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Tears of Regret – Esau May 1, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Esau, Forgiveness, Genesis, Hebrews, Holiness, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah, Regret, Tears.
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TEARS OF REGRET
Genesis 27 with Hebrews 12:14-17

When I was growing up, there was a Southern gospel song that we used to sing that went something like this:

Part of my life brings tears of regret and part of my life I would rather forget.
Part of my life is the story of shame but the rest of my life, I will honor God’s name.
Yes, part of my life to false idols I bowed and part of my life I just followed the crowd.
Part of my life is the story of shame but the rest of my life, I will honor God’s name.

Freely I drank from life’s glittering cup, so deep in my shame, I could hardly look up.
Tears of regret are the price I must pay but the rest of my life, God can have his own way.

A. Most of us experience tears of regret.
1. Tears of regret result from not foreseeing the consequences of our actions (Heb. 12:16 and Gen. 25:29-34). Patrick Morley in The Man in the Mirror tells how he as a young businessman “made it a habit to always ask older men what their greatest regrets were, hoping [to] glean some wise tips…two [regrets] showed up on virtually every man’s list…” not being financially ready for retirement at the age of fifty and not getting to know their kids before they left home. These men had not seen the consequences of their chosen lifestyle.

2. Tears of regret come when we realize the past cannot be undone (Heb. 12:17 and Gen. 27:30-40). Esau was being a little hard on himself. After all, before he was born God had already denied him the blessing he wept for. He, however, had thought that he and his father could get around God’s will. Esau could have decided to follow God’s plan as Jonathan did when David was chosen by God to be king but instead he chose to work for his own self-interests.

3. Tears of regret can easily become the fuel of bitterness (Heb. 12:15 and Genesis 27:41-28:9). The writer of Hebrews describes the root of bitterness as something more than what the hate of Esau became. It seems to be akin to unbelief, spiritual stubbornness and rebellion. There is emotional bitterness which is painful and hurtful but the greatest danger is when that bitterness results in rejection of Jesus Christ but that often happens.

B. How do we avoid tears of regret?
1. Pursue peace with others and holiness before God (Hebrews 12:14). Thomas Jefferson valued the pursuit of happiness, which in the culture of that day meant the pursuit of property. God values other pursuits. We are to pursue, to chase after, to make peace and holiness priorities in my life.

Pursuing peace: In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Erwin Lutzer in his book, When You’ve Been Wronged, tells of a missionary to Muslims in Egypt. The man received a letter from an angry Muslim that said, “Cursed be you, cursed be your wife, and cursed be your children. Cursed is the home in which you live, cursed is the car that you drive.” Rather than worrying about the letter or ignoring the letter, the man wrote a reply, “This is my prayer for you: blessed be your wife, blessed be your children, blessed be your home, and blessed is the car that you drive.”

How do you pursue peace? Erwin Lutzer suggests the following:
I. Offer a gesture of genuine goodwill. It may be small like a handshake and smile. It may be a gesture of generosity. It may be personal sacrifice. You may not feel like offering goodwill. Your gesture may be regarded with suspicion but that is where you can begin.
II. Humble yourself before God. If you are going to pursue peace with others you must first submit your will to God. Until you are convinced that God wants you to reconcile, to pursue peace, you will almost always find an excuse not to do it.
III. Humble yourself before others. Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” To pursue peace will cost you in pride and dignity and rights. It is the only way, however, to pursue peace. Don’t misunderstand, humbling yourself does not mean you never hold others accountable or set necessary boundaries but as you hold them accountable and as you set up the boundaries, humble yourself before others.

Pursuing holiness: Jerry Bridges in Pursuit of Holiness tells of “Jonathan Edwards, who resolved never to do anything he would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of his life, [he] also made this resolution: ‘Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.’”

How then do you pursue holiness? The context of Hebrews 12 (see verse 10) implies discipline. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Bible is necessary. The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible for this purpose (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As we learn the Scripture the Spirit brings to our mind and illuminates what we have learned and then we obey it. That, however, takes daily discipline.

2. Pay attention to each other’s spiritual condition (Hebrews 12:15; see also 3:12-14:1; 10:24-27). The book of Hebrews is difficult for us to understand at times because the author does not do what we often do, we compartmentalize our belief and our practice. The writer of Hebrews indicates that if there is a problem with how you live, there may well be a problem with what you believe.

There is another area that makes the book of Hebrews hard for us. The writer is willing to reserve judgment on the spiritual condition of others without shrinking from his responsibility for others. We find this hard to do. We take one of two extremes: either “judge not that you be not judged” or we condemn those who we feel do not meet our standard. Both extremes are irresponsible and wrong. The writer of Hebrews says, “Know each other, become so close to each other in every way so that you will recognize the root of bitterness when it begins to produce a sprout.”

What should you do? The answer is found in Hebrews 12:25, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” God has spoken. Will you do his will?

Next Week’s Sermon: Remember this Place

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First in a series from Isaiah January 30, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Covenant, Forgiveness, Hope, Isaiah, Mercy, Promises of God, Prophecy, Righteousness.
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HOPE IN DISASTER
Isaiah 54

Introduction: One of the key principles in understanding the Bible is to recognize that it is not written to us but rather for us. Understanding that principle is why we don’t build a tent for animal sacrifices after reading the book of Leviticus. Most people want instant understanding of the Bible and don’t work to understand to whom and for what purpose it was written.

That does not mean that God’s Word was not given with future people in mind. The last half of the book of Isaiah is an excellent example of a book written with a future people in mind. Isaiah predicted that Babylon would take the Jews into captivity. Jerusalem along with the Temple would be destroyed and the people would be taken captive to a land with no hope of ever seeing their homeland again. They would have questions that Isaiah addresses. “Has God failed? Is He really as great as the law and the psalms and the prophets had proclaimed? Were His promises to Abraham and Moses and David in vain? Had their sin been too much even for God?”

Over the past few years we have seen serious economic problems. Although America has been a promised land to many for hundreds of years, many are fearful today, predicting the demise of America. What should we as Christians do as we look down the barrel of the gun of possible economic, moral, and political disaster? How can we prepare ourselves and how should we live when that disaster strikes?

A. When disaster strikes, turn to God’s promises (verses 9-10). David Jeremiah tells of some words written on the wall of a cave where a young Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto of Poland was hiding from the Nazis.
“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

Job put it this way, “Even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him.” When disaster strikes, we turn to God’s promises.

1. His covenant is as dependable as a rainbow (vs. 9). We think of the rainbow as being a promise that God will not destroy the world with water again. Verse 9 points out that every promise of God is dependable. As a kid there was a song we used to sing that ended like this, “When it looks like the sun wouldn’t shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the cloud.” The skeptic looks at the laws of nature and declares there is no God but we look at nature and understand there must be a God who holds this all together, who holds His children in His hand.

2. His kindness is everlasting (vs. 10). In Isaiah 43:2-4 the Lord says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you… I am the LORD your God…and I have loved you.” Jeremiah in Lamentations describes the death and destruction, the hunger and nakedness that these people endured when Jerusalem was taken. They recognized that God had allowed this judgment. In chapter 3:21-23, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Those are not the words of someone for whom it is going well but rather for those who are in deep despair. His kindness is everlasting.

B. When disaster strikes, hope in abundance from God (verses 1-3). “But we are in captivity! Our homes are destroyed! Our children are dead! We have no where to turn!” Isaiah reminds them that God will bless them abundantly. Paul in prison in Philippi put it this way, “My God will supply all my need through His riches in Christ Jesus.” What disaster do you see ahead? It is not forever. There is abundant blessing to be found in Jesus Christ. Hope in Him and in His riches.

Our problem comes when we try to dictate to God how His blessings should appear. We expect financial security, a healthy body, freedom from tragedy. Those are all wonderful things but none of them indicate God’s abundant blessings. His blessings are found in an eternal abundance. “Lay not treasures up for yourself on this earth where moth and rust corrupts but lay up treasures for yourself in heaven.”

C. When disaster strikes, depend on a restored relationship (verses 4-8). The picture here is of a woman who is forsaken because of her wickedness and is then received again to a loving husband (Read verses 7-8).

John Oswalt in his commentary on this chapter relates the story of an old man in a hospital, on his deathbed, wondering if the next life will be as bitter as the one he has just lived. In comes his daughter. Her life has also been hard but “out of her eyes shine eagerness, humor, hope, and love.” He says to her, “I know what you want to say to me, and you might as well save your breath. It’s too late.”
“But Dad, it’s never too late! Look what Christ has done for me! I was in the gutter, drinking myself to death…But he saw something in me to love! Everybody else said I was no good, and he told them to ‘shut up.’”
The old man replies, “…you don’t know what I’ve done. I was a preacher! … If your God is so good and loving, he wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I’m too far gone.”
His daughter demands, “Daddy, you look at me! Nobody is too far gone for Jesus Christ! … He died for Hitler! Do you think you’re worse than Hitler? No, you’re just like Hitler, too proud to get down on your face and ask God to forgive you. He will forgive you, Daddy! He will!”
“The old man turned his head to look at his grown daughter…he saw what was undeniably true-she was being transformed from the inside out…hesitantly, he reached his hand out from under the sheet and took hers. In the next moments … [he] confessed his sins… and disgrace became the welcoming embrace of the world’s Maker…”

D. When disaster strikes, trust in His deliverance from your enemies (verses 11-17). What danger is it that you fear? Turn in trust to the hand of God through Christ.

1. This is the heritage God will protect (verses 13, 17). What do you have that will last? People have been discussing this week what Joe Paterno’s legacy will be. In a hundred years few will remember him. Accumulate wealth. Those to whom you leave it may waste it. A heritage that will last is only to be found in Christ.

2. This is the righteousness we have in Christ (verses 14-17). Hebrews calls this the Sabbath rest we have in Christ. The angels proclaimed it as peace on earth, good will to men. When disaster comes, when the bankbook is empty, when cancer grips your body, when tragedy rains on your family, remember in Jesus Christ there is rest and peace. All is right in Him.

“There is nothing more God needs to do for his ‘covenant of peace’ to be ours forever” (Oswalt). Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us that Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. Will you enter this new covenant that Jesus made for you on the cross? Will you turn to Him? Saved and unsaved alike, believer and unbeliever alike, turn to Him today!

Next week: An Invitation in Disastrous Times – Isaiah 55

Seeking God’s Favor After Sinning March 12, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Adultery, Confession, David, Depravity, Faith, Forgiveness, Hope, Mercy, Psalms, Religion, Repentance, Second Samuel, Sermons, Sin.
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Seeking God’s Favor After Sinning
2 Samuel 12 with Psalms 51 and 32

David was entrusted with God’s people. In His disobedience to God, He betrayed God’s people. What we sometimes forget is the awful cost of betrayal. There is an emotional cost. When you read John’s Gospel carefully, it seems that a huge part of the emotional turmoil exhibited in the Garden of Gethsemane had to do with his knowledge of the betrayal of Judas.

Many of you today feel betrayed. Some of you have so often felt betrayed that you have deep scars on your soul. If you have been betrayed, then understand this sermon touches on those events in which you were betrayed.

There is, however, hope and healing. The path to hope and healing, however, is not an easy path. I do not want to mislead you and tell you that this one sermon will answer all your questions and solve all your problems. What I desire is that we begin our path through the valley of the shadow of death together. It will not be easy. In fact, our path begins with the destruction left behind by sin.

I. Sin is destructive (2 Samuel 12). It starves the malnourished and leaves the helpless unprotected. Sin is like a whirlpool pulling all those close by under the water. Sin leaves its victims with no where to turn. Sin, like Satan goes about as a roaring lion, seeking who He may devour. Yes, sin is destructive eternally in the lake of fire but it is also destructive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in this life, right now.

a. One of the reasons sin is so destructive is that when I sin, I do not care about others (2 Samuel 12:1-6). You see sin is manipulative, coercive, controlling, and predatory. Look at David’s sin. David in this case did not care who he harmed.

That is the point of Nathan’s parable. Nathan did not even address the lies David told and the murder David ordered. He simply points out that the sinner, in this case, David, did not care about the welfare of others. He did not care about his kingdom, he did not care about his family, and he did not care about his army. All he cared about was self.

Let me at this point say something very important. When I say these things, I know what I am talking about. I am an experienced sinner. I wish that I could tell you that I would never sin against you but my forty-six years have taught me this much. I sin when I am selfish. Sometimes my sin is acceptable to those around me and sometimes it is not but it is always selfish.

Sin destroys trust because sin uses trust as a weapon. When trust is destroyed, it is then that people begin to lose hope. Without trust, how can you hope in friends, family, and church? Without trust, how can you feel safe? Without trust, how can you hope in justice? Would you trust David as your king, your husband, your father, your commander in chief? No. Yet you need those in whom you can trust. What do you do? Perhaps the one damaged by sin withdraws into a world they feel they can control. Maybe they put up an impenetrable front through which no one can break through. Or perhaps they simply walk away when trust is demanded.

But when I sin, I do not care about that.

b. When I sin, I show a lack of contentment with God’s blessings (2 Samuel 12:7-8). This is the second point of the parable of Nathan but this point is so important that Nathan explicitly emphasizes it.

“In Our Daily Bread, Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat.
“Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.
“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” the rich man asked.
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”
The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”
“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.
“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied.

Again, I speak from experience. When I sin, it is often because I am not content with what God has given me. I want more. I am not convinced that what I have is enough. I am not convinced that the resources, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, that God has given me are sufficient. It is in that moment that my heart becomes fertile ground for sin.

c. When I sin, I despise the wisdom of God and His Word (2 Samuel 12:9-10). I will refer to this when we celebrate the Lord’s Table. It is important for you and me as believers to realize that when we sin, it is because we despise God’s wisdom. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that He is God and we are not. When I sin as a believer, it is usually because I feel I know better than God does.

II. But repentance is possible (Psalm 51). The consequences of David’s sin were long-lasting. A daughter abused. A son murdered. Another son, Absalom leads a rebellion against his father in which not only is he killed but thousands of others die in a civil war. Those were some of the special consequences God visited on David and Israel. Yet there was repentance on David’s part and this repentance resulted in God’s blessing on God’s people.

a. No excuses are allowed (Psalm 51:1-6). David made it clear where his sin came from. He was born a sinner. Environmental factors played no role. He was the source of his own sin. That is why he begged for mercy. He could not wipe away the consequences. Neither could he eliminate an already done deed. He needed God to intervene. For God to intervene, David realized that there could be no excuses.

It is essential that we be honest with ourselves. We must acknowledge the destructiveness of our sin. It is only when we are honest with ourselves that we can truly repent.

b. A return to dependence on God’s mercy is demanded (Psalm 51:7-12). There used to be a saying, “The Devil is no friend of grace.” We forget so easily that healing is only to be found in God’s grace and mercy. We, each of us, are in the midst of spiritual warfare. We are defenseless against Satan, against the world, and most of all, against our own evil flesh unless we depend on God’s grace.

c. Repentance unlike penance focuses on loving God and others (Psalm 51:13-17).

One of the big dangers is that one admits to guilt but there is not change. Repentance demands a change. David repentance drives him away from his selfishness. John the Baptist tried to explain this when he preached on repentance in Luke 3:7-14. Penance simply says I am guilty and I will start doing good works. Repentance says, there is no excuse, I am sinful to the core but I will throw myself own God’s mercy and begin to live as He commands, “To love the Lord my God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself.”

d. Repentance of the individual brings healing to the congregation (Psalm 51:18-19). You see, each one of us is negatively affected by the sin of the other. That is clear. First Corinthians 12:26 says, “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” This psalm also makes it clear that true repentance in one of us, positively affects each one of us. Last week, Dale preached on forgiveness from Matthew 18:21-35. Earlier in the chapter, Jesus warns against the consequences of sin in verses 1-10. Yet there is hope in verses 11-14. Jesus wants to save the lost, protect the weak, revive those without hope, and nourish the starving. He does that regardless of whether the offender repents or not.

But what about the sinner? Not every sinner repents and Jesus threatens that one with punishment. But if he repents, Jesus will not cast him out and according to Matthew 18:15, we have gained a brother. It is of profit to each of you when I repent of my sin. How? Because then we are viewed as acceptable before God.

What is your sin? It is destructive to yourself and to all those around you. You need to quit making excuses and repent. You may need help being honest with yourself. You may need help on the road of repentance. God’s mercy is available and we extend our hand to help you.

I have spoken primarily to believers who have already trusted Christ. If you have not trusted Christ, you need to recognize that He paid the penalty for your sin on the cross. He died for you. You need to be honest also. You need to admit that you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself. You need the mercy available through faith in Christ. Will you trust him today?

Is Suicide an Unpardonable Sin? December 18, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Forgiveness, Judgment, Links, Suicide.
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Is suicide an unpardonable sin?

http://mysite.verizon.net/wepreachchrist/2008.12.01_arch.html#1228511414628

Three Types of Sacrifices in the Bible November 4, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Amos, Atonement, Forgiveness, Leviticus, Praise, Religion, Second Chronicles, Sermons, Thanksgiving.
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WE BRING THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE – THREE TYPES OF SACRIFICES

2 Chronicles 29

 

There are certain sections of the Bible that are difficult reading. When I was in the first grade and first began to read, my mother thought that it would be a good idea for me to start reading a chapter a day in the Bible. This was in the days before Dobson was everywhere telling us how to rear our children. Now I was the oldest child and my mother knew practicing reading was important and that reading the Bible was important, so she combined the two and got me started reading Genesis. I enjoyed Genesis and I enjoyed Exodus, reading the stories exactly as they were first told by God rather than in the pared down version that is usually given to children. But then I got to Leviticus. The first five chapters were okay with descriptions of the burnt offering and the meal offering and the peace offering and the sin offering and the trespass offering but then I got to Leviticus 6 and the multitude of rules describing the sacrifices and the priests and the laws concerning cleanliness and eventually just lost interest. It was too great for my elementary school aged mind to handle.

How then can we in the short time we have today understand all the detail of the sacrifices of the Old Testament and how they might apply to us today? Simply said, there are three general categories of sacrifices found in the Bible and all three of them are found in their spiritual order in 2 Chronicles 29.

THE SIN OFFERING

The first type of sacrifice we find in this passage is the sin offering (verses 20-24). We have already read how that Hezekiah became king at the age of twenty-five. His father before him was Ahaz. If you look in the previous chapter, we find an account of the sins of Ahaz. This was a man who was described as continually unfaithful (28:19) and in times of distress increasingly unfaithful (28:22). He worshiped other gods and treated the temple of God as his property. He gave some of the temple items to the king of Assyria in an attempt to appease their king but it did not work. Then he turned to the gods of Damascus, shutting the temple down, destroying some of the temple items, and setting up gods all through Jerusalem for worship. His son, Hezekiah though was a different sort of man. He immediately determined to change the direction of his kingdom and commanded that the temple be cleaned and prepared again for use and committed himself to a renewal of the covenant between God and Israel. He recognized that their problem was a sin problem and that they as a people needed forgiveness of sin.

Of course, this is what we most often think about as Christians when we think of a blood sacrifice and it is the primary picture that we have of the sacrifice that Christ paid for us on the cross. He died as the sacrifice for my sin. That is what we celebrated today during the Lord’s Table. Christ paying the penalty for my sin. That is what the word “atonement” means. Forgiveness of sin through a sacrifice does not mean that God is ignoring the sin but that the sacrifice is bearing that sin. That is the significance of the laying on of hands on the animal. It was a symbolic transfer of the sins from the people to the animal. We know that animal sacrifices could not take care of all sin because it had to repeated over and over and over but there came a day when the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, was nailed to the cross to bear our sins in His own body, to suffer the penalty for sin once and for all.

That is what was necessary for us to be reconciled to God. Sin is what separates us from God. That is the common trait of each person born and that is why Jesus had to die and that is why without faith in Jesus Christ alone there is no forgiveness of sin.

THE BURNT OFFERING (AN OFFERING OF CONSECRATION) 

Hezekiah, however, did not stop with the sin offering but then had a special burnt offering sacrificed (verses 27-31a). A burnt offering was for the purpose of dedicating yourself or something to God. Through it one says, “I am consecrating myself to God.” Now this word “consecration” is an important word and we need to explain what it means. The Hebrews had a unique phrase for this word, “filling the hands”, i.e., making your hands complete. This is discipleship. This is dedication. This is saying that God has all of my life. This is worship in that I am submitting my life to His will and control. We find in this passage that music accompanies worship but music is not worship. Worship is a sacrifice of dedication and submission.

We find this concept in the New Testament also. Paul begged the Romans to “…present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

To Timothy he wrote that when we pray we are to life up holy hands, hands that are consecrated, hands that are made perfect before God. In the sin offering I am putting my hands on Christ’s head so that He can pay the penalty for my sin but with the burnt offering I am lifting my hands to heaven and dedicating myself to Him and Him alone.

CONDITIONS FOR CONSECRATION

Not just anybody however can give offer a burnt sacrifice. Not everyone can dedicate themselves to God. You have to be holy. You have to be clean. You have to be blameless.

Now what did it mean to be holy. Two things were necessary to be holy. You had to have a relationship to God and you had to live in such a way that showed your holiness. Look at Leviticus 22:31-33.

 

    31 “Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the LORD.

    32 “You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you,

    33 “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.”

     

    What happened is that God established a relationship with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt and through bringing them out of Egypt, He made them holy. He made them clean. He made them blameless. He filled their hands. He completed their hands and He expected them to live like the special people that they were. He commanded them, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”

       

    We no doubt have a number of people here who have believed God, who have trusted His Son, Jesus Christ as Savior but have gone back on the commitments that they have made to God. They have accepted the sacrifice that Christ made for them on the cross of Calvary but they need to make again that sacrifice of commitment that God demands from them. That is the emphasis of Hezekiah. They were already God’s people but they had forsaken Him and forsaken His ways and forsaken His temple and Hezekiah determined that it was a time to recommitment themselves to the covenant that God had made to them under Moses. The sin offering is sufficient for forgiveness of sins, the cross of Christ is sufficient enough to bring you to heaven but Christ demands commitment with that faith.

    THE PEACE OFFERING (A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING)

    The third category of sacrifices that follows the sin offering and the burnt offering is the peace offering (verses 29-36). These offerings are those of praise and thanksgiving. Hebrews 13 calls this type of offering the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips in thanksgiving to God. This sacrifice was not for forgiveness of sin, neither was it was a sacrifice of commitment to God, but rather a sacrifice that signified a close relationship with God that is going well. Now it is possible to have a close relationship and it not be healthy or it being one sided but a true relationship with God is a relationship in which things are going well.

    This third type of sacrifice is best exhibited through a song that we used to sing. “Everything’s all right in my Father’s house. In my Father’s house. In my Father’s house. Everything’s all right in my Father’s house. There is joy, joy, joy!” This is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

    IT’S KINDA LIKE GETTIN’ MARRIED!

    It’s relationship to the other types of sacrifices is the same as that of the wedding anniversary to the marriage contract and to ceremony. The contract, the piece of paper that you sign is like the death of Christ for our sins and our acceptance by faith of that sacrifice. The wedding ceremony and other times of public and private commitment that you make to your spouse are like the offering of consecration. It is a time where you are taking ownership of your part in the relationship. The sacrifice of praise, though is like the anniversary date. The party that you throw for your spouse after five, ten, or twenty years of marriage. All of these are important to a strong relationship but they are different from each other in purpose.

    In the same way, God will not accept your commitment until your sin problem is taken care of, there is not true thanksgiving if you are not holy before God both in relationship and in life. One of the prophets, Amos, in the fourth chapter of the book (Amos 4:1-13, page 618 in the pew Bible) that bears his name writes about those who offered thanksgiving offerings that God found unacceptable. Rather than read all the verses, let us look at just a few.

     

    1 ¶ Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!”

    2 The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: “Behold, the days shall come upon you When He will take you away with fishhooks, And your posterity with fishhooks.

    3 You will go out through broken walls, Each one straight ahead of her, And you will be cast into Harmon,” Says the LORD.

    4 “Come to Bethel and transgress, At Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days. {Or years (compare #De 14:28)}

    5 Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, Proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; For this you love, You children of Israel!” Says the Lord GOD.

    6 ¶ “Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

    12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

     

These people were offering the proper sacrifices but they had strayed from their relationship to God. They were celebrating Thanksgiving but they were living in a way that was displeasing to God. God says, your sacrifices of thanksgiving are unacceptable. Prepare to meet your God!

 

Now we use that phrase sometimes to talk about death and that is partially in view here but the fuller view is prepare to meet your judge. God is going to judge you. If you do not have that holy relationship that He provided for you through Jesus Christ or you have that relationship and are not committed to that relationship, you will be judged. If you do have that holy relationship with God through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for your sin and you live committed to that relationship, then your praise and your thanksgiving will be pleasing and acceptable to God.

 

No doubt it is due to our evil human nature that we forget God and break our commitments to Him who has helped us the most and instead of committing ourselves to Him, we focus on ourselves. According to thecatholicpriest.com, “The post office official in charge of the Dead Letter Box in Washington, DC, reported that he had received hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to “Santa Claus” asking him to bring many things, but after Christmas, only one letter came to the box thanking Santa Claus for bringing the toys.” Obviously, that one letter came from someone who really believed, who was really committed to Santa Claus.

THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE IS NOT A SMALL THING.

 

There is a sense that all of these sacrifices are given from a willing heart but what makes the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving so great and wonderful is that it can only be given willingly. The highest obedience is the obedience that is given at suggestion and not at command.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Spurgeon “knew a youth who had wished to be baptized, but his friends kept him back. When he fell ill, he fretted because he had not confessed his Lord according to the Scripture. “But Isaac,” said his mother, “you know baptism will not save you.” “No, mother,” he replied, “of course it will not, for I am saved. But when I see Jesus in heaven I should not like Him to say, ‘Isaac, it was a very little thing I asked of you; did you not love Me enough to do it?’ ”

 

Concentrating on being thankful to God may seem like a little thing. Praising Christ in word and deed may not seem significant. What makes it significant is because it is an indication that “everything’s alright in my Father’s house.”

A Sermon from Ray Pritchard to Prepare us for the Lord’s Table July 31, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Body of Christ, Character, Communion, First Corinthians, Forgiveness, Judgment, Lord's Table, Repentance, Sermons, Spiritual Disciplines, Worship.
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“Unworthy”

Second Peter 1:2-2:2 (How do we know the truth?) July 8, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Faith, False Teachers, Forgiveness, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Peter the Apostle, Romans, Scripture Memorization, Second Peter, Sermons.
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We continue to learn Romans 6:1-13 during these summer months.  I would like for us to think on verses 5-8. 

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7  For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”

Paul says that there are some things that we know. He says that we are certain of the resurrection because we know that our old man was crucified with Christ, that our sinful body was done away with. How though can we be sure? He repeats this truth in verse 8 when he says that if we died with Christ, we can be convinced that we will live with Him. Again, the question is this, “How do we know?” His reply might be, because we know that the resurrected Christ will die no more. How though can we be sure? 

THIS QUESTION ABOUT TRUTH IS CURRENT! 

Tomorrow as we hold the memorial service for Ron French, this question will be uppermost in some minds, “How can we know that what God has said (about eternity in this case) is true?”

We have the answer in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Let us read these two verses and then we will answer the question, “How do we know?”

“…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Peter begins this letter by pronouncing a special blessing on his readers. We find the beginning of this blessing in 1:2. This blessing is based on knowledge. Not just any knowledge but the full knowledge of Jesus Christ. Peter then goes on to explain what exactly this full knowledge produces in the life of the believer so that those who are reading the book will understand both the blessing of this knowledge and their responsibility to it.

FULL KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST SHOWS ITSELF IN OUR CHARACTER.

1.     This knowledge produces fruit (1:2-15). This is not theory but reality put into practice. The knowledge of God produces salvation and it produces the type of life that is different from that of the world.

a.      Verses 1-4 tell us about the eternal fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Although I will be talking about eternal fruit of the future and earthly fruit in our present lives, I hope you will understand as Peter does, that the two are inseparable. Look at verse 3. Peter speaks of that which pertains to life and godliness. Both of them are produced by the power of God by the means of the knowledge of God.

b.     Verses 5-7 tell us about the earthly fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Not only is the gospel of Christ the power that produces salvation, it is also the power that produces a godly life.

·        Why then do believers not live a godly life? Why do they not add to their faith, virtue and to their virtue, knowledge until it culminates in the love of God revealed in their daily lives? It is likely because the power of God does not work in them as it should because they have shunned the knowledge of Christ. Someone asked me several months ago what the verse meant that says that if we will not forgive our brother, neither will our Father in heaven forgive us. This is the explanation. If the gospel does not transform your way of living then it is very unlikely that your heart has been transformed. So if you never develop as a Christian to the point where you can forgive those who have sinned against you, then it is likely you have never experienced the power of God for salvation.

·        This brings us to a second question? What is my part in producing godliness? If I am incapable of producing godliness, why then am I commanded to do so? This is why the Word of God is necessary. You see, it is the power of God that produces godliness just as it is the power of God that produces salvation and eternal life but in both cases this power is set in motion by the Word of God and we respond to it by faith. This is the difference between dead works and faith. Dead works looks at the rules and says, “I can do that.” Faith looks at the promises and says, “God can do that for me,” and then responds by striving to do what God has promised to do within me. Those promises that we look at in the Word of God are like a carrot dangling from a stick luring us away from sin and leading us in the path of godliness (HT: John Piper). It is not by my power to walk in that path but it is by my assent. It is not my capability but it is my responsibility to accept and act upon the truth.

WHEN WE BEAR SPIRITUAL FRUIT, GOD’S WORD IS CONFIRMED.

c.     Verses 8-15 tell us about the necessity of spiritual fruit. We are assured by the Word of God as well as by recognizing God’s work in our heart and life. To continue strong in faith, it is absolutely necessary to be strengthened by the Word of God. I am not sure how far down the road of destruction one can go but it seems that it is possible that one can live in rejection of the Word of God to such a point that his spiritual eyesight is damaged (verse 9). In fact the implication of verse 10 is that those who have no fruit have no salvation.

GOD’S TRUTH IS NOT ONLY CONFIRMED BY OUR CHARACTER BUT ALSO BY EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS. 

2.     We know the truth by the confirmed word (1:16-18). Peter was not a moralist. He did not say I am going to tell you what to do over and over and over again until you get it. Peter said I am going to tell you what I have seen. He was an eyewitness. He was not talking about what he had heard from someone else but was speaking from his own personal experience. The confirmation of the truth of the Word of God is very important (Hebrews 2:1-4; 1 John 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15). That is what produces assurance of salvation as well as a holy life.

·        Sometimes someone will tell me about some experience they have that they accredit to God. Sometimes, the experience, although totally foreign to anything that I have ever experienced seems to not only be consistent with the Word of God but also to be evidenced by godliness in the life of the person who experienced it. As long as they do not lift that experience to the level of revelation from God or inspiration by God, then I can say nothing against it. Often though, there are those who tell me about an experience they have had and they attribute that experience to God and I know by their lives that God could have nothing to do with it. If He did their lives would be different. I have no confidence in their experience not because of the experience but because it does not confirm the truth of the Word of God. If your experience does not confirm the clear truth of the Word of God, then your experience is suspect.

·        Peter was different. He was not a perfect man. He was flawed but His experience with Christ changed him and now as he is coming to the end of his life, he writes and tells these people, you need to be reminded of the truth of the message of Jesus Christ. That will keep you from sin! That will establish you in the truth! It is interesting that he does not tell about the resurrection or the ascension of Christ into heaven but rather of the transfiguration, the time when Peter saw Christ in His majesty. Why? Peter understood that was the experience he had with Christ that best describes the second coming (verse 16).

WHAT IS IT THAT FRUITFUL LIVES AND EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS CONFIRM? 

3.     We know the truth by fruitful lives and by confirming testimony but first and foremost we know the truth by the prophetic word of God (1:19-2:2). This is what was confirmed by the eyewitnesses, the prophetic word of God. This may (or may not) imply predicting the future although the predictive prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ concerning the Messiah coming in power and majesty are certainly foremost in the mind of Peter as well as his Jewish readers.

a.      A prophet never spoke his own message. It was always the message of God that he spoke and that message when believed would bring light (1:19-21).

·        “The content of the Bible is revelation. The process by which that content was written down is called inspiration. And it wasn’t a high level of human activity, it wasn’t even a high level of religious human activity. Men were in the process but it didn’t originate with them and it didn’t come from their desire and their will, they were used as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit and enabled to speak from God. They spoke divine words. God used them. It was their personality. It was their background, some of their insights, their experiences, their perceptions, but every word was the word of God. (Macarthur)”

b.     A false prophet not only speaks his own message but it brings destruction on those who believe it (2:1-2).

WARNING! ALL THAT IS TOLD IS NOT TRUTH. 

There are a lot of wrong voices crying to be heard. These voices are described in 2 Peter 2:1-2. We find out two important things about these wrong voices, the false prophets.  

First, they have always been around. Peter quickly moves into his present day but he begins by saying, “Yes, we have the Word of God but do not forget, the false prophets are from ancient times also.” Just because something is old does not make it honest or true. What makes truth is not age or lack of it but a reliable source and Peter says that the Holy Spirit speaking through men is the only reliable source of truth. 

Secondly, they deny and reject Jesus Christ. It is not about believing in God. It is about trusting Christ. He is after all the only way to God. It is not about doing good works to please God. Good works deny the sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross. It is not about the traditions of men but about the truth of Christ. How then do you know the truth? Certainly, you can look at what God has done in the lives of believers. That is evidence of the power of the knowledge of God. If you are a believer, you know now that God has given you the power to bear fruit. Strive to do it. It is very clear what the fruit should be. Make your life correspond to that fruit.

There are also the eyewitness testimonies that confirm the truth of the Word of God. Peter is one of those. Ultimately, though you are going to have to put your faith and trust in the promises of God for yourself. Only then can your way be lit to salvation in this life and in the life to come. 

Links to Therapeutic Gospel and other Miscelleneous Items July 2, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, First Timothy, Forgiveness, Links, Titus.
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Will try to post the Revelation 4-5 “Q and A” tomorrow. Enjoy the links in the meantime.http://www.9marks.org/partner/0,,314526,00.html

Go to the link above and look in the left column for “The Therapeutic Gospel” by David Powlinson. 

Colin Adams interviews Conrad Mwebe–often called “The Spurgeon of Africa.” (With thanks to Justin Taylor)

From Bob Kauflin’s blog “Worship Matters” Q&A Fridays – What About “Me” Songs?

Paul’s Imperatives to Pastors  – Jun 18, 2007  (This is long but really well done. Worth the time if you care what the Bible says about pastoral work.)

This is the beginning of a series from “Pulpit Magazine”. No word on when they will resume the series but this is good solid information on the Word of God.

  • Is the Bible Really God’s Word?
  • Ten Reasons We Believe the Bible
  • A Word about Evidences
  • Until we get “Terrible Parable” back you’re gonna get “Links”. June 27, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Book Reviews, Forgiveness, Links.
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    I am still battling computer problems which means that the few “Terrible Parables” I have yet to put online are sitting in limbo in my hard drive. Until then, I’ve got a couple of links to some excellent articles. 

    Tim Challies on Forgiveness

    http://www.challies.com/archives/002639.php

    More Tim Challies on the difference between print media and screen media

    http://www.challies.com/archives/002646.php

    A review by Chris Anderson. If the book is half as readable as the review, it’s a good read.

    What I’m Reading: Flyboys

    THE PREGNANT NEIGHBOR MAN (a “Terrible Parable”) June 12, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in David, Forgiveness, Terrible Parables.
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    This one from Carolyn Houghton should get your attention!

    http://mysite.verizon.net/bizsopu4/2007.06.01_arch.html#1181555892020