Do you own a cell phone? Do you think your monthly bill is high? The amount you pay is surely far less than the bill received by Bob and Mary St. Germain.
This couple received a bill of nearly $18,000 from Verizon Wireless back in 2006 and it was not a mistake. The St. Germain’s son believed he had free data downloads and used at least 816,000 plus kilobytes which led to the nearly $20,000 bill.
Although an $18,000 cell bill is hard to imagine, it is insignificant when compared to the problem of sin. God says sin separates man from his Maker (Isaiah 59:1-2). God also says the valuable things in life–items such as “silver and gold”–cannot pay the debt for sin (1 Peter 1:18).
If we are old enough to be accountable for our actions, we have been stained by sin (Romans 3:10, 23) and we need the “the lamb of God” who “takes away the sin of the world” (John. 1:29, ASV).
If we have not been “loosed” from our sins by the “blood” of the lamb (Revelation 1:5), here is what we need to do:
* Have faith; we cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). * Decide to repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30).
* We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Timothy 6:12; Acts 8:36-38).
* We must find someone to baptize (immerse) us into the body of Christ (Galatians 3:27) for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). This body is designated as the “Churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16).
Christ has paid our sin debt (Romans 5:6-9), so let us submit to him today.
“As you know we like to have the truth properly confounded here, so we invite you back tomorrow night to hear brother ____ dispense with the gospel once again”; “Let me assure you that we have gathered here for no other purpose than to think on worldly things”; “It would simply be impossible for one to attend every service and get anything out of the sermons”; “We pray that if there has been any spark of revival lit during this meeting that the Lord will water that spark”; “We are thankful that brother ___ had the audacity to respond to last night’s invitation.” I once read [though difficult to believe actually happened] of a nervous usher who, in asking a lady to move to another seat, said: “Mardon me padom, but you’re occupewing the wrong pie. If you’ll arise and findly kollow me, I’ll sew you to your sheet!”
Aim: to remind women of the need for modesty in worship.
Thesis: all clothing makes a statement – our worship attire especially ought to communicate purity.
TURN to Proverbs 7. In Proverbs the wise man is passing along some friendly advice to young men, and one of the first dangers he highlights is the danger of adultery. He warns against it in all of Chapter 5 – then returns to the subject in Chapter 6 – and then illustrates it again in Chapter 7!
READ Verses 6-27. This vivid little vignette is a reminder that even back then, in the days of Solomon, young men could be naïve and foolish, and women could be just as sorry as men.
This entire passage is a striking story, but I want to call our attention to one verse in particular. Did you notice that when Solomon describes this individual intent on infidelity, he says in Verse 10 she was “dressed like a prostitute”?
QUESTION: Why does Solomon call attention to her clothing? Because our clothing always makes a personal statement. The fashions we choose reflect our personality, and our outer wear is an extension of our inner values.
Why was this wayward wife dressed like a streetwalker? She had chosen apparel that advertised her availability: the message of the clothing she had selected was saying loud and clear, “I may be married, but I’m not moral.” To put it bluntly, her outfit was an invitation to a proposition. Our clothing always makes a personal statement.
That is worth remembering, because we are Christians, and we don’t want to send the wrong message! And that is worth remembering, because as American society becomes increasingly coarse and vulgar and immoral, Christians need to be ever more careful that we don’t inadvertently project a worldly image.
Let me be blunt: given the current fashions in our culture, if a woman was dressed like a prostitute today, she would fit right in! And that’s not just my opinion: Jennifer Moses, a Jewish writer and the mother of teenage daughters, recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That? (March 19-20, 2011, p. C-3). In it she asks:
“Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this – like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves – but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?
With the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily.”
More and more women in our world, both young and old, are wearing less and less. And, they are wearing those provocative outfits in settings in which previous generations would have been ashamed to be seen, including worship assemblies.
This morning’s lesson is a gentle reminder that we all need to think twice about the message our clothing presents, and it has a special application to the ladies for two reasons:
First, today’s sermon is being preached by special request. In the past couple of months several of our ladies have asked me specifically if I would address the subject, because they are concerned about fashion trends in our society and their negative effects on young ladies.
I am sympathetic to the challenges that ladies face when shopping for clothing, because fashions are often dictated by worldly, even ungodly designers, many of them homosexuals who don’t necessarily have a woman’s best interests at heart. And styles are becoming increasingly casual, even at church, which might lull individuals into becoming careless about the decency of their clothing, especially now that we are in the summer months.
Second, men and women are wired differently – men are more easily tempted visually. Jesus recognized this in Sermon on the Mount: in Matthew 5:28 when he says “If a MAN looks at a woman lustfully, he has committed adultery with her in his heart.”
In our series on the life of David last year we saw that when the king was on the roof of his palace, and caught a glimpse of Bathsheba, his eyes led him into sin and ultimately led the nation into civil war.
But honestly, if the situation had been reversed and it was Bathsheba up on the roof, and David in the tub…..well, she might have had a good laugh, but that’s as far as it would have gone.
So ladies, on behalf of all the men, I’m asking you to have some consideration for your brothers, and make sure you’re not a distraction or a temptation. Don’t come to worship with thigh-high hemlines and down-to-there necklines; skintight slacks, skimpy skirts, or short shorts; or backless, strapless, shameless, clueless outfits. Casual clothing is ok – carnal clothing is not.
I want all our ladies to look their best. But if your fashion is not modest, you’ll attract the wrong kind of attention from men and you’ll make the wrong kind of statement about your character. If you have any doubts about the appropriateness of your apparel, find a trusted, mature Christian woman, and ask her.
If you think I have been singling out the ladies, you are half-right. So far I have been speaking to the ladies this morning, but that doesn’t mean men don’t have wardrobe malfunctions of their own. So let me close with some suggestions for us men:
Guys, be sure to read the message on your t-shirt to make sure you aren’t a walking advertisement for worldliness.
Don’t come into worship wearing a baseball cap, cowboy hat, or doo rag – 1 Corinthians 11:7 says that a man worships with his head uncovered as a sign of respect to God.
And if you decide to have a mid-life crisis, don’t show up on Sunday with your shirt half-unbuttoned, because nobody wants to see your hairy chest, even if you are wearing a gold chain on it.
Both men and women should remember that all clothing makes a statement – and while we should be modest seven days a week, our worship attire especially ought to communicate purity of character and reverence towards God. Paul is speaking of the worship assembly in 1 Timothy 2:9 when he says, “I want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety.”
A few moments ago we saw that Solomon’s picture of the wayward wife on the prowl in Proverbs 7 said “She was dressed like a prostitute.” I can never read that passage without thinking of a former prostitute I counseled many years ago. She and her husband came to me from another city and they were having severe marriage problems. They were an unusual pair: he was a wealthy professional; she had once been a streetwalker in New Orleans. And even though she had become a Christian, was now married, and had a couple of kids, this lady had never updated her wardrobe!
Her clothing was, quite frankly, embarrassing. It was one of those situations where I never knew where to look, and I probably made her husband uncomfortable, because I ended up staring at him much of the time!
I helped them patch up their marriage, but as we were concluding what I thought was our last session, the woman asked if she could come back the next week by herself to discuss some personal issues. When she returned, the first thing she said was, “I don’t like the way men look at me. It makes me feel cheap.”
I gently asked, “Do you think it has something to do with your wardrobe?”
“But Dr. Dan, this is all I’ve ever known. Tell me what to do?”
Now, fashion advice is way out of my league, but every so often in a counseling session I get an inspiration, and this time the light bulb went on. I asked the lady, “Do you read any of those women’s magazines? You know, Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, etc.”
“Yes.” “Well, here’s your homework assignment. Take your magazines, thumb through several issues, and cut out pages that represent the way you think men look at you now. Then cut out some pages that represent the way you want them to look at you. Bring them both back to me next week.”
When she returned for her next session the lady was more enthusiastic than I had ever seen her. She had two file folders filled with pages ripped out of magazines. The first folder contained page after page of lingerie ads. “This is how I’ve been presenting myself in public,” she explained. And she was right – up until now her wardrobe had indeed resembled lingerie.
When she opened the second folder, I was surprised. It contained only one photo: of a cowgirl at the rodeo, in boots, jeans, a plaid shirt, and a cowboy hat. I asked, “Is that the way you want to present yourself?” She said firmly, “That’s the image I want.”
I asked her only one question: “Does your husband have a credit card?” The lady laughed, left, and I never saw her again.
A couple of years later, however, I received a letter in the mail. There was no return address, just a postmark from a town in Montana. Puzzled, I opened it, but there wasn’t any identifying information inside, either. No letter, no name, just a small color photo……of a smiling cowgirl, standing with a happy husband and grinning children, and every one of them was dressed in Western wear!
Remember: the fashions we choose reflect our personality, and our outer wear is an extension of our inner values. Let’s make sure the apparel we wear in worship, and every day, communicates a reverence for God!
Islam claims you need to know Arabic to really get the true meaning of the Koran, but it still seems to push various English translations of this so-called “Holy Book.” I am no expert on the Koran, but one of the better translations seems to be the one done by Asad. This version used to be sent free upon request, but now it is “free” if you pay $8.95 for shipping. This is a BIG BOOK so there is definitely some cost to ship it.
If you do a little exploring at www.explorethequran.com you will find that “Opinion Leaders & Policymakers” are offered a free copy of the Koran (they do not pay for the book or shipping).
In one of his classic TV episodes, he dramatized the story of a wicked woman who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In a courtroom scene, the angry woman screamed at the judge and vowed that, no matter where she was imprisoned, she would escape and come back to make him sorry that he had sentenced her.
Guards removed her and she took that infamous bus ride to prison. En route, she noticed something which was to become part of her escape plan. She saw an old man, a prison inmate, covering up a grave outside the prison walls. She soon realized that the only way she could escape was to get a key to the prison’s gate. And the only inmate who had a key was the old man who assisted in the burial of dead prisoners. In fact, he not only buried them, but he also built the caskets in which they were buried. His job included rolling the casket onto an old grave cart outside the walls, lowering it into the hole, and covering it up with dirt.
The old man was going blind and needed cataract surgery. The woman discovered this fact and approached the old man, telling him that if he would help her escape, outside the walls she had enough money to pay all of his medical expenses. He could have his eyes completely fixed.
At first, he said, “No, ma’am. I can’t do that.”
“Oh, yes, you can,” she replied. “Outside of this place, I have all the money you need to pay for your cataract surgery. If you help me get out of here, I will give you that money. If you ever hope to have an operation, you will help me escape.”
Finally, the man reluctantly gave in. Here was the plan. The next time she heard the toll of the bell which signaled the death of an inmate, she would slip down to his workroom where he made his caskets. She was to locate the casket in which the old man had placed the corpse, then secretly slide herself into that same casket and pull the top down tightly. Early the next morning, the old man would roll her along with the corpse in the casket, out to the place of burial. He would drop the casket into the hole, dump a little dirt on it, and the next day he would come back, uncover the grave, release the lid on the casket, and she would be free.
A perfect plan…almost.
Late one night she heard the toll of the bell. Someone had died. This was her moment! She secretly slid off her cot and made her way down the hallway. Looking into the dimly lit room she saw the casket, and without hesitation she lifted the lid and in the darkness slipped into the box. After squeezing in beside the corpse, she pulled the lid down tightly. Within a matter of hours she could feel herself being rolled to a grave site. She smiled as the casket was placed in the hole and clumps of dirt began to hit the top of the casket. Before long, she was sealed beneath the earth. Yet she smiled. In fact, she couldn’t contain her excitement. She had done it!
Time began to drag. The next day came and passed into the night and still the old man didn’t show up. Now she began to worry. Where was he? What could possibly have gone wrong? Why hadn’t he shown up? She broke into a cold sweat.
In a moment of panic, she lit a match, glanced at the corpse next to her and discovered…the old man himself. Her only hope lay buried right beside her.
THOUGHT: The greatest encouragement man will ever know is the giving of Jesus Christ to our world. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, we can have HOPE of eternal life. (David Jeremiah)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
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Last night, for the first time, I saw from our backyard what seemed to be four bluish lights in the sky moving in an unbelievably rapid rotation. These lights went in multiple directions, merged for a fraction of a second, and then continued their unusual cycle. The video and pictures I took left me with nothing but black sky.
I have no idea what caused these bizarre lights, but I do know they were caused by something. Some type of intelligent power was behind this unusual display.
When we look at our environment – the moon, sun, stars, oceans, the human body and all the creatures on the earth and in the rivers and oceans – we must conclude that what we know to exist has been created. Some type of intelligent design is behind our world and the Bible says this is God (Rom. 1:20).
As you look at things on the earth – rocks, trees, hills, mountains, flowers, birds and bees – remember Ps 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”