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  • Jun 11 / 2017
  • Comments Off on The Force of Forgiveness (Luke 23:34)
Pastor Brian, Sermons, Subject Studies

The Force of Forgiveness (Luke 23:34)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The Force of Forgiveness

Luke 23:34 (Pastor Brian)

The Crucifixion of Jesus

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ 31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


Key verse = 34 “Father forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

Some thoughts from a book I picked up in England in Feb. The ministry is very helpful at helping people be restored. “Forgiveness: God’s Master Key” – focusing on this Scripture. “Pray the most powerful prayer on earth” (Father, forgive them).

Forgiveness is a master key.

As I came by SongCheon-Dong (where I work), I saw a phrase “I am the Key” on a building. Hmmm, what kind of building was this? It was on a nurse’s home (or educational center for nurses). That’s probably their motto. This was confirmation for my message today.

Jesus is the Way, Truth, Life, Door, also the Key.

Peter Horrobin points out that there are many rooms in a large house, with many doors and many locks and many keys. But a Master Key unlocks any of the doors in the building.

  • The life we live (have lived so far) is like this building.
    1. Each room contains the memories of important events in life (like the marriage of Pastor Heo’s son and other similar events). Those doors are wide open. We go in, enjoy them, walk out again.
    2. But other doors are closed – yet we can open them whenever we wish (because there is no pain associated with them).
    3. Other doors are closed and LOCKED. What’s behind them is too painful to open and look at. Here are some of their names: Rejection, Accidents, Divorce, Betrayal, Abuse, Pain, Trauma, etc.

Many people go through life with unresolved pain in their lives – caused by others or also by ourselves, our own sins. Sometimes, we don’t know how to resolve these situations. But as the years go by, it gets harder and harder to live with this pain. Some people have so many locked doors that there is very little space left in which to live.

  • They close the doors and expect that this will help them to live, but sometimes, there is so much hidden trauma, anger, and pain, that they become less and less like the people God intends them to be.
  • Sometimes the mess seeps out from under the door – everyone else can see the mess (esp those we are in relationships with), but people may ignore it, or try to clean it up from the outside only.

The only efficient way to deal with this problem is to unlock the door, go in, clean up the mess. Sometimes, this is too much for them alone. But Jesus is the Master Key. He can open even the most stubborn locked door. But he does require our help to unlock it. He wants to go in and clean it up with us. He wants us to cooperate with him.

This golden key is the most powerful prayer on earth – it’s life transforming.

There are many examples of people who were hurt severely but dared to pray this prayer and were miraculously changed.

Example 1

Frieda from Rwanda – she + 15 of her family members were killed. Given the choice of how to die. Do you want a bullet? But, they couldn’t afford the bullet. So, they chose a machete, and Frieda chose a blow to the back of the head. Yet, she wasn’t dead. Someone came along later and rescued her.

Following that trauma, she became a Christian and saw that Jesus said we must forgive them that persecute us. She went to prison and found the man who killed her father and forgave him. This gave tremendous relief.

Yet, even though she’d done this, she still had pain in her head and neck and terrible nightmares. So, at a Christian conference, she prayed to forgive them all and release them. God granted her this and released her also from the pain and the nightmares.

This kind of freedom is also available for us.

Even though we don’t go through these kinds of circumstances every day, we also need this kind of forgiveness. We need to let go. The letting go is through forgiveness.

Example 2

Hanna – almost suicide – but prayed the prayer and forgave her sexually abusive family. There was a struggle to forgive, but when she came through, she was set free.

You see, when we cannot or do not forgive, we are still UNDER THE CONTROL of THAT other person who hurt us. But when we forgive, we release that person and become free from the pain.

Example 3

Jesus is another example of this.

In Luke 23, we can see the different agents of persecution that were happening in Jesus’ life.

  1. Religious leaders – jealous and threatened by his popularity, power, authority (the common people heard Jesus gladly)
  2. Judas – thought 30 pieces of silver was enough to betray him
  3. Pilate – weak-willed governor of Judea – tried to wash his hands of it all – but gave in to the insistence of the Jewish leaders
  4. Herod – powerless Jewish king – second opinion, but ridiculed and mocked him
  5. Teachers of the Law and Preachers – mocked him
  6. The crowds – visiting for a holiday, egged on to crucify him
  7. Barabbas – released instead of Jesus (though he was a murderer)
  8. Roman soldiers – obeying orders – drove the nails through his hands and feet into the cross, divided his clothes, mocked him, etc
  9. You and I – alongside all men from all time, because we’re all responsible (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”)
  10. Two common criminals also were beside him

In the Beginning, Mankind turned its back on God – so death entered into history. It was our sin that caused the Father to put the only possible rescue plan into action to restore our broken relationship. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”

Jesus bore the penalty for our sin – to the full. “It is finished” (the work he’d come to accomplish). His love for us kept him on the cross to death though he could have come down.

No one else on earth has ever suffered more terrible injustice – no one else has greater excuse to cry out “not fair” – but he prayed “Father, forgive them” – and this was the most powerful prayer ever prayed.

He forgave and asked God to forgive. To do this in circumstances like this, was extraordinary. “Bless those who curse you”

Jesus was asking God to allow those who hurt him to enter into the blessings that God has prepared – joy, peace, restored relationship with God.

It’s impossible to ask God to forgive if we also have not forgiven from the heart. “If you do not forgive, God your Father will not forgive you.”

Yes, God wants to forgive US, but also that we meet the condition to forgive others as well.

As difficult as it can be sometimes, we need to come to that place to forgive others. The example of Frieda’s suffering is a valuable object lesson for this. Certainly we can forgive lesser offenses.

When we cooperate with God’s grace, we can forgive and find relief and walk in freedom. But if we choose not to forgive, we attach ourselves to the other people with a chain of unforgiveness and remain under their control.

  • Song “You always hurt the one you love, the one you should not hurt at all”

We are all still sinners – though redeemed – we have a proneness to wander, so we must continually forgive and ask forgiveness. “How often must I forgive my brother if he offends me? Seven times? No, no, seventy times seven.” (Stop counting, keep forgiving) – You continually sin, you continually need forgiveness, so continually forgive others. Even sometimes, we must forgive the SAME event up to seventy times seven times.

Parable

A servant owed a master a tremendous debt (impossible to pay in a lifetime), but he forgave it. The same servant went out and found a lesser servant who owed a much lesser payment and threw him in prison. The master heard of this and removed the second man, scolded the first, and threw him also into prison.

Jesus forgives, and we must follow his example.

There is constantly a need to forgive – in all kinds of relationships. And we may need to ask God for his grace to help forgive.

What does this do for us?

  1. Transforms our relationship with God – remember Stephen, the first martyr? He forgave them as they stoned him (this must have had a major impact on the future apostle Paul)
  2. Releases the power of the Holy Spirit into our lives
  3. Restores our soul – God is a God of restoration (as well as salvation) – God restored David after his sin and others as well
  4. Opens the door to God’s healing – there are many examples of Christians who’ve suffered physically and emotionally
    1. Linda – Australia – gone on a midnight hike with some others – she fell off a cliff and broke her back in many places – on a lifetime disability pension – heard this teaching – she forgave the guide, and was released.
    2. Another man, Michael’s wife fell for his best friend and left him – as he prayed forgiveness, he was released and able to rebuild his life.

There are some extreme examples – also examples in your and my life – but we need to forgive and our hearts will be transformed – this also releases others into the freedom of our forgiveness as well.

We can begin the process by saying:

“Lord, you know what happened. I’m hurt. Help me to be willing to want to forgive them.”

Let’s take a moment to pray for these others and release them into the freedom of forgiveness.

  • May 24 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Who is My Neighbor? (Luke 10:25-37)
Pastor Brian, Sermons, Subject Studies

Who is My Neighbor? (Luke 10:25-37)

05.24.2015

05.24.2015-PBrian

Who is My Neighbor? Sermon Notes

Luke 10:25-37 (Pastor Brian)

Download notes in a .RTF file

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

10:25-28pp — Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-31

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

“Go and do likewise…”

This is a very familiar Scripture, but it’s interesting that Jesus said the final statement in the Continuous Present tense – this is something we should be doing continually – it’s not easy.

When I grew up, we used to go to Saturday matinees (movie – jo-jo ticket price). “When you’ve got friends and neighbors, all the world is a happier place…If you’ve not a penny, and your house may be tumbling down, with your friends and neighbors, you’re the richest man in town.” (song from one movie) Express your troubles to your friends and neighbors and it makes it easier.

In Canada, there was a show about a man (Mr. Rodgers) who always ended the show with the question, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

This Pharisee here was trying to discredit Jesus – testing him with difficult questions. He didn’t care about the law, justice, morality, truth, etc, they (Pharisees) just wanted to trap him. (Remember the woman caught in adultery from last week? – Jesus bent down and started writing – their sins? commandments? – on the ground – and they all left – “neither do I condemn you, go and sin NO MORE.”)

This kind of thing is also happening here with this lawyer who is questioning Jesus. “What should I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Love God – love others” – the entire commandments are summed up in these two.

“You are right” said Jesus “you know it, now DO it and you will live.”

Remember James 1:22? “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says.”

Jesus says, “Do this and you will live.” Is this salvation by works? No. Then what? Ray Steadman “he was merely pointing out that if you TRULY loved God and others PERFECTLY, you’d have eternal life – God demands perfection – every second of every day – from the moment you’re born until your final breath – and also loving others all the time, perfectly.”

Jesus is really telling the man, “Heaven bound? Be perfect and you’ll make it.”

Yet, we’re all sinners, and God doesn’t “grade on the curve.”

Here, the lawyer wants to change the debate, he wanted to “justify himself” so he asked, “so then… who is my neighbor?” To “justify” himself, he’s seeking to declare himself righteous. (God makes righteous those he justifies – but it’s only in HIM that we have eternal life). Here, it’s slightly different – he wants to show that he’s RIGHT in doing what he’s doing.

“Who IS my neighbor?” was the question, not “What can I do for him?” or “How can I love him?” He’s a lawyer, so he’s looking for a loophole – to love SOME people and not others.

Spurgeon: “He meant to say, ‘Actually, I have no neighbors – my family is all dead and gone away, and no one is close to me. So, I must be excused from ‘loving’ my neighbors.’”

Think of parents: “Pick up your toys.” “Which?” “ALL.”

Here’s the parable: A man was going down to Jerusalem and was attacked by robbers, who stripped him and beat him half to death and robbed him. A priest and Levite both found him and just passed him by – but a Samaritan found him and took pity on him and took him to an inn to be cared for and paid for it all – including the promise for reimbursement.

Here, we don’t know what man this was who was walking here – Jew? Gentile? Actually, doesn’t matter. He could have been anybody. This, in the first sentence is the beginning of the answer to the question: “Who is my neighbor?” A: “Anybody.”

The priest (like a pastor), and the Levite (perhaps like a deacon) – if ANYBODY would stop and help, it SHOULD be these “church people” yet they just cross the road to the opposite side and pass him by as if they don’t even “see” him.

They may have had good excuses – perhaps they would be “defiled” if they were on the way the temple. Sometimes people could pretend to be injured on the road and waiting in ambush to attack another passersby. But the fact is, they just passed him by.

The Samaritan stopped?? Ewwww~ Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another. Remember John 4, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink – she was shocked “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” Samaritans were “impure blood” – Jews had intermarried with Gentiles and created the Samaritans. This would have provoked troublesome thoughts among his audience – to hear that the Samaritan stopped for him. Even James and John wanted to call down fire on Samaria when they didn’t let them through the place.

When Jesus revealed that the “hero” was a Samaritan, the people would be shocked. We might say “Shinchonji” went to him and helped him – nevertheless, he went and helped the person. There’s some real meaning here.

If he was taking a chance (is this a trick?) anyway, he took it. And then he ministered first aid. He helped him, bandaged up his wounds and poured him oil and wine and gave him his ride – he inconvenienced himself to help this man. He didn’t even just drop him off at a police station or a hospital, but he took him to an inn to REALLY help him – gave about 2 days wages to care for him and even promised to reimburse the rest.

After giving this story, shocking the audience, Jesus turned to the lawyer and asked, “so, who do YOU think was the ‘neighbor’?” Now, the lawyer is in the trap he’d been setting. The words likely stuck in his own throat as he said them (couldn’t even say “Samaritan”) – “the one who showed mercy.”

Jesus said, “Right, no go and do likewise.”

Now, why would one who’s been given mercy show further mercy? Eph 4:10 “Because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in order that in the coming Ages, he might show us his incredible grace – expressed in Christ – for it is by grace you have been saved and this not of yourselves, this is not works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in his likeness, to do good works that he’s determined for us to do.”

We are not striving to become worthy of God’s gift, he wants to demonstrate God’s kindness and mercy – he is showing something beautiful so that he might show this further in the history of humanity.

Ex: a grandfather is looking and showing his grandchild a trophy case with lots of trophies. See, in the ages to come, God will “show off” these similar kinds of “trophies” of his grace. “This one was a robber, now he’s mine. This one was a prostitute, now she’s with me. That’s what they used to be, look what they are now.” – because of God’s mercy and grace.

Now YOU go and show mercy.

Memorable poem from the Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare) – the lawyer in that one was pleading for the one who has been in need: “The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven on the earth beneath. It blesses him that gives and him that takes.”

God’s mercy is likewise – mercy is not strained, stretched, it’s poured out like spring rain so that we can be SOAKED in it. It blesses he who receives it and the one who gives it.

What is the takeaway?

“It all depends on your outlook.”

  • To thieves: the traveler was a victim to be exploited
  • To the priests: a nuisance to avoid
  • To the Samaritan: a neighbor to help

What Jesus said to the lawyer, he says to us, “From the overflow of the love and mercy of God in you, go and do likewise.” Love God with your whole being and love others as much as you love yourself – actually this “high standard” is really a “mission impossible” because you can’t do this without God’s love and mercy in you.

Yesterday, we noticed loads of “terrible drivers” who’d done “stupid things” and we realized “oops, wait, we aren’t being very ‘neighborly’” – where did all our love go? It was there just a minute ago. This happens throughout life.

Revelation – the Ephesians had been overflowing with love and joy and mercy and Paul praised them for their overflow to their neighbors and everyone else around them. In Revelation, they needed a wakeup call. Rev. 2: 1-7 – the message to the church in Ephesus had unique challenges to follow Christ – it was the home of the emperor’s cult and the worship of the deity Diana. Actually, Paul had gotten in trouble for preaching this there at that time.

Demetrius protested against Paul and he and his followers were dragged into the town hall and everything was in an uproar – but the town clerk calmed them and they were saved from a worse fate by the providence of God and Paul was able to continue his journey.

From the writings in Acts and others, when Jesus speaks to the church in Ephesus, “they had great discernment against false teachers and heresy, but are faulted for having lost their first love” (their zeal and ardor for their salvation – the love of Christ had made them alive in Christ – they’d been so overjoyed and that joy overflowed to the culture around them). Jesus (through John) commends them for their ability to detect heresy, but reprimands them for their love for him that’s cooled into “religion” – Jesus warns them that they’re in danger of falling away – “return to me and rekindle the love that’s begun to cool.”

We face the same kinds of difficulties in this modern world. The first love we have been given is love for Christ and others – speaking the truth in love, we will grow up into the head who is Christ.

We must take warning from the letter to the Ephesians concerning Christ from the letter in Revelation to not let that love grow cold.

If you look back to when you first met Christ, there’s nothing you wouldn’t have done to help others and make him known. So, this statement that Jesus said to the lawyer must be in the Present Continual tense – continually help those in need around you.

“He that does my Will will know the truth of my doctrine.” (Christ) – when you DO what he wants, you will KNOW that his truth is true.

This is a lesson that is constantly needed to be heeded by us.

If we see someone in need this week, HELP.

Let’s pray.

  • May 10 / 2015
  • Comments Off on The “No More’s” of Jesus (John 5:14)
No More, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The “No More’s” of Jesus (John 5:14)

05.10.2015

05.10.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

Download Notes in a .RTF file

The ‘No Mores’ of Jesus

John 5:14 (Pastor Brian)

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’”


 

  1. Isaiah 43:25 “For my own sake”
  2. Jeremiah 31:34 “No more”
  3. Hebrews 8:12 “No more”
  4. Hebrews 10:17 “No more”
  5. John 5:14 (also John 8)

Writer to the Hebrews is saying, “Hey! Don’t go back! Keep on keepin’ on! Keep on trusting in Jesus. He’s FINISHED it. You can’t go back.” There are many severe warnings about going back (apostatizing).

What was done in type and shadow in the Old Testament is now FULLY fulfilled in Christ. Don’t go back to Moses, Abraham -> they all spoke of Jesus’ coming.

Jesus is the ULTIMATE hope.

  1. The Law doesn’t offer forgiveness, it merely opens our eyes to our sins so that we can see more clearly. We know there are consequences for our wrongdoing and sin – he is just, he will punish, but he is also merciful.
  2. By our own experience and observation, we can also see that SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES.
  3. Satan, the accuser of the brethren piles it on. “Call yourself a Christian? Ha~~~ Look what you just did ‘Christian’!” But by the blood of the Lamb, we overcame him.

There is a way of victory – through Christ.

Through various demonstrations, God wanted to show his mercy – he gave LIFE where death was threatened – even in the Garden of Eden when they ate of the tree. He spoke of the coming of his Son – he promised salvation at the birth of humanity. LIFE was promised despite the act that brought about the deserved death of humanity.

Where there’s LIFE, there’s HOPE.

Throughout the Old Testament, there were examples of life and hope and the forgiveness of sins.

  1. The shedding of animal blood, the provision of the Tabernacle and the temple, the priesthood, the atonement, the sin offering. The Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement was the day that God expressed his desire to forgive sins and the people expressed their desire to be forgiven.
  2. There was also the example of the cleansing of the leper. Two birds were there – one killed, the other dipped in its blood and released – signifying Jesus’ blood sacrifice to free us from our sins.
  3. There was the type and shadow of the scapegoat – one goat was taken out into the wilderness “carrying the sins and the guilt” of the people and it was killed or pushed off a cliff or otherwise not allowed to come back into camp.

There is no approach to God without the shedding of blood. This ALL points to Jesus (Jesus IS in EVERY book of the Bible).

So, we can see throughout the Old Testament Laws and rituals, God’s willingness and want to forgive sins.

In fact, why repent if there is no forgiveness of sins? One goes along with the other. Repentance leads forgiveness and forgiveness grants repentance – one leads into the other. God prompts repentance, grants forgiveness, then grants greater repentance.

Jonah – the reluctant prophet.

He didn’t want to go to Ninevah – yet, God “persuaded” him with a “big” messenger (whale) – he was coughed up on shore and went to Ninevah and the king and the people and the animals repented, prayed, and left off sinning.

Jonah waited under a tree (with popcorn) awaiting the fiery destruction of Ninevah – which never came…

God chooses NOT to fulfill his just judgment when there is genuine repentance.

JOB: Elihu –

“He looks upon sin and if any man says, ‘I have sinned and it profited me not’ – he (God) shall save the man from the pit and carry him into the light.”

CHRONICLES: God –

“If my people, called by me, turn from their sins, and call on my name, I will heal their land.” (IF my people – God identifies with his people – “humble themselves” – “pray” – “I will hear from heaven” – “pardon their sin” – “heal their land”) Beginning with a conditional, this single verse walks through the entire process of repentance and forgiveness.

Throughout the Bible, we have Psalms and stories and the church (later) who prove and show that God WANTS to forgive his people.

“He who believes in Jesus is justified from all things that he could not be justified by in the Law of Moses.”

After OUR forgiveness…

We must FORGIVE.

Spurgeon: Was talking with a man, he left. The next man came up and told him of a previous misdeed of the former man. But Spurgeon said, “I’d totally forgotten – so it was a wonderful thing to be totally unbegrudging toward him.”

If you forgive someone, do it from the HEART – again and again and again (forgiveness often isn’t a ONE time thing – especially if you were painfully offended or hurt).

These things were seen in the Old Testament and reiterated in the New Testament – particularly Hebrews.

Here, today, let’s look at when and how JESUS says “No more.”

God in Christ (the 3 Fs)

  1. Faced up to sin
  2. Forgave our sins
  3. Forgot our sins (did not call to remembrance – remember that forgetfulness is an infirmity – but CHOOSING to not recall something is gracious)
  4. (Today) FORSAKE our sins – Jesus advocates this in John 5:14

Sometimes, when we forsake our sins (so long as we continue to LOOK to the Lord), he continues to forgive us and guide us, empower us.

  1. John 5: (a man’s story)
  2. John 8:1-15 (a woman’s story)

But Jesus went to the Mt. of Olives. At dawn, he appeared again and sat down among the people to teach them. The teachers brought a woman into the midst of the crowd who’d been caught in adultery – they were trying to trap Jesus by accusing her. But he bent down to write in the sand. They kept at it, but he said, “OK, whoever is without sin – you start the stoning.” Eventually, they all started to leave, until she remained alone.

“Go now and sin NO MORE.”

John 5:1-15 The healing at the pool of Bethesda

Some time later, Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda – there were a great number of disabled people lying there. When Jesus saw the sick man lying there, he asked, “Do you want to get well?” The man said, “No one can help me” Jesus said, “Pick up your mat and walk.” He did so. The Jews said to him, “Hey man, it’s the Sabbath – you can’t DO that.” But he said, “The man who made me well told me to.” But they couldn’t find Jesus as he’d slipped off into the crowd.

Later…

“Sin no more, or something worse may happen to you.”

Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There were many major feasts in Jerusalem – (but this was probably the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles – to remember the duration of the pilgrimage through the desert for 40 years).

Jesus went up to the Sheep Gate, there was a pool (Bethesda) – surrounded by 5 large covered areas. They were waiting for the waters to be “stirred” by an angel of the Lord to be healed. The healing mineral waters likely helped them get well – it may have been like a spa.

This man had been sick – very incapacitated – for 38 years. Jesus saw him and asked him, “Do you want to get well?” This might seem strange – he’d obviously wanted to get well for 38 years, right? Well, sometimes people who are ill give up hope – especially if they are getting a state pension for example – some people get a lot of attention – ego boost. There are various reasons WHY a person might NOT want to get well.

And actually, the man doesn’t give a straight answer. Jesus just cut through all of that and said, “GET UP!” Boom! He did. And he walked. Imagine that after 38 years.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath. The Jews said to the man, “It’s the Sabbath, buddy! That’s illegal!” He replied, “The man who healed me said, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” They said, “Who is he?” The man didn’t know because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd. The man later met Jesus at the temple – probably to offer thanks to God for his healing. Jesus said to him, “See, you are well again. Go and sin no more, or something worse may happen to you.”

Jesus obviously knew that the cause of his suffering was sin. Perhaps sexual sin, or something else that had caused him to suffer in his body. (There is no CLEAR source of his suffering here, but this is a pretty good guess.)

That’s a pretty severe warning – he was lost, diseased, hopeless, helpless – until Jesus came along and healed him and then gave him a very solemn warning.

Peter, Jude, and others write of this “returning to sin” after receiving the blessing of forgiveness in such a way:

“A dog returning to its vomit.”

Peter knew well the meaning of sinning and repentance and forgiveness – what was actually the difference between Peter and Judas? Both sinned against Christ – only Peter went back to Christ for forgiveness.

Peter: “Be diligent, sober, watchful because your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” RESIST and be steadfast in the faith.

That’s what sin is in God’s sight: vomit. Would you be a dog who returns to it?

“Go and SIN NO MORE.”

Sometimes when people return to the original sin – it becomes WORSE than it was before. Some people think that they cannot go back to God again.

Hopefully the man took heed, certainly he was very grateful for the grace and mercy of Jesus. He went on and demonstrated that it was Jesus who’d healed him.

John Piper’s thoughts on John 8: this section is either in italics, or footnotes.

Most NT scholars DON’T think this was a part of the gospel of John but was added centuries later.

“Despite the best efforts to prove this was part of the original version, the evidence is against them and the modern versions of the Bible are right to keep it separate.”

The conclusion: It wasn’t originally in John’s gospel, but was added later.

Piper agrees. Part of the conclusions are:

  1. The stories are missing from all the Greek scrolls before the 5th century
  2. All the scholars pass over this portion in their writings
  3. The story flows well from the previous story to chapter 9
  4. The Eastern scholars didn’t use it until the 10th century
  5. This shows up in DIFFERENT places in different manuscripts
  6. This story, in style and vocabulary is more unlike John’s gospel than any other part.
  7. Saying all that assumes a lot of facts – part of “textual criticism”

So, what’s a preacher to do?

Don Carson and Bruce Metsger think this event REALLY happened and that the story circulated and was later put into the gospel of John – it has all the earmarks of historical truth. It’s just the way it was juxtaposed and put into the gospel at a later point.

Yet, this doesn’t have the authority of Scripture – because it wasn’t in there originally – so, I’ll prove it’s points from OTHER Scriptures. Let THOSE be the authority.

  1. Jesus exalts himself above the Law
  2. He re-establishes the story of Grace over Justice

This is an effective echo of the WHOLE of the New Testament.

  1. The woman is caught in adultery
  2. The Pharisees put Jesus to the test (we’ve seen this more than once already) – will Jesus contradict Moses’ Law? Deut & Lev. say “if a couple is caught in adultery, BOTH of them must die.” – so…… how committed to the Law are they really?
  3. The were USING the Law to get rid of the woman and get rid of Jesus (bring a charge against him)
  4. Jesus says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” – this is no way to work justice, right? even judges are sinful. Yet, here is Jesus standing against the Pharisees’ understanding of justice and showing grace.
  5. Go and understand this: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
  6. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” – Jesus exposes their own misuse of the Law.

The point is: Righteousness and Justice should be founded on a gracious spirit. Otherwise, there is no mercy – and no mercy for the one who shows no mercy.

When they leave, Jesus says, “No one condemns you? Neither do I. GO AND SIN NO MORE.” – She’s received grace and mercy and now she must walk in that grace and mercy and cease the sins she’s been walking in. He’s talking about a change in LIFESTYLE – a lifestyle CHOICE here – because people continually sin and stumble. No one is perfect.

“You’ve met God and been saved by his grace.”

This is the pervasive message of the New Testament: Jesus exalted himself ABOVE the Law

John shows that – and re-establishes the forgiveness of God based on Grace

Thus, John Newton, a slave trader, could write “Amazing Grace” based on his own personal testimony.

We must be holy if you want to see God – he hates sins – he knows what its done to his Son, he knows what it does to us. We may have that way before, but Jesus says, “I come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Justice in life, in place of grace – makes us cruel and unmerciful.

Jesus came into this world to give grace and mercy and forgiveness. His appeal is “Come to me, all you weary and heavy-laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

  1. Come to Christ for grace, set your face to SIN NO MORE.
  2. His grace is accompanied by his direction: SIN NO MORE.

Let’s pray.

  • Apr 12 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Remembering God’s Forgetfulness (Jeremiah 31:34)
No More, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Remembering God’s Forgetfulness (Jeremiah 31:34)

04.12.2015

04.12.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Remembering God’s Forgetfulness

Jeremiah 31:34 (Pastor Brian)

“No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘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!”


 

Remember last week Isaiah 43:53? God was giving his people encouragement that he would blot out their sins and CHOOSE not to remember them. God is a God of mercy, grace, and compassion. If only they turn from their sins, they would receive an outpouring of grace and forgiveness.

Here, in Jeremiah, God declares what he will do for his people when they call out to him.

Here is another blanket proposal from the Lord to blot out their sins and not even keep them in his remembrance.

Charles Spurgeon + Harbor = two preachers who were meditating on God’s truth from these Scriptures.

  • Spurgeon = “The Non-Remembrance of God” – says God blots out the ledger of our debts so that he will no longer remember them.
  • Harbor = Jesus “faced our sins” to take them and bear away the iniquity and shame in his own body on the cross and blot out the ledger of indebtedness (sin) that we owe.

God faced up to the reality of our sins, he wants us to face up to them as well and look to the source of our forgiveness – his Son Christ on the cross.

God not only forgives sins, but forgets. The forgiveness is KEY. “How truly do we believe this?” – the unrepentant man isn’t bothered by it – until the Holy Spirit gets a hold of him and converts him – and he realizes that there is an eternity to be enjoyed with God in heaven (either that, or torment for eternity away from God).

These are the truths that Jesus came to reveal. Jesus spoke of Hell more than any of the other apostles and teachers. He came to save souls from Hell and bring them to heaven.

Here are some thoughts from the two preachers that have been blessed with a deeper understanding of these things to pass on to us.

  • Jeremiah – “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Just last week in Communion in Jungbu’s joint service, I mentioned how sometimes we try to find relief in different ways (like the Law) and they always fall short (it doesn’t forgive sins, just brings knowledge and condemnation of sin). To look to the Law doesn’t bring any hope.

  1. Our conscience agrees with the Law that we all deserve God’s justice and death. By our own experience, we all know we’ve sinned, and God would not be the God of justice if he didn’t mete out justice for our sins – we all know this.
  2. We have experience in our lives and can see it in the lives of others. We witness sin and scandal, murder, adultery, unforgiveness, grudge-bearing, and all of these have their own “fruit” that we reap. Sin has consequences.
  3. Satan also condemns us and accuses us. He “craftily cooperates with the Law, conscience, and observation” and where these 3 would drive a person to despair, Satan takes this further and says, “OH yeah! You’re totally worthless – no hope for you.” and can lead us to utter despair.

However, Jesus is our advocate, our “lawyer” who stands up for us against the accusation of Satan.

All of these things lead us to dependence on someone else – Jesus – who was able to fulfill ALL the demands of the Law. “Which of you convicts me of sin?” – No one could – even the centurion at the cross said, “Surely this man was the Son of God” – he knew how Jesus forgave sins and went “as a sheep before the shearers” to his crucifixion – mildly and humbly.

The apostle Paul depicts Jesus as a very righteous husband, always right and perfect – and we, the church, are imperfect and married to him. The only thing we can do – the bride – is DIE. We recognize Christ’s death, die in identification with the Lord, are buried with him, and rise again to a newness of life (symbolized in baptism).

The Law is not going to die. So the only option is for the people UNDER the Law to die and rise again under a NEW covenant – under Christ, in Christ, we have forgiveness and hope.

Yesterday, we saw the marriage of Joshua and Jade and the Scriptures we read were from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps NO RECORD OF WRONGS (like God says he won’t)…”

Here, Paul says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs” – it rubs out the record so that in God’s sight, it is no longer there. This is a HARD truth to realize and appropriate. Men disbelieve it for themselves and doubt it where others are concerned. We keep records of wrongs, we aren’t speedily ready to forgive. Sometimes we require time to release offenses. But (Psalms?) we are encouraged to “not let the sun go down on your anger.” ACT like true children of God – FORGIVE as you’ve BEEN forgiven.

  • Hebrews 8:10? “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
  • (Also Hebrews 10:17)
  • Colossians “God has taken those things away and nailed them to the cross.”
  • Micah “The Lord delights in mercy and will not keep our sins forever but will bury them in the sea (of forgetfulness).”

We need to meditate on these truths: YES – I am forgiven.

Remember that God has LET THEM GO – and wants us to have that same attitude in our own lives.

  • Hebrews 10:1 “The Law has a shadow of things to come, but not the very substance/reality…”
  • Leviticus 14 – the “Law of the Leper” is another picture of the atonement of Jesus in taking away our sins.

The cleansing of the Leper:

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘These are the regulations for the unclean person at the time of his cleansing when he is brought to the priest: The priest is to go outside and examine him, if he’s been healed, the priest will order 2 live clean birds and scarlet wood and hissop to be brought to the water. One bird shall be killed over the water, and dipped with the other things into the blood of the bird over water. 7 times he should sprinkle the diseased one and declare him clean. Then, release the live bird into the open field.”

This is a type/shadowing of Jesus. Two birds, one killed over running water (Jesus’ crucifixion), the Live bird is dipped into the blood of the dead bird and released into the open heaven (Jesus’ resurrection).

Again, speaking of the atonement of Jesus, it also speaks of OUR lives and deaths (spiritual) and rebirths – we’ve died to sin and been reborn into newness of life in Christ.

“…The man must stay outside for 7 days, then shave EVERYTHING, wash his clothes and himself and he’ll be clean.”

This man was “unclean” and outside the camp previously (this is a picture of sin) – it was a terrible existence. And yet, sometimes, God healed a leper – he had to go and prove that it was gone. When the examination took place and it was found to be gone, he had to go through this ceremonial cleansing. This is all a type/shadowing of Christ.

“…The priest takes one of the male lambs and offers it as a guilt offering – slaughter it in the Holy Place – like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest. Take some blood and put it on the right ear and the thumb of the right hand and the big toe of the right foot. (This symbolizes cleansing).”

  • Ear = what we listen to
  • Thumb = what we work on
  • Toe = where we walk

“…The priest will take some oil, dip it on his hand and sprinkle it on the man 7 times, put the oil on the ear, the thumb, the toe, ON TOP of the blood offering.”

The blood is CLEANSING – before we receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The oil then, is symbolic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit we receive after we are cleansed.

All of this speaks elegantly and symbolically about what Jesus ACTUALLY, LITERALLY accomplished on the cross and through his resurrection.

All these types were given to show God’s mercy. The Law itself was given to show mercy to those who’d broken the Law in different ways. This is the first point.

#2: God shows his mercy by giving Life.

Genesis “On the day you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die.” Satan tempted them, they ate, their eyes were opened, and the damage was done. But God in his mercy didn’t immediately kill them. He COULD have, for he is just and requires justice. But in mercy, he set them out on the earth (not without consequences – thorn and thistles for the man’s work, terrible pain for women in child birth). He also set out a prophecy that the seed of the woman (Jesus) would crush the head of the serpent (Satan). This was a reference to the coming of the Messiah.

Right from the beginning, God showed his mercy, gave them life, gave them promise.

What he did with Adam and Eve, he does with us. Are you alive? Then you have HOPE. “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Proverb) But life needs to be practiced by receiving Christ for eternal life.

Right at the beginning, God promised that one would come and grant eternal life – and throughout the Old Testament, he gave further proofs that he was willing to show mercy. Not only did they have the Mosaic Law (condemning), but also the Ceremonial Law (allowing cleansing). This allowed the people to have fellowship with him – he showed his mercy and grace through this.

And Paul writes, “In the fullness of time, God sent his Son to redeem them…”

God did indeed send his Savior in the right time and the right place in order to fulfill his will.

All of these clues, hints, shadows, pointed to the substance that is Christ.

Remember the healing of the 10 lepers, and that of the 1 leper who said to Jesus, “Lord, if your are willing, you can cleanse me.”

Thinking about this, there weren’t many healing recorded for leprosy in the Old Testament (Miriam got it for about a week for rebellion at one point). Interestingly, this “Law for cleansing the leper” may not have been used much in the Old Testament – it isn’t recorded, and Jesus told this guy to go and get cleansed (he didn’t, he ran out and told everyone).

Of the 10, Jesus sent them to do this ceremonial cleansing and only 1 came back.

If these lepers had gone to the priests, they probably wouldn’t actually know what to do – because it was so uncommon. This is why Jesus wanted the leper to go back and show himself to the priest – it might have opened their eyes to the truth about Jesus as well.

Jesus made a point of telling that the Samaritan leper came back and said “Thanks” – yet he was the recipient of God’s mercy and showed his gratitude.

We see here that this was an act of God’s mercy. This is a tremendous picture of sin – it rots the body from the inside and limbs may even fall off. But God was willing to heal of his physical disease (and spiritually healed him/forgave him as well).

Now, as we close, let’s meditate upon Christ, who took our sins upon himself and faced up to our sins. He’s forgiven them and forgotten them – to be remembered “NO MORE!”

This is what we need to remember when we are tempted to accuse ourselves or listen to the accusations of others.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 29 / 2015
  • Comments Off on The Amazing Amnesia of God (Isaiah 43:25)
No More, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Amazing Amnesia of God (Isaiah 43:25)

03.29.2015

03.29.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

The Amazing Amnesia of God

Isaiah 43:25 (Pastor Brian)

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, FOR MY OWN SAKE, and remembers your sins no more.”


Title: The Amazing Amnesia of God

Amnesia = medical condition where you forget things – either temporarily or permanently

Some Writings:

  1. “God’s Non-remembrance of Sin” – Charles Spurgeon
  2. “The Forgetfulness of God”

Here they are combined. God not only chooses to forget our sins, but also NOT remember them.

  1. Isaiah 43:25 = one reference
  2. Jeremiah 31:24 “For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”
  3. Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more.”
  4. Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins and their iniquities I will remember NO MORE.”

NO MORE being the KEY here.

“Let those words ‘NO MORE’ echo through the caverns of despondency and despair.”

Here, there are 4 Scriptures. There must be at least 3 testimonies to affirm some kind of statement (Deut, reaffirmed by Jesus in Matthew). There must be numerous witnesses or someone could accuse falsely. So God has said, there must be at least 2-3 witnesses to establish a truth.

Here is not only 2-3, but 4 (and even MORE) of God’s willingness to not call to mind the sins He’s forgiven.

In Isaiah, the prophet speaks of the judgment of God because they’d rejected His covenant. After the Exodus from Egypt, a covenant was established with God and the people promised that they’d keep the covenant.

King Manasseh, Zedekiah, etc were terrible kings – even sacrificing their own children to idols.

God had previously sent prophets to warn them, but they didn’t heed the warnings. In Isaiah, he warns harshly that they will be sent into captivity for 70 years in Babylon.

Yet, even in the midst of judgment, God tells them that he will restore them and have mercy on them – even for their terrible previous sins.

“For my own sake” – is God so fed up with their sins that he can’t stand to look at them? More than that, it’s protecting his own justice, mercy, reputation, etc. Even though he chastises his people, he wants to restore them and shower them with his love and kindness again.

He says, “I’ll do this for my own sake (to show others) that I choose to remember your sins no more.”

These sins are completely blotted out of God’s remembrance. This refers prophetically as well to Jesus’ sacrifice that has blotted out all our sins so that God remembers them no more.

Spurgeon “forgetfulness is an infirmity (problem) – part of aging, human nature” God is not like that – He doesn’t have an infirmity – rather he CHOOSES to (1) Forgive and (2) IMMEDIATELY forget

When someone offends us, we can forgive, but we can’t forget. God doesn’t actually “forget” but chooses “not to bring to mind.” James reference.

  • Brian Harbor “Perhaps the most neglected doctrine of theology is the ‘forgetfulness’ of God – when God forgives, he [immediately] forgets. When he forgives our sins, he ERASES it out of the pages of eternity.”
  • William Cooper “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform” – this is a poet’s way to say that “God acts differently than we do.” This is obvious in the subject of guilt and sin. What we do with these is totally different from what God does.

“It’s impossible to both have a sensitive conscience and a clean conscience at the same time.” i.e. we KNOW we all sin, so we have guilt – ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit – we’ve had guilt.

  1. Psalm 51:3 “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” (King David)
  2. Isaiah met God in the temple “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, dwelling among a people of unclean lips.”
  3. Matthew 4? The woman caught in adultery – “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
  4. Once a man sent $100 to the Inland Revenue (tax) and said, “If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send more…”
  5. Shakespeare – the Lady Macbeth “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten the hand (that’s committed murder).”

Guilt is universal. What do we do with it?

#1: Rationalize it

A speeding car caught by a police man said, “I speed so I don’t get in an accident – there are so many…”

Rationalize = to ration lies

We need to OWN UP to it – take RESPONSIBILITY.

#2: Deny it

A person bought a Rolls Royce and experienced some mechanical failure – he wrote to the firm in England, and they flew a man out to fix it – he was waiting for a bill, but it never arrived… He wrote back, “Where’s the bill?” They wrote back, “We have no record of a Rolls Royce with a mechanical problem.” DENIAL.

#3: Run away from it (avoid it)

Massachusetts man stole a watch. He was stricken in his conscience and tried to give it away, no one took it. He threw it away but was still guilty. Thirty-five years later, he sent money and a note to his rabbi to give to the family.

  1. Rationalize
  2. Deny
  3. Run away

This is how WE approach guilt

God’s method?

Colossians 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive in Christ. He forgave us all our sins having canceled the charge of legal indebtedness – he has taken it away, nailing it to his cross.”

What does God do with it?

#1: Faces it

He took our sins upon himself and nailed it to the cross. This is an awesome truth – Jesus (sinless) BECAME sin for us.

How much do we ACTUALLY realize when we say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” This is a big difference when our conscience is awakened to the truth of this.

If we are guilty and want forgiveness, we want to KNOW we are forgiven and that God has forgotten.

The events of Passion Week (this next week)

  1. Throughout the night, Jesus was harassed, passed from one prison to another. Caesar then washed his hands of it, denying his responsibility, running away from his authority, rationalizing his position to give Jesus to the crowd.
  2. The soldiers ripped off his clothes, pierced his flesh with nails.
  3. For 6 hours, Jesus bore the ridicule of the crowd before (as) he died.
  4. The guilt of ALL people of ALL time was placed on his shoulders – he literally BECAME sin for us.
  5. And by HIS stripes, we have been healed (spiritual healing).
  6. Friday afternoon, the sky turned black, the temple veil torn in two “Surely this man was the Son of God” (Matthew) “It is finished” (John). He didn’t say, “I am finished” rather, “It is ACCOMPLISHED” (the Will of the Father God) – that none need die in the guilt and sins.

This was God’s plan to deal with guilt. He didn’t rationalize, deny, or run away from it. He FACED it, took responsibility for it, forgave us our sins. (On the cross, Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them…”)

Jesus fulfilled ALL the types and sacrifices and ceremonies in the Old Testament.

Every year, Yom Kippor – the high priest entered into the holy of holies and sacrificed the lambs for the sins of all the people. This Day of Atonement was repeated year after year – it needed to be repeated.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away (not just covers) the sin of the world.” John was the voice in the wilderness pointing to Jesus to show that he was the Lamb who would deal with sin.

When God forgives, he forgets.

  • Psalm 103:12 “God has removed our sins from as far as the East is from the West.”
  • (It’s my birthday today – and my wife read this Psalm on my last birthday.)
  • Jeremiah predicted that 31:34 “God will forgive our sins and remember our sins no more.”
  • Micah “God will cast our sins into the deepest sea.”
  • Paul (Romans 4:7)
  • The poet is correct: “God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.”

What does this all mean for us?

Ex: There was a bad guy once involved in terrible crimes, he was converted to Christianity, and afterward took every opportunity to tell of his change. Just before he was to speak once, someone sent an envelope up to him in the front with a LONG list of former sins he’d committed. His first impulse was to leave the pulpit, but he stepped up boldly and said, “Friends, I’m accused of sins in this very city. I’ll read this list to you.” He read and after each said, “It is true, I’ve done that, I’m guilty.”

“You ask how I dare stand before you to speak of righteousness and truth when I have a list of crimes like this under my name. I’ll tell you, IN HIM, we have forgiveness of ALL our trespasses.”

The enemy is called the Accuser of the Brethren.

If you hear the voice, “How dare you stand up and preach Christ when you are such a terrible sinner?” will you rationalize, deny, run away, pack up and leave? Rather, say, “No, I will stand up for Christ, because he has stood up for me.”

Thank God, he has FORGOTTEN my sin – buried in the deepest sea, covered it up, removed it as far as the East is from the West.

Spurgeon said, “The 4 Scriptures should be enough in an of themselves. I want these Scriptures to be like adament (steel) in letting us know that our sins are forgiven.”

Ask, Seek, Knock – if we lay our guilt at Jesus’ feet, we can perhaps know what it is like to truly experience the forgiveness of God.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 15 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Charge It To Me II (Philemon)
Pastor Brian, Philemon: Charge It To Me, Sermons

Charge It To Me II (Philemon)

03.15.2015

03.15.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Charge it to me II

Philemon (Pastor Brian)

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do,9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul–an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus– 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him–who is my very heart–back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 

14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good– 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 

19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back–not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. 22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. 

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


This is a short book and for a while was considered whether or not this book should be included in the Bible. It does not contain the same kind of doctrine and theology and teaching as the others. However, this does show much of his humanity (He doesn’t begin by saying “An apostle of Christ”) – he’s appealing to his friend Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave Onesimus. Both had become Christians under Paul’s witness.

Paul mentions that Philemon refreshed the hearts of the saints – he shared the Word, blessed them materially, etc.

Now, Paul is under house arrest in Rome – the elders had wanted him killed in Jerusalem? and knew that his only chance was to appeal to Caesar in Rome (because he’s a Roman citizen). He was in chains, but was able to receive people there. He even received the Jewish elders and preached to them – he said, “You may not believe, but the Gentiles will believe.”

Somehow, this slave Onesimus meets Paul and Paul introduced him to the Lord – no here’s the problem: he’s got a runaway slave convert that belongs to another friend of his. Legally, he is the property of Philemon and he would be subject to death under the laws of that time for what he’s done.

Paul appeals to him – persuasive – that he show mercy to Onesimus (name meaning “useful”). Paul writes “He wasn’t useful to you then, but he’s useful to me now. He ministers to my needs. If you were here, you’d minister to me, but providentially, your slave is here, ministering to me on your behalf even though you don’t know it.”

“I know what he did was wrong, but I’m asking that you take him back – not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.”

From there, v. 15-16, Paul explains the providential hand of God on Onesimus’ escape. “Perhaps you lost him for a while so that you might receive him back forever as a brother.”

Commentators opinions = maybe he was a brother or half-brother of Philemon.

Ray Steadman took for granted that Onesimus was his brother – in a message he delivered once. In a way, it was almost a prodigal son style story. He may have got into debt at some point and indentured  himself to his brother to pay off the debt. Another option – theoretically – was that Philemon’s father got a slave girl pregnant and Onesimus was the result – a step-brother slave who has no “place” in the inheritance.

The reason for this is the statement: “a brother in the flesh and in the Lord.” Some have speculated about this – it sounds good, but I don’t think so. Paul uses this phrase in other contexts – he was unlikely a true brother or step-brother.

Nevertheless, this is good to see how Paul intercedes on behalf of a brother. Even in our own families and groups of friends, we need to extend mercy as we’ve received mercy. People offend us – we need to show mercy to those people.

Paul is very delicate in his appeal to Philemon. “Perhaps he departed for a while…” (Not, “he ran off with your money…”).

In some ways, his escape was nothing but trouble. It deprived Philemon an asset, a worker, and made Onesimus a runaway convict, possibly ready to get the death penalty. Yet, Paul saw a purpose for this. He writes: “Perhaps…” (See, he doesn’t say, “God SAID to me…”) Rather he says, “I think this may possibly be the purpose that God has in mind… what do you think?”

  • Philemon was a good man of the time – just a wealthy man with property of the day (slaves).
  • So, Paul appeals to him to make the best of a bad matter.
  • Perhaps in the providence of God, Onesimus ran off to find God and come back to you as a brother.
  • Paul reintroduces Onesimus to Philemon as a “new creation” and yet, he must still go back to “face the music” and pay retribution for what he’s done.

In this letter, Paul reduces the sting of slavery and begins the paving of the way for the abolition of slavery. This in and of itself did more for the abolition of slavery than the LAW itself. To consider a slave a “brother” was a complete turning of the paradigm on its head.

Spurgeon: “The transformation of the individual is the key to the transformation of society and the moral environment. The true reformation of a sinner is to be found in a new heart, and a new nature. I see many of my brothers whittling away at the branches of sin. But the gospel takes the AXE to the entire forest of sin. We cut down ALL the trees so that new trees of the gospel, the new life, the new heart, the fruit of the Spirit can spring up in their place.”

Paul says, “If he has wronged you, charge it to me.”

Looks like when he ran away, he stole something and confessed it to Paul.

“I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand.” I guarantee I can pay. “Not to mention that you owe ME your own self – your own salvation.”

If you punish Onesimus, you are punishing me as well. “Put it on my tab.” IOU = I owe You = this is my personal guarantee.

Martin Luther: “Paul lays himself out for Onesimus and pleads his cause for his master – he pleads as if he himself is the slave and has wronged the master – even as Christ does for us, so Paul does for Onesimus. We are all Onesimi in God’s eyes.”

Ever seen Spartacus? At the end, the leaders were trying to find him. The Romans came and said, “Who’s Spartacus?” The whole group admit to being Spartacus – they’d followed him and were one with him in spirit.

We’re also all runaways from God the father – we are all Onesimus’.

Jesus has paid for us, for everyone.

This week = debt-free! couple in the church. The interesting thing is, what about ours? We’ve got some in Canada, when can we pay it off? Perhaps this month. We had a big struggle just to discover what we had left to pay. “Yours was paid off last year and mine was paid off six-months ago. And we have a little money here that used to go to the debt.”

The bigger thing is Abby and Phillip KNEW when their debt was paid – we didn’t know.

  • We ALL have a debt we cannot pay.
  • Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.

Do you realize you have a debt? Anyway, we are all indebted to our Father God – from Adam and Eve, we are all BORN into debt – we are all sinners and need a Savior. Jesus is the ONLY way, truth, and life. When we can admit “Yes, I have a debt” – then we can accept and acknowledge that Jesus has paid our debt.

That’s the only way to find TRUE forgiveness.

Think of all the other religions. They are trying to DO something to get forgiveness. But in this way, Jesus initiates FOR us and offers to pay our debt FOR us FIRST – as Paul has done for Onesimus.

Once, in my life, I was a mess – I was offered a way out of legal trouble if I outed someone else. I didn’t want to out him just as an excuse because I was then a Christian. At that time, I was going to an apostalic church. My pastor, Pastor Angel – understood my convictions and went to court with me. It took a year until my case came up. Pastor Angel testified on my behalf “I know this young man and believe that he’s had a genuine conversion and genuine change.” I got in trouble for selling something for 100L that accumulated upwards of 30-40,000L and I couldn’t pay. Miraculously, they fined me only the original 100L that I’d sold it for.

In this way also, Pastor Angel was stepping in on my behalf with the court to plead my case just as Paul did.

We are all brothers in the flesh, we are all debtors, we all need Christ to intercede for us, plead our case before God, pay our debt for us. But it’s up to us to DO with this what we should.

Paul didn’t COMMAND Philemon to take Onesimus back, likewise Jesus doesn’t COMMAND us to accept his offer.

Is Christianity just “another religion” like the others? No. All those founders were “brothers in the flesh” – part of fallen humanity. Christ was “God in the flesh” – sinless and paid the debt for us.

Ray Steadman used this as an appeal for families.

If you are having struggles with family members or close friends, remember what the Lord has done for YOU and bring forgiveness and mercy to someone in your life who needs it. Recently, I did this with someone in Canada for something that happened years ago.

If God is calling you to do this, don’t put it off. It’s necessary and worth it.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 01 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Charge It To Me (Philemon)
Pastor Brian, Philemon: Charge It To Me, Sermons

Charge It To Me (Philemon)

03.01.2015

03.01.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Charge it to me.

Philemon (Pastor Brian)

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do,9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul–an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus– 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him–who is my very heart–back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 

14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good– 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 

19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back–not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. 22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. 

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


 

27 million slaves in the world today.

During the time of Paul’s life, 60 million.

Abe Lincoln, Amazing Grace (written by John Newton – a slaver), William Wilberforce – these all had a hand and influence in abolishing slavery.

Christianity is NOT in favor of slavery, however, had Paul militated against slavery at that time, he would have been unsuccessful in preaching the gospel.

When the time was right, Christians led the way (and are still leading the way) to abolish slavery.

Here, now, Paul is making a plee on the behalf of Onesimus – a runaway slave of Philemon. Here, now, is Paul’s letter that expresses his desire to help Onesimus.

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, …”

  • Paul was under house-arrest in Rome, yet he didn’t consider himself a Roman prisoner, nor a prisoner of the Jews, nor a government prisoner. He was able to receive visitors and talk with them and share the gospel with them.
  • Paul here considers himself a prisoner of Christ, he knew he was – in all circumstances – in God’s will. He addresses the letter to Philemon, “my friend”. This is the only place in the NT he’s mentioned by name.
  • Paul had won him to Christ, he was a wealthy man, and they had a good relationship.
  • Paul uses a familiar phrase “Kairane” – which means “greeting” – he changed it to “Karass” – which means “grace.”

We have received grace from God – we have acceptance from God and have peace with God.

He mentions Apphia – probably the wife of Philemon – as she had charge of the slaves in the household. Archippus was likely the son – he is also mentioned in Colossians “tell Archippus to fulfill the calling God has on his life.”

The church in the home of Philemon is greeted. Up to the 3rd century, most churches were house churches – there were no buildings specifically for churches there. When buildings were built, they were often built on the spot of house churches.

This shows that each house should also be a church: worshiping, teaching, a heart of ministry – everybody’s home should be a church. Cell groups are a good example.

Paul makes mention of Philemon in his prayers – this statement is also used in different contexts – to the various churches he’s written to in his epistles. He doesn’t forget Philemon in his prayers – he mentions him and the churches in prayer.

“Hearing of your love and faith…to all the saints” – to all the Christians – we’re becoming saints and already saints.

Also, remember James, the practice of practical Christianity and sharing/living out your faith. Philemon ministered to the poor, and those in need. John also says the same in his epistles. “Don’t just say to your brother, ‘God bless you’ and go about your own business if you can do something to help.”

The hearts of the saints have been refreshed by Philemon.

v. 8-11 – Paul now pleads for Onesimus – the slave who’s fled from Philemon.

Paul, though he’s an apostle, doesn’t use his authority to COMMAND what he wants Philemon to do. Even here, in the greeting, he DOESN’T say “I’m an apostle of Christ.” (In 9 of 13 of Paul’s letters he wrote this) It’s as if he doesn’t want to force Philemon to do this.

“Isn’t he being a bit manipulative…?”

Well, this is “heavenly” manipulation for the benefit of someone else.

He says, “I’m old, I’m a prisoner, but I’m in chains for Christ… now listen, my ‘son’ (of the faith – one of his converts) is returning home.”

When Onesimus ran away, it’s very likely that he would go to Rome – large crowds, easy to get lost and not found.

But in God’s providence, he met Paul.

Roman customs allowed slaves sanctuary at an altar – even an altar in the home. He was required to provide protection for the slave and try to convince him to return to the master. If the slave refused, he was to sell the slave and send the money back to the master. Here, he’s trying to work on the problem.

Actually, “Onesimus” name = “profitable/useful”. Paul writes, he once was “useless” but now is “useful” (Onesimus).

It’s significant that Paul claims that IN CHRIST the useless person has been made useful. He pleads with Philemon to accept him back on his behalf. Paul says, “Onesimus ran away but is ministering to me, so you are in a sense ministering to me as well.”

Crystal glasses – a slave was carrying them, and dropped one. The master said, “Throw him to the piranhas.” Onesimus surely could have been sentenced to death if caught. The Romans thought that this kind of harsh punishment was necessary to avoid a revolt of the slaves (which eventually did happen under the leadership of Spartacus).

A runaway slave may have been killed or branded with a red F on his forehead (”fugitive”).

When we think about what Paul is doing here, he’s reflecting Christ. Paul himself was converted and brought to realize the grace of God and though he’d done his best to stamp out Christianity, when Christ saved him, his entire life was reversed and changed. Now, he’s interceding on the behalf of a slave.

Perhaps we also are now slaves of one kind or another – and we WERE slaves of this world before we believed. As we prepare for the Lord’s Supper – we can acknowledge our past, slavery to different vices – and we can thank the Lord for buying us by his death and sufferings, and by his resurrection life has changed us.

He has redeemed us, Jesus paid it all.

So let’s be thankful for his setting us free from sin and death and the enemy and bringing us into the kingdom of his Son.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 08 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Love Covers (James 5:9-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Love Covers (James 5:9-20)

02.08

02.08.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Love Covers

James 5:9-20 (Pastor Brian)

9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.


 

Last week, we saw the first 8 verses of James 5 where he wrote a blistering condemnation of those who use money for their own selfish gain – covetousness, building up meaningless wealth, etc…

Following this he wrote to the rest of the Christians who were scattered abroad. They are exhorted to be patient and know that the Lord is coming “soon”. ( “Soon”? – that was 2,000 years ago… but don’t forget in 1/2 Peter “a day with the Lord is a thousand years” so “technically” it’s only been two DAYS…)

Just remember, always the Lord is at hand – ready to return. We have the ability and privilege to praise him.

And don’t forget that the Lord will render to us according to our works.

James 5:7-8 = “be patient” until the coming of the Lord like the farmer is patient waiting for his harvest.

Remember from last time the Psalmist Asaph? He was envious of the wicked as they didn’t seem to receive the same punishment for their sins that normal people would. Yet, he didn’t want to share that with the people of the congregation or they might stumble. But, then he went into the sanctuary and saw “their end” which was completely wasted when they died.

So James exhorts us to be patient.

The harvest doesn’t come straight away, but eventually, it DOES come.

Also, James says, “don’t grumble, don’t complain.” The problem with patience, you see, is that it doesn’t come naturally to those of us who are impatient. If we listen to ourselves truly, we may say, “I’m waiting” but truly we are grumbling. “They are too fast/slow/dumb/pig-headed…” James says, “no no”.

James 4:11-12 “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against his brother speaks against the Law and judges the Law. This makes you no longer a DOER of the Law but a judge of it. There is only ONE Judge, and it isn’t you. Who are you to judge your neighbor?”

  • “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. But rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs

This isn’t a phobia (spiders = arachnophobia). The “fear of the Lord” = a healthy reverence for the Lord, awe of the Lord.

Like when we raise our children, we teach them things to keep them out of danger. Look both ways when you cross the road. This is a healthy kind of fear – it’s common sense.

Yet, many people don’t even have this kind of “common sense” fear of the Lord and they don’t walk in wisdom.

My story:

Don’t pray for patience… or you just might get it. (loads of troubles, struggles, etc to MAKE you patient) – this isn’t necessarily totally true, HOWEVER, once we accept Jesus as Savior, we ARE living in “enemy territory.” The world lies in the lap of Satan.

But nevertheless, “count it all joy whenever you encounter various trials and struggles…” (James) Pray that you’ll grow in patience and grace. Whether we pray for it or not, Lord knows we NEED it. We ought also to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that comes from above is peaceloving, generous, etc.

“Patience is a virtue. Possess it if you can. Seldom in a woman. Never in a man.” (– Irish? proverb)

Look at the prophets as an example of patient suffering. Good thing they didn’t just keep “waiting” for it, but they spoke boldly before kings and rulers and put them right by speaking the word of the Lord before them.

  • Those who listened, were blessed.
  • Those who didn’t, were often not long on the throne – replaced, invaded, etc.

Remember Stephen, he just spoke it out (Acts 7:52) “Which one of the prophets did your fathers NOT persecute?” Those guys (the Sanhedrin) used to boast of their lineage as God’s “chosen people.” But Stephen was pointing out the truth to them – and they stoned him – yet he was emulating the spirit of Christ when he said, “Lord, don’t lay this sin to their charge…(forgive them).”

All throughout the Bible, we see men and women of God who SUFFERED. And yet, they were faithful, and God was faithful to them. As they endured, God was compassionate and merciful to them.

Consider Job.

Probably no greater example of suffering besides Christ himself, but about Job:

He had EVERYTHING a man could want, 10 grown kids and grandkids, riches, loads of servants, etc.

But… one day (in the SAME day) – everything was stolen, killed, burned, destroyed – even his own children were ALL killed instantly by a tornado.

Oh yeah, and THEN he got painful boils covering over his whole body…

And what was his response? Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshiped, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…”

If you go outside and see the sign outside it says “nude” – naked – remember as you go in and out that you brought nothing and shall take nothing.

Satan got mad that Job didn’t curse God.

The book of Job is kind of a contest between God and Satan – Satan came into God’s presence at one point (God allowed it) and said, “Well, of course Job loves you, you’ve blessed him immeasurably…”

Satan took:

  1. his wealth
  2. his health

Inflamed, ulcerous, itching sores, insomnia, worms, hardened, running sick, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, putrid (stinky) breath (no breath mints…), unending internal pain, fever, blackened skin. Wow. Sounds like some really bad medicinal side effects.

Anyone else would have (should have?) cursed God. Even his own wife said, “Come on man, curse God and just die!”

But he was a righteous man – he blessed others, prayed for his family – and he was trying to figure out why these things were happening.

Then Elihu (who observed the whole thing until around chapter 37) says, “I’ve heard all of this, but listen Job, you’ve been justifying yourself by your own righteousness. Humble yourself and trust only in God for your salvation.”

When Job humbled himself, God reversed (and doubled) all that he’d previously had.

But Job had to go through that suffering in order to LEARN those lessons (he couldn’t just be TOLD those things – he had to EXPERIENCE them).

James goes on to say, “Do not swear. Do not make oaths.”

There are times when we may release oaths from our mouths that we may later regret, “I swear I’ll kill/never forgive… that person….”

But that kind of thing brings judgment upon us, and we need to repent of them and ask for a better spirit/attitude toward events and people.

Matthew 5:33-37 “Again you have heard that the ancients have said, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say, make NO vows, not by heaven, nor earth, nor Jerusalem, nor by your head (which are all owned by God), for you cannot make even one hair white nor black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes’ yes, and ‘No’ no. Anything beyond this is evil.”

Yes and No is enough.

v. 13-18

Prayer for the sick:

  1. We aren’t always called to endure suffering for as long as Job was. There are some that the Lord would be more glorified through by healing than by our perseverance.
  2. We can pray about this – call for the elders of the church. (Ask, seek, knock)

Because we live in a fallen world, there are times when we’ll become sick. If anyone IS sick, let them pray for him, anointing with oil.

Depending on your church background denomination, this is still a common practice in places. God is often glorified and faithful when we pray earnestly for our sickness.

James also says, “Confess your faults one to another that you may be healed.”

There are different causes for sin:

  1. World – outside influence
  2. Flesh – internal bitterness, unforgiveness, temptation, etc.

Sometimes, our spiritual illnesses are reflected in a physical way. Sometimes when a person repents of their sin, they become physically healed. (Not ALL the time, but this is often the case). God brings healing to spirit, soul, and body when we humble ourselves, confess, repent, and turn from those things.

This kind of humility is remarkable and God answers it in a remarkable way – with healing of one kind or another.

Don’t just confess to anyone – but think of someone who will have compassion on you and encourage you. Recognize as well that “we all sin in many ways.”

Also, remember the prophet Elijah – “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much…”

When you read through 1/2 Kings, we can see that Elijah had times of great faith and times of failure. He had times of selflessness and times of selfishness. He was a man like us, but when he prayed that rain would not fall on the land for 3.5 years and then prayed again later that it would rain, God heard his prayer.

Elijah himself was NOT powerful, but he had faith in the God who IS powerful.

God honored his servant by answering his prayer.

v. 19-20

James speaks about being aware/concerned for the lives of others. When we pray for others, those who have strayed from the truth ( “prone to wander, Lord I feel it…” ) and turn them back to the faith, that will cover over a multitude of sins.

When God forgives, he forgets (He removes your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalms)). He COULD remember, but he CHOOSES not to.

Spurgeon:

Struggling with lack of receiving forgiveness?

“God’s non-remembrance of sin”

spurgeongems.org

Well worth the effort to read it.

Quotes 4 Scriptures – God gives 4 witnesses in Scripture:

  1. Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake and will not remember your sins.”
  2. Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin NO MORE.”
  3. (Let those words NO MORE echo in the chambers of your heart and get its point across)
  4. Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember NO MORE.” (Satan would omit that NO MORE)
  5. Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins I will remember NO MORE.”

When we counsel someone to come back to the Lord, we don’t remind them of their sins, but remind them of these verses that God would remember their sins NO MORE.

This is a good place to conclude today’s sermon and the Book of James.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 01 / 2015
  • Comments Off on More Warnings (James 5:1-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

More Warnings (James 5:1-20)

02.01

02.01.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

More Warnings

James 5:1-20 (Pastor Brian)

Warning to Rich Oppressors

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

Patience in Suffering

7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.


 

Last time, James gave warnings, and here again, more warnings – straight from the heart – no “beating around the bush” – no room for any excuses.

We must not be partial, must not withhold love from others. Our outer conflicts come from our inner conflicts – wars, fights, murders, adultery, proceed from our own hearts.

These conflicts come from an unsurrendered heart.

Also, don’t forget the “sin of presumption” saying, “Oh, of course we can go and do this or that because I PRESUME that everything will go smoothly and the Lord will bless it.” We must rather pray, “if the Lord wills…” because the Lord guides a man’s way.

James 5 – scolding the rich.

James 4 – “you kill” (metaphorically) – he’s writing to Christians abroad – this is what he sees in their hearts. It’s the spirit of murder in a person when in hostility toward another person. “If you harbor hatred in your heart, you harbor murder – without repentance, it may one day manifest into murder.” James here is warning the Christians against this kind of spirit.

James 5 – covetousness and speaking to the rich. Sounds like he has some real anger issues against the rich. Why?

Should we be embittered against the rich?

Not necessarily, there’s nothing inherently evil about money – it’s just a THING. “The (LOVE OF) money is the root of all evil.”

We must own the money, not allow the money to own us. We should use money and love people but most of us use people and love money…

James is writing here to rich people in general – later he will speak to the “brethren.”

These are practical and prophetic sayings to the rich Christians. This was written before the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus in 70 AD. At that time, there were no rich Jews remaining. Everything they had stowed up for themselves was gone.

Lesson: Stockpiling money isn’t God’s will for your life.

It is good to have savings, but not to just stockpile and do nothing with it.

Story of a man in Oregon – rode around on a bike, looked like a beggar, picked up cans and took them to the stores to get bottles. When he died, it was found that he had $10,000,000 and he’d never used it. He even got free meals from the town in which he lived at the soup kitchen.

That money did NO good for anyone, even himself until after he died.

Bible “The wealth of the wicked is stored up for … the righteous?”

Wealth is often used as leverage to gain more wealth. Millionaires may hire people at minimum wage and not actually pay them.

Microsoft for example, for 9 years, hired “perma-temps” which were “permanent full-time employees” who were classified as “part-timers” – so they worked the same as the full-timers with NONE of the benefits…

Eventually, they sued Microsoft, and MS needed to pay.

Ever encountered that? Employ them as full-time, but give the pay/benefits of part-time.

Leviticus : “The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you until morning.”

The men needed their wages – they needed to LIVE.

This wealth was not only used as leverage, but also as power?

Rich criminals sometimes get off completely free, but the poor get blamed. Truth? Not necessarily. The best Lawyers = “truth” and freedom for many.

Thank God there will someday be JUSTICE.

Leviticus: “You shall show impartial justice – don’t be partial to the poor, don’t defer to the rich.”

Illustration from Billy Graham:

A group of the world’s most successful financiers met in a hotel in Chicago? in 1920s. CEOs, Presidents of companies, Presidents of banks, heads of monopolies, etc.

Collectively, these men controlled more wealth than in the entire US Treasury.

For years, newspapers had been singing their praises and encouraging the youth of the US to follow suit.

But 25 years later, many died BROKE – on borrowed money, convicted felons, and committed suicide (3 of them).

They’d made money their god, and when their god fell, they fell.

When they lost their money, they lost their gods, they lost their souls, they lost their lives.

Their end was shocking.

We all have a little bit of envy of those who are better off than us – not even just celebrities – next-door neighbors…

Asaph in the OT, who wrote the Psalms wrote:

Psalm 72:

2-3 “As for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped, for I was envious as … I saw the prosperity of the wicked…

“They are not plagued like other men…

“Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence…
“For I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning. I may have become a stumbling block to others if I spoke thus.

“But then, I saw their end… destruction. Destroyed in a moment, utterly swept away by sudden terrors…

It’s easy to look as someone TODAY and be envious, but if we consider their TOMORROW, we’d be better to be patient waiting for the day of the Lord.

  • Do you invest in the world’s system?
  • Or do you invest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

2 Peter “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief when the world and its works will be burned up…”

The hope that the rich are holding onto will be destroyed – they will be without power, without prestige, without friends, without a checkbook.

But for those who have been trusting in the Lord, will find themselves to be very rich – eternal peace, life, love, joy.

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you or persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you on account of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven will be great. For this is how they persecuted the prophets as well.”

What about those who are wealthy?

If they are good STEWARDS of the wealth that GOD has given to them, they will be well off.

Luke “Make yourselves purses which do not wear out – treasures in heaven – where moths do not destroy. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Derick Prince:

  • “Yes, trust the Lord, have enough, provide for your family, and have enough to bless others as well.”
  • “If he can get it through you, he can get it TO you. But why would he give it to you if it stopped at you?”

The world revolves around money, but we don’t have to.

Be PATIENT – like the farmer who works hard NOW for the crop and the promise that is to come. Wait for the heavenly reward that is not subject to corruption and destruction.

Let’s meditate on this Word and pray.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

  • Jan 25 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Asking Amiss (James 4:1-17)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Asking Amiss (James 4:1-17)

01.25

01.25.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

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Asking Amiss

James 4:1-17 (Pastor Brian)

Submit Yourselves to God

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battlewithin you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.


 

Different forms of wisdom:

  1. Consider “Worldly Wisdom” – like the character in John Bunyan’s book “The Pilgrim’s Progress”
  2. Also there is the “fleshly wisdom” from our flesh.
  3. And there is “demonic wisdom” – tarot cards, horoscope – just as often fake as real.

Remember in Acts, the slave girl who followed Paul and talked against them. Eventually, Paul was jailed and beaten, but the power of God was shown as he was freed.

We should not be looking into things that are contrary to God’s will – nothing “occult.”

Derick Prince “If you sup with the devil, use a very long spoon. But the best thing to do is to NOT sup with the devil at all.”

Anything dealing with the occult ought to be repented of and given to God.

Peace is sown in peace by those who want a righteous result.

Want wisdom? Pray to God – that’s the best way, the safest way to gain wisdom – “for God gives freely to all who ask without finding fault” (earlier in James).

We must not be partial, not hypocritical to our brothers and sisters in Christ (or potential bros and sis’ in Christ).

We must not blame God for our own faults – saying, “I was just born this way…” No, when we sin, we must not blame God – he’s provided the means of grace and must humble ourselves, repent, say, “I really can’t do this alone – I need you to help me break this thing in my life.”

After all this kind of exhortation, in chapter 4, James really hones in on the Christians in their scattered homes throughout the world.

He wants them to be “lights” though he knows they often aren’t due to pressures and forces internal and external.

In v.1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

That was the root cause of all the conflicts. Every source of conflict has the same cause – Pleasures waging war against their Members (members of the body of Christ) – i.e. someone is putting their own “headoney” (pleasures/lusts – headiness) before others.

This is COMMON among the human population – pleasure is … pleasurable. “If it feels good, do it.” – You know… Hitler might have “felt good” but it wasn’t RIGHT. Just because it “feels good” or “everybody is doing it” doesn’t make it RIGHT or something that YOU need to partake of.

Galatians “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh – for these are in opposition to each other.”

For the Christian, there is a battle – we must acknowledge it, confess it, admit to God that we need his help.

v. 2 “You do not have because you don’t ask.”

Sometimes we don’t ask because we don’t expect. Sometimes we don’t ask because they are sinful motives – we ask for the wrong thing.

The answer? Wait on the Lord, pray, he will give guidance. Many Scriptures say the Lord will guide us if we actively seek him. But we must also walk in ways that are pleasing to him (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The price for our lives has been paid by the blood of Christ. We are not our own, we belong to Christ therefore.

  • 1 Cor 15:32 “If the dead are not raised, then let us eat, and drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die.” But as Christians – we KNOW there is a resurrection and life everlasting. We’ve received the gift of eternal life and that gift is pure and clean and wholesome having received new life.
  • James 4:4-6 “Friendship with the world is enmity (hostility) with God.”

The lust of the flesh, the pride of life lies in the lap of Satan – but as Christians, we’ve been redeemed from that system. We are now walking in the Spirit and being led by him. GOD is jealous of the Spirit he’s put in us – he “jealously desires the Spirit” – in the OT, God is a “jealous God.” Why? He wants to bless us, keep us, and he doesn’t want us to be controlled by the world. He wants us to walk in the Spirit and overcome the temptations from without and within.

If we are patient, we will overcome.

  • Psalm 32 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart… trust in him and he will do it.”

These “desires” are given to you by God – no longer worldly pleasures, these are the “rivers of his desires”.

God will give a greater grace to us as well, when we HUMBLE ourselves before the Lord.

Let us humble ourselves and acknowledge his “greater grace”. James says, “grieve, be sorrowful over your sin, but also trust God to cleanse and heal” – there is a worldly sorrow that leads to death (Judas’ sorrow), but there is also a godly sorrow (Peter’s sorrow) that allows for full restoration of our relationship with God.

So the secret = be willing to bring your desires to the Lord “If this is YOUR will, DO it – if not, no matter how much I want it, don’t do it.”

Submit to God, resist the devil, and the devil will flee. BUT… “Too many Christians are submitting to the devil and resisting God…” (Derick Prince)

  • “Cleanse your hands” – repent of outward actions.
  • “Cleanse your hearts you double-minded” – repent of inward sins. Have you ever decided on something and then flip-flopped within 5 minutes? Yup, we all have. ALL.

The solution? Confess your faults one to another that you might be healed. Are you struggling with a secret sin? Find someone you can trust – bring it into the LIGHT, repent. Satan works in the dark, and wants to keep you in the dark. The longer you remain in the dark, the longer you remain in Satan’s domain and bondage. Come out in the LIGHT! Bring it to a brother or sister in Christ and this multiplies the effectiveness of your repentance.

God may want for you what you want as well – but as we submit to him and allow him to direct our decisions, we are doing well.

Even Jesus prayed “Lord, TAKE this cup from me! Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” Remember that Jesus is our BEST example – follow his example.

James speaks of seeking wisdom and finding it through prayer.

v. 11-12 – “Do not slander one another.”

(Don’t let your tongue run away with your words – judging, condemning, gossiping – that’s SIN – it’s harmful, it’s prideful. Don’t you want to point out someone else’s sins? That’s pride.)

Be careful of judging and slandering others – this is breaking the Commandments.

Is this to say that we are never to mention the bad things that people do? How can we teach others about sin? Warn our children away from the wrong behaviors.

Greek scholar: Spearos Zoheitte?

“The love for one another refers to the PERSON and not to the ACTIONS of the person.” It’s not wrong to say, “He did this and it was a lie.” But it IS wrong to say, “He IS a liar!!”

If you point a finger, how many are pointing back at you?

Pointing fingers = judging, condemning, judging the PERSON.

Rather, do it in a loving way and judge the ACTION.

Remember, you “catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

“Here is Love, vast as the ocean” – are we bathing in the ocean of his love? Not only beautiful and wonderful, but also salty. If you get in salt water with open wounds… OUCH!

The Dead Sea = the saltiest place on earth. TONS of salt. The guide warned us – “if you want to go in, make sure you don’t have ANY cuts or scratches” but WOW – you could FEEL that salt where you’d shaved.

Not only does it hurt, but it also purifies.

Are we bathing in the ocean of God’s love? There may be some salt that would cause pain and irritation in our spirits, but it’s also cleansing.

Paul also says, “Let your speech be salty.” Cleansing, purifying, even though it may sting.

Don’t judge the Law BY not judging other PEOPLE (actions are on limits though).

God’s Law is holy, righteous, perfect, YET, we cannot keep it. Our flesh rebels against the Law of God.

Corinthians “The Law is perfect, written on stone, but those under it couldn’t keep it because their hearts were also stone. Therefore, let your hearts be changed to flesh (by God.”

Story:

In prison, a man had found the Lord, had been saved, got out of prison and went to church, and saw the commandments on the wall and thought “Wow, I’ve really broken a bunch of those.” But the Holy Spirit told him, “No, those aren’t commands any more, those are PROMISES.”

  • “Don’t steal” becomes “You WON’T steal because my Spirit is in you.”
  • “Don’t lie” becomes “You WON’T lie because my Spirit is in you.”

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light…. if you abide in me and my Words abide in you, ask, and it will be given you.”

James also speaks against presumption:

“I’m totally going to … 5 years later… 10 years later… 20 years later.”

Actually, you don’t KNOW what will happen tomorrow. – Say rather, “If the Lord wills, we will…”

Presumption in another sense:

“Eh, I can sin in this or that way BECAUSE God has to forgive me.” Sin of presumption.

In the same way:

“We will blah, blah, blah, and hope that God blesses is.”

Illustration:

Sin of presumption:

A preacher had a fine dog, but there was a problem. Sometimes, things would go missing in his house – and he’d find the dog later chewing it up. Then, out in the garden under a bush, he found all manner of things.

It was like the Lord was saying to him, “Many Christians are like that. They do things that they think others won’t notice or bother.” But how many things have YOU hidden out there under the bush? That’s presumption.

We need to ask the Lord to help us NOT to do those things. Sometimes we allow things in our lives – grudges, a look on the Internet – and we need to repent of those things.

Remember the song “It’s your beauty, Lord, that makes us stand in silence.” And we also need silence in our lives to hear from him.

If we have things in our lives that are contrary to God’s nature, hidden sins, unrepentant sins, let’s confess those now before God and go from this place rejoicing in his greater grace and mercy for us.

“It’s your beauty Lord, that leads us to repentance.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 11 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Whence Our Wisdom? (James 3:13-4:10)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Whence Our Wisdom? (James 3:13-4:10)

01.11

01.11.2015-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Whence our Wisdom?

James 3:13-4:10 (Pastor Brian)

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition,there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.


 

— No recording – cable is broken today —


 

Christians are not to expect rosy, perfect lives, we are to expect conflicts that Jesus and others told us to expect – but THROUGH them, our faith grows, and BY it, we overcome the world.

We trust Christ and he blesses our obedience.

James talks about the trials and how our faith is strengthened through the trials. He speaks of the rich man and poor man (the rich in faith). In fact, usually it’s the rich who oppress and persecute and sue.

Don’t set your goals on this world, but on heavenly riches.

Some Bible versions have the same word for trials and temptations.

But, temptations come from WITHIN, trials come from WITHOUT.

We have been given new hearts, new spirits, but we still need to deal with the flesh. But still, 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus said, “From within, from the heart comes greed, lust, murder, robbery, etc.”

God’s gifts are given generously to us if we ask for wisdom – God grants wisdom generously, lavishly, without reproach (without finding fault).

I struggle with condemnation, judgment, self condemnation and self judgment. “The Accuser” (Satan) of the brethren accuses us and pushes these things to the forefronts of our minds. But the Lord gives us grace and advocates (speaks for) us against the enemy.

“If Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

Listen to my Advocate – Jesus, he says, “NOT GUILTY” – he gives without finding fault. He’s not ignorant of our failings and sins, but he still provides the means by which we can be forgiven. God gives lavishly – we must be open to receive from him and we must have faith to receive that which we ask for (wisdom).

James reminds us of the holiness of God and his word – 1/2 Timothy 4:21? “The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword…”

Where’s the GOOD seat? Do you say to someone “Hey sit over here by my feet”? God wants us to treat others equally and fairly – but we need the spirit of God and his sensitivity to do that.

Faith vs. Works.

  • We are SAVED by faith.
  • Evidence OF our salvation must be visible by works.
  • We are not saved by works – by the things we do. John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him  shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
  • We may HEAR the Word of God.
  • We may FEEL the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
  • But we still have the CHOICE to accept or reject that salvation offered freely by God.
  • Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, THE Life.

OK, so you’ve accepted his salvation by faith. Now what?

Look at your testimony, and give it! “I’m not the man I once was. I don’t do the things I once did. Yes, I still fall, but there is ONGOING IMPROVEMENT – I am DAILY being renewed and remade in the likeness of Jesus, my Savior.”

Now, on to works. “Do SUCH good works that other men praise God because of you.” (Even in your workplace, home, community, society, etc)

Then, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers” because you will be judged more harshly.

Ex: “God says in his Word ‘You shall PROSPER!’” So how can we not believe it??” (Actually that verse says, “So that your SOUL shall prosper.” Get the soul prospering first before pursuing fleshly, worldly things.

Some of the things that James speaks of here (probably MOST of these things) were actually going on in the church at that time. There were people who dreamed of riches without God’s will, there were those who dreamed of being teachers, there were envious people, bad tongues, etc.

Bad tongues.

“All creatures of the air, land, and sea can be tamed and have been tamed by man, but no one can tame the tongue. Consider what a large forest may be set ablaze by a small spark. The tongue also is a spark and may set the whole world on fire and poison those who hear it – when we are critical and complaining.”

Remember this: “Cast all your cares on the Lord because he cares for you.” (Read Psalms for some great care-casting).

Whence is our Wisdom? From where does our wisdom come?

What do you think of when you hear “wisdom”? A gnarled old professor? Well, he MAY be wise, but merely HAVING Knowledge (in your head) is not wisdom. The APPLICATION of that Knowledge is wisdom.

There are three kinds of Wisdom:

  1. Godly
  2. Worldly
  3. Demonic

Some people BOAST of their wisdom. They want people to NOTICE just how wise they are. But if they don’t have “the fear of the Lord”, they don’t have true wisdom.

Proverbs: “For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

What is this fear?

Being in AWE of God. We want to preserve his presence.

Some people are “wise” in a way, but it’s not godly wisdom:

  1. Earthly wisdom = knowledge used to your own advances. If you rip me off, I’ll sue the pants off of you. I’ll blackmail/take advantage of you. Spam you, Phish you, bully you, etc.
  2. Soul wisdom = intuition, feelings, etc.
  3. Demonic wisdom = deception

People are constantly looking for the truth in various religions and ways of life – all the while IGNORING THE Truth.

Here’s a testimony I’d like to share with you. This man goes out every week to Manchester and hands out these testimonies.

“Barry” was seeking wisdom in all the wrong places, but the Lord had mercy on him and led him to Christ. One man received this testimony and was so intrigued that he wants “Barry” to write more.

“Don’t talk to me about miracles. Show me one, and I’ll believe you. Christians can talk all day about the Bible’s ‘miracles’ but they can’t show you one. Obviously, the Bible is a tale of fairies, and has nothing to do with the real world – pain, failures, misery – and we all paper it over with fake smiles and try to make a crazy kind of life that we must make our home.

“Most of the above is true in the opinion of many – but here’s my story. This is the story of better and expecting better things. I’m sure many in France are hoping for better things now.

“My name is Barry. When I was young, a hippy, 60s generation, I was broken down, degraded, lawless, self-hating, delusional LSD tripper, occult-dabbler. As I ended this period, I was dying, extremely sick, and tormented. I was irredeemably insane. I was obese, and had sores all over my body. All who met me saw something so evil within me that they had to look away.

(Another friend of my was sitting in a cafe and said, “God, you’re so good, you can save anyone.” In walked Barry and the man said, “Maybe not him…”)

April 1972 – I knew this day was to be my last – I could not endure even one more tormented life. I was nocturnal, had dreams of parades of horror.

“Margaret was a young woman living near me and had been praying for me. Whenever she entered my room, an unnatural peace entered my room – and when she left, the peace left.

Final morning. Why should she care so for the wretch I’ve become? At least, I must go say goodbye to her. I went to her house and she told me and said, ‘God spoke to me and said you’ll be freed TODAY.’ I couldn’t believe her, but I asked her to pray for my soul.

“She was young, 24, married, had only been a Christian for 6-months. She prayed, ‘Jesus, I know you can heal him NOW.’ I suddenly convulsed and thought that I’d die immediately. The muscles of my face spasmed into grimaces of evil expressions.

“Margaret later told me that had even the heavyweight champion of the world had been there they’d have been ripped to pieces.

“Suddenly, I noticed that someone else was taking over my body – then a horrible wind rushed from my mouth for 1 minute – I thought I was surely witnessing my own death. I slumped to the floor and heard a death rattle coming from my throat.

“This is my miraculous story of rescue from demon possession – I don’t know how many there were, but at that time they were all cast out. That night, I slept my first peaceful night for 3 years.

Aug 25, 1972 – I became a child of the Living God. Jesus had risen triumphant from his grave, and likewise, I now was raised from my grave. Yes, really, that is the grace that I stand in today – I’m a Christian now and there is nothing special about me, BUT by crying out to Jesus, I’d given him permission to reach out to me and rescue me from the depths of my worst, most demon-possessed state.

“God is the Living God, and while he hates the SIN, he died for US – to lift our penalty from us and place it on Jesus for us that we might not perish but have everlasting life.

“All this is the gospel truth. Despite many failings, I’ll never forget this truth, this good news. I can guarantee that if you ask Jesus to reveal himself to you, he WILL – he cannot and will not leave your prayer alone.

“Joel/Job? And it shall come to pass, that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thank you for reading this account of my life.

Barry Jones.


He’s handed out about 12,000 to people individually. He doesn’t know what effect that may have.

The same need that Barry had is the same need that every one of us, our families, our friends, our enemies need. Are you manifesting works that prove that you’re saved by faith?

God says, “Open up my WORD. Read the Bible. I’ll speak to you through the Word, other people, dreams, circumstances, etc, etc.” God is reaching out to you – he wants YOU to experience HIM more fully – experience his peace, joy, salvation, life change.

Even as a Christian, do you know THIS? Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (Jeonju), Judea (Iksan), and Samaria (Gunsan), and to the ends of the earth (Korea – your home country).

Make THIS your New Year’s Resolution!

How many times have we HEARD the Word and NOT acted?

Please don’t read this as a call to “religion” – it’s NOT. “Religion” is a hopeless attempt to satisfy a God we cannot know in a life we cannot live. God calls you to a RELATIONSHIP – a RETURN to your loving Creator.

At the beginning of this year, if you’ve never accepted Jesus, BEGIN the journey (Sola Fide – by faith alone).

But if you’ve BEGUN the journey, it is no longer Sola Fide – by faith alone – your faith must be SHOWN and ACTED upon. WORKS PROVE your salvation. Consider all the examples of FAITH IN ACTION that James gives throughout the book. Rahab, Abraham (not always a shining example of faith), – but in his journey in faith, he OBEYED God (faith in action) and God blessed him.

Let’s pray.

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So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen