Posts Tagged 'Matthew'

Apocalypse Talks: Mitigating Disaster

Apocalypse Talks: Mitigating Disaster

Matthew 24:15-22

Thomas Edison’s manufacturing facilities in West Orange, N.J., were heavily damaged by fire one night in December, 1914. Edison lost over $2 million worth of equipment and the record of much of his work. The next morning, walking about the charred embers of his hopes and dreams, the 67-year-old inventor said: “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”

When Jesus told His disciples about the coming Apocalypse, He didn’t shy away from the difficult details. His words held a warning which still can help us today…

When Disaster Approaches

Get OUT of its Way ~ Matthew 24:15-20

  • 15 cf Dan.9.27-Antiocus Epiphanes; “abomination that causes desolation” is pagan authority where Godly worship should be (Destruction Of Temple)
  • 16 the only way the Temple will be completely destroyed is by invading army. RUN!
  • 17 RUN RIGHT THEN: Don’t dawdle
  • 18 RUN AWAY: Don’t turn back (cf. Lot’s wife Gen 19)
  • 19/20 RUN FAST: simply because they’re slow; they can’t evacuate quickly

Keep Pressure in Perspective ~ Matthew 24:21-22

  • 21 “great distress” not dispensationalist “TRIBULATION”; same word 45 times in NT, means “pressured”; Destruction of the Temple certainly placed an unequaled pressure on the whole of Judaism!
  • 22 historian Josephus reported 1,100,000 dead, and 100,000 survivors sold into slavery. If that kind of devastation had continued, everyone under the Roman attack would have died; “sake of the elect”

Jesus TOLD the Disciples they’d need to leave Jerusalem here, and told them again in Matthew 28:19-20 and AGAIN in Acts 1:8.

His words of warning helped the early church escape the coming disaster AND reminded them that their mission was larger than their home: they went out to serve the world. Are we?

alas, the video did not record this week. Audio is working, however! Click the top link.

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Apocalypse Talks: Temporary Temples

Apocalypse Talks: Temporary Temples

Matthew 24:1-8

Abandoned dwellings on internet are intriguing: why? what’s the draw of an old barn, or an abandoned structure? Seeing an unused church makes me wonder what life was like when it WAS in use. But think of the life we now live from the other side of time: what will our beloved places be like when they’re abandoned?

Beware The Worship of the Temporary

* Figure Out The Focus ~ Matthew 24:1-3

(what are you watching)

  • 1 challenge: follow Jesus when eyes are on the world
  • 2 Jesus reminds us: we live in a temporary situation; don’t take it for granite” (it’s not that sturdy!)
  • 3 disciples want to know when, because they want to SEE it (“sign), not avoid it. Are WE asking the right questions of God?

* Don’t Focus on False Forecasts ~ Matthew 24:4-8

(what’s the meaning)

  • 4 challenge: recognize that people DO try to deceive us
  • 5 devil ain’t got no shame!
  • 6 see to it: decide in advance how you’ll respond to bad news
  • 7/8 Birth pangs were in fact a common Jewish metaphor to refer to an indeterminate period of distress leading up to the end of this age (e.g., 1 Enoch 62:4; 2 Esdr 4:42; Tg. Ps 18:14).

In other words, Jesus reminds us to be aware that difficulties are GOING to come… but aren’t necessarily the end of the world (literally!)



 

Out of the Ordinary: Missing The Signs

Out of the Ordinary: Missing The Signs

Matthew 12:38-45

Google Maps does NOT always get you where you want to go!

Reasons for Missing God’s Signs

Rejecting God’s Right ~ Matthew 12:38-42

  • 38 context: they’re saying this because Jesus had the AUDACITY to chew them out cf.v34 “brood of vipers”
  • 39 sign of Jonah: Jewish tradition of warning to Israel~REPENT! Nineveh did, what’s YOUR problem?
  • 40 verification: Messiah will rise!
  • 41 Nineveh heard Jonah’s message: will Jesus’ hearers?
  • 42 Queen heard Solomon’s wisdom; will we trust Christ’s?

Repentance Requires Replenishment ~ Matthew 12:43-45

  • 43/44 Warning: just stopping “being bad” isn’t enough
  • 45 either be filled with the Spirit or be worse than ever

We’re intended to live in a relationship with God; we can’t do that if we’re not listening for His leading.

Out of the Ordinary: Tradition’s Place

Out of the Ordinary: Tradition’s Place

Matthew 15:1-9

J.I.Packer, modern Puritan scholar and evangelical theologian, wrote: “All Christians are at once beneficiaries and victims of tradition—beneficiaries, who receive nurturing truth and wisdom from God’s faithfulness in past generations; victims, who now take for granted things that need to be questioned, thus treating as divine absolutes patterns of belief and behavior that should be seen as human, provisional, and relative. We are all beneficiaries of good, wise, and sound tradition and victims of poor, unwise, and unsound traditions.”

How Can Our History Blur HIS Story?

The Weight of Tradition ~ Matthew 15:1-2

  • 1 Teachers of the Law should have a good handle on the importance of God’s word; talk about “the hedge”
  • 2 these men are concerned about their own power and status; notice they implicitly judge Jesus by the actions of his followers (this is still true today!)

The Place of Tradition ~ Matthew 15:3-9

  • 3/4 the Pharisees don’t see that their “hedge” breaks God’s command which it’s intended to protect
  • 5/6 it’s “more pious looking” to give money for others to see, than to care for your parents (which hardly anyone sees); this choice leads them to break the Law
  • 7/9 their hearts are more concerned with SELF than with God.

We need to guard against this as well; left unchecked and unexamined, we can easily turn our simple faith into a set of rules and regulations that are more concerned with keeping others OUT of “God’s Kingdom” (which isn’t actually His, but OURS with His name slapped on it).

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?

Advent Conspiracy: Give More

Advent Conspiracy: Give More Sermon Audio Here

Matthew 1:18-25

I love Christmas, but increasingly I don’t love trying to explain it to people who confused the real thing with “ChrisMyth”. You know “ChrisMyth” – where the magical Coca-Cola corporate seasonal mascot observes all your marketing data – ahem “sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake” – and either brings you toys or coal depending on how much you’re willing to spend – cough “whether you’ve been good, so be good for goodness’ sake”

Real Christmas Requires Real Gifts:


Realize Life Intrudes
~ Matt. 1:18-19

  • It begins with a couple who are betrothed. Betrothal is a little more serious than engagement. This couple’s name is Mary and Joseph and they had not slept together yet. This is pre-wedding. And Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant.
  • Now, finding out that your soon to be wife is pregnant without your help would be grounds for very severe punishment in that time. Joseph could really ruin her life. What Joseph does decide to do is, divorce her quietly and not make a scene.
  • Now if you found out your fiancé was pregnant with another man’s baby, what would you say? Joseph says to himself, ok, I’m not going to get crazy, I’m not going to shame her. I’m just going to divorce her very quietly.
  • So the first part of God’s story to save humanity starts in the thought to divorce. Sounds like real life to me.

Remember, God Interrupts ~ Matt. 1:20-25

  • 20/23 Angel speaks to Joseph in a dream: Don’t worry; God has a plan
  • Heb. 1:1-2 – God speaks in many ways; today, through His Son
  • In the past God spoke in many ways, but now he has finally spoken with Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of Gods revelation. So, we have this reality of God with us, but in the form of a baby. This should draw some serious reflection out of us. Cheryl Lawrie reflected this way:

we are tempted to think
that this is out of character for you
a momentary fragility
showing your tender side
that once the Christmas carols are finished
and the decorations are put away,
you’ll get back to power and might.
but in your completeness –
this one chance we get to see flesh and bone
put onto the theory –
this is you:
fragile,
impossibly vulnerable
and at the mercy of human response.

  • Fascinating really. God puts himself at the mercy of a young girl,
    and a new husband. God enters life as a human. God with us.
  • That is how the story starts; no reindeer, no snowmen, no thunder, no pillars of fire, just a thought of divorce, a dream, and a baby, who is God in the flesh, come to be with us, Immanuel.
  • And so yes it is a simple story, but it is a story full of wonder.

We get to ask the question: what would it look like if God came to earth as a man?
And the answer we get is Jesus.
The wonder of the incarnation (God coming to earth in flesh) communicates so much. But at its core it is answering a very simple and deep question, which is:
God where are you?
And His answer is: Here with you. In this life. I’m not
some far off being, I am here among you.

I know what it’s like to be you. In your humanity, in your joy, in your suffering.
I know what it’s like to live this life. And I want to be with you. In this Life.
It’s a question we all longed to have answered. God are you with me?
And God answers very deeply, yes I am with you.
God longs for life to be lived with him, not necessarily, under him,
or for him, or above him, but with. In relationship with.
It can be very simple and very powerful when you are fully
present to someone, it fulfills a deep desire of our heart.

I remember a time when I was 16 years old. Mom had passed away, and it was just Dad and I in the house with a single bathroom. Dad had been sporting a Regular Army haircut for as long as I’d known him, but after my Mom died, he decided he’d let it grow out a bit. One morning we were both running a bit behind schedule, and we ended up standing side by side coming our hair. We looked at each other and just cracked up: it was so ODD. At that moment, we were just a couple of guys who were a bit frustrated that our hair wouldn’t quite do what we wanted. A strange moment to be “fully present”, but I wouldn’t trade that memory for the world.

When you’re content to just be with another person, entering into their world, being with them it touches something deep in our heart. It satisfies a deep longing.

And so when it comes to the actual story of Christmas one of the best ways to celebrate is to simply give the gift of your presence. Be with someone.
This year we are trying to spend less on presents and give more of our selves.

It’s the story of What God did, he came to be with us, and so we celebrate, by giving relational gifts.

Practice Give More

Specifically, during this season of Advent, we thought it would be a great way to remember “God with us” by trying to be more intentionally present — First to ourselves and then to other people.

Technology is making it easier and easier to be present but not be with. We’re halfway present, being present with our body but not with our whole relational selves.

It’s not unusual to be in a crowd full of people and for everyone to be distracted, in their own world, on their phone. An artist named Antoine Geiger has an installation called “Sur-Fake” that captured this really well. It’s a series of photographs which shows peoples faces being stretched and blurred into the screens of the devices they hold.

He says, basically this technology is pulling us out of the moment, out of relationship and even away from our own thoughts, instead of being quiet with ourselves and thinking and working something out in thought and prayer, we just distract ourselves with a phone.

So not to get all anti phone, but we think it would be a great way to celebrate God with us by trying to be more with ourselves and others by doing a phone fast this week. Temporarily, turn off your social media apps. Have a spot where you put your phone as soon as you walk into the house. Do whatever you have to do to eliminate the distraction.

Each time you reach for your phone, instead spend a moment in reflection and prayer.

Or, ask your friends or spouse or kids a question, or play, cook, talk, run, just don’t be alone with your phone.

Try and be — with.

Use the time to brainstorm the relational gifts you can give this Christmas as you spend less and give more.

Maybe for you it’s not the phone, maybe it’s the TV, or work that doesn’t need to be done right this moment, but I invite you to stop, and celebrate God with us, by being with each other and being with him.

Very simply celebrate the simple story of a God who is with us, by being with others this Christmas.

Advent Conspiracy: Spend Less

Advent Conspiracy: Spend Less Sermon Audio Here

Matthew 2:1-12

Jesus has been born and here come the three wise men, actually there was probably more than three. Who were these wise men? They were most likely pagan philosopher, astrologist, astronomer types who are from the priestly or ruling class of their eastern culture. They’ve come into Jerusalem, looking for the one who has been born King of the Jews…

What Do Wise People Treasure?

Wisdom, Gained In God’s Light ~ Matthew 2:1-2

Wisdom, Available To Those Who Seek ~ Matthew 2:3-8

  • 3 all Jerusalem disturbed because they misunderstand the signs: they focus on worldly power
  • 4/6 God tells the answer: Ruler will be a Shepherd (not a warrior)
  • 7/8 WARNING: don’t forget to seek for hidden motives!

Wisdom Treasures Worship ~ Matthew 2:9-12

  • Foolishness Worships Treasure: Herod was focused on earthly power and wealth;
  • these wise men willingly sacrificed their wealth in worship of the King of Heaven

If you don’t feel like the “right kind of Christian” you’re in good company. The right kind of Christian in the story, is on the wrong side of history. The religious establishment sided with Herod and his empire and missed Jesus.
The story of Christmas invites us to seek the truth, to be discerning when religion and power begin to mingle. To not be satisfied with mere religious goods and services, but to look in the out of the way places to see what God is doing.
This year we invite you ignore the signs and symbols of the empire.

  • We invite you to not give into the advertisers and corporation
    that really don’t want to worship but will use the language
    of Christmas to lure us into spending more.
  • We invite you to spend less on thoughtless gifts, to give more
    meaningful gifts, gifts of our time and presence.
  • We believe that as we do this, as we celebrate Christmas we can be a part of God still changing the world.
  • May you recognize that having it all is not having it all.
  • And so may your truth seeking lead you to Jesus, and may you be
    captured in wonder around this different kind of king who is grace
    and truth. May you take great joy, that the center of the world
    is a God who comes as a baby to bring peace on earth.


    Pastor Ed Backell

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