Living a life pleasing to God
God called us to live holy lives
Lord’s Day 27 August 2006, 9.00am
Short time of silent prayer
Call to worship
Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.” “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.” (Nehemiah 9:5)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Doxology Psalm 18: “I love You, Lord” (Tune “Jerusalem”,
Rejoice 321; 4 Verses; followed by “AMEN”)
Prayer of Adoration, Invocation and Thanksgiving Lord’s Prayer
Hymn No 25: “Great is Thy faithfulness”
Prayer of Confession of sin
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
Hymn No 381: “Nothing is mine”
Tithes, offering and dedication
While stewards wait upon the tithes and offering, remaining seated, we sing:
Hymn 609: “For the fruits of His creation”
Prayer for others
Ga-young (Marie) Park
Glenys Betty Wilson
De Wet Potgieter
4. Congregational Support
5. Aaronic blessing
6. Elders: right hand of fellowship
Scripture Readings: Proverbs 5:15-23
Sermon Living a life to the glory of God
Dear brother and sister in the Lord Jesus Christ,
The greatest challenge for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to battle against worldliness and to pursue godliness. This is the challenge to each and every member of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The battle is ongoing, never-ending, because our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers of the darkness. The devil seeks to destroy us and he will put everything in our way to see that we stumble, fall and bow out of the race.
The Apostle John writes, exhorting the church “Love not the world”:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
The apostle Paul writes:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2-3)
In the same letter the Apostle warns: “The wages of sin if death.”
Listen to the words of a well-known, extremely gifted writer of many books:
The gods have given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. ... Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in search for new sensation. ... I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. (Oscar Wilde – who left his wife to engage in homosexuality.)
In his letter to the Thessalonians Paul commends the believers of that city for their faith, love and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Their faith produced work. They were not an idle church. Their love prompted labour in the Lord. This is to say they did more than just the ordinary things you expect of a Christian; they work hard, always taking into consideration the other Christian as a brother and sister in the Lord. Their hope produced endurance. They became imitators of the apostles and as such they endure severe suffering. But nothing could stop this congregation of the Lord. They pressed on in the joy given to them by the Holy Spirit.
Now to top off this good report about the Thessalonians: they were a model to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Their faith became known everywhere across the known world. They turned from their idols to serve the living and true God and their whole congregational life were marked by their constant awaiting of the appearance of the Son of God.
Now, when we hear something like this we feel ashamed. We see our short-comings as we measure ourselves up against the godliness of what God expects of his church. We see ourselves living in a world so far away from God that we have to be honest and say this is indeed a godless nation. But more than that, as church and as individual members of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have become worldly. The desires of the world became ours. What drive the world have become our driving forces. Like the world we love pleasure, success, money, sport. We visit the same places as the world. We spend our time the same way as the world. We listen to the same comedy as the world; however we just don’t like the swearing and we lull ourselves into a deeper spiritual sleep trying to convince ourselves that for as long as we filter the bad things out of some of the programs, what is presented then is after all not that bad. Have we forgotten about the saying in the Word that the same fountain can not have sweet and bitter water?
We do not think God thoughts after Him. Of a Christian mindset we do not see much. The difference between church and world has become a very difficult task to determine. In short, the picture of the congregational life of Thessalonica is not ours!
What do people remember us by? Are we known as people with a faith which is seen in its works? Are we known by our love that prompts us to labour in the Lord? Are we people known by our hope I the coming of the Lord so that others actually talk about it?
What do people take along after a visit to our worship services? Or even more worrying: what does the rest of the Townsville community say about St Andrews? Do they know us for our love, our faith and our hope? Do they know us?
Now, if we take this picture of Thessalonica as benchmark, what about the fact that the Apostle goes even further to exhort the Thessalonians in chapter four. He acknowledged the fact that they were indeed living in order to please God. But he urges them to do this more and more. This means growth, it means constant sanctification, it means advancement in faith.
That’s why he continues on verse 3:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
One wonders why the apostle says this to this exemplary church. Was there something wrong in their midst? It seems not. But it is almost as if he wants to warn them that if something is going to go wrong it will start going wrong right in the intimate relationship between husband and wife.
To control your own body in our translation is also translated in other translations as to live well with your wife. It means to honour your marriage relationship in the way God intended it. No other institution is targeted as family and marriage. The devil tried that right in the beginning with Adam and Eve. And it is no different today.
We heard the reading of the Word of God today from Proverbs 5. Verse 15 uses a beautiful expression: “Drink from your own cistern, running water from your own well.”
Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. (Proverbs 5:16-17)
“May you rejoice in the wife of your youth!” This is a message very strange to the world we live in. Not only do we have a staggering divorce rate in Australia; we also now have the highest ever rate of people just living together. Marriage has not meaning anything anymore and the ceremony of exchanging vows has altogether lost is Biblical roots. Never have we had as many illegitimate children as at present. Never have we had so much unhappiness in homes as we have it now. And never have we had as many sociological and psychological problems - and don’t forget the mental illnesses!
And, my dear brethren, it does not escape the church. Unfortunately Church-goers are not much different from the world.
The Bible teaches us this morning that he who to not honour marriage, wether by being unfaithful to his own wife or by even engaging in sexual relationships before and outside marriage, is taking advantage of his brother. It means to cheat your brother, to short-change him. When he gets married he finds out that you robbed and deprived him of his wife. She is not pure anymore. Forgive me using this language: she is used, second-hand. Remember, he might do the same to you! This is in Bible language is disgraceful!
This is not what we hear today. O, my heart cringes at the thought of what today’s young people think about the dearest and most precious gift God gave between husband and wife. What is going to happen when the next generation grows up? Even more disturbing: what about the children born into this world out of immorality where neither father nor mother wants the child? I see how many young people with children who do not have the slightest knowledge and responsibility to rear children. They are plainly just not ready for it. How dreadful!
But we have become more and more refined and discreet in our day when it comes to publications. The lowest grade of sexual immorality is presented as adult entertainment. Pornography is not a bad thing in the eyes of many people. May God help members of his church to not be trapped into the addiction of this depravity of human nature.
The Bible is clear: The Lord will punish men for all such sins. God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God who gave us his Holy Spirit.
Do we strive for holiness? Do we want St Andrews to be a place of godliness? It seems that we need to begin right at the beginning: we have to have godly marriage relationships where the Holy Spirit can dwell and where the relationship between husband and wife is once again restored to reflect the relationship between Christ and his church. This is where children will grow up in the fear of the Lord. From this nucleus God will build a healthy church. May He help us. AMEN.
Hymn No 428: “Blessed is the man”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)