WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Do You Worry? - 2/26/2017


Matthew 6:25

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?"

Chapter 6 is a whole piece of our Lord’s teaching.  The passage above uses the word “therefore” which is a dead giveaway that there was a precedent to what he is saying now.

Matthew 6:19

"19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal."

Matthew 6:19 is the precedent to verse 25.  But, even it is not the beginning of the message.  Too often we act like it is a teaching all on its one.  But even this has a precedent which began in verse #1 which begins a teaching about true righteousness.

And again, the whole of chapter 6 was preceded by chapter 5 which is the beginning of this particular teaching of Jesus.  However, chapter 6 changes as chapter 5 was about the common person who desired righteousness, and chapter 6 is specifically about practicing righteous acts.  

Matthew 6:1-18 covers three large acts of righteousness: giving, prayer, and fasting.  The main teachings are to do these acts of righteousness without drawing attention to ourselves like the Pharisees (those considered righteous) do.

So verse 19 begins by telling us to not do our righteous acts in order to be seen by people because this is a physical earthly reward, and it’s as feeble and fleeting as the other physical treasures earth has to offer.  Instead, (vs. 25) Jesus teaches I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

It would be easy to make a sermon about Matt. 6:25, and following, political.  In today’s political environment people are concerned, and wringing their hands over it, but read chapter 6 all the way through and we can see that Jesus is not teaching about Rome, he’s teaching about us caring for our fellow man and our own acts of righteousness before God.

Jesus teaching in chapter 6[1] is in the beginning of his journey to the cross where he showed us specifically the cost of righteousness and the provision of God.  Read through Chapter 6 and discover that this passage is about you as Matthew takes us with Jesus to the death of the cross and the life of the resurrected.

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Are you really Depending on the Blood? - 2/18/2017


Ephesians 1:7-8a

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.

The biggest difference between world religions (even some “Christian” denominations) and true Christianity is how redemption is acquired.  

For world religions (and even some denominations) redemption is earned.  Either by doing some form of good works, penance, or sacred ceremony, a person is said to be redeemed from their sin or transgression.  However, the Christian faith is not like this because the redeemed person is redeemed because of God.  Ephesians 1:7 states it clearly, “we have redemption through his blood.” 
“Redemption through his blood” means exactly that, it is the blood of Jesus that redeems us.  And why not?  God is certainly able to offer such an extravagant grace to us.

God is Immutable

Immutable means that God is perfect, nothing can be change about God to make him any better than he already is.  This is like a bucket filled with water, the very moment the water is at the brim and can’t hold another drop without dripping over the edge, it is immutable.

God is Holy

Holy means separate from sin; God is altogether not like you and me, where you and I tolerate, accept, and even enjoy sin, God does not.  It is God’s holiness that gives him the ability to cure the sin in us.  God is the surgeon (so to speak) who will remove our appendix, but we keep trying to do it ourselves.

God is Love

Love has a few different meanings.  You can love like I love Thai food, or you can love like I love my mother, or you can love like I love my wife, or you can love like the soldier who threw himself on the grenade to save his fellow soldiers.  This last kind of love is what God is; his love is sacrificial to the core.  And his being love is practically displayed the Passion and redemption is achieved through the Cross.

The holy, immutable blood that flowed down the cross showed his true being for mankind because his blood redeemed us from the natural consequence of sin; we’ve been given a great and incredible grace.  And despite this, most religions in the world are literally hell-bent trying to convince us that we can redeem ourselves if we just do or say the right things.

So how about it, are you doing your best to redeem yourself, or are you depending on the riches of his grace?

I hope I’ll see you at the cross.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

It's Foolishness - 2/12/2017

Matthew chapter 5 is about Jesus doing some major correcting to the broken Jewish system, with Jesus telling the people what they already thought they knew and then informing them about how it  really was.

His words were comforting to the people the religious system had victimized and called unclean.   

Jesus led his band of misfits and derelicts (his disciples) for three years until one night He was charged with blasphemy, arrested, and sentenced to death upon a Roman Cross.  They drove spikes into his hands and feet and watched him bleed and suffocate to death; and he willingly died this way so that you and I did not need to.  

On that cross, Jesus paid the price that God demands of our sins, and on the third day he rose again proving himself victorious.  He offers you this grace of forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[a]
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Are you downtrodden, poor and needy today?  I invite you to follow Jesus to the Cross because it is there where genuine love is found.

I do pray that I'll see you there.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Cross for You - 2/5/2017


Last week I asked the question of people about why we they thought we exist, or why they thought they were born.  I asked this of the people I serve in the nursing homes and one gentleman, in particular, spoke up and said, “I believe that I was born in a cycle of reincarnation so that I can balance my virtues throughout my many lives.”

I’ve heard this eastern sentiment before, so I wasn’t shocked by it.  My response was kind and gracious when I replied that his belief wasn’t Christian, but if that’s what he wanted to believe then, ‘good luck with that’. 

In light of this response though, I want to consider the absolute centrality of the Cross in the Christian faith.  There are a thousand things in the world of Christianity that is centralized in our minds and dogmas such as,

The Sovereignty of God [1]
The Holiness of God [2]
The Trinity of God [3]
The Omniscience of God [4]
The Omnipotence of God [5]
The Justice of God [6]
The Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit
Theocentricity [7]
Christocentricity [8]
Phuemocentrcity [9]

The list could go on, but you get the point.   Of all the things that are centralized by us and our churches, the Cross of Christ is, for me, the paramount.  With the context of reincarnation, I consider the Cross.

The Cross eliminates the need for the cosmic balancing; that’s where the idea of justification comes in.  Justification is an accounting term which is used when balancing the books; making the Assets - the Liabilities = the Equity.  The Cross of Christ is that single moment in all of human history, since the Fall of Adam & Eve, that humanity has actually been balanced.  With the accounting word Justified, it means it is JUST as IF I’D never sinned.  (Did you see what I did there, kinda cute right?  I didn’t make it up, sorry, I heard it somewhere.)  The Cross was the payment in full for the sin-debt which mankind owed to God.

The point is that the Cross is the Gospel (the good news).  On the Cross, Jesus paid with his life the price for sin and set us free from the obligation to pay it.  This is Grace.  This is the free gift.  This is redemption.

Have you ever received one of those letters from the IRS?  You know, one of those howlers that are loud enough that even your neighbors know you owe the Feds money?  If not, you’ve heard the horror stories right?  When he IRS says that you owe them money, you owe them money – like it or not.  In a way, mankind’s sin-debt to God is what every human owed God since the time of Adam & Eve.  We may not like it, but it doesn’t change anything.  I think this is why they say that there are two things that are sure in this life: death and taxes.

This is why the Cross of Jesus Christ is the centrality of everything, because it is there on the Cross that the cosmic balancing happened.  It is on the Cross that humanity’s sin-debt to was paid in full, and men were redeemed and made free; as free as the Israelite-slaves who left Egypt with Moses through the parted Red Sea were. 

This is why reincarnation isn’t Christian; reincarnation teaches people to believe in their own efforts to clean up and sort out their own virtues.  It ignores the God of Creation’s personal sacrifice of his one and only son, and it does not trust and believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

It’s sad really, the very idea of reincarnation necessarily demands that someone focus on themselves in order to clean up and order their own virtues.  And so for me, the centrality of the Cross in necessary; for it is the reason that anything else even matters.  Only by the Cross is mankind set free from the sin-debt and the never ending cosmic cycle of trying to do it ourselves.  And its only at the Cross that men are truly loved by a personal God who redeems us and sets us free.

Some will never accept it, but for me and my household, we’re going to be at the Cross and I wonder if you wouldn’t like to join us?

1 Corinthians 1:17-18
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

[1] God rules His entire creation, He is absolutely free to do what He knows to be best. God is in control of everything that happens.
[2] God is set apart from all created beings, this refers to His majesty and His perfect moral purity.
[3] The Christian Godhead as one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
[4] Omniscience means all-knowing. God knows everything, and His knowledge is infinite.
[5] Literally this word means all-powerful. Since God is infinite and since He possesses power, He possesses infinite power.
[6] Psa 89:14. Justice and judgement are the habitation of thy throne.' In God, power and justice meet. Power holds the scepter, and justice holds the balance.
[7] Having God, the Father, as the focal point of thoughts, interests, feelings, and doctrines.
[8] Having God, the Son, as the focal point of thoughts, interests, feelings, and doctrines.
[9] Having God, the Holy Spirit, as the focal point of thoughts, interests, feelings, and doctrines.