From the publisher's jacket notes, "In God of Justice, David Leininger sets the record straight with a new look at this ancient document. He examines the commandments in the context of today's social, cultural, and political environment -- and he concludes that rather than the traditional view of them as ironclad laws, the commandments are actually God's policy statements about what is the bedrock of a good, decent, and just society.
When properly understood, the commandments offer God's guidance in establishing a healthy way of life that is rewarding for everyone. With discussion questions included for each chapter, God of Justice is an excellent study resource for adult classes -- and clear and accessible reading that will be stimulating and rewarding for any thoughtful Christian. Prior to reading the sermon, check the Numbers passage for a historical perspective on the Jewish Sanhedrin of which Nicodemus was a member and then from John's gospel the story of Nicodemus' night time visit with Jesus.
With that as a backdrop we consider this special day According to a study, "Effective Christian Education is the most powerful single influence congregations have on 'maturity of faith. It comes up at St. Andrew by the Sea United Methodist on November In preparation, we look back at the way Israel gathered in the tithe with an annual celebration in the hope that we can recover that same joyous spirit in modern giving. The pastor is tired of hearing sermons about starving kids. Everyone resonates to the idea that we can have a roadmap of the future.
But is that a proper understanding of the scriptural material? The unofficial beginning of summer is a time, not only for rest and relaxation, but for remembrance. The lesson from Joshua is the story of a biblical instruction to establish a memorial. In the ancient church, this was known as Laetare Sunday from the Latin word for Rejoice.
Is there reason to rejoice in the midst of a season of self-examination and introspection? This is not a new issue and we are reminded of that from Scripture. Her name is Naomi. A sermon for Mothers' Day.
What began with tragedy ended with Well, you'll just have to check it out. We listen again to the story of one of scripture's best known Moms, Hannah - the mother of Samuel. Morning worship is heavily oriented toward music and the pastor's meditation recalls the therapeutic value of music in the life of Israel's first king. But there is "gospel" here. Combine that with the week's Epistle lesson and we learn something about the way the church is called to act in times of conflict.
Modern leaders would do well to pray the same prayer. A meditation for the Service of Prayer and Remembrance. Part of the puzzle is the wonder that Job shares with many of us in times of trouble: Our nation honors and remembers with humble gratitude the sacrifice made on our behalf by so many through the years. The inevitable question arises when we consider the horrible loss endured: The story of Job teaches us some lessons in offering care and compassion.
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A sermon for Friendship Month at St. A meditation in preparation for a celebration of the Lord's Supper. How we see things in life is a matter of perspective. Whether it be the stages of life such as the one seen by our graduates whom we honor this week or the church as, through the centuries we have tried to articulate our understandings of God, or personally, as we reflect on our relationships with God and one another, what we see depends upon the vantage point from which we look.
The Psalmist understood that. The pastor's meditation recognizes the population milestone reached in America this week. The Psalmists did, and often. What is linked here is not a sermon but rather the reflection of a conversation between the pastor and the family of a young girl whose life was tragically ended.
They wrote their own Psalms of Lament for the occasion. We focus on one of the best known Lament psalms, "How long, O Lord The lesson this week offers the familiar phrasing of the psalmist in noticing the praise of God in nature. Psalm 23 , John Meet him in Psalm 23 and John We depart from the lectionary texts this week to focus on environmental concerns as the nation observes Earth Day on April 22nd.
Psalm 42 , Matthew We use money to measure wealth, to set value, to solve problems. However, in each case we are in danger of coming to wrong conclusions. The meditation is in preparation for the Imposition of the Ashes and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. But we find good news amidst the gloom and doom. It is a traditional time of repentence for our sin, but, in this day and age, sin is less thought of as a horror and offense against a Holy God than a mistake, an error in judgment, an accident. The Bible is not so sanguine on the subject. But juxtaposed against that is a life of great uncertainty for all of us, a time when our institutions, those entities in society upon which we have depended, our temples, are crashing down around us - not one stone left on another.
We are left with rubble and trouble. Paul's 40th birthday party proceeds, we consider the whole issue of getting older and hear the reminder that a recommitment to the basics will help us progress. Michael, the mighty warrior! But an old movie portrays Michael somewhat differently. Could there be something we might learn from this cinematic celestial? Are there such beings? What do they do? Do people really experience the presence of angels? What does the Bible say about angels?
What has the church historically said about angels? This sermon may not answer your every question about angels, but we trust it will take care of some. Psalm 98 , Ephesians 5: It has always included music. Psalm , I Thess. But in the face of the terrible tragedies that occur with all too much regularity, Thanksgiving for some folks is going to be difficult. How do we give thanks in the face of such events? How shall we pray? It is more than a future hope, it is a present reality. Is there a good way to go about it? We encounter that horrible memory as the news from the Middle East becomes ever more frightening.
Psalm , Ephesians 4: How can people of faith holding divergent views work together in the cause of God's Kingdom? He is in favor of expanding current research; the administration is opposed. Is there a "Christian" position on the issue? It offered a wonderful lesson as well. The psalmist is good enough to remind us that the one who holds the millennium is the one whom we worship. A sermon in preparation for the Lord's Supper. The sermon is not directed solely at graduates; instead it focuses on something we all could use more of at any age - wisdom. A sermon to celebrate the joy of Christ's resurrection victory.
We gather for what has become an annual rite of spring, the celebration of God's wonderful cosmic "joke" on sin and evil in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Song of Songs 2: How do the two relate? But most of us are not confronted with "scarlet" sins; they are mostly "gray. What are we to make of it? In a time in our nation when we are hearing religious references from all parts of the political spectrum, we consider what we hear from 28 centuries ago. This week we hear the call of Isaiah. What does God have in store? He must have been mesmerizing to have had the effect he did on all who encountered him.
The sermon is, for the most part, a monologue featuring John as he might have presented himself before the court of Herod following his arrest. Leininger was invited to preach for the occasion. Since he loves to do that, he was glad to accept. We read relevant portions of scripture and hear the marvelous music that speaks to us in ways nothing else can. The lessons are in the order that the congregation encounters them. As we gather again to remember Christ's Last Supper with his disciples and hear once more his words from the cross, we ask why.
Who is really responsible? As modern as tomorrow's newspaper, but as ancient as the Bible. As 1st century folks wrestled with calls to arms on one hand or urgings of "go along to get along" on the other, Jesus uses a story about a fig tree to note the danger of misplaced priorities. Leininger returns from the Presbyterian General Assembly meeting in Denver and brings his annual report on the workings of our larger church.
We begin our annual Lenten Journey with the Imposition of Ashes and the observance of the Lord's Supper and an uncomfortable look at the unvarnished truth about ourselves. But then comes Advent and the promise of a better world. Paul Presbyterian approaches its 40th birthday, we consider just what it means to be a "grown-up" Church. The lesson is the account of his call and it raises the question as to just what OUR call is. Sadly, the hope that was missing for them is in equally short supply in our own day. Paul Presbyterian's 38th birthday.
A sermon to help us look toward our future as we move toward the year An Ash Wednesday meditation. The grandiose statement of the Blues Brothers starts our thinking as we consider whom God uses to accomplish divine purposes. Scripture has good news for us, even when we get so down we can't remember up. In the context of this past week's celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, the prophet holds a mirror up in front of us and confronts us with an image we would rather not see.
So saying, there has been controversy concerning these planned gatherings with opposition coming from those who object to sharing worship across theological lines. How should we respond? The prophet Micah spoke to the issue years ago. Some blooms are spectacular, some more routine, but one offers a wonderful lesson for the church.
Leininger brings his report. Zephaniah 3 , Hebrews This week we encounter again the familiar story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The gospel record has him being greeted by a crowd waving palm branches. We wonder is there any word from the Lord in the midst of it all? Just what are we to understand about them? A meditation to conclude the annual observance of the Service of Lessons and Carols.
Under the circumstances, we might consider the birthday gifts we might offer our Savior. The Twelve Days of Christmas comes to a close with gifts, not of French hens or partridges in pear trees, but with the more traditional gold, frankincense and myrrh from a text that has been described as the whole gospel in a few short paragraphs. Christians have always known about that.
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While only two of the gospels report the birth of Jesus Christ, each of the four report his baptism. This week we encounter Jesus' words about repairing damaged relationships. But don't we need just a little? But our Lenten journey brings us to Jesus' words on the subject, words we might not want to hear. The Stewardship Committee has chosen a familiar campaign theme from the Sermon on the Mount to focus our attention, so the preaching this week reflects it. Today we encounter a besetting sin that is virtually universal in modern society - worry. How do we deal with the awful things that happen in our lives?
A sermon for Christ the King Sunday. Once again we encounter John the Baptist, this time the prisoner rather than the prophetic preacher, asking a question of Jesus that many through the centuries have echoed. But too few of us genuinely feel happy. How do we deal with that all too common phenomenon? A sermon in preparation for the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Sermons and lessons on the passage have traditionally insisted on the need to remain focused on Christ if we are going to avoid sinking in the storms of life.
But is this the lesson that the gospel writer wants to convey? We find a particularly troubling conversation in which Jesus appears to be uncompassionate, uncaring, almost mean! What does it mean to affirm Jesus as "Lord? Just what do we believe about Jesus? The Ten Commandments were written for Jews, not Christians! Israel had just been rescued from Egyptian slavery and was camped at the base of Mount Sinai.
If we were at the foot of Mount Sinai on that awesome day, we would be shaking in your boots-like everyone else. Why all the fireworks? Why the overwhelming manifestations of divine power? Why thunder, lightning, trumpet, smoke, and earthquake? The reason is simple.
Yes, they were Israelites — not Christians — gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai; but consider these solemn facts:. What about the New Testament? Does it present the Big Ten as still being in force today, or not? What saith the Lord? YOU don't have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you make most of is your god. Whatever you love more than God is your idol. Many a man's heart is like some Kafirs' huts, so full of idols that there is hardly room to turn around. Rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all classes of men and women are guilty of this sin.
He may forget the Giver and let his heart go out in adoration toward the gift. Many make a god of pleasure; that is what their hearts are set on. If some old Greek or Roman came to life again and saw man in a drunken debauch, would he believe that the worship of Bacchus had died out? If he saw the streets of our large cities filled with harlots, would he believe that the worship of Venus had ceased? Others take fashion as their god. They give their time and thought to dress. They fear what others will think of them. Do not let us flatter ourselves that all idolaters are in heathen countries.
With many it is the god of money. We haven't got through worshiping the golden calf yet. If a man will sell his principles for gold, isn't he making it a god? If he trusts in his wealth to keep him from want and to supply his needs, are not riches his god? Many a man says, "Give me money, and I will give you heaven. What care I for all the glories and treasures of heaven? Give me treasures here!
I don't care for heaven! I want to be a successful businessman. This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: There is the atheist. He says that he does not believe in God; he denies His existence, but he can't help setting up some other god in His place. Voltaire said, "If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent one.
Then there is the deist. He is a man who believes in one God who caused all things; but he doesn't believe in revelation. He only accepts such truths as can be discovered by reason. He doesn't believe in Jesus Christ, or in the inspiration of the Bible.
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Then there is the pantheist, who says: He is in the air, the water, the sun, the stars," the liar and the thief included. Let me call your attention to a verse in the thirty- second chapter of Deuteronomy, thirty-first verse: He had been with them forty years. He was their leader and instructor. All the blessings of heaven came to them through him. And now the old man is about to leave them. If you have never read his speech, do so.
It is one of the best sermons in print. I know few sermons in the Old or New Testament that compare with it. I can see Moses as he delivers this address. His natural activity has not abated. He still has the vigor of youth. His long white hair flows over his shoulders, and his venerable beard covers his breast. He throws down the challenge: Can pleasure or riches fill the soul that is empty of God? How about the atheist, the deist, the pantheist?
What do they look forward to? Man's life is full of trouble; but when the billows of affliction and disappointment are rising and rolling over them, they have no God to call upon. They shall "cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: Therefore I contend "their rock is not as our Rock. When I was settled in Chicago, I used to be called out to attend many funerals. I would inquire what the man was in his belief. If I found out he was an atheist, or a deist, or a pantheist, when I went to the funeral and in the presence of his friends, said one word about that man's doctrine, they would feel insulted.
Why is it that in a trying hour, when they have been talking all the time against God- why is it that in the darkness of affliction they call in believers in that God to administer consolation? Why doesn't the atheist preach no hereafter, no heaven, no God in the hour of affliction? This very fact is an admission that "their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. Is his rock as our Rock? The Bible is true. There is only one God.
How many men have said to me: Moody, I would give the world if I had your faith, your consolation, the hope you have with your religion. Some years ago I went into a man's house, and when I commenced to talk about religion he turned to his daughter and said: I want to say a few words to Mr. Would he have sent his daughter out if he really believed what he said? There is no satisfaction for the soul except in the God of the Bible.
We come back to Paul's words and get consolation for time and eternity: For though there be that are called gods, whether in Heaven or in Earth as there be gods many, and lords many , but to us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him; and one LORD Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him. Is all your hope centered on God in Christ?
Are you trusting Him alone? Are you ready to step into the scales and be weighed against this first commandment? God will not accept a divided heart. He must be absolute monarch. There is not room in your heart for two thrones. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Ye shall not serve" but "No man can serve.. It cannot be done. There is not room for any other throne in the heart if Christ is there. If worldliness should come in, godliness would go out.
The road to heaven and the road to hell lead in different directions. Which master will you choose to follow? Be an out-and-out Christian. Him only shall you serve. Only thus can you be well pleasing to God. The Jews were punished with seventy years of captivity because they worshiped false gods. They have suffered nineteen hundred years because they rejected the Messiah. Will you incur God's displeasure by rejecting Christ too?
He died to save you. Trust Him with your whole heart, for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. I believe that when Christ has the first place in our hearts- when the kingdom of God is first in everything- we shall have power, and we shall not have power until we give Him His rightful place. If we let some false god come in and steal our love away from the God of heaven, we shall have no peace or power.
The Second Commandment Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: The former commands us to worship God alone; this calls for purity and spirituality as we approach Him. The former condemns the worship of false gods; this prohibits false forms.
It relates more especially to outward acts of worship; but these are only the expression of what is in the heart. Perhaps you will say that there is no trouble about this weight. We might go off to other ages or other lands and find people who make images and bow down to them; but we have none here. Let us see if this is true. Let us step into the scales and see if we can turn them when weighed against this commandment. I believe this is where the battle is fought. Satan tries to keep us from worshiping God aright, and from making Him first in everything. If I let some image made by man get into my heart and take the place of God the Creator, it is a Sin.
I believe that Satan is willing to have us worship anything, however sacred- the Bible, the crucifix, the church- if only we do not worship God Himself. You cannot find a place in the Bible where a man has been allowed to bow down and worship anyone but the God of heaven and Jesus Christ His Son. In the book of Revelation when an angel came down to John, he was about to fall down and worship him, but the angel would not let him.
If an angel from heaven is not to be worshiped, when you find people bowing down to pictures, to images, even when they bow down to worship the cross, it is a sin. There are a great many who seem to be carried away with these things. I have no more doubt about the divinity of Christ than I have that I exist. Worship involves two things: We transgress in our hearts by having a wrong conception of God and of Jesus Christ before ever we give public expression in action. As someone has said, it is wrong to have loose opinions as well as to be guilty of loose practices.
That is what Paul meant when he said: The opinions that some people hold about Christ are not in accordance with the Bible and are real violations of this second commandment. The question at once arises- is this commandment intended to forbid the use of drawings and pictures of created things altogether? Some contend that it does. They point to the Jews and the Muslims as a proof. The Jews have never been much given to art.
The Muslims to this day do not use designs of animals, etc. But I do not agree with them. I think God only meant to forbid images and other representations when these were intended to be used as objects of religious veneration. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. How could God order something that broke this second commandment? I believe that this commandment is a call for spiritual worship. It is in line with Christ's declaration to that Samaritan woman, "God is a Spirit: The apostles were hardly in their graves before people began to put up images of them, and to worship relics.
People have a desire for something tangible, something that they can see. That is why there is a demand for ritualism. Some people are born Puritans; they want a simple form of worship. Others think they cannot get along without forms and ceremonies that appeal to the senses. And many a one whose heart is not sincere before God takes refuge in these forms, and eases his conscience by making an outward show of religion. The second commandment is to restrain this desire and tendency. God is grieved when we are untrue to Him. God is love, and He is wounded when our affections are transferred to anything else.
The penalty attached to this commandment teaches us that man has to reap what he sows, whether good or bad; and not only that, but his children have to reap with him. Notice that punishment is visited upon the children unto the third or the fourth generation, while mercy is shown unto thousands, or as it is more correctly unto the thousandth generation. Think for a moment, and you will see how idle it is to try to make any representation of God. Christians have tried to paint the Trinity, but how can you depict the invisible?
Can you draw a picture of your own soul or spirit or will? Moses impressed it upon Israel that when God spake to them out of the midst of the fire they saw no manner of similitude, but only heard His voice. A [manmade] picture or [manmade] image of God must degrade our conception of Him. It fastens us down to one idea, whereas we ought to grow in grace and in knowledge.
It makes God finite. It brings Him down to our level. It has given rise to the horrible idols of India and China, because they fashion these images according to their own notions. How would the president feel if Americans made such hideous objects to resemble him as they make of their gods in heathen countries? Isaiah bore down with tremendous irony upon the folly of idol-makers: What folly then to think of worshiping such things! The tendency of the human heart to represent God by something that appeals to the senses is the origin of all idolatry.
It leads directly to image-worship. At first there may be no desire to worship the thing itself, but it inevitably ends in that. They are apt to fight for their own hand when they once begin, and the history of all symbolical and ceremonial worship shows that the experiment is much more likely to end in religion than in spiritualizing sense. Who knows what He was like? The Bible does not tell us how He looked, except in one or two isolated general expressions as when it says, "His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.
What artist can tell us? He left no keepsakes to His disciples. His clothes were seized by the Roman soldiers who crucified Him. Not a solitary thing was left to be handed down among His followers. Doesn't it look as if Christ left no relics lest they should be held sacred and worshiped? History tells us further that the early Christians shrank from making pictures and statues of any kind of Christ.
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They knew Him as they had seen Him after His resurrection, and had promises of His continued presence that pictures could not make any more real. I have seen very few pictures of Christ that do not repel me more or less. I sometimes think that it is wrong to have pictures of Him at all. Speaking of the crucifix Dr. We are adoring a Christ who does not exist. He is not on the cross now, but on the throne. His agonies are past forever.
He has risen from the dead. He is at the right hand of God. If we pray to a dying Christ, we are praying not to Christ Himself, but to a mere remembrance of Him. The injury which the crucifix has inflicted on the religious life of Christendom, in encouraging a morbid and unreal devotion, is absolutely incalculable. It has given us a dying Christ instead of a living Christ, a Christ separated from us by many centuries instead of a Christ nigh at hand.
No one can say that we have nowadays any need of such things. If the King Himself is present, why need we bow down before statues supposed to represent Him? So you will be able to keep that admonition of the last word of all the New Testament revelation: May God open our eyes to the danger that is creeping more and more into public worship throughout Christendom! Let us ever bear in mind Christ's words in the fourth chapter of John's Gospel, which show that true spiritual worship is not a matter of special times and special places because it is of all times and all places: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth: God is a Spirit: I don't see how you can profess to be a child of God and let those words come out of your lips.
Moody, if you knew me you would understand. I have a very quick temper. I inherited it from my father and mother, and it is uncontrollable; but my swearing comes only from the Iips. What is the grace of God for, if it is not to give me control of my temper so that I shall not lose control and bring down the curse of God upon myself?
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When a man is born of God, God takes the "swear" out of him. Make the fountain good, and the stream will be good. Let the heart be right; then the language will be right; the whole life will be right. But no man can serve God and keep His law until he is born of God. There we see the necessity of the new birth. To take God's name "in vain" means either 1 lightly, without thinking, flippantly; or 2 profanely, deceitfully. I think it is shocking to use God's name with so little reverence as is common nowadays, even among professing Christians. We are told that the Jews held it so sacred that the covenant name of God was never mentioned amongst them except once a year by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, when he went into the holy of holies.
What a contrast that is to the familiar use Christians make of it in public and private worship! We are apt to rush into God's presence and rush out again without any real sense of the reverence and awe that is due Him. We forget that we are on holy ground. Do you know how often the word "reverend" occurs in the Bible? And what is it used in connection with? But though there is far too much of this frivolous, familiar use of God's name, the commandment is broken a great deal more by profanity.
Taking the name of God in vain is blasphemy. Is there a swearing man who reads this? What would you do if you were put into the balances of the sanctuary, if you had to step in opposite to this third commandment? Have you been taking God's name in vain today? I do not believe men would ever have been guilty of swearing unless God had forbidden it. They do not swear by their friends, their fathers or mothers, their wives or children. They want to show how they despise God's law. A great many men think there is nothing in swearing. Bear in mind that God sees something wrong in it, and He says He will not hold men guiltless, even though society does.
I met a man sometime ago who told me he had never sinned in his life. I thought I would question him, and began to measure him by the law. It is righteous indignation. I pawned it and spent the money, but I did nor mean anything by it. You cannot trifle with God in that way. Even if you swear without meaning it, it is forbidden by God. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. The habit of swearing is condemned by all sensible persons.
It has been called "the most gratuitous of all sin," because no one gains by it; it is "not only sinful, but useless. When a man blasphemes, he shows an utter contempt for God. I was in the army during the war, and heard men cursing and swearing. Some godly woman would pass along the ranks looking for her wounded son, and not an oath would be heard. They would not swear before their mothers, or their wives, or their sisters; they had more respect for them than they had for God! Isn't it a terrible condemnation that swearing held its own until it came to be recognized as a vulgar thing, a sin against society?
Men dropped it then, who never thought of its being a sin against God. There will be no swearing men in the kingdom of God. They will have to drop that sin, and repent of it, before they see the kingdom of God. If God puts His love into your heart, you will have no desire to curse Him. If you have much regard for God, you will no more think of cursing Him than you would think of speaking lightly or disparagingly of a mother whom you love. But the natural man is at enmity with God and has utter contempt for His law.
When that law is written on his heart, there will be no trouble in obeying it. When I was out west about thirty years ago, I was preaching one day in the open air, when a man drove up in a fine turn-out, and after listening a little while to what I was saying, he put the whip to his fine-looking steed, and away he went. I never expected to see him again, but the next night he came back, and he kept on coming regularly night after night.
I noticed that his forehead itched- you have noticed people who keep putting their hands to their foreheads? It is not a manly thing to shed tears in a religious meeting, of course! I should think not! You should have heard the way he talked about you today. Men said of the Master, "He has a devil," and Jesus said that if they had called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household. I asked where this man lived, but my friend told me not to go to see him, for he would only curse me. He was the wealthiest man within a hundred miles of that place, and had a wife and seven beautiful children.
Just as I got to his gate I saw him coming out of the front door. I stepped up to him and said: I do not know if it is true, but I hear that all He gets in return is cursing and blasphemy" He said, "Come in; come in. If any man has a fine wife I am the man, and I have a lovely family of children, and God has been good to me. But do you know, we had company here the other night, and I cursed my wife at the table and did not know it till after the company had gone.
I never felt so mean and contemptible in my life as when my wife told me of it. She said she wanted the floor to open and let her down out of her seat. If I have tried once, I have tried a hundred times to stop swearing. You preachers don't know anything about it. When he is harassed and tormented the whole time, he can't help swearing. I know something about it. I used to swear myself. You used to swear?
But I came up to talk to you, so that you will never want to swear as long as you live. I have been cursing all the day, and I don't know how to pray or what to pray for. Ask God to forgive you if you want to be forgiven. After he prayed he got up and said: After a while he promised to go, but did not know what the people would say.
At the next church prayer meeting, the man was there, and I sat right in front of him. He stood up and put his hands on the settee, and he trembled so much that I could feel the settee shake. If God can save a wretch like me, I want to have you pray for my salvation. Sometime ago I was back in that town, and did not see him; but when I was in California, a man asked me to take dinner with him. I told him that I could not do so, for I had another engagement. Then he asked if I remembered him, and told me his name. It was all taken away. He was not only converted, but became an earnest, active Christian, and all these years has been serving God.
That is what will take place when a man is born of the divine nature. Is there a swearing man ready to put this commandment into the scales, and step in to be weighed? Suppose you swear only once in six months or a year- suppose you swear only once in ten years- do you think God will hold you guiltless for the act? It shows that your heart is not clean in God's sight. What are you going to do, blasphemer?
Would you not be found wanting?
You would be like a feather in the balance. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: Can you say that you observe the Sabbath properly? You may be a professed Christian: Or do you neglect the house of God on the Sabbath day, and spend your time drinking and carousing in places of vice and crime, showing contempt for God and His law? Are you ready to step into the scales?
Where were you last Sabbath? How did you spend it? I honestly believe that this commandment is just as binding today as it ever was. I have talked with men who have said that it has been abrogated, but they have never been able to point to any place in the Bible where God repealed it. When Christ was on earth, He did nothing to set it aside; He freed it from the traces under which the scribes and Pharisees had put it, and gave it its true place. The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. The fourth commandment begins with the word remember , showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai.
How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding? I believe that the Sabbath question today is a vital one for the whole country. It is the burning question of the present time. If you give up the Sabbath the church goes; if you give up the church the home goes; and if the home goes the nation goes.
That is the direction in which we are traveling. The church of God is losing its power on account of so many people giving up the Sabbath, and using it to promote selfishness. God rested after creation, and ordained the Sabbath as a rest for man. He blessed it and hallowed it.
Remember the rest-day to keep it holy. It is the day when the body may be refreshed and strengthened after six days of labor, and the soul drawn into closer fellowship with its Maker. True observance of the Sabbath may be considered under two general heads: A man ought to turn aside from his ordinary employment one day in seven. There are many whose occupation will not permit them to observe Sunday, but they should observe some other day as a Sabbath. Saturday is my day of rest, because I generally preach on Sunday, and I look forward to it as a boy does to a holiday.
God knows what we need. Ministers and missionaries often tell me that they take no rest-day; they do not need it because they are in the Lord's work. That is a mistake. When God was giving Moses instructions about the building of the tabernacle, He referred especially to the Sabbath, and gave injunctions for its strict observance; and later, when Moses was conveying the words of the Lord to the children of Israel, he interpreted them by saying that not even were sticks to be gathered on the sabbath to kindle fires for smelting or other purposes.
Inspite of their zeal and haste to erect the tabernacle, the workmen were to have their day of rest. The command applies to ministers and others managed in Christian work today as much as to those Israelite workmen of old. Exceptions are to be made for works of necessity and works of emergency. By "works of necessity" I mean those acts that Christ justified when He approved of leading one's ox or ass to water.
Watchmen, police, stokers on board steamers, and many others have engagements that necessitate their working on the sabbath. By "works of emergency" I mean those referred to by Christ when He approved of pulling an ox or an ass out of a pit on the sabbath day. In case of fire or sickness a man is often called on to do things that would not otherwise be justifiable.
A Christian man was once urged by his employer to work on Sunday. No man should make another work seven days in the week. One day is demanded for rest. A man who has to work the seven days has nothing to look forward to, and life becomes humdrum. Many Christians are guilty in this respect.
I believe we are breaking God's laws by using the cars on Sunday and depriving conductors and others of their Sabbath. Remember, the fourth commandment expressly refers to the "stranger that is within thy gates. But you ask, "What are we to do? How are we to get to church? It will be better for you. Once when I was holding meetings in London, in my ignorance I made arrangements to preach four times in different places one Sabbath.
After I had made the appointments I found I had to walk sixteen miles; but I walked it, and I slept that night with a clear conscience. I have made it a rule never to use the cars, and if I have a private carriage, I insist that horse and man shall rest on Monday. I want no hackman to rise up in judgment against me. My friends, if we want to help the Sabbath, let business men and Christians never patronize cars on the Sabbath. I would hate to own stock in those companies, to be the means of taking the Sabbath from these men, and have to answer for it at the day of judgment.
Let those who are Christians at any rate endeavor to keep a conscience void of offense on this point. This is no new sin. The prophet Amos hurled his invectives against oppressors who said, "Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? We are told that many street car companies would not pay if it were not for the Sabbath traffic, and the Sabbath edition of newspapers is also counted upon as the most profitable.
The railroad men of this country are breaking down with softening of the brain, and die at the age of fifty or sixty. They think their business is so important that they must run their trains seven days in the week. Businessmen travel on the Sabbath so as to be on hand for business Monday morning. But if they do so God will not prosper them. Work is good for man and is commanded, "Six days shalt thou labor" ; but overwork and work on the Sabbath takes away the best thing he has.