Joy in Trials

1Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What is hypomone?

  1. Notice “that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” or, as many translations read either “patience” or “endurance.”
  2. There are two synonyms for endurance in the New Testament.
    1. Makrothumia – “Long-suffering” KJV
    2. hypomone – “endurance”

Why is endurance so important?

Have you ever used a sponge? Did you notice sponges work best when they are squeezed? Likewise, Jesus tells us, “by your endurance you will be saved,” (Luke 21)

How can we endure?

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us,”

Paul, Romans 5:2b-5

12     Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3



  1. Why is praying for patience “a dangerous prayer”?
  2. Why is patience a key to fruitfulness (Luke 8:15; Galatians 6:9)?
  3. What qualities do the Proverbs say lead to patience? (Proverbs 14:29; 19:11)? How are these characteristics related to patience?
  4. What is the difference between “patience” (macrothumia) and “endurance” (hupomone)? Which one is harder?
  5. Why is patience essential for health relationships?
  6. Why does Paul say patience is the first ingredient in love?


  1. Since true patience is “a calm endurance, based on the certain knowledge that God is in control” (James Rye), how could acknowledging God’s power over your circumstances help you to be patient in dealing with:
    1. Career
    2. Ministry
    3. Relationships
    4. Hardships
  2. Why are patient people so attractive?
  3. How would your life be different if you were more patient?


  • In what area of your life is patience most difficult right now? Consider what you need to do to exercise faith in this situation, and write out a prayer to use this week to help you grow.

The Blessing of Words

Quill“Ahhh chooo!” he sneezed and someone piped up, “Bless you!”

That’s an old custom left over from when people believed sneezes were caused by demons and we needed God’s help to overcome the sniffles. Perhaps times have changed. We no longer believe colds are caused by demons, but we also rarely think about blessings either.

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians by declaring, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:3, ESV), but what does that mean? The New Century Bible changes the wording a little bit to have Paul say, “Praise be to the God.” (See the Contemporary English Version and others.) This recognizes that there are two Greek words in the New Testament translated “bless.”

We know the first one from Jesus’ Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2 ff.), where each phrase begins, “Blessed are ….” That word, makarios, has the sense “congratulations,” “fortunate,” or “happy.” In other words, if you practice this quality, you will be happy.

The second word translated “blessed” is eulogetos. It is an adjective, a description, which portrays something as “worthy of praise.” This is the interesting part: this word is only used of God the Father or Jesus. They are so fantastic that only they are truly praiseworthy. Everything and everyone else pales in comparison.

Now let’s take our new found knowledge and use it to help us understand what Paul was telling the Ephesians: God is blessed – he is worthy of praise! (Spend some time thinking about why God is worthy of praise.) God is blessed! But that isn’t all Paul tells us. Out of his bounty of blessings, God gives some of that quality to us. His blessings rub off on us through our relationship with Jesus. To the extent Jesus is Lord of our lives, we receive the blessings of God!

Still there is more. We might think about earthly blessings: a new car, a shiny new gadget – my wish list goes on and on – but the problem with earthly blessings is new cars become old, gadgets new to be replaced, and none of the possessions I might desire will ever really satisfy me. That’s why the blessings that come from God are “spiritual blessings.” They make me a better person. God’s blessings just get better and better with time. But that’s not all. These blessings aren’t earthbound. They are “in the heavenly places.” That means unlike anything else in my life, the blessings of God will travel with me into eternity! Now that’s something worth getting excited about.

Be a Blessing

Sunday Morning Sermon
June 25, 2017
John McKeel

My grandmother once told me: “Everyone makes you happy…. Some people make you happy when you see them coming and some people make you happy when you see them going, but everyone makes you happy.”

God calls us to be blessed and to be a blessing to others.

God promised to bless Abraham “so that you will be a blessing,” (Genesis 12:2). We don’t use the word “bless” very often in daily discourse – unless someone sneezes! What does “bless” mean? Fortunate. Happy. Originally it was reserved for the gods. “It denotes the transcendent happiness of a life beyond care, labor and death,” (TDNT). In other words, they don’t worry.

“Without time, there can be no worry.” Therefore, we need to strive to live in the now.

God Blesses Us

How does God bless us? We don’t need to worry because:

  1. God is in control.
  2. Everything belongs to God. We are just trustees.
  3. We know how the story ends.
  4. Death has lost its power.
  5. We are never alone.

The Blessing is Counter-Intuitive (Christianity is Revolutionary)

We count someone blessed who is rich, fortunate, etc. but Christianity turns the world upside down. Matthew 5:1-10.

5  Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:

3     “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4     Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5     Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7     Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8     Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9     Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

10    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Poor – We say the rich are blessed. They don’t have to worry, but the truth is the poor must trust in God. We grow in the hard times!

  • Mourn – We say the happy are blessed because they are content, but those who mourn are blessed because God dries their tears.
  • Meek – We tell our children to “Be proud,” but “pride goes before the fall.” Strength under control is a blessing!
  • Hunger – Hunger is a desire. The blessing comes to those who desire righteousness!
  • Merciful – We praise justice, but pray for mercy.
  • Pure in Heart – Are chumps. They are easy prey for the shrewd, but the Christian values purity because of its power: the power of a single, unified, balanced, whole life.
  • Peacemakers – are stuck in the middle, but their self-sacrifice blesses the world.

The Blessing Requires Faith

There are two requirements of faith:

  1. Faith requires trust
  2. Faith requires growth. Monkey-bar faith v. sailing over the horizon. Monkey-bar faith is like the playground. We swing from one bar to the next. It might be hard but we can always see the next step, but when you sail over the horizon, you lose sight of land. That kind of radical faith takes us out of our comfort zone!

This Week: Be a blessing!

If you have any questions about this week’s lesson, or you’d just like to talk, please call John (619-313-7997) or drop him an email:


Meet James the Lord’s Brother

Wednesday nights are special at GCC.  Everyone is invited to join us for dinner at 6:15 PM and our Bible Study begins at 7:00 PM. Here is the class outline for June 21st.


James the “Late Bloomer”

We actually know more about James the brother of Jesus from historical sources, than we do about Jesus. Although he was not a follower of Jesus while Christ was ministering on earth, James became a prominent believer after the Lord made a special post resurrection appearance to him.

James was none other than a blood-brother, a half-brother, of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospels mention this fact (see Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). Apparently he was at first an unbeliever—“For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5). However during the forty-day period between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension, Jesus “appeared to James, then to all the apostles”—and James believed (1 Corinthians 15:7). James is mentioned as being in the upper room in Jerusalem, praying with his mother and the rest of the disciples (Acts 1:13) and was presumably present when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. He had become the leader of the Jerusalem church when Peter was released from prison (Acts 12:17), and eventually he chaired the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:13ff.; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12).

James was a “late bloomer,” but he flowered well! James knew Christ as only a few could. For years he had eaten at the same table, shared the same house, played in the same places, and watched the development of his amazing older brother. And when he truly came to know Christ, his boyhood privilege was not wasted, for he became known as James the Just, a man of immense piety.

Hughes, R. K. (1991). James: faith that works (p. 16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

James and the other brothers of Jesus were there in the upper room in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and James became so well-known for his piety among the Jews there, that he was called “James the Just.”

The historian Eusebius records the testimony of Hegisippus that James

“used to enter alone into the temple and be found kneeling and praying for forgiveness for the people, so that his knees grew hard like a camel’s because of his constant worship of God, kneeling and asking forgiveness for the people. So from his excessive righteousness he was called the Just.”

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Volume 1, trans. Kirsopp Lake, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), p. 171 (II. 23.3–9).

Let’s see what the sources say about the brother of Jesus and the death of the author of our epistle from James.

The Arrest of James

Caesar sent Albinus to Judaea as procurator, when he was informed of the death of Festus. But the younger Ananus, who as I said had received the high priesthood, was headstrong in character and audacious in the extreme…. He thought that he had a convenient opportunity, as Festus was dead and Albinus still on the way. So he assembled a council of judges and brought before it James, the brother of Jesus, known as Christ, and several others, on a charge of breaking the law, and handed them over to be stoned.

Josephus, Antiquities xx, ix. I.

James is Killed

Then they said to each other “Let us stone James the Righteous”, and began to stone him, as in spite of his fall he was still alive. But he turned and knelt, uttering the words: “I beseech Thee, Lord God and Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” While they pelted him with stones, one of the descendants of Rechab the son of Rachabim -the priestly family to which Jeremiah the Prophet bore witness called out: “Stop! What are you doing? The Righteous one is praying for you.” Then one of them, a fuller, took the club which he used to beat out the clothes, and brought it down on the head of the Righteous one…. Immediately after this Vespasian began to besiege them.

Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius

The destruction of Jerusalem is one of the saddest stories of the First Century. Josephus concludes:

These things happened to the Jews in requital for James the Righteous, who was a brother of Jesus known as Christ, for though he was the most righteous of men, the Jews put him to death.

(This quote from Josephus is no longer extant but is quoted by both Origen and Eusebius.)


The book of James has been called the “Blue Jeans Epistle.” It is intensely practical and down to earth. While Paul plumbs the depths of theology, James is concerned about how we live and what we do as Christians.

Think about those early days in Jerusalem after Pentecost. What did the Christians talk about? Those are the topics that James dealt with:

  1. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” 1:19.
  2. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says,” 1:22.
  3. “Don’t show favoritism,” 2:1.
  4. Faith without works is dead, 2:17.
  5. Tame your tongue! 3:1 ff.
  6. “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming,” 5:7.



  1. Can you name the brothers and sisters of Jesus?
  2. Why didn’t they believe Jesus was the Christ?
  3. Do you think they were embarrassed by Jesus?
  4. What did it take to convince them Jesus was the Son of God?
  5. Why does James call himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” rather than “the brother of Jesus”?


  1. Do you think Mary or Joseph ever told the rest of the family that Jesus was “special”?
  2. How do you think Jesus felt when his family thought he was crazy (Mark 3:21)?
  3. Some of us may lose brothers and sisters and family members to the world. (Even the family of Jesus quit following him.) How does Mark 3:31-35 help?


Spend some time this week getting to know one of your Christian brothers or sisters.


The Holiday That Almost Wasn’t

Father's DayLeigh Eric Schmidt writes in her fascinating little book, Consumer Rites: The Buying and Selling of American Holidays, “The success of Mother’s Day was an inspiration.” (Mother’s Day was first celebrated as a recognized American holiday in 1908 after Anna Jarvis led a national campaign. Later Jarvis campaigned against the holiday claiming it had become too commercial!) In 1910 Sonora Dodd promoted the idea of Father’s Day among churches in Spokane, Washington. It only seemed fitting to honor Dads as well as Moms. Father’s Day was celebrated first at the local YMCA, but people were opposed to Father’s Day on two counts. First, it was too feminine. For Mother’s Day people were encouraged to wear carnations. For Father’s Day they were told to wear red roses.

It took some strong sermons to make Father’s Day masculine. One of the first was by a Presbyterian, Conrad Bluhm who titled his sermon, “The Knight That Never Retreats.” Fathers were “rugged, husky, [and] stalwart.” He went on, “It was Father’s Day when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees. It was Father’s Day when Noah built the ark. It was Father’s Day when Christ chose the Twelve… The Bible is a man’s book and its lessons are his life-task.” Bluhm continued, “The word Father is found in the Bible 1650 times; mother but 311 times. It is a Father’s book!”

Father’s Day may have become more manly, but people were also tired of commercialism and it seemed like Father’s Day was just another ploy by retailers to sell pipes, socks and neckties so by the 1920s the fire of Father’s Day had nearly gone out – even in Spokane. Schmidt observes, “Father’s Day exchanges appeared as a kind of practical joke; Dad was bewildered by the attention or even somehow duped by these tokens of affection (some of which were clearly purchased more with the giver than the receiver in mind). Also, and this was a source of popular satire, Dad was seen as the one who, in the end, would have to pay for all these gadgets and trinkets. The bills for Father’s Day gifts were viewed as circling back to him, so that he was made to pay, quite literally, for his own undoing ….”

No wonder then it took so long for Father’s Day to be recognized as a national holiday. The first bill was introduced in congress in 1913. Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak for Father’s Day in Spokane in 1916. Calvin Coolidge recommended it in 1924. The bill was defeated three times in congress. (The last one was rejected in 1957.) In 1966 Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, but it wasn’t until Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972 that Father’s Day became a national holiday.

Of course God was way ahead of congress and told us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) As Paul observed, this is the first commandment with a promise. Happy Father’s Day Dad!



Sunday Morning Sermon
June 11, 2017
John McKeel

Love is the Heart of Christianity

What is the “Greatest Thing in the World”—what philosophers call the summum bonum? If you only go around once in this life, what should you strive for? What makes life worth living?

Religious people might answer “Faith!” but they would be wrong. Faith is important, but it is not the most important object of life. Listen to the apostles:

Paul, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Peter, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart,” (1 Peter 1:22).

John, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 John 4:8)

Why is this true? The Apostle Paul explains, “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law,” (Romans 13:10).

But What is Love?

“Love” may be the most abused word in the English language. I might say “I love my car,” “I make love to my wife,” and “I love my friends.” Hopefully we are talking about three different things!

The Greeks had four words, all translated “love” in English, that described four different aspects of love.

  • Eros – The Desire to Possess
  • Storge – Love of Family
  • Philia – Friendship
  • Agape – A Different Kind of Love

The Love Chapter

1 Corinthians 13

The Apostle Paul passes love through a prism and tells us:

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The Spectrum of Love has ten ingredients:

Patient……………. “Long suffering”

Kind………………. The Mellow Virtue

Does not envy…. Envy is related to eros – the desire to possess

Does not boast…. Literally “love is not a windbag”

Is not arrogant…. Conceited pride

Is polite………….. Good manners


Good tempered… Love isn’t irritable

Is not resentful…. Literally “love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.”

Sincerity …………  “It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

Love in Action

Finally, in verse 7, we see love in action:

  • “Bears” can have two meanings and both are helpful.
    • “Keeps confidences” – “love that throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person,” Harnack
    • “Endures” – It stands against the storm.
  • “Believes” as in “I believe in Jan.”
  • “Hope”
  • “Endures” – where as “love is long-suffering” in verse 4, here “love endures.”

Learning to Love

  • Romans 13:8 – 10
  • “We love because he first loved us,” (1 John 4:19).


Jesus Loves Me

Ana Warner
Ana B. Warner

John McKeel

When John F. Kennedy and the men of PT 109 were rescued in the Solomon Islands, one of the crewmembers, Motor Machinist Mate William Johnston, went topside and gratefully sat beside his island rescuers.

He smiled. They smiled. He tried to talk, but what do you say? The islanders had been educated in a Christian mission. Johnston had gone to Bible school. Then they all grinned and began to sing: “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so” and they sang it all the way back to the American Navy base.

Ana B. Warner’s children’s song is engraved on our hearts, but few people know her story. Ana’s father nearly lost everything in the “Panic of 1837.” They were forced to move from their beautiful townhouse in New York and the family retired to a little Revolutionary War house on Constitution Island. It was just across the river from the Military Academy at West Point where her uncle had been the chaplain.

Ana’s older sister, Susan, continued to hold Bible classes for the cadets. Ana would pick wild flowers and give them to the soldiers to decorate their rooms. When the cadets graduated, the sisters kept up a lively correspondence with them. As the soldiers advanced in rank, they still remembered the two sisters who would row across the river and bring them back to their little home to study the Bible on Sundays. Today, the sisters are still honored at West Point. They are the only two civilians buried in the military cemetery there and their little home is maintained as a museum just the way it was in the mid-1800s.

The words to the song come from one of the many stories the girls wrote to help support their struggling family. In their book, Say and Seal, a beloved schoolteacher sang, “Jesus Loves Me” to a little boy who was very ill. Later, some of the stanzas were re-written by David Rutherford McGuire, and the chorus was written by the man who wrote the music, William Bradbury who wrote the tunes for ‘Tis Midnight and on Olive’s Brow, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, He Leadeth Me, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, and many more.

Here are Ana’s original words:

Jesus loves me! this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is strong.

Jesus loves me! loves me still, tho I’m very weak and ill, that I might from sin be free, bled and died upon the tree.

Jesus loves me! He who died heaven’s gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! He will stay close beside me all the way. Thou hast bled and died for me; I will henceforth live for Thee.

Chorus: Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.


Sunday Morning Sermon
June 11, 2017
John McKeel

A World Full of Fakes

It seems artificial everything fills our modern world. There are faux furs, artificial meats, and surrogates without number. That may be true all around us, but it should never be true in church. When I mention “hypocrite,” the first synonym to come to mind shouldn’t be “Christian”!

What About Me?

I am sure that every true child of God will sometimes wonder, if he or she isn’t really a hypocrite, so this morning we’re going to look at the marks of hypocrisy, take a moment to count the cost of hypocrisy and then we’ll close with a biblical cure for hypocrisy.

The Marks of Hypocrisy

No one talks more about hypocrisy than Jesus. He devoted a major part of the Sermon on the Mount to warnings about hypocrisy (Matthew 6) and the most caustic chapter in the gospels contains the Lord’s condemnation of hypocrites (Mathew 23).

The first mark of hypocrisy is the contrast between a hypocrite’s words and his deeds.

Matthew 23:1 – 3

Seven Kinds of a Pharisee:

  1. Wait-a-little Pharisee
  2. Humped Back Pharisee
  3. Shoulders Pharisee
  4. Ever-reckoning Pharisee
  5. Bruised and Bleeding Pharisee
  6. God-fearing Pharisee
  7. Son of Abraham

The second concerns his motivations for goodness: whenever he does right, it is done to be seen by others.

  1. Matthew 6:1-4
  2. A corollary to this concern is the hypocrites’ religion depends on time and place.

Finally, hypocrites “major in minors.”

  1. Strain out a gnat, Matthew 23:24
  2. They are generally more severe with others than they are with themselves.

The Costs of Hypocrisy

Have you ever considered the advantages of being a hypocrite? They generally have honor and respect – all the advantages of being a good Christian man or woman – until the truth comes out (and it will).

  1. Fear of being found out.
  2. The “Disquietude of Conscience.”
  3. The Anger of God

“Mr. Hypocrite, I see an item here which you usually forget, it is this—that despite of your profession God abhors you, and if there is one man more than another who stinks in the nostrils of Jehovah, it is such as thou art—thou miserable pretender. There shall be a special place reserved for thee amongst the damned.” — Charles Spurgeon (1859)

The Cure for Hypocrisy

The sad thing about hypocrisy is that it is the last sin we suspect ourselves of, and yet it is one of the easiest to fall into.

Note: it is not our task to look around and spot the hypocrites! That is God’s business.

The only way you can play the hypocrite is by forgetting this one fact: God is watching.

  1. Is God watching to catch us in the act?
  2. Or is God watching to praise us?

Be authentic!

  1. Humility
  2. Obedience
  3. Transparency


A Trip to the Grocery Store

Spring TimeJan sent me to the grocery store the other day to buy apples. That seems like a simple, straight forward task, but when I arrived at the produce isle, I was confronted with a chaotic world swirling with choices. First, did I want organic or regular apples? Did I need red or golden delicious; gala, jazz, pink lady, honey crisp? Domestic or imported? In despair, I fled to the potato chip aisle, but that was even worse! Kettle, ridges, Pringles, sea salt, cracked pepper, salt and vinegar … I backed into the cereal aisle and had a complete meltdown. “Clean up on aisle 13!”

Why can’t life be simple? On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he prayed, may my disciples “be one as we are one,” (John 17:13). Sadly, the number of different varieties of Christian denominations is now measured in the tens of thousands. There are more flavors of Christians than there are flavors of ice cream! Why can’t we all be one as Jesus wanted?

“Well John, it’s not as easy as it sounds,” the Rev. Blowhard announces. “You see theology and dogma are complicated subjects full of subtle nuances.”

Suzy Simpleheart suggests, “Let’s just get everyone together and sort it out! We could have a worldwide conference and reform our faith until we all agreed.” But, it made international news a few years ago when the Roman Catholic pope crossed himself according to the Greek Orthodox practice in the interests of unity. That didn’t last long. Now imagine the stir that would follow asking the Calvinists to drop a letter out of their famous acronym, TULIP.

“What if we asked God to reveal which church is the true church in a blinding light?” asked Mike Moroni.

The answer is, God already has revealed the answer. He gave us the Bible. Why not just follow it, instead of being this flavor or that? Why not just be “Christians”?

A wise man, over two hundred years ago, set a slim denominational creed book beside a Bible and noted, “If it’s smaller than the Bible, they must have left something out.” And then he set the Bible beside an encyclopedic set of theological books and observed, “If it’s bigger than the Bible, they must have added something to it.” He then asked, “Why not just follow the Bible?”

Perhaps that’s too simple, but why don’t we give it a try? Let’s just be Christians and just follow the Bible.


John McKeel
Sunday Morning Sermon
June 4, 2017

When did the world become so complex?

“God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising,” (Ecclesiastes 7:39, JB).

  • Duplicity: Our lives are made complex by trying to hold on to two competing values.
    1. Like Lot’s wife, we can’t decide where we want to be or what we want.
    2. James coined the term dipsuche to describe that pitiful state (James 1:2-8).
  • The results of duplicity are:
    1. Worry
    2. Confusion
    3. Helplessness

The Virtue of Simplicity

  • Don’t reduce simplicity to a set of outward actions, James 4:8.
  • We find the virtue of simplicity by becoming single-minded.
  1. Single-minded devotion to Christ, Matthew 6:25-33.
  2. Single-minded conviction based on God’s Word, John 9:25.
  3. Single-minded ministry, Philippians 3:13.
  • People who are committed to the simple life will…
  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
  2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction.
  3. Develop the habit of giving things away.
  4. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  5. Develop a deeper appreciation of the creation.
  6. Beware of “buy now, pay later” slavery to credit.
  7. Cultivate simplicity of dress and speech and life.

Simple Church

The church is not immune from complexity. There are over 9,000 denominations in the world today and I find that terribly disturbing!

So how can we simplify things? Perhaps we need to discover the cause of our divisions.

  • Our traditions divide us.
  • Our written creeds divide us.
  • Our un-written creeds divide us.
  • So-called “new revelations” divide us.
  • What we need to do is go back to the source!
    1. In 2005, Israeli scientists announced to the world, a Judean Date Palm – a tree long thought extinct – had just germinated.
    2. The Apostle Peter reminds us, 1 Peter 1:23 – 25,

You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable,
through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Some Things to Think About

  1. What keeps us from living our dreams?
  2. When does something go from being an entertainment to becoming a distraction?
  3. Why makes life so complicated anyway?
  4. Why is it so hard to say “No”?