Are you on the Right Track?
Are you on the right track? Are you really Christian? 1 John gives us three "tests" to help us check if we are indeed of God.
1 John 2:3-5; The Test of Righteousness
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
All Christians follow the commandments of Christ - walking in His footsteps of perfect love and observation of the Spirit of the Law.
1 John 3:14;
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
All Christians love their brothers and sisters. Love is the first Christian impulse that kicks in when we are regenerated by God's saving grace.
1 John 2:21-23
21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
All Christians acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, or Anointed One. In other words, we follow Jesus's rule as our King, take Jesus' words as our truth as our Prophet, and receive the forgiveness He offers as our ultimate High Priest.
Brothers and sisters - are you on the right track?
Under His Wings
Here are some brief summaries to help you remember our sermons on Ruth
1) Ruth is a Gospel sandwich, with the Gospel presented in chapters 1 and 4, supporting the most beautiful love story in the Bible, which is detailed in Chapters 2 and 3.
2) Hesed (Covenant loving-kindness) is the foundation for all relationships in Christ. Once this is met, look to character over exernalities, honoring above using, and obligations over impulses.
3) When this beautiful covenant relationship is established in the Church and among God's people, God is pleased to establish others in the Gospel of Christ.
The Selfie Exchange
5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”
8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him,“My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Naaman was a commander of the Syrian army, a man of valor, and whose name mean's "pleasant" and "beautiful." He had many things that he could boast in, just like we tend to do when we take selfies - we tend to focus on what we're confident about. However, Naaman was a leper. His status, valor, and his abilities were useless in front of his disease. Similarly, our selfies - the colors and bravado we use to point to ourselves - mask the disease and taint of sin.
On the other hand, there is a servant, whose life was not "selfie-worthy." She was marginalized, exiled, homeless, and destitute. But because there was no glamour in her own life, she is able to point her master, Naaman, to God. This is the role of Christians today. While we may be destitute, unpopular, criticized, and ridiculed, we focus not upon our own worthiness (because we are aware we have none), but point toward God.
Be Patient for the Better Things
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers,[a] until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Why does James tell us to be patient? Because...
1) God's providence is better than ours - While we remain unable to fulfill and satisfy our deep thirst, God's early and late rains fully satisfies us. Therefore we should be patient for His providence.
2) God's judgment is better than ours - While our way of dealing with matters brings about violence and strife, God's perfect Justice brings to light my shortcomings as well as the brother / sister I grumble against. Therefore we should be patient for God's judgment to come.
3) God's purpose is better than ours - While our patience in suffering is usually an attempt to vindicate ourselves, Jesus' patience upon the cross was to bring about vindication for many. Therefore we should be patient for the Lord's purpose to be fulfilled.