Upper Room

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.26.16

Hope always comes down to Jesus

 

John 16:25-33

 

The disciples finally think they understand Jesus’ Farewell Discourse

Jesus had been talking about his leaving, which left them perplexed

But in v28 when Jesus talks about the Father sending him into world, they think “Now we get it”!

“We know” and “We believe” that you came from God

 

Jesus questions the strength of their belief

He asks the rhetorical question: “Do you now believe”

Context of entire passage “Do you fully believe I am of God?”

Your actions will show a deficiency, when you scatter in fear and abandon me alone

Notice the connection between Jesus’ plain speaking and their scattering

They will both take place in the ‘hour’ that is ‘coming’

Jesus uses this expression, “the hour is coming” several times in John

It is always in connection with the events and aftermath of the cross

The events of Jesus’ death would bring about his plain speaking (vs 25)

The events of Jesus’ death would see the disciples abandon him

Why is this connection made concerning what happens at that “hour”?

Scripture is making a point of enormous importance!

What takes place in “the coming hour” falls on Jesus alone

The weight of all the events of the cross, and so the gospel, are carried fully by Jesus

The gospel was not strengthened or helped by the efforts of the disciples or any other earthly power

The entirety of the gospel’s work and our hope is in Jesus “alone”!

 

Jesus didn’t end the Farewell Discourse with v32

1.  Jesus’ being abandoned and alone was not the whole story (v32b-33)

Jesus would not be abandoned by the Father

God continued to be and always is, the main character in all our circumstances

What Jesus says in v32 is as fully true for us as it was for him!

Jesus would not be overcome by the world

Everything that defeats us, Jesus fully conquered – this includes sin, death, the world and Satan

Every good thing we desire, he made possible – this includes peace, hope, life, joy

 Everything Jesus accomplished is shared by everyone who is “in Christ”

2.  The Disciples’ misunderstanding and failure was not whole story about them

They did know who Jesus is

They did believe – their actions didn’t always show it, but their hearts were his

They did overcome the world – their salvation arose and came out of the tomb with Jesus

They did become men of faithfulness and fruitfulness

 

How do we apply the Farewell Discourse?

1.  Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”; he is our only hope: If you believe it, then live that way!

Take your highest hope and replace it with Christ. If you only have him, is that enough?

What are activities you treat as “must be done” or goals that “you must fulfill”? Make them about Jesus

 2.  Jesus has overcome the world: If you believe it, then live that way!

Answer temptation with accusation! Declare its lies, emptiness and ugliness

Stop being discouraged by weakness, Christ is our strength

Stop trying to be the great fixer, that’s what Jesus does

We are wealthy in grace, so exchange our whining for thankfulness and kingdom action

3.  We are not aloneIf you believe it, then live that way!

Don’t just call for help during difficulty, talk with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are always here!

Develop the habit of calling on the Holy Spirit throughout the day

Engage in biblical community, so you are regularly encouraged toward God

4.  We will have tribulation, but still can have peaceIf you believe it, then live that way!

Preach the gospel truths about our future in Christ to yourself every day; and then give praise for those truths

Actively give your concerns into Jesus hands, treat them as primarily his concerns

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 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 6.27.16

“We fail, but Jesus doesn’t”

 

John 13:31-38

We tend to swing back and forth from thinking we are strong, to being overwhelmed by our weaknesses. The true and more helpful perspective is to recognize, we at times fail, but Christ doesn’t

 

Jesus Declares the Glory of His Work

The “glory” he describes is the finished work of the cross

v31  The FATHER is glorified in Jesus’ death and resurrection

They manifest his perfections in holiness, justice and grace

They reveal his astounding plan and the fulfillment of his promises

v32  The Father glories the SON in himself

Jesus shows the heights of his humility, love and sacrifice

We see his wondrous victory over sin death Satan

Jesus describes this glory as now (v31) and at once (v32)

The unveiling of God’s eternal plan has begun and the events are moving quickly

The cross not only glorifies the Father and Jesus, it glorifies US (John 17:22-23)

Through the cross we are made new and will be complete (Romans 8:30)

(1)  Every believer is the subject of the most glorious works of God

(2)  Every believer is in the process of being made in the glorious image of Jesus

(3)  Every believer is called to be part of how God’s glory touches others  

We don’t have to do big things, we simply live out and share glorious truths

These glorious truths should show us that we spend too much time thinking on the wrong things

Jesus describes the events of the cross as if they were finished – because they were that sure

So we can look at what the gospel accomplishes in us as that sure

We are believers, so we should face uncertainty and burdens with what we know

 

Jesus is Doing a Great Work, But His Leaving Will Be Hard (v33)

Jesus leaves them with “new commandment” (vs 34-35)

He shares what should be at the center of their fellowship when gone

They have already been given the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor, how is this commandment to love “new”?

What makes it revolutionary is to love one another “just as” Christ has loved us!

The defining display of Jesus’ love is about to take place

The new commandment is to love according to the glory of the cross

Jesus has just said he will not be with them, but how he loved them should remain

Jesus tells us this is what should identify a community of his people (v35)

Correct theology is necessary to know the gospel and become Christian

But without love for one another, people cannot see Christ in us

Let’s be sure we see clearly how Jesus loves us

1. Jesus loved with humility (Philippians 2:3-4)   Love is not about our expectations

2. Jesus loved sacrificially (Romans 5:8)

3. Jesus loved consistently through people’s weaknesses and failures (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Since we always have this love in us, we can consistently live it out. To say we “cannot” love someone is biblically false

 

Peter is Still Thinking About Jesus’ Leaving (v36)

Peter has no idea where Jesus is going, but he expresses confidence he can handle it

But Peter is Not As Strong As He Thinks (vs 37-38)

In a few hours he will deny knowing Jesus!  Our weaknesses strike fast

We are like Peter in at least Three Ways

1.  We think we are stronger than we are:

      We think we know what to do and how to handle our lives and problems

2.  We want to debate what Jesus says

Peter does the same thing in v8 during when Jesus tried to wash his feet

We need to ask ourselves – is anything our Lord says ever debatable?

3.  We miss Jesus’ focus: Peter misses that Jesus had just given an essential principle

      Like Peter we get stuck in thinking how we are going to handle a situation,rather than consider Jesus agenda for that moment

We may have an abundance of weaknesses, but Jesus doesn’t: so listen to what he says and follow what he tells us to do

 

 

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