Gluttony: It’s Not What You Think

“Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony,” —  Proverbs 23:2

What’s For Dinner?
Numbers 11:4 – 6)

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

Have you ever had a “strong craving”? We must eat to live, but gluttony is living to eat.

The greatest hurdle to understanding gluttony is to think it only pertains to food. Some people can’t have enough toys, television, entertainment, sex, or company. It is about an excess of anything.

The Day It Rained Quail
Numbers 11:31 – 32

Before we move on, let’s read the rest of the story. God taught the Israelites a lesson in response to their complaints!

Then a wind from the LORD sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers*. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 

* A homer is about 221 liters! Multiply that by 10!

Where do sinful cravings come from?

James explained:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death, (James 1:13 – 15).

James is talking specifically about temptions. Perhaps a modern word for gluttony should be “addiction.”

Our cravings/temptations may come from stress, but whatever a temptation, we are very good at justifying our actions. “I deserve it.” “I earned it.” “God will forgive me.” “She will understand.”

What’s Your Trigger? 

What are some of the schemes of the devil that lead us into overindulgence?

  1. Returning to the scene of the crime If you don’t want to get drunk, don’t go to the party!
  2. False Memories Over time, it’s easy to forget pain and only think about the pleasure.
  3. If it’s there, I’ll eat it.
  4. There’s more where that came from. Do you remember the -Pringle’s commerical? “Bet you can’t eat just one!”
  5. Nature abhors a vacuum Put something good in it’s place.
  6. Stress Scientists tell us “Daily stress can cripple the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s executive function, such as concentration, planning, and judgment.”

The cure for Gluttony lies in deliberately reducing our use of pleasurable things, not in eliminating them. When eating, quit before feeling stuffed. When snacking, don’t snack mindlessly — quit. With people, enjoy their company, but make sure you have some time alone.

*PEWSLAG: pride, envy, wrath (anger), sloth, lust, avarice (greed), gluttony

Some Things to Think About

Knowledge

What are some synonyms for gluttony?

  1. What does Paul mean when he says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.?
  2.  Addictions rewire our brains. This makes it very difficult to overcome an addiction. How do people do it?
  3. What role does the church and fellowship play in helping people overcome addictions?
  4. How does the Holy Spirit help us wrestle with addiction?

Attitude

There are two schools of thought in overcoming an addiction. One says you need to distance yourself from the addiction and anybody else who has suffered from it lest you be tempted. The other says you must “own your addiction” by admitting you are powerless to resist. These people form support groups. What do you think?

Action

One of the most important elements of prayer is confession. Try to become more confessional in prayer this week.

Guarding Against Greed

PEWSLAG*: The Seven Deadly Sins
Luke 12:13 – 21

John McKeel

Talking About Money

It’s a common belief among outsiders that all preachers ever talk about is money. That’s certainly not true at GCC, but maybe it should be. If there was a modern idol competing for our devotion, it just might be the almighty dollar.

Money is not the source of all evil (that honor goes to the love of money, 1 Timothy 6:10), but it certainly is the cause for a great deal of unhappiness.

The Younger Brother’s ­Dilemma

In Luke 12:13 – 21, a young man turned to Jesus for help. The inheritance laws in those days seemed unjust (see Deuteronomy 21:17). However, Jesus could see the young man’s heart and used this as an opportunity to teach us about possessions: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed….” (v. 14).

The common stereotype for the sin of greed is the old mizer sitting in his vault counting out his coins, but that has not been my experience.

In a list of spiritual gifts, the Apostle Paul includes giving as one of the gifts. (Romans 12:3 – 8). Obviously, before one can give, they must first have.

The sin of greed is related to eros, the desire to possess. It is an appetite that must be guarded against.

The Parable of the Rich Fool

Jesus continues to teach by telling the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16 – 21). There are two things to note about the Rich Fool: first, he never saw beyond himself. He was the center of his universe. Greed by its very definition is selfish.

Second, the rich fool never saw beyond this life. The Bible reminds us, we will leave this world the same way we came into it:

There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, … As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand, (Ecclesiastes 5:13, 15).

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ( Job 1:21).

The New Idolatry

Have you ever asked yourself, “What does money mean to me?” For some the answer is freedom. For others its prestige, and for still others, money is power. The Apostle Paul explains,  greed is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5).

What Can We Do?

The Parable of the Rich Fool teaches us greed is selfish. It turns our focus in on ourselves. Therefore, the cure is an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude turns our focus outward, to others.

True worship, because it also is an expression of gratitude, can help us guard against greed.

The Apostle John summarizes what should be our attitude:

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth, (1 John 3:17, 18).

*PEWSLAG: pride, envy, wrath (anger), sloth, lust, avarice (greed), gluttony

 

Variety in Prayer

October — A Month of Prayer

Sunday Morning Sermon
October 15, 2017
John McKeel

Have you walked down the aisles of the grocery store lately? How many different kinds of cereal can you chose from? How many different types of chips are there? We love variety – and the interesting thing is, so does God. So why does our prayer life often seem so “vanilla”?

Adoration

Our relationship with God is a lifetime of discovery. Prayers of adoration celebrate our many faceted God.

  • Example: Solomon’s prayer at the Dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8. 

Confession

As we discover God, we naturally discover we are not God. We are sinners and no prayer is more honest than a prayer of confession.

  • Example: David’s psalm of confession, Psalm 32 

Thanksgiving

The most common Christian name for God is “Father.” The Holy Spirit within us cries “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6 – see Romans 8:15; Mark 14:36). Fathers excel at gift giving and our heavenly Father is no exception. Think about all that He provides and give thanks! Examples:

  • Matthew 6:25 ff.
  • 1 Chronicles 16

Supplication

Without question, this is our most common prayer and it is a proper prayer but often betrays a lack of wisdom and maturity on our part.

  1. We tend to make plans and then ask God’s blessings.
  2. We pray to change God’s will. We need to learn the lesson of Christ.
  • “Your will be done on earth,”
  • “Let this cup pass,”
  1. So how should we pray?
  • Honestly!
  • Conversationally
  • Thank God, He is in control!
  • Ask for comfort.
  • Ask for understanding, James 1; Solomon’s prayer 1 Kings 3

Some Things to Think About

Knowledge

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

  1. Describe each of the varieties of prayer that Paul mentions to Timothy.
  2. What was the goal of these prayers?
  3. How many other kinds of prayers can you think of?

Attitude

  • What is the purpose of prayer?

Action

  • Begin keeping a Prayer Journal.

Learning to Listen

October — A Month of Prayer

Sunday Morning Sermon
October 15, 2017
Mark 4:35 – 41; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2
John McKeel

 “Be still, and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” — Habakkuk 2:20

All Pervasive NOISE

We might chuckle at the phrase “noise pollution,” but it is all around us. Who hasn’t been woken in the middle of the night by somebody on a motorcycle? Stop for just a moment and listen. We are surrounded by noise, but it is nothing compared to the noise that goes on inside of our heads!

Sleeping in the Back of the Boat

Jesus was exhausted. It was the end of a very long day of teaching and preaching and he just needed to get away from it all. At evening, he got in a boat and told his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” Then he fell asleep so soundly that even a hurricane[1] couldn’t wake him. Have you ever wondered how that was possible? (Mark 4:30-34)

Two Kinds of Quiet

Timothy was the Apostle Paul’s protégé (Acts 16:1-5) and when young Timothy became the new evangelist for the church in Ephesus, the apostle sent a letter to him and the church there explaining how Christians should behave as a church.

Prayer is so important, Paul told them to think about it “first of all,” but what should we pray for? Paul’s answer guides us too. “… that we may live peaceful and quiet lives.”

Peaceful Life

Let’s think about “peace.” In the Bible, peace doesn’t mean the absence of conflict. It means, God is in control. Do you really believe that?

God is in control and that’s how it should be. Smile quietly to yourself because you know, behind all the noise and chaos we call “life,” God is sitting on His throne and everything is going to be okay. That’s peace!”

Quiet Life

The second word Paul uses to describe what we should pray for is “quiet.” We need “peaceful and quiet lives.” Alas, this word has been sorely abused by English translations. For example, just a few verses later many translations announce women “must be silent,” but this is the very same word translated “quiet” in verses 2 and 11!

No, Paul isn’t commanding the women to “shut up” (see Mark 1:25 for that word), but he is agreeing with Peter who teaches that true beauty is a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4) – something God highly values in all of us.

You can’t make yourself be quiet any more than a gardener can make a plant grow or a sailor can call the wind. Quiet is something you cultivate or capture. For most people, it is a blessing that is just out of reach, but only because we don’t take the time to nurture this special virtue.

Putting It All Together

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Focus on God and “count your many blessings.” God loves us – that never changes. Now we can pray – commune with our heavenly Father!

[1] Mark 4:37 “a furious squall” NIV, but lailaps literally refers to a hurricane or whirlwind.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

First Sunday/First Principles

Sunday Morning Sermon
October 1, 2017
Luke 11:1 – 13
John McKeel

Prayer

Prayer is as old as man, as universal as religion and as instinctive as breathing. It is practiced in some form by men of all faiths. Prayer springs from the heart with a need. It is man’s acknowledgement of a Being greater than himself and yet, I dare say, most of our prayer lives are sadly deficient.

The average Korean minister spends three hours every day in prayer. The average American minister spends eight minutes. Most of us spend more time brushing our teeth rather than grooming our souls.

“I don’t have time to pray.”

  1. When a family member becomes critically ill, we suddenly have time to pray.
  2. Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, had nineteen children! But she found time to pray.

The Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.

  1. Curiously, this is the only thing they specifically asked Jesus to teach them.
  2. There are many kinds of prayers in the world, but they tend to be:
    • Ritualized
    • Prescribed
    • Long
    • Meaningless repetition
    • Prayers that were to impress men rather than express their heart felt needs
  3. Perhaps the followers of John and the Pharisees each had their own “brand” of prayer.
  4. What was it that impressed these hard-working men about the prayers of Jesus?

The Model Prayer

“He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

Jesus, Luke 11:2-4

Beginning with God

  1. Jesus us taught us that prayer begins with a relationship: God is our Father.
    • This dispels fear
    • Encourages hope
    • Removes loneliness
    • Provides resources (Ephesians 1:3)
    • Demands obedience.
  2. “Hallowed be your name”
    • “There is a sense in which we should take our shoes off our feet whenever we use the name,” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
    • God’s name stands for his whole being.
    • The prayer to hallow God’s name means to make him known to the whole world.
  3. “Your kingdom come”
    • Some people have argued that this prayer is no longer relevant since the Kingdom has already come.
    • The truth is “Yes” and “No” (see Hebrews 2:5-9).

Relying on God

  1. “Give us each day our daily bread”
  2. “Forgive us our sins”
    • Our forgiveness isn’t conditional.
    • It is a condition of asking God — God will hear our prayers because we listen to him.
  3. “Lead us not into temptation”
    • God doesn’t tempt us, James 1:13
    • It is a prayer that we will not succumb to temptation.
    • It is a prayer that God lead us through temptation.

Excuses

After giving us the model prayer, Jesus deals with two big excuses: “God’s mind is already made up so why pray?” (vv. 5-10) and the unspoken belief that God is actually very harsh and unapproachable (vv. 11-13).

  1. “God’s mind is already made up – that’s why we pray ‘Thy will be done.’”
    • Jesus taught God’s door is never closed (vv. 5-8).
    • This view limits God!
      1. One of God’s laws is “gravity” and yet airplanes fly.
      2. Further, God doesn’t just set one door before us, He loves us so much that he places many opportunities in front of us.
    • There is a corollary that turns lack of prayer into an act of faith: don’t pray, endure! Yet the same person will visit a doctor when they are ill or put on a coat when it is cold.
  2. “God is actually very harsh and unapproachable.” To which Jesus responds, “God is our Father” (v. 11-13)

Conclusion

Prayer is actually the expression of a relationship. How is your relationship with God?

Anger

PEWSLAG – The Seven Deadly Sins

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 24, 2017
Ephesians 4:20 – 32
John McKeel

Introduction

  1. Batsell Barett Baxter once wrote, “Of the four major destructive emotions, fear, guilt, hostility, and failure, hostility is the worst.”
  2. What causes so much anger in our world?
    • Depersonalization–Do you ever feel like you are just a number in someone’s account list? Are you just another computer card? We have social security numbers, phone numbers, claim numbers, zip codes, addresses, accounts and the list goes on. Sometimes it makes you want to scream!
    • Selfishness–“I have my rights!” is the war-cry of our age. We have become very independent and very mobile. Can you name all of your neighbors? In the next ten years the average American household will move three times. Do you ever get the feeling that you are all alone? That if no one else cares about me, then I’d better watch out for myself?

5 Stages of Anger

  1. Mild Irritation. Things don’t go just the way we intended them to; we are stuck in traffic or the mower won’t start or the three-year-old has just sung, “I’ve been working on the railroad” for the fifteenth time and we become irritated.
  2. Indignation. We make a judgement about someone or something and we become indignant. However, we are still able to keep our tongue under control.
  3. We you can no longer be silent, the anger becomes “wrath.” Wrath always expresses itself.
  4. When anger becomes violent, then it becomes fury.
  5. When one completely loses control, anger reaches the last and most destructive stage, “blind rage.”

What does the Bible teach about anger?

  1. Anger is a God-given emotion that everyone feels and it is an important part of being a human being.
  2. As such, anger is not necessarily sinful.
    • In fact, God becomes angry (The phrase, “the anger of the Lord” appears 18 times in the Old Testament).
    • Jesus himself became angry while he lived in Judea (Mark 3:5).
  3. However, there are times when anger is wrong.
    • It can disqualify a man from serving as an elder (Titus 1:7). Aristotle said, “quick-tempered persons lose no time being angry, and do so with those they ought not, over things they ought not, and far more than they ought” (BAG).
    • Jesus taught that anger prepared a person for the fires of hell, Matthew 5:21-24!
    • Fathers are to be very careful not to cause their children to become bitter, the fruit of an angry childhood, Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21.
  4. There are times when anger is the proper response, 2 Corinthians 7:10,11.
  5. In other words, a Christian must learn the answers to three questions:
    • What should I become angry about?
    • What safeguards should my anger have?
    • How can I express my anger?

What should I get angry about?

  1. The New Testament teaches that God is angered by:
    • Sin, Eph. 5:5,6.; Col. 3:5,6.
    • People who hid the knowledge of God, Rom. 1:18.
    • People who reject his Son, John 3:36.
    • Stubbornness and rebellion, Romans 2:5-8.
  2. The Bible teaches us to ignore petty disagreements, Proverbs 19:11, and to refrain from close association with angry people, Proverbs 22:24,25.
  3. It also warns us that our tongues can fan a spark into a flame of anger, James 1:19.
  4. The Scriptures teach us to cultivate honesty in our communications and thus avoid arguments that lead to anger, Ephesians 4:25.

What safeguards should my anger have?

  1. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” Eph. 4:26. Brooding over wrongs only leads to bitterness and if couples go to sleep “back to back” watch out when morning comes!
  2. “Don’t give the devil an opportunity,” Eph. 4:27. While there are some good reasons to become “righteously indignant,” remember Satan can quickly turn your godly anger into unrighteous rage!
  3. The Biblical answer is confession.
    • First to yourself, “I am angry and here are the reasons why.”
    • Then to God, “Lord, should I be angry and if so how can I express it constructively?”
    • Finally, to the offender in the spirit of loving concern–never vengeance (Romans 12:19).

 

Envy

PEWSLAG – The Seven Deadly Sins

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 17, 2017
1 Samuel 18:6 – 9
John McKeel

Envy will Eat You Up

“Envy is the desire to have what another person has,” Tony Campolo. It is not simply a longing to have the same kind of thing the other person has; the envious person wants to strip another of something in order to possess it completely and solely (Proverbs 14:30).

Do you remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)?

The Problem with Envy

“Love does not envy or boast,” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Envy is a pervasive sin.

“A convincing case can be made that the entire free enterprise system is fueled by envy,” – Henry Stein, Ethics (and Other Liabilities), 1982

“We worship success but we really don’t like the successful. We are envious of them,” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Envy Expressed

  1. Envy expresses itself in all walks of life.
    • Children want other children to envy their toys.
    • Adults engage in “conspicuous consumption.”
    • People marry a “trophy spouse.”
    • The desire for envy often leads to overspending and consequent marital conflict. (Disagreements over money is the most often cited cause for divorce.)
  2. Envy is a major cause of unhappiness and self-contempt.
    • The man who covets another man’s wife becomes discontented with his own.
    • The student who envies another’s grades underestimates his own abilities.
    • The woman who envies another woman’s appearance becomes a supporter of a cultural system that diminishes her own value and encourages her own unhappiness.
    • Envy diminishes people’s enjoyment of life because they cannot be content with what they have.

 Overcoming Envy

  1. The root of envy is doubting God. We need to understand, God wills the very best for you!
    • We may think we need something else but God knows what we really need!
    • Why did Cain kill Abel? Envy!
  2. Consider Moses (Numbers 11:16 – 30) or John the Baptist: “He must increase …” (John 3:30).

Wisdom conquers envy.

  1. Other people have made different choices than you, but that doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice.
  2. Perhaps, there is something in your own life that needs to change.
  3. Understand what truly makes you happy.
  4. Know that there are different seasons of life.
  5. Take a “reality check.”
  6. Ask if you are using technology wisely.
  7. Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”

Pride

PEWSLAG – The Seven Deadly Sins

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 10, 2017
Matthew 23:1 – 12
John McKeel

Arrogance v. Excellence

Savanarola, the great Florentine preacher of the fifteenth century, one day saw an elderly woman worshiping at the statue of Mary which stood in his city’s great cathedral. On the following day, he noticed the same woman again on her knees before the [statue]. With great interest, Savanarola observed that day after day, she came and did homage before the statue.
“Look how she reverences the [statue of Mary],” Savanarola whispered to one of his fellow priests.
“Don’t be deceived by what you see,” the priest responded. “Many years ago an artist was commissioned to create a statue for the cathedral. As he sought a young woman to pose as the model for his sculpture, he found one who seemed to be the perfect subject. She was young, serenely lovely and had a mystical quality in her face. The image of that young woman inspired his statue of Mary. The woman who now worships the statue is the same one who served as its model years ago. Shortly after the statue was put in place, she began to visit it and has continued to worship there religiously ever since.”                                                              —Tony Campolo, 7 Deadly Sins, p. 74

We teach our children to be proud meaning we want them to strive for excellence, but there is a sinful pride that is at the root of many sins. Sinful pride is arrogant. It is the sin of exalting oneself and placing one’s own interests above those of others. Pride craves admiration and even adoration, and will not share the limelight. Rather, Christians should:

“…give preference to one another in honor,” (Romans 12:10).

“…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave,” (Matthew 20:26, 27).

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips,” (Proverbs 27:2).

The Problem with Pride

  1. Pride is a primary barrier to salvation. It makes it difficult for people to accept grace, 2 Kings 5:1-14.
  2. Pride infects Christians in a variety of ways that can spoil their commitment to Christ.
    • “Look at what I have done!”
    • Matthew 6:1-18
  3. Pride mars many ministries.
  4. Pride keeps us from knowing the truth about ourselves.
    • A prideful person will never be able to face those facets of their lives that are evil and need repentance, 1 John 1:9.
    • Christianity delivers us from the dishonesty that stems from pride.
  5. Pride ruins relationships.
    • We would rather have people admire the selves we pretend to be than to love the selves we really are.
    • Pride often acts as a barrier to reconciliation.
    • Parental pride can lead to the destruction of their children.
  6. Pride can destroy a nation. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18).

Deliverance from Pride

The children worked long and hard on their own little cardboard shack. It was to be a special spot—a clubhouse—when they could meet in in solemn assembly or just laugh, play games, and fool around. As they thought long and hard about their rules, they came up with three rather perceptive ones:
1. Nobody act big.
2. Nobody act small.
3. Everybody act medium.
Just “act medium.” Believable, honest, human, thoughtful and down-to-earth”
—Charles Swindol, Seasons, p. 234

The solution is to develop a healthy humility, but we often confuse humility with humiliation. Humility enhances our humanity and makes us more like Christ, whereas humiliation diminishes our humanity and tempts us to forget that we are made in the image of God. Healthy humility is the recognition that God has imparted to each of us, by his grace, a gift which makes us greater on the inside than most people will ever know.

So how can we be truly humble? By looking to God and cultivating an “attitude of gratitude.” That means it’s important to remember who we were “B.C.” – “before Christ” came into our lives (1 Timothy 1:15 – 17).

Sin

First Sunday/First Principles

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 3, 2017
John McKeel

Calvin Coolidge was the 30th president of the United States. He was known as a man of few words and one Sunday his wife Grace was ill and Calvin went to worship by himself. When he returned, Grace wanted to know all about the service.

“What was the topic of the preacher’s sermon?” she asked.

His answer was typically brief: “Sin.”

Not satisfied, Grace tried to pry more out of Calvin. “And what did he say about sin?” she asked.

“He was against it.”

What is Sin?

Obviously, the Scriptures have a great deal to say about sin and there are many different descriptive words for it:

  1. The most common term for sin, hamartia (αμαρτια), literally means “missing the mark,” and thus “failure, sin,” Romans 3:23.
  2. We might miss the mark because we are “ignorant” (agnoma αγνοημα) Hebrews 9:7.
  3. Or because we are “lawless” (anomia ανομια) Matthew 7:23; 13:41; 23:28; 24:12; Romans 6:19.
  4. Many people simply have no time for God or religion (asebia ασεβεια “Ungodliness, impiety”); Romans 1:18; 11:26…
  5. As a result, they are “defective,” something is missing from their life (attama ηττημα) Romans 11:12; 1 Corinthians 6:7.
  6. There are lines and boundaries but if you step over them, you have “transgressed” (parabasis παραβασις) Romans 4:15; 5:14; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2.
  7. If you break the law it is called paranomia (παρανομια) 2 Peter 2:16.
  8. Sin can also be described as a “misdeed, false step, blunder” (paraptoma παραπτωμα) Matthew 6:14, 15; Romans 5:15 ff.
  9. Some sin comes from not listening or paying attention (parakoa παρακοη) Romans 5:19; Hebrews 2:2

Omission/Commission

Then there are so many different ways to sin! Sometimes we actively sin – these are sins of commission, but sometimes we sin because we fail to act: sins of omission.

PEWSLAG

This can all be very confusing – even overwhelming so an early Christian teacher boiled it down to an acronym: PEWSLAG and called them the “Seven Deadly Sins,” not because they were particularly evil, but because they are “gateway sins” that lead on to worse.

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Wrath (Anger)
  4. Sloth
  5. Lust
  6. Avarice (Greed)
  7. Gluttony

What are the consequences of sin?

  1. Alienation from God (Mark 7:21-23)
  2. Bondage to Self

What is the solution for sin?

Some Things to Think About

Knowledge

A Google search for “sin” yields over 2,600,000,000 results! How do you describe sin?

John introduced several different definitions for sin and seven different kinds of sin. Which one seems to trip you up the most?

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Wrath (Anger)
  4. Sloth
  5. Lust
  6. Avarice (Greed)
  7. Gluttony 

Attitude

  1. A Google search for “sin” yields over 2,600,000,000 results!
  2. He also talked about the difference between sins of omission and commission. Think of an example of each.
  3. Which kind of sin is harder for you to overcome?
  4. Why is God so concerned about our behavior?
  5. Is there such a thing as “victimless sin”? Why or why not?
  6. How does sin harm the sinner?

Action

  • What is the solution for sin? (Explain why.)

Ask, Seek, Knock

Sunday Morning Sermon
August 27, 2017
Matthew 7:7 – 11
John McKeel

Did you ever play the “wishes game” when you were a child? You know it. You pretend you are walking along the beach and find a bottle with a magic genie. He pops out of the bottle and grants you three wishes. What would you wish for?

When we listen to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7, is that too a fairy tale? Does God really answer prayer?

When God says, “No.”

The fact of the matter is, sometimes God says “No.”

  • Does that mean He doesn’t exist?
  • Or worse, does that mean He doesn’t care?
  • Or does God expect us to beg? Luke 18:1 – 4.

Why does God say “No”?

  • Sometimes our requests would hurt us.
  • Sometimes we just want an easy way out.
  • Sometimes there is a greater purpose at stake.

Five Prayer Principles

  1. God knows best. The purpose of prayer is not to change God but to change ourselves – to align our wills with the will of God. Do you remember the first part of Jesus’ model prayer?

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:9, 10).

  1. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. Don’t pray for enlightenment in order to skip the hard work of study. Rather, as you study ask God for understanding (James 1:5).
  2. Prayer moves within the natural laws that govern life. Bad things do happen to good people. Prayer gives us the power to thrive in the midst of adversity (Romans 5:3 ff.).
  3. We must be definite in prayer. Jesus warned us to avoid meaningless phrases and endless repetition (Matthew 6:7, 8). Prayer is not a mantra!
  4. We must be honest in prayer. We can’t lie to God and we shouldn’t lie to ourselves. That’s why confession is such a critical part of prayer.

Ask

The promise is, God will give us what we ask for.

  1. Some people look around for the hidden camera, laugh and walk away!
  2. Some people foolishly wish for more stuff to clutter their already busy lives.
  3. God is not a «Cosmic Vending Machine»! Do you remember the old Janis Joplin song «Mercedes Bentz»?
  4. So what would you ask for? What should you ask for? Consider the example of Solomon (1 Kings chapter 3).

Seek

A great deal of our literature and mythology is devoted to the “Quest” – knights set out on noble missions. Are you ready to begin your quest?

  1. Some people sit around the living room and dream about going on a quest. They might read about it. They might get out the maps and plan routes and draw up lists of the things they would need, but they never actually set out.
  2. Other people give up too soon. These words are present imperatives. That simply means we need to “keep on asking … keep on seeking … keep on knocking.” (See the International Standard Bible among others.)
  3. Perhaps what hinders us is just knowing where to begin. Jesus told us what to “seek first …” (Matthew 6:33)

Knock

How many people miss out because they don’t have the courage to go knock on the door? How many opportunities are missed because it just seems too good to be true.

Conclusion

Matthew 7:7 is a beautiful promise, so what is required to make it come true?

  1. Lord help me see your purpose.
  2. Lord, you are Lord!
  3. Rejoice, even in the face of suffering.
    • Our joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances.
    • Hebrews 12:2
    • James 1:2, 3

Asking means admitting we need help. Seeking means asking plus effort. Knocking means asking plus effort plus persistence and it all starts with a step.

Some Things to Think About

Knowledge

  1. “Ask and you will receive” … Is that always true? (Think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. What did he ask for and what did he receive?)
  2. “Seek and you will find” … What should we be seeking?
  3. “Knock and the door will be opened” … What door is Jesus talking about?
  4. What do these three actions (ask, seek, knock) have in common?

 Attitude

  1. What are some of the reasons people don’t ask, seek, or knock?
  2. God knows what we need, and, as a good Father he provides what we need, so why does God want us to ask?
  3. What will move us from thinking about going on a quest (seeking) and actually going?
  4. Grammatically, the three verbs (ask, seek, knock) are present imperatives. That means we are to “keep on asking, seeking and knocking.” Why do some people give up early?
  5. How will asking, seeking, and knocking, change us?

Action

  • Write a list of five things to ask God for. Pray over this list every day.