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Sermon No: 37-Seek the Lord



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SERMON TOPIC: Seek the Lord

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 22 December 2007

Topic Groups: COMMITMENT, PRAYER, FALSE RELIGION

Sermon synopsis: Why should we seek the Lord now? What is the difference between a diligent and a superficial seeker? Can we seek God in our own way - and on our own terms? What is the nature of false religion? What is the nature of true religion?
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SEEK THE LORD

True & False religion

The wicked don’t seek God

NO ROOM FOR GOD

Psalm 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (NIV)

Room for work, entertainment & family, but none for God

Conditional promises

WON’T BE FORSAKEN (IF WE SEEK)

Psalm 9:10 Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. (NIV)

GOD WILL SHOWER RIGHTEOUSNESS ON US (IF WE BREAK UP OUR UNPLOWED GROUND)

Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. (NIV)

The more land you put into production, the better your crop will be. How much “unplowed ground” do you have that ought to be broken up and made useful?

Conditional promises

Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (NIV)

WE WILL RECEIVE:

Blessing (HEB: Brakah, from barak - by implication prosperity)

vindication (HEB: tsdaqah, from tsadaq - righteousness, justice)

righteous generation (HEB: dowr, from duwr - posterity)

IF WE HAVE CLEAN HANDS AND A PURE HEART

Conditional promises

RECEIVE PROSPERITY, HOPE AND A FUTURE

GOD WILL BE FOUND (IF WE SEEK HIM WITH ALL OUR HEART)

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper* you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD… (NIV)

* HEB: Shalom - health, prosperity, peace

Conditional promises

LACK NO GOOD THING

Psalm 34:9 Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Conditional promises

GOD WILL MEET OUR MATERIAL NEEDS (IF WE SEEK HIM ABOVE THESE THINGS)

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV)

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

GOD WILL:

Have mercy

Freely pardon

WE MUST:

Forsake wicked ways (repentance)

Forsake evil thoughts

Turn to the Lord

Conditional promises

WE MUST:

SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND

CALL ON HIM WHILE HE IS NEAR

God’s timing, not ours. Do not harden your heart when God speaks; he might not always be near; you have no guarantee of another opportunity.

Hebrews 3:7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts…”

Conditional promises

2 Chronicles 7:3 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (NIV)

Conditional promises

GOD WILL:

Listen - hear from heaven

Forgiveness - forgive their sin

Restoration - will heal their land

WE MUST HAVE:

Humility - humble themselves

Relationship - pray

Sincerity - seek my face

Repentance - turn from their wicked ways (not just remorse)

Conditional promises

The advice David gave Solomon: 1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

The choice is ours. We CHOOSE to seek or forsake God. He will either be found by us or reject us forever.

Our MOTIVES must be pure (God understands every motive…)

2 Chronicles 15:1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

Conditional promises

Conditional promises

WILL BE REWARDED (IF WE EARNESTLY SEEK)

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (NIV*).

earnestly seek (GK: ekzeteo - seek after carefully, diligently)

BBE* - … he is a rewarder of all those who make a serious search for him.

KJV* - … he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

* BBE: Bible in Basic English KJV: King James Version NIV: New International Version

The diligent seeker – Saul & David

1 Samuel 28:6 He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7 Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

1 Chronicles 10:13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Wasn’t this unfair? Samuel tells us that when Saul inquired of the LORD, he never answered him. Why then do we find in Chronicles that God caused him to die for going to a medium and not inquiring of the Lord?

1 Sam 28:6 He inquired [sha'al] of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him … 7 Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire [darash] of her.”

The word sha'al is used of those who inquire of the Lord, including Saul in 1 Samuel. But Saul is condemned for not ‘darash-ing’, which is a much stronger word meaning to follow, search, or worship.

1 Chron 10:14 (Saul) did not inquire [darash] of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death…

Darash implies searching diligently or earnestly

The significance: Saul is condemned for his lack of diligence in seeking God's counsel.

For Saul, God was a utility rather than the source of life and the object of worship, and that is shown further in his willingness to consult a medium and get supernatural direction by hook or by crook.

The diligent seeker – Saul & David

Compare this to the earnestness (sincerity) of David in his seeking God. David is consumed with his search and compares it to a deep thirst.

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

The diligent seeker – Saul & David

FICKLE CHRISTIANS

Do we only seek God earnestly in times of trouble?

Does this sound like us?

Psalm 78:34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. 35 They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. 36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; 37 their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. 38 Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. 39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.

Asa served God

1 Kings 15:14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life.

But when he got news of war:

2 Chron 16:7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand…” …10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison.

And when he got sick:

2 Chron 16:12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians.

Asa & Jehoshaphat

Requested by Ahab to assist in battle

2 Ch 18: 3 Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied, “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war.” 4 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”

Asa & Jehoshaphat

News of war

2 Chron 20:20 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat… 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD…

He is earnest …he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said: “…12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

Asa & Jehoshaphat

Jehoshaphat gets the “praise-team” to lead the army:

2 Ch 20:14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel…15 He said: “… This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… 18 Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice. 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”

Asa & Jehoshaphat

The battle is not yours, but God’s:

2 Ch 20:22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them…27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets. 29 The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.

Asa & Jehoshaphat

Genesis 4:3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor…

Hebrews 9:22 …without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Cain brought the fruit of his labour (represents good works)

Cain must have understood this: Gen 4:5 …So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Sought God in his own way - Cain

When Samuel was late, Saul offers the sacrifice the LORD instructed only the priests to offer.

1 Sam 13:11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” 13 “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time…”

Sought God in his own way - Saul

Saul “half-obeys” the LORD due to pressure from the crowd.

1 Sam 15:17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? … 19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?” 20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” 22 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

Sought God in his own way - Saul

Saul's reply reveals his heart: “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.” Then he says, “I have sinned; but please honour me before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.” (KJV)

The primary motivation in Saul's life was the crowd.

If he was with a crowd of prophets, he could prophesy*.

If the crowd was deserting him in battle, he couldn’t trust God.

If the crowd wanted the spoils of war, he couldn’t stand in their way.

Even now though he was rejected by God, the crowd must not know it.

* 1 Sam 19 – When, out of jealousy, he goes to capture David (who is with Samuel and the prophets), Saul’s plan is thwarted when he starts prophesying as well.

Sought God in his own way - Saul

2 Chron 26:5 He (Uzziah) sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success … (NIV)

2 Chron 26:16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. 18 They confronted him and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.” 19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead.

We must have God-given authority for what we do in the work and worship that God demands of his people. The priests of the Mosaic covenant were authorized to offer sacrifices and to burn incense on the altar of incense. No one else — including kings — had that authority.

Sought God in his own way - Uzziah

That sounds very harsh, does it not? But we must not forget what happened to Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10), the sons of Aaron who were consumed by fire for offering strange (or “unauthorized”) fire * before the LORD. We must learn that God means what he says. We must seek God in the way he prescribes, not in the way we feel is best.

* The prohibition against intoxicating drinks which immediately followed, lead some to believe they may have been drunk – Lev 10:8 Then the LORD said to Aaron, 9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die.

Seek God in his way – Nadab & Abihu

DEAD RELIGION HAS FORM & RITUAL, WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THE SIGNIFICANCE

2 Kings 17:26 It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.” 27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the LORD. 29 Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places.

Seek God in his way – The Samaritans

2 Kings 17:33 They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought … 35 When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.”

They never understood the covenant (forbidding worship to other gods).

Worshipping God was a means to stop being eaten by lions!

Today some people also serve God as an “insurance” or “lucky charm”, rather than out of a deep spiritual desire to follow him.

Seek God in his way – The Samaritans

The appeal was CONVENIENCE

Jeroboam set up golden calves in Bethel and in Dan. The 2 locations suggest that Jeroboam was trying to make worship easy. Why travel to Jerusalem (the site God had chosen for worship) when these 2 locations were closer?

MAN-MADE

Jeroboam's religion was “devised in his own heart” - it was a religion of man's conception, not God's. Jeroboam's religion was “like the feast” - in other words it was a clever forgery made to look like the real thing.

GAIN FOLLOWERS

The motive behind Jeroboam's religion was to gain followers – much like the motive behind religions today, where numbers are more important than doctrine.

The nature of false religion - Jeroboam

The Hebrew word for “high places” is BAMA. This word refers to a pagan religious worship area although some even worshipped God there. These “high places” were usually located on natural heights such as hills and mountains.

5 religious activities occurred here: animal sacrifices (1 Kings 3:2), prostitution (Jeremiah 3:2), the burning of incense (1 Kings 3:3), daughters walking through fire (Jer 32:35), and child sacrifice (Jer. 7:31). It appears that there were sacred pillars at the high places (2 Kings 17:8-12). These appear to be carved pillars depicting the female goddess of fertility and male deities. It appears that each high place had priests (Num. 22:41).

Q: Why were these high places such a constant thorn in the flesh?

A: Because they APPEALED TO THE FLESH. Sexual experiences were part of worship.

The nature of false religion – High places

POWERLESS

2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power…

THE MESSAGE IS NOT OFFENSIVE

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

The nature of false religion - Paul

MESSAGE IS NOT OFFENSIVE

Jeremiah 38:1 … Jeremiah was telling all the people… 2 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague… 3 This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’” 4 Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.” 5 “He is in your hands,” King Zedekiah answered. “The king can do nothing to oppose you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.

The nature of false religion - Jeremiah

MESSAGE IS NOT OFFENSIVE

Micaiah – 1 Kings 22:6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” 7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” 8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied… 12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”

The nature of false religion - Micaiah

Micaiah – 1 Kings 22:13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me.” 17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’” 18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

The nature of false religion - Micaiah

MESSAGE IS NOT OFFENSIVE

Jesus said “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)

Matt 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

John 6:60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” … 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

The nature of false religion - Jesus

Their religion is not that in which they are most deeply interested. Their conduct shows that many other things interest them more deeply than the subject of religion-upon which they are more excited and engaged. Their religion seems to be like the labor of children. Children choose to play for its own sake-in that they are deeply interested. Therein you see their engagedness and zeal. But when put at work, it is manifest that this is submitted to as the least of two evils. They don't love work for its own sake, but prefer it to punishment. Just so it seems to be with the religion of many professors. Religion is not that to which they naturally turn as the great central object of their affections, and to which they return with the force of gravity, as soon as the pressure of any object that has diverted their attention for a time, is removed. On the contrary, their attention is somewhere else, even while they are outwardly, and languidly attending to what they call religion.

The nature of false religion - Finney

Their religion is altogether a secondary business. It is not the great, absorbing, commanding, prominent object of their lives; but is so far huddled into a corner, that everyone may see that religion is not their main business, that they have some other business, and that religion is a matter by the bye.

Thus, what they call their religious duties-their prayers-reading the scriptures, &c. are hurried over, or for slight causes wholly omitted. While that which constitutes their main business, commands their time, and thoughts, and hearts.

That their religion is slavery is evident from the fact that it does not constitute their happiness. This demonstrates that it is not a thing chosen for its own sake. True, they cannot be happy without it, nor can they be happy with it. Conscience will not suffer them to rest without something they can call religion. And yet they do not choose it for its own sake. The mind is not satisfied with it, nor is it made happy by it.

The nature of false religion - Finney

They are religious upon the same principle that men take medicine in time of sickness. It is submitted to for the benefits of it. The medicine may be nauseous and offensive in itself, but is submitted to as the least of two evils.

Consequently, you hear them calculating about how much is their part, in any religious or benevolent enterprise; and they seem to be glad when they think they have done what they suppose falls to their share. Then they think they have done up their duty, and may rest awhile, or attend to their own affairs. -Hence,

The inquiry, how little they can get along with doing, and giving, and praying, and still maintain a hope? How little religion is compatible with going to heaven?

The nature of false religion - Finney

Jeremiah tells all entering the temple to worship: Jer 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood * … 7 then I will let you live in this place… 9 Will you steal and murder **, commit adultery and perjury… 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.

* In SA, estimated 200,000 abortions a year – one every 2½ minutes. ** In SA, over 24,000 murders a year – about one every 20 minutes.

The nature of false religion - Jeremiah

ATTENDING CHURCH IS NOT ENOUGH (ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT APPEASE YOUR CONSCIENCE)

Isaiah 1:11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.

The nature of false religion - Isaiah

EXPLOITATION OF WORKERS, QUARRELING, FIGHTING

Isaiah 58:2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

The nature of false religion - Isaiah

CARING FOR YOUR PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS

1 Timothy 5:3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

The nature of true religion - Paul

CONTROL TONGUE, CARING FOR NEEDY, HOLINESS

James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Have we been polluted by the world? (Our values, tastes, language, desires & entertainment)

The nature of true religion - James

Isaiah 1:15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

The nature of true religion - Isaiah

Do we go to church and hear about the rich man who ignored the dying beggar at his gate – and then ignore the beggar at our gate or traffic light?

Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I…”

The nature of true religion - Isaiah

DO WE POINT FINGERS AT OTHERS AND TALK MALICIOUSLY ABOUT THEM?

Isaiah 58:9 “…If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well- watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

The nature of true religion - Isaiah

The soul yields obedience to all the requirements of God joyfully. For the will of God marks out to it the very course, of all others, which it delights to pursue. The affectionate wife obeys her husband, and his wish is her law, not of constraint but willingly, because her happiness is wrapped up in doing his will. She loves him, and to please him is her element and her life. Just so it is with the true Christian. To please God is his supreme joy.

The true Christian never yields to the will of God by constraint; but always prefers the will of God, whenever that will is known. In other words he really wills what God wills, as soon, and as far as he knows what that is. He may have desires for this and the other object, and may express those desires to God in prayer. He may think this, or that course would be most for the glory of God. But true religion always prefers that God's will should be done. His will is controlled by infinite wisdom and love. It is impossible, therefore, that true religion should ever be made miserable, by being obliged, or constrained to submit to the will of God.

The nature of true religion - Finney

The truly religious man does not inquire how little religion he can get along with; but how much he may possess.

Not how much sin may be indulged in, and yet he get to heaven; but how he can be rid of all sin, whether he goes to heaven or not. Not how sinful he may be, and still be a child of God; but how holy he may and can be.

It casts out fear-fear of hell-fear of disgrace-fear of man-and all fear that hath torment is annihilated, and the mind sweetly bathes itself in an ocean of love and peace.

True religion is not submitted to, by him that possesses it, as medicine, but is like food, that we eat for its own sake. We love our food, and should eat it for the pleasure of eating, whether we expect to be benefited by it or not. Just so in religion-The mind is not mainly influenced by the benefit to be received; but it is the food of the mind-the natural aliment on which it lives.

The nature of true religion - Finney




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