|PS1RD||X||m||(Albert, age unknown, minister) unspecified|
 Somebody once said that if angelism, sharing the gospel was one beggar telling another beggar about bread, where it could be found ... and undoubtedly when he was saying that he was thinking of that story that account that we had read to us earlier from the second book of kings, chapter seven, and I'd like us to er turn back to us for a few moments this morning and perhaps draw some lessons for ourselves ... Sometimes as Christians its very easier for us to say what sins are, and we can see other people's failings, you don't have to be a Christian to do that of course, plenty of other people can do that, they see the failings of other people, they see the wrong doing they do, they see their wickedness their, their waywardness, whatever words we want to use to describe it, and we say well that is sin, perhaps for most of us this morning we could make er a list a, a, a tabulate a table of sins and we might say well they are worse sins and there are lesser sins and I would I suppose by and large there would be a fairly reasonable consensus of opinion regarding what was sins and what were not sins.
 ... Sometimes the bible surprises us a little bit of course, and it puts it finger on things that we perhaps don't really want to talk about or we don't even consider as sins ... and the bible is quite clear that not all sins are what we do ... often there what we don't do ... in parable that Jesus told concerning the traveller, the man who went down to Jericho, we don't condemn the priest and the levite for what they did, but we do condemn them for what they didn't do, their sin was not what they did, it was what they left undone, going over and looking at the man was very note worthy, as least there was some interest there ... and we don't condemn them for that, but we do condemn them for hurrying along and not reaching out and helping the man ... in the Pistol of James and chapter four and verse seventeen James says there, any one then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins ... so the sins that you and I comment or the sins rather that we are guilty of are not just the things that we do there of times the things that we don't do ... and sometimes there more difficult for us to put a finger on, we can justify them so very easily ... its been said that all it needs for evil to triumph, is for good men to say or to do nothing ... well lets look at the, that,illu illustration there that we have in the second book of kings.
 As I mentioned early the, the city of Sermaria it was under siege and the army of Seria was encamped all around it, Ben Hadad was a great warrior, he would of been the, the Alexander or the Napoleon of his day and he had set up this ... encampment around the city of Sermaria, nobody could get in, nobody could get out and very quickly the stocks of food and water er were used up, rationing would of been introduced but it only lasted for a certain period, they'd got to the stage it tells us in the previous chapter that er, that a donkeys head was sold for eighty shekel's of silver ... and some folk had even got to the, had sunk to the level of cannibalism, of eating their own children ... and the city was, when they heard about this they were in an uproar and they started blaming god ... and in between the city of Sermaria of all its suffering and hopelessness and helplessness and the army encamped about with all of their supplies, there was this area of no mans land in which they were caught up four men who were leapers and they were trapped there, they didn't want to go over to the Serians because they'd be killed, they didn't want to go back into the city because they weren't allowed there and any way what was the point, they'd only die of starvation in there ... and so these four men are caught up in no man's land and yet their no better off than people in the city, now god had promised deliverance, through his serve and Eliger he had promised deliverance, Eliger said tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a se shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel in the gate of Semaria, he said the gates are gonna be open, there's gonna be food and its gonna be a reasonable price ... and it says the royal officer who's hand the king was leaning on said the man of god said behold, if the lord shall make windows in heaven could such a thing be, he said don't talk stupid man, how can such a thing happen for us?, he didn't believe what god servant said and Eliger brings out to him a terrible judgment, he says because of your unbelief you will see it, but your not participate in it ... but lets look at these four men for a moment, cos that's where our real interest lies this morning, I just wanted to say three things in their experience, the first things is that they were amazed that, at what they found, because after they come together and they talk about it and they said well what shall we do ... and they weighed the pro's and the cons and Semaria doesn't look very attractive with its cannibalism, they said well the least ... if we stay here were gonna die, if we go into Semaria we'll die, lets go down to the Serein camp, the worse they can do to us is put us to death and were dying men any way, but they may just take pity on us, we maybe allowed to grope around in their dustbins and get some scraps of food, they may at least allow us that, and so they make their way down just as evening is falling, they make their way down to the Serein lines and when they get there, they are amazed at what they find, you see their condition was helpless and hopeless, they were dying men any way, they were lepers, but they were dying of starvation, that was far more imminent than their leprosy, their problems and their needs were greater than themselves, they could not meet their own needs, their problems and their needs were greater than their government, the king in Semaria and all of his court could not meet the needs of his people ... and then in verse five, we read something there, they arose at twilight to go to the camp of Aramians or the Serein's and when they came to the outskirts of the camp of the Serein's behold there was no one there, they expected to at least meet a guard, there would surely be somebody on sentry duty even if the rest of the soldiers had gone in to their tents and were perhaps getting ready for their, for the evening, going to bed or whatever they were gonna be doing, having their evening meal, there would at least be somebody on guard duty, but when they got there, there was no one there, god had stepped in, god had intervened and the good news of the Christian gospel is that god has intervened in our, in the midst of our helplessness, in the midst of our hopelessness, god has intervened, he had stepped in to history, so often you'll hear folks say, well why doesn't god do something, why does god allow this to happen, why does god allow that one, why doesn't he do something ... all they really show by that comment is their own ignorance, because god has done something, god has intervened, listen to what it says in John three sixteen, for god so loved the world that he gave, he's only son and the er, the er apostle Paul and he's writing to the Gallations, in chapter four and in verses four and five hear what he says there, [reading] but when the time had fully come god sent his son, born of a woman, born under law to redeem those under law that we might receive the full rights of son, er of sons  , god has done something, he's sent his son Jesus Christ into this world in fact his done the greatest thing he could do, he has done the very ultimate thing, he has sent his son into the world ... that's the greatest intervention god could ever have made, it was far greater than, than just intervening in sm , in some small local event, were you see some catastrophe happening and you say well why doesn't god do something there, or there's a war situation going on in some other part of the world, well why doesn't god step in and stop it, god has stepped in, not in a local situation, not in some er passing problem or need but he's stepped into the greatest way possible by sending his son Jesus Christ into the world to dye for men and woman, to take away sin, to pay the price that god's righteousness demands for sin ... so god has intervened and his intervention has changed the whole situation, its brought a whole new complexion on things, its changed the colour completely, no longer is the world now under darkness and in, and in pending judgment in doom, because Jesus Christ came and he took that judgment and that, that condemnation upon himself, he said I've not come to condemn the world ... he said its already condemned, its already under judgement, the sword of Damocles is already hanging over the world ... and Jesus Christ came in and to take that judgment and that condemnation on himself and when he died there on the cross and rose again, there came that burst of light in a world that had been shrouded in blackness and darkness, a world that had been shrouded in sin suddenly for the first time sees the light, god has paid for himself the price of sin, god has intervened and changed the whole situation and the message of the gospel is that if you and I allow that intervention to effect us personally, then like those four men surely we too are amazed at what we've found.
 If we've come to guard and received forgiveness of sins, if we have become good followers of Jesus Christ and we are not amazed ... then there's something wrong with what we've received ... that god should so love, not just the world, but should so love me, that he gave his son to die for me and that was the sort of er discovery that these four lepers made they've come down there, they've found that the sight before them was amazing, there was no enemy there, the enemy had disappeared and the tents with all their contents were there before them, they were amazed with what they found ... and you and I when we come to god through Jesus Christ, we are amazed at what we find, we find forgiveness, we find the restoration of a relationship between ourselves and god, we find an access to receive god's blessing to receive his favour, to receive his gifts that he has for us, no wonder the apostle Paul cries out thanks beyond to god for his unspeakable gift, but then again these four men they were not just amazed that what they found, they were, they got absorbed in what they got, because they got a lot more than they bargained for, they possibly in their wildest dreams thought they might at least get, get what the cook was throwing out, they might get to, to the dustbins, they might get what was left over, that would of been great, they were dying of starvation, the driest mouldiest crust would of been like, like a banquet to them, but they got so much more than they anticipated and they got absorbed in it, every thing was there's for the taking as they pulled back the, the flap of the tent as they go in and they see the tables laid out there, they see the food and the drink, they see the plenty, these men who for weeks have known terrible poverty, there might of been a time earlier on in the siege when a few scraps got thrown over the city wall, when the bins were put out the side of the city of an evening, er they would go there and forage amongst them, but all that had stopped long since and it was only the bits and pieces that they managed to forage for themselves and get for themselves that they'd been eating of late, but here every thing is there for the taking, they rubbed their eyes, they pinched one another to make sure their not dreaming, it really is food and drink in a, in an abundance they couldn't of thought of a few mo hours earlier ... one moment they had nothing, the next they've got every thing, what was it they needed, food, the tables would of been laden with it, it was the food, enough food for an army and there's only four of them, did they, were they thirsty, here was drink, here was wine and, and drink in abundance ... the rags, the tatters they were dressed in, there were garments and wardrobe full of clothes here for them, did they need money, well the tents were full of the gold and the silver and, and, and valuables, there were a sufficiency, every thing was there ... you know the idea that the Christian life is drab and poor is such a terrible false hood, its an iniquitous lie of the devil, the tragedy is that we have actually often made it that way, we have made the Christian faith something drab, something boring, something for old folk er and er you know, people who are, who are, just wanting a crutch because their coming to the end of their natural life and we've made it something drab and dull ... listen to what the apostle Paul says when he's writing to Carinthian's in his second letter in chapter eight, he says [reading] you know the grace of our lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might be rich, god, he's purpose follows his people, he's not that we've a drab, grey, dull uninteresting life, Jesus said I've come that you might of life, and that more abundant, that in all its fullness  ... and god has purpose for us, and when Paul is talking about riches there, he's not talking about pounds and pence, he's talking about the richness of the life that we enjoy ... its not a case of not doing this and having to do that the other thing, its a case of enjoying life as god purposes it, as god intends it ... you know if you don't enjoy your Christian life now, let me tell you your in for a rude awakening when you get to heaven, because the quality of life is not gonna change ... the only things that'll change is its la it, it will, it will be in his presence, the quality of life will not change because already now we have received eternal life, he has given his life to us and he hasn't got some other special, you know, super duper life laid up, there's nothing, there's nothing greater ahead, god hasn't got any thing greater for us than what he's already given to us in embryonic form here and now ... why if we take on er a, a, a dazzling scintillating new zest and zap when you get to heaven, that life is already given to you and to me know ... go back to these four men at the moment, they had never known any thing like this before ... this was better than all their birthdays rolled into one, this was the greatest day in their experience and if they would live to be a hundred they would never know another day like this, they were having a tremendous time, it said they, they, they, they went into one tent, listen to what they did, they went into one tent and they, they ate, they drank, they had a party and they carried from there the silver, the gold and the clothes and they went and hid they returned and entered another tent and then they did the same there, they were having a tremendous time, this was a beano to end all beano's, this was the greatest day in their life, they were having a wonderful time ... and why shouldn't they, why not ... you know there are folk who would, who'd want to make us as Christians er and er, ee, put us into a straight jacket ... the bible tells me even the sunsets free, is free indeed ... and I don't see any suggestions as I read the New Testament, that first of all the life of Jesus was drab and uninteresting, or that he expects me as his follow to lead a drab, a grey life, oh its not always gonna be a ple an easy life ... but that doesn't reduce the, the zest and the excitement in it ... but you see the danger is when having a good time is the reason for living and the only reason for it, you see, if god has intervened in our life, if the message of the gospel is true, if god in Christ has taken away your sin and made you in Christ a new creation then you have every reason to enjoy life, in a sense your only able to start enjoying life now, you may have enjoyed some of the things that, that folks suggest that make up life, but they've finished, there gone, what happens when the, when, when the wine has run out, what happens when the parties over, you know all about it the next day, don't you, what happens then, its such short lived, its only worth having whilst its coming to you all the time, but that's not so with a Christian life, because it doe , depend on just the things that we have or the experiences that we go through, because it is something that, that we have within, it is, it is a quality of life that we possess, because we possess the one who is life himself, listen to what Paul says when he's writing to Timothy in his first letter in chapter six [reading] it is command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant or to put their hope in wealth, those who think that, that er in having possessions that is the secret of life or, or in having a good time and, and, and the rest of it that is what life is all about, he said warn them not to do that, because that is so uncertain, he says but to put their hope in god who richly provides us with every thing  ... what for, for our enjoyment, why has god given us these things, why is, why is god even, he is natural creation there for us, it is for our enjoyment, its not to make us miserable or to make us grey and drab and burden by it, it is for us to enjoy, when god created Ada Adam and Eve and put them in the garden, the, they were told to enjoy it, even the fruit enjoy it, its there for your benefit ... and then the new creation, every thing that god has provided is there for our enjoyment, but the dangers is when that enjoyment, is the reason for living and that's all we do it for and were so taking up with ourselves, I am gonna have my good time, I'm gonna enjoy myself as a Christian and I can do it and you can do it, you become insular and we become introverted and the only thing that matters is me having a good time, my world centres around me and me enjoying myself and me having this and me having that, this blessing and that gift and that other blessing, we become self centred and taken up with our own good times, as long as I can be there in the centre, as long as I can go from, from, from this celebration to that celebration, as long as I can go from this er festival to that festival to this special meeting to that one, I'm gonna have my good time ... well that was what these fella's were doing, they were going from tent to tent, from celebration to celebration having a great time and then the truth hit them ... they were ashamed with what they had done, they said to one another we are not doing right, this days a day of good news, but we are keeping silent, if we wait until morning light punishment will overtake us, now therefore, come, let us go and tell the kings household ... how guilty are we, how guilty are you, how guilty am I of the sinner silence, remember how we started, its not always the things that we do ... its often the things that we don't do, how guilty are we of the sin of silence ... these men ... had known nothing, known poverty and, and, and, and starvation, they were amazed at what they'd found, they'd became absorbed in what they had got and now they'd became ashamed of what they had done with it ... what was the sin that troubled these men ... they said we are keeping silent.
 Back in the city there were thousand of people doomed, dying and all unnecessarily because here was plenty, here was sufficient for the whole city ... and possibly the greatest sin that you and I can be guilty of and that the church is generally guilty of, but you know when we talk about the church generally its, its so easy because that's general, you and I that are the church, not the denomination, not the organization, it you and I, possibly the greatest sin that we can be guilty of is the sin of silence, I'm not talking now about a rude, belligerent, discourteous, butting hole, button holding of people, I'm not talking about that, I don't see any place in gods word for that sort of attitude or that sort of approach ... but are we still silent, what about with those with whom we have the right, because we've created a relationship, because they know us and they've seen us and they've seen the experiences we've gone through and they've seen what god has done in our lives, what about with those people ... do we wait for others to do it, shifting the responsibility.
 thinking in, in, in the context of our, of our mission, this town wide mission, well that's Billy's job, he's better at it than I am, but its not his job, its my job as much as its his and its your job as much as its mine, we do not well to keep silent ... these men they were troubled by their sin of silence, perhaps you and I should be troubled by our sin of silence ... because the extension of that, and here's the really great thing, as far as they were concerned, the ex the, the ongoing because they were troubled by their sin of silence and they did something about it, they were thrilled at the sight that they saw, as they see the city being delivered, and as they see starving men and women eating food perhaps for the first time in days or weeks, buying good wholesome food at a reasonable price, that was the sigh that thrilled them and you can imagine them, and I think they'd be entitled to a little bit of pride that ... I'm glad we told them, I'm glad we went back and shared the news ... apart from any thing we couldn't of coped with all ourselves, it would of been so wrong to of kept it, it would of been so wrong just to of eaten it ourselves, I'm glad we went back and told them.
 Jesus said just before he was living his disciples, his followers, you and me, he said you shall receive power after the holy spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me ... yes we witness by our life ... but there's a danger in making that a cop out, because one other requirement of a witness is that they talk, they've gotta say what they know, these four men were good witnesses, they went back and they told the city what they had found, and there's placed upon you and me that responsibility to go back and to tell what we've found, this is a day of good tidings, we do wrong to keep silent.