Archive for the 'Epiphany' Category

Joel’s Hope: A Word of War

A Word of War

Joel 3:9-16; Eph. 6:11-17

I’ve been reading Scripture as literature lately; I’ve been focusing more on plot and character than on devotion or doctrine. One thing I’ve noticed is the overarching theme of restoration. THAT is Joel’s Hope: that God would put right what has gone wrong.

Joel’s Hope Is Our Help

* Warn the World… ~ Joel 3:9-12

  • 9 context: this is a warning to the world, not God’s people
  • 10 riff on Isaiah 2:4; the world will fight against God anyway it can BEFORE the day of the Lord
  • 11 notice voice change: first part is Joel warning; second is Joel praying
  • 12 third part is God responding; make no mistake: God WILL judge the nations, even those who claim not to know or follow Him (THAT is why we share)

* To Weigh Their Worth ~ Joel 3:13-16

  • 13 back to Joel’s prayer: calling for the “harvest/judgment” of the nations; Jesus referenced this: Matt 9:38 (“pray the Lord to send workers”)
  • 14 “valley of decision” is a metaphor for being stuck, and needing to choose; DO YOU FEEL STUCK IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?
  • 15 another metaphor: try to live without God, and you’re stuck in the dark!
  • 16 Our choice: thunder and trembling away from God; or a refuge and stronghold WITH Him.

* Wage the War ~ Eph. 6:11-17

  • 11/12 We are not fighting PEOPLE; we are fighting spiritually
  • 13/14 STAND actively, not passive; we are on OFFENSE
  • 15 Are you ready to move? When God says GO, what’s your response?
  • 16/17 Roman shield USED IN CONCERT; not as individuals but AS A UNIT

Make no mistake: we ARE in a spiritual war. How are you engaged?

Joel’s Hope: Rend and Repent

Joel’s Hope: Rend and Repent

Joel 2:12-17

When we learn of disasters, consider our responses. Don’t disasters often move us to action? But the question remains: what KIND of action?

God Calls Us To Respond

* God Prompts to Repent ~ Joel 2:12-17

  • 1-11 Description of the Locust Swarm
  • 12 Even now > let natural disaster move your heart towards God (not away)
  • 13/14 Return > nation had fallen away from worship; sound familiar?
  • 15/16 how should people respond? DO the acts of worship to reflect their return
  • 17 How should LEADERS respond? In prayer (not posturing)

* God’s Promises are Kept ~ Joel 2:28-32

(cf. Acts 2:16ff)

  • 18-27 God Promised Restoration (Done – see Israel today!)
  • 28/29 fulfilled at Pentecost!
  • 30/31 fulfilled at the Crucifixion!
  • 32 fulfilled NOW: STILL TRUE TODAY!

Repentance is changed THOUGHT; Rending is current ACTION

BONUS: 7 Steps on HOW to repent found in Psalm 32 (start with vs 5)

 

Joel’s Hope: A Call To Cry

A Call To Cry

Joel 1:13-20; II Peter 3:8-13

Be Prepared” – looks different, depending on circumstance: my pregnant daughter had a bag packed a month “early”, and Thursday she was admitted to have the baby! A wife and mother thought she had years after her husband passed – and her funeral was yesterday. To prepare REQUIRES forethought: so what are we thinking about?

Before We Call Out, Consider

* WHY Cry? ~ Joel 1:13-20

  • 13/14 we CRY IN LAMENT; Joel in response to actual locust attack; metaphor of a sudden invasion; when faced with suffering, we cry out to God: THIS IS ENCOURAGED
  • 15/18 we cry in WARNING; this world will not last forever; we see our relationship with God through the lens of our circumstances unless we’re reminded that God comes FIRST (switch the direction of the binoculars)
  • 19/20 we cry in NEED; we do this still “give us our daily bread” isn’t about FOOD, it’s about reliance upon God (instead of ourselves)

* WHAT Do We Call? ~ II Peter 3:8-13

  • 8/9 not on God’s timetable (we need reminders that God is still at work)
  • 10/11 we don’t have God’s values (if STUFF is temporary, why so much energy spend on accumulation?)
  • 12/13 we need God’s VISION – keep looking forward

This world could very well be winding down… or it could go on for another ten thousand years. Regardless of the time: what are you doing for the Kingdom NOW?

Daily Disciplines for the Christian Life: Putting It Together

Putting It Together

Philippians 2:12-13

The Skit Guys wrote a very powerful skit which you can find on Youtube. It talks about how God is working on us to build His life in us… and how we respond to that process.

To Put Together A Christian Life

* Make HIS IMAGE in You ~ Philippians 2:12-13

  • 12 “work out” – action directed back on itself; Jesus’ work is DONE! How is HIS work showing up in YOUR life?
  • 13 God’s work in you: to change your WILL and your ACTIONS; will you cooperate or fight?

* Take Each Step Daily ~ Seven Verses

  • John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. I can’t
  • Phil 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength. HE can
  • Eph 5:18: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
  • 1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. (keep off the Throne)
  • 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  • 1 Peter 2:2: Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, (grasp the word & gasp prayer)
  • Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Habakkuk 3:13 reminded us that God came to deliver His people. THIS is how He does so every day. Join Him.

Daily Disciplines for the Christian Life: Get Your Mission

Get Your Mission

Exodus 19:1-6; Acts 1:4-8

Vicktor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor, wrote “Man’s Search For Meaning” – he learned that identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about, and then immersively imagining that outcome, gave hope to the hopeless, even in concentration camps. Frankl discovered that the very last thing anyone can take from you is your freedom of choice. YOU CHOOSE how you will respond to suffering, to enjoyment, to living and dying. Want to find your purpose? Get Your Mission!

To Choose Your Role In Life:

* TREASURE Your Position ~ Exodus 19:1-6

(don’t seek it, BE it)

  • 1/3 God’s people are given a message: specifics are for Israel, principles are for US
  • 4/5 set your priorities; IF keep covenant, THEN treasured “favorite tool-impact wrench”
  • 6 result of proper priorities: holy service

* PLAY Your Position ~ Acts 1:4-8

(what is your position on God’s team?)

  • 4 discovering your gifts
  • 5 Holy Spirit IS the gift; HS is ALSO the giver of gifts (Rom 12:1-8; 1 Cor 12-14; Eph. 4:7-16; 1Pet 4:10-11)
  • 6 identifying your passion; what are we looking towards?
  • 7/8 discerning your call; WHO will you seek? WHAT will you say? WHY would you share? WHERE are you going?

WHEN? Time is NOW: Position → Fruition → Passion → Commission

Aha Moments: God’s Guest List

Aha Moments: God’s Guest List

Matthew 8:5-13

Not everyone is comfortable in new or different environments. Some people just can’t picture themselves doing a different thing, so they always do what they’ve always done. But what if the Jesus that’s being rejected is just some bad misunderstanding of who He really is? How can we encourage others to truly interact with Jesus?

Go Beyond Invitation

Support the Seeker’s Search ~ Matthew 8:5-9

  • 5 non-Jewish military man seeks out a rabbi; this is WEIRD
  • 6 notice nothing is asked; the centurion just states the facts
  • 7 Jesus: heal=I will serve/cure/restore (not a super definite word)
  • 8 centurion: heal=cure! (more certain)
  • 9 modern vernacular: SAY THE WORD

Foster the Seeker’s Faith ~ Matthew 8:10-13

  • 10 centurion faith isn’t in God whom he can’t see, but Jesus right in front of him
  • 11 reminder: the Kingdom is larger than redeemed Israelites
  • 12 “subjects of the kingdom” → the natural nation of Israel; we have to remember that there is a difference between the chosen people of God Israel and the political state of Israel
  • 13 The command we ignore here? GO!

If we believe that Jesus is doing is work, then we’re to trustingly GO. Ask yourself: where are you supposed to be GOING?

Aha Moments: Spotted Fruit

Aha Moments: Spotted Fruit

Matthew 7:13-20

We’re all trying to grow as people; how can we tell if something is good for growth? On what should we focus to grow well?

For Good and Godly Growth:

Choose Carefully ~ Matthew 7:13-14

  • 13 “two ways” language is common in Jewish lit.; Jesus challenges us to consider WHY we choose the harder path
  • 14 seek LIFE (cf. Deut. 30:19-20a – choose life)

19This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live… 20and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.

Defend Against Fraud ~ Matthew 7:15-20

  • 15/16 look at the LIFE of the teacher, not just the teaching itself
  • 17/18 we act OUT OF who we are, good or bad
  • 19/20 we can view this as a death of our old self

John 15– Jesus is the vine; if we want to bear good fruit, we must stay connected to Him


Pastor Ed Backell

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