logo

"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

post

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
post

Psalm 119:40: Longings and Personal Revival

We are pursuing, with all our mind and might, soul and heart, the Person whom we Love.

The One whose loving kindness is better than life.  He who animates the universe.  Brightens the Alaskan skies with the northern lights.  Who says, “Let there be” and be it is.

He who shalom-ed a troubled teenage Mary’s heart upon her selection to be the mother of our Lord and entrusted her cross broken heart to John, “Woman, behold thy son.”  Or is it He entrusted His best friend into the care of the world’s greatest mother?

We’ve got to experience the One who sent the cloven tongues of fire from Mt. Sinai into Pentecost’s upper room and filled everyone present with the Spirit of the Living God.

Not another day without His strong hand upon our shoulder.  Not an hour without His living Word surging through our veins.  Not a minute absent His approval. Not a second without His aromatic anointing.

We pursue His fresh fire.  His wind of life.  His energetic oil.

We await His hovering, brooding, indwelling, moving, empowering Spirit.

Is it renewal?  Restoration?  Awakening?  Outpouring?  Revival?

Psalm 119 features at least eight prayers of deep longing for revival.

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Today we take up the Psalmist’s third outcry for revival.  Psalm 119:40

“Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!”

This awakening of revival for which we pray is related to our deepest longings.  “Behold, I long for your precepts.”

For some people, the identifiable deep longing is for happiness.  David K. Naugle, in his book Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness states:

Roman philosopher Seneca (c. 5 B.C.-A. D. 65) reminded us: There is not anything in this world, perhaps, that is more talked of, and less understood, than the business of a happy life. It is every person’s wish and design; and yet not one of a thousand … knows wherein that happiness consists. We live, however, in a blind and eager pursuit of it; and the more haste we make in a wrong way, the further we are from our journey’s end.

Naugle calls this misguided longing for happiness as “the everlasting ideal.”

We are in search of the everlasting ideal in education, finances, work, technology, marriage, parenting, friendship, travel, adventure, health, entertainment, recreation, religion, food, drink, sex, and self. Not only is this pursuit exhausting; it also trivializes a once-noble concept, as we have moved from a concern with being and doing good to a fixation on feeling good.

Notice the author points to a movement from “being and doing good to a fixation on feeling good.”

Feelings are part of the image of God imparted to human beings at creation.  It is because God has emotions that we have emotions.  Feelings are a gift from God.

God’s feelings are on full display in Hosea 11:8.

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.

Jesus feels our feelings.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

To sympathize is to “have a fellow feeling with.”  https://biblehub.com/greek/4834.htm

We could restate this verse as follows:  For we have Jesus, our Great High Priest, who has fellow feelings with our weaknesses.  In every respect He has been tempted as we are yet is without sin.

When God created humans in His image He included the ability and desirability of feelings.

Longing for joy, peace, love and happiness can be pleasing to the Lord.

However, these longings are not truly the deepest human longing.

Every human being has always and will always discover their deepest longing is for God alone.

Psalm 62:5-8

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;

Hear the same deepest longing from Psalm 42:1-2

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

See Jesus’ promised blessing upon those who embrace their deepest longings for God in Matthew 5.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.

Psalm 119:40, reveals that revival is connected to our deepest longing for God as revealed in His precepts (guidance).

Consider God’s faithfulness to Isaac because of Abraham’s exceptional longing for obedience to God.

26 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Remember this is several hundred years PRIOR to God giving the written and oral Law to Moses.

Abraham’s knowledge of God’s charge, commandments, statutes and laws was 100% by hearing God’s voice.

“This variety of expression seems to be designed to show the universality and exactness of Abraham’s obedience, that he readily complied with every intimation of the divine will.”

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/26-5.htm

Abraham’s deepest longing for God fueled his obedience to every hint of God’s will.

As we pursue our deepest longing for God, Abraham’s example is a valuable model.

  1. Longing for God, we pre-commit to obey every hint of God’s will.
  2. Longing for God, we expect to hear His voice, both oral and written.
  3. Longing for God, we expect the next generation of our family members to walk in God’s promises to us.
  4. Longing for God, we expect Holy Spirit revival.
Posted on 28th November 2018 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
post

Righteous Rhonda SuZanne Johnson

“You keep telling me what has been lost, and I keep telling you something remains.”  John Swinton, “Dementia: Living in the Memories of God.

Two similar people live virtually the same life

  • Rhonda – Realizing relationship with God is given by His grace through faith in Jesus, Rhonda placed her full trust in Him for salvation and eternal life. In this process, God gave to Rhonda His righteousness.  Let’s call her “Righteous Rhonda.”
  • Vince (Fictional) – Having heard of the Good News of relationship with God given by His grace through faith in Jesus, Vince wasn’t sure. The surrender your life to the leadership of God seemed too much to ask.  “Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus” was out for sure.  “I’m not giving my life to anyone, especially an invisible God.” He said.  Let’s call him “Unconvinced Vince.”

Righteous Rhonda and Unconvinced Vince both experience early onset dementia and die at fifty-one years of age.

The disease process was the same for both Vince and Rhonda.  In some ways, it seems they have had the exact same experience.  But have they?

Is there any real advantage to being Christian in life?

Yes, there are many spectacular advantages to living life in the Gospel of Christ.

There is the significant advantage of personally belonging to God.

When I no longer know who I am, I rest in whose I am.

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

There is the significant advantage of personally resting in memory.

  • When I no longer remember anything, I rest in knowing God remembers me.
  • J. I. Packer writes about the comfort we have in being known by God:

“What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16). I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.”

  • “But he knows the way I take; when he hath tried me I shall come out as pure gold.” Job 23:10

There is the significant advantage of personally resting in God’s grace.

  • When I no longer can “do anything,” I rest in knowing God is doing everything for me and in me.
  • But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

There is the significant advantage of Presence.

  • When folks wonder if I am still present, I rest in knowing God is ever present with me.
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There is the significant advantage of personal certainty.

  • When I am no longer certain about myself, my certainty about God remains the same.
  • “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:12

There is the significant advantage of guaranteed eternal life in relationship with God, reunited with believing family and friends for time without end.

  • “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” John 11:25, 26
  • Jesus also said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Today, we celebrate the work of God’s Good News for Rhonda.

She has truly “fought a good fight, finished the race, and henceforth a crown of righteousness” is hers.

Rhonda is absent in body and present with the Lord.

We worship and celebrate God who has made this grace of eternal life available to us through faith in His Son.

If we were at a service today for our fictional Unconvinced Vince, our sorrow would be immeasurable.

But “Glory to God” we are celebrating Righteous Rhonda’s abundant, boisterous, energetic, faith-based life.

Today, my prayer is that, unlike Unconvinced Vince,  you will join Righteous Rhonda.

Without a doubt, I am fully convinced.

Posted on 28th November 2018 in Funerals  •  Comments are off for this post
post

Matthew 5:21-48 and The Greatest Commandment

We are sitting on the Mount of Beatitudes to learn from Jesus.

He has revealed that He didn’t come to abolish the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.

Because of this, Paul would later explain how the Law was always intended, like a tutor and guardian, to lead people to Jesus.  Jesus now is our Tutor and Guardian.

24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  1 Peter 2:25

The Greatest Commandment, showing the desire of God for all humanity, was, is and will be exactly the same, yesterday, today and forever.

God’s deepest desire for those in the Old Testament covenant is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

God’s deepest desire for those in the New Testament covenant is found in Matthew 22:37-38.

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Why is it that we, like the scribes and Pharisees, so quickly…

  • Love the Law and forget the Law-giver?
  • Love the Christian religion and forget the Christ?
  • Love the creation (ourselves) and forget the Creator?

It might be good for us to ask, “Is there a recovering scribe and Pharisee in me today?”

Rather than asking, “Who must I be to align with the Law-giver?” the religious and cultural leaders of Jesus’ day simply asked, “What must I do to align with the Law?”

In God’s revelation of Himself we learn:

  1. Who always precedes what.
  2. Be always precedes do.

Jesus (Matthew 5:21-48) talks the disciples through six “what and do” emphasis of the scribes and Pharisees contrasted with God’s “who and be” priority.

You shall not murder

What and do?

  • Know the “do not murder” commandment.
  • Do not murder anyone.

Who and be?

  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love for everyone created in His image.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love for all my brothers and sisters and I do not hold anger toward them in my heart.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love for all my brothers and sisters and I do not insult them or the image of God in which they are created.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love for all of my brothers and sisters.  When I approach the altar of the God I so love and remember that my brother or sister who also “loves the Lord with all their heart, soul and might,” has been hurt by me, I am broken hearted that God’s love has been violated and I immediately go to my sister and brother in reconciliation.  Then I approach the Lord I love with all my heart.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love, not just for my sisters and brothers, but also for my adversaries.  I settle matters quickly.

You shall not commit adultery

What and do?

  • Know the “do not commit adultery” commandment.
  • Do not commit adultery with anyone.

Who and be?

  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love for all my brothers and sisters and I do not have lust in my heart for them.
  • Lust is a violation of God’s love for me and for the other person and it is a violation of my love of God and my love for the other person.

Divorce at will

What and do?

  • You have been taught that divorce only requires a very simple certificate.
  • Divorce at will, as long as you have the certificate.

Who and be?

  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love for my spouse.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I love my spouse created in the image of God.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I honor and respect my spouse who also “loves the Lord with all their heart, soul, and might.”
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I keep the vows I have with Him and with my spouse.

Make an oath

What and do?

  • You have been taught that your word isn’t reliable so become trusted by making oaths based upon larger and larger things.
  • Make huge oaths at will.

Who and be?

  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person filled with love for those with whom I am making an agreement.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person who makes only honest commitments and agreements.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I am a person whose “Yes” is a 100% guaranteed yes.

Retaliate

What and do?

  • You have been taught to retaliate, “eye for eye and tooth for tooth.”
  • Feel free to retaliate.

Who and be?

  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I highly value the image of God in which the person who wronged me is created.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I trust the Lord I love to protect and defend me.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I trust the Lord I love to care for me and properly deal with the one who wronged me.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I relax in knowing He loved me first and will ultimately redeem and restore my entire life. 

Love your neighbor and hate your enemies

What and do?

  • You have been taught to “love your neighbor and hate your enemies.”
  • Let your heart be filled with hate.

Who and be?

  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I respect and honor the image of God in which my enemies have been created.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” my heart is filled with love and love alone.  Who my enemy is or what my enemy does will not change God’s love that has filled me completely.
  • As a person who “Loves the Lord with all my heart, soul and might,” I know Jesus lovingly prays for me and I extend that gift of prayer to my enemies too.

In all of God’s commandments you will find the Great Commandment.

To be a disciple of Jesus is to experience God’s love and reflect that same love back to God and to all people.

“We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:19

Our grandest experience is with God’s love.  Our grandest expression is reflecting God’s love.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  John 14:15

Without careful “love maintenance” we run the risk of repeating the Ephesian church failure.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.  Revelation 2:4, 5

May you and I join the Psalmist in loving God and His word.

Psalm 119:97

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

Psalm 119:167

I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.

Posted on 24th November 2018 in Sermon on the Mount  •  Comments are off for this post
post

Gaze Upon the Beauty of the Lord

We are studying the usage of “revival” in Psalm 119.  Today we are taking a second look (part 2) of Psalm 119:37

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.

Any system of belief must give definition to at least three top priorities:

  1. What is true? Epistemology
  2. What is good? Ethics
  3. What is beautiful? Aesthetics

The Bible addresses truth.

  1. In John 14:6 we learn truth is not primarily propositions, but The Person of Jesus from whom propositions emanate.
  2. John tells us, in John 1:14, Jesus is the fulness of truth (and Grace). Colossians 2:9
  3. John 16:13 points out the Spirit of truth will guide us into all truth.
  4. Paul reveals that the church of the living God is the household of God and is the pillar and buttress of truth. 1 Timothy 3:15
  5. 2 Timothy 2:2 instructs us to “rightly handle the word of truth.”

The Bible addresses ethics.

  1. Galatians 5:16-26 reveals a clear ethic.
  2. Micah 6:8 informs us that God has revealed what is good.

The Bible addresses aesthetics.

  1. Up to 40% of the Old Testament involves poetic
  2. Somewhere near 50 chapters of the Pentateuch reveal God’s keen eye for architecture and artistic techniques for His ornate
  3. Also near 50 chapters of the Old Testament are given to the artistic design and creation of Solomon’s Temple.
  4. Ezekiel writes 3 chapters about a third temple.
  5. The Gospels, Paul and John write about the beauty of the earthly and heavenly sanctuary of God.

Let’s consider Exodus 28:2 and 40.

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. Vs. 2

40 “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty.  Vs. 40

Ephesians 2:10 reveals God as the Master Artist and His art form is the human being whose trust is in Jesus for salvation.

We now come to the thesis of today’s presentation.

The Psalmist indicates a need for personal revival in relation to “looking at worthless things.”

Our question today is, “At what might I look that is worth-full?”

The Psalms do not leave us directionless on this vital question.  Consider Psalm 27:1-4

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet[b] I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire[c] in his temple.

In the midst of evildoers who assail him, adversaries and foes, and an army encamped around him, and war arising against him, his ONE THING is to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.

Will you seek to see the beauty of the Lord in Revelation 4 and 5?

Notice the “door standing open” in Revelation 4:1.

Consider God’s miraculous ministry in Acts 3:2.

There is a gate or door through which those who have limited mobility are invited to miraculously travel into a greater experience with the beauty of the Lord.

Today we join the Psalmist and eschew gazing at “worthless things” and join him in gazing at the beauty of the Lord.

Posted on 21st November 2018 in Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
post

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
post

Psalm 119: Personal Revival part 3

Psalm 119: Personal Revival

Wednesday, November 14

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

We have talked about the need for personal revival as seen in verse 25, “my soul clings to the dust,” and as a response, like Isaiah’s in Isaiah 6:5, to the glorious holiness of God.

Now we turn our attention to Psalm 119:37’s emphasis upon our need for revival because we fill our sight, vision, imagination and contemplations with worthless things rather than with the face of God.

Have you considered what we might call “Godly visual nutrition?”

The challenges of consistently eating healthful nutrition are well known.

  1. I don’t know what is healthful and therefore make poor nutritional choices.
  2. I do know what is healthful and therefore make good nutritional choices.
  3. I do know what is healthful but don’t have the discipline to make good nutritional choices.
  4. I do know what is healthful but don’t really seem to care. At all.

Although never called “Godly visual nutrition” in the Bible, the concept is powerful in the lives of both Bible heroes and villains.

Eve and Adam represented all human beings in the battle for “Godly visual nutrition” in their colossal Genesis 3:6 failure.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

David struggled with “Godly Visual Nutrition.”

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 2 Samuel 11:2

Achan lost the battle for “Godly Visual Nutrition.”

21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels,[a]then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” Joshua 7:21

John warns us about ungodly visual nutrition.

16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16

An entry level dimension of “Godly Visual Nutrition” begins with making a covenant with one’s eyes.

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? Job 31:1

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.  Daniel 1:8

A second dimension of “Godly Visual Nutrition” includes consuming NO visual junk food.

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.  Psalm 101:3

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  2 Samuel 11:2

A third dimension of “Godly Visual Nutrition” includes the Word of God.

“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. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.  Proverbs 4:20, 21

A fourth dimension of “Godly Visual Nutrition” is the Person and Presence of God.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.  Psalm 27:4

My soul was stirred significantly by an experience Pastor Francis Chan had with a pastor from India.

“Moses went up the mountain to meet with God.  In our generation God invites every Christian to climb the mountain to personally meet with God.  But American pastors are content to stay at the foot of the mountain and take selfies with celebrities rather than climb the mountain of God themselves.”

We have need of Psalm 119 personal revival because:

  1. Our soul clings to the dust. 25
  2. We have seen the extreme holiness of God. Isaiah 6
  3. We have filled our eyes with worthless things. 37

Lord, turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life in your ways.  Vs. 37

 

Posted on 14th November 2018 in Prayer, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
post

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
post

Psalm 119: Personal Revival, Part 2

Eleven times the Psalmist prays for personal revival.

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Psalm 44:25

For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground.

Psalm 113:7

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

Psalm 103:14

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Personal Revival is anchored, for the Psalmist of verse 25, in “My soul clings to the dust.”

There could be many and various reasons for the Psalmist’s soul to cling to the dust.  “Look at you….”

  • Personal difficulty
  • Depression
  • Disease
  • Strong enemies
  • A guilty conscience

Let us consider a different possibility for you and I to recognize that our “souls cling to the dust.”  Isaiah 6:1-9

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b]

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people:

There is a, “My soul clings to the dust reality,” that comes not from one’s encounter with the self and all of its challenges, but from an experience with God and His holiness.

Here the soul isn’t saying, “Look at you,” the soul has looked and seen God.

We discover Isaiah’s “Woe is me” is similar to the Psalmist’s “My soul clings to the dust.”

May the Lord create in us a longing for personal revival that flows from an experience with God and His holiness.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107             I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Vs. 154            Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Vs. 156             Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

Vs. 159             Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.

Psalm 85

Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.

10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.

Ten Suggestions for a Personal Revival: “The Size of the Soul (Chapter 5)” A.W. Tozer

  1. Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself.
  2. Set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life.
  3. Put yourself in the way of the blessing.
  4. Do a thorough job of repenting.
  5. Make restitution whenever possible.
  6. Bring your life into accord with the Sermon on the Mount and such other New Testament Scriptures as are designed to instruct us in the way of righteousness. (Self-examination made on our knees)
  7. Be serious-minded.
  8. Deliberately narrow your interests.
  9. Begin to witness.
  10. Have faith in God (begin to expect).
Posted on 7th November 2018 in Intentional Spiritual Growth, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
post

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