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THE WORD OF GOD CAN CHANGE OUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

30 JANUARY 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Deuteronomy 18:14-22
Isaiah 51:12-18
Mark 1:23-27

The word of God can indeed change our outlook on life, but we must listen to it and follow its teachings, if we are going to see the changes.

The Israelites, for example, were told by God that He was going to lead them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, a place that had an abundance of food, and where they would no longer be oppressed.

But they didn't listen to His word, or follow through with His instructions; thus, they spent forty years in the wilderness. So, their shortsightedness limited the life-changing effect of God's word.

And as the end of these forty years comes to pass, Moses reminds the people of all that the Lord has told them during their time in the wilderness. This is what we now know as the Book of Deuteronomy.

Listen to what they were reminded of in 18:14-22.

14. "For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.

Every day in the newspaper we see a horoscope. This is put together by people who divine with the stars. And there are many people who plan their life around these words.

There are many other people who go to fortune tellers and follow their words.

And there are many more who just look in on these words "for fun" – or so they say.

If we spent even this amount of so-called “fun” time listening to God's word instead of these other ungodly advisors, our relationships with each other would be a whole lot better.

Our outlook on life would be a whole lot better.

And there isn't a place on earth where we can't hear the word of God; thus we are without excuse.

It's as Moses told the people:

15. "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

And if you wonder why God doesn't just speak to us directly, note what we are told next:

16. "This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.'

Being in the presence of the living and holy God, when we ourselves still have sins in our lives, can be a frightening event; for we know we are not worthy to be in His presence.

17. “And the Lord said to me, 'They have spoken well.

18. '1 will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

19. 'And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.

Thus, many people spend much time in the wilderness.

All these accounts are spelled out in our Bible, but we are not to follow these examples, or the concessions that God allowed because of their hardness of heart; we are to listen to and follow the will and intent of God for our lives.

If we listen, not only will our outlook be changed, but perhaps the events in our lives as well, depending on how many others also listen; for we are not alone in this world. We are part of a society.

It is our responsibility to help bring about these changes by living the word of God, for not everyone speaks the word of God in sincerity, not even religious leaders; just as God says:

20. ‘But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

When we know the truth and deliberately go against it, we take upon ourselves a tremendous responsibility, more than most of us realize.

21. "And you may say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'

22. "When the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

Our outlook on life is obscured because we listen to people and fear them, rather than to God.

And we have an advantage over the people after they entered the Promised Land, for they didn't as yet have the written Bible that we all have today.

We don't have to wait for an event to happen to verify God's word; we have a copy of it.

So, if we know our Bible, then the false word will be evident, for it will counter some portion of God's word.

But if the message is reinforced by God's word, then we can believe that it's the truth, but at the same time, we must remember to make sure we are listening to the will and creation intent of God for our lives.

Listen to what God says through Isaiah about this in 51:12-18.

12. "I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
And of the son of man who is made like grass;

13. That you have forgotten the Lord your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens,
And laid the foundations of the earth;
That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor,
As he makes ready to destroy?
But where is the fury of the oppressor?

The fury of the oppressor is loosed and allowed to spread when there is a lack of love and compassion in a society and in the world.

For, if we are a truly loving and compassionate society, and not just for the people in our society, but for the whole of God's creation, the oppressor would never get a chance to rise to a position of power, for very few people would listen to him.

You have heard Mary and me say many times, "If we do make a mistake, let it be on the side of love and compassion, for we will not cause any harm."

Let me give you an example.

You know that we truly believe that animals have souls and spirits, just as we do, and that we believe that the Scriptures speak of this truth.

But, let’s say that we are wrong.

What harm have we done?

None! And most likely, we have done some good; for some people's outlook on life, as a whole, may have improved; and thus, there is less pain in the world.

Now, let me give you an example of false teaching from the pulpit in this country of ours.

Some said that Blacks and Indians didn't have souls and, because of this false teaching, many suffered and are still suffering.

We know that what they said was not the word of God; but because they said and did what they did from a standpoint of hardness of heart, without any love or compassion, there was much pain.

And people’s outlook on life was hindered.

Listen further to what God told the Israelites through Isaiah in verse 14 and following.

14. "The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking.

15. "For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is His name).

16. "And I have put My words in your mouth, and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, 'You are My people.' "

God will do this out of love and compassion; their oppression has come from a lack of it.

And God has allowed their oppression to take place in order to try to get the people to listen.

17. Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem.
You who have drunk from the Lord's hand the cup of His anger;
The chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs.

18. There is none to guide her among all the sons she has borne;
Nor is there one to take her by the hand among all the sons she had reared.

I see our country heading in the same direction in which Israel headed.

I am crying out in the wilderness, and to you who can also cry out, that we must stop drinking the cup of hardness of heart that is so cheap and available today.

I am crying out for someone to reach out with love and compassion, and to help change this world before it's too late.

That's what Jesus did, and that's what we are to do.

The Spirit that God gives us, His Holy Spirit, is there within us to give us a loving nature, for that fulfills all of the Law and the Prophets.

If our outlook on life is other than this, it is from an unholy spirit.

Listen to what we are told took place in the synagogue, in Mark 1:23-27.

23. And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

24. saying, "What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!"

If even the demons know the truth, then we are without excuse; for whether we have the Holy Spirit or an unholy spirit within us, we know the truth and are responsible for our words and actions.

25. And Jesus rebuked him [as we should], saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"

26. And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him.

27. And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! [Note, however, that they recognized the authority of Jesus' action.] He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."

Why are people so amazed at the word and power of God, and so stubborn about heeding it?

If we want a new and bright outlook on life, if we want to cast out the darkness and gloom in our lives, if we want our lives filled with love and compassion, then listen and heed the word of God.

God loves and cares for us all, and wants only the best for us.

Listen to what He's telling us!

Amen!

Your Comments are welcome

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