I want to focus on these few verses at the end of Psalm 69. But because they are at the end, that means these verses have a context. And that context gives these verses even greater impact. This Psalm is one of a few Psalms, sometimes called imprecatory psalms or laments (the main ones being 35, 69, and 109). They are prayers that record the details of the dark side of life. In this Psalm David is crying out to God to save him. His enemies outnumber the hairs on his head. He is being pursued by those who want to kill him. His enemies mock God and scorn all things godly. David prays for relief and prays a curse on his enemies and that God would vindicate His own righteousness. After pouring out his prayer in much detail, with specific requests for specific action by God, he sums up his prayer and the miserable condition of his life in verse 29. He is in pain and great distress. After 29 verses of lament and anguish and strong language, all of a sudden, the Psalmist turns to praise and thanksgiving.

Grace and Gratitude

As we are in Thanksgiving week it seemed to me appropriate to address a question about grace and tie it to gratitude and the glory of God. I will do this this evening and Thursday morning. II Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving (gratitude), to the glory of God. Let me teach you a German word. It’s one of the most important German words you need to know, especially in the up-coming election year. TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” This is a handy word to remember every time you hear a politician offer you something for free. When they say that, say back TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” There is nothing free, everything costs something. If someone offers you a free lunch, it just means someone else paid for it. If they offer free health care, someone else paid for it. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The problem with socialism is sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

Peter in Prison Again

Herod Agrippa I, comes from a long line of Herods. His grandfather was Herod the Great who reigned at the time of Jesus birth, the Herod who order the killing of all the children two and under in Bethlehem. His uncle Herod Antipas beheaded John the Baptist and tried Jesus along with Pontius Pilate. As the saying goes, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree. He grew up in a world of murder and intrigue, deception and power politics. Herod is acting out of political expediency, to win the hearts of people who don’t particularly like him since we worked for Rome. This is always the danger and temptation of politicians. It is a good argument for term limits on all politicians, then they can do their work and do what’s right without always trying to please and appease the masses, and win or worse yet buy votes.

First Called Christians

Luke, the author of the book of Acts, tells us when the apostles sent Barnabas from the church in Jerusalem to the church in Antioch, he saw the grace of God. What does that mean, he saw the grace of God? What does the grace of God look like? How can you tell when you are seeing the grace of God? Have you ever seen the grace of God? When was the last time you can definitely say you saw the grace of God? I have spoken on several occasions about the importance of being able to recognize the grace of God, in your life. I have encouraged us to write them down, keep a list. I believe if you do this it will have the same effect on you that it did on Barnabas, it will make you glad. It will give you joy, encouragement, hope and increased faith and trust. I see at least seven ways in our text that Barnabas saw the grace of God. See how many of these you have seen.

Be Careful How You Judge

I’m not sure I can prove it, but Matthew 7:1 might be one of the most quoted verses in America. It’s certainly one of America’s most favorite verses. There are few passages that have had more error in thinking come out of them, I would be willing to put this one in the top ten. We live in a post-modern and post-Christian culture that says in order to be politically correct (PC) and socially acceptable we must be tolerant of all the ideas, words and actions of others. Abortion is a personal choice, homosexuality is a viable alternative lifestyle, the lottery is government approved entertainment, and what people do in private should have no bearing on their public lives and professional positions. To pass judgment on the lifestyles, choices and actions of others is considered the height of arrogance and certainly intolerant and even un-Christian. Who are we to say and by what standard can we say it? The word for the day is tolerance and this is the text. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” The world wants the church to be quiet, to stay out of the public arena, to not make pronouncements. So, they say to us, judge not, don’t judge, never express an opinion about the words or actions of others. We are to be tolerant and quiet. This is a challenging text to understand well and get right. But we have to get this right or we are going to continue to be just as muddled and confused as the world. So, what are we to do with Matthew 7:1? Jesus says do not judge, right? Does it stand by itself as an absolute? Well by itself, we can’t understand it rightly. And the problem with America is it doesn’t know Scripture.

The Son Does Nothing on His Own

What Are You Afraid Of?

Thank you to those of you who turned in questions. I got about 15 cards with about 30 questions that were all over the map, or should I say all over the Bible. Some were topics, some were issues of our day, some were specific passages of Scripture or single texts of Scripture. This evening we will focus on one of those texts, one that is bigger than we might first think. Let me begin asking you, what are you afraid of? We all have fears or phobias. Phobias typically fall within five general categories: • fears related to animals (spiders, snakes, insects, rodents, Suriphobia- fear of mice) • fears related to the natural environment (heights, thunder, darkness) • fears related to blood, injury, or medical issues (injections, broken bones, falls, dentist) • fears related to specific situations (flying, riding an elevator, speaking in public, crowds) • other (choking, loud noises, drowning) • today social media has created some more related to being alone, being disconnected. I came across a couple I had never heard of before: pogonophobia, fear of beards Pentheraphobia- Fear of mother-in-law. (Greek penthera-mother in law) There is even a fear a duck is watching you Most of us think of fear as something we want to get rid of, it is a negative thing, not something we want more of. For some of us the fear of the Lord is a negative thing. Maybe we grew up afraid of God, afraid of going to hell, afraid of God’s punishment for our sin, that He would make our lives miserable. If we grew up in a home with a very strict and severe father, who was demanding, punishing, one we could never please, one who never expressing love or compassion then we would view God the same way. We learned no sense of God’s love and grace and mercy. But sometimes someone will say about a person, he is a God-fearing man. When we hear that we think of it as positive, it is saying something good about that person and the way they live. What does that mean? Scripture has a lot to say about the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of fearing the Lord.

To the Gentiles Also Part II

This is our fourth sermon on the Cornelius conversion and the Gentile Pentecost. Luke sure thought it important to repeat the details this much, and more importantly the Holy Spirit thought it was so important to inspire Luke to record it and repeat it for all generations to know. But this is not just repetition for repetition sake. There is something important going on here, without which the story would be incomplete. This isn’t just be an event in the life of Peter. This story has ramifications for the whole church and the spreading of the Gospel. Paul’s conversion story is told three times in the book of Acts. These are pivotal, sea-changing stories. Their impact reverberates through the rest of salvation history. The conversions of these two men may be the two most important events in redemptive history until the return of Christ. After these two there is no stopping the church as it advances through the world.

To the Gentiles Also Part I

This is our fourth sermon on the Cornelius conversion and the Gentile Pentecost. Luke sure thought it important to repeat the details this much, and more importantly the Holy Spirit thought it was so important to inspire Luke to record it and repeat it for all generations to know. But this is not just repetition for repetition sake. There is something important going on here, without which the story would be incomplete. This isn’t just be an event in the life of Peter. This story has ramifications for the whole church and the spreading of the Gospel. Paul’s conversion story is told three times in the book of Acts. These are pivotal, sea-changing stories. Their impact reverberates through the rest of salvation history. The conversions of these two men may be the two most important events in redemptive history until the return of Christ. After these two there is no stopping the church as it advances through the world.

Here I Am

If you go to Cairo, Egypt today you can visit two very famous graves. You can go to the pyramids and visit the tombs of the great kings of Egypt, the most famous of which is the tomb of King Tut. “He was only seventeen when he died. He was buried with solid gold chariots and thousands of golden artifacts. His gold coffin was found in a burial site filled with tons of gold. The Egyptians believed they could take earthly treasures into the afterlife. But all the treasures intended for King Tutt’s eternal enjoyment stayed right where they were until Howard Carter discovered the burial chamber in 1922. “The other grave is much harder to find. It’s off a dusty back alley in a graveyard for American missionaries. The tombstone reads: “William Borden, 1887-1913.” In 1904 when William Borden graduated from high school, he was already a millionaire and heir to the Borden Dairy Estate. As a graduation gift his parents gave him a trip around the world.