Summary: This sermon was part of a series I preached on Nehemiah’s one holy passion, the glory of God.
One Holy Passion
May 6, 2001
“Christians: Party Animals?”
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished for every good work.” From II Timothy 3:16, this is a cardinal treatise on the nature and the profitable character of the Word of God. As we saw last week, the people of Jerusalem, having participated in the miracle of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in a scant 52 days, now had called for the Word of God to be read to them. They stood to hear it proclaimed, and they listened attentively, because the Bible is meant to be understood. It holds no value as a good luck charm or as one ceremonial part of some religious ritual. When we come to the Word of God, we must come willing to be taught its truths by the Holy Spirit, for it is in our understanding of the Word of God that God can use it in our lives and mold us into the people He wants us to become. Don’t kid yourself: any growth you think you experience in your walk with God must of necessity have some linkage to His truth. As I’ll talk about in a few moments, this introspective, New Age, navel-gazing, experience-oriented brand of pseudo-spirituality is a bogus counterfeit of the real thing. Over and over again the witness of the Bible is that it is the truth that sets us free; that faith comes by hearing the Word of God; that it is the renewing of our minds that transforms us. We are reminded that we can walk clean before God by taking heed to His Word; that hiding His Word in our hearts is what enables us to live with less sin in our lives. We are told that it is the Word of God which is the Sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weaponry in the portfolio of our armor. We are told that it is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, that it cuts through all of the nonsense and pretense that we throw up as a façade to hide the real “us”. We established last week that when real revival breaks out among a people, the Word of God is central. The Word of God must judge our experiences, and not the other way around, and excuse me for saying this, but there have been reports of some “revivals” recently around North America that are at the very least highly suspect to my understanding because some of the leading proponents of these seem to be more enthralled with the experience of the thing than with the solid, contextual teaching of the Word of God!
Now we said last week that worship involves a response to God—we cannot imagine that we have pleased God simply by dutifully putting in our time on Sunday morning. You’ve not worshipped today unless/until you have contemplated the glory of Who God is and then fashioned a Biblically obedient response to His glory and His awesome greatness. You might have sung; you might have given a whopping amount in the offering plate; you might even be listening. But until you have responded in some way to a right understanding of Who God is, you have not worshipped God—because remember, Jesus said we must worship in spirit and in truth! These people in Jerusalem were responding to what the Law showed them was true. Today, I want to talk further about the proper response to the holiness of God—and answer the question of whether or not God calls Christians to be…party animals!
Stand with me as we read God’s Word today!
The circle of life...in the Lord!
Harry Chapin was a folk singer best known for his epic “Cat’s in the Cradle”, which told the story of the maturing of a little boy whose daddy had little time for him into a man who had little time for his father when the father got older. It’s the kind of song that just puts a lump in your throat—and the other night, when I put this message together, I thought of my own children: one will be old enough to drive by this time next year. My second is not the little boy I remember being born so wide-eyed into this world over 11 years ago. My beautiful little girl is now in kindergarten.
When I was in college, a roommate of mine had an old 45 of Harry Chapin, with Cat’s in the Cradle, another song named 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, and a few others. Thinking of it a few weeks ago and reminiscing back to college days, I decided to try to pick it up, and sure enough, I found it online for just a few bucks and picked it up; it’s speeding its way to me even as we speak. One song I remember, a quiet song, said, “All my life’s a circle”. A few years ago, this theme was repeated, albeit with a little different emphasis, in the Disney feature, The Lion King. “The Circle of Life”, the song was called. I want you today to notice the circle of life—in the Lord. We see it in these verses from Nehemiah 8.