Sunday, June 26, 2005

Justifiably Broken

Intro.: I expect that you remember the little children's song

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King's horses

And all the King's men

Couldn't put Humpty together again.
  1. Sometimes life feels like that.

  2. Life has crashed around us

  3. It has not turned out the way we thought it might

  4. And we are immediately reminded that we are broken people.

  5. Turn with me to a passage that begins to explain how God deals with broken people.

Read: Romans 3:21-26


Trans: A new series starts today.

  1. During the last few weeks we have worked our way through the life of Abraham.

  2. Today we take begin to take a new direction.

  3. In a few weeks I will be taking a class just North of Indianapolis. In preparation for that class, I have to read all of the letters of Paul.

  4. That comes to approximately one chapter per day.

  5. This week I have woven my way through the first three chapters of Romans.

  6. Three chapters that remind us that God is in the business of redeeming broken people.

  7. In today's scripture, we read one of the most familiar scriptures found in the NT. But immediately following this, is one of the most important scriptures of the NT.

  1. For all have sinned

    1. When I am asked to explain what I mean by the gospel, I start with a number of Bible verses – John 3:16 and John 10:10 come immediately to mind.

      1. God does love you, he loves you more than any single human being has ever loved you.

        • Think of your parents – God loves you more

        • Think of your first girl friend or boy friend – God loves you more – okay, duh

        • Think of your spouse – God loves you more than your spouse

(Appl.) The sad part is that I don't always experience God's love. Life gets in the way. God loves me no matter what, his love is totally unconditional, his love is based on who he is. But yet I don't always experience it. It comes back to Romans 3:23 – I am a broken person and as a broken person, I will miss some of what God wants me to hear. As a broken person, I may hear about God's love, but I will fail to see it.

    1. Men are very much aware of their falleness.

    2. We spent much of the last two months looking at one of the major OT men – Abraham. Here was a man who sinned. That is amazing, because most of the literature from this time attempts to paint an amazingly pretty picture of their heroes. But in Abraham, we see a man who God chose to work through, but who also stands out for his sin – he lied (not once, but twice), there were times when his faith was weak. In Abraham we see proof that a man of faith will also be a broken person.

(Ill.) Noel Coward was a famous playwright and actor from the early 1900's. It is said that on one occasion, as a practical joke, he wrote to the 20 most prominent leaders in London. It was a small note that mearly said, “All is discovered, escape while you can.” He knew nothing, he had no secret knowledge. He merely sent the note. But the result was dramatic – all 20 of those leaders hurriedly left town upon receipt of the note. You see, Noel Coward knew that these were broken men – and they would have things to hide.

    1. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (NIV)

    2. We did not need Noel Coward to prove it through a practical joke. The Bible says it is true. But we also know it is true in our own lives. There is nobody in this room that would say anthing different.

    3. There are some preachers that would stop there and that would be the end of the matter. But that seems like a sad place to stop. It seems like a dark message if that is all that I have to say this morning.

    4. And, all too often, this is where we stop reading. We stop here – but there is more.

  1. And are justified by His grace

    1. It was one of those things that I have read dozens of times, but I had missed it.

    2. But like so many others, I knew about Romans 3:23 – it was the next piece of my gospel message. I must have stopped reading so I missed the next verse: “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

(Ill.) The Woman's Study Bible says, “Justification is a legal term referring to a right standing before God. That standing can never be earned. “Redemption” refers to the act by which a slave is given freedom. Through faith in Christ, sinners are delivered from slavery to sin.”i

    1. That sounds an awful lot like theology – but theology, rightly understood, will impact our lives. As broken people we do not have right standing before God – There is a distance between

    2. But the day that Christ died on the Cross, God purchased our redemption – we were redeemed, we were justified – and we received the right to stand to stand before God.

(Ill.) There is a scene at the end of one episode of Without a Trace where a child has been missing and for some period of time, the father was thought to be guilty of harming the child in some way. He had the means, the opportunity, and the motive. Except that the father had done nothing. The child had merely wandered off and gotten himself lost. At the conclusion of the show the father turns to the FBI agent responsible for the case and says, “I hope that I never have to see you again.” The father was declared righteous, he was innocent. But he never wanted to see the detective again.

Our relationship to God is different – God, working through the person of Jesus Christ, has made it so we are declared innocent. But in being declared innocent, we are allowed to approach God.

Conclusion: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

  1. I missed that second verse.

  2. Oh, I knew its truth, but I missed it here.

  3. Am I perfect? No, but God has forgiven me.

  4. Am I innocent? No, but God has redeemed me.

  5. Are you perfect? No, but God offers forgiveness.

  6. Are you innocent? No, but God offers you redemption.

  7. And in that we are allowed into God's presence – that is what it means to be justified.


iThomas Nelson, 1997. Woman's study Bible . Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Abraham - The Father

Intro.: We have a pond on our campus. It is relatively new, but it serves as a holding tank for water that runs off of the parking lot outside our building.

  1. As the spring started, there seemed to be groups of ducks that were there in the morning, but then they disappeared over night.

  2. Then, for a week or two, they disappeared – nothing except maybe a stray, lonely sea gull

  3. But late last week there appeared some fluffy little ducks along with the larger ducks – we had baby ducklings.

  4. At first they just sort of hung around their parents

  5. Then they entered the water – scurrying all over

  6. But yesterday, I saw the family – and they seemed to get their act together. They now swim in a line – one after another

  7. Its been fun

  8. I don't know what its like being a duck parent – but I do know that being a parent of three boys is a challenge.

  9. We have been looking at the life of Abraham over the last few weeks.

  10. We don't have a great deal of information about his relationship to his son – But we get a glimpse of it in Genesis 24 and a couple of lessons that we can apply to our spiritual lives as well.

Read: Genesis 24:1-8


  1. In a Godly life, there can be a temptation to turn back just a little.

    1. Abraham's wife had died.

    2. His wife's son was not yet married

(Ill.) iJohn Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson pitying James Madison’s childlessness. Adams noted that “while children often cost parents grief, anxiety, and even vexation, their very presence lightens and lengthens life.”

(Ill.) Agnes Newton Keith would agree. It was horrible to be a mother in the Japanese internment camps—more horrible than even the mothers could say. Yet, in a way, it was heavenly too, she wrote. In the midst of that deprivation there were thirty-four reasons for staying alive—every one a child. Describing how the mothers brought all of thirty-four safely through the tragedy, Agnes added, “I said to begin with that we brought them all through alive. But perhaps they brought us through alive.” Indeed, a child is someone worth living for, and the joys they bring more than compensate for the emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and economic costs of raising them.

    1. And Abraham was willing to be involved Isaacs life. He arranges for his servant to travel to his former home in Haran.

    2. Two concerns – one, he wants his son to marry somebody from home and he wants him to live in Canaan – the land that God had promised to Abraham.

    3. Abraham was a father that wanted the best for his son. The culture of 2000 BC was different that ours. We would never think of sending somebody else out to find our kids spouses – but the process was not unusual.

    4. And like parenting in the 20th century, it has its ups and downs.

(Appl.) God, too, experiences both the pain and sometime pleasure of fatherhood. His love for us is not dependent on our behavior. But like a earthly father, when a child goes astray, he hurts. God weeps over our brokenness. As God's people we will stumble, but He love us, inspite of it. But his heart does not ignore it. Like Abraham, like each father here, God wants the best for his children. And when His children stumble, when his children fall short of His expectations, he hurts.

  1. Faith includes a desire to be obedient

    1. As Abaraham gives the task of finding his son a wife, the servant raises a very valid concern – what if the young lady does not want to move to Canaan. After all, would you move 1000 miles away to marry someone whom you had never met? It was hard enough being married to someone I did know – should Isaac be taken back to Haran to marry her?

    2. Verse 6 has Abraham's answer - “Make sure that you do not take my son back there.”

    3. Abraham believed God's promiss -

(Ill.) iiAugustine once said, “Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.”

    1. This is the kind of faith that Abraham had, faith that allowed Abraham to act as if what God said was true, though he did not yet have the proof that it was true.

    2. God said that all this land will be yours and your descendants, but if his sole descendant leaves for Haran, then God's promise may be frustrated.

    3. Abraham had an obedient heart – he wanted to be obedient.

(Appl.) A man of faith, a woman of faith, will want to be obedient.

Conclusion: As Fathers, perhaps, we need to claim the prayer of Merrill C Tenney as our own. Tenney was on the faculty at Wheaton College – but he was also a preacher at heart.

To you, O son of mine, I cannot give
A vast estate of wide and fertile lands;

But I can keep for you, the whilst I live,
Unstained hands.

I have no blazoned amour plate that insures
Your path to eminence and worldly fame;

But longer than empty heraldry endures
A blameless name.

I have no treasure chest of gold refined,
No hoarded wealth of clinking, glittering pelf;

I give to you my hand, and heart, and mind—
All of myself.

I can exert no mighty influence
To make a place for you in men’s affairs;

But lift to God in secret audience
Unceasing prayers.

I cannot, though I would, be always near
To guard your steps with the parental rod;
I trust your soul to Him who holds you dear,

Your father’s God.iii


iHurley, V. 2000, 1995. Speaker's Sourcebook of New Illustrations (Electronic Ed.). Dallas: Word Publishers.

iiMerriam-Webster, I. 1992. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Quotations. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

iiiMerrill C. Tenney quoted in Tan, P. L. 1996. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations. Garland, TX: Bible Communications.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Here I AM!

Intro.: Pull out a mental sheet of paper.

  1. List the 10 most precious things in your life.

  2. It might be people – at least the first few.

  3. There might be a few really expensive things

  4. Maybe an artifact or two of your childhood that you have clung to

  5. Maybe a special gift or two

  6. Now take your list, look it over and using your virtual pen, write, “I give it all to God – no questions asked.”

  7. Did you hesitate? Did you have to think about it? Did you wonder what I was getting at? Did I have something up my sleeve? I don't -

  8. But I want to spend a few minutes today looking at a moment in the life of Abraham when he was asked to give it all.

Read: Genesis 22:1-11


Trans: I only read half of the story. Let me read the other half.

Read: Genesis 22:11-19

T.S. Two times Abraham responds to God's call by using the same three words: “Here I am”. It was the same words used by Samual when he was called by God. The Psalmist writes:

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— ...
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:7-8

  1. The first word is “Here”

    1. It was going to be a difficult day for Abraham. It started out easy enough, “Abraham!” I don't know how God said it, softly, “Abraham.” Or perhaps it came as a command, “Abraham!” I really do not know.

    2. But it is pretty obvious that there was no hint of what was to come.

    3. It was almost as if God was looking for Abraham - “Abraham, where are you?” If the simple, one-word question asked by God

    4. Isaac was a real, unexpected gift. And now, today, God gave him the strangest it of instructions - "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

(Ill.) Jerusalem is not yet a city. But 1200 years later Solomon is going to build the first the temple on a small hill called Moriah – Abraham is called to offer his son at the same spot that will eventually the site of the Jewish temple.

(Appl.) During a typical day, I can find myself in five or six different places – home, work, restaurant (or two), store or mall, a ball game, or even here at church. And I am left asking the same question that I am going to ask you – can I, any place that God may find me, honestly and willing answer, “Here I am”.

    1. Abraham had no idea what was to come, but he could willingly answer “Here I am.”

  1. The second word is “I”

(Ill.) Not to many years ago there was a contemporary Christian song called “Please don't send me to Africa.” The underlying message was send anybody but me!

    1. I would have understood if that had been Abraham's answer to God. It may have gone something like this:

      God ... Yes ... Unh, I have a question ... Yes ... Don't you think it would be better if you sent somebody else? ... Oh, you want me to send Bennie with your son ... No, I guess what I mean is, wouldn't it be better if you sent Bennie with his son.

(Ill.) Substitutes never are quite good enough. A professor at the Univerisity of Wisconsin put together a rubber monkey. It provided bottled milk for the baby monkeys, it was heated on the inside so it was source of warmth, it never pushed the babies away and allowed them to claim as much attention as they desired. The researcher then went on to state that a similar model could serve as a substitute mother. Maybe – but something might be missing. This stuffed animal cannot love its young charges. They cannot hug, they cannot comfort when there are tears. Substitutes are never quite good enough.i

    1. Though Abraham never asked for a substitute, it really is too easy to ask somebody else to do the job God has for you or to wait for somebody else to do it.

    2. Can we say with Abraham, “Here I am.”

  1. am”

    1. I know where, I know who.

    2. Abraham last word to his reply hints as to when he is willing to be obedient.

    3. There are any number of ways that Abraham could have responded to God's call for obedience.

      1. He could have said, “I did that yesterday.”

      2. He could have said, “I'll be available tomorrow at noon.”

      3. He could have said, “I'll do it later.”

    4. Perhaps Abraham's had the thoughts in this poem in his heart.

      Just For Today

      Lord, for tomorrow and its needs,
      I do not pray;
      Keep me, my God, from stain of sin,
      Just for today!

      Now, set a seal upon my lips,
      For this I pray;
      Keep me from wrong, or idle words,
      Just for today!

      Let me be slow to do my will,
      Prompt to obey;
      And keep me, guide me, use me, Lord,
      Just for today!

    5. Abraham was willing to give it all if that is what God demanded.

    6. It wasn't – but he was willing.

Conclusion: Here, Now, I will obey God.

  1. That is a summary of Abraham's response to God that day

  2. I pray that it will be my response when ever God asks me to do his bidding.

  3. I also pray that it will be your response when God calls on you.

  4. Here I am.


iTan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations. Bible Communications: Garland, TX.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Friend of God

Read: Genesis 18:8-15


Trans:Define “Friendship”.

  1. If I were to ask you to describe a symbol representing friendship, what would it be.

  2. Examples in scripture include David and Jonathan. Paul calls Luke his friend.

  3. But when we think of friendship, Abraham stands out – more than any other example of friendship.

  4. Abraham is unique, because he is the only person in all of scripture that is described as, “a friend of God.” Not once, not twice, but three times – Abraham is referred to as the “friend of God”.


  1. A Friend of God spends time with God

    1. The principle is simple – if I want to call God a friend, I will want to spend time with Him.

    2. Interestingly, it was not Abraham that started this relationship – it was God - “The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre”

    3. I will want to spend time reading His book.

    4. I will want spend time talking to Him and listening to Him – that is prayer.

    5. I will want to spend time just being with Him.

(Appl.) But that is exactly the problem – too often, time is a tough to come by in the midst of our busy lives.
- Work
- Family
- Life

We let life determine what is important, rather than taking time to determine what is important in life. Sit down this week and make a list of all the things that have to be done. Where does God fit? It might even be you forgot to put him into your list. Where does God fit?

(Ill.) There was a story in a Rochester, Texas church bulletin about a young man who was working in a large department store, being told by his employer that he would be required to work on Sunday. It so happened that the hours assigned to him would have prevented his attending any of the worship services to which he had been accustomed to attending since childhood.

The young man informed his employer that he would not be able to continue his work under these conditions, and his employer told him he would have to go.

A few days later, the young man answered an ad in the paper from a bank which had advertised a vacancy for a teller. In checking the young man's previous employers, the bank president contacted the department store head and inquired as to the boy's record and whether he could recommend him. The store manager replied, "Why, yes, I will be glad to recommend him. He will make you a good man. I just fired him a few days ago."

"Fired him?" the bank president exclaimed. "Why would you recommend a man whom you just recently dismissed from your service?" The store manager explained the circumstances under which the boy was released, and remarked, "I know he will make you a good man for your bank, because if he will not steal the Lord's time, he will not steal your money."

    1. Let me ask one more time, where does God fit?

  1. A Friend of God focuses on their family

(Ill.) I came across a poem this week that reminded me of the need to constantly be developing the relationship with my wife:

Tell Her So

Amid the cares of married life,
In spite of toil and business strife,
If you value your sweet wife,
Tell her so!

There was a time you thought it bliss
To get the favor of a kiss;
A dozen now won't come amiss-
Tell her so!

Do not act as if she has passed her prime,
As though to please her were a crime-
If e'er you loved her, now is the time;
Tell her so!

Never let her heart grow cold;
Richer beauties will unfold.
She is worth her weight in gold;
Tell her so!

    1. Abraham feeds His three visitors and they begin discussuing Abraham's family.

    2. There is of course the good news that Abraham is going to have a baby – and they only have to wait a year.

    3. But, do you hear it, Sarah laughs. And you would too. She is nearing 100 years of age and has just been told that she will have a baby.

    4. I mean, I am not 100, but I would probably laugh too if Sandra came back and told me that she was expecting.

    5. But at the very least, Abraham does focus on his wife and will be with her during the coming year.

  1. A Friend of God is concerned for their world

    1. But a friend of God also looks beyond their own world.

    2. As the three visitors described what is planned for Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham realizes that he has the opportunity to intercede for his neighbors to the East.

    3. I am not sure that negotiating with God is a good example – but the concern that Abraham has for those outside his is to be noticed.

    4. God's love is not limited to any one group or ideology's or heritage.

    5. How far does your heart reach? How far do your prayers reach?

    6. God is at work around the world.
      - There are missionaries in every corner of the world.
      - There are Christians located in corner of the globe

    7. Our hearts much reach out where God's heart reaches

    8. Just as Abraham prayed for his neighbors to the East – so must we pray for God's people wherever they may be.

Conclusion: In some way, the jump from having a world view to our monthly communion service seems difficult.

  1. But we have not been talking about a world view. We have been discussing what it means to be a friend of God

  2. Gather, today, at the table of a friend.

  3. The original communion supper was a gathering of friends – there is no reason it cannot be so again.