Archive for the 'My Sermons' Category

Enoch: A Last Days Man

Friday, November 27th, 2009


An Advent Prophetic Word

When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

Gen. 5:21-24 (NLT)

Genesis five shares a short story about a man named Enoch and his unusual and distinctive walk with God. What makes Enoch’s walk powerful was his determination to commune with God no matter how badly the culture around him was morally deteriorating. Like Enoch, the church finds itself in a perilous place: a decadent culture challenging the church to dare live its commitment to Biblical truth (2 Tim. 3:1-5). We like Enoch must be determined in our hearts to walk with God no matter how bad things become.

Many in the church make excuses, “It’s too hard to walk in the Spirit, we just can’t do it in the midst of all these problems.” Yet, the Bible speaks powerfully, “God’s grace is sufficient in all weakness” (2 Cor. 12: 1-10). Grace is available always, in every place, at any time, in the all-sufficient person, Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Imagine, Enoch walked with God never knowing the power of the Cross, no experience of the Holy Spirit, no benefits of the covenant, no grace in the sacraments, no sweetness of fellowship with other believers, no spiritual encouragement through the church, etc., yet he continued in sweet communion with our most loving and gracious God.

No matter how bad our circumstances are, grace is available to respond like Jesus in every life situation (2 Cor. 9:8). Grace is available for all our current circumstances no matter our tight funds, no matter our emotional need, no matter how frustrating our lives: God gives us grace to walk in the Spirit to respond like Jesus in every life situation (Gal. 5:16-26). Our circumstances are never bigger than God’s grace (2 Cor. 12:1-10).

St. Thomas More declared, “The times are never so bad that a good man cannot live in them.” The Apostle Paul reminds us that when sin increases, grace abounds the more (Rom. 5:20).Enoch tapped into that grace and walked with God. To walk with God means to talk with God. Their communion with one another was intimate and personal. Enoch knew God’s heart and God was blessed by his love (John 17:24). The Lord wanted to be with Enoch,”God took him away” (Gen. 5:24), thus the Lord allowed Enoch to by-pass death and brought him straight into his presence.

Not only did Enoch walk with God when all others were rejecting the Lord: he walked intimately and powerfully in constant communication with his heavenly Father (Heb. 11: 5-6). To walk by faith and please God with our attitude means to catch the heartbeat of God by believing and obeying his word not because we ought to, but because we want to. The writer of Hebrews commends Enoch because his heart of faith pleased God (Heb. 11: 5-6). Faith is a gift from God and a choice of our hearts enabling any child of God to believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are faithful, sufficient, and present for every life circumstance. Maintaining faith is a battle of the heart, staying fixed on the goodness and faithfulness of God. Enoch maintained his faith in a culture that had chosen to reject and blaspheme God. In this, Enoch pleased God’s heart. Enoch heard God’s voice thereby knowing God’s heart thereby he was able to share God’s word. Enoch did not hoard God’s word unto himself, Enoch taught God’s heart to a people who were constantly resisting God’s grace. Enoch was willing to share a message that was not going to be heard–a message of judgement:

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Jude 14-15 (NKJV)

By God’s grace, Enoch walked with God, heard his heart, knew his ways, and communicated God’s truth in a decadent and decaying culture.

Three hundred years is a long time. What kept Enoch walking with God for three hundred years? He had an awareness of judgment coming. He had a sensitivity to the ungodliness of the age. And he drew closer to God as the reality of these things pressed in upon him. The way to graph it would be to make a circle, space these three items around the circle, and then show by arrows that each one influenced the other. The more Enoch was aware of the judgment, the more sensitive he was to sin. The more sensitive he was to sin, the closer he wanted to walk with God. The closer he walked with God, the more clearly he saw that judgment was necessary. Or the other way: the more clearly he saw the judgment coming, the closer he wanted to walk with God, and the closer he walked with God the more sensitive he was to ungodliness.

If you keep close to God, you will keep from sin. But if you sin persistently, you will fall away from God. Then you will rename the sin. You will not talk about pride, the great sin; you will call it “self-esteem,” “self-worth,” or what is “due to me.” You will not talk about gluttony and materialism; you will talk about “the good life.” You will not talk about disobedience; you will talk about “shortcomings.” You will not talk about the Ten Commandments and your violation of them; you will talk about your “mistakes.” It is only when you draw close to God that these things will become increasingly sinful in your sight. Only then will they work together to make you a preacher committed to calling men and women to repentance and faith in Christ before the judgment comes.

James Montgomery Boice cited in Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching, 2nd edition (Reformation Trust Publishing, 2008).

We too can trust Christ and find him faithful in the midst of morally decadent culture. First, we walk with God by allowing the prevailing power of the Holy Spirit to subdue our sinful nature. Second, we trust God’s atoning work in Christ that our sin has been forgiven and forgotten. We stop striving in our best efforts to be accepted with God and we trust Christ’s supreme effort as our means to acceptance with God. Third, we abide in constant, conscious presence of Christ. We abide in Christ by holding steady in his presence trusting God’s promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives.

‘And Enoch walked with God’ (Gen. 5:22,24), that is, he kept up and maintained a holy, settled, habitual, though undoubtedly not altogether uninterrupted communion and fellowship with God, in and through Christ Jesus. So that to sum up what has been said . . . walking with God consists especially in the fixed habitual bent of the will for God, in an habitual dependence upon his power and promise, in an habitual voluntary dedication of our all to his glory, in an habitual eyeing of his precept in all we do, and in an habitual complacence in his pleasure in all we suffer.

George Whitefield, Selected Sermons of George Whitefield (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).

Fourth, we are committed to continual growth in the knowledge and love of God (2 Peter 3:18). We commit to grow in Christ by reading his word, praying his will, trusting his promises, receiving his grace in the sacraments, fellowshipping with his servants, and serving his church. God is raising up Last Days Enoch’s who will walk with God in the midst of a hostile, apathetic, and immoral culture.

The Blessed Hope (Sermon Series)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The Second Coming of Jesus

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thess 4:16-17 (ESV)

Sunday at Lamb of God, I began a series of sermons on the Second Coming of Christ. My burden is that our parish would come to experience the pure joy of anticipating Christ’s return. Too often, Second Coming teaching has generated fear and confusion in the church. My desire is to preach Christ and not a theological system. Our focus will not be on the mark of the beast, secret rapture, and/or secular events, but the final triumph of Christ. When Christ appears, he will completely defeat the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. Paul describes the Second Coming as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) not a tormenting fear, or a tragic disaster, or a lost cause, but a blessed hope.

Biblical hope is not a wishful desire, but the confident expectation that the good things that God has promised he will bring to pass. We hope to see Jesus face-to-face. We hope to see loved ones again who have died in Christ. We hope that sickness and suffering will end and death will be no more. This Biblical hope does not disappoint (Rom. 5:5) for one day Christ will appear in the clouds and death will be defeated (1 Cor. 15:25-26) and we will reign with him forever.

Salvation is not a matter that concerns only the destiny of the individual soul. It includes the entire course of human history and mankind as a whole. The coming of Christ is a definitive event for all men; it means either salvation or judgment. Furthermore, salvation is not merely an individual matter; it concerns the whole people of God, and it includes the transformation of the entire physical order.

George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 557.

My message can found at the Lamb of God Charismatic Episcopal Church website for listening or downloading.

When Can Women Teach?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Can Women Teach or Not?

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man;

rather, she is to remain quiet.

1 Tim 2:12-13 (ESV)

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Prov 31:26 (ESV)

Today, I am preparing to preach for this Sunday, Proverbs 31: 10-31 on ‘The Wise Woman.  As I studied Proverbs 31:26, the statement about “teaching” seemed at first glance to contradict the Apostle Paul’s explicit instruction in 1 Timothy 2:12 about women not teaching men. I did some research and found an essay by John Piper and Wayne Grudem which directly addresses this subject with brevity and clarity.

Are You Saying That It Is All Right for Women to Teach Men Under Some Circumstances?

John Piper and Wayne Grudem (edited by David Kotter)

When Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent,” we do not understand him to mean an absolute prohibition of all teaching by women. Paul instructs the older women to “teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women” (Titus 2:3-4), and he commends the teaching that Eunice and Lois gave to their son and grandson Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14). Proverbs praises the ideal wife because “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26). Paul endorses women prophesying in church (1 Corinthians 11:5) and says that men “learn” by such prophesying (1 Corinthians 14:31) and that the members (presumably men and women) should “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). Then, of course, there is Priscilla at Aquila’s side correcting Apollos (Acts 18:26).

It is arbitrary to think that Paul had every form of teaching in mind in 1 Timothy 2:12. Teaching and learning are such broad terms that it is impossible that women not teach men and men not learn from women in some sense. There is a way that nature teaches (1 Corinthians 11:14) and a fig tree teaches (Matthew 24:32) and suffering teaches (Hebrews 5:8) and human behavior teaches (1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 3:1).

If Paul did not have every conceivable form of teaching and learning in mind, what did he mean? Along with the fact that the setting here is the church assembled for prayer and teaching (1 Timothy 2:8-10; 3:15), the best clue is the coupling of “teaching” with “having authority over men.” We would say that the teaching inappropriate for a woman is the teaching of men in settings or ways that dishonor the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership. This primary responsibility is to be carried by the pastors or elders. Therefore we think it is God’s will that only men bear the responsibility for this office.

Jesus Breaks the Glass Ceiling For Women

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Glass ceiling defined is a barrier based on prejudicial attitudes that prevent qualified individuals, especially minorities, from advancing in society.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

John 4:10 (NJJV)

Over the last several weeks, I have been preaching a series of sermons entitled, “Jesus and the Women.” Sunday, August, 23rd, was my last message in this series and I spoke from John 4: The Samaritan Woman. I named that message, “Jesus Breaks the Glass Ceiling for Women.” My sermon is now available at the Lamb of God Charismatic Episcopal Church website. Soon, we will have all the messages from this series available for on-line listening or download.

Barriers Broken: The glass ceiling is shattered by the power of Jesus life, ministry, and teaching.

1. Gender: Male/Female

2. Racial: Jew/Samaritan

3. Ancestry: Jacob/Jewish/Syrian

4. Social Stigma: Immorality/Perfectionism

5. Theology: Mt. Zion/Mt. Gerizim

6. Missions: Adequate Abilities/Inadequate Weaknesses

7. Savior: Jesus/Caesar

8. Salvation for All: Jew/Gentile

Oh No, Not Me! I Didn’t Do It.

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

repentance

The Human Heart (Chapter Ten)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9 KJV).

Our Hearts

Chapter ten of Roy Hession’s’ The Calvary Road addresses the human heart. A heart affected by the Fall is deceitful, conniving, prideful, and defensive (Mark 7:21-22). We protest as innocent when God reveals, convicts, and corrects the foolishness conceived within our hearts. We deny, obfuscate, and protest when our actions manifest our selfishness to others. “How often have not we, too, protested our innocence on the many occasions when God has been convicting others, and when He has wanted to convict us too” (pg. 108). We cover up our sinful struggles assuming that if we do not confess our moral failings, then God will not know about our sinful indiscretions (Ezek. 21:24).

Cover-Up

We do not confess our failures. We worry that if others know, then God will know, how terrible we really are on the inside. We assume that God will reject us if our secret sins are exposed. We avoid being honest with God and ourselves for fear that love and forgiveness will not be found if the true condition of hearts were known. We wrongly assume that God’s love is conditional based on our good behavior. Therefore, we do not call sin, “sin.” We protest our innocence even though we know that our lives do not measure up to God’s holy standards. One more sin, one more failure, one more shortcoming, we cannot and will not admit. Our failures overwhelm us for we did not have the willpower or the energy to fix it (1 John 1:8).

Defensive

God has said that we are self-centered, prideful, and dishonest, yet we continue to defend ourselves. Not only are we dishonest with God, we defend our friends, and loved ones from the Holy Spirit’s conviction as well.

There is yet another error we fall into, when we are not willing to recognize the truth of what God says of the human heart. Not only do we protest our own innocence, but we often protest the innocence of our loved ones. We hate to see them being convicted and humbled and we hasten to defend them. We do not want them to confess anything. We are not only living in a realm of illusion about ourselves, but about them too, and we fear to have it shattered. But we are only defending them against God – making God a liar on their behalf, as we do on our own, and keeping them from entering into blessing, as we do ourselves (pg. 110).

Righteousness of Christ

We assume that our performance of the Christian life is the measure by which God accepts us into his kingdom. We are sure that we have forfeited God’s acceptance by our disobedience. Our hearts condemns us, therefore we assume that we are condemned by God. However, one truth stands forth above all others for us as believers: the only righteousness that exists in our lives is the righteousness of Christ. Christ’s righteousness was imputed (and imparted) to us when we believed that Christ’s terrible death on the Cross was punishment for our sin (Gal. 3:10-14).

Christians are not made righteous by doing righteous things, but being made righteous by faith in Christ, they do righteous things.

[Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, CD-Rom (Simpsonville SC: Christian Classics Foundation, 1996), 3:11.]

The Great Exchange

We received God’s forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness not based on our personal performance, but because of Christ’s beautiful performance on the Cross. This beautiful exchange of my sin for his righteousness is the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21).

The simple truth is that the only beautiful thing about the Christian is Jesus Christ. God wants us to recognize that fact as true in our experience, so that in true brokenness and self-despair we shall allow Jesus Christ to be our righteousness and holiness and all in all – and that is victory (pg. 107).

This wonderful exchanged is the one-sided trade of my sins, inadequacies, and numerous failings for Christ’s forgiveness, life-sufficiency, and overcoming victory. Ultimately, the greatest of all exchanges is Jesus Christ, the one who is fully man and fully God, truly innocent and without sin, taking upon himself at Golgotha all my selfishness, rebellion, brokenness, and hatred by substituting his righteousness, forgiveness, restoration and love. We can live the exchanged life because Christ by his gracious grace made the Great Exchange of my sin for his righteousness on the Cross (Gal. 2:20).

Abundant Grace

Because of the Cross, our lives are lived in a state of grace. We receive all the blessings of Christ’s obedience as if these great acts were our own. Because of grace, the Christian life is not a performance based on moralism and legalism, but a life lived in God’s acceptance.

No one can understand the message of Scripture who does not know the meaning of grace. The God of the Bible is ‘the God of all grace’ (1 Pet. 5:10). Grace is love, but love of a special sort. It is love which stoops and sacrifices and serves, love which is kind to the unkind, and generous to the ungrateful and undeserving. Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor, loving the unlovable, seeking the fugitive, rescuing the hopeless, and lifting the beggar from the dunghill to make him sit among princes.

[John Stott, Understanding the Bible, Revised (London: Scripture Union, 1984), 127.]

Since we are saved by grace and not by our performance, we are now free to be brutally honest with God (Eph. 2:8-9). We can say with David,

Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight, that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest and be clear when Thou judgest” (Psalm 51:4 KJV). Let us not fear then, to make such a confession where God convicts us that we must, thinking that it will “let Jesus down.” Rather the reverse is true, for out of such confession God gets glory, for we declare Him to be right (pg. 112).

The Gospel for Everyday

We learn to apply the gospel not only to my salvation experience, but also to my on-going growth in Christ (Rom. 8:1-4). As Jerry Bridges has noted,

The gospel applied every day to our hearts, frees us to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God. The assurance of His total forgiveness through Christ’s blood means that we don’t have to play defensive games anymore. We don’t have to rationalize and excuse our sins. We can say that we told a lie instead of continuing to blame others for our emotional distress. We can call sin exactly what it is, however ugly and shameful it may be, because we know Jesus bore that sin in His body on the cross. We have no reason to hide from our sins anymore.

[Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day by Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 25.]

Brokenness Though the Cross

Thank God, we know longer have to pretend, cover up or hide from our sins and failures. We no longer have to fake a victory that does not exist. We no longer have to act holy when we know that we are behaving badly. Because of the Cross, we can come to a place of brokenness–a place where all my sins can be washed away by the blood of the Lamb.

A man never comes to this position of brokenness, but God shows him the Divine Lamb on Calvary‘s Cross, putting away his sin by the shedding of His Blood. The God who declares beforehand what we are, provides beforehand for our sin. Jesus was the Lamb slain for our sins from the foundation of the world. In Him, who bore them in meekness, my sins are finished. And as I, in true brokenness, confess them, and put my faith in His Blood, they are cleansed and gone. Peace with God then comes into my heart, fellowship with God is immediately restored, and I walk with Him in white (pg. 113).

With this post, we conclude our study of personal revival as taught by Roy Hession in his classic work, The Calvary Road.

Lose All Your Guilty Stains

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

christ_on_the_cross-400

There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood (Chapter Nine)

The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20 ESV).

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23 ESV).

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

The biggest problem to experiencing personal revival is sin, individual and corporate. My sin and your sin grieve the Holy Spirit and prevent him from blessing our lives and our ministry efforts on his behalf. Our relationship with God remains in tact, but our fellowship with each person of the blessed Trinity suffers. In chapter ten of The Calvary Road, Roy Hession explains the simplicity of “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25) and maintaining on-going fellowship with God:

The message and challenge of Revival, which is coming to many of us these days, is searching in its utter simplicity. It is simply that there is only one thing in the world that can hinder the Christian’s walking in victorious fellowship with God and his being filled with the Holy Spirit – and that is sin in one form or another (pg. 97).

We all sin and we know that our behavior disappoints God and hurts others. I am wrong because I have broken God’s law; my selfish actions have wounded God’s heart and hurt others. Sin turns the world upside down: it says that everyone and everything should revolve around my desires, needs, and wants. My sin is rebellion toward God and unbelief in his plans and purposes. Sin came into the world through Adam’s fall and continues through my willful rebellion and unbelief.

I have failed as a Christian so what do I do? I try harder. No, I look to the same grace that saved me to forgive me. I must remember that I am accepted by God not based my personal performance, but based on Christ’s infinitely beautiful performance on the Cross. “But  if we walk in the light,  as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and  the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7-8 ESV). I run to the blood of Christ to find forgiveness, cleansing, and renewal.

There is only one thing in the world that can cleanse him from sin with all that that means of liberty and victory – and that is the power of the Blood of the Lord Jesus. It is, however, most important for us that we should see what it is that gives the Blood of Christ its mighty power with God on behalf of men, for then we shall understand the conditions on which its full power may be experienced in our lives (pg. 97).

The blood of Christ is clear confirmation that Christ died a sacrificial death to pay for our release from the captivity of sin and bondage to Satan’s schemes. In other words, we owe our salvation to the death of Christ. His blood removes our guilt before God (1 Pet.1:18-19), cleanses ours stricken consciences (Heb. 9:14), gives us bold access to the Father (Heb. 10:19), on-going cleansing from our sin (1 John 1:7) and conquers all of Satan’s accusations (Rev. 12:10-11). We sinned, the penalty of our sin is death, Christ took our place, and died so that we might live. Jesus’ blood condemns death and in that death, the penalty of our sin was paid in full. In short, the blood of Jesus is the virtue of his death for our sins. That virtue continues to flow even after we become Christians.

How many achievements and how many blessings for men the Scripture ascribes to the power of the Blood of the Lord Jesus! By the power of His Blood peace is made between man and God (Col 1:20). By its power there is forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus (Col 1:14; John 6:54). By the power of His Blood Satan is overcome (Rev 12:11). By its power there is continual cleansing from all sin for us (1 John 1:7). By the power of His Blood we may be set free from the tyranny of an evil conscience to serve the living God (Heb 9:14). By its infinite power with God the most unworthy have liberty to enter the Holy of Holies of God’s presence and live there all the day (Heb 10:19) (pg. 98).

How do we experience the full power of the blood of Christ in our lives? Repentance. Repentance is simple, but not easy. It is a change of mind and heart which affects my attitude and alters my conduct. Repentance is not turning inward, but turning around. It is the recognition that God is right and that I am wrong. Repentance renews my fellowship with the Lord that was lost through sin. Repentance opens the door to the forgiveness that was already bought for me on the Cross. Repentance is not trying to get God to forgive, but receiving the forgiveness that Christ released two thousand years ago on Calvary’s hill. That forgiveness, that blood, that joy is flowing, always flowing from Golgotha.

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

Forgiveness is not getting even: it is giving away the right to get even. We have committed grave injustices in the world. In fact, we have acted in such a way that we place ourselves above all others. By our behavior, attitudes, and actions we have turned the world upside down by making ourselves the center of attention instead of God and his glory. When God forgives us, he chooses to forget all the wrongs that we have done to him and all damage that we have done to others. Because of Christ’s awesome and bloody sacrifice, God himself gives away the right to get even with us. Forgiveness is always found in the blood of Christ.

Lord, teach us to run to the foot of the Cross that there we might repent and receive the forgiveness bought for us by the blood of the Lamb.

Doulos: Bond Servant of Our Lord

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

washing-feet

Christ-Centered Servants (Chapter Eight)

Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant . . . (Phil 2:5-7 NIV).

Chapter eight of Roy Hession’s book, The Calvary Road focuses on the meaning of being a bondservant of our Lord and our need for maintaining a Christ-centered servant attitude. A servant is a man or woman who freely and willingly lays down their rights, needs, and desires for the purpose of helping other men and women achieve their hopes and dreams. Christ-centered servants put others first for they trust that Christ can and will meet all their needs and fulfill their heart’s desires (Matt. 6:33). “Our servanthood to the Lord Jesus is to express itself in our servanthood to our fellows” (pg. 91).

Why would anyone want to yield his or her goals for another friend, relative, or even enemy? Our supreme example, Jesus, set aside his status in heaven in order that through his incarnation, death, and resurrection, we could have a relationship with our heavenly Father (Phil. 2:5-7). What motivates servants? Servants are compelled to please their Lord (2 Cor. 5:9). Jesus is the Suffering Servant who took my place and received my just condemnation (Isa. 53:5). Servants love Jesus for his great sacrificial love loved them when they were so very unlovely (Rom. 5:8). Therefore, Christ-centered servants want to serve like Jesus: unconditionally giving love and blessing to others (Mark 10:45).

We shall see more clearly still what our position is to be when we understand that we are to be the bondservants of One who was Himself willing to be a bondservant. Nothing shows better the amazing humility of the Lord Jesus, whose servants we are to be . . . (pg. 90).

How do Christ-centered servants serve? We serve out of heart gladness knowing that his grace enables us to lay down our lives for others. Who serves unselfishly? Only those whose hearts have been transformed by the Cross serve selflessly. They desire to work for things that last for eternity. For that reason, they choose a life of service without hesitation or equivocation. They live not for money, sex, and power, but for people and the kingdom (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Christ-centered servants do not worry about burning-out: they know that their strength will be renewed like the eagle (Isa. 40:30-31). Truly, the joy of the Lord is their strength as they exchange their weaknesses and failings for pleasure, forgiveness, and righteousness in Christ. (2 Cor. 12:1-12; Neh. 8:10).

When do servants serve? Servants do not wait to be seen. They give of themselves without concern for praise or attention. Where do God’s servants serve? They serve anywhere. They are not concerned about formal ministry positions: they overflow with the life of Jesus wherever the Lord places them.

This, then, is the Way of the Cross. It is the way that God’s lowly Bond Servant first trod for us, and should not we, the bondservants of that Bondservant, tread it still? Does it seem hard and forbidding, this way down? Be assured, it is the only way up. It was the way by which the Lord Jesus reached the Throne, and it is the way by which we, too, reach the place of spiritual power, authority and fruitfulness. Those who tread this path are radiant, happy souls, overflowing with the life of their Lord (pg. 95).

Servants serve because that is what servants do. Servants do not worry about being used because they know that the Lord is their protector. Servants know that God is watching. Servants believe that God sees their efforts and will honor their work. Christ-centered servants live to hear these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23). Servants do not condemn others for not serving: they know that except for God’s great grace, they would be self-absorbed, too. Servants want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world:

Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
Compassion on this world
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good
Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world
Yours are the hands
Yours are the feet
Yours are the eyes
You are His body
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Words by St. Theresa of Avila: Music by John Michael Talbot

Servants live lives of joy and fulfillment. The Lord refreshes their spirits and they live for the privilege of basking in his pleasure (Psa. 16:11).

Oh Lord, help us to serve as you served: willingly, unselfishly, and graciously.

First Commandment People

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

First Commandment People

Matt 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28

Cn. Glenn E. Davis

First Sunday after Epiphany:

The Baptism of Jesus

January 10, 2009

Illustration: The Movie, “Field of Dreams”:

Ray: You guys are guests in my corn.

I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to do.

I didn’t understand, but I’ve done it.

I haven’t once asked what’s in it for me.

Shoeless Joe: So, what are you saying?

Ray: I’m saying, “What’s in it for me?”

Shoeless Joe: Is that why you did this? For you? I think you’d better stay here, Ray

Point: No matter what kind of sacrifices Ray made, he was continually thinking about himself. Self-centeredness is not love. Love is yielding my rights, privileges, and needs for the sake of God and others (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Divine Purpose: The Goal of our lives;

We were created by a passionate God to be a passionate people and are heart-fulfilled only when we passionately love and pursue the passionate God. John 4:23.

Divine Call: The conviction that drives our choices;

Love is the passionate unselfish choice for the highest good of God and others without concern for reward or recognition.

Who would forsake the One they follow if they were bound by chains of love? These chains set free and don’t bind (1 Cor. 13; Matt. 22:34-40).

[Ambrose, “Your Portion,” Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 272.]

Love is NOT simply an emotional warm and fuzzy feeling, but rather the selfless, passionate giving of oneself to God and his commands. Love desires God’s will and cannot imagine living any other way.

Love is NOT niceness: smiling a lot and never hinting that something or someone is wrong.

Love is NOT sentimentality: warm, fuzzy feelings that are supportive of any, all, and every behavior.

Love is NOT mere sexuality; it does not demand immoral behavior.

Love is NOT turning a blind eye.

Love IS obedience to God’s commands.

Love IS hard choices and saying “no” with strong warning.

Love IS calling sin, “sin.”

Love IS selfless, forgiving, unoffending, and serving.

God IS love.

Matthew Chapter Twenty-Three

Verse 34) Love IS not about competition and pride.

Verse 35) Love IS not about “being right.”

Verse 37) Love IS giving oneself passionately and totally to God. Love deliberately prefers God’s commands to our own desires and wants. Nothing less than giving your entire being in love, devotion, obedience and service to the God of Israel.

“Mind, soul, and body” is Jesus way of saying that the entire person is to be sold out to God.

Jesus is quoting the Shema (Mark 12:29-30; Deut. 6:4-5), verses that are recited twice a day by every dedicated first-century Jew. Often by stating the obvious, a speaker is quite profound. In this verse, Jesus reminds the Jews that the essential quality of a relationship with the God is love. The Shema is repeated all day, but its meaning could be forgotten. Jesus points out the obvious-a relationship with God is just that-a relationship.

Verse 39) Love IS about others. Love assists others in their passionate pursuit of God by helping them adjust their lives to God’s plan and purposes. Love is fulfilled when others reap God’s blessing with my assistance.

We already love ourselves-we make sure we have food, shelter, clothing, nurturing relationships, etc. Now, Jesus calls on us to do the same for others.

Love for others . . .

1. Concrete responsibly to care for others needs (James 2:14-17).

2. Putting others first by NOT thinking first and only about “what you are going to get out of it.” (Illustration: Field of Dreams).

3. We naturally already love “ourselves.” Don’t wait for inner healing to love others.

Illustration: As a pastor, I have heard expressed many times, “I love Christ, but I can’t stand people,” or” I love Christ, but I don’t care for his Church.” However, it is not possible to claim that you love Jesus without being in love with his people. First John teaches that my relationships with people reflect my relationship with God (1 John 2:9; 3:14-15; 4:20).

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1John 4:20, ESV).

You love Jesus, in turn, Jesus is in love with people, therefore, you will love people since you love Jesus (1 John 4:10-11).

Everything that comes as a barrier between us another, be it never so small, comes as a barrier between us and God. We have found that where these barriers are not put right immediately, they get thicker and thicker until we find ourselves shut off from God and our brother by what seem to be veritable brick walls. Quite obviously, if we allow New Life to come to us, it will have to manifest itself by a walk of oneness with God and our brother, with nothing between (Roy Hession, The Calvary Road, pg. 36).

Verse 40) Love IS the essence of a relationship with God and the heart of his commands. Loving God and others brings life.

Luke 10:25-28, “Do this and you will live.”

Definition: Eternal life is life and life more abundantly-it is being alive in the realm where God lives. Life is walking with God in unending communion, enjoying his unlimited blessing, experiencing his unconditional love, and receiving his undeserved grace.

Conclusion: We are called to be a first commandment people: we are not fulfilled unless we passionately love our passionate God and serve a passion-driven people. Be passionately in love with your passionate God as you transform your passions into love for others.

We are passionately in love with God because God’s passionate love for us was displayed on the Cross. God’s passionate, transformative love changed our hearts from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, God’s love enables us to love others with his passionate love. First commandment people have their priorities in order: they have fallen in love with God and they love what he loves-people.

Audio of “Supernatural Ministry: An Exposition of Psalm 23”

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

My Sermon, “Supernatural Ministry: An Exposition of Psalm 23” is now available in audio from the Cathedral of Christ the King website.

The Life of Jacob & The Law of Consequence

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

 


How God Uses Difficult Authority to Transform Our Character

Gen. 28:16-29:29

(Fulfilling the Your Ministry to the Full Series)

Illustration:

 ‘I’m in David’s situation, and I am in agony. What do I do when the kingdom I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how? Just what does a man do in the middle of a knife-throwing contest?’

The answer is, ‘You get stabbed to death.’

‘What is the necessity of that? Or the good of it?’

You have your eyes on the wrong King Saul. As long as you look at your king, you will blame him, and him alone, for your present difficulty. Be careful, for God has His eyes fastened sharply on another King Saul. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is looking at another King Saul. One just as bad–or worse.

God is looking at the King Saul in you.

Gene Edwards, The Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness (Augusta, ME: Christian Books, 1980), 21.

Life Lesson: God allows a Saul in your life in order to kill the Saul in you.

Proposition: What is the law of consequence and how does God use authority to transform our character? How does God make me into a man or woman of God?

Fallen Condition Focus: God sovereignly uses circumstances to deal with our selfish selves.

 Exposition of Gen. 28:16-29:29

1. Heart for God Forsaken (Gen. 28:17). At Bethel, continuous communion with God is rejected. Jacob is not ready to make Yahweh, the God of his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac, his sovereign Lord and Ruler.Jacob still wants to run the show. Jacob sidesteps the opportunity of having God as his the constant, conscious companion.

Definition: Communion issharing in the presence of God: speaking and being spoken to by Him. Communion is participating in the life of God: an encounter that is loving, grace-filled, and life changing. Psa. 23

2. Heart of Manipulation Exposed (Gen. 28:20). Bargaining with God betrays Jacob’s manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy character. Jacob’s heart is not yet consecrated to God and his purposes.

Definition: Consecration isthe abandonment of my life without reserve to the loving purposes of God. A conviction held deep within my being that my life is God’s. I do not reserve from Christ’s Lordship any rights, gifts, possessions, relationships, or privileges.

The whole man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants us all, and He will not rest until He gets us all. No part of the man will do.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1984), 107.

3. Heart Problem Disciplined (Gen. 29:5). Jacob is excited about finally meeting his family at Paddam-Aram. Little does Jacob know that he has finally met his match in Laban. God allows a Laban in Jacob’s life in order to kill the Laban in Jacob: a twenty-year school of discipline (Gen. 31:41).

Definition: Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs.

By nature, we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.

Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.

4. Heart Trust Betrayed (Gen. 29:22). Jacob reaps what he sows (Gal. 6:7). Laban’s wedding deception mirrors Jacob’s own deception of Isaac (Col. 3:25).

Definition: Consequences are the result of my actions. Sinful choices will revisit me as others do to me what I have done to others. No one sees my selfish actions. I am not caught. I pretend to myself that everything is okay. However, God is all seeing and all knowing, he makes sure that I am penalized for my selfish acts. The Lord makes certain that selfish actions are exposed.

Be not misled: you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature (Gal. 6:7, NLT).

For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality (Col. 3:25, ESV).

Jacob receives at his wedding the consequences for the deceptive actions of stealing Esau’s ancestral blessing (Gen. 27:1-38): he pretended to be Esau and Leah pretends to be Rachel, his bride. Jacob deceptively wears Esau’s clothing and Leah wears Rachel wedding dress. Jacob, the younger, steals Esau, the older brother’s blessing. Leah, the older, marries Jacob instead her younger sister, Rachel. Jacob exiles himself as he flees Esau’s wrath, and now, Jacob will live twenty years as a de facto slave to his father-in-law, Laban, as dowry payment for the two sisters.

5. Heart Plan Delayed (29:30). Jacob will not return home in matter of days as Rebekah reasoned (Gen. 27:44). God has a plan that plan involves molding Jacob’s character and defeating his fleshly pattern of manipulation, deception, and lying.

Application: What do I do if I find myself living in a cycle of sowing and reaping, reaping and sowing? Repent at the foot of the Cross. If I repent, God takes the sin I committed, uses that painful failure, and transforms that situation for his glory and my good. It is not God’s will that I sin. However, if I repent of my selfishness and pride, God can use my self-imposed disaster for my good.

By faith, the law of consequence is nailed to the Cross and the cycle of endless retribution ends.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmedthe spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Col2:13-15, NLT).

Conclusion: God places in authority people who have the same weaknesses in their lives that I have in mine. He uses their weaknesses to put to death the same sinfulness in me.