Monday, December 26, 2016

Sermon Recap for December 25

Well, it’s the last sermons of the year. Here is the complete Christmas Eve service (it was filmed from the balcony with the condenser mic, so the sound is a bit different) and then Sunday morning’s sermon.

 

December 25 AM (Audio) Matthew 1

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's not about the Signs: Matthew 24

In Summary:
Jesus leaves the Temple, after lamenting that Jerusalem’s “house is being left…desolate” (Matthew 23:38). As He does this, the disciples point out the Temple buildings. Given that Jesus had been there more than once or twice, it is likely the implication is one of highlighting the impressive nature of the structure. Jesus is, well, not impressed. He is well aware of the future of the building. Not one stone will be left another (24:2).

The disciples are, understandably, distressed by this statement. As a result, they ask Jesus about when these events will occur. The answer from Jesus is not nearly as comforting as most of us would like. He describes a world that begins falling apart, tribulations, and judgment. Not exactly a pleasant picture.

The chapter closes out with a reminder to be ready because we do not know the day and the hour when Jesus returns. Actually, let us be very specific. He states it this way: “you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42, emphasis added). While other lords, like Caesar or Presidents, schedule their visits in advance, Jesus does not. There will be signs along the way, but they may be ambiguous.

In Focus:
The focal point of the chapter is Matthew 24:45-46, where Jesus highlights the need to be ready for His return. All the rest, while relevant, supports these two verses which address the disciples’ question from verse 3. Jesus’ return will be preceded by many signs and many false Messiahs, but then He will show up when He is not expected.

And judgment will fall. The more commonly cited parts of this passage, such as the idea of one man in a field, one taken, one left—the one who is “taken” is taken to judgment. Jesus provides this context around His statements, as He highlights the blessing on the slave who is doing the work he should be doing. That should remind us of our priority. After all, the obedient slave is honoring his Master, not calendaring his Master’s return.

In Practice:
What, then, does this look like?

First, it is a warning to many of us Bible nerd types. Yes, there are signs that will warn of Jesus’ return. No, it’s not our job to figure them out. And besides, what part of “coming at an hour when you do not think He will) (v. 24)” do we not understand? If we took all the energy expended in setting dates and poured it into evangelism and missions, amazing things might happen.

Second, it looks like a lifetime of obedience. Be ready? How? By consistently serving the master.

Third, it looks like a lifetime of service and compassion to others. Note that verses 48-50 highlight one of the not-to-dos: mistreatment of our fellow slaves. How are we behaving toward our fellow servants of Jesus?

Fourth, it looks like a lifetime of proclaiming the Kingdom. There is coming a day when the King comes back. When He does, all nations, all peoples will see Him (v. 30). What will be the response to His glory? Weeping by so many, but salvation for those who believe. How, though, can they believe in Him they have not heard (Romans 10:10)? Get to work, Church. The day is coming.

In Nerdiness: 
There is, of course, nerdiness to be found in trying to sort out the signs. One must keep in mind that the judgment on the Temple came through in AD 70, and so some of these signs related to that event. Same with some of the other warned events—they are about the collapse of Judea as a Roman province.

Another nerd point is a translation comparison in 24:41. “Two women will be grinding” is probably the most “literal” way to translate the phrase, but the verb carries the idea of “grinding grain,” and so “grinding at the mill” is accurate. It just uses more words.

Third, embedded in this text is the warning to watch for false claims of Jesus’ return. And that miracles and signs will accompany the false Messiahs. Actions don’t tell all..truth matters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book: The Message of the Twelve

I will admit it: I’m way behind on book reviews. I’ve had this handy volume from B&H for a couple of months. Sorry about that.

The Minor Prophets. Those twelve pesky short books at the end of the Old Testament. You know which ones I’m talking about---the part of your ‘read through the Bible in a year’ plan that you dread the most. Why do we read these? Apart from Micah 5:2 and maybe Malachi 3, do we even have sermons about them?

A good step in fixing this neglect is found in Richard Alan Fuhr & Gary E. Yates’ The Message of the Twelve. The authors dig into the Minor Prophets and help us see how God uses this portion of inspired Scripture even to this day.

First, the work explains why all twelve are treated together. This grouping is also called the Book of the Twelve, and they should not be treated as unified only by their size. The first section of The Message of the Twelve addresses why one should study all of these together as well as the separate books.

I found this a bit more helpful than the second section, which dealt with each book. Why? It’s not that the individual prophet books are not valuable, but there is nothing in Obadiah as a standalone book that can’t be gleaned elsewhere.

But understanding the overall context and considering the idea that God inspired the collection as well as the writing, it makes more sense. Obadiah, or Haggai, or Habakkuk, in context not only historically but literarily helps tremendously.

Each book of the twelve Minor Prophets is also examined. This includes the standard author, date, and purpose that one expects in a Bible survey. It also delves somewhat into contemporary application. That area is a tad short, but that’s to my liking. Too much printed application keeps the little gray cells from working hard and making application connected to where we are.

This is a great start to understanding the Book of the Twelve. I’d put it ahead of even a general Old Testament Survey type book for dealing with the Minor Prophets.

Book received in exchange for review.

Sermon Recap for December 18 2016

Good morning! Here is Sunday morning’s sermon. Sunday night was the community choir event at East Union, so we dismissed our services so those who wanted to could participate.

December 18 AM: Revelation 12 (audio here)


Saving Christmas

Saving Christmas

Doug Hibbard / General

Revelation 12

 

Christmas is in Danger


Not from Abominable Snowmen or Hidden Clauses


Not from Happy Holiday-wielding Businesses


Not from the ACLU


Or from the...."them." Whoever "Them" might be


The Real Dangers:


1. Satan (defeated)


2. False religion


3. World Oppression


4. Silent Witnesses


5. Us. The church.

 

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 8:15 AM December 20, 2016.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Spies and Promises: Joshua 2

In Summary:
After an interlude when Joshua is commissioned to take command, the narrative story of Israel continues with Joshua 2. Joshua sends two spies into Jericho to check out the situation. Then, things get exciting.

Overall, this chapter is worthy of a good action movie. You have a secret mission into foreign territory. Your spies make it as far as an inn at the edge of town, where they are found out. The king (keep in mind, kings ruled over cities in that era) sends word to the innkeeper to hand over the spies. She doesn’t. Instead, she hides them, deceives the king, and helps the enemies of her nation escape. There’s enough intrigue for a thriller.

And then you have the potential scandal, as shown in the labeling of Rahab as a harlot or prostitute (see NASB and ESV in Joshua 2:1). The word and grammar here are vague enough to suggest that Rahab was, at times, engaged in such a profession but that she was also an innkeeper. Without getting too nerdy here, I have seen some commentary that suggests Rahab is possibly a war widow who did not remarry and instead held her own business and property. The ancient world was not flooded with high morals, and inns were commonly involved in both above-board and below-sheet businesses.

So, there is no certainty that the spies stop specifically for a rendezvous. Just as you can stay at the Holiday Inn without joining the karaoke kookiness, even being unaware of it, our spies may be innocent. They stopped at a well-traveled location.

Which is probably why they got found out. Rahab hides them, misdirects the king, and then helps them escape. Basic spy-movie plot, with a few lovely ladies involved and the real solution coming from an outsider.

In Focus:
We should not leave this passage without putting the promise to Rahab by the spies in focus. First, we see her plea in Joshua 2:9-14. She recognizes the God of Israel, called here by His covenant name, as greater than any other god. She confesses that the people of Jericho know they will be defeated, and here she chooses to side with God.

And, therefore, she sides with Israel. Her fear of God exceeds her fear of her king—even though the king could have had her killed. Her fear of God drives her.

Then, we need to consider the behavior of the spies. They promise Rahab that they will deliver her when the Israelites come and destroy everyone else. That sounds great. After she has gotten them out of the jam, they note that their promise came with strings attached. Well, one string, literally: if she did not tie a scarlet thread in her window, their promise would be nullified.

In Practice:
We can find some easy application here. First of all, let your fear of God be greater than your fear of man. That will drive many changes in your actions, won’t it? Did you vote because you feared what your neighbor would do? Or what a “foreigner” might do? Or did you vote because of your belief in God-honoring right and wrong?

What about work? Do you work like your boss depends on you or like you are a servant of God? As you plan your future, who do you seek to serve most? Yourself, or God?

A second application is unfortunate: be wary of people who make promises under stress. Like the spies did to Rahab, they may attach an escape clause to their word. That does not line up with Jesus’ commands to us (Matthew 5:37). So, believers in Jesus should not do such a thing. But be aware of others, and keep in mind that not all “stress” is immediate death. If he “promises” he’ll go to church after you marry him…if someone “promises” they’ll change if you only do this, realize that the stress is promising. Not the person’s character.

In Nerdiness: 
1. Innkeeper/harlot: that’s a big discussion for history. It should be noted that Rahab is someone pushed to the margins of her society. She lives in the wall, for cryin’ out loud. The king wants to use her, apparently men in town use her, and even the spies use her. But if you trace her heritage, she becomes a part of the people of God. God uses those that society pushes aside.

2. The lying. That’s a problem, for Jesus is the truth, right? What do we do with this? I think it was Kissinger or Nixon who observed that a “lie is an abomination to the Lord, and a very present help in time of trouble.” We are to be people of the truth, but what about in dealing with life and death? God uses Rahab’s lie. That does not mean we should actively deceive, but can the affairs of nations take place completely openly?

3. Sending the spies. Joshua said in Joshua 1:11 that the people would go in 3 days….then he sends the spies and that takes 3 days. Plus, things didn’t go so well the last time Israel spied out the land. (See Numbers 13 and here). Does he delay? Or does the narrative retelling deal with overlapping time? Either way, it was risky but, in the long run, it worked out this time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book: Martin Luther

Please note, the book is a biography of Martin Luther. I’m not reviewing Martin Luther. Also, today’s book was provided by Cross Focused Reviews.

Some years ago, a blog tour first brought the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series into our home. Now, they have become a fixture in our learning processes.

The most recent entry in this series is Martin Luther. (Isn’t nice how easy it is to title a biography?) Simonetta Carr has again provided more information in 64 pages than one would have thought possible.

First, she does an excellent job providing an overview of the complicated situation of the sixteenth century, including the selling of indulgences by the Church at the time. Carr’s summary uses some terms that are anachronistic (I doubt Luther considered his work to go “viral,” p. 22,) but these terms make plain the meaning.

Second, the history reads like I am familiar with from much more in-depth books. For a 64-page children’s biography, the detail is excellent and, more importantly, accurate. I would love to see a footnote or two (and, since it’s a children’s book, I’d take an endnote) with more information about a few details.

I would love to see a bit more about Luther’s later life, but I know that the managing and leading of the Reformation gets into some minutiae that does not read well for children. The ending few pages work through a series of paragraphs giving insights into his later life.

Of great terror to me is the presence of Albrecht Durer in this biography. Well, not really, but I had to translate Durer’s biography for German last term and he still makes me twitch. It is good to know how all of those personalities connected. And Durer’s life is fascinating, though I’d like it English a bit better. :)

In all, I highly recommend not only Martin Luther but the entire series.

Hardcover, well printed, good-feeling paper. 64 pages from Reformation Heritage Books.

Book received in exchange for the review.

Sermon Recap for Dec 12

Good morning! Here is Sunday morning’s sermon. Sunday night was a bit less structured than it normally is…so it’s not here.

Sermon: John 1:1-5 (audio here)

 


Unconquerable Light

Unconquerable Light

Doug Hibbard / General

John 1:1–5

 

John 1:1-5


John 1:1–5 NASB95

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    He was in the beginning with God.
    All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
    In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
   The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The  darkness   around  us


The  darkness   before  us


The  darkness   beneath  us


The  darkness   within  us


The  Light   above  us


The  Light    around  us


The  Light   beside  us


The  Light   dwelling  in us


Do I have the Light of Christ?


Am I sharing the Light of Christ?


Am I blocking the Light of Christ?


  Actions


  Attitudes


  Aggressive or Passive?


Darkness cannot understand the Light. It cannot defeat, seize it, take over it. Light always wins.


A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition καταλαμβάνω
καταλαμβάνω


1. To make something one's own, to win, to attain


2. To gain control of someone through pursuit, catch up with, seize

 

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 8:49 AM December 13, 2016.

 


Unconquerable Light

Unconquerable Light

Doug Hibbard / General

John 1:1–5

 

John 1:1-5


John 1:1–5 NASB95

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    He was in the beginning with God.
    All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
    In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
    The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

 

 


The  darkness   around  us


The  darkness   before  us


The  darkness   beneath  us


The  darkness   within  us


The  Light   above  us


The  Light    around  us


The  Light   beside  us


The  Light   dwelling  in us


Do I have the Light of Christ?


Am I sharing the Light of Christ?


Am I blocking the Light of Christ?


  Actions


  Attitudes


  Aggressive or Passive?


Darkness cannot understand the Light. It cannot defeat, seize it, take over it. Light always wins.


A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition καταλαμβάνω
καταλαμβάνω


1. To make something one's own, to win, to attain


2. To gain control of someone through pursuit, catch up with, seize

 

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 8:49 AM December 13, 2016.

No comments:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Woe There! Matthew 23

In Summary:
As we reach Matthew 23, Jesus is no longer taking questions from the Pharisees and other religious leaders of Israel. He isn’t asking them questions, either. He begins to directly address their sinful behavior and the destruction they have wreaked on the people of Israel.

It is noteworthy that His first comments are not directed to the scribes and Pharisees. His first statements are directed to the crowd. Jesus does not take the religious leaders aside and rebuke them privately or calmly. He warns the people who the religious leaders are trying to lead. (I’m fairly certain that there are implications of this for modern religious leaders who need rebuking. Uncomfortable implications.) The primary warning to the crowd is that they should not become like their leaders.

He tells the crowd that their teachers are saying admirable things, but that their lives are not worth following (v. 3). He then goes on to present the right approach to the Kingdom of Heaven: service and sacrifice. The “woes” that follow highlight specific instances of the destructive lives of the religious leaders of the day and the conclusion of the chapter is a lament over Jerusalem, the city that has been kept from Him by these same leaders.

In Focus:
Rather than break down just one verse, take the passage of woes into focus. Jesus draws out specific problems with the behavior of the scribes and Pharisees. The general form of each woe works like this: you know what you should do, but you have created a loophole and destroyed the worth of what you are doing.

Take Matthew 23:16 as an example. The religious leaders knew they should keep their vows, but cut themselves a loophole: vowing by the Temple did not really count. You had to vow by the gold. Now, I have no historical evidence to consult, but I wonder whether or not it was common knowledge that they cut such a division among their vows? In other words, did the people who heard them make loud and proud vows by the Temple or the altar realize that they were meaningless words?

Perhaps the crowds did know this, but I have my suspicions that they did not.

In all, what the scribes and Pharisees had done was build requirements for others while easing their own lifestyle.

In Practice:
Where do we start with this, in practice? First things first: the Kingdom does not belong to any earthly religious leader. Not by a long shot, not though they be a committee, a coalition, a convention, or a council. The Kingdom belongs to only One, and He makes the decisions (v. 10 is the clearest).

Second, what constraints do we who are “spiritual” put on others? What boundaries do we put between those who are away from God and knowing Him? In some cases, we create a legalism that does not save but certainly makes people behave like good folks. The problem being that then their trust goes into their works, not their Savior. We gather those who will give and fund ministries faithfully, even fanatically, but have we taught justice and mercy? Do we reach out to a business owner for a large donation without considering the impact on the workers who helped the profits to be there?

Third, we need to consider the effect of our behavior on those around us. Everyone in Jerusalem was not guilty of killing the prophets and wise men and scribes Jesus speaks of in verse 34. Yet everyone faced judgment for following the leaders who did. If we lead, let us bear in mind that blocking people from God has consequences and learn to get out of the way. If you are not a leader in that sense, realize this: through the Word of God, you can know God personally and directly. Do so.

In Nerdiness: 
A few nerdy-points:
1. Matthew 23:35 looks to us English-speakers like Jesus is naming prophets from “A-to-Z” with the reference to Abel and Zechariah. That’s quaint and not exactly accurate. Instead, consider the divisions of the Jewish Scriptures, that Genesis is first (where Abel is murdered) and 2 Chronicles (where Zechariah is murdered) is last. It’s a first-to-last mention, and it works as “A-to-Z” in English, but it’s more likely a reference to the whole of Jewish Canon, what we call the Old Testament.

2. While I hesitate to say that we shouldn’t take something literally, I think there is a cultural gap between 23:9 and now, and that one can call someone on earth “father.” Typically, I would suggest that your “father” is either clear on your birth certificate or clear in your heart if he’s not on the paper. I think we have a case here where Jesus is reminding them not to seek or demand titles, but to focus on honoring God.

3. Remember that Matthew 23:39 is stated after the Triumphal Entry. “See” here is about perception and engagement with the Messianic work of Jesus—this was the last time, in Matthew’s recording, that Jesus freely stood in the midst of the crowd and taught them.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sermon Recap for December 4

Merry Christmas! I know, we have three more Sundays until Christmas, but I like this time of year.

Sunday Morning Sermon: Isaiah 53 (audio)

 

Sunday evening was our annual budget business meeting. We voted to increase our financial involvement in mission work as well as maintaining our partnership level with the Southern Baptist Convention.

I did share a few thoughts on Matthew 1. And I can’t find where I put the SD card with the video. When I find it, you’ll see it.

 

Remember our Christmas Eve service is coming up on December 24 at 6:30 PM.

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Sermon Recaps for November

I think I’ve missed a couple of Sundays. Also, we had some fill-in video that we used for Sunday nights, so I won’t post those here, but the...