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Upon Them All – A Pentecost Sermon from Numbers 11:24-30

Upon Them All!
Numbers 11:24- 30

May the grace of God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ reveal to us the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives daily!

 An Incredible Desire Comes True

When most believers think of Pentecost, their minds sweep to Peter, the other apostles, and the one hundred and twenty or so believers and the incredible display of tongues of fire, and the sound of the Holy Spirit testifying to the glory of God, through the believers.

Others will think about the Old Testament feast, the feast fifty days after Passover, when people were to bring evidence to God the Father of His blessing them. They were to bring the first part of the harvest and celebrate it together.

After Jesus’ ascension, Pentecost takes on a similar proof of God’s work. Jesus prophesied about it this way…

23  Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:23-24 (NLT2)

Pentecost is the proof that God’s love makes a difference in lives. It is when we realize the word God does and celebrate the new lives he has created.

Pentecost is the fulfillment of prophetic dreams!  The dream God gave Abraham, that through his seed, through one of his descendants, the world would be blessed, the dream that Jesus referenced in that passage.

Many other prophecies in the Old Testament that promised salvation, that promised restoration, that promised God hadn’t abandoned His plan, a plan for His people.

Like the desire of Moses, we heard this morning,

Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them all!

Angst over what we don’t understand

It used to bother me that this young and Joshua were upset that two other elders, not with the 70 at the tabernacle, were prophesying. After all, what right did they have to judge the two leaders?

Why would Joshua beg Moses to make them stop?

Couldn’t he recognize the work of the Holy Spirit?  The very same Holy Spirit that he had watched work through Moses?

I want to get mad at them for their immaturity, at their jealousy, at their inability to recognize God at work. I want to call it what it is, I want to judge them.

At which point, would I be any better than they are?

The two young guys judged the two old guys for speaking for God. That caused more trouble, and unless Moses had spoken up, who knows what would have happened!

We need more people like that, more people to speak up, not based on their understanding, but on God’s understanding. People who will speak as God would speak, who prophesy against sin, not to condemn, but to remind people that God will show them mercy. This is what speaking for God; it is what prophecy is all about.

That is why Moses was all for every person being able to prophesy, This is Moses wanted “that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them all!”

We can see what Moses Long to see!

This is what Pentecost is all about, the struggle to see what God is doing, the life that has come to be, because of the planting of Jesus, the seed of Abraham in the ground.

It is about us coming to God and saying, “God, you are amazing, look at what you are doing here!  Look at what your love planted, and your mercy nourished, what the Holy Spirit is creating right here in our lives.

For when our eyes are open to the work of the Holy Spirit, when we are seeing what God is doing, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, when we know that because He rose from the dead, we have arisen as well; that is when all things become new.

That my friends have been possible for every single believer for some 1990 years since the very first Pentecost – when God poured out His Holy Spirit on all believers. It happens anew every time someone is baptized, as Paul wrote to Titus,

3  Once, we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated each other. 4  But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6  He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ, our Savior. 7  Because of his grace, he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”
Titus 3:3-7 (NLT2) You have been baptized, if you haven’t – we can take care of that as soon as you get here!

So start looking for His work around you, it won’t take long.

For He has risen!

And therefore

You are risen!

And that means the Lord is with You!  AMEN!

 

What are you jealous about? A sermon on Matthew 21:1-16a

church at communion 2What Are You Jealous About?

Matt 21:1-16a

I.H.S.

 As you see the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus revealed in your life, may it cause great joy, such joy that you are completely content with all God has provided!!

Jealousy, the hidden beast

I can’t remember whose party it was, or the names of the guilty or innocent, but today’s parable of the vineyard brought it back to my memory.

There were two boys, about the same age, maybe somewhere between 3 and 5.  One came from a richer family and had all the stuff. The other one, from a much poorer family. They were at the same gathering and were opening up gifts.  Maybe it was Christmas, I don’t remember.

I just remember the richer kid taking the presents of the poorer kid because he wasn’t satisfied with his own.  So the poorer child, using his imagination, began to play with the boxes the gifts came in, turning them into magical toys with his imagination.  The rich kid came along again and took the boxes to play with.  So, the poor kid used the wrapping paper out of the trash bag.  Again, the rich kid, seeing the poor kid having more fun, tried to take the wrapping paper away.

Jealousy is an ugly thing.  We recognize it with other terms, those like envy, and coveting.

We see it in the parable of the vineyard, where a merciful landowner decides to bless those who hadn’t found a day’s worth of work with a day’s pay.  Even though the people who worked all day got the amount they negotiated for, the amount they worked hard all day expecting to get, they cried out, “it’s not fair!”

Like the rich kid never satisfied as long as the poor kid had fun, they couldn’t find satisfaction with the blessings of another person.

And they aren’t the only ones!

Could we be jealous of a baptism?  They why lesser providence?

Last week, we got to witness David Herrera III’s baptism.

Can you imagine someone grumbling about that?  Someone saying, hey, why is that child getting baptized, we should save that act, those moments in the service for someone who deserves those blessings!  Can we imagine someone saying, no let’s never baptized anyone else, no one who isn’t baptized deserves to be!

Why in the world would anyone be jealous of God blessing another person?  Of Him calling another person to be one of His very own people?

Can jealousy be that consuming?  Can envy be so evil as to even demand that someone not is blessed by God?  The Jewish people would be that way, ignoring all the promises of how us Gentiles would be saved by God.

That is what jealousy does, and if we shouldn’t be jealous of something as incredible as salvation, should we be envious of the little things God blesses us with in life?

What is it in us that makes us want to be blessed more than our neighbor?  What is it that thinks they challenges aren’t as tough, that somehow, we would be more content with their lives, rather than the lives God has gifted us with?

**Can’t we find contentment with our salvation, and then realize that with that comes not only more than we deserve, but more than we desire?

You see that is the ultimate question, can we be content with our salvation, and simply trust God’s sense of what is just and right for the rest?

The deal is enough

As you look at the discontentment of these people that think they deserved what they earned, we need to see the work of the Lord, of the Landowner.

The first thing we see is that he went out to seek out these people.  We hear the word hire and then the word sent, but the words have a bit more than that to them.

The word for hire comes from the word engage, to embrace these people.  When he sends them out to work – he doesn’t send out hirelings, the word there is apostello – he sends them out with responsibility, with a mission.

We begin to see that more clearly, as all day long he recruits and engages these workers, giving them hope and a reason for the day, even when there wasn’t a hope when all around them seemed worthless when they seemed worthless.

The Landowner’s/Lord’s mission was not about hiring these people, it was about providing for them.

It was about benevolence, about grace, about caring for people.

That’s why the Landowner went into town, it is why the Lord comes to earth, and why He will never abandon us but always, always be with us.

When Pastor Mark, and deacons Bob and Mike and I study passages like this together, one of the questions we ask is, where in this passage is Christ crucified?  Where does the relationship get restored between God and man.

Sometimes it is easy to see in a passage, sometimes it takes some time to think through.

In this passage, the cross is seen in this phrase,: 1  “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out.  The cross is seen in his engaging, in his embrace of the people he hires, whether they are those that believe and work hard from the beginning or those that spend the last moments of the day called by Him.  It is in His relentless pursuit of hiring people, of calling them to receive the wage of His day, the wage they didn’t really have a right to, unless He called them.

This is the deepest lesson of grace, the greatest of entitlements that God determines we all should receive.  That we would know His love, that we could share with Him eternity.

One last thought, for years I thought the good kid was the poor one, the one who found joy no matter what.  I think, as I look at this passage, the child was wrong as well.  What he had, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, he needed to share with his cousin.  For what he had was joy, and that was what his cousin wanted more than anything.

May we share our joy, the joy that comes from knowing the peace of God because we are found engaged, embraced by Jesus.  And no one can steal that joy away.  For He keeps, He guards, our hearts, and souls, for they are His, bought with the price of His blood.

AMEN!!!

Jealousy, Desire, and the Holiness of God.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

3  “You must not have any other god but me. 4  “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5  You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.    Exodus 20:3-5 (NLT)

9  The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NJB)

This desire of Jesus has permeated his whole life up to this very hour when the desire of the bridegroom at last approaches the hour of its fulfillment, the hour in which the words and the waiting will be succeeded by the full reality of love. And in the background of this human waiting of Jesus that looks forward to this very hour in which he will make the supreme sacrifice and can become ultimately ours, there is present, too, the eternal desire of God, which also awaits this hour, because God longs to give himself. But what response does this longing on the part of God encounter? How much indifference! How much inner emptiness and disregard! And what about ourselves? Do we really approach this center of the universe with eagerness? Or do we not sometimes flatter ourselves that we are doing God and the Church a favor by spending an hour there with him.  (1)

These two words, jealousy and passion, make most men uncomfortable.  There is something about them that make us think the person who is jealous, who is passionate about something lacks control, lacks wisdom, lacks logic.

So to hear these words used about God?

It seems unreasonable. It almost seems blasphemous to describe God as a jealous God, one who in His rage would destroy those who would get between those whom he desires.  When you read the first passage above from Exodus, it seems strongly worded, but then look at others, Deut. 4:24, Deut 6:15, Nahum 1:2, and you get a picture of God that seems too intense, to desperate, to out of control.

Does God really desire a relationship with someone else so much that he would become angry and full of wrath when that relationship doesn’t come to be? Would God have a “melt down” to that extreme?

It doesn’t seem like the God we hear about today, the one that is represented in logical presentations, and case studies which detail the perfection of God.  In churches that focus on holiness, the concept of being holy as God is holy is more about precision behaviors meeting a standard, a standard usually set by someone other than God.

But holiness is about being separated out, being chosen, being drawn into a relationship where God desires, even jealously desires the one He loves. This holiness is seen in a relationship where God longs for the company of the beloved.  It is seen in the picture of the beloved in the Song of Solomon, or the prodigal’s father running to see his son returned.  It’s the God who was waiting for the cross, and the grave, for the joy set before Him.

This is Holiness.  God setting Himself up to dance and rejoice with the one He loves, as Isaiah pictures it so beautifully

That is why it seems so lame to trust in something other than God, to entrust ourselves and depend upon something we did or made.  The more we understand God’s desire, His jealousy, His passion for us, the more we desire to spend time with others sharing in that love, adoring the one who loves us.

My prayer for you today is the same that Paul prayed for the church when he said,

14  When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the spirit’s inner re-inforcement – that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ – and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension.  Ephesians 3:14 (Phillips NT)

May you indeed know that love so far beyond our comprehension.  AMEN!

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 115–116). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

 

The Jail is Empty (because the Tomb is)

   The Tomb is Empty, So is the Jail

Acts 5:12-32

 † Jesus, Son, Savior

As you realize the grace, the mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, may you realize as well that He has freed you to join Him!

 The +1:  The Tomb is Empty, He is Risen, The Lord is With you, You are Free.

Last week, during the service and sermon I asked you to respond to a number of things!  Actually, I didn’t ask you! You just responded, and did it well.  Which is appropriate, as we use these things pretty regularly here at church.

I wanted you to tie them together – a bond that would lead you from one saying to the next – and every time you hear one – hopefully the others will just come to mind as well.

So let’s see if you remember them

The Tomb is ……
therefore, He is Risen…
therefore, The Lord is with…

And to that today, as we look at the reading from the book of Acts, we are going to add one,

36  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 (NLT)

Indeed – and that is our theme for this day…as we look at the fact that no longer was the Tomb empty, but so was the jail.  Moreover, while this is fact, the difference between the Priests and the Apostles is such a valuable lesson for us.  For many of us deal with times in our lives where we feel ourselves imprisoned, bound, captive – and the point is simple – 

The Tomb is Empty, He is Risen, The Lord is With You – and IF God has set you free…

Who was really imprisoned?  What Imprisoned them?

If you look at the actions of the Priests and officials, you see what motivated them to react with orders to arrest the apostles.  We see it there in verse 17 – the were filled with jealously – the word picture describes being overwhelmed and flooded with it – even to the point of not seeing the good they were denying.

They were fighting against good stuff.  They stopped people from being healed. The interfered with people being freed from what oppressed them – what ailed their spirits or the demons with whom they struggled.  Even more annoying to them, were the crowds that began to believe.  The crowds in whom the word of God was working, generating life and faith as lives were brought together with God.  Such things that the crowds grew, and the glory of the priesthood and its empty temple diminished, quickly.

The priests were in a prison that was far more insidious, even more restrictive than the facility that the one in which they stuck the apostles.  For we can find peace anywhere, but we cannot flee from ourselves. We cannot flee our own idols, and we can’t even free ourselves from the sin and idols which we worship.

That is why I ask – who was imprisoned?  The one’s in the community’s jail, or the ones who tossed them into that cell?  It’s a pretty common occurrence in scripture, Joseph and His brothers, Saul and David, Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, or Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.  Or for that matter – who knew more freedom – Jesus on the cross, or those who crucified him?

When we are bound up in jealousy – when we zealously protect our idols, those things we count on, before we count on God. I am always curious when we think we need to defend our gods anyways.  Can’t they stand up on their own?  First sign of an idol is when we have to defend it.  Such sin is revealed as well when we stop good from happening because it didn’t happen our way.  It is then we should realize that we are imprisoned by something that controls us – we are oppressed by it, it suffocates us and can even kill our Spirit – as it did those priests and Sadducees.  Imagine not realizing the tomb was empty, or that He is Risen, or that the Lord is ….. indeed, if you didn’t know this – how could you ever conceive of being free indeed?

And how sad is that…?  Can we even conceive of it?

Or do we need to be rescued from it?

God Frees them and us in more ways than one

I love that the phrase, “the angel of the Lord” is used to describe who delivers the apostles from their prison.  For that phrase is used normally of God Himself – as in the days of Abraham, Issac and Israel, or Moses’ day.

It reminds us that real freedom comes from Him, He is always it’s source.  He is our source.  The way they are freed, it isn’t a big deal here.  Come on, Jesus says, let’s go, time to get back to what I sent you to do – go and give them my message of life!  Go tell them, that:

The tomb is….   Praise God He is Risen, the Lord is with….. and… if the Son sets you free… you are free indeed!

So my only question today – is what are you freed from?  For the Son has set you free. Have you thought about it recently? Maybe you are here today, wondering if you can be freed from…

Something…

Instead of the something maybe it is the guilt and shame or anxiety that you need to be freed from so that would enable you to act? Or maybe what you need freedom from is the jealousy or zeal for an idol, or a sin, that stops you from seeing that we dwell in the glory of God – He is truly present here, His spirit dwells in each one of us – for that is His desire.
You see, sometimes it isn’t what we think we need to be delivered from, but our being stuck to it, our being superglue’d to it, unable to free ourselves.  The guilt and shame bind us, or our desire that no one know we are in such a needy place, bind us far more than the actual issue.  Or our desire to protect ours – our precious thing – ends up strangling us, choking our life out.

O we need to get that Jesus has set us free!  That all the prisons that sin can create, all the temptations of Satan and the oppression of demons, that the anxiety we have over life and death – that was crushed at the cross.  The doors to that which confines us, thrown open, and Jesus, the Angel of the Lord comes to us and escorts us out, reminding us

My tomb is ….  I am risen and with you – and I have set you free….. 

For at the cross – when He died – when His blood was shed, all that ties us was defeated.. you are free!!


You are free – go and give the people this message of Life…

You are free.. Christ has freed you – the Son has freed you – so you are freed….?

Yes indeed.

I would end with this one thought…. There are a lot of people who don’t get this – that are struggling with very little hope.  They may know these phrases – but they don’t ever quite link them together.

or for a moment – because of trauma, or because of sin – they forgot them.

The Angel of the Lord re-commissioned the apostles that night – even as He freed them.

HE said to them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!”

So you too my friends have been commissioned – to go to those bearing the wounds and those who help carry them, looking for someone to help, praying someone will help – and now you know what to tell them….

The Tomb is

He has Risen

The Lord is With you

and if the Son has set you free… 

AMEN?

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