Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 23, 2006

1 Corinthians 13:13
Basic Christianity: A Solid Foundation

When all is said and done, you can boil Christianity into three basic principles that are the solid foundation of life. These are Paul’s “three-legged stool.” For Paul, theological truth lead to them and they in turn became the compass of life. You may have your belief system correct but if you do not have your life systems in line with these then your belief system is worthless.

(Ill.) "This is a football."

I. Faith is the future lived now.
[1 Corinthians 15:1 – 11]

A. Faith brings salvation: “Christ died for sins...” (v 3)

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. [1 Timothy 3:15]

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. [John 3:16 – 18]
Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. [Galatians 1:4]

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]

B. Faith brings power: “that He was raised on the third day.” (v 4)

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. [Philippians 3:10]

C. Faith changes relationships: “His death... was not in vain.” (v 10)

II. Hope is confidence changing now.

A. Hope brings endurance.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; [4] perseverance, character; and character, hope. [5] And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. [Romans 5:3 – 5]

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thessalonians 1:3]

B. Hope brings encouragement.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. [Thessalonians 4:13]

C. Hope motivates moral excellence.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. [3] Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. [1 John 3:2 – 3]

III. Love is living the Christ-life now.

A. God’s love for us claims our loyalty.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:8]
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? [36] As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
[37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. [38] For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:35 – 39 ]

Jesus replied: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' [40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." [Matthew 22:23 – 40]

B. Our love for God is lived through obedience.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. [2] This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. [3] This is love for God: to obey his commands. [1 John 5:1 – 3a]

C. Our love for God is demonstrated in relationship to others.

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. [1 John 3:11]
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. [1 John 3:18]
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God [1 John 4:7]

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [12] No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. [1 John 4:11 – 12]

(Ill.) "This is a football."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 16

John 20:24 – 27
Remembering Jesus: What Happened?

It has become fashionable to follow and create theories denying the death and resurrection of Jesus. So what really happened? We are going to follow the testimony of the witnesses. One of them, John was an eye witness to the events. Mark, a teenager at the time, recalls what he and Peter knew of the events. Matthew, tells us what he knows. Luke was the investigator who questioned witnesses and examined the medical evidence, C. S. I. like.

1. On Tuesday night, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

Mark, who barely escaped that night testifies, “Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” [Mark 14:44]

The thing about Judas was that he was a close follower of Jesus. In fact, he was numbered as one of the special group known as “disciples” and later to become the authoritative “Apostles.” Why did he do it? Nobody knows. John tells us he was a thief [John 12:6], so maybe it was for the 30 pieces of silver. Church mythology has theorized it was to force Jesus to begin a rebellion.

2. On Friday before dawn Jesus is illegally tried twice.

The first trial was before Annas who was the Father-in-law of Caiaphas, the current High Priest. At this trial Caiaphas prophesied, “that it would be good if one man died for the people.” [John 18:14]

The second trial was the formal trial before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the ruling body of that time, made up mostly of religious leaders. This trial was held at Caiaphas’ home [Luke 22:54]. MANY false witness were brought against Jesus [Mark 14:55 – 56, Matthew 26:59 – 60] but they were not able to convict Him. In fact, He was convicted on his confession: Matthew tells us, “But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." “Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Mark witnessed, “The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death.” [Mark 14:63 – 64]

It is here that Jesus is first beaten, “Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.” [Mark 14:65]

Peter is present at this trial, but has his own problems. In fact, Peter ends up denying knowing Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times. It was a sad night for Jesus’ followers. One disciple betrays – leads a mob – to arrest Jesus. Another, one of the leaders, denies knowing Jesus. It sure looks like the enemy is winning the war at this point.

3. Friday, just after dawn.

Jesus is formally condemned by the Sanhedrin [Luke 22:66 – 71]. It appears to be an attempt to put a legal stamp on the events of the night.

Seeing the conviction, it appears that Judas repents. Matthew tells us, “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. [4] "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility.” [Matthew 27:3 – 4] Now that’s cold. Judas is “seized with remorse” and he admits to having “sinned.” The religious leaders of the day respond with “that’s your responsibility.”
People do not have the power to pardon sin. Judas went to the wrong place, to the wrong people, when he should have gone to the only source of forgiveness... Jesus. That is really hard to do after you’ve betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

After the formal trial, Jesus is then sent to Pilate. [John 18:28 – 38] Pilate is the Roman governor. The Jews were allowed all forms of punishment, except the one the religious leaders wanted this time – death [John 18:31]. Before Pilate, Jesus is accused of “perverting” the country, opposing paying taxes, and claiming to be King [Luke 23:2]. Pilate finds Jesus innocent [Luke 23:4, John 18:34].

Pilate sends Jesus to King Herod Antipas [Luke 23:6 – 12] because Jesus is from Galilee. Luke, the historian, notes that day, two bitter enemies became friends [Luke23:12]. Sadly enemies join in a common cause, against Jesus.

Jesus, failing to provide entertainment for King Herod, is shuffled back to Pilate and sentenced to death [John 19:14]. Apparently this was not done without considerable stress on Pilate. For instance Matthew relates this detail, “While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” [Matthew 27:19].

In what may have been a cruel piece of amusement or an attempt to free Jesus, Pilate puts the crowd to a vote. Mark gives us this detail, “Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.” [Mark 15:6 – 8]. Here is an “insurrectionist” and “murder” who is placed next to Jesus. To put this in modern context, Barabbas is a terrorist who has viciously murdered innocent people. He’s not a soldier, he’s not a freedom fighter, he is a simple terrorist.

Before the vote, Jesus is “flogged.” John, who was there said it went down this way, “With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. [39] But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release `the king of the Jews'?" They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. [John 18:38b – 19:1] After the flogging, Pilate has another vote: Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." [5] When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" [John 19:4 – 5]

Flogging is very brutal. Typically the victim was whipped 39 times with a whip that included stones and sharp objects. The idea was for the stones to bruise and tenderize the skin and cause bleeding. The sharp objects were there to tear away the flesh. A crown of thorns was put on Jesus head [John 19:2] and a purple robe was added for the mocking effect of royalty [John 19:2].

John observes that Pilate is struggling with his role in the matter. “From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha)” [John 19:12 – 13]

After the sentence of death Jesus is handed over to the soldiers who administer the third beating of the day. The crown was then crushed down with a staff [Matthew 27:30] and the purple robe is ripped off Jesus’ raw back [Matthew 27:31].

4. Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Jesus is lead away to be crucified. This becomes a circus of sorts. The soldiers “cast lots” to see who got Jesus clothes [Mark 15:24 – 32]. Pilate put an inscription on the cross that was in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The inscription? “King of the Jews.” [John 19:19 – 20]. Jesus is mocked by the crowd [Mark 15:29], mocked by the religious leaders [Mark 15:31], mocked by the soldiers [Luke 23:36].

An interesting turn of events hints at the victory the cross would bring. In Matthew [27:44] we are told the two thieves, being crucified with Jesus, railed on Jesus. However, Luke discovered that one of the thieves had a change of heart. Luke writes, “But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? [41] We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” [Luke 23:40 – 43]

This criminal recognizes who Jesus is, asks for salvation, and gets it.

Jesus’ mom was at the cross when Jesus died. Also there was, Cleopas’ wife, Mary Magdalene, and John. [John 19:25 – 27]

5. Friday, from noon to 3:00 p.m.

Lots of things happened at this time. Maybe the most ominous was the darkness. [Mark 15:33, Matthew 27:45, Luke 23:44]. This was an unnatural event that has been explained various ways. Certainly, this could not have been part of any human plan.

Mark tells it this way: “At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. [34] And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Mark 15:33 – 34] (A quote from Psalm 22:1)

A thousand years before this event, David, the ancient King of Israel wrote Psalm 22. Psalm 22 described the details of a Roman crucifixion long before there was a Roman empire.

Listen to these remarkable details:

* PS 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man, SCORNED by men and DESPISED by the people.
* PS 22:7 – 8 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
* PS 22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. [Out of join is consistent with the jolt from dropping the cross into the ground. Heart has turned to wax, would have defined the burning sensation in the chest area as the victim struggled to breath.]
* PS 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. [The intense thirst.]
* PS 22:16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. [“Dogs” would have been the common mispronunciation of the word for “Gentile” and refers to the Roman soldiers. The piercing of the hands and feet the nails that were used in the crucifixion.]
* PS 22:17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. [The humiliating exposure of hanging on the cross.]
* PS 22:18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
* PS 22:30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. [We see the hope found in our Easter celebration.]

John then describes the last moments on the cross with these words, “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." [29] A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. [30] When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” [John 19:28 – 30]

Notice that Jesus laid His life down, it was not taken or stolen. For the mere mortal it would have been the end. But this is Jesus, the Christ, the King of Glory, the son of God. There is more to the story. Much, much more.

6. In Jerusalem at the time of His death.

Matthew describes the scene this way: “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. [52] The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. [53] They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” [Matthew 27:51 – 53]

The veil in the temple is torn from TOP to BOTTOM. The veil had been on thing separating God’s Holy of Holies from the rest of humanity. It was a symbol of the separation between God and Man due to sin. Since it was torn from top to bottom, we can only understand this as God the Father tore it open Himself... it was not the effect of the earthquake. The mass resurrection was also another supernatural event.

These events are beyond what any conspiracy theory can begin to explain away.

7. Friday afternoon before 6:00 p.m.

The body had to be disposed of quickly. John described what happened this way, “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. [32] The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. [33] But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. [34] Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. [35] The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. [36] These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," [37] and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced.” [John 19:31 – 37]

Remember this was a professional Roman soldier, not an idiot. The Romans were as efficient at their work as any US Marine. They were the best. The knew death when they saw death. This soldier sees that Jesus is dead and makes sure that Jesus is dead. The flow of water and blood would have been consistent with the fluid build up in the lungs of a person who had been crucified.

Joseph of Armathea is given the body to be buried.

8. Friday after 6:00 p.m. before sunset.

Jesus is buried. He is placed in a tomb that is sealed with a sizable stone. The stones were custom cut and put into groove then rolled down-hill in the grove. Each of these stone weighed around 1 ton. They could be moved only with considerable effort.

It is sad that people could think that a man who had lost the kind of blood Jesus would have in his beatings and crucifixion, not had any water for this long, had spike size nails run through his hands and feet, and had a spear puncture a lung and major artery (if not heart) could recover enough to escape the tomb by rolling away a 1 ton stone and beating 4 Roman soldiers. It’s not going to happen.

The women begin a watch of the tomb. [Matthew 27:61] Around sunset they returned to prepare spices and ointments. [Luke 23:56]

9. Saturday morning.

The religious leaders when to Pilate and demanded a guard. [Matthew 27:62 – 66] You see they remembered Jesus saying He would rise from the dead. Oddly enough, the disciples seemed to have forgotten. So they sealed the stone with a Roman seal and set a guard. Again these were the finest soldiers in the world who would have forfeited their lives if their charge escaped. They would not have sealed an empty tomb, nor would they have moved the body. If they did, then they would have produced it when rumors of the resurrection began to fly.

10. Sunday before sunrise.

Matthew gives us these details: “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. [3] His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. [4] The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. [Matthew 28:2 – 4]

By the time the women are able to return to the tomb, the stone is rolled away so that everyone could see that it is empty!

Jesus has died Friday, probably around 3:00 p.m. and was buried before sunset. He laid, dead, in the tomb all of Saturday and about 10 hours of Sunday. That makes 3 days, and counting the supernatural night of Friday, 3 nights.

11. Sunday just after sunrise.

The women didn’t find the body. Instead they found a stone that had been rolled away, an empty tomb, and an angel announcing Jesus’ resurrection. Matthew tells this part of the story like this: “The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: `He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.” [Matthew 28:5 – 9]
Jesus made 5 appearances that day. To Mary Madgalene [John 20:11 – 18, Mark 16:9 – 11], to the women [Matthew 28:9 – 10], to the two on the road to Emmaus [Mark 16:12 – 13, Luke 24:13 – 32], to Peter [Luke 24:34], then to the 10 other disciples [Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36 – 43, John 20:19 — 25]. In the next 40 days, Jesus would make 5 more appearances and be seen by more than 500 people.

12. Finally we get to Thomas.

How many of us have said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” [John 20:25b]?

Ok, we haven’t said it out loud. But do you really believe?
* Is it believing when you don’t say something to someone who needs to hear about the life changing encounter with a living Jesus Christ?
* Is it believing when you knowingly and deliberately do something you know is wrong or avoid doing something you know is right?
* Is it believing when you find other things to do than come to the place God has chosen to meet His people at the appointed time?
* Is it believing when you don’t experience the life changing resurrection of Jesus Christ for yourself?
Today is the day for you to end your doubt and declare, along with Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” Will you do so now?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

April 9, 2006

Luke 19:28 – 44
Remembering Jesus: King of Kings (part 6)

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
[Zechariah 9:9]

This may have been the most unusual event in Jesus’ life. Jesus was publically announcing the He is the Messiah - “the anointed one,” who was to be King.

I. The MAJESTY of the King.

A. The King is gentle.

1. “Greatness is the ability to condescend.”

a. Jesus came riding a donkey (commoner), not a horse (military, royal).

b. Philippians 2:6 – 11 (read)

1.) “Made Himself nothing...”

2.) “Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place.”

c. Revelation 5:1 – 10 (read)

1.) “Lion of the tribe of Judah.”

2.) “Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.”

3.) “You are worthy... because you were slain...”

2. Man aspires to rule and achieve... Jesus humbled Himself to serve and provide.

B. The King is righteous.

1. Jesus was “so righteous” that even the experts of the Law could not find a valid accusation against Him.

a. They had watched Him carefully.

b. They set traps for Him.

c. They used false witnesses.

d. Even Judas, who betrayed Jesus said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” [Matthew 27:4]

2. Jesus was/is the “sinless”/perfect lamb.

a. What we call “Palm Sunday” was the 10th day of the month... according to O.T. Law, that was the day the Passover Lamb was chosen.

b. Jesus became that perfect Passover lamb.

c. Jesus was... “tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.” [Hebrews 4:5b]

II. The MASTERY of the King.

A. Jesus calmed a donkey.

1. Nobody questioned Jesus’ claim to use the donkey.

2. It was a “small” demonstration of Jesus’ lordship.

a. Jesus had commanded devils to leave.

b. Jesus had calmed the sea.

c. Jesus had healed the sick.

d. Jesus had walked on water.

e. Jesus had known the thoughts of people.

f. Jesus had changed the physical elements (water into wine).

g. Jesus had forgiven sin.

h. Jesus had fed 5,000+ with 5 loaves and 2 fish (and had left overs).

B. The King tamed a donkey.

1. It takes 8 weeks to “break” a donkey.

2. It takes even longer to train a donkey to behave in a crowd of shouting people.

III. The MINISTRY of the King.

A. The King brings righteousness.

1. We need righteousness.

a. Look at the sins running/driving our country.

b. Our church leaders have confessed to an ungodly obsession with numbers and pragmatism.

c. Our own lives are full of inconsistences.

2. Righteousness can only be when Jesus is King!

B. The King brings salvation.

1. “The blood of the covenant.”

a. [Matthew 26:28] “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

b. freedom to prisoners (to sin).

Proverbs 5:22 – 23, “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.”

2. The sacrifice on the cross brings salvation...

a. ...from the penalty of our sin.

b. ...from the guilt of our sin.

c. ...from the power of our sin.

d. ...from the presence of sin.

1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

IV. The MANDATE of the King.

A. You must answer the question: “Who is this?”

1. Is Jesus someone who lived a good life and gives good advice?

2. Is Jesus some sort of deceiver? (A con, liar, or insane person)

3. Is Jesus truly King?

B. You must answer the question: “What now?”

1. Will you walk away and say...

a. “Not for me.”

b. “Not today, I’ll think about it.”

c. “I need time.”

2. Will you bend your knee to King Jesus?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April 2, 2006 P.M.

Mark 9:2 – 8
“What now?”

***** What if what you thought you knew about Christianity was wrong? *****

Background – Jesus has just feed the 5,000, He’s taught them to take up the cross and follow Him.
Experience of the transfiguration is powerful, spiritually, visually, and emotionally. It begs the question: WHAT ARE YOU SEARCHING FOR?

I. Are you searching for the supernatural?

A. The transfiguration was a powerful even.

1. Visually:

a. Jesus’ clothes shined, in Matthew’s account, His face shined like the sun.

b. Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus. (These were hero’s of the faith.)

2. Emotionally:

a. “for they were greatly afraid.” They did not understand what was happening.

b. There was connection between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. It was an extreme honor to be in the presence of these three heros.

B. This was a miraculous event.

1. The power of God was plain.

a. The disciples got to see Jesus’ glory (partially)

b. The disciples got to hear about Jesus death (Luke) and resurrection.

2. Elijah was the one who had not died.

3. Moses was the one who had died yet was alive.

III. Are you looking for the spectacular?

A. The feeling:

1. This was a privilege, only 3 of the disciples were there.

2. They heard God the Father speak directly to them!

B. The blessing:

1. Witnessing this event would boost their emotional and spiritual state (if not status).

2. Maybe this was a reason James and John fought over who was the greatest...

III. Are you looking for the super-spiritual?

A. The planning.

1. This was a great event.

a. After great events we tend to want to build momentum.

b. After great events we want to cherish and relive instead of moving on (let’s build...)

2. The desire/expectation was to make this a permanent state.

a. After all, wasn’t this the coming of the kingdom?

b. Events seemed to be building to this climax?

***** If they had stayed on the mountain top, they would have missed the best events that were still to come. *****

B. The constant asking:

1. The disciples had their own ideas.

a. They were always asking questions, but not for the right reasons.

b. They were trying to make sense of Jesus, make Him fit into their understanding.

2. The request seemed to be triggered by anxiety.

a. Peter felt he had to say something... anything.

b. Peter said a lot of interesting things... incurable?

3. They were listening to everyone and everything except Jesus.

a. Their beliefs (background, traditions) did not allow them to consider Jesus dying.

b. The physical world did not allow them to understand “rising from the dead.”

IV. How about you?

A. What are you seeking?

1. Are you seeking a powerful event?

a. Is that why you come to church?

b. Is that why you pray for revival?

2. Are you seeking the miraculous event?

a. Maybe you want healing.

b. Maybe you want to feel the presence of God.

Churches do a lot to inspire the FEELING of the presence of God, through incense, lighting, music, etc..

3. Are you seeking the special feeling?

a. Nothing compares to being in the presence of God.

b. When we “feel” that we “feel” that we are special to God.

4. Are you seeking the blessing?

a. We want our souls and spirits lifted and filled.

b. We want to be honored by God’s working through our lives.

5. Are you planning?

a. Because we feel like planning the next step is the right response.

b. Because we want the critical mountain top experience to last.

6. Are you anxious?

a. We spend a lot of time listening to what is not true instead of Jesus.

b. We doubt and do not know what to do.

7. Are you constantly asking:

a. for what is good BUT mostly temporary?

b. for what we want?

Can you join Habakkuk when he says: (Hab 3:17 – 18)

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
[18] yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

***** Is God enough? *****

Paul learned this: (2 Cornithians 12:9 – 10)

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. [10] That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

***** Is God enough? *****

Notice that when the transfiguration was over: “they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.”
It seems that when we WANT we are trying to use God and we labor for ourselves. If the only thing that happened was that God would to save you and you lived the rest of your spiritual life without all the extras and frills, would God’s grace be enough?

You see we’ve lied to ourselves, thinking all these other things were necessary. In reality we’ve replaced Jesus with a weak idol of an event.

[For further thought see A. B. Simpson’s song “Himself.”]

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April 2, 2006

1 Corinthians 11:23 – 25
Remembering Jesus: the new covenant.

Jesus set aside the first to establish a new covenant [Hebrews 10:9]. This new covenant gives us God’s love which sparks fire, life, and newness.

I. God’s love sparks the fire.

A. In the “Old” we learn that we are not “good enough.”

1. We try to behave thinking:

a. if we are only “good enough” then God will let us in.

b. if we are only “good enough” God will do something good for us.

c. if we are only “good enough” God will keep bad stuff from happening to us.

d. if we are only “good enough” God will, like Santa Clause, show up with good stuff.

2. The old covenant, “the Law,” made it clear:

a. you could do everything right but not be right with God.

b. you could never bring enough sacrifices.

c. the sacrifices had to be endlessly repeated because they could not free you from sin’s guilt or control.

B. Before the Old Covenant there was a principle = FAITH

1. Abraham was justified BEFORE there was “the Law.”

Genesis 15:6 says “Abram BELIEVED the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
James 2:23 says, “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.”
Again in Galatians 3:6 we read, “Consider Abraham: He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

a. “Believe” is an action verb. It is something you do. James 2:24 states, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”

b. Belief goes beyond trying to be good. Galatians 3:7 tells us, “Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.” and Galatians 3:9 says, “So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

2. Faith (“belief”) is the rule of life.

a. Habakkuk 2:4b states: “but the righteous will live by his faith”

Galatians 3:11 – 12a, “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." [12] The law is not based on faith.”

b. Romans 1:17 emphasizes, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

***** In other words it is not our merit, it’s Jesus righteousness. *****

II. God’s love sparks the life.

A. The image of the temple sacrifices in the Old covenant:

1. Temple layout:

a. There was only one entrance.

b. To get in you had to pass the alter.

1.) It was large and elevated.

2.) It was polished to act like a mirror.

2. The priest would cut the sacrifice’s throat.

a. Blood would pour out of the animal.

1.) The blood was sprinkled on the alter (probably splatter on the people).

2.) The rest of the blood would go in a drainage ditch.

b. Blood, smoke, and ash was everywhere... it was required to enter the presence of God.

2. These sacrifices had to be offered for every offense.

B. The heart issue was REPENTANCE.

1. A costly penalty had to be paid for sin.

a. God knows that it is easy to get good at being bad.

b. The “uncanny valley” is when the work becomes so good it seems almost real... it becomes creepy.

1.) The more “almost” the deeper and more important the distinction between life and lifeless.

2.) We can get used to being “almost” alive and harden our heart.

2. The hard heart is a serious problem and a real promise.

a. Ezeliel 36:26 tells us, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

b. God wants to exchange the lifelike and lifeless with real life.

***** This makes us completely new. *****

III. God’s love sparks the newness.

A. The old is a matter of the past.

1. We start life condemned..

a. It’s why we are looking for something/someone.

b. It’s why we have a nagging sense of fear.

c. It’s why there is a pit of emptiness that we can not permanently fill.

2. God wants to change that and take it away.

a. Jesus paid the penalty for the possibility.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

b. In the most brutal, unfair even of human history, Jesus took the whipping for us. Jesus took the nails for us. Jesus took the bleeding for us. Jesus took the mocking for us. Jesus took the grave for us.

B. Are you tired, hurting, lonely, weighted down with guilt?

1. God WANTS to trade you:

a. God WANTS to trade the good things He has for the bad things you have.

b. Why? Because you are valuable to Him – not for anything you can do – but simply BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU.

2. God wants to be your God.

a. God wants to give you a heart of flesh, a new life.

b. God wants to show those other things that drive you will leave you empty and broken and used up. God wants to make you new.