Sunday, August 06, 2017

DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALONE: SCS 111


Sunday, August 6, 2017, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 111


THE WAY JESUS TAUGHT US TO PRAY:

The Lord's Prayer

Matthew 6: 5-15 (ESV)

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.




SCRIPTURE LESSON:
Matthew 5:43-48 English Standard Version (ESV)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 5:47 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

SERMONETTE:

There is more to being a Christian than simply saying the words, “I am a Christian.”  When Jesus was on this earth He set a very high standard both in word and deed.  In today’s text He lays out some very tough targets.  He tells us to love our enemies and to be perfect.

The truth is I have not done very well at either one.  I tend to fight back and I certainly am not perfect.  Does He really expect us to be able to do these two things?

The problem here is that people seem to not be able to get the meaning of the text.  In my humble opinion Jesus is not talking about a doctrine of Christian perfection as some would have you believe.  We know that no one who has lived on earth has lived a perfect life other than Jesus.  What did He mean?  He is saying we must have perfect/complete love for our fellow humans just as God does.  He is talking about how we treat others.  That is the context of the statement and the meaning of the statement.

So the question is can I love my enemies?   Can I love all people?  The answer is yes if I let the Holy Spirit guide my inner life.  I cannot do it alone, but I can if I do not try to do it alone.



May God Bless You and Walk Beside You This Week. Amen

© Ed Cooper, August 6, 2017, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is Director of Project Dream Again and an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.  He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)