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Sunday, May 30, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and Our Stuff"

“Jesus and Our Stuff”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
May 30, 2010
Luke 12:13-34

Last week, Jesus was talking to a huge crowd.  They were trampling each other.  And He was talking about being real.  Not a fake like the Pharisees.  Not afraid of other people.  Not ashamed to talk about Him.  But real.

And in verse 13, Jesus gets interrupted by a request from a man in the crowd.  I don’t think that he’s been listening to Jesus very closely at all.  He’s got his mind on something else.  And it comes out.  Luke 12 verse 13.

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’”

You can tell that this guy is fixated on this problem he has.

He’s got a dispute going on with his brother over an inheritance–who gets the stuff?

And Jesus won’t play that game.  V.14

“Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’”

“That’s not what I’m here for right now.

Someday, I will judge all things and all people. But, right now, I’m not getting caught up in a petty little dispute that you have with your brother over — stuff!”

Jesus takes this opportunity, right now, as a teachable moment to teach on stuff.

On money, possessions, things, riches, treasures.  Our Stuff.

“Jesus and Our Stuff.”

It was just about a year ago that we had a Summer Sermon Series on Stuff.

We called it “In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.”

The Bible has a LOT to say about money and possession–our stuff.

We learned last year to say, “Money is [...what?] profoundly spiritual.”

And God owns all of the money in the world.  We are just stewards.

And we spent a few months unpacking those truths and others.

Well, here, Jesus goes on to say two main things about our stuff.

#1.  DON’T BE GREEDY.  Look at verse 15.

“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Last week, Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

This week, He has another warning.  “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”

Greed is a craving, a love, a worship, an inordinate desire for money and things.

“Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”

Why?

“[Because] a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Life is not stuff.
Stuff is not life.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Jesus could see through this man’s request.  It sounds like a simple request for help.

Actually, it sounds little a like a demand.  “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  Give me my share of the stuff!  It’s only fair!

But Jesus says,

Life is not stuff.
Stuff is not life.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Don’t be greedy.

And He illustrates this truth with a parable.  We call it the Parable of the Rich Fool.

Let’s look at it again.

There is rich man who has a problem.  It’s the kind of problem that we all like to have.  V.16

“And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.  [That’s his problem!]  He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'”

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that this man had a bumper crop?

Good, right?

Is he wrong to think about the problem of storage?

No, that could be good planning, right?

Jesus lets us listen in to his thoughts.  V.18

“Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I'll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’'”

Now, is there anything wrong with this plan?

Are big barns bad?
Is storage bad?
Is retirement bad?

There is something wrong here.  Listen to verse 20.

“‘But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'”

What was wrong with this rich fool?

What was wrong with his thinking?

Anybody?

Two things stand out to me.

First, he only thought about himself.

If you read over his thought process, his favorite three people are “me, myself, and I.”  Right?  I’ll do this.  I’ll do that.  I’ll get to take life easy: eat, drink, and be merry!

But no one else figures in.  No other people. 

What else could he have done with some of that extra grain?  Give it away, right?

No other people.  And especially not God.

And other thing he did wrong was that he only thought about this life.

He thought he had so many more years to enjoy.

But he only had one evening left.

And that changes everything, doesn’t it?

Life is short, and it’s not about stuff.  V.21

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Be Rich Toward God!

The one thing I don’t want to hear on the night I go to be with God is “You fool!”

Yikes!

I want to be rich toward God.

Now, that doesn’t mean to bribe God.

As we know, that can’t be done.  He already owns it all.  And we’re just stewards.

But it does mean to be aware of God and that our relationship with Him is the most important thing–much more important than getting more stuff.

You’ve heard the bumper sticker, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.”

But the truth is the bumper sticker, “The one who dies with the most toys still dies.”

And then what?

You can’t take it with you.

Hearses don’t pull U-Hauls!

Jesus says, “Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

Don’t be greedy.  Life is not about stuff.

Our society just doesn’t get that.  We are on a mad dash to accumulate stuff, stuff, stuff.

We think Jesus is a heretic.  “A man’s life DOES consist in the abundance of his possessions!”  That’s how we Americans live.  It’s our American dream!

But the truth is:

Life is short, and it’s not about stuff.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Do you need to hear that today?

So often our possessions possess us.

Yesterday, the kids and I cleaned out our storage shed.

Ugh.  What a job.   Where does all that stuff come from?

I know where it comes from.

And it’s not where real life.

It’s not in your shed, in your garage, in your freezer, in your house, in your land, in your bank account, in your 401K.

Life is not stuff.
Stuff is not life.
So don’t make your life about stuff.

Don’t be greedy.

What changes do you need to make be rich toward God?

For some of us, it’s simplifying.  For some of it’s just plain giving.

For some of us, it will mean a change in priorities because your in the rat race trying hard to get a bigger piece of the cheese, and it’s got your life out of whack.

What changes do you need to make to be rich toward God?

Jesus doesn’t just take on greed here, though.

We can mess up with stuff without trying to get more and more and more.

We can also mess up by worrying about our stuff.

#2.  DON’T BE WORRIED.  V.22

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

Don’t be worried.

I find this one harder to keep from doing that being greedy.

I can be content and not need bigger barns, but it’s hard for me to turn off the worry switch.

Jesus says that “life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

Now, I don’t care about clothes a lot, but I do like food.  And if I lived in the situation these people lived in, where finding the next meal was a life or death business, I would be prone to worry!

I worry and I have a full freezer.

But Jesus says there are more important things than food and clothes. Don’t worry about them. Don’t worry about your stuff.

And He goes to nature for illustrations.  V.24

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

Sounds like last week, doesn’t it?

Last week it was sparrows.  Here it’s ravens.

Jesus isn’t saying that we shouldn’t work.

He saying that we shouldn’t worry.

We are more valuable than birds–and God feeds them!  V.25

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

What’s the answer to that one?  None of us can!

Worrying doesn’t work!

And alternative translation asks who can add 18" to their height (a cubit) by worrying?

Can anyone do that here?  I’d like to see that trick.

Worrying doesn’t work!  So why do it?  V.26

“Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Worry is ineffectual.

And, in fact, it dishonors God.  V.27

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!”

Now, this picture up here is not a lily.  It’s a daisy, I think.

It was taken by my lovely photographer wife.

I think it looks professional.

But as great a job as Heather did of taking the picture, she didn’t make the flower look beautiful.

It just is.  And the flower didn’t labor or spin.  And Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these.

If God does this every day for little flowers, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith?

Don’t be worried.

Do you see how Jesus equates worry with unbelief?

“O you of little faith” equals worry-warts.

We dishonor God when we worry.

When we worry, we are setting our hearts on the wrong things.  V.29

“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”

Of course, unbelievers will run after STUFF.

What else could they do?  What else seems important?

Of course, the world will worry!  They are orphans.

But we have a Father.

Christ-followers have a Father.  A Heavenly Father.  And He knows what you need.

He knows.

He knows.  Trust Him.

Worry is the opposite of faith.

Trust your Father and seek His kingdom. V.31

“But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Seek His Kingdom.

It’s a matter of focus.

What are you focused on?

If you are focused on STUFF, you’ll either get greedy or worried.

But if you are focused on the Lord and His Kingdom, then the other stuff you need will be there when you need it.

Our economy is shaky.  We’ve been going through what some are calling the Great Recession.

And it’s to be afraid.  But we belong to God.  V.32

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

We don’t have to buy the kingdom!

The kingdom is the most valuable thing in the world, and God is pleased to give it to us!

He’s happy to give it to us.

It’s grace!

It’s free.

It comes to us through what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

He paid the whole thing!

And we get the whole thing.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

So make it your focus.

Seek His Kingdom.

What does that look like?  Well, one thing is GENEROUS GIVING.  V.33

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

He’s talking about investing in the kingdom which always means giving of some sort.

Randy Alcorn says, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead!”

When you give, somehow in the amazing, mysterious ways of our gracious God, you store up a treasure in heaven for yourself that can’t be taken away.

Seek His Kingdom.

How are you doing at that?

I know that we have a church full of generous givers.

I am constantly learning about giving from watching many of you.

But Jesus’ words call for us to examine ourselves again. 

How are we each doing at investing in the Kingdom?

Family Bible Week begins in just 21 days.

And I want to tell you a little bit in advance about this year’s FBW Missions Project.

We’re participating in something called “The Red Backpack Project.”

The EFCA is trying to raise $50,000 to buy, sew, and ship 5,000 red backpacks to the Congo.

Each backpack costs $10.

At the Challenge Conference that Lucas Kristofits is going to, there will be teams of  sewing these Red Backpacks together to go to the Congo.

Why a Red Backpack?

“A red backpack is given to every sponsored child in our EFCA GlobalFingerprints program. All of the children that benefit from GlobalFingerprints have suffered in some way through war, poverty, HIV/Aids, or malnutrition and have lost one or both of their parents. The red backpack project helps solve this problem by providing children with the things they need. It is filled with basic hygiene and school supplies and a Bible. It is a treasured possession that stores all their worldly possessions.”

For some of these kids, all of their STUFF fits in this backpack.

I’m excited about participating in this project this year.

For where my treasure is, there my heart will be also.

Where my stuff is, there my heart will be also.

And I want my heart to be in the Kingdom!

I don’t want to be characterized by greed.  By making my life about more and more stuff.

And I don’t want my life to be characterized by worry. By faithlessly setting my heart on what I’ll eat or drink or wear.

But I want to seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to me, as well.

And I’ll bet that’s how you feel, too!

Being Real with Jesus

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Danger and Beauty of Thinking

Below is the trailer (?) for the 2010 Desiring God National Conference: THINK.

I thought was particularly well done--incorporating the arts, especially film-making--and clearly communicating the message of the conference.  Can't wait to listen to the conference recordings.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A New Grapefruit Video Song

Pomplamoose is at it again. This one is called "Another Day." Lovin' it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost about LOST

I told my wife yesterday that the finale of LOST was going to be on last night.

She said, "I don't even know what that is."

And even though I have a better idea from some of the things I've read, I don't really know what  LOST was either.  Never seen an episode.  Never really wanted to.

But many many loved it right up to the last show.

Trevin Wax had some Lessons from LOST this morning, and while I don't understand any of the details [being lost about LOST] I thought they sounded like good lessons.

He has a great conclusion:

Why did Lost strike such a chord? Because this desire for meaning and purpose behind our individual stories is very much wired into us as humans. Lost never fully succeeded at satisfactorily tying the stories together into the show’s meta-narrative. But there is one Story that will.
The Christian faith teaches that we are part of a Story that is about Jesus Christ, the King of the universe. The slain Lamb is the conquering king – through whom and for whom our world exists.
Ironically, when we live as if our personal story is at the center of our universe, we struggle to find meaning and significance. But when Christ is at the center and we are pushed to the periphery, it is then – in that place of seeming obscurity and insignificance – that we find true worth and value, by giving glory to the King with whom we can become united through faith.
At the great finale of the history of this world, when the King returns and subdues everything under his feet, when God becomes all in all and sums up everything in Christ, all of this world’s suffering and pain, all of our unanswered questions will be resolved in light of the God who comes to dwell with man and wipe every tear from every eye.
Now that is a finale worth waiting for!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Being Real with Jesus"

“Being Real with Jesus”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
May 23, 2010
Luke 12:1-12

I know that I use that word “Real” a lot.  But it’s for a good reason.  I don’t want to play games.  Too many so-called “Christians” just play games with Christianity.

But we’re not interested in that here at Lanse Free Church. We want the real thing.  The real deal.

That’s what Jesus wants!

And here in chapter 12, that’s what He asks of us.  “Being Real with Jesus.”

I’d like to apply Jesus’ message here with three points of application this morning.

The first is #1.  REAL YOU: DON’T BE A FAKE LIKE THE PHARISEES.

I get that from Luke 12, verse 1.

“Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

This picks up where we left off last week.  Things have been heating up for Jesus, specifically with the Jewish Religious Leaders and the religious party of the Pharisees.

They have come to hate Jesus. The last verse of the last chapter says that they were opposing Him fiercely, besieging Him with questions, and trying to catch Him in something He might say.

They have come to hate...because He can see right through and is exposing what is wrong with them.

And here, Jesus has a great big crowd–thousands have gathered, they’re falling all over each other–and Jesus begins to teach again–especially to His disciples, and what comes out of His mouth is another warning against the Pharisees.  No wonder they hate Him. He says, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

Jesus is calling for His followers to be REAL.  Not hypocrites.

Hypocrisy is playacting, it’s playing a part.

It’s a being a “poser.”

It’s saying one thing and doing another.

It’s putting up a good show, but not being real on the inside.

We saw this last week, when Jesus talked about the outside of the dish being cleaned but the inside being filthy.  Remember that?

That’s what the Pharisees were doing.  They were, in a word, fakes.

And Jesus says, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees.”

Now, He’s not saying to be on your guard against the Pharisees.  That’s not what he’s saying here.  What is He warning us about?

He’s warning us about becoming like them.

What does yeast do?  It gets in the dough, gets worked around and then spreads and grows, right?

It’s like an infection.

Jesus might have said, “Beware the infection of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.”

Don’t let yourself be a little fake like them because it will spread and grow, spread and grow.

Be real.

Live real before God.  Don’t play games.

Don’t play religious games.
Don’t try to hide.

Be real with God.

Here’s why.  Hypocrisy doesn’t work.  V.2

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

God knows what is real.  You can’t fool Him.

And while you can fool other people for a little bit of time, one day soon, all will be known.  So don’t try.

Don’t be a fake like the Pharisees.

My favorite television show of all time is the Dick Van Dyke Show from the early 1960's.  I have 3 of the 5 seasons on DVD.

Absolutely love Rob & Laura Petrie, Buddy, and Sally, and Mel!   I want to be Dick Van Dyke when I grow up!

Heather and I were watching an episode on Friday night called “All About Evesdropping.”

Rob & Laura’s son, Ritchie had set up an intercom system with their next door neighbors Gerry & Millie Helper’s son.  And they accidentally turn it on and can hear everything that their neighbors are saying about them in the privacy of their own home.  Oh boy!

The Helper’s are complaining about a few of the shortcomings of the Petrie’s right before a dinner party.  And it is absolutely hilarious how they then act because they’ve listened in.

But I don’t think it would be hilarious if that happened to all of us.

What if our all of our small talk got broadcasted throughout the world?

What if what everything we said in our living rooms got put on TV?

What if everything we thought got put on the internet?

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

Hypocrisy does not work! 

Not in the long run. There is a day of disclosure coming soon.

So, what’s important is to be real right now.

The Real You with the Real God.

Are you real with God?
           
Do you have a real relationship with God?

Jesus’ death and resurrection provide both the forgiveness and the power that you need.  The forgiveness to be real. You don’t have to hide anything.  And the power to be real–to really live for Christ.

One of the biggest reasons why Christians act like fakes is because they are afraid.

Especially afraid of other people.

And that’s what Jesus takes up next.

#2.  REAL FEAR: DON’T BE AFRAID OF OTHER PEOPLE.  Look at verse 4.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m inclined to be afraid of those who can kill my body!

If someone has a machine gun, I’m quaking in my boots!

But Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid of people who can only kill you.”

Don’t give them more power over you than they deserve.

The Bible calls that, “The Fear of Man.”  Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”

I think that we struggle A LOT with the fear of man.

That’s what “peer pressure is.”  That’s what keeping up with the Joneses is.

It’s worrying about what other people will think or say or do.
How much of our time is taken up with worrying (fearing) what other people will think, say, or do?

But Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid of them.”

Why?  Two reasons that go hand in hand.

Number One: There is someone you should fear.  V.5

“But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Who is that?

That’s not Satan.  Satan has the power to tempt, accuse, and oppress.

But the power to throw you into hell is God’s alone.

Yes, I tell you, fear God.

You know, when we see God for Who He really is, then our fear of people will go down, down, down.

Ed Welch has a great book on this with one of those titles that says it all.

When People Are Big and God Is Small


That’s the fear of man.

And the antidote is the fear of God.  When God is Big Then People Become Small.

And we are free to love them without being controlled by them.

Proverbs says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Now, that “fear” is not slavish fear.  It’s not cowering fear.

It’s reverent awe. It’s being amazed by the glory and holiness and greatness of God.

It’s loving fear.

I know that because of verses 6 and 7.  Jesus goes right from saying that we should fear God to saying how much He loves us and how much He values us!  V.6

“[Yes, I tell you, fear God.]  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Now, that doesn’t, at first, sound very reassuring.

You’re worth more than many sparrows!

Thanks.

But when you understand the argument, it’s very profound.

5 Sparrows are a very poor family’s meal.  Two small assaria is all that 5 sparrows are worth.  But not one of them is forgotten by God.

God cares about them.  He doesn’t forget.

How much more?  How much more are you worth to God?

Does He forget you?  It feels like it sometimes, I know.

But the very hairs on your head are numbered.

That’s easier for God with some of us than it is with others.

But God knows.  And doesn’t forget.  He cares.

So fear Him.  And fear no one else.

Don’t be afraid of what people think of you.

At school, at work, on the ballfield, at home.

Fear God, and fear no one else.

Fill up your mind and heart with the greatness of God, remember how much He cares for you–He cared enough to sacrifice His own Son!

And don’t be afraid of other people.

How are you going to apply that this week?

How are you going to be real with Jesus this week and say “No” to the fear of man?

Is there someone you need to stand up to?

Is there a statement that you need to make?

Is there an action that you need to stop worrying about what everything thinks of you and just do it?

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”  He cares.

Fear Him and fear no one else.

Maybe you need to speak out this week and share the Gospel with someone.

Share Jesus with someone.

That’s where Jesus goes next.  He goes to Real Witness.

#3.  REAL WITNESS.  DON’T BE ASHAMED OF JESUS.  V.8

“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.  But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”


Don’t Be Ashamed of Jesus.

In verse 8, Jesus promises to acknowledge (or confess) us before the angels of God–the heavenly courtroom of God Himself–if we acknowledge (or confess) Him before men.

Our tongues are tied to our hearts.  So, if our faith in Christ is real, we will give testimony to Jesus.

Romans 10:9&10.  “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.”

That’s one of the reasons why we do public baptisms.  When you step forward and give your testimony, you are acknowledging Jesus before men.

I’d like to do some baptisms in the late Summer this year.  Maybe in August or September?  If you have not been baptized yet as a faith-follower of Jesus, talk to me about acknowledging Him before men.

The opposite is scarey.  V.9

“Be he who disowns me before me will be disowned before the angels of God.”

That’s scarey.  If we say, “Forget you, Jesus!” then He will forget us.

That doesn’t mean that one can’t be forgiven for disowning Him at some point.

The Apostle Peter did that, didn’t he?  But Jesus forgave and reinstated him.

So, don’t read this and think, “Well, I guess there’s no hope for me, I won’t even try to repent.”  V.10 speaks to that, too.

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven.”  If he repents, of course.

There is grace. Come and get it.

But, the second half of verse 10 is just as scarey if not more so than verse 9.

“...but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

There’s the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.

What is this blaspheming the Holy Spirit?

Two years ago, we did our long series of sermons on the Holy Spirit and we learned what is the chief ministry of the Spirit to us.  Do you remember what it is?

It’s pointing to Jesus.

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit seems to be the obstinate rejection of the Holy Spirit’s witness to the person and work of Jesus.

If you ultimately reject what the Holy Spirit says about Jesus, then you cannot be forgiven.  Because you will not accept His forgiveness.

This is more like Judas than Peter.  Peter repented, believed in Jesus and was forgiven.

Judas had all of the privileges of a disciple, but He renounced them and betrayed Jesus and walked away from everything the Spirit was saying about Jesus.

And He was lost.  Doomed.

Don’t be ashamed of Jesus.

Don’t turn your back on Him.

Don’t walk away.

Don’t be ashamed of Jesus.

Don’t be ashamed to speak up about Jesus!

God will give you the power and the words!  That’s the point of verses 11 and 12.

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit [there He is again!] will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Don’t worry about it.

Don’t be afraid of what other people will think or do or say.

Fear God and don’t worry about it.

Just speak out and talk about Jesus.

Now, verse 11 doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prepare when we speak to others.

I spent a lot of time this week preparing this message to speak to you.

But there will be times that we can’t prepare for, and we don’t need to worry about them.

Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will teach us at that time (not before and not after) what we should say.

Don’t be ashamed of Jesus.

Be a real witness.  Talk to someone about Him this week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Catch with Peter






Peter has joined Drew in playing baseball this year.

This is him and me warming up before the game.

Fast camera work by Mommy.

Monday, May 17, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Judgment to Come"

“Jesus and the Judgment to Come”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
May 16, 2010
Luke 11:29-54

We’ve noticed together over the last few weeks that things are heating up for Jesus.  Jesus is getting closer and closer to His fateful time in Jerusalem.  He is disagreeing more and more with the Pharisees and the scribes and the other religious leaders of the Jews.

In this chapter, Jesus has already been accused of working together with Satan!  That’s how “hot” things are getting for Jesus.

And Jesus has some very strong words in return.

In fact, these 26 verses include some of strongest words of Jesus against the leaders of this generation of Jews.

Jesus begins to talk strongly about the judgment to come.

“Jesus and the Judgment to Come”

In today’s passage, there are 3 overlapping groups of people that Jesus talks to and about.

First, “this generation.” Verses 29 through 36.  Jesus is generalizing what He sees as blameworthy in “this generation,” the generation of Jews that are alive right then, right there and are interacting with Him.

He doesn’t mean every single person in that generation–that would include His own disciples.  But He is talking about what He is seeing and experiencing in the present generation in general. And it’s not good.  In fact, it cries out for God’s judgment.

Which is coming.

The second group is one of the leaders of “this generation.”  It’s the Pharisees.  Verses 37-44.

Supposedly, the Pharisees were the holy-ones of Israel.  But Jesus could see right through them, and in fact, He proclaims “Woe” on them.  Jesus says “Woe to the Pharisees.”  Judgment is coming.

And the third group is the scribes or the “experts in the law.”  Verses 45-54.  The “experts in the law” were part-Bible professor and part-lawyer.  And they were supposed to be helping the people to know God, but instead, they were hindering the people from knowing God.  And Jesus says, “Woe” to them, too.

There was judgment coming upon them.

Jesus and the Judgment to Come.

Everyone needs to know that there is a judgment coming.

Our works, the things we have done, will be evaluated by God Himself.

God the Judge.

There is nothing He does not see.

And justice will be done and be seen to be done.

Perfect justice.  Not half-justice like we often see performed today.

Every wrong will be righted.

And every motive and secret will be made known.  And judged.

Today, I want us to walk through this passage, looking at each of the three groups that Jesus talks to and about and...see where they went wrong.

What did they do that was bringing the judgment of God upon them?

What did Jesus see that would cause Him to say such strong words?

Why these people were liable for judgment.

“Woe to You.”

Where did these people go wrong?

And then I want us to purpose in our hearts to do the exact opposite.

So, this is not just an academic exercise.  This is not just history.

This is application.  In reading where they went wrong, we have the chance to trust God and do the opposite by faith.

First, “this generation.”

Jesus says that the judgment is coming for them because they were:

#1.  BLIND TO WHO JESUS IS.

Look at verse 29.

“As the crowds increased, Jesus said, ‘This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’”

I think it’s interesting that as the crowds increased, Jesus’ message got stronger and harder!  We tend to think of people as watering down their messages as their crowds get bigger, because they are trying to please everybody.

But not Jesus.  Jesus is not trying to please people. And these people are not pleasing Him.

They are asking for (really demanding!) a sign.

We saw this in verse 16.  Jesus just did a miracle (healing a man with a demon that made him mute), and these people want a sign!

So Jesus says, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

What was the sign of Jonah?

Well, it was, at least, his preaching.  Jonah came to Nineveh with a call to repentance because there was judgment coming.

And how did the people at Nineveh respond to that message?

They repented, didn’t they?  Dirty Gentiles that were enemies of Jews! They repented!

But there might be more here than just Jonah’s message, right?

What happened to Jonah before he went to Nineveh?

He tried to run from God, right?  And what happened?

A big fish swallowed him.

He was three nights in the belly of a great fish.

Elsewhere Jesus says “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

What is the sign of Jonah?  Perhaps Jesus is also talking about his death, burial, and resurrection!  V.30 “For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.”

This generation wants a sign?  There is no greater sign that that.

But how will they respond?

You see, miracles don’t necessarily convince anyone.

We’ve seen that over and over again.  We think that if we just saw a miracle, then we would have faith.

But that’s not how it works. There is always another explanation, another interpretation, another excuse–another call for another proof–if there is an wicked, unbelieving heart.

Jesus gives another example. The Queen of Sheba.  Verse 31.

“The Queen of the South (Sheba, 1 Kings 10, 2 Chronicles 9) will rise at the judgment [there is the judgment to come] with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”

Do you see the picture? 

Do you know about the Queen of Sheba?  She had heard that Solomon was great and wise.  So she made a long journey to see.  And her breath was taken away by how great Solomon was.

But Jesus says there is now one greater than Solomon and you don’t have travel a long distance to see Him.  He’s right here.  It Jesus Himself.

And do they?

Do they see who Jesus is?

No.  And at the judgment, the Queen of Sheba will say, “It was obvious!”

And they be condemned.

And then Jesus goes back to Jonah and the Ninevites.  Verse 32.

“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”

One greater than Solomon.
One greater than Jonah.
       
And this generation is missing it altogether!
       
It is a great and grievous sin to be blind to who Jesus really is.

Because the facts are all out there.

I think that’s what Jesus is saying with His allusions to light and eyes in verses 33-36.

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”

I think the light here in this context is Jesus’ own preaching and teaching that points to who He is.

He is laying it all out before this generation.  Greater preaching that Nineveh got, not hidden, not under a bowl, on a stand, anyone who comes may see the light.

Hide it under a bushel, No!  Jesus has let it shine.

But were they letting the light in?  V.34

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.  See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.”

Now, I’m not altogether sure I know everything that this means, but what I think He’s saying is that our spiritual eyes can be open to the light or closed to the light.

And if we have good eyes that let in the light of the preaching of who Jesus is, then our whole self will be illuminated.

That’s why were pray, “Open the eyes of our heart, Lord!”

And when we do see Jesus for who He is, that shines to others.  V.36

“Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.’”

And other people will see it.

We will glow with Jesus’ light.

That’s why He says that He is the light of the world and if we believe in Him then we are the light of the world!

So, here’s the application.

Don’t be like this wicked generation that is BLIND to Who Jesus is.

Open Your Eyes to the Light!

Is this same thing happening today?

Are there people who are blindly missing who Jesus really is?

Unfortunately, yes.  We live in another wicked generation that is full of people who are willfully blind to the true identity of Jesus.

We need to pray for the people we know and love to open eyes to the light.

Who are you praying for right now?

Who are you praying that their eyes will be opened to the light?

This week, our family was given a gift of a big fish tank.  Actually, two fish tanks, and the smaller one is the one we’re using right now.  Just to get used to the idea.

And in the process of fixing up the fish tank to use, I found our old little fishbowl.

Do you remember that fishbowl that we had up here for the 2007-2008 school year?

It still had the little orange cards in it that with the names of those who we had been praying for.

Who are you praying for right now that their eyes would be open to light of Jesus?

I’m praying for some of you.

I’m sure that in a crowd this big, that not everyone here is yet open to seeing who Jesus really is–Jesus as God.  Jesus as Savior.  Jesus and King.  Jesus as the all-satisfying bread of life.

If your eyes are good, letting in the light of Jesus, then you will be full of light.

I want that for you.  But if your spiritual eyes are bad, then you will be full of darkness.

Open Your Eyes to the Light.

Now, Jesus gets specific with the Pharisees.  One of them invites him to his house which provides the occasion for a stinging object lesson.  Verse 37.

“When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table.  But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.”

Now, stop there a second.  This doesn’t mean that Jesus ate with dirty hands.

It means that Jesus didn’t do the ritual washings that the rabbis and the Pharisees had adopted for ritual purity.  The Old Testament law did not mandate these rituals, but at the time, anyone who wanted to be “spiritual” did them.

Jesus did not, and that surprised this Pharisee.

And Jesus uses this moment to offer a stinging rebuke.  V.39

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?  But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”

Jesus is saying that judgment is coming on the Pharisees because they were:

#2.  DIRTY ON THE INSIDE.

Jesus is such a master of the word picture and the teachable moment!

These Pharisees loved their cleanness.  Their ritual purity.

They had all kinds of rules about how you washed your hands.

First this hand, up to the wrist, then the second one, in a certain way.

And if you did it wrong, you had start over again.

But Jesus could see right through them.  He could see into their hearts.

And He says that, inside, they were full of greed and wickedness.

He begins in verse 42 to pronounce 3 “woes.”  Three judgments.   Three anouncements of judgment to come.

And all of them relate to this idea of hypocrisy.  Being one thing on the outside–looking good, and another thing on the inside–being really bad.  V.42

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter (justice and love of God) without leaving the former (tithing) undone.”

These Pharisees were amazing legalists.  They did the letter of the law perfectly.

“Tithe?  You bet.  We tithe our gardens!  If I found a penny on the ground, I would cut it up into 10 pieces and make sure that it got put into the treasury – and everyone see it.

But you have a need?  You’re struggling?

Sorry, I already gave at the office.”  “Woe to you.”

V.43 “‘Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.”

Again, that looks good on the outside.  “O, Pastor Matt, come up here and sit up front.  We’re so glad you’re here.”

They were proud.  They weren’t humble.

They might have made a great show of being humble!

But they loved to be made much of. 

V.44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”

Those are strong words!  Could Jews just walk on a grave?

No, they would become unclean if they did.  But Jesus is saying these guys are full of hidden impurity.

If you hang around these guys then you will be defiled without knowing it.

They look okay, but they are actually dead inside and harming those who come into contact with them.

Dirty on the Inside.

Now, this is a problem for church people.

We can get all cleaned up on the outside and look really good.

Pastors can do it.  Elders can do it.  Ministry leaders can do it.

Church-goers and pewsetters can do it.

Just because we look good on the outside does not mean that we really are.

And there are few things that Jesus hates more than religious hypocrisy.

Is homosexuality bad?

Yes, it is.   The Bible makes it clear.

But Jesus barely spoke about homosexuality.

What Jesus speaks out about the most in the Bible are those who claim to be godly and get all cleaned up on the outside, but fail to clean the inside of the dish.

Clean the inside of the dish.

That’s a way of talking about repentance and faith.

It’s heart-work.  It’s turning in your heart and trusting God’s promises, and living out your faith from the inside.

No pretending.

Being real.

In verse 41, Jesus says, “Give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”

Now that’s a hard sentence to translate, but I think that the point is clear, that God wants us to clean the inside of our hearts by changing what we have in there–and that will lead to a change of lifestyle–including giving to the poor, and loving justice and loving God.

When I read verse 42 about tithing but neglecting justice and the love God, I think of Micah 6:8.

You know that verse right?

“He show you what is good and what the Lord requires of you.”

Is it a 1/10 of your garden?

No.  But it generosity and compassion and justice.

“But to do justice.  And to love mercy.  And to walk humbly with your God.”

We need to stop pretending.

And be real.  Real with God.  And real with others.

That’s clean on the inside.

In verse 45, one of the experts in the law (a scribe) take umbrage at Jesus’ words to the Pharisees.  V.45

“One of the experts in the law answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.’”

Yes, very good.  You’re getting it!  V.46

“Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.  ‘Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them.  So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.  Because of this, God in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.'  Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.  ‘Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.’”

Jesus says that jugdment is coming on these experts in the law because they were:

#3.  BLOCKING THE WAY TO GOD.

“You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who are were entering.”  Woe to you.

There are another three “woes” here in verses 46-52.

The first is that these people were loading people down with burdens but not helping them.

Again, this is legalism.  They were all about law and not about grace.

I worry about this with my preaching.

I want to preach in such a way that we feel the call of God, the conviction of God, to do what we should do by faith.

But I don’t want to load anybody down with burdens and not help them find the grace and power of God to do what God wants them to do.

Hear grace from me.  God wants to empower you to be the people He wants you to be.

The second woe is because they built tombs in supposed honor of the prophets but they didn’t listen to the prophet’s message and make it accessible to the people.

The only paid lip-service to the prophets.  And that made the liable for judgment.

It’s terrible judgment. 

V.50 says that they will be held responsible for the blood of all of the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world!

Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t others that are responsible, but they were given a great gift and they ignored it.

In fact, they made it harder for people to understand.  V.52.

They took away the key of knowledge.  They hindered people from entering the kingdom by grace.

And make no mistake.  They understood what Jesus was saying.  V.53

“When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.”

They hated Him now!

It was just a matter time before they would plan to kill Him.

They understood that Jesus was pronouncing judgment to come on them.

Woe to them who block the way to God!

The opposite, of course, is to open the way to God.

To Give People the Key of Knowledge.

And that’s the GOSPEL.

That’s the good news of GRACE.

That’s the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection–all that the prophets foretold.

People need the key to knowledge.

Are we going to share it with them?

What are we doing to tell people about Jesus?

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk about Jesus, but it was one where I was going to have to introduce to the conversation.

Often, I’m talking about Jesus with folks who have question.  That’s easy.

I love to give away the key of knowledge to those who ask!

But this was a trickier situation, and it required me to steer the conversation that direction.

And I failed to.  I hope for another chance soon with this same person.

But I was convicted that I had not given them the key to knowledge.  I chickened out.

How about you?

Are you holding onto that key?

Or are you giving it away?

It unlocks all of the doors to the kingdom!

Judgment is coming on those who block the door.

How much more reward will there be to those who swing it wide open?

_________________________
Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sheep Stealing

George Cannon with a tongue-in-cheek list of reasons to love "transfer growth".

Gospel Doctrine, Gospel Culture

RCO says:

Gospel doctrine – gospel culture = hypocrisy.
Gospel culture – gospel doctrine = fragility.
Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pomplamoose (Musical Grapefruit)

Okay, Art-Friends, this is a new musical group to check out.

You may have already heard of Pomplamoose (which means "Grapefruit" in French) as they've been around for 2 years and have hundreds of thousands of youtube fans, but I hadn't until this week.

Pomplamoose is Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn, two multi-talented & multi-instrumented musicians.

They collaborate on a variety of music.  My favorite, so far, are their "video songs" which are a new medium with 2 rules:
"1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).
2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds)."

They cover a lot of songs by different artists (NOTE:  Be discerning in what you listen to and watch. They are not a "Christian" band.), but my favorite is an original song by them: 
"If You Think You Need Some Lovin'"   

Enjoy.  (Ignore the silliness at the end, unless you're into that sort of thing.)

Drew's Joke Book #7

Q.  What do birds love about baseball?

A.  Fowl Balls!

Peter's Joke Book #3

Q.  What's a snake's favorite subject in school?

A.  Hissssstory!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "More Blesssed Than Jesus' Mom"

“More Blessed Than Jesus’ Mom”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
May 9, 2010
Luke 11:27-28

I noticed last week, as we were stopping with Jesus’ call for us to choose Him [because He is stronger than Satan!] in verse 26 that the very next verse was about mothers!  And, how appropriate, I thought, for our next passage to be about mothers for Mother’s Day.

It’s just 2 verses.  In verse 27, a woman yells out a blessing on Jesus and His mother.  In verse 28, Jesus responds to this woman with what could be a surprising statement.

And it’s that statement that I want to apply especially to the moms here this morning.

Let’s read it and then think about what it means for us today.

Luke 11:27 and 28.

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’  He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”

Remember that things are heating up in Jesus’ world.

Jesus is in conflict with many of the people around Him.

In the coming weeks, we’ll see him against what He calls, “This Generation” which is wicked and opposed to Him, and we’ll see Him against the Pharisees. 

He’s going to pronounce “Woe!” on them because of how they are mistreating God’s people and not loving God–even while pretending to very much.

Last week, we saw that some in the crowd had claimed that Jesus was in league with Satan!

That’s how intense things are getting for Jesus right now.

And in the middle that, in the middle of Jesus’ response to that, this woman calls out of the crowd this blessing on Jesus and His mom.  V.27

‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’”

Literally, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you.”

The woman who did that is blessed!

This woman had caught a glimpse of how amazing Jesus really is.

And she thought that the woman who had been Jesus’ mother must be really blessed.

Was she?

Yes, she was.  The Gospel of Luke has already told us that.  Mary was blessed to carry Jesus.  She says in her song, “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is His name” (Luke 1:48b-49).

Mary was blessed to carry Jesus.

But that’s not what Jesus responds to this woman.

That’s now where Jesus goes.

Jesus has something else to say.  Something even better than being His mom.

Here’s our title for today:

“More Blessed Than Jesus’ Mom”

You’d think that being Jesus’ Mom would be the height of blessing.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

But that’s not what Jesus says.  V.28 of Luke chapter 11.

“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”

Now, hear this: Jesus is NOT disagreeing with this woman.

The Greek word translated “rather” in the NIV of verse 28 can mean, “No, you’ve got it wrong.  Mary was not blessed.  Instead, this is where blessings is...”

But that’s not what it means here.  Here, it means, “Yes, that’s blessing, but how much more is this blessing....”

Or, “Indeed, but that’s nothing compared (rather) than this...”

King James nails it here.  It says, “Yea rather...”  “Yes rather.”

Jesus is not discounting the blessing God gave to His earthly mom.

But He is saying that there is something greater.

A greater blessing.

More blessed than Jesus’ mom are (v.28) “those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Wow.

You might have thought that having the Son of God roll around in your tummy was about as good as it gets.

And it’s pretty cool!

But there is something more cool.  And that’s hearing and obeying the word of God.

Isn’t Jesus surprising?

I find Jesus’ relationship with His mom in the gospels to be really fascinating.

He honors her, He takes care of her, He loves her.

But He doesn’t make the mistake that many people do today of putting Mary up on a pedestal somewhere, even worshiping her, or opening the door to worshiping her.

Instead, at all of the points where you might think that Jesus would get to Mary-praising (like some religious traditions do), Jesus deliberately changes the focus of the conversation back to Himself and back to God Himself.

Like he does here.

Without “dissing” his Mom in the slightest, Jesus says it’s more blessed to hear the word of God and obey it than to be His Mom.

That’s amazing!

So, here’s the Word of God to use today.

Do you want to be blessed?

More blessed than Mary was as the mother of Jesus?

Then #1.  Hear the Word of God.
And #2.  Obey the Word of God.

Does that sound familiar?

Back in chapter 8, Jesus had been told that His mother and brothers had been stuck outside unable to get backstage passes to see Him.

And Jesus had said, “My mother and brother [my real family] are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

That’s where the blessing is.

Now, that’s true for all of us.  Everyone here.

And we should all take this to heart.

But because it’s Mother’s Day, I want to specifically apply this to the moms among us.

Everybody else can make the jumps to their own lives, but I want to speak directly to our moms here today.

I want you to have this blessing and I want you to feel this blessing as you’ve already lived it out.

So, two points this morning.

#1. BLESSED IS THE MOM WHO HEARS THE WORD OF GOD.

Every year at Mother’s Day, I ask my wife what the moms need to hear.

“Sweetheart, what do the moms need to hear this year?”

And when I told her about this text being our text for today, she said, “Moms need to hear that they need to get into the Word of God.  They need to read their Bibles.  They need to sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary two chapters ago.  Moms need the Bible no matter what stage they are in in life.  That’s what they need to hear!  Read your Bibles!”

So, that’s what I’m saying to you this morning!

“Hear the Word of God.”

You need to put yourself in the way of the Word.

And that’s no matter how old your kids are.

You have an infant and you don’t sleep very much?

You need to hear the Word.

You have a toddler, and he doesn’t give you much breathing space?

You need to hear the Word.

You have a teenager, and your life is in the mini-van?  

You need to hear the Word.

If you want blessing, more blessed than being Jesus’ mom!  You’ve got to hear the Word.

One of the mothers in our church wrote me about that this week.  She said, “Oh, by the way, your sermon a few weeks ago really hit home with me.  It was about spending time with Jesus.  Your sermon reminded me to spend more time with Someone I love–Jesus.  You may think we sleep with our eyes open, but some times we actually listen to your sermons.”

That’s a mom.

It’s hard for moms to find the time to hear the Word.  But it’s vital!

Do you know the name Jill Briscoe?

She was a popular Bible teacher for women in the last generation.

Heather heard Jill Briscoe teach once about being a mommy with small kids, and how you have to do what you have to do to get into the Word for yourself even with small kids.

What Jill would do was to crawl into the kids’ cribs with her Bible and hide from the kids while they ran around the room, and she met with Jesus.

Blessed Is the Mom Who Hears the Word of God.

More Blessed Than Jesus’ Mom!

What are you doing to get in the “way of the Word?”

What changes do you need to make to get there?

I’m sure that the moms who have grown children right now will tell you that it’s not much easier now that they are out of the house to do it.

But that it’s worth it.

Blessed Is the Mom Who Hears the Word of God.

You moms that have been there and done that—thank you!  Thank you for being godly moms that devour the Word of God!

Thank you for being those kind of moms. Those are best kinds of moms!

Moms who love God’s Word.

You are experiencing and will experience the blessing of God!

Blessed Is the Mom Who Hears the Word of God.

Of course, it’s not enough to just hear it.  Right?

The book of James says that we can’t just listen to the word and forget what it says.

We have to be like Nike, right and “Just Do It.”

#2.  BLESSED THE MOM WHO OBEYS GOD’S WORD.

This is the Mom who doesn’t just look into the mirror and forget what she sees.

Moms, you didn’t do that this morning, did you?

You didn’t get up, look in the mirror...“Oh, bed-head.  Oh, well!”  And then ignore what you saw, did you?

It doesn’t look like it from up here.

I don’t see any maternal bedheads up here.

No, you said, “Oh, I have to do something about that.” And you did.

And you all look very nice.

The blessing from God comes not just when we hear God’s Word, but when we put it into practice.  When we obey.

Blessed Is the Mom Who Obeys God’s Word.

More blessed than Mary for just being Jesus’ mom.

What does God’s word say to Moms.  Many things.

Let me remind you of three.

#1.  Turn to Jesus.

God’s Word says that to all of us, doesn’t it?

Jesus died on the Cross to save sinners.  Sinners like you and me who turn from our sins and turn to trust in Jesus.

It all starts there.

It starts with turning to Jesus.

Have you done that?

Moms, have you done that?

Your kids need you to, if you haven’t.

And your kids are blessed, too, if you have.

God’s Word says to turn and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Obey God’s Word and be blessed.

#2.  Train Up Your Kids.

A blessed Mom raises their kids in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

She disciplines them.
She shows them the path that God has for us, and exhorts them to stick to it.

A godly Mom sees her home as a school.   Whether she “homeschools” or not, she knows that her kids are learning in her home.

That’s why Proverbs 6 says, “My son keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching.  Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck.  When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.  For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life..”

That’s your mother’s teaching.

She hears the Word of God and then she teaches it to you.

Train up your kids.

Mothers who have done this, THANK YOU!

Thank you for teaching your kids about Jesus.
Thank you for bringing them to church.
Thank you for praying with them by their bedsides.
Thank you for doing devotions with them.
Thank you for explaining the gospel to them.

When I was a kid, I was mom’s shadow.

You know that song, “Me and My Shadow?”

That was me and Mom when I was little kid.

I followed her around the house while she worked, and I talked to her.

Talked her ear off!

And Mom would use those times as teachable moments to just nudge me in God’s direction.

And she would sing as she worked.  She sang all of the Gaither songs about Jesus and bunch of other songs like the ones we’ve sung.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.  There’s just something about that name.”

I didn’t learn that in church so much as just following Mom around the house.

You think it’s a small thing.  But that’s the kind of thing that makes disciples.

Train up your kids to love and follow Jesus.

Obey God’s Word and be blessed.

More Blessed than Mary for being Jesus’ Mom.

And #3. Trust God With Your Kids.

God’s Word tells us to trust God with our children.

We can’t control them.
We can’t make all of their choices for them.

Eventually, they are completely on their own, and what happens to them is between them and God.

So we have to trust them to God.

And trust that He knows best what to do with them.

I think of Hannah in the Old Testament with having to let little Samuel go.

I’m glad that we don’t have to do that today.

But she trusted God with Samuel.

And we need to continually offer up our children to Lord as well.

He knows best.

Moms, trust God with your kids.

I know that’s easier said than done!

Especially when they grow old.

But it’s the godly mom’s only godly option!

Blessed is the Mom who Obeys God and Trusts God with her kids.

You know who did that really well?

Mary.

Mary the Mother of Jesus.

Yes, she was not more blessed than you and me just because she carried Jesus to term.

But Mary was blessed because she heard God’s Word and Obeyed It.

Mary said, “May it be to me as [God has] said.”

Mary accepted God’s special role for her in faith and obedience.

And she was blessed for it.

Do you want to be blessed?

I want so much blessing for the women of our church.

For all of us.

But especially, today, for the moms.

And blessing comes with hearing God’s word and obeying it.

Turning to Jesus.
Training up our kids.
And trusting God with them.

Because God says so.

That’s where blessing comes from.

More blessing than even being Jesus’ own mom.

_________________________
Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Birthday Gifts

My honey bought me this new book (first in a new trilogy):



And she also bought me the DVD with all of the extra special features of Master and Commander. I've been enjoying the 20 book series that it is based upon. 

And, at the same time, my folks bought our family, a box of Sonlight

What a great birthday week!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wear Your Seatbelt (And Try Not to Cry Watching this Video)





Did I mention that I'm a big cry-baby?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Birthday Boy (Jedi Knight?)


From my friend, Dan, on my May 4th Birthday.  Thanks, Dan!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan"

“Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan”
Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
May 2, 2010
Luke 11:14-26

It’s great to be back in the pulpit and back in the book of Luke with you.

I enjoyed preaching at the district conference, and I enjoyed listening to Kim Cone last week, but I especially enjoy preaching to our own church family right here, right now.

And back to the Gospel of Luke.

Our series in Luke is called “Certain of Jesus” and this is the 25th message in this series since school began last Fall.

Certain of Jesus.

In today’s passage, there was a group of people who were certain that Jesus was in league with [catch this!] Satan!

Yes, you heard me right.  There was a group of people who were unhappy with Jesus’ ministry–in particular Jesus’ ministry of exorcism–and since they didn’t want to believe that Jesus was from God (and all that that would mean)–they decided to attribute Jesus’ power to the power of the Evil One.

They were saying that Jesus was in league with Satan.

And that’s a scarey and bewildering thought.

And Jesus, in our passage for today, has a strong answer for these people.

This section of the book of Luke is going to be full of strong words.

Things are heating up between Jesus and the Pharisee, between Jesus and the unbelieving generation around him, things are heating up between Jesus and the world.

And here in this passage, it gets really hot.

Jesus is accused of being in league with Satan himself.

But, instead, we find out that “Jesus is Stronger Than Satan.”

And that makes all of the difference for our lives.

Imagine for just a minute being under the oppression of mute demon. 

The King James version says, “dumb.”  But that’s an old way of saying “cannot speak.”

This man who was under the power of this demon could not speak one word.

And we don’t know how long he had been like that.

Can you imagine?  V.14

“Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.”  

Just imagine.

Now, how did this happen?  There is no denying that it did happen.

This man was mute, now he speaks.

How?

There has to be some explanation.

Well, verse 16 says that some people wanted another sign.  “Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.”

I mean, what more do you want?

We’ll talk more about these sign-demanders in the next couple of weeks.

But those people in verse 15 have an answer for how Jesus does this demon-driving miracle. 

It’s simple: He does it through the power of Satan!  V.15

“But some of them said, ‘By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.’”

Yes, they actually said that.

Beelzebub was the title of an old Canaanite god.  A false-god, of course.

It means the Lord of the Flies or The Lord of the Dung Heap.  The Lord of the Trash-Can.

And here, you can see that they were using it as a title for Satan, “the prince of demons.”

They couldn’t argue with the fact that Jesus was kicking the demons out left and right, but they could say that it wasn’t God it was Satan that was giving Jesus this power.

So, they did.  They actually attributed the exorcizing power of Jesus to Beelzebub.

Wow!

That’s one way to dodge the claims of Christ on your life!

Here’s how Jesus answers this charge.  It’s very interesting.  Look at verse 17.


“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: ‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.’”

Jesus starts with something everyone can agree with.

A kingdom that gets divided and then fights itself will be ruined.
A house (that is, a family) that is divided against itself will fall.

Abraham Lincoln used these very words of Jesus to talk about the danger of the Civil War.

A house that is divided against itself will fall.  Right? 

So, v.18.

“If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.”

Jesus doesn’t start by saying, “Do I look like I belong to Satan?!”

He could start there, but they would just say, “Yeah.” And they wouldn’t get anywhere.

Instead, he says, “Would Satan do that?”

Would Satan go on the offensive against his own army?  He’s smarter than that!

Now, he might fake it a little to try to fake everybody out.

But Jesus’ whole ministry is kicking Satan’s can.

Would Satan be dumb enough to being doing that?  V.19

“Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub (which I’m not!), by whom do your followers (Hebrew: sons) drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.”

You know, I’m not only one that’s had some success at exorcism.  Does everyone who casts out demons get their power from Satan? What about Jewish exorcists?  What would they say about this charge?  And verse 20.

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

That’s what happened.

You don’t want to admit it, but that’s what’s happened.

The Kingdom of God has come, right here, right now.

“By the finger of God.”

Does that phrase, “by the finger of God” remind you of anything?

They said “by Beelzebub.”  Jesus says, “by the finger of God.”

That’s the phrase that the Egyptian magicians say about Moses and the plagues on Egypt back in the book of Exodus.

They tell Pharaoh that these plagues have come by the finger of God.

God’s mighty power is rescuing His people by the finger of God.

I just see this finger sticking out there.

He does this powerful work with his finger.  Maybe His little finger!

By the pinky of God!

“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

The kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God, the kingly realm of God has appeared and come near and come to you.

The King is here and His kingdom has come.

That’s what’s happening when Jesus does an exorcism.

The King is cleaning up His kingdom!

Dirty spirits don’t belong.

Now, here’s the most important 2 verses in this section of Scripture.  Verses 21 and 22.

Jesus paints a amazing word picture that has an amazing effect on our lives.

Verse 21.

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”

Wait a second.  Don’t look at verse 22 yet.

Who do you think the strong man is in this story?

Who do you think?

Who is the strong man?!

It’s Satan, right?   Beelzebub.  The prince of demons.

He’s strong right?

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”

“The world lies in the power of the evil one.”  The Bible says that.

His possessions are safe.

But verse 22.  BUT!

“But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

“But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

Who is the someone stronger?

Did you ever think about that in relation to this passage?

I’ve always just skimmed over this passage.

But that’s talking about Jesus.  That’s talking about my Lord.

“But when someone stronger [Jesus!] attacks and overpowers [Satan], he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

They are at war with one another.  They are not friends!

But they are not equals, either.

Satan is strong.

But Jesus is stronger.

Jesus is stronger than Satan!

Now, I know that everyone here believes that.  At least, we would all say that we do.

But we don’t always act like it, do we?

We often act like we are dualists.

Dualists believe that there is evil and good, but that they are equal.

Kind of like Yin and Yang – two opposite but equal forces that balance each other out.

But that’s not what reality is like, at all!

Jesus and Satan are not equals that balance each other out.

Satan is a strong man that guard his own house (the word “house” in verse 21 is often used for castle or a court).  He is strong, armored, a bad-dude.  You don’t want to mess with him.

But there is one stronger.

And He has come on the attack!

When Jesus entered the world, the Bible says, that He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3)!

And that’s exactly what He’s doing.

So, let’s apply this.

Here’s point #1 of 3.

#1.  REJOICE!

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

The Kingdom of has come.

The strong man has been beaten by the even stronger man.  And now He’s dividing up the spoils.

Rejoice!

Jesus did this through the Cross.

He did it, in part, through these exorcisms.  But they were small fry compared to how He defeated Satan on the Cross.

It’s paradoxical and counter-intuitive, but Jesus delivered the biggest blow of all to Satan when He gave Himself up for us.

Colossians 2 says that Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Satan might have thought that he won, when Jesus died, but that’s where he lost the war.

And he knew it by Sunday morning.

Rejoice!

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

He stooped to conquer, but conquer, He did.

In a few minutes, we will celebrate this victory together at the Lord’s Table.

And enjoy a taste of the spoils of Jesus’ victory for us.

Rejoice!  Jesus is stronger than Satan.

#2.  DO NOT FEAR.

It doesn’t always feel like this does it?

It doesn’t always feel like Jesus is stronger than Satan, does it?

Sometimes, we would agree with that statement, but we don’t always feel it.

Sometimes, it seems like the evil in this world is growing out of control.

Does it feel like that to you?  Sometimes, at least?

It’s easy to fear.

But Jesus says, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.

Jesus says, “Fear not.  For I am with you.”

Jesus says, “Satan is overpowered, his armor is taken away, and the spoils are being divided.”

Now, this is not as good as it gets.

Satan has been defeated, but the war is not over.

The war is won, but it is not over yet.

There are still battles being fought.

Because as smart as Satan is (and there is no one smarter than Satan under God), Satan is very stupid, and does not believe that he has lost.

And even if he knows it in every fiber of his being, he wants to take as many people down with him as possible.

He is like Hitler in his bunker killing away at the end of World War II.

Even though his doom is sure.

So, yes, Satan is still strong.

He is still able to tempt, still able to accuse, still able to oppress, still able, yes, to possess an unbeliever.

And he rages!

But DO NOT FEAR.

Greater is he that is in you than He that is in the world!

If you belong to Jesus, you need not fear the devil.

Be wary of him.
Stand firm.
Be on alert.

But fear not.


Last Sunday night, Kim and Jan Cone came over to our house and meet with the Link Group that meets at our place.

And Kim was talking about the spirit world which seems much more real in Africa.

They are much more in tune there with what is going on in the spirit world.

And unbelieving Africans live in fear of the spirits.  Almost perpetual fear.

But Kim was telling us about how when Jesus comes into these African’s lives, they are able to defeat their fears.

One man told Kim that he saw a “Noki” up in a tree.

A noki is a demon.  A spirit.

And that would frighten me!

If I saw a demon up in a tree, I’d be scared.

And it normally would, an African, too.

But this man told Kim that he’d seen a Noki, but he wasn’t scared.

Do you know why?

Because he knew King Jesus!

He knew the stronger man who has attacked and overpowered the strong man.

Do Not Fear.

I sense a lot of fear among Christians in our nation right now.

And it’s not from Jesus.

There are a lot of people who think that our country is going to hell in handbasket right now. And it might be, I’m not sure.

It doesn’t seem like it to me, but I might just be missing the big picture.

But I know that even if our country is going to hell in a handbasket, that we are not supposed to be people of fear!

That’s not from Jesus.

He has not “not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Jesus wants us to be confident and peaceful and live boldly for Him.

He has overpowered the strong man.

Do not fear.

My mother in law was in the hospital again this week with her cancer.

She’s not having a fun time of it.  She is suffering.

And it hurts.  She can’t be happy happy all of the time.

But she shows an amazing lack of fear.

You know why?

Because she knows that greater is He that is her than he that is the world.

And she is choosing Him.

That’s #3 and last.

#3.  CHOOSE JESUS.

If Jesus is stronger than Satan, He is the clear choice.

Choose Jesus.

That’s the point of verses 23.

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”

Jesus is calling for a choice.

“Are you with me?

If you are not with me, you are against me.
If you do not gather to me, you are will be scattered.
If you are not mine, you are lost.

Are you with me?

I have defeated the strong man!

Are you with me?

The Kingdom of God has come to you!

Are you with me?”

Choose Jesus.

If you don’t, then you are in trouble.

That’s the point of the last little story in verses 24 through 26.

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Jesus gives us this word picture to tell us how important it is to choose Him.

Because it’s not good enough just to get cleaned up.

It’s not good enough to even be exorcized of a demon!

It’s not good enough to straighten up your life.

You need Jesus.

If a devil leaves a house and goes looking for a new home, but can’t find one, they come back and check their old place again.

And if you haven’t replaced that spirit with a Holy Spirit, with God Himself, then it will be worse for you than if you had never cleaned up your life in the first place.

We need Jesus.

We need a new Spirit, not just the defeat of the old spirits, not just the defeat of Beelzebub and his army, but the abiding, indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ.

And we get that by choosing Jesus.

Choosing Him once and for all.

And choosing Him each day, as well.

If you have not chosen Jesus and declared, “I am with you, Jesus!” then I urge you to do so today.

Trust Him as your King and Rescuer, your Lord and Savior.

Put your faith in what Jesus did on the Cross–conquering Satan by dying for our sins.

There is no middle ground.

No liking Jesus, but not following Him.
No checking Him out, but never deciding.
No being not for Him, but not against Him.

There is no fence.
There is no fence!

“He who is not with me is against me.”

Jesus is stronger than Satan.

Choose Jesus.

Do Not Fear.
Rejoice!


_________________________
Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray