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The righteous person! – Psalm 1

The righteous person! – Psalm 1
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 18, 2017

Many base their entire lives on their feelings. Emotionalism will get one into trouble if it isn’t tempered by rationality. The one thing my Dad taught me was to rationally think things through, whether it was fixing something, doing a job, or my school work. Sadly, much of the church today is influenced irrationality. Colleges, the media, and politicians have all sold their souls on the altar of selfish emotionalism. Morality is often dictated by how it makes someone feel so personal sin is regarded in the same way. The Psalmist teaches us that the righteous person does not live their life this way.

The Christian is to live their life by their faith in Jesus and his teachings not their feelings or how we think he might have felt. Feeling good or bad about something does not make it righteous. Believers are to live holy lives. Our foundation is not in people, feelings, or what makes us happy for the moment. Holiness is found in walking with God; let’s discover what the Psalmist teaches about the righteous person…

READ: Psalm 1

Society’s attitude about contentment has changed a lot in the past several thousand years or so since this Psalm was written, however, the basic have not changed much. We still want food and water, shelter and safety. Yet there is more to life and the believer is taught that…

I. The righteous person finds satisfaction in God! (Vv. 1-2)

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

1. Right away the writer of this Psalm establishes how the righteous person is to live their lives: “Blessed” or happy “is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Notice the progression. First we find our happiness not in people, places, or things; the believer finds all they need in God alone! So much so they will “not walk in the counsel of the wicked”. In other words they would never give any credence to ungodly notions that are counter to the Word of God. The wicked world’s advice has nothing of value the righteous person should consider. The righteous person also will not “stand in the way of sinners”. The meaning does not mean that they would block a sinner’s way but rather it means the righteous person will not stand with those who like to sin or who live in sin! In fact ungodliness would be abhorrent to them. And finally the righteous person does not “sit in the seat of mockers”. Jude says that these kinds of scoffers or scorners “are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 1:4 NIV) Each expression becomes more intense and signifies a progression from a casual influence of ungodly people to complete collusion with them in their scorn against God and his righteous people! Rather the righteous person’s “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night”! Instead of joining in or trying to be liked by the ungodly world the righteous person finds their inner and outer joy in God’s ways and in fact thinks about and meditates on it as he walks with his Lord moment by moment! Jesus taught that “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21 NIV) The righteous person finds satisfaction in God!

EXAMPLE: When we are younger we wanted to please those who were in charge of us like parents, coaches, or teachers. We found satisfaction in achieving goals and gaining the approval of those I mentioned. One of the harshest things for young people to hear is if those they hold in high esteem are disappointed in them. I still remember when my father told me he was disappointed in me after I had promised to work in the yard for my mom but went and played instead. The Psalmist wrote that the righteous person finds satisfaction in God!

In order to live a life that is full and truly free one must have a good foundation in which to base their life on. Like a strong tree that can weather any storm…

II. The righteous person has deep roots of faith! (Vv. 3-4)

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

1. Paul wrote that the believer’s “faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5 NIV); that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23 NIV); and the writer of Hebrews reminds us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) Why is this truth important to understand? Simply because we have either forgotten what faith is or we do not practice it as we should! Faith is not some kind of wishful thinking or hoping. Faith is based on a certainty, biblical truth and spiritual foundation. The writer of this Psalm understood this and wrote that the person with faith “is like a tree planted by streams of water”. The idea conveyed is one of being firmly rooted in a place whereby the person receives their spiritual sustenance from the living flow of God alone! The Hebrews rightly knew that a flowing stream was healthier to drink from in that day than stagnant pools of standing water. In fact the writer noted that a deeply rooted fruit tree would yield “its fruit in season”. This was also important to them because a tree that produced good healthy fruit was important for daily survival; one could dry its fruit for future use as well. I am reminded of when Jesus went to a certain fig tree wanting to find fruit and found that it had none so he cursed it and it never bore fruit again! (Matthew 21:19) The well watered tree “whose leaf never withers” is blessed and produces in season what it is supposed to just as those who remain in the living stream of God. In fact “Whatever he does prospers.” Yet, we learn: “Not so the wicked!” Those who are easily influenced by the ungodly world wither in their faith and blow away at the latest politically correct notion. “They are like chaff that the wind blows away.” They soon leave their church, their Christian friends, and blow away like dried up spiritually worthless husks! However, the righteous person has deep roots of faith!

EXAMPLE: We live in a society that seeks to find deep happiness in the moment. This is impossible no matter how many Hallmark made for TV movies we watch. Life is more than pithy sayings found on greeting cards or Facebook re-postings. Interestingly recent statistics show that more and more couples are opting for marriage rather than living together. Many have discovered that a lasting relationship begins with trust which begins when you are willing to say “I do” without reservation and mean it. Even though my father was critically ill we kids knew he loved my mother more than anything. The righteous person has deep roots of faith!

Some go through life as if it were some kind of personal game not thinking or caring there are consequences for their actions. There is an outcome in life in making either good choices or bad ones and the Psalmist finishes his thoughts by relating that…

III. The righteous person is sheltered by the Lord! (Vv. 5-6)

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

1. The prophet Job would ask, “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger? How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale?” (Job 21:17-18 NIV) The answer to Job’s question was every time unless they repent of their sin and walk with God. John the Baptist warned that the Messiah (Jesus) would baptize believers “with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12 NIV) Jesus also explained that the kingdom of heaven was like a net full of fish where the good ones were separated from the bad and that “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:49-50 NIV) Jesus taught over and over there were serious consequences for rejecting him as the Messiah. In fact Jesus would declare, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18 NIV) The Psalmist wrote, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” The righteous person will be rewarded. Jesus taught that one day the Lord will stand in front of all mankind and only some will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness… For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Matthew 25:23, 29 NIV) Jesus knew the reciprocity, the relationship, between God and mankind. “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” The righteous person is sheltered by the Lord!

EXAMPLE: The other day it poured rain and as I looked out our living room window I noticed that three squirrels and quite few different birds found refuge during the downpour. The maple tree in our front yard works as a great natural canopy protecting whatever is under it from the hot sun or spring rains. My father’s arms felt the same way when I was little. When things got bad he would put his hand on my shoulder or wrap his arms around me and I would feel safe. The Psalmist describes for us that the righteous person is sheltered by the Lord!

Conclusion:

The righteous person finds satisfaction in God! The righteous person has deep roots of faith! The righteous person is sheltered by the Lord!
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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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Walk in love! – Ephesians 5:1-21

Walk in love! – Ephesians 5:1-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 12, 2017

In 1993 there was a movie based on the life of the singer Tina Turner that used the title of her hit song “What’s Love Got to do With It”. The song deals with the confusion a person has between physical and emotional love. For her it is only a “second hand emotion” that is “a sweet old fashioned notion”. People have confused emotional love and sexual lust for centuries.

Biblical love has been misinterpreted for generations as well. In fact there are those in our day and age who think that while God is love and that he so loved the world then he loves everyone equally the same. I hate to burst your politically correct bubbles but this is simply not true. When John taught that since God loved us then we should live in his love he did not mean some emotional state or an acceptance of ungodly sin. God’s love is sacrificial and we are to walk in that kind of love.

READ: Ephesians 5:1-21

God sacrificially loved us so much that he came as Jesus to die for our sinful condition. Because of our willingness to accept his sacrificial love we must be willing to live in the same kind of sacrificial love ourselves.

I. We must emulate God’s love! (Vv. 1-7)

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

1. We live in a world where there is a complete misconception concerning what the love of God is all about. If you have believed in Christ you will be changed by his sacrificial love for you, period. If that change is not displayed in your life, then there is something drastically wrong. Paul bluntly writes, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love”. Sacrifice is to be part and parcel of the believer’s life as God’s children. In fact Christians are to live such sacrificially focused lives “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”! We are to set aside the ungodly sinful desires we had before because “among” God’s children “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” In a society where every song, every movie, TV show, commercial, and way of life is saturated with an ungodly and unhealthy view of what real love is this can seem impossible! But a child of God is spiritually changed and that change should affect every aspect of their life. And as God’s holy people there should not be any “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving”! Paul understood that there should be a change; he had experienced it for himself! This is why he continues that “of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” When someone tries to fool you into thinking he or she is saved when in fact they are not they are dishonest, dirty, and or grasping self-indulgent narcissists and they have no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”!  When one claims the sacrifice of Jesus they are being deceptive and their words mean nothing and God’s wrath remains on them because of their disobedience. Paul says, “Therefore, do not be partners with them.” We must emulate God’s love!

EXAMPLE: I can tell when my granddaughter needs her diaper changed. She can smile, giggle, and make like there is no need but just one whiff and you know she needs to be changed. And like a dirty diaper on a baby you can tell by the smell if a person is truly saved or not by the way they live their lives for the Lord. When we allow the ungodly world to dictate to us what the love of God is we become partners with the world, instead we are to be “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” just like Jesus. We must emulate God’s love!

When we live in God’s love we are changed from our sinful condition and brought into a new life. Therefore Paul writes that…

II. We are to live in the light of God’s love! (Vv. 8-14)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

1. Just because we come to faith in Christ does not mean we are instantly changed in our attitudes or actions. Old habits die hard but die they must. We may ask, “Why?” Paul explains that it is simply because “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Light has always been seen as a means to disclose what lurks in the dark corners; including in a person’s life! When the light of the Holy Spirit shines in the sin-darkened life of the individual all of our ungodliness is exposed. God’s children are to “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)”! But more than that we are to “find out what pleases the Lord”! Paul would ask the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV) Christians are to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather (as God’s children we are to) expose them” for what they truly are. We have forgotten that “it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” Yet we watch it, read about it, talk about it, and sing about it all the time! Rather than being disgusted with people’s ungodly behavior we make their filthy lives into mainstream media hits! Is it any wonder that while the world has accepted wholeheartedly ungodly lifestyles and behavior that they hate anyone who lives for God? Paul explains it is because “everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.” The Christian church has become dazed and mesmerized by the perversion of the world. Paul writes, “This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” We are to live in the light of God’s love!

EXAMPLE: My mother could not believe what we had been up to, however, she could smell it and see for herself. She demanded, “You tell me right now what you were doing today!” We had been having cow chip fights. Cow chips are cow manure that has been hardened by the heat of the sun and you can throw them like Frisbees. Some were still kind of soft in the center, thus the smell and such. She vehemently told us, “That is disgusting! Why would you do such a thing? You boys are to never ever do that again, do you hear me?” I wonder how God views people who claim Christ but are willing to accept the ungodliness of the world. While believers are called not to participate in the filthy sin of a degenerate world, we are not to judge it; that duty is reserved for God alone. However, we are not to encourage or participate in the filth either! We are to live in the light of God’s love!

We have discovered that the love of God is more than an emotional state of being. His love is active and sacrificial. Paul continued to teach then that…

III. We are to make the most of God’s love! (Vv. 15-21)

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

1. The world is no longer wise in what it accepts and does. Wisdom does not come from accepting anyone or anything that feels good or looks good. Wisdom weighs the final result and works toward the best possible outcome. This is why Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” We have forgotten that we live in “evil” days. Paul was not fooled by the things of the world, he knew that every day is evil until the Lord returns, so he continued by writing “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Sadly it seems as if fewer Christians try to understand what the Lord’s will is. He desires that we be his body in the world sharing the good news of Jesus! Instead we focus on what makes us happy for the moment. Paul knew this would happen when we forget about how we are to live in love! He tells them, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” “Debauchery” is an old fashioned word that means utter depravity and the corruption of personal norms of decency and morality. Our world sees booze and drugs as a means to get high in order to have a moment of happiness. However, “Instead, (we are to) be filled with the Spirit.” When we are filled with the Spirit it will be evident in our lives and we will “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” The idea is where the focus of our life is to be; either on the ungodly world or the holy things of God. Spirit-filled folks will “Sing and make music in (their) heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In fact our lives will be lived in how we “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We are to make the most of God’s love!

EXAMPLE: The complete acceptance of getting drunk or using pot has now infested the Christian church to its utter shame and disgrace. We make excuses in how we should be just like the world in our drunkenness or our pot usage. The shear immature impudence expressed is not just disheartening it is mindboggling in its audacity. Just because everyone is doing it, it makes us feel better for a time, or that we all did it at one time is no excuse. We all have sinned so does that mean we should continue to do so? God forbid! Believers are to try to mature in their faith. We are called to be holy; Christians are to be like Christ! We are to make the most of God’s love!

Conclusion:

We must emulate God’s love! We are to live in the light of God’s love! We are to make the most of God’s love!
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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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What America needs now is: You!

What America needs now is: You!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 25, 2016

A clear and perfect example that America’s Christians are losing the battle of the soul is seen in the acceptance and embracing of younger generations to ungodly ideals of homosexuality, abortion, legalized drugs, alcoholic pleasure, and sexual relations out of marriage, adultery and pornography. However the other side of the coin is also seen in the outcome of decades of lousy preaching, shallow spiritual teaching, and the acquiescence of Christian parents to train their children in the way they should go. “The chickens have come home to roost.” Nothing occurs in a vacuum and the air has been sucked out of the spiritual construct of letting minors decide for themselves what they will eventually believe spiritually. Make no mistake we are reaping what we have sown and we have sowed very little spiritually into the minds and hearts of future generations. What was once seen as abominable, a few decades ago, many believers today are touting as the new Christian ideal for the modern era. I find it almost laughable that there are those who sanctimoniously say they cannot vote for a certain candidate because it isn’t what Jesus would do and yet project in their lives a failure to follow him by willingly submitting themselves, or their bodies, to the world’s notion of acceptance through what they wear, what they read or watch, and what they do to their own carcasses.

What is the answer? Certainly not rolling over like our dead dog Rover by going further into the darkness of sin. It is time those of us who have spiritual backbones to speak boldly and bluntly to not only the issues of the day, but to actually preach the “negative” aspects of spiritual neglect. You know, the entire Bible even the Old Testament. And not some hyped up notion of trying to massage a new form of legalism but where the New Covenant is far superior to the old because it was completely fulfilled through Jesus! We must preach the straight forward message that if one does not chose Jesus one will suffer the eternal consequences of their stupidity. Instead of watching for signs of our Messiah’s return we would do well to be about his business instead. Following the latest mega chart of some hapless hipster of the last befuddled “daze” we should realize we have been living in those days ever since Jesus ascended home! We must return to the spiritual truth that holiness is not felt but worked out in faith and that if the believer does not walk with Jesus daily one will drift away into the spiritual oblivion of compromise. (Kind of like the church has.)

Scripture is not our personal handbook to pull out in order to feel good about our temporal relationships, natural eating habits, marriages, parenting skills or for that Facebook pithy Pinterest Tweet of the day. It isn’t the Hello Kitty meme of the moment. Scripture is a message from God to a waiting sin-sick world in need of a spiritual cure that only God can provide through Jesus!

Following Jesus is not something you put on when it feels good to you like a good pair of warm jeans out of the dryer. When you decided to follow Jesus you decided to live for him alone; and that included everything that goes with it. He sacrificed it all for you and when you turn your life over to him you are sacrificing your all to follow him! It can personally pinch. Just as there is no crying in baseball, there is no turning back in Christianity! Stop whining that life is not fair for you or that you are not having fun; faith is found in trust and joy is discovered moment by moment as you decide to let go of your pathetic life and follow him alone.

Return to him because he has always been there for you. It is time America’s Christians to live like Jesus not just in word or feeling but in life. You are the leaven that will give rise to the truth; you are the light of a darkened world and you should not hide under the bed any longer. What America needs now is: You!

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Commitment: A path to fulfillment! – Micah 7:1-7, 18-20

Commitment: A path to fulfillment! – Micah 7:1-7, 18-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 14, 2013 AM

“Jim” is a committed Christian who works in a large real estate office. He has been reprimanded more than once by management for being “too candid” about problems with the properties, he shows. Most of Jim’s fellow workers either are not Christians or are spiritually shallow. He does not join their conversations about movies because they usually discuss movies he avoids due to their content. He is not invited nor does he want to join them after work at the local bar. Because of his commitment to Christ, he feels lonely and isolated in this ungodly environment. Jim shared his frustrations with his pastor, who suggested he join a men’s support group that met each week for encouragement. Jim agreed and there he found other men who shared his frustration at their places of work.

Does anything in your work environment cause you difficulty as a Christian? If so, how do you handle it? Christians increasingly find themselves living and working in an ungodly and immoral culture. Government, educational institutions, and media do not support a Christian worldview. Some Christians surrender to the temptation to compromise their faith in order to advance or just get along with their unspiritual companions. Others make a conscious decision to live faithfully for Christ no matter what the cost financially or socially. In today’s passage, Micah gives us an apt description of being a godly man in an ungodly culture. Micah succeeded in resisting the temptations of his day, and through commitment to the Lord, he was effective in the ministry God called him to accomplish Let’s discover how Micah could remain committed to God in an ungodly world.

READ: Micah 7:1-7, 18-20

Micah lamented the increase in wickedness in his culture. The numbers of people disobedient to the Lord increased and the magnitude of their sins increased. Micah described a society growing more and more violent. People treated one another as animals of prey. The prophet also lamented the lack of order in society and the corruption of officials who failed to uphold justice. Micah found a path to fulfillment in a…

I. Depressing Culture (Mic. 7:1-6)

1. Micah laments, “What misery is mine! I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave.” Micah expressed his personal experience as a godly prophet living in a nation that had turned away from God. He knew that “The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net.” Fellowship and friendship are based on shared values. Micah’s commitment to the Lord isolated him from the disobedient citizens of Judah where he lived. They would not repent and join him in obeying the Lord, and he would not compromise his loyalty to God and join them. Micah, like many godly individuals in a corrupt society, lived a lonely and isolated life. Micah described a violent society where the wicked preyed on the helpless like animals. Their sins were premeditated as they waited in ambush to shed blood. They used deception to catch their unwary victims. The word for net refers to a device used by hunters. Wicked predators lured victims with temptations and false promises that appealed to the sinful nature. He confessed, “The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion.” Micah even related that they should not “trust a neighbor” or to “put no confidence in a friend.” Even families could not be trusted, “For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.” The breakdown of morals in society inevitably leads to a breakdown of order in the family and vice-versa. Each feeds on the other in a vicious cycle. Wow! What a totally depressing culture!

EXAMPLE: Micah’s description of his culture reflects the current direction and characteristics of our own society. For example, many in the secular academic world promote theories or philosophies opposed to biblical precepts. Many in secular entertainment continue to challenge biblical authority and truth through glorification of sin and depravity. When unsaved and unspiritual people control the culture, virtues are despised and vices are praised. Godly Christians increasingly are isolated and criticized for their convictions concerning these and other important issues of today. Christians also face personal morality issues in the world of business. Abstaining from alcohol amid its widespread use for entertaining and socialization is certainly one challenge. Also, Christians are sometimes pressured to participate in immoral conversations or acts by others. The pressure to get along with others can wear down even faithful believers. Christians today need to realize the pressure they feel from the world to compromise their convictions is not new. Godly men and women have faced similar temptations throughout history. We are facing an old challenge that Jesus warned us about. He told us a world that hated Him also would hate us (John 15:18). We must be careful to follow His command to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:15-16) We can find fulfillment in a depressing culture when we follow God!

Micah also condemned religious leaders who failed to act as watchmen and warn the people of the coming judgment from God. Selfishness and sin destroyed the natural affections of friends and family. In fact, it was replaced by betrayal and conflict. Micah, however, pledged loyalty to God and obedience to His Word. He spoke as if the judgment on Judah already had occurred. He predicted not only God’s judgment but also a future restoration when the people would turn their hearts to repent and obey the Lord. Micah found a path to fulfillment by making a…

II. Determined Choice (Mic. 7:7)

1. “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,” Micah pronounced, “I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” In a depressing culture, Godly people “wait for God.” Faithful believers today can identify with Micah. He too faced cultural pressure and temptation to conform to low standards. “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,” signaled he would continue a course of faithfulness despite the moral defectors around him. Micah’s pledge of obedience to the Lord is similar to the statement by Joshua that he and his family would serve the Lord no matter what choices those in his audience made, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV) In the course of biblical and church history, many faithful saints have had to stand alone or with a small minority. The standards of political and religious leaders in Micah’s day had been lowered, but he did not follow them. He knew he was accountable to the Lord. The phrase “I wait for God my Savior” expresses Micah’s abiding faith and hope. Evil people were having their way for the moment, but the prophet knew their time of judgment was coming. God’s wrath would be on the wicked, but God would bring salvation to the righteous. The phrase “my God will hear me” reveals Micah was a man of intense and persistent prayer. He called on the Lord for strength and help in those difficult days. Micah determined to choose to follow God no matter what the world did.

EXAMPLE: Christians today face powerful pressures to conform to the evil practices of this world. As just noted, Christians in the business world are often asked to take actions that are either illegal or unethical. Also, Christian singles are tempted to stop waiting for a godly mate and settle for immoral behavior or an unspiritual spouse. Gambling, profanity, pornography, and greed are representative of the bait Satan often places in his traps for Christians. Paul urged believers to surrender their bodies as living sacrifices and warned that since they served God they were not to conform to the world (Romans 12:1-2). Faithful Christians today can take courage from heroes like Micah who stood firm in faith against the temptations of an ungodly society. We know the importance of church and Christian friendships. We should seek out others who will encourage us to stand firmly for God’s principles. We must be willing to do what is right, however, even if we stand alone in doing so. The choice is ours.
Micah concludes the chapter by calling on the Lord to shepherd the people of Israel. The prophet asked the Lord to deliver them as He had delivered the people from slavery in Egypt. Micah prophesied that the nations who opposed a regenerated Israel would be humbled and forced to submit to the Lord. Micah marveled at the grace of God in forgiving sinners and praised God for His faithfulness and loyal love for His people. In finding his path of fulfillment, Micah had a…

III. Distinct Confidence (Mic. 7:18-20)

1. Micah knew that when God returned and redeemed his people the nations that had subjugated them would “be ashamed, deprived of all their power. They will lay their hands on their mouths and their ears will become deaf.” In fact, “They will lick dust like a snake, like creatures that crawl on the ground.” Micah reminds his listeners that there was no God like his Lord. He related, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” Micah did not imply the Lord would not judge His nation. He knew a devastating punishment would come, but he also knew the Lord would forgive His people when they repented. The blessings of mercy and forgiveness would be experienced by the remnant of His inheritance. Micah praises God by stating, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” depicts God as a conquering Warrior who tramples our sins underfoot. We cannot defeat sin through our efforts. Only the Lord can destroy our sins and defeat Satan, who encourages us to sin. Only the Lord can give us power and victory over the sinful nature within all of us. Micah pictured the Lord taking our sins and casting them into the depths of the sea! Micah closed his prophecy with praise to the Lord for His loyalty and faithful love to Jacob and Abraham, who represented the nation that descended from them. “You will be true” literally refers to the attribute of truth and stability in God’s nature. The word translated “mercy” also emphasizes God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises. Together God’s loyalty and love provided the basis for Micah’s hope about the future. The prophet was confident the Lord would restore His people after the devastating judgment. Micah knew his own faithfulness would be rewarded because of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. Micah knew God to “be true to Jacob.” God had always shown “mercy to Abraham” because God had “pledged on oath to (their) fathers in days long ago.” In his path to fulfillment, Micah had confidence in his God!

EXAMPLE: Christians today have a more complete understanding than Micah did of God’s mercy and forgiveness. We know what God did in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus defeated Satan and makes possible the removal of our sins by God’s grace and through our faith. Wise Christians know the pleasures of this world are fleeting and that God will discipline believers who succumb to its temptations. We can live confidently knowing God will reward those who remain faithful. We know that Jesus Christ will return to bring all His people into His glorious kingdom that will never end. In our commitment to God our fulfillment comes from our confidence in Him!

Conclusion:
1. We can persevere in living for the Lord even though rampant violence, selfishness, greed, corruption, and disloyalty may depress us.
2. We can persevere in living for the Lord by choosing to wait patiently for His help.
3. We can persevere in living for the Lord by confidently and consistently praising Him for who He is and what He is doing.

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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Sin’s Acceptance Is No Excuse

Sin’s Acceptance Is No Excuse
by Pastor Lee Hemen
March 19, 2013

Last night on the ABC Nightly News, they reported that 80% of evangelical folks under the age of 30 believe that homosexual marriage is okay. Now while I am always suspicious of the liberal media and especially of any poll they do, let’s just suppose it is true. What does this statistic then tell us about modern day Christianity? Does it reflect our willingness to change our theology to fit our emotional weakness, like Rob Portman or wishy-washy parents who all of sudden find themselves the parents of homosexual progeny. They now have to excuse their child’s perversion because if they do not it might reflect on them as “good” and understanding politically correct parents. After all, if they were born that way then it couldn’t be anything I could have done in raising them that could have influenced them to be homosexual, right.

Here’s the problem however, the Bible teaches us we cannot and dare not change our theology to fit our emotional or political instability. This is exactly where the modern church is failing this generation and future generations. In fact, they are contributing to the demise of the Christian church and its influence. While 60% of America’s population indentifies itself as evangelical, fewer and fewer of these folks know what they believe and why. In fact, many are more than willing to appease themselves as being open-minded and politically correct rather than living by biblical principles.

By this convoluted thinking, anything goes and is okay as long as it makes the individual happier and satisfied for the moment. Christian singles have no problem morally or emotionally compromising their faith. Premarital sex, drinking alcohol, multiple piercings, studs, and tattoos meet their emotional need to be accepted, so it is perfectly fine for folks to acquiesce one’s faith for fancy.

This is why it has become easier and more acceptable to entertain the masses rather than train them. Sunday morning pep rallies have replaced vibrant theological teaching that challenges and changes society. We now have more mega-churches than ever before. In fact, while worship attendance is booming, spiritual societal change has busted. Churches now enjoy pounds of programs, myriads of ministries, and just about anything for anyone but they are not changing society with the gospel. We watched as large numbers of evangelicals voted for a President that supports murdering the unborn, redefining marriage and the enslavement of millions to governmental control simply because young Christian voters wanted to be seen as hip and in touch with their worldly peers.

For Christians to accept the inane statement of the likes of Hillary Clinton who said she wants everyone to enjoy the same love and devotion her daughter experienced at her wedding and therefore supports gay marriage is just plain morally and spiritually corrupt. One’s emotional love does not redefine God’s natural selection of one man and one woman definition of marriage. While my desire is for my children to experience love and devotion I will not relent on my Christian faith in order to make them or others feel better about themselves.

The Christian church needs to wake up and teach sound biblical theology even if it is not popular and stop wanting to be accepted by the world. We were never called to invite the wolves into the sheepfold and then accept them as one of our own. Instead, we were commanded by Jesus to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) It is time for the Christian church to change the world with the gospel rather than have the world change us with sin’s acceptance.

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 © 2012 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…

I was just wondering, how you view your friendships. You know what I mean, are they really friends or are you trying to gain acceptance? If you were to ask the one who died for you to protect you from your enemies, would you lose many of your friends? Perhaps the friends you keep are the ones you should lose. Would a friend ask you to acquiesce what you believe just so they can feel comfortable and accepted? Would a friend have you join them in their immorality so they could feel moral? Does the world have more in common with your friends than they do with him who created you? Makes one wonder…

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 © 2012 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…

I was just wondering, how do you vote? Does the hanging chad of the world interfere with your convictions or are you willing to stand for your faith? Have you voted for the one candidate that has already given you everything or do you believe the lies of the opponent? If you have not yet voted, why not? Your eternity and perhaps your nation hangs on how you cast your life’s ballot. The one candidate that matters the most died so you could vote and choose him, but the choice is yours. Makes one wonder why you have not yet voted…

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 © 2012 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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