2nd Sunday in Lent
“Salvation by God’s Grace Through Faith is not a New Teaching”
March 12, 2017
Sermon Text: Romans 4:1-8
When Moses was called at the burning bush to go back to Egypt to command Pharaoh to free the Israelites, and to speak words of peace and comfort to the Israelites, he asked the Lord, “If they ask me Who sent me, what shall I say?” And the Lord responded, “I am Who I am” has sent you. That word from the Lord, together with the great Shema of Deuteronomy 6, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One,” was instrumental in forming the Israelites’ whole notion of God. Those two texts speak of the oneness of God, the eternity of God, the consistency of God, the fact that God never changes. He is always the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, for all eternity.
Now, to be sure, there are places where the Scriptures speak of the Lord changing His ways, repenting that He made man, turning His face again to the sinner and downtrodden where He has turned away, and so on, and so forth. But all those passages are written from the human perspective, they are all meant to be our expressions of our experience with the Lord at any given point in time. He does appear to change from our perspective. But really, deep down, the Lord never changes, just as your father doesn’t really change from the time he’s grounding you for getting in trouble to the time that he’s giving you a bunch of presents at Christmas. It’s only our view of the Lord that changes. He Himself is always the same.
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1st Sunday in Lent
“The Faithfulness of the Holy Spirit”
March 5, 2017
Sermon Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Most of the historical accounts in Scripture are stories of seemingly ordinary events played out among human beings. There are some big events and amazing things that happen, grand battles between nations and kingdoms, confrontations between great leaders, tremendous miracles. But all of these things usually occur within the stories of the day-to-day life of people. You almost always have to study the events, and read what the Bible has to say about them, to see the real spiritual struggle that is always going on behind the scenes. Seldom is the veil removed and good seen in its purest form, and evil seen in its most heinous form.
One example of this is the story of the Exodus. The release of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt is often misunderstood because it is interpreted as being a struggle between Israel and Egypt, or Moses and Pharaoh, or even some kind of metaphor of slavery and freedom. The only way to get to the heart of what the Exodus was all about is to see it as a no-holds-barred war between the Lord and Satan. Only by looking behind the veil of the human actors and getting to that core struggle can you understand what that book is all about.
This is seen even more clearly in the book of Esther, which is another account of the Lord’s miraculous rescue of His people, even though God is never mentioned once in that entire book. But He is there, working through means, as He always does, keeping His promise to His people and protecting them from His enemies and their enemies. Only when you see past the veil can you understand what that book is all about.
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“The Road from Eden”
The First Sunday in Lent
March 1, 2017
Sermon Text: Genesis 3:7-24
When I was probably about 10 or 11 years old I saw a program on TV about the energy crisis and the problem of so many cars burning so much gasoline when gasoline was in short supply. This was back in the mid-70’s, when we first started to talk about these things. After watching that program, I thought about it, and I wrote a letter to someone, somewhere, where I explained that I had found the solution to this problem. Very simply, instead of building cars that run on gasoline, we needed to start building cars that run on water. Gas shortage problem solved. I gave the letter to my mom, and then later found out that she never mailed it. I was very upset, and I asked her why she hadn’t mailed my brilliant letter, and she nicely explained to me that cars can’t burn water the way they burn gasoline and my well-intentioned solution was unfortunately of no use.
That taught me a lesson about getting involved in matters that were over my head and thinking that I know more than I do. As Dirty Harry famously said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Sometimes, we need to defer to someone else who understands more than we do and believe what they say.
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