Monday, December 24, 2018

The Message of Christmas

"What Child Is This?"  "This, this is Christ the King..."

But He was more than King, Ruler, Messiah....

Matt. 1:22-23  - "Immanuel" - in fullest sense!  His proper name = Jesus, but His title = Immanuel"

Our faith celebrates:  The Divine Incarnation - (in flesh)
                                 The Divine Humiliation  (humbled when became a man)
                                 The Divine Sacrifice

I.  Divine Incarnation - God in flesh, human form
on one hand, this is huge mystery, however is clearly declared - John 1:1, 14  (John 20:28)
Example:  Paul - 1 Tim. 3:16

This idea is often rejected ... Not because it is unscriptural/ unreasonable, impossible, but because it is unfathomable, incomprehensible.

This leads (naturally, inevitably) to:

II.  Divine Humiliation - defined by text - Phil. 2:5-8

ie:  "man"  (baby, adolescent, common) with human needs, frailty, which led to:  accusation, ridicule, rejection, crucifixion.....

Note - how His Humiliation differs!!
(1)  = self Humiliation - no one can humble Absolute God!
(2) = Humiliation without reference to/result of weakness, fault, failure, etc.
(3)  = Self Humiliation .... for a Purpose 

III.  Divine Sacrifice

includes... (A)  physical death  ie:  experienced physical death  (not the cessation of being!
                 (B)  Substitutionary death - 1 Pet. 2:24
                                                            2 Cor. 5:21

The Purpose???  He came to.........
(1)  Redeem - buy us back from sin/ to Himself.
Sin = violation of His law, will, only God could forgive that!
So...... Matt. 1:21
Was a covenant between God and man - (He took our unrighteousness and clothed us in His righteousness) - positional righteousness

(2)  Reconcile - 2 Cor. 5:17-19

(3)  Reveal .. Himself, His Will, His Plan
by ... clarifying previous Revelations
and ... giving additional Revelations
(Contrast: dream, vision, etc. with face to face, same language, etc.

(4)  also... Identify (connect with us) - Heb. 4:14-16 -
example:  mediator, middle man, go-between ....

this = who/what/why we celebrate Christmas!

This = why we sing..... Hymn #88 - "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" - (vs. 2, Vs. 4)
                                   Hymn #96 - "Good Christian Men Rejoice" - Vs. 3
                                   Hymn #76 - "O Come, O Come Emmanuel..."

= why (perhaps) we should sing:  Hymn #147 - "And Can It Be" - vs. 1

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The 4 Advents of Christ

Advent = a coming;  a (notable) arrival

Advent Season = weeks leading up to Christmas
Today = the 4 Advents of Christ.

#1.  His First Coming = the coming of Messiah (Christ), not of God!
Messias (Hebrew) --> Christos (Greek) --> Christ (English) - (The Anointed One) - the One that God would send, would call, would enable to save all mankind, (not to deliver from Rome)

He came - AS predicted (prophesied/foretold)
But NOT as expected!!!
Matt. 1:22-23 - incarnation - He came as a man (God in the flesh)
Matt. 1:21 - save from sin(s) - called Immanuel = God with us in the flesh

#2.  His Second Coming = His Return ... bodily, visibly (we'll be able to see Him),  in glory
(to establish His Kingdom/ to Rule/ to usher in Eternity)

Christians been waiting 2000 years for His 2nd. coming!!!
But --- Jews waited that for the 1st. Coming!!! - But, eventually He came --- in God's timing!!

Meanwhile we live in the " 'tween time"
So, a look at 2 less celebrated Advents....

#3.  His Visitations - John 14:18 (I will be with you)  Matt. 28:20 (I am with you always),  Heb. 13:5  ( will never leave you or forsake you)

From time to time He chooses to visit His people.
These tend to be:  (1)  occasional  (though He is "with your always!")
                            (2)  Personal - (rather than to the whole church)
                            (3)  Under-whelming   (simple/subtle/quite/easy)

Question:  Have you ever sensed His Presence?  His touch?  Activity?  Involvement?

Have you ever longed for the above?  Asked for the above?

This = "Spirit of Advent" - examples:  lyrics to "O Come, O come Immanuel", "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"

Examples of Visitation Prayers:  Come, Lord, and.........
         #1.  deliver from oppression, from harassment, from bondage, from enslavement
maybe for 'self, maybe for another.
         #2.  (closely related) - heal - physical, emotional, relational!!  Most suicides due to emotional issues.
         #3.  Establish justice - which = "make things right!!"  (like they ought to be)

*we don't always get what we pray for/prefer.
So.... additional prayers........
"Lord, in the absence of delivery, healing, justice...
(1)  Grant Strength  ( to continue, endure) IN SPITE OF.....)  ie:  be faithful
(2)  Grant Comfort - in MIDST of....
(3)  Grant Assurance - in the absence of the sense of Your presence...

Along with that..........
(4)  Grant Wisdom   (that I might know)
(5)  Grant Light   (that I might see)
(6)  Transform  (me/those I love)
(7)  Establish Your Kingdom as far as is possible in a  (a) fallen world  (b) with free will 
(8)  Judge which = "respond to evil/Right wrongs!"
(9)  Make Yourself Known

NOTE:  Not necessary to experience His Presence to be Aware of His Visitation!!

Sometimes  (a) you Know He's at work .... regardless of sensation
                   (b)  You see it in retrospect!!
                   (c)  You may not see it at all!!!  BUT ... you know it's so!!!

4th. Advent???

(4)  HIS ENTRY - ie:  to your heart's throne!!

Illustration:  Rev. 3:20 - this = a coming to His Own!   ie:  your HEART .... but HIS THRONE!!  - He created it!  He designed it!  He died for it!

This may precede visitations.....
this may be result of visitations...

No matter... because question is:  (1)  will you hear the call?
                                                   (2)  will you open the door?   (invite Him in?)
                                                   (3)  will you relinquish the throne

As we approach Christmas, consider the 4 Advents....
Pre-Christian?  especially note #4 --- His Entry!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Second Coming

Christmas season = 1st. coming  (incarnation)
The text, 1 Thess. 5:1-11 = 2nd. coming  (advent)

2nd. coming = Common theme!!

Statistics concerning the 2nd. Coming  (MacArthur - The 2nd. Coming)
#1.  Prophecy = 1/5 of scripture  2nd. coming = 1/3 of that 1/5th.
Therefore, 30% of Bible prophecy is concerned with the 2nd. coming.

#2.  Over 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ;  200 yet to be fulfilled  (at His return)

#3.  36 (of the 46) Olt Testament prophets speak of events connected with His 2nd. coming

#4.  Over 1500 Old Testament passages refer to the 2nd. coming
Over 300 New Testament passages refer to the 2nd. coming.  (1 out of 25!)

#5.  2nd. Coming = one of the most prominent subjects in the New Testament (next to "Faith")

#6.  For every time the 1st. Coming is mentioned in Scripture, the 2nd. Coming is mentioned 8 times.
For each time atonement (death on the cross) is mentioned, the 2nd. Coming is mentioned 2 times!!

#7.  Jesus HIMSELF refers to His return 21 times

#8.  Men are exhorted to be read for His return over 50 times!

HISTORICAL views/predictions/expectations.

Originally ..... disciples expected a quick return!!  (Therefore, gospels not written until later!)

Later .. "perhaps the resurrection = beginning of the Millennial reign!  (Rev, 21)  Millennium - Rev. 20:1-3
Therefore, He would return 1000 years later.  Example:  Post-Millennial view.

Then ... some said "2nd. coming will begin with the Millennial reign!  Example:  Pre-Millennial view

In early 200s, Hippolytus (based on Daniel's 70 weeks) AND 6,000 years with millennium beginning then (Sabbath Millennium), said "millennium should begin 496"

Origen (185-254) said millennium = "allegory & symbolism")
Therefore, not necessarily literal chronology --- Example:  A millennial view
(also, Augustine, mid 300s, "millennium begins with the resurrection".

303-311 - "the Great Persecution" by Emperor Diocletian = was this "the Great Tribulation"

312 - Constantine became Emperor, then in 313 the Edict of Milan legalized Christianity.
324 -Constantine chose Christianity to be the official religion in the Roman Empire. .
New hope for the Post-Millennial view!!!  - 13 years from persecution to preference!!

410 - Rome (now a Christian City) sacked by the Goths.  Many thought THIS was the "beginning of the tribulation"

Year 1000 was choice for His return - a millennium landmark, as was 1033 - ie:  1,000 years since the Resurrection!!  Post Millennial fulfillment.

1347 - 1350 (up to) 40% of Europe died in the bubonic plague.  Tribulation period????

Christopher Columbus - on one hand, was in search for shorter route to the east Indies,
But also = serious student of Bible prophecy, and considered 'self a Christ bearer (missionary) to foreign lands.

His calculations = world would end year 7000.
                            world was 5,343 years 318 days old at Christ's birth
                             add another 1,501 years had passed
             leaving  only 155 years 'til Christ's return.  Therefore, felt urgency to carry the gospel to all the world!!

1828 Wm. Miller (Vt.) (based on Daniel's 70 weeks) said "Lord's return sometime in 1843 - example:  Millerites
then  "return October 22, 1844"  - "the Great Disappointment"

later followers said "right date, wrong place" ... Christ had purged the sanctuary ... but in Heaven!! and wouldn't appear on earth because church was not observing the Sabbath!!  => 7th. Day Adventists

Also, Jehovah's Witness' claim Christ returned invisibly and began to rule in heaven as King in October 1914.
(since then we've been in "last days") (days of woe)

Early America -- mostly Post Millennial - things going to get better and better and then the Lord returns
New World - fresh start - religious freedom
Coupled with "industrial revolution", etc.

After Civil War, a new(er) form of Pre ... 'Dispensational  Pre-millennial'.  (Plymouth brethren, John Darby, C I Scofield, Clarence Larkin) - this is the most familiar view today.

Post Millennial + (1) Great War  (ending 1918)  and (2)  2n.d WW (just 20 years later!!)

Then post war establishment of "Israel" - 1948  (United Nations Resolution 181)
(with Matt. 24:34 "this generation will not pass til all fulfilled")

So....... Hal Lindsey  "Late Great Planet Earth" in early 60s - "could take place in 40 years"  (therefore:  1988 ... so sold more than 35 million copies in 50 languages.

Edgar Whisenhunt (NASA Engineer)  - "88 Reasons Why the Lord Will Return in 1988" - Sept. 11-13, 1988
Later:  1989, 1993, 1994"

1995 began "Left Behind" series  (Tim Lahaye, Jerry Jenkins)

Then Y2K!!!  (mostly computer BUT Christians got on board!!)

Harold Camping (Family Radio) - May 21, 2011

Mayan Calendar - Dec. 21, 2012 = end of world!!

On one hand - ALL serious theologians AGREE!!!  HE'LL RETURN!!

However ... when?  how?  what scenario?  time frame?  historical setting?  unfolding of events???

(some of) Jesus' words:  Matt. 24:27, 30-31, 36-39, 42-44
Acts 1:6-7

So.... brief overview/outline of His 2nd. Coming:

How He'll Return....
        Bodily - Acts 1:9-11  "in same way...."
        Visibly - Matt. 24:27 - "as lightning"
        Suddenly (unexpectedly) - "like a THIEF"  (when people are at ease!!)

2 Pet. 3  - "scoffers will come" - Peter
But "Lord is no slow... = Patient!!  Not wanting any to perish!
        In glory  (appearance)
        In charge (authority) - Rev. 19:11-16  'every knee will bow, every tongue will confess'

What He'll Do....
         He comes:  TO REDEEM - to consummate/complete
                           to fulfill the contract/to finalize the deal the he died for
Payment is made/Property not yet occupied

                          To Judge  lost and saved = living and dead
             "separate" sheep and goats     wheat & tares  grain & chaff

                          To Rule  King/Lord/iron scepter!

He will       Establish the Kingdom  - "thy kingdom come thy will be done ... where?
He will       Usher in Eternity  - Rev. 20 & 21

Practical Application.... from words of Christ and the Apostles...

(1)  be informed - "don't be deceived!"

(2)  be prepared - example:  thief
On one hand, can't be vigilant every minute!
However, can be prepared for inevitable!  - example:  safe room in case of a tornado

How to prepare?  Accept Christ today,  Follow Christ hereafter
Question???  Isn't that just "fire insurance"??
ANSWER"  He Knows the heart - "not everyone who says unto me 'Lord, Lord'....

(3)  be encouraged - Matt. 16:18  "upon this Rock"  will build my church AND ____________??
Rev. 21:5

(4)  be faithful - Matt. 25:21  (talents)

Question?  What's the likelihood I'll bet to see 2nd Coming??
Answer:  You'll see it all right!!
         Christian:  if alive you get to see Him come!!
                         if dead?  ... you get to come with Him!!

Not yet a Christian?  Get informed/ get ready/ follow Him!!!

Closing Scripture:   Num. 6:24-26

Monday, November 26, 2018

The General Resurrection

Definition:  the Raising of the Body of all believers in the last day.  (literal body)
This is fundamental and very orthodox teaching since the beginning.

Are glimpses in the Old Testament:
Job 19:25-26
Psm. 16:8-10 (David)
Dan. 12:1-2  (Daniel)
John 11:23-24  (Martha)
So, Jewish people had the Jewish background to head them into this direction of a bodily resurrection.  There was no New Testament at this time.

So, the doctrine developed with teachings and revelations by Jesus.  (example:  John 6:38-40 )

So... Paul to the Thessalonians:  1 Thess. 4:13-18 - This teaching = incredulous to the believer.

Note:  (1)  idea of "soul sleep" - contrast with the Rich man and Lazarus, thief on the cross - "this day...", saints in heaven (Revelation).    The idea of soul sleep doesn't bear out in Scripture  (can't be upheld)
         (2)  "loud command"  (vs. 16)  compare to Lazarus as an example:  John 11:43
         (3)  "caught up"  (vs. 17)  Latin "RAPTUS" => Rapture

Summary = Called, transformed, gathered!!  Compare Matt. 24:30-31

This = far more than life after death.
This = final, complete Redemption!  God will not lose a single thing!!
Our body will be reunited with our soul/spirit.  Rom. 8:19-23
HOW??  = Power of God!!!  (Phil. 3:20-21 )

What will this 'new' body be like??  1 Cor. 15

  (a)  different ... yet the same - 1 Cor. 15:35-38
         example:  seed => plant  DNA exactly the same.

  (b)  spiritual ... yet still physical  - 1 Cor. 15:42-44
      Compare to Jesus' body - Luke 24:36-44

  (c)  created like Adam ... Recreated like Jesus! - 1 Cor. 15:45-49
Note:  1 John 3:2

True!!  But still a mystery to us!! - 1 Cor. 15:50-53
Christian Resurrection .... hence Christian Burial - example:  body buried east to west.  Feet facing east, so at resurrection, upper body will rise to the east.

NOTE:  pagan efforts to destroy the Hope of resurrection by destroying the Body of the believer  (never worked!!)  Will be resurrected by the Power of God!!

Question:  Two Resurrections??? - John 5:28-29  (also in Daniel)
1st. Resurrection:  Rev. 20:4-6
2nd. Resurrection - Rev. 20:11-15
Rev. 20: 6 = ".... no power over them"

Summary, Conclusion, Question:  "who are you going to trust?"  - Rev. 1:18

And so, 1 Thess. 4:18

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 15:54-58

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Thanksgiving = America's most celebrated holiday!
92% of ppl. have a special family gathering and meal
83% offer special grace @ that meal.

Because:  (1)  We're blessed - as individuals, as a nation

                (2)  We (inherently) know it!  (even without counting/listing blessings!

                (3)  We know we ought to SAY SO!!  - thanks are due.  People inherently know that blessings come from beyond us.

Thanksgiving = time to (1)  Recognize our blessings
                               to (2)  Recognize the Blesser - (ie:  the source of the blessings)
        Example:  David's prayer - 1 Chron. 29:14, Deut. 8:17-18
Contrast with:  Rom. 1:18-21 - Refusal to recognize Source of blessing leads to (a form of) depravity!
(definition:  moral corruption, wickedness, degeneracy, indecency..)

Numerous studies indicate that showing appreciation, expressing gratitude, acknowledging goodness in my life has Positive Effects!! - physical health, mental health, relational health, attitude, outlook, expectation
Therefore:  1 Thess. 5:18

Is clear we should (1)  develop a grateful heart - attitude
                            (2) give thanks - action
                            (3) develop a habit of thanksgiving

#1.  Develop a Grateful Heart  = An Attitude of Gratitude
How to develop that??
      (1)  focus/ "think on" - Phil. 4:8
      (2)  count  (list your blessings --- literally!!)
Give time and thought to this.

#2.   Give thanks - biblical references of "give thanks" to "be thankful" - 50:1
       Verbal thanks = (1) an offering  Psm. 50:23, Heb. 13:15
Bible is HUGE on "Give Thanks"
can be  (2)  a sacrifice  (ie:  costs)  - 1 Thess. 5:18

#3.    Develop a habit of thanksgiving
Illustration:  contrast with "habit of complaint"  - Psm. 107:1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 21-22, 31-32, 43

#4.  (attempt to..) inspire others through thanksgiving 
Example:  saying grace in public place
To inspire Thanksgiving = to inspire Worship
To inspire Worship = connect people to God

On one hand, special Thanksgiving meal, prayer, focus, wristband = good thing!!
However, we know it should be year around!!

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 106:1-2, 47-48

Monday, November 12, 2018

Lifestyle Matters - Community Life

Paul addresses:  (1) first - the Gospel - how to access God
                Then  (2) - lifestyle - how to live afterward 
On one hand , all people need this instruction/exhortation - makes no difference how close we are to the Lord.   (The Jews already had the Mosaic Law - knew God's parameters for how to live)

However, is especially true of Gentiles in that day.  Because:
         (1)  people raised with a pagan worldview
and therefore (2)  practiced a pagan lifestyle - mostly very different from God's will.
This was pre-Christian time.

Comparison:  challenge to a post-Christian Society (which we in 21st. Century America seem to be in or heading in.)
On one hand, most = believers in God  (Christ)
However, NOT versed in the Biblical Worldview!

POINT:  letters to Thessalonica - Still relevant today!

in 1 Thessalonians - Paul addresses:
(1)  Sexual purity
(2)  Brotherly Love - between those of the faith - brothers and sisters in Christ
(3)  Community Life/Christian Reputation - from a moral standpoint

1 Thess. 4:11-12 - (includes I.  Basic Instruction and II.  THE Reason for these Instructions.

I.  Pauls' Instructions 
live a quiet life;  mind your own business
            Contrast to:  gossip, busybody, disorderly, divisive.  This causes division rather than cohesion.
Work with your hands, make your own way -
        Contrast to:  idle, loafer, *moocher* - * Reference = those CAPABLE but unwilling"

Was this a problem in Thessalonica?  - 2 Thess. 3:6-15
Is it really a Big Deal?  - 2 Thess. 3:6
(these instructions are:  (1)  by the AUTHORITY of Christ
                                    (2)  according to the TEACHINGS of Christ
Not just from Paul himself.

II.  Paul's Reasons  - 1 Thess. 4:12
"daily life .... might win... outsiders"
on line here = (1) Reputation + (2) Salvation 
Your reputation can make a difference in someone's salvation

(1)  your daily life = not your religious profession BUT daily PRACTICE!!
By  "FRUIT" you REPRESENT --- the church, the Faith, God!!!

(2)  might WIN = convince/persuade/"win over"
      win respect therefore win souls - Dan. 12:3  Prov. 11:30

(3)  of outsiders - not outside your community, your influence, But = outside .... THE FAITH!!!
Compare to:  1 Tim. 3:7

Summary:  (1)  The Gospel Matters
But also     (2)  your Lifestyle Matters - make Adjustments to make an Eternal Difference.

Closing Scripture:  Matt. 5:13-16

Monday, November 5, 2018

Lifestyle Matters

1 Thess. - background/letter
Paul addresses:  (1)  Gospel - how to access God
     and            (2)  Lifestyle - how to live after accessing God (salvation)
This = typical Pauline style

So:  1 Thess. 4:1 - "to please God" - does not mean make Him happy.
 = according to His Design & Desire  (There is a way to live)

Here Paul addresses (1) sexual purity
                                (2)  brotherly love
                                (3) community life/Christian reputation
These 3 =  (1) primary (fundamental) concerns and (2) cover a lot of moral ground.
These are necessary elements of Christian life.

Last week looked at "sexual purity" - 1 Thess. 4:3

Noted:  (1) this was not new revelation - (example:  Mosaic Law - Jewish people were very clear on sexual purity)  the Law is God's Law!!
            (2)  this was not rules of the Apostles... (but from God)
            (3)  This sets Christians apart!!  1 Pet. 2:9 - peculiar, not odd, but particular to one person
The idea is not stand out, but stand APART - example:  THEN and NOW.

Today:  Brotherly Love

II.  Brotherly Love - 1 Thess. 4:9-10
Word = philadelphias (So, William Penn in 1682 - named the capital of the state coming from his name - Pennsylvania Philadelphia (city of brotherly love)

In Classic Greek - word refers to love of siblings, brothers by birth
New Testament/Christian use - love of brothers/sisters in Christ - by the New birth.  (those who've been born again!)

Paul suggests this:
(1) comes supernaturally - to believers - (something new, something special)
1 Thess. 4:9 - "taught by God"  - 1 Thess. 4:8 - Holy Spirit within
When we are with Christians who follow Christ, there is a special bond.

(2)  should be developed - 1 Thess. 4:10 - with Rom. 13:8 - should get better and better at

(3)  should be practiced - because this is more than sentiment/feeling
1 John 3:16-18  James 2:15-16
The indwelling Holy Spirit teaches you to love the brothers.  Do you treat them as valuable?

PROBLEMS!!  (1)  some will take advantage of this 
                         (2)   your brother is not always lovable 
                         (3)  you are not always loving  (willing!!)

So:  2 verses :  Jesus answer to "who is my neighbor?" - Luke 10:36-37 - "go and do"

We are obligated!!!   BUT - we needn't be naive!   Matt. 10:16 - love without harm.  There is a point where not to be used!


Lifestyle Matters -  (makes a difference)  (1)  for YOU 
                                                              (2)  for those close to you  (especially family)
                                                              (3)  for those you live among (community)

Lifestyle has  (1)  immediate impact - tomorrow, next week, next year
                     (2)  eternal impact  - Eph. 4:1

Closing Scripture:  Eph. 4:1-3


Monday, October 29, 2018

How Then Shall We Live?

Once decision has been made to follow Christ - how then shall we live?

1 Thess. 4;1 - "typical Pauline" - (1) How to gain access (Gospel)
                                                  (2)  How to live after that  (Lifestyle)
Paul's idea so much different to what the world thinks.

Christianity is more than a religious choice! - "Nominal" Christians.  Gospel doesn't affect their lifestyle Monday - Saturday. Only affects their "Sundays".
1 Thess. 4:1-3 -

(groundwork) = (1) how to live and 2 in order to Please God - not make Him happy, but as He intends, desires, designed - this is how He meant for His creation to live.
(beneficiaries???   = the believer, family, community, society)

1 Thess. 4:1 - Practice this and grow in this
1 Thess. 4:2 - because you know ... (A) the Instructions
                                                       (B)  the Source  (and is not Paul, or Apostles)  Came from God.  Instructions are written by His authority.

1 Thess. 43 - God's will (desire, intent, design...) - "Sanctified"
Ie:  set apart ..(1) Positionally - an act of God - His work, an Act
                      (2)  Practically - a process of living as should - your efforts, a Process

"Sanctified" - set apart unto Him.  God doesn't MAKE us live sanctified.
Are two kinds of decrees that God has - determinate will = this will happen
                                                           - desired will = what I hope, wish to happen

When a person accepts Christ, God sets that person into a right relationship with Him.
However, He does not make that person live like he's sanctified.  That is the person's choice.

But, if believer continues to ignore the Instructions, it calls into question their sincerity!

Paul address 3 (primary) areas:
I.)  Sexual Purity
II.)  Brotherly Love
III.) Community Life

I.  Sexual purity  1 Thess. 4:3-8
   (1) Pagan view - no sexual moral guidelines.  Anything goes.
vs. (2)  Jewish/Christian Stance 
Jews always had the Law, and guidelines.
Current day relevance???  Application???

(note Jewish council - Acts 15)
Paul ..... Avoid sexual immorality according to the Law of Moses
             Learn self-control
             Wrong no one (in this matter) because you wrong another EVEN if consensual!!
Post Christian society today - returning to the Pagan notions.  Consenting adults = pagan view!  (woe to those who call evil good and good evil)

ANSWER = fulfilling sex life ... within marriage  (1 Cor. 7)
Paul adds:  (1) the calling - 1 Thess. 4:7
                 (2)  the warning  - 1 Thess. 4:6 - Gal. 6:7-9
Summary Statement - 1 Thess. 4:8
Compare Prov. 29:18, Isa. 5:20-21, 22-24
People will call you "hater" if you take a stance on Biblical morality.

Lifestyle Matters!!
It affects .......... you
                         those close to you
                         those around you - Community, Society

It affects Christian witness!!  Therefore, affects Eternity!!

Closing Scripture:  Eph. 5:15-17

Monday, October 22, 2018

1st. Thessalonians - A Letter

Who was Paul?  What was he like?  What did he look like?  = common questions

1st. known description from a late 2nd. century work of fiction entitled "The Acts of Paul & Thecla" -
    "A man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked and his knees were far apart;  he had large eyes and his eyebrows met and his nose was somewhat long!! And he was full of grace and mercy; at one time he seemed like a man and at another time he seemed like an angel."

2 Cor. 10:10 - "his letters are weighty and forceful but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."

All to say - Paul was a very ordinary man!

On one hand, we can't know (see) his appearance.
However, we can know (see) his heart!!
ie:  his heart for God, the gospel, the people with whom he shared the Good News.

So:  1 Thess. 2:1-3:13 - read as a letter to a people he called "brothers, loved by God" - 1 Thess. 1:4

Today read a large section AS A LETTER!!
Will help us see Paul's person, heart, love for the churches and the people.  Puts light on his teaching.

Also, we see (interwoven) some of the Primary Points of his successful ministry.  (doesn't mean the only points, but does mean important points.)

Some of Paul's Primary Methods
#1.  offer information
#2.  make an appeal
#3.  expect opposition
#4.  offer encouragement
These = part of Paul's ministry ... that we can implement, imitate

Started with:
I.  Offer Information - (example:  Paul's practice - enter synagogue, present Christ)

for us?  "gospel" illustrated by the Bridge Illustration
This = bad news (man separated from God) --> good news (God built bridge to Him) -->  bad news (must cross the bridge or are still separated.)!

1 Thess.2:15-16
alongside gospel of grace ... travels message of judgment!! - this = FULL Gospel.

II.  Make and Appeal - 1 Thess. 2:3 compare to John 14:16 - (appeal as does Holy Spirit)
Evangelism = totally ineffective without the call of God.
(we do our part and trust God to do His part!)

III.  Expect Opposition
Social - 1 Thess. 2:14
Satanic - 1 Thess. 2:18
Note also -- 1 Thess. 3:3-4  (with 2 Tim. 3:12)

Are two applications here:  
(1)  Christian - when you make an appeal ... Expect OPPOSITION!
(2)  Pre-Christian .. when you experience the call..  Expect OPPOSITION!

BUT also remember "warrior psalms"
On one hand, the enemy is greater than me!
But, my ally (Holy Spirit, Christ, God) is greater than the enemy!!!  - 1 John 4:4

IV.  Offer Encouragement
Obviously, the potential, new convert needs Encouragement, so... 1 Thess. 3:2
But is also true ... the seasoned minister needs Encouragement as well!!!   1 Thess. 3:7
"Burden of Ministry" - all can relate, all need encouragement
(application works both ways!!)


You are NOT Paul!  BUT ---- these ministry components are Valid and Effective today!!
  #1.  Offer information
  #2.  Make an appeal
  #3.  Expect opposition  (count the cost)
  #4.  Offer encouragement

My Appeal..... Christians - consider this!!  Pre-Christians -- consider this!!!  World will say this is archaic mythology, BUT when the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, you know that it is not!!

My Encouragement:
Closing Scripture:  1 Pet. 5:8-11

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Evidence of a New Birth

Last week began I Thessalonians

Background = Paul and Silas, 2nd. missionary journey (Acts 17)

Church start leads to contention & riots leads to night time departure, Timothy's return --> report 1 1/2 years later --> Paul's letter

Begins with commendation- 1 Thess. 1:2-3 - work, labor, endurance
moves to a Bold Statement!!  1 Thess. 1:4


Reasons:  1 Thess. 1:5-10 - we know because you...
      A.  experienced (power of message, presence of God, conviction of Holy Spirit
      B.  welcomed (the message)
      C.  turned (from idols to God)
      D.  imitated (us, the Lord)
      E.  became (models, messengers)

Examples:  Jesus says "by their fruits...."  (Matt. 7:15-16 - false prophets)
                 Paul says "I see evidence of the New Birth" - of your faith, of your growth

NOTE - true conversion is more than choosing a religion, choosing a moral, ethical standard.  When are following Christianity, are accepting a person.

True conversion includes a work of God/Holy Spirit, a change of mind, heart, being, status, focus, affection(s) which result in a change of actions, behavior, lifestyle - a consequence of changed heart and mind, encounter with God.

So, on one hand we can't Know, however, can look, examine, assess the conversion.

Beware of the tendency to examine ONLY OTHERS!!!
1 Cor. 13:15 - are you in the faith??  How are you doing in the faith?

Evidence of the NEW BIRTH 

I.  The Experience - (power, presence of God, conviction of Holy Spirit)
(Experience is not the ONLY measure ..... however, - part of a valid measure)

"conviction" - John 16:8  is more than mind alone, = deep certainty!!
Convict = convince
The experience varies widely , may not be all at once, may creep up.  Nevertheless = personal encounter with God, Christ, Holy Spirit

II.  The Welcome  (the message)
May not be all at once!!  However, begins with openness and ends with embracing, receiving, welcoming

Note:  Counting cost!!  "in spite of severe suffering"
Luke 14:25-33  (reluctant surrender?  - Example:  C S Lewis

III.  The Turning - 1 Thess. 1:9-10  (Biblical word = Repentance)
"from...."  cultural, social, familiar beliefs and lifestyle
"to..." God and His proscribed lifestyle!!

"to serve God" is more than merely worship.  "to wait for His return" - is our Hope!!

IV. The Imitation - (how am I supposed to act?)  Because it IS the experience, it IS the heart!!!
BUT also - subsequent lifestyle!!
On one hand, nobody is perfect - don't always get it right
But, are issues of intentionality, effort, correction, continuity - Christ-like, little Christs

V.  The Becoming - 1 Thess. 1:7-8
become models of the faith
become messengers of the faith
Growth can be slow, can be often interrupted - BUT should be upward!!

(1)  Christians - the message must be proclaimed in order to be heard - Rom. 10>14
      (your assistance int this?)
Shouldn't just live the Christian life, but must be promoting it!

(2)  Pre-Christians - the message must be heard, Christ must be embraced.

Closing Scripture:  Col. 2:6-7

Monday, October 8, 2018

Introduction to 1st. Thessalonians

Begin at Acts 17:1-10

This church is (1) Born amidst turmoil!! 

                      (2)  Sandwiched between turmoil!  Acts 16 - Philippi  (church start - riot - beating - jail)
                                                                           Acts 17:10 and onward - (church start - near riot - hasty departure)

                      (3)  Church born of Divine Prohibition!! Acts 16:6-10  - ended up in Macedonia - uncharted territory.  This is where the church developed in a westward direction - all of the European expansion started here.

Timeline:  (1)  church start at Thessalonica  (AD 51-53??)
then... (2)  Paul sends Timothy back to Thessalonica!  (Timothy not a main figurehead like Paul) - (to teach, instruct, disciple them...)
          (3)  1 1/2 - 2 years later -- Timothy comes to Paul (at Corinth) with a GOOD report of church growth, health at Thessalonica.
So.... (4)  Paul writes a letter to them ... (1st. Thessalonians) - one of the earliest New Testament letters/books  (following James and Galatians)  - Gospels haven't been written yet.

Reasons for writing ... (application to us?)   - the writings (ie:  2000 year old letter to the Thessalonians) are still relevant today - people don't change
#1.  To Encourage - in the face of constant opposition
       (a)  religious pressures - from Jews and pagans
       (b)  social pressures - family and friends; traditions; Thessalonian culture, etc.
       (c)  Spiritual pressures - Rom. 7:21

#2.  To Answer (respond to) charges leveled (in Thessalonica) against Paul's character, ministry motives.
For;US this = question of Paul's authority.  Therefore, a question of Scripture's authority!! - Is very important to us who believe Scripture IS our authority!!

#3.  To correct errors - (notions, theories, ideas) especially concerning the Lord's return! An issue that still plagues the church today!!

#4.  To Instruct in Christian Living - they had NO New Testament!! - just the letter(s) from Paul
      WE need the New Testament they (eventually) received!!  (we're human beings with human character)

#5.  To Exhort Believers - to urge, charge, challenge
may have the necessary information and Still need a push!!  (supports)
Sometimes we know precisely what we need to do just need a shove to do itl

1 Thess. 1:1-3 - Paul commends the new church for their:  WORK   LABOR   ENDURANCE
This is remarkable because Paul - Apostle of Grace!! - Eph. 2:8-9

BUT NOTE!!  1 Thess. 1:3 - work - produced by (your) FAITH
                                              labor - prompted by (your) LOVE - for God, Christ, the church, other people
                                             endurance - inspired by (your) HOPE

Paul is saying:  "I can see your faith! because:
(real) faith will work
(real) love will labor
(real) hope will endure
Compare to James 2:14-18
Note:  Eph. 2:10

By this you can measure your faith!  (ie:  one important measure)

Question?   Am I willing to WORK?  What's that say about my faith.

Question?  Am I willing to LABOR?  What's that say about my LOVE??
Love of God, Christ, Gospel, Church, people

Question?  Am I willing to ENDURE?  What does that say about my HOPE??  Throughout the last 2000 years -- one of the greatest testimonies of the church = willing to persevere in face of OPPOSITION.

Example:  A ____________ church is made of __________ people.

This is not the only way to measure faith, but is excellent tool to do so!!

Closing Scripture:
1 Thess. 5:23-24


Monday, October 1, 2018

The Warrior Psalms

Psm. 144:1 - introduction

David = great warrior!  Fought Goliath, Saul, enemies of Israel, Absalom.
Result = kingdom firmly established for Solomon!!

So.....  "song"  - 2 Sam. 22:1-4, 32-26

David = able warrior
But = Dependent warrior
He credits God for his abilities and victories.
We could say he knew - his Calling
                                      his Abilities
                                      his limits
                                      his Source/Enabler

The Song of 2 Sam. 22 becomes Psalm 18.  - (song of David that needed to be in the Jewish songbook)
So will look at part of that.
Watch how David credits God - with his abilities and victories

Psm. 18:37-50 - always a reference to God giving him these.

These = Warrior Psalms - speak of conflict, battle, war
Any application for us?? - In that day, battle was a very real part of life.   However, David's battle was not always with foreign nations.  (example - Absalom)

On one hand "we battle not against flesh and blood"
However - we do battle

The Christian's primary enemies - (if following Christ and trying to serve Him)
#1.  The World - definition = not creation, not the people of creation
= the ideas, ways, demands, influences, pressures, philosophies that run counter to God's will, way.

Example:  Jesus was not at war with his fellow Jews, but was at war with their thinking!
So - 1 John 2:15-17, Rom. 12:2

#2.  Satan (and his minions) - Eph. 6:10-12

#3. Self -- old man, natural man, sinful man - Rom. 7:15-24

On on hand, our arsenal is important!! - Example:  Paul - {"whole armor" - Eph. 6 - truth, righteousness, readiness, faith (confidence) salvation, the Word, prayer

BUT what the Warrior Psalms emphasize is:  Our Ally, our Enabler.  - Without God we have nothing.

David didn't wait for God to do it, he went into battle himself, trusting that God would be with him.
Some Examples:
Psm. 33:16-18, 35:1-3, 118:6-9, 138:3, 7, 140:6-8, 142:5-6, 143:9, 144:1-2

Any parallel?  Application for us???

#1. Know God's Will - (which - Know His word!!!  (example:  Jesus answering Satan's temptations! - with scripture - 'that's not God's will')

#2.  Make your choice  (God?  or the world, sin, self?)  The world is LOUD.  God speaks with a still, small voice!!
Choice includes:
#3.  Seek God's Assistance - (because the enemy is greater than you)

#4.  Trust He gives it (even if not immediately seen) - Example:  Jesus and the cross

#5.  Stand Firm 
#6.  Press On  
1 Pet. 5:8-10

AND - when you fall?  fail?
#7.  Get up - - we see David's failures - ie.  killing of Uriah
                  --  we also see his heart - David had a heart for God

Closing Scripture = Psm. 91:9-14


Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Ascent Psalms

Psalm 120 - 134 were songs of ascent. 4 attributed to David, 1 to Solomon, 10 anonymous.

Tradition says these were sung as the the people went UP  (a)  to Jerusalem  (pilgrimages (at least 3 per year were required), feast days
(b)  to the Temple  atop a hill)
(c)  the 15 steps - between the court of women and the court of Israel

Are 15 Ascent psalms.  Tradition said that the men sang an ascent song on each step upward.

Psm. 122:1-5

Whatever the usage, the point was UP!!   ie:  UP toward God and UP toward God's throne.
Israel knew God as Omnipresent, however the temple was His "house", the ark was His "throne".

Compare to Christians and church.  Yes, we can worship God in any setting on any day, but there is something special about coming to God's house on God's day with God's people.

Are no laments, no complaints in the Ascent Psalms.

The Themes (within the ascent psalms) Vary - examples:  Were not ALL about going UP to His presence.

#1.  prayers for assistance - Psm. 121:1-8, 123:1-4

#2.  recognition of God's Provision - Psm. 124:1-8

#3.  Confidence in God - Psm. 131:1-3, 125:1-2

#4.  Certainty of God's blessings  (on His people) - Psm. 128:1-6  - they are absolutely certain God will bless.

#5.  Certainty of God's forgiveness.  Psm. 130:1-8

#6.  prayers for Jerusalem (Zion)  Psm. 122:6-9  - capital city, center of the faith.  The way Jerusalem goes, so goes the nation.

Beyond the Themes --- you find the Attitudes that underlie these 15 songs.

As they approach, they display an attitude of:

(1)  Reverence - deep respect, high regard, which leads to awe and wonder in light of God's majesty, sovereignty, might, power - (His will will be done!)   coupled with His faithfulness, mercy, compassion, provision.  That a being that awesome cares for us, forgives us our sins.

(2)  Praise which = when adoration spills out  (overflows)  (something we can detect)

(3)  Special combination of:  
Humility  (because He = God and I = ??)  plus
Confidence (because we are invited  - He's not going to strike me down, disown me.  And
 Expectation - Heb. 4:16 - confidence, not arrogance.  Expect to get an answer to prayer.  However, may NOT be the answer we want.

They approach with:
(4).  JOY at the opportunity and privilege of being
           (a) in God's presence,  (b) at God's temple  (c)  with God's people
Ascent Psalms = ALL HOPEFUL!!  No laments here!)

(5)  Unity - fellowship, camaraderie, brotherhood - Psm. 133:1-3
On one hand, each person approaches God as individual,
However, they come as a PEOPLE
Eph. 4:2-6

Their approach is not so different from ours!  However, we have revelation and understanding that they didn't have.  Rom. 5:1-2  Everyone now has access to God through Jesus Christ.  John 14:6
Only barrier we have to this access is US!!

So learn from their approach to God, but don't omit the Vital step in the Approach!! - must come through Jesus Christ.

John 6:37

Monday, September 17, 2018

The History Psalms

Definition:  a part of Israel's history (story) in poetry/song

But .. more than history!  = History with a POINT!! - not just a song for entertainment.

Within the history psalms the reader can see:
    (1)  God's work & presence among the people of Israel
    (2)  Glimpse God's character - not just WHAT He does, but WHO He IS!!
    (3)  Learn of their spiritual heritage
    (4)  Find challenges to personal behavior

The above = true of Israel, also true of us!!

Example:  Psalm 78:9-72 = the story.  Vs. 9 referencing the battle with the Philistines when the Ark of the Covenant was captured.
                Psalm 78:1-8 = the point - so they don't repeat the history

Themes = creation, Exodus, wandering, conquest, settling
Also, the peoples' repeated rebellion Y God's faithfulness to His covenant promises.

Example:  Psm. 105:11-17 - the (partial) story.            
                Psm. 105:1-7 - the point - make known what He has done.

This = history with a Point!!  Put in story form to remind us and teach us.

Is obvious how this = helpful to Israel, but, question:  HOW are the History Psalms beneficial to you and I today?

#1.  The History Psalms allow us to see God's actions (works)  
POINT:  He is not absent or inactive.  AS He worked with them, SO He'll work with me.
Phil. 1:6 = God is always active with His people.

#2.  The History Psalms give us a glimpse of God's Character
ie:  more that what He does ... = what He's like!!

In the History Psalms we see God's faithfulness, mercy, long suffering, forgiveness, but ALSO His intolerance of Rebellion & sin!!

So.... seeing His (glorious) character should therefore:

#3.  incite worship - ascribe worth to
ie:  wonder, awe, reverence & Response
Example:  Psm. 136:1-26

#4.  The History Psalms should serve to help me remember - ie:  review PAST events to help me properly address my current situation!
Example:  in Deuteronomy, repeated over and over - "remember, be careful, don't forget...."  Point being:  we forget - especially in times of blessings.
Compare us:  Heb. 2:1
(also to help me remember how much I;m like them!!  Illustration:  Psalm 106:47, 4-5

#5.  The History Psalms should challenge my devotions and decisions. (as presented to successive generations) 
History Psalms said:  A)  these are your ROOTS!! - you have no control over that.
                                B)  what will by your FRUITS?  - that's your decision.

My heritage partly makes me who I am, but I must decide what my output will be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Torah Psalms

Psm. 119:1-8 = beginning of Torah Psalms

Have looked at Praise, Thanksgiving, Lament, Cursing, Wisdom, Pentential, and Messianic Psalms.

Definition:  Torah -  narrowest sense = The LAW  (Mosaic)
                           - broader sense = any/all of God's revealed Word.  (wisdom literature, prophets, etc.)

TORAH = Word from God

TORAH PSALMS = those Psalms (pr parts of a Psalm) that commend, celebrate, appreciate, promote God's Word.

Classic Torah Psalm = Psalm 119  (longest of the psalms)
It is and Acrostic (alphabetic) Poem - 22 stanzas w/8 lines each.  (Every stanza celebrates God's Word)
AND, every stanza begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet - beginning with the first letter.
ie:  "Aleph" - Vs. 1-8, "Beth" - Vs. 9-16, and so on.

Psm. 119:9-16
Note the direct references to God's Word.  Replace those words with "Instruction".
On one hand, this is NOT the best translation of those words, but it does show the IDEA and intent of TORAH and Psm. 119.  Each one focused heavily on God's Word.

Often we are familiar with individual verses within Psalm 119 - examples:  Psm. 119:5, 105, but the whole psalm = instructive and applicable.
Not only are we made in God's image, but God has set laws for living that are not changing or arbitrary.

(rather than read all 176 verses, )
Will look at 4 Primary Themes within Psalm 119.

Theme #1.  GOD'S WORD  (primary theme, in every stanza)

Example:  3rd. letter (Gimel) - Psm. 119:17-24
Application of all of this?? - Psm. 119:1-2 - "blessed" - You want God's blessing, you live according to His rules.  They exist just like the law of gravity, etc.  However, blessing doesn't necessarily come in this life.
In Psm. 119, God's Word is presented as:
(1)  Revealed to us
(2)  Righteous - Psm. 119:137, 142 - God always does right, therefore His laws are always right!
(3)  Eternal (unchanging)  Psm. 119:144, 152 - (example:  rules concerning morals haven't changed)
(4)  Practical  (effective) - Psm. 119:9, 140 - not just a theory or a philosophy, but for living

Therefore, common phrase, theme = "I trust in Your Word".

Theme #2.  GOD'S ASSISTANCE  (in living according to His Word)
The author on one hand recognizes the need to decide to follow and  strive to keep His Word.
However, recognizes that he = fallen man in a fallen world and not going to measure up.
Therefore:  asks for and expects Divine Assistance!  Psm. 119:33-37

teach me - Psm. 119:66, 68
give me understanding - Psm. 119:27, 73
direct me, guide me, lead me
turn my heart towards Your statutes
turn my eyes away from worthless things - Psm. 119:18

Compare to:  father of demon-possessed child - "I believe!  Help my unbelief!"  - because we often struggle to obey and sometimes struggle to Believe!!

Theme #3.  GOD'S PROMISE(S) 
when author prays for assistance - He calls attention to God's promises!  Psm. 119:38, 41, 58, 76, 170 -

This is not getting God's attention or changing his mind.
It is the author - bolstering (under girding) his own faith!!

Compare:  "been 2000 years and things look bad, BUT -- you said you'd rise ... and did!  You said you'd return... and I believe you will!!
Meanwhile remember your promises to me!!  - Psm. 119:49  (which leads to:)

Theme #4.  THE BELIEVER'S HOPE - confidence, trust   Psm. 119:81-83
Which = "my hope is in you..., " therefore I'll try to live according to Your word... regardless of what comes!!  John 6:66-69 compare to Psm. 119:169-176

 #1.  Where is YOUR Hope?  in  (A) NO god? (B)  god of your own making?  (C) this Revealed GOD

#2.  Does your hope extend BEYOND head and heart?  does it migrate to your hands?  action, lifestyle.
Clearly if it never reaches your hands, questionable how much you really believe.

#3.  Does your hope include Jesus Christ?  (the ultimate and greatest Revelation of God.) John 14:6

Closing Scripture:  1 Pet. 1:23 - 2:3

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Messianic Psalms

Have done, Praise, Thanksgiving, Lament, Cursing, Wisdom, Penitential.
Today - Messianic Psalms = looking forward to the Anointed One (Messiah), Christos in Greek.
Psalm 2:1-12  = David?  future? kings?  THE KING? 

Jews looked for THE ANOINTED ONE - the Promised one.  (deliverer, savior, ruler, leader)

The Messianic Psalms = psalms that 1)  anticipate this Messiah
2)  predict specific events concerning His coming

11 New Testament books quote from the Messianic Psalms with at least 70 specific references to His coming fulfilled in Jesus' life.
Predictions of Messiah in Psalms:
1.  will come from lineage of David
2.  will be called (by God) while still in the womb
3.  will come for ALL people
4.  be called "the Son of God"
5.  will call God His "Father"
6.  will be God's "Only Begotten" Son
7.  will be called "King of the Jews"
8.  will be "The Stone the builders rejected"
9.  will be a priest after the order of Melchizedek
10.  will be both Lord and King
11.  will be eternal
12.  will do His Father's will
13.  will communicate a message of mercy
14.  will be angered by unethical priests and political leaders
15.  will act in Righteousness!
16.  will be despised and rejected by His own
17.  will have religious and political opposition
18.  will be abandoned by His disciples
19.  will be mocked
20.  will be silent before his accusers
21.  will be executed (crucified)
22.  will be watched by Gentiles at execution  (executed by Gentiles)
23.  will be pierced in hands and feet  (crucifixion)
24.  will have His garments distributed by lots!!
25.  will feel forsaken by God  (Psalm 22:1)
26.  will thirst while dying
27.  will have no bones broken
28.  will spill blood and water at His death
29.  will not experience bodily corruption  (Resurrection)
30.  will be Resurrected
31.  will ascend back into heaven
32.  will be exalted to God's right hand 

(this list is about half of what is usually listed!!)

Some examples of New Testament quotes from Old Testament psalms.
Acts 2:24-27  (from Psm. 16:8-10)
John 19:28-29  (from Psalm 69:21)
Mark 12:10-11   (from Psalm 118:22-23)
Acts 4:25-27  (from Psalm 2:1-2)
Matt. 22:41-45  (from Psalm 110:1-2)

The CLASSIC Messianic Psalm = Psm. 22:1-19  - Is the one most people remember - the One who suffered and died for us.

Question:  What is the Practical Value?  What can be taken away for daily use

#1.  The Messianic Psalms offer special insights concerning our Messiah/Savior.  We see things about Christ that we may not see elsewhere.
ie:  His character, attitude, relationship with the Father, ministry to us.

Example:  What distinguishes this God from pagan gods??
ANSWER:  willing to suffer for us!!  Pagan gods don't do this.
So... Heb. 10:3-7  (from Psalm 40:6-8)

#2.  Therefore, the Messianic Psalms = ideal for worship.  ie:  we declare His worth in poetry, verse, song
So, Psalm 22:1-21 = lament, BUT, Psalm 22:25-28 = praise and worship.
This sets apart Christian worship.
(of all the Messianic Psalms, most well known are NOT about His majesty, glory, rule, but are about His suffering .... for us!!)

#3.  The Messianic Psalms offer us additional confidence in the Word.  are many specific prophecies fulfilled -1000 years before his coming!

So ... Paul - 2 Tim. 3:16-17 - Scripture = reliable, = practical

#4.  The Messianic Psalms offer us confidence in our Christ (Savior, Redeemer)

Question:  who's your greatest enemy?  - "Yourself!!"
Question:  Who'll save you from that enemy?  - Matt. 1:21

Note:  The Biblical term for "Confidence" = FAITH  -  Heb. 11:1

Could add:
#5.  Messianic Psalms offer us an example, a model, one to imitate

WWJD - really what should I do?

Last word on this from Paul - Phil. 2:5-13

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Penitential Psalms

IE:  The Confessing Psalms

Penitence = sorrow for sins, confessing sins.
Some entire psalms, some just portions of a psalm.

Written/read wherein the author (or reader)
       Confesses Sin - (and/or sinfulness)
and  Seeks forgiveness.

Typical elements of Penitential psalm include:
   (1)  recognition of sins (trespasses) and sin's seriousness  - commission and omission
  (2)  Confession and contrition  (sorrow, remorse, truly sorry for) - big difference between confession sin and being sorry for sin.
  (3)  request for God's mercy, forgiveness, and restoration of relationship.

Examples:  Psm. 32:1-7 - what has happened because of sin
                 Psm. 38:1-8, 18, 21-22
                 Psm. 130:1-8 - there is redemption
                 Psm. 143:1-2, 7-8

The Classic penitential psalm = Psm. 51 - central concept of being sorry for sins.
Psm.  51:1 - the introduction   2 Sam. 11-12 - the story
The Psalm - Psm. 51:1-19

So...... What can we learn about sin from Psalms?

#1)  Sin is very, very serious - affront to God, a detriment to the sinner, a detriment to society

#2)  God is Just  (in dealing with sin)
Example:  Old Testament Law taught - HE = Right   I = Wrong!!  Therefore, I deserve punishment!!  - Contrast today = I deserve blessing!!

#3)  I should therefore admit, confess, repent.....
*WITH Contrition   Job 42:5-6
Isa. 66:2 - (God speaking)  Matt. 5:3
(*if  not sorry??  Say so!!! He knows!!)

#4)  I am unable to rectify the situation  (caused by my sin)  ie:  I can't fix it, set it right!

Therefore, is reasonable to request...
(1)  Grace and Mercy - Psm. 51:1
Old Testament saints were aware of God's Justice AND Mercy!!  - Psm. 103:8-14

(2)  Forgiveness and cleansing
Because  sin is more than violation = spot, stain, blemish!!  (it colors me)    Psm. 51:7

(3)  Restoration  - because sin disrupts fellowship!  Psm. 51:12

(4)  Transformation  - Psm. 51:10  ("help me become who and what I should be....")

What we learn from Psalms is confirmed elsewhere in the scriptures!

What we don't learn from Psalms are the specifics of God's plan to deal with our sin(s)... ie:  THE GOSPEL (the plan)

Bridge Illustration = this is how God's going to get it done.
(1)  God's Love - John 3:16
(2)  God's Justice (judgment) - 1 Pet. 2:24
(3)  God's desire for reconciliation
He initiated, He built the bridge/made the way!
1 Pet. 3:18

In Psalms we learn (1) not to hide, deny, ignore our sins  and (2) come to God for forgiveness, cleansing, restoration.

from the Gospel we learn .. all this made possible through (the Person of) Jesus Christ.

So... if have never crossed -  (1) give it serious consideration and 2 cross over!

If have crossed - the Psalms should speak clearly to you!!!

Final words:  1 John 1:8-9, 2:1-2


Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Wisdom Psalms

Previous weeks = Praise Psalms, Thanksgiving Psalms, Lament Psalms, Cursing Psalms.

Today:  Wisdom Psalms  (those psalms (or parts of them) which teach wisdom.)

Generally we think of "psalms" as praise, thanksgiving, etc.  but some psalms INSTRUCT the reader in proper living!! 

Example:  Psm. 1:1-6 - no direct praise.  Rather = instructs and encourages in "Righteous living",  Which (in Jewish mind) = WISDOM. - no division between the two.

Definition of Wisdom:  (3 views/elevations)
I.)  Contemporary View = Knowledge, understanding (maybe with good sense, good judgment, ability to discern?)
Example:  aged professor who's been teaching college for 40 years and has a room full of books that he's read.

II.)  Eastern tradition/view (even outside Jewish notion) = a person who can apply that knowledge/understanding to PRACTICAL, EVERYDAY AFFAIRS.  ie:  more than head = HANDS!!!  (Right thinking AND right acting)
Contrast:  Man with 3 PhDs. and a professorship BUT can't get along with spouse, kids, neighbors, etc.

III.)  Biblical View (understanding) = recognizes all wisdom originates with GOD  therefore attempts to order his/her life WISELY .... according  to God's Revelations!!  Bible talks of two types of ppl:  wise and fool.  No in between area.

Which is who the Bible declares that WISDOM (1) begins with the "fear" (reverential awe) of the LORD - (true God) - Prov. 1:7
(2)  Builds  (accumulates, grows) on personal "trust" in God.  Prov. 3:5-6  with Prov. 3:7-8

Wisdom Psalms are not about "generic" wisdom but wisdom FROM GOD!!

On one hand, if searching for Wisdom - generally go to Proverbs. (which devotes itself to that subject)
However, mixed with Praise and Worship of the Psalms = healthy doses of instruction in Righteous Living (which = WISE Living)

Examples:  Psm. 36:1-4 - Scripture often presents people in 2 categories.  Proverbs - wise/fool.  Psalms = righteous/ unrighteous.
So.... looking again at Psm. 36:1-4 -  we see:  1) no fear of God
                                                                      2)  wise in own eyes
                                                                      3)  words of mouth are wicked
                                                                      4)  ceased to be wise
                                                                      5)  does not reject what is wrong.
Looks very much like current situation in 21st century America.

Psm. 37:1-9 - Compare with brief Proverbs: 
Prov. 37:16, 21, 27, 35-36

A common theme in Psalms = ultimate fate of the unrighteous.Psm. 52:1-7 contrast with Psm. 52:8-9

Another common theme:  deceit of worldly wealth
Psm. 73:1-28   (do you see the wisdom in this Psalm??)
                        (do you see the value of Meditating on this Psalm???)

Tidbits of wisdom are sprinkled throughout the Psalms:
Psm. 112:1, 112:4, 112:9-10
Psm. 127:  1-2

Encouragement in righteous living is promoted throughout the Psalms (AND Righteous living is equated with WISE LIVING!!)  Psm. 128:1-4, 133:1-3

The takeaway on this:
(1)  The Worship of God + the pursuit of wisdom are Biblically compatible!

(2)  One should lead to the other.  Wisdom will lead to worship of God which will lead to more wisdom which will lead to worship of God which will lead to wisdom - in an upward spiral.

Example:  Solomon's conclusion:  Eccles. 12:13-14

Note:  Psalms so far is mostly an Old Testament study.  BUT, the ultimate Revelation of God is not in Psalms, but in Christ!!!  (example:  the Incarnation)

Therefore:  Christ = the Source of our wisdom and the Focus of our Worship.  We come to the Father through Christ.

So..... ultimately - whether seeking wisdom .. or offering Worship ..

Our goal is knowing God THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!!

There ARE only two ways:  The way of the WISE and the way of the FOOL!  The wise person seeks wisdom and tries to put it into practice!!! 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Cursing Psalms

Previous weeks = Praise Psalms
                            Thanksgiving Psalms
                            Lament Psalms

Today:  The Cursing Psalms
Psm. 83:1-18 - Imprecatory, Maledictory - to invoke, call out, ask for calamity &/or misfortune
Psm. 109:1-15, 58:6-8

(1)  Imprecations (prayers) are found throughout Psalms - usually mingled w/lament and prayer for deliverance.
Psm. 79:1-5 = lament
Psm. 79:6 = imprecation
Psm. 79:9-11 - prayer for deliverance
Psm. 79:12 = imprecation

(2)  Imprecations are not unique to Psalms 
      Neh. 4:4-5 
      Hosea 9:14
      Jer. 18:19-23

(2)  Imprecations are not unique to Old Testament 
       Acts 13:8-11 - Peter & Barnabas on Cyprus)
       Gal. 1:8-9 - (with 1 Cor. 16:22, 1 Tim. 1:20)
       Matt. 23:13 - (w/Matt. 23:26, 26, 23, 25, 27, 29 - declaration or invocation?
       Rev. 6:9-10 - from heaven

How to answer this in light of New Testament teachings?
     Matt. 5:43-44
     Luke 6:27-29
     Luke 23:34
     Rom. 12:14, 17, 21

One one hand, we don't claim to have all the answers!!
However, do have some observations/considerations that may help!

(1)  The pray-er is observing (what appears to him to be) a grave injustice!!
In laments, often is against an impersonal force.  However, here = Personal Antagonist!! - person/people with free will and ill intent!!  determined to act.
(2)  The pray-er cries for justice from a just God
God has Revealed Himself as a Just God who is our Avenger  - Deut. 32.:1-4, 35
Pray-ers are praying for God to do what He said He would do.

(3)  The Pray-er is expressing deep human passion in light of grave human injustice
Psm. 137:1-9  (example:  you walk in these shoes)

(4)  Though the prayers are severe, the pray-er leaves the outcome in God's hands!  Prov. 26:2
Note:  David's prayers often more sever than his actions - example:  actions toward Saul - refused to raise his hand against God's anointed.
David wrote a large part of the imprecatory prayers.

(5)  These are more than personal enemies - - These are enemies of God's righteousness - (His law, rule, people, Kingdom, His Person!!)
Example:  Nuremberg trials - not against all German people, soldiers! 

(6)  The pray-er appeals to a just God ... as one of His personal subjects 
I'm your kid, these are your people - therefore:  Rise up!  in Anger!  Protect!  Avenge!

(7)  Though we may never be able to answer all questions and objections about imprecatory prayers, let us remember - we do not possess the wisdom of God.  Deut. 29:29 - Some things we don't know.  We are never going to know it all. 

So... what to do with these prayers?

#1.  Accept them as legitimate! - they are Scripture.  - 2 Tim. 3:16-17

#2.  Use them with great caution - James 1:19-20
When we are angry, usually do not act righteously.

#3.  Be careful of literal intent - Psm. 59:5, 13, 11 - example:  "drop dead!"  mean it literally???
Psm. 137:8-9 - Would you truly literally, physically want that???
Sometimes we go too far!

#4.  Use these as a plea for God's Righteousness .... NOT for petty, selfish issues.  (example:  neighbor's dog, cattle, music, etc.)

#5.  Read these in the light of the Cross - clearly God wants all men to be saved.
     (a)  Jesus died for my wickedness.
    (b)  God wants all men saved.   1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Pet. 3:9

Sample prayer: 
Lord, if these people really deserve this .....
         if this is within your will, desire, plan ....
         if this would really help your cause
        if I'm not blinded by my own selfish desires....
THEN Lord, do this and this ...
On the other hand, if I'm being narrow, selfish, and petty ...
Then Lord, ignore this plea, grant me illumination (help me see how selfish, petty, vindictive I am),
and give me grace to accept, repent - because You are LORD and I am not!!!

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 8:31-36,46-47

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lament Psalms

We've looked at Praise and Thanksgiving Psalms.
Today - Psalms of Lament and Complaint - Psm. 88:1-18  - no word of praise in entire psalm.

Complaints = physical illness, weakness (wiped out,worn out physically)
(more often) = mental anguish, emotional distress
No sense of God's Presence, of God's concern.
Oppression by enemies, abandonment by friends, gross injustices ... prosperity of the wicked, constant troubles of the righteous.  Therefore ... confusion!  perplexity!

The writers express (mostly mental) pain, sorrow, loss, fear, confusion, discouragement, despair, depression.
A weariness with life!!

Laments = (1)  approximately 1/3 of the Psalms, (contain laments)
                 (2) they are part of the Hebrew Hymnal
                 (3)  are used for individual devotions AND public worship
                 (4)  part of inspired Scripture!  - came from God
                 (5)  not unique to Psalms.
Other lament scriptures:
Jer. 20:7-8
Job 6:1-4
Habakkuk 1:2-4
Ezek. 19:1, 14 - to be used as lament and sung as lament
Lamentations 1:1, 5

Laments were very common in Scripture.

AND (6) God does not respond with condemnation
Example:  Jesus - at Lazarus' tomb, weeping over Jerusalem  Psm. 22:1

Why a Lament?
(1)  Life is full of troubles - fallen world, fallen people - Job 5:7  (Eliphaz)
The Resurrection hasn't changed that!!

(2)  When we hurt we want to cry out - we are creatures of passion and expression.

(3)  (Apparently) that's OK   (sometimes)
Example:  Jesus - "Our Father ...."  Zeph. 3:16-17
(Contrast whining, murmuring - example:  the Exodus)  Laments are complaints TO God, not ABOUT God!!
You don't need a Psalm, a song, a poem to lament!

Simple Pattern:   

1)  A lament is a statement of faith and a cry for help - Psm. 70:1-5, 71:1-5

2)  A lament blends what you feel with what you know - (because we are creatures of fact and feeling)  Psm. 13:1-6

3)  A lament expresses your ultimate hope in a Sovereign AND Loving God.  Psm. 30:1-5, 11, 12

Closing Scripture:
Psm. 86:3-7, 12-13 

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Psalms and Thanks Giving

Psm. 100:1-5

#1.  God's people are called to be a thankful people.  ie:  to Recognize who He is and Acknowledge His goodness, graciousness toward us.

#2.  God's people are called to GIVE THANKS!!   The difference = attitude vs. action  
      A)  Biblical references to "be thankful" vs "give thanks" = 50 to 1!!!
      B)  The most often used word in conjunction with "thanks" = "GIVE"

In Psalms = "give thanks..........   for:  Material blessings
"in song                                             relational blessings
"in the great assembly                        national blessings
"and call on His name                       Spiritual blessings

"and praise His name                        current blessings - what's happening now
"for His righteous laws                      past blessings - what has been done
"because Hi is good                          future blessings - what He's going to do
"to Him forever

Summary:  Psm. 118:28-29  I should give thanks because:
      1)  I'm blessed!!!
      2) I'm blessed By HIM!! - not by an impersonal universe!!
      3)   I'm blessed beyond my ability to procure (life, health, family, talents, opportunities, freedoms)
      4)  I'm blessed beyond what I deserve   (contrast with 'entitlement' attitude)

In Psalms - blessings are often listed in generic form.
Therefore, many people/generations can use them as their own.   (was David's, now mine!)

Example:  Psm. 1-7:1-32
       Intro:  Vs. 1-3   *give thanks because He is good!!!
let the redeemed say this!!! = those He's redeemed.... those He's gathered.....

     1st. Verse - Vs. 4-9  some of those He redeemed ....    wandered, lost, unsettled ... they cried, He delivered!!   (vs. 8)  let them give thanks

    2nd. Verse - Vs. 10-16 - some of those He redeemed .... sat in darkness, prisoners, enslaved by their own doing!!  .... they cried/ He saved them.   (vs. 15) let them give thanks

    3rd. Verse - Vs. 17-22  - some of those He redeemed .... rebelled!! became fools and suffered AT HIS HAND!!  (eventually....) they cried out, He saved them   (vs. 21)  let them give thanks

   4th. Verse - Vs. 23-32  - Some of those He redeemed ......  found themselves in great peril @ nature's hand!!  (life's circumstances)  .... they cried out/ He brought them through
(vs. 31)  let them give thanks.

  Conclude by combining closing line verse opening lines ... ie:  Vs. 43 ---> Vs. 1-3 - let them Praise and Give Thanks!!

On one hand thanksgiving - easy, natural amidst great blessings
However, it becomes SACRIFICE when offered amidst great loss, great trial 

Concept:  1 Thess. 5:18
Examples:  Dan. 6:10, Matt. 26:26-27, Acts 27:35

Opposite of thankful?? - Thankless!!!
Opposite of give thanks?? - withhold thanks!!   Rom. 1:21-22 - extremely unhealthy

The average person is not thankless in attitude, BUT often is in practice
Compare the 10 lepers - Luke 17:11-19

Clearly - Biblical view of giving thanks = (1)  right and proper  and  (2)  healthy!!
Note:  your thanksgiving does not Profit God!!!
Rather ... profits you and those around you!!!

Challenge:  (1)  examine your level of thankfulness (attitude) and .. your level of thanksgiving  (action)

                  (2)  develop both!!!