Psalm 5 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 channel.

Listen To My Prayer

Psalm 5 (pg. 255)

-Chronicles of Narnia: “Is he safe? Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

-Some people who use Exclusive Psalmnody argue for accapela only singing in church, what do you do with this prescript? Or last week “with stringed instruments”

  1. Plea to God (1-6)

-Sounds very similar to the beginning of Psalm 4

-For some reason, we have these repeated examples of the need to remind God to listen to us, to pay attention to us, to answer us when we come before Him

-We know that God already knows all these things, but we can still plead with Him 

-Remember from last week, we need to approach God honestly in our prayers. Since God already knows everything about us, we can’t keep things hidden from Him.

Preach the Word “People who don’t know God well think they have to pray with special words. Their prayers sound like a formula with set words and phrases.”

-Think of how other religions form their prayers. You’re trained in what you say, how you say it, sometimes you have to face a VERY specific direction and if you miss by a degree it’s heresy. God invites us to come with all that we are, with all that we’ve got, and to be bold in our approach to Him.

-These first verses could be considered the prelude to prayer

  1. Preparation to Pray (1-3)

-I onetime read that someone said “The most difficult thing in the world to do is to pray. The second most difficult thing in the world to do is to stop praying.”

George Muller “after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.” He kept a prayer journal, contained 50,000 answered prayers, 30,000 were answered within the first day, some within an hour. Ran an orphanage where he cared for more than 10,000 children during his life

-If someone like Muller, who had a prayer book of 50K answered prayers can struggle to actually pray, so can David, and so can you

-St Anthony of Egypt “If you know that you’re praying, you’re really not.”

-Look at how David begins: give ear, consider, give attention.

-Again, remember that God already sees, knows, is aware of everything that is going on. God doesn’t need the reminder because God doesn’t change. He can only be true to Himself. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here! We’ll pick up that idea in vs. 4

-Asks God to listen to his words, his groanings, and his cries

-Once again, it sounds like David’s in a rough spot! 

-Ever have one of those nerve tests on your knee? Part of what we’re seeing here is: what is your knee-jerk reaction when situations arise in your life? When you’re struggling, what do you do? When you’re thrilled over some exciting news, what do you do? When you’ve had a totally normal/average day, what do you do? I’ve got a proposal: you pray! THAT is how you “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:16)

-Because this is in the midst of struggling, what does it look like when you don’t even have any words to say? Have you ever found yourself in a moment like that? It’s guaranteed that at SOME point in your life, you will suffer. It may be vicariously through someone else’s struggle, it may affect you, but you will suffer. Where do you/have you turned in those times of your life?

-I think of some of my friends who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death – one friend whose first wife faced cancer head on within a year of getting married and lost. Do you think that’s what they were planning on when they celebrated their marriage? Or another friend whose wife carried their first daughter to full term, only to have her die in the womb at 9 months and one day. How did they process delivering a baby whose cry they would never hear? 

-It’s one thing to deal with the philosophical “problem of evil” in the theoretical, it’s an entirely different game when the problem of evil decides to plant its’ roots within your life. What do you do when your prayers are nothing more than groans? Do you know that’s enough for God?

-Charles Spurgeon – battled crippling depression much of his life “Words are not the essence but the garments of prayer.”

-This theme is picked up again in Rom. 8 where we finally see any answer to the “problem of evil.” 

-Vs. 18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

-Vs. 22 “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

-Vs. 23 “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

-Vs. 26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

-God Himself, through the indwelling Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. When you don’t have the words, when your world is falling apart, when you don’t know which end is up, you’re not alone.

-There’s a second piece to this from this first section: in the morning I watch

-Some have argued (even Spurgeon) that an hour in prayer in the morning is better than 2 hours in prayer at night. Really??? 

-Better way to think about this is calling out to God first thing when you wake up! That’s a wonderful habit to have and get into. It reminds us of our complete dependence on Him, our need for Him to lead us and guide us, and (as Jesus commanded us) the reminder to daily take up our cross and follow Him.

Watch: do you expect an answer to your prayers? Or do you act as if they hit the ceiling? The word “watch” has a connotation of eagerly anticipating. I had a couple people tell me last week the quote “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening” really impacted them last week, and this is a similar idea. When you finish your prayer, do you start watching, or do just go back to how you were before, and act as if nothing has changed? 

-One author “If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God will answer your prayer because he cannot deny himself.”

-This is where we can then get into the prayer itself. Because the answering is dependent on the character of God, it leads David to pray:

  • The Prayer (4-6)

-This feels like a weird place to go when you’re crying out or groaning to God. After you’ve just asked God to listen to what you have to say, shouldn’t you get to what you want to say instead of reminding Him what He likes? 

-Last week I used an analogy of a coach bringing a team together and saying “listen up!” To expand that this week, imagine the next thing he says is: “You guys really like in-n-out, and you hate Whataburger because it tastes like more expensive McDonalds” 

-The reason God answers prayer is because of who He is, and specifically, the needs David has in front of him run contrary to God’s very nature of being holy.

-How do we read something like “you hate all evildoers.” How does that square with John 3:16?

-This is where theology matters greatly. “God hates sin but loves the sinner,” that’s not what this says here! 

-We have a skewed version of love today. Driving around you’ll see bumper stickers or yard signs “Love is love.” That makes absolutely no sense! What I was ALWAYS told was you can’t use the word in the definition. So how do we square the fact that God is love with the fact that God hates all evildoers? A few thoughts for us:

-First, we cannot divide God into his various attributes/characteristics. His attributes literally describe who He is. God is love, God is holy, God is wrathful toward evil. So we look at a situation and say God was acting in wrath there. God is always acting with all his attributes at the same time, not picking and choosing based on the situation.

-Second, we know that God does not want anyone to perish, but earnestly desires that everyone repent and turn to Him. (2 Peter 3:9) what’s crazy about that is God has chosen us as his emissaries to call people to turn to Him in repentance. That’s where I said last week YOU are the outreach strategy of this church.

-Third, no one wants a God who only fits within our current culture’s definition of love (being complete acceptance). What do you do with someone like Hitler? How do you handle the “cancel culture”? Every culture, country, person has an idea of who the “evildoers” are (article on adultery vs. tattoos)

-Fourth, God ultimately dealt with sin, death, and evildoers when He sent His one and only son to the cross. The cross is where the penalty for evildoers is paid in full, which leads to:
-Fifth, and finally, the reality of what the Bible says is the evildoer is me.

  • Plea for Myself (7-12)

-Because you and me, every single person who has ever lived is a sinner by nature and by choice (with the exception of 1 perfect person) we are all dependent on God’s mercy and grace. So notice how David talks about himself:

  1. I Will Worship (7-8)

-David excludes himself from the company of evildoers, BUT it’s only because God is abundant in “steadfast love.”

-This idea of “steadfast love” first appears in Ex. 34 when Moses asks God to reveal Himself, and listen to how God describes himself in vs. 6-7

-Notice the inequality between God’s steadfast love, and the iniquity. Spurgeon “God’s judgments are all numbered, but his mercies are innumerable.” Inherent to God’s very being is this abounding in steadfast love.

-Because that is who God is, we can then come before him, we can enter his house, we can worship Him, it is through obedience to Him that we can remain faithful, even as we are tempted, tried, and discouraged by enemies on every side

-David asks God to lead him in righteousness, because his enemies will not, he needs God to lead him and make the right path to take straight. 

-David’s enemies are those who refuse to worship God

  • My Enemies Will Not (9-10)

-The enemies will do everything they can to lead others away from God. Notice all the ways they work:

-Their mouth reveals that their inmost self is destruction

-They use their mouth, throat, leading to their innermost self of destruction

-A good way to think about this is like a black hole, consuming everything around it. Nothing and no one is safe from their grasp! This is why David is pleading with God to lead him on straight paths, he doesn’t want to get sucked into the ways of the evildoers.

-Paul picks up this idea and quotes this Psalm in Rom. 3 to make that point that no one is righteous. 

-That’s the natural way of all of us! We need to be born a second time to become truly righteous.

-Vs. 10 is a little difficult for us to swallow. Can we call down curses on our enemies? How do we reconcile a verse like this with Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”?

-We’re going to come across what are known as “imprecatory Psalms” which is calling down curses/condemnation on your enemies. This isn’t even as graphic as some of the Psalms in the future!

-In this in between time of Christ’s first and second comings, we don’t live in a theocracy. Things would be FAR better if we all lived under Christ’s perfect rule, but we don’t. We’re not trying to take over lands by force, or threaten to kill people who don’t convert. These Psalms need to be read in light of the era of human history we find ourselves in.

-Now, we realize that God will bring about His perfect judgment at some point in the future. That’s part of what we’re asking when we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

-So we can read these realizing that it’s a just punishment for any/everyone who has sinned against the holy, righteous and perfect creator God, which is all of us. That makes it all the more important for us to tell any/everyone about who Jesus is. The one who came to take the penalty/judgment in our place.

-NIVAC: “the psalmist’s words call us to remember that Jesus was never afraid to call evil what it was or to take a firm stance of condemnation against all its forms. We too must take evil seriously, aligning ourselves with God’s essential character of holiness.”

-That’s where the word “rebelled” is so potent! Any sinful act is an act of rebellion against God. These people are merely following their own advice, which leads them to death. They will follow their own throats to their open grave.

-But not those who realize/acknowledge their need of a Savior!

  • The Righteous Ones (11-12)

-“But” is one of the most significant words in the English language. David used in back in vs. 7. I got in a car accident, but I’m completely fine. The doctor found cancer, but it’s easily removeable. 

-Paul writes about this in Eph. 2. We were once dead, BUT GOD. Comparing is a beautiful thing when one way leads to death and the other to life.

-Our refuge is found only in Jesus. Last week He was described as a shield, this week He is a refuge.

-Scene in the Hobbit when the company is traveling the mountains, middle of a huge rainstorm, mountain giants start fighting, they find refuge.

-If/when you’re struggling, remember that God is your refuge. This is what allows David to rejoice even when your discouraged or persecuted. This is where Paul can remind us in 1 Thess. 5 not just pray without ceasing, but also to rejoice always. BECAUSE

-God blesses the righteous, because of his steadfast love. This gives us the hope we need.

-NIVAC: “Perhaps the most important lesson contemporary humans can take from this psalm is that human hope is grounded in the essential character of God—a character that is constant and does not change regardless of the ebb and flow of human circumstances. The righteous—those who take refuge in God—find hope in God’s holiness both because he is incompatible with evil and because he is relentlessly good”

-He’s not safe, but he’s good!

Psalm 4 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 channel.

Trust in God

Psalm 4

-Book of Psalms cover the gamut of human experiences/emotions 

-Has a prescript, just like the previous one, but doesn’t list a specific time

-Some believe Psalm 3 & 4 are connected to the same experience (with Absalom)

-David says distress, mocked, time of wanting

-Nothing in the text specifically ties it to that

-Others have called Psalm 3 the morning Psalm (vs. 5 “I woke again) then Psalm 4 becomes the evening Psalm (vs. 8 “I will lie down and sleep). Even became an evening prayer in the synagogue.

-Others have tried connecting it to a different time in Israel’s history, a time of famine like 2 Sam 21 “Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord.”

-Somewhat getting into the weeds, but based off some of the word choices in vs. 2 that lead scholars to believe the Israelites were pursuing Baal and other fertile/agrarian gods as their support instead of trusting in Yahweh.

-Where last week’s theme was physical persecution, the emphasis/focus this week is on verbal/emotional persecution.

-Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

READ
PRAY

-3 primary groups/people addressed in this Psalm: God, enemies, myself.

-The need to preach to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves

-This will then lead us to more boldly and freely preach to others

  1. To God (1)

-David comes out swinging! “Answer me” 

-How many of you are that bold in your prayers?

-The reality is God already knows what’s in our hearts, he knows our thoughts before they enter our minds, before we speak he knows what we’re going to say, we can’t run away from him, we can’t hide from him, there’s nowhere we can go where he isn’t already there (yes, double negative, learned in music theory, you learn all the rules so you can break them)

-This reality is (to me) one of the craziest things about praying – God already knows it, so why do we try to hide when we talk with him?

-Spurgeon: “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.’”

-We can always expect an answer from God, here’s the crazy thing: God doesn’t ever get tired of answering our prayers. Article this week: “I may get tired of being needy, but God doesn’t get tired of providing for his children.

I may get tired of always asking, but God doesn’t get tired of answering his children.

Just like he loves making another few trillion daffodils every spring, and providing food for billions of birds every winter, he continues to love answering the prayers of all his needy children, over and over and over again. My need for him never ends—and he’s okay with that. In fact, he tells me to come, every day, for my daily needs like my daily bread and his forgiveness and strength to forgive others and to see his kingdom established in the world in righteousness and peace and justice—and every burden of every kind, big or small; as Peter says, “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.””

-Do you ever feel like God gets tired of hearing from you? Think of the examples Jesus gives of prayer: persistent widow, persistent friend after the Lord’s prayer

-God invites us, encourages us, and models for us remaining persistent in prayer 

Podcast today: “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening.”

-How does David refer to God in this situation?

-When things aren’t going well, when people are opposed to him, he reminds himself where his help, support and strength come from: “O God of my righteousness.” CSB “O God who vindicates me.”

-Think of Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

-Righteousness a big theme in Romans, righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:22) that is, the only way we can call God the God of my righteousness if by putting your faith in Jesus Christ and believing in Him. It is this belief that leads to a reminder:

-Because David has put his hope, trust, confidence in God, he can then look back on previous problems without worry. 

-Notice the tense: You HAVE given

-Anytime David starts to worry about what God’s doing he reminds himself how God has worked in the past

-ESV SB “Past experience emboldens the faithful to confident prayer.”

-It’s almost as if David can’t get too far complaining before he realizes what he’s doing and pulls himself back.

-So because of the previous ways God has worked in his life, it emboldens David to ask:

-Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

-The word “hear” is used as a way to emphasize, draw attention to. Someone telling you “listen up!” 

– William Carey: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”

-Do you boldly come before God, asking him to listen up and answer you? Because we can! We’re invited, encouraged, exhorted to!

-After first bringing his plea to God, David then turns to his enemies:

  • To My Enemies (2-5)

-Spurgeon: “Observe, that David speaks first to God and then to men. Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.”

-Word translated “O men” isn’t the normal phrase, refers to men of renown/good standing in the community

-Isn’t some random dude complaining, this is like someone from Congress or the Senate bad mouthing you. How would you respond? David responds by asking some questions:

-How long will my honor be turned to shame?

-This refers to the way these men are speaking ill of David

-How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?

-David calls out their own sins, instead of slandering David they’re revealing what’s in their hearts.

-Where I think many of us would be prone to give in, worry, complain, stress, David begins with God, then goes directly to his accusers

-Some translators translate the lies to “false gods” which is another way of saying lies! Satan is referred to as the father of lies, and when people put other things in God’s place they are lying. This is why I’m so passionate about rightly ordered and directed worship. If we worship anything other than God we are making committing idolatry, which is lying against God. 

-How often is that the temptation for all of us when things aren’t going the way we want them/expect them to? Instead of coming to God when people are complaining about us we run away from God, blame Him, look to other comforts

-Then it’s as if David realizes what he’s saying and who he’s talking to, but before we get to that, one word: selah

-Vs. 3

-After reminding them that they’re a bunch of dirty scoundrels, David compares himself to them and is reminded he’s not them! He doesn’t need to stoop to their level, play their game, or give into the same things they’re pursuing

-God has set apart, another way of thinking of this is sanctified/made holy. God has always had a group that is “set apart” from the rest of the world, first referred to the way Israel is “set apart” from Egypt. Today those who are “set apart” is called “the church, Christ’s body, Christ’s bride” that’s us – the people David is talking to would know about the history of Israel being “set apart” from Egypt

-One translator translates godly here as committed, another translates it as “faithful.” Those who are “set apart” are whomever is being faithful to obey God.

-Because David is one of those who is “set apart” God hears when he calls – implied is that God doesn’t hear when the other guys call out to him. Also points to the reality to the access those “set apart” ones have before God – kid walking up to me at Calvin’s swim lesson, not my kid, wet knee, unhappy me!

-Vs. 4 is difficult to translate well, partly because of the way Eph. 4:26 picks up this verse. 

-Hebrew -> LXX -> Latin -> English

Eph. 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

-Better translation of the Hebrew is “tremble” which better fits the context (Greek went with “be angry”) David had just called out his enemies for idolatry, this would then pick up that theme, need to tremble before God. How many times do people reverse these ideas: sin, and do not tremble

-David is giving us a 4-fold response when we’re being ridiculed. First, tremble. That is, ensure your worship is right. Getting to Heb. 12:28 approach God with reverence and awe, acceptable worship.

-Second is a good life rule: do not sin. Instead of lashing out at other people who may hurt you with words, or using it as an opportunity to complain to God, don’t give in, don’t sin. Instead:

-Third, ponder in your own hearts. Take time to assess where you’re at, how you have been wrong, how someone else can be used to sanctify/refine you, use your pillow as your sounding board/counselor

-Fourth: be silent. Stop talking! People fear silence today. Selah.

-4 things isn’t enough to do, David adds 2 more in vs. 5

-Instead of seeking after lies/false gods, they are to “offer right sacrifices.” Similar to trembling above, begin by getting worship right. One can guess that after the exhortation of vs. 4 the hearers were like the people who heard the 12 apostles in Jerusalem at the day of Pentecost: “What must I do to be saved?” 

-Most of the time we get into difficult situations we are prone to turn our gaze off God and onto something else. When you’re discouraged, what do you turn to? Favorite food, TV show, working out, working. What we need to do is turn to God, worship Him first, come before Him first, and then we can respond rightly to whichever situations we’re in, which is what David says next:

-When we focus on God, it reminds us that we can put our trust in Him! Pointing back to vs. 1, when has God failed you in the past? That gives us confidence for the future! 

-Think of what Jesus said about worry. Which of you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?

-David then changes the focus one more time in this Psalm – first to God, then his enemies, lastly to himself.

  • To Myself (6-8)

-This theme of “many” we saw last week. Comparing himself to those around him

-They want prosperity (remember that, theme in vs. too)

-Isn’t that human nature? Always wanting more. Dream of achieving something, then the goal moves. That’s basically our celebrity culture! Never satisfied.

-Then we demand God bend to our wills/whims and ask him to look upon our sinful request with blessing

-This “light of your face upon us” is picking up the idea of the Aaronic blessing in Num. 6:24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance [face] upon you and give you peace.” These “many” people are twisting and distorting God’s Words against Him! (just as the tempter did the Jesus in the wilderness)

-But David remembers, and reminds himself the truth of Psalm 84:10 “a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” A second with God is better than living in incredible wealth and prosperity. 

-David is comparing those who demand God give material blessing to the reality that all those blessings are just meant to point us to the reality that this world is not our home. But how fickle are humans, how easily contented to sit in the mediocrity of the world when God is offering us himself.

-God’s gift of himself leads to more joy/happiness/contentedness than when “grain and wine abound.” But aren’t grain and wine abounding how our world views success? We, as Christians, aren’t supposed to be content with just the grain and the wine, in fact the grain and wine are supposed to point us forward to a time when true, lasting prosperity will last forever. So as Christians, we’re to use/steward these good gifts of God

-This is one of the primary ways we differ from the world: we need to view the good gifts of God as good gifts, not worshipping them, not idolizing them, not pursuing them for themselves, but realizing they’re gifts from a good God who loves us and allows us to do everything to his glory

-Someone recently asked me what the outreach strategy is for the church: you. Jesus started with 12 people that he poured himself into, loved, served.

-What’s extraordinary about the gospel is it uses our ordinary lives as a testimony and witness of God’s unbelievable grace

-When we are faithfully following God (whether or not the grain or wine abound) God will use us, that will allow us to have peace – both vertically and horizontally

JI Packer: “Congregations in every age must see themselves as learning communities in which gospel truth has to be taught, defended, and vindicated against corruptions of it and alternatives to it. Being alert to all aspects of the difference between true and false teaching, and of behavior that expresses the truth as distinct from obscuring it, is vital to the church’s health.”

-Sundays are to remind us who/whose we are, to be equipped to go into the rest of our lives remembering that we live for God alone – compared to this Psalm: we gather weekly to be reminded that God answers us, then we can boldly proclaim the Word to the watching world. We are the a worshipping church both when we gather and scatter.

-Even when David is mocked and people speak poorly against him, David can still lie down and sleep, because God has made him to dwell in safety.

-That’s the case with all of us! We can lie down and sleep contentedly because we’re never safer than when we’re walking with God. This will allow us to have peace even when sticks and stones are thrown at us, and words do hurt us. Instead of saying ‘Yeah, right.” We can trust ourselves to the perfect judge who has faithfully walked with us every step of the way.

Psalm 3 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 channel.

The King

Psalm 3

-Picking up in a series Pastor Bruce started the beginning of June

-The Psalms have served an interesting purpose in the life of the church, but how do we/should we use them today?

-gamut of human emotions (emotions aren’t bad, being ruled by emotions is)

-model of prayers/request to God

-songs (with musical accompaniment notes) (leading to some people holding to “exclusive Psalmnody”) Psalm literally means “accompanying song/melody”

-compiled together with a purpose (5 books)

-3 things to be looking for as we dig into these for a number of weeks together:

-Any editorial notes we should be aware of (Psalm 3:0)

-How these situations can and do apply to us today, but before we jump to that we need to do the historical work of understanding how it applied to the nation of Israel at this time. (1st rule of biblical interpretation: text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean back then. We can apply it differently, or see it more fully fleshed out, but ALWAYS begin with the author’s and hearer’s original intent) 

-Psalm vs PsalmS 

READ
PRAY

-Book 1 of the Psalms begins with a prelude (1-2)

-The king is a BIG deal in Israel, as the king goes, so goes the nation

-Quick overview of the first 2 Psalms, as I realize we studied those over a month ago!

-Most scholars think Psalm 1 & 2 were initially combined into 1 Psalm, lots of similar themes and ideas in both of these Psalms:

-Blessing vs wickedness. How are we blessed? By obeying God’s law.

Deut. 17:18 ““And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,”

Psalm 1 walks, stands, sits. 

Psalm 2 is what it looks like for when people pursue wickedness. 

-“Against the Lord” can’t stand against the Lord 

-“Anointed” need to read the Psalms through the lens of Christ

-Nothing can stand against/thwart God’s plans

-vs. 9 points back to 1:6

-David serves as one of the primary examples of the king all other kings should aspire to be, a model that is eventually fulfilled in Jesus

-First 2 Psalms communicate the point that we need to be obedient to God’s law, the rest of the Psalms communicate what that looks like in the midst of a wide assortment of life experiences 

-First Psalm with a pre-verse, subscript, title with historical context. Vs. 0

“A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” 

-These are a part of the text (may be scribal comments later on, may be original, since we don’t have the first copy we can’t be 100% sure where they originated, but we can trust them to help us understand/communicate something from God)

-Because these are a part of the text, it helps us to look back at the story being mentioned to have a more complete history of what led to the events of these Psalms being written.

-Absalom’s rebellion is found in 2 Sam 15-17

-If you’ve never read the story of David, it’s a fascinating look at the life of someone who is “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Sam 13:14

-David is Israel’s second king (most people know the story of his upbringing being the giant slayer)

-What’s crazy, is despite being an example, leading to the time period in which Israel will always look back on fondly, he wasn’t someone we would hold up as an example of holiness:

-multiple wives, census, stole Uriah’s wife, can infer from stories like what happened with Absalom that he wasn’t a great dad

-Absalom’s story is full of intrigue/espionage/betrayal. I keep waiting for someone like Zak Snyder to read the story of David and turn it into a big budget film

-Starts back when Absalom’s sister is taken advantage of by another one of their brothers, harbors a grudge and 2 years later kills the brother, flees to another country for safety, eventually David pardons him and allows him back into Jerusalem, Absalom starts to point out his father David’s deficiencies and builds up a following 15:6 “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Followers continue increasing to the point where he’s a threat to David’s rule. David flees Jerusalem, is mocked along the way by one of Saul’s descendants “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” After fleeing, losing Jerusalem to Absalom, David fortifies his troops and fights against Absalom, Absalom’s luscious locks trap him in a tree and he is killed by one of David’s warriors, thus ends the rein of Absalom. 

-Imagine the betrayal David is feeling as he flees from one of his sons. The nation that he loved and led had turned against him. His army was divided, his city was on the verge of destruction, and he takes time to pen these words.

  1. The Foes (1-2)

-If you’re anything like me, negative comments or experiences tend to weigh more heavily on my mind than positive

A study found a 5:1 ratio

-How do you process negative comments aimed your way? 

-In this case, David still had a large group of people following him, on his side, according to 2 Sam 18:7, the battle is so large 20K men die. So David clearly still has a following! Yet what is David fixated on? “how MANY are my foes” “Many are rising” “Many are saying” How many is it?

-IDK about you, but as I said, negative comments weigh me down. I talk fast, when I first started preaching I talked faster! I’d seriously have 10 people tell me what they appreciated about my preaching, then have 1 negative comment about it being too fast, and I would beat myself up about it for the next week. Maybe you have had similar things happen to you! Presentation at work going well, 6 people tell you it was great, 1 person complains. Project you worked forever on, 3 people tell you it was great 1 complains. Cook a meal, 2 of your 3 kids complain.

-Elijah had a similar complaint in 1 Kings 19. Right after the confrontation on Mt Carmel, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” God “I have 7,000 others”

-Despite David being surrounded by supporters, he is fixated on the few who are opposed to him. 

-I don’t think many people here have been betrayed by a child (maybe you have!), but I think part of living in a fallen world means we all at some point will experience betrayal. Could be from a child, like David here, could be a spouse, a coworker, a sibling, even a parent, but you will experience some kind of rift in some relationship at some point.

-How often do we then run to God and blame him for not automatically fixing the problem? How often do we think God is the problem, instead of looking to Him as the solution? 

-There’s a level of honesty and transparency that is helpful in these verses, demonstrates how we should come before God, but there’s also the need to preach to yourself, which David does in the next section.

“But 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

-But before we get there: selah. Babylon Bee: “Ancient Documents Confirm ‘Selah’ Best Translated ‘Extended Guitar Solo’

-Most scholars believe it was some sort of musical note, or musical interlude, but they’re meant to be places where you pause and reflect on what was just said

-Take 60 sec to think and ponder about people being against you

-David spends the first 2 verses bemoaning the state he finds himself in, but then quickly shifts his gaze from himself up to God.

  • The Reminder (3-6)

-How often are you your own worst enemy? One of my favorite authors says it this way “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you as much as you talk to yourself.”

-We are commanded to take every thought captive to Christ, but how often do your thoughts control you instead of you controlling them? How often do the worries/fears of this world consume you instead of looking to the only person who faced every worry/fear and took the penalty in our place.

-Instead of listening to yourself you need to preach the gospel to yourself. Every day.

-In the midst of whatever challenges thrown your way, the Lord is a shield

-Something weird about the shield: AROUND me

-Psalms use poetic elements to make points, in this case a full shield surrounding David, but not just surrounding him, his glory and lifter of his head

-Source of everything, David is nothing without God

2 Samuel 15:30 “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered.” God lifts David’s head in the midst of his struggling/mourning 

-David shifts tense in vs. 4

-Recounting some time in the past where God answered David’s prayer

-Part of the reason we need to recount and remember how God works in our past, because past evidences point to future realities 

-Look where God answers from: his holy hill. Pointing to a Messianic reality from 2:6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

-So where at first David was despondent, he then takes time to remind himself of some truths about God, and then we have another “extended guitar solo.” 

-Take 60 sec to think/pray about how you may need to preach to yourself

-Continuing on in this theme of moving on from despondency, despite of his fear, his uncertainty about his future and lineage, David is still able to rest, and sleep, which even that is a gift from God.

-Do you ever think about the fact that you and I are able to rest/sleep because God doesn’t? God sustains us through each day, each night, and everything in between

-Do you ever find yourself unable to sleep when you’re discouraged or feeling beat down? DA Carson: “Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep—not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body need.”

-Look at the shift from the beginning of the Psalm to vs. 6. He goes from all these foes to “I won’t be afraid”

-Sometimes sleep is all you need!

-Even when David is completely surrounded (look back vs 3), he doesn’t have anything to be afraid of

-Even when it seems to you like all hope is lost, we have nothing to be afraid of! This confidence leads us to ask God:

  • The Plea (7-8)

-David wraps up this Psalm by bringing in some previous theme into his request of God:

-Arise O lord (look at vs. 1)

-Save me (look at vs. 2)

-David is no longer afraid, because he knows God will come to his aide!

-God will deal with David’s enemies – striking on the cheek is publicly disgracing (just like David was publicly disgraced in the account of Absalom)

-Break the teeth, 2 options: first is a hard punch, second is think of an animal who has prey in its mouth (alligator ate a dog in FL), if the alligator is holding the animal in its teeth and the teeth are broken, the prey is saved!

-Finally, everything concludes with this last reminder: salvation is up to God. Even when “many are saying” to David that he there is no salvation for him, they have no control over it, it’s up to God. That’s how we can find blessing even in the midst of persecution and suffering.

-What does this mean for us? Look at this Psalm Christ-o-centrically.

Acts 4:12 “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

-Salvation belongs to the Lord, but that salvation was won because Jesus is the greater David

2 Samuel 15:30 “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered.

-Who else do you know who went up to the Mount of Olives weeping? (Luke 22)

-This is part of the reason we celebrate communion, it reminds us who is our shield around us. It reminds us that salvation is found in no one else. It reminds us that God sustains us. We ask God to continue saving us (and remember how he always has!) Through the cup and the wine we can say “salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!” And what’s the last word? Selah 

The Singing 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 channel.

The Singing

Eph. 5:15-21, Col. 3:12-17

-Why do we sing when we gather together? Most of us don’t have training, most of us don’t want others to hear us when we do sing (shower head), if we’re brutally honest most of us don’t really gel with the songs we sing anyway.

  1. What Is Worship?

-Unfortunate when we started making “worship music” as a genre

-God is interested in things being done well, honorable

-Ascribing worth and honor to God. Why? Because he alone is worthy! (Psalm 96)

-Tell of his salvation, declare his glory, he is to be feared

-All of our lives are worship (1 Cor. 10:31, Rom. 12:1)

-Francis Chan eating a Snickers bar to the glory of God

-Martin Luther “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.”

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

-Worship -> Christian worship -> corporate worship

-What are some idols you see being worshipped 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? 

-In fact, none of these things are completely bad! A smart phone allows Cara’s parents to see their grandkids 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. 

-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?

-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.

-“the worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.” (David Peterson, 20)

Hebrews 12:28-29

-Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10)

-Therefore, worship is always a response to God. (see below)

-every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17)

-What do you have that you did not receive (1 Cor. 4:7)

-Worshipping is acknowledging these realities.

-One of the primary ways we can worship is through singing.

  • Singing is the Pattern of God’s People

-Creation accounts in LOTR and Narnia

-Adam (Gen. 2:23) “Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

-Crossing the Red Sea (Ex. 15) “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

-Deborah and Barak (Judges 5) (prophetess and leader in Israel, after Sisera is killed)

-Singing about Saul and David (1 Sam. 18) “And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands.”

-Psalms as songs (A song of…) 18, 30, 45, 46

-Restoration of the temple under Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29) “The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped.”

-Jesus and the 12 (Matt. 26:30) “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

-new heavens and earth (Rev. 4:8) “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

Rev. 5:9-10

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

-early church 

-Pliny, governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor Christians “met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately amongst themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god.”

– Tertullian, writing from North Africa during the end of the 1st Century, “Each is invited to sing to God in the presence of others from what he knows of the holy scripture or from his own heart.”

-Jonathan Edwards: “And the duty of singing praises to God, seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.”

-what moves your affections?

  • We Sing to Remember

-We are forgetful people.

-Comic strip at Grace

-Building ebenezers in the OT

-How many times does it take you to remember something?

2017 Study – average American spend 2.5 days each year looking for lost items.

-Repetition is necessary to remember:

Psalm 136

-G.K. Chesterton: “it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”

-What does this look like in the NT? A couple parallel passages in Ephesians and Colossians

  1. Address One Another (Eph. 5)

“how you walk”

-walk this way

-Theme in this letter (4:1, 17; 5:2, 8) Paul’s way of talking about how they live

“best use of the time”

-Worship God everywhere we go

-Shema in Deut. 6

-Foolish contrasted with “the will of the Lord”

1 Thess. 4:3 “For this is the will of God: your sanctification (holiness)”

-Do not be drunk

-be filled by the Spirit, not the spirits (similar to what was happening in Corinth)

-How are we filled by the Spirit? Vs 19

-“addressing one another”

-You need to sing! You can’t address each other unless you’re singing

-Volume – too loud no one sings, too quiet no one sings

-Psalms (Jewish) hymns (Greek) spiritual song (everything else)

-Hymn definition: Augustine defined it: sung, praise, to God. 

-Google: a religious song or poem of praise to God or a god.

-Merriman Webster: a song of praise to God

-I’ve yet to find a definition of hymn that means: in the hymnal or old.

-Grant Osborne “Hymns in the early church were used to teach theology to believers. The lyrics were chosen not for their artistic value but for their truth and depth of content.” (182)

-“with your heart” not just IN your heart, WITH 

-“giving thanks always and for everything”

-Even the songs you don’t like. Every week we sing songs I don’t like!

-“If the gathering is about building up and encouraging the church, then a song I don’t like presents an opportunity to love and encourage others whose tastes differ from mine.” (Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace, 88)

-“submitting to one another.”

-Dying to ourselves, loving each other enough to look beyond our personal preferences

  • The Word of Christ (Col. 3)

-Clothing metaphor (earlier was putting off, this is putting on) 

-Laundry list of characteristics 

-One another’s in the NT

-Forgiving, we saw this idea last week in the Lord’s Prayer

-Love brings a beautiful harmony to everything we do

-melody vs harmony

-We need to use our gifts to create this harmony, that’s why I try to help Tami out with music regularly

-Peace of Christ leads to one body

-Thankfulness (again!)

-Word of Christ dwell

-you will probably forget everything I say today as you walk out the doors! You might walk out humming a song (guy complaining about it)

“Read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances)” (Mark Dever, The Deliberate Church, 81)

-Singing is a form of teaching and admonishing each other

-Sing OUT LOUD!

-Whatever you do

-life of worship

-What does this look like?

-Liturgy: the work of the people

“The goal of our gatherings should be to cultivate practices that form our church to live in the good news of the gospel.” (Cosper, 121)

-Caught & Taught: reorientation 

The Common Flow (Bryan Chapell Christ Centered Worship, 100)

                        Adoration – recognition of God’s character

                        Confession – acknowledgment of our character

                        Assurance – affirmation of grace

                        Thanksgiving – expression of devotion

                        Petition and Intercession – desire for aid in living for God

                        Instruction from God’s Word – acquiring knowledge for pleasing God

                        Charge and Benediction – living unto God with his blessing

The Consistent message: The Gospel re-presented

-Begin, in the middle, and end with “the Word of Christ.”

“Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology.” Gordon Fee

-Service centers around the preaching of God’s Word, so song choice and other elements center on that theme (all else fails, re-present the gospel!)

-Variety of songs, styles, and ages (catalogue of no more than 100 with 8-12 new ones a year)

-Language matters (as we continue to worship through…)

-The entire service is important, not just the sermon or the songs, but BOTH

-Healthy tensions/well balanced diet: (Zac Hicks The Worship Pastor, 73)

  • Transcendence and immanence of God (Isaiah 6:5 “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!””) (Acts 17:28 ““‘In him we live and move and have our being’;)
    • Cognitive and emotional (Head and Heart) (doxology & theology) (Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”, Romans 12:1-2 “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”) (Psalm 32:11 “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”)
    • Internal and external expressions (Matthew 15:8-9 ““‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”, 1 Corinthians 13) (Psalm 100:2 “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”, 101:1, 95:6 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”, 134:2 “Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!”)
    • Vertical and horizontal (Psalm 96:2 “sing to the Lord, bless his name”, 98:5-6) (Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”)
    • Planned and spontaneous – story of planning in pencil
    • Historic and contextualized (rooted and relevant)
    • For the church and for the unbeliever “Sit long – talk much – laugh often.” (Col. 3:16) (1 Cor. 14:24-25 “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.)
    • Gathered and Scattered (1 Corinthians 14:26 “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up, 11:17-18) (1 Corinthians 10:31-33 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”)

-So when we gather, we need to remember to teach and admonish one another, and one of the ways we can do that is by singing.

The Prayers Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you’d like to follow along with the sermon itself, please watch it on our YouTube channel.

Prayers

Luke 11:1-13

-Anyone have a friend? How do you get to know that friend? Talk!

READ

PRAY

  1. Teach Us to Pray (1-4)

-Doesn’t tell us where Jesus is, just a “certain place” 

-Prayer is a regular/routine part of Jesus’ life

-We see often throughout the Gospel accounts that Jesus would withdraw by Himself to pray

-During His last night on earth, he withdraws with his disciples to pray

-This pattern is supposed to be the same in our lives today: 1 Thess. 5:16 “Pray without ceasing.” Does that verse ever discourage you? I need to work, change diapers, mow the lawn, get dinner ready, do the dishes, how do I “pray without ceasing”? Great question – not going to answer it today, but there will be some tips today that will help you live a life of prayer.

-Secondly, there is the need to be taught how to pray. 

-Ask Jesus to be like his cousin

-These prayers served as the identity markers of this band of brothers

-Each “rabbi” would have a set prayer that he would teach his disciples

-These disciples want that same identity marker for their new group, and Jesus is happy to oblige.

-But one thing we need to note – no matter how long you’ve been a Christian, there are still opportunities for you to continue to be taught in how you pray. How often do you find yourself slipping into the same patterns, phrases, and requests? 

-God is more than “just” 

-“Shoot Christians Say” “I Just pray you give him traveling mercies. Pray for all his unspoken” “Echo to that” “I echo the echo of his echo of my echo.”

-If you haven’t noticed our overseers pray here every week. Each one of them emphasizes different aspects in the life of our church, and each of them serve as a model to the rest of us. Notice Jesus says here “When you pray SAY” written prayers can at times be helpful to give us words to say, but there’s also times where the Spirit will use our silence to intercede on our behalf!

-If you struggle knowing how to pray, find some resources to work through, and even more importantly, find someone to help you! We have a group of dedicated people who meet every Wednesday night during the school year to pray! If you are ever looking for some books or resources that will equip you, let me know! It’s not a sin or embarrassing to ask for help! 

-Think of it like this: all of us have certain tools we can use. My grandpa is with the Lord, but imagine if he were here today, transported from 1987. Do you think he’d be able to figure out how to use my iPhone? Or else think of the skilled trades – they’re called skilled for a reason! But let’s take a plumber as an example. At one of our houses, backup in the basement about every year. The tools the plumber brought in looked awesome! Now imagine you called me and asked me to come to your house and fix your plumbing. First of all, you’d be crazy! But even if I had all those tools at my disposal, I’d be useless to you (and probably break something). Having someone (or using a book) teaches you how to use the tools that God has given you to be more effective in your discipleship journey. 

-“Prayer is not natural. Effective prayer has to be taught and learned.” (Anyabwile, 187)

-1 more illustration (since I’m in the middle of this one right now!) If you’ve ever had kids, it takes time, teaching, and intentional training for them to learn how to function as a human being. Talking, walking, running, throwing a ball, etc. In the process of growth, you don’t yell at them for failing, you celebrate the wins! With prayer, celebrate the little steps. If your step in learning is just praying once a day for 30 sec, and that’s growth, PRAISE GOD! Whatever it is, please don’t become complacent or content with where you’re at, find ways to grow

-So how did Jesus teach us to pray? 

-2 accounts in the Bible about how to pray, Luke’s is a little more concise, but demonstrates all the same themes as Matthew. 

-Jesus would use similar stories multiple times. The Gospel accounts are highlighting major events that took place during a 3 year period – so let’s look at those themes!

  1. Begin with God

-This prayer is unlike the other prayers these disciples would have been taught, or that they would have heard other disciples around them praying.

-We so often just assume these things because they’ve become part and parcel of the Christian faith for so long, but Jesus teaches us to approach God with 1 word: father, or in Matt OUR Father

-JI Packer Knowing God “You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.”

-Tim Keller “The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access.”

-Think of the way other religions teach their people to approach their “gods” Buddhism you have to empty yourself of everything, Muslims have to face a VERY specific direction laying prostrate, the 1 true God invites us to boldly come into his presence as our loving Father. One thing to note about this prayer is how simple it is, contrary to many of those other religions. 

-In Matt. 6:7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

-“Pagan prayers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to mollify fickle gods who often did more harm than good, while Jesus introduces a God who deeply cares and can be approached directly.” (Osborne, 297) 

-Prophets of Baal vs. Elijah “shout louder! Maybe he’s musing! Relieving himself, sleeping, on a journey”

-We begin with the realization that God is our father and we are his children, means we can come to him as our loving and caring father. Then we see that we are to hallow his name. What is that?

-Honoring, revering, making holy. One way to think about that is to remember that God is God alone and supremely. That He is God, that He alone is worthy of worship. 

-All of the Bible is a story about how God can honored above everything else

-Luther in his Great Catechism “How is it hallowed amongst us? Answer: When our life and doctrine are truly Christian.”

-That is: worshipping God with every area of our lives.

-After acknowledging that God, out Father is supreme, we are to ask for:

  • His Rule

-There is a king whose kingdom has not, does not, will not end. We don’t always see this reality and most of the time we miss when these things are taking place around us. Think of how beautiful a rising sun is. Think of how delicious a medium rare steak is. Think of the magnitude of the ocean. The sheer weight of the Rocky Mountains.

-Notice that it’s not the same as Matt’s account. It’s the exact same idea, by asking and inviting his kingdom to come, we are inherently asking for His will to be done, that’s where we’ll get the joy of seeing little glimpses of his kingdom breaking in right here on earth. And here’s one reality: what we’re doing right now is meant to be a glimpse of heaven’s realities. The closest thing we have of what heaven will look like is the church.

-“The hope is in the full realization and culmination of God’s promised rule. Ultimately, it is the eradication of evil and the manifestation of righteousness that is anticipated.” (Bock, 1053)

-We in the church, serve as ambassadors of another kingdom. One where evil no longer holds sway, where earthly enemies become family, where the greatest must become the lowest, where all the things our world emphasizes don’t matter! Each week we gather back together with our family to remind us who we are and whose we are.

-Our world tries to get all these benefits and realities, but they do it by using the wrong tools. Politics, force, legislation, finances. Do you want to know how to get these benefits and realities?

-Tied to Matt. 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

-Tim Keller (again) has such a good way of putting this: “If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not the near side.” 

-You want a good marriage? Holiness. You want to be content in your job? Holiness. You want to be a better parent? Holiness. 

-Another way of saying this: if you want true, lasting happiness, realize that we are citizens of a kingdom, we find true success/contentment by obeying the king.
-This isn’t what our world offers! Be true to yourself, look inside, find “your truth”

-The biggest thing I want you to take away from the first half of the Lord’s Prayer is the orientation. It begins vertically before it gets horizontal. 

-This is the goal of all of Scripture: vertical before horizontal. 10 commandments, the role of the prophets in the OT, the role of the priests in the OT, the role of Jesus in the NT.

-It’s not until we acknowledge who God is that we talk about us. And this first half should serve to refine/refocus the second half:

  • Our Need

-The first thing we ask is for what we need each day. 

-Notice “us” “each day” “daily bread”

-Meant to be communal, all of us praying this together (and individual)

-We should ask for today’s needs

-1st century people didn’t “stock the pantry” they each day had to figure out where their food would come from, they would feel the weight of this far more than we would (maybe we have too much)

-Grew up (and continue) praying before each meal, this is part of the reason, God doesn’t need to provide the excess that he has for us as He has for most of us for most of our lives

-Daily bread – bread was the lifeblood of this people. No gluten free here! If you didn’t have bread that day you didn’t eat.

-2 things in relation to the bread:

-manna in the wilderness wanderings

-I am the bread of life – if you don’t “eat” Jesus you spiritually die! (this also points us back to last week’s message on communion)

-The second need we have is in relation to our sins

-All have sinned. Sin is an act of rebellion against the sovereign Creator God. Each sin makes us worthy of eternal condemnation, so God sent his one and only Son to bear that penalty in our place 

-Yet we still need to regularly confess our sin (this becomes VERY easy when we’ve spent time praying through the first half of the prayer and we understand who God is)

-Luke connects “sins” to “indebtedness” sinning against someone places us in their debt (just as sinning against God places us in his debt) Since we have been forgiven something of eternal significance, we must forgive people for things that will disappear

-Finally, connected to the sins is the need to not be led into temptation

-God does not tempt us, but he will test us. (tested Abraham, tested Moses, tested David, all failed) thankfully we have someone who was tested/tempted but came out victorious! 

-Asking to not be led into temptation is the same thing as being asked to be delivered from evil.

-Summary: begin with God and who He is, look for ways in which His sovereign rule and reign are being seen around you and pray that continues, then you can ask for your needs of daily provision and repentance. 

-If you’ve ever recited the Lord’s Prayer in the church, you probably see something is missing at the end of both accounts! “For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

-Pretty early in the church that phrase got added as a doxology, final praise. Kingdom theme in the prayer, He has the power to forgive sins and take care of our needs, and we glory (glorify) Him by hallowing His name.

-Amen isn’t a sign off, it means we are all in agreement, and we believe what we have prayed will happen

  • Two Examples (5-13)

-In Luke’s account, Jesus follows this prayer up with 2 examples, ways in which we should think of prayer.

  1. A Friend (5-10)

-Hospitality was required in the first century, and if one person wasn’t able to provide what was needed it became an indictment on the whole community. 

-One friend has a friend arriving at midnight (well after bedtime) and doesn’t have any food for him, so he goes to his neighbor

-1st century houses were 1 room, and everyone slept together in the same bed, so going to knock on the house would wake up everyone. Including the kids

-Think of it like this – you have your phone next to your bed, and a friend calls you at midnight, you ignore it and go back to sleep. Calls again. Ignore again. Phone rings again and keeps going until you finally pick up! 

-The guy’s going to get what he wants! He finally gets the neighbor up and gets the bread he needs.

-Jesus is saying persistence pays off! He tells a similar story of a widow who keeps nagging a judge until the judge finally relents. But here’s where the analogy breaks down: God isn’t a neighbor we can annoy or a heard hearted judge – He’s a Father.

-Because of that, we can ask, seek and knock and God will answer.

  • A Father (11-13)

-All of us have father’s – a physical fact that I can guarantee! Some of you had good fathers, some of you had fathers you’d like to forget, but those of us who have been adopted by God have a perfect Father in heaven. Doesn’t take away earthly father wounds, but it does give us hope.

-Jesus uses a couple crazy examples to point out how fathers will do their best to care for their kids: ask for fish give him a poisonous snake, egg give him a scorpion. 

-The point: compared to God even the best earthly father in the world is evil.

-Parallel passage in Matt 7:11 “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

-The best gift God has given us is the indwelling presence of Himself – the Holy Spirit who leads us in righteousness, reminds us of the truth of God’s Word and works to sanctify us. 

-Jesus is giving a pattern for us to follow for all of our lives. By praying as He taught, it shapes our thinking, our patterns of life, and brings us closer into relationship with our loving heavenly Father.

-Take some time now to pray using the Lord’s prayer as your model! I’ll use the Matthew’s text with the doxology we’re used to, but please take a few minutes now to pray.

Breaking of Bread Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, please listen to the message on our YouTube channel to hear the whole sermon.

Breaking of Bread

1 Cor. 11:17-34

Acts 2:42 – we’re commanded to meet, the gospel is first, 

-Seesaw 

            -“Healthy tensions”

-2 ordinances given to us from the Lord: baptism and communion 

-Talked about baptism a couple times before – it’s one of the easiest commands given for us to obey

-If you are a believer, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and you have not been baptized, what’s stopping you? What’s holding you back?

-Baptism serves as entry point or the beginning. Signifies our new life that is found in Christ, so just as he was laid down in the grave and then came out alive, so we are laid down into the water, and then coming up clean and new, washing away our old sinful selves and putting on our new perfected selves (early church literally gave new clothes to those baptized)

-As baptism serves as beginning, communion serves as the regular reminder. So we are baptized once, we celebrate communion regularly for the rest of our lives.

EFCA SOF Article 7 on The Church

READ

PRAY

-Before we walk through this text, we need to have some historical background understanding of what led to communion.

-Anyone have any family traditions that take place regularly? We’re coming up to the 4th of July, some families make that a really big deal. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, graduation

-Our culture doesn’t always do celebrations/remembrances well. Other cultures have different rhythms/patterns that help denote significant milestones in people’s lives. Quinceañera, bar mitzvah (bat mitzvah)

-Regular habits, routines, practices that help shape/form the culture.

-All of us have these habits, some of the habits are better than others! One of the habits/routines we have is the 5 day, 40 hour work week. Then you end up with songs like “Working for the weekend,” or people anxiously awaiting Friday to finally come and dreading Monday. Some routines are even built into the creation order – in 6 days God created the world, and on the 7th He rested – serving as a template for us to follow.

-The Jewish people are MASTERS of these rhythms/routines. (so is God)

-Shabbat – sabbath rest weekly

-Rosh Hashanah – Jewish new year

-Yom Kippur – Jewish day of atonement

-Sukkot – fall harvest, celebrating time in the wilderness

-Shemini Atzeret – end of Sukkot prayer for rain

-Hanukkah – festival celebrating freedom from oppression, freedom of worship, finding light in the darkest times

-Purim – celebrating saving of the Jews from Haman

-Shavuot – AKA “Festival of First Fruits” 

-Passover – freedom from Egyptian slavery

-Passover is the Jewish celebration that Jesus uses to point to the reality of that first Passover only being the shadow, but himself being the substance.

-Shadow vs. substance. Moses, David, Melchizedek, tabernacle, sacrificial system 

-Living on this side of the cross means that we now celebrate the substance of Jesus Christ instead of living in the shadows that pointed to the coming of the Messiah. So everything we do has to be viewed from the Christo-centric lens – including and especially communion, as you’ll see by the end of our time together!

-If you don’t know the history of Passover – nation of Israel spent 430 years enslaved in Egypt. Genesisfocuses on the beginning in the first 11 chapters, then in 12 shifts to 1 person and his family: Abraham, who fathers Isaac, who fathers Jacob, who has 12 sons that set the stage for the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob’s 12 sons weren’t BFFs, sold Joseph (father’s favorite) to slavery, through his slavery and imprisonment eventually ends up as 2nd in command of Egypt, spares the nation (and surrounding nations) from famine, whole family moves down to Egypt and is given land to settle in (not the Promised Land). Exodus begins by saying a new king came into power in Egypt who did not know/remember Joseph, and viewed the Israelites as a threat to his rule so he enslaved them. Eventually, God raises up Moses to serve as His mouthpiece to His people and lead them out of their slavery and into the Promised Land. Moses goes to Pharoah and demands He let God’s people go, Pharoah refuses culminating in a great showdown between the gods of Egypt and the one true God: spoiler alert, God wins. But the culmination of this showdown is a 10th and final plague where the firstborn is killed, except for those who put blood on the doorframe of their houses, where the angel of death will “pass over” those homes (where the name Passover comes from). 

-God commanded his people to commemorate and celebrate Passover every year as a reminder of how God rescued and redeemed his people, first from certain death and then from slavery.

-When Jesus came he also celebrated communion, but 1 communion in particular he changed the focus and the meaning of.

Matt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20

-While John doesn’t have the introduction of the elements, it contains a much fuller explanation of what Jesus did and said during this last supper in John 13-17.

-All the Gospel accounts record that the events of the Last Supper took place in the midst of the Passover meal

-Jesus took the shadow, shared how it pointed to the substance (Himself) and then gave it a new meaning for his disciples.

  1. Horizontal Communion (17-22)

-Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, full of issues! 

-But even this church has practices that are commendable! Unfortunately, their practice of communion was NOT done correctly.

-So what am I talking about when I talk about horizontal communion?

-Look how many times Paul uses the phrase “When you come together.”

-There are all sorts of debates throughout church history about the size of the “together” here. Paul seems to be talking about the church gathered in this section, so that’s what I go with.

-The best description I’ve ever heard of communion is a family meal. It’s a time for us as a family to connect, engage, remind ourselves what we’re about, catch up, breathe!

-Unfortunately for Corinth, something is off with the way they’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

  1. Divisions (17-19)

-The church is dividing among themselves. Early church often faced dividing issues – slave vs free, men vs women, knowledge vs lack of knowledge, Jews vs Greeks. What was amazing about the church was that they all came together!

-When the church gathers there are not supposed to be any divisions. No matter the size of our bank account, the car we drive, the color of our skin, our gender, our genealogy, we are commanded to be one in Christ

-But there’s a sanctifying component to divisions, according to vs. 19.

-Divisions lead to that recognition of that which is true. If/when there is conflict among people, it should lead to the truth coming out.

-So what is it that’s leading to these division?

  • The Haves and the Have-Nots (20-22)

-Where the church is meant to break down any divides that the world tries to force on us, the church at Corinth was carrying the worldly traditions into their worship.

-Since they were continuing their worldly influenced traditions, Paul says it’s not the Lord’s Supper that they’re celebrating. Meaning the first thing to remember about communion is it’s meant to be a unifying thing. 

-In John’s account, Jesus even prays specifically for us as his future followers, that we would be 1 – perfectly unified together. That’s where the description of the church being a body is so helpful.

-Social standing mattered a great deal in the 1st Century. Every century, if you think about it. That’s where the church is such a counter-cultural idea! The church is the place where natural enemies become family.

-Craig Blomberg “The minority of well-to-do believers (1:26), including the major financial supporters and owners of the homes in which the believers met, would have had the leisure-time and resources to arrive earlier and bring larger quantities and finer food than the rest of the congregation. Following the practice of hosting festive gatherings in ancient Corinth, they would have quickly filled the small private dining room. Latecomers (the majority, who probably had to finish work before coming on Saturday or Sunday evening—there was as of yet no legalized day off in the Roman empire) would be seated separately in the adjacent atrium or courtyard. Those that could not afford to bring a full meal, or a very good one, did not have the opportunity to share with the rest in the way that Christian unity demanded. (NIVAC, 196)

-One goes hungry, another goes drunk. This is pointing to the whole meal (food & drink)

-Say it again – the primary point of this section is communion is meant to be unifying, a place where we all demonstrate our family meal, our unity in Christ

-A couple things to notice – Paul doesn’t say eating this food is wrong (socialism), Paul is saying the Lord’s Supper, the focal point of the gathering of God’s people, is meant to level the playing field so we all participate in the same things. Acts 2:44 “All who believed were together and had all things in common.”

-But that’s not the only component to communion, as we see in this next section. Remember the see saw?

  • Vertical Communion (23-26)

-Just as Paul emphasized the need for unity between each other in communion, now he’s going to demonstrate the need for us to be unified to God in communion.

-2 components that Paul mentions: looking back, and looking forward.

  1. Looking Back (23-25)

-Received and delivered: “The verbs “received” and “passed on,” which occur again in combination later in the letter (15:3), are technical terms from Paul’s Jewish heritage for the transmission of religious instruction.” (Fee, NICNT, 607)

-Sounds very similar to what we have in the Gospel accounts – Jesus in the midst of the Passover celebration reinterpreted elements of the Passover (shadow) to point to the reality (substance) of himself

“On the night when he was betrayed”

-This is the darkest night that has ever happened. The one perfect person to ever exist, God incarnate, was betrayed by 1 of the 12 disciples that he poured his life into for his entire earthly ministry 
-And Jesus calls for unity even with the one who betrayed Him, that means that we as God’s people today, can also be united even when someone betrays us

-Also points us back to a specific time and a specific place. Jesus – God became man, was a real person who lived in a real place, had skin and bones (just like us) but unlike us, He didn’t sin.

-This points us to the need for us to remember back to the reality that Jesus Himself was betrayed and bore the penalty for our sins when He willingly went to the cross.

-Somber reflection

-inaugurating a new covenant

-Done “in remembrance of”

-Just as His body was broken the bread is broken, just as his blood was shed so we see the symbol of His blood in our hands

-But it’s not ONLY somber, remember that seesaw, and look at vs. 26

  • Looking Forward (26)

-The 2 elements serve to remind us of the gospel that saves us, but the gospel that saves us isn’t restricted to the here and now – it urges us to long for the coming day when Jesus will return and right every wrong.

“as often”

-Meant to be done with regularity and repeatedly. We can have fun discussions/debates about how often we should celebrate communion (full disclosure I would prefer to celebrate communion as the culmination of every weekly service, but that’s a 3rd order issue)

-Whatever the frequency, every time we participate together, it’s mean to:

“proclaim the Lord’s death”

-We are and always will be gospel people. One of my favorite descriptions of a worship service is very simple: “read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances).”

-Reminder of the cross centered nature of our faith (first the call to come and die, second the implication that both our faith compels us to both vertical and horizontal relationships)

“until he comes”

-communion is only celebrated in the in between time – between Christ’s 2 comings

-Each time we celebrate communion, it’s a reminder that this world is not our home, we’re foreigners here who are awaiting our King to return 

-Also reminds us (as Jesus says in the Gospels Matt. 26:29 “I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”) that only sinners are welcomed to the table, perfect people need not participate! When Jesus returns, we will sit down to the final communion – the wedding supper with the Lamb!

-This demonstrates that this should be a joyous celebration! Our sin is paid for, the tomb is empty, we will never die! 

-Communion is meant to be BOTH somber realization that we are sinners, AND a joyous celebration because we a no longer slaves to sin. What does that look like?

  • Horizontal and Vertical Judgment (27-34)

“an unworthy manner”

-people have taken this text and made it hyper individualistic to the point where we just need my “me time” each time we celebrate communion to ensure everything is right between me and God. But what is the focus in this whole section? Communal, we, us, our.

“Let a person examine himself then”

-How are you treating the body? Are you caring for others more than yourself? Are you actively pursuing unity and fighting against discord/division? Are you using your gifts to serve the greater body? 1 Cor. 12-14 go on to talk about the necessity of all of us using our gifts for the good of the whole church.

“without discerning the body”

-Take this “body” to refer to 2 things

-first the body of Jesus. Then Jesus’ earthly body which is? The church, the community, us gathering together. 

-then the body of the church

“judged ourselves truly”

-stop using the world’s standards! We judge ourselves according to God’s standards. We all messed up, we all sinned, we all need grace, that’s why we need to be serious about killing our own indwelling sin, and do our best to love and honor each other over ourselves. 

“we are disciplined”

-God judges everyone, either toward eternal condemnation or toward disciple/correction

“wait for one another”

-one last communal reminder. We’re supposed to do this TOGETHER. Be serious about dealing with your own sin, so that when we gather as the church we can be serious about loving each other, caring for each other, honoring each other better than we honor ourselves, and demonstrating that “each other-ness” by celebrating communion with EACH OTHER.

-If you have unresolved sin, you are welcome here, in fact it’s ONLY people who have unresolved sin that are welcome here, perfect people don’t need the church or communion! 

So what?

-We are table people – both THE table and OUR tables, be hospitable (this ties into fellowship)

-We saw this in Heb. 13:1-2 “let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.” The Gospel Comes with a House Key

-It’s nearly impossible to remain angry at someone when you’re breaking bread with them. 

-Communion is meant to serve as a visible reminder of: 

-the gospel (vertical)

-our unity in and through the gospel (horizontal)

The Apostles’ Teaching Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, please listen to the message on our YouTube channel to hear the whole sermon.
The Apostles’ Teaching

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

-Why do we spend so much of our weekly gathering listening to me talk? And what am I trying to do as I read, study, and pray each week for this?

-One time heard someone say imagine every week is finals week!

-But this is what God has called, equipped and gifted me to pursue, just like every one of you should have things that God has called, equipped, and gifted you to do.

-The very first NT sermon is in Acts 2, an exposition of Joel 2

-Early apostles in Acts 6 appoint the first deacons so they could be devoted to “prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Serving as a job description of pastors/elders moving forward

-What we try to do here every week is exposit the text in front of us. Walking through a passage of Scripture word by word and explaining what it means, how that relates to us today, and how we should live in response to that word.

-J.I. Packer defined preaching this way: “Christian preaching is the event of God himself bringing to an audience a Bible-based, Christ-related, life-impacting message of instruction and direction through the words of a spokesperson.” 

-John Stott similarly said “To preach is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and God’s people obey Him.”

-What’s amazing is week after week of hearing God’s Word spoken and exposited (add details as to an account or idea; clarify the meaning of and discourse in a learned way) is we become changed people. We better learn how to ready and apply God’s Word to our lives! It is a common means of grace.

-The Bible is dripping through our whole service: the songs we sing, the verses read, the prayers prayed need to be so saturated in God’s Word that if they were a towel what you would wring out is the Bible

READ
PRAY

  1. The Gospel Is Central (1-7)

-We took a look at the gospel message in quite a bit of detail my first Sunday here, but if you haven’t figured out it’s a pretty big theme in the Bible, so let’s take a look at all the gospel entails.

-Transliteration of the Greek word euoneglion literally means good news.

-Also where we get the modern word “evangelical” so evangelicals are gospel people, people who believe in the Good News (not how newspapers define)

-Most helpful way I’ve found (and the way I talk) is using 4 words: God, man, Christ, response. 

God the righteous creator, man the sinner, Jesus Christ the Savior, Response – faith and repentance

-The Gospel in the NT

-proclamation (Matt. 4:23 – “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.)

-kingdom (Matt. 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.)

-Centers on Jesus (Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.)

-Demands response (Acts 15:7 “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.)

-Powerful (Rom. 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.)

-Primary use of gospel in the NT is Paul, which is why we’ll be looking at a passage he wrote. 

  1. Past, Present, Future (1-2)

-One of my favorite quotes about the gospel from Tim Keller: “We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make progress in the kingdom.”

-Think of a wheel. The hub is connected to every other piece of that wheel. The gospel is meant to be the center point of our lives, from which we lead into every other area of our lives.

-Struggling in your marriage? Look to the gospel. Struggling at work? Look to the gospel. Struggling as a parent? Look to the gospel. I realize this sounds simplistic, so bear with me as we work this out here.

-This is exactly what Paul is saying in these first 2 vss. 

-First thing we see is how the gospel contradicts the primary cultural ideas.

-“I would remind you” is gnosis in the Greek. “I would bring to mind” Gnosticism was an early heresy that you needed “secret wisdom/knowledge” to be in the “inside”

-While the Corinthians claimed this secret knowledge, Paul reminds them what’s really true. 

-Our world today has competing cultural ideas. Evangelism in a Skeptical World pgs. 40-41

-Second thing is the need for this gospel to be received.

-Past tense. Sometime in the past you had to believe this. There is a moment in time where the Spirit awakens you, brings you from death into life.

-Third, this gospel IN WHICH you stand

-Present tense. It’s not enough to look back fondly on your conversion and get on with your life as if it doesn’t matter.

-Fourth, the gospel is the means by which you are BEING saved.

-In the future. Gospel is means of salvation, AND sanctification. (define)

-Lastly, is the conditional “if”

-You must hold fast. Seems to be a theme last week and this week! 

-We cling to the gospel message itself. That Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he rose again.

-Unless you were believing in the wrong thing!

-This gospel message affects past, our present, and out future. 

-Martin Luther “It (the gospel) is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

-As we focus on the gospel we continually behold, set our gaze on, and become more like the risen Christ.

-Paul focuses on this idea in 2 Cor. 3:18 “We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

-This past, present, and future aspect of the gospel means our image is supposed to day by day look more and more like Jesus.

-It’s like the beast from Beauty & The Beast. He was hideous to look at, refused to even look at his image in the mirror, God slowly softens our beast features to look more like Him.

-The gospel is therefore the primary thing we need to be fixated upon, individually and corporately.

  • First Importance (3-7)

“Although everything in the Bible is important, not everything is equally important. Some doctrines are more important than others. The gospel is most important.” (ESV Expositors Commentary)

-Theological triage (major on the majors, minor on the minors)

Originally coined by Dr. Al Mohler, picked up more recently by Gavin Ortlund Finding the Right Hills to Die On

-Hospital analogy

-Way of prioritizing the most important theological issues. 

-This is really important for us to understand, because generally where the disagreements comes with people is over the third order issues. Some examples:

First – Jesus being fully God and fully man, virgin birth, empty tomb

Second – baptism, complementarianism, spiritual gifts

Third – age of the earth, views about the end times, Calvinism/Arminianism 

         Evangelical Convictions “Though all Evangelical Christians are unity in the conviction that God is the Creator of all things, they have been divided over how God created – how long it took and what process he may have used.” (33)

-Some things aren’t even on this list that I’ve been told are reasons people left a church – style of music, what clothes should the pastor wear, translation of the Bible, politics 

-People will have different issues that they’ll put in different spheres of importance.

-For myself, I’ve come to some strong conclusions about baptism, but the EFCA has it as a third level issue. You may have issues that you’d put as a level 2 that I wouldn’t put there, that’s ok!

-Fundamentalism makes everything an essential, “progressive” or liberal leaning Christians put everything as optional.

-When you come into an area of disagreement with someone, it’s vital to (just like Paul did here) differentiate between that which is PRIMARY and that which is not.

-“In essentials unity; in non-essentials charity; in all things, Jesus Christ.” Rupertus Meldenius (17th Cent)

-As we have discussions/disagreements about theology, humility is crucial. “If maintaining the unity of the body of Christ is not costing you anything – if it doesn’t hurt – then you probably are not adjusting enough…The unity of the church was so valuable to Jesus that he died for it. If we care about sound theology, let us care about unity as well.” (Ortlund, Hills, 150)

-Gospel believers – the fact that there are “first importance” doctrines must lead us to humility. I don’t feel the need to defend every tiny piece of by theological beliefs, that which is true will stand the test of time! As a professor at seminary often said, we should attack ideas (ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims) not people.

-“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Russian)

-The gospel then serves as the hub of the wheel, the primary way of viewing everything we see around us. 

-C.S. Lewis “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

-This section is thought to be an early church creed, with some of Paul’s comments thrown in.

-Attesting to the historical reliability of the risen Christ. Most scholars think this creed was written within months of Jesus’ resurrection. Even when Paul is writing this letter, most of the people who saw Jesus after his resurrection are still living.

-Brothers and sisters – we have a similar testimony. Jesus has appeared to us in some way through the testimony or witness of someone who loved us enough to tell us about Jesus, and then to live out the truth of what they were telling you.

-If we believe in the Apostles’ Teaching (the gospel) then we need to be intentional about sharing that truth with others, about living in such a way that others will see glimpses of Jesus in you.

-Glimpses. Not perfectly, we’re poor reflections of him, at least on this side of heaven. One author said we need to hold our mirrors at 45% – angled up to heaven!

-Last year Barna released a statistic that said 47% of Christian Millennials think evangelism is wrong. Statistics can be misleading, since Barna also says that 95-97% of all Christians believe that part of their faith means being a witness about Jesus, and the way questions are worded is always tricky because people project their own definitions.

-But what is implied by this list of people who had seen Jesus was Paul exhorting the church at Corinth to go talk to them if they didn’t believe! The single most important thing is getting Jesus right. 

-“If Christ is risen – then nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – then nothing else matters.” (Jaroslav Pelikan – Yale professor) 

– I was reminded this week about an author named Randy Alcorn who knows the that nothing but Christ matters.

-1990 was peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic, was arrested, placed in prison, then sued by the abortion clinic for 8.2 million dollars. He resigned from the church he was working at, was already giving away the royalties from his book, and spent 20 years making minimum wage. In that time, he gave away over $8.2 million from his royalties to various charities, ministries and organizations that are continuing to have gospel impact throughout the world. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you being faithful! 

-We need to keep Christ as the most important thing in all our lives! 

  • The Gospel Is Personal (8-11)

-After exhorting the church to keep the focus on the gospel, Paul then talks about how the gospel transformed him personally.

  1. The Last Apostle (8-9)

-One of those fun theological debates people have – does the office of “apostle” continue today?

-Because of this text, I say no. Vs. 8 says this is the “last of all” and apostles are those who were eyewitnesses to the risen Christ. Gifted to begin the early church, write down God’s truth, and usher in the new era of history.

-Crazy that the “least” of the apostles wrote half the NT. God has a tendency to use “the least of these”

-Paul acknowledges his past, his persecution against Jesus’ bride, yet still realizes God has uniquely called and gifted him to carry out the gospel message.

-That’s where all of us are. If you do the math, none of us are good enough to measure up to God’s holy, perfect, righteous standard. Remember the plumbline illustration from Amos? 

-The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Because the tomb is empty there is no least or greatest, we’re all one, we’re all together in Christ. What other religion offers a way for everyone to be in the same place??

  • God’s Grace (10-11)

-Even though Paul was the least of the apostles, he realized that God’s grace changed everything. 

-But is one of the most important words in the Bible!

-I’ll be honest, this used to be one of my favorite verses, the Popeye verse! I yam what I yam and dats what I yam! 

-God’s grace is enough to change even the most ardent persecutor of the church to the most ardent discipler in the church.

-God’s grace is never wasted, as God’s grace was extended to Paul he was then able to work harder than any other apostle to share the gospel message with the world. 

-Just as you might be tempted to think he’s pounding his chest, Paul quickly jumps back to remind that it wasn’t him working, it was God’s grace working itself out in him.

-This is true of us too! God’s grace affects us too. God’s grace saves us and then begins to transform us. So just as Paul was placed at a specific time and place (even though he considers himself “untimely born”) you and me are here for this time and place for a reason. 

-The last sentence tells us the reason. We preach, you believe. 

1 Cor. 3:4-7 “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

-By keeping the Apostles’ Teaching (the gospel) the first importance, it will allow us to see God getting the growth.

-Doesn’t mean we let go and let God, “I planted, Apollos watered.” We still have a job to do! That is being the church! We need to be committed, we need to be here to support and encourage each other, we need to be praying for each other, we need to love each other, and we need to do all those things because the gospel is of first importance. The gospel transforms us day by day into the image of God.

-They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.

We’re Commanded To – Sermon Manuscript

We’re Commanded To

Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 10:19-25

NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from on Sunday morning. If you want to listen to the sermon to get a better context, please visit our YouTube page.

-Coming out of a unique season of life for many of us. COVID interrupted our routines, our jobs, our churches, our friendships. In short, the past year has taught a completely new way of life for many of us!

-While I’m super thankful for the online technology that has allowed us to “meet” it’s not quite the same

-Time at TGC a few weeks ago

-The past 14 months have brought up a bunch of questions about the church, the purpose of meeting, what we emphasize, what we focus on, HOW we go about our corporate worship gatherings, what is important/essential

-This is really getting to the question of: what is the purpose of the church? Why are we here? Everyone’s got thoughts/opinions/ideas, but doesn’t the Bible tell us some things we should be doing/participating in?

-Add in that almost all of us have previous experience at churches, here, growing up, college. We all walk in the doors every week with a certain list of expectations, and those expectations aren’t always met.

-Church hunters “We’re more looking for the humor of Andy Stanley with the body of Stephen Furtick”

“it was like we left there feeling convicted, like ugh” “We’re looking for more of a Tony Robins type sermon” “Like inspirational, like a TED talk with a Bible verse”

-There’s a tendency to treat church like consumers, and let’s be honest, many of us are conditioned to think that way! If we don’t like the coffee at one coffee shop, don’t worry, there’s a different one just down the street! 

-Introduction from The Church, An Introduction by Gregg Allison 

-The Bible even uses various metaphors to describe the church. The church is a: family, the bride of Christ, branches on a vine, an olive tree, a field of crops, a building, a new temple, a harvest, God’s house, a pillar and buttress of truth, and the body of Christ.

-We’re getting to that idea of what the church is. Wayne Grudem defines the church as “the community of all true believers for all time.” Gregg Allison defines the church as “the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.”

-Now we’re getting to the difference between the catholic (universal) church, and the local church!

-Reformers said there is a church anytime the sacraments are faithfully performed

-People today often refer to church as just a building. 

-And if you’re not confused yet, we haven’t even gotten to what a church does

-Here’s the reality – Jesus himself established the church.

Matt. 16:16-19 “Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

-Church’s primary mission is to hold fast and proclaim this reality, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

-On the rock of Peter’s confession (who is Jesus himself) the church will be built. This is one of those areas where we would disagree with Roman Catholics, they built a whole papal order out of this 1 verse!

-There is a heavenly authority that comes with the church. The church today serves as an outpost of Jesus’ kingdom. Us gathering is meant to give everyone watching a little picture of what heaven will look like! Does our church give that glimpse? 

-This series will be based on the early church, as demonstrated in Acts 2.

-I’ve talked to a number of people who say “If only we could get back to the New Testament church” Don’t forget it wasn’t all daisies and roses back then either! In fact, until Jesus comes back, the church is guaranteed to have issues! And if you ever find a church that doesn’t have issues, the moment you (as a sinner) walk in the door, you’re bringing issues with you.

-We need to distinguish between that which is DEscriptive and that which is PREscriptive.

-Descriptive: describes events taking place, not necessarily applicable to every time & place

-Prescriptive: things that should be true in every time & place

-quick example, Rom. 16:16 “greet one another with a holy kiss.” 

READ

PRAY

  1. The First Church (Acts 2)

-There’s a lot for us to unpack in these few verses! So much so that we’ll take a week on each characteristic in turn. Today is just a broad overview of what characterized the early church.

-Always difficult to drop into a book (like we’ll be doing in this series) because we miss the bigger context and picture the author is painting.

-Acts is the 2 of a 2 part series (beginning with Luke’s Gospel) written by the same guy, this would be considered the sequel (The Empire Strikes Back)

1:1 “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,”

-This book picks up where Luke left off. After Jesus rose from the grave, what happened? How did his message spread? How did his disciples respond?

-Quick synopsis of the first 2 chapters: Jesus ascends into heaven, disciples select a new “12th” disciple

-Worth mentioning, more than 12 people had been following Jesus during his earthly life, I tend to forget that because the 12 received most of his attention, but men & women were a part of this rag tag group of people. Actually 10x the 12, Acts 1:15 says there were 120 disciples.

-Then in Acts 2 everything changes. Pentecost comes and the disciples are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. (Don’t have time to dig into this, but if you want to see what Jesus said about the coming of the HS read John 16-17)

-In response to this, the early church is given a new confidence to begin sharing what Jesus meant with everyone they could. Peter preaches the most impactful sermon in recorded history. Look at vs. 41. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” 

-I’m still waiting for my 3,000 soul sermon! Actually, every Pastor I know is!

-So what characterized this early church? How did they manage adding 3,000 new converts to this fledgling faith?

-Honestly, not super well, because just 4 chapters later there’s a pretty big disagreement that comes up because racism is rampant in this early church (again, don’t have time for that one)

-There are 4 primary things that this early church devoted themselves to in vs. 42: the apostles teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. Let’s walk through those 4 things:

  1. Apostles’ Teaching

-Here’s the fascinating thing. What you’re holding in your hand (or reading on your device) didn’t exist at the time. They didn’t have the 4 Gospel accounts, didn’t have Paul’s, Peter’s, James’ letters. They had their experience and time with Jesus, and the OT. 

-And that was enough! The word “devoted” connotes the idea of continually, constantly. They were continually devoted to these 4 primary things, so they were constantly listening to the apostles teaching.

-Kent Hughes “Where the Spirit reigns, a love for God’s Word reigns.” This is why sermons take up the bulk of our weekly worship.

-Look at this in more detail next week.

  • Breaking of Bread

-2 aspects to this one: regular table time together at people’s homes, and the penultimate breaking of bread in communion. One of John Calvin’s requirements for a true church was anywhere the sacraments were truly practiced. 

-Communion is 1 of 2 sacraments Christ commanded his church to practice, the other being baptism. Look at this more in 2 weeks!

  • Fellowship

-This is one of the most misunderstood words used in the church today!

-Sitting in a deacon meeting, someone talking about making some meals for shut-ins and then “we’ll have a little fellowship”

-This is the first time this word appears in the NT, denotes something in common, which didn’t happen before the HS indwelt them.

  • Prayers

-THE prayers. While this was still a Jewish sect, they were still following a lot of the customs/traditions they had been following. 

-But also regularly praying for each other.

-What was the implication of these 4 things? Look at vs. 43-47

-The common aspect of fellowship was lived out in the lives of the believers. No one had any needs, and if they did other’s helped take care of them. Doesn’t that sound awesome? This is the radical generosity piece we saw in our Amos series on justice! Willingly disadvantaging yourself for the advantage of others.

-There’s a “day by day” aspect to this. There’s large gathering in the temple, small gathering in the homes (church gathered vs church scattered)

-Having favor with all the people. Do you think the world looks at the church favorably today? Headlines: “Here’s why a New Bedford church is suing Gov. Charlie Baker” “Former New Orleans Church Official Sentenced for Wire Fraud” “Congregation or Cult? Former members accuse Kansas City church of abuse.”

-Yes, I realize we should expect persecution, but is “favor” because of our good deeds an honest marker of our church, or not?

-What do you think people who aren’t believers, who have never set foot inside a church expect when they walk into a church building? There was a movie that came out a few years ago Resurrection of Gavin Stone about a Hollywood actor who’s forced to do community service at a local church (you can probably guess the rest of the movie) But 1 scene stood out to me when I first watched it where he gets ready to go to church.

-If you want to watch it, it’s on Netflix!

-Lastly, the Lord added to their number day by day. The early church was intentional about evangelism. They were always looking for ways to share the good news of what Jesus had done with any/everyone they came into contact with. And their living matched their preaching! They legitimately loved one another.

-Let’s jump ahead now a few decades to look at Hebrews.

-Hebrews is thought to be a manuscript of a sermon.

  • Encouraging (Hebrews 10)

-Again, we’re dropping right in the middle of the book here! Really easy to summarize the entire argument leading up to here with 1 phrase: Jesus is better. Better than what? Yes. 

-First 2 chapters are Jesus is better than angels

3-10:18 Jesus is better than the Mosaic Law

-Then after this rich, deep theology of the supremacy of Jesus, the author turns to the application. All theology is practical and meant to be lived out. Because Jesus is the superior high priest and at the same time the superior sacrifice, we then haver confidence.

  1. Through Jesus

-I love the way this book starts “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our father by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Jesus even has the final word!

-Just as theology is applicable, we begin with the theology of the cross and Jesus’ atoning death.

-Used to only enter the holy place 1 a year, and only 1 person with fear and trepidation because Heb. 12:29 “Our God is a consuming fire.” 

-Church, because Jesus has died on our behalf we can have confidence, or boldness to enter into the very presence of God.

-There used to be a curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. That curtain was torn in 2 when Jesus died. That means through Jesus blood covering us, we can draw near to God. 

-One way of putting the whole Bible together is God dwelling with His people. Gen. 1-2 is God perfectly dwelling with Adam & Eve, Gen 3 is so devastating because that dwelling is broken, rest of the Bible is how we can try dwelling again with God. Then God takes on flesh and dwells with us bodily, allowing us sinful people to dwell eternally with God. According to Eph. 2:6 we are already seated with Christ in heaven.

-Because Jesus has sanctified us, we then move on to holding fast.

  • Holding Fast

-what do we hold fast to? “the confession of our hope.”

-This is the same idea we saw earlier where Jesus promises to build His church on Peter’s confession. We have to do the exact same thing as Peter and confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We can’t waver, we can’t look to the right or left, we need to hold fast to this confession.

-We also have the same idea we saw in Amos 9 that we’re supposed to hold on to hope. Our hope is in Jesus himself, so that hope will allow us to endure, or as the text says “he who promised is faithful.” 

-Thankfully our holding fast isn’t up to us! It’s God who remains faithful despite our unfaithfulness.

-After the vertical relationship is dealt with, then we move on to the horizontal relationship. (explain)

  • Together

-In addition to holding fast to our confession, we’re commanded to consider how to stir up (or encourage) one another to love and good works. And how do we do that? By not neglecting to meet together.

-I don’t know if you’ve been feeling this – but I got so tired of worshipping online. Not seeing people’s faces, not talking as we walk in. Not seeing people sing together! 

-Introducing Not For A Moment “You were reaching through the storm Walking on the water even when I could not see in the middle of it all when I thought You were a thousand miles away not for a moment did You forsake me 

After all You are constant After all You are only good After all You are sovereign Not for a moment will You forsake me

-If we hadn’t been meeting together as a group, we wouldn’t have been able to encourage those who were struggling

-We are dependent on each other. There are no lone rangers in Christianity. Rugged individualism (expressive individualism)

-Friend who wanted to go be a hermit. Where is the church?

-The way we encourage each other is by meeting together. Meeting tighter LEADS to encouraging. Think of communion – 1 Cor. 11:17 “WHEN you come together as a church.” 

-I get that this is a weird time to have a sermon about the need to gather, when we’ve been scattered for over a year, some people are still watching online! This is a time where we as the church NEED to be the church. 

-One thing that has fascinated me about the pandemic is every other major disruption in American history, people have turned to the church (attendance swelled after 9/11) This time, people turned to Netflix.

 –Article from Carl Trueman “That’s where community comes in: churches need to build community around clear Christian teaching, serious Christian worship, and practical Christian love.  Done well, those things can grip the imagination because they offer a vision of something better than the thin communities and shallow satisfactions of consumerism. Telling people that the way they live is wrong has no plausibility unless it is set against the background of a vision of something better.”

-South Suburban – we have something better to offer the world – and it begins by us not neglecting to meet together, but instead encouraging each other to live out love and good works. Our gathering is not meant to be a tack on, an addition if you’ve got time that weekend. Our lives are supposed to be lived out, bled out by encouraging each other each and every day until “THE day.”

May 9 Pastoral Prayer

Lord God, it’s good to be gathered here today as your people. We have come to worship You our Lord and our Maker. You are the great King above all gods. You spoke the world into existence – from the depths of the earth to the heights of the mountains; the seas and the dry earth were all formed at Your command. Almighty God, nothing is too difficult for You; nothing escapes Your notice.

But God we know that since that is true, it means that You know everything about us as well. You see our sin. You see the times when we deliberately choose to go our own way. We may fool others. We may even fool ourselves at times, but You see right to our hearts. You see the way we often get so caught up in our own busy lives, our own goals and agendas, that we stray from You. We don’t yield to You what is Your rightful place as Lord of our lives; we don’t seek, first and foremost, Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Please convict us of our sins, reveal our errant ways, remind us of the incomparable and complete sacrifice of Jesus and forgive us just as You have promised to do.

On this special day God we want to thank you for mothers. You are the Giver of Life, and we thank You for the special role that You have given to mothers to conceive and bear children and then to pour their lives into their children. Thank You that mothers can provide such a powerful example of Your tender heart and unconditional love toward us. Please be with the mothers who are here with us today. Give them the wisdom, energy and patience they need for their many daily tasks. I pray too that their children and husbands would show them appreciation and honor for who they are and all they do. God, we recognize as well, that this day may be a time of sorrow for those who have tried but been unable to conceive or those who have suffered miscarriages. Others may have lost a child or feel disconnected from or abandoned by their children. Please wrap them in Your tender love, comfort them with Your peace and let them walk in the hope that comes only from knowing You.

Father, we have seen a lot of change in the past few years. While change, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad, it can be unsettling. We are often tempted to cling to our memories of the past or to become worried or anxious about what tomorrow may bring, but please help us to remember that You are in control and You never change. You are the first and the last; the eternal, unchanging, incorruptible God. Thank You that Your word stands forever and we can rely on Your truth.

I pray Lord that we would rely on Your truth. That we would be changed by it. Call us out from the world around us, renew our minds and transform us. As Your word says, let us put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Let us bear with one another and forgive each other. Teach us to put on love, letting Your peace rule in our hearts, and being thankful. Lord Jesus, let Your word dwell in us in such a powerful way that it is evident to those around us.

Amos 9 Sermon Manuscript

What’s Next?
Amos 9

Note: this are the notes I use to preach from, if you’d like to watch the sermon as I preach it, please visit South Suburban’s YouTube page.

-Big themes we’ve seen: 

-concern for the poor/marginalized must be present in our lives 

-historical events don’t determine our current standing

-all the religious practice in the world doesn’t matter 1 ounce unless it’s wedding to moral living as demonstrated by justice and righteousness.

-Pastor Jeramy covered the last 2 visions of destruction last week, how they’re tied together, this week we’ll just look at the last one and how it connects to our future hope

Norwegian rats were tested once to see how long they could keep swimming. Gave up after 15 minutes. But, if they were pulled out and given time to recover they would make it over 40 hours.

-Having hope is unbelievably important. “Deaths of despair” are on the rise (Deaths from over drinking, drug overdose, or suicide)

-As we reach the end of Amos, we need to be reminded where we place our hope, and it’s not anything here on earth! Our hope is seated in heaven, it’s as secure as the empty grave.

-This is why Paul can remind us in Rom. 5 to “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

READ
PRAY

  1. The Last Destruction (1-10)

-Need some background/historical understanding to get the picture here.

1 Kings 12:25-13:1

-The first Jeroboam (who led the split of Israel) realized his people needed a place of worship to build national unity/identity. Built 2 centers at Bethel and Dan (north and the south) 

-A month after the feast of booths (looked at that in John 7 “I Am the light of the world”), Jeroboam made an alternative festival and system to replace God’s system. 

-Alex Motyer “The whole thing was a counterfeit: a counterfeit feast on a counterfeit altar to prop up a counterfeit monarchy!”

-In response to the first Jeroboam’s counterfeit claims, God sends “a man of God” to call out his sin.

-Just as the first Jeroboam set up a counterfeit claim, and a man of God is sent call out the sin, now in Amos 9, the second Jeroboam has propped up the same counterfeit claim and God sends another “man of God” to deal with his sin. But this time, it’s both Amos and the Lord.

  1. God’s Omnipresence in Destruction (1-6)

-Just as Jeroboam stood beside the altar in 1 Kings 13, here it’s the Lord

-Meaning most likely in Bethel

-This is a unique vision (7-9 are the visions God gives to Amos) other 4 begin “This is what the Lord God showed me” and God asks Amos a question. This time, there’s no exchange between God and Amos.

-All the intercession Amos has done in the past has disappeared. There’s nothing else Amos can do, God is now sharing what will finally happen to His people, the judgment/destruction that God will allow to take place.

-God has extended grace for long enough. This mockery of a worship center is finally going to be addressed!

-capitals are the top of the temple, thresholds are the bottom

merism – uses 2 extremes to refer to the whole thing (remember that, it’ll come up again in the next verse)

-This would take place during an earthquake, 1:1 “two years before the earthquake.” All these ideas we’ve seen before are coming back around!

-The destruction of the temple would fall upon all the people, and anyone who’s left will be killed “with the sword.” 

-Double emphasis “not one.”

-How comprehensive will this destruction be? How will one escape this judgment?

-Another merism in vs. 2.

-Sheol is the place of the dead (under the earth) Irony here is that they going to where they will be going anyway to try to hide! Don’t want to die? Go hide in a grave!

-Climb up to heaven can’t escape God. Does anyone know of another place where we see that idea? That God is everywhere?

Psalm 139:8 “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

-Theme continues in vs. 3

-As Pastor Jeramy mentioned last week, Carmel is the site of a well-known showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Carmel is also one of the highest points in the Israel, and known for its’ thick forests and plethora of caves. 

-Then you’ve got the bottom of the sea! So where vs. 2 emphasized hiding in the spiritual realm, vs. 3 is the physical realm. 

-Again, in vs. 4

-Their captivity will also kill them. Instead of being refining, they will be slaughtered.

-Generally in the OT, God fixing his eyes on them was good! He would deal with their problems. In the Exodus, when God “hears the cries of his people in slavery” when he sends Moses. In this instance, his judgment is falling on them.

-Let’s think of a similar passage, but from the other side of this, that many of us know!

Rom. 8:38-9 “for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-We, or at least I, often go to this verse as a good reminder of my standing before God. But if it’s true of God’s love, it’s also true of God’s perfect justice/judgment 

-Just as we can’t escape God’s love, we can’t escape God’s wrath. Our sin will be dealt with, casting it as far as the east is from the west (i.e. eternal) but our sin still has to be dealt with. All sin leads to death, and thankfully someone died in our place so that our sin now has an expiration date.

-Vs. 5-6 are thought of as a doxological hymn. Begins with a militaristic title “God of hosts.” Then lists out all the ways God’s ways are beyond ours.

-Think of it like this: both my grandparents were farmers in North Dakota. Integral to farming is water. When you drive through the countryside you see random ditches filled with water, pumps, sprinklers all that. We can direct the water in various places, God can call the water out from nothing. He can build a beach and destroy with a single word. God’s power is unstoppable and uncontainable, all we can do is worship Him. 

-Which is how the hymn ends: “The Lord is his name.” We’ve seen that before! 4:135:8. All 3 instances are praise to God as the Creator of everything. We must respond in worship to this God!

-Idea then shifts to God’s people, up to this point, no escaping the judgment.

  • The Shaking of God’s People (7-10)

-One of the most striking features of God’s people throughout history has been God’s unique relationship, care, and concern for them. Israel should have been wiped out by the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, the early church should never have gained any traction in the first century!

-Christians were called atheists because they “only” worshipped 1 God, a humiliated carpenter.

-This thinking has led to an elitist mindset among God’s people in Amos’ day. They thought that since God had always provided for them in the past, no matter what happened in the future the same thing would be true! 

-God always keeps His promises, He’s promised to bless His people beginning with Father Abraham all the way back in Gen. 12

-Then comes vs. 7.

-God begins by comparing Israel to the Cushites/Ethiopians. NET- “you Israelites are just like the Ethiopians in my sight.” 

-group of people that lived south of Egypt, another way of saying the ends of the known earth. Israel is really the prime plot of land in ANE, everyone had to go through Israel to get anywhere else, part of the reason the land is so treasured by so many different people groups, even today! 

-Israelites had been depending on the fact that they were God’s “chosen nation” and neglected to pursue justice and righteousness in their lives today. Because they were neglecting current moral/ethical living, God viewed them exactly the same as he viewed the people living at the ends of the earth: the Cushites.

-But he also attacks the single greatest/most memorable event in Israel’s history: the exodus.

-So many references in this book point back to the events of the Exodos, Passover, Nile. That is the moment when God’s people claimed their own rightful place, and the nasty oppressing Egyptians were plundered, both in the Passover and in the Red Sea.

-But God was also behind the exodus of other people groups: specifically the Philistines and the Syrians, 2 of Israel’s bitter enemies. 

-I listened to a really interesting podcast this week where John Walton (OT Prof at Wheaton) addresses apocalyptic literature (Revelation & Daniel) and talks about prophecy not being the best term, because God being sovereign means He’s just telling people what He’s going to do!

-And since God is sovereign, He even rules over the affairs of nations that don’t contain His “chosen people.” Even some nations that are their enemies. 

-Finally get some good news at the end of vs. 8. While previously no one escaped the incoming judgment, now God says that He will not “utterly destroy” them. That’s a relief!

-But there will still be some kind of judgment. 

-There will be some sort of shaking out taking place.

-Colander example.

-God will weed people out, think of Matt. 13, the parable of the weeds growing up with the wheat. At the end of the day the wheat will be separated from the weeds.

-This shaking out will result in the death of all the sinners of His people, those who think they will never see or taste disaster.

-Similar to John the Baptist’s ministry in Matthew 8:7-10. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

-Just as the people in Amos’ day thought they were fine because of their heritage, so people in John/Jesus’ day thought they were fine. 

-Martin Luther’s 95 Theses began “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

-It’s also true today! Growing up in America doesn’t make you a Christian. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Being baptized doesn’t make you a Christian. Instead, what we’re commanded to do is “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Are you bearing that fruit?

-Throughout this book we’ve seen the fruit of what’s coming. Because people are being used and abused, because people are not being obedient to worship God rightly, because they are presuming upon God’s mercy, they will be severely judged. But that’s not the end of the story.

-This is where we need to know about our sin before we can get to the good news of the gospel message! Most people think they’re not actually that bad, and until you realize how bad you really are, you’ll never realize your need for a Savior!

-Expressive individualism is the predominant theme today. Summed up as “you be you” or “be true to yourself.” Or “My truth.” So what do we do when our expressive individualism runs into contradiction with someone else’s expression of their individualism? Our culture today says “Cancel!” Christ says “confess.” Then when we’ve confessed our need to stop pursuing our own individualistic expressions, then we can have life, and life abundantly.

-What does that look like?

  • Everything is Restored (11-15)

-Significant shift between vs. 10-11. We go from lots of destruction to “in that day” and a long list of really good things happening, just as Amos is prone to do, it’s 5 things: the king, the nations, the earth, the people, and the land.

-First, the king. God raises up “the booth of David that is fallen.” 

-Weird phrase, generally the house of David. Could be referring to the fake “feast of booths” that Jeroboam enacted back in 1 Kings 12.

-In the feast of booths, the king acted out his mediating role between God and the people, so once again God’s people would have a king like David who perfectly mediated on their behalf. That which David overseers would be repairs, raised up, and rebuilt, that is everything will be restored! 

-Second, the nations.

-The Messianic hope is not just for Israel, but for everyone. Edom here is standing in for all peoples. The remaining remnant (after the shaking out we saw in vs. 9) will join with God’s people.

-Think of God’s promise to Abraham in Gen. 12:3 “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God’s plan has always been to bless the entire world! We’re not on plan B, C, D, everything that’s going on is part of God’s plan A.

-When does this happen? James (Jesus’ half-brother) actually quotes this in Acts 15:16-17 as a reminder to the early Apostles that it has been God’s plan from eternity past to bring all nations to himself! 

-Third, the earth.

-Where previously the earth has been stricken by famine, locusts, now the earth will produce in abundance.

-First the plowman will overtake the reaper. That is, those who are prepping next year’s seeds will run into the people who are still taking out last year’s crops. They’ll be so bountiful they won’t be able to harvest it all!

-Then the treader of grapes will overtake the one who seeds it. Grapes were used to make wine, people would tread, step on, the grapes to get the juice out. In this case, the time from seeding to harvesting is so small, the planters won’t be able to keep ahead of the growing grapes. Could you imagine dropping a seed in the ground, and instantly it’s producing fruit? 

-But that’s not all! The grapes will be so productive that the mountains and hills will be overrun with their wine! Those are some productive grapes!

-This is the culmination of what we see in Romans 8:20-21 that an implication of the Fall is that even the creation was broken. The planting and harvesting that was supposed to be easy now takes work! The soil that should have been easy to till is now filled with rocks and clay.

-Fourth, the people.

-This is picking up a theme we say in 5:11 where the people would build houses but NOT dwell in then, and plant vineyards but NOT drink the wine because of their transgressions.

-This time, everything they work for will bear fruit!

-Lastly, the land.

-The land from which they would be led out in exile would be returned to them. And this time they’ll possess it forever!

-These passages are in the Bible to point us to where we’re commanded to place our hope. Heb. 6:19 “we have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.”

-As I mentioned before, it seems that people either fixate or forget about the end times, but God has called us to do neither! God has called us to use the hope of our future home as the motivation for faithful living today. We can’t change the past or the future, but we can (and must) be faithful today.

-We also need this reminder in the midst of our suffering/difficulty. Think of some of our brothers and sisters in the faith living in a place like India right now. Or China. Or North Korea. Or Iran. When they come read a passage like this it gives them the motivation they need to remember that this world is not our home. As they face the daily threat of loss of home, of job, even of life, they can place their hope that death isn’t the end.

-But we need that reminder too, because I think we’re often too ready/willing to plant ourselves firmly here in the midst of our comforts and earthly possessions instead of living to see God’s kingdom come and His will be done right here and now, just like it’s being done in heaven.

-And that’s the tension we currently live in! God has tasked us with caring for his creation here and now, but not to put our entire hope/confidence in it. That’s where we get busy loving and caring for the people God places in our life and in our body, the church, so that we can together see God honored and glorified as we do our best to remain faithful each and every day until that day when Jesus comes back.

-Just as I read at the beginning, I’m going to end reading Rom. 5 “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”