Make Your Bed

Self-discipline, hard work, willingness to risk…these are traits that many in the sub-Christian culture need to grow into. Many so called Christians get offended when challenged. Some falsely use Jesus as reason for being soft, slack and lazy. They’d never call their living “soft”, “slack” or “lazy”, but the lack of pursuit of anything meaningful other than their own up-keep, shows no effort toward anything great.

We demand the Jolly boys make their beds every morning. Today, one did a couple didn’t. We made them go do it. Why? It’s how you start the day successfully.

Self-discipline is something anyone can have, but particularly Christians should dominate in. We have the Spirit fruit of self-control, and that should lead to extreme self-discipline. That self-discipline should lead to hard work in engaging their domains for Jesus’ fame.

You want to change the world for Jesus? Start by making your bed.

Here’s one of my favorite men, William H. McRaven, talking about just that.

“I AM the Bread of Life”

John 6:22-59…I Am the Bread of Life

Our stated goal in the “I AM” series is John’s goal…John 20:31

John 20:31 (ESV) but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 1…Jesus is the eternal Word of God who made all things and in who is life and light. The Word, Jesus, took on flesh and put God’s glory on display as the promised one who will crush the Serpent.

John 2:11…Jesus “manifested his glory” at the wedding in Cana.

John 2:13-22…Jesus cleanses the temple.

John 2:23-25…Many see the signs, hear the teaching and “believed in his name”. But Jesus does not entrust himself to them because he knows what’s in each person and what is driving their “belief”.

This passage really sets the stage for what is to happen in the rest of the historical narrative of John…Jesus reveals his glory (1:14), most people “believe” in that they see Jesus as a means to an end not as their rescue from the curse of the fall.

John 3…Jesus tells Nicodemus what it is to be a disciple…he must be born again.

John 4…Jesus engages in a direct-action ministry appointment to call a hated Samaritan woman with a questionable sexual ethic to faith and turn her into an evangelist.

John 5…Jesus begins to teach about his identity as the one the Scriptures say will bring eternal life, the one Moses wrote about.

John 5:39 (ESV) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

John 5:46 (ESV) For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

John 6:2…Jesus has gained a large following because of his miraculous signs.

John 6:3-14…Jesus feeds the 5,000 men besides women and children from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish as a compassionate act for these many “sheep without a shepherd” on the cusp of the Passover that was about to be celebrated.

John 6:15…Jesus has to remove himself because they want to come and start a revolution to make Jesus king by force…revealing that they don’t get it. They want the immediate need met not the real need. They don’t see!

John 6:16-21…Jesus’ disciples head back across the lake, encounter a storm and he walks to them on the water, they take him on board and they miraculously get to their destination.

John 6:22-58… Jesus is the bread of life!

22-25 The crowd Jesus taught and fed now mobilizes themselves to go find Jesus.

26 Jesus reveals the problem…The people want bread not Jesus who gave them the bread.

This account draws on the account of Israel after the Exodus (Ex. 16): They cross water to follow God, get hungry, question God…Jesus crosses the lake, the people follow, get hungry, question Jesus…

As Israel’s craving for food was greater than their craving for the Lord, the people in John 6 wanted food more than Jesus.

Jesus has just fed a host of humanity with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. You’d think the people would rather have Jesus.

The people of John 6 just got fed, but rather than have the source, they decided they just wanted the bread and fish.

27 Jesus tells the people it’s better to get eternal food rather than food that fills the stomach.

28 The people ask the correct question…What must they do?

29 Jesus tells the people the best news they could ever hear…Believe!

30 The people’s response proves they are spiritually blind in asking Jesus for more miracles.

31 The people illustrate what they’d like to see Jesus do by bringing up the feeding the “fathers” with manna in the wilderness after the Exodus.

32-33 Jesus makes sure they understand it was God who provided that bread, and that God has sent down “true” bread that gives life.

34 The people want this bread!

These guys are thinking about bread like they just ate a few days ago. They are not thinking about nourishment for a deeper longer of the soul.

35 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”

  • Now, either Jesus is saying that he is the fuel, the way to get life, which makes Jesus the means to some end other than himself.

Or…

  • Jesus is saying that he is himself life.

Jesus is life!

What does this mean?

  • God through Jesus alone is who fixes the dead state of sinners.

It’s clear the masses need to be “born again”.

6:41-44, 48, 51, 53

They grumble.

They question Jesus’ identity.

  • There is more to existence that the mere satisfaction of physical needs.

The curse does this thing where it blinds us to greater needs by the intensifying of lesser needs.

Make no mistake, food, water, clothing are all needs, but lesser ones. Matthew 6:33 tells us this. Seek the kingdom first and then Jesus will take care of the lesser things.

In the curse, we seek the lesser to the neglect of the greater. That’s idolatry.

The essence of idolatry is when we take good things and turn them into God things they become bad things.

  • Life goes deeper than food and drink.

They had the creator of all things, who put that on display by creating bread and fish, and yet they just wanted bread and fish.

  • Jesus is not a means to another end…Jesus is the means and the goal.

How do we obey?

  • Be saved!

 

  • Seek liberation from lesser things by a joyful pursuit of Jesus Christ who is the source of all we actually need.

Read:

Piper, John. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. CO Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2015.

This is Paul’s very aim.

Philippians 3:8-9 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him,

Piper is not making up anything new. He’s just unpacking Paul’s language and the implications of Scripture in coming after Jesus as our great delight.

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” To enjoy God is to glorify God. Anything less is to slander God.

This will be your hardest life pursuit because everything in our leftover sinful self wants to delight in everything but God.

  • Pursue joy in God by doing Romans 8:13.

Romans 8:13 (ESV) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

  • How do we do Romans 8:13?
  1. Believe we are sons and daughters of God (8:14)
  2. Live as sons and daughters not as slaves (8:15)
  3. Live in the Spirit…how?
    • Practice prayer and fasting as the power of joy in God.
    • Have a disciplined bible reading and study plan as the kindling of joy in God.
    • Be in consistent covenant fellowship
    • Practice solitude and silence.
    • Discern the voice of God and be quick to obey…Being completely the Lord’s instrument all the time (see Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret).
    • Cultivate Holy Spirit fruit: love (the labor of joy in God), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
    • Suffer well as the sacrifice of joy in God.
    • Cross cultures with the gospel as the battle cry of joy in God.
    • Give generously as the currency of joy in God.
    • Worship as the feast and consummation of joy in God.

“But the most obvious fact about praise…whether of God or anything…strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise…lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game…praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks and misfits and malcontents praised least….

“I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017), 93-95.

 

A Thought on Luther’s Piety

This October we’ll remember the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Each year for “All Saint’s Day” Sunday we do a biography sermon on someone in Christian history who has had some kind of impact. We’ve studied everyone from my hero George Muller to Anna Kleist Gambold (a Moravian and the first successful missionary among the Cherokee right here in ole NW Georgia). This year, we’ll study Martin Luther…you know because of the whole reformation thing.

As I’m reading a biography on Luther’s life (the one by Carl R. Trueman), I’m hit with so much more than I can write about now, but Luther’s piety stands out to me this morning.

For Luther, piety, that is the devotion to practicing the faith, consisted of the gathering of the church, the Word preached, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Of course, most couldn’t read the Scriptures themselves because they were not in the language of the people. So, the people had to gather to hear the Word preached. Thus gathering was vital. The Word was vital. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were vital in seeing and receiving the tangible nature of God’s grace.

I’m struck by the effect of the Reformation on what we practice as piety and how much we also play down the piety of Luther.

We seen bible reading, prayer, journaling, singing etc. as piety, and those things are. The Reformation opened up the world of God’s abundant and good things for his people to do to know him better and more. I’m thankful for those things, and they are part of my daily existence as a follower of Jesus.

No doubt the Reformation brought about fantastic changes, but it also created some challenges.

One of those challenges is familiarity that leads to contempt. Luther’s reforms opened a world of piety to the masses and with that freedom to access so much came the contempt that so easily follows for some things.

Familiarity breeds contempt. We are familiar with church attendance and preaching and baptism. Many in our tribe are not as familiar with the Lord’s Supper. But we are more familiar, and that is easy to allow contempt to grow. By the way, contempt meaning disregard for something that should be taken into account. 

Modern American Evangelicals look down on church attendance, and therefore the preached Word. Some research (Barna and Lifeway) tells us that the most committed members of a congregation average 2 Sundays per month. That’s awful. If one is only present 2 Sundays per month, then the preached Word is not being heard by those absent.

God gives so much grace through presence and preached Scripture. I know we have podcasts etc., and God can and does use that, however, nothing replaces presence. Jesus came and dwelt among us and showed us glory. He gave us his Word as a present instrument of grace to keep showing us his glory. He didn’t send information alone. He came, and he left us his Word. That’s how God handled it.

As a former educator, I can tell a tangible difference in being in the room, eye to eye, souls interacting and minds engaging over good learning. Technology can’t replace that.

We evidence we have a low view of baptism by the fact that so many of us have been baptized more than once. I’m a 3-timer. 3 for Trinity! Yay! Maybe, Nay!

We got “saved” at like 8 years of age, and we got baptized only to discover at age 20 we didn’t know what the heck we were doing or what we really believed. So, we get saved for reals then baptized all over again. Thats now how the church has historically done baptism. Baptism was administered after true salvation. Baptisms in the bible that are administered after a salvation event are typically done to adults in which it is evident there was a true transformation that took place. I know my Presbyterian friends would disagree and argue that “households” would include children, but that is an argument from absence not evidence. The truth is that we should likely do a better job of internal disciple making before we administer baptism. It’s easier in frontier work because salvation is so much easier to see. The evidence is just cleaner.

The Lord’s Supper led Luther to question the faith of some of his parallel reformers in other countries. Luther would likely not consider us in the faith with our symbolic view of the elements. Now, I think Luther was wrong on that count, however, the reverence of the table and the serious nature of the Supper I believe they captured well. We are a little flippant with it. We let kids play with it, take it when they may not be converted, and often rush in and grab elements just because that’s what we do rather than seeing it as a true “means of grace”, getting prepared, being ready, rising early to prepare ourselves to receive grace. Yeah, I know that wigs some people out, but the truth is God gives grace to Christians in the Supper, and when we take it for granted we should be careful. That whole 1 Corinthians 11 thing sort of makes me a bit nervous.

Maybe we should discipline our lives so be present more so we can hear the Word preached more. Maybe we should not take Baptism and the Lord’s Supper for granted. Maybe I should preach better and teach on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper more. There is work I need to do. So, I’m trying to grow too.

I’m thankful Luther courageously did what he did as compelled by God for good. It’s still producing fruit in my life as I write.

This study is good for me, and I’m excited to share it with you soon!

Bob Roberts, Jr….Abundance

Three Rivers Church, I love Bob Roberts. Bob ruined me a long time ago, and I’ve never recovered. Bob invests in me personally, and as a result Bob serves TRC. Northwood started our church almost 15 years ago. You’ll hear in this message themes that you hear at TRC…because we are a son of Northwood Church. I’m a spiritual son of Bob’s. So, the themes naturally come through.

I just listened to this after it was posted a little bit ago, and it ministered to me as always when I get to listen to Bob.

TRC, listen to my Pastor, Bob and take joy in Jesus.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/228664150″>Requires the Ability to Receive</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/northwoodchurch”>Northwood Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

16 Verses…Revelation 21…Glory!

16 Verses

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Revelation 21…Glory

God creates all things as “very good”.

Sin and death enter as the curse of the rebellion, and everything is broken.

God promises he will crush the rebellion and the Serpent who started it with a Savior.

Then all through Scripture God gives us anticipatory glimpses of the Savior and his redemptive work all through Scripture.

Finally, Jesus, the eternal Son of God comes at the appointed time to enter time and space, reveal the Father’s righteousness, pay the penalty for sin, rise, restate his mission, then ascend to the Father’s right hand to general the movement of his church in establishing his kingdom until representatives from all nations have come into his kingdom.

Where we find ourselves now is establishing the kingdom through the preaching of the gospel, and unless we are living life with blinders on, the curse smacks us in the noggin and reminds us we are in a fight.

The good news is that Jesus has promised all that brokenness and ugliness will be done away with and glory will be finally and fully established one day.

What do we see? What does it mean?

NOTE: Revelation is apocalyptic in genre and therefore interpreted differently than a letter, or a historical narrative.

Illustration: Imagine the task of having to explain electricity and its modern conveniences to a tribe in Papua New Guinea who have never seen anyone outside of their tribe for 3,000 years. That’ is what is happening in apocalyptic writing.

A New Creation for God’s New People (Ephesians 5:25-27 not new as in was not his and now are his, but new in that they have been fully transformed from the curse) 

V. 1 A newly created order with no curse, sin and evil “sea was no more”.

The reference to the “sea” is a usual metaphor in apocalyptic literature to the unruly source of evil and disruption and upheaval.

V. 2, 9-21 The new Jerusalem, the holy city, the people of God, the church fully transformed and made practically righteous in Christ.

  • This is the church made perfect!

The holy city (Is. 52:1; Mat. 4:5), the people of God, is of heavenly origin. It comes down from God, that is to say, the church is not a voluntary organization created by human beings but a fellowship initiated and given by God (Mt. 16:18).[1]

The new people of God are contrasted with the nation of chapter 17 that is referred to as a prostitute. God’s people are beautiful and preserved. The prostitute is grotesquely judged.

  • God’s glory will be our radiance…we will perfectly image forth God. v. 9-11
  • Thick wall (216 feet thick)…we will be well protected. v. 12, 17
  • 12 gates with the names of the tribes…no one will be missing. All of God’s elect will have been saved. v. 12
  • 12 foundations with the names of the apostles…we will be a well-constructed people. v. 14
  • 1,380 miles long…wide…high (Rome to El Paso, TX is 1,390 miles) laid out in the shape of a cube like the inner sanctuary of the temple…we will be many and we will be in God’s presence. v. 15-16
  • The walls are built of precious stones, and the foundations are covered with jewels of many kinds…we will be beautiful. v. 18-20
  • The streets made of gold are so pure that they are transparent…we will be holy. v. 21

V. 3, 22 God himself will be present with his people and nothing will compete for his glory.

  • There is no need for a temple anymore because God will be present in person.

1 John 3:2 (ESV) “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

V. 4 God himself will minister to his people by removing the old and cursed order.

“Eternal blessedness is couched in negation because the new and glorious order is more easily pictured in terms of what it replaces than by an attempt to describe what is largely inconceivable in our present state.”[2]

V. 5-7 God’s makes all things new.

Isaiah 65:17 (ESV) For behold, I create new heavens

and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

  • “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega”…There is no uncertainty in God’s plan and its execution. The front and end of all things has determined the middle.
  • The thirsty may come and drink…thirst often is used in Scripture to depict the desire of the soul for God.
  • Because it is done, God is the perfect Father to his people.

V. 8, 27 God will execute justice on all those who are known by their sin not by Jesus’ righteousness.

V. 23 Nothing will compete for God’s glory therefore there is no need for created order to have to testify to the glory of God for those who refuse to see it.

Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

  • There will be no more need for defending God’s existence and character anymore with the discipline of apologetics.

V. 24-26 The earth and God’s new people will be perfectly productive in it and bring it as offering to the Lord.

“…Jesus has promised, he who is “faithful with a few things” he “will put … in charge of many things” (Matt 25:21). Every expression of the eternal state is one of intense activity minus the problems of illness and weariness, which due to sin prevents full accomplishment and enjoyment of work. In the eternal state there will apparently be endless learning and extensive assignments. The probable interpretation is that those of responsibility throughout the cosmos bring all of the glory of the expanse of the new heavens and the new earth into the glorious city.”[3] 

How do we obey?

Take courage, Jesus will fully extinguish the curse and make all things new and right soon.

Since there is no outstanding prophetic word to be fulfilled, the end of this order is as soon as the last person to believe in the last corner of the earth, and that could be at the very door.

This is why Jesus urged his followers to stay ready. He was to fulfill it all, and the wrap up can occur at any moment. This is hopeful news.

Acts 13:32

Matthew 24:14

Since God’s restoration of all things is public (heaven really physical, really present, really public) then our engagement to hurry its establishment through disciple making (Matthew 24:14) must be public. Disciple making is a public square issue.

  • Paul in Acts 17 at Athens.
  • September 9, 2017 Unity Campus

Since God is restoring all things, and we are ambassadors of his work, then we are to meaningfully and obediently and passionately engage our domains.

  • Read “Originals: How non-conformists move the world” – Adam Grant

Get a head start on Revelation 21 by doing Revelation 4-5 now. Worship!

 

 

[1] Robert Mounce, Revelation, ed. Gordon Fee, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), p. 382.

[2] Ibid., p. 384.

[3] Paige Patterson, Revelation, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 39, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012), 374