The Dog Returns 10 Jan 2021

The Dog Returns
We made through the tough sections of Genesis 19. We saw some things that are disturbing and make us uncomfortable, but that’s the Bible. Hopefully, you also saw that chapter 19 is a bold statement on sin and sexuality. The fall of Sodom and Gomorrah and the disgrace of Lot stand as a condemning statement against humanity.

And we have seen a split, a contrast between Abraham and Lot. These two men, both righteous according to God’s word, have taken two different paths. Lot had chosen to live in a place surrounded by evil and he paid the consequences. Abraham, on the other hand, has chosen to walk before the Lord. Now, as we have seen, he is not a perfect human being. He is a hero of the faith, but all of the heroes are real people, that struggled with real temptations, and, on occasion, they stumbled. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t a child of God. It doesn’t mean they lost their salvation. It just means that they hadn’t arrived yet. Like Paul says in Philippians he was not perfect but he was pressing on to make perfection and the resurrection from the dead his.

Genesis 20 through 23 contain some of the struggles that Abraham has as he tries to live before God. Some of the struggles are outside of his control. Some of the struggles come from God’s direct command. And some of the struggles, like the one we’ll see today come from Abraham’s own doing. Even though we see Abraham riding the rollercoaster of faith, God shows himself in this narrative as one that is always faithful. He has made a covenant and he will see it fulfilled. And even though what Abraham does deserve punishment, God shows himself merciful and withholds punishment and graciously give Abraham blessings.

I’ve chosen to break the passage down into four parts for you. In verses 1 and 2 we find Abraham deceiving Abimelech and we’ll talk about how we are repeat offenders before God. In verses 3 through 7, we have the appearance of the Lord to Abimelech in a dream, which reminds us that God intervenes on our behalf. Third, Abraham is confronted by Abimelech and we see the uncomfortable but welcome truth that God mercifully exposes our sin. Finally, we’ll see the intervention of Abraham for Abimelech and we’ll marvel at how God graciously uses us.

The Aftermath of Sin

The Aftermath of Sin 03 Jan 2021.

Back in chapter 18, we saw God revealing his plan to Abraham to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great sin and wickedness. Abraham through the leading of God prayed for the wicked cities. Abraham began to fulfill the promise that he would be a blessing to the nations. He stands as a type of Christ as he intercedes on behalf of the people who are completely lost in their sin and have sunk to a debased mind. He pleaded for mercy if there were as few as 10 righteous people in the city.

In chapter 19, we witnessed a graphic example of the sin that the cities were involved in. The actions of the men of the city were just one sin amongst a sea of sins that demonstrated to us that God does not bring his judgment arbitrarily. God is a just judge and only brings judgment upon those who deserve it. Sodom would stand as an eternal symbol of God’s eternal judgment against sin. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zephaniah, Paul, Jude, and John all use Sodom as a standard of depravity and an example of judgment. This is why this story has been recorded for us in Scripture. It was a warning to all those that reject God, reject Jesus, that a worse destiny awaits.

Now we come to the end of Genesis chapter 19 and another disturbing passage. Most pastors these days have resorted to preaching topically random passages of Scripture. Some do this out of the fear of man because they want to please the people. Some do it out of ignorance because they do not know how to handle the text. Others will never preach from this passage because it doesn’t fit their “vision” or agenda. Other preachers skip this topic because they don’t think their people can handle it. You will never hear them preach on this passage. I read that even some bible commentators have skipped over this section. This is one of the beauties and the difficulties of preaching expositionally through a book of the Bible. We are forced to look at and consider some things that we would otherwise skip over. Yet, this is the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness. Rest assured if you learn from this lesson you will be closer to being complete, equipped for every good work.

This passage breaks down into three main parts. First is the setting of this story in verse 30 where we will consider the messes we make. The second section is verses 31-35 where we read the story of Lot and his daughters play out and we’ll consider how we open the door for sin. Finally, in verses 36 -38 we see the commentary on the story and we’ll think about how we, through this story, are instructed and encouraged.

The Millennium: The First Days of Forever – Lesson 1

The Millennium: The First Days of Forever – Lesson 1
Rev 20:1-6 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Avoid the Snare

Avoid the Snare

As we come to the close of 2020 we could say a lot about it. We could talk about the virus. We could talk about the election. We could talk about the riots. We could talk about economics. We could talk about race relations and gender confusion. We could talk about the exodus of people from our church and the church as a whole. A lot of topics have been forced into the public arena this year. Whether we liked it or not, we are in the conversation.

As I was thinking about all the things, I wondered if there was a common theme running behind them all. The Bible tells us that we know the schemes of the devil. So I wondered, what old scheme has he used to stir up all this trouble? Is there a common evil amid all these issues? Is there a language that is being used? There has been.If you look at the secular media and, unfortunately, many Christian sources as well, you will find one idea being peddled. It’s fear. Not the fear of God, not rational fear of danger but fear of man. It’s the fear of man. But you already knew that, right? Think about it for a moment and I think you’ll agree with me. What has been the underlying ideology that has driven most of the issues and evil today? The fear of man.

All the issues that have been brought to the forefront this year have all been driven by the fear of man. Intimidation is everywhere. Side with us, say that we are right, accept what we believe and doing is morally good or else! Say Black Lives Matter or we will punch you in the face. Wear a mask or we’ll yell at you and run you out of the store, or even arrest you. If you vote for this candidate you are the problem and will be dealt with. If you meet as a church then you are unloving and setting a bad example. If you don’t believe that there are 70+ genders and that a person can change from him to her to they whenever they choose regardless of their biology then you are hateful and phobic and you deserved to be silenced. We’ve all felt it this year. There is no wonder why domestic abuse and suicide numbers are up this year. Not only has the normal been changed but we are swimming in a flood of the fear of man. A culture can only go down this path for so long. Either it will implode or a different answer will have to come and replace the fear of man.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Of course, Scripture has something to say about this. This is not new and the solution to the problem is older than the problem. On one side we have the fear of man on the other trusting in the Lord. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were to trust in the Lord. They walked with him and talked with him. There was trust. But that trust was destroyed by a lie and an act of rebellion and in its place came the fear of man and the sinful pair sewed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness from each other. The fear of man would be passed down through the ages but the cure to that disease has been passed on as well.

Christmas Eve Service 2020

Christmas Eve Service
Readings based on a pamphlet by JC Ryle.

Ephesians 3:14-15 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.”

Let us spend some time this evening thinking about these words. They are words that ought to stir some feelings in our minds at any time and especially at Christmas. No one on earth is not a member of some “family”. The poorest as well as the richest can tell you something of “his family.”

Tonight, we will speak of family and hope that you will take notice. We do not want to take away anything from your Christmas celebrations, or even to lessen the joy of your Christmas gatherings. We only want to remind you of a better family, a heavenly one, and of the great benefits that membership in this family conveys. We want you to be a part of that family when its gathering shall come at last – a gathering without separation, or sorrow, or tears.

Good News of Great Joy

Good News of Great Joy
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
The announcement of the birth of Jesus to shepherds was an announcement of great joy. The long-awaited savior had come. This was not a day of fear. This was not a day for grieving and sadness but a day of joy. The savior had finally come.
Was there a reason for fear? We’ll the immediate circumstance of these shepherds would say yes. The shepherds were out in the fields in the darkness of night and all of a sudden, a glowing man appears. That would be enough to strike fear in the strongest of hearts. But once you realize what is standing before, your mind must begin to race. When an angel appears shining with the glory of the Lord, who knows what to expect next. Are they coming in judgment? Are you dead and they are coming to escort you to your eternal destiny? Why is this happening? They probably had the same reaction as Mary when Gabriel visited her. “She was greatly troubled at the saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Mary and the shepherds did not know that the fullness of time had come. She was unaware that this time was sacred to the Lord her God. It was not a time to mourn or weep or to be afraid. It was a time to celebrate. It was a time of joy. The Prince of Peace had come. The embodiment of the joy of the Lord had stepped into the world.
These ideas of joy and peace were not new concepts at the time of the birth of Christ. The Old Testament is full of calls to joy. The Psalms for instance repeatedly call for rejoicing in and unto the Lord. Joy because of what God has done was not a new announcement from the angels, but a call to rekindle the joy that should have been in the hearts of God’s people from the beginning.
One of the more memorable calls to joy in the Old Testament is found in the book of Nehemiah. I realize that Nehemiah is not a typical advent text, which is unfortunate, because there are many parallels. The joy that would enter the hearts of the shepherds on that night and the people in Nehemiah’s day, was the same joy that has entered the hearts of God’s children since he told Adam and Eve that the offspring of the woman would bruise the serpents head. Let’s read Nehemiah 8:9-10 and let us consider four questions about joy. What is joy? What about grief? What is the response of joy? How is the joy of the Lord our strength?

In Sin and Error Pining

The Blessing of the Nations - In Sin and Error Pining

In Sin and Error Pining

Over the past several weeks we’ve been looking into this appearance of the Lord to Abraham. It started with God changing Abraham’s and Sarah’s names. God gave Abraham the sign of circumcision to strengthen his faith. Then God gave Abraham the promise that in a year he would have a child from Sarah.

In chapter 18, a little time has passed and the Lord appears to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre. The Lord repeats that in a year’s time Sarah would have a baby. By now, Abraham is believing. He is trusting in God’s promises and his plan to bring about the promise but, Sarah has an issue. She’s not quite there yet. And so God challenges her. He confronts her doubt. He instructs her.

God then turned to Abraham and tells him that he is going to let him in on his plan. God tells him he’s going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because their sin is so great. Abraham follows the lead, the prompting of God and intercedes for the wicked. Abraham begins to fulfill the promise that he would be the blessing to the nations. He prays according to God’s great mercy that God would spare the cities if 10 righteous persons were living there. Of course, God would spare if there were ten. The problem is, as we will see today, there weren’t 10 righteous. But Abraham was correct in his intercession.

And so that brings us to chapter 19. I hadn’t planned on preaching about Sodom and Gomorrah right before Christmas. It’s not a typical advent text. But as I began to think about it and talk with the elders, the idea began to grow on us, on me. John 1:4-5 came to mind. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” As I said last week, there is a contrast made by God here. The light of new life, the promised child of the covenant, is contrasted to the death and depravity found in the city of Man. Though the darkness is great and is widespread the light shall not be overcome.

As we think about chapter 19, I want to point out three things about God that are on display. In verses 1-14 we find that God is merciful and just. In verses 15-22 we see God as a savior. And finally, in 23-29, we find that God is the perfect judge.