Promise Keepers

In The Sermon On The Mount, Jesus Teaches Powerful Lessons On Keeping Promises

Bryan Vander Tuig
May 7, 2023    43m
In our study of the Book of Matthew, Jesus taught powerful lessons about keeping promises. He speaks to God's design for marriage and reminds us that it is a promise of a permanent union. He also talks about oaths and reminds us that an oath is more than words, it is about how we live and the attitude of our hearts. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Life Bible - Promise Keepers
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Paul Seawright: [00:00:19] Beautiful worship this morning, thank you, worship team. My name is Paul Seawright. Today's scripture reading comes from Matthew chapter 5, verses 31 through 37, “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." And this is God's Word.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:01:41] Good morning. My name is Bryan Vander Tuig, and my wife Kathy and I have had the great privilege of being a part of this community of faith for coming up on seven years. And when I get the chance to preach, I always want to let you know how much we love being a part of this community of faith. God brought us here, and it's been a really great place for us. My wife serves in the women’s ministry, and we're a part of a life group, and yeah, we just feel connected to this body of believers and we're grateful for that. Occasionally, Pastor Dan asks me to preach, and he throws these softball topics at me like divorce, can you give me something a little more challenging next time Pastor Dan?

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:02:32] So if you're 50 years old or older, you may recall that in the 1990s there was a movement in the Christian community called Promise Keepers. How many of you remember Promise Keepers? A good number of you, and you just identified yourself as the old people here. And I'm right there with you, right there with you. It was a movement that God had put on the heart of a college football coach, Bill McCartney, this needs to remind Christian men about the promises that they had made, promises to God, promises to their spouse, promises to their children, promises to other people, and to live lives of integrity as we lived out those promises. And I attended my first Promise Keepers conference in 1994, it was held at Anaheim Stadium, Angel Stadium. And I remember it was a powerful experience for me, I was in my mid-20s at the time and God was doing a movement in my own heart and it was powerful. And I remember it had an impact on the church that I was attending at that time. But even when I was at that conference, I remember thinking to myself, wow, God, if you really wanted to do a powerful movement, it would probably be better to have it at Dodger Stadium and not at Angel Stadium. Right? How many agree with that? Amen? Amen. Right. But it did, it had a big impact on me, and I think on the Christian community. And this morning, we kind of go back to that. This morning, we're going to talk about being promise keepers, and being people that God calls us to be.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:04:06] And so I want to just do a little poll here. How many of you have ever made a promise to somebody? Raise your hand if you've made a promise. Almost every one of us. Right? So this next question has a little more vulnerability required. How many of you have broken a promise that you've made to somebody? Almost all of us. Remember that for later in the message. How many of you have had a promise made to you that somebody else broke? Yeah, almost all of us, too. Right? And that's where, like, pain and hurt enter into that, right, when we experience broken promises.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:04:41] This morning you heard the text that was read from Matthew chapter 5, and we're going to address keeping promises this morning in the context of the marriage relationship, and in the context of keeping our word. And in the context of marriage, we will speak about what God's design is and what God's Word says concerning divorce. And last week, Pastor Dan had his own difficult text that he preached from Matthew 5, with anger and murder and lust and adultery. And Pastor Dan mentioned in his own sermon, he said, I don't want you to leave burdened after this message. And I want you to know that that's my heart as well. The goal is not that we would leave burdened, the goal is that we would hear God's Word, that we would receive it, that we would allow the Holy Spirit in love to do his work in our hearts. And if that's conviction, it's conviction; if it's to hear truth, it's truth, it's to receive God's mercy and grace in all of that, of course, that's the desire. Because this is a topic that has the possibility of causing people to leave feeling burdened, right?

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:05:53] Broken promises are prevalent in our society, and they are prevalent even in the church. As a matter of fact, just to kind of give you a window into my life, divorce has directly impacted two of my three siblings in my own family. And in all honesty, the third sibling was very close to a divorce a few years ago, but in God's grace, their marriage was restored. And so it hits home with me as well. So it can be an uncomfortable topic, but here's what I want to say. While uncomfortable, the greater context of this passage is life in God's kingdom, and God's call for us as followers of Christ. And so that's why we need to address it. And so we're going to address this difficult topic and promise keeping in general. But I pray, my prayer, is that as I do that, that my words would be spoken with grace, with love, with empathy, and with conviction.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:06:58] And so would you pray with me as we begin this journey together? God, we thank you for who you are. First of all, we thank you for your word, which is truth. But God, even when Jesus came, he came in in truth and in grace. And so I pray that your words, from your word this morning, would be spoken with truth and with grace, and that God, you would give us open ears and open hearts to let your Holy Spirit in love do a good work in us. God, Your desire is for us to be a people who are light and salt, and so equip us to do that. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:07:40] So the key thought this morning that you're going to hear me say a number of times is when we are promise keepers, we show that God is a promise keeper. When we keep the promises that we say, then we show that God is a promise keeper. And so first we're going to talk about verses 31 and 32 in the text, and we're going to talk about keeping promises in the context of the marriage relationship. And so for this specific section, kind of the main point is this, in God's design, marriage is intended to be a permanent union. In God's design, marriage is intended to be a permanent union.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:08:23] Let me read verses 31 and 32 again, just so it's refreshed in our minds. Jesus says this, “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ f 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." So in verse 31, Jesus states what the common practice, and what the primary teaching of his day was.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:08:55] If a man was going to divorce his wife, he had to give her a certificate of divorce. And in verse 32, Jesus sets the standard for marriage that God originally intended from the beginning. And we'll come back to that in a few minutes.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:09:11] But let's take a closer look at this idea of a certificate of divorce, and what was the common teaching in Jesus's day. Verse 31 is a direct reference to an Old Testament passage in Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy chapter 24 verses 1 through 4. Deuteronomy 24 is the most significant Old Testament passage that pertains to divorce, and I'll summarize those verses for you. Deuteronomy 24 1 through 4 essentially says this, if a married man finds something displeasing about his wife because he finds something indecent about her, he issues her a certificate of divorce. Now, let me take a time out and talk about that word indecent, because that's kind of the keyword in this text, and you'll see that in a minute. The word indecent most likely refers to some immodest exposure or unwomanly conduct on the part of the wife, something that was sexual in nature. Okay? So let me kind of back up again and start over, if a married man finds something displeasing about his wife because he finds something indecent about her and issues her a certificate of divorce, he places it in his wife's hand, in his wife's hand, and he sends her on her way. If after she leaves the house, she remarries another man who finds something indecent about her and he issues her a certificate of divorce. Then what the text says is the first husband is not permitted to remarry her because she has been defiled, because she has been with somebody else sexually.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:10:55] Now, interesting, what this text is about, is that original marriage, the focus is the original relationship. Okay? So this Old Testament passage speaks directly about divorce, but it does certain things, and it doesn't do certain things. Let's talk about what this text and what these regulations do and do not do. Here's what these regulations did do, the regulations set forth in Deuteronomy 24 regulate divorce and put some parameters around it. Okay? Already in the community of Israel, so Deuteronomy is a kind of a sermon given by Moses, they're on the banks of the Jordan River in the land of Moab, ready to enter into the Promised Land. And this is kind of Moses's final sermon to the people, and it's all about remembering, remember what God said, remember what God said. And so already at that time in that community of faith, divorce was very prevalent, and so these regulations kind of regulated it and put some parameters around it.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:12:03] Second, it protected the woman from a husband who might simply send her away without any real cause. So it protected her. And it documented her status as a legitimately divorced woman so that she would not be thought of as a harlot or a runaway adulteress. So there were some protections put in place for the woman who was given a certificate of divorce. But here's what the regulations did not do, they did not address the rightness or wrongness of divorce, nor the permissible causes of divorce, but they only dealt with the aftermath of the divorce, which is assumed to have already taken place. When I summarize that text, it was as if they were talking as if the divorce from the first husband and the first wife had already taken place, and now it's moved to the second husband and the second wife, and then it says, oh, hey, by the way, if that second husband issues a certificate of divorce, that first husband can't remarry her. So it's already assumed that the divorce has happened, and all it's doing is dealing with the aftermath of that divorce. It did not address the rightness or wrongness, and it did not give a permissible cause of divorce. In fact, there is no Old Testament law which institutes or gives permission for divorce, it just deals with the aftermath of it.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:13:34] So Jesus brings the readers, the listeners, and the audience back to the Old Testament. Now, fast forward in the time of Jesus, this text, and that word indecency or indecent, was debated heavily amongst the rabbis and the teachers of the law of Jesus's day. And the debate focused on that word indecent. And by the time of Jesus, to kind of primary schools of thought had kind of risen to the top. And they were known as the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel, and Shammai was a rabbi and Hillel was a rabbi. The School of Shammai took a more conservative approach towards that Deuteronomy text and said divorce is only permissible in cases of marital unfaithfulness, in cases of adultery. The School of Hillel, on the other hand, was a little bit more liberal in their interpretation of that Old Testament text. They said divorce was allowable for any reason or for any act, that the husband found displeasing about his wife. And in the Mishnah, which is kind of the commentary or the written record of the rabbinical teachings, there's even a statement in there that Hillel himself said, hey, if she burns your toast, you can send her on her way, right? If she overcooks your eggs, you don't like how she does it, send her on her way, it was that kind of a liberal approach to this idea of divorce. Okay? So these were the schools of thought that were in place at the time of Jesus.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:15:02] And interestingly, we see this come to life in real-time in Matthew chapter 19, where the Pharisees come to Jesus, and they want to kind of test him on this. So if you have your Bibles, you can turn to Matthew 19, we're going to move through it pretty quickly. But in that passage, the Pharisees asked Jesus two questions that deal with divorce the first question is found in verse 3. It says, "Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” Now, that sounds very clear, like they're saying, hey, is Hillel right here? Is Hillel's teaching the way to go? And Jesus's response in verses 4 through 6 basically says, no, we need to go back to the original intent of God as given in the Garden of Eden. And Jesus in verse 4 says, he brings them back to the garden and he says, "God made them male and female." And that's a direct quote from Genesis 1, verse 27. And we know in Genesis 2, Jesus said it was not good for man to be alone, so God created a woman for him, and God brought the first bride to the first husband and established the first human family.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:16:22] And then in verse 5 of chapter 19, Jesus again quoting the creation story, said, "A man will leave his parents and be united with his wife and the two will become one flesh. They are no longer two but one." And that idea of one flesh is a new union is created, it's no longer two individuals, it's one new union, and that is created through the act of sexual intercourse. And Jesus, in verse 6, even takes the next step. He adds to it, he says, "So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Jesus clearly sets out God's design for marriage as a permanent, irrevocable vow.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:17:14] But the Pharisees weren't done yet, they had another question in verse 7. They said, "Well, then Jesus, why did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her on her way?" And Jesus responds and he says, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives." Notice he didn't say Moses commanded; they used the word commanded. Jesus uses a different word, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard, but it was not this way from the beginning." Jesus says, "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife except for marital unfaithfulness and marries another woman commits adultery."

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:17:58] You see in that Old Testament text; God gave the people a law that regulated a sinful behavior that was already present. And by the time of Jesus, divorce for the most trivial reasons, was taking place. And in that, sinful attitudes and sinful behaviors were exposed. You see, divorce always evidences the presence of sin and the hardness of hearts, at least on the part of one spouse. And what Jesus is doing is he's saying, Pharisees, you're focusing on the wrong thing here. He said you're focusing on the loopholes you're focusing on the things that allow you to continue in your sinful behavior and for the people to continue in their sinful behavior. And Jesus says, get your eyes off the loopholes and come back to the original intent that the Father gave in the garden when he brought Adam and Eve together, a union that is irrevocable. It's very clear that according to the teaching of God's word, marriage is intended to be for life. Jesus said himself, divorce separates what God brings together.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:19:13] Now, that's the what? Right? That's the what of the biblical teaching of divorce and marriage and God's intent for marriage. But I think what often helps me, and I think helps others is we often need to understand the why behind the what. Right? If someone says, I want you to do something, sometimes it helps to understand why they want us to do it, right? That gives us a greater context and motivation to then do that.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:19:40] And I think that's what we need to do here. We have to ask why? Why did God create marriage to be permanent? Why is it so important that we keep our promises and our wedding vows? Well, here's the reason, God ordained marriage because it would be a means by which he would demonstrate part of his character and being to the world. Let me say that again, God ordained marriage because it would be a means by which he would demonstrate part of his character and being to the world. Right? God reveals himself through individuals, us as individuals, as followers of Christ, were filled with the Holy Spirit. And as we go out and live our lives, God reveals himself to others through us. Right? Do you agree with that? God also reveals himself through the community of faith, right? When we do things as a community of faith, out in the world, God reveals himself through us as a community of faith. Well, I believe that God wants to do that same thing through a Christian marriage, that God wants to reveal part of his character and his being to the world through that marriage relationship.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:20:50] Cathy and I, my wife and I, just a few weeks ago began to meet with a young couple that is getting married in July. We often have the opportunity to do premarital counseling with young couples, and it's oftentimes it's me by myself, but this time Cathy's joining me. And I love it when she does that, because she brings a lot more wisdom to these things than I do, quite frankly, That's a joke, laugh. Come on, people. So we're meeting with this couple, and we've known the groom-to-be since he was in elementary school, we've known him for a long time. And it's a wonderful joy for us to do that. And on our first meeting, our intention is, man, we're going to lay some foundational stuff about marriage here. And so one of the first questions we asked at that first meeting is, what do you think God's purpose in marriage is? And it was really nice to hear their answers, and they were not incorrect answers at all, but they said, oh, so that we can love each other, and that we can serve together in the church, and all of these really good, right things. But we said, you know what, we want to kind of give you a bigger context and a bigger picture of what we think God wants to do in your marriage relationship. God wants to reveal himself to the world through you. God wants to reveal himself to the world, through how you interact with each other in your marriage relationship. God's intent is that the world will see in that relationship a representation of who He is and how he loves. That he is a patient God, that he is slow to anger, that he is a God who forgives.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:22:34] So we see, I think that's God's original, I think that's God's intent in the marriage relationship. And we see that kind of played out all throughout Scripture, there's this theme from the Old Testament all the way through the New Testament of how God metaphorically describes his relationship with his people as a marriage relationship. In the Old Testament with the people of Israel, He's the bridegroom, they're the bride. And we see that God's original intention was for a permanent marriage union even in that relationship, right? We know that the people of Israel were often rebellious, that they committed spiritual adultery, and they worshiped other gods, and yet God remained faithful to them. As they were unfaithful to God, God remained faithful to them, and it teaches us God's expectation for the permanency of marriage, and the long-suffering commitment of the husband for his wife. It's a picture of God as a promise keeper, in spite of the most difficult circumstances.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:23:36] And in the New Testament, that same theme keeps running through. Right? God demonstrates his intent for marriage through the illustration of the relationship of Jesus Christ with His bride, the Church. We see this in Ephesians chapter 5, and maybe you've heard this text read at different marriage ceremonies., Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. But holy and blameless. You see when God joins a man or a woman to Jesus Christ in a salvation relationship through faith, He does so in love and in a bond that will endure forever. With Jesus's life and his death and his resurrection, he became the living embodiment of the bridegroom and a faithful husband who was willing to give up his life for the bride that he loved. This is the model for marriage given to us throughout the scriptures. It's a picture of a promise keeper in spite of the most difficult circumstances.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:24:55] And so a Christian couple, I believe, shows God's character to the world when they forgive each other over and over again. Couples that I do pre-marital counseling with, I tell them in our sessions, Hey, in the ceremony, I'm going to ask you a question. I'm going to ask you, What are the five most important words that you can say to each other in your marriage relationship and in front of hundreds of witnesses and guests? I'm hoping that they get it by then. But the five words are this I'm sorry and I forgive you. Right? Because that attitude and that that action of forgiveness and confession and a sorrowful, repentant heart to a spouse when we wrong each other, that reflects God's character to the world. And so I want them to know that God's character is reflected to the world when they serve each other, putting their needs, putting the needs of their spouse above their own needs. God's character is reflected to the world when they demonstrate long suffering commitment regardless of the circumstances, they find themselves in. Right. We've heard these vows that are kind of in some ways considered old fashioned today. Right. In sickness and in health. For rich or for poor? For better or for worse. Until death do us part. Right. It's this idea of a permanent union that nothing separates what God has brought together. Jesus does give one exception for divorce, though in verse 32 and in verse nine of Chapter 19, Jesus does allow for divorce in cases of marital unfaithfulness.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:26:42] And the Greek word there is translate that we translate marital unfaithfulness as porneia, which is what? Where we get our word pornography. Right? But it's really commonly understood to be to mean adultery on the part of a spouse. And this is the one exception where the scriptures allow for divorce, but it's not commanded. It's an option. And I believe that God's heart is always for reconciliation. And we see that all throughout scripture. And we can go back to the Garden of Eden. And as soon as Adam and Eve committed their own rebellion against God, God put a plan in place to reconcile his people to himself. And ultimately that points us to Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross and the means by which we are reconciled to the Father. And that is the heart of the Father. It's always reconciliation. But God knows that when there is adultery, there's a break of that union that God brought together. And this is the one exception that he allows. And maybe someone here this morning finds yourself in that place. Maybe you have found out that your spouse has been unfaithful, and you are contemplating divorce. What I would say to you this morning is this Find a pastor here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. Find a good Christian counselor who can walk that journey with you.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:28:06] And I would also say this, God will not abandon you in your time of need and despair. God will not abandon you. We are called to be promise keepers, that is the life that we are called to be, to live in God's kingdom. And this next section is about keeping our word, and it's very similar in theme as the first section. The first section really deals with marriage and divorce, but it's really about keeping promises. And the second section is about keeping our word and keeping our promises in the words that we speak. And let me just reread verses 33 through 37 to refresh your mind, "Again, Jesus says you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, Do not break your oath and keep the oaths you have made to the Lord. But I tell you, do not swear at all either by heaven, for it is God's throne or by the earth, for it is His footstool or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair, white or black. Simply let your yes be yes and your no no. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:29:21] The principle for this section is this faithful living speaks louder than oaths. Faithful living speaks louder than oaths. We're reminded in this section of the text about the importance, as followers of Christ in speaking the truth. And in verse 33, Jesus again goes back to the Old Testament, and he summarizes kind of the Old Testament teaching regarding vows and oaths. And in the Old Testament, the Old Testament did not preclude the use of vows, it did not preclude the use of oaths, and in some instances, actually it commanded their use because in that time, an oath or a vow sometimes helped the person remain faithful to what they had stated, to their stated commitment. But here's what the Old Testament law did require, it required that a person be true to any oath that they made. In other words, if you're going to use an oath, as the Old Testament said, then you need to make sure that you do what you say.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:29:32] Look at Deuteronomy chapter 23, verse 21, I'll just read the one up here, "If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin." Let me read a different version, "Whatever your lips utter, you must be sure to do because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth." Whatever your lips utter, you must be sure to do it. So Jesus summarizes that Old Testament law. Now again, come with me and fast forward to the time of Jesus and what the rabbis had done and what the rabbis were teaching the community of faith. By the time of Jesus, they had developed this highly structured hierarchy of oaths. So if someone wasn't really serious about an oath, he would swear by something that was considered less sacred, something like heaven or earth or Jerusalem, or the gold of the temple or the sacrifice on the altar. And they thought that since they didn't invoke the name of God, then their oath wasn't binding, or so they thought. And so ultimately their search for loopholes because that's what they were doing, they were finding ways so that they did not have to stay true to their word. And ultimately, their search for loopholes led to a word that was no longer valuable, and they could not be trusted. Their word was no longer believable, it was worthless.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:32:01] Now, for some of you that raised your hand early on, and you were familiar with Promise Keepers, you're kind of in that same generation as me. And I remember when I was a young kid on the playground, there was an oath that we would kind of say to each other if we really wanted somebody to believe that we were going to do something. And I'm going to start, and I have a feeling some of you are going to be able to finish it. It went something like this, cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. Who's sick thought is that right? I mean, little kids were talking about hoping to die sticking needles in my eye. Whose thought was that? But we would say that to each other on the playground. Right? And even back then, though, I kind of can remember, like my buddies, if we said that to each other, already, then as like a third or fourth grader, I'd be looking at him like, yeah, you're not going to do what you said you were going to do because you had to say that, right? It's more unbelievable because you actually had to say that, right. We look for loopholes, and that's what was happening in the time of Jesus. Finding loopholes and taking unnecessary oaths, devalue our word, they don't make it more valuable and more believable, it actually devalues our word, and Jesus knew that.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:33:22] And so Jesus, in verses 34 to 36, he almost makes a total prohibition against taking vows. But we know that through other New Testament teachings that that's not necessarily the case. But here's what I believe Jesus was doing, Jesus was addressing that whole idea of second-class oaths that avoided the name of God so that they wouldn't have to be binding, but Jesus was in fact saying they do invoke the name of God. You can say it's about Jerusalem, or you can say it's about the sacrifice on the altar, you can say it's about heaven, or you can say it's about Earth, you can say it's about the hair on your head or the lack of hair on your head in my case. but Jesus is saying it's all tied to God. God's the creator of it all, God is over all of it. So you can, in your mind, think that you're not invoking the name of God, but Jesus is saying, in fact, you really are. And so Jesus is saying to his followers, it's got to be simpler than that, let your yes be yes and your no be no. A trustworthy, faithful life speaks louder than the oaths that we say. And that's, I think, what Jesus is getting at, he's getting at the character of our heart.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:34:39] Let me give you an illustration. Tomorrow in my job, we will, in an office right next door to my office, we will swear in six new employees to our agency. And in the swearing-in ceremony, it's very formal, they're between the American flag and our agency flag, and everybody's dressed up and it's a very formal ceremony. And they swear to defend the Constitution of the United States, and they swear to uphold the practices of our agency and everything that we say that we are about. But there are times, quite honestly, when we have to let employees go because they did not live up to the oath that they swore to uphold. Right? Ultimately, what comes about is that the character of their heart did not line up with the oath that they were stating, and so we have to let them go, that occasionally happens. And I think that kind of demonstrates for us that it's not so much the words that we say, it's about the actions that we live, it's about the attitude of our heart. And that's what Jesus is doing, he's bringing his audience back to God's original intention in the law. It's not about the oaths or the vows, it's about the character of your heart. Oaths ultimately don't matter, it's about your heart. So our actions speak louder than any oath we could ever take. It all comes back to keeping our promises by our actions. And when we do that through our actions, we show that God is a promise keeper.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:36:22] Maybe this morning you're here and you're thinking about some promises that you haven't kept, maybe promises to your children, maybe promises to your employer, maybe promises to a neighbor, to a friend, maybe promises to your small group or your life group here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. I think Jesus is calling all of us back to being promise keepers, to remind us that it's about life in His kingdom, and as we live out the life of a promise keeper, we are reflecting God's glory then to the world around us. So what do we do if we have broken those promises? What do we do this morning if we have not been faithful to the promises we've made to our spouse, or to our children, or to our friends, to the community? I believe that the same Father that remained faithful to the people of Israel, the same Father who sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, to reconcile us to himself, is that same Father who will receive you in love and in grace and mercy.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:37:34] I'm often reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The parable of the prodigal son is about a son who disgraced his father, who shamed his father, and who took what really wasn't rightfully his, an inheritance before the father passed. He wasn't even the oldest son, so it really wasn't rightfully his, but he demanded it and the father gave it to him. He fled, and he went to this other country, and he lived a life of indulgence, and lived a life of sin, and indulging everything that the flesh desired. But there came a point when the son realized that this was not who he was called to be, and the text says he came to his senses, and I think that's another way of saying he repented. He realized that he needed to leave the life of sin and he needed to run back to the father. And so he does, he begins this journey back to the father, and the whole time he's walking back to his home, he's practicing his repentance speech. God, Father, I know I've sinned against you, I'm not worthy to be your son, and he's thinking he's going to run into an angry father. But instead of an angry father, as he gets close to home, the father's been watching for him, looking for him, and instead of being angry, the father hikes up his robe and he runs to him, and he embraces him and he says, put a ring on my son, put a new robe on him, put sandals on his feet, kill the fattened calf, we're going to have a party because my son, who was lost, has been found. That's the Father that will receive us, the Father who will forgive us for those promises that we have broken. And honestly, right, we know this, that some promises that we break have a greater impact, a greater trickle effect than other promises, but they're all broken promises. And when we did that poll early in the service, almost all of us raised our hands, and said we've broken promises. And so at some level, we all need to experience God's grace and his goodness and his faithfulness and his mercy and to receive his love for us.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:39:29] So I want to end this morning, and just give a few minutes for you to quietly pray to God and maybe you need to confess this morning. Maybe you have a broken promise in your past that you've never really dealt with before the Lord, I would just really encourage you to let the Holy Spirit in love do that, work in you, and maybe you need to confess that before the Lord and to receive his forgiveness. Maybe it's just being reminded and just recommitting yourself to the promises that you've made before the Lord and stating that again to God. And so we're going to close this morning, I'm going to invite the elders and the pastors to come forward, and the prayer team, and they'll be available for after we're done praying. But I'm going to give you a few minutes to just have your time with the Lord, and then I will close us in prayer, and then if you need prayer after the service, there will be people up here ready to meet with you.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:40:25] Let's pray. God, I believe that your Spirit is at work in our midst right now, we sang that earlier in our worship time. God that you're moving and you're working in our hearts and your desire is to shape us and to mold us into the people that you want us to be, a people that would reflect your glory to the world. And God, sometimes that means that you have to do a hard work in our hearts, and you bring us to show us our sin, and you bring us to a place of repentance. And God, we know that's an act of your love and of your mercy. God, I pray if that's happening, that there would also be this sense of knowing that you're that Father who runs, you're that Father who is gracious and merciful and faithful, that you will never leave us and you will never forsake us. God, I pray that you would equip us to be the people you call us to be. God, we want to be a people who are light and salt to this world, a world that so desperately needs to see who you are. So forgive us, God, for when we distort that image. Give us your grace, give us your strength, give us your courage to be who you call us to be, so that the world would see you through us. We bless you, God, for being a faithful God, and we love you. We pray this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Bryan Vander Tuig: [00:42:46] If you need prayer, please come forward, that's what this community of faith is about. If not, have a great rest of your day and a great week. God bless you.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848