Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What happened?

Galatians 4:15
“What Happened?”

The Christian life is one of joy.  If not something is wrong.

I.    The Galatians’ problem.

    A.    They were deserting God. [1:6]

        1.    The key issue is Jesus.

            a.    Jesus is God, come in the flesh, crucified, risen, and King of Kings.

            b.    Jesus is Lord.

            c.    “Grace” means God’s undeserved loving kindness... God’s “want to...”

        2.    The results:

            a.    They were turning to a “different” gospel (“good news”) which was no gospel (“good news”)

            b.    Once we take our eyes off Jesus, we will sink.  (Ill. Peter in the storm, got out of the boat at Jesus’ command, took eyes off Jesus and began to sink.)

        3.    Cure: none.  Consistently  rejecting the grace of God leave us on our own.

    B.    They were thrown into confusion. [1:7]

        1.    The key issue is outside influence.

            a.    Probably the outsiders were well meaning and sincere.

            b.    The outsiders had strong reasoning skills and were persuasive.

            c.    The REAL PROBLEM was they were “those who wanted to impress others.” [6:12]

        2.    The results:

            a.    They “pervert(ed) the gospel of Christ.” [1:7]

            b.    The goal was to “make us slaves.” [2:4c]

        3.    Cure: Instead of “stars” we need “nameless and faceless” leaders and followers who are not concerned about fame or power.

    C.    They were “not acting in line with the gospel of truth.” [2:14]

        1.    The key issue is fear.

            a.    Peter was pressured and Barnabas was lead astray.

            b.    [2:12] “because he (Peter) was afraid.”

            c.    Unfortunately weaknesses have a way of haunting us.  (Peter had once denied Jesus because he was afraid of the crowd.)

        2.    The result:

            a.    The “forced” compliance.  One key trick is to insist that people “keep the peace” and just go along.

            b.    Not only is hypocrisy demanding, it is contagious.

        3.    Cure: those brave enough to lovingly stand for truth.  (Notice that Paul did not do it to advance his own standing or agenda.)  Loving confrontation is necessary.

    D.    They were trying to finish by human effort. [3:3]

        1.    The key issue is control.

            a.    They started by believing. [3:2]

            b.    They began with the Holy Spirit. [3:2]

            c.    Assuming control of salvation is a natural result of perverting the gospel.

        2.    The result:
            a.    They made the gospel “for nothing” [3:4]

            b.    Was the gospel in vain?  Did they make it in vain?

            c.    [4:9] “turning back to those weak and miserable principles (forms)”

***** The over all effect: [5:2] “Christ will be of no value to you at all.”

*****No wonder there joy was gone.

II.    There are two ways to walk: human effort and depending on God. [4:23]

    A.    Human effort: [3:3]

        1.    Human effort comes through “observing the law.” [3:2] (This is our own efforts to earn, deserve, and maintain our salvation through religious/other exercise and practice.)

        2.    Human effort means slavery. [4:23]

            a.    Sarah’s idea was to give Abraham children (despite God’s promise).

            b.    Abraham did not trust God, so the human effort made sense.

                1.)    Human effort makes sense in a competitive/achievement oriented society.

                2.)    Human effort makes sense corporately when we compare ourselves and hold someone up as the “how to” standard.

        3.    Human effort will alienate us for Christ. [5:4]

        4.    Human effort means we “HAVE FALLEN from grace.” [5:4]

    B.    Depending on God’s promise. [4:3]

(A promise is only as good as the one who makes it.  Our reaction and dependence to a promise reflects our attitude and opinion toward the one making the promise.]

        1.    God’s promise comes through grace. [3:18]

        2.    In Jesus, we become children of God THROUGH faith. [3:36]

        3.    When we move from slaves to sons, God does some things for us. [4:5]

            a.    We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts [4:6]

            b.    We have absolute “Abba” trust. [4:6]

            c.    We are heirs of God. [4:7]

        4.    Depending on God’s promise looks like this:

            a.    You are crucified with Christ. [2:20]

            b.    You will express faith “THROUGH love.” [5:6]

III.    How do we restore joy?

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” [1 Thessalonians 1:6]

    A.    It goes back to the Holy Spirit.

        1.    The Holy Spirit “wakes” us.

            a.    We are awake to our spiritual state and need.

            b.    We are awake to the ONLY solution: Jesus.

        2.    The Holy Spirit “convicts” us.  (Caught between a rock and a hard place.)

            a.    We are uncomfortable with and about the truth. (The “rock”)

            b.    We are uncomfortable with and about ourselves.  (The “hard place”)

        3.    The Holy Spirit brings “godly sorrow.”

            a.    We repent of sin.  (Sin in general in our lives AND specific ones we know we are guilty of...)  (Absolutely necessary.)

            b.    We let go of human effort.

        4.    The Holy Spirit brings “joy.” (According to the individual personality of the believer.)

            a.    Joy is intelligent (able to reason and think).

            b.    Joy is emotional (able to feel).

    B.    How does it work from here?

        1.    We are free to serve in love. [5:13]

        2.    We have the fruit (product) of the Holy Spirit. [5:22 – 23a]

        3.    We keep in step with the Holy Spirit. [5:25]

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Perfect Will v Permissive Will

2 Chronicles 35:20 – 24 & 2 Chronicles 34:26 – 28
Perfect Will v Permissive Will

What happens when things do not go well? When bad things happen to good people? When what happens seems to contradict the will of God?

I. God has a “perfect will.”

A. The “perfect will” should not be mistaken for the “will of God.”

1. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” [Romans 8:29]

2. God’s plan [will] is for the believer to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.

a. In other words, we are to imitate Jesus.

b. We are to live by Jesus’ words and example.

B. God has a “perfect will.”

1. Definition: this is the “best case” things happen the way God would ideally like them to happen.

a. Problem is that is not always the case.

b. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, NOT WANTING ANYONE TO PERISH, BUT EVERYONE TO COME TO REPENTANCE.” [2 Peter 3:9]

c. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, [4] who WANTS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED AND TO COME TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.” [1 Timothy 2:3 – 4]

2. Jesus understood the “perfect will” of God is not always done.

a. Its why Jesus taught us to pray for it to be done: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:10]

b. Its why Jesus had to submit to the Father’s will: “Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." [39] Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” [Matthew 26:38 – 39]

1.) Jesus was agonizing, the physical/human side knew what was coming...

2.) Jesus prayed because it was possible for him to disobey.

Please notice the “perfect will” of God is not always comfortable and death is possible. Death is not the determination of being in God’s will or not... It is God’s judgement, not ours.

Jesus said, “and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:38]

The problem with the “perfect will” will of God is that it can be resisted.

II. Man has a “free will.”

A. Man was created in the image of God.

1. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” [Genesis 1:27]

a. An “image” is a reflection... (as a poem, you see the reflection in the text)

b. The image included self-awareness and self-determination.

c. We are not “will-less” robots or puppets. We are held responsible for loving or rejecting God.

d. God gave Adam and Eve a choice. They had the ability to choose good and reject evil. (That’s called free will, or else Adam and Eve were created with a sin nature.) They sinned. Sin is part of our twisted human nature.

2. Sin shattered the human ability to be a “free agent.”

a. Wesley [vol. 6] “Indeed, without liberty (freedom is the ability to choose, liberty is having the choices), man had been so far from being a free agent, that he could have been no agent at all... He that is not free is not an agent, but a patient.”

b. Sin involves knowledge (with or without understanding), will, and (volition) and liberty (choices available).

c. The will of man, by nature is “bent” [C. S. Lewis] and in bondage to sin.

3. It is so twisted that slavery is mandatory.

a. “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. [18] You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” [Romans 6:17 – 18]

b. You will be a “slave” to sin (who will naturally act sinfully, with the ability to do good) or a “slave” to God (who will naturally act righteously, with the ability to sin).

B. If the “free will” will of people seems to contradict the “perfect will” of God, how are we to understand God’s sovereignty?

III. People must then suffer God’s “permissive will.”

A. This is not “plan B” or “contradictory” to the will of God.

1. Our limited mind wants to see things happening in absolutes or polarities.

a. An “absolute” is when we think if it happens this way then it must be God’s “perfect will.”

1.) “When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” [James 1:13]

2.) God does not tempt, nor does God cause evil. That’s the horror of human “free will” not God’s sovereignty.

b. Polarity is when we put things on opposite poles.

1.) Some people think the “sovereignty” of God is contradicted by “free will.”

2.) The belief in “free will” (such as human responsibility for evil/sin, choosing or rejecting the offer of salvation in Jesus) does not contradict the concept of God’s sovereignty unless you misunderstand (“control”) sovereignty.

2. Examples:

a. Paul’s thorn in the flesh, Paul’s arrest (despite being warned at least three times).

b. King Jehoshaphat’s alliance with King Ahab, which included marrying his son to Athaliah (Jezebel’s daughter).

c. Hezekiah prayed on his death bed for life, God gave him 15 more years. It was during this time Manasseh was born. Manasseh was considered the most evil of all kings. (Even worse than Ahab.)

Understand “sovereignty” as “control” makes God the CAUSE of sin and misery. Submitting to sin and misery is not a comfort, nor is it an answer to the questions that plague us.

B. Josiah’s story.

1. Josiah decides to exercise his ability to choose.

a. We do not read that he consults God.

b. We know he was promised that he would die in peace (not in battle).

c. Josiah must have known he was not invincible because he disguised himself.

d. The result of his choice(s) was that he died.

2. God has established certain laws (that are in place to maintain order).

a. The law of sin and the law of death are very real spiritual laws, like the law of gravity is a physical law.

b. When Lucy and Susan ask Aslan to break the law of the Emperor... Aslan’s response is that they even he (the Emperor’s son) can not break those laws because the purpose they were put in place would then be destroyed. What becomes clear is that there is a deeper law at work.

3. God’s plan was for Josiah to live a long prosperous life and to die in peace.

a. Josiah stepped outside that plan.

b. That exposed Josiah to any and all possibilities of natural spiritual laws (such as the law of sin and the law of death).


1. The only place we are “safe” is in the will of God.

2. The only way to be in the “perfect will” of God is by submitting our will to God.

3. The “un-submitted will” is really a slave to sin – it gives the appearance of “free will” but it is only an illusion. Only submitted to God can we exercise any kind of freedom.

(Ill.) The junk yard has a fence around it to keep people out (safe).  Outside that fence people are free.  Inside the confines of the junk yard fence there is limited movement and danger.  So it is with sin.  Inside sin we are limited and in danger.  Outside is the freedom that comes from being in Jesus.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Taste and See

Psalm 34:1 – 10
Taste and See

Truth can be seen in one of two ways. You can begin with a certain principle and reason down to the “facts.” You can reason back from the “facts” to create principles. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The trouble is that both can mislead a person.

For instance, suppose bad things happen. Using the first one can believe that God is good and have no need to blame God for the bad. Using the second one can question the goodness of God based on what is observed.

David understood that “facts” are a matter of interpretation. This allowed him to hold to the principle that God is good.

I. Praise God in PRECARIOUS circumstances.

A. David’s story:

1. David had been anointed King [1 Samuel 16:12 – 13]

a. David was the 8th son, the youngest, probably considered insignificant.

b. David was keeping sheep when God anointed him King.

c. David was given the Holy Spirit in a powerful way. (“rushed on him”)

2. David beat the unbeatable enemy [1 Samuel 17:45 – 47]

a. Goliath was the champion of Gath, a warrior from birth.

b. Goliath was massive. He was at least 9 feet 9 inches tall (possibly as tall as 11 feet) and extremely strong.

c. When Goliath spoke, people ran in fear.

3. King Saul wanted to kill David. [1 Samuel 20:31]

4. David fled to Gath (remember Goliath) for protection. [1 Samuel 21:10 – 15]

a. Someone remembered he had killed Goliath and got credit for destroying Gath’s army.

b. David, the slayer of Goliath, was reduced to “pretended(ing) to be insane.”

B. Here’s the principle:

1. “I will extol (bless) the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” [Psalm 34:1]

a. The word “all” is a “predeterminer” or “determiner” (a modifying word that determines the kind of reference a noun or group has... Oxford).

b. The word “always” means “continually” or without interuption.

c. Principle: If “all” then “now.”

1.) When weighed down start listening/counting reasons to praise God... (Ill. Hymn “Count Your Many Blessings”)

2.) God’s goodness should never be out of our minds.

II. Praise God in ABJECT circumstances.

A. David found himself in a very humiliating place.

1. He acted like a “madman.” He was anointed King of Israel, he was victorious in battle, he was running for his life, and now this... (CAUTION: mental illness is a serious problem that affects many people is serious ways and needs professional treatment.)

2. This might have been the low point, so far, in David’s life.

a. If you think you will never, or should never have trouble, then you are in trouble.

b. Trouble did not shake David’s faith.

B. Here’s the principle:

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” [Psalm 34:18]

1. “To be humble is to be glad.” [Unknown]

a. Why? Because God has a special place in His heart for those in abject circumstances.

b. Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:3]

2. How? The unshakable confidence that “God is good.”

a. The core problem is the same one it is with sin.

b. We want to decide what is “good” (acceptable to joyful) and “bad” (unacceptable to miserable) and the project that on God.

III. Praise God in COLLECTIVE circumstances.

A. Emotions are contagious.

1. Emotions are projected, not hidden.

a. Angry words stir up anger in others.

b. Studies of “mob mentality.” It starts with one person acting inappropriately on their emotions.

2. “Misery loves company.”

a. Miserable (or hurt) people either seek out others who are miserable or make others miserable (or hurt).

b. Thought: “Joy also loves company.” (What’s the point in celebrating alone?)

B. Here’s the principle:

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” [Psalm 30:5]

1. Jeremiah in the bitterness of his circumstances recognized: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: [22] Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. [23] They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” [Lamentations 3:21 – 23]

2. What favor? What mercies?

a. [v 4] “He answered me.”

b. [v 4] “He delivered me.”

c. [v 10] “those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”

IV. Praise God ENTIRELY.

A. The invitation is to “taste.”

1. To taste is to experience something.

2. When you taste it is not partial.

3. Taste triggers an entire sensation and experience.

B. “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” [v 8]

1. Taste is extremely personal.

a. Some tastes are acquired (sauerkraut, coffee, etc...).

b. Some tastes are conditioned (“don’t put THAT in you mouth”).

2. Taste differs from person to person.

a. What is sweet, sour, salty, or tart to one may be different to someone else.

b. It is all in the reaction.

C. Here’s the principle:

1. Taste is unforgettable.

a. Ever hear (or say) “That tastes like dirt (motor oil, or some other undesirable thing)?”

b. How do you (they) know it taste like dirt...?

2. God wants you to EXPERIENCE Him in a personal and unforgettable way. It’s the only way we are going to keep “pace” with life and deal with difficult (or even great) circumstances.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Participating in Jesus

1 Corinthians 10:16
Participating in Jesus

I. This is a SACRAMENT.

A. It means to confess and identify with Jesus.

1. Not magical, not superstition, not mechanical (going through the motions), not by virtue of priest or church.

2. It is personal faith in God and love for God.

John Wesley – “means of grace” “Is not the eating of this bread and the drinking of this cup, an outward, visible means whereby God conveys spiritual grace into our souls? Conveys all that righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit which was purchased by the body of Christ once broken and the blood of Christ once shed?” [BTW, Wesley also considered read the Bible, prayer, and church attendance as “means of grace.”]

B. “Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” [John 6:53]

1. [v 54] We are promised “eternal life.”

2. [v 56] We are promised that we will “remain” in Jesus.

3. [v 58] We are promised “will live forever.”


A. We realize the benefits of the body and blood of Jesus.

1. Many people can be summed up in a sentence.

e.g. Abraham – “a friend of God.” David – “a man after God’s own heart.” Thomas – “doubter.” Peter – “impulsive and coarse”

2. Jesus can be understood by His death and resurrection. So we have the broken body and shed blood (of the new covenant).

B. “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." [33] He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” [John 12:32 – 33]

1. Notice what will draw people to Jesus is not His power expressed in miracles.

2. It is not Jesus’ teachings that will draw people to Him.

3. It is the broken body and shed blood that is a demonstration of Jesus’ power. That is what Jesus wanted us to remember and celebrate.


A. The real power of Jesus life was His self-sacrificing attitude and action.

1. Human nature is selfish, we want our rights, we want to be comfortable, we want to be happy, etc...

2. The problem is how we go about achieving these things.

3. The Christ like principle is that these are achieved by focusing on others, not ourselves.

4. The broken body and the shed blood are the ultimate examples.

B. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” [1 Peter 2:21]

IV. This is SHAPING.

A. “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” [1 Corinthians 10:16]

1. As we participate together in Jesus, we become one as a community.

2. Thus, the idea of “communion.”


1. We participate in “communion.” We draw strength from several places.

2. We draw strength from God.

a. We recognize we are “unworthy” but loved.

b. We admit we are short of where we need to be but still accepted.

c. We feel our weakness and dependency on God.

3. We draw strength from each other.

a. There is power in “another.” If one falls the other can help.

b. “Another” gets us past ourselves and keeps us honest.

c. This becomes a house of prayer (desperately praying for each other), not a den of thieves (a safe base of operation for sin).

d. We can move beyond the selfish tone of “is it just me?”


1. Only shared together and focused on Jesus do we really find what we are searching for.

2. We fulfill our “duty” as adopted Children of God by encouraging one another and teaching one another.

Tony Dungy – “The reason we make mistakes or fail is not because of lack of motivation. It is because there was something we did not know.”

D. We are SEPARATED from sin.

1. We tend to comply with our desires, that do not please God, are contrary to God’s law, or are out right rebellion against God.

2. Our obedience or disobedience happens in CONTEXT and the context we find ourselves in is controlled by ATTITUDE.

3. Where you are and who you are with often determine our behavior and the outcome of that behavior.

e.g. At church with others seeking God. At a bar with others seeking...

ATTITUDE question: Seek God or seek your own needs?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

PS 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139:23 – 24]

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