Trinity First Sunday Morning Prayer (6 June 2021)
On this date, June 6th, in 1944, at around 5am the Allied armies landed on the beaches of German-occupied Normandy, France, and began to fight their way inland.
Within three months Paris was liberated. It was the beginning of the end of World War II.
You do not have to live very long before you discover that there are differences, disagreements, and sometimes these can lead to division and dissent. Between people; regarding spiritual or philosophical matters. Regarding conduct, rights, etc.
The early seeds of dissent were sown by the serpent, Satan, in the Garden of Eden.
Eve and Adam were drawn in, and dissented with the limit which God had placed upon them, regarding not eating the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
They dissented and this brought about disobedience.
Disobedience was to bring about a big difference to their lives.
God rebuked them, and they were removed from the idyllic Garden of Eden.
Driven from it, lest they also ate of the Tree of Life.
This disobedience was due to their listening to the tempter’s dissenting words. It led to generations of mankind being caught up in the ongoing dissent between God and the forces of darkness.
The battle between light and darkness, good and evil, would be waged over the centuries, showing itself in various forms in individuals, communities, and wider.
The spiritual aspect was key. God is light. Evil is darkness.
Man’s sin brought a division between him and God, in that human sinfulness broke close fellowship with God.
Sacrifice became needful to show repentance and seek forgiveness.
Jesus said, “Ye cannot serve two masters.” Every human has to decide whether to serve God, or serve the spirit of worldliness and selfishness.
To yield to temptation, or to resist it.
Noting our sinful nature, and God’s just and holy nature.
Many human-driven differences of opinion, in religion, political power, personal views, and other factors, can muddy the spiritual waters.
Have you guessed or worked out my text passage?
It was the verses in Acts 23 where the word dissension, and clamour (or a hue and cry), were mentioned.
Acts chapter 23:6-10.
6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
Verse 7. A dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, over the belief in the resurrection of the dead.
Verse 9. A great cry or clamour, strong disagreement.
Verse 10. Such a strong dissension that Paul had to be rescued by the Roman chief captain and taken to the castle or barracks.
Now for some Points to Ponder.
I. FROM OUR OLD TESTAMENT PASSAGE IN DEUTERONOMY.
Dissent can only happen if there is something, someone or some truth with which to disagree. We have examples now from our text passage.
We see clearly that when Israel, having escaped from Egypt, was in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, God gave to the Israelites precious promises, clear instructions and solemn warnings.
“Do this, do not do that” said God. For example, God said:-
1. Listen to my commandments.
2. Teach them to your children.
3. Do not forget the Lord our God.
4. Do not go after idols or false gods, and anger God.
5. When your son, your child, asks you, “What is the meaning of these commandments,” tell them that I the Lord gave them for the good of the people, to give righteousness and blessing.
6. Tell them about the great deliverance from Egypt brought about by the mighty hand of God.
An important Old Testament Lesson.
The Old Testament teaches us to obey God, not to live in indifference to, or dissent with, Him. This is for our blessing in life. Our Creator knows what is best for us!
Joshua, who succeeded Moses, has the right idea.
“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve,” he said to the people. “As for me, and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
OT history evidences the wisdom of Joshua’s advice, and the outcomes of Israel’s obedience or disobedience. Of dissent with God.
Over the centuries, in the times of the judges, the kings, the prophets, and so forth, we find blessings or punishments. Eventually the nation that was delivered from Egyptian slavery became subject to foreign powers, and many people were exiled.
But even then, even exiled people like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, like Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Mordecai, Esther, other named, and many unnamed, individuals, still truly honoured and worshipped the true God.
Points to ponder…
II. FROM OUR NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGE
The message of Jesus Christ, now proclaimed by the Apostles as Jesus had ascended to glory, was not well received by many secular and religious people, including leading citizens such as most of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, and many others.
Paul was proclaiming the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ, warning about the rejection of Him by the religious leaders, who crucified Him.
Speaking of time and eternity. We have listened to the passage in Acts
There was a great dissent, Paul was in danger. Strong religious views by the Pharisees and Sadducees led to dissension between them, too.
So often, in the Old Testament and New Testament, the people of God were either disliked, ignored or persecuted.
Spiritual truths about Jesus, sin and salvation often not accepted.
Sometimes just ignored or ridiculed.
Sometimes rejected with venom and aggression.
(How have we found people’s responses in the last few years, even in this country? Both towards Jesus and repentance, and toward the moral teachings of the Bible. Years ago I can across someone. Talented as a communicator. I met him personally in a meeting of some local Christian church leaders here in here in Kent. He was sometimes seen on TV defending Christian truths. He still does many good works to help the vulnerable. But he has compromised in some areas, and is reported by some to have a compromising approach to moral certainties. In efforts to be kind to vulnerable groups, and as there are certain people and groups who choose a different pathway to God’s teaching about a man and woman forming a marriage, he is now asking the authorities to enact laws so that if people, even Christians, speak against such immorality (Biblically speaking) they should be prosecuted and even jailed, as already happens in Finland. A hate crime.
So dissent and division, disagreement and difference, can come from surprising sources, alas.)
God knows what is best. Read the Gospels. Read the Epistles. Read the Revelation.
Jesu loved us enough to pay the price for our sins.
He said follow the correct pathways. Jesus was Son of God, as well as the Son of Man. Jesus is in Heaven interceding in love for us. We so need to follow His ways, His teachings. These God-given principles regarding people and God, what is best for people, were given by God in love, for our happiness. Woe betide anyone who says wrong is right.
Whether in the spiritual area, the human relations area or other areas.
Paul and Peter, James and John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave clear teachings for the church.
People rebel against, or dissent with, God’s truths at their peril.
We need to speak the truth in love, in witnessing to the Gospel, in giving guidance which is scriptural.
If a Christian is tempted to swear, or to be unkind, and falls temporarily, he or she will not say it does not matter. Will feel ashamed, admit to being wrong, and seek to put things right and to get forgiveness. Christians know that God’s ways are the best ways for people.
Be encouraged to speak, in love and with integrity, the truths given to us from God, concerning redemption, and the best ways to live our lives
Jesus said the truth will make your free. We are supposed to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves. This leads us to speak the truth in love, as God knows what is best for us and our neighbours.
Remember. God is love, and He tells us what is best for us.
How foolish and vain to dissent with such good advice, sourced from such great love. How sad when people reject the Gospel of redemption.
Thanks be to God for His love for us. Let us serve him in, and let us serve others in love.