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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall scene in Minnesota (Photo by GEM)
Fall scene in Minnesota
Photo by Georgia

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"Shun The Wrong And Do The Right"

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9). "Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22). "Find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10).

Our pastor and his wife were out of town this last Lord's Day and Milford Brubaker was our guest speaker. He is an older man who had pastored for 53 years and still enjoys getting out to preach. He preached an old-fashioned type message that we both appreciated. In recent years he has become legally blind and told us he had a hard time even seeing any faces out in the congregation, but he was certain we were there. We commend his faithfulness.

Something he did, which seems to be a thing of the past, especially warmed our hearts when he spontaneously broke into an old chorus. Of course many of the younger people and those young in the faith had no idea what the lyrics were so they listened while the "old-timers" which includes us broke into song with Pastor Brubaker. We sang an old song which I hadn't heard for many, many years. A line struck me as being such a missing element in so much of today's music and frankly in many cases preaching.

I know the Lord will make a way for me,
I know the Lord will make a way for me,
If I live a holy life, shun the wrong and do the right,
I know the Lord will make a way for me.

For many years we have enjoyed a song "God Will Make A Way" that has a similar message of assurance.
But as we sang the song this last Sunday the line, "If I live a holy life, shun the wrong and do the right" caught my attention. It's a message the people of God need to hear.

Romans 12:9 underlined in BibleWe join those who hold God's Word as a standard. His Word declares that there are people who do good and live upright and there are people who do evil and live godless lives. Our first daily text states, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good". The Psalmist wrote, "You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with You the wicked cannot dwell."

We are called to "hate what is evil".  This can be misunderstood, so let me elaborate.  We rightly acknowledge love to be a fundamental Christian virtue. Thus there is a tendency to believe that hate of any kind must be forbidden.

Yet the apostle Paul commands the early believers in Rome to "hate what is evil".  In the early chapters of the book of Revelation the church in Ephesus was commended by Jesus for a specific hate which He also felt: "You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate" (Revelation 2:6).

Quote on hating sinThe Scriptures are very clear: We are to hate evil. We are to hate evil practices such as the scourge of intoxicating alcohol and drugs, sexual immorality and other sins of the flesh. We are to hate evil religious systems which lead men to hell. We are to hate the vile pornographic industry which has snared scores of men and women in its pernicious grip thereby destroying families and increasing sexual crimes.

However we are to be agents of God's love and truth to those who are entangled in these horrific evils. They're among the people Christ died for. From each of these backgrounds there are scores and scores of people who've come to trust in Jesus Christ, repented of their sin, and are now our brothers and sisters in the true faith. Just consider a word regarding the redeemed who had come out of a life of sin in 1 Corinthians 6, "such were some of you".

We are also "to cling to what is good". Hating evil and clinging to good will surely include a strong stand for that which is truth which includes calling good; good and evil; evil. Let's not invent new words to replace old definitions reflecting the permissive times we live in, such as
"love affair" which sounds more acceptable than adultery, or redefining marriage from the clear Scriptural pattern established by God and the list goes on. A powerful verse states, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20).

Today may the Lord give us a resolute will to live a holy life, shun the wrong and do the right!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, we cannot remain neutral but must stand for that which is good or we will fall for that which is evil.  Help us, as believers, to cling to that which is good even when it comes at great sacrifice. With the aid of Your Holy Spirit, we will be keenly discerning of the spirits of this age. Philosophies of this world must never trump principles from the Word. We look to You alone, for "There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Some Further Reflections On Today's Message

I recently heard a comment in a Sunday School class where a member similar in age to me was reminiscing about his childhood understanding of Christian faith as primarily obeying a list of "dos and don'ts". Many in my generation that read this may identify with him. Through most of my adult years in much of the church there has been a de-emphasis on "dos and donts", focusing instead upon the love and grace of God and I realize that has been my emphasis as well. That's good!

However as so many in recent years have been essentially silent on the "dos and dont's" we have seen an increase in acceptance of sinful behavior even to the point of redefining what is sinful, even in matters which the Bible makes abundantly clear.

In our area we have a current controversy where a local school district is set to bring in a speaker who will encourage the kids to sexual abstinence before marriage. Our very liberal local paper called this "controversial" and some vocal parents do not even want this presented, yet other Lancaster County districts are using evil, godless groups like Planned Parenthood to "teach" the students on these matters! And apparently this is not controversial enough to even make the news.

Frank Rice, a longtime pastor associate, observes in a letter to the editor: "Let the young people hear what she has to say. Then let them make their own decisions. But remind them they are free to make their own choices but not to choose the consequences."*

Yesterday afternoon I was visiting with my friend Mark, who also serves in chaplain ministry (in his case a hospice chaplain). We were discussing the breakdown in morals and especially our observation regarding of the poor choices so many young people are making. I told him about our church service on Sunday and shared the first line of the chorus we feature today. As expected he finished quoting the lyrics, like me recalling when songs like this were common.

This is a subject I may develop into a longer article but it occurs to me there is a blessing in "do's and dont's" based upon the Scriptures.

1) Certainly we need to hear and heed specific Scriptural "do's and dont's" and there is no shortage of such lists and specific commands and prohibitions in the Bible. Consider the Ten Commandments or passages like this: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-7.
2) Some "do's and dont's" are based on Scriptural principles yet may not be specifically identified in Scripture. In speaking of the fallen human condition in Romans 1 Paul writes "they invent ways of doing evil" (Romans 1:9). Think of all the new ways of doing evil that have been invented since the Bible was written! And think of how busy people are now in this kind of inventing!
3) Some "do's and dont's" are well-meaning boundaries or fences to keep us out of trouble. We need to be careful though in never saying "the Bible says" when the Bible doesn't address a matter specifically. This can lead to a loss of credibility and lead one to rebel.
4) Finally, and this is especially true in our area with the influence of the Plain or "old order" groups, some "do's and dont's" are a means of making distinctions among different religious groups and as an expression of separation from the world. To outsiders some of these "do's and dont's" can seem very peculiar and it seems to me some groups place a lot of focus on them. Since we have many friends in these groups we converse about this and it's not unusual that they have no idea why they have such a rule! While others recognize them as a "church rule" not a rule listed in the Bible.

I am pretty sure my friend in Sunday School was primarily speaking of matters in the 3rd and 4th categories above but it seems to me that so many now have a hard time appreciating any notion of "do's and dont's", including those that are specifically in the Bible or those that have a basis in a Scriptural principle.

In fact I believe many in the present age just don't want any mention of things being right and wrong.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"God Will Make A Way"   Video  Don Moen (This is the song many of us know well)

"I Know The Lord Will Make A Way"  Video  Dennis Ruff This is the version we sang in our church this last Sunday. It is a song written by John T. Benson, Jr in 1950. See if you've ever heard it.

"Jesus, I Come"  Video   Homecoming Singers

"Glorious Freedom"
  Video   Gaither Vocal Band

* Frank Rice is a friend who served a church in northern Pennsylvania at the same time we lived in that area. He now serves a church here in Lancaster County and wrote a thought-provoking letter to the editor concerning the "controversial" abstinence speaker:

"Maybe someone can clear up the confusion. The Warwick School District has invited a well-known and well-qualified speaker  to come and encourage young people to abstain from sexual activity and some folks, parents I assume, are upset about it?

If I understand correctly, you want your young people to make their own decisions and not be influenced by this speaker. Yet our media constantly promotes sexual promiscuity. Many of these young people are influenced by their examples.

Some would argue that you can't scare young people into decision-making. Then why do we see wrecked cars on the front lawns of high schools around prom time? Why do we try to scare them away from self-destruction via alcohol and drugs? Are these upset parents anti-abstinence?

Let the young people hear what she has to say. Then let them make their own decisions. But remind them they are free to make their own choices but not to choose the consequences.

By the way, do I detect a note of negativity from LNP staff toward traditional values? There sure doesn't seem to be any support of them coming off the press."

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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