Monday, April 28, 2014

Living the Gospel Together: The Good Fight of Faith



1 Timothy 6:1-21                    April 27, 2014               Link for audio/video/manuscript

Life is war – spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually– not only on the stage of the world, but also on the stage of our everyday lives. Jesus lived an embattled life. He fought sin, he fought evil, he fought death. And even though sin and evil put him to death, he rose from the dead - defeating sin, evil and death for those who surrender their lives to him as Lord and Savior. And because he ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live within the hearts of those who give their lives to him – we too can fight the “good fight of the faith” when we flee the sinful things which wound us, pursue the godly things that protect us and build us up, and take hold of the crucified, resurrected, Holy Spirit empowered eternal life that we have in Jesus

Friday, April 25, 2014

Don’t Worry, Be Casting - Andy Naselli

First Peter 5:6–7 is bursting with hope and comfort. When I am tempted to worry, I often meditate on it. And when I come alongside people who are full of anxieties, I invariably share it with them.
But understanding why that passage is filled with hope and comfort requires a mini-grammar lesson: What is the relationship between humility and anxiety?

Cast or Casting?

Peter commands, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV, emphasis added).
In English those are two sentences with two parallel commands:
  1. Humble yourselves . . . .
  2. Cast all your anxiety on him . . . .
But in the original Greek, it is one sentence with only one command and a participle: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (ESV, emphasis added).
The NIV says, “Cast.” The ESV says, “casting.” Why the difference?
The NIV goes with “Cast” probably because 1 Peter commonly uses what grammarians call “imperatival participles” in “attendant circumstance,” which have the force of a command but are softer than a straight-up command. It’s an appeal.
The ESV opts for “casting” probably because it formally translates the Greek participle with an English participle.

Casting

While both “Cast” and “casting” are legitimate translations, I think that “casting” is better because it transparently shows that this word is subordinate to the main command: “Humble yourselves.” And that should prompt readers to ask this question: What is the relationship between humbling ourselves under his mighty hand and casting our anxieties on him? “Humble yourselves . . . casting.”
Here are seven options:
  1. Manner: “Humble yourselves . . . in a casting manner
  2. Time: “Humble yourselves . . . when you cast
  3. Concession: “Humble yourselves . . . although you cast
  4. Condition: “Humble yourselves . . . if you cast
  5. Result: “Humble yourselves . . . with the result that you cast
  6. Purpose: “Humble yourselves . . . for the purpose of casting
  7. Means: “Humble yourselves . . . by means of casting

By Casting

I’m convinced that means makes the best sense in this context. Peter’s sentence gushes with applicational significance if you simply add the little word “by” before “casting”: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, by casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Let’s trace the argument:
Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand.
For what purpose should you humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand? So that at the proper time God may exalt you.
How should you humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand? By casting all your anxieties on God.
     Why should you cast all your anxieties on God? Because God cares for you.

What to Do with Your Anxieties

You might think that God is way too important to care about you and your little anxieties, but God is telling you that he cares for you.
It is arrogant of you to keep your anxieties to yourself and not give all your worries and cares to God. Proud people try to take matters into their own hands. Humble people trust God.
The very way that you humble yourself is by casting all your anxieties on God. Not just some of them. Not just the major ones. All of them.
That’s the relationship between humility and anxiety. Humble people cast all their anxieties on God. Proud people don’t. Proud people worry.
So do you have any anxieties? Anxieties are normal in a fallen world. Some of us have more or greater anxieties than others, but we all have them.
The question is this: What are you going to do with those anxieties? You should do exactly what your loving Father wants you to do: God lovingly commands you to humble yourself under his mighty hand by casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Resurrection: What Difference Does it Make?


1 Corinthians 15:1-58                   April 20, 2014                Link for audio/video/manuscript

Jesus came to earth, gave his life, and rose from the dead because there is a deep and deadly sickness of sin that is loose in humanity. But when we surrender our hearts and lives to Jesus we are then intimately and eternally connected to the One who has the power over sin and death. Jesus has risen back to life from the dead! Embracing the resurrection of Jesus Christ will make a difference in what you believe, in how you live your life, in how you will leave this life and where you will go after this life. Jesus has risen! Jesus is our new life! Jesus is our promised resurrection after this life!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Heaven is for Real, Read Your Bible - David Platt



Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
Proverbs 30:4-6

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle – Jon Bloom


The next time someone says that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, point them to Judges chapter seven. God instructing Gideon to take on over 100,000 enemy soldiers with just 300 fits in the “more than you can handle” category. Imagine how Gideon and his servant, Purah, must have felt trying to come to grips with a humanly impossible assignment.
Standing on the side of Mount Gilboa, Gideon gazed over the Plain of Jezreel, which sprawled beneath him northward toward the Hill of Moreh. The plain was a sea of tents, teeming with more than 100,000 Midian warriors.
That morning, the Lᴏʀᴅ had judged Israel’s army of 32,000 too big to face Midian’s. Israel would think more highly of himself than he ought to think when God gave him victory. So Gideon had sent home whoever was afraid. When 22,000 hit the road, Gideon had to quiet his own fear. Now Israel was outnumbered ten-to-one. But God was with them and armies had overcome such odds before.
Oddly, the Lᴏʀᴅ considered these odds still too much in Israel’s favor. So in obedience to the Lᴏʀᴅ’s instruction, Gideon brought his small, thirsty army down to the Spring of Harod. And he gave his servant, Purah, the strangest command of his brief military career: “Observe all the men as they drink. Have every man who laps his water like a dog stand off to the side.”
Gideon supervised the selection, but when so few were being chosen he just let Purah finish the count and he climbed back up Gilboa to pray and survey.
It wasn’t long before Purah emerged from the trees. “So what’s the total?”
“Three hundred, sir,” said Purah.
Gideon chuckled to himself. “Three hundred.” He looked back toward the human hoard in the valley and was quiet for a moment. “That’s less than I expected.”
“Yes, sir,” said Purah. “But thankfully, three hundred doesn’t reduce our strength much.”
Gideon breathed deeply. “No, Purah. The three hundred are not the reductions. They’re the army. The others are the reductions.”
Purah stood dazed for a moment staring at Gideon. “The three hundred are the army?”
Gideon nodded slowly, still looking into the Midian-infested Jezreel.
“But that’s not an army! That’s how many should be guarding an army’s baggage!”
Purah stepped up beside Gideon. Together they watched smoke columns rising from ten times more cooking fires than they now had warriors. Purah shook his head and said, “Even if we were all like the mighty men of old, three hundred could not overcome 100,000.” He paused. “And we aren’t mighty men.” Another pause. “And there’s more than a 100,000 down there.”
Both were silent for a while. In the quiet, the Lᴏʀᴅ spoke to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.
Then Gideon said to Purah, “During the Exodus, how many mighty men did it take to destroy Egypt and its army or part the Red Sea?”
Purah thought briefly. “None.”
“How many did it take to tear down Jericho’s walls?”
“None.”
“How many did it take to feed two million of our people in the wilderness every day for forty years?”
“None. I get your point.”
“In our people’s history, the mightiest have not been the strong warriors,” Gideon said. “The mightiest have been those who trusted in the Lᴏʀᴅ and obeyed him, no matter how impossible things appeared. He has promised us that Midian will be defeated. He has chosen only three hundred of us. We will obey, he will act. And when Midian falls it will be clear to everyone who felled him.” Then he looked at Purah and smiled. “Maybe the Lᴏʀᴅ just needs us to guard his baggage!”
Purah didn’t laugh. He only replied, “Should we dismiss the others?” Gideon nodded.
Later that night, in the tiny camp, Gideon lay praying. Every plan to mobilize 300 against 100,000 seemed ludicrous.
Suddenly, he was aware of the Presence. He sat up, his heart beating fast.
The Lᴏʀᴅ said, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.
Purah woke to Gideon’s nudge and whispered words, “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?” Purah whispered back, getting up quickly.
“To the Midian camp, just you and me. The Lᴏʀᴅ has something he wants to show us.”
They quietly crept toward the nearest Midian outpost, veiled by the clouded sky, and saw two inattentive guards talking. Just as they got within earshot one said, “I had a strange dream before being woken for duty tonight.”
“Tell me,” the other said.
“This cake of barley came tumbling into our camp, crashed into the tent, turned it over and flattened it.”
The other guard looked at him alarmed and said, “I know what that means! The cake can be none other than Gideon, the son of Joash! God has given us all into his hand!”
Gideon and Purah looked at one another with the same stunned expression.

With renewed faith, Gideon and Purah roused their mini army and launched a night attack. This threw the Midians into a panic and they slaughtered each other in confusion. It was a rout. Not one of Gideon’s three hundred perished in the battle. God gave them more than they could handle to force them to rely wholly on him.
When we’re confronted with an impossible situation or trial, Gideon’s three hundred preach to us that “salvation… is from the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Psalm 37:39) and “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). These are no domesticated platitudes. God really intends for us to cast our all on these massive truths and for them to give us more-than-conquerors confidence and peace (Romans 8:37) no matter what we face.
It is not hyperbole to say that the defeat of our sin that Jesus accomplished on the cross dwarfs Gideon’s victory. Compared to overcoming God’s wrath against our sin, defeating 100,000 Midianites was very small. And if God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32)?
God certainly does give us more than we can handle. And he does it “to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). If you’re facing some overwhelming adversary or adversity and you wonder how God could possibly deliver and work it for your good (Romans 8:28), then take heart. He is granting you the joy of experiencing the reality of Judges Seven, Romans Eight, and Second Corinthians One.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Living the Gospel Together: The Pursuit of Godliness



1 Timothy 4:1-16                  April 6, 2014                  Link for audio/video/manuscript

God calls us to the fullness of spiritual growth. But it is impossible to simply drift into godliness. We are fallen sinners, and our tendency is to always drift away from God. And so we must work out, train ourselves or we will fail. We are to do this together an athlete trains, totally and absolutely committed to do whatever it takes to not just reach the finish line, but to win the gold! We can and we will succeed where others fail when we commit our hearts and lives to the being the best for Jesus and doing the best for Jesus through the pursuit of godliness