Sunday, August 18, 2019

“Are We There Yet?” [Matt's Messages]

“Are We There Yet?”
Good News Cruise 2019
August 18, 2019  :: Philippians 3:12-4:1

I know it’s a little weird to just parachute into the middle of a New Testament letter like that, but this verses 13 and 14 have been our Hide the Word memory verses for the last two months as we’ve had our car-themed Family Bible Week and our car-themed Good News Cruise.

And I thought I’d round off our time together this Summer memorizing this passage to preach a little bit on what this passage means and what it means for us today.

“Are We There Yet?"

Have you ever heard that question when you’re a road trip?

It floats up from the backseat in a little voice, “Are we there yet?”

And depending on how patient the driver is the answer is often “Not yet little smurf.”

“Just a little bit longer.”

Or “No! And don’t ask me again!”

Well, that’s just the question that the Apostle Paul is answering in a spiritual way in this part of the book of Philippians.

In the first part of this chapter, verses 1 through 11, Paul gives his testimony and a short statement of the gospel of grace.

Paul warns the Philippians about false teachers who would want them to try to believe a false gospel of legalism and works-righteousness, that is, putting your confidence in your flesh, in your own self efforts and in your own performance.

Paul talks instead about being saved by a righteousness that comes from God and is by faith–a righteousness that makes it possible to know Christ–which is better than everything.

Paul says the core of Christianity is not putting your faith in your flesh (we are to put no confidence in the flesh–our self efforts, our performance, our achievements no matter what they are)–it is to put our faith in Jesus Christ and what He did on the Cross on our behalf. And then because of that faith and because of that righteousness, we are able to consider EVERYTHING a loss COMPARED to knowing Christ. The power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. Knowing Christ.

That’s our purpose as a church.

To bring people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

That was the whole point of yesterday’s event, and that’s the whole point of this morning, and that’s the whole point.

It’s a powerful passage. I wish I had time to preach verses 1 through 11, as well.

Listen to just to verse 7 and verse 8.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”

Wow. Powerful words, huh?

“The surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

And so as we come today to v.12, Paul doesn’t really started a new thought.

What he has to say now flows right out of what he’s been saying so far in chapter 3. And he basically says, that as powerful and passionate as his testimony was (from legalistic, Pharisaical, Hebrew of Hebrews to considering that all of that rubbish compared to simply and gloriously knowing Christ)–as powerful and passionate as his testimony was–Paul himself had yet not arrived.

He was “Not There Yet” himself.

Paul was “Not There Yet.”

And neither are we.

Let’s see how he puts it and what he says to do about it.

I’ve only got 2 short points this morning. I think Paul’s teaching here can be divided into two parts. Two points with one application each.

Here’s number one.

#1. WE ARE NOT PERFECT YET.  V.12 again.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Paul has just given his testimony. And it was passionate and powerful! He had gone from putting his confidence in his law-keeping flesh to considering that as worthless as dung and desiring to KNOW CHRIST in the most powerful and intimate way possible.

But even the great apostle Paul was “not there yet.” He had not obtained all this.  That is–he hadn’t arrived yet. He (v.12) had not “already been made perfect.”

V.11 talks about attaining to the resurrection from the dead. That hadn’t happened yet for Paul. And he had not been perfected yet.  He was still as we say “in process.”

He was not yet perfect. And he says so.

In fact, he says it again in verse 13!

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.”

Paul is stressing that he has not yet arrived. He is not perfect yet. He is being perfected. But he is not yet perfect.

He has Christ’s righteousness–a righteous standing with God because of Christ and His Crosswork. But He is not yet fully righteous himself.

In theological terms, Paul is fully justified. But He is not fully sanctified.  Because He is not fully glorified.

He’s not there yet! The great apostle Paul. Arguably the most mature Christian ever to follow to Jesus–had not yet become perfect.

Brothers and Sisters and Friends, We Are Not Yet Perfect.

Little test to prove this.

Raise your hand, if you are perfect.

If you raise your hand, you don’t belong here.

This meeting is for non-perfect people. People who have not arrived yet.

Yesterday, Lonnie and I were putting up a canopy together out there, and I wasn’t doing a great job, and Lonnie said, “It very encouraging to me, Pastor, that you aren’t you aren’t perfect yet.” And I said, “I got lots of encouragement for you then! Because I am very far from perfect!”

Paul was very aware of his im-perfection.  And he made it clear to his Philippian friends.

He said it 3 times. “Not that I have already obtained all this” (V.12). “Or have already been made perfect” (V.13). “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.”

Paul was not yet perfect.

And neither are we.

So, what are we going to do with that?

Well, one thing we could do with that is to take comfort in it. If the great Apostle Paul didn’t reach perfection, then it’s probably okay on some level that I’m not there yet, myself.  We could do that.

And there’s probably something to that that we could take home with us. And we could definitely cut some other people in our lives some slack realizing that they’re not there yet either. That would probably be a good thing to do with this truth.

But Paul does something else with that, doesn’t he?

And I think what Paul does with it needs to be our main application.

We Are Not Perfect Yet, So...What?

- PRESS ON!

Listen to v.12 again.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect [so I just give up. No!], but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. [So I just give up. No.] But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

That’s what we were teaching the kids at Family Bible Week.

We Are Not Yet Perfect, So We Need to Press On!

We need to strive towards that perfection.
We need to run towards sanctification.
We need to pursue spiritual growth.
We need to discipline ourselves for godliness.
We need to chase after Christ-like-ness.

We need to put the pedal to the medal.

We Are Not Yet Perfect, So We Need to Press On!

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Did you catch that?

Why did Jesus take hold of us? To make us like Himself. To create worshipers that reflect His image. To create a people who are zealous for good works and for His name.

Notice Who has done the initiating!

“Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

So I press on to take hold of that for which He took hold of me. He has done the hard work. He’s gone to the Cross! I am called to just live out the implications of that work.

Notice the same thing in v.13.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize [that almost sounds like works, doesn’t it?  Legalism. To earn my righteousness by my flesh. But Paul just got done saying that that route is dead end street. Paul is not teaching legalism. This prize is a prize that I am already called to! V.13 “the prize”] for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

God has called me heavenward, and I’m heading there because of Christ Jesus [“in Christ Jesus.”] Now, I strain [because of that] to win the prize.

Paul never gets that order wrong. He always puts work Christ first and our work second flowing out of His.

I Press On.

Notice what Paul doesn’t say!  He doesn’t say, “I have not arrived yet and until Christ comes I will not arrive. Therefore, I need not do anything. I can just rest on my haunches and not change. And not become like Christ. And not become conformed to his death. I can just sit here and wait for Jesus to come get me. ‘Once saved, always saved’–so now I can just live like the devil. I’ll never be perfect, so why bother?”

No! Paul says, “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on. I press on. I press on!

What’s he talking about in v.13 when he says “what is behind?”

What is behind Paul now?

I’m sure that it’s the things that he used trust in (the things he lists in verses 4 through 6).

Paul has put everything that he used to trust in behind him now. This is not talking about “let bygones be bygones.”

This is talking about “let flesh-confidences be bygones! Let everything that I once considered greater than Christ be bygones. Let the rubbish that passed for greatness and significance and meaning and righteousness and fulfillment be now bygones.  Let my old way of life be bygones.”

“I leave it behind.” And now, (v.13) “straining toward what is ahead, I PRESS ON.”

I press on!

Are you pressing on?

Are you running the race?
Are you striving towards perfection?
Are you running towards sanctification?
Are you pursuing spiritual growth?
Are you disciplining yourself for godliness?
Are you chasing after Christ-like-ness?

Are you pressing on?

Or are you just sitting there?

Are you growing?

We Are Not Yet Perfect. But that is no excuse for spiritual laziness.

Instead, it is a call to the zealous pursuit of perfection.

It is a mark of maturity to realize that you have a long way to go.

The most mature people I know have a good sense that they have not yet arrived.

But that maturity is only real if it gets us off of our behinds and into the race of following Christ.

Are you pressing on?

Kids. This is for you. This is not just for grown-ups. Are you pressing on? Do you claim to be a Christian by faith in Jesus? Press on. Pursue godliness. I would love to say that Lanse Free Church has the godliest children that I know.

Teenagers. This is for you. This is not just for when you graduate from school. This is for right now. Today. Press on! Chase after Christ-like-ness. Put your old way of life behind you and strain towards what is ahead!Yes, you’ll look a little crazy to your classmates. But you won’t look crazy to God! Chase after Him. Put the adults in your life to shame by your zeal!

Young Adults. This is for you. This is not just for when you get married or when you have kids. This is for right now. Press on! Run after sanctification. Get in the race.  Take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you. Press on. Chase after godliness. Press on.

Parents. This is for you, too. This is not for when the kids grow up and you have time again to focus on a relationship with Christ. You have to MAKE TIME right now.  Press on. Get in the race. Toward the goal to win the prize God has called you heavenward.  Discipline yourself for spiritual growth.

Will this cost you?

Will this mean sacrifice of time and energy and earthly pleasures? Yes!  It will. But (v.7, v.8) it’s worth it! Christ is worth it! Press on!

Middle Aged People. This is for us, too. This is not for when you retire and have time to get involved again in your spiritual life. This is for now. Press On!

Retired People. This is for you. Now is not the time to slow down spiritually. Now is the time to rev up your spiritual life! Zealously pursue perfection.

You have not arrived yet. You have a ways to go. So press on. Press on. Press on.

Don’t just sit there.  Press on.

V.15. This is for all of us. V.15

“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. [If you are mature {a little play on words here, that’s the same Greek word for perfect.} If you are mature then this is the way to see yourself–not there yet but pressing on.] And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”

If you are immature, then as you press on, you will begin to see it more clearly. V.16

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” As much as we understand of this, we need to live it out.

We Are Not Yet Perfect. So We Must Press On.

I long to see more spiritual fervor in our whole church family. Don’t you?

I want it for myself, and I want it for all of us.

We all need to become like Paul. He knew that He wasn’t there yet. But He was getting there. He was committed.

He was pursuing perfection with a passion! He was pressing on.

And He calls us to follow Him. V.17.

“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”

Paul is saying, “Follow me! And follow men and women like me.” Not those who have arrived. But those who are running on the right track.

Do you know who those people are in your life?  Do you know who is running on the right track so that you can follow them?

Everybody is following somebody.  Did you know that?

Everybody is following somebody. Who are you following?

Paul is saying follow him as He follows after Christ.

And he’s saying, “take note” of those who are also following after Christ. And follow them. Earlier in Philippians he gave somee good examples in Timothy and Epaphroditus (check back in chapter 2). But he means more than them. He means whomever is following the pattern of gospel living that Paul set out for them when he was with them.

Who are you following?

Who is running ahead of you on the race of discipleship and you’re caught in their draft? Paul says to get intentional about whom you are following.

I realized this summer that I still have mentors in the faith.

That’s really good because sometimes when you reach middle age many of your mentors are dead or falling out of the race.

I have mentors who have gone before both in great books and personal relationships. I am reminded every week of something that Blair Murray taught me. And my counselor instructor David Powlison who died this last June.

But I have mentors that are still living, as well. Some are in this room.

And I’m thankful for Super Jeff and for Greg Strand who have taken me under their wing, and not just encouraged me as a brother but shown me the way as a Paul to a Timothy.

Who are you following?

Maybe a better question is who are you leading? You can turn v.17 on its head and realize that if everyone is following someone, then someone is probably following you!

Who is following you?

Dads, this one is especially for you. Whatever you are doing in your Christian life is what you are discipling your kids to do. Especially your sons. Whatever they see you doing, that’s what they will probably do. Unless God intervenes.

If you are making Christ and His church a priority, they will be discipled by that. If you are not, they will probably not. You are a spiritual thermostat in your home. You set the temperature. And you set it in a way that even your wife cannot. If you leave the spiritual leadership of your home up to your wife, you are discipling your sons to abdicate their spiritual responsibilities, as well.

Who are you leading? You are what they are becoming.

Moms, this is true for you, too. Those kids are watching.

And church leaders. This is for all of us.

Sunday School Teachers, Youth Group Leaders, Kids for Christ Leaders, Link Group Leaders. Deaconesses. Facilities Team. Hospitality Team. Missions Ministry Team. Elders. You are setting the temperature. Are you following the pattern? Are you pressing on?

The church family will (v.17) “take note of [leaders at Lanse Free Church] who live according to the pattern that [Paul gave us.]” Are we pressing on?  This church will not be more spiritual than we are as its leaders.  And I am saying this to myself most of all.

This stuff is caught much more than it is taught.

We are not there yet! So we must press on. And people will follow us.

Because everybody is following somebody.

That’s why Paul warns them against following those who don’t press on in v.18.

“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears [this chokes him up!], many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”

I believe that Paul is talking about people who THINK they are Christians but they do not live like it.  They have given lip-service to Christ, lip-worship to Christ, but they have not trusted in Him for their righteousness in such a way that it leads to knowing Him and pressing on.

They THINK they are Christians [and this makes Paul cry!] but they are really, functionally, enemies of the Cross.

They make the Cross seem like nothing by the way that they live.

Don’t follow them!  “Their destiny is destruction.” They’re lost!

“Their god is their stomach.” They are driven by their desires, their lusts, their motives, their passions that are not godly.

“Their glory is in their shame.”  They claim Christ, but they live shamefully and glory in it.

And ultimately here’s where they have gone wrong, “Their mind is on earthly things.”

“Their mind is on earthly things.”

They act and behave and talk and really believe that this world is really what is important.

What they don’t realize, what they don’t believe, what they only give lip service to is truth number two.

#2.  WE ARE NOT HOME YET.

“Their mind is on earthly things.” And it is their destruction.

But we are not home yet. V.20

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there [from heaven], the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

We are not home yet.

But Jesus is coming soon to take us home and make us like Him.

We are not home yet.

But so often we act like it!

How many of us actually act as though our citizenship is in heaven?

How do we think about ourselves?

I think that a lot of church people in the US think about themselves as Americans first and Christians second.

Their primary identity is American.

Some even make the mistake of thinking that if you are an American that means you are a Christian. As if the two things are the same.

But that’s not how it works.

Look at how Paul saw himself.

Where is Paul a citizen?

We know that he had Roman citizenship.

But what does he say here? V.20

“But our citizenship is in heaven.”

If we are Christians our TRUE citizenship, our DEEPER, more IMPORTANT citizenship–a citizenship that should affect how we view and how we use our American citizenship is our citizenship in heaven.

We don’t pledge allegiance (ultimately) to the United States of America. We pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. And those two things are not the same.

Sometimes, we can get them confused. And then our eyes begin to creep down to looking only at earthly things.

But the Bibles says that our citizenship is in heaven. Not Rome. Not Israel. Not the United States of America. Not ultimately.

Our citizenship is in heaven. And that should affect everything we as Christians do and say in America.

We’re actually on foreign soil where it counts the most.

So we shouldn’t get too comfortable here.

We Are Not Home Yet....So, we need to:

LOOK UP. V.20

“Their mind is on earthly things...But our citizenship is in heaven. [And what do we do about it? We’re not there yet!] And we EAGERLY AWAIT A SAVIOR FROM THERE, the Lord Jesus Christ!”

We look up!

We get our mind off of just earthly things. What we can see, what we can touch, what we can feel. What seems important but isn’t really.

And we look up. We orient our lives around what is coming. And Who is coming!  A Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under His control (sovereign resurrection power), will transform our lowly bodies (these dust-formed, earth-suits) so that they will be like His glorious body (the power of His resurrection unleashed in new glorious bodies.)

That becomes our focus. That becomes our lens. We begin to live NOW with THEN in our view.

And chapter 4, v.1.  “Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”

You want to know how to stand firm in the Lord?

Look up! Eagerly await a Savior from heaven.

You say, “Wait a second! Isn’t that just wishful thinking? Isn’t that just pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by kind of talk? Doesn’t that make you so heavenly-minded, you are no earthly good?”

Paul says, “No!”  you can’t be too heavenly minded. Because that’s where everything is moving. And that’s where our Savior is and is coming from. And we need to orient our lives around the future and what and Who is coming for us.

Peter said,“Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  (1 Peter 1:13)

You can be too earthly minded to be any earthly good!

Paul says that that kind of living is animosity towards to the Cross.  Their destiny is destruction.

But our citizenship is in heaven.

We are not home yet. But Jesus is coming to take us there and make us like Him.

So Look Up.

Orient your life around Lord Jesus’ Return.

Live with eternity’s values in view.

Don’t follow those who claim to be Christians but are only concerned with this world and what it offers.

Look up. And eagerly await a Savior from your true Homeland.

At lunch today, I want you go around the table and ask these questions and then follow up with the answers.

#1. Are you pressing on? Are you pursuing godliness with a passion for Christ?

#2. Whom are you following? Who is discipling you? That could be a significant discussion today around your table. Who’s in the lead? Is that good or bad?

#3. Are you looking up? Is your mind on earthly things?  Is your god your stomach?  Or are you eagerly anticipating and living like Jesus is on His way to get you? What are you acting like is your home?

No, We Are Not There Yet.

We Are Not Perfect Yet. So We Must Press On.
And We Are Not Home Yet. So We Must Look Up.

And, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, that is how you can stand firm in the Lord, beloved.


Saturday, August 17, 2019

"Look any enemy in the face"

"Paul's resurrection realism avoids the depression of pessimism and the denial of optimism. A resurrection lens allows us to live truly victorious lives that can look any enemy in the face--cancer, slander, or depression. Jesus's past resurrection means we experience present real-time resurrections as we wait for the future big one, when all creation will be resurrected."

- Paul Miller, J-Curve: Rising and Dying with Jesus in Everyday Life (pg.204, emphasis his)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

"A life of reflexive joy"

"Jesus's resurrection transforms how Paul processes life. His reaction to being imprisoned with a death sentence hanging over his head reveals a remarkable vision of life, one that promises to undermine our modern commitment to anxiety and to free us for a life of reflexive joy."

- Paul Miller, J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life (pg. 186)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"His resurrections are always better than mine."

"Attempting to create our own resurrections is a great temptation of the Christian life. For instance, if someone has slandered me, I'm tempted to create a mini-resurrection by boasting. They deflated me, so I inflate me. Silence keeps me on the dying side of the J-Curve. it's an act of surrender to let my Father vindicate me rather than to try to do so myself. His resurrections are always better than mine. We wait for his wonders."

- Paul Miller "J-Curve" pg. 181

Sunday, August 11, 2019

"Come to the Wedding Banquet" [Matt's Messages]

“Come to the Wedding Banquet”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
August 11, 2019 :: Matthew 22:1-14

So we’ve reach Matthew 22, but nothing has changed since last week.

It’s still Tuesday of Jesus’ Crucial Week.

Jesus is still standing in the temple courts arguing with the chief priests and the elders of Israel.

In fact, He just finished giving them two parables, and now He’s about to give them a third with pretty much the same point.

If you remember on Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David."

And on Monday, He turned over the tables in the temple, mad about what they were doing with His Father’s house.

Then on Tuesday, this day, he pointed to a fig tree that had no figs. It was pretending to have figs, but it was all leaves and figs. And Jesus cursed it as illustration of both great faith and His rightful expectation of fruit from our lives.

The chief priests and elders asked Him by what authority He was doing these things, and Jesus asked them a question right back. Was John’s baptism from heaven or from men, and they didn’t like either of those options, so they said they didn’t know.

Which made it clear what the answer really was, so Jesus said He wasn’t going to answer their question and then told them to stories.

Both stories highlighting His own authority.

In the first story, there are two sons. And one says he’s not going to work but changes his mind and does. And the other looks good on paper saying that he is going to work but then doesn’t show up.

It’s not those who say they are righteous but those who are repentant and bear fruit in keeping with repentance that are righteous.

And then the second story was more involved. It was about a man who had vineyard and left some tenants in charge of farming it while he was away.

And he sent servants to collect the rent in expected fruit, but the tenants rejected the collectors.

And he patiently sent some more. And then he sent his son! And they killed his son.

And everybody knew that he was going to bring those wretches to a wretched end and give the vineyard to other tenants who will share their crop at harvest time.

And the chief priests and the Pharisees realized that these parables were about them and they looked for a way to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowds.

It’s right after that that Matthew gives us a third parable from the lips of Jesus.

And it’s also about the authority of Jesus and the dignity of Jesus.

And, because this is the Gospel of Matthew (keep your eye on the ball!), it’s also about the identity of Jesus.

Because it’s always about the identity of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

“Who is this Jesus?”

And when you know the answer to that question, you are compelled to follow Him.

All we’re going to do today is look at this parable.

Just verses 1 through 14.

And I’m going to title the message from the command in verse 4, “Come to the Wedding Banquet.”

Because that’s the point of the story, “Come to the Wedding Banquet.”

Remember, parables are stories with a shove.

So if we read this parable, and we don’t feel at least a little bit shoved, we’re doing it wrong. Because Jesus certainly did it right. V.1

“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”

Stop there for just a second.

There’s a lot there in that first sentence.

This is what the kingdom of heaven is like.

Remember, the kingdom is Jesus’ favorite things to teach about. The kingdom of God is His favorite subject.

And here we have an analogy to the kingdom of heaven.

It’s like a time when king prepared a wedding banquet for his son.

Now, I think that all three of those things in the story stand for something in reality.

The king is like God the Father.

And the son of the king is like God the Son.

Now, this Son we know is Jesus, but they haven’t put all of that together yet.

And the Son only gets mentioned in this verse (v.2), but He’s really important to the whole story.

The King is the main character. We get to see what He does.

But we know from verse 2 WHY He does it. It’s “for his son.”

And the wedding banquet. What is that?

I think it’s clearly a picture of the messianic banquet promised in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

It’s heaven!

It’s the enjoyment of the new heavens and the new earth.

It’s the kingdom!

The kingdom of God is a party.

It’s joy-filled jubilant flourishing enjoyment of the Messiah.

Who is the son of King.

Now, if that is all I we knew about this story, how do you think it will end?

It sounds like a good story, doesn’t it?

This king is putting on a lavish joyful sumptuous wedding banquet for his son.

Who wants to go to that? That sounds great!

And verse 2 will tell us that he’s sent out “Save the Date” invitations. There are people who have been told that this event was going to happen.

And now they are going to be told that all the preparations are finished, and it’s time to party. V.3

“He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.”

You never know what’s going to happen in one of Jesus’ stories!

These people say that they don’t want to come to the king’s party.

There is a word for that: treason.

Assuming that they are subjects of this king, why would they not want to come?

I don’t know.

It’s stupid.
It’s rebellion.
It’s dangerous.

We are not told here why they refused to come.

Perhaps they had thought the king was getting weak.

Perhaps he has a political rival, a neighboring kingdom that they were hoping would soon take over.

We are not told. But we can see from here that it’s a bad idea to refuse. V.4

“‘Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'”

It’s amazing how patient the king is. Isn’t it?

A lot like the last story, right? When the king kept sending those servants to collect the fruit.

Those servants were the prophets, and I think these servant are, as well.

Maybe these servants are the apostles. John the Baptist and Jesus’ disciples.

Because everything is ready. The kingdom of heaven is near.

“Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'”

Who’s banquet is it?

It’s the banquet of the son.

Here’s application point #1. It’s very obvious.

#1. COME TO JESUS.

He is the whole point of the banquet.

He is the whole point of the kingdom.

He is the whole point of everything!

Come to Jesus.

Put your faith in Him.
Put your trust in Him.
Put your hope in Him.

And begin to follow Him with your life.

He is where the life is.

I love the image of the big barbeque here. Oxen, fattened cattle.

Everything has been basted and marinated and is hot on the grill.

It’s summertime, grill time. That’s what it means to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior now and forever.

It’s to enjoy Him forever.

That’s what the kingdom. The kingdom is a party.

Have you come to Jesus?

Because, sadly, many people simply refuse to do so. V.5

“But they paid no attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.”

You never know what’s going to happen in one of Jesus stories!

It’s strange that these people are so apathetic. So indifferent to the kingdom.

They heard the servants say, “Come to the wedding banquet,” and they paid no attention and wandered off, one to his field, another to his business.

In a similar story that Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke, they make lame excuses as to why they are skipping the party.

Catch this: Every lame excuse is an affront to the dignity of the son of the king.

These folks just can’t be bothered to come to the wedding banquet of the son of the king!

That’s crazy!

You know sin is irrational.

It doesn’t make sense when you look at it under the microscope.

Why would anyone reject Jesus?

Why would anyone not come to Jesus?

But what kind of apathy do we see out there all over the place today?

Have you come to Jesus? Or are you making excuses?

These folks that Jesus was talking to were in the process of rejecting Him, most of them.

They should have been gladly running to Him and bowing the knee before their Messiah and King.

But they were turning up their noses, and worse. V.6

“The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.”

“Come to the wedding banquet.”

“No way. You’re dead!”

They are trying to overthrow the king.

That is shocking behavior.

But it’s what Israel had been doing for so long. V.7

“The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”

Now, that’s a least a picture of judgment and Hell.

That is what is in store for all who reject Jesus.

But it’s probably also predicting the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD.

We’ll think some more about all of that when we get to chapter 24.

Because Israel was rejecting their Messiah, they were going to face rejection themselves.

Come to Jesus before it’s too late.

Do you think that the king was over-reacting?

Obviously, they had mistreated and murdered some of his servants, so a judicial response was required.

But there is something greater than the servants that was being mistreated, wasn’t there?

The son!

They were rejecting his son. And what is the proper response to that?

Come to Jesus. Don’t reject the Son.

I was just reading Psalm 2 this week.

It warns the kings of the earth. It says, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

If you don’t receive the Son, there will be Hell to pay.

But there is blessing for those who take refuge in Him.

Come to Jesus.

But there is still a barbeque on.

The city is burning, but there is still a party waiting to happen at the king’s palace. V.8

“‘Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”

#2. INVITE OTHERS TO JESUS.

He’s too good to keep Him to ourselves.

The King says, “Go out an invite others to the banquet.”

Who does he want to come?  “Anyone you find!”

Hit the streets!
Beat the bushes!
All around town and out in the country.

What is this?

This is the Great Commission.

This is the Good News Cruise.

This is our calling to invite people to come to Jesus.

Any one we can find.

Are we supposed to look for people who are like us?

Sure. But not just them.

Are we supposed to look for people in the same social and economic level as us?

Sure. But not just them.

Are we supposed to invite people from other countries?

Yes! And from around here.

This is a general call to tell everybody about the wedding banquet.

So that the wedding hall gets filled with guests.

Whom have you invited to come to Jesus?

Whom have you told about the kingdom of heaven?

What are we doing to populate the wedding hall with the guests of the son of the king?

Yesterday at the Men’s Breakfast, one of the men told his story of coming to faith in Christ.

He came from a Christian family and looked on the outside like a believer.

I thought he was. I didn’t know he wasn’t.

But he was resistant.

And the Lord was calling him to Himself.

And Blair saw through his mask and went after him and invited him to come to Jesus.

And it didn’t happen right away. Ask him about how it happened.

But then the dam broke, and he came in to faith in Christ.

I think it’s interesting that Jesus say in verse 10 that the “good and bad” both came in.

I think that means that there is hope even for the religious if they will repent. Guys like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

But Jesus is looking for the bad, too.

I love it that that this church is not afraid to go after the last, the least, and the lost.

And the hardened and even the scary.

That the Wild Game Dinner has some scary looking hombres.

And the Sons of God reach out to the harder MC’s.

And who knows who might drive up this coming Saturday or come to look at all of the beautiful cars?

We need to invite them to come to Jesus.

To not chicken out. The king is sending us!

He has room at the banquet, and we’re His servants running with the wedding invitation.

Who are you inviting to the Good New Cruise?

Who are you telling about Jesus?

Who are you telling about the kingdom of heaven?

So that the wedding hall is full to overflowing.

You never know what is going to happen in one of Jesus stories!

You might think that this story is over and it’s a happily-ever-after story.

And it is for those who came the right way to the wedding banquet.

But not everybody did. V.11

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. ‘Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' ‘For many are invited, but few are chosen.’”

You never know what is going to happen in one of Jesus’ stories!

This guy is at the banquet.

He didn’t refuse to come.

But he’s not wearing wedding clothes.

That might mean that he didn’t wash before coming. He’s dirty as all get out.

Or the king might have provided clothing for the wedding. Not just food but clothes.

That’s possible.

Either way, this guy has refused to come presentably to the wedding.

Do you know what he’s doing?

He’s insulting the king and His son.

He’s showing contempt for the king and His son.

When they confront him, he has no excuse. He is speechless.

Not because the king is being unreasonable, but because he has no good reason for being at this wedding in such an unpresentable way.

He was happy to eat the food, but he wasn’t about to change.

Here’s application point #3.

#3. CHANGE FOR JESUS.

This guy was not willing to change.

I’m not exactly sure what the wedding clothes represent in this parable.

They might be salvation.
They might be faith.
They might be Jesus’ imputed righteousness placed on our account.

Those are all good possibilities with biblical precedent.

I tend to think they stand for repentance.

Like John the Baptist was preaching.

This guy thought he could get in without repenting.

He thought he could get all of the benefits of the kingdom without actually entering the kingdom.

He thought He could thumb his nose at the son of the king and still be okay.

But now he stands exposed and condemned with no excuse.

Are you willing to change for Jesus?

Whatever He wants, that’s what He should get.

What do you need to change for Jesus?

An attitude?
A habit?
A relationship?
A priority?

Let me ask you a question. Do you think the king was over-reacting here?

I mean, the guy actually came to the wedding!

Why is he being tossed out into what amounts to Hell?  Handcuffed and thrown outside into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Keep your eye on the ball.

It’s because of the insult it was to the Son, isn’t it?

It’s like he was wearing a t-shirt with an ugly word on it and a picture of the bridegroom.

That’s what it’s like when we claim to love Jesus but refuse to allow Him to change us.

Remember, Jesus is expecting fruit.

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

V.14. “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Many hear the outward call but not all of them respond in faith.

Many, in fact, are apathetic.
Many, in fact, are hostile.

And some play act like they are “in,” but you can tell by looking at them that they most certainly are not.

How do you know if you are chosen?

You repent and you come to Jesus and you allow Him to change you.

And you honor the Son.

You kiss the Son.

You bow before the Son.

You exalt the Son.

And you enjoy the Son forever.

Because you come to the wedding banquet.

***

Previous Messages in This Series:01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

New Interview on "Resisting Gossip" at CLC Publications

I was asked some really good questions by the folks at CLC Publications in this interview about the recent release of the audiobook version of Resisting Gossip:

Why should people read (or now listen to!) this book?

What do people “gain” from gossip that encourages them to continue to do it?

Do you believe that gossip in churches has decreased? Why or why not?

What we can do daily to eliminate the urge to gossip?

Check out my answers here.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

“Expecting Fruit” [Matt's Messages]

“Expecting Fruit”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
August 4, 2019 :: Matthew 21:18-46

We have reached what we called last time Jesus’ Crucial Week. Also called Passion Week or Holy Week. This is the week in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus has entered into Jerusalem on Sunday and will be crucified by Friday.

It’s the most Crucial Week of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Last time, we got through Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, the crowds were shouting “Hosanna!” because the Son of David came riding into town on a donkey.

On Monday, the Son of David was tossing tables in the temple.

He was angrily protesting the profiteering going on in His Father’s house.

And then when the dust settled, he was healing the blind and the lame who came to Him for help in the temple and the children were still shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

In verse 17, it says that Jesus went out of the city to the village of Bethany where He spent the night.

So today’s stories apparently take place on Tuesday of Jesus’ Crucial Week.

Now, before we get into our text for today, I need to prepare you for something you’re probably going to notice and feel as we get further into this Crucial Week.

It’s almost a change that’s going come.

Jesus is going to start talking a lot about judgment.

It’s not the first time that He’s done that. We’ve seen it sprinkled here and there throughout the Gospel of Matthew.

This isn’t a different Jesus. But that side of Jesus is going to be much more prominent as Jesus teaches during His Crucial Week.

It’s not just that He is involved in controversy with the Jewish Religious Leaders.

But He has a message of coming judgment that sounds and feels and truly is heavy, weighty, serious, grave.

Obviously, Jesus just was wreaking havoc on the tables and benches of the moneychangers yesterday! There is more of that kind of judgment to come.

In fact, the story begins on Tuesday morning with Jesus cursing a fig tree.

I’ll read the first two verses. Matthew 21:18 and 29.

“Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.”

Do you see what I mean?

This is a side to Jesus that we don’t always hear about or think about, but it’s Who He is.

First off, notice that Jesus was hungry.

That shows us how human Jesus was. Fully human.

And He wanted some breakfast from this fig tree (by the way, if you compare notes with the Gospel of Mark, you find out that this happened over two days, probably Monday and Tuesday of Jesus’ Crucial Week. Matthew puts all of the details together in his story and doesn’t chronology).

But Jesus wants some fruit from this fig tree, and it doesn’t have any fruit.

It doesn’t “give a fig.”

It looked like it was going to have fruit (at least the early fruit that doesn’t take good but can fill a hungry tummy). The leaves are there.

But it’s false advertising! It’s deceptive.

And what I understand from my study this week is that if it has leaves but no fruit at this time of the year then it will not have fruit for the rest of the year.

It’s just a hypocritical liar of a tree acting like it’s bearing fruit but actually doing no such thing.

Got it?

So instead of this being Jesus just throwing a fit because He’s “hangry” (insight from Pastor Kerry Doyal), I suspect that Jesus is making a point, using this tree as an illustration.

“May you never bear fruit again!” And the tree withers.

Now, that is harsh. We don’t usually see Jesus doing miracles of destruction!

Thankfully!

Thankfully, most of His miracles are miracles of restoration and health and peace and life.

But Jesus is capable of miracles of death and destruction, as well.

And when He does a miracle like that, it’s a picture of judgment.

Here’s our sermon title for today.

“Expecting Fruit.”

Jesus is expecting fruit, and when and where He does NOT find that expected fruit, there will be consequences.

I came up with some alternate titles for this message.

One was, “Where’s the Fruit?” But it was probably too 1980's for most people to get.

I had another on “Show Me the Fruit!” but that’s also probably dated by now as a cultural reference.

And neither of those titles reflect the gravity of what is going on here.

Jesus is expecting fruit, and when and where He does NOT find that expected fruit, there are serious consequences.

But before we get to the serious consequences, Jesus takes this story in an unexpected direction.

The fruit tree withers, and Jesus uses that, first off, as an illustration of the power of prayer. V.20

“When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. ‘How did the fig tree wither so quickly?’ they asked. Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’”

I have three points of application this morning.

#1. PRAY IN FAITH.

Which would, of course, be exhibiting fruit!

If you pray in faith, that’s an example of the kind of fruit Jesus expects.

Now, I have a love/hate relationship with passages like this one.

I love that Jesus promises big answers to prayer.

I hate that I’m not always sure how literally to take them.

If you remember, Jesus said something similar back in chapter 17, and we decided that He didn’t mean that literally this mountain would up and get tossed into the sea.

Jesus never did a miracle like that, and the apostles never did either in the Book of Acts.

He’s probably using a figure of speech.

But that word “whatever” in verse 22 sure sounds like “anything.” Like a blank check.

But we know from the rest of the Bible that God doesn’t just do whatever we ask in our prayers. We have to pray according to His will.

And Paul gets told, “No.”
And Peter gets told, “No.”

And even Jesus got told, “No.” to some of His prayer requests.

So this isn’t a blank check. And it’s a magic lamp.

And God is not our genie in a bottle.

BUT!!!

This is a big promise!

Jesus is telling the disciples that they will do bigger things than pronounce judgment.

And Jesus is saying that His Father will be answering big prayer requests.

We need to not fall into the ditch of explaining away these unblushing promises.

We need to stay out of the ditch of presumption, but we also need to stay out of the ditch of unbelief.

And we need to pray in faith.

What are you praying for these days?

Are you praying for big things?

I don’t mean are you praying for a flashy new car or a cushy new job.

I mean are you praying for reconciliation with a personal enemy?

Are you praying for healing in our nation?

Are you praying for salvation for the lost?

That’s a miracle right there.

If you pray for a lost person and they get saved, that’s a bigger miracle than the fig tree withering on the spot.

I have a hymn posted above my desk that I look at every week. It’s by John Newton who also wrote “Amazing Grace.”

This one is called "Come, my soul, thy suit prepare" or Thou Art Coming to a King.”

Verse 2 says:

Thou art coming to a King,
large petitions with thee bring,
for his grace and pow'r are such,
none can ever ask too much.

So we pray in faith.

Believing in God’s reality, God’s power, God’s goodness, and God’s wisdom.

And whenever we bring these big prayer requests, we say like the Savior, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”

What are you praying for?

Let’s pray big!

I’m ashamed of all of the times when I’ve not trusted God’s reality, power, wisdom, and goodness enough to go big with my prayers.

“If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Now, the chief priest and elders are not happy with how this week is going.

They were really frustrated with Jesus yesterday when everybody was shouting praise at Him and when He was disrupting the commerce in the temple.

And here He is again today back at the temple and teaching without a license!

So they try to put a stop to it. V.23

“Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you this authority?’”

What is the question behind that question?

Keep your eye on the ball. Remember, this is the Gospel of Matthew.

Keep your eye on the ball. What is the ball?

“Who is Jesus?”

Their question in other words is, “Who do you think you are? Huh?!”

“Who do you think you are to come in here and do these things and say these things?”

“By what authority and who gave this authority?”

Now, that’s a good question, but they didn’t really want the answer.

They wanted Jesus to be embarrassed or trapped by the question.

But Jesus is neither embarrassed or trapped by the question! In fact, He turns it around and aims it right back at them. V.24

“Jesus replied, ‘I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. [Ready?] John's baptism–where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?’”

That’s a masterful reply, isn’t it?

Because it contains the answer, doesn’t it?

I mean He’s asking about John the Baptist. What did John the Baptist mean by His baptism?

What did John the Baptist preach when He was baptizing?

“Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.”

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance!” Remember that one?

And what did John the Baptist say about Jesus?

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12).

And the next thing He does is baptize Jesus and all Heaven breaks loose!

“So, guys, John's baptism–where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”

And so their team huddles up and decides how to answer that one.

But they don’t like either of the options. V.25

“They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men'–we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ [Don’t want to get into trouble with them. Fraidy cats.] So they answered Jesus, ‘We don't know.’ Then he said, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Which is another masterful answer.

Because He has basically already told them, but He’s still in the driver’s seat.

So if we’re keeping track at home today, this is Jesus 1, the leaders 0.

“Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

But Jesus will tell them 3 parables that all answer the question from another direction.

Today, we’ll get through the first two parables. V.28

“‘What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' ‘'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. ‘Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. ‘Which of the two did what his father wanted?’”

Stop there for a second.

Jesus is back to storytelling. Parables are stories with a shove.

He’s got 3 shoves that He’s going to give these guys.

They all really pack a punch.

In this first story, the man with two sons is basically God with two kinds of putative disciples. Supposed disciples.

The first son is the shocking son.

Think about that in this culture.

“There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' ‘'I will not,' he answered...”

That is shocking!

That is completely dishonoring and disrespecting.

That son is in trouble.

He’s like the prodigal son, isn’t he?

He has just insult his father.

But later he REPENTS. He has a change of mind and actually does go and do the work.

The second son looks good on paper, right?

He sounds great.

“He answered, 'I will, sir!”

You can count on me.
I’ll get right to that.
I’m your man.

But then he never shows up!

What’s he like?

He’s like that fig tree, right?

He’s got the leaves but not the figs.

He’s got the look but not the fruit.

And Jesus expects the fruit.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

Well, I’m sure he wanted to be told that he would do what he was asked to do.

Yes.

But which one actually did what the father asked? V.31

“‘The first,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John [the Baptist we were just talking about] came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”

#2. REPENT AND BELIEVE.

For real.

Not just for show.

The Pharisee and the Sadducees and the Chief Priests and the elders and the scribes all put on a good show.

They said that they were for real.

But there was no fruit.

They were all leaves and no figs.

But the prostitutes and the tax collectors and the meth heads and the child abusers.

They heard what John was saying and repented.

They turned around. They did the 180.

And they believed what John said about Jesus and they began to follow Him, and their lives were genuinely changed.

Church folk like you and me should be worried periodically.

We should be worried that we are “good” because we think we are “good.”

There is a real danger in “clean living.”

There is a real danger in being religious.

We have to ask ourselves on a regular basis if we are for real.

Paul says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

And the test is, “Have I repented and believed?” Or “Am I repenting and believing?”

Am on the “way of righteousness” from verse 32?

That’s the same “way” as we saw in Psalm 1 and Psalm 92 the last two weeks.

Am I on that road?

Is there fruit...or only leaves?

Am I the first son or the second one?

Be the first son.

Repent and believe.

Sadly, the leaders were being the second son.

And Jesus says that they are in trouble because He is expecting fruit. V.33

“‘Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. [Not figs now but grapes.] He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. [You can see where this is going, especially if you know that the Old Testament likened Israel to a vineyard. V.34]

 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
[He expects fruit. He it is rightful expectation for them to produce fruit for Him from this vineyard. So far, this story makes sense. But not it turns bizarre. V.35] The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. [What is going on?!!]

Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. ‘But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

‘Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’

‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,’ they replied, ‘and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.’”

They got into that story, didn’t they?

They got carried along and they didn’t even stop to think about who this story was about!

Who is this story about?

Roughly speaking (as most parables are only roughly speaking) the landowner is God the Father.

And the vineyard is the kingdom. And the fruit is the expected obedience that would come from faith in God.

Who are all of these fruit collectors, the servants?

They are probably the Old Testament prophets, right?

This is the story of the Old Testament.

And look how patient God is!

The listeners can’t believe how patient He is to keep sending these servants.

And then He sends His son!

And these murderous tenants get it into their foolish brains that if they kill the son, they can keep the produce for themselves.

(That’s not how it works.)

But they do it anyway.

The kill the son.

Says...the Son. Standing the temple on Tuesday of that Crucial Week.

All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem to harsh for the fig tree to wither.

Because it stands for the justice of God in rightfully expecting fruit and finding none.

“What will he do to those tenants?”

“‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,’ they replied, ‘and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.’” v.42

“Jesus said to them, [Uh huh.] ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? [Psalm 118? Have you never read that? Don’t you think that applies here?] ‘Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will [what?] produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.’ When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way [to fulfill this parable and] to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.”

It won’t last.

By the end of the week, this prophetic parable will be enacted.

And they will throw the Son out and kill Him.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Who is Jesus?

He is the Son in the parable.

He is also the stone.

The stone rejected by the builders but turns out to be capstone.

And the stone that though once rejected comes to reject them.

If you fall on this stone in unbelief, you will be broken to pieces.

And if this stone falls on you in judgment, you will be crushed.

Because the Lord Jesus expects fruit.

#3. BEAR FRUIT.

That means to submit Jesus’ authority and to live like He says to.

This is the answer to their question.

“By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?”

By God’s authority.
By My own authority!

The Father gave me this authority.

So you and I should submit.

Jesus is Lord.

Now, this is not to say that Jesus expect perfection out of us or we aren’t real.

He knows what we are.

He knows what we will continue to struggle with.

But He does require us to be real.

To trust Him and obey Him.

To repent and to believe.

And to change!

Jesus expects us to be different from the world and different from how we used to be.

And He doesn’t appreciate it when we ignore Him and His commands.

Especially when we claim to believe and follow Him and then don’t show up.

In what areas of your life do you need to bear fruit?

Remember, you can only bear fruit by faith, by being vitally connected to the vine.

You can’t bear fruit on your own.

With Jesus we can do nothing.

We need to abide in the Vine.

But we need to abide in the Vine and bear much fruit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Is that you?

This is Jesus once more calling us to live out the Sermon on the Mount.

Upside-down and inside-out.

Not like the world.

And bearing fruit out our faith.

In what areas of your life do you need to bear fruit?

Jesus is expecting it.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David

Saturday, August 03, 2019

"Radically Different" by Champ Thornton

Just got my hands on the brand new resource from Champ Thornton, Radically Different: A Student's Guide to Community and its matching parent/leader guide.

These books officially come out on Monday, but I got to read some advanced versions and offer this unqualified endorsement:
Raise your hand if you want the middle-schoolers in your life to understand the world and their place in it. Good news! Champ Thornton has crafted a terrific new resource to help students make sense of...well, everything, especially the tangled world of relationships. Utilizing the #GoodBadNew biblical storyline worldview lens, "Radically Different: A Guide to Community" gives readers simple yet profound hooks on which to hang all of the complicated relational aspects of their young lives. By investing a just little time in this creative Bible study, teens will gain great clarity in how to relate to their parents, friends, family, church, and God. If you raised your hand, you will want to give this clever book out to all of those beloved middle-schoolers and maybe grab a leader's guide for yourself.
I'm a big fan of Champ's previous books The Radical Book for Kids and Pass It On, and this one is no less good. I'm scheming up ways to use it in youth ministry this Fall.