Posts Tagged 'authority'

Autumn Thoughts: The Kingdom of Truth

The Kingdom of Truth

John 18:33-38

There’s a lot of conversation these days in our political climate when the subject of “citizenship” comes up. Who belongs, and who doesn’t. This isn’t new. When Roman citizens moved throughout the known world, they would sometimes have to prove they belonged to the Empire. St. Paul, a Roman citizen himself, writing the Philippian Christians, said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”

This idea doesn’t make sense to everyone; it certainly stumped Pontius Pilate. When Jesus was brought to him, he tried to figure it out…

To Make Sense of This Summons, Ask

* What Reason For Wrath? ~ John 18:33-35

setup: the next morning after the railroading; they’ve taken Him to Pilate, because the Jews can’t execute anyone; they want Him DEAD

  • 33 Pilate is seeking context; If Jesus CLAIMED this, it could be seen as sedition against Rome (a capital offense)
  • 34 Jesus figures out that this idea of sedition IS NOT from Pilate; it’s more likely that this charge was what the Sanhedrin could come up with to ensure Jesus’ death (THEY charged Him with blasphemy, not a capital offense in Rome)
  • 35 Pilate knows Jesus isn’t trying to overthrow Rome; so WHY are the Jewish leaders so upset with Him?

=> because they’re facing the King of Truth!

* What Kind of Kingdom? ~ John 18:36-38

  • 36 An Elsewhere Kingdom: worldly standards do not apply
  • 37 An Everyone Kingdom: all who listen to Truth are subjects in it
  • 38 An Evasive Kingdom: only those who are willing to chase after Truth will find it

If you are unwilling to see the Truth, He can stand right in front of you, and you’ll miss Him!


Christ Is Our King

Christ Is Our King Sermon Audio Here

Ephesians 1:15-23

It’s Christ the King Sunday, the newest day in the liturgical year. It was first added in 1925 in response to increasing secularization movements worldwide, but in particular to the plight of Mexican Christians who were being told by their government that only their government was due ultimate allegiance. The Church in Mexico remained faithful, holding public parades throughout the land (with significant governmental pushback!) proclaiming “Cristo Rey!,” “Christ is King!” {gratefully borrowed from the Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church}

The Benefits Of Belonging In The Kingdom:

To Know The Father, We Know Christ ~ Ephesians 1:15-19a

  • 15 this reason=they have guaranteed salvation
  • 16 if we fully knew what Christ has done for us, we’d be overcome with thankfulness
  • 17 spirit=NOT H.S., but “breath/inspiration” to know the FATHER better
  • 18/19 we MAY know called hope, rich inheritance, & great power

To See The Kingdom, We Show Christ ~ Ephesians 1:19b-23

  • 20 God put Jesus in the highest position
  • 21 Christ surpasses comparison of power and authority
  • 22 Christ rules over ALL; Head of the Church
  • 23 a head can’t function without a body; a body can’t function without a head

We are Christ’s local presence: if the world would see Jesus, they’ll see Him (or not) THROUGH US.

Epiphany: Upside-down Power

Epiphany: Upside-down Power Sermon Audio Here


We have different ways to describe “power”. Sometimes we mean force: the amount of energy needed to accomplish a task. Sometimes we mean flow: the transmission of energy from one point to another. Sometimes we mean influence: the ability to get someone to do something. We know how electrical power works (AC/DC); but what about God’s power?

Powerful Points to Ponder:

Our Ability Falls Short of God’s Glory ~ 1 Cor. 1:18-25

  • v18/19 reminder: God’s ways are NOT ours
  • v20/21 God’s choice: we can’t figure out God on our own on purpose!
  • v22/23 Jews can’t accept Messiah as Sacrifice (seen as Conqueror); Greeks can’t accept Christ’s Sacrifice because it means admitting that human wisdom is insufficient for salvation
  • v24/25 Christ’s power through submission to God’s plan; Christ’s wisdom through acceptance of God’s terms

Our Inability Shows God’s Grace ~ 1 Cor. 1:26-31

  • v26/27 who we are isn’t that important for God’s use
  • v28/29 God uses the uncomplicated so HE gets the glory
  • v30/31 our Inability just shows of HIS ability to make Himself known through us

Consider this: sand is opaque (you can’t see through it); when exposed to extreme heat, it reforms and becomes transparent. It’s got the same ingredients, but the internal change makes all the difference.

Micah 6:8 ~ He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Human power is the personal application of influence to control behavior; God’s power isn’t wielded, it’s yielded to. We don’t EXERCISE God’s power; we submit to it (obedience leads to God’s powerful presence in us).

Human wisdom is the learned beneficial application of knowledge; God’s wisdom isn’t learned, it’s received. We don’t WORK for God’s Wisdom; we accept it (as a gift).

Manuscript Sermon: Life on the Winning Side

Page from the Luke manuscript

Page from the Luke manuscript

Here is yet another transcription manuscript of last Sunday’s sermon. I don’t know that I’ll continue this practice often, but it seems to be a good discipline to use occasionally.

At a conference at a Presbyterian church in Omaha, people were given helium filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing the joy in their hearts. Since they were Presbyterians, they didn’t feel free to say “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.” All through the service balloons ascended, but when it was over 1/3 of the balloons were unreleased. God plants joy in us, but we need to be willing to let it go. It seems to be an odd thing, but when we release our joy, it comes back to us. Joy reinforces its presence in our lives. We’re going to look at that concept today in Luke chapter 10, verses 17-24.

This portion of Scripture isn’t just about joy; this is about Jesus having given His disciples authority, and reactions to it. During the time of Lent, we have looked at attributes we share with Christ. We’ve looked at sharing in Christ’s suffering, sharing in His forgiveness, His mission, and His sacrifice. Today, we’re looking at sharing in Christ’s authority. When we consider Life on the Winning Side, we ask What Kind of Joy Do You Have? As we read these verses, look for the mention of joy.

To give us some background context, this portion of Luke is where the disciples who had been send out by Jesus to engage in ministry returned from their mission. Luke 10:17-20: “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’”

So what kind of joy do you have? The disciple’s joy we see here is Focused on Conduct. The disciples joy is focused on conduct; in verse 17, they say that they return with joy and then describe the process. They were focused on the process: they said, Lord, the demons are subject to us in your name! and how does Jesus respond in the very next verse? “I saw Satan fall from Heaven.” Understand that in the Greek, Jesus is saying this as a past-tense event. Jesus has focused on the finished work; indeed, later in the Gospels when we see Jesus on the cross, and He says a number of statements, His last one, of course, is “it is finished.”

God has a wonderful plan for your life, and that plan, first of all, is to bring you to Him; and to do that, He needed to make a way. Jesus defeated Satan at the cross. The interesting thing is that Satan didn’t know he had lost until the cross happened. The devil got the Savior up on the cross and thought he had won. We can almost hear him chortling with infernal glee; but the devil didn’t realize God’s ultimate plan to rescue us; to ransom us with Jesus’ blood.

Jesus focused on the finished work; He knew from the beginning of creation what the finished work would be. The main point for us is to overcome the power of the enemy through Christ. Jesus said, “I give you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of the enemy nothing will harm you.” We are protected from the Adversary.

This is not a guarantee that we will never bang her elbow or scrape our knee. This is not talking about bodily harm; this is saying that if you have trusted in Christ, you can go into a dangerous situation, and not worry about if you come out of it or not… because you are protected. Our flesh-suits are subject to failure; I recognize that this outward shell that I wear is just a temporary thing. There are going to be times when I suffer in my physical body, but that’s not me. I’m inside this thing; I’m using this thing temporarily. Someday I will slough it off; someday I will put it all aside, and be my real self in the presence of Jesus. Jesus knows this, and He lets us know that we are protected from the attacks of the enemy. The adversary cannot snatch us out of God’s hand; we are protected.

In verse 20, we’re given this encouragement by Jesus: “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” We don’t need to obsess over spiritual warfare, but instead, hold on to our personal victory. We’ve been rescued; that is our ultimate cause for joy!

However, this does not mean we are to walk through life unprepared. Ephesians chapter 6 talks about the armor of God, and how we are to put it on. We are to carefully fasten about our waist the belt of Truth, and everything hangs on truth. I don’t know if you know this, but with the Roman armor described in Ephesians, the first thing you put on is the tunic of clothes and then over the top of that you put the belt. The belt supports the weight of the weapons and secures the armor; it brings everything together, freeing the soldier to concentrate on the attack.

Truth is our foundational piece to fight against the enemy. We are to take up the shield of Faith with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the enemy. The enemy does not want us to live in joy; he wants us to be as miserable as he is, and is constantly shooting at us, trying to bring us down. Remember, we don’t carry a metaphorical small, round, Gladiator Shield. The shield of Ephesians 6 is the shield from Roman armor: it’s 4 feet high and about two and a half feet wide and it’s curved; it provides protection. This means we put ourselves into our faith as much as we can; notice we’re not hiding from the world; we’re advancing, but we are not without protection – Jesus knows what He’s doing in our lives.

What kind of joy you have? The disciple’s joy was focused on conduct; Jesus’ joy, on the other hand, was Found in Connection. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.’” (Luke 10:21-24)

Jesus’ joy is found in connection because He is full of joy in the Spirit. Verse 21 shows us that Jesus takes joy in the Father’s work and the Father’s work is found in US. My family watches a television show called “Face Off”; it’s a show about special effects makeup. When making an effects appliance, one of the first stages after design is to get a cast of the model’s head. They take pieces of clay and they smear them all over the cast, so they can start shaping the clay onto the model’s face. They spend quite a long time working that clay to get just the shape they want; they give it form and substance.

I want you to realize that God Our Father is doing that in you. The Old Testament prophets describe us as clay on the potter’s wheel, and that God is shaping us and molding to be exactly what He wants us to be. The book of Romans reminds us that the clay doesn’t get to say to the Potter, “I don’t like this shape you have me into; fix this! I want to be like something else!” No, it is the Father’s work, the Potter’s hand, that gets to shape us to be like He wants us to be. That’s why I pray almost every week, “Lord, shape us to be like Jesus.” We want to cooperate with that process. Lord, I want to be soft and pliable, not hard and stiff and difficult to work with. I’d rather be moldable. Jesus takes joy in this work that the Father is doing.

Understand this piece of theology in verse 22: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” We know the Son through the Father, because of the choice of the Son. You see, the Son looked at us from before time began – we find this in Ephesians 2:10 – when the Son said, “this one is mine. Do Your work on this one, Father” and the Father gave that one to be like the Son, and in order to bring that one to life – to cooperate with that shaping – the Father and the Son sent the Spirit. The Spirit breathes into us, enlivens us, and allows us to actually take part in the process of our lives being shaped to be like Christ.

The Trinity is doing the work: the Father selects; the Son reveals; the Spirit brings to life. That’s a lot to comprehend. It’s very simple to write down, but the more you think on it, the more complex it gets, because you’ll start to see the scope of everything that God is doing. Verse 23 talks about being blessed; Luke chapter 6 has a condensed version of The Sermon on the Mount. In it, we realized when Jesus says “blessed are you,” it means that God is noticing you and that should make you happy. With that same thought in mind, read how Jesus said, “blessed are the eyes that see what you see.”

When we find joy in the work that God is doing in us, we’re reminded that God notices what we do. Being in a play with a large cast, I’ve seen the work that the actors in the back row put in. They might not be highlighted, but they’re giving everything they’ve got to contribute to the show. I see their work from the wings, and it makes me smile. It’s similar to when a grandparent shows pictures of their new grandbaby; you’re aware that Grandma or Grandpa is very proud of this little one. God sees us like that; He’s proud of us, not because of what we DO, but because of who we ARE: we’re HIS.

Finally, there is a warning found in verse 24, and I want you to make sure we catch it. Jesus says “For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” The warning here is that sometimes leaders can get lost in the Task and miss the Point. The disciples did this at in verse 17 when they took their joy in the subjection of demons. They missed the point: relationship with God is what makes that authority possible.

All the way back in first Samuel chapter 15, God through the prophet Samuel gives Israel a warning. God had given the soldiers of Israel a command, and they ignored it, preferring to say that they were going to give an extra sacrifice to God instead. The prophet told the people this crucial fact: God wants obedience, not sacrifice. It’s more important for you to actually connect with the heart of God than it is to do all of the right stuff. What God wants is obedience more than sacrifice; He wants relationship more than a well-structured life.

Our joy is found in connection; it’s been said that joy is a byproduct of obedience. Jesus obeyed the Father and He found His joy in that obedience. If we are to exercise Christ’s authority, we need to do the same thing that Jesus did: find our joy in obeying the Father in our lives.

Learning from Luke: Life on the Winning Side

Learning from Luke: Life on the Winning Side Sermon Audio Here

Luke 10:17-24

A conference at a Presbyterian church in Omaha. People were given helium filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing the joy in their hearts. Since they were Presbyterians, they weren’t free to say “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.” All through the service balloons ascended, but when it was over 1/3 of the balloons were unreleased. Let your balloon go.

What Kind of Joy Do You Have?

Focused on Conduct
Luke 10:17-20 ~ Returned With Joy

  • v17 Notice the disciples’ joy; they focused on the process
  • v18 Jesus focused on the finished work
  • v19 main point: overcome the power of the enemy thru Christ; we are protected from the Adversary (not bodily harm)
  • v20 don’t obsess on spiritual warfare, but on your personal victory; you have been rescued (your ultimate cause for joy)

Found In Connection
Luke 10:21-24 ~ Full of Joy in the Spirit

  • v21 Jesus takes joy in Father’s Work; Father’s work is found IN US
  • v22 We know the Son THROUGH the Father BECAUSE of the choice of the Son; God in Trinity chooses us: Father selects, Son reveals, Spirit brings to life
  • v23 (cf 6:20- Blessed because God NOTICES you); when we find joy in the work that God is doing in us, we’re reminded that God NOTICES what we do, and is pleased by it; our attempts at living Kingdom-based lives make God smile
  • “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what that is really like.

    It is like a small child going to it’s father and saying, ‘Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.’ Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. The man is awake now.”

    C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) in Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), p. 192.

  • v24 warning: leaders can get lost in the task, and miss the POINT (cf. 1 Samuel 15:22, to obey better than sacrifice)

It has been said that Joy is the byproduct of obedience. Jesus obeyed the Father, and found His joy in that. If we’re going to exercise Christ’s authority, we need to do the same thing Jesus did: find our joy in obeying the Father in our lives.

The Ancient of Days Today

The Ancient of Days Today Sermon Audio Here

The Ancient of Digital Days | by greenwise art

Daniel 7:9-14

Today is Christ The King Sunday; but WHY? CtK Sunday was formed because secular governments try to assert authority over the Church.

Why Look to the Ancient of Days for Guidance Today?

He is The Source of Sovereignty
Daniel 7:9-14

  • v9 look @ attributes: white=pure wisdom; fire=strong authority
  • v10/12 God has the right to judge, and He will do so
  • v13/14 Jews would interpret this as a sign of Israel’s supremacy; God will keep the King forever;
  • in other words, the Ancient of Days knows what He is doing by virtue of His wisdom and authority

He is the Answer for Authority
John 18:33-37

  • v33 Pilate asks a GOOD question: who do you rule, Jesus?
  • v34/35 next good question: what have you done, Jesus?
  • v36 Jesus’ kingdom NOT of this world; what is our response?
  • v37 everyone on side of truth listens to Jesus; what side are you on?

Pope Pius the Eleventh said that if Jesus is actually LORD, then all of our lives must be affected:

  • He must reign in our minds – we submit to His word
  • He must reign in our wills – we obey His word
  • He must reign in our hearts – we love God above all else
  • He must reign in our bodies – we live as instruments of justice for God

Covenant Concepts ~ Noah: God Will Remember

Covenant Concepts ~ Noah: God Will Remember Sermon Audio Here

Genesis 9:8-17/1 Peter 3:18-22

To start this new series based on Covenant Concepts, we need to realizes that Covenants are agreements between stronger and weaker parties. Just like when a person borrows money to purchase a home, they go to the bank (the stronger party in this instance because they have the money) and agree to pay them more money over a long period of time because they do not currently have sufficient cash to purchase the house. The relationship between the strong party (the bank) and the weak party (the home-buyer) are defined by the terms of the covenant. God does this with us; He provides ways for us to understand Him through the use of covenant. Why does God use this format?

God Frames Relationships With Covenant Concepts

God Remembers Us In Faithfulness

  • v8-10 God’s faithfulness is for EVERYONE
  • v11-13 God’s faithfulness reassures us
  • v14-17 God does not forget (Heb 6:10)
  • bow as token is for US to remember that God will not forget – the definition of faithfulness

=> Mark Twain and his friend William Dean Howells stepped out of church just as a violent rainstorm began. Howells said, “I wonder if it will stop”; and Mark Twain replied, “It always has.”

God Redeems Us In Authority
1 Peter 3:18-22

  • v21 Baptism is a symbolic act of covenant; we agree that we are unable to save ourselves
  • v22 God raised Jesus; we will be raised because of our connection to Christ

Remember: God Is Faithful; He Does NOT forget us. God is Able; He Does Not abandon us.

The Messiah’s Ministry: Demonstrates Authority

The Messiah’s Ministry: Demonstrates Authority
Matthew 9:1-8
In 1789 an uncertain George Washington is urged to seek the presidency by Governor Morris, a Pennsylvania delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Morris writes Washington: “No constitution is the same on paper and in life. The exercise of authority depends upon personal character. Your cool steady temper is indispensably necessary to give a firm and manly tone to the new government.”
~How Does Jesus Show His Authority To Us?
* Jesus Forgives Us (1-2)
* Jesus Offends Us (3-5)
* Jesus Changes Us (6-8)
When Jesus changes us, He has a RIGHT to do so!

Pastor Ed Backell

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