Archive for the Sermons Category

The Purpose of Praise

Posted in Sermons, Uncategorized on January 3, 2016 by rundalel

This morning I was given the opportunity to present the sermon at my church – Christ’s Church of the Valley in Palmdale, California. Here is my text:

Praise the Lord Church! …..

The first time I heard Mykel stand up here at 10 am and yell out “Praise the Lord – Church!” – I don’t remember what I did… I know what was thinking –I was thinking, “don’t tell me what to do – I’ll praise the Lord when I’m good and ready” I probably you know, clapped, or said Amen…

You know what I missed? I missed it.  Mykel was giving me a reminder about something I already knew. The key to beginning a church service is to offer up praise!

This is supposed to be a “Worship Service” We start by singing “worship songs” Without praise, though, there is no worship…. So this morning I want to speak about praise. I want to focus mostly on Why we praise.

I will tell you the short answer now. We praise because it helps us to abide – or – when we praise we enter the presence of the Lord!

On the night that Jesus was about to be crucified, one of the last things that Jesus taught his disciples was that they were to abide in him. The key to their success as believers, and followers, the key to their success in spreading the gospel. The key to OUR success in any of these things is that we are to abide in him.

John 15:4 – 5 English Standard Version (ESV)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Side note: The Friday night study we do at our house on Fridays is about to begin a two part study. The second part is called “secrets of the vine” which really unpacks (as Bill would say) Jesus teaching about Him being the vine and we are the branches and how it is that we bear fruit…..

As I go further I want to look at the connection between Praise and abiding or remaining in God’s presence.

I actually want to start by looking at a very old Christmas song.  It is one of the Christmas songs I like to lead each year. When I listen to the words and hear the melody as it is traditionally sung, I imagine it being sung by monks – ancient monastery choir. Indeed the text goes back to as early as the year 800 and the song itself seems to date back to the 1200s.

 

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here,
until the Son of God appear!
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel,
shall come to thee O Israel,

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Messiah, Son of God, appear
and free us from the guilt of sin, and fear.
Restore us, come and walk by our side,
For in Your Presence we long to abide,
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Has come to thee, O Israel.

Another side note – We all realize that “Israel” refers to everyone, not just Israel. Israel did not even exist when the song was written. The text laments about the lost state of Israel and in extension… all the rest of us.

 

The imagery of the song is pretty gloomy:

a “captive Israel”,   in “exile”,

under “Satan’s Tyranny”,

in the “gloomy clouds of night”

in need of saving from the “grave”

in need of saving from the very “depth’s of hell.”
The song describes a bleak and desperate situation. The song describes a people at a time when they were very lost. Indeed before Christ, we were very lost! We were like goldfish that had jumped out of our bowl and we were flopping around on the counter waiting to either die or be rescued.

One time I had a goldfish. Its bowl was on the counter between the kitchen and dining area. One day after coming home from being gone all afternoon I noticed the goldfish bowl empty. I looked around on the counter and on the floor and could not find the fish. It was a mystery. We did not have a cat…  Hours later I went over to the sink and moved a dish and the thing started flopping! I scooped him up and threw him back in his bowl. He lived a good long while after that.

That goldfish, laying under the edge of dish in the kitchen sink was just like all of mankind before Christ came to us. Before Christ rescued us. Now the goldfish, out of the water was unable to breathe, he was going to die.  But why exactly where we just as desperate? How were we captive? What were we lost from?

We were lost from God! On the way to the cross Jesus taught the disciples to abide… To remain in HIS presence… He was about to make this possible. Without him, before Him…. we were banned from His very presence!

Let me back up from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Garden of Eden….

Ever wonder about what was so special about the Garden of Eden?

I imagine it was spectacular. It had to be beautiful and green. There were four rivers. Perhaps waterfalls! Birds singing in the trees! But do you suppose it was the ONLY beautiful spot God made on the entire face of the earth? I don’t think so. The things that made Eden special were the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, and the fact that GOD was there! Eden was the place God made for Himself – to share with Adam and Eve. In fact, Ezekiel and Isaiah both refer to Eden as the Garden of God!

God made Adam and Eve and God placed them in His Garden. He placed them where He was… In His Presence. So, Jesus taught that we are supposed to abide He was teaching us to get back into His presence….. Just like we had been way back “In the Beginning.”

Now here is a thought that may not have occurred to you….. When a designer or manufacture makes a produce he makes that product for a particular purpose and to work within a particular environment. He places the product within its intended environment and he expects it to fulfill its purpose! He realizes that the product will only function correctly and will only fulfill its purpose if the product stays in the environment it was designed for!

We were designed to abide! We were designed to remain in the presence of God. If Man had procreated and never sinned we would have spread out over the surface earth and God would have continued to walk with us. His spirit would have always been with every one of us!

Allow me to emphasize this some more. God designed us to function in the environment of HIS PRESENCE! We were not designed to function correctly apart from HIS PRESENCE! A human, outside of the presence of God IS INDEED just like:

  • the fish flopping around, about to die, outside of its bowl.
  • A car attempting to drive across the ocean.
  • A boat attempting to make its way across the dry land.
  • A water lily trying to survive on a sand dune.
  • A rattlesnake trying to survive in Antarctica.
  • A Joshua Tree plant trying to live on top of Mt Everest.
  • Me trying to run to Australia

You get the idea, if you take any item or being that has been designed for one particular environment and you put it in another environment. The being or item is bound to fail.

Another side note….. when the product fails, you can’t blame the manufacturer…

Going back to the garden, you know the story. You know what happened. We chose to listen to Satan – or the worm, we tried to exalt ourselves. We sinned. We became mortal, and we got banished from the Garden of Eden. Now, the worst part of being banished from the Garden was that we lost the right to be in God’s presence. We were kicked out of the environment that we were designed for. We were doomed to failure.

Why did God have to remove us from His presence? It has to do with the very nature of God. God is not mean or vindictive. God is perfect, God is Holy, and to be exposed to anyone or anything that is not perfect would make Him unholy, or imperfect. If God were not perfect He would no longer be God, therefore for His sake and in extension our own sakes He had to separate himself from us. His angels actually guard his presence to protect His Holiness. Throughout the Old Testament there are stories about God coming down to be near to us, but we were never allowed to be too close. If someone accidently came too close they died.

But let’s look at that 4th verse of the song, once again:

O come, Messiah, Son of God, appear
and free us from the guilt of sin, and fear.
Restore us, come and walk by our side,
For in Your Presence we long to abide,
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Has come to thee, O Israel.

The song uses two names for Jesus. Jesus or in aramaic Yeshua means God Saves. The song identifies Him as Messiah – which means “the promised person sent to do the saving”. The song also calls Him Emmanuel which means God with us.

Jesus who was the Messiah, carried out God’s plan of salvation. He freed us from the guilt of sin. As sinless beings we can once again be Holy! Through this salvation Jesus made it so that He could be “God WITH US” – Emmanuel. He restored us so that we could once walk by His side. Through repentance and belief in Jesus Christ and the work He did for us on the cross, we can once again be in God’s presence.

Amen…. That’s the Gospel!  So, What has this to do with praise?

God’s original plan for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was that He have a relationship with them. He wanted them to be like sons and daughters. They were to have dominion over the earth. Through salvation we are offered forgiveness and He offers to restore to us this same relationship!

God still wants the relationship. God wants that relationship NOW! Jesus did not save us so that we could be in His presence SOME DAY! He did not save us so that we could believe and then hang out here on earth and wait until the roll is called up yonder, one fine day, when we’ll fly away and meet him in the air – SOME DAY!  Jesus came and saved us and sent His Holy Spirit so that we can abide with him so that we could be in His presence, so that we could restore that relationship HERE and NOW! Jesus has restored our environment so that we can restore the relationship!

Here is where praise comes in.

The Holy Spirit is a spirit. He is a presence that we cannot experience with our senses. We cannot touch, see, or hear him. Jesus promised that He would be with us, and He is, but how do we go about realizing HIM?  How do we sense His presence?

PRAISE THE LORD CHURCH! 

PRAISE is the action we do to REALIZE GOD’S GOD’S PRESENCE! Notice the word REALIZE… to make real.  We could say – Praise is the action we do to make God’s Presence real to us.

Here is what is often the missing ingredient; IMAGINATION. Yes, Imagination. Not like making up something that is not real. The actual definition of imagination is the faculty or action of forming ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

Praise is the action we do connected with active use of our imagination to experience the REAL presence of God. ……. We have been taught that we are to Worship God with all our Heart, all our Soul, and all our mind. Imagination is part of using our mind.

The action part of praise can take many forms: Here are some of the Biblical forms of praise.

  • singing,
  • speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs,
  • teaching one another,
  • shouting,
  • making a joyful noise,
  • prayer and thanksgiving,
  • standing,
  • kneeling,
  • clapping our hands,
  • dancing,
  • uplifted hands,
  • making music on instruments,
  • tithing,
  • partaking of communion

 

Praise is anything we do to prepare ourselves to be in God’s presence. It is anything we do to recognize that fact that God IS IN OUR PRESENCE.

SO, the answer to why we praise is to return to God’s presence, our intended environment.  When should we praise?

It is critical that we constantly praise! As long as we praise, we remain in God’s presence AND we REALIZE IT. He will be there whether we praise or not, but if we do not praise we will not realize it. Furthermore, As long as we praise we are saints! Think about it. How can you choose to sin while at the same time choosing to think about praising God? Paul said, “Pray without ceasing!” The more you pray, the more you have an ongoing conversation with God, the more active your imagination of God walking with you through your day, the more difficult it will be to mess up. Sinning, in the realized presence of God would be like stealing a cookie from the cookie jar while having a conversation in the kitchen with your mother. How can you be in conversation with God one moment and the next choose to sin? In order to do so you have to deliberately choose to tune him out of your presence. “Mom, can you step out of the kitchen for a moment?” Of course you are only imagining He is not there!  How has that been working for you?

If we are to Remain in God’s presence we must PRAY OR PRAISE WITHOUT CEASING – we must learn to praise on our own.

When we come together on a typical Sunday morning we PRAISE. We gather together and sing, we clap our hands, we lift hands, we pray – we offer thanksgiving, we listen to the preaching of the word. All of these activities are activities we do which praise God.

But since I lead singing, I want to use the rest of my time here. When we sing we are opening up our hearts, our soul, OUR MIND’S – our imagination, to the fact that God is here. And I have learned over the last couple of years that there are different philosophies behind how this is done…

Being someone who is much more analytical than emotional I have always been drawn to songs primarily by their lyrics. I love songs whose lyrics somehow reach me. The make me think. There could have a clever way of saying something – like “Open the Eyes of My Heart.”  They could teach or remind of doctrine like many of the hymns or the Christmas Song. They could verbally build a sense of the power and might of God such as Shout to the Lord, How Great is Our God, or “This Kingdom” – the chorus says

And this kingdom will know no end.   And it’s glory shall know no bounds
For the majesty and power   Of this Kingdom’s King has come
And this Kingdom’s reign    And this Kingdom’s rule
And this Kingdom’s power and authority
Jesus God’s righteousness revealed

It is easy for me to use the words of a song to imagine His presence.

But our brains are not all wired the same. I am learning to appreciate songs aimed at drawing out an emotion. Many connect more easily to their emotional side and can use songs to do so.  Some songs can have a simple message that leads to highly emotional response:

This is the air I breathe, This is the air I breath, Your Holy presence, living in me,

This is my daily bread, This is my daily bread, Your very word, spoken to me.

And I am desperate for you…… And I am lost without you!

Music is a powerful tool. It connects to the brain in many ways. I have read some science behind how music combines more areas of the brain than just about anything else you do… but in order for it to be praise the participants need to realize that God is right there. He is inhabiting the atmosphere of His praises. Without the realization of God’s presence it is just music.

Psalms 22:3 says that God INHABITS the praises of His People. A PRAISE TEAM therefore, uses lyrics, melody, rhythm, harmony, emotion, the playing of instruments and the mood that these things create. The team and the congregation build an atmosphere – a place where God’s presence can and does abide. The words, the music, the facial expressions, the body language, the clapping and the raising of hands all work together. We emphasize God. We imagine His presence.  Together we REALIZE the very presence of God. We praise God – We Worship God.

I want to wrap this up with by attempting to differentiate the words praise and worship. Webster defines worship as the act of showing respect and love for a God especially by praying with other people who believe in the same God. Sounds pretty much like what we have been talking about. Praise and Worship are almost interchangeable. Dr. Myles Munroe, from whom I have stolen the “presence” idea for this sermon, defines a subtle difference.  Praise is the act we do to recognize God’s presence. It is a mind thing. Worship is when we feel God’s presence – it is more of a heart and soul thing.

Funny thing, while I love to praise by singing, for me worship can lead to silence. When I have been free to relax and really just sing, it sometimes leaves me unable to sing. It typically happens for me when I am not leading. This stoical guy gets pretty emotional. I’ll be in some place, the band will be playing one of my favorite songs, I’m free from worries about all the stuff that goes on up on the stage, my arms may be raised up in the air, I’m probably off to myself a bit. I’m definitely singing as loud as I can..…. then God strikes me dumb. I get all choked up. I can’t sing. I just stand there and tear up and pray, “God, please let me sing to you.” He restores my composure and I get to sing again for a while… Worship can be powerful.

 

SO GO AHEAD, PRAISE!

SING, SPEAK, MAKE JOYFUL NOISES, STAND, CLAP, RAISE YOUR HANDS, PRAY, EXPRESS THANKFULNESS, DANCE, PLAY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, TITHE

DO THESE THINGS WITH YOUR MIND REALIZING THE PRESENCE OF GOD!

YOU WERE DESIGNED TO DWELL IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

IN HIS PRESENCE YOU CAN’T SIN.

IF YOU HAVE NEVER ACCEPTED JESUS DO SO NOW, THE PASTOR WILL SOON GIVE AN INVITATION TO DO SO. YOU WILL HAVE YOU SINS FORGIVEN YOU’LL REGAIN THE ABILITY TO GO HOME, TO GO BACK TO THE ENVIRONMENT YOU WERE DESIGNED FOR, TO GO BACK TO GOD’S PRESENCE.

ONCE YOU HAVE SALVATION, and for those of us who already do, REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE TO ACT OUT GOD’S PRESENCE. HE IS WITH YOU, BUT IF YOU DON’T THINK ABOUT HIM, IF YOU DO NOT REALIZE HIM, FOR ALL PRACTICLE PURPOSES, YOU HAVE LEFT HIS PRESENCE! WHAT GOOD IS HE THEN TO YOU AS YOU GO THROUGH YOUR DAY!

SO GO AHEAD! PRAISE THE LORD CHURCH! STAY IN HIS PRESENCE.

 

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Chessplayer God or God of Risk taking?

Posted in Sermons on August 9, 2010 by rundalel

Chessplayer God or God of Risk taking?

Pastor read an excerpt from a book that described God as a risk taking God. I thought it was a very interesting quote. I am not sure I would use the word “risk” for a God who is omnipotent, but it was interesting in that it explained how God allowed the choices of man, the will of man to affect His story….

The exerpt stated that theologians have depicted God as a God who controls everything, like a master chess player playing both sides of the game. The author of the quote however, stated that God does not do that. He plays only one side of the chess board and therefore puts himself at “risk.” His story is dependent on the actions and decisions of the people in His story. Some main points in support of the “risk” taking God proposed from the excerpt:

1) Adam and Eve had choice
2) People are in His story
3) God allows us to be in a relationship with Him – in relationships there is often disappointment when one side or the other does not fulfill expectations of the other.

After hearing the quotation in both sermons a number of thoughts crossed my mind. The most important being that if you refute the risk taking God, you have to be careful not to leave God as the double chess player.

I believe that neither the double chess player God, nor the Risk taking God are correct, but other than the use of the word Risk- the risk taker God is much closer to being correct.

Let me explain: The actions of God relative to history (His story) must fall into one of two area. Either God micromanages and absolutely controls every decision and every action or he does not.

Absolute control is the Chess player playing both sides. Angels and people are simply puppets in His hands. Every thought and every action of every person and every angel, all the animals, all the powers of nature, each earthquake, each tornado, each lightning strike, each dog bite, each cool breeze, each song from a bird, all things happen under the direct command and orchestration of God. I cannot imagine the purpose of such a creation. God is displaying His power and His glory — to whom? The puppets?

If God does not exercise complete control – if He allows free will of men and angels – does He exercise any control at all? There are some – deists – who believe that this is exactly what God did. He created a heavenly realm of angels and a physical universe and now stands on the sidelines just to see what we will do? If this is what He did, who is Jesus? He cannot be God because God is not involved. If this is what He did, we are hopeless little experiments created for some sort of godly perverted amusement.

I do not believe that God has created a puppet universe and I do not believe that God created a universe just to watch from afar and see what would happen. So then, what role does God have in His creation?  A reading of the Bible from cover to cover gives a pretty clear understanding of His purpose and His role.

  1. God created a universe and he created us humans within His universe.
  2. God gave humans (and angels for that matter) a choice. What was the choice? To obey or not. What was the consequence? If we obey we get to be with Him if not we are eternally banished from Him.  His “risk” for lack of a better word was that we would choose to be banished….
  3. Of course, God who knows the end before the beginning realized that Adam and Eve would choose poorly, but he had a plan to allow us humans a 2nd choice.  We could still ask for and get forgiveness from Him and thus be accepted back into His presence. Jesus had to sacrifice Himself for this plan to work, but He (God) was willing.
  4. Now, those who accept the sacrifice of Jesus are accepted by God into His eternal reward – Heaven.

God’s purpose for creation was to create a free willed being and give that being the choice to be with Him or not! God does not need to control every action of every being of all time. He lets the thoughts, decisions and actions of man have their affect as long as those actions do not interfere with His purpose and plan.  Certain individuals in His story had key roles in bringing about God’s sacrifice so in these instances God had to exert more control than usual.

Miracles were used to ensure that the people he had chosen to bring about His sacrifice were at the right place and the right time. Individuals key to providing the resistance necessary along the way had “hardened” hearts – Pharoah and perhaps Judas.  I believe that this simply means that at some point in the story, those individual’s hatred rebellion and sin reached a point where God removed his normally present common grace – thus allowing them do the evil they already had in their minds to do. Part of common grace, is man’s conscience – man’s inner voice telling him not to do wrong.

Now, all of this is really not that different than the “risk” taking God of the quotation. It is just that the word risk proposes that you have something to lose. In one sense God was risk taking in that Adam and Eves poor choice cause Him to lose His life on calvary.  God may have known ahead that this is what would happen, but if the result was based on our choice it is still a risk that He took.

Does God know every detail of every event that will ever happen? He is certainly all knowing and therefore capable of seiing all of history before any of it played out, but I wonder if He chose not to!  There is an interesting quote in Jeremiah 3:19-20

19 “I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like sons
and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’
I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me.
20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD.
(from New International Version)

God thought?? God thought that something would come to pass and it did not??  Wow!!

Let us examine one more scripture: Mattew 23:37  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
(from New International Version)

God longed?? God longed for something and He did not get it?? Again, wow!!

Do these verses say that God is not in control? Certainly not! He is omnipotent and He can “deal” with any action that man does and still carry out His plan and His purpose!!  Does this mean that God was surprised? I don’t know… What I do know is that irregardless of man’s actions, man’s sin God’s purpose and God’s plan (so far) has been carried out exactly when, where and how He planned it to be. The remainder of the story will be carried out in just the same way.  Our God is the omnipotent God that can “deal” with any circumstance and any poor decision he allows us to throw at Him….

To me, the thought that God allows us decisions, even when they are poor, shows that He really cares what we think about things. He is willing to let us have that relationship with Him. He values our input into it as worthless as that input ultimately may be.  It excites me to think that God cares who I care for. He cares about my circumstances. He cares about justice for me in my daily life. Prayer is awesome because God really wants to hear from me!! Double WOW!!

This week’s guest speaker at the Lister’s Bible study

Posted in Sermons on May 27, 2010 by rundalel

Has anyone watched this?  Francis main point is on why we sin and that the “secret” to avoiding sin is simply to realize that God is better!  God’s love, God’s grace, God’s presence is better, more rewarding, more worthwhile. It is amazing that we get sidetracked into sin….

There were two other very interesting things implied in the sermon I wanted to emphasize. He quoted from Jeremiah, before discussing James to make the point that the whole point of the Bible, the main thrust of the Bible is that is is a love story. God made us, to love him.  He – that is God, said in Jeremiah, remember when we were like newlyweds?  God said that He thought, they would stay His if He provided for their needs and protected them from their enemies….. The verses implied that God allows events to play out without controlling or perhaps even knowing the outcome.  Very interesting.

The second implication, about God creating us to love Him, is something I have understood for years. I used to explain it to my students at AV Christian School something like this.  If God wanted to create a being for a relationship with Him, He had to give that being the choice to stay in the relationship or to reject it.  A being in a relationship, not by their own choice, has less value than a being in a relationship by their own choice.  My wife chooses to stay with me by her own choice.  My adult children choose to maintain a relationship with me by their own choice. My dog has a relationship with me by my choice, this relationship, while of some value, is not nearly as valuable as the former relationships.

Maybe comparing a relationship with a person to a relationship with a dog is not fair.  How about comparing two dogs.  I had a dog once who obeyed. I could take her anywhere, because I could tell her to stay somewhere and she would. Since she obeyed, she was able to go everywhere with us and her position in the family was rather remarkable. On the other hand, I have had dogs who would not obey. I gave them the same training and chances, but every time the gate is open they make a break for it. Their position within the family is not nearly as valuable.

What I am trying to say is that God made us, created a whole universe, with a planet earth for us to exist on. His purpose is so that we could have the chance to choose Him! Those that choose Him get what they have chosen – another life in an even better place with Him – Heaven. Those that do not choose Him, also get what they have chosen. Life without Him or His grace, or the influence of His believers. This place will be controlled by Satan. This will not be a pleasant place –  it will be  a literal hell.

luke warm and loving it

Posted in Sermons, Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 by rundalel

I was clicking around on the net, bored and wasting time….. I came across this…

It is HARD for us rich people to get into heaven…..

A Christian’s Righteousness Part 1

Posted in Sermons on February 16, 2010 by rundalel

This Sunday Pastor started a series within a series…. The continuing series is Cross Cultural Christianity – the emphasis that being a Christian means NOT fitting into the culture. This idea in itself is actually somewhat counter to the Christian upbringing I had, or at least the Christian upbringing I took out of what was given to me. Before I get to the sermon, let me elaborate on that a little more.
There is one Sunday night that I remember vividly that summarized the whole idea that I thought I could be a Christian and still be just like everyone else. This particular Sunday night our youth group travelled from our home church in Fountain Valley Ca (Fountain Valley Christian Church) to a larger church in Corona. I have no idea what church we went to or who the speaker was, but I remember that it was a big event and that the speaker was well known. The one thing I remember him saying was a story where the speaker related a conversation he had had with a roommate. In this conversation the roommate stated that he did not believe in Jesus. The speakers big argument was that the roommate’s was foolishness. The speaker reasoned that if he was right he would live a nice American Christian life, and get to go to heaven when he was done. If he was wrong, he still had a nice life and had lost nothing. If his roommate was right, he had a nice American life before he died, but if the roommate was wrong, the roommate would suffer eternally. The speaker actually argued that since you could be a Christian and live a nice life here in America, it is foolish not to!  That is not the Cross Cultural Chrsitianity our pastor is speaking of. That is not the Truth we spent so much time learning of in the Truth Project. Nice life or not, we cannot be Christian chameleons. We are not suppose to blend into the culture. As stated last week we are the salt that preserves it. We are the light that illuminates the darkness within it.

Well enough elaboration, on to this week’s sermon. The new series within the series is “A Christians Righteousness” part 1 –

The main text (continuing the Sermon on the Mount) is Mattew 5:17-20
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.  (from New International Version)

Christ taught about his relationship with the law. He did not come to abolish it, but to fulfill it. How do you fulfill a law? Jesus words are in reference not just to the commands of the old testament but to the old testament as a whole. The Old Testatment contains three types of teachings: Doctrinal Teaching, Predictive prophesy, Moral Law. Jesus lived the life that fulfilled the predictive prophesy of the old testament.

The doctrinal teachings of the old testament, the prophesy and even many of the laws themselves were set up pointing to the future. Jesus fulfilled MANY exact prophesies and even the symbolism in the commanded feasts ended up being ‘dress rehearsals’ fulfilled in the life and death of Christ – but all this would be a whole other sermon and pastor didn’t go there….

Pastor focused on the last verse, about our righteousness surpassing that of the Pharisees with a vivid visual display. Going back to the Garden of Eden, our first sin was to take that fruit off the tree. The basic choice is still the same. Leave the fruit on the tree and you say, “Okay God, You are in control. I will do what you say, just because You say so.”  Take the fruit from the tree and you say, “No, God, I am in control. I can handle everything myself.”

When Jesus says our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, he is saying that our righteousness must come from inner belief – inner desire to obey, inner desire to please God (It is amazing how this sermon and Scott’s last two dovetail together.)

The Pharisees righteousness was only external. They devised ways to seem to obey when they really were not. This is why Jesus taught…. You have heard it said “No murder” I say, no speaking hatred. You have heard it said “No adultery – I say, no lust” etc.  Jesus is more interested in the underlying belief – the underlying desire to obey – the underlying will to be under God’s control. Not outward appearances of obedience…..

Slave to Christ

Posted in Sermons on February 16, 2010 by rundalel

My goal is to post a summery or comment on each sermon I hear. Not to critique the sermon, per se, but to force myself to revisit what has been taught to me. With the writing comes further investigation, thought and prayer.

This post is on a sermon I heard at my church Christ’s Church of the Valley in Palmdale, Ca, on Saturday night, February 13, 2010. It is now Monday night and the intervening time has been quite hectic, so my memory is a bit foggy, but fortunately I took notes. The text was Galatians 1:10 through 24, or somewhere around 24 anyway…

Galatians 1:10-24: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased  to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles-only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me. (from New International Version)

First of all, this text makes a very interesting follow up to the speaker’s (Scott) last sermon. In his last sermon he mentioned the controversy amongst the early believers as to whether the non-jewish believers should be circumcised. Scott’s emphasis on this situation was that this circumcision was an outward act or marking on the person, but it in no way guaranteed any change on the man within. Seeing as how the ‘mark’ was on such a private place I had never considered it to be an outward sign. Scott pointed out, however, (and I had never heard this before) that outside the temple was a tent where visitors to the temple were checked to see if they had been circumcised. Even this very private matter became an outward public display.

So, the question is. Who am I trying to please? Am I here to please God or man? ( There may be a few who somehow are concerned with neither, but most people thrive on gaining the notariety of others.

The amazing thing is, that if we turn our back on acceptance from others. If   we choose to be a slave to Christ but we become His friend. Supporting scriptures for the necessity in pleasing God, rather than man include:

  1. John 5:39-44 – “I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?  (from New International Version)
  2. Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount about how God rewards that which is done in secret, including prayer and fasting.
  3. Jesus’ teaching that You cannot serve two masters.

What it comes down to is this: Belief in the “information” about whoJesus is will not save you. Believe that leads to the choice to become Jesus’ slave does.

Sermon on Mount #3 – Salt and Light

Posted in Sermons on February 8, 2010 by rundalel

Sunday – February 7th.
Today we started with a video clip from The Truth Project where people express their opinions on right and wrong. The was the intellectual engineer type, the liberal religious leader, a comedian, a nanny, a homeless person, a guy with conspicuous piercings, a tattoo guy, and a very bright young boy. It was interesting to see people’s value system for right and wrong but it was also interesting to see the people. What preconceived ideas do I have about each of them?

Pastor Morehouse reminded us that the sermon on the mount is about our lives as Christians. We are to be counter-cultural. Jesus came to serve and He said His followers are to do the same.

The next section of text, as we continue the Sermon on the Mount series, says that we are to be salt and light. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The Church should be influencing the world not vice-versa. We illuminate the darkness and provide preservative.

Light is good works – what we say and do gives glory to God especially our spoken testimony, When we see people we need to see them as the Father does. We need to engage the people around us – not avoid them.

The Samaritan woman at the well is an example. The apostles likely walked past her as they headed to town and she was headed to the well. She was not a person upstanding Jewish men would speak with. She had at least 3 strikes against. She was a Samaritan – Jews despised Samaritans. She was a woman and men in that culture considered women of a lower class. The fact that she was headed to the well at noon meant she was an outast even with her peers. She was at the bottom of the social ladder of her time but Jesus ‘saw’ her. Jesus engaged her in a discussion. Jesus worked through her to reach out to her entire city.

We need to engage culture 1 person at a time. We need to SEE people.

See Matt 25:21-26