WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Our Holy War – 8/13/2017


Psalm 12:1-4 (NIV)
Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
    they flatter with their lips
    but harbor deception in their hearts.
May the Lord silence all flattering lips
    and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
    “By our tongues we will prevail;
    our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

I want to make a comment on Man’s cry for justice because it’s something that everyone of us has done before.  We’ve all cried out, at one time or another, for justice: to our parents, to our teachers, to our friends, family, the countless service operators at the cable or cell phone companies, and anyone else who might listen.  When that internal justice meter in our souls tell us that we’ve not been treated fairly, we raise up the banner of holy-hell and we begin a battle to demand justice.  We may have even asked God to mitigate that justice as well.

While it may be true that we have been wronged, there is a reality that we need to take a breath and inspect ourselves when we call upon God to go to bat for us.

In Isaiah 58 the Israelites were constantly calling on God for justice but nothing they did seemed to get through to Him.  They wondered what the deal was, why God was not responding to all of their churchy and religious actions.  I add the text to Isaiah 58:2-9 here because; well because it is just so priceless.

For day after day they [the Israelites] seek me [God] out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,

    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

What we need to pay attention to is if we are calling to God for justice on our behalves, are we also giving justice to those around us?  This may very well be the original Pay-it-Forward human effort.

At the end of the day, God’s true justice is not just for me[1], but it’s for us.  It was for the sake of Justice that Jesus went to the cross (Isa 42:1)[2], and he said that if we would be his disciple that we would pick up our crosses daily and follow him (Matthew 16:24)[3].

[1] Me stating this did not cause me to give Verizon a pass.  For the record, I will never do business with Verizon again.
[2] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+42%3A1&version=NIV
[3] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+16%3A24&version=KJV

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What Gives You Value? – 8/6/2017


Genesis 1:26-31

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis explains to us that God created the heavens and the earth and everything else – even mankind.  And behold, God found it to be very good.  God created the heavens and the earth exnilo which means He created it from nothing at all. 

In my family there are two ways to bake a cake.  Way number one is to buy a Bette Crocker cake mix and add the egg and oil then bake it for 30 minutes - done.  The second way is to make it from scratch; this is where you get raw flour, add baking powder, salt, vanilla or chocolate flavorings, eggs, and oil and mix it with beaters then bake it.  Generally I use a cake mix but it’s always a treat when my mother or grandmother would bake a cake from scratch.

But how does one bake a cake from exnilo?  Mustn’t we get the ingredients from someplace?  In fact we do, so it is impossible to bake a cake from nothing – exnilo.

Then we look to the creation of man.  Man was created, not exnilo, but from scratch.  For we men were created from the elements of the earth and so it is said that after we die, it is back to the earth we will go.

Neil Anderson is a missionary with the Wycliffe Bible translators who translated the Bible into the language of the Folopa tribe in Papua New Guinea.  Neil explained that the Folopa people had no concept of how they came to exist and when he translated the first couple of chapters of Genesis with them they were amazed to learn that they were created of the earth directly by God Himself.  And this revelation changed the way they conducted themselves and how they viewed themselves in the world.  However, the biggest and most drastic change came in their view of the females among them.

The women in the Folopa tribe were somewhat considered a different species from the men and they acted and were treated as such.  But when the Folopa people learned that God created man from the earth and then created women from the rib of a man they changed.  The men recognized that the women were not another species but were extensions of themselves and when the women learned they were intentionally created by God they realized their value and began to walk with dignity; for they finally understood that they had value among the men and this new found value for both men and women transformed the entire community.

Many people today consider themselves to be valuable by what they are able to earn or do in this world, but the reality is that each person has value simply because they have been intentionally created by scratch by God.

Do you know your value today?  If not, maybe you need a refresher course in Genesis 1 and 2 so that you will know that you are the intentional creation of God.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

When He Came – 7/30/2017


John 16:8-11 (ESV)
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Jesus told his disciples that the world is wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment, and that the coming of the Holy Spirit would convict the world of its error. 

Concerning sin…

Jesus here tells us that it is the Holy Spirit that will convict the world of its sin.  Of course Christians need to inform the world of God’s word and what sin actually is, but too often the Christian speaks to the sinner with disdain and a sneer seemingly to get the worldly one to convert to faith right then and there.  And while I cannot claim that many have not had a genuine conversion to faith in this manner, I still don’t think it’s my job to attempt to convict people of sin—because frankly, the Holy Spirit is a much more compassionate convector of sin that I am.

So how is the world wrong about sin?  Simply, according to verse 9, anything that attempts to deal with sin without Jesus is incorrect.

Our world is full of the attempt to get to heaven without Jesus, it rejects the words of our Lord from John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me – as too exclusive and not encompassing enough.  But I have never done a funeral where the loving family didn’t expect that their loved one was enjoying the fruits of God’s Glory even though they knew well enough that the person was not a follower of Jesus.  The world is wrong about sin, when it doesn’t consider itself as sinful and Jesus as sin’s only solution. 

It’s often the case that we preachers feel like we are the ones who need to convict people of sin by our many words rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to use our simple proclamation of Christ to convict the sinner.  Remember, verse 8 informs us that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to convict the world concerning sin; not the Christian.

Concerning righteousness…

In verse 10 Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world concerning righteousness because He goes to the Father and the world can no longer see Him.

Too often we look to what we can see and observe in order to determine our own righteousness.  We look to whether we are obeying the laws, following the rules, or doing what is moral and right in order to determine if we are righteous or not.  This however, is the wrong standard of righteousness.  The correct standard of righteousness is not observable by sight or sound or any other standard of physical measure.  The correct standard is that of faith: faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ upon the cross.

2 Corinthians 5
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The Holy Spirit will have fully convicted us concerning righteousness when we understand that the righteousness of God is not what we do (or don’t do) but what Jesus Christ has already done for us when He died on the Cross; the righteousness of God is not determined from what we can observe from our own actions, but must be believed by faith alone in Him who is not seen.

Hebrews 11:16
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Concerning judgement…

Finally the world will be convicted concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.

John 12:31
31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

The world is obsessed with the future judgment of God upon the world.  We talk of the Judgment Day, when Christ will come and judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5). But the good news is that satan has already been found guilty and sin and death defeated when the Christ died on the Cross.  Too many of us trudge along each day waiting for The Day to come, when in fact no judgment need yet come.

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

When the world is convinced that the judgment of the devil is a present reality, then it will rejoice in the Victory of Jesus.

And so it is that when the Holy Spirit came, He came to convict us concerning the truth about sin, righteousness, and judgement.  Have we been convicted concerning these things?  If you have not, please be sure to seek the wisdom of Christ by asking the Holy Spirit to convict you of such things right now. 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC37VXrVNjE

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Your Righteousness – 7/23/2017


We desire that God is happy with us, but too often we don’t believe that He is.  We look to the many sins in our lives, the many failures, the many times that we did not act as we should in certain situations, and we become unhappy with ourselves.  And since we are unhappy with our own performances it is easy to visualize God as unhappy with us too. 

But we have it wrong.

Isaiah 51:1

1“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
    and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
    and to the quarry from which you were hewn;

Isaiah was talking to the Children of Israel who had been exiled and were in the shackles of the Babylonian empire.  They desired God and His righteousness but the prison they were in made it seem impossible for them to achieve this goal.

We may or may not be in literal captivity but we are all prisoners of our minds.  Our sins have separated us from God and we want to be right in His sight, but we keep looking to ourselves, our own actions, and our own performance to make us feel like we are making God happy.  And as we do we recognize that we cannot achieve this feeling for long because we find ourselves right back to where we began – feeling far from God.

But Isaiah tells us to look to the Rock from which we were cut and the quarry from which we were hewn.

We prisoners tend to look at our present circumstances or environments in order to feel righteous, but Isaiah informs us that the trick is to not look toward ourselves, but to look at Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

You see, one of the biggest lies that the devil can have you believe is the self-help lie that “you can do it”, but the reality is that when it comes to pleasing God you cannot.  Only Jesus can satiate God’s desire for Holiness and we must accept and receive the gift that Christ gives to us – His Spirit.

John 16:8-11

When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

The truth of the matter is, as long as you focus on your own circumstances, your own situations, and your own best efforts, you will always find righteousness will elude you as well as God’s warm embrace.  But when you learn that you are righteous by faith in Christ alone then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

Do you seek God’s approval today?  Then look to Jesus for He is the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—