CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
November 14, 2021
Let’s Keep It Simple!
At this point in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is giving some practical suggestions on how to live the most stress-free life possible. Jesus is talking about keeping oaths, or you might say promises, as was stated in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:12. And how we should be presenting our answers, our assurances to others and to God.
First of all, Jesus is reminding us the promises we make always involve God. God always sees what we are doing and hears what we are saying. As Christians, at times most all of us have made promises to God, especially when we are hoping he will do what we are asking or praying for. This usually happens when we back ourselves in a corner or face a situation in life beyond our control and we know only God can solve this problem. Sometimes we feel we can say to God, “Let’s make a deal!” We tell God that thing I am doing or not doing that I know isn’t where I should be--if only God will help me or a loved one, I will change. Have you ever tried to make that deal with God? If and when have you seen God give the answer you were looking for? Did you keep your end of the deal? The reality is God does not make deals. God does at times answer prayers in the way we have been praying, but it was not because we made a deal with him. God responds out of love, grace and mercy. Jesus also warned about promising things to God and making it seem more honest by saying, “God, I swear.” Jesus is warning us to avoid doing that. For one thing, it will not make God’s answer any more or less likely. And it also can simply make us look even worse when we do not follow through. Jesus is saying, “Let’s keep it simple” when faced with questions in life and just say “yes or no.” Making big speeches or emphasizing promises with a lot of words will too often only get you into trouble. God does not require it and, to tell you the truth, no one else does either. In most situations we face in life, actions speak louder than words. As we read last week, thoughts can get us into trouble but Jesus is reminding us today that empty, hollow words can also get us into trouble. Over inflated words can as well.
Jesus then goes on to talk about what was part of Jewish belief and practice that is mentioned in Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21, which is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Jesus again is clarifying what those verses said from long ago. Helping the disciples and everyone else understand what is truly God’s heart when it comes to dealing with one another, especially difficult people we face in life. We are not to seek out vengeance. We are to show mercy by giving even more of ourselves to those especially difficult people in our lives. Sometimes it might be people we have worked with, sometimes neighbors, sometimes people we worship with, sometimes family. Regardless of who it is, Jesus says do not repay evil with evil, instead repay evil with good. How many of us have made that our first thought with those difficult people in our lives? Yes, by golly, that person made my life harder, my work more difficult, this situation between family members tougher, but I will just encourage them to keep doing what they are doing! In fact, they can do even more and make my life even more difficult! I will even help them! How many times have we responded that way? Jesus is saying that if someone steals from you, hits you, forces you to do something you do not want to do, that is fine, accept all of that and even more. Is that what you do? Except in a few rare cases, I doubt it. We like the eye for an eye response much better. We decide we will set them straight right now! But that is not what Jesus is saying. So, what really is Jesus sharing about what God expects? We will finish this part next Sunday. In the verses we will read next week Jesus shares why we should allow the Holy Spirit to give us the best way to respond to all of the things we looked at today.
Your and my assignment for this week is to respond to man and God the way we have been told in the verses we read today in Matthew. First of all, keep it simple when faced with difficult questions. When appropriate just say yes or no. Do not add a lot more to it. It only gets you into trouble more times than not. Then, when dealing with people who seem to be making life difficult, show love, mercy and grace. God will bless that attitude. See how many things happen this week where God allows these two situations possible for you to see how you respond and react.
Last week we saw thoughts can be as damaging to us as actions at times. This week we see words can also be as damaging as actions for us as well. We are seeing that God wants us to carefully consider how our thoughts can impact us, how our words can impact us as well as others, and, of course, how actions can change our lives and others. The things we think, say and do all combined together impact our relationships with the people in our lives as well as our relationship with the Lord. God expects us to understand that when we sin, we must confess that sin to God. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus knew many of the Jewish leaders of the day were hypocrites that would say one thing and do another. Jesus wants us to know God’s heart and also that he loves us and cares about us. Sin will always make our lives more difficult. Jesus knew this. God wants us to live the most victorious life possible.
We could go into more detail than we did on this subject if you would like at another time. I hope and pray God is helping us understand more and more his love and concern for us, his people. This is what the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount is all about. Knowing and understanding the heart of God and how he wants to help us, his people, survive and thrive while we are on this earth.
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
Congratulations to Josh & Hannah Sawyer on the birth of Tate Joshua Sawyer November 9.
November 21—Council meeting after worship
November 28—Walt Wiltschek, our new DE, will preach. Afterwards, we’ll have a soup luncheon, and then we will decorate the sanctuary for Christmas.
Care package snacks due TODAY. Let Carol know of any who should receive one. Sadie S., Jordan W., Michelle W., Madison W. Others?
Candy flyer on the bulletin board. Call Nancy Fansler or Chelle Shively to order by Nov 30.
Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you!
Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
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Keep in Your Prayers
Shirley Krall; Baby Gemma; Deb Bell Sherwood; Andy Flenner and family; Mindy Sawyer; Jim (Buck) West; Marlene Schultz; Randy West; Jen Durst; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); Tera Runyan; Carl and Wilma Cable; Marge Starr; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Owen Wright; Anna Gentry Thompson; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 747,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Church of the Brethren vision statement:
Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.