Tuesday, November 9, 2010

He is the Great Shakespeare of Our Play

Exhortation for November 7, 2010 at Grace Church
(Sermon Today – Joy Because of a Sovereign God – Ecc 3:1-15)

Are you catching on yet? Have you put up the white flag of surrender seeking for terms of peace with the biblical reality that trips us up on a daily basis? I am talking about the truth that God is absolutely sovereign and, well…we are not. God’s sovereignty means that He is in control; absolutely in control. You thought you were the final determining factor on what you wore today…think again.  He is the Great Shakespeare of our play called life (under the sun). We are the Hamlets, Romeo and Juliets who have little…well, there I did it again…no determining factor on how the play will go. This is not to say that we don’t make choices, experience consequences for our choices, and are held responsible for them—the Great Author made it that way when he spoke us into existence (by the way, we exist right now because He keeps speaking us into existence – isn’t that a humbling and mind-twisting thought?). There is a lot of mystery here, but the Bible is very clear on this – God is sovereign. Sometimes we think we have things planned out smoothly…but a smooth road will only be a reality if God declares it and if He doesn't, potholes are the least of our problems.

This means that as you come to this place on the Lord’s Day this morning you come to approach the one who holds your life (and every second of it) in His hands. You come to Him as dependant creatures to a God who amazingly has made a covenant with you. Shakespeare never did this with Hamlet. He does not control our lives because he gets a sadistic kick out of seeing us squirm and groan…He does so because He is God. He is a God who is Love and Wisdom and He is intent on pouring out maximum (We can’t fathom His maximum) joy on His creatures. He is love and the fact that we are here this morning is a sign of His love. We are here because He made it that way. We are here and He intends to serve us…the actors in His Drama. He plans to pour out His grace and love to this piece of artwork that He is sculpting; the poem that He is writing--called the Church. How will He do this? He does this weekly by declaring to us that our sins are forgiven because of Christ; by accepting our gifts and offerings, our prayers and our praise; by feeding us with His Word through means of reading, sermon, songs and communion. This is not a morning of shallow or meaningless ritual, this is one of God’s means of shaping us into the people He intends to shape us. And in shaping us He is shaping a new humanity in the likeness of Christ the new Adam. So let us repent of our unworthy expectations and our haughty unbelief and rejoice in His forgiveness and commitment to us. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Call to Repentance - Eight Things of We Should Repent

From last Sunday:

As one pastor blogged this week, this is the time when we hear and see a lot of scary stuff. We see it and we hear it from people in all types of mediums and of course I am talking about the campaigns of the midterm elections. It is common for Christians to react to all this hype with pessimistic dismay, fearful panic or frustrated indifference. Truly, our nation is in a mess and it is never helpful to declare peace, when there is no peace. But God’s people are always called to respond to sin and sins’ consequences with repentance and faith. So we must begin by pointing the finger at the person we see every morning in the bathroom mirror (and I am not talking about your spouse). Yes, I think we should cast our votes this Tuesday and do so with informed minds, strong conviction, humble spirits, and thankful hearts. We surely can enter this weekend with a prayerful anticipation or hope that certain results will move more inline with biblical wisdom and common sense for the good of the nation. However, any true reformation of government will only come as a result of a biblical reformation of the people of that government which will only happen through the reformation of the church…The BODY who has been given the GOOD NEWS of the new KING of the World…the church is the preservative entity that is designed by Christ to be salt and light in a dark world.
The political and governmental mess we read about in the Star Tribune or watch on Foxnews is our mess…and not because we voted for them (which we all have to some degree). It is our mess because we as the people of God have lost our saltiness and our brightness is dimmer than my kid’s nightlight. We are guilty of worshipping the same idols as the rest of our country, we relate to our spouses and kids with similar abdication or unfaithfulness as the world does, we are reckless and lazy in our finances, we are cowards in declaring the Gospel, we grumble and complain because our blessings from God are not wrapped with glittery paper (we can’t afford a 42 in TV so we had to settle for 32 inches), we act with selfish “what’s best for me” motives, and we quickly run to government, politics or something else as our Savior or security.

So what do we do? We repent. We confess our sins to a gracious God and believe the Gospel. Jesus came to save sinners. He did not come to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. Let us begin by taking responsibility for our nations woes by confessing our own guilt as a church beginning as individuals and families. Let us confess our sin of abdication of salt and light and look to the One who gives us His Spirit and restores His people to be THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD in obedience to King Jesus. He is LORD. Let us not forget this. All authority has been given HIM and he has brought us together to disciple the nations…including our own. It begins by humble confession and repentance of our own sin…and hopeful joy in the One who declared forgiveness when rose from the dead!

Here are eight things to begin with:

1. Spiritual Adultery
Definition: The giving of one’s devotion to something or someone other than God. 

2. Marital Unfaithfulness
Definition: The lack of Christ-centered fidelity to your spouse in mind, words and actions.  

3. Child Sacrifice to False Gods
Definition: The surrendering up of our children to numerous dangers through a selfish abdication of our role as spiritual shepherds and disciplers. 

4. Scandalous Stewardship
Definition: The irresponsible, lazy and reckless use of our talents (money, skills, time, etc) leading to a burden of indebtedness rather than fruitfulness. 

5. Shameful Ingratitude
Definition: The inexcusable forgetfulness of God’s constant blessings manifested in pride or discontent rather thank thankful faith. 

6. Gospel Cowardice
Definition: The lack of joy and confidence in Biblical Truth (in general) and the Gospel (in particular) leading to fearful, embarrassed and lazy closet-Christians.

7. Self-centered Individualism
Definition: The “what is best for me” first mindset with little or no concern for who it affects others that you are really connected to – family, church, community, nation.  

8. Idolatrous Trust
Definition: The reliance on anything other than God to be your savior.