Monday, March 28, 2016

Sermon Recap for March 27

Good Morning! Here are the sermons from March 27. We did questions and answers from the congregation for most of Sunday night, but that’s not here.

March 27 AM: Risen Indeed! John 20 (audio)

 

March 27 PM: John 20 (audio)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Foreign Authority: Matthew 8

In Summary:

Matthew shifts from the Sermon on the Mount to the itinerant ministry of Jesus, showing Him healing and teaching throughout Galilee and the surrounding region. This comes “when Jesus came down from the mountain (Matthew 8:1),” giving us a relative time marker for these events. Further, the notation of “large crowds” following Jesus down from the mountain tells us that these events do not go unwitnessed. It is also noteworthy that Matthew presents the events of chapter 8 in context of the teaching of Matthew 5-7. We cannot separate the teaching of Jesus from the actions of Jesus.

Matthew 8 gives us the well-known stories of the healing of the Centurion’s servant and Peter’s mother-in-law (not the same person!) We also see Jesus still the sea and challenge the Twelve regarding their faith. We see at least two disciples speak for higher commitment, but it appears that they do not follow through with the necessary actions. The chapter concludes with Matthew’s telling of the deliverance of the Gadarene Demoniac, which is also found in Mark 5 and Luke 8:26-39.

A brief observation in Matthew 8:1-4 before we come to our focal passage is in order. The leper is healed after confessing Jesus’ power, yet his response in worship is to continue on by obeying the Law of Moses. New life in Christ does not automatically mean the disrespect of tradition, or the abandonment of the Old Testament.

In Focus:

Take a longer look at Matthew 8:5-13. This is the story of the Centurion’s Servant. The story is told in Luke 7:1-5 as well, assuming that this only happened once, but the telling is slightly different. Luke’s narrative records that some of the Jewish elders came on the centurion’s behalf, while Matthew records him coming himself. This harmonizes in one of two ways: either similar events happened with two centurions, one who came himself and one who sent folks, or Matthew condenses the story.

A major idea in these events is “authority” and what it means to have it and use it. Given that, I think Matthew condenses the story and we can read through it that being in authority means being responsible for what is done in your name—both good and bad. The centurion spoke to Jesus, even if he did so through intermediaries.

Beyond that, the story is one of Jesus’ power, the centurion’s faith, and what it means to be in charge. The centurion, who is likely from out of the area, understands what is to have authority. He also understands what is to be a foreign representative—it would be typical for the Roman legions in the area to be from outside the region. That made for more effective military power. The centurion sits as the commander of a group of Roman forces, with authority over them, while knowing that he himself is under the authority of a higher power in Caesar. And knowing that how he uses his power will be judged by his masters.

This is reflected in his exchange with Jesus, who is the Lord of Lords but during His Incarnation clothed his power and glory. He worked, and works, through His disciples, and had a specific mission assigned from above. (Jesus speaks of His mission in terms of obeying His Father.) In this, I think the centurion speaks with more wisdom than he knew, showing an understanding of what Jesus had come to do.

Jesus, meanwhile, lauds the man’s faith though he is an enemy of Israel. He heals the man’s servant and uses the opportunity to highlight that many who are in Israel will find themselves outside of God’s kingdom while many like the centurion will find themselves at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


In Practice:

Practically, what do we see here? Throughout the chapter, there are three key takeaways for our action:

1. Like the centurion, recognize the authority of Jesus over all things. Including ourselves: for a centurion to call someone “Lord” was an act of humility. Speak humbly of our Lord and Savior, and follow Him.

2. Notice also the calmness of the centurion, especially in contrast to the disciples in the boat (8:24-25). Recognizing the authority of Christ leads to resting in His authority. In Christ, we can rest knowing that His plan is all-encompassing.

3. Faith in Christ, rightly acted upon, is the determinant of membership in the Kingdom. Those who are subjects of the King of Kings, as Jesus points out about the centurion, are not from any one ethnic group but from those who believe.


In Nerdiness:  

And now, the nerd points:

1. There is no reason apart from reading modern life back into the text for the centurion’s servant to be considered anything but his servant.

2. If Peter has a mother-in-law, then he has a wife. Which is rarely a consideration as we talk about what the disciples did and didn’t do. Further, it’s relevant as we consider the rest of their lives. And whether or not a celibate clergy is really the ideal. If Peter is the first Pope, as claimed by Roman Catholics, and he had a wife, as evidenced in Scripture, why shouldn’t Peter’s successors?

3. Another aspect of the Synoptic Problem (when different Gospel authors record the same story differently) is the presence of two demoniacs instead of the one in Luke. There is no smooth reconciliation between those accounts.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sermon Recap for March 20

sGood afternoon! Here are the sermons from March 20, as well as the audio link for March 13’s sermon. There was no evening service March 13 due to impending severe storms.

March 13 AM Sermon audio link

March 20 AM Sermon audio link

March 20 PM Sermon Link

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

With Authority: Matthew 7

In Summary:

We finish the Sermon on the Mount today, looking at several passages that are usually presented as stand-alone moments in Scripture. Remember, though, that this is presented as one sermon. Even if one takes the view that Matthew composited several different sermons into this one record, the Holy Spirit inspired this to be written as one message. (I think it was one continuous sermon from Jesus, anyway.)

That means we should not cut a divide between the opening passage, the oft-misapplied “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1,) and Matthew 7:20 where Jesus highlights that “you will know them by their fruits.” One should therefore be careful attempting to apply one of these without considering the other! Further, we see the fairly well-known “Ask, seek, and knock” passage fits in the middle of this as well.

Summarizing the Sermon on the Mount is the comparison between the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who did not. These are stand-ins for the one who hears Jesus’ words and acts on them, and the ones who hear and do nothing. The same rain hits both, the same life struggles hit both. Only the one who is obedient remains standing.

Which wraps the chapter that begins with “Do not judge.” So perhaps we should admit that there’s more to not judging than ignoring whether or not someone is obedient to the Word of Christ.

In Focus:

In focus, let’s take the crowds’ response to Jesus for a look. The people are amazed, Matthew tells us in Matthew 7:28-29, because Jesus teaches with authority. This is in direct contrast to the scribes and other teachers of the day. His Words were not based on whether or not any one else approved of Him or had had similar ideas in the past.

Instead, He both stated commands and restated Scripture to make it clearer (and harder) for the listeners to skate past. He truly held the authority, because His Word is the Word of God.

In Practice:

Practically, this comes forward with this reminder: Jesus still holds the authority for our lives today. His Word remains the Word of God. How does that flesh out?

First, we submit to what God has said. The Word of God is absolutely sufficient and accurate for what we need to know, even today. He did not make the mistake of only speaking through Scripture to people long ago and in a far away place. We do have to put deliberate study into Scripture because of the linguistic and cultural differences, but that does not mean God did not speak.

And we do this study because He spoke with authority, so we need to know what He said.

Second, we admit that no one else speaks with the authority of Jesus. Not your pastor, not your favorite author, not your momma. Not even your friendly neighborhood Bible blogger. Everyone else, no matter who they are, speaks with authority only as long as they speak the Words of Christ. Which are plain to see in Scripture—once you get into interpretation, like where the Ark of the Covenant is or just how husbands and wives interact in light of the Gospel (beyond the obvious self-sacrificial love,) you are not speaking with the same authority.

Give Christ the authority that is His, and do not let others take it. This even includes our own impressions and ideas—just because that great idea struck while you were reading the Bible does not mean “God” told you to do it. Do what He says plainly.

In Nerdiness:

More of a brief observation: everything about the Sermon on the Mount presupposes believers living in community with each other. That is, there is nothing in these three chapters that would support a view that isolates us from one another, or even isolates one batch of Christians from another. This is true even within the local church—note that Jesus is teaching a group of both genders and all ages here. There is a time and a place for some separation for specific points, but ultimately we belong together. We’re following Jesus together.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sermon Recap for March 6 2016

Good morning! Here are yesterday’s sermons:

Morning Sermon: “Cleaned Already” John 13 (audio)

 

Evening Sermon: Introduction to Judges (audio)

 

Morning Notes:

March 6 AM: John 13 "Cleaned Already"

Mar 6 Sermon

  1. Gathered for the Passover--there is a time to be together
  2. Gathered does not exclude even the wicked (Judas)
  3. Before the worship comes the service
  4. Before the fellowship comes the assurance of God's power
  5. Before the worship comes the cleansing--Peter et.al are cleansed by the presence of Christ in their lives
  6. Before the fellowship comes the reminder of how life picks up dust
  7. After the fellowship and after the worship comes the obedient service.

When it's all said and done, here are our choices:

  1. Serve the Lord Jesus by serving each other
  2. Betray Him.

This is why:

  1.     Our mission as a church is to walk with Jesus and take as many people with us as we can
    1. In Children's ministry, that is our goal
    2. In youth ministry
    3. College/career, Senior Adults, Music--anything that does not support this is not on our agenda
  2. Our mission as God's people is not limited by geography, gender, or groupings--we must reach all
  3. Anything less than service to the Word of God by evangelizing the world is betrayal.

And we serve even those we know will harm us--Jesus does not skip Judas' feet.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sermon Recap for February 28

Good afternoon! Here are the sermons from Sunday, February 28.

Morning Sermon: A God, not a Box! 1 Samuel 5 (audio)

 

Evening Sermon: Introducing Joshua (audio)

Peace in a time of Pandemic

This is not one of those hyper-spiritual posts, where I claim that because of Jesus I have peace even in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Tr...