Friday, December 16, 2016

Glory - Foundation Series

Good evening! This is the last of the Foundation Series. We haven't covered everything, obviously, but it has been a really good start! So without further adieu, and focusing on 2 Corinthians 3:18, I give you Glory.  

"Glory" in English: fame, honor, praiseworthy.

Old Testament = kabode, heaviness, used figuratively. Usually translated glory, majesty, splendor.
New Testament = doxa, good opinion, splendor of brightness.

A significance that is at the heart of who we are.

In C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce and in the Scriptures, when men of earth meet the messengers of heaven they find themselves so outclassed in sheer presence that they can't stand; they are physically overawed by the gravity, the glory present in the messenger of heaven.

What does it look like to build our lives on the rock of God's Word in regards to our future glory?

1. Our Future Transformation
Psalm 8:5
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Colossians 3:1-4
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28-30
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
1 John 3:2
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Like Moses shining with the glory of God; like the glory of the resurrected Christ, Christians are heading for a future glory that is from the Lord Himself.

2. Beyond Comprehension
What does it mean that we'll be like Jesus?
1 Corinthians 15:37-49
And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 
2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 

What does Jesus' glory look like today?
Revelation 1:12-16
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

3. Future Glory & Our Relationships
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
“It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics."

They have a future glory that I need to respect.

4. Future Glory & Life's Labors
Colossians 3:1-4
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Therefore Verse 5: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore Verse 15: So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
Romans 8:28-30
he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son
Therefore Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
John 3:2
when he appears we shall be like him
Therefore Verse 3: Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 Corinthians 15:37-49
What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.
Therefore Verse 58: Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

-Have I given myself and my sins to God in Christ so that I can share His life and glory forever? If I haven't, today would be a good day.
-Am I committed to and working at putting off my sins and putting on Christ?
-Am I living in and standing firmly in the truths declared in God's Word?
-Am I consecrating my body and my all to God daily as my reasonable act of worship?
-Am I striving for consistent, personal purity?
-Am I remaining at work where God has me until He calls me to Himself, knowing that even the feeblest effort now is tied to a future glory beyond comparison?

Faith is the rock we stand upon.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Matthew 7:24 is a concise description of the life of faith; to take God's word and do it is the essence of Biblical faith. Are we taking in the truth of God's word and living it? That is building our lives on the Rock.

Have a holly, jolly weekend! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Consecration - Foundation Series

How is everyone, this fine December evening?

I'm sitting at the computer, Santa hat on my head, candles lit, hot chocolate on my left, and Bing Crosby's Christmas music in my ears.

Are we ready for this next part in the Foundation series? This part concentrates on marriage and our union with God...

A man and a woman join together, uniquely, as husband and wife, forming one new family. They are to each other unique in all the world.

They are absolutely and uniquely each others, dedicated solely to each other.
Genesis 2:24
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
1 Corinthians 7:4
For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

"With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

Take everything that's true of marriage and evaluate that singular call and those total demands and we begin to approach the kind of devotion God calls us to in our relationship with Himself.

Consecration - association with the sacred.
Hebrew = qudosh, sacred, holy, set apart for God.
Greek = hagios, same thought.

God calls His people to be in a relationship with Him that transcends and surpasses the devotion of marriage; a singular dedication of all that we are and have, every possibility for our lives, to be freely, joyously given over to Him and for Him.

1. A Living Sacrifice
Romans 12:1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In light of who God is and what He's done for us; in light of this great salvation and His future, glorious plans for us with Him; the only thing that makes sense for us to do is to offer ourselves to God, body and soul, present and future, fully and reservedly, more so even than a husband or wife can commit him or herself to the other.

With our wills we wed ourselves to Him in a holy consecration.
With our bodies and all that we do, we worship Him.
With every asset we posses, we place ourselves at God's disposal.

2. Holy Affections
While consecration to God is our reasonable expression of worship, it's not always our heartfelt response... Consecration born of the affections of our heart is what God is after.

If consecration to God is seen only as duty it feels like a responsibility to be born, a duty to discharge, a debt to be paid. When we understand that wholehearted, body-consuming devotion to God is the means of our joy as well as God's glory, it takes on a whole new aspect.

Be transformed by the renewing of the mind.

Why does a husband stray from his wife? Why does a Christian stray from their God?
Because the affections of the heart aren't set on their Beloved.

To say "I do" to one person costs EVERYTHING, but what you gain will be worth ANYTHING you lose.

3. Consecration's Jealous Fruits
Jealousy is the appropriate desire of a husband for his wife, or God for His own, in what is meant to be an inviolable union.

Marital unfaithfulness and it's cousin, spiritual idolatry, are particularly grievous becaus they betray the singular devotion due one from the other.

God as Husband:
Isaiah 54:5
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Jeremiah 3:20
Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the Lord.'"
Ephesians 5:25-27
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Song of Songs...
My beloved is mine, and I am his.

God has a holy jealousy for us, like a husband has for his wife. His commitment to us is total, and ours should be the same toward Him.

-Have I accepted God's invitation to join Him in a holy union by repenting of my sins and accepting the reconciliation He's provided in Jesus?
-Have I acknowledged that God's free gift of grace in salvation introduces me to the costly life of self-denying consecration?
-What areas of life have I consciously consecrated to God?
-What areas of my life do I need to consecrate to God?
-What barriers do I need to install in my life to protect myself from temptations to spiritual adultery?
-On a scale of 1-10, how delighted am I in my relationship with God?
-What would help me delight more fully in the Lord?

Life lived on the Rock of God's Word is one of consecration.

Have a great rest of your weekend, and "see" you next week!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Repentance - Foundation Series

What moved Luther from seeing the life of the church in his day as normal and satisfactory to realizing that not only the church but his own life was in need of radical change?

How did the rest of the reformers know that the church teaching and practice was off base and in need of correction?

Repent = re + think; think again; change my thinking; a change of heart and action. NT Greek = Metanoia; a change of thought or feeling; practical reformation; reversal of the past.

One of the greatest gifts of grace God ever gives a person or a church is the grace of repentance.

Semper Reformda - always reforming.
The church is reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God.

1. Always Repenting
Deuteronomy 30:1-3
"And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.
Job 42:5-6
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
Matthew 3:1-2
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 15:9
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
Acts 2:38
And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Repentance is a lifestyle

2. Not Repentance
Sorrow is not necessarily repentance
Regret is not necessarily repentance
2 Corinthians 7:8-10
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
Hebrews 12:16-17
that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

3. Repentance is Returning
Jesus took Judaism back to God's Word:
-Their view of divorce: Matthew 19:3-9
-Their view if the Resurrection: Mark 12:24 with Exodus 3:6

Biblical repentance is nothing new.

The Reformers' work of reformation wasn't about trying to be innovative and creating something new, but rather, the reforming they had in mind was a reforming back to what God had plainly laid out in His Word.

Isaiah 8:19-20
And when they say to you, "Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter," should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

4. God's Kindness & our Repentance
Romans 2:3-4
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

God's Kindness in His patient forbearance of our sin is meant to bring us to a change of heart, mind, relationship and practice, in a word, to repentance.

1. In it's initial context Romans 2 is about repentance to salvation; the most important step of repentance.
2. The wider the kindness and grace of God in regards to repentance:
-God's kindness shows us our need of repentance as believers.
-God's kindness gives us repentance.
-God's kindness doesn't overwhelm us with all our sin at once; rather, He shows us little by little, lest we despair in a moment over the remarkable depth and breadth of our sin.

How do you and I work at our own reformation?
How do we come to recognize deficient beliefs and practices and repent?

-Have I ever repented of my rebellion against God and my alienation from Him by entrusting myself into the saving grace of Jesus Christ?
-Am I confessing my sin to God and to others as needful, so that I'm not hardening my heart to truth and my own need of repentance
-Am I immersing myself in the truth of God's Word, using that as the plumb line against which I measure my own thoughts?
-Am I in regular fellowship with other believers in an iron-sharpening-iron way?
-Do I take seriously the concerns others bring to me?
-Do I ask God to "search me and try my heart" (Psalm 139) and show me any hurful ways I need to repent from?

"Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. 
Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin." -Tim Keller

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Grace - Foundation Series

John 8:2-11
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

If God gives us what we deserve we get justice and that means eternal death, but
 if God removes that just penalty it's not because we deserve a stay of execution, it's simply God's grace.

-What does a life lived in the reality of God's incredible, amazing grace look like?
-What does life lived on the Rock of God's grace feel like?

Grace = God's loving, benevolent disposition toward us, based on His own will and Jesus' saving work, and not on our merit.

1. God's Common Grace
Remember that we've already concluded from Romans 3 that everyone on the earth sins and therefore deserves the righteous wrath of God.

Everyday God withhold judgment is a grace gift.

Matthew 5:45
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Acts 14:17
Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
Psalm 65:9-13
You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
Psalm 104:10-15
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart.

The witness of God's common grace is all around us if we simply have eyes to see it.

Some question why God will eventually judge all humanity, but the real question is why hasn't He already? The answer in large measure is His grace.

2. God's Saving Grace in Christ
Acts 15:11
But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.
Ephesians 2:3b-9
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 3:23-25
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
2 Timothy 1:9
who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
Titus 3:4-7
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It's God's grace, not our merit, that has moved God to demonstrate His goodness, and kindness to us in salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God's singular, greatest grace gift. God's grace is in Christ. 

3. God's Uncommon Grace to Believers

Grace and Peace
1 Corinthians 1:3
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace from God's Word
Acts 20:32
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Grace Adequate for Generosity
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Grace Adequate for Suffering
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Grace for Comfort and Hope
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Common grace is amazing grace; but God has poured out grace over grace in the uncommon and particular ways His grace is given to us for every need we face in life.

4. God's Grace is Always in Christ
It's not just that we're saved by God's grace through Jesus, but He is always the medium through whom our experience of God's grace comes. To experience more of the riches of God's grace, draw near to Jesus.
John 1:14-17
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
2 Timothy 2:1
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Revelation 22:21
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

God's grace is our experience of more of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

Generations ago, there lived a man who heard the Scriptures from his mother in his youth, but she died and he became the worst version of himself possible.

He grew up, and became went off to sea, working as a slave trader. In his darkest time, he saw God's grace, and eventually wrote what is probably THE best loved hymn - Amazing Grace.

-Do I live with a consistent humility of the grace of God?
-Do I live with a  consistent thankfulness because of the grace of God?
-Am I quick to pray for others knowing my own need of the grace of God?
-Am I quick to forgive others knowing the grace of God in my own forgiveness?
-Am I drawing near to Jesus in Scripture, prayer, and fellowship to experience more of the grace of God?
-Am I speaking of God's amazing grace to others?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!