Pure and Decent Lives

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12Contemporary English Version (CEV)
4 Finally, my dear friends, since you belong to the Lord Jesus, we beg and urge you to live as we taught you. Then you will please God. You are already living that way, but try even harder. 2 Remember the instructions we gave you as followers of the Lord Jesus. 3 God wants you to be holy, so don’t be immoral in matters of sex. 4 Respect and honor your wife. 5 Don’t be a slave of your desires or live like people who don’t know God. 6 You must not cheat any of the Lord’s followers in matters of sex. Remember, we warned you that he punishes everyone who does such things. 7 God didn’t choose you to be filthy, but to be pure. 8 So if you don’t obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 We don’t have to write you about the need to love each other. God has taught you to do this, 10 and you already have shown your love for all of his people in Macedonia. But, my dear friends, we ask you to do even more. 11 Try your best to live quietly, to mind your own business, and to work hard, just as we taught you to do. 12 Then you will be respected by people who are not followers of the Lord, and you won’t have to depend on anyone.
Matthew 5:27-32Contemporary English Version (CEV)
27 You know the commandment which says, “Be faithful in marriage.” 28 But I tell you that if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, poke it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to end up in hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
31 You have been taught that a man who divorces his wife must write out divorce papers for her. 32 But I tell you not to divorce your wife unless she has committed some terrible sexual sin. If you divorce her, you will cause her to be unfaithful, just as any man who marries her is guilty of taking another man’s wife.
+++One night at the dinner table, the wife commented, “When we were first married, you took the small piece of steak and gave me the larger. Now you take the large one and leave me the smaller; You don’t love me any more…”
“Nonsense, darling,” replied the husband, “you just cook better now.”
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The church held a “Marriage Seminar” and the Priest asked Luigi, as his 50th wedding anniversary approached, to share some insight into how he managed to stay married to the same woman all these years. Luigi replied to his audience, “Well, I tried to treat her well and spend money on her. But the best thing I did was take her to Italy for our 20th anniversary.”
The Priest said “Luigi, you are an inspiration to all husbands here today. Please tell the audience what you plan for your wife for your 50th anniversary.” Luigi proudly replied “I’m gonna go and get her.”
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Jane, one evening, drew her husband’s attention to the couple next door and said, ‘Do you see that couple? How devoted they are? He kisses her every time they meet. Why don’t you do that?’
‘I would love to do that,’ replied Jane’s husband, ‘but the problem is……….she won’t let me.’
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At a cocktail party, one woman said to another, ‘Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?’
The other replied, ‘Yes, I am, I married the wrong man.’
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Social news: Nellie Morgan and John Rees were married on February 2nd in Newtown’s Baptist church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
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A couple goes out to dinner to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
On the way home, she notices a tear in his eye and asks if he’s getting sentimental because they’re celebrating 50 wonderful years together.
He replies, ‘No, I was thinking about the time before our nuptials. Your father threatened me with a shotgun and said he’d have me thrown in jail for 50 years if I didn’t marry you. Tomorrow I would’ve been a free man!’
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MARRIAGE A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t. A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, but she does.
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As we have studied the Ten Commandments this summer, we have learned how to honor God, to honor our parents, t0 honor our neighbor. Now we need to look at how we honor our spouses and each other within in our relationships as gender-specific people. How do men and women get along?
Men and women are made for each other. That being said, sometimes men and women don’t get along. I’ve heard more than once, from both sides of the equation: “You can’t live with them; you can’t live without them.”
I can’t imagine a world without marriage.
The sixth commandment focuses on our relationships with our spouses, our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our sweethearts, and on our own self-respect.
As with all the commandments, it’s pretty straight forward: no adultery. And, as with all the commandments, we find that it’s easier to commit and harder to avoid than a surface reading indicates.
The sixth commandment requires loyalty. It requires commitment. It requires honesty. It requires respect.
When I as taking Confirmation classes, I was taught that no commandment is better or more important than another. If I broke the Fifth Commandment, it wasn’t any worse than breaking the Second Commandment. (Murder, swearing.)
However, I think our culture reads the commandments differently. When you look at the most sensational headlines in the news, they don’t have to do with swearing or lying; they have to do with adultery. When you think of all the reasons public officials have had to resign from office, how often has it been for committing adultery, for marital infidelity, as compared to false swearing or damaging someone’s reputation.
Another difficulty is that our culture presents multiple opportunities for adultery.
Adultery is not just about married people; it is about purity in mind and body. Which movies would you watch with Jesus sitting beside you, sharing a popcorn? Television shows?
When I think back to the television of my youth, The Dick Van Dyke Show, To Tell the Truth—even the soap operas, I’m amazed by the standards of what is presented as comedy and entertainment. I’ve always valued the honesty of documentaries, and I think the news should be reported honestly, but where should the line be drawn?
Of course, as literary person, I’m conflicted because I believe censorship can be carried too far, too. I made my students read Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Why would I teach them about two people who aren’t supposed to know each other, let alone date, who run away to get married, and then kill themselves? The only complaint I ever had from a parent was when one young man told his parents that he had seen a little bare breast in the film version we watched. A split second of skin and I was in trouble. Forget the plot. The young man saw only one thing.
So, where do you draw the line? And where is the line?
Let’s get technical. First of all, adultery is both mental and corporal. That is, you can commit adultery in your mind or you can actually, physically commit adultery.
How do you commit mental adultery? Let me give you just a few of my personal examples: Here is my list: Kevin Costner, (during Bull Durham), Christopher Plummer (during The Sound of Music), Harrison Ford (The Fugitive), Tommy Lee Jones (also The Fugitive) (I think that’s called two-timing.) Without going into detail, I wouldn’t have minded being Susan Sarandon or Julie Andrews. And in The Fugitive, I would have let either one of them catch me. Bim was not cast in any of those mind movies. That’s adultery.
It seems harmless, but like all “harmless” sins, it can lead to bigger trouble. Likewise, having impure thoughts in our minds can lead to acts that we condemn in others, but excuse in ourselves.
Adultery is also the sin of encouraging others to act in ways that harm their self-esteem or bodies. Sex-trafficking is an issue that has been uncovered by the media in recent years. It has not lessened the instances of trafficking, but we at do know that it exists everywhere; one of the most dangerous spots is the I-80 Truck stop, down the road from us. If you ever want to learn more, friends of mine made a documentary about women in our area. Any Kid Anywhere: Sex Trafficking Survivor Stories (2014).
It is not polite or pleasant to talk about this issue, but this is one of those times when what we don’t know can hurt us. Any of you who have worked at busy intersections like truck stops know that putting vulnerable people and self-serving predators in the same place can lead to irreparable harm.
I haven’t even touched on pornography. You may think it’s your right to read or view whatever you like, but your pleasure is likely provided by someone else’s pain or shame. Is that a good thing?
The Ten Commandments are ten simple statements. Do this. Don’t do that. Fortunately for us, enough scholars and theologians have written simple explanations for all of them so that we understand exactly what how we are supposed to follow them.
Martin Luther wrote “What does this mean?” after each commandment in his small catechism. To obey the commandments, we have to know what they mean. When Moses was preaching, when Jesus was preaching, adultery had different reasons for existence. In those times, women were property, owned by their husbands, so adultery was a kind of stealing another’s property. Now, when we read Luther’s explanation, we understand that the commandment has much broader ramifications for us. We are not the property of each other; we are much more precious to each other than property. That makes loyalty and love and respect all the more important.
And, as Luther says, this commandment applies to all of, not just those who are in committed relationships.
What does this mean?
“We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed”—all of us—pure and decent lives—
And, if we are blessed with a loving spouse, — “and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.”
I pray for you that you may lead a pure and decent life in thought, word, and deed. Amen.

 

 

 

Stand Your Ground

13 My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. 14 All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. 15 But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves.
16 If you are guided by the Spirit, you won’t obey your selfish desires. 17 The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should. 18 But if you obey the Spirit, the Law of Moses has no control over you.
19 People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. 20 They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are 21 envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God’s kingdom.
22 God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, 23 gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. 24 And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. 25 God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. 26 But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are.
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21 You know that our ancestors were told, “Do not murder” and “A murderer must be brought to trial.” 22 But I promise you that if you are angry with someone, you will have to stand trial. If you call someone a fool, you will be taken to court. And if you say that someone is worthless, you will be in danger of the fires of hell.
23 So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God.
25 Before you are dragged into court, make friends with the person who has accused you of doing wrong. If you don’t, you will be handed over to the judge and then to the officer who will put you in jail. 26 I promise you that you will not get out until you have paid the last cent you owe.
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You shall not murder. How hard can that be? Have you ever murdered anyone? I haven’t. I’d be in jail right now if I had. Why do we even have to think twice about this? And it’s so hot today. Let’s just say, don’t kill anybody and all go home.
Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Let’s assume that you have to hate someone to kill them. Further reflection implies that if you hate someone, you can still find ways to hurt them. We all know that. We learned it on the playground. When the playground bully goes after you, she or he doesn’t have to kill you to damage you. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” That has never been true and it never will be. Bruises and cuts heal in a few days, but the hurts caused by mean words last for years.
Jesus taught that murder includes “bitter animosity, contempt or hateful hostility toward others.”
I often wonder, what causes us to hate other people, or dislike them. I think that fear and envy are two reasons. If we think someone can hurt us, if they make us afraid, we certainly aren’t going to have good feelings in their presence. If we envy someone, that means we think we are lacking something important and we feel bad about ourselves; we transfer that bad feeling to the person who has more. Does that make sense?
We don’t have to analyze why we hate someone—-we know how it feels, how it cripples us. If you know someone you don’t like is going to be at a party, do you stay home? If you know someone you don’t like works in a certain store, do you avoid that store? If you don’t like someone, do you say unkind things about them?
I remember, with shame, some of the conversations around our supper table. I spent a fair amount of time criticizing acquaintances, even friends. Now when I hear my own children criticize other people, I cringe, because I know where they learned it.
I’d like to present you with a list of ways to murder people, not to encourage you, to prevent you from hurting people.
How many ways is murder committed? Thomas Watson, our friend from the eighteenth century, says there are twelve ways to murder someone. And he’s not talking twelve different kinds of guns or knives.
Here are twelve ways to commit murder.
1. With the hand, that is with a gun, a knife, or a club.
2. With the mind. Malice is mental murder. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer.’ 1 John 3: 15. To malign another, and wish evil against him in the heart, is murdering him. When you wish someone evil, where does that lead?
3. With the tongue, by speaking unkindly or untruthfully of someone.
4. With the pen—or the keyboard. Facebook had not been invented when Watson was exploring the Ten Commandments, but if it had been, I think he’d find plenty of evidence of murder on Facebook. Have you ever seen a post bad-mouthing someone—like a movie star or performer or a political figure? Has anybody watched Saturday Night Live and laughed at Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Sean Spicer? Am I being too picky?
5. By plotting another’s death or just trying to get even with someone.
6. By putting poison into cups. How about lead in water? Carcinogens in food? Is it wrong to put harmful ingredients in food and sell it? How about letting your grandkids eat whatever they want when they’re at your house?
7. By witchcraft and sorcery — which were forbidden under the law. I think that would include fortune tellers. I tell you more about that later.
8. By having an intention to kill another. Have you ever intentionally hurt someone’s feelings?
9. By consenting to another’s death—let me paint a broader brush: when we refuse someone life-giving help.
You may have heard that we have a severe opioid/painkiller addiction problem in our county, state, and country. There is a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose. What is Narcan™ (naloxone)? Narcan™ (naloxone) is an opiate antidote. Opioids include heroin and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin. When a person is overdosing on an opioid, breathing can slow down or stop and it can very hard to wake them from this state. Narcan™ (naloxone) is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose.
Some states, including Iowa and Illinois, have made it legal for EMTs and law enforcement officials to administer Narcan when they are called to the scene of an overdose. One Illinois community has proposed a “three strikes and you’re out” law; that is, if you overdose more than three times, you don’t get the antidote when someone calls 911 for you. Is that consenting to another’s death?
10. By not hindering the death of another when in our power. Pilate knew Christ was innocent. I find no fault in him,’ he said, but did not hinder his death; therefore he was guilty. Washing his hands in water could not wash away the guilt of Christ’s blood. —Thomas Watson
Do you have the power to stop death? I think Christians do have the power to stop death, through mission work, through generosity, through political activism.
Let’s talk about one piece of legislation that’s getting some attention: the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Will any people die if they don’t have health insurance? Or let’s talk about Iowa’s privatization of Medicaid. I know of various persons whose quality of life has been drastically affected because they no longer can afford to pay for the help they need. We’re talking about the kind of help that bathes you, dresses you, feeds you, and makes you fell like a human. We’re talking about not being able to get the right kind of medical care, because the private insurance companies limit which doctors can be seen. It’s very complicated, but caring for a person with disabilities is very complicated.
11. By unmercifullness. By taking away that which is necessary for the support of life; as to take away the tools or utensils by which a man gets his living. The only example I can think of here is closing an American factory and moving it to Mexico or China. Then again, some lucky people in Mexico and China have jobs.
12. We must not injure another in his soul. In other words, do not set a bad example for your children or your friends, do not invite others to break the law (underage drinking comes to mind, as do fireworks set off in the middle of the night), and avoid people who will get you in trouble. Be aware that others watch what you do. If you tell racially biased jokes, you’re telling your listeners that that is the correct thing to do. If you get blind drunk on a Saturday night, somebody else will be happy to join you, just to belong to your crowd. If you cheat on a test, and brag about it, someone else will think it’s ok, too.
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I couldn’t help thinking of one of Iowa’s newest laws, colloquially referred to as “stand your ground.” My interpretation of this law is that you can shoot anyone, anytime, anywhere. All you need is a reason and a gun.
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where I wished I had a gun because I was afraid. I can’t even think of a time where I’ve been in a situation where I felt afraid (except around livestock). I am very, very lucky. But I know people who don’t go outside after dark, because there are people with guns out there. I know people who feel safer if they have a gun.
Governor Branstad, on April 13, 2017, signed one of the most ambitious expansions of gun rights legislation passed in any state in recent years, giving gun owners the ability to defend themselves in public and preventing local governments from implementing their own rules.
The stand-your-ground provision allows people in Iowa to use deadly force anywhere if they believe such force is necessary to avoid injury or risk to one’s life or safety. It also would allow a person to use deadly force even if an alternative course of action is available, and an individual could be wrong in his or her estimation of danger.
So, if I decide to work late some night here, in this building, and someone comes walking up the sidewalk as I head for my car, if I’m afraid, I can shoot that person. My advice: you’d better make an appointment if I’m working late. The thing that really worries me though, is that I have to be very careful about where I walk and when. I’ve always been a little nervous in parking lots at night, but where else should I be on guard? And what about my children, when they get off work or leave a concert or a restaurant?
Does”stand your ground” make it easier to break the fifth commandment without consequences?
I’d like to suggest that there is another way for us Christians to “stand your ground.”
Earlier today, we confessed together, “We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.”
Now that I’ve told you twelve ways to commit murder, let’s stand our ground and prevent murder twelve ways.
1. With the hand, that is with a gun, a knife, or a club: Keep your guns locked up. My brother has forty guns and a temper. He has three big safes. He collects Savage model 99, model 1895, and model 1899, in case you wanted to know.
2. With the mind: Try to find the good in everyone.
3. With the tongue: do not criticize or make fun of someone who is not present.
4. With the pen—or the keyboard: Think about what you put on Facebook, in emails —make sure it is always kind, even if someone acts like a fool.
5. By plotting another’s death or just trying to get even with someone: How about forgiving and forgetting?
6. By putting poison into cups: How about advocating for clean water and safe food? How about watching what you eat and what you serve others?
7. By witchcraft and sorcery. Avoid fortune tellers. My story: when I was a younger woman, my friend and I went to a fortune teller. It was weird. But the thing that stuck with me is that she said, straight out, “You will die when your are 67.” When she saw the look on my face, she said, “Don’t worry; it will be painless.” So I’ve worried for thirty years. On Friday, I turned 68. I made it. So, my advice: avoid fortune tellers.
8. By having an intention to kill another. Try to build people up rather than tear them down.
9. By consenting to another’s death: How can you help someone live a happier life?
10. By not hindering the death of another when in our power: Is there someway you can help someone who is having health problems?
11. By unmercifulness: Support your local businesses.
12. We must not injure another in his soul: Be a good role model—not just to the younger generation, but to your friends, too. Be careful in your choices of activities.
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So, have I made it easier or harder for you to keep the Fifth Commandment? It’s not about what you have in your gun cabinet; it’s all about what you have in your heart.
Be nice. Or as Jesus says, “Love your neighbor.”
Amen.
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Disclaimer: my brother Dean also has the biggest heart in the world and he loves Jesus so much that he keeps his Sunday School certificate in his safe with his guns. Also, his aim isn’t that great—so nothing to fear.
Resources:
https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-ten-commandments/the-sixth-commandment-life-is-a-precious-gift
http://stopoverdoseil.org/narcan.html
http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/328712-iowa-governor-signs-sweeping-expansion-of-gun-rights
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/iowa/articles/2017-04-04/iowa-senate-oks-gun-bill-with-stand-your-ground-provision y BARBARA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press

Who’s in Charge?

11 Jesus also told them another story:
Once a man had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.
13 Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat.
15 He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. 16 He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing.
17 Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! 18 I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’”
20 The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.
21 The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.”
22 But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. 24 This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
25 The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What’s going on here?”
27 The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.” 28 The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.
His father came out and begged him to go in. 29 But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. 30 This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.”
31 His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.”
The Fourth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother.
What does this mean?
We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.
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The Fourth Commandment introduces us to a series of commandments that define proper relationships with other people. The first people we meet are our parents. Fortunately, they are delighted to meet us, too. Our first positive, loving relationships begin with our parents. They teach us how to love and how to live. Just in those two tasks are reason enough to honor them. But there is much more to this commandment.
Theologian Leah Baugh points out six implications of this commandment.
1. The fourth commandment is rooted in God’s way of structuring creation.
The family structure not only provides for the population of the world but also is for the good of children and society in general.
In our communities, we take the family structure for granted. In fact, we have a bias toward a male parent and female parent and any number of children. But a family is not limited to that definition. A friend of mine taught Junior Achievement to Kindergartens. The curriculum for Kindergartners centers around family. Patty asked the kids how many of them belonged to a family. Not everyone raised as hand. She discovered that those with single parents did not feel like they deserved to be called family. Patty was able to set them straight. She told them that she was a widow, so she and her daughter were the only ones in their family but they were still family.
I think, too, of a child I call my grandson, even though he is not related, and has never lived in my home or the home of my children. Sometimes family is not blood; it is something just as strong: love and respect. This particular grandson spends a lot of time breaking the law. He doesn’t spend much time in school because he fights with the other kids. But he is still, on some mysterious level, family. He belongs somewhere.
The point is, family is a structure that we count on, a way for us to organize ourselves. We are not born independent and it is natural for us to make connections and nourish and value those connections. Family is the system for which God made us.
Psalms 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb a reward.
2. Honoring our parents is one way we honor and love God.
Keeping the fourth commandment is part of the Christian’s call to love God and love neighbor. Like the other commandments, our obedience is proof that we love God.
3. Honoring our parents means more than doing chores.
Honoring our parents is a lifetime commitment that includes respect and reciprocation. We have useful reminders on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to honor our parents. Then we buy cards that express in verses what we find hard to say in the ordinary times with our parents. We put extra effort in to finding ways to give our parents more than the usual care. And, as many of us know, we continue to honor our parents to the ends of their lives, performing for them the same tasks they performed for us when we were children. Eventually, we become the wise ones who guide them in their last days.
Proverbs 1: 8 My child, obey the teachings of your parents, 9 and wear their teachings as you would a lovely hat or a pretty necklace.
4. The fourth commandment has implications for parents as well.
Parenting does not come naturally. Parents have to be just as intentional as their children in following God’s rules.
Paul warns in Ephesians: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4)
Deuteronomy 6: 4 Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only true God! 5 So love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. 6 Memorize his laws 7 and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 3:12 The Lord corrects everyone he loves, just as parents correct their favorite child.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
5. Family relationships have been rocky and difficult ever since Adam’s fall (Gen. 3). Cain killed Abel, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, even Jesus family disagreed with him. Mark 3: 20 Jesus went back home, and once again such a large crowd gathered that there was no chance even to eat. 21 When Jesus’ family heard what he was doing, they thought he was crazy and went to get him under control.
The best example of this is the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32). In the story of the prodigal son, the wayward son dishonored his father by asking for his inheritance early and running off to squander it. Yet, the son, incredibly disobedient, is welcomed back by the father. However, this doesn’t mean the family is now perfect. The older brother, who always obeyed his father, now feels gypped.
6. Christ was the perfect child by honoring his earthly parents and heavenly Father.
We have Jesus as an example for honoring parents. Remember it was his mother who was with him at the wedding at Cana. And as he was dying, he turned the care of his mother over to one of his disciples. John 19: 25 Jesus’ mother stood beside his cross with her sister and Mary the wife of Clopas. Mary Magdalene was standing there too. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and his favorite disciple with her, he said to his mother, “This man is now your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “She is now your mother.” From then on, that disciple took her into his own home.
I want to look at one more interpretation of this commandment. Martin Luther and other theologians expanded the meaning of the commandment to include all those in positions of authority. That makes obeying the commandment more complicated because not all who are in authority over us are God-fearing people.
Luther believed that God had set the rulers in their places and because they were appointed by God, they should receive respect and obedience. God expects political fathers to preserve order and harmony and to prevent conflict within a nation. Luther might have had a ruler like Job in mind:
Job 29: 11b Everyone was pleased with what I said and did. 12 When poor people or orphans cried out for help, I came to their rescue. 13 And I was highly praised for my generosity to widows and others in poverty. 14 Kindness and justice were my coat and hat; 15 I was good to the blind and to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy, and I defended them in court, even if they were strangers. 17 When criminals attacked, I broke their teeth and set their victims free.
Thomas Watson’s job description for a leader is thus: He is the father of his country; he is to be an encourager of virtue, a punisher of vice, and a father to the widow and orphan.
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul asks us to pray for our leaders:
2 First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2 Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God.
Our state and national leaders have not enjoyed the support that comes with admiration and approval. Instead, they have been criticized and maligned in newscasts, in editorials, and over cups of coffee. Many voters feel helpless and have given up on our political system. No matter what our political views, no matter how we perceive our power in the political system, we should think about Paul’s request: pray for those in power. It can’t hurt, and we know that prayer is answered.
Honor your father and mother…and all those who care for you. Be a good role model for the next generation. Pray for your leaders. That’s God’s plan. Make it yours. Amen.

1 https://cccdiscover.com/6-things-to-know-about-the-fifth-commandment/
Leah Baugh grew up in Southern California where she rode horses and helped out with the family garden. She studied chemistry in college before turning to theology and receiving a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. She enjoys traveling, making soap, playing music, writing fiction, and spending time with friends. Her greatest desire is that people from all nations would come to know Jesus and grow in their understanding of his Word.

2 Thomas Watson, http://biblehub.com/

Why Do I Have to Go to Church?

The Third Commandment
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
What does this mean?
We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.
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Why do I have to go to church?

If I had a dime for every time I heard that in the eighties and nineties, I would be about $100 richer.

Fifty-two Sundays times twenty years times ten cents.

We can see just by how many people aren’t here that many people feel they don’t have to go to church.

Why do we go to church?

Why did God make a commandment about a special day of the week?

Briefly—it’s for our own good.

The Sabbath day, our Sunday, provides two benefits, equally important. Sunday provides a day to rest and Sunday provides us with a intentional time to renew our relationship with God.
Imagine a calendar that expects us to work seven days a week. Imagine a culture that expects us to work every day of the year. We know that we need a break, a retreat from the daily work that we do. A day off gives our bodies and minds time to restore and renew. We work more safely, we work more efficiently, we work smarter when we take a break. A day off gives us time to put things in perspective and we return to work with a healthier attitude toward our coworkers and toward our responsibilities. Even if you hate your job and your coworkers, a break gets you out of that toxic environment and you can go back, knowing that you’ll have another day off before long. A day off is good for our physical and mental health.

The other benefit of the Sabbath is that it helps us to focus on our relationship with God. As we enter this sanctuary, as we read the words of the liturgy and Scripture, as we sing the hymns, our thoughts are turned toward God, toward God’s love for us and our love for God.

Why should we think about God? God gave us life, God gave us food, air, beauty, all of creation. How do we repay God? What can we give God to show our gratitude? The only thing we have to give is our worship. God doesn’t need anything from our bank account, our pantry, our tool box. The best way to show our gratitude to God is to intentional time in worship. And the amazing thing is that even though we are giving back to God, we also benefit from our participation in worship. God is not going to be diminished if we ignore God, but we miss out on what we receive from worship.

I find that renewing my relationship with God on Sunday strengthens my faith for the rest of the week. People tell me often that worship on Sunday starts the week out right. Our time together prepares us for whatever happens in the next six days.

Now, let me ask you a question. Why do we gather on Sunday and not on Saturday or Tuesday or Friday? The answer goes back to God’s command that we meet every seven days—one day out of the week. The Israelites met on the seventh day, the last day of the week because that was the day that God rested. Exodus 20: 11 In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That’s why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me.

How did we end up with Sunday? Jesus rose on Sunday. The day of the week did not automatically change on the first Easter. Some early churches, especially those whose members were originally Jewish, continued to meet on Saturday. But other groups met on Sunday. This gave the new church something about which to argue, evidently, for Paul says in Colossians 2:16 16 Don’t let anyone tell you what you must eat or drink. Don’t let them say that you must celebrate the New Moon festival, the Sabbath, or any other festival. Paul cites another example in Romans 14:5-6Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Some of the Lord’s followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honor their Lord.

However, by the end of the first century, most congregations were meeting on Sunday.
We could meet on any day, though. But the advantage of meeting on Sunday is that you know that no matter where you are, you can find a worship service to attend on Sunday. And I like knowing that on any given Sunday, I am worshipping not just with you, but with millions of people all over the world. It gives me a sense of unity and community with other Christians.

Meeting on Sundays also benefits the rest of the world. Employers work their schedules around Saturdays and Sundays. The NFL schedules their games on Sundays. Having a specific day of the week set aside from the regular work week benefits not just Christians, but all of society. Even those who work on Sundays are given a day or two off during the week.

One more reason to go to church: this is where the strength of the Church lies.We are in community. We have each other. We support each other. We strengthen each other.

Let me quote from an article by Rev. John Warrener, a Methodists minister:
>It is the fellowship of the church where we find Jesus Christ.
>It is the fellowship of the church where we find protection from the demonic forces of evil and sin in this world.
>It is the fellowship of the church where we find encouragement in life.
>It is the fellowship of the church where we become Jesus Christ to the world.

First, worship is where we always, without fail, find Jesus. And worship is where we find each other. When else during the week do you see all these people? We are diverse and scattered, but we can always count on being together in this time and pace.

Second, we find protection. When you are tempted to speak evil, hear evil, do evil, what is the resource that keeps you on the path Jesus gave us? When your stand up against evil, where do you get the courage? Doesn’t it help to know that other people will back you and support you when you resist slander or stealing or hurting others? There is safety in numbers.

Third, when the circumstances of your life are beating you down, where can you find people who will pray for you, call you, look after you? When someone at church asks, “How are you?,” they want an honest answer and they are ready to encourage you and comfort you.
Fourth, we become Jesus Christ to the world. When we say we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, it is a lot more effective to work as a group.

Rev. Warrener has more to say about the community of Christians.
When you become a Christian, you are called into a relationship with God (1 Corinthians 1:9). But I John 1:3 makes it clear that we enter a fellowship that goes two ways: with God and with other Christians

And for those people who say they find God on the golf course or the mountaintop or in the privacy of their homes, here are some irreplaceable pieces of the Christian life that cannot happen when you live in isolation from the church:

USE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS—I Corinthians 12 makes it clear that God has given spiritual gifts to every Christian. And verse 7 states unmistakably that these abilities are not provided to make you feel good; they are abilities to minister that should be used for the common good! In Peter 4:10 commands us to use spiritual gifts to help each other.
MUTUAL MINISTRY—The church is pictured as a body in I Corinthians 12, and Paul explains that each part of the body exists to meet the needs of other body parts. In the same way, God intends each of us to meet the needs of other believers, using our strengths to help in their areas of weakness. I Corinthians 12:21 expresses it this way: “The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you.” Neither can a Christian claim to be self-sufficient today.
ACCOUNTABILITY—God designed the church as a place where spiritual leaders could watch out for our welfare, as a shepherd guards the sheep (I Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:17). A Christian who answers only to himself can easily rationalize sinful attitudes or actions; regular contact with other Christians can keep us sharp.

Remember the Sabbath Day. Keep it Holy. It’s not just a day off work. It’s a day of renewal and revival. It’s necessary to keeping one’s faith. It’s necessary to help us carry out our promises and our intention as Christians. What a great gift this Sabbath day is. It helps us to live the life we want to live, the life of a Christian. It gives us the ability and the power and the desire to follow Jesus, to be what we claim to be: Christ’s presence in God’s creation. Amen.

Resources:
http://biblehub.com/library/watson/the_ten_commandments/2_4_the_fourth_commandment.htm
http://ucmpage.org/jwarrene/messages/whychurch.html
http://christiananswers.net/q-acb/acb-t009.html