Tag Archives: truth

Armor all! – Ephesians 6:10-20

Armor all! – Ephesians 6:10-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 30, 2017

Armor All is a line of car care products manufactured by American company Armored AutoGroup of Danbury, Connecticut, United States. Its sprays, gels, liquids and wipes are specifically designed to clean, shine, and protect most interior and exterior automobile surfaces. It is now owned by Spectrum Brands which is a diversified company that makes weed killer, batteries, and pet products. On the Armor All logo is a Viking dressed in his armor to portray the protective properties of the product.

The believer has been given spiritual protection by the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ. Paul listed what he believed the protection of God consisted of and his list is not to be either comprehensive or all there is to the protection one has under God’s grace. Paul’s desire was not to give Christians a check off list to follow or adhere to but rather to show them that we are in the midst of a battle and that we have been given a gracious gift to go into combat. As believers we have the Armor All of God; let’s see what Paul meant…

READ: Ephesians 6:10-20

Paul is coming to a close in his letter to the Ephesian Church and his desire was that they remain true to the gospel and faithful to Jesus and so he writes them about…

I. The spiritual battle everyone is challenged by! (Vv. 10-12)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

1. It is important to notice what Paul wrote here. He writes them to “Finally be strong”. Paul knew that the main battle people face is a spiritual one. Not everyone understands this or notices it because most just get up each day and do the same things over and over. Now certainly there are those who face psychological or physical handicaps but the point here is that we can become so focused on us that we forget about our spirituality. Many have and therefore do not give it a thought. It makes their lives a greater struggle than they realize. However, Paul reminds us that one can be strong “in the Lord and his mighty power”! God has given us what we need for our spiritual challenge! He reminds believers to “Put on the full armor of God”. Not just part of the armor but all of it. Again, Paul is not making a list so you can check it twice each day but rather he is reminding his readers that they face a foe far greater than they realize. We put on this armor “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”, literally his wiles or methods. His scheme is to get people from focusing on the spiritual aspect of their lives and to focus on themselves instead. Paul understood that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The world does not understand the war being waged and that it is dying and decaying right before our eyes and many are blinded by the blight. We forget that everything in the universe and everyone in the world whose focus is not Jesus as Lord are spiritually blinded and doing battle against him! Remember Paul began his letter by writing that “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”(Ephesians 2:1-2 NIV) Paul is reminding us of the spiritual battle everyone is challenged by!

EXAMPLE: When soldiers are sent into battle they are reminded to remember their training and to stay focused on the task ahead. Each Roman soldier of Paul’s day was trained to fend off ten enemies. They knew they could depend on their training and their armor to give them the advantage against their enemies. Christians are not to stand against the sin and evil of the world in their own strength but rather in the full armor of God! The reason is simple: we face a foe that is far stronger then we are and who will use every method he has to trick us into focusing on ourselves instead of God. We are to armor up and face the spiritual battle everyone is challenged by!

Paul understood that in a sin-driven world it would be hard for believers to go out and live lives that were diametrically opposed to the ungodliness of the society they lived in. So he writes them to remember that…

II. Believers have everything they need to do battle! (Vv. 13-15)

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

1. Remember the old Superman motto that he was for “truth, justice, and the American way”? Of course if you were to repeat this in a college classroom today you might be lynched for being way too xenophobic, racist, and misogynist. Yet here in Paul’s encouragement we discover him declaring “truth, righteousness, and the gospel of peace”! Since our battle is a spiritual one Paul relates we are to “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Paul was not necessarily speaking of a particular day of evil but rather when evil on any given day challenges our lives in Christ. When this occurs we will be able to stand our ground in Jesus! Notice how many times he tells us to “stand”. He does not call us to attack but to stand firm because when all else fails in our lives we need to be able take our stand in Jesus alone! So how in the world does one stand in Jesus? Paul writes we are to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Look at the progression Paul does here in his writing about this armor: Again it is “truth, righteousness, and the gospel of peace.” He is referring to the truth of salvation in Jesus alone, the righteousness that comes because of it, and gospel of peace Jesus preached between man and God because of him. We are to gird ourselves therefore in the truth of Jesus, dress ourselves in the righteousness that comes from believing in him, and walk in the readiness daily that comes from the gospel of peace we know in Jesus! Paul is teaching his readers about the confidence they can have no matter what the ungodly sin-fallen world throws our way! We can stand confidently and calmly as we go into the world no matter what occurs in our life because we have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and we are ready to stand with our feet fitted firmly in the gospel! Paul knew that believers have everything they need to do battle!

EXAMPLE: One of things I learned early in life was that if my parents told me to “stay right there and don’t move”, I was to stay right there and not move! I later learned that if I was lost in the wild I was to remain put so that anyone who was searching for me could easily find me. Most people die in the wilderness when they are not prepared, go alone, or do not remain where they said they would be. However, we sometimes can focus so much on the what the meaning of the equipment meant that Paul listed that we forget the core truth Paul was making here; namely that we are to remain firm in Jesus. We are to stay put because we know that believers have everything they need to do battle!
Paul continues in his list of grace gifts and concludes with those that are the basics of Christianity. And in doing so Paul reminds us that…

III. The battle all believers confront is a daily business! (Vv. 16-20)

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

1. Interestingly Paul ends his teaching with what occurs in the life of a Christian when they first believe. Here’s what I mean: Paul shares about faith, salvation, the word of God, and then prayer. So he writes that “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” A soldier’s shield was often made of wood overlaid with linen and leather. And it was often soaked in water before battle in order to smother any flaming arrows. The one thing that protects the Christian is their faith and Paul knew it was like a shield. When a person’s faith is strong in the Lord it can snuff out any smoldering ember the enemy tries to use in igniting sin in our lives. Paul then encourages his readers to place “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” together. Paul wrote the Thessalonians, “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8 NIV) the Christian’s hope is certain and secure and we know that the Word of God is “Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) These things are not to be done necessarily in order or as a one-two-three kind of thing but rather Paul’s wording here suggests a constant and continual action. And the spiritual glue, so-to-speak, that we can hang our armor on is prayer. So Paul tells his readers: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Again this is a constant and so “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Prayer is the believer’s conversation, petition, and praise to God himself! Paul was acutely aware of this and so asks, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Paul probably imprisoned for his faith and so he knew quite well what it meant to be strong in the Lord. We are to armor all because Paul knew that the battle all believers confront is a daily business!

EXAMPLE: There have been several movies called “Death Takes a Holiday.” While the Bible describes a messenger of death sent from God in several places, the Bible does not teach there is a specific being in charge of death. And while it is pure fantasy to think that death might take a vacation at some point, evil never does. The Bible does teach that all of creation is in a fallen state. It is all tainted by sin and therefore in a state of death, dying, and decay. My Mom would say that “Evil never sleeps.” I am not sure if she was referring to us boys or what but I do know she was correct. More than ever Christians need to armor all because the battle all believers confront is a daily business!

Conclusion:

The spiritual battle everyone is challenged by! Believers have everything they need to do battle! The battle all believers confront is a daily business!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Whispers! — John 7:11-18

Whispers! — John 7:11-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 1, 2015

Have you ever had a vicious rumor spread about you or someone you know that was not true? I have. Gossip, like whispers in today’s passage, can be like a burning fire and consume everything and anyone in its path. The Bible relates that “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. (Proverbs 18:8 NIV)” In other words gossip can seem satisfying at first, but in reality it is like poison and affects those who participate in it and those who it is often about. It is like digested food, retained and remembered.

When folks gossip it says a lot about their character and what they value. How we handle gossip says a lot about who we are and our character as well. Jesus faced those who wanted to whisper or gossip about him and how he handled himself and those who wanted to spread rumors speaks volumes about Jesus’ character and who he was. Let’s find out what Jesus did about the whispers or gossip concerning him…

READ: John 7:11-18

Some folks make gossip a game. Douglas Adams, who wrote “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ quipped that “Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.” Someone once wrote that “The Puritan’s idea of hell is a place where everybody has to mind his own business.” This could be said of the folks of Jesus’ day as well. We discover that…

I. Whispers can fill the sails of speculation! (Vv. 11-14)

Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, “Where is that man?” Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.

1. The Jews, meaning the Scribes, Pharisees, Teachers of the Law and other enemies of Jesus expected him to be at one of the biggest Jewish festivals and so they “were watching for him and asking, ‘Where is that man?'” The wording here denotes their disdain for Jesus and also their view of who they actually saw him as, a mere man and not the Messiah. Some surely wanted to find him and kill him, while others wanted to test his teaching or see some miracles. I believe some deliberately refused to name him publically because of their contempt. Certainly there are those who think they might have been afraid of the Jewish leadership, but that does not make complete sense with the word usage and how we just learned they desired to kill him. It is easy to dismiss someone or gossip about them when one uses non-descriptive terminology rather than a personal name. Whatever the reason, we discover that “whisperers were divided as to who Jesus might be, “Some said, ‘He is a good man.’ Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.'” Both whispers were erroneous because Jesus is more than just a good man and he certainly was no deceiver. However, the gossip had already begun its dirty work. The people were in fear of the Jewish leadership and this is why “no one would say anything publicly about him.” Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him.” Interestingly, we also learn from John that it was “Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.” It is then, at just the right time that Jesus begins to confront the whisperers. The gospel goes against the gossip. This is exactly what one has to do when confronted by gossip, teach the good news through our responses, attitude, and actions. Remember, whispers can fill the sails of speculation!

EXAMPLE: Those who love to foster the sinister speculation of others do not like to face those they whisper about. Whisperers love to remain in the shadows of “she said, he said” “some say” or “it has been said.” Twain said that “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” When met with gossip Jesus confronted it with the gospel and we should as well. Jesus discovered that whispers can fill the sails of speculation!

When we talk frequently with God, we will speak the words we have heard. When we spend our time in speculation, we will discuss the lies we think we know. Again, we discover here in John’s gospel that…

II. Whispers’ winds are calmed by the truth! (Vv. 15-18)

The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

1. When Jesus begins to confront his gossips with the gospel, “The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?'” My grandmother would say, “Ignorant folks think those they talk about are just as dumb as they are.” This was the case here with the Jewish leadership and Jesus. They just could not believe this hayseed from Galilee could be so spiritually smart. As Jesus taught he did not teach as others did, he taught with authority and the truth. Jesus was not like those who wanted to garner other men’s praise, he desired that his listeners only know and understand the words of God. They were surprised at Jesus’ knowledge of the Scriptures; that he should be familiar with them; to be able to intelligently interpret them and give them sense and meaning in a clear concise manner as he did! Jesus answers his gossiping critics, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me.” He only taught what he learned from God. How much better would the world be if this were the case today in many of our lives as well. In fact if his listeners wanted to make sure what Jesus taught was the truth or not, all they had to do was the wil of God. He relates, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Later on in John’s gospel Jesus would confront his skeptics by telling them, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say. (John 12:49-50 NIV)” Jesus knew where their problem was, it found in their pride. The Jewish leadership thought they were the keepers of God’s words, his law, and now they were being confronted with the truth. This is why he continued by telling them, ” He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” The true goal of anyone should be to glorify God! In a sense, Jesus is exactly what we were meant to be! We were meant to be holy and teach the truth of God to others! When others began to gossip about Jesus, he confronted them with the truth! Whispers’ winds are calmed by the truth!

EXAMPLE: I like what Dennis DeHaan wrote concerning telling the truth, “How prone we are to lying! With a stroke of exaggeration here, an omitted detail there, or a misleading silence we distort the truth. Yet truth is the foundation and superstructure of all relationships. Remove the girders of truth, and society crumbles in on itself. This moral absolute is so self-evident that even criminals punish their own who lie to them. The ninth commandment forbids purposeful deceit against our neighbor and underscores the sacredness of truth in all our dealings. The two Hebrew words used for “false” in Exodus 20:16 and in Deuteronomy 5:20 mean “untrue” and “insincere.” Any expression of insincerity and untruthfulness, therefore, is bearing false witness against our neighbor. This commandment also exposes two underlying motives that God hates—malice and pride. When we lie, it is usually to cast a person in a bad light or to place ourselves in a good light. The first springs from malice, the second from pride. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John. 14:6 NIV)’ The closer we are to Him, the more truthful we will become with ourselves and with others. The question is, ‘Are we followers of Him who is the truth?'” Whispers’ winds are calmed by the truth!

Conclusion:

Whispers can fill the sails of speculation! Whispers’ winds are calmed by the truth!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The testimony of the truth! — John 5:30-38

The testimony of the truth! — John 5:30-38
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 4, 3014

For a lot of folks, truth is relative. In other words truth is only true when it benefits them personally, however, this is not true! Truth is not defined by the moment, the era, social definitions, or our own desire to be happy. Truth is truth, period. In the movie Mary Poppins the main character sings a song to her charges to make things easier for them. The song is “A Spoonful of Sugar.” The lyrics relate that anything, even hard work is better with the right attitude, however, far too many think that the truth should be delivered in the same manner, with a spoonful of sugar. They often sugarcoat it in order for it to be more palatable for their listeners.

Jesus knew that truth was relative as well, so-to-speak. In fact, he knew it because his Father was the author of the truth. But he did not change the truth to suit his needs or to make people feel better about themselves. The truth was who Jesus was because his Father was the truth. Jesus here in John’s gospel gives us the testimony of the truth, let’s discover what he teaches us…

READ: John 5:30-38

My father had so instilled in me that lying was one of the worst things a person could do that I never even attempted to do so. In fact, I was horrible at it. He often said that “the truth will find you out.” We learn here in John’s gospel that…

I. The truth is the will of God! (Vv. 30-32)

By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. (John 5:30-32 NIV)

1. Jesus continued on the theme he had begun with that by himself, as the Messiah in human flesh, “I can do nothing.” And even though he has the authority to judge (v.27), he relates three things concerning his judgment: 1) he judges only as he hears from God, 2) his judgments are always just, and 3) he never seeks to please himself but only seeks to please his Father concerning the judgment he gives. Jesus’ will is to do the Father’s will. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:34 NIV)” What sustained and satisfied Jesus in his ministry was the fact that he was completely in God’s will for his life. We can rely on this truth as well for our lives because when we are in the will of God, we can be confident in all we do with our lives. We know when we are not in the truth of God when we begin to cover up our faith, are embarrassed by our faith, or make excuses for our faith. Jesus would also relate, “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. (John 8:29 NIV)” Jesus knew that God never leaves us or forsakes those he loves. Jesus knew that if what he said about himself was only from him, it might sound like boasting, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.” He also understood that the Jews wanted more than one source when someone was giving evidence about themselves and he bluntly remarks, “There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.” God testified concerning his Son, Jesus. Jesus was content to submit to the Father’s will and to let the Father authenticate Him. The truth is the will of God!

EXAMPLE: David Roper writes concerning the will of God: “We’re often looking for God’s will—especially when we’re in a difficult situation. We wonder, What will happen to me here? Should I stay or does God want me somewhere else? The only way to know for sure is to do what He asks you to do right now—the duty of the present moment—and wait for God to reveal the next step. As you obey what you know, you will be strengthened to take the next step and the next. Step by step, one step at a time. That’s how we learn to walk with God. But you say, ‘Suppose I take the first step. What will happen next?’ That’s God’s business. Your task and mine is to obey this day and leave the future to Him.” Jesus looked to his Father and allowed him to lead him. He did nothing without God’s leading. He could do so because he lived in the truth and the truth is the will of God!

I have one of those new flat screen TVs where they measure the resolution in 780p, 1080p, or HD. I have come to the realization that the truth of my resolutions are often in sub-standard definition! Yet, through it all I have discovered that…

II. The truth is the light of God! (Vv. 33-35)

You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. (John 5:33-35 NIV)

1. Jesus did not just depend on the testimony of himself or that of God the Father, he also reminds his listeners that John the Baptist’s function was that of a witness. He tells them, “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth.” A good witness tells the truth. John’s witness about Jesus had integrity. However, Jesus immediately relates, “Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved.” Human testimony is dependent upon human frailties. We cannot see everything, we cannot hear everything, and we certainly do not know everything; but God does! Jesus knew that his listeners respected John the Baptist because of who he was, but Jesus did not necessarily need John’s acceptance to be who he was or to say or do what he did. John’s gospel began by telling us that John the Baptist “came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. (John 1:7-8 NIV)” It was through the light of God that all men would believe and be saved. Jesus mentioned John’s testimony about himself so his listeners would “be saved.” Jesus’ truth, his light burns eternally, but “John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.” John’s light, his testimony, only burned for a little while and then Herod ended up killing him, but Jesus’ testimony, his truth shines forever! John the Baptist was sent for the people’s benefit, however sinful people are in such darkness that they need someone to tell them what is light! “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4-5 NIV)” How interesting is it then when Jesus is in front of Pontius Pilate, who accuses him of declaring himself a king, Jesus responded, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. (John 18:37 NIV)” The truth of God shone brightly in front of sinful man, but they were blinded to its truth! The truth is the light of God!

EXAMPLE: One of the things we like to do when we go into the nearby Ape Cave is to turn off any lights. We are immediately engulfed in complete and utter darkness. You cannot even see your hand in front of your face. Just as it is hard to see in utter darkness, it is difficult for us to see the truth when we are in the darkness of personal sin. Sin blinds us to the light of the truth in our lives. Jesus would teach, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23 NIV)” We learn here that the truth is the light of God!

The problem with a new year is that it goes in one year and out the other! Kind of like our New Year’s resolutions. We make them only to break them. How wonderful to know then that there is something and someone we can utterly depend on and that is Jesus. The reason is simply because…

III. Seeing is believing the truth of God! (Vv. 36-38)

I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. (John 5:36-38 NIV)

1. Not only did Jesus have his own testimony, God’s testimony and the testimony of John the Baptist but he also had ” testimony weightier than that of John.” Sometimes we are trusted and known not just by what we say about ourselves but in what we actually do with our lives. Our actions speak louder than our words. Jesus was also justified by the things he did. He relates, “For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.” The very miracles the Jews had such a hard time with because Jesus was willing to display God’s compassion instead of their legalism, spoke volumes to who Jesus was. Jesus would later tell Philip, one of disciples who wanted Jesus to prove who he was, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14:10-11 NIV)” Earlier Jesus told his detractors, “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. (John 10:37-38 NIV)” When Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and then died on the cross and rose from the grave, he testified to the truth of who he was! Isaiah the Old Testament prophet would declare concerning the coming of Jesus, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. (Isaiah 35:5-6 NIV)” Sadly, the Jews of Jesus’ day were so calloused and hardened by sin they could not recognize who he was, but those of who do recognize Jesus for whom he is are blessed! Jesus retorted, “For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:17 NIV)” This is why he said to those Jewish leaders, “You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.” The question this morning would be, “Do you see, hear, and recognize Jesus for who he is and will you give your life to him?” For Jesus, seeing is believing the truth of God!

EXAMPLE: My Uncle and I were working in my grandmother’s garden. I had been entrusted to weed it while he had worked on the other side of the house. When he came back he asked me how in the world I had gotten done so fast, then he realized I had just cut the tops off all the weeds instead of pulling them up by their roots. He informed me that a real man is not only seen by their words but by their work ethic as well. I learned that day that simply saying I did something carried little weight, but instead I was judged by what I had actually done. The legacy we leave in life is not just with our words but in what we do with our lives. We may struggle with believing in Jesus by what he said, but when we look intently at his life seeing is believing the truth!

Conclusion:

The truth is the will of God, the truth is the light of God, and seeing is believing the truth of God!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The Testimony! — John 1:19-28

The Testimony! — John 1:19-28
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 28, 2014

Did you ever witness something you had a hard time explaining? I have. We were headed home from camping and the night sky filed with a brilliant light that flashed across the starlit darkness. At first we thought it was a UFO, but we knew they did not exist and so then we wondered where in the world the streaking light was coming from. We then realized that we were near Vandenberg Air Force Base. It is a United States Air Force Base located 9.2 miles northwest of Lompoc, California. It is under the jurisdiction of the 30th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command. And then we understood immediately what the strange light was, a rocket fired from Vandenberg.

A person’s testimony is simply them trying to explain to others what they have experienced and witnessed. Here in John’s gospel we are discovering what he experienced and witnessed concerning Jesus. Sometimes it was difficult for him to do so, but John persisted in his testimony and because of that we have one of the most beautiful narratives that describe Jesus’ life and what those around him thought of him as well. Today, we will look at the testimony of what others thought about Jesus…

READ: John 1:19-28

Again, we are looking at John the Baptist and what he thought about his own ministry and the ministry of Jesus. We may wonder why but in the Apostle John’s day many followed John the Baptist and wondered how this cousin of Jesus fit into the narrative of what God was doing in their world. And so, here in John’s gospel we have…

I. The testimony of John the Baptist! (Vv. 19-23)
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
1. As in the other three gospels (Synoptic Gospels), the ministry, words, and actions of John the Baptist was so influential that the religious and secular authorities in Jerusalem decided to investigate him. “Levites” is John’s way of describing some of the city’s leaders. The priests and Levites trucked out to where John the Baptist was doing his preaching to ask about his baptism and what he claimed about himself. So “this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.” John’s gospel begins to introduce for us the public ministry of Jesus to the nation Israel. Some feared that perhaps John the Baptist was the Messiah to come, so they go to find out if he was or not. Yet John the Baptist “did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Christ.’” In our day and age and in John’s as well, there are those who would quickly claim to be something they are not in order to gain recognition, fame, or perhaps fortune. Over the centuries we have had charlatans a plenty. To each question asked of him, if he were the Messiah (the Christ), Elijah, or some other important prophet John the Baptist readily responds with “I am not” or a flat out “no”. John wants only that which God has given him to proclaim or do. Here is a wonderful bold man of God satisfied with the task he had been given, whether great or small. Frustrated by John’s answers, they finally ask him, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” Do not be mislead here because these snakes wanted an answer that could either give them a way up or a way out of any predicament they might find themselves in when they return with an answer their big city bosses did not like. They either wanted to be able to hang on to the coat tails of John or hang John by his own words. Politicians and pendants have not changed. “Give us something we can take back with us to increase our station with those who sent us.” So, they place the results squarely on John the Baptist himself, “What do you say about yourself?” John the Baptist’s answer is brilliant in its Scriptural simplicity and wonderfully wise in its response and sets into motion the ministry of Jesus to the world. “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the desert, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’” John the Baptist was the pathfinder, the scout of God, and the testifier to the truth that was coming into the world! John the Apostle gives us the testimony of John the Baptist!
EXAMPLE: John the Baptist was one of those rare men who were completely comfortable in his own skin, even if it was draped in a camel coat! Few men in our day and age understand this. There is a good saying that states, “Real men know a real man. Real men follow Jesus!” John the Baptist was a real man; a man’s man. John was a man who was comfortable with godly things, speaking about righteousness, and willing to risk it all in order to affect his society and his surroundings. Not comfortable in getting all he could while he could, John knew God’s plan was bigger than his meager life and far grander than his existence. John the Baptist did not assume that which he knew he had no right to. He was a giver; a giver of himself, a giver of God’s word, and a giver of the truth. Here, in his gospel, John the Apostle gives us the testimony of John the Baptist!

John was a rare breed, he was literally the last of the Old Testament prophets. From this point on there would be no more prophets of God like that of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Moses or others. The reason is obvious, all the prophets pointed to the Messiah to come, as did John the Baptist. This is why John the Apostle now begins to describe for us…

II. John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus! (Vv. 24-28)
Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
1. The Pharisees were an important sect of Judaism and outnumbered the Sadducees. There were about 6,000 of them and they were most influential toward the general population. They believed in angels, the Messiah, an afterlife, and held a strict interpretation of the Law which also embraced many oral traditions. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, the Pharisees were the only religious group to survive the Jewish war of 66-70 AD, and their teachings formed the basis for the Talmudic tradition of Judaism. We discover that “some Pharisees who had been sent questioned” John by asking him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” their question to John the Baptist was essentially, “Since you have no official title or you do not claim to be anyone important, why are you baptizing?” Interestingly, John the Baptist knew exactly why they had come to him. We learn that when “he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’ (Matthew 3:7-8 NIV)” In fact, while he did not think he was anyone of importance in the scheme of things, neither were they, because he knew that even “out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham! (v. 9)” His response again is illustrative of who John was and how he viewed himself, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know.” Remember John the Apostle had already told us that Jesus “was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1:10-11 NIV)” The religious and social leaders of the day did not recognize John the Baptist for who he was and neither would they recognize Jesus for whom he was! John related that simply put, “He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” His message was one of announcement; the Messiah would come and John the Baptist would not be worthy to even do the most subservient task, such as untying the Messiah’s sandal strap! This was John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus!
EXAMPLE: We discover that John the Baptist always kept pointing people to repentance and the Messiah to come. He wanted to prepare them for the coming message of God. If they had not prepared themselves by repenting of their sins, they would not be prepared for what God would do in their midst. In fact, we will see for ourselves that even while many of these same folks see the miracles of Jesus, hear the words of Jesus, they are not willing or ready to receive the gospel of Jesus. The same is true for our day and age. I believe it is because many of us have either been misled or have forgotten what our task in life is to be after we come to Christ ourselves. On the night Jesus was betrayed one of the last prayers he prays is this, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:18-21 NIV)” As Jesus sent his disciples to witness, he sends us as well, and just like John the Baptist our testimony is to be about Jesus!

Conclusion:

We have seen for ourselves the testimony of John the Baptist and the testimony about Jesus! What do you testify about in your life?

This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Just Wondering…

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:19-24 NIV)

I read recently that we are a nation of consumers and this includes much of what we think we do for the Lord as believers. Christians consume Christ, not in the Eucharist sort of way, but rather in the commercial self-driven self-centered way of the world. So much so that our worship of God has become what we emote out of it and not what God desires from us. We leave churches because we feel a certain way rather than because God is actually calling us to a new ministry to sacrificially serve Him. We read the holy words of God for a momentary emotional boost rather than for the eternal truths that transform our lives. Our Christianity has become like a brown paper bag full of cheap wrapped candy, if we suck on a piece of it and do not like the taste we spit it out on the ground and look for another piece in the bag we can enjoy. Tragically, we are suffering the consequences of our ungodliness. We readily pat ourselves on the back for our momentary ministry minutes while the world and our nation goes to hell. We ignore the rampant hedonism of our lives with excuses and conceited platitudes about the love of God. I believe the time has come for “true worshippers” to worship God in “spirit and in truth”, not from our emotional consumerism and selfishly defined reality. Makes one wonder…

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Worship: Going through the motions! – Genesis 4:3-7; Leviticus 10:1-2; Matthew 15:7-9

Worship: Going through the motions! – Genesis 4:3-7; Leviticus 10:1-2; Matthew 15:7-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 17, 2013 AM

Last week, we talked about worship being God’s idea. I heard a story concerning a pastor and his first Sunday in a new church presenting the children’s message. It seems the sanctuary in the new church had some magnificent stained glass windows, so his message centered on how each of us is called to help make up the whole picture of life (the life of the community of the faithful). Like the pictures in the windows, it takes many little panels of glass to make the whole picture. And then he said, “You see each one of you is a little pane.” And then pointing to each child, “You’re a little pane. And you’re a little pane. And you’re a little pane. And…” It took a few moments before he realized why everyone was laughing so hard. Sometimes, we don’t realize that we are just going through the motions.

Our worship can be like that as well. We can simply show up and go through the motions. There are churches and believers who go through the motions of worship every Sunday and then head home wondering why their worship wasn’t what they thought it should have been. Far too many believers and churches are simply copying what they have erroneously learned about worship. They are simply going the through the motions of worship. This morning, let’s discover the way God desires us to worship by looking at how we can be simply going through the motions…

READ: Genesis 4:3-7; Leviticus 10:1-2; Matthew 15:7-9

We find two young men who seem to both worship God in the same way, but one was simply going through the motions of worship. We are simply going through the motions of worship…

I. When we don’t give God our best! (Genesis 4:3-7)
In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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.” (Genesis 4:3-7 NIV)
1. “In the course of time” both of these men brought to God the outcome of their lives. “Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.” However, “Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” Did you notice the difference? No, it wasn’t that one was focused on fruit! Contrary to what some folks believe, God does not mind what you eat; rather He is more concerned with what comes out of your mouth! Your actions will reveal the intent of your heart! Adam and Eve had sinned, been thrown out of the Garden of Eden and were now raising two boys. They both brought an offering to the Lord. “The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favor.” Why, what occurred here? Notice that a period of time had passed and also notice that “Abel brought fat portions” of the “firstborn of his flock” while Cain just brought “some of the fruits of the soil.” Do you detect the difference? God looked with favor on the offering that was given with the best intent from the best the individual had, while the offering that was kind of just slapped together at the last moment, “he did not look with favor.” “So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” God knows when we don’t give Him our best. God confronts Cain and his second-rate worship: “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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.” Cain knew his offering was not given with the best intentions that it had been given halfheartedly. And isn’t this perhaps the very reason why so much worship in our day and age is seen by God as kind of second-rate? Like Cain, we are simply going through the motions of worship when we do not give God our best!
EXAMPLE: The other day I cleaned out or refrigerator and I discovered that there were some hidden “secrets” in the back of the fridge. You know what I mean; those science experiments that you did not know you had begun but are now in full bloom. I soon discovered also that you cannot clean some of the containers, you have to throw them out or they stink! Our worship can become leftovers as well and it also begins to stink to high heaven! The solution is to get rid of anything that hinders our worship. Not to do so is sin. Sin crouches at our door when we give God the leftovers of our life. We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do not give God our best!

God has given us His instructions to love Him completely and others, as we love ourselves. However, we often neglect one or the other or both! We learn in the following passage that we are simply going through the motions of worship…

II. When we do our own thing! (Leviticus 10:1-2)
Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. (Leviticus 10:1-2 NIV)
1. We can forget that when we worship we are entering the very presence of God. Certainly, when we come to Christ we are covered by the blood of the Lamb and His grace is completely sufficient. However, we should never forget that God told Moses, “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” (v. 3) on the very first day of his high priestly ministry, Aaron had to face the tragic deaths of his two eldest sons. What occurred is that “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command.” They thought they could do what they pleased as they entered the presence of God. There are always consequences when we do our own thing, whether good or bad, we reap what we have sown. “So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Perhaps this is what today’s church suffers from. There are those who think they can take spiritual short cuts to worship God. They tacitly think God will not care if they offer “unauthorized fire before the Lord,” manufactured or otherwise! How often do we approach God without any honor at all, and then is it any wonder that the rest of the world does not see the church as a viable option? When God’s people do not honor, worship, according to His commands our worship is invalid. In fact, at best, it is manufactured! One of the teachers of the law came and asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus told him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The teacher of the Law responded, “You are right… To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength… is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Matthew 12:28-34 NIV) Aaron’s sons, like some believers do, forget whom they are to love, worship, completely. We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do our own thing!
EXAMPLE: We live in a society that thinks every moment of our lives should be lived in doing whatever we want to do whenever we want to and however we want to do it! This is not only extremely narcissistic but it is also extremely spiritually myopic. Church has become about us instead of the body of Christ where we are supposed to serve even if means unto death! If we are unwilling to, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21 NIV) how can we worship God? We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do our own thing!

Nothing is worse than discovering that those who say they care about us don’t. We call it being two-faced. In the next passage, we discover that we are simply going through the motions of worship…

III. When our hearts are far away from God! (Matthew 15:7-9)
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:7-9 NIV)
1. “News of Jesus’ teaching and His mighty acts had spread throughout the land. The officials in Jerusalem were aware of all Jesus was doing, for a delegation arrived in Galilee from Jerusalem to interrogate Jesus over a matter of Jewish tradition. Their attack was directed against Jesus’ disciples, who were accused of failing to observe the elders’ tradition of the ceremonial washing of hands before eating.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) They thought of themselves as righteous because they followed the law; however, they had dishonored the fifth command to honor their parents by the use “Corban.” Jesus related, “But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.”(Mark 7:11-12 NIV) In fact, Jesus accused them of nullifying the “word of God”! Jesus bluntly tells them, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’” Their hearts were so far away from God, they could not even see their own phoniness. How could those who thought of themselves as righteous worship God when they in fact were hypocritical about how they treated their parents! There are those in our day who treat their brothers and sisters in Christ with disdain, they treat their church with contempt, and their walk with God is just lip service. God told Isaiah, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Their religion had become a matter of man-made rules! We may think as evangelical Baptists we do not have man-made rules, but we do. When we allow our ungodly attitudes, actions, or man-made traditions to interfere with our worship, we cannot worship! In fact, we are simply going through the motions of worship when our hearts are far away from God!
EXAMPLE: Paul knew the importance of true worship. He understood that it is based on the purity of one’s life in Christ. This is why after teaching the Ephesians about the importance of the church in the life of a believer, he writes, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” (Ephesians 4:17-21 NIV) We are simply going through the motions of worship when our hearts are far away from God!

Conclusion:
We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do not give God our best!
We are simply going through the motions of worship when we do our own thing!
We are simply going through the motions of worship when our hearts are far away from God!

This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Courage triumphs with truth and justice! — Esther 7

Courage triumphs with truth and justice! — Esther 7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 19, 2013 AM

Esther had invited King Xerxes to bring Haman and attend a special banquet she had prepared. Haman’s status appeared to be secure. This new development seemed to reinforce his reputation. Haman must have thought only the king rivaled him in power and prestige. Haman’s morale had soared. Then, he encountered Mordecai, who “didn’t rise or tremble in fear at his presence” (v. 9). Mordecai remained seated. When Haman told his wife and friends what occurred, they advised him to build a gallows 75 feet high on which to hang Mordecai. He did so and that night Haman slept soundly, secure in his plans to bring about the demise of Mordecai and in his elevated status.

In contrast, King Xerxes was restless. Seeking reprieve from his insomnia, he requested his servants read to him from his chronicles; and was reminded how Mordecai had exposed a plot to assassinate him. Xerxes sought Haman’s counsel. Ironically, Haman thought he would receive the honor and greedily suggested the honoree be dressed in the king’s garment, placed on the king’s horse, and paraded through the king’s city while a member of the king’s court proclaimed the individual’s praises. Betrayed by his conceit and humiliated, Haman was forced personally to lead Mordecai throughout the city of Susa Haman was summoned to the queen’s second banquet before he could recover. There matters would only grow worse. In what transpires next, we discover that courage triumphs with truth and justice! Let’s discover how…

READ: Esther 7

In the past several days, we have learned of the IRS being used as a means of intimidation; that the American people were lied to about what occurred in Libya and the murder of our Ambassador; and how the Administration tapped the phones and emails of the press without their knowledge. My father used to say, “You can always tell when a politician is lying, when their lips are moving.” Things sure have not changed much since Esther’s time, have they? However, we discover that…

I. The truth will set you free! (Vv. 1-6)

1. The writer noted the king was drinking. While the alcohol content of wine in the ancient world was much less, than in today’s wine, nonetheless intoxication was common. Alcohol causes the portion of the brain that determines appropriate conduct to function improperly. Hence, a self-absorbed and powerful individual like Xerxes might be uninhibited. Whether he wished to impress Esther with his greatness or to please her with his love is irrelevant. At that moment, he was willing to listen to any report she made and give her anything she asked. God had orchestrated the moment. The honor paid Mordecai earlier that day, indicated to Esther this was the right time to speak. So without hesitation Esther spoke, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.” Her request shows the courtesy typical of oriental protocol and it also links the queen’s request to the king’s promise. Esther is tacitly reminding the King that three times in two days Xerxes had promised to give her “even to half the kingdom.” What she said next must have stunned him, “For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” Haman must have realized the implications of Esther’s response! Esther revealed that she and all her people had been marked for death. She quotes from his edict but is careful in choosing her words. She avoided the origin of the edict, Xerxes’ rash promise to Haman, and focused instead on its consequences. Her words imply betrayal. The king had been deceived. The king is enraged. Any plot that involved killing his wife was a personal affront to the king. And he was angry over being duped. Since Esther had not yet mentioned the Jews, the king did not realize she was referring to Haman. So he asked the obvious question, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” Esther truthfully answers, “The adversary and enemy, is this vile Haman.” Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The truth will set you free!

EXAMPLE: “Just tell the truth,” my father would remind us, “and you will not be in as much trouble as if you lie to me.” Telling the truth was extremely important to my Dad. Henry David Thoreau said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” Imagine the difference it would make in our world if that theme were heard as often as those catchy and memorable advertising jingles. Truth is essential to all our interactions, from the halls of government, the classroom, the workplace, or the home. My father understood that truth-telling builds trust. It has been said, “If you tell a lie about one thing, it will be tough to believe you about anything.” God is truth and this is why He told His disciples, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV) Haman could not handle the truth, but Esther and Mordecai would quickly realize the truth will set you free!

David would correctly deduce, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalms 20:7 NIV) Haman learned too late to not trust in his own schemes. In fact, Haman’s scheme would be his death. Esther and Mordecai learn that…

II. Justice comes to those who trust in God! (Vv. 7-10)

1. The king becomes enraged, “left his wine and went out into the palace garden.” However, “Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.” Haman is true to his character to the end, he begs like the dog he is. His begging comes to no good because “Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, ‘Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?’ As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.” This means as soon as the king spoke an angry word they covered Haman’s head, as a condemned man, not worthy any more either to see the king or to be seen by him; they marked him for execution. On learning of Haman’s treachery by “Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king”, the king commanded that Haman be hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. While the height of the gallows (75 feet) may seem exaggerated, it was consistent with Haman’s vanity. Or it may imply the gallows were erected on a high hill. Either way, the gallows was certainly intended to show everyone in the community that Haman had destroyed the person who dared to humiliate him. Ironically, Haman would die on the gallows and the community would know the Lord had destroyed the person who dared to try to destroy His people. Xerxes had heard enough. He ordered the immediate execution of Haman. His death was poetic justice, dying on the gallows built for Mordecai’s death. An object Haman erected to show his power and prestige disclosed his absolute lack of both. This decision to put him to death alleviated the king’s personal anger. But it did not grant Esther’s request or desire. The edict to rid the empire of the Jews remained in effect. Yet, it proves that justice comes to those who trust in God!

EXAMPLE: David McCasland writes, “In our life of faith, our resources can become the enemy of trust. God wants us to depend on Him, not our own strength, whether physical, financial, or intellectual.” Haman absolutely trusted in himself, in what he could do, and in his wealth. There are those in our world that believe that their life should be built on trusting in education, in their wealth, or in their fame, but ultimately we need to realize God desires that we depend totally on Him alone. We cannot say we believe in God and trust in other things instead of Him. He calls it idolatry. Haman would learn too late that justice comes to those who trust in God!

Conclusion:

The truth will set you free and justice comes to those who trust in God!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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