Tuesday, May 23, 2006

May 21, 2006

Romans 1:8 – 17
“Impact Faith”

Paul is impressed by the Roman church. He says [v 8] that their faith is reported all over the world. This is “impact faith.” It is a faith that makes a difference. The root of this kind of faith is in the gospel.

What is this gospel that causes Christians to have “impact faith.”

I. Its source of life changing power is God.

A. The gospel is God’s chosen METHOD.

1. It is spoken.

a. The Bible says, “How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” [Romans 10:14]

b. The Bible says, “Consequently, faith comes from HEARING the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” [Romans 10:17]

***** If someone speaks then you must listen. Problem, we attach to much importance to the person and the delivery method... when we should be listening to the message. *****

2. It must be accepted.

a. The Bible says, “Yet to all who RECEIVED him, to those who BELIEVED in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” [John 1:10]

b. The Bible says, “He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household.” [Acts 16:30 – 31]

B. The gospel is God’s chosen ABILITY of change.
1. It works:

a.Without God intervening in human history, we would be hopelessly lost.

b. Without God’s power at work, life would be staggering because of the weight and consequences of sin.

2. It frees:

a. It frees the believer from the consequences of sin: eternal damnation/hell.

b. It frees the believer from the dominion of sin: we don’t have to be slaves to sin anymore.

C. The gospel is God’s chosen PURPOSE of change.

1. We need powerful and effective help to deal with the problem of sin. Because we can not free ourselves.

2. The PURPOSE is “for salvation.”

3. “We are equally miserable without a savior, equally welcome to the Savior.”

4. Notice salvation is NOT unconditional or universal. There is a condition.... It is “TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES.”

II. Its source of life changing righteous is God.

A. If the product of sin in misery and damnation then salvation must get us out of sin.

1. This makes no sense until we admit that we are totally, completely, helplessly, lost.

2. The product of salvation is righteousness (a state of being “right” before God and growing in knowledge and obedience).

3. We tend to think/preach: God is good, people are not, try harder.

B. This is “righteousness FROM God is revealed.”

1. In other words, this righteousness is independent of our efforts. It is GIVEN to everyone who believes.

2. “Awakening” is an old Holiness expression. The image of a person being dead in sin, unable to respond. The Bible says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” [Ephesians 2:1]

a. The Holy Spirit “wakes” the person...

b. ...so that the person can respond.

The Bible says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, [5] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. [Ephesians 2:4 – 5]

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.” [Colossians 2:13]

3. Righteousness is divine property given to sustain us in a close relationship with God.

a. It meets God’s requirements.

b. It meets God’s expectations.

III. The key concept is “faith.”

A. Faith is both a noun and a verb. (Something we have and something we do.)

1. Faith is the expected reaction and outcome to grace.

a. The Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- [9] not by works, so that no one can boast.” [Ephesians 2:8 – 9]

b. It begins in the heart and works outwardly and constantly.

c. In other words, It is not a momentary break through, it is a continual response to God’s grace.

2. God is at work.

a. Salvation is offered by has no reality or validity apart from faith.

b. Faith is the link between us and God. It accepts the gift of God’s grace.

B. Faith produces “fruit.”

1. Fruit is the proof of the relationship, the Bible tells us, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” [Luke 3:8]

b. Fruit is the result of the relationship, the Bible says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4

c. Fruit is the result of continuing in that relationship, the Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [24] Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” [Galatians 5:22 – 24]

2. Faith change the individual.

a. If you have not been changed....

b. If you have are not different than the world...

IV. The result is a “lifestyle.”

A. “The righteous will live by faith.”

1. The Bible says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” [2 Corinthians 5:7]

2. The Bible says, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” [1 John 2:6]

3. The Bible says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” [Galatians 5:25]

B. Faith is the beginning and the fuel of a life long process.

1. The “dirty” word is obedience.

a. You walk by faith when you obey when everything indicates your actions do not make sense.

b. You walk by faith when you obey when you want to do your own thing.

c. Living this way, you will not make sense to people who do not have faith.

2. Obedience ultimately comes from trust.

a. If yo do not trust someone, you will not listen to or obey them.

b. It is why children don’t obey their parents, and churches obey their pastors (see Hebrews 13:17). It’s your internal/spiritual problem not the other persons...

***** If you can not place yourself under the authority God has given you, which you can see, then you can not place yourself under His authority (you can not see God). *****
Conclusion:

1. Have you ever experienced the life changing power of God? You know you have if you share the gospel with others.

2. Have you experienced a righteousness that is not yours? You know you have when you say “no” to what you want and “yes” to what you know God wants you to do.

3. Have you experienced faith? You know you have when you are willing to do what is not comfortable to do what God wants you to do.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mother's Day, 2006

2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15
A Mother’s Solution

Today’s world has left women in dire straits. Divorce rates continue to rise, leaving an unprecedented number of women and children in poverty. Violence against women seems to be rocketing out of control. Women are being reduced to objects due to pornography and the sex industry. Evidence is surfacing that an alarming number of women are being trafficked as slaves around the world.

Even the church seems to be caught in this pandemonium. It is said that the divorce rate inside the church is as high as it is outside the church. Recent studies have shown this is not the fact. These studies are showing a remarkable utopia for women who live outside the garbage dump of sin. Socially it can be proven that God’s ways are the best ways.

(Ill.) Susannah Wesley is said to have prayed one hour every day for her children. She was strict. But she was unselfishly faithful. She had six rules for teaching her children the priority of the Savior:
1. Subdue self-will in a child.2. Teach him to pray as soon as he can speak.3. Give him nothing he cries for, and only what is good for him when he asks politely.4. Punish no fault confessed, but let no sinful act to go unnoticed.5. Reward good behavior.6. Strictly observe all promises you have made to your child.

Yet in the free-fall of sin, women face many pressures and fears. This morning lets look a few of them.

I. The fear that the children will not grow up right.

A. Men tend to take credit while women take blame.

1. Proverbs 10:1 “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.”

(Ill.) Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Well, on one Mother’s Day, Calvin is pictured standing by his mother’s bed. "Hey, Mom! Wake up. I made you a Mother’s Day card." "My, how sweet of you." she says. "I did it all by myself. Go ahead and read it."

She begins to read: "I was going to buy a card with hearts of pink and red. But then I thought I’d rather spend the money on me instead. It’s awfully hard to buy things when one’s allowance is so small. So I guess you’re pretty lucky I got you anything at all. Happy Mother’s Day. There, I’ve said it. Now I’m done. So how about getting out of bed and fixing breakfast for your son." Signed, "Calvin."

"I’m deeply moved." said his mother.

"Did you notice the part about my allowance?" He asks.

a. Ever hear, “that’s my child...”? It is generally in the context of taking credit, being rightfully proud.

b. Ever hear, “your child...”? It is generally in the context of assigning blame when the child does something unacceptable.

2. Somehow the foolishness of a child effects Mom deeply, while Dad seems to continue without much regrets.

a. It seems that women are “hard-wired” to emotionally attach themselves personally to their children.

b. It may be a nurturing instinct. When the child acts foolishly the Mom accepts blame while the Dad figures that the child made their own decision.

3. Accept credit and blame CAREFULLY!

a. You are not the only influence. In fact your good influence may be the only one the child has. (Spoken like a man...)

b. The love of a Mother is extremely powerful but there may be some things it can not overcome.

B. Matthew 15:21 – 28 tells this story:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. [22] A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." [23] Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." [24] He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." [25] The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. [26] He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." [27] "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." [28] Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

1. The daughter was suffering from an outside influence: “My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

a. This shattered the loving heart of a Mom.

b. It drove her to desperation...

2. Faith is easier when there are no alternatives.

a. “Beggars can’t be choosy.” Crumbs would be enough!

b. Yet this woman is rewarded with two things:

1.) Her daughter is healed.

2.) Jesus sums up her character in four words, “you have great faith!” (As opposed to the disciples who had “little faith.”)

II. The fear of being a single Mom.

A. With the climbing divorce rate, more women are becoming single Moms.

1. Some think that being a single Mom is better than the alternative.

a. Then they must be coming out of very bad situations.

b. Possibly this may be an excuse (self-justification) for making the choice.

c. Fact is that many times the situation is forced on the woman. Society allows women to become the victim again... of our “no fault” divorce laws.

2. Married women can be “single” Moms too... It’s called an emotionally distant father. [the following is from the 2006 May/June issue of Light and Life, pp 15 – 17]

a. Father’s don’t necessarily connect with children.

b. Father’s just want to have fun... (Ever see a man with children? He becomes one himself! It’s cute for a baby sitter but useless for a father.)

(Ill.) By the time a child reaches 18, a mother has had to handle some extra 18,000 hours of child-generated work. In fact, women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time!

c. Father’s can suffer from domestic life burnout. (Men do not place as high a value on family as women do... generally speaking.)

(Ill.) Aparently, Billy Graham says his favorite story is of a husband who was not very attentive to his wife. But one day he started feeling guilty about that, and decided to change. So on his way home from work he bought a box of candy and some flowers to surprise his wife.He walks up to the door and rings the doorbell. She opens it, and there he stands, candy in one hand, flowers in the other, singing, "I love you truly, truly, Dear." Instantly she starts crying, big old tears just gushing out of her eyes. She sobs, "Oh, Harry! Everything went wrong today. We had a leak in the plumbing. The kids were terrible. The house is a wreck. And now you come home drunk!"

d. Ultimately it may be a problem with our theology of children... (that they are not fully human)

(Ill.) Mothers are the first to get up in the morning, and often the last to get to sleep due to restless children that won’t take bed time seriously….

Moms are the ones who wake the children, feed the children, clothe the children, keep the children occupied, run the children every place they need to go, feed the children again, try to get a least one task accomplished in spite of the children, bathe the children, settle down the children and try to get the children to fall asleep, only to start the process again the next day.

Mothers are the ones who are charged with making their children happy, their husband happy, (if they work outside the home) bosses happy, and if there’s any time left then and only then can they be happy…

Mothers are the ones who are excellent first aid givers. When dad says “you’ll live” mom grabs the Band-Aid for non-existent scrape, and with a simple hug and kiss is always able to make the pain go away….

Mothers are the ones put up with what seems like everyone telling them that they aren’t doing it right, that they should be doing something else, and that, even though their children are well-adjusted, content, and happy, if they don’t change today, their children will become juvenile hoodlums….

Mothers are the ones who, although they’ve completed high school and maybe some college, find their vocabulary slipping away from with short phrases like, “Let mommy fix the boo-boo.” and find themselves repeated phrases constantly like “Don’t do that!” “I said no.” “Get back here.” Get over here.” “Get out of there.” and the like…

Mothers also know a lovely arrangement of Barney, Bob the Builder, Sesame Street, and Clifford the Big Red Dog tunes replacing anything that had learnt previous to motherhood that may be more sophisticated. [Greg Buchner]

B. Genesis 21:14 – 19 tells the story of a single Mom:

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.

GE 21:15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. [16] Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.

GE 21:17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. [18] Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."

GE 21:19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

1. This situation was forced on Hagar by “the other woman.” (From Hagar’s perspective.)

a. Sarah suggested the arrangement that Abraham take Hagar as a wife.

b. Hagar and Sarah did not get along prompting intense jealousy after Isaac was born.

c. “Irreconcilable differences.” [Good people can be in conflict that turns ugly... e.g. Paul and Barnabas.]

2. Even though Isaac is the child of the promise, God is still concerned about the life and welfare of Hagar and Ishmael.

a. God is still deeply concerned about the life and welfare of the single Mom and her children.

b. Does it seem like the church isn’t?

III. The fear of having to let go.

A. Reality: we are not “raising children” we are raising adults.

1. You do not want you child to age and remain a child.

a. Our society has correctly identified childish behavior in adults as being unacceptable (or ill).

b. The key issue to raising a health adult is the ability to recognize things from a view point that is not their own.

1.) Selfishness and self-centered behavior causes trouble and bring hurt.

2.) The ability to recognize and admit our mistakes is mature behavior.

3.) The key to all this is to train the child to understand they are not the center of the universe.

2. Other-centered adults are focused on service.

a. There is a balance where a certain amount of our time, energy, resources must be focused on others.

b. The most important other-centered focus is on God. [God asks for a tenth (tithe) of our resources and a seventh of our time (sabbath)].

3. The hardest thing maybe to let go and give the child to the Lord!

B. 1 Samuel 1:24 – 28 tells of a Mom who was able to let go...

After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. [25] When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, [26] and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. [27] I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. [28] So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there.

1. At one point (before Samuel’s birth) she made a promise.

a. She was still involved in Samuel’s life...

b. BUT there was a critical point where she had to let go.

2. At one point almost every Christian Mom (and Dad) has promised their child to the Lord (baptism or dedication).

a. There is only one way to do this: SET AN EXAMPLE!

(Ill.) A California mother of 10 with the 11th child on the way. One day her 3 year old son was making even the simplest chores difficult to accomplish as she said, "Len . . . was on my heals no matter where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I would trip over him." Several times she patiently suggested he find fun things to do until he said, "Oh, that’s alright Mommy, I’d rather be in here with you." After several other frustrating incidents she asked him why he was acting this way. She said, ". . . he looked up at me with green eyes and said, ‘Well, Mommy, in Primary my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see Him, so I’m walking in yours.’" [Unknown]

b. Trust God.

3. At some point it is time to for the child to pack up and make a life of their own.

IV. So how should women face these fears and pressures? [2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15]

A. Point your children to Jesus.

B. Teach your children Scripture.

C. Encourage you children to service.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

April 30, 2006

Romans 1:1 – 7
Really?

Wayne Harbor from Bedford IA challenged “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” for 26 years at least once a day to disprove Ripley. When Ripley found out, he asked for proof. Mr. Harbor sent him 100 scrap books with letters, weighing 773 pounds. None of Ripley’s claims were proven wrong.

Imagine having a track record like that? Well the Bible has one even better, stronger, with more proof. Paul begins the book of Romans with his “proofs.” Paul begins with who he is and why he is doing and saying what he is about to teach us. Paul continues with Jesus and the reasons for faith. Paul is even going to describe the Romans.

We are starting an adventure that will challenge us to the very core of what we think we believe in contrast to our culture and in light of the truth of Scripture.

I. What animates Paul?

A. Paul sees himself as a “servant.” [v 1]

1. “Servant” literally means “slave.” There is an illustration of this from the Old Testament.

"But if the servant declares, `I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,' [6] then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. [Exodus 21:5 – 6]

a. As a servant, Paul acted in another’s interests, not his own.

b. As a servant, Paul spoke the message given to him, not his own ideas.

***** One reason the world and some people inside the church no longer take the message seriously is because they don’t believe the messenger is under orders or serving the King of Kings. *****

2. Jesus set the example of being a “servant leader.”

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; [4] so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. [5] After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. [John 13:5]

The greatest among you will be your servant. [Matthew 23:11]

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." [Mark 9:35]

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. [25] Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. [26] But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. [27] For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. [Luke 22:24 – 27]

B. Paul sees himself as “called.” [v 1]

1. Paul understood that God had chosen him to do something specific.

a. It was not Paul’s choice. No true minister of God has ever chosen be one.

b. It was Paul’s choice to be obedient, available, and willing.

2. Paul understood himself to be a “sent one” (the literal meaning of “apostle”).

a. Paul was on a mission, with appropriate authority and power to accomplish the mission.

b. Paul understood that he was “set apart” from everything else to focus on one thing: “for the gospel of God.”

***** Another reason the world and some people inside the church no longer take the message seriously is because they don’t believe the messenger is “called” into the service of the King of Kings. Even many messengers do not believe in the “call.” *****

II. What is the appeal of the Gospel?

A. The Gospel (‘good news’) is about Jesus.

1. God kept His promise in Jesus. [“promised beforehand” v 2]

2. Unique to world religions is the historical precedent set by prophecy in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

3. “According to Scripture” has become both a means of speaking truth and referring to prophecy.

***** It seems that some would like to reduce the Bible to human-made words equal with all other human words. The problem with this reasoning is that it does not account for how the various writers of the Bible knew and described in great detail future events. It could not have come out of the human imagination or evolution in religious belief. The only explanation is the existence of God who revealed future events to the writers. If God also revealed events to the writers then God also revealed the various aspects of the message and it’s meaning. *****

B. The focus is on Jesus.

1. Jesus is fully human (not “half” human) [v 3]

2. Jesus is fully God [v 4]

3. The critical issue is Jesus resurrection [v 4].

***** Many of our problems trace back to our understanding or mental picture of God. For instance, if we believe that God knows everything then we won’t try to hide stuff from Him. If we believe that God is all powerful, then we will act like God will actually do something. If we believe that God is holy, then we will have an “obedience that comes from faith.” [v 5] Maybe we really do not believe. *****

C. The fact is “grace.”

1. Grace is God’s desire for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is the “divine want-to.”

a. You do not have to be “good enough.” Nobody is.

b. You do not have to work hard for God’s favor because it’s already yours.

c. You do not have to jump through hoops to get it or keep it. Jesus already jumped through those hoops for you.

2. It is terrifying to realize you are helpless and have no choice but to depend on someone else.

a. Someone has said, “Fearless are those who are helpless.” Possibly so fearless that we would dare approach the almighty, infinitely holy God in desperation for salvation.

b. Recognizing that we are damaged by sin gives hope because we see the need for someone to heal that damage. This causes us to turn to the only one who can heal our sin sick hearts and lives.

***** It is humbling to be absolutely dependent on someone else. Which keeps many people from the joy’s of the abundant and full life Jesus offers now, and eternal life. *****


III. What is the anticipation for the believer?

A. We are “loved by God.” [v 7]

1. God’s love is unconditional... undeserved, etc.

2. God’s love is ultimate commitment.

B. We are called to be “saints.” [v 7]

1. The word “saints” is ALWAYS plural, never singular. Being holy is a GROUP effort not an individual effort. Being holy never happens in isolation.

2. Traditionally “sainthood” is defined in terms of service

IV. So what?

A. History demonstrates the importance of understanding Romans.

1. Augustine (4th century theologian and “church father”) was converted while reading Romans.

2. Marin Luther (1500's) read “justified by faith” and took it to mean “alone.” Thus, began the Reformation.

3. On May 24, 1738 a discouraged missionary went to a religious meeting where Luther’s comments on this passage was being read. Later he wrote in his journal, “About a quarter before nine, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was give me that He had taken away sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” That missionary was John Wesley.

B. Today, we can study the same words and come to the same understanding.

1. Maybe someone today needs to be saved.

2. Maybe someone today needs to give up their hope in everything else and trust Jesus.

3. Maybe someone today needs to have their heart of stone exchanged for a heart of flesh. And know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Jesus has taken away their sins.