jump to navigation

Teaching the Awesomeness of God (Psalm 66) – A VBS closeout sermon June 29, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Praise, Psalms, Religion, Sermons.
add a comment

TEACHING THE AWESOMENESS OF GOD

Psalm 66

 

We teach the awesomeness of God when we praise our God (verses 1-4, 8).

Praise is described (66:1).

Praise is described as a joyful shout (65:13 and 66:1a). This is the same type of noise that Israel was commanded to shout when they marched on the seventh day around Jericho.

Praise is described as a group activity (66:1b, see also verse 8). There are no solo parts in eternity. All praise and all prayer and all glory and all honor to God will be a group activity.

Praise is defined (66:2-4).

Praise is the glory of God (66:2). It may be in a musical form (verses 2 & 4) or it may be in the form of a prayer (verse 3) but whatever form the praise of God takes, it is the purpose for which we exist and when we do not praise the LORD, we have missed our true calling in this life.

Praise is submission to the awesomeness of God (verse 3). God is like a volcano that as the same time inspires awe when we see its power and causes fear when we realize that we are in the path of its force. When we praise God, we call attention to what He has done and what He can do and what He is now doing and what He will do. When we praise God, we are willingly submitting ourselves to Him.

We teach the awesomeness of God when we show (“Come and see!”, verse 5) His dealings with men (verses 5-12). One of the main differences between the awesome power of a volcano and the awesome power of God is that God consciously deals with humankind. The power of a volcano is unthinking, governed by the laws of nature, without intention, without any purpose that comes from the volcano itself. The power of God, however, is intentional. There is purpose behind His power.

His purposes include deliverance of His people from danger (verse 6, referring primarily to the parting of the Red Sea; and verse 9). Now it is wonderful that we see the awesomeness of God in creation but according to Romans 1 that is just enough knowledge to condemn us but not enough to save us.

“The earthquakes in New England occasioned a kind of religious panic. A writer, who was then one of the ministers of Boston, informs us, that immediately after the great earthquake, as it was called, a great number of his flock came and expressed a wish to unite themselves with the church. But, on conversing with them, he could find no evidence of improvement in their religious views or feelings, no convictions of their own sinfulness; nothing, in short, but a kind of superstitious fear, occasioned by a belief that the end of the world was at hand. All their replies proved that they had not found God, though they had seen the greatness of his power in the earthquake.” Edward Payson, D.D.

You see, although we can see God in creation, if we do not see God in the awesomeness of His dealings with men, we cannot understand His purposes. God chose an group of Jewish slaves and delivered them from Pharaoh for the purpose of displaying His power to save those on whom He shows His favor. The reason we tell during VBS the stories of God’s awesome power in creation and in the Old Testament narratives and in the works of Christ and even in the church in the New Testament is not because they are age appropriate but because they are the way that God has chosen to reveal Himself and if our children are ever going to learn the awesomeness and the majesty and the glory of God, they are going to learn it from the stories of God’s work that we tell them and from the praise that those stories evoke from our hearts.

His purposes include the revelation of His greatness in comparison with the rulers of this world (compare verse 7 with Revelation 1).

His purposes include the refining of His people to the point of abundance (verses 10-12; see also 23:5, “my cup runneth over”).

We teach the awesomeness of God when we turn to God in our troubles (verses 9-20). At the end of this psalm, we see that God’s deliverance is not only corporate (verses 8-12) but also individual (verses 13-20, especially verse 16, “Come and hear!”).

Just as we teach together through our praise of God, we teach individually through our thanksgiving to God (66:13-15). We give to Him of whatever it may be that we have in thanksgiving for how He has delivered us from our troubles in answer to our prayers.

Before thanksgiving comes dedication of our hearts and lives to God (verses 13,15). In the burnt offerings, we see his approach to the altar with the common and general sacrifice. Again, therefore, he says at the altar: I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings (#Ps 66:15). This is the general offering, brought from the best of his flock and herd. This is an offering of dedication, of submission to God.

Next, in his paying vows, we see he has brought his peace offerings with him. Then follow the peace offerings: “With the incense (fuming smoke) of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats.” The peace offering is a costly public confession of thanksgiving.

Rev. Daniel Baker’s Addresses to Young Men is quoted by Spurgeon as saying, “It is a bad fireplace where all the heat goes up the chimney: true religion spreads joy over all around. Yet the fire warms first the chimney in which it burns, and grace comforts the heart in which it dwells. Nobody will be warmed by a cold hearth.”

We teach what it means to have a relationship with God (66:16-20).

This passage implies what had to proceed both the burnt offering and the peace offering, that is, the sin offering. Of course, the sin offering 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 will celebrate next week during the Lord’s Table. Christ paying the penalty for my sin. This is beautifully expressed in two songs that are in our hymnbook.

“He Lifted Me” (verse 1)

“In lovingkindness, Jesus came. My soul in mercy to reclaim; And from the depths of sin and shame, Through grace He lifted me!”

Love Lifted Me (verse 1)

“I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore. Very deeply stained with sin, sinking to rise no more. But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me, now safe am I.”

How did He lift me from sin? By dying for my sin that I might have salvation. In the same way, God will not accept your dedication 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.

Confess yourself a sinner before God.

Submit yourself to His will.

Thank Him and praise Him before all.

In doing these things you and I can teach to others the awesomeness of God.

Advertisements

Sermon on Practical Praise from Psalm 150 (with thanks to Bob Kauflin’s “Idolatry on Sunday Morning”, link provided) June 8, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Praise, Psalms, Religion, Sermons.
1 comment so far

PRACTICAL PRAISE

Psalm 150:1-6

 

Thirteen times the word “praise” is used in this chapter. The focus of this chapter, though, is not praise nor is it worship but rather the one whom we are to praise. Our LORD God Almighty, our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

A. We are invited to come to God and praise Him (verse 1).

§ The sanctuary is not strictly a building but rather the place of God’s holiness.

§ God’s holiness is not limited but is a great as His creation (compare with Psalm 102:19).

B. We are reminded of why we should come to God and praise Him. The LORD is worthy of praise – He is the Almighty One (verse 2).

“…the goal of gathering as God’s people is not to feel something but to see and remember something. That “something” is the Word, works, and worthiness of God, especially as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1).

If I pursue goose bumps or heightened emotion during a meeting, God becomes simply one of numerous options I can choose to seek them from. This doesn’t minimize the importance of pursuing encounters with the living God characterized by profound emotion and awareness of the Holy Spirit’s active presence. Scripture is filled with examples of longing for (Psalm 84:1-2) and delighting in God’s presence (Psalm 126:5-6). But I become aware of God’s nearness by dwelling on His nature, promises, and acts, not by pursuing an emotional fix” (adapted from “Idolatry on Sunday Mornings” by Bob Kauflin,

 

http://www.worshipmatters.com/2005/11/worship-service-idolatry-on-sunday-mornings/

 

§ See Judges 5:31a for a description of what is meant by “mighty acts”, “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD! But let those who love Him be like the sun When it comes out in full strength <01369>.”

§ His excellent greatness means that His greatness is abundant. He never wears out although His is always operating at full strength.

C. We are to use everything and everyone to praise the LORD (verses 3-6).

§ There is no instrument that should be left out.

As St. Augustine says here, “No kind of faculty is here omitted. All are enlisted in praising God.” The breath is employed in blowing the trumpet; the fingers are used in striking the strings of the psaltery and the harp; the whole hand is exerted in beating the timbrel; the feet move in the dance; there are stringed instruments (literally strings); there is the organ (the ugab, syrinx) composed of many pipes, imposing combination, and the cymbals clang upon one another. —C. Wordsworth quoted in the “Treasury of David”.

Now this brings us to an interesting question. I say interesting because it is constantly coming up. People want to know, what style of music should we use to praise the LORD? Should we stick to hymns? Should go to a more contemporary style of music? Is rap or a heavy metal style appropriate for praising the LORD? Certainly this psalm was not written to address this issue but the indication is that everything else being equal, there is no musical style that cannot be used to praise the LORD. Now I understand that everything is not equal. The issue is complicated by the fact that our main concern is usually not praising the LORD but getting to use the style that we like and prefer. How this issue shows the ungodliness of our hearts. We believe rumors and lies and are ready to pass along the least bit of gossip based on the attitude that our style of music is the best.

Now I would prefer to sidestep this issue but since this issue is constantly a hot topic, I want to take just a few moments to give you some principles whereby you can govern your attitude toward music.

 

1. Allowing the style of music to dominate your thinking, schedule, time, or desires reveals the presence of idolatry (1 Corinthians 6:12-13a; 10:23-11:1).

 

“What is our greatest hindrance in worshipping God? We could come up with a number of potential answers.

 

“Our worship leader isn’t very experienced.”
“The services are too planned/spontaneous.”
“The songs are too complex/simple.”
“The band/orchestra/organist/guitarist sounds bad.”
“There are too many new/old songs.”
“Our church is too big/small.”

Ignoring for a moment that all these statements refer to a meeting context, they reveal a profound misconception about the hindrances to true worship. Contrary to what we might think, our greatest problem doesn’t lie outside us, but within our own hearts. It’s the problem of idolatry…

God makes it clear in

Exodus 20 that he will not tolerate any competition for the allegiance and affections of our hearts. “You shall have no other gods before me.” That succinctly describes idolatry…

We foolishly think idols can provide for us what only God can give. They tempt us every day, all day. It’s not surprising, then, that even my ten year old daughter, Mckenzie, deals with idols. One of her primary idols is “not taking showers.” Otherwise known as the idols of control and pleasure. She confessed to Julie and me today that for the past three days she’s only been

pretending to take a shower. (For some reason, most ten-year-olds find taking showers as appealing as scratching a chalk board for ten minutes.) After working through a tearful confession with my wife, and learning of her discipline (no playing with friends for three days), we talked about her heart. I explained to her that not taking a shower was an idol for her. She thought that remaining dirty would bring her happiness. Instead it led to deceiving those she loves the most and dishonoring the God Who created her for His glory. And it definitely didn’t deliver on the happiness promise. Ultimately, idols never do.”

“Whenever I think I can’t worship God unless “X” is present, I’m making a profound statement. If “X” is anything other than Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, I’ve moved into idolatrous territory. Idolatry is always evil, but the idols we pursue aren’t necessarily evil things. They are evil for us because we value them over God…

Music must be wisely chosen for its ability to serve both the lyrics and the congregation in order to truly honor God. But thinking that we need a certain type of music to truly engage with God is, at its root, idolatry…The complementary idols of familiarity and comfort are often revealed in the words, ‘We’ve never done it that way before…’” On the other hand, “…NEWNESS can also be an idol. We’re convinced that some fresh, different, never-been-done-before [style] will make our congregational worship more effective. Or powerful. Or appealing.” (Again with thanks to Bob Kauflin,

http://www.worshipmatters.com/2005/11/worship-service-idolatry-on-sunday-mornings/)

2. I have no rights when it comes to music (1 Corinthians 8:9-13; Romans 14:14-15:3).

§ There is no person that should be left out when it comes to praising the Lord (Revelation 19).

 

Next week: Nehemiah 4:7-15 – Dad, Is Your God Awesome?

 

Three Types of Sacrifices in the Bible November 4, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Amos, Atonement, Forgiveness, Leviticus, Praise, Religion, Second Chronicles, Sermons, Thanksgiving.
10 comments

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.”

Ways God Reveals Himself (A Sunday Morning Sermon from Psalm 19) July 15, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Creation, Depravity, General Revelation, Inspiration, Praise, Prayer, Promises of God, Psalms, Repentance, Sermons, Special Revelation, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation, Truth.
8 comments

WAYS GOD REVEALS HIMSELF

PSALM 19:1-14

The last few weeks we have looked at the Word of God and in each case we found that the truth of the Word of God was confirmed in some way or another. In 2 Timothy 3 we discovered that the truth of the Word of God is confirmed by those who teach it to us, especially by the way that they live it out before us. In 2 Peter 1 we saw that the transformation that the Word of God makes in our lives confirms the truth of the Word of God as well as the many eyewitness accounts of the New Testament period confirm the truth of the Word of God. This week we are going to look at two ways that God reveals Himself and again. The first, like others that we have seen in previous weeks, will be a confirmation of the truth of the second.

LOOKING AT THE SKY

God reveals Himself through creation (verses 1-6).

No one escapes this revelation. In these six beautiful verses we have a wonderful description of revelation through creation. Those who teach us the Word of God may fail and falter and lose our confidence. Our own lives may become so squandered in sin that we forget that we were forgiven of our own sins. The historians may rewrite history so as to try to discredit the eyewitness accounts of Peter, Paul, James, John and hundreds of other. They cannot, however, blot out the sun.

“During the French revolution Jean Bon St. Andre, the Vendean revolutionist, said to a peasant, ‘I will have all your steeples pulled down, that you may no longer have any object by which you may be reminded of your old superstitions.’ ‘But,’ replied the peasant, ‘you cannot help leaving us the stars.’ John Bate’s ‘Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Truths,’ 1865. (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”)

Those who believe that the universe around us is the result of some cosmic accident cannot deny that it is a glorious and wondrous accident. It is the glory of the heavens and the earth on which we live that helps us to have a foretaste of the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

“When you go out into the woods or on to the beach at look at the beauty of creation, what do you go to see? Do you go to see the glory of God? It is to little purpose to view the beauty of creation, to wonder at the marvels of the universe, if we do not seek, if we do not see not God’s glory there.” (A knock off of a quote from Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748.)

IT HITSYA IN THE FACE!

The message of the heavens is not subtle. Listen to the following translation written by Henry Craik in 1860,

” The heavens are telling the glory of God,

The firmament displaying the work of his hands;

Day unto day wells forth speech,

Night unto night breatheth out knowledge.” (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David)

The message of the heavens is blatantly clear. There is nowhere on earth from which man can escape that message because the heavens are the blackboard from which God instructs men in the knowledge of His glory.

The heavens are also the stage from which we see the wonder of God called the sun. The sun rising in the morning and streaking across the sky is described as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. This was ancient custom back before chivalry and knighthood became so common. Although the bride was very important and she was also decked out in her finest, she was the one who did the waiting. For the groom there was none of this popping out from the side room and humbly standing to the side and waiting for the main event, the entrance of the beautiful bridegroom. No, she was the one who looked forward to her husband bursting onto the scene in all of his glory and majesty, dazzling the guests with a great feast, and then sweeping her off into a sunset of bliss.

THE SUN IS LIKE A RUNNER. 

David also says that the sun is like a strong man who rejoices in the race. Some of you know Caulin Mortensen. Almost two years ago, Pat Whalen and I took our Sunday School Class and a group of their friends to a corn maze. Caulin is a good example of the joy that a runner feels when running a race. There were six kids so Pat and I divided the kids into two groups and we set out going through the maze looking for the hidden stations that were in the maze. We had agreed to meet up with one another at the halfway station. Pat had Caulin in his group. From the moment we entered the maze Caulin burst ahead of his group and from then on he determined the pace and the path. As the paths of the two groups would cross we would usually hear Caulin running first, then we would see him, and then we would hear Pat calling out for him to wait up. At the half way point, Pat and I traded groups. Caulin was still running. He was still determining the pace and the path. By the end of the day, Pat and I were worn out and some of the kids were dragging also but Caulin was still running. He had a great time. He was rejoicing in the run. Nothing slowed him down. That is the picture of the sun in the heaven.

THE INSUFFICIENCY OF CREATION 

When we look at the heavens we are filled with wonder but our response of wonder is insufficient.

During VBS we told the story of Jackson, a blind Navajo Indian boy, whose parents took him to medical doctors and called medicine men to try to heal him. Nothing worked. One day in despair Jackson stumbled out of the house and walked out into the desert until he could walk no further. As he sat there on a rock he began to think of what he had heard about God from the traveling missionary who had come to his village. He began to pray, asking for God to reveal Himself. At that moment, a loud clap of thunder shook the sky around him. Jackson was thankful that God had answered his prayer. The kids enjoyed the story. We were careful though to make sure that the kids understood that such an event cannot save a person. The power of the storm, the glory of the sun, the beauty of the flower displays the character of God but it is insufficient to cure the sickness of the soul, to calm the fears of the heart, to forgive the sins of our lives. For those answers we must turn to God’s Word.

THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD’S WORD 

God reveals Himself and reveals us through His Word (verses 7-14). Teachers are important but God’s Word provides life revealing knowledge. Eyewitness accounts of miracles confirm God’s Word but the Word itself makes the difference, not the miracles. Even Satan can produce miracles but only God can produce life revealing and life changing truth. Science can establish that some things are true, logic can prove that some things are true, our feelings and our instincts can sense that some things are true but only God’s Word is in its character, in its essence, in its entirety true and truth and without error.

Because God’s Word is a complete revelation of Him and of ourselves it changes what creation cannot change, the human heart (verses 7-11). “The universe is cursed, [just as we are] and the universe groans under the burden of this curse (Rom 8:19-22)…The earth is longing for something, the apostle Paul tells us, longing for a Man, the Lord Jesus, who unseats the dragon despot of this present darkness. The earth is groaning for us, “for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19). That’s why gospel proclamation is the most farsighted form of environmental activism. The earth is [ultimately] delivered when [we] her rulers are raised from the death curse, when all things once again are under {our} feet, in Christ.” (henryinstitute.org, Russell Moore’s commentary “Blood, Gore, and Global Warming” July 9, 2007)

INNER TRANSFORMATION

The change that comes from God’s Word is inward (verses 7-8).

It converts the soul. Only the Word of God can transform a man or a woman who is spiritually dead and make them alive. That is why positive thinking does not work. Dead souls cannot think positively. They are helpless until the Word of God enters their heart and converts, restores, revives them, allows them to pass from death unto life.

It makes wise the simple. Only the Word of God can renew the mind. Even as believers, our minds are influenced by the world of sin but God’s Word can transform the way we think. Without the Word of God, we are incapable of thinking as we should. God’s Word teaches us not just what to believe but how to think.

It rejoices the heart. Only the Word of God can bring true joy. Now there are other things that can bring joy into your life but they are things that do not last. If you want to have joy when trouble is surrounding you, you need the Word of God.

It enlightens the eyes. In this phrase David sums up the revival of the soul, the opening of the mind, and the filling of the heart. With the Word of God one begins to see spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. That is the inward change that comes from God’s Word.

THE WORLD’S MOST PRICELESS POSSESSION IS NOT YOUR SOUL. IT IS GOD’S WORD. 

The change that comes from God’s Word is of eternal value (verses 9-10). My wife will tell you that I am a recovering addict. 🙂 I was addicted to the morning paper. When we got married and lived in our first apartment and did not have two pennies to rub together, I took out a newspaper subscription. When we were three and a half years on the road raising support to go to Austria, one of the first things I did many mornings was go to the gas station a buy a morning paper. When we moved to Munich, Germany for language school and I could barely read, I had to have my paper, even if it had to be in German. In Austria and in Berlin the morning paper was part of my daily routine. That morning paper though became of the biggest obstacles to having a consistent walk with God as I should. One of the biggest struggles that I eventually had to get over was that what I was investing so much time and money in was not of eternal value. That enjoyment, that pleasure, which I am sure I would still enjoy, which I’m sure would still bring some profit into my life, is of no eternal value. John Piper once said, “It’s like the child who chooses the penny over the dime because it’s bigger.” What is the penny on which you are holding tightly? What is taking your time and energy and perhaps even money and is diverting you from the one book that is of eternal value – God’s Word?

WHEN YOU RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD…

My response of repentance and faith in God’s Word is sufficient (verses 11-14). Remember, repentance is not a listing of my sins. Rather it is viewing my sin as God sees it and turning to Him as the only relief from my sin. David, of course, did not know, did not understand that Christ was going to come and die for his sin but he knew that only in God was there mercy and pardon to be found for sin and protection from the evil of secret and presumptuous sin.

GOD’S WORD WILL MAKE YOU BLAMELESS.

God’s Word keeps us from sin (verses 11-13). Usually we focus on verses 11, 12, and the first part of verse 13 when looking at these verses but I want us to see what happens when through God’s Word we are kept from sin. We become blameless. Over the last year, we have had a lot of conversations about the meaning of this word. Certainly, there are a number of different usages of this word in Scripture, some of which I have preached on recently (See https://roberttalley.wordpress.com/2007/07/15/the-meaning-of-the-word-blameless-in-the-new-testament/). The word here means “to be made complete”. It is clarified in the next phrase “…and I shall be made innocent of great transgression.”

Spurgeon put it this way, “All sins are great sins, but yet some sins are greater than others. Every sin has in it the very venom of rebellion, and is full of the essential marrow of traitorous rejection of God. But there be some sins which have in them a greater development of the essential mischief of rebellion, and which wear upon their faces more of the brazen pride which defies the Most High. It is wrong to suppose that because all sins will condemn us, that therefore one sin is not greater than another. The fact is, that while all transgression is a greatly grievous sinful thing, yet there are some transgressions which have a deeper shade of blackness, and a more double scarlet-dyed hue of criminality than others.” (from “Presumptuous Sins” http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0135.htm).

That is what David wants to be kept from. The blameless man, the complete man is not one who never commits sin but one who is so immersed in the Word of God that he is kept from those great transgressions that bring shame on himself, on his God, and on his fellow believers.

WHAT PART OF ME IS MOST AFFECTED BY GOD’S WORD? 

God’s Word changes my words and my thoughts (verse 14). There are a number of ways to evaluate whether God’s Word is doing the work it is supposed to do. Two are mentioned in this last verse. When I catch myself being hateful or negative in my language, when I find that my thoughts are consumed with the things of this world, then I know that God’s Word is not having free course in my life, I am not allowing it to have the effect that God intends for it to have.

INVITATION: Believer, it is time you evaluate yourself. Is God’s Word changing you? If not then let the prayer in this psalm be your prayer and turn to the Word of God for food. You say, I do not know how. We can help you. We can show you how to feed yourself from God’s Word.

If you have not trusted Christ as Savior, your soul needs converted. You need to be revived, to pass from death unto life. The Word of God shows you how. The Bible says that through faith in Christ’s death on the cross, your sin debt can be paid and you can be forgiven. You cannot work to be converted. You cannot work to be saved. It is only through faith in Christ. Will you trust Him today?

Revelation chapters 7-8 (Questions, now with answers). July 13, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Day of the Lord, Eschatology, Judgment, Persecution, Praise, Prayer, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Suffering, Throne of God.
add a comment

Revelation 7-8

  1. What theme carries over into 7:1-3 from chapter 6? The events and situations in these two chapters are global in effect and not limited to the Middle East.

  2. What arguments are there in the text for the 144,000 being Jews (verses 4-8)? Other than the fact that it says they are Jews is the fact that they are from twelve specific and named tribes of Israel, Dan is replaced by one of the tribes of Joseph.

  3. To what event in the gospels does the worship around the throne allude (verses 9-12)? Palm Sunday

  4. We have seen earlier that white robes indicate a saved person. What else is indicated in this passage by white robes (verses 13-14)? Those in white robes have been persecuted for their faith.

  5. What in the future do verses 15-17 refer? The believer’s eternal state with God. Although it is speaking specifically about those who came through great tribulation, the implications are there for all believers.

  6. Compare 8:1-6 with 5:8 and 6:9-11. What does this tell us about the seven trumpet judgments? The trumpet judgments are in answer to the prayers of the saints for God to avenge them on the evil world which persecuted them.

  7. The first four seals had the common thread of the horsemen. What is the common thread in the first four trumpets (8:7-12)? One-third of various things are affected.  These angels’ trumpets correspond to the task given to the four angels in 7:1-3.

Revelation 5 (Q and A) The Seven Sealed Book July 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Gospel, Praise, Prayer, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Throne of God, Worship.
add a comment

Revelation 5

1. What is the significance of the right hand in verse 1?

The right hand is a place of authority and honor. The scroll appears to be something of great importance that has the authority of God behind it.

2. What do we know about this scroll and the seven seals according to chapter 5:2-9 (not chapter 6)?

  • It is intended to be opened and read, i.e., made known.
  • Not just anyone is worthy to open it and reveal what is in it.
  • Only one was found who was worthy, Jesus Christ.
  • He is worthy because He is victorious (verse 5).
  • This victory was won through His redemptive sacrifice (verse 9).

3. What about Christ is emphasized in verse 5? What about Christ is emphasized in verse 6? What are the differences in the two emphasis (compare also with verse 9b)?

Verse 5 emphasizes His connection to Israel, especially that He is the Messiah prophesied by the Old Testament Scriptures. Verse 6 emphasizes the truth of Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God which is primarily made known in the New Testament. His revealing as the Lamb brings His Messiahship to believers from every ethnic group and not just to the nation of Israel.

4. What is represented by the harp and golden bowls (verses 8-10)?

Worship in the form of song and prayer.

5. What is the basis for the praise of the Lamb and the one on the throne who lives forever (verses 11-14)?

The Lamb was slain and the rule of the one on the throne is forever. 

Revelation 4 (Q and A) July 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Eschatology, Praise, Rapture, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Throne of God, Worship.
add a comment

A bit late this week with the Q&A. I am also posting the Q&A for chapter 5 which we didn’t quite finish and for chapter 6 which we should get to this Sunday evening.

Revelation 4 

1.     To what do the phrases in verse 1, “these things” and “after this”, refer (Compare with Revelation 1:19)?

The events following the present situation in the seven churches described in chapters 2-3 as well as following John’s vision of Jesus Christ in chapter 1.

2.     Who is the voice speaking with John in verse 1 (Compare with 1:10-13)?

 Jesus Christ

3.     Is there any reason within the text to believe that verse 1 refers to the Rapture (Compare with 11:12)?

No. Although a voice like a trumpet (Christ’s voice) says, “Come up here…” there is no indication in the text that John is intended to symbolize the church at this point. This does not mean that the Rapture does not take place at this point in the eschatological chronology, only that it is not to be found (as thought by many) in verse 1.

4.     Everything in chapter 4 is described in relationship to the throne of God. What do we already know about this throne and what is the significance of this knowledge so far (1:4-5; 3:21; see also Ezekiel 1:26-28)?

The Trinity is pictured as directly related to each other and equal with each other at the throne of God. This is also the hope of those who overcome (believers in Christ), to be with the Father and with Christ throughout eternity. Many of the things mentioned in relation to the throne are also mentioned in one or more Old Testament passages that describe the presence and glory  of God.

5.     What is the significance of the number of elders seated around the throne (Compare with 21:12-14)? What is the significance of the white robes and the crowns, i.e. victory laurels in verse 4?

The twenty-four elders seem to symbolize the unity of Israel and the church as represented by the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles. The God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament. The white robes are worn by the true believers both from the Old Testament and the New Testament (testament = covenant in this context). They are also united in their victory as “overcomers” over the wicked one.

6.     What is the significance of the lightnings, thunderings, and voices (Compare 8:5; 11:19; 16:17-18 with Exodus 19:16)?

This seems to be an Old Testament allusion to the presence of God on Mt. Sinai. In the book of Revelation these phenomena also seem to be connected to the coming judgment from God on the world.

7.     What is the significance of the seven lamps of fire representing the seven Spirits of God, the sea of glass, and the four living creatures when taken together as one picture (See Exodus 37:23; 38:8; Number 2:2ff compared with Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6)?

These all allude to the furniture of the Tabernacle and the Temple where God’s presence housed itself during the time of the wilderness wandering through the time of Ezekiel. There were visions of God’s glory by Ezekiel and Isaiah. Isaiah’s was connected to the temple but the vision in Ezekiel 1 is apart from the temple although chronologically, the glory had yet to depart.

8.     Is there any reason in the text to assume that the four living creatures are referring to the four gospels or the four aspects of the character of Christ?

No, this is allegorical interpretation which should be avoided even when the interpretation seems to be benign or perhaps even inspirational.

9.     What purpose do the elders and living creatures serve?

To worship and glorify God throughout all eternity.

Questions concerning Revelation 4 June 28, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Eschatology, Holy Spirit, Praise, Rapture, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Throne of God.
add a comment

1. To what do the phrases in verse 1, “these things” and “after this”, refer (Compare with Revelation 1:19)?

2. Who is the voice speaking with John in verse 1 (Compare with 1:10-13)?

3. Is there any reason within the text to believe that verse 1 refers to the Rapture (Compare with 11:12)?

4. Everything in chapter 4 is described in relationship to the throne of God. What do we already know about this throne and what is the significance of this knowledge so far (1:4; 3:21; see also Ezekiel 1:26-28)?

5. What is the significance of the number of elders seated around the throne (Compare with 21:12-14)? What is the significance of the white robes and the crowns, i.e. victory laurels in verse 4?

6. What is the significance of the lightnings, thunderings, and voices (Compare 8:5; 11:19; 16:17-18 with Exodus 19:16)?

7. What is the significance of the seven lamps of fire representing the seven Spirits of God, the sea of glass, and the four living creatures when taken together as one picture (See Exodus 37:23; 38:8; Number 2:2ff compared with Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6)?

8. Is there any reason in the text to assume that the four living creatures are referring to the four gospels or the four aspects of the character of Christ?

9. What purpose do the elders and living creatures serve?