Monday, December 29, 2008

1 JOHN 5:4-5 FAITH IS THE VICTORY - How to overcome the world!

TOPIC: Overcoming faith
If you love the Author of your faith, you'll love the book He wrote!
TITLE: FAITH IS THE VICTORY - How to Overcome World!

TEXT: 1 John 5:4-5
… whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
TRUTH CLAIM: This message was recently preached as a New Years message.
NOTE: Ad lib current events and their tie to our cultural decay, both in USA and the whole world.
FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: How can one live in the world and still have a victorious life in Christ … what’s the mystery of overcoming faith?

CONCISE OUTLINE: - According to the bible, overcoming faith is ...
I. A Believing Faith!
II. A Pleasing Faith!
III. A Working Faith!
IV. A Believing Faith!
V. A Sustaining Faith!
VI. A Saving Faith!
CONTEXT: Americans are known world over as a people who take their hits and then get up, dust themselves off, and start all over again. And we may have a rough year ahead of us.

Past generations have been stronger in their faith than this generation though! How will we fair if times get tough?

We are also known for our defense of underdogs. We’ll root for the under-dog when we’re not in the game but put us on the field and we play to win. When all is said and done, we all like a winner!

In the summer Olympics in Beijing, NBC (broadcasting to a primarily American audience) knew this truth very well; when an underdog had a shot at victory they played it for all it’s worth.

They filled our screens with background on anyone who had a chance for victory out of hardship. When there was no clear top runner they would hype the underdogs constantly.

Americans want the loser to win and win big! That’s why it’s hard to under-stand why American’s aren’t pushing & shoving to get into the Kingdom of God! A place made ready by the Chief Underdog.

Yet not even all of those who know of victory have victory! Theirs is the same as the demons in James 2:19.

FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: How can one live in the world and still have a victorious life in Christ … what’s the mystery of overcoming faith?


I. A Believing Faith!
My wife gets real nervous going over bridges, especially those that arch high!

Our faith in Jesus is as simple as crossing a bridge. We must have the simple confidence Christ is who He says He is and will do what He says He’ll do! Just like we trust a bridge to be what it claims to be and do what it claims it will do!

The bible says "… faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." [Hebrews 11:1]

We must first believe!

You say you believe but so do the demons.

What should we say then, that your faith believes that God is but does not believe that he can heal you, that He can bring you through the tough times ahead, pay your bills, feed your kids, or give you hope and purpose in life?

You believe there is a God … who is He? Describe Him! Give me His bio!

II. A Pleasing Faith!
Hebrews 11:6 says
"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
In the light of (a) Jeremiah’s plea ("we believe, Lord help us in our unbelief") and (b) Jesus’ own statements to the believing apostles ("oh ye of little faith"), this tells us that pleasing faith is more than a simple statement of belief.

III. A Working Faith!
James, the half brother of Jesus, says real faith shows itself by its works - James 1:22. (see also James 1:14, James 1:17-18)
[OARS] I have said it before, and it is not original with me, and will say it again, that faith and works are the Christian’s oars for crossing the River of Life. It takes both oars to keep from rowing in circles.

IV. A Sustaining Faith!
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. [2 Timothy 1:12]

For the arms of the wicked will be broken; but the LORD sustains the righteous. [Psalm 37:17]

Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. [Psalm 55:22]
He is able to finish that which He began in us!

V. It’s A Proclaiming Faith!

you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excel-lencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. [1 Peter 2:9, 10]
Jesus gave His final instructions to His disciples as He ascended into heaven to be with the Father,
“you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” [Acts 1:8]

VI. A Saving Faith!
For by grace are you saved, through faith … [Ephesians 2:8]
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. [1 Corinthians 9:24-25]
Tom Landry - one of the NFL’s most successful coaches was asked what makes a champion. “A champion is simply someone who will not give up when he wants to.”

Richard Blair - says the missing ingredient in many people’s lives is commitment. Many people own jogging apparel but few jog. Those who jog seriously jog in the rain, snow, or wind. The difference is commitment.

Some jog to be seen, but not the serious jogger. And they would never buy their jogging outfits to make a statement.

In fact most are like serious skiers, they’d never spend money on fancy fashion statements. Levi’s and heavy thermal under-wear is what the want; the little money they have goes into equipment. Blair says many Christians are like joggers and skiers. Some are to be seen, others are there for the discipline.

The difference for the believer is not in commitment: it's in surrender. The surrendered believer labors to be a workman unashamed of the gospel and the God of the gospel. Surrendered believers know the Word and the Word knows them.

One thing is for sure you cannot have overcoming faith if you do not have God’s Faith.

The bible also says … faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. [Romans 10:17]

This is the single biggest area of weakness in the church today, biblical ignorance. How can the people of God have overcoming faith if the source of that faith is the word of God and they are ignorant of what it says?

How can God’s team be victorious if it does not train, if it does not prepare itself?

Let me tell you how to be prepared for the eventualities of life in Christ:
  1. read His word often, daily
  2. study His word regularly, deeply
  3. wash in His word thoroughly, frequently
  4. share His word constantly, boldly
  5. proclaim His word boldly, reverently!
Abe Lincoln - said, “Take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier and better [person].”
Suggested close - "Faith Is the Victory" followed by "I Surrender All"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Luke 9:18-20 KJV: THE ONE - Just Another Senator

NOTE: The following is a message prepared to be delivered on Radio Panorama in South African by a good friend, Cornelius Claassen. Cornelius and his family minister in Welcomen, South Africa, a gold fields Township.
TOPIC: The Second Coming
TITLE: THE ONE - Just Another Senator

TEXT: Luke 9:18-20 [KJV]
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, "Whom say the people that I am?" They answering said, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again."

He said unto them, "But whom say ye that I am"? Peter answering said, "The Christ of God."
TRUTH CLAIM/CONTEXT: November 2008 and the American Nation has elected a new President – Senator Barack Hussein Obama – an historical event – the first American of African decent to be elected to the highest office in their democratic government.

A little known fact is that Senator Barack Obama visited South Africa two years ago.

The American Embassy informed the South African Government before hand of his proposed visit. They even warned the South African Government that the Senator had Presidential aspirations.

Senator Barack Obama visited many of the Townships in our country – places that the average visitor to South Africa never visits.

There was hardly any newspaper or TV coverage of his visit. Only one South African Government Official was prepared to meet with the Senator from Illinois.

Our Leaders were just too busy! Too many other important people to be met! Too many other important things to do! This was just another American Senator visiting South Africa!

Little did they realize that this man was to become the next freely elected leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

They were warned but they chose to ignore the possibility that he might become President of his country!

Today, many regret the decision they made two years back to ignore the Senator from Illinois:
"If only – if only we had known who it was that was visiting South Africa – things would have been done differently!"
FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: How does our text compare the opinion of man versus the opinion of a believer?

Should Barack Obama decide to visit South Africa again, I am convinced that things would be different, much different – he will receive red carpet treatment!

But it is too late now – the damage is done!

We thought that he was just another Senator from America!

So many regrets: "If only we had acted differently ... if only we had not ignored him!"

There are some important Spiritual lessons that we can learn from this event and what happened two years ago!

2000 years ago Jesus came to this earth.

Nearby the city of Bethsaida Jesus spoke to a multitude of about 5000 men about the Kingdom of God

Matthew tells us in his Gospel account – there were about 5000 hungry men, besides women and children!

Jesus took five loaves and two fishes and blessed them and broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before this multitude.

What a miracle:
And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
Luke 9:17 KJV
Friend I want to remind you:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Hebrews 13:8 KJV
What Jesus did 2000 years ago – He is still able to do today!

Please don’t lose hope! Whatever your need or problem may be today – Jesus is able to help you!

Put your trust in Him! Prayer moves the hand of Him through whom all things are possible!


Jesus leaves behind the crowd!
While He was alone praying, His disciples with Him He asked them:
"Who do men say that I am?"

They answered and said:
"Some say – John the Baptist!"
"Some say – Elijah!"
"Others say – One of the old prophets who has risen again!
If I ask you today: Who do men say Jesus is? What answer would you receive?

If we ask our Muslim friends they will answer: He was a prophet! They will acknowledge that Jesus was born of a virgin! The only person ever known to be born of a virgin!
And she (Mary) who guarded her virginity. We breathed into her of Our spirit (Gabriel), and made her and her son a sign for the worlds.
Sura 21:91
They acknowledge that Jesus was a sign for the worlds! They even acknowledge that Jesus preformed many miracles! They will acknowledge that He was preferred above other Messengers of God -
Of these Messengers, We have preferred some above others. To some Allah spoke; and some He raised in rank. We gave (Prophet) Jesus, the son of Mary, clear signs and strengthened him with the Spirit of Purity (Gabriel). Had Allah willed, those who succeeded them would not have fought against one another after the clear verses came to them. But they differed among themselves; some believed, and others disbelieved. Yet had Allah willed, they would not have fought against one another. Allah does whatever He will.
Sura 2: 253
BUT they will insist – He was nothing more than a prophet!

Who do men say that Jesus is?
Some will tell you that Jesus was a good Teacher!
His teaching are worth following!
But that is as far as they will go – a good Man – a good teacher!

Jesus then asks:
He said unto them, "But whom say ye that I am?" Peter answering said, "The Christ of God."
Luke 9:20 KJV
I want you to notice something very carefully:
But who do you say I am?
We need to answer this question!

Friend, what is important is not -
Who your parents say Jesus is!
Who you family say Jesus is!
Who your friends say Jesus is!
Or even Who your Church says Jesus is!
The question is Who do you say – Jesus is?
Peter answered: "The Christ of God!"
John the Baptist called out:
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
John 1:29 KJV
Remember when Jesus was baptised:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Matthew 3:16-17 KJV
Jesus told His disciples during the night that He was betrayed:
Jesus saith unto him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6 KJV
The only way to the Father!

The only way to enter the Kingdom of God is by going through the door, into the Lord's sheep pen, and enter into Jesus!

APPLICATION/CHALLENGE: To leaders of South Africa, Obama was a mere human being, just another Senator from America; little did they know that the Senator from Illinois would become the next President of the most powerful nation in the World!

If they had only known!

Friend I want to remind you of something in closing -
The Bible says:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:10
In that day will you call out: If only I realized Who Jesus was!

Today, I was fulfilled my duty as a Preacher of the Gospel!

Jesus is the Son of God – the Saviour of the World!

Listen to the words of Scripture:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 KJV
What must we do?
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:9
Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
Acts 2:38-39 KJV
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Acts 4:12 KJV

Dear friend, do not hesitate to go out to see Him for yourself, do not hesitate one microsecond - seek Him, ask Him to be your Savior and your Lord, seek His forgiveness and live for all eternity with Him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

GENESIS 2:18: ADAM’S DREAM - Or The World’s First & Best Dream

TOPIC: Mother's Day
TITLE: ADAM’S DREAM: Or The World’s First & Best Dream

TEXT: GENESIS 2:18 "It is not good for man to be alone."

Were you aware there are critics of Mother’s Day? Just who are the critics? For the most part they’re women …
There’s the Gay/Lesbian crowd, [It’s irrelevant!] … then there’re the single militants, [It’s not representative!] … the children of abusive mothers, [It’s immoral!] … the career oriented, shaker & mover ladies, [It’s demeaning!] … and there’re the feminist-activist-pro-ERA women, [It’s a ploy by men who want to buy their wives off with a bouquet from the kid at the off ramp or a “Happy Meal” for lunch or a Hallmark computer-generated “thought” once a year!].
As one writer said, “It’s a national neurosis!” We’re becoming so pluralized we’re never going to get together.

It’s all right to wish a woman “Happy Mother’s Day,” if she’s your mother or the mother of your children; just don’t try it with a California-girl on her way to the fitness center! Relax around Mervyns and Food-4-Less, but watch your side mirrors around Nordstroms and Robinsons.

You know the list of “Mother with” awards we usually do. Before you know it we’ll be giving roses for things like, “Mother with the fewest children in the state penitentiary” or “Mother with the most children still living with their biological fathers.”

Well, I’m a critic of “Mother’s Day” too. Oh, I appreciate moms, I loved my mom … this is my first Mother’s Day without her … I even love my mother-in-law. But the day should be “Woman’s Day.” We ought to be honoring the day of God’s great blessing to all men.

Truthfully, I’d rather honor women than mothers. How can we have the latter without the former … and logically this takes us back to the very first woman … Eve, the mother of all women.

I’ve decided, unless there are compelling reasons for doing so, I will no longer preach “special-day” messages … but will instead bring messages that honor the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.

My attitude began to change when I noticed the number of topical or special messages we’re encouraged to bring each year … I count over half of our 52 Sundays! That’s like having a lectionary!

Considering that average attendance among church members is something like 35 times per year, we only get 17.5 hours with you each year. Your TV gets twenty times as much.

Now the church is in competition with the world, the entertainment industry, and the government for the minds and hearts of our people. At that rate we’re losing, and losing badly.

What bothers me is that God has chartered His pastors to feed His sheep. I just can’t see how some of the preaching we feel compelled to bring is doing the flock any good.

So, after today, unless the Lord or common sense tells me to do otherwise, I intend to return to my charter and feed you sheep the unadulterated Word of God.

FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: What does our text tell us about our God?
TRUTH CLAIM/CONTEXT: As far as we know, Adam had no dream when the Lord brought a sleep upon him … at least not until he awakened, … Adam, the first man, awoke to find Eve, the first woman, the first and best dream man ever had.

You see God, who knows everything [and in advance] saw that it was "not good for man to be alone." Any man worth his salt can see that. It’s really hard to be alone, we’d rather adopt a stray at the pound than be found alone.

Then the LORD God said, "I will make him a helper suitable for him." [v.18]

Now today I want to do something I don’t do very often, but before I do, let’s be reminded that we are here to worship God … the one and only living and true God, Almighty God!

Charles Lowery article (not archived that I could find - sorry): What I want to do is read from a tongue in cheek article written by one of the funniest writers to enter Christianity since Glower. The man’s name is Charle’s Lowery, a former Southern Baptist preacher, now psychologist-motivator.

Humor is a good thing, it’s a God send in a world gone nuts … a dying world. And even though we’re here to worship, let’s feel free to laugh … let’s just remember to worship in the midst of our laughter.

FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: What does our text tell us about our God?

A. God cared about man’s feelings … the LORD said, "It is not good for the man to be alone …”
Lowery said that he read that single men commit 80-90% of all crimes in the USA. “So,” he asks, “what do we do? We send them to prison with other men. What we should do is start a dating service, so they can find a good woman.”
B. God allowed Adam to participate in His program …
And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.

All the animals, with their mates, came to Adam to be named by him. And in all of this man was reminded that he alone of all of God’s creatures had no mate.

Not until God had created both man and woman would He say, at the end of the sixth day, “it was very good!” It was not good prior to the existence of woman. God cared!

Only then could God’s program for man unfold to its divinely-instituted conclusion.

“…God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it …” [1:28a]
C. God protected them …
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

Our immediate reaction might be to see this as an anaesthetizing of the man to prevent pain … but this is God not man, there would be no pain of any kind.

God used the sleep as a veil for both the man and the woman. Like a protected “first bike” at Christmas, the Lord kept the man from his prize until it was time to reveal her.

A. God said, “I will make …”
Verse 18b uses a term meaning “fit for” or “corresponding to” or “in likeness.” This suggest that God made a creature worthy of another. Not as a slave as some would suggest, but rather as a mother for a son, or a Queen for a King.
“For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake.”
1 Corinthians 11:8
B. And out of the dirt “the Lord God formed every beast … and bird …”
C. and “God brought them to the man…”
D. God caused a sleep …
E. God built the woman …
F. God brought her to him …
Notice, God "formed" the beasts out of the dirt but "built" (or manufactured) the woman out of man.

APPLICATION/CHALLENGE: Now God first made MAN. Then God made the WOMAN. He made the WOMAN for the MAN in order to MAKE MAN BETTER.
“For a man … is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”
1 Corinthians 11:7

When a thinking person looks objectively at what one is leaving, when he leaves home, one sees that it ought to take a great deal to make him leave. But here in the holy word of God it says, for this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife … .”

What is this “cause”? “Because she was taken out of Man.”

That is, she is a part of man. The man is a part of the earth, but the woman is a part of the man.

So, I conclude God made woman better!

But the bottom-line is found in verse 24b: “… and they shall become one flesh.”

Marriage is a God ordained institution. My heart grieves for those perverting His estate.
  1. Let’s remember that it is not just mothers who ought to be honored, but all women!
  2. And let's remember that Jesus ought to be honored even more!
  3. And let's remember that 35 hours a year is not enough for sheep to stay healthy, so let’s make those hours count … and keep our strength up.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Genesis 1:1-13 - A Tale of Two Fig Leafs

TOPIC: Sanctity of Life;
TITLE: A TALE OF TWO FIG LEAFS – Sanctity of Life Sunday

TEXT: Genesis 1:1-13

Life is precious – Jesus healed and raised people – He valued life.

But "value" of life and "sanctity" of life are different. Value means something has worth … and life does! But sanctity says it's sacred, holy, and related to God somehow.

God gives life and ends life ….
1 Timothy 6:13


Acts 17:25


John 6:63
Jesus said the greatest gift we could give to a brother is our life … and I suppose it is even a greater gift that we can lead them to the giver of eternal life. After all, didn't He say He was "the Life"?

The sanctity of human life speaks of the issues related to life in general but more importantly to the taking of life.

The issue isn't whether we should allow abortion or euthanasia or not, or whether or not it is even right or wrong … the issue is …
You see the issue is sin; the manifest rebellion of the creature against the creator. Peter said it all and best when he told the Sanhedrin, “It is better to fear God than man!”

You simply cannot stop the symptom of the problem unless you attack the cause of it first.

The "Evolution - Creation" controversy! The cornerstone of our faith is dependent on our view of the Word of God: IS IT INERRANT AND WHOLLY APPLICABLE TO YOUR LIFE … OR ISN'T IT?

For the believer, the Word must be the defining quality of the Rock of his faith and trust and hope. Turn to – James 1:13-16.

For the believer life begins at conception! WHY? Because the Word says it does...

What of Jeremiah, of John the Baptist?

This message is to all of us; not just to those who have taken a life. Let me speak to your hearts of three kinds of life, each threatened by unnecessary death.

The three faces of eve ... all three are rooted in "UNBELIEF"

Unbelief (as in my case) can get us to …
  1. The Eve who encourages another to take a life or encourages another to disbelieve God in another area [drinking, smoking, lying, cheating, adultery, gossip, tithing, church attendance]
  2. The Eve who aids in the taking of a life or aids in the committing of any number of other equally God denying sins
  3. The Eve who directly causes the taking of a life or deliberately rebel in another area of sinful disobedience
But, just as Eve, I was shown a way of recovery and reconciliation with God. So too has Eve II. And so too has Eve III.

1. sin is sin; all sin is rooted in unbelief
2. God's never surprised or shocked by our sins
3. some sin incurs harsher judgment [Proverbs 6:27-28; Hebrews; James 3:1]
4. God desires recovery and restoration IF –
1 John 1:9

Proverbs 28:13

c. we, like David, ask to be cleansed and restored

James 4:7
5. Satan desires to hold you ...
a. You can't undo the past, don't try … go on with life.
b. don't quit, keep trying
c. don't be an Ostrich
d. fellowship till it hurts (2 or 3 are better than one)
APPLICATION: The "rights" we hold so dear are simply our selfish and transparent loincloths, our pathetic effort at hiding from God, and our silly attempt at elevating ourselves to equality with God.

Like Adam and Eve, we are bitten by the father of lies. Like them, we deny the Creator and lust after ourselves and the puny work of our hands and minds.

But like Adam and Eve we too are offered a way out. God so loves us that He offers us a way to recover, to be restored to a right relationship, a newness of life. Christ is the Redeemer of all in all situations.


CHALLENGE: But you know there is a greater loincloth at work in the world ... we stand by, deny the Word of God, and let the souls of thousands slide slowly and surely into hell ... what is the greater evil . . .
  1. the fall in the Garden, with its contamination of the souls of all the human race; or
  2. the killing of kids one at a time, knowing that heaven is filled with the sweet sounds of millions of tiny voices as a result, or
  3. the one who knows the truth and stands silent as the screams of billions echoes from the canyon walls of hell?
You decide … come now and acknowledge the Spirit’s convicting power. Which fig leaf is your fig leaf? What are you hiding behind yours?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ACTS 8:9-24 A Magic Act!

SERIES: #16 Acts of the Apostles - Witnesses to Judea & Samaria
TOPIC: Authenticity; Greed, Providence, Regeneration, Salvation, Simony

TITLE: A MAGIC ACT - There's nothing magical about this treasure!
TEXT: Acts 8:9-24
… when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of … hands, he offered … money, saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."
Irony #1 – John and his brother once wanted fire from heaven to rain on these same Samaritans.

Irony #2 – In John 13:6 Peter was told he had no part of Jesus if he refused to surrender to God's will.

A tale of two Simons … Simon Peter and Simon Magnus, the later is much like not a few contemporary charlatans.

This passage gives us several pictures to think on …
The heart …
  • Ground of salvation
  • Measure of man’s treasure
The “Second Blessing” …
  • The nature of God … a giver
The nature of salvation … a gift …
  • False conversions
[MENACE] In the movie version of Dennis the Menace, there’s a scene where Mr. Wilson (Walter Matthau) wants to stop Dennis’ cheating in a game of hide-n-seek.

Dennis had recruited his cross-eyed buddy, Gunther, to watch where people hide and then tell him after the count; Wilson calls out to Gunther, “Gunther, your daddy just called and wants to take you to the ice cream store. You better run home.”

Now Gunther won’t run to the Mitchell home nor to a neighbor’s home nor to Wilson back yard. Why not? Because his father holds the key to what he wants … he’d run home as fast as he could to get that ice cream.
Everyone has expectations; some false expectations, they’re never satisfied … “someday my ship will come in.”

Unlike Gunther, they’ll run to every port but the right one to find their ship … all the while God is blowing the horn on the Royal Yacht.

Motivational speakers will encourage you to use positive thinking to motivate your self-actualization; this places us on the horizontal … our reward is in heaven, not on this earth; this denies the role of God in the destiny of man.
“Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?”
Proverbs 20:24
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

“The naive believes everything, But the prudent man considers his steps.”
Proverbs 14:15
This is a story about a man (and others) who did not grasp these truths; oh, he said he did but the text and history tells a different story.

FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: What do we know about Simon?
"Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great."
Acts 8:9
We know it was a searching life – but he didn’t know for what!
We know it was a gifted life – but he didn’t know for what!
We know it was a successful life – but he didn’t know the source of success!
“Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.”
Acts 8:13
We know God sent him Philip – but he didn’t hear him!
We know God sent him The Word – but he didn’t understand Him!
We know God sent him the Holy Spirit – but he didn’t receive Him!
[DEAD OR ALIVE] A friend’s husband snored, till he had a heart attack; to help him sleep a doctor prescribed a muscle relaxant; his snoring stopped.

Prior to this, his snoring let her know he was at least alive; now she has to poke him to know.
I’ve seen so many people walk the aisle, pray the prayer, get baptized, then claim the name of Jesus who must be poked to see if they have the new life.

Christianity is used by some as a religious muscle relaxant … manifesting no Spirit-filled, animated, Pentecostal life.

God doesn’t relax our muscles to make us stop sinning, He makes “a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,”
Acts 8:18
We know he was promised a eternal life – but he wanted a temporal life!
We know he was promised an exciting life – but he wanted a lucrative life!
We know he was promised to be a power-filled life – but he wanted an admired life!
We know he was a rich life – but he wanted his inheritance in this life!
APPLICATION: Something went wrong here …

Simon …
Believed …
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."
John 1:12
Romans 10:11
But did not receive …
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Romans 8:9
Peter’s remarks – “gall of bitterness” and “bond of iniquity” are Old Testament phrases used in cases involving “serious offenses.”

J. B. Philips says Peter’s remarks ARE tantamount to “To h__ with you and your money!”

In my opinion - Simon’s response to Peter is more of a threat than an entreaty. He had lost his following; tradition holds that he saw Philip and the others as a way to recover lost revenue. He was evidently a wealthy magician.

When the time came for Simon to bear evidence of his regeneration he showed instead that he did not have a relationship with Jesus.

Principle – if something is wrong with the heart upon believing, that something can keep one out of heaven.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
John 2:23-25
He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean."
John 13:6-11
Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus *said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
John 20:28-29
"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.‘”
Matthew 7:16-23

ACTS 8:4-5 (1-8) - A Great Day!

Series: #15 Acts of the Apostles - Witnesses to All Judea and Samaria
TOPIC: Sovereignty (of God); Providence, Will (of God)

TITLE: A GREAT DAY - Being Blown Around a Corner for God's Glory!
TEXT: Acts 8:4-5 (1-8)
Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.
FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: How was the day of dispersion a great day?

Notice … (recall the threefold theme of the Acts of the Apostles) …
1) The preeminence of the Living Lord
2) the prominence of the Holy Spirit, and
3) the power of the Authentic Church
Add the privilege of persecution* of the Body (*severe opposition to the message) ...

The “witness” to Jerusalem is past … the maturing church now sent to Judea and Samaria (chapters 8-12, north and south) ... the “remotest part of the earth” is next (13-28) ... what is seen is God’s providential will at work.

Notice all was well with the growth of the church … but with Stephen’s death, Saul began to intensely persecute and scatter them. Yet it was God not Saul who actually set the wildfire behind the people ... but like the deer in wildfire, they had a River of Life to count on.

Go back and reread Stephen’s proclamation in Acts 6.

Isn’t this reminiscent of the Lord’s dispersion of Israel through their Babylonian captivity?

“God sometimes has to act through disagreeable circumstances in order to compel His saints to work in accordance with His plans ….” [H. A. Ironside p.176]
God kick-starts His outreach to the world through the fires of persecution; God only sees His plan, His mind is turned toward all men everywhere at all times!

Saul meant it for evil but God meant it for good; like Joseph’s brothers … like Joseph ...
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Genesis 50:20
“How often has the rage of Christ's enemies thus ‘turned out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel’.” [Jamieson]
“Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.”
Acts 8:4-5
These were lay people “preaching (euaggelizō; declaring Good News) the word” and “proclaiming (kērussō; heralding) Christ.”
Not a popular message today; reading contemporary Christian literature suggests it isn’t well received among my brethren.
“Wind spreads the flame.” [Bengel]

“Their hearts were full … out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; and they made the truth known to ‘all’” [Barnes]
[CHINA] In 1949 the communist wildfire overthrew the Chinese nationalist government … 637 China Inland Missions missionaries were expelled; they went to Japan and throughout Southeast Asia. Not only did new works start all over Asia, but the Chinese church grew geometrically and she remains a thorn in the commies’ side to this day.
Satan intended eradication; instead he got dispersion.
Preaching by the “laity” was begun ... Philip was one of the seven chosen to minister as deacons in the church in Jerusalem. He was the only one specifically identified as an evangelist in the New Testament; he became one of our great evangelists.
The text says, they “with one accord were giving attention,” literally taking their minds captive [Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5].
“And there was much rejoicing in that city.”
Jesus said, 'I am come to send fire on the earth'; Saul and his cohorts thought, if they scattered those kindled with that fire, to have put it out, but instead of they spread the fire every where in Judea and Samaria. [Henry; paraphrased]
APPLICATION: The key element for the church is the joy which resulted from its ravaging by Saul and his minions.

Often God’s enemies see nothing but scorched earth before them; but God sees the seeds of new life below the ash and destruction. The Bible tells us the church in pain and in flight finds joy in the end.

I conclude there is greater joy to be found; in reality I don’t find this to be true.

So I must admit to praying for greater persecution in order that she might have greater dispersion, greater proclamation where dispersed, that greater attention would be paid to her, and that we might all find greater cause for jubilation.

“Whenever the church is governed from Jerusalem, or from Rome, of from anywhere … other than heaven, it is hindered and hampered and prevented from fulfilling the great functions of its life” [G. Campbell Morgan, p. 195]

“Effective evangelism is possible only when the church recovers both (1) the biblical gospel and (2) a joyful confidence in its truth, relevance and power.” [Stott, p. 144, paraphrased]
The Church is much like Israel fresh from Egyptian bondage seeking a king … not understanding she has the King of kings.

When returning home; go to church to worship, but leave to reach the lost … the flames of hell are pursuing them.

ACTS 7:58-60 - They Cast Stones

Series #14: Acts of the Apostles - Witnesses to Jerusalem
TOPIC: Consecration; Heritage, Matyrdom, Persecution, Sacrifice

THEY CAST STONES - He Cast Eyes On Heaven!
TEXT: Acts 7:58-60 (54-60]
When they’d driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep.
[HERITAGE] This passage reminded me of a dear friend B. T. Austin (95) and he reminds me of Veterans Day; this is Veterans Day in the US.

B. T. was of the Texas Austins, the thirteenth of sixteen kids; he wrote an Austin family history and let me read it, he mentions Armistice Day; aka Veterans Day. Prior to 1954 we celebrated Armistice Day instead of Veterans Day …

Being reminded of this caused me to consider how easy it is to forget our heritage … the armistice ending WWI was signed in 1918. He said they had a saying to remind them: “the 11th month, the 11th day, and the 11th hour.” He remembered it well … he was eleven.

He and his mother were sleeping on blankets in the town square in Portales, NM; people ran into the street firing guns and setting off fire crackers. They hung an effigy of Kaiser Wilhelm in the square and shot it up while it burned.

Veterans Day is to remind us of those who served in the American armed forces in wartime (now peace time too). We’ve another day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice … Memorial Day.
Luke, the author of Acts, records Stephen’s martyrdom as an example of giving our lives for the cause of Christ … and, on lesser scale, how to die with dignity and grace.

Let’s move to our text …
(54) “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.”
Anger wells up in the heart of those who live by the flesh … righteousness wells up in the heart of the one who lives by the Spirit ...
(55) “But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; (56) and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’”
Stephen’s eyes turned upward, on the things of God; their eyes turned outward, looking for rocks ...
(57) “But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears, and they rushed upon him with one impulse. (58) And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”
Those who gave testimony were required by law to cast the first stones at the condemned.
“The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Deuteronomy 17:7
The first was to hit him in the chest with a small boulder to knock him to his “loins”; the second was to hit him on the head ...
(59) “And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’”
If he survived the first two …the other witnesses were to follow; then, if still alive, the congregation would follow ...
(60) “And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And having said this, he fell asleep.”
The Law kills, but the Spirit gives life.

FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: What great teachings of our faith may be gleaned from our text?
(56) “... he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’”
Irony: Stephen stood condemned, without justice or mercy … yet he’ll soon intercede with heaven for them ... while Christ stood before the Judge Most High, in Court of courts, interceding for him.

And He is ready to intercede for us …
“Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
Romans 8:34
[Albert Barnes] “... seeing that there was no safety in the Great Council of the nation, and no prospect of justice at their hands, he cast his eyes to heaven and sought protection there. When dangers threaten us, our hope of safety lies in heaven. When people threaten our persons, reputation, or lives, it becomes us to fix our eyes on the heavenly world; and we shall not look in vain.”
(59) “And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’”
The word “God” (i.e., theos) is not in the record to support its inclusion here; thus we can say a godly man, in his dying moments, would turn to his god … Stephen turned to his “Lord Jesus”.

Only God forgives sin, only God is prayed to; Jesus the Christ is God, Stephen addressed Him as God!
Again verse 59 ...

If we accept Stephen is a man “full of the Spirit and wisdom,” yet facing certain death then we must accept such a man would not err in his theology or offer up his spirit to God in the event he didn’t believe in its immaterial and eternal nature.

So, we must accept Stephen believed in the immateriality and eternality of his spirit; and as Christ gave His spirit to God the Father, Stephen gave his spirit to God the Son.
Again verse 59 ...
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
Romans 8:2
For the same reasons as our last point Stephen’s actions and words confirm this reality.
(60) “And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And having said this, he fell asleep.”
We must not continue our debt of forgiveness of others at the moment of our death.

Stephen follows Christ’s example; we ought to follow the examples of both.

Though there is no remission of sin in the forgiveness of others by fallen men, there is settling of accounts and cleansing of sorts.
APPLICATION: If man honors the sacrifice of others how much more should the church remember those who’ve sacrificed for her?

Stephen’s example reminds us of what others have done to preserve that freedom; as in the days after Joshua’s judging Israel, people arise in every era who know not Joshua.

Where there’s no sense of investment, there’s no motivation for preservation.

Our Lord and His martyrs are His legacy and that legacy is in His church; that legacy is wrapped up in His deity, the sufficiency of His victory over sin and death, and the immateriality and eternality of man’s spirit. Ain’t that great?

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:10-12

Thursday, November 08, 2007

ACTS 7:50-53 - Are These Things So!

SERIES #13: ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Witnesses to Jerusalem
TOPIC: Sovereignty (of God); idolatry, sin (Victimless-), will (Providential - of God)

TITLE: ARE THESE THINGS SO? An application from the Older Testament!
TEXT: Acts 7:50-53 (1-53)

Stephen closes his proclamation with a quote from Isaiah 66:2 - "WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?" … then says …
"You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?

“They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it."
TRUTH CLAIM: Stephen clearly and pointedly attacks Israel's history of idolatry and rebellion from the Hebrew scriptures ...
Idolatry: “image-worship or divine honour paid to any created object”
[Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary]
Here is seen a perfect display of our three-fold theme in the Acts of the Apostles …
The Preeminence of The Living Lord
The Prominence of The Holy Spirit
The Power of The Authentic Church
This is the only known sermon (Acts 7:1-53) of Stephen and it reveals …
  • a focus on Israel missing their Meshuah
  • a stress on Spirit’s repeated blessings and warnings
  • a fearless (powerful) witness from the authentic church
Stephen is asked: “Are these things so?”

Remember: Stephen not a natural Jew; a Greek convert to Judaism (or perhaps raised amongst the Diaspora)

However: his grasp of Jewish history and Old Testament teaching is flawless; not to mention his grasp of the meaning of texts

So: put yourself in the council’s shoes …
  • they knew the older testament better, right?
  • think of their years of study under Israel’s best
  • this young, Hellenist-upstart threatened their power, privilege, position, and possessions
The Charge: accusers charge he is inciting an insurrection in order to …
  • destroy the temple [believed to be a sign of God’s departure from Israel; 6:14] and
  • change (do away with) the Law of Moses [believed to be essential to godly living and daily blessing; 6:13]
Stephen's countercharges: his response is ...
  • pointed (through the Word)
  • powerful (through humility)
  • patriotic (through faith)
  • personal (through the Holy Spirit)
Religious Idolatry: four areas addressed (all of works, not grace) –
  • Their Lineage (worship of human ability; the flesh) [2-8]
  • Their Land (worship of earthly Israel and her patriarchs) [9-38]
  • Their Law (worship of the law; remember the law is for the lawless) [37-43]
  • Their Legacy (worship of and hope in a temporal end) [44-53]
In Detail:
  • God calls and directs their fathers [2-16]
  • God protects and delivers their fathers [17-41]
  • God tries and tests their fathers [42-44]
  • God delivers their fathers’ possession [45]
  • God establishes roots for their fathers [46-47]
  • God reveals His nature to their fathers [48-49]
  • God reminds them who has done this [50]
Interesting is how Sthephen uses parallels and contrasts to make his point …
  • For example – similarity between Hebrew children’s rejection of Moses [39] (“ruler and judge”) and their rejection of Christ Jesus [51,52]
  • Another – Aaron’s calf “the works of their hands” in the wilderness [40-41] and the temple “made by human hands” [47]
  • Another – Solomon (the son) builds temple with human hands [47] rather than David (the father), contrasted with the Son of God building temple not made with hands rather than the Father [48]
FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: What aspects of Stephen’s sermon are directly applicable to our situation in our context?
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.'
John 8:12
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”
Ephesians 4:1
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps”
1Peter 2:21
"And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
Luke 24:49

“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
2 Peter 3:13

“This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.”
1 John 2:25
A Linage:
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’”
Romans 8:15
A Land:
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”
John 14:2
A Law:
“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF," you are doing well. … So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty”
James 2:8, 12
A Legacy:
“to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”
1 Peter 1:4

The presence and glory of God cannot be confined to a specific place, no matter how holy! God’s people have consistently and constantly resisted His messengers.

Even the most hallowed religious paraphernalia and rituals can be and often are abused.

Moses’ “Righteous One” of Israel is the target of the entire Law and Prophets … this is Jesus the Son of God, who we know as Father.
The Father of “The Linage”, the Creator of “The Land,” the Giver of “The Law,” and the Lord of “The Legacy” which must be venerated!
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
Hebrews 4:1-2
APPLICATION/CHALLENGE: Stephen didn’t condemn his persecutors ...
  • or insist the Jews had no right to possess the Promise Land, or
  • or curse the desirability of a divine code to live by,
  • or their having a house of worship …
Instead he condemned the veneration of these things above the Provider and Object of the things.

Stephen’s objective was to twofold –

  1. to counter charges with historical facts and
  2. to confront sin with truth [Swindoll]
Everywhere the Western church venerates ancestors, engages in uppity nationalism, covets and craves property, while pursuing a personal legacy ...

Legalism (in the form of legislative entitlements) is running rampant in every public and private venue; and it encroaches on the church ...

The building of mega-church complexes and communities (which suck life out of the authentic church) is continuous ...

Boundaries established by God in ages past are being moved or destroyed at will in this age ...

My concern is for what I call victimless-sin … sins like Israel’s … so egregious to the Father ...

Yet, to Joe Christian
, they are viewed as harmless and not worthy of concern (e.g., homosexuality, Internet pron, recreational drugs and drinking, gossip, tale-bearing, backbiting, the "virtual" denial of Jesus as Lord, virtual-paganism, virtual-atheism, relativism, political correctness, aberrant worldviews, etc.)

How are we giving God glory for His eternal home, His grace, and His promises?
"So if you’ve been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is …. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things of earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ …. When Christ … is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. So consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed which amount to idolatry."
Colossians 3:1-5
[my partial paraphrase]

Monday, October 29, 2007

ZEPHANIAH 3:1-2 Examine Thyself!

TOPIC: Apostasy; Self-examination

TITLE: Examine Thyself!
TEXT: Zephaniah 3:1-2
“Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, The tyrannical city! She heeded no voice; She accepted no instruction. She did not trust in the LORD; She did not draw near to her God.”
CONTEXT: After the reigns of David and Solomon, the nation Israel fell into a declining spiral of arrogance, apostasy, intrigue, idolatry, collapse, lamentation, searching, revival, and restoration … only to repeat the process.

Verse 1 says they had become an oppressive, rebellious, and defiled (blood-stained) society [the Hebrew says: filthy and polluted].

In verses1-5, Israel is judged according to the privilege granted her … as are all nation before and since. Her ruling classes had rejected any critique of their behavior or beliefs.

Israel trusted in her wealth, her military, and her alliances.

In verses 2:1-3:8, we see the earth and all her nations judged according to her privilege.

The verbs in verse 2 are participles, and carry the sense of present and continuous practice.

"Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, 'I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.'"
2 Chronicles 7:12-16
The value of Zephaniah for the church is prophetic ... remember - God is unchanging (immutable)!

FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: What does God hate to find in his people ... what really grieves Him?
Each of the following phrases is negative …
I. He hates to find a people who will not listen!
II. He hates to find a people who will not learn!
III. He hates to find a people without an eternal foundation!
IV. He hates to find a people who do not fear Him!
Notice the first two are indicative of Israel’s stubbornness; while in the second two the Hebrew is reverse, implying a particular kind of rebellion.

The ultimate question is “Will any nation which behaves in this way survive God’s wrath!” But today's question is simply -

FOUNDATIONAL INQUIRY: What does God hate to find in his people ... what really grieves Him?
I. He hates to find a people who will not listen!
Who are independent and self-reliant; who have misunderstood His blessings as a sign of their own cleverness!

Israel was that kind of people!

Consider our present post-Christian Era.
II. He hates to find a people who will not learn!
Who have no desire to learn or grow.

Israel was that kind of people! Refusing the Lord’s discipline!

Consider our present post-Christian Era.
III. He hates to find a people without an eternal foundation!
Who have a foundation of sand, who are not built upon The Rock. [Matthew 7:24-27]

Israel was that kind of people!

Consider our present post-Christian Era.
IV. He hates to find a people who do not fear Him!
Who will not draw near to Him in awe and reverence!

Who will not humble themselves before their Creator.

Israel was that kind of people!

Involves the acts of worship and service, prayer and praise.

They took the Lord's name in vain … in an irreverent or dishonoring way.

Consider our present post-Christian Era.
APPLICATION: Israel, especially her leaders, didn’t see the relationship between their current problems and God’s displeasure … thus they did not see their actions or philosophies as sin. Kind of like a pharaoh who did not know Joseph [Exodus 1:8].

Why? Because ...
[the righteous man’s] delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”
Psalms 1:2
... and ours is not! No wonder our righteousness is like a filthy rag.

The leaders of Israel were not God-fearers. Only in name! A violation of the commandment not to take the name of God in vain.

I personally fear Western Civilization (and most of the church) has fallen into a declining spiral just as Israel did … I fear she –
1) no longer heeds the voice of God or anyone else; heeding only its own voice

2) is no longer educable in the sense of receiving instruction
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:17
God’s word has become anathema to them.

3) no longer has a rock foundation ...

You see we’ve always known that we can’t expect every American to have saving or even living faith in God; but if the nation herself, meaning the majority of the people and the “ruling class,” were to have a solid moral and God fearing foundation … well??)

4) no longer fears God or even accepts His existence, and will not draw near to Him.

It can be said: “Any ship of state manned by a blind crew will certainly end up on the rocks but not on the Rock.” [quote me on that]
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
James 4:8
CHALLENGE: We must focus on things above, not on things of this world.

The final discipline of God, the one which has brought the true promise of peace to all men, fell on the shoulders of the Lamb of God, His “suffering servant” our Savior.
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5

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