Falling Away From God

Sermon for Sunday, November 19, 2017

Falling Away From God

Departure sequence: Tolerate, Accept, Defend, Adopt.

1 Corinthians 10:

[6] Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

[12] So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Falling away is as old as the garden of Eden.  It resulted from the first sin.  From there, the descendants of Adam and Eve fell away.  And then the descendants of others: Noah, Abraham, and Israel, who became the Israelites.

Today’s lesson will show how Jeroboam led Israel astray.

1) He changed the place of worship.

1 Kings 12:

[26] Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David.  [27] If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah.  They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”

[28] After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves.  He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.  Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  [29] One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan.  [30] And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.

Solomon tells us that God says the temple was to be built in Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 6:

[6] But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.

Jereboam’s inadequate excuse: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem” (v. 28).

Verse 26,  “Jeroboam thought to himself…”

Verse 33, “On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel.”

Proverbs 14:

[12] There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Ecclesiastes 12:

[13] Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

[14] For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

(The hidden things would include our thoughts.)

Isaiah 55:

[8] “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  [9] “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Acts 8:20  Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”

2) He changed how they were to worship.

Exodus 20:4  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (NIV)

Exodus 20:4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (NKJV)  KJV “graven image”

Because God has no visible form, any idol intended to resemble or represent God is sinful.

 

 

Deuteronomy 4:

[15] You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, [16] so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, [17] or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, [18] or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below.  [19] And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

Notice verse 28 in our text:

1 Kings 28:

[28] After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.  Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.

It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.”

He does not tell them it is wrong to go but that it is too hard.  He is seeking a justification for doing wrong.  Notice this is the “D” in the defend stage.

This is the response of the expert of the law who tested Jesus:

Luke 10:

[29] But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Here are your gods…

This was not a change in the object of worship but a corruption of the way they worship.

The Hebrew word Elohim is translated ‘God’ 2,325 times and only 45 times as ‘god’ in the NASB.

The object of worship was not changed in the Northern Kingdom until the time of Ahab and Jezebel about 60 years later.  Baal worship was stopped under the reforms of Jehu.  This is  an example of combining idolatry with the worship of the true God.  Here is the account of Jehu’s reform:

2 Kings 10:

[28] So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel.

[29] However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

[30] The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

[31] Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart.  He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.

Note the falling way sequence: T-A-D-A.

Does verse 28 remind you of an event earlier in Israel’s history?  A similar thing happened when the nation began about 450 years earlier:

Exodus 32:

[1] When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.  As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

[2] Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”  [3] So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  [4] He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool.  Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

[5] When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”

[6] So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings.  Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

3) He changed who could lead in worship.

That is, he changed who could be priests.

1 Kings 12:

[31] Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.

The priests were only to be of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:5-10).

4) He changed the time of worship.

[32] He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar.  This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made.  And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made.

[33] On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel.  So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.

Conclusion:

1) He changed the place of worship.

2) He changed the time of worship.

3) He changed who is to lead the nation in worship.

4) He changed the time of worship.

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices

What is Man?

Sermon for Sunday, November 5, 2017

What is Man?

Psalm 8:

[1] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory in the heavens.

[2] Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

[3] When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, [4] what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

[5] You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

[6] You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: [7] all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, [8] the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

[9] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Notice that the question occurs in the middle of the Psalm.  Our goal is to look at what leads up to the question and then what flows from it.

Outline of text:

God’s majestic name (1, 9)

God’s dominion (3)

The question (4)

Humankind’s dominion (5-8)

God’s majestic name (9)

1) God’s majestic name (1, 9).

[1] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory in the heavens.

[9] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

This Psalm of David begins and ends with the same phrase, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”

Notice how this frames the content of this Psalm.  It begins and ends with praising the majestic name of God who is called Lord in our English Bibles.

The praiseworthiness and majesty of our creator frames the simple but penetrating question about us in verse 4, “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

2) God’s dominion:

[3] When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…

Psalm 19:

[1]  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Habakkuk 2:

[14] For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 6:

[3] Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.

The point: God reveals his majestic name in the greatness of his creation and in his grace toward humans.

3) The question:

[4] what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Perhaps David is expressing his wonder that God exalt humans to a place of honor by putting them in charge of the created world.

God is indescribably great and humans are insignificant by comparison, yet God is mindful of humans and gives them honor and authority over creation.

Humans have discovered the reality of our own insignificance through the science of astronomy.  The universe is so vast that distance must be measured in light years.

A light year is the distant light travels in a year.  In one second light can go 186,000 miles.  There are 31.5 million seconds in a year, which means light travels about six trillion miles in a single year.  Yet some stars are billions of light years away from the earth.

This means the earth is just a speck of dust in the vast universe.  Our existence on earth is tiny, and yet God is mindful of us.

Humans are created in God’s image.

Genesis 1:

[26] Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  [27] So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

The image of God means we are to resemble God in some way.

Our text in Psalm 8:5 says, “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”

Note: Instead of humans being “a little higher than animals,” as evolutionists believe, we are “a little lower than the angels” of God.

This cannot be a physical resemblance because of the nature of God.  God is not physical (John 4:24).

The image of God likely refers to the immaterial part of humans that allow us to be like him in various ways.  One way is that we can know good and evil:

Genesis 3:

[22]  And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

Our conscience also indicates this knowledge.

The image of God also means we have the capacity and the desire to have a relationship with him.

James 3:

[9] With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Humans are rational and have a spiritual nature.  This means we have the capacity to have a relationship with God.

Ecclesiastes 3:

[11] He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Although we live in a world of time, God has put the recognition of eternity in our hearts.  We recognize the concept of eternity but we cannot fully comprehend it.

The point: We just know that there is some kind of life after this life.

Jesus we possess something that cannot be destroyed by death which is our soul.  Your most important possession is your soul:

Matthew 10:

[28] Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

4) Humankind’s dominion:

[5] You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

[6] You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: [7] all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, [8] the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

David expresses amazement that God would exalt weak humans to have responsibility and dominion over creation.  He reflects on humankind’s position that has been given by God.  Humans are to dominate the earth:

Genesis 1:

[28] God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Humans have been exalted because of God’s love for them and he desires that we love him.

1) Humans were created to be the object of God’s love (John 3:16).

This is noted in verse 4, “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

Job 7:

[17] What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, [18] that you examine them every morning and test them every moment?

God gives humans his attention.  The NASB has “You are concerned about him.”

God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Psalm 144:

[3] Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?

Romans 5:

[8] But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2) Humans were created to love God.

Not only were we created to be the object of God’s love but God wants humans to love him.

One way we do this is to live a life that God wants us to live, which is to become like what God is.

1 John 4:

[7] Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

[8] Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

[9] This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  [10] This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

[11] Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Another way we demonstrate love for God is to obey his commands (John 14:15).

Matthew 22:

[37] “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  [38] This is the first and greatest commandment.

[39] And the second is like it:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

[40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

There is a fulfillment of Psalm 8 in Messiah Jesus:

Hebrews 2:

[5] It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.  [6] But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? [7] You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor [8] and put everything under their feet.”

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.

[9] But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

God placed humans in charge of the world he gave instructions to subdue it (Genesis 1:28).  But notice in verse 8 Hebrew writer says there is something humans have not subjected: “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them” (v. 8).

What is it that has not been subjected?  It is death: “…he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (v.9).

Through Jesus Christ, God is now preparing people to live with him in eternity.  This is what the message of the Bible is all about.  Is this your goal in life?

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices

Dependence on God

Sermon for Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dependence on God

Jeremiah 17:

[5] This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

[6] That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes.  They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

[7] “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

[8]  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.   It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Verse 5, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Lesson: We trust in things other than God.  The Jews were trusting in the Egyptians rather than God.  Isaiah had already warned the nation about this:

Isaiah 31:

[3] But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God…

The Jews expected help from the Egyptians when they rebelled against Babylon but God told them not to rebel.  They used their own human wisdom and not God’s advice.

Instead, verse 7 says “the one who trusts in the Lord” will be blessed.

Proverbs 3:

[5]  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

[6] in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Those who trust in the Lord are like trees planted by the water.  Look at verse 8:

[8]  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.   It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

See Psalm 1:1-3.

As a tree is dependent on water, we are dependent on God.

Our dependence on God does not mean we become passive in our relationship with him.  God has a role for us in our dependence.  The point is that we should recognize our dependence.

Regarding the house of Eli, God says:

2 Samuel 2:

[30] Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: “I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.”  But now the Lord declares: “Far be it from me!  Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”

1) Dependence means we always trust God.

Proverbs 29:

[25] Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Proverbs 3:

[5]  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

[6] in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Trusting in God means we depend on him for our competence:

2 Corinthians 3:

[5] Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

2) Our future is dependent on God.

When I was a senior in high school, I heard a speaker talk about what would happen 20 years from that time.  He missed almost everything.

Yogi Berra said, “predicting is hard, especially when it is about the future.”

We all would like to know what the future holds for us.  The Bible says we should not be too sure about what we think of the future.

Proverbs 27:

[1] Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Note the changes that have been made that were not foreseen:

Maps:

GPS devices and MapQuest have eliminated maps.  Asking for directions, carrying around paper maps, and even getting lost are all increasingly obsolete.

Encyclopedias:  Google and Wikipedia.

Landline phones: Who could have foreseen the disappearance of landline phones?  Phonebooks?

Hand-Written Letters: Does anyone still write letters to friends?  Instead of writing a letter, I call or send an email.  A survey of incoming freshmen revealed that few knew how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.

We should ask God that we not waste our days and opportunities.

Psalm 90:

[12] Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

The wise person will understand the brevity of life.  This should cause us to consider the limited number of days we have in view of eternity.

The point: We only have a short time to obey the gospel and be useful in the kingdom.

If this were the last sermon you would ever hear, would you leave this meeting saved or lost?  I have often preached the last sermon people have heard before they died.  This weighs heavy on my heart each time I preach.

Luke 12:

[16] And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  [17] He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

[18] “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  [19] And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years.  Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’

[20] “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

[21] “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Many in this church who were here in 1999 when I moved here are not here in 2017.  Today’s sermon may be the last sermon you will ever hear, or the last year you ever live.  We cannot presume that we will be alive tomorrow or the next day.

We should ask God that we not waste our days and opportunities.

If this were the last sermon you would ever hear, would you leave this meeting saved or lost?

I have often preached the last sermon people have heard before they died.  This weighs heavy on my heart each time I preach.

3) Beware of self-centered planning.

James 4:

[13] Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  [14] Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

[15] Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.  All such boasting is evil.

[17] If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Note, he thinks he knows the future.  In verse 13, he says, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”

This man plans a period of time and a place to go.  He also thinks he knows what he will be able to do.  He is going to buy and sell.  He also predicts the profits.  He thinks he will make money.

The lesson: He leaves God out of his plan.  Don’t plan your life as if there is no God.

The proper attitude is found in verse 15: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”

We often pray: “Lord, bless what I am doing.”  Instead, we should pray: “Lord, show me what I should be doing.”

Psalm 119:

[105] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

If we do not seek God’s leading in our lives, we will come to the end of life and say:

“My youth was a mistake, my adulthood a struggle, and my old age a regret.”

God has a plan for your life.

James 4:17 warns us of the danger of procrastination: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

Procrastination is a deceptive sin because it is not obvious.

Sins like drunkenness, violence, stealing, and sexual immorality are more obvious.  Even sins of the heart like hate and jealousy are more obvious than procrastination.

It is easy not to think of procrastination as a sin, but the Bible says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Good point:  If you are doing what you ought to do, you cannot do what you ought not to do!

Why are people lost today?  Is it because they lie, steal, or commit adultery?  No.  It is because they fail to do what they ought to do.

I once saw a tract titled, “What must I do to be saved?”  Under this heading there were Bible verses telling you what you must do.  On the other side, there was the heading, “What must I do to be lost?”  Under this heading there was nothing.

He wasn’t much for stirring about, it wasn’t his desire, while others worked to build the church he was sitting by the fire.

Same old story day by day, no matter what others did, he was sitting by the fire.

At last he died as all must do, some say he went up higher, but if he is doing what he used to do, he is sitting by the fire.

Many say, “But I haven’t done anything wrong.”  But, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Obey God now.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Remember, the Bible says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices