Tag Cloud
: Sorrow : Mothers 1 Peter Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abuse Accounting Activism Affection Affliction Afterlife America Angels Anger Apologetics Apostasy Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Babylon Bad Baptism Betrayal Bible Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Borders Born Again Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Celebration Character Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Civil Disobedience Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Creation Creator Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deception Defense Delegation Demon Possession Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Enemies Enemy Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Evangelism Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Fellowship Finances Fire First Coming Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles George Wood Giving Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hardship Harvest Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Herod Hidden Holy Holy Spirit Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lamp Law Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Man Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Man Old Nature Old Testament One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Patience Patriotism Peace Pentecost People of God Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Provision Punishment Purgatory Purpose Questions Racism Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Satan Savior Schemes Science Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Sons of God Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teaching Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Trouble Trust Truth Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Volunteer Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast Zion

Weekly Word

Entries in Promise (4)

Tuesday
May232017

The Promise of the Father

Isaiah 59:19-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 21, 2017.

In Acts 1:4 it says of Jesus and his disciples, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’”  We are going to take some time to answer the question, “What promise from the Father is He talking about?”  There are many promises throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, some of them promise blessing, and some of them promise judgment.  But Jesus is clearly referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Old Testament we see at first hints of this promised giving of the Holy Spirit.  However several places in the prophets make a clear promise from God that this day was coming.  Just as people were baptized in water by John to point to a spiritual inward act of repentance, so at a higher level would be the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Repentance is good.  But, if the Holy Spirit does not take up residence in our heart and then also fill us with His enabling power, moment by moment, then the repentance will fall short and our faith will wither.  This baptism takes that initial connection to the Spirit of God and makes it a continual, empowering presence.

Now it is easy in this world to lose sight of the reality that God promises to place His Spirit upon us, and within us.  If we try merely to be righteous without a real, abiding presence of the Lord, we will find ourselves drained of any spiritual strength, and without a sustaining hope.  So let’s beware the trap of only living righteously in the natural.  But, let us live out that righteousness with the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

He promises to deliver

It would be good to read the whole chapter in order to get the context of these verses.  You will find two things in this passage.  First, you will see that Israel had turned from God and towards unrighteousness.  They had become such a wicked society that those who tried to follow the Lord made “themselves a prey” (vs. 15).  It was a dangerous time to be a person who followed the ways of the Lord.  The situation is so dire that the Lord is pictured in vs. 16 amazed that they had been taken captive by sin and there was no one who could step in and deliver them.  We could think that surely Isaiah could be the answer.  But, it takes more than a prophet to speak on behalf of God to save people from their sins.  Even Isaiah himself testified that, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”  Thus it transitions by saying that the Lord would bring forth salvation and deliverance by His own right arm.

This deliverance is described in verses 16-18.  There we see a dual deliverance.  Israel would be delivered from the wicked of the nations that surrounded them.  However, God would also judge Israel and deliver the righteous from the unrighteous within the land.  God recognized that not all Israel was righteous.  In fact, though it is true that the nations persecuted and oppressed Israel, the righteous of the land were even more oppressed by the wicked that rose up from within the nation.  This was not a national problem that could be fixed with a war to end all wars.  It was a problem that started in the heart of every man, woman, boy, and girl.  So what is a person who wants to serve God supposed to do?  They need to recognize the reality that we can easily see the sins of others and blame them for our struggle.  But, we rarely recognize the truth that our greatest persecution comes from with our own sinful nature.  Our hearts betray us and long for paths that lead to pain and destruction.  Ultimately the Bible makes it clear that God is giving people a choice.  You can either let God deliver you from your own sins, or you can reject him and join ranks with the rebels, both the heavenly ones (the devil and his angels) and the earthly ones (wicked humans).  This promise to deliver from our external enemies and our internal threat, both foreign and domestic threats, brings us to verse 19 where the whole earth will fear the Lord when He accomplishes this deliverance.  In some ways our Lord accomplished this deliverance at the cross.  He made provision for our own sins to be forgiven, and He secured for us an eternal inheritance that overcomes anything the wicked of this world could do to us (including kill us).  However, at our Lord’s Second Coming, the Scriptures are clear that he will remove the heavenly and earthly rebels and hand the administration of the earth over to the righteous.  So in a sense we are still waiting for this to be fulfilled, all the while enjoying the benefits of our Lord’s deliverance begun at the cross.

The second part of verse 19 has a grammar issue.  It is not clear just what is coming like a flood.  If it is the enemy then the clause states this, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up against it.”  However, it is possible that it is the Spirit of the Lord itself that comes like a flood.  And thus it would read, “The Spirit will come like a violent river against it.”  In the end both options leave us with the sense that no matter what the enemy does, God has a day in which He will judge them and remove them out of the way.  That day will leave the whole earth trembling in fear at His great power.  We must not forget, in these days when it seems that wickedness reigns in every nation on earth, and holds the reins of power in every aspect of our societies, that God has not forsaken us.  Through Jesus, He has taken up the task of delivering us as our representative champion.

However, verse 20, uses the title of this champion, The Redeemer.  The word could be translated “Kinsman Redeemer,” like it is used in the book of Ruth.  The idea of the Kinsman redeemer was that close relatives were to safeguard the person, property, and posterity of their extended family.  Thus if someone was murdered then a close relative was to take up the role of Kinsman Redeemer.  They would take on the duty of seeking out who did it and getting justice.  In Ruth the issue is more about property and posterity.  Ruth had married an Israelite who had sold his land and moved to Moab because of famine.  When she comes to Israel, she is technically heir to his property, but doesn’t have the money to redeem it (buy it back).  Not only this but, they had no children before her husband died.  Thus his name or lineage was in danger of dying out.  Thus the story is about Ruth asking Boaz to be a Kinsman Redeemer to her.  He does this by marrying Ruth and restoring both her property and her posterity.  This gives us background to why Jesus becomes a human.  It is so that he can be our Kinsman redeemer.  He is one of us.  We are all under the threat of death due to our sins.  We have been plundered of all our inheritance that God has intended for us and are spiritually childless.  However, Jesus steps in and takes those who turn from transgression (vs. 20) as a bride.  In Him we now have eternal life, an eternal inheritance and an eternal posterity.  The deliverance is not just from external enemies, but also from a plight of powerlessness that have brought upon our self through sin.  In Jesus, all that the devil has done to spoil God’s kingdom is overturned for those who “turn from transgression.”  So the promise of deliverance is not to the wicked, but to those who are like Ruth.  They long to take their place in God’s kingdom but are powerless to do so.  These he buys back from their sin and its consequence of death.  These He redeems.

He promises a covenant with the redeemed

Verse 21 states that the Lord will make a covenant with those who are being redeemed.  This is clearly a covenant that is different from the covenant that God made through Moses.  This is why the Bible is divided into the Old Testament (or Covenant) and a New Testament (or Covenant).  The promise/covenant is basically God’s Holy Spirit.  The same Spirit, that was upon Isaiah in order to reveal to Israel the Word of God, would be upon all those who are spiritually descended from him, or have the same faith as him.  I say this because Jesus points out this line of argument in John 8, where the crowd in Jerusalem thought they were protected because they were Abraham’s children.  Jesus challenges this assertion and points out that they are nothing like Abraham.  If they were truly Abraham’s children then they would have rejoiced to see Jesus and embraced him.  But, they were nothing like Abraham.  They were like their true father the devil.  The point is not that Jesus thinks that they are biologically from the devil.  Rather, they may be biologically children of Abraham, but they are spiritually children of the devil.  They have turned their back on their earthly and heavenly father, and chosen to identify with an evil, fallen father.  So too in this passage, the descendants are not just biological descendants.  Yes, parents must endeavor to raise up their biological children to also become their spiritual children.  But, what is God’s promise to these descendants?  The Spirit of God will be upon them and fill their mouths with God’s Word.

It is important to recognize both aspects.  We are intended to walk daily with the Holy Spirit upon our life and filling our mouth with God’s Word.  This daily communion with the Spirit and this daily filling of our heart and mind with God’s thoughts and decrees is a promise that God has made available for us.  So the question is, “Are you spiritually a descendant of those who believed on Jesus, and if so, are you walking in harmony with God’s Spirit?”  May God help us to reject this world’s encouragement to pursue the things of the flesh and thereby losing the precious communion and empowering that He has for us.

Not only would the Spirit be in their life, but it would not be a momentary thing.  In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit only came upon certain individuals and only at certain times.  Thus the Holy Spirit’s presence was an uncommon event that came upon uncommon people at uncommon times.  This promise is that the Holy Spirit would become the common experience of the common, righteous person, without end.  It is this promise that enables us to live in a world surrounded by the unrighteous (both spiritual and natural), wrestle with our internal, fleshly nature, and be victorious.  Jesus not only overcame the world, but He enables us to overcome the world.  By the Holy Spirit we can go into our heart and mind and recognize the areas that need to be let go and the areas that need to be built up.  He can free us even from that inner unrighteousness that seeks to overcome us.  In Christ we are more than victorious over our own sin-problem.  We are enabled to be rescuers of others.  Let’s ask God for this promise each and every day.  Let’s seek the help of the Holy Spirit for our battles both internal and external.

Promise of the Father audio

Tuesday
May232017

The Promise of the Father

Isaiah 59:19-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 21, 2017.

In Acts 1:4 it says of Jesus and his disciples, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’”  We are going to take some time to answer the question, “What promise from the Father is He talking about?”  There are many promises throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, some of them promise blessing, and some of them promise judgment.  But Jesus is clearly referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Old Testament we see at first hints of this promised giving of the Holy Spirit.  However several places in the prophets make a clear promise from God that this day was coming.  Just as people were baptized in water by John to point to a spiritual inward act of repentance, so at a higher level would be the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Repentance is good.  But, if the Holy Spirit does not take up residence in our heart and then also fill us with His enabling power, moment by moment, then the repentance will fall short and our faith will wither.  This baptism takes that initial connection to the Spirit of God and makes it a continual, empowering presence.

Now it is easy in this world to lose sight of the reality that God promises to place His Spirit upon us, and within us.  If we try merely to be righteous without a real, abiding presence of the Lord, we will find ourselves drained of any spiritual strength, and without a sustaining hope.  So let’s beware the trap of only living righteously in the natural.  But, let us live out that righteousness with the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

He promises to deliver

It would be good to read the whole chapter in order to get the context of these verses.  You will find two things in this passage.  First, you will see that Israel had turned from God and towards unrighteousness.  They had become such a wicked society that those who tried to follow the Lord made “themselves a prey” (vs. 15).  It was a dangerous time to be a person who followed the ways of the Lord.  The situation is so dire that the Lord is pictured in vs. 16 amazed that they had been taken captive by sin and there was no one who could step in and deliver them.  We could think that surely Isaiah could be the answer.  But, it takes more than a prophet to speak on behalf of God to save people from their sins.  Even Isaiah himself testified that, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”  Thus it transitions by saying that the Lord would bring forth salvation and deliverance by His own right arm.

This deliverance is described in verses 16-18.  There we see a dual deliverance.  Israel would be delivered from the wicked of the nations that surrounded them.  However, God would also judge Israel and deliver the righteous from the unrighteous within the land.  God recognized that not all Israel was righteous.  In fact, though it is true that the nations persecuted and oppressed Israel, the righteous of the land were even more oppressed by the wicked that rose up from within the nation.  This was not a national problem that could be fixed with a war to end all wars.  It was a problem that started in the heart of every man, woman, boy, and girl.  So what is a person who wants to serve God supposed to do?  They need to recognize the reality that we can easily see the sins of others and blame them for our struggle.  But, we rarely recognize the truth that our greatest persecution comes from with our own sinful nature.  Our hearts betray us and long for paths that lead to pain and destruction.  Ultimately the Bible makes it clear that God is giving people a choice.  You can either let God deliver you from your own sins, or you can reject him and join ranks with the rebels, both the heavenly ones (the devil and his angels) and the earthly ones (wicked humans).  This promise to deliver from our external enemies and our internal threat, both foreign and domestic threats, brings us to verse 19 where the whole earth will fear the Lord when He accomplishes this deliverance.  In some ways our Lord accomplished this deliverance at the cross.  He made provision for our own sins to be forgiven, and He secured for us an eternal inheritance that overcomes anything the wicked of this world could do to us (including kill us).  However, at our Lord’s Second Coming, the Scriptures are clear that he will remove the heavenly and earthly rebels and hand the administration of the earth over to the righteous.  So in a sense we are still waiting for this to be fulfilled, all the while enjoying the benefits of our Lord’s deliverance begun at the cross.

The second part of verse 19 has a grammar issue.  It is not clear just what is coming like a flood.  If it is the enemy then the clause states this, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up against it.”  However, it is possible that it is the Spirit of the Lord itself that comes like a flood.  And thus it would read, “The Spirit will come like a violent river against it.”  In the end both options leave us with the sense that no matter what the enemy does, God has a day in which He will judge them and remove them out of the way.  That day will leave the whole earth trembling in fear at His great power.  We must not forget, in these days when it seems that wickedness reigns in every nation on earth, and holds the reins of power in every aspect of our societies, that God has not forsaken us.  Through Jesus, He has taken up the task of delivering us as our representative champion.

However, verse 20, uses the title of this champion, The Redeemer.  The word could be translated “Kinsman Redeemer,” like it is used in the book of Ruth.  The idea of the Kinsman redeemer was that close relatives were to safeguard the person, property, and posterity of their extended family.  Thus if someone was murdered then a close relative was to take up the role of Kinsman Redeemer.  They would take on the duty of seeking out who did it and getting justice.  In Ruth the issue is more about property and posterity.  Ruth had married an Israelite who had sold his land and moved to Moab because of famine.  When she comes to Israel, she is technically heir to his property, but doesn’t have the money to redeem it (buy it back).  Not only this but, they had no children before her husband died.  Thus his name or lineage was in danger of dying out.  Thus the story is about Ruth asking Boaz to be a Kinsman Redeemer to her.  He does this by marrying Ruth and restoring both her property and her posterity.  This gives us background to why Jesus becomes a human.  It is so that he can be our Kinsman redeemer.  He is one of us.  We are all under the threat of death due to our sins.  We have been plundered of all our inheritance that God has intended for us and are spiritually childless.  However, Jesus steps in and takes those who turn from transgression (vs. 20) as a bride.  In Him we now have eternal life, an eternal inheritance and an eternal posterity.  The deliverance is not just from external enemies, but also from a plight of powerlessness that have brought upon our self through sin.  In Jesus, all that the devil has done to spoil God’s kingdom is overturned for those who “turn from transgression.”  So the promise of deliverance is not to the wicked, but to those who are like Ruth.  They long to take their place in God’s kingdom but are powerless to do so.  These he buys back from their sin and its consequence of death.  These He redeems.

He promises a covenant with the redeemed

Verse 21 states that the Lord will make a covenant with those who are being redeemed.  This is clearly a covenant that is different from the covenant that God made through Moses.  This is why the Bible is divided into the Old Testament (or Covenant) and a New Testament (or Covenant).  The promise/covenant is basically God’s Holy Spirit.  The same Spirit, that was upon Isaiah in order to reveal to Israel the Word of God, would be upon all those who are spiritually descended from him, or have the same faith as him.  I say this because Jesus points out this line of argument in John 8, where the crowd in Jerusalem thought they were protected because they were Abraham’s children.  Jesus challenges this assertion and points out that they are nothing like Abraham.  If they were truly Abraham’s children then they would have rejoiced to see Jesus and embraced him.  But, they were nothing like Abraham.  They were like their true father the devil.  The point is not that Jesus thinks that they are biologically from the devil.  Rather, they may be biologically children of Abraham, but they are spiritually children of the devil.  They have turned their back on their earthly and heavenly father, and chosen to identify with an evil, fallen father.  So too in this passage, the descendants are not just biological descendants.  Yes, parents must endeavor to raise up their biological children to also become their spiritual children.  But, what is God’s promise to these descendants?  The Spirit of God will be upon them and fill their mouths with God’s Word.

It is important to recognize both aspects.  We are intended to walk daily with the Holy Spirit upon our life and filling our mouth with God’s Word.  This daily communion with the Spirit and this daily filling of our heart and mind with God’s thoughts and decrees is a promise that God has made available for us.  So the question is, “Are you spiritually a descendant of those who believed on Jesus, and if so, are you walking in harmony with God’s Spirit?”  May God help us to reject this world’s encouragement to pursue the things of the flesh and thereby losing the precious communion and empowering that He has for us.

Not only would the Spirit be in their life, but it would not be a momentary thing.  In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit only came upon certain individuals and only at certain times.  Thus the Holy Spirit’s presence was an uncommon event that came upon uncommon people at uncommon times.  This promise is that the Holy Spirit would become the common experience of the common, righteous person, without end.  It is this promise that enables us to live in a world surrounded by the unrighteous (both spiritual and natural), wrestle with our internal, fleshly nature, and be victorious.  Jesus not only overcame the world, but He enables us to overcome the world.  By the Holy Spirit we can go into our heart and mind and recognize the areas that need to be let go and the areas that need to be built up.  He can free us even from that inner unrighteousness that seeks to overcome us.  In Christ we are more than victorious over our own sin-problem.  We are enabled to be rescuers of others.  Let’s ask God for this promise each and every day.  Let’s seek the help of the Holy Spirit for our battles both internal and external.

Tuesday
Dec292015

Believe for Greater Things - Sarah

Genesis 18:1-15.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on December 27, 2015.  This series is an adaptation of a sermon preached by Dr. George O. Wood at the General Council of the Assemblies of God in Orlando, Florida on August 6, 2013.  He deserves full credit for the framework and many points of this sermon.

The theme for our week of prayer next week is “Believe for Greater Things!”  As such we will spend the following weeks looking at 4 different women who were instrumental in God’s plan of salvation.  Each of them had similar experiences and yet with interesting and challenging differences.  They all were challenged to trust and believe God for the things that were being promised to them and to Israel.

When we look at faith it should be recognized that there are several aspects to it.  First there is the past aspect, in which faith looks back to what God has done.  It is that which informs the content of our faith and affirms its existence.  We believe what we do because of what God has said and done in the past.  Another aspect of faith is how it looks forward to the thing or things for which we believe.  Thus when we put our faith in Jesus we do so not just because of what happened 2,000 years ago, but also because of what is promised in our future.  Lastly there is the present aspect of faith that lives within moment by moment tension of the other two aspects.  How we live our life today has everything to do with the strength of our faith regarding the past and the future.  We must know what we believe, but we also must know the thing for which we believe, whether that is in our personal life, our family, ministry, and even our nation.

These four women: Sarah, Naomi, Hannah, and Mary helped change history.  We want to see how their faith in God was not easy and was not what most had who were around them.  However, we will also see how God used their faith to bring forth His plan of salvation to mankind.

The Faith of Sarah

Now God had already promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation in Genesis 12:2.  Later God added to this revelation that it would be done through one who came from his own body and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky, and sands of the seashore (Genesis 15:4, 5).  These promises began when Abraham was 75 and Sarah was 65 as best we can tell.  It is important to recognize the tension that exists between what God promises and what we experience day by day.  Thus God promises children to a couple who had been physically unable to have children.  On top of this He waits until she is past the age of child bearing to give the promise.  For you see, up until Genesis 18, God has not revealed that the children would also come from the body of Sarah.  Thus our story of three strangers visiting Abraham and promising that Sarah will have a child within the next year is a revelation that catches her off-guard.

Thus we are told Sarah laughs when she first hears God’s promise.  Clearly she had come to accept her lot in life.  She would never have children.  Without a word from heaven, God had made it abundantly clear to her that she would never be pregnant and give birth.  She has also had to come to terms with the reality that the great promises to Abraham would clearly not happen through her.  Most likely she struggled with guilt for not giving Abraham children, and self-esteem for being a hindrance to such great promises.  Her love for Abraham is such that she had given her servant Hagar to Abraham as a wife to raise up a child in her stead.  Thus Sarah is in the odd position of one who believes that God’s promise is true, but that His plan does not have much of a part for her.  Perhaps she sometimes thought, “Yes, God loves some people, but not me.”  I say that not because we might know how Sarah felt.  But we can know how we might have felt.  Such situations can be very trying for a woman and for a man.  Yet, here in the last years of her life she is told that she is going to give birth.  You would laugh too if promised such a ridiculous sounding thing.

Yes, Sarah was not quick to believe this new development to the promise.  Yet, God knows our frailty.  Faith is not just about an exchange of information.  It is an experience of walking day by day with a God who is far greater than we can imagine.  At scales far beyond, we are children walking with an amazing Father who does things hard for us to believe and imagine.  Thus faith is not about instantaneously believing and never having a doubt.  It is about learning to trust God as we walk with Him. 

Do you believe that God loves you and has a portion for you in the midst of what He is doing?  Don’t let the sin of bitterness and self-hatred eat you up from the inside.   Continually lay these things on God’s altar and wait upon Him.  Let Him reveal to you what He is doing.  Also, don’t let your lack of ability become the reason why you don’t trust God.  If He promises something it will not depend upon our ability to do anything but trust Him.

Another thing we see here is that God is with us when it looks like nothing is happening.   After the promise of Genesis 12, Sarah waited 10 years and yet she still couldn’t have children.  It was at that time she offered Hagar to Abraham.  Yet when Hagar had a child, God made it clear that Ishmael would not be the promised child.  Now we are 24 years after the initial promise and still nothing is happening.  It often appears in life like nothing is happening and that God’s promise was just an imagination.  Most of this is because we do not see what we expect to see, when we expect to see it.  God’s way and timing is different than ours.  Why would he wait until Sarah is 89 to give her a child?  In the walk of faith with God we may be asked to do ridiculous things, like having Abraham be circumcised at 99 years of age. 

Times of waiting are an important part of what God is doing in your life.  It may look like He is doing nothing.  But it is precisely the wait that is shaping us into the image of our Lord Jesus.

This leads to the next thing.  God is always up to something regardless of how well we believe in the moment.  Over the years a teaching has developed that promotes a kind of faith in our own ability to believe.  It simply states that if you believe enough and have no doubt, you will get what you ask for.  The problem is that God should always be the object of our faith.  His plan is not dependent upon us to the degree that it cannot happen without us.  However, our place within His plan can be impacted by our ability to learn to trust Him.  Thus we sometimes cause people to feel like the burden is on them to conjure up a mystical ability that will make something happen.  Whereas the truth is that faith grows and deepens in that moment of brokenness when we throw ourselves upon the Lord and say, “Lord, I can’t do it.  Help me!”  Yes, you are going to have to believe God.  But, it is not all dependent upon you.  God is aware of your frailties and weakness.  He is the one who is teaching you to trust Him.  He will carry you through if you will cast yourself upon Him over and over again.  Even in your times of doubt, God is bringing things to the exact place that He said He would.  Will you trust Him?

Lastly, the amazing story of Abraham and Sarah teaches us that nothing is too difficult for the Lord.  I have dealt more with the situation than I have with the story.  However, the Bible tells us that the Lord asks Abraham, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”  That is a question that tests us all.  Throughout His ministry, Jesus answered this over and over again.  In Matthew 19:26 he said, “… with God all things are possible.”  We have to stop looking at ourselves and our inabilities and start looking to the Lord.  Whether God is going to make an 89 year old, barren woman conceive, or simply change the hard heart of a wayward loved-one, nothing is too difficult for God.

What are you believing for?  God has given us general promises that are amazing and impossible.  If we remain in Him to the end we will have a part in the Glory of Jesus, resurrection of our mortal bodies into immortal ones, and a restoration of the heavens and the earth.  These things do not look probable, but we must learn to trust the Lord for them.  Yet, God has a particular plan for you as well.  Take time over these next weeks to pray for your life, your work, your relationships, and ministry.  Ask God to fill your mind and heart with the plans that He has for you.  I guarantee you it is greater than you think that you do.  And, you would be right.  It is not what God wants you to do, but what God is going to do in you and through you.  Let’s believe for greater things this year.

Believe-Sarah Audio

Tuesday
Mar192013

The Ongoing Meaning of Jesus II

Today we will continue in Acts chapter 2 and look at verses 33-39.  We have been looking to this text to see the reality that just as Jesus had ongoing meaning to those who thought he was dead and gone; so he has meaning to us today.

Thus Peter continues to remind the crowd about this Jesus whom they had crucified and thought was past history.  That very same Jesus was the source of the spectacle that they were witnessing.

Jesus Poured Out The Holy Spirit

The crowd didn’t know that they were witnessing the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.  But even more spectacular than that is the origin.  Jesus is the source of this spectacle.  He was able to do this because he had been “exalted” to the right hand of God.  Now the word exalted can be compared to “raised up.”  In the resurrection Jesus is lifted up from the grave and restored to life, even a glorified body.  However, the word exaltation is the idea of position, authority, and power.  The man Jesus Christ is put in an exalted position as the Father’s right hand man.  We could think that this is no big deal.  Jesus had such a position in the past.  But, a critical difference has happened and that difference can be seen 1 Peter 3:22.  Here Peter explains that part of this exaltation to the right hand of God is being put over the spiritual powers of the heavenlies.  Again, we can dismiss this as nothing new.  But recognize that Satan and his cohorts have held mankind under their thumbs for millennia and suddenly in Jesus a man is now in authority over them.  This action helps us to see the beauty of the judgments of God.  Thus because Satan had sinned against mankind, in Jesus, God raises a man up to be their judge.  The justice of this cannot be overstated, nor can the sting to those spiritual powers who despise mankind.

It was in this position of authority that Jesus is given the right to pour out the Holy Spirit.  This had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.  Peter specifically quoted from the prophet Joel in verse 17.  God would pour out the anointing of His Holy Spirit upon all flesh, and not just a few.  Thus the Anointed One of God would be called Christ or Messiah not just because he would have the Holy Spirit, but he would also pour out the Holy Spirit upon all.

The Father Has Promoted Jesus

In verses 34-36 Peter quotes from Psalm 110.  Here David testifies about the coming messiah.  Notice that the grammar of what David says points to 3 different beings.  “The Lord (being #1 God) said to my Lord (being #2 David and being #3 his Lord).  However, Peter points further to the reality of what happened.  David did not ascend into heaven.  These two things together make it clear David was speaking of the Messiah who would come from his lineage.  Though he would be a descendant of David, he still saw the Messiah as his Lord.  The Messiah would be greater than David in power and authority.  He would be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Thus David testifies of the Messiah being made to sit at God’s right hand while his enemies are made to be his footstool.  This is a picture of total subjection.

The promotion of Jesus is to the position of Lord.  This means the master, king, or owner.  Especially in the context to who he is speaking, Jesus has been made King of Israel.  But from Scripture we know that his Lordship is greater than just that. 

He is also promoted to the position of Christ, or Anointed One.  This Jesus operated in the power of the Holy Spirit and now is pouring out the Holy Spirit upon his followers.

Here is the clincher.  “You Crucified” him.  The crucifixion put them at odds with this amazing news about Jesus and the amazing spectacle of what was happening with his followers.  The Israelites had waited for centuries for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  And, now when it shows up it is happening by the one whom they killed.  It is like hearing that your team is going win all your life and then when the team win you realize that you are wearing the losing team’s jersey.  They are in a bind.  How did we end up on the wrong team?  The cross reveals the depths of our rebellion against God.  In Jesus, the Father has over-ruled the wisdom and righteousness of man.

“Fixing” Our Rebellion

In verses37-39 we see that the crowd is “cut to the heart.”  This conviction of sin is necessary before receiving the “fix” to the problem of sin.  Sometimes we are too quick to tell people what they should do.  If they haven’t been “cut to the heart” with the terrible reality that they are sinners before God and under doom of His judgment then the “fix” won’t do them any good.  Here we see people who realize their plight and want to know if it can be fixed.  What is your response to this problem?  No, you didn’t kill Jesus.  But you are still a sinner and thus wear the jersey of the rebels.  We are in rebellion against the God of Creation.  You refuse to accept such news and walk away.  Or, you could humble yourself and ask God for help and direction in making things right.  Thus, throw yourself on the mercy of the court.  There is a third thing that some do.  We can look like we are turning to God, but in reality we are creating our own “fix” and expecting God to bless it.  There is only one way to have peace with the Father and that is what Peter is getting ready to explain.

The beginning of the answer is to repent.  That means to turn from our path of rebellion, whether we knew we were in rebellion or not, and begin to cooperate with God’s plan.  It is leaving my sin, wisdom, and pride behind and embracing the righteousness, wisdom and humility of Jesus.  Then Peter tells them to be baptized in the name of Jesus.  Now the main effect of baptism is that it is the way that we identify with Jesus.  Baptism is a public recognition of our own sin and need for cleansing.  However, to do so in the name of Jesus at that time would have been unthinkable.  Jesus was the rejected “heretic.”  All this is for the “remission of our sins.”  This means our sins will be sent away from us.  All those who accept this offer will be blessed by God with the freedom of knowing he forgives our sins and separates us from them. But more than that he pours His Spirit out upon us in order to take up residence within us and empower us to live for Him.

Final Thoughts

Being at odds with God is still a problem in the 21st Century and it will continue to be on into the future.  However, God in His mercy has provided a “fix” for you.  However, it is His only offer.  Won’t you believe in Jesus today?  Won’t you repent of your rebellion against the God of heaven and identify with Jesus through a water baptism that is symbolic of the new life God is giving you?  Don’t hesitate or put it off any longer.  Now is the day of salvation for you!

Ongoing Meaning of Jesus 2 audio