Shanna – Learning to Rely on Jesus

Sermon 7/24/16:

to download right click here: 7-24-16 – Shanna – Learning to Rely on Jesus

Revelation 1:4-7

John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

The Us-ness of Our Salvation

Sermon

to download, right click here: 7-10-16 Message – The Us-ness of our Salvation

Bruce’s Sermon Notes:

THE US-NESS OF OUR SALVATION

IS THERE ANY BENEFIT OF GOING TO CHURCH? CAN WE WORSHIP JUST AS WELL ALONE?

IS IT JUST MATTER OF OBEYING THE LORD TO GO CHURCH? IS IT JUST A RELIGIOUS DUTY?

Thinking in Terms of “We”  Judaism throughout the centuries has declared that “life is with people.” Religion, in their thinking, is inherently communal. Whereas Christians seek out solitude for drawing close to God, many Jewish prayers can only be recited in the presence of a minyan (min-YAHN), a group that contains at least ten adult Jewish men.  In his article “You Can’t Be Holy Alone,” Ismar Schorsch explains the premise behind this practice: when people gather to worship God, his presence among them sanctifies the place.

JESUS – Matthew 18:19-20 If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

WHY?

ADAM ALONE:  Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him…’    

MEN ALONE – MORE HEART ATTACKS, CANCER, MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, TROUBLE WITH LAW

YET SO MUCH DEEPER THAN THAT

“help meet” – Hebrew words ezer kinagado, which is literally rendered as a helper in front of him. Kinagado comes from the root word neged, which literally means to be before or ahead of something. When used to modify the word ezer, which means a helper, it is a helper who goes before you, who paves the way for you, makes your journey easier.

What is the destination that this ezer is leading man to? Within the context of this passage it could only be a helper that is going to lead man to his final destination with God. Thus the words “help meet” really describe why the woman was created. She was created to help man meet God.

A woman is meant to be a helper to man to aid him in spiritual understanding – they are able to give men a natural understanding of something in the supernatural.

The word in Hebrew for alone is bad. That is not the origin of our English word for bad, it is just a nice little coincidence that the Hebrew word for alone is bad. In this case it was bad for Adam to be alone. There is such a gulf between the natural and the supernatural. Adam was a physical being, and God was a spiritual being. This created a little problem in understanding the relationship God desired from Adam. How could God as a spiritual being explain love, intimacy, tenderness, gentleness, protectiveness, nurturing, caring, passion, and longing to a natural being?

When God created the world He said it was good. Good in Hebrew is tov, which means to be in harmony with something. When He created the world it was in harmony with Him. When He created the birds, animals, and plant life they were all in harmony with Him. Yet, when He created man, He did not declare man as good. He also created woman, and then man and woman were good or in harmony with Him.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:18, 24

GOD CREATED US LIKE HIM – FOR ONENESS – TO BE IN COMMUNITY

1ST RESULT FALL – DEATH = SEPARATION,ISOLATION – NOT THE WAY GOD CREATED

BREAK IN COMMUNITY, FAMILY – Genesis 3:16 (NLT)  Then he said to the woman, “…In pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

AND SOON FOLLOWING: CAIN & ABEL – JEALOUSY, ANGER, DEATH – wars, abuse, brokenness, disconnect – death!


BUT: JESUS – WHAT DID JESUS DO?

Ephesians 2:1-19 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins … sons of disobedience… and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,

7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity… that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household…

SALVATON – RECONCILIATION – REPAIR THE BREAK = RECREATING DIVINE COMMUNITY

WE NEED EACH OTHER

SALVATION = RESCUE FROM DEATH, GEHENNA OF SOUL SEPARATION

WHAT JESUS PRAYED FOR:

John 17 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

20 “I ask… on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me… so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

SALVATION = RECONCILIATION = RESTORATION OF COMMUNITY

HUMILITY = REALIZING OUR DEEP NEED FOR EACH OTHER

Who are those who are the poor in spirit, and how do they possess the kingdom of heaven?

The word “poor” is ani in Hebrew, and is also often translated “afflicted,” and often used to refer to groups of people like widows and orphans who were dependent on charity to survive. A person who is “poor in spirit” sees himself as needy and helpless without God, and yearns desperately for God’s presence in his life. Like a recovering addict, he can only survive each day by leaning on God. The opposite type of person is someone who is “great of spirit” who is bold and self-reliant, who has no need of anyone’s help, especially not God’s. He is one who feels that he is “the captain of his fate, the master of his soul.”

God looks with favor on those who know they are inadequate to run their own lives.

JESUS – the Kingdom of Heaven IS OF SUCH – THOSE WALKING HUMBLY, DEPENDANT GOD

OUR PROBLEM – ‘I CAN DO IT MYSELF’ = PRIDE

FRIENDSHIP – is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our tresspasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

 

The overwhelming importance of the command to “love your neighbor” echoes throughout the New Testament. Paul declared that the whole of the Law is fulfilled by obeying this one command (Galatians 5:15). Peter also exhorted his followers to “above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8). And in John’s letters, he wrote that “this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another” (1 John 3:11). James called the command to love your neighbor the “royal law found in Scripture” (James 2:8).  Jesus’ first Jewish followers put this command at the top of their marching orders, devoting themselves to fellowship, communal prayer, and breaking bread together (Acts 2:42–47). The emphasis on community was one of the outstanding characteristics of the Jerusalem church, responsible for its magnetic witness and strength during persecution.  – also remained active in the larger community, joining the rest of the Jewish people in daily worship at the Temple. They didn’t denounce the world around them and cloister tightly with like-minded friends. As a result, they enjoyed the favor of outsiders and daily welcomed new believers.  Even though the early Jerusalem church emphasized community, within only a few centuries Gentiles brought into the church an emphasis on individual piety and private devotion. By AD 400, many Christians believed that the hermit’s utter solitude was the path to God.

Modern Christians, especially American Protestants, still maintain a strong sense of “Jesus and me” individualism, emphasizing one’s “personal relationship with Christ” as the essence of faith.

By contrast, Judaism throughout the centuries has declared that “life is with people.” Religion, in their thinking, is inherently communal. Whereas Christians seek out solitude for drawing close to God, many Jewish prayers can only be recited in the presence of a minyan (min-YAHN), a group that contains at least ten adult Jewish men.

Jewish prayer – typically recited communally. “Heal us and we shall be healed, help us and we shall be helped, for you are our joy. Grant full healing for all our wounds…   these ancient lines that were exclusively framed in terms of “we” and “us” and “our people” (as is the Lord’s Prayer, of course).

Christian worship service – focus MOST songS was on God and me: “I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice” … “Just as I am, without one plea” … “Here I come to worship, here I come to bow down.”

worshiping side by side – pretending to be all alone.

 

MY HEART – THIS ONE MY GREATEST CONCERNS FOR CHURCH

Words Words Words – Hunger & Thirst

Sermon from 7-3-16

to download, right click here: Hunger & Thirst

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls  Only to be with you.

But I still haven’t found What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found What I’m looking for.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
Bleed into one. But yes, I’m still running.

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found  What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found  What I’m looking for.
THERE IS A HUNGER LONGING DEEP INSIDE – ALL HAVE IT –

“Unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the Scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.   Matthew 5:20

MATTHEW 16:6 – ‘Beware, and take heed of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees;’

The Idea of Hasidut
Jesus actually may have had an idea in mind that was in the culture at that time. He appears to be focusing on the idea of hasidut – (hah-see-DOOT), a rabbinic term which is often translated “piety.”  It means to walk closely with God and be utterly obedient to him. A hasid (ha-SEED), a pious person, eagerly asks the question, “What more can I do to please you?” The idea is that they don’t focus on the minimum requirements, but on going beyond the rules to serve God.
The Danger of Trying to Be a Hasid
Throughout the centuries there have been movements in Judaism and in Christianity that have tried to draw closer to God by becoming fastidious about observance and in keeping away from sin. While the goal is admirable, whenever a person tries to live this way there are many potential traps. One can easily become a legalist, or prideful, or hypocritical, or elitist.

Wayne Jacobsen, In Season

“My dad used to say that most people only get enough of God to be miserable.
The longer I live, the more I am convinced he’s right. If you only think of God as a meddlesome deity who demands that you follow his rules to live in his good graces, you’re probably one of those people. If the thought of having God with you during the day causes your stomach to churn with feelings of failure and inadequacy, you are probably one of those people. And if your Christian experience is nothing more than following a set of rituals, rules, and obligations that you think makes him happy, then you’re also probably one of those people.
Most people didn’t start out that way. They will tell you of their early days of faith when God first captured their hearts. At the beginning, they knew they were loved and they began each day with fresh excitement and anticipation.
Soon, others began to teach them what it meant to be a good Christian, and they began the long, slow descent into the rules and regulations of a religion called Christianity. The religion eventually erased their joy. They became content merely to plod along, unconsciously becoming obedient to human obligations instead of faithful to Jesus.
This is not the life Jesus offered his followers. ”

JESUS GAVE US AN AMAZING PROMISE – WE SEE IN HIS VERY FIRST WORDS WHEN HE BEGAN HIS MINISTRY:
Matthew 5:6  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

How happy are those who, in their hungerings longings, seek after rightness, for they will be satisfying those inner cravings.

YOU ARE GOING TO HUNGER & THIRST – EMOTIONALLY, RELATIONALLY, SPRITUALLY, WAY MADE – JUST LIKE PHYSICAL HUNGER, THIRST – IS THERE, CANNOT MAKE SELF STOP GETTING HUNGRY
BUT IN OUR HUNGERING – WHAT DO WE FILL OURSELVES WITH?

ARE WE SATISIED OR NOT?

CAN WE EVER BE TRULY, DEEPLY SAISFIED?  COMPLETELY, EVERY FIBER?  PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, SPRITUALLY?
TRULY SATISFIED – WHOLE PERSON ISSUE – IN THE LONGINGS NOT JUST OF OUR FLESH – BUT OUR HEART LONGINGS?

Psalm 107:9 For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Words Words Words – Poor and Meek (humility)

Sermon 6/19/16

right click here to download: 6-19-16 Words Words Words – Meekness Humility

Sermon Notes:

The weirdest people in the world?

Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world’s top journals based on samples drawn entirely from

Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies.

 

HOW WEIRD ARE YOU?

If one were to make a comparison of the culture traits of the Bible with those of all the existing cultures of today…one would find that in certain respects the Bible is surprisingly closer to many of them than to the technological culture of the western world. It is this “western” culture that is the aberrant one in the world. And it is precisely in the western world, and in the growing number of persons in other parts of the world, that the Scriptures have seemingly the least ready acceptance.**

 

SO – HOW EFFECT US HEARING JESUS? WHEN HEAR JESUS SAY:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is [THEY ARE?] the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:3,5     DO WE GET IT? SEE IT?

 

The Poor in Spirit   by Lois Tverberg

Who are those who are the poor in spirit, and how do they possess the kingdom of heaven? It helps a lot to know the idioms of Jesus’ time and his references to the scriptures. The phrase “poor in spirit” is an allusion to Isaiah 66:2: This is the one I esteem: he who is humble (poor, ani) and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

 

The word “poor” is ani in Hebrew, and is also often translated “afflicted,” and often used to refer to groups of people like widows and orphans who were dependent on charity to survive. A person who is “poor in spirit” sees himself as needy and helpless without God, and yearns desperately for God’s presence in his life. Like a recovering addict, he can only survive each day by leaning on God. The opposite type of person is someone who is “great of spirit” who is bold and self-reliant, who has no need of anyone’s help, especially not God’s. He is one who feels that he is “the captain of his fate, the master of his soul.”

 

PICTURE – God looks with favor on those who know they are inadequate to run their own lives,

JESUS – the Kingdom of Heaven IS OF SUCH – THOSE WALKING HUMBLY, DEPENDANT GOD

WE PROBLEM – I CAN DO IT MYSELF – PRIDE

 

The “kingdom of Heaven” is the same thing as the “kingdom of God” — it is not being used to refer to heaven after we die. Rather, it describes God’s reign over the lives of people here on earth.

 

A person who is poor in spirit is one who sees his need for God’s reign over his life, and submits to his ways. God’s kingdom consists of exactly this kind of people — those who are humble and needy enough to yearn after him.

 

 

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth   by Lois Tverberg

All of the beatitude sayings are very Hebraic, and somewhat difficult for Western Christians to grasp. The saying above, that the “meek shall inherit the earth” is widely quoted, but barely understood.

 

HELPS KNOW – a quote from Psalm 37:11. In that verse the Hebrew word for “meek” is anav. It is also translated humble, afflicted or poor. Moses was called the most “anav” (humble) man on earth. It is often used to describe the people who called out to God for help in their difficulty, instead of being aggressive in fighting for their own way.

 

The theme of Psalm 37 is to remind us that when we are wronged, we shouldn’t try to get revenge, but to trust in the fact that God will someday set the world straight. It says,

 

… Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land… the meek (anavim) will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. (Psalm 37:7-11)

 

“inherit the land” (yirshu aretz, to inherit or possess the land/earth).

That phrase is very significant, having first come up when God made the great promise to Abraham that he would “give him this land to possess/inherit” (Genesis 15:7). Then, later in Deuteronomy, more than a dozen times, Moses tells the people that only by being obedient would they be able to remain in the land:

 

Deuteronomy 8:1 “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers.”

 

EXAMPLE: MOSES –

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. Numbers 12:3

 

Exodus 33:1 The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites… but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

Stiff necked – severe harsh – hard –

NOT GO WITHIN YOU – inward part, midst

Exodus 34:6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,a forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”

8 And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. 9And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, WITHIN US! for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
MAKE US KIND – COMPASSIONATE, MEEK – CAN POSSESS, BE BLESSED IN LAND

Words Words Words – Worship

Sermon 6/12/16

to download right click here:  6-12-16 Words Words Words – Worship

Sermon Notes:

OUR WESTERNIZED THEOLOGY GIVEN US A VIEW BACK THROUGH HISTORY ONE-DIMENSIONAL

Two thousand years of Christian interpretation cast in radically different philosophical assumptions than was most of the Old Testament. We often ‘hear’ later church definitions when reading the Old Testament rather than hearing the Hebrew terms for what they originally communicated.

LENS – ROMANIZED, CATHOLICISED, WESTERN EUROPEAN, AMERICANIZED

WE TALK ABOUT GOD AS OUR FATHER, AND WE BEING SONS DAUGHTERS, BRIDE – YET OUR THEOLOGY HAS PUT A FILTER OVER OUR EYES SO WE SEE GOD AS JUDGE, TERMS SEEN COURTROOM LENS

PAST FEW WEEKS WE HAVE LOOKED AT THE PICTURE THAT COMES TO MIND WITHNTHESE WORDS:

BE PERFECT: the English term “perfect” is often used to translate a Hebrew term (tamam). However, while the term “perfect” is an attribute or quality term in English, the Hebrew word tamam is a relational term, meaning suitable or mature or appropriate. Hebrew had no direct equivalent of the English word “perfect.”

ALSO – IN THE BIBLE IT IS AN INDICATIVE – A PROMISE

ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS HAVED TURNED INTO IMPERATIVE – A COMMAND!

BEING JUDGED: Deuteronomy 16:18-20 “You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment… Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

PURPOSE OF JUDGES – ESTABLISH GOOD BOUNDARIES, RESOLVE CONFLICTS, MAKE COMMUNITY WORK

SETTING THE BOUNDARIES – HEALTHY BOUNDARIES = GOOD RELATIONSHIPS

GO THIS FAR AND NO FARTHER – SETTING YOUR SPACE – PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, RELATIONALLY – YOUR AREA OF FREEDOM, RESPONSIBILITY

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness… Matthew 6:33

 

Our understanding of the word “righteousness” (tzedakah – tzeh-dah-KAH) doesn’t come near to understanding the wide, rich meanings of the idea in Hebrew, and sometimes confuses us when we read the Scripture. Our traditional understanding of this idea is correct performance of regulations and legal perfection. When we hear the “righteousness of God” we cringe, thinking that God is angry with us when we cannot measure up.

 

The phrase, tzedkot Adonai (righteous acts of God) in Jewish versions of the Bible is translated as “kindnesses,” “abundant benevolences,” “gracious acts,” and “gracious deliverances.” This is because the word tzedakah means more than legal correctness – it refers to covenantal faithfulness, often resulting in rescuing those in distress and showing mercy to sinners.

 

RELATIONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS VS LEGAL RIGHTEOUSNESS

Everything else to be said about God is a description of this relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. When we talk about the love of God, we are talking about the relationship of the Father, Son and Spirit. When we talk about the holiness of God, we are trying to describe the wholeness and purity and integrity, the beauty, of the fellowship of the Trinity. When we talk about the righteousness of God, we are talking about the sheer rightness of their relationship.

RELATIONAL VS LEGAL VIEW


THIS WEEK – LET’S LOOK AT ANOTHER WORD – WORSHIP

Two Views on the Meanings of Hebrew Letters

THE HEBREW LANGUAGE HAS a unique structure which is unmatched by other languages. In other languages words represent agreed-upon conventions that attach no special meaning to the letters. In Hebrew each letter has a unique meaning which is conferred upon the word which is involved in the buildup of the word’s meaning.

Jesus made some reference to the Hebrew letters when He said that not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.

 

Take for example the word for worship in Hebrew which is (( shachah). Hebrew is read from right to left so the first letter of the word is Shin – which has traditionally carried the meaning of passion, fire, or a fiery passion. 36 Thus worship involves a fiery passion between God and man. The second letter is Chet which represents a joining with God in a secret special place or a bridal chamber. 37 The final letter in the word (shachah) is the Hei which represents the divine presence or the presence of God. 38 Thus, you have a built in commentary on the word for worship or (shachah) which tells you that when you worship you are sharing a fiery passion with God and He with you through a joining with Him in a secret place, like a bridal chamber to experience His presence.

 

Song of Songs 4:9 (KJV) Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one GLANCE of thine eyes…

(Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast wounded my heart with one of thy eyes)

 

“Thou hast ravished my heart;” in Hebrew, this is one of the most beautiful, and at the same time most heartbreaking words that I have every run across in my 40 years of studying Biblical Hebrew. You see, it is only one word in Hebrew – livabethini. This comes from the root word levav, which means heart, but is in a Piel perfect form. The first thing to note is that this is one of the rare cases where the double Beth is used. The Beth represents the heart. A double Beth represents God’s heart and our hearts joined in a love relationship. It is a picture of two hearts opening up to each other and becoming equally as vulnerable. Do you want to understand God’s heart? Look at your own, it was created in His image. Is your heart not wounded when someone you care about just ignores you? Do you not grieve when someone you look forward to being with calls five minutes before your time together and says, “Oh, sorry, I am too busy for you right now?” What do we do to God’s heart when we ignore

So what is Solomon saying when he says that his beloved has “ravished his heart” or livabethini?” He is saying that just one glance from his beloved and he has hopelessly fallen in love with her. She has stripped him of that hard shell that he built around his heart to protect it and he has made himself vulnerable. He is a king with the most powerful security force in the world surrounding him to protect him, yet one little peasant woman, with a mere look at him causes him to open his heart and say, “I am giving you the ability to break this heart, you have my heart in your hands, please be careful with it. There is no one to protect my heart from you, only you can protect it.” If we are the bride of Christ and He is our bridegroom, does it not follow that He is also saying to us, “You have ravished my heart?” If He is saying that, he is saying: “I may be God, a towering giant to you that seems invulnerable, but I am stripping my bark off the tree, I am exposing my vulnerabilities to you, I am giving you my heart. You have the ability to deeply wound my heart, no one but you can protect it, please be gentle with my heart.”

Words, Words, Words 5 – God’s Kind of Righteousness

Sermon 6-5-16

right click to download: 6-5-16 Words Words Words – Gods Kind of Righteousness

Martin’s struggle to find peace with God – Young Brother Martin fully dedicated himself to monastic life, the effort to do good works to please God… Yet peace with God escaped him. He devoted himself to fasts, flagellations, long hours in prayer and pilgrimages, and constant confession. The more he tried to do for God, it seemed, the more aware he became of his sinfulness.

MARTIN described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair. He said, “I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul.”

WHAT CAUSED THIS? – ONE PHRASE – “Paul in the Epistle to the Romans 1. “In it the righteousness of God is revealed” – stood in my way. For I hated that word “righteousness of God,” which, according to all the teachers, I had been taught to understand regarding the formal righteousness, as they call it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.”

“Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the Decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!” Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience.”

 HE HAD BEEN TAUGHT “A demonic view of God that pervaded western theology.”  (Thomas Talbott)

MARTIN BEEN TAUGHT SEE GOD THROUGH A LENS – AS HE READ SCRIPTURE – HE PUT ON THESE GLASSES THAT CAUSED HIM TO SEE GOD AS A HEARTLESS COURTROOM JUDGE, IMPASSIVE, IMMOVABLE, JUST  (MEANING – ‘PUNITIVE’)

Romanizing the Jesus Movement: A juridical view of salvation began to dominate, conceived more in categories of retributive Roman law than the relational context of a Torah given in grace. Y/H/W/H, Israel’s gracious God, became re-imaged in the popular mind after the likeness of Greco-Roman deities whose anger had to be appeased.

THIS WAS ONLY VIEW MARTIN WAS EVER TAUGHT – A VIEW OF GOD THAT WAS WORSE THAN THE PHARISEES

The terror which Luther experienced at these times was a fear that “God had turned his back on him,” abandoning him “to suffer the pains of hell.” Feeling “alone in the universe,” Luther “doubted his own faith, his own mission, and the goodness of God – doubts which, because they verged on blasphemy, drove him deeper and deeper” into despair. His prayers met a “wall of indifferent silence.”

He experienced heart palpitations, crying spells and profuse sweating. He was convinced that he would die soon and go straight to hell. “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.’” He “despised himself and murmured against God.” Indeed, his friend Philip Melanchthon said that the terrors afflicting Luther became so severe that he almost died.

BUT:

“At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.'” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith.

Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scripture from memory… And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word “righteousness of God.” Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise.

With joy, Luther now believed and taught that salvation is a gift of God’s grace, received by faith and trust in God’s promise to forgive sins for the sake of Christ’s death on the cross. This, he believed was God’s work from beginning to end.


God’s Kind of Righteousness

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. – Matthew 6:33

Our understanding of the word “righteousness” (tzedakah – tzeh-dah-KAH) doesn’t come near to understanding the wide, rich meanings of the idea in Hebrew, and sometimes confuses us when we read the Scripture. Our traditional understanding of this idea is correct performance of regulations and legal perfection. When we hear the “righteousness of God” we cringe, thinking that God is angry with us when we cannot measure up.

The phrase, tzedkot Adonai (righteous acts of God) in Jewish versions of the Bible is translated as “kindnesses,” “abundant benevolences,” “gracious acts,” and “gracious deliverances.” This is because the word tzedakah means more than just legal correctness – it refers to covenantal faithfulness, often resulting in rescuing those in distress and showing mercy to sinners.

King David “Judge me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness… (Psa. 35:24). He is actually appealing to God’s mercy to those under his covenant, rather than his legal judgments.

RELATIONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS VS LEGAL RIGHTEOUSNESS

“To believe in the Trinity means that we believe that God is a relational being, and always has been, and always will be. The doctrine of the Trinity means that relationship, that fellowship, that togetherness and sharing, that self-giving and other-centeredness are not afterthoughts with God, but the deepest truth about the being of God.”

The Bible tells us that the Father loves the Son and that the Son loves the Father and that they share all things in the love and unchained fellowship of the Spirit. Nothing that could be said about God is more fundamental than this mutual love and this fellowship. God exists as Father, Son and Spirit in a rich and glorious and overflowing fellowship of acceptance and delight and passion and love.

Everything else to be said about God is a variation on this theme, a description of this relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. When we talk about the love of God, we are talking about the relationship of the Father, Son and Spirit. When we talk about the holiness of God, we are trying to describe the wholeness and purity and integrity, the beauty, of the fellowship of the Trinity. When we talk about the righteousness of God, we are talking about the sheer rightness of their relationship.”

(excerpts from C. Baxter Kruger)

THIS LENS EFFECTS WAY WE SEE EVERY SCRIPTURE AS MARTIN LUTHER DESCRIBED

EXAMPLE – The Fear of God

COULD IT MEAN ‘THE FEAR FROM GOD’? – FEARING RIGHTLY – THE FEAR OF HARMING ANOTHER

Jesus and Plucking the Eye

Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!  And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away… And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. Matthew 18:7-9

“I WOULD RATHER CUT OFF MY HAND RATHER THAN DO SERIOUS HARM TO MY FAMILY”

 

Words, Words, Words – Remembering

Sermon from Sunday, May 29th, 2016

to download, right click this link:  5-29-16 Words Words Words Remembering

 

Sermon notes:

REMEMBERING & FORGETTING

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

WHAT DOES ‘MEMORIAL’ MEAN?

  • preserving the memory of a person or thing; commemorative: memorial services.
  • of or relating to the memory.

Why is it important to remember?

George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

All people are living histories – communities speak languages that are inherited from the past. They live in societies with complex cultures, traditions and religions that have not been created on the spur of the moment. People use technologies that they have not themselves invented. And each individual is born with a personal variant of an inherited genetic template, known as the genome, which has evolved during the entire life-span of the human species.

Historians are often asked: Why on earth does it matter what happened long ago? The answer is that History is inescapable. It studies the past and the legacies of the past in the present. Far from being a ‘dead’ subject, it connects things through time and encourages its students to take a long view of such connections.

ONE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THE PAST – IT’S NOT JUST THE PAST – IT IS HERE TODAY

“Understanding the linkages between past and present is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the condition of being human. It is not just ‘useful’, it is essential.”

REMEMBERING IS ESSENTIAL TO UNDERSTANDING WHO WE ARE, WHY WE ARE HERE

  1. UNDERSTAND SOCIETY The events and people that shaped who we are today are incredibly important.
  2. UNDERSTAND CHANGE – what causes change.   The events leading up to both World Wars help us understand how a small event can set off a large series of changes.
  3. PROVIDES SENSE OF IDENTITY where did you come from. What blood runs in your veins? Is there any interesting family history? the history of your family is very important to a sense of identity.
  4. PRESERVES STORIES – It is important we hear the stories of those before us – have to say. We need to hear their stories, preserve them, and pass them down to those after us.
  5. INSPIRE US – Hearing the stories of those before us can inspire us to take action in our own lives. Knowing that my ancestors came to this country and worked their hardest for a better life, inspires me to work my hardest of provide for my future family. Our past can have a huge impact on our future
  6. TEACH US WARNING SIGNS – In the Jewish community, we pray that another Holocaust will never happen to any group of people every again. But because of our suffering, we have learned the warning signs leading up to such a horror. – fascism, communism, NAZI-ISM – ALL SOUNDED GOOD TO NATIONS – UNTIL PLAYED OUT IN HISTORY – SEE RESULTS

 

REMEMBER!   GOD COMMANDS IT: Exodus 20:8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Numbers 15:38-40 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. 39 “It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes… so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God.

HE KNOWS WE ARE SO GOOD AT FORGETTING

WHAT DOES GOD MEAN WHEN SAYS ‘REMEMBER’?

HE SHOWS US…  But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. Genesis 8:1

Later in Genesis we find another example: Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb.” (30:22)

 

NOT JUST RECALLED TO MIND – the idea in this passage is that God acted upon his promise to Noah

the verb “remember” focuses on the action, not the mental activity. God paid attention to Rachel’s needs, listened to her prayer, and answered it. Here, “remember” means “to intervene,” focusing on what God did, not what God was thinking about.

In English, our definition of the word “remember” focuses entirely on the idea of recalling memories and bringing ideas into our thoughts. To “forget” is to fail to bring a certain memory to mind. Both words are concerned entirely with mental activity, whether or not information is present.

But the Hebrew verb zakhar has a much wider definition than just “remember.” It includes both remembering and the actions that are taken because of remembering. It often implies that a person did a favor for someone, helped them, or was faithful to a promise or covenant.

 

THERE IS A WHOLE LIST HEBREW WORDS – ENGLISH JUST MENTAL ACTIVITY – HAVE A GREATER MEANING HEBREW – HEAR, REMEMBER, KNOW, LOVE, FORGIVE, EVEN FORGET

Part of why this seems strange to us is because of our Western perspective. Many of our Greek cultural ancestors, including Plato, considered the mental world all-important and physical reality worthless.

As a result, our culture tends to exalt our intellect as critical and discount our actions. Some of us Christians even see actions as “dead works” that are irrelevant, even opposed to faith.

 

GOD REMEMBERS = ACTION TOWARDS

Genesis 9:14-16 “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, 15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

 

ALSO – FORGET – CAN GOD FORGET?

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” JEREMIAH 31:34

some Bible passages are confusing –   how can God, in his infinite intellect, forget something?

we pray, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us?” Does God really expect us to forgive and to forget the sins of others? ESPECIALLY IF THEY REALLY HURT YOU?

A Christian woman was haunted by terrible memories of being raped – she had tried to forgive – but she was plagued by the idea that God would not forgive her sins unless she forgave and forgot the sins committed against her. How could she ever forget?

 

The Hebrew words for forget, shakach and nashah are also broad in scope.

Knowing that Hebrew often focuses on action rather than on mental state, we can now see how God can “forget” people, but yet not forget. Or how he can choose not to “remember” sins, and yet not erase them from his memory. God chooses to put them aside, to ignore them and not bring them up again.

 

HUSBAND & WIFE – HAVE DO THIS!   to put the offense out of mind even though the memory doesn’t goes away. Out of love, you simply choose not to ever act in revenge for the sin.

 

FORGIVING = ACTION OF RELEASING

 

JUST LIKE THE WORD ‘LOVE’ – WITH HUMAN DEFINITIONS FALL VERY SHORT

IT IS THE SAME WITH ‘REMEMBERING’ & ‘FORGIVING’

Matthew 18:21-27 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

GOD SAYS – I HEAR YOU, I REMEMBER YOU, I KNOW YOU, I LOVE YOU, I FORGIVE YOU

OH TO GET THE FULNESS OF ALL HE MEANS!

DON’T SETTLE FOR OUR SHALLOW UNDERSTANDINGS