. They are never harmful.
B. They are always beneficial.
II. The gifts of God are precious (1 Peter 1:18 – 19).
A. The gifts of God are beyond our ability to compute in value.
B. The richest and best gifts that come to us in life are from God.
III. The gifts of God are permanent.
A. Some gifts are of temporary value — flowers, candy, or perfume.
B. God gives to us that which is of eternal significance (John 1:28).
IV. God’s best gifts are personal.
A. Many of God’s gifts are presented to everyone (Matt. 5:45).
B. God’s best gifts are those that are received personally by those who respond to him in faith (John 3:16).
V. God’s most wonderful gift is Jesus.
A. You cannot buy this gift.
B. You cannot merit this gift.
C. You cannot steal this gift.
God is eager to give to each of us the fullness of the presence and power of the Christ who died but who lives again and who will live in our hearts if we will receive him by faith.
Sunday Morning, March 22
Title: Return, Thou Backsliding Israel
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 3:12 – 14
Hymns: “Throw Out the Lifeline,” Ufford
“I Need Thee, Precious Jesus,” Whitfield
“I Am Resolved,” Hartsough
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, today we come to give our tithes and offerings to you for you have given so much for us and to us. We love you because you first loved us. Through our tithes and offerings, we not only worship you, but we preach to the ends of the earth the message of your grace and mercy. Today we pray your blessings upon the missionaries stationed around the world who are seeking to communicate the message of your love to others. Bless them with good success. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The term backsliding is used in several different ways in the Old Testament. It is used with reference to disobedience, unfaithfulness, and failure to measure up to an ideal.
One of the cardinal teachings of God’s Word is that concerning the safety of those who have fully trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This can be observed in a number of Scripture passages (e.g., John 3:16, 36; 5:24; Rom. 8:16).
I. What about the man who claims to be saved and yet lives a sinful life?
A. There is a possibility that he has never been saved.
1. First John 2:19.
2. First John 3:8 – 10.
B. There is a possibility that he is in a backslidden condition.
1. The flesh is the same.
2. The Devil must be dealt with.
3. The world is antagonistic.
C. Examples of backsliders in the Bible.
4. The churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 2 – 3).
II. When is a Christian in a backslidden condition?
A. Often backsliders are unconscious of their true condition. The Devil blinds the minds of the saved as well as of the lost (2 Cor. 4:4).
B. We have some false ideas about backsliders. Many say that only alcoholics, immoral persons, gamblers, and criminals are backsliders. These are sins of the flesh. There are also sins of the spirit (2 Cor. 7:11).
III. How can people know if they are backsliders?
A. If they willingly tolerate even “small” sins in their lives.
B. If their lives are not characterized by an intense hunger and thirst after righteousness.
1. Matthew 5:3 – 6.
2. Psalm 42:1 – 2.
C. If their hearts are not filled with love for others (John 13:35).
D. If they put the material before the spiritual (Matt. 6:24).
E. If they are not rendering Service to the heavenly Father.
1. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16).
2. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
F. If they do not recognize their lives as being a stewardship from God (1 Cor. 6:20).
IV. The solution to the backsliding problem is repentance.
A. Recognize your sin.
B. Acknowledge your guilt before God.
C. Confess and forsake your evil ways.
D. Return to the cross.
E. Return to the church.
F. Return to the Bible.
G. Return to your duty and opportunity.
The wise man said, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself” (Prov. 14:14). Because backsliding is very dangerous, and because the joys of forgiveness are so wonderful, we pray that you will let God heal you of your backsliding (Hos. 14:4) in order that you might regain the full joy of salvation.
Sunday Evening, March 22
Title: “As We Forgive Our Debtors”
Text: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:14 – 15; 18:21 – 22
Repeatedly our Lord spoke of the need for his disciples to have a forgiving spirit.
Forgiveness was an unknown virtue in the ancient world. The pagan ideal was to do as much injury to your enemies as possible.
Forgiveness is a friendly act on the part of God. It is that action in which God restores the offender to a state or condition in which there is no obstacle that prevents the offender from enjoying communion with God. Forgiveness makes peace of mind possible because of the consciousness of divine mercy. Forgiveness removes the fear of punishment and creates love within the heart.
Jesus taught his disciples that even as God had forgiven them of their offenses and transgressions, so they must be willing to forgive others who had offended them.
Peter considered himself to be very generous by his offer to forgive an offender as many as seven times. Jesus shocked him and the other disciples by encouraging an attitude of unlimited forgiveness (Matt. 18:22). Jesus’ attention was focused on the harmful effects of an unforgiving spirit in the heart of the offended rather than on a tolerant attitude toward offenders.
I. The results of an unforgiving spirit.
A. One cannot experience the joy of forgiven sins.
B. One cannot experience the joy of answered prayer.
C. An unforgiving spirit drives people farther and farther apart.
D. An unforgiving spirit makes progress in the Christian life impossible.
E. An unforgiving spirit will rob a person of self-respect.
F. An unforgiving spirit will cause one to consciously live short of the Christian ideal.
G. An unforgiving spirit makes it impossible for one to see his own sins and shortcomings.
H. An unforgiving spirit causes one to live by the principle of hate rather than love.
II. The refusal to forgive places the present and the future under the tyranny of the past.
III. The difficulty of forgiving sins.
A. Sin is a serious matter.
B. On many occasions forgiveness is undeserved.
C. To forgive is not a natural human reaction. “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
D. Some of the injuries that come to us are malicious and deliberate. Our natural inclination is to retaliate.
IV. Results of a spirit of forgiveness.
A. The one who forgives purges himself of the poison produced by hatred and resentment.
B. The forgiver gains a peace of mind and health of spirit not enjoyed by the unforgiving.
C. The one who forgives experiences a sense of cleanness and calm.
D. It makes possible a “beautiful spirit” that others can imitate to their profit.
E. A spirit of forgiveness is bound, as a general rule, to create a change of spirit in others.
F. To forgive is a healing, creative experience.
V. Encouragement to forgive others.
A. The command of the Savior (Luke 17:1 – 4).
B. The example of our Savior (Luke 23:34).
C. Our own experience of forgiveness (Col. 3:13).
It is never easy to forgive those who have offended you and have brought injury into your life, but by the grace of God and with the help of Jesus Christ, you can find both the wisdom and the strength that you need to forgive. First, as a matter of principle, renounce the right to retaliate. Let God deal in vengeance if such is necessary. Second, pray for the strength to forgive and put forth an effort to remove resentful feelings toward the offender. Finally, with God’s help, restore friendly relations. Let the light of God’s love fall on the offender through you.
Wednesday Evening, March 25
Title: What Kind of Gifts Do You Give?
Text: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8).
Most of us celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries of our family and friends by giving gifts. Deciding on the proper gift can be a difficult task, for it is not always easy to know what gift would please a certain person. Perhaps we need to go beyond the giving of trinkets and gadgets and also present others with gifts that show our love and thoughtfulness.
I. Plan to give love.
Christian love has been defined by someone as “a persistent, unbreakable spirit of goodwill,” and everyone needs this. It will be highly prized by those who receive it and will bring joy and gratitude to their lives. By the grace of God and with the help of the Holy Spirit, each of us can plan to bestow this gift upon our friends.
II. Plan to give kindness.
Kindness is love in action. It is sincere courtesy. Kindness can be expressed in many ways. Kindness on your part will make life more beautiful for others.
III. Plan to give understanding.
Deliberately put forth an effort to wear the other person’s coat and to stand in his or her shoes. Put forth an effort to understand the other person’s problems and difficulties. With the love of the Good Samaritan, determine to be of help.
IV. Plan to give praise.
Commendation when commendation is due will lighten the load of the other person. It will challenge him or her to more significant achievement. It does not cost you anything except the time involved in taking notice and in expressing appreciation. Your expression of praise will serve as a bugle call to the other person’s drooping spirit.
V. Plan to give encouragement.
Everyone needs encouragement, and everyone can give encouragement.
God has given us wonderful gifts, and he has bestowed these upon us freely. There are many things that each of us can give, and we should plan to give them on all occasions.
Sunday Morning, March 29
Title: The Plan of the Divine Potter
Text: “The vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:4).
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 18:1 – 17
Hymns: “Holy Ghost, with Light Divine,” Reed
“Make Me a Channel of Blessing,” Smythe
“Have Thine Own Way,” Pollard
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, we thank you for your blessings upon the work of our hands during the past week. We thank you for the ability to work and for the power to make progress in providing for our families. We bring to your altar a portion of that with which you have blessed us, and we present it to you as a token of our gratitude and as an expression of our desire to share the glad tidings of your love with all men everywhere. Bless these tithes and offerings to your purpose. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The biblical background for the great hymn “Have Thine Own Way” is found in the message that came to Jeremiah the prophet while he was visiting a pottery. God spoke to Jeremiah through the elements of nature and the events that were taking place in his nation.
Jeremiah was a shy, retiring young man when the call of God came to him with a revelation of the divine purpose for his life. After several excuses and some hesitation, Jeremiah felt compelled to become a spokesman for God and to warn the people of the consequences of their sin.
Jeremiah preached the love of God, and the people turned a deaf ear to his message. Jeremiah preached and appealed to their reason, but they refused to think logically. Jeremiah preached judgment and condemnation, and still the people continued to live lives of sin.
Jeremiah’s day was similar to our day in many respects. The people were guilty of idolatry while at the same time they were regular in their attendance at temple worship. They were materialists and lived as if this world were the totality of human existence. They were lovers of sensual pleasure and were in continuous pursuit of some new excitement. Most of the people gave no serious thought to the condition of the nation, the circumstances of their own lives, or what the future might hold for them.
Jeremiah went to the potter’s house and saw him as he worked at his wheel. The potter had pliable clay on a revolving wheel that he manipulated with his foot. As Jeremiah gazed upon this scene, there dawned upon his mind several great truths that were of significance both for then and for now.
I. Jeremiah saw a potter who had a purpose.
A. The potter was carefully working with his fingers and with chosen instruments to accomplish a purpose that he had in his mind. He had a specific plan for the vessel on the wheel.
In western Kentucky there is a small pottery that is in many respects very similar to the one Jeremiah visited. The potter there places a piece of clay on the revolving wheel, which is propelled by electricity. He produces various vessels according to the orders of his clients. It is interesting to see how he chooses a certain lump of clay for a particular vessel. After placing it on the wheel, the shapeless mass begins to take form under his fingers. It may become a small flower pot or a tall vase. Under his hand it could even become a birdhouse or a serving dish. The plan of the potter, combined with the pliability of the clay, determines what the vessel is to become.
B. Jeremiah saw God as the divine Potter. As Jeremiah watched the potter, he was given spiritual insight. He saw Jehovah God as the Potter and Israel, his nation, as the clay. Jeremiah believed that his God was sovereign and supreme and that he was also wise and benevolent. He believed that all of the purposes of God toward Israel were good. To hold this belief about God while at the same time being overwhelmed with the fact that his nation faced judgment disturbed him. God used this experience in the potter’s house to help Jeremiah understand.
1. The divine Potter has a purpose for nations. This was true with regard to ancient Israel, and it is true in our modern world. Both the blessings of God and the judgment of God come upon nations as well as upon individuals.
2. The divine Potter has a purpose for individuals. It is the will of God that each of us be converted and that we live a consecrated life to the glory of God and to the good of our fellow humans. God has a general will for all of us and a specific will for each one of us.
3. The divine Potter has a purpose for churches. As the Christ walked in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (Rev. 1 – 3), even so he walks in the midst of churches today. And he wants each of them to serve as his body in their particular sphere of influence.
4. The divine Potter has a plan for your family. He wants to lead and guide you so that you can walk together in a creative relationship that helps each member of the family to experience their full potential. That the divine Potter has a plan for each of us can be both disturbing and challenging. This truth should disturb us from a state of lethargy and should stimulate us to be cooperative. We are on the wheel of God (Phil. 1:6; 2:13). God is seeking to make a graceful, beautiful, and useful vessel out of each of us.
II. Jeremiah observed that there is a possibility of perverting the purpose of the potter.
A. As the potter worked, the vessel was marred in his hand. The vessel could not become what the potter had planned for it to be.
B. Jeremiah saw that Israel was the clay on the wheel and that his nation had resisted the touch of the divine Potter. Israel had refused to recognize God’s divine plan. They had accepted God’s blessings without recognizing their position of responsibility to God and their destiny.
Little thought is given to the divine plans for our nation. Few would even recognize that God has a plan for the nation as well as for the individual.
As an individual have you resisted the molding touch of the divine Potter upon the vessel of your life? Have you starved your soul by neglecting a devotional study of the Word of God and the place of prayer? Have you refused to equip yourself for a greater Service by declining opportunities for training? Have you turned a deaf ear to the voice of God’s Spirit as he has called you either to a deeper devotion to God or to a ministry of mercy toward others?
If we believe that God is love and that all of his ways are wise, then we would be wise to cooperate completely with the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
God has a plan for all my life;
He wants to lead through storm and strife.
He promises His grace divine;
His providence today is mine.
God has a plan, the Scriptures state;
I must with this cooperate.
Half-heartedness will not suffice
When I behold his sacrifice.
— Charles M. Elam
III. Jeremiah saw the infinite patience and persistence of the potter.
“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:4).
A. The divine Potter would not throw the lump of clay on the junk pile after it was marred in his hand. Instead, he crushed it and placed it on the wheel again to make another vessel out of it.
Jeremiah was led to see that the fall of his nation and the captivity of its people was not an indication of the decline of God’s power, nor was it a defeat of God’s purpose. He saw this catastrophe as a part of the process by which God would continue his purpose for Israel and would still make his nation a vessel usable for redemptive purposes.
Today trouble often falls across our pathway. There are times when we are both distressed and depressed. On such occasions it would be profitable if we could see ourselves on the wheel of the divine Potter. The apostle Paul had this great truth in mind when he declared that God works in all things for good “to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
B. God gives both individuals and nations a second chance. God gave Israel another chance to be his people among the nations of the world. To a degree they succeeded and to a degree they failed.
In spite of the failures in your past, the God of infinite mercy and patience still has a work for you. The message about God that Jeremiah learned when he visited the potter’s house is both comforting and challenging. It would declare to us that there is still hope.
Is there a limit to the divine patience? Is it possible for a nation or an individual to pass the point of no return as far as God is concerned? Some evidence indicates that there is a limit, and other evidence encourages us to have hope always. Through Jeremiah, God said to Israel, “I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity” (Jer. 18:17). This verse would cause us to realize that it is very dangerous for us to presume upon the mercy and patience of God.
The apostle Peter encourages his readers to believe that there is hope as long as there is life. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God does not delight in the death or defeat of any man or nation. God would have all come to repentance — to be as pliable clay on the wheel that we might be vessels of beauty, honor, and usefulness.
Sunday Evening, March 29
Title: The Golden Rule
Text: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
Our text is one of the greatest verses in the Bible. It is not only a summary statement of all that Jesus said concerning our treatment of our fellow humans, it also declares that it covers all that the Law and the Prophets have taught on this matter.
The Golden Rule calls for positive action on the level of the second great commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Our text, commonly called the Golden Rule, reveals the superiority of Christ to all other great teachers. The Hebrew teacher Hillel said, “Do not do to thy neighbor what is hateful to thyself.” The Greek philosopher Socrates said, “What stirs your anger when done to you by others, that do not to others.” Confucius gave what some have called the Silver Rule: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
Some have said that these great teachers said the same thing that Christ said in the Golden Rule, but a careful examination of the Golden Rule in contrast with these statements reveals one radical difference: While these statements are negative and passive, Christ’s command to his disciples is positive and active. These great teachers say, “Stand still and do not do what you do not want someone else to do to you.” Christ says, “Go and do what you would that others should do to you.” Christians are not merely to refrain from harming their fellow humans; they are to go and relate to others in the manner in which they would have others relate to them.
I. A very significant “therefore” (Matt. 7:11 – 12).
A. In speaking to his disciples, Jesus was encouraging them, on the basis of God’s good gifts to them (Matt. 7:11), to give themselves in acts of positive goodness toward others. Paul made this same appeal to the Roman Christians (Rom. 12:1).
B. We cannot expect to continue to receive the good gifts of God if we do not relate ourselves to others in terms of positive kindness and helpfulness.
C. We are to treat our fellow humans as we desire to be treated by our heavenly Father.
D. Because God has dealt so bountifully with us, we should follow his example and practice generosity and liberality toward our fellow humans.
E. We are not to let our conduct be determined by how men treat us but rather by how God has treated us.
II. A standard of complete unselfishness.
A. Man by nature is a selfish creature. Most of our troubles are due to our selfishness. Most of our squabbles with others, whether they be at home, at church, at play, or at work, are due to selfishness.
B. Jesus challenges us to rise above our tendency to be self-centered in our human relationships. We can easily determine what our duty toward our neighbor is if we will determine, honestly and sincerely, how we would like our neighbor to treat us.
C. By this rule, Jesus provides us with a clue to the maintaining of a good conscience in all of our contacts with our fellow humans. To follow this rule is to have a conscience that does not condemn us.
D. This rule applies not only to giving but to forgiving. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13). It is utterly vain for us to speak like angels in prayer if we then act like demons in our transactions with our fellow humans.
III. A commendation of the Golden Rule: “For this is the law and the prophets.”
A. In the Golden Rule, Jesus summed up the substance of the teaching of both the Law and the Prophets concerning a person’s relationship with his or her fellow humans. If you would keep the ethical requirements of the Ten Commandments, apply this principle in everyday life.
B. The Golden Rule provides us with the very essence of our Christian duty toward our fellow humans. Consider for a moment what the practice of this principle could mean in your home, between husband and wife, between parents and children. Contemplate what the practice of this principle could mean in your community and in your business.
Abraham practiced this principle in his relationship with Lot (Gen. 13:5 – 18).
Joseph practiced this principle toward his brothers in spite of their mistreatment of him (Gen. 45:1 – 15).
We cannot have the religion of the Sermon on the Mount without the Christ of the Mount. Only those who have experienced the love of God in Christ Jesus can even begin to love others as themselves. Only by the grace of God can one rise up to the high level of living the Golden Rule in every relationship.
In spite of the fact that we have failed in the past and may fail in the future, let us ever pray and strive that we might be able to do unto others as we would have them do unto us — in all things and always.