I John 2:7-29-Aug. 29, 2012

August 29, 2012-I John 2:7-29

John is writing to them a commandment that is not new at all in fact it has been there from the start.  In another way it is a new command which is in Him and in us.  The reality is the command has been there all along, but now in light of who Christ is, it takes on a slightly new meaning and context.  It is also new in another sense that the command be faithful understood and lived out in the world that each community of faith finds itself in.  This community may be defined by geography or by time in history, but the old command remains to be lived out in the present age of darkness anew as the light of the world.

We worship a relational God who sent His Son into human history to relate to each of us and ultimately to save us.  It is this relational triune God that desires for His own to live in loving relationship with one another.  It is important to note here that the term is brother.  If we that claim to be His can’t or won’t love each other, then it speaks to the evidence of the fruits of God in our lives.  A hateful attitude toward our brother stands as act of rebellion to God.  Being blinded to God by our hate we then stumble in darkness and cause others to stumble as well.

Verses 12-14 the sequence of children, fathers, and young men is repeated twice but also for emphasis in a poetic context.  This section regards both the fathers and the young men as children of God because their sins are forgiven on account of his name and because they have known the Father.  The fathers have known him who is from the beginning and the young men of their strength and the word of God living in them, and overcoming the evil one.  It is important whether young or young at heart to know that God sees us all as His children and has a place for us.  We need to be cautious that the community remains a community under the heavenly Father.

Do not love the world, or the things in the world.  Here John is not speaking of the physical world per se, but rather the love of anything God created to the point of misuse or abuse.  It is this love that produces sin in us and separates us from the will of God for our lives and the purposes of God for us as His lights in the world.  John mentions a few of those things, lust of the flesh and eyes, and boastful pride.  These are short-lived temporary things that make us feel good or make everything about us.  However, just as the world is created and therefore temporary, so too are the desires of this world.

The last hours or days will produce those that are not in accordance with the will of God and by that definition they are antichrists.  They are those that come claiming a false doctrine but yet try to masquerade as one of His.  These are attacks that are coming on and against the body from within.  People who claim they are from God but are not acknowledging the Jesus as God’s Son.  This can be subtle in some cases and more direct in others.  Either way it becomes a new threat to the church.  Before most of the problems came from outside, but now they are also forming inside the community.  These people are no longer physically part of the community and John deduces that they never really were apart because they denied that Jesus was the Son of God.  It is false also in the sense that if God acknowledges Jesus as His Son it would be calling God a liar and His truth is not in our hearts.

The promise of God is eternal life.  John is reminding the community of this because there are those antichrists who are trying to deceive them.  His anointing was received and remains in you.  You do not need anyone to teach you.  The ultimate source of authority in this matter is the Lord Himself.  Some commentators also mention that this teaching or knowledge may be part of a larger movement during the later years of the first century known as Gnosticism.  The Gnostics claimed special knowledge (gnosis) that had to be obtained to move forward in faith.  In doing so where adding to the tradition of scripture, and the witnesses of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ.  John simply states it this way, you have received it not them, it remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you, it is real and not false, and abide in it.

The community is encouraged to continue in him, so that when he appears they can be confident and unashamed before him.  If you know that he is righteous then the evidence of that righteousness will be found in those that are his.

Looking For Home-Aug. 26, 2012

Looking for Home-August 26, 2012

Psalm 84, Philippians 3

The Psalmist delights in the dwelling places of the Lord.  He goes on to say how his soul longed for  the courts of the Lord and that his heart and flesh sing for joy.  Is that us?  Do we only seek the dwelling place of God out of obligation, ritual, or ownership?  Do we come to the place without ever entering His presence?  When was the last time that we found delight to be in the dwelling place of Lord?  The Psalmist uses words like delight, longed for, and sing for joy, these are the words of love and adoration.  This is the way we might describe a first love.  The Lord cautions the church in Ephesus, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”  Revelation 2:4.

This Psalm begs another question and that is are we at home in the home of the Lord?  Do we find His presence a place of peace and comfort?  The Psalmist describes those who dwell in the house of the Lord blessed.  They are not blessed because they are there but because God is present.  Blessed also are those whose strength is in Him.  They go from strength to strength, not because of their own strength but the Lord Himself is their strength.  In conclusion the Psalmist reminds us that, “Better is one day in our courts than thousands elsewhere.”  It is truly blessed to be in the presence of the Lord.

Are we looking all around this world for a home and finding ourselves out-of-place?  Out of place is a good way of putting it for those who long for a home with the Lord.  However, sometimes in this world, it may be easy to lose sight of home and think that we may never get there.  It may be tempting to just acclimate to the culture of our temporary home.  As the old phrase goes, “when in Rome…”, or “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  Perhaps we are trying to justify a longing that takes us away from our first love and like that church in Ephesus it may very well be that we are doing many good and right things, but we must never forget our first love.  We are not of this world we are just stopping by for a few years.  We have been granted citizenship in heaven.

In his letter to the Philippians Paul warns them about sinners but religious people who also sin, but aren’t as quick to acknowledge it.  Paul himself states how he was found righteous through religion, and how great his person resume was, then he basically says its worthless without the knowledge of Christ.  He confesses that in doing these right things he persecuted and killed the followers of Jesus.  Paul goes on to describe the value of the salvation work done in Christ.  He describes the work as complete in Christ and being perfected in us to the day of our going home.

Paul encourages those who are longing for home, press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Then he describes this world, many walk (or live) each day as enemies of the cross of Christ and it brings him to tears.  In verse 19 sums this world up, their end is destruction, their god is their own desires, they glory in shameful things and even that glory is shameful in comparison to the one who is glory, and their minds are set to this place as home.  So they are no longer looking or seeking, but rather settling for less than God’s best.  They may be deceived into thinking they can live forever, but the Psalmist’s words remind us, better is one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere.

Paul reminds the believers our citizenship is in heaven, which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.  This is not home fellow believers do not stop longing for the dwelling of the Lord, set aside our pride and desire for our glory, so that when He who is glorious comes we will be transformed into the likeness of His glory, rather the realizing at the moment how truly inglorious we really are apart from Him.

I pray that we never stop looking, longing, and eagerly waiting to be in our homeland.  I leave you know with Paul’s words, “press on..”

This Moment

This Moment

There seems to be two competing views of life.  One view of life is understood from memory.  Remembering the “good ole days,” of time gone by is very appealing and it does have its place in our lives, however, no one can live in the past.  It is important from an individual and church setting to look back both at the good times and bad.  Learn what we can from those experiences and ultimately make changes or build upon them.  Relive them, we cannot.

The second view is similar to the first in that it takes its shape from a time that doesn’t exist yet, the future.  The future will arrive a little at a time each day, but the future can no more easily be lived today as the past.  The future is the not yet lived life of the individual or church.  As with the past memories are the context, with the future we use words like hope, expectation, dreams, plans, goals, and vision.

It is easy to from time to time to linger too long in the memories of the past or glorious dreams of the future.  The place where both meet is this moment.  It is this moment that we have, both as individuals and as a church to live for Christ.  We must be wise to look to the past with clarity understanding.  Discerning where there can and should be some improvements and then make necessary changes for the benefit of the body and the future of the church.  In looking back there is also a rich heritage of faith that belies the church.  We should affirm those great moments of legacy and build upon their sure foundation to move toward a fruitful future.

It is also equally easy to look longingly so far into the future that we lose all connection with the present time.  Looking to a wonderful vision of the future can too often come at a great cost.  In some cases the loss of identity.  Pushing into the future, rather than seeing God reveal it to us in this moment can cause a church to lose its identity, legacy, and witness.

There needs to be grace as God leads each church into the future.  There needs to be time to take an honest look back acknowledging both the wonderful and not so wonderful things.  In remembering, understand the legacy of faith that is foundational for the future of any church.  Then turn your eyes to the future and see the possibilities of God revealed through His word to the world today.

Live in grace with one another as the faith of the generations gone by has brought you to this moment.  Live with expectancy into the future God is revealing for His church.  Live this moment with honor, hope, and grace as the community of faith.

God bless each of you as we live this moment together.

Pastor Greg

I John 1:1-2:6-Aug. 22, 2012

I John 1:1-2:6-August 22, 2012

Major themes in I John are a contest between sinful deceit and righteous truth, the triumph of over darkness, the manifestation of eternal life, the realization of joy, and the perfection of love.

I John, go back to the beginning and scans forward to the present time.  The point is this “the church lives what it preaches; it preaches what it has heard.”  The beginnings of I John harken back to the gospel of John.  These first four verses that are similar to the gospel are about the expressed concern for fidelity to the community’s origins.

The one in who churches message originates:  Jesus, is the font of that community’s tradition to whom the church bears witness and in whom the church finds springs for its continuing existence.  The preached word is proclaiming what we know, but not new.  This life, which appeared at a precise moment in history, molds the audition and vision of those who currently testify to that life as eternally significant.  It is also in I John a time of transition or nearing transition.  There is fellowship with one another in Christ.  Christian fellowship is not only grounded in God’s activity through Christ but is itself proof of that grounding as well.

So what is preaching?  It is the faithful restatement of the Christian heritage, creatively addressed to the church that lives in a new situation, but still remaining faithful to “that which was from the beginning.”

“To be a servant the virtue most highly prized in a servant is not originality, but fidelity.” David C. Steinmetz

The place where the supernatural and natural meet also look back to John 20:19-31.  Those who have seen and heard now must pass along to this new generation who hasn’t literally seen or perhaps heard.  There is a division between sin and fellowship.  It expresses concern for Christian integrity, within the believing community as well between it and God.

God’s Son is the agent of reconciliation.  I John 2:5 marks the first of 52 references to the word agape in the epistle of I John alone.  Believers abide in Christ through the practice of love.  The community set apart in Christ lives continually by the gospel of God’s forgiveness, precisely because we are sick and need a physician (Mark 2:17).

People try to persuade us that the objections against Christianity spring from doubt.  That is a complete misunderstanding.  The objections against Christianity spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience, rebellion against authority, as a result people have hitherto been beating the air in their struggle against objections, because they have fought intellectually with doubt instead of fighting morally with rebellion.  Soren Kierkegaard

To deny the truth about ourselves is to call the one who “is” truth a liar.

“The sinner who justifies himself does not know God as Savior.”  Reinhold Niebuhr

How do we know God?  In I John we know God in our conformity with the gospel’s moral imperatives and their fruition in love.

I John 2:5-6:  Do we bear the imprint of Christ?  Is His stamp on us evident in the way we walk?

Praise The Lord-Aug. 19, 2012

Praise the Lord-August 19, 2012

Scripture:  Psalm 8, Psalm 111. Revelation 12:11

For us to truly “praise the Lord,” we must take God seriously and ourselves not so seriously, not the other way around.  Echoing John’s words “I must decrease that He may increase.”  In reading Psalm 8 we are reminded of the great beauty of God’s creation.  In the vast universe that God has created, there is also this little blue ball known as earth.  On earth there are even smaller and seemingly insignificant parts of creation known as humans or mankind.  However, in the beauty of the universe the Lord takes notice of us, and desires a relationship with us.  We were created to bring Him glory and He was willing to let His Son leave glory for a time and live as one of us a human, and dying in our place, so that we may live for His glory and experience it forever.

Psalm 111 reminds us that we praise the Lord both with all our hearts, and in the assembly of the upright.  We should be praising the glory of God at all times, not just because He is our creator, but also our redeemer and sustainer.  The works and word of the Lord are studied by all those who delight in them.  In studying His works we are brought to a place of beauty and deeper awe of the magnificent glory of God.  He has made His wonders to be remembered.  Long after I am gone the work of the Lord will endure and be remembered bearing witness generation to generation.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate.  He takes care of the needs of His people and not forgetting His covenant.  Although we may not be faithful in our promises to Him it is because of His gracious character the He is faithful anyways.  Therefore we should praise Him for His mercy and our heritage in it.  He is a worker of truth and justice that endures.  He also sent redemption to His people, and is Holy and awesome is His name.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and dare I say also the beginning of worship.  It will be difficult to worship God if we cannot on some level grasp His power and enormity, and at the same time His kindness and mercy, it is in this place that grace becomes amazing and worship becomes a way of life.

Revelation reminds us as well that the believers overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and were willing to give all including their lives to the Lord.  Their testimony was sure and true that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  The first believers were willing to put their very lives on the line because the Lamb of God had already given His life for them.  Their gracious lives lived out the reality of praise to the Lord.  Will those who call themselves His in this day and age be willing to do the same?  Will you and I praise the Lord with our whole lives that the world may know Him?

And He Will Redeem-Aug. 12, 2012

And He Will Redeem-August 12, 2012

Scripture:  Psalm 130, John 6:35, 41-51

There are many things in this life that will bring us down.  It doesn’t take long if you look at the news or even at your own life to realize that there is something not right, or at least not as God intended it to be.  It may be tempting to go at life our own way in our own power and to forget that we are the redeemed of Christ.  In examining closely our own lives we will discover that sin is all around and the weight of it all can seem to be overpowering to the point of crushing us body and spirit.  In this point this moment of utter despair our soul cries out to the Lord for mercy.

The Psalmist notes if God were to keep a record of sin, who could stand?  One elusive sin is the sin of I can manage.  We think we can make it on our own apart from God.  But we are reminded that with God there is forgiveness and therefore God is to be feared.  Some say fear, others respect, perhaps awe in the fact that we deserve so much more that we receive from God.  We desire death for our sings yet He is one who is forgiving.  He is just as well as loving and the reality of both meet at the cross of Christ.

Those who are in despair do not lose heart, wait for the Lord, and put your hope in His word.  “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.  He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”  So put your hope in the Lord and wait for His love, with Him is full redemption.  This is not a redemption until the next time a sin, but a once-and-for-all redemption, a 100% purchase from the beginning of our lives to the end for all eternity.

This redemption was purchased through the blood of Jesus.  In John 6:35 Jesus reminds us that He is the bread of life we need not be hungry or thirsty.  The nourishment of our souls can be more than met in Christ.  Later in the same scene Jesus tells them that manna did come in the desert and their forefathers did eat it, but they also had to keep eating it and did eventually die.  It is complete and total redemption.  Given through the sacrifice of Christ’s life on the cross.  It is the bread of His flesh, which was given for the life of the world.

And He will redeem…glory be to God for He has redeemed through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

Guest Speaker-Aug. 5, 2012

Guest Speaker-August 5, 2012

Do not have information about this Sunday.  The pastor was on vacation and the guest speaker was Rev. Randy Krantz, Bedford County’s Commonwealth Attorney.