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Unity: It's Your Responsibility

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Unity

It's YOUR Responsibility

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Unity: It's Your Responsibility

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Christ prayed for his disciples that they would be one, that they would have unity in His Church. We should be joined and knit together and strive to live peaceably with all. Romans 12:9-18 and other scriptures tell us how to go about this.

Sermon Notes

These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.

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This last week was filled with a lot of emotions. Worry. Frustration. Anger. Uncertainty. Support. Encouragement. Maybe your stomach was in knots about what you have heard. I’m curious how much time we have lost to this issue this last week. We often speak of happiness in trials. We should rejoice in trials. But when reality hits, it tends to throw us into a tizzy. The BP rises. I’m sure there was a lot of conversations, phone calls, Facebook entries, blog entries. Some are true; most are not. What has it profited us as a Church? How many hours have we individually spent talking with God? When a big issue like this comes up, we tend to let it be all consuming. How many hours have we studied the Bible (not blogs.) Specifically in regards to this issue. If you look at some of the blog sites (I don’t recommend it) you would see “unity”, “harmony”, “peace”. You would see “division” and “strife”. Everyone likes peace and harmony. But are we doing what we need to do to bring about unity and peace? This is a very serious topic. I want to start at the end and work backwards. We can’t control other’s actions or what they say or do or think. There was a line that rings in my head since I was kid. We can’t get into the kingdom on someone else’s coat tails. But the opposite is also true: Someone else’s coat tails can’t keep us out. Over the last 3 or 4 years, we have heard things. We have been told to watch out. Things are happening. Right or wrong, regardless of the side (sad to put it in those terms), does God know what your attentions are? Has God been able to say, “Now I know that person”? Will He be able to say it in weeks to come?

Let’s go back to the famous statement in Genesis. Genesis 22:1-12 Genesis 22:1-12 [1] And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. [2] And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of. [3] And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. [4] Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. [5] And Abraham said to his young men, Abide you here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. [6] And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. [7] And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? [8] And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. [9] And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. [10] And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. [11] And the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. [12] And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
American King James Version×
This was a great faith test between God and Abraham. Vs. 9 – This is a brief aside. We read this from Abraham’s perspective. What great faith he had to bind his only son and tell him he was the offering. It is interesting to think about it from Isaac’s perspective. He has a boy. For him to stand there and willingly be bound was a great testament to Isaac as well. He had to have a tremendous trust in his physical dad and in God as well. Vs. 12 – Now I know where you are coming from. He ended up knowing Abraham because of this physical act Abraham did. He was willing to give up everything to keep his focus on God. We have a situation stewing in the Church now. There are conversations we will have and emails we will read. Will God know you based on how you react in the coming weeks? Will God say, “Now I know what you will do?” 2 Chronicles 32:27-31 2 Chronicles 32:27-31 [27] And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honor: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels; [28] Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks. [29] Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much. [30] This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. [31] However, in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
American King James Version×
Vs. 27 – What a way to start a segment off about the blessings God gave to Hezekiah. Vs. 31 – These princes were some sort of spies. God wanted to know Hezekiah like He knew Abraham. He wanted to see where his loyalties were. God was the one that blessed Hezekiah. He wanted to know what Hezekiah would do with the blessings.

John 17:20-21 John 17:20-21 [20] Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; [21] That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
American King James Version×
Vs. 21 – Christ’s own prayer was for unity. For oneness. He was not praying for multiples. For twos, hundreds, or thousands. God wants to know where our heart is. Will we be one with God, or will be separate? Will we focus on Him, or on someone we like? God wants us to always focus on Him. Peace, harmony, and unity are in God’s mind, the same thing. If we are to participate in the kingdom of God, we must be people of peace, harmony, and unity. Or we won’t be in God’s family. What do you think peace is? We think of it as the absence of war. Is it just that? If you are not fighting with your spouse and your kids are doing what they are told, is that peace? The guns are still locked up. The Bible defines peace as harmony. Thayer’s defines “peace” as harmony. They are related. We have had peace in this country in one way since the middle 1800’s. But are we in harmony? Do you think Congress and the President and everyone else is working together? There is an absence of war, but is it peace?

Genesis 13:7-9 Genesis 13:7-9 [7] And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. [8] And Abram said to Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray you, between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we be brothers. [9] Is not the whole land before you? separate yourself, I pray you, from me: if you will take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
American King James Version×
This is the story of Abraham and Lot. Vs. 7 – The contention was strong between these two families. That breeds strife and division. God is not a God of strife or division. Vs. 9 – What Abraham is uttering is not typical of what comes out of the mouth of humans. He is looking for harmony and peace and unity with Lot. We normally choose the best for ourselves. Most of our decisions are self centered. We look out for ourselves. Abraham said take what you want and I’ll take what is left. Abraham invested in a harmonious relationship. He said it is not about me. It is not about my cattle getting fat off this beautiful grass. It is about peace and harmony. They had the choice of two parts. On one side, a jagged area with no water. On the other was a lush valley with the only water. This was the choice Abraham gave to Lot. I wonder what went through Lot’s mind. No duh. I’ll take this one. Oh if you are going to give me the choice, I’ll take this one and grow fat down here. Being a peace maker requires that your goal is not self centered. Your goal is peace and harmony. There is something different about those God works with. They have God’s spirit. They should use that spirit to foster a harmonious relationship with other individuals. Ishmael was the complete opposite of Abraham.

Genesis 16:12 Genesis 16:12And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brothers.
American King James Version×
He was full of strife. What kind of relationships does this breed? Not just foreign powers, but in his family. Even today, his descendants still are infighting and killing each other. This world continues to fracture under Satan’s influence. Abraham was all about harmony and peace. While the choicest land was at his hand, he gave it up for harmony with Lot. And you might say, he lost out. He had to move up into the rocky area. But in the long run, who won? Jesus is all about harmony. He wants to bring that to all humans who have ever lived. John 14:27 John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
American King James Version×
This is something special Christ gives to us. The two instances of “peace” here are the Greek word that means “harmony”. G1515 εἰρήνη eirēnē i-rah'-nay Probably from a primary verb εἴρω eirō (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication prosperity: - one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again. Thayer Definition: 1) a state of national tranquillity 1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war 2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord 3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous) 4) of the Messiah’s peace 4a) the way that leads to peace (salvation) 5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is 6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death Part of Speech: noun feminine A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: probably from a primary verb eiro (to join) Citing in TDNT: 2:400, 207 It is not just the absence of war. God’s harmony, that oneness, is what He gives us. Christ knew He would go and die, but leave something special for us. He was not leaving worldly harmony, but godly harmony. Getting into the kingdom of God. Living and ruling with God. Overcoming our sins.

Psalms 133:1-3 Psalms 133:1-3 [1] Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! [2] It is like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down on the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; [3] As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for ever more.
American King James Version×
This is a song David wrote that would have been sung on the way to Jerusalem to keep feast days. Vs. 1 – David recognized the importance of harmony. We seem to think of harmony as good when it happens. Oh, look at that. They are getting along. Vs. 3 – I’m sure we’ve read this before, but have you picked up on the fact that there is a commanded blessing here. For those that practice unity in verse 1, there is life forevermore in verse 3. It is not an optional blessing. Sorry, today is not the day I’m handing that out. If we practice harmony and unity, God gives us eternal life. The title for the sermon is “Unity It is Your Responsibility”. Some just sit back and say it they are just lay members; this is for the leaders. But if we individually practice harmony and unity, this blessing is for us. Don’t shrug it off and say let the ministry figure it out or let the council figure it out. God judges us each individually. We can’t get into the kingdom on someone else’s coat tail. Does God know you?

Proverbs 6:16-19 Proverbs 6:16-19 [16] These six things does the LORD hate: yes, seven are an abomination to him: [17] A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, [18] An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, [19] A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers.
American King James Version×
Vs. 16 – Here are 7 things God hates. If we took a blind poll, nobody would want to be in the cross hairs of God Almighty. You had better stay out of these things. Vs. 19 – When God hates something, that is something we should stay far, far away from. One thing He hates is someone who doesn’t practice harmony. He hates discord, strife and contention. The alternative is peace and harmony. Having give and take and working with others. We as individuals need to work on this as well. Our mentality is all about freedom. I want to be independent; that way nobody tells me what to do. This idea of harmony is foreign to us as humans. Go back to the Garden of Eden. Mr. Armstrong loved to talk about those trees. Do you want to live in harmony or not? Jesus came and set the opposite example of what Satan was trying to do with those trees. He was here to do the Father’s will; He was in complete submission to Him. We have to look beyond ourselves and freedom. Burger King says, “Have it your way.” God’s way is not a have it your way way of life. God’s way is all about peace and harmony. Christ came and died so we can have that relationship with God. Two words come up: Concede and compromise. Concede means that you are working on that harmonious relationship. Compromise means to give up something. We shouldn’t compromise with what God commands. Church on Sunday? Sure, in the spirit of harmony, why not. We can’t compromise on this.

Ephesians 4:14-16 Ephesians 4:14-16 [14] That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×
Vs. 14 – This states the problem. Vs. 15-16 – The solution. Instead of doing those things, speak the truth in love. We read last week in Matthew that Christ is the head of the Church. It is not a man. Christ Himself is the head of that body of those God is working with and calling. Vs. 16 – Great harmony words. Joined and knit together. This is harmony in action. Everybody giving to everybody else. Everybody is working on harmony and striving toward unity. It causes growth in the body. That is what we want. We want to overcome sins. Those that have God’s love will exercise joy and harmony just like Jesus Christ. We will be one like Christ and the Father are one. We must be an agent of peace that will help the Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ – bring harmony to the entire world. It begins with getting the focus off of ourselves. We get an idea we think is so important. What happens when you confront someone else with a different idea? Will you go with it because of harmony? Have you ever heard of a horrible idea that worked when people worked together? Other times, the best plans fall when there is a lack of harmony. A difference of opinion doesn’t justify a lack of unity. We can’t demand that everything be done in our way. That is not what Abraham did. You can choose any property, but that one is already reserved. We can’t demand that things be done our way. That is not an Abraham-like way.

When Christ came to the scourging, He had seen the pain on people’s eyes as they died. But did He yield to God to His last breath in the spirit of harmony? Yes. He said, “Not my will, but Yours.” Harmony all the way through to when He died. Try just once, if you are stupid enough, to go forward with your own will. Forget harmony with your spouse and family and coworkers. See how long things last. Not long. There have been a lot of break off groups. In the 1980s, it was already in the 300s. How many broke off in order to preserve doctrine? A few. How many to grow the spiritual integrity of the brethren? To become more God-like? How many to promote their own ideas? Most of them. Think of them as little temper tantrums. I’m not getting my own way; I’m starting my own church. Where is the harmony in that? I’m not getting my own way. I’m not getting on TV. I’m going to leave. God is all about harmony. God and Christ want us to be one with them. Not two. Not three. Not a dozen. That doesn’t promote Godly unity. Romans 15:5 Romans 15:5Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×
(Change of batteries in the microphone.) Vs. 5 – “Like minded” here is the same Greek word that means harmony. This is not what our society is all about. They want it to be all about themselves. This is God’s desire for us – unification. Society likes to be in each other’s face. Have it your way. Let your ideas reign. That is not what God says.

Philippians 2:2 Philippians 2:2Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
American King James Version×
(CEV) Now make me completely happy. Live in harmony. Be united in what you think as if you were only one person. What kind of family unit would you have if you operated as one person? That would be intense. What if all of us here thought like one person? We would have an awesome congregation. This goes to personal responsibility. We each have a part to play in this and to promote this. Matthew 5:9 Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
American King James Version×
These are the Beatitudes – the attitudes we should have. “Peacemaker” in Greek means one who not only studies peace but diffuses it. G1518 εἰρηνοποιός eirēnopoios i-ray-nop-oy-os' From G1518 and G4160; pacificatory, that is, (subjectively) peaceable: - peacemaker. Thayer Definition: 1) a peacemaker 2) pacific, loving peace Part of Speech: adjective A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G1518 and G4160 Citing in TDNT: 2:419, 207 Do we diffuse bad situations or do we egg them on? Do we get on blog sites and egg people on to things they think are true? Or do we point them to the kingdom and back to building godly righteousness?

Romans 12:9-18 Romans 12:9-18 [9] Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; hold to that which is good. [10] Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; [11] Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; [12] Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; [13] Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. [14] Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. [15] Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. [16] Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. [17] Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. [18] If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.
American King James Version×
Last year about this time, Mr. Kilough gave a great sermon on Satan’s tactics of accusing the brethren. Accusations are all too easy to throw around. Satan wants us to spread rumors and gossip about each other. Vs. 18 – “Peaceably” is the Greek word that means harmony. We should have the same goals and desires instead of tossing around accusations. We should have the goal of the great future that is off in front of us. Accusations are what Satan wants us to do. Did you hear? I can’t imagine what they are thinking? What are they trying to do, split the church? I don’t know if it is true… These are Satan’s tactics. He wants us all to go away and fall into the cracks and throw away the crown that is laid up for us. Last Wednesday, we talked about the four enemies of faith. One was doubt. When we accuse people, it causes doubt. Did you hear about…? Now you wonder about that person. Did you before? Probably not. But now you do. God hates that. Christ had strong words to say to His disciples about doubt. God wants us to all be of one mind. He wants us to be harmonious and serve each other. We have a part to play in this as members of God’s Church.

Colossians 3:12-15 Colossians 3:12-15 [12] Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; [13] Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. [14] And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection. [15] And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
American King James Version×
Vs. 12 – Do you ever think of yourself in these terms? We are the elect. We are holy and set apart by God. This is us. Vs. 15 – Let the harmony – it is the same Greek word – rule in your hearts. God wants to check us to see what our intentions are. He wants to know us and know where we stand. He wants His spirit of harmony to rule in our hearts. We must be focused on serving and unity. This is up to each of us individually. We have to promote peace and harmony. 2 Corinthians 13:11 2 Corinthians 13:11Finally, brothers, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
American King James Version×
This is Paul’s farewell to the Corinthians. Vs. 11 – “Live in harmony” – same Greek word – and let the God of harmony be with you. This is an integral part of God’s purpose for us. We are called to be harmony makers. If we are, we will be there. In a world on facebook posts and tweets, make sure yours are building harmony. Make sure they point us back to God. In a time of turmoil, be harmony makers. Seek first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness.

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