Lift Your Head Weary Sinner

I really enjoy this song for two reasons:

1. It speaks to me. I was a weary sinner when Jesus called me to himself and transformed in into a new creation in an instant. It reminds me of the call of the gospel to those wrecked by the fall. It reminds me to hold out the message for all who would believe.

2. It combines two styles of music I love. Ever since I can remember I have loved hip/hop, rap, ethnically different music of any kind. That genre of music comes with an energy and passion and “not quite sure what to call it” that I simply love. At an event we recently held at Restoration Rome, some little guys from the neighborhood were hanging out and hanging with our worship leader, Adam, singing and playing his guitar when one of the little guys whipped out some Easy E, NWA, Boys in the Hood and I was drawn back to some of my earliest music that I loved (Don’t judge me).

Not sure how one could classify Crowder, but I love how he plays music. It’s not that it’s Christian. It’s the passion, the energy the sound, the genre, etc.

Put the genres, the energy, the passion and the content together in this video is one of my all time favorites.

Enjoy.

Acts 4:1-22 Kingdoms in Conflict: The Collision

Acts 4:1-22

Kingdoms in Conflict: The Collision

NOTE: SUNDAY POSTS ARE INTENDED TO BE USED ALONG WITH THE SERMON. YOU CAN FOLLOW THE NOTES AS YOU LISTEN ALONG JUST LIKE YOU WERE THERE. http://www.threeriversc.org/#/sermon-audio

John 15:18-20

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”

The “world” system that Scripture talks about is the system of values that lay at the heart of the lies of the enemy that were propagated in the garden to our parents.

This world system is the manifestation of the curse of the fall.

This world system lies in direct opposition to the Kingdom of God.

There are two kingdoms in conflict.

All persecution, no matter how mild or how severe, come from the same source…the world system that is empowered by Satan himself.

Internal conflict comes from the collision of the world’s values with the kingdom’s values. It’s not a matter of if, but when and if we’ll obey Jesus in handling.

1 John 5:19

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Wherever the Kingdom of God is advancing you can bet that difficulty will arise to oppose it from the world system.

When light is shed on darkness, darkness will fight back.

In Acts 4:1-22 we find ourselves in the same setting as last week. Peter and John have obeyed Jesus in healing and preaching the gospel.

Acts 4:1 “And as they were speaking to the people…”

Healing and preaching confront the curse of the fall at ever level of body and soul.

The kingdom of darkness does not even let Peter and John move on before a full on assault is launched.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Suffering…is the badge of the true Christian. The disciple is not above his master…Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true church, and one of the memoranda drawn up in preparation for the Augsburg Confession similarly defines the church as the community of those ‘who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel’s sake.’…Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.”

Peter and John get to taste it first.

Let’s look at this collision with culture.

What do we see/what does it mean? Observation/Interpretation 1

1. The World System Revealed Itself in the Established Religious System of the Day 4:1

1. Priests – Levites giving their annual service at the temple

2. Captain of the Temple – Temple police chief

3. Sadducees – The naturalist/religious elite / play the leading role in persecution in Acts / different from Pharisees who opposed Jesus for religious reasons / Sadducean opposition comes politically motivated / materialistic rationalists / deny the supernatural / deny the existence of angels and demons / deny resurrection

The Sadducees saw the Messiah as an ideal and the messianic age as a material process. They had gained a special place during the intertestamental period under the Maccabeans. During subsequent political regimes they created a priestly nobility. They were the educated, wealthy elite. They were also unprincipled collaborationists, political brown-noters who would sell their mother to stay in power.

4. The world system comes against the kingdom of God

“…came upon them.”

Literally and grammatically “burst upon them”. It carries the idea that they came up to them fiercely not inquisitively.

What do we do with this?

1. Recognize “world” systems by their being opposed to God’s way.

2. Understand that the “world” uses religious systems that are not in the truth of Jesus.

3. The kingdom of God will be assaulted by the kingdom of darkness and it usually is not peaceful.

What doe we see/what does it mean? Observation/Interpretation 2

2. The collision is multifaceted 

1. Collision is manifested by the world system being annoyed at the disciples. 4:2

2. Collision is manifested by the world system applying the law against the disciples. 4:3

3. Collision is manifested by the world system questioning the how / why of the disciples. 4:7

4. Collision is manifested by a clear recognition that somehow Jesus was at work. 4:13

This is distinct from verse 2 where they hear them proclaiming Jesus.

Whatever is going on, these rationalists are recognizing something very “Jesusy” beyond their words.

I’m convinced they recognized spiritual power and knew where it came from.

We will hear later from the demons “Paul I know and Jesus I know, but who are you?”

Even the demons recognize spiritual power in their unbelief. I believe these guys did too and it brought on accusation.

5. Collision is manifested by false arrest / false accusation. 4:14-16

6. Collision is manifested by warning to stop doing the Jesus part of their work. 4:17-18, 22

Healing the guy is ok. He’s a grown man. We all know he was crippled. We can’t deny that part. But they were being told to stop the “Jesusy” stuff.

What do we do with this?

1. Recognize that the kingdom of God will annoy the heck out of “world” people.

Obedience to Jesus and living by his values will cause people to by annoyed at you.

2. Recognize that the kingdom of darkness will try to use the law written and unwritten rules to stop the kingdom of God.

3. Expect aggressive questioning.

You know what, I get more of #2 and #3 from people supposedly in the kingdom than I do from people still under the curse.

4. Expect spiritual warfare to manifest itself (related to #4 in observation/Interpretation).

5. Expect accusation and impunity of motive.

6. Expect people to want wellness but not wholeness.

“I want my life fixed, but don’t expect me to change my value system.”

What do we see/what does it mean? Observation 3

3. The results and response to collision is glorious.

1. Salvation came to many. 4:4

2. They were filled with the Holy Spirit to preach. 4:8-12

3. The disciples participate in a little civil disobedience. 4:19-20

What do we do with this?

1. Expect our domain engagement to result in people coming to faith in Christ.

2. Expect the supernatural empowerment of the Spirit to do the work.

3. Expect to have to obey God and disobey any authority that violates God’s truth.

I typically write out my prayers as I pray. It helps me to pray focused and it helps me record what I’m asking Father for.

Here is one from this week that I’d like to share with you and ask you to join me in praying this:

Father, make me sensitive to your truth. Make me pliable to your word. If your truth is breached give me a spine of steel. Make me as fierce as a lion. Make me shrewd as a serpent. Make me innocent as a dove.

We must know how to respond when God’s truth is violated inside the community of the kingdom and outside the community of the kingdom.

Conclusion: What good comes from the conflict of colliding with culture?

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Testimonies as Counselors: Psalm 119:24

Psalm 119:24 says, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”

I was raised in churches that had “testimony” time. It usually consisted of people recounting their “love for the Lord” and “how much God had done for them”. Sometimes it was a flesh show and sometimes those stories were true testimonies of God’s grace.

When I read the Psalms, there are multiple places that talk about the testimonies of the Lord as being teachers, counselors etc. The people of the Lord had testimony time too!

This is huge. It’s huge because these “testimonies” are stories, historical recountings of God’s activity in people’s lives. Psalm 119:24 says that these testimonies are a delight and counselor. That means these stories of God’s grace bring joy and teach/instruct/guide.

The Psalmist must mean the stories of the Scriptures and perhaps other stories not in the Scriptures they have heard around the fire at night of how God had worked on someone’s behalf. I’m sure they all recall the Exodus and the crossing of the Jordan. I’m sure the testimonies of Jericho ring throughout the tents. I’d bet someone recounts how Achan stole, lied and God’s wrath came on the entire camp until justice was done and sin atoned for. What about the tragic testimony of Samson? What about the amazing story of Ehud? How about old Jeremiah’s faithfulness? What about the perseverance of Isaiah’s ministry of preaching destined to fall on deaf ears?

These stories are vital to our faith. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

These stories of Scripture and the stories of God’s grace in our friends and family’s lives serve to teach us how to act, persevere and hold out hope.

Something that can kill story and the hope that comes with it is “sound bite” and “life verse” thinking. Don’t misunderstand. There are single verses that minister great grace. I’m not knocking that. Psalm 84:11 is a foundation stone for me. What I mean is that I have to get past the verses and get the narrative into my soul. I have to read my bible as the story it is. It’s a true story. It’s a historical story. But it’s a story. The Lord is the best story teller. It’s in story that we have our imaginations captured and are drawn into the story of reality, the gospel.

The reason C.S. Lewis wrote stories in the Chronicles is because they capture us and instruct us in the whole not just a single verse.

In “The Silver Chair” Jill and Eustace miss the ruined city because they are too focused on their physical discomfort to see they were actually IN the ruined city. They had rather go to be eaten by giants because they let physical discomfort cloud Aslan’s instruction. If focused on “soundbites” I would miss the point of the narrative. That point is for me to see what they did and make the connection to me and my journey. Soundbites just don’t do that. Stories do.

If I focus on a “life verse”. I may miss the forest for the trees. I desperately need to see the entire forest of God’s great landscape of purpose. It helps me to locate my life in his narrative of the gospel. This produces great joy and great hope.

Let God’s testimonies counsel and instruct, and may they be the delight to your heart.

Imitate what you learn in the stories that is good and God honoring. Run from what you learn in the stories is poor and God dishonoring. Be captivated and moved by the stories and run your race with that captivated joy.

May the Lord’s testimonies bring you joy and great instruction.

Acts 3:1-26 The Disciples Obey Jesus

Acts 3:1-26

The Disciples Obey Jesus!

NOTE: SUNDAY POSTS ARE INTENDED TO BE USED ALONG WITH THE SERMON. THEY ARE NOT FULL THOUGHTS WITH IDEAS WORKED OUT. YOU CAN FOLLOW THE NOTES AS YOU LISTEN ALONG JUST LIKE YOU WERE THERE. http://www.threeriversc.org/#/sermon-audio

Lest we think that Jesus builds his church through slick business models and human marketing ploys, Acts 3:1-26 should help to straighten that idea out.

The gospel of the Kingdom is powerful.

The gospel makes disciples because it is the power of God for salvation.

Disciples are to hear Jesus and obey Jesus in their domains of society. Think about the man Jesus released from a “Legion” of demons. He wanted to go with Jesus and the 12, but Jesus told him to go home and tell his family and friends and the whole Decapolis all that the Lord had done for him (Mark 5:1-20). (Side Note: Archaeologists have uncovered a very early, indeed first century, Christian community in the Decapolis area. It is attributed to this one man discipling his domain!)

Jesus builds his church from every domain.

We are going to see in Acts 3 Jesus continue to build his church as the disciples hear and obey.

We see in Acts this cycle of  what we call the “Radical Life”. It is the result of abiding in Jesus (John 15): Up (Communion with God) / In (Community) / Out (Collision with culture) lived out.

The people have been given Holy Spirit and their communion with God is set.

Followers of Jesus gather together in kingdom life, which is life covenanted with people in the church (we looked at that last week).

Now we get to see the community of the kingdom collide with culture as they hear and obey together in community.

Acts 3:1-26 shows us the collision with culture / the hear and obey component of discipleship. Chapter 4 is going to show us the aftermath of this collision as they hear and obey. But that’s for next week.

Remember, much of Acts is describing the work of the Spirit through Jesus’ disciples following Jesus. There are some passages that prescribe right practice. Most of Acts is describing how Jesus is advancing his kingdom through an obedient church.

We get to see such an example of disciples in the church hearing and obeying and the subsequent collision with culture in 3:1-26.

What do we see? Observation 1

1. The disciples obey Jesus’ instruction from Luke 9:1-6; Luke 10:1-12

9:6 “And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”

10:9 “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

What does this mean?

1. Jesus gave us clear instruction on how we are to engage.

2. Healing what’s broken and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom are the two functions of local and global engagement. These are what we are sent to do.

What do we do with this?

1. We are to be reconciled to God and walk with Jesus by the Spirit (Up/Communion with God)

2. We are to be in fellowship (In/Community)

3. Ware to go out (Out/Collide with Culture)

4. Our collision with culture is to look like healing and proclaiming.

This defines our personal and corporate engagement locally and globally.

5. We should not seek to improve on Jesus’ strategy or fail to execute it!

What do we see? Observation 2

2. The disciples address the need for healing v. 1-10

I believe it is an error to draw a neat and clean line between “supernatural” healing and “natural” healing.

To say it another way, I believe it is a false dichotomy we make in “supernatural” healing and healing that comes from applied and learned means.

Is it any less miraculous if one deals with the demonic through thorough and disciplined counseling rather than a demonic confrontation? No.

Is it any less miraculous if one uses antibiotic ointment applied to a wound rather than laying hands on a person and seeing a wound made well? No.

Through common grace, God has given to mankind a multitude of kindnesses that help to restrain the fall. The discovery, through discipline and wisdom given by God, of good means to make well is miraculous.

Some common graces are applied by unbelievers because it’s God’s gift to his creation in love to restrain the curse and bless what is his by created right. Rain is a common grace. Rain is a miracle, by the way (read up on the science of how rain happens).

Common grace is as miraculous when used and manipulated by Spirit filled followers of Jesus as when Spirit filled followers of Jesus get to be direct appliers of special grace.

PLEASE DON’T MISS THE MIRACULOUS BECAUSE YOU THINK AND OBSERVE WITH A NATURALISTIC WORLDVIEW.

PLEASE DON’T MISS THE MIRACULOUS BECAUSE YOU ARE AFRAID YOU CAN’T DO THE THINGS APOSTLES DID.

PLEASE DON’T MISS THE MIRACULOUS BECAUSE YOU DON’T JOIN THE SPIRIT ON THE FRONTIERS OF KINGDOM ADVANCEMENT.

What we have in 3:1-10 is Peter and John simply following Jesus in the situation they providentially found themselves in as they followed Jesus.

DON’T TRY TO REPLICATE THEIR SITUATION. IT’S DESCRIBING THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT AS THEY FOLLOWED JESUS.

You and I should aim to follow Jesus where he has placed us and obey him in the providential encounters he brings out way daily.

1. Peter and John are just going to pray in obedience to Jesus’ example of prayer.

2. Peter and John run into a need as they follow Jesus.

3. Peter and John have no natural means to help.

4. Peter and John do have the Spirit given ability to trust Jesus to heal (see verse 12, 16)

5. The healed man praises God. v. 8

6. Wonder and amazement fills those who see this healing.

What does this mean?

1. Obedience to Jesus provided opportunity for Jesus to be glorified in obedience.

2. Trusting in Jesus is powerful.

3. Natural means of healing are not less than supernatural.

The “Parable of the Good Samaritan” provides us with Jesus example of healing through loving God and loving neighbor.

4. Peter and John exercise a gifting of faith to be conduits of healing (see v. 12, 16)

There is a distinction in “saving faith” and “faith as a spiritual gift”.

Saving faith is the work of regeneration that results in salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The gift of faith is the work of the Spirit to see and know and trust God beyond the natural situation at hand (1 Corinthians 12:9). This is what Peter and John experience here.

5. Healing accompanies the coming of the kingdom  and glorifies Jesus as people rejoice in Jesus

Isaiah 35:4b-6a

“…Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy…”

The language used here is straight from the Isaiah passage.

The coming of the kingdom breaks the curse of sin.

The gospel of the kingdom, in part, is that Jesus fixes and makes straight what the curse made crooked and those who receive the kingdom leap and rejoice! 

What do we do with this?

1. Obey and seize the opportunities Jesus provides.

This requires discernment and “body life”.

Obedience gets tested as we have fellowship with one another through accountability and learning when we fail.

Obedience gets tested as we share with each other how we thought we heard and tried to obey and got “licked”.

Obediences gets affirmed as we obey, experience God’s grace and power, and then we share how the power of God was evident when we obeyed.

This kind of obedience also teaches us how we hear the Lord and his patterns of working in and through us.

Others learn how to hear and obey as you share your experiences.

Illustration: One of my favorite RL groups in recent history is all in the group talking bout how we know we have heard the Lord speaking to us. It was encouraging to hear that this group knows the voice of the Lord and that the Spirit engages each of us as we need him to.

Faith increases as we see the work of the Spirit.

2. Be a person full of wonder and amazement at the grace of God.

It seems that it’s just in vogue to have a a nominal walk with God full of drudgery and barely holding on. We call it “being real”.

I’m not sure of the diagnosis of what causes it all, though I have some hunches, but it’s ok to be filled with wonder and awe as you follow Jesus.

It’s like those kids who are “too cool for school”. When someone enjoys the education process they become the “nerd” or the “outcast”.

If someone is excited about Jesus, the “too cool” are going to drag them down to being marginal as “being real”. “Being real” is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I want to be in awe and wonder as I observe the mighty grace of God.

What do we see? Observation 3

3. The disciples address the need for the gospel v. 11-26

1. Peter and John boldly preach Jesus v. 11-18

2. Peter and John are winsome in their refusal to lay Jesus’ death on the people’s rejection and the leader’s pre-meditated actions v. 17

3. Peter and John offer the opportunity to repent v. 19-21, 26

4. Peter and John use their context well v. 22-25

These apostles understand their context and know how to speak so that the hearers will be able to understand.

Since Peter and John are Jewish men they appeal to the other Jewish people’s knowledge of the Scriptures and point them to Jesus.

Now, this is easy for them because it was their Scripture, but they put the message in context well so that those present can understand.

5. Peter and John use the global Abrahamic covenant as a part of their preaching the gospel v. 25-26

They provide a vision of God’s purposes and the hearer’s role in those purposes.

This is good evangelism.

What does this mean?

1. We must preach Jesus and not be afraid to be bold.

Bold does not mean jerk!

Bold does means that you have nothing hidden and there is no alternative agenda.

Bold does not mean loud.

Bold does mean that you do not sacrifice what you believe for the sake of a “fake” peace.

2. We must know our audience and how to be winsome.

3. We must know our context and how to speak so that people can hear.

This takes much work! This is intentional.

We must be a people who strive to know where we are, how people hear and how to speak so that people can hear.
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self- control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-27)

Don’t start by assuming a person’s questions and answering questions they don’t have. Learn a person’s questions and worldview and answer those questions in a truthful way in words they can understand (See Acts 17).

4. Peter and John offer purpose and vision regained from transformation by the gospel to those who would repent and believe.

What do we do with this?

1. Be honest about who you are and what you believe.

  • Operate in the light not the dark
  • Be clear

2. Be kind and love people who need to believe the gospel.

3.Offer purpose and vision regained from transformation by the gospel to those who would repent and believe.

Appeal to the created purpose of man and help to lift people’s vision from their immediate view to a global vision they were made for.

Peter and John appeal to the first installment of the Great Commission in giving the people a global mission in the Abrahamic covenant.

The people hearing this would be reminded that the intention of God’s call on Abraham was to be a blessing to the whole world not their little existence in Jerusalem.

We often get caught up in our little local existence and miss the fact that we were created to be part of global glory.

It is not sin to come to Jesus because Jesus’ way is better!!!

4. TRC, obey Jesus. Heal. Preach. Do this glocally. You will not waste your life.

5. Praise

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”