Monthly Archives: November 2014

2 Corinthians 4.13-18

Title: Don’t Get Comfortable

Text: 2 Corinthians 4.13-18

CIT: …knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

CIS: We are confident in this Message because we have lived it and know we’ll reap the rewards in the end.

Introduction: When Lisa and I were in Colorado, we went to Ridgeway. Ridgeway is the place where True Grit was filmed. We actually saw a couple of places where John Wayne walked and rode. We looked for the ranch where the film opens up as we drove along Last Dollar Road. We saw the steps where John Wayne walked his prisoners into the Court House. We stood at the meadow where Rooster Cogburn put the reins in his mouth and charged the 4 outlaws firing his weapons from both hands.

Of course we then rented the video and watched it. Often times when we watch old movies like that, I’ll say: most of those people are dead now. She’ll say: You’re so morbid! I am, I guess. But I’m continually reminded that this life is but a vapor.

We’re finishing up our series on Paul’s confidence in the message of hope. Next week, I’m having surgery tomorrow and will be down this next week, so I’m asking Andrew O’Kelley to fill in for me. Let me tell you what’s coming up:

  • During the Holidays, I had planned to preach in Luke, the 1st two chapters.
  • After the new year, I am planning to preach a five to six sermons series on Evangelism with the basis found in Isaiah 6.
  • Then, I’ll return to 2 Corinthians chapter 5 – Paul’s Confidence in the Future and the Gospel.

That’s the plan. I might not follow it. If the Lord directs otherwise, I’ll make those adjustments.

Today, we’re in the last message from Paul to the 2 Corinthians explaining his confidence in the message he’s received from the Lord. In Chapter 4, Paul has expressed his Confidence in the message being displayed in its proclamation; its power; and its purpose – the glory of God. He said in v. 1 and again in v 16: We do not lose heart. We don’t lose heart because our message of hope, when it is communicated brings, Glory to God.

Now, I’ve outlined this passage into three parts: Paul states that our message of hope brings Glory to God

  • When we live it;
  • When we share it; and,
  • When we suffer for it.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st part: Our message of hope brings Glory to God

1.     Live it (13)

exp.: We are where we are because God has brought us here. And that establishes and grows our Faith in Him. I’ll show you what I mean; rd v 13; the 1st part of this verse is self-explanatory; we share the same faith; but notice then he quotes a passage; footnote or cross reference identifies this quote as coming from Psalm 116; Now, you and I are probably not as well versed in the Psalms as most Jews were; So, let’s head over to Psalm 116; 113-116 are The Psalms of the Hallel; Sang/chanted during the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths.

113: His Amazing Condescension

114: His Awesome Presence

115: His Exalted Glory

116: His Great Deliverance

117: His Universal Appeal

118: His Enduring Mercy

ill.: Focus:

116: His Great Deliverance

  • His Distress – v. 1-7
  • His Deliverance – v. 8-11
  • His Devotion – v. 12-19

app.: Paul was declaring His great love and faith in the one who had delivered him. And, that this faith lives, or should I say lived in them, too. Furthermore, as we read this today, that same faith lives in us – that is, those of us who have noted our distress and relied on the deliverance from death from our Savior. His action in our lives drives our devotion to him.

t.s.: Paul states that our message of hope brings Glory to God when we live it; and 2ndly, when we share it

2.     Share it (14-15)

exp.: Our Message is quite simple. Paul gives it three components here; note the 1st component: rd v 13-14a;

– Resurrection

  1. Jesus Christ is Risen from the Dead; I love Paul’s defense against the Sanhedrin and before the governors Festus and Felix was about the Resurrection. He said: basically, I’m on trial today because I believe in the resurrection. Man, that set the Sanhedrin off on each other. It divided the Sanhedrin because the Sadducees didn’t agree with it, but Pharisees did. Listen here, so much of what we hold to as Christians is built upon this idea that Christ was raised from the dead. Paul says:

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

t.s.: The 1st component of our message is the resurrection of Christ. The 2nd component is

  1. Our Future Resurrection; rd v 14a-b; knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also; The very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead has quickened our spirits and brought life to our spirits and will also raise us with Him on that final day. Should Jesus tarry, brothers and sister in Christ, you and I have this hope, this knowledge that when we die, our bodies shall be resurrected – in the same manner that he was raised. And the 3rd component here is that we’ll be ushered…
  2. Into His Presence; rd v 14; for me, that’s heaven; I’m not so into the streets of Gold and the Pearly Gates. No, heaven for me will be the powerful presence of God. As the folks read today, God’s throne is central. Everything moves out in circles from there. But when we see the people there are myriads and myriads, thousands upon thousands surrounding the throne. There are people from every tribe, tongue, people, nation, and language.

Transition: Our message contains the resurrection of Christ and our resurrection into his very presence. Now, if the first section contains the resurrection, this second section contains the results of this message being preached and believed:

– Results; read v 15; I don’t like the way this verse is translated. It’s not wrong, I’d just change a few things if this were my job; in doing so, I think it is easier to see these three results: rd 15a; I’d change it to: for all these things are (on account) because of you; The thought is that these people have been faithful to share the story with others; 2ndly and probably better communicated in a 2nd sentence: Noun: Grace; Verb: might increase; D.O.: Thanksgiving; In order that Grace, having been multiplied (having super-abounded to more and more people), may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God;

How cool and how timely is that? Thanksgiving. Isn’t that what this holiday is all about? A time to bow our hearts before God and thank him for the grace he has poured out on us. And the more faithful we are – in sharing, in living out this gospel – the more thanksgiving flows from the many.

I think Paul is sharing three results of this sharing and living:

  1. The advancement of the gospel: having been multiplied to more and more people.
  2. The deep gratitude of the believers: increases Thanksgiving
  3. The Glory of God; soli deo Gloria;

app.: So, in v 16 – we are confident – we do not lose heart!

t.s.: We are confident as we live it, as we share it and thirdly, our message of hope brings Glory to God when we suffer for it.

3.     Suffer for it (16-18)

exp.: rd v 16a-b; Do you know how to endure? He’s told us before, he’s only repeating it: perspective.

  1. Body vs. Spirit; the outer man vs. the inner man; rd v 17;
  2. This light momentary experience vs. The Weight of Glory; this verse reminds me of the great verse in Romans 8.18 – 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. And the third example of comparison: rd v 18
  3. His Perspective: Transient vs. Eternal

t.s.:

Conclusion: I think that’s what the Psalmist meant when he said: Teach me to number my days. You know, there is another verse in the Psalm we looked at earlier. It’s found in v 15: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Maybe we need to look at this life like He does. I think if we did, we wouldn’t be trying to get so comfortable down here.

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Genesis 29.31-30.24

Title: 12 Sons

Text: Genesis 29.31-30.24

Introduction: Marriage – Gen 2.24; 4.23ff; 16.2ff; Esau took two wives, and then a 3rd; Jacob’s polygamy also results in disaster; not only were they two wives, but they were sisters to boot! You’ve got to kind of feel for Jacob; it wasn’t his fault, per se; Abraham kind of, too; 1 Cor 7 has a great emphasis on singular husband and singular wife. Ephesians 5 gives us the best Christian view;

This is ugly no doubt: tell me, what challenges were there? What relational difficulties. What good came out of this? The basis for the 12 tribes:

Leah would have 4: Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah

The Concubines would have 4: Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Gad

The Sisters would each have 2: Issachar & Zebulun; Dinah; Joseph & Benjamin (35.18)

Transition: Rd 29.30-35; what do you see?

1.     Rachel’s tension with Leah (29.31-35)

exp.: the focus isn’t Leah or Rachel; its on the Lord; Leah gets it right; rd 30.1; 29.31 – hated; Semitic comparison; 29.30 clarifies; Deut. 21.15-17; Now, Leah’s focus wasn’t right at first: look at their names and why she named them that:

Rueben – See, a son, now my husband will love me.

Simeon – heard; heard that I’m hated

Levi – attached; now my husband will be attached to me

Judah – praise; this time I will praise the Lord

This is good. It doesn’t seem so at 1st; What did the 1st three sons do to bring shame? However, Levi would be the priestly tribe and Judah would be the kingly tribe. That is, the Priestly line would pass down through the ages from Levi (think: Moses, Aaron, Mary) and The Kingly Line would pass through Judah (think: David, Joseph, who fathered Jesus)

Transition: We see from her 1st four statements and names that she desperately wants to be loved. Her problem isn’t so much that Rachel despise her, but more that her husband doesn’t love her.

2.     Rachel’s tension with Jacob’s (30.1-8)

exp.: rd v 1; If Leah was desperate for her husband’s love, Rachel was desperate for children. She had no greater desire. Middle Eastern society didn’t really pity barren women, but rather disdained or scorned them. People wouldn’t feel sorry for her, but rather would look down on her. Look at what this does to her relationship with her husband; rd v 2; It’s not my fault – only God gives children; So, she takes matters into her own hands (cf.: Sarah); rd 3-5; I wonder, do you think her focus is corrected? Her competition with her sister has forced her to do the foolish; Rd v6-8;

Dan – Judged; he has judged, he has heard, he has given

Naphtali – Wrestled; I’ve wrestled with my sister and won! Really?

Transition: Has she really won? Well, not to be outdone, which of course she isn’t, Leah, seeing she has ceased to get pregnant, gives her maidservant to Jacob. Poor Jacob.

3.     More Tension between Sisters (30.9-13)

exp.: rd v 9-11; is this all good for Jacob? Do you think he’s losing his mind between these sisters?

Gad – good fortune; rd v 12-13;

Asher – happy;

More tension between sisters and Jacob is suffering for it. We don’t see it in Scripture, but I wonder if there is tension between the maidservants, too? Your thoughts?

Transition: Well, 4 boys by Leah, 4 boys by the maid servants, but Rachel’s humiliation isn’t through!

4.     The Battle is not over (30.14-21)

exp.: rd v 14-15; What Reuben found was what was thought to be an aphrodisiac/fertility drug; The ancients thought that mandrakes helped with the whole process; Song of Solomon 7.13; In ancient times, people referred to mandrakes as ‘love apples’; Now, the Bible isn’t endorsing mandrakes as either an aphrodisiac or a fertility drug; however, these two ladies bought into the thought and used it against each other.

Rachel thought it would help her conceive; Leah thought to use it to her advantage

Transition:

5.     After all, Rachel still doesn’t get it (30.22-24)

exp.: rd v 14-15; What Reuben found was what was thought to be an aphrodisiac/fertility drug; The ancients thought that mandrakes helped with the whole process; Song of Solomon 7.13; In ancient times, people referred to mandrakes as ‘love apples’; Now, the Bible isn’t endorsing mandrakes as either an aphrodisiac or a fertility drug; however, these two ladies bought into the thought and used it against each other.

Rachel thought it would help her conceive; Leah thought to use it to her advantage;

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2 Corinthians 4.7-12

Title: Confidence in the Power of the Message

Text: 2 Corinthians 4.7-12

CIT: Paul’s confidence was in the power of his message and not the vessel carrying the message.

Introduction: Isn’t it funny or odd how you can be looking at something and not see it? Like this: Jesus

This past Spring, I was walking and came upon a copper head snake. It was straight across the trail and a little hard to see. He didn’t move. I grabbed a stick and tried to pin his head down. I missed. He took off into the leaves just inches away. I was finally able to pin his head down, but that didn’t kill him. I had to find another stick to force through his body and detach his head. I looked around me and found one. I looked back and he was gone. I started to drop the stick and run, but as I let up he moved and I was able to see him again. I did kill him. Show pics;

I’ve not forgotten that moment when the snake was right beneath me, but I couldn’t see it. It blended in perfectly with the leaves. How could he be right there and I not see him. Answer: Perspective.

A paradox is a seeming self-contradictory statement. The Christian life is filled with examples. St. Francis of Assisi: It is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Today we’ll see how Paul expresses his confidence in this message of hope by using a series of paradoxical statements. Our text is 2 Corinthians 4.7-12; read with me; rd v 7-12;

Prayer; What would cause this confidence in the power of the message?

Paul was confident because…

1.     Paul understood who he was in light of who Christ is. (7a)

exp.: rd v 7a; – this is what it is – A treasure in you – Paul calls it a mystery: Col 1.27-29 – 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Of the Treasure – it is the light of the Gospel of God – Jesus Christ as Lord in you; there is so much we could say about this treasure, but let me just ask you: Do you view this gift of salvation – having received Christ Jesus as Lord into your life – as a precious treasure? Matthew 13.44-46

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Of the Vessel

ill.: How Much Are the Elements in Your Body Worth?

Ann Marie Helmenstein, Ph.D.; www.chemistry.about.com; Updated: October 2014

Have you ever wondered how much the elements in your body are worth? First, let’s take a look at the elements from which you are made. Your body is approximately:

  • 65% Oxygen
  • 18% Carbon
  • 10% Hydrogen
  • 3% Nitrogen
  • 1.5% Calcium
  • 1% Phosphorous
  • 0.35% Potassium
  • 0.25% Sulfur
  • 0.15% Sodium
  • 0.15% Chlorine
  • 0.05% Magnesium
  • 0.0004% Iron
  • 0.00004% Iodine

Your body contains trace amounts of other elements, such as silicon, manganese, fluorine, copper, zinc, arsenic and aluminum. What is the going rate for a body’s worth of these elements? One US dollar! Are you surprised?

Let’s see if we can bump the price up a bit. If you’re looking to make a buck with your bod, your best bet would be to sell individual organs, but since that’s illegal, an alternative might be to tan your hide for use as leather. Your skin would be worth about $3.50 if it were sold at the price of a cowhide, which runs around $0.25 per square foot. So, if you take a dollar’s worth of elements plus the value of your skin, you might be able to get $4.50, which we’ll round up to $5, so you’ll feel better about your chemical value.

app.: Jars of Clay! But, these vessels contain a valuable treasure.

t.s.: Paul understood the importance of a proper perspective: seeing himself for who he really is and seeing the treasure he held for its great value

Paul was confident, because…

2.     Paul understood that God’s purpose was to demonstrate God’s power through Paul. (7b)

exp.: rd v7b – this is why it is –; Paul understood that God’s purpose was to demonstrate God’s power through Paul; have you ever thought to yourself that you’d like to be taller, shorter, better looking, darker hair, lighter hair, straighter chin, squared chin, more muscular, a little heavier, a bit more slender, not needing glasses, not needing medication, less freckles, more freckles, a little faster, a little stronger, a bit wiser, a little smarter, a lot smarter? Really, what would the perfect vessel, clay Jar look like? What changes would God need to make to you or in you to make you the perfect jar of clay? I found a pretty good answer. Can I share it with you?

his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

        He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

…yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

        But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

…He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

        By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

        And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10    …Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

…Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

and he shall bear their iniquities.

12         Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

because he poured out his soul to death

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.

exp.: we think that God’s message should be carried in perfect vessels and that we’re not suitable. We think we don’t look good enough, we’re not smart enough. Well, what Paul is telling us is that God’s power is displayed through our weakness. rd

  • Of Power – hyperbole – surpassing power
  • Of Weakness – not to us; 12.7-10; So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 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. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

ill.: I think Satan is good about making us feel unworthy to share this incredible message. You’re no good. You’re not worthy. Remember that sin. Maybe you’re afraid of sharing with someone and you know they know you. You know they’re gonna throw your sin back in your face. I think our sin should be a catalyst for launching the gospel. Yes, look at my sin – Paul would say – of all the sinners, I’m the worst – Yes, look at my sin. But don’t stay there. Because I don’t want you to see the how ugly my shame is – I want you to see the mercy of God in my life!

app.: you are a vessel, a clay jar that carries a light to a dark world.

t.s.: Paul’s perspective and understanding was clear. And that gave him confidence. It was a springboard for evangelism.

Paul was confident, because…

3.     Paul understood his suffering allowed the powerful light of God to shine through his life. (8-11)

exp.: what it is; why it isthis is how it is – rd v 8-11; Paul knew the suffering he endured, the persecution he endured would somehow brilliantly displayed the glory of God. Notice his suffering:

Afflicted, Perplexed (to be at a loss), Persecuted (Jesus told us to expect), Struck down.

Afflicted, not crushed; why? it was the will of the Lord to Crush him, not us.

Perplexed, not driven to despair; means to be utterly at a loss; this almost sounds like a contradiction compared to 1.8; but he explains; rd 1.9-10; to die. He was crushed, he was put to death…

Persecuted, not forsaken; indeed, it is his promise to us who said: I will never leave you nor forsake you. We are not forsaken, but he was! Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Struck down, but not destroyed; Mark 8.35, 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Yes, should Jesus tarry, we’ll all die. And, it just might be through persecution, suffering. Paul is saying that suffering in these weak vessels allows the life of Christ to shine through.

We are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. But in all of that, even if we die, it is Christ who shines through it all. If you’re not getting it, rd the next verse, His point is clear: v 10-11.;

Given over to death, but displaying the life of Christ; we glibly quote Galatians 2.20; I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I’m not sure at time that we fully understand what Paul means

ill.: There is a story in Judges that communicates just how the light shines; 7.16-22;

app.: the light which shines in the Jar of Clay, can only be seen by others when it is broken.

t.s.: Paul was confident because he knew who he was in light of who Christ is; he knew the purpose and power of God was displayed through his weakness and suffering.

Paul was confident, because He had

4.     Seen the Outcome this message had in others lives (12)

exp.: rd v 12 – So death is at work in us, but life in you.; – this is his conclusion; the power of God at work through us effectively changing lives.

Conclusion: Dr. Matthew Sleeth; 24/6: Story of man who went to ER;

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2 Corinthians 4.1-6

Title: Where does confidence come from in the Minister?

Text: 2 Corinthians 4.1-6

Introduction – Paul continues to communicate his confidence to his audience and to us as he says: Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart; that is, The Ministry of the Spirit, The Ministry of Righteousness. His declaration of Confidence comes in three ways:

The Proclamation of the Message: v 5; His Focus on what God has accomplished in the Past. – 4.1-6

The Power of the Message: v 7; The Power of the Message preached in the present. – 4.7-12

The Purpose of the Message: v 15; The glory of God. 4.13-18; There is an eternal, futuristic aspect to this section cf.: v17;

Let’s turn our attention to today’s lesson in asking: From where does the minister’s confidence come?

Let me give you those answers as outlined by Paul and then we’ll make our way through the text, taking time to locate his answers.

1st, he says that confidence comes from one’s personal experience.

2nd, he says that confidence comes from the message being straightforward.

3rd, confidence comes from the fact that the results aren’t up to me.

4th, confidence comes from Christ and the fact that we know who He is.

Transition: it’s funny to stand here and proclaim this confidence when I don’t always portray it – Confidence! Preachers are real people with real problems that plague us. In recent weeks you’ve probably heard of Mark Driscoll’s failures, struggles and his recent resignation from Mars Hill in Washington. I only mention it here because it demonstrates the struggle of a heavenly message shared through fallen humans.

Some Christians will shun the news and avoid the topic out of embarrassment and lament a pastor’s very public failures. Such people think the church should have perfect people in it – and perfect pastors in charge.

Some non-Christians will celebrate and revel in it all. I hope you’ll see this as a moment for the grace of God to come shinning through. Indeed, that is my hope and prayer.

Mars Hill consequently, announced that it is closing its doors on January 1st, 2015. That is 14,000 members – 14,000 members who need to be encouraged, who need to find a new church home. I wonder will any of these people fall away, leave church, abandon the faith because so much of their faith was tied up in a man. I sincerely hope not.

You see this is a great moment and a great opportunity for the church – Not Mars Hill, but the Church – Capital C. It is a moment for us to display the very qualities and characteristics of this message of hope we proclaim. Indeed, our confidence isn’t in a man or a church or program. Our confidence is in what we as believers have already experienced in our own lives – the incredible mercy of a holy God.

Rd v 1: Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, …we do not lose heart. Paul is saying…

1.     Confidence Comes from the Commission to share what we’ve ourselves have experienced (1)

exp.: you and I are sinners; that hasn’t changed. We need God’s incredible forgiveness – everyday – ever hour! And this ministry we’ve received – it’s what we’ve experienced; by God’s mercy; it’s God’s mercy in our lives being extended to whom anyone this message is proclaimed!

ill.: we don’t just work for the company, we’re satisfied customers; Do you know who you should be concerned about?

  1. Someone who works for Pepsi, but drinks Coke
  2. Someone who works for Microsoft, but owns an Apple
  3. Someone who works for Reebok, but wears Nike

app.: the salvation we preach is the salvation we’ve received! The forgiveness of sins is what we’ve experienced! That makes an easy pitch, ladies and gentlemen.

Transition: Confidence Comes from the Commission to share what we’ve ourselves have experienced, and 2ndly, Paul says…

2.     Confidence Comes from a Straightforward Message (2)

exp.: rd v 2a; we’re not salesmen; there are no tricks; there are no gimmicks; our message is straight-forward because we have:

  1. Renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways
  2. Refused (to act in two ways:)
    1. to practice (live in) craftiness or cunning
    2. to tamper with God’s Word (Thus saith the Lord); look back in 2.17;

ill.: I have to admit that preachers who don’t use Scripture, scare me, bother me. Now, I’ve seen some impressive men preach from memory. I watched T.D. Jakes do it once. Wow. Even quoting from the passage he was teaching – from memory. But, there are men (and women) who take a passage here and a passage there, tampering with God’s Word to make it say what they want.

I can understand why they don’t take on certain passages – some things are hard to understand and even harder to communicate. But that’s no excuse. Paul is saying we don’t make excuses and we don’t tamper with God’s Word. NASB – We don’t adulterate the Word of God. Ouch! But, rd 2b;

3we openly state the Truth –

  • to others; i.e., we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience
  • in the sight of God – who for me is an even scarier audience.

ill.: have you ever tried to buy a car? Don’t you wish the salesman would just sale you a car and not haggle with the price? spinning wheels and making deals; Can you imagine what it’d be like if you bought your groceries that way?

app.: Paul says we are confident because there isn’t any spinning wheels and making deals. No punches pulled, no trickery or gimmicks.

Transition: It is simply “Thus saith the Lord.” Confidence Comes from the Commission to share what we’ve ourselves have experienced, and it Comes also from a Straightforward Message. Thirdly,

3.     Confidence Comes from a Knowledge that it’s not up to me (3-4a)

exp.: rd v 3-4; if they are blinded, it is because the god of this world has blinded them; if they believe, it is because Jesus has shone in their hearts;

I can’t make people be saved or lost. I don’t have the power to hold someone’s sins against them or the power to forgive people their sins. I don’t even have the power to save myself! I can’t be good enough, or work hard enough. No, that’s above my pay grade. There is a spiritual battle here that I can’t control and don’t have the power to enforce. I’m involved, though. And so are you. As a soldier in this battle I’ve been commissioned:

  • To Pray
  • To Go
  • To Share

ill.: And so have you. Rudy: two immutable truths – there is a God and I ain’t him.

app.: there is freedom in knowing that the results aren’t up to me. It gives me the confidence to simply, straight-forwardly share what I know – what I’ve experienced.

Transition: And Finally, Paul tells us in v 5;

4.     Confidence Comes from the Christ (4b-6)

exp.: rd 4-5a; for what we proclaim; and what is that? the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, He expounds on this and says: This is what we see and proclaim to you. Paul lists three different aspects to the Glory of Christ.

The Glory of Christ shows us that:

  • He is the Image of God – rd v 4c; Heb 1.3: He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature; if you go to that verse in the ESV, there is a footnote, a reference note to 2 Cor. 4.4; Col 1.15-20 says: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Jesus said in John 14: when you’re looking at me, you’re looking at the Father.
  • He is the Savior of the World – look at these three titles; rd v 5a;
    • Jesus – he was a Man – he came to earth in human form –; Yeshua – the Lord saves; Simeon – I have seen your salvation, a light for the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel.
    • Christ – he is the Messiah –the promised one who would rule and reign and save his people. The promised one who would rule on David’s throne. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ!
    • Lord – He is God – How is this possible? 100% of Human, 100% God. I don’t know, I can’t explain it in scientific terms. I don’t know of any earthly artifact or person like him. But I know the God’s Word tells me that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. I know that God’s Word tells me he thirsted and he got tired and he wept. He was fully human – tempted in everyway that I’ve been tempted and yet He was without sin! Fully man – Fully God – the Messiah of the World. Three titles describing him as Savior of the World.

He’s the Image of God, He’s Savior of the World and 3rd, He’s the aspect is…

  • He is The Light of the World; rd v 6;
    • they believe, we believe because Jesus, the Light of the World, who said, “Let there be light” and there was light, has shone in our hearts;

app.: When you think about it, it is truly amazing how it all works. Someone believed. Someone heard the gospel and believed. Their lives were changed because of the message. Their sins were forgiven; their destiny was changed and they needed to tell somebody. I don’t know who that was – but they were faithful to share with you. They experienced the forgiveness and mercy of God. And, so evident was it in their lives, that told you. They told you the Truth about your sins and God’s mercy. They held nothing back, but with the greatest of simplicity they shared with you the Gospel of God. And somehow, the veil that covered your heart was pulled back and the bright light of Christ shone into your heart and changed you forever.

Transition: And now, you’ve been commissioned to share that same mercy. And with the results not up to you – you tell them that straightforward message. You have confidence because you’re forgiven, because Christ is who he claimed to be: God, in the flesh, savior of the World.

Are you perfect? Will you ever mess up? Listen, that’s the beauty of this message. I wish we could find a way to use the failures of our past to display the awesome mercy of our Savior. Too often, we let those failures, that rebellion – let’s call it what it is: sin, we let that sin stop us from taking this message to the lost. It’s probably the best tool Satan uses against us. Listen to me now, if you’ve failed in the past, stop using it as an excuse and start using it as an example! The past is just that – it is past. If we’ve confessed our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and has purify us from all unrighteousness. Isn’t that our hope?

You know, if the story of Mars Hill comes up, it might just be a great opportunity to share the story of God’s mercy. In many ways, it’s not just an abracadabra; get out of jail free card. God’s mercy is something we need our whole lives through. Maybe you’re in need of that mercy this morning.

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Genesis 29.1-30

Title: The Deceiver is Deceived.

Text: Genesis 29.1-30

Introduction:

Where we left off: Jacob had deceived his brother; stealing his birthright and his blessing. So Jacob was left with some decisions to make. Last week he looked at his Dilemma – stay and risk his life; His Departure and His Dream – God’s activity there in that place with Angels coming down from heaven and going up to heaven on this later, this flight of stairs (an escalator); and His Declaration – kind of conditional if I recall. In this chapter we hear God’s unconditional promise: rd 28.13-15; When he woke up, he made a vow to always serve the Lord, if the Lord would do as he promised.

Transition: This evening we’ll look at Chapter 29 through verse 30. I’ve divided this passage up into 4 parts:

  • Jacob’s Arrival
  • His Extended Family
  • A Deal is Struck
  • Laban’s Deception

Let’s begin with his arrival in v 1;

1.     Jacob’s Arrival (29.1-8)

exp.: rd v 1; lit.: He lifted up his feet; Set up the scene: rd v 2-3; So, he strolls into Haran and meets these Shepherds waiting with their flocks; rd v 4-6; So, Jacob has come to the right place after such a long journey. Maybe he’s had this conversation before, at other towns getting to this one. Dunno. Now, however, he’s at the right place. But these guys seem to be uncomfortable with this fellow from the West. What a great opportunity to dump him on Rachel, who just happens to be coming up the way to water her sheep.

Transition: Now, he asks them a good question: rd v 7; the implication is that it’s still early. You should have watered your sheep by now and be out there pasturing them, so that they can eat. Lazy bums! Rd v 8; Now, let me preface this next part with a statement about men: Guys, don’t we just get goofy around our girls? I mean in the beginning, when we first meet them.

So, we read of Jacob’s arrival. Now we’ll meet his family – beginning with Rachel.

2.     Jacob’s Extended Family (29.9-14)

exp.: Rd v 9-10; So, what usually takes a bunch of shepherds to take care of – rolling away the stone – Jacob, does on his own. There is an interesting wordplay in this passage; Rachel means ewe lamb; So it’s basically saying here comes a lamb with her lambs; Rd v 11; One commentary I have said that it was love at 1st sight. That may have been true, but I don’t think you can take that from this verse, because kissing was the customary greeting (cf. v 13).

There is something interesting to note here – I can find no other instance in the Bible where a man kisses a woman who is not his wife or his mother. Can you think of any?

Rd v 12;

  • So he meets his cousin – his mother’s, brother’s daughter.
  • Now, he meets his Uncle. Rd v 13; Jacob basically fills Laban in on what has brought him here; I guess he left out the part about the deceiving and all! Rd v 14; whatever it was that Jacob told Laban, it convinced him that Jacob was truly apart of his family; And, so he stays a whole month;

Transition: I wonder what this month was like? Is Laban thinking that Jacob is here to stay? Will he leave soon? Laban then takes matters into his own hands and strikes a deal with his Nephew…

3.     A Deal is Struck (29.15-20)

exp.: rd v 15; it’s a good question; Jacob needs to start earning his keep; I wonder if Laban is disappointed by this time, because the last time this happened with Abraham’s servant, the servant shelled out some coinage. That hasn’t happened here! Rd 24.53;

The biblical narrative breaks away to inform us of some very important details; rd v 16-18a; a comparison is made; soft vs beautiful; most commentators (as opposed to uncommon tators) think this means that there was no fire in her eyes; the opposite of Rachel; rd v 18b; 7 years wages; That’s a lot of money! Take your yearly salary and multiply it by 7! One commentary (NIV Application) says that the going rate was 3-4 years wages. The Law teaches that all debts were canceled after 7 years, but this is before the Law. So, maybe Laban thinks about it for a moment and realizes he’s getting the better end of the deal; rd v 19; I’m not so sure this is a compliment! Rd v 20; awe! That’s deep! Listen to Hughes:

Truly, Rachel became the love of Jacob’s life, despite the fact that he would father children by Leah and the two wives’ concubines when they used their maids as pawns in a birth war. Years later as Jacob lay dying he said to his sons, “As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (48:7).

Transition: Jacob must feel blessed to work so hard and it seem like nothing, because of what he’s getting! This brings us to our final section and brings us to our last point…

4.     Laban’s Deception (29.21-30)

exp.: rd v 21; He sounds impatient! I wonder if the emphasis isn’t so much on the impatience of Jacob (after all, he has waited and worked for 7 years!), but rather on the impudence of Laban? Has Laban been holding out on Jacob, maybe making him go a little longer and getting more out of him? There must be something to this because rd v 22-23; The deceiver has been deceived! Tell me how this is possible? Wait for responses:

  • The Feast – my guess is wine would be involved
  • The Veil – my guess is the garments and the veil hid who she really was
  • The Night – my guess is it was late and all was done in darkness
  • The Bride – she had to be a willing accomplice; I wonder if she secretly loved Jacob, maybe despised her sister’s beauty?
  • Rachel – how did Laban get her to be silent? Was she party to the deception? Did Laban restrain her?

I wonder what Jacob’s 1st reaction was when he awoke to the morning light and there was this unwelcomed guest in his bed! I wonder, too, if he felt for Esau any? Rd v 26-30;

Transition: Where was God in all of this? 14 years – two wives and two concubines!

Observations & Implications:

  1. God is at work, even when we don’t see it. Remember the ladder?
  2. It seems to me that God allows great slots of time to pass between his personal encounters. Do you think we expect God to give us supernatural experiences to close together?

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2 Corinthians 3.7-18

Title: A Tale of Two Covenants

Text: 2 Corinthians 3.7-18

CIT: The Old Covenant, in its temporary condition, could never fully display the glory of God to the people failing to adhere to it; however, the New Covenant, in its permanent condition is transforming those who believe by its powerful glory.

CIS: The Old Covenant, in its temporary condition, could never fully display the glory of God to the people failing to adhere to it; however, the New Covenant, in its permanent condition is transforming those who believe by its powerful glory.

Introduction: We’re in 2nd Corinthians. I wanted to start by reviewing the history that Paul had with the Corinthian church. Here is a simple outline:

  • Visit #1: The Church is Planted
    • The Previous Letter (The 1st Letter): Offering them guidance
      • The Corinthian congregation sends a letter of response with questions and concerns.
      • Timothy is dispatched to deal with the situation.
    • 1st Corinthians (The 2nd Letter)
  • Visit #2 – The Painful Visit – Paul leaves Ephesus and makes a quick attempt to correct matters, but leaves abruptly.
    • The Severe Letter (The 3rd Letter)
  • A Visit with Titus assuring Paul that all was well and good in Corinth (2.12-17; 7.6-7)
    • 2nd Corinthians (The 4th Letter)
  • Visit # 3 – He leaves Ephesus and travels the interior to Corinth for his 3rd and final visit.

Now, in this 4th and final letter, our copy of 2nd Corinthians, it appears to be written with the goal of explaining why he did not come to them as he had originally planned. Basically, in chapters 1-7, Paul explains why he has been unable to come to Corinth. In chapters 8-9, he talks to them about the collection in which they had promised to take part. And in the final section he talks to them about what he plans to do when he gets there: take up a collection and deal with some concerns. Throughout his letter, Paul appears to be content with his ministry and confident in his service, but concerned with their behavior. For our benefit, I’ve divided Paul’s letter into 4 parts:

  • Contentment (1-2): contentment in his leadership, his plan, his decision to delay coming to them and in God’s Direction for his life and ministry.
  • Confidence (3-7): where we’ve just begun, he is confident in his ministry and it’s message, his future, the Gospel. He’s confident in affliction and in grief and in sorrow.
  • Collection (8-9)
  • Concerns (10-13)

Our area of focus in this letter deals with his confidence in the ministry in which he’s been called to preach and to serve. And this is so clearly communicated in the opening verses of chapter 3; rd v 1-6; There we see his confidence in this ministry from God.

But, what of this confidence? What about the ministry gives him such confidence? He simplifies this matter for us by giving a comparison of the two covenants, the old and the new, and then concluding for us just what that means. So, I’ve outlined this passage simply as:

  1. A Comparison of the Two Covenants (7-11)
  2. A Conclusion to the Two Covenants (12-18)

Transition: Let’s begin in v 5 with the 1st part see how he begins his comparison of the two covenants:

1.     A Comparison of the Two Covenants (3.7-11)

exp.: rd v 7; Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?; basically, Paul is offering a commentary on Exodus 32-34; and really, the story goes back to Exodus 19; turn there with me;

  • The promise twice to obey; 19.8; 24.3;
  • While Moses is gone, the people rebel; 32.1; Man, that was quick!
  • The way it used to be; 33.7-11;
  • The glory of the Lord reflected in Moses face; Exodus 34.29-35;

exp.: 34.30; they were right to fear!

Now, some scholars disagree about why Moses wore the veil.

  1. The old school of thought was that the Old Covenant, the Law, was fading away. And that is true. Moses went into God’s presence, came back and his face reflected brightly the glory of God. Then, he would cover his face as the glory faded from it. Shielding the people from seeing the fading glory of God.
  2. There are many others, mostly modern scholars, who understand that Moses put a veil over his face to protect the Israelites. Listen to the New American Commentary:

Paul says that the Israelites were unable to look at the face of Moses ‘because of the glory of his face’. Consequently, Moses had to veil this glory from the gaze of the Israelites. What was it about the glory that demanded this practice? The Exodus narrative makes clear that viewing the glory of a righteous and holy God can be extremely hazardous for iniquitous humans. Moses had asked to see God’s glory, but God warned him that gazing directly into the face of God was fatal. Moses hid his face at the burning bush because he was afraid to look at God. When God placed Moses safely in the cleft of the rock, covered him with his hand, and revealed only his back, Moses face still shown from his encounter with God. Moses alone caught a fleeting glimpse of God’s frightening majesty and splendor and lived to tell about it. By contrast the Israelites had continuously grumbled against God, mutinied against Moses, and bowed down to a golden calf. Their sinful condition put them in jeopardy to look even at this glimmer of God’s glory reflected in Moses’ face. Provence summarizes Paul’s idea well:

“For those who have already determined to be rebellious, God’s truth only causes them to be more rebellious against it. Paul’s intention, then, is to illustrate the hardening effect that the glory of God may have upon those whose hearts have not been changed by the Spirit.”

God’s holiness would have consumed the people had not Moses veiled himself.

The truth is that this word in Greek is hard to translate into English. In the NT it is found 27 times in 26 verses rendering it: destroy, nothing, end, void, released, abolished, use (as in use up), gave up (I gave up childish ways), nullify, overthrow, pass (as in pass away), taken away, severed, and removed. It’s no wonder that modern scholars have difficulty with this passage.

Really, though, both are true and apply. God is indeed terrifying and magnificent.

ill.: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

So 1st, God is terrifying and magnificent and 2nd, The Law was temporary – fading away, if you will.. The emphasis here isn’t about Grace and Law, but rather about the glory of each covenant. And furthermore, the glory of the New Covenant is so much greater. Look at v 9-10;

For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it.

His first point was that the glory of the Old Covenant was huge, big! So big, Moses veiled his face! But now, the glory of New Covenant far outshines it – quote: it surpasses it so much so, that it appears to have no glory at all! And then he gives this 3rd and final comparison; rd v 11; 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

The Ministry of Death vs. The Ministry of the Spirit
The Ministry of Condemnation vs. The Ministry of Righteousness
The Ministry of the Temporary vs. The Ministry of the Permanent

app.: Paul says that we, who are weak and insufficient for the task of presenting the Gospel, are given a message and ministry that are sufficient in themselves. God’s glory and power make them sufficient that way.

Transition: He clarifies in v. 12 stating that this is our hope! And then, he brings a wonderful summation, a conclusion to what this means; and that’s part two of this passage…

2.     A Conclusion to the Two Covenants (3.12-18)

exp.:

  1. The Ministry of the Spirit gives life and makes hearts receptive to God because they are no longer hardened. Rd v 12-14; only through Christ is it taken away. We are made spiritually alive, not by works, not by legalism and adherence to rules and regulations, but by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 2nd, Paul says…
  2. The Ministry of Righteousness justifies sinners and establishes that there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rd v 15-16; no longer relying on the Law to justify and make one righteous, a righteousness, apart from the Law, has been made know. 3rdly,
  3. The Ministry of the New Covenant is permanent and everlasting. And, because of that, we now have hope – a hope that:
    1. Gives us Boldness to share this everlasting message of hope. The Gospel: that God is infinitely holy and we are infinitely not!

ill.: According to David Garland, author of the New American Commentary, when Paul uses this word hope, it denotes for him a supreme confidence grounded in divine realities.

  1. Reveals to us who Christ is in all of His Glory. The veil is taken away.
  2. Frees us from legalism and works to love and serve the Lord. It’s not that we don’t work and we don’t obey. No! we do. But we don’t work and obey to gain our salvation. That was bought for us by Christ on the Cross. We now work and obey out of love – there is freedom there.
  3. Is Transforming us more and more into the image of His Son. rd v 18; Notes in the Gospel Transformation Study Bible: …this bold beholding of God’s glory is the very means that the Spirit uses to bring about our ‘utter transformation’ into the image of God’s glory (v18). From start to finish, the believer is being transformed by God’s glory, for God’s glory, and into the image of God’s glory.

Transition: Dr. Mohler, president of Southern Seminary sends out an email each morning, Monday- Friday. It contains articles from News magazines and various other culturally relevant stories a pastor should be aware of. The headlines are usually stories he is going to address in his podcast: the briefing. This past week there was a Time article entitled: What Christianity Without Hell Looks Like

So, here’s the story.

  1. God is infinitely holy. That’s made clear in the book of Exodus. In him there is no imperfection, no blemish – only perfection.
  2. We are sinful people – the Law shows us that.
  3. The requirement to be exacted for our sin is death. So, the penalty of our sin must be paid in full.
  4. God in his infinite mercy provides a gracious gift of forgiveness through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, who died on the cross to pay that debt.
  5. Today, I offer you the forgiveness of sins by the sacrifice of Christ. The Bible teaches us that Jesus in all of his perfection took our sin upon himself when he died on the cross. And by placing our faith in him, all of his perfection is credited to us.

Maybe you are tired of the way you’ve been living your life. It just hasn’t worked out. Would you try it his way? Would you trust him and follow him?

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