Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Can God Make a Rock to Big for Him to Lift?

So many people ask "Can God make a rock so big that He can't lift it?" Now, there is the long answer and the short answer.

The Short Answer is: No. God can't make a rock too big for Him to lift.

But before I give the long answer, I want to point out that many people who ask this question are not really asking it out of a sincere desire to know the answer of the question, rather many people ask it out of a deep sense of pain, and the pre-rendered understanding that God cannot be all powerful, truly unlimited in power. And that position often has more to do with a time or even many times where the person feels that God has failed him or her, and that if He was all powerful, He would have used Him power to protect them from some loss, pain, or violation. Other times it is asked because there is something present in the person's life that God would obviously be responsible for in some way, but the person doesn't see God doing anything about it. This makes the person come to the conclusion that God can't do anything about it. And other times people are trying to come up with some clever intellectual argument to disprove the idea of an all powerful God. So, before I explain the more intellectual response, I want those of you who are hurting and reading this to know that I understand and God Himself understands, and wants you to have an honest conversation with Him about what you have suffered. You  can trust Him and He can do something about what you have experienced. He has a plan and purpose for it, and if you have an authentic and meaning relationship with Him by trusting in Jesus for eternal life, that plan and purpose will most certainly result in your good and God's glory. Trust Him with the loss, pain, violation, or struggle. He can handle it, but you'll have to trust Him with it.

Now, as far the intellectual explanation of the question's "NO" answer is concerned, the answer is "NO" for a lot of reasons, but we will start with the most obvious reason. It is a bad question. If by the word "God" we mean the One Being who has truly limitless, infinite power over anything and everything, then self-evidently there is nothing that can be created that will exceed His power. If we also understand the word "God" as signifying the One Being that exists outside of space-time, then obviously again no rock can be created by God that exceeds space-time and exceeds God, because space-time is not one of the qualities that God exists in, rather space-time exists within His existence and all created rocks would exist within space-time. Or if you cede that space-time might not be the only meaningful dimension of existence (i.e. the spiritual realm), where at least space would not be a relevant component of existence, then the fact that all created entities would have contingent and even dependent existence would likewise bar any and every created entity from exceeding the power and presence of God. Even an entity without the quality of spatiality or an entity that was infinite in some sense could never be infinite in the same way that God was, because all infinite entities would still have contingent/dependent or limited infiniteness, whereas God has non-contingent and non-dependent and non-limited infiniteness. In other words, God has infinite existence where as all created entities by virtue of their being created could not have infinite existence.

Hence the answer is NO, God can't create anything that exceeds Him in any way. The problem with the question misunderstands the nature of the entities involved or the qualities attributed to them. And thus, it also doesn't mean that God is not truly all-powerful, because all-powerfulness by definition excludes the possibility of not maintaining itself, otherwise the definition changes, and you are not really talking about all-powerfulness. That is all-powerfulness means not "can actualize non-contingent/dependent/finite entities" but "can actualize any kind of contingent/dependent/finite entities." Otherwise you are going to end up violating the very meaning of the word all-powerful.

The even more abbreviated long answer is "NO, because that's a bad question" in other words "your syllogism is in error." If anyone has any questions, please comment.

Much Love by the Spirit to all

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Young Son Asks His Mom About Abortion

Have you ever had a conversation with a child about abortion? Many have not. In fact, many would not. But apparently my mother has. My mother told me the story once. I didn't remember it ever happening. But apparently as a young child (we're talking under 5, if I remember her story correctly) I asked her what it was. Apparently the conversation went something like this:

Me (likely overhearing something): Abortion? What's that?

Mama (looking for the diplomatic/gentle wording):, honey, abortion is when a mommy has baby in her tummy, and decides she doesn't want it anymore. So, she goes to the doctor, so she doesn't have to have her baby. 


I don't know what my mom said after that, but apparently my younger self was not fooled, or soothed by the more diplomatic or gentle wording. I guess even at such a young age I knew what it meant. I knew what was really happening. And I was as aghast then as I am today. Brokenhearted over the murder of a cute sacred treasure. Although I take it as evidence of the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in my life at a young age, I also take it as indicating the obviousness of what abortion really is. Not even a small child such as myself was fooled into filing abortion in some clinical or euphemistic or anesthetized category. Such a small child saw through the rouse and the veil that we comfort ourselves with at night, alone in the dark, surrounded by the bloodcurdling echo of silence. Abortion, unfortunately, is no amoral medical procedure, no amoral choice, it is killing, plain and simply. Even a child can see it. Wrapping it in the shroud of medicine or the more highly esteemed Western Cultural ideal of Personal Autonomy will not change what its true nature is. A true nature so clear, so hideous, so morally repugnant that small children are left in horror, in confusion, and in grief--it's murder. 

Indeed, someone who reads this may say that I was inculturated into that kind of response as a child. And perhaps I was. But, my question in response is whether when you started reading this post, you thought or felt like discussing abortion with such a small child was inappropriate, or even cruel. And I question why you reacted that way. Why did your emotional response run to younger me's defense? Is it perhaps because at the end of the day you too see abortion for the murder it is. You wanted to protect me from the evil in the world that is knowing what abortion is and in fact accomplishes, so perhaps in that case your own conscience exposes the true nature of things. And on a similar note, why was it that you rose to my younger self's defense at merely hearing about abortion, when just a few years earlier, you would have celebrated not just my experience abortion via my hearing but via my whole flesh, as my body was torn asunder? Don't the platitudes offered in abortion's defense seem a bit hollow in the face of such a comparison? Likely, you are not convinced by this post, if you came to it reading with the ferocity of cemented conviction in murder's favor. I aim to have come at the issue from a different angle, and do it from a gentle tone. I mean you you no harm. I do actually care about you. And it is because I care about you, and because I care about those who are tempted to commit this particular brand of murder, and above all because I care about the lives of precious children that I long to have see the light of day, that I write this. 

Christian sisters, I know many of you have murdered your children (and playing around with euphemisms will not help you and bring you to find grace and mercy and healing in Christ, but is in its own way a denial of the true evil of the act). And Christian brothers, I also know that many of you have been complicit in many of them, or even the one pushing your significant other to the death chamber. And I want to assure you, one egregious sinner to another, that Jesus does indeed save, forgive, cleanse, and redeem! But that comes after true repentance of the sin. Confess your sin to God the Father and be forgiven and cleansed from all your unrighteousness. If Jesus can forgive, cleanse, and use Paul, the former murderer of Christians, Jesus can forgive, cleanse, and use you the former murderer of children. 

As for those who would claim the Name of Christ, integral to the title Christian, and yet who are still somehow unsure of the evilness of murdering a child in the womb, I say this: Jesus Christ has died for us so that we the guilty may have life and have it more abundantly as if innocent, how is it that we can now advocate for the death of the innocent as though guilty? 

My love to all, brothers and sisters, Christians and others, born and unborn

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pure Hearts (Matthew 5.27-30)

Scripture: Matthew 5.27-30
Translation: 27You’ve heard that it was said, “Don’t commit adultery!” 28But I’m telling you that everyone who sees a woman with the result that he wants her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29But if your right eye trips you up, tear it out and throw [it] away from you, because it’s good for you, that one of your body-parts would be destroyed and your whole body wouldn’t be thrown into Hell! 30And if your right hand trips you up, cut it off and throw [it] away from you, because it is good for you that one of your body-parts would be and your whole body would not go away into Hell!
1.      Structure
a.       Antithesis
                                                              i.      It was said, “Don’t cheat on your spouse
                                                            ii.      Jesus says, “If you want someone, you’ve already cheated”
b.      Application
                                                              i.      Deal with your cheating hardcore, because it will get you thrown into Hell.
2.      Themes
a.       Adultery
b.      Hell
c.       Drastic measures
d.      Antithesis/Jesus makes the rules
3.      Doctrines
a.       Jesus is Lord over all, He makes the rules and interprets the Old Testament
4.      Notes
a.       The key phrase is προς το επιθυμησαι αυτην probably indicates resultative action as opposed to purposed action. The difference being that in the form the person does not need intentionality or a plan to desire the person in the looking, they just need a looking that results in desire. My gut impulse is that Jesus is not criticizing the “second look” as people often assume, but the “first look” that results in wanting a second look. Jesus does not have a problem with seeing women, since obviously that is something no one can not do and still live in society. Moreover, is Jesus only concerned with the men “cruising for chicks” or watching porn, unlikely. That presupposes that inner purity can only be violated by predetermined plans for violating purity, but sure the problem is already in the heart before the planned evil, and the general tenor of the sermon on the mount is that Jesus is dealing with the heart behind the evil, not the steps that lead to evil. Besides, logically speaking for the most part people to not look at someone in order to want that person, they look at some person with the result that they want that person. True, people do watch porn so they can want some person, but they still can’t want that person without seeing them. Hopefully, this is sufficient reason to understand that Jesus intends a resultative nuance to προς το επιθυμησαι αυτην and this itself reinforces the notion that the problem is what is in the heart, namely the desiring, not so much in the externalized or actualized physical process of looking. The problem is the WANTING not the looking, the looking is just the main way men are induced to wanting.
1.      Visual Lust
a.       Guys, look, you and I both know how hard this is for us. We like looking at women and wanting them. It is incredibly hard for us not to sexualize women that we see, for us to want the women that we see. It’s tough, trust me, I know, I get it. We tell ourselves, well at least I’m not actually doing anything, I’m just looking, but Jesus, who as a man, would have understood our temptations perfectly, yet He kept His heart and mind and body pure. We can’t look at women like they are just slabs of meat. They are not steaks to droll over. They are precious sisters and daughters of God that are far more like exquisite jewelry and artwork that is appreciated and honored and respected and valued, rather than sex objects that we merely use to get our sexual kicks—women are NOT SEX OBJECTS. Period. EVEN WHEN YOU’RE MARRIED, you don’t get to treat your wife like she’s just a sex tool. True, she is the only one you can have sex with, but sex is supposed to be a valuing and serving and loving the other person, not using them. Now, let’s talk about porn for a second, because seriously if statistics are good indicators, and if my time at Moody was a good indicator (a huge number of the men at Moody who are preparing to be pastors and missionaries and the like are addicted to porn), most of you are probably watching it or have watched it. And let’s be honest, no one watches porn for any other reason than some form indulging inappropriate desire
b.      Ladies, you may think that you are off the hook, that this passage is a guys issue. That you don’t struggle with visual lust, and that therefore you can feel good about yourselves right now. your hearts are pure. But, while I am no woman by any stretch of the imagination, it is my conviction that you too struggle with visual lust. Firstly, while it is true that 48% of porn users are men, that also means that 42% of porn users are women. This means that if I rounded up five people who watch porn, at least 2 of the 5 would be women. However, this deep dark underbelly is hidden. Shame from the sexuality of the lust itself, as well as the perception that this is a guys issue and not a ladies issue keeps many women lock in a prison of shame and entrapment. Moreover, it has been my experience that it is not men who are openly discussing who they find visually stimulating, but women. We men know enough that discussing which women we think are hot with women present is generally a good way to be thought of as a barbaric lusty creep, so in general guys talk about those things when women are not around. Women however seem to have no inhibition about such discussion in public. It is girls that I hear talking about how hot they think so and so is, or how cute so and so is. It’s true guys and girls tend to use different terminology when they talk about their desire induced by visual stimulation, and it’s true they focus on different areas of the body and different standards and measures and areas of attractiveness, but both men and women ultimately are doing the same thing, “I WANT THAT” don’t lie to yourselves that because your inappropriate desire takes a different form than from the way it is either discussed or experienced by men it doesn’t count. It does count and it is just as valid as sinful when it comes in the female packaging as the man packaging.
c.       as a side note, seriously watching sex scenes is movies is porn. Period. I don’t care if it is not considered porn by most people, it still is. And I know people say, you can watch those things if you are a mature enough Christian. But that’s bull! You and I will never be “mature enough” to watch people have sex and not be affected by it. That’s not how sexuality works. it is going to induce inappropriate thoughts, desires, or mental frameworks regardless. Ok, well what about a movie where you “can’t see anything”—it doesn’t matter, we’re still hearing things, really we don’t think that our hearing can’t induce us to inappropriate thoughts and desires? Please, let’s be more discerning about what we watch.
2.      Audible lust
a.       You and I can listen to things that induce in us inappropriate desire. That’s why phone sex exists.
3.      Emotional Lust
a.       Guys, this is something we are not very honest about. We only want women that we look at and that we think are hot, and while this is often true and maybe for some men even mainly true, it is not only true. Emotional connectedness is also something that induce us to WANT someone. Friendship, or the sense that you connect with someone can just as easily give us an opportunity to have inappropriate desires. In fact for us, this may be the more dangerous, because we are often so blind to it. Many affairs do not start with the man thinking so and so is hot, but with the man forming a bond with someone and then having that bond foster in him desires for that woman. But of course, emotionally based lust is just as evil as visually or audibly based lust, because it likewise devalues the person being desired. The person is used as an object for emotional or relational satisfaction. Again it is about you WANTING the other person.
b.      Ladies, this is one of the forms your inappropriate desire can take. And perhaps it is the more prevalent form, but what do I know, I’m a man, at least when it comes to prevalence. However, I can say for certain that it does take this form in your lives. You WANT certain people because of the sense of emotional and/or relational satisfaction. You don’t really want the person for who he is, but for the sense of euphoria you get from emotional and relational stimulation. The what if fantasies that involve not so much sex but the happy family or marriage or relationship or emotional fulfillment motif are just as inappropriate as the raw sexual fantasies with so and so.
4.      Dealing with it
a.       By now it should be clear that the problem is with our hearts. Jesus calls us to radical obedience and that requires a radical response against the sin. Jesus suggests tearing out your eyes and cutting off your hand if that would help, because these inappropriate desires will send us to hell. Quite frankly, sexual urges, inappropriate wanting of other people is an incredibly powerful force of derailment from the Christian life. I have plenty of examples of people who wanted someone, and that desire consumed them and destroyed their Christian walk.
b.      Moreover, Jesus is exposing a heart issue, so do you think He really means for us to cut off body parts? Well, no, probably not, but He is saying if that would help solve the lust problem, do it! However, He probably means for us to take not so much radical physical measures, but radical spiritual measures to conquer this sin! I have plenty of examples of this.
5.      Questions
a.       What are some forms inappropriate desire can take in your heart, mind, and life?
b.      Jesus calls us to take drastic action to cut inappropriate desire out of our lives, so what are some drastic steps or actions you can take to get sinful desire out of you life?
c.       What are some drastic steps we can take as a community, as a Christian family, to cut sinful desire out of our group?
d.      What hope does the Gospel give us in the middle of this struggle for pure hearts?

1.      You are buying a house. One house that you visit belongs to a family with three children. As you are getting the tour through the house you notice that each of the three children have posters on their walls. The first room you walk into you see a huge life-size poster of a woman in a bikini. The next room you walk into when you open the closet you notice a creepy poster board filled with creepy stalker photos of a girl eating with her parents, walking on the street, walking into school, etc. The last room is the daughters room, where there is a huge blow up of G-Dragon and One Direction. Which room has an altar to lust? All of them. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Be Wise (Proverbs 3.1-12)

Scripture: Proverbs 3.11-12
Translation: 3.1My son, don’t forget my instruction! And your heart had better keep my commands! 2Because longness of days and years of life, and peace will be added to you! 3Loyalty and faithfulness had better not leave you! Tie them to your neck! Write them on the tablet of your heart! 4And find grace and good intelligence in the eyes of God and man. 5Trust in Yahweh with all your heart! And don’t rely on your understanding! 6In all your ways know Him, and He will straighten your paths! 7Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Fear Yahweh and turn from evil! 8Healing will be your bellybutton’s and refreshment [will be] your bones’! 9Glorify Yahweh from your wealth, and from the first of all your harvest! 10And your storehouses will be filled with abundance and your vats will explode with new wine! 11Don’t reject Yahweh’s corrective discipline, and don’t hate His punishment, 12because Yahweh punishes the person He loves, namely like a father [punishes] the son he enjoys.
1.      Structure
a.       6 Commands and Motivations
                                                              i.      Don’t forget the father’s instruction: long life and peace will follow (vv.1-2)
                                                            ii.      Be loyal and faithful: Get grace and good sense (vv.3-4)
                                                          iii.      Trust and Know Yahweh: Yahweh will guide you where you need to go (vv.5-6)
                                                          iv.      Be Humble, Fear Yahweh, turn from Evil: healing and refreshment will be yours (vv.7-8)
                                                            v.      Glorify Yahweh with your resources: Have more than enough resources (vv.9-10)
                                                          vi.      Receive Yahweh’s discipline: Because it shows He loves you (vv.11-12)
2.      Themes
a.       Wisdom
b.      Instruction
c.       Correction
d.      Trust
e.       Relationship with Yahweh
f.       Father/Son relationship
g.      Reward follows those who listen to wisdom
3.      Notes
a.       Loyalty and faithfulness are primarily terms used for the relationship God has with His people and His people with God, but it does of course also include other similar kinds of relationships
b.      While healing for your navel and a refreshing drink for your bones certainly includes bodily health and refreshment, the body here is likely meant to be understood more in terms of the whole person, whether by merism (navel/outside + bones/inside = whole person), or by synecdoche (two parts standing in for the whole person, such as “all hands on deck”), thus, I take it to mean the whole person physical and spiritual
c.       While surely vv.9-10 do refer to mainly material possessions, and presuppose a tithes and offerings obligation as found under the Mosaic Covenant for the proper expression of the relationship with God, it surely is not limited to material possessions, nor to agricultural cultures, that is, is the merchant safe because he has no harvest
1.      The last two verses are key here, they actually are quoted in Hebrews 12 as encouragement to endure. I wanted to talk about them, because all of our lives go through times where there is great pain, trouble, sorrow, loss, confusion, etc in them. There will be times in your life if you are really a Christian when you feel like God is punishing you, that He is causing you pain, that He is correcting you. sometimes our lives will be miserable, and it may even feel so bad that we wonder if God hates us, but it is in those times that we must cling to verses 11 and 12, because what we experience it as and what God is really doing may be vastly different. In fact, this verse tells us that it is not because God hates us that we are miserable, but because He loves us and enjoys us! He is our Father, and good fathers punish their kids because the kids need it to be healthy and maturing people, they need to become Godly, wise, and mature adults. Sometimes we are miserable because God is correcting us, He is teaching us. These verses probably lean to the punishment side of things, but sometimes God is not exactly punishing us as much as He is teaching us something important, much like Job, who was not being punished.
2.      However, there is a reason that the correction and punishment from Yahweh part comes after the Trust in Yahweh with all your heart part, and that is simply because when Yahweh is disciplining us, when He is punishing us, when He is correcting us, we first and foremost have to trust that Yahweh is wisest and knows what He is doing, that He is acting out of love and not hate. Moreover, we have to recognize that vv.11-12 are a natural outgrowth of vv.5-6, because Yahweh straightening us out, guiding our paths, while it will often be comfortable and pleasant, may sometimes be more painful depending on the kind and/or degree of the correction. The promise to guide us, also means the promise to put us on the right path and keep us there, even though that may at times hurt, but that is why we don’t depend on our own understanding, and why we seek to know Him in all our ways, because that way, when Yahweh puts us through something hard or painful we trust Him to know what He is doing and we see it as another opportunity to know Him more and recognize Him for Who He is in our lives.
3.      Of course, I’m telling you this, much like the father in Proverbs and ultimately Yahweh behind the father in Proverbs, because I love you all very much and I long for you to live long peace-filled lives. I want both God and people to say “I like that Christian, that Christian is so wise and successful.”

4.      While being humble, fearing Yahweh, and turning away from evil will probably 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grace is God's Power in Suffering and Service (2 Cor. 12.1-10; Eph. 3.1-13)

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12.1-10 and Ephesians 3
Translation: 2 Corinthians 12.1It’s necessary to brag, although not beneficial, and I will go into visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ 14 years ago, whether in the body I don’t know, or outside of the body I don’t know. God knows, such a man taken away all the way to the third heaven. 3I know such a man, whether in the body or without the body I don’t know, God knows 4that he was taken away into Paradise and heard unspeakable spoken words which are not allowed to be spoken to man. 5About such a man I will brag, but about myself I will not brag except in weaknesses. 6Because if I want to brag, I won’t be thoughtless, because I will speak the truth. But I’m holding back, someone shouldn’t credit to me about what he sees me or hears from me 7and the surpassing nature of the revelations. Because of this, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel/messenger of Satan, so that he might torment me, so that I wouldn’t exalt myself. 8About this I urged the Lord three times, so that it would go away from. 9And He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because the power is completed in weakness.” So, instead I brag the most happily in my weaknesses, so that the power of the Messiah encamp on me! 10Because of this I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in stresses, in persecutions and problems for the Messiah, because whenever I’m weak, then I’m powerful.
Ephesians 3.1Becuase of this, I Paul, the prisoner of the Messiah Jesus for you gentiles—2if indeed you’ve heard about the management of the grace of God that was given to me for you. 3According to revelation the secret was made known to me, just as I wrote before with a little part, 4to which you can know my understanding in the secret of the Messiah by reading, 5which was not made known in other generations to the sons of men as it was revealed now to HIs holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, 6namely that the gentiles are co-heirs, co-bodied, and co-sharers of the promise in the Messiah Jesus through the Gospel, which I’ve become a servant of according to the grace of God that was given to me according to the in-working of His power. 8To me, the least important of all the holy people this grace was given: namely to tell the gentiles the good news of the immeasurable riches of the Messiah, 9and to enlighten all people about what the management of secret that had been hidden from the ages in God, the One Who created all things, 10so that now the multifaceted wisdom of God would be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms through the church 11according to the plan of the ages, which He made in the Messiah Jesus our Lord, 12in Who we have the boldness and approach with confidence through His faithfulness. 13Because of which, I ask not to lose enthusiasm in my sufferings for you, which is your glory.
The Point I’m Stressing: Grace is not just God’s love acting to save us from our sins and give us a relationship with Him, it is God’s power at work in us and it is God’s choosing to commission us for His work, work empowered by Grace and work about Grace
1.      II Corinthians 12.1-10
a.       Structure
                                                              i.      Paul’s refusal to talk about the amazing things he has been shown by God (vv.1-7a)
                                                            ii.      Paul explicit zeal to brag about his weaknesses and God’s power (vv.7b-10)
b.      Themes
                                                              i.      Arrogance
                                                            ii.      Rejection of God-given authority
                                                          iii.      Bragging
                                                          iv.      Suffering
                                                            v.      Humility
                                                          vi.      Power
                                                        vii.      Grace
c.       Doctrines
2.      Ephesians 3.1-13
a.       Structure
                                                              i.      Beginning of a move to ethics and ecclesiology (v.1)
                                                            ii.      Interjection explaining his authority (vv.2-12)
1.      God revealed the mystery to Paul
2.      Paul serving and chosen to serve by grace for a purpose
                                                          iii.      Prayer (3.13-21)
1.      Prayer by Paul for himself (v.13)
2.      Prayer by Paul for the saints (vv.14-19)
3.      Prayer by Paul for God (vv.20-21)
b.      Themes
                                                              i.      Grace
                                                            ii.      Commission/calling
                                                          iii.      Mystery/secret
                                                          iv.      Revelation
                                                            v.      Gospel
a.       Where in your life do you need to trust that God’s power is enough? How can you rely on His power in suffering and in service?
b.      What is God calling you to do because of His grace?

c.       If God’s grace includes forgiveness, empowerment, and commission, is there anything else you think God’s grace might include?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The God Who's Involved (Matt. 2)

Translation: 2.1And when Jesus’ was born in Bethlehem of Judah in the days of King Herod, look magi from the eastern regions arrived into Jerusalem, 2saying, “Where is the King of the Jews Who was born? Because we’ve seen his star in the east and we’ve come to worship Him.” 3And when King Herod heard, he was upset, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And gathering all the arch-priests and scholars of the people, he asked of them, “Where will the Messiah be born?” 5And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judah, because that’s how it’s written by the prophet, 6“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, no way are you the least important among the rulers of Judah, because Someone Who will rule will come out from you, Who will shepherd My people Israel!” 7Then Herod after summoning the magi in secret tried to find out from them precisely the time of the star that appeared. 8And sending them into Bethlehem, he said, “One you travel [there], make an extra thorough search about the Little Child. And when you find [Him], tell me, so that I can also go and worship Him.” 9And when they had listened to the king, they traveled and look the star, which they saw in the east, led the way for them until it came and stopped over where the Little Child was. 10And seeing the star, they celebrated with crazy amounts of happiness! 11And coming into the house, they saw the Little Child with Mary, His mother. And they fell down and worshiped Him and once they opened their treasure chests and they offered Him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And because they were warned by dream no to return to Herod, they went far away to their region by another road.
13And when they were going back home—look, an angel of the Lord showed up in a dream to Joseph, saying “When you get up, take the Little Child and His mother and flee into Egypt and be there until I tell you, because Herod is about to look for the Little Child to destroy Him.” 14And when he got up, he took the Little Child and his mother during the night and went far away into Egypt. 15And he was there until the end of Herod, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled, when he said, “out of Egypt I called My Son!” 16Then when he saw that he was tricked by the magi, Herod was made really angry. And by sending [soldiers] he killed all the kids that were in Bethlehem and in all its boundaries from two-year-olds and younger, according to the time which He found out precisely from the magi. 17Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, when he said, 18“A sound was heard in Rama, lots of crying and mourning, Rachel crying for her children and she doesn’t want to be comforted, because they’re gone.

19And when Herod met his end—look an angel of the Lord showed up by dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20saying, “When you get up take the Little Child and His mother and go into the land of Israel, because the people looking for the life of the Little Children are have died. 21And when he got up he told the Little Child and His mother and went into the land of Israel. 22And because he heard that Archelaus was reigning as king over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was scared enough there to leave. And because he was Divinely warned by dream he went far away into the districts of Galilee. 23And when he came, he settled down into the city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken through the prophets would be fulfilled, namely that He would be called a Nazarene.
a.       What can we offer to Jesus this Christmas?
b.      What promises has God given us that we should trust Him to keep?
c.       What would it look like to live out the faith of Joseph in your own life
d.      How is God involved in your live each day?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jesus Savior from our Sins, Emmanuel God with Us (Matt. 1.18-25)

Scripture: Matthew 1.18-25
Translation: 18And the birth of Jesus the Messiah was like this. When His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found having [a baby] in her tummy by the Holy Spirit. 19And Joseph, her husband, because he was righteous and didn’t want to expose her, planned to divorce her in secret.20And while he thought about these things—look, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be scared to take Mary home as your wife, because what was fathered in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21And she will give birth to a Son, and you will call His Name, Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins!” 22And this whole thing happened, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled, when he said, 23“Look, the virgin will have [a baby] in her tummy, and she will give birth to a Son, and they will call His Name Emmanuel” which is translated, “God is with us!” 24And when he woke up from sleep, Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took home his wife. 25And he didn’t know her sexually until she gave birth to the Son and he called His Name Jesus.
Passage Summary: See structure
The Point I’m Stressing: Jesus is our Savior, the Savior from our sins, Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us! This means that we look to Jesus to save us from our sins to give us eternal, and to save us from acting sinfully in time, as well as looking to Him to accomplish amazing things and suffer horrendous things with courage and comfort!
1.      Structure
a.       Intro
b.      Problem: Mary’s pregnant
c.       Rising Action: Joseph plans to divorce her
d.      Climax: Angel brings God’s Message to Joseph to marry Mary
e.       Interrupting Explanation: Jesus’ birth fulfills prophecy, He is truly God with us!
f.       Conclusion: Joseph obeys the angel and marries Mary, but doesn’t have sex with her until after she gives birth to Jesus
2.      Theme
a.       Jesus is the Son of David, hence the King
b.      Miraculous Conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit: God is Jesus’ Daddy
c.       Jesus is the Savior of His people from their sins
d.      Jesus is God with Us
e.       Obedience and Faith in God’s message
f.       Fulfilling Prophecy
3.      Doctrines
a.       Virgin Birth
b.      Jesus is God
c.       Jesus is the Savior of His People from their Sins
d.      Faith and obedience is the proper response of people to God’s message, even if it is crazy
4.      Notes
a.       The quotation from Isaiah 7.14 is interesting for several reasons.
                                                              i.      In the Hebrew Bible it reads “and SHE will call His Name Emmanuel” not “THEY will call”
                                                            ii.      In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, it reads “and YOU will call His Name Emmanuel” not “THEY will call” (reading “YOU will call” is another possible reading of the Hebrew Text without vowels, which is how it was originally written down, so both understand the same underline Hebrew Text)
                                                          iii.      Thus, Matthew is intentionally changing the wording of the passage he is quoting to make a point, namely that point is that Jesus is Emmanuel, He is God with us. His point seems to be that it will not just be that His mother calls Him Emmanuel, or even that Joseph is commanded to call him Emmanuel (although it should be noted that the prophecy/command to Joseph is a verbatim quote from the Septuagint Isa. 7.14 “she will…you will call His name ___” in v.21, only instead of Emmanuel the author inserts “Jesus” and gives the explanation for the name), but that everyone will call Jesus Emmanuel, God with us! That is that His people, us Christians, and one day the Jewish people, will recognize that He is God, and that He is with us! And even one day the whole world will recognize that Jesus was God with us, although for them it will be a terrifying realization, since they will have opposed Him. This makes Jesus being God with Us the main focus of the passage, but with the change of Emmanuel in the quote in v.22 to Jesus the point is sharpened to Jesus is God with us, but especially God with us to save us from our sins!
                                                          iv.      (from my Christmas sermon 18 Dec 2011) Notice it is “they will call His Name Emmanuel” it is not “she” or even “you” here in Matthew, but in Hebrew it reads “she will call his name Emmanuel,” which means that the author of here is making a point. It will not just be a woman who will name him, or even Joseph, but everyone will say that He lives up to His name, people will see that God is on their side and given them reason to trust and hope in Him even when there is so much against them, but moreover, that God really is with them, they will see that God has become one of them! That He is with them! More than He ever has! There is a longing in their heart to have God be with them, to have Him be on their side, and Christ is the answer to that, but also a reminder that He has not given up on His people, on Israel, on the promise He made to David!
1.      Believe in the Virgin Birth, it is true and it is the first step of trusting that God is the God Who can do anything, and in believing that Jesus really is God!
2.      Be like Joseph, when God tells you to do something even if it seems impossible, trust Him and do it
3.      Depend on Jesus to save you from your sins, don’t depend on being a nice person, on having a certain Christian social status (trusting that being an important person in the church will get you saved), on sin not being a big deal, don’t depend on growing up in a Christian family, on going to church, or even on God forgiving you for no reason, but only on Jesus as your Savior from your sins. As Christians we don’t depend on God to forgive us because He is nice or because He doesn’t care about sin, rather we trust in God to forgive us because Jesus saved us from our sins, that is from the punishment that God was going to give us because of our sins! We depend on Jesus to save us! We depend on Jesus to have forgiveness! We depend on Jesus to deal with our sins!
4.      Of course, Jesus being our Savior from our sins is not just about Jesus making it possible for us to have forgiveness and a relationship with God the Father, Jesus being our Savior from sins, means that Jesus saves us from living lives of sin, Jesus saves us not just from God’s wrath, but from having to live as sinners. Jesus empowers us to overcome sin by His Holy Spirit. Jesus’ own life and example show us how to live lives in a broken evil world without succumbing to sin!
5.      God is with us!!! This is what we know is true about Jesus, not only was He 100% human, at the same time He was 100% God! God really lived with us, lived like us, lived as One of us! God is with us in Jesus Christ! Jesus is with us even now! This is what we believe and depend on! Jesus is God and He is with us! The book of Matthew ends with these words, “Look, I am with you all the days until the end of the era!” Jesus is with us! All the time, forever! There is never a day that Jesus is not with you and me and with us together! Jesus is God and He is with us! That means there is never a time where you or I will ever be truly alone! There will never be a time when God has abandoned you! there will never be a moment where you or I or us together won’t be able to depend on Jesus for something! Jesus being with us is about Jesus being our God and us being His people! Jesus is with us, He is with us in power, so He is with us to empower us to overcome, to live for Him. He is with us when our lives and dreams and desires and loved ones are falling apart! He is with us when we are telling our friends about Jesus! He is with us when we need Him! He is with us when cruel people say horrible things about us, when our friends betray us, when we fail our final, when our grandparent dies, whenever we need comfort!
6.      But Jesus is also with us in our successes, in our joys, and in our victories, and it is because He is with us that we can give Him the credit He deserves for those successes, joys, and victories, because they really came by Him and because of Him!
7.      So we can have comfort and courage all the time because He is with us! We can overcome and we can suffer because He is with us! He is with us to rule and He is with us to save!
8.      It is interesting that the angel says “His people” and not “your people” when talking to Joseph, that is because ultimately the most important thing about us is that we are His people. Even the Jews, Joseph’s people, His own ethnicity and relatives, are more Jesus’ people that his own. He is God and belonging to Him is the most important qualifier. Our identity must be mainly with Him, but this is also a comfort, because it assures us that Jesus will save us, we belong to Him, He will save us! He is with us to save us!
9.      Questions
a.       What does knowing God is with you all the time forever change about how you live your life? What are some things you need Jesus to be with you to accomplish? What are some things that you need Jesus to be with you to suffer through?
b.      Where is your ultimate identity found? Is it found in being part of God’s people? In being with Jesus? In being saved? In being Korean, or white, or black, or Hispanic or whatever? Is it in grades? Is it in your family? Is it social status? Where is it? And why is it there?
c.       What sins do you need Jesus to save you from? Have you trusted Him to save you from all sins? If so, what sins are you struggling with that you need Him to save you from? What are some sins that our whole group as a group needs to be saved from?

1.      Imagine you were Joseph and Mary comes to you and is like “Honey, I’m pregnant” and you’re like “with whose baby?” and she’s like “it’s God’s baby, it’s a miracle!” would you be like, “Oh, Mary, I believe you, it being a miracle is so much more likely than you running around on me, let’s get married anyway!” or like “Girl, what’s your problem, you couldn’t wait a few more months? Who is it? Cheater, the wedding is off!” 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jesus is the Triple Double Perfect Davidic King (Matt. 1.1-17)

Scripture: Matthew 1.1-17
Translation: 1.1The book of the lineage of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2Abraham fathered Isaac. And Isaac fathered Jacob. And Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers. 3And Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar. And Perez fathered Hezron. And Hezron fathered Aram. 4And Aram fathered Aminadab. And Aminadab fathered Naashon. And Naashon fathered Salmon. 5And Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab. And Boaz fathered Jobed by Ruth. And Jobed fathered Jesse. 6And Jesse fathered David the King.
And David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife. 7And Solomon fathered Rehoboam. And Rehoboam fathered Abijah. And Abijah fathered Asaph.8And Asaph fathered Josaphat. And Josaphat fathered Joram. And Joram fathered Uzziah. 9And Uzziah fathered Jotham. And Jotham fathered Ahaz. And Ahaz fathered Hezekiah. 10And Hezekiah fathered Manasseh. And Manasseh fathered Amos. And Amos fathered Josiah. 11And Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers at the exile by Babylon.
12And after the exile by Babylon Jechoniah fathered Salathiel. And Salathiel fathered Zerubbabel. 13And Zerubbabel fathered Abiud. And Abiud fathered Eliakim. And Eliakim fathered Azor. 14And Azor fathered Zadok. And Zadok fathered Achim. And Achim fathered Eliud. 15And Eliud fathered Eleazar. And Eleazar fathered Matthan. And Matthan fathered Jacob. 16And Jacob fathered Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom Jesus, the One called ‘Messiah’ was born. 17So, all the generations from Abraham until David were 14 generations, and from David until the exile by Babylon were 14 generations, and from the exile by Babylon until the Messiah were 14 generations.
1.      Structure
a.       Summary Heading (v.1)
b.      Group 1: Abraham to David: 14 Generations (vv.2-6a)
c.       Group 2: Solomon to Jechoniah: 14 Generations (vv.6b-11)
d.      Group 3: Salathiel to Jesus: 14 (13) Generations (vv.12-16)
e.       Summary Conclusion (v.17)
2.      Themes
a.       14 generations
                                                              i.      As it turns out, the final group of 14 only comes up to 14 if you count Jeconiah again at the beginning. So the importance of the number 14 is what is key, the author is bending the expectations and rules to fit what he is trying to say
                                                            ii.      The number 14 is significant because it double the number of completion: 14 = 2 x 7, which is a way of saying extra perfect. The perfection probably has something to do with two parts, perfection in time (i.e. God sent the Messiah at exactly the perfect time) and perfection in Davidic lineage (i.e. Jesus really is the Davidic King, He is the perfect Davidic King)
                                                          iii.      This relates to the other significance of the number 14, the letters of the Jewish alphabet that make up David’s name, דוד, add up to the number 14, because the Hebrew alphabet was also the Hebrew numbering system: (ד = 4) + (ו = 6) + (ד = 4) = (דוד = 14). The point then is that Jesus really is in David’s family, and moreover He is the true and perfect Davidic King
                                                          iv.      This is also related to the fact that the 14 generations occur 3 times, which is another number for wholeness or perfection, so Jesus is actually triply doubly Davidic and His Birth is triply doubly Perfectly Timed
b.      Fathering
                                                              i.      The word for fathered, which when passive means was born (so including the usage of Jesus being born from Mary), was used 40x
                                                            ii.      This implies an understanding of the promise to Abraham that God would bless him and give him a huge number of descendants and use Abraham and His promise to him to bless the world
                                                          iii.      It also implies an understanding that God made that promise to David that we learned about last week
c.       Kings
                                                              i.      David marks the divider because he was the first Davidic king, but that is only important because of what we learned last week, that Yahweh made a promise to David to have one of his descendents ruling on his throne for forever
                                                            ii.      Zerubbabel is actually also a king figure, even though he is not a king himself, because he led the people back to Jerusalem at the end of the exile
d.      Women
                                                              i.      Two women related to sexual misconduct
1.      Tamar
2.      Uriah’s wife
                                                            ii.      Two Gentile women who turned from idols to worship Yahweh
1.      Rahab
2.      Ruth
e.       Names
                                                              i.      God also promised to give Abraham a famous name, and indeed He has, and given him a host of descendents with famous names
                                                            ii.      It also indicates that each named person was important for one reason or another
f.       Messiah
                                                              i.      The title appears in the heading and in the conclusion. It is the main point. God has finally sent His perfect Davidic King at the exactly perfect time
                                                            ii.      Jesus is the Messiah. This is the main theme of the book, but He is a certain kind of Messiah, He is the God-sent, Davidic King
3.      Doctrines
a.       Jesus is the Messiah
b.      God keeps His promises perfectly in every way
c.       Jesus is the Davidic King, He’s the KING!
1.      Do we trust God to keep His promises perfectly?
2.      Do we obey Jesus as King?
3.      We can have hope that Jesus our King will come the second time just like He came the first time, as the Perfect King at the Perfect Time.
4.      Do we really put all our hopes and dreams in Jesus?

5.      Is Jesus our King in every aspect of our live? Does He rule our social life? Our romantic life? Our entertainment life? Our school life? Our home life? Our church life? Our work life? Our future life? Our plans? Our dreams? Our money? Our talents? Our time? Our minds? Our emotions? Our actions?