IS IT I LORD?
Trust ♔ Jesus!
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness,have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
This week(end), people all over the world are gathering together to celebrate the birth, death, and triumphant resurrection of a king! Albeit, a king of a very different order than all the kingdoms of this world.
One who serves rather than is served, and who taught His followers, or disciples, to do the same.
And this is only the first of many paradoxes of His kingdom.
Sometimes, as I reflect on the scenery of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and I carefully consider the army arriving to take him,
I think about all that he suffered as he was betrayed, abused, ridiculed, mocked, unjustly punished, forced to face these trials (both literally and figuratively,) only to then undergo the crowning horrendous climax of crucifixion.
And then I think of how Satan and the demonic world must’ve looked on with such delight.
“Aha!” they must’ve exclaimed, “we’ve got him now!” “crush him!” “kill him!”
And as it turns out, in the paradoxical wisdom of divine redemption, the very thing these demonic forces have been inspiring humanity to do in rebellion against God since the ‘first’ garden, was the very necessary act that God intended to use to inaugurate the Kingdom of His blessed Son, Jesus the Christ!
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Yet, if we’re not careful, we may begin to observe this celebration again and again as the Jewish nation observed the Passover feast continually each year, all the while completely oblivious to the significance of all that it represents for us in Christ…
The paradox wisdom of Divine redemption for hopeless sinners!
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.
1 Corinthians 1:30
Let that thought rest over your minds this week as we celebrate our victorious King who conquered death by *raising from the grave,* and allow that resurrection power that now lives in us to give us great assurance of victory over sin, and a restored hope for a glorious future with Him that indeed has already begun!
Trust ♔ Jesus!
Under the guise of tolerance, we have entered into an age where it’s no longer acceptable to tell someone that their beliefs about God are wrong.
But I write to you to carefully consider the facts before you decide to jump on the ‘tolerance’ bandwagon:
To be told that ‘you cannot tell another person that their beliefs about God are wrong’, is itself, an idea that is being imposed.
Saying ‘you can’t tell people that their beliefs about God are wrong’ – IS a belief about the nature of God. It assumes an objective truth about God, and then forces others to submit to it’s professed ‘truth’, all the while denouncing those who do the same – just from the opposing side of the very same coin.
It’s a ‘belief’ that nothing can truly be known about God, and therefore truth is relative.
When this false ideology is confronted with objective truth and refuses to budge, while using objective truth statements to defend its position, it should be exposed for what it truly is…
Hypocrisy? Yes. But on what basis?
And at that, an idolatry of the worst kind – Idolatry of one’s own illogical self opinions.
The Apostle Paul recognized that this deceitful idol of the heart lay at the root of all denials of objective truth when he penned the letter to the church in Rome saying:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being (including self) and birds and animals* and *reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. *They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things (including their own opinions) rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because human beings were created to worship, by choosing not to worship the One true God, we inevitably end up worshipping something else by default.
Which means that no ‘gray area’ exists.
People who place their highest importance upon, or get their value from, let’s say, – their children – have made them their idols.
The same applies to money, sex, knowledge, our spouses, our jobs, our possessions, and of course, *our opinions.*
If the only reason why we refrain from truthful considerations of contrary beliefs, is because ‘we choose to’, then we make it absolutely clear – we hold our own opinions in highest esteem.
But the reason our loving God commanded us “not to make any idols or ‘gods’ for ourselves,” (Exodus 20:3-4) was not to deprive us of anything of value. Rather, it is because He knows that our idols will eventually let us down, and He loves us too much to leave us to find that out the hard way.
It is only the truth that sets us free and allows us to function in the way we were created to function, preserving our peace, sustaining our joy, and teaching us the wisdom to love God and each other, well.
Which is why I continually implore you,
Trust ♔ Jesus!
Then the Lord said to him (Moses), “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.”
Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous – it had become as white as snow.
“Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.
Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths?
Often whenever we hear stories of famous evangelists who boldly proclaimed the Gospel in a place where it had never been before, and the awesome success they had at bringing others to the Lord, we hear this sentiment spoken like “I wish I could do what they did but I don’t think I could ever speak like that!”
But the truth is, we absolutely can do it, we just desire ‘not’ to do it.
The same speech we use every day to voice our interests, our fears, our hopes, and our joys, is the very same speech that we require to proclaim the testimony of the risen Christ.
So why don’t we do it then?
I guess it might be for the same reasons why Moses undermined his own abilities to God: He simply didn’t want to do it.
Now you might be thinking “wait, how do you know that Moses was doing that?”
Well in addition to the numerous excuses that he tried to use to get out of going, it’s actually the testimony of Steven the first martyr that told me for certain:
Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
You see, God, already foreseeing that He would use Moses to deliver His people before the foundations of the earth, was careful to ensure that Moses was brought up in Pharaoh’s courts with the best education available at the time – the Egyptians – so that he would be eloquent and powerful in speech which is important if you’re going to be communicating with two and half million people later on in life.
God also made provision to direct Moses to Midian where he would then enter into the school of brokenness for the next 40 years of his life.
In all this, Moses was now prepared for the job!… Umm… Except…
He didn’t care to go.
It was not that he wasn’t trained, nor that he wasn’t qualified, nor that he wasn’t chosen. Alas, freewill does play a part in God’s divine choosing in that we still have the ability to choose whether or not we will go.
Now, we know that he eventually ‘does’ go, and also that despite God knowing that all of Moses’ apprehensions to go were merely based in his lack of desire ‘to’ go, but have you ever considered how different history would be today if he never ‘did’ go?
It shows us how the decisions of one person’s life can make such a difference to the deliverance of many people if we are willing to be obedient, and also God’s great patience with us in view of the hope for the greater good of mankind.
But it also helps us to understand the depth of disobedience in the sin of complacency due to fear or any other reason that we will one day answer for, in never attending to the call of God in ‘going’ for the sake of others.
Jesus has already instructed us:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
You and I have been chosen, called, washed, redeemed and entrusted with the only Gospel of reconciliation between a Holy Loving God and a fallen world.
The value of what that truly means to you and I will be demonstrated and seen by the value we now place in seeing others come to know the sweet salvation found in no other name, but Christ!
So I encourage you,
Trust ♔ Jesus!
Although most of you may not ne able to personally relate in the same way to this story, I trust that there will be some example in your own life where you can at least identify with the sentiment.
One day, while I was in highschool, as we laughed and I carried on in the joys of adolescence with my friends, the laughter came to an abrupt stop when two police officers entered the classroom.
They quietly spoke to the teacher, who then signalled for me to come to the hallway.
The class grew silent and my heart began to sink into my stomach as I got up from my seat and walked toward the hallway door.
So many crimes I had long forgotten about and thought I had gotten away with came rushing back to my thoughts immediately. Something had been uncovered, and the police were now there to place me under arrest.
I remember vividly and intimately what it felt like to be escorted out of the school through its hallways, into the back seat of a police car and down to the station.
If this picture only serves as a glimpse of something that could be exceedingly worst by comparison, I use it to earnestly implore you to consider very carefully and make wise decisions concerning the paths you are currently travelling upon.
In Scripture, Jesus spoke far more frequently about hell than he ever did about heaven.
And contrary to how some teach the subject to lambaste the unbelieving world, most of Jesus’s teachings regarding hell were actually directed towards… Believers.
One of which I’d like to share with you today:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. (the Jews)
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ (an invitation to the entire world)
So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
This man without a wedding robe represents someone who pretends to accept the invitation to God’s covenant, but then refuses the invitation by their actions.
There is only one appropriate and acceptable covering that God has provided for His guests:
“the blood of the Lamb!”
But it is only applied to our lives by true repentance, (a complete turning away from sin) and through faith in Christ.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus says to the church in Sardis:
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. *The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white.* I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Lord, if there is any way in us that is unpleasing to your sight, give us wisdom, give us clarity, remove the blinding spiritual fog of sin from our eyes, and strengthen us by your Spirit to put it to death!
We long to be clothes in your perfection. If there’s anyone who feels like they’re struggling alone, raise up your servant to walk beside them. Pour out encouragement and every grace into their hearts that welcomes them to come to you and be washed.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, Majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages,now and forevermore!
Trust ♔ Jesus!
“Sur, sous, dans, devant
Sur, sous, dans, devant
À côté de!”
In case any of you is wondering ‘what in the world kind of song is that?’ Well, it’s a song that I learned in my grade three French class.
The thing I found so interesting about this song that compelled me to share it with you today was that I learned it over 25 years ago! I don’t practice it. Nor do I have occasion or reason to sing it, yet there it is, somehow perfectly preserved in my memory over such a long period of time.
We didnt sing the song often even in school from what I recall. Nor were we challenged in any way to memorize the lyrics. It just seems that with hearing it the few times that I did repeatedly, it just stuck.
But through this example, I think we can begin to see something spectacular about using mere men in the preservation and inerrancy of Scripture.
In ancient times, Jewish boys were actually ‘taught and trained’ to memorize and recite the entire Torah, from seven – and sometimes even as young as five – years old, in preparation for their Bar Mitzvah (boy) or Bat Mitzvah (girl). The Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a ceremony which in Judaism now pronounces you a man or woman in the religious sense. And it usually takes place at their 12th or 13th birthday.
That means that if every copy of the Torah were somehow changed or altered or even destroyed, a Jewish child at the age of thirteen years old was competent to recite the entire document by memory for it to be recreated from scratch.
But even though they were capable of doing so, it would still be considered ‘amateur’ when compared to the high standards that the ancient Scribes had to meet in order to make a copy of these ancient manuscripts to ensure their accuracy.
In fact, tradition tells us that when making a copy of the manuscripts of the Torah, the scribes had to stop every so often, select the same word in both copies, and count from the beginning of the document to that word.
If they were even one number off, they would destroy the entire document and have to start again. And that was in an era when resources were not nearly as abundant as they are today. Needless to say, the copying of the Word of God was held in very high esteem.
And if that wasnt enough, since they passed down their teachings in a community in oral tradition, this meant that an entire community would be involved in receiving God’s Word so that they could all verify the facts of it if there was ever a dispute concerning it. This left very little place for error.
And just to completely obliterate any final foolish contentions one may still try to make against the preservation of Scripture, we also know that the Pharisees and Sadducees – who were considered the top ranking Jewish authority of those days – each had either their arm, forehead, or both wrapped with something called the “Teffilin” or “phylacteries,” each containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. This means that members of the community were ‘physically’ carrying around the Scriptures with them daily.
As you can see, this community was very serious about their preservation of God’s Word.
This is why although you may hear it often said in the unbelieving world that “the Scriptures have been changed” or “the Bible has been altered,” those comments usually come from the uninformed public who are completely oblivious to the history and ancient Jewish customs and therefore vocalizing meaningless noise with their tongues; men of corrupt minds and deprived of the truth, they only seek to lead many astray.
No one who has actually searched these things out for themselves could ever come to such a conclusion, and it’s also why I can submit to you today with all certainty that the Bible is the *inerrant* Word of God!
The Apostle Paul wrote to his young protège Timothy to encourage him knowing firsthand that even if you have the truth, people will still find some way to deny it. In the same Spirit this morning, let us receive encouragement this morning to continue to press into our labours, knowing with certainty that our labours are not in vain!
For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
2 Timothy 1:7-14
Trust ♔ Jesus!
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Step one – read and put into practice the counsel found in God’s Word to your life.
Step two – no matter how hard you try, how educated you become, or how theologically sound your ‘doctrines’ may be,, you cannot move onto step two until you’ve thoroughly completed step one.