Perspective on Memorials

The dictionary defines perspective as ‘a point of view’.  Our point of view is something often very unique from one individual to the next.  As Christians, God’s Word commands us to filter everything through the point of view of Scripture.  So what is Scripture’s perspective on Memorials?

Joshua chapter four provides a very good Old Testament account of Scripture’s perspective towards memorials.  Almighty God gives the instructions to build a memorial at the Jordan River in verses 1-3.  The purpose for the memorial is given in verse 6- to cause future generations of Israelite children to ask why?  This would be an open door for parents to tell the children the great work that Jehovah did for his people.  The life expectancy of the memorial is given in verse 7, as Jehovah intended for it remain with indefinitely.  Joshua goes on in verse 24 to further flesh out the spiritual significance of this memorial, he says, That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.  

Memorials, like this one at the Jordan River, were significant because they provided an historical and spiritual marker for the people.  Future generations needed this marker to function as God wanted them to function as a people group devoted to Him.

Not every structure called a memorial today has spiritual significance to it.  However, most all, no doubt, hold some form of historical significance.  An opportunity for a child to ask a question, which provides a parent or authority figure a chance to tell them ‘why’. A healthy perspective in a child is one molded, shaped, and communicated by a parent.

When the Israelite children asked their parents about the memorial, their parents got to tell them about the greatness of God and the miracles he performed for his people.  But also, they would have recounted to the children how their forefather made serious mistakes in the wilderness.  How God let a whole generation die off because of sin, before allowing them to enter the land.  There would have been some ugly, difficult things to communicate to the children.

Memorials are a marker for future generations.  They provoke communication about both good and ugly events, wise and poor choices, right and wrong.  To remove the memorial only does a disservice to the future generations.  If the Israelites removed this memorial it would be for one of two reasons: 1) to turn their back on their God and ignore Him, or 2) to not have to take the time to be parents and communicate to their children and grandchildren.

So, in my perspective, is our culture trying to forget and turn their back on something?  Or is it trying to shirk the responsibility of communicating to the younger generation?  Whichever it is, neither is a healthy perspective for culture.

-Joshua Keeny

The Sinful Trio

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Text: Matthew 4:1-11; I John 2:15-16

Sermon in a Sentence:   Live like sin is evil!

Intro-

1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The sin that characterizes this world that we live in, can be broken down into three main categories.  Every sin will fall into one of these three broad areas mentioned in I John 2:16.  John says the three areas that make up this Sinful Trio are- lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Scripture tells us that Jesus, during his earthly ministry, experienced the same temptations that you and I face.  Matthew 4:1-11 gives us the account of Christ’s experience with this sinful trio.

 

I. Desires of the Flesh                                    4:2-4

Matt. 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Desires of the Flesh – desires which spring from the appetites and passions. Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.  A 40 day fast is just about the most the human body can handle without doing permanent damage to the body.  Just imagine Jesus has experienced 40 days with no food, when Satan comes to him and the first temptation involves food.

Principle:  Satan will attack when your body is tired, weak, or exhausted. 

Satan approached Christ and tailors the temptation specifically to the Son of God. He tempts Christ to turn stones into bread. Satan would not come to you and I with the same temptation because you and I are incapable of making rocks into food.  But Jesus is capable, so Satan approaches the physical appetite of Christ in this first temptation.  He knew where Jesus body was weak and in need and he focuses the temptation there.

What are some desires of the flesh that are often acted upon today?

Physical appetite; Sexual sins; you?

We should notice the response of Christ.  The Son of God responded to Satan with Scripture-  this verse is from Deuteronomy 8:2- De 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

 

II. Desires of the Eyes                            4:5-7

Matt.5:5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Desires of the Eyes: desires which are aroused by appeals made to our eyes. Satan tempts Jesus here through an appeal to his eyes. The pinnacle of the temple mentioned in verse 5 is believed to have been some 300 ft high above the floor of the Kidron Valley.  It was so high that it has been said people would find it disorienting to stand and look out across the land from that height.  To descend down the steps with that disorientation would have been no enjoyable task.  So Satan tempts Christ to see the ground below and throw himself down there and avoid descending down as every other human being would do.  Furthermore, this temptation if acted upon by Christ would no doubt have gained him a massive following of people, but it would not have been consistent with the message and work the Father sent him to do.  The redemption plan Christ lived out was one of suffering and proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, not pointless miraculous events that did nothing to advance the Father’s plan.

Once again we should note how Jesus responds to Satan- he uses Scripture.  This time it is Deut. 6:16- Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

 

III.  Pride of Life                                                  4:8-11

Matt.4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Pride of Life- this is the pride of possessions. The vain glory of the world. Satan’s final temptation of Christ involves offering him ‘the world’ if he will fall down and worship Satan.  Once again this is a temptation tailored to Christ, because Satan essentially tells him- this is what I will do for you if you will ignore the plan of your Father.  Satan says, take my offer now, forget about the suffering, the cross, the agony, and I will give you a kingdom immediately.

Jesus once again responds with Scripture- De 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. To accept the offer of Satan, may have brought immediate pleasure but it would come at the cost of forsaking the Father’s plan.

Satan desires for every believer to become so consumed with sin that they are ineffective in God’s plan.

Illustration: The consuming, self-destructinve nature of sin is like the technique used by Eskimos to kill wolves.  First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allowsit to freeze.  The he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed in a block of frozen blood.

Next the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovere the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood.  He begins to lick faster, more and mor vigorously, lapping the blade until the keend edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blad in the arctic night.  So great becomes his craving for the blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his oen tongue, nor does he realize that his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own blood.  He just craves more and more until he drops dead in the snow.

We are consumed, the Bible warns, by our own lusts. 

 

Application:

#1:  Jesus faced the same kinds of temptation that you and I face today. 

* this should give us confidence to fight the spiritual battle.

* this should give us hope that victory over sin is possible in Christ.

* this should give us perseverance to traverse the Christian walk.

#2:  Respond to temptation with Scripture.  The absolute necessity of memorizing God’s Word.

#3:  Live like sin is evil! Christ actively avoided sin, was he tempted yes, but he did not sin.  Our response to temptation may become sin.  We need to live like sin is evil!  There are several reasons sin is evil:

– Sin hinders the relationship between the believer and God.  Much like a wall.

– Sin neglects the Father’s sovereign plan.  (consumed with self)

– Sin destroys families, wrecks marriages, and makes the believer spiritually ineffective.

 

Live Like Sin is Evil! 

 

Caught Up

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Text: I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Sermon in a Sentence:   Live like the Rapture is Real!

Intro-

There is some foundational knowledge to briefly be reminded about as we consider this subject.  The term ‘rapture’ is not found in the Bible.  It comes from the Latin term that we see in our text where it mentions ‘caught up’.  The rapture is debated much today and it is ever needful for us to be familiar with what Scripture actually says.  The rapture is a significant Biblical event because it will open the door to allow the 7 year period of Tribulation to begin.  Also we should remember that as the believers are removed in the rapture, the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth, from working in the way that he currently works.  The rapture will unleash great evil upon the earth because the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers is what Scripture says holds back much of the forces evil on this earth.  When believers are caught up and the Holy Spirit goes with them, all manner of evil will be free to work on this earth.

1Thessalonians 4:13   But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Verse 14:  The Pillars of the Rapture

* ‘if we believe’ –  the first pillar of what Scripture says about the Rapture is that it is for only believers.  What is said concerning the Rapture does not apply to anyone else.  Also Paul is saying that confidence in the promise of the Rapture begins, logically, with genuine faith in Christ.  It must begin there!

* ‘that Jesus died’ –  the death of Christ is foundational to all of our doctrinal beliefs.  Any attempt to separate Christ’s death from this picture messes up everything.  It is because Jesus died and shed his blood that salvation is possible and a fallen creation can be reconciled back to God the Creator.  The shed blood of Christ makes possible the reunion in the clouds that Paul is teaching about.

* ‘rose again’ –  Furthermore Jesus died and rose from the grave.  He did not stay in the ground, he defeated death and hell.  His death and resurrection makes possible for you and to have victory over death.  This resurrection of the dead saints at the Rapture is only possible because of Christ’s resurrection.

Verse 15-18:  The Process of the Rapture           

* The Lord shall descend from heaven.  Verse 17 tells us Christ will be in air.  Now let’s just take this literally, many like to assign other interpretations to this. Jesus is in the air.  The account in I Thessalonians 4 cannot be confused with Christ’s Second Coming, because we see very clearly in Revelation that the second coming of Christ will be when he returns and puts his feet on the earth.  The Rapture will not be Jesus setting foot on the ground, rather he will be in the air welcoming the believers.

* There will be a shout from the archangel, and the blast of a trumpet.  These two actions will take place as Christ is in the air and they will signal the ‘catching up’ of the saints.  These two sounds will be the command to come to Him.

* The dead in Christ will rise first.  The greek word translated ‘first’ is the concept of ‘to stand up’ or ‘stand to attention’.  I can’t help but think that when the trumpet sounds, it will be like a military command, the response to the command will be immediate!  It will be without thought, or consideration.  The bodies of believers will be brought out of the grave to rise to meet their spirit in the air.

* we which are alive and remain shall be caught up.  Verse 15 mentioned that those who are alive will not prevent- the Greek word meaning ‘precede’.  As the bodies of dead believers are coming out of the earth to meet in the air, believers who are still alive on the earth will be caught up with them in the air.  This like the bodies in the graves will be a physical ‘catching up’.  Their bodies for the lack of a better term will ‘disappear’ at least in the eyes of the world around them.  A few things to consider:

– the havoc and tumult that will be created when millions of bodies suddenly leave the ground.  Imagine the chaos on the interstates, the disappearance of pilots in airline cockpits, government officials, etc…

– imagine the marriage relationships that will be instantly changed, the work relationships, etc…

 

Conclusions

#1:  The Rapture is an event for prepared people!  

Joh 14:1  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

This ‘catching up’ is not a random act or an accident.  God will very specifically remove physically from the earth all those who have died in Christ from the time of the cross and those believers who are physically living at the time of the rapture.  The preparation process is simply the same message that we speak almost every week in church- to place your faith in Christ and make Him the Lord in your life.  Are you prepared?

#2:  The promise of the rapture provides comfort to all believers.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 

The promise of the Rapture should provide comfort to all believers.  This comfort is in several ways:  * Believers will not enter the 7 year Tribulational Period. * Believers will not experience the horrible conditions on the earth. * Believers will not experience the world leader indwelt by Satan. * Believers will be in the presence of God!

#3:  The timing of the Rapture is not revealed in Scripture.

This week there were posts on Facebook and discussions about the eclipse and it’s possible role in end times events.  We saw once again, the truth of Scripture- no one knows the day or the hour that Christ will return.  God has not revealed this information in his Word.  Therefore we wait patiently and we serve faithfully till He returns!

 

Closing:

In 1969, a song writer named Larry Norman released an album called Upon this Rock.  On the album was a song that addressed this subject of the Rapture.  In the second verse it said these words-

A man and wife asleep in bed,
She hears a noise and turns her head, he’s gone,
I wish we’d all been ready,
Two men walking up a hill,
One disappears and one’s left standing still,
I wish we’d all been ready,
There’s no time to change your mind,
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind.

Are you ready?  If the Rapture occurred today, would you meet the Lord in the air?

There is a profound truth in I Thessalonians 4 that Christ will return to get those who have placed faith in him.  But oh, how we seem to forget that he is returning.  How consumed we get with the world when we know he could come at any moment!

 Believers we need to live like the Rapture is real!  We need to go about our daily lives like Jesus is coming back!  We need to teach our kids that Jesus is coming soon!  Live like the Rapture is real!

 

Visions of Heaven

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Text: Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1; Revelation 4; II Cor. 12:1-10

Today there is an abundance of material on the market concerning near-death experiences and supposed visits to heaven.  There are at least three occurrences in Scripture of people being raised from the dead- the widow’s son in I Kings 17:17-24; Eutychus in Acts 20:9-12; and Lazarus in John 11.  Curiously in each of these events, Scripture records nothing about what the person saw or experienced while dead.  No descriptions of light, no details about heaven, no conversation with angels, no sounds of suffering, etc…   Scripture remains quiet in this area.

What we do find in Scripture is four men who God allowed to see visions of heaven.  These are supernatural occurrences where, for the lack of a better description, God ‘pulls back the curtain and gives these men a momentary glimpse of a heavenly scene’.

There are four men in Scripture who saw these visions:  Isaiah, Ezekiel, the apostle John, and Paul.  This morning let’s briefly consider the words of each of these men and at the end we will draw some conclusions.

 

I. Isaiah’s Vision                                          Is. 6:1-4

A. Isa 6:1  In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne,           high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each           one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet,           and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the         LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at         the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 

B. What did Isaiah see?

First- the throne of God. The first thing he sees in the vision is Almighty God upon         his throne. It’s not streets of gold, gates of heaven, or angels, the first thing is the                 throne of God.

* Describes the throne. He describes the throne as ‘high and lifted up’. The train or           ‘hem’ of his robe filling the temple.

* The seraphim at the throne. Isaiah describes these angels and calls them                         ‘seraphim’. The Hebrew word meaning – burning (burning ones). He says they each         had six wings, for the purpose of covering their fee, faces, and to fly.

* The worship around the throne.  Isaiah also tells us the activity these angels are           engaged in at the moment of his vision.  They are worshiping at the throne, their                 words being – Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.

 

II. Ezekiel’s Vision                                      Ez. 1:1-13; 26-28

A. Eze 1:26  And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a             throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was         the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of             amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his                 loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it               were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance           of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the                         brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the                 LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

B.  What does Ezekiel see?

Description of the cherub. (v.1-13)

* God on the throne. (v.26)

* Struggle to describe the glory of God. Like other writers Ezekiel struggles to                  describe his limited view of Almighty God, he says it was like the color of amber and          uses the term ‘fire’.

 

III. John’s Vision                                            Rev. 4:1-11

A. Re 4:1 ¶ After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first           voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up           hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was           in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And         he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow       round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

B. What does John see?

First- the throne of God. (v.2)  The first thing John sees is the throne of God.

* Struggles to describe God’s glory. (v.3) And he that sat was to look upon like a                 jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in                     sight like unto an emerald.

* 24 elders around the throne. (v.4) And round about the throne were four and                   twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white         raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

* 4 Cherubs around the throne. (v.6-8)

* Worship at the throne.  (v.8-11)

 

IV. Paul’s Vision                                         II Cor. 12:1-10

A.  II Cor. 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot       tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable       words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

B. What does Paul see?

Paul says the things he saw and heard were not lawful to be uttered.  For whatever           reason the Holy Spirit did not give him freedom to write down the experience.

 

Conclusions: 

  1. God does not utilize those raised from the dead to convey truth concerning heaven, in his Word. Lazarus was dead for several days, but his experiences are not given to us in the Bible. Instead, God utilizes the visions he gave to Isaiah, Ezekiel, John, and Paul to educate us concerning heaven.  If God chose to do it this way in His Word, then we really have no reason to search for it another way in the present day.  Books about visits to heaven may be intriguing but there is no reason for us to give a lot of thought to them.

 

  1. The dominating characteristic we see in each vision of heaven, is the sheer magnificence and glory at the throne of God. You can sense in the text the absolute struggle by the writers to try and describe what they saw. They first saw the throne of God.  Much of what we see today in these books is so detached from Scripture because they give relatively little time to talking about the glory of God, and much time to talking about loved ones, conversations in heaven, gifts in heaven, etc…  It should concern us when there is a supposed ‘account of heaven’ that is not wholly consumed with the absolute glory and wonder that is Almighty God!

 

  1. The Holy Spirit inspired authors could not find appropriate words to describe the absolute glory of God and the beauty of heaven, why would we think that a writer today would more accurately describe it. John and the others did their best to provide descriptions that were familiar to them, while being led directly by the Holy Spirit. There will never be any descriptions that are more true or more accurate.

 

  1. When the authors struggled to describe what they saw they focused on the big picture of worship going on around the throne of God. We should be very hesitant about heavenly descriptions that relegate worship to a small corner. Worship is the overwhelming, constant event occurring around the throne of God.  From more than one group of beings, worship is virtually unceasing at the throne- the cherubs, the 24 elders, etc…   A picture of heaven, void of worship, is not a picture of heaven.

 

The concept of heaven is talked about a lot today, encouraged by some and ridiculed by others.  Scripture does not go into exhaustive detail telling us about heaven.  With that said the need before us is not to trust near death experiences, but rather to rest in what God has already said.  When we do that, then we can live like heaven is real. 

 

 

 

 

Requests from the Rich Man

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Text:  Luke 16:19-31

Sermon-in-a-Sentence:  Live like hell is real!

Intro-  There is some necessary information concerning Luke 16 that should be reviewed.

#1- These verses are not a parable.  They describe a rich man who is unnamed, and a         beggar named Lazarus.  Parables do not use proper names.  It also describes a place           and gives account of a conversation.  It is not a parable.

#2- Hades is the place of departed souls.  The place of the dead.

#3- There were two parts to Hades – the place of torment and the place of comfort.               Abraham mentions that these two areas are separated by a great gulf, a chasm.

 

I. Request #1 –  …Have mercy on me…

A. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that           he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this         flame.  (16:24)  The rich man requests comfort in the midst of the torment.  The             merciless one now cries out for mercy! 

B. Things that stand out about this request.  Notice:

* Notice the simplicity of the request.  The rich man does not ask Abraham to                   perform some grand miracle.  He does not request a day of no suffering, or an                     hour, or even a minute.  As well he does not request a cup of water.  He simply                   asks for Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch his tongue.

* Notice the humility of the request.  The beggar that this rich man had                             ignored while on the earth, is the very one that he requests Abraham to send.                       He had shown no mercy to Lazarus while living, but at his time of suffering he                   requests Lazarus to come to him.

* Notice the severity of the conditions.  In verses 24 and 25 the rich man                           describes his suffering as ‘torment’.   Another translation words it- I am in                             anguish in this flame.

 

II. Request #2 – …That thou wouldest send him… that he may testify unto them…

A. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my                     father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also               come into this place of torment. (v.27-28)  The rich man requests that a warning be         sent to his still living brothers.  The one who gave no thought to eternity, now is             deeply concerned about it.

B. Things that stand out about this request.  Note…

Notice the loneliness of the request.  The rich man does not desire the                             company of his own brothers.  The attitude of this rich man completely                                 discredits the present day opinion that hell will be one big party.  This man did                   not want even his own flesh and blood there with him.

* Notice the absence of ego in the request.  The man so consumed with                             himself during life now exhibits a complete turn around.  His second request is                   void of self and completely concerned about those still living.

 

III. Requests not Voiced 

A. Did not request prayers from Lazarus or his brothers.  There is no praying                     someone out of hell or ‘purgatory’ and into heaven.

B. Did not request to escape suffering.  He hoped to simply receive a little comfort in         the midst of the torment.  There is no escape from the suffering experienced in             hell.

C. Did not request an explanation as to why he was there.  He knew why he was                 there and that his brothers would soon follow him to the same place.  There will be           no doubt for a person as to why they are in hell.

 

Application:

The concept of hell, a place of eternal torment, is an unpopular belief today.           However the big challenge before pastors is not necessarily to preach on it more,             but rather to provoke church members to live like hell is REAL.  Believers live like           hell is real!  Preach like hell is real!  Witness like hell is real!  Pray like hell is real!