Monthly Archives: April 2014

WHAT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN?

What is necessary for the gospel to be fulfilled in us? On one hand the answer is simple: we must trust in Christ as God’s payment for our sin.

However, from God’s side there is a long list of amazing and necessary actions that He had to fulfill

God had to desire it

God had to make provision to do it

The Son had to agree with it

God had to keep from destroying this evil world

God had to establish a covenant relationship with those who will believe

Eternal God has to become a man

A virgin had to give birth to him

Jesus had to be humanly worthy to represent us

Jesus had to obey the law and fulfill it in every way

Jesus had to love the Father with all his heart, mind, soul and strength

Jesus had to persist through the burdens of human weakness

Jesus had to overcome every temptation

Satan had to be defeated

When the moment arrived, Jesus had to be willing to accept the cross

The innocent Jesus had to be wrongly accuses

The just Jesus had to silently accept the history’s most unjust action

Jesus had to take upon himself the entirety of our guilt

The Father had to punish Jesus with the full force of his wrath for that sin

Jesus had to die

Death had to be conquered

The penalty for our sin had to be completely paid

The Father had to accept that payment

The dead body of Jesus had to be resurrected

Jesus had to be glorified with the glory he had in eternity past

The triune Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit had to remain willing to save those who rejected Jesus and their gracious plan

God has to choose us

God has to be patient and withhold the judgment we already deserve

The Holy Spirit has to convict us

The Holy Spirit has to give us a new heart

God has to accept our cry

God has to justify us

God has to impute Jesus’ righteousness to us

The Father has to adopt us

God had to preserve the church in each generation so the gospel would go forth

The Holy Spirit has to preserve us in this world

God will have to resurrect and transform our bodies

The Holy Spirit will have to glorify us

All who remained in unbelief and sin will have to be separated and cast into hell

God will have to destroy and recreate heaven and earth

The eternal Kingdom of Christ will have to be opened to us

Christ will have to accept us as his Bride

God will have to eternally sustain our existence

We will have to enter into an eternal and perfect communion with the triune Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Oh, praise the glorious name and faithfulness of the Lord our God!

HATE THE WAIT?

I don’t like waiting. Actually my attitude is more aggressive than that – I hate waiting.

I detest waiting in line; I am annoyed at waiting for my turn to talk; I hate waiting for unpleasant things to go away; and I’m not happy about waiting for exciting events to arrive. “Now” always seems like a far better option then waiting.

However, I have noticed that God is not impressed or moved by my attitude toward waiting. This is obvious, because He keeps me waiting on a regular basis.

Brett Campbell does an excellent job of laying out a more healthy (i.e. biblical) perspective of why God seems to thrust waiting so regularly into His dealings with us. I think you will find his article, “Why Does God Make Us Wait?”, to be very helpful.

IT’S WORTH BEING PREPARED

I recently read an excellent blog by Jordan Kauflin on the Desiring God website. His opening statement sets the stage for his thoughts:

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I went out to eat on a date. On a whim, we decided to go see a movie as well. Just like that. No preparation, we just decided and went. The lack of preparation had absolutely no bearing on how much we enjoyed the movie. After all, we just wanted to be entertained.

Unfortunately, we can often approach the Sunday meeting in a similar way.

Jordan’s readable post identifies two “common mistakes” we can make in preparing for church: (1) to arrive as spectators, or (2) to arrive as workers.

But Jordan doesn’t stop with identifying our challenge, he helpfully lays out how we can prepare ourselves and our family for Sunday mornings. This article, “How Do You Prepare for Sundays?” is well worth reading!

WAKING UP GRUMPY

Some people never seem to be in a bad mood – then there are the rest of us. Or I should say the overwhelming majority of us.

Many times we can point to a cause for our surliness, but there are an abundance of times when we are stuck in a grumpy pit and don’t even know how we got into it, much less how to get out!

I appreciated this article, “How to Beat that Bad Mood” written by Tim Challies for his blog. Not that I need to read such advice, but I have a lot of “friends” who need to hear it.

Tim’s thoughts are clear and helpful, because he gets right at the source of sour moods and bad attitudes.

THE JOY ABOVE ALL OTHERS

God is here. God is with us.

What do we mean when we make these statements? These are basic and sound theology. But they can also be vague and cliché-ish

What does it mean to say God is “here”? As the omnipresent God, He is existent everywhere. And God the Holy Spirit dwells in every true believer.

Yet, we mean that plus more, don’t we?

One of the things we are learning about God in our preaching through Exodus is that God’s presence comes with His purpose. And we know God’s purposes are amazingly wonderful for His people.

To say God is with us is to declare that we have God’s attention, concern and care. It is to recognize that He has given us His heart – what could be bigger than that?!

Living with a deeper and abiding awareness of God’s presence is at the height of salvation’s joys.

The Bible is abundant and varied in its references to God being with us:

The Lord leading Israel 40 years in a visible pillar of cloud and fire

Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s psalm

We are engraved in the “palm of God’s hands” (Isaiah 49:16)

The repeated Old Testament declaration by God that He will never “leave” or “forsake” His people

Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit’s eternal presence with every believer (John 14:16-17)

The Great Commission which ends with Jesus saying, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus carries the name “Emmanuel” which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23)

God adopts us and makes us co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17)

Romans 8 grand pronouncement that nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus

The Church being described as the Bride of Christ (Revelation 19, 21 & 22)

An encouragement in God being with us is that He is always the initiator.

We don’t have to get God to be present. We don’t deserve it and we never have to plead for it. The One who is here – is always already here. When I enter my time of worship, I think of this in terms of God showing up before me. He is waiting for my appearance; I never have had to wait for Him.

An even grander reality is to contemplate that the whole salvation story exists for the express purpose of our being “with” God forever. Sin made that impossible – God totally and forever fixed that problem.

At the height of exquisite realities in God being with us, we have this portion of Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17:24

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

God has given us like a gift of love to Jesus. Jesus with joy and anticipation “desires” that we be with Him.

Oh, child of God who is always with us, do not abuse or neglect this joy which should be above ALL others!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.21.14

“Someone you can believe”

Matthew 28:1-6

We are a skeptical people, and we have good reason:

Much of what we’re told is hyped and fails to live up to the promises

We expect public figures to speak in disingenuous ways

And the experts keep changing their opinions and advice

What does all this have to do with Easter?

Easter shows us there really is someone we can fully believe

Jesus fulfills what he promises, including his own resurrection!

Jesus said he would be in the earth three days (Matthew 12:40)

Another time he said, “destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up” (Matthew 26:61)

Jesus even described how his death and resurrection would come about (Mark 8:31 & 9:31)

Jesus spoke so often and clearly about his resurrection, that his enemies sealed and guarded his tomb (Matthew 27:63-66)

If we can believe Jesus about his resurrection, we can trust the rest of what he said

Jesus said, he “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10)

Jesus came to “save” us in our greatest need

Our ‘greatest need’ is that which has the greatest consequences

Sin has the greatest consequences, because it involves our eternity!

Jesus said, “all judgment” was “given” to him (John 5:22)

We say that we want justice, well so does God!

God, who sees every sin, must confront and judge all our sin

How that final judgment is resolved was put in Jesus’ hands

Jesus said, he “came to give my life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus didn’t bring ideas about what to do with our guilt; he brought himself and totally solved our greatest need!

Jesus died in our place, to pay for the guilt of our sin

How can we receive what Jesus did for us?  The Bible is clear, it is not by what we do, it is through faith in what Christ did for us.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” Romans 10:9

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6)

We hear many religious claims, so how do we know this one is true?

Jesus promised huge and wonderful news, and Easter proves it! This is what makes Easter worth celebrating

Christ’s resurrection, after bearing our guilt, proves the debt he died for was paid

Easter shows that Jesus’ unique claims are not arrogance

However, Jesus claims don’t stop there!

We hear so many opinions, how do we know what is best?

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12)

Life is not easy, and troubles are never far away in this messy world

Jesus said, “come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

We’re constantly striving, but does life become more satisfying?

Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)

Many people sound compelling

But when it comes to speaking about life, death and eternity, it’s all just their opinions which they have no power to fulfill

Do you really want to place your eternity in the hands of an “opinion”?

Only Jesus backs up what he says about present and eternal things

Today you can receive what he promised

Jesus has come, he is alive and he does save

Jesus is someone we can believe!

IT’S ABOUT THE BODY

The body of Jesus who had been dead, walked out of the tomb.

Easter does not celebrate the memory of Jesus, the example of Jesus or the teachings of Jesus. It celebrates that a dead man, who died bearing our sin, is now alive.

Death is the penalty God has assigned to sin; and Jesus went to the cross to carry that penalty for us. When Jesus body began to breathe again, it demonstrated what mere words are powerless to declare – that sin has been conquered, death has been defeated and eternal hope is a physical reality!

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Do you have confidence that Jesus has taken the guilt of your sin? If not, cry out to Him to be your savior and your Lord.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

If your hope is in Jesus death to pay for your sin, don’t stop there, heap your hopes upon the shoulders of the One who died but now lives!

 

PREPARE FOR EASTER WITH YOUR CHILDREN

by Debbie Huber

Quick word association game:  name some symbols you think of when you hear the word Easter……

Many of you probably responded with words like cross, bunny, basket, eggs, resurrection, palms, candy, etc.

How do we portray why we celebrate Easter to our children?  We have fun traditions that include these symbols like candy, eggs, and Easter baskets, but does your family celebration of the true meaning of Easter go beyond a chocolate cross and wearing nice clothes to church on Easter Sunday?  Does it go beyond telling them “Jesus is alive”?  Or do we also focus on why He died for us?

Easter is the Gospel! 

The greatest impact of why we celebrate Easter happens when we focus on the gospel everyday of the year.  Our children need the hear the Gospel, they need to see Jesus.  They need to see that they are sinners in need of rescue. When our children sin we must show them that is why Jesus died!  He is our rescuer!  And He lives!  The celebration of the resurrection is exciting when we realize that Jesus loves us so much that he rescued us from the death sentence of our sins. If we trust in Christ, we will one day stand before God, not carrying the record of our sins, but clothed in the perfection and righteousness of Jesus!

Here are some suggestions to make Easter a perfect opportunity to preach the Gospel to our children:

Preach the Gospel to yourself regularly to help you demonstrate and speak it to your children.

Spend time as a family reading the biblical accounts of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible.

During your Easter traditions be mindful to bring the focus back to the Gospel.

Pray with thankfulness with your children for Jesus’ sacrifice for sinners.

Ask probing questions so you see if your children understand the Gospel and why we celebrate Easter. (“Why did Jesus die and why do we need a rescuer from our sins?”) 

The Jesus Storybook Bible also is very understandable for children and helps children (and adults) to hear the true reason for our Easter celebration.  Here is an excerpt: 

“The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On His own Son. Instead of His people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, ‘It is finished!’ And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.”

WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?

Jesus died on the day we now call Good Friday.

It was not a tragedy of history. It was the purposeful plan God had for Jesus before he was ever born in Bethlehem.

This death was prophesied centuries before as God’s plan Isaiah 52:5-12; and Jesus fully embraced it Mark 8:31-33.

Why would God the Father have a plan that involved the brutal and burdensome death of His very Son?

Because there was no other way for any of us to be free of God’s judgment which is deserved Romans 6:23, and is coming Romans 1:18.

It is increasing popular for people to think we can choose any path to God and He will be at the end of it. The death of Christ shouts against this view. God did not slay His beloved Son just to provide humanity with one more path to Himself.

Jesus came because no one else could solve our sin problem. Jesus then died to totally take care of our sin problem John 3:36.

Faith in Christ as God’s only means of forgiveness is the only way anyone comes to God Acts 4:12.

As we pass through another Easter week. Consider why Jesus had to die and what the implications are to each of us.

Jesus brings us wonderful hope, because he fully accomplished all that is necessary to save those who trust in Him Romans 10:13.

But if we ignore that hope – God has none other to give us, and any other hope we take for ourselves is fraudulent Hebrews 10:29-31!

To help us in thinking about this greatest of all issues to ponder, I invite to read this article by Paul Rezkalla entitled “If all religions are true, then God is cruel”.

 

SHOULD YOU ESCAPE THE ORDINARY?

We all live in our routines. But we don’t think there is much special about them. In fact, most of us probably feel as though if we are to do anything “big” in life and for God, we need to find a way out of our routine.

Gloria Furman shares a different perspective in her article on the Ligonier Website entitled “Glorifying God in the Routines”.

Since we all have a routine that envelopes virtually all of our life, I think you will find Gloria’s thoughts to be helpful and encouraging.

It is clearly God’s intention to use us right where we are no matter how ordinary our routine may be. For in the end, the really “big” things are not what we do that look impressive, but what God does that is eternal.