Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Restoration and Spirituality

Psalm 51:10 – 13

Basic spiritual life

This Psalm has been called “the sinner’s guide” (William Plumer) because it can guide a fallen believer back into relationship with God.

It is the first Psalm to use “spirit” in reference to the Holy Spirit.

The notable part of this Psalm is that true repentance is not satisfied with know forgiveness. True repentance desperately throws the person on the mercy of God seeking renewal and restoration.

I. David’s situation:

A. David has committed adultery and covered it up by murder. (Magnified by his position as King.)

1. “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, [3] and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ [4] Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her...” [2 Samuel 11:2 – 4a]

2. “In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. [15] In it he wrote, ‘Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.’ [16] So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. [17] When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.” [2 Samuel 11:14 – 17]

B. David admitted his guilt.

1. “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. [2 Samuel 12:13]

2. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. [4] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight...” [Psalm 51:3 – 4]

II. Basic things in a right relationship with God:

A. A consecrated relationship with God. [v 10]

1. God must create something new and pure because sin has destroyed it.

a. Fake repentance wants relief. True repentance wants something new beyond cleansing or purity.

b. This newness must be created by God, it can not be achieved by us because of the utter hopelessness and total deception of the our desire to sin.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” [Jeremiah 17:9]

2. God must restore a right/steadfast spirit because once you develop a weakness it must be guarded forever.

a. Steadfast does not mean “stubborn” it means not influenced buy weakness or temptation.

b. This is a spiritual attitude that understands the sense of sin and longs for holiness.

B. A constant realization of God. [v 11]

1. Sin gives us the “worst case scenario” because it separates us from God.

a. Imagine being thrown away as something worthless. No covenant relationship, made a complete stranger, deprived of God’s favor.

b. Imagine God removing any and all sense of Himself.

2. Sad part is that we live this way all the time and seldom know or feel what we are missing.

a. Jesus’ greatest agony on the cross: “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 15:34]

b. Why and how did Jesus feel this agony? “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21]

C. A correct response to God. [v 12]

1. Only God can give joy but only AFTER “pardon and purity.”

a. Sin forfeits the joy of salvation. Salvation and joy are two ends of the same stick.... if you have salvation then you have joy. If you don’t have joy then you need to examine yourself.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?” [2 Corinthians 13:5]

b. Many lack joy because they have placed something sinful between themselves and God.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. [4] For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah [5] Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"– and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah” [Psalm 32:3 – 5]

2. Only God can sustain those who are willing.

a. A willing spirit is one that wants to obey. This will take consistency, perseverance, and God’s protection.

b. Why do we do what we do? Because we want too... (traditional theory)

D. A candid responsibility for those God wants to reach.

1. Everyone who is in a right relationship with God has a desire to draw others toward God.

a. Modern world emphasizes educational degrees as a validation for position or ministry. But God has only one degree that is valid... It’s not an M.A. or an M.Div. It’s not a Ph.D. It is an “S.S.” (Sinner Saved).

b. The pardoned sinner speaks sympathetically and humbly knowing where they came from:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, [2] in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. [3] All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” [Ephesians 2:1 – 3]

2. A grateful heart returns service to God in deeds not words. (Worship is not a complete spiritual diet... without action/service, its empty of substance and dead.)

a. How do you teach others?

1.) Through your experience: Tell your story.

2.) Through your understanding: Ask questions.

3.) Through your knowledge: Share what the Bible says.

4.) Through your walk: Invite company on your journey.

b. The idea is for others to turn back to God because there is only one way and God’s love compels you.

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” [2 Corinthians 5:14]

III. What do you need to do?

A. Talk to God.

1. Use the word of Psalm 51:10 – 14, make them your own.

2. People in strained relationships don’t talk very well to one another because its just hard.

B. Trust God.

1. When you talk to God, rely on His mercy.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” [Psalm 51:1]

2. God will not turn away those who are sincere.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” [Psalm 51:17]

C. Tell someone!

1. The real exercise of faith is shared in community with others.

2. The real exercise of faith is shared outside the walls of the church so others have hope.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Those He Gathered

Psalm 107

Those He Gathered

When you look at God’s people, we are collection of all sorts of people from every walk of life. There does not seem to be any “one” type of us. We come from different backgrounds with different stories and different experiences. That’s the way God designed His church to be...

Fact is God brings all types of people to Himself.


I.         Some of the types are mentioned in Psalm 107.


            A.        God brings people whose lives are lost and empty. [v 4]

*****There is no “reason” just fact.*****


                        1.         Some thins are out of our control.


                                    a.         Tendencies:


                                                1.)       We “blame” those in need.


                                                2.)       We feel “injustice.”


                                    b.         Fact: sometimes people suffer because of things beyond their ability. “It is what it is...”


                                                1.)       People are homeless, hungry, thirsty, sick, in prison.


                                                2.)       When we look for motivation or reason, instead of seeing and meeting the need, we sin (by being judgmental – an attitude that does not give the other person a chance or the benefit of doubt).


                        2.         Having lives that are lost and empty can be a blessing...


                                    a.         At least when we are here, we know our need.


                                    b.         This place is much closer to salvation than being self-righteous.


            B.        God brings people who are prisoners to sin. [v 10]


                        1.         Reasons for the prison of sin:


                                    a.         Rebellion against the word of God. [v 11] (Hebrew: “to be contentious” [BDB] “to be [make] bitter” [Strong]


                                    b.         Despise (reject with contempt) the counsel (purpose and plan) of the “Most High” (one of the many Old Testament titles of God.)


                        2.         Sin must be dealt with.


                                    a.         On God’s part: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” [1 John 1:7b]


                                    b.         On our part: respond in repentance and faith.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” [Acts 3:19]


            C.        God brings people who have acted foolishly. [v 17]


                        1.         “Fool” is a technical term: Someone who has chosen to live like there is no God.


                                    a.         A “fool” despises wisdom, mocks when guilty, is quarrelsome, and is licentious (“promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters” – Oxford) [BDB]


                                    b.         In a sense the “fool” as become their own “god” deciding right from wrong (and mostly getting it backwards).


                        2.         Notice the damage done to themselves by their own actions:


                                    a.         The trouble with acting foolishly is: “hurt people hurt people,” “misery loves company.”


                                    b.         The Hebrew for “suffering affliction” caries the idea of regretting the past, worrying over the future, to be depressed.


            D.        God brings people who are distracted. [v 23]


                        1.         People in pursuit of “the good life.”


                                    a.         We might call them good and hard working.


                                    b.         Problem: If pain or sin does not keep us from God, then pursuing good things will.


                        2.         Success and potential are just as big of lures (and traps) as anything and are just as deadly.


II.       What is God look for in those He gathers?


            A.        An attitude of “desperation.” [vv 6, 13, 19, 28]


                        1.         Jesus called sinners NOT the righteous to repentance. [see Luke 5:32]


                                    a.         If you DO NOT see your need, you will never do anything about it.


                                    b.         If you DO NOT want to change, God will not force you. (Caution: there are consequences to running the stop signs.)


                        2.         Problem: When you think you are “ok” you are very close to destruction:


“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” [Proverbs 16:18]


                                    a.         Jeremiah complained about those who “dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace.” [Jeremiah 8:11]


                                    b.         If you don’t have the desperation, you will not see the problem and consequences of NOT having a faith that changes you and lines you up with God.


            B.        The ability to “cry.”


                        1.         Why cry?


                                    a.         We see crying as a sign of weak people, of those who are helpless, of people who are emotionally unstable.


                                    b.         BUT crying is basic, it was our first form of communication before we learned to talk.


                                                1.)       Prayer is sometimes seen as a very complicated idea.


                                                2.)       All it takes is to cry out to God.


                        2.         Why cry out?


                                    a.         Ever ask for help? That’s crying out.


                                    b.         It can offend our pride but that’s what God wants. It’s called humility. Simple. Different. Effective.


III.      Why should you ask God to help? (Two reasons)


            A.        God is good!


“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” [Psalm 107:1]


                        1.         Love that endures forever is difficult to translate because we have no way to say it in English.


                                    a.         KJV – “mercy,” ESV – “steadfast love,” ASV – “lovingkindness”


                                    b.         It is based on God. God is merciful. God is faithful. It’s all about God not us.


                        2.         The concept of “forever” is way beyond us (unless we are standing in line).


                                    a.         At most we think of a “live time.” God thinks in eternity.


                                    b.         Literally we are talking about “infinity.” God’s love never fails in time or circumstance.


“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 5:5]


            B.        God delivers and saves. [vv 6, 13, 19, 28]


                        1.         God’s promise is both spiritual and physical.


                                    a.         God wants to deal with the core issue of your separation from Him.


                                    b.         God wants to deal with the here and now.


                        2.         Where ever you are, whatever your direction, God offers you something more... something better.


IV.      What to do:


            A.        [v 43] “Heed” and “consider” God’s love for you.


                        1.         “Heed” means to pay careful attention.


                        2.         “Consider” means to seriously consider.


            B.        Cry out to the Lord.


                        1.         Recognize your need and God’s provision.


                        2.         Set aside any self-reliance and ask God.


            C.        [v 2]    “Let the redeemed of the LORD say this.”


                        1.         If God has done something for you, don’t keep silent.


                        2.         Others need help too... they don’t know where to turn. You can point them the right direction.


(Ill.) In Africa they have a saying “Evangelism is one beggar showing another where to find bread.”



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Sunday, August 03, 2008

One Sermon

Acts 16:30

One time, one sermon.

Question: What would you say to a person if you knew you could only talk to them once about God?


1.         There is one true God.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1]


            a.         God is God for all people at all times.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. . . . Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” [Psalm 19:1, 4]


            b.        God is commonly misunderstood and unknown. God (“God the Father”) is revealed through Jesus (“God the Son”) who created this world and who lived on earth to teach us about God’s (“God the Father”) grace and truth.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. [3] Through him (Jesus) all things were made; without him (Jesus) nothing was made that has been made. [4] In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. . . . [14] The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


2.         God knows all about you. You must face God in Judgment. (That’s truth.)

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” [Hebrews 4:13]

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” [Romans 14:12]


            a.         God thinks differently than we do. We think we are good. God sees the truth.

“He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.” [Luke 15:16]


            b.        Think about all the war, the crime, the hatred, the greed. Where does it come from? It’s who we are and what we do. That’s called “sin.”

“There is no one righteous, not even one; [11] there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. [12] All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. [13] Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. [14] Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. [15] Their feet are swift to shed blood; [16] ruin and misery mark their ways, [17] and the way of peace they do not know. [18] There is no fear of God before their eyes. . . . [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:10 – 17, 23]


3.         This behavior earns painful eternal consequences.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23]


            a.         The result of sin and judgment against us is an eternal lake of fire:

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. [13] The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades (hell) gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. [14] Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. [15] If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” [Revelation 20:12 – 15]


            b.        Jesus described this place as “torment” and “agony in this fire” without pity.

“In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. [24] So he called to him, `Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” [Luke 16:23 – 24]


            c.         Our effort does not come close to helping us.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” [Isaiah 64:6]


4.         God has another idea. It’s called “grace” which is doing something for us because God wants to not because we earn it or deserve it.

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. [John 3:6]

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” [Luke 19:10]


            a.         Sin makes us powerless but God’s love is more powerful than our sin.

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


            b.        God exchanged all our guilt and sin for Jesus’ righteousness.

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


            c.         Jesus is the only way to be saved from our current condition and our future judgment.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]


5.         What must you do?


            a.         Admit you are a sinner. This is called “repentance.”

“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]

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?” [Romans 2:4]


                        1.)       This means admitting your sin and your need. Jesus said:

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Luke 5:32]


                        2.)       God forgives and cleans us when we admit our sin.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9]


            b.        Believe in who Jesus is and what Jesus did for you.

All the prophets testify about him (Jesus) that everyone who believes in him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through his (Jesus) name. [Acts 10:43]

“They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household.” [Acts 16:31]

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” [John 20:31]


            c.         Choose to follow Jesus.

“Yet to all who received him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he (Jesus) gave the right to become children of God.” [John 1:12]

                        1.)       This means an attitude change and causes us to 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. [3] For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” [1 Peter 4:1]


                        2.)       We are healed from the damage and desire for sin and want to live for righteousness.

“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 2:4]


6.         So, why am I doing this? Three reasons.


            a.         Jesus told those who choose to follow Him to talk about repentance and forgiveness of sins.

Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his (Jesus) name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things.” [Luke 24:47 – 48]


            b.        Because there is no other way.

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” [1 John 5:12]


            c.         To offer you eternal life or encourage you if you already have it.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” [1 John 5:13]

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