Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Ministry of Agape

Rom. 13 - in the "to do" section of the book.  (application & practice)
Last week = "submit to Governmental Authorities" - (wasn't that fun?)

Today - "Loving others with an Agape style love"

Rom. 13:7 = transitional?? Is between give governmental authorities their due... and .... "give your neighbor his due!!

Rom. 13:8-10 - can divide "The Law" into 2 parts:  Example:  10 words - Exodus chap. 20.
1st. table (tablet) = words 1-4
2n.d table (tablet) = words 5-10

Compare Jesus' summary - Matt. 22:36-40
Hence, Paul's words here.
Hence, our (OBC) logo        (Crossed arrows = man to God, man to man)

So.... I)  we'll define/describe "AGAPE" - Greek word means love of God
              All Christians world wide understand this word.

then:  II)  look at the urgency of Practicing Agape.

AGAPE = the noun form of Agapao (the verb - to love)
NOT unique to Christians and the New Testament

BUT Christians 'commandeered' it!  Made it their own... to describe:
    (1)  the Love of God  (YHWH) (noun form)
and (2)  the way God loves  (verb form)
and, therefore
      (3)  the way God's people are to love others. ie:  as God loves us.

One one hand, we'll never get it perfect  (Rom. 3:23)
However, this is the model, measure, the ideal, standard
So .... Matt. 5:43-45, 48 - love enemies so may be recognized as sons of your Father.

(1)  Agape = love that VALUES its object
 ie:  this is more than emotion, feeling, sensation, endearment
Puts value on the thing being loved.

You might say "I don't really like that person!!!  BUT.... (1) they = image of God
                                                                                    (2) Christ died for them
                                                                                    (3)  they = valuable
                                                            therefore          (4)  I'll treat them accordingly!!

(2)  Agape = a love of ACTION!!  
ie:  more than thoughts, words, prayers, good intentions
Examples:  John 3:16 - "God so loved.... He GAVE...."
                 Rom. 5:8 - "God DEMONSTRATED His love....."
Hence, the parable of the Good Samaritan
James 2:14-17 - faith (love) without deeds is dead\
1 John 3:16-19 a = ought to lay down our lives for others

(3)  Agape = a debt, an obligation
Question:  Why am I indebted to strangers???
Maybe because ... (1) you owe God
                     and  (2)  He requests you make payment to Him by paying ..... Them!!!

Examples:  Matt. 25:40 - "what did for theses .... did for me!!!
                 John 21:15-17 - "do you love Me?  .... feed My sheep!

(4)  IT is a continuing debt = (never paid off!!!)

(5)  Agape = the primary VISIBLE characteristic of a Christian!!
Not keeping rules, attending church, reading Bible, etc. ,,,,,
But Practicing Agape (love)!!!  John 13:34-35 - new command - love one another.  By this all will know you are my disciples.

IF you have questions about 'who is my neighbor?' or 'to whom am I obligated?'  Check out the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Luke 10:25-37

Rest of that passage = 'the urgency of loving others with Agape style love' - Rom. 13:11-14 - do this understanding the present time.

Rom. 13:11-14 - not just talk about it, pray about it, think about it.
#1.   Do this.....   compare John 13:17, John 13:34
ACTION ... in spite of emotions!!!

#2.  ... Understanding the Present time....?? - time is short
= (A)  the need (for agape)
   (B) the Opportunity (for agape) , and
   (C)  the Brevity (of time)

#3.  Wake Up!!  Be alert!  This is not the time for drowsiness and indifference!
Whether (a)  Lord's return
         or  (b)  your death - it's later than you think!!

#4.  put off - world's way of Love
put on - God's way of Love - this is tough love.
Clothe yourself with Christ
Behave properly - according to God's definition of Right/ Proper

The Ministry of Agape!!
"by this will all men know...."
Actions matter so that people will know we are Christians

Are two things required:
   (1)  decision - to accept Christ, follow Christ, to serve Christ ... His way!!!
   (2)  Action - Christian - is more than religion of the HEART.
Also = Religion of Head and Hands!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Civil Obedience for "Christians"

Today = resume study of Romans

Review:  Paul's letters often = (!) doctrine first
                                             (2)  then practice/application
(Ie:  he lays the foundation BEFORE he builds the house!)

ie:  he starts out with "what God/Christ have done"
then goes to "therefore this is how you should live"

Chapter 1-11 = foundation (doctrine)
Chapter 12-15 = practice  (application)

Remember:  when we started this section I said "there's gonna be things here you don't like!"
So.......... TODAY!!!

Subject:  "Civil Obedience for "Christians"
or "Honor the governmental authorities over you"

Relevant???  COVID-19 = stay at home?  shut down non-essential business?  Church?  drive-ins?
Every state and the Federal Government have declared an emergency.
Question?  how far can they go in enforcing these?  (constitutional questions, issues)
Question?  for Christians .... how should we respond to that???
(Biblical question???)
stay at home  (safe at home) rules
closing 'non-essential' businesses
church gatherings!?  drive-in services??

How should Christians respond??
Rom. chapter 13 does NOT give specific answers, does not have boundaries and limitations, not written to a contagious virus situation, BUT it does give clear General instructions.

Given (1) our naturally rebellious nature (Rom. 3:23)
          (2)  our constitutional freedoms  (as Americans)
          (3)  our independent, "whatever it takes", rural life style  
          (4) our own selfish desires.....

then we're mostly not gonna like what we find here!!!!!

Text:  Rom. 13:1-7    I want a 2nd. opinion!!!
1 Pet. 2:13-17

This is not hard to understand (ie: what's written)
BUT ... sure is hard to practice!!   And to know where to draw lines!!

Some quick observations:

#1.  This does not mean Absolute Obedience!! - Paul expects his readers to know this!!
Example:  Peter an John before the Sanhedrin - Acts 4:18-20 - we are bound to be civilly disobedient in this case.
          Response of the church?  Acts 4:29
          Response of God?          Acts 4:31 - sign they were doing right.
Examples:  Jewish midwives?  Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednigo?  Daniel and 'prayer'?

#2.  The issue here = response to laws/demands by government authorities .... which are NOT directly contrary to God's Word!  (God's will/ God's revelation)
examples:  game laws, seat belt laws, speed limits, taxes, COVID=19 restrictions!!  Matt. 22:17-21

Bible Rule = OBEY ... when and where you can!! regardless of personal opinion or preference!!!

Rom. 12:18 - can speak out against, but don't be actively rebellious unless it is contrary to God's Word.

Why has God commanded this??
(1)  government = essential to man's well being  (contrast - anarchy, chaos)

(2)  government has power to punish and/or reward - don't create trouble for self unnecessarily

(3)  "for conscience sake" - may not feel bad about disobeying government ... BUT.... disobeying the Lord??
   We should feel guilty for disobeying God's rules.

(4)  "for the Lord's sake" - which includes witness; testimony; for the sake of the Gospel!!
example:  sign out front "Drive Thru Service" = so we won't appear rebellious .. unnecessarily!!  1 Pet. 2:15
Matt. 17:27 - "so we may no offend"

OBJECTION !  our government = a Non-Christian government run by people who are not Christians and not interested in Christian beliefs and morals at all.
Answer:= in paul's day (55 AD) there were ZERO Christian governments, societies!!

Objection!!  Government authorities are not always right!!
Answer = those issues are not MORAL in and of themselves!  Example:  required to have car insurance.

Question??  if not moral, then why must I obey?
Answer = God has made it a moral issue ... when HE said "obey"!!!  unless it clearly violates His moral Word.

More Observations:

You don't have to like it ....But if God commands it???  Who's your Lord??  God passes it down.

We'll draw lines, define limits different from one another, BUT be careful here!!
The Real issue is not are you defying the government authorities, but - are you defying ... THE LORD???

Peter summarizes well - 1 Pet. 2:16 - don't use your 'freedom' to indulge your rebellious tendency!!
                                     1 Pet. 2:17 - show due respect - love the brothers, fear God, honor the King!!!

Whether in COVID or not... the ultimate question remains the same ....

 IS Jesus your LORD???

Monday, April 13, 2020

It's Saturday, but Sunday's A-Comin'

We're here to Celebrate the Resurrection and Worship the Resurrected One!

You all know what happened on Friday.
Jesus - betrayed, arrested, tried, condemned, beaten, scourged, crucified

AND You know what happened on Sunday!!
He AROSE!  Glorified!  Victorious over Death and the Grave

BUT, what about Saturday???   "the next day?  "day after the Preparation"

Only 2 things are recorded in the Gospel accounts:
#1.  Matt. 27:62-66 - guard posted - they remembered Jesus said He would rise again.
  But, that wasn't the disciples.

#2.  Luke 23:55-56 (This is the only reference about Saturday.) - is this the women or all disciples??  The women followed Joseph of Arimethea and saw where Jesus' body was laid.
"they rested  (and observed the Sabbath)  in Obedience to the command" - this was everyone, including the disciples.

Anything else that was done on Saturday we have to assume!!  No scripture, no records.

BUT - we can safely assume some things....

#1.  They gathered - they were friends, followers, (mostly) Galileans - for the Passover  (stayed together)
Had a common bond - were virtually family, friends.  (a church)

#2.  Then grieved!
Their Hopes were shattered. - "we had hoped" - example Emmaus Road disciples
Their Hearts were broken!!  They Loved Jesus!! Spent three years with him.

#3.  They relived of reviewed!!  (remembered) - the last 3 years - miracles, crowds, teachings, etc.
                                                                       - the last couple days!! - triumphant entry, then betrayal and                                                                                                                execution

#4.  They questioned!  (a)  One another    (b)  their understanding (of Jesus' words, claims...)  GOD!!  Jews didn't see this as a lack of Faith, but affirmation of Faith!!  They believed God was the final and ultimate authority.  Example:  Psm.  22:1, Job

but also #5) They Affirmed their Faith in God.  (they kept the Sabbath!  Said their prayers!)  "in obedience to the command" (Law of Moses)

Also probably #6)  Ate a little 

#7 - slept a little

#8)  milked their cows and goats and fed sheep and chickens.  (tended to their families)

And  #9)  made some plans for Sunday - ie:  complete the burial and do Proper burial

And #10)  Asked One Another - "Now What?"  Because they had said, Matt: 16 - "You are the Christ ... the Son of the Living God.  You have the words of eternal life, and we believe and know that you are the holy One of God" - John 6

The Point of all this???
On one hand, we're making a lot of assumptions!
However, IF these assumptions are CORRECT ...
And, in light of this being a "Pre-Resurrection Saturday ..."
THEN, (1)  they didn't do so bad!! - (with their Saturday)
AND (2) WE should do BETTER!!  - because we are in a "Post Resurrection Saturday..."

Question:  What's this "POST-RESURRECTION SATURDAY??

If we use this metaphorically - as a comparison ...  then
FRIDAY = day of tragedy!!  (loss, pain, grief, disappointment)

But, SUNDAY = day of triumph!!New light, new hope, new understanding, therefore joy, expectation

In between = SATURDAY!! - not much is happening - just another day.

We all experience FRIDAYS in our life - (times of pain, failure, disappointment, etc.)

AND (as Christians) we look forward to Sunday  (when Christ makes all light and Right!!)

Meanwhile - we LIVE (mostly) IN BETWEEN THE 2 ... in SATURDAY!!

We can make some helpful observations from this!!!!

#1.  IF God was at work on that Saturday, THEN surely He's at work on THIS Saturday!!!!  (mine, yours, ours!)

Note:  is no visible evidence God was at work THAT Saturday, BUT ... it was a 3 DAY PLAN!!  - that is made very plain in the scripture.
John 5:17 - "my Father is always at work and I too am working"
Rom. 8:28 - "we Know ... IN ALL things ... God works,,,"
(coincidence?  COVID-19 coming to a peak at Easter??)

#2.  IF they ... who walked 3 years with Jesus and saw all and heard all) were confused on Saturday....

THEN us?  today?  (shouldn't we also be confused?)
On one hand, we have the Resurrection!!!  The full 3 day Picture!
However, we don't have the WHOLE picture!!!  ALL the answers!!!
(still trying to piece the puzzle together)

Deut. 29:29 - "the secret things belong to the Lord or God...
BUT the things REVEALED belong to us and our children .. forever..."

#3.  IF they remained faithful on their Saturday, without then knowledge of the Resurrection)

THEN "how much more " should WE?  today?  in light of the Resurrection???

Their Hope was GONE!! Their light was Snuffed out, yet still they did right things!! - "obeyed the command"

Isa. 50:10 - "who among you fears the Lord?  and obeys the Word of His Servant?  Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, TRUST in the name of the LORD and RELY upon His GOD!"
When you don't have any light, you keep going!!

We often say "it's Friday!  But Sunday's a comin'!"
Should also say ... it's SATURDAY!  But Sunday's a-comin'!"

We look back ... on that Friday, on our Personal Fridays
We look forward .. to the coming Sunday - when He'll make all things RIGHT!!!

And we live in SATURDAY - a day of "NOT KNOWING" but "KEEP Going"

Hey!! Brothers and sisters ... it's NOT Friday ... it's SATURDAY!!

Closing Song:  "HE IS LORD" 
1. Emptied of His glory; God became a man,
to walk on earth in ridicule and shame.
A Ruler, yet a Servant; a Shepherd, yet a Lamb;
A Man of Sorrows, agony, and pain.
2. Humbled and rejected, beaten, and despised;
Upon the cross the Son of God was slain
Just like a lamb to slaughter, a sinless sacrifice;
But, by His death His loss became our gain.
3. Satan's forces crumbled like a mighty wall;
The stone that held Him in was rolled aside;
The Prince of Life in glory was lifted over all;
Now earth and haven echo with the cry.
He is Lord, He is Lord!
He is risen from the dead and He is Lord!
Ev'ry knee shall bow, ev'ry tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Lord's Supper


A.  The Origin:  was instituted by Jesus at His Last Supper with His disciples.  (which was the Passover meal)
Matt. 26:26-28,
1 Cor. 11:23-25

B.  The Meaning:  It commemorates and celebrates His death.
1 Cor. 11:26,
Luke 22:19

C.  It is a visible declaration of your belief that He died for your sins. (non-verbal)
Matt. 26:28
1 Tim. 1:15

So -- we take it individually, but we celebrate it corporately (gathered together)

PREPARATION - for the Lord's Supper:

1 Cor. 11:26-27 - do not take unworthily

Question:  Must I be WORTHY before partaking of the Lord's Supper?
Answer:  No.  You are NOT worthy!!!  (that's why He had to die for you)
BUT, you can partake in a WORTHY manner.
This partly explained - 1 Cor. 11:28 - Self Examination.
Includes asking:
1)  Am I a believer?  A Christian?  2 Cor. 13:5

2)  Am I willing to admit and confess my sins?  - 1 John 1:8-9

3)  Am I willing to make Him my Lord?  (my Master?  my boss?)  Luke 6:46

None of us is worthy of the Lord's Supper.  But we can prepare ourselves to take it in a worthy manner.

Think on these things.


Welcome to OBC and the first ever Drive in Service.

After the resurrection, the church established the habit of "gathering" for worship, Prayer, Bible Study, fellowship AND the Lord's Supper.
This was so well established that Paul addresses the Lord's Supper in his letter to Corinth ... (20 years after the Resurrection) (by that time the Lord's Supper was celebrated by ALL the Christian churches.)

The Lord's Supper was (1) established at the Last Supper (Passover meal)
now (2) Universally celebrated by His church.

We gather here today NOT because we are of the same community ... but because of the Same LORD, same Allegiance, same Hope, same Family (OBC)

The Bread represents His body - broken for us
The Wine represents His blood poured out for forgiveness
This Supper celebrates our common bond AND our common belief.:
   (1) in His death .. as literal, physical, historical
   (2)  as a Redemptive work - Acts 4:12    John 14:6
  (3) as Efficacious - effective - it accomplished what God intended!! - Rom. 10:9-10

So, we partake individually, but we celebrate corporately (as a church, as a family)

(Bread) - Isa. 53:1-7 a, 10 a, 12 b
            - 1 Pet. 2:24-25
Break bread and pass it out as we sing "Old Rugged Cross" - Matt. 26:26 - (eat bread)

(Wine) pour and pass as following is read:  Heb. 10:4-5  - 2 Cor. 5:21 -  John 3:16
(drink wine)

As sing closing hymn "Amazing Grace" - note
Vs. 1 - speaks of personal testimony
Vs. 2 - speaks of God leading through trials (ie:  Covid-19)
Vs. 5 - speaks of the eternal fellowship we will have with God and one another!

 The Christian Hope!!!