A Good Church serves and supports

A Good Church offers everything it is already assured about through serving

     By the end of the message I hope you will see all that we have been assured about as Christians.  And then knowing just how much we have, the command is not to keep it but to offer it. And what we have is offered to a people and to a place.  Your role as a follower of Jesus is to offer what God has given you to a people and to a place.

Serving is first learning how to receive

Matthew 25:14–15 ESV

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

And everything we know about the parable centers around Christ. Service then is not a mad grab for power or influence or relevance. 

 We don’t have to spend our lives attempting to make meaning, we are given incredible meaning in Christ. Our goal is to live well enough to invest what is given into others.

We live in a culture that is ripe with virtue signaling.  I will not only tell you what I am doing but how I am doing it and how many time.  That is not service.  That is performance.

IN consuming, we remain in control of what it is we are consuming.  We choose, pick type, tap our way into consuming and choosing what it is we think we want. 

We can choose consumption and continue to live a click away but the accelerated life that comes with that has one problem.  You can only stop acceleration by one thing.  Force.  A brake pad on the car is force applied to the wheel.  But in an accelerated life, there is no brake pad, no governor.  The only way you ever stop is by hitting something bigger that doesn’t move.  You crash.

We are each given something from God.  Talents in this parable.  But each of us has something to offer another.  Something that was given by God Himself.  That is where we begin. 

Service focuses on people, not on activity or talent

Matthew 25:16–18 ESV

He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

The question we can be asking of this text is why didn’t the Master of the house just invest the. Money himself? He is successful, he probably knows his way around making money work for him.  Why didn’t he just do it himself?

How much you believe something to be valued determines how you handle it.  If you had a brick of gold, I very much doubt you would bury it in the backyard.  You would handle it appropriate to the value given.  The master knows the value of what He gives.

Matthew 25:19–23 ESV

Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

The answer is the exact same whether it’s 5 or 2 or 1 talent.  Well done good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful, here is more.  Enter into the joy of the master.

The outcome is the same: I will set you over much.  So the issue isn’t how much you got, the issue is what did you do with what you got?

Matthew 25:25 ESV

so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’

What an interesting note.  It seems the most noble thing to say.  I am returning back to you what is yours.  I kept it safe.  It wasn’t stolen or unnecessarily risked.  But this was the worst thing that could be said to the Master. 

While divine material, invaluable material is given, the Master isn’t interested in that, only in what the servant did with that.

Serving is about willingness. Are you willing to serve? Not about how much you have or about what you have or about where you are or about who you are. 

Our best model of service is found in Christ.  He is the One who has served.  We receive from Him. Do you need grace or forgiveness this morning? Ask Him.

You don’t need grand gestures to serve.  You just need another person.  Serve someone this week.  Offer something as a means of a divine encounter.  Buy a coffee or a meal, make some tea for someone, allow someone to go ahead of you in line.  These are all opportunities for encounter. 

A Good Church Loves

A Good Church  / Titus 3:1–9

 

Love is the space created for relational flourishing.  It is the experience that invited people in. That invites to sit down and connect.  

It is a core of Christian living.  Last week we looked at connected and Christ said the Father would care for us, love us, and that we are called to love one another. 

To love God and neighbor. 

To exist charitably in the world. 

A Good Church loves God and loves others through God. 

Defining love 

We need to define it and then describe what it looks like. 

Because we are often told to use love to satisfy our wants and needs. but are not sure what they even are any longer 

We got what we chased after but what we got is less than good. 

Because there are some less than helpful definitions of what love is and how it is defined in our culture. 

Love can be defined as a feeling. But what if that feeling runs out

Love can be defined as passion.  

Love can be defined by itself. Love is love.  But what does that mean?

Love can be defined as tolerance. But what happens when our tolerances crash into each other. 

Love is not mysterious, it’s just difficult. 

Doing whats best for the other person regardless of what it costs you. 

1 John 3:16 ESV

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Titus 3:4–7 ESV

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The self is not the source of Christianity, Christ is. If Christ is the source of all love and we receive and learn from him, then when it comes to expressing love, we realize that we are just as needy as anyone else. Our expression of love comes from our own need for it not from our construction of it 

Hear it here and right now.  You are deeply and unashamedly and eternally and constently loved by the God of the Universe.  The same God who created you and sustains you, absolutely loves you. 

Romans 5:5–8 ESV

and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Love is our best given for someone else’s best

This follows Oliver O Donavan’s definition of love as that which is both delight and wisdom 

This means we love others for who they are and why they are (created in God’s image).  But we also love them for who they can become (wisdom). 

To delight is to celebrate who they are based on how far they’ve come. 

To show wisdom in love is to encourage what they could still be. 

This is how Christ shows love. 

He loved based on His delight for us in our own sin and brokenness. He loves us despite our sin. But if He only delighted in us then there would be no way out. He could express love but not offer it

Love pushes every border and boundary we set up.

 love is not allowing people to do anything they want.  No parent lives that way. IN fact no functional relationship lives that way. But that is the cultural order. 

We work hard to delight regardless of where anyone is at.  And we show wisdom to invite people into who they can become. 

This will always stretch our understanding of love. 

But if anyone is going to get it right, it’s got to be the church. 

People are living without relational anchors.  Just like the ISS everything is floating away. Love will begin to tie things down again.  Love bolts things to the floor.  Love invites people in and creates relational space. 

Being a Christian is hard because it means we have to love after everyone else has stopped. And after everyone else seems to have good reasons for doing so. But we also learn love from the God who built and sustains all through His love. But then we get to take love we have experienced from the Creator and make it real and concrete and personal. Who else?

Because the love we show is not from reciprocation. It comes from God our Father.  So we have reserves and reserves of love. 

This morning know you are entirely loved.  And Christ has offered love enough to live from and to give from.  

Page .  Exported from Logos Bible Software, 11:16AM February 10, 2024.

Reading for the Love of God by Jessica Hooten Wilson 

 

What will we be doing? (The content) 

  • Reading as spiritual discipline.  Why reading helps us to love God 
  • Reading as cultural frame. Why reading helps us to understand our culture
  • Examples of Christian devotion through Reading as given in Books. 
  • Our own reading as devotion and reflection 

What will we hope to get out of it? 

By the end of the session the participants will 

  • Reviewed examples of readers through the book and why they stand out
  • discussed which examples stood out and why
  • Chosen one example that they can further use to reflect and practice devotion
  • Define one area they would like to grow in as readers
  • Define one cultural area they would like to understand more through reflective reading
  • Understand the benefit of reading better in regard to living out the Christ life. 

How will we engage with the book? 

  • Discuss what parts of the book were beneficial
  • Discuss what parts of the book were difficult or you disagreed with
  • Discuss some of the historical examples the author gave.  Why were these important to include in the book?
  • On page 98, the author quotes from the book Farenheit 451, stating “
  • 98“Years ago, while attempting to invigorate first-year college students’ conviction of the necessity of reading, I assigned George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.” I remember shouting, standing on a chair, waving the essay in my hand: “Do you not realize that if you do not read, you will be controlled by others?!” In Fahrenheit 451, the head of the fire department, Captain Beatty, recommends to Montag, “Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.” 
    • Where do you see that kind of thing happening in our culture now?
    • Why would reading help to prevent that from happening? 
  • Teach on the reflection vs the reaction cycle. 
    • How do books help us to reflect on what’s happening in the culture rather than react to it? 
    • What book would you read next to understand the culture? 

A Good Church Connects and Grows

 

A Good Church  / John 15:1–17

 

We make choices based on what we are connected and closest to.  We will entirely change our lives based on where we are and what we are connected to. 

Connecting is finding your “no matter whats” In life. That no matter what this will remain.

Jesus makes the claim that He is the best no matter what And that it is worthwhile listening to and responding to Him 

When we remain with something or someone, we eventually being thinking of it as a “no matter what.” 

To connect in Christ is to discover you are a “no matter what” to Him. 

Jesus has already created an entire eco system for you to thrive in. Look back at the Scripture. 

John 15:1 ESV

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

We become cared for and we recognize that as we determine our “no matter whats,” to remain in Christ is to realize that we are God’s “no matter what.” No matter what you belong to me, you abide in me. You grow in me. 

We are created in His image and we are now being called to be cared for in His actions. 

John 15:5 ESV

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

In fact this is what Christ tells us. That to remain in Him is to listen to HIm. To listen to Him is to do what He calls us.  To do what He calls us is to love one another. This is the mark of the church 

But there are times when things feel less that comfortable.  There is change or there is shifting.  Our lives may take a suddent jolt, something comes up we weren’t expecting.  Or we are in a season that feels less than good or helpful. 

This can be the experience of pruning.  Pruning is a common action, in fact a necessary one, in gardening. 

John 15:2–4 ESV

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Pruning is a saving act for the plant. 

When Christ says that we will be pruned, it is a life giving act, even if it doesn’t feel good at the time. 

To Connect in Christ is to love God enough that it spills out into love for another 

John 15:12–15 ESV

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

What are you connected to this morning? 

So we connect to things that promise big but never deliver. This is what any destructive behavior does.  It gives big promises with no return

How is it working out for you? 

Maybe you are a Christ follower and you have found yourself connected to something less than Christ Himself. 

Come back, remain in HIm.  God is your God, He has called you His No matter what. 

Christ has invited us further in to find our no matter what in Him. He is an ocean without a shore.  

Page .  Exported from Logos Bible Software, 12:11PM February 3, 2024.

A Good Church Welcomes and Supports

A Good Church  / Luke 10:25–37

 

Luke 10:25–29 ESV

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

He knows he has to love his neighbor.  So he asks, who exactly is my neighbor. 

Keep in mind what he is actually asking in this question.  He is not looking around for who he has to love or who he can love. The man asks the question because what he really wants to know is how much do I have to do before I’m done? Which means, who don’t I have to love? 

He’s asking if there is someone that he can skip over and have it still count as loving your neighbor. 

But He does.  The Samaritan does the following things, in this order

He sees him

He has compassion on him

He went to him

He bound up his wounds

He set him on his own animal. 

He brought him to an inn who could better care for him

He paid for his health

He planned on coming back 

He shows Willingness

Luke 10:33 ESV

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.

When we receive people, we are encountering Christ. 

The Benedictine order, a monastic group communicates within their own rules that 

This is a reflection of Matthew 25 where Jesus tells people who have welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the sick and those in prison, whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.  

Biblical hospitality is willing because it ignores that and invites the outsider in.  It invites the marginalized to be a part of the group. 

Proximity

Hospitality can only happen in proximity. It means that in order to show people what Christ looks like it will take getting close.  

People have to see what the kingdom of God looks like. It will not happen from a distance, yelling down into the side of the road. 

And the Christian is the One commanded to go first. 

We want the world to get it right, to act right, to legislate right, to speak right. We want them to love what we love and hate what we hate.  

But we often stand far away and grumble why they don’t think the way we do. 

Recovery

Luke 10:34–35 ESV

He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

when we say yes to our neighbor in hospitality we are saying

Yes to thier suffering

Yes to thier spiritual needs

Being hospitable means we take on the whole person. Just like Christ took on all of us, warts and all.  

When we act likewise, like in this story that Jesus tells, and we show willingness and proximity, we are trusting God for another person. We make room for them.

The Reality of willingness, proximity, recovery

shows people what God’s promises look like.

Our hospitality is the foothold of the reality of God in the world.

When we show mercy, 

we are localizing the truths of God. 

Christ is the One who’s hospitable to us.

Christ is the true Good Samaritan. 

We are called to it.  He lives up to it. 

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A Good Church practices Robust Faith

 

A Good Church  / Hebrews 11

 

When we are on a rickety foundation, we try to find balance. When we are in a difficult conversation, we try to argue back to find something reliable. 

We all want something reliable in our lives. And it is easy to find poor substitutions all over the place.  

Hebrews 11:1 ESV

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

That’s why it’s important for a church to have a robust faith.  Because the only we are a church is because we have a life line connection to God.  And it is the confession of our faith in Him that allows us to remain surrendered before Him and active in His will. 

In order to see what faith is we are going to be looking at Hebrews 11, specifically the first 16 verses. 

Hebrews 10:39 ESV

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Faith finds the One who is the most reliable

We are going to look at the way faith is defined in the Scriptures. 

It is “assurance of things hoped for” 

and the “conviction of things not seen.” 

Faith for the Christian is a trust, an allegiance to God who acts on our behalf and who is working in love in our lives. 

It is the activity of the church that reflects the activity of God. 

Probably the most famous sermon of all is the sermon on the mount found in Matthew ch 5, 6, and 7. 

Jesus tells us what life in Him is like.  It is one that is surrendered to Him. It is one that lives for others and for the Kingdom of God. He teaches us how to pray, and fast.  It is the building blocks for how to live in Christ.  At the end of this sermon He gives an illustration. Jesus says that if people hears His words and does them they will be like someone who build their house on a strong foundation.  When storms came and floods came, but the house did not fall. 

To be assured of things hoped for.  Meaning to trust that what Christ has said He will fulfill, and to act on those things, is to build our house on a good foundation.  No matter what comes our way, we don’t shrink back.  

Faith allows us to encounter God and live reliable lives. 

The second part of the definition is the “conviction of things not seen.” The word conviction mean that we trust it because it has held up under scrutiny.  Not only can it hold us up, it can also hold up our doubts. 

Faith is a supernatural gift, and in Christ in faith we can stand up and not shrink back. We can trust the testimony of Christ in our lives. We can trust His work. 

Conviction, in this sense is the product of cross examining.  IT is the ability to push and press and ask and prod to see if that thing is sea worthy.  

We have been taught that faith is the absence of doubt.  That is not true.  Faith is trust regardless of doubt.  I trust Christ and His work more than I trust my own ability to trust HIm.  I don’t have faith in faith.  I have faith in Christ. He is the One that sustains.  And that is learned in the cross examining of faith. 

It can be hard to be a Christian in a post Christian world.  But in some ways I say welcome it. Allow the world to cross examine your faith.  Because if Christ is who He says He is, then He can stand up and around and through and in and by any way we are cross examined.  

That is why as a church we don’t want to fear questions.  This is why we do ground floor.  Why we try and discuss things.  Why we pray through things.  Because we trust that God is working through the cross examining of our faith.  

Hebrews 11:13–16 ESV

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:3 ESV

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Faith will show the most reliable thing about us. 

Faith is assurance and conviction.

Assurance and conviction of that which is most real.  

To have faith means you have to walk on it and you have to work with it.,

Faith only becomes what it is when you use it,

Faith is our lives as we live through Christ

Page .  Exported from Logos Bible Software, 11:47AM January 20, 2024.

A Good Church Glorifies Christ

A Good Church  / John 9

 

Glory is when God’s works are displayed in our walk

People talk about experiences like this, that overwhelm them, in terms of the sublime or even surreal. 

But Sometimes if they are really serious they will use the word glorious.

Glory is the word that you use when you don’t quite have a word that fully describes what you’re experiencing. But it’s beyond description. It is glorious.

Christ helps us to find our way through them.  To navigate those things that are too big.  And as He does we find that there is always something more glorious than we have previously experienced, and it is always found in Christ. 

     But we can’t get there on our own. We will need to see how He walks this individual from the “why” to the “how”

     This then isn’t an individual action.  It belongs to the church.  To those who follow Christ together in locality.

     Our stories collect and corroborate one another’s and point to the same bigger than us picture.  We tell that story as the practice of giving glory to God.

To Glory in God is to participate in His activity

John 9:1–5 ESV

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

But to begin let’s look at the presenting issue. 

The man’s blindness.

IN ANE when someone had a disability it was assumed that there was a form of sin somewhere, that the individual deserved it either from his family or because of himself. The disciples are asking a question everyone would have had.

Whose fault is this? Was it his or someone eles’s? There are asking more than simply whose fault was this but moreso, why did this happen?

Because everything was an issue of merit.  If you or your family did something wrong, then you would pay for it later on.  We would call this retribution or even using Eastern Religious terminology, Karma. 

SO Jesus answers and when He does He goes above blame.  He gives purpose.  He writes that God will show up in power through it.

He is saying that it didn’t come from sin but that God would make meaning from it. 

     What if whatever you perceive as weakness is is actually a display of Gods glory?

     The disciples would have passed right over that being an opportunity for God’s glory

     We often pass right by opportunities for God’s glory.

The very thing that you think has no meaning because it is weak or it is painful is the very thing that God can display His glory through.

2 Corinthians 12:8–10 ESV

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Glory is that which is unmistakably God.  So when we give glory to God, we participate with Him, that means we experience His power and character and we point back to Him.

Giving Glory to God means that we can only make sense of our story in Christ. 

John 9:24–25 ESV

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

Everyone in his community can’t makes sense of what has happened. 

He was blind and now he could see. What did it mean.

They ask about Jesus.  They want to know what kind of person he is.  He is trouble.  HE is a sinner.  That much they know. 

And the reply from the previously blind man is excellent.  “I’m not really sure who he is.  I only know that I was blind.  I met this man Jesus.  Now I can see.”

That is the working out of God’s glory in a life. 

If you are a Christ follower this morning there is a real sense in which our stories don’t fully make sense unless our stories are found in Christ.

We experience peace when we shouldn’t

We love when others have given up

We have experienced otherworldly mercy

and grace and love

We can persevere because we know who our heavenly Father is and where we are going. 

We long for a heavenly home but can rest in Christ now.

     Because we live otherworldly lives, we practice alien things like rest and peace.

     This is God’s glory coming through

2 Corinthians 3:1–3 ESV

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

We in Christ are a letter about what that life is about. Your story matters.  Because it is about the God of the Universe who loves HIs creation so much that He would die for us to give us a chance at life.  You are marked with the value of the Creator. 

Glory is maybe more about unconditional pointing than skilled perfection.

John 9:35–39 ESV

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

It is the work and glory of Christ that brings this once blind man into belief.  He experiences all these things that are larger than Him, healing, kindness, redemption.  And in so doing, what other choice does he have?

The call of the church is to live in the glory of God and to give glory to God, honor to Him, by participating with Him in such a way that our stories only make sense in light of who Christ is.

That is who we want to be as a church.  That our story as a church would only make sense in understanding who God is.

John 3:22–30

Introduction

Christ is more than enough because He has offered more than we ever could to us

Competition

John 3:25–26 ESV

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

There are two questions being asked

– How can I be fixed?

– Purification

  – Can baptism, or by proxy, John, do anything about my impure state.  Can you help me?

  Are you the best person to help me?

  • Between John and Jesus, who wins? Who is the best person to deal with this issue.

We wait for the best offer.  And John is being asked, are you the best? If so, why are they going to this guy across the river?

We have a hard time thinking outside of competition.

Competition exists as a form of play (Gadamer) which means that in a lot of ways, the meaning found in competition is only within itself so the highest form of meaning in competition is in the competition of self. Competition as play suspends meaning.

This works in certain areas but it destructive in other areas.

Wendell Berry writes that

“It is a rule, apparently, that whatever is divided must compete…… And none of these competitions is ever resolved in the triumph of one competitor, but only in the exhaustion of both.”

Competition doesn’t work because it leads to exhaustion

We are offered everything that heaven gives

John 3:27 ESV

John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.

     WE often think life is like a competition for who can do it better.

     But we function in life like ones who are reaching out for better help.

     Competition shows us what we are made of, but nothing more

     Christ offers us more than we are made of, which is why John can participate in His joy.

A Joy Made Complete

John 3:28–35 ESV

You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.

     At the completion of his joy, He does not need more, actually he can rest in less.

If our joy is made complete, we can rest.

YOu can find resources within yourself but those will immediately create competition and exhaustion.

The hope is to spin out and point to something greater.  To find your value in the One who offers Heaven itself. Christ is trustworthy because of what He has offered.  His complete self to us.

Christ has called you onto His team.  Enter into His joy this morning as One who no longer has to fight for your position or worth but as One who is shown how valuable you are in Christ’s sacrifice.

Revelation 21:1-8

Hope after Hope Before Hope / Revelation 21

 

Advent is the promise that God has come to free His people. Revelation shows Him keeping it.  We have faith in the promise offered and the promise kept.

Luke 2:8–17 ESV

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.

When they Saw it. They came to the place where Christ was.  Where He was born.  Where He entered into the world. The shepherds were shown. They searched and He was there.  He was present.  But they found Him in their search.

In case we would forget, Jesus continually points us to Himself as the means to understand our eternal home

John 14:1–4 ESV

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

So by the time we get to Revelation, our hearts resting in Christ. We see that we no longer have to search or wait.  We receive. 

Revelation 21:1–3 ESV

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

The sea is gone. Only God knows what to do with evil. Only He can truly master it. We have seen that in Revelation.  We see that He removes it and brings renewal beyond it.

And we have no need to find God.  Because God is with is.  We don’t have to run to find HIm.  He has found us.  He has come to us. 

Revelation 21:4–5 ESV

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

The church, the visible church, collectively as well experiences pain and loss.  We do that together. But when we experience loss, we know all is not lost.  When we cry ourselves to sleep we know there is joy in the morning.

Christ makes all things new.  We see that in the advent and resurrection.  We see it completed in Revelation 21.

There is a new heaven and a new earth.  It is recreated.  And we see a visible New Jerusalem descend down. 

We know that just a few chapters earlier there was babylon.  A city who was entirely destroyed. Destroyed by it’s own sin.  couldn’t hold up under it’s own deception.

There is no place that does not carry within it the hope of the Gospel.

The world is still pregnant with the hope of the Gospel.  With the need of the Gospel.

But the church, we are the ones who proclaim it. Who live it in reality.

You are here to proclaim the lived reality of Advent and the Parousia.

We wait in hope. not hopeless.

Even when it feels like our hope is leaking we remember that God reclaims even that which rebelled against Him.

He reclaims.  He undoes we we have twisted up.

God will make all things new.  Christ’s unrelenting effort on our behalf.  His victory on the cross boldly proclaimed, It is finished.

In revelation 21 we get to see what the finished work looks like.  It is not a perishable or transitory or temporary work.  It is permanence for all who trust in Him.

Revelation18

Hope after Hope Before Hope / Revelation 18

We are offered grace for new lives that withstand eternity itself.

Revelation 18 is all about collapse. It is about life outside of Christ. 

     It is life that is attempting to exist outside of God

     And then succeeds in separating itself from God.

     And then collapses under it’s own weight.

Revelation 18:2–3 ESV

And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!

She has become a dwelling place for demons,

a haunt for every unclean spirit,

a haunt for every unclean bird,

a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.

For all nations have drunk

the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,

and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,

and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Here we have Babylon.  An Empire, a mechanism that manipulates humanity for it’s own means.

Babylon, for the writer of this book and the churches involved is Rome.  Babylon for us is meant to reveal any other empire in the world.  A structure or a form or beurocratic organism or even a technology.

This is an idea that theological Jacques Ellul calls technique.

He says that necessity determines and dominates society.  We default to attempting to find the best technique and it ends up ruining us. 

It becomes too large. We become controlled by the forces of the city.  We try to manipulate but we get twisted within it

We not only get mixed up but we build on top of it.  We take a last stand and say to God and others, my will be done. 

When we do that we build higher and higher until it can’t hold itself.

The human world is not built for humans

Michael Sacasas

My will be done. Living without direction

The city is a self sustaining gathering.  It has gathered itself and accumulated itself and because it feels like it has done all the work it rejects any other gathering.  It will refuse every other invitation (142 MOTC)

Revelation 18:7–8 ESV

As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,

so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,

since in her heart she says,

‘I sit as a queen,

I am no widow,

and mourning I shall never see.’

For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,

death and mourning and famine,

and she will be burned up with fire;

for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

We use until the use is gone. And once the use is gone there is a temptation to lose all sense of value.  All the things that were once full of value and beauty are now just piles of collections. 

Look at this list of things that people would buy from babylon.

Revelation 18:11–13 ESV

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

And then lastly slaves.  But look how it is described: Human souls.

When we just live lives that accumulate we lose sense of humanity.  We treat people like products.  We quickly slip into a transactive life.

A transactive life

A World too Heavy. The middle will collapse by it’s own weight. Living without support  

Revelation 18:6 ESV

Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,

and repay her double for her deeds;

mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.

Here we have direction. We are called out.  We are called to not participate in the schemes of babylon.  While we are in the world we are not of the world.  We live in it but do not engage with the way the world operates.

We are called out because the middle cannot sustain

We are called out because what is piling up can never offer life. When we depend on ourselves and our accumulations there will never be life within ourselves or life in our collections. 

Christ doesn’t just offer to give us better ways of living, He offers us new life

In every place where people have tried to pull themselves out of thier own technique Christ has offered compassion. 

John 6:35–37 ESV

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Jesus offers Himself as the bread of life. 

Out of the frenzy, out of acquiring.

To be given something in which we will not thirst or hunger.

To be offered life itself.