Why I Keep Telling the Story

Many of us have a favorite hymn. One that has been a favorite of mine since I was a child is, I love to tell the story! Many others love that hymn as well. We sing it enthusiastically in our churches! Still, I wonder at times if we really mean it. Do we really love to tell the story of Jesus and his love?

What about outside the church building in a different context, do we really love to tell the story to our neighbor? To our unchurched friends, our family, our coworkers, or our fellow students? I suppose, if we are really honest about it, many of us would say, No, I guess telling the story about Jesus in public makes me a little uncomfortable at times.

I recently read a book entitled, The Embarrassed Believer, by Hugh Hewitt. The author writes, “Many Christians today can hardly make themselves say the ‘J’ word, pray in a restaurant, or invite a colleague to church. They cringe at anything that makes their commitment visible in this current secular environment. Every Sunday in the safety of the sanctuary, many believers sit and pray with sincerity and gusto, then vanish and go silent the next six days. The reason Ð America has become increasingly hostile to Christianity. The media elite mocks it, some vocal scientists disdain it, universities debunk it, and business typically ignores it. Public expression of faith is not only unfashionable, it is seen as slightly bizarre. No one likes to think people are looking at them, thinking they are bizarre. So they are discouraged into thinking that maybe their critics are right. ‘Why should we bother? It won’t make any difference anyway.’

“Others of us are afraid of sounding foolish. We remember Paul saying to the Corinthians that the Gospel sounds like foolishness to some people. So we keep it to ourselves and not saying a word for Christ.

“Finally, some of us have tried to tell the story of Jesus and feel like they have failed. The person wasn’t converted, or maybe they were even met negative results. They walk away from that experience feeling a little more gun shy about opening their mouth for Jesus the next time around.”

A host of other reasons exists as well why we do not love to tell that story at times.

For those of us who may be feeling a little discouraged or fearful about telling the story, Jesus has a good word for us today. He tells a parable. For us to better understand it, we need to understand the context under which Jesus told this parable.

In chapter one of his Gospel, Mark records that Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” In chapter three, Jesus chose the twelve, said he wanted them to be with him. He was getting them ready to tell the good news of the kingdom of God, which really was about himself.

Throughout the rest of chapter three, Jesus runs into rejection, conflict, ridicule, and confusion as people hear his claims. Some want to destroy him, and others accuse him of being possessed by the devil. Even his own family thinks he is a little out of his mind, so they come to take him home. In the background, the disciples are observing all this rejection. This evangelistic enterprise is not exactly off to a good start, and the disciples are probably wondering what they are themselves getting into. It is at this point that Jesus tells the story about the farmer who sowed the seed.

Some seed fell on a path, and the birds came and swallowed it up. Other seed fell upon rocky ground. It sprouted quickly, but the sun came out. Because its roots were so shallow, it was scorched and withered away, because its roots were so shallow. Some fell on among thorns, and the weeds and thorns choked it out. Others fell on good soil, and it bore fruit Ð thirty, sixty, a hundred fold.

Jesus stopped at this point and said, “Now he who has ears to hear, listen.” Do you suppose he was talking about the disciples at that point? A little while later they asked him to explain the parable to them.

Jesus told them, “The seed is the word of God: the good news about the kingdom of God, which has come to myself. The path, that is the people who are hard hearted. When the seed gets sowed upon them, when they hear it, but Satan comes down, swoops it up, and eats up that seed of the Gospel. Those that hear the word and receive it joyfully, that is the rocky ground. But they are shallow, and when difficulties come, they fall away. Then the thorny ground, that is the person who hears the word, but the cares of the world choke it out, and it never really grows. But then there is the good soil. Those folks hear it, accept it, and believe it. They bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold.”

Jesus is using a story to make a point: Keep your eye on the ending Ð the good soil, those that will receive it. A great harvest is waiting as we tell the story of Jesus and his love. All kinds of soils are out there. You will run into all kinds of hearers to that Gospel: negative and positive.

This story was an encouragement to early Christians like Timothy, who were discouraged and wondering whether they should give up telling the story. Jesus is telling them, and us, to keep throwing the seed. Keep telling that story, because the great harvest is always a possibility as the good soil receives the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This story in my own ministry encourages me, and as I pray each week for my congregation. All kinds of hearers exist. Some of them not ready; others are very ready to receive the good news. I learned four principles from this story that I keep with myself, and I will share with you this morning.

1. Jesus is counting on us to sow that seed. It is a privilege. People who need Jesus just as much as we need him surround us, and they are ready to receive him.

2. No one bats a thousand. Why is it, in the game of baseball, when a batter hits 300 Ð he hits the ball three times out of ten Ð we consider that a great season? Why would we not expect the same thing as we are sowing the seed? No one bats a thousand when they are telling the story of Jesus Christ. Don’t be surprised if you have some negative results.

3. The growth is not up to us. We do the sowing, but God does the growing. As Paul said to those Corinthians, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered, God brought about the growth.”

4. The seed is good and it is powerful. It is powerful enough to change a life and produce a great harvest in the lives of others around it. Listen to Paul, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe.” Paul is speaking from experience. He heard the story from Ananias in the ninth chapter of Acts, and it changed his life. As he went about and shared the story with others, thousands received it, and the Church sprung up everywhere around Asia Minor.

What we are learning in this story, an encouraging word from Jesus, is this: Do not quit. Don’t be silent. Speak up and keep telling the story of Jesus and his love, because that seed is good! A lot of good soil is waiting for someone to share the Gospel. They are ready to receive it, and great will be the harvest.

I have a wonderful story, and a true story about a ten-year-old girl named Monica. She lived in Bogota, Columbia, and belonged to a Christian church that decided to get the seed of the Good News of Jesus out into their community. They chose the tool, Evangelism Explosion International, by Dr. James Kennedy for their training. As an experiment, they decided to let the children attend this training as well. Monica was very taken with this and she learned it well.

On her two-hour bus ride to attend the training with her mom and dad, Monica would sing choruses from scripture. One day a woman asked her where she learned these lyrics. Monica replied, “From the Bible,” and then she recited some more words from the Bible. The other passengers listened in, and she became quite a diversion on the bus on a daily basis.

One day she got up the courage to ask the woman sitting next to her, “If you were to die today, are you to that place in your spiritual life where you would know for certain you would go to heaven,” and “If God were to ask you, ÔWhy should l let you into my heaven?’, what would you tell him?”

The woman said, “Well, I say my rosary, I try to make good decisions, and I live a good life.” She hoped to qualify because her good deeds outweighed the bad. Monica politely told her that the only proper answer to God’s question, the Bible taught, was that God is perfect and requires perfection for someone to be in his presence.

“No one can be perfect,” the woman said.

Monica was prepared. She said, “Well, there is good news about that in the Bible too. Jesus was perfect; He died for our sins and paid for our salvation. If we believe and trust that, God will look at us through Jesus, and we will be considered perfect in God’s sight. So there is only one answer to the question. Nothing we have done or can do will get us into heaven. The only way we can get in is to tell God that Jesus paid our way.”

At first the woman seemed merely amused, as did the other passengers. “Such interesting ideas from a youngster!” Nevertheless, each day, as Monica sang and recited, asked and answered, more passengers listened closely. Finally, someone said he believed, he wanted to pray and trust Jesus alone for his salvation. A few days later another did the same. One day even the bus driver listened to Monica! He pulled to the side of the road, and he and the other ten passengers prayed to receive Jesus Christ. She invited the new converts to her home where her parents led them to weekly Bible study, even though her home is in a depressed and dangerous area where few outsiders venture.

Within a month, thirty new believers were in that group.

When Monica’s pastor heard their stories, he assigned an assistant to work with the group. Within a year, they had grown to 150 people and became a daughter church to Monica’s home congregation. Today it has grown to 350 people. The seed that little ten-year-old girl sowed on the bus that day and continued to sow, fell on good soil, and it yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, he who has ears to hear, listen: that seed is good and powerful! As you tell the story, remember, many people are ready to hear it, and the harvest will be great. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. That is our Good News.

As you go on your way, may Christ go with you;

may be go before you to show you the way,

behind you to encourage you,

beside you to befriend you,

above you to watch over,

and within you to give you his peace.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Why Are We Depressed?

Preaching can be dangerous when you have limited knowledge of your subject. For example, if you spend two weeks in Israel on a guided tour, you dare not present yourself as an authority on the Palestinian problem when you return home. Reading a biography on Abraham Lincoln or Saddam Hussein does not make you an authority on their lives.

Our text for today presents a subject that is so complex, it must be dealt with carefully. The Psalmist is asking himself a question: “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” It is the same question that comes from our lips when we ask, Why am I depressed?

I want to say at the beginning of this message that I have little formal academic training on the subject of depression. I am not a psychologist or a therapist. Counseling was the most difficult part of the pastoral ministry for me. I seldom experienced nervousness when preaching to my congregation, however, when I heard the footsteps of a person coming up to my office for marriage counseling, I was nervous. I could visit with the person about the biblical teachings of marriage and divorce, but when people showed little interest in this approach to their problem, I had little more to offer except love and concern. I was thankful when our congregation called a pastor who was clinically trained to join our staff as the counselor.

In his book Favorite Psalms, the great English preacher, John Stott writes, “The subject of Psalm 42 is a spiritual depression, its cause and cure. Being depressed is an experience by no means rare, even among godly people.”

Stott talks about spiritual depressions. Are there other causes for depression? My wife and I learned there are. I will never forget the day when a psychiatrist lovingly, but firmly, told me that there are depressions brought on by physiological causes. When that insight registered in my thinking, I became concerned about the people who must have been hurt when they heard me say in my sermons, “Draw close to the Lord Jesus and all of your depressions will go away.” When some illness or accident has affected a part of your body, this is not necessarily true.

Three months after suffering a stroke, my wife had a severe depression that last for about two years. We were in and out of hospitals, including a month-long stay at the Mayo Clinic. It was there that a psychiatrist and a neurologist told me a part of her brain had been severely assaulted, which was the cause for her depression. Her faith in the Lord Jesus had never been stronger, but she was depressed. We prayed and prayed Ð and hundreds of other people prayed with and for us Ð but Eunice was still depressed. Two years later we sat in another psychiatrist’s office and heard him say, “Eunice, you are no longer depressed. In fact, your husband is more depressed than you are.” When I asked him how her healing came about, he replied, “God did it.”

From that day on, when I preach on depression, I make it clear that, because a person is depressed, that does not mean they have lost their faith, or that if they had more faith, they would not be depressed.

Psalm 42, and John Stott’s explanation of it, ministered to my soul during those long days when I sat beside my wife. Her depression was caused by a stroke, a physical affliction. Mine was, in the words of Stott, a spiritual depression. I can identify with the Psalmist when he writes,

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night.”

With the Psalmist I shed a few tears. It was heart breaking to see a person who had a brilliant mind and a strong body reduced to something far less in a matter of minutes. None of my friends asked, Where is your God? But there were those weak moments when the question flashed across my mind.

The Psalm continues,

“These things I remember as I poured out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

Yes, I could remember those festive worship services. Two thousand people had come to praise God. The choir, sixty strong, sang those great anthems: Beautiful Savior and O Day Full of Grace. It was my inspiration to find my wife in the congregation and know how in love she had critiqued my sermons, admonishing me not to speak in the abstract, but to be very concrete and talk to the congregation about their need for a personal relationship with God. “Hold high the cross!” Her parting words to me as I left the house early was, “See you in church, and remember that I will be praying for you!”

Then I would read those words Ð Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Ð Did those experiences belong to the past?

Night came and we lay there in bed. She was restless and apologized for keeping me awake. It was at the Psalmist wrote,

“At night his song is with me Ð a prayer to the God of my life. I said to my God, my Rock, ÔWhy have you forgotten me; Why must I go about mourning oppressed by the enemy?'”

And then God spoke. The Psalmist writes,

“Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Then I would reach for my New Testament on the night stand, and God’s voice came through clearly: “Cast all of your cares upon me, I care for you.” “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Soon it was another day.

It has been nearly twelve years since Eunice’s life was changed by the stroke. Many of you have gone through far more difficult days than we have. It she had been well, we would have had many exciting experiences, for God always has an interesting itinerary for his children, but we are convinced that they could not have been richer years than we have experienced. Hundreds of Bible passages have come alive, and we have had a daily taste of His grace.

Have we had some low moments? You bet we would, and Eunice would say, “You see, I have let you down. It’s all my fault.” And then, in a time of self-pity, I would take a walk and tell God that I wasn’t built for this kind of live. His answer was clear: “Homer, my grace is sufficient for you.” This is our call-up verse we have used each day.

When you experience spiritual depressions, the answer is clear: Put your hope in God. Be faithful in getting to worship. Open your Bibles daily, and you will find many answers for your questions. Pray a lot. Attend the Lord’s Supper and feel His divine presence. Gather with your Christian friends, and you will see what a gift Jesus Christ has given you in his church.

Well, for several months, we have shared with you some verses that have brought comfort, peace, direction, and the assurance for us. They are our call-up verses. We would urge you to make up your own list and carry them in the depth of your soul. You will experience that God has not left you alone; he is very near. Don’t walk through life without Him. It is too scary, but with him by your side, there is nothing to fear, for as He has promised, he is with you.

Why Do the Wicked Prosper and the Righteous Suffer?

Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? This is one of the most common questions asked today, especially when we talk about God being loving and just. This was the question the psalmist was asking thousands of years ago, so let’s take a look at his writing to see if we can identify with him.

He believes that God is good. Never does he question that truth. He could look around and see the marvelous creation and know that his is only one of God’s gift to humanity. Though he has all the necessities of life he is offended when he sees the prosperity of the wicked. The Living Bible states the psalmist’s problem when it describes the wicked with words like this: “All through life their road is smooth! They grow sleek and fat. They aren’t always in trouble and plagued with problems like everyone else, so their pride sparkles like a jeweled necklace, and their clothing is woven of cruelty! Those fat cats have everything their hearts could wish for! They scoff at God and threaten his people.

“And so the people are confused, and drink it all in. ‘Does God know what is going on?’ they ask. Look at these men of arrogance; they never have to lift a finger – theirs is a life of ease and all the time their riches multiply” vs. 4 – 12.

Then the Psalm brings out his bitterness.

“Have I been wasting my time? Why take the trouble to be pure? All I get out of it is trouble and woe – every day and all day long! It is hard to explain – this prosperity of those who hate the Lord.”

This is the statement of a man who was measuring his wealth by the material gifts of life. Thank God that these words found their way into the Bible because it is so descriptive of what people in most cases believe. I remember having dinner one evening in the lovely home of a man with whom I had gone to college. He had gone on to medical school and I went to the seminary. His first year in practice, 1948, he earned $24,000, and I earned $2,400. As we drove home that night, Satan was having a great time with me. How unjust, unfair. He made ten times more than I did, and this was only the beginning. What will his net worth be as compared to mine when we are fifty years of age? I know what the psalmist was going through in his torture. Do you? Jealousy is a terrible sin. You know what it is to pray when God has convicted you of this sin. Listen to this:

“When my hears is grieved and my sprit embittered, I am senseless and ignorant. I am a brute beast before you.”

Then the psalmist shows how God dealt with him. He says:

“I went into God’s sanctuary to meditate.” We need a sanctuary where we can be alone with God there to bring our frustration and confess our sins.

He reminds us that no one living is righteous before God. Paul writes, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3;10). Who are we to sit in judgment over another person be he wealthy or poor. God will sit in judgment over all of us. Leave it al in his hands. We have enough to deal with our own sins and need not look to others.

Think of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. He promises Old Testament walk with us through life. He gives us his Son, Christ Jesus. He died on the cross as a payment for our sins, and God has brought us into a personal relationship with him because of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary. His grace is always sufficient for us. There awaits us a heavenly home.

As the psalmist shared his sinful thoughts with the Almighty God, he ends the psalm by saying, “It is good to be here, God. I have made the Sovereign Lord, my refuge.”

The message of the psalm rings clearly. Those without Christ are to be pitied. Their beautiful-handsome, pain-free bodies will last for only a few years. Their places of prestige will be gone, for when we cross into eternity, all of us stand as equals before God. The one important question will be, What have we done with Jesus Christ? Without him we are lost. With him, we have the blessings of our heavenly home, God’s greatest gift to us.

Many questions are answered when we look at life through the eyes of our Lord. There we find answers to the basic questions of life. What the human mind cannot understand, faith can comprehend.

Christians in the twenty-first century need to lean this great truth – Jesus Christ is our greatest treasure.

There Is Help on the Way

There’s Help on the Way

“There’s help on the way!”

That’s what I said to my wife when I awakened to find her in the midst of having a stroke. How thankful I was when the paramedics arrived and carefully put her into the ambulance. Maybe someone at the hospital could help her.

There’s help on the way! In fact, it is available for all of us right now. Listen to what the Bible says,

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high pries who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are Ð yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grade with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

I believe that I have read this passage of Scripture to more people on pastoral visits than any other in the Bible. It speaks to us in all circumstances of life.

Have you ever made that statement Ð No one understands. Most of us have, but it isn’t true, and we realize how emotional our statement is when we get control of our feelings. Then we can look around and see the problems others have, and how much worse off they are than we are. In as far as it is humanly possible, many people who have had similar experiences can understand what we are going through, but they are limited in the help they can give to us.

However, God has the ability to understand and help us just when we need it. We have a great High Priest. In the Jewish faith, the High Priest had to be in touch with his people and with God. His task was to usher people into the presence of God.

One of the greatest challenges in preaching is to present Christ as the Savior who understands. It is far more difficult than teaching the person some words that he can verbalize about who the Bible says Jesus is and what his mission on earth was. Of course, good clear indoctrination is important. This is what we are about in both preaching and teaching. And, of course, it is the Holy Spirit who alone can take these words and make them living truths with which we live and die. But the teacher of the Word must do all within his power to present these biblical truths in such a way that they will lift the person from his brokenness to look into the face of the Lord who loves him.

Let me give you a live illustration of what I am trying to say. It was in the evening, and I was preparing this sermon to be tape for the radio program the next day. I was searching for a real life illustration to open this marvelous portion of God’s Word. The telephone rang ,and a good friends said, “Homer, could you come down to our apartment? We have just received word that our grandson died.”

It is only one hundred steps from our apartment to theirs. Even though I have answered many calls like this, there is always the question, What shall I say? Then these words of our text, which I have been working with for the sermon, came to my mind. “We have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Another thought crossed my mind. There is help on the way for these two grieving grandparents, and I am carrying it to them. There was no question in my mind what to do. We would spend a few minutes just talking about the young many who had died. We would shed a lot of tears and even laugh a little bit when some funny things he had done as a little child came to their minds.

Now it was time for the help that God was sending. It certainly was not my words. They handed me their Bible, and I read the blessed words of our text: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are Ð yet was without sin.”

This is your Savior. He is the One who has come to die for you that your sins might be forgiven, and you might be assured of a place in heaven when these days are over. He is the one who has asked you to draw near to the throne of grace, and He would give you peace. He is the One who will walk with you through these difficult days. He will not dry up your tears, or heal that broken heart for that lost one who has been near and dear to you for twenty yeas. But you are n His arms. We shared the Gospel.

There is a quietness. I am sure the night was long, and they were restless, but they had not been reminded that they were not in that apartment alone.

Christ comes to us in His Word. It is this Word that we share with one another. Just remember that when you are called by someone who has experienced some tragedy in their life. They will need help that only God can give them, and you might just be the one who will carry that help as you point them to Christ Ð His cross and empty tomb.

Put this portion of Scripture in your spiritual computer. You will need it often for your own comfort and to comfort others with it.

Trust and Obey

How much can you take before you become emotionally upset? How stable is your life? What brings stability to your life?

Is it your health? Good health is a great blessing.

Is it your family? People say, “I don’t know what I would do without my family.”

Is it your education? “Get that education. No one can take that away from you,” is the counsel we receive when we are young.

What makes life stable are Jesus’ closing thoughts in His Sermon on the Mount. Let’s see what He has to say.

Jesus, who spent many years in the carpenter shop at Nazareth, tells us that the wise builder realizes how important it is to have a good foundation when you are constructing a house. The land around Nazareth had many dry gullies in the summer time, but in the winter the rains would fall and the gullies filled with torrents of rushing water. If a builder wanted his house to endure these storms, it was necessary for him to dig deep into the earth until the foundation rested on rock.

Jesus applies this parable to our lives. The storms of life reveal the kind of foundation upon which our lives are built. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals traits of Christian behavior.

In listing some of these traits, we must remember that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Our Lord is not teaching that we are saved by good works, but that good works come from the person who trusts Jesus as Lord. Myron Augsburger said it well: “Jesus is not only looking for a confession of faith, but a conduct of faith.”

Jesus tells us that we are to be the salt of the earth. Salt preserves that which is good. How do we live this out in our communities so that people may be helped and be able to see that our lives have been touched by Christ? We are anxious to support that which is good and pleasing to God. Let me illustrate:

In our town each summer we have the Cedar Falls Bible Conference. This organization brings some of the most able preachers to this conference from the United States and Europe. It was started eighty years ago when the speaker was Dr. G. Campbell Morgan. Great crowds filled the tabernacle for eight days. In the 50s it looked like the conference was going to fold. The crowds were small, and much of the enthusiasm was lacking. Some felt it no longer communicated to our culture.

But a small group of people existed who had received so many blessings from the conference, they were not about to let it close. They worked hard, gave liberally of their money, and prayed that the conference would have more years of ministry to our town. The conference is still going today, and this year it enjoyed one of its largest attendance in its eighty-year history. The supporters were the salt of the earth that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount, and God blessed their efforts.

God has given us the Law, which becomes a part of the solid foundation. One of the commandments is to remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Now it is Sunday morning. What do you do Ð go to church or skip worship today? After all, you were there the last two Sundays. The kids are complaining about having to be in church every Sunday. Maybe you shouldn’t force them to go, because it might turn them against going to church when they are adults.

If you are building your family on the true foundation as taught in the Bible, your question is answered. You and the family will be in church every Sunday. That will be as natural as going to work or school on Monday.

In your family devotion, you read these words: “When you give to the needy, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” The words Ð give to the needy Ð catch your eyes. Do we need to become involved with those who are in need in our community or other parts of the world? Jesus teaches us to share our abundance with those who are in need. I am always impressed with the graciousness of those families who are willing to take deprived children into their home, especially when they have their own sons and daughters who need their time. What lessons are learned in sharing your love with those who have no one to love them! This is building your home on the solid foundation.

Jesus goes on in his sermon telling us what it means to build our lives on the rock. There must be purity of heart, peacemaking, and faithfulness to God’s Word, no matter what the cost might be.

Yes, Myron Augsburger does give us something to think about when once again he writes, “Jesus is not only asking for a confession of faith, but a conduct of faith.”

How we need to sing for our hearts the old Gospel song:

“Trust and obey,

For there’s no other way,

To be happy in Jesus,

But to trust and obey.”

If there is something between you and another person, get it straightened out. Don’t let your ill feelings develop into anger and then into hatred, which you might carry for years. That is a house that is built on sand. It will not stand when the storms come.

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” The home that is built on the rock will have its time of prayer. The children learn to pray at their parents’ knees. Prayer is natural for those who are building their house on the rock.

Another bit of counsel comes from Jesus when he says, “Do not judge or you too will be judged.” This does not mean that we will condone error, but will know the whole story of a person’s actions before we judge.

What do we do with this Sermon on the Mount? I must admit, as I look through my sermon notes of the past, it is easier for me to preach on the grace of God than on some other texts quoted above. Thank God that Jesus is the crucified Savior. I believe His Word and trust him as my Savior, for He is the only way to heaven. However, I also realize that, as a follower of Jesus, we must live a life that will bring honor to him. We must trust him, but out of love for Christ, we must also obey him. Faith reveals itself in the way we live.