Friday, March 31, 2006

March 26, 2006 P.M.

2 Timothy 3:1 –9, 4:3 – 4
In the Last Days

I. Evil will be loose.

A. Described as “terrible” (KJV = “perilous”)

1. The image of dangerous:

a. General threat of physical violence.

b. A spiritual threat.

2. The image of wearing a person out:

a. Satan (and evil) is relentless.

b. There is a continual grind resisting evil and sin.

B. A “short” list (not inclusive but tpyical).

1. Lovers of themselves = selfish.

2. Covetous = “lovers of money.”

3. Boasters = bragging.

4. Proud = “appearing above others.”

5. “Blasphemers” (abusive) = “to say harmful things against.”

6. “Disobedient to parents = “unteachable/unpersuadable.”

7. “Untruthful” (ungrateful) = thankless or impolite.

8. “Unholy” (wicked) = this is the Greek word for “hurtful.”

9. “Without natural affection” (without love) = the idea is to have a hard heart towards those we should love, e.g. parents, children, husband/wife.

10. “Truce breakers” (unforgiving) = “without offering/devotion.”

11. “False accusers” (slanderous) = this is the word for “devil.”

12. “Incontinent” (without self-control) = “powerless.” The idea is a lack of voluntary restraint, out of control.

13. “Fierce” (brutal) = “savage” or uncivilized, lacking basic things like manners and civility.

14. “Despisers of those that are good” (not lovers of the good) = “hostile/hater of virtue.”

15. “Traitors” (treacherous) = “to give first” or surrender.

16. “Heady” (rash) = “falling forward” with the idea of reckless and out of control.

17. “High minded” (conceited) = “to inflate with smoke.”

18. “Lovers of pleasure more (rather) than lovers of God.” = the Greek word picture is false brother.

***** The word “love” appears six times in this Greek text. Every time it is perverted. *****

II. The “spiritual” will be powerless.

A. The problem:

1. There will be a FORM of godliness.

a. Appearance...

1.) It will look real.

2.) It will have all the motions.

3.) It will have all the language/vocabulary.

b. BUT it will not be real.

2. It will DENY the power of authentic Christianity.

a. Deny = contradict or refuse.

b. Say we believe but act differently (C. S. Lewis called them “practical atheist’)

B. The reasons for the problem:

1. “Silly” or “weak-willed.”

a. Gullible = “naked heart.”

b. People who are easily influenced.

2. “Laden with sins” (loaded with sins)

a. Satan’s only control is in sin.

b. Death’s only sting is in sin.

3. “Lead away by diverse lusts” (swayed by all kinds of evil desires)

a. “lead away” (swayed) = “driven” not “lured” as in James 1:14 – 15.

b. lusts/desires can be addictive... puts us into slavery of sin.

4. “Ever (always) learning and never able to come to the knowledge (never able to acknowledge) the truth.”

a. “knowledge” = full discernment or understanding.

b. In other words, never coming to a conclusion or action based on belief.

***** Laden with sins, diverse lusts, and ever learning are all related to the fact that we are lovers of ourselves (selfish) which makes us easily mislead.

III. Resistance to truth is the standard.

A. An illustration = Jannes and Jambres (tradition says they were the Egyptian magicians that resisted Moses).

1. (v 8) corrupt minds.

a. “spoiled”

b. NIV uses “depraved” meaning tainted, impure, influence for evil.

2. “Reprobate” concerning the faith (rejected)

a. reprobate = “recklessly extravagant, unprincipled.

b. a person that rejects faith as excessive or unprovable. (Contrast with 2 Timothy 2:15)

***** This rejection is not necessarily in words or deeds – it is in influence. *****

B How we walk into the trap (2 Timothy 4:3 – 4)

1. “Not endure (put up with) sound doctrine.”

a. endure = “hold oneself up against.”

b. sound = “healthy.”

c. doctrine = “teaching.”

2. “Heap up (gather around them a great number) to themselves teachers.

Amos 8:11 “The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land--not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of HEARING the words of the LORD.”

***** The famine is not in the availability, it is in the hearing... How can God’s word be so plentiful and there be a famine? *****

a. We accumulate and seek additional teachers.

1.) Gives us the option to pick and chose what we like and don’t like.

2.) Objective: we can/never will do a thing.

***** We play one against the other. We accumulate so much information that 10 life times would not be enough to do what is learned. We play comparison games. The effect of all this is to DEADEN the sense of the Holy Spirit at work. This leads to a practical abandoning of the faith. *****

b. This comes from:

1.) Our own desires (lusts).

2.) Itching ears: endless curiosity and desire for variety.

3. “Turn away from the truth... turned unto fables.” (Notice this describing the “believer” not the ingorant.)

a. turn away = turn back, pervert.

b. fables = myth, fiction, stories.

***** In the “last days” love will be twisted and perverted, which will allow sin to go unchecked. *****

***** In the “last days” the “spiritual” will be mislead (heaping sins, driven by desire, always learning, never understanding). *****

***** In the “last days” believers will avoid sound doctrine through the multiplication of teachers for the sake of diversity and curiosity. *****

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

March 26, 2006

John 15:13

Remembering Jesus: What kind of love?

Jesus demonstrated a “greater love” through SACRIFICE. What kind of love motivates someone to sacrifice themselves?

(Ill.) A man went to the doctor after weeks of symptoms. The doctor examined him carefully, then called the patient’s wife into his office “Your husband is suffering from a rare form of anemia. Without treatment, he’ll be dead in a few weeks. The good news is, it can be treated with proper nutrition.”
“You will need to get up early every morning and fix your husband a hot breakfast—pancakes, bacon and eggs, the works. He’ll need a home-cooked lunch every day, and then an old-fashioned meat-and-potato dinner every evening. It would be especially helpful if you could bake frequently. Cakes, pies, homemade bread—these are the things that will allow your husband to live.
“One more thing. His immune system is weak, so it’s important that your home be kept spotless at all times. Do you have any questions?” The wife had none.
“Do you want to break the news, or shall I?” asked the doctor.
“I will,” the wife replied.
She walked into the exam room. The husband, sensing the seriousness of his illness, asked her, “It’s bad, isn’t it?”
She nodded, tears welling up in her eyes. “What’s going to happen to me?” he asked. With a sob, the wife blurted out, “The doctor says you’re gonna die!” [Source unknown]

I. It is a love that MOVES THE MIND.

The Bible says: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. [7] Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. [8] But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:6 – 8]

A. This love understands the truth.

1. We are POWERLESS.

a. We are described as “ungodly.”

1.) Without God – knowledge or care.

2.) Without God’s principles in our lives.

b. We are described as “sinners.”

1.) Sins of commission (what we do) and omission (what we fail to do).

2.) Knowledge and volition (willful) NOT just mistakes.

2. This condition causes separation between God and people.

B. This love understands the need.

1. Our natural HOSTILITY is based on ignorance.

The Bible says, “For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” [Romans 5:10]

a. “Enemy,” in this case only works one way.

b. We do not know any better... It is the “sin nature” that keeps us in darkness/ignorant.

2. God “attacks” our hostility with His “greater love.”

II. It is a love that MOVES THE EMOTIONS.

The Bible says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21]

A. God exchanges the “worthless” for the “priceless.”

1. Sin is replaced with righteousness.

a. God takes the misery and guilt of sin away.

b. God gives the peace and confidence of righteousness.

2. (Ill) The credit card commercial where the person is paying for a toy boat and it grows to a full size luxury boat.

a. All the home-made and pretend righteousness is exchanged for real righteousness and its power.

b. What was marginal becomes central.

c. What was small is exchanged for the infinate.

The Bible says: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” [1 John 4:10]

B. God provided an “atonement.”

1. An atonement is “amends for a wrong or injury.” [Oxford University Press]

a. It covers the sin. (Ill) Old Testament – the “mercy seat.”

b. It removes the sin. (Ill) Old Testament – Day of Atonement, two goats.

2. This payment satisfying justice gives us a sense of unpayable debt and ownership.

The Bible says: “You are not your own; [20] you were bought at a price.” [1 Corinthians 6:19b – 20a]

(Ill.) Alan Smith tells the story about two wealthy Christians, a lawyer and a merchant, who traveled with a group that was going around the world. As they were visiting in Korea, they saw by the side of the road, a field in which a boy was pulling a crude plow and an old man held the plow handles and guided it.
The lawyer was amused and took a snapshot of the scene. He turned to the missionary, who served as their interpreter and guide, and he said, "That's a curious picture. I suppose they are very poor."
The guide replied, "Yes, that is the family of Chi Noue. When the place of worship was being built, they were eager to give something to it, but they had no money, so they sold their only ox and gave the money to the church. This spring, they are pulling the plow themselves."
The men were silent for several moments. Then the businessman replied, "That must have been a real sacrifice."
The guide said, "They do not call it that. They thought it was fortunate that they had an ox to sell."

III. It is a love that MOVES THE SOUL.

The Bible says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” [1 Peter 2:24]

A. We are motivated to “die to sins.”

1. The Bible says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, [2] in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” [Ephesians 2: 1 – 2]

a. Once we were dead to God... now we can become dead to sin.

b. We no longer have to bow in slavery to the world or the devil’s power.

2. The Bible says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, [14] having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” [Colossians 2:13]

a. The “sinful nature” kept us from Christ...

b. The “written code” opposed us and condemned us.

B. We are motivated to “live for righteousness.”

1. The Bible says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” [Galatians 5:1]

a. (Ill) Old Testament – slave freed from Egypt always wanted to go back. Willing to trade their freedom and the Promised Land for the wrong memory of the past.

b. Cannot allow ourselves to be drawn back into the darkness and slavery of the sinful nature.

2. The Bible says, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” [Galatians 5:13]

a. Freedom can be used for good or ill.

b. Our freedom expects us to SERVE in love.

“To be a follower of the Crucified Christ means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss. - Elisabeth Elliot

IV. It is a love that MOVES THE BODY

The Bible says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. [17] If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? [18] Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” [1 John 3:16 – 18]

A. Real love imitates Jesus’ love.

1. We do not know “love” outside Jesus’ example.

a. The world has perverted the concept of “love” to the point were we can “love” spaghetti.

b. Jesus’ example becomes a template/model for how we are to love others.

2. Self-giving love for a greater cause.

a. You are more than body and your needs go well beyond the physical.

1.) Why are people with so much so miserable?

2.) It’s because the physical only goes so far.

b. You need to give to someone other than you.

(Ill.) During his reign, King Frederick William III of Prussia found himself in trouble. Wars had been costly, and in trying to build the nation, he was seriously short of finances. He couldn't disappoint his people, and to capitulate to the enemy was unthinkable. After careful reflection, he decided to ask the women of Prussia to bring their jewelry of gold and silver to be melted down for their country. For each ornament received, he determined to exchange a decoration of bronze or iron as a symbol of his gratitude. Each decoration would be inscribed, "I gave gold for iron, 18l3." The response was overwhelming. Even more important, these women prized their gifts from the king more highly than their former jewelry. The reason, of course, is clear. The decorations were proof that they had sacrificed for their king. Indeed, it became unfashionable to wear jewelry, and thus was established the Order of the Iron Cross. Members wore no ornaments except a cross of iron for all to see. When Christians come to their King, they too exchange the flourishes of their former life for a cross. [Lynn Jost.]

B. Real love is “with action and in truth.”

1. We can have all the sympathy in the world but...

a. That sympathy, without action, does not help anyone and does not satisfy our need.

b. Ultimately it is through our actions that we are judged.

2. The Bible says, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? [15] Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. [16] If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? [17] In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. [James 2:14 – 18]

a. Dead faith is WITHOUT action.

b. Mountain proverb: “put up or shut up.”

(Fred Craddock) “To give my life for Christ appears glorious,” he said. “To pour myself out for others...to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom—I’ll do it. I’m ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.
“We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table—’Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.’
“But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 bill for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.
“Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.” [Darryl Bell, Maple Grove, Minnesota, quoted in Leadership, Fall Quarter, 1984, p. 47]

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March 19, 2006

John 15:18 – 16:4
Remembering Jesus III
PREMISE: Remembering what Jesus said puts things into perspective.

I. Perspective depends on loyalty.

A. The “world” – someone has suggested this means “humanity apart from grace.”

1. [Romans 8:5 – 8] Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. [6] The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; [7] THE SINFUL MIND IS HOSTILE TO GOD. IT DOES NOT SUBMIT TO GOD’S LAW, NOR CAN IT DO SO. [8] Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

a. The selfish mind detests the Christian’s love for God.

b. The selfish mind detests the outward focus of the Christian’s life.

c. The selfish mind detests the holy goals and standards of the Christian.

2. The world “hates” [lit. detests] Jesus. [v 1]

a. The selfless mind unnerves the world because it does not understand sacrifice.

b. Jesus noted that “it hated me first” – Me first, Me most [Lange]

c. God as a generic and fuzzy idea is ok with the world, but Jesus as the living embodiment of God is unacceptable.
(Ill.) Billy Grahm’s sermon after Sept. 11 was re-broadcasted by CNN with all reference to Jesus edited out. Is it possible that Jesus is offensive to the world while a generic “god” is acceptable?

B. The world is ultimately selfish.

1. It is about the will to do “own thing.”

a. New McDonald tag line – “It’s what I eat, it’s what I do.” (Taken two ways.)

b. Outback Stake House tag line – “No rules, just right.” (Taken two ways.)

2. This depends on the individual deciding what is “right” and what is “wrong.”

a. When the devil was tempting Adam and Eve in the Garden, he said “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [Genesis 3:5]

b. That is the biggest lie about sin!

1.) The reality is, apart from God, we do NOT know good and evil.

2.) We end up making it up as we go, with no foundation other than the shifting fickleness of our own desire.

3.) When humans decide good and evil, it’s evolutions “survival of the fittest” chaos.

II. Perspective determines attitude.

A. [15:21, 16:4] The world does not know God.

1. Sin causes us to be separated from God.

2. Separation from God results in ignorance.

3. Ignorance breeds antagonism. [“Familiarity breeds contempt.”]

B. [15:18] The world hates Jesus.

1. Jesus was slandered during His time.

a. The Bible says: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” [Matthew 11:19]

b. The Bible says: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.” [Isaiah 53:4]

2. Jesus is slandered during our time. (“Four big lies of ‘The Da Vinci Code’” by Alan Branch)

a. The deity of Christ was invented by the Roman Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea as political move.

b. The Gnostic (pagan ideas expressed in Christian terms) “gospels” are a reliable sources about Jesus.

c. Jesus was married. (BTW, this is not mentioned in the “gnostic gospels” as claimed.)

d. The early church practiced goddess worship, leading to sexual libertines.
***** By implication: the church is engaged in a massive coverup. *****

III. Perspective demands questioning.

A. Some could ask, “How is the world supposed to know?”

1. Jesus was here, there are no excuses!
“If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.” [John 15:24]

a. To not believe would require not believing the witness of those who were there.

b. In a trial, despite the physical evidence, what holds most weight is an eye witness.

2. We MUST (Gr. imperative = command, order) also testify.
“And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” [John 15:27]

a. This was the specific task of the disciples.

b. This specific task was passed on to succeeding generations.

B. Some could argue, “They think they are doing the right thing.”

1. In fact, some thought they were serving God!
“They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” [John 16:2]

a. The idea of “put out” is to “excommunicate.” (Device used to protect “the faithful” and punish “the offender.”)

b. The idea of offering service to God was the motivating factor behind Paul’s atrocities.
“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” [1 Timothy 1:13]
“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, [5] as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.” [Acts 22:4 – 5]

2. The “fighting word” is OBEDIENCE!
“Remember the words I spoke to you: `No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. IF THEY OBEYED MY TEACHING, THEY WILL OBEY YOURS ALSO.” [John 15:20]

a. The selfish mind can not submit to anything other than its own desires.

b. The selfish mind is ultimate out of control and beyond the control of the individual.

C. Some would ask, “How can you be so sure?”

1. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” [John 15:19]

a. It is a matter of who you belong too: God/Jesus or the world?

b. Jesus has chosen His own OUT of the world.

2. How can those who do not share a passion understand it?

a. e.g. chess – if you do not play chess you do not understand what drives people to work hard to learn more, play more, and get better.

b. if you do not know God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, then you do not understand what drives the believer.

IV. Perspective directs response.

A. Jesus wanted His people to put some distance between them and the world.

1. In attitude – the way we think is different.

a. There is a distinction between the “common” and the “holy.“

b. There is an injection of the holy into everyday life.

2. In action – the way we act is different.

a. The believer is not driven by a selfish mind.

b. The believer is driven by the need to testify.

B. Jesus wanted His people to get away from the world.

1. It’s pleasures/passions, which depend on what feels good to the flesh.

2. It’s maxims/motivations, which depend on feeding the selfish mind.

4. It’s bigotries, which depend on ignorance of God.

C. Jesus wanted His people to keep in step with the Spirit.

1. The “Counselor” is a defense lawyer or a fellow warrior in time of trouble.

a. The Holy Spirit is charged with the task of bringing people into right relationship with God.

b. The Holy Spirit is charged with the task of defending and keeping God’s people on track.

2. The “Spirit of Truth” is a witness.

a. Ignorance of God is no excuse.

1.) Scripture tells the story...

2.) Life tells the story...

3.) Creation tells the story...

b. We join in that witness.

March 12 and 19, 2006 (P.M.)

James 3:17 – 18
“Mark of Christian Maturity”

I. What peace does TO a person

A. It changes the way you relate to the world.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27]

1. “Troubled heart” – easily angered, worried, up set

2. “Afraid” – (Gr. = “cowardly” or “timid”)
Paraphrase – “do not be a whimp.”

3. Jesus is not offering advice – He is issuing a command.

a. These are choices we make to be like this:

1.) Not personality.

2.) Not genetics.

3.) Not mental health.
***** The choice to be troubled in heart and afraid, violates God’s commands – we can understand them as sin. *****

B. It changes the way you understand results:

1. James called it a “harvest.” (KJV = “fruit”)

a. It requires patience and time.

b. It is not a quick fix.

2. A “harvest” involves risk.

a. After we do what we have to do, we have to trust God.

b. That means, “hands off.”
***** “Helping God” always backfires because God can do anything and everything much better than we can. *****

C. It forces you to live up to your success.

1. A “peacemaker” is a reputation... reputations are expectations.

2. The higher the expectation the more responsibility is give.
***** Most of us have figured out that means higher visibility, more work, more criticism, and have decided in advance to “run away.” *****

a. We have an equation:

1.) How big is the carrot?

2.) How heavy is the load?

D. Summary:

1. Peace makes a person choose between trusting God or living with a troubled and timid heart.

2. Peace allows the person to allow God to work.

3. Peace gives the freedom to do what God wants done, instead of living with the guild of not being faithful.

II. What peace does FOR a person.

A. Peace simplifies your life.

1. Only one factor matters – God.
The Bible says, “You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you [God].” [Isaiah 26:3]
(Ill.) Little baby cries – then is held – likes being held – eyes lock on to Mom or Dad. COMFORT IN TRUST!

2. God gives us peace as we lock our eyes, minds, and hearts on God.
The Bible says, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” [Job 19:26 – 27]

B. Peace assures us that someone cares.
The Bible says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” [Psalm 5:22]

1. Notice it says “He will sustain you” NOT He will take the cares away.

2. (Ill) Foot prints poem.

C. Peace gives life to the body.
The Bible says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” [Proverbs 14:30]

D. Summary:

1. Peace gives us a life uncomplicated by ourselves. Instead of focusing on ourselves we focus on God.

2. God cares. He will not (can not) stop loving us. That gives us confidence that leads to peace.

3. Peace produces the effect that we call “life” as opposed to “existing.”

III. What peace does WITH a person.

A. Peace extends to others.

1. “Misery loves company.” “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

2. People who believe in something share it with others.
(Ill.) People who bought Saturn cars: were given shirts (that they wore), talked about the great stake dinner and birthday cards... are they insane or just excited about the car (and their connection with the car and other owners)?
The Bible explains it this way, “For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” and “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” [2 Corinthians 5:14, 18]

B. Peace produces righteousness.

1. There are two kinds of legitimate “righteousness” in Scripture.

a. There is legal standing – judgement given by God, not our effort.

b. There is life style – natural product of the grace (legal standing) of God.

2. James is talking about the life style... sow then harvest.

3. Righteous or sinful living is generally the result of the foundation you are building on.

a. “Pieces and parts” spiritual life – take what we like, reject what we do not like.

b. “crisis control” spiritual life – survival from one crisis to another.

c. “scholarly” spiritual life – always learning never doing/understanding.

d. “den of thieves” spiritual life – use it to cover up our sin.

e. “doctor” spiritual life – we want God to patch us up so we can sin some more.

B. Peace is the foundation to a stable life.

1. Total view

a. One part effects the other parts (e.g. ever stub your toe?)

b. You cannot feed the cravings of the flesh without squelching the Spirit of God.

2. What happens is we build with gaps in the foundation.

a. Imaging pulling a block or two from the foundation of a house...

b. The building collapses – we run out of emotional energy, we quit.

c. we give up because we are limited.

3. It is easy to focus on what we see and never deal with attitude.

a. We don’t want to...

b. It tinkers with who we are...

c. It is a constant battle with our sinful nature...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

March 12, 2006

Matthew 16:1 – 12
Remembering Jesus II

PREMISE: Remembering is understanding is faith.
The disciple’s lack of spiritual insight was due to their inability to remember and correctly understand their experiences. This story reveals three observations about human nature and Jesus’ prescription for the problem.

I. We tend to walk by SIGHT not FAITH.

A. Human nature demands a "sign."
1. "The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven." (v 1)
a. The reason was to "test" Jesus, not to believe in Jesus.
b. By testing Jesus, they were laying claim to their position as the "gatekeepers" of truth... only the teacher/superior gives the test.
2. This must have affected the disciples... the Pharisees and Sadducees were also trying to plant doubt in Jesus’ followers.
a. The goal of the devil is to separate us from God. The seed of doubt is a very powerful tool. This doubt is like yeast, is slowly grows unseen on the inside. (BTW, yeast is "always" used negatively.)
b. "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (v 6)

B. Human nature doesn’t recognize when God is at work.
1. "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." (v 3b)
a. Jesus observed that we can understand the physical world better than the spiritual world.
b. That’s because we live in a physical world and walk by SIGHT not FAITH.
2. "A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away." (v 4)
a. They were not going to believe anyway... so why show them a sign. It’s like what it says in Proverbs 26:4 – 5...
PR 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself.
PR 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.
b. In other words a no win situation at best and a lose – lose situation at worst!

II. We tend to miss the "obvious."

A. Obvious means "easily perceived or understood; clear" [Oxford University Press]
1. Another way to say this is "DUH."
a. What do you do when someone points out an "obvious" mistake? Chances are you get angry at them, like they were the ones who made the mistake.
b. What do you do when someone points out an "obvious" observation? Chances are you get embarrassed, and make an excuse.
2. In the book of Matthew there are 14 recorded miracles (signs) before we get to this point. 9 times were healing (individual or in mass), 2 times were nature was affected, 2 involved the physical laws of the universe, and one demonstrated Jesus power over death!
a. What more could the disciples need? (Or the Pharisees and Sadducees.)
b. FAITH is the lense we use to INTERPRET facts and events. How we interpret says more about us than the fact or event!

B. Why?
1. Why do we need a "sign?"
a. A "sign" reduces God to come at our whistle and perform at our command.
b. A "sign" verifies "faith" that is too weak to believe. If you can see it, you do not have to believe, it is not faith!
2. Why do we miss when God does do something...?

III. We tend to be embarrassed when we don’t understand.

A. They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread." (v 7)
1. This is the "human oops" when confronted with the "divine duh." (Jesus said, "How is it you don't understand?" v 11a)
a. They were thinking PHYSICALLY...
b. Yeast is in bread, they forgot the bread... simple, eh?
2. Jesus was dealing with the "spell" that doubt had cast over them.
a. The doctrine/teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (unbelief) had gotten them thinking PHYSICALLY... In other words, they forgot. (e.g. the forgot bread is no a problem for the Creator of the Universe!)
b. Jesus wanted them to think SPIRITUALLY. (Jesus said, "I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." v 11b)

B. It hurts when God points out the "obvious."
1. We defend ourselves.
a. It is easier to NOT believe...
b. In fact a correction of belief may be more painful than physical pain.
2. We have to admit that we are wrong and God is right.
a. That means to change our mind: pattens and desires.
b. That means to change our behavior: (2 Timothy 2:19 states: Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.")

IV. Jesus prescription for these problems:

A. Remember: do something to remember.

Paul Harvey tells this story: "It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.
Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean... For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark...ten feet long."

"But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred. In Captain Eddie's own words, "Cherry," that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, "read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off."

"Now this is still Captian Rickenbacker talking..."Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don't know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it." And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it. And now you also know...that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness."

"The Old Man and the Gulls" from Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story by Paul Aurandt, 1977, quoted in Heaven Bound Living, Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, p. 79-80.

B. Understand (different than knowing)

Douglas McArther, in Reminiscences, tells this story: "The first section was studying the time-space relationship later formulated by Einstein as his Theory of Relativity. The text was complex and, being unable to comprehend it, I committed the pages to memory. When I was called upon to recite, I solemnly reeled off almost word for word what the book said. Our instructor, Colonel Fieberger, looked at me somewhat quizzically and asked, "Do you understand this theory?"

"It was a bad moment for me, but I did not hesitate in replying, "No, sir." You could have heard a pin drop. I braced myself and waited. And then the slow words of the professor: "Neither do I, Mr. MacArthur. Section dismissed."

C. Believe (not on authority, but personally): belief is a life or death trust...

Ken Davis illustrated it this way: "In college I was asked to prepare a lesson to teach my speech class. We were to be graded on our creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of my talk was, "The Law of the Pendulum." I spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.

I attached a 3-foot string to a child's toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. I pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where I let it go. Each time it swung back I made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When I finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved my thesis.

I then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All of my classmates raised their hands, so did the teacher. He started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had just begun. Hanging from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord.). I invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then I brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face, I once again explained the law of the pendulum he had applauded only moments before, "If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger."

After that final restatement of this law, I looked him in the eye and asked, "Sir, do you believe this law is true?" There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, "Yes." I released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. I never saw a man move so fast in my life. He literally dived from the table. Deftly stepping around the still-swinging pendulum, I asked the class, "Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?" The students unanimously answered, "NO!" [Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp 104-106.]

Conclusion:

1. Do you really remember in such a way that it changes what you do? Are you caused to do something in remembrance and gratitude of Jesus?
2. Can you hear God now? Do you understand?
3. When the pendulum of sin and its consequences swing back to you, do you really trust that Jesus has paid the penalty, taken the consequences, and forgiven you?