As Good As Your Word

Posted on 04/02/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I hope you all had a good week, and that you're just a little closer to Jesus today than you were when we last gathered together.

I also hope you had a good April Fool's day, but didn't play any cruel tricks on anyone besides the devil.

Friday someone sent me an e-mail that I think is worth reading to you.

I'm sure it's not a true story, but makes a good point. It says,

In Florida, an atheist became incensed over the preparation for
Easter and Passover holidays and decided to contact the local ACLU about discrimination inflicted on atheists by celebrations
afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while the
atheists had no holiday to celebrate.

The ACLU jumped on the opportunity to once again pick up the cause of the godless and assigned their sharpest attorneys to the case.

The case was brought before a wise judge who after listening to the long presentation of the ACLU lawyers, promptly banged his gavel and declared, "Case dismissed!"

The lead ACLU lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling saying, "Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case?  Surely the Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances.  And the Jews -- why in addition to Passover they have Yom Kippur and Hanukkah... and yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!"

The judge leaned forward in his chair and simply said, "Obviously your client is too confused to know about... or for that matter, even celebrate the atheists' holiday!"

The ACLU lawyer pompously said, "We are aware of no such holiday for atheists... just when might that be, your honor?"

The judge replied, "Well it comes every year on exactly the same date --- April 1st"

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'"  - Psalm 14:1

You know, we've all said in our heart, "There is no God" at some time in our lives. Perhaps we've never thought those words, but have we ever said "there is no God" by our actions? Or by our worries? Or by our fears?

And yet when we surrender ourselves into the Master's hands, he takes our foolishness and sees instead the same wisdom that created the heavens and the earth. For when he sees you who are born again, he sees Jesus.

If you're still living your life without Jesus, if you're still doing things your own way, if you're still settling for the second-best that the world offers, which is worthless compared to what the Great King offers us, perhaps it's time to stop making excuses to stay on the outskirts of the Kingdom, and come on in and celebrate with us!

It's true, you may not know what a free, truly forgiven, debt-free heart feels like, and you may not know what a spirit which has been brought out of death into life and radiant light is like; but you CAN know TODAY.

We're not promised tomorrow. You're not promised your next breath. So with THIS breath, speak to God right now.

Tell him, "Jesus, forgive me for my sins. Come in to my heart. Make me a brand new creation. Teach me your ways. And fill me with your Holy Spirit, so that I can walk in your footsteps. Thank you Jesus!"

Let's stand to our feet and worship our King together!

Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard containing the song lyrics, and if you want some worship animations, you can click-touch the first step of the altar for some.

Lord God, we choose to put our attention on you. Forgive any of our sins, and change us. May we come to you today with nothing holding us back from your embrace.


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The river of God
     Sets our feet a’dancing
The river of God
     Fills our heart with cheer
The river of God
     Fills our mouths with laughter
And we rejoice
     For the river is here

Down the mountain
     the river flows
And it brings refreshing
     wherever it goes
Through the valleys
     and over the fields
The river is rushing
     And the river is here

The river of God
     Is teaming with life
And all who touch it
     Can be revived
And those who linger
     On this river’s shore
Will come back thirsting
     For more of the Lord

To the mountain we love to go
     To find the presence of the Lord
Along the banks of the river we run
     We dance with laughter giving praise to the Son

I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

We say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I'm pressed but not crushed
     persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed

I am blessed beyond the curse
     for his promise will endure
That his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
     His joy comes with the morning

In the presence of Jehovah,
     God Almighty, Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended,
     In the presence of The King
In and out of situations,
     That tug-of-war at me
All day long I struggle
     For answers that I need
But then I come into His presence,
     All my questions become clear
And for a sacred moment,
     No doubt can interfere
Through His love the Lord provided,
     A place for us to rest
A place to find the answers,
     In hours of distress
Now there is never any reason,
     To give up in despair
Just look away and breathe His name,
     He will come and meet you there

Thank you Lord for meeting with us today. Thank you for your sweet presence, your sweet Holy Spirit. Thank you that you have prepared our hearts and minds to receive your Word, and that your Word will not return void, but will accomplish that for which it was Sent.

You may be seated.

For the past few weeks, we've been reading and discussing a message Jesus delivered -- a message which he told us will give us strength to stand through anything if we live by it, but which, if not lived by, will leave us weak and destined for destruction.

At the end of this message Jesus said,

"The one who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise person who builds their house on the rock. The rains will fall, the floods will come, and the winds will blow and beat upon that house, but it will stand because it is founded upon the rock.

"On the other hand, the one who hears these words of mine and does NOT do them will be like a foolish person who builds their house on the sand. The rains will fall, the floods will come, and the winds will blow and beat upon that house, and it will fall, and its destruction will be great."

This week we are reading from Matthew chapter five, beginning with verse 33 where Jesus says:

"'Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord."

'But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne, nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

'Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

'But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No." For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.'"

Why does Jesus say this? What is wrong with an oath? What is the point Jesus is trying to make?

Let's get a better idea of God's mind concerning our words by reading from the book of Genesis, the first chapter, verses one through three:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light."

Let's think about this scenario for just a moment. If the Bible were not written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, if men were making up a fantastic story about some God who created the universe and all it contains, verse three, instead of saying, "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light', would probably read something like this:

"Then the voice of the Almighty began in a whisper, speaking over and over again with ever-increasing intensity, until his speaking was a mantra, a mystical chant, a powerful force which harnessed all the powers in the universe and beyond, as he repeated these magical words:

'Water and earth, wind and fire;
     creatures yet to taste birth, yeild to my desire;
Ye bound and unborn, take to sky in flight;
     Out of utter darkness, let there now be light!'

And with an explosion that God realized would continue to expand for all eternity, a tiny spark, a fleeting flicker, then a ray as though piercing through breaking clouds; and finally a blazing light which flooded the once hidden universe with radiance, broke from the skies, embracing the unformed earth."

Now that is how WE would write the Bible. God would have to work up a sweat, do something we consider impressive, and call upon his own powers until they produced some exagerated result.

And yet, that is not how it happened; and God chose to have men write it like this:

"Then God said, 'Let there be light.' And there was light."

Scripture tells us that everything that exists was created by the Word of God. God simply spoke, and all that exists was made out of nothing.

Let's read a little further on in Genesis chapter one, starting with verse 26:

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...'"

God created us to be his companion, to enjoy the fruits of his Word, of his creation, and to be in authority over it.

God created us in his image and likeness. In plain words, he created us to be like him.

Is it any wonder that when we deviate from the miracle of his creation by not being like him, which is our fallen human nature, death and misery are the result? God created life, and every twisting of his creation ends in death.

And that includes our words.

God created us to speak, and for our words to be in line with his words and his thoughts. For when our tongues are used only to speak what is right, our words align with the same power that created the universe and all it contains.

But our speech isn't like that, is it. We seem to think if we say, "I'll be there at 6:00," we're not as bound as if we were to say, "I swear to you on a stack of Bibles, I will definitely be there at 6:00, I promise!"

I believe what Jesus is telling us is that saying "I will be there" should mean "I will be there," just as simply as his saying "Let there be light" meant that light had to be.

Sometimes we do make vows and oaths, and even those we somehow think we can escape.

Take for instance the vow of marriage. "For better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death parts us." And we do mean it, until the worse gets bad, the sickness gets intollerable, the poorer makes us miserable, or the green from our neighbor's field calls us over our weak word's fence.

I'm guilty of saying one thing and doing another. And if we think long and hard enough, I know there's not a person under the sound of my voice who has always done everything they said down to the last detail.

James four verses 13 through 16 tells us,

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.

"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.' But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil."

Our words are important. Your words are important. And if you hold your tongue and think before you speak, if you fill yourself with God's Word and speak that Word as he brings it to your mind at the right times, and if you spend time daily in his presence so that you learn to hear his voice, speaking when he speaks and being silent when he is silent, your words will begin to regain the power he intended for them to have.

"'Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord."

"But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne, nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

"Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

"But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No." For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.'"

Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you for this message we've been studying for the last few weeks. Thank you for telling us that if we put these things into practice, our lives will be built on a firm foundation, but if we hear these words and do not do them, we are foolish and we will fall and be destroyed.

At this time I will ask the ministry team to come stand at the front.

If you know you don't always do what you say, if you know God is speaking to you today to more closely guard the words that come out of your mouth, if you want to begin today to more closely line up your words with what the Holy Spirit is saying, come up to the front now, and let's pray together.

I'm going to stand up here and am available to pray with you along with the rest of the ministry team, but at the same time I am up here to respond to this calling of the Holy Spirit as well.

Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight!

Help us put our fleshly nature to death and spend time seeking your face at the beginning of every day, so that our hearts can be cleansed, and our tongues can be bridled to speak only those words which come from YOUR mouth.

This altar is open. Come and pray, dedicating your tongue and your words to God, and your life to seeking after him.

After this time of ministry we will all meet next door for a time of fellowship. For now, let's seek the Lord together. Come.