Posts Tagged ‘ Pandemic ’

Sermon: What is Life? – 1 Peter 2:1-12

I preached again!

This was a tough one. I rewrote it several times, including overnight Saturday/Sunday.

I kept it light, naturally, only discussing the Gospel, the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and the presidential election season.

Light.

(I was so exhausted afterward!)

Give it a listen (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

What is life? (1 Peter 2:1-12)

Read 2:1-12

What is life?

Not so much “what makes a thing living,” but who is living? How do we live? What does it look like to have a life?

What life?

Earlier in my life, I discovered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

  • Love them.
  • Working at the school, money tight, often had these for lunch. Still had days longing for a PB&J. And a glass of milk (or carton from the cafeteria!)
  • What does this have to do with life?

Read 2:2-3: Spiritual milk

Even having PB&J most days, I still craved it.

  • Do we do that with God’s Word?
  • Have you tasted that the Lord is good?

V. 1 gives a list of things this life offers (read/explain v. 1)

  • An earthly mind is focused on such.
  • What is life?
    • Focused on hate, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander?
    • Or on God’s love?

Vv. 4-8:

All of this poetic language from Isaiah and Psalm 118 spoke of Israel, but found it’s fulfillment in Christ.

Israel built the Temple in Jerusalem, but they rejected the first living stone. And what is Christ this first stone, the cornerstone, part of? The Church!

The Church is about community. God’s community. It is built on the love God showed through Jesus.

God created life: Genesis 1-2, especially 2:7: the Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

Yet, Genesis 3, we took this life and decided to go our own way. And all of us – every single human since then, save Christ – has done our own thing: we have broken God’s Law of loving Him and other people. And though we mock and revile our Creator, He came down to us in the person of Jesus Christ to take the mocking, reviling, and violence in person. He took on human life to offer that life as a payment for our disobedience, our sin.

And three days later, He brought Himself back to life, and He lives forever, seated at the right hand of the Father.

This is the Cornerstone: the God-Man who gave up His life to give us a life of community, fellowship, with Him and each other for eternity. We make up the new Temple, not of stones that can wear down, but of our bodies which will one day be glorified.

And all we need to do is believe this truth of who He is.

But others reject Him still.

Listen to those who say Christianity is a fairytale.

Listen to those who say the Church has done nothing good for this world.

Listen to those who call Christianity the religion of white people.

Danger Warning: This is where things get tough, even confrontational.

Look at our world:

  • An election year. (If you disagree with my candidate, you’re stupid and wrong!)
  • A global pandemic, with anxiety and fear being peddled daily in our newsfeeds and on social media. (And we will find a cure, no god needed. ~NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo)
    • We can debate the threat, masks, and statistics later!
  • Racial tensions higher than they have been for decades. #BlackLivesMatter
    • We must realize the cry here:
      • The organized movement: Anti-Christian
        • Anti-nuclear family
        • Anti-marriage
        • Anti-biblical definition of gender/sexuality
        • Pro-choice (abortion)
        • Pro-socialism/communism
        • Pro-pluri-religiosity
      • The average person (yes, most protesting):
        • Sees systemic racism (yes, it is actually real)
        • Sees a society that seemingly doesn’t care
        • Sees a discrepancy in how people are treated

How then do we live? What is life?

Vv. 9-12

We all agree that “all lives matter.” (In this room, at least) We don’t want people to die needlessly.

  • If we are fixated on, even fearful of where this country is headed because of the next election, if we get offended (heated discussion/argument) over how certain elected officials are destroying our country, if we know “those people are idiots who only want to undermine our society” (and notice I never said “Republicans” or “Democrats”, but if you thought of one or the other …)

    … are you trusting and believing in our sovereign God who instituted our government? Are you building that community based on God’s love?
  • Does wearing a mask in certain places affect your salvation? Does it affect your eternal life?

    What about the life of someone outside of the Church?

    What if all they see is someone ranting about how they don’t need to wear a mask, because even if they die they know where they are going?

    What if they are afraid of dying, and someone basically waves off that fear “for personal freedom?

    Is that respectful and loving?
  • Do black lives matter?

    Are we hearing the cries of a lost world or pushing our own understanding of life on others?

What is life?

We know that we are all one race: descended from Adam. There is only one human race.

But we are only united in Christ.

There is enough malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander in the world.

We are [vv. 9-10]

We are kings and queens. We are priests, administering the sacraments of love, peace, hope, and faith to a lost and hurting world.

And how did our High Priest King do that?

Philippians 2:5-8

What is life?

For the rest of the world, we see it playing out every day.

For the Christian, [Philippians 2:12-16]

We follow in our Lord’s footsteps, humbly serving our fellow image-bearers out of the love given to us by God through His Holy Spirit. Not grumbling and complaining about how unfair, unjust, and unsavory our world is, but showing compassion, humility, and faithfulness to God’s Word.

Our life is not our own. It was bought with the most important life. Grumbling and complaining and pointing fingers tears apart, but we have been tasked to help build the living Temple of God, the Body of Christ, the Church.

We are His. We belong to Christ. And we draw closer to Him by reading His Word, abiding His Word, and living out His Word in our everyday lives.

Life is only truly found in Christ.

Message Series: Malachi 2:1-9

It is about time for a short message series.

For the past few weeks and over the next couple of months, I will upload short messages based on the book of Malachi. It will probably be eight total and based on the section divisions in the English Standard Version of the Bible.

No special titles. Just taking a quick look at what was said.

So read along with me, and let us study what Malachi said to his people about 2,400 years ago.

Malachi 2:1-9

Remember that Malachi literally means “my messenger”, so he is God’s messenger, as all the Prophets were.

Chapter 1 was about God’s love for His covenant people – those who obey and love Him – versus those who refuse to listen to Him. The priests offered lame, sick, and injured animals as sacrifices, basically taking the Lord’s name in vain by calling it acceptable even though they were worthless gifts.

Now, God rebukes those priests:

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

From verse three we see a reference to Exodus 29:14, that the sacrificial bull’s flesh, skin, and dung were to be taken out of the camp to be burned as an offering.

The unclean parts were taken away from God’s community of people and burned.

The priests were supposed to be keep/teach the life, peace, and fear of the Lord.

Naturally, our Perfect Priest – the teacher and source of life and peace – is Jesus.

Keep in mind: Malachi was written about 430 years before John the Baptist and Jesus came on the scene. He was the last prophet for 430 years, and he lived about 100 years after the end of the Exile and about the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah.

And the priesthood was already falling back into the old patterns that led to the Exile in the first place …

TODAY

We now see the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the hyper-charismatic movement – with people like Kenneth Copeland, Bill Johnson (and the Bethel Church at Redding, CA, leadership and friends), IHOP (Prayer, not Pancakes) with Mike Bickle and friends – who look good at first. They perform many signs and wonders and say we need Jesus, right? They say that Jesus is the Son of God, right?

I mean – we could say – doesn’t 1 John 2:23 say, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also“?

But Jesus (and Paul, Peter, and John, including from the passage just quoted) warn about coming antichrists. “Christ” means “anointed one”, and Jesus warned about the last days in Matthew 24:23-36:

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

Almost all of these modern “apostles” and “prophets” and teachers, especially at IHOP, say we should be seeking Jesus in the inner prayer rooms. In and of themselves, prayer rooms are not bad.

However, these people teach that we can be little christs (Yes, I know “christian” means “little christ”!), that we can receive special anointings (“I am the anointed of the Lord,” they say) and perform mighty signs and wonders.

Yet they also teach things like Jesus being the first to be born again, that He did not become the Son of God until [baptism, resurrection, ascension], that we can do literally everything Jesus can because we have His authority to do whatever.

They teach we should all learn to heal people and prophesy.

These are the the people who in March 2020 declared and prophesied that the C-19 virus would not lead to a pandemic, that it would be done by Passover, that a mighty south wind would bring a heatwave (Kenneth Copeland) to kill the virus (literally the day before a days-long cold snap hit the US).

C-19 proved they are all false prophets and teachers.

Some try to claim that a wrong prophecy merely means they got it wrong, that they are not necessarily false prophets. Yet Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says that if someone prophesies and it does not come true, they are a FALSE PROPHET. (And there are more passages.)

These people are not teaching truth. The prophesy life and peace, but they are at best deceived and at worst liars.

And God said in verse 3 that they have the dung of their pathetic offerings all over their faces. They are to be taken out of God’s community and burned.

Do not follow them, or you will follow them to the same eternal destination. (NOT with Jesus!)

As verses 8-9 tell us, God curses their offspring (in this context, those who follow them and even teach others the same things), and they are despised and abased before all people. They have been proven false teachers, prophets, and apostles.

Do not follow them.

Turn to the authority of Jesus Christ who commands us to go into all nations making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all He has commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Follow Jesus.

Test everything I have said (and they teach) with the Word of God.

Topical Children’s Lesson: Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1-11

This is still happening online because of the current mandate for isolation for the C-19 pandemic.

As I, Daniel, am preaching for Palm Sunday, my lovely other-half, Caitlin – who is our Children’s Director at the Church Next Door – recorded a related lesson! Therefore, instead of my wonky mug, you can see her lovely face this week!

So, gather up the kiddos (or enjoy this at any age), and enjoy the collab between a youth pastor and children’s director:

Questions to consider:

Have you had to change your thinking about something? Think of a time you thought you knew what your parents or your friends were doing, but you were wrong.

Even when you have been wrong, did your family still love you? Did you change your mind or make different choices when you found out the truth?

Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus is the Son of God, God’s only Son by birth.

He was coming to save us from our sin, but how did the people see Him?

On the first Palm Sunday, when the people laid down palm branches for this king they had been expecting, they had no idea what his real mission was.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

They saw:

  • A king coming to change the government
  • A leader kicking out the bad army
  • A prophet, a person who speaks God’s word, making God’s house great again.

Look at verse 11 (read again), here comes Jesus, the one everyone is calling the Savior of Israel! Finally! Here is a great prophet and king like Moses or David! He will save us!

The people expected Jesus to change the government, kick out the bad army, and make Israel God’s country, again. He did kick out the businesses selling in the Temple. And He corrected the teachers for teaching the Bible wrong.

And then Jesus, knowing what the people expected of Him, did something unexpected. He was arrested, beaten up, and killed on a cross.

They did not understand that Jesus had to save us from our sins before He stopped all the bad guys.

Remember, Jesus took everyone’s punishment for sin by giving His life, and He gives us righteousness. That does not mean he will remove all of our problems now, but He will provide the solution.

And Jesus our Prophet, speaking the word of God, did promise that His first triumphal entry into Jerusalem was not His last. He is coming back to change the world and stop all of the bad things from happening forever. And we will be with Him forever on a new Earth.

Today is Palm Sunday, everyone, and our King is coming!

Memory verse:

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Revelation 22:20

Video Lesson: Holy Cow! Heifers & Cleanliness

We are getting close to the Passover time of year! How fitting that we are currently in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic at the time of posting this!

Why? Because the Passover started during … THE 10 PLAGUES ON EGYPT!

Even why-er? Because we are talking about keeping clean!

You should read Numbers 19 before reading/listening to this lesson.

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

What can we do to be clean? (Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually)

What is a heifer (heffer), and what is so significant about red?

Is there a purpose to sacrifices and blood offerings?

How can we deal with isolation from community? [Bonus for C-19: How are we handling isolation from each other during crisis?]

Now, to the big question of the day:

What does a sacrificial cow have to do with the Church?

Holy Cow! Heifers & Cleanliness
Numbers 19

We are continuing to look at the importance of Passover.

What is a red heifer?
A female cow that is reddish-brown (the word “red” comes from the same root for “man” in Hebrew, thus “earth-colored”)

How rare are red heifers?
Not too rare, but a perfect sacrificial red heifer must be at least 3 years old and must not have more than 2 or 3 white/black hairs nor any blemishes/disfigurements, never worked (even to have a person lean on it), and never been with a bull (no babies!)

The heifer is to be taken outside of the camp/city, slaughtered, then burned completely. While burning, cedarwood, hyssop, and a red (scarlet) yarn will be thrown in. Then, (vv. 17-19) the ashes are collected to be mixed with fresh/living (flowing) water into a container, and hyssop will be dipped in this ashy water to sprinkle the home and people who have sinned by touching a dead body. Those who refuse to be cleansed are cast out of the community (v. 20).

And this means what to me?

From our birth, we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV)

Therefore, we all have been constantly in contact with dead bodies our entire lives.

So we now turn to Hebrews 9:11-22 (ESV).

Hebrews 9 is all about our Great High Priest who offered the ultimate sacrifice.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

How does this all connect with the Passover?

Jesus was crucified at Passover. Also, just as the blood of a lamb was painted over the doors of the Israelites and protected them from death the night before they were allowed to leave Egypt, we escape God’s wrath and judgment of eternal death.

Just as the blood protected those who obeyed, those who did not lost their firstborn, similarly, if we are sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit mixed with the sacrifice made outside of the city – of God’s firstborn, Jesus’ body and blood – we are made clean of our living in death, while those who do not believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection can not be included in the House of God, the Church.

Back in Hebrews 9:23-28:

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 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. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Jesus is our holy cow. (Not to be confused with the Hindu idea of holy cows, and this is not blasphemous, because …) The red heifer and all other sacrificial rites were mere shadows of the work of Christ.

If we refuse to believe that Jesus was the perfect human sacrifice, that He died and rose again, we cannot be made clean and therefore enter God’s community, the Body of Christ, the Church – eternal life.

But if we believe, we are made clean of our sin and death and enter eternal life by grace through faith in the Son of God who redeemed us by His blood.

A Quick Update (amid C-19)

Hello, world

If you are reading, firstly, thanks for reading my blog! Seriously. I appreciate it greatly.

Secondly, our church elders had a meeting this fine Monday evening to discuss how we are responding to this little crisis. It looks like we will be attempting a digital church service. The details are not completely ironed out, yet, but we are close.

But all of this has got me thinking about this platform, so I had an idea:

On top of what The Church Next Door is doing, I was also planning on creating video lessons for my youth and possibly for our childrens ministry. I will probably be sharing the youth lessons through the YouTube channel. My idea, though, was to ask my readers if there was any interest in short recorded sermons that I could upload here (via YouTube, probably) for those stuck at home at this time (and, by natural extension, for any time in the future).

So, world on the internet reading this blog, are you interested?

If so, leave a comment. Or send over an e-mail to Together@asimplemanofgod.com letting me know or with suggestions.

This is also a good time to remind you that if you have any questions, prayer requests, or other needs, you can e-mail those, too. You can also follow a simple man of God on Facebook to get the updates from here and whatever I write on Proverbial Thought.

No matter what, though, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10, ESV)

Daniel