Saturday, February 15, 2014

John 3:16-17 The Love of God

John 3:16-17
The Love of God

“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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

[Introduction]. Imagine living in a world where there is no God. There would be no qualities, properties, or things commonly associated with God. There would be no joy, no peace, and no love. The Bible tells us clearly, “God is love.” We need to understand a very simple message, “God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21]

I.             Why did God have to send Jesus?

                A.            If we understand the message the Bible correctly something is wrong.
                                1.            In John 3:16 we are led to believe that there are two possible outcomes.
                                                a.            The first outcome is found in the word “parish.”
                                                b.            The second outcome is found in the phrase “eternal life.”
                                2.            In 2nd Corinthians we see the problem is “sin.”
                                                a.            Sin is a technical term, it refers to the general state of  being  separated from God.
                                                b.            Sin is also a reference to the controlling principle of this world.

***Paul often refers to sin has “the law of sin and death.”***

                B.            Not only is something wrong but it is something that we cannot fix ourselves.
                                1.            This was one of the things Jesus came to accomplish.
                                                a.            In John 3:17 we are taught that the world is condemned.
                                                b.            Jesus however intended to do something that would allow the world to be saved through him.
                                2.            This plan was instigated by God the Father.
                                                a.            The plan involved in exchange 2nd Corinthians 5:17 tells us.
                                                b.            God made Jesus legally responsible for our sin so that we could have the legal standing of Jesus’ righteousness.

II.            Why did God send Jesus?

                A.            The answer, according to John 3:16, is both simple and complicated: love
                                1.            God loves us.
                                                a.            A sad reality in today’s world is not everybody wants this love.
                                                b.            We have the tendency to do everything to avoid this love.
                                2.            God’s love is demonstrated by giving Jesus.
                                                a.            John 3:14-15, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
                                                b.            The story comes from one of the rebellions as the children wandered in the desert.
The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” [Numbers 21 7-9]

                B.            Here is a vivid image of the power of sin.
                                1.            God has just delivered them a great victory.
                                                a.            The problem is the people became impatient and started to complain.
                                                b.            The complaint against God and against Moses. They were unhappy with the food, they were insecure about their water supply, and they suggested that they had been brought out of Egypt to die in the wilderness.
                                2.            According to Romans chapter 1, one of the first symptoms is a lack of gratitude.
                                                a.            According to Hebrews 3:19, “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”
                                                b.            At the very core of every action that we call sin is the principle of sin.

III.           Why would God love us?

                A.            First of all God created us.
                                1.            The word of God declares, “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” [Psalm 100:3]
                                                a.            Scripture connects the act of God creating to the act of God’s saving over 90 times.
                                                b.            Simply put God’s act of creation gives them the legal right to claim our love and earn our love.
                                                c.             As one who loves what he is created, he is determined to free us from this curse of sin.
                                2.            The word of God declares, For you created my inmost being;
                                                you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
[Psalm 136:13]
                                                a.            So not only did God make us in the universal sense but he also made us in the very personal sense.
                                                b.            The image of knitting is a very personal hands-on picture. God did not just throw some clay against the wall. Instead he specifically designed each individual person.
                                                c.             In Scripture we are told that this design is in the “image of God.” It is one reason why he takes the destruction of life so personal, why he deplores the abnormal use of our bodies, and why he hates the exploitation of others.

                B.            Second of all God refuses to leave as hopeless.
                                1.            One of the problems of sin is selfishness.
                                                a.            In our selfishness we are willing to destroy others and ourselves.
                                                b.            By God giving his son we see a different model for life.
                                2.            God demonstrated his love in the most amazing selfless act.
                                                a.            Following the image of Moses lifting up a snake in the wilderness, Jesus intended to be “lifted up” on the cross.
                                                b.            Here’s the thing when Moses carried that snake through the camp people could be saved if they would only look to it. In other words they could choose to be.
                                                c.             So it is today. Salvation is offered freely to any who would believe.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Matthew 6:7-13 “Teach Us to Pray”

Matthew 6:7-13
“Teach Us to Pray”

I.             Prayer starts with desire.

                A.            Luke 11:1, “When Jesus had finished praying, one of his disciples said to                                          him,  “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his followers to pray.”
                                1.            This is the only time in the Gospels the disciples asked Jesus to teach     them                                                         anything.
                                2.            If you study Jesus’ prayer life you will be amazed. Many of us to not think about                                                               how dependent Jesus was on prayer.
                B.            Apparently at least one of his disciples, most likely John, asks Jesus specifically to                                         teach them how to pray.
                                1.            We must want to learn to pray.
                                2.            We must be willing to have Jesus teach us.

I I.           Prayer distinguishes the believer.

                A.            “When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think                                               that by saying many words they’ll be heard.” [7]
                                1.            The idea of a flood of empty words is translated “do not keep on babbling like                                                   pagans” in the NIV. The King James Version says “use not vain repetitions.”
                                2.            This goes back to the pagan practice which believes that saying prayers over and                                              over will win the favor of the gods.
                B.            “Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask.” [8]
                                1.            Jesus expects his followers to be different.
                                2.            Christian prayer is different. It is based on relationship to God and his                                                                    knowledge and power.
                                                a.            The concept of God as “Father” is a major change in how we view God.
                                                b.            God as “Father” is a very intimate relationship that is unknown in other                                                                                 religions.

I I I.         Prayer develops deeper relationship with God.

                A.            “Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name.” [9]
                                1.            Some people understand this as worship.
                                2.            Holiness is a main concept about God. We are constantly told by God that he is                                                 holy and because of that we are to be holy.
                B.            Jesus continues, “Bringing in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it is                                    done in heaven.” [10]
                                1.            The reason Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done on earth like it is                                                        done in heaven is because God’s will is not always done on earth.
                                2.            The reality is humans have the ability to resist God’s will. The effect of this                                                          rebellion means that God’s will is not necessarily done on earth.

I V.         Prayer establishes dependency on God.

                A.            “Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,                                   just as we also forgive those who wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but                                  rescue us from the evil one.” [11-13]
                                1.            Jesus taught us to pray for our physical needs.
                                2.            Jesus taught us to pray for our forgiveness.        
                                3.            Jesus taught us to pray for spiritual protection.
                B.            There are several realities that we have to understand in this section.
                                1.            We are dependent on God for our daily food. In a land of plenty this may be                                                      hard for us to understand but it is a reality for much of the world.            
                                2.            When our theology tries to teach us that we are “sinless,” this idea can be                                                           difficult for us to understand.
“If we claim, “we don’t have any sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. If we claim,” we have never sinned,” we make him a liar and his word is not in us.” [1 John 1:8-10]
*****In other words what the Bible is telling us is that no one can claim to be without individual acts of sin. We can however confess those sins. When we do confess them God is both faithful to us and his justice because Jesus has died on the cross to save us from our sins.*****

                                3.            The reality is there is a personal “evil one” that is aggressively seeking to destroy                                              us. Only God can effectively protect us.
                                                a.            It is important for us to understand that God does not lead us into                                                                           temptation.
                                                b.            One idea here is that the word quote temptation unquote is not an                                                                        accurate translation. The Greek term is quote “peirasmos” can mean                                                                     “test of character.”
                                                                1.)           This may be a plea to avoid unpleasant testing. This is different                                                                                 than Judaism of its day that prayed for testing.
                                                                2.)           This may also be a plea to avoid the final end times. The term                                                                                     temptation is connected to the last judgment.
                                                                3.)           Since Jesus did not speak Greek, the Aramaic word most likely                                                                                  used here would have meant “cause us not to enter.” In other                                                                                  words, God is protecting us.

ü  So we begin with desire to pray by learning from Jesus.

ü  We are distinguished from those who do not know God the way we pray.

ü  We develop closer relationship with our Heavenly Father.

ü  And we learn dependence for things that we might not give much thought to such as food, forgiveness, and fighting spiritual forces of darkness.