Sunday, February 27, 2011

Something New

Revelation 21:1 – 5

Everything New

The story is told at one Presbyterian General Assembly, the moderator announced; “The next number will be an address by Rev. James McCosh, chancellor of Princeton University. Subject: “the immortality of the soul.” Time allotted: 15 – minutes.” (Joke)

Three (3) things will change in eternity.

A. The physical stuff will change!

1. There will be NEW heaven and a NEW earth.

2. Romans 8:19 – 22

a. “Eager expectation” for the sons of God to be revealed.

b. “Subjected to frustration” as the result of sin in general....

c. “Bondage to decay” (everything deteriorates).

3. Physically we al have an appointment with death and the judgement.

(Ill.) Cathedral of Milan – three archways, entrances have marked on them:

1. “All that pleases is but for a moment.”

2. “All that troubles is but for a moment.”

3. “That only is important which is eternal.”

***** Some have suggested we give a 100 year test: “Will this matter in 100 years?” *****

B. The relational stuff will change!

1. God dwelling with us. (Not just as the Holy Spirit, but also as Father and Son)

2. 2 Corinthians 5:14 – 17

a. Eternal destiny CHANGED = “Convinced”

b. Lifestyle CHANGED = “live... no longer for themselves...” (For Jesus)

c. Mind CHANGED = “from a worldly point of view” (not focused on the flesh)


c. Believes = new creation.

(Ill.) Traveler in China in Kwelin noticed a sign that read “Eternal life for sale.” Looking in the building he saw row upon row of black caskets. It was a coffin/casket factory.

(Ill.) Irishman passing a cemetery on day paused at a startling inscription on a tombstone. It read; “I still live.” After scratching his head in puzzlement the Irishman muttered; “If I was dead, I’d be honest enough to own up to it.”

***** We are born in sin and dead to God by nature. Life is lived for the self. We think like everyone else thinks.

Jesus changes all that! “The old has GONE, the new has come!”*****

What happens is God has initiated an EXCHANGE (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). EVERYTHING we have (sin, death, hell) for EVERYTHING Jesus has (righteousness, life, and abundant and eternal life).

C. The emotional stuff will change! [Revelation 21:1 – 5]

1. The ultimate cure for emotional pain? [God]

a. “EVERY tear” (God will wipe them away.)

b. No grief – no death.

c. No crying (there will be no cause or need to cry)

d. No pain (emotional, physical, spiritual)

2. Problem is we are living in “the society of the victim.”

a. Everybody wants to portray themselves as the victim. Why?

1.) Victims get sympathy and attention. (Explain “slavery”)

2.) Victims get bad behavior excused (and the innocent blamed).

b. The only “victim” in the universe is God.

1.) God owns the world, BUT we rebelled.

2.) God gave us directions and instructions (law) BUT we broke them and are on a path of self-destruction.


3.) God the Father sent God the son (Jesus) to demonstrate His love AND we crucified Him.

4.) God freely gives us His grace offering us love and restoration, BUT we continue to reject Him.

***** God does not want our sympathy, attention or His behavior excused. God DOES want to heal us from our sin, unrighteousness, and pain. *****

D. What now? The person, here, now, and later...

1. The body will die, then be resurrected to one of two eternal destinies.

2. The soul will live in eternity with or without Christ.

3. The spirit (mind) will either glory or suffer now and then later.

(Ill.) There is a rock that is 100 miles by 100 miles. Imagine that once every 1,000 years one little bird comes to sharpen its beak on the rock. When the rock is warn away by a single bird sharpening its beak every 1,000 years... then a single day of eternity will yet to have gone by.

***** God wants you to spend eternity with Him. *****

1. Resurrected to eternal “heaven.”

2. To be eternally with you.

3. To wipe away every tear.

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 1:6]

***** What happens in eternity starts now. *****

Sin... failure is the common problem. It causes physical death. It causes spiritual death.. It creates emotional turmoil, chaos, and pain.

What you must do... “A,B,C’s”

Acknowledge the sin in your life. Accept personal responsibility for your actions and attitudes.

Believe in Jesus. Believe in a way that makes a difference in your behavior.

Choose new, abundant, and eternal life in and through Jesus by confessing with your mouth “Jesus is Lord.”

Saturday, February 26, 2011

“The Almost Christian”

Matthew 22:36 – 39
“The Almost Christian”

[John Wesley’s 2nd “Standard Sermon.” I have modified the sermon...]

I. What is “almost” a Christian?

A. “Heathen honesty” [Discuss Augustine’s concept on humanity’s “free will” being broken to the point where it is impossible for a human to do any good without God’s grace.]

1. Living by the rules of what is socially accepted.

2. Generally much is correct: we reject murder, robbery, etc...

3. Love and basic assistance is expected.

B. “Having a form of godliness” (but denying its power)

1. On the outside... look like a Christian.

a. Act right.

b. Use the right language.

2. Abstain from things.

a. Don’t do all the “don’ts”

b. Keep the “Golden Rule.”

3. Generous and sacrificial.

a. Involved in good things.

b. Involved in evangelism and even ministry.

4. Faithful

a. In church attendance... but not in authentic worship.

b. Seem to go through the motions... but are spiritually indifferent and listless.

5. Consistent in family matters.

a. Also private devotions.

b. “Serious behavior.”

6. A seeming sincerity.

a. Internally motived to be good and do good.

b. Yet motivated to “AVOID”

Good people avoid sin from the love of virtue (what we think is right). Wicked people avoid sin from fear of punishment.

7. A real desire to serve God.

a. There is a “hearty desire” to do God’s will.

b. There is a “wanting to serve.” (Wesley considered this a mark of a false prophet.)

The uniform practice of outward religion is a from of godliness... but all this can be empty of meaning.

John Wesley’s testimony: diligent, worked hard, serious behavior, sincerity, missionary, good intentions BUT his conscious and the Holy Spirit clearly would not give him peace.

II. What is an “altogether Christian?”

A. The love of (for) God.

1. Matthew 22:26 – 28

a. Engrosses the whole heart, fulls the entire capacity of the soul.

b. It is displayed in joy and delight.

c. It is displayed in thankfulness.

2. “Crucified”

a. “Crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him.”

b. Crucified the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life.

B. The love of (for) our neighbor.

1. Matthew 22:39

2. Reflection of our love for God.

C. Faith

1. Repentance leads to love leads to good works.

2. Trust and confidence to be saved from eternal damnation by Christ.

3. Purifies the heart.

a. From all unrighteousness.

b. Brings a love that is stronger than death... for God... and people.

III. The question for us.

A. “Are you “almost” or “altogether” Christian?”

1. Is it just the outside that is Christian?

2. Are you motivated by things other than love?

B. “Are you conscious, that you never came thus far?”

1. “You have never intended to devote all your words, works, studies, business, entertainment, to God’s glory?”

2. “You have never desired to be a living sacrifice?”

C. “Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?”

1. “Do you desire nothing but Him?”

2. “Is He your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing?”

Friday, February 18, 2011

The unloved wife

Genesis 29:31 – 35
The unloved wife

A. Disturbing theological and moral things:

1. Two wives...

a. There is no Scripture guidance into how many wives a man may have.

b. However:

“The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” [Genesis 2:18 NIV]

“Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife...” [1 Timothy 3:2a also see 1 Timothy 3:12, Titus 1:6 NIV]

c. If you use example [Peter, Priscilla and Aquila, and others] then you also have to consider Abraham, Jacob, Moses, etc...

2. Married sisters...

“Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.” [Leviticus 18:18] (Jacob lived long before the Law was given, but I wonder if the social norms were not already in place.)

3. God takes Leah’s side when God did the same thing...


"I have loved you," says the LORD. "But you ask, `How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau”
Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, [3] but Esau I have hated...” [Malachi 1:2 – 3a NIV]

“Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” [Romans 9:13 NIV]

***** BOTH are in context to nations NOT individuals. Jacob represents of Israel and Esau represents Edom. *****

B. Leah’s plight:

“When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” [Genesis 29:31 ESV] (ASV, RSV, KJV)

The NIV says, “Leah was not loved”

The CEV says, “Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Leah”

The Geneva (before the KJV) says, “Leah was despised”

1. Think about how this marriage came to be...

a. Jacob loved Rachel, it was “love at first sight.” What could be more romantic?

b. Jacob agreed to work for SEVEN years for Rachel... aaawwwww.

c. Uncle Laban TRICKED Jacob into marrying Leah. (How can you be that drunk?)

d. Jacob then agreed to work ANOTHER seven years for Rachael...

Rachel was wanted... 14 years of hard work to get her. Leah was part of him getting conned.

2. With two wife and two concubines a “baby race” was started...

a. God took Leah’s side... [v 31] “He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”

b. Situation:

1.) Jealousy between the wives.

2.) Unchecked sexual appetite from Jacob (sexual relations with four women at the same time).

3.) The playing of favorites (which Jacob learned from his parents).

Wesley – “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated - That is, loved less than Rachel, ... the Lord granted her a child, which was a rebuke to Jacob for making so great a difference between those he was equally related to; a check to Rachel, who, perhaps insulted over her sister upon that account; and a comfort to Leah, that she might not be overwhelmed with the contempt put upon her.”

C. Universal husband – wife problem:

1. “The unloved wife.”

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” [Ephesians 5:25]

a. We “love” what we value...

b. Who/what we love becomes our priority, passion, and possibly obsession.

2. “The disrespected husband”

a. Contempt is THE major relationship killer. (It is “almost” impossible to recover from contempt...)

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” [Ephesians 5:33]

b. A lack of "respect" means “contempt” (Oxford University Press) and comes from:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:22]

3. What is missing:

a. Wives need their husband’s love AND husbands need their wives’ respect or the relationship breaks down into an ugly spiral that increases the lack of love and lack of respect to the point were one, if not both, check out of the relationship (in some way).

b. There is a very real sense of MUTUAL submission required!

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” [Ephesians 5:21]

Or as the CEV puts it: “Honor Christ and put others first.”

D. Leah’s journey and solution:

1. She had four children... each had a different meaning.

a. [v 32] Reuben... (lit. “see a son”) “now my husband will love me.”

b. [v 33] Simon... (lit. “hearing”) “the LORD has heard I am hated.”

c. [v 34] Levi... (lit. “attached”) “this time my husband will be attached to me.”

d. [v 35] Judah... (lit. “celebrated”) “this time I will praise the Lord.”

2. What this means:

a. She starts with the desperate need of having Jacob love her.

b. She becomes bitter because her husband will not respond.

c. She gives up trying. The best she hopes for is “attachment.”


d. She praises God... something has changed.

1.) She has either become loved by her husband OR

2.) She has found her self-worth in God OR

3.) Both...

3. Jacob chose to buried with Leah... in their ancestral tomb.

“Then he commanded them and said to them, "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, [30] in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. [31] There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.” [Genesis 49:29 – 31]

Conclusion:

1. Maybe our problem is that we depend to much on the other person for our emotional well being... (respect, love)

2. Since our emotional well being is rooted in the need to understand our relationship in terms of “love” we enter unhealthy downward spirals.

3. Leah’s lesson is to ground our self-worth and being in God, not others (husband, wife, children, work, church, etc...)

4. That frees us to fulfill our side of what is necessary in the relationship.

5. Result: the probability that the other person(s) will fulfill their responsibilities!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Christians can get saved

Romans 10:9 – 10

How Christians can get saved

“Jesus is Lord”

1. Jews understood “Lord” to mean “God.” (The Jews substituted the word “Lord” for the sacred name of God, in an effort to not use the name in vain, break the 3rd commandment.)

2. Romans understood “Lord” as referring to Caesar (proclaiming him to be a god)... this formula became a test of loyalty when Caesar issued “license” to be Christian. To obtain a license one had to swear an oath to the Roman “gods” and offer a sacrifice OR declares “Caesar is Lord.”

3. Political understanding: Declaring “Jesus is Lord” meant to make Jesus your ruler (King). As a counter measure against the Jewish leaders’ declaration “We have no king but Caesar.”

4. Ethical understanding: “Jesus is Lord” meant that Jesus controls your life... daily.

“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.” [1 Corinthians 12:3]

“So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:10 – 11]

“[Confess] denotes a public declaration or assent.” (Barnes)

The Greek word translated “confess” emphasizes saying the exact words: “Jesus is Lord.”

1. Not magic... instead it is a test.

2. Saying something publicly, “going on the record” is important.

CNN (the guy that took over the “Larry King Show”) asked Joel Osteen if he thought homosexuality was a sin. Rev. Osteen said “yes” because “that’s what the Bible said.” The questioner then noted this was the first time Osteen had taken a public stand on “sin.”

The prediction is this will dramatically change Osteen’s image of being “soft” on “hard” issues and his reputation for avoiding answering theological questions and concerns.


“Believe in your heart” (Heart = thoughts and feelings... the place choices are made)

1. Specifically the resurrection... why?

“(Jesus) was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 1:4]

a. Jesus’ life and death are implied in His resurrection.

b. “Christ” meant “anointed one.” This was the Greek word for “Messiah.”

c. Nothing of what Jesus said and did is significant without the resurrection!

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, ... [12] Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? [13] But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. [14] And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” [1 Corinthians 15:3 – 4, 12 – 14]

2. Believe means to place confidence in... or “trust”... or “depend.”

a. Different ways to believe (something that doesn’t make a difference, something that effects us, or something that changes everything)

b. (Ill. of transferring our weight from our feet to the pew...) EXCLUSIVE!

It is with belief... in the heart... that we are “justified” (“made right” which is a legal term)

Why is this important?

1. The Jews worked out their own religious practices based on their traditions and religious teachers.

“For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.” [Romans 10:3]

3. They depended on “the merit of their works, and by their observance of the ceremonial law.” [Matthew Henry]


4. “The moral law was but for the searching of the wound, the ceremonial law for the shadowing forth of the remedy but Christ is the end of both.” {Matthew Henry)

5. The Jewish system of the Law said, “do and live.” Sacraments replaced truth, enthusiasm replaced knowledge, membership replaced salvation.

6. The Christian system of Grace makes the same error... it creates opposite and equal imbalances. Truth replaces obedience, holiness replaces truth, and enthusiasm replaces responsibility.

7. Both leave out the confession (and outward expression of an inward reality) with the mouth... “Jesus is Lord.”

Notice there are TWO different words for “saved” in the Greek text... They are distinguished by the verb tenses in the English translations.

[v 9] “you will be saved” (sozo – save, as in to deliver/heal)

[v 10] “is saved” (soteria – rescue)

The first is a promise that will one day be fulfilled the second is the present benefit of that promise. In other words we say “Jesus is Lord” to acquire salvation, not as a result of salvation.

“The moment a sinner believes, therefore, he is justified; his sins are pardoned; and he is introduced into the favor of God.” (Barnes)

“Confession or profession is so made as to obtain salvation.” (Barnes)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Jesus on money

Jesus: on money

I. Where’s the heart? [Matthew 6:19 – 21, 24]

A. Two proverbs.

1. (v 21) Treasure = heart

a. What you value is what you choose.

b. What you choose demonstrates what you value.

DANGER… we can be ruined by earthly things and jeopardize the soul.

2. (v 24) It’s God v Money

a. What you value will be your Master. (It is the desire, craving, pursuit of that can be the danger… not the actual money)

b. The heart designed for God is degraded by being fixed on corruptible things (see Clarke)

DANGER… “proairisus” (disposition and choices). Money corrupts the dispositions and clouds the choices. The effect is to increase our sin sickness.

RESULT: We choose the temporary instead of training for the “long view.”

B. The lesson:

1. Your “treasure” determines your “happiness.”

2. (vv 33 – 34) The issue becomes worry (“anxiety”)

BONUS: Luke 16:14… Pharisee’s “loved money” so when He said this they “sneered” at Jesus. They showed contempt, and contempt is a relationship “killer.”

Luke 16:15b “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (The word “detestable” is related to idol worship.)

II. Where’s the soul? [Luke 9:23 – 25]

A. Following Jesus means right priorities.

1. (v 23) “deny himself” = “cross”

2. (v 24) This is an upside-down paradox (“life” is the Greek word for “soul”)

3. Surrender to God the will, passions, body and soul OR lose/forfeit (Greek “throw away”) the soul.

B. A cautionary tale: [Luke 12:16 – 21]

1. A man who acts “normally.”

a. Good crops, expanding business, bigger barns!

b. Enjoy life.

2. What’s the problem?

a. God calls him a “fool” (Greek means “senseless.” Why? Vv 17 – 19 he refers to himself seven times, refers to God or others zero times.)

b. Behavior… lays up treasure for himself in this world.

BONUS: (v 19) he thinks “many years.” (v 20) God thinks “this night.”

“The soul cannot be satisfied with earthly goods.” (Wesley)

***** Life must be lived in light of eternity… as if it were your last day. Wealth can blind us and keep us from being prepared. *****

III. Where’s the reward? [Mark 12:41 – 44]

A. The story of a simple offering.

1. Rich = large amounts

2. Poor widow = two very small copper coins

3. Jesus is noticing HOW (in what way) they give:

a. Rich: giving not discreet.

b. Poor: ashamed, intimidated.

History: In the temple “treasury” there were 13 “trumpets” (offering containers). They were narrow at the top (mouth) and wide at the bottom. Nine were marked for tithes and other obligations. Four were for voluntary gifts. [source: Edersheim, “The Temple”]

B. What our English translations don’t tell us:

1. “Money” was specifically COPPER coins.

2. The rich were not throwing in bags of gold! They were giving pennies when they could afford gold.

DOUBLE BONUS:

1. Generosity is an act of worship. (Ill. When we were in the Philippines… Pastor Allan took an offering from what we would consider “poor” pastors after an emotional time of worship. I asked him afterwards why…. He said, “Because you can’t have worship without an offering!” He was right… Unless we worship God with everything, including our earthly possessions, then we are not truly worshiping God.)

2. Who did Jesus praise? Think about it… poor, maybe intimidated, trying to “fly under the radar.” Jesus points her out NOT for embarrassment but to demonstrate her love (worship) and her faith (dependence on God).

Questions:

1. Who’s praise do you want? People’s now or God’s for eternity?

2. If you could see Jesus “looking over your shoulder” as you gave your offering, would you have given differently?