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Second in a series from Isaiah February 6, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Isaiah, Parables of Jesus, Repentance.
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AN INVITATION IN DISASTROUS TIMES
Isaiah 55

In the last chapter, God proclaims hope in the midst of disaster. In this chapter we have an invitation to grab hold of that hope.

A. God invites us to satisfaction (verses 1-5). It should be noted that the invitation goes far beyond physical satisfaction. Notice in verse 3 Isaiah says, “That your soul may live.” In other words, the hope God offers goes beyond physical satisfaction. It involves our whole being.

1. Satisfaction cannot be earned (verses 1-2). Remember that Isaiah is writing to people who have lost homeland and homes, family and friends, dignity and livelihood. God offers forgiveness but only to those who come.

2. Satisfaction does demand a response (verse 3a). “A mother, a son, and a daughter are clinging to the upper branches of a large tree surrounded by raging flood waters. The rescue team in a boat cannot get right up to the tree because of debris, but the distance between the boat and the tree can be jumped with effort. The team in the boat shout[s] with urgency, ‘Jump, jump,’ but the family members are afraid. Finally, summoning up courage, the son jumps and lands safely in the boat. Then the daughter jumps. She falls into the water, but the rescuers are ready and quickly pull her into the boat. Now the rescuers along with the son and daughter plead with the mother, ‘Jump, jump, you can do it! We’’ catch you if you fall short.’…but she is afraid, and as she [hesitates], there is a terrible crack, the tree falls, and she is swept away…” (Oswalt’s commentary on Isaiah 55).

3. Satisfaction is found in Jesus (verses 3b-5). God made a covenant with David. This fulfillment, this “witness to the people, [this] leader and commander for the people” is Jesus Christ who came to save His people from their sin, as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.

B. God invites us to take advantage of the opportunity we have now (verses 6-7). Jesus in Luke 14 was sitting at a meal when one of those there said, “Blessed is he who hall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Jesus told how that different ones were invited to a great feast but did not come because they had other things to do. At least, that was their excuse. “Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind…Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those [who made excuses] shall taste my supper.’’

1. God does not promise future opportunity (verse 6). Certainly the door of opportunity to respond to God can be closed by death but sometimes life circumstances can close that door. Sometimes our hearts can be hardened by bitterness or pride or shame. Today is the day to respond to God. If you need to be saved, today is the day to call to God. If you need to become a better disciple, today is the day. If you need to become a better witness, today is the day. If you need to forgive someone, today is the day. Today, today is the day.

2. God demands repentance in exchange for mercy (verses 7-11). Repentance is not self-improvement. Self-improvement is spending money on that which is not bread. Self-improvement is laboring for that which does not satisfy. We need to turn from our sin, from our relationships, from religious institutions and practices, and to the man on the cross who alone has purchased our pardon.

C. God invites us to rejoice (verses 8-13). Specifically, if we come and are satisfied, we will rejoice. Those who have no joy have no satisfaction in Christ.

1. We can rejoice in His ways (verses 8-9). We may not understand them but we can rejoice in them because we know that they are higher. God understands how all this works out and how to work it all out for the best.

2. We can rejoice in His word (verses 10-11). These verses do not mean that if we witness to someone, that guarantees they will be saved, although that is how they are often used. These verses guarantee that if God promises satisfaction and forgiveness, we can count on that satisfaction and forgiveness. Why? So that He will be pleased.

3. We can rejoice in His new world (verse 13). Last week in the Junior Sunday School Class we learned that God created, cursed, and will cure this planet Earth. This world will become new when Jesus returns and all who have trusted Him are eternally united with Him to rule and reign on this earth.

“A banquet table is worse than useless to the person who is either too proud or too ashamed to come and eat from it” (John Oswalt, Isaiah: The NIV Application Commentary, page 602, 2003).

As we prepare to partake of the Lord’s Table, are you too proud? When we partake we are proclaiming to the world that we are needy. We need Jesus. We need the water of life to quench our thirst. We need the bread of life to satisfy our hunger. We need the Lamb of God to take away our sin. We need the Holy One of Israel to endow us with splendor. We need Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life to give us eternal life. There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Are you too ashamed? You are a sinner. You are undeserving. You have failed this week, you may be conscious of having failed today. An old camp meeting song goes like this:

“Come ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore. Jesus, ready, stands to save you full of pity, love, and power.
I will arise and go to Jesus. He will embrace me in His arms. In the arms of Christ my Savior, O, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify; True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings you nigh.

Let not conscience, make you linger nor of fitness fondly dream. All the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall; If you tarry till you’re better, You will never come at all.

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Part One: Sermon Series on Baptism January 9, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Judgment, Luke, Repentance.
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DID YOU MEET THE CONDITIONS?
Luke 3:1-22

The next few weeks we want to look at the subject of baptism. This is often a controversial subject so I think I should begin by explaining the purpose behind this sermon series.

1. Several have expressed the desire to be baptized and it is important for their sake and for yours that we look at the Bible and remind ourselves of the Bible’s teaching concerning the subject.
2. Baptism is the way in which people are initiated publicly into the faith. This is perhaps the common denominator between all of the various views concerning baptism. It is a public initiation rite. It says something important about the person being baptized.
3. Baptism is supposed to be meaningful. Even those who do not believe that baptism is necessary today admit that there is a significant meaning behind baptism. The various groups may not agree exactly on what that meaning is but that it is meaningful is certain.

Today we want to look at the baptism of John and understand how baptism functioned in his day. We will also be able to make comparisons to our day because in both John’s day and in our day, baptism functions as a public initiation into the faith and carries great meaning.

I. God’s message to us is a last days’ message (verses 3-9, 15-18). As John was baptizing, the multitudes came to him to be baptized and John spoke very bluntly to them. He told them, God has a message for you. Have you met the conditions demanded for initiation into the kingdom of God (verse 7-8)?

Because we fear salvation by works we tend to deemphasize baptism but works of repentance are biblical. In some pagan cultures, people gather their idols and other articles of superstition and burn them when they turn to Christ. “In America, the house itself may become one’s god. It is hardly appropriate to burn one’s house” (David Hesselgrave in Planting Churches Cross-Culturally). Yet, repentance, though it is an inward attitude, it reveals itself in our actions.

A. This message seems harsh but we need to remember that this is only a part of the message. This message from God is a message of forgiveness (vs. 3-6, 16-17). John was preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins confirming Isaiah’s prophecy that all flesh shall see the kingdom of God. John was preaching that time was at hand. Those Jews who understood and believed the Old Testament knew that in the last days, when the Messiah comes, God will save His people from their sin and the nations will see that salvation and many of them will turn to God.

B. This message, however, is not only a message of forgiveness and salvation but also a message of judgment (vs. 7-9, 17-18). These people were preparing themselves for the end of the world. They obviously hadn’t heard of the Mayans prediction concerning 2012. John’s response was not, “You’re too early!” No, it is, “Are you ready? Have you met the conditions? Are you prepared for the day of judgment?”

II. What are those conditions? God’s message for the last days demands a change of allegiance, that is, repentance (verses 8-14).

A. Allegiance to nationality, ethnicity, and even religious faith hinders repentance (vs. 8-9). That doesn’t mean those things are wrong. These people were born into their nation and born into their faith but they needed to give their allegiance to God not to their nation, their race, their religious identification, and especially, as we will see, to themselves.

B. Our works prove our allegiance (verse 8). How do you determine where someone’s allegiances lie? By how they act, by what they do. It is told that Spurgeon was walking down a street in London when a man who was drunk and leaning on a lamppost yelled out to him, “Hey, Mr. Spurgeon, do you remember me?” Spurgeon replied, “No, why should I?” The man said, “Because I’m one of your converts.” Spurgeon replied, “Well, you must be one of mine; you’re certainly not one of the Lord’s.”

a. Work #1: Compassion for the needy (vs. 10-11). John is applying the Old Testament to these people. Jesus put it later this way, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” We understand that God has that same expectation of us.

b. Work #2: Contentment with our lot (vs. 12-14). John did not tell the tax collectors or the soldiers to quit working for the government but rather to be content with the blessings they have from God. Again, this is what God expects of us. We are to be content with whatever avenue of blessing the Lord gives us and not to take advantage of others so that we might have more.

(Contentment comes from trust) LeRoy Eims was talking to a young lady in San Francisco. He asked her about her relationship to God. She said, “Well, I’ve always had this terrible fear that He might send me off to Africa as a missionary.” As they continued to talk he asked her about her workplace. He asked her if she went out with the men who hung around there. She said, “No…they are a bunch of creeps and I just don’t feel secure when I’m with them.” He then asked, “If you were to meet a guy who really loved you … [would you feel secure around him]? Do you think he could be trusted?” Of course, she said, yes. In the same way, we can be content and secure in Christ. Like a farmer who irrigates his crops, “God is always upstream, discerning our needs,…and arranging things for our good” (from What Every Christian Should Know About Growing).

c. Work #3: Care not to abuse our power (vs. 14). This is one of those things that I was blessed not to know anything about as I was growing up but the older I get the more I see that when we get power that is not held accountable by others, we tend to abuse those under us.

C. Our baptism is a declaration of our allegiance, that is, our repentance (verses 3, 7). It is a declaration that we love others as ourselves because God loves us as Himself. It is a declaration that we trust Him to give us what we need in the way of blessings and in the way of opportunity to receive blessings in this life. It is a declaration that we are accountable to God for any and all authority which we might have.

That is what baptism is. It is a declaration that my life is different. No more will I live for myself. I have given myself to God.

III. How is this accomplished in our lives? If we are to declare a changed life we must have a changed life. How is that to be? John tells us plainly that God’s message and the fulfillment of that message depends on Christ (verses 15-22).

A. Forgiveness through the Spirit (vs. 3-6, 16-17). We tend to forget that the prediction of the Old Testament is that the Messiah would come and His people would be transformed through Him spiritually. They would be given a fleshy heart instead of a heart of stone. They would be endowed, anointed, have poured out on them, the Holy Spirit. That blessing, however, came through Jesus Christ. These people lived in expectation of that promise.

B. Judgment by His authority (vs. 7-9, 17-18). Just as Jesus brought forgiveness through the Holy Spirit working in those who follow Him, He also brings judgment to those who have a different allegiance.

Where is your allegiance? Have you met the conditions for baptism? Have you repented of your sinful ways and turned to Christ alone for forgiveness and filling with the Holy Spirit? You can meet those conditions today. Turn to Him for salvation and escape from the wrath to come. The kingdom of God is at hand. The predictions of the Mayans will most certainly not happen but Christ may come today. Repent today of your sin.

If you have been baptized, are you living up to your declaration? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Are you content with what God has blessed you with? Do you use the responsibilities God gives you wisely with consideration for those under your authority? If not, today is the day to make that right.

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?

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”

Converted to Christ by an Atheist July 19, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Atheism, Easter, Faith, Gospel, Repentance, Terrible Parables, Testimony.
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Testimony Of Tom Dutton As Given on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007  

I’d like to take a few minutes, this morning, and tell you how I came to know Jesus Christ as Savior.   

My early life was one that I would best describe as running from God, but at the same time trying to find Him.  I remember trying to live up to the Ten Commandments that I had memorized in Bible School, but, at best, could only do so in short spurts.  I recall thinking that God must think of me as an absolute failure.  (If you have read the latest Terrible Parable on the Church web site this week, THE DEFECTIVE AFGHAN, you could add another person to that list!)   

When I looked at others, I saw there were some who seemed to be able to live a righteous life, at least more righteous than mine.  So I then developed a desire to meet those standards, but knew in my very being that I couldn’t do it.  But why?  If God gave us standards to live by, why wasn’t it reasonable to expect that his creatures would be able to obey them?  It only made sense that I should be able to do so, but I couldn’t!  So instead of running toward God, I ran away from Him. 

I recall reading Francis Thompson’s poem, “The Hound of Heaven” which is an examination of the way God brought him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  It also portrays, how God dealt with me in my earlier years.  I too, was seeking knowledge that would reveal God to me.  I too was trying to find God on my terms, in my way.  When I read the Bible, it made no sense, as I was trying to find a god (little ‘g’) that would fit my definition.  Thompson’s poem, “The Hound of Heaven”, begins: 

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

And shot, precipitated,

A down Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears.” 

This poem could well have been a commentary on my own life; as I desired to know What God was, but didn’t want to know Who He was.  Or if I did, I wanted it on my own terms.  It was a roller coaster ride of the worst kind. 

During my mid twenties, I began to read the Bible again, this time with the teaching of a Biblical Pastor David and a couple of Christian friends Bill and Nelson.  I read passages like “there is none righteous, no not one”;  and “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”;  And, of course,  Paul’s own self examination was an echo of my own life,  

Romans 7

9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 
 

Then a little further on in the same chapter, Paul continues:
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.
19 For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil, which I would not, that I do.

It was at this point that I began to realize that if the great Apostle Paul was in the same dilemma as I, then maybe I needed to listen a little more closely to what God was really saying in the Bible.  How did Paul get out of this quandary?  Paul goes on: 

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.    [So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.]

But as earlier in life, I tried to intellectualize this; How could I resolve this, How could I solve this seemingly impossible riddle?  I recall having many discussions with Nelson over this and other issues.  How big is God and where is He?  Can we really know Him if we don’t meet His standards?  How could Jesus be crucified and come back to life again?  How can I know if he died for me?  What. How, Why??? 

Then one day, In the late ‘60s, I was having lunch in a restaurant in Concord NH with a fellow worker from Dartmouth College.  He knew I went to church, as I had mentioned this to him before.  He was an atheist and made sure everyone knew it, so when he asked the question, “Tom, are you really a Christian?” I knew he was looking for more than just a yes or no, churchgoer response.   

“What do you mean by ‘a Christian’?” I asked, slowly, perhaps trying to delay my response as much as possible. 

“Do you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” was his response. 

Uh, oh!  There it was; My life’s defining moment.  Now it isn’t every day that an atheist is the one that moves someone into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but I’m here to tell you that it happens!  Perhaps atheists know better than most that confession is the dividing line between faith and unbelief and Bob knew that if he could get me to deny Jesus, I would be in his camp.  But I also knew that Jesus said “If you will confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father who is in heaven.”  This was it!  How would I respond to life’s most important question? 

It came immediately, “Why, yes, Bob, He is my Lord and Savior.” 

From that moment, I recall, all doubt that I had harbored, immediately fled from me.  I also recall that Bob instantly changed the subject.  He had asked the wrong person the right question!  I had spent my whole life running from God and He spent it running after me, like the Hound of Heaven in Francis Thompson’s poem.  He finally cornered me and I had no way escaping Him.  I was His!  And He was mine! 

The “Hound of Heaven” poem ends with God’s voice: 

“Rise, clasp My hand, and come !”

Halts by me that footfall :

Is my gloom, after all,

Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly ?  

Then God’s voice again: 

“Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,

I am He Whom thou seekest !

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.” 

(You drove love away from yourself, when you repelled Me.)

[dravest: v. to repel or push away]  

John Newton described his salvation:“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see!” 

Galatians 2:16   “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”  

There are many verses in the Bible that are very meaningful to me, but Phil 3:7 – 10 are my favorites: 

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
  

As you know, music is a big part of my life.  Music is an expression of the soul that cannot be expressed in any other way.  It’s not surprising then, that in the few glimpses we see of heaven in the Bible, that the saints are singing praises to the Risen Lamb.   

Although my musical talents are limited to strumming a guitar and singing, I began then to dedicate them to God; to use them in whatever way I could to give back to Him, a small part of the great love He has for me in giving His son Jesus Christ, who died for me.  And to express that love I have for Him, which is inexpressible in no other way than singing. 

I love to sing when I’m alone in the car; people who see or hear me as I drive by must wonder at my sanity!  The chorus, “I Love You, Lord” is a favorite of mine, one of many that I like to sing when I’m driving. 

Please join me in singing it.

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.
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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?

Links to Sermons from Psalm 19 July 14, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Communion, Lord's Table, Prayer, Psalms, Repentance, Sermons.
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Not a sermon but a great appropriate quote from “Fire and Knowledge” (see that site at my blogroll for more great quotes.)

 http://www.fireandknowledge.org/archives/2007/07/12/science-cannot-prove-or-disprove-god-collins/

Spurgeon on “Secret Sins”…

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0116.htm 

…on some sins being worse than others. He believes some are and will tell you why…

 http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0135.htm

…and how little we recognize the extent of our sin.

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0299.htm 

From John Piper on the last three verses (It was a sermon in preparation for the Lord’s Table)

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1990/723_The_Heart_You_Know_and_the_Heart_You_Dont/

Other sermons by Piper on Psalm 19 can be found here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/1/

A Meditation by Sam Storms on the first six verses:

http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/look-up-and-listen-psalm-191-6

Revelation 6 (Questions concerning the first six seals) July 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Antichrist, Day of the Lord, Eschatology, Famine, Hades, Hell, Judgment, Persecution, Repentance, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, War, Zechariah.
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Update:  answers are in italics 

Revelation 6 (compare the four horsemen with Zechariah 6:1-6)

The four horsemen are an allusion to Zechariah 6:1-6 and 1:7-17. What is the main purpose of using the symbol of four horses of varying colors?  It seems to correspond with the emphasis of Zechariah 6 that is also made in other ways in Revelation 6. This emphasis is that the things that coming by way of these horsemen will affect the whole world and not just certain regions.

There are generally two popular interpretations of the first rider on the white horse:  that it is the antichrist and that it is Jesus Christ. What are the arguments for one or the other interpretation? Which of these interpretations is easiest to support from the book of Revelation itself? Depending on your interpretation of the first rider, what purpose does this horse serve internationally?  There are a lot of different arguments put forth but I will mention the two that seem to me to carry the most weight because they arise more from the text and are less determined by the system of interpretation one may already have. 1) The white horse rider being Christ is best supported by the fact that Jesus is pictured in Revelation 19 as coming in victory on a white horse. If this horse is Christ, then it is consistent with the theme presented often in the Revelation, i.e., that Jesus will overcome the forces of Satan. In fact, the sixth seal seems to tell about that event. 2) The white horse rider being anti-Christ is best supported by the fact that the other three horses have a negative impact on the world. If this rider is the anti-Christ it gives credence to a one world government or the domination of the world by the beast. 

If the red horse is war, where will this war take place?  No place on the earth will be untouched.

What conditions in the world are described by the third horse and the voice from the midst of the four living creatures?  Inflation and famine for the poor but the rich may not be affected.

We are told directly who the fourth rider is. What will happen during the time of his working on the earth? Has there ever been a time when one fourth of the people on the earth were destroyed?  The day of the Lord, which seems to be what this chapter is beginning to describe will be a time of much death by all sorts of means.

What prophetic events are the fifth seal looking forward to (7:9-14; 13:14; 14:13; and 17:6 with contexts)?  Revenge on the persecutors of God’s people including but not limited to “the beast” and “Mystery Babylon”.

What prophetic events are the sixth seal looking forward to (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2; Matthew 24:7; Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30 with contexts)?  The day of the LORD.