Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are You Ready

The Coming Supper

I. God Commands People To Prepare

A. Examine yourself. “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:28)

B. Are you trusting Jesus for salvation? Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

C. Would anyone who knows you be able to give evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in you? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

D. What do you know about Jesus? “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

II. Ignoring the State of the Soul Kills

A. Carelessness opens the door to hell. “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Corinthians 11:29)

B. Attentive people know the greatness of their own sin and wretchedness, the wonderful liberation from sin’s consequences, and the unlimited gratitude appropriate for full redemption. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” (Titus 3:3-8)

III. Remember Jesus’ Love

A. Jesus first loved us. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

B. Believers won’t perish; though we were sinners, we will live forever. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

C. Redemption is as reliable as God because it was His idea, not our effort. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)

D. The Christian life is entirely a matter of grace. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

They Were Afraid To Ask

Jeremiah 45:1-5; Mark 9:30-32 / Psalm 16:1-11

I. The Atonement Isn’t Intuitive

A. The disciples knew that Jesus was the Messiah but they did not genuinely understand what that meant. “And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.” (Mark 8:27-30)

B. Jesus needed some privacy with His friends to help them move from knowing the words to understanding the doctrines He was about to embody. “And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. (Mark 9:30)

C. Jesus had to make certain His friends had a clear grasp of what would follow in the week of His passion. “For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.” (Mark 9:31)

II. The Cross Had Begun To Cast Its Shadow

A. Knowing the words in the formula is not the same as understanding and embracing the truth; when Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, He reached back into the prophets to explain the rejection which would engulf His ministry and lead to the cross. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 12:2)

B. The title—Son of Man—could refer to a man like Ezekiel who was a faithful servant or it could refer to the figure in Daniel who would establish God’s ultimate kingdom. “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-14)

C. Jesus also identified Himself with the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. See Isaiah 52:13-Isaiah 53:12 “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth . He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:3-9)

D. Because holy people were seeking a deliverer like the ones ungodly nations had chosen, Jesus had to teach the disciples the truths which would explain the passion about to take place. “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19-20)

E. The atonement on the cross and the resurrection introducing the eternal era of righteousness will come to pass only because the redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, being the eternal Son of God, became the son of man, and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Timothy 2:5) “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. (Hebrews 7:24)

III. The Disciples Were Too Afraid to Ask

A. Jesus had to seize the teachable moment. “But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.” (Mark 9:32)

B. No one needs to be confused or double minded; God gives understanding to people who seek it from Him. “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:4-8)

C. Life’s answers are available to confident believers for the taking. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Get Me Out of This Mess

Psalm 60

I. David Had Another Problem

A. God sometimes ruins plans because they are flawed; David was reflecting on his problems between battles. To the chief Musician upon Shushaneduth, Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aramnaharaim and with Aramzobah, when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand. O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.” (Psalm 60:1) The song was written to play on the Lily of Testimony.

B. The same God Who can make the earth shake can make it take a nap. “Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.” (Psalm 60:2) “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6) Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” (Psalm 46:2-3)

C. When God’s people seriously consider hard times, disasters transform themselves into timely warnings.Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.” (Psalm 60:3)

D. Christians owe God thanks when hard times prevent falling into worse situations; Providence reveals truth. Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.” (Psalm 60:4) “Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” (Isaiah 49:22)

E. Praise God for solved problems; difficult quizzes prevent failed exams. That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me.” (Psalm 60:5)

II. God Will Keep Solving Problems

A. While still in the middle of his problems, David was ready to praise God for the solutions he expected. God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.” (Psalm 60:6)

B. God turns problems into opportunities and consequently prayers for help become occasions for celebrating solutions. “Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver; Moab is my wash pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.” (Psalm 60:7-8)

C. The memory of hard times will humble the soul. Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.” (Lamentations 3:19-20)

III. Life Will Get Better

A. Christians must learn to think beyond their own resources when evaluating problems; once the problem is left to God, He can find the solution. “Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?” (Psalm 60:9) “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:22-23)

B. God occasionally lets His people learn reality through failure just as any parent has to let children learn some lessons the hard way; never presume that God has turned His back. Wilt not thou, O God, which hadst cast us off? and thou, O God, which didst not go out with our armies?” (Psalm 60:10)

C. Keep turning to God; every appearance of shadow is a prompting to prayer; only God has satisfying and long-term answers for hard times. Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.” (Psalm 60:11) “A Song of degrees of David. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:” (Psalm 124:1-3)

D. The only absolutely guaranteed solution to life’s problems is to hand them off to God. Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 60:12) A Psalm of David. Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:” (Psalm 144:1)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Only Prayer Solves Some Problems

2 Kings 4:8-37; Mark 8:14-29 / Isaiah 1:1-20

I. A Crowd Gathered for a Dispute

A. After His private time with the three disciples on the mountain, Jesus encountered a crowd, and it was interested in Him. “And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.” (Mark 9:14-15)

B. Jesus asked the scribes about the cause of the crowd and the dispute taking place; leaders of the religious establishment were always demanding that Jesus perform tricks for them. “And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?” (Mark 9:16) “And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. (Mark 8:11)

C. A man in the crowd drew attention to his suffering son. “And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; (Mark 9:17)

D. An evil force sought to torment and ultimately kill the son; the disciples were unable to help sufferers. “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.” (Mark 9:18) “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

II. Heaven and Hell Skirmished

A. Jesus was annoyed but He called for the boy. “He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.” (Mark 9:19)

B. The evil force fought back to retain the captive. “And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. (Mark 9:20)

C. Jesus gathered the diagnostic history. “And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.” (Mark 9:21)

D. The parent was so worn down that he brought only slim hope, not faith, to the situation, asking Jesus to do something if He could. “And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” (Mark 9:22) They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. (Psalm 126:5)

E. Jesus explained that the situation demanded more than longing; faith opens the door to success. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)

F. Faith, undergirded with confident expectation, is essential to successful prayer. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

G. The father was willing to do whatever Jesus wanted; believers must begin where they are with what they understand and trust God for the rest. “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

III. Jesus Displayed Heaven’s Power

A. Jesus expelled the evil spirit. “When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. (Mark 9:25)

B. The evil spirit put up a major fight to protect the stolen property. “And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. (Mark 9:26)

C. Jesus was stronger than the evil He fought. “But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. (Mark 9:27) He “arose” is a translation of the word also used for “resurrection.”

D. Even the disciples were amazed; how was Jesus able to do what they could not do? “And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?” (Mark 9:28)

E. Some problems are so great that they can only be solved by total reliance on God; it is only in human weakness that God’s strength is utterly obvious. “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29) “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:” (Daniel 9:3)

F. God reveals His glory by using the weak things of the world to destroy the power and influence of things which the world considers to be mighty. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Save Me

Psalm 59--The Holiness of the Imprecatory Psalm

I. Times Can Be Rough

A. What should a believer do when the secret police wait to kill; here is David’s answer. To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him. Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me. (Psalm 59:1)

B. David passed the problem up the line; God can deal with bullies and murderers. “Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. (Psalm 59:2)

C. Evil behavior sometimes needs no motivation beyond the bad character of the perpetrators; sin is a common feature of life. “For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.” (Psalm 59:3)

D. David asked God to put a stop to the people who hurried to do evil. They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold. Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.” (Psalm 59:4-5)

II. God Laughs When Evil Howls

A. The howls of evildoers are as ineffective as dogs baying at the moon. “They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.” (Psalm 59:6)

B. Evildoers act as though no one big enough to stop them were listening. “Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear?” (Psalm 59:7)

C. The last laugh is the best laugh and that one belongs to God. “But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision. (Psalm 59:8)

D. Believers can relax because they will laugh with God; He and His love are so much larger than the trials of life. Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence. The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies. (Psalm 59:9-10) “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

III. Take a Stand for Justice

A. David wanted justice but he did not want it to come so fast people would fail to understand that God was executing sentences. Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield.” (Psalm 59:11)

B. It is in the common interest for people to see the just reward for cruel words and curses; sinful pride is a self-disabling and destructive fault. For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.” (Psalm 59:12)

C. When justice consumes evil, people know that God is ultimately in charge. “Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.” (Psalm 59:13)

IV. Praise the Defender God

A. When the evildoers return and howl, remember that they are stressed because God will not let them have what they want; do not be fearful of their punishment. “And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied.” (Psalm 59:14-15)

B. The dark times will end and morning will return so the righteous can sing of God’s Providential mercy and protection. “But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. (Psalm 59:16)

C. Sing so everyone understands that believers are safe in the care of the Lord. “Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy. (Psalm 59:17) “David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.” (1 Samuel 17:37)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Transfiguration

Isaiah 40:1-11; Mark 9:1-13 / Psalm 104:1-35

I. The Coming Kingdom Appeared

A. Jesus told the crowd that some present would see His kingdom. “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1)

B. Peter, James, and John saw the ultimate kingdom. “And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.” (Mark 9:2)

C. The event dazzled beyond any possible human production. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.” (Mark 9:3)

D. Elijah and Moses appeared from Heaven to talk with Jesus. “And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:4)

II. Peter Caught the Excitement

A. Peter drew a connection with the Feast of Tabernacles and the approach of the end of the age. “And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” (Mark 9:5)

B. What does one say when the windows of Heaven open? “For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. (Mark 9:6)

C. God Himself confirmed Jesus and His call and ordered the witnesses to hear Jesus. “And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Mark 9:7)

III. Something More Important Was Coming

A. The visitors returned to Heaven as the angels had at the nativity. Jesus remained to finish His ministry, die on the cross, rise from the grave, and only then ascend into Heaven. “And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.” (Mark 9:8)

B. A wonderful event had occurred, but it would not be appropriate to teach until the cross and the resurrection had been seen and understood. “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. (Mark 9:9)

C. On Emmaus Road Jesus would explain everything and the encounter would become part of the gospel. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:27-32)

D. Peter explained what had occurred and why it had to be remembered. “Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:15-18)

E. Then Peter concluded the story with what may be the most amazing of all statements in Scripture; the Bible is more powerful than human experience or the most reliable testimony of tradition. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)

F. Scripture is not a matter of private experience or interpretation; the Bible must be understood in the context which it supplies. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20) Consequently truth cannot be a matter of private opinion.

G. Scripture is God’s interpretation of the gospel story; the Holy Spirit produced the Bible and speaks in it as the final authority on all things in the church. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:21)

H. Here is what the Bible says. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

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