Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hebrews 11:11 – 19
Faith of a Father

The official Father’s day flower is the dandelion – the more it gets trampled the better it grows!

I. The promise of faith.

A. It was “impossible.”

1. In other words, it was beyond possible.

a. Abraham was “past age.” [v 11] (100 years old)

b. Sarah was “barren.” [v 11] (90 years old)

2. Abraham was “as good as dead.” [v 12]

B. The key to faith.

1. God is faithful. (It depends on God not you.)

a. God promised Abraham.

1.) God promised that Abraham would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. [Genesis 15:5]

2.) These descendants would be from Sarah not Hagar. [Genesis 17:19]

b. Abraham had already seen...

1.) His call to leave country, people, and family. [Genesis 12:1 – 4]

2.) His defeat of the conquering kings, when he rescued Lot. [Genesis 14]

3.) His covenant with God. [Genesis 15]

4.) The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and his attempt to intercede for those cities. [Genesis 18]

5.) God’s continual protection and blessing.

2 THE promise was through Isaac.

a. Abraham considered/reckoned that God was/is faithful, that God would do what He said.

b. Abraham was willing to trust God for “impossible” things.

***** Faith looks at who God is – not at the situation. Faith sees God as faithful – not situations as “impossible.” Faith holds to the promise of God.

II. What is faith?

A. What it does.

1. Faith carries us through life.

a. It is permanent – it doesn’t just come and go.

b. Wesley’s concept of “assurance of salvation.” (Absolute certainty.)

2. Faith shows us a vision.

a. They saw what the did not have.

1.) They were “never” disappointed they didn’t have it.

2.) The “always” remained faithful to the vision.

(Reality, as humans we struggle.)

b. They welcomed it from a distance. [v 13]

1.) They understood/accepted that they would not see these things in the natural frame of life.

2.) The looked beyond the boundaries of life to what God says is real.

3. Faith removes the madness.

a. They admitted they were aliens. [v 13]

1.) James Dobson’s “5 lies of the 60's” (which built our society.)

a.) “God is dead.” (The rest of the quote: “for we have killed him.”

b.) “Drugs are a legitimate form of entertainment.”

c.) “Pre/extra/perverted sexual freedom.”

d.) “Divorce is an acceptable/easy way out.”

e.) “Man is ok, we can fix ourselves.”

2.) We are not condemned to be part of this madness.

b. They lived as strangers on earth. [v 13]

1.) EVERYTHING we stand for and believe, the world opposes/hates.

2.) They had opportunity to return but they did not.

B. God’s role in faith.

1. He is not ashamed to be called their God. [v 16]

2. He is p preparing a city for them (the same one He’s preparing for us). [v 16]

***** Faith carries us through life and shows us what God can, wants to, and will do in our lives. Faith challenges us with the vision to look at God and be satisfied with the heavenly vision – knowing that God will work in His time. Faith allows us to go beyond the madness and not get trapped in what will destroy us. *****

III. Faith will ALWAYS be tested.

A. Faith is action not thought.

1. Action reinforces knowledge.

2. Faith is the practical outcome of knowledge.

3. Faith gives us a chance to know God’s faithfulness.

B. Abraham’s trial: [v 17 – 19]

1. Abraham had a promise

2. Abraham was told to take the promise and sacrifice it... give it up.

C. Abraham “reasoned” (“considered”)...

1. That God could raise the dead.

2. Abraham held to the promise.

3. Abraham held to the faithfulness of God.

***** What “impossible” thing do you face today? The great part about “impossible” is the only way it will happen is because God does something special. How about trusting God in the “little” or “easy” things as well? *****

Friday, June 09, 2006

June 4, 2006

Romans 1:18 – 32
The “I”s of sin.

The core of sIn is “I.” Paul lists the “slippery slope of sin” in this section and explains how humans descend into the absolute corruption of sin. In essence, “God gave them over.” However, we are “without excuse” because at the root we have “suppressed the truth.” Let’s look at the steps of our decline.

I. Idle worship (doing nothing).

A. Idle in worship... [v 12]

1. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God..”

a. “glorify” means to worship/honor, give credit too...

b. When we stop the basic things like church attendance, daily prayer, and daily personal Bible study, we are in trouble.

2. “For although they knew God, ... nor gave thanks to Him.”

a. The lack of thankfulness is symptom of pride. [see Deuteronomy 8]

b. When we are not thankful, we rebel and complain. [see Hebrews 3:7 – 19]

3. The result of becoming idle in worship is: “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

***** This is possibly the most dangerous of the steps of the “I”s of sin because there is no pain. Yet it is the most critical step toward becoming ultimately selfish and uncontrollably sinful. *****

II. Idol worship.

A. Exchange God for stuff.

1. In a modern world (America) we cannot understand how anyone would worship a rock, piece of wood, etc...

2. However, we can exchange God for stuff.

a. “And exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” [v 23]

b. The verse is about EXCHANGING not about the specific image.

3. We have images of stuff (TV adds create desire), we have the pursuit of stuff (desire that is acted upon at the cost of important things), we desire the tangible (easy to believe).

B. Exchange the truth for a lie.

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.” [v 25]

1. Notice that this exchange results in bondage/slavery.

2. The lie is

a. That worship is easy/feel good. (This comes from a perverted image of God... that God is our servant.)

b. That service is fruitful at our whim. (This comes from humanism.)

c. That self-sacrifice is unnecessary. (This comes from survival of the fittest mentality.)

d. That Christianity is possible without Christ. (This comes from political correctness.)

III. Immorality (worship of the flesh)

A. Notice the role of “sinful desire.”

1. “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts...” [v 24] “God gave them over to shameful lusts.” [v 26] “He gave them over to a depraved mind... [v 28]

a. Desire can be a real problem when it controls us.

“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. [15] Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” [James 1:14 – 15]
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For everything in the world--the CRAVINGS OF SINFUL MAN, THE LUST OF HIS EYES AND THE BOASTING OF WHAT HE HAS AND DOES--comes not from the Father but from the world. [17] The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” [1 John 2:15 – 17] (EMPHASIS mine)

b. We would never admit to “lust” (KJV) but the reality is that our desires are out of control.

2. Notice it was the individual’s desire! (God did not cause this to happen.)

a. The direction of thought.

b. The direction of affections/heart.

c. The direction of the spiritual momentum.

B. Notice the degrading of their bodies.

1. It reduces the person to an object/victim.

2. It reduces the user to the used/victim.

“For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread...” Proverbs 6:26a (A loaf of bread was the price of a prostitute. When a man paid that price, he was reducing his self-worth/image to that price. When a man buys anything for sexual gratification, that is the price he puts on himself.)

3. Today, we still sell ourselves...

a. ...pornography, abortion, commercialism

b. Our marketing creates dissatisfaction, generates desires, reduces you to a price.

IV. Ignominy (celebrating the disgraceful/shameful)

A. Here is the idea of exchange again: “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” [v 26b], “abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.” [v 27b]

1. The “natural” is exchanged for the “unnatural.”

2. There is a redefinition of the words “good” and “natural” in our society.

3. Strong social an political pressure is put on those who do not go along with these new definitions.

a. Nasty name calling... “hatemonger” etc...

b. Unconstitutional laws... “hate speech” laws.

B. Unfortunately the target is missed by those stereotypers and ill-conceived laws.

1. The real problem is not the social/political/emotional. (a.k.a. people)

a. It is physical: “Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

1.) AIDS/HIV is not new (even though it was “discovered” in the 1980's).

2.) Other physical ramifications...

b. It is emotional.

1.) Psychologists used to talk about “self-hatred” among the homosexual population.

2.) Average life expectancy of a male homosexual in the USA is 41 with suicide being a huge problem.

c. It is spiritual:

1.) Anyone who lives outside the laws of God (not just this subject) are subject to “the wrath of God.”

2.) Everyone (including this subject) is invited, through Jesus, into a right relationship with God.

2. The difficult part is that all sexual sins are against the persons own body.

a. In other words, the sinner becomes the emotional, physical, and spiritual victim of their own action.

b. God does not want anyone to suffer the eternal consequences of their sin! [2 Peter 3:9] That is why Jesus paid the price for our sins, so we could be forgiven and healed. So we could escape the slavery of sin (whatever its name).

3. Irony: some issues make the one who loathes the sin as ugly of a monster as they perceive the sinner to be.... (Wesley said, “We sin under the guise of merely hating sin.”)

V. Insanity (KJV = “reprobate” NIV = “depraved”)

(Ill.) The idea is “rejected.” Take King Saul. When he was rejected and the spirit of the Lord left him, he was afflicted by an “evil” spirit... went insane.

A. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.” [v 29]

1. Not with good things... with very painful things.

2. NOTICE THAT “envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, [30] slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; [31] they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” [vv 29 – 31] IS THE NEXT STEP DOWN. Not at the top of the list but the BOTTOM of the slippery slope.

a. As destructive and perverted as some may try to paint homosexuality, the progression in the text is clear. Things such as gossip and disobedience to parents (so natural in our culture) are much more destructive.

b. Caution about creating a “sin hierarchy” where some things are “worse” spiritually. There is no such thing. All sin is sin (equal in guilt and consequences, separating us from God). However, some things have more devastating social consequences.

3. The pursuit of sin becomes so intense that we have to “invent ways of doing evil.” [see v 30]

a. There is a reason: sin only has pleasure for a season/short time. [see Hebrews 11:25]

b. We are obliged to run from sin to sin to anesthetize the pain.

c. In other words, sin is the ultimate boredom with no lasting satisfaction or fulfillment.

B. “They are senseless.”

1. The goal of evil is not just to corrupt and destroy... it is to make us stupid.

a. (ill) Beer commercials featuring people acting in stupid ways are ironically truthful at this point.

b. Sin does the same thing to us. We become stupid... senseless... not understanding what we do.

2. Another goal of evil is to reproduce itself.

a. We set up a cheering section. Any sin you can imagine has its encouragers.

b. “They not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” [v 32b]

Conclusion: Much of the track into the dirges of sin traces back the power of desire. What should our response to unbridled desire be and how do we avoid the slipper slope of sin?

1. Be disciplined, live holy lives: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. [14] As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. [15] But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” [1 Peter 1:13 – 15]

2. Be disciplined, be ruthless in abstention: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” [1 Peter 2:11]

3. Be disciplined, live for the will of God: “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. [2] As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” [1 Peter 4:2]

4. Be disciplined, but the power of God at work in our lives: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. [4] Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” [2 Peter 1:3 - 4]