Monthly Archives: April 2008

Lions, Lies and a Living Faith

Do you ever feel like every one’s against you? I’ve met people who simply have a knack for getting on people’s bad side. I’ve also known those folks who were conspiracy theorists–everything in life is designed to get them or make them miserable…I’m the victim…it’s someone else’s fault! The truth is we are all sinners and that we all contribute to our own circumstances in one way or another. But how do you handle those circumstances? How do you react on those rare occasions when you are truly wronged? What get you through those times?

Consider Daniel. He has been through the ringer, and we are only up to chapter 6! This week he will quickly find himself in his most challenging predicament yet–The Lion’s Den. At the beginning of our text things seem to be settling down, until a group arises who desire to take Daniel down. Why? Because he had “distinguished himself…from the others due to an extraordinary spirit.” They are so bent on his demise that they trick the king into making a law against praying to any god apart from Darius. This is no conspiracy, they government was out to get him! Daniel’s crime was being a godly man of prayer. How would he respond? He continued to pray as he had done previously.

I wonder, if a similar ordinance went out today how many Christians would be convicted of praying to this God? We must be careful here. I don’t think Daniel was in any way trying to seem spiritual before others. I don’t think he was showing off his religion in a way that made him look good. We’ve seen over and over the ways in which Daniel transfers glory to God for everything good in his life. This testing and trouble that he is going through seems to reveal his true loyalty. He is revealed as one who truly loves and seeks to obey God.

There was of course another man who was wrongly accused, and hated by a select group of people in authority. The only accusation available to them was similarly one “in regard to the law of his God (Dan. 6:5).” Here’s what He said about the outward appearance of religion:

Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 6:5-6And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

So when the testing comes, what will be revealed in your life? Perhaps you are in need of encouragement but don’t know where to turn. Maybe you are finding yourself in the middle of a situation that requires serious faith and commitment right now. Regardless of where you find yourself, I hope that you will join us as we consider our corporate need for God’s replenishing work in our lives. Things may seem smooth now, but just as we’ve seen in Daniel’s life, the lion’s may be just around the corner.

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The Writing’s On the Wall…

I don’t know about you, but I can be a sucker for the spectacular. I mean I understand that running backs cannot be successful without a good offensive line, but I also know that not too many folks are lining up to by jerseys of offensive tackles and guards. The running backs get the chance to actually score points that can determine wins and losses. Who gets more attention? But ask any running back how good they would be if their offensive line decided not to block for just one play. It wouldn’t be pretty!

If we’re honest, we are all drawn to the spectacular, even in Scripture. Think about what’s happened so far in the book of Daniel. We’ve seen elaborate dreams interpreted and fulfilled! We’ve seen men standing in fiery furnaces unharmed. We’ve seen God humble a proud king on the spot and then restore his greatness at the appointed time. What’s next? Well, how about a hand, floating in mid-air, writing a secret message on a wall? Yep, that’s what happens in Daniel chapter 5, and that is our text this Sunday at Baptist Church of the Redeemer.

Can you imagine what this would be like? The king’s response is indicative of the sheer pandemonium that must have broken out at the very sight of an armless hand writing on a wall. Later Daniel reveals that it is indeed God who sends the hand to deliver a prophetic message of judgement. Spectacular! But the question is, what message has God delivered to us? In other words, how is this spectacular penning of a divine message any different than the Bible that is sitting in front of you right now? Who is the author? What is the message? How important is it that we weigh and consider this divine message? It was important for King Belshazzar, as he would learn even that night. That Bible may not look spectacular, but it is indeed God’s specific, personal and glorious message to you and to me. It is His self-revelation; His writing on the wall. How will you respond to it’s message this week? How will you measure up in the justice scales of God? Join us this week as we run to the only one who can right our deficiencies.

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A Pastor Swimming in Mercy

It is difficult to articulate the pleasure that it is to be a pastor. I do not understand why God would smile on me in this way. In the mercy of God I have the pleasure to pastor a people that encourage me and continually remind me of God’s grace in my life.

Recently I preached a series on Proverbs chapter 1. This series really was crafted in order to introduce our people to the wealth of riches in the 31 chapters of Proverbs. We were only able to get audio on one of those sermons and you can access it below:

Wisdom’s Rebuke, Proverbs 1:20-33

I also had the particularly rich blessing of preaching on Easter Sunday this year. This is a first for me and I can’t say how grateful I was. It was interesting because the guy who was scheduled to preach had to cancel at the last minute (he had a baby!), so I was close to panic mode in preparing. The Lord is teaching me about my own heart. He tends to shine light on my heart through events like this. My thoughts went something like this: “How can I prepare a sermon in one night?” Usually I spend a week on a text…one night? I’ll translate for you= I am bent toward pride. So, I hope you enjoy the sermon, but more than that, know that I preach as a broken, weak sinner–to others just like me. It is only by God’s grace that something good comes out of it. I hope it will!

Joy and Deliverance in the King, Psalm 22

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“We Will Burn!”

How do you respond to God? In the third chapter of Daniel, we’ll see two responses from encounters with God. First we see a king (Nebuchadnezzar) who has seen the wisdom and supernatural power of God through the interpretation of a dream. He even exclaims that Daniel’s God is “God of gods and lord of kings…” But notice how chapter three begins: “the king made an image…” The way that the king responds to the “God of gods” is to exalt himself? Was the main point of the king’s dream that he should be exalted as a god himself?

Our next response comes, not from a king, but from three Jewish men in the king’s court. How would they respond to a command to worship an idol, in light of what they know about Yahweh, the creator and sustainer of all things…the only true God? I hope that you will join us this Sunday morning as we consider To Bow or To Burn from Daniel 3. These three men were exposed as traitors of the king. They were brought before him and given a chance to escape a fiery death if they would only bow. Talk about your faith being tested! Talk about a different response!

Sometimes we can focus on the heroes of the faith and dream that we might be given a chance to do something great! But let me ask you, how is your neighbor? Do you know if he understands the gospel or not? Do you know that if he doesn’t he will face something much worse than a furnace? Maybe your faith couldn’t be further from the faith exhibited by these three young men. Where will you turn to receive encouragement? Are you trusting in the One that has never failed? Do you know the God of the Bible?

Paul encouraged the Romans to be devoted to one another in brotherly love; giving preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, being fervent in spirit as you serve the Lord (Rom. 12:10-11). So, you may not be standing on the brink of a fiery furnace, but I bet you might be facing a situation that calls for drastic faith. How will you respond? What will the fires of your circumstances reveal? Join us Sunday as we seek to do all things, whether eating or drinking to the glory of God!

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4 Sermons from Genesis 1-3

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to the students at First Baptist Church Brazoria at their Disciple Now–thanks to John Elkins who trusted me to have a weekend with his students. The audio from these messages has now become available, thanks to FBC Brazoria. I’d love to hear any feedback that you have.

I cannot tell you how much I benefited from lingering over these first three chapters in the Bible. The Lord has sharpened my understanding of my own heart, and my amazing need for His grace. Also, I need to give credit where credit is due. Most everything I know about Genesis 1-3 I learned from Jim Hamilton. He has been used of God to make these truths clear in my mind. Articles like this have been especially helpful. Thanks Jim!

Enjoy!

Session 1: The Opening Act–God’s Good Creation, Genesis 1:1-2:3

Session 2: Man in Our Image–Unity and Diversity, Genesis 2:4-25

Session 3: The Fall, the Curse and the Promise, Genesis 3:1-24

Session 4: The Gospel and the Crushing of the Serpent’s Head–Observation and Application from Gen. 1-3

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Which Kingdom are You Looking For?

Had any interesting dreams lately? Have you ever had a dream that completely blew your mind, or even frightened you? What a relief to open your eyes and have your senses tell you that “it was only a dream…” But imagine if your dream was more than a dream…what if it was reality? For King Nebuchadnezzar, this experience left him sleepless and greatly troubled. What would he do?

Join us this week at Redeemer as we consider “Four Empires and God’s Everlasting Kingdom,” from Daniel chapter 2. Well, the king calls all of the wise men and magicians in Babylon to his side to interpret his terrible dream. However, they were unable, even under the penalty of death, to shed light on this vision. So the King decides to destroy all the wise men of Babylon, including Daniel and his friends. However, we know that Daniel had been blessed by God to interpret dreams and visions. Daniel’s interpretation of the King’s dream reveals four ruling empires and God’s everlasting Kingdom.

So apparently there would be kingdoms that rose to power, only to eventually fall. Daniel realizes that God is in control of all–he praises God that He removes and establishes kings. However, there will be one kingdom that does not fall, an everlasting kingdom that will endure forever. It will crush all the others. I wonder what you think of this? I mean we live in America, a land of freedom and military supremacy. Where is your ultimate citizenship? How would you respond to the situation that Daniel faced? How do you respond to situations that clearly exhibit God’s grace in your life? Do you transfer glory to Him, or do you take the credit?

Join us this Sunday morning as we seek to live for the everlasting kingdom to come.

Come Lord Jesus!

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