Troubles

DANGER IN UNLIKELY PLACES

That hurt!!  I just bit my tongue.

Every time I do this, I wonder how it happened.

Now, I don’t want you to think I bite my tongue on an hourly, or even daily basis. I looked online and there are people who actually do have a serious problem with biting their tongues, often while sleeping. I don’t have a tongue biting “problem”, and no I am not in denial.

I just wonder why?

At this point in life I should have developed enough coordination to avoid these violent collisions between my incisors and my tongue.

From my tongue’s perspective I would think that fear of being chomped by the surround fence of teeth would be a top priority in every meal. Although with teeth closing in at every side, food being mushed around, liquids being sloshed in, and having to handle the flow of saliva – my tongue does have a complicated task at meal times.

Yet, when my tongue does get hammered, I wonder what specifically fouled up this usually smoothly running procedure. There is never any warning sign, and moments before each mastication disaster, I am under the impression that my mouth is under full operational control.

I am left with this basic fact of my humanity – there is much I don’t know and cannot prevent. Even when I think I am in control, I am vulnerable to a 1001 dangers that I never saw coming.

If I cannot even guarantee my tongue that I can keep it safe while in my own mouth, what makes me think I can stand on my own in anything that truly matters?!

I desperately need God to be my help, my strength, my wisdom, my protection, my guide, and everything else that is important for life in this world, and in the next.

Since I need God for everything in my life, it goes without saying that he is the One I must look to hold the lives of those I love.

 

 

THERE IS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT HUGS

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I remember as a child when I felt sick, there was something restorative about my mom’s hugs.

When my children were little, having them run up and throw their arms around me was one of the greatest feelings in the world.

They don’t run up to me anymore, but I still love hugs from my girls; while Jordan and I settle for grunts and a punch in the arm or a pat on the back.

When I travel to Belarus or Guatemala, I joyfully receive bear hugs from my dear friends.

Then there are the wondrous hugs from my wife that make it seem as though all is right with the world. Sometimes when I am feeling worn around the edges, I ache for a hug from Debbie

There truly is something special about hugs

This is because God made us to love them. Love, security, peacefulness, reassurance, affection, friendship, contentment – and any other good association we have with hugs are all qualities that come from the heart and character of God.

These feelings exist because God has expressed them to us.

God is the one who invites us to call Him “Abba Father” which is an intimate expression of saying Dad. He is the most wondrous of Fathers and He loves to hold us. Psalm 139 describes how in remote places, even there “your right hand shall hold me”.

Maybe you feel it is too presumptuous to think of God holding you in a strong and safe hug – but is not God an even more loving parent than ourselves?

If we love to give hugs, this is because God loves to hold those He loves. 

Do you need a good hug, don’t be hesitant to receive the embrace of your heavenly Father who loves you more than tongues can tell or thoughts imagine.

Learn to rest in the strong and secure arms that do not let us go.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.04.16

“Why we can trust Jesus in everything”

John 14:1-7

Jesus Farewell Discourse is preparing his disciples and us for troubles ahead

 

Know Jesus is Worthy of Your Trust (v1)

God is always the overarching reality of life

He is un-improvable and altogether perfect

We need to keep comparing our troubles to God! 

If you are thinking ‘I do believe in God’; do you believe enough ‘not to be troubled’?

To ‘believe’ in God is to believe in what he is like – which is to trust him

Jesus adds “believe also in me”

What do we trust about Jesus? (v6)

He is the Way – specifically to salvation, which proves his commitment to us

He is the Truth – many have some truth, but Jesus is complete truth

He is the Life – eternal, full and satisfying life

Since God is a transcendent being, he can seem distant

But Jesus says to ‘know me’ is to ‘know my Father’ (v7)

As God in flesh, Jesus reveals God more fully and more intimately

 

Know You Have an Eternal Future (vs 2-3)

Our troubles take place on earth, but they all lead to eternity

Enemies swept away; and all troubles with their pain and weariness will disappear

God works in us here and he uses us here, but our goal is not here

We should face our troubles with thoughts of greater glory, because that is our reality 

The image in v2 of Jesus ‘preparing a place’, conveys activity on our behalf

Jesus is preparing to bring us into fellowship with the Father

He presents our future as ‘a room’ in my ‘Father’s house’

The cultural context is of a father adding to the family home to make room for his grown children

The point is not the lavishness of the home; it is our belonging and relationship

God wants to share his eternity with us in his home, to eat at his table and share life with him

To God, every trouble we have is meaningful for eternal reasons

He is not simply aware of your trouble; he is thoughtful and active in them

vs 1-7 declares God is for us, and no trouble we experience indicates otherwise

 

Know Jesus is Coming For You (vs 3-4)

(1)  He is coming to rescue us:  troubles may seem to drag on, but they are not our destiny

(2)  He is coming to set things right:  justice will come, truth will prevail, and Christ will be exalted

(2)  He is coming to bring us home:  to be with him where it is safe

 

How Did Jesus Handle Troubles?

We saw in John 13:21 that Jesus at times was troubled 

This shows us that 14:1 has to do with not ‘letting’ trouble capture our ‘hearts’

Jesus had to apply his own words about a troubled heart in Matthew 26:36-44

Jesus was already a man whose thoughts were filled with Father (John 4:34)

Jesus’ prayer contained honesty and submission (vs 36-42)

Jesus prayed with persistence (vs 42-44)

During Jesus’ troubles, he did what he told his disciples

He affirmed his trust in the Father

He looked to the eternal purpose before him (Hebrews 12:2)

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.20.16

Jesus understands trouble and betrayal   

 

John 13:21-30

Jesus’ Farewell Discourse comes from the perspective of culmination. Yet, there is also the heartache of betrayal throughout this chapter

There is Anguish In Jesus’ Soul

The burden in Jesus has been growing

Jesus mentions it for the first time in John 6:70-71

Now in chapter 13, it is woven throughout the narrative (vs 2, 10-11, 18)

Jesus turmoil over Judas reaches its culmination in v21

Jesus not only carries the burden of his coming crucifixion, now betrayal is added

Jesus had chosen Judas to be one of the 12 who shared life, ministry and miracles with him

What this friend does is repeatedly described as “betrayal” (Mt 26:14-16)

Jesus declares Judas’ act as a fulfillment of Psalm 41:9

 

Jesus Draws In His Disciples

Jesus wants to strengthen his disciples against the coming blow (v19)

Jesus wants them to know that he is sovereign even over this betrayal

God is good and faithful, even in the difficult, unexplainable and painful

Jesus wants to share his own troubled heart with them (v21)

They cannot do anything, but Jesus wants to share his burden

The disciples fall into awkward silence (v22) ‘looking at one another’

They are weighing their own hearts and each others

Peter wants to find out who is the one and asks the disciple next to Jesus

Jesus identifies his betrayer, but the disciples don’t hear or grasp the significance of it

 

Jesus Engages Judas

Jesus reaches out to Judas, he doesn’t send him away, until after the foot washing and the meal

The foot washing allowed Judas to experience Jesus’ care and humility once more

In the last moment, Jesus fed Judas a ‘morsel’, which culturally was a way to honor a guest

In taking Jesus’ love without repentance, Judas has turned himself over to his sin

Judas had been following a path of sin for some time (Jn 12:3-6)

Why did Jesus pick Judas?

John 6:64 tells us Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him

v18 tells us this was so prophecy would be fulfilled

Judas wasn’t forced by God to betray Jesus, God used a betrayer

 

Let’s Consider Some Applications

1.  About Burdens

Life is hard at times for everyone, because our world is in rebellion against God

Some Christians mistakenly think ‘If I follow God well enough, he will take my problems away’

No one lived better than Jesus, and he experienced many sorrows

The Bible tells us suffering and struggle will come

Jesus knows what it means to have a ‘troubled’ heart

We are not meant to carry these burdens alone, we are given the church to bear them with us

When everything falls apart, God has not

2.  About Sin

Nothing is more dangerous, deceiving or corrupting than sin

We don’t know what took place in Judas’ mind, but we know the results

v30 ends with what seems obvious “and it was night”; this was a spiritual statement as much as the time of day

3.  About Satan

He is a real person, with motivations and actions that all hate God

We live in the midst of spiritual warfare: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6)

If our enemy is spiritual, then our daily preparation must be spiritual

Can Satan enter a believer? 

He would have to be able to overcome the Holy Spirit – and that will never happen

We should take Satan seriously – but God is the only one we need to fear

4.  About Where Your Life Is

Who is Jesus to you?

How does your life demonstrate that he is your Lord?

If you are thinking, “I will respond to God sometime in the future”, pushing Jesus off is how we are turned over to our sin

LIGHTS WORK BEST AT NIGHT

It is a plain and obvious fact, that lights have the greatest affect when it is dark.

This is a physical truth; that is echoed as a spiritual reality. Jesus said,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

God’s Word refers to us as being light in a world that is dark with ignorance, evil and sorrow. We are not only meant to grow through hard times, we are meant to be lights for the gospel in them.

Some of the most powerful moments I have witnessed have been believers shining in the dark places of life. Anyone can be hopeful, joyous and content in smooth sailing; storms show if these qualities have depth.

It is easy for people to rationalize away our testimony when they see nothing but prosperity around us. But it is much harder for people to forget our testimony when our life is swirling with troubles.

People understand troubles; they understand fearful and hard circumstances. What they will not understand is how we can have peace, joy and hope in the midst of them

However, if all we do in our difficulties is complain with the same intensity as those who don’t know Christ, what reason do people have to pay attention to our testimony?

We don’t have to be on top of the world, to be a light on a hill. Darkness is when people want a flashlight; so let them see that you have one inside you.

FAITHFUL TO THE END

letter
George Petrillo entered eternity on August 23rd of this year.

He leaves a legacy of love for his family and a wonderful example of abiding trust in Jesus Christ to all who know him.

Over the years George attended Greentree Church, I would often receive a card or letter from him. These were always encouraging. It might be a simple note of thanks for our church, or a comment on how a recent sermon affected his soul.

More recently his notes would contain updates on the serious health issues faced by him and his wife Joan. George had fibrosis of the lungs which meant they were hardening. Doctors informed him that nothing could be done to stop this condition from gradually worsening and resulting before long in his death.

On top of this, George’s beloved Joan, suffers from Alzheimer’s. For George, care for Joan far outweighed concern for himself.

Despite carrying what we would all agree are heavy burdens, George remained an encourager to his family and those who knew him.

George’s notes continued right up to his final days on this earth. My last card from him arrived the day after he passed away. Knowing his time was short; George filled out one last card and insisted that his daughter deliver it to the post office that day.

In one of his recent notes, George once more graciously shared his love for our church. He emphasized the impact of both the preaching of God’s Word and the consistent care they received from their church family.

In typical fashion, George closed with these words:

“I am always aware of God’s may, many blessings to (us), and I am also aware – so vividly of the hurts and heartaches of so many people.

The hope we have in Christ Jesus is so wonderful and so liberating! For in this HOPE we are saved.”

I hope George’s legacy can extend further to influence each of us to see God’s faithfulness in all circumstances. And along the way, may we follow his example of frequently sharing expressions of love, faith and thankfulness to one another!

QUESTIONS THE BIBLE ASKS YOU #4

Have you noticed that life so often seems to be a battle? Instead of out into the world, it can feel like we are going off to war!

A normal day can be like a walk through a briar patch with thorns clawing at us from every side. And who knows when the next monster is going to leap out of a hiding place to attack us.

These monsters are not just in the world, some of them are in our own fears, failures and accusations. God who has saved us forever and is committed to caring for us just as long, reminds us He is our greatest reality by asking us this question:

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Here is God’s question to us in its context from Romans 8:31-39  

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you have a confident answer to God’s question?

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.07.15

“The Realities of God Are Greater”

Psalm 4

The Psalms were written as a songbook for God’s people

They present an honest look at the human condition in all our struggles, as we intersect with the realities of God

Psalms are worship that instruct. In this way they are a great example of preaching the gospel to ourselves

 

This Psalm Begins With a Cry to God

It appears from v2 that David is being slandered

It hurt and he was helpless as some lied about him and others received it

Both giving and receiving slander are unloving and sinful (Romans 1 mixes slanderers and gossips with murderers and haters of God)

It takes careful attention to be gossip and murmur free

David turns to God in his hurt and frustration (v1)

He does this because God had proven himself in the past

Why should we be content to entrust our burdens to God?

Because he is almighty

Because he is faithful

The cross proves God’s faithfulness

The gospel tells the fullness of that faithfulness

What is God’s role to you? Is he “the man upstairs” or is he the full extent of your hope?

 

God Gives David Grace For Those Who Hurt Him

David gives counsel to those who misused him

1. God takes care of those who trust in him (v3)

Those who oppose God’s people are wasting their efforts

This is also a warning, letting them know they were raising their arm against God

2. Fear God and examine your hearts before him (v4)

The phrase “Be angry” literally means “tremble” in either anger or dread. The context seems to be tremble in fear of God

Rather than slander others, they should examine their hearts and consider God’s role over them

3. Submit to God and worship him (v5)

He exhorts them to be worshipers who entrust themselves to God

David’s heart was wounded, but it had not been poisoned

The grace God provided was greater than the sin he endured

If our grace is always greater than our burdens, then grace should always rule

This means we are to stay in the agenda of the gospel toward people – including those who misuse us

This is where David’s heart remained, because God remained present and faithful

Since God never stops his agenda for us, we should not stop serving his agenda

This is not a disadvantaged way to live

This is freeing – because the sin of others doesn’t determine how we live

This is powerful – because it places attention on the glorious realities of God

 

David Then Declares His Confidence (vs 6-8)

He introduces his confidence by making a contrast

David begins with a common question,

“Who will show us some good?

In other words, who or what will make us happy?

Most people don’t have a clear or dependable answer, so they look everywhere

And the truth is – without Christ, people don’t even know what is good for them

There is often a touch of cynicism, with people doubting if anything really works

All this leads to pragmatism which has no moral rooting: Do whatever makes you happy

The result is “all about me” behavior which is manifested by a culture that encourages abortion, affairs, cheating and common rudeness

In contrast for the believer, there is no searching or ambiguity:

“Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” (v6)

If we have the presence of God, we have goodness

There are three implications in this declaration

#1. Engagement with the “face” of God (his personal presence) will meet our deepest needs

#2. The presence of God shines “light” on our life. The truths of God make life clear

#3. If you want goodness in your life, submit fully to the ways of God

David shares a couple wonderful results of entrusting our life to God

1. God puts “joy” in our heart (v7)

This joy is greater and deeper than simply having circumstances go well

It consists of a heart overflowing with the abundant riches of Christ in us

A joyful heart can be touched by pain and sadness, but it will not be drowned by them

2. God brings “peace” to us (v8)

God who is sovereign over everything, is committed to our eternal good

We can “lie down and sleep”, meaning we can rest

 

Let us work on the presence of God and our rest in God

THE WATERS OF GOD

The river of God is full of water
Refreshing to all who come to it
Life giving to all who satisfy their thirst from it

Renewed are those who rest at its banks
And encamp along its shores
They never find its bed dry or its flow sluggish
Day or night abundance flows

Its origin is heavenly mountains
Its end a measureless ocean
Wisdom is in its pools
Strength surges in its current

Taste sweet waters, refreshing to the weary
Wash in clean waters, which restore the soul
Drink joyful waters, rejuvenating to the burdened
Dive in cool waters, which renew the spirit

Its song calms the agitated and soothes the accused
Its breezes invigorate the overwhelmed and cheer the distressed

Yet, the proud refuse to stop there
They spit out its life giving waters
It has no sweetness on their tongues

The foolish prefer waters they think they own
They favor stagnant pools and dive into muddier ponds
They swallow muddy draughts and say it is satisfying
They drink diseased waters and call them good

Their shores abound with the bones of earlier travelers
Still they pitch their tents and call it a fruit place
They drink their fill and yet wither from thirst

Come, drink living waters, calls the Lord of all good
Wander no more in desert places
Crawl no longer on dry beds

Plunge into the river of God
Be delighted in its clean waters
Live richly in its pleasant gardens

Stay, abide, be home
Live, rest, be fruitful
Drink, be filled, overflow

 

Kyle Huber July 2015

NOT ALL METHODS WORK

There is no lack of methods offered to help us bring change to our life.

It is true that some of these methods can help us and make us feel better for a time.

But in the end the only way to make lasting and fruitful change is to address our soul.  We must act on the heart issues involved.

We cannot expect the world to appreciate this assessment, because God has the smallest of roles in their thinking. They certainly don’t see God’s rule as a central life issue.

However, unless God’s rule over us is the central issue, we will never see problems as being sin based.

It is impossible to solve life problems if we are unwilling to address the root cause

Paul Tautges briefly looks at what he calls “Six Unbiblical Methods for Change” in this article.

Notice that Paul does not fully condemn each of these methods as having no place in helping us (although for some that is true).

Rather his point is that we cannot fully answer life problems apart from a biblical perspective.  Even a method that is partially biblical will still fall short.

Unfortunately the church is becoming increasingly satisfied with partially biblical answers.

Do we really think God accepts that approach?

What we think works should not be our standard of acceptability. We are to look for what God declares to be the answer.