Jesus

Spiritual Disciplines: PRAYER

Leonard Ravenhill said, "No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

A Survey on Prayer

In a recent survey, people were asked some specific questions about their prayer life. This was fascinating:

  • Of those who say God exists, 70% pray daily, as do 10% of those who don't believe in God. 
  • 42% ask for material things when they pray
  • 45% of 18 to 24 year olds pray meditatively
  • 91% of women pray, as do 85% of men. 
  • 32% regularly feel a deep sense of peace: 12% never experience this. 
  • 26% regularly sense the strong presence of God: 21% never do. 
  • 15% regularly receive a definite answer to a specific prayer, 27% never have, 25% have once or twice. 

Ask the average Christian, and most of them would say they are praying daily. They may pray in one spot at a repeated time, or "reflexively" throughout the day as situations arise. Certainly Scripture exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." How does one 'pray without ceasing'? By living in a constant communion with the Lord--from the opening of the eyes each morning to the close at the end of day--you are relying on God for your daily bread and are perpetually crying out to Him in adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.

The Sermon on the Mount

The spiritual discipline of prayer is something Jesus specifically instructs us about in His sermon on the mount, In Matthew 6:5-18, Jesus says, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

The Pharisees (to whom Jesus is referring to here as hypocrites) loved to pray in front of others.  They were expert actors in the art of religiosity.  I wonder how many Christians today are the same way--expert actors--fooling everyone that they really love God, but behind closed doors, they take off the mask and are just like the world. Jesus says they have received their reward in full.  That means the reward they get is just some guy walking by saying, “Oh, wow, he’s praying.  Cool. Man, what a guy”. But Jesus says we are to be different than the religious hypocrites who are fakes:

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

The Prayer Closet

Not "if" you pray. But 'when'. Jesus encourages us to go to a private place, and spend time speaking with our Father in heaven. This is what we call ‘the prayer closet’.  This is not the location where your wife's dozens of shoes are tucked away, but where you go away and get alone with God.  Do you have that place? Maybe it’s your room, or maybe a place under a tree or on the beach. For many, their prayer "closet" is simply that same chair where they sit down and seek the Lord. For others, it is the driver's seat of an empty car during a morning commute. Wherever it is, it is a place where only God sees you, and you aren’t praying simply to impress others. Notice verse 7:

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Short and Simple

For many years, I thought that the longer and more 'spiritual' a prayer, the more spiritual the person.  But this is simply not true. Sometimes people start their prayers with, “Oh God, Ruler and Master of the Universe…”  They use formal titles of respect for a God they are completely unfamiliar with.  I love prayers that are short and simple and direct.  I think that is the picture here also that Jesus is striking in our dependent, reflexive prayer life of communion with the Father.  When you read through the Psalms, you see short, simple and direct prayers that are true to David’s heart:

“Oh God, save me!”

“Help me Lord!”

“My heart is thirsty for you God!”

We often think that we need to pray long, drawn out prayers so God will stop running the universe and say, “Wow!  THAT is a prayer!  Gabriel, Michael, come here!  Listen to this!  This woman is using such eloquent speech when she prays!  I’ll definitely answer her prayers from now on!”

The pagans would pray to their false gods by babbling phrases over and over, in a sort of incantation that would invoke empathy or mercy. But Jesus says that our Father knows what we need before we even ask.  So if He knows, why do we bother asking?

Why Pray?

I believe it is to commune with Him. Jesus was equal with the Father, and yet completely dependent upon Him (John 5:30). Why did Jesus bother to pray constantly throughout His public ministry? Because it afforded time to speak with and fellowship with His heavenly Father.

A.W. Tozer said, “Sometimes I go to God and say, "God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth, I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast done already. God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.” 

Often God will not answer our prayers--not because He is unable or is too busy--but because we are praying with wrong intention. James said in his letter, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:2-3).

God simply wants us to ask.  But when we do ask, sometimes we don’t receive what we are asking for because we are asking with the wrong motives.

Have you ever prayed for something that you never got? Did you end up grateful that you didn’tget it when things turned out later?

“Lord, please let this guy propose to me and marry me!”

“Lord, please let this business deal go through!"

“God, I beseech you, by your authority in heaven and earth, please give me a new Camaro."

We ask with the wrong motives, so often God is gracious to not answer our prayers in the affirmative. We are to pray "in Jesus' name", which simply means to ask as if Jesus Himself were interceding. Ask yourself this question: Is this a prayer that is in line with what Jesus would pray? Is this a Biblical prayer? Will the answer to this prayer conform me into the image of Christ? Will it help glorify God through my life?

Keep Asking

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus nears the conclusion of the sermon on the mount with these words:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Asking is very general.  You askthe store clerk to help you find vegan pancake mix (which sounds like a mistake).  But seekingis a little more intense.  You’ve asked, but now you are vigorously seeking after it, pacing up and down the aisles at Whole Foods desperate for your breakfast. Knocking is even more persistent still: now you are pounding on the manager’s office door, saying, “I need my V-cakes!"

That's a silly example, but I wonder how many of us view prayer the way Jesus describes it in Matthew 7. Asking, seeking, knocking. The Greek tense implies a continual asking, a continual seeking, a persistent, unending knock on the door of Heaven.

We aren't to give up on God because he hasn’t answered one of your prayers.

Often I'll ask someone how many times they have prayed for this? They answer, “once.” No! We should be constantly praying, submitting our prayer requests to the Lord. Often we don't pray but talk to others about the problem rather than the One who can resolve it in an instant.

The Lord's Prayer

On one occasion, Jesus' disciples wanted to know HOW to pray.  They asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, and Jesus did.  In Matthew 6 verse 9, Jesus gives them what we call "The Lord's Prayer". It is actually more accurately known as 'the disciples' prayer": 

9 "This, then, is how you should pray: 
"'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 
10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
11 Give us today our daily bread. 
12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' 
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. 

Does it get more simple than that? Jesus says prayer is this:

  1. Submit your life to your heavenly Father.
  2. Give Him the honor and glory He is due.
  3. Trust His will and invite Him to do His work in His way.
  4. Ask for Him to provide for your needs today.
  5. Confess your sins and in prayer forgive others who have sinned against you.
  6. Beseech Him to protect you and direct you away from the path of evil.

And notice that Jesus tells us to ask for 'daily' bread? That means we need to go to Him today. And tomorrow. And every new day until we are with Him in glory. We have the privilege of seeking the Father in prayer and trusting Him to answer. No man is greater than his prayer life. So rise up, and be greater today!

Pastor Pilgrim

Spiritual Disciplines: FASTING

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Fasting: Receipt through abstention

Guest Writer: Joe Beery

Sanctify a fast...and...say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach...Then will the Lord...answer and say...Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things" (Joel 2:12-32) 

When I was at a music festival in high school, I heard a speaker say that, “fasting was like pouring gasoline on the fire of your prayers.” Being the 16-year-old pyromaniac that I was, this image was burned into my memory. That story jumps to my mind often, and I share it with people at least once every few months. And yet—I suck at fasting. I don’t have anything close to a schedule that I follow, and I’ll usually only remember that I should fast when I want God to give me something or when I feel like the world’s crashing down around me. 

I’m also pretty sure that I’m not alone on this one. I contend that most Christians in the West today only think of the discipline of fasting when they’re considering a fad diet. (And that’s not to let my Eastern brothers and sisters off the hook; I’m only speaking for what I know). This isn’t a dig on the health benefits of fasting—often God’s commandments prove to beneficial to our bodies and our souls. But the abandonment of such a powerful discipline is concerning: more than begrudgingly turning the discipline into a ritual (like prayer) or failing to follow the discipline but recognizing that it should be done (like giving sacrificially), fasting seems to have fallen totally off the radar. 

Scripture provides a 3-chord understanding of the practice in the form of answering 3 “W” questions. 

1. What is fasting? 

In more vivid colors, the question reads, “Is fasting purely an abstention from food, or are there other manifestations of this practice?” The typical biblical fast is certainly one from food; there are also instances where God’s people engage in absolute fasts, abstaining from food andwater. Furthermore, there are some examples of abstaining beyond food and drink; for example, Paul encourages married couples to abstain from giving their bodies to one another for a season of spiritual formation, and then to come together again.[1]

One of the most important take-aways here is that fasting is not abstaining from sin. The joining of a husband and wife, or the taking in of food for sustenance, are both high-order goods. These are gifts from God. You don’t “fast” from porn or from gluttony—you mortify these sins through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Fasting is something else entirely. In order to “discipline the flesh” and “make it a slave,” (i Cor. 9:27), we are called to spend time denying ourselves goodthings that werightlydesire for a season as a reminder that they are not ultimatethings. This discipline has been furniture in the house of Orthodoxy since the earliest days: Tertullian wrote a treatise on the subject in A.D. 210. In it, he defended fasting as a better aid to religion than feasting. Polycarp, the disciple of John, urged fasting upon the saints as a powerful aid against temptation and fleshly lusts in A.D. 110. 

2. Who should fast? 

When reading about the biblical description of fasting, it should be immediately apparent how counter-cultural this discipline is. We live in the midst of a call to hedonism— “happiness” and “pleasure” are the ultimate aims of society. Spiritual formation as counter cultural isn’t unique, though. Jesus laid out the three essential components to Christian living that likely struck the same recalcitrance in His audience that it strikes in us: prayer, alms-giving, and fasting.[2]Christ’s command is, of course, backed by his practice—before beginning his ministry, Jesus fasted forty days and nights in the desert, enduring our temptation (Matt. 4:1–11). There’s no wiggle room: both Jesus’s actions and his teaching indicate the essential nature of fasting in the Christian life. 

There are also only one circumstance that the Bible says is not a time to fast: when the incarnated Logos is bodily with you (Mk. 2:19). Jesus, then says, once He’s departed, then his disciples will fast (Mk. 2:20). Essentially every other circumstance is demonstrated to be one where fasting is warranted. Mourning? “[The Israelites] mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”[3]Worshipping? “While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”[4]In a season of preparation? “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me … When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”[5]Old? “Anna … was very old … She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”[6]

3. Why should we fast? 

When Jesus teaches on fasting, there’s a promise linked with the commandment—as Paul reminds us in Eph. 6:1–3 (discussing obedience to parents), we should always be mindful of promises linked with commandments because God does not lie; His promises can be relied upon. Therefore, when Christ says in v. 18 that “your Father who sees [you fasting] in secret will reward you,” we can rely on that promise. 

Furthermore, we should fast for the very reason that I was told to fast at the music festival all those years ago: fasting is gasoline on the fire of our prayers. Historically, when men and women have linked fasting with prayer, they have witnessed the Shekinah glory—God’s manifest presence. From John Wesley to John Calvin, regular practices of fasting has led to revival, reconciliation, and reformation as the eyes of God’s people are lifted from the ordinary and set on the extraordinary.

Consider the words from Joel at the head of this blog: “Sanctify a fast...and...say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach...Then will the Lord...answer and say...Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things." This is an interpolation of a passage instructing the Israelites in pleading with the Lord for mercy and for the presence of God. We mustfast because we’re called to fasting; we must fast because we live in world woven through with the curses of Genesis 3, the “sin that so easily ensnares us,” with “an enemy that prowls like a hungry lion, seeking to devour us”; we must fast because the Church has been given a way to conform our hearts with the heart of our Creator, and to create immeasurable intimacy with Him. “Why should we fast?” Why wouldn’t we? 

-----

[1]i Cor. 7:5. It is debatable whether this call to abstain from intimacy is “fasting” in the purest sense of the word, however the heart motive appears to be the same—denying that which is not forbidden in order to further commit oneself to God.

[2]Matt. 6.

[3]2 Samuel 1:12.

[4]Acts 13:2.

[5]Esther 4:16.

[6]Luke 2:36–37. 

Cutting Room: Christ Unveiled

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Cutting Room is every bit of research that didn’t make it into the Sunday sermon. As always, thank you to my research assistant Ryan Tanski!
— Pastor Pilgrim

Quotes about Jesus

  • "He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with him, and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine. No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break, his whole life was love, yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all of our stark realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes. He saved others, yet at the last Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality." -James Stewart, Scottish theologian
  • I would propose that the subject of the ministry of this house, as long as this platform shall stand, shall be the person of Jesus Christ. I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist, but if I am asked to say what is my creed, I think I must reply, “It is Jesus Christ”. The body of divinity to which I would pin and bind myself forever, God helping me, is Christ Jesus, who is the sum and substance of the gospel, who is Himself all theology, the incarnation of every precious truth, the all-glorious personal embodiment of the way, the truth, and the life. -Spurgeon
  • "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Ghandi 
  • "If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses." -Lenny Bruce  
  • "You think that your laws correct evil - they only increase it. There is but one way to end evil - by rendering good for evil to all men without distinction." -Leo Tolstoy
  • "We're more popular than Jesus." John Lennon

Word studies for verse 2 “witness” and “testimony”

Witness = martyrian (μαρτυρεῖν): I witness, bear witness, give evidence, testify, give a good report.

  • to be a witness, to bear witness, testify, i. e. "to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something, or that (so in the N. T.) he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration" (sometimes in the N. T. the apostles are said μαρτυρεῖν, as those wire had been eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses of the extraordinary sayings, deeds and sufferings of Jesus, which proved his Messiahship; so too Paul, as one to whom the risen Christ had visibly appeared)
  • From the word Martus, where we get Martyr 

Testimony = marturia (μαρτυρία): Also means to witness

  • In a legal sense, one who testifies before a judge, or in this case The Judge. 
  • a testifying: the office committed to the prophets of testifying concerning future events

Verse 4 “what are the ‘seven spirits’?

  • There are at least three possible interpretations of the seven spirits of God. The first is that the seven spirits of God are symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The Bible, and especially the book of Revelation, uses the number 7 to refer to perfection and completion. If that is the meaning of the “seven” in the "seven spirits," then it is not referring to seven different spirits of God, but rather the perfect and complete Holy Spirit.
  • The second view is that the seven spirits of God refer to seven angelic beings, possibly the seraphim or the cherubim. This would fit with the numerous others angelic beings that are described in the book of Revelation (Revelation 4:6-9; 5:6-14; 19:4-5).
  • A third possibility is based on Isaiah 11:2, which says, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” This could possibly explain the seven spirits of God: (1) Spirit of the LORD, (2) Spirit of wisdom, (3) Spirit of understanding, (4) Spirit of counsel, (5) Spirit of power, (6) Spirit of knowledge, (7) Spirit of the fear of the Lord. The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically who/what the seven spirits are, but the first interpretation, that they are the Holy Spirit, seems the most likely.

Other Bible references for verse 8 “Alpha and Omega, who is and who was and who is to come"

  • Isiah 44:6 - Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
  • Revelation 22:13 - I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
  • Isaiah 48:12 - “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.

Word studies for verse 9 “partner in the tribulation” and “patient endurance”

  • Now the Revised Version is distinctly an improved version in its rendering of these words. It reads ‘partaker with you,’ instead of ‘companion,’ and so emphasizes the notion of participation. It reads, ‘in the tribulation and kingdom and patience,’ instead of ‘in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience’; and so, as it were, brackets all the three nouns together under one preposition and one definite article, and thus shows more closely their connection. And instead of ‘in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,’ it reads, ‘which are in Jesus Christ,’ and so shows that the predicate, ‘in Jesus Christ,’ extends to all the three-the ‘tribulation,’ the ‘kingdom,’ and the ‘patience,’ and not only to the last of the three, as would be suggested to an ordinary reader of our English version. So that we have here a participation by all Christian men in three things, all of which are, in some sense, ‘ in Christ Jesus.’ Note that participation in ‘the kingdom’ stands in the centre, buttressed, as it were, on the one side by participation ‘in the tribulation,’ and on the other side by participation ‘ in the patience.’ We may, then, best bring out the connection and force of these thoughts by looking at the common royalty, the common road leading to it, and the common temper in which the road is trodden-all which things do inhere in Christ, and may be ours on condition of our union with Him.

Preparing for Sunday 7/30

Hey Shoreliners!

The worship team is going through a book called “Worship Matters”. The last chapter encouraged us to remember that the most important thing we can bring to Sunday morning is not our voices, instruments, or musical arrangements, but our hearts. It challenged us to keep our focus and desires on the Lord and what His purposes are. So, as we come together this Sunday, let’s check our hearts - what do we love the most? Where do we spend most of our time? What do we spend our money on? Great questions to think about as we seek to grow deeper in our walk with the Lord become more like Jesus! Here’s what we’ll be singing this Sunday:

1. Happy Day

I love starting off our service with this joyful song about “the greatest day in history”! It helps us put our focus on Christ, who has redeemed us and given us a new identity in Him. 

2.  Everlasting God

As we continue singing, we direct our praise to the one who gives us strength, who is everlasting, does not change and will not fail. We know that everything here on earth is temporary and has a potential to fail, even the ones closest to us may let us down - but our God never will!

3.  Ever Be

Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” This song reminds us of our Lord’s promise to sanctify us and continue to work in our lives until Christ comes back, or we go to be with Him. May all the glory and praise always go back to Jesus for doing this in our lives. We could never achieve this without Him!

4. This I Believe

This song is based on The Apostles Creed, and it’s important for us to always affirm and hold to the historic teachings as put forth in scripture and affirmed throughout the centuries. I think its especially appropriate to sing this after last week’s teaching on false teachers. We live in an age when so many are abandoning truth - we must fight against this and stay true to God’s word!

5. I Will Rise

During this series in 2 Peter, we’re singing songs that focus on Christ’s return. We’ll close out our service by singing this beautiful, well-written song about the confidence we can have in Christ’s return. We will rise and join with the angels and saints in singing “worthy is the Lamb”. O what a day that will be!

Sermon Recap (11/6) "Proverbial Fool: Scoffer"

Growing up, you probably heard the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." In fact, you may have even said this yourself. But the truth is, that phrase is totally wrong. I would venture to say that every person can remember at least one moment in life when someone has said something to us that remains with us today. Maybe a parent told you that you could lose a few pounds. Or a classmate said you're annoying. Maybe a boss criticized your work in front of a group of colleagues. Whatever it is for you, it proves that age-old phrase to be false. 

Words have the power to destroy or restore life. Words are powerful.

This week in our Proverbial Fool series, we're taking a look at the proud fool - scoffer.

WEEK 4: THE PROUD FOOL

In Proverbs 13, Solomon introduces us to the scoffer. He says the scoffer doesn't listen to rebuke, his soul feeds on violence, and his lips shall have destruction. In just three verses, Solomon proves to us that words can hurt us. 

"You have never spoken a neutral word in your life. Either your talk brings life or brings death." -Paul Tripp

In Proverbs 4:24, he instructs, "Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you." We are directed in this book to stop speaking words that tear people down. Instead, to get as far away from becoming a scoffer. But how do we do that?

Luke 6:43-45 says, "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure in his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." In other words, trying to stop speaking hurtfully or saying bad words is like buying a bag of apples and taping them on a rotten tree. The state of our hearts are revealed in our words. In order to fix the problem - to produce good fruit - we  need to figure out the root issue. 

STORY OF A SCOFFER

A scoffer can also be described as a mocker, scorner, and babbler. They're the fools who ridicule people constantly. In the Bible, a great example of a scoffer is Nabal. In first Samuel 25, we learn that Nabal (the Greek word for fool) is a man who had material riches, but had no riches in character. He was a fool and a scoffer. Somehow, he was lucky enough to be married to Abigail (meaning a father's joy), who was kind-hearted and beautiful. 

As the story goes, David sent his men to talk to Nabal with kindness, offering peace. Nadal, as a scoffer does, rebuked them and offended David's name. When David heard about Nabal's response, he decided to send his men to fight. 

When David encountered a scoffer, he had to decide how to react. Proverbs 26:4-5 gives us two options:

  • Verse 4: Don't respond to a fool, or you'll be like him.
  • Verse 5: Respond to a fool, or he'll think he's wise.

These seem like such contrasting statements, but they actually aren't contrasting. They're simply giving us a choice. This is where the Lord comes in, because we have to rely on Him for guidance. The response really changes based on the situation.

FRUIT VS. ROOT

Take a look at this list to see the fruit that scoffers produce, and the root behind that behavior:

  • Arrogant | Self-Competence
  • Cusser | Self-Satisfaction
  • Liar | Self-Preservation
  • Talker | Self-Deception
  • Joker | Self-Glory
  • Flatterer | Self-Adultion
  • Gossiper | Self-Comparison
  • Complainer | Self-Exhaltation 

Do you notice a theme? Self, self, self self, self. Scoffers are all about themselves. The bad fruit that's produced is a result of idolizing self and making ourselves the most important thing.

THE REMEDY

Jesus, of course!

2 Corinthians 5:15: "He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."

We have to die to self in order to avoid becoming this proverbial fool. Once Jesus takes over in our hearts, our words will flow from a place of life, rather than death. Words have the power to bring life or death, so let's make an effort for our words to be words of encouragement and life. 


Sermon Recap (10/30) "Proverbial Fool: Adulterous

Have you ever watched a video of a a predator attacking its prey? Can you imagine a lion quietly waiting to pounce? Or a crocodile stealthily lurking before attacking its victim? Keep that picture in your mind!

This week in our Proverbial Fool series, we're taking a look at the adulterous fool - sensual

WEEK 3: THE ADULTEROUS FOOL

God created sex intentionally and with purpose to be shared in the specific context of Biblical marriage. In our world today, temptation to fall into this trap is everywhere. Solomon uses Proverbs chapters 5, 6, and 7 to warn us against becoming the adulterous fool. 

STORY

In Proverbs 7, Solomon walks us through and anecdotal example to help us understand why it's so important to avoid becoming this fool. He tells us he witnessed this fool in action. A man with no sense, walking toward the house of an adulteress at nighttime. He tells us she has a crafty heart and lurks, lying in ambush. She's a predator - it's exactly the same as a lion in hiding, waiting for the perfect time to attack. As he walks into the darkness, toward the temptation, she comes out at the perfect moment, catches him, and seduces him. She promises a reward, but delivers death. 

In verse 25, he says, "Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths." It starts in our hearts, and we slowly start walking down her street, toward her door, and end up in a place we never initially planned to be.  

"Temptation always includes hopeful promises; Otherwise, people would never take the Devil's bait." -Warren Wiersbe

SUFFERING

Beginning in Proverbs 6:20, Solomon continues the warning against adultery. In verse 22, he instructs is to bind our father's command upon our heart so that when we are in the midst of temptation, the truth can keep us away. If we don't, he warns us of suffering. 

The adulterous fool lusts in his heart (v. 25), he shall not be innocent (v. 29), he lacks understanding (v. 32a), and he destroys his own soul (v. 32b). This fool commits sin against his own body.

In today's world, people don't want to believe this. They glorify adultery or adulterous behavior in music, on tv, in movies, on the news, and basically on any platform we can find online. Instead of calling it what it is, we've switched vernacular to make it seem like less of an issue. It could be an affair, sleeping around, a fling, or cheating, but it is just as serious. 

SAFEGUARDS

The predator lies in waiting, using every means necessary to seduce us into becoming this fool. Whether it's the people we see, the content we read or watch, a negative emotion about our spouse, or even a song on the radio, there will be factors trying to lure is into the darkness like we read in chapter 7. So how do we safe guard against these predators?

Proverbs 5:1-6
First, we have to understand that the adulterous woman is meant to appear pleasurable, but will in fact lead to destruction.

Proverbs 5:7-9
Then, we have to keep far away from her. Unlike the man in chapter 7, we should not be walking down her street. Once we know where she is and how she attempts to lure us, we should turn and get as far away from her as possible. 

Proverbs 5:15-19
Be intoxicated by your spouse. In the context of Biblical marriage, as it was intended to be, sex is an absolutely beautiful gift from God. Rather than being distracted and constantly seeking more from pornography or people outside of your marriage, heed Solomon's advice to rejoice in the wife of your youth.

Safeguard your heart from becoming the fool. Study scripture, pray against the predator lying in wait, take steps to walk away from the dark path, and rejoice and invest into your marriage.


Sermon Recap (10/23) "Proverbial Fool: Lazy"

Everything in our society points us toward believing work is evil. We dread Mondays, find hope in Wednesdays (#HumpDay) and live for Fridays (#TGIF!). For some reason, we're stuck in this pattern of believing work is a bad thing.

This week in our Proverbial Fool series, we're taking a look at the lazy fool - the sluggard.

WEEK 2: THE LAZY FOOL

In Proverbs 6:6-11, Solomon says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep-So shall poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man."

Clearly, Solomon thought there was something wrong with being a sluggard. He instructs us to use ants as an example for how we should live. Ants do their work efficiently, without instruction, without anyone to praise them for their good work. Yet many people fall into the trap of becoming a lazy fool. They are idle, and they don't accomplish much at all, if anything.

To add to laziness, the sluggard is full of excuses for his unwillingness to work (Proverbs 26:13-16), he has the resources, but refuses to use them (Proverbs 20:4) and stewards his resources poorly (Proverbs 24:30-31). He has fields, he has opportunity, he has time, he has physical ability, but the sluggard doesn't use these gifts wisely.

Can you think of areas in your family or your job where you just do the bare minimum to get by, but don't truly put as much effort in as you should? Do you push the snooze button too many times in the morning? Do you go to work just for the paycheck, but not to make any real difference? Do you have the time, money, or energy to do more, and choose not to use them wisely? Maybe God has even been convicting you of laziness in your life lately!

A NEW OUTLOOK ON WORK

As we said earlier, we have pretty much been trained to believe that we shouldn't enjoy work. At some point, we starting thinking that work was a result of the fall - that it's not a good thing and that it's some sort of punishment for our sinfulness. This is just not true.

In Genesis 2:15, 19-20, before the fall ever happened, God gave Adam work! God intended for us to use our hands. We were meant to work and to not be sluggards. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, the Thessalonian church is instructed to work with their hands. Idle hands leave room for temptation and disruption. 

"Laziness could run a competitive race for the most underrated sin. Quietly it anesthetizes its victims into a lifeless stupor that ends in hunger, bondage, and death." -Ronald Sailler and David Wyrtzen

APPLICATION

The whole point of this series is to learn how to walk in wisdom by applying the fear of the Lord. In order to avoid becoming the sluggard, we should examine the heart behind everything we do. 

Do everything for God's glory
Colossians 3:22-24 - "Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ."

Sometimes, we get in the habit of only doing our best so others will notice us. It could be for a promotion or a raise, or even just to get a pat on the back. But everything we do should be to bring God glory and it should be done out of reverence for him.

Reflect God through your work
Titus 2:9-10 - "Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things."

By working hard, you can actually show Jesus in the workplace. Isn't that so cool? 

Redeem your time
Ephesians 5:14-17 - "Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light" See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

This passage in Ephesians is a great reminder that these days are evil. They are working against us, and we should spend every moment redeeming the time, bringing God glory, and walking in His will.


Is Our Worship Full?

In church we usually sing three or so songs, raise our hands, pray, and then we move on with the message. We call this time “worship”. We sing worship songs that are written by worship bands, and lead by worship leaders. We all are worshipers. As Christians, our entire lives are supposed to be worship. Worship isn't the song we sing, and how we sing it; it's our life and how we live it; living it for God.

Mark 14:3-9 shows us a beautiful example of what our worship should look like.

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

But Jesus said,“Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

This woman stepped out in bold faith. She knew who Jesus was, and didn't care what it took to honor him the best way she could.

Looking closer we can see that her worship was:

1. COSTLY

The oil was costly and worth over three hundred denarii. That's a year's worth of wages. The average single American income is around $50,000. Imagine giving that all at once. She risked being criticized by the people around her. She didn't let what others thought hold her back. What will our worship cost us? Our reputation, time, effort, energy, or talents?

2. SACRIFICIAL

To pour the oil, she had to break the jar so that it would never be used on someone of lesser importance. In one simple move she gave him all the hard work of her family, as it was likely a family investment or even part of her dowry. She lessened her value as a bride to bring glory to Jesus as she honored him in it. The disciples sacrificed their fishing nets, a tax collector's booth, even a desire to overthrow the government. What have we sacrificed to follow Jesus?

3. FRAGRANT

When she poured the oil, it's aroma filled the air. As the smell of an exotic perfume traveled the room, heads may have turned to see where it was coming from. To see this woman pour such a costly oil on Jesus brought light to his worthiness. Jesus corrected the critics from the group, and stated his appreciation for her good deed. Her act affected everyone in the room. The fragrance of the oil filled their noses, and they noticed what she had done for Jesus. In the same way our worship should be fragrant. It should be noticeable to those around us.

4. INTIMATE

As she walked up to Jesus she was focused on what she was going to do. She had the boldness to break the jar above his head and John 12 tells us that she moved down to his feet and wiped them with her hair. To have a level of comfort to spontaneously pour oil on someone's head requires an intimate relationship. Jesus says that she was preparing him for burial; she understood who he was. She became a servant as she used her hair to wipe his feet. Literally, she was serving Jesus at his feet. Our worship needs to be an intimate relationship.

Though she initially received criticism from the people around her, Jesus knew her heart and used her to teach the others that what she did was good and pleasing to him. She gave Jesus the best she could. Jesus gives us everything. His perfect life takes the place of ours, and we are given eternal life with him. In response we worship, and give him praise through our lives. Let's worship him for all that he is, with all that we have.

Have you sacrificed anything to follow Jesus?

Is your relationship with Him intimate?

Is your worship full?

Sermon Recap (3/20) "Crucified"

The cross is the centerpiece of Christianity. But sadly, many people see the cross as cool, elegant, or even unnecessary. We studied Mark 15:21-47 and saw 7 different eyewitnesses at the cross.

Simon of Cyrene

We met Simon, the Libyan proselyte who was in Jerusalem to worship. We learned that Simon was forced to carry Jesus' cross, and that most likely he and his family received Christ after this encounter. Paul seems to mention Rufus (Simon's son's name) in Romans 16:13 as well as Simon's wife being an encouragement to him. We learned that even random encounters with Jesus can change people's lives forever.

The Thief on the Cross

Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Luke tells us in his Gospel that one of these thieves repented and confessed Christ as Lord. Even in our fleeting last moments there is hope that we can be with the Lord. 

The Centurion

This captain of 100 Roman soldiers had observed dozens, if not hundreds, of crucifixions. Yet there was something about the way Jesus died that stood out to him and caused him to confess Jesus as the Son of God. Even people we write off as "unreachable" may be impacted by the Gospel as they see Jesus.

Mary Magdalene | Mary mother of Joses | Salome

These women would normally not be admitted as eyewitnesses in a trial, yet Mark uses them as key witnesses to Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. He also points out that they had been ministering to Jesus even as far back as His work in Galilee. They followed Jesus even to the cross, while the disciples (other than John) were in hiding.

Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph was a prominent Sanhedrin council member, yet boldly gets the courage up to ask Pilate for Jesus' body. He then methodically and carefully prepares Jesus' body for burial, allowing Jesus to be buried in his own (rich man's) tomb, a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

These testimonies tell us one thing: THE CROSS OF CHRIST CHANGES LIVES! Today we could be guilty of emptying the cross of its power (1 Cor 1:17) by trying to spice up our communication of the Gospel. But this is unneeded. We merely need to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-5) and be faithful to live lives that are daily crucified (Gal 2:20). The cross should inform every area of our lives and we should be known foremost as "People of the Cross".

I can't wait to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this Sunday together with our community!! He is risen indeed!!