Monthly Archives: February 2016

SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.29.16

Live in Response to the Glorious Christ

Philippians 2:12-18

#1  Put God’s work in you into practice (vs 12-13)

Paul has the big picture understanding of salvation in mind

Our ‘salvation’ is more than our justification (being made righteous):

Ephesians 1:3 “(God) has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing”

The gospel brings comprehensive and wonderful transformation to us (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We routinely minimize what salvation has done, and so minimize Christ!

Faith picks up these truths and lives by them

To ‘work out’ our salvation is to live according to all our salvation contains

Think of this as your muscles, you already have them, but you need to develop them

In all responsibilities and circumstances, how do we live out our salvation?

This process is ‘work’, but it’s not drudgery

God himself is at the center in every moment of our labor (v13)

This gives us reason for celebrating and persisting even if we do so weakly

Paul adds that we are to put God’s work into practice with “fear and trembling”

Fear of God is a response that has awe at one end (for the believer) and dread at the other (for the unbeliever)

Christians should fear and tremble that the person of vs 9-11 is working in us

 

#2  Protect gospel unity and gospel mission (vs 14-16)

There are many sins we are to do without, but Paul here continues with the themes church unity and gospel mission

If we live with conflict in the church, we are not in fear and trembling

We all need accountability and correction, as described in Ephesians 4:15 “speaking the truth in love”

But complaining and arguing are corrosive responses that lack humility and grace

Paul reminds us that church life takes place before the world’s eyes

The world is a crooked and twisted place, we should be distinctly different

We are lights which are meant to shine

2 Corinthians 5:20 “God is making his appeal through us”

However, the gospel is not being revealed when we complain or argue

Paul’s use of the phrase “a crooked and twisted generation” is from Deuteronomy 32:5

He is describing the people of God who acted as if they weren’t

Grace abounded to them, but difficulty brought bickering from them

We fail to recognize that fighting and complaining are serious sins against God

The work of the gospel is a desperate need for every person, and the agenda of the gospel is our only God approved response

“Do all things without grumbling” is a biblical mandate

It comes down to whether or not we want biblical ways more than our own (v16)

 

#3  Take joy in Great Commandment living (vs 17-18)

Paul rejoiced when his life was entirely submitted to Christ

He compares it to being ‘poured out’ as a drink offering

Drink offerings in ancient religions involved pouring a cup of wine onto the ground to honor the gods

The idea is that once poured out, it can no longer be kept for us

This is Great Commandment living!

Why does Paul want us to rejoice with him over it? Because Great Commandment living is entirely good!

Every hesitation we have about Great Commandment living comes from deception

How can we know God and think that giving less of our life to him is better?

Paul was in prison facing the real possibility of execution

These realities made no difference to his conviction about joy

This is because his joy was in Christ and the trajectory of the gospel

If we see the glories of Christ, let us live by the glories of Christ

PREPARED FOR THE LORD

 

The Ministry of John the Baptist was foretold by the prophet Isaiah when he wrote:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3)

What was the content of John’s ministry that prepared the way for Christ? What was his message that makes paths straight?

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”

John’s message was looking to the overall change of direction in people’s lives, but repentance is interested in the little things too.

Repentance is a way of describing the enormous destiny change of turning our life from unbelief and to Christ. Repentance is also a step we need to make regularly as we get rid of the gunk and misdirection which so often clogs our life.

Repentance means to turn and going to different direction. This is what sets repentance apart from people who are simply bothered by regret or upset about sin’s consequences. Neither of these responses are necessarily about changing direction. They are not in themselves repentance

As those who love God, we want growth and heart change. This requires repentance. This repentance is not to regain a lost salvation; God’s only way of saving us is totally and forever!

We need to repent often as a way of declaring that change in our life is real. We should be committed to gradually recognizing what doesn’t belong in us and having God help us cast it out. At the same time we should be committed to adding into our life all the good stuff that God’s Word teaches us.

We repent or “turn away from”:

Habitual impatience with other drivers

Ignoring our spouse when we want to focus on our comforts

Blowing off worship with our church family as God requires so we can ________ instead

Spending time on Facebook instead of in the Bible

Looking at pornography or engaging in romantic fantasy with someone who is not our spouse

Thinking we will be okay if we don’t spend time in prayer

Failing to put God first in our financial decisions

Failing to be involved in gospel mission

Harboring resentment for someone who mistreated us

Spreading our complaints about people

Rejecting the person in our small group who tried to speak the truth in love about something in our life

Correcting our children out of anger rather than by instruction

As John declared, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance”.

Repentance involves an attitude, but by definition it also requires our action!

The motivation and the warning that John brought for repentance is this reality: “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. There is a place we are headed for; it will be either heaven or hell. There are no other options.

The person who rules over our eternal destiny is the person of Jesus Christ.

We receive and bow before him or we don’t.
We repent or we don’t.

If we want our “ways to be straight”, and if we want our life prepared for all that Christ would do, then we need to live as a repentant person.

HOW MUCH OF LIFE IS FOR GOD?

What part of your life belongs to God?

What right does God have to your life?

What does it mean to commit to Great Commandment living?

How can you take steps forward in having God rule over all of your life?

Are you clear on what it means to live your life in stewardship before God?

These are excellent questions.

They can also be difficult to answer. Not just because we are uncomfortable with the question itself, we are also not always clear about the answers.

Being serious about God requires action, submission and self examination. Of course all this needs to be under the clear and gracious guide of Scripture.

Brad Hambrick, wrote this article for the Grace and Truth website entitled, “Nine Questions to Help You Steward All of Your Life for God’s Glory”.

Hambrick’s article is not exhaustive or overbearing. Instead it is a helpful (we need that) and clear (we also need that) article meant to help us move forward.

If your heart belongs to God, then you want to live more fully for him. Spend a few minutes reading Hambrick’s “Nine Questions”. Better yet, bookmark it or print it out. You will find your heart encouraged to take good steps toward your Heavenly Father who wants to help you with each of them.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.22.16

“Gospel mission needs gospel unity”

 

Philippians 2:1-4

Chapter 1ends with Paul declaring the gospel of Christ is worthy of our unity in the face of opposition. In chapter 2, he adds the gospel is worthy of being guarded against disunity within church

 

Paul gives 4 reasons why unity should rule in us (v1)

1.  All believers are in Christ

Our common salvation and bond in Christ should encourage us toward fellow-believers

2.  All believers know love (Great Commandment living is all about love)

3.  All believers have the Holy Spirit – who works to bind us in community

4.  All believers have new character – which draws us to what is God pleasing

Any of these is sufficient reason for unity, together they are overwhelming!

How influential are these reasons to you?

If we don’t see one another (or ourselves) by these truths, are they true of us?

 

Gospel unity drives us to gospel mission (v2)

Paul has gospel mission in view (he uses the same language as the previous verses) 1:27

(1) Gospel unity gives us “the same mind”: that the gospel is everyone’s great need

(2) Gospel unity gives us the “same love”: our hearts value Christ above all

(3) Gospel unity brings us into “full accord”: we labor for the same purpose

It is important to recognize that biblical unity is gospel unity

Questions of church unity are often misapplied

Some too easily create disunity out of differences in secondary doctrine and practice

Others go the opposite way and claim unity is sacred regardless of belief

Some want peace at any price; rather than deal with heart issues, they sweep disagreement under the carpet

Disagreement among believers will happen

Sometimes it’s for reasons that are important for truth and godliness

However, as believers, we can have disagreement without disharmony (Romans 14-15) 15:1

The gospel is wonderful enough and powerful enough to keep us in unity

v1 the gospel is powerful enough

v2 the gospel is wonderful enough

With our common reality in the gospel, the Church should not allow anything to keep us from our common gospel mission

 

To have this unity we must eliminate what hinders it (vs 3-4)

Pride and selfishness are the great hindrances to unity (and godliness)

We see these at the root of sin and conflict throughout the Bible and life

Pride and selfishness relentlessly seek to erode what God wants to do

Our pride may not openly reject God, but it distorts how we serve him

Without humility, the gospel is not possible

It was necessary for Jesus leave heaven, stay on earth, and die in our place (vs 5-8)

Jesus’ every moment on earth required him to exercise humility

For us to receive the gospel, our hearts had to be humbled

If the gospel is to rule over our lives, we must embrace humility

So, how can the Church clearly go forth in the gospel without humility? This is why v3 so emphatic!

Humility frees from the bondage of pride and selfishness

Think of your experience with people: those who are extremely selfish are in bondage to it and they are miserable!

Our weaknesses and limitations are not in the way of gospel mission, it is our pride and selfishness that distract us, and muck up our lives

Where is selfishness and pride getting in your way?

Do you become offended, rather than look for people’s true intention

Do you pull away, rather than seeking to care for people’s weaknesses

Do you want members to meet your expectations, rather than look how to serve them

Are you going through life in self-pity and disappointment, rather than encourage others with gospel truth

 

DISABILITY MINISTRY: REACHING ALL PEOPLE FOR CHRIST

disabilities

by Debbie Huber

What if you found out that a specific group of families in your community were unreached with the gospel? I am sure you would be interested in finding ways to reach out to these families.

These unreached families are those who have a family member with a disability.

The statistics speak for themselves:

Nearly one in six children has a developmental disability.

Approximately 1 in 45 children (1 in 28 boys) in NJ has an autism spectrum disorder. Our area is statistically higher than the rest of the country for autism diagnoses. 

An overwhelming majority of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted because our society perpetuates the falsehood that people with Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities have less value.

When a couple has a child with autism or ADHD, some research indicates that the rate of divorce for their parents is nearly twice as high as the norm

Some disability ministry leaders have estimated that 85-90% of people with disabilities are unchurched. 

Jesus tells us to go into the world to reach ALL people because ALL people are created in God’s image, even those with disabilities.  The Bible is full of instances where Jesus sought out those with disabilities.  He had compassion on them; he healed them, not just physically but spiritually. 

In Luke 14 in the Parable of the Banquet, Jesus specifically says to go into the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in the poor, the crippled and the lame. Jesus tells us that for those with disabilities and the outcast, it is clear that the kingdom is made up of the “least of these brothers of mine.”

You may have neighbors or family who has a child with a disability. Often those families can feel isolated.  It is difficult for them to find babysitters for even short outings.  Going to church may seem like an overwhelming thought to them, and they are often turned away from churches because the church is not equipped to handle their child’s unique needs. 

God is opening up this area of ministry for our church.  Children with disabilities are a part of our children’s ministry at Greentree. They are receiving loving care and are hearing the gospel faithfully.  It is our desire at Greentree Church to be welcoming and accommodating to these children, but also to be able to minister to these families.

It is not always easy.  We can expect physical and behavioral issues that make ministering to those with disabilities messy at times.  But it is worth it. 

Here are some specific ways you can help

1.  Volunteer to be a one-on-one aide to a child with a disability in children’s ministry.

2.  Seek to establish relationships with families who have a family member with a disability. (Children or adult). Offer to help them in practical ways.   Pray that God will use your relationship to share the gospel with the whole family.

3.  Be welcoming to families and individuals with disabilities who visit our church. It is easy to shy away from talking to them because we do not know what to say.  Start by saying hi and smiling!

Please join with me to pray that God will give us hearts to reach out to these families and that our church will be a welcoming place for everyone to hear the Gospel, including those with disabilities.

THE ART OF DELUSION

 

Satan’s great weapon is deceit; he is the “father of lies” (John 8:44).

All sin involves delusion of some kind

“I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ”  (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Satan cannot make us sin, but he works very hard to deceive us (with cooperation from our fleshly nature)

He wants to delude us about sin and its fruit

He wants to delude us about what is important and wise for life

He wants to delude us about God: his character and the benefits of being sold out for him

Satan presents the bait and hides the hook

He makes sin look inviting while hiding its poison and God’s judgment

But there is always a hook and to sin always makes us play the fool

We need to remind ourselves of the realities behind every sin

Satan’s real purpose is always to separate us from God

Satan hates us    

Sin hates God       

Every sin will be regretted

Satan shows us only one side of sinful lives

We see the success and pleasures of godless people

Or we hear positive reactions to sinful behaviors

We cannot see the true condition of people’s inner life. People without Christ cannot have peace with God or the peace of God

When we consider what lies ahead for unbelievers and sin, there is nothing to envy

We need to consider the results of life and obedience with the eyes of faith

Satan covers some sins with social acceptability

“If so many people do it, how wrong can it be, and how angry can God be?”

The Bible is clear, God will condemn many

“Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13)

We should expect the world to commonly and increasingly pursue what is evil   

“Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

God acts from his perfection, he’s unaffected by human opinion and practice

Satan portrays God as only love

Instead of being seen as perfectly loving, God is made out to only loving

The Bible portrays God as perfect in all attributes; which includes his justice and holiness

“Consider the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22)

Satan wants to change the size of God and man

He wants us to magnify man and minimize God; to make what men do important and what God does distant

The result is we fear people over God, follow people over God, listen to people over God, and appease people rather than God

We need a clear view of mankind’s true nature and position  

“All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.” (Isaiah 40:6-7)

We obviously need the same concerning God  

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

Both of these need to be reinforced regularly

Whenever temptation comes, remind yourself that deceit, failure and regret are in the heart of what is being offered to you

 

GOD IS NOT CUSTOMIZABLE

Lumia_820_Featured

Have you ever noticed the way people who leave God on the periphery of life feel free to tell Christians how we are following God incorrectly?

They blithely declare how the church needs to act differently in terms of support for social, political, economic and even sexual issues. They will even go so far as to accuse Christians of this head scratcher: we are being unchristian, if we will not agree and go along with other religions.

Accusations such as these reveal that the accusers don’t believe God is real, and they don’t believe His Word has any authority.

Sometimes they will throw out a broad and out of context biblical statement as to justify their accusation, but generally their opinions rest simply on the fact that they want Christians to think and act different.

G Shane Morris wrote an interesting article on this topic for The Federalist entitle “Dear Media: Stop Trying to Teach Christians Theology”.

We shouldn’t be surprised when unbelievers act this way, people will always be desperate to silence the voice of God from their lives.

But what about professed Christians, do we ever act as if the Bible’s authority over our preferences is questionable?

When believers pile up days without giving time or thought to God, how do explain the difference between our life and that of an unbeliever (many of them are nice and moral too)?

God is Creator, Sustainer, Lord of all, Almighty, Glorious and Perfect. He graciously is quite interested in hearing from us, but God has absolutely no interest in adjusting His will and Word for us.

The Bible is clear; if we love God we will bow before him and we will follow his Word. This particularly includes when God’s Word is running against our preferences.

As Shane Morris points out, God is not “customizable”.

 

ALL YOU COULD READ AND MORE

 

Since I am in Belarus for half of February, my book recommendation this month is to share with you a great book list.

Monergism is an excellent theological website that sells worthy biblical resources. They also provide extensive amounts of puritan e-book material at no cost (also known as free).

You can find their books and blog articles at Monergism.com

What I am sharing with you today is a link to this article a couple months back which listed dozens of recommended Christian books in a variety of categories: Christian living, biography, classics, basics, advanced reading, apologetics, men, women, children etc.

Each book is listed as a link so you can go right the Amazon page for that book to get more information or to purchase it

THOUGHTS ON MANKIND’S FIRST SIN

Genesis 3:1-6

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

 

Satan’s Attack

1.  Satan brought God into question. What God had said, was made to be ‘open to discussion’.

2.  Satan accused God’s law as being unreasonable.

3.  Satan inflated Eve’s view of her rights and needs.

4.  Satan pretended he was concerned for Eve’s interests, when his real motivation was to destroy.

5.  Satan planted the seed of sin’s immediate gratification.

6.  Satan omitted the full result of his suggested course.

We should always view temptation as an attack. Satan is a ‘roaring lion seeking to devour’.

 

Eve’s Failure

1.  She took up the self-centered perspective offered.

2.  She did not place the temptation under God’s wisdom: What does God have to say about this?

3.  She did not admit God’s authority over her and everything else.

4.  She did not seek God Himself.

5.  She allowed the temptation to take root (James 1:14-15).

6.  She allowed truth to be experimental;  i.e. to define truth by our experience.

Love for God and trust in Him was not enough for Eve. The same principle is true when we disobey God’s word.


BELARUS UPDATE 2.08.16

New Covenant ChurchWith New Covenant Church last year

If this is your first look at our Belarus trip, please visit the post from January 3oth.

Jeff, Steve and I have a combined 30 trips to Belarus! Our hearts are big for this country and we are asking God to use our time well.

If you want to see photos and updates throughout our trip, please follow us on Twitter @PastorKyleHuber, or on Facebook. You can learn more about SEE Global and Belarus on the SEE Global website.

Thank you for following our trip AND for your prayers. These are a precious gift to us!

We arrived in Belarus last Thursday. Here is the schedule for the second week of our trip which you can use as a prayer guide.

Tuesday, Feb 9

Jeff continues teaching his course on Romans. Steve and I are traveling to Stolbtsy. We will meet with the leadership of a great church that has participated in SEE Global training for a couple years. This will be a time of extended fellowship and conversation on church ministry.

Wednesday, Feb 10

Steve and I will hopefully have some time to work on teaching responsibilities coming up this week. Jeff continues to plow through Romans. We will have lunch with Pastor Sergei Drozd who is part of the SEE Global leadership team.

Tonight, Steve will have the pulpit at our sister-church in Gatovo – after a time of feasting. Jeff and I will travel to Borisov and meet with the leadership of the church pastored by Sergei Zhukovski. Sergei works closely with SEE Global.

Thursday, Feb 11

Jeff is probably wondering how he will ever get the rest of Romans finished by tomorrow. Pray for grace. Steve and I continue to connect with as many pastors as we can while we are here. Today we meet with a Pentecostal pastor named Gennady, who has been very supportive of SEE Global.

Friday, Feb 12

One way or another Jeff will finish Romans today. Steve and I will be working on planning with the SEE Global leadership in Belarus.

Saturday, Feb 13

We leave early for SEE Global’s annual Bible conference in Borisov. Steve and I will be speaking along with other pastors. This year the conference theme is “The Mission of the Church”. People from many churches attend this conference which has become quite popular.

Sunday, Feb 14

Steve and I will be preaching in different churches in the morning. Steve will be at Resurrection Church (Sergei Drozd), and I will be at Church of God (Gennady). I guess Jeff gets to choose who he would rather hear.

Tonight, I will have the thrill of preaching for New Covenant Church, which was planted by our partner at SEE Global, Sergei Lukyanov last March. This young church plant is filled with enthusiasm. It is hard to convey the joy I have being with them!

Monday, Feb 15

We head out early for a two day trip to the city of Brest located 4 hours away in the far southwest corner of Belarus. Brest is on the Polish border.

I have been eager for this visit. We are here to be with another new church plant team led by Igor Kanuchka. His sister is the wife of Valery Beza whose is on the SEE Global leadership team. Igor’s wife, Anne was SEE Global’s first secretary until Igor stole her away.

This is a sister-church plant team with New Covenant Church. It is thrilling to see this team come together and prepare to plant a healthy gospel-centered church. We want to encourage and learn how we can be a help to them.

Please pray for this church team!

Tuesday, Feb 16

Our second day in Brest, we are scheduled to visit a traditional Belarusian sauna. The Belarusian sauna includes being “beaten” with birch branches to stimulate the pores. It should be an experience! I think we will skip posting photos – unless they are of Jeff.

Wednesday, Feb 17

We are up at 4:00 a.m. and off to the Minsk airport to begin the long trip home. We will be eager to see our families. The planes never fly fast enough going home.

Pray that God will bring lasting fruit from these two weeks in Belarus. Also ask God to give us energy as we catch up with responsibilities at home after our time away.