“What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” – Deuteronomy 10:12

Readings

Deuteronomy 10:12-22 · Luke 22:24-30 · Psalm 101

Sermon

The purpose of our creation is that we may be of service to the Lord. The Lord works by and through man, because man is a receptacle of life from Him and the only intelligent subject of His providence. All things below man are included in man. They precede him in the order of creation because man is their end. It is theirs to make ready for him, and this they do, or rather the Lord does for them. The Lord’s method of operation can be seen through the study of nature, as nature illustrates the law of His operation.

What is this law? It is the law of service or use to something higher. Nothing is created for itself alone. Everything is for something above itself. The mineral underlies, supports, and sustains the plant, the plant the animal, the animal man. And as nothing in the realm of nature has the power to disturb or to contravene the operation of this law, we find in nature the perfect peace and harmony that result from its fulfillment. In nature we find the Divine order perfectly carried out except in so far as man has disturbed it. Things in nature that are hurtful to life are of man, not of God. Man alone, as we know, has the power to act with or against God – from God or from himself. Acting from himself he has been the cause of all that is hurtful in nature. But even so he has no power to reverse its order, and when he acts contrary to order, the Lord makes even these acts serve a use. Poisonous minerals and plants, corresponding to false and evil thoughts and feelings, are used as medicines to cure diseases in the bodies of men and animals, and the time will come when, through an advance in the knowledge of the science of correspondences, they will be still more helpful. This is what is meant by the words of the Psalmist: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”

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“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” – Deuteronomy 6:5

Readings

Deuteronomy 4:1-13, 39-40 · Revelation 11 · Psalm 27

Sermon

All religion is based on three essential principles: the acknowledgment of God as the object of worship, the sense of obligation to Him as evinced by a life according to His precepts, and the acceptance of a Divine revelation which makes known who and what God is and what His precepts are. These three principles are of necessity involved in every religious system. Religion cannot exist, even in name, if any of them is wanting. Each or all of them may be perverted by false doctrine and an evil life, but they must exist either in their true or in a perverted form. The savage worshiping his idol feels bound to certain duties and observances imposed upon him by oral or other tradition, which he accepts as the authoritative teaching of his deity. Even in this crude system the three essentials are to be found.

A true religion consists in the acknowledgment of the true God, a life of genuine goodness, and belief in an authentic revelation. As we look back over the history of mankind, we find that – distinct from the multitudes who worshiped idols, a court of mythical divinities, or the forces of nature – there have in every age been at least a few who worshiped one God, a God who, though invisible to bodily sight, had given them a specific revelation. In historic times, amid the spiritual darkness of the world, the Old Testament was given, which directed the thoughts of Israel to one Divine Being, the Creator and Preserver of the universe. After the coming of the Lord, the Christian Church was formed, also accepting the Hebrew Scriptures and proclaiming the worship of the same God. The Christian Gospels supplemented and confirmed the Law and the Prophets; the Old Testament was read in the light of a new interpretation, but not a word was erased. Belief in the one God, the duty of obedience to Him, and the recognition of the Bible as the express declaration of His will and law were still the three essentials of the church.

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” – Deuteronomy 4:2

 Readings

Deuteronomy 4:1-9 · Revelation 22 · Psalm 19

Sermon

We are all familiar with the fact that the Bible closes with the warning not to add to or to take away from the words of the Book. But perhaps we are not so familiar with the fact that this same direct command was given very early in the Bible story, in the verse we have just read.

It was once very generally believed that God created man for His own glory, and for the purpose of ruling over men and of receiving praise from them. Such a concept still persists, although the Lord tells us that He came not to be ministered unto but to minister. Yet there is a sense in which we should praise the Lord, for true praise is gratitude to Him for His many mercies and benefits to us, and this is necessary as a check to our natural tendency to attribute wisdom and goodness to ourselves.

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“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.” – Deuteronomy 5:12

Readings

Deuteronomy 5:1-12 · Matthew 12:1-13 · Psalm 147

Sermon

In determining what ought to be done and what ought not to be done on the sabbath, the purposes of this day should be kept in mind. Each one must make this decision for himself when he reaches adulthood. On one occasion Jesus reminded the Pharisees of their own practice. If a sheep fell into a pit on the sabbath, would they not pull him out? How much better is a man than a sheep?

In determining how the sabbath should be kept, we should not look to self-desires, temporary pleasures, or apparent financial gain, but to the Word of God which, when rightly understood, is the true light of life.

It is written that the Lord made the universe in six days and rested on the seventh; wherefore He sanctified it. So man should do his work in six days and rest upon the seventh. Yet the fact that the world was not made in six literal days is sufficient to suggest that there is a meaning involved within the letter. What does rest mean?

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“And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.” – Deuteronomy 33:16

Readings

Deuteronomy 33:1-16 · Revelation 5 · Psalm 145

Sermon

Moses was nearing the time of his passing into the spiritual world, and after the eastern custom, having called the tribes together, he pronounced a blessing upon each of them. The words of our text form a part of the blessing pronounced upon Joseph as represented by the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

The blessing of the text must have brought back wonderful memories, for the story of Israel as a nation began with the appearance of the Lord in the burning bush. The Israelites had lived as a subject race in Egypt for over two centuries, and yet had been kept quite distinct from the Egyptians. It is remarkable that the peoples had not wholly mingled, for the very name of Jehovah had been lost during the stay in Egypt. But to Moses in his eightieth year was given the experience at the burning bush. It was then that he heard the command to lead the people to the land promised to their fathers. He at first shrank from the great task, and only when he was convinced by miracles that the Lord would be with him did he undertake it. But he who dwelt in the bush took the people across the sea, fed them in the wilderness, protected them from their enemies, and finally brought them to the borders of the promised land. How difficult had been the way! How often had the people rebelled, and wished that they might go back to Egypt! Even Moses was at times discouraged. But now the journey’s end was being reached, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that his leadership had not been in vain. As he is about to resign his authority to Joshua, he thinks of how the Lord had been with them and had led them all the way, and commends the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush.

To the Jews Jehovah was invisible; of Him they were not to attempt to make any likeness. Yet, although invisible, they felt that He was God of gods and Lord of lords, and knew that it was He that dwelt in the bush, the bramble. To have appeared in the olive, the vine, or the fig would have seemed more appropriate, but He had been heard from the bush.

In this we have revealed a fundamental truth of religion, that the Lord dwells in the commonest experiences of human life, and happy is he who sees Him there. For as the days and years pass, and as a man passes the threescore years and ten, he will remember the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush.

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt,” by Louis A. Dole

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
“But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” – Deuteronomy 11:10, 11

Readings

Deuteronomy 11:1-12 · Mark 4:21-41 · Psalm 135

Sermon

“We want a decent country to live in” would express the desires and ideals of a great many people; but perhaps we should not be very far wrong if we affirmed that most of these people have little idea of how they are going to get it or even of what they mean by it. They may have in mind economic security, a good job with good pay, or they may want a world in which they will be free from troubles and from interference with their own lives, and free from war.

In our text two countries are contrasted. They are strikingly different. Egypt is a flat country, fertile, with an even climate. It has no precious metals and little variety in fruits and animals. It receives no rain from heaven, its fruitfulness depending upon the inundations of its great river, the Nile. In Bible times its people worshiped the calf. Palestine, on the other hand, is a land of hills and valleys, with a complex climate ranging from intense heat at Jericho 1300 feet below sea level to the wintry snows of Mount Hermon 10,000 feet above the sea level. It produces a variety of summer and winter fruits and vegetables, of the precious metals and stones, and is made fertile by rain, by brooks and rivers and the melting snows: “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills… a land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.”

The Egyptian ideal was that of external comfort and wealth. Israel prospered there under Joseph and did not wish to return to the Holy Land. But their long-continued life there resulted in bondage, and Moses was raised up to lead them out. The words “Out of Egypt have I called my son” express a great blessing. Abraham went down into Egypt and became rich in flocks. Our Lord was carried down into Egypt and there found protection from Herod. Egypt could both shelter and enslave. She could nourish, she could teach, and yet her wealth and knowledge could never wholly satisfy. And this is the reason given in the Word itself: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.” Therein is its limitation. Man has higher possibilities than the merely natural.

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“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever,” by Louis A. Dole

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“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29

Readings

Deuteronomy 29:10-29 · Luke 14:1-14 · Psalm 14

Sermon

The course of history is determined by the ideas which men hold and carry out into life. There are various systems of thought seeking control in the world. Socialism, Communism, Pacifism, and so on, together with the various religions, are such systems of thought. Each claims to seek the common welfare. With the exception of the religions, however, none look to a power outside of man himself.

We cannot get along without knowledge. We need to know the nature of the world and the meaning of life. And if we are to be inwardly at peace, our thoughts must be harmonious. There are conflicts in ourselves, as well as in the world in which we live. The forces which have divided men are at work in us, and unless we can subordinate them to some unifying principle, they will work havoc in our lives.

This need has existed from the beginning and the Lord has provided for it. He has progressively revealed His Word as men were able to receive it. While this revelation was yet in progress, many things were but partially made known which afterwards were more plainly revealed. Revelation has been sufficient to meet the needs of every age.

While the great event of the Lord’s incarnation and the light which it shed into the world were yet in the future, Moses could not be seen without the veil upon his face, nor could the later prophets be perceived more clearly, since upon the glory of revealed truth the Lord had placed a covering, This obscurity is not confined to the Old Testament, but extends also to the New. What is revealed in the Gospels and in the Apocalypse respecting the future states of the first Christian Church and the Second Coming of the Lord has been as little understood by Christians as the predictions of Moses and the prophets were by the Jews, and it can now be clearly discerned only because the events predicted have taken place and the meaning of the prophecies has been disclosed. These things, with the spiritual sense of the Word whose opening accompanied and reveals the Second Coming of the Lord, are secrets of revelation itself, which time discloses. There are, however, secrets which have no place in revelation.

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“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off,” by Louis A. Dole

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“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
“It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
“Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” – Deuteronomy 30:11-14

Readings

Deuteronomy 30:1-14 · Luke 3:1-18 · Psalm 91

Sermon

The Lord gave His Word through the prophets, came into the world, and lived out the Word that men might know the things that are necessary to a heavenly life, and to teach us that the essentials of a good life are neither hard to know and understand nor hard to live. All creation testifies of the Lord and of His purposes for us. Paul writes, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

It is true that life is infinitely complex, that there are depths of meaning in the Word which neither men nor angels can fathom, that we can always find more to learn. But there are fundamental general truths that everyone can learn, understand, and apply. Life should not be a burden; the requirements of a good life are within the reach of all.

The commandments are such simple laws of life. They are not hard to understand nor impossible to keep, but are such as men and women in this world may easily learn and do, if they will.

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” – Deuteronomy 4:2

Readings

Deuteronomy 4:1-13 · Revelation 22 · Psalm 40

Sermon

In the church calendar the second Sunday in December is set aside as Bible Sunday. The New Church has distinctive teachings concerning the Word which are much needed at the present time.

The Bible is the Book of Life. This applies equally to the Old Testament and to the New. In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets,” and the Gospel of John begins with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and says, “and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The Lord’s life was the living out of the Word. He said, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” The Lord who is the Word, whose very life is the life of the Word, could not destroy it. He could not abrogate or deny His own truth. He came as the truth, to manifest Himself to us.

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“These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people . . . . And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, “These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin:
“And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.” – Deuteronomy 27:11-13

Readings

Deuteronomy 27:1-13 · Revelation 5 · Psalm 103

Sermon

The importance and the necessity of perpetual obedience to the law is evinced by the solemnity and majesty with which it was originally promulgated from Mount Sinai.

That the children of Israel might have this in mind it was commanded that when they crossed the Jordan into the Holy Land they were to read the law at Gerizim and Ebal. And after the victory at Ai Joshua assembled the tribes, half of them on Gerizim and half on Ebal in obedience to this command, and built an altar and offered burnt offerings.

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