Sermon Options: October 6, 2024

August 1st, 2021

TOUGH FAITH

JOB 1:1; 2:1-10

The story of Job is well known, although few of us really want to apply it to our lives so that we can understand painful circumstances. We have the natural human desire to avoid anything that will bring us pain or discomfort. Job clearly teaches us that bad things do happen to good people.

However, good people have something that helps them make some sense of their experience. This is not to say that we never question or feel pain or discomfort; it is simply a promise that eventually the circumstances will make sense and God will work all things together for our good.

I. A Man of Integrity (v. 1)

Job is described with particular words that are significant enough to be repeated in the text. They seem to imply more than just a brief description of him. These words identify his character—that is, his truest self.

He is first described with the terms blameless and upright. These mark his moral character. He was complete, undefiled, or uncompromised. Put simply, he was pure in his intention, single-minded, and single-hearted. He also was upright or righteous in the sense of being straight. He could have been the example of correct living.

Job is also described by the phrases, fearing God and shunning evil. The fear or reverence of God is prominent in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Here it takes on an even more in-depth meaning. Not only was Job righteous, but he lived such a life in piety before a Holy God. Moreover, Job was not only called to God; he was also called away from evil. The term literally means he removed or departed from evil. Such a man is one who walks before God in spiritual integrity.

II. Maintaining Integrity After Disaster (vv. 1-3)

The scene in heaven in these verses follows Satan’s attack upon Job by destroying his livelihood and his children. Job did not sin in all of the disaster that was brought upon him. In all the ruin that had come upon Job, he still maintained his integrity. The idea here is that Job courageously held strong to his integrity or true character. We must come to understand that life’s tests in the crucible will determine our integrity or true character. Job remained true.

III. Accepting Pain (vv. 4-10)

Satan is further allowed to attack Job directly and physically. In the pain and discomfort of physical problems coupled with the emotional agony of losing his family and livelihood, Job’s integrity would face the ultimate test. In verse 9, his wife questions if he still will hold to his integrity.

It is a question still asked today. Is our integrity really worth feeling the pain? The temptation to give up and not focus upon principles and convictions is always present for the believer. Job’s reply is appropriate for today. Can we accept the good from God without accepting the trouble? In a society geared to convenience and minimizing discomfort, this rhetorical question is alien.

Not only should our lives be shaken to truly examine the occasional time of suffering, but we also should underline the preceding undeserved blessings that we so often take for granted. Job was willing to live with suffering; he saw it as part of the territory of being a servant of God. Even here, Job did not sin in what he said.

We may not count our words with such weight, but Jesus said that it is out of the abundance of our hearts that our mouths speak. How’s your integrity? (Joseph Byrd)

FAMILY TIES

HEBREWS 1:1-4; 2:5-12

All large cities now have a variety of international restaurants. Whether you are in New York City, Nairobi, London, or Moscow, you will find any number of culinary tastes. The world’s largest cities also offer a wide variety of catering to religious tastes. There are Moslem mosques, Baha’i temples, Buddhist temples, Shinto temples, Jewish synagogues, and Christian churches, just to name a few of the religious opportunities.

The writer of Hebrews knew what it was like to live in a smorgasbord of religious culture. Therefore, it was not only urgent and important, it was imperative he clearly focus his readers attention toward their definitive Christian beliefs.

The one reservoir of truth from which all Christian truth springs is that the one true personal God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The trinitarian view of God is the point at which Christianity separates from its sister religions, Judaism and Islam. Hebrews adamantly argues it is God the Son who supremely reveals God’s Self to us.

I. The Glory of God in Christ Presented to Man

Hebrews 1 pronounces Jesus Christ to be the culmination of Jewish history’s saga. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times in various ways” (NIV). But now we have something “better,” even the “best.” The word better appears twelve times in this letter. Jesus the Son of God and everything that is affiliated with him is better than what was previously available.

In verses 2 and 3, Jesus superiority is demonstrated in seven declarations. 1) God has given him ownership of everything. Literally, God has made him “heir of all things.” 2) As also taught in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16, God created the universe through him. 3) He is the concentration of God’s glory, who God is and what he does. 4) He is the exact representation of God. That is, he is the essence of God made understandable to us. 5) Echoing the declarations of John 1:1 and Colossians 1:17, Hebrews identifies Jesus as the word of God, which not only creates but also holds all things together. 6) Jesus cosmic functions prove his power to relate to humanity’s need for restoration from its sin. The Son of God, therefore, is better than all that has gone before because he has done what no one else or nothing else could do. He has provided purification for sins. 7) Having done so, he is exalted to more than a better position than that of all others. He is awarded equality with God as described in the phrase, “sat down at the right hand” of God. Thus he is intimately involved with God and intercedes for those who trust him.

II. The Best Brings Men to the Best Position

After the author of Hebrews thoroughly explains Jesus as the Son of God, he proceeds to proclaim the humanity of Jesus. What greater argument for Jesus humanity can there be than Jesus suffering—suffering even unto death. Jesus, the Son incarnate, literally taking on flesh, put himself in the same vulnerability as flesh, a position a little lower than the angels. But from that position he has been exalted now above all. He has imparted to flesh his holiness. That holiness is available to all who will receive him.

They who receive him are, therefore, truly his brothers: he sharing their flesh, they sharing his holiness. He has brought “many sons to glory.” (Carolyn Volentine)

LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME

MARK 10:2-16

Why do we have children? If you ask people that question, you’re likely to get one of three responses:

• We had children to populate the earth. Now times have changed, and having large families is not necessary or even popular anymore. Procreation alone isn’t reason enough to have children.

• We had children so we would be less lonely. There’s some bad news, I’m afraid: children make parents feel more lonely, not less. At first, it feels good to be needed twenty-four hours a day. Soon you’re lonely for adult conversation. Thinking about the future makes you lonely. The future comes and the kids leave home. That makes you lonely.

• We had children because they give meaning to life. Viewed like this, children become another possession, like a Rolex or a BMW. Treat children as things and they’ll grow up with no sense of self-worth or values.Then, why do we have children? William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas, in their book "Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony," write: “Christians have children, in great part, in order to be able to tell our children the story. . . . It is our privilege to invite our children, and other’s children, to be a part of this great adventure called the Church.”

That’s a great reason for Christians to have children. It reminds us whose we are. By telling and living the story, we invite and enable the children to come to Jesus. It is a great privilege to tell the story. It’s an even greater privilege to empower children to tell it. The child’s point of view helps us maintain the awe and mystery of faith.

Sometimes we fail to notice what is in plain sight. It’s not that we don’t care—it’s that the things we walk by every day become so commonplace that we forget they are there. Children help us see with new eyes and ears. Their experiences enhance our faith experience.

Children can be a pain. They leave fingerprints, spill soft drinks, and get crumbs all over everything. They’re loud, noisy, and sometimes disrespectful. But they can also be angelic and reverent. Our job is to help the children hear the story, because sometimes they can even be God’s messengers.

The day after our denomination began a campaign to raise money for our camp, nine-year-old Erica wanted to give me something for the camp. I thought she meant a dollar or two. Instead, she shocked me by giving me $100. I started not to take it, but the light in her eyes said I had to. It was a sacred offering. Her mother said Erica prayed about how much to give. Do you know where she got the money? It was the money she received for her birthday and Christmas combined with the money she earned for good grades and picking up aluminum cans.

Erica’s gift gave us a fresh understanding of love and giving. I called the camp administrator and told him about Erica’s gift. He told our denominational newspaper and the newspaper ran a story about it. Other preachers called, and they shared the story with their congregations. There is no telling how much more money that $100 generated. But no matter how much was given, there was no gift as great or as large as what Erica gave. Through her unselfish gift we heard our Master’s voice.

Sometimes children are God’s messengers, sent so that we can hear the message in fresh ways. The Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep. Sometimes we get so caught up in keeping the pasture clean and tidy that we can’t hear the Shepherd’s voice. That’s when we need to let the lambs of God speak to us. Listen closely and you’ll hear the Master’s voice. (Billy D. Strayhorn)

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