Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wow and Woe of Worship

Please note this is part of the series “The Power of the Cross” which can be obtained free from CTA.

(The outline is mine.)

Luke 5:1 – 11

The Wow and Woe of Worship

Imagine the sights and sounds of what is happening in this story. The sounds of the water as it splashes on a beach. The smell of old boats and nets being washed. Watch the exhausted fishermen, backs bent with the disappointment of a fish-less night.

Into all of this steps Jesus and interrupts a perfectly good pity party.

A. Personal disappointment and perceived failure are God’s interruptions.

1. Fishing then was strenuous...

a. It involved boats, casting heavy wet nets, serious competition with others.

b. It involved “toiled all night” [v 5] and high maintenance “washing their nets.” [v 2]

c. This was commercial fishing... so if no fish, no pay.... no food.

2. Personal disappointment and perceived failure are times when God has our attention.

a. Jesus just gets in the boat... doesn’t ask permission.

b. Personal reflection on my disappointment over “alter calls” here.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, [29] for our "God is a consuming fire.” [Hebrews 12:28 – 29]

B. When God interrupts our lives, God is requiring a response.

1. [v 3c] “And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”

a. Peter hears what Jesus is saying.

b. Some bond of trust must have developed in listening to Jesus because he is willing to “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” [v 4]

2. Peter’s response: we are tired, we came back empty, BUT...

a. KJV: “Nevertheless.” Peter is willing to do this because Jesus told him to do it.

b. This is a huge act of faith.

3. But Jesus does something special that gets Peter’s attention.

a. Jesus almost breaks the nets and sinks the boat. [vv 6 – 7]

b. This is the “moment of wow” were Peter is amazed, immediately followed by a “moment of woe” when Peter confesses his sinfulness.

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [v 8b ESV]

C. This seems to be the pattern when God shows up.

1. Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” [NIV]

a. The word “woe” is a “passionate cry of grief or despair” [Brown-Driver-Briggs]

b. It is the word use to signify being under God’s curse.

2. Here is a holy God, showing up in His glory... verses an unholy human.

a. Doesn’t matter who you are: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 2:23 NIV]

b. That is the “moment of woe.” That point were we, looking at the cross, realize what our sins cost Jesus.

Imagine if you were swamped with the memory and realization of every sin you have committed. Your reaction would be the same as Isaiah’s and Peter’s: overwhelming guilt and enormous fear.

3. Why?

a. Because you have been in contact with a holy God.

b. BOTH Peter and Isaiah met God in the everyday ordinary grind of life. FACT: God is found in all things as all times.

c. And that requires a response.

D. The purity of God’s holiness and the dirt of our sinfulness and up to “grace.”

1. Jesus got Peter’s attention with a “wow.” Peter made the leap to “woe.” But Jesus was not finished there.

a. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” [v 10b ESV]

b. Wow to woe to wow.

2. What is the effect of what is happening?

a. When we humble ourselves and confess our sin... we are cleansed.

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

b. We are then commissioned by God.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1:8 ESV]

c. Then we are irreversibly changed.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” [Romans 12:1 – 2]

3. Maybe we do not respond to God because:

a. We don’t want anyone to know we are in need of forgiveness. (“Duh”)

b. We are afraid to say yes to anything/everything God asks of us. (Such as being His witnesses.)

c. We are not willing to be transformed... we are comfortable with the status quo...


1. Come to the alter and experience the woe of your condition.

2. Commit yourself as a “living sacrifice” and experience the wow of God’s wonderful grace.

3. Compelled by a joy that overshadows all sorrows and fear, live out God’s wonderful grace for all to see!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Come to the Cross

2 Corinthians 5:14 – 17

Come to the Cross

First of our Lent series “Power of the Cross.”

Devotions this week.. At the cross Jesus became the means by which God removed our sins and renewed our hope. It is my hope that we come to the Cross this Lenten season and find in Jesus death and resurrection the blood, that removes our sins. And as we gaze at the cross, we will see it’s shadow point to slightly used, yet empty, tomb and renew our hope.

And God has planted the Cross squarely in the center of His grace towards us.... Demonstrating without question His love for us... This morning, inviting us on a journey towards that Cross and our Savior.

Why is this so important?

I. The cross commands our attention.

A. [v 14] The compelling love of Christ for us.

1. Sacrifice for another is the highest honor anyone can achieve.

a. Jesus... God the son... left heaven to be one of us.

“ HEB 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death‑‑that is, the devil‑‑ [15] and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. [16] For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. [17] For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. [18] Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” [Hebrews 2:14 – 18]

b. We cannot underestimate the ways Jesus shared our humanity because that sharing was the key to Him destroying the devil and his works AND freeing us on the Cross.

2. As we look at the cross we understand Jesus died in our place; the just for the unjust.

a. Our sins required justice... someone had to pay the price.

b. However, the sacrifice had to be a “perfect, spotless, sinless” one.

B. We are compelled into relationship with God and the ones God loves.

1. To God because of the debt of love.

2. To the church (collection of those who trust only in what Jesus has done on the cross for their salvation).

3. To the world, as God extends His mercy and grace through us to those who are dying and going to eternal hell BECAUSE they have yet to come to the Cross.

The word “controls” or NIV “compels” is a military image of a band of soldiers fighting as a unit together under a banner. “His banner over us is love.” That love of God and for God drives our lives, directs our steps, and delivers us sin.

II. The cross obliges our affections.

A. [v 14] We have concluded... with certainty of the fact of Christ’s death for us.

1. This conclusion leads us to the duty of no longer living for ourselves [v 15]

a. Problem: We are very self centered. One philosopher (Kant) accused humans as acting selfishly in everything we do.

b. Problem: Our very culture is founded on the “everyone for themself” principle. (Struggle between selfishness and the looters that would take our stuff and “redistribute the wealth.”

2. The thing is we are not to live for ourselves or others... “BUT FOR HIM.”

a. We are obliged to either pay the dead own to sin (“wages of sin”) or the debt of love owed to God.

b. Here’s the deal:

1.) Sin leads to pain, chaos, and misery before death and Hell.

2.) Love leads to joy, peace, and goodness (to mention a few).

B. Why is this so?

1. On the Cross Jesus “redeemed” us.

a. Paul speak for every human when he claimed:

“ I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.” [Romans 7:14b]

b. Redeemed means “to buy back.”

“...Jesus Christ [14] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” [Titus 2:14]

2. That means:

a. “You are not your own” [1 Corinthians 6:18c]

b. “you were bought at a price.” [1 Corinthians 6:19a]

(Ill. When you were married... you exchanged singleness for unity. When you take a job you exchange your time, creativity, and energy for a pay check. When you get a license you exchange being prohibited for responsible use.)

III. The cross moves our actions.

A. The Cross brings conviction which moves us to action.

1. What you do is based on what you believe. What you believe drives what you do.

a. If you find yourself standing on the road with a large truck speeding towards you... what will you do?

b. It depends on what you believe... (notice the outcome doesn’t depend on what you believe... your actions depend on what you believe).

2. What conviction do we have?

a. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” [Romans 5:6]

b. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]

B. What does this do?

1. When our orientation to God changes... our orientation to others changes.

2. If we were once wrong about God... then we were also wrong about others.

IV. The cross exchanges our asphyxiating lifestyle for the free breath of life.

(“Once I used to exist, now, I’m alive!”)

A. The power of the Cross is only effective for those “in Christ.”

1. [v 17] There is the invitation: “If anyone...”

a. “Limited time offer!”

Maybe today is your last day.

Maybe this is the last time you will be sensitive enough to hear God call your name.

(Ill. Wesley... the person who is waking up... can decide to wake up or go back to sleep.)

b. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” [Hebrews 4:7b]

Trouble is each time you walk away from God... you make it harder the next time.

Saying no becomes a habit... it sets the heart against responding to God... it hardens your heart.

2. It is a choice... “to be or not to be, that is the question.”

B. What difference will it make?

1. The “old” that is slowly suffocating those without Christ.

a,. We are drowning in our sin, our pull toward sin, and all the illusion of freedom it gives us.

b. We suffocate under the burden of what our sins cost us.

“Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. [3] 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.” [Psalm 32:2 – 4]

2. The new is life!

a. Think of it: Starting over and being clean before God.

b. The joy of the possibility: to live and not just exist.