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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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The Maker Has Made Himself Known: Make Him Known

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2018

What part of God’s world do you love?

Last weekend we investigated a two-way relationship with God, “Because He loves to give the gift of making Himself known to you, He also loves it when you give Him the gift of making yourself known to Him.”

 

In the same manner, “God so loved the world that he gave,” is His extravagant invitation for us to love God’s world as He does and participate in making the Maker known to others.

Pause for a moment and experience the exquisite joy of the angelic declaration first shared with a group of shepherds.  Luke 2:8-12

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Embrace the Good News!  Jesus’ birth, sinless life, miraculous ministry, death and resurrection are for “all the people.”

At the birth of Jesus, Bethlehem becomes God’s centerpiece of lovingly drawing all people to Himself.  God loves to make Himself known and demonstrate His love for all people.

People who have lived rough, messed up lives are included in God’s love story.

  • Men – David, the King and King Solomon (Matthew 1:6, 7)
  • Women – Tamar (Matthew 1:3) and Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6)

People considered undesirable and unwanted are shown they are desirable, wanted and loved by God.

  • The shepherds (Luke 2:8)

People who deny the true and living God are included in God’s loving Self-revelation.

  • The magi (Matthew 2:1)
  • “even the most pagan of pagans may respond to Jesus if given the opportunity (cf. Jonah 1:13-16; 3:6-4:1, 10-11). For one special event in history, the God who rules the heavens chose to reveal himself where pagans were looking.” Keener, Craig S.. A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (p. 100). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.

People who love the true and living God are also recipients of God’s love and Self-revelation.

  • Joseph – Righteous (Matthew 1:19), humble, obedient (Matthew1:24), gracious, gift of discernment
  • Mary Highly favored, the Lord is with you (Luke 2:28), I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word (Luke 2:38)

The Good News of great joy is for all the people!

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”  John 6:35-37

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires (whosoever will) take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:17

What part of God’s world do you love?

  1. Do you love people who have lived rough, messed up lives and are waiting for you to explain and show that they are included in God’s great love?
  2. Do you love people that others consider undesirable and unwanted who long to be included in God’s circle of love through you?
  3. Do you love people who deny the true and living God and are looking for you to bridge the gap to God’s love?
  4. Do you love people who love the true and living God and hope you will love them too?

Someone near you is waiting, longing, looking and hoping you will make the Maker known to them.

Jesus’ statement, “God so loved the world that he gave,” is His extravagant invitation for us to love God’s world as He does and do our part in making the Maker known.

Posted on 22nd December 2018 in Christmas, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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The Maker has Made Himself Known: Make yourself known to Him

The Third Sunday of Advent 2018

Have you ever had a secret admirer?

Who is your secret admirer? It can be hard to tell who’s been secretly sending you gifts or romantic messages, especially when he or she doesn’t want you to find out. You will need to use all the clues you can find. Look carefully at any messages or gifts that they have sent you. Ask around to find out who might be crushing on you. Be aware of the people in your life and keep your eyes peeled for potential admirers. Be careful and be patient. Your secret admirer is probably shy at the prospect of talking to you in person, so try to be tactful and respect his or her privacy.  https://www.wikihow.com/Find-Your-Secret-Admirer

God is no secret admirer.  He LOVES to love you lavishly (1 John 3:1), publicly, extravagantly, unbelievably and eternally!

An unknown love is discouraging, depressing and unrewarding.

God, the One who loves you beyond human capacity to understand, is not a secret lover.  He knows you and everything about you.

Isaiah 43:1

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you: I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Psalm 139:1-6

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

There is NO DOUBT! God knows you and loves you.

This encourages us to embrace a couple of questions:

  1. Do I know myself?
  2. Do I present the self I know to God?

1 Corinthians 13:12 is insightful on love and knowing.

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

To be dependent is to only receive. (Creates indebtedness)

To be independent is to only give. (Creates impoverishment)

“Even God who is uniquely self-sufficient lives in the triunity of persons in a full giving that is a full receiving, and a full receiving that is a full giving.” Gloria Patri (2007), Nicholas Ayo, page 52

God is perfectly healthy in every way.

Because He loves to give the gift of making Himself known to you, He also loves it when you give Him the gift of making yourself known to Him.

We are invited into a “know and be known” relationship with God.

“The One who knows be best, loves me most.”  Bill Gaither

The Advent Text for this week is Zephaniah 3:14-20.

Verse 17 is the pivotal fulcrum for the experiences and expressions of the other verses.

 

3:14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!

 

3:15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.

3:16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.

3:17 The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing

 

3:18 as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.

3:19 I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.

 

3:20 At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.

 

We are to sing aloud.

We are to shout.

We are to rejoice and exult with all our hearts.

 

 

Why?  The Lord has taken away the judgments against you.

He has turned away our enemies.

He is in our midst and we shall fear disaster no more!!!

 

 

We do not fear and we do not let our hands grow weak.

We stay strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

 

What is the Lord, our God, in our midst doing?

He is a warrior who gives victory.

He rejoices over us with gladness.

He renews us in his love.

He exults over us with loud singing.

 

He removes disaster from us.

 

 

 

He deals with all our oppressors.

He saves the immobile

He gathers the outcasts and exchanges our shame into praise and renown in all the earth.

 

 

He will bring us home at the time He gathers us.

He will make us renowned and praised when He restores our fortunes before our eyes.

Because God loves to give the making of Himself known and also loves to receive the making of ourselves known, we respond energetically with King David in Psalm 139:23, 24

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Prayer

Thank you, Father God, for loving to make yourself known.

Although I am dependent upon You, I don’t want You to do all the giving.  I respond to your gift of making yourself known by truthfully, authentically and openly giving you the gift of making myself known to you.

Although you are independent of me, I don’t want to do all the receiving.  Please receive my open and honest making of myself known to you as my heartfelt gift.

AMEN

 

Posted on 15th December 2018 in Christmas, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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The Maker has Made Himself Known: Preparing for God’s Self-revelation

Second Sunday of Advent 2018

In advent we prepare ourselves for the arrival of Jesus, past, present and future.

Today we reflect upon Jesus’ arrival in yesterday’s Bethlehem, embrace His arrival in our experience today and prepare for His arrival in our tomorrow.

God, in His Son Jesus, has made Himself known, is making Himself known and will make Himself known.

God making Himself known in the birth of Jesus was glorious.

John 1:14

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Luke 2:8-14

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

God making Himself known in daily life is powerful too.

Consider the miracle of the axe head floating.  2 Kings 6:1-7

Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.

God loves to make Himself known in powerful ways in the material things of our day to day lives.

  • In miraculous provision.
    • Food (manna and Quail) in the desert for the people of Israel. Exodus 16
    • Miracle catch of fish. John 21
    • Multiplying fish and loaves.
      • John 6:1-15 – Feeding 5,000 with five loaves and 2 fish (12 baskets of overflow)
      • Mark 8:1-13 – Feeding of the 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish (Seven baskets of overflow)
    • He makes Himself known by continuing the wedding feast by turning the water into wine, saving the parents from embarrassment and providing for the joy of the wedding guests
    • He makes Himself known to the disciples by miraculously providing money to pay taxes. Matthew 17:27
    • He makes Himself known by healing paralysis, leprosy, withered hands, calming storms and raising those who have died.

God loves to make Himself known in our tomorrows too and we are in search of ways to prepare ourselves for God’s Self-revelation.

Can I prepare today for a greater Self-revelation of Jesus tomorrow?

Today’s Second Sunday of Advent text is Malachi 3:1-4

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

From our text we learn things we can do to prepare the way for God’s Self-revelation.

  1. The preparer is sent by God. 1 “Lord, send me to prepare my heart for your arrival.”
  2. The preparer prepares the way for the Lord. 1  “Lord, may I prepare my heart for the way of the Lord rather than for my personal preferences.”
  3. When the Lord arrives in the prepared place, it can be something to be endured as being in a refiner’s fire and being scrubbed with fuller’s soap. 2.  “Lord, your Self-revelation is worth everything to me.  Please give me grace to endure the fire and scrubbing necessary to prepare me for your revelation.”
  4. In the process I am becoming like refined and purified silver and gold. ‘Lord, I celebrate the results you are producing in me and I come as a purified offering of righteousness to you.”
  5. Preparing the way of the Lord followed by His arrival is making me pleasing to Him.

Thank God for His Self-revelation through:

  • The first Christmas.
  • The material things in our lives.
  • Preparing my heart for His arrival tomorrow.

Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Posted on 10th December 2018 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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The Maker has Made Himself Known

First Sunday of Advent 2018.

Christmas begins on December 25, when we celebrate the birth of our Lord.  In Advent we assume the prophesied ministry of John the Baptist.

  • A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3
  • In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”  Matthew 3:1-3

Every year Christians reflect upon what “preparations” they should make for the arrival of Jesus on December 25th.

The word advent comes to us from Greek to Latin to English.  It carries the meaning of arrival and arriving.

In advent we prepare ourselves for the arrival of Jesus, past, present and future.

  • Jesus physically arrived about 2024 years ago.
    • And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7
  • Jesus arrives in our lives in various ways today.
    • And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
  • Jesus will return to earth with a glorious and grand “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.

‘Awaken! Remember that God comes! Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today, now! The one true God, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”, is not a God who is there in Heaven, unconcerned with us and our history, but he is the-God-who-comes.’ Pope Benedict XVI, Celebration of First Vespers of Advent, Vatican Basilica, December 2006

Our Advent celebration is founded in the reality that “The Maker has Made Himself Known.”

The Maker made Himself known to John the Apostle through personal encounter, friendship and demonstration.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.  John 1:14-18

The Maker made Himself known to the Apostle Paul by revelation.

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  Ephesians 3:1-6

God loves to make Himself known:

  • In material things, natural provision and finances.
  • In physical strength, health and healing.
  • In peace, joy and love.
  • In relationships.
  • In removing sin, guilt and condemnation and replacing with righteousness and a pure conscience.

A most interesting story of “preparing the way of the Lord” is found in Judges 7:2-7

The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water.And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”

Gideon and Midian by the Numbers

  • 32,000 warriors at the beginning
  • 22,00 warriors sent home due to fearfulness and trembling.
  • Of the 10,000 warriors remaining, 9,700 are sent back to their homes.
  • God made Himself known to all the world in and through 300 warriors.

Is there something in your life that God is reducing to prepare the way of the Lord?

Welcome God’s work in you because He has promised to make Himself known to you.

I (Kent) felt the Lord say to me, “I will make myself known and I will leave no doubt.”

  • I left no doubt to Abraham on the Mountains of Moriah.
  • I left no doubt at the Red Sea.
  • I left no doubt to Daniel in the lion’s den.
  • I left no doubt to the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace.
  • I left no doubt to Mary, Martha and Lazarus at Lazarus’ tomb.
  • I left no doubt following the death of Jesus on the cross.

If you reduce with God, He will make Himself known and leave no doubt!

When you seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

Posted on 2nd December 2018 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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The Maker has made Himself Known: Lessons from the Ark of the Covenant

Insight into God’s Self-revelation from the Ark of the Covenant.

having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.  Hebrews 9:4

We are pursuing the ways of God in matters related to Him making Himself Known.

In a previous message we investigated the role personal longing in God’s self-revelation.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

God makes Himself known to people with core level longing for God.

It is fair to say the Ark of the Covenant is the most holy item to ever grace the earth.  The Ark of the Covenant is the centerpiece of God’s self-revelation.

From the perspective of the Ark of the Covenant, to whom does God make Himself known?

The items in the Ark of the Covenant are hugely instructive on the ways God determines to self-reveal.  There are three things inside the Ark of the Covenant.

  1. The tablets of the Ten Commandments.
  2. An omer of manna.
  3. Aaron’s staff.

First, God makes Himself known in relationship to His revealed will.

Second, God makes Himself known upon and through His provision.

Third, God makes Himself known upon and through His selected, appointed and anointed leadership.

However, we learn the antithesis is equally important in God’s decisions to self-reveal.

Above the Ark of the Covenant or the Ark’s lid and cover, is the Mercy Seat.  The High Priest applied an animal’s blood to the mercy seat as a sacrifice covering the sins of Israel.

What are the three most important sins to be covered?

First, as Moses returned down the mountain with the Law (revealed will of God), he found the people in great violation and in anger, he broke the two tablets.

We learn that God’s self-revelation is not given upon violation of His revealed will.  The broken law must be covered with a mercy seat and the blood of the sacrifice.  Then God is willing to manifest His glory.

Second, God provided for Israel’s food needs by the giving of manna.  The giving of manna is one of the most remarkable provisions of God in history.  However, the people began to complain and begrudge God’s provision.

We learn that God’s self-revelation is not given upon grumbling, complaining and begrudging people.  Grumbling, complaining and begrudging against God must be covered by the blood of the sacrifice placed upon the seat of God’s mercy.

Third, God makes Himself known through His selected, appointed and anointed leadershipRebelling against, resisting and undervaluing God’s selected, appointed and anointed leadership must be placed under God’s Mercy Seat and covered by the blood of the sacrifice.

Posted on 2nd December 2018 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Jesus, Legalism and Liberalism

Jesus, Legalism and Liberalism, part 2

Matthew 5:19 includes a key for understanding Jesus’ upcoming conversation about six different Old Testament commandments as interpreted by the scribes and Pharisees.

  1. A commandment about murder. 21-26
  2. A commandment about adultery. Vs. 27-30
  3. A commandment about divorce. 31-32
  4. A commandment about taking oaths. 33-37
  5. A commandment about retaliation. 38-42
  6. A commandment about loving one’s neighbor and hating enemies. 43-48

Jesus is, in essence, rebuking the scribes and Pharisees’ (Vs. 20) treatment of the Law given to Moses by God (He that hath seen me hath seen the Father) Himself.

In all six of Jesus’ examples we see a very powerful statement:

  • You have heard it said….
  • But I say unto you…
  • 21-22; 27-28; 31-32; 33-34; 38-39; 43-44

The “You have heard it said” statements require the hearer to consider, “From whom have we heard it said?”

  • Who said, “Thou shalt not murder?” God.
  • Who said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemies?” Don’t know.

The “But I say unto you” statements are exceedingly powerful and corrective.

  1. Jesus, who John reveals as the “Word became flesh,” lets everyone know, “I am the God who gave the word (commandments) in the first place and I am the God who properly interprets the word (commandments) now.
  2. Jesus points out that “what you have heard said” has hundreds of years and layers of human interpretation that totally miss the spirit and intent of the word (commandment) given by God.

Since “you have heard it said” came without the spirit and intent of the Giver, Jesus reveals the spirit and intent with which He gave the word to Moses and then further explains some of the ways in which duty and obedience to God’s word was being “loosened, released, dissolved, broken, and relaxed.”

“Jesus, legalism and liberalism: An illustration with three lines.”

 

 

Thou shalt not murder, as relaxed by the scribes and Pharisees, meant:

  • You can be angry (unrighteous anger) with your brother
  • You can insult your brother
  • You can call your brother an idiot/fool

AND STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF A COMMANDMENT KEEPER!

Jesus strongly corrects this relaxation of the commandment and tightens it’s meaning to His original intent.

  • Angry with your brother? You are liable to judgement.
  • Insult your brother? You are liable to the council.
  • Call your brother a fool? You are liable to the hell of fire.

Thou shalt not commit adultery, as relaxed by the scribes and Pharisees, meant:

  • You can lust after your sister…

AND STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF A COMMANDMENT KEEPER!

Jesus strongly corrects this relaxation of the commandment and tightens its meaning to His original intent.

  • Lust (sinful desires) is adultery.
  • Heart adultery and physical adultery are so repugnant to God that one should do anything necessary to eliminate it.
  • Heart adultery and physical adultery are deserving of a sentence to hell.

Not murdering is a measure of keeping the sixth commandment.  Not committing adultery is a measure of keeping the seventh commandment.

Jesus, however, requires a deeper obedience.

Our Lord intertwines this deeper obedience with love.  John 15:1-11

  • I can’t bear the fruit of deeper obedience, but the Holy Spirit can. 4, 5
  • This deeper, fruit bearing obedience glorifies God and proves that I am Jesus’ disciple. 8
  • As God loves Jesus, Jesus loves me. I am to abide in His love.  9
  • In keeping Jesus’ commandments, I abide in His love. 10

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

The Greatest Commandment has always been (and always will be), “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might.”  Deuteronomy 6:4

This kind of love moves me into a deeper obedience of the spirit and intent of God, the loving and gracious Law-giver.

In what ways do I relax the words of Jesus who is inviting me into the joy of deeper obedience and love?

Posted on 19th November 2018 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Jesus, Legalism and Liberalism

Jesus, Legalism and Liberalism

Matthew 5:17-20

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

We know, from the words of Jesus:

  • He did not come to abolish the Law or Prophets, but to fulfill them. Vs. 17
  • Not the smallest letter or least stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (It is finished) Vs. 19

Jesus always honors and loves God as seen in the Old Testament.  The Old Testament God is His Father, whom He loves.  Our Lord quotes the Old Testament twenty-four times.

Jesus holds the Old Testament, including the Law given to Moses, with the highest regard and respect.

“A God of wisdom was behind the Mosaic Law.  There has never been a more perfect standard of righteousness, neither could God’s plan of redemption have been implied more beautifully than in the ceremonial law.”  R.T. Kendall

God, the Law-giver, requires laws, commands, statutes, and precepts to be met with the duty of obedience.

Jesus forbids any and all ‘relaxing’ or ‘teaching others to relax the Law’ and thus miss the duty of obedience rightly required by God.

In fact, Jesus concludes His great Sermon on the Mount with a call to obedience.  Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

We know Jesus fulfilled the Law.  Matthew 5:17

  • Some of the Law He fulfilled ceased (Ceremonial Law).
  • Some of the Law He fulfilled continues (Moral Law).

The audience Jesus is addressing has much experience with and knowledge of the Law and experts in the Law.

  • Jesus highlights the scribes whose hero was Ezra (7:6, 10).
    • The scribes were the teachers of the Law.
    • The scribes were the doctors of the Law.
    • They were the professional interpreters of the Law.
    • They were the copyists who wrote out the Old Testament.
  • Jesus highlights the Pharisees.
    • The Pharisees were almost like a political party.
    • They too were teachers/doctors of the Law.
    • They were separatists from the priestly interpretation of the Law and from the common people.
    • They regarded themselves as superior interpreters of the Law.
    • They were well known for being legalistic and rigorous.

Contrary to the scribes and Pharisee’s teaching, a person NEVER earns God’s love, grace or salvation.  NEVER!

  • God’s love. 1 John 4:8 – for God is love.
  • God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8, 9 – “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God so that no one may boast.”
  • God’s salvation. Titus 3:4-6 – “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…”

Are earning and doing the same?  NO!

Do I have a duty to God’s love, grace and salvation?  YES.  The Bible couldn’t be clearer; my duty is to believe.

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
  • because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10: 9, 10
  • 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… John 1:12
  • 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35
  • To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:43
  • And they said, “Believein the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Acts 16:31

Believing isn’t earning.  Believing isn’t “works based salvation.”  Believing isn’t legalism.

Believing God is a human capacity, placed by God in every human being, and is connected to righteousness as far back as Abraham.

“And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”  Genesis 15:6

Let’s consider the scribes and Pharisees and the greatest commandment in both the Old and New Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:4, 5

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Matthew 22:36-38

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.

“Jesus, legalism and liberalism: An illustration with three lines.”

Concluding Questions

  1. Have you placed your belief in Jesus for salvation?
  2. Do you tend to add things above the line of God’s truth and practice a form of legalism?
  3. Do you tend to subtract things below the line of God’s truth and practice a form of liberalism?

Listen – My Story

  • Do you ever practice the externals of your faith without the corresponding internals of faith? (Do you ever fake your faith?)
  • Why? What happens inside of our hearts that prompts us to be ingenuine?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  1. God’s love, grace and salvation are always the gift of God and never earned. What feelings and thoughts do you have about such magnificent gifts from your Heavenly Father?  (Include any Bible verses that come to mind, for example, 1 John 3:1)

 

  1. Read Luke 18:9-14. What are some strategies for dealing with the recovering Pharisee of legalism in our hearts?

 

  1. Read Isaiah 58:1-4. Do you see ways the people had liberalized fasting (required less of themselves than God does?  Notice especially verses 3 and 4.

 

  1. Are you more prone to legalism or liberalism (as demonstrated in the three-line illustration)?

 

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to personally adjust this week?
  • If you have experienced legalism or liberalism, what can you do to successfully move on?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Please thank God for His gifts of love, grace and salvation.
  • Please pray for those in your LIFE Group who are recovering from legalism or liberalism.
  • Invite everyone in your Life Group to place their belief in Jesus for salvation.

 

Posted on 10th November 2018 in LIFE Groups, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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From Hard Copy to Heart Copy: Jesus and the Law and Prophets

Today’s text, Matthew 5:17 is foundational to and included in everything Jesus reveals.

The One True and Living God revealed Himself to Moses.  Exodus 3:1-15

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

The One True and Living God revealed to Moses the attitudes and actions of right relationship with Him and each other.  (Begins in Exodus 19)

This revelation of right (righteous) attitudes and actions God revealed to Moses is called “The Law (Torah).”

  • The Law (Torah) has 248 commandments.
  • The Law (Torah) has 365 prohibitions.
  • There are then 613 requirements in the Law (Torah).

The revelation of God’s continued guidance and communication with God’s people was (is) given through “The Prophets.”

  • The Old Testament includes various categories for “The Prophets.”
  • There are the “writing prophets” and the “oral prophets.” (Somewhere over 70)
  • Another approach is based primarily upon the length of their writings, “The Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) and “The Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).”

In possibly the most pivotal statement in the Bible, Jesus reveals;

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

Jesus makes several things VERY clear in this passage.

Do not think…             How we think about the Law and the Prophets is extremely important.

I have come…              God becoming human is purposeful and intentional.  Emphasis on Jesus’ action.

To abolish the law…    Working against God’s law is NOT Jesus’ purpose.

Or the prophets…        Working against God’s prophets is NOT Jesus’ purpose.

I have come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.

The Law God revealed to Moses (Mosaic Law) contains three primary parts.

  1. The moral
  2. The ceremonial
  3. The civil

The only proper response (for everyone, including Jesus) to God’s law is duty and obedience.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law…” Galatians 4:4

Jesus’ proclaimed that he would perfectly and completely fill full the Mosaic Law; moral, ceremonial and civil.

Upon the cross Jesus proclaimed success.  He had now brought to perfect completion all of the Mosaic Law.

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19:28-30

Finished!  This one word, stated in this moment by our Lord, carries more significance than possibly all other words combined.  Of this word C.H. Spurgeon said, “an ocean of meaning in a drop of language, a mere drop, for that is all that we can call one word…”

It is finished!  The law given to Moses and written on stone, totally fulfilled in Jesus, is now God’s law within us, written on our hearts.  Jeremiah 31:33

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jesus didn’t abolish the Law and Prophets, he moved them from hard copy (stone) to heart copy (internal).

  • “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” Hebrews 9:22 – Filled full in Jesus.
  • “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.” Exodus 12:21 – Filled full in Jesus
  • “but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.” Hebrews 9:7 – Filled full in Jesus
  • “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Hebrews 9:24 – Filled full in Jesus.
  • “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;” 1 Peter 3:18 – Filled full in Jesus

Today, receive him (Jesus) and believe in his name!

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:12, 13

MCA LIFE GROUP HOMEWORK

Listen – My Story

  • What is one of your favorite Old Testament stories? Why?
  • Do you find the Old Testament to be as important as the New Testament? Why or why not?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  1. The weekend lesson included, “The only proper response (for everyone, including Jesus) to God’s law is duty and obedience.
    1. Read Ephesians 2:8, 9. Salvation is by grace.
    2. Read Matthew 7:24-27. Wisdom is putting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount into practice.
    3. Are there matters of duty and obedience in response to God’s grace?
    4. How do you respond to people who claim Christ, but have no sense of duty or obedience?
  1. If you receive and believe Jesus (John 1:12, 13), what are your duties and what are you to obey?
    1. Read John 14:15.
    2. Read Matthew 16:24.
    3. Is there duty and obedience required in these passages?

Life – Taking it Home

In what ways will you respond to Jesus fulfilling the Law and the Prophets on your behalf?

Lift – Prayer

  • Please thank God for Jesus who fulfilled ALL the Law and Prophets for you!
  • Please pray for the MCA Emergency Cold Weather Shelter (Tuesday evenings) and consider serving the Lord in this vital community outreach.
  • Please pray for the United States of America in this election/post-election week.

 

Posted on 3rd November 2018 in Sermon on the Mount, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Pastor Mark Burgess’ Notes: That My House Will be Full

That My House Will Be Full and The Great Commission Priorities      

The Parable of the Great Banquet – Luke 14:15-24

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

From Verse 21, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

Poor – Those in spiritual poverty (No adequate witness of the Gospel)

The Crippled – Those whose spiritual life has been crippled (By the events of life, circumstances, or the lack of Biblical teaching)

The Blind – Those who have spiritual blindness (Spiritual yes – but not to the things of God)

The Lame – Those who cannot go forward in their spiritual walk (Spiritual growth has stagnated or stopped)

From Verse 21 again, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

Why do we GO? Because our Savior has given us a Commission to Go!

What is a Commission?

Definition: In the military, a commissioned officer’s official document of appointment.

Definition: An instruction, command, or duty given to a person or group of people.

Definition: A group of people officially charged with a particular function.

In Matthew 28: 16 – 20 we have our Savior’s commissioning of His disciples:

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Friends, as believers we are called to the same Commission today that Jesus gave His disciples approx. 2000 years ago!  It hasn’t changed.  For some of us we may have neglected this and as one preacher calls it, it has become for us the Great Omission instead.

If you are a believer today, you are in the group of people charged with the greatest message for all humanity.  The greatest privilege – to confess Jesus Christ and proclaim the Gospel Message to others.  To acknowledge and testify to what Jesus Christ has done in your own life to others!  To be on board with the greatest mission on earth! To be engaged in the Great Commission!

Friends, as we consider the privilege of being engaged in His Great Commission we must also consider our Savior’s words regarding those who choose not to proclaim Him. Our Jesus spoke some very strong and sobering words to us regarding if we choose not to recognize, confess and proclaim Him as Savior before others. Matthew 10:33: “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”  Friends, we are really missing out when we choose not to proclaim Christ, when we choose not to confess him, when we choose not to identify as a Christ follower before others, to those who do not believe or have yet to believe.

Speaking of those who proclaim him I so look forward to when people are being water baptized. When they have the opportunity to publicly announce that they are a follower of Jesus Christ. When they proclaim their faith, their testimony, and identify publicly before others as a follower of Jesus Christ! If you’re a Believer and you haven’t been water baptized, I encourage you to do so! A first step in publicly declaring your faith in Jesus Christ to others!

Friends, when we confess our Savior is Jesus Christ and we are willing to identify ourselves with Him before others no matter the outcome, Jesus recognizes us before the Father God: Jesus says in Matthew 10:32: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  Anyone in the house today want to have Jesus confess you before the Father God? Anybody today want Jesus to recognize you as His follower, his disciple before the Father? Anyone today want Jesus to proclaim you as a son or daughter before the Most High God and that you have kinship or inheritance with Him?

In this, the greatest of commissions, our Savior shares 4 steps we are to implement or carry out to engage the Great Commission.  Jesus spells it out for us: Let’s look at these:

  • Go – – Jesus calls us to follow Him. To Go, we must first learn to Follow. The calling of the first disciples in Matthew 4:19:

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” – to fish for men. Jesus says if we follow, He will send us out!

John 12:26 – 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

  • Make Disciples – To Make Disciples means to be “with others.” Let’s talk about that.

Jesus chose to be with people, to be “with them.” With people, with His disciples, with people who were in physical, mental, relational, and spiritual need. Let’s follow His example to do the same. To fulfill the Great Commission calls us to be “with them.” To be aware of those who need Him and “go” to those in need and be “with them.”

3) Baptize – “repent and be baptized” = Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and 3000 people were baptized – Read Acts 2:37-41: 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

  • Teach – Luke 4:18 – 19, Jesus speaks of the priorities of His earthly ministry quoting the Messianic verses of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 61:1 – 2 : We can learn a lot when we draft off our Savior’s priorities for ministry:
  • The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
  • because the Lord has anointed me
  • to proclaim good news to the poor.
  • He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
  • to proclaim freedom for the captives
  • and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
  • 2
  • to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
  • and the day of vengeance of our God,
  • to comfort all who mourn,

Friends, this is our savior’s words quoting from Isaiah. This was His Action Plan. Our Savior’s action plan should be our Action Plan – To Go, Raise up disciples, Baptize, and Teach them.  To take Jesus’ Action Plan to everyone who needs the experience salvation and the power of the Resurrected Christ in their life.

Look at the Order Jesus put in the Great Commission: This is important:

Go

Make Disciples

Baptize

Teach

From Verse 21, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

Poor – Those in spiritual poverty

The Crippled – Those whose spiritual life has been crippled

The Blind – Those who have spiritual blindness

The Lame – Those who cannot go forward in their spiritual walk.

Friends, we have been called to GO! – John 3:16

Posted on 21st October 2018 in Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Business as Mission Life Group Notes

MCA Church LOVED the ministry of Gea Gort and her insights into Business as Mission.

Following are the Life Group Notes for this week (October 7-14, 2018).

 

Listen – My Story

  • What is your favorite work you have done? Why?
  • What is your dream job or place of service? Why?

Learn – Digging Deeper

Our guest, Gea Gort, quoted Ephesians 3:20, 21 with meaningful work and service in mind.

  • How do you bring God’s ability to do “immeasurably more” into your life of work and service?
  • A wage is not what makes something work or service. Everyone, employed, unemployed, retired or volunteer can walk in Him who is “Able to do immeasurably more.”
  • What ideas or scriptures help you experience the immeasurably more of God?

We were also invited into mediation upon Deuteronomy 8:18. Here we learn it is God who gives the ability to produce wealth.

  • How do you feel when you think of producing wealth? Humble?  Proud? Selfish? Pleasing to God?
  • Are you maximizing the ability God has given to you to produce wealth?
  • Is the wealth you are producing useful to our King and His kingdom?
  • Is the wealth you are producing mostly used for self or for others?
  • How might you become more effective with God’s gift of ability to produce wealth.
  • Is your highest priority in your work and service the mission of God in our world of today?

Life – Taking it Home

What action step will you take this week to connect with God’s immeasurably more and ability to produce wealth?

Lift – Prayer

  • Pray for those in your Life Group who identify an area of their life that is longing for God’s “Immeasurably more.”
  • Pray over each member’s work and service whether paid or unpaid.
  • Pray for and plan to attend the “Bridging the Gap” dynamic leadership seminar, Friday evening 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM and Saturday from 9 AM – 1 PM (Lunch is provided).
Posted on 7th October 2018 in Business, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post