Posts Tagged ‘ Sermon ’

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 3:16-18

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 3:16-18

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.

Chapter 2 can be called the passage about “bovine scatology”, because priests then (and many now) led people astray with false teachings. So God rebuked them and showed they are outside of the covenant.

Chapter 2 finishes with God rebuking not only the priests but any who practice what God said not to, and leads into chapter 3 in which God calls out those who call evil good and vice versa (which leads to His eventual judgment!)

Chapter 3 is largely about stealing from God, which was equated to not sharing the Gospel or giving the Church (and thus God) a bad name so that others want nothing to do with Jesus. It is like robbing God of souls.

Now, on to discuss the wrath of God:

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

  • God compares the godless with the godly.
    • Contrast v. 15 with vv. 16-18
  • The deeds of the righteous and unrighteous will be easily seen.
    • This was made after most COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted, but riots are erupting around the USA due to police brutality. Minneapolis (the epicenter, based on the death of George Floyd – a black man who did not deserve the treatment he received) has been literally burning.
    • Seeking revenge is not good, nor wishing/inflicting harm on others as retribution.
      • Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35
  • We need to remember we are not fighting people, but powers, principalities, and authorities: a spiritual war. (Ephesians 6:12)
    • It is proper to be angry, but we must not let our anger lead to sinful acts. (Ephesians 4:26)
    • And we need to remember that we are all sinners in need of grace. (Romans 3:23)
  • God’s got this and hears our prayers and laments:
    • Revelation 5:8; 8:1-5
  • God will avenge – not just us, but His reputation:
    • Revelation 20-21
      • 20:12, 15

Message Series: Malachi 3:5-15

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 3:5-15

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.

Chapter 2 can be called the passage about “bovine scatology”, because priests then (and many now) led people astray with false teachings. So God rebuked them and showed they are outside of the covenant.

Chapter 2 finishes with God rebuking not only the priests but any who practice what God said not to, and leads into chapter 3 in which God calls out those who call evil good and vice versa (which leads to His eventual judgment!)

Now, on to discuss stealing from God:

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”

  • God does not change: He is Father, even if we push Him away.
  • The tithes and offerings of ancient Israel went to feeding the Levites and those who served the Temple.
    • To not give offerings and tithes was to say:
      • “God does not need my offering.”
      • “I want the priests to starve.”
      • Breaks both great commandments!
  • Saying “I’m not called to preach or share the gospel” is saying it is vain to serve God.
  • Saying “Everything is so horrible, how can there be a good God?” pushes people from God.
  • Whether atheist or a Christian who refuses to share the Gospel or lives just like the world is also stealing from God:
    • Leading people from God is in essence stealing souls from Him and pushing them to eternal torment.
    • Refusing to tell people the Gospel is stealing souls from Him, because you only seek the benefits of His grace but refuse to share that grace with others (pay for services provided, if you will, such as shopping or eating out but refusing to pay).

Message Series: Malachi 2:10-16

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 2:10-16

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.

Chapter 2 can be called the passage about “bovine scatology”, because priests then (and many now) led people astray with false teachings. So God rebuked them and showed they are outside of the covenant.

Now, God rebukes not only the priests but any who practice what God said not to:

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

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.

Message series: Malachi 1:6-14

[This is a little late. We did some remodeling and cleaning, and I forgot to upload on Saturday night! We have more storage area in our garage and a green bathroom, now, though! And this explains why I look tired in this video. I had worked hard all day!]

It is about time for a short message series.

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 1:6-14

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

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor?

God is our heavenly Father, and today we see evidence that He is not given the honor that is due. But Paul reminded us what the times before Christ’s return would be like in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

This certainly describes much of our world today, even within the Church. But especially seeing as, as a world, we barely acknowledge our heavenly Father, let alone give much honor to our earthly parents. We are too busy seeking our own pleasure and thinking we are right about everything.

But back to Malachi:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.

God was talking to the priests of ancient Israel. But we see polluted offerings today.

We see it in the Prosperity gospel or the so-called New Apostolic Reformation with all of these new apostles and prophets and such who say we should be living our best life now and be healthy, wealthy, and happy. If you are not healthy and wealthy and happy, you have weak faith. It is your own fault for not trusting God enough.

It is these people making claims that “thus saith the Lord” when He has not spoken.

Like what?

Like these preachers and prophets who said the C-19 pandemic (at the time of this message) was going to end by Passover. Here I am two weeks after Passover having seen that it not only is not over but hit its worst days AFTER Passover (in the US, at least, which is what most of these people were talking about).

It is people trying to declare the weather act a certain way, such as Kenneth Copeland declaring a heatwave to kill the virus … and a cold snap hitting the very next day. Nationwide.

These are people claiming to be speaking for God, when they make false prophecies and have no actual power. This is blasphemy and taking the Lord’s Name in vain.

It can also be seen in a too-close, buddying up with politics.

It is saying “Our party is the Christian party” or “the Republican party is the party of Christianity.” It is saying that God is not only okay with such-and-such a thing but endorses it, such as saying abortion and gay marriage are godly acts.

I just stepped on the toes of Republicans and Democrats, but they are far from alone in this.

When we let our politics influence our faith, instead of the other way around, we put forth an offering polluted by the world. [Our religion should influence our politics, though!]

Back to Malachi:

And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

Costi Hinn – Benny Hinn’s nephew – worked for his uncle’s ministry. However, he “shut the doors” by walking away from that ministry. Today, he is a pastor – in the Reformed tradition – and speaks out against his uncle’s ministry and other Prosperity Gospel, the NAR, and other hyper-charismatic ministries.

Both in ancient Israel and today, we have horrible sacrifices and offerings.

Today we see churches offering Mountain Dew and Doritos or beer and chips as “communion” so that their congregants can partake of the elements no matter what they have around. Or they change who the communion is done toward while using skittles and iced tea.

Churches say “gay marriage” is okay, when the Bible forbids it.

Churches say “No matter what you believe or how you live, why don’t you lead this bible study or lead this ministry … or become ordained and lead a church.” No repentance nor confirmation of beliefs.

God was not happy with sacrifices and offerings when Israelites offered lame and sick sacrifices.

God is not happy when we offer teachings and leaders that are contrary to His Word.

But there is good news! (And you probably know where this is going …)

God offered the ultimate sacrifice in our place when He offered His own Son, Jesus Christ for the atonement of our sins.

Jesus was the perfect, unblemished sacrifice.

He endured violence, but it was to redeem our violent nature by being beaten and killed on our behalf. He suffered death at our own hands to redeem our actions and make us holy as He is holy by washing us in His blood.

Our sacrifices and offerings have never been good enough. So He offered Himself.

And all we have to do is believe that and let the Holy Spirit change us to be more like the Son.

And this is the good news that will spread His fame throughout the nations, a pure offering of praise made by His redeemed, as we make His Name known.

And one day, Jesus is returning to renew the world. And all who live on this planet will worship Him.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Next week, we get into chapter 2!

Message series: Malachi 1:1-5

It is about time for a short message series.

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 1:1-5

A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

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

There is nothing new being said today from over two thousand years ago. People are still asking about the existence a good, loving God. People are still claiming God would never cause a calamity or leave people to suffer, especially for eternity.

But why should God help people who want nothing to do with Him?

Why would God force people into heaven if they want nothing to do with Him?

We must remember that the difference between God’s love and hate for us is that His love is given to those who take it, and those who hate Him remain under His wrath.

It is our own fault if we do not receive God’s love.

Palm Sunday Sermon 2020 – Worship Without Understanding

I preached, again! And this time, THERE’S VIDEO!

Because this is in the middle of the C-19 pandemic, so we are not supposed to meet in person.

And a reminder that the notes below are merely my notes, not every word I said in the video!

There is also mention of the children’s lesson based on this sermon that Caitlin recorded earlier!

Read Matthew 21:1-11 before starting:

The Triumphal Entry

21 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!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Palm Sunday 2020 (The Church Next Door) – Matthew 21:1-11 – Worshiping Without Understanding

Imagine being a 1st Century Jew. 

  • A hostile government 
  • Foreign soldiers walking the streets 
  • Turncoats siding with the hostile government (tax collectors, joining the army)
  • Weak and compromising leadership 

And here comes Jesus, the one everyone is calling the Savior of Israel! Finally! Someone to throw out the Romans and restore Israel to greatness! Here is a great prophet and king! Save us! 

And then there is Jesus. He knows our expectations, but he subverts them. He knows our longings, but He has His purpose. 

Triumphal Entry: Celebration 
“God has come to do what we expect!” 

But the cross … Not what we expected. 
“In this world you will have trouble …” (John 16:33) 

Triumphal Entry: Worship 
Christ still receives worship, even amidst our misunderstanding. 

So, the cross … Shows us why He can accept. 
So, we should show grace to our brothers & sisters in error of understanding. 

January 17: Took Caitlin to the airport, stopped at a favorite coffee shop. 
Was updating the owner about my 10-month-old nephew being hospitalized with Hand Foot Mouth, Pneumonia, RSV, and other stuff. 
Customer asks if has gotten better, and I mentioned that as a Christian I believe all of the prayers helped get him home on Christmas night. 
Oops. Angry atheist. If any god exists, he “royally ****** up with humans. So you probably believe he made your nephew sick, which means he’s evil! If anyone helped your nephew it was the doctors.” 

I went from celebrating my God for healing my nephew to getting attacked for my faith. 

But I had a peaceful calm the moment this man blew up. And, how come our world is so messed up? “Short answer: sin. God gave us free will, and we choose to mess up this world by rejecting Him. But He plans on fixing it one day.” 
I did not get to share the full gospel with this man, but he respected meeting a Christian not afraid to tackle the hard questions. God gave me His grace to peaceably talk with a hostile man, calm him down, and even get a “It was nice talking with you! Have a nice day!” as he left. 

Why? 

Because I celebrated, without knowing what was coming. (But I also put in the groundwork of worshiping with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, studying the Word and answers people have provided.) 

But because of what did come over the week after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem – the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus – I could still worship Him by loving one who hates Him. 

Think back to those worshiping on Palm Sunday: (Matthew 21:11) “This is the prophet Jesus.” 
They see Lazarus – the man who was dead just a week earlier! – and think of Elijah and Elisha raising women’s sons. 
They see the donkey, and they think of Zechariah 9:9 prophesying the King coming on a donkey, and then probably skipped ahead to Zechariah 14: (vv. 1-5)

Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Here comes the King, on the Mount of Olives, to fight off the invaders and restore our nation! Especially with the other events of the week: 

  • Clearing the Temple with zeal for God’s house 
  • Rebuking and shaming the Pharisees and Sadducees 
  • Celebrating the Passover, the first time a mighty prophet led Israel out of subjugation into freedom 

But our Lord does not meet their expectations. What else happened that week? 
The arrest. 
The abuse. 
The crucifixion. 

No one saw it coming. (Even with Jesus’ own warnings!) 

If only they had continued reading in Zechariah [14:6-9]:

On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

When coupled with Daniel 9:24, 
“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place
we see that the Messiah would bring an end to sin and then establish His worldwide, eternal Kingdom. 

So, on Palm Sunday, we are reminded of three things: 

  1. Jesus accepts our worship, even when we misunderstand and believe wrongly about Him. 
    1. So, we need to show grace to those we disagree with. 
      1. The disciples did not understand that this King was going to die in just a few days time, and it caused them to scatter. (Self-isolate?) And Jesus still loved them!
    2. There are many who teach things wrongly, but they may still be our brothers and sisters. 
    3. Though, just as Jesus rebuked and shamed the leadership in His day, we must watch for and correct false teachings. 
      1. If the teachers repent, awesome! 
      2. If not, then we distance ourselves from them. 
    4. NOT EVERYTHING WE DISAGREE WITH IS NECESSARILY FALSE TEACHING! 
      1. Look at George Whitefield and John Wesley: a Calvinist and an Arminian who were dear brothers in Christ. 
  2. We worship and celebrate God without knowing everything that is coming. 
    1. The disciples did not understand that this King was going to die in just a few days time, and it caused them to scatter. (Self-isolate?) But it led to our salvation from sin! 
    2. Palm Sunday during C-19 Pandemic 
      1. Didn’t see it coming, but look at us trusting our Lord and meeting in innovative ways (such as Zoom!) 
    3. We know God leads us through hard things, and we rejoice and share the Gospel. (2 Corinthians 5 – Ambassadors for Christ sharing the message of reconciliation and peace) 
      1. Just as I was ready with an answer for an angry atheist, we are all commanded to be ready to give a reasoned defense for the faith that is within us, especially when bad/hard things happen (1 Peter 3:14-15). 
  3. We remember that our King shall return triumphantly to institute His eternal Kingdom! 
    1. Jesus warned (yes, warned!) and promised us He will return. 
      1. He was the gentle lamb in His ministry, but He is returning as a strong Lion and conquering King! 
    2. We need not imagine what ancient Israelites thought about our coming King. The book of Revelation shows us that God’s wrath will be poured out on the entire earth, all of Creation will be renewed through fire, and His eternal Kingdom shall be established as heaven and Earth become one. [READ Revelation 22:1-7, 20-21] 

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

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

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Topical message: The God Who … Slays?

If you are unable to attend a church at this time, may this short message help get you through. Obviously, it is preferable to get together to sing praises, pray, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached.

Regardless, may this message be a blessing to you in some way.

Topical Message: The God Who … Slays?

I guess we can consider this part two of the C-19 response series.

Last time we looked at whether the church staying apart during something like a pandemic is biblically okay. (Basically, yes, though far from ideal.)

This time, I am going to tackle one of those difficult questions: Does God send various calamities – such as C-19, locusts, earthquakes, and famines – against people, nations, and various groups?

There are two passages to consider.

The first is found in Luke 13:1-5:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The other passage is Amos 4:6-10:

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. “I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

“I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. “I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

So, what do these two passages tell us?

  1. Sometimes people really deserve what they get! But they do not always get what they deserve, at least in this life;
  2. And sometimes God does send war, famine, pestilence, and pain as judgment.

We should talk about this.

Let’s start with that second point: God sending these things. We see through Amos and the other Old Testament accounts that God sent the plagues on Egypt (Amos 4:10), and we know long before that He sent the flood waters in the time of Noah. Further, we get to the Revelation at the end of the Bible, and we see that God’s wrath is literally poured out on the entire Earth because they have rejected God.

And of course, we see the highlight of the whole Bible, when God’s wrath was poured out on the Man on the cross. This points back to the first point: people do not always get what they deserve. As Christians, we appreciate this, because we know that humanity deserves God’s wrath and judgment. Yet, we do not get what we deserve thanks to God’s grace poured out to us through the cross.

But what about the rest of the world?

In the Luke passage, we see that Pontius Pilate deserved punishment from God by mixing the blood of Galileans in with the sacrifices. Yet, he lived much of his life in relative comfort. Conversely, those Galileans and the eighteen killed by the tower falling did not necessarily do anything wrong.

This brings up two other quick points:

  1. Is it so bad to die? If we are true followers of Christ, no! As Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:
    For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
    So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

    So, for those apart from Christ, it is bad to die, because they still face judgment and wrath. But we Christians await judgment and glory with Christ.

    And, we must also recognize, God is our Creator. As Romans 9 reminds us, who are we to question the Potter? Just as we may create something – say, a bowl – and then throw it away later, why can’t our Creator do the same? Compared to God, we are nothing: clay. Yet, He still chooses to save us or let us reject Him. Which leads to …
  2. The other point is that God may not directly send these things, but He does allow them.

Make no mistake. God is still in complete control. He lets natural processes play out. And we may ask why, because, if He is all-powerful (omnipotent), then He can stop these things from happening.

But as I have said numerous times, if people keep saying they want nothing to do with God, that they push Him away and call Him evil, why should He stop these things or protect them from these things? We know God can control illnesses (Plagues in Egypt, Exodus 7-12), the movements of the Earth (see Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16) and the weather (Noah’s flood in Genesis 6-9 and Elijah’s praying for rain in 1 Kings 17-18), and even the Sun’s motion (Joshua 10). He can stop these things from happening or getting worse, but the majority of the world’s population says, “We don’t need you!” Then they blame Him for those things!

So, now that we know God does send some things and allows others, how do we respond?

We can blame God for all the problems in this world and fear what will happen to us in this life. And then the life to come.

Or we can remember that we live in a rebellious world, fallen into chaos because of our own (collective) sin, and that God is still in control. It is not pleasant to suffer, and I will not judge anyone for fearing that suffering. But we can rest in the hope that the One who suffered for our sins on the cross has promised He is coming again, and we will be with Him in comfort and joy for all eternity.

Therefore, believe that Jesus was the perfect man and Son of God, who saw us in our sin and rebellion but came to offer us grace and forgiveness by dying on the cross for our forgiveness of sin, that He rose again to life, and that He now sits at the right hand of the Father until He comes again. Then, you can know you will escape the final judgment of the Earth.

Topical message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

If you are unable to attend a church at this time, may this short message help get you through. Obviously, it is preferable to get together to sing praises, pray, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached.

Regardless, may this message be a blessing to you in some way.

Topical Message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

At the time of making this, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. School and business closures, self-quarantining, limited numbers of people allowed to gather, and “social-distancing” (staying at least six feet apart) are affecting all of us. It can be difficult, problematic, and even annoying (especially seeing the empty shelves at the store.)

Many people are talking about even churches being told to stop services, which has led some to be concerned about regularly meeting, some to complain, and some to say this is a government overreach.

We should talk about these.

Firstly, we must ask ourselves, “What about the admonition in Hebrews 10:23-25 to keep meeting together?”

This is a valid point. We do live in the age of the internet, making it easier to have church together at a distance. (Look at this, right here!) My little church, The Church Next Door, is holding Zoom services for the next few weeks, because we meet in a school building, now closed by state mandate. Even if we wanted to keep meeting, it is not our building. So we have another option.

And, yes, as Christians, we have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), but we are also commanded to watch over the sick (Matthew 25:31-46). It would be irresponsible of us to put others in danger by bringing together those who may be sick with those who are more susceptible.

Secondly, this seems an inconvenience, fearmongering, and unbiblical to live in the fear of a virus or other illness.

These things are an inconvenience. There indeed has been a lot of fearmongering and irresponsible behavior by many people on almost all sides of this pandemic. We can debate many of them later, if you wish! However, it is not necessarily fearmongering to say we should do what we can to avoid spreading an illness. In fact, it actually is biblical quarantine and separate.

Leviticus 13:1-8:
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean. But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up for another seven days. And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the eruption spreads in the skin, after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again before the priest. And the priest shall look, and if the eruption has spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprous disease.

What does this mean for us?

Simply, God established the precedent for this sort of quarantining and self-isolation. It keeps others from contracting an illness, and it helps us to see whether or not someone actually has the disease or illness that could affect others. The current C-19 scare is absolutely being handled in a biblical way through the leadership demanding isolation and closing things down.

But, thirdly, isn’t this government overreach?

In some regards, maybe. But as just discussed, not necessarily. Again, we can debate some of this later, but (and you probably are expecting this one) we also need to remember Romans 13’s admonition to obey our governments, and Peter’s similar reminder to honor the national leader and leading institutions (1 Peter 2:13-25). Even if they are “not my president” or from a different political party or even despicable, deplorable humans, they have been put in power.

And, again, as stated before, as Christians it is our duty to obey within reason as we love our neighbor to God’s glory – including being physically separated for a time.

It is okay. It is not necessarily a sin.

And we are able to virtually meet for a time in our modern, technological world.

In the meantime, do what you can to help each other in such difficult times. Share your goods, as possible. (Especially if you, quite bluntly, sinfully hoarded toilet paper. SHARE WITH THOSE WHO MAY NEED IT!) Offer to meet other needs by running errands for each other. Call each other on the phone. Send e-mails and texts to each other to encourage and fight loneliness.

Most importantly, pray for each other, our communities, our nation, and our world.

Whether this is the end of the world or not (*wink wink*), we still have the command to love God, to love each other, and to go into all the world (even virtually) making disciples and teaching them to obey all Christ has commanded us.

And He is with us always, to the end. Trust Him. Turn to Christ in faith, especially if you have not trusted Him as your Lord and Savior. There may literally never be a better time.