Love sinners; hate sin and mourn with those who mourn. It's God’s way (part 2)

I was and still am saddened by the tragedy in Orlando--the tragic loss of so many lives in the mass shooting at a gay nightclub. As a pastor who is convinced that the Bible forbids same-sex activity,  I am also greatly grieved by the success of LGBT advocates in promoting their unbiblical agenda in our culture. But as a Christian who is convinced that God loves us all, no matter our sexual orientation or lifestyle, I am also saddened by the response of some Christians to the Orlando tragedy. I am greatly grieved at the fact that just by using “LGBT” everyone knows exactly what I am talking about. 

Last week I began a message on how we as Christians respond to the Orlando tragedy as well as how we respond to the very overt LGBT agenda. This week I will be sharing part two on how to love the person but be angry and grieved at the sin, and how that sin seeks to consume us as individuals and as a society.

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(video about Independence Day - Independence Day Quotes at Christ Fellowship)

 

You know, our founding fathers weren’t perfect, as we aren’t perfect. But you can see that this nation was founded under God. It’s always important as we do our BBQ’s, etc, to remember that our nation WAS founded under God. 

As believers, it’s our responsibility to pray. I’m reminded of how King Solomon prayed for the kingdom, for repentance, for it to be restored and brought back to God. That’s our responsibility too. We can’t rely on politicians to do that. We need God’s mercy. We need repentance. As the end of the times come, there’ll be wars, rumors of war. We know this is going to happen. But we as believers need to continue to pray for God’s sovereign grace for our country.

 

I’m calling on Scott Bogardus and Jim Hughes to pray for our country and our country’s leaders.

 

Scott B - We thank you for blessing us for the country we live in. With freedom to pray, worship, and serve you freely. Look upon us with your favor to help us as your body to reach out to those around us to refocus hearts, souls, minds on you. Cause a change to the leadership of this country. 

We know Your will will be done. But we pray that by following your leading, encouragement, boldly, we can affect this country. 

We love and thank You. Thank you for our military that has protected us all these years. 

Move in a mighty way. Take this land back for Yourself. That we might be the leader in the world of following You.

Thank You for Your love showered on us as Your people.

 

Jim H - We’re told to pray for our leaders, and sometimes that’s difficult. Teach us how. Teach us to be open to Your leading and guidance. You’ve put these men and ladies in the position they’re in. We believe Your hand is on the leadership of this country. As difficult as it is to see. Your ways aren’t our ways.

I do pray for Mr. Obama and those men and women seeking to replace him. Grant them wisdom. Your wisdom. And the people around them, give them courage to give them good counsel.

Lord, there are many leaders n our society. We tend to think of political leaders. But there are many leaders, including Michael. We pray You would give him good words and give us ears to hear.

In Jesus’ Name.

 

~~

 

As a pastor, I take it very seriously. I have shortcomings in my life. The key to being pastor is to truly shepherd. We need continually to guard our hearts. There are wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.

There’s a major conference going on here in HSV, the Jehovah’s Witness (JW) national conference. There are JW’s from all over the nation here. There’s a spiritual battle going on. We need to look beyond physical to spiritual. There are strongholds established.

Be praying for God’s light to be continuing to shine. That people won’t be deceived by their message.

Here are a few facts about JWs so you’ll be aware and you’ll recognize them. And know how to pray.

 

Their beliefs:

All true [aka other] Christian churches are of the devil.

Jesus isn’t God but is the archangel Michael

Deny Trinity

Jesus died on a stake, not cross, and didn’t resurrect bodily

Only 144,000 will be saved.

Salvation impossible outside of the Watchtower, the source of teaching of JWs

Can’t question Watchtower teaching.

Watchtower altered the Bible to agree with their teachings.

They claim you need to read Watchtower magazine to understand Bible correctly or you’ll fall into darkness—what they call reverting to normal Christianity.

 

When you speak of JWs, you can ask if they believe the Bible. They’ll say yes, though there’s a different Bible. But they don’t believe in salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

 

Since they only believe there’s 144,000 people going to heaven, they try to earn that by making converts. 

 

Deal with them in a right way. Communicate them to people who may be susceptible to them.

 

Be in prayer for our community as they meet here. Pray for God’s light to shine. For people to recognize light and not fall for the darkness.

 

10:50 - Part 2 of the series I started last week.

 

In today’s society, if an event happened two weeks ago, it’s ancient history. But when situations like the Orlando tragedy happen, people continue to struggle. The mass killing happened to homosexuals, gay, lesbian men and women. And we as a church tend to ignore these things.

Many of you—in your workplace, in the marketplace, in the community—you know of people who are living the homosexual lifestyle. And you can imagine how incensed, how raw they are feeling about this event and about how Christians responded.

In last week’s message, we started talking about how Christians should respond.

Last week, we saw what the Bible says about homosexuality, and the fact that /anyone/ who walks outside of the Lord Jesus is under God’s judgment, not just homosexuals. We saw from Romans 1 that God gave them over to a debased mind so they don’t even understand right and wrong—it doesn’t even occur to them.

As believers, we know better than to judge. Because we know that everyone without Christ is under judgment and sin.

Instead, we need to walk in love and respond in love.

 

Look at Revelation 2:1-11

 2:1 ¶ ‘‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

 2 ‘‘‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

 8 ¶ ‘‘And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

 9 ‘‘‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

 

We can become so good at standing for what’s right that we can lose focus on the most important thing: to love God with all we have.

When you first became a believer and received salvation, there was a joy, excitement in you. You wanted to go and tell others that there’s a God who’ll redeem you and set you free. You wanted to find people struggling because you were there just moments ago. And God’s love is now being shown in your life.

We can become so theologically astute that we can forget about our first love. And we can forget some of the big things connected with that: what it meant to come into relationship with Christ; the great mercy and grace He displayed in our life; our hunger and passion to find others so they can be set free.

So it’s imprtant to always remember those first things and to be steadfast in our love of our Lord and Savior.

As we continue to stay in the state of loving Him, that God would be at work in our heart, showing us how to love, walk, care in these trying times.

 

For those not here last week, when I say, “don’t stand in judgment” that does NOT mean “we are to condone sin”. Like Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, we say “Go and sin no more.” Walking in sin brings destruction to our own life and to the lives of others as well.

 

Matthew 9:35-38 -  35 ¶ And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.

 36* When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

 37* Then he said to his disciples, ‘‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;

 38* therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’’

 

When Jesus went into the villages, seeing sin rampant, he had compassion. He felt sick and mourned for those trapped in sin. He had compassion because he saw they were harassed and helpless. When Jesus looked into the community and saw people walking in sin, he didn’t fight the /people/, he fought the /real/ enemy. The people weren’t the enemy; they were taken captive by the enemy.

We’re not to be incensed at the people, but at the wickedness that has ahold of them.

 

When Jesus went into the villages, He identified the enemy. He had tears for the hardness of their hearts. He grieved over how they’re trapped in sin and vulnerable to eternal death.

 

So as we walk, we need to see that people are vulnerable to death.

 

Love sees beyond the immediate and the personal. When you encounter rampant sin, what happens inside of you? When you see blatant, filth, what happens? You get angry. Disgusted. Troubled. Grieved.

Once you’re hit with this, and you’ve been overwhelmed by this. After the anger and disgust, then we need to take the next step. We need to grieve /for/ them. 

We need to see beyond it and ask, “God how can I display your love to them. How can these people be set free? Show us your way.”

It moves to the dimension of discipleship that discovers the compassion of Christ to care for others. We don’t stop at, “This offends me and I want to get away from it”, we instead say, “How can I walk into this situation and bring light and love?”

Christ became a man to /empathize/ with us, not just sympathize. The diff between empathy and sympathy is that empathy involves /experiencing/ what we experience. To feel the struggle and hurt.

There are two people I know. Long ago, I was a psychology technician in a hospital working with troubled teens. There was a 17-year-old homosexual, and I had to do 1-on-1 sessions with him. I asked him to tell me his story.

As he began, my heart broke. He said, “My father left me when I was young. My uncle sexually abused me over and over. And he brought his friends over and let them do that as well. And that convinced me that this is who I am and what i’m good for.”

His being abused is what led him to the lifestyle.

There’s a girl I knew in high school. A very pretty young lady. Cheerleader. She became a target for a lot of young men. The thoughts they had and things they wanted to do with her weren’t godly. Because of repeated, constant barrage of young men who wanted to do things with her, she gave in. And she developed a reputation of being promiscuous, seen as a boy toy. She needed to take charge of her life but had no idea how.

So, the way she took charge of her was was she cut her hair short and became a lesbian. She became the aggressor. She couldn’t fine any other way to find the power to overcome.

Usually, we don’t know these stories, so we judge based on what we see.

Important NOT to walk in judgment but to walk in love. Our Father wants us to walk in love for the world as /He/ loves the world. And how much does he love the world? He gave his prize possession to us to love ad redeem us. Romans 5:8 - while we were still ENEMIES of God, He loved us. 

We’re called to love with the same love. — while those around us are still enemies of God.

 

We’re called to speak the /truth/ in love. An evangelist is “a beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” When we speak truth to others, we’re speaking from a place of, “I know where you are. My sin might be different, but I know where you are. I can relate to your struggles. Let me tell you what helped me. How I was set free. How I found true identity and purpose in life.”

 

Colossians 4:4 (Message) -  4 Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.

 5* ¶ Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity.

 6 Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

 

Verse 6 in ESV:

 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

 

“seasoned with grace” - we talked about this before. The true, pure definition of grace is divine influence in our heart that brings us to salvation (Ephesians 2:8). Grace enables us to trust the promises of His Word and to walk in Truth.

Your words you speak need to be prompted and influenced by the work of the Holy Spirit within you.

When you find yourself in an awkward situation, understand that because you’re a believer, God has positioned you for such a time as this. That means the Holy Spirit will influence your conversation and guide you into the words you need to speak. Stop and don’t be in yourself. Be in prayer asking God, “How can I speak the truth in love”

“Seasoned with salt” - By the way, what happens when you get TOO MUCH salt? You want to spit it out. It’s not pleasant. If you speak strongly and condemning, they won’t be receptive, they’ll be repulsed. Season your conversation w/ grace.

Instead of being repulsed, they’ll be hungry for more. Speak truth in love to them.

People who need to repent are unlikely to welcome the news that they need to repent. That’s why it’s important to deliver such news with grace. Even we resent people who speak as if they were somehow superior to us. We’re more willing to listen to people who speak to us for no reason other than that they love us.

We speak in love. Seasoned with grace. NOT to repulse.

John Merritt, a commentator, “You can’t transform a culture while you’re browbeating, rebuking, name calling, gagging. That’s not a recipe for cultural engagement but for cultural ENRAGEMENT.” By condemning, we cause them to be enraged against us. We need to speak with love.

We need to pray for those who are hurting. Show love for them. Show concern that they’ve lost a loved one.

Many believers have sons, daughters deceived into a homosexual lifestyle. And I guarantee you that if their child was murdered, they’d mourn.

 

4. Pray with wisdom and compassion. 

 

Prayer is the foundation of who we are. It unifies, clarifies, modifies mindsets, communities, and people. It’s able to bring unity to divisive situations. clarity to confusing situations.

 

We must be about prayer. In situations like this and those to come, the first thing we must constantly be about is prayer. If you want to see things change. If you want to see God’s love portrayed, sin squelched, the love of Christ shine, then PRAY. We must pray.

 

Pray God’ll change hearts and open eyes to the truth. because of this sit, the LGBT propaganda train is rolling full steam. Rainbow flags everywhere. Pray for God to change hearts.

 

2Co 4:4 -  4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

 

They’re walking in blindness. Pray that God will open eyes so they can see truth.

 

Pray that God will convince them of their need for salvation in Jesus Christ. Without the power of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we’ll never succeed in convincing anyone of the truth.

 

John 16: 7* ¶ Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

 8* And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

 

Pray for the brokenhearted.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

 

Pray that hearts would be softened and broken. That’s fertile ground for the truth to be shared in loved. For us to walk in love and care for those hurting and broken hearted.

 

Pray in hope as we trust the redemptive power of God. For those who are hurting, as well as for us as believers.

 

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

 2* Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

 

No matter what we see happen. No matter how rampant sin. No matter what happens, God is our refuge and strength. We can pray that God’ll protect the hearts and minds of our children, family members.

I used to enjoy watching the show America’s Got Talent. But the last two weeks, my heart’s been broken because they’ve featured a woman who used to be a man. As this person shared their story, they received a standing ovation. And Simon hugged the person for their courage.

And last week, a young man shared about how he was bullied growing up because he was homosexual. So then, rather than just his talent, a big reason he received great applause was that he was willing to stand and share that he was homosexual.

Listen, I’m not angry at the person. I’m angry at the enemy, the prince of the airwaves. Trapping more men and women into deception.

At the same time I’m angered, I can pray to the God who can bring light into darkness. No matter how influential these airwaves may seem, my God is able to penetrate and place a hedge of protection about my family.

 

The Orlando shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in US history. The killer was part of an Islamist extremist group.

Theologian Russell Moore said, “Christians, your gay or lesbian neighbor is probably really scared and angry right now. Whatever your disagreements, let us love and pray.” 

It’s our responsibility. No matter how angry, incensed, disgusted you may be because of sin, when there’s tragedy, you’re called to love and pray. Because “if it weren’t for God’s grace, there go I.”

 

11:26. Prayer - I pray for men and women who are hurting now. They’re becoming more closed off to your truth. Im thankful that You’re greater. Satan is god of this world, but you’re God of the universe. He’s bringing men and women into captivity. I pray Your grace and truth would break through. Use us as we walk in our communities, workplace, marketplace. Give us wisdom, discernment. Guide us to love, and care. Teach us to empathize, and how to speak truth.

I pray that what the enemy has meant for ill, You’ll bring good. Show us as a true body of believers how we can rise up to this occasion and rise up “for such a time as this”. I pray for all those mourning and weeping now, that they would sense your love and care. I pray Christians won’t point fingers but will reach out in love. And through that kindness it would bring repentance.

We trust in the promises of your Word and pray in the gracious name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

If God is speaking to you, and you’re saying, “I can’t walk in that love because I’ve never experienced it myself” we want you to experience his love.

If you have sickness, or a struggle, whatever it is, we’re the family of God. We’re here for one another to care for one another.

If you have a need, or God’s calling you to come forward for a particular reason, respond as God’s telling us to respond.

 

[After the invitation, the elders prayed for the mission teams going out this week—those going to Michigan and to the Middle East.]