Sermon Select

A Moral Muddle 8/9/98

Judges 21:25
Page 400 Come Alive Bible

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Jesus Christ gave us a short course in truthfulness when He said: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Mat 5:37).

Simple, isn’t it. Sub-title: “Don’t attempt to deceive.”

When Jesus encountered Nathaniel, who was to become one of His disciples, He said, “Here is an Israelite in whom there is no guile.”

Guile is the tactful art of verbal deception. Nathaniel was a straight shooter. He was candid and up front. He left no doubt about what he meant.

An example of guile is this. Suppose two persons have engaged in certain conduct together. Soon they learn they are going to be asked if they did the deed of which they are accused. One says to the other “When asked if we did just say ‘no we didn’t.’”

When asked did you tell your friend to lie the answer is “No, I didn’t.” To that person he is telling the truth. In that persons mind he didn’t use the actual words “Lie about it” even though he did instruct his friend to give the wrong answer. That is guile.

In the mind of the person exercising guile terms are redefined to suit the users desire. They do what is right in their own mind.

In Judges 21: 25 a society of guileful people is described. They each did that which was right in their own eyes. Each person established their own standard for right or wrong. It was one of the bleakest periods in the glorious history of ancient Israel. Such a national mentality eventually leads as it did then to anarchy.

At a time when the daily news leads with a story of reputed immorality can the church dare be mute on the subject? It is not my purpose to impose guilt on individuals the court has not and may not judged. I want to be candidly clear that I am not saying our president is guilty of any impropriety. The ultimate evidence will determine that. However, we do well to consider public reaction to alleged conduct. A big “IF” hangs in front of all allegations. It is not the President’s alleged conduct that is the subject of this message, but public response to principles associated with claimed conduct. Got it? If you don’t you might very well judge my intent as improper instead of gaining a better understanding of a major moral trend in our national life.

The allegations against the President have unsettled many American Christians and others of high moral standards. All the talk of alleged moral impropriety and criminality has pushed the issue of morals to the forefront.

In assessing our response to the President we should model the behavior of the early church as noted in I Timothy 2: 1, 2: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (I Timothy 2:1, 2).

Most of their leaders were either ignorant or defiant of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Neither Israel’s anointed kings nor Rome’s emperors ever gave evidence of a moral life worth writing home about.

Of rulers and governing authorities one has said, “God rides a lame horse and draws a straight line with a crooked stick.”

Let’s pray for our leaders even if they turn out to be less than advertised.

It is a seemingly broad based approval of alleged conduct that is disturbing. Something is wrong in a society that tunes in daily to see the latest moral mutants on the “Jerry Springer Show.”

When vegetarians and animal-rights advocates debate the morality of eating eggs and advocate abortion something is morally wrong. When protests are held against putting stray animals to sleep but support Dr. Kevorkian’s helping to put people to sleep a moral anchor is missing.

Three major attitudinal changes have emerged in the last decade in America. They each contribute to the popularity of guile.

I. RELATIVISM
In the late 1960’s a book emerged entitled Situation Ethics. The thesis is that the situation determines what is right and what is wrong. There are no absolutes. Thus, what is right for one person at a given time and under a specific circumstance might not be right for others.

Push that out of the envelop and consider what it does to our legal system. It would dramatically impact education.

In chemistry there are absolutes. One atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen always produces H2O, water. That’s an absolute. Think what it would be like in a chemistry lab if there were no absolutes.

There are absolutes in math. Try to convince a math teacher that your answer is different and right from the rest of the class because you did yours at 6:00 AM on Tuesday and the rest of the class did theirs at 8:00 PM on Monday.

In the matter of morals and ethics there must be absolutes. One reason certain groups have worked to have the Ten Commandments taken from public view is they are absolutes. In ruling to remove them from certain public places the court even said they must be removed lest persons looking upon them might come to believe in them as absolutes.

Have you established your core beliefs? That is, have you set your own personal moral and ethical standards and said these are they.

Parents need to be sure they don’t subtly teach children right or wrong is a matter of personal choice. This is done by a parent giving instruction to a child followed by “O.K.” Such as, “Junior, don’t do that, O.K.?” or, “Sissy, pick up your toys, O.K.?” If the child is being given instruction it should be made clear and not optional, “O.K.?”

II. TOLERANCE
Tolerance is the new “virtue” in our society. Tolerance is now taught as one of the basics in school.

Teachers are taught to tell students “We cannot tell you what is right or wrong. You must decide for yourself. We can only tell you what the options are.”

Most of the above 30 population has one understanding of the term and those younger another. It is now a relative term.

For years The American College Dictionary defined tolerance as “the disposition to be patient toward those whose opinions or practices differ from our own…” That is now known as negative tolerance.

For years many have felt it proper to say, “I love you, but I disapprove of what you are doing and your belief.”

That is negative tolerance. That statement is now considered bigotry.

Positive tolerance is defined as “every single individuals beliefs, values, lifestyle, and truth claims are equal.”

To assert your opinion is right and another wrong is to be called prejudiced.

William Penn, founder of the state of Pennsylvania, said, “Right is right, though all be against it and wrong is wrong thought all be for it.” Today he would be called prejudice.

Ask an advocate of tolerance if he is sure there are no absolutes and he will say, “Absolutely!”

Advocates of positive tolerance are tolerant of everything except the Christian belief that there are moral absolutes.

Tolerance has replaced the former virtue of justice.

Justice and what is called “positive tolerance” can not co-exist. Justice is the enemy of tolerance. Justice says there is a moral basis for discerning right from wrong. Positive tolerance says there is not such moral basis.

Secular journalist, Rowland Netaway wrote of the present generation, “They don’t seem to know right from wrong.” Current teaching regarding positive tolerance is the reason.

Such value-free, morally neutral, education opens the door for sources in Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and even Nashville to bombard young minds with thousands of hours of sounds and images that glamorize immorality and mock Biblical values.

King David asked, “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

There are two distinct foundational models of truth:
1. Truth is defined by God for everyone; it is objective and absolute.

2. Truth is defined by the individual; it is subjective and situational.

The first model accepts God not man as the central Source of truth. The Bible is the repository of truth defining right and wrong. In the second model every person considers himself to be the judge of what is right or wrong in a given situation.

Regarding absolutes and tolerance the Bible advocates, “Speak the truth in love.” No guile, just truth.

A lady desiring a parrot for a pet went to a pet store in search for one. Sure enough there was one on sale at a low price. She decided on that one but the store owner urged her not to buy it because it was very bad to curse.

“I can break him of that,” she said.

Once she got the bird home it started cursing. She put it in the freezer for 15 minutes. It came out shivering but as soon as it warmed up it began cursing again. She warned the parrot and put it back in the freezer. This time for 30 minutes. It came out coated with ice crystals and shivering. As soon as it warmed up it began cursing again.

Back in the freezer. This time for an hour. When it came out it was stiff and ice coated. Soon it thawed out. The lady asked, “Are you going to curse any more?” It shook its head “no.” “Are you through cursing?” The head shake indicated a big “yes.”

Then the parrot spoke, “I have a question for you? What did that turkey in the freezer say to you?”

If you didn’t get that you are slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through chunky peanut butter.

Chill out! Speak only the truth in love.

The third factor impacting America’s moral climate is –

III. SUBJECTIVISM
Subjectivism has replaced objectivism.

In Christian ethics and morals the Lord as revealed through the Bible has been the object affording us the standard for right and wrong.

Now the source of right or wrong has shifted from the object, the Bible, to the individual “I.”

“I” am the authority for right or wrong. That brings us back to absolutes. “I,” the subject has no absolutes, everything is relative.

This leaves a conscious free of conviction. The individual becomes “god.” When the moral compass of Scripture is replaced by the will of the individual direction is lost in life. Every person does that which is right in his or her own sight.

Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) are popular. It is a simple little device that is locked on to a satellite. It can tell you where on earth you are within a matter of inches.

If lost you might not like what the GPS shows. You might dispute it and decide to go the direction you desire rather than the one indicated to be correct. The standard remains. You don’t judge the standard, it judges you.

How are we to live in such a culture?

1. When you blow it, confess your sin quickly and repentantly return to the Lord in faith and obedience.

2. Build your faith through the study of God’s Word and prayer.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

3. Be prepared for spiritual conflict against:

A. The world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2: 15, 17).

B. The flesh.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16,17).

C. Satan.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (I Peter 5:8, 9).

He Gave the Gift That Keeps on Giving 12/13/98

II Corinthians 9:15
Page 1695 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST’S birth was God’s way of saying, “Merry Christmas, planet earth. I have a present for you.”

JESUS CHRIST was the reference when Paul wrote, “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift…” (II Cor. 9:15).

The gift is indescribable, inexpressible, marvelous, and wonderful. The gift is Jesus Christ Himself.

Our distinctive southern tongues have a way of making certain words sound alike. Two such words are presents and presence. “Presents” meaning gifts and “presence” meaning to be in close proximity. God’s present to the population of planet earth was the presence of His Son, Jesus Christ.

An appropriate gift does two things:
It reveals the love of the one giving it.
It suits the needs of the one receiving it.

Isn’t it rewarding when you give a gift for the recipient to say, “How like you to give such a thoughtful gift and it is just what I wanted and needed.”

The gift of Christ as Savior does both. Our response should be, “How like you dear God to give me just what I wanted and needed.”

A gift is an expression of the giver’s heart. The recipient gets it but not because it is earned, merited, or deserved. It is simply an expression of the loving heart of the giver.

Wouldn’t it be a magic Christmas if you placed neatly wrapped packages under the tree with names of family members on them and then set up a cash box to collect a fixed sum for each? The moment you received money for one it would not be a gift, but a purchase.

In Bud Blake’s “Tiger” comic strip two little boys were talking about Christmas. One said, “My folks got us an artificial tree this year.” The other little guy asked, “Does that bother you?”

“No,” was the response, “just as long as the gifts are real.”

The gift of God the Father is Jesus. His name evidences the scope of the gift. Jesus means, “Jehovah is Salvation.” Thus, in the end, the gift is salvation.

Suppose God had said, “You can purchase your salvation.” That would have left out millions who are too poor to buy their salvation.

Suppose He had said, “Be good enough and I will give it to you,” or “Do enough good deeds and you can merit your salvation.” Who could have done that much good or behaved that well?

Suppose God had said, “If you do sufficient penance, or suffer enough, you can deserve your salvation.” Some, having a clouded understanding of just how far their sins had separated them from God, might not have performed sufficiently.”

In Rome, Italy I have seen persons climbing stairs on their knees as an act of penance, thinking they were garnering the favor of God by their work.

In Brazil, I have seen persons climb gravel roads on their knees hoping to gain God’s favor by their penance.

There are millions who live under this misconception today.

Suppose God had said, “I am going to grade on the curve and if you score high enough you will pass and get your salvation.” When Jesus entered the earthly scene He messed up the curve.

Instead, God said, “I will give you salvation if you will receive the gift.” The gift is His presence.

I walked through the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, and reflected on an account I had read in the book by Corrie Ten Boom entitled “Christmas Remembered.” It was her memory of her experience in such a Nazi hell hole.

It was Christmas eve. Corrie and the other Christians in the camp had placed meager handmade decorations on a few trees in celebration of Christ’s birth. Beneath some of these trees were the lifeless bodies of fellow prisoners who had died and been thrown there.

Corrie was weary of trying to tell people of the love of Jesus and physically fatigued as she glanced out a crack to see the bodies by the light of the moon. Amid all the moaning and groaning she heard a child’s voice pleading, “Mommy, come to Ollie. Ollie is so alone.”

Corrie knew one of those bodies beneath those trees was that of Ollie’s mother. Corrie went to the bunk of the child and softly said, “Ollie, mommy can’t come, but I want to tell you of One who did come on that first Christmas and that He will come to be with you right now.” Corrie continued to tell how Jesus in love had come to earth and how He lovingly died on the cross of Calvary for our sins. She proceeded to tell little Ollie how the death and resurrection of Jesus enabled Him to provide a lovely house in heaven where there were no cruel people; only those who had love for Jesus and one another. In faith, little Ollie trusted Jesus that night and found great comfort in His presence.

A few days later Corrie saw Ollie with her sores and wounds bandaged only with toilet paper. She could tell the child was in pain but asked anyway: “Ollie, where is Jesus?” With a warm though weak smile the child said, “He is in heaven where He has provided a little house for me.”

“Is He just there in heaven?”

“No,” she said, “He is here with me and when I hurt, I let the pain remind me of His suffering and dying for me to provide that little house in heaven.”

The Nazis saw to it that the little house didn’t stay vacant long. Ollie died and went into the presence of the Lord, all because of a present from the Lord — Jesus Himself was that gift of salvation. Ollie went to heaven because of Christ’s presence.

Let’s consider some passages of Scripture as though they are correspondence delivered to us. First,

I. SPECIAL DELIVERY FROM ZACHARIAS (LUKE 1:5 – 25)
Zacharias and his wife lived in a little hillside town near Jerusalem where he served as a priest in the temple.

An angel appeared to him and told him his wife Elizabeth would have a child.

Verse 18, Zacharias’ understanding of nature prompted him to respond in a natural way and both doubt and question the angel’s message: “How can I know this is true? I am an old man myself, and my wife is getting on in years….” He was so alarmed the angel said, “Fear not…” Well, why not? Why should he not have been virtually terrorized?

The text answers, “Thy prayers have been answered.”

Because of his doubt, God sealed his lips until the birth of his son, John the Baptist. This should be a clear indication to us that God doesn’t like His children going around sowing discord and stirring up dissension.

When his son was born Zacharias began to praise the Lord.

To some, faith comes after hesitation. When it does come, then comes praise.

II. PERSON TO PERSON FOR MARY (LUKE 1: 26 – 55).
In Nazareth a young virgin received an angelic message regarding having a baby. Normal child birth is exciting but this is something special. Husbands often get more excited than wives. Such an excited husband spoke excitedly over the phone, “My wife is pregnant and having contractions every two minutes.”

The operator questioned, “Is this her first child?”

“No, you dummy, this is her husband.”

Parental arrangements for marriage were made for children when at a very young age. This was considered both an engagement and marriage. As they approached marriageable age, they entered into a one year period of betrothal. During this time they lived apart but were legally married. Unfaithfulness during this time was punishable by death.

This process of marriage is the reason secular writings referred to virgins who were widows.

Six months after visiting Zacharias, Gabriel was sent to Nazareth with a message for a teenage girl named Mary.

Mary was frightened and the angel again spoke that familiar line: “Fear not…”

Why not? Because, “You have found favor with God.”

A. Mary said of her son, He was her “savior” (Vs. 47).
Mary was special. She was “blessed” (Vs. 28). What Jesus thought of her and what she thought of Him can be learned from the Scripture.

Christ and Mary must each be acknowledged for what they are.

Some failing to understand the Scripture try to attribute to Mary the work of Christ. Only He saves; not His mother.

Mary never hinted she was savior.

Jesus never hinted Mary was savior.

Mary stated Jesus was Savior. In verse 47 she called Him “my savior.”

Jesus stated He was savior. He said of Himself, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

A Christian receptionist in a doctor’s office tried several times to explain to her friend this basic principle. Over and over she tried to communicate that Mary, His wonderful and blessed mother, could not do what only Christ could do.

One day the lady called and asked to speak to the doctor about a medical problem. The receptionist said, “He isn’t in, but his mother is. Will she do?” Further explanation of this parallel helped the caller understand this truth.

After calming the fears of Mary, that angel told her she was going to have a baby. She never questioned the fact.

She simply asked “How?” (Vs. 34).

The supernatural nature of what was to happen never puzzled her. The Holy Spirit would supernaturally invest an ovum with the germ of life, and the child to be born would be divine.

This clearly teaches Christ was conceived of a virgin. If you deny that, you have an inadequate concept of God. If God couldn’t do that, He couldn’t save anyone. If your view of God is of One who couldn’t do that, in the view of a book authored over thirty years ago by J.B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small, he writes, ” My God, the God of the Bible, could handle that easily, and He did.”

The angel greeted her, “Hail.” The word was CHAIRE which means “rejoice.” She did so in a big way. She did so because she chose to.

The fact that as a single pregnant girl she might lose her beloved Joseph and even be stoned did not repel her. She disregarded the possible social stigma.

Mary then made one of the most courageous statements ever recorded: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Vs. 38).

Her response: “I belong to the Lord, body and soul. Let it happen as you say” (Vs. 38). Self had been brought under God’s control.

How you respond to the Lord determines the direction of your life. You are a sum total of your choices.

Later in life, under different circumstances, Mary said to Christ’s disciples, “Do whatever He says for you to do” (John 2:5). She was urging them to respond as she had responded.

When I left for college, my cousin who had played basketball in college with the man who was to be my coach said, “Whatever he tells you to do — do it. He did twice as much in college as he will ever ask you to do.”

In effect Mary was saying, “Do as I have done.” That is her message to us.

Remember we pray: “Thy will be done…” Not, “Thy will be changed…”

B. Of Mary’s soon-to-be born Son, it was said: (Vs. 32)
“He shall be great…”

“…called the Son of the Highest.”

C. Of Him she said:
“My soul does magnify the Lord” (Vs. 46).

“Magnify” comes from the word MEGALUNEI, which means to laud, to celebrate.

“Don’t you ever get discouraged?” Yes, but I am never going to tell you when I get discouraged because that might discourage you and that would discourage me and I can hardly stand my present discouragement.”

“My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Vs. 47).

The coming of God to her as Savior was the cause of her rejoicing.

Some persons sigh, “I just love Jesus.” If you do, notify your face.

Joy is the banner that flies over the castle of the heart when the King is in residence.

III. RETURN RECEIPT REQUIRED FROM YOU
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2: 8, 9).

Christmas was the time of Christ’s birth. He was the gift, salvation embodied. For the gift to be yours, you must receive it.

Three responses are potential. They are: BELIEVERS, NON-BELIEVERS, MAKE BELIEVERS.

Which are you?

Do you rank among those who say there is “a” Savior or perhaps even Jesus is “the” Savior?

Can you truthfully say, “Jesus is MY Savior?”

“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23a).

A Nation Whose God Is the Lord 6/28/98

Psalm 33:12
Page 822 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ warned the people of His day regarding their hard and unrepentant hearts: “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43).

America has enjoyed the signature blessings of the Lord. God has blessed America. America has born the fruits of the kingdom at times. A great gleaning needs to be done in our society to gather and groom those spiritual qualities inherent in our emergence as a nation.

When the virtues of our young nation are mentioned there are those who seek to deny a Christian influence in our emergence. Some then seek to discredit those of us who espouse such from a historical perspective by saying we want to make America a theocracy governed by Old Testament rules. God Himself doesn’t want that. Those rules were not even intended for modern Israel. They were the civil laws of the young fledgling nation of Israel.

Not even Theo wants America to be a theocracy.

There are persons intent on changing public policy who contend that America was not founded by Christians on Christian principles. A study of the lives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence speaks of their values.

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration 27 had degrees from seminaries.

Reverend John Witherspoon over saw the printing of the Bible by Congress in 1782.

Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress, was responsible for the first translation of the Bible in America and published the Thompson Bible.

Benjamin Rush founded the first Bible Society in America, the Philadelphia Bible Society.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence were responsible for starting 121 Bible Societies in eight years.

Francis Hawkins was responsible for printing the first hymn book in America.

John Adams and Benjamin Rush sat next to each other during the drafting of the Declaration in which 56 men proposed to overthrow the most powerful nation on earth. Rush leaned over and asked Adams, “John do you think we can really win this conflict?” Adams replied, “Yes, if we repent of our sins and rely on God.”

Rush later said he wrote that in his diary so he could teach others it was possible to be Godly and in politics, that those two were not incompatible.

John Adams, who was one of those who signed the Declaration and the peace treaty with England, wrote a letter in 1813 in which he said, “The principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the principles of Christianity. I will now avow that I did believe and now believe that those principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the general attributes and characteristics of God.”

That is what history from the period recorded before modern day revisionists with an agenda began to misrepresent it. Primary sources from the day support the concept that our founding fathers work was an outgrowth of their beliefs in God. Modern day persons trying to bash God want to refute history in their efforts.

Thomas Jefferson has long been considered an iconoclast among our early presidents in matters of religion. Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration of Independence. Some evidence from his early public life indicates he was not a Christian though on occasion he declared he was. His deeds do attest that he subscribed to Christian ethics. While Governor of Virginia he called for days of fasting and prayer. He helped found Bible societies and fund missionaries to Native Americans. Jefferson had a broad understanding of the Bible and quoted it frequently. In starting the University of Virginia he invited the various denominations to establish their seminaries around the University so students could choose their denomination. He thought of it as good to have a non-denominational school.

In the Jefferson Memorial in Washington there are four quotes considered by historians to be his most important statements. Three of the four are God centered.

One of those statements closely parallels our text which says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12).

One quote from Jefferson found in the Jefferson Memorial states: “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Let’s first review some court decisions from the modern era as a backdrop before considering what the founding fathers had in mind.

Encel v. Vitale, June 25, 1962 was the first case to separate religious principles from public education. In this case removing prayer from schools there was no legal precedent ro history cited. No reference was made to the Constitution. Seven members of the Supreme Court making this ruling had no background on court benches. They were all politicians appointed by politicians.

This marked a new direction in the legal system in America. It was to be no longer constitutional law.

Most persons have never heard the prayer that resulted in this legal action. It was: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our Country.”

In these 22 words God is acknowledged one time. He is acknowledged four times in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution is dated “in the year of our Lord.”

Abington v. Schempp was the cause resulting in the prohibition against Bible reading. Without any Constitutional basis it was said doing so could be “psychologically harmful.”

Stone v. Gramm, 1980, the court removed the Ten Commandments from schools even though they said it was a “passive” display, meaning someone would have to stop on their own will to read them.

James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution, said, “We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.” That’s what he thought of the Commandments.

In Jefferson’s letter to the Banbury Baptist he asserted Christian principles were never to be separated from government.

This is an era in which every Christian who is a citizen of this great republic should rededicate self to the God who has granted us such liberties.

Four times in the Declaration of Independence God is acknowledged and reliance on Him referenced. Jefferson started by referring to God as “our Creator.” He goes on to refer to the “Supreme Judge of the Universe.” Mention is made to the “laws of nature and natures God” and speaks of “divine providence.”

Confusion regarding his beliefs related to separation of church and state have arisen from a statement in one of his letters. His response to an appeal from the Danbury Baptist Association that no one denomination be made a national religion has caused this. In his famous response he used the phrase referring to a “wall of separation between Church and State.” What did he mean by that metaphor? The question is “what did he mean,” not what do modern thinkers interpret it to mean?

First, consider why the Baptist wrote Mr. Jefferson. Europeans had fled to these shores seeking freedom of religion. They had come from countries with state churches such as England, France, Holland, and the Netherlands. Others had come from countries that were church states, such as, Italy. In these countries denominations that were not the state supported denomination were discriminated against and often persecuted. Some of this had come over into certain colonies. In those colonies with state churches other denominations were discriminated against and adherents persecuted.

William Penn, the Quaker who founded Pennsylvania, was the first to afford asylum to persons of all faiths.

The Baptist noted that the Constitution did nothing to prevent the government from establishing a national church. This prompted them to write Mr. Jefferson in an attempt to insure the government would not establish a national, or state church.

In his letter of response, in order to insure them there would be no national church, he asserted a “wall of separation” has been established that will prevent the government from doing so. That is all it meant. His conduct thereafter bears this out.

His letter to the Baptists was written on Friday, January 1, 1802. Two days later he attended the first church service in the House of Representatives on Sunday, January 3, 1802. Note: “in the House of Representatives.” He continued to do so for seven years. Church services were held during this time in the House with the Speakers chair as the pulpit, in the Supreme Court Building, the War Office, and at the Treasury Building. Sunday School was also conducted.

Jefferson was a tactful politician. His words and actions were coordinated to fit together like hand and glove in order to convey his policy to the citizens. By attending these services he was attempting to signal to the electorate his support of non-state supported religion. In his view the government could not be a party to imposing a uniform religious exercise or observance. It could on the other hand support as being in the public good voluntary, non-discriminatory religious activities, including church services. As proof of this he put at the disposal of the citizens public property, public facilities, and including public personnel, including the president himself.

Are you ready for this? The Marine Corps Band even played for these services in uniform. Vice President Aaron Burr attended regularly.

Jefferson’s personal financial records reveal he contributed to nine local churches. He was a principal subscriber to the building fund of Christ Church in Washington. His liberality benefitted several church building programs.

To insure there would be no “national religion” established, James Madison introduced the First Amendment to the Constitution. As introduced on June 8, 1789, it directed that no “national religion be established.” To insure that no “national” or “state” religion be established the word “national” was dropped and the amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.”

Later Madison wrote his “Detachment Memoranda” after his second term as president. Therein he wrote: “the constitution of the US forbids everything like an establishment of religion.” Then he corrected himself by inserting a caret, “a national” in front of religion. To Madison and his colleagues the establishment clause meant Congress could not pick one denomination and promote it to the status of an official national religion supported by taxes and with coercive authority. It granted to Congress no power to legislate on religious matters.

Obviously Madison and his colleagues believed the Constitution did allow Congress to support religion in a non-discriminatory and non-coercive way for he like Jefferson and their colleagues did precisely that. They attended worship, appointed chaplains, published Bibles and issued Thanksgiving proclamations, wrote in the Northwest Ordinance, “Religion, Morality and knowledge [were] necessary to good government and the happiness of Mankind.”

To them the separation issue involved not endorsing one denomination over another. It gave freedom to all.

Jefferson’s opinion regarding religion obviously evolved as he matured. The statements that seem to be contradictory are indeed. This is explained by them being made at different stages of his life.

In a letter to Benjamin Rush, dated April 21, 1803 he wrote, “I am a Christian.” “I am a real Christian,”

He wrote Charles Thomson in 1816, I am “a disciple of the doctrine of Jesus.” This phase of his life appears to have started in the mid-1790’s. Beginning at this time and continuing through his presidency he immersed himself in biblical scholarship. In compiling his writings of the Scripture he consulted texts in English, Greek, French, and Latin. His passion for privacy kept him from sharing these works with anyone during his lifetime.

His thought progress brought him into closer agreement with his colleagues with which he had argued in earlier years. He was now ready to concede religion fosters morality and, consequently, had a role to play in a free society. In 1801 he wrote, “The Christian religion brought to the original purity and simplicity of its benevolent instructor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty.”

Later he informed a Presbyterian minister that “Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interest of society requires the observance of those moral precepts…” Still later he confessed to agreeing with his former opponents that “a future state of retribution for the evil as well as for the good done while here” was a crucial concept for the promotion of public morality.

Facts contained herein have been extracted from a scholarly work by James H. Hutson, Chief of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building Manuscript Division, with a forward by Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University, entitled, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic. This well footnoted work is for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office.

Ain’t God Good 9/13/98

Psalm 86:1-5
Page 874 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST whispered words of encouragement in the ears of His disciples and the world overheard Him. On the Mount of Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount He spoke of happiness. For clarity of understanding He spoke of seven facets of a relationship He guarantees will result in a fulfilling and gratifying life. Seven times He said “blessed” are you. In the language of the day the word translated “blessed” was MAKARIOS. It can be translated “blessed, congratulations, or happy.” MAKARIOS had long been used by the Greeks to speak of the blissful and blessed state of their gods. Christ now says in reality you can have true happiness like the Greeks only imagined their gods to have.

The word spoke of a state of being not dependent upon externals. The ancient name of the Island of Cyprus was Makarios. The island was thought to contain everything necessary for a good life. The climate was mild. Soil was fertile and growing conditions ideal. Fresh water was plentiful. In effect, the island was self-contained. This is a picture of what the word really means. In using it Jesus was saying “I can put within you everything necessary to a joyous and productive life. This joy is within and not contingent upon externals.”

This provision He offers every follower. Why then do so few seem to be enjoying it? It is because we have inverted the standard. We have grown to believe happiness is dependent upon externals — things. Having done so we have failed to develop the internal attributes resulting from applying God’s Word.

Recently my dear brother in Christ, Jerry Clower, went to be with our beloved Lord. Jerry had lived in preparation for that moment. When he confronted Christ he wasn’t meeting a stranger.

One of his recordings was made here at Roswell Street Baptist Church. He gave it the title of an expression he often used: “Ain’t God Good!” That “ain’t” good grammar but it is good news. Our text revolves around such good news.

Does it seem to you that you live in a world depicted by drawings seen in some biology books in which a small fish is about to be swallowed by a larger fish which also is about to be devoured by an even larger fish which is in danger of being swallowed by an even larger one. The picture continues with each fish getting bigger. You are always the smallest fish.

Does your life seem like an eight-track tape in a CD world?

Are you like Alice in Wonderland when she had to run as fast as she could just to stay where she was?

Life is such a rat race that they even have cheese flavored tranquilizers.

Someone asked: “What do you think of civilization?” The answer, “It is a great idea. Why doesn’t somebody start one?”

At times it seems we are in a deep forest being pursued by persons whose hands and heads have outgrown their hearts.

In such a world we need to know well the Good Lord.

Without Christ as your guide, all the world can offer you is “cures that don’t cure, blessings that don’t bless, and solutions that don’t solve.” (G.K. Chesterton, God is our Refuge…)

What’s a Christian to do in this mad house?

Realize you are going to have trouble. It never leaves you once it finds you. Acknowledge it will either make you better or bitter. You alone make the choice. Therefore, rely on:

I. GOD’S CHARACTER
With words I can show you what God’s character is like. It is revealed in this story as told by the late Dr. A. J. Gordon. As he came out of his church one day he noticed a young boy with a cage of small field birds. Gordon asked, “What are you going to do with those birds?” The lad’s freckled face lit up as he said, “Look here, mister,” as he pulled on the wing of one, “I like to make them cry out. I’m going to have some fun torturing them some, and then I am going to feed them to my cat.”

Gordon replied, “Son, I’d like to have those birds.” The boy responded, “You really don’t want them. They ain’t good for nothing.”

Gordon and the boy finally agreed on the price of $5.00.

When the boy left Gordon opened the cage door, but the birds refused to move. He finally nudged one out the door and soon the others followed. Gordon said that experience reminded him of a Chinese legend.

One day Jesus was out walking and he came across Satan who had a cage full of people. Jesus asked, “Satan, what have you?”

Wryly Satan replied, “I’ve got the world. I have all mankind in this cage.”

Jesus asked, “What are you going to do with them?”

Satan sneered, “I’m going to promise them everything. Then I’m going to break their hearts and eventually damn their souls to hell without God’s love.”

Jesus said, “Satan I would like to have them.”

Mockingly Satan said, “Jesus you don’t want them. They’ll steal Your money. They’ll desecrate Your day. They’ll blaspheme Your name. They’ll break Your promises. They will break Your heart. You don’t want them.”

Jesus said, “I know the number of hairs on their heads. I know their names. I know their thoughts and I want them.”

Satan taunted, “You’ll have to pay for them.” Jesus said, “I’ll give you gold, the gold of all the universe.”

Gleefully Satan replied, “No, no, no. That’s not enough.”

“I’ll give you wealth untold – pearls, rubies, and all the mountains and all the oceans of the world.”

“That’s still not enough,” said Satan.

“I’ll give you the diamonds of every island and continent.”

“That’s not nearly enough. I want more,” derided Satan.

Then Jesus said, “All right, Satan. Name your price.”

Satan’s lips curled in a snarl as he said, “I want the gold of Your heart, Jesus. I want the diamonds of Your tears. I want the rubies of Your blood. I want You, Jesus. I want you on a cross. But you won’t pay that price.”

Gently, without a word, Jesus began to lay aside His regal robes and make His way to earth.

To understand God’s character keep this story in mind as you reflect on Romans 8: 32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?”

That is the character of the God who has promised you MAKARIOS.

II. GOD’S CAPACITY
FOUR ASPECTS OF HIS CAPACITY ARE CALLED TO OUR ATTENTION IN PSALM 86.

HIS FORGIVENESS – Vs. 5a

We all need forgiveness. General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, “I never forgive and I never forget.” Wesley replied, “Then, Sir, I hope you never sin.”

Never in modern America has the secular press given forgiveness such headlines. Never has forgiveness been more needed by more people. The slippery slide of sin that has led to this was greased by our language. For years the operative word in America was “character.” Words revealing character, good or bad, were used to speak of persons. Words such as “integrity, high morals, honest, trustworthy, loyal, dependable.” Every so imperceptibly the operative word changed to “personality.” Instead of referring to persons with character trait words personality describing language was substituted. Words such as “self- confident, assertive, introspective, self-styled, cool, or with-it.”

Then the avant guard of morals began to tell us right and wrong, good and evil were not separate categories of conduct but relative terms based on ones own subjective experience. Sin was thus easily excused.

Forgiveness is the antidote for this moral malaise. Forgiveness is therapeutic. God intends it to cleanse the soul as well as purge the conscience.

It is renewing in its relationship with the Lord and restoring in human relations.

Karl Menninger, the famed psychiatrist, and founder of the Menninger Clinic, said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75% of them could walk out the next day. It is therapeutic.

We must not forget there are prerequisites to forgiveness. They are: CONTRITION, CONFESSION, AND REPENTANCE.

Contrition means it is more than merely saying, “I’m sorry…” That may only mean, I’m sorry …. I got caught.” That is remorse. Judas had remorse but not repentance.

Contrition means to share God’s broken heart over our actions.

Confession means to agree with God about it and admit it as wrong.

Repentance means to turn from it and turn to the Savior.

Peter’s sin of denial of Jesus was just as bad as the sin or betrayal by Judas. Judas was remorseful, Peter was repentant.

Many love to rely on the story of the woman caught in the act of sin who was brought to Jesus and He said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee…” That is beautiful. However, we must not forget the rest of the story. Jesus continued, “Go and sin no more.” Translated: “Quit your habitual sinning in this manner.”

Other accounts of forgiveness involve Moses and David.

Moses was instructed in a time when water was desperately needed to speak to the rock of Miraba and it would give water. Moses disobeyed and instead of speaking to the rock he struck it. He repented and was forgiven. Wonderful story!

David committed two horrendous sins. He set-up a young loyalist named Uriah to be murdered and he also committed adultery. Two for one. He repented and was forgiven.

The natural consequence of sin is often overlooked in the stories of these two monoliths. Moses repented and was forgiven but he wasn’t allowed to enter the land of promise.

David repented and was forgiven but not allowed to build the temple. Solomon, his son was given that privilege.

They had disqualified themselves for these roles by their own sinful conduct.

Christians sometimes get confused at this point. They equate forgiveness of sin with acquittal by the law. They are not the same. Forgiveness is an act of grace. Acquittal is an act of law and may not apply even when sin is forgiven.

Simply stated there is a natural consequence to our actions.

HIS MERCY – Vs. 5b. You may have messed up your life. This is God’s Red Cross station for you. God is ready to forgive. Therefore, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16).

A mother pleaded with Napoleon to have mercy on her condemned son. The Emperor said, “He doesn’t deserve mercy.” Replied the mother, “I know he doesn’t deserve mercy. If he did it wouldn’t be mercy.” Mercy with its twin sister grace are unmerited favor given sinners.

A man wanted to treat himself to a shave by a barber. This almost lost art, he heard, was still performed in a local barber shop by a young woman named Grace. After the shave he was astounded when told it was $35.00. Nevertheless, he paid up and thanked Grace.

The next morning he looked in the mirror and didn’t need a shave. In disbelief this continued for two weeks. He returned to the barber shop and found his pastor there. He pulled his pastor aside and asked if he had ever gotten a shave there. Sure enough he had. The man explained he had not needed a shave since getting shaved there. The pastor said, “There is an easy explanation. Once shaved always shaved when you have been shaved by Grace.”

Once our Lord saves us we have been saved forever but stand in the need to perpetual forgiveness.

HIS POWER – Vs. 10. Power is the ability to achieve purpose. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6: 10).

“You will be filled with His mighty glorious strength so that you can keep going no matter what happens–Always full of the joy of the Lord” (Colossians 1: 11 TLB).

HIS UNDERSTANDING – Vs. 15. Notice these traits of His understanding in this one verse: “compassion, gracious, longsuffering, mercy and truth.”

This is a display of some of God’s goods for you. Don’t be like a window shopper who APPRECIATES but does not APPROPRIATE.

His Word was never meant for our scrutiny, or mere study, but our support and instruction.

III. GOD’S CALLING Vs. 11 “I will walk in thy truth…”
David prayed, “Unite my heart to fear thy name.” He wanted every fiber of his being united in reverence to God’s name. Rivet your attention on Him.

Never let the spotlight go off Him from the moment you awaken. Keep Him at center stage of your thoughts from the instant the curtain goes up on a new day.

Let your heart be united in Him. A divided heart is never at peace. The heart can never be united in sin. The Holy Spirit, in love, keeps pulling at it.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote of a divided personality in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Tragically the story ends with the triumph of evil. You make the choice of which prevails in your life.

What makes you eternally significant is what you chose to do or refuse to do. You make the decision. As we decide our lives are formed and our eternal destiny is determined.

[Hold up a seed and remark:] The content of this seed can be determined clinically. Basically it consists of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, etc. An artificial seed can be made using these components. However, one thing would be missing — the life principle. It must come from another source. One’s life needs the super-additive called ETERNAL LIFE.

What’s a Dad to Do? 6/21/98

II Chronicles 34:1-3
Page 687 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ taught us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven….”

What is your image of the Father God?

No person arrives at the house of God without their “pet God” under their arm. For some the image of this “pet God” isn’t a very good one. That’s because our negative image of God is often rooted in our emotional hurts and destructive patterns carried with us from our past based on our experience with people.

Our perception of God is often an emotional not an intellectual one. It is based on our experiences with people not our study of God’s Word. Our God image should be based on Scripture but psychological studies show it is often arrived at slowly by observing people —- especially our dads.

At Sunday School a child is taught “God loves you.” If the child’s perception of God is based on experience with its natural father the concept of God might be of an unstable, rejecting, abusive person who can’t be trusted.

Dad’s your influence is critical to a child’s spiritual development.

If a dad is impersonal and uncaring, one who will never intervene on the child’s behalf, God is seen in that light. The child grows up feeling God is disinterested in its needs and can’t be gotten close to.

If a dad is pushy and inconsiderate God is thought of as one who makes you feel cheap and undeserving, that is, one who deserves to be taken advantage of by others.

If a father is a drill sergeant, demanding more and more and never showing approval the child feels unaccepted by God. This often results in an adult who is never sure of salvation. Having an authoritative figure in life that can never be pleased is often transferred to God who can never be satisfied. This person keeps praying over and over to be saved without ever having confidence of salvation. They think they can never do enough to please God.

If a father is seen as a weakling who can’t be looked to for help God is considered to be incapable of helping.

NOW THE POSITIVE.
If a father is patient God is seen as patient, forbearing, and long suffering.

If a father is kind God is thought of as kind and gracious.

If a father is giving God is seen as supportive.

If a father is protective God is seen as a shield and defender.

Ideally, instead of our concept of God being derived from our association with people such as our earthly father, the fathers concept of his role should be derived from the model set by our eternal Father God. The Lord God modeled fatherhood through His relationship with His own Son. When the Father spoke of His Son He did so in terms of endearment, “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” Earthly fathers should speak kindly and encouragingly of their children.

Jesus continued to model fatherhood by constantly reaching out to children.

For the importance of fatherhood to be restored in America we are going to have to recapture the importance of marriage. Americans love to get married. When we become as interested in staying married as in getting married the institution will prosper.

A Sunday School teacher asked children how many times should a person marry. Instantly one child responded, “Sixteen!”

The child was so certain she asked how do you know. Replied the child, “The preacher said so at the wedding last week. ‘Far [four] better or for [four] worst, for [four] good or for [four] evil. That’s sixteen.”

Children have a delightful way of putting things in perspective. Erma Bombeck tells of one such child.

This little girl loved her dad but wasn’t quite sure what dads do. She tells her own story.

“I hadn’t thought that much about dad before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened jars of pickles no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn’t afraid to go into the basement by himself.

He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it.

It was understood that when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door.

When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled.

He took lots of pictures —- but was never in any of them.

Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, ‘I’m going off to work now,’ and threw him under the bed.

Then one morning daddy didn’t get up and go to work. He went to the hospital instead and died. We had never had so much company and food before.

I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him, I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn’t know his leaving would hurt so much…”

Dads, those of you who voluntarily absent yourself from the lives of your children your going away hurts so much.

The little girl didn’t know what dads do. Let’s examine the life of one and learn some good things for all of us to do, but especially dads.

There are numerous studies showing the advantages of having a contributing dad in the home. In reality every home does not have one. If you are a child in a single parent home I want to encourage you by relating to the story of a child whose dad died when he was eight. He overcame this liability and an even greater one. His name was Josiah son of Amon, the evil King of Israel. His grandfather was Manasseh also an evil king. As a college student I heard Billy Graham preach a sermon entitled, “The Meanest Man Who Ever Lived.” It was Manasseh.

To aid in overcoming the liability of not having a living dad and being the product of a home with a corrupt heritage, he chose a role model. II Chronicles 34: 2 spoke of “his father David.” This meant a descendant of David. The David he modeled his life after was the repentant David who was “a man after God’s own heart.”

At the age of eight he became King of Israel.

Don’t give up on yourself if you are a fatherless child.

Don’t give up on yourself if you have a vile and evil dad. Do as Josiah who determined to – – – –

I. SEEK THE GOD OF HIS FATHER DAVID VS. 3c
David had many weaknesses and numerous failures. Josiah chose the lifestyle of David as a man back in fellowship with the Lord. It impacted him dramatically.

It has been determined that the most influential times in a child’s life is between ages 30 months and five years and during early adolescence.

Current research shows three things in the lives of parents, especially dads, influence the faith life of children. Those who:

Research shows that the average teen in our churches spends only two minutes a day in meaningful dialogue with dad. Alarming as it is 25% of the teens say they have never had a meaningful conversation with their father. That is, a talk centered on the teens interest.

A study from Cornell University shows fathers of preschool children on the average spend 3.7 seconds per day in real contact with their youngsters. In contrast children spend approximately 54 hours a week watching TV.

While parents have not been watching, TV has slipped a false image of the family under their door. A contorted imagine of their “pet god” has been included as a supplement. Laughter has been the lubricant making it easy to slip in false concepts of the family.

Previous generations have been laughed at for laughing at “Father Knows Best” and “Leave It to Beaver” the present generation is developing character while laughing at “Bart Simpson” and “Married With Children” that depict fathers as bumbling, befuddled, or beastly.

Dads, children tend to spell love —- “T I M E.”

American fathers spend less time with their children than fathers in any other countries in the world except Britain. Today’s American father spends 40% less time with their children than any previous generation.

Charles Francis Adams was a prominent 19th century political figure who kept a diary. One day he entered the following: “Went fishing with my son today —a day wasted.”

His son Brook Adams also kept a diary and made the following entry on the same day:

“Went fishing with my father — the most wonderful day of my life!”

Children value the time spent with their parents.

HOW TO TEACH A CHILD
I tried to tach my child with books,
He only gave me puzzled looks.
I tried to teach my child by word.
They passed him by, often unheard.
Despairingly, I turned aside,
‘How shall I teach this child?’ I cried.
‘Come,’ said he,
‘Play with me!’

David, even though king, evidently spent time with young Josiah who consequently sought the God of his father.

II. SET THE HOUSE IN ORDER VS. 3C “HE BEGAN TO PURGE”
A. THE CAUSE OF CONTRITION (Verse 19)
Without a mirror it is difficult to determine how we look. The Word of God acts as such a mirror to help depict our spiritual condition. “Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord” (Vs. 14) and it was read before the king. When it was Josiah saw himself and his people in light of God’s Word. When he did it caused him such grief that he spontaneously engaged in a custom of his day, he “tore his clothes” (Vs. 19). This was a sign of grief and remorse.

B. THE CONSEQUENCES OF CORRUPTION (Verse 21) “THE WRATH OF THE LORD

C. THE CONDITION OF CORRECTION (Verses 26, 27)
“YOU HUMBLED YOURSELF BEFORE THE LORD WHEN YOU HEARD HIS WORD…”

I have a friend, David Simmons, a former member of the University of Georgia football team and corner back for the Dallas Cowboys. He tells of his father a former military man who was extremely demanding and who rarely said a kind word. He constantly pushed David with harsh criticism to do better. His dad had obviously decided he would never allow his son to feel any satisfaction from his accomplishments. He constantly set challenging goals and never complemented Dave of those reached.

When Dave was a little boy his dad gave him a bicycle, unassembled, with command to put it together. Dave struggled to the point of tears with the complex directions. His dad said, “I knew you couldn’t do it,” and took over.

When Dave played football in high school his dad was unrelenting in his criticism. After every game his dad would go over every play in their back yard and point out Dave’s every error. Dave said, “Most boys got butterflies in their stomach before the game; I got them afterwards. Facing my dad was more stressful than facing the opposing team.”

By the time to go to college he hated his dad and his demands. He chose to leave Louisiana and play for UGA because it was the school farthest from his home that offered him a scholarship.

After college he became a second round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals. Joe Namath was the clubs first round pick. Dave was so excited he called his dad to tell him. His dad said, “So, how does it feel to be second?”

During Dave’s time in college Christ came into his life. His bitterness toward his dad disappeared. Gradually he began to try to build a bridge with his dad.

Dave learned something during this time about his grandfather. He had such a violent temper he once destroyed a pickup truck with a sledgehammer because it wouldn’t start. He often beat his son. This insight caused Dave to have compassion not contempt for his dad.

One day Dave spoke here in our church. It was the first time we met though we had grown up only five miles apart and a few years. He learned I was going to visit my parents. He asked that I visit his dad and if possible tell him about the Lord. His dad ran a feed store. I went by to see him and was told he was out back in the warehouse. The Lord gave us instant rapport. He learned right away we had relatives who were close friends. Gradually the conversation turned to Christ and we sat down on sacks of feed as I told him of Christ’s love for him. That day he became Dave’s brother by faith in Christ. Dave later said they became friends before his death. Christ made the difference.

Next Josiah —-

III. SOUGHT TO SERVE THE LORD VS. 8C “REPAIR THE TEMPLE”
Josiah rediscovered the Torah, which consists of the first five books of our Bible. He restored it to its proper place as God’s guide for life for that era. It became the inspiration for reestablishing God’s will in the life of the community.

Verse 27 explains why the radical transformation in the life of Josiah and the community was possible: “because your heart was tender.”

This resulted in a devout spirit of self- humiliation before God (Vs. 27).

He engaged in a “purge” (Vs. 3c and 8). If being “salt” and “light” means anything it means being a purging and preserving agent in society. Dads take the lead. Purge your Internet viewing, your TV programming, and your reading lists. Lead by example. Let your standard for yourself be known by your children.

He evidenced devotion in that he determined to “repair the house of the Lord his God.”

He didn’t have a false “pet God,” but was given a proper concept of God by modeling his father David. He became pro-active in serving the Lord.