Lament Over Sin

As we move through our series on Godly Lament, we are going to be changing up the order of our service to move through the different chapters of Lamentations and Psalms. This morning, we’re focusing on Lamentations 2, which is filled with weeping because God has become Israel’s enemy. Of course, for those of us who are Christians, God is not our enemy. But we can still relate to the pain that sin brings. As James said, “Lament, weep and mourn” over sin. We have sinned and we suffer the effects of living in a sinful world. We can relate to times of drifting in our lives. We can relate to feeling like God isn’t listening – and wondering why. But even as Scripture from Lamentations 2 is read this morning, you might find it confusing. You might feel tension with the words. That’s okay. That’s meant to be there. Let the words cause you to pray to the Lord for clarity, hope, and greater trust in Him. So, in our worship, we’re going to incorporate lament. We’re going to lay ourselves before God and call out to Him for mercy in our prayers, our songs, our Scripture reading. All the while, remembering that godly lament holds out the hope and trust that God is compassionate....

Holy Lament

As we move through our series on Godly Lament, we are going to be changing up the order of our service to move through the different chapters of Lamentations and Psalms. This morning, we’re focusing on Lamentations 2, which is filled with weeping because God has become Israel’s enemy. Of course, for those of us who are Christians, God is not our enemy. But we can still relate to the pain that sin brings. As James said, “Lament, weep and mourn” over sin. We have sinned and we suffer the effects of living in a sinful world. We can relate to times of drifting in our lives. We can relate to feeling like God isn’t listening – and wondering why. But even as Scripture from Lamentations 2 is read this morning, you might find it confusing. You might feel tension with the words. That’s ok. That’s meant to be there. Let the words cause you to pray to the Lord for clarity, hope, and greater trust in Him. So, in our worship, we’re going to incorporate lament. We’re going to lay ourselves before God and call out to Him for mercy in our prayers, our songs, our Scripture reading. All the while, remember that godly lament holds out the hope and trust that God is...

Christmas and the Cross

If you looked on the platform this month and noticed the cross, you also saw that we put in our version of a manger right next to it. I personally love the striking simplicity of this picture. The King of kings, Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace came in the flesh to someday have his flesh torn. He did this, in the flesh, to give us eternal peace and to experience God’s eternal pleasure in the flesh. At the cross, he experienced the justice of God our sins deserved so that we could experience the justice of God that Jesus’ righteousness deserved! As I’m saying this, you might be saying, “Hold on. This isn’t Easter, Pastor Timothy.” But, we can’t talk about the wonder of Christmas without understanding why he came. This is why even the apostle Paul said, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech of wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This doesn’t mean Paul only talked about Jesus’ death, but this does mean that Paul believed Jesus’ death was central to everything. And so today, as we sing Christmas carols, you will notice the themes of them. Songs of peace and joy – and we today have peace and joy because of the reason Jesus came – to die and rise again in our place and for our eternal joy in...

Obedience in the Flesh

We are only about a week away from Christmas! Our worship services have had various Christmas songs. The sermons have been Advent-related. And then we come to our Fighter Verses, and we have 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” What does that have to do with Christmas? Well, in its context, Paul isn’t talking about Jesus’ birth. But, Jesus coming in the flesh has everything to do with everything. Jesus, through his obedient life and death, gave us his righteousness, but he also took the right to then send us the Holy Spirit so that we could obey in the flesh as well. So, when Paul talks to Timothy about being an example, he is basing it in the fact that Jesus has set him free to live this way. And the same is true for us. Whether you feel you’ve been battling against sin or you’ve been rather encouraged in your growth recently, rejoice that Jesus came in the flesh to empower you to honor him in the...

The Obedience of Faith

As we continue in this Christmas season, maybe you’re ramping up on getting Christmas gifts and you’ve already been swept under the current of consumerism. You know, as a parent, I can get swept into consumerism because I want to be able to buy my kids everything they want. I can become upset that I can’t get them this or that thing. And I can lead my children to believe Christmas really is about presents under a tree. But praise God for this past week’s fighter verse: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” There’s a greater weight than not being able to buy presents. A real weight of God’s just punishment on sinners. In John 3, we’re told Jesus came to set us free from God’s wrath. But how can we experience the cleansing? This verse tells us. It says through believing on the Son. But notice, John also says, “whoever does not obey the Son.” John seems to be using opposite phrases to speak the same truth. In other words, to not believe is to not obey. And to obey is to believe. This is what I think Paul means when he talks about the obedience of faith. When someone comes to Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation with God – God counts that obedience and no longer is wrath on us! Oh Ventura, let’s ponder this today: Jesus came to live, die and rise again on the behalf of sinners so that we could rejoice in God forever!...

True Faith

Have you ever been somewhere with a little child and they’re higher than you – and then you tell them to jump? It’s a fun exercise, but when children are young, they can hesitate. I’ve had some children more willing. And then other children who try to grab for my arms first. In either scenario, I’m asking the children to trust me to be stronger than gravity’s pull downward. And, my children have trusted me and come into my arms. This reminds me of this past week’s Figher Verse: “And without faith it is impossible to please him for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” How do we please God? Through faith. In other words, depending on God himself. I don’t please God by showing him that I can suspend gravity or do impressive works. No. God is pleased when I realize that I’m a sinner and I cannot please him. Instead, I trust that Jesus has given to me my hope and righteousness. Therefore, God is good towards me, his child. And, this kind of trust in God propels me to jump into his arms (or, to seek after him). What I love about this verse is the statement on God’s greatness and goodness. We can do nothing to please God – and yet, God has provided a way for him to be pleased. How good it is to rest in his arms and seek after...

Dwelling in the Shelter of God

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ This psalm says that if you dwell in God’s shelter, you will abide in in the shadow of the Almighty. The point is that if you find rest and protection in God today, you will have his protection always. This reminds me of one of my favorite paintings. It’s a portrait of a person in a lighthouse that is surrounded by waves. As the waves are crashing around, the person is safe in the lighthouse. Oftentimes, we can find ourselves as Christians, in the midst of storms. Sometimes the storms seem insignificant. They could even be “storms” of prosperity that seek to get our mind off of God and onto our good circumstances. But we don’t know what the undertow is like.  Other times, the storms are painfully obvious. If we walked out of the Lighthouse, we’d be taken away. Yet, no matter what the storm, God is our refuge forever. He is worthy to be trusted. I don’t know where you are today or what struggles or joys you face, but our rest and hope aren’t in circumstances, our refuge is God. He is our security today and forever. Because of Jesus, all who trust in him are eternally secure in God’s trustworthy...

I can do all things?

If you were to overhear a conversation between me and someone else, and the other person was talking about having a headache that persisted the whole day – to which I responded, “That’s the worst” – you probably wouldn’t walk away from that conversation thinking, “Pastor Timothy thinks that’s the worst thing that could happen?! What if a family member died? What if he got into a car accident?” You wouldn’t think that way because you have a context to those words. You understand the tone of voice and you know how people can talk in our culture about those types of things. Context, Context, tone and language are very important, aren’t they? The same is true in the Bible. In this past week’s Fighter Verses, we have a verse that is probably one of the most misapplied verses in the Bible: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Can we do all things through Jesus? Can you fly? Can you lose 10 pounds? Can you increase your savings account? Is that what this verse is talking about? Well, let’s get the language. In the original Greek, verse 13 is simply “All I am able to in the One who strengthens me.” Translators in English put in the word “do.” But the context helps us to know that Paul is talking specifically about having contentment in any type of financial circumstance – plenty or hunger. This is the miracle. The miracle isn’t that God can increase your savings account. It’s that God can work in your heart in such ways that you don’t find contentment in cold,...

If anyone is in Christ, NEW CREATION!

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” If you have a KJV or NKJV Bible translation, you’ll see that the phrase “he is a” in italics. The reason there are italics is because those words aren’t in the original Greek. A more literal translation would be: “if anyone is in Christ, new creation.” My question is why the translators decided to put it “he is a.” Many Christians use this verse to say that we personally and individually have changed from the inside-out. And while the Bible gives other verses saying that those who trust Jesus have been given new hearts to love and follow God, I don’t believe this verse is saying that. Instead, whenever the phrase “new creation” is used, it’s referring to something broader and bigger. And what Paul is saying here in 2 Corinthians 5 is that if you are in Christ, you are a part of something big. You are a part of the new creation! Think about that, Ventura. We humans long to be a part of something bigger than themselves. We want to know our lives matter and that we have greater hope. This verse shares that hope. If you are in Christ, you are a part of the new creation! All the bad, sad, wicked things are unraveling and becoming untrue. Someday, everything will be restored and made perfect, and in that new creation we are going to dwell with God – the eternal One. Even right now, you are a part of Jesus’ work...

The Final Days of Jesus: Sunday

Jesus’ death and resurrection were what all creation was yearning for. Before the foundation of the world, the plan of the cross was enacted. In Genesis 3, we’re told there would be one who would crush the serpent but that one would also be hurt. This “one” is Jesus, and when we get to the gospel writers, they spend a bulk of their writing focusing on the days preceding his death. What happened on each day preceding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection? So, what happened the Sunday after Jesus’ death? Holy Week, Day 8: Resurrection Sunday Sunday, April 5, AD 33. The Final Days of Jesus: Resurrection Sunday from Crossway on...