THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 9-13-09
LESSON TITLE: “THE WORKS OF THE FLESH ARE:
Here we are together again on another first day of the week - our Lord’s Day! I am so glad you have decided to join us today for another time of service to our God. How blessed we are this morning to again come before the throne of God and participate in acts of worship which laud and magnify His great and holy name. My hope and prayer is that we will each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His wondrous and precious will. So as we begin this morning, let’s start by talking to our Creator in prayer, will you bow with me!
Our first song of the morning helps us to focus on the wondrous glory and awesome nature of God. We need to realize just how mighty and powerful He is. So won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “I Stand Amazed?”
(SONG # 1)
Every day when I read the Bible I am always reminded of the powerful God we serve. Recently I read from Jeremiah 5:22 and it seems that Jeremiah knew the power of our God. There we read, “Do you not fear Me?' says the LORD.’Will you not tremble at My presence, Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, Yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.” Wow, what a great reminder of just how mighty our God is. Everything that we see, know and experience is because of His Wonder and greatness for He is the Creator and giver of all.
Let’s notice a few things about the text we just read. First God does not want us be afraid of Him, so that we are unable to follow and obey Him. This would be an uncontrollable fear or terror at the thought of God. However, then the verse turns around and says we will tremble at the thought of His power and greatness. This fear is out of respect, honor and reverence to such an awesome God. How could we help but tremble at the knowledge of His power, might and glory?
Finally, let’s consider what this verse says God can do? In a word - Anything! But let me go a step further, not only can our God do anything, Our magnificent God has done and can do everything He desires according to His Will
So what about us, are we humbled in the presence of such a wondrous God? Have we humbled ourselves to the point of obedience to His Will? If not, chose today to submit to the Creator by doing what He has commanded according to His Word!
In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. As far as our series, today we will be continuing to talk about, “The Works Of The Flesh Are…!” The specific lesson of the day will deal with, “Stealing!” So please stay with us and at the appropriate time I will be leading us in the lesson thoughts of the morning. Now let’s join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, “Soldiers Of Christ Arise.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
We’re so glad you’ve continued with us today as we now go to God’s Word and consider another lesson in relationship to “The Works of the Flesh Are:…” We’ve looked at a lot of interesting topics together and hopefully we’ve challenged ourselves to want to do the Will of God and consider those things that He would have us to do to be found more pleasing.
This morning again we want to consider another sin, if you will, that certainly should not be a part of our lives or the actions or the words that we speak, therefore again making ourselves right in His sight. Today we’re going to talk about stealing. You might first off say, “Well it’s a good thing. This is the first time you’re not going to touch on anything that bothers me or that I have a problem with.” Before you get too excited about that, we might deal with a few things that touch us all in relationship to taking something that is not ours or desiring to have something that is not rightfully ours.
In relationship to that, we can go to the Word of God and see that stealing has always been condemned in the Word of God. You might say, “Well was it really that big of a problem among the people of God?” Certainly it was! In fact, you can go back with me to the very beginning even there when the Law of Moses was given and what we refer to us “The Ten Commandments” as they were written by God on the stone. In Exodus chapter 20 guess what we find as the 8th commandment to man. “Thou shalt not steal.” Think about who he was writing that to, the Israelite nation, over a million strong, and one of the things he has to tell them is, “Don’t take something that is not yours.” Imagine, they had just come out of Egypt. They’d been amongst all of the pagans and the gods of Egypt and even worshipped those gods. Many of them still were carrying idols from Egypt. And now they are those who are commanded by God to follow the law. And yet, what is a problem that they have? Stealing, taking what is not theirs! Stealing is mentioned there among many sins, the latter six of the Ten Commandments that really deal with our relationship to man or one to another.
Jesus also dealt with this concept of stealing. There in the New Testament you might move over to the book of Matthew with me. You might recall when Jesus was placed on the cross. Do you remember what happened there? After He was placed up there and the cross was stood up and the nails were there in His hands and His feet, it was there on the cross that He hung and they placed the plaque above Him that mocked Him by stating “King of the Jews.” But then you might recall what verse 38 of Matthew 27 says. “Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and the other on the left.” Think about that for a moment. Jesus was dealing with robbers, with thieves, with common criminals, and was crucified, although sinless, with those who stole something that was not theirs. You see the world has always been greatly affected by stealing, and the punishment for stealing has always been very great.
When I was in Africa and lived there for many years, I remember one time as a boy even that we were in a place called Kariobangi and we heard as a mob was running a certain direction that they were stoning someone. They literally had taken up stones and were throwing the stones and killing this individual. Guess what that man had done amongst those poor folks, those individuals who had nothing in this life yet he had still stolen something that was not his. Yes it is a serious matter and it has always been a serious matter. It is something that has affected every group of every age.
What about those Christians in the New Testament? I wish you would look with me in the book of Ephesians chapter 4. We often turn there and we read verse 29 of Ephesians 4 where it talks about our communication not being corrupt. But in the verse before that, maybe you have not caught it before, notice what he says. There in verse 28 the Bible says, “Let him who stole steal no more.” Do you mean to tell me that in the Ephesian church the Christians; there were those that evidently had a problem with stealing. Well certainly there are those who have been thieves before and evidently once a thief, guess what, sometimes always a thief. We might still have that impulse or that desire sometimes to slide back into a sin although we have repented and left the sin and corrected it. Isn’t that where most of us have our struggles? The same sins over and over again because there are things that appeal to me that don’t appeal to you, and there are things that appeal to you that would never really appeal to me. And so that is where Satan keeps grinding in and attacking us, pushing that same desire, that same desire to commit the sins. Certainly then Paul reminds those of the Ephesian church, those who stole steal no more. Why? Why was it so important that they not steal besides the obvious in relationship to Christianity?
He goes on in the same verse to say this, “But rather let him labor working with his hands what is good that he may have something to give him who has need.” Why should we not steal? Well it is a sin, but because for us to labor with our hands to gain that which we have. He blesses us with talents and the ability to do the things that we do: to work, to have jobs, to secure the needed monies that we will survive with and provide for our families. But still the reality is that life was never about stealing, going to the store or the market and picking up what you can and seeing what you can get away with to feed your family. But instead getting out and doing an honest work, being an honest person, a godly or righteous person, doing the work that God has blessed you to do and then bringing an increase to provide for your own.
So here he says that stealing is not the answer to provide for someone else or to provide your own needs. It is also not the answer for someone else to take away what I have and to give it to another. Therefore again we can see that pattern of stealing, someone taking what is not rightfully theirs when they are not willing to do what? Work for it, to labor, to accomplish the task that God gave them the ability to do.
So therefore we do find that in the Old Testament in the days of Jesus, in the days of the church, stealing was still a great problem. What about today? Well you don’t have to read the paper very long or turn on the news or consider the things that are taking place around you every day. You don’t have to wait too many minutes to find something that is stolen. I know that even my nephew the other day left a phone in his locker there at school and guess what happened. The locker was something you could reach your hand in because it was bent at the bottom, and that phone disappeared. I imagine it walked off. You think? I don’t think so! Somebody probably stole it. Why? Because men have desires that are contrary to what God wants.
So what do we need to do? Be those who realize that stealing is wrong, that as the righteous we should help others to understand that stealing is wrong. And so how then might these things begin to apply to us in one way or another?
Well you think for a moment there is a saying that we have all used before. There is some truth in it, but there might also be some untruth as we speak. What about the times we say, “Finders keepers?” Well is that really true? Just because I found it and I happened to find it in my neighbor’s front yard in front of their flower bed that it is keepers for me, when most likely any logical person could understand this is probably my neighbor’s lawn mower sitting in his yard. But yet then we take it or somehow get it in the evening, or by night as the scriptures indicate sometimes with those who are thieves. Well here we find that sometimes there are those who are guilty of such, even those that we know.
It hasn’t been too long ago in our neighborhood, guess what began to disappear from many houses. Well lawnmowers and tools, anything that was left out seemed to walk off. Well there were some young people eventually caught by the police. Guess what they were doing. They were stealing! Well you think that they were from horrible homes and had bad parents? No! They were getting those things to sell them for things they also should not be involved in. You see in stealing, sometimes the individuals are driven to take what is not theirs to accomplish something else, which also we then would understand would not be proper or be right.
What about those times that we go to the store and we buy something? How many times have you gone in there and you are watching that teller as they check you out and you’re watching those items close and man, if it is a penny or two over you catch them, or if you see they have added something that really shouldn’t be there, what do you do? Again you stop them and you catch them and you want that corrected. If need be you will go to customer service afterward and you will correct that error. But then the same day you go to another store and you get out there and you’re looking through it because you’re thinking, “I’m going to catch them again. I’m going to find out so I might even get 10% over the amount of that product if I can catch this error.” Then you see, “Oh but they forgot to charge me for this item, or they forgot to charge me for that item, or where is that case of water that I bought?” Then what do we do? Well then we get in our car and we drive off. Why? Because it hasn’t affected me in a negative way, but benefitted me. Oh well there is that idea of “Finders Keepers. Well you know it is rightfully mine. I have paid so much at that store that they owe me something anyway.” Well do they? Is that the spirit of Christ? Have you ever gone back in and said, “Hey you forgot to put this apple on my bill. You need to charge me for that. You forgot it.” Have you ever seen what happens? People almost fall over! They wonder, “What is wrong with this individual?” And they are impressed. Not for your sake. Not to your glory. But because they see something different in you. They see Christ. They see the spirit of honor, of a person that when they say, “Yes,” that is exactly what they mean, and when they say, “No,” that is exactly what they mean, and a person who if you gave them an extra bag of meal by accident and that might harm that individual who is selling it, they realize you are going to do the right thing when you have been given something for free. You see brethren, that is the spirit of Christ, the attitude of God. That is what we should strive for. That is what we should want to accomplish. That is who we should want glory to be given to because again we find that the lifestyle, the mindset, the example, all of the things that we do should be about God, giving glory to God and living lives that show ourselves accordingly.
Another story in the Bible that I find is really interesting in relationship to our discussion and that is there found in the book of John, the gospel of John. There in chapter 12 verse 4 there is a man that we well know, Judas, Judas Iscariot, who was actually the one who betrayed Christ. I want you to notice what it says about Judas long before he ever did what he did against Christ. Look there if you will with me in the text in John chapter 12 once again we’re going to consider together the verse beginning with 4. “But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s on, who would betray Him said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 denarii and then given to the poor?” Verse 6 says, “This he said not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box and he used to take what was put in it.” Judas was a thief! He was a disciple of Christ and yet still a thief. Is it possible to be at church and have a brother sit next to you and him be a thief? Yes in many different regards. That he sells dishonestly, that (Luke 6:38) he uses dishonest scales when he sells to his customers, or he wants dishonest scales that he might gain what is not rightfully his. Jesus said, “With the same measure you use, with the same honesty that you give, you will be measured back by Him.” That’s what God wants. He wants us to reach a higher plateau, the higher standard. We can do things in this life that cause us to be considered as thieves in the eyes of God, and even some things spiritually.
Do you remember what Malachi talked about in Malachi chapter 3? There in verse 8 and 9 there was a question asked, “Will you rob God?” Guess what he went on to say in the same text. He says, “You have robbed me with tithes and offerings.” God said, “You haven’t tithed as you should. You haven’t offered as you should to me with sacrifice, as commanded by Me, and therefore you have (what?) robbed Me.” Let me ask us. Have we ever robbed God of our giving, our giving of a monetary means in church? Do we not give as we should? That is robbing God. You’re a thief. God has put you as a steward over what you have and yet you don’t give back to God as you should. What about in our time and our energy and all the blessings that He has done? Do we rob God in the time that we give, in the amount of effort that we give to His work? If we do, guess what we are. A thief in the mind of God! We are those who are not accomplishing what He has commanded. You know on and on we could go to see this same thing, the same points, the same ideas.
But I want to close by looking at the idea that also Jesus used in Matthew 24 concerning the thief in the night. You know we need to be ready in our lives for the second coming of Christ for someday the Bible says, “The Lord will come (guess what) as a thief in the night.” Therefore, what do we need to do? Be ready! Be prepared!
Paul said the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 5 verses 2-4 that we are those who need to realize that “Jesus will come as a thief in the night.”
Are you ready to meet the Lord? Are you ready to meet the Lord or are you like that thief? If we knew a thief was coming, what would we do? We would prepare. We would make ourselves ready. We might even call the cops because we wouldn’t want him to take what was not rightfully his. Why then would we ever want to be guilty of being a thief? Why don’t we want to live today as righteous, holy and acceptable so that in the end when the Lord comes as a thief unexpectedly that we are ready to meet God, that we are honorable in the sight of God, that we are honorable in the sight of all men, that we have been seen as those who go the extra mile, who walk the walk that God has commanded us to walk and who talk the way that God has commanded us to talk. Are we willing to do these things as God commands? Are we willing to show ourselves worthy in our sacrifices to Him? Are we willing to give of our time, money and effort and to do everything that He has said with liberality as He has commanded? Or will we rob God? May we never rob God! There is a reason we live in this life. There is a work that we are wanting to accomplish, God’s Will. We know Heaven is ours in the end, so won’t you live in the way that God commands today.
(SONG # 3 - “The Gloryland Way!”)
May I again take this opportunity to thank you for joining us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and thus a blessing to us all. Please remember that you are invited back to join us every first day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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Thanks be to God that we can live a righteous life according to His Will and be found faithful in the end. Therefore may we follow His example, never taking what is not ours or stealing what does not belong to us.