Praise God

Scripture: I Peter 1:3-9…NLT

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 
4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 
5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. 
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 
7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 
9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls

INTRODUCTION

Verse 3-9 in one paragraph in the Greek. I was struggling with the homoletics of this passage and New American Commentary gave me light. The theme of the passage is found in verse 3 where most translation read, Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ. The NLT and the NIV read…All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word is familiar: it is eulogētos from which we get our word eulogy. It means to be blessed, adored, honored or praised.

In this paragraph, we find FIVE THINGS to praise God for…

I. FIRST, WE PRAISE GOD FOR HIS ABUNDANT MERCY [v.3]

The word abundant is an adjective that is used often in the NT and is translated many different ways:

  • Matthew 3:7–But when he saw many G4183 of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
  • Matthew 4:25–Large G4183 crowds followed Him from Galilee and theDecapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
  • Matthew 5:12–“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is greatG4183 for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • Matthew 6:30–“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much G4183 more clothe you? You of little faith!

As you can see, God’s Mercy is much more than we can imagine: it is great beyond our ability to comprehend. As the NLT reads, It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve which is death and hell. Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve which is heaven and eternal life. Mercy is an attribute of God: He is merciful and this mercy is in infinite supply which is how it can endure from generation to generation.

II. WE PRAISE GOD WHO IS OUR LIVING HOPE OR GREAT EXPECTATION

Due to God’s great mercy, our New Birth, and the resurrection of Christ: we now having LIVING HOPE. Peter says in 1:23…For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.  We have a living hope based on the living Word and a living Savior.


Let me tell you why HOPE is so vital…Hope sees beyond the suffering, the pain to our future glory. The writer of Hebrews has some words of encouragement for us… So let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up

  • Jesus endured the cross: He didn’t enjoy it.
  • Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that awaited Him afterwards.
  • Hope enables us to look beyond our present suffering.
  • A person without HOPE will give up.

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist, survived two death camps. Those were horrible times but Frankl didn’t waste his sorrows. He learned from his sorrow and others and brought the world of counseling into a new era. Frankl said, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” A man needs a purpose to survive, he needs a hope based on something beyond himself. If a man loses hope, he is finished. Frankl witnessed the brutality against the prisoners who had given up. The guards beat them with rifle butts but to no avail, they might groan in pain but they would not get up.

We praise the LORD for His Great Mercy and for Our Living Hope…

III. WE PRAISE GOD FOR A PRICELESS INHERITANCE [v.4]

Peter tells us four things about this fabalous inheritance:  incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 

  1. It is incorruptible–it will not perish or die.
  2. It is undefiled–it can’t be soiled, stained or contaminated in any way.
  3. It is unfading–not subject to age or decay. It will not lose its luster.
  4. It is reserved–under guard. A friend and I drove to Dr. Graham’s visitation last month, we left after he got off from work and drove all night. He had made us a reservation at a motel. We got there at 2:00 in the morning: our paper work was all filled out; they were simply waiting for us to arrive and claim our room.

I don’t know what heaven is going to be like. I don’t have mind enough to describe and you don’t have enough mind to take it in if I could. I know it is INFIFNITE. I know it will not be a disappointment, not going to be anti-climatic. I know it will be a place of rest: no more battles with the flesh, Satan or temptation. I know that God saves the best for last.

IV. PRAISE GOD FOR PERSEVERING FAITH

I really struggled with verse 5…NKJV….Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time….NLT…And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. The same word is used here that is used in Philippians 4:7…And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard G5432 your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The question is: who is acting and who is being acted upon? The NLT makes it clear that God is the ONE protecting or guarding and our faith is the object. God is guarding our faith. Herein lies the doctrine of the PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.

There are several things about this faith that are exciting:

  1. It’s a faith that leads to SALVATION [V.5]
  2. Its a faith that produces JOY [V.6]
  3. It’s an ENDURING faith [V.6]
  4. It’s a faith that can be TESTED [v.7]
  5. It’s a PRECIOUS faith. [v.7]
  6. It’s a PRODUCTIVE faith. [v.7]
  7. It’s a PERSONAL faith. [v.8]

We praise God for His Great Mercy, our Living Hope, our Priceless Inheritance, our protected and precious faith and finally…

V. FINALLY, PRAISE GOD FOR OUR EVERLASTING REWARD

I don’t know whether you realize it or not but the greater part of our Salvation is future; has not been revealed to us at this time. Salvation encompasses all three tenses of time: Past, Present and Future. Let me give you a little H.H. Hobbs theology…

  • Salvation is past–I have been saved—regeneration/our spiritual birth/instantaneous
  • Salvation is present–I am being saved—sanctification/becoming like Christ/progressive
  • Salvation is future–I will be saved—glorification/final perfection

The first two aspects, the one we are experiencing now are earthly in a sense but the final aspect is heavenly. There is no comparison, the best and biggest is yet to come.

Conclusion

Remember the story of the Christian woman who was buried with her fork in her hand. She had been told most of her life by her mom to save her fork for dessert so she wanted to be burried with her fork in hand…symbolizing the best was yet to come.

Advertisements

Jesus Wept

Scripture: John 11:20-34

20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house.
21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.
22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”
29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him.
31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there.
32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and He was deeply troubled.
34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Then Jesus wept.

INTRODUCTION

Let me say in passing, that Jesus heard Mary and Martha’s prayer sent while Lazarus was still alive but He delayed His coming. To Jesus, the end was always in view whereas Mary and Martha were locked into the present moment {like we are today}. This is a reminder: Jesus always hears our prayers but He answers them with the end in mind which may mean a delay for us. It is a testimony to His infinite wisdom and love.

I want to call your attention to verse 35, two word translation, “Jesus wept.” Thus the question, “Why did Jesus weep?”

  1. Jesus wept because He loved Mary and Martha. Tears are an expression of grief and grief is an expression of love. He who loves deeply, grieves deeply. He who loves little, grieves little.
  2. Jesus wept because He cared. He was not indifferent to their grief. He knew what was going on and He stood with them, even weeping with them. Sorrowing along side them. Sharing their grief.
  3. Jesus wept because He empathized, He actually felt their pain. So family, treasure these three thoughts: [1] Jesus loves you [2] He cares about you this very moment [3] He feels your pain. He is invested in you. He shares your sorrow.
As I was reading this passage this very morning, it was the different responses to Jesus presence and person that struck me.

Response # 1: Mary and Martha ‘blamed’ Jesus…If you had been here, our brother would not have died. [v. 21 & 32]


They knew without doubt that Jesus could heal a sick body but He did not arrive in time to heal Lazarus so they blamed Jesus for his death. Jesus could have prevented him from dying. Why wasn’t you here? You could have kept this from happening.

Response #2…Martha doubted Jesus…”But LORD” [v.39]

“But LORD,” said Martha, “by this time there is an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus had just told Martha that HE WAS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. The resurrection is more than a day or an event, Jesus is the resurrection. “He that believes in Me,” Jesus said, “will live even if he dies. ” Martha had faith but not perfect faith, she believed that Jesus was the Messiah but she was having trouble believing that He could raise the dead. She believed that He was greater than sickness but she was struggling with death. All of us struggle with death. Death can create a lot of doubt. Death has a frightening face, it appears grim and final but it is neither. Jesus can take the sting out of death. Actually He has done it already.


What about your faith? You say, “I don’t have any faith.” Are you sure? Do you believe that Jesus lived on this earth? Do you believe that He is the Son of God? Do you believe that He died on a cross? See, you do have some faith. You are like Martha and me, you have faith, just not perfect faith. What you need to embrace today is the fact that JESUS LOVES YOU PERSONALLY and that He died on the cross in your behalf because He loves you that much.

Response # 3… MANY BELIEVED IN HIM. [v.45]

It took the death of Lazarus to open the eyes of many of Mary and Martha’s friends. When they saw Jesus love at the grave side…and His power over death…they believed. Would you open your eyes today and see Jesus standing beside you weeping with you because He loves you. If His love does not move you, there is little hope. I assure you, JESUS LOVES YOU and I beg you to put your faith in HIM.


Don’t put any faith in me. I am less than nothing. In math, we can’t go lower than zero but I am telling you, I am less than zero. I love you…I sympathize with you…I empathize with you…I feel some of your pain but my puny love and sympathy is not even a scratch on the surface of HIS INFINITE LOVE for you. That word infinite means that the gap is so big, it cannot be measured. If my love were a 1, HIS LOVE would not be a zillion times greater, it would be more. We don’t have a number big enough to describe His love for you.

Response # 4….Some plotted to take HIS life [v. 53]

The Pharisees, the leading Jews {elites} began from this day, to conspire against Jesus and plot His death. They became JESUS HATERS.


Our world is filled with Jesus haters but you don’t want to be one of them.


In the end, we will all stand before God in judgment and everything will be determined by how we related to Jesus. The one thing you want to get right today is your relationship with Jesus. Don’t blame HIM, don’t doubt Him, don’t hate HIM…put your faith and trust in HIM.

The Great Amen

II Corinthians 1:19-22, NLT

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory. 21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

II Corinthians 1:21-22, NRSV

21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22 by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

The Message

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

Four things God does for us in Christ:

  1. He Establishes Us.
  2. He Anoints Us.
  3. He Seals Us.
  4. He Guarantees Us. 

INTRODUCTION

People who waver and waffle are unsure of themselves; they have a huge lack of confidence. Paul was very confident in his identity in Christ. As he gives personal testimony about himself, he at the same time teaches the Corinthians how to be confident in their faith and relationship with Christ.

The word “Amen” is a word of affirmation: used at the beginning of a sentence, it means – surely, truly, of a truth: at the end – so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.

God has affirmed all His promises in Christ: Jesus has made them so but it does not end there–Jesus also affirms us.

We can be confident that all God’s promises are made true in Christ. Examples:

  • Genesis 3:15–And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seedHe shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” The male carries the seed [virile semen], not the woman. This is the first prophecy of the virgin birth. Jesus was born without Mary being impregnated with the seed of a man.
  • Genesis 22:18– In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.
  • Isaiah 9:6-7–For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

[This is three among hundreds of Messianic Promises]

TRANSITION

Lets examine the four promises Paul mentions here in 2 Corinthians 1

I. GOD ESTABLISHES US

  • The NLT–enables us
  • The NIV–makes us able to stand
  • The NASB–establishes us
  • The AV–anoints us
  • The Holman–strengthens

The Greek word is bebaioō, to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure. If I understand correctly, the word has to do with establishing a person or thing on the proper foundation. What is the one thing we need to sure up our faith? What do we need to establish us on the proper foundation? I think the answer is TRUTH. The truth of the gospel and the truth of God’s word and especially, His promises. I think this is exactly what Russel Carter had in mind when he wrote the hymn STANDING ON THE PROMISES

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
through eternal ages let his praises ring;
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God.  

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love’s strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God.

We are established by the truth of God’s word and especially His promises.

II. GOD ANOINTS US

The Greek word anoint is chriō–consecrating for office, and furnishing with the necessary powers for its administration, enduing Christians with the gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable. Christ, our ultimate example was ‘Anointed.’

  • Acts 4:27–The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ [Anointed, chriō].’ {Psalm 2:1-2]
  • Acts 10:38–And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
  • Luke 4:18–“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.”  [Isaiah 61:1]
  • Hebrews 1:9–You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else. [Psalm 45:7]

The scriptures make it abundantly clear that Jesus is the Anointed One but He has anointed us, He has set us apart for His service. He had commissioned us to fulfill His task. I John 2:20 the scripture reads, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. [NIV]

Christ has called us, set us aside for His service and He has gifted us with the Holy Spirit who is our anointing, our enabling power to carry out His will on this earth.

III. GOD SEALS US

Our word today would be Stamp, God gives us His stamp of approval. Years ago I bought a truck load of lumber from a lumber yard in Vinemont. This lumber is what I call #4 or cull. You can get #1 and 2 at a regular lumber yard. The lumber I bought did not make the grade, it did not meet grading approval, he had no stamp. When they grade it, they stamp it and prepare it for shipping.

We all understand how the postal system works: we put an address on an envelope and stamp it, put it in the mail box with the flag up and it is ready to go. It is simply awaiting the arrival of the post man. In ancient times, they used hot wax and a stamp. This would identify ownership before shipment.

I love Ephesians 4:30 where Paul writes, Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Christ has put His mark on us: we are signed, sealed and ready for delivery. Our destination is set and secure. Our ship has not arrived at port but we are stamped and ready for departure to our final destination. Obviously, we can stamp our self: this is Christ work of grace and we should glory in it.

IV. GOD GIVE US A GUARANTEE

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22 by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. [NRSV]

Ephesians 1:13-14

13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession,to the praise of His glory.

This first installment or pledge is earnest money given as a pledge or down payment that the full amount will subsequently be paid. 

When we make a down payment, the product is held by the seller until we return with the full amount. The same principle applies in engagement rings. When a man gives and engagement ring, it shows that he is in earnest. 

God has given us His Spirit to show that He is earnest or pledge.

16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

The Greek word for ‘Helper’ is paraklētos, a compound verb which means to stand along side of; it is translated both ‘Comforter’ and ‘Advocate’ by the AV. The NLT translates it ‘Helper’ but the NRSV and NASB both use the word ‘Advocate’ which I prefer. When we think of Christ or the Holy Spirit as being our advocates, we are thinking a  person who publicly supports or recommends our particular cause or policy but actually the Holy Spirit advocates in Jesus behalf as well. In brief, Jesus has an advocate indwelling you, someone to plead His cause. This means, if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, you will have some evidence of His presence….

  • The Holy Spirit will be an Antagonist against the flesh and sin. You will have an abiding conscientiousness of sin. In other words, sin will bother you. Paul said in Galatians 5:16-17… But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
  • The Holy Spirit will be an Advocate for Jesus. You will not forget your identity or to whom you belong. “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” John 16:13-15… But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
  • The Holy Spirit is our Assistant [Helper]. He guides us to truth. 
    • John 14:16-17…I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
    • [Luke 21:14-15] So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.
    • [John 14:25-26] “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

CONCLUSION

The Holy Spirit is our enabler, our anointing. How can we carry out our LORD’s orders? He enables us with His Spirit. I’ve been attending church all my life. You do not have to have supernatural enablement to attend church but sharing your faith with others is a different matter. Witnessing has always been a greater challenge to me than preaching and I need divine enablement to preach.

The average Christ does not see any need to be filled with the Holy Spirit: we do very little that requires the Spirit’s help but when you get ready to knock on doors, you will pray for filling. 

I began sharing my faith as a late teenager and I had a very good teacher. I can remember the first time he allowed me to present. The house has long since been torn down but I can take you to the spot. We were doing follow up on VBS and this little 12 year old boy was ready. We sat down with him and Bro. Inman said to my shock and surprise, Jack is going to lead you through the scriptures and show you how to be saved. Bro. Inman had not given me the slightest hint that he was going to hand me this tremendous responsibility. I swallowed hard and took a few deep breaths. What happened next shocked me even more than Bro. Inman’s announcement. I shared verse after verse that I didn’t even know I knew. Actually, I was sharing the same verses that Bro. Inman used. I had heard them so many times, I knew them by heart.

When we got in the car to leave, I was elated. Not only had the boy prayed to receive Christ, the Holy Spirit had taken control my tongue and used me to guide him to Christ. I knew in an instant that this was the work of the Spirit in conjunction with God’s word and our willingness to be instruments.