Welcome – Romans 15:1-7 Sermon Manuscript

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

-Series I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while now! We’re going to spend the next month looking at the things that are going to be non-negotiables for us moving forward together. And the thing is, they’re all traits that have been true since this church was founded in 1977. 

-Since I came, the word I’ve most often heard from people who have come here for the first time is (drum roll please): welcoming

-I honestly have lost count of the number of people I’ve talked to who have said they walked in our doors, and immediately had people welcoming them in, showing them around, answering their questions, it’s a JOY to hear that! That’s why I wanted to hear from David & Rayna on why they’ve decided to plant themselves here (also, did you notice it wasn’t the preaching, thanks a lot guys!)

-You may be wondering if that is a biblical trait, is welcoming something we are supposed to exemplify in our lives? As we walk through this section in Romans, I think we’ll see just how important it is for us to be a people marked by being welcoming, since that’s what God has done for us in Christ.

READ/PRAY

-Many of the Epistles (letters) in the NT are divided into 2 sections: orthodoxy, orthopraxy (define: theology, lived out)

-Remember from our study on hope in Rom. 5, that the theme through that first section is: righteousness. The first 11 chapters of Romans thus are the deep, rich theological truths about God’s righteousness, then chapter 12 begins the application of God’s righteousness into everyday life. 

-So chapter 11 ends with a doxology: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

-Then 12 begins: “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.”

-ESV Study Bible helpfully summarizes this as “God’s righteousness in everyday life.” Chapter 12-13 are then titled “Marks of the Christian Community” and “A call for mutual acceptance between the strong and the weak.”

-A brief note on Paul’s flow of thought in chpt. 14, because it flows directly into vs. 1of our section today.

-One of the primary issues in the 1st cent. Church was how different ethnicities/traditions could get along in the same church. Specifically, Jews & Gentiles, because they have VERY different ethical approaches for day to day life. Things like: what kinds of food can be eaten (pork was outlawed for Jews, Gentiles (like me) would have been asking “have you tried bacon?”), do we observe/honor the Sabbath, and what day should we honor the Sabbath?

-It’s not dissimilar to today, TBH. Do we homeschool, public school, Christian school? Do we watch movies? Which theological persuasion are you? What are your thoughts about the end times? Which political party are you?

-Paul does his best in this section to remind each other to focus on the primary things, this is where it is VITAL for us to remember to have a “theological triage.” 

-There are so many issues in our lives that we make a mountain out of today, make it a theological issue, then force others to either be one of us or not.

-I remember one time playing cards with my dad at my grandma’s house, and she came out and saw us and told us when she was growing up that was a sin. That’s attaching theological significance to an ethical issue for which there can be room for both sides of the argument.

-And this was a focus of Jesus’ ministry when He was on earth! He had some pretty big indictments against those who made others follow their man-made rules. Jesus didn’t have a lot of patience for legalism.

-Now that I say that, it doesn’t mean we are free to live however we want (as Paul asks “Do we continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” Rom. 6:1)

-Read an article this week about 2 dogs. 1 lived in the city, craved the great beyond, would wait eagerly for the owner to come home to try to sneak outside. The owner would come in, not let the dog escape, and the upset dog would sulk in the corner planning his next escape. 2 dog lived in the country, no fence, boundaries at all, but stayed near the porch waiting for his master to come home each day. The great beyond had no enticement for him, he was content with his owner. “Growth in holiness does not take place when our focus is on the boundaries but when our focus is on the Master. Fences may keep us from harm, but love for the Master is what keeps us from fences.”

-Martin Luther described this as a drunken man on a horse: he starts falling off one way, then falls off the other way and that continues indefinitely! Legalism vs. licentiousness.

-Paul explains that each of must live out the faith we claim to believe in, that we must have reasons for how we behave, and that we should not pass judgment on each other either way we choose to live.

-With all that said, our driving force, focus and motivation MUST be to bring glory to God

-We’re commanded to not put ourselves first, to not seek out own interests, but instead to be others-oriented in our lives, just like Jesus was

-So the first thing we see is that we are to:

  1. Please Others Like Christ (1-3)

-This is a continuation from chapt. 14 (which is why I spent so much time explaining what was said in that chapter)

-Paul considers himself to be in line with the “strong” (those who don’t feel the need to obey the OT ethical commands)

-For us today: was onetime told that if you know enough of the Bible to quote this verse, you are not one of those who are “weak!” 

-First notice the “obligation.” This isn’t an option, we all need to work with each other!

-Then to “bear with,” which is much more than merely enduring.

-A similar place Paul uses this phrase is in Gal. 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens”

-Think of it like this: for those of you who are married, when your spouse asks you to do something you have 2 options: do it or not. Or in my case, Cara has a tendency to word it poorly: “Would you mind.” “Yes, I would mind!” 

-Paul’s use of “bear” is more than “yes, I would mind” instead it’s bending over backwards to actively look out for someone else, instead of yourself.

-In chpt. 14, Paul has been encouraging the weak to not “pass judgment” on those who are strong, here Paul flips the exhortation to remind the strong that they have an obligation to not please themselves, but instead to please others. 

-Notice how many times “please” is used throughout here: 3x in 3 verses.

-This isn’t “please pass the salt,” one commentator said: “please means an act or gesture that will meet a real need or enhance spiritual stability.” (ESV Expositor’s Commentary, Yarbrough) AKA: real physical need or push them closer to Christ

-That’s the point Paul is making in vs. 2 here. Our goal is to “please” our neighbors, that is meet their real, legitimate needs or help them to be more conformed to His image.

-By referring to neighbors, Paul is echoing back to Lev. 19:18, just as he did in Rom. 13:8-10, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

-The way we please our neighbors is by loving them. Paul says in Rom. 13“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

-We saw over Advent what love looks like practically in our lives, it’s not endorsing anything anyone wants, and it’s not based on fleeting emotions, true love could be viewed the same way we saw above: to meet a real need or help them grow spiritually. 

-What is our perfect example of this? Paul reminds us in the next verse: 3

-Paul quotes from Psalm 69:9, a Davidic Psalm asking for the Lord to deliver them. In this case, Paul is talking about Jesus bearing our reproaches. In other words, even if we are mocked/belittled for bearing with our weaker brothers and sisters, it’s worth the cost, since that’s what Christ did for us!

-Think of Jesus, who in Phil. 2 emptied Himself to our level. There, Paul reminds us consider others more significant than ourselves, look out for others interests, which is perfectly modeled in Jesus. The one person who legitimately could have demanded he be worshipped and served, instead came to serve us, to welcome us into his perfect family.

-This also ties into the sermon on the mount, where Jesus says those who are reviled are the ones who will be blessed.

-Paul uses these next verses to explain how we can know that, and His primary point here is that by being a welcoming community, we will have endurance and encouragement through God’s Word, which is the same as being filled up by God Himself.

  • For Endurance and Encouragement (4-7)
    • The Word (4)

-Paul used Psalm 69 to talk about how Jesus is the primary example and focus of everything in the OT, in fact in 2 Cor. 1:20 Paul similarly says “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

-The main point here is why Paul referenced back to the OT. The examples in the OT were written for us to learn/grow/become more like Jesus, Jesus is the perfect example that we are supposed to imitate, and the focus of the whole Bible. 

-Everything we do is meant to be rooted in God’s Word, as we study God as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us, we grow more like Him.

-One commentary said: “instruction is a reminder that learning (or discipleship) is a central component of the Christian faith.” (ESV Expositors)

-Paul David Tripp: “The ultimate purpose of the Word of God is not theological information but heart and life transformation.” (Dangerous Calling)

-The 2 components are: endurance and encouragement.

-The endurance piece is sticking it out, remaining faithful. Paul David Tripp: “the character and quality of your life won’t be defined by two or three life-changing moments. No, the character and quality of your life will be defined by the 10,000 little decisions, desires, words, and actions you make every day.

-Encouragement comes by the Scriptures, from God’s Word, soaking and saturating every part of our lives. This culminates in hope. Saw that before!

  • God (5a)

-Just as God’s Word is meant to lead to endurance and encouragement, so God Himself is the author of our endurance and encouragement. We can’t do anything apart from Him, so we need to regularly come back to Him as the one who will allow us to endure and be encouraged.

-This is where it’s important for us to remember that God has chosen a specific way to reveal Himself to us: through His Word. Each time we read the Bible we are reading God’s very words to us.

-But it’s not just for us individually to have endurance and encouragement, actually we can’t endure or be encouraged by ourselves. Even reading/studying God’s Word isn’t meant to be done alone (reading the Bible alone is a GREAT thing you should do) but the Bible is meant to be understood and applied in community. That’s what Paul says next:

  • Unity to Glorify God (5b-6)

-Everything in the Bible is meant to lead us to live in harmony with each other.

-This harmony leads to glorifying God with 1 voice, together, completely unified.

-Unity does not mean unanimity. I am all for the priesthood of all believers, which means all of us need to contribute to the good of our body. I love that Paul uses musical terms here: unity and harmony. Songs only become interesting when harmony is added in. Singing is a beautiful picture for us of how we are commanded to live in this passage, we sing the same words, united together, but each person has a part to contribute a harmony (or a joyful noise) that makes up the whole. Just as our gifts are meant to serve together!

-It also means daily dying to yourself, to your own preferences, to your own desires and finding space to live with each other despite differences.

-Again, this is where we need theological triage: Moo: “Divisions in the church over nonessentials diverts precious time and energy from its basic mission: the proclamation of the gospel and the glorifying of God.”

-There’s a time and a place for those discussions! We’ve seen previously, that even Paul shared theological ideas that were “of first importance” which means there’s implicitly theological ideas that are of second importance. If anyone ever wants to discuss some of these finer details of theology, let me know, I’ll buy you a coffee and chat! But then after we leave the coffeeshop, we go back our unity

-Even Jesus in his high priestly prayer in John 14-17 prayed that we would be united today. That’s how we glorify God! By actively pursuing unity and harmony together. 

-Think about this, if you look around this room we’ve got people from all sorts of various backgrounds, different education levels, different theological persuasions, even different political persuasions. Yet we’re willing to look past all the measurements of division the world uses and actually come together for the common purpose of making disciples of all nations. This is a unity the world can’t even begin to fathom! The world forces everyone to align with every individual piece of ideology to be a part of them, and then cancels you if you don’t completely agree. Jesus welcomes everyone in with open arms and then gently leads you to rely more and more on Him until you are someday perfected, and we all do that together!

  • Welcome (7)

-“Therefore” Paul is summarizing everything he’s said up until this point. Today, as God’s people, we are meant to be a welcoming community to everyone who walks in our doors. Christmas week we had over 400 families walk through here to pick out toys for their kids for Christmas! 

-We’ve got a wonderful example of what it means to be welcoming in the life of Jesus. How did he treat people anytime they came to Him? Honor, respect, understanding, patience. Think of what we studied at Christmas Eve: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I think another way of summarizing all those characteristics is by being welcoming.

-Often when we think of being a welcoming we think of close friends/neighbors, coming off Christmas where we’ll tell our friends “you’re always welcome here!” But you know you’re not supposed to actually put that to the test! 

-There’s a scene towards the end of Seinfeld where Kramer is remembering previous moments with Jerry, 1 where they meet for the first time and Jerry says “Make yourself at home!” So Kramer proceeds to take that literally (as I’ve done when my friends have told me that!)

-But being committed to the gospel (as we are!) means that it’s not only friends we’re supposed to be welcoming towards, the gospel means that we’re also supposed to be welcoming towards our enemies.

Matt. 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

-This goes COMPLETELY contrary to our normal human thinking. That’s what Jesus is saying here. “You have heard it said” = the normal human reaction to our enemies, but Jesus gives us a better way, the way of welcoming.

-Gospel Comes with a Housekey

-This may mean being inconvenienced, this may mean our church ends up with a lot of broken people who need grace, but guess what, that’s true of all of us! All of us need to aim to not please ourselves, but instead please God. Remember Paul talks about pleasing our neighbors in this text, do you remember who Jesus said is our neighbors? 

-In fact, because Christ didn’t come to please himself, we who are walking in the new life found only in Him are now welcomed to His table. 

-Those who were far off, those who were His enemies have now been made friends, and more than friends, His family! He’s built a bigger table to accommodate all of us, and now one of the ways we carry on the great commission is by welcoming people to our tables. 

-Been thinking a lot lately about Christians needing to be “table people.” We need to welcome people to our tables so that we can ultimately welcome them to the ultimate table to the Lord.

-R. Kent Hughes: “Whenever we crush the bread of Communion between our teeth and swallow the cup of his blood we cannot escape the fact that he did not please himself.”

-Think about the importance of tables in the Bible: how were Adam & Eve tempted? Eating. What event signified the Passover/preservation of God’s people in Egypt? Eating. What did Jesus command on His last night? Take & eat. What will we do when Jesus comes back? Eat!

Love – 1 Corinthians 13 Sermon Manuscript

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

Love

1 Corinthians 13 (559)

-Love seems to be everywhere around us.

-Almost as if it’s in the air we breathe! Hallmark movies are plentiful this time of year, jewelry stores seem to double their commercials to air during Vikings games that proclaim “every kiss begins with kay.” 

-A yard sign in my neighborhood proclaims “love is love.” That runs contrary to the first rule I was taught in defining words: can’t use the word in the definition. 

-But even think about the way we use that word every day. I love that song, I love the snow, I love my wife Cara, I love my kids. Surely those don’t all mean the same thing, right?

-I’m going to give away the ending to this sermon at the beginning: love isn’t a feeling, as dc talk taught me in my formative years, love is a verb. More precisely, love is a list of characteristics that are meant to be demonstrated in all our lives, and even further than that, love was perfectly encapsulated in 1 person who came to earth 2,000 years ago.

READ/PRAY

-Dropping in the middle of a flow of thought. 1 Cor. 12-14 serve to break down divisions regarding spiritual gifts in the church. 

-Most often when we hear this text it’s at weddings, and while it’s certainly appropriate at weddings, that overly narrows the focus of the text.

12 talks about the wide variety of gifts given from the HS to the church. Natural tendency among humans is to elevate certain gifts. We do the same today! Do you realize the variety of people we have serving here every week? Decorating, coffee, cleaning, running sound, playing instruments, teaching kids, welcoming people, safety team unlocking doors. That’s just Sunday! Paul ends this section with an exhortation to “earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”

14 then applies 12, 13 to prophecy and speaking in tongues, with a final exhortation for how the church should structure their weekly worship services. These 3 chapters are all centering around spiritual gifts and their use in the church, so even the love chapter is meant to be demonstrated not in marriage, but the church. 

-Let’s take a look at the 3 ways Paul talks about love in this passage.

  1. Love Lacking (1-3)

-These verses serve as a transition point from 12

-All about spiritual gifts being needed together to build up the church.

-Quick sidenote about that: there isn’t a JV squad in the church. There’s not even bench warmers! How often do we compare ourselves to what seem like “better” gifts and then become discouraged? Or even comparing ourselves to someone with the same gifts, but manifested differently and then beat ourselves up. Happens ALL THE TIME in preaching!

-Music and teaching/preaching seem to be highly elevated in our culture today. Did you know God doesn’t view it that way? Now, that being said, God DOES care that you’re actually using your gifts and growing in them (the parable of the talents speaks to this). If you don’t know what your gifts are, reach out to one of us, we’d love to help you discern your gifts!

-Paul does some comparing in these first 3 verses. 

-It seems that comparing gifts has been an issue for thousands of years! The church in Corinth said the best gifts were prophecy and speaking in tongues. Don’t have time to dig too far into those gifts today, but someday we’ll talk about them!

-First gift is speaking in tongues. This was viewed the best gift in the church, which is why Paul starts here. Some people today even use this as a way to determine whether or not someone is truly a believer.

-Look at the words Paul uses though: tongues of men and of angels.

-Some debate about what the gift of “speaking in tongues” is in the NT: either a known, earthly language or an angelic heavenly language that is untranslatable on earth. But Paul includes both! Whichever “tongue” it is, it needs to be done from the outpouring of love.

-Notice the comparison Paul makes here. If I have these amazing gifts of language, if I can speak every language on earth, AND in heaven, but don’t have love I’m just as helpful as a noisy gong, or clanging cymbal.

-In certain contexts, gongs and cymbals are great! Like in the movie ‘Shang-Chi’ that just came out. The gong as the war starts is super epic! But if you’re trying to have a conversation and you’re standing next to a cymbal how helpful is it?

-I love playing drums! But if I were to sit back here and play drums while I’m preaching, how helpful would it be? Does this help or hurt your ability to hear what I’m saying? Paul doesn’t stop with tongues though, does he?

-Up next is prophecy and interpretation of prophecy.

-If I can prophecy, speak on behalf of God to a group of people. And understand, notice the qualifiers: ALL mysteries, and ALL knowledge. AKA if I have the same level of understanding as God. And even beyond that, if I can do what Jesus said his followers could do with faith that can move mountains. If I can do all these things, but don’t have love, how helpful is it? It’s worth NOTHING.

-So speaking in tongues, prophecy, interpretation of prophecy, all faith if they aren’t done from love are literally worth nothing in God’s kingdom. But that’s not all!

-Finally, verse 3. If I force poverty on myself, if I do HUGE acts of charity and mercy for others, or even deliver up my body 

-Text says “to be burned” alternative text is “that I may boast.” Couple letter differentiation in Greek. The point is the same: either I offer my body to death, or sell myself into slavery for the sake of someone else.

-If I even do these unbelievable charitable things, but do it without love, how helpful is it in God’s economy? Worthless!

-Think about these 3 things like this:

-We all know how money works, at least most of us do! I still remember one time asking my mom to get a toy and being told “we can’t afford that.” I confidently told her “just write a check!”

-Imagine getting up to heaven, and acting like that with God! I prophesied! I spoke in tongues! I gave away everything I had! I can base my salvation on that! And God saying “depart from me, I never knew you. You can’t afford to enter here, your spiritual bank account is empty.” It’s like me trying to tell my mom to just write a check – it’ll bounce!

-Paul’s point is not that spiritual gifts are bad AT ALL! Remember, he just said to “earnestly desire the higher gifts.” But the point of these gifts isn’t to be used to build ourselves up (as we’ll see in the next section), instead the gifts are meant to be used from the foundation of love, to flow out into the building up of the church, the people of God. So how does Paul define love?

  • Love Lived (4-7)

-Here’s the most fascinating part about this, look at what Paul describes. Are these ethereal, pie in the sky definitions, or are these character traits that should be evident in our lives? 

-Paul lists 15 character traits of love, and he’s breaking love down into 2 lists: what characteristics should be demonstrated by love (7), and what characteristics should NOT be demonstrated by love (8). Let’s start with the negative, what love isn’t.

-Envious

-If you love someone, you cannot be jealous of their gifts, strengths, accomplishments. That is antithetical to how God has commanded us to live.

-Boastful

-The other side of being envious is turning into someone who thinks you’re the bees knees. In Greek, this is literally translated as “wind bag” so if someone is demonstrating this characteristic, tell them they’re like a whoopee cushion! 

-Arrogant

-Similar to the “wind bag” is arrogant. Self-centered and cocky about their own giftings/strengths instead of recognizing where those gifts are from. 

-Rude

-Descriptive of misbehaving/acting out, behaving in a way that doesn’t fit with societal norms. Like if you’ve seen those kids at Target who start throwing fits (always at Target, never seem to have those kinds of meltdowns in the car!) Think of an adult acting out like that, antithesis of love!

-Insisting on its own way

-This is a hard one! Especially when you KNOW you’re right. See the gospel compels us to “outdo each other in showing honor,” and to consider others interests even higher than our own!

-Irritable

-You know people who always seem on the verge of blowing up at you? You never know what’s going to set them off.

-Resentful

-This is keeping a record of wrongs. This is knowing life’s not fair, and keeping track of the ways you’ve been wronged. Another way of thinking about this is being unwilling to forgive an offense.

-Rejoicing at wrongdoing/injustice

-ESV says “wrongdoing” other translations have “injustice.” This is not celebrating when someone who is created in the image of God is treated poorly

-That’s what love ISN’T let’s take a look at what love IS.

-Patient

-Long-suffering, understanding, opposite of irritable and resentful. This is someone who won’t let circumstances dictate their responses.

-Have you ever had the privilege of going on a cross culture missions trip? Joining up with brothers and sisters from across the world who seem SO much more content with their life than I am here. They’re patient even in how God is working in their lives.

-“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Chuck Swindoll

-Kind

-loving, merciful. Opposite of rude/irritable. 

-Do you know anyone who just never seems shaken up? They’ve got an inner core that’s always at peace. No matter what happens they’re kind to everyone.

-Rejoices with the truth

-This is the one that most stood out to me this time reading through these characteristics. Because our world likes to define love VERY differently than this! You’ve probably even heard people talk about sharing MY truth. You can speak of your experience, but there is 1 truth. And all truth finds its consummation in the source of all truth, Jesus. 

-We should be on the lookout for truth around us, celebrate it, and find out how it points us to the ultimate source of truth in Jesus. Christmas is a GREAT time to be reminded of this. Our neighbors are decorating, presents are being bought, stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and it’s an opportunity to talk about the reason we all celebrate Christmas. Look for and utilize those opportunities! 

-Bears all things

-Love means being willing to be burdened for someone else. It may mean you emotionally help them carry the weight of their emotional issues.

-Ever had some issue that comes up that feels like it’s literally weighing you down, then sharing that emotional weight with someone else feels like the weight is lifted off your chest?

-Believes all things

-Do you assume the best in others, or do you approach everything they do with suspicion? Our world views everything through the lens of suspicion today! We’re not supposed to. Doesn’t mean be foolish, but if we’re extending love to others, we’ll hope for the best in them.

-Hopes all things

-Can you imagine never giving up hope?? Even when it feels like there’s not a chance in the world, love convinces you to continue on.

-Brothers and sister – I realize Christmas/Thanksgiving may be difficult for you if you’ve got estranged relationships, this text is reminding us to not give up hope. Pray, seek reconciliation, and trust God’s sovereign guiding hand.

-Endures all things

-Summarizes everything else, it will endure forever! Which you’ll see in the next section.

-The crazy thing about these characteristics is all of them are meant to be descriptive of us! So you should be able to replace “love” in these verses with “I am.” Just think about that. I am…

-God gets to define what love is because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

-Then the world gets to determine whether or not we’re Christians by how we love. (John 13:34)

-This is meant to be true individually, yes, but it’s also meant to be descriptive of us as the church. In fact, Jesus says in the previous verse that our love demonstrated visibly is meant to serve as a witness/example to the world of what God’s love looks like. That’s super hard to read/think, isn’t it? It seems like our world generally thinks of Christians as the opposite of these descriptions (some of it is because of our commitment to the truth). But similar to the gentleness idea we saw in Phil. 4, what would it look like for us to grow in love for God and each other over the next year?

-Love lived is demonstrated by these both positive and negative characteristics. But here’s the even more incredible part, compared to even the most miraculous spiritual gifts we saw, love is more important, because love lasts.

  • Love Lasts (8-13)

-Look at that first phrase: love never ends. When will it end? NEVER

-I remember trying to comprehend eternity when I was growing up, and it would freak me out. I’m so used to having an end point, it’s TERRIFYING to really sit down and think about forever. But because God is love, and God is eternal, so love is eternal. 

-At some point, prophecies will be done because we’ll be with Jesus! At some point tongues will stop because we’ll be able to understand each other. At some point knowledge/understanding won’t be necessary because we’ll be with God. But love? Love will still be going strong. 

-The reason for this is because we only know partially. These next few verses are different ways of saying the same point: right now we can’t see everything as it SHOULD be, we can only see/comprehend partially, we see glimpses, but only the rough outline, like looking in a distorted mirror.

-Think of how the world would be viewed through the lens of a child. Their perspective, their views are so profoundly influenced and shaped by their parents and what their parents expose them to. Calvin’s starting to ask questions about heaven and why Jesus had to die, and why people used spears on him, and Cara and I have to try to figure out how to explain it in a way a 4-year-old will understand. He one time asked me if God could pick up our house. 

-Do you ever view your questions of God like that? I don’t think I think of God the same way my 4-year-old does, I would hope that my perspective is a little farther and broader than his, but in God’s eyes 33 and 4 aren’t that much different! 

-“Even as I have been fully known.” God knows everything about you, and He still loves you. We’ll never fully know God (part of the reason we get eternity with Him), but he fully knows you and still sent Jesus to die for you. Christian, you’ve got nothing to hide today, nothing to prove, nothing to do that Jesus hasn’t already done.

-This love is something we get to tangibly see, taste, and touch when we celebrate communion together. 

-And we drink this cup and eat this bread together to remind us that our love for God needs to be visibly demonstrated by our love for each other. Our love is the way God works in and through each other to continue drawing us to Himself. 

-Because Christ is perfectly lovely, he can make even unworthy and unlovely people like you and me perfectly lovely.

Genesis 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.

Sin

Genesis 3

Think of some of your favorite stories. Have you ever thought about how many of them cast serpents or use serpentine imagery as the evil one?

-Read this week about St. George the dragon slayer (reminded me of a guy from seminary that I stayed with, Anglican, so had chosen St. George as the patron saint of his house)

-Chronicles of Narnia, which is meant to serve as a picture of the Christian life, in The Silver Chair the evil queen transforms into a serpent to kill Prince Caspian

-Harry Potter, Voldemort, the evil one speaks Parseltongue (snake language) and uses a snake to do his bidding

-Hobbit/LOTR – dragon Smaug began the whole story! 

“Kill the dragon, get the girl.”

READ/PRAY – Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life! Help us now to hear and obey what you say to us today. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

EFCA SOF

  1. The Temptation (1-5)

-Story takes a weird turn with the introduction of a new character – “the serpent” Who is that?

-Once again a lot of ink spilled in relation to this debate! Where did he come from, if God’s whole creation was good? A couple passages that help: Rev. 12:9Ezek. 28. Looks like Satan brought about a heavenly rebellion against God.

-Culminates in Jude 5 where Jude addresses the implications of the rebellion and the heart behind: “did not stay within their own position of authority.” Make a note of that for later! There’s a desire to usurp God’s authority, to invert the created order and to attempt to sit on God’s throne.

-What do we make of a talking snake? Surely this is fantasy! We know Chronicles of Narnia isn’t a true story, we know our dogs don’t speak English (as smart as your dog is). This has to be that the early Israelites didn’t understand how the world REALLY worked, right? 

-One argument is that all the animals pre-fall talked, and it was only after the fall that that relationship was severed, this would lead to talking animals in heaven someday, would be pretty cool!

-Another option (and my preferred) is that Satan uses the serpent as his mouthpiece, there are instances in the NT of Satan’s minions speaking through people, this one seems to be in line with the rest of the Bible! Even though I still have hopes that I can talk to my dogs in heaven!

-Serpent is described as “more crafty” “most cunning” “shrewder”

-The word is meant to parallel a description from the previous verse: naked and unashamed. Naked in Hebrew is arummim, shrewd/crafty is arumGen. 2 describes the intended state of creation, Gen. 3 describes the aberration/destruction of that creation

-One of the things we need to remember here is Satan cannot create. He takes the things God creates and twists/distorts them to his own ends

-So God creates everything to be “naked/unashamed” and Satan twists that nakedness by being “crafty” He’s a sneaky little bugger.

-Last thing to remember is that I mentioned last week the innocence/ignorance of Adam & Eve. Think of a child who is ignorant in response to many of the world’s difficulties: running into the street, touching a hot stove, need to be trained in the ways of the world. 

-Adam & Eve were in a perpetual state of childhood – didn’t need to be taught “the ways of the world” because everything was meant to lead them to flourish

-They did have boundaries: eat from any tree to you hearts content, except 1

-How many times do we live similarly? God’s given us SO many opportunities/freedoms, but we want to pursue the 1 option that leads to death

-Satan knows what he’s doing here, he goes straight to God’s commands! “Did God actually say?” Doesn’t outright deny, just questions.

-Notice the change in reference to God between these 2 uses. Lord God vs. God. One contains the relational covenant name of God, the other uses the common

-This is at the heart of the rebellion of humanity even to this day! In most of our interactions in the world we’re taught to buck authority, to question everything, to refuse to acknowledge our own humanity and mortality. This is where we’ve seen this rise in “ex-vangelicals” people leaving the faith, because they “found errors” in the Bible, but didn’t take the time to dig into or explore those issues further. They just assume that God couldn’t actually say anything.

-But then Satan goes on the offensive, by putting into doubt God’s actual words. 

-Just to remember, what did God actually say?

-God’s plan was bountiful, they could eat in abundance, eat until their stomachs were overflowing! That was encouraged! There was 1 limitation placed. And Satan decides to attack that 1 limitation.

-So how does the woman reply? 

-We may eat, not in abundance

-lowers herself to play on Satan’s turf in her reference to God

-adds to God’s restrictions “neither shall you touch it.” (some argue this is her creating another boundary to prevent sin, I think this is the beginning of legalism) We’re seeing all the ways our world twists and distorts God’s message that leads us to human flourishing

-Satan knows he has her just where he wants her. She’s stooping down to his level, playing his game, when she should have ignored, run away, or banished him from the garden!

-So Satan takes the next step. Now that the woman has already twisted God’s words he then moves to outright denial.

-The Hebrew wording begins with NO! Emphasizes that the will surely NOT die!

-Let’s compare this phrase with God’s phrase, 1 word difference. 

-Look how subtle this is! 1 word is the difference between life and death, and how subtle are Satan’s schemes against us today? No one will see it if you look at that picture on the computer, no one will know if you do some under the table dealings, no one will know if cut some corners and take the easy way out. But God will. I’m getting ahead of the story though!

-Satan is aware that everyone, since even this creation, has wanted to be in the place of God. And isn’t that at the root of most of the issues we’re having in our world today? 

-If the world revolves around me, if I am the sum center of the universe, anytime anyone disagrees with you they’re upsetting the king! They’re questioning your place on your throne and they must be punished! 

-Think of driving. Everyone who speeds it just asking for an accident until you’re the one who’s running late! Everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster than you is a maniac! That’s human nature! 

-Now here’s the crazy thing that Satan says: ONLY if you eat of this tree will you be “Like God.” Wait a second. Who was created in the image of God? Who was created to represent God to the rest of the world? PEOPLE! They’re being tempted with something that is already true of them!

-It’s true, they would know the difference between good and evil, but only because their innocence would be destroyed, never able to be whole/holy again

-God had created a world that was perfect for them, everything they needed was supplied and they even had a job to do: work and keep the garden, but that wasn’t enough, they wanted to be in charge God’s domain instead of their own.

-So how does Eve respond?

  • The Sin (6-7)

-Instead of saying NO to the temptation, instead of turning away, she starts contemplating it. Look at the description of this:

-good for food, delight to the eyes, make one wise. 

-Do you think it’s significant that God chose to reveal Himself through words? God spoke to create, God spoke to the man with His commands (just as He’ll speak to Moses to have him write down the commands), yet how Satan attacks is through the eyes? Not saying visual is evil at all! God created the heavens and the earth with beautiful signs, but the signs are meant to point to Him who is the Word made flesh! 

-I think a great example of this is the desire for sensational experiences in our faith. Those things are not bad/wrong, but continually looking for sensational experiences won’t allow you to bear the weight of the suffering that will come.

-This sin is also described in 1 John 2 – the 2 ways to live! The world vs. Father

-Good for food – desires of the flesh (appetites)

-Do you ever find yourself torn? Knowing something isn’t good for you, but wanting to do it anyway? The things that this world offers us to distract us from God.

-Delight to the eyes – desires of the eyes (affections)

-Word used here is the same one as in Deut. 5:21 “‘And you shall not covetyour neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’”

-A sinful desire. Saw a TV show yesterday: “listen to your gut, OK? And on your way down to your gut, check in with your heart. Between those 2 things, they’ll let you know what’s what.”

Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

-Desired to make one wise – pride of life (ambitions)

-In and of itself, the pursuit of wisdom isn’t bad! That’s the theme of the whole book of Proverbs, but using wisdom to pursue fame/accolades is a problem.

-These 3 sins appear over and over and over again throughout the whole Bible, until they find their culmination in Luke 4 with the temptation of Jesus.

-hunger – desire of the eyes

-show divinity in Jerusalem – desire of the flesh

-worship Satan by given everything – the pride of life.

-Jesus succeeds, what happens to Adam and Eve?

-Eve eats. And then she gives some to Adam, and he eats. 

-“Who was with her.” Adam was there, watching this all take place. His divine command to “work and keep” the garden resulted in an utter failure

-Adam’s role of prophet/priest/king was abandoned because the temptation was too enticing. His first sin was passivity, instead of fighting against the devil, he gives in and watches his wife give in. This will have consequences as we’ll see

-The perfect harmony they experienced was shattered. Their ignorance was gone, could no longer enjoy being “naked and unashamed.” So they do their best to cover themselves up. 

-Don’t we try to do the same? When we’re caught in our sin we blame the situation, our upbringing, our life circumstances, but surely we’re not the problem.

-Part of the reason God shares this story with us is so we can see that even if you take all those extenuating circumstances away, we’d still choose sin.

  • The Consequences (8-24)

-We know what the penalty SHOULD be – death! They disobeyed, it would appear that Satan won! This entire world that had been created for people would go to waste, God’s great plan of joining with his emissaries in working and keeping the created order was broken. Or was it?

-Up until this point, we’ve seen God’s people in God’s place living under God’s rule and reign. For the first time in their lives, Adam and Eve don’t run TO God, they run AWAY from God. 

-The first time I really started contemplating the implications of this verse was sitting in a Sunday school class in a house across our parking lot in 2002. A teacher in a Sunday school class here asked the question: have you ever thought about God walking on the earth with Adam and Eve? God, when he appears, chooses to look like a human.

-Now, this is a difficult verse to translate, includes ruach in the “cool of the day” (breeze/wind of the day”) so some argue that God appears in a wind storm which would certainly be terrifying! Either way, they know it’s God! And they’re afraid.

-God won’t let them off the hook. He calls to them (He knows where they are!) And at least Adam’s response is honest. For now!

-God, again, knows everything, knows they’ve eaten, but He still gives them a chance to confess.

-Part of the way God created humans is for the other – so we are to be in relationship with others. And that union in relationship is now broken, so Adam plays the blame game. 

-“The woman” First off, not a great first move by Adam. I remember being told in pre-marital counseling, the woman is ALWAYS right! 

-“whom you gave” then he blames God! 

-Then back to the women, she gave me some fruit, I had no clue, I was innocently walking along and she tossed me a piece of fruit! Adam was THERE!

-Then he finally gets to the reality: I ate.

-Then to the woman: in the Hebrew, it’s emphatic: Do you realize what you’ve done?!

-Eve blames the serpent. The crafty one. After the deception, then she’s honest.

  1. For the Serpent (14-15)

-This serves as the center of the chiasm. God begins with Adam, to Eve, lands on the serpent, then Eve’s consequences and finally back to Adam’s consequences.

-This consequence runs contrary to some of the other religions dominating this area at the time. Serpents were viewed as gods! Once again, only 1 God

-Important to note who is cursed through this section. Serpent is cursed above all the animals, stuck slithering on the ground and eating dust.

-Not referring to his diet, more of a shame (eat my dust!) always be the loser

-Enmity between the women and their offspring, continual fighting/tension

-First hint that this will not result in immediate death!

-he (woman’s offspring) will bruise head, you (offspring) bruise his heel. If you’ve ever had ankle issues, you know it’s not fatal, but a bruised head? You’re not surviving that! There’s a reason we wear helmets when we bike/skate, we can survive many things, but not head wounds!

-This serves as the beginning of the seed of the serpent vs the seed of the woman. 

-Very next chapter Cain (seed of the serpent) kills Abel (seed of the woman)

-Joseph (seed of the woman) vs. his brothers (serpent)

-Pharoah (literally had a snake on his head) persecuting the children of God 

-David against Goliath (who appears with scaly armor) David strikes his head

-John the Baptist describes his opponents as a “brood of vipers” (Matt. 3:7)

-Jesus tells his opponents they are of their father, the devil (John 8:44)

-Revelation, the great serpent, the snake is thrown into hell forever.

  • For the Woman (16)

-There’s no cursing of the woman, but there is enmity brought in.

-First enmity is in childbirth. Either no pain before the fall, or else it’s referring to the ways in which women are emotionally affected through child rearing. Could easily be both!

-Second is the marriage relationship is full of enmity. Full confession, I hate the way the ESV translates this. Changed it in 2016, originally said “Your desire shall be for your husband” which is what the Hebrew text says! They’re forcing a theological point in a place where we don’t need it. (rant over)

-“’To love and to cherish’ becomes ‘to desire and dominate.’” (Kidner, 71)

  • For the Man (17-19)

-What’s cursed here? The ground! The ground bears the penalty for the sin of man! The ground from which he was created. The work that was one painless is now pain FULL. Instead of producing fruit in abundance, now it’ll produce thorns & thistles. 

-This has affected ALL of our work! Work until Jesus returns will be HARD! 

-This sin has affected all of human history! Until the serpent is fully and finally dealt with, we bear the weight of the effects of the Fall.

-But remember, it has been dealt with! Jesus experienced it all! He hung on a tree, sweat drops of blood looking at his work, wore a crown of thorns, and tasted the dust of death. This leads us to in the midst of the one of the 2 worst days in history, a glimpse of God’s good grace extended to us as broken people.

  • God’s Grace (20-24)

-Eve sounds like the Hebrew word for “living/life”

NET: “By giving them more substantial coverings, God indicates this alienation is greater than they realize.”

-We’re meant to see glimpses of the temple/tabernacle here. The front of the temple faces east, what separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place is a curtain. 

NET: “Here they guard the way to the tree of life. The curtain in the tabernacle was to be embroidered with cherubim as well, symbolically guarding the way to God.” 

-That flaming sword falls down Jesus, and what happens to that curtain? It’s torn in 2! God can once again dwell with His people. 

-So what? Are you demonstrating that you are the seed of the serpent or the seed of the woman?

-Sin is enticing! Satan is good at his craft, he’s been perfecting it for millennia

-Work is hard

-God’s grace is sufficient for us all. Now God dwells with us. We are now described as God’s temple! 

-At the end of LOTR, Frodo and Sam fall asleep on the slopes of Mt. Doom, when Sam finally comes to, Gandalf (who he thought died all the way back in the 1st book) is next to him. Sam’s first words were “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?”

Genesis 2 – 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.

Man and Woman

Genesis 2:4-25 (page 1)

-Muslims believe paradise will be a huge garden with riches immeasurable, each man will be rewarded with 70 beautiful young women.

-What does paradise look like to you?

-Muslims believe paradise is just part of a spirit world for those who are have believed in Jesus during their time on earth.

-Buddhism doesn’t believe in paradise, but instead in the “land of bliss” some argue that only men will reach this land

-Many people in America seem to act as if this land is paradise, they keep building your domain as big as you can, working their tails off to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be!

-The Bible gives us a different view to paradise, but can be summarized as: God’s people, in God’s land living under God’s rule & blessing. Once again, we see Genesis serving as the foundation for the whole Bible!

  1. Creation Retold (4-14)

-“These are the generations” serves as the beginning of a section in Genesis

6:9 Noah, 10:1 Noah’s family, 11:10 Shem, 11:27 Terah, etc.

-Every other instance is of people, this is of the created order, the beginning of everything

-We’ve picked up from where we left off last week and zooming in on the 6th day, focusing (again) on the creation of humanity, giving us quite a bit more detail 

-See this beginning verses as setting the stage for the main point of the story

-An error that people make is viewing this as 2 separate creation accounts

-There’s not 1 creation of people, then a separate creation when “Adam and Eve” are created, there is a message that God is communicating through this text (again!) start back with the original audience 

-Lord God – new name for God (Yahweh Elohim) last chapter was just Elohim, Yahweh is His covenant name that He gives to His people, the holy name that was unutterable by God’s people 

-Moses is telling us something about what God is doing/working in his creative acts, so early on in the creation of the world before plants were created, before rain fell from the sky, before there was a human to take care of the ground (tilling, planting, cultivating)

-Text tells us that the watering/care of the earth was done from water under the ground

-It’s at that point that God forms the man “of dust from the ground.”

-Said last week that unlike the previous creation, animals are created from that which was already created

-God then breathes into him the “breath of life”

-This is a two-fold act of creation, first the man is created bodily/physically, then God breathes into him 

-Again, we’re going to be approaching Genesis from a biblical theology perspective, so another place this pops up is Ezekiel 37 where the prophet is taken to the valley of dry bones, and points us to the ultimate reality that unless God awakens human creatures they are walking around as people who are dead (Eph 2:10)

-Then we get to a specific location out of all of the creation that God is going to bestow his special blessing upon – Eden. 

-Typically referred to as the garden of Eden, but I hadn’t noticed until digging in this week that man doesn’t work/till the ground until the Fall in Genesis 3, so tilling the earth is part of the Fall, not part of the creation, if you look at vs. 9, a better description would be the ORCHARD of Eden.

-Eden is described as ‘in the east” east of what? Again, original context, east of where Moses is writing from, the Promised Land of Israel. 

-Also looks like Adam was created from the ground somewhere outside, then Eden was created as a place for Adam, Adam is brought in and put there.

-Then notice some descriptions about the garden:

-“pleasant to the sight.” Just as I encouraged you last week, have you ever thought about why things are beautiful? They have no intrinsic evolutionary advantage! Have you ever been to a westward facing beach when the sun’s setting? Waves rhythmically kissing the sand, each second you see a new color in the sunset. Or been in the mountains of Colorado as the sun is rising?

-Even music! I was a music guy for 10 years before I came here, people get emotionally invested in music! Again, there is no intrinsic value to it, no evolutionary advantage, but we still have it! 

-God literally baked beautiful artistry into the created order. Food can be beautiful to look at! If you’ve ever been to a hibachi grill you know what I’m talking about. Food there becomes a work of art! That creativity comes from a creative God.

-2 trees are singled out for specific attention:

-The tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

-First, these trees are in the middle of the garden. I read some really interesting things about the garden, their significance and purpose this week. One person said that was done so the middle of Adam’s world was not himself, but life, the very presence of God. Tied into that looking at some of the Hebrew words used (specifically in 3:22, which we’ll study next week, says if you eat of the tree of life, you’ll live forever”) One commentator argues this should be translated as “perpetual life” meaning regular eating of the fruit counteracts the effects of aging. Here’s what’s crazy – even science today would argue that’s true! There are some foods we can eat that help our bodies remain in good health, let’s be honest though, they generally don’t taste as good as the foods that kill us! I still remember listening to one pastor who shared his love for bacon, got confronted by a member in his church because bacon will kill you, and he said “Fine! I’ll go to heaven and hang out with Jesus full of bacon!” We’ll look closer at the second tree in vs. 17, all I’ll say now is “good and evil” is used throughout the Bible as a merism, referring to all knowledge, not JUST good & evil

-Last thing from this section is the description of waters and fine metals. Eden is viewed as the source from which all life flows out – look at the language: “flowed OUT OF Eden” Since water is required for life, Eden is the source of that life. While we often read this as a geographical location, it’s more meant to say ALL life finds it’s source in Eden, 4 waters spreading out to cover the 4 corners of the earth. We also see the fine stones/metals that were there. 

-Biblical theology: where else in the Bible do we see a land with a river flowing through it and precious metals being found in it? Revelation 21-22

-The Garden in Eden is being described as a temple where God’s people can live in perfect relationship with Him. Now we know what’s coming next week, so we today can long for that ‘Paradise Lost’ to quote John Milton, but we’re getting a little bit ahead of this story!

-This garden/orchard has boundaries (it wasn’t the whole earth) and it’s specifically created FOR the fulfilment and enjoyment of the man. (enjoyment because the trees were “pleasant to the sight”) not mere pragmatic value. Let’s look at the man

  • The Man’s Role (15-17)

-Remember Adam was formed/fashioned somewhere else, then brought to this garden that was specifically created for him to flourish.

-The word translated “put” in vs. 15 is from the word we saw last week: rest. Connotation of “settled” so just as God rested from his work, so the man is rested/settled into his garden.

-Then the man is given a job: to work and keep the garden.

-Garden of Eden isn’t an all-inclusive resort, sipping an Arnold Palmer in the sun being waited on by the animals. Work is good! Work is a gift from God. Work means we join with God in the ordering of the creation. Some people translate that “work” as “serve,” or “worship.” Throughout the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) it’s used to describe how we work and worship in the service of the Lord. Do you view your work as worship?

-We know that we live “east of Eden” today and our work is much much harder than it was intended to be, but work is still a good thing. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Your work is meant to be an act of worship to God – we join with God in bringing order to the chaos around us, we all should be contributing to the furthering of good and human flourishing and fighting against the darkness. But I’d take that a step further and tie in some NT ideas to be salt and light in your various vocations. Take some time this week and think about this question: how can I use my job to worship God and point others to Him? Maybe it’s setting a reminder on your phone to pray a couple times a day. Maybe it’s bringing your Bible and reading it during lunch. Maybe it’s as simple as being a hard, reliable, and dependable worker who works hard to get along with everyone with whom you work. Whatever it is, God has sent you to your job to be his witness. 

-I think it’s also true that our work, when we find the unique ways God has wired and gifted us, our work ends up feeling more like rest.

-Second word: keep. Guard, observe, watch over. Most often used for keeping God’s commands and obeying God’s Word. Once again, there’s this pictures that God through Moses are painting in these opening chapters of Genesis that are laying the foundation for how we as humans are meant to operate and view the rest of the created order. God creates the world perfectly for us to flourish, then we join with him in continuing to push back against the chaos, darkness, and disorder, working/serving and keeping the world He created. 

-But what does the keeping mean without a command? Two-fold, first a positive, then a negative.

-Positive: surely you may eat of every tree. Negative: at least every tree except one. One leads to life, one leads to death. That’s the same theme we saw throughout the Psalms: 2 ways to live, one leads to life and one leads to death. So many of the themes we see in the Bible and our world today are seen in these opening pages. If humans were to choose to eat from the forbidden fruit, in that day they will die. They will experience separation from God, physically and spiritually.

-This is all background to focusing on the man. The stage is set, the garden is prepped, the work is given, the command is in place (both positively and negatively) and then the drama continues because there is a problem.

  • The Man’s Helper (18-25)

-First instance of “not good” Remember I shared last week, tov maod, but in this case God uses my motto for Hebrew: lo tov – not good! Even living in paradise in perfect communion with God and every tree producing fruit in abundance isn’t enough for the man. 

-Think of how caring this God is. Contrary to other world religions where humanity is created to do the work of the gods, God partners with us in continuing to carry out His task. Not left to our own devices or ideas to try to figure out what we should be doing in the world. He gives us food, a job, provision, and now he’ll go above and beyond in giving the man a “helper fit for him.” Before we talk about the contemporary significance of that, let’s walk through the whole section.

-Remember back in Genesis 1, God is the one naming the creation, so He calls light “day” and darkness “night”, expanse “Heaven,” dry land “Earth” waters “seas” 

-The man is called to name the animals God created. Think of this beautiful parade of all creatures great and small being trotted in front of him, and he gets commissioned from God to name them all. It’s almost as if God is showing off and sharing everything He made! Just as God naming His creation shows his rule/reign over that creation, in this case God is sharing that rule/reign with the man. 

-Prophet/priest/king – This is God giving the man a kingly role. Priest is found in the “Serving and keeping” just like the priests are to serve and keep the temple, prophet is obeying and keeping the commands of God. 

-Despite this man naming everything, there was no creature made that was a helper fit, or corresponding to him. Which means God’s final act of creation here is to bring relationship to the human race. 

-Last week I shared that men and women together are created in the image of God, one gender by itself is insufficient in imaging God into the world. 

-First time the proper name is used is in this verse. “The man” is called Adam. (thought to be pointing back to the ground, the adama from which he was taken)

-God is going to perform surgery on Adam to create his helper. Literally in the Hebrew God takes from Adam’s side – some have argued God took his WHOLE side and fashioned woman from her, but rib also works. 

-God leads the first ever wedding ceremony, bringing the woman to the man, and the man cannot believe it! He breaks out in song, leading to his progeny attempting to use song to woo women from that point forward.

-Says “Woah, man!” I mean, WOMAN. Just as “Adam” is similar to adama, woman is isha man is ish. They correspond to each other. Man and woman are interconnected, that is the way God has intended men and women to function. We are not completed with just 1 gender, God created us for community.

-This section ends with what one commentator described as “leave, cleave, and weave.” 

-Leave: a man shall leave his father and mother. A new family unit is formed in marriage that didn’t exist before. Does not merely mean physical separation, as in this context the new couple would often move back in with his parents to carry on the family trade.

-Cleave: (hold fast) the primary allegiance moves from your immediate family to your new spouse

-Weave: become one flesh. Your life completely changes! At our overseer meeting this week we were sharing how our lives were radically different before we were married. Hate to share this, but some of our overseers cooking skills are limited to the buttons on the microwave – some of them needed to be single longer!

-Ends with both man and woman being “naked and were not ashamed.” More than just lack of clothing, nothing is hidden from each other, there is complete understanding, care, concern for each other with no shame of being “found out” or “exposed” to be something you’re not. No facades, no trial in their relationship, a state we won’t ever fully experience until we’re in eternity.

-So what does this section mean for us on this side of the Fall, yet redeemed people?

Gender roles – This passage appears again in 1 Timothy 2 with Paul’s description of roles/function in the church. Can’t dig in too far – but I am a convinced complementarian, meaning there are distinct roles/gifts for men/women in the church to fulfill. Just as there is distinction in the rest of creation (light/dark, sea/land) there is distinction between men & women that sets the stage for how we are to fulfil our cultural mandate:

-“helper” may not be the best word for us today because we tend to view it as subservient to, can be thought of as companion, or counterpart. Eve fills in where Adam is lacking, and Adam fills in where Eve is lacking. But it’s also important to know that throughout the OT this word ezer is most often used in connection with God as our helper, or companion

Cultural mandate – John Frame: “Man’s responsibility to fill and subdue the earth is sometimes called the cultural mandate. That language brings out the fact that man’s task is one of turning the earth into a habitat for man, one suited to the needs and purposes of man. This task involves not only the cultivation of crops for food, but also the arts, sciences, and literature, by which human life becomes more than mere subsistence. And at the deepest level, man’s labor has the goal of bringing praise and glory to God. So he is to structure his life and culture according to God’s standards.”

Basically, man is to extend Eden’s borders to fill the whole earth

Blessing in/through the church. Adam’s role sets the stage for authority for all humans: prophet, priest, king (authority, presence, control) Now the church is meant to recapture that same call of prophet as we speak God’s Words to each other, priest as we implant ourselves among each other in a specific place, and king as we work hard as for the Lord and not for man bringing God’s ordering out of the chaos into our various spheres of influence.

-“creation itself was not complete until there was community, Adam needing eve before humanity was whole. God never works with individuals in isolation, but always with people in community.” Peterson, A Long Obedience, 177 

-One of the ways we are a blessing is by working hard for God, as Col. 3:23 reminds us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” A little Monk named Brother Lawrence decided to live this way, using everything he did as a means of blessing others and God. He described this pursuit in a letter saying “I decided to sacrifice my life with all its pleasures to God. But He greatly disappointed me in this idea, for I haver met with nothing but satisfaction in giving my life over to Him.” 

Philippians 4:2-9 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.

Gentle and Lowly

Philippians 4:2-9 (571)

Intro:

-It’s hard to believe 9/11 was 20 years ago. I still remember the clothes I was wearing that day! I saw a couple FB posts yesterday that talked about wishing we could go back to how unifying September 12, 2001 was.

-The reality is, we’re in a VERY different cultural moment than we were in 2001. (not just in the clothes people are wearing!) We, as Christians, need to take some to evaluate where we’re putting our stock, because there’s some things that we need to be ALL IN on, and others that we need to let go of completely.

-Listening to a podcast on Monday that struck me like a load of bricks: we as Christians are called to be gentle.  

READ/PRAY

-Theme of the letter in 1:25-26 “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,”

-Today, we would call this a “missionary letter,” Paul helped plant the church, they sent him to continue planting churches, he writes to inform them how he’s doing, how he’s still praying for them, and remind them of the truth of the gospel and the implications of that Good News.

-Quick primer if you haven’t been here, the gospel is what compels everything we do. In 1 Cor. 15 Paul calls the gospel that which is of “first importance,” but the gospel also compels us to live in certain ways. The gospel is the means by which we are saved, and the means by which we are sanctified (DEFINE)

-If you’ve here and you’ve never heard the gospel before, 4 words: God, man, Christ, response.

2 Cor. 5:14 says it this way “the love of Christ controls/compels us.” The gospel, as demonstrated in Christ’s love, compels us to live in some specific ways that are contrary to our human/sinful nature.

2 Cor. 5 is also one of Pastor Bruce’s favorite passages to talk about growing like Christ – it goes on to talk about the need for reconciliation. 

-One of the implications of that reconciliation to God is it compels us to reconciliation with each other, which is exactly what Paul talks about in the first 2 verses of this section.

  1. Reconciliation (2-3)

-One quick note before we dig in:

-First, these letters were read in the corporate gathering of the church! And Paul had the audacity to call out 2 people by name! How would you feel if in the middle of the church service, I get up and start talking about a conflict you’re having with someone else?

-First thing to note is how little information Paul gives us. Apparently this conflict was a big enough deal that everyone knew what he was talking about.

-Can’t be doctrinal (look at the end of vs. 3)

-Notice how gently Paul asks: doesn’t shame them (apart from having their names read in the whole church), doesn’t call down his apostolic authority, doesn’t demean them “entreats” them. Think of Proverbs 15:1 “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” We’ll look at that a little more in the next section.

-Paul doesn’t even give much help, just “agree in the Lord.” Isn’t that overly simplistic? But sometimes, just an urge to “agree in the Lord” isn’t enough.

-Look at vs. 3

-When, in the midst of conflict, it can be nearly impossible to push through it on your own. That’s where bringing a 3rd party in can help both sides start to see/hear the other sides’ perspective. 

-It often seems that, in conflict/disagreements, we neglect the Bible’s command: be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry (James 1:19). 

-This is also a time where we need to remember Jesus’ commands in Matt. 18 – if you’re brother/sister in Christ has sinned against you, GO TO THEM! Then, if after going to them, bring someone else along, then if that doesn’t work, bring 1 or 2 other people along, then if that doesn’t work, go to the leadership of the church, but it BEGINS with 1 on 1, not quitting, not giving up, not gossiping or getting other people involved. GO TO THEM.

-This is true in churches too. There are legitimate reasons to leave a church, I’ve heard some doozie! But most of the time it’s because we’re not being obedient to the biblical command to “live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18)

-A couple other notes about this: 

-Reconciliation is not just “get over it” and pretend as if nothing happened. It’s talking, sharing your hurts and difficulties and doing your best to understand where the other person is coming from. It’s not jumping to conclusions based on what you heard! A pastor friend who works for a peace making ministry said we need to “listen to understand.” 

-Reconciliation is not done at the expense of the truth. There are legitimate times to divide from people who are preaching/living in ways that run contrary to the gospel. But notice the orientation of this agreeing: IN THE LORD. So important to have a theological triage. CS Lewis had a great analogy about this in Mere Christianity: orthodox Christianity brings you into a Great Hall which has various side rooms for the differing denominations/theological traditions, fun places to go sit in for a bit, have a chat, then come back to the feast in the great hall! When we come back to the Lord as the foundation for everything else, all these other issues seem trivial. He who has been forgiven much forgives much. 

-Lastly, the verb Paul uses here “agree” appears back in Philippians 2:5. Paul is pointing Euodia and Syntyche to “agree” about the mind of Christ.

-Because of that we are to:

-Not look at ourselves as having a high station

-Empty/humble ourselves

-We don’t get exaltation without humiliation

-Carson, “Personal differences should never become an occasion for advancing your party, for stroking bruised egos, for resorting to cheap triumphalism, for trimming the gospel by appealing to pragmatics. Focus on what unites you: the gospel, the gospel, the gospel.” (129)

-When we have reconciliation, it is going to look like us living/operating in some specific ways:

  • The Heart of Christ (4-7)

-This section is a list of characteristics that should be true in the life of every believer.

  1. Rejoice

-Because of the reconciliation that is found in Christ, we can rejoice, when? ALWAYS. So important that he says it twice! Again, doesn’t that feel kind of naïve? 

-Feels like he’s asking us to be Pollyana, running around acting as if everything is always 100%, no issues, no problems, I’m just happy all the time. Like the Pharrell Williams song “Because I’m happy: Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” No matter what I’ll be happy and clappy with a smile 24/7. You almost want to say that’s cute Paul, but have you seen my life?
-But Paul doesn’t just say “rejoice” and then leave us to figure it out – our rejoicing has an orientation: IN THE LORD. Church, you and I are blood bought precious saints in the sight of the Lord. God brought us from death to life, God has seated us in the heavenlies with Him! If you can’t hear those truths and rejoice somethings wrong!

-D.A. Carson Basics for Believers: “If we fail to respond with joy and gratitude when we are reminded of these things, it is either because we have not properly grasped the depth of the abyss of our own sinful natures and of the curse from which we have been freed by Jesus or because we have not adequately surveyed the splendor of the heights to which we have been raised.” (130)

-When Paul came to Philippi to plant the church, do you remember what happened? He and Silas are jailed, chained to the wall, and they SING! That’s someone who is filled with joy! 

-That’s where Paul can say “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” When he’s thrown in prison he sings and then leads the jailer to the Lord! How frustrating was Paul to the works of Satan? How frustrating to Satan is your joy?

  • Gentleness

-I have no clue why, but this verse had never stuck out to me before! This is where I love reading the Bible over and over again, it will always meet you where you’re at and then work to conform/change you to become more like Christ.

-This word translated “reasonableness” is somewhat difficult to translate, includes things such as: non-insistence, yielding, kind, courteous, tolerant, clemency. This difficulty can be seen in the way the various translations state this phrase.

-One quick note: we NEVER tolerate/are gently with sin! What we are to tolerate is people who are “working out their salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12) John Owen: “be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

-What are you known for? Your position at work? The car you drive? Your kids? What are people’s first description when they hear your name? In Acts 4:36, there’s a guy named Joseph, who was so encouraging, he was given the nickname Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” What we as Christians, and as a whole church are meant to be known as is: gentle. When you are wronged, respond with gentleness. When you are frustrated, respond with gentleness. When you are angry, respond with gentleness. When you are happy (or joyful), respond with gentleness. 

-Do you think when the world looks at the church their first thought is gentleness? Google search: “what is the most judgmental religion.” 

-I’ll confess, the world seems to be getting crazier and crazier. Saw a post this week that said “do you like post-apocalyptic movies? Well you’re in one now!” Talked to someone this week who said they felt like it the world was coming to an end, and how should we as Christians respond? With gentleness. 

-I’m not saying don’t have convictions, but keep them in their proper order. Politics is dominating so many conversations today, and I’ll be honest, it feels like both the Right and the Left are going crazy! There are people in this room that vote differently than me, every election cycle I pray their candidate loses! But those are issues for outside of here, here inside the church we need to leave the crazy at the door, and come in here to be reminded to be gentle toward each other. The gospel means I need to move toward, not away from, someone who disagrees with me. That’s what Jesus did! Have you ever looked at Jesus’ list of disciples? This astonishes me! In the same group of 12 he had: Simon the zealot, and Matthew the tax collector. The zealots viewed it as their job to kill anyone who was colluding with the enemy, AKA a tax collector! Now I don’t think most people on either side of the political aisle today have gone THAT far! But when the love of Christ compels us, political ideologies fall away compared the beauty of the gospel! Have those conversations and LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND with GENTLENESS.

-Screwtape Letters, #7: “I had not forgotten my promise to consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep. Other ages, of which the present is one, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them. Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the “Cause” is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the Enemy’s own purposes, this remains true. We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique. The Church herself is, of course, heavily defended and we have never yet quite succeeded in giving her all  the characteristics of a faction; but subordinate factions within her have often produced admirable results, from the parties of Paul and of Apollos at Corinth down to the High and Low parties in the Church of England.”

-Extremism to anything other than Christ is a lie from the pit of hell that we need to repent of in order to pursue Jesus’ heart towards us: gently and lowly.

-I LOVE theology, a love a good theological debate/discussion, I have at times made my theology my god, and it makes a bad god: let’s go back to God, how He’s revealed Himself in His Word, and live in the community he’s called us to. We do not fight against flesh and blood.

-1 person I was listening to about this idea this week said “The news feed of heaven is very different from the news feed of earth.” What makes the headlines of heaven? When someone moves from death into life, when you grow in gentleness.

-What would it look like for us to take this command seriously and work to grow in gentleness in every one of our responses? Paul actually tells us how we can do that!

-It begins by this throwaway comment: the Lord is at hand. God is near! That’s why we let our gentleness be seen by everyone, it’s not our gentleness, it’s God’s gentleness being demonstrated THROUGH us. “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)

  • Do not be anxious

-Do you ever get anxious about what’s going on around us? I was at a conference Indianapolis in April when most Twin City suburbs were put under a curfew. I couldn’t head home to make sure my family was safe, I was anxious! Goodness, just scrolling through FB or a news feed is enough these days to make me anxious! Once again, it feels like Paul is being unreasonable. Have you seen the world? Is this even possible?

  • Pray to God

-This is how we’re not anxious, when we start to worry/fret/become despondent, we bring it all to God.

-I’ve shared this before, but your knee jerk reaction as a Christian is supposed to be to pray! This is especially true when you start to feel anxious. 

-It’s not just suck it up, it’s not pull yourself up by your bootstraps, it’s not squelch your emotions, it’s casting them on the Lord, because He cares for you. Martin Luther: “pray and let God worry.”

-This means of dealing with anxiety leads us to:

  • Eternal peace

-I’ve often heard this verse used without the context to tell people to just chill out. You’ll have the peace of God, so you don’t need to worry! But the only way we get to this peace is by crying out to God, because He cares for us! 

-This peace comes only by living out and believing the truths from the rest of this section. We rejoice all the time, we always respond in gentleness, when we start to feel anxious/worried we cry out to God, then we will be peace filled people.

-I want you to notice 1 thing about this list: compare it to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Joy, peace, gentleness, kindness between Euodia and Syntyche 

-These fruit are not meant to be understood in isolation from each other. Fruit is singular: we are supposed to demonstrate each one of these characteristics. None are optional!

-The last thing about this peace is that it’s what guards our hearts and minds. Even the way we think is meant to be gentle.

  • Dwell on This (8-9)

-Look at this laundry list: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellence, worthy of praise. Are those the things you are thinking about/dwelling on daily?

-Let’s flip it, do you instead dwell on things that are untrue, dishonoring, unjust, impure, unlovely, not commendable, wallowing in mediocrity, worthy of criticism.

-When you have nothing else to do/focus on, where does your mind go?

-God loves you so much, he even cares about your thought life. I think of Col. 3:16 “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” There is nothing better than dwelling on the Word of Christ! I gave the overseers some new homework this week: Bible memorization, next month we’re going to be reciting Phil. 4:4-7 to each other. Ask us how we’re doing with it! Join us in soaking/meditating/dwelling on these words!

-That’s actually what Paul says in vs. 9. You have people in leadership here to set an example for you. What you have learned from us, received from us, and then heard and seen, practice them. Get busy rejoicing, being gently, praying, and dwelling on the things of Christ.

-This is the kind of church I want to be a part of! Because we are commanded to be gentle, one person described the church as shock absorbers. As new people/unbelievers come in here who are stirred up/agitated about the state of our world, can you be gentle enough to absorb them into our midst and help them grow in gentleness? This is what Christ calls us to as a church! Putting on the mind of Christ, and responding with gentleness and lowliness. Today is September 12, but it’s 2021, not 2001, and the only way for us to see the same sense of comradery that we want to see again is by growing in gentleness. This is what Christ died for us to do: to demonstrate Him to everyone around us. Let’s roll towards that goal in all of our lives!

Psalm 10 – 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.

Where Did You Go?

Psalm 10

Intro:

-Major theme we’ve seen through these first 10 Psalms is there’s 2 ways to live: for/against the Lord.

-Way of the wicked/way of the blessed – Psalm 1

-way of the world/the way of the Lord – Psalm 2

-Today we’re going to be looking at that exact same theme: the way of the wicked or the way of those who are blessed/following God

READ

PRAY

  1. The Distance of God (1)

-Anyone who has been a Christian for a decent amount of time has gone through a season of questioning where God is.

-Pastor Bruce (and now Micah!) and I have been talking a lot recently about this “deconstruction” idea that seems to be running rampant in the church right now.

-Each generation, it seems, has a time period in which people start leaving the faith claiming that God isn’t real, that God doesn’t work in their lives, that they “tried” God out and he didn’t come through

-Augustine/Anselm of Centerbury “believe so that you may understand.” 

-What can the unbeliever know about God? Some things (common grace, the created order) but what I want to keep saying to those I read who are “deconstructing” is: have you actually been trusting in the one true God, or have you been looking at him as a way to get what you want? 

-Think of the parable of the sower that Jesus tells in Matt. 13, seed scattered on: path, rocky ground, thorns, good soil. Rocky ground is described as “this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” So why are we surprised when we see things taking place around us that Jesus told us would happen?

-This distance idea is a real thing! God at times will feel far away, even David, the man after God’s own heart struggled with feelings of isolation. 

-Brother/sister: when you feel like God has abandoned you, the first thing to remember is that is normal! Every relationship has ups/downs, seasons of closeness/intimacy and seasons of distance/indifference.

-One big difference though is in our relationship with God, one of those 2 people is perfect, which is why one of the things I first learned about God as a kid is God will never leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6) or what we’re trying to teach our kids: when I am afraid I will trust in God. (Psalm 56:3)

-We also need to remember: theologically, one of the first things we learn, God is omnipresent (omnis are some of the basic ways to remember the incommunicable attributes of God, we are all finite, God is infinite)

-Grudem “The doctrine that God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.”

-God’s manifest presence vs. omnipresence

-Distance is acutely felt in the “valley of the shadow of death” or “dark night of the soul” but in those seasons we need to think back to what we know to be true about God. 

-Reading a book about discipleship this week, “We shout doctrine in the light so that we can whisper it in the dark.”

-This is getting to what I talked about last week on the need for discipleship: 2 tracks of our “train” in growing as a Christian: life and doctrine. Need both! 

-Think back to what I’ve shared about a see-saw in relation to doctrine. If you emphasize only life you end up with a bunch of Christians who love their neighbor but don’t love God, if you emphasize only doctrine you end up with a bunch of people who love God but neglect to love their neighbor. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Need doctrine to preach to ourselves, but we need to live out the doctrine we believe so the world can see that we’re different! 

-That’s the only way we will survive when the difficulties/struggles of life come our way, and they are guaranteed to come! I’ve shared this quote a couple times, but I still think it bears repeating: D.A. Carson How Long, O Lord? “The truth of the matter is that all we have to do is live long enough, and we will suffer.” In those times/seasons, push into your family, the church, come and be reminded that Jesus comes to walk with us in the midst of those difficulties, that Jesus came to bear our sorrows, lay them at HIS feet, because He cares for you.

-Think about this truth from Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heave laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

-Only place in all 4 Gospels where Jesus reveals his heart, his innermost self, and we could spend, we WILL spend eternity plumbing the depths of that idea!

-Brother/sister WHEN you are struggling, WHEN you are heavy laden, WHEN you world feels like it is falling apart, come to Jesus, he’ll take the burden and give you a light one because he is gentle and lowly in heart.

-But what do we do when it seems like those not following Jesus are flourishing?

  • The Depravity of the Wicked (2-11)

-There are 5 characteristics David gives us on the depravity of the wicked: arrogance, wealth, longevity, sinful speech, and violence. We’ll work through them one by one.

-It’s important to remember that these descriptions are from an earthly/human perspective, but that doesn’t always reflect the greater spiritual reality. Often a tendency for us to focus exclusively on how it affects the physical reality, and neglect to remember there’s a greater reality going on around us.

-Think of a passage like Eph. 6:12 “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So as we read these items, this is how it appears to us in our natural human state. 

-First, arrogance (2-4)

-Notice who is the object of this arrogant spirit: the poor. The marginalized, those who have no voice to fight for themselves. Throughout history, those who most often bear the brunt of the sin of a culture, people group are the poor. 

-Lady at my first church (Cheyenne) who is now with the Lord, who was on welfare. Worked at a gas station making minimum wage, ministry of sending cards. One Christmas season she found some supplemental income doing seasonal work, showed up on her taxes and she lost her low-income housing, only house she could afford. Someone at church bought her a little house and rented it to her for the same price she was paying for her low income house, but she’d never have to move or worry about how much money she was bringing in. That was really eye opening to me! Yes, always people who are scamming the system, but there’s also those that are dependent on “the system” to survive, and for those of us who are in Christ, we’re called to love and care for those people who are in our midst. Acts 2 reminds us that in the early church there were no needy people. None. I get to see some of the ways this happens in our church! Benevolence fund, rides for people who need it, sharing medical equipment with others who can’t buy it. That’s a marker of someone who is not arrogant! 

-Now, notice the implication of how this arrogant, wicked person lives in vs. 3 by pursuing this sinful way of life, he renounces the Lord, he lives as an atheist proclaiming “there is no God.”

-That’s just the first marker! 

-Second, wealth (5)

-Again, remember this is merely from a humanistic perspective. From all external appearances, everything he does is prospering.

-Compare this with Psalm 1, describing the blessed man who obeys God. So which is it? Is the wicked prospering at all times, or is the blessed one who is obeying God? Spiritually, the blessed one is prospering all the time. 

-The underground church is Kabul was martyred last week. From all earthly/worldly appearances the blessed ones are not prospering and the wicked seem to have the upper hand.

-In the midst of this complaint, David remembered that God is the one true judge. God’s judgments are on a completely different level than the wicked, the wicked can’t even begin to grasp it! That gives us comfort, even in the midst of persecution/suffering! God and the wicked aren’t even playing the same game! God’s playing chess while the wicked think they’re winning by playing checkers

-As if that’s not enough, while he’s stuck playing checkers, he says that he has:

-Third, Longevity (6)

-Let’s be honest here, how many generations does it often take for people to forget your name? 2? Now maybe there are some people that change the course of human history (Jesus, Nero, Napoleon, Hitler come to mind) but for most of us, our life is a vapor and we’re forgotten shortly after we die. And even those names that I mentioned, how many of them built a kingdom that is still lasting? 1. So we know that’s not true! 

-Fourth, Sinful speech (7)

-Look at all these things that come out from him! This language demonstrates what is in his heart (“out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” Matt. 12:34) we also know from James 3 that the tongue is powerful. How many of you have lasting wounds because of a single sentence someone said to you?

-Paul even picks up this language in Rom. 3 to talk about the evidences for no one being righteous. Do your words reveal you to be the blessed one, or the wicked one?

-Last, violence (8-11)

-Look at all the ways he looks to pursue violence. He intentionally targets the poor and helpless. This is the antithesis of God who intentionally seeks to raise the poor/helpless. Think of that video I showed a few weeks back on the biblical concept of “justice.” What we seek to do with our positions of influence is lower ourselves to someone else, so that we can then build them back in Christ. 

-This is where the gospel intersects with these ideas. Jesus condescended to our level. Jesus came from the highest level possible (heaven/perfection) and lowered himself to our level so that we could be raised with him to the highest level possible. 

-Look at how this section ends in vs. 11 “He will never see it.” God sees everything. Every pain you feel, every misspoken word against you, every time you’re mistreated, God sees every single moment of every single day, and his heart toward you is gently and lowly. 

-That’s where this Psalm doesn’t end with the focus on the wicked, no, the wicked are nothing compared to God!

  • The Response of God (12-18)

-Because God sees everything, David (and we too!) can call on God to arise and deal with the injustice and brokenness we see around us. 

-David calls on God to bring about in the physical realm the spiritual realities that are happening around us. (14) God sees it so that he can take matters into his own hands, the helpless are to commit themselves to God (14), God will help the fatherless, and ultimately break the arm of the wicked (that is to take away their power)

-We today can pray that the wicked and evildoers come to an end. Even if we don’t see the implications of their wickedness on earth, we know that they will be punished for their sins.

-David ends on a high note here: where the wicked think they will have an everlasting reign, God really does reign as king forever and ever. Everyone else will perish, but God won’t.

-Because God is a sovereign (and perfect) king, he’ll hear and strengthen the afflicted, he will enact lasting, perfect justice as opposed to the “mere people” of earth

-What are we supposed to do when we’re in exile as the people of God? When it seems like the wicked are thriving and we’re not?

Jeremiah 29:4-9 

-Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce.

-You’re going to be there for a while (how long does it take to build a house?) 

-Gardens take at least 4 months to bear produce, and then to do that annually means it’s something to dig into and look for ways to flourish where you are.

-Seek to grow your families. One of the easiest ways for a community to grow is to have kids. Spend time with your family! I’ve been thinking a lot recently on the fact that my kids will have various teachers, friends, influencers in their lives, but I’m the only dad they’ve got. Parents: we have a job to do! But even if you’re not a parent, the other parents here need your help! We can’t do it alone!

-Seek the welfare of the city where I HAVE SENT YOU.

-Do you view your vocation as a place God has sent you? Do you view your house as a place God has sent you? Do you view your recreation as a place God has sent you? Schooling, shopping, eating, walking, working out. Every place you go you’re there for a reason. Salt and light.

-This is one of the primary ways we can stand strong against injustice and the feeling that God has abandoned us, by crying out to God, pushing into our church family that God has called us to, and working to see the flourishing where God has sent us. We know that the wicked won’t last forever!

-But until the wicked are dealt with, we still live on this earth. Until the wicked have their arms broken, we will still face difficulties, struggles, and maybe even persecution.

-There’s times in all of our lives where we are the wicked ones! So how do we respond when we realize that? Repent, cry out to God for help, push back into the church family God has given you, and get to work! 

-All of this serves as a picture of communion, because all of us are at times the wicked ones. We’re slow to seek God, we’re slow to seek justice, and we often act as if there is no God. But God doesn’t give up on any of us! He relentlessly pursues, continually loves, and continues working in our lives to draw us to Himself. That’s why we take communion – to remember that this world is not our home, that God dwells in all of us who are walking with the Lord.

Psalm 6 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.

Be Gracious To Me

Psalm 6 (pg. 255)

-NIVAC: Student keeping a prayer journal reading through these Psalms: “What is it with these psalmists anyway? They’re such a bunch of whiners!”

-Could you imagine singing these songs day in and day out? Definitely in the minor key!

-Another theme popping up in these Psalms, while we begin in sorrow/mourning, we don’t stay there long when we look up to God

-As we’ll see through this Psalm, there may be extended seasons of mourning, one’s entire life may be marked by mourning, but we can know and trust that God is still working

-2 notes for us today as we work our way through this Psalm:

-Window – look at it, or look through it? The Bible serves as a window, gives a framework for viewing all of life. Not bad to look at the window AT TIMES 

-A couple BAD examples: counting up the number of verse to figure out when Jesus will return. Magic 8 ball pick and choose random verses.

-A couple good examples: soaking, marinating, meditating on the Bible both big and small sections at a time. Using the Bible as a template for prayers.

-Seasons of life – your life will have seasons of wobble. Need to know which season you’re in and be strategic about what you’re devoting yourself too. What do you do when nothing seems to work?

-Dark night of the soul – nothing wrong with emotions, but being completely dependent on emotions is a problem. Many church services today tend to be centered on an emotional experience. Even seen some people have weekly “how was your worship EXPERIENCE this week?” Need an anchor for our soul (Heb. 6:14), that will keep us planted, focused, in place in the midst of life’s trials/difficulties 

READ
PRAY

  1. My Mourning (1-7)

-Vs. 0 – choirmaster, played with string instruments, Sheminith (lit. “the 8th) leading to people thinking it should be song an octave lower, or a different tuning of the instrument, sung in the minor key.

  1. Greatly Troubled (1-3)

-As we read, you can see this is another moment of desperation for David

-Almost as if David lived by the mantra: life’s hard, and then you die

-But life doesn’t have to be ONLY hard, there can be lasting joy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in

-Many scholars think this situation is referring directly to some sin David was caught in (if so, similar to Psalm 51 where David’s murder and adultery come to light) leading to a sickness 

-Based on the use of “rebuke me not” and “discipline” not a stretch to believe it’s in response to David’s sin

-“Heal me” in vs. 2 would point to sickness, in ANE sin and sickness were connected

-These 2 words have some interesting connotations:

-Rebuke – referring to legal argumentation, therefore tied closely to the concept of righteousness, or being in right standing. David is asking God to allow him to remain in right relationship and standing with God and others

-Discipline – refers to education and training. If you’ve got a dog you discipline them to get them potty trained, or if you’ve had kids you know you need to teach and train/discipline them to get them to figure out what’s wrong. Now there’s times/moments where you probably get angry with the lack of obedience/response – that’s the situation David is in now. He’s begging God to not respond to Him in anger or wrath

-We need to have a good understanding of God’s discipline in our lives. It is educational/equipping for a life of holiness. It seems that there’s a tendency to view God as wrathful/vengeful. Some have even accused God of being an egotistical maniac. God’s overarching desire is for everyone to be in right relationship with Him and others, and He will discipline to draw people to Himself. It’s not out of spite, it’s out of love. This is where we need to remember God is a good, kind, loving, caring Father, I’m guessing everyone here who had a dad (anyone not have one) was disciplined in some capacity.

-After dealing with the justice & righteousness of God, David shifts to other attributes of God: his gracious and healing nature.

-Be gracious – means “show favor” Despite being sick and caught in sin, David has the fortitude to STILL ask for God’s favor. Do you? The reality is: even when we’re sick, even when we’re in sin, God’s favor is still showered upon those of us who are in Christ. 

-David needs this favor because he is week, feeble, languishing on his own, desperate for some breakthrough

-Then he asks for his real need: healing.

-He says he needs healing for his bones are in trouble, he is too weak. Other places in the OT this phrase is translated “terrified out of one’s senses.”

-These bones are referring to the innermost physical self, but things could get even worse.

-His soul also is greatly troubled. NIV – “my soul is in deep anguish.”

-David’s entire world feels like it’s falling apart, but instead of running away from God, it’s spurring him to run TOWARD God

-Remember: read all these Psalms as a window through which we view the world around us, so when we feel desperate, like our world is utterly falling apart, we can still boldly come before God.

-Last thing we see in this section is a final cry of anguish: HOW LONG?

-Begins addressing God again, but can’t contain his exasperation 

-One thing we’ve seen throughout these Psalms is that God invites us to beg Him, plead with Him, repeat the same requests to Him, and while that’s true, I don’t think the same is true of us! It seems that many of us get tired of continually asking God for help, pleading and begging the same things over and over and over until the only prayer we have left is: how long?

-Part of the reason God allows times like this is to strip away our self-reliant tendencies. 

-When things are going well in our lives, we have a tendency to not give a second thought to God. We know God created us, saved us, but that was in the past, it’s up to me to get through today.

-Cannot fully appreciate/comprehend normal life until going through difficulty. One of the most striking examples of this in my lifetime was the difference between September 10 & 11 of 2001. From “normal” to “where was God?”

-Last thing from this section is from James Montgomery Boice:

-“Have you noticed how often in this psalm, even in the midst of his great anguish, David calls upon God? Five times in the first four verses. That is, once or more than once in each verse! And the name he uses for God is Jehovah, which characterizes God particularly as our Redeemer or Deliverer.”

-Movie Silence

  • Deliver Me (4-5)

-David shifts in this section to bartering with God (not the best idea, but when you’re desperate I supposed anything will do!)

-Longing for deliverance, for salvation. From desperation He realizes the only way He can be saved is through the grace of God

-And that remains true today as well! Even though we have a better understanding of germ theory, medicines, the way the body works, it is no less miraculous when God allows our bodies to be healed than it was 3,000 years ago.

-Notice how David approaches this plea: 

-Asking for deliverance because of the character of God: his steadfast love. That theme KEEPS popping up in the verses! Hebrew word chesed (חֶסֶד): covenant, lasting loving faithfulness that God extends to His people

-Then David gets to his bartering in vs. 5

-Once someone dies, David reminds God that they can no longer praise Him. And it’s true! Those who didn’t praise/worship God on this side of eternity will also not be praising God on that side of eternity. Brothers and sisters, what we’re doing right here and right now is meant to be a dress rehearsal for the final play: living in the new heavens and the new earth in perfect relationship with God and each other. But if there’s no one left on earth to praise Him, how will anyone else see or be made aware of these greater spiritual realities? 

-This is pointing us to the fact that God always has and always will have his chosen people who are specifically sent to represent Him to the rest of the world. I don’t know if David thought of this passage, but it reminded me of Moses’ encounter with God where the 10 commandments were delivered (The 1st time)

-Moses pleading with God in Ex. 32:7-14.

-Make a great nation out of you: don’t you think that would sound tempting? 

-Just as David does in this Psalm, Moses barters with God by pleading with Him regarding his character. Asks God what the world would think if Israel was spared from Egypt just to be destroyed in the desert.

-Same argument David is making here – appeals to God’s ultimate glory. If everyone is dead, no one will be left to praise Him. 

-Isn’t done because God is egotistical, isn’t done for spite, it’s done because God alone is worthy of our praise, He alone is the one to whom we should be orienting our entire lives towards, He alone is the one who can ultimately heal us. (soli deo gloria)

-The last section here David brings the focus back on himself because he is exhausted.

  • Exhaustion (6-7)

-This feeling is far beyond what a simple nap would cover. The Hebrew expression is David is swimming in his tears in his bed. His tears have cried tears, and those tears have their own set of tears. The guy is crying 24/7: where he sits during the day is drenched in tears, and where his bed has become a pool.

-I think at times we tend to treat these Psalms like the melancholy, depressed friend no one ever invites over. David is the Eeyore of his friend group here! And because these Psalms don’t hide behind facades, or safe language, we can at times wrestle with reading them. 

-Feel like you should tell him to “Man up! Dudes don’t cry!” But David doesn’t care, he’s letting it all out here!

-This is a good description of the “dark night of the soul.” The point at which you need to look back and remember how God has provided in the past because sometimes your history is all you’ve got. 

-Luther: “pray and let God worry” easier said than done!

-Another theme we’ve seen throughout these Psalms is that we need to be completely transparent before God. We can’t hide from Him, we can’t trick Him, so just let it all out!

-In vs. 7 David uses a weird (to us) phrase: singular: my eye wastes away.

-Way of referring to his physical health. Someone’s eyesight is still strong, they’re still full of life. As someone’s eyes for bad their health will go with it.

-Don’t know who his foes are, could just be from his physical sickness.

-The last thing to note about David’s exhaustion is that it demonstrates David’s trust in God:

-Luther: “no one who has not been profoundly terrified and forsaken and prays profoundly.”

-To say it another way, it takes trail and tribulation to learn to pray profound prayers, and we know this is true, because of the last characteristic about God:

  • The Lord Hears (8-10)

-Feels like David is bipolar, stark contrast between vs. 7-8.

-Whatever affliction David is walking through, in spite of swimming in his own tears, he knows God has heard and will respond.

-Still has the courage to demand anyone who does evil to leave him alone

-The reason David has this courage is rooted in God’s nature. Remember what David reminded himself of back in vs. 4: God’s steadfast love. His loving kindness extended to us! 

-Because of that loving kindness, God will answer & hear our plea, God will accept our prayers, because of the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit made possible by the atoning work of the Son to the glory of the Father.

-Remember, we saw last week that the Spirit will intercede for us even when we don’t have the words to say.

-Finally, we see that while David was initially ashamed and greatly trouble, his enemies will ultimately be the ones afflicted. 

-Since David is on God’s side, his enemies are God’s enemies, so lasting justice for all of them is what David’s asking for.

-Another way of saying this is: David is pleading for shalom, for true and lasting justice and peace.

-The “hello” of the Jewish people (even today) is the Hebrew word “shalom” which means everything is in its’ proper place and order. Just that first part is enough to want me to wish for it: everything is in its’ proper place. Anyone else ever lose their keys? 

-The difficult part is that won’t actually happen until Jesus returns, so until that day there will be times, seasons where we’re swimming in our own tears. So what do we do until Jesus comes back?

-We remember the man of sorrows who was languishing, the man whose bones and soul was greatly troubled. Who asked the Lord to deliver his life and was told no. Who sweat drops of blood when He looked at the suffering He was going to be experiencing. This Psalm is a description of what Jesus experienced in our place. We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus weeps with us. We can view our suffering and struggles through the window of Jesus, who uses our suffering to refine us and make us more like Him, for His own glory. That’s where we can have hope that Jesus hasn’t given up on us yet, and here’s the best part: He never will! Church, make sure you’re looking at your suffering through the right window!

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