Sermon preached on Sunday, November, 27, 2011 at Garden Valley Chapel; Misc. Scripture.
Now people have a problem with the term "religion." You have heard it said, "it is about a relationship with Christ and not a religion."
I would agree. Paul feared that the church at Corinth would be led astray from "the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (2 Cor 11:3).
Yet "religion" is simply that which we do in reverence and in obligation to God. James reminds us in James 1:27 -
27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
The Greek term speaks of worship, it speaks of devotion. It speaks of the person who is pious, God-fearing, in fact the Greek verb means "to tremble."
The reality is that we as Christians do worship and are devoted to our God and Father and as such we "walk as children of Light"..."trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord" (cf. Eph 5:8-10).
Because we are God-fearing we do that which is pleasing to Him, we do that which is His will, we do that which is He has commanded in His Word.
We were chosen before the foundation of the world for this purpose - that we would be "holy and blameless before Him in love" (Eph 1:3).
It is all done out of a love for Him and so I want my life to be in conformity to His revealed will. Right?
Calvin reminds us in his commentary on Isaiah -
"Now, the chief point of religion is, to inquire into the will of God, that we may regulate our life by the rule which he has laid down for us, and to depend on his mouth."
That is the chief point of religion, "to inquire into the will of God." In other words, it begs the question, "What does God will for my life?"
The wonderful truth is that God does have a will for us and He has revealed it for us in His Word. It is in Scripture that we come to know that His will is both clear and very explicit.
By the way God communicates in His Word, we come to the conclusion that He really wants us to know His will.
Imbedded in the discussion of God's will for my life is what we find in the NT regarding the orphan.
As we learned in our last study, God has reserved His special attention for widows and orphans.
This is not a truth that we see in the 1st Testament both a truth that is highlighted again in the 2nd Testament - no place so clear than here in James where he instructs us to "visit the orphans and widows in their distress."
God takes this matter seriously, as with other any matter regarding His revealed will, that He tells us of a special reaction from Him that involves His Holy wrath upon those who would abuse and exploit the widow or orphan.
As God brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt to establish a covenant with His people, so does God bring to bear upon our hearing today, His very Word to be observed.
Today I want to give you three ways to apply His Word as it relates to the orphan. There are three ways to reflect upon God's Heart for the Orphan and put such reflection into practice.
1.LOOK TO YOUR FATHER
3.VISIT THE ORPHAN
Join us as we conclude this two-part message on the God's Heart for the Orphan.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (ESV)
5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV)
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)
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