Jesus

SIMPLY PROFOUND

It is a simple truth. 

My fullest and uninterrupted joy, contentment, happiness, satisfaction and delight will be when my heart is entirely given to Jesus Christ. 

It is simple, because I don’t have to figure out where to place the focus of my life. I don’t have to search for life’s answers. It is always Jesus! If I set the entirety of my mind and heart on Jesus I will experience the greatest possible joy in this world. 

The reason is creation. 

I am a created being. I was purposefully designed by God to know and enjoy him. This is my highest purpose for existing. 

The proof is heaven. 

My eternity will be wondrous, because I will be a Great Commandment person. My heart will overflow with inexpressible joy when my heart no longer withholds anything from Christ. 

This is a profound truth. 

Nothing is more important to understand, and nothing will bring more benefit to your life. Right now an army of activities and responsibilities are demanding your time and attention. However, none of them are as vital to your everything than the person of Jesus!

Love for Jesus is what makes life work.

Love for Jesus is how I get back on track.

Love for Jesus is how I begin each day.

Love for Jesus is how I filter all circumstances.

Love for Jesus is how I assess each day.

Love for Jesus is where I give my best efforts.

Love for Jesus is what my soul is searching for, and every substitute will leave my soul wanting more. 

Jesus will satisfy, he truly will.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.19.16

‘In Jesus Name’

John 16:23-28

 

Jesus’ Farewell Discourse is preparing his followers for when he will leave them. Part of Jesus’ encouragement is the way his leaving will bring to them greater access to God

 

Jesus transformed how we pray

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mt, he taught his followers to pray

He gave them an example prayer, which we know as the Lord’s Prayer

In it he taught us to pray “our Father”; this was the first time we were invited to address God as ‘Father’

It is a revolutionary new perspective that emphasizes the depth of the relationship we now have with God through Christ

In the Farewell Discourse, Jesus adds another revolutionary ‘first’ in how we pray (v23)

Six times in Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, he tells his disciples to now pray “in my name”

Praying “in Jesus name” is not a magic formula to get answers

1.Praying in Jesus’ name is a declaration of Position (vs 26-27)

Those who trust in Jesus are fully accepted by the Father and we can speak to the Father just as Jesus did on earth!

Praying to our Father, in Jesus name, says we belong in this relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Verse 27 brings up an issue that is widely misunderstood in world

As John 3:16 says, ‘God loves the world’. However, this doesn’t mean he is in loving relationship with everyone in world – as the following verses make clear (John 3:16-18)

Unless we have trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin, we are condemned

Trusting in Jesus’ name brings us into a relationship of covenant love with God

2.Praying in Jesus’ name is a declaration of Purpose 

This point has been made throughout the Farewell Discourse

John 14:13 – what we ask and how God answers is meant for his glory

John 15:7 – asking in Jesus’ name requires abiding in him and his word

John 15:16-17 – God answers our prayers to bring kingdom fruitfulness

We are never given privileges or promises from God that diminish his sovereignty

In the middle of this section, Jesus tells disciples that he will soon speak ‘plainly’ (v25)

He contrasts this to his speaking in “figures of speech”

The word used here often means “perplexing” speech and that meaning fits the context best

Jesus will soon be able to speak plainly, because after his death and resurrection, Jesus’ teaching will become clearer to them

The events of the gospel will make all Scripture clearer to them (Luke 24:27)

Immediately after saying this, Jesus repeats about “praying in my name”

Clarity about the purpose of Christ in the gospel helps how we pray

We now know what values should drive our prayers

 

There are questions about prayer we cannot fully answer

This is because God answers our prayers from his sovereignty, not ours

However, we know God’s sovereignty is complete, wise and good

So “Ask” – often and with faith!  This is a clear application of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse

There is a parallel invitation from Jesus in John 7:37-39

Jesus invites us to “come and drink” for he is sending the Holy Spirit

Yet, we tend to come and ‘sip’; we half-heartedly seek Jesus!

What is the state of your “asking”?

v24 instructs us to “ask that your joy may be full”

Most of us are good about praying for rescue in times of great distress

But there is much more to pray about!   

Let us be filled with ‘asking’ – for the glory of Christ!

KNOWING CHRIST

knowing-christ

This month I am strongly

vigorously

heartily

robustly

stoutly

decidedly

and joyfully recommending the book “Knowing Christ” by Mark Jones.

I first heard about the book through watching a conversation between the author and J.I. Packer on the importance of this book and its topic.

After that I saw many recommendations of “Knowing Christ” by highly respected church leaders. It became a ‘must read’ for me.

After reading the first chapter, I bought more copies to give away.

I like that Mark Jones combines challenging depth with approachable clarity. Mark wants to honor Christ by having the reader think more deeply about Christ.

However, the book does not overwhelm the reader. The 27 chapters are short (under 10 pages), so the book can be read as a daily devotional. In fact, I recommend that you not read more than one chapter at a time. These are rich truths that deserve careful attention.

No subject will reward us more richly than to learn more about Christ. The Apostle Paul has this to say about Christ in Colossians 1:15-19

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell

Every one of us has the need to love and honor Jesus more. A necessary part of doing so, is to know more about him.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.12.16

‘Joyful Bewilderment’

John 16:16-22

God, I don’t understand!  Lord, what are you doing? What does this mean?

You have probably had these thoughts, and in Jesus’ Farewell Address, we find his disciples asking those questions

 

Jesus’ disciples are bewildered

They are bewildered about statements we easily understand

It’s easy for us to understand now, because we know what happened

The disciples understood the words Jesus used, but not the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of his leaving and return

It would not be until Jesus works were complete, that their understanding would be full

According to v19, Jesus knew exactly how they were struggling

Yet, he doesn’t give them a specific answer about what he meant by “a little while”

Instead, Jesus gives them a big picture answer about how it all ends

       Jesus knows his actions will eventually answer their questions

       Knowing the big picture will serve them in all life’s confusing and painful moments 

We want the immediate details about our circumstances and we complain to God when we don’t have them

 God does far better than give us the immediate details; he fills his Word with big picture clarity

 

Let’s look at Jesus’ ‘big picture’ answer (vs 20-22)

We will face what is painful and doesn’t seem to make sense – it’s unavoidable

(1)  We will find ourselves bewildered at times by life events

          Our world rejects the rule and truth of God, so we are surrounded by senselessness

          To think we won’t struggle is unbiblical; but so is struggle without hope (compare vs 20 and 22)

(2)  We will find ourselves struggling at times over God’s Word

          Much of God’s word runs against the common human perspectives of self

          Living with a biblical perspective only makes sense in light of the big picture of eternity

Jesus saw the disciple’s struggle to make sense of life

He cares about our struggle, but like small children, we simply cannot grasp it all now 

He has clear and excellent answers, and we will see them ‘in a little while’

        Until then, God has given us sufficient answers for now in the gospel and its promises

        Until then, God is giving us abundant grace now for the active presence of the Holy Spirit

All our sorrows will be transformed to joy

Jesus gives hope in his leaving by assuring them of his returning

       The return of his resurrection – when sin and death are defeated

       The return of his second coming – when our faith and his kingdom are made perfect

All our questions will be answered when we see Jesus

       Because the answers are all fulfilled by Jesus

       If we truly know Jesus, that should hold us for now!

Jesus uses child birth as an illustration of our big picture realty (v21)

       The real pain we have in life now, is producing an overwhelmingly greater joy forever

       This should encourage us in how we walk through what is now painful

Jesus gives 3 big picture reasons why we can take joy now (v22)

1.  We will see Jesus

The impact of this is multifaceted

       The glory and wonder of his presence will be pure joy

       His coming brings the perfections of life in his kingdom

       When we see him we shall be like him (1 John 3:2)

2.  Our hearts will rejoice

This is because every gospel fulfillment will completely satisfy us

       In Jesus’ kingdom we will all be Great Commandment people

       We will enjoy the fullest possible fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

3.  No one will take our joy

No one who opposes Christ and our life in him, will be left standing

Christ’s kingdom will be perfect, eternal and undisturbed

 

Believer, joy is how all things end for you – including every pain, struggle and question

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.05.16

The Active Presence of the Holy Spirit                        

John 16:5-15

The most under-appreciated aspect of our salvation may be the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In his farewell address, Jesus keeps coming back to the Holy Spirit so we will be mindful of his active presence

 

The Holy Spirit is our great advantage in this world (v7)

Jesus’ leaving was to fulfill the Father’s plan in establishing a New Covenant

Jesus did everything necessary to make the gospel possible and the Holy Spirit does everything necessary to unite us to the gospel

As the disciples in John 16 were to anticipate the Holy Spirit’s coming, we are to expect the Holy Spirit’s work

The Holy Spirit has come and he does abide in every believer

He is being faithful to fulfill all the wondrous purposes of the gospel in us

 

Jesus presents the work of the Holy Spirit in the world (vs 8-11)

Jesus starts here, because this is the Holy Spirit’s necessary starting place with us

The world needs the Holy Spirit’s “conviction” because people don’t see clearly (Revelation 3:16-17)

Even as believers, our motivations and justifications are not as pure as we think

The Holy Spirit brings conviction in three areas  

1. We need conviction about “sin” (v9)

     Sin is always deceptive, evil and foolish. Sin is an act of rejecting God

     If we are not taking sin seriously, we are not taking Jesus who died for sin   seriously

2. We need conviction about “righteousness” (v10)

     A proof of this is that we are not more drawn to holiness, which is God’s own character

     Our goodness is defiled, so only Jesus can make us righteous before God

3. We need conviction about “judgment” (v11)

     People who don’t believe in God’s rule, are not concerned about coming judgment

     How we live should take into account that only what submits to Christ will survive judgment (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

     If you want to see clearly, invite the Holy Spirit to speak by his voice, his word and his people

 

Jesus presents the work of the Holy Spirit in believers (vs 12-15)

1. The Holy Spirit guides us in the truth

We cannot trust other sources to be fully true    

The Holy Spirit always speaks in harmony with Scripture (v13b)

     The Holy Spirit inspired Scripture that is what he will bring to us

     The Holy Spirit never tells you that your sin is ok

The Spirit-filled believer lives in harmony with God’s Word, which means they are engaged with the Bible to test their lives against to it

2. The Holy Spirit draws our attention to kingdom fulfillment

“He declares to us the things that are to come” (v13)

What is “to come” drives our motivations: We look to better job, a bigger house, a fulfilling relationship and a higher reputation

What is “to come” drives our fears: We become anxious over what our kids will do, our doctor will say, or how the economy will turn

The Spirit-filled believer looks to the fulfillment of Jesus’ kingdom, for we know all that is ‘to come’ is ruled by Christ

     Our desires become shaped by wanting to honor and be used for Jesus kingdom

     Our fears are eased by knowing all things are in Jesus’ hands

3. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (v14)

The whole of God’s plan for this world and for humanity centers on Jesus

Jesus is the answer for the world’s groaning and he is the fulfillment of humanity’s hope

The Holy Spirit will not emphasize anything above Jesus

The Spirit-filled believer spends a lot of time and attention on Christ

     Trusts him  

     Exalts him  

     Obeys him  

     Serves him

     Rests in him

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 8.08.16

Jesus’ friends love  

    

John 15:12-17

In Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, he now returns to emphasize and dig into truths he has already told them. This repetition lets us know these are foundational truths for Christ followers

 

Once again, Jesus connects love and obedience

Love among believers is required (vs 12, 17)

Morality and church involvement are necessary – but love is our beacon to the world (John 13:35)

Love best reveals (1) God’s transforming power and (2) the gospel’s agenda

But what does love for one another look like?  1 Corinthians 13:7-8

     “Bears all things” – love shows grace and absorbs people’s shortcomings

     “Believes all things” – love does not draw negative conclusions and assign bad motives to others

     “Hopes all things” – love obligates us to think the best we can of others

     “Endures all things” – love’s agenda for people doesn’t change with how they treat us

Jesus’ redemptive work is our example for how to obey and love (v13)

In the cross we see Jesus’ greatest example of love – sacrifice – humility – commitment

Other believers can be examples, but Jesus is our standard

In chapter 1 Jesus is the ‘Word made flesh’

     Jesus is God’s ultimate expression of himself,

     Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s grand purpose

     Jesus is the manifestation of godliness

     ~ For all these reasons we are to be obsessed with knowing and imitating Jesus

An implied theme of this discourse is that Jesus’ followers will obey him (v14)

Christ has not just set a path before us, he has walked it

God knows our weakness, so don’t beat yourself up with failures, repent if needed and go forward (Psalm 103:13-14)

But God rejects an unwilling heart, so make sure you do repent of sin in every form (Revelation 3:14-16

 

Our obedience is not as slaves (vs 14-15)

Slaves are just given tasks, while God has opened his plans to us, so we can we share in them

1.  We don’t want to abuse the role of “friend” and so neglect having a servant’s heart

         We need to take the phrase ‘I no longer call you servants’ in context

         We are still to view ourselves as servants, for that is how Jesus viewed himself on earth

2.  We don’t want to minimize our relationship with God as “friend”, and fail to embrace it

Being Jesus’ friend is clearly a relational title, but it’s much more; we have been invited into the work that is dearest to his heart

We gain insight by looking at Abraham and Moses, who are the only people previously called “friends” of God

     Both of them experienced unusual interaction with God

     Both of them were given unusual access to God

These two themes are imbedded is what Jesus communicates in v15

We are servants, because we serve Jesus’ kingdom, instead of our own

But we are also beloved friends and heirs of that kingdom

 

Jesus takes our participation further (v16)

We are “chosen” and “appointed” to fruitfully participate in gospel work

1.  This is meant to encourage us, because Christ has initiated our calling (knowing all our junk)

We tend to fall into the false mindset that we initiate plans and then convince God to help

2.  This is meant to make us serious, because we have been given responsibilities

We need to ask ourselves, what we think life is for!

     Is it to build a happy life and if we are open to it, God can have some space

    Or, that life is from and for God!  True joy comes through fulfilling his roles for us

Jesus continues the theme of our being fruitful that he began vs 1-11

God wants you to be fruitful!  Our weaknesses have no impact on this intention

A fruitful life is his purpose, any voice that says otherwise is lying

This doesn’t rest on our smarts or strength. Remember the “Helper” was sent to dwell in us

Our role in the process is to love God – obey him – abide in him – love one another

For the fourth time in the Farewell Discourse, in v16 Jesus tells them to “ask in my name”

“Friends” of God, let’s take him at his word

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.25.16

             “Peace is found in Jesus”                     

John 14:25-31

People look for peace in the absence of conflict, intrusion, people and problems. They miss the fact that peace is found in the presence of Christ

 

Jesus gives more instruction about the Holy Spirit (vs 25-26)

The word for ‘Helper’ means “one who comes along side”

One of the ways he ‘comes alongside’ us is by “teaching” us  

He will teach them what Jesus has already ‘spoken’ to them

Jesus’ disciples had heard Jesus for years, yet their understanding remained shallow

We need to understand more than words and concepts, the realities of Christ must capture our hearts

We need to see them as true for us and compelling to us

The Holy Spirit brings truths to our “remembrance”

This is how biblical truths touch the practices of our life

Jesus is giving assurance to his followers concerning how we will make our way in life

 

Jesus’ leaving is hard, but it is also victorious (vs 28-29)

Jesus was sovereign over all the circumstances of his leaving

He has been telling his disciples for months about the details of his death

His crucifixion was not a surprise, everything was according to God’s plan

Jesus would leave in complete victory

Jesus entered death to conquer death, by breaking the power of sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

When Jesus paid the price for our sin, death lost its hold on us  

The result would be Jesus returning to the Father having fully completed his plan to save a people for himself

It seems like a loss to have Jesus leave, but he leaves to reign

Jesus would leave death exalted over the powers of this world

The ‘ruler of this world was coming’ (v30), Satan was involved in the events leading to Jesus’ death

But Satan’s efforts would not override God’s plan, his efforts were contained in it

Jesus would enter death, the territory of Satan, but it would have “no hold” on him

As followers of Jesus, v28 we should rejoice because his victory is our victory

Jesus tells them in v29 not to misinterpret events of his death; the same is true about interpreting the circumstances in our life

 

Jesus leaving this world doesn’t rob us of peace (v27)

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with his victory

We think we cannot have peace when life goes wrong or is out of our control

Even though wrong can be done to us, in Christ our future cannot go wrong

As citizens in Christ’s kingdom it is impossible for the events of our life to be out of control

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with the Holy Spirit

God is not watching how we are making it as Christians, he is involved in all of it

And we can be assured that the Holy Spirit’s work in us will be completely done 

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with himself

Jesus did not leave his humanity, he remains fully man, with understanding and empathy for us

Jesus did not leave this world; his Divine nature continues to operate the universe

Jesus was sovereign over the events his arrest, over the moment of his death . . and over your troubles

Jesus will not leave our lives! He will never ignore or fail those he died to save, and reigns to keep

We have surpassing peace in Jesus, so let’s live in it

The Hebrew use of the word peace meant blessing through a right relationship with God

Jesus’ first words to his disciples after his resurrection would be “Peace be with you”

Jesus who is the “Prince of Peace” came to establish a “covenant of peace” (Ezekiel 37:26-27)

Peace is here . . it’s ours . . we cannot lose it . . we can only lose sight of it

How or where are you looking for peace?

When I have financial security

When my problems finally are solved

When I find the right relationship or fix the people in my life  

These are all about our control and they ignore the reality that we live in a broken world

True peace is only in Christ: what he calls in v27 “my” peace

Only Christ fully removes all disturbances of peace

Only Christ reigns to guarantee that his peace will last

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.11.16

‘The Father Revealed in the Son’

John 14:8-14

by Eric Huber

In John 14:9 Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”  The God of Bible is a self-revealing God.  He created us to know Him. 

However, He is not like us; He is not of this created reality, so God is beyond our comprehension.  If we are going to have a relationship with Him, then God must condescend to reveal Himself to us.

God reveals Himself in the Creation (Ps19:1 & Rom 1:18-25).  He makes Himself known in the things that are created. 

But that self-revelation of Creation only leaves us without an excuse.  It cannot save us.  It only condemns us as sinners who have rejected God. 

We need something more.

We need God revealing Himself is His Word, the Bible.  The Bible is not men’s thoughts about God, but God’s Word to and for us.  

In the Bible, God reveals Himself as both the just and justifier of sinners. He shows how we can be reconciled to God through Christ.

God reveals Himself in Creation and the Bible, but at the center of the self- revealing God is the Father revealing Himself in the Son. 

If we are going to know the heart of the Father, we look to the Son who reveals to us the person and nature of God.  He shows us God’s justice and mercy, His hatred for sin and His steadfast love for His people.

As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus reveals to us what God is like.  And in His incarnation, Jesus shows us how we are to live in obedience to the Father. 

Jesus came to be us – to live our life and die in our place.  And as we are united to Him, His Spirit is poured out upon us, so that we can live the way that He lived – obeying the Father in everything.

As we live walk in the Spirit, obeying God, the Father is glorified in the Son as the Son lives in and thru us.

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

A MEAL WITH JESUS

Every once in a while I hear or read an observation I had never noticed in the Bible that is so obvious; I wonder “How did I miss that?”

“A Meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester did this to me.

According to Tim, “Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance”.

Well, that part I already knew and give it my hearty amen!

But what I had not noticed was his observation of how frequently the gospels portray Jesus in the midst of a meal. Immediately I realized, “Wow that’s right!”

Tim adds that even when the gospels don’t portray Jesus at a meal, he is speaking about food and meals. In fact the Bible actually describes Jesus by saying, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking” (Luke 7:24).

The book focuses on the gospel of Luke in which meals and Jesus are given a prominent role.

Since we all understand the dynamics of meals, Tim Chester’s book is approachable, interesting and beneficial to any reader who wants to apply biblical truth to their lives.

With meals being so prominent in the Bible and in our human experience, “A Meal with Jesus” is an intriguing read.

As Tim Chester points out, “We need a theology of leftovers”.