Amos 6 Sermon Manuscript

Lasting Justice and Righteousness

Amos 5:18-6:14

NOTE: This is the manuscript I use to preach from, which means somethings will not make sense unless you listen to the message itself. If you’d like to listen to that message, please click HERE.

-Looking in depth at justice last week, not going to dive in again. Summary: biblical justice is marked by: radical generosity, complete equality of person, special concern/care for the poor and marginalized, both corporate and individual responsibility.

-So often we think of justice as something we do “out there” and not affecting what we do “in here” We divorce our Sunday mornings from the rest of our week, but what we’re going to see today is the way we pursue justice will directly connect to our worship on Sunday morning

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  1. Let Justice Roll (18-27)

-Woes begin here. That is, sorrow will be coming because judgment is coming

-Think of Jesus “woe to your scribes and Pharisees, you tithe your mint and cumin, but you neglect the weightier matters of the Law”

“Both notions (justice and righteousness) are wrapped up in Yahweh’s character and moral order, which were to be the foundations for the relational ethos, the social behavior, and the political, legal, and socioeconomic structures of the community. The leaders – in particular the king – were to embody these qualities and habits. This is why they are singled out for special judgment in Amos and throughout the prophetic literature.” (Carrol, NIV Study Bible, 307)

  1. The Day of the Lord (18-20)

-First woe is reserved for those who desire (crave) the day of the Lord.

-This is a theme throughout Israel’s history. If things get tough, just remember God will judge our enemies!

-There’s an element to that that’s true, right? 

-Think of a place like Deut. 32:36 “For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.”

Acts 1:6 “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

-I pray regularly, “God please come soon.” Early church prayed “maranatha” 

-So why would God condemn them for their craving of this time when that’s a theme throughout the Bible and history?

-Because their fascination/fixation on the future led them to disregard their holiness in the presence. Does that sound like anyone you might know?

-Story working in college at a church who GUARANTEED Jesus was coming back in the pastor’s lifetime, so take on a bunch of debt.

-Guy from a previous church who “cracked the code” through astrology and was able to tell you the EXACT date Jesus is returning. Didn’t like it when I told him that “secret codes” and “hidden knowledge” is called Gnosticism and was labeled a heresy in the 4th century.

-There are 2 issues related to eschatology we need to be careful to avoid (define eschatology)

-Get’s tricky quickly, you’ve got historical premil, dispensational premil, amil, postmil, pretrib, postrib, midtrib, then you’ve got the person who say’s they’re panmil, we’ll see how it all pans out. Recommend The Future of Everything or Systematic Theology.

-Millard Erickson, Christian Theology “there is intensive preoccupation with eschatology…eschatomania. The opposite might be called eschatophobia. Somewhere between the two extremes of preococupation with and avoidance of eschatology, we must take our stance. For eschatology is neither in unimportant and optional topic, nor the sole subject of significance and interest to the Christian.” (1058-9)

-Don’t forget 1 Peter 4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

-These people – these leaders of Israel are so preoccupied with the future (eschatomania) they’re neglecting to live holy lives today. Church, let that not be true of us! 

(Erickson, 1059) “after describing the second coming and assuring his readers of its certainty, he councils, “therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). It is sometimes easy to forget that the eschatological truths in God’s word, like the rest of his revelation, our intended to comfort and assure us.” 

-Amos next uses a really funny example of “The day of the Lord” will look like

-Anyone ever watch the 3 stooges, or Mr Bean, or enjoy slapstick humor like that? That’s the exact picture Amos paints here!

-Imagine Larry, Curly, and Moe stumbling across a wild Lion, so they immediately turn and run away, yet in their haste to get away from the lion they’re not paying attention to where they’re running so they run straight into the side of a giant bear! They finally escape from the clutches of the bear, sprint into their house, slam the door, lock it, winded they lean up against the wall to catch their breath and their bitten by a snake! They can’t catch a break!

-And why is it this way? Why is “The day of the Lord” judgment and not celebration?

  1. Unacceptable Worship (21-23)

-If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am unbelievably passionate about worship. I think one of the primary ways we should be reading the Bible is through the lens of worship. Gen. 1 is meant to instill worship in all of us for the sovereign creator God, and Rev. 22 ends with the reminder that Jesus is coming soon where we’ll finally worship perfectly, then everything in between is how we worship God acceptably, with TONS of reasons historically and theologically.

-God begins “I hate” look back up at vs. 10. While His people hate those who bring about true/lasting justice, God hates their worship. 

-So why is God rejecting the worship of his people? This is a wholesale rejection of everything his people are trying to do. Look at the senses God uses. 

-Smell in vs. 21

-Sight in vs. 22

-Sound in vs. 23

-What exactly is it that makes God “hate” the worship of his people? Look at the next vs.

  1. Justice and Righteousness (24)

-Instead of fixating on the future, or offering up their plentiful acts of worship, God commands them to pursue justice and righteousness. We talked at great length about justice last week, what about righteousness?

-2 aspects to righteousness, God’s righteousness and our righteousness.

-Concept of being in right standing morally, ethically, spiritually, etc. But also has the idea of right living in the here and now.

-Read Rom. 3:21-26 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

-Law pointed to God’s righteousness, part of why the worship was called out is because it wasn’t connected to righteous living. 

-The way we can be righteous today is by putting our faith in Jesus

-That’s where we can connect the dots between justice & righteousness in our daily lives. Paul will go on to say we’re either slaves to sin or to righteousness, but if we’re slaves to righteousness it leads us to pursue biblical/lasting justice in every sphere of life.

-Our world has disconnected these 2 concepts: justice AND righteousness. Our world wants justice APART from righteousness, but you can’t have 1 without the other.

-Kingdom without the king.

-The idea of righteousness & justice is supposed to flow out in every area of our lives in overwhelming abundance, like waters & an ever-flowing stream.

-Compare to a wadi – water comes in small doses then leaves

-We as Christians are so tempted by our world to operate using the world’s ideas/patterns of thought. We’re trained to think in these bipolar/partisan ways where everything is either Republican OR Democrat, but God calls us out of that way of thinking INTO a whole new way of life. His kingdom is NOT of this world, his patterns of life, of growth, of holiness cannot be built on the foundation of what the world offers us. Jesus calls us to a brand new way of operating, and he does it by drawing us into a family. 

-Last week I talked about both the corporate and individual responsibility we have to live out a justice life, but one piece I didn’t bring up was the way the reciprocal is true in salvation. 

-Remember, the primary or strongest responsibility we have before the Lord is individual, we’re not off the hook for corporate sins/issues

-But in salvation we’re saved individually, and only by being a part of the corporate are we then saved through Jesus’ atoning blood and sacrifice

-Remember from 1 Peter 2:10 “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

-As God’s people, the church, we now have to look to bring about justice & righteousness wherever we find ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to be a part of a local church – we’re not lone ranger Christians, we’re called to a place AND A COMMUNITY for a reason! We need to demonstrate Christ’s love to the watching world, and then see God work in us and through us for his glory. Otherwise: 

  1. Exile (25-27)

-Just their worship previously was rejected by God, God brings it up again.

-Some debate here as to what God means. It’s a rhetorical question, but do we answer “no” or “yes”? If no, then what about all the instances where the Israelites DO offer sacrifices? If yes, then what is God’s point? 

-Most likely (and my opinion) is God is connecting it to justice & righteousness. The people’s worship (sacrifices & offerings) WAS connected to their justice & righteousness. AND it shows us that the right rituals were not the primary point. 

-Think of a place like John 4, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well and reminds her that a time is coming where worship will not longer be dependent on location – instead God’s people will worship 24/7/365.

-But this isn’t just a NT idea, in 1 Sam. 15:22 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

-But look at what they’re doing with their worship now in vs. 26. These are Mesopotamian gods that the people have assimilated into their worship of Yahweh. So even if their feasts, assemblies, offerings, and songs were accepted by God, they were ALSO worshipping these other gods. 

-Don’t we have a tendency to do the same? We only “worship” if it’s the songs I like, the preacher I like who agrees with all the same things I agree with, the translation of the Bible I like, wearing the clothes I like in the room that is decorated up to my standards.

-I have a friend who is a Pastor at a church where they don’t do any of the songs he likes. Isn’t that a better opportunity to worship than if it’s just the songs you like?

-Because the people are fixating on the future, are worshipping both unacceptably AND the wrong gods, God, the God of hosts, who can defeat all these other tiny little gods, will send them into exile

  1. Woes of Complacency (6:1-14)

-Just as the leadership has been previously called out, the leadership is going to be called out once again.

-Remember these people were waiting for the “day of the Lord” to come, they were in the midst of a good economic season, so they felt like everything was going to be just fine

  1. Look at the Nations (1-3)

-These people acted as if they were the best people in the world! They were the best nation, they had wealth, they had prosperity, but as we’ve been seeing throughout this section instead of utilizing their wealth to serve others, it was to pack their own houses

-In vs. 2, God basically tells them to look at all the nations from the N to the S, nations that once were prosperous and had tons of land, but had been beaten into submission and now were tiny nations compared to Israel

-Then, vs. 3, weird idea that they are assuming the “day of disaster” is a long time away. Everything’s fine so party hard! But because they assume that it’s far off they can do whatever they want, or in this case “bring near the seat of violence.”

-How many people today live this way? According to a 2019 Experian review, the average American carries $6,194 of credit card debt. That is putting off the day of disaster, discontent to live within the means and times we’ve been given. Now – being in debt is not inherently sinful, so if you need financial help, we’ve got a class for you right now!

-The second half of this verse gets to how these people were not living enacting true and lasting justice in their current context. They were so fixated on the future they neglected to care for those nearby.

  1. Woe to the Wealthy (4-7)

-God then moves on to a second woe, this time explicitly focused on the wealthy.

-Look at all these descriptions:

-lie on beds of ivory – yes, that is a 4 post EXPENSIVE bed

-stretch on their couches – spread themselves out lazily

-eat lambs and calves – while the rest of the nation is given to “cleanness of teeth” the wealthy are eating the finest meats

-sing idle/lazy songs – they comparing their lazily written songs to David

-drink wine in bowls – wine isn’t cheap, and they drink it by the bowl full1
-Anoint with finest oils – just as wine isn’t cheap, neither is oils! Ever been to bath & body works? 

-They have all these riches, their excess is clearly demonstrated, but they don’t give a rip about the destruction taking place around them. 2 options for the last line of vs. 6: either ignoring the societal ruin God has brought around them, or they’re ignoring the incoming judgment 

-Yet those who think they’re hot stuff, always tooting their own horns and neglecting to care for those nearby them will be the first ones to be taken away into exile.

-Jer. 9:23-24 “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

  1. God’s Judgment (8-14)

-God won’t mess around. He’s willing to deal with his people in a destructive way. Because his people are prideful, God says he hates it, and will therefore destroy the city.

-Vs. 9-10 are a little bit weird. A house has been destroyed, relatives are searching for bodies to deal with. One asks if there’s anyone still in the house, the other says no, then one replies “Silence! We must not mention the name of the Lord!” A few options:

-First is fear of mentioning God’s name will bring more judgment

-Second is worry that if he uses God’s names as a curse he will be judged

-Another is there’s no reason to cry out to God anymore, they’re all dead. 

-I’ll let you pick whichever one you like best!

-Vs. 11 gives us another description of the destruction, both great houses and little houses will face ruin.

-Then we end up with some more word play and slapstick humor in 12-13

-First, do horses run on rocks? Ever seen a horse race? Are there big boulders for them to run through? No! Hooves would be destroyed!

-Second, many scholars break these Hebrew words out a little differently and end up with the phrase “Does one plow the sea with oxen?” Has anyone here been to the beach? Dig a trench and what happens? Yeah, immediately covered. Not to mention if you did find a way to plow then you’re using salt water to try to grow crops. Not a great combo!

-Just as ridiculous to try having horses run on rocks or plow the sea with oxen, is what the people are doing with justice and righteousness. Remember, we saw wormwood pop up last week in 5:7

-But these people are so prideful that they continue boasting!

-Lo-debar is a city, but it literally means no-thing! So they rejoice that they have captured “nothing!” Ever been to the Grand Canyon? Or see mountains? Or the northern lights? Some amazing feature God has made. Push ups.

-Then they think they captured Karnaim by themselves. Karnaim is an allusion to horns which stands for strength throughout the OT. But their boasting leads to the last verse:

-As they boast in their strength, God is working behind the scenes to destroy them. The 2 places listed refer to the northernmost part to the southernmost part of Jeroboam’s kingdom. 

-We saw today that we cannot divorce our weekly living from our Sunday morning worship, otherwise God will not be pleased with the way we’re worshipping Him, and we’ll be tempted to think we’ve accomplished what we have in our own strength and ways instead of realizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from a good, holy Sovereign creator!

What I was listening to this week, this song was playing in the background of my mind as I wrote this week’s message, and also played on repeat during the long drive in Indianapolis and back!

Sermon Notes on Amos 5

Let Justice and Righteousness Flow

Amos 5

One note, this is just the manuscript I used to preach from, meaning there may be some making context below. If you’d like to listen to the message, please check it out here.

-Examples of justice. We all long for it in every area of our lives. Think of your favorite movies: the little guy finally beating the big bully and getting his justice. The Mighty Ducks get revenge on the Hawks. Marty McFly gets the best of Buff.

Louie Zamperini Unbroken

John Perkins Let Justice Roll Down.

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  1. The Lord is His Name (1-17)

-I realize it’s been a couple weeks since we were last in Amos, so quick catch up:

 -Amos 1, 2 the surrounding nations and God’s people have not been living right, so God will bring a judgment upon them

-Amos 3 more sins of Israel, lion coming upon them

-Amos 4 their false worship and all the ways the people are not returning to God, towards the end “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” then “the Lord, the God of hosts is his name”

-Chapter 5 reverts back to oracles against Israel

  1. The Decimation of Israel (1-3)

-Remember, last chapter God listed 5 plagues he’d brought, yet they did not return to Him, this is picking up that theme about what it’s going to look like now as He passes out his judgment

-This judgment is not doled out callously, this is a dirge God is singing. One translation said this is a grave song, a minor key, said with much mourning.

-Israel is pictured as a young lady

-Where there used to be someone to help (God) He’s no longer there, forsaken

-It will be so bad, their forces will be reduced by 90%

-Those aren’t great odds – that’s like UCLA, the 11 seed beating Gonzaga, the 1 seed of the whole tournament 

-So how will God’s people respond to this judgment? Is it utterly hopeless?

-Thankfully, whenever God’s involved, there’s always hope!

  • Seek God and Live (4-13)

-If, and only if, the people will seek the Lord, then they will live, instead of being decimated.

-So what does it mean to seek the Lord? The rest of these verses are an explanation of what that will look like, but I’ll give you a spoiler: to care about justice. We’ll talk about justice in just a bit, after we finish walking through this section, so if you want to sleep for a minute, do it now!

-Second time these cultic centers have come up

4:4 “Come to Bethel and transgress, to Gilgal, and multiply transgression.”

-This time God is calling out their sin. Instead of encouraging them to visit these places to continue in their sin, this time he’s saying if the people REALLY want to live, if they want to worship acceptably, they need to seek Him instead of going to these centers. 

-Also through Beersheba in southern part of Judah. Place where Abraham lived, and where Jacob received God’s blessing and built an altar.

-Places are all the wrong ones, remember back to 1:2 “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem.”

-The people keep going back to what they know and are accustomed to, and this whole time God is saying “I’m over here! Come back to me! Stop running away!”

-If any of you have dogs you’ve experienced this. Anytime they get a taste of freedom they’re gone! I have countless memories growing up after a dog had gotten out with treats trying to entice my dog to come back. In the same way, God is trying to entice His people to come back to Him. And why?

-All these places are on the chopping block. Gilgal will be sent into exile, Bethel will be destroyed 

-Gilgal into exile is a play on words, Hebrew galah is go into exile

-Pointing out the irony of looking to a place that sounds like exile as your source of hope and confidence

-Instead of finding their comfort & hope in various cultic centers, God again says “Seek ME if you want to live” 

-If they do not seek God, it’s repeated that he will destroy Joseph (head of all of Israel), anyone that would normally be able to help is gone.

-Then we get the first glimpse of the primary problem God is calling his people out for in vs. 7. Justice and righteousness is not being demonstrated by His people (again, we’ll dig further into this in a bit)

-The reason God is not accepting His people’s attempts to seek Him are because they are not actively living out justice and righteousness.

-Justice is being treated like wormwood, an unbelievably bitter plant. Anyone ever try to do a warhead challenge as they were growing up? 

-Righteousness cast down to the earth. Remember back in 2:7 “trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth.” Not just the poor that are being trampled, the whole idea of righteousness is treated just a poorly as they’re treating the poor

-Focus then shifts back onto God

-Don’t forget, Israel’s God created the stars! He causes the sun to rise day by day, time passes through His hands. He also controls the rain that waters the earth. That’s who these people are messing with! Yahweh is His name.

-One of the features of Hebrew writing is using chiasm to create focal points. Think of it like a funnel, 2 equal points on each side that parallel each other leading into the primary point of the section. In all of vs. 1-17 the chiastic center is “The Lord is his name.” then everything else is something related to that theme

-Everything that we just studied will come up as a theme again as we continue in this section.

-Just as vs. 8 showed us Yahweh’s power, so 9 shows us God’s power again. Nothing can stand against God!

-Then, just as vs 7 was an accusation against Israel, 10-13 are an accusation against the powerful. 

-One note, the gate was the entrance to the city, patriarchs would gather there in the cool of the shade, people would bring cases to them to hear their verdicts. So when you read gate in many of the prophets, should think a court of law

-MSG “people hate this kind of talk, raw truth is never popular”

-Similar to the injunctions in Chpt. 2, poor are being used and abused

-They’ve extracted from them to build their houses and vineyards, but won’t get the reap the fruit of what they’ve built.

-Isn’t that rough? All the planning, hard word, execution, to not enjoy it? There’s good examples of this throughout history – basically every major movement in Christianity being traced back to a tiny group of believers who committed to pray together regularly for the good of their community. Sometimes not seeing the fruit of that until a century AFTER that entire group had died. Are you willing to do that kind of work today?

-We then see the same 2 words that appeared back in 7 in 12 “you who afflict righteousness, who take a bribe, and (CSB) deprive the poor of justice” See how this is a theme throughout this chapter?

  • Seek Good (14-17)

-Just as they were exhorted to seek God in the previous section, so here they’re exhorted to seek GOOD. So to seek God is equivalent to seeking good. How do you do that? Vs. 15 tells us: “hate evil and love good.” 

-Remember, I said 2 weeks ago when the love idea first came up in 4:4 all the fake offerings/worship they tried to do were called out, and they LOVED to openly commit these transgressions, these sins. Here is the alternative, instead of loving sin, love good, and not evil. That’s how God will be with you! And you do this by establishing justice in the gate – in the courts of law.

-Then, to conclude the chiasm, is the last lamenting for Israel in 16-17. People will be wiling, because the Lord will pass through their midst. That would have caused their minds to go back to an earlier moment when the Lord passed through their midst during the Passover in Ex. 12:12. When God comes, judgment comes with him.

Excurses: What is justice?

-Been alluding to this idea/topic pretty much since the first week we started studying this book, and here we now get to deal with it! What does biblical justice look like?

-Let’s keep this in perspective, has anyone heard of Calvinism or Arminianism? How about infant baptism or believer’s baptism? How about sacraments vs ordinances? Or a more recent example do we sing modern songs or only songs written over 100 years ago? Today one of the most hotly debated issues is over justice.

-Brief history of where we’ve run into problems. We viewed justice primarily from a social/horizontal lens. So social justice became THE primary means of whether or not one was a Christian. Ran into problems because it was quickly divorced from robust theology. I remember “social justice week” at my rich, Christian school. People would sleep in tents outside, eat only rice & beans, and then go back to their nice comfy dorm rooms for showers, homework, etc. Does that really make a difference?

-2 wings of a plane, faith & works. James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? …faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

-It’s not works to get faith, “it is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.” Calvin

-Before we dig in, a couple notes/caveats to keep in mind

-Tendency today to take anything that’s said politically, we as Christians need to do a better job of not viewing everything exclusively through a partisan lens.

-We need to do a better job of listening James 1:19 “be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry” Our cultural climate today boasts in the opposite: quick to speak, quick to become angry, and if there’s silence just start yelling about something being a justice issue. 

-Here’s where it gets tricky: because of that climate we’ve become conditioned to quickly jump to conclusions about things, we already have our responses formed before the person has even gotten their first word out. We’ve become conditioned to respond to the news with incredulity. We maybe believe about 5% of what the news tells us, so we inherently assume a position of suspicion, and continue in the suspicion until it’s proven to be right beyond a shadow of a doubt. Watch The Social Dilemma

-Then where it gets REALLY difficult is when we bring that same level of suspicion into the church, where we’re supposed to be a family who loves each other unconditionally. So instead of assuming motives of people, or jumping to conclusions about what they REALLY mean, ask questions to try to make sure you know what is really being said.

-While I know I’m still new here, God has called me to come preach the Word here every week to you, and I take that responsibility VERY seriously! I try VERY hard to not let it just be my words that I’m saying, but is an opportunity for us to hear from God Himself.

-So because it’s not my words that I’m saying, there are going to be things that challenge, convict, and at times even shock us, because last time I checked none of us are perfect, so there will always be ways in which we’re not measuring up to God’s perfect standard.

-That being said, I’m human, so I will make mistakes, I’ll misspeak, I do my best to not do that, but I talk a lot, so if/when something rubs you the wrong way, instead of jumping to conclusions, PLEASE come talk to me! I promise I don’t bite, and I’m operating with a certain dictionary that I know. EXPLAIN

-Using Tim Keller’s 4 articles on biblical justice

-The world tries to define justice from the wrong starting point. Basically, since the Enlightenment, people have been viewed as islands unto themselves. You enter the world as a blank slate, and then make the best of the circumstances you’re given.

-So what’s the problem with them?

-Sin. Rom. 3:23 “all have sinned and fallen short.” We don’t start with a blank slate.

-What experience and history show is sins tend to be passed down generationally along family lines. Example, anger. 

-Gross oversimplification of the heart of these issues, one side views the problem as exclusively an individual problem, the other side views it as exclusively a corporate problem. Then you’ve got others anywhere between those 2 extremes.

-Then the proposal to get justice comes at it from those 2 extremes

-1 says people just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps

-Other says we need to enact laws/policies to address the injustice around us

-So what does the Bible say about justice? 

-Bible says justice isn’t built on either individuals or societal evils, instead it is based in the very character of God, who is both just and the justifier (Rom 3:26) This is another area the world misses – what happens when someone “sins”? Today they’re simply cancelled. Think of JK Rowling. This past week it’s been happening to Jeff Bezos.

-God’s justice is both retributive and reparative. Punishes evildoers, and restores those who are victims when injustice reigns supreme.

-Because acting justly is rooted in God’s character (and we as His people are commanded to be like Him) there are 4 key aspects to biblical justice that we are to realize: radical generosity, universal equality, concern for the poor & marginalized, responsibility individually and corporately

1. Radical Generosity

-World says either your money is yours, or your money belongs to the state. God says your money is His, and he entrusts it to you (1 Cor. 4:7 “what do you have that you did not receive?”)

-Mosaic law talked about theft always being wrong, yet every 7 years debts were all cancelled, every 50 years land went back to original landowner

-Also forbid landowners from harvesting all the way to the edge of their field so that the poor could glean food from their labor (Lev. 19, Deut. 24)

-Most striking passage is Acts 2:45 “They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Not socialism (willingly selling possessions) but not completely libertarian either (distributing proceeds to all)

-Bruce Waltke “The righteous are willing to disadvantage themselves to the advantage of the community; the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves.” 

Ezek. 18:5Job 29Isaiah 1, Luke 12 all talk about the need to be radically generous with the resources God entrusts to you. Unlike the world, which says this is only a horizontal/social issue, the Bible says this is primarily a vertical/God issue

2. Universal Equality

-You cannot get to everyone needing to be treated apart from a biblical worldview, there’s just no way. We’re too different! 

-Aristotle said some races and nationalities deserved to be slaves.

Prov. 22:2 “Rich and poor and this in common: the Lord is the Maker of them all.”

-Jesus treated everyone with dignity, even sinners and Samaritans

3. Concern for the Poor & Marginalized 

-While we treat everyone with dignity, we’re to have a special concern for the poor, weak, and powerless. 

-Think of James 1:27 “religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep unself unstained from the world.” 

-Notice 2 things: not “It’s not a religion it’s a relationship” 

-Keep unself unstained = holiness/sanctification 

-Jesus, when John the Baptist asks if he’s the one “the poor have good news preached to them.” 

-God always goes to the poor/marginalized, Jesus came poor & marginalized

Gal. 6:10 “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

4. Both Corporate and Individual Responsibility 

Joshua 7 – the sin of Achan, whole family died for his sin. Paul blames those who lived in Jerusalem and their rulers for crucifying Jesus in Acts 13:27

-Or think of the nations in Amos 1-2. Not all sins they committed, but they’re still held responsible/culpable. 

-but ultimately, we are individually responsible for our sins, think of Acts 16:31 “what must I do to be saved?” 

-Individually we all must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. We can’t depend on the faith of your grandparents, you won’t be saved by walking into the church, you need to believe. Then when you believe you can start enacting biblical justice.

-So there are both corporate and individual dimensions, but individual is the strongest

(Timothy Keller, Generous Justice)  – “We do justice when we give all human beings their due as creations of God. Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but generosity and social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable. This kind of life reflects the character of God. It consists of a broad range of activities, from simple fair and honest dealings with people in daily life, to regular, radically generous giving of your time and resources, to activism that seeks to end particular forms of injustice, violence, and oppression.” 

-All of this starts with the us in the church. Even though we may disagree on some of our approach to policies and procedures, we need to be able to talk about these issues, otherwise our world will never see a faithful example of what they should be aiming for in relation to justice, and it begins with us, we need to start having conversations here with each other. 

-As I was thinking/praying through this idea this past week, I was struck with where/how I spend my money. I like Amazon, it’s fast, easy and cheap. Should I be buying things for the convenience factor?

(John Perkins, Let Justice Roll Down) – “This Jesus, this One who had brought good news directly from God in heaven, had lived what He preached. Yet He was arrested and falsely accused. Like me, He went through an unjust trial. He also faced a lynch mob and got beaten. But even more than that, He was nailed to rough wooden planks and killed. Killed like a common criminal. At the crucial moment, it seemed to Jesus that even God Himself had deserted Him. The suffering was so great, He cried out in agony. He was dying. But when He looked at that mob that had lynched Him, He didn’t hate them. He loved them. He forgave them. And He prayed God to forgive them. “Father, forgive these people, for they don’t know what they are doing.” His enemies hated. But Jesus forgave.” 

-We’ll get to the rest of this section next week, and see how justice ties into righteousness. But as you leave this week, be thinking/praying about what it looks like for you to live out God’s command to pursue justice through: radical generosity, universal equality, concern for the poor & marginalized, responsibility individually and corporately

Music for EFCA Theology Conference 2021

I’m looking forward to leading the music for this year’s EFCA Theology Conference! While I’m sad we won’t be in person (there’s something fun about joining with 400 pastors from across the country to sing LOUDLY together!), I’m thankful that we can continue meeting and singing despite a pandemic preventing us from all being in the same place. I try to use this conference to equip pastors with a couple ideas. First, that you don’t need a giant band every week. We can sing praises to God with just a piano and our voices, and sometimes just our voices! Second, I hope to gives pastors some ideas of songs (old and new) they can take home and teach to their congregations that are biblical true, easy to sing, catchy melodies, and will help move the head knowledge to a heart knowledge where we can take the things we’re learning and apply them to our lives. This year, I thought I would add links to where all the music can be found.

All Creatures of Our God and King

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery (Praisecharts)

Speak, O Lord (Praisecharts)

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death (Praisecharts)

Jesus, Strong and Kind

Only a Holy God

King Of Kings (Praisecharts)

He Leadeth Me

Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right

Yes I Will (Praisecharts)

I’ve also compiled on these songs on a Spotify playlist that you can find HERE. Because of the theme of this year’s conference, I’ve also put together an additional playlist that is various musical interpretations of various Psalms, which you can find HERE.

Resources That Disciple Me

This past Sunday I preached on what we let disciple us, and shared a suggestion from Brett McCracken on the Wisdom Pyramid. It’s a helpful guide on what we consume and allow to shape us. I also share the various podcasts I listen to, and the books and music I’ve been enjoying the past week! Here’s the whole list:

Podcasts:

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols does brief historical ideas/stories

Bible Talk – 3 professors/pastors walk through the Bible, 15 episodes in haven’t even finished Gen!

BreakPoint – John Stonestreet, director of the Colson Center, news

The Briefing – Al Mohler, president of SBTS does daily news analysis from a Christian perspective. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s is unbelievably insightful.

Credo Podcast – prof. from MBTS on theology

Cultivated: A podcast about faith and work – Mike Cosper interview Christians 

Doxology & Theology – prof. from SBTS on how to better worship God

EFCA Theology Podcast – my dad does it so I have to listen

Every Square Inch Podcast – HIGHLY recommend. He’s insightful, articulate, careful, and pastoral

For the Church – Jared Wilson, author and speaker

Freakonomics – non-believer looking at some of the ways the world works

Gospelbound – Collin Hansen, part of TGC interviews various people about how to live a Christian life

The Happy Rant – a friend of mine, like to joke a lot

The Holy Post – Phil Vischer (Veggie Tales) Skeye Jethani (former editor of CT) discuss current issues

Like and Books and Everything – Kevin DeYoung, Collin Hansen, Justin Taylor talk about what it says!

Pastor Well with Herschael York – interviews with pastors

Pastors Talk – Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman various issues

The Pivot – musician named Andrew Osenga talks with other artists about how God has led them in their lives

Preaching and Preachers – Jason Allen, pres. Of MBTS guide to preaching better

Revitalize and Replant with Thom Rainer – self explanatory

TGC Podcast – sermons/lectures from their conferences 

TGC Q&A – various people answer questions about Christianity and living out our faith

Thinking in Public – Al Mohler talks to various authors about their writings and ideas in the public square

This American Life – stories from various parts of the country

This Cultural Moment – Mark Sayers is a pastor in Australia who is unbelievably insightful into reaching our secular culture

The Village Church Sermons – Matt Chandler

Books/Authurs:

JT English – Deep Discipleship

Will Wiight – Unsouled

DA Carson – John Pillar

Grant Osborne – John: Verse by Verse

Richard Lovelave – Dynamics of a Spiritual Life

Carl Trueman – The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

Athanasius – On the Incarnation

Music

Lots of instrumental music to study, Jon GuerraJon ForemanSlugs & BugsCityAlightGettysHillsong

Pandemic From The Trellis and the Vine

One of my favorite books on intentional discipleship is The Trellis and the Vine. I’ve been looking over it again to be reminded of its’ message, and found the conclusion of the book incredibly prophetic. It was written in 2009, but imagines a situation where a global pandemic has prevented large groups from gathering. How would it impact the church? Here is what they say:

As we write, the first worrying signs of a swine-flu pandemic are making headlines around the world. Imagine that the pandemic swept through your part of the world, and that all public assemblies of more than three people were banned by the government for reasons of public health and safety. And let’s say that due to some catastrophic combination of local circumstances, this ban had to remain in place for 18 months.

How would your congregation of 120 members continue to function—with no regular church gatherings of any kind, and no home groups (except for groups of three)?

If you were the pastor, what would you do?

I guess you could send regular letters and emails to your people. You could make phone calls, and maybe even do a podcast. But how would the regular work of teaching and preaching and pastoring take place? How would the congregation be encouraged to persevere in love and good deeds, especially in such trying circumstances? And what about evangelism? How would new people be reached, contacted and followed up? There could be no men’s breakfasts, no coffee mornings, no evangelistic courses or outreach meetings. Nothing.

You could, of course, revert to the ancient practice of visiting your congregation house-to-house, and door-knocking in the local area to contact new people. But how as a pastor could you possibly meet with and teach all 120 adults in your congregation, let alone their children? Let alone door-knock the suburb? Let alone follow up the contacts that you made?

No, if it was to be done, you would need help. You would need to start with ten of your most mature Christian men, and meet intensively with them two at a time for the first two months (while keeping in touch with everyone else by phone and email). You would train these ten in how to read the Bible and pray with one or two other people, and with their children. Their job would then be twofold: to ‘pastor’ their wives and families through regular Bible reading and prayer; and to each meet with four other men to train and encourage them to do the same. Assuming that 80% of your congregation was married, then through these first ten men and those that they subsequently trained, most of the married adults would be involved in regular Bible-based encouragement.

While that was getting going (with you offering phone and email support along the way), you might choose another bunch to train personally—people who could meet with singles, or people who had potential in door-knocking and evangelism, or people who would be good at following up new contacts.

It would be a lot of personal contact, and a lot of one-to-one meetings to fit in. But remember, there would be no services to run, no committees, no parish council, no seminars, no home groups, no working bees—in fact, no group activities or events of any kind to organize, administer, drum up support for, or attend. Just personal teaching and discipling, and training your people in turn to be disciple-makers.

Here’s the interesting question: after 18 months, when the ban was lifted and you were able to recommence Sunday gatherings and all the rest of the meetings and activities of church life, what would you do differently?

Marshall, Colin; Payne,Tony. The Trellis and the Vine . Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.

Notes from December 27 Sermon

Here are the various Bible passages I used in my sermon for December 27.

Eph 4:11-16 “And  he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 

1 Cor. 15 

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Worship Acceptably 

Heb. 12:28-29 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.” 

1 Cor. 10:31 “ So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

Rom. 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 

Gospel First 

Rom. 1:16-17 “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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 

Pray Fervently 

1 Thess. 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

Attend Regularly 

Heb. 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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.” 

Give Generously 

Matt. 13:1-9 Parable of the Sower “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” 

1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary,  bless, for  to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 

Serve Faithfully 

1 Cor 12:4-11 “Now  there are varieties of gifts, bu t the same Spirit; 5 and  there are varieties of service, but  the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is  the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of  wisdom, and to another the utterance of  knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another  faith by the same Spirit, to another  gifts of healing by the one Spirit,10 to another  the working of miracles, to another  prophecy, to another  the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another  various kinds of tongues, to another  the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually  as he wills.” 

Communicate Honorably 

1 Thess. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 

Col. 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

Submit Joyfully 

Eph 5:15-21 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because  the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what  the will of the Lord is. 18 And  do not get drunk with wine, for that is  debauchery, but  be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in  psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

Christmas Activities COVID Style

With us not meeting at church right now, I thought it may be helpful to have some fun ideas for you to enjoy at home! I’ve sent a few of these out already, but wanted to compile them in one place for you to look through the list! I’ll add new things at the top of the page as they become available so you don’t need to scroll all the way to the bottom each time. If you’ve got any ideas for other things we can add on here, please send them my way!

Jenna Paulson has put together a Christmas Bingo 2020 edition! I will give 10 Caribou Coffee gift cards to the first 10 people to complete a Bingo WITH PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE!
The Young Families Group is making “Snowman Soup” then bringing it to neighbors and giving them an invite card to our Christmas Eve Service. (Thanks to Erin Rivenburg for giving me this idea!)
This concert was WONDERFUL! Lots of smaller groups you may not have heard of!
JD Greear’s Advent series at Right Now Media. This is a great, brief series looking at the 4 names of Christ in Isaiah 9:6.
Slugs and Bugs Advent videos at Right Now Media. My kids absolutely LOVE Slugs and Bugs, and this Advent series is no exception! If you’ve got little kids, they’ll probably love this.

Feel free to download the invitation card for your own use! Just right click on the image, then click “Download image” to save it to your computer.

Why I’m Preaching Through 1 Peter

I created a brief “bumper video” for our new sermon series looking at 1 Peter. After it had shown for a couple weeks I got a couple questions about it, so thought I’d share some of my reasoning for why I addressed what I did in the video below.

First, everything I mentioned in the video is something that is a bit of a “hot button” issue in our cultural climate today. I specifically mention: whites vs blacks, men vs women, democrat vs republican, masks vs anti-maskers, and faith vs science as things the world uses to say Christians are wrong and can’t speak in to what is really truth. Part of the difficulty is there’s people on both sides of pretty much all those issues in every church. That’s where a book like 1 Peter is so helpful because he doesn’t allow us to divide into our various factions and groups, instead the gospel compels us to break down all these dividing markers and keep our focus on the primary realities that Jesus died for our sins and now reigns on high in heaven from where He will someday return to judge the living and the dead, right every wrong, and bring about perfect justice and peace (that’s where I talked about shalom – true and lasting peace a couple weeks ago in my sermon). 

Second, specifically referring to the race issue, I believe the organization Black Lives Matter is an abhorrent group that is being used to attempt to subvert many of the things God’s kingdom seeks to bring about. Interestingly, they recently took down their statement of beliefs because it is so controversial (pushing to get rid of the nuclear family, being driven by transgender rights and seeking the marginalization of both males and whites). 

Thirdly, I will say that despite the BLM organization being horrendous, there is still a history of oppression and marginalization of non-whites in the United States that serve as reminders of the fact that we are not yet home, but long for the day when Christ returns to bring perfect peace and reconciliation (as Paul reminds us to pursue in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21). There’s a couple at church who have 5 kids, 3 of whom are black and they have some very interesting stories of how their kids are treated differently, I’d encourage you to talk to them about their experience! There’s also some great resources out there on the history of race in America. One of which is a short video Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales) put together here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY&pp=QAA%3D where he brings up historic laws like Jim Crow laws and Redlining that sought to marginalize non-whites from specific rights or opportunities. It’s also important to note that this isn’t just true of us today as there’s a history of racism throughout the history of the church. Peter wouldn’t associate with Gentiles when Jews were around (Galatians 2:11-14), Martin Luther wrote a treatise titled ’On the Jews and Their Lies’ and Jonathan Edwards, one of my favorite American theologians owned slaves (of which you can read a couple responses HEREHERE and you can hear a lecture on this issue from the EFCA Theology Conference HERE). As a brief aside, the EFCA did an entire conference devoted to this issue in 2018 entitled ’The Gospel, Compassion and Justice, and the EFCA,’ you can see all the resources from that conference HERE. Another helpful resource is done by Andrew Wilson, a pastor from England, writing on ‘A Short History of Racism’ and ‘On Structural Racism’ in which he links to the Phil Vischer video listed above.

Fourthly, part of the issue in our current climate stems from critical race theory, the idea that the only categorizations that matter are those who have and wield power and those who do not (or those who are the oppressors and those who are the oppressed). This is one of those ideas that stems from Marxism and has gained increasing traction in the past decade as the means by which we engage in any conversation. In this category, white males are deemed the primary oppressors, meaning that because I am a white, middle class, educated male I am inevitably the oppressor, thus anything I say is deemed as not true so I must cede any ideas to those who are more marginalized than myself. This is completely false within a biblical worldview because there is an objective source of truth that is not rooted in someone’s experience. (We’ll be studying in the new year the 7 “I Am” statements Jesus uses throughout John’s Gospel, one of which is where He says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” So to get the foundation of truth we need to go to Jesus!) There is objective truth and it’s ultimately found in God himself, and captured in His Word, the Scriptures, which is why we preach, teach, and study the Bible every week together at church. We must be shaped and formed by God’s Word not the culture in which we live. Tim Keller has written a series of VERY helpful articles on this very issue which are all linked to at THIS WEBSITE, just to warn you these 4 articles are really long, but well worth the time it takes to read through them.

Fifthly, although there is objective truth and one standard of truth, we all have different experiences which shape, inform, and influence the way we view and interact with the world around us. The difficulty becomes when one’s experiences become their defining characteristic instead of looking at the broader way in which their story interacts with the world as a whole. What we all need to do is bring our experiences back to the Bible and view our experiences through a biblical lens instead of viewing the Bible through our experiential lens. This is where Grant Osborne’s idea of a Hermeneutical Spiral  is so helpful as our experience shapes and informs our views, but then through study, mediation and sanctification we slowly become more and more what Christ has called us to be, that is holy (as we’ll be studying together this coming Sunday in 1 Peter 1:15). This is where it’s very helpful to talk to people about their background and story, because the gospel will cut against some aspect of every culture on this side of heaven, so we should look to see ways in which the gospel can encourage parts of any culture, and ways that we need to use the gospel to fight against bad parts of culture (Tim Keller is incredibly helpful on this issue, particularly in his book Center Church, and so is D.A. Carson’s book ‘Christ & Culture Revisited‘ in which he look at Richard Neibuhr’s five Christ and culture options from his book ‘Christ and Culture’).

Lastly, this entire discussion is where we need to be so saturated in God’s Word that we can gain an eternal perspective on any issue, and bring the truth of the Bible to bear on it. As we’ll be studying this coming Sunday from 1 Peter 1:23-25  God’s Word is the one thing that will last forever, nothing else will. This is where it is imperative for us as Christians to live as ambassadors of a different kingdom who serve a different king. We cannot be held captive by any political agenda, any cultural agenda, any racial agenda, or any agenda other than the one Jesus called us to: to make disciples of His Kingdom. This is where we all come together as God’s people from various backgrounds (be that different socioeconomic, cultural, racial, gender, or generational) and are eager to “love another another…from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). That doesn’t mean unanimity or groupthink, what it does mean is dying to ourselves for the sake of each other. So my hope and prayer with this series is that it cuts against the grain of any political agenda people are bringing to Sunday mornings, and brings us back to truth, the truth of the gospel message, that Jesus saves and we can place our hope entirely in Him, and that this message will be made visible in our lives as an adornment of the gospel message we preach.

June 26 Devotional

This week’s message we’ll be backing up and covering what we didn’t cover last week! Luke 9:1-9:
 
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.
 
This is the first time we see Jesus sending out his disciples as his ambassadors, charged with both representing him to the world and carrying out his ministry of healing. Think of how the disciples would have felt! They’d been with Jesus seeing him perform these miracles for a while now, and now it was their turn! Think back to when you got your driver’s license! Did you sense the immense privilege that came with that? You suddenly had the ability to go anywhere you wanted! At least as long as your parents would let you! This is a bit like what the disciples would have felt here. The training wheels were coming up and there was a new found freedom, a slight taste of what would be coming after Jesus’ resurrection. And even in the midst of their journey, Jesus would need to continue providing for them, as the only thing they were to take was the clothes on their backs. Talk about walking by faith! As they go on their way, Luke says they preached the gospel and healed. That’s a good description of what we’re called to today! We’re called to preach the gospel, and do our best to help take care of those within our sphere of influence. 
 
After giving us the story of the disciple’s first missionary journey, Luke then focuses in on one person’s response. Herod. Well, one of the Herods! This is during the time of the “Herodian dynasty” which was a bit like a soap opera! This is the same Herod who beheaded Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist in a fit of lustful exuberance. As Jesus’ fame spread, eventually word reaches Herod’s ears that there’s something unique about this Jesus guy. Some said that he was John raised from the dead, others thought Elijah had returned to usher in the new reign, or maybe even one of the other lowly prophets had come back. Because of this notoriety, John was intrigued enough to the point that he tried to go see Jesus. Some scholars think this is part of the reason Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee in the next verse to go to Bethsaida. Either way, one thing for us to take away from this is the need for us to live lives that are different so that others will see our changed lives and ask questions about why we are the way we are (1 Peter 3:15). 
 
SONG:
We’re going to go with a throwback song today with some old school Lecrae from my high school days! This song is called ‘Send Me’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.

June 24 Devotional

We’ll be continuing Hebrews today looking at Hebrews 3:7-19:
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
    and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Continuing to build upon his theme here, the author is reminding us to hold fast to our hope in Christ. He begins by quoting from Psalm 95, which every Jew would have known! It served as the call to worship every Sabbath gathering the Jews met in the synagogues. This was the reminder to don’t just become numb or callous to God’s Word, instead take it in, meditate upon it, let it soak and saturate your entire life. The warning that served the nation of Israel is just as important for us today! Do not harden your hearts in response to God’s Word, do not put Him to the test, instead remember that God is perfectly just, and we should do our best to keep short accounts with Him. James picks up this idea in James 4:17 where he says “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” This is another way of saying the same thing the author of Hebrews is saying.
 
The author then uses this well known call to worship to exhort his congregation to not be like the people of God in the past! This is part of the reason we need to regularly gather together as God’s people! The author here is commanded us to “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ’today.’” That is, we should seek to be encouraging each other on in our faith, as the author of Hebrews reminds us later “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).  This is yet another reminder that when we are called as believers, we are called into a community. There are both individual and communal aspects to our salvation, and we cannot neglect either of them! We must do our best individually to follow Christ, but we cannot do it alone, we need to look for opportunities to encourage others to be obedient in their faith.
SONG:
Today’s song is a Sovereign Grace song titled ’Not in Me’ you can listen on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.