Keeping Your Word

KEEPING YOUR WORD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

keepingyourword

As you know very well, we are again in our series on the Sermon on the Mount and our message is titled – KEEPING YOUR WORD.

Matthew 5   33 “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.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Overall Background: In the passage we just read Jesus is raising the bar on how we make and keep promises. Just like today, people back then made a lot of promises, which they never intended to keep. They had become experts on breaking promises. The Rabbis came up with a whole system that would allow people to get out of their oaths. Jesus told them to stop all this nonsense and let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’

People haven’t changed much since then. They still make excuses, look for loopholes, hunt for an escape clause, find some technicality, and do whatever they can to get out of a promise. Gone are the days when a man’s word and a handshake was all that you needed. Unfortunately, Christians are no better. When we break a promise, we even have some verse to go with it!

Question: What kind of a person are you? Do you keep your word to your spouse, children, neighbors, and church family? Are you a promise keeper or a promise breaker? Do you keep your word to God? What promises have you made to God that you still haven’t kept? I believe more promises are broken to God than to anybody else. Or do you hide behind the line – “I’m not going to promise anything?” Are you saved?

This morning we will try to understand the importance of keeping our word, not just to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church family, but also to God. 4 things we will try to understand here:

I. HUMAN TENDENCY IS TO BREAK OUR WORD. 

34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

Background: Some people have misunderstood Jesus’ statement, like the Anabaptists and Quakers. They thought that He was commanding us never to take an oath or make a vow. Not true. To understand what’s happening here, you have to go to the Mishnah, which is the Jewish oral tradition and especially to the Shevu’ot = the section on oaths. According to them, in the Jewish religion, God’s name was very sacred. It could not be used in making an oath. Only the high priest could take God’s divine name and only on the Day of Atonement, all other uses of divine name were blasphemous. If you took an oath with God’s name, it really didn’t count. Now, you could use substitutes known as kinnuyim with alphabets out of God’s name – Aleph-dalet for Adonai and Yod-He for Yahweh. All that would do was create some more technicalities to break a promise. But the people didn’t stop there. They also came up with a lot of innocuous substitutes for God – heaven, earth, Jerusalem, my head, just to name a few. According to these rabbinic interpretations, taking such oaths was not legally binding. So you could swear by all that and then break your vow legally. Jesus exposed their wicked schemes. He reminded them that all these technicalities are wrong because everything belongs to God – heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and my head or your head. In fact, He called all that from the evil one.

Isn’t it interesting that human beings haven’t changed much? We make promises because we like the immediate benefits but when its time to return our end of the bargain, we want to break the contract. Everyday all over the world, promises are made to be broken.

  • A Father promises to play ball with his son if he would only let him watch his game right now. Once the game is over, he is too tired to play ball.
  • One spouse promises the other to do something only if they would do something first for them. Once they get what they want, they conveniently find excuses to get out of keeping their end of the bargain.
  • Young man makes a promise to a young girl that if he would just come a little closer, he will love her forever. Once he gets what he wants, he says “Bye.”
  • Church members make about a million excuses when it comes to doing their ministry.

I can go on and on. Why do we do that? Because we are sinful, selfish, self-centered human beings. We do that even to God! Hosea 6   4 “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, And like the early dew it goes away. 7 “But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me.

Application: Are you an honest and forthright person or are you a deceitful and manipulative person? Do people trust you? Are you a person who is known for keeping a promise? Are you always looking for some technicality to get out from keeping your word? Have your broken your promise to God?

II. DIVINE TENDENCY IS TO KEEP HIS WORD. 

Background: The reason Jesus even brought up this matter is because being God Himself, breaking promises goes against everything in His nature. God is a covenant keeping God. Deuteronomy 7:9 “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

  • In Genesis 9:11 He made a vow to Noah and his sons saying, “Thus I establish My covenant with you…never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” He kept His Word.
  • In Genesis 22 God made a vow to Abraham saying, 16 “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you…have not withheld your son, your only son – 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants…” The book of Hebrews comments on it in Hebrews 6:13 “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.”
  • Judges 2:1 Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.
  • In Ezekiel 33:11 God made a vow saying, “As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” Throughout history God has kept His Word.
  • Listen to Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:4 “…O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments.”

I can go on and on but here’s the point: No matter who has broken their promise to you, you can rest assure that God will always keep His word to you. He will never fail you. He is faithful. Listen to Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Application: Do you trust God? Do you take Him at His Word? Are you living your life on God’s promises? Have you trusted Him with your eternity?

III. GOD EXPECTS US TO KEEP OUR WORD. 

37 But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’

Background: Jesus expects us to be promise keepers.

  1. To our spouses – As a pastor for 17 years, I’ve done a lot of weddings. All of them begin with this statement – Dearly Beloved: We are gathered together before the presence of God and these assembled witnesses to join together this man and this woman in the holy estate of matrimony.” Then we have the exchange of vows – “I promise to take you so and so to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, I promise to love and cherish you.” Then they exchange rings as the sign and seal of their promises. Then I end it with – By the authority vested in me as a minister of the gospel, in the presence of God and these assembled witnesses, it is my privilege to pronounce you husband and wife. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

What if we take out the name of God from the wedding ceremony? It doesn’t matter. God is a witness every time a man and a woman come together. It is His institution. He will hold you accountable for it.

  1. To our children – When you bring a child into this world, you are entering into a covenant with God to further His plan into this world. Human beings have done a great job in enjoying the pleasure of the moment but they have long forgotten the responsibility that comes with it. Our responsibility is to lead the child in God’s way.
  2. To our church family – As part of the family of God, I am obligated to keep my word to them. If I say, “I will be there,” then I should be there. If I say, “I will serve,” then I should serve. It is a shame when fellow church members cannot be counted upon! By the way, some people try the tactic – “I’m just not going to promise anything” – and this way I don’t have to break any promise. I am more impressed with the man/woman who serves faithfully than with one who claims to know the Bible or theology.
  3. To our neighbors – As a Christian, I am obligated to keep my promises to my neighbors, which includes people next door, people at work, and people in the community, and our nation. When people find out that you are a Christian, they should be doing all they can to hire you. They should know that you are a trustworthy person.
  4. To God – As I mentioned earlier, “more promises are broken to God than to anybody else.” Promises are made on sick beds, deathbeds, during financial struggle and relationship struggles. Sadly, once things get better, people forget God. Psalm 66 13 “I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, 14 Which my lips have uttered And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.”

Application: Are you a promise keeper to your spouse, children, church family, neighbor, and to God?

IV. THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO KEEP OUR WORD.

Let’s recap – human tendency is to break promises, divine tendency is to keep promises, but God expects us to keep promises. What should we do? God understands our weakness. Hence, Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit. He is the encourager. His job is to do through us what we could never do by ourselves. His task is to make us faithful when we surrender to Him. Listen to Galatians 5   22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. This especially helps when the other person does not keep their end of the bargain.

Do you have the Holy Spirit? Are you saved?

WHAT A LIFE DIRECTED BY THE SPIRIT LOOKS LIKE

WHAT A LIFE DIRECTED BY THE SPIRIT LOOKS LIKE – Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson1

This morning we are in Luke 2 for our message titled – “WHAT A LIFE DIRECTED BY THE SPIRIT LOOKS LIKE.” With all the mess that is going on in this world, we desperately need men and women, boys and girls under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Erwin Lutzer said, “To be controlled by the Spirit means that we are not controlled by what happens on the outside but by what is happening on the inside.” Can you imagine what would happen if we were totally controlled by the Holy Spirit?

Luke 2 25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation

Overall Background: The incident we just read took place when Joseph and Mary came to the temple to dedicate the Baby Jesus. They encountered a man named Simeon. Listen to his description in verse 25 “…this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. Have you noticed something unusual about this person? Three times we hear the Holy Spirit in his description. He was not a priest or some religious leader, just an ordinary man living under the control of the Spirit.

To some of you this may be a foreign concept. It may even sound weird. Are you telling me to be possessed?!! No. God is Trinity – three in one, Father, Son, and Spirit. When I receive the Son whom the Father sent to be my Savior, then the Spirit becomes my daily companion and helper. To be under the direction of the Holy Spirit means every moment I live in communication with Him. To be under the Holy Spirit means every moment I turn to Him for every need and want in my life. He guides us and helps us in every way.

Illustration: In Mexico mission trip having a translator who was a constant companion and resource. Without him we felt completely lost.

The Holy Spirit is that companion who is our resource and help every moment. He is waiting for us to seek His help.

Simeon was a man who was under the guidance and authority of the Holy Spirit.

Application: Are you a person whose life is directed by the Holy Spirit? How do people describe you? Do they describe you as a person who is under the Holy Spirit? Do they describe you as a person who is led by the Holy Spirit? Do you understand the power that comes into our lives when we are under the authority of the Holy Spirit? By the way, you cannot have the Holy Spirit in your life until you have Jesus in your life.

This morning we will see some marks of a life under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Again, these are not all the marks but just some marks.

 1. GOOD REPUTATION BEFORE PEOPLE AND GOD

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout,

Background: Not a whole lot is given about him but his character is described as just and devout. “Just” in his dealings with people and “devout” in his dealings before God. First, let’s look at “just” = dikaios, which means righteous. Simeon was righteous in how he dealt with people around him – his wife, children, neighbors, co-workers, and community. You could trust him. His word was his bond. If he told you something, you could count on him. How did He have this righteousness? Because the Holy Spirit was upon Him. In John 16:8 Jesus said, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

We are living in a time where we need 40 pages of signatures to seal one deal. Why? There is no righteousness. People do things for each other but much of it is selfish. The Holy Spirit keeps us righteous before people. By the way, there will come a time when the Holy Spirit will be completely removed, and when that happens 2 Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

Application: How is your reputation with people? The Holy Spirit can help you with that.

Now, let’s look at the second adjective – “devout” = eulabes, which means someone who is faithful to the things of God. Simeon was faithful regarding the things of God – his prayer life, temple participation, and ministry. You could count on him to be faithful to the things of God. How did he have this devotion? Because the Holy Spirit was upon him.

By His very name, the Holy Spirit is holy. When he comes into our lives he begins to root out all that is unholy. Sin has to run. You have to deal with sin. Show me a person who is under the direction of the Holy Spirit and I will show you a person who is trying to live a blameless life. Show me a person who is living in sin and I will show you a person who does not have the Holy Spirit or a person who is not submitted to the Holy Spirit.

Application: How is your reputation before people and God? Are you living a life under the direction of the Holy Spirit? Are you asking Him to help you live the Christian life?

2. HOPE IN THE PROMISES OF GOD

25 “…this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”

Background: What was the consolation of Israel? It was the promise of deliverance for the people of Israel. Many times in the Old Testament God promised through the prophets, especially Isaiah, that one day He would deliver His people.

Isaiah 40 1 “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. 2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned;

Isaiah 49:13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.

There are many more references that promise the consolation of Israel. Simeon was a man who trusted in the promises that God had given in his book. Show me a person who is under the direction of the Holy Spirit and I will show you a person who believes in this book – the Bible. Show me a person who is hopeless and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Anytime I hear I don’t think it’s going to work or I’m afraid it’s not going to work, I see a person who at that moment is not filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with our nation and our community is hopelessness.

Application: Are you a hope-filled person? Are you person who believes in the promises of God? The real question is – Are you a person under the control of the Holy Spirit?

3. EYES LOOKING FOR JESUS CHRIST

26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Background: Simeon had received a promise through the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. In spite of what was happening around him, the Holy Spirit had given him the assurance that Jesus was on His way.

Did you know that the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to point you to Jesus? In John 14:26 Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Again, in John 15:26, Jesus said, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”

My greatest need everyday is to see Jesus but I cannot see Him unless the Holy Spirit reveals Him to me. My selfishness pride, envy, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, lust, greed, and every sin in the book are constantly blocking my view of Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can clear the way so I can see Jesus.

27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, What was the custom of the law? It was almost a month after Jesus was born. According to the law the mother of the male child was unclean for 7 days and then had to be confined for 33 days. Altogether, 40 days had passed since the birth of Jesus and Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus had come to the Temple for 3 important ceremonies: first, purification ceremony for Mary; second, presentation of Jesus as the firstborn to God ceremony; and third, dedication of the firstborn to God’s service ceremony.

May I make an application here: Dedicating our children to God is a very special ceremony. We used to do that as a church but sadly we have gotten away from that. Baby dedication tells God that our children are His gift to us and that we are grateful. It also tells God that we want his hand of blessing, guidance, and protection on them.

The Holy Spirit led Simeon right up to the Baby Jesus. 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed GodSimeon

Application: Who are you looking at this morning? Is it Jesus? Oh I got peace or joy or hope. Wrong answer. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I looked at Christ and the dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove and it flew away”

4. CROSS AS THE DECIDER OF DESTINY

Now, what follows is known as Nunc Dimittis from the Latin first words “Now dismiss.” 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” 33  And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

The Holy Spirit enabled Simeon to see people through the cross. There are only two categories of people – those who will rise and fall. In other words, saved and lost. Which one are you? Do you know someone who is lost? The Holy Spirit can help you.

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