Why Can’t Life Be Simple?

Posted by on February 28, 1999 under Sermons

Life is not simple. It never has been simple. No period in my life has been simple. Nothing simplifies life. Money does not. Success does not. Status does not. Accomplishment does not. Pleasure does not. “Dropping out” does not. Being irresponsible does not. There are only two types of people who affirm that life is simple: those who live in denial and those who live in self-manufactured pretense.

Why can’t life be simple? An endless list of things complicate life. Just one item on that list forever occurs. The unexpected always happens, and it is never predictable. The only thing predictable about the unexpected is that it will happen.

Spiritual existence is not simple. Serving God is not simple. Being godly is not simple. Accepting responsibility is not simple. Living in relationships is not simple. Accepting forgiveness is not simple. Living in forgiveness is not simple.

Why can’t we make life simple? Because there is a war going on. God and Satan are at war. They are at war in our world. They are at war in our society. They are at war in our city. They are at war in our families. They are at war in our individual lives. War complicates every aspect of life.

Then what are we to do? Never take our eyes off of God and His work in our lives. Never take our eyes off of Jesus Christ and his work in our lives.

Ephesians 3:14-21, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

The better we understand and trust the purposes of God, the more certainly the chaos of life is transformed into the purpose of life.

What If God Were the Glue?

Posted by on under Sermons

I frequently have talks with myself. In those talks, I often make an important statement to me. I find it quite necessary to repeat this statement to me often. It helps me with my perspective. It challenges me to be careful when choosing my focus. It reminds me that I must see and identify pride when it raises its head in my life. It tells me to listen carefully. It reminds me that my knowledge is truly limited. It reminds me that the temptation to be self-centered is a powerful temptation.

“That must be some statement! What statement does all that?” It is quite simple, but profoundly true. The statement: “It is about God; it is not about me.”

  1. As God’s children, we are powerful tempted to make Christianity about us instead of about God.
    1. All of us fall to that temptation more often than we admit, even more often than we realize.
      1. When we are so impassioned about being right, often our passions are about us, not about God.
      2. When we are so definite about what should be done, often our inflexibility is about us, not about God.
      3. When we are so judgmental, often our condemning spirit is about us, not about God.
      4. When we are so severe in our evaluations, often our severity is about us, not about God.
      5. When we have no conviction, our lack of conviction is about us, not about God.
      6. When we are uncertain about what should be done, our uncertainty is about us, not about God.
      7. When we approve of anything, our generous approval is about us, not about God.
      8. When we refuse to make evaluations, our refusal to measure anything or anyone is about us, not about God.
    2. Humor me for a moment. I accept as fact that every person who is here by choice this morning has faith; I do not question that.
      1. May I ask you a question about your faith?
        1. In whom do you place your faith?
        2. Is your faith in God, or is it in yourself?
      2. Each of us has an instinctive spoken answer and an unspoken reality answer.
        1. Our instinctive spoken answer is, “Without doubt, my faith is in God.”
        2. Our unspoken reality answer is not that definite because too often we see ourselves as taking care of God instead of God taking care of us.
        3. After all, what would God do if we did not take care of Him?
  2. Having faith in God basically means trusting God.
    1. But what is involved in trusting God?
      1. There are different levels of trust, and those levels reflect the level of our personal spiritual maturity.
      2. Level # 1: We trust the facts.
        1. At this level trust is fact centered.
        2. We believe that God exists, that God sent Jesus, that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus lived as a man, that Jesus was crucified, that Jesus was raised from the death, and that Jesus ascended back into heaven to be with God, and that Jesus is Lord and Christ.
        3. We trust those facts to be true, and that is what we mean when we say that we have faith.
      3. Level # 2: Our faith is crisis centered.
        1. When there is a crisis in our lives, we ask God for help.
        2. We believe that He can help.
        3. We believe that He will help.
        4. We believe that we should trust God when we have a crisis.
        5. When we find ourselves in a crisis, we trust God.
      4. Level # 3: Our faith is decision centered.
        1. When we must make a decision, we ask God to help us make the right decision.
        2. God understands the consequences of the decision better than we do.
        3. God understands the significance of the decision better than better than we do.
        4. It would be foolish and arrogant to make an important decision without involving God in the decision process.
        5. We should trust God to help us with our decisions.
      5. Level # 4: Our faith is “will of God” centered.
        1. We accept as fact that God has a will.
        2. We accept as fact that God’s will directly involves us.
        3. We want God’s will to be done in our lives.
        4. We invest time and prayer in trying to determine God’s will in specific matters.
        5. We want to know specifically what God wants us to do.
        6. We believe we should entrust our lives to the will of God.
      6. Level # 5: Our faith is centered in spiritual existence.
        1. If things go well in our lives, we trust God and thank Him.
        2. If things go poorly in our lives, we trust God and thank Him.
        3. If we are in good health or in sickness, we trust God.
        4. No matter how confusing, uncertain, frustrating, or traumatic things are, we trust God.
        5. No matter how good, opportune, blessed, fulfilling, or rewarding things are, we trust God.
        6. Trusting God defines who we are in all circumstances.
    2. How is the depth of our faith revealed?
      1. I question that the depth of a person’s faith is revealed when everything is going wonderfully in his or her life. I do not deny that some Christians use great blessings as devout stewards, and it takes exceptional faith to do that.
      2. I think that the depth of our faith is revealed in the worst of circumstances when it appears that Satan is in complete control. Being in control of nothing has a unique way of revealing who and what we trust.
      3. The depth of our faith is more likely to be revealed by our struggles and doubts than by our blessings and good times.
      4. Why? The depth of our faith is revealed by our dependence on God, not by merely by the strength of our convictions.
  3. Please allow me to come inside your head and your heart.
    1. I want you to have a conversation with yourself; I assure you that I have conversations with myself all the time.
      1. I do not want to oppress you or put you on a guilt trip.
      2. I just want you to think, to think seriously, and to look at what is happening in your life from a different perspective.
      3. One of Satan’s favorite tactics is to fill and stress our every day lives to the point that we spend our lives reacting instead of thinking.
    2. First, let me talk to those of us who are single.
      1. What holds your life together?
        1. Your job? Fulfillment in what you do?
        2. Your accomplishments? The fulfillment of being successful?
        3. Money? Do you measure personal significance in what you earn?
        4. Possessions? Does what you own make you feel good about yourself?
        5. Pleasure? Is having fun what makes your life worth living?
      2. If something happens within the next year that:
        1. Causes you to lose your job and accept work that does not fulfill you.
        2. Ends your accomplishments and your feelings of success.
        3. Reduces your income so low that you cannot pay your bills.
        4. Places you in such deep debt that you own nothing.
        5. Ends having fun.
        6. What will hold your life together?
    3. Let me talk to those of us with a family.
      1. What holds your family together?
        1. Convenience? Is it more convenient to stay together than to separate?
        2. Economic necessity? Do you stay together because financially it would be very hard to make it alone?
        3. Reality? Do you have good friends who have divorced and you see the horror and pain they lived through?
        4. The kids? You refuse to subject your children to the pain and anxiety of separation, so you make personal sacrifices to “hang in there?”
      2. If something happens within the next year that:
        1. Makes it very inconvenient to keep the family together.
        2. Makes economic sacrifice acceptable.
        3. Makes life in the family worse than the reality of separation or divorce.
        4. Awakens you to the pain and anxiety your children have right now.
        5. What will hold your family together?
    4. Let me talk to all of the members of this congregation.
      1. What holds us together as a congregation?
        1. Doctrine? The assumption that everyone believes doctrinally what you believe?
        2. The focus that you desire or prefer? Members see things like you see them?
        3. The priorities that you desire or prefer? Your top ten most important things are everyone’s top ten desires?
        4. Facilities and programs? We own and build what you want, and we do what you want done?
      2. What if something happens within the next year:
        1. That magnifies our doctrinal differences? Will you stop loving and respecting people here because they do not believe what you believe?
        2. To change our focus? You see many members looking at things differently than you look at them.
        3. To change our priorities? Your top ten things are not the congregation’s top ten things.
        4. To radically change our facilities and our programs? We cannot have what you want us to have and we cannot do what you want us to do.
        5. What would hold this congregation together?
    5. One more set of questions.
      1. If God were the glue that held your life together every day, how would your life be different?
      2. If God were the glue that held your family together every day, how would your family be different?
      3. If God were the glue that held this congregation together every day, how would this congregation be different?
      4. How can God be the glue if we don’t trust Him? How can God change our lives, change our families, change our congregation if we don’t trust him?
      5. What God is allowed to do in our lives, our families, and our congregation is determined by us, not by God.
        1. He exceeds our imaginations if we trust him.
        2. He can do nothing within us if we don’t.

Psalm 62:1-8 My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. How long will you assail a man, That you may murder him, all of you, Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence? They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position; They delight in falsehood; They bless with their mouth, But inwardly they curse. My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

[Song of Reflection: 71, As The Deer]

How does God know that you trust Him? How does Christ’s place in your life reveal that you trust God? In what matters do you trust God?

“Wow! What Faith!”

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

An officer in the Roman Army met Jesus when he arrived in Capernaum (Matthew 8:5-13). The officer had a paralyzed servant in great pain. He asked Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus agreed to come heal him. The officer said “no” to Jesus coming. “I am unworthy of having you enter my house. All you need to do is command that my servant be healed, and it will happen. I know what it means to have authority. When I command one of my soldiers to do something, he does it.”

This officer was astounding. He was not a Jew. He did not have the advantages of a life spent in the synagogue. It is unlikely that he knew about God’s interaction with Israel through the centuries. But he recognized power and authority when he saw them. He saw Jesus’ miracles for what they were. He accepted them for what they were. Many Pharisees, Sadducees, and Jewish scribes never saw what he saw.

This officer cared about his servant. He cared that he was paralyzed. He cared that he suffered. How much did he care? He was an officer in an occupation force that was hated for what it did and what it represented. He dared make a request of a Jewish man. He did not command, order, or threaten Jesus. He asked Jesus. He risked ridicule, rejection, and contempt because he cared about his servant.

This officer was truly a humble man. Roman military officers were not known for humility. The officer not only recognized power and authority when he saw them, but he also recognized position when he saw it. I do not know what identity he ascribed to Jesus, but I know what he thought of Jesus. Though the officer commanded one hundred fighting men, he knew that Jesus was infinitely superior to him. How superior? He felt unworthy for Jesus to enter his house–true humility, not false modesty!

This officer was a man of incredible faith. His servant’s health did not depend on Jesus’ presence. Nor on Jesus’ proximity. Nor on having Jesus speak to or touch the servant. It depended on nothing more than Jesus’ command. If Jesus said the servant was healed, when the officer returned home the servant would be well.

Jesus had not found that much faith in a single Israelite. Not even Peter, Andrew, James, and John who had the trust to leave everything to follow Jesus had this faith.

I wish that Jesus could look at us and say, “Wow! How they trust me! I have not found that much faith among Christians in the USA!” Why would I wish that? So we would be superior? No. I wish we were that caring, that humble, and that trusting.

The Wrong Kind of Love

Posted by on February 21, 1999 under Sermons

Learning how to study is a cumulative, continuing process that develops progressively. Study produces growth, and growth advances study. Growing in the ability to study scripture involves much more than learning the meaning of words. The goal is to understand scripture’s message in the clearest, deepest terms possible.

It is easy to think that studying scriptures involves no more than putting together verses or sentences that use similar words or similar thoughts. If that is all we do, we learn words and thoughts without learning the message.

  1. When we read the first two chapters of 1 John, we need to immediately ask, “What is happening? What is going on?”
    1. Obviously there were:
      1. Christians who were self deceived about having fellowship with God.
      2. Christians who thought they could live an evil lifestyle and still practice the truth.
      3. Christians who were so confident that they did not sin that they claimed to have no sin.
      4. Christians who thought that they could hate some Christians without that hate affecting their faith or faithfulness.
      5. Christians who thought that they could live in God’s light even if they caused another Christian to stumble and fall away from Christ.
    2. It seems that John anticipated that some would ask why he wrote this letter.
      1. In 2:12-14, John addressed three groups twice: the young Christians, the mature Christians, and the maturing Christians.
      2. “I am writing you, young Christians, because your sins are forgiven, and you know the Father.”
      3. “I am writing you, mature Christians, because you have known God for a long time.”
      4. “I am writing you, maturing Christians, because you have overcome Satan, you are strong, and the word lives in you.”
      5. All of them (young Christians, mature Christians, and maturing Christians) needed a clear understanding: you must love Christians; you must not love that which opposes God.
  2. You must love Christians; you must not love the world.
    1. What did John mean by not loving the world?
      1. John was not referring to the earth, to created matter, to nature, to this physical creation.
        1. God is the origin of the physical creation, and when God brought it into being it was good (Genesis 1:31).
        2. When you read the Psalms, the creation is declared to be the hand print of God; to David the physical world was a powerful evidence of God’s wondrous existence (Psalms 8 and 19, for example).
        3. John was not saying the spiritual is good and the physical is evil.
      2. John already had stated that Christians who hate Christians are blindly walking in the darkness and do not know where they are going (2:11).
    2. The world is that which rejects God and opposes God.
      1. It is that which refuses to be in subjection to God.
      2. It is that which opposes God’s influence and purposes in people.
      3. Regardless of how they present themselves, the world is all the spiritual forces that oppose God and produce evil in people.
  3. Look carefully at what John said.
    1. Christians must love Christians.
      1. Why? Because we are all alike? No!
        1. Christ saves people living in every human diversity that exists.
        2. He saves from among the earthly wise and the earthly ignorant.
        3. He saves from every race and every culture.
        4. He saves from the educated and the uneducated.
        5. He saves in every social and governmental environment.
      2. What do all these people have in common? Only one thing: Jesus Christ.
        1. They all receive the mercy and grace of God.
        2. They all are forgiven.
        3. They all are sons and daughters to God.
        4. God clothes all He saves with Christ by placing each of them in Christ.
      3. Christians love anyone who belongs to God, who is in subjection to God, and who is committed to God purposes; that means Christians love Christians.
      4. Christians do not love the things or the forces that oppose God, reject God, or work against God’s purposes; that means Christians do not love the world.
    2. It is impossible to love God and to love the world at the same time.
      1. God and the world are mutually exclusive.
        1. Love for God rejects and opposes love for the world.
        2. Love for the world rejects and opposes love for God.
        3. Each of them works for dominance in the life of the person.
        4. The dominance of one seeks to destroy the other.
      2. See the very distinct contrast:
        1. We know that we have come to know God if we keep His commands (2:3).
        2. Keep the old commandment and the new commandment (2:7,8).
        3. What old and new commandment? Love Christians (2:10,11).
        4. Do not love the world, nor the things in the world (2:15).
    3. John gave three examples of ways that we must not love the world.
      1. These are not the only three ways to love the world.
      2. However, they are three basic ways that people should easily identify in every age.
      3. The first is the lust of the flesh.
        1. The word “lust” is used here to mean the desire for something forbidden.
        2. The lust of the flesh appeals to the things that work against God by stimulating the Christian’s desire for physical pleasure.
        3. The list of sensual, physical pleasures that oppose God in our lives is very long.
        4. Examples include any physical desire that opposes God’s influence in our lives and God’s purposes in us: the abuse of sexual desires; greed; recreation that glorifies pleasure as the supreme human concern; escapism through addiction; anything that focuses us on physical gratification in opposition to God.
      4. The second is the lust of the eyes.
        1. Again, these desires rivet our attention on the forbidden.
        2. Our eyes are the doors to mental and emotional desires.
        3. We get mental or emotional pleasure by looking at or fantasizing about situations that oppose God’s influence in our lives.
        4. This lust includes things like pornography, the power and greed produced by money or possessions or social position (the “look who I am” mentality), jealously, or the “I want what is yours” mentality.
        5. Anything that moves us in the direction of ungodly pride usually involves the lust of the eyes.
      5. The third is the pride or vain glory of life.
        1. John is talking about arrogance, the arrogance that comes when I pridefully measure myself by me and my accomplishments, not by my relationship with God.
        2. The list of this kind of arrogance is long: educational arrogance; the arrogance of personal achievements and accomplishments; the arrogance of power; the arrogance of position; the arrogance of self perceived significance and importance.
  4. May I focus your attention on three spiritual facts.
    1. Fact one: all of these oppose God in my life.
      1. When I focus my attention on physical gratification, I will oppose God in my life.
      2. When I focus my attention on myself mentally or emotionally, I will oppose God in my life.
      3. When I allow arrogance to capture me, I will oppose God in my life.
    2. Fact two: all of these deceive me into believing that all that matters is right now; the only true measure of life is the physical.
      1. Through these I am convinced that the world is permanent.
      2. Because of these I refuse to think about not being physically alive.
      3. Moment by moment I am deceived into believing that the physical, the material existence is not temporary; to the contrary it is the real existence.
    3. Fact three: these forces convince me not to love Christians.
      1. Because physical desire controls me, I use Christians; I do not love them.
      2. Because of mental and emotional desires, I am selfish; when I am selfish, I do not love Christians.
      3. Because arrogance controls me, my eyes are so full of looking at me that I cannot see God; when I cannot see God I surely cannot love Christians.

The situation is simple. The Christian who loves the world and is controlled by ungodly desires will fade away, cease to exist when that which opposes God is eternally destroyed. The Christian who lives his or her life doing the will of God will continue to exist eternally. And it is the will of God that I love those who belong to God.

What Are Your Predictions?

Posted by on under Sermons

In the late 1980s, a national research institute gathered information on Americans and American evangelical Christian groups (religious people who actively try to convert people to Jesus Christ). Based on that research, a book was published that predicted what would occur in our society by the year 2000. Consider some of the predicted trends.

  • We would be more self-centered, materialistic, and driven to play (p. 25).

  • We would be too selfish to make hard commitments and sacrifices to preserve relationships (p. 25).

  • Loyalty to institutions would go into serious decline. We would not presume any institution was credible. Every institution would have to reprove itself constantly (p. 25).

  • Commitment would be out because commitment was not regarded to be in our personal best interest (p. 33, emphasis mine).

  • We would be a deeply skeptical people (p. 36).

  • Instead of accepting limitations on our lifestyles, we would rewrite the rules (p. 37).

  • A decline in interaction among people would make it more difficult to make friends (p. 75).

  • The religious attentiveness of adults would decline (p. 112).

  • The momentum would be against integrating spiritual belief with daily behavior (p. 111).

  • While 4 in 5 Americans described themselves as Christians, only 1 in 5 would say that being a Christian means having a personal relationship with Christ (p. 113).

  • The primary goal of life is to be happy (p. 156), but most Americans doubt that they will find enduring happiness (p. 158).

The research was gathered by the Barna Research Group and published in a book with the title, Frog in the Kettle: What Christians Need to Know About Life in the Year 2000. The book was published in 1990. As we stand about 10 months from the year 2000, do any of those things characterize our society?

  1. I challenge you to consider where we are in 1999. Five widely accepted “facts of life” are accepted by the majority of Americans as “truth.”
    1. Accepted “truth” # 1: Absolute truth does not exist.
      1. Nothing is always right in every situation and in every circumstance.
      2. Nothing is always wrong in every situation and in every circumstance.
      3. Because absolute truth does not exist, something may be right for me and wrong for you.
      4. And, something that may be wrong for me may be right for you.
      5. Therefore, you and I can do totally opposite things and both be right; I did what is right for me and you did what is right for you.
    2. Accepted “truth” # 2: unless my behavior hurts or destroys someone else, I should not be condemned for anything.
      1. If I believe it is right for me, it is right.
      2. Every person has the right to decide what is right for him or her.
      3. No one is to be condemned for making that personal decision.
      4. Every person has the right to live his or her life as that person chooses.
      5. As long as two persons act with consent, what they do is right.
      6. Anyone who condemns your behavior is wrong; what you do is your business and no one else’s.
    3. Accepted “truth” # 3: a person is to be judged only on the basis of performance.
      1. If you do your job well, produce good results, and earn your salary, that is all that matters; that is the only legitimate concern of your employer.
      2. Your lifestyle is not a part of your work performance.
      3. An employer has no right to be concerned about anything but job performance.
      4. What you choose to do with your private life, or how you choose to use your private life is no one else’s business.
    4. Accepted “truth” # 4: The concept of repentance is an invalid concept.
      1. The basic concept of repentance is a redirection of life that results in a complete change of life.
      2. That concept is false.
        1. You are what you are.
        2. Your responsibility is to accept what you are, not to change what you are.
        3. You did not choose the genes that determined who you are.
        4. You did not decide the family in which you were born.
        5. You did not choose your mother and father’s relationship.
        6. You did not choose to be neglected or rejected by your parents.
        7. It was not your choice for your parents to fight, or to divorce, or to remarry, or to be single parents.
        8. All of those things are powerful, determining factors in who you became.
      3. No one has the responsibility to repent; everyone has the responsibility to be himself or herself.
    5. Accepted “truth” # 5: The greatest single wrong is to refuse to protect a friend.
      1. A friend is someone who accepts you for who you are without judging or condemning what you have done or are doing.
        1. All that matters to a friend is right now.
        2. A friend honors your right to be or do anything you want to be or do.
      2. In an age of no absolute truth there is one absolute responsibility a friend never betrays a friend, never!
      3. Whatever my friend decides, I must honor his or her decision.
      4. Whatever my friend does, I must hide his or her secret.
      5. There is no worse evil than a friend betraying a friend.
  2. May I make some “right now” predictions about the 650 or more of us who are here this morning?
    1. About 35% of you think I have lost my mind.
      1. You think all five of these accepted “truths” as too preposterous to be given seriously consideration.
      2. You are certain that virtually no one thinks that way.
      3. You think I am wasting precious pulpit time to even mention them.
      4. Have you talked to your family recently? More importantly, have you listened to your family lately?
    2. At least 35% of you know exactly what I am talking about because that is what you believe, that is what your friends believe, and that is how you determine your decisions.
      1. Anyone who does not believe those five “truths” is living in the dark ages.
      2. Those “truths” deal with reality and the real world.
      3. You are amazed that only 35 or 40% of those present believe those “truths.”
    3. Up to 30% of you realize enough to know too many people may believe these “truths,” but that makes you very uncomfortable, so you prefer not to think about it unless you just have too.
      1. You really don’t want to know how many people think that way.
      2. You just pray that no one in your family thinks that way.
      3. But you do not plan to ask because you really just don’t want to know.
  3. The first captives of Judah were marched as prisoners of war hundreds of miles to the land of Babylon.
    1. The adults knew that they would die in this strange land.
      1. There was no chance for the situation to change and let them go home.
      2. They could not worship God in the way that He clearly commanded.
      3. Without the temple, the priests could not function.
      4. Everything was hopeless; they were a dead nation.
    2. Ezekiel was a prophet in that same exile, and God him gave a message.
      1. Most of his message declared things would get worse.
        1. The wicked of Judah were worse than Sodom and Gomorrah; they would not be spared.
        2. Their beloved city of Jerusalem would be destroyed with a great slaughter.
        3. Babylon was doing to Judah what God wanted done to Judah.
    3. Then Ezekiel declared that this horrible situation was not hopeless.
      1. In the future God would restore and bless the Nation.
      2. Ezekiel 37 was a vision of hope given because their God was gracious.
      3. God placed Ezekiel in the middle of a valley filled with the dry bones of human skeletons–a huge valley that was a huge human bone pile.
        1. God asked, “Ezekiel, can these bones live?”
        2. Ezekiel said, “God, you know.”
        3. Then God put the bones together, formed bodies upon the bones, put life in the bodies, and they became a huge army.

      Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,” declares the Lord.’ “ (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

  4. Listen to everything you hear all around you.
    1. The economy is great, prosperity is great, material contentment is great, things are better than they have ever been.
      1. There is no connection between the spiritual, the moral, and the good life.
      2. Let’s stop obsessing with meaningless moral questions and get on with addressing the real needs of the nation.
    2. And everywhere I look, I see bones; not corpses; bones.
      1. I look at teenagers and see the bones of those who believe the lie and sell their souls before they know what their soul is.
      2. I see the piles of bones hidden behind cardboard marriages.
      3. I see bones of children, men, and women devastated by failed marriages.
      4. I see the bones of people who flushed life by chasing pleasure.
      5. I see the bones of Christians who have divorced faith from every day life.
    3. And I hear God ask us, “Will these bones live again?”
      1. And I hear God say, “They can if they allow me to give them life.”
      2. “And when I restore your life, finally you will understand that I am God, and life begins and ends in Me.”


What we worry about in the church amazes me. We worry about baptism. And as I look at the baptized, I see too many bone piles. We worry about the existence of the church. But as I look within the church, I see too many bone piles.

We can be as deceived as was Judah. They thought as long as they had the temple and the priests, everything was A-OK. We think as long as people are baptized and do church, everything is A-OK. Just as Judah became a valley of dry bones, the church is becoming a valley of dry bones.

I earnestly want you to be baptized into Christ because you place faith in the God of life, because you surrender to the Savior of life, because you are converted to Christ and freely give God your life to use for Christ.

Because we are converted, because we live for God, I want us to be the church Jesus died to create.

If your life has become a pile of dry bones, God can make you live again. God can resurrect your life in Jesus Christ right now.

If We Don’t Eat and Drink, We Die

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

How long can we survive on one third glass of liquid a day? What if our eating and drinking together provide our bodies never more than four ounces of liquid a day? Anyone would dehydrate and, in time, die. The physical body cannot function for long on so little liquid.

How long can we live on one small meal a week? Two? Three? Even four? Such starvation quickly becomes the gate to anorexia. Anorexia is the path to death. The physical body cannot function indefinitely on so little food.

We recognize physical dehydration and anorexia when we see them. Without being told, we know the seriousness of both. Can you identify spiritual dehydration in yourself or your family? Can you recognize spiritual anorexia when it occurs in your life or your family?

Paul told the Christians at Corinth, “I spoke to you like babies in Christ, not as spiritual adults. I fed you milk. You could not digest anything you needed to chew. Unfortunately, you still cannot” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They had multiple, devastating, spiritual problems. Paul knew how to help them. But they knew so little that Paul could not teach them what they desperately needed to understand.

The author of Hebrews addressed Christians considering renouncing Jesus Christ. Their current problem? They repeatedly laid their spiritual foundation over and over again. They never matured (Hebrews 6:1-8).

Jesus promised that people who hungered and thirsted for righteousness would be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). He promised that he would be the bread of life who could eliminate spiritual hunger (John 6:35). He told a woman that he could give her living water that would eternally destroy thirst (John 4:7-14).

We can listen to exceptional sermons twice a week and be anorexic. We can even add a couple of classes and still starve. We can spiritually dehydrate by exclusively fixing our focus on the church and not depending on the Savior.

Because regularly “listening to good preaching” is bad? No. Because attending Bible classes is bad? No. Because thinking about the church is bad? No. Because all of that is not enough to prevent you or your family from spiritually starving or dehydrating.

Will your appetite allow Jesus to fill you with righteousness? Will your thirst allow Jesus to fill you with living water?

Divine Forgiveness and Human Commitment: The Perfect Marriage

Posted by on February 14, 1999 under Sermons

When we seek forgiveness from a person, is it because we want an opportunity to change our lives and put our mistakes behind us? Or, is it because we want to exploit someone else’s love by using his or her forgiveness to create a selfish opportunity to do as we please?

Do we want and seek God’s forgiveness? Why? Do we sincerely want an opportunity to redirect our lives? Or, do we want to exploit God’s love by using forgiveness to continue to live as we please?

  1. Last Sunday evening John declared in 1 John 1 that a Christian cannot exploit God’s goodness expressed in His forgiveness.
    1. For the Christian who makes a serious commitment to live in God’s light, to honestly live for God, God’s goodness expressed in forgiveness is given without measure.
      1. It cannot be exhausted.
      2. Because this Christian is serious about living for God, because he or she nurtures fellowship with Christians, because he or she accepts responsibility for mistakes and wrong doing, because he or she acknowledges mistakes and wrong doing to God, God uses Jesus’ blood to continually cleanse his or her life.
        1. He or she is continually forgiven of all sin.
        2. He or she is continually cleansed of all unrighteousness.
    2. But the Christian who claims to be in fellowship with God while, by decision and choice, living an ungodly lifestyle, God does not extend His goodness to him or her.
      1. This Christian is so self-deceived that he or she does not even realize a need for forgiveness.
      2. This person lies, does not practice the truth, does not have the truth in him or her, makes God a liar, and does not have the word of Christ in him or her.
    3. The point of chapter 1:5-10 is this: the Christian who tries to exploit God’s goodness will not benefit from God’s goodness.

    Transition: it is extremely important for you to remember that we added the chapter divisions. We must see the continuity, the flow of John’s thoughts from 1 John chapter 1 into chapter 2. The emphasis in chapter 1 and chapter 2 are directly connected, not disjointed and unrelated.

  2. John said understanding that God’s goodness in His forgiveness is unlimited is the encouragement not to sin.
    1. If a Christian is serious in his or her commitment to live for God, if he or she accepts responsibility for his or her mistakes and wrongdoing, God’s forgiveness is total and continuous.
      1. Understanding this does not encourage the serious Christian to sin.
      2. It powerfully encourages him or her not to sin.
    2. John urged the serious Christian to understand just how perfect and complete God’s forgiveness is.
      1. When the committed Christian who seeks to live for God does something wrong, he or she is represented by an Advocate in God’s personal presence.
      2. This Advocate does two things:
        1. The Advocate represents the Christian seeking God’s mercy.
        2. The Advocate asks God to accept his pure sacrifice, his pure blood to satisfy divine judgment, divine anger, and divine wrath.
    3. In none of this does God expect a committed Christian to be perfect.
      1. As John said in 1:9, sin cannot destroy a Christian’s relationship with God if he or she accepts responsibility for his or her mistakes and wrong doing.
      2. God’s use of forgiveness to destroy a Christian’s sin and unrighteousness is complete and perfect.
        1. It can and does forgive the committed Christian from all sin.
        2. It can and does cleanse the committed Christian from all unrighteousness.
      3. God’s method of dealing with the committed Christian’s mistakes and wrong doing is also perfect.
        1. The resurrected Jesus constantly serves as our Advocate before God.
          1. He is the perfect Advocate because he is the sinless one, the righteous.
          2. He is the only being who has had the experience of being divine and of being human.
        2. Our Advocate is also our propitiation.
          1. Each time we need forgiveness, he is our substitute.
          2. His sacrifice of himself pays for our mistakes.
          3. His sacrifice satisfies divine justice, divine anger, and divine wrath.
  3. Please pay close attention to verse 1:6 and verse 2:3.
    1. Each verse compliments the point of the other.
      1. 1:6–To claim to know God while choosing to live an evil lifestyle is to lie.
      2. 2:3–The one who knows God commits himself or herself to practicing God’s instructions.
        1. The Christian who claims to know God but refuses to practice God’s instructions is a liar and the truth is not in him.
        2. But, God brings His love to full maturity in the Christian who practices God’s instructions
      3. This is the certain, undeniable evidence that we are in God: we live our daily lives just as Jesus lived his daily life.
        1. The way Jesus lived determines the way we live.
        2. The values and principles that determined Jesus’ actions, choices, and decisions are the same values and principles that determine our actions, choices, and decisions.
    2. What commandments? What instructions are we to practice? If we live like Jesus lived, what will be obvious in our Christian life?
      1. It is an old commandment; it is certainly not a new principle or concept.
      2. But it is also a new commandment; living in Christ moves this principle, this understanding to a higher level and gives it a new significance.
      3. This old and new commandment is for Christians to love Christians.
        1. The Christian who says that he is living in God’s light while at the same time he hates another Christian has never left evil’s darkness.
        2. It is the Christian who loves his or her fellow Christian that exists each day in the light.
        3. The Christian who loves will not cause another Christian to stumble in his or her faith or in his or her relationship with God.
        4. But the Christian who hates a Christian exists in evil’s darkness, lives in evil’s darkness, and is so blind that he cannot see where he is going.
      4. When I see that the first commandment, the first instruction that John stressed as being essential for life in God’s light is the love of Christians for Christians, I am overwhelmed and sobered at the importance and significance of love.
  4. Please let me give you something to take home with you and think about seriously.
    1. In my years as a Christian, the number one responsibility, the number one value, and the number one emphasis that we have stressed in the church was truth.
      1. Truth is the supreme measurement, the absolute essential, the one criteria by which everything stands or falls.
        1. Satan can defeat truth–he started defeating truth in the garden of Eden.
        2. He can defeat truth with deception, with ignorance, with distortion, with misplaced emphasis, with manipulation of the facts, and with half correct perceptions.
        3. Satan can defeat truth in me, in you, in any person–and does!
        4. No one understands the whole truth; no one possesses the whole truth; and that is clearly evident every time a person makes that claim.
      2. Satan cannot defeat love for God that surrenders to God and loves people.
        1. Love will always defeat evil.
        2. Why? Because love does what is good even to those who are evil.
        3. Paul said plainly in Romans 12:21 that the way that a Christian overcomes evil is by doing good.
        4. Love defeats evil because love practices good.
      3. Love for God and people will not allow you to oppose truth.
      4. Devotion only to truth will allow you to be unloving, and to justify horrible, ungodly attitudes, acts, and words that destroy love in the name of truth.

When God’s forgiveness is coupled to our commitment to God, and both are bound together with the love that lives in us because we belong to Christ, we experience the ideal spiritual relationship. Our commitment will not exploit the forgiveness of God. The forgiveness extended by God’s goodness will never be exhausted. In that is security. It is our faith in and commitment to the God of forgiveness that allows us to be preserved and protected by His power (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Remembering Christ

Posted by on under Sermons

[Entire service is outlined here.]

Welcome and Announcements



“The Lord My Shepherd Is”

Acknowledgment of our Blessings:


“Oh, the Depth and the Riches”
“He Paid a Debt”

Being Honest About Me

If I am to walk with God in this life, if I am going to allow Jesus Christ to be my Lord in this life, I must be honest with myself about me.

I am a sinner. Evil ruled my life before I became a Christian. I can stand before God and belong to God only because I am a forgiven sinner.

God earned the right to forgive me. He paid the full price to have the right to extend to me forgiveness. He paid for that right by sacrificing the life of His own son.

I am saved because of what Jesus did for me. Every moment of my life, every day of my life, every week of my life I am saved because of what Jesus did for me. I am never saved because of me. Jesus is always the source of my salvation. I am never the source of my salvation.

It is because he died to save me that I willingly, of my own choice and free will, commit my life and myself to his purposes.

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)


“A Wonderful Savior”
“Lamb of God”

The Impossible War

I can never generate the power from within myself to make me good.

I can never find the strength within myself to eliminate all evil from my life.

Human ability, human will power, and human choice can never make me as good as I wish to be.

The more earnestly I try to destroy sin in my life, the more I prove this to be true. When I am left to myself with nothing but my own power and my own choices, I am evil’s slave. When I fight Satan with nothing but me, I am never capable of defeating Satan in my life.

The more that I, alone, try to destroy evil in my life, the more depressed and defeated I become. I am not the answer. Christ in me is the answer.

Romans 7:14-8:4

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

The congregation remembers Jesus’
sacrificed body by eating the bread.

The Incredible Victory

God defeats evil in my life with His own goodness. In His goodness, He sent Jesus. In His goodness, He allowed Jesus to die for my sins instead of my eternally dying for my sins. In His goodness, He forgives me of my sins and cleanses me of the eternal consequences of evil. God’s goodness takes the innocent blood of Jesus and gives me mercy. In that mercy, God’s goodness gives me new life. In His goodness God loves me. In His goodness God rescues me from my mistakes. In His goodness God protects me through His power.

Romans 8:31-39

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

The congregation remembers Jesus’
sacrificed blood by drinking the grape juice.


“Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims”
“My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less”
“The Greatest Commands”

The Sobering Truth

The most serious, costly thing God has done in the history of humanity is to sacrifice the life and blood of His own son for the evil things we think, plan, say, and do. The greatest and most expensive sacrifice God has ever made was giving His son for us. We must not accept that sacrifice thoughtlessly or frivolously. To accept God’s sacrifice with less seriousness than God made it is to insult God.

I can never be sinless. I can never destroy all evil in my life. But I can be serious in my commitment. I can be faithful to my commitment. I can serve God from my heart with my life in my commitment.

1 Peter 1:13-21

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

The Invitation


“There Is a Fountain”


What Is and Is Not Eternal

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

Our concepts and realities rarely are the same. Commonly, when we discuss concepts, we discuss “abstract thoughts.” When we discuss reality, we discuss “facts.”

The concept and reality regarding “good marriage” are quite different. The focus of the concept is ideal husband and wife behavior, behavior that rarely exists. The focus of reality is on “keeping it together” to avoid divorce, the “real” concern of the majority.

The concept and reality of a “good job” are quite different. The concept focuses on a job with excellent pay, reasonable responsibilities, wonderful benefits, generous time off, and no life controlling demands. The focus of reality is on earning enough to support our lifestyle regardless of hours worked or responsibilities assumed.

Nowhere is the gulf between concept and reality as wide as in our view of eternity. Physical life is real. Right now is real. Physical circumstances are real. Physical needs are real. Caring for our physical future is real. Discussing the physical (life, now, needs, or the future) is discussing the “factual.”

The eternal is conceptual. Death is not “real.” Life after death is not “real.” Death will become reality in the distant future–if that ever comes.

In an instant, death occurs, our life “turns upside down,” and our awareness of reality totally changes. Instantly death is permanent and physical life is temporary. Death is real and “now” is meaningless. Death is definite and physical needs are insignificant. Death terminates physical futures forever. The person is gone; only the body remains– temporarily.

Years ago a good friend and I lost a mutual friend to death. The friend who died had been a part of our lives for many years. To us, the world had changed. The next morning my friend drove slowly through town. He called me and said, “Nothing changed. Today is like every other day.” He profoundly realized his own insignificance. We all think, “The world can’t continue without me,” but it does.

Everything “real” while I am physical is not eternal. Eternity begins the moment I cease to be physical. Satan deceives us about the “important” in life. Death is brutally honest about the eternal.

Grace: Everything Or Nothing

Posted by on February 7, 1999 under Sermons

But there are some unnecessary mysteries that we place on the word and the concept of grace. The basic concept of grace is God’s goodness. In past ages and generations Bible students tended to be more preoccupied with God’s wrath than God’s goodness. It was commonly believed to be more beneficial for people to be afraid of God than for people to trust God’s goodness.

The simple concept of God’s goodness exceeds our human understanding. How good is the God of absolute goodness? When Bible students do consider God’s goodness, they can easily become preoccupied with determining the limits of God’s goodness. We are easily consumed with determining when God does and does not use His goodness. We easily focused on two things: (1) determining the boundaries of God’s goodness and (2) declaring when God will not extend His goodness.

Too often we do not focus on God’s message in Christ. In that message it is clear that God extends His goodness to every person. That is God’s desire and choice. The issue of grace is not to be focused on how good is God. It is to be focused on our willingness to respond to God’s goodness.

God has revealed His goodness in many ways at many times. But the greatest revelation of God’s goodness is Jesus. Nothing can teach us as much about the goodness of God than can the life and ministry of Jesus. The greatest revelation of God’s sacrifices to make His goodness available to people is seen in the crucifixion. Jesus’ life and ministry is the clear revelation that God’s goodness defies human prediction or human limitations. We make a grave mistake when we impose limits on God’s goodness.

  1. 1 John 1:1-4 states John’s reason for writing this message.
    1. John was writing to Christians who probably lived in the area of Asia Minor, a long way from Palestine.
      1. He likely was writing decades after Jesus was crucified in that tiny, far off country long time after the actual event.
      2. If this approximate time of writing is correct, the Jews had been in intense conflict with the Romans, the temple was probably destroyed, and Palestine is not even a shadow of what it was when Jesus lived.
      3. So, was Christianity just one more religion active in the Roman empire?
        1. When it started it was a local spiritual movement based on historical occurrences that could be verified by countless witnesses.
        2. Now it was an empire wide spiritual movement far removed from the historical events in that far off, small country, and many of the witnesses were dead.
        3. There is a lot of transition from “it happened here two years ago” to “it happened forty years ago in a country that no longer exists.”
      4. Were the foundations of Christianity history or myth?
        1. Were the responsibilities of the Christian life shrouded in mystery and ritual like so many of the other religions?
        2. Or could its responsibilities and objectives be understood by the common person?
    2. John opened this writing by declaring that Jesus Christ was a historical person who actually lived; Jesus was not a myth.
      1. John and the apostles were witnesses who heard, saw, and touched Jesus.
      2. Jesus personally was the revelation of eternal life–and that is exactly what he is since he lived before creation, through a human life, and after physical death.
      3. John said, “I am sharing with you what we saw and heard.”
      4. Why? For what purpose, John? What is your objective in sharing this information?
        1. “To enable you to have fellowship with us.”
        2. “Since we have fellowship with the Father and Jesus Christ, His son, it is through fellowship with us that you will establish fellowship with them.”
        3. “Only when you have fellowship with us, God, and Christ will our joy be complete.”
  2. An appropriate way to state what John shared in 1:5-10 is this: “For some, the goodness of God gives them everything; for some, the goodness of God gives them nothing.”
    1. To me, there is a striking contrast drawn by John in verses 5-10.
      1. First, I want you to see that contrast.
      2. Second, I want you to consider the contrast in the awareness that John is talking to Christians.
        1. These people had declared faith in Jesus Christ.
        2. They had been baptized.
        3. In our common terminology today, these people were “members of the church.”
      3. This contrast declares to whom God’s grace will give everything, and to whom God’s grace will give nothing among Christians.
        1. As John began this writing, this was his first emphasis.
        2. There are some Christians who because of God’s goodness receive everything.
        3. There also are some Christians who receive nothing from God’s goodness.
    2. John began by affirming that God is absolute goodness.
      1. Using John’s common analogy, God is pure light that is in no way dimmed or contaminated with darkness.
      2. There is no evil in God; there is only the purity of goodness in God.
    3. The contrast is seen in what John said in verses 6, 8, and 10 and what John said in verses 7 and 9.
      1. Look closely at what John said in verses 6, 8, and 10.
        1. Verse 6: to claim that you have fellowship with God while, by choice, living an evil lifestyle is to lie and fail to practice the truth.
          1. Claiming that we a live life that is in association with the light while we choose to live our lives in the darkness is to lie.
          2. There is no darkness in God; God does not fellowship those who choose to live in darkness.
          3. John did not say this person did not know the truth; he said this person did not practice the truth.
        2. Verse 8: to claim that we have no sin is a self-deception that reveals we are void of truth–the truth is not in us.
          1. Truth will never lead us to conclude that, of ourselves, we are sinless.
          2. To claim to be sinless is proof that the truth does not exist in us.
        3. Verse 10: to claim that we have not sinned is to make God a liar.
          1. God says that we have sinned; everyone of us.
          2. A conviction that I do not sin is proof that God’s word is not in me.
      2. Contrast those statements with verses 7 and 9.
        1. Verse 7: If our choice is to live our daily lives in God’s light, two things will happen.
          1. We will have fellowship with each other.
            1. Maintaining fellowship with those who give self and life to Christ is a critical evidence that we live in God’s light.
            2. A natural result of finding life in Jesus is the growing desire to associate with those who live in Jesus.
          2. Jesus’ blood cleanses (a present, continuing process) us from ALL sin.
            1. For this person, the forgiveness that begins at baptism never stops.
            2. Not one of us ever knows all our sins.
            3. When we live in the light, forgiveness is a continuing process every day.
            4. Why? Because God is good.
        2. Verse 9: If we confess the sins that we realize we commit, God will do two things.
          1. He will forgive the sins that we confess.
          2. He will cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness–everything wrong, realized or not, will be cleansed continually.
          3. Confession: penitent hearts move us to be honest about realized mistakes and to accept responsibility for what we have done.
          4. Why will God do that? Because God is good.
  3. Do you see the distinct contrast between these two types of Christians?
    1. One Christian refuses to acknowledge the problem of evil in his or her life or to deal with that continuing problem.
      1. “I have nothing to deal with–my life does not have any problem with evil.”
      2. “I did what God said to do to become a Christian–I was baptized.”
      3. “I do the religious things that I am supposed to do: I come to church at least once a week; I take communion; I give; I even get involved sometimes.”
      4. “My life is okay; I have no war with evil in my life; I rarely need to repent of anything or confess anything to God.”
    2. The second Christian may actually struggle with evil, but he knows the evil is there; he resists it; he repents of the evil; he is constantly learning how to be more godly.
      1. Sustaining fellowship with Christians is an important part of his or her life.
      2. He or she takes the time to be aware of evil within, to recognize evil within, to confesses mistakes and indulgence.
      3. He or she never excuses, never condones, never hides, never denies; no attempt is made to evade responsibility.
    3. I want you to advance and mature your understanding of how a Christian lives in God’s goodness.
      1. My doctrinal beliefs are important, but there is something more important, more basic than my doctrinal beliefs.
      2. My theology, my beliefs that are centered in God, are important, but there is something more important, more basic than my beliefs about God.
      3. What could possibly be more important, more basic than my doctrinal and theological beliefs?
        1. The way that I deal with the continual problem of evil in my life is more important than my doctrinal and theological beliefs.
        2. If I deny the fact that I have evil in my life, I do not live in God’s goodness.
        3. If I deal with evil in my life by living in God’s light and confessing my sins, I live in God’s goodness.
        4. Denial of my evil means that I am self-deceived, do not practice the truth, do not have the truth in me, and do not have God’s word in me.
        5. Denial also means that I make God a liar.
        6. Acknowledgment of my sins by confessing those sins to God keeps me cleansed from all sin and all unrighteousness.
        7. Though far from sinless, I live every day in God’s forgiveness.
    4. As a Christian, in God’s eyes, I am:
      1. Pure because I am forgiven.
      2. Holy because I am forgiven.
      3. Righteous because I am forgiven.
      4. I am not pure, holy, and righteous because no evil exists in my life.

We commonly think there are three basic categories of Christians. Category one: “In my love for God, I want to live a godly life and I am committed to being a godly person.” Category two: “I do not want to go to hell, but I do not want to be godly. I will do what I must do religiously, but I will live my life as I please.” Category three: “For reasons that have nothing to do with conversion, I ‘became a Christian.’ I have no interest in being godly and will make no attempt to live a godly life.”

Two observations based on the information in 1 John 1. Category two, “I do not want to go to hell but I do not want to be godly,” is of zero value spiritually. Only category one receives God’s forgiveness and lives in God’s goodness.

You cannot be perfect, but you can be faithful to God. You cannot be perfect, but you can be honest with God.