Sunday, July 19, 2015

PRINCIPLE of “An Audience of One”: SCS No. 55


Sunday, July 19, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 55


PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts of a broken nation.  All we ask is that Your will be done and whatever Your will is to give us the strength and wisdom to live Your will till Your Son comes back.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.


SCRIPTURE for Today: Colossians 3:17-24 (NIV)


17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.


SERMON for Today:


As you can see for today’s Scripture lesson I have temporarily left the Gospel of Mark and gone to Colossians.  I recently went to a church near my home and the minister used these verses for his sermon.  I have not been back to the church because I think he used the verses to promote his own view of how he wanted things to be.  You may accuse me of the same thing before you finish reading this sermonette.  The minister I am speaking of did not start with verse seventeen and if you open up your Bibles most of them will have a break between verse seventeen and eighteen.  I can assure you the original manuscript did not nor did the early manuscripts that our Bibles are translated from.


Dallas Willard in his book The Divine Conspiracy gives Os Guinness credit for coming up with the phrase “an audience of one.”  Willard says Guinness spoke about the Puritans living as if they lived before an audience of one.  


Matthew 6:1 (NIV)
6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”


Here Jesus plainly tells us not to do things to be seen or praised by others because if we do we have our reward already.  In the verses in Colossians we are being told that whatever we do to do it in the name of Jesus and for the Glory of the Father.  This is not a list of how to live our lives today.  Slave owners tried to use this Scripture to prove that slavery was ordained by God.  Today some ministers and folks in the pews want to use it to continue promoting the slavery of women.  The purpose of this scripture was to do neither.


This scripture simply says whatever you do do it well because you represent the Lord Jesus Christ on earth.  It says in verse twenty-four that we are not working for human masters.  That includes slaves, wives and children.


If all marriages were like Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33), there would be no separations or divorces.  Also, there would be no abused wives or children.  My point is that at the time Colossians was written there were slaves and wives mostly worked in the home and all Paul is saying for everyone to do the best job they can because they are doing it in the name of Jesus for God’s glory.  That does apply today and we still stand before an audience of ONE.
  
© Ed Cooper, July 19, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved


(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

HE IS NOT THE GOD OF THE DEAD: SCS No. 54


Sunday, July 12, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 54

PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts of a broken nation.  All we ask is that Your will be done and whatever Your will is to give us the strength and wisdom to live Your will till Your Son comes back.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 12:18-27 (AKJV)
18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? 25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. 26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.


SERMON for Today:

In asking their question , the Sadducees are wrong on two counts: they know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. The Sadducees falsely assume marriage in heaven is like it is on earth. However they are told that interpersonal relationships in heaven are similar to the relationships of angels.

Does that mean I will not be married to Patty in heaven?  I have no fear about the fact I will know her or about the power of God. The Sadducees did not seem to know the power of God to create a much more wonderful world than anyone can now imagine. Jesus says that the present institution of marriage will not continue in heaven, but life will be like angels in heaven meaning living without an exclusive lifelong marriage commitment to one person. This teaching might at first seem discouraging to married couples who are deeply in love with each other in this life. I think people will know their loved ones in heaven and the joy and love of close relationships in heaven will be more rather than less than it is here on earth. Jesus’ reference to “the power of God” suggests that God is able to establish relationships of even deeper friendship, joy, and love in the life to come. God has not revealed anything more about this, though Scripture indicates that the eternal glories awaiting the redeemed will be more splendid than anyone can begin to ask or think or imagine.

The question should not be will I be married to Patty in heaven, but rather how can I live a life to show the world the glory of the Redeemer.  Heaven will be great.  I don’t have to worry about the arrangements, but I do have to worry about how I live my life that God has given me to work for His Glory here and now.  Heaven will be fine, but am I living fine now?

© Ed Cooper, July 12, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

Thursday, July 09, 2015

CAN PEOPLE BE MADE MORE RACIST?

African Puff Adder (snake responsible for most deaths in Africa)


The last issue of Christianity Today has this quote in it. "Few people think of themselves as racist, while discriminatory behavior persists almost everywhere we're doing it; we just don't realize it." (Page 35, July/August 2015 Issue)

I am not sure how many people would agree with that statement.  I am sure many people would argue folks know they are racists and are aware of their racist acts.  I am not sure how many minorities would agree that they are racists.  It has been said that a minority can not be racist.

That may be true, but what word should we use when one race simply does not like another race even if that race is in the minority and does not like the majority race.  It may be improper to use the word racist, but it is not improper to say that there are folks in all the races in this country that hate folks in the other races.

I was raised in a country where white rule was the law of the land.  I was in Rhodesia when Ian Smith declared UDI from Great Britain.  The only other country besides the USA to do so.  My parents were missionaries there. The year was 1965.  

I was in the US Army from 1967-1969 which certainly was not a white ruled organization no matter what people want to say.  I was in the Army Medical Corps and had bosses over me from every race and gender.

My point is I have seen the minority hate the majority and the majority hate the minority.   I have seen people from different parts of the USA look down on each other.  You really want to be dismissed and have people talk junk about you and not be protected by anyone be a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male over sixty-five from Appalachia with a psychiatric label.

I asked can people be made more racist?  The answer is yes.  There are more pick-ups going up and down the highway in front of my house in eastern Tennessee with rebel flags flying from their beds now than ever before.  The harsher the criticism of any people the more radical you make them.  The battle over the Confederate Flag in South Carolina has been a rallying cry for every red blooded white racist in this country and particularly for every good ole boy in the south.   

People may think they won a victory, but the truth may be that more and stronger racists may have been born.  That was not what the families of the people killed in Charleston were hoping for.

© Ed Cooper, July 9, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

Sunday, July 05, 2015

WHAT DO WE OWE OUR GOVERNMENT?: SCS No. 53

St. Andrew's Forane Church of Arthunkal, Kerala, India

Sunday, July 5, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 53

PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts of a broken nation.  All we ask is that Your will be done and whatever Your will is to give us the strength and wisdom to live Your will till Your Son comes back.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 12:13-17 (AKJV)
13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Cæsar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

SERMON for Today:

As we have seen many times in Mark, the leaders are trying to trap Jesus. He does not take their bait, but rather turns their trap on them by asking for a coin and pointing out whose image is on it.  His response in verse seventeen has been used to support every possible philosophy one can think of or imagine in a dream.  He knew what He meant, but do we know what He meant?

Jesus is not establishing a political kingdom in opposition to Caesar, so it stands to reason that His followers should pay taxes and obey civil laws. There are matters that belong to the realm of civil government, and there are other matters that belong to God’s realm. Jesus does not here specify which matters belong in which realm.  However, in His other teachings He has made clear that all we have and all we are belong to God.  Jesus did not have a problem figuring out what belonged to God.  He knew everything did.  He said give Caesar his coin because money was not the foundation of a relationship with the Father.

However, many Christian ethicists today make it a very complicated issue. They teach that, in general, civil government should allow freedom in matters of religious doctrine, worship, and beliefs about God, and the church should not attempt to use the power of government to enforce allegiance to any specific religious viewpoint. All forms of the Christian church throughout the world today support some kind of separation between matters of church and matters of state. By contrast, totalitarian governments usually try to suppress the church and subsume everything under the realm of the state. And some extreme Islamic movements have tried to abolish independent civil government and subsume everything under the control of Islamic religious leaders. Historically, when the church and state have become too closely aligned, the result most often has been the compromise of the church.

This sounds right and it is mostly right, but one cannot totally separate their faith from their government.  One takes their faith into the voting booth and into the public square.  It is correct to say the church should not control the government nor the government control the church.  It is not correct to say that Christians should be silent in the public discourse on issues of governing.  People want to silence the church in the name of separation of church and state, but the fact is that only has to do with control.  It does not have to do with speech.

As this country celebrates its birth, we should all hope the voice of Christians all across this nation gets louder and the love, acceptance, redemption and restoration of all people that Jesus represented and practiced while on earth becomes the working principles of our nation.  What do we owe our government?  We owe our government our Christian voices and examples of works that model Jesus.  

© Ed Cooper, July 5, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)