Sunday Sermon 26 April 2015 – God and War
God and War — Sean Cloete (Session Clerk)
This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Good Morning Everyone.
And a warm welcome to any visitors worshiping with us this morning.I hope you are all well on this beautiful morning. It’s a privilege to be here today. Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country like New Zealand – and to be able to go anywhere and worship our Lord as and whenever we want to.We really have a lot to be grateful for. And if there is any help we need … just look around …. Its right here for you.
In James 5:13-16 – where we read:
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the Elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
And if any of you need prayer or healing …… all you have to do is ask.
Let us pray:
Father God, please show us today the many ways our lives can be surrendered to you, and then give us the strength to begin to act. Amen.
Did any of you attend an Anzac Dawn Service yesterday? There was an amazing spirit in Browns Bay all day yesterday – the Holy Spirit was out and about – and I felt His presence wherever I went. Just like I feel Him here today.
The Holy Spirit is a person not a thing – Corinthians 12:11
11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
John calls Him the Helper – John 15:26
I was very impressed by the amount of kids I saw at the Anzac service, some with their parents and some who came with their Mates.By my calculations there were around 5000 people at the 6am service yesterday morning.I kept thinking to myself I’m glad this isn’t Good Friday – how are we going to fit all these people into the Rec Centre.
As dawn was breaking yesterday I thought about another dawn event – found in Matthew’s gospel Chapter 28 and verse 1 – and his account of the first time the world realised that our Lord and Saviour had risen from the dead. After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Ever since that ancient dawn, the dawn of Easter morning is a reminder of Hope. And that help is available to all because Jesus conquered death for us – He is alive.
On this Anzac week-end the landings at Gallipoli a century ago have been analyzed over and over again.The evidence had been presented and the outcome has been looked at from every angle. And many, many questions have been asked – some over and over again.But for me there is only one question “Why Does God Allow War” – Have you ever asked yourself that question? Is He responsible for all the bad things too – not just the good?
The Christian Author Max Lucado had this to say:
Since 3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace. During this period there have been 14,531 wars. An estimated 3,640,000,000 lives have been lost in them.
War, so costly. War, so awful. The dying, the maiming. Those who aren’t scarred physically are likely to be scarred emotionally.We divide history into pre- and post-war eras.People are remembered as ones who fought in such-and-such war. The smoke of battle lingers long after the bodies are buried and the armistice is signed. Then why does God allow it?Any discussion of war must revolve around the character of God.
First, remember that we have a loving God. Scripture overflows with this essential truth.“He loves whatever is just and good, and his unfailing love fills the earth.” (Psalm 33:5)
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)
If we are going to consider God and war, we must begin with God and love. God only does what is good. Just as important, God only does what is just. We have a just God.
However, Man’s arch-enemy is sin. Self-centeredness ravages our hearts. From the very beginning the wages of self-centeredness has been death.
“A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7) If you sow seeds of peace, you reap the fruits of peace. But sow seeds of destruction and the result is destruction.
War is a consequence of sin.
Before we blame international conflict on finances or boundaries or religion, we must lay the blame where God does: our sinful nature.
War is a tool of God.
There are many unacceptable reasons for war. Imperialism. Financial gain. Religion. Family feuds. Racial arrogance.
There are also many unacceptable motives for war. But there is one time when war is condoned and used by God: wickedness. When calling the Israelites into battle. Moses carefully instructed them:
“After the Lord your God has done this for you, don’t say to yourselves, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are so righteous!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is doing it.” (Deut. 9:4)
Scripture also elevates the role of government to a high place.
All governments have been placed in power by God.
The authorities are sent by God.
The authorities are established by God.
Their role is clear: protect and punish.
Protect the innocent and punish evil.
When the government perceives that her people are under threat, when negotiations have proven fruitless and olive branches have gone unacknowledged, when the leaders of a country are convinced that an attack against evil will preserve that which is good and protect those who are innocent—then, and only then, war is justifiable.So as a result of this war is delegated by God to governments.
What those Governments do and the decisions they make are sometimes not part of God’s plan.Sometimes the government is called to turn the other cheek. We call this diplomacy, negotiation, and compromise.If such efforts prove fruitless, and if the leaders feel their constituency is under threat, they can then take steps to protect the innocent. War is justifiable only when other alternatives to protect the innocent have been exhausted. War is God’s righteous last resort.
God’s will, His choice, is to love you.
His desire is for you to love Him back – but love must be given freely or it’s not love at all, Love is a choice not a feeling. And remember surrendering to God and His plan for your life is through your own free will – which God has given to you.
Our choices are our decisions.And our decisions are controlled by our free will – and achieved through prayer. But – as Christians we are warned not to let our guard down.In the earlier readings from Acts I’d like you have a look at the following verses:
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
So what is Luke is saying?
The Holy Spirit had called Paul and Barnabas both in Antioch as well as in Lystra. He had a mission for them – only they could fulfill .Wherever they went they were healing people and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ – but wherever they travelled the spiritual battles they had to fight intensified. Every day we as followers of Jesus Christ are in a Spiritual War – a war which is as fierce as any armed conflict – and one in which we have more to lose than just our lives.
In Ephesians 6 the Apostle Paul instructs us dress accordingly when we do battle with Satan and his armies – He says:
Put on the full Armour of God.
The Belt of truth.
The Breastplate of Righteousness.
The Gospel of Peace.
The Shield of Faith.
The Helmet of Salvation.
Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
As Christians we need to understand the Sword of the Spirit – because it is through the Word that we will win this war.
Let me tell you a little more about this book ……..It’s far more than just a collection of sayings and stories. It was written over a period of 1600 years – from Moses writing in lonely Arabia (the first 5 books) to John writing Revelation in exile on the island of Patmos.
Written by 40 different Authors.
It was written by:
A Prince of Egypt
The authors were largely unknown to one another. Some, writing in different centuries. On different continents.In wartime and peacetime.Some writing in different languages.But with one Central Message
But Unless ……..
There was one Architect … one Designer?
So, using the authors’ own writing styles, experiences and personalities, God shows us who he is and what it’s like to know him.Unlike other religious writings, the Bible reads as a factual news account of real events, places and people.It is a remarkably accurate historical account of times it is written in.It’s also our best commentary on today’s news.Historians and archaeologists have repeatedly confirmed its authenticity.And continue to do so to this day.There is nothing fake about this book – nothing made up.
Its message may be repeated in different books.That’s because God needs us to understand his message.It is remarkably up-to-date for a book written over 2000 years ago.In it we can find advice as diverse as managing our finances and how to improve your marriage.The Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year.It’s been the best-selling book on the planet for the past 300 years.
It’s been estimated that over 7 Billion bibles have been printed .. in the USA alone.The Bible has been translated into 2,018 languages.To put this in comparison, Shakespeare, considered by many to be the master writer of the English language, has only been translated into 50 languages. So, why is there an Old Testament and a New Testament?In many ways the Old Testament serves as the foundation for the New Testament.The Old Testament chronicles God’s power and works, looking toward the coming Messiah.
The New Testament reveals Jesus as the Messiah, looking back at His life and teachings as the basis for the Church and the spread of the Gospel. Most Old Testament prophecies look forward to the future and were unfulfilled at the time of the Old Testament’s completion.The New Testament highlights the fulfillment of many of the Old Testament’s prophecies. There are over 300 alone in the life of Jesus Christ. A complete biography of Jesus Christ existed 500 years before He was born.
The world was expecting Him – so God made sure that we knew everything about even before He got here.The Bible is a guide to Eternal Life – and is also a confirmation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Good advice is readily given throughout both the Old and New Testaments.The purpose of the Bible is not to transplant an ancient culture into this generation but to reveal the Gospel to it.The same power Jesus operated with is the same power available to us today – The Holy Spirit.
The Bible raises many, many questions.All of which leads us to the One who has all the Answers – Our Creator – and the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
It remains – to this day a source of inspiration to all as well as the cornerstone on which most of the laws around the world today are based. And, just to sum up in the words of the Apostle Paul from Philippians 4:13 –“I can do all things through Christ”
And from Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.
Let us Pray..
“Thank You Lord that You can take our lives and use them in way we never thought possible.Help us to be the instruments that convey the music of Your Love”Amen
Our final hymn this morning is “God Defend New Zealand” – and we will be singing all 5 verses.
Do you know that there are 18 references to God in the Anthem. By far – the most references to our Lord of any other National Anthem.
Makes you think ………… doesn’t it??
May God Bless us all.