Archive for the month “September, 2011”

Pondering the Passages: Romans 8:28-39

This Week’s Passage and Memory Verse (in red): 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My pondering this week is going to focus on our memory verse – verse 28. Definitely one of the premier promises in the Bible and DEFINITELY worth committing to memory.

And – This is a connecting word. It is looking back on the last verses. This great promise assumes that there are going to be difficult times where there will be much groaning in this life. The promise of this verse is still another reason that we groan in the midst of crisis and chaos and don’t grumble.

we know – Paul’s confidence comes in knowing! He is not just wishing or thinking maybe God works in and through the tough times… he KNOWS! There is absolutely no doubt in his mind. How does he know? Because he has seen it play out in his own life over and over again. He has been beaten and jailed and persecuted and through it all God has used him to be an instrument of grace and mercy and forgiveness. People’s lives have been transformed. Churches have been planted. His personal testimony attests to the fact that God works. Therefore he knows!

that in all things – Not some things. Not most things. But ALL things. God’s sovereignty reaches in to every nook and cranny of our lives. Those areas where you might think that God doesn’t care – He cares. That situation that you wonder if God is even aware of – He notices and is alert to every detail. All things means… ALL things!

God works – This is really good news. It is not my job to make everything work out well nor is it my job to fix all the messes that I make or that others make around me. It is God’s job to make everything make sense.

for the good – Truth: God works for the good! He doesn’t make everything good. Bad things happen… and yet somehow God redeems even the bad things and brings good out of them. The bad stuff is a result of living in a fallen, sinful world. But it takes an amazing God to bring good even out of the bad.

of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose – This incredible promise  is conditional. It is not for just anybody. It is not for those who could care less about God. It is not for those who are pursuing their own selfish purposes. God promises to redeem the bad stuff that happens only for those who love Him and live their lives for Him. He promises to make sense out of life when life doesn’t make sense if our passion is for His glory and His greatness and not our own.

So if you love God no matter what is going on in your life right now just know this: God is up to something, and that something will be for your good… and for His glory!

I’m just sayin’!

Next Week’s Passage: Hebrews 3:12-14
Next Week’s Memory Verse: Hebrews 3:13

Pondering the Passages: Romans 8:18-27

This Week’s Passage and Memory Verse (in red):  18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Here again, as in many of the passages that we have explored this year, we see strong encouragement to look toward That Day and keep it firmly fixed in our minds. Having such confidence in this hope as believers would be the only way that we could say with Paul: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” I mean, after all, who likes to suffer. But the deal is that we all have to experience suffering to some degree or another. That’s life! It is the sure confidence of our hope that enables us to deal with it courageously and profitably.  3 things pop out to me in this passage  that seem to be key to developing and then maintaining this sure confidence:

Eager expectation – I can’t wait until December. In fact I am counting down the days. There are exactly, as of this writing, 85 days until I fly to India to see my daughter. I miss her. And even though I talk to her several times a week it is not the same as seeing her and being with her. I have an eager expectation of that day almost 3 months from now. And that is to some degree what my hope is (or at least should be) for seeing the Lord. Even though I talk with Him daily it is not the same as being with Him. For believers there ought to be an eagerness as we await That Day. It will help as we experience those long, lingering days when life on earth is not so great. Something to look forward to always makes the present easier to deal with.

Groaning not grumbling – I’m not one of those people who thinks that you just have to put on a happy face even when life is hard. Because sometimes life is very hard. I am however one of those people who believes that nothing good is gained by grumbling and having a woe is me attitude. There is a huge difference between groaning and grumbling. Groaning recognizes that suffering is a direct result of the Fall. Groaning longs for That Day when all will be made right again. Groaning expresses itself more as righteous anger than as selfish hurt. Groaning is filled with hope for the future rather than bitterness over the past. Be a groaner, not a grumbler.

The Spirit’s help – The Gospel of John refers to the Spirit as the Paraclete – the One who is called alongside us to comfort us and to counsel us – to help us through the dark and sometimes dreary days of life. Jesus did not leave us to fend for ourselves when He returned to Heaven. He left us His very presence in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does not dwell at the church where we attend; He dwells inside us. We don’t have to shout to get His attention; we need just whisper. He does not begrudge His help; He helps willingly and eagerly anyone who expresses genuine neediness and weakness. And He helps us even when we do not know that He is helping us.

It seems like only yesterday that I was graduating from high school. And yet that was over 35 years ago. That day in all reality was just not that long ago. And That Day, the Day of His appearing, the Day that gives us reason to joyfully hope and persevere through this life – in reality is just not that far away. So, in the meantime, wait eagerly, groan with a passionate longing, and let the Spirit of God help you along the way. It will help you to redeem all the days of your life that are left.

I’m just sayin’!

Next Week’s Passage: Romans 8:28-39
Next Week’s Memory Verse: Romans 8:28

Pondering the Passages: Romans 8:9-17

This Week’s Passage and Memory Verse (in red): 9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

MetLife has a motto that this passage reminds me of…

7 times in these verses Paul uses the word “if.” I want to focus my attention on verse 13: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Paul is talking here about the “if ” in LIFE. John Owen, in his classic book The Mortification of Sin, made this comment about this verse:

“…the choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin…Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

Mortify – now there’s a word that you do not hear a lot these days. So what does it mean? Merriam-Webster defines it like this: “to destroy the strength, vitality, or functioning of “.

So as believers we are in a daily battle to destroy the strength and vitality of sin. Paul says that if we don’t do this we will die, i.e. we will be dead spiritually. But if we do battle sin and destroy it’s vitality then we will live. So how do we fight sin – in a practical sense? John MacArthur offers up these 5 suggestions as a way to start;

1) Recognize the presence of sin – not just in the world, but in YOU! Admit that you have a  problem. Sin dwells within you and it MUST be fought. It must be killed…. or it will be killing you little by little.

2) Fix your heart on God – This is one of the primary reasons that you should be strongly connected to a community of believers. We need each other in order to keep our hearts fixed on God. Without the regular encouragement from the preaching of the Word and corporate worship and small group fellowship our hearts are prone to wander.

3) Meditate on the Word of God – The Psalmist says, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Jesus did battle against sin on the Mount of Temptation by wielding the Word of God as mighty weapon. This is why I love this whole pondering passages thing – because it MAKES me think intentionally on the Word. This is a good thing.

4) Commune with God in diligent watchful prayer – John Owen again wrote, “He who pleads with God for the remission of sin also pleads with his own heart to detest it.” Don’t just go through the religious exercise of prayer but learn to pray diligently. Learn to pray watchfully.

5) Cultivate obedience to the Word – As you read the Word and as you meditate on the Word and as you pray the Word – take it a step further and implement the Word in strategic practical ways. As James says, don’t just be hearers of the Word. Be doers of the Word.

Pretty good suggestions I think. And IF we take them to heart and IF we help each other practice them and IF we learn how to fight sin then we will undoubtedly take the IF out of LIFE and live boldly for the glory of God.

I’m just sayin’!

Next Week’s Passage: Romans 8:18-27

Next Week’s Memory Verse: Romans 8:18

Pondering the Passages: Romans 8:1-8

This Week’s Passage and Memory Verse (in red):  1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

This week and the next three we are going to look at all of Roman Chapter 8. One of the studliest chapters in the New Testament.

There are 3 words that scream out at me from this passage. I’m sure there are other words that scream at you from this incredible text. But my 3 words are “set me free” in verse 2.

I’ve been set free from an enslavement to sin – It’s not that I don’t sin it’s that I don’t have to sin. The power of sin has been broken and I am free not to sin.

I’ve been set free from a fear of death – Because my dad died so young I used to fear death. Now I can stare it down because I know that the best is yet to come.

I’ve been set free from life without purpose – I’m not just aimlessly drifting through life trying to make it from start to finish. My life has purpose as I follow God’s directives and choose to live according to His ways.

I’ve been set free from joyless living – Because of what Christ has accomplished for me on the cross I can live each day with “the joy of the Lord as my strength.” Even in difficulty and desperation there is still joy because He walks with me.

I’ve been set free from meaningless relationships – When you are free in Christ relationships take on a whole new meaning. Instead of trying to take what you can you try to give what you can. Instead of using others, you love others and seek to help them discover how to experience freedom and joy in Christ.

I’ve been set free from oppressive worry – I have never really been a worrier. But I know people who are worriers and it can be very oppressive. Better I think to to be a warrior than a worrier. In Christ we have an arsenal at our disposal to combat worry so that we can experience the peace that freedom in Christ brings.

Speaking of warriors…

For some reason this passage also brings to mind one of the GREAT movie scenes of all time – William Wallace’s climactic last words in Braveheart that spurred a nation to mobilize against their enemy. (I’ve posted the short version here. You can go to YouTube if you want to see the 2-3 minutes leading up to this.)

With freedom as our birthright we can do battle against the enemies that want to destroy our faith and demolish the foundation that we have in Christ. Let “FREEDOM” be the clarion call that drives you this week to live out the gospel in real life.

I’m just sayin’!

Next Week’s Passage: Romans 8:9-17
Next Week’s Memory Verse: Romans 8:14

2 Peter 1:3-4 Message Notes

I mentioned at the end of my message that I would post my notes and the quote that I used at the end. Here they are… such as they are. Kind of rough. If you were not there they may not make much sense. If you were there they may trigger you to remember.

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Have you experienced His divine power in your life? Rescued, forgive, peace. I see evidence of God’s power all around this room.

Where do you get this divine power from? Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation… It takes power to raise the dead to life. You were dead. Maybe you ARE dead.

Is there a way to tell if you have experienced His divine power in your life? Zoe (vitality, fullness of life) and godliness (Piper: godliness means a love for the things of God and a walk in the ways of God.)

When Peter says that we have everything that we need – what does he mean by everything? Greek – EVERYTHING!.False teachers..trying to add on.

If we have everything, why do we seek to find satisfaction by filling our lives with other things?  Jeremiah 2:13 :

 13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Game we play with youth group. Fill up a tub that leaks.

If God is not enough – then all the stuff that you add won’t matter. Broken Cisterns

How does Peter say we are to find the life that is truly life? Knowledge of Him. Not $$, fame, drugs, success, relationships.

How is it that we attain knowledge of Him? Ex Linda and I. Dating… engaged (knew her enough to want to marry her). Learned how much I didn’t know her when we got married. But… know her a LOT better – because of conversations, shared experiences, doing life together.

How do you know that you are one of the ones that God has called? Have you responded to His call? Lazerus!

Why is it significant that God called us “by His own glory and goodness?” Respond to God’s call because of who He is and what we know about Him. Glory. Goodness. 2 examples: 1) Girls – you get a call from a guy…  Tori.

What did Peter think about God’s Word and His promises to us? Great and precious

What is your attitude toward the Word of God? Psalm 19, Psalm 119 – or read your verses for the day, done your duty, now expect God to do His.

How do you develop this kind of love for God’s Word that Peter had and that David had? Understand a few things:

1) A Living Word (Heb 4:12) God’s Word to you – not just a 2000+ year old manuscript.

2) A Life-changing Word (2 Tim 3:15-16) Able to make you wise for salvation and for sanctification.

How does God’s Word enable us to become more like Him (participate in the divine nature)?  Teaches, encourages, convicts. “Sin will keep you from God’s Word OR God’s Word will keep you from sin.”

How has the world been corrupted?

What are some of the evil desires of your heart?

Where do these evil desires come from?

Piper sums up this section with some practical thoughts…

“Notice that corruption comes by lust which means that the battle against corruption is fought on the field of our desires or passions. Sin makes its attack by holding out promises to us for our happiness… And sin will always win the battle unless we have the luscious carrot of God’s promises hanging clearly in front of our noses. Unless we enter our day armed with one or two precious and very great promises we will be utterly vulnerable to temptation. But if we hold before our eyes the astonishing things God has promised us now and in the life to come, his divine power will be present and we will escape corruption and be conformed to the image of his Son. Therefore I urge you: search this book for the promises of God and hang them like a carrot in front of your eyes so that they lure you away from sin and toward the likeness of God.”

Bonus Illustration:

Corrie ten Boom and her family had a special secret that helped them get through their difficult days under Hitler’s regime. The family members would quietly ask each other, “What do you have in your shoe, Mama?” “What do you have in your shoe, Daddy? “What do you have in your shoe, Betsy?” The answer—precious portions of Scripture that they had torn from their Bible. They were literally standing on the promises of God!

Pondering the Passages: 2 Peter 1:3-4

This Weeks Passage and Memory Verse (in red): 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

So this will be a bit different this week. Rather than making comments on the passage as I usually do, instead I am going to pose a bunch of questions that popped out in my mind as I was thinking through the text. I do have lots of thoughts  about these questions and I WILL share them – but not in this context. It just so happens that I will be preaching this Sunday at our 9:45 Exalt Service and I will preach from this passage. So put your own thoughts into these questions and then on Sunday you can compare notes with me. (I feel pretty confident that I won’t be able to tackle ALL these on Sunday but I’ll have fun trying.)

From verse 3:

Have you experienced His divine power in your life?

Where do you get this divine power from?

Is there a way to tell if you have experienced His divine power in your life?

When Peter says that we have everything that we need – what does he mean by everything?

If we have everything, why do we seek to find satisfaction by filling our lives with other things?

How does Peter say we are to find the life that is truly life?

How is it that we attain knowledge of Him?

How do you know that you are one of the ones that God has called?

Why is it significant that God called us “by His own glory and goodness?”

From verse 4:

What did Peter think about God’s Word and His promises to us?

What is your attitude toward the Word of God?

How does God’s Word enable us to become more like Him (participate in the divine nature)?

How has the world been corrupted?

What are some of the evil desires of your heart?

Where do these evil desires come from?

And then as a bonus, here is a short list of some of my favorite “great and precious promises”:

  • 1 John 2:25
  • Acts 2:38-39
  • Romans 8:28
  • 1 John 1:9
  • Jeremiah 29:11
  • Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Philippians 4:6-7
  • Isaiah 40:30-31
  • John 15:7
  • Matthew 11:28-30
  • 2 Timothy 4:8
  • Revelation 21:3-4
  • Proverbs 37:4-5

Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend. And here’s another promise to chew on… “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

I’m just sayin’!

Next Weeks Passage: Roman 8:1-8
Next Week’s Memory Verse: Romans 8:1

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