Overwhelming Grace

SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:20-24

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

INTRODUCTION

Today, we come back to the heart of Luke 15 and to the heart of the FATHER. Jesus told this story because the Jews had a twisted view of God. Jesus is trying to convey a truth that the Pharisees and Scribes don’t understand: God is a loving God full of compassion, just like this father WHO OVERWHELMED HIS SON WITH GIFTS OF GRACE.

TRANSITION

Today I want to jump right into the message with no introduction

I. I WANT TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO THE GIVER OF THE GIFTS

  • Yes God the heavenly Father is Holy and He cannot be touched or tempted by sin. Sin must be dealt with. We can’t sweep it under a rug.
  • But He is also good, good to all [this father was good to both sons].
  • He is filled with love and compassion. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. He gets no kick out of the condemnation of a sinner.
  • He longs to forgive, He anxiously awaits our repentance.
  • His heaven rejoices over the repentance of ONE sinner and today, that could be you!
  • He is Gracious and Good, the giver of all good things. We are never more like Him than when we are giving.
  • There is no celebration is heaven today over our good deeds: heaven celebrates when we repent. The Pharisees never brought any joy to Jesus.

II. SECONDLY: THE GIFTS

  1. The RECEPTION…the hug, kiss, the affection and forgiveness
  2. The ROBE…the robe was the best garment in the house, reserved for special guest and dignitaries. Thus the Father is treating his son like a king.
  3. The RING…the ring is a signet ring. It is both a symbol of authority and status. The signet ring was the equivalent to a CREDIT CARD. It had the family crest on it and could be used to purchase property or to consummate a business transaction. It was a big deal.
  4. The SANDALS…Slaves did not wear shoes. This practice is not that ancient. There is an old black spiritual called, “All God’s Children Got Shoes.” You might say the shoes were a symbol of freedom.
  5. The PARTY…The fated calf was reserved for a special occasion. Again, the Father is treating the son as though he had never sinned.

III. THIRDLY: THE GRACE BEHIND THE GIFTS

  • The thing that stunned the Pharisees who are listening to the story is that justice is not served: the boy deserved a beating, not a party.
  • Why would the Father give lavish gifts to a man who was so undeserving?

Understand today: that the Father is this story is our Heavenly Father. When the prodigal came home, he came rehearsing a speech but he never got to finish his speech because his father interrupted him and started giving him gift after gift and not a single gift was deserved. Everything was GRACE. Before the boy can finish his confession, bang, bang, bang, the Father is giving him gifts. The kid had to be OVERWHELMED. He got run over by a truck load of GRACE. He had to be stunned by His father’s kindness. This was not what the boy expected: gift after gift–grace upon grace. I know how the boy feels. TODAY I AM OVERWHELMED BY GOD’S GRACE. I am stunned by HIS INFINITE GOODNESS.

CONCLUSION

I am telling you today, if you will come to the FATHER, the way the younger son came to his father, humble, broken and repentant, confessing your sin…You too will be overwhelmed by His grace. NOTE: the prodigal did not return blaming his older brother or his father but himself.

I read this story many years ago and cannot remember the reference but a woman of renown and prestige decided to join a local church in her city. She thought it would be good for her reputation and her business interest. When she came for membership [during the invitation] she told the pastor, “I want to join this church.” He said, “That is good but first you need assurance of your salvation: have you been saved?” The woman didn’t understand so the pastor said, “Have you repented of your sins and trusted Christ for forgiveness?” This offended the dear lady. “I have no sins to repent of,” she said. The pastor shocked her with these words, “Then, madam, you may as well return to your seat because I cannot help you.” Angry, hurt and embarrassed, she returned to her seat but she was not happy with the outcome. The more she thought about it the more angry she became. So she marched down the aisle for a second time but this time demanding that the pastor present her for membership. Again, he refused and sent her back to her seat. Then a miracle of grace happened, her anger turned to sorrow. The Spirit of God convicted her and she began to weep. She walked the aisle for the third time but this time she told the pastor, “I am a sinner. God has convicted me and I want to repent.” The pastor smiled and said, “Now, I can help you.”

There is nothing anyone can do to help an unrepentant sinner other than pray for them.

Advertisements

The Good Samaritan

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37, NIV

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 
27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 
31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 
33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 
34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 
35 The next day he took out two denariiand gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

INTRODUCTION

Everyone loves stories and Jesus was the master at story telling. Luke records at least four stories that are not found in the other gospels: The Good Samaritan, the Rich Fool, The Prodigal Son and the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Story of the Prodigal is the most renown in all the world and the story of the Good Samaritan is not far behind. Everyone knows what it means to be a good Samaritan. There are hospitals name GOOD SAMARITAN. Franklin Graham relief organization is the SAMARITAN PURSE.


This is a simple story with a simple meaning. Origen, the Catholic scholar, interpreted it as an alegory but it is not an alegory. It is a simple story that even a lost man can understand. Jesus told it for the benefit of a Jewish Lawyer who was lost in religion. This story is a favorite for the left because they think Jesus was advocating socialism and the distribution of wealth but nothing could be further from the truth.


A very simple way to understand the story is to see the four groups or four kinds of people involved:

  1. There is the man who fell among robbers–he is the victim
  2. There are the robbers or thieves–they represent the villians
  3. There are the religious leaders, priest and Levite–the apathetic
  4. There is the Good Samaritan–the compassionate

The story center around the victim, the man beaten and left to die and how the other three respond. In their response, we see three philosophies of life.

I. THE ROBBERS–WHAT YOURS IS MINE AND I AM GOING TO TAKE IT

In spite of what our friends say on the left, there is evil in this world and there are vicious people out there who will do you bodily harm. One liberal said, “The problem here is not the crime, it is the deeper social ills behind the crime. We must uncover and dig out the roots of social injustice that made these men steal. There is a Greek word for this thinking…Balogna. These men were not stealing in order to feed their starving families and I can prove it. Look at verse 30… A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A man is singular, robbers or thieves is plural. There was more than one robber. Thieves and robbers have always run in packs so they over powered this man. Had robbery been their only motive, they would have tied him up and left him but not only did they strip him, they beat him and left him to die.


Folks, I don’t care what the liberals say, there are mean, evil and violent people in our world and they will hurt you for their own sick pleasure. Are we so niave to think that criminals are concerned about hurting others. First of all, being robbed is painful but being beaten half to death is worse.


A liberal was debating Dr. Jerry Falwell on national TV. He told Dr. Falwell there was no such thing as evil and that men are not depraved. Dr. Falwell asked him, “Do you have locks on your doors at home?” The lib said, “Yes, of course I do.” Dr. Falwell said, “Then you must believe in evil, why else would you lock your door.”

II. THE PREIST AND LEVITE–WHAT MINE IS MINE AND I AM GOING TO KEEP IT

Sad to say, both of these men were church men and probably on their way to the temple. Priest were the religious leaders of the day, the descendants of Aaron. They were your teachers and worship leaders. The Levites were the temple care takers. Both were involved in the activities of the church. Both should have been concerned about the hurting man but both passed by indifferently. The priest barely slowed his pace. The Levite did go closer for a better look but he too, hurried off to church.


There is an old adage–put a mouse in front of a cat and you will find out if you’ve got a cat. Put a hurting person in front of a Christian and you will find out if you have a Christian. As Christians, we are supposed to care.


I want you to picture the victim as he lies beside the road in his own blood. He may be semi-conscience but he is dying. The beating and the lose of blood have taken its toll. Without intervention, he will die. What if his eyes were open, like when they do a root canal: you can see and hear but can’t move. What if he saw the priest out of the corner of his eye or the Levite. He was bound to think…help is coming but they looked and passed on by.


Have you ever had your heart broken? Perhaps you suffered through a painful divorce. Maybe you were the rejected one. When the people who are supposed to love us and care for us don’t care, it hurts. 


Hurting people want help but they don’t want to be exposed. The man was laying there naked; they had taken his clothes. He was lying in his blood and shame. He wanted help but he did not want to become a spectule or a side show. Let me tell you what can hurt worse than the clubs of the robbers, the indifference of those who are supposed to care.

III. THE GOOD SAMARITAN–WHAT IS MINE IS YOURS AND I AM GOING TO SHARE IT

Folks, the key to abundant living is good stewardship. Paul told the Ephesians in 4:28,  He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who is in need. Jesus said in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Let me give you the JEV…Life is a lot more fun when you are on the giving end rather than the recieving end. I had much rather be Santa as the kid.


Ministry always involves a sharing of resources and the Good Samaritan was lavish in his ministry. He used his time, his energy, his resources [oil, wine, animal] and his money to help this hurting man. He has no concern for the cost or for being reimbursed for his expenses.


If you go back up to verse 2 in this chapter, Jesus says, “The harvest is truely great but the laborers are few.” The harvest is great, it is just not the harvest we envision. We are looking for folks who are hungry for the gospel and want to be saved: these folks are hard to find but there is a harvest…the fields are littered with hurting people. They are everywhere. Hardy a days goes by that I don’t encounter a hurting person.


The time to express the love of Christ for our friends and relatives is when they are down. This man was lying there helpless–he was open to someone lending a hand.

CONCLUSION

A junior high students approached his teacher in the hall way with a problem, as he was telling the teacher his problem: the teacher pulled a quarter from his pocket and said to the kid, “Here is a quarter, go call someone who cares.” All the other kids laughed but the kid needing help just ducked his head and walked away. I am sorry to say, that I witnessed this event and did nothing about it. I already had a bad reputation for meddling in school affairs and I kept silent.

I’m not picking on school teachers, there are preachers who don’t care. Of course we preachers and teachers are held to a higher standard, we are supposed to care. Every believer and follower of Christ is supposed to care.

The Celebration of Life

Scripture: John 11 {Selected}

INTRODUCTIONS

Those of you who have attended COLS that I am involved in know that John 11 is my favorite chapter and I use it a lot at Celebration of Life Services but I have always had a desire to share it with the Sunday morning crowd…so here goes.

I. A COMMON PROBLEM

1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 
2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 
3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 

II. A STARTLING PROPHECY–“Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.”

 4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 

III. AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE–“Lazarus has fallen asleep.”

11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 
13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 

15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” 


We humans have a problem: we view everything through the lens of time… We even project time into our thoughts of heaven but there is no time in eternity…if there was, there would be a starting time and finishing time. Jesus had His feet on earth but His head was in heaven: He could see both worlds. He could see the future as well as the past. Think of it as a continium…At present [Lazarus is sick]…then Lazarus dies…Future, Lazarus is alive and well. Death is a barrier for us–we can’t see beyond it–but it was not barrier for Jesus. What appears to be death to us is simple sleep to Jesus…a temporary state of repose…everyone dies but we do not stay dead. Yes, from our perspective, death seems and appears to be final but not from God’s.

IV. AN INFINITE POWER–“I AM the resurrection and the life.”

Notice the focus of Mary, Martha, the disciples and the mourners. They are focused on circumstances, problems, grief, sickness, mystery of unanswered prayer, dates, promises, prophecies about the future. There is nothing sinful about focusing on the great resurrection day in the future unless we are more focused on the date than we are the person of Christ.

Look with me if you would at these verses…

  • Verses 2-27–Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “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.” 
  • Verse 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. [NASB,  He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled] The first of these two words [anger in NLT] means to snort with anger, to groan with displeasure or to sigh with chargrin. The second word means to be agitated, stirred up, troubled or distressed. To my knowlege, used only here in reference to Jesus.
  • Verse 38 —Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 

Over the years, hundreds have tried to discount Jesus emotional state at the tomb: some have even said that it was due to his grief that Lazarus was dead and others believe that he felt emphathy for Mary and Martha but this is clearly not the case. JESUS IS RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNATED over the unbelief of the entire bunch. No one there believes a thing He has said…He told Martha plainly, “Your brother will rise again.” He told His disciples plainly, “This sickness will not end in death.” And yet no one believes. Martha did not believe…When Jesus told them to roll the stone aways…she protested…”By now he stinks.”

What does this tell us? Unbelief is offensive to God. Hebrews 3:12–Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heartof unbelief in departing from the living God.

  • It was unbelief that kept Israel from the land of promise.
  • It was unbelief that caused the Jewish Religious Leaders to call for the crufixion of Christ.
  • It is offensive to God when we mistrust His word or even doubt it.

CONCLUSION

Let me tell you what I love about this story….No one in the cemetery that evening believed that they would be eating supper with Lazarus that night: no one but Jesus. Not even Mary or Martha believed that Jesus was the Resurrection and the Life. When Jesus commanded them to roll the stone aside, Martha protested….”By now there is a stink.”


It doesn’t matter what you think or what you believe about any given situation. The Jewish mourners believed that Jesus had failed his friends. The disciples believed that Jesus was committing suicide by returning to Jerusalem. Not one soul in this story believed that Jesus was going to raise Lazarus by the power of His spoken word. Practically all believed that Jesus was a healer but even Mary and Martha believed that He had showed up too late.


Here is what is important: God had a sovereign plan and Jesus carried that plan out. God intended to get glory this day and He did…in spite of the unbelief.

ARE YOU NOT GLAD THAT OUR IMPOTENCE AND FAILURE PUTS NO RESTRAINT OR RESTRICTIONS ON GOD’S OMNIPOTENCE.

Hallelujah, HIS Kingdom is going to come and His will is going to be done because it has been spoken and in spite of man’s sin, wickedness and unbelief—it will happen.

The Man, The Moment And The Message

1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 
2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 

Introduction

  • I Peter has become a favorite to me. I don’t know how this happened, but over time, it is the first book I read when ever I begin reading a new translation. This has been going on for some five or so years. If we fast forward to I Peter 5:12, I think we will find out why this has happened in my life. Here Peter says…

  •  I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s GRACE for you. Stand firm in this GRACE. [Grace is the theme]

  • In this message, I wish to introduce our study in I Peter: one that I pray will be encouraging and uplifting. If you get a small percentage of what God has given me in the preparation of these messages, you will be blessed. I love this letter.
  • Speaking of this letter: when we get mail, the first thing we do is to see who it is from. If it is from a close friend or loved one, we give it special attention, don’t we. This brings us to the MAN.

THIS LETTER IS SPECIAL BECAUSE IT IS FROM PETER THE APOSTLE

I. THE MAN: PETER THE APOSTLE

v.1…This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. {Silas wrote it but Peter dictated the content. I Peter 5:12}

  • Note: It was from Peter the Apostle, not Simon the fisherman, but Peter the Apostle {a messenger, a delegate, one sent out} of Jesus Christ is writing to encourage these persecuted believers in the Northern part of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey and he does so with gentleness and grace. I think my love for this letter is the grace that exudes from Peter’s words. Oh how I love GRACE because it was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How precious does that GRACE appear when I read and meditate on the Epistle of I Peter.
  • Think with me for a moment, how did Peter come to know the marvelous grace that he writes about? Peter was the first to confess Christ but he was also the first to deny HIM. Shortly after confessing Christ, he attempts to rebuke Jesus. One minute Peter is exclaiming the truth and the next minute he was acting as an agent of Satan. So we are talking about impetuous Peter, the man who only stopped talking long enough to change feet. We are talking about the oldest of the twelve who lead them boldly but also failed them miserably. We all know the story of Jesus renewing Peter after the resurrection. It was Peter who preached at Pentecost and it was Peter who became the leader of the church. So this letter is written some 30 years later. Peter is not an old man but he is probably in his early 60’s. He knows what it is like to fail and be restored. He has been growing in grace for 30 years.
  • This letter is not just from anyone, it is from Peter the Apostle: one who witnessed the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Apostleship and eyewitness account was a passing thing. These folks understood that in a few years, there would be no eye witnesses left, many of the twelve had already departed this world and Peter was only months away from his departure. Peter himself was awaiting trial under Nero who was possibly the most vile man who ever ruled the empire. He was a sexual pervert and had a touch of insanity.
  • To get a letter from an Apostle is one thing, but to realize that he is a dying man adds weight to his words.
  • I think the main thing we need to understand about the author of this letter is his experience in GRACE. After denying Jesus for the third time, I imagine Peter felt like he was finished but Jesus did not write him off although he did a terrible thing.
  • Jesus heard the denials but He did not reassess or disclaim His call on Peter’s life. Had our LORD been merely human, He might have said, “I made a mistake choosing Peter. He has too much pride and too big of a mouth. I will never be able to use him. I should have chosen John to be their leader. Peter is not cut out for this.”
  • NO! This is the great thing about GRACE. Jesus knew in advance that Peter would fail, it was Peter who didn’t see it coming.
  • Jesus changed his name from Simon [to hear from] to Peter [rock] because He knew what He could make out of this impetus and temperamental Galilean fisherman. Jesus transformed this loud mouth into a flaming witness. He transformed the impetus fisherman into a rock solid leader. He transformed a fisher of fish into a fisher of men. Only Jesus could do such a thing.
  • If there was anyone on the face of the earth who could talk about Grace from experience, it was Peter.

II. THE MISSION: ENCOURAGE BELIEVERS TO STAND FIRM IN GRACE

My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. [I Peter 5:12, NLT]

Now a word about the people to whom Peter is writing. Scholars are divided concerning their ethnicity: some believe he was writing to Jewish Christians, other think Gentiles but it really doesn’t matter. He uses three words [all in verse 1] to identify these people:

  • Elected/Chosen {eklektos} [selected, chosen, picked out]
  • Strangers {parepidēmos} [Pilgrims, aliens, used again in 1 Peter 2:11]
  • Scattered {diaspora} [dispersed, spread out]

In the Greek they come together in the above order… Πέτρος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκλεκτοῖς [elect] παρεπιδήμοις [strangers, aliens] διασπορᾶς [dispersed] Πόντου Γαλατίας Καππαδοκίας Ἀσίας καὶ Βιθυνίας

NOTE:

  • These scattered believers [not living in the bible belt] are like strangers or foreigners. They are being called to live counter to their culture which was very pagan.
  • There must be no attempt assimilate or blend in and this will [Romans 12:2… Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will]…undoubtedly  lead to persecution. They had already experienced some but Peter, who was in Rome, knew that it was going to get worse and it did. [Nero]
  • Peter understood that a call from Christ is a call to suffer and much of this letter is about suffering. [I Peter 2:21, F]
    21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 
    22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 
    23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
    24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.
  • When Christians do what is right in a pagan culture, they are going to suffer for doing good. David Green had to take on the Federal Government who tried to force him to provide funds for abortions in his company’s health insurance. He refused. Ultimately, he was favored in a Supreme Court Ruling but not until he had spent millions, not to speak of the loss of time. All Muslim businesses were given a free pass but the Obama administration targets Christian businesses.
  • Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake shop in Lakewood, Colo., declined to make a cake for the wedding celebration of two gay men in 2012. Phillips told the couple that he would make a birthday cake but could not make a cake that would promote same-sex marriage due to his religious beliefs. Two lower courts ordered Phillips to serve gays but he carried his cause to the Supreme Court. Two of the Supreme Court justices were outraged at a comment made by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission…. who said, religion  has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, including slavery and the Holocaust." You have to understand where these civil rights groups such as the ACLU are coming from...Rich, agnostic Jews, in the mold of Ciaiphas, who hate Jesus. These talking pundits have made slavery, the holocaust and civil rights for sexual perverts the only three sins. It is OK to kill a baby but its immoral to honor the memory of George Washington because he owed slaves.
  • The ACLU along with every civil rights group I know always target Christians. If religion was really their target, they would go after Muslims and Orthodox Jews.
  • Long story short, we live in a Christ hating world and those of us who identify with HIM are going to suffer for it. It is not a matter of if but when...we are going to suffer for Christ.
  • The recipients of this letter had suffered but things were going to get worse and Peter is simply alerting them to get ready.

III. THE MESSAGE: SUFFERING NOW BUT GLORY TO COME

Peter says in verse 2, God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ

  • Note first of all that the TRINITY is at work in our behalf...God the Father chose us, the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us [making us holy] and Jesus made it all possible by dying for us. All of this is God's work in our behalf and it is according to His eternal plan.
  • Like Jesus, we are called to suffer but just as his suffering lead to glory, so will ours.
  • Jesus had the ability to look beyond the pain: the writer of Hebrews said...            "We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
  • This is why Peter said in the closing of his letter [I Peter 5:12]...My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. 
  • You might say, "God's gracious plan for you." Jesus coming was a part of a plan. His suffering and death were according to a plan. Our suffering is no different, it is according to God's plan. There is a purpose in our suffering.
  • Peter said at Pentecost, speaking of Jesus....  this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 
  • Peter says in chapter 4... Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world

CONCLUSION

Suffering is never pleasant but it is necessary for our sanctification. Suffering is God's refining fire, his smeltering furnace. Do you want what Jesus wants? Does your heart beat with His? If you answer yes then I know you have suffered.


Greed is no respecter of persons: never doubt that poor people can be just as greedy as the rich. We want to take possession of things. We measure people by the kind of house they live in, the clothes they wear, the cars they drive and their annual income or their net worth. This fallen world has a seductive power that can get to any man. In my life time, the only folks that I have seen OVERCOME THIS WORLD were those who suffered. People who have suffered intensely don't care for this world nor the things in it. They don't fight over land lines and inheritances because they see beyond this world. What was it that destroyed their love for this world? I can tell you, it was suffering. If you look closely into the lives of the great saints, you will see they all have something in common: they suffered.


As a very young pastor, I stood along side a family who watched their 8 year old son depart this world due to Cystic Fibrosis. Just minutes before his passing, I heard his dad say, "I would give everything I have in this world, for just one more day." I had enough sense not to articulate my thoughts but my thoughts were: "that's crazy, he is terminally sick, he cannot get well, why would you give everything you have for one more day?" I was young and ignorant and not fully convinced that life doesn't consist in the abundance of things one possesses. But the suffering, broken hearted dad didn't care for the things in this world. He loved his son and wanted to spend one more day with him. This man became one of the best friends I've ever had. He came to my defense when no one else would. He had more courage than anyone I've ever known. The LORD promoted him in November of 2009--He died like he lived, without fear. How did he get this way? By suffering. Peter got thrown into the same smelting pot as did Jesus and it bonded them together. I've seen the same think happen when we fellow believers suffer together.

My best friends are not those I played ball with or those I did business with, it is those I suffered with. I am not saying that suffering is pleasant, I am saying it has a purpose and the outcome for a believer is glorious. Hope is looking beyond the pain and seeing the glory that is waiting.

May you be encouraged by this word from God.

 

 

“Who Knows?”

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-10, NIV

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 
5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
7This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Jonah is about God’s redemptive purpose in this world and that is for all men to come to know Christ. We know because of Jesus teaching, that all will not repent but it is God’s will that all have the opportunity to repent. God wants the gospel shared with the world.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

God said to Israel through Isaiah the prophet…“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be light to guide the nations.”

PROBLEM! The Jews misinterpreted their call: they did not want to share the gospel. They believed that God’s grace was for them alone. When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah refused, he did not go because he didn’t want to.

Why do we not witness, why do we not share the gospel? [We don’t want to, we don’t have a desire to]

Jonah ran from God which you can do: You can run but you cannot hide–God sought him out and brought him to repentance via the fish. He gives Jonah a second chance.

QUESTION: Why didn’t God get someone else?

  • Jonah had the courage to do the job
  • God wanted to use the prophets experience as a part of his message
  • God loved Jonah

Warren Wiersbe, who is very good at researching the history of these events suggest… 

  1. The ‘FISH STORY’ could have very well preceded Jonah…the story got to them before Jonah did. In other words, there was an eye witness who saw the fish spit Jonah on the beach. They saw Jonah unwrapping the sea weed from his body.
  2. Jonah had lost his complexion. After being in the belly of the fish, submerged in gastric juices for three days has bleached Jonah to an albino white. He looked like a ghost.

TRANSITION: Tonight, my first point is…

I. THE MESSENGER [V. 1-3]

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
  1. Jonah is a Jewish prophet Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}, the prophet from Gath-hepher. [2 Kings 14:25]
  2. Jonah means “Dove.” The Jews believed the dove was a peaceful but feeble bird. Jonah was indeed a feeble bird and it is possible that he did not like confrontation. But God knew him and he knew Jonah had what most of us lack: raw courage.
  3. Jonah was not a perfect instrument: he was imperfect, flawed, even bigoted.
  4. Jonah was not the news, he was the news boy. He was not the message, he simply delivered the message.
  5. The Ninevites never discussed Jonah, they did talk about the message.

II. THE MESSAGE [V.4]

4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 

  1. “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” Eight words in English, five in Hebrew. Can you believe it, a five word sermon. [the kind my family would love]
  2. The sign…Jesus said Jonah was a sign, a sign of what. A sign is an uncommon phenomenon. The star was a sign to the wise men but the heavens are filled with stars. The star they saw was uncommon. Jonah was not common. Can you imagine how stunned the Ninevites were when they seen an albino Jew walking down main street.
  3. Message was from God. It was not Jonah’s message.
  4. Paul said, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power [dü’-nä-mēs] of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

III. THE MESSAGE BELIEVED [v.5]

[v.5] The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 

  1. Note: the Ninevites did not believe in Jonah, they believed in God.
  2. The Ninevites believed across the board from the greatest to the least.
  3. Jonah could not reach the entire city but his message was shared, it swept through this huge city like wild fire. [huge city, three days just to walk through it]
  4. Their faith lead to repentance, put on sackcloth. Repentance is a change of mind–they changed their minds about God, about sin, about life.

IV. THE MESSAGE OBEYED [v.6-8]

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
  1. The King stepped down from his throne and sat in ashes and dust.
  2. He issued a proclamation: fast and pray.
  3. Let everyone give us their evil way and their violence. No testimony greater than a changed life.

CONCLUSION

Look at verse 9, “Who knows.” Will God send a great REVIVAL in three weeks…WHO KNOWS?  I do know that God is sovereign and He can move upon people by the power of His Spirit. I pray for the Ruach to sweep across this land, convicting us of sin, stirring us to pray and to repent like the Ninevites.

2 Chronicles 7:14…Recipe

If 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.

My pastor use to refer to this verse as the Recipe for Revival but technically, there is no such thing. We cannot work a revival up and we cannot pray one down. God and only God, can send REVIVAL….

BUT

When God’s Spirit moves, He will move us to pray. Before every revival in history, people got a burden to pray. You see this here in Jonah. Every revival in history has also been accompanied by the preaching of the word…which you have here.

WHAT IS GOD DOING IN AMERICA TODAY?

He is at work. I’m not saying “I personally know what He is doing,” but He is at work. Did you hear the President’s speech last Friday. Be honest, did you ever think that we would hear that kind of speech from the president?

I’m with the King of Nineveh, “Who Knows” what God will do?

Just remember this: He is a CREATOR, not a DUPLICATOR…Our awesome God seldom does the same thing twice.

  • Only one Garden of Eden
  • Only one Flood
  • Only one Red Sea
  • Only one Calvary
  • Only one Pentecost
  • Only one Revival like Nineveh

So, I am not praying for another Pentecost: I am asking God to do something fresh. I’m just longing for Him to move among us and stir us, to give us a burden to pray and to give us the spirit of repentance because I don’t see either.

Do you have a burden to pray? [I will gladly meet with you]

Do you have a spirit of Repentance?

The Invisible God

Scripture: Malachi 2:17

17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the LORD ’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

 INTRODUCTION

I like the GWT version of verse 17, I think it puts everything in perspective…You have tried the patience of the LORD with your words. But you ask, “How have we tried his patience?” When you say, “Everyone who does evil is considered good by the LORD. He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”

This brings up an age-old argument: Can God’s patience be exhausted? Does God get tired of our constant complaining? Before we attempt to answer these questions, let’s establish some fundamental things that we do know about God.
  1. God is not Apathetic. He is im·pas·si·ble in the sense that our emotions do not rule Him nor change His essential nature but at the same time, He does feel our pain. At Laarus tomb, Jesus wept with Mary and Martha. Isaiah said of Jesus, “He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief.” The word acquainted means to know or learn by experience. Impassibility means to be incapable of suffering or feeling pain. Jesus laid this myth to rest. God does feel our pain but don’t ask me to explain, I can’t explain it and yet I believe it. This is what I call the paradox of faith.
  2. So we can say with confidence, God is not Apathetic but neither is He pathetic or at the mercy of man’s emotions. In other words, our emotions do not rule Him. We are sinners in the hand of an angry God, not the other way around…God in the hands of angry sinners. We are at His mercy.

So the same paradox exist when it comes to God’s patience. God can not run out of patience because He is infinite and there is no end to His resources. Surly you do not believe that God is limited in any capacitySo in one sense, the answer is no, God doesn’t run out of patience. In other words, our constant complaining will never transform God into an impatient God. But when we flip the coin to the other side, God does have an allotted degree of patience for each one of us. In this sense, His patience can be exhausted as it was with Sodom and Gomorrah and the children of Israel in the wilderness

This fact makes it unwise to presume on God’s patience or mercy. God did grow weary of the Israelites incessant complaining and He sentenced them to 40 years of futility in the wilderness. So, there is a line that can be crossed and once it is crossed, there is nothing but judgment.

In today’s text, the Israelites are making the same mistake that their forefathers made in the Wilderness, they are trying God’s patience, which is never wise.

The situation reminds me of a story told by Bill Patterson. It is the story of Robert Shelton. Robert Shelton lost his job but only after he had exhausted the patience of his employer. Robert had been warned repeatedly about being late for work and about his lack of productivity when he was at work. His boss even enrolled Robert in a program to improve his job performance but Robert made no attempt to learn from the training. He continued to do what he had always done until the day he was called into the office and handed a pink slip. Robert went ballistic. He was outraged. He began a tirade of complaints beginning with his supervisor whom Robert said, “Had been unclear on instructions.” Then Robert lashed out t his co-workers, accusing them of conspiring against him. Then he made excuses…his assigned task was beyond his abilities and training. Robert blamed everyone except the guilty party, Robert.

The Jews of Malachi’s day were a lot like Robert…they blamed everyone except themselves. The truth is, they brought much of their suffering upon themselves. They were their own worst enemy but would not confess it and for such people there is no help.

The Jewish Problem

  1. Oppression from foreign domination

  2. Surrounded by hostile neighbors

  3. Injustice and exploitation {Economic}

  4. Skepticism and indifference {Spiritual}

Three Areas Where We Have To Be Careful of Exhausting God’s Patience

I. NUMBER ONE IS ATTITUDE

Irresponsible people believe that bad circumstances validate a bad attitude but nothing could be further from the truth. God expects each of us to have a good attitude no matter what our circumstances. Joseph had a good attitude in bad circumstances and so did Daniel and Nehemiah. How would you like to be a slave? Those three handled in pretty well, did they not.

Circumstances on this earth are never going to be ideal. I am a fan of the Jesse Stone murder mysteries. Jesse Stone is the police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Actually Paridise, Massachusetts is is fictional. It does not exist. The definition of Paradise is an ideal place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness where everything goes beyond expectation. We are not going to find that here on earth. We must do the best we can in less than ideal circumstances. As Erma Boombeck was fond of saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonaid.”

The Jews had a bad attitude not because circumstances were bad but because their thinking was bad. They had some stinking thinking. They were blaming God. They accused Him of being partial to the wicked. Their complaint was that He was not holy, that He was lacking in moral judgment. When our attitude is bad, it is the result of bad thinking or theology.

God is holy, moral and good. He is not the enemy. When we reach the point where we accuse Him of being the problem, we have a problem.

II. THE SECOND PROBLEM IS OUR TONGUE

Complainers are vocal by necessity. People who complain are outspoken. Do you remember the Israelites in the wilderness–they murmured and complained constantly. They grumbled in their tents…

Exodus 16:2…I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”

Number 14:27…“How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints about me? Yes, I have heard the complaints the Israelites are making against Me.”

What was the result of their complaining in Numbers 14….The Lord told Moses to tell them...”I am going to do just as you have suggested, you will die in the wilderness.” Be careful what you say, the LORD is listening.

III. THE THIRD PROBLEM IS THEIR SIGHT OR INSIGHT

They have not acknowledged what God has already done. They refuse to see His goodness and mercy. They were released from Babylon by a miracle of grace. They did not gain their independence via a war, it was given to them and yet they could not see God’s goodness.

God had made the Jews some precious promises through the prophets.

  1. They would return to the homeland and the temple be rebuilt
  2. The LORD Himself would visit the Temple
  3. Israel would have a time of prosperity and peace
  4. Israel would have promonence in the world

The first promise had been fulfilled but they were waiting impatiently on the others. Malachi’s word to them in chapter 3 is…God is going to keep His promises, He will come to His Temple but when He does, you will not recognize Him and they didn’t. So we are talking about spiritual blindness, a sight problem.

Conclusion

“Where is the God of justice?” The Jews were asking. Sounds exactly like their forefathers who is Exodus 17:7 said, “Is the LORD among us or not.” The Israelites craved a God they could see, they wanted a visible manifestation. Yahweh cannot be seen. We don’t have a lens or scope big enough to see Him. He is the invisible God. I think it was Josie who asked about this a few days ago. Christ is the image of the invisible God. [Colossians 1:15]  Paul said to Timothy, Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.

We are not to question God’s presence merely because we do not feel it, sense it, or see it. Jeremiah 23:23-24…. “I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. No one can hide where I cannot see them. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth?” You don’t have to feel His presence, or sense His presence–you simply have to believe the truth–He is present. It is impossible for Him not to be present.

Growing up in church, I never go to go out to the bathroom during a service. Once the service started, we were planted. If we moved, there were consequences. One Sunday night mother had a headache and so she stayed behind, the rest of us went on the church. My daddy slept soundly once the preacher got started and since mother was not there, I seized the opportunity to go out during a service. I eased out and daddy never opened his eyes so I head for the foyer. Our building had those saloon doors that open both ways and I hit them almost on a run, but there sitting behind them was mother. I did a quick 360. She was there all the time but I didn’t know it.

Bottom line: Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” It is a simple matter of faith–do you believe what Jesus said?

The Process

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

16 We never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.
17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

INTRODUCTION

We have come together today to celebrate the life and memory of Ruth Livingston. Ruth and I had a strange relationship. Casual observers assumed that we did not like each other but nothing could be further from the truth. I guess one of the reasons that we didn’t get along was our likeness. Neither of us would give in. I have pieced together a little acrostic that spells RUTH.


  • Ruth was Redeemed: I have no doubt that Ruth loved Jesus and that she understood the gospel…that all have sinned and come short…wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD.
  • Ruth was Unique. She was a pistol. She had a mind of her own. It was not easy to direct Ruth. Matter of fact, I don’t know that I ever directed her. If she wanted to sing, she would sing but you were not going to coheres her to do something she didn’t want to do. I was never able to get her to one Senior Adult function. I tried everything. I tried putting her on a guilt trip but she was buying any of that and she told me that she wasn’t going to come.
  • Ruth was Talented. She lead the music at DBC at one time. She sang duets with Lou Hayes. She sang in a trio with Lou and Virginia Penney. She sang with a quartet: Lou, Virginia and Hugh.
  • Ruth was Honest. Boy was she honest! She said what she thought and of course, so do I. {maybe the reason we didn’t get along} This blatant honesty can be a virtue or a vice. Ruth and I got involved in more than one heated discussion. She told Joe David that she was just pulling my chain to see me react and that could be true. I know it is true that I was pulling her chain. I use to brag {in Ruth’s presence} about how hard Ed worked. She would take just so much and then she would interrupt: “Old Ruth works hard too.”  She did enjoy working in her flower beds.

 

Ruth just got tired of living, she packed her bags and waited for her flight. She was ready to go and no one needs to be upset with her departure–it is what she wanted. We grieve her absence but we do not grieve her promotion.


I have chosen three verse in 2 Corinthians for today’s message and I share this very brief message in Ruth’s honor.

TRANSITION

I want you to notice four things from this text:

I. OUR BODIES ARE DYING/DECAYING

As we get older, these earthly tents/tabernacles begin to wear out and they become a burden to us. Things that were once easy become very difficult. Ruth’s body was wore out, she was tired and homesick. You young people don’t understand what I am talking about but these bodies are in a state of decay. Our bodies are dying because we live in the world of the dying but Ruth has departed that world: she is now in the land of the living. There is only one death in eternity future and that is separation from God. Other than that, everyone is a live. According to Jesus, Sodom has yet to be judged. The same is true of Nineveh. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive. But due to sin, these old flesh and blood bodies are subject to death.

II. OUR SPIRITS ARE BEING RENEWED

The word renewed means to be changed for the better. It actually means to renovate. While our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renovated. God’s grace is at work in our spirit and He is transforming us into the likeness of His dear Son.

III. OUR TROUBLES ARE SMALL

You may be thinking, “Speak for yourself,” my troubles are not small. Well they are small in comparison.

IV. OUR GAZE IS ON THE UNSEEN

What better time to think of heaven than today! The Greek word translated ‘gaze’ is ‘skopeō’ from which we get our word scope. It means to look at, observe, contemplate, to mark, to fix one’s eyes upon. Literally, to take aim. Now, you cannot see heaven and neither can I but we can set our aim on heaven.

What is your aim on today? What do you have your eye on? More money…more success… more possessions…more pleasure. You have your eye on something. Are you gazing on the visible or the invisible? Everything you see with the outer man’s eye is going to disappear, it is a temporary thing. It is in a state of decay just like you and it will not last. The things you cannot see with the outer eye is what will last through eternity.

You cannot set your sight on heaven without setting it on Jesus. God cannot give you salvation a part from His Son.

 

 

Noah And The Flood

Scripture: Genesis 6:1-9, NLT

1 Then the people began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them.
2 The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives.
3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.”
4 In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times.
5 The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.
6 So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.
7 And the LORD said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”
8 But Noah found favor with the LORD .
9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

INTRODUCTION

Sin by its very nature is destructive and the antediluvian world that Noah lived in was in a self-destruct mode. The only way for God to save a world from self-destruction is judgment. I call this doctrine Salvation/Judgment. There are two universal judgments in the bible and both wrought SALVATION to man. The first was involved the “Flood” and the second involves the “Blood.” The means of the first was a boat, the Ark, the means of the second was a person, Christ.


Today, I want to talk about the first, the judgment of the flood. This message is constructed around the story of Noah and the Ark. God instructed the patriarch Noah to build a huge boat or barge. This flotation device had no engine, sails, rudder. It had three decks, one window and one door. The interesting thing about the story is the threat of the flood. God warned Noah that a flood was coming due to excessive rain but it had never rained. Rain was unheard of, it had no history. Due to Noah’s respect for God and his faith in God, Noah obeyed the LORD and built an ARK when there was no water to support it. So let’s get into the story and we will begin with….

I. A WICKED WORLD

The world that Noah lived in was unimaginable to Westerners of today. Those living in Africa and the East could better relate…First of all….

  1. It was a DANGEROUS WORLD…twice the scripture says “the earth was filled with violence.” {verses 11, 13}
    • It was a world without churches. If you think our world is bad, try to imagine what it would be like without churches. There is no question that we as the church have failed but if you removed the influence of the church, our society would rot in a hurry. Who fights vice and crime? Who opposes gambling, alcohol and abortion? Who began our colleges and universities? Who planted hospitals and orphanages all over the globe?
    • It was a world without government. I’m talking none, nada, zilch. No police force, no militia, no army, no judges, no law enforcement at all–none. You think crime is bad now; remove all law enforcement and see what happens.
    • It was a world controlled by crime. Keil and Delitzsch believe that the world was controlled by these “heroes” or “warriors” mentioned in verse 4. It was run by organized crime. In other words, it was a frightening world. Noah was the last of the Sethites, those who feared God–all the rest had died or had been murdered.
  2. It was a DEPRAVED WORLDThe LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.

    The second thing I call your attention to is….

II. A GRIEVING GOD

Note verse 6, So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. The AV, which I grew up on, reads….And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

The NIV reads…The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

Classical theism affirms that God is dispassionate, they He cannot be moved by human emotions or feelings. Therefore He cannot be grieved with man’s actions but Jesus was anything but dispassionate. Jesus was compassionate. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He lamented over Jerusalem. As a matter of fact the word used in Luke 19:41 means to wail which is a violent form of weeping. The kind of weeping we do when the death angel strikes.

Although God is self-sufficient and has no needs, He chooses to love us and where there is love, there is grief. Grief is the price we pay for love. Because sin hurts us, God grieves when we sin. Indifference laughs and scoffs but love grieves because it cares deeply.

Genesis 6:6 is the John 3:16 of the old testament. For God so loved the world, it grieved Him when sin began to destroy it. Let me share a story, a true experience that will help you grasp this point.

Growing up, I was very rebellious. I was not mean. I did not like nor enjoy hurting things. I did not torture animals or anything of that nature but I had a hard time with rules and I didn’t like anyone telling me what to do. My mother was a good woman, ultra Victorian, very strict. She did not believe in sparing the rod nor spoiling the child. One day {I was 15 or so} she was beating me for being disobedient and I got angry. I did not hit her but I stood erect and refused to cry. I also looked at her with as much contempt as I could muster under those conditions. She did something that day that she had never done before, she stopped whipping me. Then she collapsed on the ground and began to sob. Her weeping was hurting more than the switch. 

I stood there like a hardened criminal. Then I heard her say, “Son, rather than see you grow up and act like a stubborn fool, I had rather you not been born.” That got my attention. I walked away to lick my wounds so to speak but what she said stuck in my hard head. It remained an unsolvable mystery until years later, I read Genesis 6:6 and the truth hit me like a bolt of lightening. My mother knew that ultimately, rebels end up in hell and she was afraid that is where I was headed. When she said, “I wish you had not been born,” she was not saying “I don’t love you,” she was saying the opposite. It was the ultimate expression of a mother’s love. She would rather forfeit the privilege of motherhood rather than see me go to hell.


If God did not love us: He would not care what we do…


III. A MAN NAMED NOAH

This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. {Genesis 6:9}

  • Noah was a godly man. [verse 9]
  • He was without blame among the people. [verse 9]
  • He walked with God.[verse 9]
  1. Noah’s ObedienceNoah did everything exactly as God commanded him. {6:22, 7:5}
  2. Noah’s Sermons: He did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others.
  3. Noah’s Salvation: Noah went into the Ark and “The Lord Closed the door behind him.” {Genesis 7:16}

CONCLUSION

John 10:7-9 {NKJV}

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
Jesus is the ARK, Jesus is the Door. He is the means and He is the way. He is the ONLY door. He is a timely door. He is open now, may not be open tomorrow.


I ran cross country in college. I loved and admired our coach. I never heard him use any foul or off color language. I assumed he was a Christian. One late Saturday night as we drove home from a meet in South Alabama, I asked him about church and I was stunned at his answer. He said, “I don’t attend church. I should but I don’t. I do believe a person has to repent and trust Jesus but I am not ready to do that at this time. Some day I plan to be saved, to join a church but right now is not a good time for me.” I trembled at his response. He treated salvation like a loaf of bread, something he could go to the market and get anytime he wanted.


God’s word teaches us that God has to draw us {John 6:44}… No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. Look at Genesis 6:3, And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

Five Kings In A Cave

Scripture Text: Joshua 10:1-8

Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies.
2 He and his people became very afraid when they heard all this because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors.
3 So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon.
4 “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” he urged them, “for they have made peace with Joshua and the people of Israel.”
5 So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon.
6 The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”
7 So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon.
8 “Do not be afraid of them,” the LORD said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”

INTRODUCTION

Five Amorite kings conspire against Joshua and Israel. They join forces to attack and destroy the people of God. The good news is: there conspiracy failed and Joshua [a type of Christ] prevailed. Understand what is going on here: the Israelites are in the land but they have to fight to keep it. It is a fact of life, although we are saved, we can still become enslaved just like the children of Israel in Egypt. It is not God’s will for us to live in bondage to sin and Satan. In Israel’s case, there bondage did not alter who they were, they were God’s chosen people but they were enslaved to Pharaoh, a type of the flesh. They were not free to worship or serve Yahweh. God working through Moses delivered them from Pharaoh and lead them into the wilderness for training but  even though that had vivid images of Pharaoh’s death in their minds, they still thought and acted like slaves. It is God’s will to deliver us from the power of sin.

Dr. James MaHoney in his book, JOURNEY INTO FULLNESS, said, “If I could teach a new convert only one truth it would be this fact; your battle with Satan is not over when you get saved, it’s just beginning.” Simply because you gave your heart to JESUS, does not mean that Satan walks away and abondons his plan to destroy your life. Whereas it is true that he cannot touch your soul, he can still wreck your life, destroy your testimony and rob you of peace and joy. Satan doesn’t spend his time with those walking in darkness, his hatred is for the children of light. He hates Jesus and he hates all those who follow Jesus.

In today’s scripture {story}, the Israelites have already won decisive victories at Jericho and Ai but the natives of the land, the Amorites are not happy with their presence. So they conspire to defeat the Israelites and re-enslave them.

The five kings represent the stronghold of the flesh that rear their ugly head and try to dominate us and keep us from living the victorious Christian life. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” It is not God’s will for us to live as slaves to sin and our fleshly nature. 


Let me inform you or remind you that we are in a war and it is a spiritual war. Paul said to the Ephesians 6:12…We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

It is a spiritual war. Paul also told the Corinthians… We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. {2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NLT}

It is a spiritual war which means, we cannot see our enemy but he is there and he is real: his goal is to enslave us, destroy our testimony and disable our ability to worship God and serve others. 

Paul made it emphatically clear in Romans 6…

11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
12 Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.
13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.


When Jesus died, He broke sins grasp on our lives so that we no longer have to serve sin or bow to the power of sin.  We should consider ourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. We cannot let sin control the way we live; we must not give in to sinful desires of the flesh. BUT these sinful desires are there embedded in our flesh and trying to destroy our peace and joy. The presence of sin in our flesh and the world creates a struggle, a war, a spiritual war. As surely as Joshua and the Israelites were in a war, you and I are in a war.
These five kings are symbolic of the POWERS OF THE FLESH that conspire together to enslave and destroy us.

I. THE FIRST KING IS PRIDE

The first king is Adoni-zedek {At-a-knee-sedek}. Adoni means LORD and sedek means rightousness. Together, they mean “Lord of Righteousness”. This king was neither LORD nor righteous but he thought he was. He was not filled with righteousness, he was filled with himself…he was reeking with pride.

Pride is the mother of all sins. There is no sin without pride. Pride turned Lucifer into a demon. Pride is no respector of people. It tempts the good as well as the evil. There is no greater pride than to glory in our morality or accomplishments. Right in the middle of PRIDE is the unbended, stiff necked I [ego].

The following is a list of prideful features: only the Holy Spirit can help us see this inordinate pride that lurks in the shadows of our life: as I list them, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:

  • A secret spirit of pride—an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?
  • Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had success.
  • The stirrings of anger or impatience, a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproval of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
  • Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit. A headstrong disposition.
  • A critical or judgmental disposition.
  • A peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?

Since humility is the chief Christian virtue, the one upon which all ministry, evangelism and missions is carried out; it stands to reason, pride is our greatest foe. We must constantly guard against pride. Sin itself is deceptive and pride is the most subtle of them all. It can be present in our life and us not even know it. Pride is the one disease that everyone knows a man has except the man himself. It can cause the greatest to fall.

II. THE SECOND KING IS GREED

Greed, like jealously, is an unpopular sin: no one ever confesses greed. Does this mean no one is greedy? Does this mean that none of us have been enslaved by greed? You know better. The greed bug or virus lives inside every person. There is no exception.


Giving is down across the nation and across the board. The average protestant gives only $10 per Sunday, a little over 500 per year. I don’t know of anyone making less than $5,000 per year. In a recent Barna survey, 69% of protestants said they were giving less and it is reflected across the nation. Mega churches had some increase last year but the average church did not. Yet, go to an Alabama or Auburn football game and observe the money being spent.


Robby Gallaty, the author of this years January Bible Study book is a pastor in Tennessee. A church member came to him and said, “Pastor, I want to volunteer to do the sheetrock work on the new building. I cannot afford to tithe and this is my way of giving back to the church.” The wise young pastor said, “Since you have confessed that you do not tithe, do you mind if I share with you what the bible says about this subject.” Reluctantly, the man agreed and the Pastor opened his bible to Malachi 3:10…

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

He said the LORD is challenging you to put Him to the test, so do you have a financial problem or a faith problem? The young man thought for a few moments and then confessed, “I guess I have a faith problem.”

Attendance at our church is sporadic to say the least because on any given Sunday, we will have a dozen families on vacation. I’m not talking about their only vacation of the year, I am talking about the first of twelve. Our pastor has challenged us to commit 48 Sunday to DBC. There is no telling what we could do if we were faithful to attend and faithful to tithe. Why don’t we?

If you are not proactive, if you do not attack your greed, your greed will ultimately control your life and with it will come many sorrows.

III. THE THIRD KING IS PLEASURE [hedonism]

We as a society have gone nuts over entertainment and pleasure. We are becoming a nation of hedonist. Like Esau, we live for pleasure. I don’t have anything against sports or entertainment these things are not to be our driving passion. Like Esau, we are more focused on happiness than we are holiness. Entertainment is to be one aspect of our life but not life; it is not to be our god.


Americans spend 6% of their income on entertainment. Not bad, right. That is almost twice what we give to charitable causes. The average church member gives only $10 per week or about $500 per year. When spend far more than $500 dollars on cable TV, not to speak of internet, Nexflix, computer games and etc. We all need a little entertainment but we don’t need to be entertained all the time.

IV. THE FOURTH KING IS ADDICTION

There are a wide range of addictions; not just drugs and alcohol. Porn is addictive and so is gambling: we will get to pornography in a moment. Right now, I want to talk about a huge problem in today’s society and that is substance abuse.

In the USA, we spend 700 billion dollars a year on substance abuse: this includes loss of work and rehab. Drug abuse is epidemic; if you don’t believe me, visit our Morgan County court house and observe what is going on in our court rooms. I would venture to say, 90% of the cases are drug related.

Young people listen to me, 90% of those addicted to drugs began by smoking and drinking. There are a wide range of drugs on the streets: marijuana, heroin, Crack Cocaine, Stimulates, prescription drugs, Opiates, Cocaine, Tranquilizers, PCP {Angel Dust, anesthetic, sedatives, hallucinogens and inhalants. Yet the number one problem continues to be alchohol. Every 53 seconds, someone is killed in an alcohol related accident. One out of every three automobile accidents is alcohol related. We spend 300 billion dollars a year trying to clean up the mess that alcohol leaves behind. You can visit the FOUNDRY or any drug rehab facility you choose and you will discover that alcohol is the number one drug problem in America. You will not hear the truth on Channel 19 or from the Decatur Daily, they profit from the advertizements but Alcohol is extremely costly to the tax payer and society as a whole.

Patrich Means an expert on drug addiction said recently, “When we want something badly enough, we’ll deceive whomever we have to in order to get it.” All sin is decietful by its very nature but addiction is extremely deceitful. Those addicted always convince themselves of two lies: {1} I don’t have a problem {2} I can handle this on my own. I don’t need intervention.

Satan is a clever stratigest, he is fighting to control your mind, the way you think. He wants you to think that your situation is hopeless, you are too far gone, you cannot change. He wants to trap you in toxic shame and endless regret. If you allow him to, he will make your life a living hell. He will engulf you with guilt and shame. Guilt is related to what we do but shame is how we feel about ourself and it is toxic, it can poison your entire system.

V. THE FIFTH AND FINAL KING IS LUST

Lust like greed is prevelant yet seldom confessed. Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America and young people are often the victims. Pornography is rampant thanks to the internet. Porn is one click away. Some estimate that 37% of internet sites are porn related. Some estimate that there are 260 million different porn outlets on the internet. Porn is highly addictive. The two addiction I fear most are porn and gambling. I had childhood experiences with both and I know what they can do. I stay as far from them as possible.

Conclusion

You will never get victory over these kings until you follow the biblical example in Joshua 10:22-26

22 Then Joshua said, “Remove the rocks covering the opening of the cave, and bring the five kings to me. 

23 So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon.


[1] Bring them out of the darkness into the light


24 When they brought them out, Joshua told the commanders of his army, “Come and put your feet on the kings’ necks.” And they did as they were told.


[2] In obedience to Christ command, take authority over them


25 “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua told his men. “Be strong and courageous, for the LORD is going to do this to all of your enemies.”


[3] Exercise courage…this takes guts which is why most folks try to keep their sins hidden. They lack the courage to confess, to be honest.


26 Then Joshua killed each of the five kings and impaled them on five sharpened poles, where they hung until evening.


[4] Give your sin, shame, addiction to Jesus, He will execute them for you.

Victory is accomplished by His glorious grace…verse 25 “The LORD is going to do this.” You and I will never be able to execute the powers of the flesh, we don’t have the stomach for it but Jesus does and he will carry out the execution the moment we surrender our will to Him.
A family had a little dog get hit by a car. The dog was injuried internally and could not recover. The vet told the family, the dog must be put to sleep, it is the only humane thing to do. The children began crying and the dad said, “I don’t think I can do it.” The vet said, “You don’t have to. I will do it for you but you have to give me permission. Sign this sheet paper, say good bye to your pet and walk out. I will do the rest.”

BOTTOM LINE: “Do you want to be free to worship and serve Christ? Or do you prefer to be a slave to your sin?