Sermon by CH (CPT) Keith J. Andrews
All scriptures marked NKJV: The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
All scriptures marked NLT: Holy Bible: New Living Translation. 1997. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.
The last house I lived in was next to a great big cow pasture. On that cow pasture, right next to the road, and next to us, was a tall Victorian house. The house was old and warped. The paint had long since washed away. The house had been abandoned ten or twenty years before I arrived. The house was the location of a murder 60 years before, I visited it.
I often looked at that house and noticed that the people that tried to live there were faced with tragedy, until it was abandoned. It was an interesting piece of history. Its story is still found on the Union County Sheriff’s web site.
When I look at historical places, I like to think about the people who lived there. I ask about their story and how they lived. The people have a story to tell. The murder, by the way, was solved when the guilty party drank too much, 3 years later. Apparently, he had a story to tell.
As a Christian, you have a story to tell as well. And people around you are begging to hear it. They want to hear it in the form of actions. There are enough people claiming this and that—the people around you want to see if what you say is truly want you mean.
When I look at an old house, I asked who lived there. What type of people were they? What did they do each day? And on and on.
The world is asking the same questions about the people that spend an hour a week in chapel. Who are they? What do they do each day? How do they live?
I ran across the Bible’s answer to this question, in Psalm 15. Psalm 15 is found on page 486 of the red Bible under your chair. It seems to me that what God want us to be is the same thing the world expects from us.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill? (Ps. 15: 1, NKJV)
The New Living Translation translates the verse this way;
1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? (Ps. 15:1, NLT)
The Psalmist is asking the question; Who may go to the Lord’s house? Who may enter God’s presence for worship? What do they look like? Who are these people?
The first thing we find out about these people, are that they
1. Live blamelessly.
2 He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart; (Ps. 15: 2, NKJV)
The psalmist teaches us that we are to walk uprightly and work righteousness. We are to live blamelessly. We must understand that we are an example to all of those around us. People are constantly watching to see how we react, to see how we respond, to see if what we say we are is truly what we say we are.
Panasonic recently unveiled the biggest TV ever; 103 inches and 400 pounds of plasma entertainment. The monitor dimensions are 7.5 feet wide and 4.5 high. The newspaper says that you can easily mistake it for a movie screen. On it you can see every detail in the programming. Everything would be almost life size. (Stars and Stripes, 21 April 2006)
What if the TV was used to watch your life? What kind of detail would you alow to be seen, and what would it reveal about you?
In 1998, Jim Carrey starred in a wonderful movie called “The Truman Show”. This is probably the only Jim Carrey movie I have ever wanted to watch. The movie is about “An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a TV show.” (http://www.imdb.com) Every move he makes is televised on national television, from the time he is born until he breaks away and goes to Fiji. The audience sees his first steps and his graduation. The audience sees him get a job and the audience sees him realize that his whole life is on display.
What about your life? It is on display. Not every part of it, but many parts are seen by those around you. What does it look like to them? What kind of person comes to chapel every week? What do you look like to them?
This is not to say that we make mistakes. I like the phrase my pastor uses. “If I’ve never disappointed you, just wait around a little bit—I will sooner or later.” We all make mistakes…and in this area , I’m probably the worst offender—because I should know better. But, I’m not talking about the mistakes we make as we grow through life—I’m talking about a consistent reputation. Does it represent the qualities of a Christian? Are you blameless?
As we continue to look for the people that go to the Lord’s house we see that the Psalmist identifies them as people who
2. Watch their mouths.
Look at verse 3;
3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; (Ps. 15: 3, NKJV)
When I was little, I would hear my Mother say, “Watch your mouth!” This would typically be because I said something hazardous to my health. And the Psalmit here is saying the same thing. The people that attend church that claim to be the children of God are to watch their mouths. Throughout scripture, the Bible teaches us to control our tongue. We need to be reminded over and over to watch what we say an be carefull in how we say it.
19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.(Pr 10:19, NKJV).
We need to be wise in what we say, but I want you to look closer at verse three. This verse is not necessarily speaking about bad language or foolish talk. Verse three speaks about, as the New Living Translation says;
3 Those who refuse to slander others
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends. (Ps. 15: 3, NLT)
We live in a world that spins constantly about everybody else’s business. We enjoy hearing about Tom Cruise, Katy Holmes, Parris Hilton, or Brad Pitt. But it truly becomes dangerous when we get into the business of those in the next CHU down.
We need to be people that are not involved in these gossips. It is none of our business to know what is going on and it is especially none of our business to talk about it to others.
Is the information you are sharing with others, shared behind the backs of the person it is about? Is the information that you have acquired from the person or from your first hand accounts? We need to be careful to constantly watch our mouths.
The people who worshipped in the sanctuary were
4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; (Ps. 15: 4, NKJV)
Again from the New Living Translation, it reads;
4 Those who despise persistent sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the Lord
and keep their promises even when it hurts. (Ps. 15:4, NLT)
These people are faithful to the Lord at all times, even when it hurts. Sometimes it hurts to be faithful—to be the only one in a crowd to avoid the gossip and to live blamelessly.
I was reminded the other week of the faithful dog, Rin Tin Tin. Rin Tin Tin was a few days old when Corporal Lee Duncan insisted that his battalion in Lorraine, France check out a bombed war dog kennel during World War I. What he found was several dogs, including a puppy, in which he named Rinty. (www.rintintin.com) Rinty went on to make over 30 movies. On of which is mentioned in Anne Franks diary, in 1942.
This is what she said;
“…how wonderful it would be if I had a dog like Rin Tin Tin. I’d call him Rin Tin Tin too, and I’d take him to school with me, where he could stay in the janitor’s room or by the bicycle racks when the weather was good.” (The Diary of a Young Girl—Definitive Edition, June 14, 1942)
Rin Tin Tin was a faithful dog. If you owned him, or Lassie by the way, he would wait at the bike racks for you everyday during school. It is the picture of faithfulness. Nothing particularly flashy about it, simply consistent. We need to be just as consistent with our faithfulness. Nothing flashy, just continually, daily serving God in the ways in which we were called.
The people who the Psalmist describe as abiding in the tabernacle, or worshiping in the sanctuary were blameless, they watched their mouths, they were faithful, they also had
5 He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. (Ps. 15: 5a, NKJV)
At first glance, I looked at this verse and put down in my notes to talk about money. As I looked closer, I saw that this verse was not so much about using money wisely, but about having integrity.
We are not to be generous in our giving. As individuals, if we lend money, we are not to charge interest and hold that interest over another person. We are also not to be bought. We are to be people that can benefit from slandering another person. We are to have integrity.
In America’s colleges a new problem has evolved with the development of the internet.
A recent study by the Center for Academic Integrity found that 70 percent of college students admit to some sort of academic cheating. And 37 percent have used the Internet to plagiarize. (www.nbc30.com)
One instructor says;
"I think when it comes to the Internet, they don’t realize that copying from the Internet is the same thing as copying from a book,"
There is also the problem of file sharing and music piracy.
Two-thirds of Internet users who download music are unconcerned that they are violating copyright laws,…according to a new Pew Internet and American Life Project survey. A slightly smaller percentage (65%) of respondents who share files online (music or video) say they don’t care whether the files they swap are copyrighted or not. (www.applelinks.com)
If you didn’t buy it or if it wasn’t given as a gift, it is not your and that’s stealing. And I know there is a lot of it that goes on. You can make excuses about being in the desert, but if you are copying CDs, DVDs, or MP3s illegally, that’s stealing.
We need to be people with integrity. When you know something is wrong, don’t do it. Being a person of integrity is important to the people around you.
Thomas Paine once said; “Character is much easier kept than recovered.” (www.quotegarden.com) Character comes from integrity. Others see it around you.
We are talking about Radiance. Shining our lights into the world. We have seen, this evening, the Bible’s response to the question of what should we look like—those of us who go to chapel and claim to be followers of Christ.
We need to be people who are living blamelessly, watching our mouths, faithfull, and with integrity.
The last portion of verse five says;
He who does these things shall never be moved. (Ps. 15: 5b, NKJV)
Are you doing these things in your life? Or does the world see a person is on fire one day and cold the next? What kind of radiation are you giving off? We need to be people that never move—simply consistent. The world needs people who don’t move, they need people who are steady and trustworthy—people like you who can point them to the source of your hope.
Tonight, you may be needing hope in your life. You may look at your life and you need to find hope. The world around you doesn’t offer you much, you want something different.
Jesus Christ is different, because he saw the problems in the world and did something about it. All of us deal with problems, problems that come from the sin in our life and the sin in others. All of us are sinners and the penalty of sin is death. But Jesus died in our place so that we can experience hope I our life. Tonight you can ask him to be the payment for your sin. After the service, I will be down front and will be happy to discuss with you how to accept this payment and how to begin a new life of radiance.
Let us pray.