THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 4-27-08
LESSON TITLE: "GOD'S PECULIAR PEOPLE: A PECULIAR RELIGION"
Good morning! Thank you for joining us today for God's Living Word. I hope everyone had a great week, and I hope your weekend was a profitable one also.
Now, here we are on another glorious Lord's Day morning. What a wonderful opportunity we have again today to join together in the worship of our Redeemer. I hope you are ready to begin this new week with a day of service and offering to your God.
As always, it is our commitment through this program to proclaim the simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - which is confirmed for us in the Bible. I hope you all have your Bible's handy and I hope you are ready to worship God together as we sing praises to His name and study from His wondrous word. Now let's begin by talking to our Father in prayer!
At this time, we want to sing our first song of the morning. We start with a hymn that reminds us that God has made ready in a Heaven, a place to house all His faithful saints. So we must ask, "Are we obeying God's Will in order to receive that reward? Let me encourage you all to join in with the congregation at this time as we praise God together with the song, " An Empty Mansion."
(SONG # 1)
Isn't it a great feeling when you are able to do good or help someone? There are not many things in this life which bring us greater happiness than putting a smile on someone's face, because we were able to assist them in some way. No doubt this is why Jesus encouraged us with His words in Matthew 7:12, there we read, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." We are to treat others in the same way we want them to treat us.
Now consider all of this for a moment, isn't this one of the main reasons why we have been so blessed by God. That we can do good to our fellow man? We have been given the things we have from God, so that we may in turn live good lives of service toward Him and others.
Read with me from 2 Corinthians 9:11, where we find this same idea being expressed by the Apostle Paul, there it says, "while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God." Here it confirms that our many blessings are for liberality.
I really love the other part of this verse also, because there we read why it really matters. You see, when we do good to others we are doing good to God! Jesus, Himself, made this point in Matthew 25:40, by saying, "...Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."
What a wonderful encouragement this gives us in Jesus Christ to know that when we do good to others and help them when we can, it is as if we are helping Jesus Himself! This understanding should make us all want to do more for others, because we know we are glorifying God when we do so.
Today we will be continuing our study together on, "God's Peculiar People." Our specific topic of the day will deal with, "A Peculiar Religion." So please continue with us this morning and after our next song together I will return with this lesson from God's Word. It's now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "Anywhere With Jesus."
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
We're glad you've continued with us as we now go to God's Word and go to consider some of those important facts about "God's Peculiar People." We ask at this time that as you look into your Bibles that you'll consider the topic this morning of "God's Peculiar Religion."
When we think about the history of Bible times and Bible things, we learn so much about religion. In fact, from the very beginning of time, we know that man began to worship other gods. As we go throughout each of the periods that God had shown us through scripture such as the Patriarchal Period, the Mosaical Period and even the Christian Age, in every age we find that there was a greater desire by the majority of men to follow other gods and different false gods rather than to follow the one true and only God that you and I know of. When we read throughout the scriptures we find this very much expressed.
For a few examples we might consider there in Exodus. Early on in the chapters, we learn about Moses being born, eventually going to Egypt and there as he goes to Egypt what would he find? A world full of gods. He knew that because he was raised as an Egyptian. He knew what the many gods of Egypt held as they were a polytheistic and religious people.
But as we also go on further, later in that day, we also learn that they were very much open at times to even believe in and follow other gods.
What about even before that back in the day of Joseph when they would actually given him credit, second in command of Egypt only under Pharaoh? But then also you might note they did in some ways revere his God for the deliverance that He gave on behalf of the Israelite nation.
We just continue to move on and we find time and time again even in Joshua's day as he had stood there with the people at the end of time when they were now about to cross over and inherit Canaan, and as they moved across that place, he again tells them to put away their gods. And near the end of his life, he again reminds them that at that time still there are those who are following other gods.
There are three categories of different things mentioned here in the final chapter of Joshua 24 where he first mentions the idea in verse 2 of the gods of even their fathers like Abraham's father, Terra and others before him. They worshipped different gods, the wrong gods. Then the caution that he gave them that they should not be guilty of following the gods of their fathers.
But then later as we even drop down into verse 23, the warning comes again to "put away the foreign gods that are even now among you." What do we find amongst people of God? What do we find amongst the world at that time and of all these times that not only was the world full of a religious desire but basically willing to follow anything, but even the very people of God continued to learn from the other nations, to want what they had. They learned from Egypt. They learned from the Canaanite nations. They learned from the Assyrian Captivity and the Babylonian Captivity and the Roman government in the days of Christ. And how many followers of God, at least "supposed followers of God" would bow their knees to other gods and believe that somehow they were still okay in the eyes of the true God?
You see, there is a peculiar religion that one must follow in order to be saved for there is but one God and as there is one God there is only one religion that we must follow in order to be right with God. Even in that religion, we find many religions being born. Consider if you will over the ages the creeds of men, the things that man have determined that really add to or take away from the holy scriptures, the Bible, and the denominations that have been established and the manmade organizations that have been set up that again step beyond the religion that God designed.
So as we think about the peculiar religion of God, the uniqueness as we've been focusing together there from Peter, that special people and holy nation and royal priesthood that we are, do we really understand just how unique our religion is, just how peculiar it must be? Well, I think that is not only seen from the standpoint of religion as a whole, the religion of God but also the religion on an individual level.
If you'll think there for just a moment as we move even into the New Testament, there are many passages that show us the uniqueness of the religion of God. When you think again of the religions of the day that the church was established in Acts chapter 2... Again, we can even back up into the Old Testament and find the same thing. What things were being practiced in many of these religions? Well, many things that we would call sin according to the Will of God. Many of those things that are actually transgressions that we would say are immoral, improper and wicked not only in the eyes of God but really in the eyes of many societies of our day. But yet in the name of religion, men and women would practice such things that would only be found really in common places of the world, in maybe beer halls or brothels. And so now we wonder: What is the unique religion that God requires? What is it that He wants of us? And that is that same uniqueness, that same willingness to submit fully to what He has designed and to what He has designed alone.
One passage that really stands out in my mind as we move into that New Testament and we think about the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians alike who had left their own ways and followed Christ in a very moral way who began to tell them in so many different ways what is required of one that truly believes. I want you to notice with me what is said there in a familiar passage of Romans chapter 12. The Bible speaks here, Paul being led by the Holy Spirit to the church at Rome. Here he identifies to us just how peculiar we are as a religious people of God when he says, "I beseech you, therefore by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice." We think of the sacrifice concept of the Old Testament and the New Testament. God has always required a sacrifice, but now today under the New Law, no longer a physical, blood, animal sacrifice, but a physical human sacrifice of our own flesh and blood with service, commitment in word and deed. And so he says to offer our bodies, our works, our words, every moment, every hour as living sacrifices that are what? Holy and acceptable to God for this is our reasonable service or what is required of a servant of God.
And so again, that religion makes us unique. How unique? Verse 2, "So don't be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." We are not to be like the world. Well, isn't that what Israel often wanted? When they saw that all the other nations had kings and they said, "We want a king! Make us a king!" and Samuel said, "Why?" And they said, "For we want to be like all the other people, all the other nations." But it wasn't just in being a nation that had kings, but they already were following many of the Canaanite gods just as they had done when they left Egypt when they had their saddle bags full of the Egyptian gods that they had learned to worship. You see, that idea of, or that problem of learning truly to be a living sacrifice, not being conformed but like the world but different, by being that which is transformed that has gone into a cocoon and come out as a new Christian unique and special in every way so that when people look at us that sometimes, yes, they easily see they are different. They are unique. They are special. They don't talk like us. They don't walk like us. They don't act like us. They don't go to the places that we go. Isn't that what God expects? Do you mean that sometimes that means we're going to have to be considered as strange in this world? Yes! As weird? Yes! Because as Christians, the world will often hate us. Didn't Jesus say to His disciples that "just as the world has hated Me, they will hate you?" For when you stand for Christ and morality and that which is pure and holy and established by the Will of God then the world cannot know us, does not know us, and generally wants no part of us except for the fact that those who are searching for Christ for they see that we are the opposite and certainly again those who have committed ourselves to a new way, a holy way of life.
No doubt that's why we learn also as Paul spoke to the Thessalonian church that he gave some similar but maybe more specific admonitions and exhortations to these people. There again in 1 Thessalonians we might read chapter 5 and see what verses 1 and 2 show us first of all. Then we want to move on and look at a few other places in the same text to understand what Paul was saying to the Holy Spirit. He first mentions, if you'll notice there, "Brethren," he says, "I shouldn't have to write you, but I need to write you so that you might know how to be those who are more perfectly in the things of God but also knowing that God is coming again." Now, why is he exhorting them in this way? So that they'll know that they need to be ready now and every moment for God to return. So what's included in that? Well again, a peculiar, a unique religion. Drop down if you will to around verse 17. He says, "Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks," in the next verse. "Do not quench the spirit," verse 19. "Do not despise prophecies." But now hear verse 21, "Rather test all things. Hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil."" Do you see that battle of good and bad, that desire a Christian really has once they have been committed to Christ, once they have been washed in the blood to say that my focus is on God and God alone, on righteousness, and therefore my desire is to focus on righteous and holy things, on peculiar and special things, on religion that is God's way and not on evil things, worldly things, sinful things.
Isn't that really the challenge that he continues to give, that he continues to cry out even as we move to passages like Galatians chapter 5 when he introduces to us the idea of the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. The works of the flesh that are really a part of all types of sin and desires of the world that we have in the past given in to, but we have cleansed ourselves from through the blood of Christ. Then he turns around and says, "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, self-control, including goodness, faithfulness..." All of these good and wondrous characteristics. Why? For we are God's peculiar religion, unique and those who walk in the spirit no longer practice the things of the flesh, but guess what. They practice the things that are of God and according to the Will of God, according to the commands of God and so therefore we do all that God says and even go beyond the extra mile reaching out to accomplish His Will.
And so then even as we look at the Will of God, we find things within it that seems strange to us. One that stands out to me is in Matthew 5:43 where Christ says, "Love your enemies." That almost doesn't even make sense does it? But again, a religion that is peculiar because it's God's religion, unique. How can I love an enemy? God told me to. Is it different? Is it strange? Is it like the world? Is it like the world? No! It's like God. But how the world sees us when we're able to do that, when we're able to live in such a way, when we're able in Matthew 16 to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and commit ourselves to God in every way because we love Him and we want to serve Him and we want to be found faithful in the end just as He has given us opportunity as a religious people.
And so that's why we've been looking together for now several months at all of these interesting ideas about how special we are as God's people, a religion, a group of Christians that are different. Individually, we are different. We are lights that shine in a world of darkness and in that fact, every facet that we have considered of our Christian lives whether it be the church or worship or organization, the word, our actions, our practice, whatever it might be, all of these things then are as well required in God's eyes to be unique and special and holy in every way, righteous that we might in all things glorify God, glorify God our Creator that He might see our faith and reward and bless us, but that others might see the glory of God through us, ask questions, desire to know Him and obey His Will. Why? So that we might all come to a knowledge and understanding and a faith in God in doing so knowing that we will be blessed now and forever more with eternal life in Heaven with God on high.
(SONG # 3 - "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross")
What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of God. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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How blessed we are by God to be such a unique and special people. May we always be proud of our place in the Kingdom and stand for God's Word.