A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW: CHASE THE LION

Message Title: A hundred years from now:

Will the career, the earthly riches you give your life matter after your life, a hundred years from now? What do you want to be remembered? A hundred years from now! 

Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. V.T. Studd

God knows the frailty of every man, “He is mindful that we are but dust” (Ps. 103:14).  David courageously asked the Lord, “make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; surely every man at his best is a mere breath” (Ps. 39:4-5).  Job perceived the brevity of his life and declared, “I will not live forever…for my days are but a breath” (Job 7:16), and James wrote, “you are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jam. 4:14b). 

We got to know some of David’s mighty men. Beniah the lion chaser, Josheb-Bessbeth killed 800 men at one encounter, Eleazar the one who stood with David until the last enemy is standing, Shammah. 2 Samuel 23:39 (ESV) … thirty-seven in all.

Fast forward 40 years. All of them are old and many some already passed away. What do think would be their regrets or joy as they review their life in the service of their king David? Imagine each of David’s mighty men as old men. Their many battles had left their bodies bruised and battered, shells of their former selves. Josheb suffered from bursitis in his shoulders. Eleazar had arthritis in his wrists. And Benaiah could barely bend over because of slipped disc or two. Their fighting days had taken toll, but they would pay the price again. Not one of them would trade a single day! And no one could take away the dream that became reality during their life-time they crowned David king, their legacy for all eternity.

This entire section of scripture (2 Sam. 23:8-39) points to the commitment that David and his men held for the nation—even long after they were gone. “David and his mighty men were fighting for the next generation of Jews. A kingdom hung in the balance”.

The last topic of the series is about Legacy - leaving a legacy that will continue until the Lord Jesus’ return.

 Big Idea of the Message: “The key to dreaming big is thinking long. And the bigger the dream, the longer the timeline. If you’re thinking in terms of eternity, you should have some dreams that can’t be accomplished in your lifetime”.

Not all dreams will be accomplished in ones lifetime. The writer of the book of Hebrews end chapter 11 with these words: Hebrews 11:39 (ESV)And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised. Not everyone will be given a big dream to pursue. Many will dream within a dream - meaning they will find their life’s pursuit in supporting someone else dream. What legacy you want to live behind? Those who will be left behind are the next generation and they to will have to decide what legacy they will leave behind to the coming generation.

The writer of this Psalm 78 sounded an urgent call to the older generation (our generation) to LISTEN and TEACH to the next generation. Out of these call comes a clear VISION FOR THE NEXT GENERATION.

Text: Psalm 78:1-8

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. ESV

A. A call to listen:

v. 1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!

v. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

v. 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

The Psalmist is calling on his people to pay attention, to give importance, to give priority in what he is about to say.

 

Psalm 78:2–3 (NLT) for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.

The lessons of the stories and teachings handed by their ancestors is applicable today as much as it was in the past. These teachings are meant to unite them as people. God’s word is meant to unite us. The primary goal of call to LISTEN is not to gain information but understanding and life transformation. We learn the Word of God through our Ear gate (listen), Eye gate (reading), Mouth gate (reciting), Hand gate (writing), mind gate (meditating/studying). As you sit here today, does God have your full attention? Are you expecting the Word through Holy Spirit to transform your life? Are you listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We cannot afford not to listen to what God has to say. We cannot afford wasting our life from listening to the wrong and fake messages around.

 

B. A call to teach:

v. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

Psalm 78:4 (NLT) 4 We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.

v. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,

Psalm 147:19 (ESV) He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel.

The psalmist sounded the call to teach the laws and commandments established by God specifically for the next generation, to the coming generation. It is of high priority that this be done intentionally. Not to hide means to make an intentional effort to make it known to the coming generation. To let them figure it out is irresponsible and disobedience.

Parents, are you growing in your understanding and application of truth in your life? If yes then your children are truly blessed. But if not, the truth will remain hidden from your children. You are the primary educator of your children. Leaders, if you are growing in your understanding and application of God’s word in your life, then the next generation is truly blessed.

Where do we start? The Lord God gave this command to Moses to teach his people:

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV) Great commandment:

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Talk about being intentional to the coming generation:

It start with you - it shall be on your heart

Your attitude - teach then diligently, you must commit yourself wholeheartedly

Your strategy - repeat them again and again - repetition is critical

As we faithfully do our part, there is no assurance that we will see it realized in our time. To obey is our part. Leave the result to God.

We need to take this seriously and give ourselves in making this happen in our personal and corporate life. As we LISTEN and TEACH, we are trusting God to help us realize His vision for the next generation.

God’s Vision for the next generation is that they:

1. They Pass on what they been taught

v.6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,

Every generation is one generation away from extinction. The survival of the next generation depends on the current generation. 

Illustration: Before the battle of the Long Island, General George Washington reminded his troops whom they were fighting for. It wasn’t just for their freedom a first-generation American. “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.”

David’s mighty men mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to their cause, their calling. Their heroic deeds are long remembered, long considered.

As we, the older generation do our part in teaching the younger generation with the Word of God, we envision that they will do the same when it comes to their turn in teaching the younger generation.

Our personal and corporate investment is not only for the generation we see but to the third and fourth generation. For the unborn generation. No one of us here can tell what will become of Living Hope after a hundred years. If we fail on our watch, imagine what will the coming generation looks like?

Joshua and his generation died:

Judges 2:10–11 (ESV) And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.

Apostle Paul admonition to Timothy: Spiritual Multiplication

2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Every generation must steward what has been entrusted to them. It starts with honoring the generation that has gone before us by learning everything we can from the,. But that’s only half the equation when it comes to passing along a generational blessings. it continues by empowering the generation that comes after us. That’s how the baton of blessing is passed to the third and fourth generation.

The second vision is that they:

2. Keep and obey what they been taught

v. 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;

set their hope - set the confidence in God based on who he is and what he has done.

Psalm 20:7 (ESV) Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

not forget - commit to memory, do all you can to keep remembering

Deuteronomy 4:9 (ESV) “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—

Deuteronomy 6:12 (ESV) then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

What makes us forget the works of God? When we set our hope other than to God. When we stop obeying or keeping his commandments.

Be doer of the word and not hearer only:

James 1:25 (ESV) But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Many young people/adult leave the church for a number of reasons. One of them is that they never had a personal faith. They came or their parents brought or drag them to church because that’s the only option they have. They leave the church once they reached an age that they can refuse their parents or can think/live independently.

This vision is about keeping, having the truth form and sustain their worldview. This means that their faith in Christ becomes the foundation of their life.

The last visions for the next generation that the psalmist gives is they to:

3. They Become better than us

v. 8 and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Who is the psalmist talking about here? “not be like their fathers

They are their ancestors who came out of Egypt and wondered in the desert for 40 years.

2 Kings 17:14 (ESV) But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.

2 Chronicles 30:7 (ESV) Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see.

Ezekiel 20:18 (ESV)“And I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols.

Jesus promise this to those who will believe in Him:

John 14:12 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

We (older generation) has a God given responsibility to setup the next generation for success. For them to be better than us. For them to grow wiser and faithful in the Lord. Not to be a stubborn generation but one whose heart is steadfast in God and whose heart is set apart for God.

Parents, what are you praying for your children to become like this one day? Leaders, what is your vision for our next generation? As we work through or plans and budget, will it lead to the success of the coming generation?



Find us faithful CHORUS:

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

May the fire of our devotion light their way

May the footprints that we leave

Lead them to believe

And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

A hundred years from now
It will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, of the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.

Vision “To release them to their full potentials as kingdom builders

To see the body of Christ released to her full potentials as kingdom builders

“Old man speech”
“You’re going to meet an old man someday down the road—ten, thirty, fifty years from now—waiting there for you…That old man will be you. He’ll be the composite of everything you do, say, and think—today and tomorrow…His heart will be turning out what you’ve been putting into it. Every little thought, every deed goes into this old man.

“Every day in every way you are becoming more and more like yourself. Amazing but true. You’re beginning to look more like yourself, think more like yourself, and talk more like yourself. You’re becoming yourself more and more.” – Dr. Richard Halverson.

“Jesus didn’t die just to keep you safe. He died to make you dangerous!


Discussion Questions:

1.           Why is it important to think about a hundred years from now?

2.          Do you have a story from your family tree that changed your entire life, positively, for the better?

3.          What do you think the phrase, “Jesus didn’t die just to keep you safe” means?

4.          What’s one thing that most impacted you from this series?

5.          How can I pray for you?

 

 

Long Obedience in the same direction: Chase the Lion

Message: Long Obedience in the same direction

Text: 2 Samuel 23:13-17 

Big Idea of the Message: “In the grand scheme of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will, eternal gain infinitely offsets earthly pain.”

In our pursuit to chase our God given dream, our 500 pounds lion we will encounter opposition, failure, disappointments and unanswered prayers. 

What can we learn from this encounter to help us see beyond our situation.

1. Their ears were attentive to their master’s voice

2 Samuel 23:15 ESV And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!”

What is so special with the water from the well of Bethlehem? Is there no water available close by that he longs for the water that will require to break into the enemy camp? David was thirsty because Harvest time indicates that the weather was dry and hot. Did the three argue about what they heard? What is important is that they heard clearly what their leader desire and acted on it without being commanded.

 

In the same way our Ears must be Attentive to the Voice of GOD.

God speaks through His written Word. The author of the Word is the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 (ESV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

The Holy Spirit is the author and interpreter of the Word. Apart from Him it will only be head knowledge - information.

To help us see beyond the situation we need to train our ears to be attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We need to tune into the frequency to listen to particular radio station, we need to know the right TV channel to watch a particular program.

We live in a media saturated society. Almost all of them call our attention and ask for our obedience. The sad and disheartening message we always hear is focus on self, self-help, how to better self, how to be a better me, improving me, get me rich quickly, its all about personal welfare and satisfaction. Last 2015, Facebook had around 1.5B Monthly Active users and by today almost a third of the earth’s population will be on Facebook.

We have competing voices that grab our attention and our heart.

1 John 2:15–17 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

 

The world and all it’s wanting is passing away but whoever does the will of God abides forever. There are only two ways to prove whether God is saying the truth or not. Do the will of God or not. But if money, power, influence and appearance will people happy, why is it that we people who are in these category commit suicide, kill others, steal, and suppress justice? Why, because the Bible declares that this world along with its desire is passing away. Who lives forever? those who does the will of God.

We need to tune our ears daily to The Voice of Truth - The holy Spirit. How do we know that we are in tune with what the Spirit say? How do we tune our ears to the Voice of Truth?

Make the Word the authority of your life

2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible is not a self-help book, it is far superior than Google, it is not a book of suggestions and saying. It’s God’s Word.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Get into the Word and let the Word get into you. If the Word is absent in your heart the Holy has nothing to remind you.

Psalm 119:9–11 ESV How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Hebrews 3:7–8 (ESV) Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,

Ephesians 4:30 (ESV) Do not grieve the Holy Spirit
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

“We live in a culture that idolizes success and demonizes failure. But in God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying” Long obedience in the same direction. 

Obedience earns compound interest. Overtime it’s called faithfulness. And there is a cumulative effect. Eventually the blessings of God will overtake you. God’s word does not return void. He is watching over His word to perform it. And he who began a good work will carry it to completion.

2. They were willing to take a greater risk

2 Samuel 23:16 ESV

Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord

Obedience require taking risk, a greater risk. These men were used to taking risk. They could have gone some place to get the water and pretend they got in from the well of Bethlehem but they didn’t. Doing what it right has it’s consequences. Bethlehem is around 20km from the cave of Adullam. Add to that their enemy is camp out in the area where the well is. Think about it, does it make sense for them to risk their lives just to quench the thirst of their leader? For us it may not make any sense but for them it is important because it’s for the leader.

People risk their lives for different reasons. Many people die for what they believe. Many people sacrifice everything even for wrong reasons. It shames me to see those people who knock door to door giving our literature about their faith, who stand in the street corner with their literature stand bearing the heat or cold just to get their message across. How about us who knows the truth? Are you willing to do the same?

To take a greater risk for the Master’s sake.

We too must be willing to take risk, a greater risk. 

Obedience to the voice of God, Obedience to God’s will entails risk.

Philippians 1:29 (ESV) For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

1 Peter 4:16 (ESV) Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  

There is a high cost in obeying God’s will.

Matthew 10:37–38 (ESV) 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Taking a greater risk to do God’s will is not a blind leap into darkness. Our faith must be grounded on who God is.

When called Abraham, Noah, Moses and the many men and women both in the past in present to do His will, it was not a blind leap of faith.

What do you need to do make your dream happen? Maybe it’s taking that first step of faith or burning some bridges behind you.

When we operate in faith, we aren’t risking our reputation. We’re risking God’s refutation! And God can handle himself just fine, thank you. But if God has called you and you doubted, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God. 

God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.

1 Corinthians 1:26–27 (ESV) For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

Faith is taking the first step before God reveals the second step. Faith is unlearning your fears until all that’s left us the fear of God.

God doesn’t always call us to win. Sometimes He just calls us to try. Either way, it’s obedience that glorifies God. When you fail, You don’t start over everyday; you build on the day before. We build on what the Lord has done. We dare not sidelines God’s work. Delayed obedience: Don’t put off till tomorrow what God has called you to do today. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Seize the day!

3. They work as a TEAM.

2 Samuel 23:16 ESV Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord

We have come to know the individual exploits of these men. Anyone of them could have gone and got the water for their leader. But why the three of them? Are they trying to gain his favour? Get ahead of their ranking? The only obvious reason we can from the text is it’s for their leader. Regardless of their ranking and ability they were united in doing one thing, “quench the thirst of their leader”.

It should also be true to us as a church:

We are one body

1 Corinthians 12:12 (ESV) For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

Romans 12:4–5 (ESV) For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

We use our gifts to serve one purpose - God’s

Romans 12:6–8 (ESV) Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

In this church there is one one Superstar (capital S). His name is Jesus Christ not Jun or.... There is only the Great Shepherd and His name is Jesus Christ. There is only one Head and his name is Jesus Christ! 

Are you getting this? The only way we can accomplish God’s agenda is TOGETHER as a TEAM. I don’t have any agenda being here other than God’s agenda. And I hope that your only agenda is also God’s agenda.

We might not be able to accomplish what we dream off in our lifetime but rest assured that God is in control.

The last of Revelation gives us hope:

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

Discussion Questions:

1.           What does it mean to put the eternal over the earthly?

2.          Why do faithful Christians suffer?

3.          How will our prayers be answered in heaven, even if they are not answered on earth?

4.          How have you seen God use suffering for His good?

5.          How can I pray for you?

 

D DAY: CHASE THE LION

The story of D-Day - On June 6, 1944, the Allies invade Western Europe in the largest amphibious attack in history. During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.Message Title:  “D” Day - (Discipline Day)

Beniah - the Lion chaser
Josheb-basshebeth - raised his spear and killed 800 enemies

As we continue to get to know King David’s mighty men, we are now introduced to another elite warrior under his command.

Open your Bible to our Text for today: 2 Samuel 23:9-10
9 And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.

Big Idea: Victory is won not on the day of the battle, but in our preparation beforehand. “No one achieves his or her 500 pounds dream without daily disciplines”

What can we learn from the life of Eleazar? Let me share three principles related to disciplines that we can draw from these two verses.

I.  WALK WITH THOSE WHO WALK WITH GOD      
v.9 “Eleazar was with David...”

Eleazar was wise enough to recognize who he will follow. He is an elite warrior and could have gone to serve in King Saul’s army but instead went to David, an outcast and being pursued by the King. What attracted him to David? I believe the reason the other men have.

David although not perfect, is portrayed as a man and a king after God’s own heart.

This came about when Saul, Israel first king choose to disobey God’s command by walking in the way he sees right in his own eyes.

David is skilful as a youth. 1 Samuel 16:18 ESV

One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.”

His dependence on God - Psalm 23 - “The Lord is my shepherd” sums up David reliance on God for everything.

His trust in God - 1 Samuel 17:40-51 - David trust in God to defeat Goliath with a slingshot.

His loyalty to others -1 Samuel 20:41-42 - David’s loyalty to Jonathan, the king’s son. He fulfilled his promise to show kindness to his son.

2 Samuel 9:6–7 ESVAnd Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”

His respect for those in authority - 1 Samuel 26:10-25 - David spared King Saul’s life when he was given an opportunity to kill him.

He was a strategist and a courageous leader. He was a wise leader.

Proverbs 27:17 ESV Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

David was not perfect in many ways but he was anointed by God to lead Israel in a critical time of transition. Given the same opportunity would you not walk with him even just to carry his personal stuff? David opens the book of Psalm with these words, “Blessed is the man who walks...”

Psalm 1:1–6 ESV Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Eleazar was with the right person, right place and time. David’s greatness rub off to him. God’s blessings flows in the life of God’s anointed one to those who follow them.  Eleazar dream within David’s dream. It is a dream with a dream. 

The had been with Jesus:

Acts 4:13 ESV Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Go find someone who walk with God and walk with them. Who is the David of your life? One of my David is an 84 year old man. He has wealth of knowledge and experience in walking with God. Ask them to mentor you, to provide coaching or to disciple you. Do everything you can so that others can speak into your life and help you chase your 500-pound lion. We all live such busy lives and if we are to busy for walking with those who walk with God, we are missing a lot.

We should not only walk with those who walk with God, but also make all the effort to walk with God.

Genesis 5:22–24 (ESV) 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

John 15:4–5 (ESV) 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Walk with those who walk with God and walk with God.

2.   TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
“…and the men of Israel withdrew.”

What caused these men to withdraw? Was is it fear of the enemy? Was it the weather? Was it the food they ate or did not eat? Or fear got the best of them and they went the opposite direction. Whatever their reason, what’s clear is they took the easy way out. The Pulpit Commentary on 2 Samuel has this to say about the history of the place.

The Pulpit Commentary: 2 Samuel Chapter 23

It was situated in the valley of Elah, and, as being upon the border, was the scene of numerous conflicts, whence its name, “the boundary of blood.” It was there that David slew Goliath.

“The boundary of blood” - Many lives have been spilled in the battle field. It was decision time for these men. They were “two inches away” from a right or wrong decision.

“We live in a culture that celebrates fifteen minutes of fame, but God honors a lifetime of faithfulness. We can call this generation, “the microwave generation”. A generation that is fixated with quick solutions, quick rich, instant gratification, quick fame, instant this, instant that, quick this and quick that. Where what is important and eternal gives way to peer pressure and conformity. 

The longer we live, the more we should believe in long obedience in the same direction”.

It was decision time for Eleazar whether to go with the crowd or stick with his commander in chief. Eleazar took the high road and stood with David. I believe that he drew his courage from his leader. He was two inches away from greatness or failure. To run and fight another day might have made sense to him but he did the opposite and stayed.

Did you know the total number of possible combinations in just the first ten moves of a chess game is 165,518,829,199,544,000,000,000? That’s a lot of combinations and possibilities. The game of life is far more complicated than a game of chess. But that shouldn’t make you nervous, not if the Grand Master is the One ordering your footsteps. “After all, it’s in Him that we “live and move and have our being.”

The Bible places a high value on the importance of discipline

1 Timothy 4:7–8 ESV

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Discipline as Apostle Paul defines it = Training in godliness. Developing a character, a lifestyle that is Christ-like. It’s value extends beyond this life - the life to come.

1 Corinthians 9:26–27 ESV

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

The high road is taken by those who have disciplined themselves in godliness. Those who take the high road are those who walk with those who walk with God and those who walk with God. There is no other way to do it. There are no shortcuts. Taking the high road is not business as usual. It forces us to rethink everything in the light of God’s will.

Illustration: The Story of Nicole Poindexter

The Story of Nicole Poindexter: Decided instead of worrying she has no job made a new year’s resolution to read the Bible cover to cover. With so much time in her hands she finished it by the end of January. She also started researching solar powered electricity as a potential business in the continent of Africa. God spoke to her through the promise of God to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-2 “God from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…I will bless you… and you will be a blessing.”

Her dream became a reality. He left home to Africa. In 2015 125 Africans in the village of Affulkrom got electricity for the first time in their lives. Four months and four villages later, the total was up to 750 people.

If you don’t have a dream, take the high road. Keep learning while you’re waiting. Get into God’s Word, and God’s dream will get into you. You don’t find destiny. Destiny will find you if your life is consumed with God.

The reality is you cannot conduct your life with the “business as usual” attitude.

Illustration: Kodak Moment

For nearly a 100 years, the Eastman Kodak company dominated the film industry. It controls 85% of camera sales and one of the top 5 valuable brands in America. In 1996 Kodak had 140,00 employees and valued at$28Billion. In 2016 they stopped making profit and in 2012 filed for bankruptcy.  What happened? They failed to jump the curve. Instead of embracing the changing technology, they decided to do it the way it had always been done. They missed the decisive moment. They missed the Kodak Moment.

Just like the men who withdrew from the battle, you cannot afford to do it all the time. Life is to short to ignore the challenges in front of you. You cannot keep on retreating from the opportunities before you. What is the 500-pound lion that you need to chase? Education? Relationship? Career? Serving the Lord? Sharing Your Faith? Generosity? Spiritual Growth? We need God’s anointing today more than yesterday and even more tomorrow.

Matthew 5:37 ESV Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Let’s embrace the pressure, the challenges before and take the higher ground, the moral ground. Excellence honors God, so we need to get better and better in whatever we’re called to do. It happens little by little, day by day.

3.   ENDURE TO THE END
“He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword.

We’ve heard it many times, “Picture paints a thousand words” but scientifically speaking, “a picture paints a million or even a billion words”.

Picture this in your mind:

Beniah locked eyes with the 500-pound lions. Josheb-Basshebeth raising his spear with eight hundred enemy soldiers and Eleazar’s hand, froze to his sword when he took his stand against the Philistines. Just one verse was given to their heroics but its more than enough to help us understand what kind of men they were.

James, writing after Jesus’ life on earth, talks about the power of discipline and perseverance. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Hebrews 10:36 (ESV) For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  

To endure is to suffer patiently. To remain under pressure. In the game of baseball, you don’t win on a loaded base.

Romans 5:3–5 (ESV) 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produce character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope do not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Hebrews 12:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV)5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Hebrews 12:6–7 (ESV)6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

I challenge you to endure with us. Living Hope is no near perfection. From the leaders down to the youngest member we all need the grace of God. You might be two inches away from giving up or two inches away from a decision that will change the trajectory of your life.

When God tells you to go “just a little farther,” “endure a little farther”, a divine appointment might be two inches or seconds away. If you ignore the prompting, you miss the miracle. Nothing sets us up for a miracle like going the extra mile-”just a little father.” That’s when God shows up and shows off. One small step of faith can turn into a giant leap. One chase can change the trajectory of your life or someone else’s eternity

And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.” Those who failed to WALK WITH THOSE WHO WALK WITH GOD, TAKE THE THE HIGH ROAD and ENDURE TO THE END, missed out

Our three 500 lbs dream for the next three years

1. For us to be RISK takers in sharing the Gospel - EVANGELISM

2. For us to be REDISCOVER our first love - Christ - DISCIPLESHIP

3. For us to RELEASE unprecedented amount of compassion into the broken world. - MISSION

 

 

Discussion Questions:

1.           What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.          “You can’t just pray as if it depends solely on God; you also have to work as if it depends on you.” What do you think this quote means?

3.          How does our culture often celebrate fifteen minutes of fame over a lifetime of faithfulness?

4.          How does God prepare us for our future?

5.          What do you need to start doing every day that will help you achieve your dreams?

6.         How can I pray for you?

 

GoD-sized dream's ripple effect: CHASE THE LION

The goal of the series is to help us unleash the faith and courage we need to identify, chase, and catch the five-hundred-pound dreams God has given us to reach the world.

Before the AVENGERS, JUSTICE LEAGUE and other superheroes, there were King David’s mighty men who helped him win many battles, conquered enemies and brought peace throughout Israel. Last week we learn about a man named Benaiah who chased and killed a 500 pound lion in a pit on a snowy day. His courageous act landed him as personal body guard of King David. Chasing your 500 pounds dream.

“The only way to tap your God-given potential, to fulfill your God-ordained destiny, is to chase five-hundred-pound lions.” We can overcome our fear and dream again as we surrender to God’s plan in our life and give the rest of our life in obedience to it.

Todays Message Big Idea: “We don’t die when our hearts stop beating. We die when our hearts stop skipping a beat in pursuit of our passions, when our hearts stop breaking for the things that break the heart of God.”

Many are alive physically but in reality dead inside just waiting for their final breath to leave their lung. The Word of God declares that a life empty of the Life of Jesus is simply just existing without eternal purpose to live. Do you think that our true date of death is the date listed on our death certificate? Sadly, many people die long before their heart stops beating. We start dying the day we stop dreaming. And ironically, we start living the day we discover a dream worth dying for. Someone said, “if you are not ready to die for something greater than yourself, you are not ready to live”. David’s mighty men found in David—a cause worth living for, a dream worth dying for”

Message: God-sized dreams ripple effect

Whether we like it or not, the dreams we pursue whether from God or not has a ripple effect beyond your life. Yesterday, we celebrated 150 years as a nation. The dreams and actions of those who founded this nation rippled throughout 150 years.

Today, we are going to look at another of David’s mighty men.

 

2 Samuel 23:8 ESV These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

 

The Bible only gives one sentence for him. His exploit gives evidence to his physical capacity. At some point, he has to make a decision whether he will spend his life on the gym or spending it to a cause bigger than himself. At some point we too need to make a decision with what we are going to do with all the messages you’ve heard, all the bible studies you’ve attended, all the needs presented to you. We need a life goal to keep us going, a noble cause to keep us committed, a God sized dream to keep us motivated.

The NIV ends this verse with the phrase, “…in one encounter.” “That little phrase in 2 Samuel 23 is so simple yet so powerful. That’s all it takes! You are one encounter away from your destiny. One off-the-cuff conversation, one crazy idea, or one glance across a crowded room can change everything.

 

We don’t die when our hearts stop beating. We die when our hearts stops beating for the joy of God and breaking for what breaks the heart of God.

Jesus gave the definition of life in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus definition of life is “Him”. If his life is not making us alive, we are not living at all. We are just breathing just waiting for the last breath. Time and time again it was proven not money, power, pleasure, possessions can complete ones life.

Josheb-basshebeth

a. Chief of the captains. David’s top 3 Elite warriors. They were warriors receiving the highest possible honor in the army of David. - Eleazar, Shammah “He belonged to the elite warriors attached directly to the king” or “he belonged to the elite group of soldiers who took their orders directly from the king.”

Omanson, R. L., & Ellington, J. (2001). A handbook on second book of Samuel (p. 1161). New York: United Bible Societies.

 

b. Killed 800 at one time. He stood his ground until he defeated the 800 enemies.

“What’s true for Josheb-Basshebeth is true for you. Just like the highest-ranking member of David’s mighty men, you might need to make a move.”. In other words, pursue the passions God has given you by making the most of every encounter. If you are waiting for the perfect timing, you will be waiting until the second coming of Christ. Josheb-Basshebeth’s courageous act helped David in his rule as the new king of Israel.

 

Every God-sized dreams has a:

I. Genesis moment: Defining moment

Creation: The origin of atom and all creation can be traced back to the four words spoken in Genesis, “Let there be light”. Genesis 1:3

Jesus the creator:

Colossians 1:15–17 ESV

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

John 1:3 (ESV)All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Romans 11:36 (ESV) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Nothing existed or will exist apart for Jesus.

Abraham’s Genesis moment: The call to move

Genesis 12:1 (ESV) Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

Moses Genesis moment: The suffering of his people

Exodus 2:11–12 (ESV)One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

Isaiah: The holiness of God

Isaiah 6:1,8 (ESV) In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Robert Pierce: an American Baptist Pastor, Founder of world vision

He was deeply affected by the poverty and human suffering that he witnessed. In 1950 he founded World Vision International. He’s the one who said, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God”

Martin Luther: Launched the Protestant Reformation

500 years ago, 1517 Luther penned a document (95 Theses) attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” to absolve or forgive sin. His “95 Theses,” which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation.



Genesis ripple effect:

Martin Luther King Jr.:  Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. Did you know that his genesis moment started from his father who was inspired by the work of the famous Martin Luther.

Wilson Bently: "Snowflake" Bentley (February 9, 1865 – December 23, 1931) is one of the first known photographers of snowflakes.[1] He perfected a process of catching flakes on black velvet in such a way that their images could be captured before they either melted or sublimated. It all started on the day his school teacher mother gave him a microscope.

Rahab: When you are faithful to God, you produce a ‘ripple effect’ that has the potential to change not only your life, but generations of lives. Rahab’s risk during the Battle of Jericho changed the course of history forever (23-24)—she became the great-great-grandmother of King David.

 

Every dream has a genesis moment. A dream is implanted in your spirit by the Spirit of God, and the rest of your life is the ripple effect. It changes the plot line of your life.

Overtime your favorite scripture becomes the script of your life. The promises of God in the Bible become the plot line of your life. The more you rehearse those lines, the more you get into the character of Christ. Your life becomes the unique interpretation of the that life verse.

 

There are genesis moments in every dream journey that radically change the plot line of our lives. When you become the genesis moment of someone, you will also radically change the plot lines of their lives. I speak to Parents, I speak to older men and women, I speak to small groups leaders, I speak to ministry leaders. It is impossible to predict when or where or how they will occur. But once the door to the future opens, the door of the past slams shut. There is no turning back. It’s a new day, a new normal. One verse. One decision. One risk. One Idea.

For Benaiah it was chasing a lion into the put on a showy day. That split-second decision opened the door to the future - a job as King David’s bodyguard.

For Josheb-Bassbeth it was raising the spear against 800 of David’s sworn enemies. His courageous act earned him a seat of honor at David’s round table.

For me the opportunity to lead the church plant LHCC in 2001 altered the course of my life, my family and the many who were touched by the our ministry.



All of these did not come to pass without great difficulty, impossible odds. Its not a walk in the park. Jesus himself said, “in this world you will experience trials and tribulations as you seek to do his will”. He speaks of suffering even death to those who chose to follow him.

II. Impossible odds: Challenging moments

The movie hunger games motto is”May the odds be ever in your favor” or in Star wars, “may the force be with you”. But in the kingdom of God its the other way around, “May the odds be ever against you”. Jesus did not make it easy for people to follow him. He made sure that suffering, tribulation will be part of their path.

 

Matthew 10:37–38 (ESV) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

 

2 Timothy 2:3 (ESV) Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

 

Throughout the OT we can read that, “Impossible odds set the stage for God’s greatest miracles!

Gideon started with 10,000 men and ended up with 300.

Daniel’s three friends were led to fiery furnace heated seven times.

Jesus showed up on the fourth day of Lazarus death.

Sarah and Abraham had their first child way passed child bearing year.

Moses and the Israelites had to passed the red sea.

Why? To ensure that God get all the credit, all the glory.

We have the tendencies to avoid situations where the odds are against us. We tend to go to the path of less resistance. We ended up robbing God of the opportunity to do something supernatural. Josheb had to defeat 800 Philistine soldiers to become chief of David’s mighty men. He beat 800-to-1 odds!

When was the least time you attempted something that was destined to fail without divine intervention?

Galatians 6:9–10 (ESV) And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Mark 10:27 (ESV) Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”


Our three 500 lbs dream for the next three years

1. For us to be RISK takers in sharing the Gospel - EVANGELISM

2. For us to be REDISCOVER our first love - Christ - DISCIPLESHIP

3. For us to RELEASE unprecedented amount of compassion into the broken world. - MISSION

Illustration: Before Pastor Rick Warren became a best-selling author, Saddleback Church initiated a building campaign. Desiring to set a standard, Rick and his wife pledged what was equal to about three years of his salary. “Shortly after making that pledge, Rick signed a two-book deal for The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life. “The advance was the same dollar amount as the pledge!”

At some point you need to raise your spear of faith. That’s how the door opens and lets the future in. What odds do you need to defy? What verse do you need to interpret with your life?

III. Passion for God: Moment by moment beat of our heart

We don’t die when our heart stop beating. We die when our hearts stop skipping a beat in pursuit of our passions, when our hearts stop breaking for the things that breaks the heart of God.

Passion - is an intense enthusiasm for something. Another kind of passion is the suffering and death of Jesus.

This is not the passion Apostle Paul wrote about in Colossians 3:5 regarding Passion related to sexual desires.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV).

This is where our passion should come from. The Spirit of God that dwells in every believers bears fruit, give gifts and abilities for the glory of God.

Our passions are going to drive us in the direction of our obedience. What we're going to try to find is look at what's God's will and then take those and make decisions accordingly.

This whole idea of passion is born from within, not externally. The idea is born from within. They're born in God's presence and they're extremely powerful. The Bible defines the heart as the organ that pumps your blood, your emotional constitution or disposition, the vital force or driving impulse.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 37, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." My heart determines why I say the things I do. "The mouth speaks what the heart is full of." Matthew 12. Why I feel the way I do. "The word of God examines the thoughts and motives of the heart." Hebrews 4. And why I act the way I do. "Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of your life." Proverbs 4:23.

What is our Unique Heartbeat? Revelation 17 "God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose." We make the choice. God gives us the passion and He gives us the heart but we can choose to use it for good or for evil. In James we see the evil side "selfish ambition in your heart." He's talking about if your heart is filled with selfish ambition, negativity, hard heart, those things will come out of your mouth. If you read James, he talks about what comes out of your mouth is a direct reflection of your heart.

But also there's another side to that. In 1 Samuel "Serve the Lord with all your heart." And also in Ephesians, "Do the will of God from your heart." That will is never easy.

Illustration: There's a man who, during the course of his working career, drove from home to work everyday like a lot of us would do. He drove along a road that after awhile they had to do some roadwork on it and he had to take a detour. Over the course of this year's long detour, he drove through a very poverty stricken portion of Atlanta, Georgia. He was an attorney by trade. Over that period of time, the poverty that he continued to see day in and day out worked on his soul and worked on his heart. One day he was driving in and it just popped into his mind these few words: No more shacks. And Millard Fuller started something called Habitat for Humanity. Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 600,000 houses worldwide – providing shelter for more than 6.8 million people.One person, one idea, harnessing the passion that God has for his life. And over a period of time discovering God's will.

If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you attempt to do for God in your life? "If you had all the money that you ever needed in your life today, what would you do tomorrow?" So if you couldn't fail, what would you do? Chase the lion.

Conclusion: When we become passionate about the things God is passionate about, and sacrifice to follow those dreams, we can create ripples in the Kingdom that last forever. If last week is about overcoming our fears and dreaming again, this week’s sermon is about having the courage to make those dreams a reality.

 

Discussion Questions:

 

1.    What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.    Has there ever been a point in your life where you felt dead because you stopped dreaming?

3.    In Chase the Lion, there’s a quote that says: “You are one encounter away from your destiny.” What does that mean?

4.    What does it mean for your dreams to have a “ripple effect?”

5.    What’s a risk you need to take this next month that will allow you to get one step closer to achieving your dreams?

6.    How can I pray for you?



 

Chasing your 500 lbs dream: Series: Chase the Lion

Chasing your 500 lbs dream: Series: Chase the Lion

Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small
Based on the book, Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small by Mark Batterson (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2016)

Big Idea of the Series: When the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optic nerve and into the visual cortex, the brain sends the body an urgent message: run! That’s what normal people do, but not lion chasers. Rather than seeing a five-hundred-pound problem, they see an opportunity for God to show up and show His power.

Has God given you a HUGE dream for you church? Has He given you a HUGE dream for your community?

This is what Chase the Lion is all about.

Centering on II Samuel 23, Chase the Lion tells the true story of an ancient warrior named Benaiah who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day—and then killed it. This series also recounts the miraculous stories of David’s other mighty men, and their exploits for the Kingdom of Israel.

The goal of the series is to help us unleash the faith and courage we need to identify, chase, and catch the five-hundred-pound dreams God has given us to reach the world.

Big Idea of the Message: “The only way to tap your God-given potential, to fulfill your God-ordained destiny, is to chase five-hundred-pound lions.”

 “By definition, a God-sized dream will be beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless God does it, it can’t be done! And that is precisely how God gets the glory.” (5)

2 Samuel 23 gives us the record of David’s mighty men. Without these mighty men, David will not realize his God given destiny of becoming the greatest king of Israel. Many great men and women in history and present time would not realize their destiny without the people that supported them. I would not be here today without the committed men and women who supported my leadership for the last 15 years.

Today, we are going to focus on one them. Benaiah

20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. 21 And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men. 23 He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.    

a. Who is Benaiah?

The son of Jehoiada a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds

Jehoiada was raised by a valiant man and doer of great deeds. His father was the great influence in his life. 

b. His exploits.

Three of them were recorded but I think they were many.

a.   Killed two ariels of Moab, lion like men, champions, mighty warriors

b.   Killed a huge Egyptian by taking his own spear in his hand

c.   Killed a lion. He chased the lion on all the way to the pit on a snowy day.

i.    The object - The Lion

Mass: Male: 190 kg - 420-500lbs

Height: Male: 1.2 m - 4ft

Length: Male: 1.7 – 2.5 m - 8ft

Speed: 80 km/h

ii.   The location - Pit, a tight enclosed space.

iii.  The weather condition - Snowy day

This act of courage completely changed the direction of Benaiah’s life

b. His Heroics landed him the job of personal body guard of King David

The same is true of you. You are one idea away, one decision away from a totally different life. of course, it’ll be the toughest decision you ever make, the scariest risk you ever take. If you’re dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small.

“The only way to tap your God-given potential, to fulfill your God-ordained destiny, is to chase five-hundred-pound lions.”

Chasing your 500 lbs dream starts with God:

I.  God is the giver of dream that’s worth living and dying for

a. God gave Abram - Abraham dream

Genesis 12:1 ESV Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

b. God gave Joseph (the dreamer) a dream

Genesis 37:5–8 ESV Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

c. God gave Moses a dream

Exodus 3:4–10 ESV When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

d. God gave David the dream to build a house for the Lord

1 Kings 8:17–18 ESV Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart.

e. God promise that he will give dreams in the last days

Acts 2:17 ESV “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

The last days are not just in the distant future but were inaugurated at Pentecost and will continue until Christ’s return.

God is looking for people whose heart is aligned to his heart

2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

A blameless heart is one that delight in the Lord

Psalm 37:4 ESV Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

To delight is to take pleasure, to be satisfied in God alone.

Psalm 40:8 ESV I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

Delighting in God start with His word in our heart

John 15:7 ESV If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Having our heart aligned with God’s heart, we now can claim Jesus words in the sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 7:7–11 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

But a heart aligned to this world end up in hostility with God

James 4:1–4 ESV What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

God is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

James 1:17 ESV Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

God gives dream not only to benefit us but ultimately for the glory of His name.

What dreams are you pursuing today? Is that dream aligning with the Word of God? or is it align with the world?

 

Not only God is the giver of dreams worth living or dying for:

II. Your Identity will determine your destiny

How will you answer this question?

Who are you? The common answer, you will give your name, the family you belong too, your work, your hobby...

•    When God gave Abram a dream - He also changed his name to Abraham

•    When God gave Jacob a dream - He also changed his name to Israel

•    When God gave Saul a dream - He also changed his name to Paul

•    Your destiny is tied of identity. Your Identity determines your destiny

•    The only way you can enter heaven is through a change of identity

John 1:12–13 ESV But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

What matters to you at the end of the day or the end of your life?

Is it your title, your accomplishments, your possessions, your educations? Listen to what the wise king Solomon wrote.

Ecclesiastes 1:1–17 ESV The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after. I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted. I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity....

When you receive the Gospel in your life, God gives you a new identity.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Who am I in Christ?

I Am accepted in Christ

I am God’s child, I am Christ’s friend, I have been justified, I am united with the Lord and one with Him in the Spirit, I have been bought with a price, I belong to Him, I am member of Christ body, I am a saint, I have direct access to God, I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins, I am complete in Christ

I am secure in Christ

I am free from forever from condemnation, I am assured that all things work together for good, I cannot be separated from the love of God, I’m confident that God will complete what he has started in my life, I am born of God and the evil cannot touch me

I am significant in Christ

I have a purpose to live and die for, I am the salt and light of the earth, I am Christ ambassador, I am God’s temple, I am commissioned by Christ, I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me 

He also gave His Spirit

Ephesians 1:13 ESV In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

The presence of the Holy Spirit in us bring spiritual gift(s)

Romans 12:6–8 ESV

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

God’s dream workshand in hand with the Holy Spirit that lives in us.

Philippians 4:13 ESV I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 1:21 ESV For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 

III. Your Life is to short to be wasted

James 4:14 ESV

yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

At the end of our lives, our greatest regrets will be the God-ordained opportunities we left on the table, the God-given passions we didn’t pursue, and the God sized dreams we didn’t go after because we let fear dictate us.

A study by social psychologists Tom Gilovich and Vicki Medvec found that in the short term, we tend to regret actions more than inactions 53% to 47%. But over the long haul, inaction regrets outnumber action regrets 84% to 16%.

You need to quit living if your purpose in life is to arrive safely to death. Let’s stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating future. Face your fears and fight for your dreams.

“Too often the church complains about culture instead of creating it. The energy we spend on criticism is being stolen from creativity. It’s sideways energy. We need fewer commentators and more innovators.” (16)

Live like today is the first and last day of your life.

We need to courage the two o’clock in the morning courage

QUOTE: “Napoleon Bonaparte made a distinction between two kinds of courage—regular courage and two-o’clock-in-the-morning courage. ‘The rarest attribute among Generals,’ said the Little Corporal, ‘is two o’clock-in-the-morning courage.’” (1) Fulfilling God’s calling on your life requires two-o’clock-in-the-morning courage.

Chapter two of Chase the Lion recounts the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Considered impossible by many, the Wright brothers changed history when they paved the way for human flight. “At any given moment on any given day, five thousand airplanes carrying a million passengers are flying through the troposphere at three hundred miles per hour. And it all started with a dream. It always does. Wilbur Wright repented of his unbelief in the possibility of human flight, and the rest is history.”

When do we start chasing our 500 lbs dream? Today!

If you’re waiting for perfect conditions to pursue your dream, you’ll be waiting until Christ returns. It doesn’t matter whether a sunny day or a snowy day is forecast.

1. God is the giver of dreams that is worth living and dying for

2. Your identity will determine your destiny

3. Your Life is to short to be wasted

 

Let me share to you our three 500 lbs dream for the next three years

1. For us to be RISK takers in sharing the Gospel - EVANGELISM

2. For us to be REDISCOVER our first love - Christ - DISCIPLESHIP

3. For us to RELEASE unprecedented amount of compassion into the broken world. - MISSION

 

CONCLUSION:

“The only way to tap your God-given potential, to fulfill your God-ordained destiny, is to chase five-hundred-pound lions.”

As we close this message, I want to challenge you to commit to chasing their God-given destiny. Don’t be ruled by fear. Be ruled by the power of God. What can they do this week to begin chasing their dream? We have many graduate this year.

•    Spiritual growth - Daily devotion, Prayer life, Reading the Bible, Sharing your faith to others

•    Personal growth (education, work, health)

•    Church - service, advancing our mission

•    Relationships (marriage, family) - restoration, forgiveness

•    Community - practical expression of love

 

Discussion Questions:

 

1.           What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.          What’s a dream that God has given you?

3.          What’s one thing you fear the most about this dream?

4.          How does God get the glory for helping us to achieve impossible dreams?

5.          What’s one thing you can do this week to pursue your God-given dream?

6.         How can I pray for you?

 

 

 

 

Testing the spirits for your joy - PROVE IT

Testing the Spirits For your Joy

Main Idea: To avoid being misled by false prophets, test everything against scripture. 

Introduction

1 John 4:1-6

Last week we were challenged to radical love, a kind of love that is not optional but commanded by Christ himself. The challenge was this: what would we risk for true love?

Here in John’s first letter we cycle back towards the need for theological discernment.

Going back to 1 John chapter 2, we know that the church have been warned that this is the last hour or the final countdown to the return of Jesus. John warns the church about the Anti-Christs that are already in the world. We also know that the church that John was writing to was facing heresies about Jesus; these heresies reduced Jesus to a mere man and nothing close to divine.

The message of 1 John chapter 4, reiterates the message of 1 John 2 by producing yet test on the same wavelength as John chapter 2, which we will get to in a moment.

The Message

1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Even during the time of the first century church, there were already so many teachings of pseudo-Christianity that is better known as Gnosticism, as we have learned and there are various sects of these teachings, not to mention the Empire-wide pantheistic religion that the Roman rule imposed on all of its subjects. Indeed, even back then, the days seemed very dark. There was persecution and false doctrine everywhere and it probably truly felt like the last hour.

Jesus himself has warned the apostles about false teachers during his time as a man on Earth:

Matthew 7:16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Mark 13:22-23 “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told all things beforehand.”

It is no wonder then that John says in 1 John 2:18 “They went out from us, but they were not of us.”

I do not think this surprised John because Jesus himself had warned him. He carries on this warning to the church through his letter and so John instructs them in how to discern which prophets and messages were from God and which were not.

1 John 4:2-3 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come from the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-Christ, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

It seems pretty straightforward doesn’t it? It is and it’s not. I love John’s writing because he puts it very plainly.

There are two important words or concepts that we need to understand in some sense of its fullness before this passage really opens up to us in its simple beauty.

Spirit of God

First are spirits and the Spirit of God.

What has been made clear to us throughout the letter of John is that there is darkness and there is light, there is truth and there are lies, there is love and there is hate and similarly now, there is the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, one is from God and one is of the Anti-Christ.

Again in Matthew 7:15-20  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

You will know the wolves in sheep’s clothing based on their fruit or their deeds.

There is only one good and God-sent spirit, that is the Holy Spirit and the fruits of that the Holy Spirit produces are love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness, peace, and self-control. Therefore, it can be safe to assume that the deceased and depraved fruits of the anti-Christ’s spirit is anything opposing what was mentioned, such as lust, murder, adultery, sorcery, debauchery and the like.

This does not mean that Christianity is about bearing fruit or doing good deeds but on who we are rooted in. Are we rooted in Christ’s truth or the Anti-Christ? What we are rooted determines the fruits we bear and the deeds that come from such character, because behind our deeds is our beliefs.

It’s in the antithesis of these opposing pairs that John proclaims that God does not straddle the fence, He is light, He is truth and He is love. I understand that there may be gray areas in the church, different stances on different topics and areas, but get this, there is no gray area Christian.  

You are either a sheep or a goat, you are either of darkness or light, you either have the Spirit of Truth or you have the Spirit of Falsehood. You are either rooted in Christ or you are rooted the Anti-Christ, rooted in falsehood, rooted in death.

Confess

The second word is confess, which is very much related to the Spirit of God. Confession within this is the acknowledgement of Christ’s identity. Who Christ is, is at the very center of this doctrinal test, indeed, at the very He center of our Christian life. If Christ is the sole standard to measure doctrines, so should Christ be the measure of our lives.

This is how we know who has the Spirit of Falsehood and is of the world, and who has the Spirit of God, and is of Christ. We must measure all of the prophecies, the messages, the ethics, and the morality that we are constantly bombarded by through every medium.

We have learned from previous messages that there are cult-like movements, and pseudo-Christians that we need to stand on guard for, but that is not all. They are but a symptom of a larger pandemic that plagues this world, our society, and our institutions and that is the spirit of the Anti-Christ, which is in the world already.            

But why is the important to get our doctrine straight? Why can’t we just go along our merry way once we get “saved”?

Doctrine for some may be an arduous study of textbooks and listening to teachers and preachers drone on and on, but true doctrine to the first century church is what kept the church orthodox. It was what kept the church on the right path and allowed it to thrive because what was true back then, is still true now: what you believe determines what you do.

If the mind is left with uncertain and ungrounded thoughts about who Jesus and who God is, it hinders the heart from growing into true love and affection. We need to know who Jesus is in order to love him, but also need to know him biblically.

That is why loving Jesus with our mind is so vital. The ungrounded mind is a vulnerable foothold for the enemy to have mastery over your whole being. When the mind goes, so the heart will follow.

Confession however, is not just referring to the acknowledging of Jesus Christ coming as a man on Earth, for anyone can pay lip service to Jesus.  It also concerned with putting our faith on Jesus, laying our life down for Jesus.

Why? Because when we see Jesus for who He is and recognize him for who He is, we know that His kingdom is the only lasting kingdom. We know Jesus is the wellspring of life and the only one that can satisfy. We know that Jesus is king and reigns as we speak, therefore, our confession of who He is, is an act of trust because we are now casting our hope on Him. And if He is King, it means He is the final authority. He alone has the authority to forgive and the power demolish sin’s grip; he has the authority to direct our lives into holiness.  

We cannot separate the historical Jesus and the eternal Christ; it would be treason to the highest authority, and the highest name in the heavens, and that name is Jesus Christ.

When we confess Jesus incarnate, we are also bowing down to Him as King and relying on Him as Savior.

The Hearers

There is a relationship between the Spirit of Truth and confession and that is: the Spirit of Truth produces true confession. This is the very same corresponding relationship between the Message which is Jesus, and the Hearers which is the church. The following verse shows us well.

1 John 4:4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

John commends the church he is writing to for overcoming the false prophets and their erroneous messages about Christ. They have stood firm in what they have been taught about who Jesus us. John further assures them that they are from God and Christ is greater than the Anti-Christ who is in the world. What an encouragement to be written to the church.

However, there is one, groundbreaking, all-important, and beautiful truth that can easily be taken for granted within this verse. Again, we would be remiss of the simple beauty that John writes about here.

You are from God, and have overcome them.

The condition on which they are able to overcome is because they are from God. From what we have been reading, to be from God is to have the Spirit of Truth. How does one come to acquire this Spirit of Truth? Other parts of John’s letter give us more insight.

1 John 2:29 “… you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”

1 John 4:7“…whoever loves has been born of God and knows God”

1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…”

The conquering the Anti-Christ’s heresies was not just about sound doctrine but it is ultimately because they are born of God. There is an identity that has been given to the church not their own doing but because they have been birthed into a new family. A part of this identity is receiving the Spirit of Truth, which is ultimately not about knowledge; it is not a degree to be attained or a seminar to go to. It is first and foremost a revival of the heart.

Receiving the Spirit of Truth that produces theological discernment and the desire to be grounded in true doctrine comes from Jesus alone. Why?  

Romans 3:10 “No one is righteous, no not one. No one understands. No one seeks God”

This cannot be understated or water-down. We are hell-bent towards rebellion and rejecting God and his truth; it’s in very fabric of our soul, at the forefront of our mind and at the gate of hearts, but that is not the end of the story.

“For sin is the sting that results from death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:56-57

The victory is Jesus.

The only reason there is true confession and a repentant response to the message of the Gospel that is Jesus Christ, is because of Jesus Christ. We were once on the other side of the truth; in fact we opposed it. This verse is not saying the mere lip service confession puts you on the side of Life, but it is the revival of the heart that finds their salvation in Christ that produces true, heartfelt, soul-grounding, mind transforming confession.

Every battle we win against false doctrine, the Anti-Christ, sin, and evil is because of the power of the cross. It is because of Jesus who sits on the throne.

It’s as simple as,

1 John 5:12 “Whoever has the son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  

It cannot be emphasized enough that our salvation is through Christ alone.

This is the beautifully simple truth that transforms lives and regenerates hearts. We cannot miss it.

Finally, John writes, “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of error” 1 John 4:5-6

If we are not from God nor are we born of God, we are from the world and the Spirit of Falsehood dwells within us. This much John has made clear in his letter. That is why John says “do not love the world” in 1 John 2:15. Lovers of the world listen to one another and affirm what each one is saying; not only is there agreement, there is also fellowship amongst them. Not loving the world does not mean we hate people; It means we hate the desires that are of the world.

1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.”

Indeed, the most prominent message against Christianity in our post-modern society is that there is no God, and that material world is all that there is. If there is no God, there is no moral standard, and if there is no spiritual self, then there is no need for salvation.

There is probably no greater heresy facing our day than the teaching that says there is no God.

Richard Dawkins is a leading evolutionary biologist and a famed atheist that has published many books and has debated many theists about faith and the existence of God.

“The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no.”

Even Richard Dawkins believes that this is one the most important questions to answer because how you answer this questions determines what you do because what you believe determines what you do. However, Richard Dawkins got it wrong, the answer is not scientific in nature. It’s spiritual. It has always been spiritual, the letter of John has been clear on that.

It’s not just in academia because it’s also in pop-culture.

This is a quote from Woody Allen,

"I firmly believe, and I don't say this as a criticism, that life is meaningless. I'm not alone in thinking this — there have been many great minds far, far superior to mine, that have come to that conclusion. And unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it's not, I think it is. I think it's a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, and that's just the way I feel about it."

" What I would recommend — this is the solution that I've come up with — is distraction. That's all you can do! You get up, you can be distracted by your love life, by the baseball game, by the movies, by the nonsense. Can I get my kid into this private school? Will this girl go out with me Saturday night? Can I think of an ending for the third act of my play? Am I going to get the promotion in my office? All this stuff, but in the end the universe burns out.”

The warning to the first century church seems just as pressing today. You do not have to be an atheist to have their values and their priorities; all we need to do is buy into their distractions.  Do not love the world and its desires for these desires are but distractions and lead us astray from the glory of God. The truth is most of us are distracted.

These messages are everywhere therefore we must test every spirit, even our own.

For Your Joy

I want to end this message with how John’s letter begins, because we cannot fully understand the context of this passage when we don’t go back to the purpose on which is it was written for. This purpose is found in

1 John 1:2-4 “the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and hear we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

The purpose of proclamation is for fellowship, but we must have the right one. This is the Gospel, and at the center of Gospel is Jesus Christ for He himself is the Life that John talks about; Jesus came and died to free us from the power of sin. And as we have learned, our response to the proclamation, and to the Gospel is not the work of our will but the work of Jesus on cross that regenerates our depraved hearts that cannot hope to please or follow God on its own accord. He sends us His Spirit that does the impossible: allow us to be in communion with the Holy God by giving us new desires.

The ultimate purpose of knowing true doctrine is to always lead us to a deeper sense of fellowship with Jesus and within this fellowship is unspeakable joy.  

The ultimate purpose of John’s writing to the church with all his warnings, and his admonishing, and the call to love is because he wants us to be filled with joy. And joy comes only from the fellowship with Jesus; it comes from our relationship with the Word of Life. I’m not just talking about Sunday worship, Wednesday prayer meeting, Friday bible study, but the pure enjoyment of Jesus, everyday, where every breath is praise and every day is worship.

I’m not just talking about happiness, but joy in spite of our happiness being gone. Joy in spite of circumstantial reasons and emotional ups and downs.

This was Christ’s prayer John 17:13 “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

Jesus prayed for your joy, in fact, that you may have his joy and eventually have it in its fullness when you come into his physical presence; this can only come from relationship with Him not in anything else.

By now I hope that I’ve made you uncomfortable enough to realize that loving Christ on our own strength is impossible but it’s also vital. We cannot fake our love for Christ, we cannot mask it with good deeds, Sunday attendance, and even sound knowledge of the bible; Jesus knows our heart. It has to be true affection and love towards the Almighty. Anything less would be death. We cannot produce authentic joy in Christ. Only Jesus can do that when he does the work in our heart, only then can there be joy.

This joy comes from fellowship and sad to say is that not many of us have it. We are too easily distracted and led astray. I think it is one of the main reasons why John warns against the Spirit of Falsehood, because it will distract us and turn us away from Christ and take us away from true joy. It takes us away from our true design.

Are you tired of living a joyless Christian life? Are you tired of living your faith from Sunday to Sunday? Are you tired of sin taking joy away from your life because it hinders us from seeing Christ in all His glory?

I heard this a lot growing up and I hear a lot now, even from myself as much as I try not to admit to people because it’s one we’ve heard too many times to count.

“My walk is dry.”

“I don’t know where I am.”

“The word of God has no effect on me.”

“I’m still struggling with _________.”

“My circumstances have not changed.”

“I’m doubting.”

Endless Christian murmurs.

Philippians 2:12-13 “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”

Work out does not mean simply do good deeds, it’s fighting for your joy in Jesus because the willingness to fight is the work of God, through what Jesus did at the cross. A part of this working out of our salvation is guarding our heart and minds by testing the spirits, and measuring them against biblical truth, measuring them against Jesus. This requires work on our part, but a work that throws itself at the feet of Jesus and trusts that He will see us through the battle.

Therefore,  

Take a hold of joy, and run to the cross.

 

Discussion Questions:

1.    What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.    What does this passage say is the distinction of a believing spirit and the spirit of the antichrist?

3.    Why is it important to know that He who is in us is mightier than he who is in the world?

4.    What does it look like to “keep listening” in order to know Christ and keep from becoming deceived?

5.    What has reading the Bible on your own done for your life?

6.    How can I pray for you?

 

 

RADICAL LOVE, RISKING ALL - PROVE IT

Radical Love

Prove it / 1 John 3:11–24

Message Title: Radical Love, Risking all

Radical -  a very different from usual or traditional - extreme

Just this week, another bombing happened in Manchester UK. Authority said it was done by a radicalized Muslim young man. UK is not in extreme alert. The fight to defeat radical Islam. Men and women who gave their life for the cause they believe.

What people would radically do for the love of work, hobby, interest, material things. What sports enthusiast would radically subject their body to attain their goal

Church history gives us an account of men and women who were radical for the right reasons. They did not take someone’s life but they gave their lives for the cause of the Gospel.

The Gospel is a radical message! Old preacher used to say the gospel should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. (Mark Buchanan)

Mark believes there is a visible gap between the life Jesus offered and the life we’re living between the church Jesus envisioned and the church we see today.

What happened over the years? God meant his church to be both good news and bad news, an aroma and a stench, a disruptive force to whoever or whatever opposes the kingdom of God and the healing an liberating power to those who seek it.

What happened? When did start making it our priority to be safe instead of dangerous, business as usual instead of radical, nice instead of holy, cautious instead of counting everything loss in order to be found in Christ?

Jesus said,

Matthew 10:37–38 ESV Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Luke 9:23 ESV And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Jesus said, Love is our identity

John 13:35 ESV By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

What are you willing to do for love? Love for God? Love for others?

How are we to develop and practice a “Radical kind of Love” for others?

Big Idea of the Message: We must love others by being willing to lay down our comforts, our security, and even our own lives for them—just like Jesus.

 

1. TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER IS A COMMAND NOT A SUGGESTION

Yes! its a command not a suggestion.

1 John 3:11 ESV For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

This command is for all time and for all believers. Its never been a suggestion but a command.

Jesus summarized the whole commandment

Matthew 22:37–39 ESV

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

An old command

1 John 2:7 ESV Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.

A new command

John 13:34 ESV A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

The command to love one another has not changed. People change, situation change but this command stays the same and will continue throughout eternity. The society, the culture we live in might change but to love one another is a command that will endure forever. We need to be constantly reminded of this command because we easily forget, easily overwhelmed by problems. We need to take seriously this command because to love one another is not an easy task. It is a command that require moving outside of our comfort zone. It is a command that require sacrifice and self-denial.

The purpose of the Law

Galatians 3:24 ESV

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Matthew 5:17 ESV

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

The purpose of God’s command is more than a list of thing to do but just like the law, it points us Christ.

This command is not a burden

Many look at God’s command as a burden. Something to kill their joy and take life. God’s command is not to burden us.

1 John 5:3 ESV

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Jesus made an invitation to take his yoke upon us

Matthew 11:29–30 ESV

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Who is the most hardest person to love? The person in front of you! This is the person that gets into your nerve. This is the person that gets into your face. This is the noisy and inconsiderate driver, passenger, classmate, co-worker, street people, your kids, your wife, your husband, your parents, your brothers and sisters in Christ,… the list goes on.

We are commanded to love others as we love ourselves. How much do you love yourself? Enough to feed, cloth, take care, shelter, pamper, protect, vacation and the list goes on. It’s easy to read this command to others but its different when it comes to applying it to ourselves. To consider the interest and welfare of others before our own is not easy task, its RADICAL

Philippians 2:3–4 ESV

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 2:20 ESV

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

A warning: Don’t be like Cain

The author points to the story of Cain to help us define love and hate. Cain’s murder of his brother is an extreme example of hating—not loving—someone (3:12, 15). The author uses this story as a rhetorical device to make us cringe. No one wants to be categorized with this murderer! The author of 1 John emphasizes that love is not just a feeling: Deeds concretely define love

1 John 3:12 ESV

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Verse by Verse 1 John 3:12

John in this verse sets forth two representatives of two different spiritual families: the family of God and the family of Satan.  Cain represents the family of Satan and Abel represents the family of God.  These families stand in stark contrast to one another. 

1 John 3:15 ESV

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Verse by Verse 1 John 3:12

The origin of Cain’s sin came from Satan; it came out of his spiritual relationship with Satan.  The word “of” means origin, source.  The source of Cain’s behavior is in the Devil.  Cain did not become a child of the Devil by murdering his brother.  He murdered his brother because he was a child of the Devil.  His spiritual birth was of the Devil

Verse by Verse 1 John 3:12

What is the origin of spiritual rebellion?  It does not begin in man.  Love springs from God and hate originates in the Devil.  If you are in the grip of hate, it has a satanic source. 

A warning: The world will hate those who will obey this command

1 John 3:13 ESV

Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

This is why non-Christians hate the confidence and conviction of believers who know where they stand with God.  They hate the grace concept because it violates their self-trust.  Non-Christians often love religion and morality but religion and morality without the grace of Christ. Pride often seeks to diminish those to whom we compare ourselves.  Others make us feel small so we seek to cut them down a notch or two.  As Abel threatened Cain, so also Christians threaten other Christians they deem more able, more talented, or gifted. 

Does your heart burn in anger toward another Christian?  You just cannot stand him.  Why don’t you call it what it is?  Hatred.  Hatred originated in the Devil.  May God draw our hearts toward Him and His love. 

The people around us are the very people that we need to be applying this command. This church is in no way perfect. We are all broken and if not for God we have no reason for existence. I am not perfect and so do you. If you go to another church you will also find broken people. Because we are who we are until we reach heaven, we need this command to help us not only survive in this life but also to thrive and prosper.

Joshua 1:8 ESV

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

 

2.  Our love for one another gives evidence to our faith

A person accused of doing something will not be proven guilty until hard evidence is presented. Our message series is entitled, “Prove it”. We cannot prove what we claim if we don’t have it. We cannot prove we love God if our life does not show it.

Our faith must start in Jesus - Believe in Jesus - them love others

1 John 3:23 ESV

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

God never meant this command to go by itself. It is not a command to simply fix our defects or make us look good. It is a command born out of our faith in God. Before we even attempt to love one another we need to make sure that we have obeyed the first command, “to believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ”.

Ephesians 2:8–10 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

James 2:19 ESV

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

To believe in Jesus Christ means to put your complete trust in who is he is.

John 14:6 ESV

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 10:9–10 ESV

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

As a result:

John 1:12 ESV

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 3:18 ESV

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Our love for the brothers gives evidence to our faith

1 John 3:14 ESV

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

1 John 4:7 ESV

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:21 ESV

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

We love not because to gain something but to give evidence, to prove that we have already received God’s love, salvation in Christ that will enable us to love others. Only believers born of God are the only people who can express the kind of love John teach in his letter.

1 John 3:24 NLT

Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

Two things happen or result in our obedience to God: Evidence

a. We remain in fellowship with him.

b. The Holy Spirit lives in us.

1 John 4:15 ESV

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

Are you struggling to love others? Are you about to give upand disappointed that you are not getting any response from the love you show to other. Let the love of God be your motivation in loving others.

2 Corinthians 5:14 ESV

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

 

3.  TO LOVE LIKE JESUS DID IS THE ONLY WAY TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER

1 John 3:16 ESV

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

1 John 3:16 NLT

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

The giving of ones life is the ultimate expression of love as opposed to the taking of life. As John wrote in his gospel.

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus willingly gave his life for us.

John 10:11 ESV

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 15:13 ESV

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

It’s unthinkable for God to give his Son for us. For the creator to give himself for his creation. Through this expression of love, we come to know and understand what love is all about. It’s in the person of Jesus who willingly gave his life for us. Jesus’ path to the cross mark the selfless, self-giving way of life to which his followers are called. This is RADICAL love!

We might not be given the opportunity to lay down our life for others. To stop a bullet, a knife, an accident or persecution but material possessions help sustain life.

But we are presented daily with needs that are divinely appointed for us to meet.

1 John 3:17 ESV

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Our exposure to the needs of others is not an accident. When we are presented with a need of a brother, it is meant to help us practice love. If we have the means to help a brother who is in need, our heart and hands must be open to help. The reality is we don’t have enough resources to meet all the needs that comes our way, but that should not stop us from loving others. You just need to be open to God’s direction. John argued, don’t close your heart to the needs of others. Let God’s love flow through you to those who need it.

The true test of live is not one’s verbal profession of it but ones willingness to help others. To show love to others empowered by the love of Jesus Christ to us.

1 John 3:18 ESV

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

The Macedonian believers

2 Corinthians 8:1–5 (ESV)      Encouragement to Give Generously         

8 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.     

 

A Radical kind of love is what we need to express these days.

Church, I challenge you to take risk again. We cannot afford to play it safe. We live in a dangerous world.

Loving people is complicated. It can hurt. It is messy. Because of this, we tend to insulate ourselves from the very people who need our love. First John calls us to push past the fear of making mistakes or getting hurt. It calls us—Jesus’ followers, God’s children, and the Spirit’s vessels—to love others not “with word or tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

 

The best place to start loving another is through our Membership Covenant

What it means to be a Member of Living Hope Christian Church

1. I WILL PROTECT THE UNITY OF MY CHURCH

…by acting in love toward other members

…by refusing to gossip

…by following the leadership and direction of the elders and others responsible for

 spiritual care

2. I WILL SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY LIFE OF MY CHURCH

…by attending faithfully

…by living a good life

…by giving regularly

3. I WILL SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MY CHURCH

…by praying for its spiritual growth

…by inviting the un-churched to attend

…by warmly welcoming those who visit

…by speaking to unbelievers about Jesus

…by participating in a small group

4. I WILL SERVE THE MINISTRY OF MY CHURCH

…by discovering my gifts and talents

…by being equipped to serve

…by developing a servant lifestyle

 

Discussion Questions:

1.    What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.    What does it mean to love “in deed and truth”? (v.18)

3.    What are God’s two foremost commands according to this passage (as well as the teachings of Jesus)?

4.    How is the Holy Spirit proof of our having the life of Christ in us?

5.    Have you ever experienced the world’s hating you because of Jesus?

6.    How can I pray for you?

 

 

 

 

Truth, a tough pill to swallow: PROVE IT

Truth, is a tough pill to swallow

1 John 1:5–10 ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

A Christian’s life should be living proof of their connection to the Father. Essentially, our sacrificial love for others is a testament of our sacrificial love for God. In his first epistle—which forms the basis for this series—the apostle John walks through several aspects of the Christian life, revealing where the evidence lies for each. Do you know God? You can prove it because the evidence is in your obedience. Do you truly love your neighbour? You can prove it because the evidence is in your sacrifice. We don’t earn God’s forgiveness with our good deeds, but a transformed life should look just like that—transformed. You can say it with your mouth, but the evidence is in your actions.

 

Big Idea of the Message: When we walk with God, we will be moved to confess our sin, seek forgiveness, and turn away from a sinful life.

At the heart of John’s letter is the transforming power of the gospel.

John 3:16 ESV For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

We have nothing to PROVE if we have not submitted our life to the transforming power of the Gospel. Jesus said, John 8:32 (ESV)”and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The key to our daily transformation is The Message

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, “that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”.

John the gospel writer used the “light” 24 times in 16 verses in the gospel and 6 times in 5 verses in 1 John. The idea and teaching about “God is light and in him is no darkness” did not originate from John nor from the other disciples. They all drew from the OT teaching. In order to understand this message, we need to go back to the OT and how John’s readers frame of understanding on light an darkness.

Light and Darkness in the Old Testament

At the heart of Old Testament’s symbolic use of light and darkness is the connection the text makes between light and the personal presence of God, and darkness as all that opposes God. This link begins as early as Gen 1:2-3, where God creates light to serve as a boundary to darkness.

Genesis 1:2–3 (ESV) The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Light is not only instantly linked to God’s presence but also institutes time and order over the chaos of the formless void (Walton, “Creation,” 59).

God creates a functioning, orderly environment for people, and the creation of stars gives humanity seasons and cycles of time by which to order their lives (Gen 1).

The link of light with the Creator also acts as a symbolic tie between light and life.

If light symbolizes God’s presence, and God is the author of life, then surely where God is, life abounds.

The link between God’s presence and light in Genesis remains strictly symbolic.

Genesis 1:2 presents light as a servant of God, subject to God’s orders. Light may symbolically suggest the concept of God’s presence, but it is not God, nor is it His presence. This understanding sets ancient Judaism apart from its contemporaries that worshiped bodies of light as gods in themselves (Hamilton, Handbook, 25).

If God’s presence is light and life, - then opposition to Him brings darkness and death

If condemnation and death are spoken of as darkness  - then salvation from these evils is also spoken in terms of light  

Thus also God Himself (His presence) becomes a light leading a person out of darkness, toward salvation. The tone of confidence that pervades these passages demonstrates that there is no doubt that God’s presence as light will conquer and even eliminate the darkness. Old Testament prophecies of the ultimate restoration of God’s people are full of the language of light and dawn.

Let me make it clear that there is no contest between light and darkness.

GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER LIGHT AND DARKNESS. Darkness is under the authority of God’s word.

Light and Darkness in the New Testament

The light and darkness theme in the New Testament builds on the symbolism visible in the Old Testament and in Second Temple Judaism, but re-focuses it on Jesus as Messiah and the bodily presence of God.

The Gospel of John, provides the fullest New Testament development of light/darkness dualism, a “theology of light” (Piper, “Light, Light and Darkness,” 132).

The prologue of John’s Gospel equates the Word (logos) with the light of God, drawing heavily on Old Testament symbolic language to communicate Jesus’ identity.

John 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:9 (ESV) The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.


Thus, the full symbolism of light merges in the person of Jesus as salvation, knowledge or revelation, wisdom, life, healing, and God’s presence (Culpepper, Fourth Gospel, 190). 

Johannine ethics develop out of this dualism.

“Walking in the light” refers to keeping Jesus’ commands (John 8:12; 12:35), while those who

“walk in darkness” (1 John 1:6–7) oppose Jesus by transgressing His commands.

The NT Context: the Graeco-Roman World

The Graeco-Roman concept of light is centered on sight.

In the Graeco-Roman world, light was not only how one sees but also what one sees (Plato Republic VI).

When Jesus refers to the eye as the lamp of the body, He is reflecting precisely this Graeco-Roman idea

Matthew 6:22 ESV “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

Luke 11:34 ESV Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

This idea of illumination and vision leads easily into light as both the process and goal of learning.

Light is understood as the act of coming to know and also what becomes known.

Thus Paul speaks of the light of the gospel and of God shining His light in the hearts of believers in nearly the same sentence  

2 Corinthians 4:4–6 ESV

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1:10 ESV

and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

With this understanding we will approach the 2nd half of 1 John 1, by answering three questions:

What is the CLAIM?

What is the TRUTH (REALITY)?

What is the ACTION required?

 

IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

1. CLAIM: v.6 If we say we have fellowship ... 

The Message If we claim that we experience a shared life with him...

- Fellowship -(GK) koinonia, communion, a shared life

My relationship with God is OK in spite my lifestyle. Who are you to judge me. How can you claim that your relationship with God is ok, you have the light of God in your life if act opposite to what you claim.

You can also say that, My faith is personal, so what I do with it is personal

A person might not be saying it this way but absence of the many who calls themselves “Christians” in the life of the local church is increasing. They might be present physically but just as spectator or they are not present at all.

Illustration: On Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017, The National Post

Canadians may be vacating the pews but they are keeping the faith: poll

Beneath Canadians’ widespread abandonment of places of worship and their negative view of even the word “religion,” a new poll has found a solid core of faith that continues to shape the country.

The survey, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with Faith in Canada 150, grouped respondents into four categories according to their answers on a range of questions gauging their beliefs and religious practices.

“We have a society that has a secular government and there is a general assumption of faith being very private,” said Ray Pennings, executive vice-president of think tank Cardus. “On the other hand, when you actually take a look at everyday society, the majority of people are people of faith to one degree or another, and faith informs and influences many of the ways we deal with each other on a day-to-day basis.”

Place this survey under the light of God’s word and you see a big disconnect. Faith grow in community. Faith is personal and at the same time corporate - that’s why we call it FAMILY of God.

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

1 John 1:6 The Message If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. 

TRUTH (REALITY): we lie and do not practice the truth. We walk in opposition to God. Own Translation: If I claim to be in the light and have the light but my life is a constant walk in the dark,

In other word: I’m a fake, You’re a fake

Fake - has the external look of the real one but it’s still a fake. No matter what you a fake dollar will always be a fake dollar

Listen, no one will get it right all time. We will never be perfect in this life but that doesn’t mean that we can’t live constantly in the light.

- Walk - to live or behave in a customary manner, with the possible focus upon continuity of action - to live, to behave

This truth is a tough pill to swallow!

Knowing the truth is not enough. We need to act on it.

ACTION: PROVE YOUR TALK WITH YOUR WALK

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

John insisted that this is where a Christian will find that real communion with God. This will give proof of God’s existence.

The test of our relationship with God: we follow Jesus

John 8:12 (ESV) I Am the Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Walking in the light is not just seeing where you are going but who are you following? It is not enough to know where you’re going but equally important is how will you get there.

We walk in the light because we have the light in us. We will not get everything right or a 100% but the issue is now. Are you walking in the light? or are you walking in opposition to the light, darkness.
As we walk in the light where God is, them real communion will happen between us and God.

But if we walk in the light:

It is significant that John talked of walking in the light, rather than according to the light.

To walk according to the light would require sinless perfection and would make fellowship with God impossible for sinful humans.

To walk in it, however, suggests instead openness and responsiveness to the light. John did not think of Christians as sinless, even though they are walking in the light, as is made clear in the last part of this verse.

That happen when we walk in the light?

We have fellowship with one another. This fellowship is not about between Christians but between God and the believers. When we walk in the light we enter into communion with God. It is not about us but it is about God and God alone. God becomes the sole focus of the fellowship. It’s not about meeting my needs or others but all about God.

John added that, the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

When we a in true fellowship with God, we are being cleansed from every sin.

So long as there is true openness to the light of divine truth, Christians’ failures are under the cleansing power of the shed blood of Christ.

Indeed, only in virtue of the Savior’s work on the cross can there be any fellowship between imperfect creatures and the infinitely perfect God

1 John 3:2–3 (ESV) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Your Relationship with God will only exist in the sphere of God’s Light

IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SIN

2. CLAIM: I’m better than rest when it comes to sin

#1 Claim: v.8 If we say we have no sin, ...

I have no sin

But when a believer is experiencing true fellowship with God he may then be tempted to think or say that he is, at that moment at least, free from sin. John warned against this self-deluding conception. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures

We often fall into thinking that since I’m a good person, better than the rest, I have no sin.

v.8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

TRUTH (REALITY):: we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. We fool ourself into believing that we don’t have any sin in our life.

1 John 1:8 The Message If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense.

Illustration: Have you heard about the story about “The Emperor’s New Clothes”?

No one is without sin

Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

Sin - Transgression of God’s will, either by doing what he forbids or failing to do what requires.

Harper’s Bible Dictionary

If we truly understand that truth that God’s word teaches about the heart of man

Jeremiah 17:9 ESVThe heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Just because we are not conscious of failure does not mean that we are free from it.

James 4:17 ESVSo whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

In not doing what we know is right we are committing sin. If the truth that is in us is the main controlling, motivating influence - this self deception will not happen. Whether our claim is for a short or permanent time, our claim is still false.

10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

#2 Claim: v. 10 If we say we have not sinned, ...

-I see nothing wrong in what I did

When we are confronted with God’s Word about our action that resulted in sin, we need to admit it rather than deny it. We have the tendency to rationalize, to explain it in such a way we won’t be held responsible. It’s somebody else fault not mine. My hand are clean.

10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

TRUTH (REALITY):: We make God a liar, instead of us owning the responsibility.

Indeed the Truth is a hard pill to swallow.

ACTION: PROVE YOUR TALK WITH YOUR CONFESSION

TRUTH IS A HARD PILL TO SWALLOW

Illustration: One of the toughest act is to say the following phrase with 3 words:

“I was wrong”
“I am sorry”
“Please forgive me”

God is a gracious and loving God. He provided a way back to him.

We ought to be ready at all times to acknowledge any failure which God’s light may expose. 

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

 “If we confess our sins, He … will forgive the sins we confess and moreover will even cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

Naturally only God knows at any moment the full extent of a person’s unrighteousness.

Each Christian, however, is responsible to acknowledge whatever the light makes him aware of, when he does so, a complete and perfect cleansing is granted him.

It is comforting to learn that the forgiveness which is promised here is both absolutely assured because God is faithful and just.

 

God is just or righteous when he forgives the believer’s sin because of the atoning sacrifice which the Lord Jesus has made. Walking in the light involves increased consciousness of our sinful unrighteousness and taking active steps to rid ourselves of that sin by claiming God’s forgiveness and cleansing through open confession of sin before God.

Believers who desire to walk with God confess their sin openly and frankly to God. We make the judgment that our sins are awful before God. We agree with God in condemning sin.

 

Confession does not mean to plead with God for forgiveness, feel sorry for sin, to pray for forgiveness, to feel sorry for sins or to make restitution for our sins. No, the idea is to accept the idea that our sins violate an absolutely holy God and that our only solution for sin is the death of Christ on the cross.

 

We always view sin for what it really is – a violation of God’s character. That is why God will forgive our sin based only on the cross of Christ. God forgave sin when Christ paid the penalty for that sin. Jesus meets all of the Father’s holy demands by His payment for sins on the cross. Jesus died in the sinner’s stead; He died in our place. It cost Jesus Christ a great deal to qualify us for forgiveness.

Your Relationship with sin is no longer in the dark but in the light of God

 

Conclusion:

Truth is indeed a tough pill to swallow. When we walk with God, we will be moved to confess our sin, seek forgiveness, and turn away from a sinful life - repentance.

 

Prove your talk with your walk because your relationship with God will only exist the sphere of His light.

 

Prove your talk with your confession because your relationship with sin is no longer in the dark but in the light of God.

 


Discussion Questions:

1.           What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.          How can we know for sure if we really know Jesus personally?

3.          What is one thing you do regularly that makes the biggest perceivable impact on your relationship with God?

4.          According to verse 5, treasuring God’s Word is key to growing in God. What has most helped you be faithful in personal Bible study?

5.          How are you more like Jesus right now than you were, say, three years ago?

6.         How can I pray for you?

 

 

From The Head Through Hands: PROVE IT

Von Jovi Armamento

Text: 1 John 1:1-4

That which from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

 

Introduction

The Book of First John is filled with rich doctrinal and practical truths that relates to its very roots—the Deity and Humanity of Jesus Christ. Sadly, some preachers tend to focus ONLY to the practical teachings of the book and miss the fundamental truth or reason behind why it was written. By reading this book, we should focus not just on WHAT WE SHOUL DO but more importantly on WHAT WE SHOULD KNOW about who Jesus Christ, because it “OUR BELIEF DETERMINES OUR BEHAVIOR.” It is my goal today that I disclose to you clearly both the doctrinal and practical truths from this particular book.

John wrote this epistle sometime in the late 1st century between A.D. 85-95. It was during the time when the early Christians were being persecuted by those who deny Jesus Christ. And on the other downside, it was not only those who deny Jesus Christ was the problem, but the unawareness of the early Christians of the heretical teachings that spouses the denial of the humanity of Christ, which was entering into some churches. And the dilemma was that it could affect the way of the early Christians live.

Therefore, the Apostle John took the opportunity without hesitation, but with full of conviction, of bringing them back to the truth of Christ and Christian living by writing this letter. He urges readers to refine their theological understanding, sharpen their ethical rigor, and heighten their devotional intensity.

In this book we see that John reaffirmed the core of Christianity, saying that either we evidence the sound doctrine, obedience, and love that characterize all Christians, or else we are not true Christians.

 

There are two underlying truths that the Apostle John is giving us in this book:

a.     Your knowledge about God determines what you do. (What you BELIEVE drives how you LIVE.)

b.     Your obedience to God is the evidence of the existence of God.

 

It was written to…

a.     Address some issues concerning the antichrists (2:18-25; 4:1-2)

b.     Affirm the core of Christianity (1:1-4; 4:7-5:5)

c.     Assure of their salvation (1:5-2:6)

d.     Align the believer’s actions from the sound belief—God’s love shared to others (2:28-3:24; 4:7-21)

 

Nowadays, many different worldviews, or point of views, are being held by every individual. A ‘worldview’ is a truth claim that a person holds, or a belief that by which determines an individual’s doings. The Christian worldview is one of those worldviews—a worldview that affirms God’s existence and His redemptive work in history, through Christ, for His people.

A truth claim, or a belief, is very fundamental for one’s life, for it determines the action of a person.

In this individualistic-pluralistic-skeptic-antagonistic world, there lies a question—how do we know the truth? Where do you find the truth? And how do we cater others to the truth? That is what we are going to find out by going through the Book of First John in this series which is entitled, “PROVE IT!”

The Apostle John started the letter by building a ground for his authority and credibility, and laying down the very purpose of why John was writing the letter. It is important that we consider the purpose of the Book of First John, thus we need to take a careful look and understanding on this first part of his letter.

 

Propositional statement: Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be aware of the importance of the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ for it is the core belief for our obedience, conduct and behavior which are incorporated with LOVE.

Outline

There are Scriptural truths that we should consider as we read the first four verses of the book.

 

I.               Jesus is REAL (v. 1)

“That which from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…”

Looking at the verses, John was obviously referring to his experience that Jesus Christ was real, and that He was a person.

But there was a problem that concerns to the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ. Apostle John wrote the letter not just to urge the children of faith to live accordingly in obedience and love for God and others. He wrote this book to contend for the faith. There was a heresy that denies the humanity of Jesus Christ, which somehow affected early Christians in the late 1st Century and early 2nd century. They were affected not just doctrinally but practically.

Here are some famous heresies in the late 1st Century that concerning the humanity and deity of Jesus.

Docetism – The teaching in the 1st Century that denies the humanity of Jesus Christ; that Jesus only seemed or appeared to be a human.

Gnosticism – The teaching that regard the human Jesus as a ghost. All matter is evil and the spirit if good, therefore God cannot be the subject of feelings or human experiences.

Ceritnthianism – The teaching that regards the dual personality of Jesus Christ, that there are times that He is divine and times that He is just human; that the two nature is separable and cannot appear at the same time.

Apollinarianism – The teaching in the 4th Century that argued that Jesus had a human body and soul, but said that the divine LOGOS replaced the human spirit.

Eutychianism – The teaching that the humanity and the divinity of Christ merged to form a third, compound nature.

Now just considering those dangerous teachings, you can just imagine how Apostle John felt. So there he goes mentioning an empirical argument that they had heard, seen, looked upon, and touched. He was saying that, “it’s real! In fact we have had an experience! We did not just have an informational-intellectual knowledge about Jesus, we had an experiential encounter with the God-man Jesus!”

The world today would not claim a belief unless it is validated with empirical reasoning—if it indeed exists through your senses. And hey, John did. In fact, he was one of His disciples, and called him, “the beloved disciple” (John 21:20-24). He walked with Him, he did ministry with Him, and He stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified (John 19:26-27), and along with the other disciples, they witnessed Christ when He was risen from the grave; they talked to Him and ate breakfast with him (John 20:2-10). The Apostle John encountered Jesus Christ, and so did the early Christians. And you can see and know that Jesus is real too!

He is real, and He has been revealed.

 

II.              Jesus is REVEALED (v.2)

“concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us”

We

John continued with a strong claim, that the life was manifested to them. What is this life? Who is this life? It is Jesus! He is the LIFE who lived on the earth to bring eternal life to His people. He is the manifesting life.

The word ‘manifest’ means ‘able to be seen,’ ‘clearly shown or visible.’ Jesus was publicly seen and known. The repetition of “made manifest” stresses the revelatory nature of Christ’s coming: he was sent from and revealed by God (ESV Study Bible: footnotes, v.2)

Jesus took a form of a human—He was incarnated.

John 1:14, “The Word became flesh.”

Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature…

 

Here are some scriptural bases for Christ’s humanity, that He was revealed.

Jesus had…   (Norman Geisler and Ron Rhodes, Conviction without Compromise, pp. 61-67)

Human Parents – He had a biological mother (Matthew 1:18-19)

Human Birth – He was born of a virgin woman and Mary had a normal 9-months pregnancy (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:24, 26, 31; Luke 2:6-7, 22-23; Galatians 4:4)

Human Growth – From an embryo to a fetus, and later from a baby to a young child, and grew and became strong (Luke 2:16; Matthew 2:11; Luke 2:40, 52)

Human Ethnicity – He was a Jewish from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Hebrews 7:14; Galatians 4:4; Matthew 27:46; John 4:9)

Human Relatives – According to the Bible, He had brothers and sisters, and that He is even related to John the Baptist (John 7:5; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:36)

Human Emotions – He wept, He had the desire not to go to the cross but still submitted on the Father’s will, and He had offered prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears (Matthew 26:39; John 11:35; Hebrews 5:7)

Human Hunger and Thirst – He was hungry after He fasted for forty days, and got thirsty along His journey through Samaria and when He was on the cross (Luke 4:2; John13:1-2; John 4:1-7; 19:28)

Human Fatigue – (John 4:6; Mark 6:31)

Human Pain – He felt the pain of the nails, the pain of suffering and separation from the Father (Mark 15:25-34; John 19:28; Matthew 27:46)

Human Death – What could be more human than to experience human death? He did not just died just like any other death but a cruel death, that the marks of the crucifixion He bore up to His resurrected body (Acts 2:24; Luke 24:40; John 20:27)

Human Temptation – (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15)

Human Spirit – When He died on the cross, He gave up His spirit to the Father (John 12:27; 13:21; 19:30)

 

Now having all that mentioned, we see how the Bible supports the teaching that Jesus was human in nature and yet lived a perfect sinful life.

He had life here on earth and revealed as to be the God-man ultimate Life-giver. He revealed Himself as a person, a person who could RELATE on to us in all aspects because He loves us.

 

III.            Jesus is RELATIONAL (v.3-4)

“that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

After John laid down his testimony—his experiential knowledge with the fundamental doctrine of Christ’s humanity—he proceeded by mentioning the very reason why he was writing the letter, that is, for the believers that time would have fellowship with them whose fellowship was with the Father and the Son, and in that fellowship is where the real JOY could only be found.

*Reconciliation (Romans 5:10)

So how is your relationship with God very important in your Christian life? Because your VERTICAL ALIGNMENT determines your HORIZONTAL ASSIGNMENT which is to show love to everyone.

Your relationship with Jesus and your knowledge of Him would determine the way how you live.

Apart from the relationship with God in Christ, we would not be able to love others.

Love, Joy, and Peace can only be found in Christ.

 

Conclusion

There was a phrase that I remember which reads, “Your knowledge about God determines what you do.” And yes, it does! If Jesus was not human, Salvation would have not been possible; and we would have not had a model of love and obedience to follow—to share to other people.

Apostle Paul, as he was exhorting about Jesus as an example of humility, quoted,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human, he humbled himself by becoming OBEDIENT to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Why is it so important for us to know and understand the humanity and deity of Jesus?

•       Jesus’ humanity was fundamentally significant for the mediation be made possible between the Father and the sinners.

•       Jesus’ life here on earth as a God-man (Divine and Human) was to serve as an example for as to follow of how weshould live—in love, obedience, submission, and holy life.

•       Jesus’ humanity assures us that He could empathize and sympathize with us—He is a PERSONAL God.

“Jesus’ HUMANITY compels man’s RESPONSIBILITY to love and live as He lived.”

*End with a short story about Lee Strobel’s conversation.

So can you prove that God exists? Yes! You can prove it!

“Your obedience is the evidence of the existence of God.”

Christ lived in love, holy living, submission, and obedience, therefore we should also walk as he walked (1 John2:6).

 

 

The Greatest Blessing - OUTCAST

The Greatest Blessing

Luke 17:11–19 ESV

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Title our my message today: The Greatest Blessing

Big Idea of the Message: The greatest blessing of following Christ is the relationship we get to have with God, rather than the gifts He gives us.

It’s one thing to receive expensive gifts from a king/ruler but it is far better to have relationship with a king (as a son or daughter).

God knows where the nine lepers went. He knows where Adam and Eve are hiding. It is a question for you and me today. Do you know where you are in relation to God? Do you know what God wants for your life?

What can we learn from this story regarding the heart of Jesus for the outcast.

I.  God wants to give us a change of  heartmore than a change of  status

HEART VS STATUS

We need more than a change of status. We need a change of heart

Luke 17:11–13 ESV On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

a. The disease - Leprosy

The Lexham Bible Dictionary Leprosy

LEPROSY (צָרַעַת, tsara'ath; λέπρα, lepra). An infectious skin disease. The word often translated as “leprosy” in the Bible should actually be translated generally as “skin disease” because the exact type of skin disease is unclear; few, if any, of the cases mentioned align with the modern understanding of leprosy. These skin diseases cause uncleanness to the one bearing the disease.

The most dangerous disease in history according to Wikipedia

Smallpox (430 BC? - 1979): ...

Spanish Flu (1918 - 1919): Killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide in less than 2 years. ...

Black Death (1340 - 1771): Killed 75 million people worldwide. ... Malaria (1600 - today): Kills about 2 million people per year. ...

AIDS (1981 - today): ...

Cholera (1817 - today): ...

Typhus (430 BC? - today): 

Having one of these will make you an outright OUTCAST

 

b. The impact of leprosy to a person.

What happen when a person is declared to have leprosy?

Leviticus 13:45–46 ESV “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.

    a. His outfit must show that he has the disease.

    b. He will live alone

    c. He will live outside of camp or community

    d. He will them become an OUTCAST

    e. Not to mention the emotional, psychological, economical and spiritual impact in a person’s   

        life.

c. The hunger for a status change more than a change of heart

If you are in this desperate situation, I think you will also do what the 10 lepers did. A change of status from being an outcast to accepted will be the first priority. The nine lepers only wanted the miracle so they could finally be accepted by the society that cast them out in the first place. They merely wanted their status changed. The tenth leper found something more valuable. Sadly, there are false teachers preaching to the outcasts about how Jesus can change their status. The prosperity gospel is all about a status change.

d. The real status change is the change of heart

His response to the healing is the evidence of change of heart

Luke 17:15–16 ESV Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary 17:15–19 He was praising God and he threw himself at Jesus’ feet, a posture of worship. He apparently understood that Jesus is God, for he placed faith in Him. Whether or not he understood that Jesus is the Messiah is not mentioned by Luke. The lack of gratitude by the other nine was typical of the rejection of His ministry by the Jewish nation. He alone had the power to cleanse the nation and make it ceremonially clean. However, the nation did not respond properly to Him. The nation accepted the things that Jesus could do (such as heal them and feed them), but it did not want to accept Him as Messiah. However, those outside the nation (such as this Samaritan leper—a person doubly repulsive to the Jews) were responding.

c. Jesus is the only one who can give us a real change - a change of heart.

Luke 17:19 ESV And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

The Samaritan’s faith has made him well, so that the healing here was more than physical. Are you asking God only for a change of status not a change of heart?

Are you seeking temporary relief rather than a permanent solution to a permanent problem - the problem of the heart/

II.  Gods Blessingsfinds its purpose back to  Himself .

BLESSING VS CURSE

Luke 17:17–18 ESV

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”

a. The pursuit of the blessings more than the blesser

The nine lepers who didn’t return to thank Jesus were only in it for the blessing. However, the one who came back knew that Jesus Himself was even greater than anything He could do for him.

In his book, God is the Gospel, John Piper poses this question: “The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?” Sadly, the other nine lepers from this story would answer yes.

This is what our society is championing today. We kive in a vert self-centered, materialistics society. The world teaches that, “we can be good, we can have a good life, we can experience fulfillment without God in our life”. This is totally FALSE and opposite to what the Bible teaches.

b. The danger of the blessings turned to burden (curse)

God is the source of real gift

James 1:17 ESV Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

The end of God’s blessing is, “to the praise of glorious grace

Ephesians 1:3–6 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Matthew 11:28–30 ESV Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The parable of the rich fool trapped by the burden of the world

Luke 12:16–21 ESV And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Yes the blessings that we received from God though we are underserving can turn into curse.

The relationship that God so blessed you today either you are married or not, with children or not will turn into a burden if not surrendered under His Lordship.

The jobs that you have, the material things that you have, the financial resources that you have will turn into a burden if not surrendered under His Lordship

The strength that you have, the spiritual gifts and abilitites that you have will turn into a burden if not surrrendered under His Lordship

All given for the benefit of the body of Christ, the church for the glory of God.

DO YOU WANT GOD’S BLESSING TO BE A REAL BLESSING OR A BURDEN?

 

III. God is more  concernedwith our  characterthan our  comfort

CHARACTER VS COMFORT

Luke 17:16–17 ESV and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?

Luke withholds this information until now. Samaritan Jews and Samaritans despised each other. For Jesus’ audience, the idea of a good Samaritan would have been a contradiction

Samaritans: The people of Samaria were of mixed Israelite and foreign descent, so the Jewish people did not accept them as part of the Jewish community (see note on John 4:9). The hostilities between Jews and Samaritans dated all the way back to the late sixth-century BC. The Samaritans worshiped Yahweh and used a version of the Pentateuch as their Scripture, but they worshipped on Mount Gerizim, not in Jerusalem. Thus the Samaritans were despised by Jews for both ethnic and religious reasons; there was mutual hatred by the Samaritans toward Jews.

The one the came back to thank Jesus was a Samaritan,  a foreigner.  Jesus healed his leprosy but at the end of the day he is still an outcast.

The reality is, Jesus might keep you an outcast, but will make that life more meaningful than anything else you could pursue.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when they were about to be thrown into the fire, told the king that the Lord would save them, but even if He didn’t they would still serve Him (Daniel 3:16-20). Their relationship wasn’t built on what God could do for them, but on who He was.

The narrative of Hebrews 11 ended this way...

Hebrews 11:39 ESV And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,

God’s grace is sufficient to all

2 Corinthians 12:7–9 ESV So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

300 Quotations for Preachers Circumstances Can’t Repair Character
No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Romans 5:1–5 ESV Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Remove character in the process of our christian maturity and we will end up with disappointment. God is more concerned with your character than with your comfort. You might be in a hard place right now. Thinking that your at an outcast, thinking that you are alone and no body loves you. God loves you

Big Idea of the Message: The greatest blessing of following Christ is the relationship we get to have with God, rather than the gifts He gives us.

What will it be for you?

•     A change of status or a change of heart?

•     A blessing or a burden?

•     Character or Comfort?

Discussion Questions:

1.    What is one thing you are thankful for today?

2.    Why do you think the other healed men didn’t come back? Why is it significant that the one man who was thankful was also a Samaritan?

3.    Have you ever experienced God answering a prayer of yours or blessing you in some way that you knew it had to be God? What happened?

4.    When is it the hardest for you to be thankful? Is there anything in your life right now that is a hindrance to your genuine gratitude?

5.    Why is it tempting to believe our relationship with God is all about our prosperity?