As a Praying Parent Keep Your Spiritual Guard Up (Eph. 6:10-20)

As A Praying Parent Keep Your Guard Up with Spiritual Armor(Ephesians 6:10-20)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes, for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 12, 2018

[note: some of the illustrations make be summarized or not used.]

According to pastor and author John Ortberg, a fictitious manual for Peace Corp volunteers headed for South America offers advice on how to handle a chance encounter with an anaconda (a large type of boa constrictor). This is the list of instructions under the heading “What to Do If Attacked by an Anaconda”:

  • If you’re attacked by an anaconda, do not run; the snake is faster than you are.
  • Lie flat on the ground.
  • Put your arms tight at your sides and your legs tight against one another.
  • The snake will begin to climb over your body.
  • Do not panic.
  • The snake will begin to swallow you from the feet end. 
  • Step 6 will take a long time.
  • After awhile, slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife, and very gently slide it into the snake’s mouth. Then suddenly sever the snake’s head.
  • Be sure your knife is sharp.
  • Be sure you have your knife.

John Ortberg quotes these humorous instructions and then makes a serious point: “You never really know what curves life will throw at you, what’s lurking around the corner … But when you are called, and you will be called, you need to know what to do. If you wait until a crisis hits, because it will hit, you have waited too long. You need to be prepared first.”[1]

In today’s sermon I want to talk about keeping your guard up. The battles we face are spiritual. This is true for all of us, but if we are family people it is especially true. What do I mean by family people? I am glad you asked. I mean some of us are not biological parents, but we are paternal or maternal influences on people all the same. Some of us are grandparents or aunts or uncles. We have an influence.

The devil wants to divide families

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

My theme today is:

As A Praying Parent Keep Your Guard Up with Spiritual Armor(Ephesians 6:10-20). Pray that you and your family will recognize Ephesians 6:10-12 and put on your spiritual armor.

Read with me: Ephesians 6:10-17:

Ephesians 6:10-20:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and havingput on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

  1. The greatest parental concern is NOT physical.
    1. Sometimes we miss the spiritual like we miss other things.
    2. We think we are safe when we cannot see certain dangers. One writes:When we lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, we would go to the beach. It was always hard to relax and have a good time with our children, though, because there were too many threats: jellyfish, stingrays, sharks, undertow.  One time we had some relatives that came to St. Petersburg and brought their boat with them. We decided to go out to an island a couple of miles offshore called Egmont Key. We had a great time because we didn’t think we had to worry about the normal threats. The water was blue, the sand was white. We swam with our children carefree in the Gulf of Mexico.  A few days later we were telling some friends about our wonderful day. Being more familiar with the area, they informed us we had been swimming in one of the most shark-infested areas around! We were in danger, but completely oblivious to it.[2] 
    3. However, there are real spiritual dangers, but let’s be ready. Many times we are fighting the wrong battles. Many times we fight the wrong battles. Many times all we care about is the physical.
    4. We will come back to that.
    5. First, often times we imagine the Apostle Paul writing this passage in prison looking at a Roman soldier’s armor and writing this passage. It is true that Paul was in some kind of persecution when he wrote this, but the imagery in this passage is in the whole Bible. Let’s look at some passages:
    6. Isaiah 11:5: Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
      And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
    7. Isaiah 59:15-17:
      And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.
      Now the Lord saw,
      And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
      16 And He saw that there was no man,
      And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
      Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
      And His righteousness upheld Him.
      17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
      And a helmet of salvation on His head;
      And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing
      And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.

      1. This is about the Lord’s arm bringing salvation.
      2. The Lord’s righteousness is in this passage.
  • He put on righteousness like a breast plate.
  1. He put on the garments.
  1. Isaiah 61:10:

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Psalm 28:7:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.

  1. These passages are not New Testament only passages. They are throughout the Bible.
  2. We must have God’s armor, and this also means we must recognize the real battle.
  3. As parents we think what is needed is the best education, sports and athletics, college and teaching our children other responsibilities. These are not bad things. As parents we often think what is needed is that our kids have good days but remember we do not only learn from good days, we need bad days. As parents we think what is needed is that our children have a good-esteem. As parents we want so many good things for our family, but when we miss the spiritual we miss the most important.
  4. The devil wants to take down our families and he will do it but making us think he does not exist.
  5. I have read stories about real spiritual warfare in the United States and other countries. These are especially true in other countries. I wonder if the devil has a different strategy in America. In America he wants us to think he does not exist. In America he wants us to focus on the wrong things.
  6. I remember talking with Meagan’s step dad about dating Meagan. We were all nervous. I love the idea of intimidating men at some point who want to date my daughters, but by that time it is really too late. If my daughters wish to date men that I am concerned about I have waited too long.
  7. You see, that goes back to making the battle physical when it is spiritual.
  8. We think the answer with teenagers and dating is birth control, safe sex, intimidating the boys, setting up standards. Certainly, setting up standards is a good thing, but isn’t it better to raise your daughters with a Biblical worldview so they agree with the standards we set?
  9. Jen Wilkin shares:

I have two teen-aged daughters, so it was with some interest that I read a recent post entitled “Application to Date My Daughter.” It was pretty funny, playing on the idea of the stereotypical shotgun-toting father and the mortified daughter as they negotiate the tricky terrain of a first date.  Then Christian bloggers grabbed the concept, and for the most part, these versions were funny, too. There were some common themes: slouchy-panted unemployed suitors, dads breathing out Chuck Norris-inspired threats. I didn’t lose my well-developed sense of humor until I made the tactical error of glancing at some of the comments. And then I was just flat-out sad.

Here is the comment that made me the saddest, posted by a well-meaning young Christian father:

“Bro, this is awesome. My daughter’s only 2, but I am printing this for my fridge. Thanks for your godly example.”

Oh dear.

Okay, joke’s over. Bro. Let’s talk strategy for a second. Is that all you’ve got? You need a better plan than these low-level intimidation techniques. After all, she’s your DAUGHTER, for Pete’s sake. So let’s talk frankly about what you need to do to guard her interests when it comes to dating. Instead of brandishing a shotgun or breaking out an application, you need to build a wall.

That’s right, you heard me – build a wall. Go all “Rapunzel.” Build it so high that only the strongest of suitors can scale it. But don’t wait until your baby girl is a teenager, Bro  – start now. Start yesterday. There’s no time to waste.

Build a wall

In Song of Solomon 8:8-9 we hear a family’s hope that their young sister will grow into a woman of strength and dignity. Can you guess what metaphor they use to describe that kind of woman? A wall. Their sister assures them in verse 10 that she is indeed a wall, complete with towers. Her statement indicates an assurance that she is not only strong, but able to defend herself against any unworthy suitors. That’s what you want, Bro – you want a wall.

Here’s the problem with shotgun jokes and applications posted on the fridge: to anyone paying attention, they announce that you fully expect your daughter to have poor judgment. Be assured that your daughter is paying attention.  And don’t be shocked if she meets your expectation. You might want to worry less about terrorizing or retro-fitting prospective suitors and worry more about preparing your daughter to choose wisely. And that means building a wall.

Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because, you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness. Those are the bricks that build the wall that withstands the advances of old Slouchy-Pants, whether you ever show up with your Winchester locked and loaded or not. The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.[3]

  1. I love that illustration and it is so true.
  2. We want our children to have good judgment. Listen, if we focus on the world, so will they. If our focus is on money and affluence and education and sports and career and all these things so will they. If these things trump the spiritual they will for them too. The battle is spiritual.
  3. Allow me to take a few minutes and give some background to this spiritual battle.
  4. In Revelation 12:3 the writer gives indication that at some point there was a cosmic struggle and satan, who was then an angel, rebelled and fell from Heaven with 1/3rd of the angels. Revelation is written looking backward in this case. We don’t know exactly when satan led this revolt, but Scripture makes it clear that he did lead the revolt. We know that satan rebelled sometime between Genesis 1 and Genesis 3. The 1/3rdof the demons could have followed him all at once or over time that by the end of time 1/3rdof the angels had rebelled and become demons. Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezek chapter 28 both give more indication about satan’s fall from Heaven. He was an anointed angel, but he had some pride and tried to take what was God’s.
  5. So, satan fell from Heaven.
  6. But just because satan fell from heaven and took 1/3rdof the angels don’t get the idea that satan is simply an opposing force to God. Satan is no equal. In Luke 10:18 the disciples had been sent out to heal people, cast out demons, etc and when they came back they said, “Lord, the demons obey you!” To this Jesus responded, “I saw satan fall from Heaven like lightning.” God sent the devil down to earth as fast as lightning hits the ground. So, the Lord Jesus is clearly ruler and satan is no equal, yet there is a battle.
  7. In 1 Chronicles chapter 21 the text says that satan rose up and incited David to do something that was sinful. Satan incited David to take a census. This census was sinful because it made David have faith in his army instead of faith in God. Satan wants us to do things that make us doubt the power of the Lord.

One writes about his son:

One summer Aaron went to a youth camp. He was just a little guy, and I was kind of glad because it was a church camp. I figured he wasn’t going to hear all those ghost stories, because ghost stories can really cause a kid to have nightmares. But unfortunately, since it was a Christian camp and they didn’t tell ghost stories, because we don’t believe in ghosts, they told demon and Satan stories instead. And so when Aaron got home, he was terrified.

“Dad, don’t turn off the light!” he said before going to bed. “No, Daddy, could you stay here with me? Daddy, I’m afraid. They told all these stories about demons.” 

And I wanted to say, “They’re not real.” 

He goes, “Daddy, Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?” I could feel it. I could feel warm-blanket Christianity beginning to wrap around him, a life of safety, safety, safety.

I said, “Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.” 

And he goes, “All right. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.” 

Have you come to that place in your own life where you stop asking God to give you a safe life, and make you a dangerous follower of Jesus Christ?[4]

  1. Put on the spiritual armor.
    1. So, we must pray that we and our descendants take seriously the spiritual war. We can summarize Ephesians 6:10-12 in our prayer life, then we must put on the spiritual armor.
      1. The belt of truth: truth is Scripture
      2. The breastplate of righteousness
  • Shield of faith
  1. Helmet of salvation
  2. And the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God: this is the only offensive weapon.
  3. Pray
  4. The Battle of Antietam in 1862 lasted for 12 hours and ranks as the bloodiest day of the Civil War, with 10,000 Confederate casualties and even more on the Union side. “At last the sun went down and the battle ended,” wrote one historian, “smoke heavy in the air, the twilight quivering with the anguished cries of thousands of wounded men.”  Though militarily a draw, the mediocre Union General George McClellan was able to end the brilliant Robert E. Lee’s thrust into Maryland, forcing him to retire across the Potomoc. How was this possible? Two Union soldiers had found a copy of Lee’s battle plans and had delivered them to McClellan before the engagement. In some respects, we are no match for our adversary, Satan, whose wiles we are told to be wary of. But as with General McClellan, our enemy’s plans have fallen into our hands. We know his usual strategies—to entice us with lies, lust, greed, and the like. With such knowledge, given us by God’s Word, and God’s Spirit within, we too can resist the enemy’s advances.[5]
  5. On December 8th, 2004, a single question from a young soldier touched off a media firestorm. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had come to deliver a pep talk to the troops at Camp Buehring in Kuwait. But the usually unflappable Secretary found himself blindsided by a bold query. As news cameras rolled, Army Specialist Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team asked Rumsfeld, “Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?”  Specialist Wilson clearly felt vulnerable, as if he were being sent into battle without proper protection. As Christians, however, we shouldn’t have that fear. Our Supreme Commander generously equips with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. But it’s up to us to put them on and put them to use.[6]

Close:

The Hibernia oil platform in the North Atlantic is 189 miles (315 kilometers) east-southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. As a fixed structure, it sits in 88 yards (80 meters) of water fastened to the ocean floor. The total structure is 246 yards (224 meters) high from ocean floor to the top of the derricks.

Unlike the fated Ocean Ranger, a platform that sank in 1982 with all aboard (84 men) lost at sea, the Hibernia’s design incorporates a GBS (gravity based structure) which anchors it to the seabed. The structure does not move. It is an artificial island.

The Hibernia was built as a stationary platform because it sits right in the middle of what scientists call “iceberg alley”—the icebergs that ply these waters can be as large as ocean liners.

Sixteen concrete teeth surround the Hibernia. These teeth can distribute the force of an iceberg over the entire structure and into the seabed. The Hibernia is built to withstand a 1,000,000 ton iceberg (expected every 500 years), and designers claim it can actually withstand a 6,000,000 ton iceberg (expected once in 10,000 years) with repairable damage.

Even with all these protection measures, Hibernia’s designers take no chances. Radio operators plot and monitor all icebergs within 27 miles (45 kilometers). Any that come close are “lassoed” and towed away from the platform by powerful supply ships. Smaller ones are simply diverted using the ship’s high-pressure water cannons or with propeller wash. As rugged and as strong as this platform is, and as prepared as it is for icebergs to strike it, Hibernia will never allow an iceberg even to come close. Procedures are in place to ensure that all the safety devices never get used.

One thing seems obvious: The engineers of this oil platform are not guilty of the kind of false security that may have contributed to the sinking of the Titanic.

Christians need to take spiritual threats just as seriously.[7]

We must put up our guard.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

 

[1]John Ortberg, “The Daniel Project—Part 3,’ (November 15, 2009); submitted by Kevin Miller, Wheaton, Illinois

[2]Barry Merritt, Toledo, Ohio

https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=Ephesians+6:10-12&searcharea=illustrations&type=scripture

[3]https://www.epm.org/blog/2014/Jul/14/raising-daughters

[4]Erwin McManus, “Seizing Your Divine Moment,” Preaching Today, Issue 252

[5]Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today; source: Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy, The American Pageant, ninth ed

[6]“Troops Put Thorny Questions to Rumsfeld,” CNN.com (12-9-04); submitted by Jim Bennett, Little York, Illinois

[7]Todd Dugard, St. Thomas, Ontario; references Robert Kiener, “Marvel of the North Atlantic,” Reader’s Digest (December 1998)

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Jesus reconciles us (Col. 1:15-20)

Pray We And Our Children Value Proper Theology and Soteriology(Colossians 1:20)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 5, 2018

Praying Scripture Series

In July 2009, Parade magazine ran an article entitled, “The Race for the Secret of the Universe.” It focused on Fermilab, a four-mile-round particle accelerator that resides west of Chicago. The scientists gathered there are searching for the ever-elusive Higgs boson, also known as “the God particle.”

The article explains more: “Physicists believe that this special subatomic particle allows all of the other particles in the universe to have mass and come together to form, well, basically everything that is around us. [According to one Fermilab theorist], without so-called God particles …. ‘atoms would have no integrity, so there would be no chemical bonding, no stable structures—no liquids or solids—and, of course, no physicists and no reporters.'”

While it’s certainly possible that God built such a tiny particle into the deepest part of his creation, it isn’t the God particle. The God particle that holds all things together—actually, the God person—is Jesus Christ. Consider what Paul writes in Ephesians 1:10: “[Christ] bring[s] unity to all things in heaven and on earth.” Consider also Colossians 1:16: “for in [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”[1]

Today, I want to talk about our soteriology. Soteriology is the study of salvation.

I have been convicted to pray a number of Bible passages and the number keeps growing. I have been convicted to pray that my children and descendants recognize proper Theology and Soteriology. This means that they understand we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10) and that Jesus holds all of creation together. I have been convicted to pray that my descendants understand Ephesians 2:8-10 and Colossians 1:15-20. I encourage you to pray these passages.

My theme is:

Pray We And Our Children Value Proper Theology and Soteriology(Colossians 1:20)

Let’s read Colossians 1:15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  1. Theology matters, Christology matters.
    1. We must know God. We must study God.
    2. You know that I preached a sermon series on the Study of God.
    3. In this passage in Colossians Paul is combatting erroneous Theology.
    4. But Theology matters.
    5. Tozer writes:

Now, the Bible has a great deal to say about the manner in which sinful man may come into the fellowship and the presence of God, and it all has to do with forgiveness and grace and regeneration and justification in Jesus Christ! It all boils down to the teaching that Jesus Christ is everything that the Godhead is! The image of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person—all of these we find in and through Jesus Christ!

We believe with rejoicing that Jesus Christ was the begotten of the Father, before all ages, that He is God of God, Light of light, very God of very God, begotten and not made, of one substance with the Father, and it is by Him that all things were made!…

He was and is and can never cease to be God, and when we find Him and know Him, we are back at the ancient fount again! Christ is all that the Godhead is! ITB020–021[2]

  1. I desire that my descendants recognize and submit to proper Theology.
  2. This whole passage is about the supremacy of Christ and I have preached on it before so I will not today.
  3. Let’s jump ahead to verse 20, I want to focus on that verse for the rest of this sermon.
  1. Jesus reconciles the world.

20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  1. That word reconcile is a very important word. It means “to reconcile, to set up a relationship of peace not existing before, in that apokatallássōis the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed.”[3]
  2. I like what MacArthur shares:
  3. Now the term, the familiar term in the Bible is katallasso, and I only mention that because I want to make a distinction in a minute. And Katallasso means “to reconcile”, among other possibilities. It can mean to change, or to exchange. It has been used in terms of exchanging coins. But basically, in the sense that we will use it in its figurative sense, it means to “reconcile”. Now that particular term is used in the New Testament only twice in the reference between God and man; that is, reconciling God to man, that term is only used two times. It occurs in 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 and verse 19. It is used in that sense there, and it occurs in Romans Chapter 5 and verse 10. And in both of those passages the general basic word reconcile is used when a man is reconciled to God, or when God and man end their battle and declare themselves partners again as they once were before the fall. But there is another term for reconcile that is used here in Colossians, Chapter 1. It is not katallasso that is used, it is apokatallassoand again I point out to you that whenever a preposition is added to the front of a word it intensifies the word, and so what you have here is the word reconciled intensified, so that it means thoroughly recon­ciled, completely reconciled, totally reconciled. And that is the termin­ology that is used here in Colossians; the word is different than the normal word reconcile. It has a greater intensity. And there is a reason for that, and I need to point that out to you.[4]
  4. Wow! What a great application. We are completely reconciled in Christ, but only through Christ.
  5. Paul had been combatting false teachers in Colossians. A Theologian named Lighfoot gives us more information: The false teachers aimed at effecting a partial reconciliation between God and man through the interposition of angelic mediators. The Apostle speaks of an absolute and complete reconciliation of universal nature to God, effected through the mediation of the Incarnate Word. Their mediators were ineffective, because they were neither human nor divine. The true mediator must be both human and divine. It was necessary that in Him all the plenitude of the Godhead should dwell. It was necessary also that He should be born into the world and should suffer as a man.[5]
  6. Those are great words about correct Theology, which is the study of God, and correct, Christology, that is study of Christ, and correct, soteriology, that is study of salvation.
  7. Notice the passage says, to reconcile “all things…” all things are reconciled.
  8. This is referring to the whole world.
  9. The whole world has been marred by sin.
  10. As regards the human world, there is the possibility of a voluntary reconciliation; but for those who are not reconciled to Christ there is the sentence of death. We must trust in Christ. But the whole world is waiting on salvation.
  11. Romans 8:20: For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.
  12. Eric Sauer says in his book, The Triumph of the Crucified he says, “The offering on Golgotha, that’s the death of Christ, extends its influence into universal history. The salvation of mankind is only one part of the world embracing counsels of God. The heavenly things will also be cleansed through Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. A cleansing of the heavenly places is required if on no other ground than that they have been the dwelling of fallen spirits and because Satan their chief has for ages had access to the highest regions of the heavenly world….The other side becomes this side. Eternity transfigures time. The earth, the chief scene of reconciliation, is reconciled itself and becomes the palace of the universal Kingdom of God forever.”[6]
  13. Jesus reconciles us, only Jesus.
  • Applications
    1. Who or what are you trusting is for salvation?
    2. Do you recognize proper belief systems about God, Jesus and salvation?
    3. I once heard that Elvis Presley would wear a cross and a Star of David around his neck because he did not want to miss Heaven on a technicality.
    4. Though that sounds good, it does not work that way. We must be trusting in Jesus’ grace for our salvation.
    5. We must pray that we accept and understand Jesus is supreme.
    6. We must accept and understand these passages from the Bible.

In William Steig’s Yellow & Pink, a delightfully whimsical picture book for children, two wooden figures wake up to find themselves lying on an old newspaper in the hot sun. One figure is painted yellow, the other pink.

Suddenly, Yellow sits up and asks, “Do you know what we’re doing here?”

So begins a debate between the two marionettes over the origin of their existence.

Pink surveys their well-formed features and concludes, “Someone must have made us.”

Yellow disagrees. “I say we’re an accident,” and he outlines a hypothetical scenario of how it might have happened. A branch might have broken off a tree and fallen on a sharp rock, splitting one end of the branch into two legs. Then the wind might have sent it tumbling down a hill until it was chipped and shaped. Perhaps a flash of lightning struck in such a way as to splinter the wood into arms and fingers. Eyes might have been formed by woodpeckers boring in the wood.

“With enough time. A thousand, a million, maybe two and a half million years, lots of unusual things could happen,” says Yellow. “Why not us?”

The two figures argue back and forth.

In the end, the discussion is cut off by the appearance of a man coming out of a nearby house. He strolls over to the marionettes, picks them up, and checks their paint. “Nice and dry,” he comments, and tucking them under his arm, he heads back toward the house.

Peering out from under the man’s arm, Yellow whispers in Pink’s ear, “Who is this guy?”[7]

Let’s pray.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1]Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; source: Stephen Ford, “The Race for the Secret of the Universe,” Parademagazine (7-26-09), p.4

ITB I Talk Back to the Devil

[2]Tozer on the Almighty God : A 366-Day Devotional(Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2004).

[3]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4]https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/2136/reconciled-to-god

[5]Joseph Barber Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, 8th ed., Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: Macmillan and Co., 1886), 157.

[6]https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/2136/reconciled-to-god

[7]Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Tyndale House, 1999), p. 97; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

Pray we and our children Imitate God (Eph. 5:1)

Pray We and Our Children Imitate God (John 1:14; Gal. 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:1)

Praying Scripture Series

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, July 29, 2018

Charlie Chaplin was a huge movie star in the silent-picture era. One of the by-products of his popularity were the look-alike contests that sprung up around the country. Contestants attempted to imitate Chaplin dressed as the “tramp” character he made popular in his films. Even the young up-and-coming actor Bob Hope entered such a contest in Cleveland, Ohio, and won.

Legends have sprung up that Chaplin himself took part in one contest. Steve Chandler in his book 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself says Chaplin was on holiday in Monaco when he decided to enter a Chaplin look-alike contest. Others cite the incident as taking place in Switzerland. Although the event has been embellished through the years, it did occur. Chaplin entered a look-alike contest in a San Francisco theatre. Amazingly, Chaplin failed to even make the finals.

In a similar way, sometimes we do not recognize the truth about God when it is staring us in the face.[1]

On a similar note, we are told to imitate God. It has been my prayer for myself and my family that we imitate God as the Bible tells us to do in Ephesians 5:1.

My theme and application is: pray that we and our descendants imitate God.

  1. Imitate God, let’s talk about that.
    1. 5:1 says just that, it says: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children
    2. Last fall I preached on the broader section of that passage. Today, I just wish to talk about the main phrase “imitate God.”
    3. Notice we are to imitate God, not other people.
    4. Tozer shared: Christian literature, to be accepted and approved by evangelical leaders of our times, must follow very closely the same train of thought, a kind of “party line” from which it is scarcely safe to depart. A half-century of this in America has made us smug and content. We imitate each other with slavish devotion. Our most strenuous efforts are put forth to try to say the same thing that everyone around us is saying–and yet to find an excuse for saying it, some little safe variation on the approved theme or, if no more, at least a new illustration.[2]
    5. But we are not to imitate others, we are to imitate God.
    6. The question must be asked, “How”? How do we imitate God?
    7. A few months ago, I talked about that with respect to this broader passage and I said that a key to imitating God is being filled with the Holy Spirit from Eph. 5:18. I believe that and I believe that we can know if we are filled with the Spirit by the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. We will come back to that.
    8. So, let’s talk more about imitating God.
    9. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3), so imitating God must mean imitating Jesus.
    10. What does it look like to imitate Jesus?
  2. We must be full of grace and Truth.
    1. John 1:14: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    2. Jesus was and is fully Human and fully God and He came full of grace and full of truth.
    3. Grace is a free gift. We cannot earn our salvation. Jesus did everything for us, completely free.
    4. Randy Alcorn writes in “The Grace and Truth Paradox: “During a British conference on comparative religions, scholars debated what belief, if any was totally unique to the Christian faith. Incarnation? The gods of other religions appeared in human form. Resurrection? Other religions tell of those returning from the dead. The debate went on until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. The scholars posed the question to him.  ‘That’s easy,’ Lewis replied. ‘It’s grace.’ Our Babel-building pride insists that we must work our way to God. Only the Christian faith presents God’s grace as unconditional. People say: All religions are basically the same’? Imagine a geometry or French teacher who said to his students, ‘It doesn’t matter what answers you give on the test. All answers are basically the same.’ Hinduism’s gods are many and impersonal. Christianity’s God is one and personal. Buddhism offers no forgiveness or divine intervention. Christianity offers forgiveness and Divine intervention. In Judaism and Islam, men earn righteous status before God through doing good works. In Christianity, men gain righteousness only by confessing their unrighteousness and being covered by Christ’s merit. Every other religion is a man working his way to God. Christianity is God working His way to man.”
    5. So, that is grace in salvation. But I think this verse means more. Jesus came full of grace and truth.
    6. The grace that Jesus had was not just about a free gift of eternal life; though that would be enough.
    7. Grace is any good gift.
    8. Grace is forgiving someone who did something wrong to you.
    9. Grace is giving someone a second chance. Grace is giving someone a first chance.
    10. We must give people grace in our daily lives. One more story about grace before we move on about truth.

“Andre is a twenty something African-American who was recently hired for his first promising job. After making it through an impoverished and difficult inner-city upbringing, he enrolled in a mentoring program to help him find and retain a well-paying career. Now, if you purchased this in a bookstore, you may have no idea why a young man would need to learn how to find and retain employment. ‘Just get a job’ is the simplistic mantra of people who don’t understand guys and girls like Andre. But when you have never had parental involvement and have lived in four different foster homes growing up, you miss out on learning basic life skills that some of us take for granted. Many of Andre’s role models’ only income was from the social service check they got for being a foster parent. Andre was never encouraged to learn and never watched a man develop a skill. He had never seen a man get up early and come home at the end of the day for five days a week. He never experienced a strong work ethic leading to a better job with more money and better benefits. He rarely saw anyone graduate… ”[3]

Andre needed grace. He needed a mentor to help teach him life skills and guide him in finding a job. You know what, he also needed truth. What is Truth?

  1. Jesus came full of grace and truth. Truth is God’s Word.
  2. Truth is integrity. In Truth your actions and your words reflect what your inner being is.
  3. But there is also ultimate moral truth, and that is from the Bible.
  4. Randy Alcorn compares truth to gravity in his book “The Grace and Truth Paradox.” Whether we like it or not gravity is here. Whether we like it or not Truth is here too. Even if you don’t agree with truth, it is Truth.
  5. In John 17:17 Jesus is praying to the Father and says, “Sanctify them in Truth, Your Word is Truth.”
  6. I love the word of God.
  7. The Old Testament law is Truth. The Ten Commandments are Truth. Do not commit adultery, don’t lie. People need truth. The Bible teaches that if you don’t work, you don’t eat (2 Thess 3:8) and that is truth.

Alcorn tells a story that relates to truth:

“Flew across the country to not preach at a church that invited me to preach. After leaving my hotel I rode with a prominent Christian leader to the church. I knew this man had been accused by the media of misrepresenting certain key details on his resume, so I asked him about the charges. He admitted saying and writing some things that weren’t true—but it didn’t seem to bother him. I told him, calmly, that I thought he should repent and publicly ask for forgiveness for his dishonesty. He said nothing and we rode to the church in silence. A few minutes after we arrived, I was escorted to the office of the senior pastor, where we were scheduled to pray before I preached in the service. When I stepped in, the pastor slammed the door behind me. I was surprised to see his face turning scarlet, his veins bulging. He poked his finger at me. ‘No way will I let you preach from my pulpit!’ he thundered. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man I had just confronted. The pastor told me I had no right to question our brother’s integrity. The pastor was fully aware of the man’s reputation but thought it none of my business. We left the office the pastor still seething.”[4]

  1. Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Love must be our motivation, not making me look better, but love.
  2. 64% of Americans say, “I will lie when it suits me as long as it doesn’t cause any real damage.” 53% say, “I will cheat on my spouse—after all, given the chance, he or she will do the same.” Only 31% of Americans agree that “honesty is the best policy.” When asked what they would do for ten million dollars, 25 percent said they would abandon their family, 23 percent would become prostitutes for a week or more, and 7 percent would murder a stranger.[5]
  3. I believe imitating God means pursuing a life being full of grace and truth.
  4. This is not easy, but Jesus was and is full of grace and truth.
  5. I pray that myself and our descendants are full of grace and truth.
  • Check to see if you have the fruit of the Spirit.
    1. 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
    2. I have also been convicted to pray that myself and my descendants have the fruit of the Spirit.
    3. How are you doing with love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Goodness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self control?
    4. Are you showing more of the fruit of the Spirit now than 1 year ago? What about 10 years ago?

The Holy Spirit Works Like Alka-Seltzer

To be filled with the Holy Spirit means that we allow him to occupy and control every area of our lives…How much of you does the Holy Spirit have?

When teaching this to my seminary students, I bring two glasses of water and two packets of Alka-Seltzer to class. I drop a packet of Alka-Seltzer, with the wrapper on, into one glass. Then I plop an unsealed packet into the second glass, and watch it fill with fizz.

I say to my students, “Both glasses have the Alka-Seltzer, just as all Christians have the Holy Spirit. But notice how you can have the Holy Spirit and not his filling.” Our goal is to live in such a way as to unwrap the packaging around the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within us.[6]

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Andy Scarcliffe, Edinburgh, Scotland; source: http://www.snopes.com

[2] A. W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 11.

[3] Tome, Brian. Free Book, pages 130-131

[4] Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, pages 51-52.

[5] Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, page 53.

[6] Adapted from James Emery White, Long Night’s Journey into Day (WaterBrook, 2002)

Glorify God

Pray We and Our Children Glorify Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on July 22, 2018

Praying Scripture Series

Introduction:

A student once asked Albert Einstein, “Dr. Einstein, how many feet are there in a mile?” To the utter astonishment of the student, Einstein replied, “I don’t know.”

The student was sure the great professor was joking. Surely Einstein would know a simple fact that every schoolchild is required to memorize. But Einstein wasn’t joking. When the student pressed for an explanation for this hiatus in Einstein’s knowledge, he declared, “I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes.”

Albert Einstein was not interested in trivial data. His passion was to explore the deep things of the universe. His passion for mathematical and physical truth made him a pivotal fixture in modern world history.[1]

 What is our focus?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That comes from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. But I also believe the idea is Biblical.

Desiring God’s slogan is: God is most glorified in us
when we are most satisfied in him.

Is God glorified in us? Are we living for Him?

Jonathon Edwards had these resolutions throughout his life, one was:

Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: That whether others do or not, I will.[2]

Could we say that? Do we want to glorify God with our lives?

It is my prayer that we do. I pray that myself and my descendants glorify Christ with our lives. I am in a sermon series on Scriptures which I am convicted to pray. Today we talk about glorifying Christ.

My theme:

Pray We and Our Children Glorify Christ.

Let’s read 1 Cor. 10:31:

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

  • Glorify Christ.
  • We just read 1 Cor. 10:31. In context this passage is placed after a long discussion on dietary laws.
  • From 1 Cor. Chapter 8 through chapter 10 Paul was writing about disputes with believers eating meat sacrificed to idols.
  • Paul is now about to wrap up the passage.
  • In chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians verses 24-30 Paul is saying to do what you can for the good of all.
  • Then in verse 31 Paul is saying to glorify God.
  • Food is something that we hold quite precious, don’t we?
  • Someone wrote:
  • My husband has an almost boundless appetite for ice cream, and it was obvious at a Sunday school party where he helped himself to a good sample of every flavor available. Later during the game time, he was asked: “If you could choose any famous couple to be your parents, who would they be?” His answer came without hesitation: “Baskin and Robbins!”[3]
  • But 1 Cor. 10:31 is not limited to food. I think ever since I was required to memorize this passage, the passage has been near to my prayer life.
  • The passage says, whether you eat or drink, so this is not limited to food, nor is it limited to drink.
  • The passage says “whatever you do…” So this is not limited to food or drink.
  • What fits under “whatever”? Everything.
  • The verse says, “do all…”
  • What fits into “all.”
  • Do all to the glory of God.
  • I have a quote: The glory of God is man fully alive. —Irenaeus, early Church Father (died c. 200)
  • We glorify God by living as His creation. BUT is it our aim to glorify God?
  • I believe we were created to bring glory to God.
  • Why we glorify God, He is worthy
    1. Read with me Rev. 5: 9-14:

And they *sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Angels Exalt the Lamb

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

  • Now, in the first 4 verses of Revelation chapter 5 we see that no one is worthy to open the scroll.
  • Have you ever been in a situation when it seemed like there was no one, really no one who could help?
  • Think about it. We think, or at least I do, that there are always options. We have cell phones, we have access to all kinds of information.
  • I watched a movie based on a true story about people climbing Mount Everest when some amazing storms hit. Really, we know Mount Everest we really cannot get help to you.
  • We always can get help in most places, but in today’s world there are still places when there is no help.
  • But even when we think we have help everywhere is it the help we really need?
  • We need to fix creation. We need to get rid of sin. We need to get rid of murder, violence, stealing, unfaithfulness, poverty, gangs, government oppression.
  • We need help!
  • They needed help in John’s day as well. The government was persecuting Christians, they were dying torturous deaths. Fallen Babylon was reigning and fallen Babylon meant that it was the fallen system.
  • Now, we see these scrolls and we see in verse one that the scroll is written on both sides. Usually a scroll was only written on one side because it needed to be rolled up.
  • This scroll being written on both sides is saying that it is complete.
  • It has seven seals which is a number of completion.
  • John weeps (verse 4) because he thinks no one is worthy.
  • Again, he is overwhelmed seeing this vision of Heaven and then for a moment thinks that no one can help.
  • How would you feel?
  • Then in verse 5 it reads: and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
  • So, in verses 8-14 Jesus takes the scroll and He is worshipped.
  • Verses 8-14 are similar to chapter 4.
  • The four living creatures and the 24 elders are constantly bowing down.
  • They are singing a new song.
  • Verse 9 is about why Jesus is worthy:
    1. He was slain
    2. Purchased for God with His blood people from every nation to be a Kingdom and priests (Rev. 1:6).
  • There is the emphasis on the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice. There is the emphasis on Him making us worthy to be priests.
  1. So we get to verse 11 and there are myriads and myriads and thousands upon thousands of angels. A myriad is 10,000, so we have 10,000 times 10,000 times 1000 times 1000 angels with the 4 beasts and the 24 elders worshipping.
  2. This would be a loud worship service.
  3. We see what they say and then as they say it the elders are constantly falling down to worship.
  • Applications
    1. We are called to glorify Christ and why?
    2. He is worthy!
    3. God loves you and gave Jesus for you (John 3:16).
    4. The world was created for you and for us.
    5. He created you and everything else (Gen. 1-2; John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20).
    6. He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139).
    7. He saved you (Rom. 6:23).
    8. He has sanctified you (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11), this means you are set apart for Him.
    9. He has justified you, declaring you righteous (1 Cor. 6:11).
    10. He has made you a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
    11. He took on sin for you and gave you His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).
    12. He gives us the Holy Spirit (John 14-17).
    13. He takes the scroll for us in Rev. 5.
    14. He gives us a new Heaven and a new earth in Rev. 21-22.
    15. Glorify God, Glorify Christ, live for Him. Is there anything or anyone higher to live for than Jesus?

 

Early in his career, Matt Redman, the popular Christian musician in Britain, was singing with his church’s praise band when his pastor confronted them. They were proud of their musical performance, he said, but they were neglecting true worship. Insulted by the charge, the members of the band left the church—all, that is, except Redman. Shortly afterward, he wrote his hit song “The Heart of Worship,” which included these words: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, Jesus.”[4]

D.L. Moody shared:

I believe the religion of Christ covers the whole man. Why shouldn’t a man play baseball or lawn-tennis? … Don’t imagine that you have got to go into a cave to be consecrated, and stay there all your life. Whatever you take up, take it up with all your heart.[5]

Let’s pray.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] R. C. Sproul, Jr., In the Presence of God (Word, 1999)

[2] Jonathan Edwards, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1.

[3] Sherrie Murphree, Odessa, TX. Christian Reader, “Lite Fare.”

[4] Jack Hayford, Midday Connection (11-28-01), used with permission from the Moody Broadcasting Network; submitted by Steve Gertz,

[5] D.L. Moody, Christian History, no. 25.

exclusivity of salvation and inclusivity of Christianity

I read the following from John Ortberg:
John Ortberg Considers the Ongoing Battle with Racism
Psychologists have found an intriguing way to study what it is that we really like and dislike. It’s called “affective priming.” They print a word over a bouncing dot on a computer screen. If people’s response is positive, they push any key with their left hand; if negative—any key with their right.
Too discover our deeper responses, researchers will use subliminal stimulation. They’ll print a negative word (like “fear” or “storm”) subliminally, below your level of awareness. Your intuitive system is so fast it reads those words and responds to them before you are aware. So if they show a negative word subliminally, then a positive word slowly, it takes you longer to move toward a positive response.
Sometimes they will flash a subliminal picture instead of a word. When it is a picture of an African American, “Americans of all ages, classes, and political affiliations react with a flash of negativity.” Including people who report they have no prejudice at all.
Mark Noll has written a fascinating little book called The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. He notes that all the wrangling between North and South over the Bible and slavery overlooked one huge difference between slavery in ancient Mesopotamia and slavery in 19th-century America—the latter was race-based, race-soaked, racist. The deepest evil over slavery was not just the economics of it, it was the racism of it. Even northern Christians, who were opposed to slavery as an institution, were much slower to oppose racism.
Noll also notes that, over the long haul, Christian theology always tends to have a radicalizing effect on society because of one belief: that all human beings come from the same ancestor, that all human beings bear the image of God.
I thought about these stories, and many others, when I watched the nation respond to the presidential election results. I wondered what my grandfather would have thought about a man, who could not have spent the night in his town, now governing his country. I imagined the response of the retired Louisiana colonel. Quite apart from party preference or position on any number of political issues, I cannot imagine living through that moment without hoping that there might be healing for wounds that go deep and raw.
I thought about how Paul said there was a time when the dividing wall of hostility that separated the “us” group from the “them” group came down. I thought about the Azusa Street Revival and how, for a few years, black people and white people defied all polite society and worshiped together, and then when the fervor cooled and things got respectable, they stopped and mirrored the rest of society.
I thought of how when God sits in front of his computer—whatever face gets flashed on a screen—the only button he pushes is marked love. Love. Love.
I wonder about the church…

I have been in a sermon series on Scriptures I have been convicted to pray for my descendants. Today we come to two passages. One is Galatians 3:28 which reads:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The other passage is Revelation 7:9-12 and that is where we will spend the bulk of our time today. What we see from these two passages is that Heaven is multicultural. If you have a problem with another cultural group, you will not like Heaven.

Today, I want us to turn to Revelation 7:9-12 and let’s look at a passage giving us a picture of worship in Heaven.

My theme is:
Worship in Heaven will be multicultural.

Turn with me to Rev. 7:9-12:

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches werein their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
I. Worship God in humility and unity as we see in this picture of Heaven, we may be there. I notice this from verses 9-12.
a. I read the following:
b. Interestingly, of all the songs in the Book of Revelation, not one is a solo. The twenty-four elders sing and cast their crowns before His feet, the united voices of countless angels resound, every living creature in heaven and earth and under the earth and all that is in them are joined in one song. Those who are victorious over the beast are given harps and a song to sing. In every case multitudes of people or angels unite in the same song with absolute unity.
c. I have been convicted by this passage of a few things:
1. Heaven is multicultural.
2. This is a picture of vertical worship, this is a picture of worship in Heaven and it is all about Jesus.
d. So, when I think about what I desire in my own life and my children’s lives it must flow from this Biblical picture of reverent, upward, holistic worship.
e. First let’s notice unity.
f. Prior to this passage John was listing the tribes of Israel and we are not going to talk about that passage today, except to say that verse 9 begins with “after these things.”
g. It is the Greek preposition meta (μετά metá). It can be translated “after” or “with.” Some scholars like to think of this as being better translated “with.” This would mean “with the Jewish tribes, listed previously, we see this great multitude.”
h. Either translation still shows Heaven being multicultural.
i. Here we see a picture of worship in Heaven. This is sometime during the end times. This is likely before the New Jerusalem comes down out of Heaven.
j. Verse 9 begins to describe a great crowd. No one was able to count this crowd.
k. Someone joked that John could not count this large crowd but if a Baptist evangelist was there he would find a way.
l. The text says it is a large crowd.
m. Every nation, tribe, people and tongue are in this crowd. This is John’s way of saying that every people group from the world is in this crowd.
n. This crowd was clothed in white robes. White represents purity.
o. Palm branches were in their hands. There is a lot about palm branches.
p. The Archaeological Study Bible gives insight:
The branches of the date palm appear in the symbolism of Greek, Roman and Jewish cultures:
• Palms were a longstanding sign of victory in the Greek world, and the Roman authors Livy, Virgil and Cicero made use of them based upon this significance as well.
• Palm branches were associated with the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40). Together with the myrtle, willow and citron, they formed the lulab, an object the rabbis tell us was shaken at the recitation of Psalm 118:25: “O Lord, save us!” (Hebrew, Hosanna! ).
• In John 12:13 the crowds waved their palm branches while shouting this same verse.
• The Maccabees used palm branches as part of the rededication ceremony for the temple (2Mc 10:7) and minted coins picturing palm trees along with the inscription “For the redemption of Zion.”
• These symbols were also employed by the Jews of the failed Bar Kokhba rebellion when they attempted to overthrow the Romans and set up a Messianic kingdom.
Palm branches thus vividly depicted God’s victory and the deliverance of his people. Revelation 7:9 portrays Christians who have overcome the persecutions of this world as waving palm branches and wearing white robes. The symbolism of the palm branches would have been meaningful to any ancient reader, but especially to one familiar with the place of palm branches in Jewish tradition and worship.
q. Dr. Mulholland, a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary actually added to this. In his lectures on Revelation he shared the palm was on the flag of Israel.
r. Think of Palm Sunday….This is a revolutionary parade. If you look at the coins minted during the bar kokhba revolt (132-136 BCE) they all have the palm branch on them.
s. All these people are united to worship the Lord.
t. Unity: what is uniting them? Worshipping our Savior is uniting them, we’ll get to that.
u. So, one day Martin Luther King Jr. shared the following words:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
v. I believe we have come a long way, but I speak only from one point of view, the point of view of a suburban white male. But we have not gone far enough.
w. We see in this passage that Jesus can bring us together.
x. So, God loves all and tribes, tongues and nationalities, all of them will be in Heaven. It is not the color of our skin, but our great Savior. All these groups are worshipping the Savior together.
y. I was recently at Moody Bible Institute and the praise band from an African American Church led worship at the pastor’s conference. It was a lot different. We must all remember that different cultures worship our Savior differently and I believe He is glorified in all of those different expressions of worship.
God is no respecter of persons, especially when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit. For an example from recent church history, consider the beginning of the Pentecostal movement at the turn of the twentieth century. In the decade prior to 1906, lynchings of African Americans in America had skyrocketed. It is estimated that well over one thousand blacks, mainly men, were lynched—hanged, shot or sometimes buried alive—in the United States. Millions of people in the United States had joined the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1906, the Spirit of God was poured out in a powerful revival in Los Angeles that has come to be known as the Azusa Street Revival. Under the leadership of an African American man, William Seymour, tens of thousands of people from all over the world and all walks of life—rich, poor, men, women, Americans, non-Americans, black, white, Asian, Latino— came by car, by horse and buggy, by train and by boat. They all encountered the Spirit. In a year of lynchings, blacks and whites were embracing each other as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. Frank Bartleman, a historian of the Azusa Street Revival, said, “The color line is washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ!”
II. Now, notice humility: they cry out with a loud voice saying salvation belongs to the Lord sitting on the throne and to the Lamb.
a. Then we see in verse 12: the angels, all of them, the elders, the four living creatures bow down, faces down before the throne.
b. There is great humility in worship.
c. They said:
i. Praise
ii. Glory
iii. Wisdom
iv. Thanks
v. Honor
vi. Power
vii. And strength belong to the eternal God.
d. They give God the glory due His name.
e. This passage continues through the rest of the chapter and is comparable with Revelation 4:5-11 and 5:11-14.
III. Some applications:
a. Do we worship the Lord with great power and humility as this crowd did?
b. How do we feel about the cultural groups?
c. Do we desire that we love all cultures?
d. Do we desire that our church and our family and our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren love all cultures?
e. Do we pray that way?
f. Pray that we and our descendants worship the Lord this way.
g. Pray that we and our descendants recognize Heaven is multicultural.

A few years ago something hit me. I don’t know what made me think of this, but I will share this with you. In Genesis 11 we see God divide the people and divide their language. It seems that without the Holy Spirit, fallen humanity needed to be divided and God used language to divide. However, it seems that since Jesus came, died, was resurrected and we received the Holy Spirit God has been reversing that. In the CHURCH, in the BODY OF CHRIST, God has redeemed humanity and part of that redemption is bringing us together again. Heaven is multicultural.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Pray

 

The exclusivity of salvation and inclusivity of Christianity, part 1

Introduction:

Mr. Johnson, a businessman from Wisconsin, went on a business trip to Louisiana. He immediately sent an e-mail back to his wife, Jean. Unfortunately, he mistyped a letter and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. Joan Johnson, the wife of a preacher who just passed away.

 The preacher’s wife took one look at the e-mail and promptly fainted. When she was finally revived, she nervously pointed to the message, which read: “Arrived safely, but it sure is hot down here!”

Well, the Bible does teach the salvation is opened to everyone through Christ.

Chuck Swindoll writes:

Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the old country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities.

Early one chilly morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window, he could see the mouth-watering morsels being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully.

The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.

“Son . . . would you like some of those?”
The boy was startled, “Oh, yeah . . . I would!”

The American stepped inside and bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. The soldier smiled, held out the bag, and said simply: “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat.

He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: “Mister . . . are you God?”

We are never more like God than when we give. “God so loved the world, that He gave” (John 3:16).

Let me encourage you, in spite of the high cost of giving and the small number of servant-models you may see around you, to determine to be different. God tells us He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and He promises us that the one “who is generous will be blessed” (Proverbs 22:9). Let’s believe Him!

Deep down inside most Christians I know is a deep-seated desire to release instead of keep . . . to give instead of grab. It is worth whatever it takes to let that start happening. Moms, dads, singles, kids, teachers, preachers, businessmen, professionals, blue-collar workers, students—it is worth it!

Become a giver . . . and watch God open the hearts of others to Himself. We are never more godlike than when we give.[1]

God so loved the world that He gave… think about our salvation. Praise God for our salvation. Ask God to give you the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:12). Okay, so we continue the sermon series on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for my children. Today, we come to a Theological Truth. I desire that my children and descendants understand the exclusivity of salvation and the inclusivity of Christianity recognizing John 3:16-18 and John 14:6 as well as Luke 9:23 and Galatians 2:20. Today, let’s look at John 3:16-18 as well as John 14:6.

My theme today is: pray that your children and descendants understand the exclusivity of salvation and the inclusivity of Christianity recognizing John 3:16-18 and John 14:6 as well as Luke 9:23 and Galatians 2:20.

Let’s read John 3:16-18:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

  1. God loved and God gave.
    1. Notice that God loved.
    2. Notice further that God loved to the point where God gave.
    3. One Bible scholar points out: The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not ‘God loved enough to give,’ but ‘God loved so that he gave.
    4. The same scholar continues The construction of the Greek sentence stresses the intensity of God’s love. He gave His best, His unique and loved Son. The Jews believed that God loved the children of Israel, but John affirmed that God loved all people regardless of race.[2]
    5. God loved and he loved everyone.
    6. No one is left out.
    7. God so loved the world, it is the Greek word: kósmos which means the inhabitants of the earth.
    8. God so loved the world that He gave. How are we with giving? Are we giving people? I like how Swindoll pointed out that we are never more like God than when we give.
    9. God gave his only “begotten” Son, or His “one and only Son” or His “unique” Son. Last December I started researching the Greek of this passage. I was required to study Greek in seminary but I am not that good with it so I contacted two Greek scholars to look into that specific word. The Jehovah’s Witness like the word “Begotten” best because it literally means that Jesus was born. It literally means, “only born.”
    10. But Jesus was never born we know that. One Greek scholar, Dr. Long from Asbury Theological Seminary believes “Unique” is the best translation of the adjective. The Greek adjective from which we get “begotten” is monogenḗs and literally means “one and only” or “only born.” This is a case where tracing a words derivation is not helpful because as I stated Jesus was never born. This adjective was also applied to Isaac that Isaac was the only monogenḗs of Abraham. Of course, Isaac was born and Abraham did have another son. Yet, Isaac was the child of promise.
    11. So, as we consider which term is best to translate the Greek remember that the Greek adjective monogenḗs literally does mean only born.
    12. However, also remember we do not form Theology based on one verse. We form Theology, in this case, Christology, based on the whole Bible. Look at John 1:1-14 and we see that Jesus was not born.
    13. God so loved the world that He gave His only “begotten” (sticking with the NASB) Son…The rest of the passage picks up the purpose: that that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    14. Salvation is opened to all people but only through Jesus. Look at John 3:18:
  2. Salvation is only through Jesus.
    1. John 3:18 says: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    2. We have to believe in Jesus.
    3. Salvation is opened to anyone through Jesus.
    4. Salvation is exclusive in that it is through Jesus, BUT Christianity is inclusive. Christianity is opened to anyone.
    5. I remember the 1996 presidential debates. Senator Bob Dole was debating President Clinton. The moderator asked Bob Dole about his tax cut proposal and Senator Dole instantly replied, to the moderator that “he is eligible.” This meant that the moderator is eligible for the tax cut.
    6. Everyone is eligible for the free gift of salvation in Jesus.
    7. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God the Father.
    8. Let’s look at John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
    9. We see this idea all throughout the New Testament, actually all throughout the Bible. We need away to take care of our sins and it is only through Jesus.
  3. Applications:
    1. Do we believe this truth?
    2. Do we care?
    3. Salvation is real and eternity is real:
    4. Two Christians have lived very good, and also very healthy lives. They die, and go to heaven. 

      As they are walking along, marveling at the paradise around them, one turns to the other and says “Wow. I never knew heaven was going to be as good as this!”

      “Yeah”, says the other. “And just think, if we hadn’t eaten all that oat bran we could have got here ten years sooner.”[3]

    5. Do you believe in Jesus?
    6. Is Jesus your Lord?
    7. Are you trusting in Him for salvation?
    8. Do you want others too as well?

Close:

As John Wesley rode across Hounslow Heath late one night, singing a favorite hymn, he was startled by a fierce voice shouting, “Halt,” while a firm hand seized the horse’s bridle. Then the man demanded, “Your money or your life.”

Wesley obediently emptied his pockets of the few coins they contained and invited the robber to examine his saddlebags which were filled with books. Disappointed at the result, the robber was turning away when Mr. Wesley cried, “Stop! I have something more to give you.”

The robber, wondering at this strange call, turned back. Then Mr. Wesley, bending down toward him, said in solemn tones, “My friend, you may live to regret this sort of a life in which you are engaged. If you ever do, I beseech you to remember this, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” ”

The robber hurried silently away, and the man of God rode along, praying in his heart that the word spoken might be fixed in the robber’s conscience.

Years later, at the close of a Sunday evening service, the people streamed from the large building with many lingering around the doors to see the aged preacher, who was John Wesley.

A stranger stepped forward and earnestly begged to speak with Mr. Wesley. What a surprise to find that this was the robber of Hounslow Heath, now a well-to-do tradesman in the city, but better still, a child of God! The words spoken that night long ago had been used of God in his conversion.

Raising the hand of Mr. Wesley to his lips, he affectionately kissed it and said in tones of deep emotion, “To you, dear sir, I owe it all.”

“Nay, nay, my friend,” replied Mr. Wesley softly, “not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ which cleanseth us from all sin.”[4]

Luke 9:23

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 3:16–18.

[3] http://jokes.christiansunite.com/Heaven/The_Healthy_Christians.shtml

[4] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 1195.

Biblical Worldview

Pray We and Our Children Have a Biblical Worldview and Are Separate from the World (1 Chronicles 12:32; Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 21; James 4:4)

Praying Scripture Series

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes on Sunday, June 24, 2018 for and at Bethel Friends Church

Recently there was a news case about a monkey taking a selfie. One news article reads:

A photographer whose camera was used by a monkey to take a selfie has won a two-year legal battle against an animal rights group about copyright over the image.

Naruto, a rare crested macaque monkey who lives in the Tangkoko Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, picked up David Slater’s camera and snapped the now-famous photo in 2011. 

Peta sued “on behalf” of the monkey in 2015, seeking financial control of the photographs for the benefit of Naruto.

Judges in the US deemed the monkey was ineligible to hold copyright over the image.[1]

What does it mean to be human? That is a worldview question. Every day this question is being talked about in the world, but they are not basing their discussion from the Bible.

For example, a few weeks ago the New York Times ran a headline: “Actress Struck by Car in Park Slope Loses Unborn Daughter.”[2] The question must be asked, “Does New York Times now believe a baby in the womb is a life”? What we actually see is that the unborn child is recognized as a child only when the baby is wanted by his or her parents. This is about worldview. What does it mean to be human?

There was a headline titled State Comes Out with New LGBTQ Curriculum. This headline came out on April 23, 2018 in the Boston Herald.[3] This was about a Massachusetts school coming out with this curriculum. A summary: “Bay State schools will be able to try a new curriculum with LGBTQ-themed history, English and health this fall that proponents say is an effort to help all students see themselves reflected in classrooms.” This, once again, is about the worldview question of what it means to be human.

One must ask, what worldview will be taught in schools? Another headline: “Supporters rally for gay teacher amid discrimination claim after he told 1st-graders about same-sex marriage.”[4]

A bouquet of flowers sent to a teacher from his husband on Valentine’s Day set off a controversy and claims of discrimination in a rural community at the edge of the Chicago area, resulting in a standing-room-only school board meeting Monday evening.

When Nathan Etter, a first-year music teacher at Prairie View Grade School near Elgin, received the bouquet from his husband, some first-grade students asked who they were from. He said he answered honestly and that some students reacted with comments like “ewww” and “gross.”

Etter, 30, who has been married to Philip Etter since August, said he used the interaction as a “teachable moment,” making very brief comments about respect and tolerance and explaining how some families have two moms or two dads.

According to administrators in Kane County-based Central Unit School District 301, the parent of one student contacted the district with “serious concerns” about Etter’s comments, prompting the principal to meet with the teacher to learn more about what had occurred.

School board President Jeff Kellenberger told the crowd at Monday’s gathering that, after that meeting, “the district had no further concerns and considered the matter resolved. Mr. Etter’s employment … was never in jeopardy.”

But Etter and his union apparently interpreted the meeting differently. Nearly two months later, according to district officials, the vice president of the local teachers union sent an email to the entire district faculty and staff claiming “school leaders treated Mr. Etter in a discriminatory manner,” according to an open letter released in response the next day by Kellenberger and Superintendent Todd Stirn.

The articles goes on to talk about supporters for him.

These types of articles are in the news everyday and they all have at their root worldview. Generally, it is “What does it mean to be human”? There are more. Our world is trying to figure things out without the Bible. Without the Bible we are lost looking into these topics. Without the Bible we are for sure the blind leading the blind. We are arrogantly trying to figure these things out without talking to the creator. It is like a car trying to figure out why it is a car.

We are in a sermon series on Scriptures I have been convicted to pray. Today, I have Scriptures that are about worldview. Or, at least I pray them asking that myself and my descendants have a Biblical worldview.

My theme:

Pray that we and our descendants have a worldview that comes from the Bible.

Let’s read Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

  1. What is a worldview?
    1. Merriam-Websters says: a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the worldespecially from a specific standpoint — called also [5]
    2. Everyone has a worldview, they just do not realize it. Additionally, our worldview is changed by those around us.
    3. Usually we do not realize what our worldview is. We simply make decisions from day-to-day and we do not realize how our worldview is guiding the decisions. When you hear a news event you react to it based off of your worldview.
    4. For example, if you read an article from New York Magazine titled: 180 Minutes With Desmond Is Amazing He’s a 10-year-old drag performer, and he’s cooler than you,[6] your reaction to it will be based off of your worldview. In fact, your reaction to that very title is based off of your worldview.
    5. How about your reaction to Bruce Jenner having a sex change and then being the Glamour woman of the year?[7]
    6. How do you react to that, it is based on your worldview. Further, this, also, has to do with the worldview question of why God created two sexes. This has to do with the worldview of what it means to be a man or a woman. Further, if a transgendered woman can win woman of the year what does that mean to all the biological women everywhere? I would think that is an insult to the feminist movement. Were they really saying that a biological man who has a sex change is a better woman?
    7. Our worldview is set at a very young age, but it does change throughout life. We see that millennials, those born after 1982 (that year changes based on studies) change their worldview based on their peers.
    8. However, I think the same about other generations. For example, President George and Barbara Bush attended a homosexual wedding. I think that did not fit their worldview years ago.
    9. Years ago, when homosexual marriage came out on the news you probably strongly rejected the idea. But now you may know many people who are homosexual and so now you interpret the news through your relationship with these people, rather than from the Bible.
    10. Years ago, when you heard that a woman and a man were living together outside of marriage you likely immediately thought that was wrong. But now you know many people who live in that way. Your own children or grandchildren may live together outside of marriage. You interpret whether that is right or wrong based on your relationship with them and who they are, rather than the Bible.
    11. However, the Bible speaks objectively to life and we must view everything through the Bible. Interesting that many times science is actually proving God’s ways are best. For example, when a couple has sexual intercourse outside of marriage a chemical is released in the man that is really telling him he is a conqueror. Women will think they will give him sexual intercourse and that will make him devoted to her. However, outside of marriage this chemical is simply telling him he conquered. However, when a couple has sexual intercourse within marriage there is a chemical released that makes him more devoted to listening and being attentive to his wife.[8] This study shows what the Bible already has told us.
    12. So, we have a worldview, we all do, the question is where is its foundation.
    13. We need our worldview to come from the Bible. The Bible speaks objective and it does not change.
    14. Therefore, my prayer is that Meagan and I and our descendants have a worldview that is from the Bible. This means whenever they interpret world events they do so from the Bible’s viewpoint, not fallen humanity.
  2. We must understand the ways of the world are different than God’s ways.
    1. James 4:4: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
    2. Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
    3. 1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…
  • How do we have a Biblical worldview
    1. Romans 12:1-2 tells us: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which isyour spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
    2. But how do you become a living sacrifice?
      1. Living and sacrifice are contradictory terms. We always think of a sacrifice as being dead. The problem with a living sacrifice is it can crawl off the alter. I was in a Sunday school class that was led by an older man. This man was hunting with his grandfather during the depression. It was bitterly cold as they walked down the railroad tracks looking for food. His grandfather walked right passed a dead possum. But my Sunday school teacher, he saw it. He called out to his grandfather and they took it home. His grandfather gave it to his wife who put it by the stove to get it ready for the preparation process. Well as that possum got warm it got life back in it and started running around the house. They thought it was dead. It was on the alter to be food, yet it got off of their alter.
      2. We as Christians must do this intentionally. Intentionally we must be sacrifices for God.
    3. Our bodies as living sacrifices are to be “holy and acceptable to God.” Acceptable could be better translated, “Pleasing.” God is pleased by our sacrifice. But as we are a sacrifice we must be holy. We must be holy to come to the thrown of God. God is holy. Lev 11:44: “be holy because I am holy.” Ex 3:5: “Take off your sandals for you are on holy ground.”
    4. Being a sacrifice to God is worship. Worship is not just singing to God. It is worship to make our whole life a sacrifice to God.
    5. This living sacrifice is a process. Since we are alive, this is not a one-time thing, but continual. What does it mean to be pleasing to God? The idea is of God having an attitude towards us as pleasing. The Old Testament sacrifices were said to have an aroma that was pleasing to God.
    6. In verse 2 Paul calls us to avoid worldly contamination and have spiritual transformation:
    7. We can present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, by not being conformed to this age, but by being transformed.
    8. These words: “Conformed” and “transformed” are both commands.
      1. Transformed is the word for metamorphosis. This is the same word used to describe a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. We must have a gradual change to be more and more like Christ.
      2. I think of Clark Kent changing into Superman
    9. So, how do we do this? How do we allow ourselves to be transformed by God?
    10. This happens by renewing our mind
      1. Look at Romans 6:1-2: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
        1. We cannot test these things when we are still in the world.
        2. I had a student in my youth group ask me, “How can I know what God wants?” you can do that by knowing His Word, and by being transformed to His interests. If you are of the world, you will not.
      2. Come out of the world, be Christ like. There is a difference between the world and Christianity.
      3. Then, as God transforms us we have a Biblical worldview and that is what we need.
      4. We must be let God transform us.
      5. We must live out 2 Timothy 2:15: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
      6. Study the Bible, live in the Bible, that is the Truth. We need our worldview based on Truth.
      7. We must live out Colossians 3:1: Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
      8. I love that passage! What are you meditating on? It will affect your worldview.
      9. 1 Chronicles 12:32: Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do
      10. We must study culture too, but the Bible is Truth.
      11. The Bible is our litmus test.

Close:

George Barna writes:

83% of Americans identify themselves as Christians, yet only 49% describe themselves as absolutely committed to Christianity. (The Barna Update, 5-21-07)

“The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus,” Barna said. “Behavior stems from what we think—our attitudes, beliefs, values, and opinions.” -“Barna: Biblical Worldview Held by Only 4 Percent of Adults,” Baptist Press (December 2, 2003).

The Barna Research Group found that just 4 percent of American adults have a biblical Worldview and only 9 percent of those categorized as born-again Christians have a biblical Worldview. Not surprisingly, those without a biblical Worldview have a vastly different view of immoral and unethical behavior.

For instance, those without a biblical Worldview were:

  1. –Around 100 times more likely to endorse abortion
  2. –Around 80 times more likely to say exposure to pornography is morally acceptable
  3. –31 times more likely to believe living together before marriage is morally acceptable
  4. –15 times more likely to believe homosexual sex is acceptable
  5. –18 times more likely to endorse drunkenness
  6. –11 times more likely to say adultery is OK

So, what does it mean to be human? I preached about that a few months ago, but I like what my friend and mentor Pastor Rick Sams wrote:

BROKEN by Pastor Rick Sams

  Broken. That’s how all-star Cleveland Cavaliers forward, Kevin Love, described his left hand in the latter part of this season. I would describe him as one of the more “brittle” (injury prone) players on the Cavs, especially compared to Lebron. Love likely would disagree with my description.

  But broken is the label he put on himself: “We are all damaged goods.” He was describing the anxiety and panic attacks that has occasionally affected his ability to play the game he loves. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Washington’s Kelly Oubre, also high caliber NBA players, manned up and stepped up with K-Love to claim the same brokenness.*

  But here’s some good news about brokenness. Jesus speaks of the truth that sets us free from any “chains” or brokenness that hold us back (John 8:32). It wasn’t just any truth Jesus referred to…it was the truth about him as the great liberator and healer: “And if the Son [of God, Jesus] sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

  Jesus talks of a future time when He will fix all the brokenness and make all things new (Revelation 21:5).

  Way back in the past brokenness was “our bad.” Our spiritual & physical ancestors, Adam & Eve, brought brokenness into the world by their sin. Sinning was like pouring sand into the “finely tuned machines” God had created; the world and our bodies.

  “Sin” is anything that breaks the perfect love relationship our heavenly Father God wants to have with us and intended for us to have when He created the world. Sin separates us from God and us from each other.

  But Jesus offers the cure for brokenness; a love relationship with Jesus himself: “Behold I [Jesus] stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” (Revelation 3:20). But we must open the door to our heart from the inside. There’s no doorknob on the outside.

  As Kevin Love said: “Everybody is going through something…it’s called life. What you make of the repair [available] makes all the difference.” *

  What will you do with Jesus’ offer of healing and restoration? Jesus offers a fix for the brokenness that afflicts us all (Romans 3:10, 23).

(*“Pointing The Way Forward Through Times of Life,” Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/21/18, p B1-2)[9]

Luke 9:23

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/monkey-selfie-david-slater-photographer-peta-copyright-image-camera-wildlife-personalities-macaques-a7941806.html

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/nyregion/ruthie-ann-miles-miscarriage.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fashley-southall&action=click&contentCollection=undefined&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=collection&mc_cid=8255f265b4&mc_eid=ccb40608e2

[3]http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2018/04/state_comes_out_with_new_lgbtq_curriculum?mc_cid=1caf86a662&mc_eid=ccb40608e2

[4] http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-gay-teacher-rally-burlington-20180417-story.html?mc_cid=1caf86a662&mc_eid=ccb40608e2

[5] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worldview

[6] https://www.thecut.com/2018/03/desmond-is-amazing-is-cooler-than-you.html?mc_cid=9e5ee22e52&mc_eid=2b0af7ecd4

[7] https://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/caitlyn-jenner-at-women-of-the-year-awards-never-thought-id-be-here-20151011/

[8] From Juli Slattery, “Java with Juli, May 28, 2018. [Juli is a Christian Psychologist]

[9] Sams, Rick. Rick’s Ramblings. May 29, 2018 published in Alliance Review Saturday, June 3 or May 26. Rick serves as the pastor of Alliance Friends Church