:::: MENU ::::

Posts Tagged / mercy

  • Oct 25 / 2020
  • Comments Off on God’s Great Mercy (Genesis 9:12-17)
Pastor Kang, Sermons, Who is God?

God’s Great Mercy (Genesis 9:12-17)

Tithes and Offerings

Send to: NongHyup bank 351-0158-2802-13 Song Ki-Joong

<God’s Great Mercy>

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” 17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Genesis 9:12-17

0. What determines our happiness?

Today, we will share Genesis 9 with the title of God’s Mercy.

Everyone wants to live happily.

And people usually think that happy life is a successful life.

So we study hard and work hard in order to succeed.

But will success really bring us happiness?

There is an interesting story about this.

Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard University, was curious about this question.

He studied and surveyed many people using a measurement referred to as a happiness score in order to solve this problem.

And What was the conclusion to his question: “Will people truly be happy if they succeed?”

Gilbert says that even if something very good happened to a person, their happiness score eventually returned to its original state over time.

For example, in one particular case,  a man’s original happiness score was 5 points and he won the lottery one day. Immediately, his happiness score increased to 10 points.

But six months later, when Gilbert again measured the person’s happiness score, it had returned to the original score of five. When questioned about this result, the man confessed that he felt like he had wasted the money or even thought he suffered misery through it.

At the same time, On the other hand,

Gilbert also discovered that even if something very bad happened a person, their happiness score also returned to its original state over time.

In another example, a person’s original happiness score was 6 points.

One day, he was involved in a major traffic accident and suffered a serious injury that led to a lasting disability. His happiness score quickly fell to one point.

But a few years later, when Gilbert measured this person’s happiness score again, he was surprisinged to find that it had been restored to six.

Gilbert argued in this study that good or bad things have nothing to do with our happiness, except in cases of extreme poverty. His argument is ‘It is simply important to raise our original happiness score.’

You see, If your original happiness score is high, you can live happily and be satisfied even in an otherwise bland and ordinary life. But if your original happiness score is low, you will not be happy nor satisfied even in an extraordinary life.

There are many ways to increase the original happiness score of each individual.

But two of the most effective ways are through two different activities. Let me share them with you now.

One of the activities that has been scientifically proven to increase your happiness score is exercise.

Regular and moderate intensity exercise enhances self-regulation and positivity,  which leads to higher happiness scores.

Even if you feel “too busy” these days, everyone has the time to take a daily 15-minute walk, even if it means parking your car a little farther away or walking to get a coffee after lunch!

This activity will make you feel better and help increase your original happiness score!

But do you know what the best way to increase your happiness score is?

It is keeping a gratitude journal!

By Writing down the things you currently have and enjoy, the kindnesses you have received from others, the little challenges you have overcome and accomplishments you have achieved, you will be reflecting on all the good things in your life.

That way, you will begin to realize that you are happier than you think.

If you keep a gratitude journal every day, your basic happiness score may grow very high!

In fact, it is very difficult for a person who does not know God to find or express gratitude.

A person like that thinks that all the things he appreciates are only the result of their own efforts, and for that kind of person, everything in the world seems like a coincidence.

But do you know what? God gives “true happiness” to those who know him and thank him.

A person who praises what God has done for him or her and appreciates God does not easily lose the happiness to that God has given, even if suffering comes.

1. The Story of the First Son (the Prodigal from a different Perspective)

This is the story of a family.

The Members of this family include a  father, a mother, a first son, and a second son.

These family members all lived sincere lives, except for their first son.

One day, the first son told his father.

“Father, I want to study hard, give me money to go to the university!”

His father gave him money to study.

But quickly spent all of that money to play with his friends.

Another day, the first son told his mother.

“Mother, I want to get a driver’s license like my friends, give me some money!”

His mother gave him money to get a driver’s license.

But he again just wasted it all to play with his friends.

The second son, who saw all this, went to his parents and said, 

“Listen, mom and dad, I don’t want you to give my brother money from now on, because he just wastes it all to play with his friends.”

His mother answered.

“I understand, but one day your brother will come back the right way.”

The second son was angry and told his mother.

“Our family’s economic situation is not good, and how long are you going to believe him?”

This time his father answered.

“Son, I am sad for your brother, but I cannot give up on him because he is my precious child like you.”

Now, if you were the second son, could you forgive your older brother?

Could you understand your parents’ feelings?

Perhaps we will mostly say “No”.

If my parents give my foolish brother a second chance every time, it will be difficult for me to forgive him because he always lets them down.

But in order to understand this story better, we need to first think about the parents’ feelings and the first son’s self-interest.

You see, The parents would have hoped that both of their sons would grow up to be productive and well-adjusted members of society, making themselves and the people around them happy.

But can you recognize the self-interest of the first son?

In fact, He had no interest in his parents’ expectations for him, and he would rather spend all his time and money playing around foolishly each day.

2. The people in the age of Noah

Genesis 6:5

The LORD saw how great man`s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

Before God sent the floods to the earth, the people were like the first son.

God wanted the people to obey his Word, in order to be blessed and to live happily.

But they were not interested in God’s will at all.

They only lived for their desires.

Now consider this. If your teenage child committed a small crime, what would you do about it?

At first, you might try to correct their behavior through dialogue.

But, what if your child’s behavior did not change?

In that case, you would strongly reprimand them.

You, as a parent, would be able to see things clearly, and realize that it is necessary for your child’s future to reflect on and represent of their crimes.

Now consider the relationship between God and The people in the age of Noah in the same way as the relationship between parents and children.

God always provided the best to his children.

But the people did not appreciate God’s grace, but went along on the path of sin.

God tried to talk with them, but Noah was the only one who listened to God.

God, as a parent, could no longer look upon the sins of his children.

The people’s sins were worse than we can imagine, and their sins filled the earth.

They no longer even tried to pretend to listen to God.

In the end, God strongly reprimanded people with the “judgment of the flood”.

3. The Rainbow

Whenever I read Genesis 9, I remember my elementary school days.

My parents were busy at the time, so my grandmother took care of me.

My grandmother gave me an allowance to buy snacks before I went to school every day.

But one day, I went to the arcade after school and spent all that money.

Later, my grandmother found out about it. She told me not to go to the arcade again, but I did not listen to her because it was so fun.

Eventually, my grandmother came to the arcade and caught me red handed, playing games, and enjoying myself. She reprimanded me strongly and brought me home.

My grandmother thought I could not fix things myself and said,

“I’ll hit you with a wooden rod now, roll up your pants, and you’ll never go back to the arcade again!”

My grandmother’s wooden rod hit me hard on the leg, again and again, and my legs became red and swollen.

I closed my eyes and felt pain.

But Suddenly, her wooden rod stopped hitting me, and the surroundings became quiet.

I looked around because I was curious about what happened.

My grandmother was crying and sobbing.

She had thrown the wooden rod away.

Then she hugged me tightly and wept.

I haven’t been to an arcade since.

Not because I was afraid of being reprimanded by my grandmother again, but because I did not want her to ever again be sad and ashamed because of me.

When good Parents reprimand their children, in the end, their heart is the same as the heart of God who knows there is so much better available to them if only they obey.

Genesis 8:21

The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Here is a commentary of the German Biblical Council on this passage:

According to Verse 21, because people are sinners by nature, there appears to be no other solution, so God seems resigned to his decision.

The fact that sin was the basis for judgment in Genesis 6:5 is now the basis for giving up further judgment.

But the promise not to judge mankind in the future is only made possible through the actions of Noah, a person who God saw as ‘just’.

God knew that only through judgment, people could not be changed.

So God acknowledged the evil of the people, and pitied them, yet also gave them mercy.

Genesis 8:16~17

16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you — the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground — so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”

The covenant of God with Noah, which appeared in the shape of the rainbow, is different from the covenant he later makes with Abraham (in Genesis 17).

The Rainbow Covenant does not grant any obligation to the person who is it’s recipient.

God is also constrained by his promises through the rainbow, which is evidence of the covenant.

The Rainbow was not given that man would remember God’s covenant with them, but that God himself would remember the covenant he made with then!

4. Our Stories

We heard “The Story of the First Son” in the first half of the sermon.

This son behaved as a liar who always let his parents down.

If you were the second son, could you forgive him?

Our first answer was “no”.

The amazing thing is that the first son we denounced and the people in the age of Noah are just like us.

Because we often have no interest in God’s will for us, and we live for our greed.

These stories show us that we can’t see ourselves properly.

Nevertheless, there may be someone who says, ‘I am different from the first son’.

Is the second son who criticized the first son righteous?

No, he’s not!

He is just like his brother.

If the second son really understood his parents’ hearts, he would never have told his parents his complaints about his brother.

Rather, he would have found a way to comfort his parents or help his brother in silence.

What should we do if we have a complaint about someone else?

Don’t say anything directly to him, pray for him first, and try to understand God’s heart for him!

This is the attitude of respect Noah had toward our father, God.

5. Jesus Christ (God’s great mercy)

Genesis 8:20

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.

At that moment, God promised to remain forever and continuously responsible for the world he created in response to Noah’s offering of gratitude.

This foreshadows God’s plan for salvation for all people in advance.

It is a plan for salvation through Israel, the people who have been specifically chosen as instruments of God’s blessing to all nations.

And in fact, God’s salvation has come through Israel in one man, Jesus Christ, though whom God overcomes the consequences of sin and death.

Romans 5:18~19

18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Amen.

God had long ago planned to save mankind, including us, through Jesus.

God knew that mankind could not be righteous in and of itself because all men are born as sinners.

We were born as sinners, and would live our lives as sinners and die as sinners if not for his great mercy.

So, just as our God made a covenant by the rainbow to preserve the created world through, he also made a covenant by Jesus Christ as the hope of salvation and eternal life for us, sinners.

All we have to do is believe in and obey the Word of God, and put our faith in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.

Jesus is an amazing example of God’s heart for us!

Jesus is the great mercy of God towards us!

Jesus is the eternal life for us!


<하나님의 자비>

12 하나님이 이르시되 내가 나와 너희와 및 너희와 함께 하는 모든 생물 사이에 대대로 영원히 세우는 언약의 증거는 이것이니라 13 내가 내 무지개를 구름 속에 두었나니 이것이 나와 세상 사이의 언약의 증거니라 14 내가 구름으로 땅을 덮을 때에 무지개가 구름 속에 나타나면 15 내가 나와 너희와 및 육체를 가진 모든 생물 사이의 내 언약을 기억하리니 다시는 물이 모든 육체를 멸하는 홍수가 되지 아니할지라 16 무지개가 구름 사이에 있으리니 내가 보고 나 하나님과 모든 육체를 가진 땅의 모든 생물 사이의 영원한 언약을 기억하리라 17 하나님이 노아에게 또 이르시되 내가 나와 땅에 있는 모든 생물 사이에 세운 언약의 증거가 이것이라 하셨더라

창세기 9:12-17

0. 무엇이 우리의 행복을 결정하는가?

 오늘, 우리는 <하나님의 자비>라는 제목으로 창세기 9장을 나누도록 하겠습니다.

사람들은 누구나 행복하게 살기를 원합니다.

그리고 사람들은 보통, 행복한 삶은 성공한 삶이라고 생각합니다.

그래서 우리는 성공하기 위해 열심히 공부하고, 또 열심히 일합니다.

그런데 정말 성공하면 행복해 질까요?

이에 대한 흥미로운 이야기가 하나 있습니다.

하버드 대학교 심리학 교수인 Daniel Gilbert는 평소 이 질문에 대해 궁금했습니다.

그는 이 문제를 해결하기 위해 직접 많은 사람들을 연구하고 조사하였습니다.

“성공하면 사람들은 행복해질까?”라는 이 질문에 대한 결론은 무엇이었을까요?

Gilbert는 한 사람에게 아주 좋은 일이 일어났다고 해도, 시간이 지나면 그 사람의 행복 점수가 원래대로 돌아온다고 이야기 합니다.

어떤 사람의 고유한 행복 점수가 5점 이었습니다.

이 사람은 어느 날, 복권에 당첨되어 행복 점수가 10점이 되었습니다.

그러나 6개월 후, 다시 그 사람의 행복 점수를 측정해보니, 다시 원래 점수인 5점으로 돌아왔습니다.

그가 돈을 낭비하거나, 그 돈으로 인해 불행을 겪지 않았는데도 말입니다.

또 다른 한편,

그는 한 사람에게 아주 나쁜 일이 일어났다고 해도, 시간이 지나면 그 사람의 행복 점수가 원래대로 돌아온다고 이야기 합니다.

어떤 사람의 고유한 행복 점수가 6점이었습니다.

이 사람은 어느 날, 교통사고를 당해 심각한 장애를 얻게 되었습니다.

그래서 이 사람의 행복 점수는 1점이 되었습니다.

그러나 몇 년 후 이 사람의 행복 점수를 측정해보니, 놀랍게도 그의 행복 점수는 다시 6점으로 회복되었습니다.

Gilbert는 이 연구를 통해, 극도의 빈곤을 제외한다면, 좋은 일이나 나쁜 일이 우리의 행복과 큰 관계가 없다고 말합니다.

그는 단지 ‘우리가 가지고 있는 원래의 행복 점수를 높이는 것이 중요하다’ 라고 말합니다.

만약 당신의 고유한 행복 점수가 높다면, 평범한 일상에서도 행복하고 만족스럽게 살 수 있다는 것입니다.

각 개인의 고유한 행복 점수를 높일 수 있는 방법은 다양합니다.

그러나 그 중 가장 효과적인 두 가지 활동이 있습니다.

그 방법들을 알고 싶으신가요? 제가 지금 그것들을 여러분과 나누겠습니다!

둘 중 하나는 “운동” 입니다. 규칙적이고 적당한 강도의 운동은 자기조절능력과 긍정성을 강화시켜, 행복 점수를 높여줍니다.

당신이 요즘 너무 바쁘다면, 매일 15분의 산책을 하십시오!

그 활동이 당신의 기분을 좋게 해주고, 당신의 원래의 행복 점수를 높여 줄 것입니다!

그렇다면 행복 점수를 높일 수 있는 최고의 방법은 무엇일까요? 

그것은 “매일 감사 일기 적기” 입니다.

내가 가지고 있는 물건, 다른 사람에게 받은 친절, 내가 시작한 작은 도전… 등등 감사할 것들을 적어 보십시요.

그렇게 하면 자신이 생각한 것 보다 행복한 사람이라는 것을 깨닫게 됩니다.

당신이 매일 감사 일기를 적는다면, 기본 행복 점수가 아주 높아질 것 입니다!

사실, 하나님을 잘 모르는 사람은 감사한 것을 찾는 것이 참 어렵습니다.

그 사람에게 감사한 것이란, 자신의 노력으로 된 것이고, 또 그에게는 모든 일들이 우연처럼 보이기 때문입니다.

하나님은 하나님을 알고 그 분에게 감사하는 사람에게 “진정한 행복”을 선물해 주셨습니다.

하나님이 그를 위해 하신 일을 찬양하고 그 분에게 감사하는 사람은, 그에게 고난이 찾아온다고 해도 하나님이 주신 행복을 쉽게 잃어버리지 않습니다.

1. 첫째 아들 이야기

여기 한 가족이 있습니다.

이 가족의 구성원은 아버지, 어머니, 첫째 아들, 둘째 아들입니다.

이 가족은 첫째 아들을 제외하고는 모두 성실하게 살았습니다.

어느 날, 첫째 아들이 아버지에게 말합니다.

첫째 아들 : “아버지, 저는 열심히 공부하고 싶어요, 학원 다닐 수 있게 돈 주세요!”

아버지는 그가 공부할 수 있도록 그에게 돈을 주었습니다.

그러나 첫째 아들은 그 돈을 친구들과 노는데 모두 사용했습니다.

또 다른 어느 날, 첫째 아들이 어머니에게 말합니다.

첫째 아들 : “어머니, 저도 친구들처럼 운전면허를 따고 싶어요, 돈을 좀 주세요!”

어머니는 그가 자동차 면허를 딸 수 있도록 그에게 돈을 주었습니다.

그러나 첫째 아들은 이번에도 그 돈을 친구들과 노는데 모두 사용했습니다.

이 사실을 알게 된 둘째 아들이 부모님을 찾아가서 말합니다.

둘째 아들 : “이제 형에게 돈을 주지 않았으면 좋겠어요, 형은 그 돈을 모두 친구들과 노는데 사용 한단 말이에요!”

어머니가 대답합니다.

어머니 : “그렇구나, 그래도 언젠가는 너의 형이 바른 길로 돌아오겠지”

둘째 아들이 화가 나서 어머니에게 말합니다.

둘째아들 : “우리 집 형편이 안좋은데, 언제까지 형을 믿으실 건가요!?”

이번에는 아버지가 대답합니다.

아버지 : “나도 너의 형 때문에 마음이 아프단다. 하지만 너처럼 그도 소중한 자식이기 때문에, 나는 그 아이를 포기할 수 없단다”

만약 당신이 둘째 아들이라면, 이 첫째 형을 용서할 수 있을까요?

부모님의 마음을 이해할 수 있을까요?

아마 우리는 대부분 “아니요” 라고 대답 할 것입니다.

부모님이 매번 기회를 주지만, 언제나 그분들을 실망시키는 형을 용서하기가 어려울 것입니다.

우리는 이 이야기를 더 잘 이해하기 위해, 부모님의 심정과 첫째 아들의 관심에 대해 아릴 필요가 있습니다.

부모님은 그들의 아들들이 사회구성원으로 잘 성장하여, 자신과 주변사람들을 행복하게 만드는 사람들이 되기를 바랬을 것 입니다.

첫째 아들의 관심을 무엇이었을까요?

그는 부모님의 그를 향한 기대에 전혀 관심이 없고, 오늘 하루 즐겁게 노는 것만 생각했을 것입니다.

2. 노아 시대의 사람들

창세기 6:5

여호와께서 사람의 죄악이 세상에 가득함과 그의 마음으로 생각하는 모든 계획이 항상 악할 뿐임을 보시고

하나님이 홍수를 보내시기 전에, 사람들의 모습이 첫째 아들과 같았습니다.

하나님은 사람들이 하나님의 말씀에 순종하여, 복을 받고 행복하게 살기를 바라셨습니다.

하지만 그들은 하나님의 뜻에 전혀 관심이 없었습니다.

그들은 오직 자신의 욕망을 위해 계획을 세울 뿐이었습니다.

만약 당신의 10대 청소년인 자녀가 작은 범죄를 저지른다면 어떻게 하시겠습니까?

처음에는 대화를 통해 자녀를 설득하려고 할 것입니다.

그럼에도 불구하고 자녀의 행동이 변화가 없다면 어떻게 하시겠습니까?

그를 강하게 훈계할 것입니다.

자녀가 고통 속에서 자신의 죄를 깨닫고 반성하게 하는 것이, 그의 미래를 위해 필요하기 때문입니다.

하나님과 노아 시대의 사람들의 관계를 부모님과 자녀의 관계로 생각해봅시다.

하나님은 그의 자녀들에게 언제나 최고의 것들을 제공해 주셨습니다.

하지만 사람들은 하나님의 은혜에 감사하지 않고, 죄의 길로만 나아갔습니다.

하나님이 그들과 대화하려고 하셨지만, 하나님께 귀를 기울이는 사람은 노아 뿐이었습니다.

하나님은 부모로서 더 이상 자녀들의 죄를 두고 볼 수 없었습니다.

사람들의 죄는 이미 상상 이상으로 심각했고, 세상에 가득했기 때문입니다.

그들은 더 이상 하나님의 말씀을 들으려고 하지 않았습니다.

결국 하나님은 사람들을 강하게 훈계하십니다.

그것이 바로 “하나님의 홍수를 통한” 입니다.

3. 무지개

저는 창세기 9장을 읽을 때면, 제 초등학교 시절이 생각납니다.

그 당시에 부모님이 바쁘셨기 때문에, 할머니께서 저를 보살펴 주셨습니다.

할머니는 매일 제가 학교에 가기 전, 간식을 사먹을 수 있도록 용돈을 주셨습니다.

하지만 저는 학교가 끝나면 오락실에 가서 그 돈을 다 써버렸습니다.

어느 날 그 사실을 할머니가 알게 되었습니다.

할머니는 다시는 오락실에 가지 말라고 하셨지만, 저는 게임하는 것이 너무 재미있어서 할머니의 말씀을 듣지 않았습니다.

결국, 할머니가 오락실에서 게임하고 있던 저를 발견해 집으로 데려왔습니다.

제 스스로 행동을 고칠 수 없다고 생각하신 할머니는 이렇게 말씀하셨습니다.

할머니 : “종아리를 걷어라, 다시는 오락실에 갈 생각이 나지 않게 해줄 테니”

할머니의 회초리에 제 종아리는 붉어지고 붓게 되었습니다.

그 때 저는 너무 아파서 눈을 질끈 감고 있었습니다.

그런데 갑자기 회초리질이 멈추었고, 조용해 졌습니다.

저는 무슨 일이 일어났는지 궁금해서 주위를 둘러보았습니다.

할머니가 흐느끼며 울고 계셨습니다.

회초리는 저기 멀리 던져져 있었습니다.

그리고는 할머니는 저를 꼭 끌어안고 대성통곡을 하셨습니다.

그 이후로 저는 오락실을 가지 않았습니다.

회초리가 아파서가 아니라, 할머니가 나 때문에 슬퍼하시는 것이 싫었기 때문입니다.

자녀가 잘못된 길로 가는 안타까운 마음에 회초리를 들었지만, 너무 마음이 아파서 훈계를 하지 못하는 부모님의 마음, 그 마음이 바로 하나님의 마음입니다.

창세기 8:21

여호와께서 그 향기를 받으시고 그 중심에 이르시되 내가 다시는 사람으로 말미암아 땅을 저주하지 아니하리니 이는 사람의 마음이 계획하는 바가 어려서부터 악함이라 내가 전에 행한 것 같이 모든 생물을 다시 멸하지 아니하리니

다음은 이 구절에 대한 독일 성서 공회의 해설입니다.

21절에 따르면 사람은 본디 악하여 더 이상 어찌해 볼 도리가 없다는 식으로 하나님이 체념하신 듯 보입니다. 창세기 6장 5절에서 심판의 근거가 된 사실이, 이제는 더 이상의 심판을 포기하는 근거가 된 것입니다. 그러나 앞으로 심판하시지 않겠다는 약속은 하나님이 ‘의롭다’고 보신 한 사람, 노아의 행동을 통하여 주어진 것입니다.

하나님은 심판을 통해 사람들이 변화되지 못할 것이라는 것을 아셨습니다.

그래서 하나님은 사람들의 악함을 인정하시고, 그들을 불쌍히 여겨 자비를 베푸십니다.

창세기 8:16~17

16 무지개가 구름 사이에 있으리니 내가 보고 나 하나님과 모든 육체를 가진 땅의 모든 생물 사이의 영원한 언약을 기억하리라

17 하나님이 노아에게 또 이르시되 내가 나와 땅에 있는 모든 생물 사이에 세운 언약의 증거가 이것이라 하셨더라

무지개를 통해 나타나는 하나님의 언약은, 그가 아브라함과 맺은 언약(창세기 17장)과는 다릅니다.

무지개의 언약은 그 대상인 사람에게 그 어떤 의무도 부여하지 않습니다.

또한 하나님은 언약의 증거, 무지개를 통해 스스로 자신의 약속에 구애 받으십니다.

사람이 무지개를 통해 하나님의 언약을 기억하는 것이 아니라, 하나님이 무지개를 통해 스스로 언약을 기억하려고 하시는 것입니다!

4. 우리 이야기

우리는 설교 전반부에 “첫째 아들 이야기”를 들었습니다.

그는 언제나 부모님을 실망시키는 거짓말쟁이 입니다.

만약 당신이 둘째 아들이라면, 형을 용서할 수 있을까요?

처음 우리의 대답은 “아니요” 였습니다.

놀라운 사실은, 우리가 비난한 첫째 아들과 노아 시대의 사람들의 모습이 바로 우리의 모습과 같다는 것입니다.

우리가 종종 우리를 향한 하나님의 뜻에는 전혀 관심이 없고, 그저 우리의 욕심을 위해 살아가기 때문입니다.

이 이야기들은 우리가 우리 스스로를 바라보지 못한다는 사실을 알려줍니다.

그럼에도 불구하고 ‘나는 첫째 아들과는 달라’ 라고 말하는 사람이 있을 것입니다.

첫째 아들을 비판했던 둘째 아들은 의로울까요? 그렇지 않습니다!

그도 첫째 아들과 같습니다. 

둘째 아들이 진정 부모님의 마음을 이해했다면, 그는 결코 형에 대한 불만을 부모님에게 말하지 않았을 것입니다.

오히려 그는 침묵을 지키며 부모님을 위로하거나 그의 형을 도울 방법을 찾았을 것입니다.

우리가 다른 사람에 대해 불만이 있다면 어떻게 해야 할까요?

그에게 아무 말도 하지 마십시요, 먼저 그를 위해 기도하십시요, 그 사람에 대한 하나님의 마음을 이해하려고 노력하십시요!

이것이 우리의 아버지이신 하나님을 존중하는 태도입니다. 노아처럼 말입니다.

5. 예수 그리스도(하나님의 자비)

창 8:20

20 노아가 여호와께 제단을 쌓고 모든 정결한 짐승과 모든 정결한 새 중에서 제물을 취하여 번제로 제단에 드렸더니

하나님은 노아의 감사 제물에 대한 응답으로, 자신이 창조하신 세계에 대해 영원히, 계속적으로 책임지실 것을 약속하십니다.

이것은 하나님의 장래 구원 행동을 미리 암시합니다.

그 방식은 일반 인류 가운데서 특별히 선택한 사람들, 이스라엘을 자신의 구원 계획을 위하여 구별하는 방식으로 나타납니다.

이는 마침내 한 사람을 미리 암시하는데, 그를 통해서 하나님은 죄와 죄의 결과들을 극복하십니다.

로마서 5:18-19

18 그런즉 한 범죄로 많은 사람이 정죄에 이른 것 같이 한 의로운 행위로 말미암아 많은 사람이 의롭다 하심을 받아 생명에 이르렀느니라

19 한 사람이 순종하지 아니함으로 많은 사람이 죄인 된 것 같이 한 사람이 순종하심으로 많은 사람이 의인이 되리라

아멘.

그 한 사람은 바로 “예수 그리스도”입니다.

하나님은 이미 오래전에 예수님을 통해 우리를 포함한 인류의 구원을 예정하셨던 것입니다.

하나님은 인류가 스스로 의롭게 될 수 없음을 아셨습니다.

그는 우리가 죄인으로 살 수 밖에 없음을 아신 것입니다.

그래서 우리 하나님은 우리의 죄와는 별개로, 무지개를 통해 창조 세계를 보존하시겠다는 언약을 세우셨습니다.

이러한 하나님의 결단은 마침내 예수 그리스도를 통해, 죄인인 우리에게 구원과 영생의 희망으로 나타났습니다.

우리가 해야할 일은 단 하나, 이 하나님의 말씀을 믿고 순종하는 것 뿐 입니다.

예수님은 우리를 향한 놀라운 하나님의 능력입니다!

예수님은 우리를 향한 크신 하나님의 자비입니다!

예수님은 우리를 향한 영원한 생명입니다!

  • Aug 25 / 2019
  • Comments Off on Jesus is our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Hebrews: The Superiority of Christ, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Jesus is our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Jesus is Our Great High Priest

Hebrews 4:14-16 (Pastor Heo)

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


There is a clear division between God and man. Only one person claims to be both: Jesus.

  • v. 14 – Focuses on Jesus’ Divinity (fully God)
  • v. 15 – Focuses on Jesus’ Humanity (fully Man)
  • v. 16 – Therefore, we can approach him with confidence – because he is fully Man, but also fully God.

He is our “best friend” – as a human being. But also all powerful as God.

v. 14-16

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

In this book, the word “priest” is found between 35-40 times (depending on the translation).

In history, the priesthood began with Aaron. Only the priests could enter the holy place in the temple.

Jesus is our Great High Priest. No other High Priest could assume this title: “Great.”

The Son of God (v. 14) affirms his diety and the fact that he is God. So, Jesus can bring ALL humans to God; and at the same time, he can bring what God has to ALL humans. In this point, he is “Great.”

This book Hebrews makes the clearest statement between a High Priest and the Great High Priest. High Priest is only a shadow that points to the Great High Priest who is Christ.

Differences:

  • Human High Priest = from earth, and changes (they all die)
    • Great High Priest is from heaven, and never changes
  • Human High Priests offered sacrifices for themselves first and then others (they also need forgiveness) – animals were the sacrifice.
    • Jesus offered sacrifice for others first (he is sinless) – he himself was the sacrifice.
  • Human High Priests enter the Most Holy Place only once per year (and continually)
    • Jesus entered heaven Once for All
  • High Priests showed the way to the presence of God with a curtain – to the presence of God – humans could not intercede for us in heaven, and no power to take away sins.
    • Jesus himself is The Way, The Gate – Jesus intercedes for us in heaven and has the power to forgive and remove sins – the sin of the world.

The entrance to the Most Holy Place was guarded by three gates. High Priests entered the first (main) place with the blood of an animal – then, they entered the Holy Place, and finally, they entered the MOST Holy Place – where they sprinkled the blood of the animal on the Mercy Seat – the cover of the Ark.

The High Priest had to sprinkle blood for their own sins first, and then stay in the Most Holy Place for only a short time.

1 John “Jesus is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins.”

v. 14 “… through the heavens…”

(This is not singular – but plural). Just as there were three stages to the temple, there were also 3 stages to heaven.

  1. Atmosphere
  2. Outer space
  3. God’s presence (the Most Holy Place)

“Therefore, …let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” (v. 14)

“Profess” = public confession

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he rose again from the dead, you will be saved.”

Matt 10:32-33 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him in heaven.”

This profession of faith = public confession of faith.
Can you open your beautiful mouth? Open it widely to profess this.

  • v. 14 = Focuses on Jesus’ Diety
  • v. 15 = Focuses on Jesus’ Humanity

This is amazing, a mystery, but true.

Jesus is fully God, but at the same time, fully Man (not almost man, not 99.99999%, but 100% God and 100% man).

v. 15

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.”

Can you imagine this?

Jesus has been tempted in EVERY WAY just as we are – he was born with a body, mind, soul, like we do. He had human weaknesses, emotions. He felt tired, hungry, thirsty, he crawled like a baby, talked like a baby, lived a complete human life like you and me. Why?

  1. To experience our weaknesses – to share our weaknesses – with a body, mind, and soul. He was misunderstood and persecuted – even to the point of death on the cross.
  • The fact that he was tempted = He’s man
  • The fact that he was sinless = He’s perfect (God)

Who can say, “I’m without sin”? No one. Only Jesus.

Temptation:

Jesus was TEMPTED, but did not sin. If we really understand the meaning of this sentence, it will be very helpful and encouraging to us.

Think of this:

Who knows better what the temptation is and how powerful it is? He who sins? Or he who does not sin?

We may think that he who sins knows it well, and he who does not sin doesn’t know it’s power.

No. The OPPOSITE is true.

Only those who RESIST temptation know the TRUE power of temptation.

  1. For example, we can know the power of Mike Tyson (boxer) only by fighting against him, not by surrendering to him.
  2. We understand the strength of the wind by running against it, not by lying down in the room.
  3. If we give in to temptation after only 5 minutes, we do not know what it would be like 1 hour later.

Example.

Tempter: Satan

The Tempter tempts you to sin. If he says, “Do this. If you do this, I’ll give you one candy.” If you do that with the offer of that one candy, it means you yielded to temptation with the prize of one candy. If you kneel down to this one candy, the Tempter does not need to offer you 2, 3, 5, 10 candies.

But, if you reject ONE candy, he will offer 10, 20, 50, 100 candies.

But we never experienced the temptation with 1,000,000,000 candies. Because we give in to temptation after only a few candies.

Please understand this very clearly.

The fact that Jesus never sinned means that he never gave into temptation. That he never gave into temptation means that he experienced the EXTREME FINAL POWER of temptation (1,000,000,000 candies…)

We’ve never experienced the most powerful temptation because we surrender to it much sooner than the last stage comes.

Jesus was tempted FAR BEYOND what we are.

Think of this in terms of pain.

There is a degree of pain which the human frame can stand. But when that degree is passed, a person loses consciousness so that there are agonies of pain that he cannot feel.

It is so with temptation.

We fall down and collapse in the face of temptation. But Jesus faced temptation and went to Humanity’s limit and FAR BEYOND it – but did not collapse.

He was tempted in ALL things we are tempted, and so he can say to us, “I was tempted as you are today.” But we cannot say to Jesus, “I’m being tempted as you were.”

Jesus experienced all temptations humanity has, but we have never experienced all the temptations he has.

This means, he can understand US completely, but we do not understand him completely.

v. 15 “… he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses…”

In Greek, to sympathize means “to share as mine through practical experience.”

If you have weaknesses, hardships, problems, I’m a pastor and I can pray for, encourage, help you. But, I’m NOT able to sympathize with your suffering unless I have the SAME suffering you’ve had. This is the literal meaning of sympathy.

Even your husband and wife cannot sympathize with you unless they have the SAME experience you have.

Only Jesus is able.

We need sympathy because we are imperfect. When you need sympathy, to whom do you go? Family? Husband, wife, close friend, coworkers? But remember, we must go to Jesus first, because Jesus is our BEST friend and BEST understander and BEST sympathizer.

When this life has drenched us with tears, we can go to Jesus because He. Has. Been. There.

Jesus can give us power, wisdom, knowledge, and love to help us overcome all temptations, weaknesses, and sufferings.

Hallelujah!

Hebrews 8:2 “Because he suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

  • 2 Cor “No sin…”
  • 1 Peter 2 “No sin is found in his mouth, he committed no sin.”
  • 1 John? “No sin…”

v. 16

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

If you receive God’s Word and apply it to your life, it will change your life.

Yes, we need mercy and grace. It is essential. We are needing the mercy and grace of God all the time. These two go together practically all the time. There is a logical difference, but practically, they are ONE.

  • Mercy = “God does not give us what we deserve”
  • Grace = “God gives us what we do not deserve”

We need mercy for our past failures, mistakes, errors, sins.
We need grace for our present and future needs, and victory.

No trial is too great – no temptation is too strong – because Jesus is Greater than them.

Even heaven cannot contain Christ – even heaven is too small a place for Christ.

“Approach” = with prayer – communication with God through Christ. This is our best privilege and right through Christ. Remember, if we do not pray, we rob ourselves of the great and timely resources God holds for us.

God bless us with more mercy and grace.

Read once more.

v. 16

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • 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.

  • 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 28 / 2015
  • Comments Off on No More! Series Sermon Art
Backgrounds, Resources

No More! Series Sermon Art

Here’s the collection of Sermon Art for Pastor Brian’s “No More” (aka “God’s Non-Remembrance of Sin”) series. The unique thing about this series was that he chose various verses from throughout the Bible to focus on, so I updated the background and verse designs every Saturday to match the verse for that week. Click any image to download a larger copy.

PPT

(1600 x 1200px (for projector))

 

Widescreen

(1366 x 768px (720p HDTV size))

Verse Designs

These verses were used on the front of the Bulletin every week. I decided to design these because a single verse is difficult to fit into a large space (like the front of the bulletin) without some kind of visual help (like a picture or design).

Inspiration and Resources

The original verse that the Pastor sent me to start this series was Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake and remembers your sins no more.”

There were a few good, strong vocabulary choices in the verse that helped me to decide upon and hone the theme (I actually didn’t know this would be a 4-part series at that time – I assumed it was just a single sermon):

  1. “Blots out” = Jesus’ blood covers (or blots out) our sins – this was the first visual clue
  2. “Transgressions” = sin – I needed some sort of visual representation of sin
  3. “FOR MY OWN SAKE” = I decided to pick this out as the focus of this verse – WHY would God choose to forget sin?
  4. “Remembers…no more” = became the theme of this series

I’ve always been interested in how pastors preach that “Jesus blood covers sinners so that when God looks at us, he doesn’t see our sin, but the blood of his son.” Therefore, I wanted to SHOW Jesus’ blood very clearly covering over sins. And what better representation of sin that “original sin” with the apple? I found a Creative Commons vector series of apples being eaten and thought it was a perfect visual to show how we may sin MULTIPLE times, and yet God CHOOSES (hence the hand and paintbrush) to cover over our sins and remember them no more.

  • 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.

  • Jan 18 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Enjoy the Freedom and Power of Forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35)
Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Enjoy the Freedom and Power of Forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35)

01.18-Pastor Heo

01.18.2015-PHeo

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Enjoy the Freedom & Power of Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35 (Pastor Heo)

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”


 

The last verse is the key verse from today’s reading. Remember this not only in your brain, but also in your hearts. This is the conclusion:

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

One time, Peter asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive? 7 times? Wow! So many!” At that time (and in the Bible) the number 7 is a symbol of perfection.

How about you and me? Can we forgive 7 times? Only 3 times? Not even one time?

Peter probably expected praise from Jesus for showing his great faith when he offered to forgive up to seven times. At that time, the rabbis taught that 3 times to forgive was sufficient.

But if we look at this passage clearly, we can see Peter’s serious mistakes:

  1. 1. He lacked humility – he was proud, he was sure that OTHERS would sin against him, but not he against others. Yes, when others hurt us, we remember this very clearly. But we have difficulty to remember our own faults against others.
  2. 2. He asked in measured limitations – if there is a limitation in numbers, then there is no true love in your heart – “Be rooted and established in love to know how wide, how long, how deep, how tall is the love of Christ – so that we may be filled to full perfection in the love of God.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” What number is there? NONE. If there was a number, we would surely exceed it and go beyond God’s limited forgiveness (in this scenario).

This parable deals with the power and freedom of forgiveness. This parable is not about our salvation – about grace, freely given. The emphasis here is about forgiveness between brothers – not on God’s forgiveness of sinners.

From verse 23-27:

10,000 talents – how much is that? This debt was CANCELED.

At that time, 2,000 years ago, even 1 talent was enough to start a business (50,000,000 Won?)

At that time, in another parable (Matthew 25?) the Master (king) was going on a long journey and he gave 1 talent to one servant, 2 to another, 5 to another – entrusted to them.

At that time the entire TAX of Jerusalem was 800 talents.

Ordinary people had to work 20 YEARS to make ONE talent. So, it is ludicrous to think that one slave could ever borrow 10,000 talents from the king – it was obvious that he was STEALING when the books were checked.

His story is like our story – he is a guilty debtor. He was an enemy of the king, as we were once enemies of God. He thought he could repay the king by his own effort as we once thought we could pay for our own salvation through our good works. He was powerless in his debt, and at one time, we also were powerless in our sin. Both of us received merciful debt forgiveness.

“The servant’s master took pity on his and CANCELED the debt and let him go.”

v. 28-29

100 denarii – how much is that? – CHOKING over this amount – PRISON for this amount.

At that time, an average worker earns 1 denarius per day. This debt was very small compared to what this servant owed the king. 10,000 talents = a bus full of money. 100 denarii = a pocket full of money. This wicked servant grabbed, choked, threw him in jail. This second servant used the SAME method, pleading that the first servant had used “Please, have mercy, have patience.”

This first servant had been forgiven, but was unwilling to grant to others what he’d already received. He and his family had been spared the shame and suffering of the prison, but he refused to spare his friend.

If we receive unconditional forgiveness from God and then don’t forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are WORSE than him.

v. 31-35

The King delivered this servant from prison, he saved him – but this servant actually put himself back in prison. He did exercise justice and cast his friend into prison – and the king said basically, “OK, cool. Let’s live by ‘justice’ then. Here’s your justice. I’ll do to you just as you have done to him.”

Conclusion: 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

In the Lord’s prayer, we pray all the time, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Jesus says, “If you forgive when others sin against you, also my Father will forgive you, but if NOT, then he WON’T.”

  • Eph 4: “Be kind and compassionate with one another.”
  • Col “Bear with each other. Forgive whatever grievances you have against one another.”

But, we must not forget the conclusion of this matter. This doesn’t mean “if you don’t forgive, your salvation is lost/canceled.” It also doesn’t mean “God MUST forgive you when you forgive others.”

You must understand the true meaning of forgiveness:

What is the ground/foundation of the assurance of salvation?

The assurance of salvation + the assurance of forgiveness = BOTH necessary, mutually exclusive. Without one, you can’t have the other.

Jeremiah 31:34 “The Lord (Jehovah) declares, ‘I forgive your sins. And if I forgive your sins, I remember them NO MORE.’”

Just like ONE salvation = eternal and never changes, likewise ONCE forgiveness against our original sin = eternal and never changes.

If we have assurance of salvation + assurance of forgiveness, then what is the ground/basis for our assurance?

  • We must repent. But this is not the ground upon which God forgives us.
  • We must have faith. But this is not the ground upon which God forgives us.

God cannot forgive/pardon sin/sinners MERELY on the ground of a sinners forgiveness. This would be impossible for a righteous God to do. He can forgive ONLY when the penalty is ALREADY paid.

For Him to forgive, and for us to receive his forgiveness, Christ died upon the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

This is the ONLY ground/basis upon which we can have the assurance of salvation + forgiveness. Even as he was dying on the cross, he prayed “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Even there, he had HUGE compassion for those who sinned against him.

In this world, the worst kind of prison is an unforgiving heart. We are throwing ourselves into prison and torturing ourselves if we don’t forgive others.

We must experience the power of forgiveness in our hearts. If we live only by justice, we put ourselves in prison. But if we live by forgiveness and mercy, giving others what God’s given us, we can experience true freedom and power of forgiveness and the forgiving of others.

No matter our experience, we cannot fully enjoy freedom, peace, and joy without forgiving others.

Yes, we show the true condition of our own hearts by the way we treat others. If we are humble and repentant, we can willingly and easily forgive others. But where there is pride and a passion for revenge, there is not a place for forgiveness.

Let me show the power of the real freedom of forgiveness in the Bible:

Stephen (Acts 7)

He preached a very wonderful, powerful, marvelous and biblical sermon. His sermon is one of the most powerful sermons in church history. But how did the congregation react? Clapping? Thank you? Nope. Death. By stoning.

Imagine I’m preaching here and someone in the audience began stoning me.

But Stephen did not even pay for this. He prayed for them as they killed him. “Father, do not hold this sin against them.” Why? What made him do this? Was he different? No, a normal man, filled with the Holy Spirit – anointed to do this. The power and freedom of forgiveness that he’d personally experienced empowered him to do this and forgive his own murderers as they were murdering him.

We must experience, enjoy the power of forgiveness deep in our hearts and makes us gentle and forgiving of others.

Our brothers and sisters, coworkers, neighbors, family members – we should forgive them all deeply, readily, quickly.

Let’s pray.

  • Dec 07 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Faith and Deeds (James 2:14-26)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Faith and Deeds (James 2:14-26)

12.07

12.07.2014-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Faith and Deeds

James 2:14-26 (Pastor Brian)

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.


 

James is giving practical advice to his readers. In the beginning of the chapter, he warns against favoritism – showing undo favor to the “rich” of this world. “Oh, sit here in this nice place!”

  • All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans) and when you look at some of these lives (any lives actually), you’ll notice that they aren’t amazing.
  • Favoritism = giving undo favor where it is not due, and not giving favor where it is due.
  • James is bringing our identity back to Christ – we ought to keep the royal law = “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • If we keep only ONE part of the commandments and break ONLY ONE part, we have broken ALL the law. To break 1/10 = to break 10/10.
  • We must love others and show mercy (because we’ve received both from God himself).  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

“What good is it my brothers if a man has faith but no deeds? Can such faith save him?”

Paul writes “By grace you have been saved through faith…not as a result of works so that no one can boast…FOR we are his workmanship that he has created FOR good works.”

We aren’t saved BY works, but we are saved TO DO works.

Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees and did everything in his zeal to keep the law – and he even persecuted the church at first. But after meeting Christ, he realized that ALL his works and deeds were FILTHY rags before God.

1 Cor 15 Paul rehearses how God’s mercy has been shown to him “But by God’s grace, I am what I am – and I labored MORE than all the other apostles (yet not I, but the grace of God working in me).”

God’s power gave him the power and the anointing to do what God called him to do.

James also asserts that we SHOW our faith BY our good works. We must demonstrate our faith by our actions.

When we come to believe in Jesus, we become a different person ( “A New Creation” ).

Testimony:

A pastor talked of how he became a Christian – he was a teenager in a band who HATED people. He looked for fights, insulted anyone, make fun of the homeless, and yell curses. God saved both of us in the same year and our hearts were absolutely changed.

When Matt saw a homeless man, instead of yelling at him, he pulled over and gave him a blanket and a lunch he’d made for himself.

What would James say if we’d become Christians and CONTINUED to yell at the homeless. If there was no heart change, no ACTION change, there is no EVIDENCE that your heart has changed.

It’s easy for a “pure” person to said, “Yes, I believe in God – and I’m a good person.” Well, the demons ALSO believe in God – shall they also go to heaven?

In the gospels, there was a man in the synagogue who cried out (with a demon), “Ya! What have we to do with you? Jesus, Son of God?” – Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, bless you, you know who I am.” Jesus cast him OUT of the man.

James goes on to show that faith without works is dead – using the Scriptures.

  • Abraham – sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22): God tested Abraham (remember “count it all joy as you meet various testings in the world”?). He was instructed to take his ONLY son Isaac and sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah. He did it. It took 3 days to get to Moriah. On the 3rd day, Abraham raised his eyes and left the servants to “worship” God. (This is an obvious act of faith on Abraham’s part). Abraham laid the wood on Isaac and carried the fire and the knife.
  • Isaac: “Father?”
  • Abe: “Yes, son?”
  • Isaac: “We have all the stuff except the offering itself.”
    Abe: “The Lord will provide, my son.”
  • Abraham built the altar and bound Isaac and laid him on the altar and stretched out his hand to KILL his son – but an angel of the Lord stopped him. Test PASSED.
  • Then Abraham raised his eyes and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its thorns. So Abraham used the ram in place of Isaac. He called that place, “The Lord will provide.”

Up to this point in his life, Abraham had at times shown a bit of a shaky faith. He lied about his wife ( “she’s my sister, actually” ) and brought trouble on himself and the people around him (TWICE).

Now, even after he’s been given promises from God:

  1. You’ll have a son
  2. I’ll bless you through Isaac
  3. I’ll make your descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore

But still, he takes his son Isaac to sacrifice him. He had such faith that God would do as he said to fulfill the promise, that even if he were to kill Isaac, God could raise him back up!

He’s taken it soooo far that he’s laid the wood on Isaac (remember Jesus also carried the wood of the cross). Isaac was NOT a young child – he was at least in his 20s. If Isaac had wanted to, he could have overpowered Abraham and said, “No way, daddy!” But he submitted himself to Abraham, laid down his own life – (remember, Jesus did this same thing for us as well – in complete agreement with God the Father).

“God will provide himself a (THE) lamb” – this is also a picture of Jesus – the ram caught in a thornbush – Jesus wore a crown of thorns for us to the cross.

Then, Abraham was told to NOT kill Isaac. In a sense, he received Isaac back from the dead – he was already sacrificed in his mind/heart. This is similar to Jesus’ resurrection as well.

James’ second example:

Rahab the prostitute protected Joshua and the spies when they investigated Jericho.

The prostitutes at that time also kept a boarding house – the spies went there for the night. The king heard about it and sent the guards to capture them. Rahab said, “No, they’ve gone.” But she’d hidden them. She’d also made a deal with them that when the men invade the city, they’d be protected from the destruction of the God of Israel.  So the men agreed – “put a scarlet rope from the window” – and they wouldn’t go in to kill the people.

After the walls of Jericho collapsed and the Israelites invaded, she was saved and assimilated into the nation of Israel.

This scarlet rope is symbolic of Jesus’ blood. In His blood, there is LIFE.

As we come around the table of the Lord for communion – as yourself, “Am I a part of this family? Is Jesus my Savior? Am I WALKING and ACTING in his will and his way?”

From the Daily bread – (hasn’t gone stale):

Feb 5, 2014: The Telltale Heart

We want to keep short accounts, not keep unforgiveness or sin in our hearts.

Recently, I read about a PI in the US who would knock on a door, show his badge and say “I guess we don’t have to tell you why we’re here.” And many times the person would look stunned and say “How did you find out?” And then go on to explain an unknown criminal act long ago.

This was an unconscious act of a telltale heart. We all know secret things about ourselves and our sins. The secret things we keep in our hearts may come back to us again and again.

  • John “By this we will know that we are before him. If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than us.”
  • James “Don’t just say, ‘We’ll pray for you.’ If you can actually help them.”

Have you done the things despite your failures? Then find rest. Even if your heart condemns you, know that God is greater. God abides in us by the Spirit whom he’s given us. God is greater than our self-condemnation.

Remember James’ words to be practical in our faith. Remember John’s words to DO the works before men that God would have us do – so that they will glorify God through what they see us doing through his power.

Where we can, ACT. (Maybe even a random act of kindness – don’t procrastinate – it won’t happen) If you have occasion to help someone, HELP.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 16 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Perils of Partiality (James 2:1-13)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Perils of Partiality (James 2:1-13)

11.16

11.16.2014-PBrian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Perils of Partiality

James 2:1-13 (Pastor Brian)

Favoritism Forbidden

1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!


 

In James, remember where we’ve been.

James is writing to Christians, scattered abroad, discussing how important it is to practice what we preach “Walk the walk, and talk the talk.” Be DOERS of the Word, not just readers.

  1. Keep a bridle on your tongue.
  2. Show love to those in need.
  3. Keep yourself unstained by the world.

Things that are outright temptations in the world are obviously to be avoided, BUT ALSO, the attitudes and philosophies of the world show be avoided. (Romans 12:2 also “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – This is a process. Take in the Word, walk in the light of it, see the value of it.)

  • Here, James shows how conformity to the world’s standards can compromise God’s standards.
  • Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould (mold).
  • Don’t show favoritism (partiality) – the state of being biased against or for one certain group or person over another group or person.

We are all likely guilty of this in some degree.

The Jews exonerated Jesus of being this (but this was hypocritical of them). Luke 20? The leaders came to Jesus and used his impartiality as their weapon. “Teacher, we know you teach correctly, and you don’t show favoritism to any, but teach the Word of God in truth…” But they tried to use this as a weapon “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?”

(If YES, the Jews wouldn’t find it very pleasing – he’d become unpopular. If NO, the Romans would see him as a rebel – he’d get in trouble. But you can’t outwit Jesus. “Who’s face is on this coin? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”)

They recognized that Jesus didn’t show partiality – even though they were enemies.

Partiality = undue favoritism

When he says “favoritism” he’s using a term in the Greek that means “lift up the countenance of somebody” (show a favor, encourage, lift up, etc). Think of Cain after he murdered Able – his countenance had fallen. And God saw that and said, “Why has it fallen?”

When your countenance is up, you are receiving favor, encouragement, etc. Originally, this was a pleasant term, but eventually, it became negative – when there is overt (too much) favoritism it’s no good.

For example, when the church was expanding, the Greek ajummas were not receiving the proper portion of the food and they had to resolve this issue so that there was no favoritism of Israel’s ajummas over the Greek ajummas.

Personal favoritism = lifting up or putting down someone else (you lift up one, you put down someone else)

Think of celebrities and the successful in their career/profession. We show tremendous respect to them, and to the “nobodies” we don’t care. God doesn’t do that – he looks at the heart.

Philip Yancy has interviewed many celebrities and has found that many have shallow hearts and depend wholly on the praise of others, not God.

The Lord looks at the heart.

Abe Lincoln “God must love the common man because he made so many of them.”

Even men of God – 1 Samuel 16 (after the failure of Saul – God was to choose a new king) verse 1 “So the Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul? Fill you horn with oil and head to Jesse – I’ve chosen one of his sons to be king.’ Samuel ‘Saul will kill me.’ God ‘Take a lamb and say you’re going to sacrifice and invite Jesse. I will show you then.’ So Samuel went and the elders in the town shook in fear of him worrying he didn’t come in peace. When the sons of Jesse came, he saw the tallest, biggest, best and thought, ‘I bet this guy is who the Lord wants.’ But God said, ‘Nah, nah, nah – don’t look at his physique, I look at the heart.’ None of the young (7) sons that Jesse brought to Samuel were the ones that God had chosen. The youngest (David) was just a boy and was tending the sheep. So he was brought in – he was ruddy and handsome and the Lord said, ‘Bingo! He’s the guy!’ Samuel rose and anointed him with oil, then went on to Rama.”

Samuel even thought differently, but was sensitive enough to the Spirit of God that he knew there was another son and asked for him particularly.

There is a tendency (even among the prophets) to look at the outward appearance. Even Jesus said, “Do not judge by the outward appearance.” Romans 2:11 “There is no partiality with God.” Proverbs “To show partiality is not good.”

But we all have a tendency (from childhood) to show favoritism.

Still, James warns against this. So, he provides a common, practical example. Even in churches throughout the ages this is a big problem. The BIG givers usually get the best spots, the most preferential treatment, and the poor are told “Sit in the back.” Still, the Lord spoke strongly against this (Leviticus “Do not be partial to the poor…judge your neighbor fairly.” – we may even sometimes treat the poor better to the neglect of the rich. Don’t do this either.)

Use righteous judgment in whatever you do.

One pastor had been preaching on this and meditating for about a week. On Friday, a homeless man came in, he was almost getting sent to jail – he’d gone to every agency in town and didn’t get any help. He passed the office door and came in. We got him a Grey Hound (bus) ticket to Denver. He came back and said that his shoes were too small to walk – he asked for a ride. I obliged, nervously, but he was a good conversationalist and spoke of Jesus. He said, “Thank you, Father.” The preacher said, “Although I’d been meditating on this all week, it hadn’t yet touched my actions. I hope that I’ve learned this lesson.”

My experience:

In Canada, people often passed through, and people ask for money, a ride, etc. After a time, your heart can become hard. But the Lord says, “Repent of those attitudes. You have the means to help, so help.”

In Acts, the Jews had no dealings with the Gentiles, and yet God called Cornelius to know about Jesus and receive salvation through him. He was a centurion and tithed in the synagogue and prayed daily. An angel told him to go to Joppa and find Simon Peter and bring him to them – to their household – to tell them words by which they’d be saved. So he did it.

At the same time, the Lord was preparing Peter’s heart. The Lord gave him a (hungry) vision on the top of the roof of his building. A sheet came down from heaven with “unclean” animals and the Lord said, “Rise and kill and eat.” Peter said, “No, surely not.” God said, “Do not call unclean that which I’ve cleansed.” At that time the messengers from Cornelius arrived and called on Peter. The Lord said, “Go with them.” So he did, and he witnessed to them.

As he was speaking and explaining the ministry and life and salvation of Jesus, the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles – and then Simon and the other Jews (witnesses) were able to testify to this to the greater Jewish church.

Then, Peter realized that God is not partial and that even Gentiles whose hearts are turned toward him can be saved.

Yet, even later, Peter still showed partiality to the Jews – separated himself from the Gentiles. Paul corrected him. “Old habits die hard.” You know that and I know that. We have to crucify the flesh daily. Peter subjected himself to Paul’s correction. We also must do that.

Remind ourselves: “That wasn’t right of me to judge him/her in that way. Just because he smelled, had bad hair, etc.”

Sex trafficking – in India – girls as young as 10 or 12 have no hope except through Christ. They are often enslaved by the government of the pimps. The pimps usually give loans with ENORMOUS interest which can NEVER be paid back.

Often these women may be saved and go right back into the prostitution. There’s not an immediate actual break from this kind of trauma. There takes time for the layers of brokenness to be healed.

“Over the mountains and the sea, your river runs with love for me, and I will open up my heart and let the Healer set me free.” But the healing takes time.

We should open our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world – don’t show partiality to any. Where there’s a need, try to meet it.

Ceneka – Greek philosopher – said, “They love to put rings on their fingers.” Just to show off how wealthy they were (even if they weren’t) – they just wanted to give the IMPRESSION that they were wealthy (how many of us do that today?)

These people were often given special treatment in the church.

Another person comes in who hasn’t showered in a few days and is told, “sit in the back… or at least not too close to the rich because their noses are sensitive…”

Yet, it’s the RICH who drag you to court and sue. The RICH oppress you. The RICH blaspheme the name of the Lord.

In Antioch they were called “Christians” first (in mockery) – but they took that name and ran with it – making it a badge of honor.

James concludes and says, “Show mercy TO EVERYONE.” No one can CHOOSE who is worthy or not worthy of salvation. Then you are becoming judges with evil thoughts.

Remember: Mercy TRIUMPHS over judgment.

The picture of the Roman general with all his treasures from the war would come out and honor the general – he’d come back with MORE than he’d gone out with. This is TRIUMPH. This is a good picture of what Mercy over Judgment means.

Even as Christians, we will face the Judgment at the Bema Seat – “what have you done with the life you’ve been given?” – this is not to enslave us with fear, and this is not the judgment of condemnation. But when we are merciful, we also will receive mercy.

“Love covers over a multitude of sins.”

May the Lord bless the Word to our hearts and enable us to put it into practice this week.

Let’s pray.

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