Posts Tagged 'preparation'

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?

Apocalypse Talks: The Bigger Picture

Apocalypse Talks: The Bigger Picture

Matthew 24:36-44

Sometimes we receive warnings about a coming disaster, take appropriate steps, and in large part prevent the situation. Y2K was talked about for years, with serious preparations occurring 2 years before. As a result, when Y2K finally happened, only minor inconveniences and website errors were reported.

In other instances, we don’t respond as well. There were 36 warnings about 9/11, as early as 1994, with 22 in 2001 alone. With all those warnings (including one that said “tomorrow is zero hour” received on 9/10), we still missed preventing a tragedy that resulted in 2,996 deaths.

What’s Wrong With End-Time Warning?

* Some Refuse To See It ~ Matthew 24:36-39

  • 36 Refer: vs 29-35; these are references to Isaiah 13&24; and Joel 2: the Day of the Lord is a subject that Israel knows about; Jesus warns His listeners that the Fall of Jerusalem is the end of their world as they know it. AFTER that (not “immediately”, but later) will the final gathering and judgment at the end of the Day of the Lord occur. Since ONLY the Father knows when that is, don’t obsess about the timing of it
  • 37 it took Noah 55-75 years to build the Ark; his neighbors MUST have noticed! (lots of warning time)
  • 38/39 but they don’t pay attention; they hear but do not listen, they see but do not understand (cf. Isa 6) (NOT ALL WILL RESPOND)

* Some Selected To Receive It ~ Matthew 24:40-44

  • 40 When the Trumpet is sounded, only SOME will respond to the call
  • 41 God knows whom He will elect and collect
  • 42 WE do NOT know when the Call will be sounded: WATCH!
  • 43/44 implication: The Day will END with the Trumpet (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thes. 4:15-17) (NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED)

Bigger Picture: not *just* about the Fall of Jerusalem; about the end of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2). Good news for us who already know we’re going to be with the Lord – not necessarily bad news for others, because THERE’S STILL TIME TO TRUST… until there ISN’T. Only God knows how much sand is left in the Divine Hourglass…

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.

You’d Better Believe It – God Prepares His People

You’d Better Believe It – God Prepares His People

Luke 1:11-25

Small Details in the story can be crucial; more than just window dressing, often they clue us in to the nature of the story itself.

Zechariah’s story helps us notice:

God Is At Work Before We Realize It ~ Luke 1:11-17

  • 11 background synopsis 12/13 God IS listening!
  • 14/15 God plans for us
  • 16/17 John is promised preparer of Messiah: he is the type of Elijah (not reincarnation, but homage)

God Is At Work Before We’re Ready For It  ~ Luke 1:18-25

  • 18 a reasonable question: am I imagining this? How do I know this to be true?
  • 19/20 not a punishment, but verification
  • 21/22 Sometimes we don’t have the words to describe what God has done in us: MAKE SIGNS
  • 23/25 Recognize the Lord is at work in us

As we consider Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story, we see it leads into John the Baptist’s origin story. It gives us context as to what God ended up doing in John’s life. Consider your OWN context: what clues might be there, often unnoticed, that God is preparing YOU for something?

Lingering in Worship: Preparing

Lingering in Worship: Preparing

Ezra 8:21-23; 1 Peter 1:13-19

Quick refresher: Ezra is about rebuilding the Temple after the nation of Israel returns from exile. Ezra the priest shows up in chapter 7, introduces himself to the reader, and then moves the narrative along in chapter 8. He knew the newly rebuilt temple would need ministers, so he calls Levites together to staff the ministry. Then he has to move them to the Temple grounds, through hostile territory.

Prepare for Worship? We Need To Get Our

Heart Smart ~ Ezra 8:21-23

  • 21 FASTING isn’t to convince God of your sincerity; it’s to remind YOU to live in HUMILITY BEFORE GOD
  • 22 inconvenient truth: if you BRAG about God’s provision, you’d better be ready to depend upon it
  • 23 Is this FORCING God to answer the way we want? No – it might be forcing us to LISTEN better, though

Mind Aligned ~ 1 Peter 1:13-19

  • 13 not FOR salvation, but BECAUSE OF salvation
  • 14/16 one sentence: don’t shape your life by your old values; use Jesus’ life as your template: be holy Gk. “up and down, back and forth”
  • 17 live carefully, impartially (like God): THIS TAKES PREP WORK
  • 18/19 You are REDEEMED: not a purchased slave, but a cleansed child of God

We say that “liturgy/worship” is the work of the people. This work can be joyful, fulfilling, and life-changing. It just takes some preparation to get the most out of it.

Snapshots from Mark: Stay Awake

Snapshots from Mark: Stay Awake Sermon Audio Here

Mark 13:24-37

I found this WONDERFUL way to remind myself of things: WakeUpDialer.com Just listen… Now, wouldn’t it be great if God gave us wake-up calls? Well…

Jesus Gives Us All A Wake-Up Call:

A Call For Caution ~ Mark 13:24-27

  • 24 This refers to The Day Of The Lord cf. Isa. 13:9-10
  • 25 CODE: not actual destruction of stellar objects; language used to denote the end of a ruling era (cf Ezk. 32; Amos 8; Joel 2 – diff. Kingdoms, same ending language)
  • 26 God WILL REIGN (cf. Dan 7:13)
  • 27 cf Deut 30:3-6 (God will gather & restore His people);
  •    Jer. 32:37 (God will bring us back to Himself);
  •    Ezk 34:13, 36:24 (God will bring His people to His land);
  •    Zech 2:6 (God scattered His people to the ends of the earth because of their disobedience, and He calls them back home)

A Call To Clarity ~ Mark 13:28-31

  • 28/29 Cause and effect: summer follows winter; God’s plans bear fruit
  • 30/31 “this generation” = within the lifetime of His followers. A.D. 70 certainly was; hold onto Jesus’ enduring word

A Call Of Self-Control ~ Mark 13:32-37

  • 32 that Day under control of the Father
  • 33/34 each with his assigned task: God has tasked US to be His servants
  • 35 four watches of the night, 6pm-6am
  • 36/37 “to watch for him is to… use the time that remains before his coming in the work of winning others for him. It is to recognize him gratefully in his intermediate comings in the persons of the least of his brethren.”1

We do not need to wait until Jesus’ return to live as Kingdom people NOW.

1. (Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary; St. Mark, by C.E.B. Cranfield, p. 412)

Snapshots from Mark: Listen Carefully

Snapshots from Mark: Listen Carefully Sermon Audio Here

Mark 13:1-13

Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie: the ending is ODD; they wanted to film a battle, but ran out of money, so they just had the police show up and shut down the movie. It was completely unexpected and out of “character”. Do you realize that God will, essentially, do the same thing? End everything in an unexpected way?

How Do We Prepare For THE End?

Teaching Moments on Time ~ Mark 13:1-4

  • 1 disciples caught up in appreciation of human achievement
  • 2 warning: human achievement won’t last
  • 3/4 disciples: end of the world is SOON?

End of the World Warnings ~ Mark 13:5-8

  • 5 some WILL try to deceive
  • 6 some WILL attempt to misuse Jesus’ name
  • 7 “end is still to come” There is MORE THAN ONE ENDING:
    • 1) Jerusalem (where the Temple was)
    • 2) The Day of the Lord, from Joel, Amos, Zephaniah
  • 8 This is probably reference to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; (Scholars note that between this prophecy by Jesus in A.D. 30 (or 29) and the destruction of Jerusalem there were at least 4 earthquakes and 4 famines)

Acts of Proof ~ Mark 13:9-13

  • 9 Acts 5: apostles arrested & flogged; Acts 23: Paul handed over to Governor Felix
  • 10 Acts 2: gospel preached to people from all over Empire (“all nations”)
  • 11 Acts 23: Paul speaks at his trial
  • 12 Emperor Domitian, in his hatred of the Christian name, slew cousin and niece; Emperor Diocletian slew his own wife, and other relatives.
  • 13 “be saved” not spiritual salvation, but will escape the destruction of Jerusalem (Greek tense gives this away)

Jesus sits His disciples down to show them the ending is NOT like what they assume; He still does that for us today. We live our lives like actors in a play THAT IS STILL BEING WRITTEN. What a joy that the Lord knows how the End will play out – and what our part will be.


Pastor Ed Backell

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