Psalm 19 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-As we begin today’s message, I need everyone in here to pretend that they’re kids again, we’re going to play some games with our imaginations.

-First: I want you to think about your favorite place in the world that you’ve ever been to. Could be a cabin in the woods, a beach you visited, Lebanon hills, the mountains, Disney World.

-Now I want you to think about your favorite dessert, the best you’ve ever had. Over summer my mind often goes to a perfectly browned marshmallow (don’t you dare burn them!) with either Reese’s or Hershey’s on graham crackers! Maybe you love a good piece of pie, a piece of cake, a scoop of ice cream. Personally, I’m a sucker for crème brulee. Cara and I spent our honeymoon on the Big Island of Hawaii and I had the best crème brulee I’ve ever had! I’ve been looking everywhere I can to try to find a piece of that crème brulee, but none have yet come close to replicating it!

-Isn’t some of what makes your favorite place in the world and your favorite dessert the rarity of it? If I ate that crème brulee everyday accompanying every meal I would eventually grow tired of it. Or if you lived in your favorite place in the world, mine is Colorado. Got to live there for 5 years, and much to my dismay, there were some days that I forgot to look at the mountains. 

-So often we miss or neglect to enjoy the things that are right around us that were given for our joy. All these little things are supposed to be gifts from God that point us to Him! Today’s Psalm is a reminder that God’s fingerprints are all around us, if we take the time to stop and notice, to pay careful attention to how He has chosen to reveal Himself to us.

READ/PRAY. How do you find Psalm 19? Why do we stand? Neh. 8:5Luke 4:16

  1. Creation – General Revelation (1-6)

-This Psalm begins looking at one way God reveals Himself to us: through the created order. There are 2 primary ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to His creation: the rest of creation, and His Word. Theologians refer to these as general and special revelation. General being something everyone can see, special being a unique separate revelation. General revelation/creation points to Him as the Creator, but a knowledge of God as the Creator doesn’t save someone, which is why He also gave us a special revelation: His Word, and ultimately His Word made flesh: Jesus. We’ll get to the special revelation in a bit, the first section is an extended meditation on creation.

-The heavens and the sky are serving a purpose. Skies bring forth rain, seasons, sustaining of life. But looking up at the skies, do you ever feel small? Every time you walk outside and look up you’re staring at a place where you could most likely fly in a straight line and hit nothing for lightyears.

-You can see another example of this if you ever walk into an old historic cathedral. Those buildings are awe-inspiring (intentionally so!) what do people do the instant they walk into a building like that? Silence, look up. This is meant to communicate the bigness of God (transcendence)

-Heard one pastor say no one walks up to the edge of the Grand Canyon and brags how smart they are. If you saw someone do that, wouldn’t you look at them like they’re crazy? Dude, you’re missing something amazing if you’d get over yourself!

-Now look at the verbs connected to the skies and the heavens: declare and proclaim. Has anyone ever heard the sky talking? We know this isn’t literal! But they do declare and proclaim some truth: the glory of God, and the work of his hands. There’s a couple reasons for this speaking.

-The first, as we’ve seen, is to remind us of the bigness of God. He is so far beyond anything we could ever figure out on our own!

-The second reason is a reminder that the creation is not God. The weather is one of the few places today humans are still reminded that we’re not God! We’ve sent people to space, we’ve learned much about sicknesses and disease, we’ve mapped the entire human genome, but we have yet to prevent rain, turn the tides, or even prevent a tiny little coronavirus from circling the planet! Everything that exists was created by God, yet is not god. That’s a vital distinction for us to remember! When David was writing this, most other cultures nearby worshipped the creation, they would have a sun god, a moon god, star gods. This is David saying none of those created things are meant to be worshipped!

-This declaration and proclamation that the heavens and skies are doing occur day after day and night after night. This tells us the purpose of all creation: to point to the Creator God. But let’s ask that question again: have you ever heard the sky talk? Vs. 3 says that exact same thing!

-CSB: “There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard.” However, it almost feels like David is VERY forgetful, because look at vs. 4

-Despite the reality that creation doesn’t speak audibly, nothing can stop them from continually pointing to the creator, screaming out the reality of God! I can’t remember where I heard this (I’ve tried looking it up since) so it was probably Spurgeon that said it! But some well-known preacher one time said: a dog worships God by acting like a dog. Barking, wagging his tail, chasing his tail. Similarly with the skies, they worship God by acting within their nature: the sun worships by continually burning, the Earth worships by continually spinning, the moon worships by reflecting the sun. They can’t help but continually worship and praise their Creator. So David talks about the sun continually worshipping:

-In the sky, we see the sun rising and the sun setting day after day after day. Remember we saw in Psalm 15that David questioned who could sojourn in God’s holy tent referring to the dwelling place of God. Similarly here, God has created the space for the sun to live and move, and in the sun’s obedience to worshipping and living as God has commanded him (her?), the sun never runs out of energy.

-David compares the sun to a bridegroom running out on his wedding day. I don’t know about anyone else when they got married, but I couldn’t wait for that day! I even woke up super early for Cara and I to get a cup of coffee together and chat about the day before we got busy with the rest of our preparation!

-The other comparison is like an Olympic athlete who shoots off their starting blocks and chases down the gold medal. I care about running about once every 4 years (which coincidentally coincides with the Olympics!). Let me clarify, I like watching the 100m race, the one that’s over in 10 sec. I remember watching Usain Bolt back in 2016 glance over and smile at a camera DURING THE RACE! How frustrating would it be to race against that guy? Do you think he has joy when he’s running? Or maybe you’ve seen the classic movie “Chariots of Fire” based on the life of Eric Liddell. When talking to his sister about pursuing his dream of running in the Olympics, Eric says “God made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.” Because the sun was made to shine into the darkness of the galaxy, it continues burning with exuberance, like Usain Bolt or Eric Liddell running with joy!

-Lastly, notice the expanse of the sun: it covers everything we can see, and shines even into the darkness so nothing and no one can be hidden from it. This is here to remind us that God sees everything, nothing can be hidden from his sight, which is what David will go on to say in the next section:

  • The Word – Special Revelation (7-9)

-What does general revelation refer to? Right, creation. Now David turns to special revelation, and what makes it special is that it explicitly tells everything we need to know about God. In this section, David seems to be stuck in a rut. He keeps repeating the same phrasing throughout this section. So I figured I would break it down a little bit like a math problem.

-Notice all the ways David describes God’s Word: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, rules (fear is slightly different). 

-If you’re anything like me, when I was growing up, anytime people started talking about the Bible as laws, commandments, rules my eyes started glossing over and I thought suddenly everything turned into adult time. Rules sucked the joy out of life and were meant to be broken. Why would God stoop to making all these rules if he knew we had not chance of keeping them? But just you wait before you go assuming these are rules that are meant to be broken!

-Have you ever read a fantasy book, about a far-off land where things are different than what you see around you? Maybe Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia or one of my new favorites The Wingfeather Saga. Whether you like to admit it or not, even those places have certain rules that everyone is supposed to follow. Generally, the story gets good because the main character refuses to follow an unjust law, but that just tells us there are some laws that are right and should be followed! And who is the one who wrote all these laws? God is! The thing is, God wants us to grow in satisfaction and enjoyment of what He has given to us, so even His laws and rules are in place to help us enjoy everything He made.

-Let’s look at the effects of God’s Word in our lives. 

-First, it revives the soul. If you’ve ever done any kind of manual labor, there come points where you would do anything to be revived! My first “grown up” job was out of high school where I did painting and remodeling to help pay for college. I’ll be honest, my favorite days were the days when it rained! It meant I got to sleep in and have a day off! I’m currently doing some work on the floors of the main level of our house, and my back and legs would LOVE to have some way of being revived every day! Spending time in God’s Word allows your innermost being to be revived, giving life back to you.

-Next it’s good for making wise the simple. Paul says the same thing in 1 Cor. 1:20-21 “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” True, everlasting wisdom is found in God, not in the way the world likes to measure wisdom (things like ACT scores, GPA, always a number)

-Then it rejoices the heart. It brings joy that won’t every fade, despite what’s going on in your life. Even when you’re sick, even when your friends betray you, you can still have joy. One of the songs I learned when I was growing up: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where?”

-Then it enlightens the eyes, which connects to God’s commandments being radiant, thus it brings light to the eyes. If you’re like me, you don’t like being in dark places. If you want to ensure that you can have lights to understand what’s taking place in your life, look to God’s Word! I don’t even like going down into my basement without a light on, imagine trying to live your whole life in the darkness, how easy would it be to get around? God’s Word gives us a light so we can see everything going on around us!

-Finally we see how it affects us, fearing God the means by which we endure forever. God hasn’t left us in doubt about how we should live, He’s told us everything we need! So we need to respond in fear, reverence and awe.

-The last reminder: true and righteous. In a world where the standard seems to be changing from day to day, God never changes, and His standards have been the exact same since the world was created!

  • Our Response to God’s Revelation (10-14)

-David writes similar thoughts to this Psalm in Psalm 8, but in that case asks the question: “what is man that you are mindful of him?” Then recounts how God created everything, but the pinnacle of the creation is humans who are given dominion over the creation. Unlike the previous Psalm, this time David has just finished the second revelation of God: His Word. So what is the proper response to God’s two revelations?

-First is we should want them more than anything else in the world. The older I get, the more security seems to be talked about more often. In my 20s I didn’t care about a life insurance policy, but TBH I also felt like I was invincible! Boundless energy, more time than I knew what to do with, and then I hit 30 and everything changed (and I’ve heard 40 is even worse!) But all the security in the world, the best 401K, the paid off house can’t change the fact that the mortality rate still sits right at 100%. So where are you placing your security? Because even your 401K has an expiration date! God’s Word lasts forever.

-Kids, how many of you like eating dessert? One piece of advice for you, because nothing in life is guaranteed, it’s best to start eating dessert, and then get on to the rest of the meal! My son loves dessert, I feel like he asks for dessert after every meal we have at home. Did you know that David says that spending time in God’s Word is even yummier than eating your favorite dessert? It’s true! And just like dessert, it makes you want to keep eating more and more, the more you spend time in God’s Word the more you’ll want to keep spending more and more time in it!

-By listening and obeying God’s Word it helps us know which rules we’re supposed to follow and which ones we’re not supposed to follow, and it also means that by obeying God’s rules we will win the race of life we’re running, we’ll have “great reward.” (11)

-I’m not sure where this idea that “everyone’s a winner” came in, because when you do that everyone is still keeping score and knows who won! It’s the same thing with God’s law – He’s told us what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to live, and if you faithfully follow after Him you will have a great reward!

-The text then takes a bit of a weird turn after this, David realizes He can’t obey all God’s rules. He can’t discern all the ways He continues to sin, no one can! One translation translates vs. 12 as “Who perceives his unintentional sin?” (CSB). 

-Many of us worry about the sins we commit (which David talks about in vs. 13) but we very rarely think of the sins we don’t commit, but God cares about both! Maybe you didn’t help your brother or sister when they fell down, maybe you didn’t share your snack with a friend who forgot theirs. The sins of things we forget to do could probably go on forever, but how often do we think about them? David here is reminding us to confess the sins that we’ve done, and the sin we’ve committed by leaving things undone. My goodness, who could ever measure up? This is why we need Jesus to come in our place, to allow us to actually desire the right things, to do the right things, to obey the right things.

-David ends in the same place he began, but we need to pay careful attention to understand how. Remember he began this Psalm talking about how the heavens declare God’s glory, we see in vs. 14 that we’re supposed to do the same! 

-In the Gospels, a similar story is told: during the triumphal entry, the Pharisees were upset that people were praising God because of Jesus Luke 19:40 “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Here’s the crazy thing, THEY ARE! The stones, like the rest of creation, can’t help but cry out in praise to God!

-Just like the heavens declare the glory of God, God made us to declare His glory with our entire lives. 2 ways we do that: 

-Every time we see creation doing what it’s supposed to do we glorify the God who made that creation. Marvel when you see a tree waving in the wind, give thanks when you’re out mowing your lawn cultivating your little section of the garden God created, praise God because the sun allows you to see the beauty of the world around you, give thanks when you see the colors of the setting or rising sun.

-The second way is to be savoring God’s Word. Treat it like you would your favorite dessert or favorite place. Soak and saturate yourself in it! To remind you to savor God’s Word I got honey packets for you all to pick up on your way out (parents be careful to not let your kids spill!) 

Psalm 17 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Answering someone’s question when they’re on a phone call, “Bluetooth or crazy person?” Trying to get your kids to listen to you, finish talking and then ask them what you said “I don’t know”

-Do you assume God is the same way? Aloof, distant, needing to constantly be reminded? You finish praying and God says “What?” 

-I remember growing up hearing the phrase “praying to the ceiling” I initially thought they meant that helped you find the right direction to pray to God! Then I realized it meant the prayers stopped at the ceiling. Maybe you’ve felt that way before, that God doesn’t care, isn’t listening, that your prayers are just as effective as praying to the ceiling.

Psalm 17 shows us we don’t need to worry about any of that. When we cry out, the Lord not only hears us, but He will answer us!

  1. The Righteous One (1-5)

-“just cause” can also be translated as righteousness, so think of this as David telling God to listen to a righteous person. God should pay attention to everything David says because he is a righteous person. 

-Doesn’t that seem a bit presumptive of David? If you’ve ever heard David’s story, he had a lot of highs (defeating Goliath and the Philistines, dancing in front of the ark of the covenant) to lots of lows (killing a man to steal his wife, children stealing his throne). Do you really think when God looked at David he’d see a righteous person? How could David be described as “a man after God’s own heart”? 

-Based on the couple of things I just mentioned, would anyone want to invite David to come hang out with you for a bit? He’s a wife stealer, be careful! Pretty sure, no matter your background, you haven’t been as crazy as David! Keep that in mind as we continue going through this first section.

-“David would not have been a man after God’s own heart if he had not been a man of prayer. He was a master in the sacred art of supplication.” Spurgeon

-“Cry,” reaction when you’re hanging out with other parents and you hear a child start crying. Nice thing is they tend to take turns! God, being a perfectly heavenly father doesn’t turn off the baby monitor, doesn’t look the other way, he comes close when we cry out to Him.

-“lips free from deceit” “My mouth will not transgress (3)

-Can you say that to the Lord? Remember, you lie to yourself more than anyone else, God knows everything, do you actually mean what you’re saying? Think through some of the things you may pray for:

-Help my church to grow so more people can hear the gospel (bigger platform) Help me to do well at my job so I can move up in the company (more power) Help me to do well at my job so I can make more money and bless more people (more stuff) Help my kids to be “good Christian kids” (better appearances) You can’t trick God, He knows what’s in your heart. Be honest! Share why you’re praying for those things, but then expect God to work in your heart!

-Vindication: David is so sure he’ll be proven right that he invites vindication! Would you be willing to ask this of God? Being so confident that you have nothing to hide that you ask for vindication from the throne room of heaven.

-Tried/tested my heart: inspected. Think of growing up when your parents asked you to clean your room, wouldn’t it be followed (at some point) by an inspection? Moving out of an apartment, they come check the blinds!

-Would you stand up to the Lord’s scrutiny? Think of one of the early Marvel movies, the first Captain America. Steve Rogers is desperate to sign up for the Army, but he doesn’t quite measure up. Too scrawny, too asthmatic. That doesn’t happen with God! Despite all of us being like Steve Rogers and not measuring up, we have someone else who brings us in. We’ll get there…

-Visited by night. 

-When you feel the most alone and isolated, God is there with you. Maybe you’ve had one of those nights where you just can’t sleep, I have! Remember that whole not being a morning person thing? It’s because my mind often starts up right when I’d like to go to bed. Do you ever use those times at night to pray, share your heart with God? Maybe He’s trying to be there with & for you.

-One thing to say something, another thing to back it up. David lives “by the word of your (God’s) lips” Contrast this to “the works of man” and “the ways of the violent”

-Sin always leads to violence, separation of relationship finds its’ fulfillment in harm because our self has become the center of our world, anyone who doesn’t view us that way is in the way

-Do you live this way? Are you trying to live “by the works of man” or are you trying to live by “the word of God’s lips.” This is why it’s so important for us to be centered on God’s Word when we gather together every week! Otherwise we’re tempted to forget what God’s Word says, or even worse start to interpret God’s word according to “the works of man” 

-While I was in seminary one of the things I heard from numerous professors is how they’re continually lowering the requirements for entrance into seminary because so few people actually know the Bible – even those who claim they’re called to ministry! I was a part of a cohort of men who all thought they were called to be lead pastors of a church, and one of them on our first day shared that he’d never read the Bible through.

-“your paths” walking with God, how often do we “slip” and “fall” into sin? Or maybe not even slip and fall, you run headlong into it! And the crazy thing about it is sin seems so enticing in the moment, doesn’t it? 

-It seems so much easier to “get even” than to turn the other cheek. It seems so much easier to condemn in your heart than to truly forgive someone. It feels so much better (in the moment) to indulge just a little more than you should. Yet that isn’t the way God has called and commanded us to live.

-David knows that God will find him righteous. He can look at his talk, his walk, his thoughts, nothing will condemn him. Therefore, he can go on to ask:

  • Salvation Comes from God (6-14)

While the first part of this prayer is David’s uprightness, in this second part, David reminds himself who God is, and what that means for those who are not right.

  1. Preservation (6-9)

-God will always answer your prayers. Do you believe that? It requires living as David has just spent 5 verses describing, but then God will answer your prayers. 

-God answers your prayers the way you would pray them if you knew everything God knows. But did you also know the way you live will affect how God answers your prayers?

1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Does that seem weird to you? Husbands: the way you treat your wife has a direct connection to your prayers. Not said to guilt you, but to ensure your wife is treated well! You have a big call and job to pursue, at least if you want the Lord to hear your prayers, otherwise you are praying to the ceiling! Similarly in James:

James 5:16 “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” This takes place in the context of suffering and confession of sin. Once again, there are prerequisites to God hearing and answering our prayers. This is where confession in prayer is always so important.

-“Steadfast love” chesed covenant faithfulness, promise keeping God. One of the most important words in the whole OT. We’ll spend eternity mining the depths of this reality: God always holds Himself to His Word, and will never abandon his promise to love His people. That’s how we know it’s always worthwhile to reach out to God.

-“It is the most powerful form of prayer just to set our case before God, just to lay bare all our sorrow and all our needs and then say ‘Lord, there it is.’” -C. H. Spurgeon. When I read that I posted in on FB and had someone I grew up with post a link (with no comment) to an article on the scientific study of whether prayer works. As we saw a couple weeks ago, this is practical atheism, that’s what we practice when we don’t actually believe that God will answer our prayers, which in many cases leads to prayerlessness. 

-Refuge – remember from last week the prayer for God to preserve, protect David

-At this point, David calls to mind events in Israel’s history. Moments that God protected and preserved them. 

-First “adversaries at your right hand” across the Red Sea when they escaped Pharoah’s army Ex. 15. God saved His people back then, He can save his people today!

-Second, one of the last recordings from Moses, shortly before he died in Deut. 32 God is described as caring for His people as “the apple of his eye” and as an eagle caring for their young.

-You need to find ways to remember how God has protected and preserved you historically. Write them down, find some kind of trinket, but remember. And then share! Part of the way God will remind us is through others who can remind us of ways God has provided in the past. And by sharing you can hear how God has provided for other people, giving you continued confidence He’ll provide for you.

-Remember, David is asking this as his enemy is creeping up on him. Vs. says his enemies surround him, so when he’s facing death, he takes time to remind himself what God is like, and how He has protected His people in the past.

-This is where it’s important to grow in theology, understanding who God is. Saw a provocative book titled this week “10 Things God Can’t Do, That Will Help You Sleep at Night.” 

-One characteristic I’ve been meditating on recently is the immutability of God, God does not/cannot change. Don’t we often think of that as a negative characteristic? You see the commercials: “My husband still doesn’t put his socks in the hamper, and we’ve been married 30 years!” But what about someone who is so perfect, that ANY change would be negative? Because God doesn’t change, you can trust that the world will keep spinning, that the sun will continue to shine, that there will be oxygen that you can breathe into your lungs. This reality, this theological truth, is meant to bring us peace in the midst of our changing circumstances. This is why we can trust in Him, look back to Him, remind ourselves who He is when we struggle.

-Notice that all of this comes before David actually starts to talk about his enemies. He’s begun by pleading his innocence, his righteousness before God, he recounts truths about God both who God is, and the way God has historically provided for His people, and then he gets to the wicked. 

  • The Wicked (10-12)

-Where David was righteous, faithfully following the path God has designed for him, the wicked aren’t even close to how God has commanded people to live.

-Internally, their hearts have become calloused. This is a weird Hebrew phrase “they closed up their fat” Apparently an old idiom, my son this week started learning about idioms! Cara’s parents were in town, her dad made a joke asking “where do you find an elephant? In the room!” As in there’s the elephant in the room. It went right over my poor son’s head. As someone who is not a native English speaker, how would you understand “an elephant in the room”? You’d start looking for an elephant! For us, “they closed up their fat” would be similarly hard to interpret, so some translations have their hearts have become calloused, ESV: They close their hearts.

-Remember as well how much David had emphasized his clean conscience in regards to his lips: lips free from deceit, mouth will not transgress. Yet the wicked “speak arrogantly.” We’ve seen this in other Psalms this summer: Ps. 15 talked about the person who lives with God speaks truth, Ps. 14 talked about the fool who says in his heart no God. Speaking arrogantly has no place in God’s kingdom!

-These wicked people have surrounded David, and leave him no room to continue walking on God’s path, and their intent is to throw them down.

-To paint a better picture, David compares them to a lion. I couldn’t help but think of The Lion King with this imagery: young Simba being taught by Mufasa how to sneak up on Zazu during his morning report.

  • God’s Deliverance (13-14)

-David then asks for God to deal with them. Look at the verbs: arise, confront, subdue, deliver. God has the ability to completely destroy them. Ultimately, we know that will happen when Christ returns, but sometimes he’ll even do it on this side of eternity! However, don’t place your hope in that!

-Look at the last 2 words of vs. 14b “this life” What makes Christians unique is our hope isn’t in this life.

-David even goes on to describe all the material blessings the wicked receive: treasures, lots of children who all receive a large inheritance. It often feels like the world is unfair like this. The godly get the scraps and the wicked ones are blessed.

-Our whole lives this will be the temptation, to look for satisfaction from worldly things. Money, cars, houses, the right clothes, the right haircut, the right body type. Yet there’s always something more!

-Not inherently bad! Jesus warned repeatedly to not be consumed by wealth, but at the same time He was sponsored by wealthy people who supported His ministry! But these people are using their wealth to put their hope in Jesus: “where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21)

  • My Satisfaction is the Lord (15)

-David concludes where he began, talking about his ultimate hope being in God.

-Remember, “Just cause” in vs. 1, David uses the exact same Hebrew word here that is translated as “righteousness” Intentionally referring back to what he’d said before. He has proven himself, and because of that He can behold God.

-2 ways to take the second half: either in the resurrection, or literally the next morning! “Likeness”: literally form. Some translate as “reveal yourself to me” others “presence” David is assured God will deliver Him, no need to worry!

-Do you believe God will answer your prayers like this, or does reading something like this tend to stress you out because you feel like your prayers stop at the ceiling?

-David begins noting his innocence, he has nothing to confess, nothing to worry about, no secret sins to expose. Then he moves to praise God and remind himself of how God has saved his people in the past, he asks the Lord for deliverance from his enemy, and then trusts that God will answer him.

-For us: we’ve seen over the past few Psalms how we’re not inherently righteous! We have no good in ourselves apart from God at work in us.

-But Jesus is the perfectly righteous one. Look at how Heb. 5:7 describes Him. “He was heard.” And we even have accounts in the Gospels of Jesus praying for us (John 17:20). Since Jesus Himself, who is definitely heard when He prayed, we can continue praying in the Spirit, through the sacrifice of the Son, to the Father.

-And now (Rom. 8:34), because of the way Jesus made through his death on the cross, He intercedes, prays, on our behalf and invites us to pray to God boldly, with thanksgiving because of the access we have. Our Father invites us in, not because of anything we’ve done or haven’t done, but because when He looks at us He sees Jesus in us, sanctifying and purifying us, making us “righteous ones”

Psalm 15 – Sermon Manuscript

-Series on the Psalms, Psalm 15 serves as the antithesis to Psalm 14. Last week we saw the fool who denies God exists either by what they believe or how they live. This week we’re going to be looking at what a superhero looks like!

-Who is your favorite superhero? Micah, Elizabeth, Cara and I saw the new Thor this weekend and enjoyed seeing the next installment of Marvel movies! But even if you don’t like superheroes, you have to admit they have a cultural influence right now! I remember the first time I saw X-Men at a sleepover, got blown away seeing blades come out of Wolverine’s hands. Or when the first Spider-Man came out in 2002, and then seeing Iron Man in 2008. These heroes, normal looking people who are asked to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, wrestling with emotions, friends, high school, being outcasts, yet staying true to their morals (even when they have misguided or broken morals). 

-We’re not the first generation to be obsessed with this! The Epic of Gilgamesh (2000 BC), The Greek pantheon of gods, Roman pantheon of gods. We love hearing stories of people who look like us, but are so much better than us.

-This Psalm shows us God’s measurement of a superhero, it can be summarized by the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

READ/PRAY

  1. 2 Questions (1)

-One of the most fascinating things I learned during Seminary is how the Lord accommodated Himself to His people.

-Even the fact that God speaks words to us is His accommodating us. Onetime heard a theologian say that any talk to us is like baby talk to God (how I talk to Lucy)  

-Ancient tabernacle is built similarly to other ANE religions. Notice: similarly. Some huge differences and distinctions too that demonstrate why God is different than the other gods people worship

-Other religions would begin by asking the penitent pilgrim a question about why they should be given access to the god they’re seeking, often it’s done by a certain ritual, specific actions done in just the right way

-Isn’t that an interesting marker of man-made religions? In order to gain access or approval from the supreme being, one must clean themselves up, or do specific actions, or say specific phrases. But how can one ever know if they’ve done it correctly? Mormons have to order their entire life around this pursuit, spend a year on mission in order to be right. Roman Catholics have to go to confession, say hail marys, be baptized a specific way. Muslims have to pray a VERY specific direction, otherwise it’s blasphemy. 

-Martin Luther climbing the Scala Sancta in 1510, 28 marble steps that Jesus climbed on his way to Pontius Pilate, repeated the ‘Our Father’ at each step, got to the top and still wasn’t sure if it was sufficient.

-Maybe you’ve done something similar: you snap at your wife so you find some way to self-flagellate yourself by skipping a meal or getting up extra early to read your Bible for the next week. You’re short with your kids so you vow to spend more time with them doing their favorite activity for the next 3 days. There’s an innate desire to be proven adequate, to measure up, isn’t there?

-Some scholars think these opening questions were meant to serve as a call to worship, an entrance point to the tabernacle.

-Verbs here: sojourn, dwell refer to temporary lodging. Not permanent. Referring to some relationship with God, but not something that would be eternal (yet!)

-God’s manifest presence in the OT was situational and locational. This is why the Israelites built the whole tabernacle system – their tents were gathered around the tabernacle, God was literally the centering point around which their entire lives existed. We could learn something from that today! Do we, do YOU operate you’re whole life with God as the centering point, or do you try to keep him on the periphery? 

-Because the reality is: God’s manifest presence today has no constraints! There is literally no place where we can’t worship God (I realize that’s a double negative) There are no longer constraints on where we’re supposed to worship God. God’s intent from the dawn of creation was to have the whole world full of people imaging (representing) Him to the rest of creation, worshipping Him completely and fully. 

-I was listening to a podcast this week that got into a discussion on why they don’t like referring to this room as a “sanctuary” that I thought was fascinating! Throughout the Bible, the sanctuary refers to the place where God’s manifest presence dwells. Now that’s in each of us, it’s not supposed to be contained by a building. I had a similar issue at the church I previously served, when I got there it was called “the worship center.” In John 4, Jesus tells the woman at the well that that day the worship of God was no longer constrained by a place. Now, I get the desire to create sacred spaces, mark this as different, but what we need to remember is what’s different about this is the fact that we’re all together. Young, old, tall, short, people from every nation, tribe and tongue gathered here together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, remembering what He did on our behalf. That can happen in this room, outside, in a hut in the jungle, in a cathedral, in a house, anywhere in the world! Now we have a permanent tent, and we can permanently dwell in God’s holy hill!

-When David wrote this, God’s people would go to Jerusalem 3 times a year, Passover, Firstfruits, Booths where they were encouraged to examine themselves and as they grew closer to the holy hill, Jerusalem. We don’t have to wait to get somewhere to come before God with prayer or confession, we can do it anywhere in the world.

  • The Answer (2-5)

-As David moves to the answer to these questions, what you should notice is how dissimilar this would have been to any other religion.

-Are any of these descriptions religious rituals? Doesn’t it seem to be more descriptive of a moral, upright person than someone who follows every piece of religious observance?

-List is not exhaustive (similar to the “gifts” lists in the NT), look at a couple other places: Psalm 24Isaiah 33

-Psalm 24: clean hands and a pure heart, religious observances! Imaging God.

Isaiah 33: MUCH more religious rules: righteously (in right, good, perfect standing before God), then goes on to the application, or someone who is morally upright. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Similar to what we see in Psalm 15!

  1. Character (2a)

-Walks blamelessly: refers to the whole orientation of someone’s life. The way they operate is: whole, sound, complete. Connects to shalom, everything in this person’s life is properly ordered. No one can find any fault.

-Right: other translations translate this as righteous, which then connects to justice. Everything done is morally true and pure, brings about shalom or lasting justice. 

-We’re reading a new kid’s Bible with our kids at night, last night we read a story from Amos 5:24 “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Preached through Amos last Spring, was struck by these phrases again. God’s people are meant to let justice roll down like waters. Some of the rain we got this week – drenched the ground, water pouring out of your gutters, that’s how we’re supposed to cover the earth with lasting justice. And righteousness will have NO end! And this is who can boldly come before God.

  • Speech (2b-3a)

-Remember last week, the description of the fool who says in his heart there is no god, contrasted to that is this person who speaks only truth in his heart. Can you imagine someone like that? No deception whatsoever, not even to himself! One of my favorite preachers loves saying “no one lies to you more than yourself” and it’s true! 

-I am NOT a morning person! So if you ever ask to meet me early in the morning and I do, know that I love you and am sacrificing greatly to be there. But I have tried to become a morning person my entire adult life: go to bed early, set 5 alarms, I have lost track of the number of alarms I’ve slept through, but each night I still promise myself that I’m going to become a morning person. Hopefully someday! But the point remains, I still lie to myself more than anyone else in the world (and so do you!) We are far less rational than we would like to admit, and far more driven by our deepest emotions and desires.

-Jesus in Matt. 12:34 “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” The Bible has a lot to say about the words we use. 

-Who can tame their tongue? 

James 3: like an inferno, rudder, horse bit

-Do you want to see what’s really in someone’s heart, look how they talk. 

-Best analogy I heard of this, if I am walking around with a cup of coffee and someone bumps into me, what’s going to come out? Hopefully coffee! If something else comes out, we’re in trouble! When someone “bumps” into you, what comes out of your mouth? Anger? Bitterness? Love?

  • Conduct (3b-5)

-Does no evil to neighbor

-Do those who live closest to you view you through an encouraging light? Talking to my neighbor behind the fence shortly after we moved in about who the good vs. bad neighbors are. Eye opening!

-Reproach against his friend. Lit. “he does not lift up an insult against one who is near to him.”

-The wicked (saw last week!) don’t even care about God, much less their friends and neighbors. 

-Gossiping/slandering hurts the cause of Christ in your life. DO NOT gossip! 

-Friend who wrote the book ‘Resisting Gossip’, anytime someone makes a comment about his book, he gets all serious and says “what have you heard, give me the scoop!” Gossip tears down someone who is made in the very image of God, which is why Jesus told us in Matt. 18 how we’re supposed to go about confronting someone who has wronged us. Follow that! It’s in the Bible for a reason!

-Vile person

-Just as the Lord looked down literally and metaphorically, so the righteous one looks down on the vile

-Fears the Lord

-Doesn’t try puff themselves up (1 Cor. 8:1), humbly supports and encourages those who are obeying the Lord, will fight for them

-read this week a commentary on this Psalm that said this text also refers to the unborn, which I thought was timely! Do we care for the most marginalized, those who have yet to even enter our world.

-Swear to own hurt

-The righteous one follows through on what he says. Doesn’t speak out of turn, but when they do speak, they will follow through everything they say. 

Hook (1991) “my word is my bond”

-Jesus in Matt. 5:33-37 “Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’” If you’re a righteous person that’s all that would be needed. You should be trustworthy!

-Handling of money

-Does not charge interest. Is all interest bad? 

Deut. 23:20 “You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest.” 

-Are you ridiculously generous? Some people are given a gift at making money or being successful in their vocation, pursue those things! Use your gifts! And then be a righteous person with them! You’re going to spend that money very differently than the world would!

-No bribe, care for the marginalized (just like the Lord last week toward the poor)

-Never be moved

-Building a house upon the solid foundation of God 

-Matt. 7:24-27 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who build his house in the rock”

  • Can This Be Done?

-As we were going through all these characteristics of the righteous one, did anyone come to mind who exemplifies these things? 

-I was out right away! I don’t live blamelessly, I don’t even always speak truth in my heart! I’m prone to deception, to lying to myself and others, to harboring bitterness. I haven’t perfectly perfected the use of my tongue yet, I wish I had! And I haven’t met anyone yet who would claim to perfectly embody this list?

  1. No!

-Remember last week’s message: there is no one who does good. 

-Pure religiosity will never fully achieve this. That’s why Jesus says “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” Matt. 5:20. These were the people who tithed off their salt and pepper! They were SO CAREFUL with their possessions that every little piece was accounted for and given it’s proper due to the Lord.

-Maybe you’ve tried to do that! You think if you just buckle down and get to work you’ll be able to reach this perfect level that God has placed. 

Rom. 3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” 

-We’re not under the law anymore! Someone came to earth who walked blamelessly, who spoke not a careless word, who only loved and cared for his neighbors and friends, who looked down on the religiosity of the day but with care and compassion toward the disenfranchised, and did not love money but instead gave freely to all. 1 Peter 2:22 “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”

-Even focus on the last line of vs. 4: Jesus came because God made a commitment to the human race, a covenant with Adam, then Abraham that He would provide a way for them to be made whole again. The Bible is the repeated story of God swearing to His own hurt, bearing the brunt of His people’s sins, yet not backing down.

  • But Yes!

Psalm 5:7 “but I through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness.”

-If you have chosen to say no to the ways of this world, and have instead said yes to Jesus, you now have the privilege and responsibility of starting to live like someone who is described in this Psalm. But you can’t do it by yourself! You need to become more and more dependent on Jesus working in you. If you don’t live this way, you will be cut off. Jesus talks about this in John 15

John 15:10 we can now obey and live righteous lives because we are abiding, rooted, planted, growing in God. Notice the word IF. Obedience and love are not 2 disconnected ideas, if you want God’s love to be manifest in your life, then obey! If you want to be someone who lives out these descriptions, give up trying to do it in your own strength and power, and remember that it is Christ working in you to bring about His perfect plan. This is how God says we can live forever with Him. That is the kind of superhero God is, and calls us to pursue being.

Psalm 14 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Why do you believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world? Have you ever given thought to reasons or rationale for believing in Him, and believing that we have a rational faith that makes sense of the world and our lives? 

-Dr. Groothius in Seminary: “the defence of Christianity is objectively true, compellingly rational, and pertinent to the whole of life. I have dedicated my entire adult life to that defending that claim.”

-Because Christianity is defensible, it gives us a reason to have hope when the world around us is full of chaos.

-Hopelessness is seen all around us today, deaths of despair, upcoming generation despondent about climate change, wars taking place in Europe for the first time since WW2, friendship is on the decline

-When do you tend to feel hopeless about the world around us? When you feel that way, do you take your thoughts to God, or do you start to complain about how unfair life is and either ignore or blame God for your current state of affairs?

-When I feel that way, I need to go back and remind myself why things are this way, remind myself who God is, and ultimately speak the truth to myself!

READ/PRAY

  1. The Unbelief of the Fool (1-4)

-Not something you should run around referring to people as! Hebrew has a few words that we translate as fool, and all of them refer to something that is morally inferior, not intellectually inferior.

-Not saying this person is dumb, instead they’re refusing to acknowledge that there is a moral standard they aren’t matching up to, which the rest of the verse goes on to talk about

-However, there is a base level that true intellectual pursuit can’t be found apart from God. If the pursuit of intelligence is meant to lead to the discover of the truth, and the source of everything (including truth) is God Himself, how can someone legitimately pursue intelligence apart from God? While the Hebrew denotes moral inferiority, I don’t think this leaves out intellectual inferiority. But how can this be, when some of the “smartest” people in the world are avowed atheists?

-One of the things that has fascinated me in the past is the entire University system was initially conceived as centering around theology, which was referred to as the “queen of the sciences” Theology was the centering point around which everything else flowed, hence a uni (1) versity

-Paul picks up on and expands this idea in Rom 1:22-23

-Mere intellectual pursuit isn’t enough! It will point to, reveal, demonstrate God, but just pursuing more smarts is a pointless aim unless it finds it’s fulfilment in the worship of God, talked about this idea in the Spring when we looked at the image of God. We, as sinners, participate in the great exchange, where instead of worshipping the Creator God, we worship the creation, that is God’s definition of foolishness!

-Now, notice where the fool says this: in his heart, Lit. “No God”

-He has convinced himself (or herself), that’s where Romans says this is self-deception. In Ecclesiastes we’re reminded that God has placed eternity in our hearts, which is where humans have an innate desire for something more or bigger than themselves. 

-If you haven’t heard/read the statistics, the biggest growth in religion is “nones” (not nuns), but what’s fascinating is if you dig a little further into the research, something like 40% of the self-identified “nones” believe in the God of the Bible. So they’re refusing to identify with a specific religious identity, but they still believe in God. How have we gotten to the point of separating these 2 things out? I don’t get how you believe the God of the Bible, but you’re not a Christian.

-When I was in college, it was really cool to say “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” I get what you’re trying to say, but it’s more accurate to say it’s a religion AND a relationship! I heard a story onetime of a professor who has a sign that he brings to every class, on one side is the phrase “I don’t know” on the other side is the phrase “both/and”

-I even saw this week, Chris Pratt (Star Lord, Jurassic Park, Parks & Rec) clarified that he’s not a religious person because religion is all about oppression, but he is a Christian.

-Part of the challenge is you can’t learn these things the natural way we learn, just studying more or reading more or being taught more, the Bible says apart from a transformed heart, these things will continue to appear foolish to people.

1 Cor. 2:14 these things are spiritually discerned, AKA you can’t figure out who God is just by looking at the world He made. It points to Him, but it doesn’t contain Him, He is not constrained by or the same as His creation. 

-Then look at what this denial about God leads to: corruption and abominable deeds.

-A well-known picture of this is seen in the book many of you have heard about or read: the Lord of the flies. A group of young boys escape England during a war but the plane carrying them crashes on an uninhabited island where their attempts to govern themselves lead to death, destruction and chaos. That’s a great picture of what happens apart from God sovereignly guiding things – who cares what God says if I’m my own god? That’s where this next verse is so funny!

-The Lord looks down.

-How do you look at an ant? Sitting in our driveway, oh weird! Look at them all!

-One of the fascinating things throughout the Bible is how God responds to those who think of themselves as being something great. In Gen. 11:5, the Tower of Babel, they planned to build a tower so high it would reach to the heavens and make them gods: “The Lord came down”, Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. 4Psalm 2 the kings of the land make themselves great and God laughs!

-Atheists act as if they’re the intellectual gods, they have arrived, have all the answers, and God both intellectually and literally has to look down, and what does he see?

-A lack of understanding, corruption, no one doing any good, not even one.

-It makes me think of another story in Genesis where Abraham is let in on a secret by the Lord to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah where his nephew Lot lived. 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10. This is literally why God sent Jesus, because there is no one who does good.

-That’s the argument Paul makes in Rom. 3:10-12. None of us are off the hook! We either deep down in our hearts believe there is no God, or we act as if there is no God and refuse to admit that we need Him. That’s where David will go on:

-No knowledge

-Claiming knowledge, they refuse to follow knowledge by not calling on the Maker of everything they study. Again, they are acting or assuming superiority to God, this is where atheism is so dangerous! 

-So how do you think God should respond?

  • God’s Response (5-7)

-Lit. “They feared a fear”

-Despite not acknowledging him, they live in fear, think of how difficult it would be to live without certainty, what reason or purpose would there be to live if there wasn’t an end goal to live for? As you talk to people and ask them how certain they are about their beliefs, if you keep pushing don’t get you to a low-level sense of fear about everything? How many of us can guarantee anything? 

-Guy from high school who said he’d just wait until he’s on his deathbed to hurry up and say a prayer and then be fine, but what if that’s not how he dies?

-Story from Spurgeon about atheist, ship going down, stabbed in town, writes about “religious experiences”

-If the fools are opposed to God, who does God side with? 2 words used to describe them here: righteous and poor. Those are the ones that God will be a refuge for

-Jesus says something similar in the beatitudes: Matt. 5:3 poor in Spirit will have the kingdom of heaven. This is the paradox of the way God has ordered the world. It doesn’t make sense to the natural mind, it contradicts the way our flesh thinks we should operate and behave. 

-Think of some of the other things Jesus said: first shall be last, whoever wants to be greatest must become the least, you’re blessed when you’re persecuted. Do any of those things sound like the way the world should work?

-If we want trust success and true flourishing, it means that we must acknowledge that God is God and we are not! It means we need to come to the end of ourselves, admit that we too often try to live as fools and instead become fools to the world.

-It is by being worldly foolish that God will serve as our refuge

-We don’t often need a refuge today, our world is at times far too safe! Everywhere we go we’re in a refuge: car, house, work. It wasn’t always like that, and any travel often meant you were dependent on someone else’s hospitality to act as a refuge for you. When we come to God as our refuge, we are completely safe, and nothing, not even the most formidable army in the world can fight against God. So we need to trust Him!

-That’s where David ends this prayer in vs. 7:

-Salvation

-Notice the certainty of this salvation, not if, when. Micah reminded us last week that we can and should turn to God in the midst of our struggles and pain because we know that God will restore our fortunes. It’s not if, it’s when! So if you are struggling, if you are hurting, bring it to God and trust that God will restore your fortunes. HOWEVER, it might not be on this side of heaven. God doesn’t guarantee us health and wealth here, but when we’re with Him, all those things that are broken are done.

-Spurgeon: “On earth are atheists many, in hell there is not any.”

-God has revealed himself in creation, but God most manifestly shows Himself in the cross. The real crux of apologetics has to answer: what do you do with Jesus?

-No serious historical scholar doubts that there was a Jesus who made some pretty big waves in the first century. The only question becomes, how do you respond to Jesus, and where do you find out more about Him?

  • Are You a Fool?

– Or maybe another way to ask this question is who views you as a fool, God or the world? Or perhaps even if you’re not a practicing atheist, are you a practical atheist, living and operating as if God doesn’t exist and you don’t need Him?

-I’ve been getting some interesting apologetic questions since I moved here, and wanted to just give you all a really brief introduction to some of these questions to help you begin to understand why we can and should believe in Christianity as reliable and defensible as the one true faith in the world. 2 parts: first the existence of God, second the existence and purpose of Jesus. 

-Doubt is the natural state, it’s completely normal to have doubts and questions about God, but don’t just stop there! Since God is the source of all truth, He stand up to your scrutiny, and believe it or not, there are answers to every question I’ve ever had, heard, been asked, or read about whether or not God is real and can exist. Church, we don’t need to view faith and science or faith and reason as opposed to each other! The creation points to God! We can learn about God from both science and faith! We need more Christians who take seriously the Bible and seriously their scientific pursuit! 

-Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology (171-172) summarizes the 4 primary arguments for the existence of God: cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral.

-1. Cosmological. Nothing exists by itself. Everything that exists is dependent on something else to be. If everything in the universe must have a cause, then the universe itself must have a cause. I remember learning about the big bang in middle school, and then joking that I believed in the big bang: God said it and bang there it was! But God could have used a “big bang” as His chosen means of creating the universe! I’ll leave it at that, if you want to talk further about that, or want more resources about that email me!

-2. Teleological this is taken from the Greek word “telos” which means purpose. Think of all the incredible ways we see the purpose around us. The moon creates tides and rhythms, our planet is the perfect distance away from the sun to provide life giving nutrients, the water cycles reproduces itself to give us what we need. The best example I’ve heard of this argument is like a watch (old school watch, not like my fancy new Apple Watch!) If you were to stumble across a watch would you be amazed at what the ocean created by the waves pounding against the sand, or would you think someone dropped their watch? Think of all the various components that make up our bodies, do you think it was a complete accident?

-3. Ontological this one gets to some of the intellectual discussions people like to have. Has been a philosophical conversation since the 11th Century. Asks the question: what is the greatest being that can possibly be imagined? Then, if you can come up with that being, to exist is greater than not existing, so intellectually you’re at God! If you want to dig further, again email me!

-4. Moral: why do we have things that are considered good and bad? Is it just cultural? Is is just upbringing? This argument says what justification can there be for there being morality in the world? Why is Mother Theresa lauded as an example to the world, while Adolf Hitler conjures up hatred and anger? 

-Liar, lunatic, Lord, legend.

CS Lewis on Jesus:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

-Maybe all these ideas came about after Jesus lived, and then became a legend like King Arthur. 

-More than I have time for, but this is where it’s worth to note all the historical evidence we have for the validity of the NT

Lewis again: “Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there is no conversation that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence.”

-We can believe that Christianity is objectively true, compellingly rational, and pertinent to the whole of life

-Study these things, but also share your story of what God has done in your life. Even if someone doesn’t believe the apologetic arguments, they can’t argue with a changed life, so refuse to live like an atheist and demonstrate that you believe in God, it will transform every aspect of your life

Psalm 12 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Psalm vs. Psalms

-The expression of human emotion. Listened to a podcast this week: Luther called the Psalms “the little Bible” meaning if you prayed through the Psalms you would pray everything in Scripture Calvin “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.”

-The Psalms give us language and prayers to use in the midst of whatever is going on in our lives. God was intentional about including a book of songs that give us language to process every emotion in our lives.

-Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Scottish pastor died at 29, compiled what may be the most used Bible reading plan where you go through the OT once, NT and Psalms twice, viewed the Psalms as just as important as the NT!

-Similarly, Thomas Cranmer (anyone heard of him) wrote the Book of Common Prayer still in use today, he viewed the Psalms as so important, the church read through all of them every single month!

-Nice thing about the Psalms, can be read through every month! Pick which ever day it is, multiply by 5, read through the next 5 Psalms, you’ll get through them every month!

-The hard part is preaching them! Many of these Psalms sound VERY similar, and they can end up running together! Still God’s Word, still applicable to us, still beneficial for growth in godliness, and above all these things it’s the songbook Jesus grew up singing. It’s not a coincidence that on the cross, Jesus’ last words were quoting the Psalms. The Psalms have given voice to God’s people for centuries, so I think we can be benefitted by learning God’s way of processing emotions too!

-One note: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in God’s divinely inspired hymnal doesn’t contain musical notes. The emotions expressed in these songs can be adapted to any cultural context and any style of music. We don’t even know what the musical notes mean!

-Summary: share your burden, listen to what God says, remind yourself who God is

READ/PRAY (257) 

  1. Wicked Words (1-4)

-This Psalm feels very applicable for today! Doesn’t it feel like there’s no more godly people involved in the public square? 

-Some of that is natural, life is all about our interpretation of our experiences. My sister and I largely lived the same life, but we are radically different people and even interpret our growing up through VERY different lenses. Same thing with Cara and I, can sit through the same conversation and have 2 very different interpretations of what happened! (She’s right, I’m wrong)

-The description of what’s going on is most explicit in vs. 2.

-“Everyone utters lies to his neighbor”

-Breaking the 9th commandment, remember we looked at this 2 weeks ago with Gospel Rooted Growth: when we lie we act as if our external image is more important than someone else. But what about an entire community marked by lying? How would anyone ever trust another? 

-Do you really think EVERYONE has turned into a liar? Using hyperbole to make a point, but I’m guessing at times it feels that way, doesn’t it? Have you ever felt like you’re the only person around you who’s trying to faithfully follow after God?

-Not just lying (as if that weren’t enough!), flattering lips and double heart.

-Flattering lips is buttering up unnecessarily, a corollary of lying. Keeps speaking super highly, yet you know they just keep digging themselves into a bigger hole because there’s no way you’re as great as they’re making you out to be.

-And finally, double heart. Lit. “they speak with a heart and a heart.” Talking out of both sides of their mouth.

-I think the best example of this is in politics. People only listen enough to condemn and villainize their opponents. I remember listening to a comedian onetime who picked up this idea, smear campaign against an opponent accused him of wanting to legalize shooting against children. The guy gets up and says “I was thinking of situations where a child gets a hold of a weapon and we need to do anything to prevent worse problems” The other guy responds “he wants to kill children!” WHAT?

-And it’s worse when the news sources get a hold of it! Look at these headlines referring to the same story (don’t read anything beyond the difference of opinions into this, not making a political statement right now, just showing competing interpretations). One of them is true, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know which one it is.

-At times, doesn’t it feel like our entire world is just crazy, and there’s only a few sane people left? 

-The Bible actually has a wonderful example of this idea of feeling all alone in the stand for what is right and good and true: Elijah in 1 Kings 19:10

-The story of Elijah is, I think fascinating, but what’s most fascinating about this instance is he’s coming off one of the biggest and most successful stories in his life. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenges 850 false prophets to a showdown on Mt. Carmel to determine who the true God was. After spending the day dancing and begging, nothing happens to Baal’s offering. Elijah prays a simple prayer and Yahweh’s offering is consumed by fire. Instead of living on cloud 9, Elijah runs away and hides from Jezebel, the king’s wife. And out of that hiding comes this passage where God asks why Elijah is hiding. 

-Do you think Elijah is really the only one in the whole country who hasn’t followed Baal? Absolutely not! Does that negate the way Elijah feels? Absolutely not! I can guarantee, if you remain faithful in your pursuit of the Lord, there will be times and seasons where you will feel completely alone in that pursuit! But don’t forget, you’re not! 

-I had a season in high school where I felt this way! God really captured my heart between my Jr/Sr years and it started to feel like high school was just a waste of time. I complained to my dad about it, and he took me to the 1 Kings passage and said “even when it feels like it, you’re never alone.” Once again, this is why we need to meet together like we are today! If you’re feeling alone, please reach out to someone sitting nearby you, and remember, you’re not alone!

-But it’s also important to note, what is your response when you start to feel like you’re all alone, the only one who’s following after God with all your heart? 

-Do you tend to withdraw, run away to cave and sulk? Do you tend to act like the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings and grumble and complain about how difficult your life is and how nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen? Let’s look back at vs. 1 to see what our response SHOULD be.

-“Save, O Lord” When you feel isolated, alone, don’t forget that even if that were true, God is still with you. One of the first promises my parents taught me as I was growing up was in Deut 31:6 “He will never leave you or forsake you.” Do you believe that? And not only was that true in the OT, it’s doubly true now that God literally lives IN you! We are invited to bring our requests, cares, and concerns to God! We saw this back when we studied 1 Peter 5:7 “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” When you feel all alone, bring it to the Lord. 

-The way this verse starts demonstrates to us that David has the right orientation toward God. He knows this true, he trusts that God will take care of Him, so instead of grumbling and complaining, he cries out to God! 

-Look at what David asks God to do. This is a request for God to enact judgment, there are numerous Psalms that are called “imprecatory Psalms,” asking God to curse or bring evil upon someone. 

-Note here, David is essentially asking God to prevent the evil from continuing to spread. It’s “an eye for an eye” so he’s not going way beyond what the people are committing. It’s also interesting that these are God’s Words in the Bible, how do we process them, especially in light of Jesus’ new commands to bless those who curse us and pray for those who persecute us. How are we supposed to process these ideas? Much bigger than I can fully devote time to, briefly: be slow to adopt them, but what other words would we have in times of mass genocide like we’ve seen a few times in the past century? How do we process the atrocities of places like the concentration camps of the Third Reich? Or the shooting of little children in school? Or the attempts to kill the entire Uighur population in China right now? Or the straight land grab currently taking place in Ukraine? You ask for God to save the person, but don’t you also say: do whatever it takes to stop these evils! Honestly, I really wish I could be a pacifist, and at times I think it does a better job with Jesus’ ethics, but then I think back to the Russian gulags, or the German concentration camps, and then I pray for God to enact perfect, lasting justice. This is also something we pray for (or should pray for) more often than we realize. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer we are praying imprecatory things, when we ask for His kingdom to come and His will to be done we are asking for him to bring about perfect, lasting justice, to vanquish His enemies and correct the sinful ways of people. 

-Yet another reason I’m a Christian: it gives voice to the evils in the world. It doesn’t skirt around them, doesn’t try to minimize them, doesn’t bury its head in the sand and pretend they don’t exist, it faces it head on and gives language to process through it. More to come as we come across more imprecatory Psalms! 

-But I also want to approach this idea from a personal perspective. I think of the old hymn “Come Thou Fount” where we sing “prone to wander, Lord I feel it prone to leave the God I love.” What do we do when we’re the one that need our flattering lips and boastful tongues cut off? What do we do when we come face to face with our sinful tendencies?

Matt. 18:7-9. We tend to read this and jump to hyperbole, but don’t just jump there too quickly, I think Jesus has a real point here. 

-Jake’s snake story.

-We tend to treat our sin as a little pet that we can keep in its’ container and pull it out to play with it every once in a while, but by doing that we’re only playing with our certain doom. That’s where Jesus says it’s better for you to cut off limbs to ensure your holiness than play with your sin and die.

-Smooth talker: can sell a cup of water to someone drowning, sell an umbrella to someone in the Sahara during the dry season. This is someone who’s so confident in their ability to talk their way out of any situation that they’re confident they’ll never truly be found out. Intentionally deceiving others and being disobedient to God. 

-All that, and we’re only 4 verses in! But don’t worry, there’s only 4 more verses!

-This first section we saw to bring your requests to God, let Him know when you’re feeling alone and struggling.

  • Holy Words (5-8)
    • God’s Words (5-6)

-God responds, but what is it exactly that God is responding to? 

-to the poor and the needy One of the theological issues Jeramy and I discussed this past Spring was the burden of being wealthy. Most of the time we’re not even aware of the spiritual weight having money is to us. That’s why Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:24). That was a joke to make a point. How well would a camel fit through a needle? 

-Similarly, I read an article this week titled “True religion” The title is taken from James 1:27. The article said that unless your discipleship leads you to take better care of “orphans and widows” then you’re not growing as a disciple.

-Another situation I think fleshes this out: Jesus’ first public sermon (and description of His ministry) in (Luke 4:18-19). God cares about the marginalized in the world, it is when the marginalized are mistreated and abused that God responds. It should cause us to ask: do I care about the marginalized that I see around me? Who are the marginalized? Anyone that has a need (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, materially)

-This also gets us back to the imprecatory Psalms: we, today, are meant to be a visible demonstration of God’s lasting justice, that is care for the poor and oppressed looking for ways to care for them like God would care for them. 

-Look at what God will do, He won’t remove them from the situation, but will bring safety. God doesn’t promise us a carefree life, God promises to be with us the midst of whatever situations come our way.

-Compare the description of God’s words to the liar. Pure vs. impure. There is no double speak, no mocking, no flattering, no boasting, just pure honest words. What God says is true. Think about that, because God doesn’t change, the things He said here 3,000 years ago are just as true today as they were back then. They are more pure than the most refined precious metals in the world. 

-So for us, how do we treat/view God’s Word? Do you view it as pure? Do you meditate on it, soak in it, saturate our lives with it, or is it a nice treat on the side? Do you treat it as the main course or the dessert (eat sparingly). Jesus tells a story of how we should treat His Words: a man find a jewel in a field, sells everything to buy the field and gets the priceless jewel. Do we honor God’s Word as more valuable than a priceless gem/heirloom? 

-We need to be in God’s word to listen to what God says

  • Our Words (7-8)

-How does David respond to God’s promise to respond to the call of the poor and needy? 

-He extrapolates on the promises of God. God will keep the people He has promised to, nothing will be able to stand against Him and His ways. 

-Even if (unlike Elijah) you were literally the only child of God left on the earth, God would continue guarding and protecting you. 

-At the beginning of this Psalm, it seemed like the worldly generation would inevitably win, there’s no one godly left, but God will still protect and preserve, despite the evil walking right next to you.

-Keep to the straight and narrow, keep to faithfully following God’s Word, since the wicked prowl beside, but as long as we are being faithful and obedient to His ways, we continue taking one step forward as we seek to see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth just like it is in heaven.

-Preach to yourself: who is God, what is He like?

-So what do we do when we feel like we’re completely alone in the world? Share your burden, listen to what God says, remind yourself who God is

Gospel Rooted Growth – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

James 4:1-10

-Finally reached the end of this series! I hope it’s been encouraging to you, and a helpful reminder as far as what is it we need to focus on as a church, the non-negotiables that need to determine what we spend our time and money towards, and how we’re going to be moving forward together as a church. 

-Started with the mission of making and maturing disciples of Jesus. This is what sets the church apart from every other group, organization, or entity in the world. There are lots of other organizations doing lots of great work, but there’s only 1 group called to make disciples. That must be at the forefront of everything we do!

-Then we saw the need to by glorifying God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We are created to glorify someone/something, if we glorify something other than God it’s idolatry and leads to death.

-This need to glorify God means we need to lead the gospel permeate into everything we do, so we looked at gospel centered worship. All of our lives are meant to worship God, so the gospel needs to be both explicit and implicit in our lives, and in our gathered worship.

-We also need to be a gospel shaped community, we looked at Gal. 5 with the need to lovingly care for each other and live out the fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.

-This idea continues as we join with God’s mission to seek and save the lost. The church needs to embrace being the church and allow the gospel to shape both our gathering and our scattering. But the ultimate goal has never changed: God’s people in God’s place serving under God’s perfect rule and reign. Right now we already serve as an embassy where we serve a different king than the world. We do our best to represent that king and kingdom. Read this this week: 

-“The ambassador represents the message of the King, the methods of the King, and the character of the King.” (accelerate, 14)

-Let’s think about this for a minute. That ambassador language is taken from 2 Cor. 5 “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” 

3 aspects: message, methods, character. The message is the gospel, the good news of what Christ has done by entering into human history, dying on the cross, then rising again on the third day which changes everything about our future. That needs to be on the tip of our tongues and forefront of our minds for our whole lives.

-The methods are what I love describing as the “upside down way.” Acts 17:6 the early church is accused of “turning the world upside down.” Isn’t that exactly what Jesus coming does? Instead of being served we’re to serve others, instead of lording over people our status, we’re to act humbly. In our culture humility is a virtue, in the 1st century it’s a vice! God’s ways look counterintuitive to our fleshly human minds, but they’re the only way to find true, lasting life.

-The character. Brothers and sisters, we are literally commanded to look like God. “Be holy as I am holy.” (Lev. 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16) Have you ever thought of what that looks like? Being just as perfect as God? Don’t just run to “I’m not God” actually think about that for a minute.

-One characteristic about God I’ve been trying to meditate on recently is “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” When I am confronted with a sinful situation in my life or heart, I’m supposed to use that to run TO God not AWAY from God. So if we’re supposed to act like God, shouldn’t we be a welcome place for someone to run to when they’re confronted with their sin? Why do we act surprised when sinners sin? 

-Religion: “I messed up. Dad’s gonna kill me!” Gospel: “I messed up. I need to call Dad.”

READ/PRAY (pg. 587)

-Different message, intentionally today! I don’t like using a text as a springboard, but I think James lays a great foundation to talk through what I mean when I talk about gospel rooted growth, but then I’m going to spend the bulk of today on how to apply these truths using 2 of the most helpful books on sanctification (becoming holy) I’ve found: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands and How People Change. The first is in the library, the second will be there tomorrow.

  1. The Tensions of This World (1-4)

-The first step in any hope for growth is recognizing there is a problem! 

-I don’t know if any of you had this experience, but I had no clue how truly selfish I was until I got married! I thought I was a fairly patient, understanding person until I actually had to be accountable to someone for money, time, location!

-The problem for all of us is we are sinners, which means we are far far worse than we would ever imagine! We are sinners down to our core. This is why we need the gospel message, which means because of Christ we are far more loved than we could ever dream.

-James says even our passions are suspect! What is it that you most deeply think you want? Because if it’s anything other than life with Christ, you’re going to be severely disappointed. Think of the last time you got a new (at least to you) vehicle. You promise yourself that it will be different this time – cleaned every week, meticulously maintained, then what happens? Lasts for maybe a month! You can’t change you!

-Because of sin, we are our own worst enemy, and by giving in to the way the world operates, we put ourselves at war with God. Every time we sin we are breaking at least 2 commandments: the 1st one (no other gods) and then whichever of the next commandments we also broke. This is why worship is so important: we all worship someone or something, and sin has misplaced our worship. 1-3: no other gods, no other images, God’s name in vain (dishonor Him)

-4 Sabbath – my time is more important than God’s time, and I have no limits

-5 honor parents – my will is higher than God’s, and I don’t need authority in my life

-6 Do not murder – others exist for me, if I am not treated as the highest authority, I will seek revenge

-7 No adultery – my pleasure are more important than others, even God’s law

-8 Do not steal – I need more things to be satisfied instead of God

-9 No lying – my image is more important than someone else’s image

-10 do not covet – I similar to 7, my needs/desires are more important than others and I can’t celebrate when someone else is blessed.

-Prayer can help you do this! ACTS: by the time you get to “supplication” you’ll actually start to be praying for those needs according to God’s will.

-We need to treat sin as it really is: a cancer that spreads into our whole bodies affecting everything we do. John Owen: be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.

-So what do we do about that? This is where How People Change is so helpful! 

-Using Jer. 17:5-10 as a picture: heat, thorns, cross, fruit. I’ll let you go read the passage on your own time, but I’ll walk through this illustration to help you think through what this looks like in your life.

-Heat: situations that God brings into your life, all of us have things that happen to us each and every day. The way God works in us is our responses to the “heat” that comes into our lives. The Bible is full of examples of this! The Israelites, the kings, the prophets, the apostles. The Bible accounts how people responded to many of these situations! The way we respond to these situations reveal exactly what’s in our heart! Initially, our fleshly response leads to thorns.

-Thorns: these would be responses that manifest our sinful tendencies, and what kinds of things have you seen that come out when you respond to situations sinfully? These thorns are areas that God allows for us to see the ways our sin so easily entangles us.

-The authors have a list of typical ways people respond with thorns, I’ll just pick a couple and let you go read the rest.

Deny, avoid, escape: how many of us refuse to admit where we’re struggling or hurting? We put on the “good Christian” face, but inside we’re scared to admit we’re struggling to keep our head above water. Or maybe you’ve found ways to numb the difficulties you’re feeling, either with working too many hours, or eating too much food, or drinking too much. Whatever it is, it allows you to run from facing your thorns head on. 

Magnify, expand, catastrophize: maybe you view your entire life through a negative lens. No one else could ever truly understand your difficulties, no one else carries the same burden you carry, nor do you believe anyone else would truly care enough to let them in. Maybe it’s even giving into 1 story that has shaped the way you view literally everything!

Self-excusing self-righteousness: instead of actively killing our sin, we see our sin, but then blame other people for it and refuse to acknowledge it. This is most often manifested as children start to grow up and become independent. Your parent’s end up becoming the punching bag for all your issues because they clearly didn’t understand you as well as they should have. I could go on with these ideas, but you get the point! The thing to remember is: God will allow thorns to expose our sin.

-So what do we do? We run to God!

  • The Grace of God (5-6)

-God’s grace is sufficient. Grace is described as “the thick rod of rebar that courses through the concrete of the biblical story.” (Instruments, 32)

-The very moment where we’re tempted to turn around and run away from God, the moment when we feel most distant, most disconnected, most afraid of Him, is the moment where He is most near. It’s at that moment when we finally start to realize that we need His grace. Lewis: “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Spurgeon: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.”

-Leads us back to the need to bring everything to the cross.

-Cross:

-The cross means we have a brand new way of living (because of God’s grace) that wasn’t available to us before God saved us. This idea is most clearly demonstrated in:

-Gal. 2:20 This new life is signified with baptism, we die as our old selves and rise as Christ. Not an improved person, a brand new one! I have been crucified (saved) Christ lives in me (present tense) The life I live in the body (ability to live a new life daily)

-This is how we now have the ability to live a changed life! All the excuses we once had are now pointless and useless. Because of the cross, we can own up to the times we fall short, which leads instead of thorns to:

-Fruit: lasting heart change instead of merely external obedience is only possible because the gospel is taking root in our lives.

-ILLUS: staple an apple to a dead branch. Does this apple have any hope of continuing to grow? This is what happens when we try to force obedience without a transformed heart. With my kids! Until God saves them, this is what I’m going to be doing (doesn’t mean it’s bad for parenting, but as they grow I need to continue going for the heart, not the externals)

-This is where we all have the need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. You need God’s grace today just as much as you did yesterday, and you’ll need God’s grace tomorrow just as much as you’ll need it today.

-However, we often forget that we need the gospel in our lives today. We have a tendency to view the gospel past tense (were saved) and future tense (will be glorified) but the gospel is also the means by which we can have lasting fruit. And once again, we need to remember this needs to be done in the context of the church. James is written to a church to help them live out these truths. Galatians is written to a church to help them live out these truths. Actually the NT is written FOR THE CHURCH to live out and embody gospel rooted growth.

-So how do we do that together? I’m glad you asked!

  • Humble Repentance (7-10)

-Submit to God: don’t puff yourself up, allow Him to work in you.

-Resist the devil: we can actually do that now! Before we had no hope of defeating his temptations, but now we can!

-Watch your life and belief: life: “cleanse your hands” belief: “purify your hearts”

9 – how do you respond when you’re made aware of thorns in your life?

-“God uses the instrument of His Word, delivered by human preachers and applied by the Spirit, to call his people to repentance.” ESV Expositors

-Every revival in church history began with repentance!

-How do we seek repentance together? First we need each other!

-Heb. 3:12-13. Love, know, speak, do from Instruments

  1. Love

-Christ’s love in us, which compels us as believers (2 Cor. 5:14-15), we have a new way of treating others, we are actually called to love them, even our enemies! That’s where love is described by Jesus as the last apologetic, the way the world knows if we’re Christians. 

-“If there had been no fall, if we had never sinned, we would still need help because we are human.” (Instruments, 41)

-Get up in each other’s business! We act as if we can’t have deep, lasting relationships, but that’s exactly what we need! If we are only known 99% we’re not actually known! This leads us to:

  • Know

-Ask questions, don’t assume you know everything that’s going on.

-Need honesty, both sides: look in the mirror before the other (log vs. speck)

-Try to actually understand the other person. How many arguments take place because you don’t actually understand what the other person is saying?

-Or let’s think about this another way, go to the Dr but you’re dishonest about your symptoms, will the medicine he prescribes be effective? In order to deal with the cancerous sin, we need to use the right medicine, it is the gospel, but it’s applied in different ways.

  • Speak

-Speak the truth in love. What do we speak? “The word of Christ” (Col. 3:16)

-Don’t just confront your preferences, confront where someone is out of line with what the Bible commands! AKA, extend grace to others and assume the best. Even in confronting, you can do it in a way that honors and assumes the best of someone else! 

-Podcast this week, “I heard you saw ____ this week and I’m just wondering if you meant that, why you said that, and how that aligns with Scripture?”

  • Do

-Continue living in relationship with them. This is going to need to happen again and again until Christ returns.

-Accountability. Do people know what’s really going on in your heart? When you are demonstrating thorns instead of fruit, who will tell you?

-Long term hope for us: 

-a healthy church that intentionally looks to welcome people in 

-disciples them on what a healthy church looks like and how it operates (steeped in God’s grace)

-and sends them out, every week, but also:

-Church planting. I found documents from 2008 when I got here that said “South Suburban needs to remain committed to church planting,” and I completely agree!

-Church revitalization. Until Christ returns, church’s are going to need help to get healthy. How can we help other churches be healthy? When one church catches fire for the Lord, it raises the temperature of every other church around them.

-Pastoral training. Because of my commitment to the local church, I’m convinced the best place to train pastors is, guess where? Partner with seminaries to help train new pastors.

-Today is multiplication Sunday in our district. We have an EFCA church plant coming into Eagan, Lord willing this fall! What can we do to help them be a healthy church that’s pursuing God’s kingdom together?

Gospel Driven Mission – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Continuing sermon series: making & maturing disciples of Jesus, we seek to do that as a transformed people who are glorifying God through gospel centered worship, gospel shaped community, gospel driven mission, leading to gospel rooted growth.

-Started preparing this week, then realized what I wanted to say was essentially the storyline of Scripture.

-The gospel is the story of the Bible: God, man, Christ, response. Spurgeon, all roads in England lead back to London, all passages of Scripture lead back to Christ

-Just as the gospel, and all of Scripture center around Christ, so does the outworking of God’s mission. Think of a passage like Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Because people are lost, they must be found, rescued, saved, which is only possible because of Jesus. 

-What is/should be the mission of the church?

-“Mission” has come under scrutiny in recent years, since I moved here Bruce and I have been having a dialogue about how to define “missions,” what is included in it, what drives it, and even what is a “missionary”

-When we talk about this, you may have even heard the idea “all of us are missionaries!” and I always want to stop and ask: is that true? 

-One of the best movies to come out of the early 2000s is a classic Pixar movie called The Incredibles. It’s about a family of superheroes who have the profound misfortune of living during a time when being a superhero is outlawed. Yet they’re trying to raise their family (who are all superheroes, except for Jack Jack until the end of the movie, spoiler alert!) keeping their super powers under wraps. The big bad guy is a non-superhero who creates machines to become super, and then captures “The Incredibles” family. “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” I feel that way with missionaries! If everyone’s missionaries, then no one will be.

-Some of this, I realize is semantics, but since God revealed Himself through words I think I’m ok to care about them! There are some people who are called to leave their community, family, home and go to a new community, culture, country to preach the gospel until the whole earth is filled by God’s glory! That’s a different burden than we have/experience here! I married into a family of missionaries, they have a different burden than I do! 

-We’ll get to all of these issues in this message (again, I’ll do my best to be brief!) but this is such a massive topic, God literally takes the whole Bible to talk about His mission

READ/PRAY (Matt. 5:13-16)

  1. God’s Mission: The Whole Earth (Gen. 1:28, Gen. 12:1-3, Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Phil. 2:12-18, Matt. 5:13-16)

Psalm 19, Isaiah 6 – purpose of every created thing is to glorify God. How does that happen?

-The idea of peace (shalom) permeates everything. Everything is properly ordered, functioning correctly, everything is worshipping God.

Luke 19:40 “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” THEY ARE! Humans are the only part of creation that willfully choose to disobey. This is why God has invited His people from creation until He returns to join with Him in bringing his glory to the ends of the earth!

Gen. 1:28 “Fill the earth and subdue it” Because humans are created to image God, we’re created to reflect His glory throughout the creation. One of the ways the world is full of His glory is by humans filling and subduing the earth. 

-Had some fun debates at seminary about creation care, because that’s a section of this, but the garden of Eden was meant to continue spreading out until it contained the whole earth: continue cultivating, nurturing, expanding God’s reach throughout the earth.

-Gen. 12:1-3 “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

-Ultimate fulfillment in Abraham’s greatest son, Jesus

-What is the reach of Abraham’s blessing? ALL the families.

-This theme continues through Israel as God’s chosen people, meant to be a light shining into the world, an example. This is why the Chosen Land was smack dab in the middle of the known world. Every other nation sprang up around them, watched them, saw what it meant to obey Yahweh. Their unique way of living served as a visible demonstration that obeying God leads to flourishing, disobeying God leads to death.

-The problem was the eventually, God’s chosen people were the ones who disobeyed, and lead to the diaspora, sent out into the world.

-However, even their disobedience and destruction didn’t thwart God’s plans. I think we have a tendency to view God’s mission as completely dependent on us. God chooses to use us, God commands us to be faithful, but if God’s ultimate mission were dependent on fickle, forgetful us, what kind of a God would he be? 

-A corollary to that is it’s never too late to join in with what God’s doing! Today can be the time where you start working with God instead of against Him!

-This is signified by later on in Gen. 15 when God’s covenant is enacted with Abram (to be a blessing to the world) by taking the penalty for breaking the covenant on Himself, leading to the need to send Jesus to bear that penalty.

-Yet even in the diaspora, God was still using his people to point to Him!

Isaiah 42:6, 49:6

-Even as God’s people are scattered across the globe, sent off into exile, what do they still do? The shine as lights in the darkness, so that God’s salvation will be demonstrated to the end of the earth. 

-This isn’t Plan B, this wasn’t a shift, God doesn’t change, He has no need to change, and nothing catches Him by surprise. God’s mission since Genesis 1 has been: God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.

-This idea that God’s people are a light to the world isn’t only found in the OT

Matt. 5:13-16

-Salt was used primarily for preserving and purifying. Didn’t have refrigerators, so they used salt to slow down the decay of meats. But salt also must remain pure. Unlike our labs that can use salt water, they had to use marshes, so much of their salt was pretty gross! The point is we need to preserve what God’s mission is meant to look like (living out the kingdom ethics Jesus preaches here), and by living a gospel shaped life (pure) we will help preserve the way God wants humans to live.

-Similarly, we are to be examples as light. Think about this, how do we see literally everything. With light! Either sun or artificial light. We, as Christians, are here to shine as light in the world, which means we live different lives than the world lives. We have different priorities, we spend our money differently, we work differently, we love differently. Remember that quote from the second century last week on no one being able to find any reason to hate Christians? We’re not supposed to withdraw and isolate ourselves, we’re supposed to go out into the entire world so people can see!

-But note: what’s the end goal: give glory to your Father. We don’t join in God’s mission to feel good/look good to other people, we do it because we’re to be faithful & obedient to God.

Phil. 2:12-18

-Paul expands on this idea in Philippians. Coming right after the command to have the same mind of Christ, but a couple things to note about how Paul expands the idea.

-“work out your own salvation” 

-Live out, apply your own salvation. You are already saved, Eph. Says you’re right now seated in the heavenlies with Christ, but we don’t see all the implications of that yet. We live in a time between Christ’s 2 comings, so we have been saved from our sins, but we don’t yet see the full completion of that salvation, so Paul is saying you have access to die to your sin, so live like that!

-It is God who works

-All of this obedience isn’t a white knuckle, pull yourself up by your bootstraps sucking it up, it begins and ends with God. Even your desires to be obedient don’t come from yourself, it comes from God in you! But what does that look like?

-I owe Micah thanks for showing me this one. Notice how difficult the burden we have to live is in vs. 14-15.

-End result is 15: so that we may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the world.

-That comes about by: not grumbling or complaining. That’s it! So simple, but have you ever realized how unique this is? Yet how rare is it that this isn’t happening. If you read through the wilderness wanderings before entering the Promised Land, do you know what God’s people were repeatedly accused of? Grumbling and complaining. What tends to happen when people gather together? Grumbling and complaining! “I didn’t like the music today, I didn’t like the preaching today, I didn’t like his clothes, that didn’t speak to me” Yet what are we called to not do? Grumble or complain.

-That is how we shine as lights in the world! Don’t complain about your job, give thanks! Don’t grumble about your house, give thanks! Don’t complain about where you are in your life, give thanks! Don’t grumble about how someone else hurt you, give thanks that God saved you!

-God’s mission is to have a transformed people who live completely different than the world continues to want us to live. This lets us shine as light in the world bringing glory to God.  But we can’t do this alone! So we next need to look at God’s method to bring about this mission

  • God’s Method: The Church (Matt. 16:13-20)

-A very misunderstood passage! One that the RCC has misunderstood profoundly. 

-What does Jesus say the gates of hell will not prevail against? The church. The church is the means by which God’s mission is carried out and demonstrated in the world today. That’s where the church has the ability to denote what takes place in heaven. Do you think the church matters?

-Lots of debate about what constitutes a church! I’ve shared this before, but I remember being told from people in college that their “church” was at Starbucks Sunday morning (but don’t worry, they still skipped that too!)

-I know some people that just say it’s the “called out ones” (literal translation of the NT ekklesia), so it’s people, WE are the church. I had one friend tell me this week who was trying to plant a church, that someone told him his mistake was that he tried having everyone meet together. Everything I read about the church in the NT is meeting together. 

-Even reading through Acts can be tough: is it prescriptive for all eternity, or is it merely descriptive of an event that took place?

-What is the church? Belgic Confession

-Gospel is preached, sacraments are celebrated, practices church discipline 

-“In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head.”

-Now, that doesn’t mean we cease to be the church when we walk out of our gathering, there are 2 aspects to us being the church: gathered and scattered. There’s a tendency for us to swing between 2 extremes, spend a season over emphasizing the church gathered, respond by over emphasizing the church scattered.

-As I was thinking about this idea this week, I started thinking about the way we breathe. Which would you say is more important, inhaling, or exhaling? 

-You don’t live unless you have both! The church doesn’t live unless we have both gathering and scattering. Only gathering is a cult, only scattering is a random smattering of people. 

-The church, gathered and scattered, is God’s chosen means of carrying out his mission to the world, unlike every other group or organization on the planet!

-Who makes up the church? Each one of us.

  • God’s Messenger: ME! (Matt. 20:25-28, 2 Cor. 5, 1 Thess. 1:5-6)

-When I was in high school, we had a substitute named Dr. G who would begin every class having us repeat his mantra: I will behave. If you say it 3 times you start to believe it, so we would repeat his phrases 3x. Didn’t matter how many times you’d had him before, same routine every, single, time. 

-I am God’s chosen messenger to tell the world who He is, to glorify Him

Matt. 20

-Think of the upside down way Jesus commanded us to live. Where does it make sense to willingly become a slave? 

-The way we are God’s messenger is by representing him to everyone. Could also say we need to be like Jesus. Look for ways we can serve those around us, that’s what God has called us to do! Not a doormat, but actively looking for ways to honor others better than ourselves.

2 Cor. 5

-We’ve talked about this passage a lot, for a reason! Because of the gospel shaped community we aspire to be, reconciliation comes between us and God, and then we now have the job of carrying out reconciliation. We’re now ambassadors. That means we represent someone else! We can’t claim to speak on our own behalf, we can’t claim to live on our own behalf, everything we are and do is meant to represent God in the world!

-Look at this phrase: “God making his appeal through us” Today we speak on behalf of God!

-How do we do that? Think back to breathing again! We need to breath in God’s Word (Col. 3:16), then breathe out God’s Word in our interactions with other. We need to let God’s Word, the gospel message, saturate all our conversations. There is no difference in the core message when we’re doing: evangelism, missions, or discipleship. Let God’s Word come out in all your conversations, then trust God with the rest. Like the parable of the sower, we speak the gospel everywhere we go!

-1 Thess. 1

-Lastly, “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you.”

-Our walk needs to match our talk. We can’t merely preach the gospel, we need to LIVE the gospel! That’s how we join in God’s mission to let his glory fill the earth. 

John 20:21 “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.””

EFCA: We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

Gospel Shaped Community – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Working our way through our new mission/vision

-Nothing new, but reminds us the fundamentals of our faith, things that have been true since our founding in 1978.

-If you played sports growing up, you had drills you had to practice. Basketball: dribbling, triple threat stance, defensive stance, shooting form (follow through). I remember going to watch Kevin Garnett growing up, saw his pregame routine, was the exact same thing we did at high school, but unlike us, he didn’t miss! 

-We saw last week the story of the gospel, leading to the need to have gospel centered worship shape everything we do (so we had some people eat Snickers for us, and yes we did have Snickers in our new members class)

-Today we’re going to look at farming. Before my family moved to MN, we lived in ND. Both families were farmers, so when we’d go to family get togethers we’d spend hours driving through the ND farmland (most of the state) Always amazed me, my parents knew exactly what each field contained by a quick glance. My plant identification skills still leave my dad in awe of my ignorance! (when we first moved here my dad asked me what kind of trees we have in our backyard) Whether we realize it or not, all of us are farmers. Our habits, routines, practices are all planting seeds that will someday sprout in our lives and demonstrate what kind of seed has been planted in our lives. 

READ/PRAY (pg. 567)

-Galatians is written to a group of churches who have been inundated with false teachers who wanted to add to the gospel message. If you’ve read through the NT before, you’ve seen the way most of the Epistles are written is half theology, half implementation of the previous theology. Galatians is no exception! Paul expounds the realities of the gospel message

-By adding man-made rules, the false teachers were enslaving a people who had been set free. But this freedom is very different than the way we often view freedom today! Remember, the same guy who wrote this freedom idea in Galatians also wrote Romans! 

Rom. 6

-Everyone is a slave to something: what are you a slave to, sin or righteousness? Both have demands, both have expectations, both have masters that you’re serving, but one leads to life.

-That’s where back in Gal. 5, Paul will talk about freedom with ethical implications to it. When we think of freedom, we have a tendency to think (philosophically) libertarianism. Most often hear that word in connection to politics today, politics is named for the philosophical idea that every person is an autonomous free will agent. That’s not what Paul has in mind when he uses freedom (which we associate with the American way). 

-The Christian’s freedom is the joy to lovingly serve each other, the horizonal dimension to our faith. (cross shaped, quoting Jesus from Matt. 22 greatest commandment)

-The natural state of a human is conflict/war. You see that with kids! It takes time and effort to train them to stop thinking only about themselves, and it’s hard! Adults are similar, we just hide it better.

-Yet becoming a gospel shaped community means we don’t “bit and devour one another.” It means we honor others above ourselves, and it means even our so called “freedom” is meant to be a way to die to ourselves. All that to get to: 

  1. Lives in Step With the Spirit (5:16-26)

-Paul is expounding here what it means to love our neighbor as ourself, and it begins with walking by the Spirit. 

-Notice that the theme of the Spirit permeates this whole section, and there’s some important verbs connected to the Spirit: walk (16), led (18) live (25) keep in step (25) for now just note that, we’ll get to what that means as we walk through.

-Walking refers to your entire orientation, the way you go about your life. 

-Remember, building up to this point Paul had quoted Jesus’ greatest commandment, Jesus was quoting from Deut. 6, which has been memorized, studied, lived out by the Jewish people for 3,000 years. Another way of saying “walk by the Spirit” is remembering God first and foremost. Look at this.

-Statement of who God is, followed by a command for us to follow. God’s commands are to be written on our hearts. We say this last week “let the word of Christ dwell in you.” Meditate, think on these things. But these things aren’t meant to be done in isolation!

-Teach them to your children! When? House, travel outside your house, going to bed, wake up in the morning. If it’s in your heart, that’s what will naturally come out as you’re doing your normal daily things.

-Should become so soaked into who you are that it’s like they’re written on your hand and placed in between your eyes. Should permeate everything you do that your front door is marked by the implications of God’s Word, and your gates will be obedient to God’s commands.

-Everything I’m talking about with our new vision can be found here. Worship in vs. 5, community with children and your house (7, 9), mission in 78, 9 and growth back in 5

-This is what a life walking by the Spirit will look like: it will drive us to worship, community, mission (worship, we witness) and it all centers around the Word of Christ (the gospel!)

-Back to Galatians, living this way means we stop catering to our fleshly impulses. 

-Notice the constant battle going on in our lives: flesh vs. the spirit. When you find yourself giving in to the same old sin it’s your flesh winning the war. When you find yourself becoming more patient in responding to your spouse, it’s the Spirit winning the war. This is the process of sanctification, and all of us are in different places spiritually.

-We will get to the community part in chapter 6, but we need to begin with this, since Paul is talking about the way individuals will act in this new body/community that we’re called to. 

-This leads us to some lists. First, a list of the works of the flesh. 

-Notice the plural behind this workS. Then 15 things that seem to not have a lot in common with each other. Loosely follow: sexual sins, spiritual sins, communal sins, excess, but then we see it’s not exhausting: “things like these.” Almost as if Paul gets too tired of listing them “you know I could go on forever, but we’ll stop there.” I find relief in this list, there’s nothing new! These things still crop up in the church today! How often in the church (sometimes even here) do we see strife, dissensions and divisions? Every church I’ve ever been to has the battle scars to prove that these have come up before. Just so we’re on the same page here, is this evidences of the Spirit, or flesh? When you see these characteristics coming up, RUN AWAY! Instead, what we need to demonstrate and look for is:

-Singular fruit. None is optional. 3 groups of 3. God, others, ourselves.

-If we are in Christ we have the freedom to demonstrate this fruit instead of the works of flesh! We’ve killed that flesh, but the flesh keeps fighting back!

-live by the Spirit (only way TO live) keep in step (who’s setting the pace? Hank Griffith finally keeping up with Donna since she had her gall bladder removed!)

-If we all individually are living out this fruit, it will allow us to have gospel shaped community where we will not be opposed to each other.

  • Bears Each Other Burdens (6:1-5)

-All that previous stuff we saw is the characteristics, traits required of all of us individually to allow us to now live out these truths in this section. It turns us into:

-Brothers – we are now a family

-Listening to a podcast yesterday on the invention of the nuclear family. When the Bible talks about family it’s far bigger than we tend to think today. We’re far too nearsighted when we think about family today.

-Diognetus: 130-200 AD.

-“follow the customs of natives” in but not of the world

-have no home, living for another world

-“do not destroy their offspring” true Christians have been against abortion since the 2nd century. It’s purely a modern idea that “Christians” would support the killing of the unborn. Pray for Roe to be overturned, but that’s the end of the beginning, because it will essentially not change anything.

-“common table, not common bed.” Share meals together, but not sleeping together. What a wild idea!

-“surpass the laws by their lives” often too independent today to do this!

-“unable to assign any reason” brothers and sisters this could hardly even describe those in the church today, much less the way we treat those outside our body. Wouldn’t you love to be a part of a group of people who exemplified this reality? We can! That’s why it’s a part of our vision, this is something we aspire to

-Caught

-traps, snares. World, the flesh, the devil. How often do you find yourself giving into sinful temptations, or living out the fleshly works instead of the fruit

-Who are spiritual, opposed to fleshly

-Those who are living the fruit of the Spirit, should be most of us! 

-I was tempted to preach on 1 Cor. 5 where Paul tells us to judge those inside the church, or follow Jesus’ command in Matt. 18. Church discipline is a beautiful thing, and most of the time we’re not even aware of when it’s taking place since it starts 1 on 1. And the end goal of church disciple, or judging those inside the church is:

-Restore – set a broken bone, fix what was broken. Ultimate goal is restoration or reconciliation. Yet when we do that:

-don’t fall into the same temptation. Be aware of your own personal temptations, and don’t get caught by the same sins.

-And notice how we approach this restoration process: with gentleness. How often do we just condemn, and not use gentleness? Not shying away from the truth, but speaking the truth IN LOVE. Gentleness isn’t weakness, it’s a mark of keeping in step with the Spirit, being led by the Spirit. 

-Bear each other’s burdens

-Did some drywall yesterday, have any idea how tough that is to move by yourself? I heard sounds coming out I didn’t even know I could make! Having a second person makes it infinitely easier. Similarly, we’re not meant to carry our spiritual burdens alone. 

-Song “Christ has no body now but yours” some issues, Jesus still has a body

-What is the law of Christ? John 13 love. The way we demonstrate our love is by not letting our family carry their burdens alone. We just read this description from the second century of the church living this out.

-While we’re commanded to love each other, our brothers and sisters will not bear the penalty for our sins when we stand before God.

-We will be culpable for how we love our church family, we’ll be held responsible for whether or not we carried their burdens, but the reverse is not true. We cannot be like our first father Adam and blame anyone else for our sin.

-The fact that we need others should lead us to gospel rooted humility, there is no such thing as gospel rooted pride! The gospel will rip the roots of pride right out of your life, it will force you to take the attention off yourself the put it on Christ, and then care for others’ interests even higher than your own.

-Listened to a podcast that was titled “Will the real adults please stand up?” Just waiting for someone else to do it. All of us need to say it starts with me. 

-I think of the verse I’ve seen in SO many houses growing up (my mom had it in the bathroom my sister and I shared) Joshua 24:15 “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Do you have that attitude? I don’t care what everyone else does, we’re different. 

  • Does Good (6:6-10)

-Share with the teacher (6)

-People generally take this to refer to paying pastors, and that’s part of it (so thank you for allowing me to spend time studying God’s Word each week! I don’t take that lightly, and consider it a privilege)

-But also, this is where as we’ve gotten to the end of sermon series, I’ve asked to share where you’ve been encouraged, challenged, or learned something new. Not just for me, tell Tami, Micah, Jeramy, Bruce, Sabrina. If something comes up, please share! I’m not always aware of what is effective and what isn’t. Plus, we’re supposed to be encouraging toward each other anyway! 

-Sowing and reaping (7-8)

-If you didn’t know, Spring finally came this week, at least for a couple days! With Spring comes planting time. Cara has high hopes for what plants will eventually be growing in our backyard, and guys I’m trying to pretend to care! But even I know how this works, so if Cara tells me she’s planted some lettuce seeds, what’s (barring famine, neglect, or insect) going to grow? If she tells me she’s planted some cucumber seed, I should be expecting what to grow? Everyone knows how this work, it’s not rocket science!

-Paul takes that idea and asks: spiritually, what kind of fruit are you going to bear? You’ve got 2 places to sow seed: flesh or Spirit.

-Remember the previous section Paul compared works of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit. But one thing about fruit is it’s a byproduct of the work. The plant can’t help it, it’s the natural overflow of what it does. In our lives, the natural byproduct of planting Spirit filled things will be the fruit of the Spirit. When we try to do it in our own comfort or strength we’ll end up doing it in the flesh/works. 

-True individually and corporately. Are the ministries, works, seeds we’re trying to scatter in the Spirit or the flesh? Are you praying regularly for the seed that is sown here, both individually and corporately to be leading to fruit? This means we need to do regular evaluation of what’s bearing fruit, if something we’re spending a lot of time and money on isn’t bearing fruit, we either need to change it or get rid of it! We only have so many resources to give, we need to ensure we’re being faithful to what God has called us to do! Make disciples. 

-If you are ever discouraged by what feels like unfruitful work, go read Gal. 6:9. Sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing that keeps me going!

-Life on this side of heaven is hard! In the most difficult season of ministry I experienced this verse was a lifeline for me because of the last line: “if we do not give up.” In the midst of my struggle there were many days when I woke up and wanted to give up, to go work somewhere else, but this reminded me to continue putting 1 foot in front of the other, keep moving forward. 

-But it also means we need to ask the question: what season are we currently in? Are we in a planting season? Are we in a pruning season? Are we in a fruitful season? One thing remains constant through every season: do good.

-When we’re mocked, do good. When we’re upset, do good. When we’re belittled, do good. When we’re depressed, do good. Come what may, we do good. The reality is, God will bring us opportunities to do good, the question is are you ready for them?

-Notice vs. 10, generally, do good to all, but there is a unique burden to do good to those who are believers, the burden of love! We’re now family, which means we need to treat each other like it, far more than just casual acquaintances.

-Made a joke to Cara yesterday that I was triaging my parenting, one child was being very disobedient so they were getting all my focus. Another one tried to get me to do something else but I couldn’t get away to help the other child. Then we practiced actual triage when someone wiped out on his bike! We have the burden of caring for those in our body who can’t go on by themselves. 

-The gospel calls us into a community, the gospel then embeds itself in our community and transforms us, planting seeds in us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, the question for all of us is: what field are you planting in, the flesh or the Spirit? 

Gospel Centered Worship – Sermon Manuscript

-New mission/vision: making and maturing disciples of Jesus, last week glorifying God, this week gospel centered worship, then gospel shaped community, gospel driven mission, which culminates in gospel rooted growth. The gospel is at the core of everything we do.

-Really briefly, if you haven’t been here for long, the gospel is taken from the Greek word “euongelion” which literally means “good news” The good news is that our sin has been dealt with once and for all by God Himself, who came to earth 2,000 years ago, lived a perfect life and taught how to become a part of this new kingdom that is upside down to the way the world teaches us to operate. Then Jesus validated everything he had taught by rising from the dead. Because the tomb is empty, we need to respond to Jesus call to repent and believe in Him. Then, once you believe in Him your journey is just starting, because you need to daily choose to become more and more like Him obeying him more and more fully. You can summarize everything I just said in 4 words: God, man, Christ, response. And that last word (response) will take eternity to fully grasp! So you may as well get started today! 

-So when I say we need to have gospel centered worship, what am I talking about?

-Volunteers: gospel centered worship through eating a snickers bar.

-First, there is an orientation to our worship. Our whole lives are lived coram deo before the face of God. That’s why we started with glorifying God last week, everything we do and say is meant to glorify Him, point to Him, even image Him.

-Second, there will be a lot of things that compete for our worship, so we need to regularly remind ourselves of and brings ourselves back to the fundamentals: the gospel, so then everything else will fall into proper place. Think of 1 Cor. 15 Paul delivered the gospel, which is of first importance. We need to keep the gospel in the place it deserves: the first place! Only when we have that first can we get to properly ordering other things in our lives.

-Third, we need to think about how we approach the worship of God. I’ve shared before one of the words that drives my nuts that people use connected to worship is “authentic.” What does that even mean?

-Most people use that to talk about only doing what I feel like or want to

-What I prefer to use is from Heb. 12 acceptable. Believe it or not, God cares how we worship Him, and sometimes His people need to repent of worshiping Him unacceptably, which we’ll see in Isaiah

-We’ll be looking at 3 texts today to see what it means to have gospel centered worship, which means we need to do the right things (right action) and it needs to come from the right desire (right motives)

READ/PRAY 

  1. Right Action, Wrong Motive (Isaiah 1) pg. 327

-Last Spring we studied Amos together, fascinating book, and one I mentioned last week from Amos 5 where God tells his people he hates their acts of worship. God says something similar here in Isaiah, and remember this is the first chapter of the book! God comes out swinging! 

-Word of the Lord

-Isn’t made up by the prophet, must pay attention to this!

-There are other places where the Word of the Lord has come, think of the part of the Bible where you quit doing your daily Bible reading every year: Leviticus. God gave explicit commands to his people in how they were to worship Him. Do you remember what they were? Sacrifices, offerings, blood!

-Some scholars argue that these people were quick to jump to excessive offerings given in service of the Lord. You see this in vs. 12-13 trampling done by the running of bringing so many offerings in, and all the people coming, and vain offerings are pointless/useless

-God says all the external obedience in the world is pointless. Look at what He says in 14 that their external piety has become a burden to God. When Jesus comes, He referred to people who act like this as “whitewashed tombs” we may call it “putting lipstick on a pig.” Later on in Isaiah 29, God says “this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” 

-So what is acceptable worship in God’s eyes? All these things they were doing were the right things to do! The things God Himself had commanded! But God won’t look or listen to them.

-Think of the story of Elijah vs the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Do you remember how it went down? Showdown of the gods, they had 450 prophets vs 1 prophet of the one true God, and Elijah spends the day mocking them, saying their god is indisposed, or sleeping, or on a trip, but the one true God will always listen. Unless your worship is unacceptable. 

-Lots of verbs: wash, make, remove, cease, learn, seek, correct, bring justice, plead. Acceptable worship of God will be evident in your response to “the least of these” Another way of thinking about that today would be your life outside of these walls must represent the God we claim to worship on Sunday.

-Then God says, alright let’s talk! 

-A verse many of us know! If they address their unacceptable worship, do all the action points listed above, then this is how God will respond to their sin.

-Notice the two IFs here. The people have a choice! If they obey God they will eat well, if they disobey God, they will be eaten. Those are their options! God says go ahead and choose! He’s put all his cards on the table!

-This also says the primary problem is human stubbornness. We’re unwilling to look at things from someone else’s perspective, even God’s! 

-Where do you see this kind of misplaced/misguided or unacceptable worship today? 

-Politics. How many of the political conversations taking place today are rising to the level of the single most important thing in the world? Where these conversations have devolved is to demonize anyone who disagrees with any finer point of the political agenda. In so doing, you come to the conclusion that the if only everyone would vote or agree with your political agenda, the entire world would be saved. Let me ask: what is the only way to be saved?

-Sunday mornings So often we see socio-economic divides guiding our gatherings, we see racial divides guiding our gatherings, we use secondary theological issues to divide our gatherings. We’ll separate based on musical preferences, clothing styles, kids ministry, youth ministry, all because of something we like or don’t like (preference based instead of dying to self)

-Neighborhoods how many of us are trying to keep up with the Jones’? I was told they don’t know what they’re doing either! 

-Theological conversations – I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but how often are we (similar to politics) dissecting every word and phrase to ensure 100% alignment instead of loving each other unconditionally?

-That’s the first instance where we need to ensure that our whole life is lived in a way that brings honor to God. Up next we’ll see where we need to orient our worship

  • Wrong Action, Right Motive (Colossians 1) pg. 572

-Paul begins this chapter by giving thanks for what God has done in the church at Colossae, then focuses on what Christ accomplished on the cross, and then uses what many people believe is an early church hymn of praise for who Jesus is.

-“He is the image”

-We’ve studied this idea quite a bit together! Where we reflect the image of God poorly, Jesus reflects the image of God perfectly.

-Firstborn

-Jehovah’s Witness use this to say SEE, Jesus was the first created being. Unfortunately for them, it can also mean the pinnacle or highest person. And if you look at vs. 18 it uses the same phrase, but He had raised other people, so within the context it would make more sense that this is the pinnacle, because that also fits the next verse:

-Why would He be created if everything was created BY Him? Doesn’t work!

-Nothing is outside of His creative control: heaven and earth, visible and invisible, people that appear powerful on earth. Everything that exists was created to point to Him. This is another way of saying that our worship must change our orientation to be Christ focused! He must be the focus of our worship!

-The second half of this section focuses on Jesus’ role in the church, of which He is the head.

-He not only imaged God perfectly, He is God perfectly 19

-Then finally, after all these wonderful words about who Jesus is, does the attention finally turn to us. Jesus’ work on the cross brings about reconciliation. Church, at the heart of the gospel is a reconciling God! First he reconciles us to Himself, and then gives us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5)

-But God didn’t save us when we were lovely, Paul goes on to say we were alienated (far away) hostile (fighting against) doing evil deeds (antithetical to God’s very nature). These behaviors are the wrong actions, yet before God saves us we assume, act, and operate as if they’re the right things! We don’t know any better!

-I’ve got young kids, do you know how hard it is to teach someone to share? And the reason they don’t like to share is because their orientation is focused on themselves instead of toward Jesus, who I try to keep reminding them told us to treat others the way we would like to be treated.

-This orientation toward Christ could also be described in vs. 23 the hope of the gospel. We need that regular gospel reminder in our lives! Part of the reason we need that reminder is because we tend to forget, maybe you have a better memory than I do, but I forget what it means to keep Jesus as the focus of my life on a regular basis. This is part of where it’s SO important for us to have these regular patterns of gathering with fellow believers for encouragement, edification, and reminding us what’s really real. To remind us to place our hope in the truth of the gospel. That means what we do on Sunday has a specific purpose.

-One of the things I love learning/studying about is the liturgy of the church. What is the order of our worship services, and why do we do it that way? I was listening to a podcast this past week that talked about the liturgies of God’s people through history. One of my favorite books on this topic is Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to get an understanding of what should be a part of our corporate gathering. 

  • Right Action, Right Motive (Colossians 3) pg. 573

-Summary: our gatherings are meant to reflect the realities of the gospel, both implicitly and explicitly. One author has said when we gather we’re supposed to “Read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances).”

-Paul tells us in this passage how we are supposed to operate now that we’re a part of the body of Christ. 

-Earlier in this section he said we need to put to death or put away the earthly way of living, so stop with the wrong actions we say back in Isaiah. Instead of that, we’re supposed to put on some things: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Do you see any of those things in our current cultural climate? What we’re called to is radically different to the natural way people want to operate. 

-On top of all those things, we’re supposed to bear with each other. Life is way too hard to do it by yourself.

-This means being real, open, and honest with people. Instead of being “MN nice” and not wanting to burden anyone you actually have to put yourself out there! 

-I just need to tell you, if anyone ever wants to talk to me, you’re NOT being a burden, nuisance, or interruption. I don’t remember where I read it, but I remember reading one time that ministry is the interruptions. If I don’t have interruptions then I’m not ministering! I’ve had overseers tell me they felt bad for taking my time! Please don’t ever apologize! We all need each other! But it’s also contingent on the next part of this verse:

-If someone wrongs you (including me!) please don’t assign nefarious intentions. Remember, that’s the way the world teaches us to think: distrust and suspicion. But we cannot operate that way in the church! Look at the bar Paul sets for us: forgiving like who? The Lord! And what did He forgive? Everything, 

-If only he stopped at forgive! He goes on to add love, which he defines in 1 Cor. 13. The nice thing is, the call he’s giving us is merely very hard (just mostly dead). Jesus already did the impossible by creating a way for us to come to Him through His death on the cross! That death leads to peace! Reconciliation leads to peace, true lasting peace. Then as a throwaway comment: be thankful. A mark of a Christian is thankfulness, it will come up again.

-Then we get to the main point: what should we let dwell in us? The word of Christ.

-Remember back in Col. 1 we saw that the fullness of God dwelled bodily in Christ. Now we today have the same command, but we’re to let the word of Christ dwell in us. This is why we spend SO much time in God’s Word together each week. And what do we do with God’s Word?

-Teach and admonish.

-Positive instruction and negative correction. I was texting another pastor friend this week about the need to allow the Word to do the work. By myself I’ve got nothing to give you guys! What I do have is God’s Word which is living and effective, that will never return void, that has everything we need to grow more like Christ. But this isn’t just my job, this is the job of all of us! Keep giving the Word to each other because if we don’t we don’t have anything!

-Notice a way we can teach and admonish: singing. Have you ever viewed singing as a way to teach each other? This is why we’re SO careful about the songs we sing! They’re meant to be used to teach and admonish each other. Which also means you should probably sing, because otherwise you won’t be able to teach those around you. 

-Story of ‘Not for a Moment’ 

-Notice even singing is meant to be connected to thankfulness.

-Then, to wrap up this whole section, Paul throws in not just singing, but anything else you do too! 

-What you say, what actions come out in your life are meant to be done to point to Jesus Christ, in other words they’re meant to be gospel centered. 

-And this gospel saves us, sanctifies us, makes us new creatures, brings us together, allows us to become one body and should create in us a thankful spirit. Each time we leave our corporate gatherings we should be giving thanks to God for the blessing of His people in our lives.

-Let me simplify everything I’ve said: we start with God, God has revealed Himself to us in His Word, His Word tells us the Good News (gospel) about Jesus, and we respond by living a transformed (worshipping) life that reflects the gospel message we believe. 

-I’ve been thinking about this reality for a while now. Why is it that we are so often exactly the same as our neighbors and culture that we live in? This is the 3rd state I’ve served as a pastor in, and there are some unique things in each of those places! Gives you some perspective/understanding, appreciation and frustration of each of them! 1 thing is true: people are sinners! 

-How do we live a life that is gospel centered? It’s doing everything you already do with a new/distinct outlook or motivation to it.  

-Eating a Snickers bar (imagine your favorite meal untainted by our sinful taste buds. These are meant to give us a tiny taste of eternity)

-Mowing my lawn (be patient with my kids!)

-Reading on our front deck (we need more front decks!)

-Helping my neighbor move his new skateboard ramp to his backyard

-Working

-Driving

-Resting or Playing (re-creation) How many struggle taking time off? Productivity has become such an idol for so many of us. 

-All these things must be rooted in the Word “have the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5) we look down to bring our gaze back up in awe of God. Every day is practice for THAT day when we’ll finally be unencumbered by sin, our flesh, and the devil. 

Glorifying God – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Johann Sabastian Bach (1685-1750) German composer 

-2 Chronicles 5:11-14, “At a reverent performance of music, God is always at hand with his gracious presence.” “The final aim and reason of all music is nothing other than (1) the glorification of God and (2) the refreshment of the spirit.” Because of that, much of his music was signed S.D.G. 

-A few years ago we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On Oct. 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 thesis on the door of the Wittenburg chapel, changing the landscape of the entire Western world, and even the way we talk about God’s glory. When Luther was born there were 2 classes – sacred & secular. 

“The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but all works are measured before God by faith alone.”

Allegedly Luther stated, “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” 

-Where I would disagree with that is not that God loves good floors or good craftsmanship, but He loves things done to the best of our ability as an act of worship, glorifying Him.

-The reformers, and we today, believe what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

-Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in 1647: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

-So what do we mean when we talk about the glory of God? 

-Like fitting the ocean into a kiddie pool. God’s glory is inexhaustible. That’s why he’s God and we are not! If I were to preach every Sunday for the rest of my life on the glory of God, we would only just begin to scratch the surface.

-Similar to Luther, John Calvin sought to expound only “what I esteemed to be for the glory of God,” or he lived his life “Soli Deo Gloria,” and in his Institutes, he wrote, “wherever you cast your eyes, there is no spot in the universe wherein you cannot discern at least some sparks of his glory.”

-This is Calvin’s way of saying what David wrote in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare…” what?? The GLORY of God.

-Going back even further – the early church used God’s glory as a mark of orthodoxy creating the Gloria Patri (been reading it with a new devotional recently) – “Glory to the Father, glory be to God the Son, glory be to God the Spirit. As it was in the beginning, now and evermore shall be.”

-Look at 3 passages, with a 4th just mentioned quickly! 

READ/PRAY

  1. Strip Away Idols (Exodus 33) pg. 42

-2 book of the Bible, sin had brought all sorts of problems, God’s chosen people had been enslaved to the Egyptians until God delivered them, saving from all of Pharaoh’s armies, leading them into the desert. God manifests himself in a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night, and the people follow. They finally reached Mt. Sinai, where God meets with Moses to give him the rules for being God’s covenant people, including the 10 commandments. As Moses was meeting with God, the people got bored, and Aaron built them a golden calf. Because God is God, he knows everything and tells Moses what his people are doing. God tells Moses to get out of the way so he can kill the entire nation and start a new nation from Moses’ lineage, and Moses intercedes for the people. That leads us to Exodus 33.

1-6

God begins by commanding his people to leave Mt. Sinai. God had promised to bring them to the Promised Land, but he would not longer be with them, and why would he no longer be with them? So he would not kill them all because of their sin. This is the God we worship, and call glorious – God kills because of sin. 

-But notice that everything He promised would still come to pass. Vs. 2

-How often do you see or hear of people who would be completely content with that arrangement? You get all the “stuff” but you don’t get God. 

-I think at times, our evangelism can even be geared this way, can’t it? Accept Jesus into your heart so you can go to heaven! That’s part of it, but isn’t it more/bigger than that? Almost as if we’ve forgotten about the person who created the heavens and the earth. This temptation is true of every generation, they want the benefits, they don’t want the giver of the benefits. 

-Just funny to note: stiff-necked. Think about what that means. They won’t look beyond themselves and their own ideas. 

-Moses then talks about ornaments. Have you ever noticed this and wondered what it has to do with them being sinners? 

-Egyptian culture, these ornaments, bracelets, amulets served as protection, like a good luck charm (rabbits foot, dream catcher) The Israelites are literally casting off their idols of supernatural protection. 

-You can often tell your idols by that which you most closely try to protect, and we may not realize it’s an idol until it gets pushed. Another way of saying that is: what angers you? I had a moment at a previous church where I finally got a week off, which meant I was in the booth running slides! We had a pre-recorded sermon, so I started it and ran out to visit the loo. On my way out I was accosted by someone who demanded to know why I wasn’t preaching. I was the music guy, not the preacher. After I explained why, I was told, and while I have you, no one likes your music! 

-Music in the church has a tendency to become an idol, which is so ironic to me! Anyone remember surviving the bloody battles of the “worship wars”? Don’t worry, they still crop up from time to time! 

-The reality is we are all glory-thieves. Our first parents wanted to “be like God.” Have a piece of his glory, but sin turned that wiring for giving glory to God inward.

-Think of some of the ways the Bible talks about where we should give glory:

-Psalm 115:1 – “not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.”

-Isaiah 42:8 – “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

-The best picture of idolatry in all the Bible:

-Isaiah 44:9-20 – carpenter chops down a tree, half is used for fire, half as a god.

-We don’t see people bowing down to a block of wood today, but what are some idols you see being worshipping today?

-Technology addiction – Time magazine, teenagers are becoming addicted to their cell phones, leading to depression.

-Social networking – FOMO, fear of missing out.

-Money? 401K your god? Maybe the security of being financial stable? 

Money isn’t evil James 4:10 “the love of money is A root of all kinds of evil.”

In fact, none of these things are completely bad! A smart phone allows my parents to see their first grandkid on a regular basis. Social networking lets me keep up with friends across the globe. The problem is when they become gods.

-What about family? Families are a gift from the Lord, but elevating them to the place of God is wrong. I think this is one that is acutely true of the church.

-Maybe image is your God? Proverbs reminds us that beauty is fleeting

Health1 Tim. 4:8 “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Job? What if you’re fired? Or have everything move to work from home and no one can see your accomplishments?

-What about our acts of worshipAmos 5:21-24 “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

-Old vs. New. High church vs. low church. Singing vs. not singing. The problem is looking to my own interests instead of others. Philippians 2

-The most difficult god for us to put to death is ourselves. We want the glory, we are all glory thieves. 

-We so often look to things outside of us as idols, but what about the idol of yourself? We see this when we drive, everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, everyone that drives faster than you is a maniac. Each one of us is born into sin “by nature and by choice.” Josh Duggar. Trevin Wax: “sin is not primarily something we need to be sheltered from, but delivered from.”

-The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, “the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”

-The biggest problem since sin entered the world is us. 

All these things are gifts from God! The fact that you’re alive is a gift from God! But what things do you need to cast aside in order to better give God glory? 

7-11

-This section serves as background to the current situation. Think of it like a flashback in a movie. Moses would speak to the Lord regularly. 

Exodus 16:10, “the glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud.” 

Moses and God’s unique relationship – only person called a friend of God 

“The Lord would speak with Moses”  (9)

-The glory of the Lord came down. Did you know that you can have the same privilege as Moses? Meeting with God.

12-23

-Cut back to Moses’ conversation with the Lord. 

-With Moses’ relationship with God in the background, we see why Moses is able to ask the Lord these specific questions 

-Moses tells the Lord that his presence is the only thing that makes them unique among all the people’s of the earth. Notice also how Moses is reminding God that they are HIS people, God’s, not Moses’. (vs. 13 contrast vs. 1)

-(18) Moses then asks God a huge request, he figures he’s 2 for 2, might as well go for broke – to see God’s glory. The perfect presence of God – related to his holiness. 

-Hadn’t he seen God’s glory in the cloud and the fire? Moses had seen manifestations of God’s glory, but not the whole thing. 

-People could tell when Moses was with the Lord, Ex. 34:29-35. His face was so bright he had to put a veil over his face! 

-We no longer need to look to other mediators, in order to see all of God’s glory, we need to look to Christ. 

Messianic prophecy – God’s glory would come down in Jesus Christ. 

John 1:14 – “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 17 (527)

What did Jesus do while he was on earth? He gave glory to the Father.

Jesus shared God’s glory “before the world existed.” We saw this in Genesis 1. 

What is that glory? Eternal life. To see God’s glory is to be given eternal life. 

God’s ultimate plan for his glory is our salvation.

-But salvation, as I mentioned earlier, doesn’t necessarily demand earthly benefits.

  • Suffering Leads to Glory (Romans 8) pg. 550

-Paul has been addressing the law and sin, and reminds us in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The same God that was ready to kill his people with Moses has born the penalty for our sins on his own Son.

-But our way to glory may not take the route we most often see. 16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Our path to glorification may be/WILL be through suffering in this life. 

18

You know how people always say, “it’ll be worth it in the end.” I’ve seen my beautiful bride Cara give birth 3 times. Each time it is an amazing process, and I’m both glad and relieved that I will never have to go through what she did! But the end result was worth it!

-Church, we will face suffering of some sort, be it cancer, wayward children, financial difficulty, SOMETHING will happen to you. But no matter what happens, the other side of that is glory. And the glory on the other side makes everything else pale in comparison.

-We’re working on delayed gratification with our kids. Maybe you’ve heard of the experiment of the kids who were placed in front of a marshmallow, and told if they waited they’d get 2 marshmallows. It’s a marshmallow, not that tempting anyway. But God promises life WITH HIM, far eclipses any of the difficulties we’ll experience here. 

-And it’s not just us! All creation is waiting for this glory to be seen. Right now it’s like we’re looking through the veil that Moses wore, but someday everything will see God as He really is! And we’ll see each other as God originally created us to be.

-I read recently someone was asked if they’d know each other in heaven, and the reply was that will be the first time we’ll actually know each other! Without veil

-It’s with all this background and understanding (that glory comes through suffering) that this chapter includes one of the most misunderstood and misapplied verses in all the Bible:

28 “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” 

-Not for our glory or our aim, but to give glory to God.

-What about now? We’ve seen what it looks like in the OT, how it looks in Christ, and in moments of suffering, but what about daily life?

  • Let Your Glory Shine (2 Corinthians 3) pg. 562

-Paul has been saying that in this new covenant we can have hope. 

-This hope leads us to boldness. Not presumptive, trusting.

-He has the audacity to say what we have today is better than Moses! That is quite the claim! 

-The veil served 2 purposes: prevent fear for the Israelites, but also prevented them from being made more glorious (glow in the dark toys). Needed to be hid from the glory to not be consumed. 

-The veil remains unlifted for anyone who does not believe in God, and the message of His one and only Son Jesus Christ. When God’s Word is read, how do you respond? Because if you respond in faith, there’s no longer any separation. God’s glory doesn’t need to be hidden at all, we all are now called God’s friends, we all are now able to talk to God face to face.

-One note on freedom: the freedom we have in Christ now isn’t ability to live however we want. Where once we were only able to live in sin, now with Christ in us we can finally have the freedom to say no to sin. (Heb. 11:16)

-Finally, the main point (18

-For those in Christ, unveiled has 2 implications. We don’t need a veil (we can approach God without a barrier) and our faces should be shining! (can others tell you’re a Christian?) Family from the walk with Cara in Frederick.

-We are being transformed, slowly becoming more and more like God, this is where the image of God is so important!

-And remember, this isn’t grimace and do it in our own strength, all from the Lord.

-The Westminster Shorter Catechism said the chief end of every human is glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Since the church is comprised of people, that must be our chief end as well! Just as it has been historically, so it will be in the future: we must seek to glorify God in everything we do and say.