Twisted Past, Redeemed

Twisted Past, Redeemed

What I Learned Last Sunday

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah… – Matthew 1:1-6

Check out last week’s sermon here.

Question: Are you ashamed of the things in your past?

You might agree that remembering the past can recall both happiness and sorrow. For every rosy recollection, there is usually the remembrance of that blunder you did to him, those cruel words to her, or the one thing you wish you could have done but failed to do. The remembrance of your sin can leave tinges of pain and embarrassment.

As a result, you choose to not bring up the past if you can.

Matthew’s Jesus *Genealogy

When Matthew penned his story of Jesus, he scanned his people’s past full of joys and many sorrows. Rather than sugar coating Jesus’ family line, he reveals the real genealogy showing the underbelly of humanity. Cheaters (Jacob), twisted adulterers (Judah and Tamar), prostitutes (Rahab), outsiders (Ruth), and a murderer (David) add a small taste of the sinfulness composing the line of Jesus. Why on earth would Matthew fill the written lineage of King Jesus with such filth?

Is Matthew combatting a lie?

Who did Jesus come to save? Some today proclaim that the work Jesus did to save you was to actually reveal your true identity. You were always special as God’s child, and Jesus came to pull back the shutters of your life.

Though it may sound nice to think about myself so positively, and there is a partial truth in our special connection to God (see Genesis 1:27, 31), Paul would beg to contradict the sentiment that we are naturally good (see Romans 3:23). Additionally, personal experience, that honest remembrance of my past recalls failure after ungodly failure, only ‘special’ by my unique ownership of each one (they are specially and uniquely my sins).

It could be then that Matthew is combatting the lie that his readers are good and worthy of God’s affections on their own. There is a benefit in remembering our many failures in order to fully see the counteracting miraculous work of the Savior. “**Our sins they are many, His mercy is more.”

Are you convinced that your past failures need to be corrected, fixed, perfected in order to receive Jesus’ love? Friend, Jesus calls you to fall at His feet, weary (Matthew 11:28-30) and sinful (Luke 5:32). The work Jesus does in human hearts is just like the work He did to His genealogy. He takes twisted and sinful things, and redeems them with His presence. Jesus’ genealogy is a glorious testament to grace. Let your life be the same.

*Andrew Peterson wrote a great Christmas album which includes this song about Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel. I recommend listening.

**His Mercy is More written by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell

Total Inability & the Sweetness of the Gospel

Total Inability & the Sweetness of the Gospel

Word in Season

You tell someone you are a Christian and they in return ask you, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” How do you answer?

You ask someone if they are a Christian and they reply, “Well, I try really hard so I think so.” How do you answer?

I’ve been mulling over these two interactions in my brain for a while and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would start in the same place with the same concept: Inability.

in·a·bil·i·ty (/ˌinəˈbilədē/) noun, 1. the state of being unable to do something.

Most who hear this word tend to put a negative connotation along with it. When was the last time you told someone about your inabilities? Yet with the kingdom of God, inability equals supreme blessedness, happiness (Matthew 5:3).

Being a Christian means that I see my sins and my inability to pay for my sins. I’m unable to save myself from the judgement of a just God. I deserve eternal punishment and there is no way out. The paradox is that it is only when we see this inability that the gospel becomes glorious.

John Murray, a Scottish theologian, explains it in this way: “The only gospel there is is a gospel which rests upon the assumption of total inability. It is this truth that lays the basis for the glory of the gospel of grace.”

How dull grace becomes if you or I can achieve it ourselves. The grace offered to us in Christ only becomes amazing when we see how completely helpless we are.

This means that ability is the antithesis to the gospel. Murray continues, “The doctrine of ability makes men self-sufficient and that is the contradiction of the gospel and makes them immune to its appeal.” The doctrine of ability is most clearly seen in the Pharisees all over the gospels. The keeping of laws, the self justification, establishing their own righteousness, (Romans 10:3) and yet their utter blindness to who Jesus was. They were immune to the appeal of the gospel because they had already figured this righteousness thing out on their own.

Not only is inability important as we receive this saving grace, inability is part of our continued walk with Christ as His Spirit sanctifies us. Am I able on my own to say no to the things God asks me to, to persevere in this marathon life of a believer, to love like He has loved me, to give thanks in suffering, to die to myself daily, to speak kind words, to forebear with others as he has done so with me, to cast of idols…and on? If you have lived one day you know the answer to this question is an emphatic, “no!” I am fully dependent on the Lord to keep me, work in me, and to conform me to the image of Jesus.

As believers we can become immune to the gospel as self-sufficiency grows in our hearts. We want immunity to a lot of things, but the gospel most certainly isn’t one of them. The Lord was gracious recently in my own life to reveal how dependent I was becoming on myself. I want to end each day astonished that the Lord kept me following Him for another day. I see what my flesh is capable of if left to myself. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord who is the only one that can save me from this path of death! (Romans 7:24-25).

Being a Christian is about seeing my neediness time and time again and turning to Jesus with great dependence on Him and what He accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection.

Being a Christian is about us decreasing and Christ increasing (John 3:20).

Being a Christian is less about how hard we try and more about who we trust.

Being a Christian means that I am unable and Christ is the one who is able.

Being a Christian means that with man it is impossible but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

“I’ll make up for it” becomes “Jesus paid for it.”
“I’ll try harder” becomes “Help me Jesus.”
“I can do it” becomes “Jesus did it.”

Do you want supreme happiness? This is what Jesus promises for those who are poor in spirit. The helpless, unable, powerless, inadequate, weak people who turn to Christ day in and day out are supremely happy. Why? Because we become free from trying to produce something ourselves that is impossible to produce. What sheer joy to release this burden onto Christ! Our inability becomes the pathway for our boasting all the more in Jesus.

May our hearts beat the drum of inability in our own lives and to others around us.

For the Sake of the Name

For the Sake of the Name

What I Learned Last Sunday

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. – 3 John 5-8

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The formula goes like this…

God’s glory (climatically in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection). + Seeing Jesus with a heart of faith.  = Following, sending, serving, and going for the sake of His name.

Question: Will I be found faithful to God (3 John 5) when the moment to serve arises?
What is the problem with this question? Mainly, it assumes that service to God is something that can be turned on and off like the water tap. Rather Scripture calls us to give our whole selves (time, talent, and energy) to God as a living offering to God (Romans 12:1).

In 3 John 5-8, John connects faithfulness to God to the proclamation of Jesus’ name to the world. It is an act of faithfulness to God to _________ for the sake of Jesus’ name.

For the sake of the name, the name of Jesus Christ, FOLLOW.
Jesus will reign, every knee knocking (some in terror and others in joy) bowing in reverence before Him (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus is reigning now and will be recognized by every tongue proclaiming, “He is Lord!” He is a worthy Lord to follow, now.

For the sake of His name, SERVE and SEND in a manner worthy of God (3 John 6).
Beloved Gaius in 3 John was found faithful in his service to the itinerant Christian brothers. He did not turn off the tap of faithfulness when given the opportunity to serve. Jesus’ name is worthy of our service.
He is also worthy of the restructure of our resources, so that we would send well. What does sending well look like? John says that we should send and care for Christian missionaries, who go for the sake of Jesus’ name, in a manner worthy of God. What is God worthy of? All our time, resources, and energy. The burden seems to be less on miserliness and more on genuine generosity and care for those who go.

For the sake of Jesus’ name, GO.
“*For God’s global glory,” go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus’ name, his fame and global reputation, must be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. There is no other salvation available outside of Jesus (Acts 4:12). The combined value (by the Spirit) of the exclusiveness of Christ, the severity of the human condition outside of Christ, and the great glory of God are the rocket fuel of the Church to go out and proclaim.

*Shared from the sermon preached by Pastor Mike on November 14, 2021. I encourage you to listen here.

The Heart of True Friendship

The Heart of True Friendship

What I Learned Last Sunday

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  – 3 John 1-4

Check out last week’s sermon here.

Friendship is…
1) Rooted in love, 2) rooted in truth, and is 3) full of real concern and real care.

Discipleship…
1) is goal oriented toward helping one another walk in God’s truth, 2) usually bears fruit, 3) brings incomparable joy.

It’s interesting that we, for the most part, see the value of friendship while discipleship is a ‘holy’ word reserved for a select few. John helpfully unites friendship and discipleship via writing to his dear friend Gaius.

It’s a beautiful thing that the love of Christ and the work of the Spirit can shape uncommon people into common brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers. The shaping work of the Spirit produces lasting treasure (glory to God) through real, Christian, discipling, friendships.

At The Heart of True Friendship
Do I like you for the same ball team?
Or share a passion for hunting,
politicking, for shopping, running,
ranching, for parenting?
Or because we follow the same regime?
Or does the Good News blur those pastimes?
Are those saved sisters, blood-washed brothers,
true family, friends sublime?
To whom Jesus cries, “Follow!”
whom God calls, “My child!”
Are they worthy of your time,
your prayers, your life?
Worthy to pursue for growth?
Worthy for Christ’s name,
the glory of God?

2022 Ridgeview Women’s Retreat

2022 Ridgeview Women’s Retreat

Announcements

What: A retreat for the women of Ridgeview with the goal of fostering deeper relationships among us as we come together for a time of teaching, fellowship, and worship.

When: January 14 (check in from 4:30-5:30pm) and 15 (ending around 3:30 pm)

Where: Camp Norwesca, 79 Camp Norwesca Rd, Chadron, NE 69337

How Much: $50 Includes lodging and all meals
(or $15 for no lodging)
*You will be directed on how to pay this fee after you sign up

Featured Speaker: Glenna Marshall
https://www.glennamarshall.com

Register Today: Click Here

*Registration closes December 19th

A Danger, A Command, A Warning, and The Only Encouragement

A Danger, A Command, A Warning, and The Only Encouragement

What I Learned Last Sunday

…many deceivers have gone out into the world…[so] Watch yourselves…[because]…Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. [But] Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. [So,] If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting… – 2 John 7-13

1 Peter
1 Peter

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The Danger

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. – 2 John 7

Parishioner: “But pastor, isn’t it enough for people to just believe in Jesus? People can disagree about different aspects of who Jesus is (His divinity, humanity, purpose) as long as they all believe in Jesus’ name.”

Pastor: “There is deep Scriptural truth behind the name of Jesus. His person, His work then, and His work now are all essential truths to mine. The Word speaks of Jesus as more than a name (Colossians 1:15, Isaiah 53:10, John 4:6. John 8:58, Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:2). We encounter life from death through the name of Jesus. We encounter who Jesus is in His Word. If you unite around too little of the Christ of the Bible, you will find yourself worshipping a savior of straw.”

The Command

Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward…If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting… – 2 John 8, 10

Parishioner: “Pastor, this teaching seems too harsh. If someone speaks of Jesus and claims Christ, how can I be so cruel?”

Pastor: “The command for us is to be so serious about the truth of Christ that our love would be shaped into obedience to Him (2 John 6). Like Paul commanded we should seek to endure in purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, and genuine love (2 Corinthians 6:3-10). But we should be wise as serpents to never support, give a platform, or encourage things that are against the Jesus of the Word (Matthew 10:16).

The Warning

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God…[and do not treat a false teacher like a Christian], for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. – 2 John 9a, 11

Parishioner: “Pastor, how can I have any hope? This passage makes me squirm with anxiety. Could I walk away from Christ at any moment?”

Pastor: See below.

The Encouragement: Who is our shared hope in life and death?

Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son…[I have more to say and desire dearly to visit you to share together in the Father and Son], so that our joy may be complete. – 2 John 9b, 12

Pastor: “Two tremendously good things for you can occur at this moment. 1) Your self-reliance is being crushed, realizing if your hope is in yourself you would lose Christ forever. 2) In your despair, the sweetness of Christ may now seem more dear than ever. You have looked to yourself for salvation and realized you will never abide in Christ on your own.

You are at a crossroads. To return to your own strength will mean eternal despair. To turn to Christ is eternal joy.
In Christ, you will never be separated from him (Romans 8:35 the answer to Paul’s rhetorical question here is, “NOTHING!”). In Christ’s body (His Church), you will be built up into complete joy. Is that hopeful to you?”

*Christ our Hope in Life and Death
O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal
O sing hallelujah!
Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death

*This chorus is from a song by Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell, and Matt Papa. I encourage you to give it a listen.

Discipleship Done Right

Discipleship Done Right

What I Learned Last Sunday

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. – 2 John 4-6

Check out last week’s sermon here.

Discipleship – when a Christian intentionally teaches another Christian what it means to follow Jesus Christ. -Pastor Mike

John provides a helpful discipleship formula for a discipler in 2 John 4-6.

Time & Observation + The Word of God = Diagnosis & Instruction

Time & Observation

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth… – 2 John 4a

A discipler places himself in a position to be able to see the fruit being produced in the life of the one he is discipling (2 Timothy 1:5). Does this seem invasive? If so, remember that if my goal is to be formed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), the image is brought into focus by the transforming Spirit in the body of Christ (God’s people) (Hebrews 10:24). It is God’s grace to put in my life another follower of Christ who can see things I am not seeing with the desire to help me follow Jesus. My desire to run from this Christian brotherhood/sisterhood or the feeling that I am OK with my Bible and my own thoughts is not from the Father but from self-confidence.

So, John, the discipler, observes something (Christians walking in the truth), and he is overjoyed. How does John know what is worthy of joy?

The Word of God

…just as we were commanded by the Father. – 2 John 4b

The true, noble, excellent, and praiseworthy things (Philippians 4:8) of the timeless Word of God give John (and us) confidence to make observations about what is of value. John has been transformed by the power of Christ’s Gospel. He now loves what is true. He labors hard over God’s truth and lets it settle into every crack and crevice forming a smooth, mature Christ follower. He’s seen the frauds that pass as, “real love,” but he sees there truthlessness as empty shells, human forms love that claim to be from God. John knows the frauds because fraudulent kinds of love never include the truth of God.

So, John, when he sees, “children walking in the truth,” as God commanded, he wants to throw a celebration. He doesn’t waste a truly joyous moment like this, as one who lives surrounded by a world that is in the evil one’s power (1 John 5:19). John knows that what he is seeing is otherworldly, supernatural. The dead came to life in order for John to witness such walking in the truth.

What more can John do with what he has seen in these lives?

Diagnosis & Instruction

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. – 2 John 5-6

Further up into the old old story (the one from the beginning). Further into faithful fear of God and His ways (keep His commands). Further out to love for one another.

So, John says what must always be said, whether in joy (as in this passage) or in painful warning (to a rebellious heart). John calls the disciple Heavenward to surrender to the Father, letting God’s truth settle into every crack and crevice of that disciples heart until a mature Christ follower is formed. There is no mountain of holiness or valley of despair any Christian will reach in this life where the call to the old truth of love and obedience will be insufficient.

Grace, Mercy, and Peace Forever

Grace, Mercy, and Peace Forever

What I Learned Last Sunday

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. – 2 John 3

Check out last week’s sermon here.

Grace from the King

You are a beggar in the gutter, but the King draws you in. He calls a carriage for you and has you cleaned and presented at His table for supper. To top it all, He welcomes you as, “My child.”

Mercy from the King

While on the gallows for the seal of your judgement, before the noose closes around your neck, the King proclaims, “Punishment canceled forever!”

Peace from the King

Your fortress is surrounded by the King’s armies. Your defiance has made war, and the result for you is the barraging of your battlements with mortar fire. You refuse to surrender, though it will cost you everything you hold dear. Your castle is being crushed. A battering ram is at your gate. You stand knowing that your death is near. The doors crumble, and you close your eyes expecting death. Instead the herald enters with letter in hand reading, “The King is no longer your enemy. He has decreed peace.”

Will be With Us

It’s too good to be true.
Once helpless beggar, now honored child.
Condemned convict, now comeuppance cancelled.
Enemy, now friend.
It cannot be true that such good providence would last. But again and again, morning after morning into eternity, the grace, mercy, and peace will never, ever cease.

In Truth and Love

How in the world can such never-ending goodness come to me?
It came to me in the form of the absolute standard of reality and reliability (The truth of God in Christ) and shown through the greatest act of affection and kindness the world will ever know (The love of God in Christ shown in Jesus’ substitutionary atonement).
By the Son of God, call me an honored child.
By the Bearer of my Sorrows, call me, “Not guilty!”
By the Prince of Peace, call me one of God’s people.

Question: Is that good news? If so, how ought God’s work in me do its work in my day?

Why Should I Keep From Idols?

Why Should I Keep From Idols?

What I Learned Last Sunday

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. – 1 John 5:21

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The simplest of words can initiate an action.

“Stop!!” screamed from a father to his little child as she steps from the curb to the street. She stops.
“Touchdown!” coming from the commentator on your car radio as the beloved team scores the game winning score. The driver and passengers rejoice.
Or how about, “Peace! Be still!” as the Savior commands molecules and weather patterns to shift as His word? The storm is calmed and the sea becomes glass.
Or, “Light, be!” as God commands out of nothing our existence. The galaxies flash into form and fall before God.

But as Pastor Mike shared Sunday, those commands, without something girding them up (like the shaft of a spear to its spearhead), lose their weight and meaning. Here are two examples. The father’s, “Stop!!” command with its tenor and tone is built upon time spent with his daughter. He then can tell her in one word that what she is about to do must cease immediately. Second example, the words of Jesus to the waves are not so much powerful because they are words but because of the powerful God/Man/King/Savior who speaks those words. Jesus, who never fails, can speak a word and the word will be fulfilled. There is more to the “Stop!!” than “stop” that stops, and there is more to “Peace! Be still!” than simple words resulting in a calm sea.

So, when John tells me to keep from idols, he spends an entire letter to reveal the faithful God who is SO MUCH BETTER than X idol (X = security, power, sex, food, or a god that I create in my own mind, etc.).

If you find yourself (now or later) running after an idol, and a brother or sister warns saying, “Keep away from that thing.” If you doubt and ask, “Why?” Read the below list with the letter of 1 John in hand and go before the Lord in prayer, asking him to give you clarity on why you shouldn’t run to that idol.

If you find yourself in a conversation with a guy or gal who is running (or thinking of running) from the living God and after an idol. Everything in your heart may cry to them, “Run from that idol!” And, if they ask you, “Why?” Read through the below list and 1 John with them, and beg the Lord to open eyes to see how the greatness of God’s love shines out those idols who have no love for their worshipper.

Top 10 Reasons to Keep Yourself from Idols*

10. Because God is Life (1 John 1:1-4).
9. Because God is Light (1 John 1:5).
8. Because Jesus is our Advocate (1 John 2:1).
7. Because hope in Him abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).
6. Because there are imposters everywhere (1 John 2:18-27).
5. Because God is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
4. Because God is love (1 John 4:7-9).
3. Because God has given us eternal life (1 John 5:11).
2. Because we can actually talk to God and be heard by Him (1 John 5:13-15).
1. Because God is true (1 John 5:20).

*This list is shared from the sermon preached by Pastor Mike on October 10, 2021. I encourage you to listen here.

Things We Know

Things We Know

What I Learned Last Sunday

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. – 1 John 5:18-20

Pastor Burt shared from 1 John the three “We know” statements from 1 John 5:18-20 last Sunday (if you missed it, check it out here).

Three things “We know”

  1. All who are born of God do not keep on sinning because they are protected by Christ (1 John 5:18).
  2. Believers are from God, and the rest of the world is under the power of Satan (1 John 5:19).
  3. Christ has come that we may know the one true God who is himself eternal life (1 John 5:20).

When you know (are certain about) something, it changes the way you live.” -Burt Newman

What are the implications of these certain truths?

Implication #1: IF Christ protects Christians from continuing on in sin…
…THEN Christ is infinitely more precious to me than I could ever imagine. There is no possibility that I could put to death my sin in my own power. It is the powerful work of Christ that will protect me forever. The part of me that feels adequate on my own is terrified and mortified. The true me in Christ is overjoyed with the hope that my sin will not reign in my life, for Christ will protect me from sinning.

Implication #2: IF the whole world lies in the power of Satan…
…THEN I should be filled with wonder that I am saved at all. Without God’s saving work I would be back in Satan’s grasp and living as an enemy of God. The preciousness of Christ is heightened when we see His salvation from where we once were—Satan’s people.
…ALSO THEN I am lying to myself if I do not see the world as it really is, a world filled with God’s people or Satan’s people.
Everyone you have met is either from God (believing and trusting in God by faith) or of Satan.” -Burt Newman
Does this truth embedded in my heart shape how I think about, treat, and speak to others?

Implication #3: IF Christ came to give Christians understanding so that we can intimately and eternally know the true God…
…THEN there is not a reward I can imagine in all creation that will ever reach the value of what I have from Christ. The winnings of this world are a flicker of flame compared to the beaming sun of knowing God eternally. Thanks be to Christ, I know and will continue to know the true God intimately, forever.

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. – John 17:3