Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sermon- 12/23/07 - Mission Initiated - Christmas 2007

Mission Inspired

Mission Impossible—assignment received, then self destructs

The mission didn’t start in Bethlehem, it started according to John 1:1—“In the Beginning”—in the heart of God—remember a couple of weeks ago that the Crucifixion an wasn’t Plan B—it wasn’t a MacGyverism Improvisation. God knew

God lost something in the Fall—something He desperately wanted back.

Because of sin God was No longer able to walk among His precious & prized creation. Ephesians 2:10 describes you and I as “God’s workmanship”—the work of His hands—from the word Poeima—where we get the word Poem—God’s Masterpiece—where He is writing the story of our existence into the universe. Humanity is precious to Him

And that precious creation which He was able to walk and talk with was put on the other side of a great chasm of separation due to some of the very creative power He had given them—moral awareness of right & wrong and the Freedom to decide.

Imagine DaVinci never able to look upon the Mona Lisa after completing it because it blinded him. Imagine Shakespeare never able to read or listen to another one of his sonnets because the words poisoned him. Imagine your pride and joy—something you worked hard for, something you built or restored being off limits.

We are so much more than any thing or item to the heart of God—He considers you and me, His masterpiece.

There in the garden, He was able to walk and talk with us as you or I would walk with our spouse, with our friend—take a leisurely journey together for no other reason than the fact that you enjoy their company.

Sin disrupted that, it broke that—His holiness and aversion to sin made it humanly impossible to fix—we couldn’t just shout out a quick, “I’m sorry” and God come back with “Hey, no big deal. Just forget it ever happened… same time tomorrow?”

No—Our Sin is a Big Deal—the Great Chasm of Separation that is too great for us to overcome—doesn’t just hurt you and me—it grieves the Heart of God. It is possible to grieve the heart of God

PS 78:37 their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.
PS 78:38 Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.
PS 78:39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
PS 78:40 How often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland!

Ezekiel 6:9-- how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols.

Ephesians 4:30-- 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

We grieve His heart—
While that is a barrier to us—the great thing about God is that it won’t stop Him—the Barrier was not something He would just Snap His fingers at and fix

God is unwilling to Reestablish this Relationship like I Dream of Jeanie—a quick painless blink of the eyes and—poof—it’s all better.

No—this was too serious for that—a battle had to be fought—you and I were now held captive in the kingdom of darkness, slaves again to fear & sin, Satan & death—

Picture the Kingdom of Darkness with a great gate—like the Black Gate from the Lord of the Rings.

Can you picture God walking up to the door, knocking softly and saying, “excuse me, I’m really sorry to bother you Satan, but can I please have my valuables, my masterpieces back?”

The Mission was a Call to Battle—it was a fight to regain and restore captured men and women—

The heart of God was and is willing to fight for you and me. In the Beginning—God knew our Redemption, our Reconciliation, our ability to freely and without fear walk the journey of faith & life would Require an Invasion.

I typically envision an invasion as a huge number of soldiers storming a beach like at Normandy in WWII.

But God did not send an invading Army, He sent only One invader—His Only Son—

Now if you’re going to send One Soldier into hostile territory, behind enemy lines what do you think that soldier should look like?

Captain America
Incredible Hulk
We don’t get a soldier trained for battle even an enhanced Patriot, we don’t get a super-strong creature or even an alien Superman

We get THIS—(picture of Mary holding baby Jesus)a Tiny Baby with no skills in Jujitsu, no Advanced Infantry Training, no Special Ops, no Hostage negotiation—I mean, this baby looks totally harmless—

And yet the arrival of this child is the first knock that shatters the gates of the Kingdom of Darkness

This arrival we typically call the Incarnation—

John 1:1—In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 14—And the Word became Flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

We read the words of:
Matthew 1:20—“an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

MT 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."

That sounds so nice, we can get so easily lost in the cuteness of it all. But I noticed something when looking back at that moment in Isaiah. Immanuel does not come for the nation of Israel in the calm of the night—Immanuel comes as the Deliverer, when all hope is lost, when the enemy is at the gates.

While Isaiah 7 is the well known introduction of the term Immanuel, ch. 8 describes the invasion of Assyria it this way. 8:8-10-- Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, O Immanuel!"
8:9 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered! Listen, all you distant lands.
Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

The Arrival of Immanuel is a time of Battle—of the Victory of the Lord. It is the plan and salvation of Immanuel that will win the day.

True Restoration—True Freedom—True Rescue

To be what God had created you and me to be—not only enjoy walking beside us, but living within us. That little baby that we celebrate at Christmas is the Key to our Creator once again enjoying the closeness of the Garden, and that little baby is the Key to a Secure Future with our Creator that can never be broken or lost again.

He willingly laid aside all that He was and became a Flesh, became a Human Being in order to accomplish it all--

What exactly did God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity lay aside?
Jesus laid aside Eternity, and He laid aside Omnipresence—being everywhere at the same moment and confined Himself to an infant body bound by time and space

He laid aside Omnipotence—All Power, and Omniscience—All Knowledge—and limited or emptied Himself into a body that didn’t have the power to feed itself, that couldn’t move from one place to another unless someone else carried him.

PHP 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
PHP 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
PHP 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!

Laid aside the “very Nature of God” which was already His and
Laid aside the right to be Served as King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Laid aside His immunity to death
He didn’t come fully formed ready for battle, He didn’t come with all the training, no big muscles, no advanced infantry training

God did not see fit to place Jesus among a team of highly trained operatives, not a military outfit that could train Him in the art of battle--but 2 young newlyweds, a few animal activists and a few animals. Instead the heart of God was moved to Initiate our rescue with Innocence, Holiness and Helplessness. “The foolishness of God is sure wiser than man’s wisdom

In spite of this helpless appearance, our Hero had—according to Colossians—“all the fullness of deity liv[ing] in bodily form.”

Even in that infant—there was power—there was Promise, there was Hope.

It doesn’t seem like the best way to mount a rescue, but for God—it was ideal because Jesus being born, gained something from this infiltration to the kingdom of darkness.

What did Jesus gain? Flesh and Blood untainted by sin—that’s what the Virgin Conception and Birth was for.

He gained an opportunity to walk among us without us running and hiding.
He gained an opportunity to share in our sufferings, endure every temptation, yet be without sin.
He gained the ability, not just to tell us about the love of God, but truly demonstrate it with action, by dying for us, dying in our place, receiving the punishment that we deserved.

The Mission was Accepted and Initiated and the Hero of the Human Race was born on that simple Christmas morning.

And it was and continues to be a moment worth praising God over.
Even God’s Mighty Warriors—the angels in all their glory—praised God over this:

“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth—peace to men on whom His favor rests”

And when the shepherds went to Bethlehem to see what the angels announced—they too Praised God.

The Word—God Himself—was made Flesh—shared in our Humanity—walked among us and Restored the Possibility of a Journey and Walk of Faith—by holding to His mission of the Cross—By Demonstrating Victory in the Resurrection—

and so our Savior, born that first Christmas—is able “to save completely & forever those who come to God through Him”

When the time came—the baby was born to restore and make possible a life of faith and a close walk with God—the Mission was initiated to accomplish that.

Initiated not with Grandeur, posing or a show of force—but with simplicity and a show of love.

Luke 2:6—“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

American Christianity--Part Time v. Full Time

Christian Post had an interesting article quoting, Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia who is the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches.

I feel compelled to share and comment on this article despite 2 objections. First, the title of the article is misleading--he's not quoted as directly referring to America as suggested. Secondly, I'm typically not a big fan of the World Council of Churches.

However, the implications of Rev. Kobia's comments are something I (and others) have noticed for some time and I want to give him props for a correct observation--at least of the northern & Amero/Euro church.

Here is an important quote from the article--

"Religion is seen not as a part-time occupation, but it permeates the whole life,” WCC General Secretary Kobia answered. “There are many Africans therefore that think their future will be much more hopeful if they embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

I'm afraid that too many Americans see church, even their faith as a part-time occupation. In reality, for some it's a 2 hour a week job--many others 1 hour or less--the service/liturgy/songs better not take time away from the pastor's message--and he should go no longer than 20-30 minutes(less if there's a game on). That's assuming that people feel the need to go to this part-time job on a weekly basis.

It's as if we no longer believe there's a benefit--there's no return on our time--it's not like we're getting paid--it's not like I'm getting anything out of it--it's not like I couldn't be more entertained doing something else.

Herein lies some of the problem--we want a perfect church that meets all our spiritual needs and can do it in less time than it takes to get through the drive thru at McDonald's.

Good luck finding one of those--good luck impacting the Kingdom of God that way. More and more we Americans see the church as a place where the believers get served like at the restaurants after church--someone listens to what we want, someone else prepares just what we want, someone else brings it to us and serves us, someone else cleans up afterwards.

Too many believers are coming to the church to be served rather than coming to the church to help serve--especially help serve the lost (non-members!!!! anyone but them!).

If you're wondering why the church is anemic--it just might be that we view everything else in life as Full-Time and we view God as Part-Time. God gets the extra, God gets the leftovers.

Strange how when God speaks of the tithe, he speaks of it as "First-fruits". The first, the best is to be given to Him--not the leftovers, not the extra, not after the bills are paid, not after I've paid for my vacation...

If you're wondering what will help the church get out of its anemic state--maybe we can start by making your life as a Disciple of Jesus Christ a Full-Time Privilege--you are allowed to work at your job while your on your Full-Time clock--you're able to go to school while still doing your Full-Time-Ambassadorship.

Are you a Full-Time or a Part-Time believer?

What do you think?

Sermon-- Mission In Progress-- 12-16-07

Most of the sermon below is just referencing various texts of Scripture used to make the overall point. I knew what I wanted to say and didn't write as much down this time. If you want the whole context, you'll have to listen to the sermon when it gets posted.

Check at www.ubcfellowship.com

Mission In Progress

We’ve been working backwards to Christmas and the incarnation—starting with the Return of Christ and the Mission Victorious—then last week, we looked at the Mission Accomplished—with Jesus’ work on the Cross.

Today, we’ll be looking at the Mission In Progress—what others thought His mission was supposed to be and how Jesus described His own mission.

1. Mission Imposed
a. Throughout Jesus ministry, people thought they knew what the Messiah should be about—they tried to tell Him what to do, how He was supposed to do it—who His friends were supposed to be—even who He should or shouldn’t be having dinner with—essentially—many people tried to impose their understanding upon Jesus—essentially—they were trying to tell Jesus how to do His job.

b. Here’s a Definition of an Armchair Quarterback-- a person who is not a quarterback, but offers opinions and criticism on the performance or decisions of those who are

c. There were many people who wanted to offer their opinion on what the Messiah should be, or offer their criticisms of Jesus performance as the Messiah.—and I thought patients commenting on a surgeon’s technique was bad.—or a drunk driver trying to tell a sober driver all the things they are doing wrong.

d. Miracle Worker— LK 4:23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: `Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "
LK 4:24 "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.

e. Pharisees--MK 8:11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

f. Herod-- LK 23:8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.

g. Public Figure—John 7:1-- JN 7:1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. 2 But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world."—stop hiding out here—you need to be in the Big City so you’ll get noticed

h. We Know Who Your Friends Should Be-- LK 5:27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

LK 5:29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and `sinners'?"

LK 5:31 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

i. MT 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon.' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

j. King by Force-- JN 6:14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

k. Again, Jesus failed to have His mission imposed on Him. He refused to have His behavior Imposed on Him—He refused to have the “right people” imposed on Him—H refused to be made King by some other means, He refused even to do miracles in some places.

l. You and I have many expectations of Jesus—He’s one of the more talked about and misunderstood characters in history—we try to make Jesus into our own image—if I’m for it, or I’m doing it—then I’m sure Jesus is doing it or for it too. Jesus won’t care—not only does He love everybody, but He saves everybody.

2. Mission Explained
a. We want to let ourselves off the hook on so many things—saying the law of righteousness or the call to holiness by God no longer applies to us or it is outdated. We may not always understand what this means MT 5:17 "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.

b. We think of Jesus as the cute and cuddly Savior—much like the Teddy Bear you received last Christmas—But Jesus describes Himself this way in the Sermon on the Mount---Matthew 10:34T 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He wants people to make a decision about Him—and that decision will divide friendships, households, even nations.

c. So many want to make Jesus tolerant—never imposing His faith—never trying to tell someone else they are wrong----MK 1:38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.—for there to be Good News—there had to be Bad News—for there to be demons, there has to be evil—and He called it what it was—

d. John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
JN 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

e. JN 12:46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
JN 12:47 "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it

f. Even today—we expect Jesus to come in and solve all our problems—if we just get Jesus back into our schools, if we just get Jesus back into our government—those expectations are not much different from the Jewish misunderstandings of what the Messiah was coming to do. But Jesus came to save people and change people and in so doing will change society. In describing His mission—Jesus, in visiting His hometown said this LK 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
LK 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
LK 4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

g. So much of what follows in the Gospels are moments when He feeds the hungry, frees those held in demonic bondage, restores sight to the blind, heals the sick.—He doesn’t go to the halls government—he goes to the hearts of people.

h. Since so many don’t like to hear that they are wrong, don’t like to hear that they are going down the wrong path—they have issues with the real Jesus--Luke 19:10-- 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."—if you’re lost—you need someone to find you , to put you on the right path

i. I would expect someone as important as Jesus to demand favorable treatment—superstar glamour--some big wigs before agreeing to a speaking engagement require a certain amount of money, certain hotel and food perks—but not Jesus Matt. 20:28-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

j. Predictions of death & resurrection
i. MT 20:17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18 "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"
ii. MT 26:1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 "As you know, the Passover is two days away--and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."
3. Mission in Action
a. Jesus was all about reconnecting people with God
b. That’s why, when He saw the abuse at the Temple—He was willing to throw over tables, and drive people out who were cheating and taking advantage of the poor.

c. Rather than allow himself to be king—to be used as a political tool--even when the people tried to force the issue, Jesus would Slip away from being made king—even when Satan offered it all for a small price

d. Jesus Refusing to make Himself into a Public Figure by going to the feast with His brothers—but came silently and began to teach

e. Refusing to do miracles on queue—

f. Instead, Jesus Setting his face toward Jerusalem –on numerous occasions, Jesus’ determination to go to Jerusalem is described—nothing could alter His course—not even the begging of His disciples

g. Refusing to escape—Gethsemane—don’t you know I could call upon 10 legions of angels

h. Nothing could deter Jesus from fulfilling His mission. Every step of the way—when moments of temptation would come to take Him off the path—you need to know that your face flashed before His eyes—the ones He came to save—the ones He came to rescue from darkness and death.

i. Also consider the passion with which He fulfilled His mission—how nothing dissuade Him—not fear, not death, not embarrassment—all because of His love

j. Now consider that after fulfilling His mission—Jesus gave you and me a mission that we need to fulfill with the same undeterred passion that Jesus had. To share our light—to help rescue people from darkness. Nothing should deter us from the Mission that Christ Accomplished on the Cross and gave to us to share—not fear, not death, not embarrassment. Too often we do let those things and more stop us.

k. But our love for Jesus should compel us—it compels me to want to fulfill my mission—to see you fulfill your mission—to see the Kingdom of God grow in our hearts and our church and our city. So this Christmas—honor the birth of Christ by fulfilling the mission He gave you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sermon -- Christmas 2007--Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

Kings leave their Throne Rooms for various reasons—self-indulgent vacation time, conquest of other territories, treasures—Great Kings, Great Leaders have a bigger vision--leave their throne on great quests—some noble or impossible mission

Why would a King such as Jesus leave His throne? Give up everything,
Lay Aside eternity and be bound by Time
Lay Aside Omnipresence—and be bound within a body
Lay aside Omnipotence—and be born as a powerless baby
Lay aside Invulnerability and become Vulnerable—able to experience death

Jesus had a reason for coming—He didn’t just look at this world as the best vacation spot for a life of relaxation—there was no territory for Him to conquer b/c it really already belonged to Him. Jesus had a greater Vision. He had a reason—we’ll see where He describes His Mission, more into that reason next week—when He speaks to those reasons Himself. But He hoped to accomplish something

Today we’ll be looking at that Mission and How it was Completed—how it was Accomplished—

Christmas is the beginning of the earthly mission of a great King—but it happens in a most unusual way.
A small child is born in a small town, to parents who won’t be recognized on the nightly news and who wouldn’t ever have a red carpet laid out for them. This Coming must be understood in light of where Jesus is going.

Crucifixion—Mission Inspired--The Plan of Old—Fulfillment of Prophecy
• One of the tv shows I used to watch—that has now attained societal cult like status—is McGyver—no matter what situation he found himself in—he could always improvise an explosive, a distraction or some other superior strategy using a pocket knife, a stick of gum still in the wrapper, a ball point pen, duct tape, soda, paperclips, household cleaning products—among other items you either have around the house or carry in your pocket on a regular basis.

• One of the lessons you can get from the program is that You can never plan for all contingencies—so be prepared to improvise with what you’ve got. Always have a backup plan.

• I am thankful that God does not take this approach. He doesn’t have to. Nothing in this world from eternity past, to creation, to any point until now has taken God by surprise. So even before the creation of humanity, God already knew that we were going to turn away from Him, but also knew exactly what it would take to restore us—the Sacrifice of His Son

• The Crucifixion of Jesus was not Plan B—it was not an Accident—God was never wringing His hands, looking around thinking—“what do I have to do to fix this—hmmm, let me see if I take one of these and a little bit of that and throw in Jesus—that way I’ll save humanity!”

• God’s plan was in motion from the beginning—in Genesis 3—God promised there would be One who’s heel the serpent would strike, but who would in turn crush the serpents head—

• The setting aside of a Chosen People—starting with Abraham—was for the purpose of bringing this Messiah into the world. Who Jesus is, and what Jesus had to endure was prophesied about hundreds of years before the events took place.
• During the lifetime of King David—the late 900’s BC--Psalm 22-describes what would happen to the Messiah-PS 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
PS 22:18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

• During the lifetime of Isaiah—the 7 & 600’s BC, God revealed this about the Suffering Servant--Isaiah 534 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

• These are but a small demonstration of the fact that the Crucifixion was a part of God’s plan from the beginning. All of it, according to 1 Corinthians 15 takes place, “according to the Scriptures”

• Galatians 4:4 says that “when the time had fully come, God sent His Son”--When the time had fully come means—when the time was right, when all the preparations had been made.

• Now, don’t take any of this to think that the Father knew what it would take but He had been holding out on Jesus, keeping Jesus in the dark—no

• Luke 9:22—“"The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

• Luke 18:31-33—“Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. 33 On the third day he will rise again."

• For a Purpose—Died for our sins—1 Cor. 15:3—“ For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures

• Out of Love—John 3:16—“For God so loved the world that He gave or sent His only Son.”—This sending is a demonstration of just how much God seeks to reconcile and restore our relationship with Him

• John 15:13—“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

• Romans 5:8—“s

• The Crucifixion is About Accomplishing the Mission He had been sent for—From the Cross—Jesus said several things—

• Today You will be with Me in Paradise—apart from what Jesus was doing right then and there—it was impossible for that man to be in Paradise at all—paradise had been denied—humanity had been expelled—the presence of Holy God would not allow a sin stained individual before Him—and yet, because of the Cross—Paradise is Restored—it is now possible—

• Father, into Your hands, I commit My Spirit—Jesus felt the weight of sin and the separation it causes but you and I need to know that He was not rejected by God—Psalm 22:24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

• He says—“It is Finished”, to bring to a close, to finish, to end passed, finished to perform, execute, complete, fulfil, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said ordered or commanded)

• The Crucifixion is the moment of Mission Accomplished—for the Christmas Mission to earth

• And just in case there is any doubt about the Acceptability of the sacrifice—The Resurrection is Proof that the Mission Accomplished in Mission Accepted.

Resurrection—Mission Acceptable
• If the Mission ended in Dying—it’s doubtful I’d be talking about it today. It’s doubtful much of anything would have been written, it’s doubtful our western civilization would be anything like what we’ve got.

• If it ended in death—with Jesus still in the grave—there would be nothing for you and I to be here worshipping about—because ultimately, it would mean that what Jesus did was not good enough, was not acceptable—is of no significant help to you and me to reconcile us back to God.

• Hebrews 8:3—“Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.”

• Heb. 9:11-14-- When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

• Demonstration of God’s Acceptance
• Romans 3:25-26-- God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
• 1 John 4:10—“ This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

• If the Sacrifice of Jesus was not enough, not good enough, not effective—then there would be no reason to resurrect Him. But by claiming resurrection—God is saying that the Mission was a Great Success

• Proof that sin & death were defeated
• Proof that we have been reconciled to God
• Proof that we have been rescued from the dominion of darkness—Colossians 1:13-14—“ For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

• His eternal life is Proof of our eternal life—because He lives
• Mission accomplished

Acts 1:9
• Mission on earth completed, but it’s not like He’s doing nothing in the mean-time

• Mission in heaven continued—Jesus is continuing to get things ready for the Mission Victorious—the Second Coming.

• He is continuing to Call people to Him
• Continuing to intercede for us,
• Continuing to granting us access,
• Continuing to defend us from accusation when we are covered by the Blood
• The Mission Victorious is Waiting—awaiting the word from the Father to go and Finalize—vs. 10-11

• In the Meantime…the earthly mission can be described as

• Mission Delegated—Acts 1:7-8—“ He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
• to You and Me—you will be my witnesses—go and make disciples.—go tell it on the mountain.
• Jesus Mission is Accomplished—accomplished by the Cross—it becomes real for you by receiving the forgiveness He Provides.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sermon--Mission Victorious--Second Coming of Christ

The Christmas Season is One in which we Celebrate His first Coming. His Coming and everything about it is His Mission—Mission Initiated—I’m going to save that one until the 23rd.

As we’ve been going through the Letters to the Churches in Revelation—we wrapped up last week considering the Encouragements, the Corrections & the Promises that could be made to us today.

In fact, we’re going to be working backward—starting with the Mission Victorious

Warren Wiersbe tells a story of when he was a young man preaching on the last days with all the events of prophecy clearly laid out and perfectly planned. At the end of the service an older gentleman came up to him and whispered in his ear, “I used to have the Lord’s return planned out to the last detail, but years ago I moved from the planning committee to the welcoming committee.”

Mission Victorious—The Return of Christ is a much debated and Controversial topic.

What the World is Saying
If He’s Even Real—From Bertrand Russell, to the Jesus Seminar and philosophers from as far back as the 1800’s—more and more vocal and embittered scholars are attempting to make the case that Jesus never existed at all. In a lawsuit against the Vatican, the Church was accused of inventing the story of Jesus' existence. Although the case was thrown out of court in February, 2006, the plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, has appealed.

The argument against Jesus' existence was made public on a national TV broadcast on CNN with the following startling statement: “Well, I’m here to give the reality point of view, I guess,” declared Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists. “Because the reality is, there is not one shred of secular evidence there ever was a Jesus Christ.

In most circles such claims are not given much credibility—but it’s still being said in an increasing manner. If Jesus never existed, there’s no way He could ever Return.

As if He’s Even Alive—if Jesus did really exist then many more are unwilling to believe He’s still alive—within the last year—even famous movie director James Cameron tried to convince the world that a team of archaeologists had found the burial box of Jesus

As if He’ll Return— It’s been so long since the life of Jesus—that even more and more Christians are beginning to disbelieve the second coming. People are Scoffing
2 Peter 3:3-4—“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this `coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."

Several years ago Johnny Carson had Billy Graham as a guest on The Tonight Show. At one point there was a lull in the conversation and Johnny said, “You know what, Billy? I bet if Jesus ever came back to earth, we’d do Him in again!”

Billy Graham leaned forward in his seat, and said, “In the Bible we read that Jesus WILL someday return to earth again. The first time He came in love. The next time, He’ll come in power. And no one will do Him in!”

Scripture teaches the reality of the Second Coming—of the Mission Victorious
Even Angels Testify—Acts 1:10-11—“They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

What Jesus has Said
“I Will Come”—John 14:1-3—“"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Mark 14:61-62-- Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" MK 14:62 "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Revelation 22:7, 12, 20—“Behold, I Am Coming Soon”
Jesus speaks of a certainty—of an absolute fact.

He’s not coming back with His Messianic nature veiled but revealed. Jesus In Victory
To Forever do away with Sin & Death—they have been defeated by the Resurrection Power
To Restore All of Creation to it’s Intended State –Romans 8—“liberated from its bondage to decay”
To Establish His Kingdom—where Revelation 19 describes Him as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
To Claim His Bride—the Bride, which is the Believing Church, which He died for
To Receive the Willing Worship of His People
In this coming there will be no possibility of doubt, no possibility of missing it, no denying it, no secret coming, no ignoring it—instead at the name of Jesus—“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, PHP 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

This is the Victory that is in our Future!
What is He Waiting For? When Will His Mission be Established in Victory?

Mercy is Patient—2 Peter 3:9—“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

We are Waiting from a Word from the Father

“I Won’t Come Yet—not while there’s still more—more who need to hear—more who will believe.” When the last person has heard, when the last person has believed, when the last one who will ever make a decision to follow Jesus has made it—when the fields that are white to the harvest have been reaped—The Word Will Be Given!
When we as the People of God—ambassadors for Christ—foreign missionaries—every one of us—because this world is not our home—we have been sent—when We have fulfilled our Mission—taking the Good news to every Tribe & Tongue--Jesus will return to Finalize in Victory His Mission--

Matthew 24:14—“and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Mark 13:10—“And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”

What Should We Be Saying?
EPH 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

It is my belief in and our love for the Second Coming that should keep us proclaiming the Name of Jesus—the forgiveness His death on the Cross purchased—the Hope that is ours in the Resurrection

Christmas is about Hope—if He came the first time—He’ll come a second time.

The Gospel, the Good News must be Proclaimed to those who so desperately need to hear it
Be His Witnesses

Live as If Christ died 3 days ago, Rose this Morning and is Coming Again Tomorrow—that is a life of victory.

invest your gift—fulfill your mission—love greatly—anticipate that Victorious Return.

Luke 21:28—“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”