Sunday, May 25, 2008

Prince Caspian Introduction

Garland

United Methodist

Church

May 25, 2008

C. S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis, born in 1898, spent his early years as an atheist scholar. It was not until his early 30’s that Lewis converted, first, to Paganism and, shortly thereafter, to orthodox Christianity. He was a member of the Anglican church, but his writings are appreciated by Christians from a variety of backgrounds.

His writings include two books describing his testimony: the allegorical The Pilgrim’s Regress and the more traditional autobiography Surprised By Joy. Among his most appreciated writings is The Screwtape Letters which purports to be a set of letters from a senior devil to a less experience devil on how to bring a Christian back into the fold “of our Father below”. Other works of note include Mere Christianity (an introduction to the Christian faith), The Problem of Pain, and Miracles.

But given that Lewis’ appointment at Oxford was in medieval and renaissance literature, it should not surprise us that he also explored the use of myth to explore his faith. For the adult, there is a three book science fiction series: Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1943), and That Hideous Strength (1945). For the child in all of us, Lewis wrote the seven books which he entitled The Chronicles of Narnia.

Though the stories are not particularly “Christian”, they were written by a man who had a deep faith in God and the grace He demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the first book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan, the Christ figure in the series, is sacrificed and resurrected in time to defeat the witch troubling Narnia.12

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian was the second book published in the series, but is the fourth book if read Chronologically. As you view the movie this afternoon, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. One reviewer has suggested that the world of Narnia is full of skepticism, much like our world? Why do you think this is so? Can you see other similarities between Narnia and 21st century America? 

  2. How do people come to believe and accept the presence of Aslan in Narnia? Why do some take so long to believe?

  3. Why does Aslan refuse to step in as he did in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe?

  4. Can you give a one word description of each of the major characters? Who is the hero in this movie? What evidence do you have for this?

Remember, this was a children’s story – even as you think about these questions. Enjoy the show.

1Douglas, J., Douglas, J., & Clouse, R., G. (1997, c1991). Vol. 4: Biographical entries from New 20th-century encyclopedia of religious knowledge. Rev. ed. of: Twentieth century encyclopedia of religious knowledge 1955.; Biographical entries from New 20th-century encyclopedia of religious knowledge. (electronic ed.). Baker reference library; Logos Library System. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beginning of the Journey
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Beginning of the Journey

Intro.: Let's see, I want to be on the road by 9:00 AM. So I tell Sandra that if we don't leave by 8:00 AM, it will be driving late in to the evening.

  1. There is so much that goes into planning a trip.

  2. The packing. The stops. The snacks. The music or stories.

  3. It does take a lot of planning.

  4. Some call the Christian life journey – and like any journey, it takes a lot of planning.

  5. But we are lucky, the Christian's journey does not require that we plan it – that is God's job.

  6. Today, we will look at the first milestone along our life as a Christian.

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-6

Pray

T.S. 1 Peter 1:3-6 makes it clear that there are two participants in this thing call the Christian life.

  1. God gives the New Birth

(Ill.) I have been lucky to be present for five births. The first was my own – it was November 24, 1950, in a hospital in Southern California. The next three were in hospitals scattered both in time (1978 to 1983) and in place (Illinois, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma) – those were of course the birth of my three kids.

But the last birth was far more significant – it took place in 1966 or 1967. I was a Junior in Sacramento High School. One night I was in my room listening to the local Christian radio station and reading my Bible and I realized I had to make a decision. That night God began something in me that continues to this day – it was the night that I was Born Again.

    1. When most of us think of the new birth we usually turn to John 3 where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. It is the same conversation that includes the most famous verse of all – John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But much earlier in the evening, he told Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

    2. And now Peter reminds us now - “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” In some ways it may seem surprising to find the new birth in 1 Peter, but then they all come from the same God.

    3. Peter rests God's gift of a new birth in God's mercy. What he is really doing is reminding us that God's goodness is being displayed toward us as he blesses us with the new life that allows us to serve him. Our translation focuses on the “mercy” of God. But if you were to look at the Contemporary English Version – the translation preferred by Max Lucado – it changes our focus to God's goodness. Listen to how it tells us of the new birth: “God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on.”

(Ill.) A man in Dundee, Scotland, was confined to bed for forty years, having broken his neck in a fall at age fifteen. But his spirit remained unbroken, and his cheer and courage so inspired people that he enjoyed a constant stream of guests. One day a visitor asked him, “Doesn’t Satan ever tempt you to doubt God?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the man. “He does try to tempt me. I lie here and see my old schoolmates driving along in their carriages and Satan whispers, ‘If God is so good, why does He keep you here all these years? Why did he permit your neck to be broken?’ ”

“What do you do when Satan whispers those things?” asked the guest.

“Ah,” replied the invalid, “I take him to Calvary, show him Christ, and point to those deep wounds, and say, ‘You see, he does love me.’ And Satan has no answer to that. He flees every time.”1

    1. God's goodness was demonstrated o

    2. n the cross, but it is also demonstrated in our lives today.

    3. God is good -- All the time. All the time -- God is good.

  1. You have faith in God

    1. God is certainly at work in salvation.

    2. But there is something else at work – and it partially what defines us as Methodists.

    3. There is a danger in saying that it is all God – because it means that we have no responsibility. And that is what made Wesley stand out in his day. He made it clear in his preaching that believers have a part is this thing called salvation – that part is called faith. Paul tells us that “...without faith it is impossible to please God.”

    4. But what do we get for this faith? Why bother? Peter suggests four consequences of being faithful.

    5. The first is protection both for the goal and for ourselves.

    • Heaven is there – it can never, to use Peter's words, perish, spoil, or fade.

    • But it is not just heaven, but faith also protects the believer “who, through faith, are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

    • Life gets tough – God is there watching over you. You don't know all the answers, I don;t know all the answers, but God does.

    1. That same verse mentions the second benefit – salvation. I don't want to spend a lot of time here, but I do want to make it clear that faith does lead to salvation.

      Protection, salvation, and, then, rejoicing.

(Appl.) Too often we get so caught up in life that we forget about joy. Galatians calls it one of the “fruit of the Spirit” - a natural outgrowth of living the Christian life.

(Ill.) George Whitefield was a contemporary of John Wesley. Oh, they represented different parts of the church, but they also respected each other. And George Whitefield understood joy. The year was 1733 and he had just come to Christ. He was heard to exclaim that day, “Joy—joy unspeakable—joy that’s full of, big with glory!”2 Joy that touches the heart.

    1. Protection, Salvation, Rejoicing – that all sounds pretty good.

    2. But there is another consequence of being faithful to our faith. Look at the end of verse 6 – there is the last consequence – it is testing.

(Ill.) As an educator, I gave a lot of tests. Students never seemed to look forward to them. I want to tell you a secret – neither do the teachers. I mean, it means we need to grade papers, it means that we need to judge students. And that was never fun. Can we be surprised when the testing that comes our way as believers is also not fun?

(Appl.) As Christians we enjoy God's protection, we enjoy the salvation that is ours, we enjoy the joy that comes our way as believers. And we want it to stop there. But scripture never promised an easy life for the believer. In fact, there will be testing, there will be trials, there will be persecution. Easy – nope. But you God will give us a path through whatever comes our way.

Pray

1Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (170). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.

Seeing God
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Seeing God

Intro.: Do you realize that we only see only one side of the moon.

  1. One side of the moon is always facing toward the earth, the other side is always facing away.

  2. Wouldn't it be fun to be able to travel up into space and see the other side of the moon?

  3. Between 1968 and 1972 twenty-four people have seen the far side of the moon as part of the Apollo program – twelve of these actually walked on the moon.

  4. But I will never be able to see the far side of the moon – at least not directly. I will be pictures made by satellites or by the astronauts that flew over the moon.

  5. I may not be able to see the moon – but on the other hand, God gives us many views of himself.

  6. Though we will spend today looking at the first verse of the body of Peter's letter, I want to read the entire first paragraph.

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-9

Pray

Trans: Though we will only be looking at two members of the Trinity in today's passage, it is important that we understand what we mean by this classic Christian doctrine.

  1. There is only one God.

  2. The Father is shown to be God.

  3. The Son is shown to be God

  4. The Holy Spirit is shown to be God

  5. No one else is said to be God

  6. And that sums up the doctrine of the Trinity.

T.S. In 1 Peter 1:3 we get a glimpse at the nature of God

  1. Two views of our Lord

    1. If you read enough different translations of I Peter, you will find that I Peter 1:3 begins in two very different ways. The NIV is typical of many of the translations - “Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ...”. The New Revised Standard Version is a good example of an different way to read this verse. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    2. Did you notice the difference. One says “Praise the God ...” The other says “Bless be the God ...”.

    3. Now, I suppose that we could ignore the difference – but understanding the difference will also help us understand our own response to God. I could, I suppose, give you the Greek word that Peter used to start the body of his letter; but, instead, let me tell you that the Greek word means “to bless”.

    4. Thus, Peter writes “Bless be the God ...”. But wait something seems wrong. How can Peter “bless” God? How can I “bless” God? I mean, God is the blessor. He is the source of all blessing.

    5. I cannot bless God! Not in the traditional sense – yet out of a heart that has been touched by God's grace, I may wish that I could give some of the blessing God has given me back to him. Peter begins the body of his letter by responding from his heart.

(Ill.) Peter was not alone – David had the same thoughts in Psalm 103:1 –you could look at the English Standard Version, where the verse is translated, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”; or you clould might note that the NIV translates the verse, “Praise the Lord, O my soul”

    1. I wish I could bless God, I cannot. What I can do is praise God for what he has done. And so some translations will translate the Greek - “Bless ...”. Others will translate the emotion - “Praise God ...”

    2. So Peter writes, “Bless/praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

    3. But as much as the verb is important, so is the object of the praise “” ...the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    4. I was impressed as I moved through this passage that the same God that Jesus worshiped and the one whom he called father, I also worship as God, I also can call “father” - the same God that Jesus worshiped and the one whom he called father, you also worship as God, you also can call “father”. I am a child of God, you are a child of God.

(Ill.) Many of you have heard of Dr. Theodor Geisel – but you may not know it. You see, his more famous name is the children's book author, Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss once said, “Adults are obsolete adults.”1 Christ takes obsolete children and makes them children of God that never need to go obsolete.

    1. May you, as a child of God, find yourself praising God.

  1. Three views of His Son

    1. The first verse of the body of Peters letter tells a great deal about God. It also gives us three views of Jesus:
      Lord Jesus Christ

    2. Let me suggest that each part of this name can teach us something of who Jesus really is.

    3. In the Greek translation the word Lord is used almost exclusively to translate the word YHWH – God's very personal name. So personal that the Jews were not permitted to say the name out loud. And so personal that Jesus takes it for his own name, he is understood to be appropriating all the characteristics of God for himself. As Peter wrote, there was no doubt that the Jewish Christians who would be reading his letter would already believe this. The one they worshiped – was the one and only YHWH, the one and only Lord of the universe.

    4. Jesus is not only Lord, he is also, well, Jesus. Where the name YHWH was unique for God alone, Jesus was a very common name – a name with roots going back to the very early days of the Jewish nation. In fact it is the Greek spelling of the name Joshua.

    5. Oh the name fits, it means “salvation”. Very common, but, for Jesus, very appropriate. It is the very human name for a very human person.

    6. When we speak of the “Lord Jesus” we are reminded that He is both divine and human. He was both involved in creation and he was tempted just as we are.

(Ill.) Athanasius is one of my favorite early Christians. He wrote in the 4th century about Jesus. “Our Lord took a body like ours and lived as a man in order that those who had refused to recognize him in his superintendence and captaincy of the whole universe might come to recognize from the works he did here below in the body, that what dwelt in this body was the Word of God.”2

    1. But there is a third name, Christ, or in the Greek Xristos. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah – the anointed one. Remember the Jews were expecting the Messiah – the one who would bring salvation to God's people.

    2. Not only was Jesus divine, not only was Jesus human, but Jesus was also the one chosen since the beginning of the world to be God's representative to this broken world. He was annointed, was the Messiah, he was the Christ.

(Ill.) The historian Josephus was a contemporary of Jesus – but, as far as we know, he was never a believer. Yet he wrote shortly after the death of Jesus, “About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was the achiever of extraordinary deeds and was a teacher of those who accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When he was indicted by the principal men among us and Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him originally did not cease to do so; for he appeared to them on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.” 3

    1. We worship the Lord of the universe, we worship the Son of God, the man Jesus, and we worship the one chosen to bring our salvation, the messiah, the Christ. We worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray

1Dr. Seuss in Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (527). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

3Flavius Josephus, Jewish historian, ad 37–95 in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (1054). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Living Away From Home
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Living Away From Home

Intro.: Sandra has a new job at work.

  1. She has become the unofficial Library Photographer

  2. It really began with a fluke. The library's camera was not working – and thought that Sandra and her supervisor were silly when they could not get it to work.

  3. So Sandra brought home the camera and asked me to see what I could figure out. I did it – it took a little cardboard wedge to adjust the battery inside the charger. Once the battery was charged, then all was well.

  4. So, now Sandra is the camera expert – and she still does not know how to take the pictures from her camera to her computer. She will learn.

  5. I want to look at a passage today that will give us two snapshots of Christian living in their world.

Read: I Peter 1:1-2

Pray

Trans: Peter is no stranger to living away from home.

  1. The year is AD 64. Peter has been in Rome for 14 years.

  2. In AD 64, Nero burned the city of Rome – blaming it on that new religion Christianity.

  3. In a few short months Peter will be put to death, but while he still has time, he wants to encourage the Jewish believers that have had to flee their homes.

T.S. I Peter 1:1-2 gives us two snapshots of believers. Both give us a glimpse of what it means to be a Christian.

  1. Snapshot #1 is Peter.

    1. I don't want to spend a great deal of time here, since we spent most of last week reviewing Peter's life.

    2. But Peter is a believer and he does have something to teach us.

    3. Peter played two roles as he interacted with Jesus. The one mentioned here, apostle, actually came second. The first role was that of a disciple.

    4. It is important to understand the differences between these two roles.

    5. The first role that Peter played, the first role that we each must play, is that of a disciple. The disciple is the student.

(Ill.) We have all seen the pictures of Jesus standing. Around Him sit his disciples – listening to Him, trying to remember His every word. And sitting there, maybe just to the left, is the man they call Simon Peter. He sits, listens, learns. He is the disciple, the student.

(Appl.) And it is as a disciple that we each have begin our walk with Jesus. We each have to spend time at Jesus' feet, listening, learning from Him. We all are disciples – we all need to spend time at Jesus' feet.

    1. It is only after Peter has spent time as a disciple that he is ready to be called an apostle.

      A disciple sits at the teacher's feet. An apostle is sent. In fact that is what the word means – “the sent one” or “the commissioned one.”.

(Ill.) The book of Hebrews calls Jesus “our apostle and high priest”. He was sent from heaven to serve God – He called himself, “... the way, the truth, and the life.” He was sent to win our salvation – something we could never do.

(Appl.) I would never presume to place the label of apostle on myself or on you. But that does not mean we do not the apostles to task to do – this is what the Great Commission is all about: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”.

(Appl.) Here is the application – once you have sat at the sat the foot of the master, you have responsibility to take that message to your world. What has God taught you? Take it to the world! What have you learned about God's grace? Take it to the world! What has he taught you about loving others? Take it to the world! If you are a disciple, you are sent – now is the time to take it the world.

  1. Snapshot #2 are the believers to whom Peter writes.

    1. Peter is one snapshot, but the recipients of his letter present another.

    2. To understand who they are we need to move back to Acts chapter 7 and 8. Steven has been arrested – and as chapter 7 ends he is being stoned to death. Standing in the audience is another apostle – Paul, only his name is still Saul and he does not yet know Jesus. And at that time the church begins to be persecuted. The Jewish Christians flee Jerusalem and save their lives, but they also take the gospel to the outlying areas of Judea and Samaria.

    3. Those Jewish Christians come to be known as the “diaspora”. You see that word “strangers” in verse 2 – it is the word diaspora. The diaspora are mentioned three times in scripture. The begin their journey by traveling to Judea and Samaria. In Acts 11 they move to the coast and Cyprus in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Now in I Peter, we find these Jewish Christians further north – the the cities and provinces of Asia Minor – what we now call Turkey.

    4. These are people who have lost (in one sense) everything. They have left their families for what they believe. They are living in communities that are not their own. Maybe not so different from us. I grew up 3500 from here – that may be more than most of you, but having spent six years here, I know that Sandra and I are not the only ones that have migrated to Rochester.

(Appl.) But even if you haven't moved to Rochester, you are still a stranger here. You are a member of the diaspora. You are not at home – as believers our home is in heaven.

    1. But we are not only strangers, we are also God's elect.

    2. This is one of the most amazing verses in scripture – it is one of the very few place where we find all three members of the Trinity mentioned together – and they are mentioned together with us, God's people.

chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood

      God is preparing us.

(Ill.) There are two kinds of jewelry. A good example is the Hope Diamond. Sandra and I were able to see it the last time we were in Washington DC. This piece of jewelry is not being used by anyone. They just want to show it off. They put their gems behind glass and lasers. They surround them with guards. The other kind of jewelry is represented by my wifes jewelry collection. Nothing fancy, but it is designed to be worn. Oh, they get tangled sometimes, but with a little gentle work, they are able to be used on any given day.

(Appl.) God does not want his children to be like that first piece of jewelry. He does not want His children sitting on the shelf – unused, unseen. Rather, he wants us to be like those other pieces – ready to be used. Just like my wife's jewelry, our lives may become tangled messes, but God wants it to be used. God is ready to use my life. God is ready to use your life.

Conclusion: Let me conclude by looking at the benedictions that concludes today's passage.

  1. Literally it reads, “Grace and peace to you be multiplied”. The benediction, the prayer, comes before any command is made in the letter.

  2. Perhaps you have heard of the young man who was asked to do 5 days work. His employer offered him two option for payment. He could get $500 at the end of the week or the employer would start putting money away for a month. On day 1 he would get a penny, day 2 - 2 cents, Day 3, he would get 4 cents, Day 4 – 8 cents.

  3. The young man was anxious to get his money – so he took the $500. But it was the wrong choice. If he had waited till the end of the month, he would have made $10,000,000.

  4. God wants his grace and peace to be multiplied in your life.

Pray

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Peter: Failure and Survivor
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Peter: Failure and Survivor1

Read: John 21:15-19

Intro.: This is the last recorded meeting between Peter and Jesus in the four gospel accounts of Jesus' life.

  1. But it took a great deal of interaction between Peter and Jesus to get here.

  2. In the next few week we will be walking through the books of I and II Peter.

  3. But before we do, I want to explore a bit of Peter's life

T.S. During the next few minutes I want to look at six events in the life of Peter that will help us to understand his relationship to Jesus Christ.

  1. Peter: Called

(Ill.) As I went through my counseling training, I was surprised to learn that the average person goes through five career changes in their lives. Peter was about to go through just such a change.

    1. Peter was, first of all a fisherman. Not a casual weekend or vacation fisherman. But a genuine, career minded, fisherman.

    2. And he had no idea that his life was going to take a major change in direction. In fact, I think if we were to ask him if he would consider leaving fishing, Peter's answer would have been, “No way.”

    3. Yet, in John 1:10, Andrew asks Peter to meet Jesus. Then in Matthew 4 we are witnesses to Jesus' personal call to Peter - “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

    4. Jesus deals with us as we are able to cope with him. When Peter first met Jesus in John 1, he was not ready to drop everything and follow Him. But in Matthew 4 we see that Peter is ready to put it all aside, everything that he knew.

(Appl.) I never claim to know what God is asking of you. When you hear God speak, it may not be expected (it wasn't for Peter), but you are ready to do what He is asking.

  1. Peter: Scared

    1. But just being obedient and following Jesus does not mean that all our problems are gone.

    2. In fact I expect that we would have all reacted like Peter when he sees Jesus walking on the water - But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

      Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

(Ill.) God has used fear to get people's attention. Martin Luther chose to enter the ranks of the clergy after being struck by lightning. Jens Haven was one of the first missionaries to Labrador in Northeastern Canada - the electricity of a lightning string knocked him senseless to the ground. As soon as he recovered, he got upon his knees and cried to God for mercy and for conversion; and, from that day, was a new man, soon after devoting his life to mission work among the Moravians.2

    1. I expect that Peter's experience on the Sea of Galilee that evening had a last effect as well.

(Appl.) Our emotions impact our Christian life – they can, like in the case of Peter, Luther, and Haven, draw us closer to God. We can also allow them to drive us away from God. How do your emotions impact your relation to God.

  1. Peter: Insightful

    1. Peter may have been emotional, but he was also insightful.

    2. It was Peter who first recognized Jesus as the Son of God. You remember – Jesus is standing around with His disciples and he first asks who people say He is. Then He asks the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” And it is Peter who replies, “You are the Christ” (the Messiah) “the Son of the Living God.”

    3. Peter always was quick – sometimes too quick – but this time he got it right.

(Ill.) Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.”3 It was true in Peter's case.

(Appl.) We don't worship the name, we don't worship the stories, we don't worship the feelings. We worship the person of Jesus Christ – the Son of the Living God.

    1. Peter may have been the first to understand it – but it is just as true for us.

  1. Peter: Priviledged

    1. After Peter's insight, Jesus continued to keep a watchful eye over Peter.

    2. We find Jesus on a mountain top with Peter, James, and John. They were not expecting anything, but God had a surprise for them.

    3. Read Luke 9:28-36

      WOW Jesus' clothes looked like lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah appeared, and God spoke. I would have been an amazing sight. And perhaps, like the apostles, we would like to build a memorial for the event.

(Ill.) You know those V8 commercials where the character gets bonked on the head – that is sort of what happens to the dicsiples.

    1. This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” - BONK

(Appl.) Every so often God catches us by surprise – he gives us something, he makes us aware of something, he shows us soemthing, that helps us to better understand Him.

  1. Peter: Unfaithful

    1. Peter is doing well – I wish we could leave him there – but there is more to the story.

    2. Jesus is on the cross – and Peter really blows it.

    3. Three times Peter denies knowing Jesus. He had been called by Jesus to follow Him. He knew that he was the Son of the Living God. He was there at the transfiguration. He did know Him.

    4. But Peter denied it. Not once, not twice, but three times.

    5. And how does God respond? You know what would happen if you betrayed your boss? It wouldn't be pleasant.

    6. And Peter knows it – when that cock crows, he knows it.

  2. Peter: Used

    1. But what Peter knows – is not what God knows. Here is a man who has failed miserably. Any of the remaining 10 apostles could have replaced him.

    2. But God was not so quick to give up on Peter. The final scene we have of Peter in the four gospels is Jesus on the shore with Peter.

    3. At the first glance, the conversation appears strange.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, Follow me!”

    1. Do you remember the first command given to Peter, “Follow me.” Nothing has changed. Regardless of how long we have walked with Jesus, our call is the same. To follow Jesus.

    2. Are you willing to do it today? Are you willing to follow Jesus?

Pray

1Though the sermon is my own, the outline was suggested by a message originally delivered by D L Moody. It is found in an essay published in Moody, D. L., Talmage, T. De W., Parger, Joseph, J. (2007). Bible Characters. WORDsearch, Corp.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

3Oliver Wendell Holmes quoted in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (532). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Watch the Video

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Intro.:

What a friend we have in Jesus,

all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer.

  1. This is a song we enjoy singing

  2. It brings a smile to our lips as we sing it.

  3. But it was not written by a man was particularly happy

  4. Rather, it was written by a man never quite found his way.

Trans: Our story begins in 1819 with the birth of Joseph Scriven in Dublin, Ireland, to wealthy parents.

  1. His faith was influenced by the Plymouth Brethren community and it built a wall between him and his parents.

  2. Twenty years later he was engaged to be married. But the wedding would never take place – the night before his fiancĂ©e accidentally drowned.

  3. Joseph never quite recovered from that loss. With the loss of his love and the estrangement he felt with his family, Joseph chose to move to Canada – in fact he moved to a small town due north of Medina, NY, Port Hope, Ontario.

  4. In Port Hope, Joseph Scriven was known for living an eccentric life. He devoted all his extra time in being a friend and helper to others. He often gave away his clothing and possessions to those in need. He would work without pay for anyone in need. He was known as the “Good Samaritan of Port Hope”.

  5. In 1887, Scriven heard that his mother was ill. He wrote the poem for her, never intending it to be published.

  6. Five years later Scriven himself was sick. A friend called on him and found a copy sitting on the table near his bed. When Scriven was asked who wrote it, he replied, “The Lord and I did it together.”

  7. The details of how the song made its way to a Sunday School Song book in Richmond, VA, is not known. But it was in Richmond that Ira D. Sankey and Phili P Bliss (author of It Is Well With My Soul) wanted to add it to a hymnal they were editing. But something was wrong – the music they had didn't catch the heart like the hymns they really loved.

  8. But at about the same time a composer by the name of Charles C. Converse submitted a hymn that they had decided to add to their hymnal – but the Scriven's words were a better match and Sankey and Bliss decided to add Scriven's words to Converse's music. Years later Sankey said that “the last hymn that went into the book became one of the first in favor.”

  9. Thus, the hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” has local roots. Joseph Scriven is buried in a cemetary four miles North of Port Hope. Near Lake Ontario beside the highway running north from Port North stand a monument with the words from this hymn. In addition, an epitaph to Scriven is included. “Four Miles North in Pengelly's Cemetary lies the Philanthropist and Author of the great masterpiece written at Port Hope, 1857.”

  10. The local connection is even stronger. Charles C. Converse, the composer of the music that we sing, is said to be buried in Canandaigua, NY.1

Read: John 15:13-16

Pray

T.S. Christ calls us friends and then begins to tell us what that means. John 15:13-16 gives us five pictures of friendship.

  1. Friendship is demonstrated by CHRIST

    1. Christ defines the love of a friend as one who is willing to lay down his life. And that is what Christ does – within the next 24 hours, he will be laying down his life. His disciples do not know it, they do not understand it – but Jesus knows it.

(Ill.) Jon Courson tells the story of John Knox. Knox was an active leader in the Protestant Reformation and is considered the founder of the Presbyterian Church. You may have heard that an entire nation was revived when John Knox prayed, “Lord, give me Scotland, or I die.” But what many people don’t know is what Knox wrote concerning the answer to that prayer. The Lord responded in his heart, saying, “First die, then I’ll give you Scotland.”

“Make this relationship work, or I’m going to die,” we pray.

“Die first,” the Lord says.

Lay down your life for your wife, your neighbor, your friend. That is not only the proof of your love, but the pathway to love, because love is not some feeling you hope returns, not some kind of elusive mystical emotion. It’s the decision to die to your dreams, your desires, your needs, and your wants and instead lay down your life for your friend, your husband, your neighbor, or your kids.2

  1. The obvious corollary is this: Friendship is demonstrated by SACRIFICE.

    1. You know, Jesus did gave His life for me. You know why? Because I am His friend.

    2. You know what – Jesus gave His life for you. You know why? Because you are His friend.

    3. You realize how amazing that is – The One who was present at the creation of the world, gave His life for you. The One who holds the world together, gave His life for you. The One who loves you more than you love yourself, gave His life for you.

    4. Jesus made the sacrifice so that we could live.

  2. Friendship is demonstrated by OBEDIENCE

    1. Christ demonstrated His love for us by the sacrifice He made.

    2. But how do we demonstrate our love for Him? By obedience

(Ill.) A doctor gives us orders – and we follow them. Now sometimes that is hard. You see, when our friends want us to break those rules – eat more than we should, get dessert, forget to exercise. We know how important those rules are to our physical health. But God give us instructions for our spiritual health. The instructions that God gives are like a doctors orders. We can choose to ignore them, but when we do, we know that our lives will be in line with what God wants for us.3

    1. As God's friends we will want to be obedient to Him.

  1. Our friendship to Christ is demonstrated by our fruit.

    1. Take a look at Jesus' words in v. 16: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain

    2. Whenever I see see the word “fruit” I am reminded of Galations 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(Ill.) But this fruit is different than the stuff we buy in the store. The stuff we buy in the store will eventually go bad. I will turn brown, or grow mold, or dry out. It looses it potency.

    1. But the fruit of the spirit is designed to always be there. The only way it looses its potency, the only way it no longer is part of our lives is when live away from the source. Live close to Jesus, you will bear the fruit.

  1. Our friendship to Christ is demonstrated by our prayer

    1. As I began to look at today's message I struggled between focusing on our friendship with Christ and prayer. Six times in this hymn we are reminded of the power of prayer.

    2. But you know what, friendship with Christ means we pray.

    3. Look again at verse 16: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

    4. Friendship with Christ means we can pray, friendship with Christ means we do pray. Friendship with Christ means we can expect to see our prayers answered.

Are we weak and heavy laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge;

Take it to the Lord in prayer:

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee;

Thou wilt find a solace there.

Pray

1Osbeck, K. W. (1982). 101 hymn stories. Includes music and index. (275). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications.

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/c/o/n/converse_cc.htm

http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2004/004/11.16.html

Smith, J. S. and Carlson, B. (1997). Great Christian Hymn Writers. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

2Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary (566). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

Monday, April 07, 2008

How Great Thou Art
Watch the Video

How Great Thou Art

Read: Luke 19:29-40

Intro.: It was no ordinary Sunday – the disciples knew that.

  1. It was the day after the Jewish sabbath and now they had been sent to find a young donkey for Jesus to ride

  2. In fact Jesus had told them what to say if they were questioned; tell them, “The Lord has need of it.”

  3. And when they had brought the colt to Jesus, they took their cloaks and put it on its back and set Jesus on it.

  4. And as they made their way down the Mount of Olives, the multitude of the disciples that were followers laid down their cloaks in from of the colt. Others laid down branches from the trees.

  5. There were some who went ahead of Jesus and his friends – and there was a group that followed behind.

  6. But where ever you walked that day you heard them: John 12: Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel! Matt 21: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Luke 19: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

  7. It was no ordinary day. I suspect that if the hymn How Great Thou Art had been around, we would have heard it being sung that day as well.

Pray

Trans: For Swedish pastor Carl Boberg it was an ordinary day.

  1. It was the spring of 1886. He was visiting a friend in the country and had gone out for a walk.

  2. But he, unexpectedly, found himself caught in a thunderstorm.

  3. And it was not a quiet storm – he described it later as being “awesome and violent” - but it ended quickly.

  4. And its path were clear, brilliant sunshine. As he continued his walk, he heard the calm sweet singing of birds in the trees.

  5. He could not go on – he fell to his knees to praise. He had been awed by God's extraordinary work that day. The adoration he felt led him to write a nine stanza poem.

  6. The Swedish church set his poem to the tune of an old folk tune.

  7. Quickly it was translated in German and Russian. It was not until 1925 that it was first translated into English by Rev. E. Gustav Johnson – a member of the Covenant Church a church with a decidedly Scandinavian heritage:

    O mighty God, when I behold the wonder Of nature’s beauty, wrought by words of thine, And how thou leadest all from realms up yonder, Sustaining earthly life with love benign, With rapture filled, my soul thy name would laud, O mighty God! O mighty God! (repeat)1

  8. Though this is still the version that is included in the Covenant Church's hymnal, it is not the version that we know and love.

  9. The translation that we are familiar with was written in 1933 by Rev. S. K. Hine. He was a missionary to Russia and heard the Russian translation. S. K. Hine then wrote the original English words that were eventually made famous by George Beverly Shea in Billy Graham's famous London Crusade:2

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art. (repeat)3

T.S. Praise is a universal response to God's grace and power. Whether it be from a pastor in a field in 1886 or from us living in 2008.

  1. David expressed praise – Psalms 145:3 (HCSB) Yahweh is great and is highly praised; His greatness is unsearchable.

    1. Unless we use the name of Jesus, we don't normally give God a name.

    2. But in the OT, God had a name – the most common name is YHWH. Tradition tells us that it was never pronounced out loud and if seen scripture it was replaced by the title – Adonai. YHWH is considered God's personal name.

    3. The roots of the word come from “To be” - God tells Moses the he is to be called “I am who I am” - which has the same roots as the name YHWH.

    4. So David is ready to praise the Great I AM – His greatness is “unsearchable”

(Ill.) John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Using his words, “God is great, and therefore He will be sought: He is good, and therefore He will be found.”4

(Ill.) Sometimes it takes courage to acknowledge God's greatness. In 1717 when France’s Louis XIV died, his body lay in a golden coffin. He had called himself the “Sun King,” and his court was the most magnificent in Europe. To dramatize his greatness, he had given orders that during his funeral the cathedral would be only dimly lighted with only a special candle set above the coffin. As thousands waited in hushed silence, Bishop Massilon began to speak. Then slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle, saying, “Only God is great!”5

(Appl.) My prayer for you today is that you can recognize that only God is great. I am not great (no surprise there), but neither are you. Only God is great. May we agree with David, Yahweh is great and is highly praised; His greatness is unsearchable.”

  1. Paul expressed praise - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (HCSB) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.

    1. Rev. Boberg reminded us of God's greatness in the present.

    2. David reminded of God's greatness in the past.

    3. Paul aims our view to the future.

    4. Somehow that seems strange – after all, I wouldn't think of coming up to you and saying, “Thank you for mowing my lawn” - at least not until you had done it.

    5. But Paul knows that God is control of the future.

(Ill.) Most of you know the difficulty Sandra has had at work these past three months. During most of that time I have had two pieces of advice.

“What are you supposed to do?” “My best.”

“Who are you supposed to trust?” “God.”

We were reminded of that this last week in Georgia. We began each day at 7:15 with gathering together for Communion before breakfast. On the first day we were led to the Lord's table by Dr. Winston O. R. Worrell. Wesley was guided in the early days of his faith by the Moravians – and we chose to use the Moravian Daily Texts to be the focus of our communion each morning. On Tuesday morning, the first morning of our conference, we were reminded by the texts to “trust God, trust God, trust God, trust God.” Sandra and I both heard my voice echo through Rev. Worrell's that morning. But catch this, the very nature of trusting God, is to believe that he will be there in the future just as much as has been in the past and is in the present. I, like Sandra, and like you, must remember to “trust God, trust God, trust God, trust God.”

Conclusion: We, with generations before us, can sing -

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

When Christ shall come,
with shout of acclamation,
And take me home,
what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim:
"My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Pray

1http://www.pietisten.org/summer02/sightings.html

2Osbeck, K. W. (1982). 101 hymn stories. Includes music and index. (99). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications.

3Osbeck, K. W. (1990). Amazing grace : 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions. Includes indexes. (141). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications.

4Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.

5Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (635). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.