Church Newsletter 2018-11-7

Saints,

I pray that your week is going well and that the joy and grace of Jesus is as obvious in your life as it is abundant. May His face shine upon you and give you peace.

Filling up the edges

They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the LORD’s food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. – Leviticus 21:6

The priests of Yahweh were to be holy for they were His table servants. They offered God His bread. And what was that bread? The sacrifices of the people of Israel. The table of the Lord was about fellowship, forgiveness and fruit; food.

The Lord ate with sinners who slew lambs and birds as propitiation for their sins and shared that meal with God. But there aren’t enough birds and lambs in all of creation to cleanse our filth, so Jesus came in the flesh to be our final and forever propitiation. So we sit at His table and feast on Him.

This is what God’s mission to the world is all about. A sacrificial meal of God, signifying peace and fellowship between God and man, eaten in God’s presence with God’s family.

This grace quickly becomes the basis for an inner circle. Inner circles are what we all want so desperately. A seat at the adult table, the cool kid table, the table of exclusivity that reveals how awesome, intelligent and “with it,” we are.

C.S Lewis on how you get “in,” to the inner circle. “Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink or a cup of coffee, disguised as a triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still-just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naif, or a prig-the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which is not quite in accordance with the technical rules of fair play: something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”-and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure-something “we always do.” And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face-that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face-turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude: it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.”

Couple this with Gerard’s assertion that man desires a scapegoat, as much as he desires an inner circle, and you get an inner circle based on berating the “forces,” of darkness outside the circle who must be destroyed in order to restore peace and prosperity. But the problem isn’t “out there.” The problem is inside each one of us and its called our heart; the source of our will, affections and actions.

Mankind needs a scapegoat (Lev. 16:6-10). John the Baptizer recognized that this sacrifice, which takes the sin of the world away, is Jesus (John 1:29).

God never promised peace and prosperity this side of heaven. He made peace with you and is your ally in an all out war on sin. The Lord’s table is set amidst His enemies (Psalm 23:5). Jesus’ overflowing goodness, mercy and life will overflow our cup as we sit with Him at His feast table, even as the raging plotting nations nash their teeth and revile us.

Jesus offers us a seat at the table of His forgiveness. A table for the sick. The broken. The degenerate. The soulless. Everyone is sick, but not everyone knows it. Those who do, turn their hearts to heaven and find there, a command to sit, take and eat. Take and drink.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8

Around the worldwide web

A seven minute video on sacrifice and atonement for the whole family. These are good. Very, very good teaching tools.

https://thebibleproject.com/all-videos/biblical-themes/

Devotional

For steadfast faith JOHN 12: 35

O God, what would I be if you were to forsake me? What can I do if you withdraw your hand? What can I know if you do not enlighten me? How quickly the educated become infants; the prudent, simple; the wise, fools! How awesome you are in all your works and judgments! Let me walk in the light while I have light, so that I may not be caught in darkness. Many renounce their faith and become careless and weary in your grace. They are deceived into thinking they know everything and have no need. They feel satisfied and become slothful and ungrateful and are soon ruined. Therefore help me to remain in the fervor of faith, that I may daily increase in it through Jesus Christ, my real and only helper.

Amen.

Church Calendar

Service 11-11-18

Erik, Call

Nate, Prayer

DISCIPLESHIP CLASS: A SURVEY OF THE GOSPELS

Sunday mornings 9AM, through 11/18/18. Childcare provided for children 2-6. Kids aged 7 and up are encouraged to join the adult class.

LADIES’ FELLOWSHIP GATHERING

Wednesday, Nov 28, 7pm at Lannie Brown’s home. Tami will email out details

Church Newsletter 2018-10-31

Saints,

I pray that, as the fall gets going, the Lord grants us all good health. As a family we need to pray for one another as often as we can. We are scattered around the Puget Sound so, instead of a prayer meeting, I think it is important to hold a designated day of prayer as a church. So, on Thursday Mornings from 7am to 9am, we will hold a weekly prayer vigil. As often as life and work allow, between 7am and 9am, concentrate on praying for our community; both Redeemer and the city in which you live.

Pray for the Worship service, marriages, vocations, childrearing, health, stewardship and gratitude of Redeemer Church and your city. Write this list on a sticky and put up somewhere you can see it.

As we do this together, separately, we will actually be drawing closer to one another and the Father as a body. Prayer is the key to a healthy spiritual life and a healthy church. Praise and petition God. We are all sufferers and sinners, so together we need to grow stronger in this key spiritual discipline.

Blessings.  Continue reading “Church Newsletter 2018-10-31”

Being and Doing

Comment on Mark 1:35-39

Amid a whirlwind of activity, Jesus seeks a still point in prayer with the Father. There is a suggestive parallel in wording between Jesus going out to pray (v. 35) and his going out to preach and expel demons (v. 39). The work of the Son of God is both an inward and an outward work. Jesus cannot extend himself outward in compassion without first attending to the source of his mission and purpose with the Father; and, conversely, his oneness with the Father compels him outward in mission. The significance of Jesus’ ministry consists not simply in what he does for humanity, but equally in who he is in relation to the Father. Jesus is, according to Mark’s narrative, neither contemplative ascetic nor social activist. He does not promote an agenda but derives a ministry from a relationship with the Father. He is the Son, one in being with the Father; and the Servant, one in purpose with his will.

 Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 66). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.

Serving Like the Servant King

Mark 1:30–31 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

There is no other remedy like this one. Without a doubt, in emergencies the means God has provided should be pursued; doctors in times of sickness, lawyers in legal disputes, the help of friends and family. But the first thing and throughout, we should be crying out to the Lord. No one can heal us as effectually as Jesus can. None are as compassionate or ready to aid and relieve us.

Philippians 4:4–6 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

When Jacob was in need, he first turned to his God (Genesis 32:11). Hezekiah knew the only one capable to aid Israel, so he spread the letter of Sennacherib before the Lord (2 Kings 19:19). As soon as Lazarus fell ill, his sisters sent immediately to Jesus (John 11:2). This is the response of faith. When troubling circumstances befall us or our loved ones, turn to the one who has the compassion and authority to respond.

1 Peter 5:6–9 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

We are sinners and sufferers. The days of darkness are many and the valley of the shadow of death is long. Its no prophesying to say that our tears and doubts will be many before we die. But we are armed against despair before the day of trouble comes. Remember that in sickness, bereavement, loss or disappointment oppresses us that the deliver is at hand. Before the crown is the cross and we follow the Lord of Life, the nourishment of heaven; our daily bread.

Let us respond as the believers in Simon’s house at Capernaum, let us tell Jesus at once. Continue reading “Serving Like the Servant King”

We Wrestle with God Himself

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. – Genesis 32:24

John Calvin says…

Although this vision was particularly useful to Jacob himself, to teach him beforehand that many conflicts awaited him, and that he might certainly conclude that he should be the conqueror in them all; there is yet not the least doubt that the Lord exhibited, in his person, a specimen of the temptations — common to all his people — which await them, and must be constantly submitted to, in this transitory life. Wherefore it is right to keep in view this designs of the vision, which is to represent all the servants of God in this world as wrestlers; because the Lord exercises them with various kinds of conflicts. Moreover, it is not said that Satan, or any mortal man, wrestled with Jacob, but God himself: to teach us that our faith is tried by him; and whenever we are tempted, our business is truly with him, not only because we fight under his auspices, but because he, as an antagonist, descends into the arena to try our strength. This, though at first sight it seems absurd, experience and reason teaches us to be true. For as all prosperity flows from his goodness, so adversity is either the rod with which he corrects our sins, or the test of our faith and patience. And since there is no kind of temptations by which God does not try his faithful people, the similitude is very suitable, which represents him as coming, hand to hand, to combat with them. Therefore, what was once exhibited under a visible form to our father Jacob, is daily fulfilled in the individual members of the Church; namely, that, in their temptations, it is necessary for them to wrestle with God… For since God appeared under the form of a man, the name is thence assumed; just as, because of the visible symbol, the Spirit is called a dove; and, in turn, the name of the Spirit is transferred to the dove. That this disclosure was not sooner made to the holy man, I understand to be for this reason, because God had resolved to call him, as a soldier, robust and skillful in war, to more severe contests. For as raw recruits are spared, and young oxen are not immediately yoked to the plough; so the Lord more gently exercises his own people, until, having gathered strength, they become more inured to toil. Jacob, therefore, having been accustomed to bear sufferings, is now led forth to real war. Perhaps also, the Lord had reference to the conflict which was then approaching. But I think Jacob was admonished, at his very entrance on the promised land, that he was not there to expect a tranquil life for himself. For his return to his own country might seem to be a kind of release; and thus Jacob, like a soldier who had kept his term of service, would have given himself up to repose. Wherefore it was highly necessary for him to be taught what his future conditions should be. We, also, are to learn from him, that we must fight during the whole course of our life; lest any one, promising himself rest, should wilfully deceive himself. And this admonition is very needful for us; for we see how prone we are to sloth. Whence it arises, that we shall not only be thinking of a truce in perpetual war; but also of peace in the heat of the conflict, unless the Lord rouse us.

Don’t Look Back

Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

A person can only go in one direction at a time, just like he can only have one master at a time. Which way are you going? Who are you following?

We’d all say “following Christ,” of course, but lives can be compartmentalized. You are not facing forward all the time because you are still looking back to sinful pleasures of your former manner of life. .

Following Christ requires a long obedience in the same direction.

And as we keep our eyes set on the joy set before us, we are acted upon.

It’s through the back-breaking labor of sowing real seeds that God yields 10, 100 and 1000 times the produce. But a farmer plows by driving his plow in a long straight line, not weaving or doubling back over the same ground.

It’s by the turning of the head from the immodest women that God turns our heart wholly to our wife.

It’s in the regular habit of hospitality that true encouragement, belonging and generosity are found. It’s in the giving away that God ensures that you receive.

It’s in the self-denial that God gives Himself fully without reserve.

God says take this field and clear it of trees – roots and all. Clear away the rocks. Turn the earth. Scatter seeds and remove weeds and fertilize the soil. Eyes forward and stay on task.

He calls us to follow Him and to labor and instead of an obedient “yes, Lord,” our mouths are filled with questions as we look back toward Egypt.

We kick against the goads. Our work is sporadic and poorly done because its half-hearted.

So, when God says, “take this woman as your wife and lay your life down for her as Christ laid His down for you. Raise these children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Love one another as I have loved you. Be Holy as I am Holy. Make Disciples of the nations. Follow Me.”

Your mouth should not be full of questions.

He wants you to obey, knowing that in yourself it is impossible but that with Him all things are possible.

Christ has called you into a relationship with Himself that is transforming you mind and soul, spirit and essence into something like Himself.

For no other reason than the fact that He loves you.

And believing it is how it happens. Believing the one who promises to do it is how He does it.

Obeying the command to follow, putting our hand to the plow and not looking back but looking to the sky expectantly for the rain He promised, the rain that the whole venture depends upon.

This is discipleship; the process by which Jesus who came in the image and likeness of man is remaking us into the image and likeness of God.

Believing Jesus’ promises to do it is how He does it.

The Gospel in the Gospels

What is the Gospel?

The gospel is hard to distill down to its essence. Lots of things could be said about the Gospel and its implications. But how does one summarize it into a forceful, hopeful, prayerful, encouraging statement?

Before the word gospel referred to a book of the bible, It was a Greek word that referred to a message of good tidings issued from the lips of an appointed messenger.

We are accustomed to using the word all the time. Gospel worship. Gospel community. Gospel preaching. Gospel music. We know the first four books of the NT belong to a literary genre called gospel.

Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” So, here Mark is referring to the document He is writing, right, the Gospel according to Mark?

But that word referred to something before the four evangelists’ books were designated with it. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote accounts of the Gospel.

One Gospel. Four accounts. The Gospel according to…. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Accounts of what? The gospels are not biographies in the modern sense. A Gospel is a proclamation. A proclamation of what? By whom?

The distinction I want to make is that the Christian Gospel was originally a message delivered by an appointed messenger and the four books that begin the New Testament are hand written accounts of that one messenger and His message. The gospels, plural, are a literary genre – a gospel is a message of good tidings proclaimed by an anointed messenger.

The original anointed messenger of the Christian Gospel was Jesus. And His Gospel was that He, Jesus, the son of God, is king. Not just of heaven, but of earth.

The Christian Gospel is that Jesus is King.

This is an earth altering, worldview altering, cosmic message of joy. It’ what the Apostles were proclaiming in 2nd Corinthians 4:5–6 “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Those living in darkness and the shadow of death have seen a great light and that light is the king, the son of God – Jesus. Jesus was the first messenger of this good news and He was the message.

Before we continue, let’s review this word Gospel that we know so well. Like I said last week, the words the NT authors chose to use had a context in the original Hellenistic culture. Understanding how the words were used before and outside the NT can help us a great deal in our understanding of their use in the NT.

It was a strategic move to incorporate this specific word into the Christian message.

The word gospel, or evangel among the Romans, meant “joyful tidings,” and was associated with the cult of the emperor, whose ascent to the throne or great military victory was accompanied by a gospel proclamation.

A calendar inscription from about 9 B.C., found in Priene in Asia Minor, says of the emperor Augustus: “the birthday of the god was for the world the beginning of joyful tidings which have been proclaimed on his account.”

This inscription is remarkably similar to Mark’s initial line and it clarifies the essential content of an evangel in the ancient world: a Historical event which introduces a new setting for the world.”

Jesus’ proclamation of the coming of His kingdom in this world is the Christian Gospel.

Mark is writing one account of this world shattering news. The Roman world would have understood Jesus and then Mark’s use of this word, as both controversial and weird.

A poor Jewish on-time carpenter, traveling rabbi is a God? What affect could he possibly have on the world?

The use of the word Gospel by Jesus, is a tacit statement that His coming is an event that brings about a radically new state of affairs for mankind.

As biblical and historical scholar N.T. Wright sums up the evidence, “in the Greek world… a Gospel, is a regular technical term, referring to the announcement of a great victory, or to the birth, or assent of an emperor.” The point here is that a “gospel,” refers to a public announcement of glorious news about an emporer.

The gospel is not primarily about salvation. It’s not primarily about going to heaven. It’s not primarily about adoption as God’s children. All of those things are the fruit of the Gospel.

But the Gospel is not about you and your salvation. It’s about Jesus. Continue reading “The Gospel in the Gospels”