Tag Archives: Savior

The World’s thinking is wrong, not the Church’s Mark 9: 30-37 First St Johns September 20, 2015

[For the audio version of this sermon please click on the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all who are more concerned with the thinking of Jesus and His Church then the world’s said … AMEN!

It has been a challenging week for me, frankly the last few months have been very challenging. In the last week I’ve had to minister to the survivors of five different deaths. This is never an easy part of being a minister/chaplain, you have to look people in the eye; spouses, children, siblings, and tell them yes, this is a tragedy, but God is with them to comfort them. As a minister I have to be that skin and bones, physical representative of Christ in front of them, as I have to when we gather to worship. Of course the most difficult was the passing of our brother John Klahod, who in the short time that he returned to First Saint Johns has made his mark. He and Barb have regularly attended Bible study, Barb helps so much as a greeter and with the parish visitor and on the Altar Guild. John served as the church vice president. They have been very supportive and encouraging through all the changes that God has guided us through as a congregation in the last few years.

Jesus wasn’t political in His thinking, despite popular beliefs, Jesus wasn’t too concerned about who He offended or upset. Just a few weeks ago we read where Jesus told people straight up, you have to eat My Body and Blood. Lots of people picked up and left right there. I’d bet you, Judas or maybe one of the more pragmatic disciples took Jesus aside, “What are you doing? We can’t afford to have people walk out like that! You have to be more political, more tactful.” When he preached in his hometown of Nazareth, people took offense at his preaching. Who is this guy, they asked? We knew Him when He was a little boy, we know His mother and father, his brothers and sisters still live here. And hey we know how He was born … Come on, Mary and Joseph weren’t even married when He was born. Oh yeah, who is this guy to tell us that He has fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah? He’s not anything special.

Jesus wasn’t political or tactful, it’s not that He didn’t care, He cared desperately. But He wasn’t, and isn’t running a public relations firm. He was and is trying to get us to trust in Him, to conform to His image, not ours, not the worlds. God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are vastly different than the rest of the world, polar opposites. The reason the church has gotten to where it’s at is because it has tried over the last hundred years to conform to the world’s view. That’s not what we’re here for. Certainly that’s the way the disciples are acting. Jesus is pushing ahead, back to Capernaum. He has a sense of urgency! Why? We’re told earlier in this pericope: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” His ministry in Galilee is ending, Jesus is now on His way to Jerusalem and to the Cross. There is no time to play, important things are happening. World changing events are about to happen, events profoundly effecting everything man knew and trusted up to that point. The lives of these men and a lot of others in the world and through history are about to be profoundly changed. We as Christian disciples should have that sense of urgency about us. We talk a lot about Supreme Court decisions and Congress, how things seem to be spinning out of control. But we do very little and live in fear that if we boldly proclaim Jesus and His church that we will offend. Then we the disciples are yapping about who will be the greatest! They have no idea what will happen to them. They are so sure that they will be covered in worldly glory. Oh, you better believe that they all “know” how this is going to play out. Peter has flat out pronounced who Jesus is. “You are the promised One, you are the Son of God.” Peter knew that, the Father had put that in Peter’s heart and given Peter the privilege of declaring that Jesus was the One who would deliver the world. But He had first hand experiences to bolster his pronouncements. He had just seen Jesus transfigured and the Father declaring who Jesus is. He had been with Jesus when He had healed at least hundreds of people, raised people from the dead, fed thousands, teach the most profound understandings that anyone had ever heard, that no one in the history of the world had ever taught. But you can bet Peter was involved in who would be the greatest.

Our Savior, God the Son Jesus has done and continues to do so much for His people. He doesn’t do it to be popular, He doesn’t do it for glory and power. He is glorified in Heaven. We profess every week that He sits at the right hand of God the Father, from the most powerful perspective in the universe, all creation. But He doesn’t do it in order to be popular, the guy who is there to be everyone’s buddy. He tells us hard truths and He doesn’t back down from them. Have to tell you, if someone like the rich young ruler showed up for worship, telling me what a great and pious guy he is, I might suffer a little of the world’s thinking, about how he could help this church do great things. Jesus wasn’t impressed. Really? You’re just all that and a bag of chips? Well this is what you need to do. All that great wealth and influence you have, you just go out there and give that to all those people who are truly in need, come back here and then we’ll talk. Well you know what happened, the rich young ruler, packed up his stuff and rode out of town, probably thinking; “there’s no way I’m giving up all my wealth, who does that guy think He is?”. Oh you can bet he was offended. I can imagine what kind of feedback I’d get as a pastor if I confronted someone like that who showed up for worship. Paul puts it best in our epistle reading: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” Enmity seems like a benign word, but it means, hatred, hostility, animosity. We worry so much about being popular and not upsetting, at the cost of standing up for Christ and His Church.

It is not offensive to witness to Jesus and His Church. What is truly offensive is what you say and do that ignores Jesus. The disciples were just so obsessed about worldly glory and right after Jesus had told them, “I’m going to be betrayed and killed!” It offends Jesus when the things you say and do ignores Him and are for your glory in the world, to people who don’t even know Jesus.

The disciples are still all caught up in the traditional view of the Messiah and what they think He will do to restore the worldly kingdom. If you look at the chart included in your bulletin, we’re caught up in what the world thinks Jesus should be, not what He truly is. Jesus has been showing them and telling them what the truth is, that the Kingdom of Heaven is what matters to our eternal life. He’s just told them He will be delivered up and killed. The disciples seem to be thinking: “Oh we don’t want to hear that! That’s too upsetting, that ignores my world view and I’m just not going to think about Jesus being killed. I’m going to live in the world where this whole Jesus thing will make me powerful and popular. They will discover that what happens to Jesus’ disciples doesn’t result in earthly popularity and power. His disciples find that they are shunned, rejected and killed by the world. The world, like the disciples in this pericope, chose to be offended by the reality of Christ’s Word and chose to live in their own world, that will never come true and can actually result in them being cut off from Jesus and true, eternal life in the resurrection.

Take a hard look at your witness, are you more concerned with the opinion of those around you, or your witness to the hard reality of life as a disciple of Jesus?

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.

The Ocean is deep but doesn’t come close to the depth of the love of Jesus Genesis 9: 8-17 First St Johns July 26, 2015

[For the audio of this sermon please click on SoundCloud icon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know the promises of God said … AMEN

This is one of those passages that the world likes to say is some kind of fable, mythology. The church hasn’t done a very good job with these Genesis passages either, letting them be some sort of similes or parables. Too many like to back off and say it didn’t really happen, but makes for good Sunday school material. The adults really don’t believe this stuff. The church has, essentially rejected, what God has given it to teach as truth. There was a Noah, that there was a world-wide flood, that there were people on the earth who needed to be destroyed because they had become so profoundly evil and irredeemable and that God then made a subsequent promise/covenant with Noah. Where He promised that He would never destroy the world again, through a flood. He will destroy the world again, as we see in the Book of Revelation, what was probably the last book of biblical revelation, but when He destroys the world again, it will be for the final time. In it’s place we will have the resurrection, where we and the world will be made into a place that God intended it to be and for us to be what we were intended to be. There will be no sin, no death, no fighting, there won’t be people creating artificial, phoney debates, we will all be one Body, God’s agents in creating a perfect world, where there will be few limitations, where as I’ve said many times, we will have life and life more abundant, Jesus’ words.

But today, the world, Satan, love to hijack what God gives us and apply it to the things of the world. God is, obviously, the most creative, the most uplifting, positive element in creation. He created everything, we are all pretty much in agreement that even in the evil, fallen, world, there is still amazing beauty, staggering evidence of God’s genius, His incredible creativity. As we go into space, we will see more evidence then we already know. Even now we are receiving pictures from the “dwarf-planet” Pluto, which is now bigger than was thought, that is showing some amazing aspects of that planet. But we love to live in denial about Noah’s story, because after all, we’re in charge, we call the shots. This bizarre idea that it’s all subject to democratic vote and the world’s not going to end because we say so, we have the technology, we moved beyond God’s will, if His will was ever a factor to begin with.

Noah’s ark and a world wide flood is an event that many feel is limited to this one fable from a people in the middle east and really has had no effect beyond that tiny group of people. That is also a fallacy that the world likes to live in ignorance of. Virtually every people in the world have a story about a devastating, all destructive flood and a man or family that were guided by God to save a remnant of people and animals. The geological evidence that has been discovered in very recent time, points to such a flood. The historical and geological evidence, again, destroys the worldly/Satanic lie that this is only a fable, it really did happen.

The upside to the flood is Yahweh’s words to Noah: “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood,…” this is God’s first covenant, His first contract, promise with His creation. His subsequent promises will be to Abraham, to David, then finally Jesus, God the Son, who in His word says what I will be repeating in a few minutes: “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:25) This is the covenant Jesus makes with us, His people, those who have been given new life, have been saved from the death of sin in the world. His promise “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26) that He will return, that He will save those who are in Him, His Body, His church, and they will be restored to true life in the resurrection. After Noah, He tells Abram, that he will be the father of many nations, an old man who had no children at all. He tells King David that the Messiah, the Savior of man-kind will not only be born and deliver His people, but that Messiah, that anointed one of God will be David’s direct descendant.

But the world, in its cutesy way to continually undermine God, takes a symbol that God said is an “everlasting covenant”, of life, of a world of hope and promise and the world has turned it into a symbol of its own lusts and its hatred of God and His will, that is the symbol of the rainbow.

As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t be surprised when the world does things like this, it is the world, it is unsaved and doomed. The world has no promise, no hope. As the Prince of the world, Satan knows his destiny, he knows he is doomed to eternal destruction along with those who also refuse, defy and hate God. Satan has no compunction to take those who are also doomed and use them as pawns to further his fight against God in the world, to guide them to use God’s symbols in an evil way, to deny God’s teachings, such as Noah, and to turn them into symbols that lead us to believe it is all about us, that we are God, that we can do whatever we please, regardless of the consequences to us and those around us.

The non-believer wags his finger at God and says “how could God destroy the earth, He must be evil!” They will stipulate to a destruction story if that gives them a reason to spew their hatred against God. But they will not accept that God is serious, He has a people whom He does want to save and establish a world that will be perfect. He is showing all of us, He is not going to tolerate a sinful and base world filled with evil people. If people continue to be so willfully evil, as we see all-around us at this time in history, He will destroy it again and leave those who are condemned to face the penalty of their sins which is eternal condemnation.

God the Father is a loving, merciful, compassionate God. He has shared His promises with us, His Word, the Bible is filled with hope, promise. His Son Jesus Christ came that we would have life and life more abundant, not only in this world, but where it truly matters, to all eternity. We who are in Christ know that we have the promise that through Him we have forgiveness, we need forgiveness, because God is truly Holy, righteous and just. He does not tolerate sin and in His creation in the New Jerusalem, He will not tolerate sin. His new creation will only be populated by those who are saved in Jesus. We who are righteous, only in Jesus, because of the price that He paid, His perfect life, a ransom for many, that gives us the promise of eternal life.

What other things does the world promise us, what other symbols, what other failures of the world do we tolerate because, well we just all want to get along? We are not here to compromise with the world, because the world is wrong, sinful, seriously messed up. We do not buy into the world’s story, because we have the true story. The world likes to tell us that the story of Noah and Jesus are fables, that the stories of Darwin, Marx and the Kardashians are real and that’s what we should trust in. Take a step away from the nonsense of the world, can we all get along? In reality, not really. We reach out into the world with the love and mercy of Jesus, the world loves to think that it’s so tolerant, but when Jesus, the cross and His church comes up you can see the hate and poison in the eyes of the world. Despite that we do have to continue to love, serve in compassion, have mercy, but also have righteousness, assure that our witness is always for Jesus and not the things of the world. This is not going to make us popular, but John tells us, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13) The world hated and still hates our Lord Jesus, it’s going to hate those who are faithful in Him. But it doesn’t matter what the world thinks, it does matter what Jesus thinks. The world can take the symbols of Christianity and try to corrupt them and try to make it in the name of tolerance, but that is a lie straight from Hell and another attempt by Satan to corrupt the church and Jesus’ people. So write in your journal about what the rainbow really means, as well as God’s other covenants, and how you can use them to show others the love of Christ that is in you.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.

Where the Christ child is said to have laid His first night on earth

The featured image is where, according to legend, the Baby Jesus was laid after He was born, His first day as a human, as one of us. . 11_12

The featured image is where Mary is said to have laid when she gave birth to Jesus.

Needless to say, what is now an incredible church (if maybe a little over the top) is vastly different then what it was on the first night. A stable, actually almost a cave, with animals, no doubt dirtier than we would even keep  a stable today. A very humble place, where Jesus was born. He who gave up the glory of heaven to live life as a human.

Best wishes for a Blessed Christmas, remembering that it really is about God being with us in our lives on earth. That is certainly something to celebrate, and we should, but while we have so much and we celebrate amid all the lights and warmth of modern life, the Baby was born in the dark and the cold. “…the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God…” (John 3: 19-21 ESV). We have all done evil, but Jesus came into the world, that new Baby so that we may come into the Light and it started here in Bethlehem, so that we could come into the Light and know peace with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God has given a lot of evidence for His existence

Ravi Zacharias is one of the most influential Christian apologists of our time, I’ve been reading him for a long time. I do copy a lot of things, but there is a lot of great stuff out there that others may not see and that I think is important to share and so I am submitting this for your consideration.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful and true, yet oftentimes one will ask, “How can it be true that there is only one way?” Odd, isn’t it, that we don’t ask the same questions of the laws of nature or of any assertion that lays claim to truth. We are discomfited by the fact that truth, by definition, is exclusive. That is what truth claims are at their core. To make an assertion is to deny its opposite. Rather than complain that there is only one way, shouldn’t we be delighted that there is one way?
The question really is, how do we really know this is the truth?
Whether Hitler or Hugh Hefner, religious or irreligious, everyone has a worldview. A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. In turn, these answers must be correspondingly true on particular questions and, as a whole, all answers put together must be coherent.
Taking it a step further, the three tests for truth must be applied to any worldview: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. When submitted to these tests, the Christian message is utterly unique and meets the demand for truth.
Consider the empirical test of the person, teaching, and work of Jesus Christ. A look at human history shows why he was who he claimed to be and why millions follow him today. A comparison of Jesus’s teachings with any other claimant to divine or prophetic status quickly shows the profound differences in their claims and demonstrations. In fact, none except Jesus even claimed to be the divine Savior. His offer of grace and forgiveness by being the perfect sacrifice of our offense is profoundly unique.
I position the sequence of fact and deduction in the following way: Love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer. The story from sin to redemption is only in the gospel with the ultimate provision of a loving God.
But the question can be pushed back further. Does this not all assume that there is a God? Yes, it does, and there are four stages in the argument. The first is that no matter how we section physical concrete reality, we end up with a quantity that cannot explain its own existence. If all material quantities cannot explain their own existence, the only possibility for self-explanation would be something that is non-material.
Secondly, wherever we see intelligibility, we find intelligence behind it. Thirdly, we intuitively know that our moral reasoning points to a moral framework within the universe. The very fact that the problem of evil is raised either by people or about people intimates that human beings have intrinsic worth. Fourthly, the human experience in history and personal encounter sustains the reality of the supernatural.
There you have it. Who is God? He is the nonphysical, intelligent, moral first cause, who has given us intrinsic worth and who we can know by personal experience.
The verification of what Jesus taught and described and did make belief in Him a very rationally tenable and an existentially fulfilling reality. From cosmology to history to human experience, the Christian faith presents explanatory power in a way no other worldview does. Our faith and trust in Christ is reasonably grounded and experientially sustained.
I often put it this way: God has put enough into this world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing. But He has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason alone. Faith and reason must always work together in that plausible blend.
Many of you may be familiar with my own story. I was born to Indian parents and raised in India. My ancestors were priests from the highest caste of Hinduism in India’s Deep South. But that was several generations ago. I came to Christ after a life of protracted failure and unable to face the consequences, sought to end it all. It was on a bed of suicide that a Bible was brought to me and in a cry of desperation, I invited Jesus Christ into my life. It was a prayer, a plea, a commitment, and a hope.
That was fifty years ago. I hardly knew what lay ahead of me, except that I was safe in Christ’s hands. Now as the years have gone by and in 2014 we celebrate thirty years of ministry at RZIM, I marvel at the grace and protection of God and the doors he has opened for our team. And more and more, I am convinced that Jesus Christ alone uniquely answers the deepest questions of our hearts and minds.
• This article was posted in: Just Thinking Magazine

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• This article was posted in: Just Thinking Magazine

Questions can often only be answered by doing and not fussing.

Having been a still, relatively, recent seminary graduate, Master of Divinity (2010 – Concordia Seminary St Louis, Mo.), I think I can comment with some authority on Henry Blackaby’s comment”…merely ‘talking about the Christian pilgrimage is not sufficient. We must actually set out on the journey! We can spend many hours debating and discussing issues related to the Chritian life, but this means little if we never actually step out and follow Christ!” (“Experiencing God day by day” p 24). Yea and amen, it doesn’t just apply to seminary students, although it seemed as if too many thought that ministry was all about sitting around thinking great thoughts and then on Sunday morning coming down to dispense their great wisdom. Yea, well neither one applies to anyone that I met, and I think that after 4 years of actual ministry (my anniversary was this past August), I think I can say with some authority that I didn’t meet any students that had many, if any great thoughts.
The same can be said for many who have spent years, decades in the church. Sure we are to study Scripture, right up until they are throwing dirt on our face, but as Blackaby writes “Christianity is not a set of teachings to understand. It is a Person to follow. As he walked with Jesus, Andrew watched Jesus heal the sick, teach God’s wisdom, and demonstrate God’s power. Andrew not only learned ‘about’ God; he actually experienced Him!”
OK, point taken Christianity is about being a disciple, unless you are in unusual circumstances, discipling means being taught by another person and teaching another person, at the same time. While also continuing to study and be encouraged by Scripture.
I disagree that “Christianity is not a set of teachings to understand…” Yea, it really is, you always have Jesus and He will disciple you, but there may be unusual times when you just have Scripture and no one to disciple, be discipled by. Certainly we turn in prayer to God and are guided by the Holy Spirit. But point taken, bottom line being a Christian is being in relation with Jesus.
In that discipling relationship there will no doubt be questions. Certainly it is our nature to have our questions answered before we start out. In the Coast Guard you had these guys who had to have every question answered before they got underway, generally they just got shoved out the door. You can stand around talking it to death or you can get underway, get on scene, and you will get answers and rely on your training, experience and greater minds at the station to address the situation. In the meantime, yapping about it at the station and instead of getting there produces very little.
In my Christian walk it has been uncanny how many times the answers have come while I was in the process. Sometimes they wouldn’t come until after you were settled in the lane you were guided to travel and realize that the only way those questions could have been answered was to actually follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and play it out. I’ve had many experiences of looking back and thinking “ohhhh, that’s how that was supposed to be, that’s so cool, I would have never have thought that.” Like it or not, the Holy Spirit is going to do it much better than you and in a way that often just leaves you in awe. “I would never have done it that way.”
Despite what you think, you are not entitled to answers to everything, often the whole point is for you to get underway and the answers come. Your growth comes in being guided by the Spirit, getting answers on the way and it’s the only way it could have happened.
Many think that they have a “choice”, well yea, the right way (God’s way) or the wrong way (your way). Some people like to go to God with an attitude of; “You answer all my questions, give me your pitch and then I”ll think it over and get back to you.” As if God’s Son is some kind of vacuum cleaner salesman.
Blackaby suggests that Jesus might say, ‘Put on your shoes, step out onto the road and follow Me.’ As you walk daily with Him, Jesus will answer your questions, and you will discover far more than you even knew to ask.”
Get off your high horse, listen, quit quibbling. There are no better offers and when you really submit yourself to God and trust in His Word instead of listening to your own, often, pompous nonsense, you will find that you really do understand, and that you aren’t even close to really understanding. That you realize you don’t need to know everything. You can trust Jesus and His Lordship and you can get on with what you need to do.

Our identity is in Jesus, not in our job title/description

AJ Sherrill is the pastor of Trinity Grace Church in Manhattan, NY. In an earlier post I wrote about New York City being the unhappiest metropolitan area in the country. I haven’t seen any research, but NYC is the hub of those who seek to make their fortune. Let’s face it only so many are going to do that, the vast majority are going to fall short. When you’ve staked everything on achieving what only a few will realize, the result will usually be unhappiness, or however else you want to characterize the despondency associated with “failure”.
May sound a little harsh and I’m not saying that is my perception, but it is the perception of many in the world, particularly those people that supposedly “matter”. When we have staked everything on our “success”, it leaves very little room for anything else in our life; family, integrity, self-fulfillment, God.
Pastor Sherrill quotes Abraham Kuyper (Leadership Journal Summer 2014 p84), “the 20th century Dutch journalist, theologian and politician. His famous proclamation, ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!” “…is the reminder that should resound in the ears of every Christian in the workforce.”
Let’s face it, that is not the case. As soon as most of us hit the threshold at church, we have to beat the Baptists to “Country Buffet”, get home for football and then try to relaxe before we get back to the “real” world on Monday. Hey I’m not disputing that you have to work hard and focus on your career. I’ve never said you shouldn’t, but when you become so immersed, may I even say obsessed, you lose your identity in the Body of Christ and you become your job title/description. “…far too many are over-identified with their work as the context to achieve identity rather than express identity. When our identities are not settled in Christ, we subconsciously put them up for negotiation – and that negotiation is usually based on our ‘success’ or ‘failure’ we experience in the marketplace. Am I good enough? Is my future secure?”
When we lose our identity to anything/one, other than Christ we are already at risk to being dragged back into the cares and temptations of the world. We trust in God’s providence and sovereignty in our life, not how the workplace treats us. My experience in the corporate and military world has been that as a Christian you’re often not going to be treated “fairly”. It’s not necessarily an issue of success and failure, you may be marginalized because of your faith. So what does that mean? You give up? As Pastor Sherrill points out: “Unitl Christians in the workforce find freedom from over-identification they will only view work as meaning, while never getting around to approaching work as mission.” This is Christian integrity, I’m certainly not telling you can’t be all you can be in your vocation, you should be. As I’ve discussed before working for your “master” as if you are working for Christ. But to maintain your integrity, your identification has to be in Christ. You can be a good/great Indian chief, but being a great Indian chief in Jesus is what we strive for.
Pastor Sherrill quotes Richard Rohr: “When you get your ‘Who am I/” question right, all the ‘What should I do’ questions (begin to) take care of themselves.” Perhaps in terms of how I can be a great Indian chief for Jesus, instead of just great for my own fame, fortune and personal fulfillment.
This is a challenge we face in all our areas of life, how to be a Christian, father, husband, child, employee, citizen, but the workplace is what dominates so much of our life and is probably the area that encourages us to shed our Christian identity. It’s as if the workplace is not what Kuyper says, Jesus only can claim ‘mine’ to the time outside of the office. Of course that erosion continues to the point where we only see ourselves as Christians on Sunday morning and for only a few hours then. Jesus lived a life of integrity and sacrifice. What we presume to offer back two, maybe three hours at a church where we think we should be comfortable and entertained. This is for the men, speaking to you I’d like to say this is not being the strong man of integrity. This is an attitude of entitlement and frankly presuming to think that it’s all about you and that you are in control. If you are at any point of being a mature man, you know that you are not really in control. When we know that God is in control, that He does love us, but He also expects us to step up and be strong, courageous, and to act with Christian integrity in all of the areas of our lives. There is no integrity in the attitude where you throw Jesus some crumbs, expecting that it really results in your comfort and pleasure, especially when we remember what He did for us.
Let’s keep talking about it, Wednesday mornings 10 am at First St Johns, we have coffee and some sort of pastry, good discussion, we’re still going through Dr Gene Veith’s book, and a way to break up the week to be built up and restored in Jesus. 140 W King St, park right behind the church.

Satan prowls to inflict trials on us

Satan prowls to inflict trials on us
First St Johns June 1, 2014

Lord we raise up to You Jesus’ prayer that we are Yours, that we are in the world, but subject to the attacks of the world, subject to maliciousness of Satan and his demons, the malignant attacks of Satan to inflict death. We know that Your Holy Spirit protects us, but we also know that being foreigners in this world that we will be attacked. We are behind enemy lines and while we are faithful to You, we will be hated and people will speak evil about us. We know Father that You watch over us, protect us and ultimately return us to be with You, in the world You intended for us, to be citizens of the New Jerusalem. We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are saved and protected in Jesus Christ said … AMEN!
He has risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah. We are now at the end of the Easter season, we held Ascension Day worship on Thursday, only a few of you are probably aware of that… Our Gospel reading this morning is part of Jesus’ great priestly prayer. His prayer could be characterized in legal terms of His summary argument, He is at the end of His ministry in the incarnation. Only about half His prayer is in today’s reading, the prayer is a lot of what Jesus’ entire purpose was in the incarnation: “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou has given Me to do.” The Greek word teleio,w this same word is used by Jesus shortly after His prayer, John’s Gospel says that Jesus’ last word on the cross was tete,lestai which is the passive form of teleio,w In His “Priestly” prayer, He is saying that the goal He has been sent to accomplish has been achieved. On the cross He is saying that the goal He has been sent to accomplish has been achieved through Him. In the Coast Guard while you are conducting a mission, there are a series of messages sent to the next level of command, at my station we would send what are called “sitreps” to Group Boston on the progress of the mission, there would be a final “sitrep”, situation report, that would report the outcome of the mission. In Jesus’ final “sitrep” He is reporting to the Father that I have “glorified” You in My life. He goes on to say I have also organized a group of disciples who will be going into the world to be our avpo,stoloj our representatives, our messengers. They are still disciples, still learners, as Christians always are, but now they are God’s messengers, which we also become when we are taught and confirmed in the faith. Jesus is saying I have accomplished this goal of the incarnation. When Jesus is on the cross He is saying that the goal of redemption has been accomplished through Him, the sins of the world have been redeemed, they have been paid for, it has been done/finished through Him.
In His “High Priestly Prayer”, Jesus now goes on to say: “I have given them Thy word; and ‘the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” When we are in Jesus we are like Him, that we are not of this world, we are of Him, in this world. Jesus goes on to say: “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” The “evil one” can be translated to be the “vicious one, lewd, malicious, malignant, one who inflicts pain, causes calamity, affliction”. When we hear the word “malignant” what do we usually think of? … A malignant cancer. What is a “malignant cancer”, a cancer that causes death. The “evil one” Jesus refers to, Satan and his “malignant demons”, cause death, our sin gives them the opportunity to inflict death. Jesus is praying for our protection and we are certainly protected. But we are still subject to attack and it is how we respond to those attacks that is what truly matters as disciples and apostles of Christ.
Johnny had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. After a while he emerged and informed his mother that he had thought it over and then said a prayer. “Fine” said the pleased mother, “If you ask God not to misbehave, He will help you.” “Oh”, Johnny said, “I didn’t ask Him to help me not misbehave, I asked Him to help you put up with me.” As the Father’s still imperfect children, we still misbehave, as Peter points out Satan still continues to prowl about seeking someone to devour, Satan continues to try to find ways to provoke us to misbehave and we trust that God will continue to put up with our misbehavior in response to Satan’s provocations.
I have this big brown “Day-Timer” that I keep reminders of the tasks that I want to accomplish day to day, I also keep some reminders/promises that God makes to us all and one of them is this quote from Peter. I would encourage you to keep this as a constant reminder; “Your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Instead of “someone” though I substitute “Jim”, so it’s “the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking Jim to devour.” This is a very compelling warning. I like to remember that the reality is, we are the foreigners, we are the outsiders, Jesus refers to Satan as the “prince of this world” (Jn 16:11 KJV). It is to recognize the reality that Satan is still very much a malignant force in this world, he inflicts death and pain and misery and provokes sin at every opportunity. When Peter tells us to remember that Satan is prowling to find someone to devour, who is he talking to? What kind of person would be reading the Bible? Christians!
The beginning of our epistle reading says: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” I’ve often had people do just that, “how can God do this, why would He let this happen to me?” First off, God isn’t “doing this”, God does not inflict evil. But He does permit Satan to inflict evil. The non-Christian just can’t seem to comprehend the world around them, they do not understand that evil can afflict them, I’ve heard so many people say something to the effect that they are somehow entitled to be protected, they shouldn’t be subject to evil. The more accurate question would be “how can evil not happen to me?” Those who are so worldly, who think they are so sophisticated in the ways of the world, demonstrate amazing ignorance when their attitude is that they should be somehow immune to the “fiery trial”. The sad part is that they are not just subject to trial here, but through eternity they will continue to suffer. While we Christians are subject to trial, we are still under Jesus’ protection. Last week I referred to the Book of Revelation when God removes His protection from the earth. We think the earth is evil now, we whine about our trials, we are protected, because of Jesus’ prayer, we are cared for and watched over. As Christians, we do have a target on our back. Let’s face it, for those who do not know Jesus, for those who are lost, those who are condemned, there really isn’t much point for Satan to attack them. For those of us who do know Christ, who are saved in Him, who are not of this world, but still in this world, we are the targets, we are going to be subject to the roaring lion, Satan wants to undermine us, wants to deprive us of the perfect world that we are going to and he will never know. But since we are protected by the Holy Spirit we are spared the worst. Even if we die as a result of Satan’s attack what happens to us? We are in the presence of the Lord. Death for the Christian is only the start, the next stop on the road to the perfect life in the resurrection. Peter points out something that we should be regularly and painfully aware of “…the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” What you are going through maybe difficult, but there are Christians that are experiencing pain and deprivation even as we sit in the comfort of our beautiful church and that pain is a result of their faithfulness to Jesus. In our times of trial we need to remember Peter’s assurance: “…the God of all grace, … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you…”
Don’t be surprised by the “fiery trial”, it will happen. We can’t allow ourselves to be devoured by Satan in our bitterness. Spend some time in your journal and really dissect this passage from Peter. What trials are you going through, relatives, friends, those who the Holy Spirit puts in your life to witness to? How can you give them hope and strength through this promise of Christ? The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.