Monthly Archives: January 2017

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.30.17

‘Know Where to Get Wisdom’                    

 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

 

We all want to be wise in life. But the world’s views of wisdom and foolishness are upside down. This makes it hard to protect against being influenced by false wisdom. Paul strengthens our convictions, by helping us understand how wisdom is obtained.

 

1. True wisdom will not come through those the world thinks are wise (v6)

Paul starts by repeating his point of where wisdom is not found

This present age (this world order), exalts us instead of God, that is not wisdom

That means the rulers of this age (people of influence), don’t have wisdom

Paul refers to all who embrace the gospel of Christ as “mature”

Those who know wisdom is in Christ, have a certain measure of maturity

Their thinking is on a secure foundation, and it is leading you in a wise direction

Don’t turn back to the wisdom of those who are “doomed to pass away”  

 

2. True wisdom must be revealed by God (v7a)

Paul calls the gospel “secret and hidden wisdom”

God is not hiding wisdom from us, he is declaring where wisdom is found

The gospel had to be revealed; and a crucified Messiah was totally unexpected

We will not find wisdom by our effort, or what makes sense to us  

Christ is the treasury of wisdom and the full answer to all we need (Colossians 2:3)

Christ is the door to all wisdom, every other door leads to a dead end

 

3. The wisdom of God is eternal and unchanging (v7b)

The world denies that truth can be definitive. So it changes with each new “ruler”

But God is a perfect and eternal being – all knowledge is his possession

God is the Creator – all that exists flows out of his wisdom

God is the Judge – we are all accountable to his standards

True wisdom doesn’t change, it embraces the ways of God

New wisdom about life and godliness will always be false wisdom

 

4. Our response to Christ reveals whether we have wisdom (v8)

The proof that this world is blind to wisdom, is their rejection of Christ

God displays the fullness of his power and wisdom in Christ 

Jesus was perfect man and “glory” on display, but the world didn’t recognize it

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s wondrous plan, but the world doesn’t care

What wisdom can the world give us, when Jesus is nowhere in it?

In v9, Paul quotes from Isaiah 64:4

He points out that the gospel of Christ contains glories beyond imagination

We cannot grasp all the gospel brings, but we have tasted it!

How can we consider neglecting the glories of gospel wisdom, to pick up what the world exalts?

 

5. The wisdom of God can only come from the Holy Spirit (vs 10-11)

The wisdom that created life and rules over eternity, flows from the mind of God

People emptily proclaim how life, eternity and God should operate; but unless God shares that wisdom with us, how can we possibly know it?

The Holy Spirit does know “the depths” of God

And he dwells in every believer to empower and ‘teach’ us (v12)

He makes the wisdom of God available and understandable to all believers

(1) This doesn’t mean every line in the Bible is instantly clear, it means it is all intelligible

(2) The Spirit who teaches us also inspired the Bible; so what he teaches us will always be in-sync with the Bible

If anyone’s thinking is not Holy Spirit inspired, then it’s not true wisdom

 

6. The wisdom of God can only be received by a “spiritual” person (v13)

v14 contrasts the spiritual person to the “natural person” (someone not born of the Spirit)

The natural person can study the Bible and recognize what it claims, but the realities of Christ don’t impact them

As spiritual people, we judge, but we are not judged (vs15-16)

This verse has been widely misused. It cannot contradict the rest of the Bible and mean we can avoid accountability

The context is clear, Paul is still rebuking the false wisdom of the world

God’s truth enables us to judge the world’s truth; but they don’t judge our truth, because it is God’s truth

Believer, you have “the mind of Christ”, which is the light of gospel wisdom. Use it!

Being wise in any situation is always tied to the cross and what it speaks to us

 

WOMEN’S RETREAT!

by Debbie Huber

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.  Romans 8:37-39

There are a lot of things that seem fearful in this world. Concerns for our family, our finances, our world…. How do we respond to these fears and pressures?

Many women tend to control things by attempting to fix them. We listen to the untrue voices telling us that we must take matters into our own hands. But God’s love speaks loudly to our fears and our desires to control life.

This year at Greentree Church’s annual Women’s Spring Retreat, our guest speaker, Trish Donohue, will be teaching from Romans 8 to help us see that God’s love is worthy of our trust.  We will be encouraged to love God’s truth to counteract the persistent lies that bombard us.  

And as we grow in our trust, we are called to reach out to other women to sow this love and truth of God, to build His kingdom.

Our retreat, “A Love We Can Trust”, is at the beautiful Inn at Mendenhall in Chadds Ford, PA, The hotel is nestled on an historic Brandywine Valley road between Longwood Gardens and Winterthur Museum.

If you have never attended a retreat, you are encouraged to consider coming this year. Our retreats are a unique and wonderful way to connect with other women and with our God. If you need to be matched with a roommate, we can try to help you! 

And if you have been before, look to invite someone new!

Registration is open on the church website

You must reserve your hotel room separately for you and your roommates by calling the hotel directly and requesting the Greentree Church group rate. Details are on the church website.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.23.16

Rest in the Wisdom and Power of Christ        

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

In chapter 1, Paul tells the Corinthians they need to change their categories for “wisdom” and “foolishness”

Human wisdom is foolish, because it doesn’t bring anyone to God (1:21)

The gospel of Christ crucified seems foolish, because Jesus died! Yet, it is wonderful wisdom, because it solves our sin problem!

Until we see wisdom and foolishness correctly, our priorities of life will be mixed up. This point is so crucial, Paul doesn’t move on, he keeps digging into it in chapter 2

 

Paul uses the example of his ministry with them

He describes his ministry to them with two sets of contrasts

1. The 1st contrast, involves the wisdom he used (vs 1-2)

Paul did not present the gospel with “lofty speech” or with “wisdom”

This means he did not use the stylized oration of the time, and he did not try to make the gospel fit into their sensibilities

Instead, Paul made the “decision” to preach nothing but Christ crucified

This doesn’t mean he ignored all other doctrines (Acts 18:11), but that in all his teaching, the gospel remained central and foundational

2. Paul’s second contrast, presents the power he depended on (vs 3-4)

Acts 18 tells us his initial ministry to Corinth was strongly opposed. The opposition was so threatening, the Lord had to reassure Paul in a vision!

This helps us understand what Paul means by coming to them ‘in fear and trembling’

Paul recognized his ministry would only bear fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit

Only the Holy Spirit can give eyes to see and a heart to believe

“The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” John 16:8

“Unless one is born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5

Paul was not hesitant to admit his weaknesses, because they were not an obstacle

In fact, the opposite is a danger to us, when we rely on ourselves

3. Paul sums up the reason for his approach (v5)

He wanted their faith to rest on God alone, because he alone can sustain them

As Christians, we talk about relying on God’s strength and wisdom; but do we practice it?

 

What does it mean to rest on the “wisdom” and “power” of God?

1. Trust the Bible – where all wisdom for life and godliness has been placed (v5)

Do you have complete confidence in God’s Word?

Do you see it as being fully sufficient for your life and wonderfully good?

You must decide where The Truth is found

The Bible doesn’t allow for half-hearted approval or partial trust, God expects complete submission and obedience

Guard against the seepage of the world’s wisdom

The world’s wisdom is not only prevalent, it sounds good, because it elevates us

Since Eden, human wisdom has been pride based; it tells God to move aside

Be prepared to rise above the world’s mockery: 

Keep in mind who has last word

God’s word will never be popular with the world’s culture; because the Bible condemns it. But the gospel will always be powerful to save any individual who bows to it

Parents, are you protective of God’s Word in your home?

Make sure you allow nothing to keep your family from reading the Bible together

2. Depend on the Holy Spirit – who empowers us

Paul could not change his situation, and he felt overwhelmed (vs 3-4)

Yet, he did not stop persisting in his calling, because the Holy Spirit was the one enabling him

Your life is meant to serve God; so, we can serve him regardless of circumstances

Evidences, that we are not depending on the Holy Spirit

(1)  When we think if a famous person was saved, they would accomplish a lot for God. No, believer, if God has all your heart, He will accomplish a lot through you!

(2)  When we habitually walk through our day without spending time with God – it shows we think we can handle it

(3)  When we think we cannot change an attitude or a behavior – this denies the power of the Spirit 

(4)  When our first response to problems is to try fix the situation, or the person ourselves

 

3. Keep the implications of the cross at the center of how we live (v2)

The cross cuts against the values of human culture, because it cuts against the values of self

Life will drift, if the values of the Cross are not kept freshly in mind

The values of the Cross declare:

(1)  Sin is a serious issue! God hates sin, so we must not allow any resting place for it

(2)  Humility is the only path to a Christian lifestyle. Pride has no business guiding us

(3)  God’s commitment to us should overcome all doubt, fear, hurt or loss

THIS HOPE IS REAL

Nathan Barry recently died from cancer.

He was 16

He knew Christ

His hope remained

Nathan shared his simple, yet deep testimony while knowing that death was most likely soon before him. You may not be facing a challenge this big, but we all desperately need a hope that is secure and can never diminish.

Nathan’s Testimony from Wazza on Vimeo.

SOMETHING TO SAY

opinion

 

I thought this cartoon brilliantly captures our culture.

We all have something to say, and every person should be heard; but not all of what is said has equal value.

If you are interested in hearing words that are always worthy, then read the book that is eternally true and valuable!

 

MESSY GRACE

messy-grace-cover

“Messy Grace” is an unusual story

The author, Caleb Kaltenbach was raised by a militantly lesbian mother and a homosexual father.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually helpful story

Caleb helps us to think about how Christians come across to those who are outside the church community. You will be challenged in how God uses you in the lives of those who are broken.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually powerful book

If you have a heart to reach people with abundant grace and uncompromising truth, this book will help you. And if you are not interested in those things, then you probably should read it twice!

I benefited by reading “Messy Grace” and I have been recommending it ever since. One of my small groups found that this book stimulated wonderful and needed conversations.

Buy it

Read it

Use it

CHRISTIAN, WHAT IS OUR LIFE?

John Newton was a former slave trader who became a pastor. He is famous for his hymn “Amazing Grace”.

Near the end of his life, when Newton spoke before a group of people, a careful listener recorded this outline from Newton’s sermon. It is an encouraging reminder for every Christian

I am not what I ought to be.

Ah! how imperfect and deficient.

Not what I might be,

considering my privileges and opportunities.

Not what I wish to be.

God, who knows my heart, knows I wish to be like him.

I am not what I hope to be;

ere long to drop this clay tabernacle, to be like him and see him as he is.

Not what I once was,

a child of sin, and slave of the devil.

Though not all these, not what I ought to be, not what I might be, not what I wish or hope to be, and not what I once was, I think I can truly say with the apostle,

By the grace of God I am what I am!

MY FAVORITE READS OF 2016

reading

I can still remember how exciting it was for me when I learned to read. Ever since, reading has been a central part of my life and a major use of my time. Here are some of my favorite books from 2016

 

CHRISTIAN LIFE

Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke

Reinke draws from Newton’s bountiful writings (primarily his letters) to present Newton’s theology of the Christian life

One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm

A short book that presents the use of one to one Bible reading as an outreach tool

Habits of Grace by David Mathis

There are many books on the disciplines of the Christian life. This may be my favorite.

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

A top book of the year.  Kaltenbach was raised by a militant lesbian mother and a homosexual father.  His book helps us understand how Christians come across to those outside the church community, and how to touch lives that are broken.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

Eswine uses the writings of Charles Spurgeon and the Psalms to bring help to those who suffer from depression

Everyday Church by Tim Chester

Helping churches become Gospel communities on mission

Awe by Paul Tripp

Another excellent book by Tripp on living with a Biblical perspective through remaining in awe of God

 

BIBLICAL STUDIES

Child in the Manger by Sinclair Ferguson

Thoughtful messages on the birth of Christ

The Christ of the Empty Tomb by James Boice

Thoughtful messages on the resurrection of Christ

Knowing Christ by Mark Jones

This is an exceptional collection of writings on the person of Christ.  One of my favorite books of the year, which I have given to my children.

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper

I highly recommend this book on Piper which helps the Christian understand how the Bible was put together and how it reveals its glory and truthfulness

 

BIOGRAPHIES & MEMOIRS

Not Forgotten by Kenneth Eae

The powerful story of a Korean American believer who was imprisoned in North Korea

God Took Me by the Hand by Jerry ‘Bridges

Jerry Bridges uses his life story to teach truths on the sovereignty of God

 J. C. Ryle by Iain Murray

An excellent biography on an influential pastor and writer of the 19th century

The Man Who Moved a Mountain by Richard Davids

The story of Bob Childress, who was a pastor in the rough and wild mountain communities of Virginia.

 J. I. Packer by Leland Ryken

A biography on one of the most influential Christians of the last fifty years.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Christopher Catherwood

This book is part biography and part description of the impact of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ life written by his grandson.

The Diary of a Forty-Niner by Chauncey Canfield

A description of what life was like during the California gold rush in the 1850’s

A Pastor in New York by John Thornbury

A biography on Spencer Houghton Cone.  Cone was not someone I had heard of, but I love biographies on pastors

Darkness Visible:  A Memoir of Madness by William Styron

An accomplished author gives us an inside view of his struggle with mental illness.

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuel Sson

The memoirs of a world-famous chef born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and cooking in America.

 

HISTORY

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

The fascinating story of the brothers who invented the first airplane that worked.

Dinner With Churchill by Cita Stelzer

An interesting look at how Winston Churchill used dinners to conduct policy, particularly during World War II

The Greatest Knight  by Thomas Asbridge

The true story of William Marshal, the most famous and powerful knight of the Middle Ages

 

NON-FICTION

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Gaffigan captures the humorous idiosyncrasies of parenting, especially with multiple children.  It’s a book best listened too.

The History of Diners in New Jersey by Michael Gabriele

Diners and history in one book, what more needs to be said?

 

FICTION

The Scarlett Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

A classic that was fast paced and enjoyable. What I never knew is that this is the first in a series on that character.

One Man’s War by P. M. Kippert

An accurate description of what it was like to be a rifleman on the front line during World War II.  Be warned:  foul language abounds.

THE WAVES NEVER STOP

Living near the shore has its advantages.

I don’t get to the beach often, but when I do, I usually think to myself, “Why don’t I do this more often?”

My favorite time to walk along the beach is early evening, when the crowds are gone along with the heat.

Although the people have left, the sand bears many signs that swarms of them were recently present. In addition to the ubiquitous footprints in the sand, are the remnants of collapsed castles and abandoned excavations.

Yet, the next morning, all these evidences will all be washed smooth by the ever-flowing action of the waves.

God’s grace accomplishes a similar work in the believer’s heart.

Throughout each day, sin is disrupting our hearts and minds. As we come to the end of our day, we can see abundant evidence of sin’s disturbance.

However, the Cross never ceases to flow with the cleansing grace of Christ.

No matter how often our soul is disrupted, the merciful actions of our Savior have the final say. This is the proclamation of the Prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:22-24

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Child of grace, don’t neglect giving praise and thanksgiving to your faithful Savior.

He never tires of pouring grace upon you, so don’t tire in imitating his attentiveness.

As we develop the habit of recognizing the evidences of his grace, our minds will turn more easily to worship rather than worry. And our hearts will increasingly yearn for the good things that honor him.

The result will be a heart that is clean, and at rest.

FORGET MAKING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Forget Your New Year’s Resolutions

Life is not going to improve because you resolve to try harder. But life can become increasing fruitful if you consistently respond to God who has already pursued you

If you are in Christ, you cannot keep your life from reaching its highest possible crescendo! This is because God has already resolved to complete his work in you!

“I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)

“Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30)

“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

The intention of these passages is to assure us that God is absolutely committed to completing the ultimate purpose he had in saving us.

In Romans 8 and Ephesians 2, notice how the end result of our salvation is spoken of in the past tense. This shows us, that in God’s eyes it is a finished work – that even our failures cannot stop!

I am not saying we shouldn’t bother to put effort into being faithful.

And I am not saying it doesn’t matter if we are spiritually half-hearted.

My point is that the foundation to why we “can” be faithful and fruitful, does not start with our earnest commitment toward making life work. It comes out of God’s irrevocable commitment toward all who trust in His Son.

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9)

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12)

In these verses, we see that God is the basis – even for our responses to Him. This is not an invitation to give less effort. Rather, it is an encouragement that our efforts flow out and are held up by God’s faithfulness.

We will fail, we will face dry times, and at times we will feel utterly useless for God.

But that is only a partial reality. There is a greater reality, which is God’s resolution to never give up on those who belong to him.

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, start meeting God who has already come to you.

God has given his word to you, read it

God is here every morning, spend time with him

God’s graces are new every morning, praise him for them

Your children are God’s gift to you, let them see you are committed to him

God has established the Church to build you up and to use your gifts, commit to it

God has made us his ambassadors, be a person of the gospel

Yes, these actions require resolve from us.

But be encouraged that God makes it work. He does the heavy lifting.

Instead of a making a New Year’s Resolution soon to be abandoned. Start responding to God who is already pursuing you.