All posts by Larry Evans

Unashamedly, I am a Christian who will not hesitate to defend The Lord and His Word. I believe that the LORD is God, and that He is faithful to His Word. I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that THE WORD of GOD [Jesus] is the fulfilled covenant promise and the one and only way to the Father, by grace through faith... not through works I've done or not done. I am thankful for everyday He gives me and for having been given a taste of heaven right here on earth right now. He has proven faithful and true in all things time and time again. I have nothing to prove. I have nothing to hide. I only have The LORD to serve and Jesus to Love. I am a Dad to 4 wonderful children, and a husband to the most amazing mid-westerly charming woman I could ever imagine--it is a pleasure to serve her. All this (and then some) makes up who I am.

Faith Over Fear: Week 3

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [30:47]

Audio Transcript:
We’re talking about this series called Faith Over Fear… and two weeks ago when we started off this series by saying that, although the Bible talks a lot about not being afraid, the Bible does talk about this idea of being afraid when it comes to the idea of the proper fear of the Lord. 

And it’s only when we get into right relationship with God and have the proper fear of the Lord that He begins to drive out the rest of our fear in other circumstances in life.

And then last week we looked at this passage of Scripture from the Book of Daniel where we saw these three famous guys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; we looked at them and saw that sometimes God calls his people to act counterculturally even though they might be afraid of the consequences of doing so. And so hopefully we’re inspired by their Faith over fear.

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Today we’re going to be looking at this idea of living a life of Faith over fear and seeing the opportunities that God calls us to… to act, and that act is going to require Faith over fear.

Ironically then, I want to start off by a recent realization of a failure in this area in my life, a time where I feel like I really chose fear over Faith.
What happened, as some of you know here in the congregation, back in October we returned home with our fifth child, adopted Judah from China, and we were just sort of recovering from that whole experience when some time in November, what had happened here in the community was that there was a pastor who was at church one morning, and they were there by themselves, when preparing for services one Sunday morning, and a woman walked in with her five children and said to him, “I don’t want these children anymore,” and turned around and walked out.

So the pastor had these five kids just sitting there with him. 

Someone from our church knew about that circumstance and knew that it was not this pastor’s first desire to care for these five children, and so they began praying about who should care for these kids. And a couple days later my wife got a phone call.

You know where this is going, right? (LAUGHTER)

Okay, did you hear the part where I said we already have five kids…? (laughter) OK. OK… I just want to be clear.

So my wife comes to me says, “I got this phone call and someone thinks that we should care for these five kids.” And she was looking at me like… you know what I mean, ‘the look’… right guys?  She was looking at me like this was a real possibility. And so I sort of condensed and boiled down this conversation to some sort of agreed upon, “We’ll pray about it.”

And we did pray about it. We prayed about it several times, and eating together. before we went to bed, and eventually, over some time, enthusiasm faded and we found out the kids were kind of being cared for in a different circumstance, and you know, we just sort of went on our way.

It wasn’t really until I was preparing the sermons for this series that I felt like God had really kind of spoken to me and really challenged me with this idea that I had acted in fear over Faith.

Now let me let me clarify that… and by that I mean, when I was praying about it, I wasn’t actually open to what God’s answer was. Did you ever have one of those prayers before?

I prayed about it makes, makes me feel better, but I’m not really open to the answer that God might have for me.

Now I’m not saying that I know that God wanted us to care for those kids… it may be that had I been open-minded and acting in Faith over fear, he still would’ve not had us care for those kids.

What I am saying to start off our time together this morning, is that it was a clear reminder for me that I acted in fear over Faith. 

And that just led me to start thinking, “I wonder how many more times in my life that has happened?  I wonder how many more times in my life God has presented an opportunity, and because I was someone who had fear over Faith maybe I didn’t even see the opportunity, or the opportunity came and went quickly.

That’s like when you are in a Bible study, or a small group, or something like that, and someone else in your group says something about leaving their career… their lucrative career to go do what they feel like God is calling them to do for the Kingdom of God, and maybe God’s trying to speak to you through that voice, and you don’t even consider that because immediately fear comes in like, “I could never I could never do that”.

Or maybe someone in one of your contexts is talking about inviting someone to church, or sharing their Faith with someone, and you hear that, and God is actually going to speak to that and present you with an opportunity as well, but you never go there in your mind  because immediately fear comes in and sort of quenches the moment.

We want to be Faith over fear, not fear over Faith people.

And what happens when we do that, when we operate out of fear over Faith, is we miss some of the really amazing things that God is doing in the world around us. In fact our BIG IDEA for you is this…. that 

The good, the perfect, and the pleasing will of God is most often (not all the time) but is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.

That the good the perfect and the pleasing will of God is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.

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And we’re going to see that played out in our passage of Scripture together this morning. I want to invite you there with me.

In the Book of Numbers, yes that’s a book in your Bible, in the Old Testament portion of your Bible, Numbers, Chapter thirteen, we’re going to be looking at that. If you have a Bible, we would love to have you turn there with us.

If not, we’ll have the Scripture on the screen as well. In Numbers, Chapter thirteen, starting in the very first verse… I warn you ahead of time, this is the most Scripture I’ve ever tried to deal with in a single sermon, but it’s one of those narratives that has a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and you don’t really get the point until you’ve seen the whole thing.

And so we’re going to be doing that, sort of in a quick overview together this morning.

There are so many Scriptures, so in case you’ve got one of those ADHD things going on or something, and we lose you, we’ll give you the thirty-second Cliff Notes — here it is:

This is a significant, significant moment in Israel’s history. God has a chosen group of people known as the Israelites and he has freed them from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians… they are now wandering in the desert and he is trying to move them into a land, their own space. All the other land around them is inhabited by people. And God is trying to move them into their own space where they can grow and become a light unto the nations.

But because all the other land is inhabited by other people, there’s going to be a military conquest that has to come through this; and that’s why a lot of the violence in your Bible exists. And so these people are going to be forced to choose either Faith over fear, or fear over Faith as God leads them on this military conquest.

Here’s what the Scripture says, Numbers 13:1-2

The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.

Let’s just look at that.. so to be clear, Moses is the leader of the Israelites, and God is the one initiating this. God is the one who’s making this happen, and not only is he saying it, but he’s saying, “I’m going to give this over to you.”

Now, Moses heard this, but we don’t know for sure whether the men had the ability to hear this or not. Whether or not Moses ended up passing this message on to them, or do they go blindly?

In all likelihood Moses passed on this message to them and let them know why he was sending them out.

But if you think about it, it’s still sort of secondhand isn’t it?

So we’ve created an opening for fear over Faith because they didn’t hear from God Himself. And I point that out because most of us like to think, I’m sure, that if we knew that God was speaking to us and telling us to do something, we would do it.

But most of us, if we’re honest, the best that God ever communicates to us feels kind of like second-hand information.

And so fear sort of starts to creep in… like, “Did God really say this to me? Is this really the message for me?”… it starts to make me think again about all the opportunities that maybe God was leading us into that we ended up not even the recognizing, or allowing fear to quickly quench.

Here, God is clearly the one behind this. He says,

 From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders [they were leaders people, these weren’t the bottom of the barrel–they were leaders] of the Israelites.  These are their names:

from the tribe of Reuben,

Let me just say this, this is not going to be pretty here in the next minute, okay? (LAUGHTER). I was thinking about skipping over this, but it’s God’s Word, so we’re just gonna fight through it here.

Shammua son of Zakkur;

from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;

from the tribe of Judah, Caleb

 Caleb [now Caleb’s highlighted for a reason… not just because my son’s here, but because… well, you’re gonna see why. 

Caleb son of Jephunneh;

from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;

from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea 

Now Hoshea is highlighted as well, because Moses is going to give this guy a new name and his new name is going to be Joshua. Hoshea means “saves”, Joshua means, “The Lord saves”. So he’s going to get a new name, and Joshua is going to be the new leader of Israel. There’s a whole book in the Bible named Joshua.

Alright, so Caleb and Joshua are highlighted. Now let me just ask you… do you know anyone in your life named Caleb or Joshua? …Yes.

Do you know anyone named Palti or Gaddiel? … No, you don’t.

Why is that?

It’s because Caleb and Joshua are easier names? Well they’re only easier names because they’re more common names. Why are they more common names? Because no one wanted to name their kid after what these other people do. But they do want to name their kid after Joshua and Caleb.

So that’s a little foreshadowing of how they’re going to act… who’s going to be Faith over fear and who’s going to be fear over Faith.

Let’s go to verse ten,

10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;

11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;

This is why people don’t go to small Bible Studies… they’re afraid that the leader will call on them to read this passage of Scripture (LAUGHTER).

Verse 12,

12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;

13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;

14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;

15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.

16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea, I told you this was coming, son of Nun the name Joshua.)

17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, 

[00:11:33]

Now as I was reading and studying this I was imagining myself as one of these sort of spies. What if God had sent me on this mission and I was thinking like, how do you go and say, “Oh, the people there are strong, or the people are weak”?

I’m picturing myself in the gym, like, “Oh, he’s pretty buff you know…”

But anyway, he wants to say how many are there? And then in verse nineteen,

19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? [I think I could’ve reported that] 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)

21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days [this was not a short mission; at the end of 40 days they come back with all the information] they returned from exploring the land.

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Now here we are, at this point in time in our series, we’re wondering, “Are they going to bring back a Faith over fear report? Or are they going to bring back a fear over Faith report?”

And here is what the Scripture then goes on to tell us. Also, here’s our big idea again, we were wondering right?

Are they going to get to see God work through them in an amazing way or they’re going to be people who missed out on it because they have a fear over Faith report?

So here’s their report, the Scripture says in verse twenty-six,

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! 

Listen to that… they’re not saying, “Hey guys, what God has prepared for us isn’t that good, He’s not actually sending us into something that we want…” That’s not the problem here, that’s not what kills this whole event.

The land is flowing with milk and honey,
it is desirable,
it is something that they would want,
it is a place where they would want to live…

But… the people who live there are powerful.

Now you can start to see the reported fear over Faith,

and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anakthere [a group of people known for their warrior abilities]. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

And so we have a clear fear over Faith report. This is our first indication that these people are going to miss out on the amazing thing that God is going to do in the midst of the Israelites.

The land’s good, that’s not the problem–the problem is they’re unwilling to go to the good thing that God is leading them into because their fear is holding them back.

ButCaleb… remember that name.

The Scripture tells us,

30 Then Caleb [he stands up, right?] he silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Man, I just love this whole scene… you can imagine everyone around him is reporting differently, they’re gaining attraction and attention, momentum with the crowds… everything’s sort of leaning this way, and Caleb’s willing to stand up and say in the midst of all of them,
“No, I disagree”… with this fear over Faith report. And he comes in with a very clear Faith over fear report. And I think one of things we ought to take from this is the realization, the reality that Faith over fear is not the norm.

Faith over fear is not the norm for people. It is not the norm even for the people of God to choose Faith over fear. Which means that if you decide today or are already living as a Faith over fear person, you should be prepared to be in the minority. You should be prepared to have people surrounding you who are telling you a fear over Faith report.

There are a few churches even, that get to the place where the majority of the people in the church are operating with Faith over fear.  Most churches have the majority of people operating with fear over Faith.

But when a church tips those scales and begins to operate as a majority with Faith over fear it becomes a beautiful thing to see what they can do for the Kingdom of God.

The Scripture goes on and tells us,

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 

Just look at that expression, “they are stronger than we are.” Listen, this is clear… that whenever we focus on our own strengths and abilities we’re likely to be people who are fear over Faith. Fear over Faith people are people who focus on their own abilities and strengths.

YES… they are stronger than you are, but you’re focused on that and you’re missing a big part of the equation…

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32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim

Some of you remember them from Genesis Chapter six… The story that leads right up to the global flood in Genesis six where these great, giant men and warriors ravage the land and did what they want with whoever they wanted to do it with.

Here they are, they see some connection there; this is the type of fear they have.

(the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

 And again, if we focus on our own ability and strength we’re going to be just like these Israelites who regularly choose fear over Faith.
The Scripture goes on to tell us this,

Chapter 14
That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.
 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt!
 [WOW, really?] Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?

There’s such an absence of Faith, they’ve already determined that they’re going to lose and die.

 Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

You know I had heard and maybe even read at times, this whole idea that the Egyptians say something about going back, but I’d always kind of taken it as if it was just sort of a flippant statement–they didn’t really mean it they were just mad and angry and grumbling and sort of overstated their grumbling kind of like you know your kids might do at times.

But here’s what they say next … this is not just some sort of thing that they don’t really mean…

 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

It’s like a real plan of there’s. That’s how much they’re being driven by fear over Faith—that they’re willing to step back into a land of slavery, in a position that was difficult and terrible for them, because they fear what God might be leading them into.

Gold Dividing Line[00:19:39]

In trying to contemporize this… I was thinking about a single woman out there who’s been mistreated by just constantly finding the wrong guy. She’s in an abusive relationship… and has this moment of Faith over fear, where with God’s strength, they leave that relationship, despite some of the dangers and consequences of doing so.

But then they in this kind of wilderness situation in life… they’d not been alone like that, they’ve not been in a situation where they weren’t being mistreated, and their uneasiness of the unknown drives them back into this abusive relationship.

I think about Egypt doing this… I think about the dying church, and how many dying churches there are out there, that caught a glimpse of saying, “Hey we’re dying; there’s got to be something better.” They might even hire a pastor or a leader to try to lead them into something new.

And they start making some sort of changes, and they start to sort of move in that direction, but also, and it’s like, “Whoa, we’re in the wilderness.” And they start grumbling and complaining amongst each other and say, “Hey, even though we were dying before, at least it was comfortable… at least it was familiar, at least we knew what was going to happen to us… it’s a better death than maybe what we’re being led on to.” And they go back and make the change and resort back to where they were.

Here’s Israel so driven by fear over Faith… “Let’s go back to Egypt.”

Scripture goes on to tell us then,

Then Moses and Aaron fell face down in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land,

[00:21:36]

Notice when we said earlier:
Fear over Faith people focus on their own strength and ability,
Faith over fear people focus on the strength and ability of the Lord.

If the Lord wills this, if he’s behind this, He can make this thing happen.

There’s a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid_of_them.”

So Joshua and Caleb come along and they give a clear, although it’s the minority report, a clear Faith over fear report, and answer, “Do not be afraid.” is repeated by them.

Gold Dividing Line[00:22:25]

Then the Scripture goes on and tells us this happened. It’s not easy being a Faith over fear leader…

10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.

That’s why I think one of the most important qualities in a church when choosing its elders, is a group of men and women who will seek the mind of Christ, and regardless of where Christ leads them, no matter how much Faith it’s going to take, no matter how much fear it’s going to instill in them and their congregation, they are going to be Faith over fear leaders.

And being a Faith over fear leader is not always going to make you very popular person.

10b Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt?

Listen to God’s reasoning here…

 How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?

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What he’s referencing is what happened in Egypt; he’s referencing all the miracles that he performed amongst them to free them in Egypt. He’s saying, “I’ve been that faithful to you; I’ve done that many miraculous things in your presence, how could you possibly still be a fear over Faith people?

For us today, we find might some great confidence perhaps from what we read in Exodus, but our greatest source of strength and relying upon God to be of Faith over fear people isn’t necessarily found from Exodus, but it’s more found from what we hear about Jesus Christ, and what he’s done in our life.

Jesus Christ is the one who we look back to and see, “Here is how God has been faithful to us on a regular basis. Faithful to rescue us on the cross through His Son Jesus Christ… faithful to draw all us into a relationship with Him, and faithful to do a great work in our lives ever since we entered into a relationship with Him.”

We see that repeated pattern in our life… how could we still be a fear over Faith people?

And so let me just ask you this question.

How has God been faithful in your past?

And what might he be building up to?

Faithful to Israel in the past, and then building up to go ahead and take the land. How has God been faithful in your past? And what might he be building up to?

Trust me, he hasn’t been faithful to you in the past so you could be comfortable today. How has he been faithful to you in the past, and what might He be building up to?

Let’s ask that of the church.

How has God been faithful to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church in the past and what might he be building up to?

Gold Dividing Line[00:25:02] 

He says,

12 I will strike them down

The Scripture told us earlier in Numbers that “Moses was the most humble man on the earth”… and listen to what he does, he intervenes on behalf of his people, and out of zeal for the character of God.

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 [Listen to this]…‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

So Moses is saying, “Your name… if you end the Israelites here, your name will suffer as a result. And then he intervenes further and says,

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people,just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

So he answers and he says,

~19 God forgive these people for what they’ve just done.

And in verse twenty,

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.

What a comforting passage of Scripture that is… for those of us who are able to quickly say look I have repeatedly in my life operated with fear over Faith. We’re reminded that there’s forgiveness for even those who operate in fear over Faith.

Gold Dividing Line

[00:26:57]

This isn’t a salvation thing…

Our big ideal is not, “Hey those people who operate in Faith over fear will get into heaven.”  We’re not trying to be good enough people to earn our way into heaven.  No, in heaven God will by the grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ, there will be many people who lived out their entire Christian life operating with fear over Faith.

What we’re saying here is, God most often works through those who operate in Faith over fear.  So we miss out in this life to be a part of God’s amazing work for the Kingdom of God when we operate out of fear over Faith.

So there’s forgiveness he says here,

21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised…

They’re never going to go there. They’re forgiven but they never get to see it. And that’s why we’ve been saying our big idea is:

Most often God works through those who choose Faith over fear,

and these people have chosen fear over Faith and they’ve missed out on this.

23 No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 

In the end God’s will is accomplished, right?  But it’s just not through those who chose fear over Faith. And it’s a sad thing to think about. And it’s sad to think about for our lives how many times we might have missed out on what amazing things God was doing.

Then the Scripture tells us this, finally to conclude… in verse twenty-four.

Numbers 14:24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

I just want to ask you this morning.

Are you going to have a different spirit when…

  • When even your own husband or wife who’s a brother or sister in Christ is operating in a fear over Faith lifestyle… are you going to have a different spirit?
  • When the rest of your Bible study, or small group, or those at work around you are operating in fear over Faith, are you going to be someone like Caleb who stands up and has a different spirit?

And just a final diagnostic question…

What could God ask you to do that might tempt you to choose fear over Faith?

Our BIG IDEA one last time for you is that,

The good, perfect, and pleasing will God is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.

God is on the move, he’s doing amazing things, and the real question is are we going to be a part of it?

LET'S PRAY (2)

Heavenly Father we thank you for this passage of Scripture. Indeed some of us would like to confess that we identify with those who went out and reported, and knowing that you were behind this that you were trying to make this happen we still reported a fear over Faith type of mentality.

We do that often in our lives. We confess that to you, We pray that you would remind us by your grace of your incredible Faithfulness to us through your Son Jesus Christ, that our Faith in You might increase.

We long to be a part of what you’re doing in this kingdom, and we trust and know that you’re doing amazing things. We want to be a group of individuals, and a church family that is a part of that. So we ask that by your grace and mercy that you would give us FAITH, which is a gift from God above. We pray you would grant us an increased measure of Faith in you and what you’re doing, and we ask these things in Christ’s name.

amen_1982c

 

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Faith Over Fear: Week 2

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [31:22]

Audio Transcript:
“God is quite impressive and faithful when it comes to his timing… as he’s given us this series this idea of “Faith Over Fear” to talk about for these few weeks, and that this week would line up with the message that Pastor BJ just talked to us about, and the song that we just sang, and the life of Andrew Brunson is something that I don’t think of as just a coincidence.

Backstory on Andrew Brunson:
Andrew C. Brunson is an American prisoner in Turkey, arrested in the purges occurring after the aftermath of the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt, imprisoning tens of thousands of Turkish military personnel, civil servants, educators, academics, dissidents, and journalists. Brunson is an evangelical pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant church with about 25 congregants.

Brunson is married with three children. His wife, Norine, was initially arrested alongside him but was released after 13 days. 

Brunson, 48, who was applying for Turkish permanent residency, having lived there 23 years, was imprisoned on 7 October 2016, accused of being a member of the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government considers to be a terrorist organization.

 The charges were later amended to include spying and attempting to overthrow the government. Brunson shares a small cell with 17 Turkish prisoners also allegedly in some way affiliated with the Gulen movement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Brunson

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/april/pastor-andrew-brunson-turkey-terrorism-trial-sam-brownback.html

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/04/18/trump-rebukes-turkey-for-espionage-trial-pastor-andrew-brunson-tweets-am-more-spy-than-is.html

Pastor Dan (Audio Transcription)
“We’re looking at this series this idea of choosing faith over fear. I think when we talk about the idea of choosing faith over fear we look at sort of the Andrew Brunson’s of the world, and we can kind of like imagine ourselves sort of being the type of person who would choose faith over fear in a circumstance like that… like us looking at someone who’s in great physical shape and saying like, “Oh I can see myself maybe someday looking like that person.” Like you just use you strive for that, you would love to imagine sort of being that type of person.

I think we do that with the idea of faith over fear… we like to think that if we were put in the same situation as someone like Andrew Brunson was, and has been, that we would repeatedly, as he has, choose faith over fear.

We can even imagine going further with it… we think of the martyrs as we learn about church history, who gave the ultimate price of their life for their faith. And we can imagine ourselves and we want to we want to be the type of people who would indeed choose faith over fear even in those types of circumstances.

And you know as commendable as it is for us to be thinking about choosing faith over fear, and big picture in these extreme situations, it may unintentionally come at the cost of us missing the reality that we have daily, perhaps, right here in America in our current culture and society, opportunities to choose faith over fear.

Is it possible that you may be unintentionally missing some of those opportunities to choose faith over fear, and perhaps, is it possible that you’ve been choosing fear over faith in some of the opportunities that God has been giving you?

Gold Dividing Line
[00:02:16] ​

So it’s what we’re going to talk about this morning, and in fact our big idea is this as we continue in this series. We’re going to see that sometimes, not all the time, but… 

Sometimes we will need to have the faith to act against the cultural norm, even though we might fear the consequences of doing so.

I love the release, if you will, that comes from embracing the second half of that sentence… even though we might fear the consequences of doing so.

We’d love to think that we might get to a place in our faith where when we are forced to choose to go against the grain of the cultural norm and we hear about the potential consequences we have no fear of them at all, but nonetheless we identify with those who often do have fear.

We’ll see biblical characters today who I think probably had fear and had to wrestle through but ultimately chose faith over fear.

Sometimes we need to have the faith to act against the cultural norm even though we might fear the consequences of doing so.  

Gold Dividing Line

To see this big idea played out we’re going to look in a book of the Old Testament known as The Book of Daniel. It’s in the prophetical section of your Bible–the Major Prophets. There are five major prophets and Daniel’s one of them.

For those of you love to turn your Bible and open up with us we’d love to have you turn to the Book of Daniel.

The narrative that we’re going to be looking at this morning is found in Daniel Chapter three but we’re going to spend just a few minutes looking at Daniel Chapter one starting in the first verse, and the reason we’re going to be doing that is because although this is not the narrative that we’re looking at, is the important backdrop and information that surrounds the narrative that we are going to be looking at.

Daniel’s always been one of my favorite books of the Bible, and we’re going to be looking at it now here. Daniel chapter one starting in the very first verse, This is the backdrop to our narrative that we’re going to be looking at, as we see that God puts his people in cultures and circumstances where they’re invited, through faith, to choose to go against the cultural norm. [00:04:15]

Daniel 1:1
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, [somewhere around 605 BC] Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon [so this is different King] came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

So this is the first of three waves that Babylon waged on God’s people, and ultimately Judah falls around 586 B.C.  But in this first siege they come in and they make great military conquests.

And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand,

And so we see that actually God was judging his people by allowing a pagan nation to come in and win and have victory over them.

Along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.

So you can see that many people of course when Babylon came in and waged war against Judah would have been put to death, but not everyone was put to death. It was quite customary to take some of the people of the of the nation that you conquered and bring them back to where you came from, and that’s the King’s plan.

Only not just to use this group of people as like lowly servants, but he’s going to use this group of people, these young men from Israel who are smart, and attractive, and all these types of things, and he’s going to train them up and teach them, coach them up to a place where they’ll be serving around him; like this sort of daily trophy of like look who I’ve conquered, and look what I’ve done with the people that I conquered.

It says in verse five,

 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

I suppose if you’re going to have to get conquered this is probably the best gig to land in the aftermath of it.

In verse six,

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar [So if you’re ever trying to get my attention and you go, “Hey Pastor”, and you can’t remember what comes next you can say Belteshazzar… (laughter) or Daniel either one]; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

So these people are brought from their nation, their land, their culture that they’re totally used to, and brought into a completely foreign land, the nation of Babylon.

What an incredible cultural shock this must have been for them… to have to learn to live in this new environment, to go from living in a place where the society reinforced God’s laws and principles, to also going to a place where there’s really no word of the truth of their God, and all kinds of false gods are being introduced. They’re having to learn what it’s like to live in this new society, and experience an incredible cultural shift.

And I share all that background information with you to help you see, to help you identify, as someone living in our current culture in society, that although we may not have had some nation come in and take over us and completely change our culture and society, many people feel like they’ve experienced a dramatic cultural shift like these Israelites would have experienced.
There’s a book out there called “Who Stole My Churchhttps://tinyurl.com/ybel3nl6,
and the book was written for the purpose of helping people who’ve been used to church a certain way for years and years, and then some young pastor comes in and makes all these changes… and it’s like, WHO_STOLE_MY_CHURCH?…

Some of you are looking for the book on the shelf that says, Who Stole My Country?… thinking ‘What I see today is not at all what I’m what I’m used to, what I grew up with… this is not the way it’s always been.

And so what I want to suggest to you is that many people, to identify with what these young Isrealite men experienced here, many people in this room feel like they’ve experienced that same thing right here in our society.

I think it’s one of those things that the older you are, the more perspective you’re going to have to offer on a subject. The younger you are, you’re probably not going to see the shift as much. But those of you who have lived in our culture and society longer are probably able to testify to a greater sense of change on many issues and subjects.

I want to suggest to you these four indicators of a declining society, and then I’ll just let you be the judge as to whether you think our nation is shifting, so that Christians who are living in America might be experiencing a similar type of change, as if they once lived in Israel, and then they got moved to Babylon.

Gold Dividing Line[00:09:36] ​

I think one of the first signs of a decline of society is that true faith is removed.

  1. True Faith is Removed
    Before you can start inserting a bunch of stuff into society that shouldn’t be there that you’ve got to take the conscience out of society–true faith is removed. I think we’ve clearly communicated to God over the last few decades that he’s not welcome in our schools, that he’s not welcome in our workplaces, that he’s not welcome in our Government, and he’s not welcome in our legal system either.

Then, for whatever reason, one of the first things that seems to fill the culture in society after faith is removed is this idea of sexual immorality rising.

  1. Sexuality Immorality Rising
    I see it all over the Bible, it’s just sort of right there soon as it happens. Romans chapter one.

For those of us who went through that, there it was, and here we see it in our culture and society as well. Do I really need to convince you of a declining sexual morality that exists in our culture?

The next thing you see is sort of an unethical behavior that becomes required,

  1. Unethical Behavior
    I’m thinking about like the workplace particularly. I’m probably one of the few people in this room who has a work environment that is still ethical. No one’s asked me to do something that I didn’t think I should do. But many of you are experiencing a work environment that’s changing.

Someone would have never asked you to do what they’re asking you to do now, or they would have asked you to do it sort of under the table, or with some sort of guilt or something like that in a subtle way.

Now it’s just much more overt. “Hey you want to climb the corporate ladder, you want to keep your job, you want to get a promotion, you want to get a pay raise? … here’s the behavior, here’s the expectation that we have for you.”

I know many of you have been forced to make some of those decisions along those lines.

I drew a line between 1-3 and #4 because I think there’s a strong argument to be said that these first three things are indeed happening, that we’re shifting to what many people refer to as a digital Babylon, a modern day Babylon in our culture and society.

Where we haven’t gotten so far is what we’re going to see in our text this morning which is number four, and I think one of the final points of a declining society is that not only you go full circle, true faith is removed to the place where false faith is required.

1. True Faith is Removed
2. Sexuality Immorality Rising
3. Unethical Behavior

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
4. False Faith is Required.

So now someone above you, a government or a law is instilled that says you must believe this, you must worship this, and it’s a false form of faith.

Gold Dividing Line[00:12:06] 

All right so let’s then move on to our passage… one last verse to kind of help set the scene so you understand what’s happening.
In Daniel 2:49, right before chapter three our narrative begins, the Scripture tells us this,

49 Moreover

Now some time has passed since these young men have been brought to Babylon, and Daniel has risen right up the ranks, he’s a pretty important person in Babylon at this point.

49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

Now this is important to realize because these three men have come to a position of leadership as well. So when the king is about to call all the important people to gather together, they show up–they’re there.

The Scripture tells us then and in Daniel chapter three verse one this… and now we’re getting into our narrative; thank you for your patience in that background. The Scripture says,

Daniel 3:1-3

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, 90 feet high and 9 feet wide,

They say a human is usually six to one in ratio… this is much different, it’s a really tall, skinny person… it’s not a statue of me in any way at all (laughter); it’s not even a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar most likely… it was most likely a statue of some sort of false god… it’s plated or covered, at the very least, in gold.

 and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

So, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they’re there… they’re invited because there now in a position of leadership.

Then a verse four it says,

4-6 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do [no one is exempt from this]: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.  Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

I guess you can’t blame the king for not having clear expectations and clear punishments that’s been set up… right?

Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

So everybody’s doing it people… everybody’s worshipping; they’re all doing exactly what they were told to do… but in verse 8,

8-12 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.  They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Oh king, live forever! [kiss up, right?] Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold,  and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

There’s a lot of text there so just in case you drifted off here’s a summary:

The king makes of decree that everyone’s going to come and worship this image he’s built when the music plays. The first time comes around the music plays, and almost everyone around bows down and worships.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have had their first opportunity to choose faith over fear.

They had a decision to make. As soon as they heard the decree they would have started talking amongst each other… “How are we going to do this… how are we going to handle this situation?”

I wonder who first had the suggestion, “Let’s not bow down and worship.” I wonder if one of them at first said, “No maybe we should!”

And so they eventually come to the conclusion that they’re going to do this thing together–they choose Faith Over Fear, not fear over faith, and they decide, decree together, form alliance with one another–we’re not going to bow down and worship this thing.

And so they make this decision.

And they would have had so many reasons, so many excuses for why they should have just done what everyone else did. Some of the very excuses that you and I come up with for why we just sort of fit into society when God would call us not to.

Of course the first one is, “Hey, everyone’s doing it.” … right? “If everyone’s doing it must not be that bad… surely God’s sense of morality is guided and directed by the majority. How could this many people get it wrong? So if everyone‘s doing it, then surely it would be OK for us to do as well.”

We might come up with the excuse that says something like, “Hey I’m trying to blend in… if I don’t follow along, I’m not going to blend in.”

Then we might use theological missional language like, “Hey I’m even trying to be incarnational… I’m just trying to fit in with the crowd and be amongst the rest of them. God doesn’t really want me to stand out.. I’m just going to fit in… I’m going to blend in.”

We might come up with an excuse that says, “But if I don’t follow the cultural norm I will be viewed as weird.” “What kind of witness, oh God, will I be for your name if everyone thinks I’m a weird person?”

We might come up with excuses to say, “But listen, I know what I’m doing outwardly, but that’s not a good reflection of what’s in my heart.”  “So why don’t we just go ahead and bow down and worship… we’ll pretend like we’re worshipping, we won’t get in trouble at all… but in our hearts we’re really only honoring God and therefore, like, we’re all in here.”

“We’ll save our lives, and God will be honored, and surely that’s OK with him.” You know that’s NOT the excuse they use… but we might say things like, “God, what good would I be to you, if I get fired… from my job?”  “What kind of representative in your workplace will I be if I get fired, or if I get kicked out of this, or if I get kicked off of that.”  

“How will I provide and give to the church and be a witness to the world if my business has to close for going against the cultural norm?”  Or the excuse that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego must have been thinking for a moment… “What good can I be to the kingdom of God here on Earth, if after all I’m put to death? “Maybe I should just bow down.”

But no, see, we’re convinced that our faith needs to move us to a place in our BIG IDEA that…
Sometimes we go against the grain of the cultural norm despite the fear that we might be experiencing.

Gold Dividing Line[00:19:12] Continue reading Faith Over Fear: Week 2

Faith Over Fear: Week 1

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [34:40]

Audio Transcript:
“Good job Debbie… but I got to say though [the song], it’s a little upbeat for a series on fear… do you know anything that’s a little scarier than that… like the Halloween theme song or Jason or something along those lines? (laughter).

Let me ask you… what is your earliest memory of being afraid? Surely we were we were afraid and experienced fear before we can remember being afraid… but let me just ask, when was your earliest memory of being afraid?

I know mine… I think I was like five years old, I’m not sure exactly, but I know I was living in our house up in Ann Arbor Michigan, and I had two older sisters. And parents, you know how it is… like, you’re kind of super cautious with your oldest kid, and then you get a little more lenient with the next kid, and each kid that comes you just start exposing to them to stuff sooner because you know part of is because your other kids are watching these things.

I had two older sisters, and I don’t think they were old enough to be watching the Halloween movies, but we were watching them, with Mike Meyers in our living room.

And there I was five years old or so and I was sitting just feet away from the T.V. by myself on a little blanket with apples and peanut butter watching this Halloween movie and my sisters were in the dark back in the back of the living room on the sofa.

And I remember the first time that I saw Mike Myers. What happened was this person gets out of the car and there’s this kind of ominous sort of scene the camera pans over and you see this guy in this white mask and he’s you know clearly after this person.

And I saw Mike Myers, and I threw my apples and peanut butter as high as I could up towards the ceiling. My mom claims I put peanut butter on the ceiling.  I don’t know, but I through these apples and peanut butter up and I turned around and I ran to my sister’s and I kind of like dove into the couch seeking some sort of refuge around them.

I know it’s not a very flattering story of me but it happened.

Needless to say, I spent many years in my childhood, often sleeping with one of my two older sisters because I was afraid at night.  In fact somewhere along the line I got the idea that I was safer sleeping in the hallway than in my bedroom. So I would grab my pillow and blanket and put it out in the hallway and sleep out there. That’s not safer, by the way, but nonetheless I did that.

Gold Dividing Line Continue reading Faith Over Fear: Week 1

Crucifixion Eve…

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [17:49]

NOTE: This Palm Sunday Service was a Choir Cantata with Pastor Dan’s message woven in. The first 3 songs were:
Amazing Love!
Lift Up Your Voice and Sing, “Hosanna!”
As You Serve, Remember Me

Pastor Dan:
“Palm Sunday is the Sunday that launches the focus of Jesus’ last week here on earth leading up, at least, until his arrest and crucifixion and ultimately his resurrection.

This is Palm Sunday which we’re celebrating in part, but then often we kind of go silent for a few days and then really things ramp up, to where we’ve moved in our service here this morning, to Thursday evening.

Thursday evening, the evening when Jesus gathered together with His disciples and had a meal with them… the evening in which Jesus would be arrested and betrayed. The eve of his crucifixion.

It’s this evening in which Jesus gathered together with His disciples and had this meal in which he took the bread, and he broke the bread in plain view of the disciples saying to them,

“This is my body which is broken for you; do this and remembrance of me.”

And then he moved on… later in the meal he took the cup, and holding it in plain view of his disciples giving thanks for the cup as well, he he held it in plain view of them saying,

“This cup represents a new covenant which is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

fc21fde7a34fabb7f7cc356e958d6e57

And so on this eve of Jesus’s crucifixion we are reminded that Jesus was not thrown off by the events of being betrayed and being arrested and then being crucified, but rather he knew it was coming.

– – – – – –
So who could blame him. Who could blame him for being maybe a little self-centered, a little inward thinking during this time, knowing all that was going to be happening to him.

And yet the Scripture repeatedly tells us that even on this evening Jesus is thinking of his disciples, those who have placed their trust in him… even during such events Jesus is thinking of folks like you and me.

He did many things to show his thought process for us and his thinking of us. The Scripture says that he showed us the full extent of his love by washing his disciples’ feet.

In John Chapter seventeen he teaches them around the table in this long wonderful discord… passionate teaching like a parent wanting to pass on this last wisdom to the child before they drop him off at college… knowing the separation is happening, he’s teaching them… letting them know that they’re going to undergo some of the difficulties that he’s about to undergo. 

– – – – – – –
And then finally he ends this teaching by praying.

He prays right there in plain view of them… that they might hear and see; like a pastoral prayer, He prays aloud. And one would think, well maybe this is the time where Jesus moves into selfishness, and he’s focused on all of his needs and concerns… and again who would be able to blame him if that was the case.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

He does pray for himself for a small period of time, and then probably three times the amount of that he shifts his prayer to the disciples who would place their faith in him and this is what the Scripture tells us he prayed. In John 17:20 Jesus says,

“My prayer is not for them alone…” [speaking of the original 12 disciples; then he says], “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 

Do you hear what that just said? … the wonder of what that means.

It means if you’re here today and you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that some two thousand years ago, on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for you.  

Now he may not have prayed for you the way you would’ve wanted him to pray for you had he asked you, “What would you like me to pray for you about?”.

Had he taken the time to ask us and say, ‘Hey what do you want me to pray for?”, many of us would have said things like, “Oh I like to get into a certain college.” or “I’d like to get a certain job… or I’d love to move into a certain house or neighborhood.”

Or maybe you’d say something admirable like, “You know I have a health concern that I’d like you to pray about Jesus.”  Or someone else’s health concern that you’d like him to pray about.

But he didn’t pray for any of those things on this particular Eve.  No, instead what he prayed for was this, in verse twenty one, 

21-23 that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and I have loved them even as you have loved me. 

Jesus comes along and of all things to pray about, he prays that you and I–that the church would be one–that we would be complete unity.

– – – – – – –
Now what does he mean by that?

Well he certainly doesn’t mean things like, “Oh by being one, that must mean we all come from the same socioeconomic background… or we all have the same political world view... or we all have the same theological opinion on every single issue… or that we all have the same ethnicity… or our skin color is all the same… or any of that stuff.

In fact the beauty of him praying for us to be one is that in having all of those things different and not in common with one another, he still is seeing that we would become one.
One in a more beautiful and profound way that meant then we might first think he meant us to be one. One in a way that says we are:

  • One in worship. Not some of us worshiping and others watching the rest worship, but all of us worshiping as one.
  • One in service. Not some of us serving and others watching others serve, but all of us one in our service.
  • One in kindness and grace. Not some of us ready to show kindness and grace and forgiveness to others.. and others unwilling. But rather all of us being willing to show that.

A oneness that is far deeper and more meaningful than perhaps the oneness that first comes to our mind.

[00:06:32] – – – – – – –

Now, speaking of which comes to our mind and I’m concerned that you’re getting the wrong idea of what Jesus means by us being one… like you’re picturing you’re having coffee with a good friend and you guys are just like one with each other.

Or maybe a twin and you finish each other’s sentences and you’re like one or something… or maybe even your spouse.
No, this is different from any other relationship… it’s the relationship that Jesus calls the church to have with one another–the standard of oneness that Jesus gives us is incredibly high.

Look at what the text says and verse twenty-one,

“just as you are in me and I am in you.”

That’s the standard for our oneness. He goes on to say in verse twenty-two,

as we are one.”

 In other words what Jesus is saying is that we are supposed to be one with one another like Jesus and the Father are one,

That’s an incredible standard isn’t it?

Jesus and the Father’s Oneness is a difficult theological thing to try to expound upon, to try to grasp. But I think that we can all just imagine that they probably had an incredible oneness and we can all probably be willing to admit quickly that we don’t always have that oneness with one another. 

That’s the standard of the oneness that he calls the church to have together. But for what purpose? For what purpose does he call us to such great Oneness?

The Scripture tells us the purposes is… (v21),

“so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

And then he goes on in verse twenty-three,

“To let the world will know that you sent me...”

So you see that the purpose of our oneness is so that we become greater, and more impactful, more effective at letting the world know about Jesus and the events that were celebrating this week, then we could as a group of individuals.  

He’s inviting us to come and to be a part of something that we would never be able to accomplish on our own;  so that our oneness is not to the end that we become a close-knit family that unintentionally closes its doors–that no one else is welcomed into. But rather the opposite:
We become a missionally sent group of people who are affective, more capable than we would be able to be on our own at letting the world know of how much Jesus loves them.

That’s why he calls us to unity into oneness. 

[00:09:06] – – – – – – – 

Whether a man or woman or child comes to relationship with Jesus is really a matter between them and God isn’t it… ultimately.  But this may be the single greatest aspect of that process that is in our ‘duty, if you will–to be one. To be one so that we can more effectively let the world know about Jesus.

Church, you should know… that we’re praying for you this morning, praying for you this week, that all of our thoughts, and our actions, and our words, move this church towards unity and oneness, so that the world may know of Jesus’s love for them. 

CHOIR INTERLUDE [00:09:57] 
Alone in the Garden He Prays
Behold the Lamb of God!

There are few people who doubt that there was a man named Jesus–a Jewish man named Jesus from the rather insignificant town of Nazareth who was crucified… crucified at the request of Jewish priests demanding his crucifixion… crucified at the request of crowds who joined them… crucified at the hands of rather indifferent Roman leaders and also crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers.

There are few people who doubt the historical reality of those events, but there are some, many actually, who make the mistake of thinking that Jesus’ value, if any at all, was found exclusively in his life.

We hear things like, “Oh Jesus was a great teacher,” or, “Jesus was a wonderful prophet, he came to sort of show us the way.”  And then they make the conclusion that in him being crucified that his death was really just the outcome of being so significant in society, of standing out from the norm, like a Martin Luther King Jr who comes along, whose value is found in his life, and who’s put to death merely as a result of going against the grain.

Many people think of Jesus that way.

Others might come along and make the mistake of thinking of Jesus’ value, that it’s found exclusively in his death. Some who’ve been brought up in the church have been taught that Jesus’s death is impactful and significant to them, and certainly it is. But the real value is found in when we bring the two–Jesus’ life and his death together, and we begin to realize that the one being punished to death is the only one whose life deserved no such penalty.

What shall we say in this matter?

Should we should we declare that God is unjust then? Should we declare that God is somehow unjust for allowing Jesus to be crucified… he who had done no sin?

Well certainly we would have to declare God to be unjust if Jesus was being crucified for no sin at all. But it is the Scripture that tells us not that he was crucified for his mistakes and sins, but rather for ours. 

And so we see that Jesus’ actions are designed to accomplish our forgiveness.

And if there’s any seed of doubt for us, wondering whether or not Jesus has really accomplish your forgiveness through His death on the Cross, we might allow his words on the cross to drive away that doubt, for here’s what Jesus said while being crucified.

It is the Scripture that tells us in Luke 23:32-34, that,

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.  When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

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To clarify who Jesus is speaking about when he seeks their forgiveness,

  • he’s speaking about all those around him who have participated in the process of him being crucified;
  • he’s speaking of the Jewish leaders who unjustly ran a trial against him, who spoke lies against him, who stirred up the crowds and demanded that he be crucified;
  • he’s speaking of those in the crowd who joined their leadership and also chanted for Jesus’ crucifixion;
  • he’s speaking of the Roman officials who had the power to stop this from happening but did not;
  • he’s speaking of the Roman soldiers who actually carried out Jesus’s crucifixion.

And Jesus says of these people, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

I mean the mere fact that Jesus was praying this prayer; the mere fact that what this reveals about the character of Jesus and the character of God, should give us a greater sense of confidence that we have indeed been forgiven.  [00:14:19]

I mean for when we mess up against another person in life, it’s usually all we can do to somehow encourage them that they should desire to forgive us, let alone whether or not they’ll actually be able to forgive us. 

I mean not only should Jesus’ words in seeking their forgiveness give us confidence in our forgiveness, but also, as we go through the Scripture, we begin to see that Jesus’ prayer here is actually answered. 

There’s a Scripture that tells us in passages like Matthew 27:54 that the Roman centurion and the soldiers involved in this process, some of them come to faith in GodHere’s what the Scripture says, Matthew 27:54.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Here’s Jesus’ prayer for those around him to be forgiving starting to be answered.

We go on in Acts 6:7, we ask ourselves what about the Jewish priest, what about the leaders who really made this thing happen to Jesus? Surely they might be somehow excluded… maybe Jesus wasn’t thinking about them. And here’s what the Scripture tells us,

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

It’s not only encouraging when we think of our own forgiveness, and wrestle with our own forgiveness to think that Jesus saidFather forgive them” of those who were crucifying him, but it’s even all the more encouraging to start to see Jesus’ prayer in this way answered and unfolding.

For some people in our lives have desired to forgive us before, but they haven’t had the character to do so. And here we are reminded that Jesus not only reflects the forgiving character of God in his desire for us to be forgiven, but that it becomes a reality in our lives as well.

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Let me ask you this morning church… what have you done that is worse than being involved in the crowd that crucified Jesus Christ?

What have you done, if Jesus can say to them, “Father forgive them, that he’s unwilling to say to you, “Father forgive her… father forgive him.”

I know some of you have made mistakes in your life in the past that have maybe been haunting you now for decades. Others of you are struggling with sin in your life in such a way that you are really beginning to question whether or not you’ve crossed the line… whether or not Jesus’ words are no longer applicable for you. And that struggle with sin, the sin you’ve made in the past, the devil, the enemy has used as a footstool, and he’s begun to speak into your head and into your life that these words that Jesus says, don’t apply to you.

And we want you to know this morning, that we are praying for this congregation, praying for you, that by the grace of God, louder so much louder than what the enemy would say to you on this matter, you would hear Jesus saying,

“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

CHOIR CLOSING
How Can it Be?
Christ Is Risen, Sing Alleluia!

 

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