Saturday, March 17, 2018

180318 The Tie That Binds

Galatians 6:1-5 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
Our opening hymn today is usually sung along with the Lord’s Supper and we only sing the first verse. In doing so we leave out an important part of the message of the song. The third verse is usually left out even when the song is used as a part of worship.  
We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
John Fawcett got it right. We bear our own burdens and we bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Burdens in the Christian life are mutual!
When we think about our mutual burdens it is easy to realize that each one of us has a different level of ability to deal with our problems. We need to do everything that we can…
If anyone stumbles. Let’s look at James 5:19-20. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
I find myself being led again and again to the book of James. Some have said that James is the Proverbs of the New Testament. It has much solid advice for Christians of all ages and all history.
When Paul writes to the Galatians and refers to someone caught in a sin he is not talking about errors and defenses against doctrine. He is talking about the “little” sins we all fall into on a day-to-day basis. Not deliberately sinning as an act of rebellion but instead falling through weakness. The words “caught in” implies being tricked by the devil, or our sinful nature. I suppose the words “if someone” could be translated “when anyone” because we all certainly will at one time or another be caught in a sin. A person who is born again still has the ability to sin but not the desire to sin. Instead, when we sin it is because we have tripped over the devil or our human nature!
There are many who want to help but need to be careful how they do it…
If you think you’re spiritual. Let’s turn to Romans 15:1-2. We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Many times people think of themselves as “spiritual” when they are really just judgmental, opinionated and lacking compassion. Such people should be careful not to involve themselves with the problems others have. Those who are strong in the faith have the ability to bear with the failings of the weak. They are able to gently comfort those who have stumbled and then they are able to…
Restore the fallen. Let’s move on to Ephesians 4:11-13. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
This passage is often referred to when we think of the local church leadership. The King James Version of the Bible, in my opinion, does not place the punctuation marks correctly. The problem is after listing the gifted leaders of the church it then says that they have been given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” The mistake that this establishes is the implication that the gifted leaders are to do the ministry. The truth is the gifted leaders are to “equip the saints for the work ministry”. It is true that these leaders are to do ministry but they should also disciple others to do the work of ministry thereby multiplying the ministers in the local church. Restoring the fallen shouldn’t be just the work of the ordained ministry. Restoring the fallen should be the work of all believers. We are to be encouragers because we need to be encouraged ourselves. So that as you work towards restoration for others you must also…
Guard yourself. Now let’s look at 1 Corinthians 10:12-13. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
“Guard yourself” is a very important warning. We need to be careful that we are not too quick to judge and condemn others. Instead, we need to remember, “There but for the grace of God go I”. We are all subject to the possibility of falling. Jesus warned that we should pay attention to the plank in our own eye before we try to eliminate the spec in the eye of another.
Pay attention, there is no temptation that comes upon us that cannot be overcome by the power of God. God is faithful, he will “with the temptation” make a way of escape. This is not just an ability to resist the temptation instead it is a way to escape the temptation.
I’m reminded of Joseph in the house of Potiphar. When his master’s wife tried to draw him into sin he turned and ran rather than trying to resist in place. Anytime we are facing a temptation the better part of wisdom is to move away from the temptation as far as possible. We may end up, as Joseph did, in another kind of prison but even there we can be used by God. When we think things are going against us and there seems to be no way out we should remember Joseph in Egypt. No matter what the enemy did to him he remained a tool of God.
We need to guard ourselves and…
Share the load. Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:14. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
We have a responsibility, all of us, to admonish, encourage and be patient with all of those in our Christian family. Admonish the idle with a positive attitude towards good activity. If a person seems to be fainthearted we need to encourage them to look to God and all of those others he has helped through the years. Whatever he did for Joseph he will do for us. Whatever he did for Moses he will do for us. Whatever he did for Elijah he will do for us. And when we look to him rather than our problems we will be able to be patient with all those struggling around us.
We must guard ourselves, share the load the way Jesus taught us. We must…
Follow Christ. Let’s look at his command found in John 13:34-35. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
On the surface this just simply seems to say “love one another” but there’s a lot more to it than that. We must remember this is not an emotion but an obedience to Christ’s command. We are to love not as an emotion but as a series of actions. Just as Jesus loved us we are to love one another. How much did Jesus love us? He loved us enough to take our sins into his own body and accept our punishment. We must be willing, if necessary, to lay down our lives for our friends. This will be the surest evidence to the world that we are his disciples. A disciple is one who follows in the footsteps of the master and lives a life just as he did.
It may very well be that the greatest sin of the Christian church is having an unloving attitude. Perhaps the world does not know that we are his disciples because we do not show them that we love one another! This is not a command to love the world but to love our fellow disciples. Along the way, you need to…
Watch your attitude! Let’s look at Romans 12:3. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
We need to have a right way of thinking about ourselves. Paul told the Galatians that “if anyone thinks he is something” when in actuality he is nothing he is self-deceived. I recently saw a church sign that displayed this message, “When I see myself the way I really am no one can offend me”. The author of that quote saw himself the way he really is. We need an attitude of gratitude towards God. Only by his grace do we have any opportunity to live out a Godly life.
Remember, “There but for the grace of God go I!” I need to remind myself of that truth over and over again. God’s grace to us is so great that we need to be continually grateful! Too often we are like the servant Jesus told us about. This servant owed his master an amount beyond our imagination. Jesus said that the man owed 10,000 talents. In today’s currency that sum would represent hundreds of millions of dollars. Having been forgiven his debt the servant refused to forgive a fellow servant a relatively small amount of debt. His attitude should have been one of compassion towards his fellow servant. Instead, he threw his fellow servant into jail where he would have to stay until he could pay the debt. Of course, he would never be able to pay the debt from the jail.
We always have an attitude! It can be positive or it can be negative — we are able to choose which we have. We should not think of ourselves more highly than we really are. So, what are we?
Let’s let the Bible tell us. We were brought forth in iniquity (Psalm 51:5). We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Yet, God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). So that, if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). We can rejoice in the fact that God made a way where there was no way so that we might be saved. You have the responsibility to…
Examine yourself. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
Examine ourselves? I fear that we are too subjective to be good judges of who we are. How can we know for sure? Self-examination should be carried out with the Bible in hand. John, in his gospel, said: “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
Coming to a place in our lives where we can really be of help to others begins with our own salvation. In order to rescue another, one has to have a solid foundation. And there’s no other foundation other than Jesus Christ — crucified, buried, and raised into eternal life. Your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ gives you a footing to stand on allowing you to reach out your hand to others around you and share Christ with them. We come to Jesus by the way of the cross! We confess our sins knowing that he is faithful and just to forgive our sins. We confess our allegiance by testifying that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Have you received Christ as Lord? This can be your day of salvation!

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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