Tag Archives: sin

The Old Man and The New Man

McKee Road Baptist – June 17, 2020 Wednesday Evening – Coronavirus Emailed

Colossians 3:9-11 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with
his deeds; (10) And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the
image of him that created him: (11) Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision
nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

You can tell a lot about people in our society by the way they dress. People wear the
uniform of their profession. Professional athletes to nurses, from firemen to policemen;
all wear the uniform of their profession. Our uniform is an identifier, it identifies us.
That is precisely Paul’s point through verse 17 of this chapter. Christians must dress
themselves ethically in accordance with their new identity. They have died with Christ
and risen to new life.

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his
deeds;

As believers, we are called to be truth tellers. God does not lie but is “the God of truth”
Isaiah 65:16, as his children, we are to be like him. Lying simply does not belong
among God’s children. Society may have plenty of room for the lie, but that is because
society does not know God.

The figure of the “old man” and “new man” is common in Paul’s writing. The
expressions “old man” and “new man” occur in basically four places in Paul’s letters:
Romans 6:6; Ephesians 2:15; 4:22-24; and our text, Colossians 3:9-11. In order to
understand this important expression, we will examine the four passages in which Paul
uses it. In each passage the “old man” is the same expression in Greek. The expression
“new man” is the same in Ephesians 2:15, Ephesians 4:24 and in Colossians 3:10.
Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin
might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Matthew Henry says of Romans 6:6, “The body of sin must be destroyed. The
corruption that dwelleth in us is the body of sin, consisting of many parts and members,
as a body. This is the root to which the axe must be laid. We must not only cease from
the acts of sin (this may be done through the influence of outward restraints, or other
inducements), but we must get the vicious habits and inclinations of weakened and
destroyed; not only cast away the idols of iniquity out of the heart. That henceforth we
should not serve sin.” Paul’s is saying, “No” to the reign of sin, and, “Yes” to life in God.

Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of
commandments contained in ordinance; for to make himself of twain one new man, so
making peace;

Ephesians is a letter dedicated to unfolding the mystery of the gospel as it relates to the
unification of Jew and Gentile in “one new man.” The focus in Ephesians 2:15 is on the newly created community in Christ. These are believers where hatred and division were the order of the day but now are joined together in Christ.

Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man,
which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of
your mind; (24)And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in
righteousness and true holiness.

Paul urges the Ephesians to the fact that they have received a certain calling.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of
the vocation wherewith ye are called,

They are to walk or live in a way commensurate (in agreement) with their new calling
and privilege. Believers are not to live as the Gentiles do, those who are separated from the life of God. The Gentiles lived to fulfill their senses and lust. The believers of Ephesus were
not to live like that.

The “old man” refers to their former life as Gentiles and the sin that so consumed their
lives. They were taught to lay this aside and to put on the new man. The figure “put on”
and “put off” is one of exchanging clothes and refers to a change in character in light of
a change in identity, having moved from the old sphere of existence (without God) to a
new sphere of existence (with God).

In Ephesians 4:22-24 the “old man” refers to a lifestyle consistent with sin, but
inconsistent with being in Christ, while the “new man” refers to a lifestyle, “to walk” in a
way consistent with being in Christ and truth.

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not
as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his
deeds;

Paul reminds his readers that they have been raised with Christ, and, therefore, should
seek things above and set their minds on things above, not on earthly things. Since they
have died with Christ, they are put to death “whatever in their nature belongs to the
earth” Colossians 3:5; referring to such things as, “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate
affection, concupiscence and covetousness which is idolatry.” The Colossian believers
are to put off all such things commensurate with their former life; such as “wrath, malice,
blasphemy and filthy communication…”

The reason the Colossian believers are to do this is because they have put off “the old
man” and have been clothed with “the new man.” They have put off the old man and
have been clothed with the new at conversion.

The “new man” in Colossians 3:10-11 refers to the new community that erases all
racial and social lines. Where there is “neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor
uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Paul is
telling them they are to be clothed with the new man.

The “old man,” by contrast, is the body of people still under its old head Adam, and the
old clothing of sinful deeds is worn by all. The expression “image of God” refers to Christ Himself so that the renewal involves progressive conformation into the likeness of Christ himself.

Thus the “new man” in Colossians 3:10 not only applies to each believer, but rather the
new community in Christ, the church, and together we reflect the image of God. It is for
this reason, since we are the “new man” corporately, that we are not to live like we once
did. The “old man” refers to people in solidarity with Adam under the old age of sin, death,
and judgment.

The crucifixion of the “old man” refers to a definitive break with the past in Adam, and is
something God reckons to be true of us. The sinner is separated from the community of
Adam and the relationships that exist there. Paul is reminding us that the “old man”
must be continually put off.

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his
deeds;

The words “put off” means: “to take off or strip off clothing – to undress, to disrobe,
stripping off.” This term is used in Colossians 2:11 & 15, and in both places, it refers to
the effects of the cross. This word carries the idea of “strip off from oneself.”

The Greek indicates that this stripping off from oneself took place at the cross. That is
where the great change took place. This principle is the basis for all spiritual life in the
New Testament.

Notice the end of verse 9, “…with his deeds.” The word “deeds” is from the Greek word
praxis, which means: “practice.” “Deeds” is function, implying sustained activity and/or
responsibility. Because the “old man” was stripped off, so should the sins that are
connected with him. We are to stop acting upon our old life and start acting upon our
new life.

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after
the image of him that created him:

Every believer is a new man:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things
are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

We are new, because we hold the same status that Jesus does before God. We are
new, because we possess the life of Christ. We are new, because of our position before
God.

In reference to the new man Paul says, “…which is renewed in knowledge…”
The word “renewed” means: “to cause something to become new and different, with the
implication of becoming superior. It means to make new, to renew, to cause a change to
a previous, preferable state.” This word comes to mean: “to restore, to bring back, to
make new; not in the sense of recent, but different.”

Notice what Paul says about this “new man.”

Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor
uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

This clearly demonstrates the nature of the “new man.” In the body of Christ there are
no class distinctions. The Greek here for “no distinction” is: “Where there is neither,”
Greek nor Jew.”

We must remember that people are not born equal. We have different IQs, physical
beauty, strength. There is no such thing as true equality in this life. Members of the
human race are not born equal. But regeneration brings true equality to people.
The terms “Greek nor Jew” are national differences. “Greek” represents a person who is
a Gentile, a non-Jew. The Roman world classified a “Greek” as a person who
participates in Greek culture and, in so doing, would speak the Greek language, but not
necessarily a person of Greek ethnic background. A “Greek” was equivalent to a
civilized person.

The terms “circumcised nor uncircumcised” refer to a religious difference. The Greek
and Jew, one circumcised and the other uncircumcised, were separated by seemingly
insurmountable racial and religious barriers. They had nothing to do with each other.
Jewish people refused to enter a Gentile house. They would not eat a meal cooked by
Gentiles, nor buy meat prepared by Gentile butchers. When they returned to Israel, they
showed their disdain (to think unworthy of notice) for Gentiles by shaking off the Gentile
dust from their clothes and sandals. Even the apostles were reluctant to accept Gentiles
as equal partners in the church Acts 10-11. But the gospel broke down those barriers,
and Jew and Gentile became one in Christ.

The terms “Barbarian, Scythian” are cultural differences. “Barbarian” properly means:
“one whose speech is rude, or harsh.” It signified one who speaks a strange or foreign
language, I Corinthians 14:11.

The “barbarian” came to represent anyone ignorant of Greek or its culture, a person not
participating in Greek culture and civilization. The focus is on culture rather than on
language, I Corinthians 14:11.

“Scythians” were uncultured, nomadic people from north of the Black and Caspian seas.
They were fierce barbarians who offered human sacrifices and scalped their enemies
and used their skulls as drinking cups. The Jewish historian, Josephus, added, “The
Scythians delight in murdering people and are little better than wild beasts.”

The terms “bond nor free” refer to economic or social distinctions. The “slave” in Roman
times was not classified in law as a human being. His master could maim or kill him at
his pleasure. The slave had no rights. The slave was viewed, in the words of Aristotle,
as “a living tool.” He did not even have the right of marriage.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

The meaning here is that all are on a level; that there is no distinction. All are to be
regarded and treated as brethren, and that, therefore, no one lie to another.

There is no place for racial barriers or cultural snobbery in the body of Christ. God has
united all believers in Christ Jesus. This was a startling, unbelievable revelation for the
first-century world. The racial, religious, cultural, and social barriers separating people
were as deep-seated and formidable as any in our day.

There is no place for manmade barriers in the church since Christ is all, and in all.
Because Christ indwells all believers, all are equal. He breaks down all racial, religious,
cultural, and social barriers, and makes believers into one new man.

Pastor Don Thomason

Beware!

McKee Road Baptist – April 26, 2020 AM Worship

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Introduction:

Daily, for the past three to four months we have been alerted to the
dangers of the Coronavirus by the news media. There has not been a dearth of
information regarding this pandemic. The coverage has been non-stop with each news
agency interviewing a different “expert’ every day. The warning is to stay alert. We must
stay alert, because, as we have been informed this disease is highly contagious and in
some will cause death.

We have been asked to keep ourselves separated from others. When we must go out,
we have been asked to keep at least six feet of distance between each other. The
experts have told us that we should also wear masks. This is to keep any air-borne
droplets from being transmitted to others. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the
air. If not transmitted, by someone as close as three feet, they can be transmitted from
other sources such as floors or surfaces. A person can become infected by touching a
surface that has the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing
your hands.

Like many other churches we have determined it best to practice safe habits during the
COVID-19 pandemic and have chosen to not gather together for a time. Meanwhile
many of us have been blessed by countless “live-feed,” Facebook messages we have
watched on our media devices. I am reminded of the story of Joseph, when he told his
brothers in Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it
unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. God is using the
bad things to promote His gospel. But we must be alert as we watch so many that
speak as an authority to the possibility, we might have consumed false teaching

We must be alert spiritually, because there are dangers to our faith. We must keep our
eyes and ears open and be aware of what is happening around us. There are those
who would pervert the truth of Christianity. This perversion manifests itself in subtle
ways. Without a doubt you have already encountered dangerous teachings. Our text
today gives us a stern warning against any teaching that would detract from Christ.
When Paul wrote this letter there was a subtle and powerful false teaching that was
threatening to infiltrate the Colossian church. We know that it contained elements of
false philosophy. Throughout the letter, Paul switches back and forth between his
seeming attack of Jewish elements of this false teaching, and his attack on the Greek
elements of this false teaching. This false teaching, this heresy, was a blend of these
two philosophies.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

“Beware” means: “to look at,” but it is also used of mental functions like: “direct one’s
attention to something, watch, beware, be on guard.” It is a command for a constant
circumspect watchfulness, because of the dangers lurking at every corner.
The idea is “look out”. The idea is: “guard yourself from this”. The idea is: “beware of
this”. That is how it is used in Philippians chapter 3 when Paul talks about the Judaizers
(Those that teach it is necessary to adopt Jewish customs and practices to be saved.)

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

The Colossian Christians were to: “Beware lest anyone spoil you…” It is a compound
word which means: “booty”, as in booty that you would capture, and “ago”, which
means: “to lead or carry”. It is to carry away a prize won in battle. It’s to be taken
captive.

The brethren at the church in Colosse were in danger of being kidnapped by error. Paul
was warning the brethren that they can be taken captive by wrong philosophy, wrong
teaching, false doctrine. Such teaching only works to deprive believers of their liberty in
Christ. These teachings can hold them hostage for years, if not for the rest of their lives.
Note: contrary to what the world believes, nobody is freer than a Christian. Nobody.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

There is always the danger of being caught up in false teaching in one way or another.
That is why it is most important to guard yourself. It is so important to the life and the
health of the church and to the members that make up the church.

Some of us are old enough to remember the People’s Temple Christian Church. Jim
Jones was leader of the People’s Temple Christian Church. On November 18, 1978, in
Guyana, Jim Jones murdered 909 people, mostly his followers and then committed
suicide. One of the most frightening discoveries about the People’s Temple Christian
Church was that a large majority of its members came from Christian homes of one sort
or another. Most people that joined the church did so because they believed it offered a
higher experience of Christian living. Paul’s warning is very pertinent to the church
today. Beware!

Note: every false teacher may not be a Jim Jones but every false teacher is dangerous.
Paul knew the danger. That is why he struggled so hard in the ministry. That’s why he
wrote, back in chapter 2, verse 1: “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for
you…”.

Paul goes on to say, “Beware lest anyone spoil you through philosophy…”
What’s philosophy? Very simply define it as: “the love of wisdom”. “Philos” is the
Greek word for love. “Sophos” is the Greek word for wisdom.

The love of wisdom is a good thing in many cases. There are good and bad
philosophies, but what the apostle has in mind here, of course, is the danger the
Colossians are facing of being seduced by bad philosophy.

In the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote in one of his books, “There are
three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of whom are the Pharisees, of the second the Sadducees, and the third sect called the Essenes”. That
said every age has battled against expounders of false philosophy.

Paul is talking about something very specific here. But there is application here for us
today. We fight against any philosophy that detracts from the sufficiency of Jesus Christ
and the purity of His Word is to be rejected.

One theologian said, “There are too many ‘ball-park’ interpreters and expositors today.
The theological atmosphere of evangelicalism is saturated with a dense fog of
uncertainty and misplaced emphasis in handling the Word of God. Many churches are
on the rocks because of careless hermeneutics (The study of the principles of
interpretation concerning the Bible.), ignorance of Biblical languages, and unsystematic
theology (Systematic theology formulates an orderly, rational and coherent account of
the doctrines of the Christian faith. So, unsystematic theology would be everything that
systematic theology is not.) Rough estimates as to what this or that passage means will
not do. We need qualified expositors who will take the time and make the necessary
sacrifices to do their homework well and bring clarity to the minds of God’s people as
they read and study God’s holy Word.”

Today we live in an age where the philosophy of many is this; do not offend me, do not
bore me, do not preach long, do not preach doctrine but make me feel good about
myself. Do this they say and your church will grow. I site the following paragraph as one
example of proof.

Many remember the Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove, California. It was a massive
structure constructed with reflective glass and at one time was touted as “the largest
glass building in the world.” Its founder, Robert Schuller once said: “For the church to
address the unchurched with a theocentric (that means a God-centered) attitude is to
invite failure in mission. The non-churched who have no vital belief in a relationship with
God will spurn, reject, or simply ignore the theologian, church spokesperson, preacher,
or missionary who approaches with Bible in hand, theology on the brain and the lips,
and expects nonreligious persons to suspend their doubts and swallow the theocentric
assertions as fact”.

You see, Schuller’s premise was built around the assertion that those that are
unregenerate (the lost) are transformed through human ingenuity and not through a
sovereign act of God’s grace through faith in the Word of the Living God. By the way the
former denomination of this church was listed as Reformed Church in America it is now
listed as Roman Catholic.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Paul says that it is the Gospel that is the power of God. Our responsibility is to proclaim
the Gospel. God will take care of how the heart responds to that.

There are many philosophies in our day that are deceiving young people, as well as
many adults. We hear this philosophy much of the time. It is called, “Tolerance”, which
says, “No one can say what is right and what is wrong”.

Some will say that adultery, abortion or homosexuality is wrong for them, but who are
you to decide for everyone else. A recent Gallup Poll, declared that 82% of college students say they believe in no absolute truths. It comes down to this: anything goes out
there. Morality of man is every man for himself. Right and wrong is no longer based on
absolutes, but on individual opinion.

It should be said that this is nothing new. We have just found a way to place a
percentage of those that believe this way. I am reminded that there has always been an
element that believed this. Isaiah said, Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put biter for sweet, and sweet for
bitter. Isaiah 5:20. Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every
man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Without a moral compass, people cannot make rational decisions about what is right
and wrong for themselves or for society. We are told that you cannot decide if an
unborn baby is a human being or a blob of tissue, because we have listened to the
rhetoric of the “politically correct” instead of checking out the medical facts that life
begins at conception, an absolute supported completely by the Bible.

Believers, we are engaged today in a battle between worldviews. We must understand
and defend a Biblical worldview in all of life. We must make it our goal to impart this
Biblical worldview to the youth who will lead the next generation. Make it your legacy.

Vain Deceit

Paul goes on to describe this philosophy as “and vain deceit”. “Vain deceit” describes
“philosophy”. The idea is that the particular philosophy Paul had been warning his
readers about was vain deception. These are not two separate dangers.

“Vain deceit” describes the nature of human philosophy. “Vain” means “empty.” It is (a)
“without content, without any basis, without truth, without power,” or (b) of the effects,
“without result, without profit, without effect, without reaching its goal”.

The word “deceit”, was used of the seductive deception that comes from wealth (Mark
4:19), and “the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). It is vain (empty) deceit. But what
does it mean to be deceived? “Deceit” means: “to cheat, deceive, beguile. It is that
which gives a false impression whether by appearance, statement or influence”. This
empty philosophy connives and misleads, it deceives or lies to people about what is
true.

Human philosophy simply said are the human traditions and principles of the world. It is
not according to the person and work of Christ.

After the tradition of men

This is the origin of false teaching. It is from the devices of men and not the voice of
God. “Tradition” means: “a handing down or a handing over”.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye
have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

There are good traditions. But they are the traditions of God. In our text in Colossians,
what is being condemned are the “tradition of men ” it is of men.
We must “beware” that our traditions do not contradict the Word of God. Because if they
do, they are error. If it goes against the Bible, it is not of God.

Paul tell us that these “vain” (empty), deceptive philosophies depend on human
tradition. They arise out of the thinking of men and then are passed along from
generation to generation so as to appear popular and widely supported. Hardly anyone
dares question them, because everybody believes them. An obvious example today is
the theory of evolution. Evolution is now being widely challenged on a scientific level.
Many evolutionists are beginning to question Darwin’s view. But it wasn’t all that long
ago that the theory of evolution was almost universally accepted.

Remember, with “philosophy”, there are biblical or divine traditions that have their
source in God’s special revelation, and human traditions; those that come from man’s
own ideas and theories.

Many people do not evaluate what they believe for themselves. They believe it simply
because their family believed it, “My mom told me so”. How you do know it is true? “I
never question it”. A person without healthy skepticism is vulnerable to seduction.
The test question should be: “Can it be substantiated by the Bible?”

Remember, human philosophy is: drawn from human traditions, and it is inspired by
basic principles of the world.

After the rudiments of the world

What are “the rudiments of the world”? Rudiment means anything in a row or series. It
was used of the letters of the alphabet (alpha, beta, gamma, delta; or in our vernacular,
a, b, c, d). It was used of numbers in a series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). It was used of soldiers in
rank and file down a line. It had to do with was anything in a series. It came to be
understood in the sense of elementary things (like the ABC’s of life).

The “rudiments of the world” was a reference to the religious practices the false
teachers were promoting in Paul’s day.

Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world,
why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

Here Paul is talking about Jewish laws.

Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of
an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of
things to come; but the body is of Christ.

It you look at its use in Galatians, you again see its Jewish usage.

Galatians 4:3-5 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the
elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his
Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the
law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

These “rudiments of the world” was part of Jewish legalism. They were the rudiments as
taught them by the law, as their schoolmaster. They were subject to a lifetime of
bondage to these rudiments of Jewish law.

So, this human philosophy is described as: being drawn from human traditions, being
inspired by basic principles of Judaism, and it is not according to the person and work
of Christ, “…and not after Christ.”

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

This verse can be summarized as the contrast between that which is according to Christ and everything else. Whatever we think of “philosophy”, “vain deceit”, “tradition of men”, or “after the rudiments of the world”, the bottom line is that these can be seen to be totally
against Jesus Christ.

That is the key. It is not according to Christ. Just as grace plus anything else equals
zero. If you add anything to grace, you negate grace. In the same way, Christ plus
anything else equals zero. You cannot make any additions to Jesus Christ, or you
subtract from His all-sufficiency. Everything we do, everything we are as believers in
Jesus Christ must be according to Jesus Christ.

Remember if you are a child of God, He was sufficient to save you. That is what the
gospel is all about. But is He sufficient for you in every area of your life, for every need
of your life, in your relationships, in your marriage, at your job, for your every spiritual
and material need? Is He sufficient? To say, “No” is to deny His sufficiency. He is
sufficient. We need to teach and proclaim that truth and uphold it. We need to
encourage one another to live in His truth. We need to warn each other against
anything, any philosophy, any tradition that is not according to Christ.

Conclusion:

We must open our spiritual eyes. If you are spiritually aware you will be
able to testify that God is at work. Many see this time as one of inconvenience to their
daily routine. Many proclaim that it is just an added exercise that is totally unnecessary.
One day we will be able to better judge these days in our lives and whether all steps
taken were necessary but until that day happens, step back and get God’s perspective.
Watch and see what He is doing. Position yourself to be right in the middle of His will
and further the cause of His kingdom.

McKee Road Baptist Members, “…Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:2

Pastor Don Thomason

Grounded in Love

Ephesians 3:17-21 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted
and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth,
and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is
able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power
that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all
ages, world without end. Amen.

Introduction:

Please consider what the Word of God is saying. Do not assume that you do not need help in this area of your life. It is especially in times when we think we do not need it at all, that we need it the most. Consider all the times Scripture says something like, I bring you to remembrance or remember. Paul is making the point that we are to be grounded in the love of God. This is a love we do not come by naturally but by God.

Paul is praying that the Ephesians would be strengthened with the power of the Spirit in
their thinking. He is praying that their thinking would fall in line with the Word of God. He
is teaching that the Jew and Gentile are equal before God as the one new man. There
was to be no more Jew, no more Gentile, just children of God. This is critical because if
their thinking does not line up with this, they could fraction into a Jewish Church and a
Gentile Church. Paul was teaching it was most important for them to think correctly.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”

This goes hand-in-hand with what Paul said in verse 16, “To be strengthened with might
by his Spirit in the inner man.” This is one action. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts
by faith” is an explanation of how it is that God will strengthen you in the inner man!
When Paul says “inner man” here he is talking about the mind, the thinking process.
Paul’s phrase, “the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16) is synonymous with the heart
(Ephesians 3:17). And the heart is another reference to the thinking. Paul is praying
that the Ephesians would be strengthened with the power of the Spirit in their thinking.
“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love”

Paul prays that they would “be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner
man” so the result would be that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” in order for
that to transpire you must be rooted and grounded His love.

Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and
grounded in love,

Illustration: Try holding your breath. You can only hold it for a certain length of time.
Eventually you take a breath or pass out and then take a breath. That is just natural.
Fight as much as you will, this will be the outcome of your effort. When you became a
child of God the most natural thing in the world was this, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart, it should permeate you, it should exude from you, it should touch
everybody around you. It should be a way of life, but some people seem to be holding
their breath.

I used breathing as an illustration but know this, loving others is not as easy for us as
breathing. If loving others is so natural and easy, why are there so many exhortations in
Scripture to love one another? If it is like breathing, we should not need to be told to do
it at all. It should just be automatic for believers.

“Rooted” means: “to cause to take root, to become firmly rooted or fixed.” It suggests
the thought of something that took place in the past, but whose effects persist in the
present, because of their relationship with Jesus.

“Grounded” means: “to lay a basis for, to build upon a foundation, to build, to be
founded, to be grounded.” He will be your foundation, and the foundation of your life will
be His love. Like buildings, our lives are to be built deep into the foundation of God’s
love.

To be rooted in something means that you’re getting your nourishment from it, your life;
from the water, and from the nutrients and minerals in the ground. You are absorbing all
the life of the love of God. That is what is making you live! That is what is making you
alive, you are drawing upon the love that is in Christ Jesus. Rooted pictures a sturdy,
growing tree that sinks down roots that enable it to withstand drought and the fierce
storms of life. To be grounded in love pictures a solid building with a foundation that
goes down to the bedrock. It can withstand a flood or an earthquake, because it is built
on the rock.

We cannot handle life unless we have a solid foundation, unless we are rooted and
grounded in love. Many times, we question God’s love for us due to our situation. Our
emotions cause us to feel like God has forsaken us. But Scripture teaches that God’s
love is just as real in times of adversity as it is in times of blessings. God’s love to us is
unchangeable.

Consider Calvary as evidence of God’s love for us:

1 John 4:9-10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent
his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love,
not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
our sins.

The living God showed His love by meeting our greatest need and redeemed from us
from an eternal separation from Him.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us.

Please notice our condition when God demonstrated His love for us, “while we were yet
sinners.” God loved us when we hated Him. He reached out in love and met our
greatest need while we were His enemies.

Ephesians 2:1-6 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of
wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he
loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

This was our condition; we were dead in sin. We had an appointment with God’s wrath.
We have all sinned against a holy, righteous God. We have rebelled against His
commands and defied His moral law. Because of this, we all deserve His wrath. We do
not deserve God’s love or mercy.

Any time that we are tempted to question God’s love for us, we need to look to Calvary.
If God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us when we were His enemies,
surely, He loves us enough to care for us now that we are His children. In the midst of
the worst adversity, I can be assured of God’s love for me because of Calvary.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be
against us?

“God is for us” This is a concise summary of the Gospel. God is on our side. Think
about it! Meditate upon it! The immutable God, has loved us from eternity past has
made provision for your salvation.

Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall
he not with him also freely give us all things?

“But delivered him up for us all” The word “delivered” means: “to turn over to
judgement.” Who delivered up God to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not
the Jews, for envy; but the Father, for LOVE.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us
accepted in the beloved.

God’s unfailing love for us is a fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true
whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our
faith create it. But the experience of that love, and the comfort it is intended to bring, is
dependent upon our believing the truth about God’s love as it is revealed to us in the
Scriptures. Doubts about God’s love will deprive us of the comfort of His love.

Ephesians 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and
length, and depth, and height;

“May be able to comprehend” Unless they were “rooted and grounded in love,”
“because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,” (Romans 5:5.) it would be
impossible for them to comprehend the exceeding riches of the love of Christ.

“May be able,” It means “to seize, or to grasp for your own.” Paul is praying that we may
have the power to lay hold of, or comprehend Christ’s love for us. This is not something
we can accomplish apart from God’s divine power.

Every child of God knows the love of Christ in some way, but we do not all know it to the
same extent. Some are babes in Christ, who, like all babies, are quite self-centered. They assume that Christ loves them because they are so loveable! But as you grow in
Christ, you begin to see how wretchedly sinful your heart was and, apart from God’s
preserving grace, still is. And yet, wonder of wonders, He still loves you! You grow
deeper in Christ’s love as you realize that He loves you in spite of all your failures and
sins. Comprehending Christ’s love requires God’s supernatural power, because it is not
naturally discerned.

“With all saints,” This is a reference to all believers. It references all those who are set
apart from the world unto God. Paul wants all believers to understand the love of God.
“What is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” We are presented with four
dimensions: “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.”

These are the dimensions of God’s love for us. Verse 17 ends with love and verse 19
starts with love, and these four dimensions are talking about God’s love for His people.
What is the breadth of His love?

Chapter 2 verses 11 and following tell us that His love is broad enough to take the
Gentiles, who were called uncircumcision, and to bring them together with those who
were far off (verse 13) and make them near by the blood of Christ. To take Jew and
Gentile and make them one (verse 14) and break down the middle wall of partition and
abolish the enmity.

What is the length of His love?

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Now look at chapter 2:

Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his
grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

The length is from eternity in the past till eternity. Christ’s love extends from eternity to
eternity. It is an eternal love that will not let us go! 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Charity
never faileth”; that’s its length, it’s eternal. God tells us, “I have loved thee with an
everlasting love,” Jeremiah 31:3.

What is the depth of God’s love?

How deep is His love? The depth of His love caused Him to leave the glory of heaven
and His exalted position there and come to this earth to be born as a baby. It moved
Him to go to the extreme suffering of the cross, where “For he hath made him to be sin
for us, who knew no sin:” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

His love is deep enough to reach us when we were dead in trespasses and sin. As
Charles Wesley wrote, “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die
for me?” His love is truly amazing!

What is the height of God’s love?

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

His love lifts us up to our exalted position of being seated with Him in the heavenly
places:

Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly
places in Christ Jesus:

You cannot know the love of Christ or grasp these four dimensions without having first
been strengthened by the Holy Spirit in the inner man and having Christ dwell in your
heart through faith:

Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye
might be filled with all the fulness of God.

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” This is Christ’s love to us.
The word “know” in this verse expresses experiential knowledge. Paul was praying that
they would experience the love of God that surpasses knowledge.

How can we know a love that surpasses knowledge? There is so much more to know
about the infinite love of Christ. However, this does not mean that we cannot know
anything about it, or that we can know only a little about it. In fact, we are to grab hold of
the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ. We can understand it.
“That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Paul asks that we would “be filled.”
We cannot fill ourselves with the fullness of God. It only comes from Him. Note, it comes
from Him as we are filled with His Word.

The word “filled” has the idea of being “controlled.” For example, in the Gospels it says,
he was filled with anger, he was filled with rage, he was filled with wrath, filled with
malice. It means that one attitude dominated or controlled them. Muse on this thought.
Paul says later in this Epistle that believers are to, “Be filled with the Spirit,” meaning
that we are to be controlled by Him. So, the question is how are we controlled by the
Spirit? We appropriate the controlling grace of the Spirit through the means of letting the
Word of Christ richly dwell within us. I think the same is true with the fulness of God.
When we are controlled by the Word, we are controlled by the Spirit, and thereby
controlled by the fulness of God.

McKee Road Baptist, we need more than a casual acquaintance with the Bible. God’s
Word is to dwell in us abundantly. It is to saturate us. It must become part of our very
being. It must transform the way we think and act. This can only happen as we read it,
memorize it, and meditate on it to the point that it controls us.

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that
we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
“Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.”
Paul again alludes to God’s power. To be able one must have power.
In other words, we can have confidence that God will grant this request to grasp and to
know all the dimensions of His love; in fact, He will do more than what we can ask or
imagine.

Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy
great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Consider this: This all-powerful Creator loves us:

“Exceeding Abundantly.” Simply said it is “above or beyond, above or beyond what we
can ask or think.” God is unlimited in power.

“According to the power that worketh in us.” (Consider, Ephesians 1:19-20.) In other
words, there is an extraordinary power available to believers, a power that can
accomplish far more than we ordinarily think or imagine. It comes by the Spirit. It is
provided by the riches of God’s glory.

Paul put it this way in Philippians:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Can we do all things through Christ? Consider the Scripture verses that precede verse
13.

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I
know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to
be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

What Paul is saying here is that whatever circumstance he finds himself in, he can
handle it through God’s enabling power. This spiritual truth applies to all who live in
dependence upon Christ:

Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages,
world without end. Amen.

“Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus.” It is fitting to say that glory be to God
in the church and in Christ Jesus, because it is through them that men and angels will
see God and will glorify Him.

God saves people who were formerly dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), seats them
with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), and builds them into His Holy
Temple (Ephesians 2:21), He is glorified.

“Throughout all ages, world without end.” This is a mixture of time and eternity. The idea
is that God is to be glorified forever and ever, beginning in this age and continuing into
eternity.

“Amen.” Here, we all are invited to ascribe glory to God by saying along with Paul, “Amen!”

Conclusion:

Oh, how we fail to realize Christ’s love for us. This is one reason why it is
so important to mediate upon his love for us. We need to muse upon it. The times we
think that God has forgotten us, the times that we do not believe that he loves us,
should be a reminder that we are not thinking on his love for us.

Consider His love for you tonight!

He is the Silent Conqueror

Read the crucifixion story: John 19:1- 20:18

Isaiah 53:7-9 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth. (8) He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who
shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the
transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit
in his mouth.”

Introduction:

Today we celebrate Easter. For many in business this is a time to
merchandise and make gain. For others it is a day that eggs are boiled, colored and
hidden for our children to find. Still others would look to have family gather for fellowship
and food. To the child of God Easter means something totally different. It is the day we
celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This morning I want us
to consider Jesus as He suffered the cross. Together we will ruminate about Jesus as
he was on the cross.

Have you ever been accused of something you did not do? If you grew up in a home
with at least one sibling you definitely know what I am talking about. My parents were
very good at getting to the truth but oh how I dreaded that time from possible accusation
to the time that justice was properly served. I can remember how stressful it was as I
would plead my case that I was innocent.

Sometimes, we will read or hear about someone that was wrongly convicted. Much of
the time those wrongly convicted will spend years and even decades in prison. How
does this happen. In America today, there are at least six ways to be wrongfully
convicted. The first is to be misidentified by an eyewitness. This is the leading cause of
conviction. The other are; unvalidated forensic science, false confessions, jailhouse
informant testimony, police and prosecutorial misconduct, a poor defense lawyer and
bias.

That is what happened to Jesus some 2,000 years ago. He had not done anything
wrong. He had not committed any crimes. He had not hurt anyone. But those that were
in authority had decided he had to die. In order to do this, they had to make him guilty
so they falsely charged him and moved him from hearing to another. In the end they
were successful. Jesus was crucified on a cross between two thieves. But He did not
deserve to be there.

There is a common proclamation of those that have been wrongly accused. It goes
something like this, “I did not do it. I am not guilty. You have got the wrong person. They
are lying.” This is our normal human response. I can be very quiet at times but if this
were to happen to me, I would be talking to anyone and everyone that listen, explaining to them that I had been wrongly accused. But there was something different about
Jesus, the Bible tells us that…

1. He was silent.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as
a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not
his mouth.” Verse 7.

Someone said, “sometimes you are known by what you do not say.” Consider that
hundreds of years later this prophesy of Isaiah was fulfilled by Jesus as he was being
accused. We find these fulfillments of prophecy in the gospels. “But Jesus held his
peace…” Matthew 26:63. “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he
answered nothing.” Matthew 27:12. “But he held his peace, and answered nothing.”
Mark 14:61. “But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.” Mark 15:5.
“Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.” Luke 23:9.
“And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But
Jesus gave him no answer.” John 19:9.

Jesus was standing before Pilate and Caiaphas as they accused Him and yet He did
not present a defense for Himself. It is interesting to note that Caiaphas had already
made up his mind about Jesus but Pilate had not.

Peter used Jesus as an example of how we are to respond when someone attacks our
faith when he wrote in 1 Peter 2:21-23, “For even hereunto were ye called: because
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22)
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him
that judgeth righteously:”

When we are insulted our natural inclination is to return insult for insult. But Jesus never
said a word. He was scourged, had a crown of thorns pushed into His head, had nails
driven into His hands and His feet, was spat on and cursed at, yet He never said a
word.

If you ever want to know who you really are, just let someone mistreat you or mistreat
someone that you love. I am reminded of the saying, “love me, love my dog.” How many
times have you witnessed a normally calm person rise up in anger when someone has
misspoken or said something mean to or about their children? Many times, the real test
of our faith is what we do not do. Sometimes as a child of God, instead of saying
something, you should say nothing at all.

Jesus was silent and never responded to his accusers. Consider this is the same Jesus
that said, “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matthew 28:19. He
could have called 10,000 legions of angels to Himself and yet He was silent. As Martin
Luther King Jr. once said, “We must say to our enemies, I love you. I would rather die
than hate you.” That is why Jesus was silent as He suffered the cross. He was doing it for all of mankind because He loves us. Not only was He silent as He suffered the cross
but…

2. He Was Unjustly Sentenced.

“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?
For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was
he stricken.” Verse 8.

The Jewish leaders were determined to kill Jesus. They paid Judas 30 pieces of silver
and arrested Jesus by cover of night. Where were the protestors that Jesus was
innocent? Who came to His defense? The answer is no one. Romans put him to death.
Isaiah said about Jesus that, “…he was cut off out of the land of the living:” Simply put,
Isaiah was saying that Jesus was a young man when he died. Jesus had only been on
the earth, in human form, for a little more than thirty years.

If we were discussing someone that had died in their early thirties, we would probably
say something like, “they died before their time.” “They had so much potential.” “They
were destined for greatness.” That was not the case with Jesus Christ.
There has been only one person in the history of the world that never left behind any
unfinished business, the Man Christ Jesus. Remember when Jesus died, He said, “…It
is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19:30. He
successfully completed the work that He came to do. Jesus paid the full price for our
sins. The work of salvation had been completed. That is the “finished work” of Jesus
Christ. There was nothing more that Jesus could do. There is nothing we can do. He
has died and now…

3. He Made His Grave with the Wicked.

“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had
done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” Verse 9.

This begs the question, “How can Jesus be buried with the wicked and yet be rich in His
death?” Sometimes you wonder as the men of God penned the words provided them by
the Holy Spirit if they considered their meaning. It is easy to understand that a wicked
person would be buried in obscurity but the rich are buried and given headstones or
large monuments.

How then, could Jesus be counted with both the wicked and the rich in His burial? R. T.
Kendall, a Baptist preacher said that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy three ways: First,
when Barabbas, a genuine criminal, was set free, and Jesus quite literally died in his
place. Second, when He died alongside of the two criminals who were also crucified
that day at Calvary. Third, when He died for sinners everywhere by taking their iniquity
upon Himself. “…and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6. “But
God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5.

Jesus lived a sinless life but upon His death was to be buried with the wicked but he
was actually buried in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, Matthew 27:57-60.
Again, you have the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Jesus Christ.
So, how was Jesus to die?

4. He Was Bruised

Isaiah 53:10-12 “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when
thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his
days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the
travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant
justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore will I divide him a portion
with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out
his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin
of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

These three verses answer the question, “Why did Jesus die?” Each verse gives us one
part of the answer. We already listed the first part of the answer, He was bruised.
According to the Bible God takes responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ. “Yet it
pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:” Is there one parent among us
that would take pleasure in putting their son to death? Yet is was the will of God that He
bruise His own Son. It was the will of God that His Son should be put to grief.
Revelation 1:18 reminds us, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive
for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
We must understand that the death of Jesus is not the end of the story. In fact, it is just
getting started.

5. He Shall Be Satisfied.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my
righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Verse 11

After He has suffered, He shall see and shall be satisfied. Not only was there physical
suffering of our Lord, He experienced emotional suffering as well. Consider Matthew
26:39, “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou
wilt.” Jesus was fully aware of the physical pain, torment and death He would ultimately
suffer. This caused Him emotional suffering knowing beforehand what was about to
happen to Him.

The key to verse 11 is, “He shall see the travail of his soul…” Just as a mother travails
in giving birth, going through death’s gate, Christ knew the travail of His soul would cause many to be justified. Romans 3:28 says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is
justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

In an interview Michael Bloomberg said, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to
heaven I am not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my
place in heaven. It is not even close.”

Whether you are a billionaire or the poorest of sinners going to heaven has nothing to
do with our goodness. The only way to heaven is to admit that you do not deserve to go
there. You must confess your sin to God and call upon His mercy by faith to save you.
6. He will be Given a Portion of the Spoil

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the
strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the
transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the
transgressors.”

Because of His suffering, the servant shall be exalted. In military terms God says that
Jesus will divide the spoils of victory. Like a soldier returning triumphantly from the
battle. What does He mean when He says, “…and he shall divide the spoil with the
strong…” The strong are those that have been justified.

By way of illustration, recall the story of David and Goliath. David fought for the
Israelites and Goliath fought for the Philistines. David won and when he did the whole
army of Israel won with him. David won the battle and the Israelites shared the spoils of
victory. It is the same with Jesus and us. It has been said, “The devil could not stop
Him. The cross could not defeat Him and the grave could not hold Him.

Philippians 2:8 tells us, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and
became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” It is because of that truth
that God has exalted His Son to the very highest level. So that one day every knee shall
bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Read Philippians 2:9-11.
As we draw near to the end of this message the reader must consider what Easter truly
means to them. Jesus was the only righteous man to have ever lived upon the face of
this earth. In all my years I have been witness to many persons with different degrees of
moral integrity but I have never seen a perfect man outside of the Word of God. His
reward for living a perfect life was the Cross of Calvary. But He did it on purpose as
stated in Romans 5:8. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Make note of the word “yet” as Christ died for us while
we were sinners. You know why He did? Because that is the only way sinners can be
saved.

So, Easter, what does that mean to me? How does it benefit me to know that the
celebration of Easter truly means that we are remembering the death of someone who
died 2,000 years ago?

If I have not made it clear, let me do so now. Easter is not just about remembering the
death of Jesus Christ, but rejoicing in His power over death, hell and the grave and
rejoicing in His resurrection. You see Christ is risen; He is risen indeed. He is the
conqueror over death, hell and the grave. He is the giver of New Life, He provides
Living Water, He is the Justifier.
I have heard it said by preachers that, the door to heaven is marked, “For Sinners Only.”
If you are a sinner, you can come in. Christ died for sinners like you and me. “Come
now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be
as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18.
God promises that, “…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son Cleanseth us from all sin.” 1
John 1:7.

Rejoice today in the Risen Savior. Remember what it cost Him.

Do What I Can-Pray

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted
in this attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

Coronavirus Numbers Update
Last week’s numbers are in red. This week’s numbers are in blue. At the time of my
writing this to you last week more than 400,000 (932,760) (1,495,051 today’s total)
people worldwide have been infected with the Coronavirus. At least 18,000 (46,840)
87,469 today’s total) people have died. The death rate per persons infected varies from
3.5% to 4.5%, depending upon your source. Italy has the highest number of deaths at
6,077 (13,155) (17,669). In the United States there have been 43,214 (212,980)
(425,107) reported cases with 533 (4,759) (14,262) deaths. This means that 1.23%
(2.23%) (3.35%) of all those infected in our country die.

Above is the updated Coronavirus update as of today. Please forgive me as I am one of
those number people. Like many of you I am constantly running calculations in my mind.
Now, I have only listed this information to keep you informed. Do not allow them to
frighten you. Remember, whether you what to know what the numbers are or not, they
are what they are. I just happen to be one of those people that thinks in numbers.

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1)

Introduction:

From the beginning of time, men have prayed,

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26)

In all types of places, at all times and in every conceivable situation, men have prayed. All people,
saved and lost have spent massive amounts of time in the pursuit of prayer. However,
only a small percentage of people have made prayer their priority. It is easy to recognize
that have as they stand out as bright lights in a dark world.
Many have chosen to pray when it was convenient, or when they were undergoing a time
of great stress and trial. Yet, it is clear from this verse that Jesus wants prayer to hold a
preeminent place in our lives. God expects us to be in constant contact with Him.

What is prayer?

1. Prayer Is an Invitation to God – Not coercion, not coaxing, but simply inviting God to
take over. It is me admitting my weakness and His power. Read about Jairus, Mark 5:
22-23.

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”

2. Prayer is Work – True prayer may require you to get up early, or stay up late, 1
Thessalonians 5:17.

“Pray without ceasing.”

3. Prayer Is A Battle – Satan does not fear nor withstand our prayerlessness, but he will
bitterly oppose our prayer efforts. Prayer is our greatest weapon in the battle between
good and evil, Ephesians 6:12.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

4. Prayer Is Power – Consider as examples, Moses, Daniel, The Three Hebrew Children,
Elijah, Paul and Silas. Prayer is the greatest power we have upon this earth.

I. PRAYER MUST BE A PRIORITY

A. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible, Luke 18:1 and Romans 12:12. We are to
remain in a constant spirit of prayer.

B. There are many examples of those that made prayer a priority.
1. Job – Job 1:5; 42:10.
2. Abraham – Genesis 12:7-8; 13:4-18; 22:9
3. Moses – Psalm 90:1-17
4. David – The Psalms are filled with many references to David’s prayer life. One
example is Psalm 86:1-17. Consider how David spoke to God.
5. Elijah – 1 Kings 17:1; 18:36-38
6. Daniel – Daniel 6:10
7. Jesus – Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12, 9:18, 29. Jesus relied on prayer.

Consider, if the Son of God had need to pray, how much more do we?

C. Jesus takes it for granted that His people are going to pray – Matthew 6:5

D. Is prayer a priority in your life? It should be, for it is your lifeline to the Father.
Matthew 11:25-26.

II. PRAYER MUST BE A PREREQUISITE

A. We should do nothing in any area of life without first taking the time to saturate the
matter in prayer.

B. Even Jesus preceded His activity with prayer.

1. Before feeding the 5,000 – John 6:11
2. Before raising Lazarus from the dead – John 11:41
3. Before His trial and crucifixion – Luke 22:41-45
4. Before becoming sin on the cross for us – Luke 23:34

III. PRAYER MUST BE PRACTICED

A. To make prayer truly effective, we must practice prayer. We must get ourselves busy
in the business of prayer! There are too may needs and too little time!

B. Pray at every decision. The time will come when you will find yourself in desperation
and must hear from God.

C. Remember, weak praying begets weak living! We must be diligent in our praying if we
want to be effective for the Lord.

Romans 15:4 (Quote it.) Tonight, I wanted to remind you all that our greatest power
source is through prayer. Do not allow the comforts we experience living in this great
country dull you to the fact that God provides our very heart beat.

As we continue this strange walk and strive to do what we can to keep our selves and
our loved ones safe, remember do not be afraid, 2 Timothy 1:7. Remember, He has
given us power, love and a sound mind.

Do what you can, pray!

Return

This is Pastor Thomason’s Sunday Morning sermon for quarantine this Sunday April, 5th, 2020. Read it together as a family and read all the Scripture.

“Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.” (Ruth 1:6-22)

One preacher said, “It is possible to know God and yet be far from Him.”
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home. My parents loved “the boys.” There were
four of us. Dad worked hard at the factory producing cooling towers.

After coming home from work Dad would either work around the house or he would rebuild an engine on a car he had purchased to resell and supplement the family income. Mom would purchase food to feed us. Oh, how I loved that fried chicken and fried “taters.” We always had enough to eat. I never remember ever going hungry. We did not get many new clothes, unless you count the Nehru Jackets. But that is a story for another time. Mom would shop at the thrift stores and somehow always seemed to come home with nice, new-looking, clothes. Both my Mom and Dad instilled in us the value of hard work. I can still remember Dad saying, “If a job is not done correctly, it is not done.”

You would think that with all the love, provision and protection they provided us that we
would never disagree or disobey them, but we did. This was evidenced by the choices
that we made. These choices were signs that we were walking away from the safety of
their influence. While our choices created distance from the influence of our parents, we
were never far from them. We were never very far from them but we were very far apart
from their influence.

Similarly, that is how we are as children of God. Most of us have had the experience of
drifting away from God. We never planned for it to happen, but along the way we made
some wrong choices. Before you knew it, we were not as near to God as we had once
been. He had not left us as he promised, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).

There are two things to remember; no one is exempt from this and we all come by it
naturally. This will happen to you no matter who you are. You might be the preacher or
a deacon and still be a long way from God. You might be a Sunday School teacher or
an usher and still be a long way from God. You may have grown up in a Christian home
but have rejected the teachings of that home. Perhaps something was said by another
believer and it broke your heart and crushed your spirit. Instead of making things right
with that person, somehow our relationship with God suffered. (This happens when we
choose to place blame where it does not belong.)

Something like this happened to Naomi. Several years have passed since she, her
husband and two sons left Bethlehem for the country of Moab. They left because there
was a famine in the land (a reasonable decision). They planned on staying just through
this difficult time and would then go back home. They had good intentions but nothing
worked out as they had hoped. Naomi’s husband, Elimelech died first and then her two
sons; Mahlon and Chilion died.

What do you do when the dreams of your life are shattered and you find yourself alone
and broken-hearted? That brings us to today’s passage of scripture, Ruth 1:6-22. There
is one word that appears repeatedly in these scriptures, the word “return.” In our
passage it has at least two meanings. One to physically return somewhere and second
to spiritually return back to the Lord.

When Naomi began her journey from Bethlehem she traveled west to east. Now ten
years later she is returning, traveling east to west. Her journey is both literal and
spiritual. After living in this Pagan land for a decade she is now returning to her
homeland but also in a spiritual sense she is turning her life around and returning to the
God of the Bible. She stepped out in faith with her family and is now returning battered
and bruised in her faith walk.

I believe this is a timely message for us as we are in the midst of uncertainty with the
Coronavirus pandemic. We need to practice Godly caution as we daily make decisions
that will impact us for the rest of our lives. Let me encourage you to walk more closely to
God than you have ever done before. You will discover that you must do it on purpose.
Here are three things to consider in your return.

1. Go Home

Naomi had a decision to make. Should she continued to dwell in Moab? If she does,
she will be a stranger in this land. If she makes that choice Orpah and Ruth will most
likely remarry Moabite men. Should she take her daughters-in-law with her to another
land? Or should she return to Bethlehem to be with her own people. Her decision
seemed to be an easy one to make when news arrived that the famine in Bethlehem
was over.

“Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the
country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited
his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where
she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on their way to return
unto the land of Judah.” (Ruth 1:6-7).

The famine was over, for Naomi the decision was easy. I shall return to my homeland.
But what of her two daughters-in-law? What would Orpah and Ruth decide to do? Life
as a Jewish widow in Bethlehem would be difficult at best, but it would be much worse
of young Moabite widows. Who would feed these women? Who would clothe and
provide them shelter?

Naomi did not have the wherewithal to take care of these young widows. The natural
thought process would be for them to live in Moab, the land of their people. Naomi was
attempting to give the best advice she could. She was not being unkind. It was natural
to consider that Orpah and Ruth would have a better chance of survival in Moab. It was
a difficult conversation to have to say the least. Consider the bond that these women
had made over the past several years. Naomi wanted what was best for her daughters-
in-law.

For Naomi, the decision had been made. She was going home back to the place of
blessing. But Orpah and Ruth wanted to stay with Naomi. They too intended to go to
Bethlehem and start over in a new land. Naomi wanted Orpah and Ruth to consider
what it would mean to live in a land that was new to them. Naomi pleaded with them
saying she was too old to have more sons they could marry. When Naomi encouraged
them to go back home, she said, “…Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord
deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.” (Ruth 1:8). I am told
that this is an Old Testament way of saying, “As you showed grace to the dead and to
me, may God now show grace to you.”

It is probable that the main reason Naomi encouraged Orpah and Ruth to go is found in
verse 13 when she said, “…that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.” She is
telling them to not stay with her because all that she had loved is now gone. She was
saying that the Lord had brought her nothing but trouble. First, it was famine in
Bethlehem and second, all the men in her life died. Without saying it she believed that
the Lord had become her enemy. (Have you ever felt that way before?) All hope seems
to be lost. There does not seem to be, “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Orpah took Naomi’s advice and returned to Moab. That is the last we ever hear of her in
Scripture. One can only imagine the heaviness of the hearts of those two as they
separated; Orpah to Moab and Naomi to Bethlehem. Naomi must have felt similar to the
Prodigal Son as he made the walk back to his father’s house. Recall he said, “And am
no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke
15:19).

As a side note, the Prodigal Son did not make any deals with his father. He came
back home with no conditions. He demanded nothing. (That would have been pride
speaking.) The Prodigal Son was so embarrassed about the way he had lived that he
was saying that I am not worthy to be called your son. Pride has no part in repentance.
In fact, real repentance does not make deals with God.

But like the Prodigal Son who underestimated his father’s heart, so did Naomi
underestimate her Heavenly Father’s heart. As we live in these uncertain times, if we
are not careful, we could find ourselves in this condition. It begins with the unwise
choices that have taken us far from God.

Many of us have lived within these poor choices for a long time. That in and of itself could cause us to doubt God’s willingness to take us back. If you are thinking that, ask God to remove that thought from your mind. Someone said, “Regret means you have learned from your mistakes.” If you regret your past, you know you messed up and if like Naomi you have tired of living with the pagans, you can return home. You do not have to stay in Moab. You can go home.

2. Commit to the Trip

Well Orpah has left but Ruth is refusing to leave her mother-in-law. Naomi attempts one
more time to convince Ruth to stay in Moab. Naomi knew how the Jews and the
Moabites hated one another.

Not only would it be difficult for Ruth to go there but it could be dangerous for her as well. One writer said that if Ruth went to Bethlehem, “She would be as welcomed as a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah.” Naomi knew that it could potentially cost Ruth something to go to Bethlehem. Similarly, Jesus warns the disciples of the cost of following Him, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear hi cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27).

Naomi is warning Ruth. She is doing her best to make her understand that this will not
be an easy life. But Ruth had made up her mind. Listen to her response in Ruth 1:16-
17, “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for
whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:
the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

Many times, these words are quoted in wedding ceremonies but they first applied to a
daughter-in-law committing herself to her mother-in-law. Not only is she committing
herself to Naomi but also to Naomi’s people and Naomi’s God. Ruth’s commitment is
personal, it is voluntary and it is complete.

This is something when you consider that Ruth had nothing to gain by going to
Bethlehem. She seems like an intelligent person and certainly knew that she was
probably looking at a life of poverty and rejection. The only thing that Ruth is thinking at
this moment is her connection and attachment to Naomi. (Oh, that we could attach
ourselves to God and allow Him to sort out our future.)

It would seem that Ruth was displaying more faith than Naomi. This is amazing when
you consider that the faith being displayed was that by an “outsider” of the faith. After
Ruth’s proclamation to Naomi, verse 18 tells us that, “…then she left speaking unto
her.” There was no reason for anymore talk. Ruth was going to be by her side.

3. Go to the Place of Blessing

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem. In those days Bethlehem was a tiny village.
Everyone knew everyone. The questions the town folk must have had. Where is
Elimelech? Where are the boys? Certainly, they were pleased and surprised to see
Naomi at the same time. Here is how Naomi sums up her time in the country of Moab,

“And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt
very bitterly with me. I went out full, and Lord hath brought me home again empty:
why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty
hath afflicted me.” (Ruth 1:20-21).

Do not call me Naomi (Pleasant) but call me Mara (Bitter). One preacher said, “Ruth is a
bruised believer, and those bruises take a long time to heal.” Naomi was saying God
made me very bitter. God brought me back empty. He opposed me. He afflicted me.
The bitter pain that Naomi experienced in Moab had bruised her faith, but it has not
destroyed it. If God is sovereign, then I must deal with God.

Naomi has no idea what is going to happen next. (Just like us when we come back from
our Moab.) She is not thinking of Boaz and how he will someday marry Ruth. We are
looking at a bruised and battered woman that has come home in utter defeat. It seems
that God has dealt harshly with her, or so she believes. She cannot see the bigger
picture. (We are no different today. We walk into the next day as the sun comes up after
experiencing great defeat. You see, we are all a Naomi at sometime or other in our
Christian walk. Are you walking back from your Moab now?)

Someone said, “Can we return to God and still harbor feelings like this? If we answer
no, it means we have not suffered very much.” For those that have suffered great loss,
you can understand Naomi’s heart. She is a battered and bruised believer and those
bruises take a long time to heal.

It was a difficult trip for Naomi to make, returning home without her husband and
sons. But she was determined to return to the place of God’s blessing. Some
might read this story and say that Naomi was a bitter woman. This is a true statement
but there is more to consider. As long as she stayed in Moab, she was out of God’s will.
At least she had the faith to make the long journey home. (How about you?)

We all make foolish choices that put us in bad situations. All of us, at one time or
another, have tried to sojourn in Moab. Perhaps we have done it by entering into an
incorrect relationship. Perhaps we moved when we should have stayed. Maybe we
gave up too soon. Perhaps we attempted to try a shortcut that got us into trouble.
Maybe we were thinking we could become involved in sin convincing ourselves that it
would not hurt us. We tried all these only to end up in defeat.

How about you today? Have you journeyed to Moab as the result of a sinful decision?
You see the question is not, “Have we sinned?” Of course, we have sinned. The
question is, “What will you do about it?”

Remember God’s grace exceeds our sin. One man said, “God does not consult your
past to determine your future.” Thank God that is true, and it is just as true for us as it
was for Naomi.

A footnote:

As we have discussed we are living in uncertain times. The Coronavirus has
provided far more questions than answers. I just want to remind you that while these are
uncertain times to us, they are not uncertain times to God. Remember what Charles
Spurgeon said about those that trust in the material things of the world,

“Every now and then, in order to enforce this distasteful truth upon us (that God is in control), the God of Providence gives the world, in some way or other, a warning shake. The Lord only has to lay one finger upon the world, and the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, where the waters of the ocean roar and are troubled until the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”

God is using this uncertain time to drawn people to Himself. Let’s join Him as He does.

I Am in Trouble Now

If I can just learn what I know. I know that God is in control.

“O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (Deuteronomy 32:29)

I know that he has promised to keep me safe.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

I know he has promised to never forsake me.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

I know he has promised to supply all my need.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

So why do I make the choices I do? Why do I have so much trouble navigating through this life and all of its decisions. The key is we need to allow God and His Word to be the basis for all of our decisions. Th problem is too many times we make decisions without ever seeking His will.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2)

One preacher said, “when troubling times come, be a student, not a victim.” He
continued, “A victim says, why did this happen to me? A student says, what can I learn
from this? A victim complains he is being treated unfairly. A student thanks God he is
not being treated as he deserves. A victim tries to get even with those who have hurt
him. A student seeks to serve others in the midst of his difficulty. A victim believes this
life and the world is against him. A student believes God is at work even in the worst
situations.”

Bad things are going to happen. It does not mean that you are not in God’s will. God
uses the bad times of life to grow us for His purpose. We need to learn to see these
times in our life as opportunities to draw closer to Him. The key is in how we react to
each dilemma of life as they occur.

(Note: Like the Apostles did so often, I draw you to remembrance. While we are
truly in troubling times, God is not troubled.)

The point is clear, while we are rarely in control of what happens to us, we can
always choose how we will respond. Sometimes we will make the wrong choice and
pay a heavy price for our mistake. Often, we will not learn the correct lessons until we
can look back and see how God was at work in our trials.

Something like that happened to a woman named Naomi. You find her story in the Old
Testament book of Ruth. It is a story that starts with misery and ends with joy. This
small book contains only 85 verses and yet it covers a vast range of human emotions,
beginning with heartache and then ending in happiness. Along the way we watch as
God, works behind the scenes. He is the God who works in, through and sometimes in
spite of the decisions we make.

(What is God doing through this time of Coronavirus? What is He teaching us?)
The opening verses set the scene for us: Ruth 1:1-5

“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.  And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.” (Ruth 1:1-5)

From our text we can learn three lessons that will help us navigate the troubling times of
life. Romans 15:4 Ready begin…quote it.

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

1. Troubling Times Can Happen at Any Time

The book of Ruth opens tying this story to a particular time and place: “Now it came to
pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.” Verse 1.
This means the story took place after Joshua’s death and before Saul became king.
When we read the book of Judges, we may be tempted to think it was a godless time,
but that would not be entirely correct. We should think of it as a time when “every man
did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25.

As long as the judges ruled, the people served the Lord. But when a judge died, the Jews turned to idolatry. It was a recurring cycle of obedience, disobedience, judgment, suffering, desperation(troubling times) and returning to the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 28:14 Moses warned the people that if they refused to obey the Lord,
God would curse the land: “The Lord shall make the rain of the land powder and dust:
from heaven shall it come down upon thee. Until thou be destroyed.” That means the
famine in the Promised Land did not just happen. It was not just a natural disaster. God
used the famine to send a message to His people.

Some people wonder if God speaks to us today. The answer is absolutely He does.
God can speak to us in many ways and many times He uses circumstances of our life to
get our attention. God knows how to get through to any of us at any time.

2. Troubling Times Compel Us to Make Hard Choices

If you are Elimelech, what do you do when a famine impacts your family? I am told that
the land around Bethlehem was some of the most fertile ground in the Promised Land.
A man who worked hard could harvest enough each year to take care of his family.
What do you do when a famine troubles your land? For Elimelech the answer was
simple. He took his family and moved to Moab because it was a land of good soil and
plenty of rainfall. Perhaps he could stay for a few months or even a year or two until the
famine was ended. It appears from the text that things worked out for a while. They
settled in the “country of Moab” and found plenty to eat. Surely, they thought that the
trouble of the famine they had left was over.

But soon Elimelech dies. We are not told how or why, only that he died in Moab, leaving
Naomi without a husband and the two boys without a father. Eventually they married
Moabite women; one named Orpha and the other named Ruth. Then the two sons die
and are buried in Moab and before you know it many years have passed. How true that
is. I read a story of a person that wrote their own obituary, it read, “I was born, I blinked
and it was over.”

Verse 1 notes that Elimelech intended to emigrate to Moab for a “sojourn” (a temporary
stay) meaning he never intended to leave Judah forever. This was a temporary more
into foreign territory. A decision made under great duress. But God was very clear that the Israelites were to have nothing to do with the Moabites. “An Ammonite or Moabite
shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord: even to their tenth generation shall
they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever: (6) Thou shalt not seek their
peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.” Deuteronomy 23:3, 6. Our circumstance
does not allow us the right to go against the statues of the Lord.

I believe Elimelech did not intend to leave the Lord by migrating to Moab, but it
was a reckless move at best. Moab was a foe of Israel. It originated with Lot’s
incestuous relationship with his daughters as seen in Genesis 19:30-38. He was leaving
the land of blessing to live among the pagans on the east side of the Dead Sea. He and
his family would be exposed to the Moabite religion with its idol worship and its sexual
perversion. I think Elimelech understood the risk but considered this move a temporary
expedient move for the sake of his family. (Human reasoning).

Geoff Thomas, a Baptist preacher said this, “The problem in Israel was not the lack of
bread. The problem was the lack of obedience to Jehovah.” This was not the first time
of famine in the land flowing with milk and honey, and it would not be the last.

Remember, good motives will not cancel the impact of bad decisions. Everyone
has rules that we must abide by. We all have rules that we do not like. It is not a
question of whether you like the rules or agree with them. The only question is, will you
obey them? You are free to have your own opinion, but you are not free to disobey
without consequences.

Motives matter, but in real life obedience matters more.
You cannot run from your problems because your problems will follow you
wherever you go. Human nature wants us to run from our problems. We do not like
what is going on in our life and our answer is to move. Remember, a change of
scenery does not produce a change of heart. Whatever you were before is what
you will be wherever you go next.

We all feel the urge to change things when we
encounter problems. Whether it is a new job or a new career. Moving into a new house
or into a new neighborhood. Or if our church does not go the way we like and we want a
new pastor. We think if only we could make a fresh start, things would improve.
Sometimes that is true. It is not that change is always bad. But change can be an
excuse not to face the problems of life head on. Running away from our trouble rarely
makes things better.

Elimelech thought he would go to Moab, stay until the famine passed and then come
back home (sojourn.) But it did not go as he had planned. By verse five of chapter one
Naomi had buried her husband and then her two sons. His wrong decision meant he
never made it back home. Samuel Cox, a Baptist preacher in the 18 th century in the
London area said this, “Elimelech lost his life while seeking a livelihood, and found a
grave where he had sought a home.”

At the end of our text (verse five) we find Naomi still in Moab. She is far from her
homeland and is coping with the loss of her husband and her sons. She is in a land that
she should not be. She is separated from God’s people and is now facing the consequences of her husband’s unwise decision. It is an understatement to say that she
was not in an ideal situation. Surely, she must have thought, “I am in trouble now.”

3. Troubling Times Prepare Us for a Great Work of Grace

Oswald Chambers wrote about the “dance of circumstance,” (author of “my Utmost for
his Highest) by which he meant the hand of God working through seemingly random
events. Who raised up the judges? God did. Who sent the famine? God did. Who gave
safe passage to Moab? God did. Who decided the three men of the family should die
there? God did. As far as we know, God never spoke directly to Elimelech, yet you
recognize it is the Unseen Hand of God moving behind the events.

Whatever you may say about your life, do not ever forget that God oversees the tiniest of details. Nothing escapes his notice and even the most unlikely events are part of his plan for you.

Illustration: I am reminded of the story I have told you before. It was a time while I was attending Bible college. I was working part-time jobs to make ends meet. One of the
jobs I had was delivering pizza. The afternoon after school Alice and I went shopping
and had spent all of our money for groceries. It was not until we returned home that
Alice realized that we had forgotten to get cereal for our children. I told Alice not to
worry. “I will pick some up tonight after delivering pizzas with the tip money I get.” About
11:00 PM I had a delivery to a large warehouse. I had just dropped off the pizzas and
was going out the door when one of the men said to take any two boxes of my
choosing. I was a bit confused until I turned and saw a shelf with all sorts of cereal
boxes on it. I was in a cereal warehouse. I immediately recognized what God had done
but it was on my way home that I understood that God sees all my problems. Nothing
catches him by surprise.

When the family left Bethlehem, there were four of them, three men and one woman:
Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon and Chilion. But now Naomi is faced with the fact that she
has buried all the men of her family in the mountains of Moab. When she discusses her
situation with Orpah and Ruth, Naomi declares that God has turned his hand against
her when she said, “…the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.” Ruth 1:13.

So, you ask, in what sense is Naomi preparing for a great work of grace? As our text
ends, Naomi is still in Moab, far from home (figuratively and spiritually), coping with the
loss of her husband and her sons. She is where she should not be (in a pagan land),
separated from God’s people, facing the consequences of her husband’s unwise
decision. She is an older widow, in the company of two younger widows. It was not an
ideal place for her to be in.

Her story spells HOPELESS. Naomi is stuck in Moab. She is now a widow with no hope
of ever having another child. She has two younger widows, her daughters-in-law by her
side. To cap it off, her daughters-in-law are not Jews but Moabites. As far as Naomi is
concerned, not only does she have no future, but neither do they if they stay with her.

Whenever you read the book of Ruth you need to do it without knowing how the story
ends. We face the same challenge when we read about Joseph in the book of Genesis.
How much did Joseph know about the end of the story when his brothers cast him into
the pit in Genesis 37? The answer is nothing. Ask the same question when he is carted
off by the Midianites and then sold as a slave to Potiphar. How much did he know about
the future when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape? Or when Potiphar had him
thrown into jail? Or when the cupbearer promised to remember him but instead forgot
about him while he wasted in an Egyptian prison? The answer is the same. And yet God
had a plan. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to
bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20. Joseph had
no advance knowledge that he (a Hebrew slave) would eventually be second in
command in Egypt.

One preacher asked, “Does God have a blueprint for my life? Yes, but there is only one
copy, and it is locked up on the second floor of the administration building in heaven
and I do not know any way you can get a copy.” We are not given advance notice of
what tomorrow will bring. That is true for all of us, rich and poor, young and old, new
child of God and mature child of God. We all must take life as it comes to us, one day at
a time.

Naomi still believes in God, even in a foreign land, cut off from her own people. If she is
bitter at the Lord, at least she had not turned from Him. At best, she is a bruised
believer, brokenhearted at what she has lost. Perhaps like some today. If we
heartlessly say, she got what was coming to her,” we only reveal how little we
understand about God’s heart. He is rich in grace, and if he had pockets, they would be
deep and full of mercy.

God has not given up on Naomi, no matter what she may think about him. He has big
plans that are about to unfold. Little does she know that one day she will hold a baby in
her lap who will be the grandfather of King David. Even less would it be possible for her
to imagine that her daughter-in-law Ruth (a Moabite maiden) will end up in the lineage
of the Messiah.

Her sadness will be turned to joy and she will discover that where sin abounds, grace
did much more abound. But that day has not come for her yet.
Our encouragement today is this. Do not despair and say, “I am in trouble now.” Know
this, we serve a God who can take the worst and turn it into the best because that is the
kind of God He is. Give God time to work. He knows what He is doing when we do not
have a clue. Trust Him. Trust Him during this time of Coronavirus.

Free But Servant To All

Pastor Thomason recently preached from Romans 14 about Christian liberty. The Bible makes it clear that we are not under the law.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

We have liberty having been freed from the curse of the law by Christ who was our perfect law-keeper and who met the demands of the law on our behalf. The text in Romans 14 deals with judging others for using their freedom differently then we use ours.

While we are free the Bible also teaches that we are servant to all. We are to serve one another and live our lives for the benefit of the brethren.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

In Acts 15 a council was called in Jerusalem to consider what was required from the Gentile believers. The answer was given by James.

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20)

The argument was that since they were justified by faith why put them under the law which was a burden that even the Jews couldn’t keep. James said the Gentiles had to abstain from a few things but why?

The answer is unity. There were tensions in the Jewish/Gentile church and many Jews were trying to bring them under the law. James didn’t take away the liberty of the Gentiles but instead affirmed it then advised they abstain from certain things offensive to the Jews.

Often times we boast in our liberty yet we forget that things we enjoy in liberty others cannot and we may weaken the faith of our brother.

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:15-21)

We have tremendous liberty in Christ but with that liberty comes great responsibility to act in a manner that conveys love for our brother. The faith of others is more important than the liberty we possess. All things must be done in love looking to the things of others before our own things.

Resolutions

New Years time is the time for resolutions. We all now how it goes don’t we? We resolve to lose weight, stop swearing, read our Bibles more or whatever it is and by the end of January it’s all over, if it even lasts that long.

I want to encourage us today to make some valuable resolutions for the coming year. I don’t want to challenge you as much as to invite you to join me in making these resolutions because these are my resolutions.

These are areas that I need to work on and I’m willing to bet that you do too. If we will practice these I believe we will find that at the end of the year we will look back at a year of more victory in our Christian lives. These 5 resolutions are important keys to successful Christian living.

In 1896 a book was written called In His Steps. It’s a terrific book that I wholeheartedly recommend and while it makes good fiction it struggles in real world application.

The book is about a pastor who challenges his church to not do anything for an entire year without first asking themselves what would Jesus do if He were in this situation. This led to a cultural slogan in the 90’s which was WWJD or What would Jesus do?

It made it’s way into bracelets, bumper stickers, shirts, hats and all manner of Christian merchandise. The failure was not with the slogan but with our amazing ability to justify ourselves in any situation. The problem is that we felt that we were good Christians so if we did it or said it then of course Jesus would as well.

We rationalized that anything we did is what Jesus would do no matter how un-christian that thing would be. All of our anger was righteous anger, punch the wall? Jesus toppled tables. Hit someone? Jesus used whips. Surround ourselves with unsaved friends? Jesus ate with sinners. Cuss people out? Jesus used strong language against His enemies.

Jesus became our homie, our cool hip friend who was okay with anything we did. The slogan failed because we rationalized everything we did as something Jesus would do. These resolutions are similar to the WWJD challenge but they are taken directly from Scripture and leave little wiggle room to rationalize.

I want to give us 5 verses and challenge us not to do or say anything this year without first asking can I do or say this in light of these specific verses?

1. Do and say to others as you want them to do and say to you. (Matthew 7:12)

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

The golden rule. This is probably one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Even among the unbelieving world. It’s very basic truth and should be a regular guide for all Christian behavior. Treat others the way we want to be treated.

We far too often treat people the way they actually treat us but that’s not what Jesus is saying here. He isn’t even saying to treat others the way we know they would treat us. Those ways of dealing with people are common in the world.

We are to go against that and treat others like we would want to be treated if we were in their place. I fail miserably at this. There is a reason it’s a resolution for me.

This changes how we interact with each other and with unbelievers. In fact this will change entirely how we act online where it’s easy to get behind a keyboard and lie about ourselves or slander others. Before we say or do anything we have to ask if we would want this said or done to us.

Before we get angry with the bad service at the restaurant and complain to the manager we need to ask would I want someone to complain about me? What if it’s their first day? What if their child recently died? There is so much we don’t know. We need to react with the same grace we would want.

I want to challenge you this coming year to not do anything to anyone without first asking yourself: would I want someone to do this to me? Don’t say anything to anyone or about anyone without first asking yourself: would I want someone to say this to or about me?

2. Don’t Worry about Anything, Pray about Everything. (Philippians 4:6)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

I want to focus on the phrase “be careful for nothing.” In modern language that means don’t worry about anything. What Paul is telling us is don’t worry about anything pray about everything. That’s the resolution.

One of my besetting sins is worry. My mom always tried to normalize worry by saying it was her job to worry. The truth is that worry is a sin. It’s an accepted sin in most circles so we don’t stigmatize it like others but it’s a sin far too common among Christians.

“…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23b)

Worry is the enemy of faith. Faith is trust, settled, confidant trust in God. Worry is to take upon ourselves concern for the future. Worry is not settled and it’s not confident.

Remember the account in Luke 8 of the apostles and the Lord in the boat during the storm? The were terrified thinking they were going to die and Jesus was asleep in the boat. He was completely confident.

You say, “Well He was the Son of God” True but can we trust our Father any less that Jesus. In fact in our salvation the Father treats us as He treats Jesus. Should our confidence be less than His? Jesus woke up and stilled the storm and then asked a stunning question in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?” He expected them to have the same trust He did.

What if He asked us that very question tonight? When we worry we worry over things we have no control over, but God does. Are we worried that He will do something bad for us? Are we worried He has forgotten us? If the answer is no then why worry?

When we worry we concern ourselves with a future we don’t know, but God does. Are we afraid something has escaped His notice? If not then why worry?

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

Worry denies the sovereignty of God. If we really believe that God is sovereign which means over all things and in complete control of all things and if we believe that this sovereign God is good and is working out a plan in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son then why would we worry?

Paul commands us not to worry about anything but he doesn’t stop there. He is not saying be passive because he gives us something else to engage in besides worry. He says to pray about everything. Take the problems or concerns to the one who said in Matthew 28 that all authority in heaven and earth is given to Him.

“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

When we worry we fundamentally deny the God described in these verses. Resolve with me this year to not worry about anything but pray about everything and when we pray don’t check it off like a list.

Don’t say I prayed so now I can worry. Partial obedience is disobedience. Leave the worry there. If you struggle with it pray the prayer of the centurion in Mark 9:24 “I believe help my unbelief.”

3. Have a mind of humility. (Philippians 2:5)

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

This point comes in the middle of what Paul is saying. Look at verses 3-4:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Paul is telling them to not do anything through selfish ambition or conceit but rather in humility to consider others as better than themselves. He follows that up by telling them how its done, by looking to the interests of others over their own interests.

Then we come to verse 5 where he tells them to have this same mind that was in Christ Jesus. We hear preaching on humility all the time and it seldom makes a difference because we all believe we are humble.

Some of the proudest people I know believe in their heart of hearts that they are the most humble person on earth. The command to be humble isn’t enough because we are often self deceived.

So Paul holds up Christ as the ultimate example. If we compare ourselves to others we can justify our false humility but not compared to Jesus. So what was the mind of Christ that should be in us? Look at verse 6:

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Christ was the only person deserving glory and honor and He lowered Himself and became a servant to those who should have been His servant. None of us are deserving of the place of honor that Christ is.

If Christ deserved honor and made Himself a servant then we should never lift ourselves over others. Even if we believe that we deserve something we don’t deserve what Christ did. This year we need to make ourselves servants not masters.

If your the boss then serve those under you don’t make them serve you. Don’t consider anything beneath you and if your not treated with the respect you think you deserve treat them with the respect you think you deserve.

This year look to the interests of others before our own, consider everyone we meet as better than ourselves, treat everyone with the honor and respect we think we deserve.

4. In Everything Give Thanks. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

This is a hard one. It can be easy to be joyful in bad circumstances or even content in bad circumstances but this verse actually commands us to give thanks for everything, good or bad.

I have heard men stand up and testify that they are thankful for being in prison knowing they wouldn’t have sought the Lord without it. Thanks flows from realizing that good came out of the bad situation.

So how do we give thanks for everything? The key is Romans 8:28. In that verse we are told that all things work together for good to those who love God. All things all the time work for our good.

This is why we need to give thanks for everything because God is using everything good or bad to conform us to the image of Christ. This year let’s give thanks for everything that comes our way.

From the bonus check to the car accident. From the birth in the family to the death in the family. This command will change how we react to everything if we obey it.

5. Do Everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Colossians 3:17)

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

This will change our lives if we apply it consistently. If we only did things that bring glory to God or said things that bring glory to God. You can’t commit adultery in the name of Jesus, or do drugs in the name of Jesus, or get drunk or watch pornography in the name of Jesus.

You also can’t gossip in the name of Jesus. You can’t backbite or speak against others in the name of Jesus. You can’t be rude to your spouse in the name of Jesus.

A lot would change in our lives if we ran everything we said or did by this one filter: does it bring glory to God? Can I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus?

Conclusion:

These 5 verses are resolutions for the coming year. I want to encourage you to adopt these and post them up somewhere.

How much would change in our families and our church as a whole if we didn’t do anything or say anything this coming year without first asking ourselves: is it in line with these verses?

Do and say to others as you want them to do and say to you.

Don’t worry about anything instead pray about it.

Become a servant. Consider everyone as better than yourself, look to the interests of others before your own and treat everyone with the respect you fell you should be treated.

Give thanks for everything…everything. This will eliminate a lot of complaining.

Whatever you do in word or action do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. If you can’t say I am doing such and such to the glory of God or in the name of Jesus then don’t do it.

In Everything Give Thanks

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I think this short verse holds one of the most difficult commands in the entire Bible. I know it does for me. Corrie Ten Boom struggle with obedience to this verse as well. Listen to her story.

“We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw.
..Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
“‘Fleas!’ I cried. ’Betsie, the place is swarming with them!’
“‘Here! And here another one!’ I wailed. ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

“‘Show us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ’He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’
“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in First Thessalonians,’ I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.

“In the feeble light I turned the pages. ‘Here it is: “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…’”
It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.

“‘Go on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’
“‘Oh yes:’…“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”
“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“‘Such as?’ I said.
“‘Such as being assigned here together.’
“I bit my lip. ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’
“‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’ I looked down at the Bible.

“‘Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.’
“‘Yes,’ said Betsie, ‘Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’

She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.
“‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.’

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–’ 

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’
“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.
“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
“Back at the barracks we formed yet another line–would there never be an end to columns and waits?–to receive our ladle of turnip soup in the center room. Then, as quickly as we could for the press of people, Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.” Around our own platform area there was not enough light to read the Bible, but back here a small light bulb cast a wan yellow circle on the wall, and here an ever larger group of women gathered.
“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28.

“At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call.
There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.
“One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

“‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,’ I told her.
“‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’
“That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.
“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?”

“Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!’”
“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

The reason we can obey this particular command is in the light of Romans 8:28.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

If all things work together for our good then we can confidently give thanks for everything because no matter how bad anything seems all things work for our good and therefore deserve thanks.