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Sermons from Sovereign King Church
Sovereign King Church
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Total Sermons: 188
Total Amens: 10
Last week at Sovereign King, we talked about living with a sense that God might do great things among us. I even went so far as to describe that feeling as a holy despair that God might not. Those great things of God require of us a necessary Godliness so that we might best be used by God when those opportunities arise. We also talked about the fact that if we aren't preparing for Godliness, then we assume that God will do not great things among us, and He probably won't. And the hope was that we would be radically transformed in the image of Christ this year. I encourage you all to pray with a holy despair that God would do great things among us. Despair that God might pass us by. We should love each other and our community with a radical love that causes people to be uncontrollably attracted to this community but ultimately to Jesus Christ. This week, John continues describing what the life of Godliness does and does not look like, and John is going to use the story of Can and Abel to help frame that picture. Towards that end, I think it is helpful to remind ourselves about the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was a kind hearted but more than likely a pretty smelly shepherd, and his brother, Cain was more than likely an athletic, young farmer. Well, the time came for both of them to make an offering to God. Cain brought the fruit of the ground and Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. Now when you read Genesis 4, we see that God found favor in Abel's offerings and not in Cain's. Maybe Cain didn't bring the best of the fruit of the ground. Maybe he only brought brown bananas and moldy peaches. But we know that Abel found favor before God because giving the first born is always a step of faith. Giving the first born says, "I have no guarantee of another sheep giving birth, but I will give this one that I have to God in faith. Essentially, Abel's offering required faith. Cain's didn't. (Always another reminder that if what we give doesn't hurt it a bit, it ain't faith). God ultimately rejects Cain's offering, so Cain decides to go off and pout about it essentially becoming the world's first bratty child. God, ever gracious and patient, gives Cain this ominous warning. He says, "Cain, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is to overtake you. You however, must overtake and rule it." What startling words. Sin is like an intruder hiding in your house waiting to seize you and rob you. Sin is the dark character of every horror movie ever written sitting just out of sight but just within your reach. However, Cain could not get beyond the jealousy he had over his brother, so sin ruled Cain and Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain wanted to be good and righteous on his terms and not God's. He wanted to offer God His second best and have that count as if it was his first. God confronted him and asked, "Where is your brother Abel?" Cain response was, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The obvious answer was, "Yes, you are your brother's keeper." So, with that story as our backdrop, this week we are going to ask two questions as they relate to what Godliness looks like: -- What does it look like for you to be your brother's keeper? -- What does that look like specifically at Sovereign King Church?
Since arriving in Garner to plant Sovereign King Church, I have had what I will call a holy despair. Let me explain that because "holy" and "despair" seem to be contradictory. You see, I don't want when it is all said and done, for Sovereign King to launch and have everything we need (buildings, youth ministries, great music, etc), and God not do something great among us. It is quite possible for us to have a great building, an incredible ministry to all ages and stages of life and have rocking, professional level music, and we never come close to sniffing great things for God. When I look into the coming year, I see a bunch of those things becoming reality. This will be the year Sovereign King will become financially self-sufficient, and we will begin looking towards greater platforms for ministry. More than likely, we will not finish 2009 in the same building that we are in now. I imagine we will build on the efforts of Children's Church and the events we did this past summer, and our children's/youth activities will flourish and become much more consistent. And the temptation of our hearts when all of those things happen is to think that we have arrived, that the goal has been accomplished, God has blessed us, and the central struggle is over. Do not, and I repeat, do not give in that type of thinking. If we have those things, and I pray we do, that does not mean that God is doing great things with us. And I pray and plead to God and to you for great things. We are in dangerous territory because at least in our culture, those very good things (financially stability, good facilities, great music) can actually be enemies of great things because we see them, we grow complacent, and lose our desire for the great things of God. This week, as we return to the book of I John, I want us to ask, "What do the great things of God look like?"
Over this Christmas season, we have been attempting to add some depth to the celebration of Advent by finding a rich foundation of God's plan for Jesus throughout the Old Testament. Two weeks ago we saw that Jesus was the word by which all existence came into creation. In addition, He upholds that existence by the word of His power. Last Sunday, we saw that Jesus was all that the law pointed to. - Instead of a human priest who enters into a human dwelling where God dwells, He is the perfect priest who enters into the presence of God. - Instead of human priest who offers up an offering of someone else's blood each year for the sins of the people, Jesus offers up Himself and His blood as a once and for all sacrifice that covers the sins from the foundation of the world to the end of the age. This week, as we conclude our study of Christ in the OT, we want to see how the prophets spoke of Christ. But to do that, we need to cover the time from Moses giving the law all the way through the kings of Israel to the prophets of God. Much like our telling of the story between the Garden of Eden and Mount Sinai, we will see that this story is not too pretty either. The people of God are wandering in the wilderness and are in need of water. They just keep whining and whining, so God tells Moses to give them some by speaking to a rock. But Moses gets so tired of their whining; he has a senior moment and strikes the rock in anger instead. The people get their water and Moses gets disciplined by God. God tells him he will never get to live in the promised land of God's people. So Moses dies and they bury him on a mountain that overlooks the Promised Land. It is sort of ironic and bitter. God places Moses' right hand man, Joshua, in charge of the people. God tells him that every place his foot steps, God will give to the people, and 3x times tells him not to be afraid. What happens? Well, despite God's strong promise, there is a strange story about the spies of the people being hidden by a prostitute and then God commands His people to march around Jericho 7 times in silence and then the walls come down and the people take the land. But as soon as the people move in, the scriptures say they broke faith with God. Apparently, a couple of guys took some items used in worship to sell them to the local pawnshop. God hands them over to defeat. This faith and sin cycle continues until Joshua dies and God institutes the time of the Judges who serve like prophets and police officers. Think God ordained, righteous Dirty Harry's. We get a colorful array of characters. - Deborah - the only female judge who leads Israel to defeat the Canaanites - Samson â€“ a man with a penchant for long hair and loose women who somehow has the ability to tie 100 foxes tails together. He ultimately destroys an Old Testament equivalent of Yankee Stadium to enact the judgment of God. - Samuel - a judge and a prophet who would ultimately lead a rebellious people who rejected God as their king. The people were suffering from pagan envy and wanted to be like every other nation in the world with an earthly king. Unfortunately they get what they want and deserve. They get Saul, the first king of Israel. He is described as handsome and a head taller than everyone else. Whenever I think of Saul I think of Kronk from the Emperors New Groove: handsome and strong, neither smart nor godly. God takes the throne away from Saul after a string of disobedient and arrogant sins. First, Saul gets impatient and can't seem to wait for Samuel to offer a sacrifice. Saul offers one of his own. Later on God tells Saul to destroy everything in his invasion of the Amalekites, but instead Saul keeps some sheep for himself. Saul offers one of the all time great rationalizations when he says he was keeping the sheep to offer sacrifice God. Right. God got strips him of his throne and Saul eventually kills himself. So much for the first King of Israel God then gives the throne to a puny shepherd boy named David who goes on to be the great King of God's people. Before He gets there He kills a guy named Goliath with a slingshot...seriously. He ultimately gathers Israel together and leads them in Godliness. But one day he got fat and lazy, decided not to go to war with him men and instead decides to commit adultery and murder. God punishes him by taking his son from him but eventually he gives David another son, Solomon, who would go on to be the wisest man in the world. Unfortunately, Solomon has a penchant for land, slaves, money, and wives. God takes the throne from him and on on it goes through Israel's 19 kings. Finally, God issues the ultimate judgment on His people by decreeing that the godless, pagan nation of Babylon would destroy Jerusalem, the temple and take the people into captivity to be slaves once again. They remained slaves for nearly 50 years. God brings them back to Israel, it takes over 20 years for this temple to be restored. It was during the time of leading up, during and directly after the exile into Babylon that God sent His prophets to speak to His people, and then God goes silent. Nothing is heard for 400 years. It is during this time leading up to the exile, during, and return that we find the majority of the work of God's prophets. In it, let us explore and find our Savior.
As we continue our look at Jesus in the Old Testament this holiday season, this week, we are going to make a leap through Biblical history and find our way from the Garden of Eden to the giving of the Law of Moses at Mount Sinai. What lies between is the equivalent of a raw hamburger: a bloody mess. After the Garden of Eden debacle, God bars Adam and Eve from the paradise that they have ruined and sends them out. This is the short story of what happens next. --- Adam and Eve have two children, Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel. --- Cain's great, great, great grandson is named Lamech. Lamech has a short fuse and kills a man because they got into a tussle and who knows where the local buffet for all we know. Lamech also has the distinction of being the first polygamist. --- Things get so bad on the earth that God says every man's heart and intention is evil. So he takes the one semi decent guy, Noah, and tells him to build a boat. Everyone makes fun of Noah when he tells them its going to rain and they say, "What is this rain you speak of?" God puts Noah and his family along with a gang of smelly animals in the boat and floods the earth killing everybody else. Good times. --- God makes a promise to Noah never to flood the earth again, and Noah celebrates by getting drunk one night and passing out in his tent naked. --- A few years later, all the people of the earth have a Led Zeppelin moment and build a stairway to heaven once again trying to be like God on their own terms. God knocks down their puny tower, makes scrambled eggs out of everybody's language and we seem to be right back to the mess we started. --- So God gathers a people to Himself. He starts with a guy that is old, sterile, and has a cranky unbelieving wife. His named is Abraham. --- Not believing that God keeps his word, they decided for Abraham to make a baby momma out of one of their slaves. --- Along the way, God destroys a place called Sodom because they had a morality that was so bad that it made Amsterdam seem like an Amish community. --- Finally, Abraham and his wife have a child the old fashioned way and God goes about creating a people from that son, Isaac. --- From there, God creates a people who grow and grow and grow. --- One of Abraham's relatives, a guy named Joseph with a fancy nancy coat eventually works his way from slave to assistant to head man in charge in Egypt and he saves all of God's people from a drought. --- So the people of God are like the Jefferson's and they move on up to the big house in the sky of Egypt. --- The problem is that they are incredibly fertile. They are start having a gaggle of kids, and the next leader of Egypt the Pharaoh decides to make a work force out of them with no pay. He makes them slaves. --- The groaning of God's people does not go unheard. So God raises up a cowardly, stuttering man named Moses to go to tell Pharaoh, "Let my people go." --- Pharaoh is more wise in business than He is the ways of God, and He is unwilling to release his entire workforce. --- God sends blood, frogs, locust, and every other manner of plague on Pharaoh. Still Pharaoh says nope. So God kills every first born male in the whole city except those of His people. --- Pharaoh finally lets them go but in a schizophrenic moment, decides to send his army after the people of God to kill them. --- God once again destroys his enemies by water as the people of God walk across dry land but Pharaoh's army drowns in the Red Sea. So the people of God gather together, and Moses goes up on Mount Sinai to meet with God so God can give them the law by which this new community is to live. While Moses is up on the mountain, the people grow impatient; they sell all their jewelry to goldforcash.com, make a calf, and start worshipping it. Moses in his anger breaks the Ten Commandments, burns the calf and takes the ashes grinds them up into a nasty ale and forces the people of God to drink it. God threatens to blot His people out of existence but instead extends grace to what He calls "an obstinate people." So here we are. God gives His ugly, obstinate, and unfaithful people a law. If Jesus is going to be about restoring the image of God in people, He has some work to do. As we begin to understand what Jesus would have to do with a bunch of laws that range from not eating shellfish to not working on the Sabbath, we need to understand the dedication made at the very onset.
I don't know about all of you, but I enjoy reading novels for relaxation. But I'll be honest with you. Unless I'm reading a novel out of recommendation, I'm not going to trudge through it without it grabbing my attention. Even from the beginning, it has got to bring the goods for me to keep going. Thinking about that, I went through a few novels in our collection to see how the very first line read. Of the novels that I thought were worth reading or owning, I wondered if their first lines jumped off the page. Many of them did. For example: - "One winter morning in the long ago, four year old days of my life I found myself standing before a fireplace, warming my hands over a mound of glowing coals, listening to the wind whistle past the house outside." "American Hunger" by Richard Wright - "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter." "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain - "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston - "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." "The Gunslinger" by Stephen King Truly, the way books start cast an expectation for the rest of novel. It makes you want to keep going or it can turn you off completely. I suppose there is no grander beginning to any writing than, "Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." This beginning is the foundation for not only all of Biblical history but all of history itself. God establishes Himself as the starting point of all things. Throughout the Bible, we find references to this moment (e.g., Psalms 8; 104; 148; John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; 1 John 1:5-7) and the Gospel of John goes as far as to give us the complete picture of what happened. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made...14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Now, the Gospel of John is either audacious in hijacking all of creation and making it about Jesus or it is continuing the unfurling of Jesus in every weave and fabric of existence. I say it is the latter. A student's look of the Old Testament finds not only Jesus in type and shadow but also in clear and overt in every book. What we want to do Sunday and over the next couple of weeks is to walk through the Old Testament and see Jesus on every page. As we celebrate the Christmas season and participate in all that goes with it, we want to walk backwards into scripture and see a grand plan orchestrated by a sovereign Lord who left nothing to chance. In that we will see an ancient faith which finds its pinnacle and purpose in the eternal son, Jesus Christ.