It was a pleasant afternoon. Jesus was inside a small home that was packed with people. He taught from a stool while the crowd packed around him. Some sat on the floor. Some kneeled close by and others stood in back as he taught.
It’s been an eventful week. Three separate shootings – in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas -- have captured the attention and the anger of our nation.
There have been protests against police and protests for the police.
Angry words on Facebook; angry videos on YouTube.
Anger at the police. Anger at racism. Anger at the media. Anger at the shooters.
Anger at white people. Anger at black people.
Anger at each other.
Originally this was going to be a series entirely on anger within a family – and I still plan on mentioning it – but the unfortunate events of the past week have left me convinced we need to examine this at a greater level. We need to examine this as a diverse family of God. If we want to continue living, growing, and serving North Raleigh together as a diverse community of believers – we need to discuss how God’s Word wants us to deal with anger – especially when it comes as the result of seemingly racist events.
Today we’re going to do three things:
(1) discuss the root of anger
(2) examine how God dealt with his anger
(3) learn how God wants us to express anger
Ready? Let’s pray to God and ask his blessing on this difficult discussion.
Strengthen us O Lord by the truth; your Word is truth. Remove our anger and hatred from our perceptions, O God. Instead, open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear. Open our hearts to believe what you want us to believe. Amen.
I. Getting to the Root of Anger
Our study of anger actually starts in John 2.
John 2 is very interesting. In it, there is yelling and shouting. Some people are waving their hands in desperation. Others are taking cover. The sheep are bleating. The cattle are stampeding. Money is being tossed to the ground; Tables are being flipped in the air. A whip is cracking and keeping all who were trying to stop the mayhem at bay.
It almost kinda sounds like an out of control protest.
But it’s not.
It’s Jesus...sweet, kind, mild mannered, turn the other cheek and let children come to him, Jesus.
(John 2:14-15) In the temple courts, Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of the cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
It’s one of the most interesting sections in the Bible. At first glance, it appears Jesus was in the wrong. He lost his temper and was seemingly violent.
But…Jesus is without sin. He’s God. Scripture is clear on that. 1 John 3:5 says, “In Jesus, there is no sin.” 2 Cor. 5:21 says, “Jesus… had no sin.’ 1 Peter calls him “a lamb without blemish or defect.”
And if what Jesus did was sinful here, He couldn’t have died for our sins. He would have had to die for his own sins. As it is, he rose from the dead proving that he didn’t sin – not any other time in his life – and not here either.
Reexamine the situation. The people at the temple had been using the temple to worship God. Right outside the doors of church – in the outer hallway – were all kinds of sellers and money changers (like a flea market in church). People were bartering and making sales. Customers were shouting at poor prices. Sellers were driving up the market. Greed and deception were replacing worship and meditation. These sellers were distracting people from the truth of Scripture. They were leading them from faith to unbelief.
They were distracting people to hell.
Can you understand why Jesus’ was angry? (Not wanting people in hell sounds like a righteous reason to me.)
Follow the logic then:
Jesus was angry.
Jesus was sinless.
Anger isn’t sinful.
So: Anger isn’t sinful; therefore I can be as angry as I want and it isn’t sinful.
Is that true? Can our anger be totally, completely righteous -
With God? Absolutely.
With humans? Probably not.
Ephesians 4:22 says this, “Put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” That’s an interesting phrase. Deceitful – as in – seems good, but isn’t. As in, seems righteous, but really isn’t.
I think that if ever there was a righteous reason to be angry, people not attending church to worship God seems like a perfect example of righteous anger. As a pastor – that’s a very common feeling. At about 3 in the afternoon as I’m going through attendance, I get angry that there weren’t more people there and I feel really righteous in that anger. I think, "Aren't I awesome God?"
But can I let you in on a secret? The devil loves to deceive pastors. He loves to deceive me. Too often my righteous anger isn’t, “because I’m concerned for spiritual welfare,” or “because God’s Word is at the bottom of your list, “ but, “God, I’m angry that these guys are making me look bad! You’re making me feel like an inadequate pastor. You’re making me feel unimportant.”
In other words – my anger looks righteous (I can even convince myself that it is) but that’s deceptive. In reality, my anger is selfish. Tainted by sin.
HERE’S THE TRUTH: Even the “righteous” anger of sinful humans is tainted by sin. It has to be.
Oranges produces orange juice. Apples produce apple juice. Avocados produces avocados juice.
Sinful humans produces sinful ways of looking at things.
This means – at the outset of your anger – whatever it is – even for the most righteous reasons – it will be tainted.
So. Stop and think about your anger. Is it righteous?
I’m angry that you didn’t take out the garbage – not because you are shirking responsibility, but because I’m going to have to get off of the couch and do it!
I’m angry that you spent all of our money in the budget, not because it’s bad stewardship of what God has given us, but because that’s not how I wanted to spend it.
I’m angry that my kids are disrespecting me, not because it means they are sinning, but because it makes me feel bad about my parenting!
I’m angry at the death of the police officers because I’m white. I don’t really have the same sadness over the death of the Mr. Sterling because “he probably deserved it.”
I’m angry at the death of those black men because I’m black; but I’m not angry at the loss of the policemen – because they’re jerks and they deserve it!
I’m angry at my friends who are insinuating that it’s hard to be a black person in America – not because it’s not true, but because it makes me feel bad as a white guy. (And I don’t like feeling bad.)
I’m angry at my friend who is sharing her anger about her cause, because I don’t think it’s important as my anger at this cause!
And so it goes.
And anger leads to more anger.
And the world is at war.
And the devil wins.
And angers divide his people.
And deceptive angers divides the family of God.
And here’s the thing, when you’re sinfully angry with others, God gets angry with you. Romans 1:8 says, “the Wrath of God is being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of people.”
He’s mad when you shout at your spouse, because you are harming your spouse, his child.
He’s mad when you call your brother names, because you are harming your brother, his child.
He’s mad when you tell mom that you “hate her,” because you are harming your mom, his child.
He’s mad when you call a person of a different race derogatory names, because you are harming His children.
He’s mad when you post nasty message on the wall of a friend who disagrees with you because you are harming His child.
He’s mad when you refuse to listen to a brother or sister from another culture tell you some of the struggles they are going through because you are sending a message of “I don’t care,” to someone he cares very much about – His child!
Ultimately, he’s mad at all of these racial anger driven sins, because just like other sins, they separate God from another one of his children...
II. How God Deals with Anger
So…How does God deal with anger against you?
This is a picture of a punching bag. They are these big old bags. Heavy and hard to move with a soft outer padding to absorb any and every attack that hits it. You can hit it as hard as you want and it doesn’t scream. It doesn’t shout. No one gets hurt. It absorbs every last ounce of your anger.
This is what God did with His wrath. He absorbed it. But not with a punching bag. Not with a pillow. Not even with a little sister.
He absorbed his own wrath with himself.
Romans 5:9 says this, “We shall be saved from God’s wrath through Jesus!” Because Jesus took the brunt of God’s wrath. He took a nail in his right hand; and a nail in his left. He took a spear in his side; he took his last breath. Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15:34) ” as the Triune God splintered Himself from Himself. The Father dumped his wrath against sin on his son and Jesus died.
But He came back to life. He rose because God’s wrath had been fully absorbed in his sacrifice and was no more.
It means that by faith in Jesus, God’s wrath against any racist anger has dissipated.
It means that by faith in Jesus, you will not be punished.
It means that by faith in Jesus, you will not suffer God’s anger against your sins.
You are forgiven. God’s wrath has dissipated. He won’t retaliate or get revenge. In fact, he’s protecting you because you are at peace with him.
III. WHAT NOW?
Take a look at Ephesians 4:24 “You were taught…to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ever been to the beach? If you have, then you know the beach loves to come home with you. It’ll be stuck between your toes, in your ears, and in your shoes. It’ll get in your car, on the floor, and in your seat. Three weeks later you may even find some in your ears. It’s really uncomfortable.
So what is a beach goer to do? Take a shower. Then, put on new clothes! Don’t put on your sandy clothes. That would make the shower worthless. Put on new clothes and remain clean.
Do the same spiritually. God has washed you clean from your angry, sinful past. He removed it from every part of you. From your clenched fists to your gnashing teeth, from your spiteful thoughts to hateful heart, God has washed you clean.
Put on the new self. The selfish, angry way? That’s the sinful way of the past way. God has made you new and he wants you to follow a new way in dealing with anger. Ephesians teaches us about this new self:
(1) In your Anger Don’t Sin
In verse 22 Paul says this, “In your anger, do not sin.” It’s an interesting statement. It means that if you had a 100% pure, completely absolutely righteous in every way reason to be angry (tough as that might be) – you still need to be careful and not sin.
Say your brother upsets you. What are some sinful ways to let out anger against him? Punch him. Call him a name. Break his stuff. Tell them you “hate them.” Refuse to talk to him.
Remember God’s reaction to his anger? He suffered bitterly on the cross to make everything right between you two again. God was angry, but channeled that anger into a loving action.
Do the same. Channel your anger into a loving action. Talk about it. Write a note about it. Consult God’s Word about it. Pray about it. If you are really angry, pray really hard about it until your emotional anger lessens.
The result? There’s not another sin for anyone to get angry at. Emotions fade. That’s a good thing.
(2) Get Rid of Footholds
Ephesians 4:27 says this, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold." Footholds are for climbing; festering anger allows the devil to climb right into your life and destroy your family.
He can do it with the smallest thing. Like a tube of toothpaste. As in, it makes you angry that your spouse leaves the cap off to make it “easier” to get to. It might seem like a minor annoyance at first, but over time…day after day of putting the cap back on – day after day of muttering under your breath…day after day of storing up anger – until the devil climbs up these tiny footholds of minty freshness and BOOM! Anger! Shouting! Destruction!
Don’t let it get that far. Talk about the point of tension as soon as possible.
This is true with your friends of a different race. If you let your anger get the best of you and you can feel the tension between you – you need to talk about it. Invite them out for coffee. Meet them at the gym. Message them on Facebook.
(3) Be Kind and Compassionate
And when you do talk about it? Do so in a Godly manner. Ephesians 4:31-32 says this, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
The natural impulse is to pick up your weapons of anger in order to defend yourself. Be bitter to defend yourself against the bitterness of others. Be filled with rage as a defense mechanism against feeling bad that someone might have a legitimate beef with you.
But God says, put those sharp weapons away. Instead get out kindness – which seems a lot like bringing a pillow to a sword fight.
But remember: That’s how God dealt with anger! Remember? He laid down his wrath. He went to the cross. He absorbed His wrath. He absorbed your sins. Because that’s what kindness and compassion does. It absorbs wrath. It absorbs anger. It absorbs bitterness.
Even when it comes to race.
We need compassion right now. The media says the opposite. It says you should arm yourself with anger and fighting words -- ready to defend yourself. Rage in one hand – malice in the other. Ready for any attack against me and my color/me and my culture.
Put that away. Listen to their fears. Listen to their concerns. Consider – just for a moment – that your brother or sister in Christ – may have very different experiences from you and very real feelings about those experiences. Listen and be compassionate.
When you are listening with kindness and compassion, you’ll notice something:
That terror in the sound of the Alton Sterling’s wife -- it sounds very similar to the raw emotion in the voice of Nina—a wife of a slain Dallas cop.
The fear in the voice of the black man at the protest is very similar to the fear in the voice of the young cop protecting the protest.
The sadness in the voice of your friend is very similar to yours.
And when you realize that -- you’ll also realize that you have the answer -- the same answer that calms your fears -- the same answer that gives you peace - the same answer that settles your anger:
I was standing in line at Kroger the other day and there it was – right next to the package of Certs and Three Musketeer King Size bars that are about the size of an actual king’s scepter.
Improve your Intimacy Now! -- 5 Rules for Better Sex -- Secrets of the Bedroom: How to Connect with Him Better.
I’m not alone in this, am I? There’s at least one of those assertions on the front of every Cosmopolitan. As if intimacy could be achieved by a quick top ten list or the $3.99 magazine that I was going to use on a bag of Doritos.
Fear not. The truth about intimacy is not found on the grocery store aisle shelf. It’s found on the little shelf in the back of the pew in front of you. (Or on your shelf at home.)
I. True Intimacy isn’t about You
The section of God’s Word that we’re looking at today starts in 1 Corinthians 6. It begins in verse 12 by helping us to understand the attitude of the times. This is kind of the way that Corinthian society viewed sexuality and unfortunately it’s the way that many in the Corinthian church viewed sexuality. In fact, it’s in quotation marks in your Bibles because scholars are pretty well convinced that this was a catchphrase of the 1st century day. If there would have been hashtags back then, there would be all kinds of people hashtagging the first part of verse 12.
“Everything is permissible for me.” #EverythingIsPermissable
The idea is pretty simple. If it’s legal in Corinthian culture, then why not do it? Stop being burdened by moral laws and start doing whatever makes you feel good. What do you think? Does that sound familiar?
But listen to the Bible’s objection:
Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. In other words, “Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s good.”
Just cause it’s legal to sleep with a cactus in bed, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Just cause you won’t go to jail for emailing your boss that he’s a no-good-scuzzer-muffin, doesn’t mean you should call him a no-good-scuzzer-muffin.
Just cause you won’t be arrested for drinking the Kool Aid made by your preschoolers with 9 more times the amount of sugar than normal, it does not mean that you should do it!
Just cause doing something sexual with someone you aren’t married to feels good, does not mean it is good.
For your relationship with God.
Look at the next reason that the Bible has for not just doing whatever you want sexually. Paul says, “Everything is permissible to me, but I will not be mastered by anything!”
Thing is: It’s so very easy for sexuality to become your master.
That guy’s no good for me. He beats me. He bad mouths me. He hates that I’m a Christian. But…I really love sleeping with him. So I’ll stay with him.
That was nice looking at porn. Now to spend hours making sure that every bit of it is deleted from the internet history.
I could put my marriage and my job in jeopardy by flirting with this coworker. Oh well. I’ve gotta obey my desires.
That’s the problem. When you’re obeying your own desires, than the only one you’re intimately connected with…is yourself.
Let me say that again. If you are only obeying your own sexual desires, then you are becoming most intimately connected with yourself.
Not with God.
Not with your spouse.
Just yourself and your sin.
One more passage: 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” That’s what we read last week in Genesis 2:24. It’s the blueprint for marriage that husband and wife become one together. That they become so intimately connected that you can’t tell where one starts and the other ends.
What’s it like to become one with sin?
What’s it like to introduce people to porn as your spouse?
What’s it like to run all your decisions through your own sexual addiction?
What’s it like to be so connected with adultery that when you look in the mirror that you don’t see anything else but that?
Lonely. Guilt filled. Far outside the kingdom of God.
II. True Intimacy Starts with God
Kind of like the woman in the Gospel Lesson:
That’s what the men called her. That’s what they were shouting at her. “Adulterous!” “Sinner.” “Death.”
With tears in her eyes, she fell to the ground. A cloud of dust hit the air. It’s what she deserved though. She had sinned. She had broken up someone else’s marriage. Everyone would now. She might be better off dead.
She heart them shouting in the background! “Jesus! Get over here.” “Jesus, join us!” “Jesus, she sinned…won’t you help us condemn her!?!”
Then, it was quiet. She heard whispering, but she didn’t dare look up. She waited. Waited for her impending doom. But it didn’t come. She waited and waited and waited. Nothing.
Then, she felt a gentle voice beckon to her. She looked up. “Woman, has anyone condemned you?”
She looked around. All the angry men were gone. Nowhere to be found. “No. I don’t think so sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.”
If you have been like the woman. If you have let your desire get the best of you. If you have sinned, sexually. Fall at his feet and hear his voice: “Neither do I condemn you.”
And understand this: You were meant for so much more than that. Take a look at 13-14: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
Do you get that? You were meant for the Lord. You were meant for the divine Creator of heaven and earth. He wanted you to become intimately connected with him. He didn’t want you connected with a momentary high OR the excitement of a glance combined with the guilty aftermath. God wanted you connected with his divinity, with his holiness, with his wisdom, with his incredible, love!
When we have failed to give up our bodies for the Lord, that’s about the time that He gave ups his body for you. In fact, take a look at this truth:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.
Have you heard of the Antilla? It’s a 27 story high skyscraper owned by Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani. It’s huge. It has a garage with room for 168 cars. The lobby alone has nine elevators. It’s estimated at 1 billion dollars!
That’s nothing compared to what God paid for you. He paid his eternal blood.
Do you get that? It’d be as if you went on Zillow or were searching in the real estate ads and there was your Facebook picture. With a list of all the qualities you have – disgusting sinfulness, awful sexual sins from the past, up in the attic are all kinds of skeletons, and what’s under the carpet? Don’t ask.
And God said. Yes. I’ll have that! I will make an eternal, infinite, everlasting deposit of my holy, precious blood so that I can put my name on the deed and she will be mine forever.
That’s how much God loves you.
It means whatever your past – whatever your struggle with sexuality – whatever your devotion to your own public intimacy – God still paid for you. He paid to free you from that master’s clutches. He owns you and that sin doesn’t.
You are forgiven.
III. WHAT NOW?
The more you understand God's forgiveness, the more confidence you will have in God’s love. You’ll stop worrying about yourself and what you need to feel good about yourself and instead… you will start to give over every aspect of yourself – to your spouse.
(1) Reserve Yourself for Your Spouse.
Take a look at 1 Corinthians 7:2-4:
Since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.
Focus in on marital duty. What’s that? Are we talking about the Honey-Do-List? Are we talking about doing the budget? Are we talking about cooking meals? Are we talking about refusing to call the plumber, because ‘they cost too much and all I need to do is YouTube it and I’m sure I can figure it out!”
Nope. Marital duty is Paul’s polite term for sexual intimacy. The beautiful, physical, literal expression of two becoming one.
I know. What the Bible is proposing here is the exact opposite of what our world proposes. Because it is so common for sexual intimacy to be all about when I feel like it and when I want it. But God is telling us to be all about your spouse or your future spouse. Isn’t that something? It means you keep your spouse in mind when temptation comes.
I’m sorry. I can’t do that. That will harm my future spouse.
Honey, I’ll stay away from that guy since he makes you uncomfortable.
I will not look at my coworker like that, because I want to reserve that kind of look for my wife.
(2) Become an Expert In Your Spouse
Guys love to be experts in sports. We love to quote batting averages and drop the names of players from over 40 years ago, just to show off. In fact, I remember back in grade school – trying hard to fit in—and spending each day trying to memorize the stats in the Watertown Daily Times just to be an expert in whatever sport was going on at that time.
What if we put the same effort into learning about our spouse? What if we learned about their likes and dislikes? What if we asked them about their favorite color, favorite ice cream flavor and favorite Backstreet Boy? It’s what God has called us to do! To know them and learn them intimately.
But, pastor, what about my needs? Doesn’t God care about them?
Don’t worry about it. Because in the perfect version of this—guess what? The husband is thinking about his wife’s needs. The wife is thinking about her husband's needs. And their needs are both—taken care of—because God is taking care of them through each other.
God’s smart, right?
He’s smart and he loves you. Which is more than just a witty conclusion to this whole sermon. It’s the truth. He loves you more than you. He loves your spouse more than you do. He knows you more than you. He knows your spouse more than you.
He know you’ll be happiest when you’re intimately connected to him and one another.
Ever heard of MELT?
It’s an online video service that teaches you how to give massage. The premise is that if you are really good at massage, then you’ll be able to destress your spouse and your family will grow close. The premise is that massage is the key to a success family dynamic.
So we tried it out! Julianna and I did a head massage video for a date night. We learned how to dig our fingers into the back of the neck, the importance of rubbing behind the temples, and even how to do a proper eyebrow massage.
It was awesome.
But, then, I got an email the other day from the founder. The guy in the video who talks about how massage giving has given his wife and him a strong relationship, guess what? They’re getting divorced.
Apparently massage isn’t the key principle to having a happy family life.
To be fair, no one really seems to have the answer. If you searched on Google for “How to Improve Your Family Life” a bunch of very different pages would come up. Blog post after blog post, top five list after top ten list, each telling you something different: You need better communication. Better looks. Better intelligence. Better health for your whole family. Better cooking and your husband will love you. Better romance and your wife will love you. Better discipline and your kids will love you and we will tell you how to do it, for only 3 easy payments of $9.99!
But, maybe, instead of listening to people with imperfect family lives tell us what’s most important in family life…Maybe, we should listen to the One who invented family: God Himself.
Last week we started our series called Family Matters and we built a foundation for our talks on God’s own family dynamic. Remember last week we learned that (1) sin separated God’s family (2) God achieved unity in Jesus (3) God really, really, really wants you in his family AND (4) God’s family is all about grace.
We’re going to build on that this week by learning from God’s family how to improve our own family life. Today we want to identify the Key Biblical principle for having a solid, godly family life. Before we do, let’s say a prayer:
O Lord, strengthen by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see about our own family lives; to hear what you want us to hear about how to improve our family lives and to believe what you want us to believe about being in your family. Amen.
I. What is the Key?
Check out 1 Corinthians 13. It’s a part of a letter that was written to a congregation of believers in a place called Corinth. Granted the Corinthians weren’t a biological family. But they were a spiritual family. Just like regular families, this spiritual family had its share of family problems.
At that time, the church was experiencing a brand new phenomena. Speaking in tongues was a common thing. Ever heard of it? Speaking in tongues was a special gift from God given to the early New Testament church. It was a heavenly language that one didn’t really understand. I could give you some examples but it would just appear to be babbling. Still, it was important because it was proof that Jesus hadn’t abandoned the church and the Holy Spirit was with them.
But some people saw it as more important than that. Some saw it as proof that they were better Christians. “You know son, the real proof of being a Christian, isn’t confessing your faith in Jesus OR showing love to your neighbor; it’s speaking in tongues. Which – I’m awesome at that.”
How do you think the people who couldn’t speak in tongues reacted? They were jealous! Immediately they started to promote another, more important characteristic in God’s family. It just so happened to be whatever they were good at.
“Actually the most important thing for a successful church family is music!”
“Nope! It’s saying really good prayers. You can talk to me for how to do it best.”
“Well, I think that baking good fellowship cookies is best. And based on what you’re eating right now, I’d say you agree.”
Paul hears about this argument. He’s the one who started this church, their founding pastor. He decides to weigh in. Which is kind of a big deal. Everyone is waiting to find out what Paul thinks is most important – I’m sure he’ll vote for friendliness, I’m awesome at it.
Listen to his response from 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have LOVE, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have LOVE, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have LOVE, I gain nothing.
Do you like cymbals? Actually the Greek says, “repetitively clanging brass.” Do any of you have that for your ringtone? As your Pandora station? Is that your favorite station on the radio: “Just hit cymbal music. All the time. Any time.”
Cymbals are loud. They are brash. They are obnoxious. With the exception of the one music note that the one cymbal player plays once in thousands of measures of music – the cymbal isn’t all that luxurious sounding. It’s more of an obnoxious alarm clock than anything else.
Paul says that’s what our family skills and all of our communications are like without love. Obnoxious.
The dad who keeps talking about how much money he makes for you kids so leave me alone. Obnoxious. The mom who tells teenager time and again all the wisdom she learned as a mom and how she knows what she’s talking about because it makes her feel a bit better about her past decision. Obnoxious.
I make so much money for this family you should be more thankful thankful. Cymbal clash.
I learned this from the 47 parenting books that I read, I’m a good mom listen to me. Cymbal clash.
Mom, fine; I love you too, just leave me and my friends alone. Cymbal clash.
I worked so hard making this meal. You should all appreciate this more. It’ll help me feel better. Cymbal clash.
Honey I said, I love you. Now, let me go back to watching the game. Cymbal clash. Obnoxious cymbal clash.
Notice the tone.
Notice the lack of love.
Without love, it doesn’t matter how wise you are. It doesn’t matter how many tongues you speak in. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how good your looks are, how healthy your body is, or how many books about parenting that you own.
You’re nothing, because you are neglecting the most important principle, love. Without love, even the most incredible skills and assets in family life are worthless.
But, on the other hand, the addition of love to imperfect skills or talents, can transform the whole thing:
The coloring page that says “I love you Mommy” all outside the lines – goes on the fridge. Beautiful.
The car window that was broken, but after countless hours in the garage – goes up – slowly and with a squeak – gets a heart: “Thank you.” Beautiful.
The spaghetti sauce that tastes about as salty as the Atlantic Ocean gets a “Thank you for working so hard on this, Mom.” Beautiful.
Love is the key.
II. Defining Love
But what is love? If you’ve ever watched Disney movies before you might be under the impression that love is this burst into song type feeling. Love means that bluebirds follow you everywhere you go, you defeat the evil sorcerer, and burst into songs together throughout the day. Love means happily ever after.
But is that true?
What happens when Snow White isn’t under a sleeping potion and is just lazy?
Or when Cinderella suddenly becomes materialistic?
What happens when Prince Charming is no longer charming?
Is there still love? Is love over? The feeling is gone.
That’s not how God describes love. It isn’t a feeling or an emotion. Listen to how God describes love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Notice. Nowhere in that verse does Paul describe love as a feeling. Nowhere does he describe it as a dream. Nowhere does he describe it as fireworks in the sky while zooming through Agrabah on a magic carpet. Love is an action. It works through difficult times. It acts even when it’s recipient is undeserving!
Take Jesus. In today’s Gospel lesson he comes across a guy with leprosy. Leprosy is disgusting. It’s a terrible disease. When you have leprosy, your skin slowly begins to rot. It turns pale white. It dries up and falls off. You lose the tips of your fingers and the cartilage in your nose. You slowly die.
Because it’s so contagious (and because it’s kind of hard to look at), people avoid you. At the time of Jesus, you were quarantined. Destined to live your life on the outskirts of town. That’s what the man in Luke 5 was experiencing. A slow, lonely, hard to look at, impossible to be with, existence.
Jesus approached him. Jesus spoke to him. Jesus touched him. Jesus healed him. And all of this for an untouchable of society! For someone unloveable. It wasn’t when this man had lots of money, had his life all together and was a cool dude to hang out with that Jesus met with him, but when his nose was missing, stench was growing, and his spirit was bitter and hardened! Jesus showed active love when the man was unlovable.
But that’s not the only time Jesus did that. That’s not the only untouchable, unlovable that Jesus showed love to.
He also showed it to you.
Think for a moment about yourself. Be very real. Think about all the most unlovable things about yourself. Things others have told you. Things you would never tell others about. The pride. The vengeance. The sick as a dog drunkenness. The repetitive pornographic viewing. The adultery – all four times it happened.
Got that picture?
Understand this: That’s who Jesus died for! Not for the social media version of yourself, but for the real, awful, ugly part! It wasn’t romantic. Jesus wasn’t feeling the love. There wasn’t beautiful, soft sonnets playing in the background while you were on a date.
But Jesus died for you the worst of you on the cross.
Get this picture:
He wasn’t dying for his bride dressed in a beautiful gown on our wedding day, but for the angry, vengeful, jaded woman who just finished telling him what an awful Savior he has been. He wasn’t dying for the kind, tuxedoed gentleman on the first date, but for the belligerent, beer drinking, scumbag on the couch.
He wasn’t dying for that peacefully sleeping child who just said, “I love you,” but for the shouting, swearing, door slamming teen who said, “I hate you!”
In fact, that’s exactly what Scripture tells us is the definition of love: 1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. It’s a love that defeats bitterness. A love that defeats hatred. A love that defeats all of the awful things that make our families less than perfect. A love that goes through the worst – a slow, painful death on the cross – for the worst – us.
That’s the kind of love that made you a part of God’s family.
That’s the kind of love we ought to have in our families.
III. WHAT NOW?
(A) Stop Obsessing Over Lesser Gifts
How do you choose a doctor? Is it based on what kind of magazines he has in his waiting room? Is it based on how great of a knowledge he has of Duke Basketball? Is it based on whether or not he has a degree in from the culinary school of the arts?
No. Those things are unimportant for the job he wants to accomplish. We don’t obsess over them, because they are peripheral.
Why not do the same thing in our live? There’s plenty of societal expectations out there. Social media loves to remind us of them: Be a more beautiful. Be better at discipline. Be more romantic. Make more money. Be more athletic. Be a better student. Be more relaxing.
But these are lesser gifts. They aren’t bad, but it is bad to make them more important than the greatest gift: Love.
(B) Pursue the Greatest Gift
1 Corinthians 12:31 says this, “Eagerly desire the greater gifts...”
1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “The greatest of these is love…”
1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.”
Pursue the greatest gift. Pursue love.
Do you want your family to grow in love? Obsess over God! It’s that simply. Because in God you see incredible, undeserved, unfailing love. You hear about his love for you, it motivates you to show that love for others.
So, obsess over Him personally. Make Bible time a can’t miss part of your morning. Make midday prayer an essential part of your day. Find a group to study the Bible with. Make church a can’t miss opportunity! Obsess over God, because that’s how you grow in love.
And obsess over him as a family. Make family devotion a priority. Make church a family activity. Talk about God together more than you talk about Justin Bieber and Transformers.
Obsess over God because God is love.
Love is key.
God is key.
For having a godly family.
For being a part of His family.
Afterall, God invented family. Why would we expect anything less? Amen.
The people who are always there for you. The people who always support you. The people who guide you, love you, and deal with you even when you’re not at your greatest.
The people who every once in awhile can get a bit annoying. The people who grab your toothbrush, use it, and don’t even know it enough to dry it off and hide the evidence. The people who don’t show up at the piano recital, just like they do at all piano recitals, when they said that this time would be different and they were really going to be at the piano recital. The people who whine and complain that they don’t have the iPhone and when you finally buy them the new iPhone they whine and complain that it isn’t the NEW, new iPhone. The people who, when you sit down with a beer and some chips to watch the recording of the NASCAR race, feign innocence when the only available recorded shows are the last three episode of The Bachelorette!
Yes, family .The people who are always there for you which means they’re always there.
It’s amazing how when you talk to different people, you will get a lot of different thoughts about family. Some like it. Some hate it. The distinct difference is most likely related to their own family dynamic – growing up or currently.
Who’s right? Is family good? Is family bad? Is it just sometimes ok, but mostly annoying?
This morning we are starting a sermon series all about family. We’re going to take a look at what it takes to have a happy, blessed family in this modern era. In order to get to that, we need to see what God has to say about it. He is the one who invited family. But before we listen to God’s principles of family life, we need to first understand where God is coming from. We need to understand God’s Family Dynamic.
I. God Loves A United Family
Take a look at Luke 15 beginning at verse 11. This is a section where Jesus tells a quick story to give us a glimpse into the kingdom of God. Kingdom of God is a phrase that Jesus uses interchangeably to talk about his family. In this parable, Jesus wants us to understand what it’s like to be a part of the family of God.
Jesus said this, “A man had two sons” For years, they were a happy family. Dad owned a big farm that made them a lot of money. Every night they had home cooked meals. Dad wrestled with them after dinner. He loved giving them both noogies after lunch. They took turns grabbing his nose and hiding it from him. He paid for them to try out soccer, then karate, then baseball, and even Harry Potter camp. He tucked them in for bed, read them a Bible story, and prayed for God their souls to keep.
Then, they got older. As they got older, the younger son grew restless. He wanted to live out there in the world. He wanted to be to the places he had seen on the TV. He wanted do the things that he heard the guys in his father’s work crew talk about being. He was disenfranchised.
One day, he had enough. The younger son said to his Father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” There was no asking. No wondering dad’s thoughts on the matter. No “can I borrow a dollar for the vending machine.” Just a demand.
Give me money, Dad. I’m sick of this place. I’m sick of this boring existence. I’m sick of being in this family. I’m sick and tired of being your son. Give me money so I get out of this hellhole.
And Dad, he teared up. He fought back sobs. He went to his hiding place and returned with the son’s inheritance.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, he set off for a distant country and there he squandered his wealth in wild living. He bought an apartment high rise in downtown Raleigh. He made sure it was close to the local bar. He went out the first night and spent his money on a fine steak, top shelf Grey Goose Vodka, and $9 dollar local brew after $9 local brew.
One night grew into every night. He developed some friends. Friends who showed him where to score some drugs. Friends who showed him where to find the best strippers. Friends who knew where the good prostitutes were located.
He fell in love with one of them. She fell in love with his money. She made him buy her diamonds, Gucci dresses, and the finest wines. After he had enough of her, he tried men – spending enough money at the local gay bar to pick up a new guy each night.
Until one day – one day when it all ended. Relationships ended. Friends ended. The fancy meals and top shelf booze ended.
It ended because the money ended.
Soon the young man wasn’t even able to pay the rent. He was facing eviction. Soon to be homeless. Down to nothing more than a few dried up bags of Ramen noodles.
15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. Fixing the slop. Feeding the pigs. Spending each minute of daylight walking around in the filthy, disgusting, foul smelling mess of a bunch of hogs.
Thing is. The guy was so hungry that even the moldy apples with the rotten strings of banana wrapped around them, drizzled in fresh pig saliva looked like the fancy steaks he had been eating.
Then, he snapped out of it. 17 He came to his senses & said, “What am I doing? I had it so good. I was fed. I was clothed. I was cared for. I was loved. Now here I am starving to death. 18 I will go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants. Because even if I am lowest of the low – the servant in charge of cleaning the restrooms at my dad’s ranch, at least...at least it’d be way better than this.
20 So he got up and went to his father. He packed the few things he had left – an old ball cap, a broken wallet, and a sponge he used to clean himself. He put them in a bag and made his way back home.
As he got close, a feeling started generating within his stomach. It was small at first – tense. Then, it grew. It grew and grew as he nervously anticipated what it would be like to see his Dad again.
I told you so. You ungrateful, little worm. You dare come back to me after the way you had spoken to me!?! Get out. You were done with me; now I’m done with you.
A tear formed in the young man’s eyes.
Then, off in the distance. He saw him. He saw the figure of his father. He saw his father approaching him – slowly at first; then quickly. As the recognizable shape of his dad got closer, the nervousness grew. His dad got closer and he raised his arm into the air.
The son winced.
His father’s giant paw wrapped around him. It pulled him close. It welcomed him.
The son immediately started protesting. “Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” I’ll work in the fields. I work as far away as possible from you. I’ll make it so you won’t have to look at my disgusting face ever again.
But his dad wasn’t listening. He motioned to the servants who had been watching this scene unfold: “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it! We’re having the fine steaks tonight. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
That’s how much God loves family. He wants families to be whole. He wants them to be repaired. He longs for family to come back together even when awful, awful things have happened between them.
But this is more than just a feel good, Hallmark movie about how nice family is. This is more than just motivation for you to go out and fix your family.
This is a story that shows just how much God, our Father, wants you in his family.
Maybe you can relate to the younger son. Maybe you’ve left God. Maybe you grew up in the church, you went to Sunday school, you had sugar cookies, sang “Jesus Loves Me” and played with the Duplo version of Noah’s ark.
Then, you got older. Then, you got curious. Then, you left your heavenly Father.
You became an alcoholic.
You did drugs.
You had sex with various men and women.
You married yourself to work and money became all you thought about.
Then, when you ran into troubles – you blamed it all on God! If only he hadn’t been such a tyrant. If only he hadn’t have had so many rules. If only God wasn’t your Father, this wouldn’t be happening.
You distanced yourself even farther from God.
I know. That’s exactly what I did. I’m not joking.
But then, something happened. Something happened to make you realize how wrong you’d been. Maybe you lost it all. Maybe you lost a friend. Maybe your family fell apart.
Maybe it’s this sermon.
But the guilt is great! How can I go back to God? I never should have left. I know it now. I’ve sinned against heaven and against you, God, my heavenly Father. How can I come back to you – I don’t deserve it. I haven’t earned it. I’ve earned nothing but your scorn. You should disown me because I have disowned you.
But. Hear God’s heart: He won’t raise his hand to smite you; He will raise his arms to hug you.
He still loves you.
This is how much God wants you to be a part of his family. He took his Son, the only and only perfect Son, the only Son who didn’t leave him, the one who was perfect in every way – Jesus Christ – and he sent his son into the world to defeat the sin that had taken us, to stomp out the death that threatened to separate us, and to destroy the devil who had led us away in the first place.
Scripture says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” That’s you – no matter where you’ve been, no matter how long you’ve been gone, no matter how heavily you wanted to be apart from God -- God longed for you. He still longs for you - -and when you come back to him – you will be a part of his family.
Galatians 3:26 says this, “In Christ Jesus, you are a child of God through faith.” Not you might be. Not you could be. Not you may possibly be one day after years of quiet, faithful, no complaining, getting up each day and sunrise and working to sundown service….
You are a child of God.
II. God’s Family is about Grace
Of course, that’s hard to believe. It’s why the son was nervous to return. It’s why the son started refusing his dad’s love. It’s why the son said, “Dad, I’m not worthy.”
And it’s also why the older brother wasn’t at the celebration.
Remember him? This story isn’t over.
The older brother was in the fields. In the fields, like he always was. In the fields, like he had been since his younger brother left and like he was when his younger brother came back. He missed the fantastic reunion.
But as he returned to the ranch house that evening, sweat on his body glowing in the evening sunset and dirt caked well under his fingernails, he heard some noise. He heard music. He heard dancing and laughing.
"What’s going on?” he asked a servant that ran by with a bottle of wine.
"There’s a celebration, sir. It’s your brother. He’s back."
v28 The older brother became angry. Are you kidding me? That ingrate is back. And…we’re having a party for him. I want nothing to do with this. And he went and shut himself up in his home.
Meanwhile at the party, his dad was feeling pretty good. He was in the middle of showing his younger son how to whip and NaeNae, when he started to feel incomplete. He looked around. The whole family wasn’t there. He was missing the older son.
And so he left the party. He went to his son’s house. He knocked on the door. He knocked again. He heard his son’s voice, “Go away,” shout from in back.
What’s wrong son? Why aren’t you at the party? Don’t you know your brother is back?
Suddenly, the older son came storming outside – poking his accusing finger as he approached.
29 “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” I got up in the morning. I got up at night. I ran the show when you were sick. I picked up the slack when the servants were away. I’ve been in this family and happily a part of this business for years. But you never threw me a party. You never even gave me a small rump of meat to go and celebrate with my friends.
But this son of yours – he ain’t my brother – he comes back. After what he said to you. After what he did to you. After making our family an embarrassment. After leaving you in that depressed state – not feeling whole – and you kill the fattened calf, the finest possible meat that we have on our entire ranch for that fool!?! He hasn’t earned it. I earned it. Now you’ve earned my disrespect.
Dad paused. He sighed. He put his arm on his boy. 31 “My dear son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. You have been a part of this family. You are a part of this family. You will be a part of this family. But we had to celebrate, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
You see – the older son had totally misunderstood what it meant to be in his Father’s family. He thought it was about earning a spot in the family. He thought his long list of quality service and well done chores made him a part of the family and his brother’s sins disqualified him from it.
To be fair that happens in earthly families. Someone is disowned. The family never mentions that one sister. Mom and dad never speak to each other again.
But not in God’s family. God’s family is about grace.
It has to be! Without grace, every one of us would be disqualified. Yes – even you long time, long time, long time church goers. Even you member of the ladies guild, counter, signed up for snacks once a month at church, church goer. You would not be a part of this family without God’s grace.
So stop thinking it’s about what you’ve done. Stop thinking it’s your long tenure as a child of God that made you a child of God. You’re wrong. If you’re thinking like that, you’re on a path to abandon the family of God altogether.
God’s family is about grace. It’s about the Father’s love. Love that forgives the worst of rebellions. Love that forgives a subtle anger against the worst of rebellions. Because that's what God's love does. God's love unites us back into his family.
To be honest, I don’t have a lot for you this week. We’ll get more into how to have a godly family in a modern world over the next weeks. For now? Take today – take this moment – take this coming week – to reconnect with your dad.
Read his letter to you – it’s a book called the Bible. Open it up and read about how much he loves you.
Talk to me. If you have questions, concerns, even a bit of a hunch that maybe, this is all true – Talk to me. You’re hearing the heart of God calling to you.
Come back. Come back to God’s house next week. Don’t let it be so long before you return again. Come back and celebrate with us.
We were dead and we are alive. We were lost and are found. Alleluia!
Let's get the family together and celebrate!
There are a few traits that identify those in the Kiecker family. For starters, we tend to have slightly darker sun soaked skin. There's a certain chin style that we share. Many Kieckers have knee problems. And the men, well, they have a problem with thinning hair -- something I haven't escaped.
These past weeks we've been talking about what it means to be people of God. We've said it means we're strangers on this earth and heirs of heaven. Today we're going to talk about an amazing trait that all the members of God's family have.
I. All of God’s Children are Holy…
Take a look 1 Peter 1:13-16. Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
Notice that the trait God’s children have in common is not physical. It’s not the color of their eyes, the color of their skin, or the color of their hair. It’s not cultural. It’s not social status. It’s not favorite musical style. It’s not even their favorite football team.
It has to do with morality. God’s people are holy.
Check out verse 16. This is a quotation from Leviticus 19:2 or possibly Leviticus 11:44, vs. 45, or 20:7. Could be any of those, because they all have this same quote. This then is an important truth for us to digest: "Be holy because God is holy!" It's who God is and it’s what God expect his children, you, to be.
What does holy mean?
That's a good question. I’m asking it too. Because we need to see if we have that trait in order to confidently identify ourselves as God's children.
In America today, we have a lot of different definitions for holy. We think it means, “Try really hard.” “Do your best,” “Be better than those awful people,” or “Do more good than bad.” This is why we picture people, who haven’t led lives with very great morals, to be holy simply because they have thousands of dollars to a charity.
Are our depictions of holiness accurate?
Here’s a test. We know that God is holy. Therefore, let’s stack these definitions of “holy” up against God and see if they hold up.
Instead, God’s definition of holiness runs right alongside his definitions of good and righteous. When God is holy, that means he is completely apart from sin. He has no sin in his thoughts, words, or actions. He never does evil…ever…not even once.
This then is the definition of holy that we’re working with. It’s the definition of God’s holiness and it’s the definition of holiness that God requires of his children.
So… Are you holy?
If you are vegan, you don't eat meat or anything that comes from animals. No cheese. No eggs. No milk. Nothing.
So, if you (as a vegan) are wearing a "I'm vegan" t-shirt and head into Wendy's for the delicious Triple Baconator: three all beef patties, slices of cheese, and strips of bacon, then you finish it with a tall glass of chocolate milk shake, you’re not vegan.
Similarly, if you claim to be holy, and then gather with your coworkers to badmouth your boss, say a few swears, laugh at some dirty jokes, look the waitress up and down, and down four shots of Jack Daniels in less than an hour, only to end the night in front of the TV saying, “Well, at least I wasn’t as bad as my friend. He’s such a drunk and a jerk.”
You are NOT being holy. You are not living like God’s child.
In fact, if you are having a pretty good day at avoiding sin, you stub your toe, but don’t say a bad word; you get stuck in traffic, but don’t hold up any fingers; you miss the hot coffee at work and don’t hold a grudge against your coworkers; but when your boss tells you that they are downsizing and you are having your pay docked, and you think just for a second, “I hate him…”
You are not living holy.
This is why Scripture tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Sin makes you unholy. It’s why you don’t get God’s glory.
This is true for all of us!
But is this a big deal? What will God really do to the unholy?
I think we sometimes get this idea that God is a kind old grandfather. We picture him sitting up in heaven with a long white beard and jolly cheeks. When one of us does wrong, he simply lifts us up on his lap, smiles firmly, chuckles and says, “Oh, what a kid.” Then, he hands out some Werther's, sends us on our way, and goes back to napping while watching M.A.S.H.
Is that how God reacts to sin?
Look at verse 17. “…You call on a father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear!" Notice that word “impartially.” There is no grandpa favoritism here. Whether you are new to the church or a longtime churchgoer, God will judge your unholy deeds as unholy! God won't say, "Well, this person has a huge problem with lust, but he was confirmed, so I'll give him a pass." God won't say, "Well, this person hated his neighbor simply because of the color of his skin, but at least he didn't punch him so he's good." God won't say, "Well, this young woman is leading an immoral lifestyle. She isn’t giving any glory to me and in fact bad mouths me on Facebook, but her friends think she’s cool. I want to be cool, too. So…she’s cool."
Our holy God isn’t interested in being cool. Grandfather God is a myth. God judges impartially and he judges to hell any and all unholiness.
If you think differently, then someone has robbed you of God’s holiness. A holiness that cannot tolerate even for a second a smidgens of unholiness.
II. …Declared Holy by the Holy One
What can we do then?
How can we make it up to God?
How can we avoid his punishment?
Read on in what Peter says next, 'You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty, unholy, way of life handed down to you from your forefathers...”
The point is simple. You can't pay for one unholy life with another unholy life. That’d be like trying to make up for the fact that you knocked over your mom’s priceless vase into a thousand pieces, by handing her the broken pieces of Grandma’s vase that you had bumped into last weekend.
One broken thing doesn’t make up for another.
Neither can an unholy life suddenly start doing more good and change into being holy. A zebra can’t changes its stripes into spots nor can a cheetah change its spots into stripes. In the same way, unholy people cannot change their ways into holy ways.
Holiness can only come from one who is holy.
And that’s God…
What did God do about it?
Scripture says, “You were redeemed... with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (v.17)
The Old Testament regulations teach us quite a bit about sin. In those times, the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb for the forgiveness sins. But not just any old lamb. They couldn’t take the lamb with the deformed leg. They couldn’t take the lamb whose wool was coarse and speckled. They couldn’t even take the lamb who had a cavity in it’s back molar.
They needed a perfect lamb. A holy lamb. A holy lamb had to be sacrificed for sin to be paid for.
Fast forward to the words of the Apostle Peter who had heard John the Baptist say about Jesus, “Look the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Now read what Peter writes in verse 18 again, “You were bought with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Do you get what Peter is saying? The payment for our sins is Jesus' holy life. His perfect life. His life “without the blemish of sin nor the defect of unholiness.” This is who Jesus holy. Holy in every last way.
But you might be thinking how is that possible? How can Jesus, a human, be without sin? No human can do that. Only God can.
You’re right...and that’s exactly who Jesus was: God himself.
Look at verse 20. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. He was the Holy One. Chosen because he was holy. Chosen because he would live a holy life. Chosen because his holy sacrifice would pay for our unholy lives. Chosen because he was holy as God as only God as holy can be.
The Holy One lived a Holy Life and gave that Holy life for us Unholy people that we might be declared Holy through faith!
How do you know this is all true?
Read verse 21: Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and your hope are in God. (v.21)
Proof #1 is glorious. It’s the resurrection of Jesus.
Unholy people don't rise from the dead. Even holy people who have taken on the sins of others shouldn’t rise from the dead, they have sin on them!
Unless the One who died is God himself. Because with God all things are possible. With God, our sacrifice makes a complete sacrifice to save us and still returns from the grave. Therefore, the resurrection is proof that Jesus was, is, and always will be God!
Consequently, this leads us to our second proof. Look at what the end of that section says. It says that you're faith is in God. (v.21) God, then, is to be trusted.
If you are having a party and give people directions on how to get to your house, people should trust you. They know that you need to take a left at the McDonald's, drive three blocks, and then look for the cream colored house with the red paneling and the Dodge Ram truck in the driveway.
Shouldn't you trust God then in how to get to heaven? It's his home. When he tells you that you can't get there by what you do and only through faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior (and he is holy so it is impossible for him to tell a lie)...trust him! Don’t trust your own unholy (and impure) thoughts on how to get to heaven. Trust his Holy promises.
What should we do now?
Exactly what God's Word in this section tells us to do. Live holy lives in all that you do.
Be holy in your thoughts. Be holy in your words. Be holy in your actions. Be holy in your typing, your texting, your swiping.
Be holy , not just at church once every other week, but…at home, at school, a work. Be holy in line at the checkout counter, alone at home in front of the computer, stuck in traffic, hanging out with your coworkers on a Friday night, when your kids are testing your patience…in any and every situation, do not sin. Remember who you are. Remember your family trait. Remember that God has made you holy!
Do this not in order to earn the title of holiness, but because God has already declared you holy in Jesus.
What might happen? Someone might notice. Then, they’ll look at your funny, approach and say, “Look at you. You have your Father’s holiness.”
Praise God when that happens.
Praise God for the holy declaration he has made about you.
Praise God for the holy actions in your life.
Praise God for the strength to live in holiness till we see his holy kingdom. Amen.
This past week, a group of teens from Minnesota helped us spread the Gospel in North Carolina They went door to door learning about our community, telling people about our church, and offering them the good news of Jesus. (So far... have a list of 19 families who are interested in learning more about what we stand for. Praise be to God!)
But yesterday something amazing happened.
In the middle of North Raleigh, a somewhat rich area with fancy homes and good ol' Southerners whose family names can easily be traced into the history books of the United States, we came across a small apartment complex.
It was bustling with activity. A few women with burkas walking past a garden. A group of men who had come from Mexico to find a better life. A Nepali family that happily invited me into their humble home. An elderly gentleman from Somalia who explained the personal demons he faces from his own country. Kids of all colors kicking a soccer ball in the parking lot. People greeting one another with "Hello!" "Hola!" "Konnichiwa!" (And a few other phrases that I didn't recognize.)These people were very different from what I had come to know and expect from North Raleigh.
But then again...they are quite the same.
Each one of them is a sinner. Just like me.
Each one of them has a Savior. Just like you,
Each one of them needs to hear the Gospel. Just like the rest of North Raleigh!
How neat to watch a group of teens from Minnesota travel to North Carolina to tell a family from Nepal about the one person who is global.
The One God.
"Go and make disciples of all nations!" How neat to be able to do that by "going" only a few blocks away!
I hope you'll get a chance to join us for church this Sunday. Ask these teens about some of the people they have encountered this week. Their excitement, energy, and love for Jesus is infectious! Please join us in church and say Thank You to them for their invaluable work of spreading the Gospel.
Father's Day is tomorrow.
For some, it means a round of golf hitting the ball not so hard so that dad still thinks he has it. It means grilling four separate types of meat on the grill. It means taking the tour of dad's workshop (for the fourth time this year) and commenting on just how nice that birdhouse looks.
In other words, it is a time of thanksgiving for dad.
But this is not true for all of us.
Because some will spend tomorrow without any idea who their dad is. Others will be wondering where dad is. Still more will spend tomorrow remembering dad's drunken rage, his unfaithfulness to mom, even his lethargy toward being a parent.
In other words, it will be a time of sadness.
Is this the norm? Everyone celebrates Mother's Day, but Father's Day?...Divorce. Premarital impregnation and abandonment. Irresponsibility. Drug use. Alcohol abuse. These things have ruined dads. Ruined relationships. Ruined Father's Day.
This is sad.
This is sin.
But even if you won't be fishing tomorrow with an earthly father figure, please don't let Father's Day be a sad one.
Because you do have the best dad anyone could ask for.
(And I'm not talking about your earthly dad, no matter how wonderful he was...)
I'm talking about the One who is always there for you. The One who always listens. The One who always loves you. The One who disciplines, but only with your best interests in mind.
The One who saw you grow up. Who loves you at the present. Who has a wonderful future in mind for you.
I'm talking about the One who gave up the only Son who perfectly loved, listened to, and obeyed Him. The One who gave up this model child for you--his stubborn, rebellious, wayward child, the one that doesn't listen--just so that one day you might come home.
I'm talking about the One who never gives up on you. Who always chases after you. Who holds you tightly in his warm embrace.
I'm talking about God.
Your heavenly Father.
Give thanks tomorrow for any earthly father figure that you have been blessed with, but don't forget about your Heavenly Father either.
He'd love to have you chat with him. Look through the family history with you and remind you of how much he loves you.
Maybe you could even go to his house!
However you celebrate, may your day be blessed as your remember your fathers and your Father.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Father's Day is tomorrow. For some of us it is happy, for others it is sad. Today I am reminded of the joy that I do have in having you as my Father. Forgive me for the rebellion I have had against you my heavenly Father. Thank you for always being kind, for always being loving, for sending Jesus, your son to die and rise against in order to save me. Thank you Dad for your true love. May I always reside in that love. Help me meditate on that this Father's Day. And I thank you for the father figures you have given me in this life. Be with them. Bless them. Raise them up to be true leaders, fathers who train with God's Word and love with God's love. Amen.