Friday, January 8, 2016

Luke 14: 1-6

Numbers 14: Sermon Sum-Up

Jesus is invited to Sabbath dinner at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees.  Have you noticed that Jesus eats and drinks quite a bit?  Eating and drinking is hugely important in the Bible.  God feeds the children of Israel in the wilderness. Jesus feeds the crowds listening to him because he has compassion on them (Matthew 15:32).  Moreover, Jesus commands that we eat the communion supper, “Do this, in remembrance of me.”  I want very much to have a full meal communion service.  This would help us to remember what Jesus has done for us on the cross and it would point to the feast that we shall share with the Lord in the time to come.  But no matter how worthy something is, it can become an idol.  An idea can fill up our hearts and minds to the extent that we no longer see who God is.  “Going to heaven” is a wonderful thing.  We do not fear death. In addition, we avoid making an idol of safety when we know that with the Lord’s help we will go to heaven when we die.  But even “going to heaven” can so fill our hearts and our minds that we forget about God.  I once saw a movie produced by a famous evangelical.  In the movie the main characters were so driven to witness to a couple (and thus “get them into heaven when they died”) that they forgot basic pity, forgot even to have an ounce of compassion.  The moviemakers were entirely unaware that the drive to “witness” had completely usurped any thought of our Lord who is filled with pity and compassion. (Exodus 34:6) 

 Anything can become a false idol.  What we want and need more than anything is the Lord.  How can we remind ourselves of the Lord?  First, we remember how prone we are to make idols and simply ask that we might know the Lord.  Second, another prayer: Ask the Lord, “Lord, make me like you.”  Our inheritance is that we should be like God.  This belongs to us.  In asking we remind ourselves of who God is; he is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, forgiving.  He does not keep these treasures to himself.  He gives us his all.  Therefore ask him for what he has promised.  In this way, we can begin to knock down the idols that we make and get what we really need, our good and gracious God.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Luke 13:22-35, Preached December 2015

Note the very first verse of the reading, “Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem”

“To Jerusalem” This little phrase has great importance.  The man recognizes that Jesus is the king who comes to Jerusalem, promised beforehand in Zech. 9:9  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, behold thy king comes to thee, he is just and saved lowly and riding on a donkey.”  He is the Son of Man (Dan. 7).

And so he asks despairing, “Lord will only a few be saved?”  because from his Greek Bible he reads that there will only be a few see Ezekiel 5:3 and Isaiah 10 (Septuagint).

But Jesus bucks him up, pushes him to hope.  Strive to enter into the narrow door!  Don’t go along with the crowd.  In 2015 you are not going along with the crowd by going to church.  You are doing something anti-cultural.  Moreover, should a follower of Jesus stop just outside the church, turning on Jesus as he (Jesus) enters?  No indeed.  In these days “normal” is getting coffee and going to brunch on Sundays, taking the kids to soccer.  Don’t be normal!  The poems of Scott and Thomas
LOOK not thou on beauty's charming;

Sit thou still when kings are arming;

Taste not when the wine-cup glistens;

Speak not when the people listens;

Stop thine ear against the singer;
From the red gold keep thy finger;

Vacant heart and hand and eye,

Easy live and quiet die.


Do not go gentle into that dark night, rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Listen to the poets, they are calling to you! The king is indeed arming, sit not still! (Isaiah 59:17)

Jesus also gives a “carrot” to the man, not just the “stick.”  In the Bible (MT) there are also “many” predicted as going into the kingdom.  See Isaiah 53, how all Israel is saved in Ezekiel, the numberless crowds in Revelation.  We are not to put God in a box.  The Lord is just.  He is the judge that says“Yes” to one and “No” to another.  It may be however that the Lord will say say“Yes” to mankind and “No” to sin and death and the devil!  Don’t limit God’s grace!  It’s not over until it’s over.  The kingdom that you are striving to enter, fighting to enter may be a lot larger than you could ever even have imagined.  Go for it!  Despair not!

Luke 12:49-59

Jesus says, “I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:49)

How can we understand this fire?

Read 1 Kings 18:17-40, note especially Elijah’s prayer, the fire is to show the people who God is.  Is it Baal?  No.  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is God. “YHWH is God.”  ( vs. 39) The fire is also to show the people, “that thou hast turned their hearts back.” (I Kings 18:37)

Jesus speaks of the fire and “the baptism.” They are the same thing. He is speaking about his cross. 

The cross is that which is sent down from heaven so that the people, both Jews and Gentiles may know who is Lord and who has forgiven them, “turned their hearts back.”

The cross is the mercy, the “bowels” of the Lord, that is, as we would put it today, his heart.  This is why Jesus is “restrained” (Luke 12:50)  

Read Isaiah, the prophet asks, “are thy mercies (or bowels) restrained towards me?”

We learn more about this constraining or restraining of mercies from Joseph.  Read Genesis 43:31 and Genesis 45:1

This also shows us why “God waits” to be merciful (Isaiah 30:19)  It is not because God is being cruel by delaying.  Rather, God is waiting for the right time, restraining his overwhelming love for us.  As it says in Romans 5:6 “At the right time Anointed died for the ungodly.”

Luke 9:28 through vs. 61, Sermon Sum-Up, Preached Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Sermon Sum-Up:  “Jesus Makes Us Able”

First, a note.  Just because someone is not healed when you pray for him, does not mean you lack faith.  James 5:15 says “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” However, remember Matthew 15, the Syro-Phoenician woman to whom God said “no.”  She pressed on.  This was her faith.  Moreover, Jesus who is faithful had to persevere in the case of the man blind man (Mark 8:22).  Remember that “faith” can also mean our “establishment” from God. God may be establishing us by calling us to patience.  We may be showing “faith” or “establishment” through patience and perseverance.
Question:  Why are to persevere in prayer?
 Judges 3:2 “When Israel came into the promised land, God left certain enemies in the land in order to teach the people to war, to train them up,” that is, to teach them to fight the good fight to teach them to be patient and to fight despair

Go back to Luke 9:28ff, Jesus is not in agony because boy is not healed right off the bat. The problem is much bigger.   Note in each version of this story (Matthew and Mark) the repetition of the phrase, “not able.”  
This is the problem, the spirit of fear and the spirit of “we can’t.”

Read Numbers 13:30ff-14 Spirit of “We cannot!”  Spirit of Fear “Let us go back to Egypt” Choosing a way that is no way. Contradicting God.
Jesus, on the other hand, gives us the spirit of “Can do!”  Lord, we are able!

Jesus heals the boy but note what he then says to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears, the Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.”

The crowd that so admires him now, will betray him.  This reminds us of I Samuel 26:25.
However, we should not be distressed by their or our fickleness.  Remember Joseph’s words to his brothers, “do not be distressed or angry at yourselves.” (Genesis 45:4)

Remember too, Psalm 51
3For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. 4Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak.

David, looking back on his sin, sees that it was to show the justice of God.  The crowd that crucified Jesus but God meant it for good and for their good, and for our his show his justice.

God’s justice shown on the cross of the Son of Man makes us able, not a people of “I can’t” but rather, “I Can” and “We Can!”