Hebrews 6:17-19; Romans 8:20-25; I Corinthians 13:13   In these treacherous times we need hope.  The Christian hope can come only from God.  We need hope for our disillusionments, for our sicknesses, for our family survival, and for our end-of-life experience.  This sermon explains why Christians have hope and why there is no reason to have a weak hope. (150118)

MATTHEW 17:24-27

Verses 24-27 “24And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
26Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
27Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”

Jesus paid legal taxes. No one likes paying taxes, and no one should pay more than the law requires; however, a Christian who cheats on his taxes will have a poor testimony. In Jesus’ case, a tax was due, the amount of which equaled two days wages, and neither Jesus nor His disciples had the money, but Jesus provided in a most unusual way. A lesson for us is that those who are poverty stricken may take hope seeing that Jesus is one of them and that He is able to supply their needs in very unexpected ways.

Love in Deed

An article by Lloyd Streeter

Love is the greatest gift God gives! It is the only eternal gift. We will not need faith or hope in Heaven. In this world we walk by faith, but this will not be true in Heaven. The same may be said of hope. “For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”

Love is the greatest gift because none of the other gifts is any good without it. All the others need love to make them effective.

And love is the greatest because every Christian has it. Because the gift of love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we are all able to love one another. God commands us to do so in John 13:34, 35.

The need today is to have this gift exercised in the church. We need it more than any other gift. Corinth was a gifted church, but their need was to exercise love.

We give lip service to love without having the real thing. Genuine love acts. The world knows nothing about it. To the world love is a feeling: the sleazy frolics of soap operas.

Any love that does not act, and act scripturally, is not love.  The Bible commends an “unfeigned” love.

This was Paul’s concern when he cautioned, “Let love be without dissimulation.” Dissimulation is hypocrisy. Action proves love; sickly feelings of sentimentalism do not.

Romans 12 describes nine actions of love.

Love is kind. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.” Genuine love is proved when we count others as important as ourselves. Being kind is simply doing what makes people happy, and not doing what makes people unhappy. We cannot displease God to make people happy, but we should be willing to do something displeasing, inconvenient or sacrificial to ourselves in order to make others happy.

Love respects. “In honor preferring one another.” The flesh says to fight for superiority. Love allow others to have preeminence and does not demand it for self. Love sees others as more deserving than self and praises the virtues, performance and service of others. Respect is recognizing the value of another. “. . . In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” That is respect.

Love works. “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Business, here, refers to being busy in serving the Lord. We should be using our gifts to bless others, to preach the gospel, to edify the saints. And we should not be lazy about it!

We must keep on patiently working and praying even in persecultion or against great obstacles. If we have a genuine love of one another, we will be busy serving, helping and encouraging one anbother. Ian Paisley has said, “Love is not a sleeping sloth, but a serving slave.”

Love gives. “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” It is a mock, hypocritical love that ignores the sincere call of a Christian brother for life’s necessities. Love demands that we be hospitable, offering food and clothing to the Christian poor.

We are not required to give something just because people ask for it or because they say they need it. But when we know a Christian has a real need, being destitute, we have a responsibility to help. Good wishes and kind words instead of help are shameful if it is in our power to give. Actions, not words, prove genuine love.

We owe all our fellowmen some concern, but special care is owed to our brethren in Christ.

Love forgives. “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. . . . Recompense to no man evil for evil. . . . ”

An enemy is not someone you despise but someone who despises you. Your enemy is someone who wishes you ill. An enemy is one who may say bad things about you or seek to do you harm.

You may not be able to avoid making enemies. A good case can be made for the idea that if you have never made any enemies, then you have never done any good in this world. You cannot move without producing some friction!

It is not a sin to have enemies. The question is how we should treat them.