Sunday, August 28, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "The LORD Is Still God."

“The LORD Is Still God.”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
Back 2 School Sunday :: August 28, 2016 :: 1 Kings 19:1-21  

This is Back 2 School Sunday, and it seemed appropriate to me for us to go BACK to 1 Kings.

Back to 1 Kings on Back 2 School Sunday.

Does anybody remember what was going on 1 Kings?

Well, we’ve met a lot of kings so far. In fact, we’ve met 13 different kings.

David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Abijah, Asa, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni (if you count him), Omri, and last and worst so far, Ahab.

Do you remember all of those guys?

A few of those kings were thumbs up guys, at least for part of their life.

But most of them were two thumbs down in the eyes of the LORD.

Especially this last one, King Ahab.

This guy was worse than everybody before him.

The author says that he “considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat.” So he married the wicked queen Jezebel and began to serve and worship Baal. He was the worst so far. Six thumbs down.

And it was during his reign that we began to hear another story being told. A story about a prophet named Elijah. The days of Ahab turned out to be the days of Elijah. Like we sang this morning.

Elijah had a tough job–to prophesy during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel.

They were prophet-killing-type rulers.

Jezebel especially hated the prophets of Yahweh and wanted them all dead.

So Elijah spent a lot of his ministry on the run. Hiding out from Jezebel’s hitmen.

But he didn’t hide all of the time. He also confronted the prophets of Baal.

First, he showed up one day and announced that it wouldn’t rain again until he said  it would. Remember that?

And they went more than 3 years without rain.

That’s because Baal was supposed to be the god of the storm.

But the LORD, Yahweh, had turned off the faucet.

Three years.

And then one day when the cattle dying, Elijah shows back up and calls for a contest to see who’s god is real. Who’s god lives. Who’s god is really God.

Remember this? They have a contest up on Mount Carmel. 450 prophets to 1. And they are still no match.

Because the Baal isn’t real. He doesn’t answer. He isn’t powerful. He is not God.

Do you remember what all of the people of Israel yell after the fire came from heaven and sucked up all of the water and the sacrifice and even the altar?

“The LORD–he is God! The LORD (Yahweh)–he is God!”

And then the rains came.

And Elijah, empowered by the LORD runs faster than Ahab’s chariot all the way to Jezreel.

That’s where left off last time.

“The LORD–he is God! Yahweh–he is God!”

Here’s the title of today’s message.

“The LORD is Still God.”

Yahweh is still God.

Even when it doesn’t seem like it.
Even when it hurts.
Even when we lose.
Even when we feel alone.
Even when we are discouraged.
Even when we are weary.
Even when it feels like nothing ever works.

The LORD is still God.

That’s the point of today’s message.

My guess is that some of us really need to hear it.

Because in chapter 19, Elijah–who has just won the biggest showdown of the prophets since Moses versus the Magicians of Egypt–Elijah is going to be significantly disappointed.

He has just won. Yahweh has sent the fire. Baal has been discredited, dishonored, and disgraced. The prophets of Baal have been put to the sword. The people are shouting, “Yahweh is God.” And Elijah has run with supernatural speed to confront Jezebel.

It’s even possible that now that Ahab has seen the power of the LORD with his own eyes, that he will repent and lead Israel to return to Yahweh. National revival may be on the way!

But none of that happens.

That’s not how it turns out.

In fact, it looks like all of this was for nothing.

Let’s read. Chapter 19, verse 1.

“Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’”

Wow. That’s a big change, isn’t it?

From running full tilt towards Jezebel in victory to running full tilt away from Jezebel in what felt like defeat?

That’s a big change in a very short amount of time.

Have you ever felt like Elijah?

“I’ve had enough, LORD. Take my life.”

This guy was depressed. He was despondent. He was heartsick. He was despairing.

Elijah was discouraged.

It seemed like it hadn’t worked.

All that stuff he’d been doing for the last how many years, and it didn’t change anything!

Ahab didn’t repent. He tattled. He didn’t Jezebel that Yahweh was God, and they were now going to follow Him.

He said just told her what happened and then let her do whatever she wanted.

And what she wanted was to go after Elijah.

There was no national revival.

Nothing changed!

The official religion of the royalty of Israel was still Baalism!

After all that?!

In the NIV, verse 3 says that Elijah was afraid, and it seems like he had good reason to be.

But the footnote says that the Hebrew could be translated, “Elijah saw.” I think that’s probably more likely.

Elijah saw the way things were and what was going to happen next.

And it was almost devastating to him.

He leaves his servant at Beersheba, I think that means he doesn’t expect to come back. And he finds a broom tree which is as desolate as it sounds and plops down and tells God that he’s ready to do.

“I’ve had enough, LORD. Take my life.”

He doesn’t want Jezebel to take to his life. He doesn’t want her to win. But he’s just played out. He doesn’t have anything left.

It feels like the game is over, and he’s lost it.

Have you ever felt like that?

I know you have.

Probably some of you are basically feeling that way today.

“I’ve had enough.”
“I did all of this, and it didn’t work.”
“Why has it turned out like this?”

I’m not sitting blessed under my vine and my fig tree (4:25).

I’m sitting depressed under a broom tree in the desert. And I just want to curl up and die.

I love it when we win.

When things are going great for other Christians.

Last week, we had a tremendous Good News Cruise. We prayed for it all Summer and did all of that work and we had a great turnout. And a little bit of rain. And so many affirmations from people that we had done a good job.

That felt good.  God is good! Amen?

What if it had rained all day long?
What if nobody had come?
What if all of those hotdogs and chips that Art had been stockpiling went bad and uneaten?
What if there had been an accident and somebody’s car got totaled in our parking lot?

There is no promise in Scripture that those things would not happen at our Good News Cruise.

And if they did, would the LORD still be God?


Losing the game.
Losing your savings.
Losing the culture war.
Losing your country.

I’ve been the pastor here for 18 years, and they’ve all been good years. Some harder than others. Some have been more fruitful.

But we’ve never seen great revival. Never seen an amazing spiritual awakening in our community.
And we’ve not seen national revival though we’ve prayed for it many times.

It’s easy to get discouraged.

“Nothing changes. It didn’t ‘work.’ I’m just so tired. I’ve had enough. Take my life.”

It’s times like that when we need to be reminded that LORD is still God.

Yahweh is still God.

Not just in the exciting times when we’re winning.

But after that when it doesn’t seem like anything has changed.

Four points this morning. Here’s number one.


“Then [Elijah] lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”

I love that. God is so good to Elijah. He’s so gentle and generous.

Elijah wants to die, but God gives him sleep, something warm to eat, something cool to drink, and an angel to deliver it.

God’s still good.

These may not be the things that Elijah wanted, but they were just what the doctor ordered. They were what Elijah really needed.

God’s still good.

And He’s always giving little gentle gifts to us even when things are at their worst.

Last week, Dan Kerlin’s brother was in that bad accident.

I texted him to find out how Murph was doing. He replied, “Pretty much the same, induced coma, brain bleed drain has been removed, lots of movement, still on vent. God is working in this situation.

I said “Thanks for the update. Praising and praying.”

And Dano wrote back, “Thank you. God is good all the time.”

He’s still good. Even in the worst of times, He’s still looking out for us and giving us little, gentle gifts of His grace.

In verse 7, we find out that this was the angel of the LORD Himself who was taking care of Elijah. And He’s got a new plan for him. V.7

“The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.”

Now, if you’ve read your Bible for a while, all kinds of bells and whistles should be going off in your head right now.

Forty days and forty nights? Remind you of anybody? Moses on Mount Sinai?

What’s the other name for Mount Sinai? Mount Horeb.

This is the place where God made the covenant with His people.

This is the place where they broke the covenant, and then He made it again.

This is the place, the mountain of God, where Moses asked God to show him His glory. In fact, this may be the very spot on “Covenant Mountain!”  (What Dale Ralph Davis calls Horeb.) V.9

“There he went into a cave and spent the night. [Is that the cleft in the rock? We don’t know.] And the word of the LORD came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

Now some people think that that’s big rebuke. Like God is saying, “And what do you think you’re doing here, mister?”

“Come for a little pity party, have we?”

And maybe there is a little bit of a rebuke there, but I don’t think much. Why is Elijah here? Because God told to him come here. V.7 indicates that, right? Elijah wanted to die in the desert. The LORD wanted him to eat up to take a forty day journey to Horeb.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Maybe God is saying, “Why do you think I have you here?”

It’s an invitation to trust Him.

Here’s Elijah’s answer. Tell me if you think he answers the question or not. V.10

“He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’”

Is that an answer?

Now many people think that Elijah is whining here. He’s just a big whiner. I heard a preacher once read verse 10 like this, “I have been very jealous for Yahweh and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!”

That’s a possible interpretation of this verse (and verse 14). And I think there is an element of complaint here. And some exaggeration. Elijah knows that his friend Obadiah has hidden 100 prophets in Israeli caves. He might be the only one who was public, but there were others.

But I think he’s mainly just pouring out his lament to the LORD.

“Lord, it hurts!
Lord, it didn’t work!
Lord, we lost!
Lord, it’s all falling apart!

I do love you, LORD. I’ve been very zealous. You know I have.

I’ve given my life to this work.

But it hasn’t been working.

And I’m just so tired. And I feel so alone.”

Have you ever been depressed for God’s sake? [I got this language from Dale Ralph Davis.]

Elijah is not just depressed for Himself. He hates what has happened to the name of the LORD.

The Israelites have rejected the covenant.
They have broken down the true altars and erected them to Baal.
They have put the true prophets to death and elevated their own.

This is not the way things ought to be!

Have you ever looked out on the world, and said, “Lord! This is not the way things ought to be. They are dragging your name through the mud. And it hurts me to see it.”

But even when that happens, the LORD is still God.  V.11

“The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”


I’m not sure all of the reasons why God puts on this fireworks display for Elijah.

I don’t think it’s to scare him or shame him.

“Oh yeah? You’re gonna whine like that? I’ll show you who’s still God!”

But it is probably to remind Elijah that God is still powerful.

He’s the same God who burned up that sacrifice yesterday.

And He’s the same God that set this whole mountain on fire when He gave the 10 commandments to Moses.

But more important than the demonstration of power is the still small voice of God.

The gentle whisper.

He’s not just like Baal the storm god. All flash and thunder supposedly but nobody really home.

He’s the speaking God.

The God who is there.

And He’s still speaking today.

What’s He saying to you?

He’s calling you to trust Him. V.13

“When Elijah heard [the gentle whisper], he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

[Do you know why you are here?]

He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’”

“I’m here because I belong to you.
I’m here because I love you.
I’m here because of your name.
I’m here because things aren’t working the way I thought they would.
I’m here because you have me here.

Same story as before.

I’m tired. It hurts. And I feel alone.

What do we do now?”

It’s possible that he’s whining. It’s possible that he didn’t learn anything from all of this.

It’s possible that God is rebuking Elijah by asking him the same question a second time.

But that’s not how it feels to me when I read it today.
It doesn’t feel like an accusation. It feels like an invitation.

And see what God does next?

He sends him on a new mission. V.15

“The LORD said to him, ‘Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.’”

You know what that feels like to me?

It feels like Yahweh says, “You’re right, Elijah. You have been very zealous for my name. They have broken the covenant. They have broken the altars. They have killed the prophets. And I’m not done yet.”

“I understand how you feel, but this story is not even close to being over.”


The LORD is still at work.

And He’s got more work for Elijah to do.

Now, we’ll find out that Elijah doesn’t have a lot more to do. He’s coming to the end of his fantastic ministry.

But God still has a job for him–anointing.

Anointing two kings and a new prophet.

Hazael over Aram. And he’s going to rain down judgment on Israel.

And Jehu to be the next king of Israel. And he’s going to rain down judgment on Baalism.

And Elisha to come alongside Elijah so he isn’t so lonely and so that someone else can take up and keep the work going.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“Let me tell you. You’re not here to die. You’re here to know that I’m still God and to know that I’m still at work. And to get back to work yourself.”

“I assure you that this story is not over. I assure you that Baal does not prevail. I assure you that you Ahab does not prevail. And you can bet the house that Jezebel does not win.”

“I am still at work. No matter how bleak it seems, I have not gotten even close to quitting.”


God always keeps His promises.


I love verse 18. Because Paul quotes it in Romans chapter 11. Remember that?

“Did God reject his people? By no means! [Paul says,] I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.  God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah–how he appealed to God against Israel: ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me’? And what was God's answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’”

There is always a remnant.

Even if the nation goes down in flames and exile.

God always keeps His promises and always preserves a remnant for Himself.

Because He is still faithful.

And that calls for us to trust Him.

Trust Him for salvation.

God has promised to save all of who will trust in Jesus.

Jesus died and rose again to save sinners like you and me.

And God promises to save us if we will turn from our sins and put our faith in Jesus and Him alone.

The LORD is faithful, and He will do it.

Trust Him. And follow Him by faith.

Seek His kingdom.

That’s what Elijah does. He gets up right from there and goes right back to work.

I’m not saying that he doesn’t still hurt. I’m sure he does.

None of this erases the pain. But He’s heard from God. God is still working and still has a job for him, and God is faithful. So Elijah goes back to seeking His kingdom.

He goes to find Elisha. V.19

“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him [Swack. Gotcha!]. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,’ he said, ‘and then I will come with you.’ ‘Go back,’ Elijah replied. ‘What have I done to you?’ [Sounds good. No problem. Go say goodbye, and off we go. V.21] So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.”

That’s burning your bridges right there. Or burning your beef, at least.

No turning back, no turning back.

“Bye Mom! Bye Dad! I’m off to seek the kingdom of Yahweh, with His prophet Elijah!”

How do you burn your bridges like that?

How do you give up everything and throw a feast then follow, follow, follow?

You believe that the LORD is still God.

And He’s still faithful.

And that He’s still keeping every one of His promises.

School starts this week.

Here’s the message for all of our students, all of their parents, and everybody else who is headed back to school.

The LORD is still God.

No matter how it feels.
No matter how much it hurts.
No matter whether this school year goes like you want it to or if it just flops.

The LORD is still good, He is still speaking, He is still working, and He is still faithful.

The LORD is still God.


Group Discussion Questions

1. Remind each other of the story so far. Who was Elijah and what was his mission?  What do you think Elijah might have expected to happen after the events of chapter 18?

2. Read 1 Kings 19:1-5. Why do you think Elijah was so discouraged?

3. Read 1 Kings 19:6-9.  How does the LORD minister to Elijah in his time of testing?

4. Read 1 Kings 19:10-14. Do you think Elijah is whining? Why or why not? If he’s not whining, he is certainly expressing his lament with the LORD. As Christians, we often don’t understand the language of lament, but it is godly way of expressing our tear-filled pain to the Lord. Where else in the Bible can believers learn to lament? What have you learned about lament that helps you to understand Elijah’s prayers in verse 10 and verse 14?

5. Read 1 Kings 19:15-21 and review Pastor Matt’s 4 points about how the LORD is still God. How does each point come from the story?

6. Did you need this story today? Why?  When have you felt the kind of discouragement that Elijah felt? What helps you when you feel that way?  How should we apply 1 Kings 19 to our lives today?


Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "Ready to Answer?"

“Ready to Answer?”
Good News Cruise 2016
August 14, 2016 :: 1 Peter 3:15-18a

We will return to the Days of Elijah in 1 Kings next time I get up here to preach.

But today, I want to help us get ourselves ready for the Good News Cruise.

We’re working hard to get all of the details together. We need your help. Water bottles, gift bags, door prizes, cooler, canopies, set-up, parking, food service. All of that. All hands on deck! We need to get all of that ready for this big event.

But even more important than all of that, we need to get ourselves ready spiritually.

Because, you may have noticed, we’ve put an invitation on your back.

Everybody see the back of the t-shirts this year? They are really cool.

They have our theme verse reference for our Hide the Word verse, Proverbs 3:5-6.

And it says, “Ask me about the Smooth Route.”

So, if they ask, what are you going to say?

If someone says to you on Saturday, “So what’s this ‘Smooth Route’ all about?” what are you going to say?

Are you ready to answer?

Because we’ve put a big target on your back. “Ask me!”

Now, some of you are saying, “Then I’m not wearing that t-shirt this Saturday!”

But the fact is that God has placed a big target on your back already. “Ask me!”

If you are a Christian, if you have been marked out as one of Jesus’ followers, then you need to be ready to talk about Him whether you wear a t-shirt or not.

That’s what baptism is. It’s like putting on the t-shirt and going out in public.

“I’m with Jesus. Go ahead, ask me about Him!”

Are you ready to answer?

That’s what Peter is talking about in chapter 3 of his first letter.

He’s writing to Christ-followers who are being persecuted for their faith. They are doing good and being good, but they are suffering for it.

They are getting a raw deal.

By the way, that’s one thing we do NOT mean by the “smooth route.” We do not mean that if you trust in Jesus then your life will run smoothly all of the time. No bumps, no roadblocks, not detours.

Is that what Jesus promised us?

No way. Jesus promised us, “In this world you will have...what?” Trouble! But take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

That’s what it means by saying, “He will make your paths straight.” He will direct your paths, and you will get home safely. We will safely reach our destination by faith. That’s the smooth route.

Not that it won’t be painful at times.

These Christians were experiencing the painful times.

And Peter was encouraging them to hold on and to keep doing what was right even when they weren’t seeing the blessings yet in return.

And in the middle of this kind of teaching, Peter tells his readers to always be ready to answer questions about their hope in God.

Because they have big target on their backs saying, “Ask me!”

In this passage, I see at least 3 ways that we need to get ready spiritually for the Good News Cruise.

#1. READY YOUR HEART. Look at verse 15.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”

You won’t be ready to talk about Jesus if your heart isn’t right with Jesus.

In the context, Peter is telling the believers to not live in fear of other people, but instead to set apart Christ as Lord.

Do you need to hear that? I need to hear that. Especially when I’m going into a possible evangelistic encounter. A potential gospel-sharing moment.

What I am I thinking about?

I’m worried (afraid) of what someone is going to say to me, do to me, or (gasp!) think about me!

But Peter says, “Don’t think about that. Think about how Jesus is your Lord.”

The old King James says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”

Worship Him at the heart level.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and that’s how you get your heart ready to reach out at the Good News Cruise.

Or at work. Or at school. Or at soccer. Or in the neighborhood.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”

That means prayer, doesn’t it?

We’ve been praying for the Good News Cruise. Every month at the Harvest Prayer Time. Every Wednesday night at the Prayer Meeting. And, I’m sure, lots of other places.

Have you prayed for yourself and the Good News Cruise?  That you would, in your heart, set apart Christ as Lord.

Is there some area of your life that is not under the lordship of Christ?  Some area that you’re holding back from Him?


Set apart Christ as Lord IN YOUR HEARTS. In your innermost being.

That’s where the ALL comes from right, in our key verse? “Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Set apart ALL of your hearts to the Lord.

Ready your heart.


It’s not good enough to just set apart Christ in our hearts. We must also talk about Him with our mouths.

People need to know the gospel. They need to know the good news of Jesus Christ.

So somebody’s gotta tell them.  V.15 again.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

This is like the Christian Boy Scout verse.

“Always be prepared!” Right?

Be prepared to serve someone a hot dog? Right?

Always be prepared to park another car, right?

Yes, but also “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

“Ask me about the smooth route.”

So, what are you going to say if someone asks you?

Everybody ought to have something ready to share.

It doesn’t have to be long. In fact, it shouldn’t be long.

If you are answer is a half an hour sermon, you’re doing it wrong.

Try 30 seconds.

Have you ever heard of an elevator speech?

They teach salesmen to give their presentation in the same time it takes to ride an elevator with someone you want to persuade.

Now, we’re not selling anything. Including the gospel.

But we can learn to give elevator-ride-length answers to Jesus questions.

Go ahead and try it.

I’ll give you 1 minute. Answer the question, “What is this smooth route?” to the person next to you and then give them a chance to answer it to you.

Go ahead!

[wait a minute]

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Now these instructions from the apostle Peter have a lot more to do with just being ready to speak out than they do to having a short speech prepared.

Peter is not teaching that we have to have a sales pitch ready to go.

But he is saying that we need to be ready to speak.

When I was a student at Moody Bible Institute, they used to tell us that we needed to be ready to preach, pray, or die at moment’s notice.

Preach, pray, or die!

And I always think, “Which one do you want?”

Two of those are easier than the others.

Some of you are thinking, “I’d rather die than preach or pray!”

The point is that people need Jesus and we need to be ready to talk about Him.

Do you know who was good at that?  Blair Murray was.

He’s going to be missed this year at the Cruise-In.

Keith Folmar has written a little tribute to Blair and to Lenny Mondock. Remember Lenny?  He was always in the center of the fun at the Good New Cruise. He was the guy who was arranging for us to have all of those chips and stuff donated.

Since last year’s cruise, we have lost both Blair and Lenny. And Keith has written up a little tribute to them that will be in each of the bags for all of the vehicle participants and on the literature table for the spectators to grab.  It’s called “Missing but not Gone: What Blair and Lenny Would Want You to Know Today.”

You know, some of you might want to use that in your answer.

I’m not going to tell you today how to answer the question. I’m not going to give you a little canned speech for you to deliver on Saturday.

That’s not how it works in real life is it?

If we have 120 of us here next week, we should have like 120 different answers.

I’ve put a letter in each of the participant’s bags that explains the Smooth Route and quotes Proverbs 3:5&6. You could refer someone to that.

Or you could quote it yourself and say what it means to you and how you’ve seen it work in your life.

It’s going to be on each bottle of water. And you should have it memorized by now.

Here’s the point that Peter is making:

You have hope. People are going to want to know where it comes from.

That was especially true for Peter’s readers because they had hope even when things were going bad.

And they were living their lives in such a way that people could tell there was something different about them.

“Hey! You’re getting beat up by the people around you. Why are you so happy?  Where does your joy come from? Where does your hope come from?”

“Let me tell you.”

Do you have a painful hope?

I mean hope through the tears?

Back on September 11th during the terrorist attacks, author Jill Briscoe was on a plane to the United States that got re-directed to Greenland for two weeks.  And everyone was miserable there.  No one could go home, they had to sleep on military cots.  And New York was in rubble.

And Jill had a kind word, a shared blanket, and a smile for others, even when they gave her grief about it. She wrote when she got back that some of the people said, "What in the world do you have to smile about?"

And she says, "So I told them!"

Are you ready to tell people what you are smiling about?

Maybe God is bringing pain into your life so that your hope shows through so that people ask.

If you weren't hurting, they might miss your hope. But your hope is all you have when you hurt so God brings in pain to bring out your hope and make them ask.

Ready your mouth.


There is a right way and wrong way to do this. Look at verse 15 once again.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Your manner matters.

It matters how we talk to people, not just what we say.

Peter with “with gentleness.”

That means don't shove it down their throats. Be tender with people. Warren Wiersbe reminds us that when we are doing evangelism, we are “witnesses not the prosecuting attorney” (Be Hopeful, 84). The purpose of explaining our hope is not winning an argument but winning souls to Christ and that can only be done with gentle winsomeness.  Are you ready to do it that way?

“With Respect” means not lording your knowledge over them, but handing it to them respectfully. You aren't a Christian because you are so great and they are so bad.  You are a Christian because of the grace of God. Show that grace to them as you share your hope with them.

And “With a Clear Conscience” means living the life that you are talking about on the inside as well as the outside. Not being a hypocrite. Walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Because they are watching your life to see if it matches your words.

Do you trust in the Lord with all you heart?
Do you lean not on your own understanding?
Do you acknowledge Him in all your ways?

They want to know that it’s for real. Not just some sales pitch.

People are watching your life to see if it matches your words–not perfectly but truly.

And if it does, Peter says, that someday (if only on the Judgement Day) they will be ashamed that they picked on you.

Verse 16. “ that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. [Hopefully, nobody at the Good News Cruise will be slandering you. But if you are getting it in the rest of life, we have this vindication to look forward to. V.17] It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. [So keep on doing good. That’s what Jesus did! V.18] For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

He showed us the way.

Gentleness, Respect, a Clear Conscience.

That’s the right manner to give out the gospel.

It’s the way of love.

We need to love the people we talk to.

Even the ones that are against us.

That’s what Jesus did. When WE were against Him.

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

Tell ‘em that!

That’s the gospel. That’s the good news that this cruise is built on.

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

It doesn’t have to be fancy. We just have to keep our focus on the main thing.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

And the main thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let’s ready our hearts.
Let’s ready our mouths.
Let’s ready our manner.

And let’s go out there at the Cruise and in the rest of life and answer the question we’ve got on our backs.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Sunday, July 31, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario"

“The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario”
Family Bible Week Finale :: July 31, 2016
Revelation 21:1-22:21

I invite you turn with me in your Bibles, if you would, to the Book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22.  The “Apocalypse of John,” Revelation (not Revelations), chapters 21 and 22.

The adult class at Family Bible Week spent all our time together studying the wild and wonderful genre of biblical writing called “apocalyptic.”

Apocalyptic literature appears in our Bibles in several places, most notably the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation.

One night, we studied Ezekiel one together. That’s some pretty far out stuff!

We learned all kinds of stuff in this week–probably too much stuff. It’s so complex and difficult to sort through, I’m sure that I thoroughly confused everybody in the class at one point or another.

At the same time, I think that everyone who came learned a little bit about apocalyptic literature, as well. About how this kind of genre works and what kind of a spiritual effect on us it is intended to create. I hope that we’ve all grow spiritually because we’ve spent some time together in this amazing and crazy genre in our Bibles.

Interestingly, when I started my ministry here at Lanse Free Church, most people in our culture didn’t know that word “apocalyptic.”

But strangely, it’s become popular in pop culture...

...mostly through zombies.

A week does not go by nowadays without my hearing someone say something about “a post-apocalyptic scenario.”

What the world would be like if some apocalyptic or world-ending event occurred and what would happen to the survivors.

What life would be like after an apocalypse.

There are TV shows like the Walking Dead.

There are movies like World War Z or I Am Legend or The Book of Eli or Planet of the Apes or even Wall-E. Right?

And many of the video games the kids are playing these days presuppose a post-apocalyptic scenario.

Well, today, I want to pull together everything that the adult class has been learning this week and study “The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario.”

What God says will certainly happen after the Apocalypse.

Not just a possibility.

Not just a theory or a probability or an hypothetical idea.

But what the real God has really revealed about what reality will be like when the end of the world really occurs.

And to get that, we read the last two chapters of our Bible.

Revelation chapter 21 and 22.

This is the very End of a very long story.

The Great Story began in Genesis chapters 1, 2, and 3 on the first two pages of your Bible. God made a very good world and put very good people in it to enjoy it and rule it and to enjoy Him and serve Him forever.

But as we saw back in December, in the third chapter of this Great Story, everything went wrong. The very good people rebelled against their Creator and the very good creation was put under a curse.

And for the rest of 66 books, God has been pursuing a plan to return everything to how it was supposed to be...and even better.

And that plan was focused in Jesus Christ. His death for our sins and His resurrection for our new life–the Gospel.

And Revelation 21 and 22 are the End of the Great Story, the last 2 pages of our Bibles.

Jesus has returned!

Jesus has brought us Resurrection Bodies. He has crushed His enemies.  He has judged all mankind.  He has ruled for a thousand years.  He has tossed the unholy trinity of the devil, the beast, and the false prophet as well as death and Hades into the lake of fire!

And now Jesus is ushering in Eternity!

This is the very definition of “post-apocalyptic” – after the end of the world as we know it.

Revelation 21 and 22 is the Apostle John’s last vision in the book of Revelation.  It was a vision revealed to John by God Himself. It was a vision of New Heavens and a New Earth. The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario.

What I want to do this morning is to slowly read these two chapters and point out many details as we go along.

And then I want to answer three big questions about The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario. I can’t answer all of the questions or point out all of details, there just isn’t enough time, and as we learned this week at FBW, frankly, I don’t have all of the answers to all the questions about these two chapters!

What is our phrase, Class?  “I don’t know, and that’s okay.”

But I do want to push towards answers these 3 questions from the Bible:

1.  What Will Not Be In The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario?
2.  What Will We Do In The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario?
3.  What Should We Do About The Real Post-Apocalyptic Scenario?

So listen for the answers to those questions as we read God’s Holy Word.

Revelation chapter 21, verse 1.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

This is John’s last vision in the Book of Revelation. It is a vision of a New Heaven and a New Earth. A new creation. A new universe. The old one that we are in now was destroyed, has passed away. The New one has come. We do not just have a new body, but we have a new Heaven and a New Earth, as well. V.2

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”

Now, remember, this prophecy is apocalyptic literature. It is full of mind-bending symbols that layer on top of one another and come at you as in kaleidoscope of symbolic meaning.

John is seeing a vision that is full of symbol-laden reality about the future.  He says that he sees a city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride! A city-bride! A bride that is a city. How’s that for mixed ideas?

A New Heaven, a New Earth, a New Jerusalem like a bride–beautiful, radiant, ready–a bride.

Theologians call this the “Consummation of All Things.” All things in Heaven and Earth are being united under Christ (Ephesians 1:10). This New Jerusalem connects a New Heaven and a New Earth so they are now unified.

We don’t just get to go to Heaven. We get to go to a New Earth that is one with Heaven.  The consummation of all things.  V.3

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

Wow! This is what it will be like the real post-apocalyptic situation.

V.5  “He who was seated on the throne [God!] said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ [And now we can read them in our Bibles.] He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.’”

For those in my class this week, did a whole bunch of bells and whistles and lights come on when you read that?

We only made it up through chapters 1 to 5 this week, but all of those things were in them, weren’t they?  This is where it’s all headed.

He then goes on with this vision of the New Creation.  V.9

“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ [That’s us, brothers and sisters!] And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me [...] the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. [We are,  somehow, Jerusalem!]  It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”

“It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.  There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.  The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. [12 Tribes, 12 Apostles, the Totality of the People of God in the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament together.]”

“The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length [1,400 miles!], and as wide and high [!] as it is long.”

This is a 1400 mile cube! Almost 2 million square miles on each floor! Giving 12 feet for each floor, you could have 600,000 stories in this building. Jesus said, “In my house are many rooms.” Billions could live here.  V.17

“He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick [about 200 feet], by man's measurement, which the angel was using [which reminds us of the measuring of Ezekiel’s visionary temple.]. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.”

What does that remind you of? Does it remind you of the Tabernacle from Exodus or Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings? Beautiful, magnificent, mysterious.

Was there a cube in the Temple?

Oh yeah. The Most Holy Place was a cube. This entire city is the Holy of Holies!  And it is precious!  V.21

“The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl [I’d like to see that oyster!]. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.”

The inhabitants of this city walk on gold. That’s how precious the city is and how little gold has value in this post-apocalyptic world.

God paves His streets with it?! It’s just gold! V.22

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. [Notice that it doesn’t say that there is no sun or moon.  Just that they aren’t needed in the New Jerusalem.  Because the Lamb is its lamp.  And the glory of the God gives it light. V.24]
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there [in the city]. [Remember, God is light and in him there is no darkness at all!] The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.”

Is your name in that book? Chapter 22. Verse 1.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. [The river flows down the middle of New Jerusalem Boulevard.]  On each side of the river stood the tree of life [It looks like it’s a grove], bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month [Apparently, there is time in eternity!]. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. [Just like Aaron the High Priest.] There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.’”

[That’s apocalyptic literature right there for you.]

“‘Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.’ I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’”

“Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book [publish it!], because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.’ [Time is short.] ‘Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

“‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’”

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.”

Can you see how this gives us the perspective we need to keep living in our times and to keep living for the Lord in our times?

Now, again, there is no way that we can play out every detail here. I don’t know what a lot of this means. I have ideas. I have studied, it but there’s just too much here.

It invites a life-time of study!

But let’s outline a few answer to our three questions:


We can get a sense of what will be by what it says will not be.

There will not be (v.1) Any Sea.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

Now, I don’t know if that is literal or not. There are definitely going to be rivers and probably lakes. And maybe oceans. But it says that there will not be any seas.

That’s because the sea was for Ancient Israelites a symbol of chaos and evil. It was an unstable, uncontrolled, chaotic, killer that separated people. We are to think of the sea here as the source of evil. The Beast of Revelation chapter 13 comes out of the sea.

But now, there is no sea.

And there is no (v.4) death.

Death has died. No more funerals! No more funeral homes. No more graveyards. No more sad goodbyes. Death is gone. Can you imagine?

This was the first Family Bible Week without Blair Murray. He loved the Bible and he loved aviation. And I think a lot of us were missing him this week in a special way.

Who else are you missing right now? Who do you love that is no longer here, ripped away by death?

In the world’s post-apocalyptic scenarios, the new world is ruled by death. Zombies roam the world. But in the real one, there is no death.

And there is no (v.5) mourning.If there is no death, there is no mourning. No grieving. No bawling our eyes out that we have lost children or spouses or parents or grandparents.

And there is no (v.4) crying. Can you imagine?

The beginning of verse 4 says that God Himself [!] will wipe every tear from our eyes!

As the song says, “No more crying there, we are going to see the King!”

No more crying because (v.4) there is no more pain, “for the old order of things has passed away.”

No more pain.  Can you imagine?  No more suffering at all?

One year ago, I had just had my surgery and I was in a world of post-operative pain.

Our surgery list in our prayer list right now is so long. And how many are experiencing chronic pain. My wife is learning to live with chronic pain.

Our new resurrection upgrade bodies will not suffer pain! It’s beyond imagining. But it’s true. The old way of things has passed, the new has come. No more pain.

And no more sinners. No more unrepentant sinners. V.8

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place [will not be in the New Heavens and New Earth. It] will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”


There will not be any sinners in the post-apocalyptic world that God’s people will inhabit. No unrepentant sinners that is. There will be billions of sinners saved by grace.

What will not be in the post-apocalyptic situation?

Any sea, any death, any mourning, any crying, any pain, any sinners, any temple.

Verse 22 says that John “did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

Apparently, there won’t be any church buildings either. We won’t need to be drawn into worship. We just will worship everywhere we are all the time with all of God’s people.

And there won’t be anything impure.  V.27

“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful.”

Nothing impure. None of that bad stuff on the internet will be there.

And there will not, be chapter 22, verse 3, any curse.  “No longer will there be any curse.”

The curse of Genesis 3 will be completely undone and gone!

Everything will be pure and perfect and back to what it was supposed to be...and even better!

No Sea, No Death, No Mourning, No Crying, No Pain, No Sinners, No Temple, Nothing Impure, No Curse.


What do you say about that?

In his book, One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God, Sam Storms writes this, “Think of the implications of what is being said!  When we get to heaven there will be nothing that is abrasive, irritating, agitating, or hurtful.  Nothing harmful, hateful, upsetting or unkind.  Nothing sad, bad, or mad. Nothing harsh, impatient, ungrateful or unworthy.  Nothing weak, or sick, or broken or foolish.  Nothing deformed, degenerate, depraved or disgusting.  Nothing polluted, pathetic, poor or putrid. Nothing dark, dismal, dismaying or degrading.  Nothing blameworthy, blemished, blasphemous or blighted. Nothing faulty, faithless, frail or fading.  Nothing grotesque or grievous, hideous or insidious. Nothing illicit or illegal, lascivious or lustful. Nothing marred or mutilated, misaligned or misinformed.  Nothing nasty or naughty, offensive or odious. Nothing rancid or rude, soiled or spoiled. Nothing tawdry or tainted, tasteless or tempting. Nothing vile or vicious, wasteful or wanton.” (Storms, pg. 178)

That’s what Eternity is going to be for those who belong to Jesus Christ. Amen?


Now we've seen what isn’t going to be going on, what will happen?


Did you catch what this city stands for?

It may be a literal city, as well. I am not ruling that out. Randy Alcorn and others have made a solid case for the New Jerusalem being a gigantic capital city of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

But know that this apocalyptic literature! So we know that this city is first and foremost an apocalyptic symbol. Who or what is the city in Revelation 21 and 22?

It’s us!

John tell us that this is that.

We are the city prepared like a bride (chapter 21, verse 2), “beautifully dressed for her husband.”

We are the bride of Christ.  We are the New Jerusalem.  Chapter 21, verse 9.

The angel said, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried [John] away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me...[a bride?] the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God.”

We are the bride-city. And we will shine. V.11

“It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”

We could go into all of the details of this city-bride. It is magnificent and mysterious and unimaginably majestic.

And it is, amazingly and me! Corporately, perfectly knit together in a perfect community, a perfect society, a perfect people for God.

[Many have pointed out that] the Bible began in a garden and ends in a City. A Garden City. Remember the River that runs down the boulevard and the Tree of Life from the original garden that heals the nations? A Garden City.

That shines!  21:11 again, “It shone with the glory of God...”

We will shine in the New Creation. New bodies. A New Heaven. A New Earth. A New Jerusalem. Shining. Glimmering.  Radiant with the glory of God.

21:23 and 22:5 says that God and the Lamb give the City its light.

We will shine with the very glory of God.

It’s too good for mere words!

When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.


We will shine in the New Creation, and we will serve the King of Kings.

Chapter 22, verse 3. “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve Him.”

Heaven will not be passive. It will be eternal rest, yes. But it will be active rest!

We will not sit around for all eternity. We will serve the King of Kings like we were made to do!

Do you remember when we talked about this last Fall during the series we did on work? We will have work to do in the real post-apocalyptic situation.

At least part of our work will be reigning. Chapter 22, verse 5. “And they will reign for ever and ever.” That includes us! Reigning with God over the New Creation!

God has many more plans for us in eternity. There will be stories to write and adventures to have, and places to explore.

We will serve the King of Kings. We will never be bored.

I think there is a Far Side cartoon with a kid who goes to heaven, and he’s sitting there on a cloud with harp (which is not what we’re going to literally do), and the thought-balloon over his head says something like, “I wish I’d brought a magazine.”

No! If you are afraid of Heaven because you are afraid of being bored, you are afraid of the wrong place. Hell will be the most boring place ever imagined. It will be the same terrible punishment day after day forever.

Heaven will be the most exciting place that is conceivable (and then some!).

And the biggest reason for that?

#3. WE WILL SEE GOD’S FACE. Chapter 22, verse 4.

“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”

Now, that should shock us!  If nothing else in these two chapters shocks you, this should.

Remember old Moses back in Exodus chapter 33?  “Show me your glory!”  And God said, “No one can see my face and live.”

But we’re going to see His face! And we’re going to live forever.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

This is where our relationship with Jesus Christ blossoms into what it was made to be! This is the ultimate life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ!

Theologians call it the “beatific vision.” Seeing God face to face.

And it means the fullest, most awesome relationship possible.

Chapter 21, verse 3 started with this declaration:.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’”

This is the consummation. This is where our relationship has been going all along.  Total intimacy with God.

The phrase “dwelling of God” in 21:3 is literally, “Tabernacle.” Now God is tabernacling with men. He will live with them.

He did that in a veiled way that first Christmas, God became man and tabernacled among us.

But this is more like in 1 Kings when the glory of God comes down in His shekinah glory and fills the tabernacle.  And there is no veil here.

Here, the entire city-bride is a Tabernacle. And God lives with us!

God is what makes Heaven Heaven!

And we will see God’s face.

Again, Sam Storms says, “Wherever you turn your eyes you will see nothing but glory and grandeur and beauty and brightness and purity and perfection and splendor and satisfaction and sweetness and salvation and majesty and marvel and holiness and  happiness.

We will see only and all that is adorable and affectionate, beautiful and bright, brilliant and bountiful, delightful and delicious, delectable and dazzling, elegant and exciting, fascinating and fruitful, glorious and grand, gracious and good, happy and holy, healthy and whole, joyful and jubilant, lovely and luscious, majestic and marvelous, opulent and overwhelming, radiant and resplendent, splendid and sublime, sweet and savoring, tender and tasteful, euphoric and unified!

Why will it be all these things?  Because we will be looking at God.” (Storms, pgs. 178-179)

I can’t wrap my mind around it.  And I never will completely.

Even when we are there, we will never reach the end of our amazement at the glory of God. He is infinite. We will never see all that He is!

But we will see Him.

If we belong to Him. That’s question #3.


And the first answer is: Come to Christ.

And come thirsty.  Chapter 21, verse 6.

“To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” That is grace. Salvation is a free gift. “Without cost.”

Jesus died on the Cross to provide “the spring of the water of life” without cost.

And He gives it to those who are thirsty. Those who recognize their need and put their faith in Jesus Christ.

Come to Christ. Thirsty.

And Overcome. V.7 “He who overcomes will inherit all this.”

We learned about that important word in Revelation this week on Wednesday.

It means to persevere in faith under pressure. To not stop believing.  To hang on to Christ. To hold onto Him and overcome or conquer or win by faith.

All of eternity comes down to whether or not (chapter 21, verse 27) our “names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

And the only way to know if you name is there is to turn from sin and turn to the Savior. Putting your trust in Jesus Christ and in His death on the Cross on your behalf. And not stop believing in Him.

Chapter 22 verse 14 calls this, “washing our robes.” It means coming to Christ.  Having Him wash us clean by His precious blood.

If our robes are “washed” then we have the “right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

So that you can enter those gates. Come to Christ.

#2.  Worship God.

My class knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

Humble worship.

In chapter 22, verse 8, John has just tried to absorb all of these visions, and he gets confused and falls down to worship the angel who has been leading him through these revelations. V.9

“But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

I don’t know how someone could read and study these two chapters without worshiping God!

This is our God! This is what our God has planned! Worship Him!

Don’t worship the creation. Don’t worship yourself, your friends, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your spouse, an angel, a false god, Baal, Allah, Science.

Worship God!

You are going to see the Face of God. Start worshiping Him now.

And #3 (and last).  Long for Jesus.

How many times does it say, “Come!” in chapter 22?

Verse 17.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ [We’re the bride. We are supposed to say, “Come!”] And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  V.20

“He who testifies to these things [Jesus] says ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.”

Come!  We long for you, Lord Jesus.

We yearn for You!

We long for our new bodies.
We long for the New World.
We long for the New Jerusalem.

We long for everything to be the way it should be!

We may not long for the apocalypse, but we long for the post-apocalyptic world.

And most of all, we long to see your face!

Come, Lord Jesus.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "The LORD Is God!"

“The LORD Is God!”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
July 24, 2016 :: 1 Kings 18:1-46  

Last week, we entered into a new section of the books of Kings. You might call it “The Days of Elijah.”

Because right now, we aren’t learning about all of the kings in the North and the South. We’ve already met 13 of them as the book has progressed (most of them thumbs-down guys), but now we’re concentrating just on the northern kingdom of Israel and not so much on its no-good-very-wicked king Ahab, as on the prophet who has burst onto the scene and fired this first salvo in the war against Baal.

“As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

The LORD was turning off the faucet. Because King Ahab and wicked queen Jezebel had “considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat” and began to serve Baal and worship him setting “up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria.”

So Elijah declared that it was not going to rain.

And remember, that was a direct attack against the glory of Baal.

Because supposedly Baal was the god of rain. The god of fertility and successful crops.

But there was no fertility and no successful crops.

For three years.

Just think about that. We’ve gone, what three weeks without any real rain here to speak of. And how dry it is.

The good side is that you don’t have to mow.

The bad side is that the grass is all brown and dying.

Imagine going three years.

That whole time Elijah is hiding out from Ahab and Jezebel. They have a contract out on him and any other prophets of Yahweh.

Last week, we saw how the LORD provided for Elijah from unlikely sources like dirty ravens and Gentile widows.

Three years the widow’s flour and her oil don’t run out.

And Elijah lies low under the radar. Actually living in Sidon, Baal-territory.

But now, the LORD has a new mission for Elijah. He’s going to send some rain.

Chapter 18, verse 1.

“After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’”

Ok. I’m going to tell you the title of this sermon now.

And after you hear it, you’ll know the whole point of the story.

So, you can go home after you get this title.

Now, I recommend sticking around to see how it plays out.

And if you already know this story, which probably most of you do (it’s one of the only stories most of us all know from the books of Kings, if you know this story already), I encourage you to pretend that you don’t.

Try to read it and listen to it verse by verse as if you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Because it’s a doozy!

Ok. Are you ready for the title? It’s a doozy, too.

“The LORD Is God!”

Okay. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but it is. It’s one of the most important sentences in the whole history of sentences.

“The LORD [Yahweh] is God!”

“Yahweh is God!”

Now, my guess is that everyone here already believes that. Or why else would you have come to church today?

Maybe somebody dragged you here. Or maybe you’re checking it all out.

If so, I’m glad you’re here.

But most of already know this fact, “The LORD Is God!”

But it’s, strangely enough, easy to forget.

Easy to ignore.

That’s what had happened in Israel. The whole northern kingdom had turned to false worship, even Baal worship.

And the LORD will not stand for it.

Yahweh must demonstrate that He is God alone.

So, He shut off the rain.

And now, He’s told Elijah that He’s going to turn it back on again.

But He wants credit for that. He doesn’t want Baal, the supposed rain god, to get credit for the merciful return of the rain. So, He calls a press conference. V.2

“...the word of the LORD came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’ So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of his palace. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. While Jezebel was killing off the LORD's prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, ‘Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.’ So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.”

This gives us a little picture of what these three years have been like.

There are still followers of Yahweh, but they have to be sneaky.

Even the guy in the charge of the palace, Obadiah (not the prophet), is a closet follower of Yahweh and he’s been hiding a 100 prophets and supplying them with food and water.

But Ahab doesn’t care about these prophets. He doesn’t mind them dying at the hands of his wife. What he really cares about is his livestock. You can tell what his priorities are.

And everything around him is dying. Baal is not coming through.

So he sends Obadiah out and they separate and scour the countryside looking for water.

But instead, Obadiah finds a prophet. V.7

“As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, ‘Is it really you, my lord Elijah?’ [Where you been?] ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Go tell your master, 'Elijah is here.'’

‘What have I done wrong,’ asked Obadiah, ‘that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the LORD your God lives [that phrase should make a little bell go off in your head! After last week’s sermon...], there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, 'Elijah is here.'

[He’s scared. Not of telling the truth, but that the Elijah may not stick around so that it seems like he’s lying. V.12]

I don't know where the Spirit of the LORD may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn't find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the LORD since my youth.

Haven't you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD? I hid a hundred of the LORD's prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, 'Elijah is here.' He will kill me!’”

This is what it’s been like to live in Israel for the last three years. V.15

“Elijah said, ‘As the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.’”

Yes, I’m coming, and you’re really going to see something now.

“So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’

‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals.”

Do you see the face-off here?

Ahab fires the first volley. “You’re the troubler of Israel.”

Look at the death and destruction everywhere around you.

Israel is dying of thirst!

And it’s all your fault.

But Elijah says, “I didn’t bring this trouble on Israel. You did. You brought in Baal. And this is what happens when you serve a dead god. People die.”

That’s one of the major messages of the books of Kings. When you worship false gods, there is trouble and cursing and danger and death.

Idolatry hurts people.

But the LORD lives. The LORD is God.

And He wants to show you this. V.19

“Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.’ So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.”

It’s time for a showdown.

And you probably already know the story.

You know how it ends.

But humor me for a few minutes and pretend that you don’t.

Mount Carmel was apparently Baal territory at this point.

So there was home court advantage to the followers of Baal.

And at this location, Elijah stands up in front of everybody, all these prophets and all of this Israelites and calls them out. V.21

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.”

Here’s point number one this morning, of three.

And it’s just what Elijah says here. If the LORD is God, then–


Elijah really gets in their faces, doesn’t he?

“How long will you waver between two opinions?”

The word “waver” means to hobble or limp.

How long are you going hobble around choosing what side you’re on?

You know the craziest thing about this contest? It shouldn’t be happening!

This is Israel! They should have decided who was God a long time ago.

And even here they won’t say anything.

What is wrong with you?

“If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters.”

You gotta choose.

Wade Nolan, when he was here back in February, said that a lot of guys like to hang around on the fence and eventually decide to whether or not to follow Jesus.

But Wade says, “The truth is that there is no fence.”

“If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

Now, I’m guessing that this is not a hard choice for anyone here today.

Anyone here tempted to follow Baal with your life?

If so, meet me in my office after the service. We’ve got to talk.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a problem with idolatry.

The Apostle John ended his first New Testament letter with these words, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

And I doubt that he meant the ones made of wood, iron, and stone.

What is like Baal for you?

What false gods are you tempted to worship?

Baal may not be tempting, but I’m guessing there is a false deity or two that is actually appealing.

I’ll give you two of mine. They’re ones I’ve said before.

You probably know mine better than I do because our idols are often more obvious to others than they are to ourselves.

I tend to worship the gods of popularity and comfort.

I love to be liked and approved of by others. The Facebook “like” button can be a drug for me.

And I have an extra plate addiction. My gluttony tends to come not from just enjoying the pleasure of eating too much but looking for satisfaction and comfort in the act of eating.

And when you put the two together, like getting approval for how much I eat, then I can really get into trouble.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with liking to be liked or enjoying comfort.

But good things can become god things when we allow them to take a place they do not deserve in our lives.

And even though I am a declared follower of the LORD, I can be tempted to waver between the two.

Elijah says, “Choose to follow the LORD alone.”

“You shall have no other gods before Yahweh.”

Decide. And then act.

That’s what follow means.

Don’t just say that you believe in God, live like it.

You can’t serve two masters. Stop trying!

Does that make sense?

This applies to other religions, too, of course.

If the LORD is god, follow him; but if Allah is God, follow Him.
If the LORD is god, follow him; but if the god of the Mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses, or the Hindus or whatever is god, then follow them.

But choose. There is no fence.

What is like Baal for you?

Choose to follow the LORD alone.

So, Elijah, sets up this famous contest. V.22

“Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the LORD's prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it.

Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire–he is God.’ Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’”

They like it.

Oh, by the way. Have I mentioned that Baal was the god of lightning?

He was the storm god. So supposedly, he not only brought the rain but also the fire from heaven.

So, you can see why they like it.

Who goes first?  Elijah declines the first possession. V.25

“Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.’

So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘O Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. [Crickets.] And they danced around the altar they had made.”

They’re starting to get worried that their god isn’t going to show up.

The shot clock is ticking down.

And their god is silent. V.27

“At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’”

I love it when Elijah does this trash-talking.

“Get out your megaphone.
Try that line again.
What do you mean nobody’s home?
Maybe Baal is busy.  He’s ‘occupied.’
Did you think of that?

You know, he might be sleeping.

Now, catch this. Why doesn’t Baal respond?

Because Baal is not real.

In the words of last week’s message, “Baal does not live.”

They don’t get a busy signal when they call.

It just rings and rings and rings.

Because nobody is home.

Do you know why? Baal is not God.

Yahweh is God.

I almost titled last week’s message and this week’s message and the next message, “The battle of Baal.”

But it’s not really a battle with Baal.

There is no contest.

Baal never shows up.

And the same thing is true of all of the other religions in the world and all of the counterfeit gods that you and I are tempted to give some portion of our lives to.

Popularity or comfort or money or possessions or pleasure or politics or sports or some other person.

End the end, they do no show up. They are not God.

Baal is not God.

But you’d have a hard time convincing these people. They try so hard.

They do whatever they think it will take to get their god’s attention.

That’s religion for you. Beware of religion. V.28

“So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. [Please, Baal, please! We’ll give you our blood!]  Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.”

That’s the reward for idolatry.

Now, see the contrast with Elijah’s god. V.30

“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel.’ [Isn’t that dramatic? And symbolic. He reminds them that they should be one unified nation.]

With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed.

He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, [Okay! Let’s make it harder!] Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’ ‘Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again. ‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. [How many jars is that? Four jars three times. That’s twelve again.] The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.”

You got the picture?

Where did they get the water?

There’s been a drought for 3 years, and Elijah wants to pour water over this sacrifice.

So they get this water and they make sure that there is no way on Earth that fire could break out on its own.

And the priest of Baal are limping around, exhausted, and bleeding. V.36

“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.

Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’

Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD–he is God! The LORD–he is God!’”


They got the point, didn’t they?

Yahweh is God.

And no one else.

You know, I never noticed the rocks and the soil before.

I always thought they were scorched (and that might be all it means), and I was amazed that all that water was licked up.

But if I’m reading it right, the rocks and the soil burned up, too.

My dad has a farmer friend named, Ronnie, who has a saying, “Dirt don’t burn.”

Dirt’s really hard to burn, right? V.38 again.

“Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice [which is amazing], the wood [there goes that altar!], the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

That was some really hot fire from heaven.

The LORD is God.
And that has consequences. V.40

“Then Elijah commanded them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal. Don't let anyone get away!’ They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.”

They will not trouble Israel any longer.

The LORD is God.

Choose to follow Him alone.


Did you notice how calm and collected Elijah was when he prayed?

He prayed earnestly and passionately, but there was no jumping around and cutting himself and putting on a big show.

He just prayed a simple heartfelt prayer and the fire fell.

That’s because the LORD is God.

So, now it’s time to pray for something else to fall.


Three years and no rain because of the prayers of Elijah.

Time to pray again. V.41

“And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.”

It’s time for Ahab to make a decision.

King Ahab has a chance here to make everything right. To turn the nation back to Yahweh.

He’s told to eat and drink and watch and see what the LORD is going to do.

Elijah prays. And he prays. And he really prays.

He’s praying based on the promise from verse 1 and what Solomon said back in chapter 8.

He knows that LORD is God, so he prays a big prayer request.

He prays for rain. And then he watches to see. V.43

“‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’

The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.'’ Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.”

Now, that’s as far as we’re going to read today.

We’re not going to find out what happens with Ahab. He’s got “the Flash” out in front of him.

Maybe Elijah is a forerunner, and Ahab is going to repent and lead the nation into revival.

We don’t know.

But we know one thing. It’s raining.

And raining and raining.

Why? Because Elijah prayed.

And he prayed, not just to any old deity, but to Yahweh.

The LORD is God.

That’s the point that the Apostle James makes in his letter. Chapter 5, verses 16-18?

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. [Why because the man is so special? No, James says...] Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

Why is the prayer of a righteous person power and effective?

Because the LORD is God.

How’s your prayer life?

Don’t forget that you are praying to the God of fire and rain.

You’re praying to the same God as Elijah was.

We’re just like Elijah. We’re just people.

But we know Yahweh! So bring your big prayers to Him.

There’s a song by John Newton that very few people know. It’s not like Amazing Grace, but I think we need to bring it back.

It’s called “Thou Art Coming to a King.”

Listen to this verse.

“Thou art coming to a King.
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such, 
None can ever ask too much.”

The LORD is God. Choose to pray to Him alone.


We don’t really have time to develop this thought, but what I want to leave ringing in our ears is the cry of verse 39.

“When all the people saw this [when they saw it with their own eyes, when they “got it,”] they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD–he is God! The LORD–he is God!’”

That needs to be our confession, as well.

Yahweh is God.

And He is our God.

And Jesus is Yahweh in the flesh.

When Jesus was born, it wasn’t just fire and rain that came down.

The LORD Himself came down and gave us the perfect sacrifice.

Not just a bull on an altar, but a Savior on a Cross.

And then a risen Savior, an exalted Savior, and one day a returning Savior.

Jesus is God!  Jesus is God!

Is that your confession?

The Bible says “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

And so many people need to hear it all around the world.

The LORD. He is God.

Jesus. He is the LORD.


Messages in this Series: