BY HIS GRACE - FOR HIS GLORY
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (ESV)
Yesterday’s sermon was about the faithlessness of the priest in carrying out one of their priestly duties, teaching the people the word of God (Deuteronomy 33:9-10). They were God’s messengers, but instead had fallen away from the way in more ways than just this (Malachi 2:7-9).
Please pray that your pastor and your church does not do the same.
Please pray along with your pastor the following prayers.(not sure where I got these, but they are not my own)
Guest Blogger - Mac McCully
At the time of the New Testament, the church was primarily made up of Jews being led and instructed by Jews. Paul was a Jew and in Philippians 3 he confesses, a Hebrew of Hebrews. As we have studied there is a large dispersion of Christian Jews as a result of the exile and the subsequent events of the beginning of the church in the book of Acts. As we know, the Philippians were gentiles but the Gospel had been brought to them by a Jew about a Jew claiming to be God the atoning redeemer of their souls. Therefore it would be no small jump for them to believe they needed to be a Jew to be a Christian. May I say, to the Philippian hearer, originally, Christianity was a Jewish religion.
From a different angle, local converted Jews may have reinforced this belief because the Jews were the chosen ones of God. They had been told a redeemer would rise up and deliver them and re-establish the Kingdom. This redeemer would be their Messiah and would reestablish the Jewish nation. In the Gospels Christ addresses their misinterpretation at just about every opportunity He got. In Acts, the newly formed church and leader of the church, Peter, still had not got it right. Their first hurdle was that the Gospel was for all people, Jew and Gentile but their second hurdle was becoming a Christian without being a Jew.
This was huge. Historically, God had sent them into exile because they had abandoned their relationship with God and the Mosaic covenant. By the time we get to Ezra, Israel is severely chastised because they had mingled and married with non-Jewish women. So it is not a stretch for this new entity, the church, to come to the conclusion, they must be a Jew first, to become a follower of Christ.
The point is, the meaning of this text has great historical and geographical meaning. It is not just a matter of circumcision and works salvation but it is a drawing out of who is God, His revealed will and the power of Grace. Paul is trying to make this distinction in this text.
In the second half of this paragraph Paul turns to the value of knowing Christ and walking in faith. To the Philippians, idol worshippers, the knowing of God and doing relationship with the living God was unthinkable. Not only was he the only living God but He was a God of Grace. He wasn’t vindictive but was a personal sovereign God. He was a God of forgiveness and steadfast love. This was a huge paradigm shift. It would only be logical for them to wonder what must we do to stay on the good side of this new God we have acknowledged?
Even though Paul confesses He wants to know Christ, God addresses Paul directly in 2 Corinthians and says, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses so the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Grace is at the very core of the Gospel but it is difficult for us to get our minds, feelings and actions around. The Philippians doubted it, Paul doubted it and we doubt it at conversion and during sanctification. We focus too much on how we will fight the battle instead acknowledging the battle is of the Lord’s. Every day God calls us to turn away from our presuppositions and walk in faith trusting in God the great Shepard. “No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Why is so easy for me to grumble, complain, bellyache, fuss, and whine so often?
Plain and simple, according to the second chapter of Philippians, I am living according to a different calendar than God.
My dates are all filled up with me getting my rewards for being faithful to God, today, August 25th. Or tomorrow, next week, or next year.
God’s looking at a different calendar – eternity. I want Him to look at mine and since He doesn't, I complain. I begin to think “ He must be holding out on me”. “He’s mistreating me” (Exodus 16:8). So I complain against whoever or whatever I think is keeping me from getting what I think I deserve. Ultimately all our grumbling is an incorrect judgment we make about God.
In the context of what Paul has been saying in Philippians, grumbling is looking for our exaltation before our humiliation is completed. That is not how it worked with Christ, Paul says. (Philippians 2: 6-11). Why should it be any different with you and me?
He humbled himself, perfectly, completely and totally. He fully accomplished the purposes of God in His life. He humbled himself all the way to His death on a cross and only then was he raised and seated at the right hand of God.
We, (I) want shortcuts to glory. There aren't any. God’s timetable is perfect. Can I trust Him with it? Grumbling shows me I usually don’t.
Listen to yesterdays sermon!
Dealing With Anger Biblically!
We ran out of time yesterday, as we ended our morning service...nothing unusual. But, one of the reasons for this blog post is to help us all keep thinking and doing what God began yesterday, in our hearts, as we listened to the preaching of His Word.
Following are some practical applications of what we learned, in our study of Matthew 5.
1. Listen to your anger (James 1:19). What is it telling you about the nature of your desires (James 4:1-4)? Is your primary concern the glory of God? Or are you wanting something else? Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8).
2. Identify your desires (both good and bad) that have become sinful (James 1:20). For example, a good desire would be to get to work on time, but a traffic jam has made that an impossibility. Am I going to get mad or am I going to ask God (James 4:2-3) to help me deal with this circumstance in a God-honoring way? Am I willing to submit my will to His will?
3. Confess your sinful ways (I John 1:9) of trying to get what you want, and your lack of faith for thinking that God is not involved in your life (I Peter 2:23). Ask him to forgive you for playing His role as God in your life.
4. Trust God and submit to His sovereignty over the details of your life.
5. Recognize that vengeance is up to God (Romans 12:19).
6. Return evil with good (Romans 12:21), thereby fulfilling the law of God. Love both your neighbor and enemy (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 4:32).
7. Talk to people and make things right (Matthew 5:23-26).
8. Listen more than you talk (James 1:19). Gather information regarding the situation. Listen to what God is trying to teach you. Don’t jump to conclusions. Ask questions, don’t accuse.
9. Accept what God says about your sinful anger to be true (James 1:21) and get rid of it, by repeating the process of dealing biblically with anger (Ephesians 4:31).
Keeping your eye on the ball!
If you have ever been coached, or have coached children who are trying to learn a sport, you’re probably familiar with the phrase - “Keep your eye on the ball". The consequences of not keeping your eye on the ball at times, can be rather amusing, but often times disastrous.
In the spiritual realm, the consequences of not keeping our focus on God’s eternal kingdom, results in a life, characterized by worry – the heart issue we dealt with in our Bible text yesterday (Matthew 6:19-35).
Worry is like the engine light that goes on in the panel of your car. You don’t take a hammer out and beat the panel until the light goes out. You realize the light says something is probably wrong with your engine. Worry tells us that something is wrong with the focus of our heart. Worry is our evaluation of God. We are saying, by our worry, that He is neither powerful enough to provide or protect, or wise enough to carry out His promises.
Jesus tells us not to worry, in the context of his contrasting two ways to live. We either live for this world or eternity (Matthew 6:19-20,24,33). When we live for our world, we become king and there is a lot to worry about when you are king. Isn’t there? We are misguided, that we somehow have acquired both the wisdom and power to rule our own lives.
When we choose to live for the kingdom of God, our lives are characterized by faith. God is king of both here and now, and heaven.
Let’s trust HIM!
Next time you worry, let it be a reminder that you need to refocus on the "ball" (His kingdom), and follow Paul’s Spirit-inspired words and pray to the King (Philippians 4:6-8).
Read Joshua 24:1-28.
Where do your fears drive you?
Fear is an emotion, given to us by God, to drive us to trust in Him alone. The emotion is never neutral. It will drive us in the direction of trusting God or it will drive us inward, and away from God. Fear reveals our heart desires and also reveals how we interpret the uncertain, insecure, and wicked world in which we live.
When fear is handled in a godly way, the result is faith and the focus is always on God. When it is handled in an ungodly way, the result is unbelief and the focus is on ourselves.
We are not alone!
We have a high priest in Jesus, Who is able to sympathize with all our human emotions, and One Who, in every respect, was tempted as we are, but without ever sinning (Hebrews 4:13). That means that in every instance of fear, He used that fear to drive Him fully and completely to His heavenly Father.
The clearest example we have is the night when He was betrayed, when He became sorrowful and troubled (Matthew 26:37). In the following moments, He prayed three times, in great anguish, that God remove from Him the cup of suffering, but each time, His sorrow and trouble led Him to trust in the Father’s perfect will. (Matthew 26:39)
Yesterday in church, we saw that the great apostle, Paul, was also afraid (Acts 18:1-11). Who wouldn’t be, after all he went through to get to Corinth.
But both the fear of Paul and Christ were overcome by their fear of God. Both trusted God in obedience.
There is clear negative example in the OT that we read as our scripture reading in yesterday morning’s service. It is found in Deuteronomy 1. When faced with the report of giants in the promised land, the recently, miraculously liberated nation of Israel did not trust the God who had delivered them. Their fears revealed their unbelief and they turned inward, and away from God. They rebelled and murmured in unbelief and thought God hated them and wanted to destroy them (Deuteronomy 1:26-27).
The accurate report of the spies, being bigger and stronger, did not lead them to trust in God, but turned them inward, to the own weaknesses and that lead them to despair. No one questioned the veracity of the report. The people were indeed bigger and stronger and, humanly speaking, there was reason to be afraid.
God understands our fears, but He does not tolerate unbelief (Deuteronomy 1:32). He gently comes alongside his people and reminds them that He is bigger than their fears (Deuteronomy 1:29-31). He would fight for the people, just like when He delivered them from Egypt. He would lovingly carry them during this troubling time.
But, they refused to believe God was bigger than their fears and paid the price (Deuteronomy 1:34-35).
Look at Deuteronomy 1:36-38. In contrast to the thousands of Israelites who let their fears drive them away from God, we have a godly example of two men that trusted God, Caleb and Joshua. They faced the same giants, but they believed God and His Word. The giants in the land drove them to trust in God.
Where are your fears driving you?
Yesterday, we learned that when Jesus answered Peter’s magnanimous question about forgiving a repentant brother up to seven times, he used in his answer an idiomatic expression (70 +7 or 70 x 7, depending on your version) that all those listening would have understood as “more than you can count” Peter.
To Peter, forgiveness was about keeping score. To Jesus, it was about setting the scoreboard back to zero.
And then he tells the wonderful story of the king's forgiveness and then follows up with a stern warning for those who like to keep score.
But as I was reflecting yesterday afternoon about the number and how we think Jesus was actually saying 490 and not “more than you can count”, I began to see the foolishness of limiting our forgiveness to “just” 490.
I’ve been married this September to the same woman for 24 years. Over those same years, I have sinned against my wife a “few times” by violating God’s command to love her as Christ loves the church. Actually, it is a lot easier for me to love myself than to love her – and not because she is unlovable. She isn't! I’m just real good at loving myself at her expense.
Let’s be extremely lenient and say that I count only 3 of those sins of loving myself more than the command (Ephesians 5:25) of our Heavenly Father, a week. That would mean that early on in the 3rd year of our marriage I would have passed the 491 “sins against her” mark.
What kind of marriage would we have today if my wife had kept score instead of zeroing the score on a ongoing basis?
What about my kids? My parents? My brothers and sisters in the Lord?
Psalm 130:3-4 says the following: If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
If God kept score, it would be a blowout with me on the losing end. But, because of Christ, he doesn't. He forgives and as His children He demands the same from us (Matthew 18:35).
Thank the Lord for people who don’t keep score, especially my wife.
Yesterday we looked at a wonderfully rich theological passage in Philippians 2:5-8. But the Holy Spirit's main point in directing Paul to pen these words is intensely practical. Theology is always practical - never boring. If Christ, the second person of the triune God humbled himself to death on a cross, how in the world can we demonstrate pride in our relationships within the body of Christ. The distance Jesus traveled in demonstrating His humility (Throne to the tomb) is infinitely greater than any distance you will travel to demonstrate humility. The church is the body of Christ - it is incongruent that we don't voluntarily chose humility.
I looked up some quotes by some pretty humble men, that God has lifted up for the edification of the body of Christ. Pray for them and your pastor. Enjoy!
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Daniel 4:37 (King Nebuchadnezzar)
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:3 (The Apostle Paul)
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5b ( The Apostle Peter)
The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.
Tim Keller The Reason For God
“Encourage others each and every day–nothing’s more important than our words.
Did you know that, on average, each of us speaks about twenty-five thousand words daily? My last book didn’t have that many words. A lot of language is flowing out of our mouths every day and having an impact on those around us. But how much of that flow is fulfilling God’s intended purpose for our speech? How much of it reflects pride, rather than a gospel-motivated humility?”
C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness
Preaching the gospel to myself each day mounts a powerful assault against my pride and serves to establish humility in its place. Nothing suffocates my pride more than daily reminders regarding the glory of my God, the gravity of my sins, and the crucifixion of God’s own Son in my place. Also, the gracious love of God, lavished on me because of Christ’s death, is always humbling to remember, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the Hell I deserve.
Milton Vincent A Gospel Primer
““The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”
John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life
Gospel Worthy Church
A Gospel Worthy Church
Yesterday we learned what living for Christ looks like in a local church. For Paul living and a dying were all about Jesus. If he wasn’t worshipping Jesus in heaven, Paul was about worshipping Jesus in the context of serving His church.
For the first time in the letter to the Philippians, Paul issues a command (Philippians 1:27-30). For Paul, a church lives for its Savior by living a life that is in line with their Savior’s message – the gospel.
Paul not only issues the command, but clearly portrays what that kind of church looks like. It looks like the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It stands firms in the defense of the gospel (27). Nothing will distract this church from the truth that only the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). No gimmicks, no programs, no marketing schemes, no watered down version will detract from this church’s passion for the gospel. The winds of this world will blow against this truth, but a gospel worthy church does not backpedal or waiver in their conviction that the gospel is the power of God.
Well, I’m not going to preach the sermon again, but you can listen to it online at http://gracechurchlebanon.weebly.com/philippians.html
The final point I want to make is that a gospel worthy church is one that makes their worship about Jesus and the good news about his death, burial and resurrection (I Corinthians 15:1-7). The church is the most beautiful when it accurately portrays Jesus.
Photobombing is the act of accidentally or purposely putting oneself into the view of a photograph.
It is rather common occurrence today in churches as we have made church a lot more about us than the object of our worship.
In a gospel worthy church no photobombing is allowed.
Near the beginning of the sermon yesterday, I tried to point out that Paul’s words of encouragement (Philippians 1:21) had some real modern day implications.
Paul wrote specifically to the church at Philippi (Philippians 1:1) but as carried along by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:20-21), his audience is much broader.
He wrote to “a” church situated in Greece that had partnered together for the advancement of the gospel. This band of believers who lived in Philippi were committed to God and each other in the task of making disciples of all nations. When Paul wrote to thank them and encourage them in the faith, he spoke to them corporately as “a” church. He wanted to motivate them to partner to an even greater degree for the advancement of the gospel. He wanted that church to live for Christ.
He knew that as believers banded together for a common purpose, this unity becomes a motivating factor for godly living. The Christian life is corporate at its core. Too often when we read scripture we only ask; “what does it mean to me?”. When in fact, another very important question should be; “what does it mean to us?”.
How does this passage of scripture affect the way GRACECHUCH of Lebanon, Indiana partners with each other for the glory of God? We tried to answer that question in our application portion of the sermon.
Every member of “the” church must also be partnering with other believers in “a” local church. We are not allowed in Scripture to go it alone.
But Paul was also writing to individual Christians no matter their location and no matter which century they lived; they all comprise “the” church. This is Christ’s body for all times and in all places. And there is application for each of us individually as we relate to other brothers and sisters in Christ and to a world without Christ.
Near the end of the sermon we also applied the Biblical text in light of that truth.
There is no way around it. The Bible is for us individually, but just as important, it must be applied corporately.
GRACECHURCH of Lebanon, Indiana lives for Jesus by teaching His Word, sharing His life, praying in His name and remembering His death. Let’s not just kill time until he comes back. Let’s live with this purpose.