Posts Tagged ‘ The Church Next Door ’

Sermon: The Story of a Girl – Ruth 3

I preached again!

Thr little book of Ruth always gets me emotional, and I did struggle through this message.

Below are my notes, and remember that they are just notes. I add stuff as I preach!

The Story of a Girl – Ruth 3

Romance Stories

Hollywood and book publishers love telling us about love.
We get stories about how boy and girl find each other, they fall in love, often they sleep together, then they decide they want to be together forever.

In other words, “Yeah, relationships are great, but let us tell you how it’s done, even if it gets a little spicy, and especially if it helps you get over your old-fashioned, out-dated morals.”

The majority of TV shows and movies not only suggest but even promote “test driving” before marrying – if marriage is even necessary.

[Personal story]

But what of a truly good romance?

The story of a girl

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

Ruth 3:1-5, ESV

The relationship these two women have is wonderful.

[Personal story]

Would Naomi have truly slipped into full bitterness without her daughter-in-law? “What else do I have to live for? I am too old to have more children. God has forsaken me. I have nothing.

Maybe you have felt this way, like nothing right happens in your life, whether for a season or your whole life. Maybe you get stuck seeing the bad more than you see the good, like when the president you didn’t vote for is elected or it looks like World War III could happen. Is there any good left in the world? Does anything good ever happen?

You need a faithful friend, one who can remind you of the good and help you find your way back home.

After all, Ruth means “compassionate friend.”

For now, Naomi has a focus: find a way to continue her husband’s lineage, help Ruth find a husband.

And it sounds like the advice she gives is scandalous: privately go to him and lay down near him at night. But we know we are dealing with honorable people.

A girl before a boy … er … man

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”

Ruth 3:6-13, ESV

It is likely the end of the barley harvest, so the men are celebrating. It might even be close to Passover – this is the time of the barley harvest, after all. The women who have gleaned may have been invited, as well, not making it strange for a woman to be present.

Regardless, after a festive evening, Boaz lays down near a pile of barley. The farmer protects his investment, sleeping at the harvest field until the goods are stored.
Ruth does as she was told and finds him, uncovers his feet, an lays down. Many times in the Bible “feet” are an allusion to … the reproductive organs. But, like said, these are honorable, God-fearing people. It just means feet! She folds back the hem of his robe that he is using as a blanket.

This is not a modern romance story.

Maybe it was uncovering his feet, or laying down a little too noisily, or maybe one of his workers suddenly snored a little too loudly, but Boaz awakes at midnight to find Ruth laying at his feet.

She takes the posture of a servant – property, someone not worthy of his attention. Humble. Contrite.

Yet, she is bold. She asks for his protection. Not just a safe place to glean some food, but “cover me with your own clothes, feed me with your own plate. Only you can elevate me from nothing to something.”

I think of a woman over 1200 years later. A woman who does not try to cover herself with the hem of a robe, but she merely tries to touch the hem of a robe. A different Redeemer. One whose hem not only protects, but heals. (Luke 8:43-48)

I think of a story that Redeemer shares, of two men: one a Pharisee who brags to God about how righteous he is, and a tax collector who humbly laments his sin and knows of only One who can elevate him from despair to salvation. (Luke 18:9-14)

Just like these two with Jesus, Boaz shows grace and kindness, calling her daughter and blessing her.

We see here he admits to being older. As a redeemer, he would have to be a brother to the deceased (which obviously, he is not Ruth’s brother-in-law), a cousin, or even an uncle. It is likely that he is either an uncle or older cousin, and the other redeemer is a closer cousin. Perhaps he was Elimilech’s cousin, and this other man is Elimilech’s nephew or even brother. Regardless, Boaz is not that young, at least as old as Naomi. Ruth is probably 16-25 (remember that Naomi and her sons lived in Moab for 10 years!) Boaz could be as old as 80 (tradition holds that died soon after Obed was born.)

It reminds me of a Redeemer who is called our Everlasting Father.

We also see that this kindness is greater than the first. Which first kindness?

Probably that a young woman forsake her home for her mother-in-law. A young woman who worked hard to take care of someone she was barely related to. A young woman who could have looked for a “young stud” who could take care of all of her needs.

But she’s still thinking of her mother-in-law as well as her own needs.
But he promises to make sure she is taken care of, even if it could potentially look like some impropriety may have happened (but tries to minimize that appearance.)

Which reminds me of a man who tried to look out for a girl who claimed God gave her a child.

Which reminds me of a Man who made sure His mother was cared for, even as He died on a cross for crimes He did not commit.

But Boaz is not done yet.

A story of hope for a girl

So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’ ” She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”

Ruth 3:14-18, ESV

Boaz means “swiftness”.

He makes sure they are awake before dawn. He provides food for her to take home. This is both a sign to Naomi that he will handle this situation – “Don’t worry, Naomi” – while also ensuring both women are cared for.

Then, as we see in the next chapter, he goes straight out, finds ten men to witness, and finds the other redeemer to get it settled … swiftly.

The Story. Of a Girl.

In the beginning, was a girl. She was tempted with evil, and her husband did not protect her as he should.

There was a girl, whose husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law all died, but she found a man who would protect and care for her.

There was a girl, who found a man, and gave birth to the Son of Man.

There is a girl. She felt abandoned. She also abandoned. But her Redeemer came for her. Provided for her. Saved her.

This girl is the Church. She is all the redeemed. She is all of the saints of God who humbly … boldly approach the Redeemer, knowing they are unworthy of attention, not even worthy to be a slave, but seek His mercy, His grace.

As we approach this Passover, this Resurrection Sunday, may we faithfully glean from the sown Word of God – sown by the faithful writers and fellow servants, sown by the our very Redeemer. May we seek the favor of our Redeemer, knowing He has been faithful and has redeemed us.

All we need do is ask.

This life may be hard. We may face our struggles, our hurts, our disappointments. We may fail, feel abandoned or lost.

But we have a Redeemer. One who provides for us and protects us.

We, the Church, are His Bride. He longs to be with us.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Revelation 19:6-8, ESV

He has given us work to do. We glean from His Word and carry it home, and to our neighbors, sharing His bounty with those around us.

How do we say it around here? What is the vision, the mission statement of The Church Next Door?

Live a full life in Jesus and bring others along for the ride.

As the Bible puts it in Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV):

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””

This is the greatest love story.

Ruth and Boaz were just a picture of it, a vision of a simple story of a girl.

We are a part of the Greatest Story: The Story of the Redeemed in Christ.

Sermon: Going Forward – John 21:15-22

I preached again!

It is an end-of-the-year message, that deals with Christmas, our past, our present, and moving toward the future.

As usual, here are my notes. Remember that I do not necessarily stick strictly to the notes.

Going Forward

John 21:15-22

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

A Christmas Carol

One of my favorite stories of all time (after the Bible) is “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.Every year we watch through many iterations, and I make sure to re-read the short story.

It is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old man whose business partner has been dead for years, his estranged nephew still tries to invite him over for Christmas, but Christmas and everything about it is “humbug.”

Is it strange that I like a story about a man who talks with charity collectors about the poor going to work in workhouses or in prison? That when prompted with “many would rather die,” ol’ Scrooge replies, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Why do I love this story so?

Because, Scrooge is visited by three spirits – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet-To-Come – who remind him of his more jolly past, how he has affected people in his present, and the future he faces if he does not change. And they do it all in a single night, before the morning of Christmas.At the end, he pleads with the final spirit: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year!”And what about after that? “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well.”

But Christmas has passed for us. What is Christmas about?

Jesus!

We know that Jesus came into the world, and we celebrate His first coming at Christmas time.

And how much like Scrooge can we be? How much do we focus on our wants and needs in this life without looking after those around us? Hating others and wanting what they have rather than wanting the best for them?

Where else do we see such pettiness?

Peter

In our passage, we see a man talking with His Lord who is no mere spirit or ghost. This is Jesus who barely a month earlier was crucified for our sins, yet He is alive!

And what does Jesus have to say to Peter?

  • Do you love me?
  • Do you love me?
  • Do you love me?

Why does Jesus ask Peter this three times?

We remember before the crucifixion that it was Peter who denied His Lord three times:

  • I am not His disciple.
  • I don’t know the Man!
  • I don’t know what you’re talking about!

Here is a man who was more concerned for his own well being than actively looking after his friend.

So, since Peter denied Him three times, Jesus asks three times to reinstate him, “Do you love me?”

What is love?

But notice that Peter is hurt by the third asking. Why?

First, Jesus asks, “Simon” – not Peter, for he lost that right by denying the truth he proclaimed earlier – “Simon, son of John, do you agape me …” Does Simon love Jesus enough to sacrifice everything for Him?

Remember that this is the Simon who said in John 13:37 “I will lay down my life for you.” Or in Mark 14:29 “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Both instances we read of Jesus telling him he would deny him and fall away.

And he did. But Jesus’ question finishes, “Do you agape me more than these?”

Is Jesus asking “Do you love me more than your possessions?” Possibly, but I don’t think so.

Is Jesus asking “Do you love me more than you love these other people?” More probable, but I think it goes deeper.

“Do you love me more than these others love me?” This is essentially the claim Simon Peter had made before.

In truth, it is a combination of all three implied meanings, but most importantly, “Do you love me more than anything and anyone so that no one can tear you out of my hand?”

“Then feed my sheep.” Give them the nourishment of the Bread of Life, the Word of God.

But a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you agape me?”

Both of these times, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He knows that Jesus can see into our hearts. Jesus stops comparing Simon to others in the second question, bringing it squarely home.

“Then tend my sheep.” Help the others grow closer to me, defend them from hunger and thirst and false teachings and fear of the world.

Yet Simon has been saying, “Yes, Lord”. He acknowledges that he loves Jesus unconditionally, but he finishes with “you know that I phileo you.” You know that I love you like a friend.

And then the third question. “Simon, son of John …” not agape, not will you sacrifice and obey, but “do you phileo me?”

Why is Simon Peter grieved? The questions go from, “do you love me so much it hurts, that you will do anything for me,” to “Simon, are you my friend?”

Imagine what it sounds like: “Are you sure you’re my friend? Do you really love me as your friend?”

And how does it play out?

“You know everything. You know I love you like a friend.”

“Then YOU follow me. Act like a grown up, because you will have times that you will be treated like a child.” And Jesus alludes to Peter’s death.

And Simon holds on just a moment longer as the child: “But what about him? Why don’t you ask that disciple the same questions? How is he gonna die?”

“I. Said. Follow. Me. Stop worrying about others. Follow me. As I feed and tend to my sheep.”

What about us?

What does it all mean for us.

Firstly, to deal with any possible rumors, yes, A Christmas Carol is one of my all-time favorite stories, even though Scrooge meets his long-dead business partner. Even though the only time we see that sort of thing in the Bible is when a wicked king (Saul) seeks a witch to talk to his dead friend (who rebukes him. It really was a Christmas-Carol-esque story.)

For the sake of the story, I am okay with some wiggle-room of what is okay. Especially if you read a recent sequel, Jacob T. Marley, that shows a “why” the dead business partner returns. And for the Spirits of Christmases, we could easily argue they are ministering spirits, a.k.a. angels.

But like Scrooge, Peter was one who turned from those he loved. Like Peter, we often do our own thing to avoid pain.

Like Scrooge, Peter had to confront his past, all of the hurts, the boasts, the selfishness, and the loss.

  • Maybe 2021 has been a hard year for you.
    Follow Jesus.
    It won’t necessarily make all the pain go away, but Jesus can lead you through and out of the pain.
    Maybe 2021 was great for you.
    Follow Jesus.
    You might lose everything you’ve gained, you might keep it all, but your focus should be on the one who gave up everything to save you.
    Maybe you made mistakes, lied about things, turned on your loved ones. Maybe you’ve denied your Savior.
    Follow Jesus. The only faithful one.

Like Scrooge, Peter had to confront his present.

  • Maybe you’re finishing 2021 holding on to your past.
    Follow Jesus.
    Maybe you’re currently struggling with something.
    Follow Jesus.
    Let Him tend to your needs. Trust others to tend to your needs as they are following Jesus. Tend to others as you follow Jesus.
    Follow Jesus, now. Don’t wait. Follow Jesus. Now.

Like Scrooge, Peter had to face the future and his death.

  • And it is scary.
    Maybe you’re afraid of what 2022 holds. Maybe the finances of this year mean next year will be tough. Maybe you wonder where this church will be meeting next month. Maybe those in power in the government have you worried for one reason or another.
    Follow Jesus.
    Don’t worry about what others are doing. Don’t worry about their walk with Jesus or lack thereof.
    Don’t ignore others or the happenings in this world, but don’t worry.
    Just follow Jesus for yourself. Trust Him. He is the God who saves, the One who holds all things together. It may not be easy in this life, but we know we can trust in the One who is guiding history and has overcome death and the grave.

Go Forward

In Christ.

What does it look like to keep Christmas in your heart all the year, and keep it well, like the renewed Ebenezer Scrooge?

It is seeking the Kingdom of God first.

We realize our need to read and memorize Scripture. We seek to live out the commands to love God and love others, as Christ lives in us by His Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father.

It is seeking the Bread of Life.We realize our need for spiritual nourishment through Bible study and encouraging each other to become more Christ-like.

Taken outside the church just before preaching!

It is bowing before Immanuel – God with us.

We realize The Father sent the Son to cleanse us and restore us, and they sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us until Christ’s return. We acknowledge His authority and power.

And we follow.

We don’t get stuck in the same old rut or in our past mistakes and sins or in our worries and concerns or our own lusts and wants or in our own glory. We go forward toward the future glory that awaits us in Christ Jesus, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” pressing on “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

The true Spirit of Christmas is the same Spirit that overshadowed a young woman to bring forth a Savior; a Savior who would die for our sins and rose again; a Savior who is one day returning to make all things new.

And He is with us always until He comes.

Like Scrooge – like Peter – we seek to spread the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Spirit of Christ who indwells us. (Galatians 5:22-23)

All through the year.

So go forward. Follow Jesus.

Prayer

Our gracious heavenly Father, You who has been denied by us through our actions, our words, and our thoughts; You who have been pushed away by our own sinful desires, we praise you and worship you.

You could have left us in our misery. You could have wiped us out, like with the Flood. Instead, You became one of us.

We were stuck wallowing in our past, unable and unwilling to let go of the hurts, the glories of youth, the fame, and the fear.

We were stuck wallowing in our current pains and fears, our own glories and strengths, unwilling to help our neighbors, either because we felt we lacked the ability or because they deserve what they get or because “they should help themselves.”

We were stuck wallowing in our future, afraid of what may come or hoping for what we cannot get for ourselves or think we can get for ourselves.

You could have left us in our misery or removed far more than the surplus population.

But You came to us.

We praise you, because we could not get to You, but You made a way for us. We deserved death, but you offered us life. We have feared the world and death more than we feared You, and we confess it to you now.

Because You see our past, You change us in the present, and You give us a hope for the future, through Your Son – The Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Help us to seek You every moment of everyday. Help us to help each other seek You and grow in You everyday. Help us to become more loving and kind – more like Jesus. By the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Help us follow Jesus.

In His Name.

Sermon: Mark 15:16-32 – Missing the Point

I did NOT preach again, but my friend and fellow elder Bill did preach.

It was pretty cool.

You should be able to watch below.

Mark 15:16-32, ESV

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

Sermon: Remember: A Love Note from God – Mark 14:12-31

I preached again!

It was my turn in our usual rotation (pushed back a week due to Pastor Scott getting sick and throwing the rotation off), and it was also Communion week. (I am more a fan of Communion happening every week, but it is not something I will break fellowship over!)

What makes it extra special that it was Communion week is that I got to preach on the Passover meal (Last Supper) which includes the institution of the Lord’s Supper – Communion.

As usual, here are my notes. Remember that I do not necessarily stick strictly to the notes. In fact, I added quite a bit this time (I tried making adjustments on my iPad, but it did not want to let me), and I switched a couple parts around slightly.

(And the audio for our official church video was messed up, so here is the recording I made from my phone! I almost lost it a few times while preaching, so there will be some moments of silence … and maybe you’ll want to cry too.)

Remember: The Love Note from God  —  Mark 14:12-31

INTRO:

In all of my preaching classes I was told over and over that we need a good introduction that ties in with the whole message. Something that we can refer back to throughout the message, even in the conclusion.

In conversations, I tend to be pretty good about that: making connections throughout to things we’ve said before. I even connect a lot of it to the Bible.

For some reason, I often am not that great at it when preaching. And here is a great example.

This intro has almost nothing to do with the rest of the message, but I like the connection I can see in my mind. I cannot suggest everyone see this PG-13 movie, because there is a decent amount of vulgar language and violence (much like a video game) throughout, so do not take this as an official endorsement or suggestion to see it.

That being said, I got to see Free Guy (with Ryan Reynolds) this week. It really is a fun movie, especially if you enjoy quite a bit of nerd-culture (comic books, video games, YouTube, movies, etc.). Many, if not most, of my friends said one of the best scenes in the movie is one jampacked with references to recent popular movies, and it indeed is hilarious.

My favorite scene, though, comes a few minutes after this. When two of the other main characters are talking, and this line is said,

“I’m just a love letter to you. The real question is who is the writer?”

Today, we talk about God’s love letter to us. Technically, yeah, it’s the Bible. More specifically, it’s the Person of Jesus Christ. Most specifically, it’s about how much God loves us, that He came for us, died for us, and welcomes us in. All for His glory and our benefit. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

And the love note we get to enjoy “as often as we drink it, in remembrance of” Him.

MESSAGE:

[vv. 12-16:]
Firstly, what is the Feast of Unleavened Bread? The celebration of Passover. Remember way back, about 1500 years earlier, Israel was enslaved by Egypt, and Moses came to free God’s people.  After nine plagues, came the 10th: the death of the firstborn. This is the inauguration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because, as Exodus 12 reminds us, the Lord struck down all the firstborn children in Egypt (including animals), except for in the homes where a lamb was slaughtered and its blood painted over the doors. This was the sign for the Spirit to Pass Over their houses.

But why is it called Unleavened Bread? Because the Israelites did not have time to let dough rise for bread. This serves as a reminder that the Lord can take us at any time, like He did with the Egyptian firstborn. The entire week-long feast is done with unleavened bread, to remind the people of the time they were redeemed by God, and quickly. (It is possible this can point to the Rapture, as well.)

Now, Jesus and His disciples (specifically the Twelve … possibly with some others, as we note that some disciples prepared the Passover before Jesus arrived with the Twelve, and this meal was usually held with family present) were going to eat the meal together, but they needed a place. Remember that none of the various groups of this time were completely correct on what the Messiah would be like and do, but the group that came the closes was the Essenes.

Who were the Essenes? A group expecting the soon coming of Messiah who secluded themselves from the rest of society (something Jesus/the NT actually warned not to do) to live purely and to copy the Hebrew texts (not just books we find in our Bibles nor only in Hebrew/Aramaic), and only men could become priests. (They were basically their day’s version of a Roman Catholic hippie commune.) They were the closest to understanding the Messiah.

But they also kept at least one house in nearby cities, to be cared for by priests and for getting supplies as needed.

Why is this important?  Because in these days, only women carried water jars around. Unless they were of the Essene priesthood and maintaining the city-home. And, therefore, it is very possible that Jesus was working with the local Essenes to have a place ready for His final meal with His disciples. (He also could have miraculously known who would let Him use a place with a large room for the dinner!)

[And notice, again, the use of water. The earth was formed out of water by God, destroyed again by water by God. Through water Israel was saved. By water we are baptized as our Lord was. His first miracle was turning water into wine. Now, water is the sign that will lead the disciples to the Last Supper – where the sign of the new covenant is given.]

We also know from Luke that Peter and John were the two who prepared everything. And it was probably Thursday that much of this took place, with the meal beginning in the evening, as prescribed by Exodus 12. This would have put the dinner, arrest, and crucifixion all on Friday by Jewish time-telling.

[vv. 17:]
We see that meal does not even begin until the evening. We remember from the other Gospels that they arrive, and Jesus washes their feet. A major sign of humility, even shaming the one who was seated in the lowest place (probably Peter, actually) who was usually the one (without servants) to wash everyone else’s feet.

I think it is also good to jump around a little in our passage today, because Jesus has just washed their feet and is getting ready to enjoy the meal with them. But how hard was this time for Him?

Why?

[vv. 18-21:]
We remember from last time that Judas has already made an agreement with the Jewish leadership to betray Jesus, so we are not surprised by this.

Neither is Jesus. The other gospels help us to see that they have been eating together for a time, and Jesus even calls out Judas (quietly, implying the two seats of honor at the table are taken by John – who leaned on Jesus during the meal – and Judas – who could be secretly talked with during the meal!) The other disciples just think that He leaves to take care of the business needed for the feast, which helps to imply that he was not actually there when the Lord’s Supper was instituted.

So, Jesus goes into this meal thinking about the man who will betray Him to death. Someone who has been with Him for over three years and been considered a friend.

A friend who not only turns his back but also (almost literally) stabs Him in the back. How must that have felt?

Have you wondered how about Jesus’ words here? “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Maybe, like me, you have wrestled with the idea of a sovereign God who would create someone just to be destroyed. How could He?

But we also know God created us with free will. Judas chose to betray his friend, and our God – who is sovereign – works this man’s evil intents into His plan for our salvation.

And Jesus laments that His friend is choosing not only to reject a friend but God Himself. He has seen God face to face, and now he must face eternity having rejected Him.

But there is more. After they leave the meal, on their way to Gethsemane …

[vv. 26-31:]
Jesus tells His disciples – especially Peter – about their and his denial. First there is the backstabbing friend He knows about. Now we see He knows one of his closest friends is going to leave Him hanging (pun intended) in His darkest moment.

Jesus is having dinner with his closest friends, knowing that He is on His way to the cross, knowing that one of His friends is sending Him there and all of His friends, including one of His best friends, will abandon Him.

So what do we learn?

What have we called this series in Mark? Power Serve. What does it look like to serve others with the power of God? Humility in the face of hatred. Grace in the middle of greed. Love in the light (and in spite) of loss.

We are not really given permission to hide ourselves away when painful circumstances come our way. The example our Lord and Savior has given us is that when we know no one is there for us, when people abandon us, when we are at our darkest moments, that is the exact moment we need to rely on the Father to guide us through and show the most humility, grace, and love. We serve others with the Good News of Jesus Christ, in His power and love, by His grace, humbly and without complaint.

Because that is what He did.

Think about it. What, really, was His example?

This is a Passover meal. They probably discussed how God spared Israel when all of the firstborn were slain. And Jesus – the Firstborn of God, fully God and fully Man – has come to be the only firstborn whose blood is shed to save all other people who call on His Name.

Instead of a year-old lamb, Jesus is the Lamb of God.

Instead of the blood being painted over the door of our homes, The Door poured out His blood.

Instead of death coming for us, He defeated death through taking away our sin by becoming sin on the cross and then rising from the grave.

In other words, Instead of unleavened bread, we have the Bread of Life who was broken for us and rose again to Life.


He became a friend when His friends abandoned Him.

And He gave us a reminder to celebrate it. A love note to remind us “as often as [we] drink of it”.

[vv. 22-25:]
So, we take communion to remember that He has done all the work. It is not so much our story. We are a part of His story. All of this – literally everything – is about Jesus.

We take communion to remember His humility and sacrifice for His friends.
For those who abandon and ignore Him.
For those who put Him on a cross to suffer.
For those who mistreat Him, mock Him, and turned away from Him.

But we have this hope: that He has forgiven us by His blood, and we will one day enjoy a meal with Him again.

But until then, we proclaim His life, death, and resurrection. So, join me in partaking in communion.

RESPONSE:

1 Corinthians 11:23-25:
the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance
of me.”

Sermon: Mark 10:32-52

I preached again. On Father’s Day of all days.

I might need a new computer, because it, again, took a few days (better than last time, though!) to get this uploaded due to some technical issues.

As usual, my rough notes are below, just remember that they are rough notes and not necessarily everything I said.

Mark 10:32-52

MESSAGE:

vv. 32:
Why were people amazed and afraid?

Possibly thinking about Jesus having just discussed how impossible it is to be saved unless God does it. (vv. 23-31)

Possibly seeing how resolutely Jesus is heading toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51[-62?]).

Possibly because of what He said next:

vv. 33-34:
Jesus explains His arrest, beating, and death, as well as His resurrection.
Is it possible the disciples were amazed at the news, while others merely heard that He would die?

No one knows for sure. We see there are two groups: The 12 and others “who followed”.

Probably a combination of all of this: it is difficult (yet oh-so-easy) to be saved, Jesus looks determined to get to Jerusalem, and Jesus just predicted problems in Jerusalem. “Is the Messiah about to start the war that drives out the pagans and restores true worship?”

Honestly, none of them could see what was coming, even with Jesus explaining it in such detail. We know for two reasons: two Apostles making their request and the immediate healing of a man.

First, how the Apostles did not see clearly:

vv. 35-45:
James and John (and their mom, as seen in Matthew 20) are clearly expecting Jesus to triumph and reign in Jerusalem, so they ask to sit at His right and left hand. They expect a quick and decisive victory. (Which definitely happened at the cross, but they can’t see that yet.)

The other Ten became “indignant” at their audacity. But at least they were looking towards Jesus’ ultimate glory. They knew and expected Jesus to be in glory, and they wanted to be with Jesus in glory! Shouldn’t we?!

We can see they are not seeing the whole picture, though. They each know they can “drink from the same cup” as Jesus, but, as usual, Jesus takes it deeper: “Indeed, you will,” but it is not as rulers as the world understands ruling. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”. So, too, we as Christ followers are to serve each other.

How?

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to offer His life as a ransom for many.”

We must [READ Philippians 2:3-5] “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”.
How do we know the Apostles were not seeing things this way? (At least not yet?)

vv. 46-52:
Here is a blind man, crying out for the promised Messiah, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” A crowd – including the Apostles – are trying to quiet Him down and shoo him away. “The Teacher has no time for someone like you. Quiet!”

But this man can see who is nearby. This BLIND MAN can clearly see the Son of God is walking by. He cries out louder, more urgently, knowing this is his only chance to be healed. They are still getting indignant at the audacity of others wanting to be near Christ.

And notice the change in everyone when Jesus finally speaks “Call him”: “Oh, hey, friend, come see Jesus,” they sweetly say to this poor helpless man. We see that the APOSTLES OF JESUS are still missing the point that “the Son of man came not be served but to serve”.

And notice how Jesus heals.

Remember a couple chapters ago when Jesus healed a blind man in Bethsaida? He spits in the man’s eyes and covers them with his hands. This time, He merely speaks, “your faith has made you well.” (Reminds me of Moses and water from the rocks: First he tapped a rock with his staff, the second time he was supposed to only speak to it. A reminder that a greater Prophet than Moses has finally come.)

Quick Mini-Lesson:

Quick lesson on literary/biblical terms:
One of Caitlin’s favorites: Pericope – an excerpt from a text that forms a complete thought. We had three pericopes today: Jesus predicting His crucifixion, James and John requesting a place of honor, and the healing of Bartimaeus.

Chiastic structure – a poetic writing style that flows (often in a circular way or in an arc) so that themes are repeated in reverse order. As an example (from Genesis 9:6):

A – Whoever sheds
     B – the blood
          C – of man,
          C’ – by man
     B’ – shall his blood
A’ – be shed

Sometimes, there is a hinge that it all swings around. For example, Proverbs 31:10-31 extols the virtues of a godly woman, following a long chiastic structure, with a “hinge” in verse 23 about her husband: “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”

The greatest chiasmus is the entire Bible:

A – Creation of Paradise
     B – The Fall into sin
          C – The spread of sin
               D – Christ’s Life, Death, and Resurrection
          C’ – The spread of the Gospel
     B’ – Christ’s return and final redemption from sin
A’ – Restored Paradise

Our big chiasmus from Mark:

A – 8:22-26 – Blind man healed
     B – 8:27-30 – Peter’s Confession of Christ
          C – 8:31-9:1 – Christ’s 1st Foretelling and Peter’s “tempting” Jesus with rebuke
               D – 9:2-13 – Christ’s Transfiguration into glory as God’s true Son
                    E – 9:14-30 – Christ is greater than spirits by healing a child
                         F – 9:30-32 – Christ’s 2nd Foretelling of His Crucifixion & Resurrection
                    E’ – 9:33-37 – Disciples argue who is greater, Christ’s call to childlikeness
               D’ – 9:38-10:31 – Those who tempt others to sin and turn from God’s truth,
                         instead accepting His glory
          C’ – 10:32-34 – Christ’s 3rd Foretelling
     B’ – 10:35-45 – Apostles acknowledge Christ and His glory
A’ – 10:46-52 – Blind Bartimaeus healed


So what?

Mark is pointing out to us how blind we are to God’s truth. We need God to reveal Himself to us, because we tend to think we know better … or that truth can’t be known or is relative or up to each person.

No, Mark is showing us through these pericopes that Jesus came to work, to serve other people. We start with the Son of God showing us He is our Creator and Healer by healing a blind man. We can easily confess Christ as the Son of God while still not seeing Who He really is. And then Jesus predicts His death and resurrection.

Then after the failure of the Apostles to catch on, He predicts it again, that hinge of these stories, reminding us to innocently believe in Him and not distract others.

He predicts it again and drives the point home how blind we are to truth by healing another blind man WITH ONLY HIS WORDS.

Blindness. Revelation. We mess up. Revelation. We mess up. Revelation. Blindness.

We foresee Christ’s passion in the midst of our pride and persistence to think we have it figured out. Fortunately, He is more persistent than we are, and motivates us to be more persistent.

It can be awesome and intimidating to think about the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe coming after us, but it is all because of His love for us and for the Father’s glory.

RESPONSE:

We cannot begin to understand God and His ways (Isaiah 55:8), but we can let Him open our eyes to what He is doing.

We can look to our Savior and see that our Maker and Savior came to us to set the example of how to serve others with sacrificial love and compassion.

For all people.

We can see that He is the God who heals. He may not physically heal us in this life, but by His resurrection we have the hope of eternity free from pain, suffering, and fear.

We should be zealous for a God who saw us in our pride and misunderstandings yet loved us enough to come die for us, to open our eyes to truth and forgive us.

APPLICATION:

How then should we live?

How do we treat people? How do we treat God?!

It can be so easy to get upset with others when we think they are wrong. We can get indignant with their seemingly overblown sense of passion for something, or that they are interfering with important matters.

Do we remember that sometimes (many times?) we each can be the seemingly overblown, interfering person?

We need to remind ourselves that we don’t know everything. But we know the One who does and sees each person, their circumstances, and their lives.

We need to ask Him to open our eyes to what He is doing in their lives … and our own.

We need to ask Him to reveal our own blindness toward others, ourselves, and His glory.

We need to be passionate about the things of God, to want to do the Father’s work in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And how?

We read His Word. We get into the Bible: individually, with others, and when we meet as the Church. We must be learning what He has revealed through Scripture and listening to those who have put in the time and training to be teachers and pastors, but always comparing what they say (and write) with the Bible. (Like the Bereans in Acts 17) And we need to be telling others the truth of Christ. It shows we truly believe He is the promised Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God who takes away the sin world. This is how we acknowledge His glory. We should be passionate about sharing Christ with others, unable and unwilling to be told to be quiet about our Great Healer God.!

Sermon: John 4:1-26 – Re-Up, or The God Who Comes to the Unworthy

I preached again! This time, I was covering for a dear brother who could not be at his little rural church to be at his son’s wedding.

So, I picked up where he left off going through John, wrote a sermon, and took my wife to little Paulden, AZ.

(Just like the last sermon, technical issues slowed sharing this for over a week.)

As usual, my notes below were rough notes and not necessarily everything I said.

The video was on Facebook Live, so it is not the greatest quality.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/21799323

John 4:1-26 – Re-Up, or The God Who Comes to the Unworthy

[INTRO] 

Paul talked about Jesus being in Jerusalem for Passover – the great passage about God sending His son into the world. 

He then shared about Jesus and His disciples going into the countryside where John the Baptist was baptizing, and John explained that Christ must increase while he decreased. And we see that Christ is truly God who is above all things and has received all things from the Father. 

In other words, God is truth. 

[READ JOHN 4:1-26, ESV] 

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Part 1: The set-up 

vv. 1-8 give us the set-up. 

  1. Jesus had been probably a few miles NE of Jerusalem with JtB – heard Pharisees were coming 
  1. Knowing it was not time to be confronted he needed to leave immediately. 
  1. Safest route for a Jew: cross the Jordan, travel through Gentile lands, and probably bump into Pharisees on the road. 
  1. Cut travel time in half by heading north through Samaria – He took the expedient route. 
  1. The Father obviously has a plan, too! 
  1. Sychar (near Shechem), it says, is where Jacob’s Well is, in the area Jacob gave to Joseph (which went to Ephraim) 
  1. Now, take a step back to look at the Samaritans: 
  1. These are largely the people that are from the 10 tribes that abandoned the Davidic line and fell into idolatry. The rest could be descendants of the families that had intermarried with pagans and were sent away from Jerusalem (Ezra 10, Nehemiah 13). 
  1. Separated when Rehoboam (anointed king in Shechem) was a horrible slave driver, and Jeroboam offered an alternative. [“So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day …” 1 Kings 12:19] Jeroboam built altars to golden calves. Later, after Assyria and Babylon took the Northern Tribes, the remnant intermarried with Gentiles or were the sent-away pagan families of Jews after the Exile. 
  1. Jews saw Samaritans of unworthy of their time and attention, and vice versa. 
  1. Jesus has probably walked for a day and a half at this point. 

In all honesty, He probably sent the disciples away based on what we know about them wanting to keep people away from Him! He wanted a chance to talk with this woman without their meddling. 

Part 2: The lead-up 

vv. 8-15 is the lead-up to truth revealed. 

Jesus uses the need for water to bridge the gap between a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman. It is like us finding a common ground with others who are not Christians. 

Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1, the gospel “is folly those who are perishing” (v.18), “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles” (v. 22). And here is a Samaritan, a person who is a mix of both. 

So, she appeals to Jacob, one of the Forefathers/Patriarchs, “Are you greater than him?!” She does not realize that this is the One who wrestled with Jacob in Genesis 32! 

But He starts pushing her toward the truth in His lead-up to the big reveal. This water is temporary, but Jesus offers the water of the Holy Spirit who leads to eternal life. 

Now, she is interested. 

Part 3: The lift up 

vv. 16-26 is the lift up – what looks like a teardown of a person is lifting her eyes to truth. 

“Go, call your husband.” “You are right … you have had five, and you are not married to the man you currently live with.” 

See, this sounds a bit harsh. Hear modern people saying, “See, Jesus didn’t tell her to stop living with the man!” But Jesus is pointing out her sin and using it to reveal her need for a Savior. 

She misunderstood Jesus’ reference to living water, so He draws her in deeper with a hard truth. “You claim to obey the Torah, but even you have not lived up to it.” It was a less-than-gentle rebuke. 

“Look, you have been unfaithful.” 

But they continue, “I see you are a prophet, but our fathers worshiped on this mountain while you say Jerusalem is the place to worship.” 

She is probably thinking of the Patriarchs worshiping in this area, or even that after the Exile Samaritan priests said true worship was on Mt. Gerazim.  

[READ DEUTERONOMY 27:11-13, ending with “And the Levites shall declare blessings and curses”] 

They fail to realize how they claim to worship on the mountain of blessing, but they honor the mountain of the curse. 

And Jesus does it again: “You do not even understand what you are worshiping! Salvation comes from the Jews!” 

[READ VV. 23-24] 

She speaks from misunderstanding, and He sets her straight: You’re wrong, but we will all worship by the Holy Spirit in the Name of Truth. 

And she replies, “Yes, the Messiah is coming, and he will tell us all things.” 

Jesus says, “I who speak to you am he.” In other words, “I am that Truth. I am revealing all things to you.” 

Jesus is the Son of God – fully man, fully God – who lifted a sinful woman’s eyes up to worship God rightly. 

But what does this teach us? 

I have recently had people claim I am not Christian for working during a church service. I found out they do not even believe Jesus is God and/or question the validity of the cross. 

I had to tell them that they are not a Christian. “How dare you? Who do you think you are?” they challenged. 

Here it is, in black and white (or red, black, and white!) This book reveals that Jesus is God. 

I have heard some teach that this passage shows us that God will make us go to places we do not expect or even want to go, and this can be true. 

But the real message is this: 

Jesus calls all people to Himself. The Great Commission says to make disciples of all nations, and in Acts 1 He says the gospel would go in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Here He is, before this command, demonstrating it. He avoided the hypocritical religious leaders to reach out to someone His own people said was not worthy. 

Some of us have committed adultery. Some have stolen. Some have lied, cheated, blasphemed, and sought refuge in things not God. We have denied the deity of Christ, the goodness of God. We have done drugs, been drunk, and slept around. We have been the outcast and worthless sinner. 

Yet the Father reaches out to us through the Holy Spirit to turn to the Son, and says, “Yes. You have done horrible things, and you deserve death. But see my forgiveness. See my grace. See my love, poured out on the cross. 

None are unworthy at the foot of the cross. Yet, we are only made worthy when we kneel at the foot of the cross, accepting our sinful nature, and turning to our only salvation: the Son of God killed on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins, making us washed and made new, quenched by His goodness and grace, clothed in His worthiness and righteousness. 

How can we not want to tell others of how much He has done? How He has saved wretches like us. 

We may not share the Gospel perfectly, and we may even want our friends around to help sometimes, but we worship the God who saves, even when we misunderstand and twist scriptures for our own needs and try and show our own goodness apart from Him. 

Sermon: Completely: Bartholomew and the One Who Sighs – Mark 8:1-21

I preached again. And I had some fun doing it. (And technical issues slowed me from sharing this for over a month! This was preached on April 25, 2021.) (The full service can be seen at The Church Next Door’s YouTube channel right here.)

Please read Mark 8:1-21:

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.

And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Mark 8:1‭-‬21 ESV

SERMON: MARK 8:1-21 – COMPLETELY: BARTHOLOMEW AND THE ONE WHO SIGHS

Bartholomew

Greetings, brothers and sisters. May the grace and shalom of our Lord be with you all.
You may have heard of me. I am Bartholomew, or some of you may know me as Nathanael. I am one of the Lord’s disciples, and I want to tell you about one of our travels with Jesus.

Remembering before:

We had come from Tyre and Sidon where the woman’s daughter was healed, stopped in Capernaum to get Peter’s boat, and headed to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. (South of where the 5,000 men were fed. More into the area where Gentiles live.) This is where Jesus healed the deaf man.

Jesus had been doing so much healing and teaching, and a great crowd came asking Jesus to touch their children and sick. Jesus spent much of the time teaching as He had in other places.

Feeding another crowd.

After three days, the crowd had swelled: 4,000 men and many of their families. Everyone was out of food. Jesus showed His compassion: “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. Some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:2-3)

We talked amongst ourselves, “Sure, he fed the 5,000, but should we expect Him to do it again?” Then we asked, “How can one feed these people with bread way out here in the middle of nowhere?” (Mark 8:4)

Jesus sighed (like a parent who has asked their child to sit down for the fifth time) with a chuckle. “How many loaves do you have?” (8:5) “Seven,” we said.

We were ashamed of ourselves, but we also knew what to do this time. Like with the 5,000, we had them all sit in large groups while Jesus thanked the Father as He broke the bread into pieces and separated some fish. We took the pieces to the people who could each eat their fill. And we had 7 basketfuls at the end, keeping a couple loaves.

The Pharisees’ demand

We then walked back to the sea to ride across to the western shore. The plan was for Simon, Andrew, James, John, and Philip to catch some fish and get it preserved in the Dalmanutha region, and the rest of us would by some bread. This way we could have more provisions for the next area.

Instead, when we arrived, it seems the Pharisees and Sadducees had been watching for us. We were barely on shore when they came to Jesus. We had never seen them quite so confrontational. They had attacked us before, and some of his teaching, sure, but this time they wanted absolute proof of Jesus’ claims. “Give us a mighty sign from heaven! Prove to us you are a great prophet!”

The sigh Jesus gave. It reminded me of the sigh when a tax collector would take all of a father’s income, or when Simon discussed spending a long night fishing with nothing to show for it. It was wearied sigh. A sigh of pain and sorrow.

Jesus seemed to rant. How can they know what the weather can be like by looking at the sky in the evening or morning, but they overlook the obvious? These people would get no sign, except that Jesus would be like Jonah – buried for three days to come back again.

Then we got right back in the boat.

Our own blindness

We soon realized we were distracted by the Pharisees and Sadducees. None of us had done as planned to get more food. We only had one loaf of bread between any of us. We were quietly bickering about not doing our jobs.
Jesus suddenly said, “Watch out. Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the Herodians.”
Once again ashamed, we started talking about how upset He must be with us for forgetting to buy bread, being more interested in the conversation He had back on shore.
And then he sighed again. Another deep sigh. He had our attention.

“Why are you still talking about how much bread you have? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts still so hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you get?”
Looking down we all sheepishly answered Him, “12.”
“And the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full did you pick up?”
“7.”
“Do you not yet understand?”

Getting it

We see it now.
The Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees are so focused on retaining their power through laws and tradition. If it doesn’t fit their expectations, they refuse to see it.
How have we been any better? Even after two years, we were still looking for a General King to drive out the Romans and restore true worship in the Temple. Why couldn’t we pay attention to our own ideas and expectations getting in the way. We were still seeing Jesus as the Messiah we dreamed up.

What was Jesus showing us?

He is in control of all things. He controls nature. He heals what medicine and doctors can’t. He divides and multiplies things in impossible ways.

And he loves. He shows compassion on the people focusing on their own desires and fears. He takes time to listen, to touch, to hold, and to feed. He may have gotten tired in His frail human body, but He is the inexhaustible God who loves us even through our sin and conceit.

And what has Jesus shown us?

Remember the twelve baskets of bread? I don’t know how we missed it. At the consecration of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, Moses received the offerings from the leaders of the Twelve Tribes. There were animal sacrifices, yes, but they also brought silver bowls full of the grain offerings to God. Grain offerings that fed the priests tending the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle that was the temporary place of worship of God until a permanent Temple could be built hundreds of years later.

Jesus showed us that He – God – provided the offering for consecration of His Temple. We saw them as bread in baskets. God was consecrating His Temple, the Church, by showing He has provided for all of Israel – the Twelve Tribes – and pointed toward the Church, the true Temple of God.

Remember the seven baskets of bread? Jesus showed us His compassion, His provision, His power is complete. Not just for Israel. The Syrophoenician woman helped show that. Now, feeding people on the edge of Gentile lands, we see that God’s love extends to all people.

Completely.

Jesus has come to those who reject Him, those who misunderstand Him, those who have refused Him, and He shows us the truth of who He is.

He is God. He loves His creation, and He provides for His creation. He has established His living Temple on the Earth to bring that good news. And the cornerstone of that Temple?

Himself. The Giver of bread is our Bread of Life, who was broken for our sinful rebellion, rejection, and refusals. He gave Himself up to die on a cross as that sacrifice needed to consecrate His living Temple. His blood was sprinkled to cleanse us of our sins and consecrate our lives.

Completely.

And He was the first stone to be laid. And now we go into this world and lay our lives down for the same reason: to show this world God has provided for us, has compassion for us, and has made a way into eternal life for us.

Completely.

And we invite others to come in with that same compassion and love.

So, we may sigh in the pains of this life with its struggles, pains, and [dealing with other people], but in Christ we can find that sigh of relief. He has taken compassion on us and taken the burden of sin and death from us.

It does not mean He takes all the pain away in this life, but we have hope for the life to come. Where there is no more pain, no more struggle, no more tears.

He has given us everything, if we only take it.

Sermon: Chasing or Chosen – Mark 3:7-21

I preached again!

This is one in which I do not name names but I do call out bad teachings.

What are we chasing? Are we actually pursuing Jesus?

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.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/player/audio/21726595?repeat=false&autostart=true

Chasing or Chosen    Mark 3:7-21

It is my Re-Birthday! (Well, yesterday was.)

As of today, it was 21 years [and approximately 1 day, or 15 hours for first service and 16.5 hours for second service] ago that I became a Christian. At 6:46 pm CST on January 9, 2000, at the tender age of 16, I first knelt down to say “Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who died for my sins.”

I went through some struggles to get there, to be sure.

I was “that kid” in the youth group who had everything figured out, so I challenged the youth leaders and the pastor.

I dealt with chronic anxiety, always worried about trivial things as if they were huge, and I did not need another worry on my plate, like trying to please God.

I even went through a short time of thinking it might be possible I could be Christ (before misunderstanding a text about John the Baptist never touching alcohol, thinking it was about Christ, and that misunderstanding shot down any ideas of me being Christ right away.)

When the Holy Spirit finally finished breaking down my own ideas, fears, and misunderstandings, Jesus grabbed a great big hold of me, and I can guarantee He has not let go. (Not from lack of my own stupidity and running in different directions!)

That is why I make a cake every year on January 9. I celebrate my Re-Birthday, the day I was born again into God’s Chosen family: The Church, grafted into Israel by His blood.

What does this have to do with our passage today?

Well, we will spend most of our time in Mark 3, but I also invite you to be ready to flip back to Deuteronomy 18 and 13.

In Mark chapter 3, we see a transition from Jesus setting the foundation for His ministry to preparing to share His ministry with His disciples in Israel.

MESSAGE:

vv. 7-8:
People were coming from all over Israel. With the areas listed, Mark is letting us know people from all the tribes from the original Promised Land (Time of the Judges) have come to see if the Prophet like Moses – the Messiah – has finally come. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)


“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

But what were they chasing? v. 8b: They heard all that He was doing. He was healing paralytics and shriveled hands, He was casting out evil spirits, and He was rebuking and teaching with boldness and authority.

They were chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. As we continue reading in …

vv. 9-10:
They were actually putting their Messiah in danger!

To be fair, we are talking about people who have been hurting, suffering, and worrying about what the government, religious leaders, and spiritual forces were doing to them. And here is someone standing up to the leadership and healing people.

But maybe you are wondering about Jesus’ response: Not just to get a boat ready. We remember from last week that the Jewish leadership were chasing after their own power and plotting to destroy Jesus, and now the crowds are endangering Him. However, we also know He often taught from boats, as we read in many other places in the Gospels.

vv. 11-12:
Spirits know who Christ is. They recognized Jesus as the eternal Son of God, something most people missed, even with miracles.

But why did He tell the spirits “not to make Him known”?

This is not quite like Scott taught a few weeks ago, telling those He healed not to tell anyone. Evil spirits and demons know who He is, and they will tell others truthfully who He is, but they also follow their leader, The Devil, and twist the truth and lie. He doesn’t want these spirits spreading misinformation.

“Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be like God …”

Hold on to that. We’ll get back to this in a moment.

vv. 13-15:
We remember people are expecting the Promised Prophet like Moses, and here is Jesus going up a mountain, just like Moses. But He is not getting God’s Commandments, He is being the Commander commissioning His generals.

Jesus basically chose His representatives for the 12 Tribes. Remember a few verses ago we saw that Mark was pointing to all of the Tribes of the Promised Land coming to see if this was the promised Messiah. Now, He has His representatives for each tribe, those He is sending out in His Name. Apostle means “one sent out.”

And what does He expect His Apostles to do?

First and foremost: They spend time with Him, learning from Him.
Secondly: Preach. They are to share the good news of this Messiah.
Finally: Heal and cast out demons and evil spirits.

Jump back with me for a moment to Moses’ promised Prophet in Deuteronomy 18, in vv. 20-22.

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord , if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Now back a few chapters, 13:1-4.


“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

Many so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles today often start out well, saying we need to spend time with Christ and learn from Him, and it sounds good. Then they spend more time focusing on miracles, signs and wonders, and dreams and visions.

At best, the preach a gospel-lite: You are basically a good person, you have to have dreams and visions or perform miracles, signs and wonders. Essentially, you are little gods. (Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Bishop T.D. Jakes … even starting to hear it from Steven Furtick and his friends.)

Now. Remember what I told us to hold on to for a moment: “Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be … like … God …”

Many of today’s so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles are chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. They are listening to the wrong spirits.

Perhaps you have heard the teaching today that just because someone gets a prophecy wrong does not mean they are a false prophet, they just tried prophesying in their own power and got it wrong. That is the exact opposite of what we read in Deuteronomy. “Did God really say …”

Perhaps you have even heard the rebuttal that those of us who point this out probably want to follow Deuteronomy 13:5, to kill the false prophet. Obviously, we don’t teach that in the slightest, but now we hear that next lie: “You will not surely die …”

All three of Satan’s lies in the Garden of Eden are being used even today.

Perhaps, you think, people do make mistakes and come from broken and sinful pasts, but God forgives and changes them.

True. In fact, Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, will readily attest to that. He worked for his Uncle Benny for years, and today he preaches the true gospel and the danger of these “prophets and apostles” today. But this also points us back to the next verses in Mark 3 …

vv. 16-19:
Mark, Peter’s disciple and friend (remember Acts 13 and 15, John Mark who abandoned Barnabas and Paul, later causing division between those two), understood Peter well, both having turned on those they loved. Hence, Peter is obviously first in the list, followed immediately by James and John, the Sons of Thunder. (Great preachers!)

These three – with at least four others: Andrew (Peter’s brother), Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael), and possibly Philip – were fishermen (Remember they were all together fishing after Jesus’ resurrection – John 21). They were the rough-around-the-edges (probably foul-mouthed) sailors of the day. They were prideful, power-hungry men (Remember the request by James and John to sit at either side of Jesus in His Kingdom!)

We know Matthew/Levi was a tax collector, and possibly Judas Iscariot. Tax collectors were seen as traitors to their people, their money not even allowed in the Temple. They were more interested in money (and power), and obviously not above turning on their brethren. Judas was obviously “the open-minded, social justice” one of the group who was “more concerned about the poor” than all the others. (See his suggestion of selling the expensive perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet – John 12.)

That just leaves James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus (the other Judas), and Simon the Zealot. James and Other-Judas may have been businessmen of some sort or just farmers. They could be more down to earth, but they also had their opinions on politics and religion. Simon, the Zealot, was definitely involved in politics. The Zealots were constantly trying to make Israel great again (Sorry, not sorry!) and kick out the invading empire.

This was a rag-tag bunch of sinners … who all abandoned their Lord, one even betraying Him.

Yet, I hear Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Yes and hallelujah, God can change us. But we should still be wary of those who teach a different gospel – “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:7-9)

No, the calling we all have is not to chase miracles but to realize we have been chosen to spread the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ: Matthew 28:18-20 –

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)

But we also live in a culture that says sharing your faith is bad. (Including from the Pope!)

vv. 20-21:
Went home (most likely to Capernaum), where crowds kept them from eating. (Still missing the point to “love your neighbor as yourself” and that God was literally with them!) Yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

And His mom and half-siblings thought He had lost it.

He now has the Jewish leadership plotting against Him and His family doubting Him.

And yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

We can glean two things from this:We know, as we also read in Matthew 28:20, that God never stops. He keeps working out His plan.We will have people oppose us, either for not following modern understandings of religion and science or for being crazy for believing myths and stories (or even changing our lives so drastically and against societal norms).

And that can scare us, intimidate us, make us want to shy away from sharing our faith.

We might hear those thoughts: “I’m not good enough.”
“Who do I think I am to tell others that they are sinners?”
“If others make fun of me, they won’t hear the message anyway.”

Maybe we are chasing the miracles, the easy parts of Christianity: the power, the prophecies, and the praise of others.

We should realize we are chosen by God. And He has promised to help us by His Holy Spirit.

We can chase miracles that come from touching Christ, or we can realize that being His Chosen people means He has already chased us!

By ourselves, we run from the things of God by chasing our own interests or thinking we need to do something to please God. We seek the mountaintop experience, but God has come down from His mountain to change His Chosen to be more like Christ.

The biggest disease we have is our sin. It can only be removed by the grace we have by faith in the blood of Christ. Without that, we chase whatever we think will make us happy or whole, instead of realizing God’s Chosen One is the only One who can heal.

Let’s not chase after the miracles, but let’s seek the Miracle Maker and His peace and healing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

If you do not know the peace of Christ, I invite you to seek Him and have your own Re-Birthday, or at least trust in Him more. Put your faith in the Faithful One. Realize your sinfulness – your own breaking of God’s Law – and believe that Jesus’ death on the cross brought you forgiveness, that His resurrection gives you the promise of eternal life with Him.

Yes, people may think you are out of your mind, possibly ridicule you or even persecute you, but Jesus it is better to know that is coming and prepare than to begin under the assumption that life will suddenly be the best ever. Jesus promised this life would be hard, but He also promised He is with us.

And He chose us.

Sermon: Psalm 100 – Reasons To Be Thankful

I was not scheduled to preach today. But we are living in the times of a pandemic and precautionary actions.

In other words, I had to cover with less than a day’s notice. But our one, true God is good. 😉

Below are my notes. (And a link to the audio and video may later be on The Church Next Door AZ YouTube page)

Psalm 100: Thanksgiving

Read v. 1-2
First week of Advent! Christmas season has officially started! Christmas carols everywhere!
Also, it is Thanksgiving weekend.

Read v. 4
Why do we thank God? What reasons do we have to give Thanksgiving?
• v. 3: Because He is God.
• v. 5: Because He is good.
• v. 2: Because of His gifts.

v. 3: God is God.
God deserves our praise and Thanksgiving because He is our Creator and Lord.
• Revelation 4:11: [the 24 elders around God’s throne fell down and said] “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
o We can’t even get our electronics, let alone governments, to run right. Could we handle all of Creation?
• Exodus 20:2-3: “I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no other gods before Me.”
o Not “I am to be your favorite god,” but “There is no other.”
• Colossians 1:15-20: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
o God is in control. Of everything. He holds it all together, sustaining and replenishing, and leading His Church to reconcile the world to Himself.

v. 5: God is good.
• Luke 18:18-19: And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
• Psalm 34:8: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
• Psalm 145:9: The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
• James 1:16-17: Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
• Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
o God is good and the source of all that is good, and He does not change.
o God’s mercy extends to all people (Matthew 5:45: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”), but His grace and ultimate good are reserved for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So we are thankful that He is good and …
o Therefore …

v. 2: God’s gifts.
As stated, God gives good gifts. What are these?
• We have His Word.
o Just read Psalm 119. It is long, but it is all about God’s Law/Word/Scripture.
o Ephesians 2:20: We are ”built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”
• We may get health and wealth in this life, but that is not our guarantee.
o John 14:33: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
o We have His peace.
• Ephesians 2:8-10: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
o We have His grace and forgiveness.
o We also were created for good works.
• What are our good works?
o We get to help those in need.
 Galatians 6:10: So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
 James 1:27: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
[Isaiah 58, Micah 6:8]
o We get to share the gospel.
 Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.

We are told by God’s Word that we who believe have received His peace through His grace and forgiveness, being His master workmanship to do His work of reconciling a lost world to Him through good works and sharing the good news of His coming!

So … how do we live a life of thanksgiving?
• In Luke 19:1-10, we read of Zacchaeus, a tax collector whom Jesus visited. Merely being shown kindness by Jesus led this small man to change his ways – to repent – and repay any wrongdoing he had done.
o We show thankfulness by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus’ work of salvation through the cross.
• In Luke 17:12-18, we read of the 10 lepers who were healed. How many came back to worship Jesus? Just 1.
o We show thankfulness by worshiping our God who has cleansed us of our sins and possibly even healed our physical/mental afflictions.
• [Giving Tuesday this week 😉] In Luke 21:1-4, we read about the poor widow who gave 2 copper coins as a gift to God, which was all she had to live on.
o We show thankfulness by giving to God, not out obligation or our excess but in gratitude and sacrificially, especially to help spread the gospel (see 2 Corinthians 9).
• Colossians 3:12-17: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
o In all things we are thankful. Even when doing the dishes, cleaning up after our pets/siblings/kids/spouses/friends, paying bills, going to work, being at work, listening to the news, driving in traffic, being stuck at home during a pandemic . . . and when watching our favorite show/movie, listening to our favorite song, driving down an open road, going to a game or other event, buying a new car or video game or toy or tool . . .

In all things.

One more reason to be thankful, and a reminder on this first Sunday of Advent, of Hope:
I can hear the complaints: But if God is good, why does He allow evil? Why does He let bad things happen to good people?
• Firstly, let us remember what Jesus told us: No one is good but God alone. As Isaiah reminded, even our good works are like filthy rags. We have all sinned and deserve punishment.
• So why does God allow evil things? (Yep. Trigger warning.)
o The first part of this answer is that He gave us free will. If He simply stopped us from doing evil, we would no longer have free will.
o Second part, we look at Revelation 8:1-5 (the seventh of the 7 Judgment Seals):
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings,[a] flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
 Jesus shows John here that in the midst of all of the suffering we cause each other, God is listening to our prayers. He hears all of our cries for help. Sometimes, yes, He steps in and stops the evil. However, at the same time, He is right there, holding His chosen child and saying, “It’s okay. I’m here. I hear you. Their punishment is certain.” He is right there, looking at the abuser, the mocker, the murder, the liar, saying “Repent, for punishment is certain.”
Hurting loved one of God: He hears you, and He has promised His judgment and wrath on all evildoers.
If you are the abuser, the mocker, the murderer, the liar: He says, “Turn to me, for I have taken the wrath you deserve on myself when I was pierced and hung on a cross. Repent of your sin, and receive my grace.”
• All of God’s promises come true. 2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

We give thanks to our One True and Good God for the gifts of His promises: His grace and forgiveness and dealing with sin and evil once and for all.

[READ PSALM 100]

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.