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Zeal without knowledge

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Scripture: “for I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”  (Romans 10:2)

Observation: In Romans chapter 11, Paul is making clear that earnestness or desire is not what saves a person… but only God’s mercy.  Paul goes further to apply this to Israel itself!  The Gentiles weren’t pursuing the law or righteousness, but obtainted it (v. 31).  The Jews on the contrary, have not.  Why?  Because they are zealous for the wrong things!  Simply being zealous or “sincere” (a commonly phrase used today) does not guarantee salvation!  Rather, it is TRUTH and MERCY that does.

Application: Tonight we will hear about the Mormon church from Concerned Christians.  Talk about zealous without knowledge!  At least the Jews are zealous for the law.  The Mormons are zealous about a lie!  And this calls into question their salvation (10:1).  What about Christians?  We are not exempt.  We’ve been zealous for things that are not based on knowledge too: fads, campaigns and methods.

Prayer: Lord, may we strip away the empty frenzy of effort and even “religion” and get right down to the TRUTH and KNOWLEDGE of your Word.  May that be cause for much zeal in us!  Amen!

Do The Work

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Scripture: “David also said to Solomon his son, ‘be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail or forsake you…'” (one Chronicles 28:20)

Observation: This is no “spiritualization” of Solomon’s life and calling.  But it’s a specific plan with specific work to do.  As Lutherans, we are so careful to distinguish salvation by faith and NOT works.  But we must also admit that our theology allows for works, given a proper understanding of law and gospel, and that those works proceed FROM faith.  So David is telling Solomon, based on your faith, based on your certainty that God is with you and will never leave you, DO THE WORK that God has given you to do!

Application: What am I afraid of?  We have plans to produce a “temple” to the Lord at Saving Grace.  We have been given this charge from God and are intent on carrying out His will.  So I need to put off any fear or distractions and simply DO THE WORK!

Prayer: Lord, you know that I am plagued with fear and challenges.  Remind me that you are with me and your plans will succeed.  Enable me to do the work you have laid out before me-without fear or discouragement.  Amen.

Do So More and More

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Scripture: “and in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia.  Yet we urge you brothers, to do so more and more.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:10)

Observation: Sanctification.  It’s not justification.  Justification can’t be done “more and more.”  You are either saved, or you’re not.  However, when it comes to being more like Christ, living in order to please God (V4: one), one can do this more and more-according to the apostle Paul.  Such is sanctification.  It can be increased.  You may be doing a pretty good job at____, but you can still do “more and more.”

Application: This concept can lead me to despair, however.  I can never get that feeling of accomplishment.  I can never “finished” my job of serving.  But this makes sense, doesn’t it?  How can one finish serving?  I may do a good thing, but the deed itself is never as important as the One we serve.  And doing a thing is never as significant as growing to be like Christ…. and so I continue to strive… “more and more.”

Prayer: Lord, you know I like to FINISH the job and reach the destination.  Help me to not see pleasing you as something to accomplish, but rather a process to do more and more.  Amen.

But You May Give More

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Scripture: “I have taken great pains to provide for the
Temple of the Lord 100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone… and you may add to them.”
(1 Chronicles 22:14)
 

Observation: 3,750 tons of gold at 37,500 tons of silver plus much more!  That’s a lot of precious material.  It represents not just the wealth of the King, but also of the kingdom.  Much was given as gifts from other kings, too (Sidonians & Tyrians brought cedar. verse 22:4).  All of this was done so Solomon could build the magnificent temple for the Lord.  It was a staggering proposition and an amazing outpouring of thanks and praise offerings.  But what does David say?  You can give MORE! 

Application: no amount of gifts or offerings is too great for the Lord.  If we give all we have, it’s still not enough.  Just as David did not pride himself in thinking that he brought sufficient offerings… so should we never feel as though we’ve done enough, i.e. our duty. 

Prayer: Lord, help me not to place limits on your glory or on the worship of you.  And help me not to limit the gifts that others might bring to just what I can offer. Amen. 

The Lord Needs A Palace

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Scipture: Did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my pepole Israel, ‘why have you not built me a house of cedar?’  (2 Samuel 7:7)

Observation: David is the Lord’s anointed.  He has experienced the blessings of being king, having victory over his enemies, and even a palace of cedar (v. 2).  David feels “sorry” for the Lord and in an act of apparent humility, designs to build the Lord a house.  However, this was not humility, but arrogance.  David has decided to give God something He did not ask for!  David is, in effect, disapproving of the Lord’s way of doing business!

Application:  How many times do I do that?  How often do I (in effect) say, “Lord, I don’t like what you’ve chosen to do.  I think you need to do this… or that?”  I need, instead, to be patient and simply be OBEDIENT to God, and trust in his direction, rather than charting my own course. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to humbly accept your will… even if it seems inappropriate to my eyes.  Amen.