That We May Be Saved-September 29, 2013

That We May Be Saved-September 29, 2013

Scripture:  Psalm 80:1-3, 7-19

Key Verse:

Restore us, O God Almighty;

Make your face shine upon us,

That we may be saved.  Psalm 80:3,7,19

Do you think that if something is important it bears repeating?  What is that is truly worth repeating?  Is it that joke we heard the other day, the one we laughed at but it not really funny.

All true revival begins with recognition.  Recognizing both who God is and our state or condition before Him.  Here in Psalm 80 we have some very powerful poetry describing the deep need for God but also recognizing the things that God has already done for us, and for Israel.  Sharing our continuing need of God and asking for restoration and revival.

Although revival comes to one person at a time, it comes most often in a collective seeking and yearning.  It is not that the might of God is literally asleep but has been inactive toward them, because of their turning from God rather than trusting God, God gave them what they were seeking a power of their own strength, which as it turns out wand not very powerful.  Will we turn or trust, that is the first thought for revival.

Awaken your might, come and save us.  To ask for restoration is to recognize that we are in a fallen position or state.  This asking is to recognize for restoration is an acknowledgement of our being lost.  We hear the words come and save us because we cannot save ourselves.  Save us, we need your help.  Awaken your might, is a recognition that the Lord, He is mighty to save.  Salvation and restoration come from the Lord.  Without Him salvation is not possible.  We begin to collectively ask God to move to save us as a people by first saving me the person.  This happens when we draw close to the Lord and we ask Him not to turn His back to us but to make the light of His face to shine upon us.  Lord do not turn away from us any longer, like we have turned from you.  Lord we are sorry and we need you.  Lord, we have ignored you we have tried to do it on our own.  Lord we may be alive but we might as well be dead.  Without you there is not life, nothing but existence, and it has not power, no position, no passion, and no purpose.  Lord what is life without you?  A void, a place of existence like being lost at sea.  We are there but that is all we can say.

When we call out for restoration and revival we recognize our helplessness and need for a savior.  Save us!  Fill us with your power, position us near you, give us passion as we live day-by-day to live purposefully for you.  The Psalmist recognizes the great power of the Lord, by describing what the Lord has done and His trustworthiness and His ability to do it again.  Lord you plucked the living vine out of the land of oppression.  Beginning to clear out the people of the new land this land of promise.  Like a farmer clearing the ground and planting the vine there and it began to take root and grow.  We are because of who He and what He has done and so we are reminded that He is worthy of worship, honor, and praise for only He can save.

As is grew goodness also grew up around the vine as well.  Providing shade, might, protection, and blessing.  Sometimes the all too familiar will keep us from recognizing the daily blessings we have.  When the blessings have become so expansive.  They are as far as they eye can see and we begin to see and accept this state of blessedness as the new normal and in doing so our familiarity with blessing has brought us to a place where blessings are seen a common or our right and they are taken for granted rather than take as a gift from God.  Being blinded by blessings can sometimes cause us to forget the giver of these good blessings of the Lord.

The Lord exposed their presuppositions by taking away the protection of those blessings.  The things we began to see and take as common place was then taken away by any and everybody which is the truest sense of common, meaning for any and everybody.  When they or we demonstrate to God that His blessings are not special or common place, He teaches us that they are not by demonstrating how commonplace life is without Him.

It is in understanding this that we begin to repent for we are greatly blessed by our great powerful and wonderful God.  When we realize who God really is we begin to understand how far we are from Him.  In our pursuit of ourselves and our sinful natures we have wandered far from God and for a while God has allowed us to live in the mess we have created.  A mess that is of our own making.  He is the God of creation and order, and the chaos in our lives most often is of our own making.  Sometimes we can feel so far from God that we do not know the way back and so when we can’t see Him we call on Him ask Him to return that we can experience His presence, live in His power, and Love with His people.

This is a desperate plea for God to be there.  Come, Holy Father Come.  Celebrate and bring new life, like the lost sheep in Luke 15 we have wandered so far that now we need you to find us.  We have just found ourselves but have lost our way and then you return for you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Lord we know that this has happened because of our neglect of you, that there is nothing beyond your power or control.  When we doubt that God is in control He may allow other things to shake and shape our world.

It is interesting to me that the Psalmist doesn’t come asking for a direct restoration, but that God would allow His hand to rest on the Son of Man.  It is in knowing that it was for this very reason the Son of Man has been raised up.  It is for restoration and revival that the Son of Man is here.

Lord in seeking your favor with the Son of Man and you sending Him that the people will not turn but trust.  It is in trust that we affirm that all life can live again…beginning with the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.  The word ‘revive’ itself means to bring means to bring back to life, to make to live that which was dead.  Once you are dead it is a little late to call on the Lord.

The prayer and hope for us in not to trust in our own power or might but to trust in the Son of Man who sits at the right hand of God for He is mighty to save and the firstborn among the dead.  In Christ we will live again, in Christ our words and mouths aren’t like hollow graves but they themselves will have life, breath, and spirit, from the giver and restorer of life.  The very Hebrew word for breath ru’ah, also mean spirit, so literally as life comes to us in revival the breath and spirit of God dwells in us, and our mouths become the very source of praise to the one who has raised us, and revived us to walk in the newness of life for His glory.  We are revived, so that we can praise Him and call upon His name.

Revival precedes restoration.  We have been raised to praise.  In asking for restoration we acknowledge that we are lost without Him, and all blessings, and indeed all life flow from Him.  Turn your face to us that it may shine upon us.  Because it is in you that we are save and have life so too it is in you that we live.

Return, Watch, let His hand cultivate.  When we turn to you not away, like a plant or vine turns to the sun (Son), we will find life and growth.

Restore us, O Lord God Almighty

Make your face shine upon us,

That we may be saved.  Amen

Psalm 80:19

Bible Freedom and Baptists-September 25, 2013

Bible Freedom                                                                                                                                        September 25, 2013

Bible Freedom

Baptists are a people of the Book!

From Authority to Battleground

The Most debated book around!

Baptist’s don’t ‘own’ the Bible-We aren’t the only Bible freedom folks

What is Bible freedom?

Bible Freedom

“Bible Freedom is the Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and the church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scriptures.”

~Walter Shurden

Bible Freedom Means Freedom “Under” Jesus Christ

  • We do not worship the Bible-We worship Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
  • Jesus is the norm by which we interpret Scripture.

-“The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”  (Baptist Faith and Message, 1962)

  1. We read the Scripture and interpret in light of Christ and his salvation.
  2. We need freedom to read the Bible and interpret the Scriptures so we can grow in our relationship with Christ.
  3. We build our foundation of faith on Christ.

Bible Freedom Means Freedom “For” the purpose of following God’s Word!

  • Allow the Bible to Lead!

-How else does God speak to humanity?

-Imagine if we didn’t have the Bible!

  • The Bible is the Final Authority.

-Yet human understanding of the Bible is never complete!

-We struggle as we seek to understand the Bible.

Bible Freedom Means Freedom “From” all Other Religious Authorities

  • Baptists are non-creedal people.
  • Baptists did develop confessions-although some did not like that either.

-Confessions-temporary, set for a specific purpose, can be changed and modified, not mean to exclude, and you don’t have to sign.

-Creeds-never changed, you must sign or pledge to them.

 Bible Freedom Means Freedom “Of” Interpretation by Each Individual

  • The Bible Itself shows Individuality

-The Gospels

-The Writers

  • The first president of the SBC, 1846, W.B. Johnson gave 5 convictions of Baptists.

-The sovereignty of God in salvation

-Supreme Authority of Scripture

-Right of each person to judge his views as truth taught by Scripture

-Democratic church government

-Believer’s Baptism

  • This takes hard work!  Scholarship!

Final Thoughts:  The Bible and Baptists

  • Central to who we are as a people.
  • It is our authority.
  • We each have the right (and responsibility) to go to the Bible and read and interpret it.

Final Thoughts:  Two Warnings!

  • Thinking we have all the answers.
  • Forcing other to interpret it the way we do.

“We are free to read the bible under Jesus Christ for obedience to God free from outside forces of our own interpretation.”

September 22, 2013-Chasing the Light

September 22, 2013-Chasing the Light

Scripture:  I Timothy 6:6-19

What are things that you and I hold dear?  Do we actually have to hold those things to consider them dear?  When we think about our lives what would it take for us to be content?  Would just having our needs met keep us content?  Does contentment imply inactivity or a passive approach to life?  Can we be content in or with a desire or a direction?  What motivates you?  What is your passion?  What have you held on to for so long?  Does it involve the godliness of Christ?  Why should we seek or desire that?  What use is it in the world today?  Even if we did desire it, could we even obtain it?  Would you be willing to pursue what you cannot obtain?  Better yet, are you willing to pursue what you can get even if in the end you won’t be able to keep it?  Does contentment also mean complacency?  Can you chase and catch light?  We may never completely be able to catch the light but the better questions may be, will we block the light to bear the light?

There are so many things in this world that we will try to obtain control and acquire, and not all of these things are necessarily bad.  The greater problem is not the value (goodness or badness) of any one of these things but rather in our desires for those things replacing a desire for Christ in our lives.  You may think that replacing Christ is too strong for you but do they dim the light of Christ in your life?  Paul tells Timothy that, “godliness with contentment is great gain.”  There will be those that purse godliness, but are not content, they want to serve two masters.  Many times we want Christ and…instead of Christ the one and only.  What if you loved your spouse and another, or your spouse and football, friends, shopping, etc.?  Would they feel betrayed?  Would they feel that at the least your loyalties were divided?  If that is the case then what motives the decisions you make when you have to make a choice?  Is it all about what would be of greatest benefit to you at that time?  If so, is that really love?  Love, like light is an intangible but very real thing.  Growing in love or in faith requires devotion.  When there is a chance to take an easier path, many will choose to do so.

In the process of learning to be content while pursuing Christ, is really the process of accepting what is and not what we hope it to be.  In one way we must be more like children ready to dream the impossible dream and pursue Christ like we would chase light.    In another way we must be mature enough to understand that the things we see and have here are only temporary, and we came into this world with nothing and will also leave with nothing.  The idea that we ever really own or posses anything is just a temporary state.  The only things that are lasting are the things eternal.  The difficulty is in this world is the things we believe we need in most cases are our wants.  The greatest of ironies is that we believe ourselves to be consumers, and this is true that we ourselves have become consumed by our own desires.

Loving anything more than God will change our lives and alter our perspective.  Money and things is one of the most dangerous of these.  In the pursuit of money many people have been willing to do anything to gain money or things.  Having this as your first love we chase means we will neglect spouses, children, others, and it is consumes a life.  A singular pursuit that does not give life, is one that will cause grief and collateral damage.  Having money and owning things is not bad, but letting them own you is another thing entirely.

But you man of God, woman of God, flee from those things pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.  We have to pursue the things of God, to seek after them.  It is hard to pursue two very different things.  Scripture says that we cannot love both God and money because we will love one and hate the love.  If you notice that the things mentioned here are all things that improve relationships, both with God and with others.  It will be a struggle at first because the things of this world have a strong pull. We will want to continue to go our own way and pursue our own interests.  Laying hold of our confession is more that just confessing it is obedience and pursuing His will above our own.

It is Christ alone who is worthy and paid the price for our sins.  Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light.  Unapproachable light, the light of God Jesus Christ.  It reminds me of when Moses went up on the mountain and when he came down his face was so bright with radiance of God that they asked him veil his face.  Cover up the light of God.  The light is a great analogy for Christ because even when we can’t see Him, He can light the way of our journey, and provide the warmth of His presence.

Put your hope in God not things of this world.  Do good deeds, if we need to be rich it should be in good deeds and the willingness to share with others.  It is in doing so we are laying up treasures in heaven, and in letting go of the things of this world we can truly begin to live and take hold of the life that is truly life.  Holding on to things that are not life will only bring us down.  Pursue life.  Be contended to chase, spin, and bask in the glory of the light of Christ.  Do not be ones who will be a hindrance, veil, or block the light of Christ but rather bear the light of Christ to the world.